Indoor Cycling

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There is no such thing as the best kind of exercise…but when it comes to cardiovascular training indoor cycling comes close.

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With a good instructor you’ll get an awesome cardio/aerobic workout helping you burn enormous amounts of calories, and that helps you control your weight and body fat. You will strengthen unarguably the most important muscle in your body; your heart. That’ll keep you alive. It will improve your lung capacity so you don’t get winded going up a couple of flights of stairs when an elevator is out.

There’s more benefits, too. Unlike a 1 mile (or longer run), cycling can incorporate anaerobic training. Anaerobic training uses different sources of energy and challenges the skeletal muscles of the legs and hips to a far greater degree than aerobic training is designed to. This builds true muscle tone and strength creating shape. And that shape also enhances your ability to generate more power to go longer distances at lower levels of intensity and to overcome obstacles like hills and rough terrain along the way, or going up those two flights of stairs with a couple of heavy grocery bags, too.

Spinning and other indoor cycling programs give you all these benefits. Running and other forms of aerobics can, as well, but because of the pounding impact of jogging, running, and other aerobic type classes you also dramatically increase your risks of injury.

You can find me at the new cycling boutique studio in Forest Hills: SUN CYCLE Studio Tuesdays at 6am and 6pm, and Saturday at noon and as always at New York Sports clubs in Forest Hills, Rego Park, and Manhattan locations at 38th & Broadway and 23rd & 8th. My schedule there has not changed.

Join me and all the other great instructors for a great indoor cycling ride.

Come get the ride of your life, and get in the shape you’ve dreamed about.

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Interesting…I love science

http://nyti.ms/13Emwi1

NYTimes: Is Barefoot-Style Running Best? New Studies Cast Doubt

Recent studies examining just how the body actually responds when we run in our birthday shoes or skimpy footwear suggest that for many people, running without shoes or in minimalist footwear does not make running easier, speedier or less injurious.

Reasons Not to Stretch – NYTimes.com

I’ve written about stretching numerous times, and the evidence has been steadily mounting against stretching as a warm-up modality prior to exercise, and these two real scientific studies add to that pile. The article is very well written and explains the studies clearly and why these studies are so compelling. The NY TIMES wellness blog continues its tradition of alternating excellent reporting with pointless and confusing filler; this piece being quite valuable. Read it.

This does not invalidate stretching as a legitimate form of exercise, however, and I’ll elaborate.

Almost all these studies; current and past; use real athletes as subjects. They are already well trained, fit, and lead an active lifestyle that helps keep their musculoskeletal system supple and more flexible than the average sedentary adult.

Inflexible muscles, muscular adhesions (muscles and connective tissue sticking together) and poor joint range of motion, can cumulatively impede your ability to move effectively and safely while exercising. Regular stretching can help alleviate and minimize these problems in many; if not most; cases.

So if you need to stretch, how do you incorporate it into your routine?

1. Stretch after your workout, never before.

2. If your muscles are super tight make stretching a separate workout altogether; do it on a day you aren’t doing any weight or cardio training.

3. Incorporate activities like vinyasa yoga or tai chi that focus on movement activities that force you to move through full ranges of motion.

4. Get deep tissue massage. It can really loosen you up. Again, only after a workout.

Read the post, linked below.
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/reasons-not-to-stretch/

Phys Ed: Can Pickle Juice Stop Muscle Cramps? – NYTimes.com

I’ve talked a number of times about the enduring mystery of muscle cramps. No real knowledge exists as to why they occur; only educated and uneducated guesses that have absolutely no research to rely on. Until now.

It’s been a highly accepted bit of exercise lore that pickle juice can reduce the duration of cramps, and I’ve suggested it to a number of clients and “spinners” over the years. Everyone assumes its the electrolytes, potassium and salt that helps, though I’ve repeatedly pointed out that the exercise science literature shows that perfectly hydrated people with excellent electrolyte profiles cramp with the same frequency as everyone else statistically.

