Endurance cardio- pros and cons

C-Note

Hummingbird
Gold Member
I have lifted weights most of my life, but I've also done an equal amount or more of cardio. I think there a lot of good reasons to have some significant cardio in your exercise regimen, including:

1. Heart fitness
2. Stress relief
3. Weight control
4. Plentiful, public events available, such as road races and triathlons
5. The running community can be rewarding to participate in, such as running clubs, including Hashhouse Harriers (which I haven't yet done anything with). Quite a few attractive, well-balanced women are distance runners. Some running races will have a "pasta dinner" the night before so runners can socialize with each other.
6. Getting you outside and in nature

There are some cons:

1. Stress on joints
2. Time consuming- Preparing for a distance race can be much more time consuming that weightlifting
3. Can interfere with muscle gain if you're also a weightlifter
4. Cortisol dumps, which can cause acne, sleep problems, chronic diarrhea, and (this is a biggie) lowered testosterone

Ryan Hall, a professional marathoner, retired at age 33 mainly due to the health effects he noticed from lowered testosterone. I've noticed that whenever I watch a video on YouTube or wherever on triathlon tips, that almost all the serious male triathloners who make those videos have noticeably high-pitched voices and lack of muscle mass.

Because of the lockdown forcing me to work from home and giving me more time for the gym, I've really gotten into the triathlon thing. I'm signed up for five triathlons this year, including one sprint, two standards (Olympic), and two half-Irons (70.3). I'm currently doing about 10-11 hours of cardio a week. Next year I want to do a full Ironman, which will probably have me doing up to 15 hours of cardio a week in preparation. I am somewhat worried about it giving me lower testosterone production.

I try to mitigate the testosterone problem by lifting weights, even though the added bulk probably does slow me down. Since I'm not trying to be a professional, I think it's fine to sacrifice some speed to having bigger muscle mass in the upper body. I do about 45-minutes of weightlifting, five days a week. I make sure to do exercises known to stimulate testosterone production, such as standing military presses and deadlifts. So far, I think it's working, as my voice doesn't seem to be getting higher and my libido is staying about the same.

If you're trying to build muscle mass while doing endurance cardio, I think you can do both with the use of supplements. In the past I took whey protein and creatine while doing about five hours of cardio a week, and I was able to put on 10 lbs of upper body muscle in six months, enough bulk that I had to replace my suitcoat.
 

JayR

Woodpecker
such as running clubs, including Hashhouse Harriers
The Hash House Harriers can be a lot of fun, however it is more of a social club than a running club. Their slogan "A drinking club with a running problem" is apt. Each club is different, but usually there is a contingent of serious/competitive runners and also people who simply walk the course. However, it can be a great way to meet people, and to learn about your local area while getting in some cardio. You can find a hash in just about any city in the world; I haven't been active in a few years, but I used to make it a point to run a hash whenever I traveled to a foreign city or country on business or for pleasure. Active clubs typically have a couple runs per week, while less active chapters might have a couple per month.

One annual event that most Hash chapters participate in is the "Red Dress Run" in which guys run in a red dress or some form of drag. This event is to raise money for charity. If wearing on a dress in public isn't something you're interested in doing, you'll want to skip that event.
 

Zagor

Woodpecker
I was a semi serious runner some time ago. I was not very good at it as I'm of completely oposite build to a long distance runner, but i did enjoy it. The endorphine rush is real. As someone who enjoys running I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys it as well, but i don't think it's neccessary for health, cardio, endurance or longevity. What I do these days for cardio is a combination of long distance hiking and short sprinting session, I feel that that gives me a much better results than long distance running while also not tiring my joints or impacting my weigthlifting performance in any way.
 

Coja Petrus Uscan

Crow
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
A good eliptical running machine gives you tye same results without the joint issues.

I dont do any excercise that places noticable stress on joints. You will thank yourself when you are in your 60s +.

images
 

C-Note

Hummingbird
Gold Member
I did my first triathlon of the year yesterday. It was also the first time I had done a 70.3 ("half-Ironman") triathlon. Based on that experience, it seemed to be about the same level of effort and stress of doing a full marathon (I've done two marathons).

