Monday, February 28, 2011

20 Minute Stair Jammer Workout

Q: I'm not able to get to a gym and realistically the only time I have to workout is during my lunch break. I'm stuck on site but the building layout has plenty of flights of stairs that I could use without the risk of running into anyone. (Most people use the elevators!) I'm hoping you could give me a workout that I can do in 20 minutes but will still give me!

A: I really like this question for a few reasons. Firstly, you refuse to offer up the fact that you aren't able to get to the gym and have a jam packed schedule as an excuse to just NOT workout. Secondly, you are looking at what resources you DO have and how to turn them into an effective platform for your great job already, Charlotte! So I had fun taking on your little challenge and devising a quick workout that will ramp up your heart rate, engage all the major muscle groups, combine strength and cardio, and turn your lunch break into a fitness power session!

The great thing about stairs is that you can use them to really get the heart pumping rather quickly. Which is a bonus being that many people are very busy and only have time for a workout short in time but high in quality. Another plus is that like running up hills, stairs really work the thighs and glutes and will give that tush of your a nice lift! All you'll need then for this workout is a couple flights of stairs, a stopwatch, 20 minutes, and the will to kick your own butt!

Do each exercise for 45 seconds and then move right into the next exercise. At the end of the set you can take 30 seconds to rest and regroup and then cycle through the exercises again. Do a total of 4 sets and then dash back to the office...though you may want to find a spot for a quick rinse off! :)

Stair Jammer Workout

  • Flight Dash - First exercise is to just start out running up the stairs one step at a time
  • Rocket Squat Jumps - At the top of the flight, lower into a deep squat and then explode off the ground, reaching your arms up over your head and trying to get as high as you can. Land, get back into the squatting position and jump again.
  • Push-Ups - Blast out those push-ups and you can do them on your knees if you need to. To make them harder, put your feet up a couple of stairs so that they are higher than your hands and make them elevated push-ups.
  • Stair Quick Feet Taps - Stand at the bottom of one landing and face the stairs. You'll then alternate tapping one foot on the stair directly in front of you and then the other foot. You'll stay then in the same position but you want your feet to tap the stair and get back down as quickly as you can; see how many times you can tap that step.
  • Bicycle Crunch - Crunch side to side as you bicycle your legs; you'll then want to reach your elbow towards the opposite knee as you go.
  • Stair Bounds - You'll again be going up the stairs but this time go two at a time. To make it more advanced see if you can do them even three at time.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Exercise Allergy Sweeping the Nation...Or Sloth -- We Get the Exclusive

Up too late and unable to sleep (Wishing I could because sleep is hugely important not only for fitness minded folks but EVERYONE! But, a topic for another post.) I had the tube tuned in to Lopez Tonight...yes, I'm a TBS fan, but don't get me started on how annoying it is that they keep messing with the schedule and they committed a cardinal sin of screwing with the Seinfeld slot! Sorry, rant averted and back on track...he made a crack about how now there are folks out their claiming to be allergic to exercise. His punchline was something along the lines of, "It's laziness and it's sweeping across America" or such...but it made me laugh and roll my eyes because as sad as it I KNOW there are people out there that have convinced themselves that they are allergic and use that as an excuse to avoid working out.

So, I hopped online and checked up on this supposed 'illness' to find out some symptoms and the low-down. Well, it turns out there are a few 'kinds' of exercise allergies and they actually have fancy-pancy names: Cholinergic urticaria (itching), Exercise-induced anaphylaxis, Itchy Pants Syndrome.

The first, is basically that when a person gets hot they may get some red spots that do in fact itch. The is usually worse in hot and humid environments and with the added activity the body heat rises and they may become irritated. Reason to avoid working out like the plague, I think not. Suggested remedies: workout in a place with a fan or cooler climates, hit the pool, put on some ointment, and the itching should go away after you cool down. A tip doctors recommend is that with a proper warm-up and cool-down, and working into your more intense routine should help you avoid the rash. Also, if this is your excuse you may also be allergic to saunas and hot be warned.

