GymBug

I've caught it. Fortunately, it's not treatable.

Archive for the tag “cardio”

Tough Mudder; Challenge Yourself

Hi there!

Today’s post is about Tough Mudder. I’ve already done one for Spartan Race as I have signed up to take on the challenge in 2015.
From experience I can tell you this is brutal and satisfying at the same time. You get to the first obstacle and fly through but by obstacle 5 and mile 6 fatigue is setting in. Your fellow competitors don’t run past aiming to cross the line before you, no, they stop and help. It’s not about the finish line, it’s about the race. A race you take on with your fellow runners, you help your fellow Mudder. This is not a marathon, you do not care about your time. You care about the journey.

The best, most exhilarating and challenging sporting event I have ever done. I completed it in 201 and 2014. It’s a 12-mile long obstacle course designed by the Special Forces. It challenges everything from team work to physical and mental strength.

Past participation has me convinced the worst obstacle is Arctic Enema. Literally, jump into an ice bath, go under a barrier and then back out. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Your muscles start to seize up when you hit the water and the air goes out your lungs, but it’s fantastic, because it’s all about proving that you can do it. Don’t panic though, there’s loads of people there to help you through and drag you out if it’s too much.

It’s a brilliant day and it raises money for Help For Heroes! You’ll meet loads of like-minded fitness fanatics as well as the people just “giving it a go”. I can’t express how much fun it is and the orange head band and delicious, ice-cold pint at the end is a perfect ending to a long, tough, muddy run.

The best part is, is that it gives you a goal for training! It requires cardio fitness and full body strength to do well, so get going and get motivated! Your entry fee includes a Tough Mudder headband, special t-shirt, pint at the end, fuel during the run and the post run party! Also, if you have completed more than one of these events, you start collecting “Legionnaire” headbands, different colours represent the number of times you’ve tackled a Tough Mudder. I’ve got a green one since I’ve done it twice.

Think you’ve got it? Think you can earn your headband? Sign up!

They’ve got competitions in the UK, US, Australia and numerous other countries across Europe!

You’ll be sore the next day but you’ll wake up feeling awesome because you’re officially part of Mudder Nation.

It’s time to get Muddered!

Gym Bug

The importance of a well-earned rest

Hi there!

Sunday is my scheduled rest day and I thought it was an opportune time to do a post about why these rest days are so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I take one rest day a week (on average) but recommended exercise is between 3-6, so you can take more depending on your schedule, goals and other variables.

The type of recovery I’m discussing here is long-term recovery. Which refers to the scheduled planning of rest days throughout the exercise schedule. This will be the focus of the post.
Short-term recovery refers to the recovery immediately after your work-out and includes active recovery. Active recovery is doing low-intensity exercise to help the body recover immediately after intense exercise and also the days after.

So what makes them so important?

Professional athletes take rest days too. They appreciate the importance in allowing the body (and the mind) to recover, repair and strengthen. For those who do not complete on a professional level, it’ also a great way to maintain  a better balance amongst leisure, work and family life.
Recovery and rest is when the real training happens. Your body is able to adapt to the stress of exercise, replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues (for example, the breakdown of muscle).

Not allowing for adequate recovery opens a very wide door for injury, fatigue and illness. Lack of recovery leads to overtraining. Continuous training can actually hinder your performance. Overtraining results in depression, lack of energy, feeling drained, muscle and/or joint pain, insomnia, headaches, decreased immunity, injury, loss of appetite amongst other things. Overall, rest days are critical if you want avoid overtraining. By going too hard, you risk taking yourself completely out of exercise for an extended period of time, which is exactly what you don’t want.
I can give a personal example of this when I engaged in solid rowing training for 7 days a week for weeks on end. By the time January rang around I was struggling to walk without considerable pain in my right leg. Two doctors appointments and a physio visit later, I was diagnosed with a Grade 2 Groin Strain. 8 physio sessions and weeks off of cardio had me feeling annoyed, frustrated and disappointed. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

Rest days are also good for you mentally. I can’t imagine anything worse than having to get to the gym every single day. Whilst I love the post-exercise feeling I do value being able to lie-in and relax a bit more on my rest days. It keeps the gy from being repetitive, monotonous and downright dull.

How should I incorporate it into my schedule?

There are different methods for incorporating rest days. You can do what I do and select a specific day to have off, changing it as required by your commitments. You can also just pick and choose week by week depending on your mood (I’d be wary of this, as you may end up taking more than planned).

Men’s Fitness have a great article about rest days and recovery for weight training. Whilst this is a male fitness magazine I think the principles are applicable to both genders in their weight training schedule. To sum the article up, they suggest having “deload weeks” every 4-6 weeks, where you reduce the intensity to allow the body to recover. They also recommend incorporating stretching, core exercises and bodyweight movements into these weeks.
They also suggest taking 1-2 weeks a year for “rest weeks”. Here they emphasise a focus on doing things you enjoy, not exercise. Go walking, hiking, leisurely cycle, socialise, etc. These are really for after very intense sessions such as a marathon. However, I think it’s a great addition to any workout calendar. You get to escape the gym!

Women’s Health Magazine (keeping the balance) also recommend rest days. They state that strength does not come from training, it comes from the body rebuilding itself after the training. Their recommendations for rest and recovery include 1-2 rest days a week, alternating between intensities (e.g HIIT one day a week, endurance another), nourish your muscles (sleep right, eat right, stretch).

