Posts Tagged ‘Gym’

Another exercise myth busted

June 2, 2011

Pop quiz time!

True or False: You’ll burn more fat if you skip breakfast before your morning workout.

FALSE!

No matter whether you eat breakfast before or after your AM trip to the gym, you’re going to burn the same number of calories.  (3 miles on an empty stomach is the same as 3 miles with a full tank)  The myth stems from the (misguided) belief that by skipping that first meal of the day you’ll force your body to burn fat for fuel.  While your body will turn to its energy stores when running on empty, it won’t tap those jiggly thighs or flabby abs for fuel.  Instead, the body uses a different kind of fat that’s stored in your muscles. 

Bottom line: Don’t skip the Wheaties!  In fact, you may find a light meal before a workout leads to a more intense session because your body is fueled and ready to go.

Ugh, running.

May 12, 2011

You may or may not know this, but I really don’t like running.  You wouldn’t know it with two triathlons, two half marathons and a handful of 5ks under my belt, but seriously, I don’t enjoy as much as I think I should.

Part of the problem is that I’m too slow.  I feel like I should be running a faster pace than I usually do and the fact that I can’t, frustrates me.  Sure, I’ve improved since I first started training for races and there are days that I look forward to a run, but most of the time I don’t.  The reason for that is that during the run and especially after, I’m in a lot of pain.

Now I don’t suffer the usual runner’s pain of aching knees, sore hamstrings or even shin splints.  Nope, my problem is my feet.  I’ve had issues with them since I was a pre-teen and while some corrective measures have helped, at the end of the day (or a run), my feet HURT.  And yet I keep running, hoping I’ll one day finish a run and not be in pain.  That day came last week.

All the usual treadmills at the gym were being used, so I hopped on one that I (and everyone else) usually go to as a last resort.  I can’t explain why, except maybe it’s because the control panel doesn’t have bells and whistles like a personal trainer or a fan (which is why I always skipped over them).  There’s also less space to put your stuff one, just two little nets to hold everything.  It’s called the Woodway and it’s with hesitation that I tried it.  I’ll never use the other treadmills again.

Right off the bat, I knew it was different.  When I picked up the speed, there wasn’t that usual pounding sound you hear when running on the regular treadmills.  It also didn’t feel as if I was landing as hard, more like I was running on a dirt path through the woods.  (Maybe that’s genesis of the name?)  I set out to run 3.5 miles that workout and expected the usually pain in my feet around 2.25 miles, but it never came.  In fact I made it through the whole run with only some minimal discomfort by the end of it.

I thought maybe it was a fluke, so I tried the treadmill again today.  Same thing.  So I looked up the company.  Apparently Woodways are designed to minimize shock.  Needless to say, I’m never going back to those old pounding treadmills again!   I do have one request however to the designers over at Woodway…could we maybe get a model with a built-in fan?  Thanks in advance!

Coming out of hibernation

March 31, 2011

As much as I hate to say it, bathing suit season is getting closer.  Now, while I’m not one to go on a crazy crash diet to shed those winter pounds (and neither should you!), I’m not against a kick-ass move that’ll whip those abs back into shape.

According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the best move for toning your abs is this:

Now just lift your legs and you're all set!

Lie face up on the floor, legs lifted to 90 degrees with your knees bent.  Extend your arms overhead.  Now curl your torso off the floor, lower and repeat! 

Work that move into your routine and you’ll have bikini-worthy abs in time for Memorial Day!

Old dogs and new tricks

March 30, 2011

The dumbbell rack

You know that saying about old dogs and new tricks?  Well it applies to people too.  In this case, the trick is weight training.

According to a recent study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, women in their 20s and women in their 60s gained strength from lifting weights at the same rate.  Ergo…it’s never too late to start! 

The study suggests this tip for getting stronger,  faster: add an extra 5 percent to the amount you usually lift and you’ll get up to 38 percent stronger in 13 weeks.  So for example, if you usually leg press 100 pounds, go up to 105 the next time around.  The math isn’t so easy if you’re using 8 pound weights to work your biceps.  An extra 5% would mean you’d have to lift 8.4 pounds.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen an 8.4 pound dumbbell! 

