What is fitness really? It really depends on what you need to do…
A story of how reducing cardio training improved a semi pro athlete. Yeah, yeah another run bashing blog I know, but this sums up what we see SO often, hopefully this blog can save some people from the repeated cycle of injury, weight regain, lack of enjoyment and slow progress, of those out there smashing cardio based training protocols.
Dean a Semi Pro Race Car driver who has earnt himself a test session at the 2016 Le Man’s 24 hour race where he’ll be on track with ex Formula 1 drivers, Mark Webber, Sebastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld, Nelson Piquet Jr, Indy Car driver Ryan Briscoe and many other of the world’s elite drivers.
Before we continue I’m sure Dean would like to give a shout out to his driving coach James Winslow for helping him to the next level as a driver in the car.
Dean and I have been working together for a little under a year. He came to me after a year or so of typical functional training and years of running before that. On our first day he told me about his running and cardio based routines. I asked, “do you enjoy running?”
His reply was “after the first few k’s I get warm and feel alright but I’m usually pretty sore and beat up the next day.”
“So why do you run?” I responded
“To stay fit and lose belly fat”…. If you’ve missed our earlier blogs on the topic, check out: “Running to lose weight”
Just a few weeks ago (almost a year on) after a session I asked Dean, “How’d you find that work out mate?” – We are currently working on a Strength, Hypertrophy and Conditioning workout with some max lifts, basic compound hypertrophy and finishing with as little as 5 minutes conditioning work.
“It’s great, I really enjoyed it, while I’m not as exhausted as my old style of training, I feel like every workout now I take something away, like I’m building something, every session I build a little more and move forwards.”
This summed up so well what we’d been working towards.
Dean’s goal is to be the best Racing Driver he can be, he drives high down force cars producing up to 3g’s of force! This obviously takes a huge toll on Dean’s body throughout long stints in the car. High G force Drivers can have a heart rate averaging around 170 bpm for an entire session, and averaging over 30 breathes per minute.
Over 175 beats per minute is considered the black zone – this is a point of arousal where maximal nervous system excitement is reached and we begin to fatigue very quickly. We train this type of peak performance only when he is in the car. When we train, we are focusing solely only improving the recovery time required for his nervous system and maintaining a level of fitness to deal with the needs of his driving.
While we can understand why Dean had the approach of cardio, cardio, cardio for his training, it’s interesting to note, Dean never complained of cardio fatigue when he returned from tests, only ever a feeling of mental exhaustion. Early on in his training it was noticeable Dean had a lot of weakness through his back, hips, glutes and hamstrings and his stability through his core was mid-range, not surprising given his little amount of weight training experience. This was the area of his body most likely to take the brunt of the G-Force on race day and where we needed to get Dean strong.
We got to work, weight training, circuits here and there but manly good old fashion moving iron. To this day, Dean has yet to complain about lack of cardio fitness in the car and has been questioned by his international team owners and drivers about what he’s changed in his training. How is he so fresh after his sessions, and how can he jump right back in the car?
The answer, Dean has improved his ability to absorb force. His nervous system is far more equipped to the demands of being place repeatedly under load. Training Dean under the conditions of his sport everyday would be far to taxing for him to keep up his 5 hours of training per week.
Along the way Dean has stuck to a flexible nutrition plan based on the STCfit Hand Plan to suit his needs, it made him aware of portion sizes, what his meals are made up of and how they make him feel. We are slowly moving towards a more measured approach but for a very busy multiple business owner the STCfit Hand Plan works well for his lifestyle.
Combining all of this the other side effects of Deans progress has been in the form of weight gain, and fat loss – Dean has gained around 3 kgs and lost a total of 4cm’s from his waist.
A huge congratulations to Dean on his results. He deserves his newest opportunity as much as anyone with the way he applies himself to the task. Looking forward to seeing some great pace from you on the day. Well done Dean.
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