Working out slowly and why it matters.

Plus: The perfect recipes to food prep tomorrow.

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"Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory."

William Barclay

Saturday. Saturday?! Saturday?!! That’s right—this is not a mistake. It is indeed the weekend, and we are here in your inbox. Maybe weekend Daily Tonics will become a thing in the future. Perhaps we are just trying things out. If you want to see more Daily Tonic emails on Saturdays because you love getting these in your inbox, let us know in the comments section of the poll at the bottom of the newsletter. Now, let’s talk about Zone 2 cardio and why it matters. Let’s dive in..

the simpsons exercise GIF

Better Than HIIT?

In the fitness world, the spotlight often shines on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), known for its quick, intense bursts of exercise. There is CrossFit, HIIT this, HIIT that, bootcamps, and so on. For a long time, the fitness space has preached that intensity is the name of the game. However, is there something to be said about slower, steady “Zone 2” cardio? 

Zone 2 cardio is a type of workout where your heart rate is maintained at 60-70% of its maximum. This kind of exercise, which could include running, cycling, or swimming at a manageable pace, not only builds endurance and improves metabolic health but also doesn’t demand extensive recovery periods. Some might say that’s a win-win. 

Zone 2 training, often overshadowed by more intense workout regimes, is now gaining attention for all these benefits. It involves exercising at a sustainable pace over a long time, and this steady approach to cardio has even been shown to enhance VO2 Max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise). That being said, it is also important to note that this type of exercise is not only beneficial for elite athletes but also for everyday fitness enthusiasts seeking to improve their cardiovascular health and body composition.

Some experts suggest that about 80% of your training should be at lower intensities, reserving only a small fraction for workouts like HIIT. This balance maximizes your results by building an aerobic base without hampering your ability to achieve other goals.

Zone 2 training’s real appeal lies in its sustainable nature. Unlike higher-intensity workouts that can leave you exhausted and needing days to recover, Zone 2 exercises are gentler and more manageable, making them a more sustainable and long-term fitness strategy. I am all about gentler and more manageable. 

These exercises not only improve the efficiency of your heart and reduce health risks but also help build endurance and achieve metabolic flexibility—the ability for your body to seamlessly switch between burning carbs and fat for fuel.

Identifying your personal Zone 2 can be challenging, as it varies for each individual and depends on factors like maximum heart rate. Simple tests, like the talk test (being able to speak a sentence comfortably while exercising), can be a more straightforward way to determine your Zone 2 level. Remember, this zone is different for each exercise modality, so finding your specific Zone 2 for each activity you engage in is crucial. For example, Zone 2 on the bike might look different than Zone 2 on a light jog. 

The key takeaway?  Zone 2 cardio offers a balanced and sustainable way to improve your heart health, metabolic health, and overall fitness. It’s a reminder that sometimes, slower and steadier can not only win the race but also contribute significantly to long-term health and wellness. Just like with diet, finding a fitness solution that works for you is all about finding something sustainable long-term.  

Is HIIT or CrossFit-style training beneficial? Of course. Should everyone be lifting weights at least a couple of times per week? If you care about muscle loss and bone density, yes. But don’t forget your Zone 2 cardio and enjoy all the benefits that come with it! 

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Tonic Shots

1. A Delicious Meal To Meal Prep

These noodles with chicken are a great dish to make plenty of for the week! It has protein, veggies, and carb because we are all about balance.

2. Another Great One For Meal Prep

Speaking of balanced meals—this sweet potato and beef chili is another great recipe to prep for the week. Enjoy.

3. I Mean, Who Doesn’t Love Meatballs?

One food prep tip I like is to make a protein that you have ready the week and then quickly prep a carb and veggie fresh for dinner or lunch each day. This keeps things fresh, but saves you time since the protein is usually what takes the longest to cook. Enjoy!

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