I finished the race, but I really struggled. I thought the swim wouldn't be a problem, because I had done an open water ocean swim for a sprint triathlon in the past, and didn't have any trouble with it. But, I had a lot difficulty right from the get-go yesterday. The temperature was mid-40s and the water temperature was 67. I was afraid I would be cold (which can affect breathing), so I was wearing my sleeveless wetsuit with a long-sleeve UnderArmor compression shirt underneath, plus two swim caps. The water was very rough because it was windy plus the lake gets a lot of boat activity. I felt really constricted and like I couldn't catch my breath. I switched to breast stroking, but it tired me out trying to keep my head above the waves. I ended up having to hang onto the lifeguards' kayaks several times to catch my breath, and I probably left the water almost 20-30 minutes behind the main pack.

I was so worn-out that I walked slowly to the transition area and took my time toweling off and getting dressed for the bike ride. I was about 30 minutes into the bike ride before I finally felt that I was catching my breath.

The bike ride went better. My goal was to average 17 mph on the 56-mile ride, but I ended up averaging 16.5. The race was out in the country and there were lots of Trump 2020 and 2024 signs along the bike course.

The run went a lot better and I was able to average 10-minute miles on a very hilly course, which was my goal. I finished way back in the pack, but I finished.

I really need to find a way to work on the open-water swim. My conditioning shouldn't be a problem. I just need to get mentally used to swimming in rough water. I have two standard (Olympic) triathlons coming up that should help with it before I have another 70.3 in October. There aren't any lakes or ocean in my area to practice.

One thing I noticed is that 99% of the other triathletes at the race did little-to-no upper body weight training. Because we were wearing tight clothes, it was really evident that I did. For what it's worth, I noticed that the other racers, spectators, and especially the race workers (most of whom were women), stared at me quite a bit and interacted with me differently than the other racers. I believe others in this forum have commented on how people, especially women, will interact with you differently if you show some above-average muscle mass in your upper body.

I think having a strong core probably helps with my endurance for the triathlons, but not my speed. In fact, it likely slows me down on the bike ride because of the bigger mass that I have to push through the wind.
 
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Hannibal

Ostrich
Gold Member
The pros are increased heart health, the ability to tap into the energy system I can't remember.

The cons can be entirely mitigated by walking with plenty of weight in such a way that it doesn't wreck your back/shoulder/whatever and it keeps your heart rate above a certain threshold.

The heart is a dumb muscle, anything that jacks up the heart rate to strengthen it will work. Done for a half hour or an hour counts as steady state cardio.

Weighted walking is the way to go.
 

Hannibal

Ostrich
Gold Member
Better to do HIIT
Steady state cardio has its place.

Ancient and less ancient man walked a lot. They walked everywhere. European peasants walked 20 miles a day on a slow day.

Walking massages the spine, it lubricates the joints, burns calories, increases circulation, burns no muscle, and is very low impact.

HIIT has its place too, but for those with time and ability or a job that requires it, lots of walking is excellent for health and longevity.

Edited for grammar.
 

Stadtaffe

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Gold Member
I have also done weights and cardio my whole life, mainly running but a little of cycling, machines at gyms, walking, hiking and have some opinion on this. The opinion is that it is good of course way better than being sedentary but not optimal for a man, and these days I limit my runs to an hour and phase in exercise like skipping before weights which probably classifies as HIIT (sets of 100 skips).

. Plentiful, public events available, such as road races and triathlons
5. The running community can be rewarding to participate in, such as running clubs, including Hashhouse Harriers (which I haven't yet done anything with). Quite a few attractive, well-balanced women are distance runners. Some running races will have a "pasta dinner" the night before so runners can socialize with each other.
This brings back pleasant memories of some athletics clubs I was in. Why do I always run alone these days? Reminds me to ring a friend who was in one of those clubs say hello. Yes, there were pasta dinners the night before races.

My new rule or aim for races or public events is 5km or 10km, half marathon max. I used to be more focused on marathons and half marathons, never a triathlon but decided that if it was going to be running then rather speed than distance. Really though, am trying to shift away from running, add in some fighting sports, but will never be able to leave it alone. Some time I may enter an event and see if I can do 5k in under twenty minutes. Last measured event was 10k in a bit over forty.

Ryan Hall, a professional marathoner, retired at age 33 mainly due to the health effects he noticed from lowered testosterone. I've noticed that whenever I watch a video on YouTube or wherever on triathlon tips, that almost all the serious male triathloners who make those videos have noticeably high-pitched voices and lack of muscle mass.
Thank goodness I quit that stuff.. Probably my current one or two ~10km runs per week aren't enough to do harm. I noticed how marathon runners in the Olympics ended up looking like a piece of string and deliberately steered away from it after completing a small number of them. Triathlete's look better though.

