Cardio for Scoliosis

Scoliosis is defined as a sideways curving of the spine. A normal spine curves inward in the lumbar region and outward in the thoracic region in the mid-back. When the curvature begins to develop laterally, it can affect muscles, nerves, other bones and even organs.

The most noticeable symptoms of scoliosis are: 1) shoulders and/or pelvis of uneven height and 2) one shoulder that sticks out more than the other. The possible complications of scoliosis are varied, but not severe in a vast majority of cases. As the spine bends sideways, vertebrae become tilted at the bends and the discs in between them experience uneven pressure. This leaves people with scoliosis susceptible to early disc degeneration. Some people may have mild breathing complications, since a curve in the thoracic spine affects the positioning of the ribs.

Many people do not experience muscular pain due to scoliosis, since the condition develops in childhood and the body grows to adapt to it. Disc-related pain is the greatest concern for people with scoliosis who wish to maintain a high level of activity.

Cardiovascular exercise is an essential component of a healthy life. Keeping the heart and lungs in peak physical condition allows large volumes of oxygen-rich blood to flow to the body’s tissues, keeping them healthy and strong. People with scoliosis may find this type of exercise difficult, since the spine is a high-impact area.

Common forms of cardio, such as running and cycling, may be painful for those with scoliosis. When running, the body transfers forces to the ground, which reciprocates a force on the body. The spine experiences a significant amount of compression while running, which could be harmful to those with angled vertebrae. The same occurs when cycling; every irregularity in the ground jolts the spine.

Cardio exercise is not outside the realm of possibility for those with scoliosis. Since the curved spine is sensitive to jolting, forms of exercise that keep the heart rate up without loading the spine are ideal. The following are considered safe scoliosis cardio exercises:

1. Water Aerobics: Exercising in water is ideal for anyone with back pain and spinal problems; the water takes the weight of your body, leaving your spine unburdened. It is also ideal for both strength-building and cardiovascular training, since the density of the water resists your body’s movement. This keeps your muscles, heart and lungs working hard. Swimming is the most common water exercise, but water aerobics classes offer more varied workouts.

2. Elliptical Training: Elliptical machines provide the benefits of running without the jarring effects. This machine allows you to glide rather than run, leaving your spine unburdened.

3. Stair Machines: These machines allow you to step as if walking up stairs, but with less force being transferred through your feet to the rest of your body.

4. Walking: This low-intensity exercise is ideal for those wishing to maintain a healthy body. It may not satisfy those looking for an intense workout, however.

If any of the above cause you pain, you may simply be pushing yourself too hard. Start slow and work your way up to more intense workouts. Cardio is essential for those with scoliosis. Knowing which exercises will benefit and which will harm you is the one of the most important components of back pain management. See http://www.livestrong.com/article/394848-taboo-exercises-for-scoliosis/ for a list of exercises to avoid.

HIIT Cardio Versus Fartlek Training

HIIT cardio is the new craze sweeping across gymnasiums in Europe and North America – the reason for this… it’s fast, efficient and it works!

High intensity interval training is something that athletes and runners in particular have been well aware of for a long time now. Fartlek training, translated from Swedish is ‘speed play’ and this has been a popular method of fitness training for runners for a long time and one method that has been shown to burn more fat than steady paced running. Fartlek training mixes slow paced running with high paced intervals of running, one example that most people who have ever played Football will be familiar with is jogging the length of the pitch, sprinting the width, jogging the length and then sprinting the width again.

Although Fartlek training is still a great method of physical training, the Tabatha protocol of HIIT shone a light on the possibility of condensing a workout dramatically without taking away any of the benefits. The problem with the Tabatha protocol of high intensity interval training is that it sounds false; no one ever really believes that a 4 minute workout can strip fat and although the 8 circuits that compromise the Tabatha method are extremely difficult, athletes often tend to feel they have cheated themselves leaving the gym after 4 minutes. On way in which body builders chose to incorporate the Tabatha protocol of HIIT Cardio to their sessions was to blast one 4 minutes session either side of the normal body building routine. This tends to be a very popular way of using HIIT without feeling you have cheated yourself.

