How to Improve your Cardio: 7 Things You Didn’t Know (Part 1- Rest)

When the endurance coach for more than a handful of elite athletes comes to town- you go and listen. Chris Hinshaw, endurance coach to the fittest man and woman on earth, founder of the Aerobic Capacity program,  and second place finisher at Ironman Hawaii in 1985 came to Charleston in August to drop endless knowledge bombs.

Coach Hinshaw’s methodologies directly translate to endurance training (running, cycling, swimming, tri, rowing etc.) but they’re also great for high intensity short duration work like our Bootcamp or CrossFit workouts.  Both types of athletes will find value in this series.

This is the first part of a 7 part series on how to improve your cardio taken from Coach Hinshaw’s course.



Part One:  Be Deliberate with your Rest


Three Things to Consider


When writing workouts for yourself or others there are 3 things you should consider.  Each of these components is a key piece of the training puzzle. Unfortunately, one piece tends to get overlooked often.

The first component is your ‘training volume’ or distance.  If you’re an endurance athlete this is simple, it’s just how far you plan on running/rowing/cycling/swimming that day.  For CrossFit athletes this is the number of reps you’ll be completing in your workout.  

There are many factors that determine how much training volume you need.  These include things like experience level, stress levels, recovery protocols, and the distance or duration of the event for which you’re training.

Second is your ‘training intensity’ or speed. For endurance athletes training intensity is your pace.  How fast are you planning on going that day?  

In CrossFit Intensity is defined as power output, the formula for which is [Force X Distance]/Time.  In other words, what are you moving, how far are you moving it, and how long did it take you?

Obviously volume and intensity need to align.  If you need to run 10 miles you probably shouldn’t come out of the gate at your fastest pace for 1 mile.

The third piece, REST, is the golden goose.  Seriously, this is where all the magic happens and yet it’s the last thing we tend to think about when training.  



Why Rest Matters for Cardio


The rest interval is where your body learns to better process lactate (we’ll talk more about lactate in our next post) as well as teaching tissues to better flush fluids and process oxygen.  

Rest is also the variable that most directly impacts what fuel source we want our body to use; We’re either using stored energy in our muscles or we’re teaching our body to turn oxygen into energy via the Krebs Cycle.  

There are a few variables we need to think about with rest. 



Passive or Active?

First, are you going to be resting passively or actively? Passive rest means standing or sitting around waiting for your next work interval to begin.  Active rest means moving in some capacity or another while you wait.  

Active rest can be done using any movement: walking, slow air squats, holding a plank, or even slowly moving a piece of PVC from shoulder to overhead.



How Long Should you Rest?

Whether passive or active, how long you rest determines the intensity at which you can attack your next work interval.  

For example, if you’re running a series of all out 100M sprints to work on your speed, you’ll need to rest a MINIMUM of 3 minutes between efforts, but realistically it will need to be closer to 5 minutes for many.  If you were to start your second interval after only 2 minutes your body would not be fully recovered and therefore your speed would not be at its peak.  

If your goal is to improve top end speed you need to run as fast as you can, not as fast as you can while you’re winded.  However, if your goal is to teach your body how to process muscular waste products after sprinting, then 2 minutes of rest is probably too much.



Be Deliberate with your Rest

When writing workouts you need to identify the key areas you’re trying to improve and why you’re trying to improve them.  Then you can use your rest interval to work on very specific holes in your fitness and improve them over time.  



**Part 2 will be released tomorrow and focuses on understanding lactate and your body’s ability to process it.  Understanding Lactate is arguably the MOST important of the 7 things you need to know about cardio, so don’t miss it!  Sign up for our email list below so you catch the next one in your inbox.


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