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Weights routine intensity/duration/frequency for 50+-ers

Old 04-19-21, 09:30 AM
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scottfsmith
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Weights routine intensity/duration/frequency for 50+-ers

I have started on a weights routine, something I have never really done before. I am curious what other 50+ bikers do in terms of intensity, duration, and frequency of workouts. (I'm not really asking about what weights you are doing but feel free to chime in on that as well).

For me I am currently doing about 15 minutes every other day, to leave in a day of rest. I am also trying to alternate with cycling so I usually don't do the two on the same day (no biggie if I do though). As far as intensity, I am getting my heart rate up to maybe 120-130 max. I do sets of 10 and take a short break between each one which gets the heart back down. I have no idea if this is a good amount/intensity or not, I am just making it up as I go..

(Currently I am doing the following kettlebell exercises: 4x10 swings (24kg), 3x10 goblet squats (18kg), and 3x Turkish get-ups (14kg), and starting on 3x10 suitcase lifts (24kg).)
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Old 04-19-21, 11:52 AM
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I ride my bike. I mow my own yard still... does that count for anything?

But on the serious side, I do need to get more motivated to do something for my arms and upper body. At various times I use free weights, push ups, pull ups. But can't keep motivated to do it till it becomes a habit.
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Old 04-19-21, 08:03 PM
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What's your cycling history? What do you want to accomplish or improve?

I you want to know what I for example did, my first two years of strength training when I was ~55, I did 3 sets of 30 in a gym, circuit style. IIRC it was, in this order, barbell squats, horizontal rows, leg sled, barbell bench press, calf raises, stiff-legged deadlift, and lat pull-downs. I let my HR drop until I was no longer breathing hard between sets. I used the same weight for all 3 sets of each exercise, a weight which I would fail on at about the 28th rep, 3rd set. I rode my bike or took a spin class for an hour before I hit the weights. I did that twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday. I got some serious results. In spite of the fact that I wasn't regularly working heavy, the fact that I was going to failure on the last set meant that if I wanted to, I could work in with the big guys on the sled or squat rack when it was too busy for me to do my circuits.

Today, 20 years later, the standard recipe for cycling strength training is to do only heavy lifting, the max you can use for 4 sets of 4 reps. If you can do 5 reps, you up the weight. The issue with those who aren't young is that's a good way to get injured. If you do what I did, that's an injury prevention program. After you do that, think about lifting heavy. My advice. The important thing, no matter how many reps you do, is that you can't complete the last set at least once a week. If you're just doing reps at moderate weight, all the studies show that you won't improve on the bike. You might feel stronger and be having fun, but no results.

I've noted here and there on BF that I've been using dumbbells during the Covid time when gyms were closed. I gave it up. No results, just made me tired. Using that time on my bike worked better. Some gyms have reopened and we're looking for one that takes Silver Sneakers.
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Old 04-19-21, 09:03 PM
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Yes I read up on the standard recommended bike strength training programs but as you mention they look like too much for me and I need to avoid injury. I have some serious lower back issues and am in fact doing the weights primarily to help improve my back. But I also am aiming to improve my biking.. get a few KOMs etc. Having two reasons to do it increases the odds greatly that I will do it as well.. my history of working out is very low, Iride we are on the same wavelength. I do lots of manual work and activities that involve exercise (rock climbing, skiing, biking, etc), but the idea of "working out" never stuck until my back went bonkers and I had a strong motivation to follow the PT regimen. I was at PT for about 6 months and have been doing the exercises for another year or so after that ended. Back is much better than it was but still needs improvement.

I don't want to risk the big weights but I have a few kettlebells and I can keep buying bigger ones for my home gym. I will never get to what these young guys are doing with big weights, but I have been upping the reps/weight and it sounds like I can go a lot further with that... like working toward 10 sets of 10 on the exercises I have now. I am not yet going to exhaustion to avoid back injury but as I learn what I can do I should also be able to do reps til maxed out.. it sounds like that is my goal at this point, getting more reps to exhaustion..
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Old 04-20-21, 05:38 AM
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I ditched my weights and picked up a Total Gym Fit a few years back. Yep that machine Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley used to do informercials for. One of the best investments for health and fitness I've made in my old age next to my bike. I alternate one day out on the trails mountain biking with one day on the TG doing upper body work for about 30min. I try for a 3/3 split each week, but usually come in with 3/2 one way or the other. While I am not as bulked up as I was in my younger days, I think I look and feel ok for knocking on the door of 64. My wife thinks so too and asked me to strike a pose while washing the car recently.

