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Cardiac Output: Building a Base to Achieve Beast Mode

High Intensity or Low Intensity?

Short bursts of intense training or slow, continuous heart rate based training?

Over the past 5-10 years, the effectiveness of cardiovascular methods has been debated about and has been a hot topic in the training world. Steady state aerobic work has been getting beat up and has been deemed ineffective for burning fat, so everyone and their Mom decided that high intensity, short burst training is the way to go. After all, you can burn 9X the amount of fat using the Tabata method? Right?

It’s true, studies have shown that high intensity activities and short burst training have been effective at burning fat and increasing the overall demand of your workout. Years ago, after reading some articles and referring back to some research, I decided that the only conditioning method needed was this high intensity method. Why would anyone choose to do the traditional “steady state” aerobic work anymore? It takes more time to complete “steady state” aerobic work. It’s been proven to burn less fat. There have been pictures posted of skinny ass marathon runners next to Olympic sprinters saying, “What body do you want?”

Today, I’m here to argue that building an aerobic base is good for anyone. Sprinters, soccer players, powerlifters, football players, and any other athlete can benefit from “steady state” aerobic training. We like to refer to this type of training as “Slowbo.”

Slow. Boring. Cardio.

Slowbo training, along with building a better base of movement, is typically where I want to start with an athlete or client. If I’m going to invest my time and effort into a client or athlete, I want them to have an AMAZING base to work from. A poor foundation is going to lead to decreased performance and higher injury rates. However, if you take the time on the front end to enhance the foundation, you’re going to build athletes that can outlast their competition, perform at high levels from start to finish, and also have the ability to recover faster from each bout of exercise (training or competition). You can’t build a mansion on a shitty foundation. If you’re going to invest your time, money, and energy into something, you better make sure the foundation is sturdy enough to build upon.

Here is a list of some of the benefits you can expect from some good Slowbo training:

Eccentric Cardiac Hypertrophy – This is where the left ventricle of the heart actually becomes more elastic and has the ability to fill up with more blood. Eccentric cardiac hypertrophy is going to increase your stroke volume by allowing the chamber to fill up with more blood, allowing more blood to be pumped to the working muscles with each beat. As the eccentric cardiac hypertrophy begins to happen, you’ll notice a dramatic drop in resting heart rate, as well as recovery time between bouts of higher intensity. This is the foundation that will allow for better strength session, quicker recovery between sets, quicker recovery between training sessions, and will give you the energy you need to outlast your opponent.

Improved Stroke Volume – By allowing the left ventricle to fill with more blood between each heart beat, you’re working on improving the volume of blood that will be distributed with each pump. If your stroke volume is low, you’re going to have a tough time getting oxygen to your working muscles. Improve your stroke volume, and you’ll perform better, guaranteed!

Lower Resting HR – If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to see where your conditioning levels are, check your resting heart rate in the morning. If you’re above 60 bpm, cardiac output work is going to be beneficial for you…no matter what sport you’re in to. Also, checking your resting HR is a decent way to see how well your body is adapting to the training you’re doing. If you’re consistently seeing increases in your morning resting HR, back down on your training and do a de-load week. Chances are, your body is trying to tell you something. Your recovery isn’t where it needs to be, so the heart is working harder at rest. Back off a little and watch that number fall back down.

Faster Recovery from Training Sessions or Competition – If you’re a strength or power athlete and you think you need very little cardiovascular development, think again. If you’re wanting to be competitive in O Lifting, Powerlifting, the 100-m dash, or any other event relying purely on a different energy system, you still need to recover between lifts, sprints, jumps, etc…If your struggling to recover to the fullest, your next attempt may not be as good as it could be. This is the immediate impact of how cardiac output can help DURING the session or event. It also helps BETWEEN training sessions by allowing the body to recover and adapt to the training you’re doing. In order to get good results, you’re going to need to have great recovery.

Just because you’re training a speed and power athlete doesn’t mean you have to neglect the aerobic system. After reading the list of benefits above, you should be able to see how a powerlifter can benefit from building an aerobic base and making time for a little Slowbo training.

Sure, powerlifting isn’t an aerobic sport. However, powerlifting does require a high volume of training to make continuous improvements. Nobody gets really strong by sitting on his or her ass. Improving recovery and allowing the athlete to be prepared for the next hard strength session will enhance results. You’ll then be able to stack more intensity into your training without overdoing it. You’ll be able to lift heavy, more regularly. If you’re serious about getting stronger, build an aerobic base first, and then stack on volume and intensity. It may take a little longer on the front end; however, you’ll be rewarded for the time invested later in your program.

Adding Additional Revenue Streams to Your Fitness Business

If you’re in the business of training, you probably know that there are going to be ebbs and flows when it comes to revenue generated. You’re going to have some clients that will vacation for the winter. Some people reduce the amount their training in the summer since they’ll be outside doing the activities they actually train for all winter long. If you coach youth athletes, they’re going to have a sport season that chews up a majority of their time and typically this means less time with you. Since the clientele is going to always have some turnover, you better make sure you have income coming in from more than just one place. Adding additional revenue streams shouldn’t be viewed as a luxury to add more money; it should be viewed as a necessity of doing business.


Historically, we’ve always had pretty good retention. You can’t build a gym that does well over a half million a year in sales without keeping a heavy chunk of your clients. Also, you usually can’t make that type of cash with training alone. Having multiple revenue streams has been a lifesaver for us many times. There have been multiple months that training income wasn’t as high as it should, but the expenses sure as hell don’t budge. Those expenses are going to be there month in, month out whether you like it or not.


