Aerobic training describes any form of exercise which generates oxygen in the body. It helps to increase your stamina as well as your energy levels. However, although it’s not aimed at building muscle mass nor does it focus on strength and power, it is aimed at keeping your muscles toned, especially those which help with respiration.
It also increases the ability of your muscles to use up body fat as opposed to glycogen during intense activity. Aerobic exercise also helps you to recover from muscle fatigue more quickly.
Typical Aerobic Activities
There are many different types of aerobic training you can do. For climbers, running, cycling, skiing and snowboarding are typical activities you might participate in as they all involve ascending and descending in some capacity which is more relevant to rock climbing or mountaineering. In fact, many climbers will get their aerobic exercise by running up and down staircases, such as those you’d find in sports stadia, for example.
However, other good forms of aerobic workouts can be found in boxing, martial arts, swimming and in the gym using the likes of exercise bikes and circuit weight training. However, for climbers, it’s not only strength but also endurance that you need to focus on and you should also concentrate on your lower body too. Therefore, a good aerobic training programme which aims to give your quadriceps and knees a good workout is vital too.
What you are basically trying to achieve with any form of aerobic exercise is to make your body work at a steady, continuous pace for a prolonged period of time.
For steady progress, you should adopt an aerobic training program which you should complete around 3 times per week and each session should last for about 30 minutes but should not exceed an hour each day.
You can train every day if you prefer. However, you should be careful not to over train as this can put tremendous strain on your body which is likely to result in you suffering from injuries. In other words, it’s important to get some rest between training sessions too in order to allow your body time to recuperate and recharge between sessions.
Working Out Maximum Heart Rate
In aerobic exercise, the fundamental principle is to make your heart work harder to produce more oxygen. It’s important not to push your heart too hard but, equally, if you’re not exercising hard enough, you won’t feel any fitness benefits. Fortunately, there is a simple mathematical formula which has become widely accepted for working out the ideal heart rate which you should be aiming for when you start devising your training programme.
Firstly, you take the figure ‘220’ as the maximum number of heartbeats per minute, and then subtract your age from that. Once you have that figure, you should be aiming to undertake an aerobic fitness programme where your heartbeats per minute fall between 65 to 85% of that figure.
So, an example of a 35 year old would be worked out as follows:
- 220 – 35 = 185. 65% of 185 = 120 and 85% of 185 =157.
Therefore, your optimum benefit from aerobic training if you are aged 35 would be to take up exercise that makes your heart beat between 120 and 157 beats per minute. If it falls outside those ranges, then you are either exercising too hard or not exercising hard enough. You can buy heart/pulse monitors to check this and you should keep records to gauge progress. Naturally, as you become fitter, you’ll need to increase the intensity of your programme to get your heart rate up to the required level to maintain the benefits of the exercise.
Obviously, as a climber, then the nearer you’re getting to a major climb, the more focused on aerobic training related to climbing, i.e. aerobic training which involves ascents and descents, you’ll need to step up.
It’s also important to incorporate warming up and cooling down exercises into any aerobic fitness programme.