Skip navigation

NEED HELP?|

Yesterday I twittered:

 

"Killer  wrkout @ gym incl cardio system developmnt on treadmil. HR in 190s.  Hadnt committed 2 that n a while. Felt gr8! #bustinguphomeostasis."

 

kristmjo replied:

 

@JessiStensland what is cardio system development? Sounds awesome...

 

I  tried my best to respond in 140 characters but it was impossible to nail  the scope of it so I decided a blog post, even if brief, was a good  idea.

 

"Energy System Development (ESD) is the cardiovascular component of Core Performance training programs" says CorePerformance.com. I tend to call it Cardio  System Development in public because it gives people a better idea of  what I am referring to.  In the rest of this post I will refer to it as  ESD.

 

There is a comprehensive article on the Core Performance website here and I recommend the read.  For the purpose of this post I will relate  ESD, its relevance and application, specifically to endurance  performance.

 

Think  of it this way. Cardio capacity (including cardio strength, endurance  and power) is only ONE component of swim, bike and run performance.   Other components include: muscular strength, stability, joint mobility,  flexibility, elasticity, nutrition, sleep and mindset to name a few  (major ones.)  In purposeful performance training then, the idea would  be to maximize your body's ability to perform each and every one of  those elements and then coordinate them into a movement pattern that is  your sport.  For example: the ability to stabilize the spine in the  neutral zone and maintain pelvic neutral requires core, or PILLAR,  strength and stability.  Every minute of life, save for sleep maybe,  requires it (to stay free of chronic pain and to be able to perform any  action you want.)  Every individual movement, including the incredibly  dynamic action of running (which is simply a series of coordinated  movements) requires spinal stabilization and strength in order to be  properly performed, let alone produce power when and as needed.   Training your ability to do that, as many people have experience who've  done some sort of core training, is easier maximized by doing movements  that focus specifically on that element of performance, allowing us to  bring that strength and stability and posture to our daily life and  sport.  Said another way, its hard to work on, and certainly near  impossible to maximize, core strength while running, no matter how hard  you try.

 

Cardio capacity can be considered in much the same way.

 

Swim,  bike and run are all very different movements, though all requiring the  same strong spinal stabilization and strength.  Similarly they also  require similar cardio strength, cardio endurance and cardio power.  The  only major difference between sports is the dynamic movements required  to do that activity.  Additionally, it is also important that one's  cardio capacity is able to withstand, and complement, the demands of the  leg speeds, leg power and core power that each sport requires.

 

If you  only ever do swim, bike and run training for the sake of putting in  miles and minutes as many endurance programs do, without regard to the  precision and efficiency of each element going into the performance, it  is quite impossible to maximize each element they require in order to  reach true performance potential.  For example, you can get much better  elastic qualities of the muscles in specific plyometric movements (squat  jumps, hops, bounds and particular running drills, for example) than  you will in just running.  Training muscles and movements to be elastic  as a component of a training program is key to being able to bring that  elastic component to running. Ideally, one would then train their  movements in order to be able to also control that elasticity where/when  and as needed throughout a dynamic action such as running.

 

Similarly,  our cardio system needs to be maximized.  VERY VERY often I'm finding  now, athletes training for endurance are far from maximizing their  cardio system development.  They tend to hover around that threshold and  never bust through it.  Busting through that threshold (think sprint  interval training) - serves to INCREASE one's anaerobic threshold (AT)  thereby allowing an athlete to do more work at the same effort.  Sure  one's threshold will increase somewhat over time with some basic  endurance training and increased fitness level, but not often pushed to  its maximum potential. Simply stated when you go harder, over your  threshold, especially WAY over your threshold, your muscles are  screaming for more oxygen carrying blood and your body WILL respond to  that request immediately.  Muscles will develop to  be able handle those  demands, and over time it won't be so "hard" for you to get the  required blood flow and oxygen to those muscles.  Your body will soon be  able to do it quicker and more efficiently.

