I am going to be honest and say that for the last two months I got a little complacent with my workouts as well as my diet. I let my busy schedule sometimes be my excuse of not eating enough and getting my proper calorie intake . I was still working out 5-6 days a week but felt like something was missing with my workouts. So I had a reality check and came to the realization I needed to make a change. I decided it was time for me to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself more.
I decided once I got back from my spring break I was going to improve my workouts and eating habits. I wanted to kick my workouts up a notch and work on increasing my strength. As for my diet I wanted to go back to eating clean and making sure I was eating 5-6 meals a day. It has been three weeks since I started my new program and revised diet. I must say it has been demanding but also a refreshing experience. I feel like this change was much needed.
I believe it is very important for us to always reevualate your short and long term fitness goals. Having goals set helps keep us focused on what we are working to achieve. Our short term goals should help us reach our long term goal. As we continue to improve it is necessary for us to continue making new improvements. For example one thing that helps me is to write out my workouts in advance and to record how much weight I do. That way I can monitor my progress on how much stronger I am getting. I also started preparing my food in advance at the beginning of the week. This helps me have my meals ready that way I have no excuse to miss a meal. The last change I made was to log my food that way I can track precisely what I eating.
I will be the first to tell you that it is important to make fitness a lifestyle change and not something you do for a temporary fix. No matter what fitness level you are at you have to continue staying committed to improving or maintaining your health.
Happy Satuday Everyone!! I know everyone is excited about the weekend. Saturday is a perfect day for us all to take a little bit of time out to do some type of physical activity. Normally on Saturday’s I get one last cardio workout in for the week. The weather is getting warmer so why not go outside to walk, run, ride a bike, swim, etc. Of course you could always hit the gym or take a fitness class. But you could also get a workout in right in the comfort of your home. Here is a weekend challenge that offers a total body workout that I like to do when I not able to go to the gym.
Spring is right around the corner so you know what that means!! The weather will be warming up soon and now is the perfect opportunity to get your abs ready for summertime. Whether if it is your goal to have a beach body for vacation, to wear a certain top that shows off your midriff or just simply have a flat stomach.
I thought this month was the perfect time to start an abs challenge. Abs are one of the most problem target area that most people want exercise suggestions on. So the beginning of every week this month I will introduce 4 or 5 new ab exercises that can help you get those abs you been wanting.
*The goal is to do 2-3 ab exercises with a total of 30-50 repetitions daily for beginners. For the more intermediate and advance group to do 4-6 ab exercises with a total of 60-100 repetitions daily. Also if you miss a day you can either pick up where you left off or add them to your current day repetitions. Feel free to get in more abs in if needed. Just make sure to challenge yourself! By the end of the month we want the beginners to have a total of at least 1000 abs, the intermediate group to have at least 2000 and the advance group to have at least 3000 abs attained.*
We will start this week with 5 of my favorite ab exercises. Remember it is important to hit all 4 areas of our abs which are the upper abs, lower abs, side obliques, and our core which covers everything. Each exercises will work one or multiple areas.
Vertical Leg Crunches
- Lie on the floor and extend the legs straight up with knees crossed
- Place your hands behind the head for support, but avoid pulling on the neck
- Contract the abs to lift the shoulder blades off the floor, as though reaching your chest towards your feet
- Keep the legs in a fixed position and imagine bringing your belly button towards your spine at the top of the movement
- Lower and repeat until desired reps.
(If you need to regress this exercise you can keep your feet on the floor and do regular crunches.)
- You can do this with a medicine ball, weight between 3–10kg or you can just use your body weight.
- Sit on the ground with your feet on the floor.
- Rotate the hips to either side, alternating left and right with a fluid, controlled movement without stopping in the middle.
(Beginners should perform this exercise with body weight first and with both feet on the floor. You can make this exercise more challenging by using weight or a medicine ball while having both of your feet of the ground as you crunch.
- Start in push up postion
- While keeping the core tight quickly move your legs as fast as you back in forth as in running in place
- Sit on the floor or a flat bench with your legs out straight
- Place your hands palms down behind you. Lean back slightly and use your abdominal strength to lift your legs.
