This is the video from a webinar I did on The 4 Cardio Quadrants. It is a concept that will help you better understand the specific demands of your sport and the best methods for improving your weaknesses.


Not all cardio is created equal.

Cardio Endurance is very specific to the sport and situation.

  • VO2Max in Cyclists who test via running

Your cardio system fuels tension and so you have focus on the tension demands you want the cardio system to fuel, not just breathing hard.

Sport specific training has more to do with training these demands in relation to your sport, not trying to do things that “look” like your sport.

  • Avoid high tension upper body training and low tension lower body training.

When you break it down cardio demands fall into a couple of spectrums

  • Mono Movement and Multi Movement
  • High Tension and Low Tension

The Mono Movement and Multi Movement Spectrum

  • Mono movement activities have one movement that you repeat over and over, usually in a cyclical nature like running and pedaling.
  • Multi movement activities have multiple movements that you do and can include a cyclical activity broken up with other movements.
  • Examples: Boxing vs. MMA/ Road Running vs. Trail Running/ Running vs. Soccer/ Road Riding vs. Mountain Biking/ XC vs. DH

The High Tension and Low Tension Spectrum

  • High Tension activities require more tension in the core and muscles being used and can not be sustained for long periods of time.
  • Low Tension activities require little tension in the core and muscles being used and can be carried on for long periods of time.
  • Examples: Sprinting vs. Jogging/ Road Riding vs. Mountain Biking/ XC vs. DH/ Spinning vs. Grinding

When you lay these two spectrums across each other you get The 4 Cardio Quadrants

  • You can classify any sport or training method into one of the 4 Quadrants.
  • While a sport may have a predominant Cardio Quadrant, there are usually specific uses of each Cardio Quadrant in a sport and you may identify one of them as your personal weakness, calling for something different than you may assume.
  • You need to have some fitness in each Cardio Quadrant for overall health.
  • The lines may get blurry with some things but at least this gives us some context to discuss the specifics of those things.

High Tension Mono Movement

  • Sprinting 
  • Low RPM grinds

Low Tension Mono Movement

  • Jogging/ Road Cycling
  • High RPM spinning

High Tension Multi Movement

  • Downhill

Low Tension Multi Movement

  • Free Speed Pumping & Flowing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *