When was the last time you went for a long jog? If your main training focus is on putting on lean muscle in the weight room, probably not very recently since interval training became the go-to for cardio.
We love a good, soul-crushing interval session. But a lot of people think that intervals are all they need for cardio. And that’s really too bad, because skipping traditional, low-intensity cardio truly holds back your overall fitness.
Don't Just Stay In One Lane
Fast and slow cardio each have their own place in a well-rounded conditioning plan. Going all-out improves your top-end fitness and ability to sustain high-intensity work. It also causes changes in your heart that boost the force with which your heart can pump blood.
"If you’ve ever heard that low intensity cardio is “bad” for lifters, you’ve heard wrong."
Going easier—a casual jog, slow rowing or swimming—helps you recover, burns calories, and “resets” your central nervous system. It also expands the chambers of your heart.
The combination of the two results both improves your ability to recover and enables your heart to pump more blood with more force. That increases your overall fitness faster. If you’ve ever heard that low intensity cardio is “bad” for lifters, you’ve heard wrong.
Bring On The Slow Burn
Here are two methods to use for low-intensity cardio work that are well worth the time.
Run, row, or stair climb
60 minutes at 120 to 140 BMP heart rate
You should be able to have a conversation at this heart rate. That's fine—keep it up for a full hour, and you'll still see benefits.
Go on a hike
60 minutes at a brisk pace
This is more than just a walk in the park. Hit the trails somewhere with hills and challenging terrain. This also gets you out into nature, which relieves stress and further promotes recovery.