The Tabatha protocol will work for anyone using it. What we all have to keep in mind is that time spent in the gym is not in direct correlation to results gained in the gym. Always keep in mind the famous saying ‘you can train hard or you can train long, you can’t do both’. A great example of this is the direct comparison of the traditional one hour treadmill session for fat burning at a slow steady pace versus the very popular and newly found 30 sets in 20 minutes Kettlebell Workouts. Studies show that not only are more calories burnt in the actual training session of the shorter period of activity, but participants display greater muscular definition, lower body fat and far greater fitness levels. This is just one way in which training harder for shorter periods of time is proven to be more beneficial.

Often you will hear about Boxers overtraining for a fight and not feeling fresh when the big night arrives which can have devastating effects, think of Amir Khan in his most recent outing against Danny Garcia. He was originally primed to a fight a few months earlier before Lamont Peterson was banned for taking illegal substances. After being stopped in 4 rounds only a couple of months after peaking for a fight that never happened, a lot of pundits and coaches around the world attributed this to over training. There are others such as the never outspoken Chris Eubank Senior who claims over training is a myth and a state of mind and it is more about becoming stale when training which the biggest worry is. Whilst this may be the case with Boxers, there is a lot of scientific evidence in body building as to how overtraining can halt results altogether. For instance studies have shown time and time again that Bicep progress is halted by over training and in fact as soon as the Bicep is over worked the muscle shuts down and no growth or repair will occur. In addition to this, often the best way to get over a training Plateau (a stage when progress as halted) the best way to get past this is take one week of the Gym allowing all the muscles and joints to recover. After doing this, most people find that they can instantly lift more weight than one week previous when they were stuck lifting a certain weight.

HIIT Training seems to answer most if not all of the problems associated with physical training; it keeps you fresh in body and mind. It combats injury and overtraining problems and is a tremendous fat burner and a great way to increase your physical fitness.

High School Wrestling: Cardio Options for Conditioning

Is wrestling a six minute match similar to running a marathon? No. Is wrestling a six minute match similar to running a 5K? No, again. Sometimes wrestlers do a lot of running to condition themselves for wrestling only to find themselves “gassed” before the match is even half over. So, what is a wrestler to do? I will discuss some cardio options in regards to wrestling conditioning.

First, wrestling is primarily an anaerobic sport. Anaerobic means “without oxygen.” Wrestling relies mostly on the ATP-PC and Glycolytic energy systems. The ATP-PC energy system supplies energy for up to approximately ten seconds of exercise. Imagine a track athlete sprinting for 100 meters. The Glycolytic energy system supplies energy for exercise lasting from approximately ten seconds to two minutes. Imagine a wrestling match where you control your opponent for a while and then explosively shoot for a takedown. There are several explosive bursts in a wrestling match. Wrestling is virtually 100%anaerobic exercise. In contrast, running a marathon is approximately 98%aerobic exercise. So, why train like a marathon runner if you’re a wrestler?

Some trainers believe that LSD (long, slow distance running) builds an aerobic base. Aerobic base training is believed to enhance the anaerobic work that will follow later on in the conditioning program. Other trainers dispute this notion. Some trainers believe that steady state cardio like jogging can clear the body of waste products and speed recovery after intense strength training. Other trainers dispute this notion as well. Trainers that don’t favor steady state cardio usually favor some type of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). HIIT usually involves periods of high intensity activity alternating with periods of lower intensity activity. For instance, one might alternate sprinting for thirty seconds and jogging for thirty seconds for a designated period of time.

Some Potential Benefits of Steady State Cardio:

  • Build an aerobic base which will enhance your anaerobic exercise later on
  • Increase your work capacity (i.e. build a bigger gas tank, as Matt Wiggins would say)
  • Removal of waste products from the body after intense strength training
  • Speed recovery after intense strength training

Some Potential Drawbacks of Steady State Cardio:

  • Steady state cardio trains slow-twitch muscle fibers (as a wrestler you want more fast twitch muscle fibers that are responsible for strength, power and speed)
  • Increased cortisol production which may cause muscle loss
  • Overuse injuries (e.g. to your knees)
  • Can be time consuming

Some Potential Benefits of HIIT:

  • Tends to develop fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • Anaerobic training can develop aerobicand anaerobic capabilities
  • Shorter duration/less time consuming

