These days it is hard to separate the two. We’ve been (incorrectly) told for years that to train the heart and lungs, we MUST do steady state aerobic training. Gyms are filled with expensive ‘cardio’ equipment because of it . It couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are actually much more effective ways to train the CV system than to waste time with boring aerobic exercises (excuse my obvious biases here).

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Strongman Training

Strongman training is a favourite of mine and can include anything from sled drags and prowler sled pushing to tyre flips and farmers walks. It dramatically increases your heart rate whilst also improving strength, literally killing two birds with one stone. The funny thing is that our clients who enjoy this the most are definitely our female clients. Although it is incredibly tough work, it is also empowering. And it improves strength in traditional gym exercises such as the squat, and improves flexibility. Sled training can also be used for clients very soon after knee surgery, and for clients with general joint issues, because it works the leg muscles very well without heavily loading the joints.

Sprint Training

There is nothing quite like setting yourself a target in the distance and running AS FAST as you can to reach that target. The mental energy requirement alone easily outdoes anything that a treadmill can throw at you, simply because you have to dictate the speed rather than a machine dictating the speed for you. So although you can concentrate on reading a magazine ot watching a TV when on the treadmill, the gym is one area I definitely don’t like to multi-task. Repeat the sprints 10-15 times in a 20-25 minute period and you’ll be done and dusted!

Circuit Training

Simple. Choose 6-8 challenging resistance/strength exercises (I’m thinking squats, step ups, pull ups, bench press, overhead press, incline curls) do 10 reps of each, take 45 seconds rest between each exercise, and repeat the circuit 3-4 times. Do that and then tell me that strength training doesn’t train your cardiovascular system! If that type of training is new to you it is likely that you may find yourself throwing up it is that hard. You’ll be sweating and panting like crazy.

All of the above approaches are great ways to train your cardiovascular system without relying on a boring electric exercise machine. And they all have the added benefit of improving strength, reducing risk of injury, increasing growth hormone production (responsible for burning fat) increasing your resting metabolic rate (the amount of energy burnt when doing nothing!) and reducing your overall exercise time commitment.

And let’s not forget my point in previous posts, the fact that exercise physiologists have proven that doing anaerobic training improves aerobic conditioning MORE than traditional aerobic training.

Is there any debate as to which approach is more beneficial?