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  1. #1
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Doing speedwork in the gym: balance cardio and musculo-skeletal stuff

    My new exercise program has been proceeding nicely, particularly over the last two months with significant fitness gains and body measurements. (see the thread on post-workout soreness)

    I've worked up to 5 days total of exercise, 2x/week with the personal trainer. The other 3 days include one day for aerobic work , one day for speed work, and one day of whatever I happen to feel like doing. i then take 2 complete rest days.

    I'm wondering how to modify the intervals on my speedwork day when my cardiovascular system feels like it needs more of a challenge, but my muscular-skeletal system can't quite keep up. Here's an example
    I started off doing this:
    5' warm up, 2x[2' on, 3' rest] the 2' on is around 6 out of 10 on the RPE scale, then do 4x[1' on, 2' rest] where the 1' = max effort.

    If I do this on a treadmill I go at about an 8 mph pace for the 1' max intervals, or what amounts to a 7.5 min/mile, and it feels HARD, but I can recover from it very quickly during the rest period. The problem is, running on the treadmill feels awkward at 8 mph. The muscles on the side of my leg and also on the front of my leg start to feel a bit stiff. So even though I feel like my cardio system can push harder, I don't want to screw up my muscles if they are getting stiff.

    A similar thing happens when I do the speedwork on a rowing machine. If I go much above 45 strokes/min then I start to feel slightly stiff on the shins or on the side of my leg. It's not that bad, but I thought if I'm feeling this, maybe that is a sign to be careful. I don't want to risk injury. Is that a sign to just stay at that level for a while to work out of it? Or a sign to stretch more before I workout? Or back off to some level lower than that for a while? How can I continue to develop my cardiovascular system, while still allowing my musculo-skeletal system to catch up?

  2. #2
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz View Post
    My new exercise program has been proceeding nicely, particularly over the last two months with significant fitness gains and body measurements. (see the thread on post-workout soreness)

    I've worked up to 5 days total of exercise, 2x/week with the personal trainer. The other 3 days include one day for aerobic work , one day for speed work, and one day of whatever I happen to feel like doing. i then take 2 complete rest days.

    I'm wondering how to modify the intervals on my speedwork day when my cardiovascular system feels like it needs more of a challenge, but my muscular-skeletal system can't quite keep up. Here's an example
    I started off doing this:
    5' warm up, 2x[2' on, 3' rest] the 2' on is around 6 out of 10 on the RPE scale, then do 4x[1' on, 2' rest] where the 1' = max effort.

    If I do this on a treadmill I go at about an 8 mph pace for the 1' max intervals, or what amounts to a 7.5 min/mile, and it feels HARD, but I can recover from it very quickly during the rest period. The problem is, running on the treadmill feels awkward at 8 mph. The muscles on the side of my leg and also on the front of my leg start to feel a bit stiff. So even though I feel like my cardio system can push harder, I don't want to screw up my muscles if they are getting stiff.

    A similar thing happens when I do the speedwork on a rowing machine. If I go much above 45 strokes/min then I start to feel slightly stiff on the shins or on the side of my leg. It's not that bad, but I thought if I'm feeling this, maybe that is a sign to be careful. I don't want to risk injury. Is that a sign to just stay at that level for a while to work out of it? Or a sign to stretch more before I workout? Or back off to some level lower than that for a while? How can I continue to develop my cardiovascular system, while still allowing my musculo-skeletal system to catch up?
    What does your trainer say? My opinion would be to put strength over CV right now. Build the muscles that feel weak to you when you go hard. I think your instincts are correct. I would suggest warming up for much longer, maybe 15', then only doing the set of 1 X 2 intervals, more of them if you can but no more than 6. Maybe only do 30" on. Then do a long cool-down jog. But what Trainer says rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz View Post
    i then take 2 complete rest days.
    Do some active recovery on the rest days. Maybe go for a walk or do 30 minutes on the bike at 50% effort. Just enough to get the blood into your muscles, does wonders for alleviating stiffness and speeds recovery.
    Last edited by sprince; 08-02-15 at 05:30 PM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    What does your trainer say? My opinion would be to put strength over CV right now. Build the muscles that feel weak to you when you go hard. I think your instincts are correct. I would suggest warming up for much longer, maybe 15', then only doing the set of 1 X 2 intervals, more of them if you can but no more than 6. Maybe only do 30" on. Then do a long cool-down jog. But what Trainer says rules.
    This is where I am beginner to differ with them somewhat. They want me to go from 30' to 45' total minutes of speed work by increasing the "on" portion of the intervals and reducing the recovery time. All depending on how I feel as I go either up or down in 30" increments for the on/off portions respectively. Their thought is that it will help boost my metabolism as I reduce recovery time and increase the speed portion. My concern is that I pulled something in my calf about 10 days ago doing the original intervals (1' on, 2' off). I limped around for about 24 hours and then it took about 5 days before I no longer felt like I had a giant knot in my calf.