Some Potential Drawbacks of HIIT:

  • May lead to CNS burnout (i.e. overtraining)
  • May lead to an excess of anaerobic work if you’re also strength training and doing a lot of hard wrestling (again leading to overtraining)

Types of Cardio to Consider:

  • Steady State or LSD (long, slow distance)
  • HIIT
  • Tabatas (another form of HIIT that has become very popular)
  • HOC (i.e. High Octane Cardio–combining running with bodyweight or dumbbell exercises)
  • Sprints
  • Hill Sprints
  • Circuit Training (e.g. Working Class Cardio by Matt Wiggins–no running involved)

Points to Consider:

  • Trainer Ian King has had success with athletes in which he dropped cardio conditioning from their training entirely
  • When Dr. Fred Hatfield was put in charge of boxer Evander Holyfield’s physical conditioning prior to his fight with Buster Douglas in 1990, he dropped all roadwork (long, slow distance running) from Evander’s conditioning program
  • Wrestling is primarily an anaerobic (i.e. without oxygen) sport
  • Steady state cardio may be good for recovery
  • Steady state cardio may be good if you are “out of shape”
  • If you are strength training and wrestling hard in practice, then don’t overdo interval training
  • Steady state cardio may help increase your work capacity (i.e. build a bigger gas tank)

As you can see, cardiovascular training for wrestling is complicated. You may want to do some longer running in the off season and switch to interval training when the season begins. Educate yourself about the different cardio conditioning options available to you.

Let me leave you with a reminder–a wrestling match is not like running a marathon.

VO2 Max: A Measure of Cardio Respiratory Fitness

Introduction

Assessment of cardiorespiratory fitness is important for both athletes as well as the members of the general population. In athletes for apparent reasons. While in general population, VO2 max can be used to predict subsequent development of cardiovascular disease. Thus, VO2 max studies can be used for prevention, both primary as well as secondary, of development of cardiovascular sequelae like angina pectoris or myocardial infarction.

Furthermore, since cardiorespiratory fitness has been linked decisively to early deaths from a variety of causes, VO2 max studies in general population assume immense significance.

So what exactly is VO2 max? Well, in literal terms, it is the volume (V) of oxygen (O2) during maximum exercise that your body is able to transfer. As we all know, during exercise, your body needs energy and the chemical reaction to produce energy require oxygen (especially aerobic exercises). Thus, the higher your VO2 max,the more your body can transport oxygen effectively during times of intense training. Therefore, you will be able to train longer at higher intensity levels.

Methods of Assessing VO2 max

VO2 max can be measured using either maximal or sub maximal exercise testing protocols. Maximum exercise testing involves pushing the subject to the limit of intense physical exercise. So much so, that immediate medical attention is usually required. Maximal exercise testing is a true reflection of VO2 max. However, for obvious reasons, this method is best avoided, at least in the general population. Most authorities recommend the submaximal method (using submaximal loads of exercise intensity). Once the values are obtained using this method, regression equations are used to predict the actual VO2 max.

Whereas, maximal exercise testing is more sensitive, submaximal exercise testing is safer, esp. when implemented in members of the population who are not accustomed to training.

Maximal Exercise Testing:

Maximal exercise testing requires trained individuals and sophisticated equipment. Therefore, it is used only in certain clinical settings.

Submaximal Exercise Tests

Astrand and Rhyming Step Test: This test is carried out using a 33cm step/ aerobic bench for women and 40cm step for men. It involves stepping up and down the step or bench at the rate of 22.5 per min. ECG and steady state heart rate readings are taken. It would require 25.8 and 29.5 mL/Kg/min of oxygen uptake for women and men respectively.

YMCA step test and The Canadian Home Fitness Test can also be used for submaximal exercise testing. The step tests are popular because of use of minimal equipment and ease of implementation. Another major advantage is the minimal cost as well as the fact that large number of subjects can be tested at the same time as shown by The Canadian Home Fitness Test.

