Summer Is Over, But Your Workouts Aren’t!

Yes, with the passing of this holiday weekend, summer is unofficially over. While we can usually squeeze some summer type things into September, the reality is that the days are getting shorter, the breeze is getting a little bit more crisp, and the fall seasonals are now on draught in your local bar (goodbye, Sam Summer, hello Oktoberfest!).

But just because we’re cruising our way toward the official first day of fall and summer will soon be a distant memory, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of workout season! I think a lot of people work so hard throughout the spring and summer to get their “bikini body”, but what about just feeling good about yourself all the time? Fall is no time to hide behind your sweaters, it’s time to kick it up a notch so that you don’t have to worry about getting your bikini body back next spring…because you never will have lost it.

I realized I haven’t posted a workout forever, so here’s a little something to kick off the fall and to keep up all the hard work you’ve been doing all summer!

workout

Minimal equipment is needed, although you will need something to jump onto for the box jumps and a pull up bar or some rings. If you’re not familiar with pull-up negatives, don’t worry, you don’t have to be able to do a full pull up to do these! To do a negative, stand on a bench below the pull up bar, jump up to the top of your pull up position, hold for a second, and then lower very slowly (taking at least 5 seconds to reach the bottom of your pull-up hang position).  Make sure to keep your shoulder blades tucked down and back, and don’t let your shoulders creep up around your ears.

For the single leg squats, perform 8 of these per side, per cycle of the circuit.  Additionally,  the finishing incline runs should be at a speed that is challenging for you, not an easy jog. This should be as close to a sprint as you can do at this point. Make sure to give yourself recovery time in between each sprint so that you can go all out when it counts!

Happy Labor Day everyone, go drink a cold fall seasonal for me!

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Cruising Into Fall

Happy Labor Day everyone!

After an amazing and relaxing weekend, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world again! I hope all of my US readers have been able to do something this holiday weekend that’s just for YOU. I don’t know where you are, but here we’ve had the most amazingly perfect weather, I’ve been with great friends, and I don’t think there could have been a better way to send the summer packing. (So sad to say, isn’t it?)

Bye Bye, Summer!

But while it’s heartbreaking to say goodbye to summer, there are also some wonderful things about fall that we can look forward to as well. So if you’re mourning the loss of your beach days and sun dresses, have no fear, because fall can be just as fabulous! What do I love about fall?

Who doesn’t love a little fashion update when the scarves get to come back? And there is almost nothing more comfortable than a nice, soft, cozy sweater. And I’m pretty sure you all get what I’m saying about sweating on the way to work… Showing up at the office and needing to shower is not good for anyone.

But you know what else I love about fall? The chance to keep up with your fitness goals   that you worked so hard for all summer. A lot of people think of the summer as the time that they have to be “skinny”, and they change their fitness/nutrition regimen at strategic points during the year to get there. But what about staying fit and healthy all year, and saving the spring and summer for enjoying life, not for “getting skinny”?

I’m proposing that we all keep our fitness and nutrition goals in mind more than ever once the weather turns a little bit colder. It can be harder to get physical activity in when the temperature dips and you don’t have the long, sunny days working in your favor any more. Keep your goals in mind, and keep working towards them every day, even when  you know you’d rather be curled up in your warm bed on some of these upcoming crisp mornings. Labor Day doesn’t have to mean the end of beach season, or the end of your “skinny” season. It can mean the start of your fittest and healthiest fall/winter ever!

I hope everyone enjoys their holiday, and for those of you who aren’t in the US or who don’t have a holiday today, enjoy your Monday just the same!

What are your favorite things about fall? Do you get sad when summer ends? Do you enjoy summer fashion or fall fashion better? How much do you love all of the pumpkin spice goodies in the fall?!?

Work Out(side) Wednesday

So, a funny thing happened after I asked you all to do playground/park workouts last week.

Several of my readers told me I was creepy. Or, rather, they told me it was creepy to work out at a playground if there are children there.

To this I say:

BULL SHIT.

Excuse my language. It is not creepy! Maybe if there’s a whole schoolyard full of children at a particular playground, it’s not the best time to be there doing lunges. But if there are a few kids there with their parents, I promise you it’s not creepy. I’ve done it plenty of times and I have not ever Once had the police called on me. And that’s saying something, right?

All right meow, where were we?

