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How Do I Add Sprints To My Workout?

Sprints are probably the most effective, yet underused, aspect of cardio. Most likely the reason is that many don’t know how to implement it and may not completely understand why they are so beneficial.

Lets start with how you can use these at any fitness level. Sprints can be performed by anyone as it is all out effort for a short period of time. I think that many people look at them as something only elite athletes use. Yes, they do, but they use them because they improve their performance immensely!

They are very simple and if you write down your times you will see how you are improving. It is always important to do a warm up before any exercise and when you are focusing on all out effort, it is imperative. The great thing about sprints is you can do them walking, running, on a bike and even on an elliptical. The focus is on getting your heartrate to maximum level for that short period of time, usually 20-30 seconds max. When I taught spinning, we would do a lot of sprints scattered throughout the class. After a good warmup we would work to the first sprint. Remember, sprints are done at whatever level you are capable, but always shooting to get better. When you sprint, that all out effort should only be for that 20-30 second time. You should be spent at the end, and needing the recovery time to focus on breathing and getting the heartrate back down. This is key. You have to find the balance of all out effort, not passing out and not going too easy. I always err on the side of caution when first using these so you can feel out where you are. Again, if you feel like it was easy, you weren’t sprinting. You should need that recovery. One a bike or elliptical, make sure you have resistance on the pedals as that will help get the HR up.

If you are a walker, you can still do these. Simply kick up your pace to get well out of the comfort zone. If running isn’t something you strive for, you will want to look at a spin bike/class or elliptical, as running is going to be the only option for improvement. Recovery is so important in that getting your HR back under control is part of cardiovascular fitness. Deep, controlled breaths are what you want to focus on, as that will get you centered. Keeping a log with your heartrate and even how long it takes to get back under control will help you tremendously. Remember, if you don’t feel like you need the recovery, you aren’t doing the sprints properly.

Why is this a great training tool? When you sprint, you are increasing your caloric burn tremendously. Not only that, but you are using your muscles to their maximum and you will see greater muscle growth too. Look at the pure sprinters you see in the Olympics. There isn’t an ounce of fat on them and muscle development is amazing. You most likely won’t see that much growth unless you train as much as they do but you will see improvement. You will be much more efficient with your workout when using sprints too. Spending less time, yet more effective time, working out is always good.

Remember to fuel yourself properly with water and the right foods when looking to sprint, as that will make a big difference!

Until next time…

Sometimes, You Have To Go Slow!

When it comes to losing weight and being healthy, this isn’t the favorite slogan. We want it and we want it now! On top of that, the fitness industry feeds into this. Too many “lose 20 lbs in a week” programs, or “lose that weight without spending time in the gym”. Who wouldn’t want that!

There is nothing wrong with getting an amazing running start at your fitness program. You may even start by doing something every day, and that is all good!

When you start thinking, ” how am I going to keep this pace up”, or “there is no way I can do this the rest of my life”, that’s when you have to re-think what you are doing.

Going slow, as research shows, can be the most effective way to not just lose weight, but, more importantly, keep it off! That is the key! If you are doing the right things with your diet and exercise, you will lose weight. You can do something very drastic where you lose it quickly, but most of the time, those people have a hard time keeping it off because they haven’t changed bad habits. That is always the key, change bad habits. You may have many bad habits that have lead you to carrying more weight. If you focus on changing one at a time, instead of all at once, you will have a much easier time keeping weight off. Habits can change, that is important to know. We may think we can’t live without that donut, or cake. But if you gradually cut back, eventually you realize you aren’t craving it as much and CAN live without!

Until next time…

Being Safe While Exercising Outdoors!

It’s that time of year when all walkers/joggers/cyclist get outside for their exercise. I’m one of them! I love to cycle but don’t like getting bundled up just to be miserable in the cold. The challenge is that so many who do not normally get on the road don’t know the rules to follow (I almost hit one of them this morning).

If you are walking/jogging/running on the road, you should be going against traffic. I learned this many years ago as a man told me to do that so I can see the oncoming traffic, as they may not see you. A while back I was driving to work early in the morning and it was still dark. 2 men were walking in the lane, with traffic, dressed in dark clothing and I almost hit them. When you are facing traffic, it gives you the chance to get out of the way.

When biking, this is something that gets a little more dicey. If you are on a bike, you are a vehicle on the road. You can ride in a car lane, but you also have to abide by the same traffic laws, i.e, stopping at stop signs/lights, signaling when turning… you get the point. This makes many drivers furious as they see cyclist as an annoyance. As with anything else in life, there are those who follow the rules, and those who don’t. I have said many times I totally understand the frustration of drivers when dealing with cyclists who don’t follow the rules, HOWEVER, until I see all drivers following the rules of the road it doesn’t hold water.

I like to ride the paved trails too. This poses another “rules” issues in that it is just cyclists, runners and throw in roller bladers. The rules are simple but there is a higher chance of accidents happening for many reasons. It doesn’t get any easier that “stay to the right” no matter what direction you are going. When I pass someone on my bike, I yell “on your left” to let you know not to drift. Many times people will just change direction on the trail without look if someone is coming and that can be a disaster. Being aware of your surroundings would eliminate 99% of accidents that take place. Don’t get me started about wearing headphones but I have written about why I love to hear the sounds of NATURE!

Until next time….

Vegan Meals Are Great!

I love to eat. Maybe that is why I got into the fitness industry. And to be honest, I don’t judge or leave out any food group. That is the kind of person I am!

One area that gets kicked around a lot is the vegan diet. I am NOT a vegan, and have no plans to become one any time soon. I have a good friend who is and we get together for lunch periodically. A while back I decided to let him pick a vegan restaurant because going to a restaurant with a vegan is a pain!! It is just that most things on a regular menu has to be changed to fit a vegan diet. Going to a place that specializes in this diet opened my eyes! The place we go to is Lulu’s Local Eatery. It’s not a big place and you have to share tables at busy times. I love the Buffalo burger! Here is the deal with a vegan burger. I am not one of those people who eats a sweet potato and black bean burger and claim that it tastes just like a regular burger. It doesn’t! But this is what I have found when eat vegan dishes compared to a regular meat dish. I love a good bacon cheeseburger. To me there is nothing better. However, when I have one, I feel a bit sleepy after, usually from the higher fat content. That vegan buffalo burger is a full size burger, believe me! But when I finish, even though I am full, I’m not sleepy. Now, I know this is not an in depth research study but I do know how food affects me, and I take note when something like this happens.

It’s funny when you talk vegan with people. I always challenge clients to try things such as vegan eating. You don’t have to do it all the time but it really does open up a lot of recipes to you. And I bet you can find something that is very enjoyable that you could incorporate into your regular diet. And vegan cooking has come a long way! Give it a try!

Until next time…