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Aerobic Base Building

The first step to reaching progress in your fitness level is to create a base of aerobic fitness, known as Aerobic Base Building. Aerobic refers to the energy created using the oxygen system, and base building refers to building a base from which one can later advance from. To build an aerobic base, you must exercise in the aerobic range, gradually adding more duration to absorb the training effectively.


You should commit to an aerobic base building period for 612 weeks when you are just beginning an exercise program, returning after a break from training, or recovering from an injury or overtraining. The longer the lapse in exercise, the longer the base building period should be.


Aerobic base building workouts should be at a heart rate range of approximately 65%–75% maximum heart rate. Using a heart rate monitor is critical because it provides immediate, continuous, accurate feedback.


To calculate your aerobic heart rate range, you can use the age-predicted formula to estimate your maximum heart rate: 220 – age. Example: If you are 30 years old, your estimated max heart rate is 190 BPM. From there, multiply 190 x 65% and 80% to get a range of 123 to 152 BPM. For more information on heart rates, see the Target Heart Rate handout.

By using a heart rate monitor during all workouts and focusing on aerobic training, you’ll enjoy numerous benefits:

  • Increased fat metabolism: The body prefers fat for fuel when exercising at aerobic heart rates.
  • Better performance: Aerobic exercise improves VO2max (oxygen use during exercise), the chief predictor of endurance performance.
  • Stronger immune system: The immune system can be strengthened with exercise because it helps to increase the number of macrophages and T-cells. Research shows that by increasing these “fighter” cells in the immune system, you may have better protection against diseases like cancer.
  • Increased resistance to fatigue: The more effective the heart is as a pump, the better it is at providing oxygen to the body. Better oxygenation translates to improved energy.
  • Lowered risk of heart disease: Aerobic exercise has been found to have positive effects on all controllable risk factors of heart disease, including blood pressure and total serum cholesterol.
  • Decreased tension and aid in sleeping: Exercise creates and improves balance in the body. Hormones are in better balance and tension is reduced, creating a better environment for rest.
  • Increased general stamina: The stronger the heart is, the less work it has to do over time to produce the same cardiac output. With less work comes greater endurance.
  • Psychological benefits: It is well documented that 30 minutes of exercise per day improves mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.


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