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Sould I be doing cardio?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
A few weeks ago I made an appointment to have a gym review. As I am getting older and my work is physical I normally concentrate on core and upper body as strength exercises and then use a cross trainer for cardio (because my ankle is injured and I can't run or cycle on it). It is coming up to ski season and I have found over the past few years that my thighs start to hurt fairly early in the ski break and don't really recover. I've tried a variety of workouts that work on fitness, core and legs and I am generally quite fit and strong, but the issue persists. I ought to say that I ski with instructors or guides and they are happy(ish) with my technique.

I was surprised to find that my new trainer was not very interested in any cardio exercise at all. He was of the opinion that I would get all the cardio exercise I need by lifting weight. I thought he might be fobbing me off but he seemed quite keen and he kept booking me back in to track progress. On my third return he had left and another chap took over. He has given me what feels like a much more appropriate routine with squats, leg machines, balance on Bosu, core stuff with one of those medicine balls things. But he too seems unconcerned with cardio. He has me doing 10mins of interval training on the cross trainer or 5 mins on the Stair Master (which I have so far failed to master).

So I thought I'd reach our and ask you guys. Has there been a change in how we do cardio and stamina training? I was a swimmer and swimming hundreds of lengths per session still seems to be the method there. Or is skiing different? Or perhaps these 20 something year old trainers see a 50 year old and assume I'm past it?
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@henzerani, i am a 56 year old woman. I do weights and leg press type stuff until a few weeks befire the start of the season... i get plenty of cardio from the effort of doing that. In the last few weeks i move to more flexibility combined with strength type stuff... Single leg squats on the bosu, side step ups.... every session is a cardio session
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@henzerani, I'm also in my 50's, and I use relatively light weights (8kg), and can get a good cardio workout by repeating sets of exercise to the point of standstill. I find that squat type excercises have much more effect on my skiing than anything else. I can cycle 40-50 miles without trouble, but the extra thigh training really pays off.

Unless you are touring for long periods, the majority of recreational skiing takes place in bursts of 10-20 minutes, followed by sitting on a chair lift or standing in a lift for the same period of time, so there is usually plenty of recovery time.
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@holidayloverxx, @PowderAdict, thanks. You are on to something. I have found these new workouts quite ... sweaty! And I'm doing way more leg stuff than I've every done before. @PowderAdict,you are right about skiing being in bursts and even the 10-20 minutes downhill isn't all heavy exertion. And thinking about it, I'm rarely breathless at the bottom of a hill, even when my thighs are burning. @holidayloverxx, I'm very impressed you can do single leg presses! I was rather pleased with myself for lifting one leg off and tucking it behind my ankle.
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I think that in general most gyms seem to be moving away from Cardio at present. It seems to be a fashion thing. Whether it's for general fitness or weight loss the preference seems to be towards weights. I think that getting on a bike (gym or outdoors) is still one of the best ski fitness ideas. Spinning classes are also good. I then do leg press and other leg exercises as well as turns with kettlebells holding arms out straight for core conditioning. In reality I think whatever you do is better than nothing.
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downhillalltheway wrote:
I think that in general most gyms seem to be moving away from Cardio at present.


There's no money in cardio for the PTs wink
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@downhillalltheway, too true. Fashions come and go. But the last few years have been lacking something in my training. So maybe I'll give it a go and see if this year is better!!
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I am not a member of a gym, I run and bike, no weights at all and managed a 4 day ski tour last winter with not much downhill. Are PTs doing stuff to promote further PT sessions or looking after their clients best interests???
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kitenski wrote:
Are PTs doing stuff to promote further PT sessions or looking after their clients best interests???


or both? wink
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As in many things, I'm old school. I do an hour of Cardio 4 times a week (15 mins on 4 different machines), along with weight training (30 mins) + core work, stretching/trigger point roller and balance work (30 mins).

