Do You Need a Heart Rate Monitor?
All maximum heart rate formulae are based on averages. They can be used to help you plan and monitor your exercise program, but they should not be interpreted as absolute limits or goals. Your maximum heart rate may differ from these averages. Whether you are a competitive athlete or an ordinary exerciser, you really do not need a heart rate monitor.
Extensive research shows that compared to casual exercise, intense exercise:
• makes you a better athlete by helping you to be stronger, faster and have greater endurance and
• helps you to live longer by reducing your chances of developing cancers, diabetes, heart attacks, and other diseases.
However, if you exercise too intensely, too long, or too often, you increase your chances of injuring yourself. If you have irregular heartbeats or blocked arteries leading to your heart, you can suffer a heart attack from exercising too intensely. So how can you tell how intensely you should exercise?
The Breathing Guide
After warming up, you can do a series of surges in which you exercise up to the point where you start to breathe very hard. Then slow down and when you have recovered your breath and your muscles feel fresh, pick up the pace again. Alternate faster and slower periods until your muscles start to feel heavy, and then stop the workout.
The Burning Muscle Guide
Two or three times a week, you can start out slowly and then pick up the pace until your muscles start to burn or feel heavy, slow down immediately, wait for complete recovery of your muscles, and then pick up the pace again. Repeat until your muscles feel heavy and then stop the workout.
Your Heart Rate as a Guide
Many exercisers like to use a heart rate monitor to guide intensity of exercise because it gives them actual numbers that they can follow. Many exercise programs and tests to measure heart function are based on the formula MAXIMUM HEART RATE = 220 – age. This is supposed to predict the fastest your heart can beat and still pump blood through your body. Although this formula is the standard used today, it is not dependable for everyone and it does not apply to very fit people.
Why the Standard Maximum Heart Rate Formula is Wrong
As you age, your maximum heart rate slows down. The standard maximum heart rate formula is supposed to help you predict what your heart rate should be based on your age, but it should not be used by athletes and is not even accurate for people who are not fit.
The formula was first proposed by Dr. Sam Fox, one of the most respected heart specialists in the world. In the 1960s, he was very helpful to me when I was competing in, planning and setting up running programs. In 1970 he was the director of the United States Public Health Service Program to Prevent Heart Disease. He and a young researcher named William Haskell were flying to a meeting. They put together several studies comparing maximum heart rate and age. Fox took out a pencil and plotted a graph of age versus maximum heart rate and noticed that maximum heart rate appeared to be equal to 220 minus a person’s age. They reported this observation, and ever since then, the formula has been taught in physical education courses and is used to test heart function and athletic fitness and to plan workouts.
The formula is wrong because your legs drive your heart rate; your heart does not drive your legs. Maximum heart rate depends on the strength of your legs, and to a lesser extent, on the strength of your heart. When you contract your leg muscles, they squeeze against the blood vessels near them to pump blood from your leg veins toward your heart. When your leg muscles relax, your leg veins fill with blood, so your leg muscles pump increased amounts of blood toward your heart. This increased blood fills the heart and causes your heart to beat faster and with more force. This is called the Bainbridge reflex. The stronger your legs, the more blood they can pump. An athlete’s heart is stronger than that of a non-athlete, and a stronger heart can pump more blood with each beat, so the maximum heart rate is likely to be lower in an athlete than in a non-athlete.
The Search for a Better Formula
A study of 43 different formulae for maximum heart rate concluded that “No acceptable formula currently existed” (Journal of Exercise Physiology, 2002;5 (2): 1-10). The formula that fit age better than others is: HRmax = 205.8 – (0.685 x age). It has a standard deviation that is 6.4 beats per minute, which is very large.
Another study from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan showed that the standard maximum heart rate formula overestimated the maximum heart rate for younger exercisers and underestimated the maximum rate for older ones (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, May 2007).
Maximum Heart Rate is Lower in Athletes
A study from Liverpool, England showed that the maximum heart rate for athletes is usually lower than for aged-matched sedentary people. The maximum heart rate of male athletes was calculated to be 202 – (0.55 x age), and for female athletes, 216 – (1.09 x age). At first glance, this makes no sense because you would think that the faster your heart can beat, the more blood your heart could pump and the better an athlete you would be. However, a stronger heart pumps more blood with each beat, so stronger hearts don’t have to beat as often. Both weight lifters and runners had similar maximum heart rates, which were significantly lower than those of the age-matched sedentary people. The athletes have hearts that can pump more blood with each beat than the hearts of sedentary people, so they do not have to beat as often (International Journal of Sports Medicine, January 2008).
This means that as you become more fit, your maximum heart rate may go lower, not higher. Virtually everyone agrees that heart rate depends primarily on the amount of blood pumped toward it by exercising muscles (Bainbridge reflex). We know this is true because we are able to transplant hearts. If nerves to the heart primarily regulated heart rate, the heart would not be able to control its rate of beating since the nerves are cut during the transplant.
Use Your Recovery Heart Rate to Measure Fitness
If you want to use numbers to chart your progress in your exercise program, use your recovery heart rate instead of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is never used to measure fitness. A person with a failing fluttering heart can have a heart rate of 300 beats a minute. Researchers measure fitness by how fast your heart rate recovers one minute after maximum exercise. A healthy person’s heart rate drops about 20 beats in one minute after all-out exercise, while fit athletes’ heart rates can drop more than 50 beats in one minute. People whose one-minute recovery heart rate dropped less than 12 beats were four times as likely to die in the next six years, compared with those whose heart rates dropped by 13 or more beats (Circulation, 1996; 93: 1520-1526).
