Tabata

Dr. Izumi Tabata is a Japanese scientist who came up with the method of training called tabata. Tabata is a form of high intensity interval training. This specific style of training consists of choosing four exercises that target large muscle groups or involve the entire body. You begin with one exercise and perform it for 20 seconds at your maximum ability, then rest for 10 seconds. The same exercise and times are repeated for a total of 8 sets. Then, you move on to the next exercise and perform it for 8 rounds of 20 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between, and so on for the other exercises you selected.

In total, tabata style workouts take only 4 minutes for each exercise, so you can complete an intense workout in just 16 minutes! Most exercises that are done in tabata target large muscle groups for maximum effect. Some exercises may include burpees, squat jumps, lunge jumps, kettle bell swings, medicine ball slams, mountain climbers, sprints, pushups, tricep dips, and various core exercises.

The benefits of this type of training are that it improves both aerobic and anaerobic capacity. So the cardiovascular system, which requires oxygen to function, improves, AND the anaerobic energy systems are targeted too. Therefore, muscles are trained and strengthened as well. Most types of exercise don’t hit both systems as hard as tabata.

These benefits are what lead to fat burning and muscle building. Additionally, this type of training leads to an increased metabolism, so even after you finish your tabata training, your body continues to burn higher levels of calories for a longer period of time. That’s an added bonus to the improvements and calorie burning you’re already working for!

The only drawbacks to tabata are if you have certain heart issues or very high blood pressure. Because tabata elevates your heart rate, and keeps it elevated for so long with minimal rest between the full body exertions you are performing, your heart cannot recover entirely.

Additionally, if you have problems with your joints this type of workout might not be the best. These high bursts of intense full body exercises might put a little too much stress on your joints and cause irritation if done for so many repetitions.

There is one more important thing to note about tabata. Tabata is HARD. It is not for the weak of heart. It will feel like the longest, most uncomfortable four (up to sixteen if you do the whole workout ;)…) minutes of your life. Your muscles will fatigue. You will be out of breath. But don’t let that deter you from trying this awesome, effective training method because it WILL get you results!

Here is a sample Home Workout Tabata program to try:

tabata

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Home Workout #3

Here’s another home work out! It should take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Remember to rest as you need to, and make sure you’re healthy enough for exercise. Be safe! Comment any questions you have on exercises.

Warm up – 1 min each exercise (~3min)
High knees, alternating quad pulls, high kicks

Circuit 1 – Legs (~10 min)
Perform each exercise for 45s, take 15s rest between exercises. Rest 1 full minute at the end of the round. Repeat 2x.
Squats, standing bicycle crunch (high knee and crunch over), broad jumps, ice skaters.

Circuit 2 – Core (~10 min)
Perform each exercise for 45s, take 15s rest between exercises. Rest 1 full minute at the end of the round. Repeat 2x.
Mountain climbers, on floor: bicycle crunch, right side plank, left side plank.

Cool down/Stretch – 5 min
Stretch your legs and arms. Hold each stretch for 30s.
For more details on what stretches you should be doing, take another look at the Stretch Routine from our last Home Workout.

Good luck, do your best, and have fun!

Oh, Cardio

The journey toward your fitness goals is an intricate path. Various components contribute or detract from your success in achieving the goals you set for yourself. Diet and nutrition is a large part of the story, as is strength training and exercising. The third leg of this journey is cardio.

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with cardio. If you’re working hard and doing it right, it can stink! But boy, do you feel great after it’s over… The benefits of doing cardio are undeniable. Your muscles get stronger, your heart rate improves, you burn calories and lose weight… It’s a key contributor to achieving just about any fitness goal!

But why do most people skip it? Most likely, you haven’t found the cardio that’s right for you. Getting your cardio in doesn’t have to mean running for 30 minutes on a treadmill, or using an elliptical for 45 minutes… There are many ways to get your cardio in AND enjoy it! Below are just a few suggestions, now that the weather is warm and sunny and the outdoors isn’t totally off limits!

