Monday was my leg day, and after testing the out limits of my quadriceps weight bearing abilities, the last thing I wanted to do was to get on the stair stepper or treadmill and run. So I experimented with the incline and speed on the treadmill. I took my baseline heart both with a stop watch and the machine and it correlated well at around 68 beats per minutes (bpm). Then I started off at 3 degrees incline and at 2.5 miles per hour (mph) on the treadmill. With each change in the variables, I correlated the machine readout of my heart rate with my stopwatch, and they were actually quite comparable. I increased my incline sequentially by a few degrees, and increased my walking rate to 3 mph. at 15 degrees incline and 3 mph, my heart rate was persistently in the 130+ range. At 10 degrees, it was in the 120 range. So I varied the incline every 2-3 minutes, and kept the speed at a comfortable constant 3 mph for 40 minutes. At the end, my legs did not hurt, and I had a good cardio workout. It also did not seem as onerous as pushing myself hard on the treadmill or stair stepper for 30 minutes, and I achieved the same calculated calorie goal. For those who say that they don’t have 40 minutes to do this type of experiment, you can split it up into 2 20 minute sessions, one in the morning and the second at night. In fact, there is research that suggests splitting up cardio into 2 shorter sessions rather than 1 long session boosts your metabolic rate higher than just one session.
So sometimes I get out of work, and my legs just don’t want to cooperate in terms of running or doing significant cardiovascular work. So how to get my cardio in and keep my heart rate above 130 for one minute intervals at least 10 times? I find that if I try and grind it out by running fast on days like this, I get discouraged. Its not my heart rate and shortness of breath withe exercise that limits my running on days tike this, it my legs that just feel tight and fatigued. For example, every Tuesday I am in the clinic all day, on my feet seeing patients. I have been in practice for 25 years, and I see 50-60 patients on Tuesday. So my hack is when I get on the treadmill, I get my heart rate up by running slower on a steep incline, say 5-8 degrees at 4 mph. I usually cycle every 2 minutes, meaning I run at 4 mph at 8 degrees incline, then 4 mph at 1 degree for 2 minutes. I repeat this cycle for 40 minutes, and get a nice work-out. I vary the incline on how I feel. Usually, I will start off at 5 degrees incline, but as I run longer and feel better, I increase the incline on my higher intensity segments. Try it, it really does work.
I unfortunately have to agree that deadlifting is probably the most bang for the buck weight lifting maneuver. As much as I don’t like doing it, the move really improves my core and strengthens my upper body. As with most other type A personalities, I get addicted to the exercise easily, and try and pack on more weight in order to outdo myself. I think that why I tore my rotator cuff on the incline dumbbell press. So I try to think like a mature 56 year old and do reasonable weights. I learned a lot from listening to Pavel Tsatsouline, the chairman of StrongFirst. Pavel apparently introduced the west to the kettle bell training program. A few tricks I learned from him include gripping the bar really hard helps recruit muscles during a lift. Also concentrating on tightening the core muscles just prior to the actual lift seems to make the effort easier. He also mentions that the Russian powerlifters usually stick to 6 reps in order to build mass. There are a ton of videos on Youtube on deadlifting technique by Mark Rippetoe, Dan John, and Ed Coen. The one I think that is most informative for us normal sized folks is at the link by Mark Rippetoe.