WSBB Blog: Strength Athlete Cardio
In the world of strength sports, athletes are typically focused on attaining massive gains in size and strength, thinking that these two attributes alone are the keys to success. You’ve seen these types of lifters before, their diet consists of a steady dose of McDonalds and tren, and they walk away from lifting massive weights with a tomato face looking like death is near. Then, as quickly as they ascended to the heights of strength, they fall off due to their poor health decisions catching up to them. This type of approach has unfortunately become all too common in the world of strength sports, and it has cut many impressive lifting careers short due to the short and long-term health implications that sort of lifestyle presents. Avoiding this is actually very simple, get moving and add in some cardiovascular training to your regimen. Below, we will go over a few exercises to help you seamlessly and cardiovascular training into your programming.
One of the easiest, and cheapest ways to increase cardiovascular endurance and physical strength simultaneously is by dragging a loaded sled. We say cheap because a reliable weight sled can be typically purchased for around $100. This is a value considering the amount of work you can get done with the sled. Whether you pull walking forwards, backward, or side to side, the sled will add strength to your legs and capacity to your lungs. For heavy sled drags we recommend fifteen to twenty-five yard drags loading the sled as heavy as possible while successfully completing all prescribed trips. Lighter sled drags are used for a more cardio-focused exercise. At Westside, our lifters will typically take a light sled loaded with two to four forty-five pound plates for a lap or two around the entire complex which is near a quarter-mile per lap. For strength athletes, it is easier to begin dragging a heavy sled to acclimate yourself to the training, once you’ve increased cardiovascular capacity and endurance you can move on to longer distances.
A great way to kill two common strength athlete weaknesses with one exercise is through the use of farmer walks. You cannot have a strong enough grip, and you can never have enough cardiovascular endurance. By implementing farmer walks into your programming, you are aggressively attacking both of those weaknesses. At Westside, our lifters typically carry farmer handles weighing between 220lbs and 300lbs for distances of 10-15 yards one way, with a down and back trip counting as one trip completed. Consistent use of farmer walks will result in massive gains in grip strength, bracing ability, neutral spine posture, and cardiovascular endurance. In the absence of farmer handles, you can carry heavy kettlebells or dumbbells for longer distances.
This exercise is one of the best ways to absolutely light your entire body up at the end of a training session. Yoke walks tax the entire body, from your neck to your feet, in a way that most other cardiovascular exercises cannot. Not only will you make gains in cardiovascular capacity, but you will also increase strength in the upper back, trunk, and lower body. This exercise can be done with extremely heavy weights for short distances, or moderate weights for long-distance. When cardio is the focus, you will want to travel a longer distance. Our athletes will typically carry50-60% of their squat max for 15-20 yards. If you don't have access to a yoke, you can use a safety squat bar as a substitute.
No matter the sport, cardiovascular capacity is extremely important. Many strength athletes fall into the mindset that cardio is not as important considering most strength sports lifts are performed statically. However, heightened levels of cardiovascular ability will speed up recovery times, and allow you to train at a higher level for a longer period of time. Aside from the sport aspect, strength athletes also need cardiovascular training to ensure they live a healthy life without cutting years off needlessly. Your laziness will not only cheat you out of pounds on the platform, it can cheat you out of some of the best years of your life.