Cardiovascular fitness is especially relevant on the professional, elite amateur, college and junior levels. When a player plays in a 72 hole tournament (which can include walking an average of 5-6 miles per day under stressful conditions), it is imperative that he or she does not get physically or mentally tired. 

The heart rate of the physically fit elite player tends to remain stabilized because muscles are properly being oxygenated. This flow of oxygen in turn, results in providing sufficient energy, stamina and recovery time under more physically and mentally demanding conditions. Along with increasing physical performance, a higher level of mental concentration is also achieved due to the maintenance of high oxygen flow to the brain.

I incorporate HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) cardio sessions for all my elite players, because the latest research has shown those HIIT sessions increase cardiovascular oxygen capacity, your body's ability to properly utilize oxygen, and increase over-all fitness abilities more efficiently than conventional cardiovascular training methods.

HIIT increases VO2-max (the best indicator of cardiovascular endurance), this measurement shows the effects that an exercise is having on the body as well as how the body is efficiently using that oxygen for energy. VO2-max is defined as the maximum amount of oxygen (in milliliters) that a person can use in one minute, per kilogram of their bodyweight. This measurement is important because the amount that a person can utilize within 1 minute is an indicator of their overall fitness level. 

HIIT is a type of cardio training that involves repeated high intensity exercises followed by a limited recovery period. This sequence is repeated multiple times for a duration of 10-30 minutes.

Example HIIT Session: Versa Climber

  • Warm up: 5 minutes HR at 60%
  • 15 one minute intervals
  • 1 minute at 65% to 70% to 75% to 80%, etc.
  • 2 minute rest in between each interval
  • Goal is to increase feet climbed each interval

The heart rate will be increasing substantially on each 1-minute interval. Increasing your heart rate during periods of intensive training will enable an athlete to significantly increase cardiovascular endurance and overall strengthen his/her heart. 

During the short rest cycle, athletes are working on recovering more quickly, thus needing less time to rest. The end result of HIIT is that an individual will build stamina at a quicker rate and increase their overall ability to perform at a higher mental and physical level during competitions. 

HIIT training sessions also trigger "EPOC" (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). This increases the rate of oxygen that your body uses following strenuous activities. Your body uses more oxygen after a HIIT session because it is making up for the body's oxygen deficit, which occurred during the max periods of the exercise that you performed. 

EPOC increases the recovery stage of the body following a HIIT session. A higher level of oxygen is needed during recovery in order to facilitate in the restoration of hormone levels, refueling of glucose levels and repairing of muscles fibers. Another benefic of EPOC that results from HIIT training is the development of new ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), which is the fuel source your body needs to perform strenuous activity. 

EPOC is also instrumental in reducing lactic acid. Lactic acid is formed during exercise and is responsible for reducing the working efficiency of your muscles. Lactic acid travels through your bloodstream to the cardiac muscle, the kidneys and the lever during training sessions. An increased amount of oxygen is necessary to convert the lactic accid back to pyruvic acid, enabling the body to enter a resting state. 

A quality cardiovascular training program should include a HIIT program once an individual has an established sound fitness foundation. The end result is you, as an athlete, will increase your overall performance levels by adapting the HIIT training method.  HIIT cardio and strength training techniques will be instrumental in increasing your performance in tournaments. 

The ultimate goal is for an elite player to be able to play 36 holes in 1 day without experiencing mental or physical fatigue of any kind.