Here’s what I suggest: work with the 8 pound weight until you notice it’s too easy to pump out 2 sets of 12.  The last couple reps on both sets should be hard to do, but not torture.  When it’s too easy, it’s time to move down the dumbbell rack.

An app-solutely easy way to lose weight

February 16, 2011

A year or so ago I blogged about the mind-boggling number of diet and fitness apps available to smart phone users. 

At the time, I didn’t have a smart phone of my own and had to rely on the experiences and recommendations of others, but not anymore.

Since getting my new iPhone last week, I’ve spent a lot of time trolling through both the free and paid healthcare and fitness apps.  Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Name something you want to keep track of and there’s an app for it.  Whether we’re talking calories, exercise, heart rate, sleep, your period, your pregnancy or the number of push ups you can do…there are apps available to help you monitor all of it.  There tends to be multiple versions of each so all you have to do is pick the one that appeals to you, your goals, and your wallet the best.

My go-to diet app is the one available for free from the Daily Burn.   

The list of foods in its database is extensive.  If  you’re lazy or having trouble mastering the touchscreen keypad, you can pay to upgrade to an app that’ll let you scan the barcode of any food item to log it.  Neat, right? 

In addition to logging what you eat, you can also input personal information like your weight goal and it’ll suggest a caloric range for you to stick to.  You can also keep track of your exercise and even email questions to a certified personal trainer.

If you’re looking for something a bit more “hands-on” in terms of fitness, there’s definitely no lack of apps that offer to coach you or show you how to perform exercises.  You need to pay for most of those, with the average price around $1.50.

There are also apps that use GPS to track your runs/walks/steps.  I have yet to try one, but I hear most work great (until you get a phone call, but we’ll leave that for another post).

Overall, I think these healthcare/fitness apps are a great way to maintain your healthy lifestyle.  Let’s face it, we could all use a little help in sticking to our diet and/or exercise resolutions.  But when that help is so readily accessible, there’s really no excuse for failure.

Acid Reflux (but not the kind you’re thinking)

January 18, 2011

I have a confession to make.  I haven’t been to the gym in ages.  That is until last Friday when I took a cardio/weight class that kicked my butt.  Not that I realized it at the time.  But boy did I feel it on Sunday.  The pain made even the simple act of stepping on the scale hurt.  And what I saw when I got on the scale hurt even more…I had gained two pounds! 

Impossible, I thought. I mean I had kept to my diet all week and even exercised a couple of times including that Friday class.  But I got to wondering if that Friday class and the lactic acid it had created was the problem.  Could  it possibly be causing me to weigh more?

A quick search of the weight loss/fitness forums finds I”m not the only one who suspects this.  There are some who say the weight gain is just a natural weight fluctuation.  Others say that muscles retain water after a hard workout so that they can rebuild, which leads to the weight gain.  Try as I might, I can’t find a solid answer to this nagging question.

So tell me, have you noticed this same annoying phenomenon?  Or maybe you can finally answer my question — does a build up of lactic acid cause temporary weight gain?

How to keep that healthy New Year’s resolution

January 3, 2011

It’s a new year!  Odds are you’ve made a resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle.  Good for you!  Here are some tips to stick to that promise for the next 12 months.

1) Set realistic goals.  Instead of vowing to lose 30 pounds before next New Year’s Eve, focus on losing 10 percent of your body weight by year’s end.  That’ll ensure you lose the weight slowly, which means you’re more likely to keep it off.

2) Incorporate change slowly.  Quitting cold turkey is hard whether it’s giving up smoking or cutting out junk food.   Don’t swear off all of your unhealthy habits all at once , instead phase them out gradually.  If you make changes one at a time and are happy with the results those new choice yield, you’re more likely to make more improvements and stick with your new (and healthier) lifestyle.

3) Moderation is Key Too much of anything, even healthy stuff, isn’t a good thing.  Restrict your diet too much and your more likely to slip back to your old ways.  Spend too much time at the gym and you risk side-lining yourself with an injury.  As for the unhealthy stuff…indulging every once in a while isn’t going to wreck your plans, just don’t make a habit out of it.