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Old 04-20-21, 06:13 AM
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Looking good Joe F! What you are doing is clearly working well for you.
can you share some details about your diet?
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Old 04-20-21, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Murf58 View Post
Looking good Joe F! What you are doing is clearly working well for you.
can you share some details about your diet?
Thanks!
Clean Keto with Intermittent Fasting. Clean meaning vegetable choices are organic whenever possible. Beef is grass fed, poultry/eggs are free range and fish are wild caught. Not a requirement to do Keto "clean" of course, but I prefer to minimize the amount of pesticides and growth hormones I ingest. Many will knock a Keto lifestyle as inadequate for athletic performance. Doctors that don't have a clue how it really works will criticize it also. You simply have to do it right and get yourself "fat adapted" however. It's not just "low carb/high protein" at all. I keep up with 30 year olds out on the trails and have never felt better. Off my soapbox now, but you did ask! Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
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Old 04-20-21, 07:05 AM
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Me, I'm the skinny guy.. you remember "The Insult that made a man out of Mac" ads from comic-book youth? I'm the before-Mac

Re: the kind of training the main thing is to get into strength building and not just endurance.. many good ways to get there. I should probably have mentioned that I am aiming to follow the "Simple and Sinister" kettlebell program.. I am not exactly following it now but that is where I am headed as I get more confident in my back. In their regimen you always do 10x10 and bump up the weight when you are not maxed out after that: weight up up up to keep the strength improving.

Re: diet, I'm not on any particular named diet but I severely limit processed carbs and sugar. It sounds like the clean keto except whole grains are OK in moderation for me. Clean keto looks awesome to me mainly because it cuts out processed sugars/carbs. I'm not sold on the good of ketosis but I am definitely sold on the evils of processed junk.
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Old 04-20-21, 08:12 AM
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Have you considered hiring a personal trainer for at least a few sessions? Personally I don't use one as I've been lifting for over 50 years but my routines have changed as my goals have changed. As an experienced weightlifter I know how to make the changes. Given your newness to it a trainer might help you get started and have suggestions you might not have heard about. I do caution though that not all trainers are created equal. Some are much more knowledgeable than others and even among the knowledgeable ones you want to find one who listens to you and is knowledgeable about lifting for those in your age group.
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Old 04-20-21, 08:17 AM
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Yes, I thought a bit about that.. I actually have a bike fit this coming weekend and the fitter is also a trainer so I was going to start by asking him.

Following up on my post above, I just did my weights and bumped up the reps to 8x10. It was a much more serious workout and I should be able to get to 10x10 next time. I think I was just in acclimation mode for the month or so I have been doing it up to now but am ready for the real thing. Time to re-read my Simple and Sinister book.. it is an awesome book, I've read lots of how-to kinds of books and it is at the top of the pile. That plus watching videos of Pavel and others doing the routines.
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Old 04-20-21, 08:56 AM
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I have about 6 main upper body exercises. This is just what I do out of habit. I'm 62.

Chest- weight machine bench press or bench/dumbbells or chest press with TRX type or pushups
Lats - weight machine or pullups
Row- rowing machine or TRX
Shoulder press- weight machine or dumbbells or weight bar
Bicep curls- weight machine or dumbbells or weight bar
Tricep- weight machine or TRX

I shoot for 20 reps at failure, 1 set. Mix individual exercise method up every time. Sometimes 3 exercises one day, the other 3 next day. Or all six one day, rest the next.

But bike or swim every day, no rest for the wicked there. You can lift before or after bike, but swim first, then lift.
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Old 04-20-21, 10:02 AM
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I do this 3 or 4 times a week. My equipment is assorted dumbbells and a bench.
Sets Reps Weight
Bench Press 2 20 30
Toe Raise 2 20 30
1 Arm Row 2 20 30
Shoulder Press 2 20 20
Upright Row 2 20 25
Alternating Curl 2 20 25
Lying Fly 2 20 20
Tricep Kickback 2 20 25
Lateral Raise 2 20 12
Leg Lifts 2 25 N/A
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Old 04-20-21, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
Yes I read up on the standard recommended bike strength training programs but as you mention they look like too much for me and I need to avoid injury. I have some serious lower back issues and am in fact doing the weights primarily to help improve my back. But I also am aiming to improve my biking.. get a few KOMs etc. Having two reasons to do it increases the odds greatly that I will do it as well.. my history of working out is very low, Iride we are on the same wavelength. I do lots of manual work and activities that involve exercise (rock climbing, skiing, biking, etc), but the idea of "working out" never stuck until my back went bonkers and I had a strong motivation to follow the PT regimen. I was at PT for about 6 months and have been doing the exercises for another year or so after that ended. Back is much better than it was but still needs improvement.

