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The following message was posted in the Weight Trainer's United forum and on my MySpace page.

Blood Pressure and Resting Heart Rate Comparison

For the first couple of years after I set up my home gym in September of 2005, I used a basic pattern of lifting weights three times a week, and then walking on three off days. My lifting workouts lasted about an hour and a half, sometimes longer when using powerlifting gear. My walks were for 30 minutes at about a 3-1/2 mph pace. But after a while, that got to be too much for me, so for a while last fall (2007) I tried only lifting and walking each twice a week.

But when December came, I decided to cut out the walking and lift four times a week. But I reduced my workouts so that they only take an hour or so. But that includes doing what I call "short intense cardio" at the end of the workouts.

I do step-ups on my squat box (11" high) on squat days as they work the quads like squats. I hit a heavy bag on bench days as that works the same muscles as benches do. I feel it mainly in the pressing muscles (pecs, anterior delts, and triceps). On deadlift days I jump rope as I mainly feel that in my upper back, forearms, hamstrings, and calves, again, muscles worked in deadlifts.

I started at just a couple of minutes but have now worked up to six minutes on all three exercises, and that is as long as I intend to go. I will now work on increasing the intensity rather than the time. The first and last 30 seconds are done at a slower pace for warm-up and cool-down. That leaves a full five minutes at a high intensity.

But my concern was if the shorter workout times and much shorter cardio would be sufficient for cardiovascular health. So when I made the change in December I took my blood pressure and resting heart rate with my dad's monitor. And now, almost four months later, I just took it again. Below are the numbers:

12/2/07 – BP: 108/ 79, RHR: 57 bpm (beats per minute)

3/28/08 – BP: 101/ 71, RHR: 54 bpm

Normal blood pressure is 120/80 and a normal RHR is 60-80 bpm. But it is even better for the blood pressure to be below 120/80, and the lower the RHR is the stronger the heart is. The reason is, a stronger heart is able to pump more blood with each pump, so it doesn't have to pump as often. I heard that when Lance Armstrong was in shape for his Tour de France wins, his RHR was 16.

In any case, it seems that what I am doing now is working out even better than my previous program. This makes sense as I saw a study a while back that found just six minutes of cardio done at a very high intensity provides the same cardiovascular benefits as TWO HOURS of cardio done at a moderate intensity. And doing the cardio after the weightlifting workouts only adds to the benefits.

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Blood Pressure and Resting Heart Rate Comparison. Copyright 2008 by Gary F. Zeolla.

The above message was posted on this site on April 1. 2008.

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