- Simultaneously bend your legs and bring your knees as close to your chest as possible.
- Slowly straighten out your legs and return to the starting position. Repeat.
- Do not let your feet touch the floor during the exercise, keep the tension on the abdominal muscles.
(You can make this exercise more advance by performing this exercise while having your arms raised out to the side.)
- Start laying down supine on the floor. Then lift your body up with your forearms.
- You want your back straight and hips lifted. Make sure not to lock your knees. Your abs to be pulled toward spine, shoulders down and back, and head in line with spine. Avoid arching back, lifting butt, or dropping hips to one side.
- Hold this position for desired duration.
(For beginners hold 15-30 seconds, intermediate 30-60 seconds, and advanced 60 seconds or more. Every 10 seconds you hold the plank counts as 5 reps. If you need to regress this exercise you can perform the plank on your knees. Just make sure to keep your form. You can make the plank more challenging by performing it with your hands flat instead of on your forearms or do leg lifts while doing your plank.)
Let’s start the first week in March of right with these ab exercises. Challenge yourself and know you can reach your monthly goal!!
It is often hard for people who are new to working out to find the right gym, fitness studio, or fitness outdoor classes such as bootcamp for them. There are several things you should consider before you decide. In the next few weeks were going to discuss several factors that can assist you in making a decision that is best for your fitness needs. Depending on your location will determine your selection of gyms, fitness studios, etc. to choose from in your area. Today we will focus on big corporation gyms for example 24 hour fitness, LA Fitness, Bally’s, or whatever big gym that is in your area.
- These gyms will normally offer you numerous pieces of cardio and resistance equipment to use in a sufficient space.
- More amenities are available such as nice locker rooms, towel service, pools, hot tubs, sauna, steam room, basketball courts, child care, and even some places offer massages.
- Wide variety of group exercise classes are available though out the day and normally seven days a week. Classes such as zumba, spin, hip-hop, yoga, pilates, kickboxing, and several weight lifting classes.
- Personal training is available for individual or partner sessions at extra cost. Even if you don’t buy training it is always helpful to have personal trainers around if you ever have questions regarding your workout, nutrition, need help using a machine, or want to get your body composition taken. Most gyms offer you a free assessment and sometimes one or two workouts for free with a personal trainer.
- They tend to have a pro shop were they sell supplements, workout apparel, workout accessories, pre and post workout drinks, etc. This can be useful to the individuals who has questions about different supplements or maybe just wants their post workout shake right after they finish exercising. It can be convenient and useful for some.
- Hours of operation is usually longer than smaller gyms, studios, etc. Some gyms are even open 24 hours and 7 days a week. These hours offers a more accommodating and flexibility to fit people’s schedule. This is a big plus for people who do not work the typical shifts or who enjoy getting either a late night or early morning workout in while no one is there.
- This last one can be a pro or con for some depending on the person. Big gyms offer more of social aspect. You are able to meet people in the gym setting that could potentially become your workout partner, someone you take classes with, etc. I’ve been meet several of great people in the gym who shared my passion for fitness. It can be a great place to network. The main thing is it needs to be done at an appropriate time for the parties involved. Most people do not want their workouts interrupted.
- Membership pricing is normally the top factor for majority of people when finding a gym. Big gyms average monthly price ranges vary from $30-$60 a month. Depending on the gym and added amenities you might receive, it could possible be more. Another turn off for some people in regards to purchasing a membership is initiating fees and sometimes having to pay two months upfront. That can be a deal breaker for some people. I think the price would have to depend on how often you plan to use the gym. If you plan to go to the gym at least two to three times a week then the price is well worth it. We spend $30-$60 on food, at the beauty shop, barbershop, nail salon, etc. so why not spend money towards your health.
- Big gyms can get very busy at peak times of the day such as in the morning around 6:00 am-8:00 am, early afternoon around 11:00 am-1:00 pm, and in the evenings around 5:00pm -8:00 pm. This can be irritating and a distraction for some people. Normal during these times the cardio equipment fills up the quickest. The machines and bench area in the resistance area can be pretty packed too on any giving weekday especially in the evening. My suggestion would be to try to go at a time where it is less crowded if it is a big issue.
