Cardio within a gym/fitness facility can often be walking or running on a treadmill, not very exciting and for some people, cardio is completely avoided.
But it’s so much more:
Let’s keep this simple, cardio helps strengthen your heart and lungs. Your heart is a muscle that is needed more than any other muscle we have. Improving your cardio will help you improve your endurance from strength sessions, classes and improve daily life like walking.
But it’s boring:
One of the reasons its seen as being boring and not very exciting is there is often no structure applied to the session, there is no goal and improvement is not measured.
Within a fitness facility kitted out with a large amount of treadmills, cross trainers and rowers etc, we see people jump from one bit of kit to another fairly quickly.
Let’s make it more exciting and worth while.
Firstly you may only ever do cardio as a warm up but even then, it needs structure.
You may do cardio to improve your endurance, conditioning and it’s part of your weekly training. But it needs structure.
You may use equipment like a rowing machine, cross trainer or bike for off feet conditioning like many professionals sports do like rugby for example, but it needs structure.
To make it more exciting and worth while it needs structure, it needs a plan, many have nice sports watches with heart rate monitors but don’t know their heart rate zones. Heart rate based training is a great way to provide structure, motivation and when used alongside other data you can easily track your progression.
Most cardio equipment within a gym will have data such as pace, speed, resistance, time, distance and some even have built in training sessions.
Keep it simple: (example session plan)
Purpose = improve endurance/conditioning for someone new or returning to training.
Use any cardio equipment which you like.
Set up the equipment correctly if it needs setting up, this includes learning how to use it.
Warm up for 10 minutes with the intensity increasing every couple of minutes. Focus on technique and the session ahead.
By the end of the 10 minutes we should feel a little breathless, on a scale of 1-5 we are looking for 2-3, you can talk but breathless.
Complete 5-15 minutes at this level of intensity (2-3) , if at any time it feels to hard or or cant talk reduce the intensity.
Complete 5 minutes cool down (don’t just stop at the end of the main set).
So this session plan is between 20 and 30 minutes so we know how long our session is.
Throughout the session we warmed up, we had a main session and a cool down which provided structure.
We used a simple scale of 1-5 to create and monitor intensity while also offering a regression if the intensity was to high.
From this initial session we can now record time within each zone 10min w/up 5-15min main set 5min c/down, we can record the level of resistance, speed, distance in each zone, we can record how we felt and if wearing a nice watch with HR monitor we could have pressed lap when going into the next part of the session so once home we could review how HR was affected.
We now have the foundations for an endurance session that can be repeated, progressed or regressed if too hard. Over time by using basic data we will see improvement which provides motivation.
A simple session that can lead to many places.
This plan can also be adapted for those that have a high level of fitness, the main set could be increased, maybe have 2 blocks within the main set with a short recovery, intensity can be set to the individual and this plan could also be followed with a friend or even in a class environment because on a scale of 1-5 its personal; to each person therefore we all train at the intensity right for us.
The key to an endurance based session is not going too hard or too easy, comfortably uncomfortable is good, you can hold a conversation but breathless and reduce intensity if you can only say 1 or 2 words.