I drop down to 3 times a week in the Summer.
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Those I know that use PT's fall into two main categories:

1. To lose weight. They can't motivate themselves, so they need to be pushed to exercise (often they would rather exercise more, rather than eat/drink less). Any fitness gains are a by product, rather than the main objective.

2. To improve either fitness or strength for a specific objective. In this case the PT should be ensuring the correct exercise is being used, with the correct technique. The objective might be skiing for example, or it might just be to look good.

Given that the use of PT's is a discretionary cashflow related item, I know two PT's who had to get proper jobs after work tailed off.
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@henzerani, Are you ok to hike with a weighted rucksack? I do this sometimes and it's low impact on the joints, but fairly good cardio. I have about 10% body weight in the rucksack and walk at 120 steps per minute.
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@red 27, this is the encouraged gym review at David Lloyd. No one has tried to step me into personal trainer ... yet. The main thing at the moment is to get us into classes - which are all about cardio. I did think the same as you but I do think it might be a genuine sports science theory. I'm sure there will be another fashion soon but I'm thinking about this year's skiing.
My concern is whether this will work for skiing. None of the guys I've seen are skiers or boarders and I'm wondering whether it translates.
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@dbeatski, no, why would I do that? Toofy Grin
Seriously, I had a problem with my Achilles walking round the Isle of Wight. And it has never properly recovered. So walking (and running) are not really possible for the moment.
But it a good one. Low impact and persistent.
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@Old Fartbag, that's been my workout for the last few years. I try to replicate run distances on the cross trainer. Aim for 40mins high intensity or 60mins low intensity. My fitness isn't an issue but the sore thighs are. But like @PowderAdict said, you don't often ski for 40mins at a time.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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This may be a long shot, but if your leg strength and technique are not a issue, maybe a visit to a good Physical Therapist is worth considering.

If you haven't done so recently, it can be beneficial to have somebody really dig into all those muscles around lower back/hips/gluts/quads and hamstrings, as they may be very tight with a lot of scar tissue.
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I had some terrible advice from a trainer about working with an injury, that made it worse, and I'll never take what a trainer says seriously again.
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There is a general trend/fashion currently towards using shorter, higher intensity workouts (e.g. interval training) instead of long stable cardio sessions and while I can see the evidence and benefits of that I do like to also just sometimes go out and run or cycle. I.e. it doesn't have to be one of the other - you can mix and match as works for you. For recreational skiing, as others have suggested, strength, balance and agility are I think more important than raw cardio fitness. The cardio fitness will make everything else feel easier though, especially at altitude, and so I think will allow you to enjoy yourself. It has benefits in other aspects of life too.

I did hear a PT at our local gym training someone for a marathon without any cardio, only weights, which I thought was ridiculous (though I don't know their background). The weights will undoubtedly help build the strength needed, but training one system and ignoring another when you need both working seems to me to be daft.

I know what you mean from my own weights sessions about getting hot and out of breath from the exertion of doing weights, but to me that is not a sufficient cardio exercise. Use a heart rate monitor next time you're on the weights and see, if you're like me, how little your heart rate rises. My resting heart rate is around 50bpm, I will typically get up to around 90bpm in a weights session, whereas running or interval training I'll be peaking around 170bpm.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Tue 29-11-16 12:23; edited 1 time in total
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Working the quads, core and hamstrings is the key for skiing, this primarily involves lunges, split squats, dead-lifts and planks.

I like to mix and match between high intensity heavy loads with low repetitions, alternating through the week to endurance lifting with lower weight and higher repetitions. I've found a body pump class is perfect for the later.
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@henzerani, also mid 50s, and like you, I use David Lloyd PT for getting ready for Skiing. I'd been doing a mix of strength and cardio ( Being "between gigs" a the moment gives me a fair bit of gym time...) but last week's review - when I said I'd snuck in a week pre-Christmas - she stepped up the strength, and we abandoned the cardio interval training at the end. You'll get enough from the strength training, she said.