Why it helps no one could say. Until now. Pickle juice has been specifically studied as to its efficacy in combatting cramps, and been found very effective. This, in and of itself, also gives compelling clues as to why muscles actually cramp, as well.

Of course, further studies need to be done. Read the interesting New York Times piece below.
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http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/phys-ed-can-pickle-juice-stop-muscle-cramps/

Our Bodies, Our Spreadsheets: Fitness Quants on Rampage

I record a variety of fitness related data, tho when I go on outdoor excursions my wife goes bus tic when I turn my iPhone on. My favorite apps for recording my activity are:

MapMyFitness

AllTrails

iMuscle

GymGoal 2

IBiker

Polar Beat

Our Bodies, Our Spreadsheets: Fitness Quants on Rampage

Sami Inkinen’s life is his data, and vice versa.

“I have to have the numbers,” says Inkinen, co-founder of the real estate website Trulia Inc. and a top-ranked amateur triathlete, as he wheels his $8,000 Orbea road bike to the starting line for a race in October.

Inkinen, who holds $52.6 million of Trulia shares after the company’s initial public offering last year, soon charged up Mount Diablo in California amid a pack of 600 on a brisk autumn Sunday. A black band around the chest monitored his heart as it sped to 156 beats a minute. Devices in a wheel hub measured his power output at 377 watts and his average speed at 13.4 miles an hour (21.6 kilometers). The data fed wirelessly into a computer on the handlebars so he could later upload his results to the website Strava and compare them against those of hundreds of other riders.

The 37-year-old Inkinen has been recording more than two dozen such variables for years, including sleep, mood and caffeine intake, seeking patterns he can exploit to improve his results in sports and business. Inkinen is part of an expanding universe of self-quantifiers who collect megabytes of personal data seeking an edge much like the devotees of quantitative analysis who transformed Wall Street.

There is a dark side even at some levels of amateur competition. Swimmers, runners, cyclists and triathletes have been penalized for using illegal performance-enhancing substances. In addition, one cyclist trying to post the fastest time on Strava for a route — laying claim to the virtual title “King of the Mountain” — crashed and died in California, according to a lawsuit against Strava.

Armstrong’s KOMs

Lance Armstrong, the world’s most prominent confessed doping cheat, competed on closely held Strava Inc.’s website until yesterday, based on recent updates to his Strava profile. He held more than 150 running-course records and King of the Mountain cycling rankings (known as KOMs) before they disappeared from his Strava page yesterday.

San Francisco-based Strava, which advertised on broadcasts of last year’s Tour de France, treats Armstrong as “just another member of the community,” says Chief Executive Officer Michael Horvath. Some Strava competitors urged banning Armstrong because of his doping.

Strava and rival sites such as MapMyRide, TrainingPeaks, Garmin Connect and dailymile tap into the psychological elements that make sports rewarding, says Ian Bogost, a game designer who teaches at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. They exploit people’s competitive instincts to get them to ride their bikes faster, or work harder.

Game Mechanics

“What is the medium- to long-term consequence of a social environment where everything is attached to direct feedback and immediate reward?” Bogost says. “I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m a bit afraid of it.”

He said he is particularly concerned that “the applications we’re getting are being built by people that have financial gain and leverage as their primary motivation.”

Game mechanics are appearing everywhere, a trend known as gamification. In Zynga Inc.’s FarmVille game, players tend virtual crops with their friends on Facebook. RedBrick Health Corp. encourages healthy behavior among client companies’ employees by setting up competitions and offering other incentives for losing weight, quitting smoking and avoiding health risks, according to the website.

Bogost created the hit computer game Cow Clicker in 2010 as a satire of FarmVille and other so-called social games. Players who click on an image of a cow once every six hours win more clicks. They can spend “mooney” on things like custom “premium” cows. He has since added a “Cowclickification” interface, allowing any website to install clickable cows and parody the phenomenon.

Fine Line

“These games are revealing the fact that we will do crazy things,” Bogost says. “The fact that we will do them for so little reward is just startling.” There is also a fine line between systems that are actually fun and “exploitationware,” which can manipulate people into playing boring games, behaving badly, or spending money, he says.