    I'm not out to win races or fitness contests. My main concern is just losing weight. If that's the goal, but what the trainer is suggesting leads to a risk of pulling something or making me too sore, what should I really be doing in the speed portion?

  5. #5
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz View Post
    My new exercise program has been proceeding nicely, particularly over the last two months with significant fitness gains and body measurements. (see the thread on post-workout soreness)

    I've worked up to 5 days total of exercise, 2x/week with the personal trainer. The other 3 days include one day for aerobic work , one day for speed work, and one day of whatever I happen to feel like doing. i then take 2 complete rest days.

    I'm wondering how to modify the intervals on my speedwork day when my cardiovascular system feels like it needs more of a challenge, but my muscular-skeletal system can't quite keep up. Here's an example
    I started off doing this:
    5' warm up, 2x[2' on, 3' rest] the 2' on is around 6 out of 10 on the RPE scale, then do 4x[1' on, 2' rest] where the 1' = max effort.

    If I do this on a treadmill I go at about an 8 mph pace for the 1' max intervals, or what amounts to a 7.5 min/mile, and it feels HARD, but I can recover from it very quickly during the rest period. The problem is, running on the treadmill feels awkward at 8 mph. The muscles on the side of my leg and also on the front of my leg start to feel a bit stiff. So even though I feel like my cardio system can push harder, I don't want to screw up my muscles if they are getting stiff.

    A similar thing happens when I do the speedwork on a rowing machine. If I go much above 45 strokes/min then I start to feel slightly stiff on the shins or on the side of my leg. It's not that bad, but I thought if I'm feeling this, maybe that is a sign to be careful. I don't want to risk injury. Is that a sign to just stay at that level for a while to work out of it? Or a sign to stretch more before I workout? Or back off to some level lower than that for a while? How can I continue to develop my cardiovascular system, while still allowing my musculo-skeletal system to catch up?
    I typically use an elliptical (the kind with the hand grips that move with the foot pads) for HIIT training. It provides the intensity without the pounding. The only time I've had any musculo-skeletal issues with it was when I had a serious case of plantar Fasciitis which threw my gait way off kilter and stressed the leg muscles...

    p.s. The other thing I like about it is: being completely manual, it lets me have complete control over the intensity.
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

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    Senior Member Drew Eckhardt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    I typically use an elliptical (the kind with the hand grips that move with the foot pads) for HIIT training. It provides the intensity without the pounding. The only time I've had any musculo-skeletal issues with it was when I had a serious case of plantar Fasciitis which threw my gait way off kilter and stressed the leg muscles...

    p.s. The other thing I like about it is: being completely manual, it lets me have complete control over the intensity.
    Lots of us around here use bicycles.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    Lots of us around here use bicycles.
    lol. yes you are right.

    I would be out on my bike if there were roads in my area that were safe for riding. Unfortunately, it's not practical for HIIT training during the week. I'd be out in rush hour traffic in rural/suburban neighborhoods at the times I have available to do it. Most roads do not have a shoulder and people are terrible drivers and don't know to watch for bikes.

    I'm considering doing some hillwork on saturday since there is at least one within a reasonable drive with a shoulder where I could do hill repeats. For stuff during the week I'm stuck with the gym at least for now.

  8. #8
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    +1
    ... I won't say that I am "Stuck" with the gym. Rather, there are things I can do in it and accomplish from it that I can't get outdoors from a bicycle. Conversely, limiting myself to only a gym makes no sense either.
    ...... My question to whether I want cake OR ice cream has always been: "BOTH!"

    And too, my cycling has greatly benefitted from my work in the gym --- and, vice-versa.
    --------------------------------------
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  9. #9
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz View Post
    This is where I am beginner to differ with them somewhat. They want me to go from 30' to 45' total minutes of speed work by increasing the "on" portion of the intervals and reducing the recovery time. All depending on how I feel as I go either up or down in 30" increments for the on/off portions respectively. Their thought is that it will help boost my metabolism as I reduce recovery time and increase the speed portion. My concern is that I pulled something in my calf about 10 days ago doing the original intervals (1' on, 2' off). I limped around for about 24 hours and then it took about 5 days before I no longer felt like I had a giant knot in my calf.

