Huberman Sugarcane Endurance Protocol: Recommendations & Tips

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The sugarcane endurance protocol is an intense yet time-efficient cardiovascular workout designed to boost VO2 max and anaerobic capacity.

Originally developed by expert trainer Kenny Cain and popularized by Professor Andrew Huberman and Dr. Andy Galpin, this brutal but effective high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine only takes around 15 minutes but can lead to major fitness gains.

In this post, we will show you how to get started with the sugarcane endurance protocol and help you decide whether it’s right for you.

Our Top Sugarcane Protocol Picks
Large HIIT Workout Timer: BTBSIGN LED
Portable Workout Timer: Gymboss

Key Takeaway:

RoundDescription
Warm-Up3-5 min light jog, jumping jacks, skipping rope
Round 1Sprint 2 min, max distance possible
Rest2 min rest
Round 2Match Round 1 distance, take as much time as needed
Rest2 min rest
Round 3Sprint for Round 2 duration, try to exceed Round 1 distance
Cool-Down5-10 min light jog/walking

Keep in mind you can use any type of exercise with this protocol.

Feel free to replace jogging, sprinting, and jump rope with cycling, rowing, swimming, etc.

Understanding The Sugarcane Endurance Workout

The sugarcane protocol is a form of HIIT training that pushes your cardiovascular system to the limit through three intense workout rounds.

It improves cardiovascular endurance and VO2 max by requiring maximum effort sprints while allowing brief recovery periods.

This workout is named after its creator, trainer Kenny Cain.

It’s an efficient yet challenging way to increase cardiovascular output and enhance overall cardiovascular fitness.

Related: Andrew Huberman’s Complete Preworkout Supplement Recommendation

How The Sugarcane Endurance Protocol Works

Man performing a round of the sugarcane endurance workout

To perform the sugarcane endurance workout, you’ll need to choose an exercise you can safely do at high intensity.

Popular options include:

  • Stationary or road cycling
  • Running or sprinting
  • Rowing machine
  • Versaclimber

The key is picking a workout you can sprint with that matches your fitness level. It should be an exercise you can push close to your maximum effort.

The workout itself involves only 3 main rounds:

Round 1: Sprint for 2 minutes, going the farthest distance possible. Note your distance.

Round 2: Match the distance from Round 1, taking as much time as needed. Note your time.

Round 3: Sprint for the duration of Round 2, trying to exceed the Round 1 distance.

Rest for 2 minutes between each round.

Warm up for 3-5 minutes beforehand and cool down afterward.

Portable Workout Timer
03/01/2024 04:47 am GMT

Related: CO2 Tolerance Test: A Comprehensive Guide

Frequency For The Sugarcane Protocol

Due to its demanding nature, the sugarcane protocol is best done only once every 2-4 weeks. It can replace your regular HIIT sessions periodically for intense cardiovascular stimulation.

Don’t do this workout more than once a week, as it requires maximum effort.

The brutal nature of the sugarcane endurance protocol requires rest days for full recovery.

Related: Andrew Huberman Tongkat Ali: Complete Guide

Why The Sugarcane Workout Is So Effective

Man sprinting for the sugarcane endurance protocol

This HIIT protocol offers many benefits:

  • Increases VO2 Max: The sustained maximum-effort rounds enhance VO2 max, which measures cardiovascular endurance.
  • Boosts Cardiovascular Capacity: Requiring all-out sprints taxes your cardiovascular system, expanding its capabilities.
  • Gamification: Trying to beat each round taps into your competitive drive for extra motivation and helps you build a habit
  • Progress Tracking: Noting times/distances lets you monitor improvements over time.

The intense anaerobic nature of this workout produces rapid fitness gains in a brief timeframe. It’s an efficient way to build cardiovascular endurance.

Related: Joe Rogan Jaw Exercise: Recommendation & Rationale

Optimizing The Protocol For Continued Adaptation

To keep improving with this workout format:

  • Increase the distance covered in Round 1.
  • Add additional rounds (4th round = match Round 3 distance, 5th round = exceed Round 3 distance in same time).
  • Reduce rest intervals as cardio capacity increases.

Monitoring performance lets you customize the workout to spur further adaptation as your fitness level rises.

Common Questions About The Sugarcane Protocol

Woman doing the sugarcane exercise during crossfit outside

Some misunderstandings about how this protocol is structured can arise.

To maximize its effectiveness:

  • Round 2 should match your effort from Round 1, not slacken intensity.
  • This ensures Round 3 remains maximally challenging.
  • Put full effort into all rounds for optimal training stimulus.

User Impressions Of The Sugarcane Cardio Protocol

This intense HIIT workout has developed a cult following among endurance athletes.

User reviews highlight rapid increases in VO2 max, cardiovascular endurance, and anaerobic capabilities:

“I hated every minute of the sugarcane workout, but saw huge improvements in my running pace and endurance after just a month of biweekly sessions.”

“My rowing machine times shot up after incorporating the sugarcane protocol into my training just twice a month.”

“Such a simple yet painful workout structure. My cycling power output is way higher from pushing myself during the sugarcane sprints.”

The sugarcane endurance protocol only takes 15 minutes but delivers a maximum intensity cardiovascular workout.

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About the Author

Drew Wilkins is a fitness and nutrition expert with a Master's in Biokinesiology (emphasis in Sports Science) from the University of Southern California and over a decade of experience as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and wellness coach. An avid surfer and soccer player, he brings a unique perspective to his research, advocating for a balanced approach to health that includes physical fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.

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