Workout Wednesday #1 – Body Weight Basics for HIIT

So, I’m going to try and make this a weekly endeavor to share either a yoga series or some other workout with you. Try being the operative word here as some of these goals have fallen by the wayside in the past. This week I want to share a short video with you of the HIIT routine I am doing.

While I am a fitness professional with multiple degrees and certifications, this workout is unsolicited, unsponsored, and not intended as advice for you to use to diagnose your own injuries, treat them, nor rehab anything; nor is it an exercise prescription that will meet your personal needs, likes, and abilities. Please check in with your healthcare professional if you’re having health problems and before starting any new exercise routine.

I decided that I like a very short workout on Mondays to get my week started and not to set myself up for disaster. It’s something I can do in my upstairs, so no need to worry about the weather. It requires little or no equipment, depending upon how you choose to do the exercises. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete and works almost all major muscle groups. I’ve done it twice now and have decided that it will stick for awhile for sure. (I usually know after the first few times if it’s something I’ll keep up.)

Two years ago in April I tried to HIIT regularly for awhile and I enjoyed it, but something told me that I should do MORE and that didn’t workout too well. I had some great links to more about what HIIT training is in that post and I’ve talked about it a few other times in regards to other types of HIIT/Tabata/Interval training. For this go around I found a Tabata timer that I liked and then wrote out 8 different exercises I knew I could accomplish multiple times for 20 seconds each. I am able to complete 3 rounds right now in the allotted time I have each Monday and with how little my body has truly exercised over the last month or so.

After 3 takes and much editing….hope you enjoy!

Have you done HIIT/Tabata/Interval Training before?

What is your favorite short workout?

What do you do to start out the week?

HIIT Day Three: HIIT Me Baby, One More Time

It can’t be May already! I feel like I just posted about April showers, but here it is and there are the roses in my front flower gardens this morning. When I moved in a year ago they were just laying on the ground. I added a trellis for them and now they’re flourishing. I’m still working on filling in all of my flower boxes, flower beds, and gardens. It’s a process that I’ll be talking about more on Tuesday when we get the fifth part of the 2015 Fitness Challenge.

Today I want to talk more about HIIT and why I skipped my workout on Thursday.

Quitting Before HIITing
Last month I chose to try three different HIIT workouts on three different days of the month: the 10th, 20th, and 30th of April. Here you can read about my first and second HIIT workouts. Last week, however, I subbed for four extra fitness classes on top of the other four that I teach weekly. This caused some upset in my regular training program and I opted to nix a lot of my running and walking for the week. This was also in part to the pain I was feeling; reminiscent of the piriformis syndrome that I suffered once before. I just wanted to rest, but was still determined to fit in my third HIIT workout. However, when Thursday came around, my pain and fatigue got the better of me. I taught yoga Thursday morning and then rested during the afternoon when the kids rested. I had Pilates that night and when I got home my body was so HUNGRY!

I chose a few days of recovery before attempting anything again. Friday morning I got up early and started packing for a short trip out of town. I went to see my sister graduate from college. It’s been a long time coming and 5.5 years ago she came to visit me in North Carolina for a few weeks to get a break from life and never left. She graduated with honors and plans to go to graduate school in the spring. I’m so incredibly proud of her! I also got to see my mom! Because she lives in Iowa I see her so rarely and it’s been since January. However, I get to see her again in 11 days for a trip home to Iowa for my youngest brother’s graduation from college. My other brother and my cousin were also there and my boys loved having time joking around with their uncle.

My body also loved the chance to just NOT DO ANYTHING!

Back at It
After our trip Friday-Saturday, my body was ready again. It was three days into May already and I was feeling kind of lazy at that point. So, Sunday I went out for the HIIT workout described here. I chose to use part of my 1.5 mile route so that I didn’t end up too far from home with a lot to run back after the intervals. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten faster and only had room for 3 of the 1 minute intervals. Actually, I should say, THANKFULLY I only had room for the three intervals. They were harder than I expected!

