Archive | July 2012

Channel Your Inner Athlete

[Written July 25, 2012].

When I think of Olympic athletes, I think graceful, athletic, powerful and determined.They are constantly working to better themselves at their sport — take off that extra tenth of a second to a sprint/race, perfect their landings when bounding/jumping, increase the height/distance of their leaps & jumps and so on…

So, in honor of these amazing athletes, I want you to channel your inner athlete. When you’re doing this workout, picture your favorite Olympic athlete training in the same way — how would they move? How would they explode/land? How powerful would their core be engaged through every movement and how focused would they be on maximizing every moment to reach their full potential? You don’t have to be in a sport to train like an athlete — in fact, to me, moving every day is my sport; and one that I intend to play & improve at for the rest of my life. How do you approach your workouts?

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Do this workout 3x within the next week, trying to improve your #s each time within the tabata sets. A tabata set is 20 sec of work with 10 sec rest 8x; or if you’re alternating exercises, 4/exercise.

 (1) Hop on the treadmill at a 5% incline and run a steady pace @ 6-7mph for 2 min. If you’re outside, run “away” for one minute, then come back to where you’re working out (steady pace – faster than “jog”).

(2) Tabata #1 — alternate between these two exercises:

– Squat with DB Press

– Plank Chest Taps

*When you squat, keep the spine long with core engaged & weights at the shoulders. Ideally, if your flexibility & range of motion (ROM) allows, your goal is to tap elbow to knees. As you stand, push your feet into the floor and press the weights overhead into a shoulder press as you stand. When 20 sec is up, you have 10 sec to transition to a plank position. Feet should be a little wider than shoulder distance and the goal here is to not move the hips at all (i.e. lift or sway side to side). Alternate tapping right hand to left chest then left hand to right chest.

(3) Go back to the 2 min run on the treadmill as indicated in (1) or the run outside.

(4) Tabata #2 – alternate between these two exercises.

– Speed Skaters

– Triceps Push Ups

*Speed skaters = your chance to channel Apolo Ohno.  🙂  Leap to one side and land on your outside leg. Make sure to STICK the landing, landing in a single leg squat with the butt back, core engaged (braced against an imaginary punch) & spine long. As you’re landing, reach your opposite hand across towards the outside leg (so if you land on your left leg, reach right hand across). Make sure you keep the chest & gaze up, the reason you can reach the hand towards foot is because your knee & hip are bent into a squat. For the triceps push ups, do these on your knees with hands lined up like you’re going to do a plank. As you lower down, press the elbows down towards your hips, keeping shoulders away from the ears & tension out of your neck. Hug elbows in towards the midline of your body and push up from the back of your arms with core tight. Doesn’t matter how low you go — but more so that you don’t hold tension in your neck or sacrifice form for depth of the push up.

(5) Go back to the 2 min run on the treadmill as indicated in (1) or the run outside.

(6) Tabata #3 – alternate between these two exercises:

– Lunge hold with biceps curl

– High Knees

*For the lunges, alternate sides each time you get to the lunge. So, for example, start in a lunge with right leg forward & hold at the bottom while you do biceps curls. For curls, keep the elbows connected into waistline and don’t “swing” the weights. Lift through a controlled contraction of the biceps muscle. Once you’re 20 sec is up, you’d do a set of high knees. Make sure not to lean back and pull the knees up. Think more of driving heel towards butt as you lift the knees up, standing tall the entire time with core braced up. Treat the high knees like the fastest sprint you’ve ever done. Pump your arms and “run” hard. After 20 sec, next up is the biceps curl again, this time in a lunge with your left leg forward. Then high knees & back again to lunge with right leg forward. High knees, lunge with left leg forward and last high knees.

(5) For the last time, back to the 2 min run on the treadmill as indicated in (1) or the run outside.

(6) For the final thing, you have a set of building blocks push ups & bent over rows, starting at the #4 and going up to 12. Don’t be fooled by the low numbers at the beginning…  🙂

It looks like this: 4 bent over rows, 4 push ups, 5 bent over rows, 5 push ups, 6 bent over rows, 6 push ups…and so on until you’ve gotten to 12 bent over rows & 12 push ups.

*For the bent over rows, it is so so so important that you keep your spine from head to tailbone in one long line. As you fatigue, you will have the tendency to either round your upper back or arch through the low back. Keep the core as tight as you can — braced is if you’re about to be hit by a tsunami wave or get socked in the stomach by Queen Underwood (Female Olympic Boxer); yes, it needs to be THAT strong. To get in position for a bent over row, from standing, engage the core to lock the spine in its length & pull the shoulder blades down into your back pockets. Then bend the knees as you hinge at the hips and come ideally into a 90 degree angle at the hips (so that your back is flat like table. From there, use the muscles in between your shoulder blades to draw the weights towards your rib cage without arching the back!!! For push ups, your chest/belly buttom/pubic bone should all hit the ground at same time.

Workout shouldn’t take any longer than 40 minutes max max max. Your 2 minutes runs are your active recovery for the interval training done in the tabata sets. ENJOY! And embrace your inner athlete. GO USA!

Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

I believe that we all should be comfortable in our own skin. Period. I also believe that each and every one of us EARNS the body we live in. Yep, that’s right — the only person responsible for how you look at any give time is YOU. So there’s no reason for excuses, for placing blame on lack of time, lack of energy or on “extenuating circumstances”. Every single day you wake up and choose the path your day is going to take. We all make choices – we CHOOSE to make time for certain things and not time for others. The catch is deciding WHAT you’re going to make time for.

Have you ever noticed that the fittest and healthiest individuals have a certain self-discipline that drives their decisions and directs their choices? Their daily nutrition is based off the desire to FUEL their moving body (with delicious, whole & natural foods!) and instead of feeling deprived, they’re empowered both by the control they have over their food and by the energy that those good food choices provide. It doesn’t mean they are devoid of fun or delight in food, but rather they make conscious decisions on what they’re putting into their body at all times – it’s a mindful practice. Mindful both in the decision to eat clean AND in their decisions to put clean eating on the back burner and enjoy a glass of wine or dessert when desired.

The same determination, mindfulness and discipline is apparent in the exercise and daily movement of the fittest and healthiest individuals. With all exercise, there will come a time when you reach that “thin red line”. The line that gives you two options: to stay where you are and be “comfortable” in your workout OR to throw “comfort” out the window and push beyond what you think your limits might be. It’s a mindset that turns off our natural instinct to “stop” and gives us the ability to overcome any wall, any plateau and any barrier that stands in the way. The body is an INCREDIBLE machine – and exercise is really a mental game. The ability to harness the mind is key and once again, we find that the only thing standing in the way is yourself.

I know you. I know your abilities – whether I have met you, you are my client, you have taken one of my classes or not. I know what you’re capable of because you are a human being with incredible potential. So here again is your choice — do you choose to empower yourself and take control of your life; or do you continue to pass on the responsibility of your own body & health to someone else? It’s as simple & complicated as that. But it’s all a choice – one that you GET to make every day — and what isn’t cool about that?! TODAY you can choose to BE and to CREATE the body, mindset and life you want. Just make the choice…and you will be amazed at what you can do.

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