Aerobic Threshold and Strength Training

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  • #20833

    Hi there! I New to the program and just started using the 24 week training plan on TP to train for climbing some of the major volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest this summer. I would greatly appreciate any insight anyone has on my following questions.

    (1) Aerobic threshold: My AeT is 149 according to the MAF formula. I also did a treadmill test and at 149, I can breathe through my nose but don’t think I can maintain a leisurely conversation (i.e. occasionally mouth breathing in between sentences). Does this mean my AeT is some number below 149? If so, should I redo the test to figure out the heart rate at which I can breath through my nose AND maintain a leisurely conversation at the same time?

    (2) Stimulus to increase aerobic capacity: I learned that the biggest stimulus to aerobic adaptation is the duration of exercise. Is it okay to go beyond the prescribed hours of aerobic training for a particular day as long as I keep my HR zone below the AeT or should I stick to the training plan to follow the volume progression?

    (3) Strength training: I am having a hard time doing the L-sit, pull-up, push-up, super push-up, and hanging leg raise exercises? Does anyone have progression suggestions? I have a feeling that my biceps are pretty weak – I couldn’t pull myself up for a pull-up and for the push-up and super push-up, my biceps and elbows give out whenever I am coming close to the ground.

    (4) Anaerobic training: Why does it take the body longer to adapt to aerobic training compared to anaerobic training? I noticed that I am more tolerant of my increased heart rate when going uphill after only 2-3 sessions of HIIT whereas it takes a few months to notice aerobic adaptation.

    Thanks in advance for entertaining my questions!

  • Participant
    gfilip on #20843

    Hi there,

    I’m sure the pros will give you a detailed response but I can help with some of your questions based on what I’ve learned from the 2 books and this website/forum.

    1) It does sound like your AeT is lower than the formula suggests. The MAF seems to correlate well for most people with a history of endurance training but tends to over-estimate the AeT for others. I am one of those people without a long history of structured training so I can maintain nose breathing for at least 10-15bpm above my AeT that I’ve confirmed with a lab lactate/gas test and a 60-minute treadmill test. I’d recommend redoing the treadmill test using the standard protocol of a 15-minute gradual warm up followed by 60 minutes of constant speed/incline. Take the ratio of the average HR from the second half of the 60-minute test to the average from the first half. If the ratio is greater than 1.05 (5% test), then the HR you noted at the very beginning of the 60-minute test is above your AeT and you should redo the test with a lower starting HR.

    2) Early on, I’d be cautious with your total volume of training even at or below the AeT. Your body needs time to adapt to the training stimulus and doing too much too quickly can have a negative impact on your performance. Stick to the plan early on and see how your body responds. Once you get a feel for this response, you can try experimenting with higher volumes and how they impact you.

    3) I’ve read that most people have problems with the L-sit, and I did too. It really is a matter of time and consistency. I was unable to get off the ground even with crossed legs. After several weeks of consistent core training, I got to the point of holding crossed legs off the ground, then short bursts of straight legs, and now finally I can hold the L-sit for ~10 seconds. The other core exercises will strength your core obviously, so just stick with it and keep trying the L-sit, it will come.

    4) There is a very in-depth discussion on this in the books. I believe it boils down to the fact that it takes a relatively long time to build up the support systems for the aerobic energy pathways whereas your body quickly takes to the glycemic pathway of anaerobic training. I am far from an expert on this so I’d recommend the books for more info or Scott J. may chime in on here.

    jeanna on #20877

    Thanks for answering my questions! How is the new book different from the first one? I thought it’s for a different audience – those who dabble in mountain running and ski mountaineering?

    1) I wasn’t aware of the 1.05 ratio when performing the treadmill test. Will redo and find out the ratio.
    2) Will start with the prescribed volume per your suggestion. I was initially hoping to speed up aerobic adaptation because I need to complete at least a few climbs by September as part of a mountaineering class I’m taking. Don’t think I will be able to complete the full plan before the climbs but at least I hope to increase my aerobic capacity by then.

    Rachel on #20885

    Here’s more info on the HR drift test that gfilip is talking about:

    I have both books and the new book has a lot in common with TftNA.

    For exercise progressions, I googled about L-sit progression and you can start cross legged, or one leg at a time.

    I worked my way to two unassisted chin-ups by using resistance bands to help make the exercise easier. Chin-ups especially will help work your biceps too, and are a little easier than pull-ups (but with all the benefits, I think). Push-ups you can do on an incline or knee pushups.

    Anonymous on #20924


    Your confusion about the Aerobic Threshold is understandable. It’s a concept that even some coaches and exercise physiologists are not familiar with. This is partly due to the confusing array of definitions used in sport science. Determining the AeT is best done with a gas exchange test in lab as explained here The next best way is with a blood lactate test as described here After those tests the next best is the HR drift test others have steered you toward. I put the MAF and conversational pace/nose breathing tests at the bottom of the group. The MAF and the nose breathing both seem to work quite well for those with extensive aerobic training backgrounds. Not so well for others. We’ve seen very good results (they confirm with lab tests) in hundreds of HR drift tests so I’d give it a 90+% likelihood of nailing your AeT.

    #2) Yes, more volume of Z1-2 will generally have a positive aerobic training effect. SO, add more hours here in the base period.

    #3) As for strength: Do not despair about the super push up or L-sit. Less than 2% of the folks that start these programs can do these. For the super push up; get in the high butt position and try flexing your elbows and shoulders just a tiny amount and pushing back up. Try for 3-4 reps like that and then rest 2-3 min and try again. Another way to start building this pressing strength is to use dumb bells and do over head presses with them. Similar motion but with much less weigh and smaller muscle mass involved. For push ups, start from your knees, not toes, when you can do 10 from your knees then do incline push ups on a table or counter. Do these from your toes. AS you gain strength drop the height of the had support from counter, to table to chair to stair. For Pull ups use an assistance band or do negatives: get you chin above the bar by standing on something. Then with full weight, hold the top position to the count of 1 and lower to the count of 3. Drop from he bar and rest 2 min and repeat. Negatives are the fastest way to gain strength. Also, for a pull up do not start in a dead hang with shoulders extended (pressed to your ears). Start with shoulders retracted and elbows slightly bent.

    #4) Many of the aerobic adaptations are what are as STRUCTURAL adaptations. You need to actually grow new structures in you body. These being primarily capillaries and mitochondria and heart muscle changes. These take weeks and months to accumulate enough to make a performance difference. They can go on improving for years. Some aerobic adaptations are FUNCTIONAL as well but ALL Anaerobic adaptations are FUNCTIONAL. By this is meant that adaptations to the function of your existing structures are affected by training. In most cases these Functional changes consist of changes in enzyme levels. In the case of Anaerobic adaptations and increase in glycolytic enzymes is responsible for increasing anaerobic capacity of the muscle fibers. These functional adaptations occur within hours of training and accumulate rapidly so that performance changes occur on a days to weeks time frame.

    I hope this helps,

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