Fitness: High Intensity Interval Training

I am really into high intensity interval training lately. Why? It gets you maximun results in a minimum amount of time.  If you are wondering, “just what is all this HIIT business anyway?”, this infographic from greatlist.com will explain it for you.  Then check out some of my tabata workouts and my mountain hike intervals for some HIIT workouts you can try.

 

Home Gym: Organize Your Workouts

I do most of my workouts in my own home gym.  It’s cheaper, it’s convenient and sometimes it’s kind of cluttered.  Here’s a good way to organize your Tabata workouts so you can always find the one you want, when you want it.

Post-it notes aren’t just for the office. My hubby works with personal trainers from One-on-One Fitness.  He gets Tabata work-out ideas from them.  I like to search for mine on You Tube. (Check out my facebook page for a new Tabata video each Tuesday.) We write each Tabata workout on a post-it note. Then we post it on the wall in our home-gym basement. When it’s Tabata day, we choose one that is posted on the wall, put it on the coffee table so we can refer to it as we work out. When we’re done, we post it back to the wall. It’s ready to go the next time we need it. It’s easy to do, it’s convenient, and my personal favorite, it only costs the price of a pack of Post-it Notes!

 

 

Fitness Challenge Idea: Striders

What motivates people to exercise? I’d like to share an idea I am trying with my middle school students that you could use at work or with your family and friends.  All you will need are ideas to modify what we are doing to fit your individual situations.

Husky Striders is an intramural program I started at our middle school.  Here’s how it works. Kids stay after school and we go to the football field nearby. It is surrounded by a cinder track. Students walk or run (their choice) around the track.  Each time they pass me, they are handed a playing card.  At the end of the alotted time, students report how many cards they have and hand them in.  I record the number of laps they walked or ran; four laps equal a mile.  For every mile they walk or run, they will receive a “Husky Strider” purple rubber wrist band. (These bands are very popular with the middle school set!). Laps are cumulative so I add them up for the entire time I run the program.

My hope is this simple incentive will keep the kids coming back to Striders and keep them racking up the miles.  The first day we stayed after school, I had sixty students show up.  I was expecting 30 at the most. Many completed 12 laps that day. Kids are already asking me when those bracelets will be here!

How could you use this idea to motivate walking/running with your group of fitness minded people? How could you modify it to use with a group connected via internet? What kind of incentives will motivate your group? Start thinking and let me know what you come up with….

Exercise and Fitness: Foam Roller Moves You’ll Love

You’ve heard that I love my foam roller, right? Here’s some foam roller exercises that will make you feel great. A big thanks to Greatist.com for sharing their infographic.  Give these a try.  You won’t be sorry!

Foam Rolling Infographic

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com.

Exercise and Fitness: Mountain Hike Workout 3

I am really loving these mountain hike intervals and now I have my hubby hooked on them too. Last week, we did one on the battlefield in Gettysburg.  We were staying close to Culp’s Hill in a B&B called the Farnsworth House. We walked out the door, across the street and in a few minutes we were on the battlefield. The hilly terrain made it a great workout.  When we were done, we took in a little history of the three day Gettysburg battle.

The Gettysburg battlefield at the end of our hike.

This morning we hiked on Stone Creek Road.  It was all uphill during the 30 minute interval. I was breathing as hard as I used to when I ran in the mornings.  It was a much more beautiful walk than the 2 miles around my neighborhood.  We had a crisp, cool early fall morning. I can’t wait to try in again when the leaves start to turn colors.

Here’s some of the exercises we used during the 30 second “work” phases:

Burpees with a vertical jump, skips, basketball lunges, push-ups, defensive slides, speed squats, inchworm,  and walking lunges.

Hopefully I’ll be able to upload a video soon with the exercise we use during the work phases so you can make up your own mountain hike interval!

Color Me Rad 5K in Pittsburgh

This past Saturday, my sister and I decided to have one last hurrah before the summer ended.  We signed up to walk in the Color Me Rad 5K in Pittsburgh.  For all you 5k lovers, here’s a rundown of what it was like.

This 5k is not really for serious runners. A quote from the promoters info. packet said “we don’t even own a clock”. It is for anyone who wants to come out and have a healthy, fitness oriented party  without the alcohol.  We arrived at 7:30 a.m. The music was already pumping and the promoters were whipping the crowd into a frenzy.  At the start line, there was more music while color packets and t-shirts were being shot from a gun.

