Fitness: Interval Running Workout #5

I’m back! Well… kind of.

I’m back at the gym, but not as much as I would like. But sometimes you just got to take what you get and make the most out of it. It hasn’t been easy, I definitely have fallen behind a little bit now. The running is a tiny bit harder now that I have been out of commission for a couple weeks and I find myself wishing just a little bit more that I was sitting on my couch back home instead of running. But I have no doubt that I will break down that wall and will be back on track in no time. Challenges and goals inspire us to keep going, to fight through the pain. So, that’s exactly what I am going to do. And I hope you do too.

Ladies, you have been warned. Start shopping the swim section now because you will love(hate) this workout. It’s called the “bikini cardio” workout. It’s about a 45-minute run and probably one of the harder runs for me personally. But hey, who ever said having a bikini body was going to be easy? If it was, we would all have them. It’s a lot of running at a fast pace but summer is almost here so we don’t have a lot of time to waste. Your bikini and sun-kissed skin will thank you later.

The Workout:

*Warm-up for 3 minutes. I do this by walking at around 3.5 mph but it’s your choice. Get the blood flowing.

*Run 2 minutes at 7.0 mph.

*Walk 1 minute at 4.0 mph.

-Repeat the run/walk cycle 9 times (not including the warm-up).

*Sprint at 8.0/8.5 mph for 1 minute.

*Walk at 3.8/4.0 mph for 1 minute.

-Repeat this sprint/walk cycle 5 times.

*Cool down, your choice, for 5 minutes. You will need it, so don’t skip it.

You probably understand now why this is called the “bikini cardio” workout. It’s hard and tiring- I know it is. But, at the same time it’s an awesome workout with even better results. If your legs feel like jelly, you can barely breathe, and your clothes are soaked with sweat you know you did something right for both your health and that bikini.

Happy exercising!

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Fitness: Interval Running Workout #4

Alright, I have a confession to make: I haven’t been to the gym all week. Now for the excuse…

We have been super busy around the house, painting, landscaping, and a ton of other small projects that are probably completely unnecessary. This past weekend I spent most of my time weeding/mulching which requires a decent amount of squatting, bending, kneeling , and lifting heavy mulch bags. Let’s just say I could barely walk Monday and Tuesday, even with all the running I have been doing. Every day after work this week we have tackled another project, leaving just enough time for dinner and bedtime. At first it feels really good to skip the gym, like you are getting away with skipping some tedious horrendous chore, but I soon come to miss it. It feels great, after sitting at a computer all day, to just let loose and run for a little. If one good thing comes from this week (besides all the stuff we are accomplishing at home), it’s realizing that I like my new workout routine despite how I may feel while actually doing it. Sometimes you just need to step back and reassess what you are doing/what you have to really appreciate it. I can’t wait for things to get back to normal, hopefully by Monday.

And no, this doesn’t mean that you should stop running too so I made sure to post another workout. This workout is meant to focus on “fat burning” as it has a decent amount of running at a decent to fast pace. There are two plus sides to this workout. One, I personally feel like this workout goes by the quickest out of all of them. Two, you actually get to rest. Like no running, just stand there type of rest. It’s not long, but it counts for something- trust me.

The Workout:

*Warm-up at a 7% incline for 5 minutes.

*Jog at 6.0 mph and a 4% incline for 2 minutes.

*Sprint at 7.o mph and a 2% incline for 1 minute.

*Walk at 4.0 mph at a 7% incline for 2 minutes.

*Jog at 6.5 mph and a 4% incline for 2 minutes.

*Sprint at 7.5 mph and a 2% incline for 1 minute.

*Walk at 4.0 mph at a 10% incline for 2 minutes.

*Jog at 6.5 mph and a 5% incline for 2 minutes.

*Sprint at 8.0 mph and a #5 incline for :30 seconds.

*Rest by carefully jumping to the sides of your treadmill for :30 seconds. While you are resting, set incline at 2%.

*Sprint at 8.0-8.5 mph for :30 seconds.

