Tag: resolutions

8 tips to make cardio easier and more fun!

The holidays have come and gone and some of you might have put on extra weight that you want to lose. Or maybe your New Year’s resolution is to drop 10 pounds in the next three months. If this is you; I have some tips to making cardio more enjoyable and easier for you.

8 tips to make cardio easier and more fun:

  1. Start out slow
    When beginning cardio, most people seem to want to hop on the elliptical, put the resistance up, and go as hard and fast as possible to burn those calories. This is okay to do, but can quickly tire you out and make you not want to do cardio as often or at all. My advice is to hop on the elliptical, treadmill; etc.and put the resistance to a light to moderate setting and start slow. Once you get more comfortable with this resistance and speed, you can slowly progress both resistance and speed.
  2. Pick good music
    When you’re listening to music you enjoy, you will want to continue your cardio workout for a longer period of time. Pick music that is quicker paced and keeps you pumped up. Music plays as a distraction while exercising because you are not paying attention to the time as much when you’re enjoying a good song. This is definitely a great method to making cardio go by faster.
  3. Mix it up
    Most of us choose one machine that we like to do and stick to it; for example the elliptical. If you are getting bored of cardio because you are using the elliptical every other day for 30-60 minutes, then switch it up. Try the elliptical for 15 minutes and then the treadmill for 15 minutes. If this still isn’t enough, you can add in the stair stepper or the stair climber as a third machine of use.
  4. Add it into your strength training routine (Circuit Training)
    If you are lifting weights upstairs, take the time to add in a minute sprint on the elliptical or bike between each set of exercises. This will keep your heart rate up as well as blood flowing throughout your muscles. It is easy for individuals to totally forget about cardio, so to make it easier and shorter, just add it between different sets of what you do enjoy.
  5. Interval Training
    If you get bored of jogging on a treadmill at 5.4mph for 20 minutes, then switch up the speed and time frames. For example, walk for a minute at 4mph and then run for a minute at 6mph. Repeat this about five to ten times to keep that heart rate up. If you would like more of a challenge, then increase the speed after each set. For example, walk at 4mph for one minute, run at 6mph for one minute, walk at 4.2mph for one minute, run at 6.2mph for one minute; and so forth.
  6. Find a Buddy
    There are days when we just don’t have the motivation to come into the gym. Therefore, everyone should have that friend that will help motivate you or visa versa, to go to the gym or for a walk outside. When exercising with someone else, you can carry on a conversation and forget you are even working hard or sweating. If that friend is competitive, that is a great way to get incentive to beat each other’s time or distance or whatever the goal may be. This is also another way to make time go by a lot quicker during cardio exercise.
  7. Take a group exercise class
    If you don’t do well by yourself and on the same machine every week, try taking a group exercise class. There is an instructor in each class along with a group of members just like you to keep you motivated and on top of your game. The Seattle Athletic Club offers many different types of classes involving great cardiovascular workouts. Some of these classes are Power Cycle, Zumba, and Step Aerobics.
  8. Jump Rope!
    Most of you probably learned how to jump rope in elementary school at Recess. We think of it as something we did when we were kids for fun, but people forget that this can actually be a cardiovascular exercise. Try it for a minute and see how tiring it can actually be. Jump roping is a great way to keep your cardio workouts fun and effective.

One of the biggest questions gym goers ask themselves: “Do I use machines or free weights?”

Now that the holidays are over and the New Year has begun everyone is starting to come crawling out of hibernation. The gym is usually where they will end up shaving off some of the reserves that weren’t necessarily needed all winter. One of the biggest question new gym rats (or returning gym rats) ask themselves is “Do I use machines or free weights?” It is a great question that has been debated back and forth for years in the fitness community. Below lists some pro’s and con’s in regards to machine based training and free weights to help you make your own educated decision.

Machines:
Pro’s
1. The machines will set the body in the correct position for target specific muscle groups.
2. They are easily adjustable. The weight can be changed without the difficulty meaning you can push your limit safely.
3. Usually set up in a total body circuit which is easy to understand.
4. Several machines have multiple uses (pec deck for rear delts, leg press for calf raises).

Con’s
1. Limited range of motion.
2. Not each body type is the same and some machines don’t allow adjustments of each piece.
3. Unrealistic movements that do not translate to real life.
4. Targets prime movers and do not recruit stabilizers or core muscles which are needed in day to day activities.

Free Weights:
Pro’s

  1. Greater range of motion
  2. Stabilizer muscles are recruited throughout the exercise.
  3. More core muscle engagement since you will not have the support from the machine.
  4. Broader selection of exercises to perform which are more realistic and prepare the body for everyday activity.

