Posts Tagged ‘panaerobics’

Cardio without running

Cardio without running
— Read on

I was searching WordPress for ideas related to “HeavyHands” but these days that pulls up everything from Boxing to domestic violence (I kid you not) .

This idea surfaced “cardio without running”… some interesting Videos, though not exactly “panaerobics”. Where do you look for ideas and inspiration?

Let me know in the comments …

Nordic Walking by definition is “Panaerobic”…some estimate that 90% of one’s musculature is involved. Whatever the amount Dr. Schwartz defined it as basically any movement activating all 4 limbs and as much muscle as possible.

It’s a nice alternate day exercise for me – I find it works well doing HeavyHands one day and this the next. HeavyHands really works the shoulders and “lifting” muscles. As the arms go overhead they really get the heart pumping. 

Nordic walking works in a slightly  different way, moves the “lifting muscles” of the arm and shoulder with light resistance and gives more work to the muscles required to “push off” as the body is propelled forward.

What Nordic walking ISN’T is a Longstrength exercise. By Schwartz’ definition they were rhythmic calesthenics that involved all limbs and can be done for time, not just “reps”.

I also don’t like the lack of hip and quad action that upright walking alone gives. That’s where a Nordic Longstrength move comes in for me. 

Basically while standing with arms front, I keep my arms ahead (usually more straight than shown) and sink back into a hip hinge. The return to standing is by a movement that resembles a kettlebell swing, i.e. a hip thrust while – to one degree or another – using the lat muscles to pull upright as well.

It’s a great posterior chain exercise and lat exercise. I got the idea from “gruntbrain” and his poles with “T” handles and from kettlebell swinging. 

Though it can be done as a braced knee bend, in my opinion the hip hinge and lat action keep it quick paced and easier on the knees. 

Currently I use it to fill in gaps on the walk when I’d otherwise be inactive for some reason or if my path on a given day might not have much up hill work.

Now that I’ve found my “groove” in the exercise (doing it as a hip hinge instead of a squat made it faster and more enjoyable), it’s time to ramp up some reps and see how they go.

What other Longstrength exercises do you see as possible using Nordic Walking Poles?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Nordic Walking Source: Wikimedia Commons

Nordic Walking Source: Wikimedia Commons

As big fans of HeavyHands know, one of Dr. Schwartz’ early inspirations (besides a torn hamstring from running) was CROSS COUNTRY SKIING.  The “Panaerobic” action of all limbs moving simultaneously against resistance gave cross country skiiers HUGE abilities to process oxygen … far more than other athletes.

Nordic Walking is the “cousin” of cross country skiing and uses similar poles to approximate the action of skiing when it’s not winter. It too is “Panaerobic”.

That raises the question… Wouldn’t then Nordic WALKING be as useful as HeavyHands?

Good question…

Here’s how I answered the question yesterday when it came to deciding… do I grab my Nordic Walking NSticks or take a pair of hand weights to workout?

First, it’s not necessarily an “either/or”, “all or nothing” decision. I use and like them both. But how to decide?

Workout Objectives

Nordic walking sticks are light… much lighter than even one “heavyhand” weight usually. Mine had a TOTAL SHIPPING WEIGHT of 1.7 pounds including the packaging! That’s lighter than two of the lightest hand weights! Lifting the sticks between steps may tire you out after hundreds or thousands of steps, that’s not where the aerobic benefit of Nordic Walking comes from.

The ability of Nordic Walking to increase aerobic workloads by 20 to 40% or more while activating so much upper and lower body muscle comes from the downward/backward stroke that – with the legs – thrusts the body forward. Though the poles are very light, the energy used to push the body forward can be quite extensive.

While the trapezius, pectorals, biceps, and frontal deltoids work to pull the pole into proper position for the next step, the real muscle exertion in the upper body comes from the backward/downward push. In that case the triceps, rear deltoids and upper back and latissimus muscle groups get the bulk of the work.

With the basic HeavyHands “Walk and Pump” movement, the exertion pattern is almost exactly OPPOSITE… the muscles lifting the weight forward get most of the exercise, though a strong backswing emphasis of the HeavyHands can indeed work the upper back and triceps quite well.

