Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A weekly date with HeavyHands

Several years ago, I regularly included HeavyHands as a component of my cardiovascular fitness training. Eventually, my fitness training interests changed and this great training method fell out of my fitness tool box.

HeavyHands is a whole-body system of aerobic exercise using light dumbbells that was created by Dr. Leonard Schwartz, M.D. Dr. Schwartz developed HeavyHands as a 57-year young physician interested in aerobic conditioning to improve heart heath. He was working on his heart health goal through traditional means such as running, swimming, biking, etc. After suffering a pulled hamstring, he began exploring alternative ways to keep his heart rate in a target training zone with less emphasis on the legs.

Dr. Schwartz discovered that swinging a baseball bat for twenty minutes while squatting and other whole body tactics seemed to do the trick so over the next few months, he thought up HeavyHands as a new approach to fitness, using variable-sized weights, different levels of intensity, range of motion and tempos. The end result was HeavyHands as it is known today – cardio training and a special form of strength training simultaneously – and the title of a book he wrote that was published in 1984.

On Monday afternoon, I wrapped up my fitness training by resurrecting HeavyHands. I used a pair of 5-lb. dumbbells in each hand and performed a 7-minute medley walking on a treadmill set at a one-percent incline at a pace of four miles per hour (that’s a 15-minute mile). 

I changed movements every minute so that one round of this 7-movement medley took 7 minutes to complete. In the “old days”, I would do this 7-movement medley for 30 minutes and once went as long as 50 minutes. But sporting some HeavyHands rust, I decided that 15 minutes was enough.

Here’s a description of my 7-movement medley (I’ll eventually make a video demonstration of this when I’m not so busy with my work):

Minute #1 - Hands pumping like you would walk or run, sort of like a half-curl with one arm while the other arm swings back, alternating back and forth.

Minute #2 - Side lateral raises

Minute #3 - Front butterflies – a movement mimicking the range of motion if you were using a Pec Dec exercise machine

Minute #4 - Alternating forward punches (be careful with this one)

Minute #5 - A slightly forward bend while doing ski poles as if you were doing cross country skiing.

Minute #6 - Alternating upper cuts slightly crossing your body, and finally the butt-kicker

Minute #7 - Double overhead presses (pressing simultaneously).

The higher your hands are above your heart, the tougher the cardio demand so that's why my medley starts low and gradually rises.

Fifteen minutes of this workout produced a nice cardiovascular training result. My heart rate monitor reported that my average heart rate was 158 beats per minutes (85 percent of my maximum HR) and that my highest HR was 173 beats per minute (94% of my maximum HR).

I had forgotten how good this workout feels so my plans are for a weekly date with HeavyHands.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Update - Here's a new Pierini Fitness blogflection on Heavyhands that includes a video demonstrating this 7-movement medley - enjoy!


fishhead said...

Nice and informative blog post.
I like to set my timer and do each movement for one minute also.
Thanks and have a great day!! :)

C said...

Excellent post! Very inspiring. I get great results from double ski poling!

Sam said...

Hi Pierini, at 64, I picked heavyhands up again after a 20 year hiatus and started at some point in January 2021 again. Currently, I am using one pounders and will switch to two pounders once I can comfortably do 300 consecutive DSPs. I am about halfway there. These days I am enjoying heavyhands a lot more than I did 20 years ago. These days instead of focusing on hefty weights, I am more after speed, fancy footwork, side leans, knee dips, and quick shadow boxing combos. I am really having fun, and hope that you too will continue HHs. I really enjoyed reading your blog. Hang in there and live joyously. Sam

Pierini Fitness said...

Thank you Sam. I did a 30 minutes workout recently using a pair of 5-lb. dumbbells. I generally do my Pierini Fitness Heavyhands 7-Movement Medley.