Condition Yourself Without Running
It isn’t news to anyone that aerobic training is essential. Since we were kids in gym class, there was always an emphasis on some long-duration conditioning. We constantly hear in the news about the importance of heart health and its common association with long-distance running. But that is not necessarily true. I want to show you a new way to train your aerobic system that actually works better than long-distance running.
Cardiac Output is the best way to increase your overall aerobic capacity. It is most commonly referred to as “steady state” cardio or low-intensity cardio. The main benefit of training for a better cardiac output is that it creates more capillaries within the muscle and therefore gives you more “roads” to get oxygen to the muscle. Aerobic training creates energy currency (ATP) through the use of oxygen to break down fat. This is likely why you have heard that conditioning burns more fat, because it uses fat to break down and create usable energy.
Training for cardiac output creates an adaptation in the heart called left ventricular hypertrophy, which is where the left ventricle enlarges or hypertrophies. This ends up allowing more blood to get pumped out per stroke. The upside of this is that now there is more oxygen, nutrients, and fuel getting pumped into my skeletal muscle per heartbeat.
Building up your cardiac output can only come from low-intensity and long-duration stress to create the eccentric hypertrophy we are looking for. Lifting weights will not increase this adaptation due to the inability to sustain the low intently work for a long enough time.
Improve Your Aerobic Capacity
I am a massive fan of the method I am about to explain to you because it is a new take on a method you already know of. I am talking about high-intensity intervals. Most people go wrong when they go maximum effort 10/10 intensity for every exercise they do in the interval work. The goal here is to create a low-intensity stress through movement that can be completed without stopping. This means we need to pick movements that have low levels of local fatigue. An example of local fatigue would be pull-ups or pushups. These are movements that have a central location of muscle use, being the lats and arms. In this case, if I were to prescribe 60 seconds of work, there is a good chance that few people could complete one, let alone multiple sets of this movement without a large amount of fatigue. At this rate, the local muscular endurance would inhibit my ability to sustain low-intensity work and get the aerobic adaptation I want.
For this method to be effective, we need to choose exercises that are considered “global” or more full body. Think bike, rower, kettlebell swings, sled pushes, and unweighted step-ups. They can be done for the full duration of time without stopping or fatigue setting into the muscle groups being used and requiring us to stop.
Parameters for High-Intensity Training
- Low resistance movements that can be sustained for the entire interval without stopping
- 15-20 minutes in total duration
- Incomplete rest intervals
- 1-2 sessions per week
With these parameters, we are looking at sessions that are great for entrepreneurs. They are short, easy to get into, and don’t require a ton of thinking. They don’t even really need to change very often outside of getting bored.
As I said before, these need to be exercises you can complete for multiple rounds. Round one should not look super different from the last round. The overall goal is still to keep the heart rate fairly consistent so that I don't have any crazy spikes of rest and intensity. Seeing the heart rate go off the chart in either direction means we have lost our constant heart rate level. I would say our heart rate should be between 110 and 160 bpm, with minor ups and downs rather than large ones.
Here is a sample program
5 Rounds of:
- Air Bike for Calories x 60s
- Russian KB Swings x 60s
- Rowing for Calories x 60s
- Box step-ups (unweighted) x 60s
- Rest x 60s
5 rounds of
- Sled push x 60s
- Mb slams x 60s
- Bear Hug Sandball Carry x 60s
- Lateral Skater Hops x 60s
I hope this article makes aerobic training easier for you. Remember, for it to remain aerobic and for fat to be the primary source of fuel, the intensity needs to be low and sustainable. At no point should it get so difficult that you need to stop or change the exercise. We want the heart rate to stay between 110 and 160 with minimal spikes instead of large ones. Pick some global exercises that don’t cause so much localized muscle fatigue that you cannot continue. 15-20 minutes max and 1-2 times a week!
Jacob Gray | Strength & Performance Coach | LinkedIn