The pendulum swings hard from one side to the next in a blink of an eye in the fitness world. My prediction is that doing cardio will be the thing for all lifters.
For a while, cardio was frowned upon as it was the king destructor of gainZ, and even made you fat!
Say what? Remind me again how burning more calories makes you fatter?
Now the word on the street is that your gainZ will suffer if you are not doing your 3-4 hours of slow to moderate Zone 2 cardio.
As always, the truth is in the middle.
If your aerobic system (measured by VO2 max) is in the bottom 20% of the population, you have some work to do, my heavily-muscled friend.
If, however, you are near the top, moderate to low intensity Zone 2 work is unlikely to be beneficial other than if you like blisters on your ass from that much seat time on the bike.
3 Step Process for Aerobic Development
- Pick a full body cardiovascular movement such as biking, running, versa climber, cross country skiing, or rowing. Sorry, Brosefus, lifting weights faster will not cut the cheese here.
- Add some thermal stress. This one is easy if you live almost anywhere in the US right now. My fave is to pull the rower outside to get some heat, vitamin D, and some distance work for your eye muscles. Do not be an idiot, listen to your body, hydrate well with extra sodium and electrolytes. I love me some LMNT for it.
- Do high quality work. Don’t just hop on the rower and flop around like a spasmodic limb fish with hands. Pick a pace that results in a heart rate around 140 -160 bpm if you are looking for aerobic development. That is a rough range and will be different for each person. Go for as long as you can hold that pace; then stop.
Add some cold water post your first session.
I use my chest freezer that I converted into cold water immersion for 2-4 minutes at 47 F, then back for another cardio round followed by cold again.
This is a poor man’s version of contrast work if you don’t have a sauna. You can use cold water from the shower too if you don’t have a converted freezer.
Pictured in the photo below is what I did the other day. 10 min on the rower at about a 1:59 pace for 10 minutes, CWI at 48 F for 3 minutes, back to the rower again for 10 min at the same pace and CWI post again.
Just 2 rounds and done.
HRV was nice the next day. I got in some stress on my homeostatic regulators for better phys flex and some cardiovascular development too without any extra impact from running.
Let me know how it goes for you!