Why finishing 2016 strong is your best new year’s fitness strategy

This is the time of year when all good fitness bloggers share their strategies for getting through the holidays without gaining too much weight or losing too much ground at the gym.

Much of this advice centres around tips for navigating party food (‘eat before you go out’, ‘alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks’, ‘avoid second helpings’, ‘offer to bring a salad’…) and squeezing in short bouts of non-exercise movement under the guise of having family fun (‘go skating together’, ‘climbing a tobogganing hill burns 300 calories an hour’, ‘ head to an indoor pool and swim laps while the children play’…).

While I believe these bits of advice can be helpful (and I’ve written many posts myself, chock full of tips for avoiding holiday weight gain and carving out time for your Christmas-day workout…), I also think that they completely miss the mark when it comes to really helping people stay focused on their fitness and health goals for the long term. Helping them find not just a new year’s fitness strategy, but an approach that will work for months and years to come.

Most of us start the year off strong.

successful midlife exercise program

That’s why the gym is so full in January and your Facebook feed has been covered with ‘New Year’s Fitness’ offers for the past month.

We implement the tips and ‘micro’-strategies offered up, but can only do so for so long before we begin to lose motivation and revert to our previous state.

As the year draws to a close, we fizzle out, hoping, at best, to ‘maintain the status quo’ at the gym or strive for ‘zero net gain’ on the scale.

What if we finished the year as strong as we began it?

What if we shifted our mindset to value seeing a project through to the end?

What if we recognized the importance of being someone who finishes what she starts?

What if we no longer created a ‘new year’s fitness strategy’ each and every year?

I’m guessing that January would be just another month on the calendar. (And we’d see improvement in a lot of other areas in our lives…)

successful midlife exercise program

A month in which we’d continue to progress our workouts, improve our health and see the numbers on the scale shift in the direction we’d like. Without the dramatic increase (and subsequent equally dramatic decrease…) in the number of people at the gym.

I challenge you to think back to your January 2016 goals, intentions and resolutions. Be it weight loss, improved health, squatting your body weight or doing five consecutive push-ups.

Remind yourself why those goals were important to you.

If they’ve become less of a priority as the year elapsed, re-instate them to the top of your to-do list for the remainder of the month.

By the time 2017 arrives, you’ll already be well on your way to have re-established positive habits. Long before the January exercisers have done their thing; starting and stopping for another year.

Finishing the year strong is surely your best strategy for ensuring a fit, healthy and successful 2017 and beyond…

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#FatblasterFriday | A Bosu Circuit Workout that won’t embarrass you at the gym

Last week I asked my Facebook group (not a member yet? Click on the link and ‘like’ the page) for some suggestions for my next #FatblasterFriday real time workout video (subscribe to my YouTube channel so as never to miss a workout).

My favourite response?

“bosu balance trainer stuff that I could use in the gym (nothing I’d be embarrassed having people see me do if you know what I mean lol)”

Yes, my friend, I know EXACTLY what you mean 😉

We’ve talked before about why I love the Bosu. All of the wonderful things it can add to your workout. How it can be used for strength and cardio as well as core. How it challenges muscles that you didn’t even know you had…

Today’s #FatblasterFriday workout is a whole body, 5-move Bosu circuit workout that will strengthen your muscles, elevate your heart rate and challenge your core, all without EMBARRASSING you in the gym 😉

Set your timer for 10 rounds of 45 s work and 15 s rest. All you need is a Bosu (and perhaps a mat, if you need to come to your knees for pushups).

Bosu circuit workout

CLICK on the video below and DO the workout WITH ME!

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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Weighing in on weighing in | how often do you weigh yourself?

Yesterday was Day 1 of the DietBet I’m currently hosting (I’m super excited, as the ‘pot’ is just over $5000!).

Participants submitted their initial weights sometime between Friday morning and Sunday lunch. Amazingly enough, by mid-afternoon Sunday, nearly 20% of the participants had already updated their weight (and even more amazing, some had already lost significant percentages of their body weight…).

 

how often do you weight yourself?

 

Somehow, I hadn’t expected participants to weigh in daily. DietBet only requires initial and final weights. That’s certainly all that I was planning on. How often do you weigh yourself?

Now I’m not really a huge fan of the bathroom scales. And Friday’s weigh in was the first time I’d stepped on mine in about a month. (The number was higher than I expected, so maybe I stayed away too long..). My rationale? My scale weight isn’t a true measure of how fit and healthy I am. I’d rather focus on the number of pushups I can do and how many pounds I can squat, than how much my body weighs.

Truth be told, I’ve always found my scale weight to be higher than I think it should be (given what I used to weigh before graduate school, marriage, kids and peri-menopause…) and get discouraged when it shows no sign up changing despite healthy eating and frequent exercise.

But comments from some of my DietBet participants indicate that not everybody shares my view:

~ I have to weigh and post weight daily….whether down or up on the scale….to be accountable. …. I’ve tried that once a week thing & for me it is a disaster, LOL!

~ I weigh myself every day, usually twice a day (a.m. and before bed) 

I’d like to hear YOUR thoughts.

How often do you weigh yourself?

Why that frequency (as opposed to any other)?

Why not more (or less) often?

How do the scales help or hinder your weight loss (and weight loss maintenance) efforts?