One thing I noticed is that 99% of the other triathletes at the race did little-to-no upper body weight training. Because we were wearing tight clothes, it was really evident that I did. For what it's worth, I noticed that the other racers, spectators, and especially the race workers (most of whom were women), stared at me quite a bit and interacted with me differently than the other racers. I believe others in this forum have commented on how people, especially women, will interact with you differently if you show some above-average muscle mass in your upper body.
Food for thought if SMV is important to you. So I still get a kick out of hiking especially up mountains also for the social aspect but am not drawn to triathlons. I do swim a bit in lakes and at the sea but am not good at it. There was a phase where an ex-girlfriend compelled me to get heavily into road cycling, including events with thin tyres and lycra but cycling is also just not my thing. Scenic cycling on a Sunday but not time trials.

I had a lecturer once at the uni who had done the iron man triathlons. It is definitely an impressive feat, just like climbing the Matterhorn. It's quite incredible, like as if a marathon is not enough, making it about triple of that with the other activities.

The one hour runs, "steady state" cardio leave me feeling though so incredibly fantastic, maybe it's runners high. Just don't get it from the weights. You shouldn't step on the accelerator and the brake at the same time though, doesn't sound like you are, but the weightlifters look very different to the marathon runners in the Olympics. Suppose you should work with your genetics though, that must be a factor and not start doing only the opposite of what you are naturally good at.
 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
European peasants walked 20 miles a day on a slow day.


Find this to be very hard to believe.

Most peasants worked self sufficiently on their allotments, or worked a trade such as blacksmithing, thatching, pollarding etc.

Their lives were incredibly localised. What would be the call for them to spend so long in transit?

(((Modern society))) likes to smear the lives of our European ancestors, especially those who lived in hateful places like Medieval England, that commited the heinous crime of expelling all the Jews, and having no usuary.

Fact is medieval peasants would do whatever work was necessary on their land, then spend an incredible amount of time at leisure within the community. Once you had tended your crops, you'd just effectively be doing odd-jobs. There was not the same 'work ethic' as remotely there is today. It was a work-to-live culture.

Most people think they ate thin gruel all day too. An utter fallacy. Average medieval peasant at a far better diet than most middle class people today, comparing them to the working class diet wise now, is so marked it's absurd.

The sort of meal a peasant would eat at lunchtime would be the sort of thing a Yummy Mummy from Knightbsridge would pay 34 quid for in some organic Bistro.

 

Hannibal

Ostrich
Gold Member
When I worked a manual labor job I was walking 20 miles a day easily, I tried out several step counters and they all came up the same. If you're on your feet all day and your job involves walking around for twelve hours it's really not that difficult. That's three miles an hour for six hours and standing the rest of the time.
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
Professional runners and big hobbyists always talk about "protecting your joints", but is it really true? Humans have been toiling under the sweat of the sun for hundreds of years and running away from wild beasts in the jungle. Surely doing a daily jog shouldn't be that bad? I'd be willing to believe if it you told me that something special about concrete roads makes it dangerous though.

4. Cortisol dumps, which can cause acne, sleep problems, chronic diarrhea, and (this is a biggie) lowered testosterone

No way, are you serious?!
 

Easy_C

Peacock
The biggest reason you need to do it in spite of the downsides:

So you can do it when you NEED to.

In the “real world”, meaning not our sheltered first world existence that is going away very soon, the ability to move from or away a location, at a fast pace, and sustain that pace is literally life or death. You’re not going to survive any kind of firefight if you don’t have sufficient cardio endurance to do burst movements for 10-20 minutes straight. You’re not going to survive any fight on the ground Because you’ll get winded almost immediately grappling. You won’t be able to survive any kind of widespread violence if you can’t run away fast enough. You won’t survive if you can’t consistently hike fast enough to reach your destinations in a timely manner, while also moving along the more difficult safe routes. If you don’t have the endurance to collect and carry essentials like water and do so in a timely manner, you will die.

My recommendation on how to improve that functional aspect: core/leg workouts (like squat rack) mixed with interval training like 60/120s. I’m a long ways to being back at it now but when I’m service I could do 5 miles in about 37-38 minutes, had my 2 mile time under 13 Minutes, and did the Manitou incline first time in 32 minutes. A decade older I can’t do that anymore though, and I’m not sure I could because I’m about 20-25lbs heavier on the upper body (imagine trying to run with three one gallon jugs strapped to you).
 