- Being in a big gym can be very intimidating to some people especially beginners new to exercising. I won’t lie at first I was not always comfortable in a big gym at first because I felt like everyone was watching me and I didn’t always know if I was doing an exercise right. It is normal to feel that way. But honestly most people in the gym are too busy worrying about their workouts and aren’t normally watching you. This still can be intimidating at first and can prevent someone from wanting to work out because their uncomfortable.
- For some women working out around men can be uncomfortable. Most big gyms are coed and normally are going to be filled with more men than women especially in the resistance training area. This can cause some women to not want to use equipment in that area because maybe they don’t want to be hit on or want to hear weights slamming on the ground around them. I personally don’t let that effect my workout. I’ve learned to tune that kind of activity out. But that has been an issue I’ve heard from several women.
- Some people use the gym for social time.This can be a problem for some people who are looking to get their workout in and keep it moving. I’ll be the first one to say I get annoyed when someone hogs up a piece of equipment while chatting away on the phone or with someone in person. During peak hours especially in the evening it is common for this to occur. Like stated earlier, being social in the gym does not have to be a bad thing if done appropriately.
I believe it is important for you to decide on a big gym based off if it is beneficial to your fitness needs. No need to waste money on a membership you do not plan to use. Do you plan to utilize everything that is available to you or do you feel like it is a bit overwhelming and too much going on? Maybe a facility such as a YMCA, recreation, or just a smaller gym in general is more cohesive for your needs. Next week I will cover pros and cons of smaller gyms.
*If a big gym is an option for you it would be useful to go get a day pass or some gyms even give out 7 day passes that allow you to try out the gym for free*
I can’t tell you how many excuses I hear from people regularly on why they do not have time to workout. I am here to tell you YES YOU DO!! I know we all lead busy lives but there is no reason we can’t take at least 30-60 minutes two to three days a week minimum out of our day to exercise. I know what your thinking because I’ve heard it all. I don’t have an hour to dedicate to workout. No problem!! Then what about getting in a quick 20-30 minute workout instead.
Well I have a great quick but effective workout that I like to do on those days I am not able to make it to the gym due to time constraints. This workout is a productive and intense circuit with exercise you can perform with your own body weight. It is very convenient for you to perform in the comfort of your home without worrying about needing any equipment.
*Perform all 8 exercises 30 seconds and then rest 1 minute before repeating. Repeat the circuit 5-6 times.*
- Jumping Jacks
- Push Ups *Can perform on toes or knees*
- You can use a chair or the end of your couch.Start with your back facing the chair.
- Place both of your hands on the chair or couch with your palms facing down and knuckles facing forward.
- Make sure your hands are about shoulder width apart. As you are doing this
- Then you will bend at the knees with your legs at a 90-degree angle
- Using your body weight slowly lower your body by bending at the elbow. Lower your body and hold for about 2 seconds. Make sure your elbows do not point out away from your body as you lower.
- Next straighten your arms out while pushing your body back up into your starting postition.
- Repeat until desired time duration.
- Stand in squat position with feet shoulder width apart and place most of your weight on your heels.
- Make sure your toes are pointed forward. Bend your knees and lean forward slightly to keep your knees over your ankles.
- Next your going to lower your upper body to a slight squatting position and push through your heels. Shift your weight to the balls of your feet as your come to a standing position and rise up on your toes as you jump.
- You want to go up in an explosive movement. You should use your calf muscles to help push your feet off the floor and get up as high as you can. Be careful to land on your toes before coming back down on your heels.
*If you are able to do jump squats you can modify this exercise and do regular squats.*
- Start with your right foot out in front of your left. Place your right foot flat on the floor and keep your left toe on the floor behind you.
- You want to make sure your back is straight, your chin is up and your hips are pulled in.
- Then slowly bend your right knee in a 90-degree angle and lower your body down toward the floor. Keep your right knee in line with your right ankle. Don’t let your knee move beyond the line of your foot.
- Maintain your form as you move downward and then straight back up to your standing position. Keep your left toe on the floor throughout the movement while moving up and down.