 

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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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The ‘Functional Four’ workout and a bonus move for your butt

I work as a personal trainer in a public gym. The majority of my clients are women in their 40’s who need to lose (by their own admission) 15-40 pounds.

In my experience, the best way to do that is to perform whole body, compound exercises at an intensity that elevates your heart rate for the better part of your 45 minute workout. (In addition to eating clean, of course).

The workouts that I prescribe typically include four functional movements; squats, lunges, pushes and pulls. Each of these types of movements target multiple muscle groups and hence, won’t increase the size of your biceps or triceps or tighten your inner thighs exclusively.

Curls and triceps extensions and calf raises? Vanity moves. Exercises that can improve the look of a single muscle group, but only once the layer of subcutaneous fat that covers them is burned off!

Am I suggesting that you shouldn’t perform vanity exercises? Absolutely not! I love vanity moves too!

Instead, I suggest that you place them at the end of your program, once the heavy, metabolic, fat-burning lifting is done! Think of bicep curls as a reward for completing your squats and lunges! Tricep extensions as the dessert to your meal of pushups and bent over rows. Hamstring curls on the ball as a rest for  your arms and back after finishing your third set of pull ups!

Below is my ‘Functional Four’ workout.

Complete 10-12 repetitions of each exercises using the heaviest weight (or most challenging progression) you can. Then move immediately to the next exercise, cycling through the entire workout 3 or 4 times. Your heart rate should remain elevated throughout; don’t rest until you’re done! Options are given for beginners,  intermediate and advanced exercisers.

fitknitchick workouts

And no, I didn’t forget about your abs! Almost all of the above exercises require you to work your core in a functional manner. Stabilization and mobilization while other parts of your body are moving.

If you want to increase the challenge of the above workout to your core you can (1) offload the weight during a given exercise (e.g., offset load squat, change the pushup into a T-pushup) and (2) use a stability tool in place of either the floor (e.g., lunge with foot on Bosu) or a bench (e.g., chest press with head and shoulders supported on a stability ball)

Once you’ve finished the heavy work you can indulge in a vanity move or two. One of my favourites in a hamstring curl on the ball.

Check out today’s Tuesday Trainer for some other great vanity moves.

Do you include the functional four in your workouts?

What’s your favourite vanity move?

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.

‘Spring’ into spring: plyometric training and why you should be doing it

Well, spring has finally arrived. Hooray! No more snow for the Pacific Northwest (except for the little bit that surprised us on Wednesday), longer days and a hint of warmth in the air. My cherry trees are almost in bloom and the hummingbird feeders are full and awaiting their first visitors.

plyometric training

It’s the perfect time to add some ‘spring’ to your training!

Plyometric, or ‘jump training’, is defined as ‘any exercise that enables a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible’. It involves first stretching (or lengthening) the muscle then rapidly shortening (or contracting it), producing a more powerful muscular contraction than a simple concentric muscle contraction. Think about an elastic band; the band (analogous to your muscle), when stretched, has the potential to rapidly and powerfully return to its original length upon release.

The key is to be quick; spend as little time with your feet in contact with the floor as possible. Feet should be nearly flat in all landings and the elbows should be brought behind the midline of the body so the arms can be rapidly moved forward to help with ‘lift off’.

Examples include;

  • jumps-in-place (forwards and backwards, laterally, single and double footed, tuck jumps and split squat jumps)
  • standing jumps (long jump, jumping over barriers, jump up and reach)
  • multiple jumps (hopping over cones or hurdles, helicopter squat jumps, stadium or stair hops)
  • box drills (single leg push-offs, lateral step ups, box jumps, lateral box jumps)
  • depth jumps (jump from top of box, incline pushup depth jump)
  • bounding (skipping, backward skipping, forward or lateral bounding with arm action,
  • upper body medball exercises (underhand/overhand throws, side throws, slams, chest passess)

The benefits of including plyometrics (or ‘plyos’ as they’re sometimes referred to) in your regular training program include;

  • improved speed and agility
  • increased bone density
  • integration of speed with strength (producing more powerful movements)
  • elevated fat burning

Although frequently performed by competitive athletes wanting to improve their sport, even relatively new exercisers can incorporate plyometrics into their training if they pay special attention to the following points;

  • choose a soft surface to train on (grass or rubber rather than concrete or cement)
  • start slowly, interspersing a few repetitions of a plyometric move between sets of your regular strength training exercises
  • build intensity (how high you jump), volume (how many repetitions you perform), duration (the length of the plyometric interval) and frequency (how many times per week you do plyos) as your body gets stronger and adapts to the new load
  • rest adequately both immediately after a plyometric interval and between plyometric workouts
  • always perform a full body warmup before jumping (you should warm up before any type of workout, but plyometric training requires extra attention to knee and ankle mobilization)
  • stretch big muscles afterwards and replenish fluids immediately

Excited to ‘spring’ into action? Try the plyometric circuit below. Feel free to share it with your friends, ‘Pin it’ on your boards and tell me how you did, in the comments section below!

plyometric training

Coincidentally, I came across another blog post on plyometric training just yesterday with a title similar to mine (I guess ‘Spring into spring’ is an obvious name for a post about jump training!). Check out Bonnie and Steve’s plyo workout here.

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.