Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Making New Years Resolutions a Reality

As 2009 is rapidly coming to an end and the New Year is approaching, the concept of a ‘new years resolution’ may be subtly (or not-so-subtly) nagging at the back of your mind. Why? Because New Year’s Resolutions are usually goals you make for yourself that you know will ‘be good for you’ but not particularly easy or enjoyable to achieve and maintain (if it were easy it wouldn’t really be worth making a resolution about right?).

One of the top New Years resolutions in North America deals with health and fitness; most of which fall into one or more of the following six categories:


·      Weight loss

·      Diet

·      Exercise

·      Physique/Body

·      Health

·      Fitness Level


Almost everyone struggles with or can improve in at least one of these areas (myself included)! It can be daunting to decide where to even begin picking a New Years resolution that is best for you – In fact, it is often easiest to just scrap it or pick something so easy it won’t be much of an accomplishment to reach it (this seems to be my approach in the past).


This year, I have decided to spend some time reflecting on my life this past year and choose something I believe will be a positive change for myself or for the lives of others, something I want to achieve. I know it must be challenging yet attainable and realistic.


I only have a few days left and promise to lock one down before the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve. In truth , I believe that by sharing this, it will make my goal more ‘real’ and  hopefully you (whoever you are) will hold me to it!


In addition, I invite you to do the same: to make 2010 a new year, a better year and decide upon one thing you can change or improve in your life – and the hardest part: to share it here with me on this blog. I would love to hear your resolutions (and hopefully it will inspire me or someone else), you never know who you touch.

But if you do decide to post, I warn you not to be surprised if I check in with you for a progress report.


Happy Resoluting!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

7 Ways to Keep Fit over the Holidays

When it comes to the holiday season, everyone gets busier than usual, between Christmas shopping, baking, decorating, the onset of more social gatherings, holiday parties, and traveling, it is easy for your workout routine to suffer.

Unfortunately, the fact that the holidays also entail more drinking and eating than usual, it is a time one would think to be MORE important to keep up with one’s fitness regimen in order to keep ourselves from mirroring Santa Claus’ waistline or losing the fitness level we have built throughout the year.

Fortunately, with a little proactive planning, you can maintain your fitness level, no matter where you are or how busy you get. The key is to be creative and practice shorter but more intense workouts. Here are a few tips on how to keep in shape while you travel:

Do a "Condensed-but-Intense-Workout"

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that my entire philosophy revolves around the theory of ‘quality over quantity’ when it comes to working out. That being said, go ahead and customize your own 30 min workout.

For example, you may choose to warm up with 5 - 7 minutes of jumping jacks, running on the spot, vertical jumps, burpees or any other activity of your choice. Then combine three lower body exercises (eg. lunges, wall squats, one leg squats) and three upper body exercises (eg. chair dips, push-ups, running arms).Then finish up with some abdominal exercises, low back lifts and stretches.

Or, try one of my workouts throughout this blog, a couple I recommend include:

Get Up 30 Minutes Earlier

Our time over the holidays tends to be packed with family and friend events, shopping, baking, traveling etc. It is easy to get wrapped up in the day and not have time to squeeze in a workout. To defeat this, try getting up 30 minutes earlier, as difficult as it is, 30 minutes of sleep won’t kill you and the exercise in the morning will actually provide more energy throughout your day. Getting out of bed is the hardest part!Get Active in Airports

If flight delays leave you with extra time at the airport, take advantage of it. Store your luggage in an airport locker and take a brisk walk through the terminal or take a jog outside the airport.

Everything in Moderation

Rather than trying to stick to a diet over the holidays, go ahead and enjoy a little of your favorites. Dieting and depriving yourself makes for a miserable experiece and often leads to binging later on. Instead, have a snack such as an apple with peanut butter, or nuts and fruit, before your event or party so you don't arrive starving. Then choose 1 or 2 of your favorite indulgences and thoroughly enjoy them. This way you won't feel like you missed out but you also won't have overdone it.

Bring Tubes, Bands and More

Don't leave out fitness equipment when you’re packing for a trip. Bring fitness videos, sneakers, workout apparel, a bathing suit or other gear that you can fit in your bag. Inspirational memos from a trainer or a motivational CD could help you get moving. However, most people find keeping a picture of a piece of clothing they would like to wear and feel great in seems to work best.

Get a Jump Rope

Jumping rope is an incredible, efficient way to get in a few minutes of intense cardio exercise and it can be done just about anywhere. If you don’t have a jump rope, try climbing flights of stairs instead.
Here is an example jump rope workout to try:

Plan to Relax

Don't overdo it. Staying fit is important, but don’t lose sight of the real reason for the holidays; spending time with family and friends. If the idea of exercising over the holidays makes your stomach turn, then view this as your time to take a break from it – a week or two won’t kill you. Bottom line: the holidays is the one time of year you should truly enjoy.

Ease Back Into Your Routine

Depending on how much you worked out during your travel, you may need to gradually ease back into your old routine. You may want to consider using lighter weights or decrease the intensity or the duration of your workouts until you can return to pre-holiday conditions.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The ’30-30’ Cycling Workout

This workout is perfect when you want an incredible workout that will breed quick results and produce that euphoric endorphin high – not to mention that the time will fly by (This is one of my favorite workouts: fast yet efficient).

Like my 30 min treadmill workout, it can be intense, but only YOU will have the power over just how intense it can be – so if nothing is stopping you, give it everything you’ve got!

 Where to do it?? I perform this workout on a stationary spin bike in a gym, or on the trainer I have put my road bike on at home. If biking isn’t your thing you could definitely do this work out on an elliptical machine or any of the cardio machines in the gym.

And for all those real ‘cyclists’ and ‘triathletes’ – this is an excellent training workout – I actually learned it from a good friend and world-class ironman - it will make you strong, fitter and faster.

The incredible aspect about ’30-30’s’ is that it only really entails 15 minute of ‘all-out’ hard effort – which sounds easy enough but it is the limited recovery and high intensity bursts that make it very challenging – similar to running the 200m dash 30 times with only 30 seconds of recovery. By the 20th repeat you will be feeling it – be strong and push through.

Resistance?? I recommend putting enough resistance on the bike so that your legs are NOT spinning out of control (anything from what feels like a flat road to a slight incline). You will likely have to add resistance on your sprints to keep from spinning out of control.

Modification: As mentioned above this workout is intense and is meant to be performed at a high level of exertion, that being said, if you don't quite feel at the level to handle the duration of the workout, it is better to shorten it (do less intervals) and maintain high intensity rather than skimp of the intervals and complete the whole time. If you are just beginning try 3-5 intervals, take a 5 min break of easy cycling and then repeat one more segment of 3-5 intervals.


5-7 Min Warm-Up

30 seconds ‘ON’ (Hard-Moderate- Hard Effort)

30 seconds ‘OFF’ (Recovery)

x 30 repeats

5-10 min Cool-Down

Definition of Exertion Levels:

Hard Moderate (HM): HR: 80%-90% of Max. Pace fast and a bit uncomfortable; breathing forceful. Improve anaerobic capacity and threshold, improved speed

Hard (H): HR: 90%-100% of Maximum Pace, a sprinting effort, unsustainable for long period of time;              labored breathing. Builds anaerobic and muscular endurance, increased power.

Recovery: Heart Rate (HR) comes back down. Perceived Exertion: Relaxed, getting your breathing                  back. Keep legs spinning but take speed and any resistance off the bike

Friday, December 4, 2009


This workout is one of the most efficient yet simple ways to push your fitness limits, blast calories and ultimately get into the shape of your life. The nature of this workout consists of high intensity intervals, which means it cannot be done every day.

Many people, especially fitness junkies and athletes, will finish this workout and feel the adrenaline, the endorphins and the results and think if they did it every day, they would get that much fitter (either that or they’ll never want to go through it again). However, this is not the case, the truth is, you cannot push your body to threshold everyday, doing so will lead to diminishing returns and likely burnout and/or injury.

The key is to constantly change up your workouts and keep your body guessing, so try to add this workout in 

once or twice a week as a substitute for your current workout.

The BIG MYTH people tend to fall into believing is that you need more than 30 minutes to get an incredible workout. The truth is, to sustain a longer workout, especially 50 min and over, you cannot perform with the same intensity you would in a shorter workout.                               

 – To get fitter and see big results you need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone – it’s okay to struggle, it makes you stronger!

I called this a treadmill workout because it is approaching winter and the convenience of a treadmill is very popular at this time of year, but this workout can also be done running outside or on an elliptical machine if you are injured and need a low impact substitute (I currently do most of my workouts on the elliptical, as a back injury has made me very sensitive to high impact running).

I am going to use a perceived scale of exertion rather than heart rate to indicate the level you should be at throughout the workout. Below are descriptions of each level:

Exertion Levels Defined

Easy (E): Heart Rate (HR) 50%-60% of max. Perceived Exertion: Relaxed, easy pace; rhythmic breathing. Beginning-level aerobic training; reduces stress, enjoyable

Easy Moderate (EM): HR: 60%-70% of Max. PE: Pace comfortable; slightly deeper breathing, conversation possible. Basic cardiovascular training; good recovery pace

Moderate/Tempo (M):HR: 70%-80% of Max. PE: Pace moderate; more difficult to       hold conversation. Improved aerobic capacity; optimal cardiovascular training

Hard Moderate (HM): HR: 80%-90% of Max. Pace fast and a bit uncomfortable; breathing forceful. Improved anaerobic capacity and threshold, improved speed.

Hard (H): HR: 90%-100% of Max. Pace a sprinting effort, unsustainable for long period of time; labored breathing. Anaerobic and muscular endurance, increased  power.


Warm Up - 1.5 miles or 10 min

Stage 1 - 3 x 2min Interval

Breakdown: 1 min moderate - 30 sec hard moderate – 30 moderate - 1 min recovery 

*Repeat x 3

 Steady State/Recovery – 2 min

Stage 2 - 30 Seconds On (Hard Moderate to Hard) – 30 Off  (Easy/ Recovery) x 5

The ’30 seconds on’ should be as fast as you can go in a controlled effort

Cool Down – 5 min 

STRETCH – I cannot stress the importance of cool down and stretching enough – I’ve learned the hard – please do so before AND after your workout.




Saturday, November 28, 2009

Washboard Abs

One of the most commonly asked questions I receive is about how to achieve 'rockhard' abs. Clearly the stomach is one the biggest trouble zones for men and women. However, due to biological predispositions women tend to struggle with this more (either that or they are more concerned about it).

So if you are doing extreme amounts of crunches and feel like you have tried everything in hopes of achieving washboard abs you are not alone. Abdominal exercises are some of the most common exercises performed by everyone from beginners to elite athletes. However, to get a flat stomach you need to do more than just ab exercises, you see, everyone has the ability to get a six-pack, it is often just hiding under a layer (or two) of belly fat. So the key is to reduce your belly fat in order to start showing that stomach.

There are a combination of things you can do to kick start your Perfect Stomach transformation:

Abdominal Exercises

There are many exercises you can do that are simple and can be done at home to help strengthen all your abdominal muscles. I recommend getting an exercise ball (they have these in virtually every gym as well). Using the ball for crunches requires that you stabilize your torso while balanced on the ball and you end up using more muscles than when performing standard crunches. However a few of my favorite abs exercises include:

-The bicycle
-Leg Lifts
-Scissor Legs

I recommend 2 by 30 seconds of each exercise


For most people (including myself) this is the hardest part!