Seriously though, you may get a few funny looks, but do you really care? Most of the time people just ignore me when I do a park workout, but an even bigger percentage of the time, there’s no one there. Have you noticed how little time people spend outside nowadays? And a very very small percentage of the time, but awesome all the same, is when I’m doing a park/playground workout, and someone is curious and interested in what I’m doing. Spread the gospel, people!

So, as promised, here’s a sample playground workout for you to try. You don’t have to do all of this at a playground if you don’t want to, but just find an outdoor area that has benches and other fun things. Just get outside! Shake up your normal routine, and I promise you’ll have fun. Who says you need a weight room and squat racks to have a great workout?!?

Box Jumps – Start in an athletic stance, bend at the knees and jump onto platform or bench, landing as softly as possible with knees bent. Make sure that your knees do not cave in towards each other when you land (this can cause injury). Stand up straight and step off.

** Note: If you are new to working out or have never practiced box jumps before, I recommend substituting Step Ups onto a platform instead. This would entail stepping up with your right leg, bring L knee up, then step down with left, followed by right. Switch legs and repeat.

Incline Push Ups – Pushups with your hands on something so that they are a little bit elevated compared to your feet. ** Note: Since incline pushups are slightly easier than traditional pushups, make it more challenging by adding a weight (if you so desire).

Whips and chains… Nevermind. This chain is about 40 pounds, you could easily put something in a backpack if you don’t have a length of chain lying around! 

Bulgarian Split Squat – Place L foot behind you on bench or platform, step forward with R foot far enough so that when you squat down, R knee is at a 90 degree angle without going beyond your toes. Return to start. Complete 30 seconds of 1 leg before switching to the other leg.

This one can also be made more difficult by adding weight. The chain from the above pic is in the backpack here. 

 Quick Feet Step-Ups– Find a low platform or something about as high as a stair (lower than a traditional weight bench). Step up with right foot, then left, down with right, down with left. Continue this pattern as quickly as you can, switching your lead foot halfway through the 30 seconds.  (It should be almost like running in place on one step)

Pull-Up Negatives- Jump up onto pull-up bar so that your chin is above the bar. Keeping core and back tight, lower yourself slowly (I’m talking really slow here) until your arms are straight. Jump again and repeat. If you can’t find a bar to do pull-ups on — try taking the monkey bars for a spin!

I wasn’t doing negatives here, hence the weight band assistance… But you catch my drift

Burpees – (In case you’re a new reader): Start standing. Squat down and place hands on floor in front of you. Quickly jump feet back to high plank position, quickly jump feet back to squat position, and jump straight up. Repeat.

Lateral Plyo Step-Ups – Stand with right side facing a bench. Place R foot on bench, and jump up and over so that you land with your L foot on bench and R foot on the ground on the other side of the bench. If you are using a bench that has a back (so you can’t jump from one side to the other), just do static lateral step-ups without the jump. Switch legs halfway through 30 seconds.

As noted above, a weighted backpack (or weighted vest if you’re fancy) can do wonders to kick it up a notch!

There are many more exercises where these came from, so I’m sure I’ll post another one of these in the not-so-far-off future.

Also, check out my girl Meg‘s blog, because she posted a great park workout today too! And have you been doing your lunges this week? 

Enjoy!

Summer Fitness Challenge: Week 5

Hello, and I hope everyone had a weekend as excellent as mine was! More on that later this week. For now, let’s get into your challenge.

This week’s fitness challenge is not really a “challenge” exactly, but a little experiment I want us all to do. I recently read a blog post somewhere but I honestly have no idea where.(I’m really sorry. I know I keep doing this and I really need to start writing these things down). However, the author of this blog (who is a personal trainer) said that he has all of his clients perform a series of light, bodyweight exercises immediately upon waking. They do this not as a workout, but to sort of “wake up” and activate the central nervous system. What I got from this blog post was that he believed that this would help to activate the healthy movement patterns that we use both in our workouts and in our normal daily lives, in order to encourage those movement patterns from the get-go.

Give your CNS a little Wake Up Call 

So what I’m doing this week is just a little spin on this idea and taking it to a really basic place. I’m really not asking you guys to do a lot this week. This is more of an experiment… and also a little break before I kick your butt with a killer sprint workout next week.

