Who Enjoys a Cardio Buzz?
n= 2, 3, 4 and 5
Once I found that Cardio High worked for me, I needed to find some guinea pigs to see if other people found value in this new low impact form of HIIT.
I recruited two friends who are athletes in their 40s and 50s and two people who did not play much sports. The challenges training these groups were a bit different.
The two athletes included a top college squash player who is still winning national doubles squash championships. She was coming off a knee surgery, so she needed to limit certain types of movements. The other athlete was a college tennis player who continued to play tennis and squash and also continued to ski at a high level.
We used sliders, light weights, a chair and a staircase as our primary pieces of gear. In the beginning I had difficulty creating programs that challenged them to a point where they were at a heart rate equal to playing squash. But we soon discovered sequences of movements that would raise their heart rates to a high level for brief periods of time.
Working with n= 4 and 5, the non-athletes, I learned program design and the importance of elements that I did not previously consider. Music and enjoyment were critical to designing workouts that made these clients feel good. And while I turned to the upbeat EDM classics of the 1990s like FatBoy Slim, these clients provided valuable feedback along the lines of “wtf is this crap you’re playing…?”
Together we built playlists by selecting pop music that the three of us could tolerate including artists such as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna and others. Finding joy in exercise was key to these clients. I had to make sure to vary the exercises and intervals to keep boredom away.
I also never wanted to design a program that continually asked clients “just give me two more…” We based everything on timed intervals using varied lengths of time on/time off. For these clients I used light weights, tubing, mini bands, sliders, stability balls and medicine balls.
With a universe of 5 clients (including me) I sought to find a location where I could incorporate cardio gear to make hitting high heart rate zones a little easier.
Dr. S responds:
Music makes perfect sense as an external natural source of euphoria and motivation. Pairing it with exercise is an excellent way to maintain and improve motivation, exertion and cardiovascular health. And I love Fat Boy Slim. But a little Buffy is the best for tabatas:
“Because motivation and reward are both associated with the activity of this tract, melodic music might represent an extrinsic source of motivation  that could improve physical performance by increasing DA activity.”
Neuroscience Letters 673 (2018) 73–78