A beginning without an end

So have you got the guts?

Are you exercising? Do you have a goal? You do? That’s great! Now, how about a plan? You don’t have a plan? If you don’t have a plan, how do you plan to achieve your goal? You could go day to day and hope that you will eventually reach your goal but having  a plan will help you in achieving that goal.

Details

Planning out what you need to do to realize your goal is a great way to first off see if it’s achievable. If it’s not a realistic goal, most times that will come out during planning. Planning also helps in sticking to what it is you need to do to reach that goal. It’s something you can put on your calendar, into your schedule that you feel you need to do. Seeing it written down is a great way to make it part of your day.

If you have a goal of running a race, let’s say a 5km race, and you don’t plan out your training it can be really hard to set a target for that race and to know if it’s a realistic target. Putting together a training plan will help you on race day to have a realistic goal, an achievable goal. Planning can also help in preventing injuries from happening. Planning out your training, and sticking to it, allows you to train realistically and not overtax the body during training or during the event.

Making the time

Not having a plan makes it easier to miss training. It’s easy to find something to occupy that time you would have used for training. Let’s face it, we are all busy and will find things to occupy our time. By scheduling your training or gym time in your calendar allows you to visualize that event. It’s something you can see, something that is there reminding you what you should be doing. It also helps you in planning your day and making time for working out. It helps you in putting together your day setting aside time not only for working out but also other things you need to get done. This also helps in dealing with guilt that you might be taking too much time for yourself and not other things.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the things we have to do every day. Putting these things into a schedule, or a calendar allows you to get a handle on them and realize that you can get them done and still get in a workout, even if it’s only a half hour. But what usually happens is we feel that there is too much to do and our workout gets put aside.

Also remember that we should be taking the time to work out. Working out has many benefits that impact multiple aspects of our lives that it should be given the priority it deserves.

Back to it

Ok, back to planning. Set a goal. Could be a short term goal or a long term goal. Plan what it is you need to do to reach that goal, and be realistic about it. If you aren’t sure how to plan for the goal consult an expert in that area, or a personal trainer. Put your plan into your calendar. Take each day as a singular day and stick to your plan. Each day then becomes a week, and the weeks become a month.

When you reach the end of the first month you can then look back and reflect in awe at your progression. Another benefit of having a plan is the motivation it brings with it. I remember training for a 10k race. My first 10k race was one that didn’t have any planning. I trained in the sense of exercising each week but nothing specific towards my goal. This time I put together a schedule. A 16 week period of training, increasing mileage each week. Incorporating runs longer than 10k but also including interval training. The result was I ran a 10k about 6 minutes quicker than the one where I had no plan.

That’s one example.

For everyone

Don’t feel that you have to participate in an event to have a plan. All you need is a goal and you should have a goal. Lose 10lbs, add 10lbs of muscle, increase vertical leap, or run a sub 50 minute 10k. If you don’t have a goal, you are losing the opportunity to experience the motivation that comes with reaching that goal. Without a goal, you increase the chance of losing interest and potentially stop working out. I see it all the time. People working out for the sake of working out. They have no goal and because of this they aren’t measuring their progress. Boredom sets in and because of the perceived lack of results they stop working out.

Set the goal. Plan it. Then do it. And when you achieve it, celebrate it. You deserve it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Put me back on the line

Feet up, feet down.

Recently I was asked what can be done to improve cardio well being. I explained that to improve cardio, you need to work intensely. Keeping yourself in that moderate to light moderate range just won’t improve cardio fitness. You need to push yourself to improve both aerobic and anaerobic health.

So what exercises can you do? Quite a few actually. Simple things like burpees, jump squats, mountain climbers, etc. But, all of these exercises can be compromised and not provide the benefit they are setup to be.

Another option

Other than tying someone to a treadmill in such a way that they cannot stop, what exercise can be done that almost has the same effect? Skipping!

Skipping is tough. It’s a great exercise to build cardio fitness. And, you can’t help but jump when that rope comes down to where your feet are. Of course you can always stop skipping after a few repetitions but if done properly, and with determination, skipping almost forces you to keep exercising as the rope goes around and around.

And there are other benefits than improving cardio fitness. The legs get a good workout, and so does the upper body, especially the arms and shoulders from moving the rope around. Also, your core gets a great workout from stabilizing your body as you skip.

Although a great exercise, skipping can be boring. But, there are different ways you can skip. Let’s look at a few options for our skipping routine:

  • The basic – I think everyone has done this one at one point in their life. The rope rotates forward and you jump with both feet at the same time. Round and round the rope goes. Straight forward isn’t it.
  • The lateral – Move side to side when jumping rope. You don’t have to move too much, 15 cm’s should be enough.
  • The reverse – Swing the rope backwards. Different, but effective.
  • The alternator – Alternate the foot that lands from one to the other, keeping the opposite foot up. Switch from one foot to the other.
  • The double – Jump high enough that you can swing the rope by twice before landing. Tough! You probably won’t be able to do this one for as long as the others, but give it a shot if you have been skipping for a while now. Something different.