  • Walking – Walk outside around the park, or around a scenic lake or beach boardwalk for 30-45 minutes to get your cardio in. You’ll be able to people-watch, enjoy the view and the sounds, and get some sunshine.
  • Hiking – Take some friends or family and hike a mountain! There are local trails nearby that will get the heart pumping. You won’t even feel like you’re doing cardio and walking for miles, but you are. Plus, you totally get to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Rock Climbing – Work your arms and back and get some cardio in by rock climbing. It doesn’t have to be up high! You can traverse sideways, a foot or two off the ground, and get just as much of a workout. There are various local areas to do this in and outside.
  • Dancing – Sign up for a dance class, go out to a dance event in a local bar, or just go nuts at home! Really moving and grooving for 30-45 minutes gets your heart rate going and works your legs and arms.
  • Zumba – Similar to dancing but incorporating more strength exercises, Zumba is a great way to get your cardio in.
  • Bike Ride – With this gorgeous weather, I’m sure you’ve seen tons of bikers out in there bright gear taking up the roadways. Well, join them! Dust off your bike and get on the road this weekend. If you’re feeling confident, bike to work with your lunch and a change of clothes in a backpack. Biking outside is a great way to get your cardio in without feeling claustrophobic in a gym. You’re outside – you can enjoy the wind and sun, see so many different things on your route, and change up your ride with hills and turns.
  • Community Rec-League/Pick-Up – Many towns and cities have local sports clubs for people looking to engage in a fun sport activity with low intensity on the rules. Playing kickball, baseball, or basketball on a local recreational team, or even just getting in on some pick-up basketball at the public courts down the street, is a great way to change up your cardio routine.
  • Play a Childhood Game – Do you have kids, nieces and nephews, grandkids?! Then you have an excuse to run a game of tag, flag football, kickball, or any other game you may have enjoyed as a child. Even if you don’t have little ones for an excuse, get some friends together on the weekend to enjoy a fun game, socialize, and get your cardio in!

I hope you enjoy some of these fresh, new ideas for cardio and take advantage of them! Cardio doesn’t have to be boring! You can still get your 30-45 minutes of cardio in, be fit, have fun, and socialize all at once 🙂

Bosu Exercises – Part 2 of 3

Happy Friday!! 🙂

The bosu is one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment. It’s so versatile that it allows you to get a full body workout at a variety of intensities. It really jazzes up exercises that can become mundane and boring on their own.

Below, I’ve listed and shown my favorite AB exercises to do with a bosu. Finish your work week off with a fun new ab workout and try these out!

AB EXERCISES

    1. Crunches – Add some depth to your crunches with the bosu.
      *Lay the bosu on the ground with the blue side facing up. Position your back over the bosu’s hump and set your feet squarely on the floor. When you crunch up, aim your chin directly to the ceiling to target your upper abs. This exercise works great because when you come down from your crunch, the bosu has your back lifted off the floor for extra resistance on each upward crunch, forcing your muscles to do more work.
    2. Plank – Work your abs and arms together with some modified straight arm planks on the bosu!
      *Put the bosu blue side down on the floor. Grasp the sides of the bosu and extend your legs behind you to hold a straight arm plank. Your head down to your feet should create a straight line angled downward. Really contract your core muscles to keep your balance.
    3. Spider Plank with Crossover – Crank up the intensity of your planks by doing a spider plank.
      *With the black side of the bosu facing up from the ground, grasp the sides of the bosu. Extend your legs behind you and hold a straight arm plank. Bring one knee in towards the same elbow, then extend that leg back down. Alternate each side. For extra intensity, after you bring your knee in to your elbow, swing it across toward your opposite elbow, then extend it down. This adds a little extra work for your obliques!
    4. Russian Twist with Bosu – More intense oblique work! Here’s a little modification to the russian twist, which can typically be done with or without weight. Holding the bosu while performing the russian twist adds some weight and forces your muscles to adjust for any balance changes as you maneuver this large piece of equipment over your body.
      *Sit up on the floor with your feet placed in front of you, holding the bosu so that the black side is facing you. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the ground. Twist your torso to one side, bringing the bosu in that direction across your hips. Alternate, and twist across to the other side. Continue alternating these motions to work your obliques. If this is too difficult, simply placing your heels on the ground will still work your core muscles as long as you continue to lean backwards slightly.

Enjoy! Comment any questions you may have on how to perform these exercises.

Bosu Exercises – Part 1 of 3

The bosu is one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment. It’s so versatile that it allows you to get a full body workout at a variety of intensities. It really jazzes up exercises that can become mundane and boring on their own.

Below, I’ve listed and shown my favorite LEG exercises to do with a bosu. Try some out!

LEG EXERCISES

    1. Burpees – Regular burpees are tough, but holding a bosu in your hands througout a burpee movement makes them even tougher!
      *Hold the bosu with the black side facing up. Lift the bosu overhead. Next, bring it down so the blue side is touching the ground, jump down and extend your legs back, then hop your legs back in, stand up, and repeat.
    2. Squats – Squats are great to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes! Now perform them on a bosu to really strengthen those muscles and improve your balance by strengthening your core too.
      *With the black side of the bosu facing up on the floor, stand on the bosu with your feet shoulder width apart and perform your squats slowly and controlled. You can make this even harder by performing single leg squats. Just adjust your stance so your weight is balanced at the center of the bosu and squat on one leg.
    3. Glute Bridges – Work that booty again! This is a great exercise on its own that can be done with both legs, or just one leg at a time. A bosu adds a little more fun.
      *With the blue side facing up on the ground, position your feet on the blue ball. Make sure your butt, knees and feet are aligned at slight angle to achieve the best contraction of your muscles. Flex your hips up and contract your glutes, then return to the ground and repeat. You can also do single leg glute bridges by keeping one leg off the bosu, lining it up parallel to your other quad as you bridge up.