What Does This Mean For You?
If you are an athlete who trains for competition, you don’t need a heart rate monitor unless you are obsessed with numbers. All you have to do is a program of interval workouts: two or three times a week, do a series of hard intervals in which you get short of breath, rest to recover, and repeat these intervals until your muscles start to feel heavy. For the rest of your week, try to do a lot of mileage at less than maximum effort.
If you are a non-competitive exerciser, you don’t need a heart rate monitor either. First make sure that you have a healthy heart. Then try to do intervals two or three times week. Start out slowly and then pick up the pace until you feel burning in your muscles or you are breathing harder than usual. Then slow down until you have recovered completely. Alternate faster bursts and recoveries until your muscles start to feel heavy and then stop for the day. On the other days, go at a casual and easy pace.
Caution: Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or increasing the intensity of your existing program.
Lactic Acid is Good for You: Why Everyone with a Healthy Heart Should Do Interval Exercise
Athletes use interval training to make themselves faster and stronger, and everyone with a healthy heart can benefit from this technique. A typical interval workout for non-competitive exercisers would be a session of jogging, walking or cycling in which they:
• Warm up by moving slowly for about 10 minutes,
• Pick up the pace until they feel a slight burning in their muscles (this usually takes 10-20 seconds),
• Slow down as soon as they feel this muscle burning, and go slowly until the burning is gone and breathing is back to normal.
• Alternate picking up the pace for 10-20 seconds and slowing down until they have recovered, then cool down and stop the workout whenever their muscles start to feel tight or tired.
A fit person should be able to do between 10 and 20 repetitions of these 10-20 second bursts in a single workout. For non-athletes, these intervals do not have to be done at 100 percent effort; 60 to 80 percent effort is sufficient. People in good shape can often work up to 50 or more of these short intervals before their legs tire.
The burning can come from acidity caused by a buildup of lactic acid in muscles, and accumulating lactic acid in your muscles makes you more fit, can help to prevent diseases and may even prolong your life.
Intervals to Increase Endurance
When you exercise, your muscles burn sugar, fat or protein in the presence of oxygen to produce energy. If you exercise so intensely that you become very short of breath and your muscles can’t get enough oxygen, lactic acid accumulates in your muscle fibers. An older disproved theory was that lactic acid interferes with a muscle’s ability to contract, so you feel tired. However, more recent research shows that muscles contract more efficiently when lactic acid accumulates in them (Science, August 26, 2004).
Electric currents cause muscles to contract. This electricity is generated by cell membranes causing potassium to move inside cells and chloride ions to stay outside. With vigorous exercise, potassium ions accumulate outside cells. When large amounts of potassium ions accumulate outside cells, electricity is not generated and the cells cannot contract. Another ion called chloride accumulates outside cells and prevents potassium from getting back inside cells. Lactic acid removes the chloride, so it is easier for potassium to get back inside cells. Lactic acid increases the ratio of potassium inside cells to the amount outside, and this helps the muscle contract with more efficiency.
Interval training teaches your muscles and liver to use lactate for energy much faster than just doing continuous training (Am J Physiol, 1983;244:E83-E92). The faster you can use up lactic acid,
• the more quickly you relieve the acid burning in muscles that slows you down, and
• the faster you can go because lactate requires less oxygen than even sugar does.
Interval training has been used in all endurance sports since the 1920s. George Brooks of the University of California at Berkeley showed why interval training can increase endurance (Am J Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, June 2006). A major fuel for your muscles during exercise is glucose (a sugar). In a series of chemical reactions, glucose is broken down step by step, with each step releasing energy. When enough oxygen is available, the glucose releases all of its energy until only carbon dioxide and water remain; these are blown off through your lungs. However, if you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need, the chemical reactions stop at lactic acid which accumulates in the muscles and spills over into the bloodstream. Lactic acid makes muscles acidic and causes a burning feeling that forces you to slow down. Thus lactic acid helps to prevent severe muscle damage by slowing you down when you run low on oxygen.
When you slow down after each intense interval, you catch up on your oxygen debt, and your body uses lactic acid as its most efficient source of energy for muscles. Muscles require less oxygen to turn lactic acid into energy. When your muscles produce lots of lactic acid, they can use this chemical for energy. This allows you to move faster and stronger for longer periods of time (Sports Medicine, 2006;36(4):279-91). Anything that helps muscles to break down lactic acid faster will increase your endurance and allow you to move faster when you are tired (Fed Proc, 1986;45:2924-2929). Lactic acid can also be used by your liver to make even more sugar to feed your muscles during exercise.
Intervals to Make You Stronger
You cannot enlarge a muscle and make it stronger unless you damage muscle fibers at their Z-lineswith vigorous exercise. When the muscles heal, they become larger and stronger. Interval training allows you to exercise more intensely than continuous training and therefore gives you a stronger training effect by causing more muscle fiber Z-line damage that results in increased strength and greater oxygen debts that give you greater endurance. You can tell that you are damaging muscle fibers because the muscle feels sore the next day (delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS).
How Intervals Help to Prevent Disease and Prolong Your Life
A regular exercise program helps to prevent diabetes, heart attacks, and cancers. Interval training can make your exercise program even more effective because it helps to lower high blood sugar better than continuous training by making cells far more sensitive to insulin (Int J Sports Med, 2015;36:209-14).
