Featured Equipment: heart rate monitor, exercise bike, Assault Air bike, recumbent exercise bike, Diamondback

Cardiovascular Conditioning

Conditioning is critical. Conditioning done right improves and increases stamina, endurance, vitality and favorably alters body composition. We need train our “internal plumbing” with the same regularity and intensity we use to train our external musculature. The heart and lungs are muscles as surely as the biceps and thighs. Targeted training of these internal muscles strengthens them and improves their functionality while increasing organ capacities and capabilities.

Internal muscles need to be trained consistently and with sustained intensity. To obtain results from our cardiovascular training efforts sessions need generate a degree of pure physical effort sufficient enough to trigger the adaptive response: only when the adaptive response is triggered do we reap any physiological benefit.

Cardio mode or method need be selected. Session frequency, duration and intensity are considerations. Seminar attendees are made aware of the available choices and explained the differences. Low intensity need be offset with long duration; high intensity cardio necessitates short duration sessions. There is always an inverse relationship between intensity and duration.

  • Arteries and veins are highways used for delivering nutrients to muscles and then removing waste products. Cardio exercise flushes and power-washes sludge and plaque off arterial walls. Intense effort sends torrents of blood rushing to and from muscles.
  • The central nervous system and brain are given a needed respite when we engage in intense aerobic activity. This is highly beneficial as the ever-active mind can become overused and over-heated. Exercise allows the brain and CNS to be taken “off line” and given a long overdue break.
  • Consistent cardio amps up the human metabolism; intense aerobic exercise turns up the bodily thermostat, causing calories to be burned at an accelerated rate. The aerobically amped metabolism stays elevated for hours after the end of the training session.

Have a goal; let the goal determine the plan, set the plan into a timeframe

The key cardio questions are: what kind of exercise? How long? How often and how hard? Mode, method, tool, duration, intensity and frequency are elements woven into an overarching periodized strategy. Cardio training goals broadly fall into one of three generalized categories, these often overlap...

  • Body composition manipulation
  • Improved bio-motor skills (stamina, endurance, sustained strength)
  • Improved performance in any and all athletic benchmarks

If periodized nutrition is coordinated with periodized cardio exercise, body fat is systematically reduced, thereby improving body composition. Improve body composition and automatically improve athletic performance, regardless the drill or athletic benchmark selected.

The type of cardio exercise you select, the mode, is entirely personal. Be aware that not all cardio modes are created equal. Our approach to cardio incorporates the heart rate monitor. The use of the heart rate monitor enables us to cross-compare the effectiveness of different types and kinds of aerobic activity. How does 30-minutes of racquetball compare to 30-minutes riding the exercise bike? How does a 45-minute jog compare to 45-minutes using the Nordic Track?

The heart rate monitor enables us to access aerobic intensity. Would you lift weights without knowing the poundage? Why do cardio without determining the exercise’s impact on the heart? By using the heart rate monitor, a whole new avenue of potential progress is created. Compile workout data each successive week. Here is a hypothetical cardio diary entry….

Workout: 2-15-16 - Assault Air Bike push-pull stationary bike
Duration - 40 minutes
Heart rate average for session 142 beats per minute
Age-relate HR - 83.4%
Calories oxidized - 611 calories
Calories per minute average - 15.28 calories per minute

This is a tremendous amount of cardio data. Now the trainee can cross-compare this session to previous sessions. Cross-compare this Assault Air Bike session to the statistics generated using a recumbent exercise bike in a 40-minute session. Now we can determine the effectiveness of our cardio mode and cardio tool choices.

Notating sessions allows the trainee to create their own periodized cardio templates: one simplistic scenario could be a quest to lose 20-pounds in ten weeks, while gradually getting back into better shape. The trainee uses a SportsArt Bike in pre-work, early morning home sessions….

Week # of sessions duration ARHR max % calories bodyweight
1. 3 30 minutes 55% of ARHR max 220 220
2. 3 33 60% 330 218
3. 4 35 63% 350 216
4. 4 37 65% 375 214
5. 4 40 67% 400 212
6. 5 42 70% 450 210
7. 5 45 72% 500 208
8. 5 47 75% 550 206
9. 6 50 77% 600 204
10. 6 50 80% 630 202

Modes, Methods and Tools

  • Everyone that does fitness likely performs some form of cardio exercise. Most fitness buffs obtain little or no results from their cardio efforts, for a variety of reasons, chief amongst them, insufficient intensity – that, and allowing bad nutrition to cancel out gym gains.
  • Place realistic cardio goals into a periodized timeframe.
  • Stair-step upward, methodically attaining weekly mini-goals

Cardio and conditioning discussion items...

  • Burst (or Interval) cardio purposefully injects an element of muscular effort into an aerobic format. Muscle contractions are performed for an extended period. High intensity necessitates shorter duration sessions.
  • Steady-state cardio: the idea is propel (regardless the mode or tool) oneself in the most efficient possible fashion.
  • Low intensity necessitates longer sessions.
  • Bi-limb cardio, Quad-limbed cardio: The more limbs involved in the cardio effort the greater the cardio capacity and deeper the aerobic inroad.
  • Frequency variations: what is the best use of your available (cardio) time to train?
  • Timing: is there an optimal time of day to perform aerobic activity?
  • Syncing cardio with nutrition to strip off body fat

About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of numerous books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.