Strength Aerobics: Gain The Benefits of Running Without Spending Time on a Treadmill

Yes, it would be ideal if it were that easy to get your clients to do their cardiovascular conditioning. But for many, the idea of running or getting on a bike or taking some aerobics class is the equivalent of watching paint dry. My first coach once told me:

In the real world of fitness, there is no such thing as perfect fitness workouts. There are the ones that they will actually do and the ones they won't."

This was experience speaking. The experience of a lifetime of trying to motivate athletes and clients. The fact is that the majority of people that enjoy lifting weights simply do not like cardio. This is part of the reason they are there. They want an alternative option than just putting on their shoes and running. But just because they don't like cardio doesn't mean they shouldn't do it.

This concept isn't new. In fact many strength coaches have been using "strength aerobics" for their tough macho football players or weight-lifters for years as a creative way to disguise what it basically is: Aerobics. So without further ado, here are some cool fitness ideas for those who cry when they see a treadmill.

Heart Rate strength circuit

Pick two different leg exercises, one pressing movement and one pulling movement. Pick a weight you could lift 12 times and just do sets of 8, not going anywhere near failure.

Back squats x 8 Lunges x 8 (each leg) Bench press x 8 Latt pull-down x 8

Have your heart rate monitor on and move from one exercise to the next while monitoring your heart rate and trying to keep it between 130-150 bpm. Due to the anaerobic nature of weight training don't be surprised how quickly your heart gets up but remedy this just by walking around, keep moving but don't let your heart rate go any higher. How many complete circuit rounds and how often you rest between exercises will be completely up to your own cardiac output.

Weight lifters cardio

Do you love CrossFit and Olympic lifting but hate running? Try this technique used buy Olympic lifters to improve recovery and aerobic conditioning. Use a heart rate monitor and do one quick set of 1-3 reps of the Snatch or Clean and press and then rest for a moment and then do another, continuing for twenty, even thirty minutes. Try to keep your heart rate between 130-150 bpm. Add weight when or if needed, or decrease weight if needed. As far as your rest, use as much rest as needed to keep within your heart rate range. But don't totally stop between sets. Remember moving around lightly, just simple walking and breathing.

Old school Road work

A great way to introduce the benefits of running without running. As a strength coach who trains fighters, nothing will make you feel more macho than old school roadwork. And no, it's not just running. Roadwork simulates a ring fight so moving laterally to the side, running backwards, throwing your hands will work more muscles. Maintain your heart rate at the 130-150 bpm range but stop every so often and do some low rep calisthenics. This will promote blood flow and help heal from other hard sessions.

Don't go too hard

Remember this is light aerobic training, not high intensity interval training. And if you’re thinking that this kind of weight won't build strength or hypertrophy then you are correct. This is a low intensity aerobic prescription utilizing calisthenics or weights in a high volume, extremely light external resistance. This is important because using weights when under a cardiovascular fatigued state could lead to poor form and injury. Furthermore low intensity aerobics allows for adaptations that high intensity weight training and interval training does do, like increase left ventricle hypertrophy, improve recovery, and encourage mitochondrial increases in muscles. Even the toughest exercise nuts deserve, and NEED a light day.

References: Essential of strength and Conditioning, 3rd edition.

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