Kris Duggan founded and runs Badgeville, which calls itself “The No. 1 Gamification Platform.” The closely held Redwood City, California, company offers to help clients use game mechanics and other strategies to engage customers or employees more closely.

“If you use the right lever, it drives attention and engagement,” Duggan says. “There are probably some morality issues around how you apply these tools. I think people have to answer for themselves. The tools are highly effective.”

Tracking Gadgets

Amateur self-quants provide a ready market for electronic gadgets that make data-gathering easier. These include wristbands such as Larklife, Jawbone UP, Nike FuelBand and Fitbit Flex. For cyclists, Garmin Ltd. just introduced the $500 Edge 810 wireless, touch-screen, GPS-equipped bike computer, to collect data and provide navigation and weather forecasts. The devices enable anyone to gather, analyze and compare data in ways that were once available only to elite athletes.

For Sami Inkinen (pronounced SAH-me INK-in-en), these tools only complement a self-quantification effort that began more than a decade ago as hand-drawn notes on three-hole paper. He was earning a master’s degree at the Stanford Graduate School of Business near Palo Alto, California. Raised on a farm in Finland, Inkinen says he came to love data while studying for a master’s in engineering physics at Helsinki University of Technology.

“People like to talk about feelings and emotions, even when it relates to performance,” Inkinen says. “More often than not, there are biological fundamentals underneath it. If you can understand and measure that, then you can make pretty objective decisions about how to improve it.”

Mood Rating

Inkinen has a scatter-plot graph showing correlation between mood and athletic performance. The day he rode up the 3,200-foot (975-meter) Mount Diablo, he rated his mood at 4 on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 means “I’m ready to change the world,” he says. He generated the highest wattage at the lowest peak heart rate in the race, according to Strava, and finished eighth.

In his 27-column spreadsheet, Inkinen also notes meditation time, happiness, productivity, caloric intake, number of push- ups and other fitness activities. He says the data give him a unique ability to control circumstances, have helped him finish an Ironman triathlon in less than nine hours and contributed to the success of Trulia.

He has also annoyed his wife of two years, Meredith Loring, she says. The couple met through an online dating service, where Loring’s profile said she enjoyed running. She proved it on their second date, challenging him to a trail run that lasted more than three hours because neither would suggest stopping.

Mountain Queen

“As soon as we get home from a run, he is in his spreadsheet writing down all of the numbers,” says Loring, 33, a strategy consultant for health and wellness companies. She agreed to be interviewed during a nine-mile trail run through towering redwood trees in Muir Woods near San Francisco, where the couple lives.

Loring does upload her bicycle rides to Strava. She holds dozens of “Queen of the Mountain” titles, mostly on climbs around San Francisco. She says she likes the virtual racing because the pressures associated with organized events, such as getting to the race start on time, cause her anxiety.

Online competition makes cyclists ride more and try harder, says Bryan Borgia, co-founder of Topwater Capital Partners LLC in South Norwalk, Connecticut. Borgia, 36, became KOM last July on a segment south of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for example. He covered a 0.6-mile stretch of Route 1A in 66 seconds, beating hundreds of other riders.

“I can get myself to go pretty hard,” Borgia says. “But if it’s for Strava and I’m going out to beat someone, I’m probably going to go harder.”

Fatal Crash

William Flint was killed in June 2010 after his bike hit a car while he was riding a Strava KOM challenge in Tilden Park in Orinda, California, near San Francisco, according to a wrongful- death lawsuit his family filed against Strava in state court in San Francisco. Flint was trying “to regain his title” after another cyclist posted a time on Strava breaking Flint’s previous record for the ride, according to the lawsuit.

Strava failed to ensure that its challenges took place on safe courses and encouraged “dangerous behavior,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint. “Cyclists are encouraged to ‘tear it up’ on the road,” they said.

The company filed counterclaims alleging that when Flint became a website member in 2009 he electronically signed the site’s terms and conditions, indemnifying Strava and waiving any claims arising from use of the site. Flint was riding “recklessly” over the posted speed limit on the wrong side of the road, Strava said in court papers, and the company isn’t liable because the death resulted from Flint’s own negligence.