Your challenge for Week # 5 is:

For those of you who aren’t familiar, a reverse lunge is exactly what it sounds like — you are stepping back into a lunge instead of stepping forward. Start standing on both feet. Step back with right leg and bend until your right knee is barely touching the floor, and left leg is at a 90 degree angle. Step back far enough so that you can have both legs in a good position without your front knee coming out over your toes. Push off your right toes, activate your left glutes, and return to start position. Switch legs and repeat. (Complete 20 each leg)

This is a “good” lunge. You can see some pictures of “bad” lunges for reference below. And on another note, you probably won’t be outside. But Hey… if you DO wake up outside, I’m not judging you, I swear. 

 Key points to remember when doing these lunges (especially when completing them first thing in the morning:

  • Catch your balance at the bottom and top of the pose before progressing. If you’re wobbling around at the bottom of your lunge, chances are you’re not going to get into a true good lunge position, and you also risk injuring yourself.
  • Take your time! Rushing through these with poor form will completely defeat the purpose.
  • Make sure to keep your trunk/torso elevated; avoid leaning too far forward.
This is TOO far forward. Engage your core and sit up straight, just like your mother taught you. (It was actually really difficult for me to lunge like this…We had to take several pictures before I was actually leaning enough to notice it, and this isn’t even that bad)
Another no-no. The lean is a little better in this one (but I felt like I was leaning for days!), but my feet are not far enough apart, which is giving me bad angles at my knees. 
  • Make sure that your front knee always faces forward; do not let it “cave in” towards your midline.
Ignore the stank face and notice the horrible knee posture. This is the BIG no-no: Letting your knee cave like this is a recipe for disaster and injury. 
  • If you absolutely can’t do a lunge without your front knee caving in, chances are you’ve got a lot of work to do on your gluteus medius and other hip abductors/stabilizers! (That’s a whole other post in itself… and will probably be coming soon).
  • No, this is NOT your workout for the day. Don’t skip your normally scheduled workout because I asked you to do 2 minutes of lunges in the morning. Think of it as a supplement; instead of asking you to take a fish oil pill every day, I’m asking you to do lunges. Simple as that.

The second part of your challenge is very simple. Take a moment each day to notice how you feel. Do you hate me the first day, but then find them getting easier each day? Does doing this help you to wake up a little bit quicker? Do you feel more energy throughout the morning when you do this? Does it give you more motivation for your workout later?

I’m not even sure how I feel about this yet. I might hate it, I might love it and do it forever. Who knows if you don’t try, right? It might make a difference in my day, it might not. All I know is, when I step out of bed and stand at the stove like a zombie, stirring my oatmeal, I feel like crap. Maybe giving myself a little kickstart and a little blood-flow boost will make me feel way better?

Let me know how you do! Send me an email sometime this week (or several if you please) at itrainthereforeieat@gmail.com, and give me your thoughts on this.  Now lunge away… and as always… Enjoy!

Motivation Monday and Fitness Challenge #3

Before I get to the meat of today’s post, dare I ask: did anyone out there besides me complete their 200 Burpees? Or try out the burpee pyramid challenge from last week?

Let me know how it went!

Now before I give you your challenge for this week, I want to tell you about a part of my day yesterday that was so awesome it’s hard to even describe here.

Will and I set out around 11 am to do a workout down along the Charles River because it was such a gorgeous day. For those of you not from Boston, there’s a little workout area at one point along the river path that has pull up bars, different height benches, push up bars, etc. It’s kind of like a little mini “muscle beach” without the actual weights. Any given nice day in Boston you’ll usually see a handful of people doing various workouts there, and yesterday was no different.  When we got there, I payed particular attention to one gentleman who was doing all sorts of interesting movements, including a lot of work while hanging from his feet on the pull up bar.  After watching him for a little while, I started in on my own workout, and at one point I was approached by him because he was curious about some of the more creative things that Will and I were doing. (He was particularly interested in the backpack with a 40 pound chain in it… But again…That’s a different post).

Once we started talking to him, we all began sharing workout tips, trading techniques, and even sharing some of the equipment that all of us had brought.

Did I mention that this man, Ralph, was 72?

Here he is, talking to Will, who is using Ralph’s leg straps which allow you to hang upside down for ab work, etc. 

Note the backpack in the picture above. That’s the one that’s holding a 40 pound chain, and Ralph couldn’t wait to use it. After showing Will how to use his ankle straps, he put them back on himself, and after being hoisted up to the high pull up bar, proceeded to do upper body work as well as ab crunches while holding the bag.

Just look at the incredible shape he is in!!

After speaking with him about more exercises and he so graciously agreed to be featured on my blog, he also agreed to show us some of the more creative (and extremely difficult) things he had been doing when we first got there.

