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In today’s fitness culture, long slow distance, or LSD training has been demonized as a counterproductive form of cardiovascular training. Gym bros and pseudoscientists all over go on about how low-intensity cardio decreases testosterone and shapes a “skinny fat” body type, among other claims. Admittedly, these things may happen with piss poor programming and overly specialized training, but barring that LSD should always be included with higher-intensity work in order to round out a solid training program.

High intensity interval training, or HIIT is time efficient, strengthens muscles, and results in similar cardiorespiratory changes when compared to traditional cardiovascular training methods. The benefits of HIIT are irrefutable, but HIIT on its own would not make for an effective, or even healthy endurance training program. Long slow distance is a type of training modality in which an individual engages in low-intensity, oftentimes cyclic (e.g. running, swimming, biking) movement over a long period of time. Specifically for endurance training, LSD training should round out an athlete’s training program in order to expedite recovery and improve technique. And even for the average Joe or Jane looking to lose weight, gain muscle, and feel better, LSD training should be used in conjunction with HIIT for the following reasons:

1. While time-efficient and effective, HIIT must not be done too frequently. When performed properly, HIIT taxes the nervous system heavily and is treated by the body as an incredibly demanding stressor. Over time, habitual and improperly planned utilization of HIIT might result in injury, illness, or both. LSD training is a safe and low-stress way to improve cardiorespiratory function.

2. On a similar note, LSD training specifically increases aerobic fitness – the capacity to do low-level work. Increased aerobic capacity is associated with two hugely beneficial training adaptations. Firstly, aerobic capacity has been shown in multiple studies to be linked with lower injury rates (as a side note, while distance running is a sport with disproportionately large injury rates, I am of the opinion that this is absolutely due to poor running technique and shitty programming, so no it is not aerobic training that is hurting you, just train better). Secondly, it has been shown to improve recovery between workouts as well as between bouts of high intensity work. For example, it may help a boxer feel fresher between rounds, or a bodybuilder lift heavier weights between sets.

3. The act of performing low-intensity work over a sustained period of time increases the space within the heart by stretching the walls. In scientific terms, this is known as eccentric cardiac hypertrophy. This adaptation can only be gained through LSD training. Who would’ve thought that LSD might mitigate heart attacks and strokes?

4. LSD should be performed below the first ventilatory threshold which has big implications for its adherence and enjoyability (made up word, lol). In layman’s terms, it should be done at a talking pace, which is a very comfortable intensity. What LSD lacks in terms of time-efficiency, it makes up for in pleasantness of experience. LSD training is a great opportunity to go outside with a running partner to shoot the shit for an hour, or to completely zone out and treat as a moving meditation.

5. LSD can oftentimes be used as a form of active recovery. Sustained low-intensity movement stimulates blood flow to areas in need of repair, as well as lymphatic drainage of metabolic waste products.

If you’d like to know more about, and start taking responsibility for your own health, fitness, and wellness, please reach out to Crux Fitness Richmond or Surrey for any of your personal training needs.

Pat Koo – Personal Trainer at Crux Fitness Richmond

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