Hazard Flags

The company’s lawyers on Jan. 24 asked the court to dismiss its counterclaims without prejudice, meaning it can reinstitute them later. The court filings don’t give a reason why Strava dropped the claims. A trial is scheduled for July 1.

After the Flint accident, Strava made it possible for users to designate courses that may be hazardous, according to the company’s CEO, Horvath. Flagged routes — mostly descents — no longer feature leaderboards or KOMs. The ride Flint was taking is now in that category, according to the Strava website.

“It gives the community a tool to help determine what’s safe and what’s not,” Horvath says. “Too steep, too much traffic or road construction. Some users have shut down segments because there were ducks and squirrels along the path.” The company hasn’t been named a defendant in any other suits, Horvath says.

‘Bad Behavior’

Breathing hard, Jeff Howell, a data project manager, crests a popular 4.2-mile climb south of San Francisco and hits stop on his bike computer. Wearing Strava cycling jersey and shorts, he says he’s pleased to post his second-fastest time on the route. Another cyclist zips past without a helmet.

“I don’t see Strava inducing that kind of bad behavior,” Howell says. “You have to take responsibility for yourself and know your limits.”

At San Francisco-based Trulia, Inkinen’s fascination with data permeates the corporate culture, says Pete Flint, co- founder and CEO. The company surveys its 534 employees, known as “Trulians,” every three months using a “happiness index” that Inkinen created, Flint says.

There is lots of Inkinen lore at the company. Flint relates how in the early days the co-founders were Wednesday night regulars at a sushi restaurant. The order never changed: seaweed salad, sashimi, edamame and water.

“As soon as I started to mix things up, there was a revolt from Sami,” Flint says. Inkinen didn’t want a change in diet to affect the data he was monitoring on himself. For the same reason, Inkinen went through a spell of eating “the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner: a can of cold Progresso chicken soup,” Flint says.

‘Gun Show’

Inkinen’s competitive drive once spawned a push-up competition with several Trulia colleagues known as “the Gun Show” (in fitness circles, “guns” is slang for biceps). Over 22 days last June. Inkinen’s spreadsheet shows that he knocked out 100 push-ups on 20 of those days. When he managed just 50 one day, he added pull-ups to make up the difference. And on the single day when he did none, he rode his bike 105 miles. But that isn’t the whole story, says his wife, Loring.

“One guy beat Sami one day, so he started doing push-ups in every area,” she says. “Every hour, he would just drop and do push-ups wherever we were.” That included a Safeway parking lot. “This is my husband,” she says.

Inkinen is convinced his data holds important clues. As he was learning English, according to Ken Shuman, Trulia’s communications chief, he would occasionally forget such simple words as “banana.” Digging through his charts, he linked a lack of sleep to the forgetfulness, Shuman says. Inkinen confirms the story.

‘Fitter, Faster’

The data let him down after the Mount Diablo ride in California, however. Inkinen was using the race as a final warm- up for his sixth appearance in the Ironman World Championship six days later in Hawaii. Comparing his Mount Diablo data from October with results a year earlier, he was confident he would be able to complete the Ironman in less than 9 hours again.

“Going in, I was fitter and faster than ever,” he says.

He had plenty of reasons for confidence. Two months earlier, he won the amateur title in an Ironman race in Sweden, finishing in just over 8 hours, 24 minutes and winning a Strava KOM for the bicycling portion. Then he and Loring took a seven- day cycling trip through the Alps. In September, Inkinen competed in a half-Ironman in Las Vegas, where the temperatures exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) on the course.

‘Ridiculously Tired’

As the Hawaii Ironman began, Inkinen was the amateur favorite, according to the event’s website. He was in first place among amateurs after the 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bicycle stage, and he retained the lead through the first half of the 26.2-mile running portion. That is when his brain told him something that his data didn’t.

“I just started feeling ridiculously tired,” Inkinen says. He did what Ironman competitors typically resist at all costs. He stopped and dropped out of the race.