I don't want to risk the big weights but I have a few kettlebells and I can keep buying bigger ones for my home gym. I will never get to what these young guys are doing with big weights, but I have been upping the reps/weight and it sounds like I can go a lot further with that... like working toward 10 sets of 10 on the exercises I have now. I am not yet going to exhaustion to avoid back injury but as I learn what I can do I should also be able to do reps til maxed out.. it sounds like that is my goal at this point, getting more reps to exhaustion..
Good plan. I know some serious LD racers did 50 reps. My max half-squat at 70 was 10 reps at 245. I weighed ~145. In my early 60s my 1RM on the leg sled was ~700+sled weight, whatever that was. Heavy won't hurt your back if you work up to it over a period of years and you use good form.

Another very good back exercise is simply getting down in the drops and hammering for long periods, at least 20' at a time. Outdoors. Keep your back as straight as you can.

I rehabbed my back using Tom Danielson's book: https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Danielson.../dp/193403097X
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Old 04-21-21, 03:19 AM
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Ditto, the advice to start with a trainer or physical therapist. They can spot your technique and help you avoid injury. As we age it's easier to get injured and takes longer to recover.

I attended a physical therapy clinic two or three times a week for three months in 2019 and it really helped sort out some persistent neck and shoulder pain I'd had for a year since being hit by a car.

But I neglected my own good sense when I resumed running recently. I keep forgetting I'm only young in mind, not in body. I resumed jogging a few months ago for a change of pace, and to allow an old neck injury time to recover.

I started jogging gradually for several weeks, intermittent walking/jogging, then gradually adding strides, etc. Everything was going pretty well for the first few months, with gradual improvements. My 5k time gradually dropped to around 32 minutes and I figured I'd aim for 30 minutes and be happy with that. I ran sub-20 minute 5k in my teens and 20s, but that was 40 years ago and I hadn't run at all since.

Then I got some better, lighter shoes in February and started pushing harder. One night I felt better than usual and decided to try a 5k time trial just to see if I could break 30 minutes. I did it in 27 minutes, knocking 5 minutes off my previous best a week earlier.

But my form wasn't good and I got some knee pain.

Then I started doing sprints around the nearby school track, and faster tempo half-miles on a long, flat, straight stretch nearby. My speed was good. But now I had sore hips and abs. I hadn't prepped my core with PT to strengthen the hip adductors, abs and groin muscles that aren't really well developed from cycling.

Instead of taking some recovery time I kept pushing. By the end of March I could barely jog at all. Pain in both knees. Persistent left hip pain and groin soreness. And suddenly this week the left ankle hurts. I've limped a mile home the last couple of runs that started out well but suddenly developed ankle pain so bad I could barely hobble.

So I forced myself to take a break for a week or so and watch some YouTube tutorials from qualified running coaches. Turns out my approach and form was guaranteed to lead to the very injuries I'm experiencing.

Start out carefully. If you can't find a trainer or PT clinic due to the pandemic, check YouTube tutorials. Some are really good. Most are terrible. Too many PT videos drag on for 20-60 minutes, with zero evidence of preparation or editing. Painful.

The Bowflex channel has really good concise routines that don't require Bowflex equipment, and the videos are only 2-5 minutes, well prepared and edited.

Athlean-X is good, although his videos still drag on longer than necessary, around 20 minutes. He could pare those down to 5 minutes and convey the same info. But he knows his stuff and emphasizes good form.

For general physical therapy, especially the legs, check the "Knees Over Toes Guy" channel. There's nothing new there, but his enthusiasm is infectious and techniques are sound, and the videos are reasonably short.
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Old 04-21-21, 05:20 AM
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I used to do 6 or 7 core exercises from Body by Science two or three times a week at the gym. Since the pandemic I replaced them with home exercises: dumbel curls, pullups/chinups, pushups, planks, squats with dumbels. I do a single set to failure. The squats and planks don't actually get to failure. I also do a bunch of stretching and range of motion exercises geared towards Parkinson's patients.
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Old 04-21-21, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
But I neglected my own good sense when I resumed running recently.
Ouch, sounds painful!

