Archives for November 2012

#Fatblaster Friday | Why we all need to do cardio interval workouts

I love me some weights. (Yes, sometimes I work out in the bathroom…)

cardio interval workouts

Given a choice between lifting heavy and cardio and I’ll always choose strength. But as important as strengthening your muscles is, you gotta strengthen your heart too. And not just with endurance work, we all need to do some cardio interval workouts as well!

Why? Unlike long slow distance training, adding cardio intervals to your workouts can;

  • stimulate fast twitch muscle growth and hence, speed and agility
  • improve cardiac stroke volume and thus, overall heart health
  • decrease post-exercise cardiovascular recovery time
  • elevate your calorie burn, both during and after the workout via ‘afterburn’ effects
  • increase your lactic acid threshold or how long you can go before you ‘feel the burn’
  • speed up your workout, getting you out of the gym faster
  • be done anywhere, anytime and without equipment

Today’s #FatblasterFriday workout is a Killer Cardio Circuit. Only four moves, no equipment required. You’ll perform each move for 30 s then take a 15 s, active recovery rest (that means, “keep your feet moving”).

But don’t be fooled, performed at the highest intensity you can manage, each move should elevate your heart rate and leave you breathless by the end of the interval.

Go through the circuit twice, for a short, but intense, 6 minute, killer cardio interval workout.

Join me?

You can perform this workout on it’s own, or add it to the end of your regular strength or cardio endurance workout. Might I suggest a selection from my #FatblasterFriday playlist?

cardio intervals workout

http://fitknitchick.com

 

Did you like this workout? Then PLEASE

  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • CHECK OUT the #FatblasterFriday Playlist for more, real time workouts
  • PIN the above WORKOUT PHOTO
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section below
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter

More VIEWS, LIKES, COMMENTS and SHARES –>> More VIDEOS!

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

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Holiday stress and weight gain

I love the holidays, don’t get me wrong.

holiday stress and weight gain

But with all the (1) additions to my to-do list (buy presents, wrap presents, mail presents, plan menus, buy groceries, bake expected holiday treats, clean house) and (2) extra social outings (class and work parties, Cubs and soccer get-togethers, concerts at two schools, community tree trimming, Carol ships viewing and family celebrations) December always ends up being the most stressful month of the year.

While I’m fairly good at limiting my intake of high sugar-high fat foods (which make me feel crappy) and maintaining my usual workout schedule (which makes me feel good), it’s the holiday stress and weight gain piece of the equation that I struggle with.

Did you know that chronic stress can actually make you gain weight?

It’s true and you have your hormones to blame for it!

Hormones are chemicals secreted by glands in the body. They circulate in the bloodstream and control the actions of target cells or organs. When everything is working as it’s supposed to, hormones are your friends. Start making too much or too little of them? That’s when the trouble begins.

Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. It’s primary function is energy provisioning. It stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism when you need a quick burst of energy and alerts your body to release insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

During times of physical or psychological stress, cortisol secretion increases (think ‘fight or flight’), hence it’s nickname the “stress hormone”. While our bodies are equipped to handle short, intermittent bouts of stress, chronic stress and and prolonged periods of cortisol secretion can contribute to weight gain in a number of ways:

  • metabolic disruption; elevated cortisol levels can slow down the rate at which your body metabolizes food. Slower metabolic rates lead to increased weight gain, even without changes in the amount of food you’re consuming
  • cravings; chronic stress tends to result in increased cravings for sweet, salty and high fat foods. Often these foods are ‘triggers’ for overconsumption and binge eating
  • elevated blood sugars; remain under stress for too long and blood sugar levels may be altered, causing mood swings, hyperglycemia and even metabolic syndrome
  • fat storage; not only do elevated cortisol levels lead to weight gain, they also affect where we store fat. High levels of cortisol are linked to abdominal fat deposition; the very fat that’s associated with higher risk of heart disease and stroke

My holiday stress busting activities?

  • knit a lot. Knitting forces me to sit down, relax and focus on something totally unrelated to the holidays (if you’re expecting to receive a knitted gift for Christmas this year, you’re bound to be disappointed; knitting on a deadline is anything but relaxing)
  • add an extra 30 minutes of physical activity each day to my regular routine. Exercise not only burns calories, it also reduces stress, moderates blood sugar levels and makes me feel happy. Plus, when I do indulge in a holiday treat or two, I’ll rest easily knowing that movement will keep them from settling on my hips!
  • sleep more. Getting too little sleep also contributes to cortisol production. I aim for 8-9 hours every night and ensure that it’s restful by avoiding alcohol in the evenings and turning off electronic devices at least 2 hours before bedtime (sorry Tweeps!)
  • play with my children. Their noise and constant whirlwind of activity causes me much less stress when I’m part of the fun (rather than sitting at the computer trying to write amidst the chaos, which interestingly, may cause weight gain in and of itself!).
  • pay more ‘attention’ to my husband. ‘Grown up’ time is a great stress releasor 😉

holiday stress and weight gain

Do you suffer from holiday stress and weight gain?

Tell me your favourite way to relax and enjoy the holidays!

