Training Your Inner Fireman
HIIT Methods: Jacob’s Ladder
At one time, we could all crawl and we did it very well. An infant develops the strength and coordination necessary to stand upright and walk by crawling. The reciprocal arm/leg crawl pattern of the Jacob’s Ladder helps restore joint stability, coordination, and balance. All of us have established neural pathways for crawling. They are just cluttered up and inhibited by prior injuries, poor posture, bad training habits, and a sedentary lifestyle. Performing some Jacob’s Ladder intervals will bring those pathways back to life.
The Jacob’s Ladder is a 40 degree inclined total body conditioning activity. The ladder is self-propelled, and your position on the ladder sets the pace of the climb. Wrap the belt around your waist with the emblem set over the side of your right hip. Adjust the white section of the strap so that it matches your height. Step onto the ladder and start climbing. Initially, place the hands on the side rails and get use to climbing with just the legs. Once you get comfortable with the stride pattern, progress to using the hands on the rungs. Work on improving your coordination and form during the initial Jacob’s Ladder sessions. When you are ready to stop, simply ride the ladder to the bottom and the ladder will stop. Listed below are some of the HIIT sessions that work well with the Jacobs Ladder.
Pick a distance, 100-200 feet works well for most fitness clients. Start the stopwatch and climb 100-200 feet and then rest. Repeat four more times and record your time to complete five climbs of 100-200 feet.
50 feet / 20 seconds rest
Climb fifty feet at a fast pace. Rest twenty seconds and repeat. Repeat for a total of six intervals.
This routine will help you develop better endurance. Climb 100 feet and rest 60 seconds. Climb 200 feet and rest 60 seconds. Climb 300 feet and rest 60 seconds. Climb 400 feet and rest 60 seconds. Climb 500 feet and rest 60 seconds. If you feel strong enough, climb back down; 400-300-200-100 feet.
Save My Baby Sprints
You are the fireman. The building is on fire and the lady with the baby is at the window of the high rise. Hold onto the side rails and sprint up to that baby in the window 200 feet up. Rest 30 seconds and then go get another baby. Your job is to save four babies.
View video of Mike on the Jacob’s Ladder here: https://youtu.be/rqYz0tmPIc8
For more information on the many benefits of high intensity interval training, read the The One Minute Workout by Dr. Martin Gibala.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Think About This
The Latest Science on the Prevention of Alzheimer’s
Over the last 30 years, more than two hundred experimental drugs have failed to produce any success in the fight against Alzheimer’s. It does not appear we are going to have a pharmaceutical for the treatment of Alzheimer’s any time in the near future. A recent *article in the April issue of Scientific American discusses a treatment option that does appear to work. This is currently our only hope in the fight against this terrible disease. The good news is the treatment that prevents cognitive decline helps with so many other problems.
The study’s researchers demonstrated that an interventional program of exercise, proper nutrition, and cognitive training produced significant improvements in brain function. The **Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER study) enrolled 1260 men and women between ages 60 and 77. Over the course of two years, participants demonstrated improved cognitive test scores in processing speed (up 150%), executive function (up 83%), and complex memory (up 40%).
The exercise program in this study was not complex or time consuming. The routines were developed by physical therapists and performed four or five days a week. The exercise sessions involved strength training, balance skills, and aerobic activities. As the participants became fitter, their training regimens were progressed–more challenging activities, more resistance, and/or more volume. The time spent in training was four to five hours a week.
If your goal is to maintain or improve cognitive capacity and remain independent, then the prescription is a consistent routine of exercise. Take the time to read the article, lace up your sneakers, and make a progressive program of fitness a lifelong habit.
* A Rare Success Against Alzheimer’s, Scientific American, April 2017
** The FINGER study, Alzheimer Prevention. Download the article here: http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEViMTIfZYurkAQNsnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBybGY3bmpvBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1492554131/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.alzheimersprevention.org%2fdownloadables%2fFINGER-study-report-by-ARPF.pdf/RK=0/RS=fHWCrTAi9LEEDrH5jWfmRvAI7LU-
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Very Short Term Running Preparation
I was recently asked by a fitness client to post exercise recommendations that would prepare her for outdoor distance running. This person was two weeks away from being out on the road, running two or three miles a day. She is middle aged, has a prior history of lower back pain, and her goal was to lose fifteen pounds and “tone up”. Given such short notice, these are my recommendations.
Perform soft tissue work on a daily basis. Foam roll the legs and use a lacrosse ball on the plantar fascia. The vast majority of overuse injuries in runners happen in the lower legs and feet. Attempt to unwind the myofascial distress created by 600-700 foot impacts a mile.
Improve your reciprocal hip pattern–one hip goes back and the other goes forward. Most general fitness clients have glaring deficits on one side. Perform some split squats, posterior lunges, step ups, and or walking lunges. If you struggle with these activities, I would reconsider running as a fitness activity.
