You guys don’t do a lot of cardio!

You guys don’t do a lot of cardio!

What?

Caution! Patience required. Rambling extensive.

What is “Cardio?” The slang word for cardiovascular or in our case cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, refers to the heart.  Cardio comes from the Greek word Kardia, meaning heart.  Perform an internet search on cardio and you may find a similar trend.  Most sites or articles refer to cardio as moderate exercise, performed for a long duration of at least 20 minutes, and typically involves running, jump rope, swimming, or rowing.  However, I have only found one site http://www.livestrong.com that even mentioned strength training.  This was mentioned as an after thought.

“Cardio” is all about the beating of the heart.  How fast do we want it to beat?  How long do we want this thing to pump?  We can answer those later.  How about we ask a few more questions?  What are your goals?  Most people want to lose bodyfat and increase muscle mass.  This may come in the form of different questions or statements.  “I need to tone up.” “I need to lose weight.”  The bottom line is, as co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight stated, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”  Think about that.  If you want to lose weight or tone up, then you are saying that you wish to become more fit.  Athletes are fit.  Fit people are athletic.  YOU ARE AN ATHLETE.

God knew this fact when he designed your body from the dust of the earth.  So if you have your sights set on performing cardio, do it the right way.  Don’t limit yourself to the Doldrums of the treadmill or the low impact cardio killer of the elliptical machine.  What do you mean?  Did you know that the stagnation of the feet on the elliptical decreases the pumping of the blood through the body?  The impact of the feet while running improves circulation.  WOW!  Did you know that impact also increases bone density?  Strength training, running, box jumping, and other impact related exercises make for stronger bones.  Again, God might have known something that we didn’t.  So, enjoy your two inches of padding that not only takes away that bone strengthening impact but also places you on your toes more destroying arches, decreasing ankle flexibility, and making your knees sore.  I digress.  Let’s get back to the heart.  The engine that makes the machine go faster.

So, if we are all athletes and as athletes our bodies are machines, how do we increase performance?  How do you increase a machine’s performance?  You would decrease the weight, make a stronger frame, and place power to the engine.  Amazing how art imitates life.  I would love to get into the different metabolic pathways as this is really the key to how the heart affects performance but there is no telling how long it would take me to get there.  Focus! So come on, what is cardio?  The heart needs to pump hard and fast to be considered “cardio.”  Low to Moderate intensity only scratches the surface of increasing performance.  Most people need to have their heart rate stay at or above 150 beats a minute or 65% of their VO2 max.  This will put you in a zone that primarily uses fat (40 to 60%) as its energy resource.  Low fat equals low drag.  However, the body can be pushed much harder as most of you know.  Studies show that when the body goes beyond this (75% VO2 max) it uses glycogen for fuel.  But the body has over 2 hours of energy to pull from.  So what it really boils down to in, my humble opinion, is calories in and calories out.  How do we burn more calories?  First the heart must be pumped and pushed ferociously.  Then the body must be broken down so it spends its’ down time rebuilding.  Finally or more importantly, initially it must be given the proper fuel.  High octane jet fuel.

This is the land of CrossFit.  A part of CrossFit is what I like to call, “cardio weightlifting.”  We lift weights hard and fast.  We push our bodies through space with an intensity not found on an elliptical or recumbent bike.  We run, row, and jump in such a way that impact develops our bodies and makes us stronger.  We are red hot monster trucks screaming past and over top of drag racers.  Do we do cardio?  Yeah we are cardio!  Heart pounding and lung pumping weightlifters that can carry marathon runners across the finish line (Except Lauren who is our marathon running crossfitter).