Monday, July 28, 2008

Following Rocky's Footsteps in Philly...

Greetings from the City of Brotherly Love!

I've been enjoying visiting my old hang outs. It's fun catching up with friends, family and clients and opportunities for great training abound as always. As anyone who's been reading along knows, I've a real penchant for outdoor workouts. I love having the whole world as my gym.

Even when I lived in Philly and owned Maxercise, I spent a lot of time in my own backyard gym. I love the fresh air and sunshine. When it comes to training, I don't really mind even the heat and humidity...much. I love to work myself up into a lather, they say, and I've had plenty of opportunity to do just that with this east coast summer ambiance.

I decided upon an impromptu workout on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. One of the most famous workout scenes of all time is the scene from Rocky where Sylvester Stallone sprints up the stairs and does his jubilant dance while looking over the city. Bus load after bus load of tourists stopped at the base of the stairs as I watched the people unload and chase each other up the steps, each individually re-enacting the famous Hollywood scene. I decided to join them with my own version, doing as many stair sprints as possible in 15 minutes.

These stairs are tricky because they are neither even nor linear, they are broken up into several different lengths. Sprinting in general is fantastic for anaerobic conditioning, power, speed-endurance and HGH production. Because of the selective use of fast-twitch muscle fiber and the post-workout Human Growth Hormone surge (with its accompanying fat-burning and metabolic boost) stair sprints are an excellent anti-aging workout protocol. I regularly include sprint protocols in my own routines.

One of the downsides to stair sprinting is the knee stress on the descent. Running UP stairs is actually easier on your body than running down! For this reason, I take my time and walk back down instead of running.

I don't do stairs without thoroughly warming up. I chose another fantastic form of interval training for this: my trusty Lifeline Weighted Speed Rope. The weighted speed rope is a very deceitful training tool. It's about 1 kg, which is light enough to spin at a fairly fast pace, but the weight is heavy enough to thoroughly engage the upper body musculature so you'll feel the cardio effects throughout the entire body, instead of just the lower body. The hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and shoulders get a heavy, strength-endurance workout along with the feet, ankles, calves and thighs. The cool thing about the heavy speed rope is that it's actually easier for beginners to use than a regular jump rope because of its slower turning speed...but, just because you're going slower than you would on a regular jump rope doesn't mean you're getting any less of a workout. This rope is a total butt-kicker.

People who are used to jumping rope on a regular rope have expressed dismay when I put them on the weighted speed rope. They're shocked at how quickly their heart rate is driven and the level of fatigue they're experiencing. It's kind of like doing a whole-body sprint. Another cool thing about the heavy speed rope? It can be used in a confined space, e.g. indoors, so there's never any excuse not to get your sprint on, even in the inclement weather! With this baby, you can always get an amazing cardio workout--even in your jail cell!

For my Art Museum Workout, I started with:
15 rounds of 30-sec heavy speed rope sprints, with 30-sec recovery

After a 5-min rest I was ready to ascend the stairs, the stairs to heaven, if you will, since sprints produce a certain euphoria by stimulating the release of feel-good neurotransmitters.

Starting from the bottom, I sprinted to the top and then quickly walked back down.
I repeated as many rounds as I could get in 15 minutes. I got about 12 rounds. I lost count somewhere in the middle but who cares? I was...flying high, now!

I imagined the gray-sweat-suit-clad Rocky flying up those stairs.

At the end of the workout, I had that oh-so-pukey-good feeling and chugged my post-workout recovery treat drink.

I then availed myself to the municipal fountain for a post-workout dip--it's the ultimate recovery drink! When you live in a van, you can't be too choosy, though I read in the paper the Philly police will soon be cracking down on this sort of thing...

For you aging boomers out there, work in a set of sprints at least once a week. If you're low-carbing, be sure to replenish glycogen with a post-workout carbohydrate/whey solution.


Deanmc said...

Great stuff Steve, I enjoy reading your blog! I have a set of 175 stairs that go to the beach I live near. My wife and I have been using them as an after dinner workout as of late.


Peter said...

Steve, a possible corrective FYI --

In your pic with the weighted jumprope, you appear to be using a blue rope, which per the Lifeline website you link to, corresponds to the ~ 3/4 pound rope (the green rope would be their 1.25 lb-er).

The body of your post lists the rope's weight at "about 1 kg," which is a whopping 2.2 lbs. I'm assuming you're using the 3/4 pounder...

Steve Maxwell said...

Hi Dean, for a really good workout, carry your wife up the stairs--then have her carry you. Might want to make that BEFORE dinner.-Steve

Steve Maxwell said...

Hi Peter,You're right, it seems my assistant posted the wrong photo. I'll fire the kid...thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great :)
Only in America :)

Steve - what kinda speed rope routine would you recommend for fat loss?

best regards from Poland

Anonymous said...

Steve, I noticed that you train barefoot a lot. Since I started going barefoot AMAP, it's helped many foot issues I had.

What do you suggest as footwear for when you can't get away with bare feet? I often train in "water shoes" or "aqua socks" but those aren't made for long term use.

I notice you have some kind of minimalist footwear on the Spartan videos. What are those? many thanks.


Steve Maxwell said...

I suggest Vibram Five Fingers. Find a place you can try them on first, if at all possible, the sizes aren't what you might expect. In the blog pics, I'm wearing Nike Free's but my gf did the whole workout in Vibrams.

In SP300 I'm wearing shoes called Zooks. I bought them one night on South St, in Philly and have never seen them since.

sakinney said...

Hello, Steve, I'm very sorry to have missed your seminar in Philadelphia. It would have been great to train with you in person again.

I recently got your Encyclopedia of Joint Mobility, and was instantly transported back to those 7:30AM sessions at Maxercise, but with new, and more challenging additions. It's a great DVD set. Thanks for putting it out there.

Anonymous said...

Steve I would like to ask you something. Would you mind to write something about your "inner game"? I mean - why you do what you do? You could be more easly a overweight couch potato. What motivates you, what makes you to be the person you are. What technics or mind games do you use?

I'm reading Maltz - Psycho-Cybernetics write now and it seems like a great read. It says a lot about self-image. How do you see yourself and mayby you have some adivces

thank you

best regards from Poland

Steve Maxwell said...

Yeah, those 7:30 AM classes were something, weren't they! I'm glad you like the DVD. Thanks for the support! - Steve

Steve Maxwell said...

Rafal, Thank you for asking! That's a terrific question and will be an upcoming blog. - Steve