4) Get moving!  The biggest and best thing  you can do for yourself is to get more exercise.  And I’m not just talking about hitting the gym every day.  It’s recommended to get between 30 and 60 minutes of aerobic exercise a day and that could be anything…walking the dog, running, biking, yoga, etc.  The point is to move and get your heart rate up.  Do that 7 times a week and not only will you be healthier, but you’ll also be happier — exercise causes your brain to release endorphins which in turn boosts your mood.

And to help you along with that last tip…here are this week’s Monday Music Mayhem picks.

Who Dat Girl — Akon

Black and Yellow — Wiz Khalifa

Club Can’t Handle Me — Flo Rida feat.  David Guetta

Undo It — Carrie Underwood

12 days of sporty gifts — Day 8 — It’s in the bag

December 20, 2010

After 7 days of gift ideas, odds are you’re looking for something to put all those presents in.  How about a cool and functional gym bag?

Choices abound, but here are a couple of solid picks.

For Women: Savasa for Women Fit All Gym Bag — Features a metallic embroided scroll design with inside and outside pockets.  Machine-washable and the top of the bag is designed to hold a rolled up yoga mat.

For Men: Adidas Formotion Duffel Bag — Features a large main compartment, mesh water bottle side pocket and several inside pockets as well as something called FreshPAK which helps to prevent those nasty gym odors.

Better hurry up with that shopping…there are only 5 days left until Christmas!

12 days of sporty gifts: Day 4 — Looking Smart

December 16, 2010

A lot of people who will tell you no one is looking at you when you’re at the gym.  They’re wrong.  People are always checking each other out. 

Armed with that knowledge, maybe it’s time to replace those old, ratty T-shirts you know that certain person on your holiday list is always sporting?

And there are tons of workout clothing options out there from eco-friendly clothes to performance gear to clothes that even help tone you as you workout!

A couple of Christmas’ ago, I was gifted a set of anti-bacterial workout wear.  Yes, it sounds weird, but you know what…they help to repel that typical gym clothes smell.  Also (and this is a totally girly observation) they’re soft and pretty.  So much so that I sometimes wear the long sleeved t-shirt as a regular top and no one can tell the difference.

While it’s true that same of these clothes have the potential of busting your holiday budget (this organic, eco-friendly, long sleeved yoga top from Gaiam retails for $48), there are deals out there…you just have to shop around.

Only 9 days left until Christmas!

Take it easy ladies!

November 30, 2010

If you exercise regularly and you use your heart rate to monitor how intense you’re working out, get ready to have your mind blown.

Turns out the normal formula of 220 minus your age is often inaccurate when calculating a women’s maximum heart rate.  Researchers at Northwestern Medical in Chicago say that approach results in a heart rate that’s too high.  Instead, they suggest another way of calculating your maximum heart.  And you’re going to need the calculator for this: 206 minus 88 percent of a women’s age.

Let’s use me as an example.  Under the old system, my max heart rate would be 191.  Calculated with the “women’s only” formula, my new max heart rate goal is 180.  Now consider this: When training for a major race, I try to exercise within the 65%-85% of my max heart rate.  With the old math, my range is 124-162bpm.  With the new math, it’s 117-153bpm.  Obviously, this means I can now workout with less intensity to gain the results I want.  A win, except that I never stay below 153 or even 162 during my most intense workouts.  But that’s ok too.

The author of the study tells the New York Times that there’s nothing wrong with exercising at a higher level if you can maintain it.  He also points out that the study is based on averages, so that for some women the numbers will be too low, for others too high.

The people who this new way of calculating things will directly affect are those who live and die by the heart rate calculators on the treadmills.  Now instead of killing themselves to achieve that elusive heart rate number, they can workout a little less intensely, but still get the same results. 

And please remember, if you’re working out to the point of utter exhaustion, you’re doing something wrong.  You should be walking out of the gym exhilerated, not frustrated.

SOURCE: Recalibrated Formula Eases Women’s Workouts