Results matching “Bird”

CollapseThe Science of Sport takes a look at a phenomenon which has attracted its fair share of media attentioned recently - sudden death during exercise. Although it's a terrible thing, the article makes a very important point :

regular exercise protects the heart. It lowers cholesterol, improves cardiac function, and increases life expectancy and quality of life.


[the] overall chances of this (sudden death during exercise) happening are still lower than for the inactive population.

A good read.

Triathlon Training Frenzy - Test articles

Triathlon Training FrenzyKeep up with Ace's passions for Cooking, Basketball and, of course, Triathlons. Triathlon Training Frenzy.

StretchingVia FitSugar : MSNBC notes another study on the positive aspects of regular stretching - possible strength gains. It's all good.

Fight Geek - Test articles

Fight GeekIn the mood for a fight? Head over to Fight Geek. Good site.

Running over sand dunesOver at The Fit Club there's a brief look at the pros and cons of various running surfaces. What's your favourite?

KB exercise demonstrationsThere's a great collection of kettlebell exercise demonstration videos over on the Kettlebell Inc site. Enjoy.

Inch Replica Dumbbell

The Inch Dumbbell is named after the inventor of the implement, an old-time performing strongman named Thomas Inch, from Scarborough England. He would travel about the country challenging bystanders to lift the globe dumbbell, offering prize money to anyone who could do so. To read more about the history of this tremendous test of Grip strength, check out Joe Roark’s excellent read on the site on the history of the Inch Dumbbell, INCH 101. Again, much respect and appreciation to Joe Roark for his excellent website, Iron History.

Eventually, companies like IronMind and Sorinex began to understand the allure of the Inch Dumbbell and began producing replicas of this extraordinary test of Grip strength. Now, many Grip enthusiasts have their own Inch Dumbbell replicas.

In my opinion, one of the most impressive feats of Grip strength is lifting the Inch Dumbbell. This dumbbell weighs 172 pounds.

172 pounds doesn’t sound too heavy, does it?

If you train at a gym where they have heavy dumbbells, they may have some dumbbells that weigh this much or very close. No problem.

In fact, I bet most people reading this can load 172 pounds on a normal weight lifting bar and pick it up with one hand fairly easily.

However, the Inch Dumbbell is a different story altogether.

The Inch Dumbbell, weighing in at 172 pounds, has a handle 2.38 inches thick! Compare that with the handle size of the run-of-the-mill dumbbell and the deadlift bars at your gym, which are about one inch thick, and you’ll understand right away why it is so difficult to lift. In all my years of Grip training, I have never seen anyone that could wrap their fingers around the handle and touch their thumb. Not even me, and my hands are close to nine inches in length!


Take a look at the dumbbells in your gym next time you are there. Some dumbbells at your facility probably have weights that are loaded over a handle and tightened so they do not shift around while you are using them. You will notice that when you do curls or presses, the weights my spin, but they do not change their position on the handle. The weights rotate freely, completely separate from the handle, and so then do not torque your wrist too aggressively while you are training with them.

If you have dumbbells at your gym that are indeed solid, remember that the handles are still only one inch thick, so you are able to wrap your fingers completely around them and pin your thumb down on top to secure your grip. Even the most violent and explosive lifts, such as the one-hand snatch, do not pose much of a challenge for maintaining a grip on them because of the small handle size.

However, the Inch Dumbbell is made of solid cast iron. The handle and the bells at the end are not separate. Conversely, the bells and handle make up one unit.

Combine the challenge of the handle size with the fact that the Inch Dumbbell is one huge chunk of cast iron, and you have a grip implement that literally tears your grip open when you try to lift it.

When you apply your grip on the handle, as I mentioned, there will inevitably be a space between your thumb and fingers. This space means your control of the implement is hindered.

Upon trying to lift the Inch, it may indeed begin to leave the ground, but the lifter soon finds out just how nasty this piece of iron history is. Quickly the globes, whose mass lies far out beyond the edge of the handle, start to turn downward away from the thumb, out of control. If you do not have mighty thumb strength to suppress this spinning action, you are not going to be able to break this implement more than a couple of inches off the ground. On numerous occasions, at the World Series of Grip, a strength challenge Diesel Crew often holds at strongman contests, athletes of all shapes and experience levels have tried to pull this piece of iron to lockout only to find out that they are lacking the power needed to fully lift the Inch.

I too was unable to lift the Inch Dumbbell on my first attempts in September of 2003 at Rick Walker’s battle for Grip Supremacy. After my first attempts on the Inch Dumbbell, I quickly became obsessed with lifting it. I fashioned my own thick-bar implements from house-hold items with hopes that I could at the very least build my grip strength levels so that the next time we crossed paths, I could lift it. Unfortunately, the various things I tried were not enough, and again I fell to my knees in defeat the next time I attempted to lift the Inch.

However, I never ever give up.

Just as the Wright brothers tried for years to perfect the design of their aircraft and finally persevered by getting their airplane to fly, eventually I too was able to get the Inch Dumbbell aloft.

