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Physical Education

Principles and methods of training

Calculating target zones and thresholds of training

To train effectively you must know:

  • Your current level of fitness
  • The amount of aerobic training you need for your sport
  • The amount of anaerobic training you need for your sport

For example, sprinters use mainly anaerobic training [Anaerobic training: Training at an intensity level above the anaerobic threshold. ] and marathon runners use mainly aerobic training [Aerobic training: Training at an intensity level above the aerobic threshold but below the anaerobic threshold. ].

You can use your maximum heart rate (MHR) to calculate how hard you should work your heart to develop either aerobic or anaerobic fitness.

To calculate MHR:

  • 220 - age = MHR
male and female ballet dancers

Improve aerobic fitness by working at 60-80% of MHR

Aerobic fitness is another way of describing cardiovascular fitness, or stamina. You can improve aerobic fitness by working in your aerobic target zone. This is found between 60-80% of your MHR. You cross your aerobic threshold, the heart rate above which you gain aerobic fitness, at 60% of our MHR.

You can improve your anaerobic fitness, which includes strength, power and muscular endurance, by working in your anaerobic target zone. This is found between 80-100% of your MHR. Anaerobic threshold is the heart rate above which you gain anaerobic fitness. You cross your anaerobic threshold [Anaerobic threshold: The heart rate above which anaerobic fitness improves. ] at 80% of your MHR. Below 60% MHR you do not improve your aerobic or anaerobic fitness at all.

When working anaerobically you create an oxygen debtoxygen debt: the amount of extra oxygen required by the body for recovery after vigorous exercise and can only keep going for a short time. Oxygen debt is the amount of oxygen consumed during recovery above that which would normally be consumed during rest. This results from a shortfall of available oxygen during exercise.

You can monitor your fitness levels by recording your recovery rate after exercise. The recovery rate is the time it takes for the pulse rate to return to normal after exercise.

Remember that percentages of MHR are approximate and personal levels of activity and fitness will cause differences in the thresholds.

Back to Exercise and training index

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