Cardio.” It’s a familiar word, especially if you’re someone who exercises regularly. But do we all really understand what cardio is and how it works? Is it a 5-mile run or is it 30 minutes on the stationary bike? Can’t cardio be improved by playing a game of pickup basketball or running some interval sprints, too? Once you start to realize that the concept of cardio is more nebulous than you might have originally imagined, it is easier to understand why people are having such a difficult time using this style of training to achieve results.
Cardio, to answer the original question, is a term that refers to cardiovascular fitness, otherwise known as aerobic fitness. In the Training for Warriors system, Cardio is training focused on improving the capacity and efficiency of the cardiovascular system. Although you may think that training focused on cardiovascular benefits has been around for centuries, it actually only dates back to the onset of the 1970s fitness boom, which began with Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s publication of a book entitled Aerobics. The fitness boom spawned many of today’s biggest fitness-oriented corporations, including brands like Nike and Gatorade. Prior to that time, no one had ever heard of running shoes and sports drinks. You ran in your Converse Chuck Taylors or Red Ball Jets and drank water to re-hydrate. Back then, the only time you ran was if you were trying to catch a bus or the coach made you do laps for being late to practice.
All about Cardio Workouts
Just as the running shoe and sports drink industries evolved, so has the concept of cardio fitness. Today we know that improving your cardio is not just a matter of getting out there and doing slow long distance runs. Modern sport science has revealed that conditioning for cardiovascular adaptations is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. Think about it this way: A man recovering from heart surgery will go through “phase I” cardiac rehabilitation. He will be monitored by a physical therapist while he walks very slowly in the hospital hallway. For him, this is cardio training. However, if I take a trained runner and have him do the same thing, there will be no training stimulus and no training adaptation.
Why You Should?
If your ultimate goal is to improve your ability to run slowly over long distances, then the slow long-distance run approach may be okay, but it is also time-consuming and can place a lot of stress on body parts. Most people are unaware that there are better ways to achieve cardiovascular fitness. These styles can provide other benefits such as strength, power, muscle endurance, and flexibility. In addition, body composition can be improved—less fat and more lean body mass.