When I bring up the term aerobic capacity (VO2 Max) a lot of people picture a marathon runner with little muscle mass or muscle definition.
I get it…
(Here is the link to part 1 of this article.)
Doing extended daily sessions of intense cardio, day-after-day and year-after-year will definitely burn muscle.
That is NOT the strategy I’m going to discuss here.
I’m going to outline a way to increase your VO2 Max with a higher than normal volume of cardio intervals for 8 weeks…
…with the ability to maintain that level of conditioning with just 1-2 cardio sessions per week.
Since we’re talking cardio and cardio reminds me of the 80’s?
An 80’s vintage MTV video is called for.
Well, there is what is called an “easy adaptation phase” that happens at around 8 weeks of doing VO2 Max training 3-4 times per week.
Improving past this point to your highest potential can take a much more sustained effort over a period of 8 to 18 months.
Maintaining VO2 Max?
Peak aerobic power can be maintained even when training is reduced by two-thirds. There are studies showing that runners and swimmers have cut training back by 60%, 21 days before a competition…with no decline in VO2 Max.
Speaking of studies…
For those who enjoy scientific studies, here is a link to a monster 648 page book covering all of this.
Don’t have time to read 648 pages?
“I remember hating you for loving me! Riding on the metro oh oh”.
What type of effort increases VO2 Max?
You can increase aerobic capacity simply by doing an activity like running or biking often…or you can use intervals.
Researchers have found that 2-3 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic effort that is followed by 1-2 minutes active rest is what really challenges your VO2 Max system.
Here’s a sample VO2 Max cardio machine workout:
- 5 minute jog to where you are moderately challenging your aerobic capacity.
- 2 minutes of walking.
- 3 minutes fast jog/running pace.
- Alternate 2 minutes of walking with a 3 minute fast jog/running pace for 30-40 minutes.
Why long intervals?
Anytime you perform an activity that makes you breathe hard afterward it is potentially increasing your VO2 Max.
Short intense intervals cause you to breathe hard afterward, but the limiting factor is normally your anaerobic and lactate system.
…they still help to increase VO2 max, but not as directly as longer intervals.
To maintain muscle I recommend a mix of short and long intervals.
Both of these work your VO2 Max, but spending too much of your time doing longer aerobic work can burn a bit of muscle.
My advice is to limit the longer interval sessions to 1-2 times per week…and mix in 3-4 days of shorter intervals (or metabolic conditioning work with weights, body weight circuits, etc.)
My other advice?
Watch this awesome old school MTV vid!
(This is the original Austrian version, but good “dance jogging” moves translate well across all languages).
For two months do 4-5 interval sessions per week
Make sure at least one of these is of the longer variety (like the one I outlined above).
Once two months are up it has been shown that aerobic conditioning can be maintained with just one solid 30-40 minute VO2 Max session per week.
At this point you can just maintain your aerobic conditioning.
With an improved VO2 Max, your body should be able to get more fat burning love from resistance training, walking, etc.
Warning: Your body might hold onto a little bit of extra water during the 2 months of frequent intervals. This is a cortisol response from pushing hard.
Once you dial back cardio, your body will release excess water and will reveal your full sexiness.
One of my go-to Karaoke songs…so tacky and awesome.
What if this VO2 Max stuff barely makes a difference?
That is a possibility.
Most of this stuff is an inexact science. Seriously…we still have so much to learn when it comes to the human body.
The worst case scenario?
You will burn a bunch of calories over the next two months and if your diet is reasonable should be at least 5 pounds lighter.
You will also be able to go hiking and do other activities without being out of breath and feel like you want to puke.
You will actually be fit…not just look fit.
What a novel concept 🙂