Paragon Zone 2 Cardio

Cardio Add-On Program

Even if you’re a “cardi-NO” type of human…

Regularly doing cardio really is one of the BEST things you can do for your heart, health, lifting performance, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, mood, mental health, and body comp (:

This free cardio add-on program:

  • will stack perfectly with Paragon lift sessions
  • you can run, bike, ski, row, ruck, etc
  • there will be 3 potential cardio sessions each week (30-60 minutes – 2x Zone 2, 1x Zone 5)

How Paragon Works

You’ll subscribe to 1 of 3 workout bundles:

1️⃣ Full Gym (with machines)
2️⃣ Home Gym (or a gym with NO machines)
3️⃣ Dumbbells Only

Enter the new Cardio Add-On Program (filled with Zone 2 + Zone 5 goodness) that stacks perfectly with our programs.

Each bundle now has a 3-day option and a 4-day option. Plus, they’re all bundled and optimized around where you’re working out and what equipment you have access to.


TLDR

Starting April 10th, members will have access to a Free Cardio Add-On program to combine with their lifting sessions.

Turns out, regularly doing Zone 2 Cardio really is one of the BEST things you can do for your health, lifting performance, and physique. This program add-on will combine perfectly with our workouts. You can run, bike, ski, row, etc.

There will be 3 potential cardio sessions per week:
2x Zone 2 sessions & 1x Zone 5 session

Ready to join us? Click here to sign up for the next cycle!


Why You (Might) Need Cardio

Cardio is essentially a tool to train an energy system within our body. Adding cardio to your current Paragon programming will not only improve your fitness goals but also your overall health goals for longevity purposes.

Say goodbye to the days of “cardio kills your gains.”

Research now leans more in the direction that Zone 2 can be complimentary to our ability to effectively gain muscle and get stronger. That is if we are following intelligent programming, eating adequately to support recovery, controlling training volume between the two, etc. Enter, Paragon.

The evidence for Zone 2 cardio is unmatched in its ability to increase longevity, both in the length of life, (lifespan) as well as the quality of life (healthspan). Zone 5 sessions on the other hand are awesome if you want to go hard and test your athleticism, but you may also feel like poo later. Basically, no hard feelings if you skip altogether because this should be the last of our priorities anyway.

Benefits of Type 2 Cardio:

  • improve heart health
  • improve mood, depression, and anxiety
  • improve insulin resistance + blood sugar levels
  • lower blood pressure + cholesterol levels
  • more easily maintain body weight
  • age better + keep up w/ your kids (:
  • improved performance when lifting + exercising
  • reduce risk of diabetes + cardiovascular disease

Have We Convinced You Yet?

No? Okay, let’s dig a little deeper.

The effects of cardio actually decrease the prevalence of metabolic disease. Specifically, diseases associated with elevated insulin or lipids; such as pre-diabetes and LDL cholesterol and Triglycerides health concerns. These improvements in metabolic function result from an increase in the number, function, and flexibility of your mitochondria, which control our ability to shift between using fat or glucose (carbs) for fuel.

This was stated very succinctly by Levels Health:

Zone 2 is done at a pace that’s “almost infinitely sustainable—but it’s still exercise.”

In other words, Zone 2 gives you all the health benefits of exercise, such as improving the efficiency of your heart; reducing blood pressure; and lowering the risks of cancer, diabetes, and early death. But unlike higher-intensity sessions, which can leave you feeling wiped out, cause soreness, and require days to recover from, Zone 2 hits a sweet spot that lets you reap the exercise perks without overtaxing yourself, which can make it a more sustainable practice. It also helps you build endurance and helps you achieve metabolic flexibility, which is when your body can easily switch between burning carbs and burning fat for fuel.


General Recommendations

The general scientific recommendation is 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, with most of that falling in the realm of Zone 2 effort.

So, if we were to complete 120 minutes of Zone 2 (60 minutes per session) as well as a shorter (more intense) Zone 5 session, we would be right in line with the CDC recommendation for cardiovascular activity.

The cardio add-on can be plugged into your individual programs in two distinct ways.

  • Zone 2 Cardio
    • We suggest 2x weekly sessions consisting of longer 45-60 min workouts at a “sustainable” effort (aka, you shouldn’t be gassed after these efforts)
  • Zone 5 Cardio
    • You only really need 1x weekly session consisting of high-intensity intervals meant to spike the heart rate to get the benefits here (and lucky you, because this shiz is tough)

Zone 2 // Aerobic Conditioning

Benefits:
Improves heart health, increases mitochondrial function, lowers resting heart rate, improves insulin sensitivity, and more.

