Use Intervals to Stay on Track This Season

For many clients I create quick workouts.  I deal with busy people, people who have children, people who work long hours, people who have life outside fitness. These people are able to fit it all in because they understand the value of exercise and the payoff they get is more energy, less stress, better sleep, and they are more productive even with minimal amounts of exercise. Now, I do not mean to lecture so let’s talk about quick workouts.

Many people use interval training to get better at an activity. I use it with clients to build their endurance. Basically, you begin at a lower level, push yourself harder for a short time, and then recover at the lower level, repeat as often as necessary. For example: Begin walking after 2 minutes, then walk faster raising your rate of perceived exertion to 8 or even 9 for 45 seconds to a minute, then return to a pace that will bring your heart rate down and your rate of perceived exertion to a 5 or 6 for 2 minutes. Repeat throughout the workout and you’ve got interval training down.   The last thing you need to consider about cardio work is, how hard should I be working?   The rate of perceived exertion scale is an easy way to measure intensity.  I like a simple one to ten scale.  One is easy, ten is too hard to continue.  Work around a 7.  If you have been sedentary work up to 7 for 10-15 minutes per session. Initially, you may only be able to maintain 7 for a very short time, slowly increase your time at that intensity until you are reaching your goals. This building and recovering from 7 is interval training.

Remember anyone can do intervals as long as you listen to your body, work within your current exercise level, and you should always talk with your health care provider before beginning any exercise, just to be safe. Intervals can be a great way to move yourself beyond a plateau, build endurance, and get the most out of a short workout. When you complete an interval workout you will feel great, excited, and successful. Its not easy but few things worth anything are!

Staying on Track

And so it begins.  Here we are at the crossroads of holiday seasons, the first of December.   You have probably already begun the craziness of the holidays,  and are attempting to tell yourself it will not get hectic this year.  Well, it will.  A good plan will work better than delusional self-talk.

First, remember this time of year is different. Your routine will not be the same. Your focus will not be the same, and you will have to accommodate increased commitments. In the place you record your daily schedule, remember to record time to move. Write down when, where, and what you’ll be doing this holiday season to meet your exercise quota. What are your exercise goals? Are they still realistic given increased demands on your time? Do you need to revamp them for the next four weeks? Are you ready for the New Year? You should be able to answer these questions clearly. If you cannot, review past articles on planning and New Year’s Resolutions to help you identify your goals and direction. Is it time to schedule time with a personal trainer? I know many think this is a luxury, but a session right now to help you realistically plan for busy times is not luxury when you consider the alternative – falling off track and beginning from scratch… again.

Second, keep in mind that a full length workout may not be in your best interest. Especially if the time commitment of a regular workout deters you from beginning at all. You are better off with shorter workouts than none at all. A professional can help here by creating a condensed workout so you don’t neglect any part of your goal. Many workouts can be shortened to reflect busier times without losing their overall umph for a short period of time.

Third, holiday times are stressful for many people. Many deal with too much to do, money issues, concerts, parties, social events, fundrasiers, and more. Others deal with depression surrounding the hype of the holiday season. No matter which end of the continuum you are on, exercise can help. Exercise is proven to help reduce stress, help you sleep better, it gives an emotional boost, and can help you gain perspective this holiday season. It is important to take time for you during the busy giving season. We know when we are well cared for we can give more to others. The only person who will make sure you are well cared for is you, so do not neglect yourself this winter.

You Will Reach Your Fitness Goals

We have come to that time of year again.  The frazzled, stressful, exciting, busy, and wonderful time of the holidays.  Thanksgiving is up first. Many view Thanksgiving as a time of overindulgence and gluttony, which for many of us it is.  Some view it as a leap off track as they try to complete health ideals they know will be seriously compromised throughout the next month.  Some view it as the beginning of the end. What can we do to make sure the holidays do not derail our plans to a healthier life? One word…Plan.We have spent some time talking about planning. Lets review, first you must be honest about your goals.  What are they?  Are they realistic?  Do they match your desire, or are they someone else’s ideas?  Next, are you committed to making these goals a reality?  I mean really committed because here comes the test – the holidays.  What will you do to ensure your commitment?  Then, ask yourself, what are the obstacles that could pop up?  What will you do in response to those obstacles?  How will you stay focused on your goal? Again, are you committed to these goals? Finally, relax, you will reach your goals if you are persistent and committed.

What exactly does that mean, you ask. Well, it means that the journey is more important than the end location.  What you choose everyday is greater than the sum of choices on one day.

Hunting Workout Ideas

Are you a hunter? Do you love spending the day wandering the woods, being observant of your surroundings, listening for anything that might be moving around you? Hunting is a physical activity and you could train for it – making it safer and more enjoyable.

If we think about hunting like we do sports we just begin to break the activity down into its smallest parts. First, lets concentrate on walking. Many hunters walk long distances when they hunt but not in the rest of their life. On top of that they carry extra weight in their gun, packs, and clothing. If you live where I do you’re hauling that extra weight up and down steep rocks, mountains, and trails. All this combines to make your hunting more strenuous than your daily life which could result in you not getting the best results.

Second, consider the length of time you will be moving to hunt. Many people who hunt take whole days or weeks to accomplish their task. It may be one of the most enjoyable times because you are actually spending time slowing down, away from technology (for the most part), and just being. However, just the simple number of hours you’ll be walking, climbing, and moving can be a big change over your daily life. This means you’ll need more endurance than normal life asks you to have.

In both situations you can become a better hunter, find more enjoyment, and keep injury at bay if you do some pre-season training. Begin by trying to get regular exercise in, especially walking for periods of time. In addition, strength training will come in handy when you have to cart around extra pounds, climbing trees, and hauling out your rewards.

Holiday Exercise

I know its a bit early for the holiday exercise lecture, but ya know what? The stores are already gearing, the parties are being planned, and the frenzy is just around the corner. Many people dread the holidays because they feel they always put on weight. However, with a bit of pre-planning you can make it through the holidays without too much trouble.   First, look at your schedule. For many people the holidays either become overwhelmingly busy or they become a time to not go out because everyone else is so overwhelmingly busy. If you are in either camp or somewhere in between it is a good idea to take realistic stock of how your life changes during the holiday season now. This will allow you to begin to modify workouts that need it now.

Next, start adding intensity to your workouts now while you’ve got the time. This will allow you to continue to workout for the whole time but pump up the caloric burn while you do so. This allows you to begin to cycle your workouts so the upcoming weeks which have more going on you’ll be able to workout shorter durations saving you time but not sacrificing all you’ve gained.

Finally, remember the 80/20 rule. 80% is going to go as planned and 20% its not. This goes for workouts, party foods, and obligations. So don’t beat yourself up if you show up at the party and they are serving your favorite meatballs drenched in the best sauce ever – I used to cater and this was one of my favorite downfalls during the holidays! The trick is to honor its something you want, have a bit, and if you still have a bit more remember you want the overall picture of your diet and workouts to reflect the 80/20 rule so you might need to make a few changes in the next few days to get back into balance.

Oh – and don’t forget to prioritize your time. Its very possible you don’t need to attend every party, gathering, concert, or whatever you are invited to.