*Rest for :30 seconds. Set incline at 1%.

*Sprint at 8.0-8.5 mph for :45 seconds.

*Walk at 4.0 mph at a 5% incline for 3 minutes.

*Jog at 6.0 mph and a 2% incline for 3 minutes.

*Cool-down by walking at 3.5 mph (no incline) for 4 minutes.

Guess what?! You’re done! You just kicked ass. Yes, yes you did.

Keep going for me while I finish my brief hiatus. I will be back soon, I promise.

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #3

Can’t let this week go by without posting another interval running workout. We wouldn’t want that now, would we? 😉

As mentioned last week, this workout is a little more endurance based. The previous workouts have focused on shorter periods of fast running but this time, we are going to run a little slower (most of the time) but  for a longer period of time. It’s still intervals but a little different. It’s good to throw in a different workout into your routine every so often. The more your body does something, the easier it becomes. Meaning your body doesn’t need to work as hard  to get where it wants to go or accomplish what it needs to. If you constantly tweak your workout routine your body won’t get “bored” and stop working. You don’t want to work your butt off for nothing so make sure to change it up every once in a while.

This workout goes by super fast for me because you are changing speed every minute so it keeps you busy and you lose track of how much time has actually gone by. And don’t worry, you still get to walk- for two minutes each round. It’s great recovery and something to look forward to at the end of each cycle. Also, don’t worry if you can’t do the whole thing just yet. It takes a while to build up endurance. All that matters is that you are taking the first to get there.

Well, here it is.

The Workout:

Warm-up for 2 minutes by walking at 3.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 5.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 5.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 6.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 6.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 7.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 7.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 8.0 mph.

Walk for 2 minutes at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 5 times without the warm-up (or as many as you can, many days I only make it to 3 reps and it is still really effective).

I definitely noticed a difference in my running after doing this workout for a few weeks. A 5K race doesn’t sound so intimidating anymore.

Let me know how it goes. Happy running!

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #2

As promised, here is the second interval workout in my running circuit. This one involves more running than the last workout, but it’s still not horrible. You still walk more than you run, and it’s shorter! You can power through this entire workout in only a half hour. The downside- you are going to sweat. You are actually going to sweat a lot. You need to make every single second of this workout count if you want to receive maximum benefits. Every time you hold back or put the treadmill on a lower speed than you know you can do, you are only hurting yourself. This workout goes by extremely fast. Make the most of it.

Oh yeah, and you might have a tiny bit of trouble walking to your car after. But that’s only a minor detail.

 

 The Workout:

Warm-up for 3 minutes by jogging at 5.5-6.0 mph.

Run fast (not a sprint, but make sure you’re moving) for 1 minute. I set my speed for 7-7.5 mph.

Walk for 2 minutes at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 4 more times (without the warm-up)!

Sprint (yes, sprint) for 30 seconds. Again, I set my speed for 8-8.5 mph.

Walk for 1 minute at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 9 more times!

Bonus Tip: To burn some extra calories you can do this whole workout at a slight incline. And I mean slight. Set your treadmills incline to 1.0 or 2.0 for some extra spice. Warning: you WILL feel it.

 

…and you’re done! That was quick! Go buy yourself  a new blouse, you deserve it. Nothing wrong with some positive reinforcement, right?

Check back next week for a more endurance focused interval run. I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Happy running!

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #1

I hate running. I love working out, I love going to the gym, and I love being active. But, I don’t love running. No matter how many land sports I tried growing up and throughout high school I always went back to swimming. Not just because it was the sport that I felt like I excelled the most at, but because it also does not involve running. My hatred for running was evident at an early age. During my kindergarten soccer games I would plead with the coach to be the goalie because that was the one position that running wasn’t really involved. Plus, the ball was not really flying at you that hard, if at all. Through middle school and high school I tried tennis and lacrosse. I tolerated the running but it was definitely not something I looked forward to. In college, I pretty much abandoned the running world altogether and just stuck with swimming. Once I graduated, that is when the real problem arrived. I needed a cardiovascular exercise to partake in. I had been so active my entire life that it felt strange not to have an activity to turn to. Swimming was pretty much out of the question. First, I was kind of sick of it after about fourteen years of competitive swimming and second, the membership to all the pools around me are expensive. I tried biking at the gym, and using the elliptical as well, but I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted and wasn’t getting that same post-workout “high.” That was when I decided I needed to face my biggest fear: running.

