Archive for April 25, 2016

Should I even do cardio???

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Should I even do cardio?

What kind of cardio is the best?

How much should I be doing? 

 

These are questions that are coming up more frequently these days!

 

Maybe it’s the welcome changes in weather, warmer temps, more daylight hours in each day, or the promise of shorts and summer clothing being right around the corner…whatever the motivating factor is, questions—and opinions–about cardio are popping up everywhere.

 

So what kind of cardio should people do? And how much of it?

 

 

 

My answer is: it depends. (Surprise!!)

 

The kind of cardio you (choose to) do, and how much of that cardio you choose to do depends on:

  • How much time you have
  • What your body’s unique needs are
  • What your personal fitness or physique goals are
  • What you ENJOY doing

 

 

 

Now I’ve been working out for over 20 YEARS, but only working out effectively for the past 9.

 

 

In that time, I’ve tried lots of different classes, training programs, used a ton of cardio machines, and planned and taught boot camps, circuit training classes, and HIIT classes.

 

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So I’ve been able to experience personally and witness, first-hand, the effects of different approaches to ‘doing cardio.’

 

 

The past year, in particular, has been super enlightening and really changed the way I work out AND the results I’ve gotten (which translates to better workouts and results for my clients, too!).

 

 

Here’s what happened…by way of a quick story.

 

At the beginning of April, I participated in the Big Windy 25 Memorial Run, held in honor of the Chinook crew and service members who perished in a crash in Afghanistan in April 2005. The run raises funds to support T.A.P.S.: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors—an organization that supports the family members of fallen military service members. http://www.taps.org

 

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I’m telling you this because it was the first actual 5k I’d done in over 3 months, and I’m not sure I would have opted to run a 5k anytime soon if it hadn’t been for such a good cause.

 

 

 

Which is pretty funny, because I’ve been a long-time runner!

 

 

 

So what happened? Life happened, lol.

 

 

 

Actually, I phased out running last year after joining a CrossFit gym so I could participate in their kettlebell training program.

 

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For the first 4 months, I tried balancing 2-3 runs a week with 3 days of hard training, but it didn’t’ allow my body enough recovery time and I always felt achy, tired and sluggish.

 

 

 

My hormones didn’t respond favorably, either, and I wasn’t seeing the physique results one would expect from working out so much!

 

 

So I made the decision to stop running last summer and give my full attention and commitment to a 5-day kettlebell training program. And it was definitely the right decision!

 

 

I recovered better and faster, and I began to see dramatic improvements in my strength and endurance during my kettlebell, barbell and conditioning sessions.

 

 

The absolute icing on the cake??  My physique tightened up after resting more and working out less.

 

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Don’t’ get me wrong—there’s still been running involved in those workouts, but it’s been either an easy 400 meter warm up/cool down OR 100 to 200 meter sprints. And by sprints, I mean SPRINTS—all out efforts.

 

 

I’ll be honest—I was a little nervous about the prospect of running three miles—straight—with my husband, in a group of soldiers, since I hadn’t been running in a while. I was afraid I’d lost my running endurance and that I might embarrass myself.

 

 

But I was pleasantly surprised that my conditioning was more than adequate to run a strong 3 miles, and I was able to revisit that ‘meditative’ quality that running always offers me.

 

 

See, when I first started running, I ran to burn calories/lose weight.

 

 

Then, after I had kids, it was one of the most convenient ways to get some exercise (next to at-home dumbbell and bodyweight circuit training).

 

 

Plus, running truly saved my sanity and helped me calm strong fears and emotions for many years in a row, particularly during my husband’s deployments to Afghanistan.

 

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Those longer runs taught me endurance, to tolerate discomfort longer than I wanted. They helped me train my brain and gave me the chance to be alone with my thoughts. And that repetitive rhythm really is like meditation in motion!

 

 

Now sprinting makes my body happier than lots of longer runs each week.

 

 

Sprinting has caused me fewer repetitive use injuries, and I credit sprinting for reshaping my physique dramatically—my legs and glutes are shapelier, and my body has become much leaner all over.

 

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And, as I was reminded during that 5k, sprint workouts are just SO much more time-efficient!

 

 

 

That said, I’m going to find a way to work in a gentle run or two each week when it feels right, because yesterday’s run also reminded me how much I like the feeling of being in continuous motion—not because I need to burn more calories, lol.

 

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So once again, the kind of cardio you (choose to) do, and how much of that cardio you choose to do depends on:

  • How much time you have
  • What your body’s unique needs are
  • What your personal fitness or physique goals are
  • What you ENJOY doing

 

 

 

While the physique and performance effects of sprint workouts are both dramatic and pleasing to me, I wouldn’t continue to do them if I didn’t enjoy them.

