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.