HRM this morning showed that for just over an hour that my average HR was 129: (resting HR is about 70) I was certainly putting the effort in!

As above I think the cardio necessary for skiing is probably less than you think - it isn't like you are doing a 10k run for (in my case) 50 mins - it's 4, 5 mins of exertion, then a break, then go again.
AND... don't forget , it is supposed to be fun! so if you are feeling slightly knackered on that second run, you tend to take it a bit easier anyway!
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My heart rate doesn't rise particularly high when I'm doing heavy weights. It does when I'm doing 'power' moves, i.e. less weight but moving fast. That can get pretty demanding!

Now that it's nearly ski time I'm doing less heavy lifting. Instead I'm doing more mobilisation, stability and power work. e.g. split squats, snatches. I also do some high intensity stuff on the rower and the aptly-named 'attack bike'.

I probably should do more endurance cardio but I find it sooooooo boring Sad

@dogwatch, some of what I overhear from other personal trainers in the gym is utterly horrifying. I have been incredibly fortunate to work with a trainer who is excellent (http://www.simonamphlettfitness.co.uk), but many of them aren't.
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FWIW I wore a HR monitor whilst skiing (on piste and not many/any moguls from memory)

Max HR whilst skiing was really low, max 148 avg 91

My resting HR is around 35-40 usually, max whilst running last week 181, 150 avg and then 194 max and avg 137 from a bike ride last week.
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It's well accepted now that skiing (downhill, not touring) is not an aerobic activity, so standard "long slow" cardio is a waste of time (well maybe better than watching TV, but don't kid yourself it will do anything to help you ski stronger / better and prevent the aches after the first couple of days.)
Another waste of time is general static stretching (active stretching and focused rehab stretches being a different matter).
What is effective is ski specific strength and movement work, there are tons of exercises - as already stated squats and lunges form the basis - the key is to choose the right ones for your level. 1 leg variants are great for balance, core development and so on.
And for cardio, you can combine the strength work into circuit format and blast yourself for a few mins on, then a short rest, and repeat etc; or you can do intervals - eg "grinders" on a bike, where you do 2-3 mins in the highest gear in which you can maintain 60 RPM - rest a min or two, and repeat until you've had enough
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I think its all been said above, but will just share with you what has worked for me and made me a bit preachy about my approach. And I really think that we all have to find out what works for us from the perspective of time and commitment, as we have to keep up with a routine for the remainder of our life. So about 2 years ago I started with a trainer at the gym to supplement other cadio focused things i was doing, like cycling, and more recently ski touring. The gym was really to supplement the other pursuits but its all related now. I am 51 now, have lost 30 lbs and run about 20% body fat, not optimal for cycling, but I feel better now than I can recall in decades. The gym routine I do is a lot like what u do, its a circuit (think cross fit stuff), which is 3-4 exercises in succession for 3 reps. Lots of cardio with that. bolsa ball slam, sleds, leg machines, squats, burpees, lunges, etc, etc. Takes an hour a session, and 2x per week if possible. Could not do more than an hour at a time, its that intense for me. Make sure trainer stretches you out after, thats super important.

But I also add some long long cardio with it whenever I can. Cycling for 2-4 hours, backcountry stuff if possible, I hate jogging, but maybe 45 minutes to an hour of that if I cant do the other 2 things. The combination of the cardio and gym stuff has worked for me and really helped my skiing.
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Personal Trainers are bad for your health.
http://www.doctorsreview.com/injury-prevention/dangerous-personal-trainers/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/15/cult-fitness-regimes-are-wreaking-havoc-on-young-peoples-joints/

I'm with kitenski: get a bike and/or some running shoes and cancel the gym subscription.
Then get out there in the fresh air in all weathers - it was a bit chilly biking to work this morning, but well worth it.

