The 180 Method for Building an Aerobic Base

We are big fans of doing the basics well before trying anything more complicated or intense. There are a set of basics which have been around for a long time and they have been around for a long time because they work. The challenge for us is to walk before we run. Often we get so caught up in the more is better, or harder is better mentality that we forget the basics and injury, overtraining or demotivation result. Endurance athletes, in fact any athlete, should be building an aerobic base before embarking on a specific training program for a particular event or sport.  Dr Phil Maffetone’s 180 method to building an aerobic base is an excellent way to establish a solid aerobic foundation. It has been used with great effect by athletes the calibre of Mark Allen, six time winner of the Hawaii Ironman. I have posted a summary of the plan below but please read the entire article here before starting a program.

The 180 Formula

To find your maximum aerobic training heart rate, there are two important steps.

  1. Subtract your age from 180.
  2. Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile:

a)  If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.

b)  If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.

c)  If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same

d)  If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

Happy training.

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