Category Archives: workouts

“The Truth About Exercise” Documentary

Last night on PBS, there was a documentary on exercising and what the optimum amount of physical activity provides the optimum results.  This is always a tricky theory to answer, because every body is built differently.  Our genes play a factor in how our body responds to physical activity and how we process foods.  Though genes can play a role in how we look, I do believe with hard work and dedication, we can reverse what we may be negatively predisposed with.

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I often get questions around how much to exercise, and for me, I think the ideal scenario would be 5 times a week 45 mins to an hour each session. For the majority, that may be considered way too much, and if you think that’s not enough, maybe you should revisit the reason why you work out. If you’re not training for a competition, there really should be no reason to work out more than that. If you believe so, maybe revisit the reason why you work out.

In this documentary, Michael Mosley defies the traditional theory that spending countless hours at the gym is the primary way to lose weight.  Instead, he suggests that doing short, yet intense amounts of hard work is just as beneficial, if not more, than spending hours with steady state cardio. Yes, some people are less responsive to high-intensity training (HIIT), but in general, there are internal (less visible) benefits of this type of training as Michael demonstrates. He even goes as far as suggests that 3 minutes of high-intensity training PER WEEK is sufficient to reap rewards. That might be a bit extreme for me, but it does imply that it’s not quantity but quality that counts!

If you know me at all, you know I’m no fan of steady state anything. In fact, I often refuse to run because I find it more detrimental than beneficial. However, I don’t discourage people from steady state cardio if that’s what they truly enjoy. Ultimately, the goal is to move and be active, so whatever activity that brings you joy and promotes health, you should continue regardless of what this study says.   Here’s the documentary if you’re interested.

http://video.pbs.org/video/2364989581

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Cleans and Jerks

This was me doing a power clean and jerk yesterday.  I was pushing 75 lbs in the video, but my max weight ended up being 95lbs.  I’m pretty stoked about it!

 

Partner Up!

I’ve always been a fan of working out with people.  I just find that I work harder and stay motivated throughout my workouts.  It’s not necessarily important to find a partner that’s the same fitness level as you, but in my opinion, it’s totally important to find one that matches your attitude and work ethic.  You want someone who pushes you as hard as you push them.  You want someone who can push you to your threshold every time and share that same experience with them.  There’s something rewarding about achieving your goals and sharing that experience with someone.  Not only are you sharing knowledge on different workouts, but you’re helping to keep each other in check.

I have been fortunate to attract and become great friends with some really AMAZING workout partners.  They inspire me everyday to push hard and to come up with different workouts and routines.  They’re the reason why I look forward to going to the gym or the track (like this past weekend) and just kill it.  Pretty much all my PRs were set while working out with someone.  In part because I felt comfortable pushing harder with a spotter, and in HUGE part, because they coached me and gave me the confidence to reach my PR.

I heart my workout partners!!!!

I didn’t forget you, Sarah (@sarahmerls), Kristine (@K_R_Johnston), and Leanne (@lcompton11)!!!  I need our pics together!

And if you still aren’t convinced, check out these studies/articles:

The Benefits of a Fitness Partner

Why Your Friends are the Secret to Weight Loss Success

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Make it Count!

As you probably already know, I’m a huge fan of HIIT.  It’s how I train on most days, and it’s what keeps my motivation high and my workouts interesting.  My friend Sarah (@saramerls) got me hip to this app – bit timer.  It is THA BOMB!!!  I used it this morning for my workout, and it’s not only user-friendly (cause we sure don’t need to think any extra while we’re workin hard – say whaaatt???!), but you can use it while you’re playing music on your iPhone/iPod!!! Double whhaaat?!?!

Check out their site and DL it ASAP!

Here’s my workout from today using the bit timer, but don’t forget to warm-up first!!!

Before I start this workout, I’ll foam roll, do a dynamic warm-up, and jump rope for 1 minute with 30 sec breaks, 4X.

