Earlier this week, I received a cry for help. This is normal because as free athletes strive to improve, they look to others for guidance. I have completed over 1000 Free Athlete workouts and so I know exactly how you feel when you believe you have hit a plateau in your training. When I received the following email from a close friend of mine, Richard Kingue Kouta in the UK, it got me thinking…. how can my experience help not just Richard, but the whole Free Athlete community? I believe the answer lies in cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Read Richard’s email below and if you can relate to it, read on and discover some of my fast-track “secrets” to achieving a new PERSONAL BEST!
“HEEELP PLEASE! I want to be able to do an Aphrodite in 21 min by Saturday 30th May. Why 21 min? Because my really good friend Ryan is doing it in that time and he is proper fit so if I don’t catch up now I never will. So I need a plan! My current PB is 26 minutes. I think I need specific training to achieve 21 minutes and so I need your help! When I analyse my performance there is some obvious obstacles I need to overcome. When I do 50 burpees, at around rep 20 I become out of breath, my arms become tired and I need a break. When I do the 50 squats, around rep 25, I need a break. So my plan is to do 50 push-ups every day first thing in the morning as well as 50 burpees and 100 squats. To build up my breathing endurance I plan to run 5k every other day. Start for the first 3 sessions with 3k then the next 3 sessions with 4k then 5k until I reach the end of May. All of this on the top of my coach training that I will do 4 times a week. I think this help me achieve my 21 min Aphrodite goal. What do you think? Any advice? Do you think I can do it”
Richard Kingue Kouta
Well… Richard, the good news is you clearly have the desire to improve and you have a plan too – that’s half the battle! The good news is this problem is not only yours as it affects all the athletes, whatever level they are. To win the other half of the battle, you need to work on improving both your cardiovascular and your muscular endurance. First let’s get to grip with these conceps…
CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE vs. MUSCULAR ENDURANCE
Cardiovascular Endurance – the ability of the heart to provide oxygen to muscles during physical activity for a prolonged period of time.
The strength of your heart is determined by your cardiovascular endurance. It’s common sense that the heart is the most important muscle in the human body. If it is healthy it can potentially add years to your life and help you avoid numerous health problems. Another reason that cardiovascular endurance is so important is that your heart controls the amount of oxygen that flows to all your muscles. This means that cardiovascular health has a direct impact on both your endurance and strength performance.
The good news is your cardiovascular endurance can be improved! The heart, like any other muscle, can be exercised and will adapt to new workloads put upon it.
It is actually surprisingly easy for you to improve your cardiovascular endurance. All it takes is some weekly sessions exercising within your target heart rate zone. Yes you can jog 5km on a daily basis Richard, it will definitely help too but it is not enough. Your exercise plan needs to be more targeted and more specific. Read on and I will show how but first, cardiovascular endurance is only half the story… the other half is Muscular Endurance!
Muscular Endurance- the ability of a muscle to do continuous work over a long period of time
Muscular endurance is extremely important for people doing sports that involve sustaining an activity for a long period of time. Muscular endurance is determined by how well your slow twitch muscle fibers are developed. In case you are wondering what slow twitch muscle fibers are, please let me explain. Our body consists of two types of muscle fibers, slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch muscle fibers cannot exert as much force as fast twitch, but can sustain an effort over a much greater period of time. Fast twitch muscle fibers can exert a great amount of force but for a very limited amount of time. Therefore, slow twitch equals endurance, while fast twitch equals strength.
In Freeletics we need both Cardiovascular and Muscular endurance if we want to start smashing out new PB’s. Some exercises depend more on one than on the other. The push-ups, sit-ups, levers and pull-ups are basically Muscular Endurance exercises as it is the targeted muscles involved in each exercise that run out of breath rather than your lungs. Here athletes face a basic problem – the limited muscle capacity to re-oxygenate. This can be worked out and developed. On the other hand we have exercises such as high jumps, sprints and runs which are basically all related to Cardiovascular Endurance because your lungs will start to scream at you as you breathe and your heart will feel like it is about to explode but your muscles will generally feel manageable.
Burpees are a great option when you want to train both types of endurance. However, at some point both cardiovascular and muscle endurance can fail. This happens because you lose control of your heart rate which can leave you out of breathe and devoid of strength because your heart can no longer pump enough the oxygen to your muscle for you to sustain the effort. Once more, the good news is that this can be worked out and developed. Depending on the length of your training/workout you will need to exercise your heart in relation to your unique targeted heart rate zone. You may wonder what heart rate zone means – well let’s move on and I will explain…
YOUR TARGET HEART RATE
Every athlete can calculate Maximum Heart Rate and corresponding training zones. No one wants to go too easy on a cardio booster training or to fast in a long workout, right?
