June 9, 2014
As a cyclist I am always looking for effective ways to cross train my legs. I've found some exercises that work your core, quadraceps, hamstrings, glutes & calves. These three leg exercises are my favorite.
Leg workouts are great for a number of reasons. They help to improve your cardiovascular endurance and core strength. That means they can help with weightlifting, too. Leg workouts also help to increase and maintain bone density. This can help to decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis. In addition, strengthening the legs will help to put less stress on your bones and joints.
So, perform each exercise one time then repeat all three exercises two more times.
Dumbbell Step-Ups with Alternating Legs
Start with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing the sides of your legs. The right leg steps up on a step or bench extending your hip and knee. The left leg steps up so both legs are on the step. Right leg returns to floor and left leg follows. Remember to keep your torso upright. Continue the sequence for 1 minute. Repeat it with your left leg for 1 minute.
Do this exercise 3 times a week.
Dumbbell Step-Ups with One Leg
Start with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing the sides of your legs. The right leg steps up on a step or bench extending your hip and knee. The left leg hangs straight as you extend the right leg, then shift your weight coming down on your left leg. Raise your body up and down on your right leg for 30 seconds. Repeat on your left side.
Perform this exercise 3 times a week.
Backward Lunge with Forward Leg Kick
From a standing position, step back with your right foot to perform a reverse lunge, keeping the other foot planted. Instead of just returning to the standing position, push with your planted (left) leg and kick your right foot out in front of you. After you kick, perform another reverse lunge without stopping to begin the next rep. Repeat for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat the previous steps.
Do this exercise 3 times a week.
When these are done regularly they will increase your stability and strengthen your legs.
May 26, 2014
Can you still work out if you have been injured or if you're suffering from chronic aches and pains? Of course you can.
There are rarely reasons to take a hiatus from exercise. After all, you use your body parts every single day. I would encourage you to do whatever you can to keep your body moving. It enhances your body's ability to improve circulation. Your blood contains oxygen and promotes repair of injuries and cell growth and repair to the affected area. The cells in the body regenerate and repair by reducing the size of the damaged tissue and replace it with new living tissue. This is important in the recovery of your injured area.
There is also a well recognized interrelationship between hormones, nutrition, and wound healing. When tissue is repaired, the anabolic process of protein synthesis requires the action of anabolic hormones. When outside forces such as exercise occurs, it helps to maintain or increase lean body mass as well as directly stimulate the healing process through anabolic or anticatabolic actions.
Of course, you are going to have to modify your routine a bit…. Don’t think of an injury as an obstacle it is merely an opportunity to concentrate on other body parts.
Look at the injury as an opportunity
Repetitve motion can in itself create an injury. We frequently work the same parts in the same way, even though we know it is best to mix up the way we exercise a body part. Use this time to work on different parts of the body more intensly. One thing you don't want to happen while healing in one spot is muscle atrophy from lack of exercise everywhere else. Let's say you have tendonitis in your elbow. Use this time to work more intently on your core, shoulders, or legs. It might be a good time to learn some core pilates exercises or yoga meditation.
Was the injury preventable?
Sometimes we get so caught up in the endorphin rush we forget that our body does need to rest between activities. Pushing too hard or too often can be harmful. Overuse can strain or sprain muscles and without enough rest to rebuild they can get injured more easily. If we continue to weaken that body part, over time it can become a chronic injury. Are you warming up and stretching enough afterwards? Working too hard when you're tired or in pain? Awareness of your body's limitations can help in staying injury free.
Will it work for me?
Absolutely. My client Jerry had a chronic knee and back problem. We discovered that he would sit on the couch for long periods of time, usually after playing ping pong and pickleball. That sitting put a big strain on his back. Years of backpacking and hiking had weakend his otherwise healthy right knee. We worked on developing a stronger core and upper body while the other parts healed. Once healed we returned to the injured body parts strengthening and stretching them as well as the muscles surrounding. Once he could play again, his pickleball game quickly began to improve due to his added upper body strength.
What can I do?
Always consult your physician first to make sure you’re healthy enough to exercise during your recovery and to find out what if any movements you might need to avoid. Then try to get back in to your routine, which you've worked hard to maintain. Let's say you ran or did cardio 3 times a week regularly and for now you cannot be on your feet. Try swimming, arm cycling, seated recumbant biking or even chair aerobics to get that heart rate elevated the way it's used to being worked.
The Rice Principle
As a general guideline, the acronym RICE should serve as the basis of treatment for most minor injuries. R stands for rest – that is, either take a few days off or reduce your training intensity and volume. I stands for ice – ice the affected area to reduce pain and swelling. A good guideline is to ice the area for 15 minutes every two hours to reduce pain and swelling. C stands for compression – apply pressure to the area with an elastic bandage or wrap to minimize inflammation and damage from excessive swelling. E stands for elevation – that is, elevate the affected limb to assist in the drainage of fluid.
The bottom line is to keep the body moving. The healing process will improve faster and you will feel better from head to toe.
Do 15 reps on each side. Repeat 4 times a week.
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Where do you think they are getting the idea for the need to diet and lose weight? Sure media plays a big role but it’s a lot closer to home than that! A young girl’s mother is her most important role model. Values, principles and beliefs are instilled at such a young age and last a lifetime. If a young girl believes you have to be skin and bones to be attractive, she will struggle with her weight and body image for the rest of her life.
- Learn to love your own body.
Easier said than done! You may have 30+ years of media brain-washing to try to overcome but your daughters can still be saved! At the very least, never comment on your own body in a negative manner, especially in front of your daughters. And as often as you can, point out what your love about yourself.
