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Beginning Level Peak Conditioning Workout- Elliptical Trainer

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. With increasing 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 an elliptical trainer with an adjustable ramp (incline). Ellipticals 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 as compared to 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 condition a variety of muscles, tendons and joints.

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, 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 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 the 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 Detail:

Precor Machine:Any EFX with CrossRamp® technology
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.
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 150 strides per minute with an 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 five 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 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 150 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.

8-13 Minutes Cardio Interval
Target HR range = 75-85% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Quadriceps and Hamstrings

Choose a medium ramp incline. Aim for a minimum of 150 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 within the target range. If your heart rate drifts too high at more than 150 strides per minute, then maintain the highest stride rate you can rather than increasing resistance.

13-18 Minutes Peak Interval
Target HR range 85-95% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle group = Variable

Place the ramp at a level of comfort. Increase the resistance level and continue to aim for a minimum of 150 strides per minute. Reduce the resistance if you are unable to stay in your HR range at 150 strides per minute. With practice, the target stride rate range is 150-170 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 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.

18-23 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 150 strides per minute. Reduce the resistance until you are able to stay in your HR range at 150 strides per minute. Note how many minutes it took your HR to drop into the target range. With improvements in cardio-fitness, your HR will drop quicker. The goal is to see the drop within 2 minutes of reducing the resistance.

23-28 Minutes Peak Interval
Target HR range = 75-85% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Quadriceps and Hamstrings

Choose a medium ramp setting. Aim for a minimum of 150 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 within the target range. If your heart rate drifts too high at more than 150 strides per minute, then maintain the highest stride rate you can rather than increasing resistance.

28-33 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 150 strides per minute. Reduce the resistance until you are able to stay in your HR range at 150 strides per minute.

33-38 Minutes Peak Interval
Target HR range = 85-90% of Predicted HR max.
Target Muscle Group = Variable

Place the ramp at a level of comfort. Increase the resistance level and continue to aim for a minimum of 150 strides per minute. Reduce the resistance if you are unable to stay in your HR range at 150 strides per minute. With practice, the target stride rate range is 150-170 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 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.

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

Lower the ramp to 3 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 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.