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Beginning Level Peak Conditioning Workout - Treadmill

This workout builds on the strong aerobic base you have established in the cardio-conditioning program. Completing these workouts allows you to develop a peak level of aerobic fitness for advancing your speed or power or for competition preparation. The beginning level peak conditioning workout helps your system develop endurance at moderately high intensity power outputs.

When you increase your workout intensity, lactate accumulates and the body must improve its capacity to process and buffer this acid in the blood in order to allow you to continue to achieve high level power output for longer periods of time. As lactate processing requires a strong aerobic base, it is essential to complete the cardio conditioning program for these workouts to be effective.

This workout requires the use of a treadmill with adjustable speed and incline. Treadmills provide an excellent aerobic workout using familiar body mechanics used in normal locomotion. The treadmill utilizes a moving belt; therefore, it may take a little 'getting used to' before you feel stable at faster paces. When first starting out maintain your balance by focusing on a point in the distant foreground, rather than looking down or sideways, until you are very familiar with using the treadmill.

The beginning peak conditioning program will train your system to process and buffer lactate in order to improve high intensity endurance, speed and power. It works by targeting a level of exertion that leads to lactate accumulation in order to challenge your system to learn to process and buffer it. Contrary to what you may think, the optimal intensity to target for this training is not maximal which is too high to achieve results.

Prior to entering the peak zone at the beginning of the workout it is advantageous to complete one fat burning interval and one cardio interval in order to prepare the muscles for higher intensity exercise. As the peak intervals and workout duration lengthens, you need more time in the fat burning zone at the beginning of the workout to prepare the muscles and heart for the workout. Throughout the workout, you will alternate fat burning intervals with cardio intervals to maintain an aerobic quality of the workout. The fat burning interval duration will begin to shorten relative to the peak intervals as you advance. The cool down may also lengthen to allow your heart, muscles and body temperature to return to baseline by the end of the workout. Be sure to extend the cool down if your HR has not hit the target zone for at least 1 minute.

Prior Experience:

Prior Exercise Experience: Completion of an entire cardio-conditioning program including beginning, intermediate and advanced workouts on either the elliptical or the treadmill.

Medical Clearance: Consult your physician before starting or advancing any exercise program. This workout is considered "vigorous" exercise and medical clearance is needed.

Workout Details:

Precor Machine: Any Precor Treadmill

Workout Duration: 45 minutes

Frequency: 1 day per week. You should include any of the levels of cardio conditioning workouts for the other 3-4 workouts during the week. The day following this workout should be fairly easy or take the day off to allow your body to regenerate and to achieve greater benefits.

Number of Weeks until Advancement from this Phase: Completion of 3-4 beginning workouts one week apart. If you are not training for a competitive event, you may choose not to advance further in this program following this stage.

Next Recommended Workout Type: Intermediate peak conditioning.

Program: Manual

Intensity Level: 85-90% of predicted HR max for peak intervals, 75% to 85% of predicted HR max for cardio intervals and 65-75% of predicted HR max for fat burning intervals. This workout should feel "hard" during the peak interval range (14-16 on the modified Borg scale), "somewhat hard" during the cardio interval range (12-13 on the modified Borg scale) and "fairly light" during the fat burning intervals (9-11 on the modified Borg scale). Warm-up and cool down are always between 55-65% of predicted HR max.

Speed: Varies depending on heart rate response. Stay at the velocity needed in order to keep your heart rate in the target range. If it seems too fast to maintain balance, then raise the incline slightly and slow the speed.

Incline: Varies with workout instructions.

Stride Rate: To determine your stride rate per minute, count the number of times one foot strikes the ground over 15 seconds and multiply by 4. If you are jogging or running, you should aim for 86-92 strides per minute to optimally target the aerobic system.

Pre-Workout Tips:

  • Incorporate a general flexibility program as part of your regular exercise routine. If you plan to stretch prior to your workout, it's best to warm up your muscles first with 3-5 minutes of brisk walking.
  • Begin the workout adequately hydrated. Consume 8-12 ounces of water or sports drink within 1 hour prior to the workout.
  • Begin the workout properly nourished. Consume a meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein 1 hour prior to the workout.
  • Do not work out if you are sick, injured or have a fever.
  • Use the handrail grips to see your target heart rate or purchase a HR belt which allows you to see your HR during the workout.
  • Calculate your target HR range:
    • Calculate your predicted HR max: [220 - your age = _________ ]
    • Calculate the four following HR's:
      • Warm-up / cool down low limit: Multiply your predicted HR max by 0.55 to get your low limit HR for the warm up.
      • Warm-up / cool down high limit: Multiply your predicted HR max by 0.65 to get your upper limit HR for the warm up.
      • Fat burning low limit: Same as your warm up high limit.
      • Fat burning high limit: Multiply your predicted HR max by 0.75 to get your upper limit HR for the fat burning intervals.
      • Cardio low limit: Same as fat burning high limit.
      • Cardio high limit: Multiply your predicted HR max by 0.85 to get your upper limit HR for the cardio intervals.
      • Peak low limit: Same as cardio high limit.
      • Peak high limit: Multiply your predicted HR max by 0.90 to get your upper limit HR for the peak intervals.
      • Write these 5 separate values on a piece of paper to refer to during your workout.