He honestly smiled the entire time. He was like a little kid up there!

 (Ahem, 72?!?!?) This man, Ralph, was incredible. He was passionate, curious, joyful, exuberant, and hilarious all wrapped up into one tiny, super-fit package.

And the kicker? By the time we were taking these pictures, it was about 1:00 pm. He told us he had been out since 5 am, riding his bike around to different outdoor workout areas and stopping for exercise intervals as he saw fit. Since 5 am! I don’t know many people my age who would have the stamina and endurance to do that, let alone someone who could be my grandparent.

So why am I telling you all about the incredible Ralph? I think it’s quite obvious. He is pretty much the definition of health and motivation. At 72 years old (I don’t think I can say that enough times), he trains at least 4 days per week, is in incredible physical shape, and is on no medications.

So next time someone asks you why you work out so much, or next time you doubt that starting an exercise plan really will make a difference, think of Ralph. Next time you don’t want to get your butt to the gym or do one of my challenges, just think WWRD (What Would Ralph Do?) 🙂  He was a great person to talk to, and I honestly can’t wait until I see him out there again. Maybe he’ll even agree to an interview one of these days?

Now that you’ve had that megadose of awesome, let’s hear today’s challenge. This week we’re going to take it back a notch from the madness that was Burpees, and we’re going to go a little bit more low-key. Your challenge this week is:

For some of you this will be easy, for some it will be a struggle. But remember, No Cheating! If you can only hold a plank for 5 seconds with good form, than you need to do about a bazillion (ok 96) sets of 5 second planks. If you can hold a plank for a minute, than really you just need a plank a day (plus a little extra somewhere in there).

**Good form for a plank means that you are basically forming a straight line from the tip of your head all the way down to your toes. NO “tent butt” or sagging midsection. Keep that core and glutes engaged the entire time in order to keep your form correct.

**Tip: Do these in front of a mirror so that you can see if your core is sagging or if your butt is creeping up. A crooked plank is no plank at all.

And with that, I’m off! I’ll be gone for the rest of this week for the National Athletic Trainer’s Association conference in St. Louis, and then for a little bonus time in Memphis. I’ll be putting up some great guest posts to finish out this week, and then I’ll be back next Monday. Enjoy your week, and don’t miss me too much!

Don’t forget to send me your plank videos and pictures if you want to be featured on the blog! (itrainthereforeieat@gmail.com)

Do you ever do outdoor workouts? Have you ever met someone like Ralph? Do you do planks in your workout regularly? 

Summer Fitness Challenge: Week 2

… And we’re back for week 2! (If you missed it, last Monday I introduced a 12 week fitness challenge program for the summer). It’s ok if you just want to jump in with week #2, or you could always just jump in head first and do both challenges this week 🙂

First off, how many of you actually took the stairs the entire week? Did anyone count how many stairs they took? As I said last Wednesday, after I wrote that post for you guys, I found out that my “extra points” challenge for my work program was to climb 1000 stairs during the week. Being someone that doesn’t have a crap ton of stairs in my daily life, I immediately started calculating how many stairs I’d have to take per day… and got a little nervous. But then I started counting, took a few extra trips between my basement and my apartment (ok… 40 trips in one morning, but who’s counting), and I already had over 600 steps by lunchtime on Wednesday.  Add in a stadium workout on Friday, and I was just under 2000 before the weekend hit.

BOOM. I told you, we’re in it to win it.

Anyone out there beat my stair total for the week?

Now on to this week’s challenge. This is one that might actually cause some of you to hate me for life. (Sorry? …. Actually nope, I’m not sorry).

It involves everybody’s least favorite exercise… The Burpee!!

Let’s hear it! YEAH!!! YAY BURPEES!!!

The challenge is simple in theory but not quite so simple in execution:

So that would break down to 50 burpees during 4 workout days. (finish up your workout with 5 sets of 10 perhaps?)

But if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, and you are someone like me who would want to get these over with as quickly as possible, why not try something that will allow you to knock off more than half of these in one shot?

So I present to you a little bonus workout. This workout in itself is not part of the challenge, but just a way for you to get some of these dreaded burpees out of the way. It’s adapted from a workout that was in Men’s Health about a year or so ago, with a little extra kick that I’ve thrown in there. It’ll only take you about 15 minutes, but I guarantee it’ll have you sweating and cursing my name about 1/3rd of the way through.


