Endurance is patience concentrated.
Thomas Carlyle

How do you improve cardio?

In Training for Endurance: A Guide for Triathletes, Runners, & Cyclists , Dr. Philip Maffetone boils his 20 years of experience helping athletes develop their endurance as a sport scientist and trainer down to a simple recipe.

You have Fast Twitch Fibers and Slow Twitch Muscle fibers. The Slow Twitch fibers get their energy from the aerobic energy system (which burns fat) and the Fast Twitch get their energy from the anerobic system (which burns glucose).

You want to train both systems, because almost every activity will cycle back and forth between them.

In any intense activity, such as fighting or sprinting, you will use the Fast Twitch in your first burst and then you will need the aerobic capacity to have sustained energy beyond a minute.

We all know what Bruce Lee was talking about. The first time I really went all out on Thai Kickboxing drills, I was completely shot in a few minutes, my heart racing, my arms and legs like lead.

This is not how I want to be in a fight that lasts more than a few seconds.

If you train aerobically, you will increase your body's ability to burn fat, to get oxygen into the muscles, and you will generally improve your body's biochemistry. Training anerobically, while necessary, is also somewhat destructive, releasing free radicals and other damaging chemicals into your bloodstream. You want to keep it to a minimum and generally train in the aerobic range.

Again we see the wisdom of the Chinese martial arts. To be fast, train slow. To be strong, train weak.

To develop your aerobic system, you must train in a specific heart range based on the number 180. Subtract your age from the number 180. I'll be 50 next month, so my number is 130 – this is my maximum heart rate. I want to train in a range between 120 and 130.

According to Dr. Maffetone, I can add 5 to my max because I have been training over two years with no health issues. If you have had any health issues, you should subtract 10.

You'll need a heart monitor. I got one for $ 50 – it consist of a watch and a strap / monitor which wraps around the chest.

The training at first will seem ridiculously slow.

Dr. Maffetone said this was the most difficult part of the program for most athletes – it just seemed too slow. But you will quickly improve and soon be able to train at a decent intensity while staying within your zone.

You should keep records. Find your resting heart rate as a baseline. To get this number, take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply times 4. Do this four times times throughout the day, then average by adding the numbers up and dividing by 4.

Every three weeks, check your progress with a measurable activity. I am walking / running up and down the stairs. My check is how quickly I can run up and walk down this set of stairs while staying in my range.