Be Well: Full Workout #3

Happy Workout Wednesday! This week I've got my third full workout to share with you guys, this time with a slightly different format. I hope you try it, like it, and find it challenging! So here we go:

Start with five minutes of stretching. This workout involves sprinting, and I recently strained my left hamstring after sprinting with no warm up, so the importance of stretching has been on my mind! One really great stretch is to get in a lunge position, interlock your fingers and stretch your arms up over your head, and then lean side to side and push your hips back and forth, side to side, in order to stretch all of your upper leg and hip muscles. Repeat on the other side.

Next, hop on an exercise bike and bike at low to medium intensity for five minutes. If you don't have an exercise bike at your disposal, you can run or do the stairmaster (but no elliptical!). Spend the first two minutes riding easy to get your muscles warmed up, and then finish out the remaining minutes at a medium clip to get your blood pumping.

Rest for one minute.

DSC_4300_2Next, spent one minutes doing squats.

DSC_0718Spend the next minute doing plank walks.

DSC_1996Spend the third minute doing tricep dips.

Now repeat the circuit two more times - first, bike for five minutes, then rest for a minute, then do one minute each of squats, plank walks, and tricep dips.

During your second five minutes of biking, start at medium intensity and work your way up to hard intensity during the block. During your last block of biking, try to sprint the entire time. You can do that while either sitting down or standing up on the bike - it's your preference.

After this, your lungs, legs, arms, and abs should all be burning. You might be exhausted, but your body will thank you later!

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Although commitment and stability are things I crave deeply in my human relationships, those needs do not transfer over AT ALL to my feelings about my workout routine. While I want to come home to the same person every night (you would too if you met my husband), I can't stand being tied down to a certain workout regimen - I never like frequenting exercise classes in my gym for fear of becoming a "regular" and feeling obligated to go, and I even struggle with whether or not I even want to maintain my gym membership. I tend to shop for new workouts with greater intensity than I shop for new clothes - I love learning about new kinds of exercise, and then creating a kind of a weekly workout salad of those new discoveries, incorporating everything from pilates to CrossFit, from barre to half marathon training, into one week of workouts. Especially here in San Francisco where there are so many niche workout facilities, the siren song of CrossFit, yoga studios, barre workouts, and free-standing cycling classes sometimes makes me want to cheat on Old Faithful, my very run-of-the-mill gym, in favor of something...new. I'm not really sure where I'm going with all of this, but my thoughts strayed to new, unexplored, exciting workouts today and now all I can think about is putting those dreams into action. After all, variety is the secret ingredient to staying out of a workout rut and keeping in great shape...but variety can be expensive! If only I had unlimited money to try out any and every workout studio out there...dare to dream, right?

Be Well: Full Workout #2

This week I'm back with my second full workout! Many of the exercise pairings below have been inspired by the workouts I've been doing in the gym lately, so I hope you like them!

As I said last time, start with 15-30 minutes of cardio. You can skip it if you're short on time (since this workout is designed to keep your heartrate up when done correctly) but if you do have time, it's always good to put your heart to work. Again, opt for cardio exercises that will challenge you - sprint workouts are always good. Try to stay away from the elliptical machine.

After you're done with your cardio, complete the following circuit for a full-body workout:

Set 1: Deadlifts and Walkout Pushups to Twist

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Start with 10 deadliftsYou should be lifting a heavy weight. Yesterday I did 5-6 sets of 5 reps of deadlifts with 115 lbs. And I could have gone heavier. You should be lifting at least half of that. And I would strongly consider doing more. The more you do, the stronger your legs and glutes will be - that means slimmer, firmer legs!

DSC_6305Next, do 10 walkouts to pushup with a twist. You should go straight from the deadlifts to these pushups - resting in between sets will only let your heartrate drop and therefore make your workout less effective. Remember to keep your abs tight, back flat, and lower yourself until your arms are at 90-degree angles. This should be a great complement to the muscles you used in your deadlifts.

Now rest for 30 seconds, then repeat this circuit two more times - 10 deadlifts, 10 walkout pushups to twist, 30 seconds rest.

Set 2: Bicep Curl to Overhead Press and Squats

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After the 30 seconds of rest on the tail end of Set 1, go straight into 10 reps of bicep curls to overhead presses. Remember, keep your abs tight, don't arch your back, and you can always balance on one foot to make the reps more difficult. As always, using heavy weights is key! DSC_4300_2Next, move directly into doing 10 squats. Choose a heavy weight (I never do squats with a body bar as pictured above; that was unfortunately the only bar that was available back when I took these pictures) and keep your weight in your heels and your back flat and strong.

