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Jennifer Ellison-Brown: The best training methods

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2016 | 1:00 AM

There are a wide variety of training methods based on the ways in which the body adapts to regular exercise. All the methods can be adapted to suit particular training programmes.



This involves the aerobic system and improves endurance. The aerobic system includes the heart, lungs, and vascular system. Activities such as brisk walking, jogging, running, dancing, cycling, swimming, and rowing are ideal examples of aerobic training. The oxygen demand must be matched by oxygen intake. Continuous means you do not stop to rest. It is submaximal, meaning you do not work flat out.

This type of training should last for at least 12 minutes in order to achieve adaptations. The intensity of training can be judged from the heart (pulse) rate. Therefore, if you train within certain target heart rate training zones during aerobic exercise, the most efficient gains in aerobic fitness will be achieved without starting to work anaerobically and developing an oxygen debt. This is dependent on age, gender, and resting heart rate of the individual.

The target heart training rate zone is worked out by subtracting your age from 220 and then aiming to keep your heart rate between 60% and 85% of this maximum figure. For example, for a person of 45 years who wants to exercise for 20 minutes, three times per week:

Max Heart Rate = 220 - 45 = 175

60% of 175 = 105

85% of 175= 150 approximately.

Therefore, the person should aim for a target heart rate of 105-150 beats per minute during exercise.



This involves exercising at a certain rate (work interval) for a certain time then resting for a certain period (rest interval) in order to recover and then repeating the process. Sessions of interval training can be organised into sets with longer rest intervals between sets. For example, running 200 metres in sets of six with a one-minute jog round between each one then resting for a longer period of 10 minutes before repeating the whole process another two times. Both the aerobic and anaerobic systems can be improved using this method. The length of the rest-recovery period depends on how hard you exercise (intensity) during the work interval.



The name Fartlek comes from Swedish meaning 'speed play'. It involves 'run as you please', alternating fast and slow effort over varied terrain such as grass, sand, flat, hills, etc. Fartlek training doesn't precisely control the work and rest periods. This is very good for game players since games have many changes in speed. The mix of fast and slow work can be changed to suit the sport and energy system. It is used to improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness, depending on how the training is done.



This involves a number of different exercises at work stations, which affects the different components of fitness. A circuit usually involves six to10 exercises or activities that take place at the stations. Circuits should be designed to avoid working the same muscle groups at stations that follow one another. The number of work stations, repetition, and the rest periods should add up to 15-20 minutes for one complete circuit. Repeat three to six times, depending on their length. Circuits can be designed for a particular sport. For example, a skill circuit can be constructed for games players wherein exercises can be replaced by short skill practices.



This is used to develop strength, power, muscular endurance, and speed. Methods used include weights and plyometrics.

Weight training

Using weights as a form of resistance training, ( either free weights or weights in machines). Any weight-training programme can take account of your current state of fitness - the amount of weight, the number of repetitions, and the recovery periods can all be adjusted to progressively load muscles. Training for strength involves high resistance (weights) and few repetitions. Training for muscular endurance involves low resistance and many repetitions.


This is a series of explosive movements designed to improve muscular power (explosive strength). This involves rebound jumping (on to and off boxes), bounding, leaps, and skips, press-ups with claps, hopping, throwing, and catching a medicine ball. Exercises that involve the contraction of muscles from a stretch position are known as plyometric. Plyometric training puts great stress on the muscles and joints and should only be attempted as part of an organised training programme.