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How to increase your VO2 Max or aerobic fitness score -- essentially, how to increase your aerobic capacity?
Losing weight can help your numbers rise, but one of the best ways to increase cardiorespiratory endurance is to exercise. Studies show that high-intensity interval workouts (pushing yourself during short sessions) can make the biggest difference to your numbers. Here's how to schedule breaks in your five workout routines to boost your heart rate and fitness.
If you go to:
Celebrity fitness trainer Harry Pasternak suggests walking with a purpose rather than at a leisurely pace. An average 155-pound person walking at a brisk pace of 3.5 miles per hour for 30 minutes would burn about 150 calories. It can also raise your heart rate. If the pace is too fast for you, increase your speed with interval exercises. Speed up your pace for one minute and then adjust to a more leisurely pace the next. Ten times as many.
You can also climb mountains, as a brisk hike can increase your heart rate.
If you are running:
Use your speed. The Swedish (and general fitness) term for speed games is Fa Tolek, which means to vary your speed and intensity slightly at random during a run. Challenging yourself during exercise can boost your heart rate without breaking your energy bank. The fun part about Tolek runs (aside from their quirky names) is that you can change them to being able to talk to people (maybe run for 30 seconds, or you can find a tree on the side of the road and walk for one minute in between, then push for 45 seconds at the next interval, and walk or jog for two minutes.
If you are doing strength training:
Work different muscle groups and keep your heart rate high. For example, after doing a set of push-ups, do a set of weighted squats, then bench press, then lunge. Alternating movements of different muscles will allow you to continue working while resting the muscles you have just worked. Repeat your entire cycle three times, taking 30 seconds to a minute (maybe a break) between each cycle if you need to.
Another way to get your heart rate up in the weight room is to do shorter sets with heavier weights. High-intensity strength training can also boost your heart rate.
If you're doing yoga:
Find a vinyasa, strength or "flow" class. You'll be moving with your breath, which will help raise your heart rate. If you can't find a movement class, try to keep Warrior 2 as long as possible. Rudy Maetia, a power yoga teacher, says the pose challenges the whole body and heart.
If you ride a bike (outdoors or indoors!)
Try cycling legend Jens Vogt's 40/20 range. Whether you're on the road or on an exercise bike, it'll keep you riding fast and fun. Pedal for 40 seconds at 80, as much resistance as you can bear, and then pedal for 20 seconds 100 times with no resistance. Repeat 10 times.
A burst of resistance will add an extra challenge and push you toward the anaerobic threshold -- when your body starts producing lactic acid faster than it can get rid of it. In other words, you're trying.