Have You Evaluated Your Workout Program Lately?

Have you thought about the time you put into your workouts each week? Are your exercises efficient, effective, and geared towards your goals? Many people perform the same workouts mindlessly week after week because it’s comfortable and familiar. If you want to stay healthy and strong, you may want to re-evaluate your fitness program.

Do not start your workouts without a goal or workout plan? A fitness plan can ensure that you have a well-rounded program that includes stretching, weight training, and cardiovascular work. If you do random workouts each week, you run the risk of overtraining some body parts and neglecting other areas, putting you at risk for muscle imbalance and injury.  Consider creating a fitness plan to help you schedule your workouts, add accountability, and help you incorporate variety into your fitness routine.

Plan your workouts at the beginning of the week and make sure to include cardiovascular work 2-3 times per week, weight training 2-3 times on non-consecutive days, and flexibility training 3-5 times per week.

Are your workouts structured to help you attain your goals or are you blindly going through the motions each week without results?

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It’s important to evaluate your current fitness routine and determine if it’s working for you or against you. Crosstraining is vital for health and longevity. Our bodies thrive on new activities that challenge us to change our normal routines. When you constantly perform one activity and neglect other muscle groups, you are setting yourself up for plateaus and overuse injuries. If you’re still doing the same routine you were doing last year, it’s time to tweak your program to include cardio, strength, and flexibility components.

When evaluating and setting up your program, ask yourself these five questions:

1. Does my program include resistance/weight training, cardiovascular work, flexibility, and balance (stabilizer) work?

Many people perform their favorite weight training workouts, go to the same group fitness classes, or do the same elliptical or treadmill routines week after week. Body builders, dancers, yogis, runners, professional athletes, or anyone who performs the same activities each week are more prone to muscle imbalance and overuse injuries.

Consider hiring a personal trainer to design your program if you need professional advice. If you don’t have sufficient knowledge of what exercises to do or an understanding of proper form and technique, your workouts will be ineffective and increase your risk of injury.

A certified fitness trainer can create a well-balanced fitness program by considering your goals, current fitness level, and assessing any areas of weakness. For example, if you are a runner, you may have tight hamstrings and weak quadriceps, which can lead to poor performance and injuries. A trainer can suggest you incorporate other activities, such as yoga and weight training to improve hamstring flexibility and increase strength in the quadriceps.

Therefore, it’s vital to include resistance training, cardiovascular work, and stretching into your current routine. Also, don’t forget to incorporate balance exercises to help strengthen your stabilizer muscles and joints.

Per runtastic.com

Many people, when starting their fitness journey, are drawn to the machines at the gym that are only isolating a single muscle at a time. This is really common and, the truth is, we don’t really know any better. We think we are “supposed to go to the gym” and we see all the machines when we get there – it makes sense, right? Wrong! The truth is, the foundation of your fitness routine should be stability and balance training in order to activate and strengthen the core and the many stabilizing muscles, improve coordination, decrease the risk of injury and work to eliminate overcompensations that probably have developed over time.

2. Do your workouts contain an appropriate warm-up and cool down?

A proper warm-up is essential to help prepare your muscles and joints for a more intense workout. Neglecting the warm-up can lead to a pulled muscle, strain, or other injuries. Your warm-up should include movements you will be doing during your workout. Therefore, begin your warm-up at a slow pace and gradually build up the intensity over a period of 8 to 10 minutes. For example, start with a slow-paced walk, transition to a faster pace walk, and then a jog.

The cooldown and stretch are just as important as the warm-up. A proper cool down allows your heart rate time to return to normal. Stretching will help elongate the muscles, improve flexibility, and help promote better muscle recovery.

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Always allow for at least a 20 to 30 second stretch for each muscle group at the end of your workout.

3. Do you evaluate your progress and change your program periodically?

Make sure to monitor the progress of your fitness program. Consider starting a fitness journal to set goals and track your progress. A journal is a great way to monitor improvements such as increased strength from lifting heavier weights, improved endurance when running, or participating in an intense Crossfit workout.

Change your workouts approximately every six weeks to create muscle confusion. If you constantly do the same activity week after week, your body becomes adapted to your routine. You will develop strength that is specific to the exercise you are doing. However, repeated use of these same muscles and joints can lead to overdeveloped muscles in some parts of the body and weak underdeveloped muscles in other areas. Muscle confusion is simply changing your workouts on a consistent basis to prevent plateaus and adaptation.