I did an even stupider move a few years ago, I had injured my knee and thought I could just exercise it back to health. So I put on heavy weights and was doing lifts.. I succeeded in making an even longer tear, Doh! Eventually surgery solved the problem. After that I learned to be much more cautious. For the kettlebells I watched dozens of videos showing proper form and I am also following a book "The End of Back Pain" which talks about how to use kettlebells for back issues.

Originally Posted by CarbonFiberBoy View Post
I rehabbed my back using Tom Danielson's book: https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Danielson.../dp/193403097X
I have his newer book Cycling on Form, it has a big chapter summarizing his older book. I did a bunch of those exercises in my PT regimen.
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Old 04-21-21, 10:36 AM
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Will be 62 this Saturday. Back has been in spasm on and off (mostly off) since like age 40. Wife's back went out three years ago and the PT started her Planking. I started doing them with her to show support. We eventually worked up to 1x 4:00 min daily even though the PT said even 1:00 min. daily had benefits. We also do ab machine at our 3x/wk gym workouts. 3 sets x failure (roughly 20 rep) for me that's about 80lb on the weight stack. I have long believed that the secret to a pain free back is attention to core strength. Most people's backs are strong enough but their cores are weak. In rare cases (like my DW) it is actually the reverse and the core muscles are very strong but the back muscles are weak. Someone with a bad back could do much worse than following this program: https://twohundredsitups.com/ AND this program: https://fiveminuteplank.com/. Long before either program is fully complete your back issues will be history. I guarantee it.

I find it interesting that the o.p. has decided to go the Kettlebell route. IMO KB's are a Millenial thing. It's appeal is the increased dynamism vs more traditional Bodybuilding and Powerlifting movements. I'm in the gym to look like JoeF. I'm most of the way there, if not all of the way, although the year long gym closures have taken a real toll on my progress. My DW is a Powerlifter of long experience. She was born blind in the UK and basically sidelined from public life. They gave her money, but wouldn't let her work anywhere, and being a very driven and industrious person by nature she found an outlet in working out. If you read that as I had to considerably step up my game when we met you would be correct. There isn't anything more humbling than not needing to add any weight to the bar after your honey has just finished a set of 12 reps with 60lbs on the bar! These days its all I can do to stay 20lbs ahead of her.

This is the workout routine we follow. We are hardly beginners, but the label doesn't bother me. At the end of the day it is a well thought out full body, push-pull routine, and we do the augmented routine with Curls and Calf Raises. After each workout I do 20 min Elliptical Machine. I have a Concept 2 rower for non-gym days. Bikes are transportation. FWIW
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Old 04-21-21, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
I find it interesting that the o.p. has decided to go the Kettlebell route. IMO KB's are a Millenial thing.
The main reason is simplicity: all you need is three kettlebells. I currently have two (one adjusts 15-40lbs, the other is 24kg) and I will get a 32kg one eventually, assuming I keep improving. My entire gym is stored behind my dresser in my bedroom.. open 24/7, Covid or no. Kettlebells have both advantages and disadvantages on other kinds of weights but I like how they are more like yoga in terms of balance/twisting motions. It seems not quite a good as really big barbell weights at low reps but I'm not going there anyway due to my back. Kettlebells are recently popular in the US but they are older than barbells.

That linked routine looks good, I am also doing an every other day routine. I'm not mixing it up yet (the A/B) but once I learn some more exercises I will be able to do that.
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Old 04-21-21, 08:56 PM
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Here's an interesting article:
https://www.outsideonline.com/242230...-research-2021

It's about runners, but certainly applies to cyclists. When one starts strength training, the weights one can move go up quite quickly in the first few weeks and even months, then that rate declines. What's happening is that in that early period, your nerves are finding your muscle fibers, as described in the article. Later increases are due to increases in muscle cross section area. That nerve connection thing only happens if you force it to, by lifting to exhaustion. If you don't, your very efficient muscles understand that they don't have to recruit every fiber and you don't get stronger. I lifted for years without making progress because I didn't understand that. It was very frustrating.
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Old 04-25-21, 06:22 PM
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Gyms are still closed in Toronto so all my exercises are with dumbbells. I skip dumbbell front squats and deadlifts when I go cycling instead.

For the past few months, I have been using light weights but high reps in supersets so I get the burn.

