Top 5 things you should do during your workout!

Have you ever dreaded going to they gym?  Felt a little overwhelmed by all the equipment, the size of the facility and all of the people?  And if you actually made it to the gym, were you unsure of where to start?  You’re not alone.  More than half of gym goers aren’t working out properly or making effective use of their time.  But who’s to blame them?   Gyms can be so overwhelming and without a personal trainer to assist it’s easy to get it wrong.

As a health and fitness coach, I cannot stress enough that the most important thing to remember is that everyone is at a different fitness level.  Do not expect to walk into a gym after not working out for sometime (or not at all) and do the same as others!  Your workout is for YOU and YOU only.  It’s your time to do something good for yourself!  Enjoy!  Who cares what everyone else is doing?

Your first goals need to be proper form and technique.  Slow and steady wins the race at the gym, otherwise injuries will occur.  If you’re unsure of a certain move or how to use a piece of equipment, ask a fitness professional at the gym to assist you.  Again, your safety comes first!  You only have one body so keep it safe.

The framework of the workout below can easily be adjusted to fit any fitness level and be accomplished either at the gym or at home.  It’s only FIVE different phases to use while creating a workout routine for your self.  It’s good to do your home work and go in with a plan.  That will make things less intimidating.

  1.  WARM-UP.  Warming up seems to be the one thing that most gym goers do not do or do not do effectively.  The funny thing is that it takes the least amount of time and prevents the most amount of injuries.  The warm up should include stretching, flexibility training and cardio, and on average take about 10 minutes total.Examples of an effective warm up are:
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    FOAM ROLLER:  TFL Stretch
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    STATIC STRETCH:  Standing Adductor
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    DYNAMIC STRETCH:  Tube Walking Side to SideIn addition to your stretching and flexibility training you’ll want to include cardio, about 5-10 minutes to your Warm-Up routine.  Treadmills, rowing machines or stationary bikes are great options to accomplish this.
  2. CORE/BALANCE/PLOYMETRIC.  The core (or abdomen) is the main hub of our body and needs, in my opinion, a signficant amount of time spent in developing it.  Think about how often you (should) use your core muscles.  It’s the center of all movement in the body and supports your posture and lower back and, with proper training can improve both.  Balance training links directly to the core and will help prevent lower lower extremity injuries.  For plyometric training it involves quick and powerful movements causing the muscle to contract, like a ‘cocking’ motion.  This doesn’t mean you have to complete all three types of training for this phase of your workout. Choose one or more depending on your fitness level.  Another option is to find exercises that incorporate all three moves. Examples of Core/Balance/Plyometric training are:
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    CORE:  Two-Leg Floor Bridge
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    CORE and BALANCE:  Single-Leg Lift and Chop
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    PLYOMETIC:  Squat Jump with Stabilization
  3. SPEED/AGILITY/QUICKNESS.  This may be something new to many of you, but what’s great about SAQ training is that it’s fun and effective.  (SAQ is the favorite phase of my workouts!)  It allows the body to enhance how you accelerate, decelerate and stabilize your entire body.  The speed gives you the ability to move your body in one intended direction as fast as possible.  The agility gives you the ability to accelerate, decelerate, stabilize, and change direction quickly while maintaining proper posture.  And the quickness gives you the ability to react and change your body position with maximal rate of force production, in all planes of motion and body positions.  The best way I can describe this phase of the workout is like playing Red Light, Green Light (taking you back to grade school).  Stop Go, Stop Go, Go Stop Go! Examples of SAQ are:
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    SAQ:  Box Drill, 10 yards each sprint98d24800080b405e80cfa8c29763b54e.jpg (736×348)
    SAQ:  Speed Ladders (using taped off boxes)
  4. RESISTANCE.  The resistance training phase is about the body increasing functional capacity.  In other words, building muscle.  It’s up to you how much or little time you want to spend here, and whether you’re looking to build muscle endurance, enlarge the muscles, build strength or increase power.  Again, everyone is at a fitness level and if you’re a beginner, you should choose endurance.  What’s great about resistance training is that you can use your own body weight, bands, free weights, medicine balls, strength machines, kettle bells, TRX and BOSU balls.Examples of Resistance training are:
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    Squat, Curl to Press
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    Push Ups
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    Standing Cable Row
  5. COOL-DOWN.  Ah, the cool down!  You’ve earned it.  This is the time to put yourself in a state of rest.  The cool down has tons of benefits like reducing your heart and breathing rates, cooling your body temperature and returning the muscles back to their optimal length.  It all sounds very scientific and there definitely is a science behind working out in general! Examples of a Cool Down are:
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    Foam Roller Stretch:  Hamstring
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    Static Stretching:  Soleus

And just like your Warm Up, you can Cool Down by getting back on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes at a SLOW pace to cool down the body.

