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Thread: Cardiac Rehab with Kettlebells

  1. #1
    240NMC is offline Junior Member
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    Default Cardiac Rehab with Kettlebells

    This is not what I wanted my first post to be about I am searching for some information related to KBs and cardiac rehab exercises.

    I am a mid 50s male and has been using KBs in my WODs for 8 years now and following the principles and fundamentals here at DD and the books and have had a good local trainer. This has been part of my functional training regimen for some time with intervals, bag work, weights etc. It's been a life changer and part of my life fitness. Food and dietary habits are excellent with organics, clean foods, low sugar etc...

    Two weeks ago I had a pretty serious MI where the right side of my heart sustained the biggest damage. Doc said it was a sneak attack and I had no warning signs, just an awareness of what was happening and good health and fitness to get me through the critical moments until the plumbers took over.

    My Ejection Fraction is now around 35% where a normal heart is 55% or greater. I am working with the cardiac rehab folks getting telemetry and baselines on my present state of fitness. There is some reason to believe I may get some capacity increase back but nothing is sure at this point. They know nothing of functional training and KBs when it comes to the rehab program. Partly because they can't leave the box and they just don't know how to apply some of the movements in my case.

    I'm looking for leads on how I may work KB work back into my routine as I get my conditioning back on track and retool myself for the long haul.

    Questions that are rattling around in my brain are:

    Swings at a lighter weight would probably be good as the load is reduced at chest height.
    Overhead work like CP may not be in the cards due to my reduced pumping capacity.
    I was doing a number of ascending and descending ladders with 20, 24, 28, 32, and 36s. Now I picture myself doing more work at lesser weights such as swings with a 16 for 1 or 2 min with resting periods. My elevated pulse rate seems to be the limiter right now.

    There doesn't seem to be a lot of information out there for the heart attack victim that is in good physical shape and very active and how we can work to regain and sustain the best possible cardiac health.

    Any feedback you folks have would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Paul Britt, RKC is offline Senior Member
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    If you are good with it, I will have a more detailed answer this evening. I did not want you to feel ignored.

  3. #3
    AndrewR is offline Senior Member
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    I am not a doctor but have had numerous clients in this situation. Anything involving holding your breath is out. That means even moderately heavy swings.

    My best advice would be to buy Kenneth jay's Cardio Code book and learn about what is actually going on in your heart during exercise and take a look at a large number of studies he read on various forms of exercise and how they effect the heart. Then go buy a rowing machine and make it your new BFF.
    Paul Britt, RKC likes this.

  4. #4
    Paul Britt, RKC is offline Senior Member
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    Number 1, this is not treatment or diagnosis. These are just some thoughts.
    Listen to what your Doctor tells you to do before anything else.
    Breath Holding is out. It will increase blood pressure.
    I have worked with several people with cardiac issues and they have all been able to return to some type of activity, maybe not at the level that they wished, but it is about long term versus short term ego building...

    You have an injury, it has to heal and the rehab you are doing is designed to allow it to do so the best that it can. If it was me, I would not rush into anything. Let it heal as much as possible.

    I would look at walking, mobility work and bodyweight to start.
    Working with your rehab, show them what a proper swing would look like via video, Andrea DuCane has some awesome DVD's out there. They need to be able to speak the same movement language as you. See if they are good with you doing sets of 10 with the light weights. 10 reps is a good number as you maintain good form and can challenge yourself safely. I like sets of 10 with as short a rest as possible.

    As Andrew says, do the research and learn how the heart works under load. I would also pick up Strong Medicine to dial in the other pieces of the puzzle to improve rehab, recovery and end results.

    Quick summary:
    Work with your medical team
    Do the research and be an informed patient
    Don't hold your breath
    Set realistic goals
    Let your the damage heal

  5. #5
    240NMC is offline Junior Member
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    Paul and Andrew,

    Thank you for the feedback and suggestions. You are confirming what I was thinking regarding the Kbs. I have ordered the cardio book and look forward to reading it.

    Interesting point on the rower because in the rehab, I'm using one as one of my three exercises. 10min Bike, 10 min Treadmill, 10 min rower. The rower is where I feel it the most and have to watch the max heart rate. I used to warm up on a Concept 2 for 5 min at a 2 min/500m pace and then do 5 min of JR. I was working hard to maintain at 2.5 min pace over 10 minutes and stay with in the max HR of 150. I am taking it easy working with the rehab folks. The real time data is huge for resetting your mind and giving you feedback on what your real capabilities are in the current state. The mind says you're strong, the legs/arms/core are ready to go, the pump is the limiter. My mind is getting retrained...


    I did a lot of BW ring work/KB cycles and will down the road work more of the ring work into my "new" routines.

