Prior to starting the Cardio-club, I had been looking at implementing cardio programming for some time, mainly because of the impact it will have on achieving overall fitness goals for our members - namely increased quality work-capacity. The Cardio-club sessions are a very important part of a holistic training program for a number of key/vital reasons. From decreased recovery times, to increased power-output, cardio sessions (when coupled with the GAC) makes for a more well-rounded athlete.
The sessions are scheduled as 'purely cardio' sessions which mean they are to be conducted according to cardio training protocols. ie. sub-maximal effort for sustained (>20min periods). The reason for this is because we already train the other energy systems extensively during the GAC.
The training protocol for the Cardio Club is:
- Duration: 20 to 60 minutes
- Energy Systems Worked: Aerobic
- Intensity level: Low to moderate (60 to 70 % your MHR)
The benefits of this protocol are well illustrated in the following article:
I've quoted the most relevant passages below:
"The oxidative system is vital to producing ATP for long periods of time. Developing a more efficient aerobic system will aid in recovery for more intense bouts of exercise by making your body’s ability to transition between different energy systems more efficient. Also aerobic capacity training helps develop cardiac output. Keeping intensity low will drive a maximal amount of blood through the heart and make a more efficient left ventricle. Thus moving more blood with each beat and making for a more efficient heartbeat."
"Aerobic work assists the autonomic nervous system composed of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. It helps by calming the sympathetic nervous and reducing that “on” feeling that we get when performing any HITT or heavy rep maxes."
Our overall goal is to increase our work capacity and to complete the work with quality. Therefore in the past, we have spent a lot of time training the phosphagenic and glycolytic energy systems as part of our normal GAC programming. Relying on the volume of work (and rests) to provide aerobic benefits. But one area which will vastly improve our work capacity is to conduct regular specific aerobic training. Low-intensity cardio-training minimises stress on the CNS and body, and limits any detrimental effect on our bodies due to the already high-workload. Especially if you are doing multiple GAC's per week, have a family and working full-time, etc.
Increasing the workload without overly taxing the CNS increases our threshold tolerance for work and helps to 'normalise' operating at higher workloads. If we were to try to achieve the same outcome by increasing the frequency of high-intensity interval or anaerobic workouts it would take us longer to recover and would diminish the quality of the actual workouts themselves in a short time - negating the benefits.