(done for 30 secs of effort / 10 secs break)

Set #1:

Jump rope

Med ball perpendicular throws

Repeat 4x

BREAK 1 min

Set #2:

Kettlebell swing-thrus

Med ball overhead throws

Repeat 4x

BREAK 1 min

Set #3:

Step-ups (right side 3 sets)

Single-arm Kettlebell Snatch (right side 3 sets)

Repeat 3x

Step-ups (left side 3 sets)

Single-arm Kettlebell Snatch (left side 3 sets)

Repeat 3x

BREAK 1 min

Set #4:

Kettlebell Burpees

Repeat 4x

BREAK 1 min

Set #5:

Overhead Ball Slam Jumps

Lateral Burpees (stole this from my friend Sarah Neely @neelyse)

Repeat 4x

BREAK 1 min

Final conditioning:

Jump rope (1 mins ON / 30 secs OFF) – 5 sets

WARM-UP TIME: ~10-15 minutes

HIIT DRILLS: ~35 minutes

FINAL CONDITIONING: ~8 minutes

TOTAL WORKOUT TIME: ~55-60 minutes

Here’s a video of the workout I did today.  Sorry, the quality is piss poor, but hey, I’m a starving trainer!  🙂   You get the point though.

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Loosen those hips!

I am a HUGE advocate of stretching and muscle recovery, so when I came across this article from Core Performance, it totally resonates especially to all you cyclists and spinning peeps out there!  Read up and incorporate these in your daily routines.

Feeling tight after a ride? You’re not alone. Even though you’re pumping your legs and working hard, you’re in a seated position, which is why many seasoned cyclists look like office workers who spend too much time slumped over at a desk. This riding position causes the muscles on the front of your hips to become tight. Here are a few tips to loosen up:

1. Before you ride, stretch your hip flexors—the muscles on the front of your hips—with the half-kneeling hip flexor stretch. Place your right foot flat on the ground in front of you with your left knee on a pad or mat behind you. Rest your left hand on your right knee. Lean forward slightly, tighten your stomach, and contract the glute of your back leg. Maintaining this position, shift your entire body slightly forward and hold for two seconds. Relax and return to the starting position. Complete a set on one side before repeating with the opposite leg.

See demo video for kneeling hip flexor stretch

2. On the bike, spread the stress of riding throughout your body and maintain good posture by keeping a smooth curve in your spine instead of an excessive arch or hunch.

3. When you’re riding, stand up to peddle for about 30 seconds every 10 to 20 minutes or when you hit steeper terrain. This will help release tension on your hip muscles.

4. Add Romanian deadlifts to your gym workout. You’ll train your glutes and hamstrings while teaching your body to pivot through your hips. To do it, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent, holding a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing toward you. Bend forward at the waist, lowering the dumbbells toward your shins. Contract your glutes and hamstrings to return to a standing position and repeat for the full set. Notice that the bottom position is similar to an aggressive road cycling position.

See demo video for Romanian Deadlift

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Building Your Energy Systems

One of my favorite resources when it comes to the science of training and nutrition is Core Performance.  They do a really good job of explaining the science behind why we do what we do as athletes, training professionals, and regular gym-goers.

For a while, I’ve been on this rant about high-intensity training versus steady-state cardio.  You will NEVER find me running outdoors (unless it’s for my dog, of course), or just steady-state anything on any equipment.  The most effective training is interval training.  We obviously want to make the most out of everything we do (well, at least I do), so why not capitalize on the time while you’re training and work on building your lactate threshold… lactate whhaaat?!?!

Below, Core Performance lists the different energy systems that are important for us to build:

1.Lactate threshold – This is your capacity to do high-intensity work for up to 3 minutes. The ESD unit of your training program is a form of interval training in which you will alternate between periods of intense exercise with less strenuous periods.

2.Lactate power – This is your body’s ability to do high-level work for periods of up to 12 seconds.

3.Aerobic system – The ability to work beyond 3 minutes and help you recover from your bouts with the lactate threshold. For instance, if you’re sprinting up hills and walking down, you’re using the lactate system on the way up and the aerobic system on the way down. In this case, the aerobic system enhances your recovery from these intense bursts of energy.

These are dependent on the types of activities you do and to what capacity they can elevate your heart rate, because it all boils down to science, right guys?!  Calorie burned > Calorie intake  — and the most effective way to increase your calorie burn is increasing your heart rate!  DUH!

