Tag Archives: Cardio

The Chihuahua Effect

Fitness is important in our house. I’ve written in previous blogs how my husband and I both wear the UP Band by Jawbone to track our daily activity. Since then I have added four more people to my team on the UP app and we’re all ‘competing’ to be the most active.  (No one will say it, but we all secretly want to beat everyone else).

The UP app gives you a base goal of 10,000 steps to reach each day. It’s really not that easy, especially if you’re not into cardio. A gut busting boot camp or weight session barely makes a dent in your daily step goal. Doing 100 push-ups is pretty impressive but since it doesn’t give you any steps, it doesn’t help in your daily feat to win the step game.

The people on my team who run, hike or take daily walks are the ones who are the lead steppers. I do cardio about four days a week and these are the days that I easily reach anywhere from 12,000 to 17,000 steps by the end of the day. I have an advantage over most of my teammates when it comes to topping the stepper chart on my cardio days.  I call it the ‘chihuahua effect’.

chihuahua-and-big-dogPhoto credit: http://www.chihuahuawardrobe.com/is-it-safe-to-raise-a-chihuahua-around-larger-dogs/

I’m 5 feet tall and my husband stands at 5’6″.  When we go on a weekend hike, we travel the same distance, but time after time I end up with significantly more steps than he does.

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This doesn’t go over very well with him most of the time. I really can’t blame him! He traveled just as far. He worked just as hard.

After each hike he will ask me how many steps I took and as he’s groaning I will say (with much pleasure), “It’s the chihuahua effect”. Simply: He has longer legs. He has a longer stride. I have to take more steps to keep up. We figured that I take about one and one-quarter to one and one-half steps for every one of his. This adds up over time.

Below, my stats are on the left, and my husband’s are on the right. (Somehow it shows he traveled farther than I did. This happens a lot when we use RunKeeper).

My stats His stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the course of continuous activity for an hour the UP band calculated I took about 600 more steps than he did. So what does this mean over the course of an entire day?

Well, it’s hard to say exactly because we didn’t walk everywhere together. However we did take pretty similar paths. At the end of the day I ultimately took about 1,200 more steps than he did. (Again, I’m on the left).

His final stats My final stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does all this mean exactly?

Well, not much really.

For me it’s one reason to be thankful for my very short legs. Is this fair to all my tall teammates?  Sure!

Ladder Up! The Perks of Agility Training

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I include agility training in many of my boot camp classes and with my personal clients as well. They think it’s fun and a nice change to get their cardio in. However, I always have a reason for the way I conduct their training. It’s not just fun, but it serves a purpose as well!

“A new study from the Air Force Research Laboratory shows that agility training can improve your cognitive performance.”

“Military personnel were divided into two groups for six weeks of training. The first group participated in the military’s standard physical training (jogging with calisthenics like jumping jacks and burpees), while the second group underwent agility training (ladder drills and shuttle runs). After six weeks, the first group increased their endurance. On the other hand, the group performing agility training improved their VO2 max, athletic footwork, memory, and concentration.”

I believe in working multiple muscle groups at the same time. Technically your brain isn’t a muscle, but why not train it as one?

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Photo credit: http://www.writingriffs.com/2014/01/dr-rickhanson/

““Agility training incorporates components of learning, focus, balance, and coordination,” says study coauthor Erica M. Johnson, Ph.D. This type of training can stimulate richer connections among multiple brain regions by demanding them to work together, she says.”

Also, they help quicken your reaction time and who doesn’t need that? They are a great addition to a functional training program.

So what exactly is this agility training I’m referring to? I found a YouTube link with an excellent visual and narrated description of 13 different agility drills. These drills are widely used in sports training, but are beneficial for everyone! It’s listed at the end of this post.

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Agility training is a great way to spice up your workouts.

 

 

 

Check it out and give them a try!

 

http://www.kingsportstraining.com/blogs/training-blog/7694405-13-speed-and-agility-ladder-drills-videos-for-faster-footwork

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Source

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/workout-helps-you-think-fast?cm_mmc=Facebook-_-MensHealth-_-Content-Fitness-_-LadderDrills

Deck of Cards – The Workout

If you play your cards right you can get an excellent workout whether or not you’re a few cards short of a full deck!

Just a little humor to introduce one of my very favorite workout formats! I’ve seen different versions of the Deck of Cards concept, but this is mine.

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What Is it?

You really do use a full deck of playing cards to guide your workout! Place the deck face down and flip one card over at a time. Each suit is assigned a certain exercise, or in my version two different exercises, and the number on the card tells you how many reps to do. Face cards and Aces are always 15 reps. Your challenge is to complete the entire deck.

Why I LOVE it!

There is definitely an element of surprise. You can do this over and over again and always have a different result. You can also change out the exercises each time you do it so it’s a totally different workout. The possibilities are endless. If you want ho-hum and boring, please do not try this at home. It gets extra fun and challenging if you turn over 2 face cards of the same suit in a row. That’s 30 reps please!

How to Play

The first suggestion is to grab a friend or ten! Of course this can be done solitaire style, but a partner can help you press on if you end up having to do 30 Burpees in a row. Yes I did use the ‘B’ word, and it’s highly recommended you include them as part of this workout because they are awesome. I’ve done this format in a boot camp, with partners and by myself with my dogs licking my face. The last option would be OK minus the dogs.