Wake up your gluteals. Every day, perform fifty or sixty bridges, hip lifts, or leg curls. You need super gluteal strength / endurance to run distances and avoid lower extremity injury. If your butt gets sore from fifty bridges, you need to do them more often.
Running is a skill and most recreational runners need some practice. Running hills will improve gait mechanics, enhance hip extension, and decrease deceleration forces. Find a fifty-yard hill. Run up the hill and walk back down. Perform five hill runs.
You are always better to run too little than to run too much. Start with very short runs– no more than half a mile. Increase your total weekly mileage by no more than five percent a week.
You can’t do this in two weeks, but this is my big recommendation to all future runners. Lose the extra weight before running. As a method of fat loss, distance running has a poor track record. It tends to elevate the hormones that make you hungry, and physiological adaptation to distance running happens fairly quickly. Extra adipose makes you far more likely to develop a running related injury. I know the guys and gals you see running miles and miles every day are lean. Please remember that lean runners are successful with running because they possess the optimal body mass to run long distances. They did not start heavy and become lean. Put a fifteen pound weight vest on that guy or gal and everything will change. Their gait will lose efficiency and become less graceful. The extra fifteen pounds of load creates the biomechanical overload that makes them much more likely to suffer an injury.
My final recommendation is that you not become disappointed if you develop pain. A runnersworld.com poll conducted in 2009 revealed that 66% of respondents reported a running related injury that year. The statistics indicate that one third of the participants at you local 10k fun run will require medical attention for a running related injury over the next year. Have the good sense to stop when the pain begins.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Aging Muscles and Exercise
Fast Reaction and Helpful Hormones
New technology has produced some surprising information on the cellular response of muscle to various types of exercise. Super blood analyzers and computers have enabled scientists to monitor gene expression and hormonal release in muscle cells during and after sessions of exercise. The information from this research is revolutionizing our understanding of optimal exercise prescription for health and longevity. It appears that older individuals derive the most beneficial muscle cell response with fairly intense interval training sessions. Please take the time to read Gretchen Reynolds article in the New York Times, The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles.
Dr. Martin Gibala, a professor at the kinesiology department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario recently released an outstanding book, The One Minute Workout. Dr. Gibala explains the science behind high intensity interval training (HIIT) and why it is safe and effective for older fitness participants.
Skeletal muscles produce beneficial biochemicals called myokines that stimulate a response in cells throughout the body. Myokines are a fairly new scientific discovery and we have only recently begun to understand their remarkable effect on human physiology. Myokines enhance blood vessel development, promote beneficial hormone levels, stimulate greater mitochondria production, and improve the metabolism of fat. In the older individual, myokine levels are enhanced with strength training and high intensity interval training.
The best method of creating more of the beneficial myokine biochemistry is to consistently perform some progressive resistance training followed by a brief but intense interval training session. This regimen of training is similar to that of track athletes involved in sprinting. These athletes have high levels of muscle mass and very low body fat levels.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Read the NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/well/move/the-best-exercise-for-aging-muscles.html
Americans are far behind the rest of the world when it comes to the number of steps we take in a day. The body mass index numbers and mortality rates of our fellow citizens are rising in direct proportion to time spent seated. Human physiology operates optimally under the physical demands of a significant amount of standing and walking. Much of the now rampant obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome can be linked to our species sudden fall into sustained sitting. Standing for most of your workday and a daily habit of walking pays huge health and fitness benefits.
We are de-evolving into a nation of sitters. Between internet, television, driving, and computer work, it is not uncommon for many of my physical therapy patients and fitness clients to sit for ten hours a day. Unfortunately, you cannot train away the metabolic and physical damage created by prolonged sitting with a few 45 minute exercise sessions every week.
Seventy years ago, the London Transit Workers Study provided the initial scientific insights into the powerful health benefits of sitting less and standing more. Take the time to read the recent *article by Gretchen Reynolds in the March 23, 2017 edition of the New York Times. Ms. Reynolds’ provides some valuable information on the benefits of standing up and moving as much as possible. Now go for a walk and then Google Varidesk.
–Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
*Should 15,000 Steps a Day Be Our New Exercise Target?, Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, March 23, 2017
McDonald’s has decided to forgo any attempts at healthy menu choices and is embracing its true identity. In an effort to win back market share, they are expanding into home delivery. Soon your order will be taken online and an Uber driver will deliver your Big Mac, fries, and a shake with none of the bothersome human movement formerly involved in consuming 1300 calories of McDonald’s products. Is it any wonder America is losing the War on Obesity? Every day, “food companies” like McDonald’s are devising methods that make consuming their creations more convenient. The March 1, 2017 article in the Wall Street Journal by Julie Jargon, McDonald’s Decides to Embrace Fast-Food Identity explains.
–Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Listen to a podcast from the author, Julie Jargon here: http://www.wsj.com/podcasts/mcdonald-embraces-its-fast-food-identity/4B982D2D-B4E9-4AC3-BD15-D3E292E9507A.html
Treadmills are found in virtually every gym. Read the six treadmill facts you need to know. Meet a Fenton Fitness member who learned how to manage her back pain, and read about the seven best TRX exercises. Do you have limited time to exercise? Be more efficient with HIIT.
Are You Ready?
Spring At The Physical Therapy Clinic
The weather is warming up and soon we will leave the heated, insulated, safety of our home gyms and fitness centers. The spring migration back to tennis, soccer, pickleball, golf, fitness running, ultimate Frisbee, and stadium steps will begin. My physical therapy question is– Are you ready for these new challenges? Has your fitness program prepared you to withstand the rigors of these spring endeavors? This checklist should help you answer the question.
Have you been performing most of your fitness activities in standing?
Nearly every sport and most household chores are performed in a standing position. During most of my visits to commercial gyms, the majority of the activity I witness is in the supine, seated, or heavily supported positions. If your goal is to move better and remain free of injury, then 90% of your exercise should be performed in standing.
Do you practice moving in all directions?
Nearly every sport involves moving side to side, forward-backward, and in a rotational pattern. Basketball, soccer, golf, and tennis all require you to accelerate and decelerate movement in all directions. Most gym activities are predominantly sagittal plane– forward and backward. You ride on the elliptical, spin the bike, and run on the treadmill for months, and your spring visit to the tennis court results in a twisted ankle because you are unfamiliar with side to side movement patterns.
Have you been working on better balance?
Balance is a skill that tends to deteriorate with age, injury, and a sedentary lifestyle. Many commercial exercise machines take all balance demands away. The elliptical, spin bike, recumbent bike, rower… all are heavily supported. Proficiency with single leg stance balance prevents injuries and improves performance. The older and more deconditioned you have become, the more your fitness program should include single leg stance balance training.
Do you perform any explosive exercises?
We get slower before we get weaker, and life is an up-tempo game. We need to perform exercise that enhances quickness and improves control of deceleration forces. What you do in the gym is reflected in how well you can move during activities of daily living. If you continually exercise at slow tempos, you will get better at moving slowly. If you train explosively, you get better at moving at faster speeds. The capacity to decelerate a fall requires fast reactions. Gracefully traveling up the stairs and getting out of the car are only improved with exercise that enhances power production and speed of movement.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness
Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.” While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.
#10–Establish A Veggie And Protein Habit
One of the biggest deficits I see in many food logs is the lack of protein consumed. We have been conditioned to snack on high carb/highly processed food, so eating more protein can be a difficult shift. When I do see protein, it’s in the higher fat varieties of sausage, bacon, burgers, etc. It would benefit younger individuals to start adding healthy doses of protein to their diets as soon as they are responsible for their own food preparation. Shoot to have some form of lean protein as the base of your meal along with a couple of servings of vegetables. Once you have that base (taking up ½ to ⅔ of your plate), then you can add in whole grains, starchy carbs, fruits, dairy, healthy fats, etc. Protein increases your metabolic rate more than any other nutrient, aids in recovery, helps build and maintain muscle mass, and much more. We recommend 25-35% of total calories to come from protein, or 0.8-1gram/pound of body weight. Most individuals should shoot for 4-8 servings of vegetables per day as well.
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
To read the article, click on the link below:
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. I can speak first-hand about the horror of this disease. Colon cancer, slowly and painfully, killed my father at the age of forty-nine. Everyone needs to learn the facts about colon cancer and get tested.
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the USA. The good news is that colon cancer can be beaten if it is caught at an early stage. The American Cancer Society recommends people over the age of fifty have a colonoscopy examination. Unfortunately, only about 60 percent of the fifty years plus population are up-to-date on their colon cancer screening, and many have never been screened at all. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you need to get tested at an earlier age.
A worrisome trend is a rise in colorectal cancers in young people. Take the time to read the attached article by Roni Caryn Rabin in the February 28, 2017 edition of The New York Times. Doctors are not certain why more 20 and 30 year olds are developing these cancers, but we need to be aware that this disease is no longer just an older adult issue.
Half of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented if people got tested regularly. That’s why the American Cancer Society, in partnership with several other organizations, has set a goal to increase colon cancer screening rates to 80 percent by 2018. This could save more than 7,000 lives a year.
More than 50,000 deaths from colon cancer are expected this year. That makes up 9 percent of all cancer deaths in the USA. Proactive screening for colorectal cancer works. We need to get more people involved.
Read the NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/well/live/colon-and-rectal-cancers-rising-in-young-people.html?_r=0
-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS