As I have eluded to in my first blogs, the initial phase of my training to get back in shape was all cardio. I also had to get my score on the bleep test from an uncomfortable 6.3 to finding 10.2 easy and so cardio was the highest priority.
Whilst there is a lot to be said for resistance and weight training for losing weight (more muscle burns more calories) the cheapest and easiest way of getting in shape doesn’t require a gym membership – you just needs a pair of trainers.
I break my training down in to;
Steady state runs – going for a jog / run at a steady pace for a set distance or time.
HIIT Sprint training – Fartlek (Speed play) training that mixes short bursts of high speed with recovery jogs.
HIIT cardio circuits – I used Insanity for this, it’s a great mixture of Plyometrics, cardio and body weight exercises.
A usual weeks training would look:
Monday – steady state – 70% effort for 6.4km
Tuesday – Insanity
Wednesday – steady state – 85% effort for 5km
Thursday – Rest day – walk 10km
Friday – sprint session
Saturday – steady state – 70% effort for 10km
Sunday – Insanity – recovery session
Whilst this may seem a lot, it’s around 45 minutes exercise a day with stretching and cooling down. I would also aim to patrol on foot for at least 10-15km a day but we all know how that plan can go!
The session that really improves your bleep test result is the sprint session. My favourite was a hideous session I learned in the army, it’s hard, it will make you want to vomit but at the same time it’s only as hard as the fort you put in.
Find your local football pitch – this is around 100m. Once you’ve warmed up by jogging around the pitch a couple of times go to the goal. Sprint as fast as you can to the other end, I recommend doing this in either the goal or the sidelines so you have something to keep you in a straight line. When you hit the other end, simply jog or walk back depending on your fitness level. As soon as you reach your start point sprint back. Do this 10 times, so you sprint for 1km and jog 1km. Then have a cool down by jogging or walking around the pitch again. When you reach the start point sprint out again, but this time sprint 2 lengths of the pitch and jog 2 lengths. Do this 5 times each, so another 1km of each. Then it’s back to the recovery jog, if needed go twice around the pitch. Then guess what? It’s back to sprinting! This time it’s 4 lengths, done twice so only 800m each. These last ones will seriously hurt, but it’s all about finding the determination to keep going.
The session is hard, and if your just starting out and not used to that level of training you can adapt it easily – try sprinting to the half way line instead of the full length, adjust the numbers of lengths or walk instead of jog etc. The key is to remain in a pattern of sprint, jog, sprint, jog etc. You will notice a very quick improvement to your cardiovascular fitness levels after a few weeks of doing this.
If you fancy getting into running, I highly recommend getting an app like runtastic or similar. It will tell you every km or mile your pace, time and heart rate if wearing a monitor. I love using this to challenge myself, always trying to run every mile faster than the last. It also keeps track of your routes and allows you to see your progress as you speed up, or go further each week.
If you struggle with running due to bad joints, try it with swimming or cycling. Exercise is all about listening to your body. If you find something hard, it’s probably the exercise you need to do the most, if you find it genuinely painful then stop. It’s never worth creating or worsening injuries.
Most of all: have fun and share your results with the Fit Blue Line community!