To prepare for Outward Bound, focus your training program on increasing your body’s capacity to maximize oxygen intake. This will increase the capability of your heart and circulatory system to supply blood and oxygen to all organs and tissues. Start with an aerobic activity that you enjoy like running, bicycling, skating or swimming. These activities, when done for at least 30 continuous minutes, stimulate heart and lung activity. While exercising three times a week is the minimum, five or six times a week is optimum. Stretch and work out with light weights to maintain flexibility and build strength.
We strongly suggest that applicants who are overweight or have high blood pressure, family history of heart disease, diabetes, a prolonged sedentary lifestyle or smoke more than one pack a week consult with their physician to establish an exercise program.
TARGET HEART RATE AND THE TALK TEST
Exercise physiologists agree that in order to develop aerobic fitness, you must get your heart beating faster than normal. Efficient training is not dependent upon the speed your body moves, but rather on the number of times your heart beats per minute (take your pulse for 6 seconds and multiply by 10). Exercise too slowly and all you’re doing is burning calories, too fast and you run the risk of burning out. The key to aerobic fitness training lies in moderate effort. This can be readily monitored in two ways.
A common rule of thumb is to increase your resting heart rate to your Target Heart Rate (THR), a number derived by subtracting your age from 170 (170 - Age = THR). This formula approximates the number of times your heart should beat per minute in order to optimize your workout. Maintain this level (which will end up being in the range of 120 to 150 beats per minute) for a minimum of 30 minutes, three times a week (five times a week is optimum).
Perhaps the most useful measure of whether you are exercising too hard is your ability to pass the Talk Test. If you are pushing too hard to carry on a conversation without panting, then it is possible that you are working harder than our body can train. If slow running leaves you breathless, then slow to a walk. If you are a beginner, you may find that you have to move quite slowly to pass the Talk Test but, as you train and your ability to transport oxygen becomes more efficient, your speed and your ability to sustain performance will naturally increase.
EIGHT WEEK FITNESS PROGRAM
This program outline is appropriate if you enrolled eight or more weeks prior to your course start. If you don’t have the full eight weeks to train, adjust this program accordingly. Take this conditioning program seriously; getting in good shape before your course will significantly increase your opportunities for success and reduce the chance of injury.
The general rules of the road are these:
• enjoy yourself
• be careful – avoid injury
• increase your fitness regimen by no more than 10% per week
• take at least one day off a week;
• finish your workout smiling.
Aerobic Activities Indoors: Stair climber, stationary bicycles, rowing machines, aerobic classes, yoga, team sports or swimming.
Aerobic Activities Outdoors: Running, hiking, power walking or cross-country skiing. Hilly terrain is best. If hills are not available to you, integrate a section of stairs (buildings, stadium bleachers).
Strength Training: Supplement the above with weight training or sit-ups and push-ups. Focus on building strength in your legs and supportive muscles of the back, shoulders and stomach.
EIGHT WEEK FITNESS PROGRAM OUTLINE
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North Carolina Outward Bound School is a registered 501(c)(3). Contributions are therefore tax-deductible to the full extent provided by the law. Financial information about North Carolina Outward Bound School is available from the NC State Solicitation Licensing Branch at (919) 733-4150.