Why Heart Rate Matters

Check out this these details that look at stress response in relation to heart rate:

Heart Rate and a Persons Response to Stress

60-80 beats per minute: Normal resting heart rate for most people

115-120 beats per minute: Fine motor skills deteriorate

120-145 bates per minute: Optimal for complex motor skills and reaction time 

145-150 beats per minute: Complex motor skills deteriorate

170-175 beats per minute: Loss of peripheral vision, loss of near vision, cognitive perception deteriorates, loss of depth perception auditory 

175-200 beats per minute: Loss of gross motor skills, irrational fleeing, fighting or submissive behavior.


Basically, what I want you to take from the above is there’s a relationship as the heart rate moves further away from a normal resting heart rate and the control of certain physical and cognitive qualities.

I’ve definitely witnessed this decline at the gym! It starts with movement quality deterioration as people get deeper and deeper into the hole during a workout, and it goes further downhill from there…

I couldnt see. I thought I went deaf during that workout.

I couldnt even think straight, I was so messed up!

The second thing I want you to take from the above is that the more cardiovascular fitness you have, the more you can prevent this physical and cognitive deterioration from happening, not to mention the better you will move and the better your decision-making will be while under duress. The point is conditioning the heart can help prevent detours into sloppy town, and help you produce a higher relative output for longer.

And, of course, the more fit your heart is, the better you will be at life. I know I’d trust a cardiovascularly-fit fireman, who runs up 10 flights up stairs to rescue someone from a burning building, to make a good decision than an unfit, and likely flustered, individual with a 200 beats-per-minute heart rate panting uncontrollably.


This brings me to the my next point:

The importance of preserving the workouts intended stimulus during each training session.

The what, what? What stimulus? I thought we just did random stuff everyday?

Basically every workout has a specific intention. Sometimes we want you to work at a nearly max heart rate for 30 seconds, and then take a full recovery before repeating more 30-second high-intensity intervals. Other times, we want you conditioning for 8-10 minutes at a relatively high heart rate. And other times still, we want you to work continuously for 30-minutes at a functionally-feeling heart rate in the 120 range.

All of the above workouts train your cardiovascular system in different ways, and all have merit.

That being said, if you choose to ignore the workout’s intention resulting in, for example, you taking 20 minutes to complete a workout that’s supposed to take 5 minutes, then you’ve essentially missed the purpose of the day and won’t reap the benefits of the short, hard, fast workout of the week.

Usually this happens because someone wants to lift a heavier weight than they should—to keep up with the person next to them or to complete the workout as prescribed. But choosing to go heavier than you should just means you’ll slow down to the point that the workout becomes a strength working instead of an 8-minute conditioning workout and you miss the intention of the day. And because of it, your poor little heart won’t see the gains it should.

Though I see this most often with people putting too much weight on the bar, another common mis-step I see is people choosing the wrong gymnastics progression to preserve the intention of the day.

For example, let’s say we give you the option to do 3 muscle-ups or 6 pull-ups in a 15-minute AMRAP conditioning workout with muscle-ups/pull-ups, rowing and KB swings. You can do a muscle-up so you decide to go for the muscle-ups. But you can only do about one muscle up every minute and need ample rest in between. In order to preserve the intended stimulus of the workout—15 minutes of conditioning——you should have chosen to do the pull-ups instead the muscle-ups as pull-ups will allow you to complete more work at a higher heart rate. Instead, the workout becomes a muscle-up skill workout for you sprinkled with some rowing and KB swings.

There’s a time for skill work, there’s a time for strength work, and there’s a time for conditioning. We’ll make sure you work on them all, but when it’s time to work the heart at a specific intensity in a specific time domain, do you best to select wisely so you preserve the workout’s intended stimulus.

If you’re unsure how much to lift or what gymnastics movement to select, ask the coach for advice. That’s what we’re here for.   And if you want to see what your heart rate is you can always try out our demo heart rate monitor on the MyZone system or pick up one of your own from the pro shop.

Barbell Rules

If you’re like me, you don’t like power trip rules. In other words, rules just for the sake of having rules. So annoying, right?

I’ve always believed rules should be in place for a logical reason, and when the reason is explained clearly, I then respect and embrace following that rule.

When it comes to barbell etiquette, we have some important rules we want you to follow—not because we’re on a power trip to tell you what to do—but to keep you and our equipment safe.

Here are 10 barbell etiquette rules we absolutely need you to understand and embrace:


  1. No Close Standers Allowed

I often see people standing intimately close to someone as he or she is setting up for a big lift. In a weightlifting gym, the rule is you’re only allowed to stand on a platform if you’re about to lift the barbell on that platform. What we’re saying is, if you’re not about to lift the bar, move out of the way. Akin to this, never walk in front or behind another lifter. It goes without saying, this is for your safety and the safety of the person lifting the barbell. Human and barbell collisions are to be avoided at all costs.


  1. Strip Gingerly

When you’re stripping down your barbell, don’t let the empty barbell smash to the ground as you aggressively rip the 45 lb. plate off the bar. Instead, place one hand on the barbell as you remove the weight and gently lower the empty barbell to the floor. Letting the barbell smash to the ground is hard on the barbell, meaning we need to replace them more often, increasing our costs and ultimately your rates.


  1. Keep the Metal to a Minimum

Adding steel upon steel is not OK. The general rule is, if you can throw some rubber on the barbell, please do. For example, instead of putting three pairs of 5-lb. metal plates on the barbell, put on one set of 15-lb. rubber plates instead. Similarly, hogging all the 15 lb. plates, instead of throwing on a pair of 45 lb. plates, isn’t cool to the rest of the people in the class, especially during a big class. Apart from the equipment hog aspect of the rule, dropping barbells loaded with metal is harder on the barbells.


  1. Collars are Cool

Always use collars, especially when you’re going overhead. Sure, collars aren’t always necessary for a heavy set of deadlifts during a strength session, but if you’re at shoulder height—fronts squats, back squats—and especially going overhead—shoulder press, push press, jerk, snatch, overhead squat, bench press, COLLAR THAT BARBELL UP! It goes without saying that weights flying off barbells is dangerous for you the lifter, and for those walking by or spotting, who could end up with a weight dropped on their foot.


  1. Do Not Drop:
  • Empty barbells, or barbells without rubber and collars on them
  • DBs (unless they’re below the height of your knee)
  • KBs
  • Metal plates
  • Babies

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but let’s protect our equipment. And our babies.


  1. Dont be Shy

If you’re lifting heavy and there’s even a chance you could fail the lift, don’t hesitate to ask for a spotter. If you’re comfortable ditching a bar off your bad during a back squat, then double check and make sure you have TONS of space behind you.


  1. Stop and Listen

When a coach comes over to offer feedback or advice, stop lifting and listen, even if you’re in the middle of a conditioning workout.


  1. No Plate Collectors Allowed

Plate collectors are those who can be found with a set or two of 5 lb. and 2 lb. plates strewn about haphazardly about in their general lifting area. This is a tripping hazard, not to mention you end up hogging equipment. If you’re not currently using weights, put them away until you need them again.


  1. Respect Percentages

Even if you think it’s “too light,” the percentages programmed for the day are there for a reason. Follow them, or if you’re confused, speak to a coach first before going “off program.”


  1. Ask!

If you’re confused about what you’re suppose to be doing, how much you’re supposed to be lifting, or you have any questions at all, don’t guess. Ask. You’re paying good money to be here, so don’t be afraid to use the coaches.

Don’t forget that the Spig’s & Squints Barbell Club starts up in April!