Now rest for 30 seconds. Then repeat Set 2 two more times - 10 bicep curls to overhead presses, 10 squats, 30 seconds rest.

Set 3: Kettlebell Swings and Bent Over Rows

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Last set! First, start with 10 kettlebell swings (I'm guessing I don't need to reiterate the importance of a heavy kettlebell?). Don't forget to bend through the knees and lift with your legs!

DSC_5583Next, do 10 bent over rows. Advice on these is pretty much the same as the advice on everything else - keep good form, don't hurt your back!

Now rest for 30 seconds.

Finally, repeat Set 3 two more times - 10 kettlebell swings, 10 bent over rows, 30 seconds rest. And there you have it! You should feel good and tired by this point.

Has anyone else watched this SNL sketch over and over since it aired on Saturday night? (Here's hoping that NBC doesn't force them to take down that video between the time of me writing this and the time of you reading it.) I'm kind of obsessed. I wish I was a good enough dancer to make dancing in a tofu outfit look good.

Have a great Wednesday!

Be Well: Full Workout #1

As promised, I have my first full workout to share with you guys today! Here I've combined five of the exercises that I've already demonstrated on this blog into a 30-45 minute workout. Instructions and links back to the original demonstration posts are below. Give it a try, and let me know how you fare!

1) Start with 15-20 minutes of challenging cardio. Running or the stairmaster are generally my cardio activities of choice. Try an interval workout for a more effective use of your 15 minutes. If you like to get your cardio workout in on a stationary bike, definitely try an interval workout - when I bike, I alternate between two minutes of riding at a normal pace and one minute of sprinting. It really brings your biking cardio workout to another level. Finally, do me (and yourself) a favor and stay away from the elliptical (unless you have a recent/healing knee injury). There are very, very few instances when getting on the elliptical isn't a giant waste of your time. It's much too easy to slack off on them, and the elliptical calorie counters are flat-out lying to you.

2) Repeat the following circuit three times. Exercises should be done back to back with no rest in between.

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a. 1 minute of sumo deadlift high pulls

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b. 1. minute of plank walks

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c. 1 minute of squat to overhead press

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d. 1 minute bent over row

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e. 1 minute bicycle crunches

f. 1 minute rest

To recap, that's 1 minute sumo deadlift high pulls, 1 minute plank walks, 1 minute squat to overhead press, 1 minute bent over row, 1 minute bicycle crunches, 1 minute rest.

In all of these, you should be lifting heavy weights. I recommend (for girls) at least a 20 lb. kettlebell for the high pulls, at least 12 lb. dumbbells for the squat to overhead press, and at least a 20 lb. bar (or 10 lb. free weights) for the bent over rows. And don't be afraid to go up in weight! If your body isn't completely tired by the end of the first circuit, you need to add more weight.

Well, there you go - I hope you enjoy my first full workout. Have a great Wednesday!

Be Well: Squats

Squats are such a staple exercise, and yet I've noticed that many girls tend to shy away from them due to unfamiliarity with the equipment and technique. I've put together a short tutorial below to start to combat that unfamiliarity - I hope it's helpful!

Start with your weight across your back, feet shoulder-width apart.

Slowly send your hips back while you concentrate your weight in your heels and pull your toes up towards your shins. This will help you keep your knees from going too far over your ankles, which can cause injury. Additionally, keep your back flat.

Keep squatting until your upper legs are near a 90 degree angle with your lower legs.

Once you've gotten to 90 degrees, slowly rise back up. Repeat 15-20 times, rest for a minute, and then do another set.

Also of major importance - the weight of your bar. I used a 20 lb. body bar for this demonstration because that was what was available in the part of the gym where I could non-awkwardly take pictures, but I usually do squats with at least a 40 lb. bar. To be honest, I should really be squatting much more than that - you will be amazed by how naturally strong your legs are, and you should be trying to challenge them even more with this exercise.

I was in a doctor's office yesterday, and the magazine in the rack in front of me was Health. I couldn't help but notice that every single thing printed on the cover promised that you could be thinner, happier, healthier, more flexible, etc. - all in very little time with very little effort. I want to be honest here in this blog - that is just not how life works. Getting healthy, fit, and strong requires time and dedication. Much more time and dedication, in fact, than I have been putting into my own life. So let's work on this together, shall we? Let's set realistic expectations and realistic goals, and hopefully that will end up with all of us being happy with who you are while we reside in this thing called reality. My goal for tomorrow: eat lunch with my friends. It's unrealistic to expect them to always be there for you if you ignore them for weeks on end, even when you have a good excuse.

Good luck with your Wednesday goals!