If you indulge me I would like to start off with a true story about a guy named George, names have been changed to protect the identity of this person. George loved to lift heavy weight, and he loved to work hard, but he got into the iron game hearing from people saying cardio kills your gains.
Listening to this, George never performed traditional cardio. Instead, his idea of cardio was lift weights faster and do more reps. Suffice to say, it was not long before George found himself always getting gassed after workouts and his gains suffered. He felt weak and out of shape, even if he did not necessarily look like either.
What had happened is while George had a robust capacity to handle heavy weights, but his body’s ability to recover had been compromised by his lack of cardio. Funny enough, George began adding true aerobic and cardiovascular exercise back into his workouts. However, he did too much, and it still killed his gains, and George felt like he was spinning his wheels.
The story of George is a cautionary tale, and yet it plays out in so many of our lives. For a long time, there was thought around the idea of cardio and weight training negating each other. Even more so for athletes, cardio and explosiveness negate each other. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle.
The mistake many people including George make when cardio is not necessarily their goal is they go all in, or they don’t go at all. If they do cardio they will do way too much of it, or they will succumb to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as their sole source of cardio, or they just avoid cardio like the plague.
All of the above is wrong. The advantage of traditional steady-state cardio is the impact it has on our aerobic energy system. This energy system, when appropriately trained allows us to recover faster, and ought to be the foundation of all our performance.
As with many aspects of fitness, I cannot think of a metaphor more fitting than a pyramid. The bigger the base of the pyramid the more potential you have of making a grand monument. Well regarding the aerobic energy system this is our base of the pyramid. The better this system works the more potential the rest of our training will have regardless of the endeavor.
In coming blogs, I will discuss more clearly what the aerobic energy system is mistakes made when training our aerobic energy system and how to prepare it properly. I will leave you with this, not only is our aerobic energy system the foundation of performance, but it is also the foundation of life.