Building Life Long Fitness Part 1

Build your cardio to lay the foundation for your long-term fitness.
Brandon Garcia
March 5, 2024
Building Life Long Fitness Part 1

In my last blog I talked about "World Class Fitness in 100 Words" and specifically about how nutrition is the foundation of fitness. That paragraph (the "100 words") lays the foundation for a larger discussion on the roadmap of actually building up your fitness. It's the synopsis of something called the Theoretical Development of an Athlete aka how to do develop your fitness. Over the next few blogs, I'll be going through this in a way that makes sense to those of us that are not nerds about the gym or fitness. To start, what is the theoretical hierarchy? Again we go to Coach Glassman's article What is Fitness:

A theoretical hierarchy exists for the development of an
athlete. It starts with nutrition and moves to
metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting, and
finally sport. This hierarchy largely reflects foundational
dependence, skill, and to some degree, time ordering
of development. The logical flow is from molecular
foundations, cardiovascular sufficiency, body control,
external object control, and ultimately mastery and
application. This model has greatest utility in analyzing
athletes’ shortcomings or difficulties.
We do not deliberately order these components but
nature will. If you have a deficiency at any level of “the
pyramid” the components above will suffer.

Now, I already gave a quick overview of nutrition that you can read HERE. So, let's get to the next part: Metabolic Conditioning. You may know it as "cardio", but it's more than that. It's your body's ability to generate energy and how efficiently it uses it. It's why it's right next to nutrition. The two play on each other to make energy available in the right amounts at the right times. Which is why eating well is so important, good fuel in, good fuel available to use.

So, what counts as cardio? Well, a lot of things really. There are several ways you can get your heart rate up. We often joke in CrossFit that we lift weights to get strong and get our cardio by "lifting weights, faster". But really what Coach Glassman is talking about here is strictly "cardio" type endeavors. Things like running, rowing, biking, swimming, jumping rope, skating, cross-country skiing, etc.

There are two ways to improve your cardio; aerobic (lots of oxygen) and anaerobic (little to no oxygen). Think running a 5k vs a 100m sprint. What we've learned is that properly structured anaerobic training has more benefit than does aerobic. Why? Because almost no amount of aerobic training will improve your anaerobic ability, but the right amounts of anaerobic training can improve your aerobic capacity.

In plain language, no amount of running 5k's will make you a faster sprinter, but doing sprints in the right intervals will improve your 5k. That's not to say that longer, steady state cardio doesn't have it's place. It does. And it should be a part of a well balanced plan. But you'll get more bang for your buck out of intervals (think HIIT training).

So why is cardio first? Isn't weight training better for fat loss? Yes. It is. But if your cardio sucks your form will break down faster and you'll begin to lose out the benefits. Also, building your cardio is often an easier place to start your fitness journey. Going for a fast paced walk or a slow jog, going out to the patio and skipping some rope, etc. is a far easier to do for someone new to fitness than going to a gym or buying weights and such for the home gym.

When you build a house, you start from the ground and move up. If you can do the same with your fitness, you can build momentum over time and make your fitness something sustainable, especially if you're not working with a coach. Working with a coach can build amore custom plan built for you where you're at. But, if you're going at it on your own, getting started with building your cardio will help you begin laying a solid foundation.

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