Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Indoor Cycling - How To Build An Aerobic Base

As a guy in his mid-40's, I've come to appreciate the benefits of lower impact aerobic exercise. Twenty years ago, my joints bounced right back after 4 mile runs or a vigorous step aerobics class. Those days are long gone now, and the results from consistent indoor cycling and spinning classes have been encouraging.

One major benefit I've noticed after adding indoor cycling to my workout regimen has been an increased energy level. If you've ever gotten drowsy at your desk mid afternoon, you know exactly what I mean. Another significant benefit has been decreased tension and much more restful sleep. And yet, it wasn't easy to consistently commit to these classes. In fact, I almost quit just after I started.

If you're just getting back into working out aerobically after a long layoff, you'll need to reacclimate. A key element is a concept called aerobic base building, which basically means establishing a base level of aerobic fitness. Just as it's important to build a solid foundation for your house, it's equally important for your fitness level.

Three Steps To Build Your Base

There are three factors you'll need to consider, and accept, when building your aerobic base. With indoor cycling, you'll typically have display monitors telling you how hard and how long you're working, which is quite helpful. The same is true with spinning classes, as most instructors have built in "check points" during the class to monitor exertion level. Let's look at each of the three factors.

Step One: Your Target Heart Rate

First, you'll need to know your target heart rate. Your target heart rate is a range that's 65% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. Determining your maximum heart rate is easy -- just subtract your age from 220. Then, multiply that rate by 65% to get the lower end of your target rate, and by 80% to get the upper end. As an example, I'm 46, so my maximum heart rate is 174. 65% of 174 is 113, and 80% of 174 is 139. That means I should strive to pedal at an exertion level that makes my heart beat between 113 and 139 times per minute.

Step Two: Commit To A Time Frame

Expect to build your aerobic base over a 6 to 8 week time frame, possibly longer if you've been inactive for a while. Plan to gradually challenge yourself so you can maintain your target heart rate for a longer period of time. Remember, the longer you work out at your target zone, the more fat you'll burn.

Step Three: Endurance And Intensity

Once you've built your aerobic base and know your target heart rate, it's time to challenge yourself a bit. Try to add to the length of time you work out, or push yourself a bit harder. You'll find as you become more fit, you'll need to challenge yourself to reach your target heart rate. That's a good thing! It means your heart is healthier, you've attained increased cardiac output, and you're more fit overall.

The benefits you'll realize from any aerobic activity are numerous, and they'll impact your life in a very positive way. If you're concerned about high impact activities like jogging or stair climbing, add a spinning class to your workout. It's low impact, effective, and enjoyable!

Jim Hofman recently added spinning classes to his workout regiment, and the results have been extremely positive, including weight loss and increased energy levels. To make sure you're getting the maximum benefit from your aerobic workouts, be sure to visit Jim's recommended resource site devoted to indoor cycling .