Vigorous exercise also increases the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in your muscle cells (Sci Rep, Jun 23, 2017;7(1):4191). All of the cells in your body (except mature red blood cells) have anywhere from a few to thousands of organelles, called mitochondria, that turn the food that you eat into energy. Muscle cells need a lot of energy so they have lots of mitochondria. Nerves don’t need a lot of energy to transmit messages so they need only a few mitochondria. When you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need and you become short of breath, you increase the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in cells everywhere in your body (J Physiol, 2010 Mar 15; 588(Pt 6): 1011-1022). Accumulating evidence shows that this helps to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers. It helps to explain why exercise may increase memory and nerve function. Exercise also helps to reduce the loss of mitochondria in cells that occurs naturally with aging (J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2006;61(6)534-540; Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, April 2007). See More Mitochondria for Better Athletes
If you have not been exercising regularly, spend several weeks exercising at a casual pace. Try to exercise every day and exercise until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt and then stop for the day. You may go for five minutes on one day, and have to take the next day off because your muscles feel sore. You may have a progression of five minutes on one day, then zero on the next day, then 10 minutes, then three minutes. Gradually you should be able to work up to being able to exercise casually for 30 minutes every day and not feel sore. Then you should be able to start your interval workouts. Start out with just a few of the 10-20 second pick-ups and gradually work up to ten or more repetitions.
Join me for 4 weeks
10,000 Swing Challenge
If you never test yourself, you’ll never truly know what you’re capable of.
There is a time and a place for comfort zones, but the real achievements,
progress and magic happens when you push your boundaries
This kettlebell challenge will:
Teach you how to pace yourself
Help you find your weaknesses
Improve your kettlebell swing
Increase your cardiovascular endurance
Increase your lean muscle mass
Increase your mental toughness
Increase your fat loss
Increase your motivation
Increase your pressing, pushing, squatting and core strength
The challenge this:
Equipment: a ?? lb kettlebell.
Workout: 4 weeks
500 each day
10 kettlebell swings
5 Reps of strength exercise [SAMPLE push ups ]
5 Reps of strength exercise [ SAMPLE Goblet squats ]
5 Reps of strength exercise [ SAMPLE KB Press ]
A short rest
Total swings per workout:100
EACH DAY CHANGE strength exerciseJoin me for 4 weeks
A short rest
Total swings per workout:100
EACH DAY CHANGE strength exercise
Principles of Training
You will not become more fit by doing the same training regimen every day. Athletes train by taking hard workouts on one day, feeling sore on the next, and not taking another hard workout until the muscles stop feeling sore. You cannot make a muscle larger or stronger unless you put enough resistance against it to damage it. An intense workout damages your muscles to cause burning during your workout and the muscle soreness you feel on the next day. Then you should go very easy or you may cause so much additional muscle damage that you can injure yourself and not be able to recover for weeks or months. If you wait until the soreness disappears, your muscles will be stronger than they were before your workout. As you continue to take stressful workouts only after the soreness disappears, you will become progressively stronger and faster and have greater endurance. For a detailed explanation see Recovery: The Key to Improvement in Your Sport
Interval Training to Build Endurance, Speed and Strength
Interval training means that you alternate fast and slow paces in your sport (running, cycling or other continuous motion activity). The increased intensity of interval training makes it the most effective way to strengthen your heart and lungs to increase your ability to take in and use oxygen (VO2max). I do short intervals that take less than 30 seconds each. You do not need to go at your maximum speed; I recommend that non-competing athletes should not do 100-percent-effort intervals.
Both continuous and interval training can increase endurance, but adding interval training to an endurance training program specifically makes muscles stronger than continuous endurance training (Med & Sci in Sprts & Exe, June 2017;49(6):1126–1136).
Before you start a program of interval training to improve your endurance, you should have exercised regularly for many months, be in good shape and not have any health conditions that can harm you. Caution:Intense exercise can cause a heart attack in a person who has blocked arteries or heart damage. Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program or make a sudden increase in the intensity of your existing program.
Your Interval Workout Day: Warm up your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes. Pick up the pace until you feel short of breath and a tightness in your muscles, then slow down until you recover. If you are just starting to do interval training, you can do intervals that take only 10 seconds. If your muscles feel fresh, you can try to keep your fast pace for about 30 seconds. Alternate a 10-to-30-second intense pace that will start you breathing hard and then slow down for as long as it takes for you to regain your breath and for your muscles to feel fresh again. You do not need to time your recoveries because starting your next interval before you have recovered from your previous interval just shortens how fast you can run the next interval. The faster you run your intervals, the greater the improvement in your ability to run fast and long.
Stop the workout as soon as your leg muscles do not recover in a few seconds after you slow down after each interval. Continuing to do intervals when your leg muscles take longer to recover after each interval can cause enough damage to prevent you from being able to do intervals again for several days. After you have finished your interval workout, cool down for several minutes by moving at a slow pace. Note: When you are training properly, your muscles will probably feel sore every morning when you get up. However, after you exercise for 5 to 10 minutes, the soreness usually goes away and you will feel better. If the soreness remains, you should not take an intense workout that day. Either take the day off or exercise at a very slow pace.
The Day After an Interval Workout Day: If you have done a proper interval workout, your leg muscles will feel sore on the next day. You should never do interval training when your leg muscles are sore. Go at a slow pace as long and far as you like, or take the day off. When your muscles feel fresh again, you can take your next interval workout day.
