Most of us don’t consider our intake of oxygen to be an issue. That is, until we do something like a session on a cross-trainer. One of these things:-
It uses your legs, uses your arms and really pushes your aerobic system. In other words, you need a lot of puff.
Recently one of my students asked for a lesson on using a cross-trainer. He wanted to move more lightly and easily. So we looked at what you need to do to make one of these machines go. We considered things like the length of his arms, the angle of his torso, the distance to the hand-grips and the options for making all these things match up.
Then we considered the amount of tension he would need through his head, neck and torso while all this is happening (ie. not much), and worked a bit on stopping the unnecessary stuff he had going on. Then he went away to hop onto his cross-trainer and try it out for real.
Next lesson I casually asked ‘How did you get on?’ (note to new students: when a teacher asks that, it’s never quite as casual as it seems). The answer came back, “My breathing was easier. I had more air.”
If you are doing 8km in 15 mins, then more air is a VERY GOOD THING. Same as it would be if you were running, swimming, hill walking, cycling or rowing. Did we set out to get him more oxygen? No. Did it happen anyway? Yes. You could call it an unexpected bonus. It came along with the things we set out to achieve – moving more lightly and making the machine move more easily.
Oh, and if you’re wondering just what mysterious sort of magic happened to my student’s lungs during the lesson; well, it has a lot to do with not hunching over to reach the upright poles, not curling shoulders round to force the poles to move, and not squeezing, compressing and locking the rib cage. Once your rib cage can move better, you get more air coming in. Not mysterious at all. But still pretty magical. Especially if you’re pushing for 8km in 14 mins. Or was that 12 mins?