3 min. YMCA Step Test: This test determines how quickly your heart rate returns to normal after a bout of exercise. It uses a 12 inch aerobic bench. The subject steps onto the bench with a rate of 24 per minute (estimated oxygen uptake of 25.8 mL/Kg/Min.). After 3 min., the subject immediately sits down and the HR is counted for a minute. It is crucial that the HR is counted starting within 5 sec of stopping the exercise. The obtained HR values are then used to compare against established norms.

Treadmill Tests: A minimal of 3 min. treadmill test using 70% of heart rate reserve or and 85% of maximal heart rate as the end point of test is a better predictor of VO2 max than the step tests. Pretty much like in the step tests, achieving a steady state heart rate is imperative to get accurate data. Thus, the need to carry out the test for a minimum of 3min. Variety of treadmill test protocols are used: Bruce Protocol being the most popular of all.

Cycle Ergometer Tests

Astrand-Rhyming Cycle Ergometer Test: This is a 6 minute single stage test. The subject pedals at a rate of 50rpm to achieve a HR between 125 and 170 beats/min. HR should be measured during the 5th and 6th minute of the test. An average of 2 or more HR reading is taken and used to estimate VO2 max from Modified Astrand-Rhyming Normogram.

Other test like Maritz Test use a multi-stage cycle ergometer test to determine VO2 max.

Conclusion

A plethora of tests for assessing aerobic capacity are available. This, however, makes the choice of test to be used a bit difficult. A lot, however, depends on the subject, his/her cardiorespiratory status as well as availability of equipment and trained personnel.

At the end of the day, designing and implementing a good fitness program, either as a preventive measure for a cardiovascular disease or to achieve fitness goals is equally, if not more, important.

Should You Do Cardio Exercise Before or After Strength Training?

A question that I am often asked and one that I have seen countless times on message boards across the Internet is whether a person should do cardiovascular exercise before or after a resistance training workout? Before going any further, I want to clearly state that it is my position that everyone should engage in a cardiovascular exercise of their choice for 5 to 10 minutes prior to any workout, be it a cardiovascular, resistance or flexibility workout. This is vitally important for several reasons as a proper, light-intensity cardiovascular exercise will warm up the muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons that will be used more intensely in the following workout routine. Warming up with cardio also increases the core temperature slightly, increases circulation, slightly elevates the heart rate and helps to prepare the heart for an increased workload, it helps increase lung functioning and helps you to mentally focus in on the upcoming workout routine. The most important advantage to warming up with light intensity cardio is the substantial decrease in risk of injury. If the body is not properly warmed up, you are much more likely to experience an injury to a muscle, joint, ligament or tendon.

Now back to the question of whether you should do cardiovascular exercise prior to or after a resistance workout? There is no single best answer here and instead, you should evaluate your individual fitness goals. If you goal is to increase endurance, stamina or overall cardiovascular health, then I suggest doing your cardio workout prior to weight and resistance training. By doing the cardio workout first (after your 5 to 10 minute warm up of course), you are able to engage in a more intense cardio session, which possibly might include some intervals in which you really push up to your lactic acid threshold or VO2 max level. It is much less likely that you would be able to achieve high intensity cardiovascular work after you have engaged in a weight training session. So, in short if your goal is to increase cardiovascular fitness levels, you should perform cardio workouts prior to resistance training.

On the other hand, if your goal is fat and weight loss, a current mode of thinking in the fitness community is by doing a cardiovascular workout after a resistance workout, you increases the rate of fat metabolism (fat burn as it is often referred to as). The theory is that by engaging in an intense resistance workout, you will deplete the glycogen stores in the muscles during this workout. Once the glycogen stores are depleted, the body begins to utilize fats in the body for fuel. Endurance athletes have long know this, yet typically in order for this to occur in endurance training, an athlete has to continuously run for approximately 90 minutes to fully deplete the muscles of glycogen. Therefore, I remain somewhat skeptical that many average people working out are pushing themselves to the point of glycogen depletion during their resistance workout, particularly workouts of less than an hour in duration. For more advanced trainers, I do believe that it is possible and therefore can be an effective means of decreasing body fat perhaps for these individuals.

