I'm stating the obvious when I say the vast majority of athletes don't pay close enough attention to their cardiovascular health. It's importance gets lost in the pursuit of becoming bigger, leaner and stronger.
There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but we need to appreciate that possessing a sufficient level of physical preparedness can yield a lot of benefits. Simply put, don't neglect cardio.
Being strong is one thing, but if walking up a flight of stairs leaves you panting, you have some work to do. You don't want your conditioning to be the limiting factor.
1. Assault AirBike or AirDyne
What's awesome about the Assault AirBike or AirDyne is that the harder you pedal, the more resistance you have. Sort of like a Catch-22. If you don't push yourself, you're not going to get the results you're looking for. The faster you pedal, you'll be in the corner wondering what did you get yourself into.
This piece of equipment is also low impact. If you're looking for a way to improve your conditioning without beating up your low back or knees, it's virtually impossible to get injured doing a max-effort sprint on this.
Reverse Tabata Assault AirBike
- 4-minute warm-up at moderate pace
- 4-minute work (10sec max-effort sprint, 20sec active recovery)
- 4-minute cool-down
If you're a masochist, I challenge you to switch up the work-to-rest ratio.
The VersaClimber has quickly become my worst enemy. I still get nightmares after my first encounter with them.
Much like the Assault AirBike, it involves the whole body and is low impact. Although, it is a bit more demanding (in my opinion) due to the larger amplitude of movement that is required. Trust me, it won't take long before you start to question your sanity once you start climbing.
Simply set up by placing your hands on the handle bar and feet on the pedals. Start at a moderate pace. From there, drive your feet and arms as hard and as fast as you can. Shoot for 6-10 rounds of 30-40 seconds. Rest as needed.
Collapse at the end.
3. Sled Work
If I was given only a handful of equipment, no question the sled would be on that list. Despite the fact that I envision near death every time I come close to one, I'd be remiss not to praise it.
I'm a firm believer that every gym should be equipped with a sled or prowler. It's extremely versatile in terms of training variability. In addition to the training effect you can induce for conditioning purposes, it's also a viable tool to increase your strength. More pressingly, it doesn't have a steep learning curve — it doesn't require a ton of coordination and is relatively easy to learn.
Just load it up and get after it.
Push it, pull it, press it, or drag it. You can't go wrong.
Obviously, walking doesn't carry the badge of a hardcore workout, and it won't prepare you for any marathons or sprint triathlons. Unlike the rest of the bunch, though, it doesn't add a ton of training stress.
In this day and age, seemingly, everyone is under the impression that training has to be gritty. Make no mistake, walking does wonders for the body. Not only does it help with recovery, but it also helps in establishing a base level of aerobic capacity. It's also underrated for improvements in body composition.
Reap the benefits by walking 30-40 minutes 3-5 times a week.
- 3 Reasons Why Athletes Should Limit Cardio Workouts
- How You Can Build Muscle With Cardio Workouts
- 4 Cardio Workouts That Don't Suck