So what are you going to do if you lose a few clients?


How are you going to pay your bills if this happens?


If you’re smart and proactive about making sure your business is successful, start thinking of additional ways you can generate some income. Some of these revenue streams will be very miniscule in comparison to your training numbers, but when you start to add each revenue stream together, you’ll see how that can easily be another 5 figures or more added to your bottom line. Even if you’re only making a couple hundred bucks each month from something new you add, over the course of a year, that additional revenue source will be a couple grand in the bank. Add 3-4 easy to implement ideas, and you could easily be looking at giving yourself a $10,000 a year raise. Doesn’t that sound nice?


Here are a few different revenue steams we’ve added over the years. Some of them have done more than others, but it all adds up in the end. Check out the list and start thinking about a few ways to add some additional cash to your bottom line:


Digital or Physical Products

Thinking all the way back to the start of the gym, both Steve and myself always wanted to share our knowledge via a product of some sort. We kicked around the ideas on how to create fat loss products. We threw around golf training and making a DVD to help add distance to your drive. We literally had at least 10-15 ideas being kicked around before we came up w/ Smart Group Training.


During our travels, both Steve and myself kept getting asked the same questions. Over and over…trip after trip…the same questions always popped up.


How do you guys do it?


How in the hell do you FMS everyone in your boot camp program?


On the way back from a Mastermind meeting or educational seminar, I forget which one it was, our product finally came to us. It didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. It all stemmed from getting asked, “How do you do it? How do you incorporate the FMS into your group training?”


We’re both pretty passionate about this topic and apparently…there’s a market looking for this information. We threw away our idea of High Performance Fat Loss (actually had a logo created, Facebook page, and were taking the steps necessary to get it off the ground) and we went all in with Smart Group Training. Needless to say; the rest is history. If you have a good idea and can create a digital or physical product, this could be a good way to add some additional money each month. Don’t be foolish and think it’s a turnkey, done-for-you, easy to implement system. There will be work behind this. There will be some customer service that has to be dealt with. But…the additional revenue stream can help take you and your training business to the next level if you’re ready for it.


More Than One Type of Training Option

            When I first opened my gym, I only had group training as an option. After quitting the box gym I worked at for 4+ years, I started my training business by renting out a dance studio and the local senior center. I had a traveling gym in my Ford Explorer and went from place to place to provide the best possible workout for the people that believed in what I was doing. Group training was the only option.


At this point in my career, I only had one revenue stream. I quickly realized that adding another service or providing the current clients with a little more was not only wanted…it was necessary to keep moving forward. This led me to opening my first training facility. As soon as I had my own place, semi-private personal training became another option. A year or so later, we had youth sports performance. Today, we have group personal training, semi-private training, a ridiculously high priced one-on-one option, and we also have a couple add-on’s to give our clients an option to do both personal training and group training. Having a few different options will help minimize any losses if one program or service has a bad month.


Supplement Sales

            Ever since we’ve opened our doors to the gym, we’ve been selling supplements. This additional revenue stream should be a no-brainer as long as you have a little extra cash flow to supply some inventory to put on the shelves. We’re in the business of delivering results, and supplements can definitely help our clients achieve them. We try to keep a handful of supplements on our shelf in order to make things easy for the client, and to provide them with a quality source to get their supplements.


They come and train with us to get help, so having a few supplements only made sense. We don’t go overboard on supplements, but we do carry fish oil, probiotics, whey protein, meal replacement shakes, post-workout concoctions, and a multi-vitamin. We’re not necessarily trying to get anything else on the shelf, but these few supplements really help us provide our clients with the missing links in their daily nutrition. If we can start filling the missing links in their diets, replace some of the bad for good, and get them more concentrated on what goes in their mouth, they’re going to get better results and you’re going to make a little extra cash each month. Win/win right there!


Specialized Nutrition & Goal Setting Sessions

We’ve had this option at our gym for more than four years now. Nutrition hasn’t been a huge revenue generator; however, it’s pulled in multiple thousands of dollars each and every year. Without this little revenue stream, the business would make a little less each month, and our clients that want and need the extra help may begin to look elsewhere. It’s our mission to create a holistic program that gets results and covers each component of health and wellness.


One thing that most gyms and trainers suck at is goal setting. More than half the trainers I talk to don’t even have their own set of goals written on paper. Don’t try to start this program if you fall in that group. First, start by setting your own goals and realize the power of writing them down and reviewing them daily. After you’ve had some success with this, create a system to deliver results to your clients. Create a goal setting workshop you can take one person, or a group of people through. Start to work with them on gazing into the future to see obstacles they’re going to encounter. Create action plans for when those obstacles actually arise. Finally, package all of this into a powerful session and program you should be charging for.


Our pricing, especially for our group training, just doesn’t allow time to meet individually with people to go over goals and create action plans for success. We can do all the education we want, but some people are going to want the extra attention, and they’re not going to bat an eye at the additional cost. This program is definitely a winner and will only help improve/enhance the results you’re getting with your clients.


So there you have it…four additional revenue streams for your training business. If you’re not doing these, you should be. Don’t try to overextend yourself for a couple hundred bucks, but think about a good system to deliver these programs without making your schedule and staff go crazy. If you can deliver these programs or offerings with ease though, you definitely should. These programs will bump your monthly revenue and enhance your clients’ results. Anything that puts extra money in my pocket while improving the results of my clients is a worth looking into. If you have a revenue stream that pulls in some good money each month while improving the results of your clients, I’d love to hear what you’re doing. Drop a line in the comment section if you have a revenue generator that’s enhancing your clients’ results.