I went to a boot camp exercise class this past weekend with a friend of mine and it made me reminisce of the classes that I used to teach while I was employed as a personal trainer. The instructor was very good. He used a circuit approach and the exercises were pretty basic, but you could vary your effort based on your level of fitness and comfort with the particular exercise so it was really for all types of people. Most of the exercises were done individually but a small few were done with a partner which kept it motivating.
This class reminded me of how simple it is to exercise and get in shape! Please don’t confuse simple with easy though because they really are different concepts. The exercises didn’t require and equipment other than your own body, although you could add weights if you wanted the extra boost. The group class was great and certainly helps those of us who need a little extra help in holding ourselves accountable or those who prefer the camaraderie. However, all of these exercises you could do at home your own motivation and a little bit of space so you don’t hit anything.
The exercises are timed and you did each more for one full minute (pacing yourself!) and you rested a minute before you went on to the next one. This gets your heart rate up just a little and works your large muscle groups. I would suggest you alternate between upper and lower body moves so you can finish the workout…alternatively you could do all the same body area if you are a glutton for punishment.
Simple ideas include: lunges, planks, sit ups, push ups, 6 inches, bicycles, jump squats, jumping jacks
I’m sure you can think of more…
We all know that we’re supposed to stretch. We have good intentions but maybe we’re not sure what to do or how to do it. Is it before I exercise or after? How long should I do it for? And our work out is done and over and we’re off to the next thing on the list. I know, I’m guilty of it to. But we need to remember that flexibility is a key part of our fitness health so we should make a concise effort to do it. The cold winter is especially a good time to focus on this because our muscles are colder and need a little more help warming up, plus it’s good exercise that we can easily do inside and in front of the TV.
So how do I increase my flexibility? I stretch before and after I exercise and I do it differently because they serve two different goals.
Before I exercise I prefer to do a more active stretch. The goal here is to warm your muscles in preparation for your workout. This could be jumping jax which raise your heart rate and stretches your extremities. You can do some pick ups (short sprints), or lunges.
After I exercise I do a more traditional stretch routine. The goal here is to stretch your muscles to gain flexibility because your body is already warmed up and loose. I make sure I cover the major muscle groups, especially my legs, and focus on my quads and hamstrings. In order to get the maximum benefit, I hold each stretch for AT LEAST 40 seconds and repeat the stretches on each side 2-3 times.
What do you do to increase your flexibility?
As my mileage is steadily increasing in preparation for the marathon I need to remember to practice what I preach – that is to stretch.
I’m running more days of the week and I’m out there longer. I’ve also added interval training back into the routine to maximize my muscle capacity. What I realized that I need to pay more attention is my flexibility and more specifically, my hamstrings. I didn’t come up with this on my own – my body told me and it decided to tell me halfway through my Tuesday night run. You’re body has this amazing ability to get your attention and if you ignore it, it will only scream louder until you listen. So, my hamstrings are pretty sore and my calves are a little tight too now that I think about it.
The best way to gain the most from your stretching is actually after your workout when your muscles are already warmed up. Yes, I know – you need to stretch before you workout but that’s more of a warm up and doesn’t do much for your overall flexibility.
You need to focus on your major muscle groups for the most part. Your quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings are all importing but don’t forget about your back – those are core muscles there too! Most of know the basic stretches: lean against a wall with your feet flat give you a pretty good calf stretch, touching your toes is good for hamstrings, and holding your ankle behind you really gets the front of your thigh (Quad). However, to get the maximum benefit, make sure you’re holding the stretch for at least 30-40 seconds and two times each alternating sides. Anything less than that is not going to give you the flexibility needed to keep injury and soreness at bay.
I’m very excited. This morning after about an hour of trying the website and having it hang every time I hit the next button I finally received my confirmation that I was officially registered for The Broad Street Run. Yay!
I’m more excited because the rest of my running plans and goals for 2012 can be finalized. I try to schedule one race per month. This keeps me motivated and engaged in my training. I’ve started with a winter run this year already – the 9.3 miler aptly named the “Terrible Tyler” after the hills at Tyler State Park. One of them is actually named “The Widow Maker”. It’s a bad hill. The remainder of my races will mostly be monthly 5K’s starting in March, with the Broad Street 10 Miler in May, the NJ State Triathlon in July, and the Philadelphia Marathon in November. I’ll probably through in a Mud Run for fun because I’ve never run one and I like to try one new race per year to keep it interesting. There is also an 18 mile run in LBI in October that’s nice.
So, over the next several weeks and months I will be writing about training in addition to nutritional tips & tricks. You don’t have to be entered in an official race to consider yourself in training. Training can be just you wanting to fulfill your goal of being healthier, losing weight, or relieving stress (or all 3!)
For now, the countdown is on for me and about 30,000 other runners who managed to register for Broad Street in a record time of 5 hours. I’m thinking it can’t be harder than a marathon…