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Beyond the Weights: The Vital Role of Cardiovascular Development in Productivity

The fitness landscape is often captivated by the "next big thing" – the latest high-intensity exercise routines or trendy weightlifting techniques promoted by NYTimes, WSJ as the NEW "secret to weight loss". While these methods can have their place, there's a crucial element that sometimes gets overshadowed: comprehensive cardiovascular training. This tried-and-true approach, utilized for centuries, deserves a closer look due to its significant impact on overall health, longevity, and even professional productivity. There's a tendency to overemphasize weightlifting or transform every workout into a high-intensity "bootcamp" style sessions. While these approaches can be exciting initially, they may lack the necessary intensity, volume, specificity, and emphasis on technical execution for long-term progress beyond the beginner or intermediate stages. Conversely, powerlifting coaches may downplay the importance of cardio altogether, suggesting explosive weightlifting or short bursts of metabolic training are sufficient. Both camps miss the mark by failing to acknowledge the limitations of their preferred methods. In the early years of my own fitness career, I fell prey to this overemphasis on specific training styles. I had all the muscles for the show but walking up 2 floors of stairs got the best of me every time. However, I later discovered that even muscle growth can be limited by aerobic capacity and I just wasted my youth ignoring basic physiology. There is a world outside of the gym that can be explored and it requires significant aerobic capacity which these bodybuilding or powerlifting programs simply don't address. The key to unlocking sustained energy, powering through your workday, and still having the capacity to crush weekend workouts, hikes, or recreational sports, lies in a strong foundation of aerobic fitness. It helps your nervous system and muscles help you do what they do best without quitting early due to fatigue! This blog post will explore the practical benefits of cardio training in clear terms, showing how it can positively impact your daily life and productivity without the dread factor.


The aerobic system, also known as the cardiovascular system, plays a vital role in our ability to perform physical activities and maintain overall health. There are generally 3 types of cardiovascular sessions used in training:


  • Intervals (short duration, high intensity @ 9/10 effort, usually called HIIT)

    • Improved anaerobic threshold – go longer at high speed/intensity without fatigue. It pushes the power of your heart to pump more blood and oxygen when you really need it.

    • Triggering the body to store and utilize carbohydrate properly that is essential for fueling high intensity activities and situations that require lot of focus, energy and brain power.

    • Requires certain intensity, duration and total workout volume to be effective. Very hard to recover from without sufficient aerobic capacity and overdoing them may lead to injury.

  • Tempo (medium hard intensity, moderate duration, generally 7/10 effort)

    • Improved blood lactate clearance (recover faster from high intensity sets and workouts).

    • Improve lactate tolerance; ability to push through heavy legs

    • Improve running/swimming/cycling economy. Improved VO2 max, improved delivery and utilization of oxygen

  • Easy aerobic session (low intensity, long duration sessions)

    • Ability to use fat for energy for low intensity activities, saving carbohydrates for high intensity activities and events.

    • Improve ability to recover from sets with high and medium-high intensity and training sessions.

    • Accelerate recovery through better circulation of blood and nutrients.


These training methods work synergistically. Overemphasizing one at the expense of the other hinders overall progress. Moreover, you still need to plan your strength training to support your cardiovascular development as lower body injuries in the knees and ankles are very common among runners.


Here's a quick breakdown of the importance of cardiovascular training from a physiological standpoint, along with real-life benefits for the busy working professional for whom, sports performance is not the main objective:


1. More Energy, Less Fatigue

Physiology: Regular exercise stimulates the growth of capillaries, creating a denser network around muscle fibers, and strengthens the heart, increasing blood flow. This translates to more efficient oxygen delivery to your muscles.

Real-Life Benefit: Imagine tackling that afternoon slump in energy and productivity without reaching for another coffee. Improved oxygen delivery fuels your workday, allowing you to focus and maintain energy throughout the day. You'll feel less fatigued and experience a boost in mental clarity to power through tasks.


2. Sustained energy to help you power through your day

Physiology: Aerobic training enhances your body's ability to utilize oxygen for energy by increasing mitochondrial production and improving oxygen utilization efficiency.

