Cardio - most people hate it, everyone needs it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a track athlete (kind of obvious), strength athlete, field athlete, a senior citizen, or some everyday Joe Schmo. You need to participate in some type of cardio training.
First to understand why you need it you need to understand the definition of cardio. Cardio, also known as, cardiovascular training is the training of the heart’s muscle - more importantly the left ventricle. The left ventricle of the heart is the chamber that pumps blood to the rest of the body, and the more you work it, the more it undergoes hypertrophy (muscle size growth) and the more blood it pumps. Plain and simple.
Now in my opinion blood is the greatest thing that the human body has ever produced. A simple analogy is the economy of the USA. America’s economy could not grow if it wasn’t for the ships, railroads, trucks, and planes that transports goods from point A to point B. Now think of your body as the economy of America. Your left ventricle uses blood vessels as the means of transportation that are going to allow your country to thrive. Your training, nutrition, and waste products are the goods that need to shipped in and out of your economy.
Then think, the only way to get your economy running smoothly is to build upon those means of transportation so that goods can be transported even faster and at a more efficient rate. And if your body is this economy then the answer is cardiovascular training. As aforementioned the more the left ventricle grows the more blood it can pump which in turn means the more oxygen and vital nutrients that can get delivered to your cells.
As an Olympic weightlifter I am a strength athlete. I need to lift the heaviest weights I can over my head - that’s it. I don’t need to run a mile in order to be strong, but if I want to lift weights more efficiently and for a longer time I am going to need an aerobic base. This concept applies to every athlete or anybody in general- blood flow increase, and sleep (another article), are the keys to cellular growth and repair. The faster waste can get removed from your cells and vital nutrients can enter, the faster you will recover, the stronger you will become, and the more resilient and durable you will be as an athlete or a person.
So don’t shy away from cardiovascular training no matter who you are, especially if you don’t like running. You can also drag a prowler, push a sled, or do a high intensity interval body weight workout. The options for cardiovascular training truly are endless. I personally train about 7-10 times a week depending on how far away from a competition I am and I’ll make 3-4 of those workouts a body weight interval day, or a heavy sled or light prowler in order to get cardio because of the simple fact I hate running. I began doing this about a year ago and since starting I recover faster between sets and workouts, I can add more volume of my lifts as the months go by and it creates a new mental barrier to overcome because I sincerely hate being out of breath.
So please as an advocate for health and strength, incorporate some type of cardiovascular training into your life. It’s a training stimulus your body can adapt to relatively easily that doesn’t put too much stress on the joints and if anything gives them time to actively recover after heavy days
-Coach Khalil Harrison