Now, the second, I will say sounds more legit and there are some doctors backing it up. However, the prime catalyst for the anaphylaxis is that the person eats a certain kind of food they are allergic to and then combination of getting overheated through exercise causes them to become faint, have trouble breathing, possible hives, and sometimes throwing up. Dr. Jacqueline Eghrari-Sabet from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology details, "These are people who will not have this reaction unless they exercise right after eating this food...Eating shellfish and sitting there? Nothing. But eating shellfish and exercising? For these people, it's bad news." Yet even the experts don't think that skipping exercise in general is the remedy, "If they come to me, I'm not going to tell them not to exercise," professes Dr. Bruce Robinson who is a Manhattan dermatologist. It all comes back to gradually working into your routine to avoid a high spike in body core temperature, making sure your environment is cooler, and also be mindful not to eat certain foods before working out.

Finally, Itchy Pants Syndrome?!?! If this is your excuse than you certainly take the cake. This sounds more like a skin allergy to certain fibers that gets worse if your body heats up. My advice: there are TONS of technical fiber based workout clothes out suit up. If you're running in jeans in the first place your own lack of judgment merits some chaffing. There is also a product called Body-Glide that actually really helps with chaffing.

So, in conclusion, is there an allergy sweeping the nation that keeps people from exercising? I'm not convinced...don't look for excuses to opt out of something that is good for your body and mind. Instead, channel that same energy into finding a workout you enjoy and will stick with!

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

What Inspires You?


What really gets you inspired? Pumped-up and ready to hit it? *Cue Rocky Theme Song* Is it seeing or reading about other athletes setting records, stories of people overcoming the odds, individuals accomplishing their own feats that then motivate you to tackle your own? Is it a particular playlist or song that really strikes a chord with you and makes you want to demolish that interval workout? Is it seeing your own progress or fitness journey; tracking how far you've come inspires you to keep going, to keep setting the bar higher? Heck, it could even be proving other people wrong or a healthy dose of competition...WHO said they could run a 5k faster than you...I think not!

Whatever it is, sometimes it's nice to take a moment and think about what keeps you going back for more. Recognizing what drives you forward and remembering that, the feeling it gives you, can help you slog through the times or days when your motivation may be lagging. We all have those days; maybe you got slammed with a really rough day at work or school and the temptation of just blowing off any kind of exercise in favor of TiVo and Mr. Ben & Jerry is really strong...remember those things that get you amped up to sweat it out.

Staying motivated and on the track to accomplishing your goals, both fitness related and in life, is what separates the 'do'ers' from the 'wishers and remissers.' One reason it's found that kids who participate in sports do better in school and in other areas of life is that they learn to set goals and then push through the trials to reach those goals...they learn dedication and that lesson carries over into adulthood.

Writing your goals down and channeling the things that get you motivated is a great way to combat the urge to give up, give in, when things get tough. Writing motivational phrases on post-it's or in the margins of your workout logs is one way; hanging a picture of a certain athlete is another way, or even hanging up a picture of YOU at the finish line of a race you are particularly proud of. Remember and hold on to what gets you amped up so that the next time you aren't quite sure if you can do it, or don't really feel like lacing those shoes, it can help give you the 'friendly' kick in the butt to tackle a challenge head-on.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Protein Redux -- Crunching the Numbers


Hope you all are doing've made it to Hump Day at least! :) I wanted to revisit a post from a few weeks back about the importance or protein. In it, it was noted that we should shoot for about 0.5 - 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Some people have inquired if we really meant THAT much...should a 150 pound person shoot for 75-150 grams of protein...that's a LOT!

Yes, that does come out to be a pretty lofty target and I'd like to take a minute and just explain the reasoning behind that and also that in the post, I converted to grams per pounds for convenience but the stats are usually in grams per kilogram of body weight. Here are the numbers when the recommended values are in grams per kilogram (1kg = 2.2lbs):

  • The recommended amount for sedentary people is 0.8 grams for 1 kg: for a 150 pound person that does work out to be 55g's
  • For endurance athletes then, it's recommended to up that to 1.2 -1.4 grams per 1kg: again for 150lbs that works out to be 81-95 grams
  • For strength athletes the recommended amounts are 1.6-1.8 grams per 1kg: with our 150lb person that works out to 109-123 grams

So I would like to say that, yes, in the previous post I erred on the higher end of the spectrum and apologize if I shocked or confused some people. I had written the post with athletes in training in mind, and while not everyone here reading this has a game or specific event in their sights, I still do think that active individuals should make a conscious effort to ensure they get more protein in their diets. It will not only improve their fitness and results but you'll look leaner too. BUT by no means do I want to impress upon anyone that we should be eating protein in lieu of carbs or fats...all three are important nutrients and I absolutely can't stand that whole Atkins schpiel!

