Monday, May 10, 2010

HIIT, LSD and timed kettlebell sets

I recently discovered the work of Dr. Al Sears, M.D. (author of “the Doctor’s heart cure” and “P.A.C.E. – the 12 minute fitness revolution”). In his P.A.C.E. system he proposes that traditional cardio exercise methods (a.k.a. LSD, or Long, Slow, Distance training) is actually bad for the cardio-vascular system. According to Dr. Sears extended cardio sessions actually decreases the output of both the heart and lungs due to bodily adaptations. His thesis is that the body actually slows down cardiac output because it is trying to conserve energy for extended periods of exertion. According to him this is the reason that apparently healthy marathon runners simply drop dead during a marathon because of cardiac arrest. He therefore proposes short, intense sessions that will stimulate the cardio-vascular system to become stronger and more vigorous.

The work of Dr. Sears reminded me of the debate in the fitness industry about what is best for fitness, health, fat-loss, etc. When aerobics first hit the scene in the late 60’s many people converted towards an exercise regime that entailed some form of mild, sustained activity over a period of at least 20-30 minutes. Recently HIIT (high intensity interval training) became a bit of a talking point. According to some researchers the best form of exercise for health, fitness, etc. is a session based on short bursts of intense activity coupled with fairly short rest periods.

Having thought about all this for a bit I’m wondering where the timed sets approach to kettlebells fit into this picture. I cannot say that timed sets are truly aerobic…the sets are simply not long enough. I do know though that my heart and lungs are working when doing timed sets and that my general levels of endurance keep increasing when doing timed sets frequently. On the other hand, nobody who has ever done a 10 minute set with the bells will say that timed sets are not intense. Perhaps GS provides us with a hybrid fitness method that is somewhere between marathon running and sprinting. I’m not nearly well versed enough in exercise physiology to propose a final answer but I do know from practical experience that timed sets make me both fitter (from an endurance point of view) and stronger, more explosive, etc. Perhaps lifting heavy stuff for time brings a totally new form of fitness to the party. I’ll think about this some more and perhaps I’ll even come up with better answers than the current ones. Who knows?

Anyway, my session for tonight went like this:

2x20kg Jerk: 2 minutes @ 6rpm

2x20kg Jerk: 3x1 min on / 1 min off @ 6rpm

16kg Snatch: 4 minutes @ 16rpm

20kg Swing: 25/25

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