With the way the crazes of HIIT (high intensity interval training), P90x, and Crossfit have swept the nation, it may seem odd to consider that there are still many benefits to training long and slow.
When it comes to losing weight, lowering our body fat percentages, and improving our overall physical and mental wellbeing, we need to follow a well-rounded fitness program that has an endurance component that keeps our heart rate in Zone 2 of the basic heart rate formula that is calculated by subtracting your age from 180.
If you are new to exercising, the bulk of your training ought to be endurance based to help you start burning fat, building an effective and strong anaerobic system, and improving your overall health.
Keys to Endurance Training
When endurance training, you need to focus on your aerobic conditioning by monitoring your heart rate and never letting it rise out of zone two. Doing this will not only help your heart and muscles, it will protect your joints because you will not be asking them to do anything that they are not ready to do. In fact, most beginning exercisers can go no faster than a brisk walk without having their heart rates elevate into zone three. While this may seem ineffective, the truth is that it will help you avoid injuries which derail many would be exercisers.
Progressing Into and Through Your Endurance Training
If you are only doing endurance training since you are new to exercising, you will need to do at least four low intensity workouts a week from 30 to 60 minutes apiece. As you follow this program, your muscles, aerobic system, bones and joints will adapt and soon your upper-limit brisk walk will become a gentle jog. And, then once you are able to slowly jog for extended periods of time, you can begin adding, if you have not already done so, the other components of your fitness program such as resistance training and interval training.
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on December 12, 2014