Part of the “Panaerobic Equation” that determines the effectiveness of the HeavyHands movement is the RANGE OF MOTION. Raising the arms and weights above the shoulder to overhead  (“Level III”) significantly enhances the workload during exercise.

When it comes to Nordic Walking there are limitations in the range of motion because the sticks are fitted to one’s height and their benefit is derived from gripping the ground and pushing off, not being raised over head.  While experienced walkers will learn ways to adjust the range of motion slightly as walking speed is increased or decreased, users may not be able to get as much aerobic benefit as  they might from Level III work. Trying to artificially lift the sticks higher to mimic it or go too fast can cause the user to trip themselves over the sticks with disastrous consequences!

One of Dr. Schwartz’ interests as a psychiatrist was exercise variety. He himself wanted exercise to be constantly challenging, new and sustainable. As any reader of the HeavyHands books will notice his curiosity prompted him to invent and promote numerous variations in exercise movement to not only work as much muscle as possible, but to avoid boredom!

As the body and mind tire from the basic “pump and walk movement”, the weights, for example, can be used in some completely different way like swings across the chest to work “fresh” muscle groups while continuing to walk.

Nordic Walking definitely DOES NOT offer this variety of exercise. The same predominant exercise pathway is used throughout the effort without variation for the most part. Boredom may be avoided by the scenic nature of the walking path, but not by exercise variation for the most part!

With both Nordic Walking and HeavyHands, some “quadriceps” and “lower back” activation can be done by walking in a “duck walk “or “Groucho Marx walk” though more variety may be obtained with HeavyHands probably. It’s worth testing, but this author hasn’t done much.

Practical Issues

There are  VERY REAL practical issues related to one’s choice of sticks or weights. Yesterday we were going to a state park we’d never visited before…

Would the trail be hilly? Would the path be flat? In other words, would I benefit from ADDITIONAL SUPPORT to keep my balance on a rough trail?

In the case of unknown terrain, it’s best to use Nordic walking sticks if there’s any concern about unsure footing.

As it turned out the trails were hardly flat except for brief stretches. The trails were up and down and twisting… at times the Nordic Sticks seemed a bit more like “Trekking Poles” but they did their job of not only providing upper body exercise, but also making the hike safer.  In the event of a poisonous snake nearby, I’d rather have a Nordic stick handy if needed than a hand weight! Sorry Dr. Schwartz!

Try Both

That’s what I ended up doing….

Not sure about the terrain, both sticks and weights went in the car. The ranger said one trail was “level” and the other was “rugged”.

We took the “rugged” trail first using Nordic Walking sticks.

Later we took the “level” trail using HeavyHands.

(We found out they were both equally rugged and probably would have done best with the Nordic sticks on both of them, but “oh well”! )

For the ULTIMATE VARIETY, one can’t go wrong doing BOTH Nordic Walking and HeavyHands…

For maximum potential strength and activating as much muscle as possible while operating on safe terrain, HeavyHands with increasing weights and a variety of movements activating as many muscles as possible will likely be superior.

As always the exercise you will actually do provides the best results!



Nausea. Seeing stars. Sucking wind. This is how you know you’re doing a Tabata [high intensity] workout correctly.

And most would agree… you can’t be working out at “high intensity” unless you are on the verge of tears, right?. Anything less and it’s just some more of that “low intensity cardio” right?

Well perhaps yes, perhaps no.

In practice – that is in the gym and in the fitness tabloids – a “Tabata” has been reduced to a short workout with 20 second bursts of activity that may or may not reach the intensity levels found in the research Dr. Tabata performed (linked to above).

There, intensity was determined by athletes in question performing at a level of 170% of VO2Max. Check the article at the link and you’ll realize that VO2Max isn’t measured subjectively (by whether someone is nauseous, for instance). Instead:

Measuring VO2 max accurately requires an all-out effort (usually on a treadmill or bicycle) performed under a strict protocol in a sports performance lab. These protocols involve specific increases in the speed and intensity of the exercise and collection and measurement of the volume and oxygen concentration of inhaled and exhaled air. This determines how much oxygen the athlete is using.

