One of my fitness mentors is Chris Highcock from Conditioning Research and author of Hillfit. He always seems to be a year or two ahead of me when it comes to fitness interests and knowledge.
In a comment recently, he referenced a book called The Cardio Code that makes the case for why the science is clear that cardio is necessary for heart health and that lifting weights or even lifting weights in an interval setting is not enough. If anyone else had posted the link, I would have dismissed it and moved on, but it was Chris, so I fired up Bing and did a search.
The Cardio Code was released in 2014, but unfortunately only as an iBook on Apple iTunes. No paper. No Kindle. I dusted off my version 1 of the iPad only to discover I can’t update to the latest iOS version in order to read the book. And since I use Windows and not Mac, I can’t read the book on my laptop. I really do not want to have to read a 270-page technical book on my iPhone.
Now there may be a way to buy the book and convert it to a Kindle-friendly format, but every time I’ve done that in the past, the formatting has been a disaster.
Why wouldn’t the author put the book up on Amazon? There are services to handle both the conversion to Kindle and print-on-demand.
I discovered the author’s website*, which to be kind is “a piece of crap”. More embarrassing than McGuff’s Body By Science site before the “Chinese hackers” got to it. 🙄 Sorry, I’m a little opinionated on this topic. See The Digital Graveyard of My Health and Fitness Mentors for details.
*site down as of April 2021
I located a January 2017 podcast interview with Dr. Kenneth Jay on Leo Training. You can hear that here. The cardio portion of the interview starts around 19 minutes. Although his publishing strategy and website are terrible, his arguments impressed me.
My bias against cardio took a serious blow. Now perhaps someone in the HIT community far smarter than me can find flaws or disagreements with Dr. Jay, but I couldn’t. I still want to read the book or something to better understand this topic, but I’m not buying a new iPad to make that happen.
Not giving up, I went to the Wayback Machine and found an earlier version of the Cardio Code website. A much better version too!
Some highlights from this page:
- Cardio is defined as exercise or training to make your heart work better.
- The goal is to improve the pumping- and blood delivery capacity of the heart to the working muscles.
- The best stimulus to your cardiovascular system is when you DO NOT limit blood flow back to the heart.
Why not just lift weights faster?
The problem arises with the muscular tension used to lift the weight. Because blood delivery to the working muscles depends heavily on perfusion of the muscle (meaning: can the blood actually get to the muscles that need it?) the oxygen rich blood has a hard time getting into the contracting muscle as it (the muscle, that is) will squeeze the blood vessels shut. The vessels may not close completely (that depends on duration and intensity of the contraction) but the blood will have a harder time getting to where it is needed. This is of course a major problem, which will increase heart rate in an attempt to force blood into the muscles. Unfortunately, the net result is only a large increase in blood pressure and a limited return of blood to the heart.
The rest of the blog post discusses VO2Max, intensity, and sports variations.
Right or Wrong? Undervalued or Overvalued?
As a once hardcode cardio skeptic, do I think Dr. Jay is correct? Likely, but for me, that is the wrong question to ask. He is smarter than me as are some of my fellow cardio critics. The way I am approaching this question is as an investor.
For at least a decade, I have heavily invested in the cardio is crap exercise portfolio. I achieved tremendous gains using HIT and walking, but it appears to be time to rebalance my portfolio. Cardio is undervalued to me at this time. It is worth pursuing.
I’d still like to read the book, but that may not be possible. In the meantime, I will ease into some cardio. What type? That will be the topic of my next post.
Time to dust off my old bike? 🤣