Saturday, February 28, 2009
A dynamic warm-up prepares the mind and body for movement through a series of progressive low-to-moderate-intensity drills specific to the intended activity. Dynamic stretches can mimic the movement patterns in both strength and cardio routines. Since I do my cardio and strength training in the same day, I don't always use dynamic stretching because I warm-up with my cardio prior to my strength training (not everyone shares this perspective). Some individuals choose to separate cardio and strength training either by splitting their workouts by alternating days or doing cardio in the morning and resistance training in the afternoon or evening. If that's the case dynamic stretches are great as a warm-up because they improve your range of motion by increasing blood flow and muscle temperture. On the days I do my moderate cardio work, I follow it with some dynamic stretches prior to my resistance work and then follow that with static stretches as a cool-down. On alternating days, I do interval work for cardio followed by some dynamic stretches, core work, and static stretches for cool-down. The biggest challenge is getting in another stretching session during the day--I keep plugging away!
Friday, February 27, 2009
In a previous post, I highlighted the benefits of static stretching but cautioned its use before your weight workout. Because static stretching places the muscle in a relaxed state, it weakens the muscle. Because of this a strength imbalance can occur between the opposing muscles. This may make you more susceptible to muscle strains, tears or pulls. Static stretching may also reduce blood flow to you muscles and decrease the ability of the central nervous system to communicate with other parts of you body which could limit the ability of your muscles to generate force. This is not what you want happening when you are doing your squats. Don't despair, you can do dynamic stretches to prepare for you muscle-building session and we will discuss those in my next post.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Now that you are at the end of your second month, it could be time to change things up once again. Maybe it's time to change training partners, play lists, exercises, reps, set, etc. Anything that might make you complacent about staying the course. Keep in mind your personality--if you like routine, make a minor change that doesn't upset your commitment; if you crave variety, change up when you stop making gains. This is a very vulnerable time for most exercisers, because they are past the honeymoon stage (excited about working out, learning new things) and may be tapering off some initial results (decrease in weight loss, less improvement in exercise). Again, keep in mind the other benefits of exercise and keep making the choice to remain physically active.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
What's great about static stretching is that you can do it anytime you want (except before a weight workout). A general guideline is to do static stretching twice a day but each session can be as short as 4-5 minutes. You don't need to warm up your muscles for static stretching but you do need to keep in mind the duration of the stretch. You can hold the stretch for as little as 5-10 seconds but you will get better results with holding the stretch from 20-30 seconds. Because most of the benefits happens with the first stretch repeating the movement has little effect. Even though static stretches aren't suggested before a workout they contribute to improving your "passive" flexibility which are beneficial for daily activities such as bending, kneeling, and squatting.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The next component to consider for my 2009 goals is flexibility. From my baseline data I found that I am pretty flexible except through my shoulders. So I need to focus on this area as well as lower back and hips - which are typically a problem as you age. With this in mind, I need to do stretching for all the major muscle groups, with focus on shoulder, lower back and hips as well as pay attention to my body alignment and posture while lifting weights and doing daily activities (sitting at the computer, walking, getting up from a chair). Putting this all together, I am planning to do the following (keep it SMART):
YWeight?: My Goals for 2009
- At the gym I will make sure that I am align correctly on my cardio machines--set the seat and handle bars correctly from my height on the stationary bicycle; keep upright on the stairmaster and balance rather than use the hand rails; keep my running posture and stride appropriate for my speed and ability.
- After my cardio work, I will do dynamic stretches for the muscles groups I am working that day (about 5-10 minutes). During my weight workouts, I will do static stretches as passive recovery between sets. At the start of each set of exercises, I will review body alignment and posture throughout the range of motion being careful to use the correct amount of resistance (too much weight results in shorter range of motion and targets the strongest part of the movement rather than training the weakest link)
- Each evening do 15 minutes of relaxing stretching prior to going to sleep.
