The lyrics from the popular 1965 song “What the World Needs Now is Love” with lyrics by Hal David still ring true today. Maybe the world does need more love; but in the fitness community what we really need is time, sweet time. Luckily, time is more available now that we’re all exercising at home. Keeping our bodies in healthy maintenance mode or in peak athletic form requires plenty of attention, cardiovascular work, strength training, flexibility, recovery and repair. The fitness cycle takes time, and we can help you maximize what workout time you do have.
Efficient Cardio Workout
The best way to maximize your cardiovascular workout is with a heart rate monitor that allows you to monitor in real time. Your unique metabolic response to a workout varies depending on the activity (running, cycling, rowing, hiking, walking, etc.) and intensity of your workout. Intensity determines how hard and for how long you commit to a given workout, and is different for everyone – and due to many factors, the level of intensity your body can handle also fluctuates from day to day. With a little science and a handy device, you can take a lot of the guesswork out of your cardio workout training and how hard you can (and should) push your intensity.
The MYZONE belt is a heart rate monitoring device that straps around your chest and pairs with any Bluetooth device, giving you real-time feedback during your workouts on your phone, smart watch or on a screen during your workout in the club. MYZONE not only monitors your heart rate during exercise, but also gives you training zones based off of your maximum heart rate (MHR). These color-coded zones are designed to line up with your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) on a scale of 1 to 10. The working heart rate zones are grey, which is 50% to 59% of your maximum exertion, blue (60% to 69%), green (70% to 79%), yellow (80% to 89%) and red (90% to 100% of your MHR). Your RPE is designed to line up with these zones so a 6 out of 10 would be blue zone, and 8 out of 10 would be your yellow zone, and so forth. When you pair your heart rate with approximate training zones and your individual rate of perceived exertion, you are now armed with enough knowledge to maximize your cardio workouts.
How Much Time Do I Need?
When I was training endurance athletes one of the most important questions I would ask them is, “how much time do you have to train?” The amount of time you have should dictate your workouts. I would group them in three categories:
- Group 1: Less than five hours a week
- Group 2: 5-10 hours a week
- Group 3: 10 hours+ a week
Depending on which group they were in would determine how many, how long and at what intensity level their workouts would be. Most were triathletes and cyclists who had 5 to 10 hours a week; some had more but not much more than 12 to 15 hours a week. That may sound like a lot, but it was appropriate considering many were doing half or full Ironman races, and the cyclists were in races two to three hours long for two to three consecutive days. The group with less than five hours to dedicate to their fitness still wanted to do some of these events, but simply didn’t have the time to train. How Can I Maximize My Workout Time?
When faced with how to manage the time you can commit to working out, here are some guidelines that can help determine a reasonable amount to take those quick workouts to their max.
Group 1, with less than five hours a week, you need to up the intensity. High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is a cardio exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods. If you are short on time and you want the most impact out of your quick workouts, this is the one for you.
If you are in Group 2, consider a more traditional periodization training plan as you plan out your workouts for the month. Periodization incorporates all zones during training: easy recovery (grey/blue zone) with tempo/aerobic (green/yellow) and hard anaerobic workouts (red). I would recommend 70-80% of your workouts to be in the green/yellow zone and 10-20% in the red zone; use the rest for recovery (grey/blue). Use these percentages for the month, not the individual workout – for example, if you have 10 cardiovascular workouts, seven to eight should be in the green/yellow zone, one to two should be in the red zone and one to two in the blue zone, depending on how you feel.
If you’re in Group 3 and have more than 10 hours to train, great! I recommend following a similar plan to Group 2, with a minor tweak: I would add more recovery time. Because of the added training time, your body needs more time to recover.
The bottom line is that a heart rate monitor like the MYZONE belt is a training tool designed to help you maximize your workouts; however, don’t get too focused on the numbers from day to day. It’s important to look at the overall picture and mostly to have fun with it! Whether you are working out every day, or a few times a week, you can maximize your time at home.
At the Village we’re here to help you meet and exceed your fitness goals! Follow us on Social Media for fitness videos and tips you can try at home! You can also check out our easy to follow infographic on beating a fitness plateau here.