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cardiovascular training



Try This Dynamic Stretching Warm Up Before Your Workout

In my five years as a group fitness instructor I’ve noticed something over and over again: most people don’t know how to warm-up properly. Let’s face it – we’re short on time. We want to get in the gym, get our workout over with, and go home. Rather than properly warming up, many of us tend to jump right into our workout full force.

The ultimate purpose of “warming up” is to reduce the risk of injury while exercising, as it will prepare the body for exercise by increasing blood flow and warming up various muscle groups. A great way to warm up is by taking a few minutes to perform various dynamic stretching exercises.

When you think of “stretching,” you probably think of holding a stretch in place for a specific number of seconds; this would be static stretching, and should only be done after a workout because it actually relaxes the muscles. Performing static stretching exercises prior to exercise can actually cause injury to the muscles because it prevents them from preparing for a workout!

Dynamic stretching means performing a constant, controlled motion through a full range of motion. This stimulates blood flow and warms up the desired muscle group. I like to warm up for 5-10 minutes before a workout and target various major muscle groups throughout the body. Here is a good example of an effective dynamic stretching warm-up:

Arm Circles

armcircles1 armcircles2

Fully extend one arm up with fingers pointed towards the sky and the other arm down (with fingers pointed to the ground). Circle the arms forward, as if you were doing a freestyle swimming motion. Make the movement big and keep the movement of your hips to a minimum. Keep this forward motion for about 30 seconds and then move in the opposite direction (as if you were doing the backstroke) for another 30 seconds.

Warms up: shoulders, back and abdominal muscles
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Talk Test Found to be a Powerful Tool for Endurance Athletes

As a runner, I love to run in groups. The time passes by faster as we all share stories, get to know each other better, and typically laugh the miles away. I’ve grown accustom to talking while I run. In fact, I often fear I talk too much when I run. However, new studies have been conducted regarding talking while exercising and the findings may have me upping my chatter for the sake of my fitness.

Recently, exercise scientists from the University of New Hampshire confirmed the effectiveness of the “talk test”- a relatively simple and low-tech method used to measure exercise intensity.

The rather simple test required the participants to recite the Pledge of Allegiance while exercising at different intensity levels. Their heart rates and maximal oxygen consumption, or V02 max, were measured during the test. Those who spoke comfortably were at their lower end of exercise intensity. Those who could no longer speak comfortably were at the upper end of the intensity guidelines.


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The Hard Road to the Unassisted Pull-Up

The road to performing an unassited pull-up is short for some, but long for many. A pull-up is one of the toughest exercises for the body, but one of the best indicators of strength and endurance.

There are four main pull-up grips: wide, narrow, reverse, and neutral grips and depending on which grip you use, the pull-up works almost every muscle in the upper body. The wide grip isolates the latissimus dorsi and I strongly believe it is the toughest way to do a pull-up. The narrow grip isolates the rhomboids and is one of the most popular forms most people use. The reverse grip is by far my favorite and targets the biceps more than anything and lastly, the neutral grip targets both the biceps and latissimus dorsi and is similar in function to doing a bicep hammer curl.
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