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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

What is cardio programming missing?

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Panel Discussion: What is cardio programming missing?

Cardio programs often lack the detail, rationale, progression, specificity, and creativity that are now common in resistance training programs. We need suggestions, info, books, and resources to fill this gap. What do you suggest?

Moderated by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

This Panel Discussion was originally posted on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/brent.brookbush - on June 8th, 2010.

Derrick Price, June 8, 2010 at 2:22pm: All movement is Cardio so how about we start focusing on Energy System Development. Here are a few questions I ask myself when designing an ESD program.

What ES do you want to improve? What movements do you want to use to challenge a particular ES? What is the work:rest ratio? How does the ESD training affect the hormonal system? What type of movement does the client enjoy? What are they capable of? Does the ESD training mimic what they need for their sport/everyday life? Does the ESD training enhance their resistance training? With the Resistance Training, which ES are we also enhancing?

Hayley Hollander, June 8, 2010 at 2:29pm: Some great things that I like to add to my cardio programming are 3 dimensional drills, with all different types of drivers. So, for example if I'm doing a run around the track, instead of just letting my feet move in a sagittal plane, I'll do a lap forward, Then I’ll do a lap with a lateral shuffle, then to add transverse I'll do karaoke, etc. Then I'll tweak the foot positions, and run with feet narrow, then wide, then everted, inverted, adding high knees, high heels. Then you can change the driver direction with your arms to get some more mobility in your thoracic, which also works on coordination when your legs are still moving. So, you can move the arms in circles, you could have them cross in front of the chest, or really just take them in all dimensions.

So, that's just changing up a run. You could then add in foundational movements and start to tweak those like a skip, gallop, hop, etc. Moving those in all different directions, heights, and speeds can give you a great cardio workout. Not to mention your mind comes into play on those as well as you're thinking about which direction you're going, then which direction your Arms are going.

Another way to change up the cardio, is to bring it to the floor. So many times we forget about the advantage of doing prone work on the hands and feet, or to regress on the hands and knees. You can do ladder drill on your hands, any type of crawling movements.thrn you could do supine hands and knees working the shoulder in a different plane. Have you ever tried to play soccer on your hands and feet- supine? Whew it is work!

Those are a few ideas… What does everyone else think?

Hayley Hollander, June 8, 2010 at 2:35pm: To add on to my ideas, and all the tweaks that can make the cardio programming fun and 3d. Before I have them do anything I ask myself-what is the clients goal? What energy system do I need to utilize to get them there? What hormones would be in play how would that affect their goal? And how much volume of each of those should I do as well.

Summarizing- what is the clients goal? What environment? What movement or action? Which energy system to use? Then… Have fun!

Brent Brookbush, June 8, 2010 at 3:09pm: Some great ideas DP and Hayley… Lets talk more about this hormone thing for a second. How can manipulating variables effect hormone production, and what effect does that have on the client?

Marty Miller, June 8, 2010 at 3:26pm: Great points so far everyone. I always look at the people who do "cardio" but never lose weight. They do their same 3 mile per hour walk and never change the intensity. I am not saying that this may not be appropriate for some people, but far to many people underestimate their true ability and never come near anaerobic threshold. I highly recommend using an i-mett system if you truly want to know what your client is capable of. It is also so much easier to recommend workouts for all 3 energy systems. Slow steady state training has its place, but the other energy systems need to be taxed if changes and or improvements are expected. I have seen a lot of research that shows that the higher you can get your heart rate, and the quicker it can recover is a huge indicator to overall cardio-respiratory health. Also, the caloric burn you get post exercise is huge (EPOC). When I trained my athletes they were shocked that we did not make them do 20 minute runs, but at the same time they loved how they felt during games as they had done primarily phase 2 and 3 cardio work. Also, the overall volume of time was cut down, and we had less injuries due to overuse.

Derrick Price, June 8, 2010 at 3:35pm: You can learn more at www.ptaglobal.com but to give you a lil taste, the intensity of exercise can up-regulate certain hormones. For example, a very high intensity bout (which is correlated with training the ATP-PC energy system) stimulates production of certain anabolic hormones such as Testosterone. Low intensity training with little variance for bouts longer than 30 minutes will stimulate more catabolic hormones such as cortisol. Now relating this info to the client: Most clients already have high levels of cortisol production due to their stressful lives and moderate to high consumption of energy drinks and poor food (imagine what happens to the poor adrenal glands over time - adrenal fatigue and failure). Then this stressful client comes to the gym and gets on a cardio piece of equipment, maintains the same stead state low intensity movement for over half an hour which only stimulates more cortisol production. Talk about a hormonal imbalance!

Brent Brookbush, June 8, 2010 at 3:47pm: Hey DP,

I had a feeling our poorly abused friend cortisol was going to be mentioned. Cortisol is not just a stress hormone, in fact its primary role is in metabolism, specifically increasing blood born glucose via the liver (this why it is produced during long duration cardiovascular activity - a drop in blood sugar results in cortisol production)…. Just a small definition pulled from wikipedia -

"Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar and stores of sugar in the liver as glycogen, aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and to suppress the immune system (and regulate lymphocytes). Various synthetic forms of cortisol are used to treat a variety of different illnesses."

Not to mention that higher intensity activity also creates increases in markers associated with tissue damage that may also be taxing on the system.

Although I agree stress is an important consideration during exercise and recreation, I think the hormone argument is tough. It's just ridiculously complex.

Derrick Price, June 8, 2010 at 4:11pm: No doubt, very complex and there is not enough room here to discuss it's complexity. I was not trying to paint cortisol as a "bad" hormone because no doubt it has many important roles in the body such accelerating lipolysis and glucose metabolism. All I was pointing out was hormonal imbalances can be created when you piece together a person's lifestyle and their style of training at the gym. Over production of any hormone can have drastic negative effects on the body. Optimum Cortisol levels is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle but when you over produce it and cause the adrenal glands to fatigue, you're in for a world of misery.

Here's a simple little read I came across that discusses adrenal fatigue and cortisol.


Derrick Price, June 8, 2010 at 4:21pm: BB, I know you like references so here's a study that has a little more "meat and potatoes" than the previous link


Matthew Bleistein, June 8, 2010 at 7:16pm: nobody should be doing cardio, even just standing near a recumbent bike will make your body burn all of its muscle and leave you flabby and weak.

Rolando Garcia, June 8, 2010 at 10:52pm: What is cardio training for? What is ES training for? Have we taken sport-specific training into consideration? Also, I think we have to consider the other variables that contribute to aerobic/anaerobic heart rates, such as breathing, posture, state of mind, and noci-receptor activation, to name a few. Sometimes, elevated heart rates that are associated with endurance training…may be caused by variables not at all associated with athletic activity.

Elizabeth Hawk www.vo2medical.com , June 8, 2010 at 10:59pm: Open for discussion …

© 2014 Brent Brookbush

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