Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

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ittiandro
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Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by ittiandro »

I am 74, in excellent health and I consider myself physically fit for age because I have a healthy life-style, I exercise regularly ( elliptical machine) and I practice a few sports like cross country skiing ,windsurfing, kayaking and bicycling, depending on the season.

Lately, I decided to take up a three months swimming program, to lessen the boredom of the elliptical training at home and I stopped training on the elliptical machine because I am a bit tired after swimming .

I was convinced that I would easily transfer cardio fitness to swimming, while at the same time retaining endurance on the elliptical, when I’d finally go back to it at the end of the swimming program.

What I found was totally unexpected: not only was I out of breath barely after a few 25 mt laps in the pool( !) in spite of all elliptical cross training, but when I hopped back on the elliptical after 3 weeks of swimming, I was completely out of shape to the point that I had to decrease the resistance to a much lower setting ( 4 or 5 instead of the 10-12 I was accustomed to), even though in the meantime swimming fitness has remarkably improved and I can now do 40 lapses instead of the initial 10 or so.

I always thought that cardio-training would enable the system to optimize the oxygen delivery to the muscles and that this would improve the physical performance generally, no matter which type of activity we engage in and which muscles we use. Strangely, it seems , at least from experience, that this is not the case and I am puzzled.

Somebody else said in another Forum that Lance Armstrong’s remarkable stamina and endurance in bicycling would be all but lost if he had to start training in any other sport.. Initially, I scoffed this off as nonsense.
As paradoxical as it may seem, though, maybe there is a grain of truth in this.
Is cardiovascular fitness sport-specific or is it supposed to increase our energy level and our performance in other physical activities, too?

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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by Boss Man »

Hi Ittiandro, good to talk to you.

The answer almost certainly is yes and in relation to the two different things you were doing the elliptical uses the muscles completely differently to swimming. Elliptical load bears on the lower body, but swimming utilises resistance from the water, therefore it requires more strength to be really efficient than any elliptical or any other cardio based gym machine.

It could be equated to the strength thing too. An American Footballer might be built for that sport, but would they have the right mobility to play something like basketball and shotputters wouldn't win the 100m.

Cardio can be sport specific, as Usain Bolt wouldn't win a 10,000m but no 10,000m guy would win the 100m and I base this on a current comparison of such people, not what might be if they tried to adapt their training for each others normal discipline of choice.
ittiandro
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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by ittiandro »

Boss Man wrote:Hi Ittiandro, good to talk to you.

The answer almost certainly is yes and in relation to the two different things you were doing the elliptical uses the muscles completely differently to swimming. Elliptical load bears on the lower body, but swimming utilises resistance from the water, therefore it requires more strength to be really efficient than any elliptical or any other cardio based gym machine.

It could be equated to the strength thing too. An American Footballer might be built for that sport, but would they have the right mobility to play something like basketball and shotputters wouldn't win the 100m.

Cardio can be sport specific, as Usain Bolt wouldn't win a 10,000m but no 10,000m guy would win the 100m and I base this on a current comparison of such people, not what might be if they tried to adapt their training for each others normal discipline of choice.
Thanks for your reply
You seem to share perception that the much vaunted cardio-fitness is muscle- (or sport)-specific after all and that it does not significantly transfer to other physical activities engaging different, untrained muscles. In other words, I may be 100% fit on the elliptical and ride at the maximum resistance level on it, but totally unfit in rowing or swimming.. Wow!

What do doctors and health specialists mean, then, when they promote exercising and cardio-vascular fitness?

Why should we waste time, money and sweat in exercising, if all it does is increasing the size and the performance of certain muscles?

In experience, one of the first indicators of cardiovascular fitness is a decreased heart-beat rate at rest: in case, after a few weeks’ training, it goes down from 75 b.p.m to 60-65 at wake-up: in other words, at rest, it now takes less bpm for the heart to deliver to the entire body the same amount of oxygen which previously took 75-80 bpm. This economy is carried over when exercising, I suppose.

This means that the efficiency of heart in delivering oxygen to the ENTIRE body should also have increased,

So, doesn’t it stand to reason that the entire body and not only certain muscles should benefit from this increased efficiency of the heart, in terms of overall energy and endurance? Yet, why after months and months of training on the elliptical did I find myself as unfit in the swimming-pool as I was on first day on the cross-trainer?

I find experience conflicting with understanding of physiology. Perhaps I make some wrong assumptions. On the other hand it is also possible that without previous training on the elliptical, I would have found first day of swimming much more strenuous, an indication perhaps that entire body and not only leg muscles was already fit from previous elliptical training . Perhaps without it it would have taken three months and not a couple of weeks to increase laps in the swimming pool to 40 from the initial, painful 10 laps.

Any comments?

Thanks

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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by Boss Man »

However it would be not just based on cardiovascular fitness, but the amount of muscle recruitment in the given environment and also the way in which the muscles would need to be oxygenated, in relation to their usage, frequency of usage, speed of operation and what oxygen stores they were using every minute you'd train and also how the blood flow would be affected, based on what position the body was in e.g. vertically on an elliptical versus horizontal in a swimming pool.

Oxygenation of the body can also be affected by things like salt levels causing hypertension if consumed too much and caffeine intake because caffeine constricts blood vessels and blocks iron which is a key component in the making of the erythrocytes, that carry oxygen round the body.

