Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Greatest Fitness Tips Ever.
Three decades ago, endurance training consisted of pretty much one workout: all-out, all the time. Then fitness went mainstream, CEOs started wearing spandex, and "sports scientist" became a legitimate career goal. The result? Periodization, VO2 max, functional strength, and more. Herewith, a highly concentrated dose of Outside training advice distilled from 30 years of health-and-fitness expertise.

GET A ROUTINE Embrace daily rituals, whether it's making coffee just so or walking the dog. Routines can lower blood pressure and slow heart rate.

LEARN FROM OTHER ATHLETES "The Kenyan runners who always win marathons never jog," says pro soccer player LANDON DONOVAN. So Donovan trains at 80 percent of his maximum heart rate until he's exhausted, teaching his body "recovery endurance" through a sequence of sprints and rests. Over time, you'll still need to give your body a break to optimize gains (see Train with a Plan, below), but this ability to push yourself to the brink of collapse and recover quickly is essential for top aerobic athletes.

TURN BIG CHALLENGES INTO SMALL GOALS "Think only about the present and focus on micro-goals," says ultramarathoner DEAN KARNAZES. "Just make it to that stop sign up ahead; OK, now make it to the tree up the street; and so on.

"FIND YOUR LACTATE THRESHOLDWhat's that? LT is the point at which lactic acid accumulates in your blood faster than your body can process it—causing a drop in performance (read: pain). Training below your LT builds aerobic capacity. Training above it builds speed. How to determine your LT: (1) Warm up, 10 minutes. (2) With a heart-rate monitor on, run or cycle on a flat course as fast as you can for 30 minutes.(3) Your LT is your average heart rate for that period.PROTECT YOUR KNEESBy doing nothing. A lot of blown ACLs could be avoided by simply staying down and resting after a fall. A stretched ACL is easily tornon subsequent falls.

TO GET FASTER, YOU MUST PUSH YOURSELF"A runner churning out seven-minute miles will never know how quickly his arms and legs have to move to run a six-minute mile. You can't practice by running slow." —MARK VERSTEGEN, Athletes' Performance founder, author of the Core Performance series

TRAIN WITH A PLAN Here's how to reach peak shape for any sport with one 12-week program.
FIRST MONTH: Complete a full-body weight-lifting circuit twice weekly. Do your cardio workouts on three other days, going long once. Each week, increase the duration of the long day's workout by 10 percent. During the fourth week, cut the workout load by 50 percent. SECOND MONTH: Follow the first month's plan, but cut back to lifting once a week and add another day of cardio. During the eighth week, which is for recovery, cut everything in half. THIRD MONTH: Stop lifting and use that day for cross-training. Ramp up speed by completing one cardio day each week with intervals at your intended race pace. Your long cardio day remains the same for the first two weeks, and for weeks 11 and 12 you cut its duration in half. During week 12, taper by doing only 50 percent of week 11's work.

CHEAT SHEETLift. Lower weights slowly. It helps train your muscles to absorb shock and control your descent in real-world action.Hydrate. For workouts lasting one hour or less, drink only water. For longer outings, bring a sports drink with carbs. Relax. Don't try to make up for missed workouts by doing two long days back to back. If you miss a day, just let it go.

MAINTAIN BASE FITNESS"Never get so out of shape that getting back into shape would be a monumental effort," says alpinist CONRAD ANKER. "I do two things every year: climb El Capitan and do a marathon-length run. They give me goals, and I train accordingly.