Aerobic training has been relied upon for shedding unwanted pounds – in fact exercise at 60.2 to 80% of the maximal heart rate has been shown to illicit maximal fat oxidation (Carey, 2009). To better understand training heart rates let us take a look at the average adult in the table below.
This average adult is male, 24 years of age and weighing about 175lbs with a resting heart rate of 72 beats per minute would need to exercise at a target heart rate zone between 146-171 beats per minute. Unfortunately stopping to check heart rate frequently through exercise is counter-intuitive: if you have a heart rate monitor, great, if not that is fine. Heart rate can also be quite variable – having coffee or not being hydrated well can add variability to the measure of heart rate.
Borg’s Scale of Perceived Exertion
The alternative is utilizing the Borg’s scale of perceived exertion. This scale is highly correlated with heart rate reserve and has shown to be quite useful in prescribing exercise intensity. One major benefit is it is easily understood. Below is an example of the scale – you can keep a picture of it on your phone to remind you of how you should feel during your aerobic work. Think of the green zone as your lean zone, as that is how you need to feel during your aerobic workout and this can be sustained for long periods of time.
Now for the programming, you have intensity down with the Borg’s scale of Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) now it is time to progress your program by varying the duration. Hop on the treadmill as this is by far one of the best machines out there – it is low impact so it will save your joints, especially if you are and should be lifting some substantial amount of weight with your resistance training. The treadmill will beat you up a lot less than running!
The average person walks three miles per hour so you better walk at that speed or preferably faster. Now crank up the incline of the treadmill and go! Every 5 minutes take a look at the Borg scale and see how you feel. If you do not feel in the green zone, kick up the speed and/or incline and repeat. When you get to the green zone stay there and continue until you reach 30 minutes of exercise, decrease the speed and incline and cool down for 5 minutes for a complete 35 minute workout.
Take note of the speed and incline that is what you will continue with for the next session. Try to get a minimum of 3-4 sessions a week.
Progressing LISS Training
Now that you have the workout it is time to progress! After you have completed your 2 weeks of the 3-4 sessions add 5 minutes to your duration of the workout – don’t forget to do the 5 minute cooldown. Don’t cheat yourself – and don’t hold on to the rails of the treadmill! Keep an eye on the Borg scale and you will begin to notice that it is getting easier: you can now sing the songs on your iPod, which means your body is adapting to the stimulus. If you notice you are out if the green zone crank that incline and/or speed up, but not the duration at the same time.
Remember this is not a jog or run it is an uphill hike, so I suggest put a backpack on with a couple of books or purchase a load trainer Sorinex makes a great one that loads over a 100 pounds so that gives you endless possibilities of increasing intensity. However, you need to increase your duration slowly and play around with duration exceeding 45 minutes before you start increasing intensity.
Sample LISS Training Program
Here is a sample program that one individual ran through. This individual was a beginner started with a 3.2 MPH speed and a 6.5 percent grade they started with a 30 minute workout and recorded the highest RPE (rating of perceived exertion) of a 14 or 70% of their proposed heart rate reserve.
They completed 3 sessions every week for 2 weeks before increasing the total workout time by 5 minutes. By week 7-8 they reported a lower RPE so they increased their speed to 3.4 at an 8.5 incline keeping the duration at 45 minutes for another 2 weeks before increasing the duration to 50 minutes. This is a great example of progression for a beginner but if any of you follow these simple rules you can develop a great treadmill hiking program or other aerobic training programs to enhance fat oxidation.
Carey, D.G. (2009) Quantifying differences in the “fat burning” zone and the aerobic zone: Implications for training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(7) 2090- 2095.