Posts Tagged ‘Cardio’

Have A Little Fun With Your Cardio

Posted: July 25, 2014 in Fitness, Fun
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I am definitely not one to do the same workout over and over again.  I think that’s why I’m not a big fan of traditional cardio.  There’s just something about being on the same machine for more than a few minutes that bores the crap out of me.  If I do machines, I do mix it up with intervals or do a mix of machines to reduce the boredom.  I also do a lot of non-traditional types of cardio:  barbell complexes, circuits, battle ropes, etc.  But I still like to add a little fun to my cardio, so here’s what I did today.

Got a deck of cards?  Me neither…lol.  I knew I had a deck somewhere but God knows what my daughters did with it or even if it was a complete set.  With some quick thinking, I searched the Google Play store and found a simple Deck of cards app.  Perfect!

I assigned an exercise to each suit.  You can make it any exercise you want…the body part you were working on or something completely different.  It’s totally up to you!  Here were my choices for today:

Hearts:  Bodyweight Squats

Clubs:  Single-arm DB Snatch

Spades:  2-arm Kettlebell Swing

Diamonds:  Deck Squats (this is where you squat down, butt to the floor, roll back with knees tucked in, roll forward and then stand up) – for a little extra oomph, I made them Deck Jump Squats! 😀

Each numbered card gives you the number of reps (2-10) and I assigned the King, Queen, and Jack 15 reps, and Aces 20 reps.

Set your timer (I did 20 minutes at the end of my resistance workout), grab the top card or swipe the app, and go!  Keeping shuffling through the cards taking a rest only if you need it until your time is up.  I must admit, this was the most fun I’ve had with cardio in a long time!

I can’t believe that we’re halfway into July already!  I’ve been squeezing in my home workouts whenever and however I can with my kids home this summer.  Today I’m going to share with you one of my “quickies”.  I had about 25-30 minutes to get something done and I wanted to make sure I hit a little bit of everything.  Weights, cardio, upper body, lower body, core, and a few drills for fun.  I wanted to keep the intensity high the entire time so after downing my Cardio Igniter from Top Secret Nutrition, I strung together a quick warm-up, 4 bouts of Tabata, and some drills at the end.

Warm-up: 2-3 minutes of jog in place and dynamic stretches (I wrote another blog on the dynamic warm-up if you’re interested:  https://fitgirlkris.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/the-dynamic-warm-up/ )

Tabata #1 – Lower Body Focus (a quick reminder of Tabata – it is 20 seconds of work alternated with 10 seconds of rest and performed for 4 minutes.  This equals 8 total “rounds” of exercise)

  • 2 rounds of Goblet Squat (I used a 35# Kettlebell)
  • 2 rounds of Kettlebell Swings
  • 2 rounds of Jump Squats
  • 2 rounds of Pop Squats

Tabata #2 – Upper Body Focus (I wanted to focus mostly on shoulders on this particular day)

  • 2 rounds of DB Lateral Raises
  • 2 rounds of DB Bent-Over Raises
  • 2 rounds of Push Press
  • 2 rounds of “V” Push-Ups

Tabata #3 – Cardio/Conditioning Focus

  • 2 rounds of Battle Ropes
  • 2 rounds of Jump Rope
  • 2 rounds of Jumping Jacks
  • 2 rounds of High Knees

Tabata #4 – Core Focus

  • 2 rounds of Mountain Climbers
  • 2 rounds of Burpees
  • 2 rounds of Plank with Arm Raises
  • 2 rounds of Plank with Leg Abduction Hops

Rest about 1 minute or so between each Tabata bout.

To finish the workout I did a few laps up and down my street of the following:

  • 1 lap of forward jogging
  • 1 lap of backward jogging
  • 2 laps of lateral shuffle
  • 2 laps of cariocas

Make sure to cool down and stretch for a few minutes and you’re done!

