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Time and Effort

January 2, 2009


It’s something we’re all needing more of. I’d love more time.

Recently I started doing exercises for time instead of reps with my pulmonary patients. Basically, instead of having them do 10 reps and seeing them struggle through the ten reps I started asking them to do as many as they could in the time they tolerate. One lady in particular two weeks ago tolerated 10-15 seconds of cycling on a restorator (the little bike thingeys they sell in those old people magazine things). She now tolerates a full two minutes. Same thing for long arc quads. Sitting down kicking up the foot (without weight for her at this time). She used to do about 15-20 secons of that, now is able to do a full minute. We’re sticking with a minute and trying to increase reps each time. I’m seeing these very deconditioned people improve much faster than usual with trying to just increase reps. I’m seeing these patients progress much faster onto standing exercises as well.

In my upcoming program the focus is time, not actual reps and sets. (which is where I got the idea two weeks ago to try this with my patients). From the results I am getting with people who have such difficulty doing just 20 seconds of activity and making 500% progress in 2 weeks with indurance, I’m hoping I will see awesome results as well. I haven’t calculated the strength percents, but they’re doing much better as well with reps per minute. Hopefully since I’m not so deconditioned I’ll see quite a bit of strength increase as well as endurance.

Working out for time instead of sets and reps… could this work? I’m thinking it will. Use the same time per workout, but increase the intensity of it each time. Whether it be calculated in calories/minute, lbs/minute (for lifting), or distance/minute for runners, this could be an effective way to cram more work into less time.

I think it’s worth a shot and I’m excited to give time a try during my next program.

Enjoy your day!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. ladlam permalink
    January 3, 2009 2:33 AM

    Just wanted to let you know that I started training quite similar to this about 6 months ago. I would ramp the treadmill and run for 45 seconds for as fast as I could. I started at 16km/hr and in 2 weeks worked up to 20km/hr (the machines max speed unfortunately). My overall fitness improved hugely!
    I hope your patients see similar progress!

  2. Chris Brown permalink
    January 3, 2009 10:45 AM

    Those are some pretty great improvements in those deconditioned clients of yours!!

    A question that came to mind while reading:

    The older clients that you work with (such as the ones mentioned above), are they pretty much sent your way because they are very deconditioned (eg. as determined by a doctor) or have they had an accident and need physical rehab??

    Also, thanks for the comment on my blog!! Definitely appreciate your thoughts!

    • January 3, 2009 11:54 AM

      Ladlam, I hope I get similar results to what I’m seeing with my patients!!! The pulmonary patients in particular are just doing stunning!


      They usually are referred by a doctor after a hospitalization, surgery, or accident :). That narrows it down, right?

      The one’s I see in the assisted living buildings are often referred becuase they had a fall or some sort of decline in status.

      The one’s I see at the nursing home usually are there from a surgery or accident or other hospitalization (stroke, heart attack, parkinsons). We also see some long term residents for fall or decline related incidents.

      The one’s I see in the hospital are varied and I usually don’t see them more than 3 days unless I’m working in the rehab unit.

      The patients I’m having the greatest progress with are the one’s with COPD. Most of my patients are over 75. Oldest now is 96 :). Most of them are very deconditioned no matter how they come to me.

  3. January 3, 2009 3:46 PM

    Sounds like a great plan. I tend to rotate how I do things. Sometimes I aim for time, sometimes distance, it just depends on my mood. I find that switching things up works for me. I bet you see good results from it.

  4. ladlam permalink
    January 3, 2009 3:49 PM

    So you are trying a similar approach in your own training?
    It must be quite difficult trying to rehab patients that are recovering from strokes and heart attacks. Are you constantly worrying about what their heart is doing?

  5. Alyce permalink
    January 3, 2009 9:35 PM

    I like the time approach – sounds like a fresh way to look at things and that’s always nice. I’m not that far into my structured weight program but I’m sure eventually thinking of everything in terms of sets and reps must get boring! Can’t wait to hear about your progress with the new routine.

  6. January 4, 2009 9:01 AM

    Teresa, I sure hope I do! If not, there’s always the next program 🙂

    Ladlam, yep, I’m starting the time approach with kettlebells. I don’t worry about the patients with heart surgeries. When I see them in the hospital, they are hooked up to heart and oxygen monitors. We watch the oxygen saturation more than the heart rate honestly. When the O2 gets under 90, we rest. Also, we let them tell us when they need a rest based on the scale of exertion. So, na, no worries. It’s really not as scary as it seemed when I was in college.

    Alyce, I loved my NROL programs, but yeah, sets and reps… I’m tired of them for now! No reps to count… It’ll be nice :). I know that when I get back to NROL (week 13) I’ll definitely love the structure again because I do like charting my progress that way as well. It’s the first way I learned, so I’m sure it’ll be a bit hard to change from it.

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