I was worried during the almost 10 minute warm-up run that I was going too fast. This is something that I really have trouble with….pacing myself. I was happy to find out that the 3 intervals were almost 45 sec/mile faster than the warm-up, but I was begging for the end of the 10 second sprint on all three. The 30 seconds at “slow” didn’t feel long enough. However, my form felt great and I am happy to report that I do not hurt today as I feared I might. I cooled down a bit, drank some water, and was able to fit in my resistance training exercises or some version of them in my back yard. I was fairly satisfied with the total workout.

One thing I would have changed? Performed this workout on a track. Note that it states you CANNOT do it on a treadmill to perform it correctly. Treadmills set the pace for you and the best way to get faster is to push yourself faster….not as a treadmill to do it for you.

HIIT it again?
So, after the three different workouts, the one I loved the most was the second one. I liked the idea of resistance training and getting my heart rate up at the same time. I will definitely use this when I travel as I think that that’s where it fits into my life the best. However, overall I like my standard training routine more than the HIIT workouts for the life I lead at the moment. I see the benefit of each of these and I see myself using HIIT training more in the future when I head back into competing. Races just aren’t on my radar at the moment and for general fitness I don’t feel the need to HIIT it regularly.

How you HIIT
If you’re thinking about trying out HIIT training or if you’re alredy doing it, I highly suggest reading this article:

5 Common Myths About High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Tell me about your HIIT experience.

What is keeping you from trying it? 


HIIT Day Two: Power or Precision

It’s late on a Monday night and I’m burning cds for teaching yoga in the morning. My right hip and knee have been giving me trouble of late and I’m wondering how that will impact my teaching tomorrow. The good news is that I teach and that’s all I’m asking my body to do tomorrow. Today was my second day of HIIT training this month. I had my regular Monday walk/run with my friend Brittany and it went well considering the children and the alligator sighting.

Then I came home and got right to my HIIT. I chose to do one that was based on strength training this time around as I had already done 4.13 miles of walking and running. Neither the walk nor the run was up to my usual par, so this sample workout that I found from ACE wasn’t about to push me over the edge, but would still get my heart rate back up from the lower end it was at earlier. You can find the workout here: Maximize HIIT With Metabolic Strength Conditioning.

I was a little confused by the wording of the workout itself and I am emphasizing that I’m just trying HIIT out this month to see if it’s something I plan to add to my future workouts as a regular thing. I did each of the exercises as written, but as I don’t own hand weights….I improvised. Mostly I used body weight for the lower weighted exercise and then used something around the house for the heavier weighted round. I waited about 2 minutes between each pairing, but I think I should have waited the two to three minutes before performing all three pairs again. I chose only to do one round for today.

So, what did I like about this vs. the RBT I did last time? Well, this time I set a timer and I didn’t know when it was going to stop. For me that was more motivation to keep going. The last time it was nice to just start pushing all out and then rest when I needed to, but I never knew how long I had gone for. I also liked that the exercises changed with time instead of just a number of repetitions and that there was built in rest. Again, I like to know when to stop and go.

What did I not like about this workout? Well, as a trained and degreed fitness professional, I’ve always been taught to do exercises with precision and correct form. For me this meant that the strength exercises (first two in each pair) were done a lot slower than what I imagine a HIIT workout to be like. That being said, I know that if I’d had the proper weights around they would have been more intense than they were.

The verdict? I loved this workout and it’s simplicity. I definitely will be doing it the next time I’m in a weight room and haven’t already done another workout in the same day. I’d like to see if I could reasonably “hiit” three rounds.

Have you ever focused on strength during your HIIT workouts?
Do you like rest based or time based intervals?
Any alligators in your neighborhood?

HIIT Day One: It feels like the first time…..

There are so many things going on in the world today that writing about HIIT seems so little in the grand scheme of things, but big in my world. I did a HIIT workout for the first time a few weeks back to sample it for a workshop I was helping with. My sampling of the styles is far more different than the route I chose to go for my first workout with HIIT….before I travel for the weekend. Without further ado: Happy Siblings Day and HIIT IT!

I started my warm-up for my workout on the physio ball. I was lucky in that I turned on my radio to my local station 98.7 modern rock and what was playing? This song down here.