A workout should take you about an hour in total if you’re only focused on one portion of your body (which I highly recommend).  Creating a workout schedule is really important.  For example, working out Monday, Wednesday and Friday is optimal, separating out muscle groups:  Monday: Back and Chest,  Wednesday: Legs, and Friday:  Shoulders and Arms.  This way your muscles rest in-between workouts and have time to recover.  I suggest writing this down on a calendar so you can plan out the entire month, and have accountability to it!

The important thing, with any workout, is to mix it up.  Don’t do the same routine over and over.  Not only will you become bored, but your muscles will get muscle memory and stop growing or strengthening and you’ll plateau.

It’s time to start enjoying your workouts again, and with the above routine I KNOW you will!

Got Flexibility Training in your Workout Routine?

Flexibility Training is a hot topic in the fitness community.  I hear things like… Is it really necessary to stretch or put in the effort to have a routine for flexibility?  I only have a short amount of time to put into my workout and don’t have time for flexibility training.  I’m not flexible, why bother?  Stretching does nothing for me.  I don’t get the burn I’m looking for.

Well, I cannot disagree more with these statements.  Flexibility Training is imperative to keeping your body strong and injury free.  Even 5 minutes can support your workout to be injury free and effective.  This is separate from your normal 5 minutes at the end of your workout – two very different things.

In this day and age, we live in a society where we are plagued by postural imbalances due to sedentary lifestyles technology and repetitive motions.  Between sitting in classrooms for multiple hours on end or sitting in an office cube for long hours, we have seen an increase in things like lower back and neck pain, carpel tunnel and of course an increase rate in obesity.  Flexibility Training is being recognized as an important way to aid in preventing of a number of injuries.  Flexibility Training is being recognized as an important way to aid in preventing a number of injuries.  I had to repeat this because sometimes we’re so focused on the end goal that we forget about a few steps we need to take to get there.

So what is Flexibility anyway?  Flexibility is the normal extensibility of all soft tissue that allows the full range of motion of a joint.  In other words, having the capability of elongating or stretching out a particular muscle.  And why is flexibility so important?  Because when you are unable to extend or elongate a particular muscle, you could injure that muscle or end up using a different muscle to compensate.  Either way, it isn’t good and will end up with some type of issue long-term.

Have I sold you on Flexibility Training yet?  Think about this, have you ever been working out and felt this knot in the center of your back?  Hurts so badly that you have to cut your workout short?  This isn’t a normal workout burn.  This is a tightness (like a Charlie-horse) that feels like it’s going to rip out of your back.  Sound familiar?  Maybe not in your back, but in your arm or leg?  This is due to not adding Flexibility Training into your routine.  You see, if you spent a few minutes working out that tightness in your muscle BEFORE your workout, you might have avoided this.

Flexibility Training should be done prior to your regular workout.  Sounds strange, I know.  It’s different from stretching.  Your stretching routine should be kept at the end of your workout.  But for Flexibility Training, you need 5-10 minutes focusing on areas where you feel like you have muscle imbalance or where you already know you have some aches or pains!

The best way to understand where your aches, pains or muscle imbalances are is to use a foam roller.  If you don’t have one, I suggest getting one.  Typically gyms have them but I keep portable one in my gym bag.  They come in all shapes and sizes, however, I suggest getting a regular foam roller to start out with (as in photo).

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When thinking about your Flexibility Training routine and using a foam roller, you’ll want to consider a few muscle groups that they are particularly helpful for:  Calves, Outer hips to knee (TFL), Inner and Outer Thighs (Abductor and Adductor Magnus) and Back/Lats.  These are major muscle groups and will be helpful when starting out your Flexibility Training.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Complete BEFORE your workout.
  2. Find a level area at the gym or home where you have plenty or space.
  3. Use a foam roller that is stiff, not overused or flat.
  4. When rolling, roll slowly.  Once you find an area that is tender or knotted, STOP and HOLD for at least 30 seconds to work out that muscle.  This is one of the most important steps.
  5. Complete 3-5 times.

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So, get up a few minutes early, starting today, to add in these simple foam roller exercises into your workout.  Because of the Flexibility Training, you’ll have a great workout, injury free and more effective than your last!

No Gym Membership? No Problem. Create your own gym at home with these 5 things!