In order to eliminate body fat and ‘tone up’ requires proper nutrition. Contrary to many fad diet beliefs, to achieve long lasting results a balanced diet of carbohydrate, protein and fat is crucial. Eating several small meals throughout the day helps many people stay more satisfied and reduces hunger.

Other successful tips for reducing fat and avoiding weight gain include:

-getting enough calcium
-eating breakfast
-eating high fiber foods
-staying well-hydrated by drinking water throughout the day

Also make sure not to cut calories too drastically or you could inadvertently lower your metabolism.

Cardio Exercise

I think this is one of the most critical components of a great stomach. I do not believe in spot reduction; for example, you cannot do 100 crunches and expect perfect abs. You need to perform aerobic activity – the more intense, and the more dynamic the better. This site provides all kinds of great examples of workouts you can try. Cardio, especially intense cardio, blasts calories and burns fat and will be the key to an overall great physique.

Core Exercise

You can also perform core stability exercises to improve your torso strength, balance and stability – this is the essence of Pilates classes. Your core is made up of the abdominals, lower back and hips and creates a foundation for all other movement. These muscles stabilize the spine and create a strong center around which the extremities can move. A strong core is important in every aspect of movement; especially power movements.

The plank exercise is a good indicator of core strength. Test your own core strength by seeing how long you can hold a plank position, work up to a one minute hold.

Again, I stress, there is no single isolated exercise that will breed perfect abdominals, it's a combination of things that must be incorporated into your everyday lifestyle.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The following workout is very powerful when done correctly; however, it requires a certain ‘base fitness level’ to complete. If you are active and workout on average 2-5 times per week at a level that gets your heart rate up to an uncomfortable level, you should give this workout a try. It is the ultimate cure for breaking through any sort of plateau, whether it’s weight-loss or fitness-level related.

This workout uses what are called ‘Tabata Intervals”. Tabata intervals are claimed to be the ‘magical exercise’. I have tried and experimented with them and the truth is they’re not as ‘magical’ as the claim. However, using components of them in your workout really does breed seemingly magical results.

So what is a Tabata Interval?
Essentially it’s just 20 seconds of 100% all out high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This would be considered 1 cycle.
You do this for a totally of 8 cycles.

Now the big promise about this is that you can get an incredible workout in just 4 minutes, and that’s completely true – it’s an incredible workout, but it’s still not going to burn more than a 30 – 45 minute workout (unless you are simply walking).

My belief is that you can combine the power of the Tabata intervals into your workout and get a truly magical yet intense 20-30 min workout that will be more effective than a 45-60 min workout. The power of this lies in how much intensity you can handle and how much you can push yourself.

Below is an example of a powerful Tabata-Fusion Workout I have created:

**I will warn you that it’s intense, but the true fitness results and calorie burn are a product of how intense you can be – so go ahead and challenge yourself to reach beyond your comfort zone.


6 min Cardio (this can be running, biking, elliptical, treadmill – even running on the spot at home)

Interval Round One:

Round 1 – Sprint 20 seconds -
Rest 10 seconds (can do sprints on the spot if space or resources are limited)
Round 2 – Pushups 20 seconds
- Rest 10 seconds
Round 3 – Mountain Climbers 20 seconds -
Rest 10 seconds
Round 4 – Burpees 20 seconds
- Rest 10 seconds (see http://dynamicworkouts.blogspot.com/2009/09/plyometrics-workout.html for Burpee explanation)

Repeat Cycle 3 times for a total of approx 6 minutes
4 min Active Cardio Recovery
Interval Round Two:

Round 1 – Sprints 20 seconds -
Rest 10 seconds
Round 2 – Pushups 20 seconds -
Rest 10 seconds
Round 3 – Squat Jumps (Squat down – jump straight up and reach hands to sky) 20 seconds -
 Round 4 – Pull Ups or Burpees 20 seconds -
Rest 10 seconds

Repeat Cycle 2-3 times depending on how you feel and how much time you have
Cool Down – Easy Cardio for 4-6 min
Total Time 24 -28 min

Note: You can increase or decrease the warm up and cool down time, depending on how you feel and how much time you have.

Important: Stretch out afterward to avoid tightening up

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Try These Exercises to Reduce Lower Back Pain

If you have lower back pain, strengthening and stretching the muscles surrounding your back may help.

Strengthening Exercises: focused on your back, stomach, and leg muscles.

strengthening exercise for back, abs and neck (also strengthens arms and legs)

Lie on your stomach, with your elbows and forearms on floor. In a push-up position, balance on your toes and forearms. Keep your back straight and legs straight. (Like a plank) Tighten your abs. Hold position for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat five to ten times. If this exercise is too difficult, use balance on your knees instead of your toes.

Side Plank: strengthens the obliques (side abdominal muscles)

Lie on your right side. Place your right elbow and forearm on floor. Tighten your abs. Push up until shoulder is over elbow. Keep your body in a straight line – feet, knees, hips, shoulders, head aligned. Only forearm and side of right foot are on floor (feet are stacked). Hold position for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat five to ten times. Repeat on left side. If this exercise is too difficult, balance on stacked knees (bend knees and keep feet off floor) instead of feet or stagger your feet rather than stacking them.

Wall Squat: strengthening exercise for back, hips and quads and, surprisingly, this exercise is great for the core.

Stand with your back against a wall, heels about 18 inches from the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Tighten abs. Slide slowly down the wall into a crouch with knees bent to about 90 degrees. If this is too difficult, bend knees to 45 degrees and gradually build up from there. Count to five and slide back up the wall. Repeat 5 times.

Leg and arm raises: strengthening exercise for back and hip muscles.

Lie on your stomach, arms reached out past your head with palms and forehead on floor. Tighten your abs. Lift one arm (as you raise your head and shoulders) and the opposite leg at the same time (ex.right arm and left leg at the same time), stretching them away from each other. Hold for 8-12 seconds. Switch sides.

As I said above, I never realized just how important a strong core is. I would highly recommend taking a Pilates class in addition to your current regimen.

