The Birth of Multi-Method Cardio (the aerobic alternative)

Quick Tips

Cardiovascular training is important for genuine health and athletic endeavors.

Cardiovascular training, mainly aerobic, is a topic that hasn’t gotten it’s due respect in the last few years, especially with the rise of work capacity style workouts.  Most of these work capacity style training sessions are resistance based, using training tools like dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells.

Multi-method cardiovascular training was born out of necessity for me.  Maybe someone else was utilizing a tactic similar to this before me, and if so, give credit to that person.  I am sure I didn’t invent it.  However, I will certainly take credit for perfecting it:)

The background behind it…

For 3 years I trained in a studio apartment with limited equipment.  At first, I thought it was just going to be a temporary situation, but it soon evolved into a challenge of sorts.

Could I maintain my current fitness levels using nothing but a jump rope, 4 kettlebells, a suspension trainer, an Schwinn Airdyne and some resistance bands?

That was the question.

It wasn’t difficult to set up my program at first.  I had plenty of room for improving using my kettlebells and progressional exercises on the suspension trainer.  However, as the weeks and months passed by, I began to adapt to my training regimen.

Adaptation is inevitable.  I love the concept of adaptation.  You know why?  It means you stuck to the program long enough to reach the point where your body became strong enough, powerful enough, stabile or mobile enough to render your program… easy.  You essentially have become really efficient at the performing the physical tasks in your daily program.

***Just don’t continue performing those same training sessions for too long or you’ll be sorely disappointed by the results.

Sorry I sidetracked for second there…

So multi-method cardio was born out of necessity.  In between my higher intensity work capacity days, I needed a day where I could engage in some form of aerobic-style activity.  Easy right?  I could have just hopped on the Airdyne and pedaled mindlessly for 30-40 minutes.

The problem is that I don’t have the attention span for that.  I get bored, just like many of you probably do.  The Airdyne solution would have worked just fine, but it is boring as shit!

So, I decided to choose lower impact training methods sectioned off in designated time increments to accumulate that 30 minutes of aerobic activity.

I primarily used my jump rope, a 53lb (24kg) kettlebell and the Schwinn Airydyne.  I also had my Polar HeartRate Monitor on at all times.

I would use each training tool for 10 minutes, grab a swig of water, then move on to the next immediately.  Ironically, I never experienced that same level of insane boredom that I did when only using one method.

I love that.  Training effect without insufferable boredom.

I am effectively accomplishing the same thing I set out to do had I only rode the bike for 30-40, but now I am developing skills using other tools.

Staying in the 10 minute range duration-wise also helped me avoid over-use injuries.  I am convinced of this.  I love jumping rope and swinging kettlebells, but you cannot do it every single day.  You’ll eventually develop chronic over-use type symptoms or worse yet, injury.  Your body needs a break at some point.  (If you’re a person who is back in the fitness saddle for the 2013 and experiencing hip pain or back pain from all of the working out you’ve done, it is for a reason my friends!)

One important point of MMC (multi-method cardio) is anyone can do this at home, which is the other part that I thought kicked ass.  I listen to MY music in MY own environment.  I could watch my television while I jumped rope and rode bike without giving any thought to what channel or movie was showing.  Completely personalized.  Fantastic.

Here is exactly what one of my multi-method cardio session…

Sample Multi-Method Cardio:

Jump rope-  10 minutes

Kettlebell Swing-  10 minutes

Bike-  10 minutes

Depending on your training level, you can adjust the session a bit:

  • Beginner:  6 minutes each
  • Intermediate:  8 minutes each
  • Advanced 10 minutes or longer each

My heart rate for a MMC workout usually hovered around 145-155bpm, occasionally rising higher than 155bpm but never lower than 145bpm.  This type of training is intended to be an aerobic segue between more intense training sessions.  It worked great.  Soreness from my higher intensity training sessions dissipated quickly with the increase in blood flow

Simple?  Absolutely.  Why complicate fitness?  That only leads to confusion and lack of action in my experience.

Always remember that you have to be able to justify your training habits.  I can easily justify this type of aerobic conditioning, and I think that many of you can also in 2013 and beyond.

At the end of the day, give it a try.  Self-experiment and find your groove…



(Part II coming soon…)

My Effort to Improve Your Cardio Workout

30 Minute Workouts

I hate cardio.

Actually I take that statement back.  What I hate is being stuck in one spot for a long duration of time.  Some of it could be the fact that I know that I can get a superior training effect from a shorter training session ramped up to a higher intensity, ahemmm, anaerobic intervals anyone?  Heard of them?

Anyways, in the winter, it is almost impossible to escape the treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes.  When you live in the Midwest, Mother Nature doesn’t care that you want to run outside.  Once snow hits the ground and the temperature falls below freezing, things become depressing with regard to exercise options.

We can change that.

Simple tweaks right?

So if you are chasing the cardiovascular effect and the calorie burn with your run or bike session, which most of you are, then lets take another look at how we can tweak a workout to elicit that same aerobic effect without the monotony of pounding the pavement and dreaming about everything else but your run.

I use adaptive workouts like the example below all of the time in between my “go hard” days.  They bring a refreshing variety of movement and serve as a simple sweat session that will get my heart rate around the 150bpm-160bpm mark.  This is my personal mark for aerobic conditioning improvement/maintenance.  (I highly encourage all of you to purchase a heart rate monitor so that you can track your progress).

I also love these sessions for recovery coming off of a resistance training session where rest periods are short and the intensity is relatively high.  I like to think of it as a recovery or flush workout, even though I am still receiving tremendous aerobic benefit.  This is great for all of you calorie counters out there.  You can burn a few without getting bored with your current routine… because you know you are!

Here is the structure of the workout:

  • Foam roll, mobility, activation, corrective exercise + dynamic movement preparation


1)  10 minutes –  Jump Rope

2)  10 minutes – Stationary Bike (Schwinn Airdyne)

3)  10 minutes-  Squat + Push Up + Jumping Jacks + Reverse Lunge (continuous)


In 30 minutes I just trained a whole bag of movements/skills.  If you have never jumped rope before, or just haven’t since you were a kid, I encourage you to purchase a jump rope.  As a warm-up tool, it is priceless.  As a conditioning tool, you have to work a little bit harder but it can be made to fit that purpose also.  Turn the rope harder with each workout, go for a longer duration and eventually work yourself into doubles…


I have a whole notebook full of variations of a workout like this.  The next time you think about going for that long… slow… boring… run…  think again.  Change things up a bit and try this out.  Use your heart rate monitor to gauge your effort and keep it aerobic. Besides, effective cross training will help prevent overuse injuries and you’ll still get the training effect you are looking for.

Sound good?

Take it and run with it.  Your body won’t change without putting forth the work.