There really is no need to spend hours at the gym.  Sometimes I don’t even get to the gym…I’ve created quite the home gym over the last few years and to me, spending money on key pieces of equipment makes me much happier than spending money on shoes and handbags (don’t get me wrong, I love those too)…

Monday was a super-busy day for me (as usual) between work, family, dinner, softball games, etc.  I had just over one hour during a break in the action to squeeze a workout in at home.  I saved a few minutes afterwards for a shower…you’re welcome.. 😉

I used an adjustable dumbbell set and a few kettlebells (but you can used dumbbells for the entire workout if you want):

I performed all the exercises in the order listed, took a 1 minute break after the end of the circuit, and completed 4 total circuits.  I did a quick light aerobic warm-up for about 5 minutes:

  • Dumbbell Curl to Overhead Press x 15 reps
  • Heavy Kettlebell Swings x 20 reps
  • Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks x 15 reps
  • Renegade Row x 10 reps each side
  • Unilateral Bent-Over Row with Kettlebell x 15 reps each
  • Burpees x 10 reps
  • Reverse Lunges x 10 reps each
  • Russian Twist x 20 reps
  • Unilateral Floor Bridge x 15 reps each
  • Plank with Alternate Leg Lifts x 10 reps each
  • Kettlebell Deadlift x 15 reps
  • Unilateral Kettlebell Thruster x 10 reps each
  • 3-way Delt Raises x 10 reps each (Front, Lateral, and Bent-Over)

That completes 1 cycle.  Rest for about a minute to grab some water and catch your breath and then go again!  This type of workout gives you the best of both worlds (as long as you use a weight that is challenging).  Not only are you stimulating each major muscle group, but your heart-rate remains elevated for the entire hour for that fat-blasting effect.  I try to do a workout like this about once per week in between my other “standard” weightlifting routines.  If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes!

 

The Number One Reason…

Posted: March 6, 2014 in Fitness
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Time!  It’s the number one reason people give for not participating in a regular exercise program, right?  If you can find 30 minutes, you can certainly get a decent workout in.  It just takes a combination of motivation, determination, and a little bit of creativity.  I had quite a busy day today.  So busy, in fact, that I was not able to get to the gym.  I actually didn’t have any significant time to myself until my kids went to bed.  I certainly didn’t want to spend over an hour exercising…I didn’t want to throw in the towel either.  I planned today to be a cardio/core day because I knew I wouldn’t be able to adequately train legs at home.  I wanted it to be a fast but effective workout and not a 20 minute walk in the park followed by 4 sets of 20 crunches…So, here is what I did with my 30 minutes…

  • 5 minute warm-up on my Spin Bike

I set my workout timer for 20 cycles of 1 minute each (actually 1 minute and 10 seconds to allow me to switch between the bike and core exercises…no cheating here!) and alternated between 1 minute sprints on my bike and 1 minute of each of the following core exercises.  There was absolutely no rest until I finished the 20 cycles…so here is a list of the exercises I alternated with my bike sprints:

  • Knee-Ins
  • Crunch
  • Russian Twist with Medicine Ball
  • Ab Wheel Roll-outs (what was I thinking doing this for 1 minute straight?!)
  • Frog Crunch
  • Scissor Kicks
  • Bicycle Crunch
  • Plank
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Double Crunch

Rest about 1 minute at the end (just enough to hydrate and catch your breath…)

  • 5 minute cool-down on Spin Bike

That’s it…30 minutes (ok maybe like 33 minutes and 20 seconds but who’s counting) and covered in sweat!  Give it a try…you’ll either thank me or, well, not…

As I sit here writing this, I am just under 5 weeks out from my next competition, so I thought I’d share with you how things are progressing with me.  From this point on, it becomes even more of a mental and physical game.  Workouts tend to be a bit longer, calories have dropped, and the diet is continuously changing depending on progress.  So far, I’ve managed pretty well through this prep:  I have certainly had points of hunger, but nothing I couldn’t handle; I’ve been able to push through my workouts and have remained pretty strong despite the lowered fuel; and my motivation has been relatively high throughout.

