Long, steady distance training has limitations

Long steady distance (i.e. LSD) performed on stationary cardio equipment may be an effective means of improving foundational cardiovascular endurance; however, once, perhaps twice a week is usually enough to provide the body with the outcomes that are required to maintain this baseline of cardiovascular endurance fitness.

There are exceptions to this scenario; however, observing clients on many occasions get on a piece of cardio equipment at low to moderate levels of intensity (i.e. they are talking on their cell phones the entire time) for 30-60 minutes and then leave to get on with their day is generally not going to provide them with the results they are seeking.

The body needs to be stressed regularly as it adapts relatively quickly to low to moderate levels of cardiovascular training. And, as you know if you read this column weekly, once the body adapts either it will plateau or may begin to lose fitness within that specific fitness component. Consequently, if you want to improve, you need to periodically modify your program either in terms of frequency, duration, type or intensity.

Not only should you be performing a variety of exercise programs throughout the year, you should avoid spending too much time on LSD training. Kicking it up a notch performing high intensity intervals a couple of times per week during a cardio program and making certain your program is comprehensive so that you are including muscular strength training, is essential if you intend to improve your fitness level continuously.

Is LSD a waste of time? Well, that depends. If all you are performing is LSD training, then perhaps so. If you are performing LSD once a week and then rounding out your program with HIIT both during cardiovascular training and muscular strength training, then probably not. Our bodies do require some LSD; however, too many clients spend way too much time performing LSD at the expense of time spent performing muscular strength exercises, which are crucial, not just for improving your muscular strength but also to increase your muscle mass. An increase in muscle mass will help increase the body’s metabolism, making you an amazing fuel burning furnace. This improves body composition (i.e. lean to fat ratio) and helps to manage your body weight.

So, the next time you workout, warm-up on the cardio equipment, then get off and perform an exercise program provided by your personal trainer, which should include a wide variety of exercises addressing every major muscle group of the body, a segment every couple of days that includes HIIT, if you are able to perform at that level of intensity and of course the flexibility and myofascial release training to keep you supple.

Check out this sample program to provide you with a workout template – all HIIT days include abdominal/core training; all days include myofascial release/flexibility training; compound exercises are those that work the entire body simultaneously.

Monday: HIIT on your cardio equipment of choice – 40 minutes; compound exercises – 10 minutes

Tuesday: Full body muscular strength training program – 45-60 minutes

Wednesday: LSD – 30-60 minutes

Thursday: Full body muscular strength training program – 45-60 minutes

Friday: HIIT Circuit – 10-stations – 2-3x through – 30-45 minutes

Saturday or Sunday: Compound exercises – 30 minutes

Saturday or Sunday: Rest/recovery day

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