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  • bradleybrookhart

What type of cardio should I be doing?

Have you ever wondered what the best form of cardiovascular/respiratory (or cardio) training is?  The easiest answer to that question is, it depends.  Shocking right.  I know.  I answer a lot of questions by saying this.  But the fact is, that is correct.  Depending on your goals, training age, health history, etc, will determine the most appropriate cardiovascular training method for you at this given time.

For example:  

  • If you are training for a marathon, you need to perform long runs mixed with some interval sprints

  • If you are training for a triathlon, you need to swim, bike and run

  • If you just want to improve your health, you can run, bike, swim or perform many of the other training methods I will discuss below

Although running, biking and swimming (or the “Big 3” as I often refer to them) are great means of cardiovascular/respiratory training, they are not the only ones.

Think about this... cardiovascular training is aerobic training.  Aerobic training simply means with oxygen.  As long as the activity increases your heart rate and requires your body to inhale more oxygen and expel more carbon dioxide, that’s cardio training.

That being said.  Lifting weights can challenge your cardiovascular and respiratory systems too.

A few methods in the weight room that can challenge your cardiovascular and respiratory systems…

  • Circuit Training

  • Lift Heavy Weight (if you haven’t done this, trust me, your heart rate will be elevated after each set)

  • High Volume Training

Here a few other ways to get your cardio in at the gym without performing the “Big 3”…

  • Rowing 

  • Sled Pulls/Pushes

  • Jump Rope

  • Battle Ropes

If you do not like to run, bike or swim, feel free and get your cardio in while you lift weights or while you are at the gym.  Sometimes cardio can become boring, therefore mix up your methods at the gym.

My recommendation:

If you do not have any specific training goals and want to improve your overall health, mix up your cardio training methods.  Keep it fresh while challenging yourself.  Long slow runs all the time are not effective at improving your health.

**I repeat, long slow cardio is not effective at losing weight. You must change up the tempo and types of training performed.

If you are training for something specific, 5K, Duathlon, then your training needs to mimic those training demands.  However you can still cross train and include other methods into your training to avoid overuse injuries.

If you have specific needs you would like addressed, please reach out to me.

Here is what I like to do:

In regards to the “Big Three” (Running, Biking and Swimming) my personal favorite cardio is sprints/running.  Running always increases my heart rate and sprinting works even better.  Biking can crush my legs but doesn’t tax my respiratory system as much as running/sprints. Swimming challenges my muscles and coordination more than my cardiovascular system.  Perhaps if I had the opportunity to swim more often I would become more efficient and it would challenge me more.

However, running and doing sprints, especially on sidewalk/streets with concrete, often aggravates my shins and causes me to limit the amount of times I perform sprints.  Biking is softer on my shins and therefore I perform it 3-4 times per week.

My weekly training program looks as follows:

5-6 days of lifting

3-4 days of biking

Everyone is different and as I stated above, everyone's needs will be different. All programs need to be unique to the individual.  If you have any needs you would like addressed, please reach out to me.

Brad Brookhart


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