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#FatblasterFriday | 8 Resistance Band Exercises for Home or Travel

Well, the turkey and mashed potatoes are finished. The last of the pumpkin pie cheesecake was eaten for breakfast. The wine bottles have been carried to the curb. Another Thanksgiving dinner is over and done.

resistance band exercises

Now’s the perfect time to haul yourself off the couch and squeeze in a quick workout!

I know, you’re not at home and you don’t have any equipment other than that resistance band I suggested you pack 😉

resistance band exercises

This week’s #FatblasterFriday workout is a short and sweet, whole body strength workout, perfect for regular exercisers and newcomers to fitness alike. Just twelve reps of each of 8 resistance band exercises and you’re done (unless you had seconds on dessert; then you need to do the circuit two more times…).

Tips for working with a resistance band?

  • always check your band for tears and holes before you begin your workout; a band that snaps during exercise will leave a nasty bruise on your arm, leg or face
  • bands with padded handles are easier to use than bands without
  • bands generally come in 4′ and 6′ lengths. The longer the band, the more versatile (you can always shorten it when more resistance is needed; see below)
  • make sure there’s tension on the band at the beginning of each exercise; no tension, no added resistance
  • increase the resistance on the band by shortening the distance between the handles, either by wrapping the excess band around your wrists (as demonstrated in the video) or by stepping on the band with both feet (again, see the video for more details)

Ready to go? The “Resistance is NOT futile” Band Workout!

 resistance band exercises

Did you like this workout? Then PLEASE

  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • CHECK OUT the #FatblasterFriday Playlist for more, real time workouts
  • PIN the above WORKOUT PHOTO
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section below
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter

More VIEWS, LIKES, COMMENTS and SHARES –>> More VIDEOS!

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

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Need motivation to exercise? Look within!

Every Monday my Facebook and Twitter streams are full of motivational quotes and images.

motivation to exercise

Seems like everybody needs a little extra motivation to exercise and eat well at the beginning of the week 😉  .

I used to post a Monday Motivation series myself and wrote about the things that motivate me personally to get to the gym and make healthy choices in the kitchen (family, health, aging well, and aesthetics, to name a few).

But the thing is, I don’t really believe that extrinsic motivators work for that long or for that many people.

If simply looking at a photograph of a ripped chick doing bicep curls was really enough motivation to start, AND STICK WITH, an exercise program and healthy diet, obesity wouldn’t be the nationwide epidemic that it currently is. And nobody would be searching for (and finding my blog) via the terms ‘motivation to exercise’!

Need motivation to exercise? Start by looking within.

If I were to ask you why you go to work every day, I bet most of you would come up with reasons other than just ‘paying the bills’.

You enjoy your job (at least I hope you enjoy your job) because it challenges youfulfills you, and makes you feel good about yourself. (Hmm, sounds like the reasons I blog as well; certainly NOT because of the abundance of cash it’s earning me 😉 )

Of course, the pay cheque is appreciated, but most of us would agree that if the money were the only thing driving us to get up and go to work in the morning, we’d probably start looking for another line of employment.

I think of motivation to exercise in the same way.

Sure, the idea of being leaner, healthier, more muscular and more attractive might initially get us off the couch and into the gym, but in order to make exercise and healthy living a habit, we need to identify and focus on the internal motivators.

My motivation to exercise? The way it makes me feel about myself. Strong, capable, coordinated, beautiful and at peace with my inner critic.

How does exercise make YOU feel?

What’s YOUR intrinsic motivation to exercise?

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#FatblasterFriday | Clock lunges and sexy shoulders workout

I remember way back when I was taking my personal training certification course. Our instructor was having us analyze the action at the joint during various exercises. Biceps curls (elbow flexion), shoulder press (shoulder extension), standing calf raises (dorsiflexion and plantar flexion).

It was a lot of fun until she asked us to analyze clock lunges.

Now to be fair, the clock lunge is not a single exercise. Neither is it a single joint exercise. It’s a whole lot of  lunging and shifting weight from one leg to the other, such that you work your quads, glutes (medius and maximum), abductors and adductors, hip flexors, and calves. You can even get a little hamstring work in if you concentrate on using your back leg in the right places.

What’s are clock lunges you ask?

Simple. You start with feet about hip width apart (maybe a bit closer, if that’s comfortable for you). Imagine that your feet are at the centre of a clock.

Holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands (arms long, shoulder back and down, tummy tight), take a step forward with your right foot and drop into a lunge. You’ve just lunged to 12 o’clock. Now pull back to the start position. Again, step forward with the right foot. This time, take it to the 1 o’clock position. Keep the toes of the left foot pointing forwards. Pull back to the start position. As you move clockwise, around the clock, with your right foot leading, you’ll perform the all of the following movements:

  • forward lunges
  • backward lunges
  • diagonal forward and backwards lunges
  • side lunges
  • curtsey lunges and
  • cross-over lunges

That’s a lot of lunges!

Today’s #FatblasterFriday workout features clock lunges. There’s a brief demo lesson, followed by the workout itself. And just so your upper body doesn’t feel left out, we’ll also be doing a giant set for sexy shoulders. Joining me? All you need is a pair of dumbbells and a ‘can do’ attitude! 

