Getting over the Plateau

How’s everyone doing on your goals? Hopefully, you are still progressing. Sometimes (approx 6wks) things get a little boring and may feel a bit stagnant. If you’re in that camp it may be time to change it up. You can do this in a variety of ways. What we want is to become inefficient again. Our bodies are smart and adapt to overload (i.e. exercise) fairly quick. So challenge yourself to do something different this week. Here’s a list of ideas to challenge you.

You can …

1)      Increase your intensity – make the movements bigger, faster, stronger by adding power (speed and strength together).

2)      Decrease your intensity – you might need a recovery week. To do this spend the majority of your workouts in the bottom range of your THRZ – don’t do this if you have been working at the lower intensity thus far – see #1 instead.

3)      Add new movement patterns – try a more complicated step or trail. You can also begin to add in more arm movements – this keeps your body more confused, not to mention your brain, and you’ll work harder because you have to think more. You can also re-arrange the way you do your movements so the muscles have to recruit in a different order.

4)      Add intervals or tabbata to your workout – intervals are something like 30sec on, 45 sec recovery (you can play with the times). The “on” set is all out. Tabata is 8 rounds of 20sec on 10 sec off (total of 4mins). Both are very effective at increasing metabolic rate and training the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Tabata a bit more so – if you try them both you’ll see why.

5)      Take a new class or learn a new exercise. You can check out strength training options at SuperiorWorkout.com on my video blog or YouTube. I go over a variety of options for major muscle groups. Or YouTube, ask a friend, look up Synergy Fitness, Inc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXD69lc1OTY (this is one YouTube Video) or Alien Training http://www.alientraining.com/  – I like this dude (I get no profit from my recommendation. He’s got good stuff). Go to http://tabatatraining.org/ Great workouts, free, and more explanation on the method.

Fitness on Your Vacation

How do you stay fit on vacation? Strict plans or throw it all out the window? Here’s ideas when far away or nearby spots are calling.

When most of us think of vacation we think about throwing routine out

the window. This is important work. We need to break from routine to begin the process of letting go and rejuvenating. It is also important to have some form of structure in out day, even if minimal. If you are reading this blog I assume you find physical activity to be important in your daily life, even if you don’t know how to make that a regular occurrence. So here’s a guideline to help find exercise balance on your vacation.

First, it’s important to consider your long term goals. Are you currently training to lose weight, gain muscle, compete in an event? If you are scaling back a regular workout using alternative options, such as a shorter run or different terrain may be all that’s needed. If your goals are more around lifestyle and health you may want to consider how sleep, food, and social activities will contribute to your health on vacation.
Second, do a little research. Does your location have a fitness center, classes, a pool, a safe place to run/walk in the area. Many hotels can provide you with a running/walking loop nearby, just ask. Then consider how the options available stack up to your goals. I’ve been in many a hotel fitness center that offered me two cardio options and a lot of cable channels. I have found that having a couple of good fitness apps helps. I like Nike Training Club for easy on the go workouts I don’t have to think about putting together and can use body weight and speed to complete. I also enjoy Nike’s running app to help me track distance, time, and intensity for those places that do not have a pre-outlined route for me to follow.
If you are heading somewhere outside or more primitive consider the lay of the land. Will you be able to paddle, swim, climb, run on sand, hike mountains, work harder just to live outside? These activities all count, however it may feel different to use daily activities as your workouts and you may need to do some pre-trip training to be ready for the physical challenges all day activities may require.
Third, decide on a plan AND it’s ok if you don’t follow it to a T. On a recent trip to the coast of Mexico I created this plan to balance out my all day reading in the sunshine and evenings lounging with friends and family:
Friday – day we left, ran before work since I knew I’d be in the car for a long time.
Sat – off, traveling and relaxing.
Sunday – Beach run – a great way to see the locale and get a feel for the place I was planning to spend most of my time. Ocean swimming and SUP time – leisurely. Building activities into your daily thought process, even if you don’t know when you are going to do them is a great way to stay active on vacation.
Monday – Strength training – in my condo. Using items like door-frames (pull ups/lat work) and a full gallon jug of water (approx 9lbs) I was able to mimic my regular strength set. Adding in balance (1 foot, Russian lunges, bear crawls, and super slow sets) allows for functional training that challenges the core and exhausts muscle without heavier weights/overload. Adding in plyometrics (speed) allows for explosive movement that will also exhausts a muscle under less overload, plus adds a cardio element if you are looking for a quicker way to your goal.
Tues – active rest day – day on the open water fishing excursion. Did some swimming and snorkeling. Not to mention the functional training of standing upright on a rocking boat.
Wed – Yoga – These sessions are gems. I love looking for and finding a local yoga class. It’s always fun to check out a new studio and hope I get enough of the language to figure out what poses come next. Whether I do or not, the end result is still bliss. Plus this balances out my sitting (aka as reading whole novels) and over use of movement patterns like paddling, climbing, hiking if those are a main part of my trip.
Thurs – Strength training – see above. Plus adding in the family activity of playing in the sand, paddling SUPs, and swimming in the surf.
Friday – Beach run – as the vacation comes to a close this allows me to say goodbye and observe from a new set of eyes, not beginner excited ones, but the ones who’ve been looking and are ready to see what’s below the surface. A great skill in life, too.
Sat – off / 1st travel day – if possible on the first leg of the trip, I may attempt to get a short run, yoga session, or paddle in depending on departure time. This allows balance to the sitting of a long drive.
Sun – active rest as I unpack all my memories and practical items like laundry followed by rest night and vacation integration.
Enjoy!