But this accomplishment was slow in coming, and did not happen until I was able to purchase the very Inch Replica that gave me so much trouble all those times. Specific training was the key to success in lifting the Inch for me.

In future installments of this series, I will discuss training methods that I have used in order to fully lift the Inch Dumbbell. There are many tactics that grip athletes have used in order to replicate the replica. You will soon understand why some of these strategies are more successful in developing a grip strong enough to lift the inch and why some are not very successful at all.

Julius 'Judy' Patching - Test articles

Julius 'Judy' Patching

He fired a starter's gun at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Now - aged 91 - he's running with the torch in the leadup to Beijing. Not bad at all.

Ross Training Message BoardsThis month's collaboration with Run to Win's Blaine Moore - great sources of training information - kicks off with a look at one of my favourites : forums. Strength-training forums to be precise.

I'm always on the looking for new sources of strength-training information. One of my favourites is the humble forum - a quick way to join in conversations with a number of people; or simply to see what's happening in the world.

A few of the ones already on my regular reading list :

Ross Training Message Boards

These cover a range of strength and conditioning topics, including an excellent section on DIY training equipment.


I love the approach taken by CrossFit - it's a great mix. The forums reflect this, and talk about anything to do with their routines; and their philosophy of 'a little bit of everything'.

Dragon Door

Although they're best known for kettlebells, the Dragon Door forum looks at a great range of strength-training approaches. Good stuff.

John Stone Fitness

John Stone has made an amazing physical transformation over the years, and the forums take a detailed look at the many ways in which you can do the same.


This is from Dave Draper's superb site, and shows just how little things have changed over the years. The information here is always top-notch.


Sherdog is easily my favourite of the MMA forums, and looks at all manner of strength training and condition relating to this excellent sport.


As the name implies, this forum is focused on the heavier side of strength training. Whether you're a Strongman, Powerlifter or just someone who loves throwing iron around; you'll love this one.

Of course there are many others. Which ones would you add?

Taking pulse

A little over a year ago I took a look at the idea of using your pulse rate to determine the length of your rest breaks. It's a technique I still use - and it works well.

The original piece :

When you're lifting weights, how long do you rest between sets? Chances are it's time based - 30sec, 2 minutes etc. In this article I'll look at the use of your pulserate to determine when to begin the next set.

I first came across this concept in the article Bulgarian Leg Training Secrets [1]. In it, Angel Spassov and Terry Todd write :

The Bulgarian team uses the pulse rate as a gauge to let them know how far to take the sets. They believe that each of the moderate to heavy sets should produce a pulse rate of 162-180 beats per minute. The lifter doesn't begin his next set until his pulse has dropped to between 102 and 108. The Bulgarian team does virtually this same workout five or six days a week, along with quite a lot of other leg work that goes with the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Now, before you race off and start measuring your pulse during sets of heavy step-ups (if you don't do them, they're well worth considering), there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first of these is your resting pulserate.

Measuring your pulse rate
Keep in mind that this is your resting pulserate, so there's no point taking it right after an activity or when you're stressed out at work. The usual time to take it is first thing in the morning.

There are a couple of ways to take it. The manual option is to place two fingers over one of the pulse points (this video [.mov, .07mb] shows where they are) and count how many beats there are during a one minute period. Typical figures are shown below.

The second method is to use a device such as a pulse monitor watch, which essentially does the same thing (you pay for the convenience and consistency). Either way, write down the resting pulserate - preferably every day. This should gradually come down as your fitness improves - eventually it will level off, but that could take a while.

Baby heart monitoringTypical resting pulse rates

Note that these are typical values for the population at large - these rates will vary according to your personal fitness and certain medical conditions.

Babies to age 1: 100–160 bpm
Children ages 1 to 10: 60–140 bpm
Children age 10+ and adults: 60–100 bpm
Well-conditioned athletes: 40–60 bpm

Factors affecting pulse rate

If your resting pulse is well outside these ranges, the cause could be one or more of the following :

Activity: try to measure your pulse before you even get out of bed in the morning. Once you've had time to wake up fully, jump out of bed, get stressed about work etc it's too late. Keep a watch beside your bed.

Fever: one of the reasons for measuring your pulse every day is that it is often an early sign of illness. If your body is trying to fight something off, your pulse will probably be elevated.

Hyperthyroidism: an overactive thyroid gland can push up a pulse rate.

Anemia: anemia is a lack of oxygen in the blood. This can be caused by a number of things (iron deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiency are the most common), and will typically be associated with a higher pulse.

CaffeineStimulants: caffeine is perhaps the most common - so avoid that cup of coffee before checking your pulse. Other stimulants include cigarettes, amphetimines, decongestants, diet pills and asthma medications.

Heart disease: This may be direct (such as Tachycardia or Bradycardia), or indirect (such as the many forms of ischaemic heart disease). Whatever the case, see a doctor before embarking on any sort of fitness quest.