In endurance competition, the brain is the “central governor,” according to Tim Noakes, a professor of exercise and sports science at South Africa’s University of Cape Town. In his book, “Lore of Running,” he writes that exhaustion reflects changes in brain commands to the muscles rather than changes in the muscles themselves.

Afterward, Inkinen reviewed his data in search of an explanation. He says it may lie in a viral infection he had between the events in Sweden and Las Vegas. While he was ill, his resting heart rate rose 20 percent to 46 beats a minute from 38, according to the spreadsheet.

‘Business Decision’

During the race in Hawaii, “my body or brain or both refused to continue to work,” Inkinen says. “It doesn’t matter if the device on your wrist says you can go; your brain stops you. If you were able to override it, you would maybe do permanent damage or maybe kill yourself.”

Inkinen’s central motivation “is improvement, not winning,” he says. And he cites another reason for dropping out. Eighteen days after the Ironman, Inkinen was set to compete in the 161-mile La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain-bike race across Costa Rica.

“‘I didn’t want to end up in the hospital and miss that trip,” he said. “I made a business decision.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau; Aaron Kuriloff in New York at akuriloff.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup

Find out more about Bloomberg for iPhone: http://m.bloomberg.com/iphone/

Body Building: beyond aesthetics

I’ve been lost with my workouts lately.  I haven’t had a clear-cut goal, instead basing my workouts on  general health, some notion of (obsolete) athletic needs, and boredom.  Without some competitive outlet, I find my workouts to be aimless and somewhat pointless.  General health and fitness is so uninspiring to me.  None of these has kept me training at the level of consistency and intensity I ought to be maintaining for both optimal physical fitness and professional reasons.

Since I really don’t pursue any specific athletic avocations at this point in my life, training athletically is not only pointless, but also counter productive considering the physical impairments I keep exacerbating: sciatica, arthritic pain in my ankle and left hand digits, shoulder pain from years of over-use and abuse, to name a few.

The level of exercise I need to accomplish to maintain general health is likewise so easy for me to achieve I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything.

And boredom leads to demotivation and general lack of interest in my own personal fitness.

To remedy this I’m going to begin a good, old school, body building routine.  Nothing fancy.

Nothing overly athletic or complex.  Just basic body building and strength training, done with gradually increasing intensity over a period of weeks.  I’ll target different parts of my body on different days, using a three-day split routine.  The same exercises every week till I reach a strength and development plateau, and then I’ll redesign the routine to reach a new plateau, and so on.  The goal is simple: get specifically strong in certain exercises, and to generally strengthen every skeletal muscle as much as possible.  In addition to my other posts, I will log these workouts here, and post them, so that all my readers can see what I’ll be doing, and the challenges that I either overcome or succumb to, just like everyone else in the exercise community.

My split will be as follows:

  1. Chest & Back Monday and Thursday (DB bench press, Incline DB press, cable fly’s, Pull-ups, cable rows/long pull, cable high row)
  2. Lower Extremities Tuesday and Friday (squats, dead lifts, jump step ups, leg extension, prone leg curl)
  3. Shoulder, Arms, cardio Saturday (standing military press, db lateral raise, Standing e-z bar biceps curl, db incline biceps curl, dips, cable triceps pulldown, spin 30-45 minutes)

Light to moderate cardio will also be done on chest and back days, depending on energy levels, and on any other day energy, motivation, and time permit.  Abdominal and core work will be done at the end of every workout, depending on soreness.

Hopefully, you will find this log of my own workouts to be motivating, and heartening to see that we all face similar challenges, regardless of which direction we come from in this exercise community of ours.

Superior Training Tactics

There are so many fitness fads these days it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all, but it’s my profession, after all and I’m going to go through a number of the more popular ones after talking about why these fads and scams keep coming back.