    I'm not out to win races or fitness contests. My main concern is just losing weight. If that's the goal, but what the trainer is suggesting leads to a risk of pulling something or making me too sore, what should I really be doing in the speed portion?
    That's a bummer. If you don't trust your coach, there's no relationship. What they're doing is changing the "speedwork" into Z5 intervals. I don't think there is any research which definitely says that gym or CV work of any type actually increases one's metabolism for more than a short time after doing the work. I believe that's oldthink. OTOH, what's known to increase metabolism all the time is muscle mass, particularly the proportion of lean muscle mass to adipose mass. Muscle burns calories, every step you take, every move you make . . .

    I totally understand how one can pull a muscle doing speedwork. It's better to ease into it. Usually what one sees is a progression: zone 2, then zone 2 with a zone 3 interval, then zone 2 with a zone 4 interval, then 2-3 zone 4 intervals, then a good bit more of that latter, then zone 2 with zone 5 interval(s), then speedwork. Usually speedwork is intervals of 30" to 1', all out, with 5 minutes recovery between. Without the recovery you can't go all out, and if you can't, it's not speedwork any more, it's intervals. IMO it's best to ease into the hard muscle work or you get an injury, duh. Thus I said strength before CV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I don't think there is any research which definitely says that gym or CV work of any type actually increases one's metabolism for more than a short time after doing the work.
    Heavy lifting will increase it for a long time, but generally not what most cyclists want. Other types of work are relatively short term, high intensity lasting the longest. But you can multiply the after-burn by doing multiple sessions a day. Something like 20 minutes morning and evening will give you almost double the metabolic boost as compared to one 40 minute session. This is because the 40 minute session increases your metabolism about the same amount as 20 minutes for x amount of hours (assuming those x hour periods are separated by 4-5 hours).

  11. #11
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    So I decided to do my own thing for the two "homework" days doing something like this:

    15 minutes warmup on the rower
    6x[1' on, 2' off at about 80% effort]
    10 minute cool

    When I bring down the intensity from a maximum effort to something that is in my aerobic zone then I avoid the issues with tight muscles.

    I discovered last week what I think is the source of the (unstated) disagreements with my trainer. My trainer and I have very different goals. I want to lose weight and do enough fitness improvement that I can ride multiple horses per day and not be tired. My personal trainer wants to get me back to my former level of cycling fitness. Those are two very different things.

    I doubt they are going to change the way they structure the in person workouts, but since I've lost a lot of weight and bodyfat, I'm willing to put up with it at least for right now.

    What type of intervals would make the most sense if my primary interest is in weight loss? I still want to workout in the gym 2x/week in additional to training sessions, but may need to do my own thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz View Post
    I discovered last week what I think is the source of the (unstated) disagreements with my trainer. My trainer and I have very different goals.
    You can't blame the trainer if you never communicate your concerns. I assume you are paying money for the trainer? If yes, then the trainer should be working for you, not the other way around. Tell the trainer what you think and how you feel every day before and after the session.

    The problem with 80% effort is that it is not high intensity so the calorie burn potential will be less during and after. I'd find something that you can do at max effort for intervals, and build up to 100% efforts on the treadmill/rower over time. Those elliptical steppers are fairly gentle on the joints and tendons, and at full incline with some resistance, 2-3 minute intervals will give you all the cardio you want.

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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Have you tried Tabata intervals for weight loss ??. If not then give them a try and see what happens.

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply, sprince. When you talk about max effort for intervals, do you mean doing them for 2-3' on and then 5' off, gradually working up to doing longer sessions (15-20' or longer) without breaks? Or some other configuration? If I go from the rower to the elliptical, I think it will be easier to do the max efforts since there will be less pounding than the treadmill and not as many issues with repetition rate on the rower. I've gone for a week now without any further issues in my left calf muscle, so I think I can ramp it back up.

    The main thing I want to do is get the most bang for my buck when I have 1-1.5 hours per session in the gym.
    Is there a book for interval training or endurance similar to what carbonfiberboy recommended for weightlifting where it tells you what to do each day, etc.? i could use something like that.

    I did tell my trainer what my goals were in the beginning, and have reiterated them periodically, but I don't think it really sinks in. In all honesty, I was happier with the routine I had when I lived in CA and worked with a coach that mapped out daily workouts for a whole month and I tracked them with an HR monitor and power meter. Then we would meet once a month for a fitness test or some other thing, or just to meet in person to discuss how to modify the next month of workouts.


