It's good to "Shock" our Bodies Right? (Raising Treadmill Exercise Intensity)


I often see social media posts giving exercise advice that isn't sound or prudent. This blog addresses muscle adaptation, FIIT principle, HIIT, Interval training, anaerobic threshold training, and what type of exercise tempo is best on a treadmill. Names have been changed to protect good deed doers. I also recently communicated online to an athlete who uses their treadmill at an incline to raise exercise intensity 4 mos. post back surgery. Now back pain has returned. With all the available workout information on line these days, this blog post is meant to raise awareness of the need to work with an exercise professional (surgeons may exercise, but they aren't exercise specialists), and to point out that because everyone is doing it, doesn't mean it's best for any individual body. :)

Here's my reply…Yes. If we do the same workouts the same way, eventually our bodies adapt and then these workouts become more "maintenance" programs. I don't believe that "shocking" a body is positive. For dog folk: I could "shock" my young dog into being fitter by taking him on a 10 mile hike today instead of his usual 3miles. Would that be positive for him physically?

Attempting to shock a body may cause an increase in overall inflammation, impede recovery by overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, and in some people, physical pain and injury. More and more cutting edge studies are showing it's of no benefit to spike inflammatory markers in athletes. Rather, better recovery and stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system is needed.

Muscle mass increases in 3 ways: progressive resistance/muscle tension (Wolff's law), muscle damage, and stress (muscle pump). Then add other factors such as rest, age, hormones and how the body synthesizes protein at rest. We simply get stronger by forcing muscles to adapt to a new stress that is different than the previous threshold/stress. However, the longer an athlete has been exercising and/or lifting and the fitter they are (adapted), changes over several years may become more minimal.

The F.I.I.T. principle. Keeping how we increase muscle in mind, we may also change our body by changing one of the following workout components: frequency, intensity, time, and/or type. Again, dog folk: just like while training a dog a new behavior it's best to add one new variable at a time, we want to think of exercise variables the same way. In other words, I wouldn't raise my treadmill to an incline and go backward in the same session if I'd never done either. For example: Susie usually walks outside 7 days a week. She starts walking inside on a treadmill 2 of the 7 days. Walking on an indoor treadmill already changes TYPE (and effects her tempo by shortening her strides). Adding more time or speed would be 2 more variables. When and how to add these variables depends on a myriad of factors including the athlete's goal. Are they looking to lose weight? Gain general cardiovascular endurance? Enhance anaerobic threshold? Work on hamstring strength? Knee joint rehab? Depending on the athlete's current fitness and goals, we determine the appropriate treadmill plan moving forward.

This brings us to interval training. By definition this is higher intensity bouts of exercises mixed with lower intensity bouts or rest. The interval times and programming would also depend on the athlete's goal. Intensity could be used to help increase anaerobic/lactate threshold, gain more muscular definition, create greater EPOC (post exercise oxygen consumption), increase or decrease certain metabolic/endocrine stimulation, increase foot speed or help an athlete get over a "hump" of plateauting.

Lastly: One good reason for walking backward on a treadmill is that it's much more forgiving to knees. Just like side shuffling on a treadmill, it's best to start slow holding on. Walking or jogging backward UPHILL simply puts the knee in "terminal extension" which is more forgiving for some knee problems, strengthens the VMO muscle and causes a big burn in the quads. Walking or jogging forward uphill helps to strengthen hamstrings. Some athlete's may have knee pain in either direction. If possible, it's best to sprint, jog or walk uphill WITHOUT holding on. How the multi-directional work is combined would depend once again on the athlete's goal.

To conclude: be sure your treadmill plan makes sense and is in line with your personal fitness goals. Be able to answer the question "why"! Thanks for the clarification and Happy Training!




Wanna be a Better Runner? Try Hill Sprints!

Why Hill Sprints?


Safety:  It’s a lot harder to incur an overuse injury like a pulled muscle with hill sprints. Hill sprints are one of the few explosive exercises that allow for maximum effort without maximum velocity; no matter how hard you work, you’ll never reach top speed. This is one of the reasons sprints are done on a hill; these workouts are something you can do whenever the mood strikes you unless you live in a flat area like me.  Then the treadmill is a good go to.  Hill sprints also allow for more evenly distributed training stress. In a flat sprint, the average recreational runner uses mostly hamstrings to move; in a hill sprint, however, the incline increases recruitment of the rest of your posterior chain. Maximum speed work on flat surfaces is often associated with hamstring strains. Your hamstrings will definitely get a lot of work, but so will your glutes, low back, and calves. The load on the body is a little more even.  Not only does this help prevent injury, it also allows for easier recovery. Plus, the strengthening work your posterior chain performs will result in increased power. Sprinting on a hill allows you to increase speed, despite the fact that you’re training at sub-max speeds.