Over the last 30 years, the general exercising public and competitive athletes have been on separate training trajectories. Prior to the 1980s, most athletes didn’t spend a lot of time in the gym lifting weights. Tennis players played tennis, did tennis drills on the court to practice strokes, footwork, and techniques, and maybe did some cardio work to improve aerobic capacity, but none hit the weight room. They were afraid it would make them bulky, slower, less agile, and muscle-bound. Basketball and baseball players followed the same logic. So did track and field runners. a marathoner ran miles and sprinters did wind sprints and middle distance sprints. Maybe shot putters lifted weights as that has a strong strength component, but that’s about it. NFL linemen, linebackers, and running backs always lifted weights, but the “finesse” positions of Quarterback, wide receiver, corner backs, punters and kickers, almost certainly did not.

Meanwhile, the gym industry started its major growth faze, with Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s https://i0.wp.com/assets.schwarzenegger.com/uploads/images/index/Arnold-Classic56.pngrising star leading the way, picking up the baton Jack LaLanne started with in the 1950’s and 1960’s.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/64/Jack_LaLanne_51b.jpg/220px-Jack_LaLanne_51b.jpg

These men were about physical fitness and; LaLanne especially; physical health and well-being. They might’ve performed athletic events (Schwarzenegger was a competitive power lifter before he became a body building champion, and LaLanne performed feats of strength and athleticism to highlight what physical fitness made possible. Interestingly, when Arnold was 19 he participated in a publicity strength challenge against 54-year-old LaLanne and LaLanne kicked Arnold’s ass!

Unfortunately, there were few female icons involved at this stage. LaLanne tailored his pioneering TV show to housewives, and did frequently showcase his wife. As a matter of fact the most popular professional female body builder of the 1970s and early 1980s was Rachel McLish, but the vast majority of female gym goers thought she was way to muscular and unfeminine to be considered a role model. To male body builders, she was hotter than a Playboy Playmate.

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I think today, she would be almost considered perfect. Back then, most women recoiled in horror at her overly muscular physique! Click on her picture to see even more of this “unfeminine” woman (I always thought she was a true ideal)

Getting back to the point, with these two men as the inspiration, Americans started going to the gym in increasing numbers and lifted weights. Around this time another pioneer, Dr. Kenneth Cooper (Cooper Aerobics Center)of the US Air force published studies he did on servicemen showing the benefits and importance of cardiovascular fitness. He is called the father of Aerobics, and in fact coined the term “Aerobics” in the first place. A number of books by runners came out and the running boom began. This was all serious training. Logging long hours doing miles of running and hitting the gym to lift serious weights (subjective to the individual, of course) and this was work.

The problem was, most people don’t want to do hard physical work, and like any business, the fitness industry wanted to make more money, and that required more bodies in the gym. How do you make grueling, dedicated hard work fun?

Enter the age of recreational fitness, and STEP and Jazzercize were its first and second offspring. Originally, step was a very good workout, and very aerobic, as the choreography was simple and required very little skill to master. You made it harder by increasing the number of risers, and by moving faster. But slowly, creative impulses and waning attendance demanded change to keep the masses coming back. Choreography became more dance like (fun), more complicated, and required increasing levels of skill to perform without pause. Eventually, as much of the class time was spent watching and learning intricate choreography as actually moving vigorously. The class would be standing still the instructor breaking down the moves in slow motion, then having the class perform the single move back repeatedly, then learning another step, and so on, as if they were getting ready to put on a dance show. Half the hour is spent doing nothing physical at all, and steps had to be much lower to perform the complicated choreography.

Moving forward in time, athletes and their coaches started realizing that being physically stronger enhanced just about every athletic endeavor, and they slowly but surely incorporated traditional strength training into all their routines. Even the best swimmers now spend hours every week lifting weights to get physically stronger.