The second consideration is your active pulse rate. Once you've measured your resting pulse for a week or two you'll have an idea of how fit you are when you're not doing anything, and you'll know when you start to come down with a cold. Now you need to find out just how much your pulse changes with a bit of strength training.

This is the maximum heart rate your body will sustain in its present condition. Although most closely associated with age, the HR will vary between same-aged individuals with differing fitness profiles.

An estimate of HR often used by gym-goers and trainers alike is :

HR = 220 - age of the individual

This is by no means a detailed assessment of fitness, but it will give you an idea.

Other research by Miller et al (1993) [2] and Londeree and Moeschberger (1982) [3] proposes alternatives to this formula. An estimate combining all three approaches may be found on the Sports Coach site [4].

Target Heart Rate (THR)

The Target Heart Rate (sometimes known as Training Heart Rate) is not a single value but a range signifying the pulserates most beneficial to the heart and lungs during exercise. This value will vary according to the fitness and goals of the individual, and is commonly divided into five Training Zones :

  1. Healthy Heart Zone (Warm up) : 50 - 60% of HR. This is the easiest level and ideal for those just beginning their fitness quest.
  2. Fitness Zone (Fat Burning) : 60 - 70% of HR. Slightly more intense than the Healthy Heart Zone.
  3. Aerobic Zone (Endurance Training) : 70 - 80% of HR. Improves cardiovasular and respiratory systems in addition to strengthening the heart. This is the preferred zone for those training for an endurance event.
  4. Anaerobic Zone (Performance Training) : 80 - 90% of HR. Benefits of this zone include an improved VO2 (the greatest amount of oxygen that can be consumed during exercise), a higher lactate tolerance and a greater ability to fight fatigue.
  5. Red Line (Maximum Effort) : 90 - 100% of HR. A very intense level, and only suitable for short bursts by those who are already in very good shape.

Those involved in strength training will be looking at the Anaerobic Zone.

Calculating THR

Now that you know your estimated Maximum Heart Rate and your desired Training Zone, it's time to calculate your Target Heart Rate. This will give you a range to work with in your strength training sessions.

There are three basic ways to calculate the THR. The simplest method is :

THR = HR x % Intensity

eg: someone with a maximum heartrate of 180bpm looking to train in the Anaerobic Zone will have a Target Heart Rate of 180 x ~85% = 153bpm.

Karvonen Method

The Karvonen Method is more accurate, factoring in Resting Heart Rate (RHR):

THR = ((HRHR) × %Intensity) + HR

eg: the same individual as above has a resting heartrate (HR) of 70bmp. Strength training should elevate the heartrate to (180-70x.85) + 70 = 163bpm

NB: Kerry Neilson from the University of Colorado has a simple online calculator using this method.

Zoladz Method

An alternative to the Karvonen Method is the Zoladz Method, which derives exercise zones by subtracting values from HRmax.

THR = HR – Adjuster +/- 5 bpm

Zone 1 Adjuster = 50 bpm
Zone 2 Adjuster = 40 bpm
Zone 3 Adjuster = 30 bpm
Zone 4 Adjuster = 20 bpm
Zone 5 Adjuster = 10 bpm

NB: Zone 1 = easiest, Zone 5 = most difficult.

eg: using the same individual again, THR = 180 - 20+/-5 = 155-165bpm.

Resting upRest breaks

This brings us back to the length of rest breaks between sets. Just prior to exercise, measure your pulse. This will give you an idea of your active - though not greatly exerted - level. Each strength training set will elevate your heartrate to around your Target Heart Rate, and the intervening rest breaks should be long enough to allow your heartrate to slow to somewhere between this active rate and about 120 bpm.

How long will this take? Obviously it will vary from person to person, but it's likely to be closer to 30 seconds than 5 minutes (for workouts in the Anaerobic Zone). A good indicator is the number of sets and reps you do using this technique - it should be about the same as before; if it isn't, either the rest breaks were too long before or they're too short now. Time to do a little fine tuning.


bpm: beats per minute

Bradycardia: a resting heartrate lower than 60 beats per minute

ischaemic heart disease: heart disease characterised by a reduced blood flow to the heart

Tachycardia: a resting heartrate greater than 100 beats per minute


1. Bulgarian Leg Training Secrets
Angel Spassov, Ph.D., D.Sc. and Terry Todd, Ph.D

2. Miller et al (1993) - 'Predicting max HR' - Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 25(9), 1077-1081

3. Londeree and Moeschberger (1982) 'Effect of age and other factors on HR max' - Research Quarterly for Exercise & Sport, 53(4), 297-304

4. Maximum Heart Rate
Brian MacKenzie
Sports Coach


Blaine Moore
Track your resting heartrate
Run to Win

The Franklin Institue
Vital Signs

Pulse Measurement


Wrong Diagnosis
Types of Heart Disease

Final thoughts on using pulse rate

As I mentioned earlier, this is a technique I still use. How about you - how do you time your rest breaks?

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