I just ran into the one-set workout the other day. Ten to fifteen reps, slowly 4 seconds concentric and eccectric and with enough weight so your last few reps are really struggling or failure.
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Old 04-26-21, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Gyms are still closed in Toronto so all my exercises are with dumbbells. I skip dumbbell front squats and deadlifts when I go cycling instead.

For the past few months, I have been using light weights but high reps in supersets so I get the burn.

I just ran into the one-set workout the other day. Ten to fifteen reps, slowly 4 seconds concentric and eccectric and with enough weight so your last few reps are really struggling or failure.
Let us know if you see results from that after a month of it.
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Old 04-26-21, 11:38 AM
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I'm 76, usually alternate weights and bike for cardio depending on the weather. I have mostly dumbbells, resistance bands, and a barbell for some sets but no rack. I do one day chest/shoulders, one day arms/back, one day legs. Workouts are 90-120 minutes. If the weather allows a ride, I do 20-35 miles on gravel or pavement and skip leg day.

I work out or ride 6 days, yoga and stretches only on a rest day. I do some stretches in conjunction with weights and after riding.

Any resistance exercise is good to prevent bone density loss.
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Old 04-26-21, 02:21 PM
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At 64 I spend about 5 1/2 hrs per week doing maintenance level weight training, and cardio work on a treadmill. This involves doing a single set of 18 - 22 reps with 8 exercises using dumbells in the 12 - 35 lb range (to 1/2 my weight per pair). If necessary, a 10 second pause is permitted 2/3 of the way into the set. All exercises are done to near exhaustion. I warm up doing a 140' wheelbarrow walk (holding the dumbbells up all the time) with the 35 lb'ers. Then after the weights 24 leg raises or 30 crunches (I alternate each session) and 30 back raises.

The weight training takes about 45 minutes to complete, After which I'll do 45 minutes on the treadmill with 2 high intensity intervals. I do these exercises Mon, Wed, and Fri. On Saturday I'll do 50 more minutes on the treadmill. Where I maintain 70 - 80% of my max heart rate. These workouts allow me to maintain a BMI of 24.5. That's about 169 lbs for people 5'9" tall.

Weather permitting I'll ride my bike 2 - 3 times per week for perhaps 1 1/2 hrs per trip. I bike mainly for pleasure, but do maintain some semblance of effort for much of the ride. Other days I have a park near me with a hill that gives me a good workout walking.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 04-28-21 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 04-26-21, 02:47 PM
  #24  
Leisesturm
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Let us know if you see results from that after a month of it.
I don't know ... could be me but you sound a little skeptical. You are right to be skeptical. Now to be fair we don't really know what "results" means to the other poster, but as there is a fair amount of time involved in performing each set of an exercise ... well, time is money as they say. The best bang for your buck that I know of exercise wise is what are called "20 Rep Squats" they are sometimes called "Breathing Squats" because you do a lot of that performing them. It's not just a one set exercise, its a one set workout! Basically you pick a weight that allows you to do 20 Reps standard squats. With effort. Next week (yes, week) add 10lbs. Very quickly those Squats get real hard to do. You don't consider the set finished until you have done 20 reps. No matter how long it takes. No matter how many times you pause for 'breath'. Sounds like just the thing to put some hair on the chest of the Gen Z guys in the Lime Green workout shorts. Maybe too much (but maybe not) for us Boomers.
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Old 04-26-21, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by xroadcharlie View Post
The weight training takes about 45 minutes to complete, After which I'll do 45 minutes on the treadmill with 2 high intensity intervals. I do these exercises Mon, Wed, and Fri. On Saturday I'll do 50 more minutes on the treadmill. Here I maintain 70 - 80% of my max heart rate.
Thanks Charlie, this was actually what I was after in my original post, duration / frequency / intensity but the conversation went in another direction.

I have been bumping things up lately, I am up from 15 to 25 minutes every other day so "3.5 times per week". In terms of the intensity, I started to use a heart monitor so I can see I get up to 80-90% of max when I am lifting but I rest quite a bit between sets back down to 60-70% before the next set. This also is higher than when I started; my kettlebell book suggests you pass the "talk test" between sets so I am aiming for that. My current routine is taking 25 minutes so 25x3.5 = 87.5 minutes a week. The only cardio I am doing is on the bike.

You are doing 45x3 = 135 minutes a week of weights, I might not get all the way there but I hope to get to 100+ minutes a week in the near term. All my cardio is on the bike (well, plus yard work etc), probably 4 hours a week total.
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