- Stay in this position and repeat on the same leg until desired time duration. Once your done with that leg positions, switch to the other leg. Place your left foot in front and the right foot back. Repeat previous instructions in this position until desired time duration.
- You want to start standing straight up and then drop down into push up position up on your toes.
- Next bring in both of your knees to your chest and then push your legs back out.
- Then raise up on your toes and explode up in a jumping position.
- Return to your starting position and then repeat again until desired time duration.
*You can modify this exercise by taking out the jumping position if you experience any knee problems from jumping.*
- Mountain Climber
- Start in a push up position up on your toes.
- Bring your right knee towards your chest while your left leg is back.
- Then quickly switch and bring your left knee toward your chest while moving your right leg back to starting position.
- Keep alternating back and forth until desired time duration.
- Sit Ups *If you need to modify this exercise you can do crunches instead*
*You can make any of these exercise more challenging by performing each exercise 45 seconds or 1 minute for more intensity.*
The importance of working out is not about the amount of time you spend working out but instead the productivity. The quality of your workout is way more important than the quantity. So make time to get in a productive workout in even if it is limited to 20-30 minutes!!
A popular topic in the fitness community that tends to come up often is if it is better to lift weights before or after you do cardio? This topic has always been very interesting and I have always been curious about it. For the past few years I have heard different reasons for doing one over the other but never got a definite answer. The most popular response in the past was to do cardio after lifting weights. When I worked out I normally would lift and then get my cardio in. I seemed to be beneficial and I enjoyed it. The only downside I experienced was every now and then being too exhausted from lifting to go all out on my cardio. This caused me to sometimes have to reduce my intensity or duration on my cardio. I did not like that at all.
I decided I needed to make a change and wanted to look back into this topic. I faithfully read Muscle & Fitness Hers Magazine and was thrilled to come across a question and answer article about this topic. In this article it explained how doing cardio before lifting is better for people who are looking to build muscle and people who are looking to build endurance more than muscle mass should do cardio afterwards. According to the article doing cardio last suppresses the anabolic effect of weight lifting to an extent, and helps protein breakdown more. Then doing weights last allows those pathways involved in protein synthesis and muscle growth to remain active longer.
It would be ideal if we all had enough time during the day to be able to do cardio and lift weights separately but with having busy schedules that is not always practical. That is why it is important to be able to make the most of our time when we are in the gym. So I decided to change my workouts up and started doing my cardio at the beginning of my workouts. I would engage in 20-30 minutes of cardio on short cardio days and then proceed in getting my weight lifting in. I had tried this method for several weeks and I have to say I like it tremendously. I was first skeptical in trying this method because I thought I would be too tired to want to lift after doing cardio. But actually I felt more energized than normal. I am not sure if I felt this way because it is something new or if it is more of a mental thing. Regardless I plan to continue using this method and see how it works more on a long term basic. I will definitely keep you all updated.
I would like to hear your opinion on lifting weights before or after cardio? Which method do you prefer or think works best for you?
Happy New Year’s everyone!! I hope you all had a great time celebrating the holidays. It has been a crazy time for me these first few weeks in January. I got all my wisdom teeth taken out almost two weeks and I’m still trying to fully recovery. I also just headed back to grad school for my second semester. But I am glad to be back and ready to see what this New Year has in store.
With it being a New Year it means for most people time for New Year’s resolutions. Instead I actually like to just consider it has making new goals for the New Year’s. I think the term New Year’s resolutions has a stigma associated with it. Year after year most of us make these resolutions and get super excited about them. Then after a few weeks or months for the dedicated, we completely forget them. Does that sound familiar to anyone? I know I can be honest and say I have been guilty of doing that too. So I decided to make new goals for myself for the 2013 that are realistic. I made short-term and long-term goals that are challenging but attainable with the right amount of effort. I encourage you all to do the same. Sit down and come up with some goals for yourself that you would like to reach this year. Think of all aspects of your life that you would like to improve whether it is physically, mentally, or spiritually. Maybe you want to improve your school/job performance, start a new project, enforce a budget, lose 10 pounds, or just get overall healthier. Whatever it is, if you put your mind to it and stay committed you can do it.
I would love to hear what some of your goals for 2013 are. Feel free to share!!