Monday, January 20, 2020

I'm interested in my HRR

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.  According to statistics appearing on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, heart disease leads the top ten pack, accounting for 31 percent of all deaths for 2017, the latest-published information.

National Center for Health Statistics - USA Numbers for Leading Causes of Death

  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
The above statistics are for all ages, both male and female.  Since Pierini Fitness will be a “newly-crowned” Medicare Man next month, he decided to see what the statistics are for age 65 years and above males.  According to the same source, for males age 65 years and older all races and origins, diseases of the heart contributed to 27 percent of all deaths for 2017.  This was surprising in that the percentage for all age groups male and female.

Nonetheless, it’s too high for Pierini Fitness and has opened his eyes to the importance of doing everything possible for his cardiovascular conditioning and health.  Obviously, diet is important, yet what the best way to eat for good cardiovascular health is a topic of heated discussion among the many nutrition expert factions in the world all believing they know best.  I’ll say nothing more about cardiovascular health nutrition in this post, saving that discussion, perhaps, for a different day.

But I continue to believe that exercise does contribute to my cardiovascular conditioning and health.  To have some objective way of assessing, I like numbers, such as heart rate statistics obtained from my Garmin heart rate fitness monitor that I capture with each workout.  I’m an analytical junkie when it comes to my fitness, health and wellness.

Last year, about this time, I reported the results of a YMCA Bench Step Test for Cardiovascular Fitness.  This test rated my performance as excellent, so I was pleased. 

I recently read an article written by a medical doctor cardiologist who goes by the cyberspace name of The Skeptical Cardiologist.  He has a website where he shares his unbiased and evidence-based articles he has written discussing the effects of diet, drugs and procedures on heart disease.

The article I read shared the doctor’s experience in measuring his heart rate recovery (HRR) after a workout he did and how research evidence indicates that HRR is a simple and powerful predictor of mortality.  

What’s HRR?

It’s the rate of decline in heart rate after you quit exercising.  It’s measured by taking your heart rate (beats per minute of bpm) right after you stop exercising and again a minute later (and/or two minutes later) and subtract one from the other.

The Skeptical Cardiologist’s article referred to a 1999 study that reported the results of a cardiovascular research study measuring HRR and mortality risk.  In the research, the median HRR was 17 bpm but 26 percent had an HRR of less than 13 bpm. Patients with an HRR of less than 13 bpm had a double risk of dying.

Another follow-up study of about 10 thousand patients found that an HRR of less than 13 bpm doubled the 5-year risk of death.

Yet another study reported that a 2-minute HRR of less than 22 bpm provided a better measure predicting mortality at seven years than the one-minute test.

While regularly measuring heart rate performance during my workouts, the HRR stat hasn’t regularly been one of them but it’ll now be moving forward.

Yup, I’m interested in my HRR.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 17, 2020

Soon-to-be rich Medicare Man

Pierini Fitness is jumping with joy because his economic toil of paying high health insurance premiums is coming to an end next month.  In fact, I paid my last highway robbery health insurance premium late last month for January 2020.  I will no longer write another check each month for $836 because next month I’ll officially be a Medicare Man.

My new monthly health insurance premium cost will now consist of what’s called the Part B amount and the amount I pay for supplemental insurance not covering what Medicare pays.  

I won’t bore you with the details because it’s an amazingly detailed and bureaucratic economic maze that I’m sure employs tens of thousands of government employees at the Social Security Administration to shuffle the paper and collect the monthly premiums Medicare people pay each month.

The bottom line is that my monthly cost will now be $220 which $616 a month – or $7,392 a year – less than what I have been paying.  And, I will also get a free gym membership.

So, not only will I soon be a Medicare Man but a soon-to-be rich Medicare Man.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

In a redneck bar

This is the time of year Pierini Fitness gets busier with his work.  He’s been subject to this grind now for almost 40 years.  It seems like it gets easier while it seems like it doesn’t.  If this year is like the average of the past 40 years, I’ll be able to deal with it because I have in the past.

One of the challenges, though, is being on guard that my fitness, health and wellness doesn’t suffer at the expense of longer work hours.  It has in the past and I paid the price.  Not last year, though, because I was on guard.  Like a turkey vulture high on a power line looking below for roadkill that will be his next meal.  It worked so I plan on doing the same this year – being on guard.

