How is your cardio / endurance?

Published by Jason Narog on

“I want cardio that lets me lift weights for 4 hours straight” I said during my last training session with Brian. Then I started to think about that statement. Why on earth would I want to lift kettlebells for 4 hours straight? There is no chance I’d be making any sort of gains if I was able to train for that many hours straight.

This brings up an interesting concept regarding cardio and endurance. I was referencing the concept of strength endurance when talking with Brian. In September I’m doing the StrongFirst SFG-1 Kettlebell Instructor course. It includes doing 100 snatches in 5 minutes. So I’m training strength endurance so I can do ballistic kettlebell swinging at a heavy-ish (heavy is relative to the person you’re talking to) weight in a specific amount of time.

But strength endurance isn’t the same thing as running endurance or swimming endurance or even fighting endurance. Cardio and endurance both transfer and don’t transfer at the same time from sport to sport. I’ve seen this a couple times with sprinting / kickboxing training not exactly translating across to “long distance running.” As with weight, distance is relative to the person you’re talking to.

Think about it like this, someone who trains kickboxing, boxing, or anything similar is training for a specific amount of time per round with a predetermined break inbetween. This time of endurance is both sustained but broken up at the same time. Learning how to survive 5 5 minute rounds does not translate into running a half marathon. Well not exactly anyways.

Running a half marathon at a 6 minute mile pace for 13 miles would be completely different than fighting for five minutes, taking a 30 second or 1 minute break, then doing again. But jogging a half marathon at a 10 minute pace could transfer over.

At the same time someone who runs flat ground may even have trouble running stairs or uphill. It’s different muscle groups, different breathing patterns, different everything.

This is where sports specificity training comes into play. You train for the sport you play. Things like weight lifting or bodyweight training transfer over as a supplementary activity for your primary sport but playing / doing the sport is what gets your endurance up for that sport. Running miles to improve your ability to suck in air and improve your overall cardio transfers over to fighting to a degree, but you need the fighting to actually survive in the ring.

The same applies across the board. A marathon runner won’t be able to throw around heavy weights and a weight lifter is going to have trouble in a boot camp class. Find the activity you enjoy doing then find supplementary activities that will help improve that.

Look at weight training as a way to improve your overall well being. Look at weight training as a way to improve the muscles in your body that are neglected on a daily basis from sitting in a chair at a desk job or being overly used in jobs like construction. Get your endurance up in those specific areas you train at then if you want to expand out to something else train in that area as well.

And try to leave your ego at the door. Just because you’re great in one area doesn’t mean you have to be great at everything. Someone great at baseball or football doesn’t necessarily have to be the best at yoga or in a plyo class. Mixed disciplines can help with things like recovery during or after, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be coordinated and perfect.

Think about why you want the cardio or endurance as well. In the specific case that made me think about this topic I wanted to make strength gains. Training for hours and hours won’t give me any strength gains. Get in, train, get out. The only thing that really matters in terms of endurance is whether or not I have what it takes to get through that specific session and whether or not I can recover inbetween sessions. Being able to train for a longer duration during a specific day makes no sense.

The only thing that matters are the gains. Train appropriately so you can continue training your discipline. Get your endurance up enough you can perform for the duration of the session. No more, no less. Give the session all you’ve got. You should be tired afterwards. If you’re not you didn’t work hard enough…