Over the next couple months I slowly tried to build myself up to running 3 miles. I was getting there but it was a slow process that really wasn’t much fun. At all, in fact. I searched for a new running method, talked to some friends, and was introduced to interval training. This has completely changed the way I feel about running. I actually don’t mind running now (I won’t say I like it). What is interval training? Interval training is when you push your body really hard for about 30 seconds to a couple minutes, then you “rest”/take it easy for another 2-3 minutes, then you work your body back up to high intensity for a couple more minutes and repeat, etc., etc. You get the point. I like interval training for many different reasons. One, it’s quick. All you need is 20-30 minutes. If you can make it 40-45 minutes, great but it’s not needed. Two, I can see and feel the results. I love how interval training is sculpting my body without me even having to pick up a weight. I also notice that the actual running is getting easier each week enabling me to push myself a little harder than I normally would. It seems to be working a lot faster than just straight running. Three, it burns more fat (especially for women) than just straight running. Pushing yourself hard for a few minutes, “resting” for a few minutes, then going hard again actually makes your body work harder. To achieve that mountain/roller coaster effect your body needs to work each time you increase your intensity, then it gets to rest, but only before it needs to work its way back up all over again. Lastly, interval running also keeps your body burning long after your workout has finished. I can feel my body working, sweating, and radiating off my hard earned heat throughout my drive home from the gym and until I hop in the shower. After one of these workouts I feel like I have accomplished something, like I have just done something really good for my body and myself. Probably because I have.

I have a set of about eight interval running workouts that I continually cycle through. I hate doing the same workout twice in a row because I get bored very easily. I am always finding and adding new running routines to keep my workouts fresh. In hopes to inspire other running-haters to give interval training a shot I will be sharing my workouts here with you, one at a time. This week I am going to share one of my favorites because it really doesn’t involve a lot of running but it’s still highly effective. But you will need to get your butt and calf muscles pumping because there are a lot of hills involved:

 

1st Set: Warm-up!

0-3:00: set incline on treadmill at 2 and the speed at 3.5 mph

3-5:00: incline- 4; speed- 4.0 mph

5-7:00: incline- 5; speed- 5.0 mph

7-8:00: incline- 2; speed- 6.0 mph

2nd Set: Get the blood flowing!

8-16:00: Repeat the warm-up set above

3rd Set: Hill time (a.k.a. booty time!)

16-20:00: incline- 12; speed- 3.7 mph

20-21:00: incline- 15; speed-4.0 mph

21-23:00: incline- 10; speed-3.0 mph

4th Set: Feel the booty burn!

23-30:00: Repeat the 3rd set above!

5th Set: You’re really working now!

30-37:00: Repeat the 3rd set above, again!

6th Set: One last time!

37-44:00: Repeat the 3rd set above! Yes, again.

7th Set: Sprint- give it all you have left!

44-45:00- incline-2; 6-10 mph- whatever you can do, push yourself, it’s only 60 seconds.

8th Set: Cool down!

45-50:00- no incline; speed- 3 or 3.5 mph

*Disclaimer: This is one of the longer work-outs. I don’t always have time to do the whole thing but even if I just do half of it, I’m sweating big time!

 

For more information about this work-out, go to the awesome Blogilates website. I found this work-out there. You can also find a lot of other health/fitness tips there too. And plus, the website is super cute.

If you want to read more about interval training/running, visit Nerd Fitness. They give a pretty straight forward and simple explanation of how it’s done/it’s benefits.