A couple of “tricks” seem to help.  One is the mantra, “Something is better than nothing.”  My workouts, lately, tend to be longer in duration.  I’ll need to shorten them, swapping duration with intensity.  

Another one is acknowledging that I don’t need to workout every day.  That day has come and gone when I was in Pierini Fitness boot camp reclaiming my long-lost upper-percentile fitness.  Honestly, two or three days a week will keep me in maintenance during my upcoming busy work season.  More likely than not, I’ll do more than this because I find fitness training is a breath of fresh air from the drudgery of sitting at my desk all day, using my brain and grinding it out hour after hour in a high-alert analytical mode.  My workouts are like elementary school recess time; a time to play.

Thanks to good training journals from last year, a year in which I did a good job of not lightening my workout load, I’ll refer to them from time to time to be reminded that it can be done – working a long time yet finding time to squeeze in a decent workout to balance out the day.

But I will be busy working long hours and the cumulative demand of it can be overwhelming.  In the thickest of this thick, at times I’ll feel like a one-arm bouncer breaking up a big fist fight in a redneck bar.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 10, 2020

Easy on the eyes

Happy New Year 2020 my fellow middle-aged man brother from a different mother.  Please accept my best wishes that all your 2020 dreams and desires are realized in the new year.

I hope to finally be back on the Pierini Fitness saddle and start delivering a more regular dose of middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying to live a good and honest life.  My efforts lately have been spotty which happens from time to time.

The new year brings a new decade of life and with it is a realization that Pierini Fitness – the blog - now covers three decades of cyberspace presence.  That’s not suggesting I’ve been at it for 30 years but, nonetheless, it now has a cyberspace presence covering three decades - 2000-2009, 2010-2019 and, now, starting 2020 decade.  God willing, hopefully there will be many more.  

So, where should I start with this first post of a new decade.  Maybe with some rambling and eventually something will come from it.  

How about sharing my Winter 2020 fitness goals for starters?  I do have some, continuing with a season-based theme of fitness goals that give me fitness training focus while having fun chasing my middle-aged man fitness, health and wellness goals.

These are the Winter 2020 fitness goals I’ve set for myself:

1 - Complete a single set of 18 pull-ups.  My best recent effort is 16 reps.

2 - Morning weigh-in no more than 175 lbs. with 170-175 lbs. being ideal weight range.  My average morning weight in 2019 was 173.22 lbs.  

3 - Complete 100 burpees in 10:00.  Yikes! - this will be a challenge and it may take until Summer 2020 before I get close to achieving this goal.  My best recent effort is 11:44 but it would take longer now after being on vacation for 15-days and hardly working out.  

4 – Perform a pull-up hang hold of 2:20.

5 – Perform a handstand hold against wall for 1:30.

6 - Make further progress lowering my body fat percentage with a Summer 2020 goal of 16.0 percent and be at 16.5 percent by end of this winter.

None of these goals will make me a more virtuous and wholesome middle-aged man.  Some of my harshest critics may think I’m chasing wind and being vain with goals like these.

Good for them being able to complete a thought!  There’s nothing wrong under the sun having goals, whatever they may be.  They give us direction as we navigate the turbulent world in which we live.  

The hard work I’ve done since reporting to Pierini Fitness boot camp last August 31, 2018 has been rewarding.  It’s enabled me to reclaim my middle-aged man fitness, health and wellness with upper-percentile strength endurance and cardiovascular-respiratory condition.  But, there’s more work to do and I’ll do it in 2020!

One of the “fruits” of my hard work has been a more pleasing-to-the-eyes body appearance, at least in my eyes.  The middle-aged man paunch is gone, my knees don’t hurt, my face doesn’t look like a chipmunk that’s been harvesting chestnuts from my previous gluttonous adventures, and my across-the-board fitness measures are all up.

Mrs. Pierini Fitness, my chief critic, did give me some honesty perspective recently.  She told me that while all my hard training has given me a more fit, lean and mean-appearing body appearance, the weight I’ve lost has made my face look like a 70-year old man.


Is it now, like, when I ring the doorbell and the person on the other side says, “Who’s there?” that my answer is “Freddy Krueger calling.”

Seems like I’ve got some other work to do.

And, what might that be?

