Badminton Cardio: Level Up Your Endurance On The Court

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Last Updated on 22/12/2023 by Kriss

Are you lacking endurance on the court? Or are you a beginner badminton player who doesn’t know where to start with training? Either way, you might be asking,

“Should I do cardio for badminton?”

The short answer is a resounding yes! Cardiovascular fitness plays an important role in badminton performance. Today, we will explore why cardio is essential for badminton, backed by scientific research, and how it can help you win more games.

Let’s dive right in!

Badminton Cardio: A Simple Yet Effective Boost For Your Game

Badminton is a high-intensity sport that requires agility, speed, and endurance. The game is characterized by short, intense rallies followed by brief rest periods, making it an intermittent exercise that demands both anaerobic and aerobic energy systems.

Scientific Analysis Of a Badminton Match

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology delved into the physiological characteristics and metabolic demands of playing badminton. The research involved twelve internationally ranked badminton players who performed a simulated badminton match of two 15-minute periods with simultaneous gas exchange and heart rate measurements. Blood lactate concentrations were also determined before, after 15 minutes, and at the end of the match. The duration of rallies and rests in between, the score, and the number of shots per rally were also recorded.

The study found that during a badminton match, players can reach up to 89% of their peak heart rate and 73.3% of their peak oxygen uptake. These findings underscore the high-intensity nature of the game and the importance of having a well-developed cardiovascular system to maintain performance throughout the match.

Sample badminton workout tracked with a smartwatch.
A small but intense badminton match. You see that the heart rate is very high, but fluctuates a lot.

Despite the high-intensity nature of the game, blood lactate concentrations remained relatively low, indicating that the aerobic energy system plays a significant role in energy production during match play. This further emphasizes the importance of cardiovascular fitness in badminton, not only for maintaining performance but also for ensuring quick recovery between rallies and intensive training workouts.

So what do we do with this information? Should we go all out and make cardio the most important part of our training? Not quite…

Why Cardio Might Not Be The Supercharger for Your Success

While cardio fitness is undeniably vital in badminton, it’s not the only factor that determines success on the court. A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness investigated the somatic and fitness traits of elite and sub-elite Polish male badminton players.

Interestingly, the study found that elite players were heavier with higher values of BMI and body fat. Still, there were no significant differences in body height, arm span, or VO2 max (a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness) between the elite and sub-elite groups.

Both groups achieved comparable results in badminton-specific on-court movement tests. This suggests that while a certain level of cardiovascular fitness is necessary for badminton, other factors such as on-court skills, agility, and technique may play a more important role in determining success in the sport. Therefore, while cardio is a crucial part of training, it’s not the sole supercharger for your success in badminton.

So, now that we know that cardio is pretty much as important as your racket skills, how do we structure our training? First, let’s take a look at what we can expect from cardio training for badminton

The Benefits of Cardio for Badminton

  1. Improved Endurance: Regular cardio training increases your stamina, allowing you to maintain high-intensity performance throughout the match. You will be less fatigued and this can be the deciding factor in those close games that go over 3 sets.
  2. Faster Recovery: Cardiovascular fitness is key for recovery between rallies. The fitter you are, the quicker your heart rate returns to normal, allowing you to recover faster and be ready for the next point.
  3. Better Shot Accuracy: As your endurance improves, you can maintain better control over your shots even when you’re tired, leading to more accurate and effective shots. The lower your heart rate – the more consistency you will get.

Incorporating Cardio into Your Training

cyclist riding towards the sun.
Cycling is a great low-impact sport to develop aerobic fitness

Given the benefits, incorporating cardio into your badminton training regimen is a no-brainer. Here are some ways to do it:

  1. Running: This is a simple and effective way to build cardiovascular fitness. Incorporate both long-distance runs for endurance and sprints for improving speed and agility.
  2. Cycling: This low-impact exercise is great for improving cardio fitness while reducing the risk of injury. We have already covered cycling in our complementary sports for badminton guide and it is a great choice for building cardiovascular fitness.
  3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This involves short bursts of high-intensity exercises followed by short rest periods. It’s excellent for mimicking the stop-and-start nature of a badminton match.