How It Should Feel:
Steady + sustainable (60-70% effort)

TLDR:
You should be able to consistently hold a Zone 2 pace for 45 to 60+ minutes. Use a heart rate monitor or self-monitor exertion levels. You should be able to hold a conversation while you run/row/etc in Zone 2 (it would just be obvious that you’re exercising).


Zone 5 // Anaerobic Conditioning

Benefits:
Improves speed and power, and helps increase your VO2 Max

How It Should Feel:
Fast + unsustainable (90-100% effort)

TLDR:
Hello, max effort! Aka almost redlining OR “emptying the tank” and completely redlining. No need to monitor this one: welcome to the pain cave. If you’re not hurting and questioning life a little, you ain’t in Zone 5 (:


Zone 2 Effort Level

As a quick reminder, Zone 2 is a level of output that you *could* sustain for 2-3 hours; even though the recommendation is usually 45-60 minutes per session.

Essentially, this is a level of effort where it never gets harder. It may become monotonous, and you may want to stop out of boredom, but the actual physical effort of exertion should be perpetually sustainable.

For all the heart rate and subjective metrics discussed over the last couple of months, the ability to sustain this effort indefinitely is certainly one of the most applicable metrics we should use for Zone 2.

If you find yourself increasing perceived effort over the course of the workout, then your fatigue is climbing, and you are likely venturing out of Zone 2 and into the higher zones.


Lifting + Cardio: Order Matters

We are a hypertrophy company, and the cardio is in addition to our strength training program. If you had a child who wanted to eat their dessert before dinner, you wouldn’t generally allow that because you know it’s not good for them.

In the same way, we know that muscle-building effects post-cardio are diminished versus before cardio.

It really comes down to a matter of priorities. You put the majority of your energy and focus into the thing that you prioritize. If cardio is your priority, you should do cardio first. If muscle and strength are the priorities, you should do your lift first. 


Cardio + Dieting

One important caveat is to consider the situation of someone dieting, aka eating in a caloric deficit. In this case, the individual has an insufficient supply of calories (re: recovery) and may in fact experience a deleterious effect on their weight lifting by incorporating this cardio into the program.

This can be handled on a case-by-case basis (within the Facebook group), but there are two guiding principles that are important to keep in mind:

  1. If you opt to do the cardio, understand that you will need to replace those calories burned with calories consumed. This means you will be eating more than what you may typically consume in a dieting phase.
  2. We much prefer to use cardio as a tool in the toolbox that can be pulled when the diet gets tough. If you have already used this tool (cardio) from the beginning of the diet, then you can only pull more calories when the scale gets sticky. It is much preferred to save cardio for the latter stages of the dieting phase (if needed). 

Fitting Cardio into Your Calendar

The challenging part of programming cardio and weight training is fitting it all into the calendar week without compromising the muscle-building impact of the lifting (which we know is also a vital component of both life and health span).

In general, we recommend two “rest days” per week. However, we must be lenient on this if we intend to complete the CDC allotment of weekly cardio.

Therefore, we’d like you to consider “Zone 2” work to be low enough intensity and effort, that it should have a nearly negligible impact on our recovery capacity.

In fact, it is commonly held that Zone 2 work actually increases recovery capacity through a process called mitophagy. This process clears out old “poorly functioning” mitochondria, replacing them with higher-quality mitochondria. This creates a body that functions more optimally as an organism and therefore helps you to recover faster between sets. This means you will also recover faster between sessions.

However, Zone 5 work utilizes a similar energy system to weight training. This means it utilizes short bursts of intense effort, followed by longer periods of recovery. Therefore, we should consider Zone 5 work to be a true “workout,” which will indeed have a mitigating impact on our recovery.

Whether you are following a 4-Day or 3-Day program, you will inevitably have some weeks where you just cannot fit everything in. In these situations, the order of importance goes:

  1. Lifting sessions 
  2. Zone 2 sessions
  3. Zone 5 session

A Note on Programming in the App: Given the number of options you have to implement these workouts, all 3 sessions are programmed on Sundays, but we do not want you to complete all 3 in a row on Sundays.

Depending on your situation and which Physique program you are pairing the cardio with, you can move the sessions in accordance with your schedule. Alternatively, you can leave them on Sunday and just mark them complete as you do them throughout the week.


Cardio + 4-Day Programs

The ”split” for the 4-Day programs is Lower/Upper/Lower/Upper with rest days in between. This gives us three solid approaches that can optimize your ROI for each lifting and cardio.