We started in waves every 10 minutes (at least 100 people to a wave) and this went on most of the day. There had to have been at least 10,000 people at this event. We were a sea of white when we started, but at each of the color stations, volunteers dubbed the “color bomb squad” blasted you with colored cornstarch powder or a water/powder mixture.  On this warm day, the water stations were welcome relief. The course was very hilly (another drawback for serious runners, no PRs here). It  was crowded so sometimes you had to stop and wait your turn to go through a color station. This didn’t bother me at all since all the Pittsburgh hills were giving us a good workout. I even saw a former student in the race.  I don’t know how in the world she recognized me with a rainbow of colors all over me, but anyway here’s a shout-out to Amy Mack!

At the conclusion of the race, you got your own color packets to bomb people who were still finishing the course.  Our “after” pictures are quite colorful. If you ever do a CMR run, make sure to bring old sheets or towels to cover your car seats.  You will not be a happy camper if you don’t! They remind you to bring some in your pre-race packets.

It was touch and go getting out of the parking lot. There were not nearly as many folks directing traffic on the way out as there were on the way in.  This is a problem the promoters say they will work on for next year’s run. Back at the hotel it was scrub-a-dub-dub to get all the powder off before heading home to Central PA. On Sunday we soaked our tie dyed clothes in vinegar and ironed them to set the colors.

This was a fun way to end our summer for sure.  In the fall Pittsburgh is hosting a Zombie run.  Hmmm… Have you participated in any out-of-the-ordinary 5ks/runs? Fill me in!

Fitness: Over 40? You Should Be Weight Training

Male or female, if you are over 40, you should be weight training.  Working with heavier weights to build muscle is preferable to light weights and many reps.  Here’s ten reasons why you should pick up the weights and start building some muscle.

  1. Resistance training with heavy weights builds muscle mass.
  2. Muscle mass increases your metabolic rate.  That means you will burn calories at a higher rate, not just while you are exercising, but all day long.  Even while you are sleeping you will burn more calories. (definitely cool)
  3. Weight training makes your bones stronger and wards off osteoporosis. Increased strength can keep you from having a painful fall that could break brittle bones.
  4. Strength training reduces your risk of injury.
  5. Resistance training increases your stamina.
  6. The aches and pains associated with aging will be reduced.
  7. Strength training can save you money in the long run. Staying strong keeps chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis and chronic back pain at bay. This will keep the need for medical attention and costly medications to a minimun.
  8. Resistance training makes you look younger.  Strong muscles make arms, legs and abdomen look sleeker, slimmer and younger. Five pounds of muscle take up a lot less space than five pounds of fat.

(sorry guys, the last two are for the ladies only, but you got eight so that’s pretty good)

  1. Weightlifting will not make women look bulky or “like a man”. Women have way less testosterone than men.  What ladies will see when they weight train is a toned, tight, lean looking body.
  2. Strength training for women can help minimize the symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause (hot flashes, irratability, anxiety and depression).

Weather you are over 40 or not, male or female, weight training is a great addition to your workout routine.

 

Exercise and Fitness: Mountain Hike Workout 2

Last week I took my fitness routine on the road and hiked a mountain road.  This week I went back to explore the “Pigpile Trail” I found while on that hike.  I had a better handle on my HIIT interval trainer app.  It was programmed to perfection this time.  After a short warm-up and stretch I started on the trail.  I had no idea what it would be like.  It turned out to be mostly uphill for my workout phase.

This was my gym today!

I did three minute walk intervals followed by 30 second work intervals.  When the trail was uphill, I chose exercises such as reverse lunges, side lunges and squats that kept me on the ground. That also applied when I was on uneven or rocky parts of the trail.  When it was flat and smooth, I chose jump rope, ski jumps, jumping jacks and such.  This kept my heart rate elevated for the 35 minutes of my interval workout. I also had to keep an eye out for snakes, bears and other varmints that might cross my path!

When I finished, I turned around and hiked back out.  This was cool down, so I slowed down and enjoyed the view and the absolute quiet of the woods.  Although I was moving, this was pure relaxation for me!  I did take some time to stop and take some pictures of the interesting things I found on the trail.  Like this mushroom..

…and this mystery feather.  Anyone know what kind of bird this is from?

On the way home I stopped to enjoy this beautiful view.

Have you combined nature and your exercise routine?  Tell me about it! I welcome all new ideas to keep me (and others) motivated to work out.

Exercise and Fitness: How To Make a Gym at Home

If you’re sick of paying that monthly gym membership and then passing by everyday with a new excuse not to stop and exercise, maybe it’s time to make your own home gym. I used to be a “Y” member and also joined Curves for a few years.  I liked both of them, but when I changed jobs and Curves relocated it was a giant pain in the butt to get there.  One place I was always sure to go was home.  Why not work out there?  Here are some tips for you to make a home gym work for you.

