Christina is a mom, registered nurse, and blogger. She fully admits to both a love of too much food and a love of the couch, two vices she struggles to overcome on a daily basis. In the past two years, she’s lost nearly 50 pounds through diet and exercise, some of it chronicled on her blog, Losing My Hind.
Hooray for summer! With school out and the weather sunny and warm, my kids are always begging me to take them to the playground or go do something fun. (Because, of course, being at home is completely no fun at all.) As much as my daughters are enjoying their free time, I’m finding myself stressed out about not having enough time in my day. They may have no responsibilities, but I still have to go to work, buy groceries, do housework, and maybe find time for myself to exercise – all in addition to keeping my two little darlings entertained.
One time saver I’ve been trying to incorporate is taking the time to join in on summer activities with my kids. No, not just sit on the patio while they run through the sprinklers – I mean actually getting up and running through it with them. Think about it: not only do your kids get to have fun and spend time with you, but if done right, you can cross your workout for the day off your to-do list at the same time!
If you watched The Biggest Loser last season, you may have noticed that the emphasis in the gym was on martial arts. With trainer Cara Castronova‘s background as a 2 time Golden Gloves boxing champion and trainer Brett Hoebel‘s emphasis on Capoeira, as well as many past BL contestants who ha vediscovered a love of Muay Thai boxing, the exercise workouts were definitely not typical. What was the reason that these two completely different forms of martial arts were chosen?
At first glance, these two forms of martial arts have almost nothing in common. Muay Thai is an ancient form of combat fighting that utilizes all of the limbs, plus elbows and knees, in striking. Commonly called The Art of Eight Limbs, this stand up form of martial arts combines elements of boxing as well as stand up clinch techniques, as opposed to boxing which uses two (hands) and other forms of martial arts which utilize four (hands and feet).
Most competitive forms of marital arts place an emphasis on conditioning, and Muay Thai is no exception. Designed to help increase endurance for ring competition, most Muay Thai classes incorporate shadowboxing, jumping rope, running and often weight training. A cornerstone of Muay Thai training is working pad rounds, in which a student works one on one with a coach in hitting specially designed pads, called focus mitts. The focus mitts are created to absorb impact and help a fighter learn to hit correctly without harming their training partner.
I want to start this out by saying, that in no way is exercise ever pointless or a waste of time. Something is always better than nothing and any amount of exercise should be celebrated.
That being said, there are a lot of “classic” exercises people stick to that really aren’t doing much for your fitness- either because there is a more effective way to work the same muscles, or the exercise you think is hitting certain areas really isn’t hitting anything at all.
People get a little prickly when you tell them their tried and true favorite anything isn’t working for them- but especially when it comes to messing with someone’s health routine. In fact, in the American Council on Exercise personal training certification manual it flat out tells you if someone isn’t going to hurt themselves, either with exercise or nutritionally, like in the case of supplements and vitamins, let ’em be. It’s better to not turn anyone off of diet and exercise than try to be right if it really isn’t life and death.
just for fun, let’s take a look at some exercises that people waste a lot of time on, and how it could be better spent in the pursuit of fitness.
2011 is rapidly approaching and it’s time to ask yourself, is your bottom half where you what it to be?
This 2011 New Year’s Butt Blast is a workout designed to target every muscle of the lower body and push it to the max. Every muscle is challenged, both strength- and endurance-wise. The front squats and squat jumps are designed to target the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and calves, all while increasing your heart rate to burn calories and build endurance. The lunges, backward lunges, and side lunges are designed to target the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors. The step-ups are designed to target the quadriceps, calves, glutes, and hip flexors all while increasing your heart rate and, lastly, the bend over kickbacks are designed to target the glutes and hip flexors.
Body weight exercises are an effective and inexpensive way of working out. By using only the resistance of your own body, you can gain strength, endurance and inner peace. Body weight exercises are great because you can get an effective workout anytime, any place, with no equipment. Walking, swimming, dancing and yoga are all considered body weight exercises. While I encourage you to explore those, here are a couple specific body weight exercises to try out:
The Superman Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs outstretched, with a neutral spine so your elbows are by ears. Contracting your lower back, gently lift your arms and legs off the ground, hold for a few breaths, and slowly release them back to the floor. Repeat. This exercise works your lower back and core. (more…)
There are many October activities that are fun and incidentally, great exercise. Corn mazes, haunted houses, harvest festivals, pumpkin patches, scavenger hunts and colored-leaf-scouting all provide great reasons to get outside the house and get moving. Let’s be real though, for many kids Halloween is still all about the trick-or-treating. A lot of parents dread the night of walking up and down the block, endlessly taking step after step. The attitude there is all wrong. Trick-or-treating is the perfect family outing! This year, maximize the time you spend taking your kids door to door. Make it fun and make it active. Here are a few ways to do just that:
- Trick-or-treat in an area where the homes are farther apart. More walking equals more calories burned.
- Whenever it’s a viable option, use stairs. (more…)
CrossFit is a brand or style of strength and endurance training that combines almost every aspect of sports training available. From gymnastics and weight training to sprinting and pushing the body to max, this style of training improves your endurance, stamina, over-all strength, speed, power, agility, flexibility, balance, coordination, and mental toughness. Phew.
I recently took a CrossFit class and was sore for a week. I normally do traditional cardiovascular training (jog 30 to 60 minutes) and standard weight training (45 of strength training) and consider myself a workout veteran, but CrossFit challenged me to almost failure (which is good because the gym is the only place where failure is encouraged). The class I took consisted of a jump rope warm up, jumping from balance beam to balance beam, squats, shoulder presses, and pull-ups. It was an amazing workout! Every workout is different, though, and you are encouraged to compete against yourself to finish the workout as fast as you can. (more…)
I am a big fan of mixing it up when I exercise. I am easily bored, almost certainly A.D.D., and need to have a different routine in order to keep myself engaged and present. I try to work out three mornings a week with a Crossfit instructor. Recently, my instructor introduced me to the concept of Tabata.
The Tabata Protocol has been said to be simply the best supra-aerobic cardio workout ever created. Izumi Tabata researched the concept of a quicker more intense workout vs. a traditional 60 minute aerobic workout. The 4 minute exercise group had to bike at 90 RPMs at 170% of VO2max. That’s a very high speed and level of intensity. At the end of the 6 week study, the 4 minute exercise group had improved both their aerobic and anaerobic markers of fitness. The 60 minute group improved their aerobic fitness (not as much as the 4 minute group) and saw no change in their anaerobic fitness. (more…)
The most common complaint among exercisers is knee pain, especially during squats and lunges. If you suffer from knee pain, it may be easy to write these exercises off, but more often than not, the pain you experience may have more to do with your form than your joints themselves.
Squats and lunges do put a lot of pressure on your knees, which can cause a sharp pain right in the center of your kneecap. If your knees are sore during or after performing these exercises, a simple adjustment of your form may do the trick.
They seem simple: just bend your knees, right? Not quite. Where you place your weight during these exercises can mean all the difference. Proper form for squats and lunges will not only eliminate most knee pain, it makes the exercises more effective. (more…)