AIM – The aim in this comfortable pace test is to find your aerobic threshold or put more simply, your ‘comfortable pace’. This is important for somebody who is just starting a cardiovascular program, especially a beginner.
EQUIPMENT – Absolutely anything. You may not even require equipment if your cardio program is going to consist mainly of swimming, road running, outdoor cycling etc but if you aren’t using a piece of gym based cardiovascular equipment then you are going to require a heart rate monitor for this test.
THE TEST – Ideally you will need a friend or a trainer monitoring you when you take part in the comfortable pace test. You will see why a bit later.
Start the test with your chosen exercise at a very light pace. You will be looking to increase the pace or workload by 10% every minute or two. (This is easier and more accurately done on a piece of gym based equipment)
When you have reached your aerobic threshold or ‘comfortable pace’, you may stop increasing the workload.
Here are some indications that you’ve reached comfortable pace:
Facial Expression – Your friend or trainer should be able to see that you’re exercising through your facial expression – but not experiencing any discomfort
Heart Rate – Your heart rate should be around 70% of your maximum heart rate (maximum HR is approximately 220 minus your age) if you’re reasonably fit or slightly less if you’re deconditioned
Breathing – Your friend or trainer should be able to see you go from nose breathing to breathing out of your mouth
Talking– Friend or trainer will need to ask you questions to monitor your response. You should be able to answer in one sentence. If you can answer in long detail then the load is too easy but if you can only manage one word answers then the intensity is too high and you are out of your comfortable pace.
Your Response – Finally you should feel comfortable at this pace and feel that you can carry on for longer. For how much longer will depend on how de-conditioned you are. If you’re really de-conditioned you may only be able to carry on for four to five minutes. Where as a professional athlete may be able to maintain comfortable pace for hours.
When you’re confident that you’ve reached comfortable pace, continue for four more minutes. Record your heart rate after 3 mins and 30secs, 3 mins 45 secs and 4 minutes. Find the average of the three scores.
This is your approximate comfortable pace and aerobic threshold. You’ve reached the end of the comfortable pace test.