We all have busy schedules and finding time to fit everything is nearly impossible. The first thing we tend to throw out is our workout. Well, forget this all or nothing mentality, you do not have to workout 30-60 minutes all at once. Instead, squeeze your workouts in where you have 10 extra minutes. It is proven that doing 10 minutes of medium to high intensity workouts at least 3 times a day, 5 days a week, will help you live a healthier life and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Besides fitting in the 10 minute workouts when you have a little bit of free time, you can also make simple choices that will help you burn a few extra calories. For instance, park at the far end of the store parking lot and walk briskly to the store. Whenever possible walk wherever you need to go. By taking the stairs instead of the elevator you can burn 75-115 calories for every 10 minutes spent in the stairwell. While watching your favorite show doesn’t just sit on the couch, on those commercial breaks get up and get you’re heart rate up and your blood pumping. Just think if you did 5 minutes of jumping jacks, crunches, pushups, squats, and lunges, each time you had a commercial you would get in an extra 20-30 minutes of working out.
Also spring is just around the corner and it is time to do spring-cleaning. Get out there and do some gardening, 30 minutes of gardening will burn roughly 140 calories, mowing the lawn for 30 minutes will burn about 160 calories, raking the leaves will burn about 125 calories in 30 minutes. Clean those dirty windows! Wash all your windows inside and out for 30 minutes and burn 85 calories. 30 minutes spent cleaning out the garage can burn 100 calories. Rearrange your furniture, and vacuum and dust behind everything can burn an extra 135 calories. As you can see it does not take much to burn those extra calories! Your goal is to squeeze in your workouts whenever you have a few extra minutes, and to move more!
Many people at new years try and change their lifestyle to become a healthier person. Of those people only about 20% can actually stick with their new year’s goals for more than 3 months. That’s not a very high number, so here are some tips to make your new fitness program one that stays with you for your lifetime.
The first thing to do is find a gym that fits all of your needs. Basically you want to get the best bang for your buck. This means find a gym that is convenient, clean, and organized well enough that you can do exercises without being in your fellow member’s personal bubble. The gym should also offer a wide range classes and amenities that fit your needs and preferences.
The next thing to do is contemplate what your personal goals for your fitness program will; they should be both long-term and short-term goals. These goals then need to be written down and visible every day. It is a proven fact that people who write down their goals achieve them at a higher percentage than those who do not.
Now that you know where you are working out and what you want to achieve, you need to think about nutrition and water intake to fuel your workout. You should drink two cups (16 oz) of water about two hours before you exercise, drink one glass for every 15 min of exercise, and drink two cups of water for every pound of weight lost after exercise. As far as food goes, eating before exercise can help prevent a crash in energy during your workout. If you are trying to eat with an hour of your exercise, stick to light foods rich in carbohydrates; if you have a couple hours before exercise grab food rich in carbohydrates as well as protein, and if you have over three hours before your exercise get a small mean of complex carbohydrates, protein and good fat. Right after you exercise, replenish your energy with carbohydrates and protein.
As for the exercise, if you are a new exercise enthusiast keep the workout simple. Do not try and do all of these crazy exercises you see other gym goers doing. Stay simple and basic in your exercises first, and then progress into other advanced exercises. If you are experienced but have lost that drive to exercise, try finding an exercise partner or asking for advice from a fitness expert, like a personal trainer, to vamp up your routine.
To have a successful fitness plan DO: find the right gym, write down those long and short term goals, eat food before and after your workout as well as drink plenty of water throughout the day and your workout and keep your workouts simple, but ask for advice from a someone if you need to vamp up your workout.
For all of your cardio gurus who know the equipment…or think you know the equipment, here is some basic info and tips about the cardio equipment you may use, the equipment you should be using.
Cardio equipment can be broken down into two different categories; weight bearing and non-weight bearing.
Weight bearing equipment would include any piece where you are standing while moving and your joints are taking on all the force of gravity pulling on your body. This can include the treadmill, stair mill/stepper, and elliptical/arc trainer. This weight bearing cardio is beneficial because it:
Creates stronger bones
Burns the most amount of calories
Creates stronger joints and muscles
Usually a fully body exercise/movement, making everything better.