Basic Crunches: upper abdominal exercise

Lie on back, knees bent. Do not anchor feet. (Anchoring the feet or keeping the legs straight along the floor can strain the lower back). Arms may be folded over your chest or be held beside your ears with elbows out. Tighten your abs. Keep the lower back flat on the floor and neck straight. Keep chin tucked - looking at ceiling helps prevent tilting head up or down. Exhale when raising your torso off the floor, and inhale when lowering. Just raise your head and shoulder off the floor –3 to 6inches is enough. Sitting up all the way is hard on your lower back. Do 10 repetitions.

Be very careful not to pull on your neck or you could overstretch a neck muscle. Keep your elbows out to the side to help avoid pulling neck forward. Don't start out doing too many crunches - the number of crunches performed should be increased slowly.

Move slowly when performing crunches. Do not rely on momentum.

Bicycle Crunch: obliques exercise (sides of the abdomen)

Lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Bring your feet off the ground and bend knees to a 90 degree ankle. Place hands behind ears and reach right elbow to left knee, then left elbow to right knee. Legs should be moving toward each elbow and back in a bicycle motion.

Reverse Crunch: lower abdominal exercise

Lie flat on your back, feet in the air. Bend knees 90 degrees. Place hands under buttocks for support and make sure your lower back remains flat on the floor. Tightening your lower abdomen, lift your buttocks a few inches off your hands. Hold for a moment and lower back down. Do 5 to 15 repetitions.

Leg Lifts: lower abdominal exercise

Lie flat on back. Bend one knee and keep foot flat on floor. Tighten abs. Lift opposite leg about 45 degrees. Hold for a count of 3. Repeat 10 times. Switch sides.

Stretching Exercises: to keep your muscles and other supporting tissues flexible and less prone to injury

Always warm up before stretching exercises. Five minutes of walking, or exercise bike, elliptical trainer, or even marching on the spot is enough. Not warming up before stretching leaves your back susceptible to injuries, causing back pain. Warm muscles are more flexible than cold muscles and are less likely to tear.

Runners' Lunge: hip flexor stretch (low back pain is often caused by overdeveloped or tight hip flexors)

Step into a lunge position. Keep your toes pointed forward and your upper body straight. Support your weight on your thigh, then press down with your hands and extend your hips forward until you feel a stretch from the front of your hip. Hold 15 to 30 seconds, then switch sides. This can also be done from a kneeling position.

Pelvic Tilt: lower back stretching exercise (also strengthens abs)

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Tighten your buttocks and abdomen, flattening the small of back against the floor. Hold for a count of 5. Slowly relax. Repeat5 - 15 times.

Knee to Chest: gluteal stretching exercise

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Grasp your left leg behind the knee/back of thigh and pull knee towards left shoulder. Hold for a count of five. Switch sides. Repeat 5 times.

Piriformis Stretch: stretches Muscles that lie beneath gluteal muscles

Sit on a chair
Place your left ankle over your right leg, just above the knee, and lean forward. 
Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

The Cat /Cow: (from yoga) back stretching exercise

Begin on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. 
Inhale as you drop tummy towards the floor and look up over your head. 
Exhale as you bring your tummy back up, rounding your back as you tuck your chin in and tuck your tailbone in. 
Move slowly back and forth between these two positions pausing on each pose. 
Repeat about 5 times.

The Cobra: back and chest stretching exercise

Lie flat on your stomach, forehead to ground, with your arms bent and palms down on the ground under the shoulders. 
Push downward with arms as you raise your upper torso and arch your back. 
Hold for 3 full breaths before slowly bringing the upper torso back down to the ground.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lower Back Rehab

Low back pain and injuries are among the most infamous and talked about health problems, especially amongst active people. Having an injured back is a horrible experience that can be hard to understand unless you have experienced it for yourself. Injury, especially re-injury, is often caused by overuse and muscle strain. Treating and caring for your back can help you stay active, as well as help you understand that some continued or repeated back pain is not uncommon or dangerous.

Fortunately most low back pain can get better! By staying active, avoiding positions and activities that may increase or cause back pain, using ice, and taking nonprescription pain relievers (such as ibuprofen) as needed will help keep the pain at bay.

When you no longer have acute pain, it is important to start strengthening exercises for your stomach, back, and legs, as well as some stretching exercises. One thing I never realized until my own back injury (I herniated 2 discs and strained a muscle) was how important it is to strengthen the core. Exercise may not only help decrease low back pain, but may actually speed up recovery and prevent re-injury.

**It's important that you don't let fear of pain keep you from trying gentle activity. You should try to be active soon after noticing pain, and gradually increase your activity level.Too little activity can lead to loss of flexibility, strength, and endurance, and then to more pain.

Exercises to reduce low back pain are not complicated and can be done at home without any special equipment. Below is an outline of a well-rounded exercise plan you can use to help strengthen your back once the pain is no longer acute.

Aerobic Exercise: to condition your heart and other muscles, maintain health, and speed recovery. Try low or no-impact activities such as pool walking, jogging, swimming, or the elliptical machine. (See my Training Ater an Injury post for an example of an incredible pool workout to try).

Strengthening Exercises: focused on your back, stomach, and leg muscles.

Stretching Exercises: to keep your muscles and other supporting tissues flexible and less prone to injury.

Always warm up before stretching exercises. Five minutes of walking, or exercise bike, elliptical trainer, or even marching on the spot is enough. Not warming up before stretching leaves your back susceptible to injuries, causing back pain. Warm muscles are more flexible than cold muscles and are less likely to tear.

Keep watching the Dynamic Workouts Blog for exercises you can try in each of these categories. If you would like to receive email updates, please add your email address in the box to the right of this post.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fitter, Faster, Stronger, Leaner – Calorie Blasting Weekly Rotation

In case you are new to this (as I was recently), a ‘rotation’ is known to fitness junkies as the program or workout schedule they follow for a certain period of time. They rotate or change the workout on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Many people have asked what it is that I do for my weekly routine. The amount, intensity, and type of workouts I do varies drastically depending on whether I’m training for something, traveling, battling a nagging injury, etc. But having a solid foundation and knowledge of your options helps you understand how to tweak things according to your schedule, your body, and your health. As we all know, life gets busy and for many people exercising is the first thing to go out the door – however, I am a firm believer that if you really want something badly enough, you make it a priority.

Whether it’s a super action hero body you’re after or simply the ability to run a certain distance, you must make the conscious decision to commit to what it takes to achieve that. If it helps, write down your program for the week so you already know what you want to achieve and you won’t have to think about it. The key knowing what it takes to get what you want and taking the action to go after it, no matter how hard; the results will be well worth it!!

Below is an example of a one week rotation schedule for me this November– it incorporates everything from cardio (of all types to keep from boredom and to keep the body guessing), as well as strength/resistance training, stretching and flexibility.

CARDIO: 30 Min Interval Workout (either running or elliptical machine)
See For Fast Results Try HIIT for an example of interval workout.
Followed by
3 sets of 15 pushups ** push ups are the key to incredibly defined arms
6 minutes of Abs
Plyometrics –10 burpees, 3 x 20 sec bounding, 1-2 min skipping

CARDIO: 25 min bike + 25 min elliptical or run (also known as a brick workout because it forces your body to learn to run after getting off a bike)
Followed by
3 sets of 15 pushups
3 x 15 Running Arms: light dumbbell in each hand (I use 12lb but started at 8lb, the key here is form! Look in mirror and do a running motion with arms only – feet are planted on the ground. Keep your core pulled tight, do 15 on each side – this breeds incredible core and upper body strength, but make sure your form is good, shoulders back, think ‘Strong Arms’.

Vinyasa or other athletic-type YOGA class – usually I do this in the evening because I don’t have time all at once.

CARDIO:45-60 Min in the POOL – swim a mile, then do a running workout in the water: see Training After an Injury

6 min of abs + stretching and PUSH UPS of course!!

CARDIO:Indoor Cycling Class or 50 min of hills on outdoor bike
Plyometric Circuit, see Monday
Followed by
3 sets of 15 pushups
45 seconds of Lateral Leaping (jumping side to side from one leg to the other)

2nd Workout: 20 min swim – mix it up with drills such as kickboard

CARDIO:Easy 30 -45 min of any type of cardio followed by a full body strength training workout consisting of:

-Walking Lunges
-Running Arms
-Step Ups
-Bench Press
-Rowing Arms
-Seated Row
-Pull Ups
-Hamstring Curls

*Approx 2 sets of 15 reps for each – if explanation is needed for any of these please post a comment and I will explain. Also, it is important to change the weight routine frequently so your body doesn’t become to ‘used to it’ and stop producing results

*Due to the high number of reps, I stick to relatively low but still challenging weights, the program is designed for long, lean and toned muscles, rather then big and bulky ones. This routine is also effective for runners looking to get faster!

Warrior Workout –I reserve my Sat mornings for this since it is when I know I will have time!
CARDIO:30-40 min run or elliptical (sometimes I through in a 10 min of tempo, aka faster paced running, in the middle)
60 min Bike ride outside or Spin class
1 mile Swim

*simulates a triathlon in reverse order

STRETCH + 3 x 15 Push Ups

**CAREFUL, this is an EXTREMELY high-calorie burning workout, so make sure to fuel properly and replenish afterward.

Rest or Easy Walk in the park

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jump Your Way Fit in Less than 15 Minutes

Jumping rope is an incredible cardiovascular exercise. It's one of the foundations of a boxer's conditioning program, and you have to be in phenomenal shape to box. The tennis champ Jimmy Connors used to skip rope as part of his conditioning routine.

My advice is to wear supportive cross-trainers, tennis or basketball shoes while skipping rope. This is a great workout that doesn’t require a gym membership, a lot of space, or great weather. It can be done when you are crunched for time, don’t feel like spending a long time exercising or while traveling when you still want to keep up your fitness regimen or get into better shape.

Jumping rope is such a strenuous activity it will be hard to maintain for a long period of time. In fact you can get an INTENSE WORKOUT in much LESS TIME due to the level of exertion needed. Below is an example of a high calorie blasting and fat burning workout you can do anywhere.

· Skip rope for three minutes. (A round in boxing is three minutes long.)
· Take a minute off, and do as many crunches as you can.
· Skip rope for one minute.
· During the next minute between rounds, do as many push-ups as you can.
· Back to skipping for one minute.
· Do wall squats for another minute (back against the wall and squat down until your bent with your legs at a 90 degree angle, hold each squat for 5 full seconds)
· Skip 2 minutes (20 seconds normal skip, 5 seconds on one leg, 5 seconds on other leg, repeat 3 more times until you reach 2 min)
· Hold a plank for one minute (push-up position with elbows bent and forearms on the ground – if you want to make it more challenging try holding one leg up, then the other)
· Skipping jumping jacks for one minute. With one turn of the rope, land with your feet together; then on the next turn, land with your feet far apart--as if you're doing jumping jacks.
· High-knee march (30 seconds): Put your rope to the side for this cool-down interval. As you march in place, bring your knees up until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your elbows bent, and swing your arms with each step.
· Entire workout is less than 15 minutes, but it’s an intense 15 minutes. You can get more out of this workout than a steady paced easy 30-40 minutes on the treadmill.
· If you want to build up, or have extra time, you can repeat this series, either right after or at a different time of day.

