Resistance in Cardio

How does someone train to be ready for anything? Is it by trying to have as diverse a training schedule as possible and essentially trying to do a bit of everything? This is something I had to ask myself when I got selected for the TV series Last Man Standing – not knowing what on earth I was going to be challenged to do over the subsequent 12 months of extreme adventures.

The answer is predictably and probably ‘yes’. To be ready for anything, you probably have to do a bit of everything. But… in the reality of normal life, where we don’t have all-day and every-day to do a ‘little bit of everything’, is there another way? Is there a way to be ready for anything … by just doing one or two things?

I’m not about to tell you that there is one miracle exercise that will unbelievably give you
everything you need. That has been done a thousand times before and will be done thousands more, as people try to sell whatever it is they are promoting. Whether it’s a vibrating machine or an elliptical cross trainer…there will always be someone and some fitness thing claiming to be the answer to all your needs. It’s not that each of these new approaches, kit or person is right or wrong – it’s that I believe their assessment criteria is wrong. Usually they are looking at what array of muscles are ‘targeted’ or indeed what percentage of muscle fibres are ‘recruited’ and on this basis they claim to be ‘total body’ effective. However, I believe that the array of muscles that are used is not the most important question.

Rather the most important criteria is how much energy does that exercise truly demand of your body – upper or lower? Here’s what I mean. If you take a fell runner, who has the fitness and strength not just to run for a long distance, but to do so up steep hills and mountain sides, I would argue that there would be very few physical fitness challenges of the lower body that this athlete could not get to grips with. Not because he or she is perfectly targeting every muscle when fell
running, but because it takes a massive amount of energy to transport the body uphill… against gravity (a greater resistance per running step). And so it’s the energy capacity of the fell runner that makes him or her ready for anything… not the exact movement they are performing.

A crucial piece in the ready for anything jig-saw – is what I see as the resistance in cardio.
Endurance and cardio fitness is all well and good (and often not too difficult) when the
resistance involved is low (i.e. when running on a flat or cycling in the lowest gears) but when
your cardio involves higher resistances to work against, that’s when your training starts taking
on the dimension of making you truly ready for anything. So instead of a 4 mile steady jog, try
pushing your car around the block for a mile? And instead of swimming steadily for an hour,
try doing 400 push ups and 200 pull ups. Even if the cardio effect and duration were the same,
I can promise you that the muscular and energy demands would be a world apart. And I know
who I’d put my money on to be ready for anything out of the person jogging steadily or
the person shifting a 2 tonne car for a mile (or performing any of my other examples and
numerous similar other ones).

Bear in mind that a new fitness skill can usually be learned in a matter of weeks – on Last Man Standing we usually had less than 10 days. But energy capacity will take months and years to develop and that’s why energy is the real money when it comes to choosing your exercise criteria.

If you want to be ready for anything, you’d better start increasing the resistance provided by your cardio and not just the speed. Doing this will not only just work your muscles harder, it will work your whole system in a more meaningful and transferable way, placing you – in this instance – in a much better position to be ready for anything.

Published in ultra-FITMagazine

Posted in Rajko's Blog | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Resistance in Cardio

  1. stoubora says:

    This is exactly what I believe and how I like to train, resistance with cardio! In addition, one thing I would like to add is that adding resistance to a cardio workout can often make the workout more interesting and challenging instead of just doing the same boring routine of just distance you have an extra element involved the weight and resistance! Awesome post! 🙂

    • sloany says:

      I like this idea too, which has been around for a long time, dragan is proof of it’s benefits with the vertical lift being about as close of a miracle lift as you can get haha. It’s having that all round ability, the marathoner without the strength or the powerlifter without the endurance, they are exceptional in there choosen field but it’s being a well rounded fitness enthusiast that impresses and inspires the most. Of course these are generalisations but you get my point.
      Great article

Leave a Reply