Not being able to workout like athletes in a lab, people try to mirror the effects of a “Tabata” workout by simply trying to exert an “all out effort” for 8 – 20 second sets with 10 seconds rest in between.

Is true Tabata intensity reached in most instances? It’s hard to tell without working out in a lab. It’s roughly possible to compare a given heart rate to VO2Max to find an equivalent using online calculators (but be warned, they probably don’t go over 100%!).

The linked calculator says that at whatever age… “100% of VO2max corresponds to 102% of maximum heart”. How did the Tabata subjects reach 170% of VO2Max for these experiments? They must have been well conditioned in advance! Most of the overweight, middle aged readers being encouraged these days to try “Tabata’s” likely should NOT try to jump into this form of exercise without extensive preconditioning at much lower levels of exertion until a significant base of fitness has been achieved it seems prudent to observe.

Dr. Leonard Schwartz work on HeavyHands started coming out long before the Tabata research was published of course. As a psychiatrist he recognized most people aren’t (at least at first) going to be able to use or stick with (or survive?) a regimen that tries to get them to approach 100%  of their heart rate and which, in practice, is equated with severe discomfort! As a medical doctor fascinated with fitness, Schwartz was intent on achieving the type of VO2Max of cross country skiers in a way that could be approached by virtually anyone, anywhere while starting from “scratch”.

His findings create something of a conundrum in the current fitness environment. He found consistently that 4 limb “panaerobic” exercise that seeks to workout using as much muscle as possible INCREASED VO2Max thereby increasing the “intensity” of ordinary walking or jogging as measured by VO2Max, while DECREASING the perceived intensity!

That finding is counter-intuitive… It describes a situation where there is MORE GAIN but LESS RELATIVE PAIN, let alone the discomfort used to describe if so-called “Tabata’s” are being properly done.

In other words, “panaerobic” exercise makes it easier for the person working out to improve their fitness without the sensations equated with “intensity” in the popular fitness press because the work done is diffused by using the whole body to drive aerobic activity.

You can use HeavyHands or other Panaerobic strategies to do 20 second “all out sets” in training. Don’t be surprised if they’re not quite as agonizing as expected for the reasons stated. Choose a maximum training heart rate with your physician’s guidance, and then use a heart monitor or other objective tool to determine if your training is effective in increasing VO2Max, not simply subjective “guesstimates” based on relative discomfort other methods may cause!

Is Body Pump “basically the same as” HeavyHands or Panaerobics? (more information can be found here:

Some say that there is a similarity because both seem to use relatively light weights and high reps.

Is that true? Is the defining aspect of Dr. Schwartz’ exercise systems “high reps”? Or even the use of weights necessarily?

In reality, HeavyHands isn’t JUST about light weights and high reps. It’s about much more. But it’s easier to identify the differences between BodyPump and HeavyHands or Panaerobics after spending some time understanding what’s involved in the process of the BodyPump workout.

In case you haven’t heard about BodyPump before, here’s how Wikipedia describes the fitness method…

For BodyPump, the full class consists of 10 tracks, each (except for tracks 1 and 10) targeting a specific muscle group. The full class (including time between tracks for weight changes) runs for 60 minutes.

For the 60-minute format, the class is arranged to the 8 tracks on a CD produced by the company, timed to allow for around 60 minutes of exercise and 2 minutes of weight changes between tracks.

