Fitness Is (Almost) All in the Wrists, Says Leonard Schwartz, and Doubters Are—Well—Dumbbells

updated 11/22/1982 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/22/1982 01:00AM

Don't let those muscles fool you. Dr. Leonard Schwartz, 57, is a psychiatrist, not a gym teacher. Once he was a heavy smoker and had high blood pressure and chronic back pain. But today he looks like a 5'7", 135-pound mini-Schwarzenegger and can do 35 one-handed push-ups in succession. His simple secret, described in his new book, Heavyhands: an exercise program built around one-pound to 10-pound hand weights.

Heavyhands (Little, Brown, $14.95) owes much to Dr. Kenneth Cooper's 1968 classic Aerobics, which showed the cardiovascular benefits of sustained vigorous exercise like jogging. Schwartz, who feels that standard aerobics neglects many major muscles, designed his program to condition them all simultaneously. One favorite drill, called double ski-poling, essentially involves mimicking the stride-and-push movement of cross-country skiing using weights instead of ski poles. Three or four 30-minute sessions of such exercises a week, Schwartz says, will replace hours of regular aerobics. The workouts can burn off eight to 25 calories a minute—twice as much as a hard game of racquetball. In five weeks, claims Schwartz, one can improve circulation enough to lower his pulse rate by some 25 beats per minute.

Schwartz, head of the psychiatry division at Pittsburgh's Montefiore Hospital, is his own best endorsement of the line of dumbbells and the exercise record he's promoting. "I can do more hard exercise in a half hour than 90 percent of most fit 20-year-olds," he crows. "I don't know what fatigue is."

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