But something oft forgot: a common reason we get knackered and thighs burn is nothing to do with lack of fitness, but lack of technique.
Improve your technique (get some private lessons with the money you've saved from cancelling that gym subscription) and you'll find you keep going far longer.
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@Jonpim, agree with caveat emptor re: personal trainer, but will say that its also the most important motivator and injury preventor. Maybe that combination is a unicorn, but I happen to think that the chap I see helps me motivate and reduce injury. Cant stress how important having them concerned with injury is so important. Something as simple as asking how your shoulder feels after saying it feels a little tweaked the prior week. Shows they are taking notes. Cycling and running alone did not do it for me. I needed the strength training and cardio it entails along with it. maybe unfortunate genes on my part.
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I only now do the short high intensity training,. .. theres plenty of information that supports this type of fitness training is better for you as you get older, its no surprise that your body does generally react differently as you age, HIT is also good for fat burning .. plus its easier for those with a hatred of long workouts, its 20 minutes and youre done...
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My favourite cardio is the cross trainer but without holding onto the handles. Good for balance while also doing a fair job of replicating the 'pedalling' move-ment used in skiing.

I also do loads of weights but that's just for vanity so I can flaunt my Body Beautiful in the Spa Embarassed Shocked spoo
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generally agree with most of the above. usual caveat is that your body will adapt quickly, so doing any 1 exercise/type of exercise, you'll gain initially, then additional benefit is much harder to achieve. mixing it up is generally the way to go. Worth also pointing out that most of the above relate to downhill... if you're doing an hour or more of hiking up, cardio fitness is _definitely_ what you want, and the 'fit' people will stand out. Having said that, I've been on Tea Club holidays where there's been a very obvious fitness gradient even within the same 'skill' level, and that on 'technical' but by no means extreme piste/side country skiing.
and finally, if you're still at the 'learning' stage of skiing (which can be true if you're 'learning powder/off piste', the cardio fitness will speed your recovery, and can compensate for lack of technique, up to a point).

to the OP - if you want a good cardio with low impact, get back in the pool for some sets!
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@Jonpim, I can't run or bike at the moment, sadly. Besides I rather enjoy the gym Very Happy

@red 27, the cross trainer is my favourite too, but if you have a heart rate monitor on yours have a look at what it does to your heart rate when you use your arms.

@kitenski, I think a resting heart rate of 30 is called hibernation!

I'm really enjoying the work out I'm doing at the moment and my legs are clearly stronger - possibly stronger than they have ever been. I think the reassurance that it's not complete rubbish means I'll carry on. And I'll see how the skiing goes.

By the way what is a split squat?
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@henzerani, split squat


Stand lunge-length in front of a bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest the top of your left foot on the bench behind you. Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.

Ridiculously hard. This is one where I think having a good trainer is important. Bad form really can do harm to your knees. You have to focus on dropping down rather than pushing forward on the front leg. But really good for skiing.

Here is a video of it.


http://youtube.com/v/jyoV909uMPY

I'll add side lunges and jumping squats (not sure if that's the correct name of that exercise) as super hard but good for skiing without the need for a lot of weights.
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Split squats are a major part of my routine at the moment. You can do lots of variations - the one in that video is a good one, but a hard one. For getting started you can do it on the flat. It's basically a lunge position for the feet, moving your bodyweight straight up and down. Start with bodyweight, but you can add barbell or dumbells or kettlebell or whatever. Keep your hips square; it's tempting to let them drop in. You should feel a hip flexor stretch when you're doing it right.
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There has been a clear push towards strength training in sports science as it helps prevent injury (think of Andy Murray's transformation since his first Wimbledon appearance). For us mere mortals being stronger also means we can burn more calories making weight loss easier which is one of the reasons PTs push for it in gyms too.

For skiing I've found a massive difference since doing strength training. In part this has been a whole load of knee stabilisation stuff to deal with an old injury (indeed, I may not have had a knee injury to begin with if I had been in better shape at the time...) but more general squats and core work have also shown that I just wasn't as fit as I thought I was before I started.

