Friday, February 18, 2011

Cardio: What to Do?, Part 2

Just a quick add-on to the post from Wednesday, regarding "cardio confusion" and how to effectively enhance your cardiovascular capacity.

I had given a bunch of options, but didn't really specify which ones to do, depending on your current goals and needs.

Which should cardio modality should you choose? (options 1-7 are repeated below)

Baseball, Softball, Football, Track Athletes (ex. Sprinters) Volleyball, etc.:  This category is for those that play a sport that doesn't require you to "be in action" over 30 seconds, on the average.  Choose #1,2, 3, 4, and, occasionally, 5 or 6.  Avoid #7 at all costs!  I often tell our baseball guys: if you want to be slow, weak, and lack explosive power, then perform steady-state cardio.

Lacrosse, Wrestling, Soccer, etc.  This category is for those that have to "be in action" for over 30 seconds at a time, but with bouts of rest mixed in.  You may perform all of the above (#1-7), but I would still limit jogging, and cut out the conditioning when you're in-season.  You'll get all the conditioning you need through practice and playing games.

Joe and Jane:  This category is for the average fitness enthusiast.  I'd keep your cardio to options 1-4, and occasionally toss in 5 or 6 depending on your goals.  Only jog if you truly enjoy it (i.e. not because you feel it's the only way to improve your cardiovascular system).

The Obese Client:  Options 1 and 2 only!  Unless you're preforming HIIT on an airdyne bike or something else low-impact.  I honestly don't understand when trainers prescribe jogging to the obese customer.  Are you kidding me?  Running requires your body to absorb roughly 2-4 times bodyweight on every step.  This is a recipe for injury for those that are overweight and also do not possess the necessariy structural fortitude to withstand that kind of beating for hundreds, often thousands, of repetitions (the injury rate for overweight clients beginning a running program is quite high, BTW).

Options (not an all-inclusive list, but a good start)

  1. Sled pushing/dragging is the clear winner, in my opinion.  Very low stress on the joints, and it's easy to recover from due to minimal eccentric loading on the muscles.  The important part is to avoid turning the sled session into a vomit fest (it's easy to do, if you've never pushed a sled before).  Ben Bruno just wrote an awesome post on sled dragging, so I won't elaborate much.  I highly encourage you to check it out HERE. 
  2. Walk.  Again, I feel it's highly underrated and equally good for the mind as it is for the body. 
  3. A light circuit of bodyweight exercises, mobility drills, and weighted exercises performed with no more than 30-40% of your 1RM.  The goal here will simply be to enhance blood flow to damaged tissue and keep your body fresh.
  4. Jump Rope
  5. HIIT.  Preferably on an Airdyne bike or something else low impact (even an elliptical if necessary). 
  6. A high intensity body weight circuit such as the one I posted about yesterday (you can see it below).  This is a clear example of working in the 90+% HRmax range.  I don't recommend doing this often though, especially if your primary training goal is to gain strength and power.
  7. Jog. 

On a slightly unrelated note, here's a great video that the lifters in the crowd will enjoy.  This vid has been floating around for quite a while now, but I thought I'd pass it along for those who hadn't seen it yet.  It's a compilation of the Citadel baseball's strength and conditioning over the past few months.  Congrats to strength coach Donnell Boucher for clearly putting a lot of effort and dedication into the program!

Hope everyone has an awesome weekend!


Tim said...

How do you feel about stair masters/stair steppers?

Also is it important to stick with one type of cardio exercise, or rotate between several (ex: jogging, jump rope, stair-stepper, repeat)?

Stevo said...

Sorry I'm just seeing this! I think stair steppers can be a great option, used in moderation.

Also, I would rotate between a couple types of cardio modalities, as opposed to sticking with just one. However, I wouldn't go above 3 different choices for a training cycle, as it will make it easier to track improvement that way.

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