0-3 Minutes Warm Up

HR Target Zone = 55-65% of Predicted HR max.

Begin moving comfortably, finding a pace that allows you to reach your target zone without having to increase the incline. Try letting go of the handlebars and stabilizing your body by engaging your trunk and abdominal muscles. Use the bars for balance and to check your heart rate as needed.

3-8 Minutes Fat Burning Interval

Target HR Zone = 65-75% of Predicted HR max.

Target Muscle Group = Quadriceps and Calves

Keep the incline at 0%. Begin increasing pace to keep your HR in the 65-75% range. Your breathing should be comfortable and you should be able to converse without shortness of breath. If you are having breathing difficulty, slow down until you are comfortable.

8-13 Minutes Cardio Interval

Target HR range = 75-85% of Predicted HR max.

Target muscle group = Quadriceps and Hamstrings

Place the incline at 2%. Try to count your stride rate by counting the number of foot plants on one side per 15 seconds and multiplying by 4. Aim for a stride rate between 86 and 92. If your heart rate drifts too high, reduce your pace to bring it into the target range.

13-18 Minutes Peak Interval

Target HR range = 85-95% of Predicted HR max.

Target muscle group = Calves and Quadriceps

Place the ramp at 1% incline. Increase your pace and continue to aim for a minimum of 86 strides per minute. Reduce your pace if you are unable to stay in your HR range. If you can only stay in your target ranges by working at slower paces, that's fine. It may take days or weeks to see your speed increase at lower heart rates. It is normal to take a minute or two to see the HR elevate, and to have to wait until the third minute for the HR to drop into the proper range as it tends to overshoot by a few beats when you begin to work harder.

18-23 Minutes Fat Burning Interval

Target HR range = 65-75% of Predicted HR max.

Target Muscle Group = Variable

Reduce to an incline of 0% and after 5 minutes raise the incline to 3%. Adjust your pace to remain in the target zone. Note how many minutes it took your HR to drop into the target range at the beginning of the interval. With improvements in cardio-fitness, your HR will drop quicker. The goal is to see the drop within 2 minutes of reducing the workload.

23-28 Minutes Peak Interval

Target HR range = 75-85% of Predicted HR max.

Target Muscle Group = Calves and Quadriceps

Place the ramp at 1% incline. Increase your pace and continue to aim for a minimum of 86 strides per minute. Reduce your pace if you are unable to stay in your HR range. If the pace is awkward for you, you may raise the incline to 3% and slow to a more comfortable pace.

28-33 Minutes Fat Burning Interval

Target HR range = 65-75% of Predicted HR max.

Target Muscle Group = Variable

Begin with an incline of 2% and after 5 minutes, decrease the incline to 0%. Adjust your pace to remain in the target zone. Note how many minutes it took your HR to drop into the target range at the beginning of the interval. With improvements in cardio-fitness, your HR will drop quicker. The goal is to see the drop within 2 minutes of reducing the workload.

33-38 Minutes Peak Interval

Target HR range = 85-90% of Predicted HR max.

Target Muscle Group = Gluteals

Place the ramp at 3% incline. Adjust your pace and continue to aim for a minimum of 86 strides per minute. Reduce your pace if you are unable to stay in your HR range. If the pace is awkward for you in your target HR range, you may raise the incline to 5% and slow to a more comfortable pace.

42-45 Minutes Cool Down

HR Target Zone = 55-65% of Predicted HR max.

Lower the incline to 0%. Reduce your pace to bring your HR to the target range. Note how long it takes you to reach the target range. With improvements in your fitness, your HR will lower more quickly with a reduction in exercise intensity. Continue the cool down until your HR has remained in the target range for a minimum of 1 minute.

Congratulations! You are beginning to develop peak aerobic fitness which will improve your high intensity endurance!

Program developed in conjunction with Emily Cooper M.D. from Seattle Performance Medicine.