Within weight bearing equipment you have two more categories; load bearing and non-load bearing. Load bearing means exactly what it sounds like, your joints (ie. knees) take on the full force of your movement. The equipment that does that are the tread mill, and stair mills/steppers. If you have bad knees or are starting out exercising try the non-load bearing equipment such as an elliptical or arc trainer, where you will burn a lot of calories but not have achy joints afterwards, granted you will not be strengthening your joints as much either.
Non-weight bearing exercises are ones usually associated with sitting. These can include the rowers, upright/recumbent bikes, arm ergometers, and rope puller. The benefits of these machines are:
No/less stress on the leg joints
Great exercises for novice exercisers or people recovering from injuries
Safe and easy to use
Non-weight bearing is usually associated with non-load bearing as well, keeping everything safe and decreases the wear and tear on the joints.
Tips for utilizing cardio equipment:
You may have a favorite piece of equipment, but always using the same piece could potentially lead to muscle imbalances.
It is recommended to do your cardio AFTER your weights to decrease your chances of injury.
You should cool down after doing cardio to keep your blood from pooling in your extremities and creating a light headed feeling.
Using different machines within your cardio time (bike, elliptical, treadmill, etc) will increase every positive aspect related to doing cardio: burn more calories, strengthen joints and muscles, increases coordination, tones muscles, decreases blood pressure etc.
Just doing cardio should not be the staple of your exercising, like everything we need to make sure that we are stretching and strengthening our bodies as well, so try yoga or Pilates and a group exercise class or personal training; they will improve your cardio and daily activities.
Heart rate monitors and calories counters are never accurate, they run off of formulas for the average male person exercising, if you are not average they can be skewed either direction. Instead try to finish your cardio breathing somewhat hard, and sweating and I guarantee you are doing your body well!
If there is a piece of cardio equipment with moving arms…use them! You can burn up to 1/3 more calories by pushing and pulling with your arms as you do your cardio.
Hand rails are there in case you lose your balance…not for resting your body weight on. If you are on a stair mill or stair stepper don’t rest on the rails, it defeats the purpose of using that equipment and cuts your calorie burning down dramatically.
There are different types of cardio equipment manufactured actually for a specific reason; some are supposed to be easy on the joints, some cardio equipment is for novices to start exercising without having to know much about how to exercise, while other equipment is there to create a hard workout for that advanced exerciser. By choosing your cardio equipment effectively there should be no excuse for getting in the gym!
My muscles have saved me on numerous occasions and they can help save you too! When I give into that chocolate croissant or feel like doing nothing but watch football on Sundays, my muscles save me! When I lock myself out of my house and need to climb in through the second story window, my muscles save me! Or, when I need to move my TV all by myself up four flights of stairs, my muscles save me. Muscles can also change your body composition and give you those solid shoulders, shape a sexy back, and lift your butt. Who wouldn’t want to reap these benefits? Muscles Rock!
It’s very important, when building lean muscle, that you are performing each movement correctly. If you have never done resistance training before, it is a good idea to work with a fitness professional. They can help you develop a routine and build a foundation for your specific type of training.
So grab your gym face, and your sneakers too. Its time to hit the weights! For more information on muscle building or toning please contact any of our qualified fitness staff. If you are interested in setting up a training session please contact the SAC’s fitness director Jacob Galloway.
When you think of gymnastics maybe you think of little girls doing flips or young men doing the pummel horse. Whatever the case may be, I’m sure you see it as something that is specialized and not for you. But I’m here to tell you this is not the case. The great thing about adding in basic gymnastic exercises is that you get to test your strength, range of motion, balance, stability, and core strength. You need little to no equipment and you get to be creative and use your body as a weight. Some amazing basic movements you can try are;
The gymnastic push-up. This is a variation of the push up, finger tips face back towards your toes and hands move from directly under your shoulders to a new position closer to your hips. This allows you to build strength while at the same time increasing wrist flexibility, shoulder stability, and core strength. The closer you can get your hands to your waist the harder it is.
Pistols also known as a one legged front squat. In this exercise the goal is to lower yourself down all the way to a full squat position (butt to heel) while keeping your foot flat, spine extended, and all the while keeping the other leg fully extended in front of you. This exercise is great for balance, increasing range of motion in your ankle, knees, and hips, increase of strength in the quad muscles, and can really elevate your heart rate. If you can’t get to full depth or can’t descend to the bottom position without the heel coming up you can use the TRX for assistance.
Handstands. If you think this exercise has nothing to do with your goals of strength and looking good you couldn’t be more wrong. A handstand is a great tool for opening up your shoulders, using your core for stability, increasing balance, and of course improving your full body strength. I recommend starting against a wall plant hands no more than 2 inches away from the wall, making sure to press out of your shoulders, keep your toes pointed, keep your hips tight and core engaged, and keep the top of your head pointed towards the floor. There are many variations and other ways to increase the difficulty of this exercise before you move away from using the wall.
Ab roll-ups. In this full body exercise you will be focusing on using your abs to generate force and power, this is not your basic crunch! Starting on your back pull your knees into your chest (using your abs) and then throw your feet down to the floor and finish the movement by using that force and speed to stand up. The main keys here are to keep your abs engaged, use the power from your tuck, and make sure to stand up with your hips down and chest up (think a good full range of motion squat, don’t dump your chest forward or round your back). To make it easier use a medicine ball to add more weight and increase speed and to make it harder keep your hands on your chest and don’t let your arms punch forward.
In addition to these body weight exercises there are endless basic exercises you can perform on gymnastic rings, everything from ring dips to pull ups to skin the cats and back levers. Learning the basics of gymnastics can open a new door to more fun and challenging workouts and can help you make leaps and bounds towards increasing core and joint strength. Seems that Mary Lou Retton really knew what she was talking about. Be strong, be powerful, learn how to move your body through a full range of motion, and finally you can use that chalk!
Ashley started Pilates mat classes about 5 years ago at the Seattle Athletic Club. She was in physical therapy for hip problems and her therapist recommended starting Pilates for core stability. It helped her enough that she was able to stop doing PT.
During her first pregnancy three years ago her doctor was uncomfortable with stressing her abs while pregnant so she stopped at about 3 months and ended up with hip problems during her pregnancy. During delivery she pushed for 2 1/2 hours and her doctor was really close to moving towards a c-section as they were hitting 24 hours of labor. Luckily, she was able to convince them to let her go a little while longer and was able to delivery naturally.
When Ashley got pregnant again 2 years later, she did her research on Pilates and pregnancy. She found information both on-line and on a Pilates videotape. Plus, she talked with me about the modifications necessary for her pregnant self.
She went to her same doctor armed with information and was able to get her comfortable that she could continue Pilates with the modifications. Ashley stacked 5 Yoga blankets behind her back and used this as support during the stomach series, the roll-ups, & neck pulls. Since she was unable to do any exercises on her stomach, I suggested some alternate exercises she could do to keep moving. During rolling exercises she practiced balance instead of rolling. Once she reached her 3rd trimester I made sure that she was only lifting one foot off the ground at a time during any exercise.
By doing Pilates during her pregnancy (up until 3 weeks before delivery), she avoided the hip problems she encountered with her first pregnancy. While most of her labor was similar with her second child (totaling 22 hours!), the major difference was that she pushed for just 12 minutes – 3 pushes total. Her doctor was amazed.
Ashley says, “Since labor requires you to be in a curled up position (just like Pilates), I believe that all the Pilates exercises combined with a deep concentration on pushing were the key to my easy delivery. I owe a big thanks to Jocelyn for all her support and creativity during my pregnancy. She was incredibly helpful along with members of my Monday night class who were always checking up on me.”
Beginning our day with a calm relaxed mind has many advantages as we all know. But in order to see these advantages we need to understand the drawbacks and workings of a non-calmed mind. In essence, a non calmed mind is a stressed mind. Stressors happen daily, whether it is subconscious or conscious and the way that we deal with these stressors can have a big impact on our body, especially when we are attempting to reach a certain goal. When the body is stressed it cannot perform optimally, and many of its thoughts will produce negative reactions and responses to various stimuli within our body which a calmed, stress-free mind would otherwise be able to handle in a more controlled and logical fashion.
