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Advanced Level Cardio Conditioning and Aerobic Base 2 Building - Elliptical Trainer

This workout builds on the increasing strength of the aerobic base you have established in your beginning and intermediate cardio workouts. Completing these workouts allows you to continue to develop your aerobic fitness by strengthening your heart muscle while continuing to challenge your muscle metabolism to burn higher percentages of fat and calories during your workouts. The intermediate level Cardio-conditioning workouts helped to strengthen your aerobic base to reach a new level of fitness and the advanced workout will help you finish establishing the base fitness. This workout emphasizes slightly longer workout duration and work interval length to achieve further strengthening of the heart muscle while continuing to train the muscles to convert fuel to energy using oxygen and improving endurance. A benefit of doing this workout is that you will develop a strong base of aerobic fitness and endurance which will provide multiple health and fitness benefits, improve quality of life and reduce cardiac risk.

This workout requires the use of an elliptical trainer with an adjustable ramp (incline). Elliptical provide an excellent aerobic workout without the impact associated with running or walking. It has been found that users have a lower rate of perceived exertion on the elliptical than other forms of exercise. The elliptical trainer provides a whole body workout when you use a hands-free approach, similar to walking, jogging or running depending on the stride frequency (slower or faster leg motion). Additionally, the adjustable ramp allows you to target various muscle groups to begin to condition your muscles, tendons and joints along with your fat burning metabolism.

The advanced cardio program will help you to achieve a strong endurance base that can be sustained long-term, solidify your aerobic fitness and train your body to burn more calories during exercise. It works by maintaining a moderate intensity level in order to train the heart to pump enough oxygen to the working muscles to optimize endurance.

Prior to entering the cardio zone at the beginning of the workout it is advantageous to complete one fat burning interval in order to prepare the muscles for higher intensity exercise. As the cardio intervals and workout duration lengthens, more time in the fat burning zone at the beginning of the workout is needed to prepare the muscles and heart for the workout. Throughout the workout, you will alternate fat burning intervals with cardio intervals to maintain the aerobic quality of the workout. The fat burning interval duration will begin to shorten relative to the intervals you completed in the beginning cardio phase. 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 the HR has not hit the target zone for at least 1 minute.

Prior Experience:

Prior Exercise Experience:2 weeks of beginning cardio conditioning training on either the elliptical or the treadmill.
Medical Clearance: Consult your physician before starting or advancing any exercise program.

Workout Detail:

Precor Machine:Any EFX with CrossRamp® technology
Workout Duration: 45 minutes
Frequency: 4-5 days per week, or alternate every other workout with an intermediate cardio conditioning workout to total 4-5 workouts per week.
Number of Weeks until Advancement from this Phase: Completion of 2 weeks of consistent advanced cardio workouts 4 days per week, or 4 weeks of alternating intermediate and advanced workouts 4 days per week.
Next Recommended Workout Type: Peak conditioning or weight loss workouts.
Program: Manual
Intensity Level: 75- 85% of predicted HR max for cardio intervals and 65-75% of predicted HR max for fat burning intervals. This workout should feel fairly easy to somewhat hard during the cardio interval range (11-13 on the modified Borg scale). Warm up and cool down are always between 55-65% of predicted HR max.
Resistance: Varies depending on heart rate response. Heavier people will be able to get to higher resistance levels due to the effect of gravity while lighter people will need to stay at the lowest settings in order to keep their heart rate in the target range.
Strides per Minute: Minimum of 140 strides per minute and try to increase to 170 strides per minute as long as your heart rate is within target range.

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.
      • Write these 4 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 stride rate that allows you to reach your target zone without having to increase the resistance much. Try not to increase the resistance unless you are tolerating a stride rate of 130 and staying in your target zone. Increase the ramp to level 3 to simulate walking or jogging. 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 range = 65-75% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Quadriceps and Calves

Keep the ramp incline low. Begin increasing your strides per minute to keep your HR in the 65-75% range. If you are up to 130 strides per minute, you may increase the resistance setting to bring your HR to 65-75% of the predicted maximum HR. 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.

8-18 Minutes Cardio Interval
Target HR range = 75-85% of predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Hamstrings, Quadriceps and Calves alternating with Quadriceps and Shins

Alternate front and back pedaling during this interval every 2 minutes. Use your abdominal, gluteal and pelvic muscles to stabilize your motion. Aim for a minimum of 130 strides per minute but do not increase the resistance unless you are able to stay in your HR range at 150 strides per minute. Allow your stride rate to increase to a maximum of 170 strides per minute as long as you remain the target range. If your heart rate drifts too high at more than 130 strides per minute, then maintain the highest stride rate you can rather than increasing resistance.

18-20 Minutes Fat Burning Interval
Target HR range 65-75% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Variable

Place the ramp at a level of comfort. Reduce the resistance level and continue to aim for a minimum of 130 strides per minute. Reduce the resistance until you are able to stay in your HR range at 130 strides per minute. With practice, the target stride rate range is 130-170 strides per minute. If you can only stay in your target ranges by working at lower stride rates, that's fine. Just remember to keep the resistance as low as possible until you are able to increase your stride rate to the minimum requirement. It may take days or weeks to achieve this fitness improvement. It is normal to have to wait until the second minute for the HR to drop into the proper range.

20-30 Minutes Cardio Interval
Target HR range = 75-85% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Hamstrings, Quadriceps and Calves alternating with Quadriceps and Shins

Alternate front and back pedaling during this interval every 2 minutes. Use your abdominal, gluteal and pelvic muscles to stabilize your motion. Aim for a minimum of 130 strides per minute but do not increase the resistance unless you are able to stay in your HR range at 150 strides per minute. Allow your stride rate to increase to a maximum of 170 strides per minute as long as you remain the target range. If your heart rate drifts too high at more than 130 strides per minute, then maintain the highest stride rate you can rather than increasing resistance.

30-32 Minutes Fat Burning Interval
Target HR range = 65-75% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Variable

Place the ramp at a level of comfort. Reduce the resistance level and continue to aim for a minimum of 130 strides per minute. Reduce the resistance until you are able to stay in your HR range at 130 strides per minute.

32-42 Minutes Cardio Interval
Target HR range = 75-85% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Variable

Choose a ramp setting that is comfortable. Aim for a minimum of 130 strides per minute but do not increase the resistance unless you are able to stay in your HR range at 150 strides per minute. Allow your stride rate to increase to a maximum of 170 strides per minute as long as you remain the target range.

42-45 Minutes Cool Down
HR Target Zone = 55-65% of Predicted HR max.

Lower the ramp and the resistance to 1. Reduce your stride frequency 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 finishing establishing a very solid aerobic fitness base by strengthening your heart muscle, reducing cardiac risk, improving your overall fitness and speeding up your exercise metabolic rate!

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