GymBug

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

Archive for the tag “hard”

Lower Intensity Interval Training

Hi there!

I found another variation to an extremely dull treadmill session! It’s slightly lower in intensity than my 1-minute off, 1-minute on one which is good if you’re wanting to a good workout but for whatever (legit) reason can’t quite manage it. Don’t let the title fool you, this will still get your heart rate up and you nice and sweaty (if you’re inside, although an outdoor treadmill seems a bit dodgy). Lower intensity should not mean easy, it should be slightly easier than you high intensity.

It’s really straightforward and you can alternate it really easily into different workout lengths.

First thing is first warm up for 5-minutes; best to start at a brisk walk and build up to your recovery pace (run at recovery for at least 1-minute and 30 seconds).

Now the fun begins.
2- minutes at a medium-intensity incline (I use 6%)
1- minute recovery pace
2-minutes at a fast run (I use 14.5 km per hour)
1-minute recovery pace
Repeat for desired length of time.
Cool down (5-minutes)

There you have it! It’s lighter but still incorporates a bit of interval training. This is good for beginners, a slightly more relaxed workout or to try improve endurance or build up your speed (maybe you’ve got a race coming up?)
If you’re looking to improve speed then best do repeated sessions of 2-minutes at a fast run instead!

Have a great day, we are half way through the week! You’ve got this.

Gym Bug

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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

Christmas Temptations…

Hi there!

It’s almost time! The countdown is now on; advent calendar has been busted open. It is December 1st. So, Christmas sweets and treats may already be circulating your house or office or social circles. What to do!? Resist and sit grumpily as everyone else tucks into delicious Quality Streets, Celebrations or Christmas cake? Pass on that glass of Champagne? No! Don’t be silly. I have no intention of doing that this Christmas. I just plan on trying to make good choices. The question is how? Here are a few tips I’ll be keeping in mind;

  • Have water nearby at all times. Keep sipping it regularly, especially if sweets/treats are lying around. Have a couple, enjoy them, and savour them and then stop. Use the water to fill yourself up a bit more before eating them so you don’t go crazy and end up finishing the box in one sitting.
  • Keep exercising. Don’t let the cold stop you in your tracks. Even going for a walk every day is great. Just keep moving throughout the holidays.
  • Don’t stress. This is Christmas. A time to relax, be merry and spend time with loved ones. So enjoy it. Don’t worry about putting on some weight. Accept you might, but don’t go crazy and un-do everything you’ve done.
  • Everything in moderation. Golden rule. Live by it.
  • Dark chocolate is better than milk or white. So when the chocolate box is cracked open, try get in for the dark chocolate.
  • Red wine is actually beneficial in moderation, as is white.
  • Alternate between an alcoholic drink and water. Follow a ratio of 1:1. 1 alcoholic beverage, 1 glass of water. It will slow you down, keep you clear(er) and might stop a food binge later on or the morning after!
  • If you’re at a Christmas buffet, don’t stand at the table and try everything. Select what you really want, put it on your plate and go and sit down and enjoy it.
  • Savour your treats. Make them an event. Having some Christmas cake? Have it with a cup of tea and enjoy it. Watch a film, chat with family, and make it special.
  • The most important point; have a great Christmas and don’t worry. You can go hard in January to lose any weight you put on. You don’t want to come away from this special holiday with regrets because you stressed!

25 days! Yippee!

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/

 

 

 

Stretching your way to fitness

Hi there!

Today’s post is going to focus on stretching and the importance of it. I used to never stretch and the severity of this wsa revealed to me when I got injured with a grade 2 groin strain in January. It saw me out of rowing for the semester and out of cardio for weeks. It was painful and incredibly frustrating. Since then, I’ve ensured I fit in a stretching session after every single workout. I’ve noticed it’s helped my recovery and it feels good being able to touch the ground without feeling like something is going to snap.

Again, this information has been collected from research I’ve done and things I’ve stumbled across on Pinterest, Twitter etc.

  • Stretching helps your range of motion. It reduces muscle tenion and tightness, two things which reduce muscle function.
  • It can improve posture. Tight muscles will pull your body out of shape. For example, tight chest mucles pull out shoulders and head forward which gives us a hunched look. By stretching your muscles your releasing the tension and allowing your body to move more freely and allows you to have better posture.
  • It can help your calm down. Stretching is good for relaxation and the release of tension can be both physical and mental when stretching. When stretching practice deep breathing and clearing the mind. It’s amazing how relaxing it can be.

Something that surprised me was the complex lack of consensus regarding stretching and injury prevention. Some sources say it doesn’t do a thing to prevent injury, for example, Jillian Michaels whilst other argue differently, such as the article in Lifehacker. I believe it has benefits of reducing muscle tension, which allows increased range of motion which may prevent you overstretching it doing simple tasks. So I think it can indirectly help.

When stretching it’s important to hold it for a good 20 seconds, otherwise you won’t see benefits particularly quickly. Also focusing on the areas you worked most during that particular workout to ensure they get the best stretches.

The Mayo Clinic has a great slide show on stretching safely and gives advice on basic stretches to start incorporating into your workout. I discovered some really useful ones by attending some pilates classes also.

Have a happy Saturday everyone! Last weekend in November, almost time to get pumped for Christmas!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=2206

http://lifehacker.com/5983731/why-stretching-is-just-as-important-as-exercise

 

H.I.I.T

Hi there!

This is anther one of my older post from my previous blog, but I’ve mentioned HIIT a lot so I thought it’s best to upload again! HIIT standards for High Intensity Interval Training and is an excellent way to get your heart rate and fat burning capabilities through the roof!