For more fat blasting, body toning workouts, don’t forget to check out my free workout library!

clock lunges

Did you like this workout? Then PLEASE

  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • CHECK OUT the #FatblasterFriday Playlist for more, real time workouts
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section below
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter

More VIEWS, LIKES, COMMENTS and SHARES –>> More VIDEOS!

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Reasons for going to group fitness classes | it’s not always just about fitness

This past weekend, I attended a Third Age Fitness certification course. Third Age being a euphemism for ‘senior citizen’ or ‘older adult’.

Given that (1) I train a number of ‘above average aged’ clients, (2) several of my regular group fitness participants suffer from osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (3) my parents are on the cusp of 70

group fitness classes

and (4) my hubby and I will ourselves be classified as ‘third age’ sooner, rather than later, I thought that picking up some tricks and tips for teaching and training older adults would be a prudent thing to do.

We talked a lot about the physical infirmities associated with aging and how to keep older adults safe while exercising. We focused on important areas to stretch and strengthen aging bodies. We addressed the affects of many common medications on performance. And of course, we brainstormed about how to make our group fitness classes more welcoming to our older participants. (Check out this great guest post from AlexandraFunFit for specific tips for teaching seniors fitness classes)

For me, though, the most enlightening component of the course was a discussion about the reasons older adults attend group fitness classes.

Older adults are typically not there to get ‘abs of steel’ or ‘great guns’. Nor do they care about ‘personal bests’ or how they’ll look in their bathing suit next summer.

Seniors top reasons for participating in group fitness classes?

  1. to socialize with other same-aged adults
  2. to improve their ability to perform daily living tasks
  3. to have fun and learn something new

This discussion got me thinking about how older adults are really not that different from younger adults. When I returned to fitness after the birth of my first child, my reasons for attending group fitness classes were exactly the same. Of course, I also desired to see the reappearance of my pre-pregnancy body 🙂 , but just getting baby and I out of the house and into the company of others seeking healthy lifestyle changes was paramount.

I too craved adult-interaction, laughter and information. Strengthening my body to prepare for the ever-increasing workload to come (babies grow and as such, are a great source of progressive resistance training).

In addition to informing me about teaching the older members of my classes, this workshop was a great reminder to me that my job as a group fitness instructor isn’t just about helping people transform their bodies.

It’s also about creating a community, fostering improvements in daily living, entertaining and education. In short, helping people to transform their lives!

Do you participate in group fitness classes?

What are your primary reasons for doing so?

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#FatblasterFriday | Offset load squats and lunges workout

We all know that squats and lunges are your lower body’s best friends.

But did you know that by simply elevating one foot, you can also challenge your balance and work your core at the same time? The trick is to let your floor leg do most of the work; push through with the supporting foot, letting the elevated leg be light!

squats and lunges

Offset load squats and lunges are truly ‘bang for your buck’ exercises!

Why?

  1. By shifting most of your body weight onto one foot, you’ll be asking the muscles of the supporting leg to do more work than they would during a traditional squat or lunge.
  2. You’ll also be using your obliques to hold your upper body ‘square’; no leaning to the side allowed!
  3. And because single leg work requires more balance and control, your smaller, stabilizer muscles will be required to help out.

No fancy equipment needed; you can perform all of the moves in this workout using the bottom step of any old staircase. Of course, a step or low bench also works great. (Beginners, you can even keep both feet on the ground. I guarantee you’ll still feel your legs tomorrow 😉 )

To really challenge your core, try replacing the step with an unstable surface like a Bosu, a balance board or an Ugi ball, like me!

Today’s #FatblasterFriday is an offset load squat and lunge workout. We’ll be combining three different foot positions with three different upper body moves. In my bootcamp class, we call this routine ‘Squats and Lunges Around the World’. Expect to get a full body workout, with heavy breathing and lots of sweat!

Grab your water bottle and a set of hand weights and click on the video below to get started!

 squats and lunges

Did you like this workout? Then PLEASE

  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • CHECK OUT the #FatblasterFriday Playlist for more, real time workouts
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section below
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter

More VIEWS, LIKES, COMMENTS and SHARES –>> More VIDEOS!

Squats and lunges; love ’em or hate ’em?

What’s your all-time, favourite leg exercise?

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#FatblasterFriday | Spartacus Workout for Women

A few months ago I posted my own version of the popular Spartacus Workout.

My Spartacus Workout for Women focuses on four ‘trouble’ spots that most of my female group fitness participants and personal training clients want to work on;

  • triceps
  • tummy
  • thighs and
  • tush

The Spartacus Workout for Women combines whole body, fat-blasting moves with exercises that target the 4 T’s.

Because I get so many ‘how to’ questions about this workout (my earlier post only listed the names of the exercises…hint, you can click through to the original post for a printable version of the workout), I thought we could do it together, today, on #FatblasterFriday!

Grab your weights, a mat and a bench or chair. Do a quick warmup (5 minutes of light calisthenics ought to do it) and click on the link below to sweat alongside me!

Show me how much you liked this video!

  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section below
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter

More VIEWS, LIKES, COMMENTS and SHARES –>> More VIDEOS!

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.