F.I.T. Blog

Cardio for those that don’t like to do cardio!

“I don’t like to do cardio, period”

That is a phrase I have heard uttered over and over by athletes upon stepping into our gym.

And to be honest, after a stint of distance running in my 20’s, I tend to agree. I never really enjoyed the aspect of going out for a run and my body felt frail and weak comparatively. It was a means to an end; competition on race day was the biggest fuel I had to stoke the fire, and eventually that wasn’t enough.

That being said, I DO like cardio, but the kind that comes by doing explosive athletic movements or heavy strength/power movements. Sprinting, agility drills, plyometrics, squatting, bench pressing etc. all are thoroughly enjoyable to me.

So, if we look at the activities above, where your heart rate is elevated for an extended period of time above normal resting metabolic rate, cardiovascular fitness is being challenged.

Furthermore, here is the definition of cardiovascular exercise from an online medical dictionary:

“…exercises to promote improved capacity of the cardiovascular system…The contraction of major muscle groups must be repeated often enough to elevate the heart rate to a target level determined during testing.” Medical Dictionary

So basically, consistently contracting and relaxing a wide range of muscle groups in a way that elevates the heart rate functions as cardiovascular exercise.

Most training gyms like ours run sessions that fall into this category. If not for the entire duration of the session, certainly during various aspects of it.

Of course, there are exceptions. Take the guy in the gym wrapping his knees, tightening his belt with help from a rack, and a friend, chalking up his back and re-tightening already tightened wrist wraps to do one heavy back squat, where it’s possible he may explode a blood vessel in his forehead, followed by 10 minutes of rest sitting on a bench. While his blood pressure may be incredibly high, I don’t think that’s the cardiovascular effect doctors are prescribing for a long, active life.

So, we understand cardiovascular exercise is key for longevity. And, if you are training 3x/week at a facility like FIT, you are getting a cardiovascular effect. Great!

But, it’s also been stated how important daily activity, specifically when it comes to aging well and improving your mortality, so dedicated steady state cardio sessions are still crucial.

However, your opinion on cardio hasn’t changed, it still sucks!

Concept of Q-1 Cardio

That’s where the idea of Quit-1 (Q-1) cardiovascular training comes in.

This approach to steady state cardio is by no means innovative. I started using it as a means to understand where I am physically and mentally each day but also develop a better engine.

The idea of Q-1 training is a brain child of Julien Pineau’s at Strongfit. And admittedly, he too is not a cardio fan.

So, it’s built for the person who is not sold on the idea of long bouts (30 min+ of cardio) while understanding the importance cardiovascular fitness plays not only in longevity but performance in the gym.

Key Features:

  1. It’s short, 10 minutes 3-5 times a week
  2. You can do it on any type of cardio machine
  3. If you don’t have a machine, you can just run/jog or bike
  4. It’s not mindless, instead the focus is on staying present

Here is the concept:

You establish a difficulty that challenges you to a point where you wouldn’t be able to sustain the effort for more than a minute or two. That is your Quit.

Once there, drop back the intensity one notch (everyone is individual so you will figure out what that means for you). The feeling you are seeking is one where if you aren’t present and focused, you will fall below that level OR you will push too hard back up to the previous “Quit” level.

That level you are now experiencing is Quit – 1 (Q-1). It’s sustainable for a period of time but not something you are comfortable cruising at for hours on end. If you are using a RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) where 1 is not moving and 10 is the hardest thing you ever did, this is about a 6.

After that, it’s simple. You continue for 10 minutes, then you are done. Seriously, that’s it.

No watching a show to pass the time or mindlessly spinning on your bike. 10 minutes 3-5 times per week.

And if you are outside running or biking, go one direction for 5 minutes and then turn for home the second 5 minutes. You might surprise yourself how far you get!

Structure and Motivation

This is how I structure it for myself. I modified the Good, Better, Best scale to something more in-line with the grading systems used in the US:

A Grade (Best): 5x/week of 10 minutes Quit -1 Cardio training
B Grade (Better): 4x/week of 10 minutes Quit -1 Cardio training
C Grade (Good): 3x/week of 10 minutes Quit -1 Cardio training
D Grade (Not Good): 0-2x/week of 10 minutes Quit -1 Cardio training

Perfection is not attainable, but sustained greatness is. The visual for that is a line with ebbs and flows wavering between an “A” grade and a “C” grade that consistently trends upward.

My goal for myself, or any client of ours who doesn’t like cardio, is achieving at least a”C” grade but also not needing any more than an “A” grade.

And, when the unforeseen occurs and a “D” grade happens, to learn from it so the same mistake doesn’t occur again.

Wrapping it up

Q-1 Cardio is one of the most doable approaches I have found for me and others who choose to avoid plodding outside jogging or spending hours spinning on a bike watching Friends reruns.

By using this approach consistently, you can own your steady state cardio, make your cardiologist happy and live a long, active life performing at a high level inside and outside the gym. 🙂

Coach Jared

 

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