  • Track 1: Provides a warm-up with the lowest weight of the class. During the warm-up, most muscle groups are trained in short succession, and stance and barbell grip is often changed when cycling through all different exercises.
  • Track 2: Squats. This track targets the legs, notably the quadriceps and glutes and participants are advised to use the highest weight of the entire class. A typical weight for squats ranges between three and four times the warm-up weight. The weight is placed on the traps of the participant.
  • Track 3: Chest. In this track, participants are invited to lie on their backs on a step, and perform chest presses with the barbell. Sometimes, depending on the choreography of the release, these are combines with chest push-ups. A typical weight will be around two times the warm-up weight.
  • Track 4: Back. In this track, participants stand up and train the muscles of their back. Exercises performed vary from release to release, but mostly contain dead lifts, dead rows and sometimes clean-and-presses. A typical weight selection will be the same as chest, or slightly more.
  • Track 5: Triceps. As the first of the smaller muscle groups, participants will select a lower weight, usually slightly above warm-up weight and perform triceps exercises. These change per release, but mostly consist of triceps extensions with a barbell, triceps pushups, kickbacks with a single free weight and dips on a step.
  • Track 6: Biceps. After the triceps, participants stand up again and use the barbell to do bicep curls and sometimes bicep dead rows. The weight will remain the same as for triceps, or slightly less.
  • Track 7: Lunges. Participants take on a heavier weight, usually the same as the chest track. In this track, squats can be included but most of the time will be spent doing lunges to train the legs and glutes. Lunges can be performed with the barbell on the traps or holding plates. Sometimes plyometric jumping will be included at the end of the track.
  • Track 8: Shoulders. The participants select a weight similar to the tricep track on the barbell, and two free weights. The track traditionally starts with pushups, after which the participants use free weights for shoulder raises, either to the side or to the front. At the end, the bar is used for upright rows and overhead presses. Sometimes the choreography adds another set of pushups at the end.
  • Track 9: Abdominals and core. Usually no weights are used, and participants perform abdominal crunches or planks to strengthen the core.
  • Track 10: Cool down and stretching.

A new BodyPump release, consisting of new music and choreography, is developed and released to health clubs and instructors every three months. Muscle groups are always worked in the same order as stated in the Les Mills Instructor Resources, allowing for consistency across releases. Instructors can choose to work with one release, or mix tracks from multiple releases, to target strength endurance gains for their particular class. Instructors and trainers are provided with guidance from Les Mills International regarding the mixing of tracks for classes. The pre-choreographed class meets the Les Mills methodology that students will find a more consistent experience when attending a BodyPump class in any location around the world.

Now that we have an overview of how BodyPump operates, let’s consider how this method of working out is significantly different than HeavyHands or Panaerobics!

First, it IS true that HeavyHands, in general, uses high repetitions and relatively low weights in the 1lb to 5 lb range depending on the individual, though Dr. Schwartz reportedly could use up to 23% of his bodyweight for ‘Double Ski Poling” for very long periods of time! Even when weights are not involved (in “Longstrength Bodyweight” moves and “IsoTonoMetrics”) the range of resistance can go from “heavy” to “light” but in general is on the lower side of the spectrum to allow exercise to be performed long enough to produce a cardio-respiratory response.

Here’s how HeavyHands and Panaerobics of every variety DIFFER from the BodyPump approach in crucial ways.

BodyPump is many things that HeavyHands are not… choreographed for a group instead of individually designed by the user according to their own interests and needs, lasts a predetermined time instead of a time determined by the user, and requires a professional instructor instead of a book or video and a hand weight. It’s probably safe to say that while BodyPump has done its best to explain the scientific validity of it’s choices, HeavyHands developed out of laboratory studies regarding oxygen use during exercise and was validated every step of the way through the same testing. That leads to the crucial distinction between the two.

BodyPump is a “Circuit” training system that works the body parts in sectors instead of simultaneously. To quote Mark Twain, that’s the difference between “lightning” and a “lightning bug”.

There was a scientific reason that HeavyHand and Panaerobics are not “circuit training” as Dr. Schwartz explains in his “Strength Endurance Fitness Method” patent:

Efforts to increase the number of repetitions and to make weight training methods more continuous, etc., by having the exerciser move swiftly from one “station” to the next with only short pauses, have also failed to produce significant benefits with respect to endurance (aerobic) capacity. Thus subjects trained by the so-called “circuit” method, while achieving relatively high heart rates during the exercise, have not, generally speaking, increased their oxygen uptake capacity (work capacity) significantly over extended training periods.

These facts provoke the question as to whether or not strength oriented physical training methods can work toward the improvement of the cardiovascular system. This improvement would include such elements as slowing of the heart rate both at rest and at any greater workloads, usually lowering of the systemic blood pressure, along with various enzymatic and other metabolic changes that are readily measurable.