**Please note: If you have never done burpees before, or are new to working out, please try this starting at 10 or 12 the first time through. If you do that and can get through it, than go for the full 15 on your next go around!

**Make sure you get a good warmup in before this workout! It is quick but it is a full body workout that could lead to injury without a proper warmup.

**As always, please stop if you experience pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness.

For those of you who are new to burpees, here is a quick video for you to get a good visual. Make sure you practice a few at a slow pace before you go balls to the wall though, please!

**This guy does advanced burpees. For the purpose of this challenge, you do not need to add in the push-up component. When you kick your legs back, stay in a high plank, or high push-up position. Also, he kicks his legs back before his hands reach the ground in some of these reps. DON’T do this if you’re not at that level. Doing so could injure your wrists, shoulders, or back if you are not ready for it. Place your hands on the floor and then kick your legs back to plank position. (I only chose this video because it was the least douchey/soft-porn one I could find)

And now for completely-off-topic side note:

Will and I took a day trip up to Portland, Maine yesterday to take my mom out to brunch (which was delicious and so much fun!). After brunch, we decided to walk around Portland for a while, acting like tourists even though I lived there for the first 18 years of my life. While walking around, we just happened upon a couple of food trucks, and it turned out they were filming for the Food Network show, The Great Food Truck Race. Cool, huh?

I know, not a great picture, but you can see a little bit of the crowd and the camera guy interviewing one of the workers. 

One of the trucks, Nonnas Kitchenette… Their menu looked delish and would probably be the one I would have ordered from! 

The other truck, Seoul Sausage…Also looked awesome!!

 We stood and watched one of the girls give a testimonial for a while…but unfortunately did not get any food. (I know, total fail, but we were still stuffed from brunch, and already had more food plans for later!) Nor did I jump in front of the camera and flash my pearly whites (or anything else), but I can’t say I’m not faintly hoping you can catch a glimpse of me when the episode airs.

After wandering around for a while and building up a little bit more of an appetite, we headed over to one of our favorite places in Portland, which, weirdly enough, is a Mexican restaurant. I know, I know, New England and Mexican food don’t really belong in the same blog post, let alone the same sentence, but I’m telling you this place is legit. (And Yes, I’ve been to San Diego… and Mexico for that matter).

The place is called El Rayo, and I have never been disappointed by this place. We each had a mexican style corn on the cob, and then some tacos as well.

I should have taken the lettuce off for the pic, but this was so good! Grilled chicken with smoky goat cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, radish, and probably something else… 

This was Will’s food…after he already ate one of his tacos. He had a pork, steak, and fish taco, and loved all of them! And oh God, that corn is to die for. 

So, moral of the story is, if anyone ever challenges you to find good mexican food in New England, just head on up the coast to Portland, Maine and get your butt to El Rayo. You won’t be disppointed, I promise!

Now get on with those burpees!

Have you ever been to Portland or to El Rayo? Do you believe me that good Mexican food exists in New England? Do you want to slap me for telling you to do 200 burpees? 


Summer Fun

So it’s Friday.. It’s also SUMMER!!!

Will and I after a surf lesson last summer

Well, it may not technically be the first day of summer yet, but to me, it’s summer once June 1st hits.

And you know what that means? It’s the perfect time to forget* about the goals, the strict eating, the macro counting, the max reps, and just enjoy yourself a little.

*Ok, don’t forget exactly, but today I want to talk more about living, and less about rules.

Of course, staying healthy during the summer is important (if You need ways to get healthier this summer, check out my mini-challenges series that is in progress now!), but it’s also important to let yourself enjoy life, and what better time than when the sun is shining, skies are blue and everyone seems to smile just a little bit more. And in my experience, healthy living gets a whole lot easier when you stop all of the stressing and worrying, and just enjoy yourself!

I saw a great quote on Twitter yesterday that Adam Bornstein posted (you should follow him if you don’t already… he shells out a boat load of great articles and information) that goes along with this idea perfectly:

“Remind yourself EVERY day that in between goals is a thing called life that has to be lived and enjoyed”

See what I mean? Apparently Adam and I are sharing the same brainwave or something.

And that, folks, is why I have created a summer check list for myself: a mini bucket list if you will. Some of these things I’ve never done before, some of them I have, but they are all things that I want to make sure I do before the leaves start turning and the temps start to dip again. And since I don’t work during June and July (I know, I know, rough life), I have no excuse but to tackle All of these over the next couple of months!

What is on Your summer bucket list?