What to do When Cardio is Difficult

In the last few days a few of my clients have managed to do things like rolling an ankle walking down the street. Yes bad things do happen to good people. But what to do about it when you have injured toes, ankles, knees, hips or IT bands?

Here I will outline 4 strategies so you can keep going with your cardio workouts and work through your injuries. The first thing you need to do is determine how severe your injury is.

Strategy 1: Walking – no incline – no equipment available
For those of you with aches in your joints, pulled muscles, and the like, you know that going for a run would probably not be a good idea, even if the pain goes away as you warm up.

Walk for 10 to 30 min based on how you feel before the workout, not during. It can be very difficult to actually listen to your body, but it is important to do so if you are going to be able to manage the inevitable injuries you will encounter during a long healthy life.

Start with a very short stride and gradually lengthen the stride over a couple of min to your normal longer brisk walking stride, but keep it at a casual walk pace.

Strategy 2: Shadow Boxing – Joint / Muscle really hurts – no equipment

Sometimes all you can do is stand up, your body is telling you that even walking would be a bad idea. So shadow boxing can be a great alternative. With shadow boxing you can move your legs as much as as little as you think you should based on your injury.

Start by throwing light short range punches and gradually increase the intensity of the punches and their length. It’s helpful to imagine a man about your height standing in front of you. Some punches to the head, some to the body. Mix it up, have fun.

A simple combo that I use all the time with my clients is to throw two jabs left hand followed by a power punch from the right hand for 30 sec and then switch hands and throw the jabs from the right hand for another 30 sec followed by a 30 sec break. This is called interval training. Get twice the benefit over normal cardio with half the time. Depending on your level of conditioning, you can do 10 to 20 rounds of the 60 sec punching and 30 sec break protocol.

Stance is with one foot forward, one foot back so you are standing with your body at an angle to your “opponent.” The jab is a lighter punch thrown from the side of the body that has the foot forward. The power punch is a much harder thrown punch thrown from the side of the body that has the foot back. My clients tell me theses boxing interval style cardio sessions are a lot of fun!

Strategy 3: Interval training with Kettlebells

Swinging a kettlebell has a much shorter range of motion for your legs than going for a run, yet more than you would need for shadow boxing, so again listen to your body when selecting an exercise for your cardio movement.

A kettlebell looks like a cannon ball with a handle attached to it. It’s an amazing simple device to give you a fantastic workout in a short period of time. We use kettlebells all the time at the gym for strength training and cardio interval training.

Although there are many, many exercises you can do with a kettlebell, for cardio interval training, you only need to know one: the two handed swing. This swing is accomplished by standing tall with the kettlebell held in both hands at the top of the looped handle. Bump the kettlebell out by moving your hips and allowing the kettlebell to swing back through your legs as if you were going to hike pass a football. Now while the kettlebell is moving back you are bending at the hips and keeping your back straight and abs tight. Just before the kettlebell reaches it’s back most point, you start to snap your hips forward, keeping your back straight and watch that kettlebell rocket forward. It will swing out to about chest height, then lower and repeat.

For interval training, you can use a lighter kettlebell. Swing it for 30 sec. and rest for 30 sec. Do this for 10 to 15 min.

Strategy 4: Long Rope Training: lots of leg pain, no upper body pains

When I say long, I mean we have a 50′ 1.5 inch diameter rope at the gym for people that want insane cardio without having to move their legs. I initially bought this to work with a client that couldn’t move her knee at all.

Wrap the rope around a heavy piece of equipment or pole so that you have two 25′ sections anchored at the pole. Grab one end in each hand. Now raise both hands and lower both hands sending your energy down the length of the rope. The idea is to get the entire rope to leave the ground. You do this by making a sign wave. Just watch that wave move from you all the way to the pole. It’s pretty cool until you realize that this fun motion is ripping your heart out of your chest. 10 to 15 min of 30 sec making sign waves followed by 30 sec of rest. This simple exercise is murderous and will improve all aspects of your cardio fitness without ever moving from one spot.

Want to learn more about getting back in shape for life? Try my http://2xJumpstart.com program.

To Your Health!
Coach Charles


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