What is Cardio?

Performance Specialist Jeff Richter, CSCS, USAW talks cardio and optimizing your time for better results.

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There are many people who wouldn’t label themselves “fitness fanatics” and are just looking for the most efficient way to exercise that provides the best results in the least amount of time.  So when it comes to the amount of cardio that is required to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we need to first understand what cardio even means in the first place.  There seems to be a universal idea that “cardio” is a compartment of fitness that includes distance running, jogging, biking, swimming or other related forms of aerobic exercise.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  I would instead encourage everyone to look at cardio as anything that disrupts your internal balance, or homeostasis, due to your heart beating faster to provide more blood to the muscles being worked.  Your body knows that when it receives any form of stress, the heart has to work harder so we can both return to homeostasis and make an adaptation to the challenges presented.  Cardio is therefore a result of exercise, not a category in-and-of itself.    

If you are looking for the most time-efficient form of cardio that will maximize the return on your “effort investment” to keep you healthy, you are in luck because it is possible to accomplish more in less time when it comes to your fitness; however, this style of training will challenge you.  If you are looking for the least amount of exertion required to stay healthy I would encourage you to ask yourself this question, “What other areas in my life do I expect to give minimal effort to receive maximal results?”.  I’ve never heard anyone say “How many donuts can I eat and still have a six-pack?” or  “How can I give the least amount of effort at work and still get a raise?”  It doesn’t work this way in life. There is no easy way out. The “easy way” out in fitness ironically requires more training time – running, jogging and walking for a long time could certainly be an intro level form of exercise for some people, but in general, those styles of training require more time for a minimal return on investment and are not as intense (measured by heart rate) as other forms of exercise.       

For example, a three month study by Utter in 1998 showed that the addition of 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at 78% of max heart rate five days a week for 12 weeks had no effect over dieting alone.   There are countless other studies that prove that long distance aerobic training done at low levels of exertion have minimal effect on your body composition and overall health.  On the contrary, adding in high intensity bouts of exercise through sprinting, interval sprints and metabolic weight training have the greatest effect on your body composition through fat-loss and muscle preservation and strengthening.  By grinding through tough bouts of exercise you optimize your effort investment and get done with your workouts in the shortest amount of time. 

Practically, performing interval sprints with a 1:2 work to rest ratio could be a great place to start – sprint for 30 seconds and then recover by walking for 1 minute before repeating the 30 second sprint.  Repeat that process 10 times and you have yourself a difficult workout that finishes in 15 minutes.  In addition, I highly recommend Tabata training for exercises such as squats, pushups and lunges or sprint bouts.  The Tabata Protocol entails the following: 8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.  This can be done with just your bodyweight and then progressed into adding resistance from weights. 

Here’s a challenge: Perform squats for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds and repeat 8 times and tell me if you feel “cardio.”  I guarantee you will!  In fact, you will feel more cardio than traditional cardio training!  So, will you push yourself hard for a short amount of time to achieve maximum results?

Superstitious Young Athletes

Lucky socks, tying your shoes a certain way, stepping over the foul line, putting your gloves on left hand first, then right hand, rally caps… Superstitions abound among young athletes. Are they good? Are they bad? What can a parent do to help a child with useful pre-performance routines? Kacey Oiness, Ph.D., HSPP, a Sport & Performance Psychologist at St.Vincent Sports Performance is here to answer those questions and more.

Kids often develop superstitions in an effort to create consistency in performances and feel as though there is something they can control each time they compete. Therefore, encouraging kids to develop performance routines can be useful, as it can allow them to identify things that are within their control that can contribute to success. You can assist your child in creating pre-performance routines that contribute to performance such as healthy behaviors (i.e. a good night’s sleep, eating healthy, etc.), as well as incorporating mental skills that lead to greater levels of confidence and an ability to maintain composure (i.e. positive self-talk, relaxation strategies, visualization). By encouraging them to develop a routine that facilitates their performance, you are giving them a way to feel a sense of control and consistency, without necessarily having to turn to superstitions.

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Superstitions, however, can be a part of sport and are not necessarily bad. But it is important to be cautious about allowing an athlete to depend  on their superstitious behaviors. Flexibility is key: if an athlete is unable to perform an aspect of their performance routine or engage in a superstitious behavior, it is important for them to learn to refocus on things that are within their control moving forward. When an athlete has difficulty moving past the idea that they have to engage in a superstitious behavior, that is when it can become harmful. The more you can assist your athlete in developing useful physical and mental performance routines and reinforce flexibility in that routine, the more beneficial it will be to their athletic performance.