From experts I've talked to and recent studies indicate, even endurance athletes should definitely shoot for the higher amounts. Even sedentary people should be eating more (That they really need at least 10 percent more than the RDA currently recommends).

But I didn't want to 'scare' anyone off or leave you questioning the validity or reputation of this site and blog. So, again I apologize, and hope to have cleared up any confusion! And as always do feel free to ask questions or further explanations of anything and everything you see!

So keep sweating, it Friday yet?!? :)

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Amanda and Caitlin's Crash-Course Survival for Valentine's Day


Didja see it already?!?! Well, if you missed our write-up don't fret because you can check it out over at the website: Full Crash-Course Run Down

Buuut, because we love all our blog readers you can see our fun cartoons enjoying the Devilishly Divine Cherry Cups! Our run down includes that recipe, more meal tips, and two fun workouts to do with your beau OR with some lovely girlfriends because while this holiday may be cooked up by Hallmark and the chocolate companies that doesn't mean we can't spread the love to one and all. And that includes showering your amazing self with love...confidence is sexy people and that comes from being comfortable in your bod! (albeit a fit and toned one! hehe)
So in case we haven't said it enough, get to sweating, have a great weekend, lovely visit from our fat Cupid friend, (we'll let him get away with a few extra rolls...I mean he IS a baby after all!) and enjoy or special holiday inspired article! :)

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sneak Peek for Something Special


Hey guys!

Sorry things have been a bit quite on the blog but it's because we've been working on something special for Valentine's didn't think we'd forgotten did you? Well we haven't, and in honor of our chubby little flying friend we've put together a little crash-course survival guide just for YOU!

So if you don't quite feel ready for Val-Day, don't worry because we've got you covered. AND, just because you may be a singleton DON'T think you've been forgotten, nope, our special Holiday Edition can be for a steamy couple or a sizzling date night with the gals.

So stay tuned...our love bomb drops tomorrow. If you haven't already signed up for our newsletter be sure to do so in time! :)

Sign Up Here!

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

You Call That a Workout? -- The 'Fluff Factor'


In watching Amanda's '400 Challenge' video I was struck by two things: 1) Of course the fact that it was a great workout that would seriously tire you out in a short amount of time and 2) She uses the term, 'fluff' which is the perfect way to describe way too many classes, videos, etc. out there.

This may sound harsh, but when I'm at the gym (or watching those late night/early morning TV workout time-slots) I am on one hand laughing and rolling my eyes and on the other hand feeling slightly bad for the people following along and even the instructors themselves. I want to laugh because lots of what I see is ridiculous but also far too much time is spent lackadaisically talking, resting, sipping on water, standing around, or stretching. I then feel bad for the people doing the class because they aren't going to be getting the results they want or expect. Finally I feel slightly embarrassed for the instructors because either they are fooling themselves into believing they are delivering solid workouts or are misinformed...either way they are doing these people a disservice.

Lots of these sort of 'standard' classes follow a similar routine: get in, chat about new events, set-up (if it's a step class or you need some weights), move to stretching and then a warm-up. The class gets officially 'going' and then is ended with another round of stretches and the cool-down. There are then sometimes group meditations or reflections. Now, there is nothing wrong with meditation but does it necessarily belong in your workout? There are also a time and place for a warm-up, cool down, and stretching; however if you look at that standard class, say it lasts an hour, the amount of time actually spent sweating and working hard is maybe, what, 20 minutes?

