Best Cardio for Natural + Zone 2

2 questions coach if you have time…I do your EOD Lift Specific Template. I walk every day but want to do 1 day per week of the 30 sec all out with 3 min recovery from your article best cardio for natural (similar to sprint 8)

I know you mostly advise on that template to do cardio after a workout and not on an off day.

My schedule
Bench + assistance
Squat + assistance
Press + assistance
Deadlift + assistance

  1. If you HAD to pick 1 day on an off day to do your 30 sec all out with 3 min recovery for 5 to 8 rounds, where would you put it?

  2. Not as worried about this question being answered as the 1st but if I am walking ever day and doing 1 day of 30 sec hard all out sprints. Is there any benefit to doing the middle ground zone 2 cardio?

Thanks for your time

I hate that question.

The less bad place to put it would likely be between the deadlift and bench day,

Absolutely. Walking won’t really increase cardiovascular capacity unless you are extremely out of shape and sedentary. And sprints will not build a good aerobic foundation. If you want to improve cardiovascular function you will need that middle zone work.

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Would the middle ground ype be the conditioning after the lifting session that you talk about in some articles? 10 or so minutes of somewhat hard conditioning (heavy bag, battle ropes, jump rope, resistance bike)?

Would you recommend doing the 30 sec sprints after a lift session? I just feel i would be able to put more into it on an off day

Of course you would have a better performance if you do it on an off day. BUT it might lead to a central fatigue that will have a negative impact on the next strength workout.

Honestly, it’s really a matter of trying out both to see which works best for you. If doing it on an off day leads to a worse performance on the next day lifting session compared to if you do that session after a true off day, then it’s not worth it (provided that strength and size is your priority).

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No, that would be an alternative for the sprints.

Middle zone is 30-45 minutes at 130-140 beats per minute.

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Note that I personally did energy systems work as often as 5 days/week (so on some off days and on some lifting days as a 2nd workout). But that’s when fat loss was my absolute priority and I only cared about maintaining my muscle mass.

So it really depends on what your goal is.

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From What I am understanding from you is that the walking and the 30 min of 130 140 beats can be done anytime but the hard conditioning and sprints should be done after a workout to prevent further CNS stress?

And Thank you as always for your help


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How much would you say the beats per minute varies individually? When I was a runner, those beats per minute had me going at a pretty good clip, and it was pretty tiring.

130-140 bpm is a reasonable rule of thumb but will vary considerably on the age and condition of the athlete. Key inputs are max heart rate, resting heart rate and what aerobic range you are trying to train.

  1. Max heart rate is often expressed as something like 220 minus your age (there are variations on this formula), so the range could be 40bpm for a 60 year old versus 20 years of age. Or you bust a gut in a time trial and take your own actual max.
  2. Resting rate is an indication of good genetics and/or aerobic fitness.
    If you look at the above parameters someone with a max heart rate of say 195 and resting of 45 will be much more comfortable at 140 bpm than someone with a max of 160 and resting of say 65.
    There is something called the karvonnen formula that calulates percentages for target heart rates using max and resting figures.
  3. What you are training for. A marathon runner might train aerobic base as some call it by running at 60-65 HR max for long runs. An 800m runner would train aerobic VO2 at say 90%. Or somewhere in the middle if you are just working on general fitness.

Nevertheless 130-140 as proposed by CT is a very accepted range for steady state cardio, somewhere in the 70ish% area, not a slow jog but not a hard set of intervals.
If you want to vary this there are numerous running/cycling articles that cover the above in great detail. I suspect that is going to be overthinking.

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Very good contribution by doddfrank.

Really, I’m only using heart rate to at least give you an idea of how hard to push it.

That’s the limitation that we have when it comes to the effort level variable in training. Same thing with resistance training. No tool is perfect. For example, with lifting, using percentages can be limiting as strength can fluctuate daily depending on rest, nutrition, stress and neurological factors. The RPE system is more adjustable to your daily capacity, but it relies on your perception of your effort and not everyone is good in that regard. The reps in reserve approach also has its limit because it’s hard to predict with precision how many reps you have left in a set simply based on how you feel during that set, especially when you want to leave 3-4 reps in reserve.

I could have used a qualitative recommendation like “at a level of effort where you can answer to someone in a few words but not have a conversation”. But for the majority of the population 130-140 BPM will work fine.

Of course, in the case of an elite endurance athlete who has a resting heart rate of 40 beats per minute of for an obese person whose resting heart rate is around 110, then it might not be an adequate way to program intensity of work.


I was going to ask how to estimate around 130 beats per min without a heart rate moniter. This is a good explanation

Most people have a watch, just buy one that does HR, step counts, calories etc. Obvious really.

None of them are totally precise, relative close values are all you need. if you run 3 miles in 30 mins and the watch thinks your average hr is 130bpm, then 4 weeks later you cover the distance in 29 mins at HR 135 you are fitter. Its all you need to know.