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The Real Reasons We Don’t Use Cardio Equipment

We don’t own a single piece of equipment requiring an outlet (or batteries). What many athletes fail to realize—even those who completed this workout well over 200 times—is why.

Before these doors opened, Chris and Alex coached athletes on the very equipment not found within these walls. Alex taught spin; Chris coached HITT workouts with a treadmill component. At one point, Chris’ vision for a fitness studio was DC’s first and only stair-stepper gym.

And because they coached on it, they decided to create a studio without it.

Cut Seven is a sports conditioning studio, with both strength and cardio built into the workout. What we want to open your eyes to is this: “Cardio” is not confined to movements performed on bikes, treadmills, and rowers. There are limitless ways to move your body and accelerate your heart rate.

This post covers some of them. The rest, we’re still making up.

Treadmills and bikes were built for one movement—the human body was not.

Michael Phelps runs. Read that sentence again. Although his main mode of training is swimming, he understands his body would be adversely affected if that was his only movement. On land, he runs, jumps, pushes sleds, uses bands, and does pull-ups. In the pool, he does different strokes to prevent taxing a particular muscle.

You cannot do the same thing over and over again without causing more harm than gains. Choosing one movement to perform on repeat is the easiest way to plateau.

You can’t work the same muscle each day and not damage it.

A leading cause of injury stems from muscle imbalances. When you work the same muscle group daily, those muscles become increasingly stronger, and the rest of your body can’t keep up.

Indoor cycling, running on treadmills, and hitting the elliptical primarily tax the same muscle: your quads. Katie explains, “If one muscle group is functioning really well, and the other muscles aren’t built to support that function, your body will eventually break down.”

Powerful quads—without building strong hamstrings to support them, can lead to knee pain and other injuries.

Pictured: Battle ropes are one of the few moves that uses upper body cardio, working your biceps, core, and shoulders. Here, Ali crushes 10 waves then goes straight to a push-up and 2 tuck jumps for a full-body exercise.

Never Basic. 🖤

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The human body is meant to move across every plane.

If you hit the treadmill every day, you move your body across one plane only: forward. By running in a straight line over and over, you don’t allow certain muscles to fire.

And now you know why we bear crawl side to side, not just forward and back.

By adding in a lateral movement, switching to a single-leg exercise, or adding resistance from all directions, you fire your stabilizer muscles. This makes you stronger—working a lateral movement will drive you forward in a linear one. In Cut terms: Side-stepping down the lane with a band around your calves is what propels you forward in a sprint.

Pictured: Hurdle drills force your body to move in all directions. First, Hannah navigates the obstacle course, then she twists and turns through the box jumps and burpees.

Cardio… ish #🖤Day

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We created a workout where it’s impossible to plateau

“Not using [cardio] equipment came from coaching on it,” says Chris, “I saw how easily people plateaued on those things.”

Unless you’re really getting fancy, there are two ways to vary your workout on a treadmill: speed and incline. Eventually, the movement no longer “surprises” your body. And the moment an exercise becomes familiar is the moment you plateau.

Cut Moves give our coaches the ability to continuously progress an athlete without changing the fundamental exercise. An athlete will be challenged on the 200th class as much as the first. Here’s how: That athlete will grab a heavier sandbag, throw the 70lb dumbbell on a sled, or jump on a higher box. Adding a new stimulus (weight, another piece of equipment, or other modification) allows that athlete to continuously progress.

Pictured: Pushing a plyo box is the fundamental cardio move in this exercise. James adds twisting box jumps as an added challenge (stimulus = new move), adding a layer of coordination, leg strength, and explosiveness.

Try me. 😋

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…And what the f/ck do WE want to do?

The two people who built this studio met on the very equipment not found within these walls. Alex told Chris she got bored easily. The challenge was to design a workout where she couldn’t.

If you’re someone who loves biking or running, great. Do what you love (just make sure your training hits on the points outlined above). But every other gym in this city already offers your preferred mode of fitness. 

There is a group of athletes who falsely believe they hate cardio because their only exposure to it took place on a bike, treadmill, or rower. This studio was built for that group.

Is this a cardio gym? Absolutely not. But cardio is an essential component of conditioning, and there are ways to incorporate it into a program that neither your body—nor your mind—can predict.