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Why are you doing that?
Every time you put on your training kit you should know why you’re doing the workout that you’re about to do. What’s your goal? If you’re just about do an hour on the cross trainer then why are you doing it? If your answer is “To get fit” then perhaps you could make that goal a little more focused.
Which component of fitness are you working on?
- Muscular endurance
- Anaerobic fitness
- Aerobic fitness
- Reaction time
- Mental fitness
- Body composition / weight management
If, like many people, it’s body composition / weight management then why have you chosen to do an hour? Why the cross trainer? Why that intensity level? Why that frequency?
You need to know two things?
1, What’s my goal?
2, Why have I selected this workout (type of exercise, intensity level, duration)?
If you don’t know the answer to these questions then how do you know that what you’re doing is effective? If you were driving southbound on a London motorway trying to get to Aberdeen, you’d be wasting your time. Equally, if you’re a 13 stone woman doing 3o minutes steady cardio on the exercise bike every day and expecting to get “toned” then you’ll be waiting a while! Let’s take an extreme example. You only want to use the exercise bike – no weights, circuits or anything else. Your goal is to get “toned” and your diet is in check. Instead of spending 30 minutes 3 times a week doing steady state cardio, why not look at the fitness components that you could develop using only an exercise bike.
A: 1km sprint as fast as possible
B: Using 80% of your 1km speed, keep that intensity up for as long as possible. Repeat 3 times with a 3 minute break between each set
C: Tabata at level 6 (20 seconds all out / 10 seconds rest. Repeat 8 times)
A: 5 second intervals at max effort on level 15 with 25 seconds rest between each interval. Repeat 6 times. Rest 5 minutes. Repeat 3 times
A: 10 second intervals at max effort on level 15 with 25 seconds rest between each interval. Repeat 3 times. Rest 5 minutes. Repeat 3 times
B: 1km sprint as fast as possible on level 15
C: 6 reps at level 20. Repeat 10 times with a 60 second rest between each set
A: Cycle 15km
B: Cycle 15km at level 7
A: Tabata at level 6 (20 seconds all out / 10 seconds rest. Repeat 8 times). This also works speed!)
B: Intervals at 80-90% of your Max Heart Rate
C: Cycle for as long as possible at 80-90% of your Max Heart Rate
A, Steady cycle for 30-60 minutes at 70-80% of your Max Heart Rate
A: Determination – Pick a workout that will test/improve this area
B: Well Being – Pick a workout that will test/improve this area
C: Positivity – Pick a workout that will test/improve this area
Variety is the key here. A good combination of the above, working at 60-100% of your Max Heart Rate will help you to achieve this faster.
So, you can see that with a specific goal and a plan you can achieve your outcomes a lot faster. If you just “push hard” all the time you might build muscle endurance or anaerobic capacity and end up lacking in aerobic fitness and strength. If you take it easy then your body will adapt very quickly. In we use the bench press as another example and your goal is to look good but you’re going heavy and locking out on a bench press then you might miss out on potential faster hypertrophy gains.
Here are a few more examples to help you think more critically about what you’re trying to achieve when you plan a session.
100 squats @ 40kg – Leg endurance / increase blood lactate threshold / aerobic capacity
5 squats @ 120kg – Leg strength with crossover into hypertrophy
20 squats @ 70kg – Leg endurance with crossover into strength and hypertrophy / anaerobic capacity / increase blood lactate threshold
1km run @ 5 min km pace – Aerobic capacity / muscle memory / technique
1km run @ 4 min km pace – Aerobic capacity into anaerobic / mental strength / speed over 1km distance / increase blood lactate threshold / muscle memory / mental strength
1km run @ 3.30 min km pace – Anaerobic capacity / mental strength / speed over 1km distance / increase blood lactate threshold / muscle memory
So, there you have it. In a nutshell, ask yourself these questions:
1, What’s your goal?
2, Why have you chosen this workout (type of exercise, intensity level, duration) to meet your goal?