The crucial flaw in methods that attempt to couple strength and aerobic capacity may be their general failure to employ sufficient muscle mass during given exercises. Thus strength training methods typically work one or a few muscle groups at a time. The high heart rates achieved under those conditions do not represent the same physiologic events that general high heart rates during continuous (aerobic) exercise (jogging, brisk walking, swimming, rowing, bicycling) that employ a relatively large percentage of the body’s muscle simultaneously provide.

In other words, Dr. Schwartz believed he had scientific reasons for avoiding “circuit training” regardless of the name because while it raised the heart rate, it’s focus on isolated muscle sectors and their focus on activating minimal muscle mass during most exercise sessions kept “circuits” from increasing aerobic capacity.

The “trademark” of HeavyHands or Panaerobics which BodyPump does not aspire to is the use of as much muscle as possible at the same time. By isolating body sectors as it does, BodyPump makes having a workout in the “HeavyHands” sense impossible.

In reality, most HeavyHanders or folks doing panaerobics don’t seek a “pump” or even to exhaust isolated muscle groups one at a time. The idea of using all four limbs at the same time is supposed to DECREASE the overall sensation of stress by spreading the work out over as many body parts as possible. HeavyHanders build the muscle necessary for continuous work against the highest resistance they can manage, but not by adapting Bodybuilding’s muscle isolation exercise techniques.

This is not a criticism of either BodyPump or those who enjoy it. People should be encouraged to exercise however they feel inclined and in the way that helps them stay with it. The point of this article is that, contrary to what some may think, BodyPump and HeavyHands are built around fundamentally different approaches and are not “basically the same”.

HeavyHands DuckWalk

HeavyHands DuckWalk

What speed should you use with Panaerobics – whether HeavyHands, Longstrength, or IsoTonoMetrics? The books of Dr. Schwartz are helpful in this regard – to a point.

He describes working at various rates – all which seem rather fast paced. It could even seem like this suggested speed of motion could not be done while maintaining strict control of the handweights. Dr. Schwartz would have argued against using the weights without full control. It’s worth noting that the highest speeds were done using weights in the one to three pound range,  not the heavier weights normally shown when Dr. Schwartz posed for exercise pictures… some estimate them as about 8 pounds.

His videos – both of “HeavyHands” and “Wholebody Fitness for Seniors” may give a better feel for the range of speeds at which Panaerobics might be pursued.

In those videos as arm motions are counted, the number of repetitions is about 1 per second and, of course, a whole body motion is involved, not just arm motions.

Of course, Dr. Schwartz spoke about “slowaerobics”… movements as few as 10 per minute which could be included in a routine as part of a strength building phase within the larger workout.

Exercise fans coming to Panaerobics from a background of weight training, calisthenics, or “dynamic tension” who see the “120 reps per minute” as strange or unrealistic based on their past experience may unconsciously find themselves gravitating towards slower movements that may not be able to produce the desired cardio response.

Some general advice for people in transition may be to take the following steps to insure a genuine “panaerobic” response while protecting oneself from going too fast:

1) Never use a weight that cannot be fully controlled… when in doubt reduce the weight.

2) When in doubt think in terms of a hand weight, panaerobic bodyweight move, or ISO handclasp that can be done at the rate of 60 repetitions per minute for either an extended period of time or using intervals

3) If at all possible, workout to one of Dr. Schwartz’ exercise videos and attempt to mirror his pace and actions if it can be done comfortably.

All three suggestions can be helpful, but perhaps the last one is best. By modeling Dr. Schwartz directly, ideas about proper pace are perhaps most easily answered.  Pace learned through one form of Panaerobics will likely carry over well to other forms of exercise advocated by Dr. S.

Pan-X Apparatus

Leonard Schwartz’ Pan-X Apparatus

John aka “HHEnthusiast” recently posted an example of how a panaerobic exercise session might progress.  John personally communicated with Dr. Leonard Schwartz. In addition to doing HeavyHands three times per week, he finishes off each workout with “Panaerobics” or “Longstrength” calisthenics as taught to him by Dr. Schwartz. The Pan-X device is shown to the left but is, in practice, replaced with other exercise tools like adjustable height chinning bars, dipping bars, etc.