The interesting fact is that stress actually changes your body’s chemistry. Trying to put up or deal with stress results in a chemical change that may be quick to pass or could possibly take many weeks, depending on which way your body wants to fight it. In the struggle to gain strength, lose weight or perform at our optimal level, stress is a major factor that needs some consideration. Understanding how to handle stress is very important to achieve the fitness level and physique that you desire.
During stressful situations our body releases two hormomes; fast-acting Adrenaline and long-lived Cortisol. The short term response to body stressors is the release of massive amounts of Adrenaline; which acts to increase your heart rate and breathing like when you are scared or surprised. For our long-term reaction to stress that occur on a daily basis, the body uses a hormone called cortisol, which enters our bloodstream at a slower pace. Once cortisol is present in our body, it slows our metabolism down and may take months or even years to remove its excessive effects. One important fact to know is that cortisol is closely associated with belly fat, which leads to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health related issues. Life is becoming more and more stressful as an American and in return our bodies are producing more and more cortisol. People are eating more starchy processed foods only contributing to the obesity epidemic we are facing today.
Its not only our daily stressors that affect us, we even stress when we sleep, making it more difficult to function the next day. Several hours before you get up in the morning, a very tiny portion of your brain, sends a signal to stimulate your adrenal glands which causes a slight rise in adrenaline. And further more after you have awakened, cortisol levels begin to rise. Most heart attacks and strokes occur between 6 am and 8 am in the morning and are often related to the increased rise of cortisol. It is obvious that getting cortisol under control is of a major importance for a healthy fit individual.
BEST TIME TO COMBAT STRESS?
Cortisol is usually at its highest level a few hours after you wake. Over a period of time through the day, your levels decrease. This can answer the age-old question of the when is the best time to exercise. Mornings are optimal as your cortisol levels are high and you have the best chance to suppress them at this time. Nothing like releasing a little tension by lifting weights or taking a class!
REACHING OUR GOALS!
We all have specific goals we want to achieve, and a general direction we want our lives to head in. If we are running around stressed, frustrated, dishonest, with forced anger and violent actions pressed on others, how can we remain focused and calm enough to accomplish our own life’s goals?
This becomes more important when trying to achieve physique related goals. Anytime a goal is set with a stressed or disorganized mind, you can expect to struggle whether you know it or not. Some of the obvious steps to controlling stress are associated with simplifying your life. Putting too much on your daily schedule is a sure way to make life too difficult. There is no question that some people seem to handle stress much better than others, but it is a constant work in progress. Life is too short to walk around stressed out, so try taking a look at your daily habits by organizing your day. Try adding things to help combat stress can help fight these effects; taking a quick vacation, exercising, taking a nap, or doing anything that helps you to relax and feel good, will likely result in a decrease of cortisol!
When the word “athletic” comes to mind I envision an individual who is competent in all aspects of fitness (strength, flexibility, endurance, agility and coordination). Though excelling at all of these is a rare and difficult task, being competent in each of them builds an amazing foundation for a healthy and active life.
On the other end of the spectrum, neglecting one or more of these components can be a detriment to your performance and health. Being incredibly strong but inflexible is the cause of many overuse injuries (tendonitis, arthritis, etc). Being flexible and lacking strength can lead to the exact same ailments. Concentrating on endurance alone (i.e.: running or swimming) without a proper base of strength and flexibility will cause hormone imbalances and will wreak havoc on your joints.
Through creating a foundation in all these areas seems difficult, but here at the Seattle Athletic Club we offer a myriad of classes and opportunities to become the “Perfect Athlete”. With a wide variety of group classes, you can easily add several tools to your fitness arsenal with no additional cost. If you want to take things to the next level, any of our highly qualified Personal Fitness Trainers can help you fill in any gaps you may have in your regimen.
Here are a few examples of how to develop each component. Strength
Active Range of Motion (Leg swings, etc)
Agility + Coordination
If you have any questions or want more information please take advantage of our educated staff to help guide you with your fitness needs.