Cardio has started to make a come back.
Which is music to my ears.
I never got on board with the whole “all you need to do is sprint” mentality, or the “just lift weights faster” mentality.
Cardio, or low intensity training for an extended period of time at a steady state is essential.
And as it seems to be regaining popularity, I’m getting more questions on running.
Is running the best cardio?
How do I get better at running?
How do I start running?
And so on.
So, is running the best cardio?
No! There is no best. There is however a best for you. And the thing with running is, all you need do is step out your front door, no equipment needed.
How do you start? Now that’s the question.
The answer is slowly.
Your goal is to be smooth and silent. If that means slow, then so be it.
You run along the ground, your foot lands without impact, there’s no jarring, and there’s almost no sound.
Smoothness is key.
We’re working cardio, so we don’t need speed, at least not yet.
We simply want to improve our stroke volume (amount if blood the heart can pump in each cycle), we want to improve the efficiency of the lungs.
So we should run at a pace where we can still have a simple conversation. If you wear a heart rate monitor, keep the heart rate low, no higher than 150bpm, ideally in and around 130bpm
So run easy, run smoothly and build up time on your feet.
How much time? How about an hour?
Distance? Well that depends on speed.
And you’ll only run fast if you can run smooth.
2-3 times a week is plenty if you’re starting out or if you’re doing other training. Start with twice a week, add a third as appropriate.
But what if you can’t run that long but still want a good cardio session? Well mix modalities.
Use easy bodyweight exercises, cycle, swim. Change modality every 5 or 10 minutes.
It’s not the exercise that makes it cardio, it’s the intensity and duration.
And unless you’re specifically looking to be a better runner, who cares how you train your aerobic system, so long as you train it.
Why is this important?
Well your aerobic system underpins all the other energy systems. Essentially if you want to be able to recover from higher intensity training, such as circuits or heavy weights, your aerobic system is the key.
So do cardio.