To see if I can make my face easy on the eyes.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 20, 2019

Fall 2019 fitness goals results

Pierini Fitness doing a Sprint 8 burpees 
workout on a recent Fall 2019 day.
Good day Pierini Fitness sports fans.  Have you been wondering where I’ve been?  It’s been a while and I’ve been known to go AWOL every now and then for various reasons.  This time, I was gone for slightly over one month.  What was going on?  I hit a creative dry spot, something I’ve done before.  But I also got busy helping Mrs. Pierini Fitness help her 91-year old father who has become increasingly frail and needing more assistance.  It’s a reminder that we’re all going to, sooner or later, get our turn.

Despite my absence, I’ve managed to continue with my fitness training which, as of today, is for the most part significantly done for 2019. Mrs. Pierini Fitness and I are leaving for a two-week vacation in Arizona to visit our four little grandsons.  It’ll be a breath of fresh air that I’m looking forward to beginning, and it will on Saturday.

I’ve made and uploaded several YouTube videos sharing snapshots of my fitness training. Most of them showcase my pursuits of pull-ups, bar dips and burpees performance goals.  As a soon-to-be Medicare Man, I’m proud of my current conditioning yet grateful and humble, realizing that it could all be taken away from me in heartbeat.

The remainder of this post will give an accountability report of how I did in achieving, or not, various Fall 2019 fitness goals that I previously shared.

Fall 2019 Fitness Goals

1 - complete 100 reps of alternating pull-ups and chin-ups in 20:00 or less. Accomplished on 11/29/2019 - 100 reps in 19:38.

2 - complete single set max reps of 18 pull-ups. Did not achieve, best this Fall 2019 is 16 pull-ups on 12/14/2019.

3 - complete single set max reps of 25 bar dips. Accomplished on 12/3/2019 with 30 bar dips. 

4 - run mile in 7:00. Did not achieve, basically abandoned training effort due to demands of chasing burpees goal. Will achieve by Summer 2020.

5 - complete 100 burpees in 12 minutes. Accomplished on 12/14/2019 completing 100 burpees in 11:54.  

6 - morning weigh-in of 170-175 lbs. 100 percent. Accomplished, did not weigh more than 175 lbs. at any time but did dip below 170 lbs. for a streak.

7 - pull-up hang hold of 1:50. Accomplished with 2:02 on 10/19/2019. 

8 - handstand hold against wall of 1:15. Did not achieve but did do 1:14 on 12/10/2019. 

9 - body fat of 16 percent (currently 18.6 percent.) Did not achieve but measured 17.4 percent on 12/18/2019.

To all my Pierini Fitness sports fan, Merry Christmas 2019 and Happy New Year 2020, and may all your dreams and desires for 2020 be realized in the new year.  I’ll be away until the first week of January 2020 and it may take another week before I return to Pierini Fitness with fresh new content of my middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying to live a good and honest life.

There you have it, my Fall 2019 fitness goals results.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, November 18, 2019

Tabata Burpees

Yesterday, Sunday late morning, I went to the park for a quick workout.  It included a single set of pull-ups of 15 reps.  Then, I wrapped up my workout with a 4-minute quickie of Tabata burpees.

Tabata burpees are done following the Tabata protocol of 8 rounds of high-intensity exercise work with a brief 20 seconds recovery.  In my case, it was 20 seconds of doing as many burpees as I could. 

I did this workout only once before five years ago but only shared the first round of effort, because I was embarrassed at my performance for the latter rounds.  That time, I completed 48 burpees but ended up being off-cadence and it took me 5 minutes to complete all 8 rounds.

Yesterday, I did better but still have work to do.  I completed 45 burpees in the prescribed 8 rounds and got all 8 rounds completed in the prescribed 4 minutes, despite having a “technical difficulty” during the first round of trying to sync by Garmin heart rate monitor timer with my Gymboss timer.  Nonetheless, I was satisfied with my effort.

All the burpees I’ve been doing lately is training to help me achieve one of my Fall 2019 fitness goals of completing 100 burpees in 12 minutes.  It’s a goal I expect to achieve early, likely this month.  Then, God willing, I’ll continue marching forward to see how much more progress I can make.

I’ll never go wrong banging out a quick 4 minute workout of Tabata burpees.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum