Building Stamina and Energy Capacity


workout capacityForget everything you know about cardio. When most people get on a bike, treadmill, or stairmaster at the gym they turn on the tv or open up a magazine and mindlessly put one leg in front of the other for 30 minutes. But this type of exercise does little for your body after the few initial days because your body adapts quickly and starts giving you diminishing returns for the same length of time.

So before we go on, forget about how many calories your stairmaster says you’ve burned. And forget about trying to peddle a vague distance and then peddle a few more times tomorrow. The reality is that most people think they’re working out a lot harder than they actually are. So we’re going to work out like you really should. We’re going to develop your work out capacity like a champion.

Three Target Zones

Everything we’re going to do with these workout thresholds will be based around your current capacity for stamina and power. You will do cardio in one of three “zones” that will push your boundaries a little bit more each day. In this way it’s impossible for you to go “too hard” because it’s always tailored to your level. When your stamina goes up, so will the intensity. It’s a natural progression.

Calculate Target Zones

The way we figure out your target zones is by calculating your max heart rate. Figuring this out is a simple calculation. Take 220 and subtract your age — that’s your max. Now, take 70% of that for zone 1, 80% for zone 2, and 90% for zone 3.

For example: If you are 25 years old, your max heart rate will be 195

  • zone 1 = 137
  • zone 2 = 156
  • zone 3 = 176

3 Zone Levels

level 1 – aerobic – conversational

When working at this level you can probably hold a normal conversation. This is the most basic level of energy development and is sometimes called “aerobic” training, building your ability to workout for longer than 3 minutes. By itself this type of workout eventually loses its effectivity if you don’t pair it with …

level 2 – no talking

At this level you’re working hard enough that you can’t comfortably converse with someone. For most people this is the hardest they ever workout. It’s called your “lactate” level. You’ll reach this level by training at high intensity spurts up to three minutes long. No longer. Most people call this “interval” work. They think that this is the most advanced level of cardio. But they don’t have a program that pushes them to work at …

level 3 – all out, max effort

At level three, your “alactate power” level, you are working on very intense exercises for periods of time shorter than 12 seconds. This type of training will make it so that you

can dunk a basketball, run away from a friend spraying you with a hose, or chase a screaming 2 year-old down and scoop them up quickly. This type of training is done by less than 1% of the population and when paired with the others, makes you look like you have the stamina, power and endurance of a thoroughbred racehorse.

Sample Workout

The possibilities of these types of workouts are endless. The best part of training in this way is that it doesn’t matter what kind of cardio you do — you can bike, swim, climb, row, or even skip, as long as you stay within these work zones for the allotted times.

As a guide, here is a sample workout you can use as a template to compare against as you search for a workout to your liking that hits the three key areas.

Workout 1: Lactate Power

Total time: 30 minutes

Warmup: 3 min./ Z1

Sets: 2

Reps: 4

Work zone: 3 min./ Z2

Rest zone: 3 min./ Z1

Cool down: 3 min./Z1

Workout 2: Lactate Capacity

Total time: 30 minutes (min.)

Warmup: 3 min./ Z1

Sets: 2

Reps: 8

Work zone: 1.5 min./ Z3

Rest zone: 1.5 min./ Z1

Cool down: 3 min./Z1

    • Kenin Bassart
    • September 13, 2013

    I’m huge on interval training, as I think it better represents what our bodies evolved for. This looks like good stuff!

    • Ryan Biddulph
    • September 12, 2013

    Excellent stuff here! I am big on interval training; short, intense bouts of training do wonders for your heart, cardio and body. Thanks for the share!

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