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The Beginning of The Strong She

When There is So Much Yet So Little.

“Never remain Isometric”

— Dr. Lee E. Brown

As women in a STEM field, specifically exercise physiology and strength & conditioning, it became very apparent that there was a lack of representation in our field from women. This lack of representation isn’t new, and the nature of the field will likely result in the continuation of the trend. It is also clear that there was a need for an outlet for science-based knowledge from educated, professional women. There are plenty of blogs, websites, youtube channels, and podcasts hosted by very knowledgeable men in our field, but just as in research, the women’s perspective on these hot topics and issues wasn’t duly represented. As two Assistant Professors who teach and conduct research in the areas of human performance, we felt that it was time to be a source of clearly conveyed content that was applicable to an inclusive audience.

Here at the Strong She PhD, we will be hosting a monthly podcast focusing on a range of topics related to Health, Fitness, and Work-Life Balance. We will have guests who represent innovators in their field of expertise ranging from occupational and physical therapy, nutrition, to applied performance coaching. We will also feature bi-monthly infographics covering newly published peer-reviewed research topics related to fitness & nutrition programming. Finally, we will eventually be offering programming templates specific to: strength & conditioning, aerobic performance, speed & agility training, pregnancy & post-partum exercise.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to receive updates on new content and Podcasts (Starting in August)

So You Want To Run?

(…Or simply Walk or Jog? )

You’ve decided you want to start a running routine, or even just a walking or jogging routine. The intensity of your run will be greatly dictated by your starting fitness level and your goal intensity is going to be dependent upon your end goals. For many, simply meeting the minimum recommended time and intensity for aerobic exercise is enough to see health-related benefits. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least 5 days of 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise for a total of 150 minutes or 3 days or more per week of vigorous intensity exercise for a total of 75 minutes per week. Intensity can be measured different ways, but the easiest for most individuals is by monitoring heart rate. The ACSM suggests that moderate and vigorous intensity exercise be prescribed using a method called Heart Rate Reserve (HRR). The Heart rate reserve was originally proposed by Dr. David Swain out of Old Dominion University. It has been suggested that HRR can serve as a surrogate for measures of oxygen consumption (VO2) (Swain, 1997, 1998), but more recent research has demonstrated that the relationship between the two variables may be weak when used with healthy, college-aged athletes (Solheim 2014). Although caution may be necessary when applying this model to athletic populations, recreational individuals can use HRR with success to plan and track an aerobic workout program designed to match the ACSM fitness standards. Thus, using an HRR of 50 – 60% for moderate and 70-80% HRR for vigorous intensity is appropriate for prescribing exercise in novice or recreational populations.

 In order to being using HRR, there are a few variables that must first be calculated. Don’t worry, these are fairly easy to obtain. First, a resting heart rate value is required. The best way to get this is to measure your heart rate upon first waking in the morning. It should be done prior to significant movement and only after a night of sufficient rest. Sufficient rest may differ across individual depending on sleep norms. To obtain a resting heart rate value, use the carotid pulse or the radial pulse (thumb side of your inner wrist). Be sure to only use two fingers when taking the pulse and only put enough pressure to feel the pulse of the artery. Too much pressure will result in an inaccurate reading. Once you find your pulse, count beats for 10 seconds and multiple by 6. It is not uncommon for trained aerobic athletes to have a resting heart rate in the 40s, but most recreationally trained individuals range in the low 60s. If your resting heart rate is higher than 75 you may need to consult a physician before starting a running program (or check your sleep / caffeine intake / stress levels). The next variable you need is maximum heart rate. There are two ways to get this value, via calculation or after a graded exercise test. The calculation is obviously easier, but there may be more error associated with your calculated value. Calculations will be explored below, but first, if you are healthy and have access to a treadmill and a heart rate monitor you may want to try the graded exercise test method. It is recommended that you have a partner with you for this.

 Graded Exercise Test (GXT):

On a motorized treadmill, perform a self-selected warm up and check the readings on your heart rate monitor- keep in mind PPE monitors may not be as accurate as a chest strap monitor. Begin the test walking at 3mph for 2 min. Increase the speed by 1mph every 2 min until you reach 9mph. Begin to raise the treadmill incline by 1% every 2 min until exhaustion. Have your partner help you change the speed/include and monitor your heart rate. If you’ve completed the test with maximal effort your heart rate in the last stage should reflect your max.


There are different equations depending on your age and most are for individuals college-aged or older. Keep in mind, that even if you select a calculation validated from your age-group, there may still be some error in the prediction. Still, its better than not having a prediction!