5 Ways to Get Around Workouts and Weather

So you think you’re pretty committed to your fitness routine but whenever the weather doesn’t do it your way you are no where near your exercise plan. Hmmmm, are you letting the weather dictate how your workouts go? If so it’s time to get the right gear and commit to yourself. Here’s 5 ways to get around the weather. 

  1. Get the right gear. Rain, wind, snow, sleet all can derail a good plan in no time. Having the right gear can help you stay focused even if the weather isn’t cooperating.
  2. Find a Buddy as committed as you. It’ll help on those gray sky days.
  3.  Have a back up plan. Do you have a gym you an hit if the weather doesn’t comply.
  4. Schedule a couple of times on those days you have a heads up about storms. If you miss the morning workout hopefully you’ll be able to make and afternoon time.
  5. Double up on another day that week. If you miss a workout try to make it up the next day by increasing the intensity of your regular workout and leaving time to make up the missed one.

Spring Into Fitness

Spring is around the corner. Are you ready to take your workouts to the next level? Burning calories isn’t just about how long you work it’s about how hard you work. Intervals are a great way to increase your workout calorie burn without increasing the amount of time you spend working out. Here’s how to use intervals in your program.

Begin with a warm up. Move through the movement patterns your are going to do during the intervals at a slower pace. Stretch anything that feels tight or like it needs some attention. Then begin at a moderate pace (formula below) for 2min. Take your pace to a vigorous pace for 1 min. Return to a moderate pace for 2. This is your recovery time. Repeat this pattern until your workout is complete.

To make it more difficult shorten your recovery times and increase your vigorous work phases.

To figure out your intensity levels you can use a heart rate formula to find your target heart rate training zones. This is the Karvonen Formula a popular one used by personal trainers. You’ll need to take your resting heart rate (RHR) by finding your pulse (radial artery on your wrist) and counting for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 for a 60 sec reading.

220 – Your Age = Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

MHR – RHR = your Hear Rate Reserve (HRR)

HRR X .40 = training % range

HRR X . 85 = training % range

training % range + RHR = your target training zone

training % range + RHR = your target training zone

40-65% = moderate workouts

65-85% = vigorous exercise.

You can recalculate according to the zone you want to workout in. Use a heart rate monitor for easy reference or divide your target training zones by 6 for a 10 second count.

Getting Started on Your Exercise Goals

I was talking with some friends the other day and one of them stated she “really wants to get started” on her exercise goals but she just didn’t feel ready. We talked about what being ready might look like for her. We all come to beginning a lifestyle change at different points in our lives. It can be helpful to think about a few things before you get started. 

1) What are your goals? Are they realistic? Do you need help deciding if they are realistic? Why do you want to reach these goals?

Many people begin attempting their fitness goals by throwing darts at an old board (and missing the target). They think about a weight, strength, or speed they had in the past and decide that is a good goal. It might be and it might not be. Much has changed since then (work, family, age). Wouldn’t be wise to consider what and how your life has changed before you try to change it back? It might be a goal worth going for with a few tweaks to support your new lifestyle.

2) What don’t you want? What do you not want to do to achieve this goal? What do you want to do to achieve it? What do you want to be different?