You might not be able to do more than a few intervals of some of the suggested ‘in-between-skipping’ exercises. Use any exercise you want during the minute between rounds. Try doing squats and lunges (with or without weights) to give your larger leg muscles added work. Do upper-body exercises with dumbbells during that minute. (Use proper form. Don't rush.) One more thing: skipping rope emphasizes your calves, so be diligent about stretching them.
Another advantage to skipping rope is that you can take one anywhere. And they only cost between $6 and $20; you can order them from jumpropenet.com, jumprope.com, or buyjumpropes.net.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to Fit Exercise into Your Busy Schedule

Here's how to fit exercise into a busy schedule. If you're like me, you're busy, a little stressed out, have many things pulling at you in many directions, and on top of that you need to find time to work out. For many people, it usually doesn't happen. Exercising becomes just another problem for you (as does your expanding waistline). Read this article if you're looking for a solution to being able to get your workouts in.

Top 6 Tips for Fitting Exercise into your Life

1. Exercise early in the morning

For most people who lead busy lives, trying to exercise at the health club after work is nearly impossible. Not only are you worn down from working all day, you also have things you need to do with the family, friends etc.

One good solution is to get up an hour earlier and get in your exercise in the morning. Even if it's only a walking program. As hard as it is to drag yourself out of bed, sacrificing just one hour of sleep a couple times a week will actually give you MORE energy throughout the day than that extra hour of sleep you’ll be giving up.

2. Get a Few Pieces of Equipment and Exercise at Home.

If it's possible, buy a treadmill or stationary bike. You'll avoid having to take the time to drive or walk to the health club, and you can do it on your schedule.

However, if you live in a place like NYC, chances are you don’t have the space (or money) for this, when I started out in New York, I invested in a jump rope, resistance band and set of dumbbells. With this equipment you can literally get a full body workout (cardio and strength training), and you don’t even have to leave your bedroom or living room.

Not sure what to do with your new equipment? You can find a wide variety of fitness DVDs to guide you. Total Fitness DVDs has just about anything you need. You can search by workout type and see a brief description of the workout. You can see what equipment is used, the exercise level, and the length of the workout. You can even see a short preview of the workouts. If you’re really time crunched, try the 10 Minute Solution DVDs. Each DVD contains five 10 minute segments. You can do one, two, or all five depending on how much time you have. Or if decide to invest in that treadmill and want to jazz up your workout a bit, you could give Tracey Staehle’s Walking Strong a try. You can see a preview here by clicking on the DVD cover.

3. Multitask while Exercising

Use the time while you're exercising to better schedule your day. You'd be surprised at what you can do on a treadmill. It's easy to read a book or report while walking. You can eventalk on the phone if you need to. You can exercise during commercials, as soon as you wake up, on your lunch break, or right before bed. Just be sure not to do anything too exhilarating at bedtime. You want to be able to fall asleep.

These are 4 times where you can sneak in 2-3 minutes of exercise. Done multiple times each day, THAT ADDS UP to a good amount of working out. A great thing about this is that you don't sweat... usually. Also, it's been PROVEN that these types of mini-workouts are much better for increasing your metabolism... as compared to the normal 30-60 minute steady-paced workouts once a day.

Don't think this is hard either. You can do jumping jacks, jump rope, jump on a mini-trampoline, or do some pushups. Whatever gets your heart rate up and puts an extra boost in your step.

4. Do hard, fast-paced exercises in 5 minutes

You can do something like fast bodyweight squats. Do as many as you can in 5 minutes. Trust me; this will get your legs burning and your heart-rate up. Running up some stairs for 5 minutes non-stop is also great. These are intense. That's why you can get away with doing just 5 minutes of them in a day. You don't need much of these exercises to get great weight loss results.

5. Exercise on the Weekends/Days Off

This is becoming a more popular concept as people try to find more time for exercise. Weekends/Days Off offer you extra time to fit an easy one hour workout into your schedule.
I also know many ‘weekend warriors’ who use their days off to fit in extra long workouts, since it’s hard for them to do this during the week.

6. Find Additional Ways to Exercise During your Work Day

It's easy to find ways to exercise at work throughout the day. For example, take the steps instead of the elevator. Walk to co-worker's desks instead of sending emails. Take a walk during your lunch hour. You could even try this desk workout. These are just a few examples of how you can find other ways to exercise while on the job.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pre and Post Workout Fuel for Maximizing Metabolism and Results!

Whether you are starting a new exercise program, or already an old pro, it is important to pay more attention to your nutritional intake. When you are eating proper foods, you will see exponential results from your program as nutrition can actually account for up to 90% of the progress you see.

Two of the most critical times for taking in proper nutrition are right before your workout session and immediately afterwards.

Why Do I Need these Pre and Post-Workout Meals?

The pre-exercise meal/snack will help provide your muscles with the fuel they need to perform vigorous exercise as well as help offset any muscle loss that may occur during the workout since weight lifting is a catabolic (breakdown process) in itself. Plus it will keep you from feeling weak and lightheaded.

The meal after the workout serves to supply your body with new energy that it will use to either refill its muscle glycogen stores or to repair the damaged muscle tissues. In addition, a small meal before and after a workout greatly revs up your metabolism. If you skip this important meal you will drastically jeopardize the results you could see from your workout.

The Pre-Workout Meal

The main purpose of the pre-workout meal is to fuel the muscles for the upcoming activity. What you choose to consume during this meal is largely dependant upon the time of the day that you work out.

For the morning workout a liquid meal is often the best option as you won’t have a lot of time to digest the food before you hit the gym. Some people may simply have a hard time tolerating solid food first thing in the morning, thus they do better with a meal replacement shake. Another great idea if you don’t like shakes is a piece of fruit or some bread and jam or peanut butter.
If you exercise in the afternoon or evening, you can follow pretty much the same guidelines. However, since you have more time to play with a true meal 60-90 min before the workout is sufficient.

