Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cardio without Running by Paul Lyngso RKC II

We are now officially in September! I always enjoy
the cooler weather that the fall brings, it’s a much
needed change of pace after the muggy Chicago Summers.

Fall also brings the one race per year that I actually run,
The Morton Arboretum 5K.

I often then, get the question:

“How do you get your “cardio” if you don’t run?”

The short answer is that my “cardio” is a by product of the way I train. If I had aspirations of being a runner, I would certainly need to work some running practice in so that my body could adapt to that specific stimulus. However, since I’m just a regular guy who wants to be able to run a 5K whenever the mood strikes, my current training will do just fine. Here’s why(the long answer):

I always Focus on Developing Strength and Explosive Power. Simply put, the stronger you are, the less effort each stride takes. Less effort per stride means that you can sustain running longer without fatiguing.

I always Train Total Body Movements. Running requires the use of both upper and lower extremities, with the each leg transferring power to the opposite arm, and vice versa. If you are not coordinated, your running will be very inefficient and much more taxing than it should be. If you train your body as one coordinated unit, each stride will be way more efficient than if you run like Frankenstein.

Finally, my Focus on Joint Mobility, Flexibility, and Quality of Movementallow me to show up for the race, uninjured. Simply put, running is dangerous. In fact, each year about 1000 qualifiers of the Boston Marathon take a medical deferrment, meaning they qualify, but will take a full year off due to injury. And these are folks who know a thing or two about running! If you want to reduce injuries, in ANY atheltic endeavor, you need to focus on the QUALITY of movement (proper exercise form) rather than quantity (45 minutes on a treadmill with horrible posture and your body completely out of alignment). Quality movement starts with healthy joints that can operate pain free through their entire range of motion.

Being constantly injured or in nagging pain is a sure fire way to dampen not only your fitness goals, but your overall quality of life.

I know I haven’t even mentioned heart rate yet. Well here is the deal, when you train strength, such as, say by doing kettlebell swings, Turkish Get Ups, and squats, your heart rate goes up. A lot. Then we rest and let it come back down a hair. And then we do another set, and the heart rate goes up again. This constant up/down makes your heart stronger i.e. more efficient at pumping blood. The more blood your heart can move with each heart beat, the longer you can sustain an activity, such as jogging, with a lower heart rate. Lower heart rate=Less Energy Used=Less Fatigue.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Lance Armstrong here when it comes to endurance sports. However, I would venture to say that any of my clients would put a treadmill junkie to shame any day when it comes to a 5K (or most any athletic feat). Just sayin…

Paul Lyngso, RKC II and Owner of Burr Ridge Kettlebells