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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    Maffetone heart-rate exercise - best way to improve?

    Primal Fuel
    I've recently started using the Maffetone method. I have a heart rate monitor and I want to start running. I am pretty fit in other activities, doing a lot of hiking, biking and almost a year of strength training now. I can ride my bike under my MAF heart rate pretty easily, although pretty slowly. I struggle to walk fast enough to get my heart rate up unless there's a big hill, then it shoots up pretty fast. But running? I can't run at all! I can sort of shuffle along, hovering right under my max heart rate! It's kind of embarrassing.

    I can accept that my aerobic fitness is fairly poor and that I have a lot of work to do, but what's the best way to do it? I really want to work on running. Should I just keep shuffling along? Or should I alternate between a more normal jogging gait, then when the monitor beeps, walk for a while until my heart rate is below my target zone, then jog again?

    If you know the Maffetone method and have any answers, I'd appreciate it.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 170 x 3. Current Deadlift: 220 x 3

  2. #2
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    I would do which ever is more enjoyable... I like hilly trails, walk up the hills, run slowly on the flats and run fast down the hills. This way is much more enjoyable plus I can keep my heart rate at the 180-age very easy by walking when needed. Don't worry if you go over your Maff heart rate a little here and there, try to keep your average heart rate for the whole run on target though.

    I do all my running fasted... helps with getting fat burning adapted. The more miles you put in the faster Maff works...its a great way to improve your fitness without getting caught in the chronic cardio speed trap.

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    i've read a lot of Maffetone's stuff, and trained that way on and off for a couple of years.

    If you need to jog, and then walk a while do that. Over time you will be able to jog for longer without the walking. It takes a lot of time but the benefits are great.

    If you want to be able to run, then running is the thing to do. Otherwise any sort of aerobic exercise will do. Sport specific is god though if you have some goals in that area. Just get moving however you like and keep the HR below the limit, walk when you need to.

    A treadmill can work well, or a stationary bike, particularly in the early stages when you are getting your fitness up for this type of work. Lots of people prefer to be outside all the time, so taking hills into account is something you just have to do. Walking is no crime :-)

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    Thank you both. I like to do my running during lunch hour. I work near the beach so there is really only one hill, the one that goes down the bluffs to the flats. So all my running is basically on the flats for now. I hope to improve enough to run hillier stuff. Right now even the slightest, barely perceptible hill makes me walk.

    I run on an empty stomach but not really fasted but I'm often hungry when I go out.

    I am enjoying the really super slow running and biking, although it's somewhat painful to run with such a strange shuffling gait. I can really feel the results. It definitely is an aerobic exercise. I feel it afterwards in my chest or my center, like I really worked out hard, like I've worked something that hasn't been worked before. It makes me quite a believer because I can totally see that I have done a great job on my anaerobic fitness but not so much on the aerobic fitness. Explains a lot to me about many of the problems I have had over the years.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 170 x 3. Current Deadlift: 220 x 3

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    SB, I'm thinking of tracking this Maffetone book down in the library system went I return to the States. I'm intrigued with this method. Keep us posted on how you do with it, I'm curious to see what kind of benefits there might be with a strategy like this. (I also have some killer endurance muscles, but not so much of the other kind - brainfreeze at the moment as to what they're called.)

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    You can read pretty much all of what you need on his website. Phil Maffetone, www.philmaffetone.com - Home It does take a bit of digging around but basically his Big Book of Health and Fitness is pretty much all the articles on his website plus a little bit of other stuff that's probably on his website but I haven't found it yet.

    The whole Maffetone method includes his diet, which describes as the Mediterranean diet. It's almost exactly the same as the Primal Blueprint diet but without any carb curve. Your carb intake is based on a Two Week Test, kind of a whole 30 for two weeks, which I think makes more sense than just a general carb curve for the masses.

