Posts Tagged ‘High-intensity interval training’

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!

 

With the holiday season in full swing, everyone is busy and time is limited.  Between work, social gatherings, shopping, cooking, company, and everything else in between, it can be hard to find time to fit in a workout.  Tabata to the rescue!  Without getting into too much detail, Tabata training can be applied to just about any type of exercise:  cardio (sprints, intervals on an elliptical/bike, etc.), body-weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups), and resistance training (dumbbell/barbell/cable exercises).

Tabata is a total of 4 minutes broken down like this:

  • 20 seconds of max effort
  • 10 seconds of rest

It is essential to have a timer for this.  I use my GymBoss Timer but there are many apps that you can use on your phone too.  I just like the GymBoss because there is a vibrate option and it doesn’t interrupt my music 🙂  I clip it right to my shirt and go…

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The 20 sec on/10 sec rest is repeated 8 times for one complete 4 minute Tabata cycle.  Ok, so enough of that; here is a quick shoulder workout that I put together today because I was stuck at home (snow day for my kids) and short on time (ahem, snow day for my kids).  So before the “Mom I need this” and “Mom I’m hungry” fun-stuff started, I decided to squeeze in a quick, but super-intense workout:

Make sure you are completely warmed-up before diving into this:  not only is it intense, but it is very high volume!  Ready and warm?  Don’t forget your Top Secret Nutrition Pump Igniter!  Let’s go!  So each of the exercises below was completed using the 4-minute cycle (8 sets of 20 on/10 off for each exercise).  I completed as many reps as I could in the 20 seconds.  Another note:  use a lighter weight than you’re used to.  The first 2 sets are deceptively easy but trust me, by the end, you are going to wonder why a 10 pound dumbbell is causing you so much pain!

  • Hang Cleans
  • Standing DB Shoulder Press
  • DB Lateral Raise
  • DB Front Raise
  • DB Bent-Over Raise
  • Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrug

So, with each exercise lasting only 4 minutes with a few minutes rest between each cycle, the entire workout lasted about 45 minutes for me.  It was fast, it was intense, and I literally couldn’t lift my water bottle to my mouth.  So, give it a try!  And, if you’re like me and have to wash your hair upside-down in the shower when you’re done, you did it right!

It’s about that time again…I don’t have one specific topic that I’m going to talk about in this blog, but rather some random thoughts/answers to questions that I get quite often.  There is so much information available out there, it’s hard to sort through it all.  There are many factors that go into the biggest question of all – How do I obtain the best possible physique?  Diet, training, cardio, carbs, rest, supplements, and the list goes on…

First off, and this is no surprise, everyone is different and you MUST find what works for you.  But, how the heck do you do that and where do you even start?  If you’ve been training for awhile and have done some homework, you may already know the answer to some of these questions.  Here are my thoughts on some of the biggies (especially if you are just starting out):

  • Stay away from the “Extremes” – If there is a “No” or a “Super Low/High” in front of it, I’ll move on.  I’ve probably tried every diet and training scheme there is and I always find my way back to balance.  I can’t do low carb/no carb for any length of time, forget intermittent fasting, and if the rep range on any exercise is over 25 I’ll pass on that too.  I’m not saying I never do any of these things, I just don’t base any long-term nutrition or training program on them.  Again, these things may work for some, but I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re just starting out.  And unless you have an allergy or intolerance, don’t eliminate food groups (fruit, dairy, etc.).
  • Carbs are NOT the enemy – Carbs are anabolic, carbs provide energy/fiber/valuable nutrients, and a whole host of other benefits.  And frankly, they can taste pretty darn good.  Keeping fruits, vegetables, and whole/unprocessed carbohydrates in your diet is a good thing.  Heck, even the occasional “bad” carbohydrate, if timed correctly, can add some benefit.  Oh, and by the way, eating carbs at night won’t kill you either!  An easy rule of thumb I follow is this:  I generally consume slower digesting carbohydrates about an hour or two before my workout (and will have these at other mealtimes too depending on whether I’m cutting or building), and faster digesting/other carbs post-workout – these have even included cold cereal, pretzels, low-fat/baked chips, and even candy.  I keep carbs in my diet all the way up to contest time – I just vary the type and amount depending on my progress.  Keeps my body happy and my mind sane!
  • Cardio – I know I’ve touched on this topic before, but I find that too many mistakes are made when it comes to cardio.  Think of cardio as a “supplement” to proper diet (# 1) and proper resistance training (# 2).  Just because you CAN do more, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  Less is generally more, and HIIT is definitely the way to go:  sprints, intervals on the bike, elliptical, or anything else.  HIIT should definitely not be done everyday as it is very taxing and 20-30 minutes at a time is all you’ll need.  What about fasted cardio?  My thoughts; go ahead and do it if you like, but it is not necessary (especially if you are doing HIIT).
  • Rest – One of those dreaded 4 letter words, right?  Yes and no.  I may be a little crazy, but I LOVE to train.  Rest days are tough for some but completely necessary.  Without proper rest, no gains will be made and injuries can happen.  This also includes the proper amount of sleep at night (without it you have reduced growth hormone activity and a decline in performance).  Just getting an extra hour of sleep can make a huge difference.  I have personal experience with this one:  at certain points in the year, the only time I have to get to the gym is 5 a.m.  This puts me at a loss of about 1.5 hours of sleep if I continue to go to bed at the same time.  I am much weaker, have less endurance, my recovery slows down, and I tend to get nagging aches/pains.
  • Eat enough but not too much!  Calories in vs. calories out – yes, it matters!  If you want to lose fat, you must be in a deficit.  If you want to gain muscle, you must be in a surplus.  Unless you are extremely genetically gifted or pharmaceutically enhanced, you will fare much better if you focus on one goal.  There are other important factors that I believe make a difference like timing of nutrients (carbs/protein pre- and post-workout, fats at other times) and supplements, but get the foundation right first!  Don’t forget if you eat too much of a surplus, you will get fat!  Eat in too much of a deficit, and you’ll lose your precious muscle.
  • Long-term fitness/motivation – Do what you enjoy and do it for you!  Although I feel that at least some resistance training is necessary, if you absolutely hate it, find something that you will enjoy:  yoga, cycling, team sports, races, the options are endless.  But I’ll bet the ranch – if you stick with weight-training long enough to see and feel the benefits, I think you’ll love it as much as I do!

In next week’s blog, I’ll return to some more of my training-specific information so stay tuned!

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!