I hope you all get a chance to try this workout, it’s worth a shot. Feel free to post your experiences below. Make sure to check back next week for Workout #2. Happy exercising!

Walk Like A Queen

Unfortunately, first impressions mean everything. People often decide if they like someone or not within the first few minutes of meeting them. Our lives are so busy that people rarely have the time to truly get to know one another. Therefore, the image that you give off within the first five minutes is essential. One easy way to enhance your first impression is to perfect your posture. Ok, maybe it’s not as easy as it looks but it’s definitely worth it.

I will admit it. I am a victim of horrible posture. After 13 years of competitive swimming, my posture could definitely use an upgrade. My shoulders tend to lend forward, I slouch in my chair while sitting in class, and never think about my posture during the day. There are thousands of bad posture victims just like me (come on, admit it too!). Our lives require us to slouch in front of a computer screen all day. It’s really easy and completely mindless to have bad posture, it’s one less thing we have to think about. But, mastering good posture is a necessary first step to becoming a more confident you, or at least to appear to be.

Not only does good posture give you a banging first impression, it also has wonderful health benefits. Good posture decreases your chance of injury by strengthening your muscles. Bad posture allows less oxygen to reach your muscles. Naturally, this makes it harder for your body to exercise, recover from hard workouts, or to just simply breathe. Good posture balances your body so that no one part of your body carries all the stress. Perfecting your posture also makes for better digestion, easier pregnancies, energizes your body, helps to prevent sciatica, and just feels so damn good.

What does good posture look like? When standing, start with your feet:

  • Rock back and forth; find the spot where your weight is evenly distributed.
  • Don’t lock out your knees. Keep them slightly bent in a comfortable and natural position.
  • Straighten your back. There should only be a very slight curve in your lower back.
  • Pull your head in ever so slightly so that it is aligned with the rest of your body. You probably aren’t doing the chicken dance right now so pull your head back!
  • Pull your shoulders up to your ears, roll them back and down. They should feel as if they are sliding right into place.
  • Your chest should be forward but there is absolutely no reason to exaggerate it. We all know what your mama gave you, no reason to broadcast it to the entire world.
  • Your goal is an ‘S’ curve (a small curve at the back of your neck and your lower back).

The key to good posture is a strong and tight core. Now the challenge: hold this posture throughout the day. The first time you try this, you probably won’t be able to hold if for more than a few minutes. Try to stop, think, and fix your posture a few times a day. Soon enough, good posture will become habit and believe it not, natural.

How about when you’re sitting in front of that computer screen all day? Just because you are sitting doesn’t mean you can’t have good posture. Constantly pushing your head forward to read what’s in front of you or to see what’s on your computer screen stretches the ligaments in your spine which results in neck and back pain.

  • If you are reading, try to keep your reading material at eye level rather than on your desk.
  • Just like standing, make sure your head is pulled back over your shoulders (you probably aren’t doing the chicken dance at work, but then again you never know).
  • It is often helpful to keep a small pillow or rolled up towel at the small of your back while sitting in order to help keep your back straight.
  • Try to keep your feet flat on the floor as much as possible. I am a huge fan of crossing my legs but this shifts your weight to one side of your body, throwing off your body’s balance and makes it next to impossible to have good posture.

There are many ways to perfect your posture.  The easiest way is to self-check your posture by standing against a wall. Your shoulders and voluptuous, well-defined butt should be touching the wall. You can also try going for a short walk while concentrating on your posture or spend just five minutes stretching every morning. If you are feeling a little more adventurous you may want to try yoga or pilates. I am not a flexible person so I find pilates more enjoyable, although both do require some flexibility, pilates focuses more on the core. There are many great websites and videos on the web with short routines that you could easily fit into your daily schedule (I live my life according to the god of YouTube). If you are a REALLY adventurous person, ballet lessons will perfect your posture in no time. Don’t deny it; we all envy the ballerina’s posture, body, and grace.

No matter how you spin it, posture is extremely important to first impressions, your confidence, and your health in general. Before you go, check out this vintage video on women’s posture I came across.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!