The Metamorphosis of Bodybuilding Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 I put forward a number of observations on why I felt that bodybuilding ( and general fitness) today just wasn’t progressing and staying stuck in a rut with so  many failing to make the gains they had expected. The inevitable outcome usually being a turning to drugs or extreme training and dieting principles.

For me a lot of that could quite easily be rectified by doing the thing that so many shun with a fear that it will cause them to overnight loose everything they’ve worked to gain.

Steady state cardiovascular training.

Routinely we see on forums advice given that to do SSCT will lead to muscle loss and that high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.)  or tabata protocols  are much better. My first observation is that those answers are driven more by the bodybuilders ( and the short attention spans of today’s societies)  programming of always needing to do things harder than anyone else and is necessary. Unfortunately people are not seeing the wood for the trees.

When training the cardiovascular system we need to look at the heart as having two functions. Eccentric cardiac hypertrophy and concentric cardiac hypertrophy.

Concentric cardiac hypertrophy is what you get when doing higher intensity type training when your heart rates are pushed up into their maximum zones. Things like tabata, interval sprints and H.I.I.T. All these work by making the heart contract more forcefully. Were as eccentric cardiac hypertrophy works by increasing the stroke volume of the heart through helping to stretch the left ventricular cavity and helping you to pump a much larger volume of blood per heart beat.

If you are continually strength training heavily and relying on H.I.I.T type protocols for your cardiovascular training all you are doing is training the heart and cardiovascular system to work on one singular pathway. To pump harder. You are not teaching it to be able to expand, take in a greater volume of blood per stroke and thus deliver a larger volume of oxygen and nutrient rich blood. And with that comes a system that is more able to repair the body after strenuous exercise.

Now we are not talking about going out and doing excessive mileage in the realms of those done by marathon runners. No, we are looking at at least 30 minutes of movement which raises your heart rate and breathing patterns to the point that you can still comfortably hold a conversation without feeling or sounding breathless. But don’t do this type of training on a weights day. Its better served for days of active recovery or those that are designated as your pure conditioning workouts.

Try the above for the next 4-6 weeks 1-2 days per week and see what a difference it makes.

Steven A Barlow, Co founder and founder of Spartan Runners “because we don’t just run” © 2012


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