Again, rest days are needed, being a “gym rat” will not see you lose weight faster. It’s possible you may even retain more weight. Exercise releases the stress hormone cortisol which encourages fat storage. If you put your body under intense stress 7 days a week, you’re increasing the levels of cortisol in the body, encouraging your body to hold onto precious fat as a survival instinct.

Active recovery is a good way to allowing your body to recover too. On your rest day you could go for a walk as a way to get out the house, get some fresh air etc. You can also engage in low-intensity classes such as pilates and yoga. This way you are allowing recovery without any need to feel guilty. However, having a rest day is  NECESSITY so guilt shouldn’t really come into it (but I get that it can). Personally, especially when I’m home, I do some form of active recovery because I own a dog, so I walk him.

So, evidence has proven you do not need to confine yourself to a gym 7 days a week! Rejoice!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and preparing to crack open their advent calendars tomorrow!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/RestandRecovery.htm

http://www.builtlean.com/2012/06/05/overtraining/

 

 

 

Recovery Foods

Hi there!

Hard, intense workouts of the cardio or strength training variety should leave you feeling pretty drained and eventually hungry. If you’re like me, you’re not hungry immediately after a workout, but give it 20-30minutes and the hunger kicks in and it’s intense! It’s necessary to fuel your body up 1-2 hours after working out in order to help muscles repair and your body to maintain function. It’s best to get a good mix of protein, carbs and healthy fats.

After most of my workouts I’ll eat a bowl of porridge (I prefer exercising first thing in the morning) and on occassion I’ll have a salad packed with rommaine lettuce, white beans/lentils, cucumber and olives. I also have MyProtein Chocolate Smooth Whey Protein after strength training days. However, this isn’t foreveryone, so below I’ve listed some great recovery foods to have after the gym.

  • Chocolate milk (especially handy for people on the go) with a banana
  • Cottage cheese on rye bread (cottage cheese is good for protein)
  • Scrambled eggs (protein, protein, protein) pair it with some wholemeal bread or rye bread!
  • Peanut butter on wholemeal toast or rye bread
  • Coconut water and a banana (great for restoring electrolytes)
  • Avocado stuffed with cottage cheese and tomato
  • Avocado on wholemeal toast/rye bread
  • Spinach salad with chicken
  • Sliced apple with peanut butter and raisins
  • Tuna salad or sandwich
  • Smoothie with oats and greek yoghurt
  • Greek yoghurt, chopped banana, topped with some nuts

These are just a couple of great ideas that combine carbs, fats and proteins to help your body recover and make sure you’re ready to tackle the next workout! Remember to try keep carbs as wholegrains and DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. Rehydrating is vital and consistently drinking water through the day is an excellent habit to develop. Always try keep a water bottle to hand.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Gym Bug

Monday Mayhem-Don’t Miss Out

Hi there!

So it’s Monday (boooooo), which means you’re returning to work, school, some form of unenjoyable activity perhaps? Maybe you’ve had an exciting weekend involving booze, too much food? Maybe it was super boring and you’re excited to have something to do? Either way, it’s the beginning of a new week and the one thing you shouldn’t do? Miss a Monday workout!

Why? Personally, I feel it sets me up for the week. Gets me on the right path for the rest of week workout and eating wise. My Monday’s consist of an early morning cardio workout (I shall explain in a minute) followed by Uni work and class. It helps me establish my weekly routine again after the weekend and gets me motivated!

So, I thought I’d share my workout, in terms of my experience with it, it’s relatively new. I started doing it a few weeks ago because I found the monotonous 45-minute bike or treadmill session unbearable, plus its get in super-fit-heartpumping HIIT in there too!

So here it is;

ABS for around 10 minutes

Set 1; 5 minute warm up on the elliptical maintaining 140-150 rpm

Set 2; 15-minute treadmil session (HIIT)
1 minute recovery speed (10.5km per hour)
1 minute incline (6%) at hard pace (13.5km per hour)
Repeat
1 minute recovery speed (10.5km)
1 minute uphill climb (incline 11.5%)
Repeat
1 minute recovery speed (10.5km)
1 minute sprint (16.5km)
Repeat
1 minute recovery speed (10.5km)
1 minute of any of the three options above
1 minute recovery speed (10.5km)

Set 3; 10 minute HIIT bike
1 minute off
2 minutes on
*Use any technique in here to get your heartrate up. Mix it up with sprints and hill climbs.

Set 4; 5 minute elliptical session (140-150 rpm)

Set 5; 10 minute HIIT bike

RECOVER AND STRETCH

Make sure you cool down correctly and do some stretching. Flexibility is really important and can help prevent injuries!

I will do a post later on about different ways of getting your heart rate up whilst using the bike. It looks like a lot but this whole workout takes me an hour (45 minute cardio, plus 15 minutes (+/-) abs and stretching).
Typically, I grab a banana before I hit the gym then refuel with porridge when I get back! My days are varied but I always eat something before and after hitting the gym.

Tomorrow it’s weights day! For me, an exercise week consists of 3 cardio sessions and 3 weights sessions, with Sunday off. A rest day is important, don’t forget that!

I can’t promise I’ll post everyday but I have ideas for posts that I want to do so watch this space!

And remember, “perfect” is subjective, get happy, get healthy, don’t let others opinions get in your way.

Gym Bug

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