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The Case Against Chronic Cardio

Written by Coach Rob

Unfortunately, the popular wisdom of the past 40 years – that we would all be better off doing 45 minutes to an hour a day of intense aerobic activity – has created a generation of overtrained, underfit, immune-compromised exerholics. - Mark Sisson

Before I found functional fitness, I was a chronic LSD user (the Long Slow Distance cardio kind, not the drug). I used to do triathlon training exclusively as a means of exercise. I could run, bike, and swim for long periods of time but I wasn’t seeing the body composition results I wanted.

When I put aside triathlon training (after low back and knee pain) and began strength training, I saw fast and dramatic body composition changes. The resistance training took far less time than my previous cardio sessions used to (30 min in the gym with a lot of rest between sets as opposed to 60+ min of constant running/biking). And the resistance training was easier mentally. If you’ve ever gone out on a long run/bike/swim you know the mental toughness that comes from it.

6 months into strength training and resistance workouts with higher intensity, I was injury free and continued to see the body composition results I wanted.

Greg Glassman (the founder of CrossFit) sums up why this happened for me and so many others when we added a little intensity and strength training to our workouts:

“For every long distance effort our [CrossFit] athletes will do five or six at short distance. Why? Because compound or functional movements and high intensity or anaerobic cardio is radically more effective at eliciting nearly any desired fitness result. Startlingly, this is not a matter of opinion but solid irrefutable scientific fact and yet the marginally effective old ways persist and are nearly universal. Our approach is consistent with what is practiced in elite training programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports. CrossFit endeavors to bring state-of-the-art coaching techniques to the general public and athlete who haven’t access to current technologies, research, and coaching methods.”

It can be frustrating to put forth constant effort on the treadmill to no avail. Mark Sisson agrees:

“Hate to say it, but we weren’t meant to aerobicize at the chronic and sustained high intensities that so many people choose to do these days. The results are almost always unimpressive. Ever wonder why years of “Spin” classes, endless treadmill sessions and interminable hours on the “elliptical” have done nothing much to shed those extra pounds and really tone the butt?”

Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with endurance training. I think it can be very valuable and fun. For those that compete (in 5ks, triatlons, cycling, etc.) and love it, I fully support it (although I hope you supplement your training with a bit of functional movement to keep those joints healthy).

But I do think that the vast majority of people are confused and frustrated by the fact that their effort on the treadmill is not bringing them the results they want. For those people, I want to say there is a much better option out there. Reach out to us to learn more.

Group Class Programming for Monday, July 10, 2017:

1. Overhead Squat 5-5-5 @ 33X1 tempo

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 20 minutes of:
12 Hang Dumbbell Muscle Snatches (15/10#)
10 elevated Push-ups

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 20 minutes of:
12 Power Snatches (45/35#)
10 Push-ups 

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 20 minutes of:
12 Power Snatches (65/45#)
10 Hand Release Push-ups

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