A good time frame for changing your workout routine is every 4 to 6 weeks. For instance, if your current weight training workout is heavy weights, you could switch to increased reps and lighter weights the following month. If you are a runner, you could do long runs for 4 weeks and then switch to a month of shorter and faster interval runs. This creates muscle confusion and is great for increasing overall fitness and performance.

Being able to visualize your goals and progress on paper is a great motivational tool to help you get progressively stronger and increase your fitness level.

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4. Does your weight training program address all the major muscle groups: Chest, Back, Biceps, Triceps (all three heads), shoulders ( ex. medial, lateral, and anterior deltoids), quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, core, and lower back (erector spinae). I hear many clients tell me they want a six-pack and they only want to work abdominals or men who only care about a big chest and biceps, but neglect their lower body. However, it’s important to work all major muscle groups to stay strong and injury free. Check out the following link for setting up a well-balanced fitness program:

Per Weight-lifting-complete.com

8 Reasons for Building a Balanced Body

Here are 8 reasons why you MUST focus on building a balanced body:

  • Prevents injuries
  • Symmetrical appearance that is more pleasing to the eyes
  • Improved posture
  • No muscle imbalances in size
  • No muscle imbalances in strength
  • Prevention of aches and pains
  • Get stronger faster because all muscles are strong and contribute to overall strength
  • Build muscle faster due to greater strength and targeting all major muscle groups

5. Do you evaluate your exercise selections in your workout program? Or could some of your exercises be on this video “Most Dangerous Gym Workout?”

Some exercises may look cool but – is it appropriate for you ( age appropriate and fitness level)? Is it safe and effective or is there a better alternative? Always evaluate risk versus reward.

Per The Foundation Personal Training

Enter-trainment”

Unfortunately the current fitness climate is hot for something I call enter-trainment. Much of what we see in the gym is fueled by social media. You only need to look through any fitness feed to see a multitude of handstands, olympic lifts, human flags, couples squatting each other, 1000 rep challenges etc etc.

Better to be safe than sorry and stick with the basics to avoid injury. There are countless safe and effective exercises that will help you reach your goals.

For more information on crosstraining, check out my blog: Crosstraining is important for overall fitness

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When Exercise Crosses The Line

 

 

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RE: workingwellresources.com

“Every single thing has a balance and the moment we overdo that balance something has to give and we are punished by fate in one way or another
 Ilwaad isa

I first heard about rhabdomyolysis in an article about the dangers of CrossFit workouts. Exertional Rhabdomyolysis— “sometimes called exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis —  is one of many types of rhabdomyolysis that can occur, and because of this, the exact prevalence and incidence are unclear.”   

photo of a woman lifting a barbell
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The Mayo Clinic reports other types of rhabdomyolysis occur from trauma to the muscles due to automobile accidents, snake bites, drugs, alcohol, and performance-enhancing supplements.

During extreme exercise exertion, a breakdown of muscle can result in the myoglobin(contents of the muscle cells) leaking into the bloodstream; this can lead to kidney failure and possibly death.  Exertional Rhabdomyolysis is often associated with dehydration, overheating of the body such as exercising in high temperatures, and heatstroke.

Although rhabdomyolysis is considered a rare occurrence, I’ve known two people who have been hospitalized with it related to their participation in CrossFit workouts.  Exertional Rhabdomyolysis can occur with any kind of extreme conditioning program such as CrossFit, boot camp classes, military or football training. Other program examples could include,  high reps of one single muscle group in a short period of time AMRAP (as many reps as possible), or high reps that focus on the “eccentric” part of the exercise, and also prolonged exercise without recovery.

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Some Common Symptoms include:

  • Extreme muscle pain
  • swelling of the muscle
  • extreme weakness
  • dark colored urine

Per Priscilla M. Clarkson, Ph.D. SPORTS SCIENCE EXCHANGE

“Generally, this syndrome is brought on by the performance of unaccustomed, excessive, repetitive exercises such as push-ups and squat-jumps. Rhabdomyolysis can also occur after strenuous recreational activities such as marathon running, hiking, or performance of excessive strenuous exercise during the first days of a new training program. Mild cases of rhabdomyolysis do not require hospitalization, and individuals recover within one week. However, in certain individuals, rhabdomyolysis can be severe. The combination of heat stress and rhabdomyolysis can produce acute renal failure, which, in rare instances, can result in death. The few individuals who have developed severe rhabdomyolysis generally have never shown any prior symptoms. These individuals may have a latent, sub-clinical muscle disorder that predisposes them to the most negative consequences of rhabdomyolysis. For strenuous exercise in the heat, precautions such as adequate fluid intake and acclimatization are critical. All exercise training programs should start with mild to moderately intense exercise and should progress gradually. These safeguards will not only prevent subsequent muscle pain and optimize performance, but they may also save lives.”