  • If you are not self motivated, you will want some accountability by enlisting the help of a workout buddy, or by joining a fitness group.
  • Start small and build up. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on equipment you will end up using to hang your laundry from! Invest in more expensive fitness gear once you have developed a routine you are sticking with consistently.
  • Clear a space for your home gym that is not in a high traffic area.
  • You don’t need huge machines in your home to get in shape.  Effective cardio and strength training workouts can be put together with little or no equipment.  Your own body weight is one of the most effective methods of resistance training.
My home gym in my basement

The equipment I have:

Dumbbells: I have 1,3,5,10,15 and 20 lb weights.  I didn’t buy all these at once. I started out with 1,3, and 5 lbs. As I gained strength I bought more. Typically the lighter weights are sold at a set price.  The heavier weights are priced per pound.  Some of these were gifts I asked for at birthday and Christmas time.

Select-tech dumbbells: After I knew I was committed to a strength training program, I invested in these dumbbells by Bowflex. You can dial in the  wieght you want to lift from 5 lbs. to over 50 lbs.  The really nice thing is they go up in 2.5 lb. increments.  I’m not always ready to jump up 5 lbs.. These are more expensive, so I asked for them for Christmas.  I know a friend that saved up her Angel bucks through the  Amazon.com program and got them for $6.00.  Huge savings.

Resistance Bands:  These are portable resistance that weigh next to nothing (think suitcase) and take up very little space. If you are just getting started with resistance training and don’t want to spend a lot, my $ is on this product.  You do have to modify how you do an exercise with bands, so it would be good to look up some demo videos on Youtube.

Fitness Ball:  Great for core training and balance.  I picked up one at Kmart for about $25.00.  They take up a lot of space, but you can deflate it when not in use.

Foam Roller: I love it for flexibility training and working the kinks out of sore muscles and facia. There’s something about it that just makes me feel right with the world when I am done. Stress relief for about $24.00!

Fitness Block: It increases the intensity of certain stretches.  You can also use it for extra stability if you are struggling with yoga poses and other balance exercises. Picked this up at Target for less than $20.00

Yoga Mat:  Great for travel and very non-skid. I bought it for about $25.00

Fitness programs I use:

I have several cardio and stregth training DVD’s.  The ones I use the most are ChaLean Extreme (weigthlifting) and Zumba.  All you need is a TV and a remote and you have your own trainer helping you through the routines.  Both these programs include several workouts and cover cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility training.

You can also find a lot of workouts for $0.00 by searching Youtube, Pinterest and fitness blogs (like mine). I love finding new tabatas workouts I can use.  If you know the basic components of fitness and know what you like, feel free to make up your own workouts as well.  Happy fitness!  Have you set up your own home gym?  Tell your story here 🙂

 

Fitness Challenge Ideas: Flat Stanley Gets a Makeover

Here’s something we have been doing in my private facebook fitness group (Fantastically Fit Friends) for the summer. Many of us (including me) have been traveling a lot. It wasn’t practical to run a challenge where I would have to keep track of members’ points. One summer idea I came up with was a “where in the world are the Fantastically Fit Friends?” I made a logo and added it to the documents on the facebook group. Members could print it out, take it along when they were doing something active, pose for a picture and post it in our group. It was a way for us to share the fitness activities we were doing while we were all going in different directions.

The problem with the logo I made was it didn’t show up very well in the pictures. A group of about 8 FFF’s participated in the Warrior Dash in the Poconos. Cyndi’s sons, Alex and Ian took an idea they grew up with in school (Flat Stanley) and modified it for the Warrior Dash. Alex and Ian made Flat Warrior. He went along and participated in the Warrior Dash. He had his picture taken with all the participants. FFF members took turns carrying Flat Warrior during the race. The word was he sustained a few injuries and lost some limbs, but he still looked pretty good in the pictures.

Flat Warrior was so cool that I made Fantastically Fit Franklin to take along to the beach. Franklin had his picture taken at the spin class we took, at the Southport 5k run and in our makeshift gym under the beach house. It was easy to make Franklin. Here’s what I did:


I googled Flat Stanley and printed out a picture of him. I cut him out and traced him onto card stock. I modified his hair a little bit. Then I drew a workout outfit on him instead of a shirt and tie. I also gave him a set of dumbbells. I outlined him with a sharpie marker and colored him in with crayola markers.


If you think Flat Franklin will motivate your group to work out, or just make your workouts more fun, feel free to steal our ideas. Leave a message and let me know how it goes.


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