Another group of SVSP grads on NFL rosters

Over the last several years, SVSP has trained dozens of former college athletes during the run-up to each spring’s NFL draft. September is here, training camps are done, and the 53-man rosters are set heading into Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season.


Whether you’re watching your favorite team or getting a football overload with Sunday Ticket to track your fantasy roster, keep your eyes peeled for SVSP athletes. It shouldn’t be too hard, they are everywhere! First, let’s get familiar with the 2015 pre-draft program graduates.


Deon Simon, Tackle, New York Jets
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Kristian Sokoli, Guard, Seattle Seahawks
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Leterrius Walton, Defensive End, Pittsburg Steelers
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Raheem Mostert, Running Back, Miami Dolphins
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Obum Gwachum, Defensive End, New Orleans Saints
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Pacers new practice facility: The St. Vincent Center

I was invited to the office of Mr. Jim Morris to his office for a meeting.  Anytime you get an invitation from Mr. Morris it is a humbling honor.  I met Jim along with Kelly Krauskopf and Rick Fuson on a sunny afternoon of June 11, 2014.  They revealed a plan to build a stand-alone practice facility for the Indiana Pacers and they wanted SVSP to be part of the process.
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So here we are, 440 days after that initial meeting, announcing the St Vincent Center.  The 140,000 square-foot St. Vincent Center will be built in a pie-shaped space on Delaware Street immediately east of Bankers Life Fieldhouse and adjacent to the Virginia Avenue Parking Garage.
“St. Vincent Center will be a tremendous asset enabling the Indiana Pacers to compete for the top basketball talent in the world, to assist them in training to achieve peak performance, and to allow for greater and more varied uses of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the future,” said PS&E President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Fusion. “St. Vincent Center also will be a tremendous addition to the continued revitalization and development of downtown’s southeast quadrant.” 
The partnership is much broader than naming rights – it allows St. Vincent to offer easy access to high-quality health care for those working, living and visiting Indianapolis. St. Vincent is renowned for clinical expertise and a cScreen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.43.15 PMompassionate, patient-centered approach to care that ensures caregivers remain focused on healing the total mind, body and spirit while providing an extraordinary level of service, safety and quality.
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The St. Vincent Center will provide primary care, cardiovascular,and sports performance services available for athletes and the general public. St. Vincent Sports Performance will offer sports medicine physicians, sports nutrition, sport & performance psychology, sports science and physical training, which the program currently offers to athletes of all ages ranging from middle school to professional. Primary care services will also be available to the general public, including preventive care. Board-certified cardiologists will treat patients with cardiovascular disease while offering access to the nationally recognized comprehensive services, specialists, technology and compassionate care of St. Vincent.
The St. Vincent Center will be the 20th stand-alone training facility built by an NBA team since 1999. Many of those facilities have partnered with local health organizations.
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“Prior to the St. Vincent Center, St. Vincent Sports Performance already had an established relationship with the Indiana Pacers by providing the team with sports psychology and dietary services,” said Nalli. “St. Vincent Sports Performance is the largest hospital-based program of its kind in the country and currently provides comprehensive care to professional teams and athletes in an array of sports – including those for professional and Olympic athletes. Providing these advanced services in downtown Indianapolis will enhance our existing partnerships while adding to the vibrant sports culture of Indianapolis.”
As SVSP continues to provide solutions for athletes, this downtown presence represents the next edition of ‘defining sports performance”.

What’s up with proteins?

Sport Dietician Lindsay Langford, MS, RD, CSSD,  sheds light on protein packed food and how it can actually benefit you.


Mid-distance running

Here are some key tips for mid-distance running from SVSP’s performance specialist Jeff Richter, CSCS, USAW:


Solutions for Athletes: One Dimension of Support

Athleticism is the culmination of multifactorial components assimilating perfection at the same time.  In the Track & Field athlete participating in the arduous length of an Indoor, spring and summer season challenges these components.  Much like a high performance IndyCar® at the Indy 500 cannot go the distance without engineering feedback, tire changes and chassis adjustments, the USATF athlete cannot go the distance without support.

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SVSP is in Europe, particularly on the Diamond League circuit, to be the “body mechanics” for these extraordinarily high performance athletes.  Our task is to be the front line of medical and body management support.  This is just one dimension of the solutions provided by SVSP; however, it is the most appropriate given the time of season and the countdown to the IAAF World Championships.


