Cardiovascular Exercise: How To Make It Increase Testosterone!
When asking yourself whether or not you should do cardio, you first need to decide what your main goal is. For example, you may want to have a great physique and be capable of competing in a sport or doing some type of cardio based activity such as an obstacle course race. If you have multiple goals, or competing in some type of sport is one of your main goals then cardio will probably have to be part of your program.
If your number one goals is simply to have a great physique, then you do not need to do any specific cardiovascular training. Nearly anyone that follows a strict diet and resistance training protocol should be able to reach their genetic potential in terms of muscle mass and leanness without using serious cardiovascular training.
However, cardiovascular training has a number of unique benefits that can add quality to your life and assist you in maintaining overall health. Arguably the best aspect of cardiovascular training is the maintenance and expansion of the capillary beads around your body. Basically the smallest blood vessels in your body will expand to cover more of the muscle tissue in your body as you become more adapted to cardiovascular training.
This enhanced peripheral circulation has a number of benefits including: better nutrient delivery t working muscles, increased ability to maintain body temperature during high intensity work, increased ability to deliver oxygen to working muscle tissue. While these adaptations to cardiovascular based exercise will have little direct impact on your strength or power, they will increase your ability to tolerate and recover from demanding weight workouts.
An increased ability to tolerate and recover from demanding workouts is one of the primary reasons people like CHP’s Alexa Viada encourage even competitive powerlifters to perform some type of cardiovascular exercise. You can read more about his take on mixed training in the article Special Endurance Sport Considerations for Strength athletes. Basically, you want to have muscles that have a good amount of peripheral circulation so that you can use those muscle for more then just low rep weight training.
Engaging in some type of endurance training, even at low intensities, ensures you have a greater level of peripheral circulation in most of your bodies muscle tissue. This is important as the last thing most people want is to look fantastic but have a level of fitness comparable to a sedentary person. Unfortunately this is a reality for many people who have built up nearly all of there muscle tissue while engaging in only a small amount of sitting, standing and walking outside of their gym workouts.
While sustained moderate to high intesity endurance training will be necessary to compete in a sport or obstacle course race it is not needed for anyone seeking to maintain fitness while enhancing their physique. If you primarily want to look good and maintain your health into old age, your primary forms of cardio should be walking, sprinting or multi-directional movement.
Walking is the first form of cardio and should be the base of your fitness for the majority of people reading this. If you have no idea how much movement you are getting every day, you can simply purchase one of the various fitness trackers offered at nearly any major sporting goods store. Any type of basic tracker such as a Fitbit will do the trick.
A trend of walking 10,000 steps per day was started in the 90’s and popularized in japan and is frankly a pretty good start for most people. This will get you totaling about 5 miles of movement per day. Studies have shown this is much closer to the amount of movement per day the human body was built to perform then the amount of movement the average person gets. This is a great start for most people and will drastically increase the peripheral circulation for the untrained athlete.
The next step is to do some type of sprinting. For anyone that is relatively untrained this may take the form of running for 10-30 seconds. For those of you who have a sufficient athletic background to perform proper sprints, you can start off with 50-200 meter sprints. These can be performed from a jogging start or from a dead stop. Keep in mind starting from a jog is going to be easier on the nervous system and muscle tissue so you may want to start with that.
Make sure you build up to maximum effort. For most people with warm up will happen in the form of a jog and then a few sub-maximal sprints. For example, you could warm up with 70%, 80%, 90% before performing 4-5 sets of sprints at 95% of maximum effort. You could then perform a short cool down jog.
Finally, if you are new to sprinting you could start increasing your running speeds performing hill sprints. Hill sprints force proper sprint mechanics and prevent the violently fast limb speeds that cause the majority of strains and muscle pulls during all out sprints. You can then slowing work toward sprinting on flat ground by utilizing progressively less steep inclines to sprint on.
Finally you can utilize a form of movement drills called multi-directional movement. For this type of movement you will be performing repeated sets of movement in a number of directions while utilizing a number of different movement patterns. For example you might run forward 40 yards before doing a side shuffle for 20 yards and then running backward to the start point. These drills are going to be similar to the movement drills you see athletes performing in their warm ups. Anyone who has played basketball or football should be intimately familiar with these types of drills.
For an example of multi directional movement you can check out a bunch of kids performing these drills. If they can do it, you can do it. The point of these drills is to get the body used to changing directions so that you are better able to support your body during more extreme multi dimensional forms of movement. This type of training goes a long way toward maintaining your athleticism, health, bone and connective tissue health into old age.
If you are an athlete that needs to perform conditioning for your sport then there are an infinite number of different programs you could choose to pursue. For the general fitness population seeking strength and health, walking and one workout utilizing sprints or multi directional movement per week should be plenty.
For more information about the role of cardiovascular training and how cardio can be applied to a lifestyle geared toward increasing natural testosterone production check out the TestShock program. If you want more specifics about how to structure a weight training program for maximal testosterone enhancement or how to implement sprint and multi-directional movement training, check out the THOR program.