Here’s what he had to say (excerpted as needed for flow)….

[Regarding Longstrength] You may or may not find it of interest, but I think it brings another level of strength-endurance into the equation. I know Dr Schwartz enjoyed using it and made use if it during his several 10 minute bouts of exercise throughout the day. ( which he did in his later years as he felt he could increase his overall training intensity in that manner.)I did not start my modified Pan-X training until 2006, when I had the good fortune and honor and privilege  to  interact with Dr Schwartz. After Dr Schwartz described the method I came up with my alternative use of the walker and chin up bar as you all may or may not know [the Pan-X device] never made it to production.I use a walker set at hip height and an indoor chin-up bar set at about eye level. ( as prescribed by Dr Schwartz) As I stated I have a walker set at hip height,   I do Squat/Dips with  Upper Extremities [UE’s hereafter] doing dips on parallel bars of walker. I do not count but I am guessing I start out at a pace of 60-80 reps per minutes, then I may switch to doing Single Leg Squat (similar to a pistol squat), then maybe a ” alternating single leg superman” while doing dips, and maybe bring in trunk rotation by dipping more to contra-lateral (opposite) side of extended limb/leg.  Also may add  “running push-up” as Dr Schwartz described to me.The Pull-up/Chin-up/Squat set at about eye level (as prescribed by Dr Schwartz) with similar type gyrations as well as “jumping lunges” which really get’s the heart rate up. Also with dip “Station” as well as pull-up/chin bar can do leg scissors with dip or pull/chin ups. One arm chin-up with squat. The variations are limited by your imagination! I think the tempo is the key factor.  Dr Schwartz said a beginner would mostly have  a foot or feet on floor, but an advanced Pan-X’er would be occasionally be “airborne” with Lower Extremities [LE’s hereafter].  He explained to me of running  with  what would be performing “mini-dips” with UEs and “running” with LE at a pace of maybe 100-120 steps per minute, which you would not be able to do with full body-weight, but with supporting your body weight and taking off that weight you can move the LEs much faster than otherwise which will increase Heart Rate.I generally do not count reps or do sets with HH’ing or my “modified Pan-X”   I do it for time usually 10 minutes.  I usually “work-out”  3 times per week HH’ing ad lib x 20-30 minutes and then followed by “modified Pan-X”  x 10 minutes or vice-versa.

Also I would like to further elaborate on dip/squat chin-up/squat.  Len had in mind with the Pan-x as one unit with the dip and “pull-up bar” combined, the ability to switch stress to UE’s/LE’s and different musculature.

For example you could do the dip squat using mostly UE’s to do dips with little to minimal assist of LE’s, then when your arms started getting tired use LE’s to Push up into full Elbow extension then do eccentric lowering with UE’s, then when fatiqued from that switch to emphasis on squat with minial UE involvement, then could switch to chin-up postion on pull-up bar  (Palms facing you) and switch emphasis to Biceps/lats, initially using UE’s/Lats with minimal to no LE’s assist and possibly doing a calf raise at end of chin-up then switch emphasiss to LE’s with the squat again.  Also switch to Pull-up position Palms away from you to shift emphasis on muscles. Also single leg squat alternating or x number then switch to other leg, single arm chin-up and the variations go on  Only your imagination or lack thereof can limit you!

Also with dips if you move you feet more forward you get a little more chest emphasis , but still bring in quite a bit of triceps. similiar to the Dip Vince Gironda recommended for chest vs bench press  (sorry hope not to open a can of worms or offend any bench presser’s!  Vince was slightly different in his approach!  He did not think much about squatting either!!)

Have your own insight from your conversations/correspondance with Dr. Leonard Schwartz on HeavyHands, Panaerobics, IsoTonoMetrics, etc? We’d love to hear from you and document your experience here for others to find! Please leave a comment on any page and the blog curator will get in touch with you! Thanks!