Thursday, January 17, 2013
One of the big buzzes in the fitness world today is HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. What this means is working at super-high intensities for a short period, then at a lower recovery intensity for a short period, over and over, again for about 20 minutes or so.
There are several advantages to this, but here are my three favorites:
1. It helps to develop your system to be able to do longer, steady-state cardio at a higher intensity, therefore increasing your heart strength. This has the domino effect of burning more of calories during ALL of your cardio sessions, even the longer, steady-state ones.
2. According to studies, it keeps you burning calories longer AFTER the workout than regular steady-state cardio does. (This "after burn", by the way, is referred to EPOC. For the life of me, I can never remember what that acronym stands for.)
3. It gets the misery over quicker.
A good way to get started with HIIT sessions is to do a 3 minute warm-up, then move on to 15 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 1 minute and 45 seconds of a recovery jog pace. Repeat this 2-minute cycle (15 seconds fast, 1:45 jog) until you get to the 20 minute mark, then do a 2-minute cool down.
Over time you can increase the work phase by 15 seconds and decrease the jog phase by 15 seconds, until you get to a minute of each. This is very effective. It also starts to get boring.
So here is a HIIT plan I adapted from something I read in one of my fitness publications. The beauty of it is that as your strength increases, your pace will, too. It grows with you. I'll post it like you are on a bike, but you can adapt this for any piece of cardio equipment:
- Start through 3:00- Warmup
- For each minute through 8:00, increase the intensity by 1-2 levels, keeping your RPM's between 60 and 70. By the time you get to minute 8:00, you should be struggling to keep your RPM's in the target range of 60-70.
- 8:00-10:00 Lower the resistance to your warm-up level and free wheel at a recovery jog pace.
- 10:00-11:00, move the level up to what your highest level was in the first round (minute 7:00-8:00) and pedal as fast as you can. (This should be REALLY hard by the end of the minute- Push through!)
- 11:00-12:00, back to recovery jog level/pace
- Repeat those two minutes (1 minute hard as possible at highest level with 1 minute recovery) four more times. This should bring you to 20:00 on your timer.
- 20:00-22:00 cool down.
At this point, you should be dripping in sweat and more than ready for the blessed cardio session to end already. If you aren't, you didn't work hard enough.
And if you were able to keep up with an episode of "I didn't know I was pregnant" while doing this routine, you weren't working hard enough, either. :-D
I'd recommend giving at least 48 hours between HIIT sessions. Especially to start. Or at least switch machines frequently. Just like any other exercise strategy, mixing it up is always the safest thing for the body. While it's a wonderful form of cardio, I've found HIIT can be pretty taxing on the system and injuries are more likely if there is not adequate rest between sessions.
Let me know what you think!
Friday, December 28, 2012
"I want your abs!".
I get this comment a lot. While I know it's meant as a compliment, some of the people who say this are seriously trying to get abs just like mine. They will write me telling me they've eaten what I eat, exercised like I exercise, and done their level best to emulate me. And still they don't have my abs. They want to know what they are doing wrong.
And here is my answer: Nothing. They are doing nothing wrong.
See, other people doing what I do to get my abs is the equivalent of me doing what Figure Pro Erin Stern does to get her legs. Try as I might, I'll never have Erin's legs, because I am not Erin.
My lower half will always be my weak point, the place where I will always wish I could improve. There are broken veins and even at 10% body fat, when they are looking the best they can, there is always at least a little cellulite. To add insult to injury, at body fat that low there's also saggy skin right under my glutes.
So what's a bottom-heavy girl to do? I capitalize on my abs, arms, shoulders, and back (I have awesome back muscles!). I show these parts off. I hide my legs as much as I need to so that they don't take away from the beauty of my upper body.
This doesn't mean I don't work on my lower body, because I do. I work REALLY hard on it- Not only do I want to see improvement there, but those big muscles also burn the most fat. And I need to keep my fat levels low for the sake of my health. For me it's about more way more than appearance- It's about being healthy and balanced.
But I have accepted that my legs and glutes will never be my strong suit. And you may need to accept that your abs will never be yours. Or whatever body part makes you crazy.
There are parts of your physique you can reshape: My shoulders are naturally very slight. I have worked to build muscle on them to help balance my wide hips. I've built up my back for the same reason. I've added muscle, and therefore definition, to my arms.