- Attend a Yoga class 1 or 2 times/week
YWeight?: My Goals for 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Even though I have targeted the treadmill as the tool for meeting my running goal, sometimes I just don't feel like running. To make the treadmill more challenging without running you need to use the incline. After warming up for about 5 minutes, I will increase the incline every minute for 10 minutes or until it gets steep enough where if I increase any further I have to hold on to the rails or it just gets too tough. The second half of the workout I bring the incline down and increase the pace each time I lower the incline until my pace is at a point where I have to start to jog. By then it is time to do a 5 minute cool down (total time = 30 minutes). I don't do this often by when I need to take a break but keep on the treadmill this keeps me on track.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
It is very interesting to see how quickly I reach my maximum heart rate now that I am over 50. I work pretty hard on the stairmaster but as soon as I get to the treadmill my heart rate is high even if I am only doing a 10 minute mile. Because I rarely to the stationary bike, it takes more for me to reach my maximum heart rate but I can reach my "light" cardio goals easily. Most of this is related to my lack of cross-training and my aging. I have gotten very "fit" for using the stairmaster but not very "fit" for using the treadmill or stationary bicycle. I will continue to do the cross-training with an emphasis on improving my treadmill fitness while maintaining my stairmaster fitness and use cycling and walking as recovery activities. Maybe next year I can work on incorporating the cycling.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Although I focus on cardio equipment and activities that I can do in the gym or at home. There are a variety of activities to choose from--only your imagination keeps you limited. You may also be surprised at the number of activities you already do that can be incorporated into your workout routine. Check out the following site to get valuable information on activities and how to make use of them in your daily life.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I have always felt guilty about using only one type of cardio machine (my favorite is the stairclimber) because of my knowledge of the benefits of cross training. Despite my occasional flirtation with other machines, I usually come back. Why? Because I enjoy doing this particular exercise and it suits my goals. That being said there are some advantages and disadvantages associated with each cardio machine and you may want to know this before getting started. One of the best overall machines is the treadmill. The motion is familiar (whether walking or running), uses all the large muscle groups, allows for weight-bearing movement, can be adjusted for all levels of fitness. That being said, it may not be suitable for some folks such as those with balance issues or joint injuries that could be exacerbated by their weight. Stationary bike is a great alternative for those with knee injuries or can't endure weight-bearing activity (i.e. individuals that are obese). If you happen to have back problems, you can use the recumbent bicycle as an alternative. Stair mills actually force you to pick up your legs and bear weight so they do provide a better workout than a stairmaster but if you have bad knees the support of the motor activated stairmaster is a better choice. Keep in mind that form on the stairmaster is important--the more you rely on holding you body upright keep your hands off the handrails and use your core to balance while stepping. The elliptical does a good job of movement while remaining low-impact so they are appealing to beginner's. I find the angle and movement awkward and I don't get as good a cardio workout. Rowing machines provide a great overall workout especially for core muscles but it requires attention to form and may not be advisable for anyone with hip or knee problems. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you can maintain consistency. If you like outdoor activities pick a machine that can easily be transitioned out of the gym -- for most folks that would be the treadmill (walking, hiking, running can all be done outdoors) as will as the stationary bicycle.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
You may be at the point where you are missing a workout here or there, so we need to build strategies to get you back on track. When you don't feel like exercising, think about doing just one set of your favorite exercises. Once you get through these, you will find you may want to finish a whole workout. Or, if you can't seem to drag yourself to the gym, have a plan B which includes a home workout routine. Even if you only get in 10 minutes, it is important to keep the exercise habit in place for at least three months. Go back to some of the earlier tips and see if they can help at this stage.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
From my previous post you can guess I have been doing workouts for a long time but not everyone is at this stage. So for those of you who are just starting out on an aerobic program you can start with just about any type of activity and any amount of time. If you are a self-starter it will help to understand how and why you may want to monitor your heart rate. Try reading the information on Polar USA. It is extremely informative and easy to understand. If on the other hand, you need some guidance, I would suggest starting with the American Heart Association's Just Move (for women) or Cardio for Beginner's (for men) site. Additionally, there are numerous resources in your local library to refer, both books and dvd. Don't worry if you don't have a heart monitor, you can use Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). If you are a beginner, start off lower down the scale and of course, you should consult your physician before starting any training program.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I have decided that I would like to set a goal (long-term) of running an 8 1/2 minute mile while staying within 80-90% of my maximum heart rate (220-53 = 167; 80 % = 134; 90% =150). This goal will increase my anaerobic tolerance and improve my high speed endurance. Right now, I am running a 10 minute mile at about 85% of my maximum HR so I have to work on increasing my running speed at a rate that allows my heart rate to stay within 80-90%. To accomplish this, I will need to make small, gradual changes each week. Since I also have a knee injury, my running will be limited to 10 minutes, 3x week and I will augment running with the stair master and use varying heart rate target zones to train to help increase my aerobic capacity. So, here is the overall plan (intermediate goal) and then I will make adjustments each week (immediate goal) to move toward my goal.
