Thursday, February 09, 2006

Physiology of the Four Training Levels

It is important to understand the benefits of dividing your workouts into specific heart rate ranges(levels). Working in specific levels results in your body adapting to the challenges you provide. This tunes the body to perform better as you have increased your bodies ability to perform certain physiological actions. Overall, this gives a sense of purpose and focus to your workouts and training plan.

LEVEL 1:

As I have said before, it is pretty much impossible to do level1 workouts without a heart rate monitor. This is because they feel, as Sleamaker says, "ridiculously easy". I had one person write me at the beginning of the week and say that they would not have considered this an actual workout. It just feels too easy.

Basically, training in this heart rate range improves your body's ability to process oxygen and its ability to use its energy sources.. The primary physiological are: it increases your aerobic energy sources and pathways, increased capillary density, increased mitochondria density, and free fatty acid mobilization.

You will notice, however, that these workouts become quite tiring after you begin to deplete your energy sources.

LEVEL 2:

Most people run in this range most of the time when they "go for a run". While it is important to increase your pace and intensity, this level should not be allocated as much time as Level 1 because the physiological benefits do not include things like increased capillary density.

LEVEL 3:

Intervals increase your bodies ability to transport oxygen, remove metabolic waste, and shorten lactic acid clearance time. It is important to do these slightly below your Anerobic Threshold (the point at which your body can no longer clear away lactic acid) Your AT should be around the top end of this level.

LEVEL 4:

Speed work benefits your fast twitch muscles and develops your reserve energy sources.

5 comments:

ag said...

What I gather from this is...

Level 1 has to be done for a very long time continuously to be felt. Does that mean that 30 minutes is useless, but 90 minutes is beneficial?

For level 4, I've heard that you can only maintain >AT exertion for 15 seconds, and then you need to wait 2 minutes to replenish before you can go 100% again. Would, say, suicides that go for 30 seconds still be worthwhile? They certainly hurt enough...

gcooke said...

Both very good questions.

The answer to the first is yes and no. If your total OD for the week is 120 minutes, you will still benefit from 4 30 minute sessions. You will not, though, be adapting your body to deal with the loss of energy sources over a long period of time (again, my reason for even going through this is preparation for 2 8-hour days of Ultimate). If you have the time in your schedule, I think the longer the sessions the better, so 1 120 minute session is best, 2 60 minutes would be next, and 4 30 minute sessions would be last.

I think long sprints that drain your energy tank (200-400m, 30 sec suicides, etc) are beneficial because you are increasing your bodies "reserve" for this type of activity. Again, this prepares for you for this exact experience on the field. Decreasing your recovery times over the course of your training period can also help to develop your reserve.

michael_lyons12 said...

Hi George, I am training for marathons and have been using a new device from SPO medical called Checkmate, this measure both HR and O2 levels in the blood, I can now tell the HR point where I go into my AT as the O2 levels will dip by 10% or more, but I am not sure how best to interpret this information - any suggestions please ?

michael_lyons12 said...

Hi George, I am training for marathons and have been using a new device from SPO medical called Checkmate, this measure both HR and O2 levels in the blood, I can now tell the HR point where I go into my AT as the O2 levels will dip by 10% or more, but I am not sure how best to interpret this information - any suggestions please ?

gcooke said...

Michael,

In training for a marathon, you probably will spend very little time above your AT. I would guess that upwards of 85% of your time should be spent below your AT. If you find that you are frequently crossing over your AT....you are probably running too fast.

Thanks, g