Continuous training is a way to dial down the reliance on interval training and pay more attention to technique with mindfulness. Almost as if you could find flow state a little easier.
The continuous training method improves your training in three ways:
- extend muscular endurance with training exercises that last for 30 minutes or more
- increase peripheral circulation by extending the length of the training session
- improve your muscular development by extending the time and intensity of exercise.
These three principles — cardiovascular endurance, peripheral circulation, and muscular development — are what make this type of aerobic exercise so important.
Also known as steady-state training, continuous training is any physical workout that involves activity without breaks. It can be done at low, moderate, or high intensity and is often contrasted with interval training. Some training methodologies, such as Fartlek, combine concepts of both continuous and interval approaches.
More importantly, both approaches improve lifestyle, health, and performance. Their uniqueness lies in the specific purpose each has on our way to achieving individualized goals.
Continuous training typically challenges full-body aerobic capacity with outdoor running, treadmill work, cycling, swimming, and rowing.
If you are new to exercise, continuous activity is a great way to build up an appropriate cardiovascular fitness level before moving on to more advanced training methods such as interval or interval HIIT (high intensity interval training). It is relatively easy to do, and low impact choices such as a bicycle or elliptical are suitable for losing weight, improving overall health, and starting a fitness journey.
Those who want to lose weight may find that continuous exercise can be very beneficial. Because it uses large muscle groups, it burns calories and increases muscle tone. Provided it is performed over a longer duration at a relatively low intensity.
Examples of continuous low-intensity training protocols are 3 sessions per week of:
And at manageable intensities, sustained low-intensity exercise can also be therapeutic and a stress relief for some. It helps focus attention away from outside environmental stressors with the increased performance demands.
If you are advised to start at an exercise intensity, moderate training is an excellent place to start. It allows the body the time to build up its endurance so that as you continue your fitness journey, your body adapts accordingly.
As your body adapts to the early stages of exercise capacity, chances of injury are reduced, and performance gains happen almost without notice.
Medium-intensity continuous training MICT is the traditional method of increasing physical activities.Joyce S Ramos, et al
To start, try 30 minutes on a bike ride with a target heart rate of 70% max. Followed 48 hours later by a swim of the same intensity. And another 48 hours later with a jog that lasts two to six minutes longer than your other efforts.
Moderate intensities will begin to make fitness and performance changes rivaling aerobic interval training.
High intensity exercise
Aerobic workloads to the point of physical exhaustion are a daunting concept when starting up a training regimen. But if you remain up to the task, it certainly has training value before hitting the wall.
A stress test to find VO2 max is an example of graded, progressive aerobic work to exhaustion. Because it is important to remember that an exercise bout will not be primarily aerobic if you are maximum effort from the outset. And by nature will require some anaerobic abilities to complete the exhaustive bout.
100% peak performance until exhaustion should not take any longer than 12 to 20 minutes in duration. And it is critical to note
Exercise training with an intensity of ~ 90% of V02 peak is in the upper range of current human guidelines. ahajournals.orgGerald F. Fletcher, et al
So perhaps challenging VO2 max with efforts approaching peak creates a new paradigm of training options once fitness levels have been met.
There is growing evidence that high-intensity HIIT interval training appears to be more effective than medium-intensity continuous MICT training in improving cardiorespiratory fitness…Joyce S Ramos, et al
The bottom and top lines of continuous training
Set goals that are clearly defined based on starting fitness and desired performance outcomes when stepping up training through the various intensities. Your personal training has elements of art throughout. So find a sustainable rhythm that suits your needs and ancillary benefits like reduced stress and focused attention are byproducts of continuous training.