Most guys don’t enjoy cardio. The monotony. The lack of heavy lifting. The sweating. The heavy breathing.
It’s just not fun.
But do you know what is fun?
Racing. Competition. Having a training goal.
A 5k maybe?
Unfortunately, bad knees, a bad back, tight hips, terrible running form, and a propensity for training like a madman usually put the brakes on before we can even get the engine revved up.
The good news is that there is another way to train for a 5k.
Although this training method probably won’t put you on the podium, it will save your knees and back, add some enjoyment to your cardio, and allow you to break a few personal records and drop a few pounds.
Phase 1 – The foundation
We’re going to start with a base building phase – Slow, steady cardio training to improve your cardiac output, more specifically your stroke volume.
The first thing you’re going to do is create an awesome playlist. Put all of your favorites on it – Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z, Kevin Gates, Bieber, Brittany Spears, etc. Make sure it’s about 25-30 minutes in length.
Then it’s simple. You’re going to train 2-3 times per week. You’ll set your playlist, turn the volume up, and start with 10-minute blocks. Perform some form of light cardio for 10 minutes, rest for 3-5 minutes, and repeat for a total of 3 sets. Start slow and slowly progress.
How do you know if it’s working?
Your resting heart rate should drop. The goal is to get your resting heart rate in the mid 60’s to low 70’s by the end of this phase.
This phase will last 30-45 days.
3 Things To Remember
- Keep it light. There’s no need to exceed 65-75% of your max heart rate (~150 beats per minute). Just like a nice Thanksgiving turkey, you should have a sweaty glaze when you’re done. In fact, you should feel really energized when you’re done. You should NOT be able to wring your shirt and form a pool of sweat, nor should you be huffing and puffing when you’re done. Start with 10-minute “trials” separated by 3-5 minutes of rest. 3 sets the first 2 weeks, then 4 sets for a few weeks, and eventually getting to 45-70 minutes of total training per session 3 times per week.
- Choose forms of cardio that save your knees, hips, and low back. Rowing and spinning are my favorites. I have a slight man-crush on spinning. Although the bike seats aren’t anatomically comfortable for males, standing while you’re spinning is my preferred choice as you don’t have to spin as fast to get your heart rate elevated.
- Peform some prehab work before your cardio. For me, my hips and low back become irritated with too much running, especially outside. Goblet squats, band work, hyperextensions, and some stretching will do wonders. Not too heavy. Not too much.
Phase: Base Building
Workouts per week: 2-3
Length of Workouts: 10-minute training blocks separated by 3-5 minutes of active rest.
Intensity: 65-75% of max heart rate
Progression: Three 10-minute blocks the first 2 weeks, four 10-minute blocks the next 2 weeks, and then six-10 minute blocks the final 2 weeks.