Planning the workout

You can choose 4 body weight/cardio type exercises or use mine below. Each is assigned a suit.

  • Push-ups – Hearts
  • Burpees – Spades
  • Sit ups – Clubs
  • Squat Jumps – Diamonds

You can choose 4 strength exercises (add weights) or use mine below. Each is assigned a suit.

  • Overhead press – Hearts
  • Squat – Spades
  • Russian twist – Clubs
  • Hammer curl with tricep extension – Diamonds

First, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle the deck. You don’t want to know the order of the cards, that would ruin the fun!

Second, divide the deck equally in two.

The first half of the workout is your cardio time. You will only do the 4 body weight/cardio type exercises for the first 26 cards. For example, for every Heart you turn over you will do pushups, and for every Spade you will do burpees. Remember, you do the number of reps that’s on the card you turn over,  and all face cards are 15 reps.

After you complete the first 26 cards you move on to the strength portion of the workout. Now every time you turn over a Heart, you will do the overhead press, Spades become squats, etc.

I threw in a special exercise for Aces just for variety.

Every time you turn over an Ace, whether it’s in the first half of the deck or the second, you perform walking lunges with a twist, 15 each side or a total of 30.

Variations

My favorite way to do this workout is the way I described above, however, you can put it together in different ways.

First, you can just do the top 4 body weight/cardio type of exercises for the entire workout, while also adding in the walking lunges for the Aces. This  works especially well if you don’t have equipment. When you add up all the reps per exercise type, it’s quite impressive! (But if you like nice round numbers like me, you might want to throw in an extra rep of each!) Here are the stats:

  • Push-ups 99
  • Burpees 99
  • Sit ups 99
  • Squat Jumps 99
  • Walking lunges with a twist 120

Second, you can do the whole workout with weights, like the second half of the workout. I’ve never tried it this way though, so if you do, let me know how it goes.

Third, you can throw all my suggested exercises out the window and use your own!

Final Thoughts

I’m going to lay my cards on the table and say I love to combine cardio and strength in all my workouts. The beauty of this though, is that YOU hold all the cards. So what will it be?

The Purpose of a Sweatshirt

You may already know that I love to do cardio and my favorite format is Turbo Kick. I am extremely motivated in a room full of fellow, high energy, Turbo lovers with the music blasting. It’s my favorite way to start the day and I get to a class whenever I can! On Saturday morning I hopped in my car and sang my way to the gym, anticipating the happy, sweaty mess I would be in an hour or so.

There are two scenarios that can put a wrench in my “perfect” cardio plan. The first is forgetting my water bottle. Although this is pretty inconvenient, it’s not a total spoiler as there are water fountains at the gym.  I’ve forgotten water a couple of times. The good news is that I remembered my water on Saturday.  In fact, I had two bottles with me. Yes, I was quite the example that morning.

The second scenario is forgetting my gym towel. This did happen on Saturday, and trust me, it will never happen again. Leaving your towel at home is absolutely the worst thing to do when you’re planning on having a sweat fest. And when I say sweat fest, I don’t mean a little dewy glow. I mean full on, totally drenched, drops flying, puddle underneath me, sweat shower. I apologize if this is too much information, but I don’t go to the gym to look cute. If you’re going to do anything at all, do it big! I move big, I sweat big. When I realized my most important  asset was missing, my heart sank. Shoot! I was already there. I had “my spot”. Now what?

Many things whirled through my head at this point. I know from wearing my UP band that an hour of Turbo is 7,000-8,000 steps for me, depending on my energy level and the pace of the class. This means about 3.5 – 4 miles of kicking, punching, lunging, squatting and jumping in my 3 x 3 square foot space in the group exercise room. At what mile marker does the sweat start pouring? And what do I do when it does?

Lucky for me it was a cool, misty August morning and I wore a light sweatshirt to the gym. Certainly it could work as a substitute towel, right? I thought I was saved and took a breath of relief as the music began. Turbo time!

As the warmup started I was still thinking about my sweatshirt. I’m not really sure why little cotton jackets with hoods and zippers are called sweatshirts in the first place. I certainly don’t wear one to sweat in, and if I do sweat with one on, I take it off. I later learned with my initial mopping of the brow that the sweatshirt I chose did a terrible job of absorbing sweat. And later, when I got a zipper in the eye, I decided maybe dripping dry was worth considering.

I feel bad about the drips I left on the gym floor as I raced to the car after class. I’m always very good about cleaning up after myself. Well, I guess I can’t say that anymore, but, hello, this was truly an emergency! There was a box of tissues in my glove compartment and I needed them right away.  Granted they were a messy way to dry off, with little bits breaking off and sticking to me, but they made a better towel than my sweatshirt did.

I learned a few things on Saturday morning. First, I think I sweat more when I’m worried about how much I’m going to sweat. Second, I need to leave extra towels in my gym bag, or the car, or both. And third, little cotton summer weight sweatshirts make terrible towels. They are designed for wearing and to make you feel cozy.

Hopefully this whole thing is a one-time experience. Hopefully it was something you could relate to, or made you chuckle or maybe even grossed you out a little. (Hey, I’ll take anything!)