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: Full Workout #4

DSC_5552Since I've spent the last week and a half being inducted into the CrossFit world, I figured it was only appropriate for me to bring you a CrossFit-inspired workout this morning. Many CrossFit workouts feature two or three exercises performed in a repeating circuit for time. While bicycle crunches and tricep dips aren't necessarily a main part of the CrossFit repertoire, the workout I've laid out below should make you feel very accomplished (and sweaty!) by the time that you're done.

Do five rounds for time of:

15 reps deadlift

20 reps bicycle crunches

15 reps tricep dips

DSC_4332Deadlifts - I know I say this all the time, but it is essential that you use a heavy bar for this exercise. The bar I have in the top picture is not heavy enough. For reference, I recently did a workout in which I deadlifted 95 lbs. in sets of five reps for seven rounds. You can do at least half of that. Give it a shot, focus on keeping good form, and you won't regret it!

Bicycle crunches - this workout is for time, meaning that you should be doing all of the exercises quickly. However, you need to be especially careful that speeding up your bicycle crunches doesn't destroy your good form, which is a frequent occurrence in ab exercises. One rep is turning to the right once and the left once. You should be counting "left, right - 1." "Left, right - 2." Hopefully that makes sense. Do not let your legs start to flail or your elbows start collapsing in around your head. If that happens, slow down - doing these crunches slowly with good form will be far better for you than doing them quickly with bad form.

Tricep dips - you guys can do these no problem. Again, don't get tired and let your technique slip! You're better than that.

As always, remember to jog or bike or a few minutes in order to warm up. And don't forget to stretch!

DSC_1996Guys, it's starting to feel like it just isn't my week. Yesterday morning a light came in on my car warning of an exhaust system malfunction - just what you want to hear when you're about to go get some cavities filled! So I will likely be spending a sizable portion of today bringing my car into the auto repair shop and trying not to have a heart attack when they tell me how much it will cost to fix. I did, however, get my car stereo replaced yesterday, which was probably the most exciting thing to happen to me this week. I can now use my iPhone to play music (and podcasts, and driving directions) through my car stereo. And yes, it does feel nice to have finally entered the 2010s. Things are fancy here.

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!