Option 1

Monday – Lower
Tuesday – Upper
Wednesday – Zone 2
Thursday – Lower
Friday – Upper
Saturday – Zone 2 + Zone 5 (see note below)
Sunday – Rest

*Doing Zone 5 work after Zone 2 is a great way to fit both sessions into a single training day! The Zone 2 work will act as a warm-up for Zone 5. If you’ve done Zone 5 work before, you know it takes a bit to get your heart rate that high. By doing Zone 2 prior, you are priming your heart to be prepared for the Zone 5 work that follows.

We recommend a 10-minute break between the Zone 2 work and the Zone 5 work before you cool down completely.

Option 2

Monday – Lower
Tuesday – Upper + Zone 2 (see note below)
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Lower
Friday – Upper + Zone 2 (see note below)
Saturday – Zone 5
Sunday – Rest

Option 3

Monday – Lower
Tuesday – Upper
Wednesday – Zone 2
Thursday – Lower
Friday – Upper + Zone 2 (see note below)
Saturday – Zone 5
Sunday – Rest

*Upper and Zone 2 sessions should be split by a number of hours and at least one full meal. If you cannot do that, then Zone 2 should take place after upper body weight training (we do not want to do the cardio directly prior to lifting). If forced to choose, it would be better to prioritize the Zone 2 sessions and ignore Zone 5 (because Zone 5 most similarly emulates the energy systems we already use in the lifting).


Cardio + 3-Day Programs

The ”split” for the 3-Day programs is full body on alternating days. There are a couple of solid approaches that can optimize your ROI for each lifting and cardio.

Option 1

Monday – Full Body
Tuesday – Zone 2
Wednesday – Full Body
Thursday – Zone 2
Friday – Full Body
Saturday – Zone 5
Sunday – Rest

Option 2

Monday – Full Body
Tuesday – Zone 2
Wednesday – Full Body
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Full Body
Saturday – Zone 2 + Zone 5 (see note below)
Sunday – Rest

*The downside to these approaches is only that you end up having to train more than three days a week, which may be an issue since you probably selected the 3-Day program for that reason.

As seen in Option 2, you can smash cardio sessions together as a time-saving mechanism, by doing your Zone 5 work after Zone 2. The Zone 2 work will act as a warm-up for Zone 5. If you’ve done Zone 5 work before, you know it takes a bit to get your heart rate that high. By doing Zone 2 prior, you are priming your heart to be prepared for the Zone 5 work that follows.

We recommend a 10-minute break between the Zone 2 work and the Zone 5 work before you cool down completely.

Option 3

Monday – Full Body + Zone 2
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Full Body + Zone 2
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Full Body + Zone 5
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest

*The downside to this approach is that each session becomes exorbitantly long, to the point that it’s probably a bit too long.

Of course, if you can do these as separate sessions (separated by a few hours and a meal or two) that would be ideal. But again, we understand this is probably unlikely since the 3-Day program is usually a frequency-restricted decision.

Option 4

Fit in the cardio wherever you can, and always try to prioritize doing it after lifting, or as far away from the lifting as possible.

If forced to choose, it would be better to prioritize the Zone 2 sessions and ignore Zone 5 (because Zone 5 most similarly emulates the energy systems we already use in the lifting).


Ready to Get Started?

Bottom Line:
Paragon program bundles = 3-4 programs
Workouts take 30, 45, 60, or 75 minutes.
Select the cardio add-on program to add Zone 2 and Zone 5 cardio sessions.

Pick your bundle, pick your program, and then get to lifting (and loving) life!!

@paragontrainingmethods = fun and effective bodybuilding and strength training workouts (you can do from home or at a gym) that will help you build muscle, achieve your goals, and look d*mn good in 45-60 minutes a day.

There’s a biiiiig difference between doing random workouts vs. having an actual workout plan and following super thoughtfully planned out training cycles.

  • Our programming is backed by science and evidence-based research (which means you’ll quickly see progress and results and also maximize time spent working out)
  • Workouts have progressive overload and are Hypertrophy focused (so you get the best of all worlds – look great, feel great, get strong, and have fun)
  • Training Cycles are periodized and alternate between Hypertrophy, Strength, & Metabolic Conditioning, (so you keep seeing progress and shouldn’t hit plateaus)

Whether your goal is:

  • to run AND lift
  • workout 3 days per week
  • lift from home
  • get strong
  • enjoy things you love (CrossFit, Olympic Lifting, Peloton)
  • or just look and feel your best

We have amazing hypertrophy workouts with progressive overload that will get you there! 

Click here to read more about our Paragon workouts!

Life’s better strong.

LIFT big and then go LIVE big!

LCK and Bryan from Paragon Training Methods

Paragon's Story

“They say the best companies from solving a problem. Paragon Training Methods started w/ solving mine.”

– Paragon Founder, LCK 

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