I gotta tell you, for someone who enjoys working out like I do, I do not like going to the gym.  It’s not my favorite place to go.  It’s not my happy place.  It’s not my sanctuary.  I can survive just fine without it.  When I started working out about 10 years ago, I did join a large gym, and still have that membership to this day.  I fight myself about getting rid of it, however, they have some good spin instructors there, and it’s cheaper than joining a spin club.  So alas, I’m charged monthly for it and I only use it for that!!!

For me, the gym is overwhelming.  There’s tons of equipment and people.  I find, depending on the hour, it’s less about working out and more about flirting.  Ugh.  That’s just not my style.  I like to get in, get out and get on with life!  So what’s a girl to do?  I’m very fortunate that I have a workout space in my home.  My husband and I created it when we bought our home a few years ago, and it’s priceless.  We’ve added to it over the years, but it’s still simple and approachable.  And the best thing about it…I don’t have to leave the comfort of my home to get my sweat on!!!

So where do you start when creating a home gym?  Everyone is at different fitness levels.  However, the five things I’ve chosen can be for any fitness level.  You control the reps, resistance, length and just how hard you want your workout to be.  Simple!

Here are few pointers to create your home gym, for a fraction of what you would pay at your local gyms.  Plus, you can work out in the privacy of your home while watching the show on tv (or tablet) that you want to watch!  Ha, take that over-priced commercial gym.  Now you have no excuse not to give yourself some time to look and feel better!!!

Jump Rope
I don’t know of a cardio machine at the gym that can get your heart rate up like a jump rope.  Have you done this recently?  I could barely get in 30 seconds before wanting to fall over.  I did splurge on this and get the 3-in-1 jump rope.  This one cost $6.47, but you can get them for much less.  What I liked about this style versus the others was that the rope is completely adjustable.  You can customize to your height.  In addition to that, it has rubber grips and removable weights that store in the handles.  You can google “jump rope workouts” and get tons of workout ideas or simply create your own by making one up!
Cost:  $2-$12
Sample Workouts:  Start with 30 seconds jumping, rest 10 and continue for 5 minutes; or try this 10 minute routine.
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Resistance Band
These are great and just like the jump rope, compact, and can fit in any space.  You can even travel with them.  These come in many different styles from a rubber band type to ones with handles and are adjustable in resistance.  I have both, and use them for any exercise you would typically use in resistance training: bicep curls, chest flies, squats or triceps curls.  All within a small space.
Cost:  $7-$30
Sample Workouts:
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Stability Ball
If you’re house doesn’t have a stability ball, go out and get one today.  Yes, these do take up a little bit of space when blown up, but can be easily tucked away in a closet for storing.  From planks to leg tuck crunches, the stability ball will support you in your ab work beyond expectation.  Because you’re actually ‘unstable’ on it, you have to use more muscles AND you tend to slow down the speed which is even better for strength training.  Burn more calories and build muscle?  I’m in!  Please note that they come in multiple sizes based off your height, so read up prior to purchasing.
Cost:  $15-$40
Sample Workouts:  Sit Ups or V-Pass,  Wheel Barrow or Wheel Outs and Plank
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Yoga Mat
Yoga mats can be used for so many things.  I typically keep mine out 24/7 so I’m inspired to stretch, do yoga or a quick plank anytime I’m inclined!  They come in a variety of colors and thickness to support you and your fitness needs.  These too are portable and can be stored in the closet or under the bed.
Cost:  $9-$20
Sample Workouts:  Yoga routines (I like the yoga studio app) planks or stretches.
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This is the one exercise I will never get used to, step ups!  Hurts so good.  What I love about the step is you can continue to build upon them and make them higher or challenge yourself to jump up, over and around them or increase your pace!  This will be the biggest purchase of them, but if you find the right ones, you’ll have them forever and you can easily store them under the bed or in a closet.  Another option is to find someone who can build a set for you – even better.  Either way, they need to be in your workout!
Cost:  $28-$100
Sample Workouts:  Lateral step ups and Jump Ups
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On the low-end, you’ll spend around $60 to build your in home gym.  A typical gym membership will cost you an entry fee plus monthly fees, adding up to approximately $450.  That’s a significant savings!

If you’re starting out fresh and haven’t worked out before or haven’t worked out in a while, do your research FIRST.  Review links and consult a physician if you need to ensure you can do these types or any type of physical activity.  Start slow, be cautious of your surroundings to protect yourself from injuries!

We only get ONE body.  Use it properly!