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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cardio Is Cardio Right? One Size Fits All? Hell No!

Around the Fort Benning Area, we live in a brain washed cardio heavy area. The Army is a cardio based organization, although I disagree with that concept, it is what it is. So we are inundated with cardio and endurance events touting everything from stellar fitness to weight loss miracles. And the extremes are in there also. Walks in the park with your baby to marathon and triathlon training will all get you in the best shape of your life. Well I'm here to tell you - No it won't.

Does cardio have many benefits -of course. But what I'm talking about is using the wrong type of cardio for a certain goal. I train people in primarily two realms of fitness goals - body composition and performance enhancement. The cardio portion of the training has overlaps but by in large- they are very different.

A soldier who has to pass the ranger 5 mile run and improve his 2 mile run time will train differently than the girl who wants to get lean and toned for her beach body. But many will tell you that you can do both at the same time. There is a limited overlap here, where that is a tiny percent true but not so much.

So the bottom line is that if you have a specific fitness goal, then the cardio portion of your training program has to be tailored to meet your needs.

I see people everyday doing the old classics - wearing the vinyl / plastic sweat tops, reading a book while going slow for hours, watching their heart rate monitor for their heart rate and calorie count, using different time splits and paces, and now of course you have to have 5 finger shoes, barefoot or one of the new barefoot style shoes. And you have to use the ninja Mayan Indian running method or the pose method -barefoot over hot coals with the new hybrid sweat recycling cooling system clothing -cause that's all that works and it's what the kool kids do.

I remember when I used to do my weekly 10 mile run, wearing an old school flak vest. I didn't run barefoot and I didn't have a new hybrid alien shirt or shoe. I didn't train for the half marathon that I ran in Hawaii, we just did it for PT one day. Mentality is a big part of the training. Easy doesn't work regardless of your goal.

Remember to work on your stride and rotate your shoes every 3-6 months. Train for your goal using the correct training method. The couch to 5k program is not a fat loss program, it's designed to help you run a 5k. It has limited value for anything else. Targeted fat loss cardio and metabolic conditioning training on the other hand, will work on your body composition, improve your cardio health and increase your run times and endurance. So choose your cardio program wisely.

And cross training is important regardless of your cardio goal or method. Mobility, flexibility, balance, stride, strength and conditioning combined with nutrition must be addressed with any program.

Run hard and smart and be safe on the road!

Dempsey's Resolution Fitness
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