    The exercise part that I'm doing is specifically for endurance and aerobic fitness. It's a low-heart-rate method, 180 - age is your max heart rate. You supposedly can improve your aerobic fitness by staying under that rate by about 10 beats per minute. Anything faster than that and he says you're working your anaerobic system, not your aerobic one. And if you are working your anaerobic system you are burning sugar for energy. If you are working the aerobic one you are burning fat for energy. I have felt intuitively that this sounds pretty accurate, that I exercise too hard when I do and that I'm probably suffering from overtraining. I had no idea that I would be so sloowwww at such a low heart rate. But you have to start somewhere.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 170 x 3. Current Deadlift: 220 x 3

  7. #7
    PureFunctionalFitness's Avatar
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    High intensity intervals etc is part of Maffetone's method too, he just believes in spending a lot of the year creating a big aerobic base as a platform for the more intense stuff. Above his HR ceiling is still aerobic, but you are using more sugars for fuel , and he is really into this use of fat as the primary fuel source. Also, he believes that working at even a high aerobic level causes adrenal stress and increased cortisol stress hormone, and also makes injury more likely.

    Lots of good reasons to keep the HR low a lot of the time and use the fuel source you were designed to use most of the time........FAT

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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    Well from all the stuff I have read from him, I believe I have all the signs of someone who has been working out at too high an aerobic level for way too long. So that is why I'm giving this a try. I think it will be beneficial for me.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 170 x 3. Current Deadlift: 220 x 3

  9. #9
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    I have the book and purchased a heart rate monitor and started in. I use it for my walks, hikes, and mountainbike rides which can be epic at times. We have many mountains here on the coast where you can jack your heart rate in a second. A couple of posters offered good advice, if you can't jack your heart rate walking, jog a bit, when you hit your max and go over, walk. My mountainbike rides send my heart rate all over the place, I just try to make sure the greatest percentage of my bike riding is under my age calculated target. I have noticed this is much more enjoyable than the constant killing myself that I used to do.
    You'll never see the light if you're in someone else's shadow, or said another way, life is like a dog sled team, if you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes

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    Yeah, it's way more enjoyable. Even just shuffling along like I have been doing. The cool thing is riding my bike to work, if I just breathe through my nose at all times I stay below my max. I get passed by almost everybody but I don't care. I arrive at work feeling refreshed.

    Maffetone's pdf about overtraining really resonated with me. I feel I have a lot of the things going on that he mentions in the stage 1 overtraining.

    A common problem in Stage 1 overtraining is a
    developing imbalance between aerobic and
    anaerobic capacity
    .
    ...

    Adrenal gland dysfunction, very common in
    overtraining, starts in Stage 1. In addition, it
    typically parallels aerobic deficiency. As Stage 1
    progresses, athletes may begin to develop fatigue,
    sleeping irregularities and abnormal hunger
    or
    cravings. They may be unable to lose that extra
    body fat, get sleepy after meals, and have an
    uncanny craving for caffeine
    .

    Nutritional problems may include excess
    consumption of refined carbohydrates at the
    expense of healthy fats and protein.

    Other complains common in the first stage of
    overtraining include:
    • Increasing vulnerability to back, knee,
    ankle, and foot injuries.
    • Adrenal gland hormone imbalance –
    slight elevations in cortisol (and
    secondary lowering of testosterone and
    DHEA levels.
    • Premenstrual syndrome and menopausal
    symptoms may be secondary complaints
    for women, but amenorrhea is the most
    common hormonal problem.
    • Sexual dysfunction may be a problem for
    both sexes, typically producing reduced
    sexual desire
    and sometimes infertility.
    • Mental and emotional stress, including
    mild or clinical depression and anxiety is
    not uncommon.

    I have or have had in the past (like when I did the PCT) the bolded ones, all very mild.

    Even if Maffetone is totally all wrong about all this, the lower heart rate training is definitely making exercise more enjoyable than the constant push-push-push I was doing before. I'm like the meanest boss or coach ever, always thinking if I did X yesterday I should be able to do X++ tomorrow. I know that's all wrong but it's been hard to break myself of that. The heart monitor and Maffetone's ideas give me permission to ease up and turn off that mean voice in my head that says, no, you must do even MORE, and at the same time, to feel like I'm actually doing something positive that may result in better health AND performance in the long term.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 170 x 3. Current Deadlift: 220 x 3

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