12 Mar Why we shouldn’t neglect cardio…
With a history of weightlifting, strength training and in my younger years… a bit of bodybuilding, I was always fixated and focussed on resistance training and quite often neglected cardio. At the time I was under the impression that cardio training would reduce my #gainzz and slow my recovery. As I’ve gotten older and a little wiser I’ve come to realise that resistance training is still great and really important for a number of health and performance reasons, but cardio is equally important for health and wellbeing.
During our personal training courses and other fitness courses such as gym instructing etc we often discuss the benefits of cardiovascular training and also outline the importance of a strong respiratory and circulatory system for performance, health and wellbeing.
#1 Improved circulatory and heart health… this speaks for itself really… what’s the point in being stacked and ripped if you can’t walk up the stairs without getting out of breath? Regular cardiovascular training helps increase stroke volume (which is the amount of blood your heart pumps out in one contraction). When your stroke volume increases the number of contractions your heart needs to make now reduces. To put this into perspective, if your resting heart rate was 90 beats per minute then your heart would contract inexcess of 46 million times a year. If however your resting heart rate was 60 beats per minute then it would contract around 31 million times a year… whose heart is going to give in first?
#2 Management of health conditions… cardiovascular training can help manage a number of health conditions such as Diabetes Type II. Although it is hypothesised that higher intensity exercise and anaerobic training improves insulin sensitivity better than lower / steady state cardio, when working with clients with several co morbidities, steady state / low intensity cardio should be the main form or training.
#3 Improve recovery… some trainers believe that low intensity and steady state cardio can help improve recovery after a tough resistance training session. Although there isn’t a great deal of research out there to support this, I have experienced this myself, especially when I have DOMs. I would only be guessing if I was to offer a suggestion as to how this improves recovery, but I believe it is down to increased circulation and the increased supply of oxygen, micro and macro nutrients to the muscle.
#4 Improve body composition… although resistance training creates a caloric deficit when your nutrition is programmed appropriately which results in some weight / fat loss, cardiovascular training has been proven time and time again to burn more fat. Combining cardiovascular training with resistance training will therefore result in better body composition than cardiovascular training or resistance training on their own.
#5 Release stress… a common term used amongst endurance activists is ‘runner’s high’. This is because of the feel good hormones which are released during cardiovascular training. As well as this, cardiovascular training can reduce stress and help us escape the realities of life such as work and the stress that work brings. Stress can cause a number of health conditions including hypertension, anxiety, heart conditions and insomnia which causes a number of other potential health conditions.
As I mentioned above, the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve started to appreciate the benefits of cardiovascular training. Not only does cardio help me maintain a relatively lean physique but it also helps me de-stress, recover better and maintain my health… win win!!