Try to take in this snack 15-20 minutes before your workout.
Example Snacks:
Protein Shake
Banana with scoop of peanut butter
Yogurt (not the diet or light kind) – this is actually one of my favorites.
Banana and granola bar
Piece of toast or bread with peanut butter or jam
Dry cereal with fruit

Post-Workout Meal

As I said above, the post-workout meal serves to replenish muscular glycogen stores as well as to help provide the amino acids your muscles need to repair and rebuild themselves after being broken down through strength training activities. Contrary to popular belief, this meal will actually help your body burn more calories as it keeps your metabolism at peak performance. Your body burns more knowing it is not going into starvation mode.

It is always best for you to try and consume this meal as soon as possible after your workout as there is a critical window of opportunity when the muscles are more receptive to taking in the nutrients.

Many people choose to also consume a shake for this meal as it is easily transported to the gym so you can have it on your way out.

In this meal a higher carbohydrate amount is recommended .This not only replaces the energy you just expended but also provides your body with the energy required to synthesize new muscle tissue. Shorting yourself at this point will be very detrimental to your results so it is of utmost importance that you don't skimp on carbohydrates during this meal. If you are one of the individuals who tends to fear carbohydrates, thinking they will be stored as body fat, you can rest assured that eating them immediately after a workout is the one time of the day when they will not be stored as body fat. Furthermore, if you often find yourself craving sweets or simple grains such as candy, cereal or bagels, now is the time to eat them because you actually want the carbohydrates to be released into the blood stream rapidly.

To sum up, you should consume a lean protein source, from meat or from protein powder depending on your needs and preferences and then a simple carbohydrate source.

Try incorporating pre and post workout meals into your next workout. It may take some time to get used to it, but I am confident you will reap impressive results in no time. These meals are just about as important as the actual work you do in the gym in terms of the progress you are going to see – the nutritional portion is not something to take lightly.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Monday, October 12, 2009

For Fast Results Try HIIT

If you want fast results and to step up your workout, give high intensity interval training (HIIT) a try. This workout is great for runners, as it will make them faster, stronger and fitter, but it can also be used by anyone who really wants to blast calories, drop weight, and tone up fast. Just keep in mind that you will get from the workout what you put into it. Higher intensity is the key here.

The best part about this workout is that if you really work it you can get more out of 30 minutes, than you would by working out at an easy steady state for over an hour!

This workout can be done running, spinning on an elliptical, or on a stationary bike.

The interval efforts should be at a pace that is hard (8 out of 10 on a perceived scale of exertion), something you can sustain for the duration of the workout. I gauge my level of effort by my ability to talk. For example you should be able to get a word out here and there but a full sentence would be very difficult. By the end of the interval you should be breathless.

Warm Up - 1 mile or approx. 10 min

1 min Interval
1 min recovery (walk or jog)

2 min Interval
2 min recovery

3 min Interval
3 min recovery

2 min Interval
2 min recovery

1 min Interval
1 min Recovery

Cool Down - 5-10 min

***I know it is hard to push yourself into such an uncomfortable zone, but this is what will set you apart from others. You need to push yourself beyond comfort to achieve superior results.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Aerobic Base Building

Why build an aerobic base?

Want to hear something ironic? One of the best ways to increase your running speed is to slow down. You’ve probably heard that cardio intervals are the best way to train quickly and boost your performance. It’s true. But before you can shock your body with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) you need to build an aerobic base.

I know it takes discipline to train in your aerobic zone when you’re dying to see how hard you can push yourself. Low intensity workouts can seem useless. Hang in there. You’ll see huge benefits down the road. Aerobic means “with oxygen.” The more work you can perform aerobically, the more efficient you will become.

How do you build an aerobic base?

Begin by finding your maximum heart rate.

• Subtract your age from 180
• Now select which category you fall into
o If you don’t already work out regularly or you’re recovering from an illness or injury, subtract 10
o If you only exercise occasionally, subtract 5
o If you have worked out regularly for the past year, leave the number where it is

This is the number you’ll work with. To build an aerobic base, you need to keep you heart rate at or below this number during your next 6-12 weeks of training.

Here’s the easy part: wear your heart rate monitor and do whatever exercise you prefer. You can jog, cycle, workout on the treadmill or elliptical trainer. Have fun with your workouts. You’ll be ready for intervals in no time!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Plyometrics Workout

I am a huge believer in adding plyometrics to your workouts. In my running training we did a ton of plyotmetrics. It not only made us faster and fitter, it made us as lean as they come, stripping any fat left off our bodies.
Plyometrics involves short periods of explosive type exercise that really get your heart rate up and make you breathless before you know it.
This is a great supplement to your regimen, and I recommend anyone who has hit a rut or plateau in their workouts to try them.
Below is an example of a mini-workout you can try.
The benefit of plyometrics is that they can be done anywhere anytime with no equipment needed!

1) One-Leg Split Squats with Lateral Hops:

One leg squats are an intensely challenging exercise... You can progress with these by incorporating lateral hops on each leg. To do these, stand with one leg forward and one leg back. As you lower the front leg to the point where these is about a 90 degree bend in your front leg, explode UP and hop laterally about 10-12 inches, hop back to center, and then immediately hop to the other side about the same distance of 10-12 inches, before coming back to the center one last time. Maintain good upright posture at all times and keep the back leg in position. Explode upward and to the side and really feel the enhanced SPRING in this action!

2) One-Leg Hopping:

Integrated into your run workouts or as part of a workout session, these rapid “hops” (done in place or while you’re moving gradually forward) can get challenging! Begin with one foot up and the other in contact with the ground, with support right over your mid-foot. Begin hopping on one foot as fast as you can, as though your feet are in contact with a hot stove or hot coals! Your hips should remain nearly motionless and NOT move up or down. The action is at your feet! After hopping for 30 seconds on one leg, switch to the other side. Begin with 1 or 2 sets of 30-seconds on each side, and progress up to as much as 3-5 sets of 1-minute or more.

If the technical explanation was confusing just thinking of hopping or bounding on each foot like you did when you were a kid.

