Over the years, this has been an up, down, and all around type of topic! I have literally tried hundreds of methods, both on myself and with thousands of people that I have trained! This is not a science or physiology lesson, so in laymen’s terms and for you to put to use immediately, this is what is important to understand about conditioning….
(No particular order)
Short duration, high intensity cardio work outs get your heart rate up for hours, and not only make you burn calories, but also put your body in a state to burn fat for 48-72 hours post work out!
Here are 5 of my favorite short duration, high intensity conditioning methods!
TABATA: Squat Jump to Pushup Tabata is a great way to work the nervous and musculatory system while pushing the heart rate as well!!
COMPLEXES: A complex is a series of exercises performed continuously as fast as possible for anywhere from 5 to 8 reps!
ARYDENE: Bike Intervals: Beginner: 10s on 20s off. Advanced: 20s on 10s off!
HILLS: Pick a hill, run up as hard as you can and walk back down. Beginner: Repeat 10 times and Advanced repeat 20 times!
SHUTTLES: Very demanding on the nervous system and all of the starting and stoping creates a nice disturbance throughout your body!
Who’s this for you ask?? People with limited time! People that already do long duration low intensity cardio work as it will be a great shock/ change up to your energy system development.
Long distance anything is bad, (in my opinion “long distance is anything over 20 miles a week) ask anyone who does over 20 miles of running, biking, walking etc, a week what their injury is. I bet they will have one, from the constant wear and tear they are putting on their joints! Not to mention this is a perfect way to over stress / over train your body! When you over stress and over train your body a (body fat) hormone called cortisol is released as a result. This could result of a increase in body fat!
On the other hand, most people took the long distance thing way to far! Now no one can run a mile without passing out! Is that a good thing?? No way! If you can’t walk up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing is that a good thing?? Point being, it’s time to start spending time in the aerobic cardio camp as well!
We love some good old sled pushes! If everyone did 20, 40 yard sled pushes with a little less than half their body weight, than we would have less diabetics in the world! You could push anything that you can slide and load up, it dosent have to be a sled!
Carries are amazing for the energy system as well! Get a heavy weight and hold it like a heavy suit case or bag the same as you do on a regular day, (use good posture) and now walk it for 50 yards 10x or so and trust me you will be sweaty!
Hiking! Hiking can really test your durability / mobility and mental toughness! It also is a great test of cardio! Check out my beautiful girlfriend and I, in Ricketts Glenn PA!
To go along with the above point. If you can’t run a mile without feeling like you’r going to pass out, I think its time to include this energy system and cardiovascular work into your training! We like to incorporate what is called tempo runs! This is simply running a quarter mile or so at a faster pace than what you normally would.
Simply figure out what type of work your body needs! In my opinion everyone needs a little bit of everything! The nice part about the short duration high intensity options is that it will actually improve your aerobic capacity to a degree as well. Hope these basic ideas help you to improve your weekly conditioning! Have fun!