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LordTBE

Pigeon
Gold Member
I have one had it for 11 years, it was expensive. However it does not give me the same fitness as running does. Not even close. I haven't been able to run consistantly because of shin splints for over 15 years, so the cross trainer is my substitute. It is very easy on the joints. I was able to do consistant 6 minute miles, but without running, now if i play football with my son I am breathing hard
 

bucky

Ostrich
Professional runners and big hobbyists always talk about "protecting your joints", but is it really true? Humans have been toiling under the sweat of the sun for hundreds of years and running away from wild beasts in the jungle. Surely doing a daily jog shouldn't be that bad? I'd be willing to believe if it you told me that something special about concrete roads makes it dangerous though.



No way, are you serious?!
I think it's true that ancient humans ran for distance a lot, mainly in groups of hunters to chase after a herd of animals and wear them down until they could pick off the stragglers or run the whole herd off a cliff. That said, they were running barefoot on natural surfaces, not on concrete and asphalt. I don't think running in padded shoes on manmade hard surfaces is ideal, in fact I think you should only do it if you enjoy it and it's not ruining your knees and other joints and giving you shin splints as it always does eventually for me.

In my opinion there are always far better ways to get fit than running if just being fit is your goal, but I'm biased because I hate running and my body doesn't put up with it well.
 

Stadtaffe

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Gold Member
I went up and down a mountain the other day, was just under an 800m vertical rise.. Reminded me of a sport I have done a tiny amount of - rogaining. It involves a map and compass and finding checkpoints on the map to score points. Some checkpoints score higher than others, so there is strategy in it, and the thing that is particularly challenging is some of these events are 24 hours, so if you are competing seriously you are supposed to walk or jog constantly and not sleep. I did not manage too well with those sleepless events but for an added amount of realism to endurance cardio, that is what you can do.

One thing cardio will not do in my experience is get you 'cut' in the bodybuilding sense. It may assist you to go from fat to slim but not beyond that. Well, everyone is different, maybe some people have a different experience.

Cardio will cause oscillations in your blood sugar, causing it to go down, then you eat like crazy. If getting cut is your goal, not saying it should be, but if it is, weights and diet are a better idea as those ups and downs in blood sugar in my experience lead to a less controlled diet. It is probably also the hormone balance that endurance cardio promotes, which as the OP already mentioned is not testosterone.
 
Cardio is good for mental health, your heart and lungs, stamina and is definitely the holy grail of fat loss. Weight lifting pays off in the long term, but is not as good for fat loss. And cortisol really is not a problem at all for most people, because the levels do not become detrimental, if you do your standard steady state cardio/medium intensity. Who does 2 hours+ of cardio a day? 0.1 percent of the population?
By the way, almost every successful bodybuilder does loads of cardio when cutting, so it is simply not true that it won't make you shredded. Obviously you have to watch your calorific intake. Eat lots of low calorie-dense foods and a lot of protein to fill you up when cutting. Btw, on a side note, I like to do weights in winter and cardio in summer :)
 

darebear

Chicken
1. Stress on joints
2. Time consuming- Preparing for a distance race can be much more time consuming that weightlifting
3. Can interfere with muscle gain if you're also a weightlifter
4. Cortisol dumps, which can cause acne, sleep problems, chronic diarrhea, and (this is a biggie) lowered testosterone

I agree. Running CAN put stress on your joints, but this can be mitigated by taking your easy days easy and focusing on relaxation and good technique.

Slowing down on easy days can also help with points 3. and 4. Running at or below your aerobic threshold (which can be pretty slow) trains the body to utilize mostly fat as the preferred fuel substrate. Running too fast on easy days depletes the muscles glycogen stores and can eventually catabolize muscle, which is definitely not good for gains and can lead to the adverse effects of overtraining that you list out in 4.

Many of us westerners get too caught up in effort and neglect recovery and technique.

Zone 2 heart rate training, or the Maffetone Method, helped me discover the what easy days should feel like.
 

Bitter End

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I like sprints on a track. Do it on days when I don't do weights. I have done half marathons in the past but 30 minutes HIIT sprints can be enough to sap all my energy, to the point where I do 25 minutes on days when I want to socialize a little bit. : ) Big shock therapy for the heart.
 
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