I tend to look at it like this, if you are engaging in a cardiovascular and resistance workout on the same day back-to-back, one or the other will be of a lesser intensity level naturally. Again, evaluate your personal fitness goals before deciding whether to do your cardio workouts before or after resistance training. If you are trying to build muscle, you want to have as much muscle strength as you can available for your resistance workouts, therefore doing cardio before weight training would be counterproductive to your muscle building goals. If you are looking to gain endurance or heart health, place your focus on the cardio workouts and do them first. Remember, regardless of which you end up doing first, it is more important to properly warm up with a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes of cardio (even if it is only a brisk walk on the treadmill) in order to prepare the body for the workouts ahead, to get your head in the right space in order to bang out a productive workout, and most importantly to decrease the risk of injury. This debate won’t mean a thing if you get injured 5 minutes into a workout and are sidelined for the next 8 weeks rehabilitating an injury!

Lose Weight Fast – Harvard Study Confirms That Cardio and Aerobics Are Dead?

If you are like most of us, you may be trying your gut out with long and hard workouts to lose weight fast. But did you stop to think why you have still not lost even an ounce after so many workouts?

Most of us think that doing long hard workouts are essential to lose excess fat. But you may be surprised to note that losing excess body fat is achieved just doing the opposite of arduous and tedious workouts.

A recent study at the Harvard University has proven that long cardio workouts and aerobics are no longer effective in achieving your ideal body weight; even worse they can wreck your body.

They have revealed that the key to protecting your heart is exactly the opposite of cardio. It is not endurance but intensity. They have found that the more intense the exertion, the lower the risk of heart disease.

They also found that those who performed exercises that is more vigorous and in short intervals had a lower risk of death than those who performed less vigorous long duration exercises.

Aerobics and Cardio falls under the low-intensity, long-duration exercises category, and increases your risk of heart disease and death.

They have revealed that the most effective kind of exercises to lose extra weight is the high-intense, short-duration model. You can have a intense workout for 2-3 minutes and rest for 2-3 minutes. This can be brisk walking or some thing that can make your heart beat faster and stop and rest for the same period of time.

For the start do not exert yourself too much, gradually try to increase the spells. Remember to take care, if you are having heart diseases or any other kind of disease. If this is the case; better consult your physician and get him to recommend some intense exercises that would suit your physical condition.

Even though experts used to think that cardio and aerobic exercises burnt fat during long workouts; the new finding are that it was not so. This send a message to your body that you need a reserve of fat for the next time you do long duration exercises. This self defeating cycle ensures that your body makes more fat every time you finish the long workouts. Now you may see why you did not lose fat after so many hours in the gym. Each time you burn fat by cardio and aerobic exercises you body reacts by making more.

The High Intense, Low Duration Exercises Will Last for Maximum of 15-20 Minutes. This means Your Body Has No Chance of Burning Fat During Exercises. What Really Happens is That Your Body Will Burn Carbs form the Muscle Tissues.

LISS Cardio – 3 Tips on LISS Cardio

LISS cardio is the exercise you need to get shredded! I’m sure you all have heard of HIIT cardio: High Intensity Interval Training. Well LISS is the opposite end of the spectrum: Low Intensity Steady State.

You may be asking yourself why you would want to do LISS cardio. The answer is simple! To preserve that lean muscle mass you have worked so hard to develop!! This type of cardio essentially bypasses the body using carbohydrates as fuel and instead uses fat.

1) The key to LISS cardio is to keep your heart rate between 65% and 75% of your maximum and to make sure the session last no longer than one hour. Of course you can do more than one session in a day but do not do them consecutively.

2) Examples of LISS cardio:

a. Take your dog for a walk! Perfect LISS cardio for you and great cardio for your dog! It’s a win-win for both of you!

b. Ride a stationary bike at 65 RPM

3) Do not eat anything before you do your cardio! I personally like to do mine right after I wake up and/or immediately after a resistance training workout. Your body will have already used its glycogen stores and long as the intensity is low it will immediately start using fat as energy!

You don’t always have to be jumping, kicking, punching, sweating buckets in order to burn fat. If we use a little bit of science, have faith and try something new you will be pleasantly surprised at the results. I recall when I started using LISS: it was like doing nothing. Fast forward several weeks and I achieved the best conditioning of my life!

It is little things like LISS cardio that will help you get that lean, ripped look you have been working so hard to achieve.