You can do upper body and core strength training in two ways:
• You can try to lift heavy weights in two or three sets of 10, feel very sore on the next day and then do not lift weights with that same muscle group until those muscles feel fresh again, or
• You can lift lighter comfortable weights until your muscles start to fatigue and then stop immediately for that day. You can do up to 100 repetitions in a single set for each muscle group in your workout. This type of training can be done almost every day. For older people who have the time, I recommend a program of single set repetitions until your muscles just start to fatigue.
Strength Training Guidelines
How fit are you? See how you measure up
Ready to start a fitness program? Measure your fitness level with a few simple tests. Then use the results to set fitness goals and track your progress.By Mayo Clinic Staff
You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But knowing the specifics can help you set realistic fitness goals, monitor your progress and maintain your motivation. Once you know your starting point, you can plan where you want to go. Get started with the simple assessment below.
Gather your tools
Generally, fitness is assessed in four key areas: aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. To do your assessment, you’ll need:
- A watch that can measure seconds or a stopwatch
- A cloth measuring tape
- A yardstick
- Heavy-duty tape
- A scale
- Someone to help you record your scores and count repetitions
You’ll also need a pencil or pen and paper to record your scores as you complete each part of the assessment. You can record your scores in a notebook or journal, or save them in a spreadsheet or another electronic format.
Aerobic fitness: Heart rate at rest
Your heart rate at rest is a measure of heart health and fitness. For most adults, a healthy heart rate is 60 to 100 beats a minute.
To check your pulse over your carotid artery, place your index and middle fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery, located on the palm side of your wrist below the thumb.
When you feel your pulse, look at your watch and count the number of beats in 10 seconds. Multiply this number by 6 to get your heart rate per minute. Let’s say you count 15 beats in 10 seconds. Multiply 15 by 6 for a total of 90 beats a minute.
Aerobic fitness: Target heart rate zone
The target heart rate zone is an increase in your heart rate — 50 to 75 percent of the maximum heart rate for your age — great enough to give your heart and lungs a good workout.
You can use the target heart rate zone as a guide for making sure your exercise is intense enough. If you are not reaching your target zone, you may need to increase the intensity. If you are achieving a target rate in the lower end of the target rate zone, you can set goals for gradually increasing your target.
If you already exercise regularly, you can stop to check your heart rate periodically during an aerobic workout. If you do not exercise regularly, you can do a simple test by checking your heart rate after a brisk 10-minute walk.
|Age||Target heart rate zone: Beats a minute||Maximum heart rate: Beats a minute|
Aerobic fitness: Running or jogging test
Another strategy to assess your aerobic fitness is to time yourself on a 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) run or jog. The following times are generally considered indicators of a good fitness level based on age and sex. A lower time generally indicates better aerobic fitness, and a higher time suggests a need for improvement.
|Age||Women: Time in minutes||Men: Time in minutes|
Muscular strength and endurance: Pushup test
Pushups can help you measure muscular strength and endurance. If you’re just starting a fitness program, do modified pushups on your knees. If you’re generally fit, do classic pushups. For both types:
- Lie facedown on the floor with your elbows bent and your palms next to your shoulders.
- Keeping your back straight, push up with your arms until your arms are extended.
- Lower your body until your chin touches the floor.
- Do as many pushups as you can until you need to stop for rest.
The following counts are generally considered indicators of a good fitness level based on age and sex. If your pushup count is below the target number, the target can serve as a goal to work toward. Counts above the targets indicate better fitness.
|Age||Women: Number of pushups||Men: Number of pushups|
Muscular strength and endurance: Situp test
The situp test measures the strength and endurance of your abdominal muscles. Here’s how to do the test:
- Lie on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor. A partner holds your feet firmly to the floor. Another option is to place your feet on the wall so your knees and hips are bent at a 90-degree angle. Cross your arms across your chest. This is the down position.
- To move into the up position, raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Don’t lift your buttocks off the floor.
- Return to the down position.
- Each time you move to the up position is counted as one situp.
- Do as many situps as you can in one minute.
The following counts can generally be considered indicators of a good fitness level based on age and sex. If your situp count is below the target number, the target can serve as a goal to work toward. Counts above the targets can indicate better fitness.
|Age||Women: Number of situps||Men: Number of situps|
Flexibility: Sit-and-reach test
The sit-and-reach test is a simple way to measure the flexibility of the back of your legs, hips and lower back. Here’s how:
- Place a yardstick on the floor. Secure it by placing a piece of tape across the yardstick at the 15-inch (38-centimeter) mark.
- Place the soles of your feet even with the 15-inch (38-centimeter) mark on the yardstick.
- Slowly reach forward as far as you can, exhaling as you reach and holding the position for at least 1 second.
- Note the distance you reached.
- Repeat the test two more times.
- Record the best of the three reaches.
The following measurements can generally be considered indicators of good flexibility based on age and sex. If your outcome is below the target number, the target can indicate a goal to work toward. Measurements above the targets can indicate better flexibility.
|Age||Women: Furthest reach||Men: Furthest reach|
|25||21.5 in. (55 cm)||19.5 in. (50 cm)|
|35||20.5 in. (52 cm)||18.5 in. (47 cm)|
|45||20 in. (51 cm)||17.5 in. (44 cm)|
|55||19 in. (48 cm)||16.5 in. (42 cm)|
|65||17.5 in. (44 cm)||15.5 in. (39 cm)|
Body composition: Waist circumference
If the circumference of your waist is greater than your hips — you carry more weight above the hips — you have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The risk is even greater for women if waist circumference is 35 inches (89 centimeters) or more and for men if waist circumference is 40 inches (102 centimeters) or more.
With a cloth measuring tape, measure your waist circumference just above the hipbones.
Body composition: Body mass index
Your body mass index (BMI) is a calculation that indicates whether you have a healthy amount of body fat. You can determine your BMI with a BMI table or online calculator.
If you’d rather do the math yourself, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply by 703. Or divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. (To determine your height in meters, divide your height in centimeters by 100).
The following BMI results demonstrate whether you are at a healthy weight.
|30 and above||Obesity|
The results of your fitness assessment can help you set goals for staying active and improving fitness outcomes. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends one of the following activity levels for adult fitness and health benefits:
- 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity weekly plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week
- 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week
- An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week
Moderate aerobic activity includes:
- Walking fast
- Water aerobics
- Bicycling on mostly level ground
- Pushing a lawn mower
Vigorous aerobic activity includes:
- Swimming laps
- Fast bicycling or biking hills
- Playing basketball or soccer
- Playing singles tennis
Muscle-strengthening exercises include:
- Lifting weights or using resistance bands
- Calisthenics that use body weight for resistance
- Heavy gardening or yardwork
Monitor your progress
Keep track of your progress in improving your fitness. Take the same measurements about six weeks after you begin an exercise program and periodically afterward.
Each time you repeat your assessment, celebrate your progress and adjust your fitness goals accordingly. Share your results with your doctor or personal trainer for additional guidance.
Muscle Loss from Inactivity: 34 Percent in Just Two Weeks
A study from the University of Copenhagen shows that wearing an immobilizing knee brace for just two weeks caused men in their 20s to lose 22 to 34 percent of their leg muscle strength, while men in their 60s lost 20 to 26 percent (Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, June 26, 2015).
It took them six weeks of exercising on a bicycle 3-4 times a week to restore the leg muscle size and ability to exercise, but even that did not fully restore the leg muscle strength. This study shows that:
• When muscles of young men are immobilized for two weeks, they lose strength equivalent to aging 40 or 50 years.
• As soon as you stop moving, your muscles start to weaken.
• The larger your muscles, the more muscle you have to lose.
• Younger and stronger people lose strength even faster than older people.
Other studies show that it takes three times the amount of time you were inactive to regain the muscle size that you have lost, probably because you were immobilized 24 hours a day and you exercise for only a short time each day.
Aging Weakens Muscles Even if You Exercise
Inactivity at any age causes muscles to weaken, and you are likely to lose muscle strength with aging no matter how much you exercise. Every muscle in your body is made up of thousands of muscle fibers just as a rope is made up of many strands. Every muscle fiber is innervated by a single nerve fiber. With aging you lose nerves, and when you lose a nerve attached to a muscle fiber, that muscle fiber is lost also. A 20-year-old person may have 800,000 muscle fibers in the vastus lateralis muscle in the front of his upper leg, but by age 60, that muscle would have only about 250,000 fibers. For a 60-year-old to have the same strength as a 20-year-old, the average muscle fiber needs to be three times as strong as the 20-year-old’s muscle fibers. You cannot stop this loss of the number of muscle fibers with aging, but you certainly can enlarge each muscle fiber and slow down the loss of strength by exercising muscles against progressive resistance using strength-training machines or by lifting weights (Experimental Gerontology, August 13, 2013).
How to Strengthen Muscles
To enlarge and strengthen muscles, you need to exercise them against resistance forceful enough to damage the muscle fibers. You will know that you have done this because you will feel a burning in the stressed muscle during the later lifts and on the next day, your muscles will feel sore. Then you lift lighter weights, or engage in other sports, for as many days as it takes for your muscles to heal. You can tell this has happened when the soreness goes away.
We are all likely to have some enforced periods of inactivity, but if you realize how quickly you lose muscle strength and how much longer it takes to gain it back, you will avoid voluntary inactivity as much as possible. For example, when you plan a vacation, make sure it involves physical activity that is at least equal to your regular exercise program.
As you age, expect to become weaker and more likely to fall and break your bones. To enlarge muscles and slow the natural loss of strength with aging, you should lift weights a few times in a row or lighter weight many times in a row. You can become quite strong by using 10 to 15 strength-training machines (for different muscle groups) three times a week. Do two or three sets of 10 repetitions on each machine. Always stop immediately if you feel any pain, tearing or excessive burning.
Taking Testosterone May be Bad for Your Heart
Men should not take the male hormone, testosterone, unless their testicles are not producing adequate amounts. A study of 172,000 men found that those who have the genes for high blood levels of testosterone are at a 37 percent increased risk for suffering a heart attack, eight times the risk for heart failure and double the risk for blood clots in the brain and lungs (British Medical Journal, March 6, 2019). Many other studies show that weight lifters and other men who take large doses of testosterone (when their own testosterone levels are normal) are at increased risk for suffering heart attacks. Recreational weight lifters who take anabolic steroids and other hormones that mimic testosterone can suffer from significant heart damage (left ventricles) even many years after they stop taking these drugs (Circulation, May 23, 2017). Testosterone can increase risk for forming the blood clots that cause a heart attack. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires testosterone labels to list the increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and the Endocrine Society recommends that testosterone be given only to men who:
• have proven low levels of testosterone,
• have not had a heart attack or stroke in the last six months, and
• are at very low risk for prostate cancer (The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, March 2017).
In spite of these very real concerns, global sales of testosterone have increased 12-fold in the last 20 years.
