What I hate most about the gym I go to is that they have these big clumpy machines that take up the majority of the gym floor. You know which ones I mean, they are absolutely useless… What they called again… oh yeah, cardio machines.
All jokes aside, a quarter of the gym floor is designated for weights and all the rest is just clustered with rows and rows of treadmills and other machines alike.
I am not a complete hater on cardio (although I do hate doing it myself.) I do believe that cardio has its place in everyone’s program. I’m going to be bold here and say that cardio will help you get stronger….
I know I can’t believe I am saying this either but bear with me and you to will be thinking the same way. Who knows, you might just be hooked on cardio.
Anything can happen . . .
By the way, I want to make it abundantly clear when I talk about cardio training I am not talking about walking on the treadmill talking on the phone. Yes, it might be better than sitting on a coach and doing nothing but it isn’t utilising anything.
The cardio training I am referring to is… well you’ll see in a minute.
Before we go into the different types of cardio training we need to get a little bit scientific – just a little bit, I promise; just so you can understand why you should do cardio and make an informed decision.
As humans, we have 3 different energy pathways we could use.
Depending upon what activity you are doing, for how long and what sources are available will determine what energy pathway you use.
I am not going to go full blown into all of it because I promised you we will only be doing a bit; what I will tell you is enough for you understand the concept so you can make an informed decision and you could be your own coach (probably even better than most coaches.)
Let’s go back to the 3 different pathways the body can use to create energy for movements. They are:
The phosphagen system is the first energy system to kick in. A good example for this is leaping for a sprint as fast as you can. This would be challenging this system. This energy pathway has the capacity to go on for about 10 seconds where thereafter, you will be forced to slow down.
The reason for this is because the energy system is tapped out pushing you into the next phase = the next system, which is a little bit slower.
One would generally use this energy pathway when doing strength-training exercises such as lifting weights. This is due to the fact that they are much shorter sets and need a lot more power to shift the mass amount of weight you are trying to lift.
If your activity exceeds the 10-second threshold your body will then switch into the next energy system, which is the anaerobic pathway.
This system is a little bit slower to start up and a little less powerful than the phosphagen system however, it has a higher endurance capacity.
The anaerobic system can last anywhere between 60 – 90 seconds in length, depending on your fitness level. After about 90 seconds, when the anaerobic system taps out, you will find that you will have to slow down your pace yet again to allow the last energy system to kick in.
This energy system you’ll find to be the most interested system for those that want to build muscle where their typical set of 10 reps would last you around about 45 – 60 seconds.
The last system is called the aerobic system. This system is extremely slow to start working and is the least powerful of all the systems.
What it lacks in power and speed it makes up in endurance.
The aerobic system can go on for hours – granted depending on your fitness level.
This system is used in marathon runs, going for a long jog or doing one massive giant set that takes longer than 90 sec to complete.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Great! I get it! There are 3 different types of energy system the body uses to create energy but how on earth will that make me stronger?”
We need energy to lift weight, to lift big weights and put our muscles under tension long enough so we can grow and have the sexy bod we want.
Now, would you agree that if you build an endurance as in cardio, specifically with the anaerobic system, your body would manage to cope with more weight and tension giving you better results?
So what you want to do is challenge the anaerobic & phosphagen system so your energy system as a whole is better and can hold on to more intense exercises.
Build your endurance so you can get bigger, better, strong and go on for longer!