Let me know what you think! Any questions, just leave a comment!

So You Want to Run a 5k

Races are a lot of fun. They are a great way to gauge the improvements you’ve made to your fitness level, stay in shape, and get excited about working out. However, before signing up for a race, there are a couple things you should know and prepare for.

First and foremost, when you sign up for a race, you should have a clear idea of what your goal is. What are you trying to accomplish? Is your goal simply to finish the race without stopping? Are you in it to win it? Do you want to attain a personal best? Or are you just trying to have fun with your friends?

Having a clear goal in mind will direct your path as you prepare and train for the upcoming race.

Now that you have a goal in mind, pick a date for your race. There are all sorts of races going on all the time, you just have to search for them! It’s important to set yourself up for success. You can’t just sign up for a race and go race the next weekend. You need time to prepare your body. If you aren’t used to running 3 miles at once, you have no business shocking your body with that out of nowhere! That’s how you get injured, sore, and discouraged. So, sign up for your race in advance to give yourself adequate preparation time.

We have a race date, now we train. How you train will depend squarely on the goal you set for yourself. If you just want to finish the race without stopping, slowly start adding some running into your workout routine. Pace yourself on a trail run and see how long just one mile takes you to complete. Be prepared to run that time 3 times on race day. Begin training by running a few minutes every other day and slowly work up to continuous bouts of 15, 20, and 30 minutes of running without stopping. Similarly, if your goal is to attain a personal best, you should be upping the intensity of your runs and incorporating speed work into your running routine. For all racers, make sure to incorporate stretching and proper nutrition into your daily life to avoid injury and stay fueled. If you need help or have questions on what you specifically should do, comment here!

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Right before the race, we rest and we fuel. A few days before your race, don’t try to run your hardest or over-do it. Take a break. Go easy on yourself in the days leading up to your race. Make sure to fuel your muscles the day and night before race day to ensure you’ll have enough energy to do your best. Eating sources of carbohydrates the night before or the morning of your race is probably a good idea! Make sure to get a good night of rest as well so you’re ready to go in the morning.

On race day, eat a good breakfast and arrive early to the site so you can check in. Make sure you warm up your muscles and stretch them out so you can literally hit the ground running at the starting line. Keep your goal in mind as you run and don’t give up on it! The only competitor that matters when you run is yourself, so don’t compare yourself or get discouraged. Just focus on you and your goals. Have fun and be proud of what you were able to accomplish!

Home Workout #2 – Stretch Routine

Here are some great stretches to look up and incorporate into your day. No equipment needed!  I’ve included the sequence I personally go through. Hold each stretch for 5 breaths or 30 seconds.

1. Standing up straight, lift both arms up with hands clasped. Gently arch backwards to stretch your back and open your chest and shoulders.

2. From there, gently bend over, keeping your legs straight. Reach for your toes (without bouncing!)

3. Standing up straight again, gently pull one arm across your body. Repeat other side.

4. Now, place your hands on your hips, raise one arm and lean over the opposite side of your body. Repeat other side.

5. Now stand with your legs apart. Gently lunge towards one side to stretch your inner thigh. Repeat other side.

6. Moving to the ground, lay on your back and hug both of your knees in to gently realign your spine

7. Remain on your back. Extend one leg so it is flat on the ground and hug the other knee in to your chest. Repeat other side.

8. From here, gently pull the hugged-in knee across your body with the opposite arm. Keep the opposite shoulder (the one on the same side as the bent knee) flat on the ground. This stretch will loosen your lower back and upper glutes. Repeat other side.

9. Flip over to your stomach and lay flat for Cobra. With your hands positioned on either side of your chest, gently push your torso up (keep your legs on the ground), and look to the ceiling to stretch your chest and abdomen. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.

10. From here move on to Cat/Camel stretches. These involve crouching on your hands and knees while alternately arching and bridging your back to release the muscles.

11. Child’s pose stretches your muscles from your shoulders all the way down your back. From cat/camel, sit back on your feet and reach your arms forward on the ground. Lean your head close to the ground to ease into the stretch.

There you have it. Some really great stretches that will make you feel good, loosen up, and relax. Enjoy!