Exposing Weaknesses: If your aerobic or anaerobic recovery is lacking, you’ll find out after a few hill sprints. If you’ve got a general quad dominance, or poor muscular endurance, hill sprints will let you know.

Better Striding and Acceleration: The nature of uphill sprinting requires you to flex your knees and lean forward while you’re running, which is more in line with proper acceleration mechanics. Hill sprints allow you to push your body and generate high leg turnover (cadence) without actually running that fast. Lifting of the toes and ankle dorsiflexion is also required prior to landing.  This is associated with power generation and increase in stride length. Quite simply: hill sprints make your muscles more effective at performing sprints on flat surfaces, while also improving your sprint technique.


Hill sprints WILL make you a better sprinter even after just a few weeks. It doesn't take anything more than a hill that takes 10 seconds to run up, or a treadmill incline of as low as 5-7.  Have fun with these workouts through

A little about me for those looking....

Kimber's first foray in the fitness world  was during high school and while working as a Veterinary technician, Olympic and powerlifting, coached by former Olympians in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. After  becoming  a Paramedic  she relocated to Gainesville, Florida to pursue a medical degree at the University of Florida.  There she competed in bodybuilding while working at the first U.S. gym equipped with Nautilus machines.  As her passion for strength  and conditioning grew she relocated to South Florida in order to gain further knowledge  working side by side with well known athletic trainers, track coaches, bodybuilders and founding fathers of Functional Fitness training.  She also obtained numerous certifications and training including Fitness, Pilates, aquatic rehab, body weight resistance and more. With her medical background and sports knowledge she was quickly able to help people of all ages from youth to seniors with customized programs for everything from post rehab to sports conditioning and just everyday health and well-being.  In 2005 she was even selected as one of the top 100 trainers (out of 10,000) by Juan Carlos Santana and Phi Kaplan in their apprentice hunt. 
For the past 17 years   Kimber has also competed in dog agility with three border collies; making it to the podium at national events, as well as had many regional team wins and successes.  She regularly contributes functional fitness articles to "Clean Run" magazine,  coaches and trains agility competitors: beginners to elite levels.
Locally Kimber coaches private clients, teaches group fitness classes focusing on core strength, stretching, Pilates, high intensity interval training, weight training, running and indoor cycling.  She works at several local country clubs and trains employees of a well known national vitamin company.

The Power of "YES".


Scientists and Psychologists have done studies (via MRI) and found when a person sees the word “no” flashed on a screen for less than 1-second neurotransmitter substances and stress producing hormones are quickly released in the brain.  These chemicals disrupt normal brain functioning; impair logic, reasoning, language processing and communication.  Seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse.  The more you think about the words, the more you can damage key structures that regulate memory, feelings, and emotions. You’ll disrupt your sleep, appetite and the ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction. Then if you vocalize “no” or even frown a bit while doing so MORE stress chemicals are released not only in your brain but the listeners. The listener then experiences increased anxiety and irritability, which results in undermining cooperation and trust. What a spiral!  How we overcome our neurological bias for negativity is to repetitiously and consciously generate as many positive thoughts as we can.  Some psychiatrists believe we must generate three to five positive thoughts for every negative or we likely will fail! Positive words and thoughts propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and help us build resilience to handle life’s problems.  Even if the positive thoughts are irrational they will still enhance well being and happiness.  

Now put this information into the scope of workout self talk.  What do you say to yourself about exercise?  While exercising? “I can’t”, “I’m weak today”, “No time”, “I’m so tired”.  Do you say them with a growl on your mug? My advice: when you hear yourself saying negative words like this say to yourself or out loud exactly the opposite: “I’m excited”, “I can”, “Now”, “Win”, “Strong”, “Energetic”.  Even if you don’t believe yourself the words will stop negative thoughts, change facial expression, perhaps make you smile and surely motivate change.

Psychologist’s advice: choose your words wisely and speak them slowly. This will allow you to interrupt the brain’s propensity to be negative, and as research has shown, the mere repetition of positive words like love, peace, and compassion will turn on specific genes that lower physical and emotional stress. You’ll feel better about your life, health and exercise, build more trusting relationships at home and work and live longer.  That is the power of “Yes”.


Kimberly Chase, CFT. AFT.