Improve your aerobic core: Examples for cycling and running
When we are about to start a new season in almost any sport, but especially in those called endurance sports, is when what many call the aerobic core becomes more important. But what does this term really mean?
Let’s start with the word “aerobic”. When we speak of sport or physical activity, this word refers to the way in which energy is obtained for muscular work. Aerobic means that energy is obtained through physiological processes in which, in addition to nutrients, a significant amount of oxygen is used. For this to be possible, it is necessary that the exercise is not too high intensity for the exerciser. Moreover, the lower the intensity, the more oxygen is used to obtain energy and vice versa, the higher the intensity, the more “anaerobic” the exercise becomes and the less oxygen is used.
1. Aerobic core…Why?
Una vez sabemos qué significa este término, algunos os preguntaréis porqué se asegura que es importante crear o construir esa base cuando comenzamos cualquier plan de entrenamiento y especialmente una nueva temporada. El motivo es que las adaptaciones fisiológicas que produce entrenar con ejercicios fundamentalmente aeróbicos se mantienen en un plazo más largo de tiempo que las que provocan los ejercicios anaeróbicos pero, además, disponer de esas adaptaciones provocadas por el ejercicio aeróbico nos predispone a soportar mejor y rendir más en los entrenamientos más intensos que se realizan en fases posteriores de cualquier plan de preparación física o temporada.
Having a better aerobic base allows us to better counteract the fatigue produced by high-intensity exercise, accelerates recovery between training sessions and, of course, allows us to sustain a certain pace for a longer period of time. For all these reasons, aerobic work is considered to be the “core” or foundation of any sports performance and that is why, in most cases, a physical preparation program is started.
2. At which intensities?
The intensity at which the famous aerobic core is worked will differ from case to case, especially depending on the fitness and sporting level of each person. The more highly trained tend to work aerobically at slightly higher intensities and those with lower levels of training should train at a lower intensity to ensure they do so aerobically.
Anyway, and as a general recommendation, we could say that the base is worked between 70% and 80% of the maximum heart rate or 90% of the heart rate at your anaerobic threshold. Although both options can be useful, we recommend working preferably on the basis of a percentage of pulse with respect to the anaerobic threshold, as it will always be more adjusted to your fitness level than if it is done with respect to the maximum pulse.
This heart rate reference will work for any endurance athlete training with a heart rate monitor, runners, triathletes and some cyclists, but what about cyclists training with a power meter? They should work their aerobic base, in general, in what is called Z2 or what is the same, between the power that represents 65% to 75% of their anaerobic threshold.
Depending on the level of fitness, it is recommended to dedicate between 8 and 12 weeks to work on the base, with shorter periods for those in better shape and longer periods for athletes in poorer condition or with less experience.
3. How to do it in running?
Given that the aerobic base is worked at the beginning of the season, as we have mentioned, in running it is necessary to consider doing runs where it is easier to control the intensity avoiding that the heart rate rises excessively. For that, we can consider:
1. Running on flat terrain
2. Preferably on the ground to reduce joint impact
3. For very low fitness levels, sessions alternating 10 minutes of gentle running + 5 minutes walking. For a total of a 40-minute session.
4. For moderate fitness levels, 30-minute sessions between 80% and 90% of anaerobic threshold heart rate.
5. For advanced fitness levels, 45 minutes to 60 minutes between 80% and 90% of anaerobic threshold heart rate.
6. Increase the training volume (duration) by 10%-15% if we notice that at the same speed our pulse rate drops by at least 5 beats.
7. Introduce slight increases if we observe that at the same speed our pulse rate drops by at least 5 beats.
8. Perform at least 3 basic sessions, with these characteristics, per week. Increase the sessions per week if possible as our pulse rate decreases by at least 5 beats per week for the same speed.
4. How to do it in cycling?
In cycling, it must be taken into account that higher training volumes, longer sessions or even more sessions during the week can be done. The lack of impact to the bottom bracket, unlike what happens with running, allows us to train more, without the risk of injury, especially at the beginning of the season, when our muscles and tendons are probably more vulnerable to injury.
However, to work the aerobic core, we can also consider:
1. Riding on roads or forest tracks with little gradient, rolling.
2. Preferable to pedal at slightly higher cadences (80-90 rpm on the flat, 70-80 rpm uphill)
3. Avoid sessions with pauses, preferable to run at a constant and moderate intensity pace.
4. For low fitness levels, ride at 80% of anaerobic threshold heart rate or 70-75% of power at anaerobic threshold.
5. For advanced fitness levels, ride at 90% of anaerobic threshold heart rate or 80% of power at anaerobic threshold.
6. Perform sessions of at least 1h30 in the first weeks of training.
7. It is recommended to start the season with 3 or 4 sessions per week.
8. Increase the volume (duration) or the number of sessions per week, when it is observed that for riding at the same speed our pulse is at least 5 beats lower than before.
Find everything you need to work on your aerobic core at Deporvillage.