Testosterone Gel Did Not Improve Memory
In the Testosterone Trials from the University of Pennsylvania(TTrials), 788 men over 65 years of age who had low levels of testosterone (<275 ng/dl) were given either testosterone gel or placebo for one year. In 493 of these men who had age-associated memory impairment, the treatment with testosterone was not associated with improved memory or other cognitive functions such as verbal memory, visual memory, executive function, or spatial ability (JAMA, 2017;317(7):717-727).
Mixed Results on Heart Attack Risk
The TTrial cardiovascular study results showed that taking testosterone significantly increased plaque in the arteries leading to the heart, to increase risk for heart attacks (JAMA, 2017;317(7):708-716). On the other hand, another study of more than 44,000 men with low testosterone showed that three years of testosterone gel reduced heart attack rate 25 percent compared to those given placebos (JAMA Internal Medicine, Feb 21, 2017).
• Men with normal blood levels of testosterone (>300 ng/dl) should not take testosterone as it can increase risk for heart attacks, clots, and liver and lung damage. It can also shut down their own natural production of testosterone to make them sterile.
• Older men should not take testosterone unless their testosterone is very low (at least below 150 ng/dl), meaning that their brain hormones or testicles are damaged so they cannot make adequate amounts of testosterone.
• Most older men who suffer from poor sexual function have conditions that cause the damage, such as excess weight, diabetes, arteriosclerosis or other life-shortening conditions. Testosterone is not a solution for these conditions. These men can often correct their sexual dysfunction and prolong their lives by changing the lifestyle habits that caused their problems.
• Almost never should men take testosterone pills because they can damage the liver. If they do choose to take testosterone, the form of choice is a gel that is rubbed on and absorbed through the skin, so it is not absorbed from the intestines and passed immediately to the liver.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become a hit in gyms throughout the country for its focus on giving maximum effort to achieve maximum results. HIIT can burn calories and fat in a shorter period of time and continue to burn calories and fat well after your workout is finished! Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of HIIT:
1) Burn more calories and fat in less time.
Research has shown HIIT increases the heart rate and burns more calories in less time than standard aerobic workouts. Studies found that 20 minutes of high intensity interval training can produce the same aerobic and anaerobic benefits as exercising for twice as long with steady, continuous effort.
Some research has even found that 15 minutes of HIIT training can burn more calories than jogging for an hour on a treadmill! Fortunately, it’s easy to use the Assault AirRunner for an HIIT workout.
2) Burn calories and fat for hours after your workout.
When you exercise at an intensity level that you’re unable to sustain for a long period of time, your muscles will start to burn and you’ll begin to feel out of breath.
But don’t worry, while that sensation will only last for a short period of time, your body will now spend the next 16 to 24 hours clearing the lactic acid from your muscles and rejuvenating your body’s oxygen stores – all while burning calories and fat in the process.
3) Boosts your metabolism.
HIIT helps you consume more oxygen than standard aerobic and steady state exercise, which will help speed up your metabolism and burn calories at a higher rate.
By putting your body into a prolonged recovery state after a HIIT session, your metabolic rate will continue to be boosted for up to 48 hours after the workout!
4) Increases endurance.
HIIT increases your body’s ability to use oxygen for energy, which can lead to increased endurance while performing any type of exercise. Studies have found that participants in an 8-week HIIT program doubled the length of time they were able to ride a bike at a constant pace.
5) Burn fat, not muscle.
Standard steady-state cardio is linked to a loss of muscle because while calories are being burned, the muscles aren’t being pushed to exhaustion, which limits their ability to grow.
HIIT causes a burn in your muscles that leads to micro-tears in the muscle fibers. The body then repairs these tears, forcing muscles to grow larger. Ultimately, the combination of muscle growth and reduced fat leads to that sought-after lean muscle physique.
Both the Assault AirBike and AirRunner can provide fantastic HIIT workouts. We’ve teamed up with our resident trainer to put together over 150 workouts designed to torch calories, including plenty of options for HIIT training. Sign up today and receive weekly workout ideas so you can take advantage of the many benefits of HIIT!
Or you’re just getting started?
Regardless of which, I’m not here to judge. I’m just here helping you get to where you want to be. That’s all.
And if you were to ask me one of the key components of achieving your dream body it’s this:
By being consistent.
I’m consistent with all my workout plans.
I’m consistent with what I eat during the week and even during the weekend.
I never do anything that compromises with any of my training plans.
I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now.
Just like every other legendary fitness athlete out there, I never stop.
Because the moment you stop, you stop progressing and you’ll lose the hard work to put in!
And trust me, that is the last thing that you want happening to you.
So if you are training hard today, keep going!
And if you are just getting started, keep going too!
Whatever stage you are in, just don’t stop.
Many years from now, or perhaps months, you will definitely be glad that you kept going anyway and finally achieved the dream body that you desire.
Intervals Lower Blood Sugar
How does Interval Training Prevent Disease?
When you do intervals, you usually exercise so intensely that you become very short of breath from lack of oxygen. It is the lack of oxygen, called oxygen debt, that protects you against a high rise in blood sugar that damages cells. When you exercise intensely continuously for an extended period of time, you cannot create as severe an oxygen debt as when you exercise intensely for a short time.
How Oxygen Debt Helps Your Body Control Blood Sugar Levels
Your body converts food to energy by two major sources:
1) Anaerobic Glycolysis – Does Not Need Oxygen: Inside every cell but outside the mitochondria, your cells can convert sugar to energy without oxygen.
2) Krebs Cycle – Needs Oxygen: You have many tiny compartments called mitochondria in your cells that convert carbohydrates, fats and protein to energy, breaking down foods in a series of chemical reactions called the Krebs Cycle, to carbon dioxide and water. If you don’t get enough oxygen, the chemical reactions slow down so much that lactic acid accumulates in your muscles and spills over into your bloodstream.
