It’s been over three months since we launched the End7ess SoulSports Club on Strava. In the meantime, we have grown to 35 members, many of whom have become regular recreational athletes following the initial requirement of weekly exercise according to the formula of 4 hours and 30 minutes / 6 exercises per week.
This is an optimal requirement, neither too big nor too small, and anyone can fulfill it, especially since there are no additional requirements for the type of training or special results. So, all that is needed is to record some exercise, from stretching and yoga asanas to walking to more serious training such as running, cycling, or using indoor tools when the weather is bad.
The first phase of entering a special exercise regime for the zone is thus fulfilled. The body is used to the weekly routine, and now it’s time for small training adjustments. In the second phase (which can last from three to six months), we maintain the established training rhythm but introduce varied training.
The soulathlete now relies more on their sports watch and adjusts the type of training so that within the existing six (or more) workouts, they have different loads on the body measured according to the average heart rate during the exercise. One of the problems with exercise is that people love a certain type of physical activity, so they tend to focus only on it. That in itself might not be the biggest problem because enjoying exercise is an important part of the story (there’s no point in doing something you don’t like). Although it is certainly better to insert some other type of exercise here and there, a bigger “mistake” is training at the same intensity.
The goal of the second phase of training the body to experience the zone is to introduce different types of training per week according to the average heart rate.
Let’s repeat the basics of calculating heart zones in an example.
First, you need to determine your maximum heart rate. The simplest accepted method is subtracting the number of years (your age) from 220. Another more precise way is to look at the highest maximum heart rate number if you have the statistics of your workouts. To be safe, you can reduce that number by a couple of beats and calculate the heart zones according to that number (namely, it is never good to spend too much time near the maximum, so there is no harm in reducing it a little). Sports watches usually calculate this maximum themselves using the 220-age formula, but you can manually change it in the watch or app you’re using. Also, the watches themselves will determine the heart zones from 1 to 5, but it is good that you also understand what it is about.
So you have some number that says how many times your heart can beat per minute under a heavy load. For example, let’s say it’s 180 (either you’re 40 years old or in such condition that your heart can handle it, whether you’re older or younger). So your maximum is 180.
First, divide that by two, and you get 90. Anything below 90 beats is not considered training (although in our case it can be considered exercise called “recovery” and will occur during exercises like yoga or stretching).
Then, divide the upper part of the range into five parts (in this case they will be ranges of 18 beats each). In this way, you have five heart training zones. In this example:
the first zone, from 91 to 108
the second zone, 109 to 126
the third zone, from 127 to 144
fourth zone, from 145 to 162
fifth zone, from 163 to 180
Every sports watch, even the simplest one, calculates the average heart rate after exercise. This is the number we are interested in and according to which we are now adjusting the type of training. By “type” I do not mean the type of exercise (although it is good to change activities if you want you can do only one kind, say running) but the intensity of the exercise.
Here’s our plan for the next three to six months. We start from the basic weekly rhythm. We got four hours and thirty minutes by adding the time of basic training sessions: one longer training session per week of two hours plus five shorter training sessions lasting at least half an hour. Of course, in practice, this fluctuates and is variable, but it is useful as a guide.
Longer workout should be held in a second heart zone (less is insufficient, more is unnecessary).
Five shorter workout sessions remain (from thirty to forty-five minutes), and they are distributed as follows:
One workout should be highly aerobic, which means in the upper limits of the fourth zone, possibly at the beginning of the fifth. Watches usually mark such training as VO2 max training, which is very intense.
One workout should be aerobic with an average heart rate in the third zone. The ideal length also ranges from half an hour to forty-five minutes.
One workout should be low aerobic with an average heart rate in the second zone.
At least one workout should be a recovery workout with an average heart rate in the first zone or lower. This can be achieved, for example, by walking or yoga exercises. You can do recovery training more than once a week; in fact, it is good to do more of them.
One training should be anaerobic. It is a type of training in which activity and rest are alternated (at intervals of half a minute to three or four minutes). Anaerobic training can be very different. For example, calisthenics and exercise without weights and equipment using only your body weight (push-ups, squats, sit-ups, lunges of various kinds, etc.) will give you a low-intensity anaerobic workout (cardiovascular will climb up to the second or third zone, and then back to first or lower). The so-called HIIT training (high-intensity interval training) will give you a high-intensity anaerobic workout where the heart rate will go up to the fifth zone or even the maximum, then down to the second or first. Of course, each training has its benefits, and you will choose what suits you or what you can do. But, when it comes to anaerobic training, purely for information, one of their benefits is FAT BURNING in the body. Aerobic training doesn’t burn fat (so you don’t lose weight) but calories (sometimes you can gain weight if you ONLY exercise like that because you’re hungrier than usual).
But, regardless of the details (there are details!), they are not so crucial when it comes to creating the experience of the zone. After getting your body used to a routine, it is now crucial to get it used to various exercise intensities.
Of course, if you’re an athlete and you’re training to achieve certain results, you’ll probably need to add some special workouts, but even then, maintaining this basic routine will give you excellent results. The described regime is in accordance with the accepted norms of exercise and fitness, it is safe (especially be careful not to overdo it with high aerobic training and possibly high-intensity anaerobic training) and over time it will turn your body into a source of health and enjoyment of movement.
Let’s repeat: from now on, we try to schedule our basic six training sessions per week like this:
Unfortunately, we don’t have statistics on Strava to track this together, so tracking and implementation are left to each of you. But, that’s why we can comment and talk, and if you have questions, I’m available.
Good luck, and meet you there, in the zone!