So here are some activities (excerpt from Core Performance site) that correspond with the different energy systems mentioned above:

Level 1

Level 1 focuses on steady-state aerobic work. Aerobic simply means that your body will use oxygen to provide a steady and consistent, low level of energy for a long time, without building up any waste products in the body that hinder performance.  A good rule of thumb for level 1 is that you should be able to carry on a conversation when you are in the aerobic zone. Some of the best activities for level 1 are:

■ Outdoors: Brisk walking, walking up hills, biking, swimming, rowing

■ Indoors: Biking, treadmill climbing/walking, elliptical trainer, Airdyne

Level 2

Level 2 will introduce interval training by mixing moderate intensity (heart rate zone # 1) with bouts of Level 1 easy-intensity aerobic work to allow you to catch your breath and recover from the slightly more intense intervals.  You’ll know you’ve reached Level 2 moderate intensity if you would find it difficult to carry on a conversation. You could, but you wouldn’t be able to say much more than a couple of words at a time. Some of the best activities for Level 2 are:

■ Outdoors: Running-to-jogging/walking, jogging-to-walking

■ Indoors: Bike, elliptical trainer. treadmill, stair climbers, Airdyne

Level 3

In Level 3 you will work harder, performing intervals that include time spent in heart rate zone # 2. The times and rest intervals both decrease. Don’t be intimidated by more intense work; you’ll be ready for it. In fact, you will be looking for a greater challenge. Some of the best activities for Level 3 are:

■ Outdoors: Running-to-jogging/walking, jogging-to-walking

■ Indoors: Bike, elliptical trainer. treadmill, stair climbers, Airdyne

Level 4

Level 4 is the shortest of the intervals, increasing your heart rate to the highest zone (zone # 3). It requires mobility, stability and strength. At this level you will ride, run, or climb as hard as possible for between 10 and 30 seconds. In order to get the most out of Level 4, you’ll need to pack as much power and energy into these segments as possible.

Some of the best activities for Level 4 are:

■ Sprinting (flat or uphill)

■ Shuttle runs (5 yards and back, 10 yards and back, 15 yards and back)

■ Bicycle intervals (or take my spin class, hahaha)

The rest of this article can be found here.

So cardio it up, my friends, but cardio wisely!!!

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Snowboardin’ Prep Workout

Some of you who know me know I LOVE snowboardin’ though this season has been pretty shitty given the lack of snow.  Living in New England, there isn’t much to look forward to when the winter comes around, except for snowboarding so it gets me through the terrible, frigid season.  However, I have to say, Mother Nature, WTF?!?! this year??? 

Every year, around the winter time, I get into lots and lots of lower-body conditioning to prep for snowboarding season, and one of my fave exercises are lunges and squats.  Here is a variation of the hack squat machine that I do at least once a week, and every time, my butt is sore for days!  Give it a try…

My technique for doing these is of course, ALWAYS do a dynamic warm-up first.  Here’s my weight/rep sets with 1-2 mins break in between (using 25 lbs plates):

#1: 50 lbs/15 reps

#2: 100 lbs/ 12 reps

#3: 150 lbs/10 reps

#4: 200 lbs/6-8 reps

#5: 250 lbs/4-6 reps

#6: 100 lbs/max rep

If you really wanna kick it up a notch, do 1 min. jump ropes in between each set. 

Now to really get you goin’, peep this promo video of the USC Ski & Snowboard Team … makes me want to go back to college!  (Skip to about 3:00 to really see the action)

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Wallin’!!! Stretches for Lower Body

in Jim Jones’ voice, we WALLIN’!!! ha ha

we stay fly no lie and you know this… hips and thighs, oh my, stay focused…

 

As some of you already know, I’m a huge advocate of stretching and movement prep.  With all the intense training we do , it’s VERY important to take time to stretch.  Here are some of my faves specifically for lower body, so you cyclists, spinners, runners out there… hear me out and give these stretches a shot.  All you need is a wall.

