How to build up your cardio again


Well it’s been 6-weeks since we were allowed to open again and it’s been amazing to see so many of you back. The PT’s have been hard at work with helping everyone getting back to fitness and giving out a lot of advice. One of the common questions the team always gets asked is “how can I build up my cardio again” so we have decided to put a blog post out to help you all.

It’s obviously very frustrating when you make a lot of progress in an area of fitness such as cardio and then a 4 and a half month lockdown hits and it’s hard to keep motivated as much as you wanted to. We would all like to think we can just pick up from where we left off but unfortunately that isn’t the case. During a period of training cessation (a break from training) aerobic fitness qualities will decline to pre-training levels after 30 days. Luckily, with some smart training, you can get back to your desired fitness levels.

So without further ado, let’s get into our top tips on how to build up your cardio again.


  • Start from where you are at


Yes, it’s a bit of a kick when you used to run a 5k in 28 minutes and now it takes 32 or you used to be able to row 500m in your H.I.I.T circuit and now it’s only 300m. Starting from the place you are at will allow you to progress and stay injury free. Trying to do your cardio at your pre-lockdown levels when you haven’t done any structured training is a recipe for disaster. The relative intensity is too high and the volume is too much to start off with and this is when that old knee niggle comes back or that dodgy hip resurfaces. Start off with testing how far you can run is your desired time or how fast you can run your desired distance. Remember, what gets measured gets improved so you need to know your starting point.


  • Adapt and then Increase


Now you know where your starting point is, you can adapt and increase. We will use an example of starting off at running 3k and wanting to run 10k again but the principle remains the same for any cardio exercise you are doing. You are going to run the same distance for two weeks and then increase the distance by 1k. It takes time for your body to adapt to any exercise and it can take a bit longer to adapt to cardiovascular exercise. Once you have adapted to the distance you are running and it is comfortable to do so, you can increase the distance. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make any exercise any easier, you are definitely getting fitter though! We also recommend not to do the same distance for every session do one long session, one medium session and one short session. Once you get to running further distances, running 3 8k’s per week can really take its toll.

For example, a cardio routine may look like this:

Running 3 times a week starting at 5k and ending to a 10k.

Week 1 & 2: Session 1, 5k. Session 2, 3k. Session 3, 3x1k with 40s rest between.

Week 3 & 4: Session 1, 6k. Session 2, 4k. Session 3 3x1k with 30s rest.

Week 5 & 6: Session 1, 7k. Session 2, 5k, Session 3 4x1k with 30s rest.

Week 7: Deload (you have built up a lot of volume so take a week off) 1 session of 5k.

Week 8 & 9: Session 1 8k. Session 2 5.5k, Session 3 4x1k with 30s rest.

Week 10 & 11: Session 1 9k. Session 2 6k. Session 3 4x1k with 30s rest.

Week 12: (only 2 sessions this week) Session 1: 10k. Session 2 5k.


  • Recovery and Nutrition


Recovery is key. Running (or cardio generally) can really get you really sore and cause some muscular and joint issues. Recovery strategies such as hot and cold baths, creating a proper sleep routine and massage techniques. Sleep is going to be somewhat of a saviour for you. Most of your physiological adaptions to training happen when you sleep and you sleep well so make it a priority. Set a bedtime and a wakeup time, make sure you sleep in a dark quiet room and no phones before bed. Increase your protein intake to 1.2-1.5g per kilogram of bodyweight.


  • Strength train in between


Having 1-2 strength sessions in between your running is going to help you run more efficiently. Focus on whole-body strength sessions with the compound movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press etc.). Do one session which is based on bilateral movements (e.g. barbell bench press) and one session based on unilateral movements (e.g. single leg deadlifts and single-arm rows.) You can work on a rep range from 6-12 reps for 3-5 sets. Work on your core too after each session.

Hopefully this blog post has given you a good framework to get back to your cardio training. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask one of our PT’s or click here: to enquire about our personal training services.