    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    You can't blame the trainer if you never communicate your concerns. I assume you are paying money for the trainer? If yes, then the trainer should be working for you, not the other way around. Tell the trainer what you think and how you feel every day before and after the session.

    The problem with 80% effort is that it is not high intensity so the calorie burn potential will be less during and after. I'd find something that you can do at max effort for intervals, and build up to 100% efforts on the treadmill/rower over time. Those elliptical steppers are fairly gentle on the joints and tendons, and at full incline with some resistance, 2-3 minute intervals will give you all the cardio you want.

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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    You should ask your personal trainer to teach you how to do kettlebell swings and snatches. Kettlebells can be used in many different ways. You can do high repetition sets, or you can do timed sets, or you can do a Tabata intervals with them. They will strengthen your whole body from top to bottom and jack up your metabolism a lot more then any machine. Kettlebells are also a lot more fun then boring cardio machines.

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    Have you tried Tabata intervals for weight loss ??. If not then give them a try and see what happens.
    I have tried Tabata intervals and like them a lot. They work well for me because when one muscle group gets tired, we move to the next one, etc. That way I don't get too sore in any one area. Last week we did plyometrics, and I typically don't do well with that because my legs get so sore that I'm not effective on the horse.

    I wouldn't mind doing Tabata on my own in the gym if there are books or resources for knowing what exercises to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz View Post
    Thanks for the reply, sprince. When you talk about max effort for intervals, do you mean doing them for 2-3' on and then 5' off, gradually working up to doing longer sessions (15-20' or longer) without breaks? Or some other configuration?
    Up to 3 minutes, then 2-3 minutes in between, working down towards 1 minute of rest. Then increase the number of repeats not exceeding 30-40 minutes total. Always warm up first with at least 10 minutes of easy work (5 minutes is not nearly enough imho), just enough to break a good sweat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz View Post
    I did tell my trainer what my goals were in the beginning, and have reiterated them periodically, but I don't think it really sinks in. In all honesty, I was happier with the routine I had when I lived in CA and worked with a coach that mapped out daily workouts for a whole month and I tracked them with an HR monitor and power meter. Then we would meet once a month for a fitness test or some other thing, or just to meet in person to discuss how to modify the next month of workouts.
    Could always find another trainer. There are plenty that will track your workouts online and meet up periodically, or as needed. But for your current trainer, if you have stiffness or pain I'd definitely speak up and say I'm having a problem with x, please suggest something else for my intervals today. It's always good to change things up anyway.

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Excellent. What you are suggesting sounds doable. I'll give that a shot tomorrow and see what happens.


    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    Up to 3 minutes, then 2-3 minutes in between, working down towards 1 minute of rest. Then increase the number of repeats not exceeding 30-40 minutes total. Always warm up first with at least 10 minutes of easy work (5 minutes is not nearly enough imho), just enough to break a good sweat.



    Could always find another trainer. There are plenty that will track your workouts online and meet up periodically, or as needed. But for your current trainer, if you have stiffness or pain I'd definitely speak up and say I'm having a problem with x, please suggest something else for my intervals today. It's always good to change things up anyway.

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Ok, so I did the elliptical twice last week, on Tuesday and Friday:

    both preceeded by about 20-30 min. of lifting and core exercises
    Tuesday I did 15' warm up, 10x[1' on, 2' off], 10' cooldown
    Friday I did 15' warm up, 8x[1' on, 1' off], 5' cooldown

    Both days I tried to go at as hard a level I could maintain for the intervals. My HR was around 160 bpm or so by the end of the 1'. My max HR as measured in a VO2max test from a few years ago is 180 and the highest I ever saw when racing was 179. I don't know it has changed much since then (~ 5 years). I measured a resting HR of 50 bpm before I got out of bed this morning. A few months ago it was 60 bpm.

    The trainer had suggested decreasing the rest periods between intervals, which I did do this week. The change from 2' rest to 1' rest was tough. I don't think I could have done more than 8 of those without seeing a decrease in pace, watts, etc.

    Where to go from here? While my main interest is still primarily in continuing to lose weight, I'd like to have enough endurance that I could do some tri relays. I've always had an easy time with long distances, never really having to train for them just to complete. However, if I do a tri relay or something like that I would want to go for a decent time.
    Last edited by Snicklefritz; 08-16-15 at 07:40 AM.

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    This is some good stuff

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    Sorry double posted
    Last edited by xRyan; 08-16-15 at 08:25 PM. Reason: Double post

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