YWeight?: My Goals for 2009
- 2x week I will do moderate intensity aerobic work (10-40 minutes at 70-80% HR) to enhance power and improve blood circulation. This will be in the form of the stair master and I will adjust my work upward 10% each week. For example, I am doing 30 minutes at level 11, so each week I increase my resistance level to 12 for a longer portion of the 30 minutes. Right now, I am doing 18 minutes at L11 and 12 minutes at L12; next week it will be 15 minutes at L11 and 15 minutes at L12 until I do all 30 minutes at L12. I will continue this as long as I am within 70-80% HR, otherwise I will slow the resistance to 5% per week.
- 2x week I will do hard intensity aerobic work (2-10 minutes at 80-90% HR). This will be in the form of intervals on the stair master. I will do 5 minute warm-up and cool-down with 9-20 minutes worth of intervals. Again, I will use HR to determine increases each week.
- 3x week I will do my 10 minute of running and attempt to increase the pace each week by 10% while maintaining my target HR of 134 - 150.
- Once a week I will do a light aerobic workout on the stationary bicycle for 40 minutes at a light level (60-70% HR) to increase aerobic endurance, strengthen body to tolerate higher intensity training, and increase fat metabolism (part of my weight loss goal).
- A minimum of 2x week (or more) do some walking in my neighborhood at a very light level for 40 minutes at 50-60% of my HR to help in recovery after heavier sessions.
YWeight?: My Goals for 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Well it has taken about 6 weeks for me to collect data and determine my readiness for accomplishing my goals for 2009. Now it is time to make the plan for meeting these goals. I am going to start with my overall long-term goals and then break them down into more manageable steps.
- I want to lose 5 lbs and maintain that weight loss for 6 months (this means I have 4 months to accomplish this)
- I want to be able to run a mile in 81/2 minutes
- All of my "health" stats will be within normal range, if not, goals will be set to meet these within the course of the year.
- I will get, at minimum, 8 hours of sleep a night 5 out of 7 days per week.
- I will improve both my range of motion, flexibility, and strength (this need to be more specific)
Friday, February 13, 2009
Today I start my yoga class at the gym. I don't usually participate in group classes but I thought it would be a good idea to do a yoga class at least once a week to help with stretching and range of motion. Going to a class allows me to take a break from being active in the sense that the instructor leads me through the postures and helps identify technique issues. I can then use this information when I am on my own. A class provides some social interaction that I don't normally get when at the gym (I am a serious gym goer, not a social butterfly). Having a class to go to also helps to maintain a commitment to any activity. I am hoping to incorporate different activities to maintain my motivation and interest. I will evaluate today and decide if the class is appropriate for my goals--which I will be determining this week.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
It may be time to swap out one set of tunes for another. If you are an iPod enthusiast, there are numerous websites that suggest play lists for certain types of activities. If you have changed up your cardio routine (moved from endurance to intervals) now is the time to change your music. Look for music that will help you reach your heart rate target for your session. If you don't listen to music, look for ways to integrate other strategies to keep the cardio session interesting. One suggestion is to deal out five cards from a deck and use those numbers for your intervals (pass on the face cards). So, if I deal out a 2, Ace, 5, 6, and 9 I use these as my minutes for intensity with Ace being 1 (lowest intensity) and 10 (highest intensity). Any mind game will do, just make sure you get in 20-30 minutes.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Yesterday was what I call a "food" day. I overate throughout the day and the scale showed it this morning (not to worry--your weight can fluctuate several pounds). Since you can't be perfect with food all the time, you have to take lapses in stride. The most important thing is to bounce back and start eating healthfully again the very next day. Since my indulgence wasn't extensive, it doesn't make sense to drastically reduce my intake today but I can make sure I keep within my normal eating pattern with a slight reduction in portion size. Luckily, I am very consistent with my workout routine so I don't need to make any adjustments there--although I may take an extra walk today if the weather keeps. The key is keeping this as a "lapse" rather than a "relapse" so it doesn't become a continuous chain of unhealthy behavior.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
In order to reach any goal, you need to make sure they are SMART. SMART is an acronym for the following five components:
- Specific: Make each goal specific and give the reasons for the goal (why it is a priority or has value to you). For example, rather than saying I want to lose weight I would say I want to lose 5 pounds. The reason: I am hoping to maintain or lower some of my health numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.).