When you exercise so intensely that your blood levels of oxygen drop, the mitochondria suffer most from lack of oxygen, lactic acid accumulates and your body responds by enlarging and increasing the number of mitochondria and increasing the enzymes that are necessary to drive the many chemical reactions in the mitochondria that convert food to energy. This helps cells utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins more effectively, which reduces the amount of sugar in cells and helps insulin drive sugar from the bloodstream into cells more rapidly and efficiently. Since high-intensity interval training causes a higher oxygen debt, it also increases the cells’ ability to respond to insulin to drive sugar from the bloodstream into cells to lower high blood sugar levels more efficiently.
The Myth Of TONING!
People think to get toned all they need to do is very high reps and a little resistance with moderate to long rests. Learn why this is wrong!
June 28, 2018 • 4 min read
When many people talk about being “toned” what they are referring to is a firm body with muscular definition and shape. This is generally a fitness goal that many women have (but also men) with the majority of their emphasis usually on their arms or more specifically their triceps.
Mistakenly, due to the media many people (mostly women) think in order to “get toned” all they need to do is very high repetitions and very little resistance with moderate to long rests. They also don’t take into account cardiovascular activity or diet in order to get “toned”.
The Myth Of Toning
Lets dissolve the misnomer of “tone” right now. The firming-up or toning is due to an increase in muscle tissue as well as a low enough bodyfat percentage to see the definition and shape of the muscles and get rid of the “jiggle”.
Muscles do not go from soft to hard or hard to soft—they either shrink or grow in size. Muscles themselves do not “firm-up” or “tone”.
Strength Training And Fat Loss For Tone
There are no two ways about it—in order to achieve the look of muscle tone or a toned body you need to engage in strength training as well as shed the layer of fat covering your muscles.
Traditional resistance training alone doesn’t produce the toned look desired, especially when an individual resistance trains in the fashion previously mentioned with unnecessarily high repetitions, little resistance, and little if any stress on the muscle.
Resistance training alone doesn’t produce the toned look desired.
A calorie deficit also needs to be created in order to shed some of the subcutaneous bodyfat (fat under the skin).
The Myth Of High Repetitions To Tone
Just because you are not looking to get “bulky” or add muscle mass doesn’t mean that you should shy away from stressing your muscles with relatively heavy weight (women and men).
Effort needs to be given and your muscles need to be stressed in order for them to change and grow. And simply going through the motions will produce little if any results because the muscle is not being stressed enough and therefore has no reason to adapt and change its current condition.
Generally, training with a resistance that produces fatigue between 8-12 repetitions works well for most individuals. That doesn’t mean that you can give up after the 8th or 12th repetition—it means that there is no way that you can get the 13th.
If you can get 13, then the resistance is not enough. Don’t forget to include cardio conditioning into your fitness program in addition to your strength training.
Fat Loss Benefits From Strength Training
Strength training and cardio don’t necessarily need to be exclusive from each other—you can get a cardiovascular and fat burning benefit from strength training both directly and indirectly.
Indirectly, the more muscle tissue that you add through strength training the greater your basal metabolic rate (resting metabolism) will be and therefore you will be burning more total calories and fat at rest. This is more of a permanent solution to weight loss.
Directly, if you use large body movements and keep rest periods short you will elevate your heart rate and therefore be getting the same immediate calorie and fat burning benefits as traditional cardiovascular exercise.
This is the more temporary solution to weight loss. These two reasons are why every weight loss program should include weight training.
You can kill two birds with one stone this way—you can get the resistance training benefits as well as the cardio benefits in one short and sweet workout if designed correctly. Generally you should use repetitions as low as 10 and no higher than 15 for most exercises and muscle groups.
You generally should be taking short rest periods in-between sets—ideally no longer than 30 seconds for most exercises and muscle groups (in order to keep heart rate elevated as well as give the muscles a brief rest and recovery period before the next set).
Again you should come to failure at the end of every set and not just be going through the motions. Don’t be afraid if you can’t complete as many repetitions as you did the previous set—that is to be expected because the rest periods are so short that the metabolic byproducts haven’t had a chance to be completely removed yet.
Eventually your body will adapt to the metabolic stress and become more efficient at recovery and you will be able to lift more weight in a shorter period of time.
If you dip below 8 to 10 repetitions you should decrease the weight though. Having a simple stopwatch or keeping your eye on the second hand of the clock in order to time your rests may be a good idea in order to stay on task when beginning this type of training.
After you become accustomed to this kind of training you will know when to do another set without watching time because it will be ingrained.
In order to have a shorter and more efficient workout as well as ensuring your heart rate is elevated and remains elevated, you may want to consider circuit training.
Circuit training is where you go directly from one set of an exercise to another exercise that works a different muscle and so on.
So you have a series of exercises where you go straight from one to another with absolutely no rest—hence the name “circuit training”.
You may take a brief rest if need be only after each circuit. This type of training requires being focused (so headphones or avoiding distractions is a must for an effective workout) but it is extremely effective at burning fat and building strength, endurance, and muscle and creating that toned look.
Making It Work For You
When designing your program keep in mind that larger muscle group movements such as those that involve legs and back and others that incorporate numerous muscle groups at once such as the bench press burn more calories than isolated exercises like dumbbell biceps curls.
