Best book on getting (aerobically) fit?
January 16, 2010 12:06 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for solid (evidence-based) information on the most efficient way to get as aerobically fit as possible.

I already have a lot of experience with (and enthusiasm for) running, cycling and training with a heartrate monitor but I often feel that I'm hampering my progress by doing too much or too often or without enough variation. The heart rate training programs I have read about all have the goal to make you peak at a certain time in the year. I'm looking for something that's aimed at people who want to feel superfit in their general life all year round, I'm not trying to excel at a certain sporting event (however much fun that undoubtably would be). Realistically I can spend 45-60 minutes a day on exercise, more would probably interfere too much with my work and home life.
posted by dinkyday to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into variations on the interval (aka "Tabata") training method?
posted by gb77 at 12:37 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not a book, but some of the references in this wikipedia article on HIIT might be helpful - as could some googling on the subject. Unfortunately the wiki article is a little light on detail and citations.
posted by missmagenta at 12:40 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OP here. Apologies if it seems I am too lazy to google this but on this subject I'm finding it very hard to differentiate between the real (trustworthy) information and the infomercials. Also, it seems most of the attention goes to the ever-popular 'is this the quickest way to lose weight?' question.
posted by dinkyday at 1:32 PM on January 16, 2010

As for Tabata/interval, I believe it's been around for decades. I seem to recall seeing mention of a lot of clinical studies being done.
posted by gb77 at 1:46 PM on January 16, 2010

Best answer: I recommend reading anything by Lyle McDonald. He is a physiology nerd, regularly quotes scientific studies, and is much more "fact-oriented" than "image/marketing-oriented", if that makes any sense. He recently did a series of articles about methods of endurance training, which seems right up your alley.
posted by reishus at 1:52 PM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm not trying to excel at a certain sporting event


"Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing."

Speaking from experience, it's tough but loads of fun. Their daily workout is incredibly varied (and sometimes seems downright cruel). They also use the Tabata method.
posted by JV at 2:03 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

2nd crossfit. When military/police force/fire PT programs switch to crossfit, they observe more rapid progress, more people achieving top scores, higher top scores, fewer injuries, and probably most importantly, more enthusiasm from the participants.

Some of that comes from the competitive/group aspect, though, so your best results are going to come from going to a crossfit gym near you. It's doable by yourself, though, by keeping a log and competing against yourself.

I try to refrain from proselytizing as much as I want to, but it sure seems like it answers your question exactly. Check out (click on "what is crossfit" link on left) and see what you think.
posted by ctmf at 3:19 PM on January 16, 2010

Outside Magazine's Perfect Fit series was meant to give you "robust overall cardiovascular fitness" with periodization training:

"Steve Farrell, associate director of continuing education at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, hails this approach as spot-on. "There are two ways to target endurance: One is to train the heart to pump more blood, and the other is to improve the muscles' ability to extract oxygen from the blood," he says. "Periodization does both; the body meets the challenge you present so that you can meet the next challenge in your sport."

Here's the plan: You'll start with an aerobic-foundation-building base period lasting 10 weeks, which, counting the work you've done thus far, leaves six to go. Then it's a seamless transition into a six-week aerobic economy phase, in which you learn to work at your highest aerobic level. Finally, for the last four weeks, you'll add a layer of speed training that will have you itching to go by the end of winter, at which time Scott will unveil a program that's flexible enough for you to use the rest of your sporting days."

posted by peachfuzz at 4:06 PM on January 16, 2010

I'm looking for something that's aimed at people who want to feel superfit in their general life all year round, I'm not trying to excel at a certain sporting event

To most peoples surpise (and ignorance) these question require context. When you train, your body is going to respond by becoming more efficient at what and how you are training. One thing you have to understand is how the body compensates. It would be great if we could constantly make our bodies continue on that upward trend of improvement but that isn't feasible for plenty of reasons. So coaches devised ways for their athletes to peak at the appropiate times, the peak being what the athlete is physically capable of in that time frame. So what is your goal? To be really aerobically fit or just really fit in general? If somebody came up to me and said they just wanted to be fit in general then I would direct them to a General Physical Preparedness (GPP) workout or Crossfit. If someone wanted to be fit aerobically then I would direct them to workouts that were more in line with that goal. Riding a bike for long distances does not equate with doing thirty pullups, they are mutually exclusive goals.
It sounds like your are on the right path now, as far as what you want to accomplish. Adding a bit of variation will keep you from stagnating though, and will help with allay the fears of overtraining (whether they are real or not). HIIT would be good place to start.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:17 PM on January 16, 2010

« Older How to create a caloric deficit without going into...   |   Reading Comprehension in Graduate School Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.