3) Skipping! (with rope or without)

Occasionally integrate 2-3 sets of 20 to 30 seconds of skipping into your workout. Try to keep ground contact time as short as possible and explode forward, bounding farther and farther with each stride. Start with short segments until your body has time to adapt and build both duration and sets over time. Have fun with it!

4) Burpees:

Jump straight up vertically with your arms reaching for the sky, then immediately jump down and shoot your legs back to push-up position and back in to squat. Repeat this by jumping straight up vertically again. It is like a vertical jump followed by pushup position (except you jump your legs back when your hands hit the ground).
Try two sets of 5 in the beginning and work up to sets of 10.
This one is a maximum calorie burning move and really spikes that heartrate.

To summarize, I like to integrate these explosive segments right into my workouts or runs. Mix it up, challenge yourself, and have fun! When you do these, as well as many other similar exercises, you’ll soon discover that they can tire you out quickly, and that as you fatigue, it becomes harder and harder to get your feet UP off the ground quickly!

As always, you should use caution and start conservatively as you implement these drills into your routine. They are challenging and will result in some soreness if you’re doing them for the first time. But I promise results will be plentiful!

Have fun with them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Running Arms Drill

Upper body strength is important for a runner. Believe it or not, upper body strength will improve your running speed. Moving your arms at the end of a race or at the end of any run will help propel you toward the finish line.

This drill will not only help you become a stronger, faster runner, it will also help achieve incredible aesthetic results.

What it achieves: long lean and toned runner's arms and stronger, tighter abs

Stand facing the mirror with a dumbbell in each hand. (If you don't have dumbbells you can use two cans, or milk jugs - whatever you can find that is heavy enough and acts like a weight).

While holding the weights, bring one hand forward and the other hand back like you are running but only move your arms.

In the mirror when you have one arm in front, it should appear in the mirror as though the weight is covering your nose.

Focus on keeping abs tight and think 'strong arms'

Do 15-20 Reps on each side.

Try for 2-3 sets.

I recommend anywhere between 7 and 12.5 lb dumbbells, it will start easy and get harder. The key here is not about how much weight, it is how correctly you are doing the exercise. It is a high rep, low weight- your arms should be fatigued by the end.

Added Benefit - this exercise doubles as a short round of cardio.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Training After an Injury

I'm back to share some training tips and drills that have helped me regain my excitement for the active lifestyle.

Injury is one of the most challenging experiences you can face as an active person. When you're injured, you almost certainly can't work out in the way to which you've become accustomed--and you're often not able to exercise at all. It happens to almost everyone, and it may be our body's way (or God's way) of saying you need a break. During this period you must give yourself permission to rest.

Use this rest from physical activity imposed by your injury to pursue other interests such as painting, catching up with friends, learning a new language, reading all those books you never had time for or whatever else you are interested in pursuing.

After you’ve taken time to rest, it is important to overcome the fear and get back to moving and trying new things. With many injuries it is even recommended you shake things up by cross training in order to maintain a fitness level and relaxed state of mind.

For me the pool was the key to my come back. I actually learned to walk and run again in the water. Since there is no impact, it helped me get fit while rehabilitating my muscles by strengthening my femur and the muscles around my hip so I was able to get stronger faster. When I began I didn’t even know how to swim but after months in the pool I was not only doing full running workouts in the pool I was swimming laps.

Below is an example of an aqua workout I used. Even if you're not recovering from an injury, you might try this as a way to jump start your fitness or as a change of pace from your regular workout.

Example of Aqua Jogging/Walking Workout
(Do only what your injury permits you to do – if it hurts, don’t do it!)

5 min warm up jog

Set 1:
1 min fast (first 30 sec moderately hard – last 30 sec very hard)
1 min recovery
Repeat 5 times

Set 2:
30 seconds hard – 30 seconds easy
Repeat 5 times

Set 3:
15 seconds hard – 15 seconds easy
Repeat 4 times
3 min jog cool down

30 seconds of leg flutters (arms on side of wall kick legs)
30 seconds of vertical jumping
30 seconds of bicycle arms (try to keep yourself afloat by just using your arms in a bicycle motion; it's like treading water with your arms)
Complete each drill twice

Enjoy! And keep watching for other drills and fitness tips you can use no matter what your level of fitness.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Welcome to My Blog!

Hi. I'm Amanda. Welcome to my blog! My purpose is to share my experience with others because I truly believe that my story will provide support and inspiration to people from many different walks of life. Whether you’re in a fitness rut, working your way back from an injury, trying to begin an exercise program, or enjoying your fit lifestyle, I believe my story will reach out to you in a unique way. My story is not revolutionary, but the elements that comprise it can be very powerful. If it can help just one person, then this entire blog will be worth my while.

Everyone has their own passions, talents, and interests. For me it was running. I’ve loved running for as long as I can remember. The reason was simple; I was good at it, very good in fact and it made me feel good to stand out, to be noticed for something in a positive way. You see, I grew up in a small town in Northern Canada and running was my ticket to a bigger world.

At the age of 17 I accepted a full athletic scholarship to a prestigious private University in the US to run NCAA Division I Track and Field. I spent years training hard and was soon breaking records and running at the national level. My Olympic dreams were within reach. I had made the qualifying times and, all I needed was to run my time officially at trials.

Two weeks before the big day I suffered what could have been a career ending injury. I was told I would never run again. I was shattered. I was a runner; it was all I knew. It defined me, and I was lost. It was then I realized my journey was just beginning. Armed with determination, tenacity, and passion, I began running in the water, then swimming, and then cycling. Eventually I was able to start running on land again.

I now have a newfound excitement and I’m enjoying an active lifestyle. I may no longer be a professional runner, but I believe I have so much more in my life. I've started this blog hoping I could inspire someone else, no matter what stage of the fitness journey you’re in. I plan to post training tips that have helped me, and I would love to hear your ideas, struggles and successes too. Send me an email or post a comment and tell me where you are in your life.