Be Well: Full Workout #5

You know I love weighted workouts. You know that I recommend incorporating weights into your workouts whenever possible. However, there are some occasions where using weights just isn't feasible. For example, I often like to go on runs around my neighborhood on weekends. While it would be great to do a few strengthening exercises after my run, I don't have gym equipment available at my apartment. So, I turn to body weight exercises like the ones below. Follow this workout after running around a neighborhood track or swimming in the pool in your backyard. It always helps to add just a little more bang to your fitness buck!

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Do 20 reps of each exercise below in order, with no breaks between exercises. Repeat once.

Lunges (non-weighted)

Bicycle Crunches

Walk Out to Pushup with Twist

Bicycle Crunches

Burpees

Bicycle Crunches

Tricep Dips (if a surface of an appropriate height isn't available, get in a "crab" position and do tricep dips that way)

Bicycle Crunches

Repeat

DSC_6251Oh man friends, yesterday was a rough day. Rough. Day. The good thing is that it's highly unlikely that today will be worse, and highly likely that today will be a great day (especially by comparison). And yesterday, on my roughest day in awhile, my life was still just a really good life. When I was driving my husband to work this morning, he told me he had spent some time that morning reflecting on the fact that we occupy such a fortunate place in an already fortunate country - can you even fathom how small the odds are that we've gotten to live this blessed, blessed life when so many people encounter real, painful need in their everyday lives? I can't. So no more whining about days being rough for me - life is good, food is plentiful, friends are many, and happy moments abound. I hope you're feeling similarly today.

Have a great Wednesday.

Be Well: The Time Tradeoff

I found myself in a situation yesterday morning where I had an awkward 10-15 minutes for weight training after finishing a cardio workout. I had decided to do a 30-minute sprint running workout that morning, but in the workout planning stages I just didn't put much thought into what I would do for weights afterwards (I know - what's wrong with me?!). When I got off the treadmill with only 15 minutes or so to go before I needed to head to the locker room, I ended up spending a bunch of time vacillating between various weightlifting options. I couldn't decide what would get me the most bang for my buck (er, minute), so I ended up wasting my minutes instead. No bueno.

So, I came home tonight, flipped through the exercises I have featured on this blog so far, and came up with three that give you a great all-around workout when you only have a little bit of time. Really, spending 15 minutes doing any kind of weightlifting at all is far better than dedicating those 15 minutes to "stretching" and "abs" AKA laying on your back on a mat feeling lazy. But since you've already decided to spend those 15 minutes weightlifting, you might as well have some direction!

Major disclaimer: I am not suggesting that you plan all of your workouts where weight training is a 10-minute afterthought. Instead, on the days where you've decided to do a "cardio day" but still have time for weights (you always want to maximize your time in the gym - you're already there, might as well make it worth it!), you should turn to these exercises for a more well-rounded gym experience. Weightlifting-focused days should definitely be a part of your fitness routine!

Now, the exercises!DSC_5558

1) Deadlifts. I can't say enough good things about how wonderful deadlifts are. They're great for your legs and you won't be panting afterwards, so you can move right into your next exercise. Win-win. DSC_2016

2) Tricep dips. You can do these straight from doing deadlifts, so you can get in a great leg and arm workout. Plus, tricep dips do a great job working the entire arm (with very little necessary equipment) so it's easy to incorporate them quickly into a workout.DSC_0742_2

3) Kettlebell swings. If you're only doing one weights exercise, do kettlebell swings. They get your heart rate up AND provide a great lifting workout for your arms and your legs. Win-win-win.

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So, I realize I am the ditziest blogger ever and, after entitling yesterday's post "Mystery Date," totally forgot to fill you guys in on the answer to the mystery. The mystery location: Benu! It was fancy and filling and amazing and just an all-around wonderful outing. Sorry about being so mysterious :)

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!