Meanwhile, in the consumer health club, men were dropping out of organized group fitness classes faster than raindrops fall during a tropical storm, and everyone who remained noticed they weren’t losing weight anymore. The public, looking at their athletic heroes, noticed how hard the athletes bodies looked and concluded it was all that athletic training that the athletes did, and group exercise classes got a second wind. Members started participating in all kinds of sports conditioning type classes; boxing, kickboxing, cardio kick boxing, sports conditioning, yoga, ballet workouts, P90X, Crossfit™, TRX™; while the athletes themselves spent ever greater time lifting boring old weights. Click on either Crossfit or P90X above to read a journal article about the research, but here’s the conclusion of the study:

In summary, though ECPs (extreme conditioning programs) such as CrossFit and P90X are very popular, this popularity does not appear to be warranted. There is little evidence from peer-reviewed studies that ECPs are safe and/or effective, particularly when compared to established training programs documented to improve military task performance. Though much more research needs to be conducted, ECPs do not seem, at this time, to represent training programs likely to improve military readiness.by Guy Leahy, Med, CSCS,*D

Club members aren’t looking any fitter, by and large, but are, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning and the Journal of the American Medical Association dealing much higher frequencies of exercise related injuries. Athletic Performance has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with winning at all costs. Is this your goal? Is this important to you? Have you even thought about it?

Ask yourself why you go to the gym. Is it to get healthy, fit and strong, and to improve your appearance? Is it to improve your athletic performance in competitive or recreational sports? Is it recreational for you, in and of itself? All are valid, as far as I’m concerned, but you must be willing to match your reason to your method.

In conclusion,

If you’re trying to get healthy, fit, and strong to improve the quality of your life, be careful about’ training athletically! You will get hurt. Repeatedly. and 10, 15, or 20 years later you will feel every one of those injuries for the rest of your days. If you’re training because you’re a recreational or competitive athlete, make sure you pick a training style that transfers well to your sport of choice, and lift weights to enhance your physical abilities and reduce your risk of injury because you have a strong musculoskeletal foundation that can better withstand the stresses of athletics. If going to the gym is, in fact, your favorite form of recreation and entertainment, in and of itself, make sure you have a daily plan that minimizes your risk of injury so that you can continue for the long-term. Overtraining and improper form from overly complicated skill drills will have you convalescing at home far to frequently otherwise.

 

 

Advanced Heart Rate Training for muscular conditioning

I gave a workshop to some trainers today.  I showed them the following training technique, and thought some of my blog followers might find it challenging and rewarding to try.  Some of my current and recent clients have gone through differing versions of it, and they should feel free to give their honest appraisal if they are paying attention to all my blog posts.  You know who you are, out there…

So when reading this, remember that wherever I write client, that would refer to YOU.  Feel free to ask questions, and if any trainers want to use it I just ask that you credit me and refer those clients to my blog.

Enjoy.

 

Advanced Heart Rate Training for MusculoSkeletal Conditioning

  1. What is it?
    A. Results Oriented Training

    1. Get a heart rate monitor: Stop guessing if the client is working out hard
    2. Get the de-conditioned client in shape first, then add athletics/athletic movements
    3. Build the client up slowly

    B. Determining where to start

    1. Discover true resting heart rate and exercise zones using Karvonen formula (220 – age – RHR x 60% & 85%, adding RHR back in to both ranges)
    2. Don’t forget about Rate of Perceived Exertion, especially with beginners
    3. The truth about max heart rate: (it’s not really age predicted; get a stress test to determine your true max heart rate)
    4. It is helpful if you do strength assessments beforehand to determine starting points in major exercises
  2. How to begin
    A. Have the client wear a heart rate monitor for the entire session

    1. Warm up the client to get them to 60% THRZ
    2. Focus on major muscle groups and compound (multi-joint) movements. Set up a Circuit of weight lifting activities, always alternating lower and upper muscle groups, or opposing muscle groups, one after the other (4 or more exercises strung together; the more activities, the greater the overall intensity becomes).  Don’t add too many exercises to the circuit as the time between body parts is resting the muscle(s), and too much rest is counter productive
  1. Monitoring heart rate, push the client through the circuit until their heart rate (or perceived exertion) hits or just exceeds 85% of max, allow recovery until 60% THRZ is approached (do not allow the client to fall below 60%)
  2. For the de-conditioned individual, rate of perceived exertion might take initial precedence, as their tolerance to intensity might be lower
  3. For the conditioned client, you can eventually push well above 85% THRZ, and you can manipulate their low-end to higher percentages as their tolerance improves. Continue to ask how they feel; perceived exertion is never ignored