The idea behind HIIT is simple; short bursts of high intensity activity followed by a short rest, this is repeated until the desired time is up. The best thing about HIIT is that you can do it with anything! (Note: when I say “on” I mean as hard as you can go, when I say “off” I mean recovery where you allow your heart rate to drop). I thought I’d convince the un-convinced by doing some research to get some scientific evidence in front of your eyes!

Simplyshredded refer to a study conducted in Laval University. They kept it basic, 1 group followed a 15-week HIIT training plan and one followed a 20-week steady state cardio plan. Steady-state group burned 15,000 more calories than HIIT group BUT HIIT group lost significantly more body fat! The science behind it is that because HIIT is tougher on the body, it requires more energy (calories) to repair itself afterwards. HIIT essentially has a more effective after burn.

Still not convinced? The same post also stated that short bursts of high intensity cardio help us hold onto our hard-earned muscle mass! You just need to take a look at Bradley Wiggins legs (who competes in long, steadier races such the Tour De France) compared to those of Sir Chris Hoy (who does short bursts of intense cycling around a velodrome).

All of this is further emphasized by Jim Stoppani, PhD, who refers to the same studies conducted in Laval University and Ontario University as well. Just  do a little research yourself if you need further convincing. However, please give these (or your own versions) a go, HIIT is amazing!

Running;
If you’re interested in giving HIIT a go with running to mix it up and maximize calorie burning then best start off with an “easy” HIIT run to get a sense of you’re own capabilities. Doing this until you pass out is ill-advised, for obvious reasons. When I gave it a go prior to being injured I ran hard for 30 seconds and took 30 seconds off. I repeated this until I had doing it for 15- minutes in total. The run itself was 30- minutes (7.5- minutes warm up, 15- minutes HIIT, 7.5- minutes cool down). HIIT is great because it never gets easier! You can alter the length of the intervals or the intensity as you see appropriate!

I now tend to do 15-20 minutes of HIIT (1 minute on, 1 minute off) with 5 minute warm and 5 minute cool down.

Cycling;
This would be applicable to a typical spin class for example. It’s intense, short bursts followed by recovery. Then you sob as you’re told to do it all again. If you’re not part of a class you can still do this, indoors or outside! I have 2 sessions, each lasting 45-minutes.

Session 1: This is a sprint session. Take 5-minutes to gradually increase your heart rate through increasing the resistance. Once the 5-minutes are up it’s 35-minutes of work! I tend to follow the same (monotonous, yet effective) pattern, 1.5-minutes on with 1-minute off. You repeat this a total of 10 times, then it’s a 5-minute cool down. (Note: feel free to lengthen the warm-up and cool-down as you see fit).

Session 2: This one uses hill & seated climbs, sprints and jumps (alternate between 10-15 seconds standing, followed by 10-15 seconds seated, repeat for desired length). Again, I do a 5-minute warm up, 35-minutes of work, 5-minute cool down. The 35-minutes of work consist of 2.5-minutes of either a hill climb, seated climb, sprint or jump. Mix it up to enhance the work-out. This is harder, in my opinion, than the solid sprinting because it’s uses different muscles, for example, when I hill climb there’s a lot of burning on my glutes, which is less severe when I do a seated climb.

Aerobics;
Aerobics aren’t new and they’re great, but not as challenging as they could be. This is where “HIIT-ifying” it comes in. Give yourself 30-minutes and split it into 5-minute warm up, 20-minutes work, 5-minute cool down. I’ve written out an example below for a HIIT workout I do (no equipment needed, but if it has a * next to it, you can use a dumbbell(s) to make it harder). Work for 40 seconds with a 5 second rest between each exercise, then take a 1-minute rest between each set.

Repeat each set three times. It’s 3.25-minutes per set with 5-minutes break in total, so it’s 19.5-minutes of work! Remember 40 seconds on, 5 seconds rest between exercises with a 1-minute rest between each set.

Set 1:
Jumping squats
Press ups
Bicycle crunches
Russian twists*
High knees

Set 2:
Running on the spot (go as hard as you can)
Tricep dips (overhead tricep extensions with a dumbbell works too)
Push up plank (explained below)
Superman (explained below)
Burpees (explained below)

A really good idea is to mix it up! Write out your own HIIT aerobics plan that targets those large muscle groups you’re aiming to improve/tone/strengthen/shrink. Now a quick explanation on some of the moves.

Push up plank- start in a normal plank position with your elbows on the floor. Move into a raised plank position with your hands on the floor and your arms straight. Return to original plank position with elbows on the floor. Repeat for stated length of time.

Superman- lie on your stomach, arms and legs stretched out. Lift your head, arms and legs together and hold for a few seconds/the whole time. If you hold it for a few seconds before returning to the start position, repeat until the specified time is up.

Burpees (I hate these, but they’re a good exercise)- start on your feet. Jump as high as you can and when you land go straight into a crouch. Kick your legs back (so you’re in a raised plank position) and then bring them back into so you’re in a crouched position again. Jump back up, making sure to explode from the ground and repeat.

Anything that is unclear best go onto youtube/google to double check. As always, best to be completely clear on the technique and the moves to avoid any injury. It’s also possible incorrect technique means you’re not actually benefitting from the exercise. Nothing worse than wasted effort! (except injury)

HIIT is a great way to mix up your exercise regime and can help keep you away from the weight-loss plateau or the horrible repetitive strain that can occur. Otherwise it’s another way of keeping fit and healthy! Be careful though, this is a very intense form of exercise if done to highest of ability, so limit yourself to how many you do a week!

Gym Bug

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