So, what does my diet, training, and supplementation look like right now?  I have always done all of my own prep work when it comes to diet and training and I tend to adjust things as needed.  I have discovered a few things about myself over the last few years of competing including that I “don’t do low carb very well” and there is such a thing as “too much cardio”.  So, in terms of my diet, I will have at MINIMUM, one carb meal per day (usually my beloved oatmeal in the morning will stay until the end).  Most days, though, I will have at least 2 carb meals with an additional small serving of carbs post-workout (here I leave a little wiggle-room for the occasional treat including pretzels, low-fat ice-cream, and even a little bit of candy if needed).  Not only does it help me in terms of recovery, but it is a big help in the sanity department when you’re restricting yourself.  I have also learned that restricting foods to “good” and “bad” can lead to a poor relationship with food.  So instead of good vs. bad foods, I look at it as “the most appropriate time to incorporate this food”.  I also tend to do more carb “re-feeds” at this point vs. cheat meals (these can get pretty dangerous towards the end if you know what I mean ;-))

My training has changed a bit at this point as well.  I am still trying to lift fairly heavy on most of my exercises, but I have incorporated more supersets to not only speed up my workouts, but increase the overall calorie burn.  I will also adjust my workouts on the fly (if I’m feeling energetic and strong, I will try to lift to my max; if not, I listen to my body, lower the weight and just do additional sets/reps – remember, it’s not always the amount of weight you lift, but how you lift it, time under tension, and avoiding injury!).  For cardio, I do HIIT 3 days per week (20 minutes) and fill in the other days with steady-state (usually 30 minutes but not more than 45).  Pose, pose, pose!  This is a huge part at this point as practice makes perfect (especially in those heels!) and it does wonders for you looking and feeling comfortable on stage.  If done correctly, posing can be counted toward your cardio!

Top Secret Nutrition (http://www.topsecretnutrition.com) continues to be an amazing sponsor and supporter!  I’m still using the 100% Whey post-workout and just incorporated the new Pump Igniter Pre-Workout.  This has been a great addition to my stack as it has gotten me through some grueling workouts!  Cardio Igniter is a must-have for my HIIT and longer-duration cardio workouts.  I have just added in the XAT-7 fat-burner for that extra edge and I continue to use the BCAA Hyperblend Energy (either during my workouts or I just sip it throughout the day if I need a pick-me-up before it’s time to eat again).  Everyday essentials include the ActiveXtreme Multi, Advanced Joint Support, Fish Oil & CLA, and Concentrated Red Palm Oil.  I tend to keep my supplementation fairly stable until close to the end so this list won’t change too much until about a week or so out.

That’s about it!  At least until it’s GO TIME!

Cardio…some people love it and some people dread it. While I’m not a huge proponent of hours and hours of cardio, some is usually necessary for fat loss, conditioning, or contest prep.

So, do you have to plod along on the treadmill or spin your wheels on a bicycle all the time? Absolutely not! I get bored easily, so doing the same type of cardio day in and day out gets old FAST!

I prefer weights over cardio any day of the week, so, why not combine them?!  And no, I don’t mean ‘lift weights faster’ to get your cardio in. Enter, barbell complexes…

In a nutshell, barbell complexes are a series of exercises performed in a sequence, with the same weighted barbell, without rest.  You will typically use 4-6 movements that transition easily from one exercise to the next.  Each movement will generally have 3-8 reps.  Now, for the greatest benefit, you will want to choose full-body or compound movements.  Once you’ve completed one full sequence, you then take a short rest before performing the next sequence.  Here are some examples:

Barbell Complex #1

  • Front Squat
  • Push-Press
  • Romanian or Stiff-legged deadlift
  • Upright Row or High Pull
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row

Barbell Complex #2

  • Power Clean or Hang Clean
  • Deadlift
  • Thrusters
  • Back squat

Choose a weight that will be light enough so that you can complete the sequence without resting but heavy enough to be tough.  If you’ve never done complexes before, its best to choose a really light weight (even just the barbell (45#)) and make sure that your form is good.  Never perform a movement if you’re not sure how to do it safely (i.e. Snatch, Power Clean, etc.).  You can mix and match any exercises that you want – just use your imagination, make sure the movements flow together, and that the weight is appropriate for all movements!

You can either add a short barbell complex workout to the end of your regular workout (should only be 15 minutes or so to complete) or you can perform these during a separate session.  I have added these as a cardio session once per week as a separate session from my workout:  I warm-up for 5 minutes, perform the complex, and cool down for another 5 minutes for a total of a 20-30 minute session.  Now, my only dilemma is which of Top Secret Nutrition’s Pre-Workout Formulas to use:  Cardio Igniter or Pump Igniter??