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What is Continuous Training?

By Tania Lakey
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Continuous training is when low- to mid-intensity exercises are performed for more than 20 minutes without resting intervals. Generally, this type of training is used to prepare the body for sustained workouts such as marathons and triathlons, but can also be effective for more casual athletes. It allows the body to work from its aerobic energy stores to improve overall fitness and endurance. Chief benefits of continuous training include fat burning, muscle building, and increasing maximum aerobic potential.

How It's Done

Almost any type of exercise can be done in a continuous way. Jogging, cycling, and swimming are often the most common, but the style of exercise is nowhere near as important as the manner in which it is accomplished. The most important part of this type of training is the amount of time spent performing the exercise.

The main goal behind continuity training is to condition the heart for long periods of exertion. Athletes typically start at about 60% of their full capacity, which means that they are working, but not burning themselves out. A light jog or an easy bike ride that lasts an hour or more are good examples of what this might look like. Although professional athletes often use continuity techniques to improve their endurance training, but it is by no means limited to those with superior athletic ability.

Beginners' Workouts

Personal trainers and sports medicine experts generally agree that continuous exercise is one of the best ways to establish a workout regimen. Those who have never exercised before, or who only do so intermittently, are usually best served by starting out very slowly. A modified continuous training plan of a few minutes of walking followed by 10 to 12 minutes of light jogging, then another few minutes' walk to cool down is often the best way to start getting into shape.

Warming up and cooling down is important in all workouts, but is especially crucial for beginners. When the heart is ramping up to its peak condition, allowing time to ease in and ease out can help prevent muscle injury and shortness of breath. For most athletes, a two-minute warm up and cool down is sufficient, no matter how long the exercise session.

Fitness Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of a continuous exercise plan is the slow but steady improvement most athletes see over time. Someone who may only be able to jog for eight minutes at the start may find, after enough weeks or months have passed, that 12 minutes is achievable. Before long, 20 or even 30 minutes may become normal. Usually at least three or four workouts per week are required to see improvement.

Continuous training can also help establish what is called a "fitness base," a foundation of exercise that athletes can depend on for further training. A person who knows he or she can comfortably jog for 45 minutes will be able to use that amount of time as a window for speed intervals or more intensive workouts later on. When the body is conditioned to keep moving for certain durations, it can adapt to filling those periods with different, more strenuous activities.

Health Benefits

In addition to helping athletes build up their endurance, continuous training can help people lose weight and improve their cardiovascular strength. Contrary to some opinions, losing weight does not always require intense bursts of energy. Regular low-intensity workouts that are long enough to count as continuous training usually lead to sustained weight loss after several months.

Heart health is another significant advantage of these workouts. People who participate in continuous exercise typically have a lower resting heart rate, which can lead to a reduced risk of heart diseases and cardiac stroke. As the body becomes more efficient at processing and distributing oxygen during workouts, the respiratory organs are strengthened as well.

Safety Considerations

In most cases, continuous training is one of the safest forms of exercise because the body is not working at full intensity, and the average duration is not long. As with any form of physical exertion, however, things can go wrong when athletes do not pay attention to their bodies. Serious aches, pains, and muscle soreness can all be signs that the athlete is exercising with too much intensity and should slow down, at least for a little while. Starting slow, knowing when to stop, and always building time for warm-ups and cool-downs are usually the best ways to prevent injury.

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Discussion Comments
By anon332710 — On Apr 30, 2013

What are those wobbly weights called? They're disgusting!

By anon304487 — On Nov 20, 2012

Continuous training is done between 60/80 percent of your MHR. This is aerobic. Anything above 80 percent is anaerobic, and therefore does not benefit you as much if you want to train for long distance events.

By anon200421 — On Jul 27, 2011

will all continuous training be at 80-90 percent of your maximum heart rate? or is it different for everyone?

By youbiKan — On Oct 04, 2010

While advice comes and goes about athletic workouts just as often as dieting advice on the supermarket check stand, it is important to note that individuals should seek proper medical attention before undergoing any serious changes to their daily activity.

When an athlete invests his or her time and energy into developing intricate workout programs, they must also take into account the physical makeup of their body and chemistry.

Eating carbs for some people might be a good idea before a strenuous workout but for others it might not be. The best choice is to go seek your doctors advice far before there is ever an issue with working out too hard or not getting results as all.

Everyone claims to have some secret to staying in shape or dropping a few pounds before a date but I can't caution strongly enough that people can cause serious damage to their bodies by undertaking too much or trying to loose too much weight at one time.

By spreadsheet — On Oct 04, 2010

It is important to note that continuous training can be very strenuous on the human body. It may seem like the light to mid level workout strength is not to much to handle but many athletes have actually injured themselves by not listening to their bodies when they are yearning for relief.

Also the consumption of energy that this form of workout has on the body is fairly significant. While the stress might not be heavy, the draining feeling that such an activity can leave one with is very concerning to nutritionists.

One piece of advice an athlete might take when about to undergo this sort of workout is to consume some carbohydrates before the activity. This may be counter productive for an individual with the intention of losing weight but for the fit athlete, this energy can make the difference between making your muscles more apt to endurance or actually damaging them.

By dkarnowski — On Oct 04, 2010

Continuous training is my favorite type of workout. It is not only vital to my long-distance endurance running but it is the kind of workout that lets you know you were pushing for a long, long time.

This kind of training is the sort that will leave your muscles with that intense burning feeling, the long and deep kind that make it hard to get up the next morning.

This low-stress style of exercise is key though to making one fit and able to perform in long runs and not do serious damage to prolonged stress that the muscles are not used to performing.

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