Therefore, remember to exercise caution when participating in advanced training methods. Evaluate the instructor’s qualifications and the appropriateness of the workout for your particular fitness level. Make sure the instructor is certified and understands program design; one that includes the entire body rather than one specific muscle group. Additionally, always make sure to consistently hydrate before, during and after exercise. 

And above all- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY; always use common sense when performing intense exercise programs and allow for appropriate recovery.

Flex Friday Workout & Fuel

 

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and I just finished my Interval Barbell class. So nice to be back to my normal routine of teaching after a six-week hiatus. Although it’s nice to take a break to help prevent burnout, I miss the positive energy, the music, and most of all the class members. Here’s today’s class: Warm-up 7 to 10 minutes run

Pushups-  20 Reps/ 3 Sets

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Chest Press – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets

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Mountain Climbers – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets followed by Plank (One Minute)

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Clean & Press – 10 Reps/ 3 Sets

 

Barbell Biceps – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets

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Tricep Dip – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets (Weight plate optional)

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Plank Jacks – 20 Reps/ 3 Sets

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Final stretch and recovery fuel

Take a look at these great post workout snack ideas

 

Protein Packed Oatmeal Pre and Post Workout Snack

I love this yummy oatmeal for a pre or post workout snack.  It’s a quick and easy option for breakfast, pre-workout for runs, and post workout for weight training.

PROTEIN PACKED OATMEAL

Prepare one Package of Organic Nature’s Path Oatmeal and stir in one scoop of your favorite protein powder ( I Love chocolate Sunwarrior Protein Warrior Blend). Add in one tsp of chia seeds and cinnamon.  Then top with sliced bananas and walnuts.

Simple Energizing Green Juice

Love this easy, healthy green juice. Place ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add crushed ice and enjoy.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of organic carrot juice

1 handful of fresh organic spinach

1 organic granny smith apple

Juice from one organic lime

1 tsp of chia seeds

vegetarian juice on table
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Why You Need Hats In Your Life

Isn’t it crazy the amount of time and money we spend on our hair?  I have friends that spend in excess of $200 every time they visit the salon.  Also, once you factor in the maintenance of  your hair color, style, and the time spent daily on washing, drying, and styling, it can be mind-boggling. Cost can vary depending on the salon and where you live.

 

Per Thumbtack.com

haircuts and color

The cost of haircuts, color and highlights varies depending on the stylist’s experience, geographic location, the stylist’s reputation and more. Pricing for haircuts can range anywhere from $35–$150 or more. Hair coloring services range in price from $65 to $200 or more, depending on the products used and the stylist’s reputation.

 

I’ve never had great experiences with hair salons over the years.  I always end up spending way too much money and end up unhappy with the results. Also, I don’t like or need a high maintenance style. With my job in the fitness industry, I wear workout clothes daily and almost always sport a ponytail.  Therefore it’s hard for me to justify the cost of  frequent trips to the hair salon. Unfortunately my active lifestyle makes it a challenge to make my hair look presentable to the public after teaching multiple fitness classes each day and training clients.

Therefore I finally found the perfect solution.  I’ve learned to embrace my lifestyle by learning to LOVE HATS! You don’t have to obsess over bad hair days or worry about washing and styling your hair before going out in public. It’s the perfect solution.

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I love this fedora or derby style hat and it’s perfect for dressing up or casual.  I can go straight from the gym to a lunch date or an appointment and be ready in 15 minutes or less.

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I also love the stocking hats and beanies for daily use in the winter to stay warm and to make me look more presentable when I don’t have time to wash my hair.

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And last but not least, my baseball hat.  I love to teach in these and they are stylish and help keep sweat and hair out of my face while working out.

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So if you spend way too much money and time on your hair, why not learn to love hats.  Just don’t ask me to take my hat off because I’ll have some serious hat hair!

Let Food Be Thy Medicine

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

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It’s obvious this day and age that what we eat affects our physical and mental health.

