One of the key elements of a proper periodised training programme commonly followed by elite and professional athletes is a preparatory period of exercise called base training.
Base training normally includes longer duration, lower intensity aerobic exercise and is used to build the body’s cardiovascular function and slowly acclimate muscles and joints to the rigorous work that is set to follow as we shift from a more sedentary to a more active state.
This base training is done during the off-season, which can fall within different times of the year, depending on the sporting code.
This type of lower intensity, longer duration base training also works for body sculpting, because fat is generally used as the primary fuel source at this level of exercise intensity. Over the course of a base period, your body learns to more readily break down and utilise fat as an energy source, provided you regulate your carb intake by either eating low carb, or training in a carb depleted state.
“… a slight increase in intensity or duration of about 10%, at least every three weeks, will ensure that you reach your next phase of training…”
It is also an ideal time to cross-train, trying out new forms of exercise that you may not have tried before. You can also vary your weight training programme, making it more aerobically focused by doing more reps, combined with more sets or even super-setting antagonist exercises.
It is important to include some level of progression during your base training programme, though. This should include a slight increase in intensity or duration of about 10%, at least every three weeks, which will ensure that you reach your next phase of training ready for the higher intensities and workloads. These increases should build up to just below your aerobic threshold, because with continual training at or near your aerobic threshold you’ll slowly increase the level of training intensity you are able to maintain later on in your programme.
Basically, with base training you are laying the foundation for the high-intensity training phases in your programme that will follow, allowing you to work at the intensity you require to optimally adapt and make the best (and quickest) gains.
By Pedro van Gaalen