Iron is used to make myoglobin, a substance that helps to store oxygen in the muscles and the ATP, (Adenosine Tri-phosphate), that helps muscles contract has oxygen bonds as well and were the hypothalamus the hormone area of the brain getting sub-optimal levels of oxygen and / or sub-optimal delivery of the oxygen it could affect the production of hormones like adrenaline, testosterone and insulin which can play a part in heart-rate, muscle building and carbohydrate and protein handling.

You could also be affected in cardio vascular fitness based on fat and arterial plaque levels in the arteries, as well as triglycerides in the subcutaneous layer and visceral fat around the organs, as well as water retention in the body and edema in the legs relating to excessive salt intake.

Plus your energy levels could be affected by your phosphate levels in your body and the diet you eat in relation to stored glucose, glycogen in the muscle levels.

So this is not simply a case of anaerobic and aerobic development, it's a bit more complicated then that.

I can't give you specific stats and numbers, as I have not studied this in great detail, but simply developing more efficient stamina levels, doing a certain type of cardio for weeks on end, wouldn't necessarily make you more efficient at any type of exertion for the reasons stated and potentially some reasons I am unaware of or have failed to recall.
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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by ittiandro »

Thanks for your interesting observations.
Definitely our physiology is very complex and it is not always possible to entirely grasp the functioning of our body processes. I’d like to believe though, that all the time and effort I put into keeping fit is not wasted…For one thing, I feel much much better when I exercise and whenever I stop it, I feel it.
Perhaps our mind also shapes our feelings, though. Indeed, the placebo effect is very well known.

There are ,however, physically measurable effects, which are undeniable : once more, pulse rate this morning was down to 65 bpm, after only three weeks of swimming, whereas, by the way, on the elliptical, it takes 2 months to get pulse down to that level from usual 75 bpm, whenever I start anew after interrupting it. .

Interestingly, cardiovascular improvement has proved to be faster when swimming and I can see endurance going up by the week: on first session, I was barely able to do 10X25mt laps without pausing for 1 min or so at the end of each lap.
Now, only three weeks after, I can do 50-55 laps . I am not saying that I don’t need to catch breath a few seconds after each lap, but the improvement is remarkable, even though it must be limited in the end by age ( 74). In fact, I can’t help noticing that, without being the slowest one in the pool, most of the swimmers overtake me and they are all much much younger .

This brings me to another point: as we know ,aging is inevitably accompanied by a decreased energy level. Normally it is so gradual that, unless we are in poor health, we don’t feel it, but make no mistakes :IT IS THERE!( Just look at the sometimes explosive, seemingly inexhaustible energies of young children!

What is ENERGY, beyond its physiological explanation? Why is it doomed to decrease with age, even if we are still healthy, we give our body all the nutrition it needs and we do our best to keep fit?
Perhaps mine an unanswerable question, because if we knew the answer, perhaps we’d also know why we age and maybe we could slow aging down…No matter, it would be interesting to hear what people think ..

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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

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Energy levels dip, for one, due to the reduced metabolism of the body and due to lifelong use of the internal parts that govern digestion and aid in digestion processing, such as the thyroid, parathyroid, duodenum, liver and pancreas, as examples, causing them to become less efficient over time.

Therefore if the body becomes less capable of processing calories and macro and micro nutrients, beyond the age of 50 and certainly 60, therefore it follows that there are inevitably and as has been proven to be, drops in muscle mass, energy and bone density.

Exercise prior to this period, can build up an advanced level of physical capability and therefore with sustained levels of consistent exertion, decreasing of physical capability can be slowed even perhaps for some of those initial years between 50-65, be counteracted in full.

I believe from memory even a persons VO2 max drops by 1% a year beyond the age of 25, so already the human body declines even at a relatively young age.
ittiandro
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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by ittiandro »

Hi
I am revisiting this thread I started sometime ago, to see if there are other comments.
I have now completely replaced the elliptical machine, which had become a bit boring.., with swimming since February 2016 . With the summer, I have also resumed bicycling and windsurfing. In addition, I recently started again training on a stair-case at a local park. The staircase, which many other people use for training, allows to get to the top of the mountain in a few minutes, instead of walking about half an hour on an easy, winding road, but it is very steep. I hadn’t done it in years and, at 74, I found it a bit hard on the legs , therefore on heart , IN SPITE OF ALL THE CARDIO- VASCULAR efficiency I thought I had ..
Right now, at the end of the climb, H.R. is about 145 bpm, which, according to age-programmed cardio-watch ( I am 74) is 96% of physiological ceiling of 146 bpm.
I think real biological age is still a few years below chronological age, though, because at 140-145 bpm for a few minutes I don't feel heart overly strained, beyond a healthy revving up and I am not exhausted. In fact, H.R. goes down to normal almost immediately.
I was wondering if the mere fact of strengthening legs by training regularly on the stair-case would improve cardio-efficiency and decrease H.R.

Thank you

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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by Boss Man »

GOOD JOB

More strength in the lags, might have something to do with cardiovascular efficiency, if your muscles gained more oxygen storage potential, but as myoglobin levels are linked to iron intake and associated things that affect it like caffeine and copper intake for example, then it would probably be more dietary than anything else, but certainly if you have strengthened the heart, then that could have positive benefits on cardiovascular ability for sure.
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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by toddhicks209 »

It's good to do cardiovascular exercise in general but if you must run races or swim, it would be best to do a lot of that to be specifically fitter for your designated sport.
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Re: Is cardio training general or sport-specific?

Post by fat-to-fit »

i just wanted to add. Lance Armstrong after retiring did run the new york city marathon in 2:46. and some other races too. Some athletes might be able to cross over. Bo jackson played both baseball and football. probably others too. :P
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