 

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Kriss Kross Will Make Ya… JUMP JUMP

I am OBSESSED with jump roping.  It’s actually a whole lot harder than it looks, and when we’re talking about cardio, jump roping will crush the treadmill anyday!  The key to jump roping is having the length of the rope to match your height.  I think people sometimes use a generic jump rope that’s always too long for them, and ends up requiring more effort than necessary…

Here’s a website that offers tips on measuring out your rope (just click)

So peep this video of a Nike Commercial… there’s a clip in there of Jamie Len, the Jumprope Queen.  She kills its!!!

 

And here’s another one of just her doing some crazy tricks… one day, I’ll get this down.

 

And another jump rope commercial by Nike…

 

Inspired yet???

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Work + Rest = Success

A lot of people will skip a workout for some of the lamest reasons.  Peep this commercial:

But for us “rare breeds”, it’s almost like fighting against nature to skip a workout.  We work through any pain and every injury.  We never complain, and haul ass everytime we hit the gym.  We work out so hard that other people stare at us like we’re freaks.  Yea, you know what I’m talkin’ bout! 

So to rest and regenerate is a foreign concept to us.  We almost have to work extra hard to incorporate that into our weekly workout regimen.  We know it’s important, and sometimes, we just need a reminder.  Peep this article by core performance on the importance of regeneration. 

Importance of Regeneration

Recovery is the limiting factor to performance. Consider the demands of everyday life, plus intense training. The cumulative stress to your muscle tissue and nervous system require a recovery plan integrated into your overall daily and yearly game plan. This should include sleep cycle strategies, pre- and post-workout nutrition, as well as dedicated recovery days, weeks and cycles. Otherwise, your risk for overtraining or burnout shoots up.

Two Types of Recovery

There’s a big difference between rest—doing nothing at all—and “active rest.” A combination of both “active” and “passive” recovery will maximize your results from training, while reducing your injury potential.

Active Recovery

In “active rest,” you take a break from serious training but still do things that benefit your body, such as playing golf, tennis, or basketball, or doing some lightly flexibility work. You’re not training per se, but you’re still getting the benefit of physical activity. Not only that, you’re having fun.

Passive Recovery

Passive recovery includes things like getting a massage and sitting in a hot tub or cold plunge. Both elements of recovery are not only important, but necessary and equally important as working out. If you don’t give your body time to recover, it’s never going to improve.

Time Commitment

The regeneration portion in Core Performance training programs is a series of exercises, but regeneration is also a lifestyle philosophy, a recognition that you need to plan ways to recover—mentally and physically—and in all areas of your life. Regeneration days are low stress, often 2 or 3 times a week, to help you recover from the rigors of your other training days. You can do your regeneration work at home, much of it while watching television, if you want.

Mind/Body Benefits

Physical Payoffs

People tend to measure how effectively they’ve worked out by how sore they are the following days. But what good is a workout that leaves you so sore that you can’t work out for the next 4 days? Some people talk about how they train “all out” or “give 110 percent” every time they swipe their card at the gym.

But let’s face it: First, they’re lying; no one can work out like that without breaking down. They might do 110 percent of what the guy on the next bench is capable of doing, but they can’t push themselves to their own limits without their bodies breaking down. Second, if they really try to exert that kind of effort every time they work out, they aren’t training efficiently. Your body actually improves and adapts to stress on regeneration days, when you’re recovering from the high-intensity days.

The better and more rapidly you recover, the more quickly your body adapts, and the sooner you can do another high-intensity activity. That means better gains and faster improvements. Regeneration, in other words, could be the difference between reaching and not reaching your goals.

Here’s why: If you just sit at your desk all day your body’s systems are stagnant, like a pool of water. But if you’re doing light exercise on those regeneration days, you’re increasing circulation. That pumping blood drives nutrients into your muscles, accelerating the recovery process. You can do all this without high-impact activities. All you need to do is move enough to increase circulation, and purposely enough to activate the nervous system and elongate muscles. There’s no need to stress muscles and joints; all they need is for you to flip the “on” switch.

Mental Payoffs

Regeneration also is vital from a mental standpoint. If I have you train hard 6 days a week and challenge your endurance and confidence every day, you’re going to burn out. Even pro athletes would drop out. But if you can relax a bit, you’ll not only look forward to those easy days but also be inspired to work harder on your more difficult training days.

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