Examples of excellent exercises to achieve an elevated heart rate include but are not limited to: any variety of squats, deadlifts, straight-leg deadlifts, any variety of lunges, bench step-ups, etc.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and combine movements either. An example might be doing a repetition of the dumbbell shoulder press and then going fluidly into a repetition of the dumbbell biceps curls and then back and forth for a complete set of 20-30 total reps (10-15 each).
This is where a reputable personal trainer may come in handy to develop “non-traditional” exercises for you with your goals in mind as well as to show you how to perform them properly.
As long as the resistance is sufficient enough to create fatigue by no more than 15 repetitions, your rest periods are very short, if at all, and you have a solid nutritional program, you’ll see your muscles tighten-up, firm, and become more pronounced giving you that tone that you desire.
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A couple of months ago I talked about the Benefits Of Blood Flow Restriction Training. where I tried to clear some misconception about its safety. But, I still got questions regarding BFR Training technique and *How heavy should I lift while performing BFR Training Technique*.
Since I’m also using BFR in my training sessions so I thought it will be a good idea to share my personal experience and techniques to help you get much better results.
ABOUT BFR TRAINING :
The main focus and primary advantage of BFR Training is — You can gain more muscle size at a low-intensity workout. What this training method does is – It increases metabolic stress on the muscle and sends a very effective muscle building signal with very light-weight. The key to getting more effective results is using light weight-loads while performing higher reps.
The reason why I personally like this training is – you can use this training method as a therapy. let’s say you have elbow injury or a wrist injury, which can prevent you from lifting heavy. So, that’s when BFR Training really helps because while performing this method you don’t have to lift a lot of weights to get a good pump. Also, it’s a very good technique for guys who are bit older and have joint problems So they don’t want to train as heavy to get the hypertrophy response. It’s already becoming popular among guys who are dealing with joint issues because it’s not about the weight-load but the repetitions you perform.
HOW HEAVY YOU SHOULD LIFT DURING BFR TRAINING SESSIONS.
Weight should be anywhere between (10 pounds) to (20 pounds). But again weight-load isn’t the main focus here but the repetitions. In BFR Training guide the repetitions protocol is x5 Sets…
First Set = 30 Repetitions
(30 Seconds Rest)
Second Set = 15 Repetitions
(20 Seconds Rest)
Third Set = 15 Repetitions
(20 Seconds Rest)
Fourth Set = 15 Repetitions
(20 Seconds Rest)
Fifth Set = 15 Repetitions
This whole thing should take you a very short period of time. Approximately about 10-15 minutes. If you do it right – You’ll be struggling while performing last x2 Sets even with 10-pound dumbbells.
This technique is scientifically proven to be effective in terms of building muscle fast. As you can tell it will only work on extremities (Limbs). So, I recommend you to do this training twice a week on your biceps and legs. Obviously, it’s a technique that you shouldn’t be doing every single time you train.
Improper wrapping technique can be harmful. If you tie off too much it can cause damage if you go too loose, you don’t really get the effects. You have to make sure that you’re getting blood flow into the muscle but restricting the blood flow from leaving the muscle. If you feel any numbness or tingling you must’ve been tightening it too much. You should go for 70% percent of perceiving tightness, Or you can go for 80% if you’re not getting a greater pump. Figure it out by tighten or lighten up until you feel like you’re getting effects without having any numbness or tingling In your muscles.
Athletes Now Undergoing Occlusion Training to Quickly Recover from Injury
August 29, 2015 By Admin
The main goal of blood restriction training is to occlude venous blood flow without necessarily affecting arterial circulation. This means that blood is made to enter the muscles and restricted from going out. In the several studies performed on occlusion training, it appears that muscle strength gain isn’t the only benefit of such training method. It turns out that BFR also has a pain relieving effect. This method of weight training for lean muscle is now being used by strength coaches and rehabilitation professionals on elite athletes, especially those with injuries. Through BFR training, even athletes with ACL injuries can get back on the playing field with greater strength.
What mechanisms are behind Blood Flow Restriction training?
The effects of occlusion training is believed to be caused by the combination of metabolic stress and mechanical tension that leads to hypertrophy. Studies also showed that the weight lifting muscles being targeted by occlusion had an increase in fast twitch fiber type, hormone production, muscle damage, cell swelling, and heat shock proteins. All of these are important variables required for growing and repairing muscles.
Who may benefit from Blood Flow Restriction training?
Since occlusion training requires low resistance workouts, it is an excellent training method for inducing muscle mass and strength in the elderly people. Blood flow restriction training is not only very effective in the elderly, it is very safe as well. Researchers found that the use of elastic restriction bands, like BFR Bands for occlusion training, helps improve muscle cross sectional areas along with maximum muscle strength. What makes this training method even more applicable to the elderly is the fact that it doesn’t negatively affect arterial stiffness in older people. In short, it is very effective and comes with very low risk for negative reactions.
Blood flow restriction training is excellent also for improving the functional performance of athletes with injuries. Even ordinary individuals who engage in weight lifting bodybuilding and other competitive sports can take advantage of occlusion training.
The success of occlusion training has given so many people a great opportunity to develop muscle mass and strength without necessarily enrolling in weight lifting bodybuilding programs, or buying expensive equipment. To perform blood flow restriction training, all you need is an elastic restriction band or even a blood pressure cuff. Take note, however, that you need to perform this training under the supervision of an experienced trainer.
If you are nursing an injury and you want to use occlusion training to gain back your muscle strength, you would need an occlusion training expert to guide you. Also, invest in a good restriction band, like the ones by BFR Bands as they are designed to occlude venous blood flow and not arterial blood flow.