 

 

The same goes for running: if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it.

 

 

My Bottom Line: I don’t ‘do cardio’ just for the sake of ‘doing cardio.’

 

And my recommendation to you:

Engage in workouts that are satisfying to you, constructive for your body, that work for your schedule, and supportive of your performance and physique goals.

 

If you’re not sure about what the right kind or amount of cardio is for you, then it might be helpful to answer a few questions:

What are your goals?

Do you have any injuries or inhibiting physical factors?

How much time do you have each day/week for workouts?

Do you like to exercise indoors or outdoors?

Do you enjoy cardio machines, or do you prefer classes?

Are you getting RESULTS from what you’re currently doing?

AND, most importantly, what do YOU like to do?

 

The way in which you answer these questions will help guide your choices about what kind of cardio to do (if any), how much, how long and how often.

 

And in case you’re looking for some new workout ideas, I send out time-saving workouts every Wednesday to my inner circle peeps, including some fun cardio training options.

 

If you’re not already on my email list, sign up here (and get a little bonus, too):  http://bit.ly/RLFWeeklyFitTips

 

 

Talk to you soon,

Kate

 

Trainer Tip Tuesday: Pause Your Squat

Today’s Tip: Pause your squat.

 

 

 

To make your squats stronger, more comfortable and just all around better, add a pause to your squats during one of your workouts.

 

 

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It’s pretty easy and common to rush through our squats–especially if we’re doing them as part of a timed workout, in a class, or as part of a circuit.

 

 

And when we rush through our squats a couple of things can happen: we get a little sloppy and maybe develop some not-so-helpful habits/techniques, and we miss out on the opportunity to develop even more glute strength.

 

 

More glute strength = being able to squat more weight, build a stronger and tighter booty, and feel more powerful coming out of the bottom of the squat.

 

Plus, when we use more muscle, we build more muscle and that translates to more calorie-burning potential in our biggest muscle groups–even when we’re sleeping. Score!

 

 

 

To put the paused squat into practice, use a moderate weight (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells–doesn’t matter), tighten up your abs/pull the ribs down, and lower slowly with tension in your glutes–just like you always do, right?!?!

 

 

 

Once you hit the bottom of your squat, or end range of motion, hang out there for 1-3 breaths (start with one, work up to two or three).

 

 

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While you’re sitting down there, you’ll quickly recognize any ‘cheats’ you’ve gotten used to using: relying too much on one leg, not keeping you abs tight enough, rolling the shoulders forward, arching the low back too much….

 

 

 

And the pause gives you time to make some of the needed ‘shifts’ to your form to clean it up so you can perform even better in the future!

 

 

 

To finish up your paused squat, try to stand as forcefully/explosively as possible and really squeeze your glutes tight once you’ve returned to full standing/start position.

 

 

 

My Functional Fitness class peeps did 5 rounds of 5 reps of paused front squats today and had really good results, so give it a shot during one of your next squat workouts!

 

 

Better form and tighter glutes await you…. 🙂

 

 

{Trainer Tip Tuesday} Be Like a Dandelion

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If you’re in the military, you’re probably aware that April is the Month of the Military Child.  

 

 

 

If you’re not in the military or affiliated in some way with the military, you just learned something new!  

 

 

 

Throughout the month of April, different memes dedicated to military children circulate through social media, many of them featuring a dandelion.

 

 

 

 

 

The dandelion is the flower of the military child–and for good reason.  

Dandelions, among other things, are tenacious.  

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My tenacious dandelions.

 

 

 

 

Tenacious might actually be too gentle a word to describe them, actually!  Have you ever tried to rid your lawn or garden of dandelions?  

 

 

 

 

Each spring, it’s a war in my little backyard, and I hate to admit it, but the dandelions are slowly winning…because of their tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Dandelions just don’t quit.  

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the war I’m waging against them, I really admire dandelions.

 

 

 

 

 

They grow wherever they’re planted, they reach for the sun tirelessly, they spread what they have to offer prolifically, and they never stop trying to come back.

 

 

 

 

 

So what the heck does this have to do with fitness??  Only everything.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the challenges we often face where our fitness is concerned is not being tenacious enough when things aren’t easy.

 

 

 

 

A kid gets sick.  

 

 

We get sick.  

Our schedule changes.  

Work becomes more demanding.  

There’s a crisis in the family.  

We develop an injury.  

Our workout buddy moves away.  

