I get a lot of questions from bowlers about cardiovascular exercise. “How much cardio should I be doing?” or “How much cardio is too much?” are both common variations that are frequently asked. The word “cardio” actually makes me cringe. I believe that the majority of a training program should be based on functional strength training and not cardio. I feel that people place too much emphasis on cardio, whether it is because they feel it will burn the most calories, help them lose weight, or provide them with more endurance.
While it is true that cardio can help with all of those goals, strength training can provide all of those same benefits and, I would argue, it can provide them to a greater degree. Resistance training can burn double the calories of a cardio session, it can increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat, and it can provide more muscular endurance. The more the muscles can endure, the less the heart has to work to pump blood to the muscles. All of these benefits can be achieved without running on a treadmill every day.
I’ve heard that a lot of bowlers say that they should do more cardio because the long formats of some tournaments require that they have endurance throughout the day. Improved endurance for longer competition days can be achieved more effectively through modes of training other than long cardio sessions consisting of running, biking, or using an elliptical. We’ll explore some alternatives below, but first let’s talk some more about why cardio is not the most important type of exercise for bowlers.
The case against traditional cardio for bowlers
When we bowl, we don’t have our heart rate elevated much higher than our “normal” range. Our heart rates are fairly regular, with short bouts of elevation during shots, or just from adrenaline during an exciting match. What we are really ...
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