Exercise 101

Exercise 101:
Here we are at the end of our first month of 2015. I know a lot of people’s New Years Resolutions are to get fitter, workout more, or eat healthier – which I think is AWESOME! This shows that people are concerned about their health and well being. I also know, that this doesn’t usually follow through once the “new years hubbub” has gone away. I think what is more important is trying to cultivate a life that {I’m going to sound cliche} makes “healthy” a lifestyle. It’s a choice that you make that is personalized to fit your life. It encompasses, feeding the body nutrient dense high quality foods, feeding the mind body and soul, loving yourself, balancing all components of your life, living wholly, and moooooving!

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I know this seems like a lot, but luckily there are many options out there and many things that you can slowly start incorporating into your life to create healthier you. It’s about taking the time to find what works for you and how you want to live your life. And remember, this will change depending on what your body needs. Choosing what to do for exercise or what to eat is like choosing a skin care regimen. There are so many freaking things out there and so many people telling you different things. “Eat this and lose 15 pounds.” “Add this workout and get a butt like J.Lo.” Or taglines like, “Why running is making you fat”

What gives?

Lets get back to the basics. The stuff that we know works. How you implement it is your choice.

2 main things to remember when choosing an exercise:
1.) Find something you love. Don’t work out just for the sake of working out. Make it enjoyable. I can’t tell you how many people feel like they have to run or they go get on the elliptical and stare blankly into space for a hour. Yeah, that sounds awful to me too. Do something that engages your mind and body together. Something you have to think about and focus on. Not only will this keep you engaged, but I promise you, you’re results will be MUCH better.

2.) Listen to your body. Your body is a pretty smart little computer. It knows how to keep our body at 98.6. It knows how to keep our heart beating and lungs breathing. It knows how to sweat to cool us off. And it knows when it can keep pushing, or should stop. The thing that we forget to do is to actually listen to it. The more in tune with your body you become (not just going through the motions) the more you will be able to recognize what it is craving or when it is time to pull back.

A good fitness program is one that is made up of a balance of cardiovascular training, resistance/strength training and flexibility
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The importance of cardiovascular training is to work our heart. This can either be done walking, running, circuit training, swimming, etc. Whatever gets your heart pumping and blood flowing. Regular cardiovascular training is proven to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, combat obesity, increase mood, and many more.

Steady State: These are sessions where your heart rate stays at a relatively moderate zone for an extended period of time, usually lasting between 30-45 minutes. The intensity is low to moderate and is typically characterized by walking, running, biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.
Interval Training: This is when you are training your heart to work hard for a certain amount of time (usually between 20-60 seconds) and then bring your heart rate back down for a recovery period. An example of this would be alternating between running or walking, or “sprinting” on the elliptical for 30 seconds then recovering at a slower pace for 30 seconds.
       High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Is a form of interval training that involves truly maxing out your workload for a prescribed amount of time (usually from 10-30 seconds) followed by a recovery time that is enough to allow for you to work at the same intensity the next time. The rest ratio may be 1:1, or slightly less or slightly more. These sessions typically are lesser in duration (15-20 minutes) because they are meant to be INTENSE. This is a great option for those who are short on time. Plus it is proven that there are huge cardiovascular and strength gains associated with short more intense sessions.
         Tabata: A specific form of HIIT training that I discussed in this blog post. Tabata workouts are a prescribed work to rest ratio of 20/10 seconds repeated for 8 rounds. They are quick and intense – all out for 20 seconds at a time.
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Resistance training is a huge part of creating a healthy body. And typically one that women shy away from. Either they are afraid of getting “bulky” or they just don’t know where to start. First things first, you’re not going to get bulky. Do you know how much it takes for professional body builders and weight lifters to actually gain that muscle mass and definition? A LOT. It’s seriously a full time job. I assure you, resistance training a couple times of week will not do that to you. What it will do is decrease our risks of health conditions like – type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, joint pain, depression, obesity, etc. It will also turn your body into a fat metabolizing machine. The more muscle our bodies are made up of, the more efficiently we are able to burn fat. By building muscle and creating a stronger body we are also less prone to injury, we can increase our self confidence, improve our posture and much more!

There are many different ways to set up a strength training program depending on your goals. They all create muscle growth and strength and the methods will vary for each individual. Without getting into too much of the science-y stuff here is breakdown of a typical rep schemes.

  • Pure strength rep ranges are typically 1-5 (gaining strength)
  • Muscular growth rep ranges are in the 6-12 range (gaining muscle/tone)
  • Muscular endurance is usually classified as 13+ (maintenance and tone)

When introducing a strength program, I find it best to start with the 12 rep range for 2-3 sets. This will help create a good solid base and then from there incorporating all rep ranges will help get you stronger and create good muscle tone. A good rule of thumb is to choose a weight, so that the last 3 reps of the set are challenging. Whether your final rep is 5 or 25. The key is to constantly vary your routines, one is not better than the other.

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A couple basics:
Circuit Training: This is bunch of different exercises performed one after another with little to no rest. These routines often incorporate both strength and cardiovascular exercises and are likely to incorporate total body movements.
Supersets: This is when you do two movements back to back, little rest, then repeat. This is a challenging prescription, for you are not giving that certain group of muscles all that much rest. An example of this would be, push ups for a certain amount of reps, then pull ups, then back to push ups, then back to the pull ups.
HIIT/Tabata: This can also be incorporated into strength training. An example would be as many squats possible in 20 seconds, 10 second break, then repeat.

Flexibility and range of motion are two key factors that almost everyone, including myself, tend to put on the back burner. We are all limited on time and getting a workout in is usually a victory in itself, so spending extra time to just stretch or work on mobility usually gets skipped. What we fail to realize is that this is the most important component off all. Without mobility we cannot move. If nothing else, give yourself 5-10 minutes to just breath & stretch. It increases blood flow and circulation of nutrients, relaxes muscle tension and relieves stress. Just a few minutes and you’ll feel refreshed and more open!

No matter what you’re starting point, there are many ways to start incorporating healthy routines. Exercise is an important component of living completely – not only physically, but mentally.



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