Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Q and A: Cardio Work and Intervals

A buddy of mine is looking to increase his cardio and you have talked about interval training as the way to go over slow, steady state cardio. What were the specifics of your recommendations again? He's a muscular 202lbs and is looking to do some treadmill work to increase the strength of his heart and lungs.

Good question! Yes, higher intensity work is the way to go!

What is his main goal? Increased performance on a sprint or overall conditioning? What does he use to measure “success" --that will determine the exact proto used. Even the word "conditioning" is very vague.

Assuming he is looking for overall general cardiac health and to increase his speed a bit my first recommendation is to NOT use a treadmill. I will have a post coming up soon with all the details on why I believe this, so hold tight.

"It isn't Cardio if it isn't plugged in!" Geoff Neupert

If you have no other option (I even like bikes better) and still insist on doing the treadmill, a good starting point is about 30 seconds of all out running with 1:30 min at a fast walking pace for someone who is in pretty good "shape". Total time about 6 minutes to start and work up from there. As you progress your total time and time spent running will increase and your low intensity time will decrease.

I also don't recommend anyone do high intensity running without a gait analysis as running on "jammed/ poor mobility" joints will eventually cause issues. This is not a matter of "if" it is a matter of time and repeated impact. Think of landing from a jump without bending your knees to absorb the shock---same idea if the joints are not working correctly. If you are in the MN area and need a gait analysis, contact me and see this link for more info.

Other options are Kettlebells (hey, I do that too!--shameless I know), sandbags, DB intervals, car pushing, BW (body weight) drills, jumping rope, etc. I prefer all of them to the treadmill.

If you have access to a HR (heart rate) monitor, that is my preferred way to set up intervals since you can take the person's actual biofeedback and use that to set up intervals instead of guessing at a time. You can also get fancy and record HR recovery times and new ones even use HRV (heart rate variability) to assess your ability to train that day. Most people can use just a basic one and even pick up a cheap one off ebay.

Hope that helps! Any comments, let me know.

Rock on

Mike N