Eight Weeks to Build Aerobic Fitness
At midnight on 26 March 2020, the country went into Level 5 lockdown. Amongst the many other ‘freedoms’ that were put on hold as the country started it’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we as runners had to come to terms with a different way of staying fit. For some of us, this entailed a treadmill, whilst others ran in circles around their garden, and others did nothing at all. Thirty-five days later, we were allowed to run again outside between 6am and 9am with a mask.
At this same time, Regenerate Health and Fitness launched an eight-week
Aerobic Fitness program. This program was designed to take into account the lost fitness levels and to rebuild one’s fitness again in a responsible manner (the danger lay in athlete’s trying to pick-up their training where they left off) that would not increase the risk of injury or illness and thereby avoid having another setback to training.
A bunch of eager runners signed up for the journey. The first week we conducted some fitness tests to determine where everyone’s was at. Based on this each athlete was given their program with slight variations in training to account for levels of experience. The other important aspect of these tests were that the sessions could then be individually tailored to each athlete’s current fitness and ability level.
“….. it’s the perfect platform to regain fitness”
The training was focused around improving the athlete’s aerobic capacity with the majority of the sessions run at a low intensity. In my opinion, the best way for this is to use the MAF method whereby one does the session under a prescribed heart rate (180 minus age). High intensity interval training (HIIT) were also included. These sessions were specifically designed to target the aerobic oxidative system, and to mostly limit the neuromuscular strain. This was key to limit the risk of injury and illness that often accompanies excessive stress.
Eight weeks later we conducted the same fitness tests to determine the level of improvement in the athletes. Below is a summary of the results.
Overall, fantastic improvements were found across all the fitness tests, with vVO2Max improving on average 5.7% and MAF improving 8.9% which validates that the intended program design hit the prescribed adaptations that it set out to achieve. The largest improvement in vVO2Max was a phenomenal 10.8% and a staggering 22.2% improvement in one athlete’s MAF results. Only one athlete did not improve on their vVO2Max with a 1% decline, but did improve in their MAF.
This eight week aerobic program is ideal:
- if you are wanting to build/rebuild your fitness levels
- if you have completed a stressful cycle of training or an event and returning after a recovery cycle
- if you are wanting to focus on a base building phase
- if you are wanting to maintain fitness without any specific goal to focus on in the interim but require some structure and variation to your training
- if you are returning from injury and require a program that will not over-stress your body
” I saw and felt improvement in my running in a short time and I learnt a lot I can take with me going forward”