The Center For Science In The Public Interest points out

Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are leading causes of death in the U.S.

Unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S., due to nutrition- and obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

However, unfortunately many physicians still tend to write prescriptions all too frequently for anything and everything that brings us to their office.

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Maybe some physicians feel compelled to give you the newest wonder drug simply in exchange for the exorbitant bill you’ll receive after an office visit. However medical providers are taught medication management as the first option for treating their patients. In my experience attending doctor visits over the years with various family members, I’ve rarely heard recommendations for diet and exercise mentioned in the treatment plan. Since I have a background in nursing and fitness, I know the importance of exercise and nutrition in regards to healing.

An article from Orlando Health points out

More than a quarter of doctors admit to prescribing medication that likely won’t have many therapeutic benefits for patients, according to a recent survey of more than 5,000 American College of Physicians (ACP) member physicians.

In the survey, which asked doctors to identify two treatments often used by internal medicine physicians that weren’t likely to provide high value care to patients, 27 percent of doctors said they prescribed antibiotics to patients even when it was likely the treatment wouldn’t be effective. Nine percent said they used aggressive treatments on terminally-ill patients even when these treatments weren’t valuable, seven percent prescribed medications for chronic pain, while five percent recommended dietary supplements to patients.

The survey highlights that over-prescribing is still an issue among physicians and that it’s a problem that leads to a lot of waste, inefficiencies and added costs within our country’s health care system.

So, why does this keep happening?

The pressure to fulfill patients’ expectations may be the root cause of the problem. Patients come to doctors for answers, and often many of these patients have spent time Googling their ailment and have come up with a solution before they even step foot into a doctor’s office.

For example, my son recently went to see his physician for a physical and due to the fact that his cholesterol was slightly elevated, his physician recommended he start a statin drug. With my experience as a nurse, I know medications are sometimes necessary and can save lives. But wouldn’t it be nice if patients were encouraged to start with nutrition and lifestyle changes before starting a medication with possible side effects.

For example:

Per Dr. Mercola in 5 Great Reasons Why You Should Not Take Statins

  • There is evidence showing that statins may actually make your heart health worse and only appear effective due to statistical deception
  • Statins deplete your body of CoQ10, inhibit synthesis of vitamin K2, and reduce the production of ketone bodies
  • Statins increase your risk of serious diseases including cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and cataracts

If a patient comes in with slightly elevated blood sugar or blood pressure, why not look at dietary changes and stress reduction before being prescribed a drug as treatment.

You of course have the option of going to a naturopath provider which The Better Health Channel defines as

Naturopathy is a holistic approach to wellness. Naturopathy treats each person as an individual and supports the whole person to live a healthy lifestyle. The foundations of naturopathy are based on the importance of a healthy diet, clean fresh water, sunlight, exercise and stress management.

Naturopathy aims to educate the person to look after their own health and the health of their family, minimising symptoms of any illness, supporting the body’s capacity to heal, and balancing the body so that illness is less likely to occur in the future.

Or there is the functional medicine approach who Dr. Mark Hyman (a functional medicine provider) points out is

An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.

However, typically functional medicine and naturopathy are not covered by insurance and with the cost of healthcare, these alternative therapies are often not financially feasible.

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Therefore, it’s up to us as consumers to educate ourselves on the importance of a healthy lifestyle when it comes to disease prevention and treatment.

Rather than automatically accepting a new medication at your next visit to the doctor, why not ask if there are other treatment options available. Do your research to determine if nutrition and lifestyle changes could be implemented first before turning to pharmaceutical treatment. Which brings me to another one of my favorite quotes:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Benjamin Franklin

Ten Minute Yin Yoga Practice

Yin Yoga is a practice in which you hold lying and seating poses for three to five minutes. This type of yoga focuses on flexibility and restoration. Try my ten minute practice in the morning to loosen up tight muscles or to help you wind down before bedtime. Focus on breathing slowly in and out through the nose that will help create warmth in the body and promote relaxation. Try to clear your thoughts and focus on a mind body connection as you try to relax in each pose.

You’ll need a mat, water, and an optional blanket for a prop if needed.

Wide Knee Child’s Pose  (Hold for 3 minutes)

Sphinx Pose (Hold for 3 minutes)

Swan Pose (Hold for 2 minutes on each leg)

Finish with an optional pose called Legs up the Wall  3 to 5 minutes