    Doc. says boxing bag work is in the cards but down the road.

    Thanks for the reminder on not holding my breath... I'm writing on my work out backpack so I see it every time!

    I hope to send some new folks to Dragondoor, as I loaned my copy of "Enter The Kettlebell" to the nurses at the CIC Unit where I spent two days after the Cath Lab visit. They were interested in KBs and the ones that were somewhat fit, couldn't do the face the wall squat...

    Again, thanks for the feedback!

  6. #6
    Paul Britt, RKC is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 240NMC View Post
    Paul and Andrew,

    Thank you for the feedback and suggestions. You are confirming what I was thinking regarding the Kbs. I have ordered the cardio book and look forward to reading it.

    Interesting point on the rower because in the rehab, I'm using one as one of my three exercises. 10min Bike, 10 min Treadmill, 10 min rower. The rower is where I feel it the most and have to watch the max heart rate. I used to warm up on a Concept 2 for 5 min at a 2 min/500m pace and then do 5 min of JR. I was working hard to maintain at 2.5 min pace over 10 minutes and stay with in the max HR of 150. I am taking it easy working with the rehab folks. The real time data is huge for resetting your mind and giving you feedback on what your real capabilities are in the current state. The mind says you're strong, the legs/arms/core are ready to go, the pump is the limiter. My mind is getting retrained...


    I did a lot of BW ring work/KB cycles and will down the road work more of the ring work into my "new" routines.

    Doc. says boxing bag work is in the cards but down the road.

    Thanks for the reminder on not holding my breath... I'm writing on my work out backpack so I see it every time!

    I hope to send some new folks to Dragondoor, as I loaned my copy of "Enter The Kettlebell" to the nurses at the CIC Unit where I spent two days after the Cath Lab visit. They were interested in KBs and the ones that were somewhat fit, couldn't do the face the wall squat...

    Again, thanks for the feedback!
    You are welcome. I hope it helps.

  7. #7
    240NMC is offline Junior Member
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    Bringing back this old thread because I wanted to update all.

    I am more than a year and half since dealing with the heart attack and all is good. The surgeon wanted to implant me with defib device and keep me on high does statins that I was already feeling the affects of in my muscles. I went through are cardia rehab program that was very helpful by letting me learn how to control HR and work through biking, rowing, and TM while I was recovering.

    My progress was moving along and I was the first patient they ever let bring in a KB (16K) and boxing gloves to workout will being monitored. I stayed in my HR range and learned what was happening if I started going too fast etc..

    A year and a half later, I'm back doing my WODs and training without any negative effects and still us KB as my core training. I do a lot more cardio based on rowing and biking and work at staying in the fat burning zones and during the cardio sessions I can keep my aver HR at 125 across 10 minute sessions. Recently I did a 10,000, 12,000, and 15,000 meter single session rows across a 10 ten window. the 15K run was with a 2:30/500m pace held throughout the hour and 15 minute session with an average HR of 125bpm.

    I do a lot of KB ladders and getups mixed with rings and boxing along with other weight training and always wear a monitor to keep track of HR. I keep the peak HR below 150 using the KBs. Snatches raise the HR the most and getups keep it the lowest. The HR monitor (Polar H7) has been useful not as a crutch but has helped teach me what HR equates to how my body is reacting to a training session. I can pretty much guess my HR within 5bpm before looking at the monitor. This has been a confidence builder as I move forward.

    My Ejection Fraction at my 90 day electrocardiogram was 35% although I didn't believe it and was being pushed by the hospital group to have the implant surgery etc... I thanked them for saving my life but choose not to have them help me live the rest of it. Found an independent cardiologist that has been huge in working with me and agrees there was no reason for additional surgical procedures. He used to work for the same practice and left them. (big medicine pushing procedures etc...)

    My attack was triggered by larger LPPA particles when one broke free and caused a clot in the right main descending artery (100% blocked). Today no statin and Niacin has brought the LLPA level within the normal range in 4 months. I asked my first cardiologist about the LPPA and showed him the blood work and he would not even discuss it. That's when I switched docs.

    I'm 56 in the best shape I've been and have continued to train 4 days a week. I have been able to assist a couple people with similar cardiac scares though not a serious as mine. I've even gone back to cardiac rehab to show others what you can do with an EJ of 35% and that it's not over. I don't give medical advice.

    RKC and SF have been huge along with Carolina Sports Clinic in helping me move forward. I now have a couple of folks at the gym that are learning to use KBs in their training. The gym trainers think KBs are used for 10 two handed swings only. They freak at the sight of a one handed side swing.

    Thanks for the feedback and hopefully my situation can help others who face or know someone with a similar situation.
    Chris Hansen likes this.

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