Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pace Ladders (This Time with Squats!)

A few years ago, I was spending a lot of time training with kettlebells and happened upon a work-rest scheme that, as far as I could tell, no one had hitherto written about - pace ladders (2009 blog post).

The idea of pace ladders was to have an interval scheme that started at a slow cadence then, over succeeding sets, progressed to a fast pace, then dropped back to the slow cadence to begin the progression again. This would be repeated as many (or as few) times as desired.

For example, one set I did for kettlebell snatches with a 53lb kettlebell was 30 second intervals, resting in the overhead position, 2 reps - 4 reps - 6 reps -8 reps -10 reps - 2 reps - 4 reps - 6 reps, switch hands and repeat. That's 84 reps in 8 minutes with one hand switch at a pace that varied from 4 reps/minute at its slowest to 20 reps/minute at its peak - not bad for one extended set!

I've recently started doing this rep scheme with squats. Understand, I'm not recommending this exactly, just telling you about the training I'm doing lately that is making the higher reps feel a little less laborious.

In this workout, I squat for 3 minutes and 40 seconds. The ladder consists of doing 1 rep for the first 20 seconds, 2 reps for the second, 3 reps for the third, 4 reps for the fourth, and 5 reps for the fifth 20 seconds. I do this twice.

Considering the Alternative...

One of the tremendous upsides of choosing some kind of healthy lifestyle change, even if it's not THE best choice, is that you are NOT choosing a plethora of other bad behaviors.

Consider a person who is obese that decides to walk for one hour a day every single day, working at a leisurely pace, stopping and resting during that hour as often as needed. If you were to survey internet fitness gurus, no doubt many of them would scream and curse about how 'YOU CAN'T OUTRUN A DONUT!' or 'THAT WON'T EVEN BURN ENOUGH CALORIES TO MATTER!'. They are missing the point completely - this is exactly what is meant by 'replacement behaviors'. By choosing to spend an hour walking, they are also choosing to NOT sit on a couch for an hour internet surfing and eating chips.

Choosing a positive behavior and following through, even when it may not be the best option available, can be the first step toward building positive habits that will lead to more constructive and even better decisions down the road.