If you’re in your 20s: 220 – age = predicted max

30 – 50 years old or teenage boy? Use: 207 – .70*age = predicted max

Woman over 35: 206 – .88*age = predicted max

Older adults (65+ years): 211 – 0.64*age

Now you have all the data. Once you have your resting heart rate and predicted max heart rate use the HRR equation: (HRmax – Hrrest) to determine your HRR. Then, determine what intensity you want to work at. For this example, let’s say 60% HRR to meet the basic ACSM recommendations and your resting HR was 60 beats per min, and your HRmax was 200. Plug your desired intensity (60%) and your HRR into the equation below to determine your goal exercise heart rate.

%HRR = (HRexercise – Hrrest) / (HRR)

0.60*140 = (HRexercise – 60)/(200-60) and solve for HRexercise.

note: 0.60*140 represented 60% of your HRR

See, math is important for your daily lives!

Once you’ve determined your HR exercise, you can get your HR monitor of choice and begin your aerobic workout. The most popular fitness monitors use HR measured at the radial pulse. However, it has been documented that these measures may be most accurate in novice athletes at low intensities (below 65%VO2max). So, once again, the best heart rate monitor to use would be the old fashioned polar chest strap. The goal during your run should be to maintain HR as close to your desired %HRR as possible. Maintaining HR may mean that you will have to slow your pace at some point, especially when you are just starting a new program. That’s okay, as long as you maintain that goal HRR you will be set up to reap the benefits associated with that intensity of exercise and meet your ACSM goals. Another important thing to keep in mind is that warm ups should not count towards your goal intensity and it may take your body up to 5 minutes to adjust to your exercise pace. Give yourself 5 minutes before you start changing your pace in response to your heart rate.

Looking for more running and aerobic exercise tips? Stayed throughout the month of September for more!


Riebe, D., Ehrman, J. K., Liguori, G., & Magal, M. (2018) ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. 10th ed. Wolters Kluwer.

Solheim, T. J., Keller, B. G., Fountaine, C. J. (2014) VO2 reserve vs. heart rate reserve during moderate intensity treadmill exercise. International Journal of Exercise Science. 7(4) : 311-317.

Swain, D. P., Leutholtz, B. C., King, M. E., & Branch, J. D. (1998) Relationship between % heart rate reserve and % VO2 reserve in treadmill exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 30(2) : 318 – 321.

Who We Are @ The Strong She PhD

Let us introduce ourselves. The Strong She PhD was founded in 2019 by Dr. Kristen C. Snyman (formerly Cochrane) and Dr. Vanessa Moreno (formerly Cazas).

Dr. Snyman earned her PhD from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a focus in Exercise Physiology and her Masters in Kinesiology with a focus in Exercise Physiology and Strength and Conditioning from California State University, Fullerton. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology and Doctoral Program Lead at Concordia University, Chicago. She has formerly taught at Fresno State University. Dr. Snyman is a certified strength and conditioning coach *with distinction through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and an editor for their flagship journal, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. She has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and consistently presents new, original research at regional and national conferences. Dr. Snyman has a variety of research interests, but the mediators of the perception of effort during exercise and mechanisms underlying neuromuscular fatigue and adaptations to resistance training are her primary specialities. When she isn’t teaching and conducting research, she can be found chasing after her toddler, relaxing with her husband, or running around with her two Aussies.

Dr. Moreno earned her PhD from Concordia University, Chicago in Leadership, Health and Human Performance and has her Masters in Kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton with a focus in Strength & Conditioning. Dr. Moreno is also an NSCA certified strength and conditioning coach *with distinction and holds a USA Weightlifting coach level 1 certification. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Tennessee State University and the NSCA State Director for Tennessee. Dr. Moreno is an active practitioner and teacher who focuses on applied strength & conditioning research and athletic performance programming. When she isn’t teaching or in the weight room, she is working with her husband and his business “Strength Republic” in the Nashville region of Tennessee, showing her toddler how to deadlift, and working on her gymnastic skills.

Both Dr. Snyman and Moreno have experience as coaches & trainers, researchers, educators, and moms. They came together to provide a platform for scientifically based content that can apply to the everyday person and to provide an example of strong women in stem.

The Strong She PhD was founded by two strong women, but the goal of the platform is to be an inclusive showcase for all the strong, powerful, and empowered professionals in our field and to reduce the misconceptions and unsupported practices related to: fitness, health, nutrition, and injury rehab. We will be hosting a variety of professionals and practitioners from all corners of our field through this blog and podcast.