Coupled with some form of cardio that uses some of the same muscle groups (I use cycling, though i recognise the OP can'd do this) I found that I have barely ached at all despite some of my busiest weeks skiing ever. Technique will definitely be one big part of this, but being able to successfully apply that technique later in the day and throughout the whole week is certainly because my limbs were more physically prepared to be chucked down a big hill in recent years... Very Happy
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I am also in my 50s. I've been into fitness (for health) all my life. There should be a clear distinction between exercise (strengthening skeletal muscles through resistance training) and sports (skills/technique). I have been following this guy, who is a personal trainer specialising in high intensity resistance training for a long time via RSS feed. Highly recommend checking him out. Here he does a comprehensive Q&A which also has a section on running.

http://baye.com/live001/

Re ski specific training, as already mentioned skiing is not really cardio type work. You ski a pitch for 30-60secs, stop/rest for a bit, do another pitch etc then sit on the chairlift for 15min so it's stop and go activity with recovery periods. The better your technique the less physical effort is needed. In the gym the usual leg specific exercises will give you a solid foundation.

It's also quite easy to simulate the ski specific burn in the thighs through interval training. My fav: Jumping up a lowish bench from one side to the other. Put right leg on the bench, left leg stays on the floor. Jumping off to the right putting most of the weight on the right leg initiating the jump. Now the trailing left leg is resting on the bench and becomes the leading leg initiating the jump back to the left. Optional: Hold some light dumbbells or bottles of water for strengthening arms/shoulders. I do these jumps using Tabata intervals 8 intervals of 20secs go/10secs rest for total of 4min. do 1-3 sets. do each of the intervals like it is your only one at close to 100% effort. the burn in the legs will be intense and your pulse will go through the roof very quickly. I also used to do hill running intervals up Primrose Hill when I was still living in London, also gave me a similar leg burn.

I also use the Tabata protocol for swimming, ie 25m or 50m full speed followed by 25m at a very easy pace.
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@Redwine, That video is strangely erotic - thank you. Embarassed
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@snowman, sorry, but I forgot to thank you. So ... thank you.

I seem to be doing okay. I'm going to stick with what I've been doing. I've been slowly increasing the weight on the legs, numbers on the cores and being inventive with the Bosu. Now and then I add in some old routines. The legs are definitely stronger.
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After skiing a bit this year, no doubt the cross training has made my legs stronger and skiing better. I need to keep it up, more skiing to do.
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I'm just finished in EK now. Extra/change of training made no difference at all. My quads hurt on the first day and for the rest of the week. Admittedly I may have had a cold on Tuesday. I had a guide off piste on Thursday and he was very helpful. Apparently I ski standing straight and that means I rock back very easily and therefore hold myself on my quads. That helped a great deal.
In terms of fitness I was definitely more breathless than other years and the extra squats and weights didn't compensate for being less fit. So I shall be trying something else next year.
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henzerani, sorry to see you were more breathless, but i'm not really surprised.
I'm a bit older that you, and i've tried it all.
The only thing those fancy Squats teach you is to be good at doing fancy Squats.
Similar with swimming or running or cycling.
The best thing for skiing is of course skiing.
Most of us can't do that all year, so we have to make do with the next best thing: using the legs and getting puffed.
If you can't get out on the road, then in the gym try the bicycles, step machine, and rowing machine.
Forget all the other fancy equipment.
And don't wait for Autumn. Start now, and keep going.
You shouldn't need to do anything extra for skiing, because you are fit all the time.
(Not sure why you can't get out on the road with bike or running shoes)
Anyway, i hope you had a good time.
I was in Tignes until today - we may have passed on the piste or shared a chair lift.
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Quote:

in the gym try the bicycles, step machine, and rowing machine.

That's me (plus cross-trainer) rest is too scary. Oh, plus lots of tuition. Toofy Grin
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