 

Think  of it this way.  Wouldn't you rather your heart beat at 180bpm than  160bpm for the same amount of effort...getting that much more blood and  oxygen transported to your muscles helping them do more work?  Energy  system development aims to do just that with purpose-driven sprint  interval training:  bust through that threshold often, thereby  INCREASING IT, and maximizing your performance potential.  Similar to  the elasticity example mentioned above, in which you may end up with  more elasticity than is needed for a sport or distance, you can then  choose how much of it you use instead of never having enough. The same  goes for cardio capacity.  If you increase your threshold to 180bpm from  160bpm (I say this because that is what I did in 2004 over a 3 week  period,) running at 160bpm feels quite a lot easier.  That is where  sprint interval training with the purpose of increasing cardio capacity  and anaerobic threshold can make a positive impact during a longer  endurance race, say a half marathon or marathon distance.  Incorporating  this type of training has the potential to play a major role in  maximizing efficiency and overall performance.

 

In a  lecture I attended last week, a study was referenced in which it was  found that 2.5 hours of sprint interval training produces biochemical  changes in the muscle equivalent to 10.5 hours of endurance training,  when looking at the markers related to endurance performance.  I  experienced the immediate and positive impact that purpose-driven  cardio system training can have when i was introduced to it within  the Core Perforamance methodology back in 2004 while training for the  Olympic Trials in triathlon.

 

Consequently  doing this type of training also allowed me to have much more time to  work on my strength, movement, recovery, things that most endurance  athletes don't think they have time for since they spend all the time  they have swimming, cycling and running many minutes and miles, often  with little purpose other than because that's what their training  program said and that's what everyone else is doing.

 

Side note:  ESD also involves download periods of recovery sessions as well.

 

There are any number of types of methods, intervals, times, etc. that can be used in cardio system development.

 

Yesterday my set was simply:

 

3 x [ 4 x (1min @ 10mph + 1min @ 6mph) ]

 

I  chose 10mph hoping I'd be able to hold that for all of the 1 minute  intervals, and I was.  My heartrate was getting up in to my "red" zone:   185-192bpm.   ESD has only 3 zones:  easy, hard, hardest. Red =  hardest.  I was recovering down to 155bpm during the 1 minute recovery  at 6mph.  I was way over my threshold on those 1 minute intervals.  My  goal is to be able to run 10mph at threshold as my race pace (5-10km.)   In other words: my goal is to be able to do the same amount of work for  much less effort.  A few more weeks of consistent ESD and that'll be no  problem.

 

Here's another example of ESD which I did on a client that gives some more insight into the power of  pushing through the 'threshold' of mind and body when it comes to  maximizing cardio capacity in endurance performance.

 

One  final note.  Notice in that twitter mentioned above I finished with the  phrase:  busting up homeostasis.  That I quoted from Nick Winkelman  during his brilliant lecture on periodization last week at Athletes' Performance's Phase 4 Mentorship. He mentioned, quite emphatically, that a goal of performance training is to bust up homeostasis.

 

According to Wikipedia, homeostasis is from Greek: ὅμοιος, hómoios, "similar"; and στάσις, stásis, "standing still".

 

Busting  up homeostasis therefore means to me the opposite of staying the same.   Creating change.  In performance training that would mean making an  improvement. I have seen DAILY improvements in my training, in one  element or another and often more than one at a time. I aim for daily  improvements in my strength, stability, coordination and cardio capacity  to name a few.  In that sense then, my threshold of today is higher  than my threshold of yesterday. Said another way: today's 100% is  tomorrow's 99, which means I can, and will, go harder and do more work  for my 100% effort than I did the day before.  It's a simple concept  that I hope will be more widespread in mainstream endurance training  programming sooner than later.

Much more where that came from, but there you go.

 

Go bust up homeostasis!!

2,367 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, endurance, performance, cardio, jessi_stensland, stensland