Cardio Workout Example

Ideally, you would do two cardio sessions per week next to your usual badminton training. Because of the high-impact nature of badminton, we would recommend cycling as the main part of cardio training. It is easy on your joints, uses some of the same muscle groups and you can do it indoors or outdoors.

Workout 1 – Building the base: When you want to build a cardio base, time is much more important than intensity. You should at least spend one hour on the bike. You would do a “Zone 2” effort (more about that here). Zone 2 means, that you do a light effort. You should be able to still hold a conversation, but your partner should hear, that you are a little bit out of breath.

Workout 2 – Intervals, Intervals, Intervals: Intervals are great, because they increase your maximum capacity, what we’ve learned is important for badminton. For cycling, this means that you go hard for 2-3 minutes, followed by a short break that isn’t quite enough to fully recover.

A simple 30-minute interval training would look like this:

Sample interval workout for badminton players on the bike.
Sample interval training

This includes a 6-7 minute warmup and then goes into the intervals. The red block in the beginning is 3 minutes, the oranges are 1 minute with 1-minute rest in between.

Want to learn more about how to warmup for a badminton game or training? Read our article here.

Ideally, you would do these on a machine where you can create or already have workouts like these. It is possible to do these workouts outside on your own and time the intervals with a watch, but you won’t be as consistent.

Plus, these intervals can hurt quite a bit 😉 A machine that holds you accountable also helps to complete the workout.

Cardio And Muscle Growth

A popular saying is, that too much cardio destroys muscle growth. Since badminton players need quite a bit of muscle in their legs for explosive movements, we need to answer this question. However, the answer isn’t exactly black and white.

Cardiovascular workouts primarily develop white muscle fibers, while traditional strength training, such as weight lifting, cultivates red muscle fibers. Red muscle fibers require more energy to activate, but they yield superior strength and power.

However, the relationship between cardio and muscle growth is more complex. Some believe that cardio workouts can inhibit muscle growth, but research presents mixed evidence (source). Some studies suggest that combining cardio and weight training in one workout might lead to reductions in strength and muscle size. Yet, other studies indicate that adding cardio to resistance training may not hinder these gains.

You should incorporate both into your training – but don’t overdo it. Doing 90 minutes of cardio and then doing another strength workout might not be the smartest option. Listen to your body and take rest days when needed.

Conclusion

Cardiovascular fitness is a key component of badminton performance. Incorporating cardio into your training regimen can help improve your endurance, speed up recovery, enhance agility, and maintain shot accuracy. So, if you’re serious about improving your badminton game, it’s time to embrace cardio training.

So, should you do cardio for badminton? Absolutely. But don’t forget to develop your racket skills and strength as well. With scientific research backing the importance of cardio in badminton, it’s clear that a well-rounded training regimen that also includes cardio can help you excel in this high-intensity sport.

FAQ About Badminton Cardio


Should I include cardio in my training schedule?

Yes, you should include some cardio training in your training schedule. It will boost your endurance and you will be less tired in the third set of a long game.

How often should I do cardio besides my normal badminton training?

We recommend two sessions per week. One big session of over an hour of light jogging or cycling, and some higher intensity cardio like intervals or rope skipping of about 30 minutes.

What is a good cardio workout for badminton players?

Cycling is a beautiful cardio workout for badminton players since it is very much a low-impact sport. But you can also do jogging, rope skipping, or rowing.

Sources

  1. Faude, O., Meyer, T., Rosenberger, F., Fries, M., Huber, G., & Kindermann, W. (2007). Physiological characteristics of badminton match play. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 100, 479-485. Link
  2. Deka, P., Berg, K., Harder, J., Batelaan, H., & McGrath, M. (2016). Oxygen cost and physiological responses of recreational badminton match play. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 57 6, 760-765. Link
  3. Tomaszewski, P., Kęska, A., Tkaczyk, J., Nowicki, D., & Sienkiewicz-Dianzenza, E. (2018). Somatic characteristics and motor fitness of elite and sub-elite Polish male badminton players. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 58 10, 1456-1464. Link
  4. LiveScience: Does Cardio Destroy the Building of Muscles?

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