 

Mixing it

If you find any exercise boring, you won’t do it. Why would you? Exercising should be engaging, not something that turns you off from doing it. The five options above should help in keeping skipping engaging and help you get on your way to having awesome cardio!

Remember, skipping just isn’t for kids. Everyone can enjoy in its fun!

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

worth its weight in gold

Rain on me.

This article may be more relevant for people living in my geographical area, specifically North America because we are coming up to summer. Five days from now it will officially be summer.

I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone that we need to stay hydrated and it is especially easier to lose that water when it’s warmer. Your body needs water to function and if not adequately hydrated, you can run into performance issues and even health issues. If you are someone who sweats a lot be sure to also replenish your electrolytes.

If you want more information on why we need water and electrolytes, read the following post.

 

Lastly

Remember, by the time your body gives you that thirsty signal, you are already dehydrated. If you are training in hot weather, or a hot room, be sure to have a water bottle with you.

One last thing. Don’t be someone who thinks it’s better to tough it out instead of having water. That doesn’t do anyone any good.

 

Yours in health,

Darryl

beyond all things

Moving towards balance

It’s something that gets overlooked. Something that gets neglected. Generally needs to be done at the end of our workout. Stretching. I get it. I get why people don’t stretch. We can barely find enough time to work out, and now you are asking me to spend 10 minutes stretching. Ugh, there isn’t enough time.

Yes, time is a commodity that all of us could use more of. But, stretching can not only make us more flexible, it can also help us with other issues that are going on with our body.

Why

Why do we need to stretch? Mainly to lengthen muscles that have shortened. Let’s look at our hip flexors. Almost everyone has tight, shortened hip flexors because of all the sitting we do. And having these muscles shortened can cause us hip issues, back pain and other discomforts. Stretching our shortened muscles will help us alleviate pain and possibly prevent injury. An injury we incur, such as a back injury, may not always be due to the area injured i.e. a sore back may not be due to the back. Injuries can be caused due to too tight or too loose muscles that interact with that area.

Knowing this, we don’t want to stretch muscles that are already loose and long. That’s just as bad as not stretching tight muscles. So what muscles do you need to stretch and how do you know? A good place to start is to have a posture assessment. This should tell you what muscles are out of balance and what needs to be stretched.

How

Now that we know what muscles need to be stretched, how do we stretch them? I can’t go into how to stretch every muscle we have, that would make this article very long, and I don’t think I would be doing you any benefit. Take it upon yourself to spend some time with a personal trainer to go over stretching. Learning by having someone show you what needs to be done is much better than just reading about it.

What I will tell you is that you should be holding the stretch for no less than 60 seconds and doing the stretch no less than twice. Also, pain is not good. If you are experiencing pain when stretching than you are putting too much of a load on your muscle that you are working on. Bouncing while stretching? No good either. This will cause the muscle to contract which is what we are trying to avoid. Stay relaxed having just a bit of tension on the muscle. And breathe, breathe in deep and exhale deep. Remember, stretching should be a relaxing process, not something that gets you worked up. Something you might notice is that about 30 seconds into the stretch you may feel the muscle loosen up. This is a good opportunity to extend the stretch to a point where you have the same amount of tension you initially had.

 

Make the time

Set aside the time to stretch. Even if you do this outside of your normal workout you will still benefit. Just remember don’t stretch cold muscles. This could lead to injury.

Breathe, relax, and slowly stretch. You will get there.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

its night before its afternoon

ticking away…

Free time is in short supply these days it seems. Various commitments and usually it’s our health that ends up taking the back seat. I have written posts on what we can do in a shorter amount of time (tabata interval training) but this may not be for everyone, or is not the only training you would like to do.

So what can be done if you don’t have that much time but want to do some resistance training? In this post I’m going to cover what can be done to target a large amount of muscles in a shorter period of time. This might just help you get in that workout when you are crunched for time. Which, might be all the time.

Start

Let’s take a look at what exercises we can do that will target a large part of the body:

  • Clean and jerk – If you are a beginner to working out take a pass on this one. Also, I would recommend getting some coaching on this exercise as it is a complicated exercise. Also, go light. You don’t need a lot of weight for this exercise to be effective. The clean and jerk will target your quads, hamstrings, calf, glutes, abs, shoulders, biceps, triceps and others. It’s also an exercise that would be classified as a full range exercise allowing you to go through a full range squat. But technique is important to avoid injury. Be sure you know what you are doing before attempting.
  • Pull Ups – Very effective for targeting the back muscles, ab muscles, bicep muscles, forearm muscles. Tough to do, but if you can only do a few, do them. You will get better.
  • Squats – Great leg worker? Yes, but great core worker too! We can work our core without having to work it directly doing exercises that recruit the core for stabilizing purposes. Want to try something different? Try a front squat. Place the bar across the shoulders for a more challenging squat that places more stress on the quads than the hamstrings. Also, you will find the core engaging more, at least you should. Be ready to use less weight though.

No longer the enemy

Now, who cares if you have only 20 minutes to work out. With these exercises you now have options to get that workout in. Watch for a future article focusing more on body weight to tackle the same problem.

You no longer have to feel guilty.

Yours in health,

Darryl