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.

10 Ways to Keep Working Out in Colder Weather

Are you the type of exerciser who loves to workout in summer, when the sun is shining, the weather nice, and the list goes on?  How do you keep working out when the weather turns colder? Here’s 10 ideas of activities to keep you on track this winter.

  1. Re-evaluate your goal. Is it still what you are working toward?
  2. Put your workouts in your calendar
  3. Create a visual representation of your goal. Write it down, cut out pictures and make a goal sheet, anything that will help you “see” your goal.
  4. Find a workout buddy
  5. Consider joining an exercise class
  6. Is your workout in need of more introspection? Try a yoga class
  7. Opposite to 6 – do you need to pump it up more? Try adding intensity to your workouts.
  8. Do you need to change the time of your workout? This time of year evening and morning workouts may be too dark for you. Consider a lunch workout instead.
  9. Try circuit training – get your cardio and strength in at one time allowing you to workout for a shorter period of time.
  10. Start an exercise journal to help you see how successful you are when you workout regularly.

Honor Our Troops With A BootCamp Workout

For those who’ve been in the military you know that not only are soldiers brave but they are tough! Part of their job is physically pushing their bodies to the limit. Here’s some ideas on how you can mimic boot camp in your workouts. Many military fitness moves are based on body weight. So try push-ups, pull ups, and squats for full body work with your body weight. All these exercises have many variations and can be overloaded with external weight (dumbbells, bars, rubber tubing) if needed.

Add intensity to your moves. We call this work plyometrics. Plyometrics are moves designed to increase power and speed. Take your basic squat and add a jump. As you reach the bottom of the movement you spring back up and off the floor, landing only to begin again. Adding power can be done to most movements. All it takes is adding explosive movements to your routine. Sprints, jumps, hops, etc will all add intensity to your workout.

Think about compound movements – soldiers have to do a lot of moving. They overload with external weight which doesn’t come off (think packs, belts, boots) when they have to run, jump, climb, squat, etc. Moving isn’t all straightforward work. Many of our regular activities require us to twist, bend, and move laterally (side to side) as well as up, down, reaching and more. Try adding some compound movements into your workout. Compound movements are those that may combine two or three different movements – a squat with a kick and rotation, a lunge with balance work included, or pushups with a squat jump (daisy pickers) included.

Here’s a link to a boot camp workout from about.com
Here’s a link to freeworkoutsguide.com
Disclaimer – I didn’t check out all these listings but they have quite a variety to choose from.

Changing Seasons – Changing Workouts

Most find it easier to get into routines when fall comes.  Fall is a transitional time.  This is a perfect time to re-evaluate your goals and renew your commitment to yourself.  If your schedule becomes busier during the fall and winter how will you continue to reach your daily, weekly, and monthly fitness goals? How have you been doing? Here are some ideas to get you motivated to workout during our darker days.

With good planning you can make it through this transitional period with no bumps and no missed workouts. Think about your options. As the weather turns colder many find it hard to continue outdoor workouts. Where will you go? Who will you go with? What do you like to do? For some its actually changing a workout format. Maybe you don’t like walking on treadmill, but are not getting out of your warm bed to walk in the snow. What will you do to keep moving?

There are so many options it can seem overwhelming. First, what lifestyle changes do you need to make? Do you need more time, different hours, or more variety? These questions are important to ask yourself before you have the chance to talk yourself out of exercise because it is too dark, too cold, and too boring. Will you need to make different parking or transportation accommodations? What about safety issues? Clothing, especially shoes? How about motivation and mood considerations? Many find they are not as motivated, even depressed during darker days.

Our last step is to decide our workout types and places. As a rule if you want to lose weight concentrate on cardiovascular work. If you are looking for more tone strength comes first. You will need a combination of both to make this change happen. Will you be working out at home or is there a Fitness Center near by, outside or inside, there are many options. Research the best for you in your community.

Now is the time to begin your fitness planning for winter. Fall is a great time to take advantage of routines and plan your healthy activities each day. You’ve made the most important decision to get regular exercise and now you’ve done the toughest part…deciding what you really want and where your dedication will take place. If you move everyday you will get there!

What is Functional Training

Ready to take your workout to a new level?  You’ve been building workouts you can do anywhere, now add an unstable surface and you’ve got functional training!  What is functional training? Well, functional training mimics activities you do in your daily life.  If the reason you avoid working out is because you think its rather boring to sit on a machine, lift weight ten times, rest as you stare off into space, lift again, and repeat on the next machine, I have news for you.  Functional training is fun, practical, applicable to your daily activities, develops your core strength so you have a stronger base to deliver power from, and a strong core helps keep you more injury free.

Think about what movement you would like to become better at. Is it playing with your children or grandchildren? What about a specific sport or skill in sport? Golf season is right around the corner. How about the ability to lift items out of your refrigerator without fear or moving from your couch to the bathroom? All of these items can be made better using functional training techniques.

We know that to get better at something we need to practice. Your mother was right when she made you sit at the piano for hours. You have to practice in order to create better neuromuscular efficiency. Basically put, the more you practice the better your brain gets at sending the signal to the muscle, “this is how I want you to move”. The more that pathway is repeated the more efficient you will be at the movement.

If you are trying get better at or to avoid injury during a movement or sport you must practice that particular movement. So I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t walk around doing crunch type movements all day, so why do a million during a workout? If I wanted to effectively train my abs I would look to more core aligned movements, which produce more power through strength development of the entire core. This would allow me to do the things I need to everyday. I have small children, I need to rotate, lift, move quickly in odd directions, and lift 30lbs of squirmy people at any given time. I do not need all my ab strength to allow me to crunch forward.

Try adding some functional training to your workout this week see what happens. First, pick a movement you would like to become better at. Start practicing that movement with no weight, then maybe with light weight, and finally on one foot. Next, begin creating an unstable surface with your basic strength training routine. Try lifting the heel of one foot while performing your lifts to create the unstable surface. If this is comfortable try to lift the whole foot off the ground for a one-legged more unstable surface. In yoga we concentrate heavily on foundation, or what is in contact with the floor during our movements. The same rule applies here, the smaller the foundation, the harder the core will work to stabilize you, therefore the more strong the core will become at adapting to slight movements of the body when put under stress (strength training), and the more you need to concentrate on alignment and proper form, keeping your mind more engaged. It is important, as always, to discuss your workouts with your health care provider and to make sure you are working within your own boundaries. Do not attempt to perform an exercise with bad form. You are better to do something small with good form rather than big with bad form.

Begin functional training and watch your abilities soar. You’ll become better adapted at moving in the patterns you do all day long. Maybe even make the greatest ESPN shot of the game ever recorded … No guarantees, though. Happy Training!

References:

Muscle That Matters – Paul Scott

The Functional Training Craze – Jesse Cannone

BodyBuilding.com