fitness|frank zane



Training to a rhythm is really entraining to the rhythm. By following the beat of music you happen to be listening to during a workout, tapping your foot, clapping your hands, or doing each rep of hanging knee up to the beat, you are adopting natures’ method of conserving energy (getting more out of your effort) by locking on to the strong stimulus (the beat in this case). As each rep is done in perfect sync with the beat, the boredom factor decreases and the sounds of the music crowd out doubts speaking in your head that you can only do 20 reps. Last time I tried this I did 70 reps!

When you go to the beach and lie on the sand near the ocean, you will feel more relaxed in no time due to the rhythmic crashing of the waves on the shoreline. The body’s own resonant systems: pulse, breathing rate, nerve impulse transmission, brain wave frequencies, peristalsis start falling in synch with the beat of the ocean waves and you can slow down and experience deep relaxation.

Entrainment or training to a rhythm or beat makes it easier to work out. Rhythm spells economy of movement, doing just the essential things to keep proper time. Once the pattern of rhythmic timing is established, it will go on automatically, by itself, with no attention on your part. This is true in exercise activities that are high repetition in nature, like abdominal work (30 to 100 reps per set), and aerobics (walking on treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes a day).

My style of doing abdominal work and aerobics is similar. I do not rest between sets, and often work in treadmill as part of my ab training sequence. I do 50 leg raises, 30 hanging knee ups, 100 crunches, and 50 seated twist while my training partner walks on the treadmill at 3.5 miles per hour. When I’m done, he does the ab work while I do the treadmill. It amounts to 230 abdominal reps times 2 for a total of 460 reps on waistline plus 2 treadmill sessions of about one third mile each.

Good rhythm is the key to getting through boring repetitive stationary aerobics. Just listening to the beat of a metronome while walking on the treadmill, landing each foot to the beat, has helped me maintain a constant cadence and consequently helps time go by faster. Sometimes when I’m walking to the metronome set at a constant beat, it seems to slow down and I notice my body is moving faster. So I intentionally walk a little slower to stay on the beat. As the body’s resonant systems speed up, the metronome seems slower by comparison. It’s important to stay in time to the beat. When I did bicycling, I set my bike computer on 90 revolutions per minute, which seemed the best rate of pedaling. I’d shift gears accordingly to stay at this rate and got very fit aerobically from riding this way. Make rhythm work for you.