B. Never sacrifice form for speed. We are not training competitive athletes, and this is not an athletic or recreational event

  1. Our clients are mostly out of shape and/or middle-aged
  2. Allow water breaks as needed
  3. If doing multiple circuits start more complex movements and add less complex movements to subsequent circuits as fatigue sets in
  4. Don’t be afraid to improvise and modify on the go if the client is having trouble with a movement or the club gets busy and equipment becomes un-available (know your movement exercises and the closest equivalents if you have to modify)

III. Conclusion

  1. Keep it simple. Train what you really know. Don’t pretend to be an expert. Brain surgeons don’t perform heart surgery, orthopedic surgeons don’t perform brain surgery, and I don’t teach boxing (because I’m not a boxer). Stay within your knowledge base and make your clients work.
  2. This protocol will radically improve cardiovascular fitness and aerobic capacity.
  3. It will promote extreme weight loss (if diet is under control)
  4. It will promote intense muscular conditioning, developing lean muscular physiques
  1. This routine follows the GAS principle (general adaptation syndrome). It improves general overall fitness (muscular conditioning, aerobic and cardiovascular capacity) but does not improve specific activities like running or cycling (SAID principle: specific adaptation to imposed demands).
  2. This program is an exercise protocol, not an athletic event or recreational activity. Know the difference. 

    a.  It is meant to improve the body’s ability to tolerate those activities. Tennis players strength and cardio train. Football players strength and cardio train. Baseball players and hockey players and soccer players and basketball players and olympic gymnasts all strength and cardio train. 

    b.  If you want to train like an athlete, you can’t cherry pick. Weight and cardio training will reduce your risk of getting an injury from athletic training. And don’t complain when you get hurt while doing athletic training, even if you do the prerequisite and requisite strength and cardio training. Athletic training is a very high risk activity.

Here is a sample routine to follow:

Squats/Pull Ups or Bent over dumbbell rows/walking lunges or jump lunges/ push ups

4-6 sets, 10-20 reps each exercise, done in sequence with no or minimal rest time between exercises, except as indicated by a heart rate monitor and staying within 60-85% TMHR (theoretical max heart rate).  If the high target zone is exceeded, allow rest to occur without allowing HR to drop below 60% (resume at 65%).  Pick up the circuit where you left off, and continue until the next rest is required.

By Scott Salbo, AHRT systems
Physio-Active Response Training (PART

Let’s get back to work outs

One of my favorite exercise blogs is by Nick Tumminello.  I’ve taken a number of workshops given by him at various fitness conferences and enjoy his down to earth no-nonsense approach.  He makes it clear what we, as trainers, are often not doing what we are supposed to be doing: getting our clients in better physical shape and condition.  Instead, we follow gimmicks and fads in the mistaken attempt to entertain our clients.  I’ve often looked around my gym and wondered are we recreational camp counselors for adults or physical exercise specialists?  I suppose each individual trainer has to decide for themselves, but i don’t think most realize there is any difference, just like most gym goers don’t give much thought to what they are trying to accomplish by going to the gym in the first place.  It’s all just becoming another form of entertainment.  I always worked out for three reasons:

1) Be attractive to members of the opposite sex

2) Improve my athletic performance in a number of sports

3) Improve my sense of self-esteem

The idea of exercising, in and of itself, as a form of entertainment, never made sense to me.  I wanted to get in the most intense workout I could tolerate to get the eventual results I was aiming for in the shortest amount of time necessary and then go out and do something like play basketball, racquetball, or go rock climbing.  The only reason I’d hang out in a gym any longer than necessary would be if I was flirting with someone!

I digress.  The reason I wanted to remind you about Nick Tumminello is because he wrote a really good piece on the common exercise mistake of resting too long between sets.  You should read it here.

Don’t forget, your methods have to match your goals every time you train.  If you keep changing your routine, or your training protocols, you’ll never get anywhere with your fitness goals.