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"How To Do More Work To Increase Your Cardio"

May 3, 2011

There are two quotes that I’d like to tell you about. The first is fairly popular in the martial arts world:

“Conditioning is the greatest hold.” – Karl Gotch

The other is also well-known, esp. if you’re an American football fan:

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” – Vince Lombardi

In many ways, they both drive home the same basic point – that to succeed, you have to be able to outwork your opponent. And many, if not most times, being able to outwork your opponent is dependent on what kind of shape (especially your cardio) you're in.

Gotch’s quote simply says that no matter what techniques you (or your opponent) know, if you have better cardio, and can push the fight/match longer and harder, then you’ll have the upper hand.

Lombardi’s quote is a little more telling, making reference to the human psyche, and how it breaks down under duress. Everybody stands tall at first – it’s who can stand tall at the end that marks a warrior.

Now, you might not be an athlete, a fighter, or even anybody who competes in anything right nwo But that doesn't mean you still can't apply this to your own life.

Having good cardio can allow you to do so many things in your life. At a most basic level, it gives you better health and vitality, allowing you to live a longer and fuller life. At a more 'primal' level, having good cardio can make life itself easier and more enjoyable. Whether it's because normal everyday tasks are easier to perform, because you're in shape to play that "pick-up" game of ball at the park, or because a good cardio workout can lead to lower bodyfat levels, it could simply mean you feel more comfortable picking out clothes or taking your shirt off in hot weather.

There are many elements to a good cardio workout (and in turn, having good cardio), but one of – if not THE – most important is Work Capacity.

Work Capacity is a pretty simple concept that many trainers try to give complex definitions or major pseudo-scientific discussions. Work Capacity is essentially how much work you can do, and how hard/fast you can do it. So, if a mundane task like say push-mowing the lawn normally takes you say 30 minutes, a high work capacity can allow you to get it done in 20 minutes.

So, that segues into the next question, which would be, “How do we increase Work Capacity?”

The main way would be to simply just do more work. Yeah, that’s right – condition yourself to doing more work, by…doing more work. You don’t have to do a whole lot at first – add small amounts to your overall workload.

There are a few ways to do this. You could add small amounts of “active-rest” to your workouts, so that you’re actually working while you’re resting between sets. (By the way, this is a tremendous way to increase your cardio with actually doing any traditional "cardio" work.)

For example, say you’re doing your weight training, and resting 60 secs. between sets. Spend 30 of those 60 secs simply doing jumping jacks. Or maybe do a couple burpees. Or a few jumps. Or 5 situps. Anything like that will work.

Another way to do this is to add in extra work throughout the day. During your everyday travels, figure out ways to increase your physical work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a few extra parking spaces away so you have to walk further. If you’re shopping, carry your items instead of using a cart. That sort of thing. Then you can add in small “mini-workouts” during the day, as well. 5 burpees, 10 push-ups, 10 situps, and 10 squats wouldn’t take over about 90 secs to complete. Do that 4-5 times during the day.

Doing any of these things will help you build your work capacity, and in turn, help you increase your cardio - even if you're not doing specific cardio workouts. And when you increase your cardio, you'll find that your overall quality of life will feel like it's going up.

Train Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard.


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