Con’s

  1. Education is required to perform the exercises correctly. If performed incorrectly there is a greater chance that you will be injured.
  2. Spotting is often required.
  3. More inconvenient to change or adjust your weight. Must put weight back and select new weight.
  4. Must decide which exercise to do next instead of following a circuit.

Both the machines and free weights offer great advantages to building strength, endurance, and flexibly. The happy medium between the two would be the Free Motion Cable Machine. You get the benefit of having to stabilize your body using your core while having the ease of changing the weight that you get from machine based exercises. It is important to make smart decision prior to exercising to avoid injuring yourself. Always consult a personal trainer before starting a new routine to find out what is best for your body type and athletic ability!

There is only one question… Are you just going to set the exact same goals in 2012 and hope they go better? That’s crazy talk!

A year ago you were dead set on trying to lose 20 lbs. You were dead set on going to spin class once a week. You were dead set on getting Michelle Obama arms. It’s been a whole year. You have lost no weight; perhaps maybe you have just put on a few pounds. You went to spinning one day a week for a month and then the schedule wasn’t perfect with work so you haven’t actually done any spinning in 6 months. Your arms look pretty much exactly the same as they did last year…ugh.

So you’ve decided this time to set real goals. To really put your mind and body to accomplishing something that you can see, feel, or at least check off on your calendar. Now the only question is are you just going to set the exact same goals and hope round two is your time? Are you just going to do the same workouts? Are you just going to hope that this year your body loves you and makes miracles happen? How is this time going to be different?

First let’s talk about setting the same goals. This is a sure fire way to fail. If you didn’t accomplish even one of the goals you set last year (or 6 months ago, or one month ago, or one week ago) what is the point of just saying let’s try it again? Why not try setting smaller goals, more specific goals, or completely new goals that you really truly care about. If you do a better job goal setting I can assure you that you will be much more likely to accomplish something this time around.

Are you going to do the same workouts and eat the same way? Doing the exact same thing (or close to it) and expecting a different result is just plain crazy talk. There is no way that you can hope to do the exact same things and expect a different outcome; it’s just not going to happen. So it’s up to you to make the change, this could mean everything from cutting out dairy from your diet to joining a swim conditioning class to swapping one day of long boring cardio for some higher intensity workouts. It could mean a complete overhaul of your program starting with talking to a trainer for ideas, program suggestions, or jumping into some personal training sessions. Let’s face it, you’ve tried it your way and it didn’t work, maybe now it’s time to get serious and talk to a professional. If you really want this it really could be yours!

Can you make miracles happen by just wishing for them to? I doubt it, but if you can please come talk to me and let me know your trick! You can’t just sit on the couch and hope that tomorrow your body turns up its metabolism and starts burning calories like crazy. You can’t hope that by cutting out one packet of sugar from your daily coffee that you’ll lose 10lbs (but cutting out one soda a day from your diet, regular or diet soda, will make you lose 10 lbs in a year). You can’t magically force your body to burn calories while you sit on a bench in between your whopping two sets of biceps curls and hope that this time your muscles are going to respond. It’s just not in the cards my friend. So do yourself a favor, visualize success all you want but you have to actually put in the work to make it a reality, those are the facts.

How is this time going to be different?
First set new, attainable, important goals. Real goals that you really want, that you are ready to work for; goals that you can share with other people and get some support. Goals that you have a clear road map as to how to achieve them.

Second, let go of the idea that wishing, wanting and think positive it is enough…it is a great start, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to put in the work. No magic, no excuses.

Third, try something new. Try a new class, add in a day of different styles of working out (instead of running you can row, instead of Body Pump you can try TRX, instead of ActivTrax you can get some training sessions and learn how to use kettlebells, etc), even changing the time/intensity/format of your workouts can be enough to make a difference. So if you aren’t ready to get nuts and try Power Bands you can at least stop riding the recumbent bike at a level 10 for an hour and get on an Arc Trainer for 30 minutes of high intensity intervals. It doesn’t have to be crazy Crossfit workouts but making changes not only to your general workouts but to your diet as well will help you move to the next level. Positive changes yield positive results plain and simple.

So let’s cut out all the crazy talk, lies, and get down to it; you are ready, you want to make the change, you want to see results, or you just don’t really care that much. These are your goals, not anyone else’s so if you don’t really care then that is your choice. But if leaning out is important to you, if getting off your high blood pressure medicine is important to you, if bettering your half marathon time is important to you, or if just feeling good about yourself and making positive changes to your every day life is important to you than it’s time to make a change. This really could be your year, really!