High intensity workouts like CrossFit, Insanity and P90X were a phenomenon this past year and now, according to the American College of Medicine’s Sports Fitness Journal, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is expected to be the top calorie-burning trend of 2014. While the popularity has increased, so have subsequent injuries.
The HIIT workout is one that centers around high intensity exercises immediately followed by a short period of rest or limited activity. For example: A one-minute sprint on the treadmill followed by a 90-second recovery period or jump rope for three minutes followed by a 45-second walking lunge with alternating hand-to-hand kettlebell exchange. Repeat!! Some HIIT workouts can be completed in as little as 20 minutes.
While the variety of exercises and short time commitment can be tempting to those seeking something besides the boring treadmill routine, these workouts aren’t for everyone. We asked certified personal trainer, Jessica Smith, to give her thoughts on the CrossFit craze. “A good, safe fitness program should be scalable to meet the participants’ fitness levels,” she said. “I’ve seen some programs that do that, and others that really can’t adequately offer modifications that meet all participants needs.”
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Out of all of the cardio machines that I have to choose from at the gym, the treadmill is usually the last one that I would choose. It’s not that I dislike walking or running – I actually kind of like it – but to me, walking or running indoors can get extremely boring. There’s something about the other machines (like the elliptical and stairmill) that just seem to hold my interest more and make my workout more enjoyable. That being said, I know that running on a treadmill can provide a great cardiovascular workout.
I almost always run outdoors and my surface of choice is definitely dirt. Unfortunately, because of weather and other factors, that’s not always possible. Recently, I decided to give the treadmill another chance, with a different approach this time.
I’m an avid hiker and walking up an incline is often a big part of my hikes. Hiking can be a great cardiovascular and fat-burning workout because it tones your lower body and (depending on the trail) can alternate between high and low intensity.
I tried utilizing the treadmill to get the same benefits of a hike by adjusting the incline and speed during a thirty minute period, which would offer the same type of interval training that I naturally get while hiking. Walking at an incline burns more calories than walking on a level surface because your body has to work much harder to push itself uphill. You’ll definitely feel your heart pumping faster as the incline percentage increases, and it will drop as you come back down to level ground.
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When I initially decided to join a gym about ten years ago I pretty much only ever stayed in one very small area of the building: the cardio section. I would walk in, jump on the treadmill or elliptical trainer for about 45 minutes and leave. I wasn’t really sure what to do in the weight room and found it to be pretty intimidating, so I steered clear of it altogether. But then I got bored. I decided that I wanted to start doing exercise in the form of strength training to build some muscles! And then one day, as if by fate, I noticed a flyer for a new class that the gym was offering: Les Mills Bodypump.
Bodypump is described as the original Les Mills barbell class and will sculpt, tone and strengthen your entire body, fast! The classes use a specific formula of resistance training that is referred to as “The Rep Effect.” This essentially means that the classes focus on using low weight loads and high repetition movements for effective fat burning and production of lean muscle tissue. (Or, in my own words – it’s an hour of strength training combined with cardio moves that will kick your butt and re-shape your body.)
Nervously, I decided to give Bodypump a try, and I loved it! Even though the class was nearly an hour long, it went by super quickly and I enjoyed every heart-pumping minute. I immediately became hooked and found myself faithfully attending the class three times a week. I loved it so much in fact that I eventually decided to become a certified Les Mills Bodypump instructor!
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When we think of cardio, running is often the first thing that comes to mind. Running is a great form of exercise, however, it isn’t the right solution for everyone. From beginners who haven’t built a base of strength yet to those with arthritis, high impact movements like running aren’t a good fit.
Cardio, by definition, actually means “from the heart.” Therefore, from an exercise perspective, it is anything that gets your heart rate up. This means there are plenty of low- or no-impact activities you can do to accomplish this goal. Make cardio easier on your knees while still benefiting your heart with these five moves.
Walking is a great form of cardio that we already know how to do, but you have to do it briskly or find a way to push yourself. The heart is a muscle and, like your biceps, gets stronger only with challenge. Make your walk more challenging by increasing the incline on the treadmill or wearing a weighted vest on your outdoor walks.
Dance lets you sweat and de-stress. Have you seen the transformations on Dancing with the Stars? If ballroom isn’t your thing, try a hip-hop or swing class. You can always crank up your favorite tunes and get crazy in your living room.
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By Bob Greene of TheBestLife.com
Did you hit up a Spin class, get in a run, or head out on a hike today? Good job!
Now, did you take some time to warm up, stretch and cool down? These three elements, which would set you back only about 20 minutes, are nearly as important as the workout itself. That’s because they can prepare you for your workout and may also help prevent injuries.
I know what you’re thinking: I just don’t have the time. I’m lucky enough to squeeze in a quick workout let alone all these extras. But I urge you to find time. Doing so will help you get a better workout and burn more calories. In other words, it’s worth the effort. Still not convinced? Take a look at how little time each element will cost and how big the rewards are.
What it is: Light cardio aerobic activity done before a workout
Why you need it: It helps get your muscles ready for exercise. A warm up can be anything from a quick walk or slow jog to jumping jacks or jumping rope.
Time Investment: 5 minutes
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