- Never comment on other women’s bodies and compare them to your own.
Avoid scanning magazines with your daughters and remarking “I’d love to have her legs” or “I wish I could wear that” or “She’s so skinny and perfect”. Instead, when looking at magazines ask your daughters if they know that each of the models are made-up for hours and air-brushed to create the final unrealistic image. Discuss with them how distorted and unhealthy this is. Talk to them about the scary consequences of these unrealistic ideals such as poor body image, extreme dieting, anorexia, bulimia, and death. Openly and regularly discuss these issues.
- Promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
Diets don’t work for you or your daughters. Instead focus on encouraging your daughters to eat lots of fruits, vegetables and drink lots of water – not because it’ll keep them thin but rather, keep them healthy. Avoid exercising excessively. What message are you giving to your daughters if you remark “I’ve got to get to the gym to burn off that piece of chocolate cake” or if you consistently sacrifice other things in your life because you have to get to the gym? Remember little eyes are always watching and taking mental notes. Teach them you workout because you love your body not so that you can love your body. There’s a big difference!
- Be watchful of the men in your home – husbands, grandpas, sons etc.
Do they make digs about other women’s, yours or your daughter’s body? Are they constantly discussing women’s bodies? If so, deal with it immediately. Make sure they understand how harmful, hurtful and damaging their remarks can be. Be sure they know that any further comments are inappropriate and unacceptable and will be dealt with.
- If you do notice your daughter is practicing unhealthy eating and exercising habits, stay calm but seek help immediately.
Consult with your physician to get a referral to see someone who specializes in this area. There may be something you can do before things get worse.
April 28, 2014
High intensity workouts have been proven to work but may not be the magical solution they're cracked up to be.
High intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, can push your heart rate up to 75 percent of maximum or more and has been proven to increase metabolism and burn more calories. Another type of workout called Tabata boasts similar benefits.
Just where did HIIT Training or Tabata begin and why are they so popular?
Here's some background on the two systems. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise, developed to improve running performance by German coach Woldemar Gerschler in the mid1930s. It consists of bursts of intense exercise lasting as long as 4 minutes with recovery periods in between. HIIT sessions may vary from 4 to 30 minutes. Gerschler's system enabled greater intensities because the periods of rest or easy running allowed partial recovery. This training faded in the 1940s then reemerged after Czech long distance runner Emil Zatopek won three gold medals during the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Zapotek had used the technique in his training.
Tabata was established in 1996 by Izumi Tabata of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Japan. Tabata studied Olympic speedskaters and the body's ability to efficiently use oxygen during extreme exercise. Tabata is a form of high intensity exercise, again, based on short intervals of ultra intense training lasting about 4 minutes.
Different stresses such as sleep deprivation, nutrition, medications, work, kids and life also play a part in how much energy and time we have to devote to our exercise regime, as well as how it effects us afterwards. Many people like this kind of exercise because they can get fit in a short amount of time. But they're also at increased risk, resulting in orthopedic injuries or cardiovascular complications if they aren’t accustomed to this kind of exercise. I do believe it can be beneficial if the program is designed for the individual person doing it. Safety should be an important consideration.
Here's the thing: high intensity workouts are appealing because... who would want to walk/run 4 hours a week when you can spin like a maniac and get the same results in 12 minutes?
There's a valid reason for either choice or even a mix of both. I exercise not just for the results but also for the beauty and feeling of bodily movement. A long run or walk makes me feel energized and fulfilled. That's something I can't get in 12 minutes of HIIT. But I can also appreciate a results oriented-workout. HIIT may not be fun, but the results are satisfying.
The ultimate decision of how you're going to exercise and what you're going to do is yours. You know your body. Listen to it. If it tells you you're overdoing it with consistent aches, pains and injuries then maybe it's time to take it slower or not so intensely.
Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. Go all 3 days, 2 days or even 1 day per week. Even once a week can make a difference!
In my early 30s I started running for exercise. If you were to ask me then if I thought I'd ever run a marathon I would have said no.
But in my early 40s I started power walking. I couldn't do much at first. Over time I was covering as much as 21 miles on a power walk, not realizing I was developing the stamina to run a marathon. What was happening is that I was taking it one step at a time. At 51 I ran my first marathon.
I like to think of at least three steps toward attaining a goal. You might come up with more, but a beginning, a middle and a final step work quite well.
So if you are starting from scratch and want to be able to walk 10 miles, the first step might be to just walk one. Forget about the other nine. Pretend those don't even exist. Drive down to the fire road on the ranch and park at the trail head, enjoy the beautiful views of the Pacific, and walk half way on the fire road and turn around and return back. There. That's a mile. Do this again and again until it's your standard walk.
In step two, start pushing it further and further until you walk the length of the fire road and return. Now you're walking two miles. Do that until it becomes your standard. Once you've got a base down, you can now start lengthening your walks toward your 10 mile goal. In fact, I think the final step is usually the easiest to get motivated for.
 Exercise with a Friend
What a great way to set yourself up to be accountable. When you are there to get someone out of the house and they are there for you, your chances of success just go up. Maybe your friend is a dog? That works too. From my own personal experience, dogs do a pretty good job of cajoling their humans to get outside and exercise with them.
 Reward Yourself
Reward yourself for those small steps you take toward reaching that goal. Not to be too tongue in cheek, but I'm not talking about rewarding yourself by not having to exercise. A new pair of walking shoes or outfit, a book you wanted to read or a play you've been wanting to see might be a little more realistic. Some of the best rewards align with your exercise goals themselves. When you attain your ability to walk 10 miles, perhaps a great goal would be a vacation to beautiful spot like Yosemite or Yellowstone National Parks.