My daughter and her firefighter husband were over to celebrate his academy graduation to engineer—he can now drive those big red trucks. He’s getting back to training now and brought up my recent newsletter on how cardio may limit muscle growth…
JW: I saw you mention that your runs and sprints on the exercise bike could be slowing down your muscle gains. Do you think you really need those cardio workouts? The 20-second rests between sets during your weight training is pretty good cardio three times a week, right?
Me: You have a point; however, I can tell that the weight-training cardio effect isn’t as intense as my runs or bike sprints.
JW: Have you checked your heart rate? Maybe you’re getting close enough to your target with weights. You might grow faster by cutting out your run.
Me: I monitor every workout with my Apple Watch, so let’s go to my iPhone and check the numbers. My target heart rate for my age is 220 minus my age, so 220 minus 46.
JW: Forty-six? Haha. Your muscle isn’t that young.
Me: I can’t pass for 46? It’s the gray beard, isn’t it? Okay, 220 minus 64 equals 156, which is my target.
JW: The Health app on your phone should have stats.
Me: Yes, I know that—and thanks for not ending your sentence with “Boomer.” I worked legs today, and my max heart rate was 144. Not bad, but not quite my target. Back up a few days and my upper-body workouts was 145, about the same.
JW: Okay, not quite there, but you’re close.
Me: Yes, but now let’s look at my cardio days. On the bike I hit 154. That’s right there. Then on Friday, my three-mile run was 161. So only one of my workouts, the run, is getting me over the threshold. But the bike is on the line.
JW: Are you okay with that?
Me: Assuming the watch is accurate, yes. There’s probably a margin of error, so I’m close enough—although I may try reducing my 1 1/2-minute rests during the bike sprints to see if I can reach 160.
JW: If you do, how about doing two bike days and ditch the run?
Me: Hmm. I just saw a study that showed running extends the recovery time of weight workouts due to additional muscle damage while the bike actually enhances recovery. But I’m sure the bike was steady state, not sprints.
JW: Maybe do bike sprints on Monday and a steady-state bike ride on Friday?
Me: Pretty sure a steady-state bike ride wouldn’t get me to my target heart rate, so I’ll stick with what I’m doing. Even though my run is creating excess trauma, I enjoy getting out in the fresh air—and the smell of rotting fish down by the pier.
JW: Always nice. And there’s also the chance of being hit on by grandmas in bikinis down there.
Me: I always appreciate another geezer reference. Thanks.
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Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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