So, let’s first find our Maximum Heart Rate with the simplest method. Subtract your age from 220 if you are a man or from 226 if you are a woman. To find your training zone you just need to multiply the found number by the heart rate zones limits (see below).
There are other methods but let’s keep it simple for now. Your target heart rate (depending on your workout) should now depend on the desired Heart Rate Zone
HOW TO MEASURE YOUR HEART RATE
You could also keep it simple here. Just feel your heart beat in your carotid artery by placing your index finger on the side of your neck between the middle of your collar bone and your jaw line. You can count the number of heart beats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4, you now have your Beats Per Minute (BPM). Ideally and for accuracy it may also be worth investing in a heart rate monitor – there are many available to buy and they will really help you on your journey. If you are serious about being the best Free Athlete you can be, this could be one of the best investments that you make.
HEART RATE ZONES
- Healthy Heart Zone (Warm up) — 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate: This is the easiest zone and the best for beginners to start. May also be good for warm up;
- Fitness Zone (Fat Burning) — 60 – 70% of maximum heart rate: This zone provides the same benefits as the healthy heart zone, but is more intense and burns more total calories;
- Endurance Zone (Aerobic Training) — 70 – 80% of maximum heart rate: The aerobic zone will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system AND increase the size and strength of your heart. Ideal when you have to face long workouts;
- Performance Zone (Anaerobic Training) — 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate: Benefits of this zone include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardio-respiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you’ll be able to fight fatigue better. Ideal for shorter workouts;
- Red Line (Maximum Effort) — 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this zone burns the highest number of calories, it is very intense. Let’s avoid this zone for now.
So back to Richard and his email. I’d say we have had a lot of workouts recently don’t you think, especially following the recent Goliaz Challenge! So, Goliaz have listened to you again. You are eager for new challenges, but you also want to learn more about yourselves and improve your performances.
We have asked you: do you want to beat your personal best? Your answer was a loud and clear “YES”!! Ok, let’s do it. In the Goliaz Challenge you will be asked to perform a few daily duties, and send some reports so we can help you improve both your cardiovascular and muscular endurance. These duties should be performed daily between the 4th of May, Monday, and the 29th of May, Friday. The day when you will finally go for your great PB will be Saturday, 30th of May.
Personal Best Training has 4 different exercises: Jumping Jacks; Burpees; Sit-ups and Straight Leg Levers. So the daily duties will of course have something to do with these 4 exercises. You can repeat the duties as often as you like, but the minimum is as shown in the following board:
Please notice that this is just a plan. During the challenge some daily duties may be slightly different. In order to complete these daily duties you will need a heart rate monitor and a pacer. Some heart rate monitors already have a pacer incorporated. It is a metronome with alerts. This metronome should be set to 60 beats per minute with alerts every 6 seconds. We will start from here. If the heart rate monitor does not include a metronome you will need to get one. One of the best solutions is to download one for free from both the ios App Store or from the android Play Store, the app Maelz Sport.
In the pic it is set to 6 beeps. Where you see the number 60 it means that you will hear 60 beeps per minute. A higher beep represented by the blue circle and 5 more beeps represented by the orange circles. So, if, for example, Richard was training burpees he would do a burpee at second 0, at second 6, at second 12, etc…
If for any reason you don’t have a heart rate monitor and/or a pacer you can still join the Challenge but you may find the results will be limiting.
INTERACTING WITH GOLIAZ
First you will need to sign in the challenge. You will send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with following details:
– Your name in the Freeletics app;
– Your age and gender;
– Your Email;
– Your actual personal best.
If for example you haven’t completed the personal best workout yet then please ensure you have done it before 4th of May as this will become your reference and your time to beat.
Then go to our Facebook event and join in all the fun, discussions and support.
Everyday you will receive a pic in Facebook event page by GOLIAZ with instructions on how to proceed the next day. The required feedback from your side will be posted by you in that same pic as a comment.
So you can have a better idea on how this interaction should be please have a look at the following pic…
By the time you have completed this challenge you should have a much better understanding of how your cardiovascular system works. You will be able to quantify your progress, calculate your Target Heart Rate Zones (and stay there) and be able to subsequently increase your pace as you develop your internal systems through your workouts. In addition, you will find your rest periods will shorten as your cardio endurance and muscular endurance improves. Your body will begin to re-oxidate itself more efficiently and you will be able to beat your PB’s time and time again!
BEAT YOURSELF AND GET A NEW PERSONAL BEST!!