Fitness Face-Off: thy will be dunk, part 3

Fitness Face-Off logoPreviously, I have referred to the treadmill at Bluestreak as "The Bitch." I would hereby like to apologize to the treadmill and correct myself: It's far too perfectly sadistic to be a mere Bitch. A more appropriate name would be Psychopath, because it works you over like a soul-free serial killer. This thing flat-out breaks you.

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For those following my quest, you'll know from the last post that I took an ill-advised (from a dunk-training perspective) two-week vacation. I returned to action at Bluestreak last week and resumed a twice-weekly schedule: Mondays and Thursdays, 8 to 10pm. Upon my return, I was once again thrown onto the treadmill (in addition to strength and skills sessions), and the Psychopath punished me.

Ten seconds. That's about as long as a single interval on the treadmill ever gets, but at the inclines to which it is raised and speeds it reaches, that's enough. Right now, I'm being run at 12mph and inclines around 25 degrees. Since these go up as you progress, the Psychopath never gets easier. You get faster and stronger, but you're always working harder so the level of pain is the same.

But you do notice a difference. Even after only three treadmill sessions, I can tell I'm running with more power. I especially noticed this in one session where after a series of inclines the trainer suddenly dropped the treadmill down to level. "Be careful," he warned just before I stepped on. "You'll feel like you're running downhill." Sure enough, as soon as you get on, you feel like you need to hold on to the bar in front just to keep from spilling over it. It's a strange and strangely empowering feeling: Flat-ground sprinting feels like running downhill.

Some takeaway for readers looking to either emulate my quest or attempt some equally hubristic athletic achievement:

  • Incline interval training works: If you can't afford either the time or money of Bluestreak ($1,200 for the 20-session program—which works out to a very reasonable $30/hour of personal training), get a stopwatch and a friend (this part is very important) and run intervals on your gym's treadmill set at an incline. The friend is there to spot you because you'll want to fail—i.e., be unable to stay on the treadmill without a hand at your back. That's where you make your gains.

  • Core strength training works: If your gym has medicine balls or those big inflatable exercise balls, use them. All those little balancing motions you have to do to stay on them is a muscle workout you never get.

  • Pliometrics work: But more on that in the next post.

And just for fun, a little more inspiration for all the foolhardy hoop dreamers among us: the master at work.