Posted by: Alison | 2009/01/10

Optimal workout

I am a bit confused about the most effective way to build fitness. Some people say excercise every day. others say on alternate days. Also what HR zone? I am doing 20 minutes daily on bike at about 150 and playing squash 3 times a week at about 125. What do you recommend?

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Our expert says:
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Hi Alison

Every day works once you've achieved a level of fitness that allows your body to recover after training. If you haven't, then training every day is bad for you because you never really rest and recover. And the recovery is the most important part, not the training.

So my advice is that if you're starting out, go for 4 days a week, which means you can rest one day for every day you train, except maybe once a week, where you double up. Once you reach a given level, then you can start mixing them. Now, in your case, it sounds pretty reasonable. The other thing of course is how hard you exercise, and for how long. And 20 minutes on the bike is fine - I wouldn't change that much, and I think you can still afford to play squash three days a week. You might consider taking one day a week where you don't cycle, just to recover.

As for heart rate, don't worry about it too much - it's been over-emphasized and is not that crucial to your success. Rather aim to get fitter, and to ride or play at a level that is hard, but not exhausting. Your goal should be to get better, and then you'll find that the rest takes care of itself.

Good luck

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