We are all unique and therefore fall into different categories for our conditioning requirements…
This category is represented by people who need to get in shape for a certain reason–usually for a sport or competition. Think of cycling or triathlons, no amount of squat jumps is going to prepare you the same for either of these–you need to practice the skill and the endurance in that specific activity.
This is where most of us fall into. Currently we have no specific reason (other than health or aesthetics) to do things that get our heart rate up and make us sweaty. My favorite choice for people in this category (myself included) is to have the lions share of the work be an actual sport. The reason for this is that conditioning can be difficult to adhere to. So to that end, in this category we need our conditioning choice to fulfill 2 requirements…
These two requirements will yield a choice for YOU that is sustainable. Yes there are lots of benefits to nerding it out with science-y formulas for improving your VO2 Max, but the extra benefit from doing these versus the fun thing is negligible compared to the benefits you receive from actually doing the activity happily.
So my recommendations for you is to find something that is fun and safe. If you can find a sport (boxing, tennis, swimming, basketball, etc) that is ideal because you are also building skills and that is good for your brain.
The other recommendation I have is to do interval training, because it is so damn effective from a time investment to benefit ratio…
My good friends Jen and Dave put together an awesome resource for the people who fall into that category called Lift Weights Faster 2.
I’m not a “conditioning in the gym” guy myself but I can recognize quality when it’s presented to me and the amount of work and effort they put into this is outrageous and inspiring. Another thing they do well is support you in the journey and provide inspiration along the way.
*Now the truth is, I rarely promote anything because I’m a skeptical, pessimistic, curmudgeon–I am unwilling to recommend something that isn’t rock solid because it’s a waste of everyone’s time and it lowers the meaning of my word. This is good, useful stuff and you get a lot of support along with it. They did a great job putting it together and having their stuff at your fingertips is a good way to ensure your sustained cardiovascular awesomeness with fun and safety along the way.