But some things (like wide waists, big calves, and bubble butts) can't be changed with diet and exercise. You might be very lean and still have a waist measurement almost the same as your hips, a bust line that is more than generous, or muscular calves that will never fit into a pair of skinny jeans. Like me, you might have to get down to an unsustainable and unhealthy body fat level to get true symmetry to your physique. The sooner you accept that the healthiest thing may for you may not be the most asthetically pleasing, the sooner you will be content with your body.
Change what you can, accept what you can't, aim for health over all, and celebrate the uniqueness of YOU!
Friday, December 28, 2012
You know what I think is one of the biggest reasons people don't lose weight on a program? Because they don't follow the program in it's entirety. They do part of it, but not all of it. They hire a coach and do the exercises he says but don't follow the eating plan. Or do a pretty good job of following the eating plan 5 days out of the week, but go off the rails and eat whatever they darned well please two. Or follow the eating plan perfectly but don't exercise the way he tells you to. Or decide they're going to have rice with dinner even though the coach told them to just have asparagus and fish. You get the idea.
Here's the thing: With most programs, whether they are a company-owned plan like Jenny Craig or a pricey one made by a coach personally for you, your best success is dependent on doing ALL of said program. It's made to work as a whole. You take one part of it out, and like the gears in a watch, either the whole mechanism stops working or it isn't nearly as effective as if you did the program in it's entirety.
Particularly i you are working with a coach, I would advise to put blinders on and just DO it. Don't read Weight Watchers material if you are following Julie Lohre's program. Don't decide it's time to brush up on the Paleo diet or read "The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women" when you are paying Mike Davies to make a program for you. Why? Because in there somewhere is going to be something that isn't going to be what your coach or program has lined up specifically for you. They have you doing a particular program, either completely made or heavily tweaked for you, because in getting to know you a bit their instinct is telling them it will work. By taking in information from other sources you run the risk of doubting the effectiveness of what they have you doing. And with doubt comes lack of enthusiasm. And with lack of enthusiasm comes lack of adherence. And with lack of adherence comes lack of results. And who wants to pay someone the big bucks to create a program for them and not get results?
Commit to whatever plan you are doing in it's entirety. Focus like a laser beam, block everything else out, and just GO! Pick a plan, follow the WHOLE plan, and stick with it. You'll be the one getting the results while others are saying "This plan just doesn't work for me."
Friday, October 26, 2012
I love having hard boiled eggs around, but they can be a pain in the tush to make. The pot can boil over if the eggs break in there, making a horrible mess to clean up; there is a risk of not getting them done enough; and there is always the chance that I'll forget about them and wind up with smelly, exploded egg on the ceiling (now THAT'S a riot to clean up!).
Then I read about baking whole eggs, in-shell, on-line and gave it a try. I gotta tell ya- I was nervous. But amazingly, it worked! I am certainly not the first person to blog about this, but thought I would pass this on to my readers in case they did not know about it.
Here's how it's done:
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Put an egg into each of either a regular sized or mini muffing tin. I have two muffin tins that make 12 muffins each, so I can either cook one or two dozen eggs at a time. (Alternately, you can put the eggs right on the racks in the oven, but if one of the eggs cracks I'd rather clean up a muffin tin than the bottom of my oven.)
Stick the tin in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. (Now you have something screaming at you at the end of the cook time, so you won't forget and boil all the water out of the pot and risk your whole kitchen smell like burnt egg shells. Nasty!)
Hang on to your egg cartons- You'll store the cooked eggs in them when they are done.
When the timer goes off, take your eggs out of the oven, but leave them in the tin for 5 minutes at room temp. They will have little brown spots on them, but don't worry about it: They will come off in the next step.
In the meantime, fill something with cold water (I just plug up my sink and turn the water on, filling it enough to just cover the eggs). At the end of 5 minutes, put the eggs into the cold water. (I use tongs if they are still too hot to handle.)
The muffin tin is usually clean still, so I just put it back in my cabinet.
When the eggs have cooled, put them in the saved egg carton. Be sure to mark it, so that you know which eggs are hard boiled and which are not in your fridge. I put an "HB" on the sides of my carton with a sharpie so I can see it easily when I open the fridge.
That's it- Perfectly cooked "hard boiled" eggs without the watch-time and potential mess of doing them on the stove. Yay!
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