WE move away.  

 

 

 

 

 

All of these events can happen, or have happened, at some point, and they can really knock us out of our workout habits and practices.

 

 

 

 

 

A short break becomes a longer break, and pretty soon we’re so far ‘off track,’ we don’t know how or feel we have the will to find our way to get back ‘on track.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is where being like a dandelion comes in.  

 

 

  

This is where developing and maintaining tenacity comes in.  

 

 

 

 

 

The main reason I created “Your Plan B Playbook’ (you can grab a copy by signing up here: Plan B Playbook) was to create a tool by which others could also develop and foster their own tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Being an Army spouse, now living overseas, has presented me over the years with a slew of challenges.

 

 

 

 

In the early years of being married to the Army, these challenges DID knock me off track–and that made me sad, angry, resentful, hopeless, and generally feeling like a failure.

 

 

 

 

I could not see a way out of my situation or any alternative by which to reach my health/fitness/weight loss goals.

 

 

 

 

Then I took a nasty fall from a friend’s cranky barrel racing horse.  Well, the fall wasn’t so bad–it was kind of a graceful dismount actually–but the landing messed me up.

 

 

 

 

I landed full PLF-style on my right side on some very hard Louisiana clay, causing trauma to my lumbar spine, both SI joints in my pelvis, and two broken ribs.

 

 

 

 

In the weeks and months after that accident, I had to decide whether I was going to live as an injured and inhibited person, or do what it took to get better, get stronger.

 

 

 

 

It took a year of physical therapy and diligent work with a personal trainer, but I did get better–and stronger and more resilient.  

 

 

 

 

 

And tenacious.  

 

 

 

 

 

Tenacity is defined as being ‘persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.’  

 

 

 

 

 

 

But how do we get or develop tenacity when we feel like we’re on the ropes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over time, I’ve found three things that help develop and foster tenacity on the fitness front.

1. Have a backup plan (or multiple backup plans!) ready to go.  

 

 

 

Your Plan B Playbook’ was born out of a need to have a backup workout options ready to go for all those times where one of my kids was suddenly ill, my husband was deployed, or other life circumstances messed with my plan A workout.  

 

 

 

 

Knowing I had a plan b, c, d, e and even f ready to go alleviated a ton of stress and kept me consistent with my workouts.

 

 

 

 

 

Being able to workout despite unpleasant circumstances also helped me cultivate tenacity through self-confidence:  every time I got that workout in during a challenging time it made me more confident I was capable of continuing on and doing it again the next time things got challenging.

 

 

 

 

 

 ” The more I accomplish, the more I know I’m capable of accomplishing.”  ~ Tawny Lara

 

 

2. Be a part of a ‘tribe.’  

 

 

 

Being a part of something bigger than yourself can bolster your will and determination when you’d rather just skip a day or quit. 

 

 

 

 

Social media offers a way to find and connect with like-minded people who can serve as a support network or accountability group.

 

 

 

 

Recruiting friends on Facebook to be a part of an ‘exercise tribe’ with similar goals or lifestyles can be a great help–you’re there to both encourage others when they need it, and they’re there for you when you need a pep talk or a kick in the pants 🙂

 

 

 

 

Having a workout community can be the difference between ‘I give up’ and ‘I can do this.’

 

 

 

 

3.  Dedicate your workouts.

 

 

 

When you don’t feel like working out or going for a run, dedicate that sweat session to someone.

 

 

 

 

I started doing this in 2011, but only privately–as in my own head, not through any official organizations.  I often choose to dedicate that workout to either those who have passed or those who would love to get up and move, but can’t.

 

 

 

 

It changes I ‘have to workout’ into ‘I get to workout.’  

 

 

 

 

There are many different organizations where you can connect with a cause or an individual and dedicate your miles/sweat sessions to them, such as IRun4 .  Or you can create your own dedications and even wear them, such as with grace bands.

 

 

 

 

 

When you struggle to get out the door, or into your workout clothes or to the gym, take a moment and dedicate your workout to someone who can’t. It may change your ‘task’ into an experience of gratitude and appreciation.

 

 

 

 

 

Every year, as they consume more of my grass, I admire dandelions a little bit more.

 

 

 

 

And I strive to emulate them–to be tenacious, to grow where I’m planted, to seek the sunshine and stand tall, and to spread what I have to offer prolifically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re struggling, or someone near to you is struggling, scrounge up that tenacity.

 

 

 

 

 

Be like a dandelion.  

 

 

 

 

Those things don’t quit.

 

 

Talk to you soon,

 

Kate

#BYBY2016