Real-Life Benefit: More mitochondria and efficient oxygen use mean your body can burn fat as fuel effectively throughout the day and save energy for the highly stressful tasks that require more focus. It's almost like you lose fat while NOT working out! This translates to increased stamina for work activities, allowing you to maintain focus and energy during meetings, presentations, or even physically demanding tasks.


3. Helps you manage stress and maintain weight

Physiology: Regular aerobic activity improves insulin sensitivity, allowing your body to utilize glucose more effectively and burn fat for fuel.

Real-Life Benefit: Work stress can wreak havoc on your metabolism. Aerobic exercise helps regulate blood sugar and manage stress hormones, leading to improved mood and better concentration. Additionally, increased fat burning can help with weight management, a common concern for many working professionals. Hence, reduces risk of metabolic disorders like diabetes.


4. Reduces stress on your heart

Physiology: Cardiovascular training leads to a controlled enlargement of the heart muscle chambers, allowing them to hold and pump more blood with each beat. improves blood vessel elasticity, leading to lower resistance to blood flow throughout the body. This reduces the workload on the heart. A well-developed aerobic system promotes cardiovascular health by lowering resting heart rate and reducing blood pressure.

Real-Life Benefit: A stronger heart doesn't have to work as hard to function, reducing stress on your cardiovascular system. This translates to a lower risk of heart disease, a leading health concern for adults, and can improve your overall well-being. Additionally, lower blood pressure can lead to better sleep quality, essential for optimal work performance.


5. Improved cognitive function

Physiology: Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain, delivering vital oxygen and nutrients that support cognitive function.

Real-Life Benefit: Improved blood flow to the brain can lead to sharper thinking, better memory, and increased productivity. You'll find it easier to concentrate on work demands and retain information more effectively.


Feeling pumped to hit the road? That's great BUT before you commit to a five-day-a-week running plan or worse, sign up for a marathon, let's discuss creating a balanced routine for long-term success that includes resistance training. Muscle and bone mass naturally decline by about 1% per year after your late 20s. Incorporating resistance training 2-3 times per week helps maintain this crucial foundation for overall health and fitness.


You could actually get these benefits extends beyond running too. Cycling, rowing, swimming, and other activities are excellent options to consider, depending on your preferences and fitness level. The key lies in a personalized approach. We recommend a thorough assessment of your current capacity, followed by a training plan designed specifically for you. This ensures safety, progressive improvement, and maximizes the enjoyment of your workouts.


 

Unless you are a seasoned pro, figuring out the optimal volume, intensity and supplementary strength training is hard to figure out. Too much and you can develop overuse injuries or too little and you are wasting your time. Let us take care of the program design and modifications, freeing you to focus on what you do best; your job, hobby and family. Your time is valuable, so invest it in your areas of expertise and let us handle the fitness planning. Our training plans offered through Trainheroic is created for people with different levels of fitness, training experience and training time available.


New to Strength Training (Less than 6 Months Experience or Returning After a Break)?


Our Initiate Program is the ideal springboard! Designed specifically for beginners, it will build a solid foundation in strength training, progressively increasing your confidence and capabilities. Get ready to experience the transformative power of exercise in a safe and supportive environment.



Already Active and Looking for More?


Are you a seasoned gym-goer who's ready to push your boundaries? We offer two exciting programs to take your fitness to the next level:


  • Starting to Run - Mile to 5K: This 16-week program boasts expert coaching and a structured training plan to guide you towards a speedy 5K finish line.


  • Summer Prep (Year-Round Program): This dynamic online group program adapts with the seasons, offering fresh challenges and workouts. Develop well-rounded athleticism, pushing your fitness year-round, so you're always ready for your next adventure. Join the community and conquer any season, from summer hikes to winter sports!


Running isn't just about exercise – it's about unlocking new experiences.Whether you go solo, join a local run club, or train with us, the important thing is to get started. There's a whole world of adventure waiting beyond the gym walls, and we want to help you explore it with a body that's ready for anything.




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