There are so many options there is no need to do something you don’t like – say those push ups you had to do in the military or high school gym class as punishment. Many of us have things we consider fun and exciting. Why not add those into your routine so it becomes playful and something you look forward to. If you don’t want a diet choice (say vegetables) you are an adult, you can choose, and you can find ways to get the health support you need and not eat what you don’t like. You also have choices about what you want to stay the same and what you want to be different about your life. It’s all about choices and tradeoffs.

3) What are your life obligations? Where are you going to find the time? What do you have to work around? Do you need to cycle your workouts to make sure you fit them in?

It is important to consider your life. Although, life doesn’t need to keep you from accomplishing your fitness goal it is easier to work with it rather than against it. So use it. If you have children or pets include them. Add activity into your day by parking further and walking more, taking the stairs, and planning active lunches or meetings when possible (walking around the block counts). Look at your schedule and slowly make realistic changes.

Bottom-line is we are all ready at different times and often our sense of what we are currently doing and the thought of trying to fit something else in is overwhelming. It is important to take a close look at what we are currently doing, what we want to do different, and start slowly.

You are a work in progress and just the fact that you are thinking about making a change is a step in the right direction. Keep it up!

10 Ways to Jump Start Your Fitness Routine

Are you close to reaching your fitness goals? If not, now is the time to start again. Try one of these ideas to help jump start your fitness routine again.

  1. Commit to an Event – Money helps you commit  to yourself, too
  2. Ask a Friend To Join You – Buddies Help Make Fitness Better
  3. Play At The Park – Get outside and pretend you are little kid again
  4. Cross train – Trying different things keeps you from being bored
  5. Borrow a Dog or Make a Promise To Your Own – They need exercise and so do their owners!
  6. Bike to Work or Around Town for Errands – Even if you park and bike a little its more than you are doing now, right?
  7. Look for a New Sport To Learn Each Season – Maybe it is swimming in the summer and skiing in the winter, biking, climbing, hiking, running, dance, martial arts – there’s a couple of years of activity in this list
  8. Time your workout to be able to watch the sunrise or set and find inspiration in your chosen hour
  9. Enlist a personal trainer or other professional – An appointment with someone else can keep you focused
  10. FINALLY … HAVE FUN DOING WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE!!!!!

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.

Planning Home Workouts

Have you begun to move your workouts indoors?  I know this has been the theme lately, but it is important you plan for seasons if you are going to be sucmcessful this year.

Many clients are able to workout at home, but are unsure of where to start. They buy some hand weights, maybe a video, and if they are really brave go for the infomercial special, which is often later used as a clothes rack. How can you avoid adding to your dust collection?  In a word – planning.

It is much easier for most to create an effective strength training routine at home. It can be done on a limited budget, and can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Here are the things to consider when purchasing strength training equipment for home. First, what is your goal? Are you trying to build mass or lose weight? Are you trying to maintain? Is this equipment just for emergency use on those days where getting to the gym is not possible, or is this going to be your only source of strength training? These answers will direct your purchases. If you are looking for emergency use equipment, you can get by with little or no equipment depending on your program. This is where a professional can be very handy. A good personal trainer will help you design your program around your environment and make sure you are able to meet your goals. What a great Christmas present idea, one or two sessions can keep you focused. If you have equipment handy you will have no reason to miss a workout, however if you are using your home equipment just for emergency days you’ll want to make sure you have a good plan of action on non-emergency ones because you may not have enough to be effective over a long period of time.

Are you looking to do the majority of strength training at home? This can be a wonderful way to incorporate fitness into your life. It is a great way to role model healthy living for your children, and make fitness a family priority. Although, my children do not get to use my weights, they do workout with me using the same movements and many they create as they hop from step to step, mimic me, and learn about their own bodies. They are excited and interested in movement and habits formed early have a better chance of hanging on. Remember, the biggest factor in childhood obesity is parents. Help your children fight obesity – its never too late to start.

If you decide to strength train at home consider your current level of strength. How much can you easily lift now? Again, your goals are going to be important because they will dictate the progression of exercise, which will dictate how many weights you’ll need and how heavy they should be. What kind of space will you be able to dedicate to your workouts? Do you have room for a bench or ball? Do you have storage for different sized dumbbells? Will you dig equipment out of a closet or from under a bed to actually complete a workout? This is the big question! Will you do the workout? Once you know the answer to these questions you can begin to create space and build your equipment choices for your complete home strength workout.

As you begin to contemplate your goals for health look closely at your choices. There are many options for your fitness. You just have to be willing to move!