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Cardio for Gym Bros: Embracing the Necessary Evil

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Alright fellas, we're about to dive into some uncharted territory – cardio. Yes, we know it's the realm of treadmills and that thing called "running," but hey, hear us out. We're gym bros, and our weights are our true love, but cardio? It's like that annoying cousin you can't avoid at family gatherings. However, the role of cardio in maintaining our overall health and wellbeing is undeniable. In this blog, we're gonna unravel the mystery of different cardio zones – from Zone 1 to Zone 5 – and understand how they can level up our fitness game without sacrificing our hard-earned gains.

Zone 1 - Active Recovery:

Think of this as the warm-up for your active recovery days. Zone 1 cardio is like a leisurely stroll in the park – it keeps your heart rate low, helping to flush out lactic acid and promote recovery. It's your ticket to keeping the blood flowing and preventing that dreaded muscle soreness. Zone 1 cardio is also great for joint health. It's recommended to get about 150 minutes of zone 1 cardio per week. This may sound like a lot but that's literally 20 minutes of lite walking per day. If you're alive and do any thing at all during your day, you most likely hit this quota.


  • Enhances recovery: Keeping your muscles in prime condition.

  • Low impact: Gentle on the joints, so you're ready to conquer your next heavy session.

Zone 2 - Endurance Zone:

Now, we're talking business. Zone 2 cardio pushes you just enough to challenge your endurance. This is the pace where conversations are still possible but slightly strained. It's your go-to for building that aerobic base, essential for prolonged gym sessions without gasping for air. Bouts of zone 2 cardio have also been seen to be more effective at utilizing fat as a primary energy source than other zones. This makes it a great option for those looking to lean out and she some fat. Andrew Huberman, a renowned neuroscientist, recommends getting 180-200 minutes of zone 2 cardio per week. This can either be 1, 3 hour long jog or hike done once a week, or spread out throughout 7 days of the week.


  • Cardiovascular endurance: Boosting your heart's efficiency.

  • Stamina for days: Saying goodbye to that "out of breath" feeling.

  • Increased mitochondrial density.

  • More efficient fat burning.

Zone 3 - Tempo Zone:

This is the "comfortably hard" zone, and it's where you'll learn to maintain a steady pace even when things get real. Zone 3 cardio helps improve your lactate threshold – that point where your muscles start screaming. It's your secret weapon against fatigue during intense lifting sessions.


  • Lactate tolerance: Delaying that muscle burn and fatigue.

  • Mental toughness: Preparing you for the grind of high-intensity training.

Zone 4 - Threshold Zone:

Say hello to discomfort! Zone 4 cardio is a step away from the abyss of pure pain. It's fast, challenging, and increases your VO2 max – a fancy term for your body's maximum oxygen consumption. This zone helps you tap into your inner beast, enhancing both endurance and recovery between intense sets.


  • VO2 max boost: Increasing your oxygen-processing capacity.

  • Performance gains: Elevating your overall fitness and gym performance.

Zone 5 - Maximum Effort Zone:

Ready to unleash hell? Zone 5 cardio is the final frontier. It's an all-out sprint that leaves you gasping for air and your heart pounding like crazy. This zone enhances anaerobic capacity, meaning you'll become a beast at those short, explosive bursts of effort in the gym. Several health experts recommend getting about 5-10 minutes of zone 5 cardio per week. This can be broken up into individual one minute long sessions or one session of intervals like HIIT. The primary goal here is to have your heart rate at 90%-100% of your HRM for 5-10 minutes per week.


  • Anaerobic power: Dominating those explosive lifts.

  • Caloric burn: Torching calories like a furnace.

  • Increased testosterone production.

  • Increased HGH production.

Alright, now that we've navigated the cardio maze from Zone 1 to Zone 5, It's time to put our newfound knowledge into practice. Whether you're aiming for active recovery, endurance gains, or peak performance, understanding the different cardio zones arms you with the tools to level up your fitness game. Sticking to a mix of zone 1, zone 2 and zone 5 and working your way up to the amounts recommended above is a sure fire way to optimize cardiovascular, metabolic, hormone and even muscular health. So, dust off those running shoes – they might just become your new secret weapon in the quest for ultimate gains.

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