- Measurable: The point of setting "measurable" goals is making sure that you can tell, weekly or monthly, whether you are making progress or whether you need to adjust what you are doing. So with the above goal of losing 5 pounds, if I don't start seeing some progress after a month, then I may have to reassess what I am doing.
- Action-oriented: There needs to be behaviors or action to reach your goal. So for me to lose 5 pounds I can't just keep doing the same old thing--or I would have already lost the 5 pounds. So my plan is to increase my activity level and lower my calorie intake (this will also need to be more specific and measurable).
- Realistic: Is losing 5 pounds possible for me or am I over-reaching? Based on my current weight, height, age, and gender it should be possible for me to lose 5 pounds especially if allow for enough time.
- Time stamped: Putting a deadline on your goals helps tie together all the other components and provides an opportunity for establishing a commitment.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
On the way home from vacation, I started thinking about what my workouts would look like when I returned and decided to go back to some tried and true exercises. This week I plan to do free weights, superset upper/lower body exercises, one vanity move and core. I will resume the cardio workout I had prior to going on vacation. This week I will focus on what I want my goals to be for 2009 and how to go about planning to accomplish them. I will use the SMART method (I will explain in my next post) and will probably do some type of program cycling otherwise know as periodization so I don't get bored. This may change throughout the year as I fine tune my programs to met my goals. As a reminder, I am at the maintenance stage of behavior change and now my focus is on keeping motivated and avoiding relapses.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Your going into your second month and you think it would be getting easier, but it isn't. You need about 3-6 months of consistent workouts to really make it a habit. To help keep motivation up when your resolve diminishes, sign up for a race or competition that will occur in the next two months. This way you will have something to work toward and a specific deadline for this phase of your training. Additionally, it will give focus to your workouts.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I am still in Florida and alas, the weather is not so good--sunny yes but cool temperatures and high winds don't make it beach weather. Despite that, I managed a 32 mile bike ride one day, a 8 mile hike another day and a couple of workouts at the resort fitness center. You have to be very adaptable because you can't just transfer your normal routine to a new and unknown gym. At the resort gym the cardio machines are different and their calibration is more sensitive. They have some of the same machines but the free weights are limited and there is no squat rack or pull up bar. So you make do and put together a make shift workout that hits all the major muscles but certainly doesn't replicate your usual workout. On vacation you are not looking to increase workout intensity just maintain what you have gained. I am also staying fairly true to my eating program with the exception of some alcohol but I keep my other simple carbs down throughout the day and my activity level has actually been higher this week. All in all not too bad. Luckily, my track record for vacations has been very good and most of the time I lose weight, not gain.
Monday, February 2, 2009
If you don't already have a strategy for maintaining your fitness, see what others have to say. Click on the article below for additional ideas.
Canadian Living : Health : Fitness : How to stay fit on vacation
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Canadian Living : Health : Fitness : How to stay fit on vacation
Posted using ShareThis
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Traveling is always a challenge to those who want to stay healthy. I am visiting a friend in Florida this week and drove down in the course of two days (overnight camping). Because I didn't have any activity over those two days, I focused on eating right. In order to do so, I packed my cooler with food that was good for me and avoided the fast food temptation. In the evening at the campground, I did order out (pizza) but had a limited amount with a ton of salad. Luckily, where I am staying I have access to a fitness center for 3 days, walking trails, boogy boards, as well as bicycle rentals. So I plan to keep busy (as long as the weather permits) and continue to monitor my eating. I am also looking for a park/playground to do my "body weight" workouts when I don't have access to the fitness center. The only 2 days I need to preplan my eating is Superbowl Sunday and Thursday night wine tasting both events could lead to overeating. I hope we continue to have good weather but I have plans if the weather gets rainy.