Over the past ten days, July 17-26, our SVSP team has provided hands on care and decision support in Monaco, Leuven, Belgium and London.  The typical service centers on readiness for training and competition; body alignment, joint mobility, muscle activation as well as post activity recovery massage.

athlete rub

A case in point was Friday evening at the London Diamond League meeting at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park when Peter Callahan arrived in the ready room under the Stadium saying, “my legs and hips feel dead”.  Peter, a recent graduate of Princeton and Master’s degree at New Mexico was to pace/rabbit the men’s 3000 meters.  The response by Ralph Reiff, ATC was to take Peter through muscle activation sequences to “turn on” the neuromuscular stimuli of his shoulders, torso,  glutes, hamstrings, adductors, etc.  After the race Peter said he “felt the lights come on” meaning he was energized and fully engaged to complete his athletic moment.


Finding the right solution for the athlete at the right time and delivering it in a manner of acceptance is a major purpose of our team being in Europe assisting the greatest track & field athletes in the world.

Solutions for Athletes: WEBO to Kazan

SVSP talented associates are assisting athletes, coaches, parents, agents, NGB’s and CEO’s from Boone County, Indiana to Kazan, Russia.  Our team of coaches, dieticians, sports psychologist, athletic trainers and physicians are selected by Indiana athletic directors and school boards, CEOs and NGBs to provide oversight services for their athletes. diving


Our SVSP teams are called upon by not only these very important local organizations but also the most elite athlete programs in the world.  Over the past 45 days SVSP has been engaged on-site with USA Football National Teams and Regional Development Camps, USA Diving at the Pan Am Games and at FINA Worlds in Kazan, Russia.  In Indianapolis, our sport & performance psychologist and our sports dietician is engaged daily with the Indiana Pacers of the NBA.  USA Gymnastics calls our athletic trainers to their National Training site for the Women’s Team and this July SVSP launched a one-of-a-kind program for USA Track & Field in Europe.

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Fundamentally we are focused upon solutions for athletes.  Inherently we are ‘called’ to be a values-based sports performance program providing safe and ethical solutions.  Most importantly our doors are open to all.

Midwest Shines

Great to see Indiana and the Midwest represented so well today. We are stationed at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London. Each day we convert our room into a treatment space with three exam tables ready to care for USA track and field athletes. Neat day for us as we treated many athletes with direct Midwest connections.



Michael Hartfield  long jumper from Ohio State, Candyce McGrone from Warren Central in Indianapolis (home to USATF) running the 200, Kara Winger Purdue graduate throwing the javelin, Andy Bayer IU graduate running the steeple chase, Molly Ludlow who makes her permanent home in Indianapolis running the 800m, Mary Saxer pole vaulter who competed for Notre Dame, Erik Sowinski 800m runner who ran at Iowa, and Molly Huddle who ran at Notre Dame doing the 5k this weekend.


Through these weeks that we have been on the road we have had the opportunity to work with athletes from all realms of track and field.  We have seen Olympic and world championship medalists and NCAA champions. We have witnessed American and world records being set. We try to offer something from home, something the athletes feel comfortable with. Today it felt a little more like the Midwest.

International Travel

It sounds glamorous.  Traveling from country to country.  Beautiful landscapes, ocean views, great track meets, some of the best athletes in the world.



But it is not always as it seems. Tuesday, July 22 was a travel day.  Our starting point is Leuven Belgium, a college town about 25 km east of Brussels. Destination: central London. Since Leuven is not large the taxi was early.  Short trip to the train station in two cabs. We have three large bags each, two rollers and a table each.  We travel with 4 sets of Normatec boots.


We joke with everyone that we travel “light”!  Once at the station, we missed the first train to Brussels by a few minutes, but there is always another one in 10-15 more. The downfall is it is on a different platform. That means back down the stairs and up to get there, and one of the escalators are functioning.


FullSizeRenderThis train is a commuter train, so the space is really designed for people, not a great deal of baggage.  We consumed most of the overhead space in one car, also using some floor space in and under the seat with the tables that fit. 20 minutes later we are in Brussels and transfer trains to the Echostar line to London. Again we handle the bags dragging and carrying them.  Here we have to go through border control and clear customs.


On Echostar we consume most of the luggage space for car 16. Traveling over 150 mph it only takes 2 hours to arrive at St Pancras station. We drag the bags to the taxi stand. Here in London most taxis are shaped the same with little to no room in the “boot” for baggage. Luckily we get a van that has more room, but still no room in the back.  All the bags are stored on the floor. I am in the back with my legs up on the bags, cramping my hamstrings. Bejan in facing backwards feet on other bags. Handle the bags again to get them into the hotel and we have arrived about 5 hours and 30 minutes later.



We have handled the bags 12 times. Each bag weighs just under 23 kilograms (about 50 pounds).


International travel with the best track team in the world is great when we are working on athletes and athletes are performing at their highest level. But getting there isn’t always the most fun.