I think a part of the reason that most classes follow a format like this and aren't nearly as intense as they have to be is that for the masses this is what they want. Most people don't like to hurt or be in 'pain', so really intense classes may not necessarily get the following...and gyms are a business after all. Now, I'm NOT saying that there aren't kick-your-butt classes and programs out there, that is not true because I know that there are, and I'm also NOT saying there aren't plenty of highly motivated people out there who do workout really intensely and kick their own butts on a weekly/daily basis. I'm just saying that there are still too many people falling into the 'fluff' trap. How do you know you're getting sucked into the fluff zone?
  • Your workout time is for working out: Many people are crunched for time so when it's 'go' time get in that mentality. Get started right away and don't get sidetracked by talking about your day or the weather; sure you can exchange some words but you should be focused on the task at hand. Finally, come prepared; have all your gym clothes and equipment laid out beforehand so you aren't wasting precious time looking for things.
  • Stretching is for after: Actually it is bad to stretch cold muscles and you shouldn't stretch first thing. Go right into your warm-up and then full routine. Stretching is good when you're done and warm.
  • Embrace the pain: The kind of muscle pain that comes from fatigue isn't a 'bad' thing; it's your body's way of telling you it's working and that is going to get you the results. The biggest limiting factor is the mind; it will tell you that you are spent, tired, unable to go on FAR earlier than is actually's all a mind game people and telling yourself that you CAN do it is the best way to combat that and keep plugging away.
 So go out there and hit it. Intensity and a consistent work ethic are the tools you need to achieve the fitness goals you set and also the body you envision for yourself...a stronger you. :)

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm Sick and I Don't Want to Admit It: When to Take a Day OFF


Even though we may be past the worst of 'cold and flu season' the weather is still crummy and there are plenty of people hacking and sniffling away! As they say, "We aren't out of the woods yet," and to prove just that both Amanda and I were struck with a bug. I'm going out on a limb here and inviting karma to kick me in the butt once again, but I am pretty lucky in that I don't get sick all too often and probably do take that for granted. (To be fair I'm completely OCD about washing my hands and I'm also the one you laugh at who uses paper towels to open the doors of public restrooms!)

Now, I'm equally neurotic about getting in my workout no matter what. Some people have the opposite problem, I know, but for me recognizing when to take a day off is the challenge. (For this, it is a case of do as I say, not as I do because it's actually much better to take at least one day off a week to allow the body to recover and regroup!) Yet last week it hit me; it wasn't a slow decline of energy and lapse into sickness, but rather a full sledge hammer bodyslam. There was no way I was getting my workout in...much less doing more than get out of bed, my body made the decision for me.

As antsy as I was and irritated that I was sick, which meant no workout, I knew that the best thing to do was REST. Funny, because that was the hardest medicine to swallow. Plowing onward when you clearly need a break will always backfire in that eventually that will catch up to you and it will do so exponentially. The longer you refuse to acknowledge you're overly tired the longer you'll string out your recovery. Knowing when to decide if you're okay to train through a sickness or sluggish feeling and when you need to pull back is hard to do. Some people are OCD like me and have trouble taking the time off and others are at the opposite end of the spectrum and use a hangnail as an excuse to get out of the gym. Finding the balance is the key and you do that by not only being in tune with your body but then actually listening to it.

While I hunkered down in the bed and cursed the heavens above for the bug, I knew that it was more a mental trial than anything else and I also knew that even though I didn't want to admit it I needed a break and I should treat my body with the rest it needed. What also helped get me through it is that in giving myself that rest I'd be getting over the cold faster and *ta-da* I'd be back to my regularly scheduled workouts sooner! Ironically, while over in Oregon the day after my bedrest I got a call from Amanda in New York and she was complaining of the exact same malady...we were both sick and more than being frustrated about catching a cold we were miffed we weren't able to get our sweat sessions in!

So, people, yes we should all love fitness, but in being fit individuals I think we tend to be more in tune with our bodies than the average folk...but that means we need to listen to those cues it gives us. For those who struggle with backing off, know it's okay to admit we need to rest sometimes. Okay now, but for those who tend to be on the other side of the spectrum I'll offer some tough love and say, "If it's a hangnail put a band-aid on it and suck it up!" :)

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