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It’s no secret that I like lifting weights more than doing cardio.
That includes any form of cardio – lifting weights faster, running, rowing, biking, stairs, hiking, all of it.
BUT – we need cardio and being conditioned has awesome carry over into lifting more weights. So here we are, talking about cardio.
Imma share five reasons to do cardio. And I’ll likely dive a bit deeper into some of these than others, but I’m stoked for this one. So let’s get to it.
Under ESD we improve heart rate variability, improve our anaerobic and aerobic thresholds.
High HRV – anabolic state (recovery state)
Low HRV – catabolic state (lead to over training rather than over reaching)
Want to be anabolic AFTER training, which is also why a cool down is important. You’ve ramped yourself up from training, and are in a catabolic state. A cool down can help bring it back to a more anabolic, parasympathetic state.
It’s not only WORKING at a certain heart rate but then working on getting it DOWN in the rest interval – often 50 beats below max during the working period. This has huge carryover into strength training and work capacity. Your ability to bring the heart rate rate down after a working set so that accumulation doesn’t completely toast you when you should be focused on taxing the muscles.
It just teaches you so much and it brought me back to loving cardio and conditioning after hating it for years. And that’s because I had purpose for it. There were goals within the heart rate training and it gave me a protocol to follow. Which for me, makes it more enjoyable and attainable. For instance I needed to keep heart rate at 170 +\- 5 beats per minute for three minutes. And then rest for two minutes or until my heart rate drops to 130. And that’s how you track progress – how quickly the heart rate recovers. When it starts to not recover, you know you’re reaching your current threshold.
ANYWAY – you can see why it’s amazing and effective.
I have been following Joel Jamieson for almost 10 years now. Before Instagram posts were education based, I used his blog, 8 Weeks Out almost exclusively for conditioning information.
And then of course I use his protocols in BBA for conditioning – and that’s from his book Ultimate MMA Conditioning. It’s a super easy but understandable read, and has progressive protocols for cardiac output, thresholds, high intensity continuous training, cardiac power intervals, and so on and so forth. It gives PURPOSE to your cardio and I swear once you know about energy systems development, you can’t go back and all other cardio feels pointless.
But, it’s not always pointless…which brings us to our next point.
This is a follow up and likely a byproduct of number one. Ideally improving your energy systems improves your cardiovascular health.
And when I talk about cardiovascular health I am referring to your heart’s ability to function optimally and efficiently. Get blood where it needs to go with the least amount of work.
That’s really it. As you improve heart rate variability and recovery, your heart becomes an efficient, well oiled machine, which then puts less stress on your heart.
This one is where “pointless cardio” is fine. This is not a scenario I use with my clients, but it can certainly be effective.
There is SOME truth to cardio being aligned with losing weight. And in the simplest form, it can increase your caloric deficit. We then need to consider your strength training. And in that case I’d suggest doing cardio separate from strength training or after strength training if they have to happen back to back.
I have a full call on this in Annie’s Secret Lab of Brain Gains, exclusive to Built By Annie. But if strength training is the main goal and cardio is just being used as a tool to burn more calories instead of eating less food, then do the cardio after your lift.
And as far as the type of cardio, that depends too. But in this scenario it depends on what kind of caloric deficit you’re needing and choosing a cardio protocol that gets you that. You’d hopefully be consulting your coach about this.
You’re training for a local CrossFit comp or triathlon or half marathon or some sort of conditioning based event.
That obviously makes sense.
I will say that if you’re training for something, your conditioning should be related to the demands of that event.
That is both in modality of training and type of energy systems.
Doing only high intensity intervals would not be effective for training for a marathon, just as only running on flat ground would not be appropriate if you’re doing a 12 mile trail run.
You’ll need to prepare your body in modality AND energy systems.
That’s about it for that one.
For instance I have a few clients between 1:1 and BBA that either teach spin class, take kickboxing, or are on a rowing team.
If you follow Little Lyss, she likes running and trail running, so that’s what she does.
The only thing I like to address here is that if you’re strength training and doing cardio, you need to prioritize recovery and fuel intake.
We want to make sure you’re not overtraining or really, under recovering. You want to get the benefits of both the enjoyable cardio of choice and the strength training. Not for one to take away from the other.
Alright! Those are my personal five reasons a human should do cardio.
I obviously use the first one with my clients, and it has many positive carryovers to heart heath, recovery, HRV and your strength training. Which for me, is why it’s #1.
If you want an additional caloric deficit and don’t want to make it happen via eating less, sure, do cardio.
Enjoy it? Then do cardio.
Training for an event? Just make sure your conditioning makes sense.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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