Oh it was like heaven dancing on my ball to that and the second song. Tell me you can’t totally get down to that! Then it was time to get moving and HIITing.

I chose to do Rest Based Training for my first HIIT session. Rest Based Training (RBT) is a way of learning how to push all out and take the rest when you need it. It’s kind of like a method we used to use when I coached swimming where we said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” Therefore, when kids were swimming butterfly sets we only had them do as many strokes as they could do correctly and then finish out the length of the pool in whatever other stroke they felt confident in.

So in RBT you push as hard as you can until you can’t and then you rest and then you jump back in where you left off and keep going until you can’t again. The cycle keeps repeating itself and gives you the control instead of some drill sergeant instructor who wants you to go with poor form until you die. Here is a great article from IDEAfit about RBT and some videos to go with.

The Workout
As I said, I warmed up on the physio ball for a good 5-6 minutes. It was probably overkill, but I felt like a highschooler dancing in my room in a 1980’s brat pack movie as I prepared for the party of the century. It was a good time to say the least. Then I got up and got started. I set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes. That was meant to be my first round. Sadly I only made it through one round due to my extreme exhaustion from this week and my kids getting into everything around me while trying to workout. Normally I save these sessions for nap time, but I will be driving to Statesville, NC today during nap time to teach a workshop this weekend. Come join me if you like!

I digress….what did I do for those ten minutes? I alternated between three exercises:

  • High knees (where my knees had to hit my hands)
  • Xcountry ski/jumping lunges (whichever my body could handle)
  • Mountain climbers (you know, those things from PE class that made you feel like your legs were too long? Is that just me?)

I did each item for 10 repetitions and then kept cycling through. When I noticed that I wasn’t pushing as hard as I was at the beginning, I stopped and rested until my breathing slowed enough that I felt I could do it again just as hard. I rested a surprising total of 4 times during this workout. I was shocked, but also grateful that it wasn’t more. I had planned a short rest at the end and then another 10 minutes using:

  • High knees (because these were the easiest thing I did)
  • Burpees (because I want to get better at them)
  • Squat jumps (because it’s kind of part of the burpee)

As I said, I bailed on the second set for the reasons stated above.

Stretching! Lots of stretching! I spent a good 5 minutes stretching out and trying to corral my kids from the destruction they’d caused in my upstairs space in those first 15 minutes. Cooling down is essential and I don’t want to let my muscles cramp up later during my car ride.

Lessons Learned
I learned that I’m not pushing myself hard enough in my every day workouts and that this type of training will be fun for me to incorporate once in awhile. I’m really looking forward to doing it again in 10 days and seeing what has happened to me and my other workouts in that time frame. I’m going to try a different format for that day and will definitely come back to RBT in the future. Other things I learned:

  • Don’t exercise with the kids around or have them do it with you
  • Remember to bring your water upstairs
  • Don’t focus on the time; focus on the effort
  • Enjoy the rest
  • Wear shoes (yeah, I did this one barefoot…not a great idea)
Have you been HIITing it yet?
Have you ever tried RBT?
What song are you getting down to right now?

Tone It Up Tuesday #19 – Fitness Challenge #4 – Are you HIITing it?

Okay, I’m going to say it again….Can you believe it’s already

I cannot! And not just April, but the 7th….a whole week in and we’re finally getting to the fitness challenge for the month. Next year I’m going to have to reconsider setting this up for the first day of the month instead of just the first Tuesday.

Let’s back pedal a little and get into how we’re doing so far:

Fitness Challenge #1 – Choose a goal; a word to describe that goal and what we hoped to get out of this year. Well, we’re 1/4 of the way done and my word was STRONGER. I posted recently (see here) about how amazing my arms are looking to me and how overall I’m feeling stronger via my workouts. But in terms of wellness (mental, spiritual, emotional, etc), there are still areas in which I want to get stronger. There are areas in my fitness I want to improve more of too and we’ll talk about that in this month’s workout plan.

Fitness Challenge #2 – Try to do more fitness for fun. This is an area in which I have really fallen short this year. I have been outdoors playing with my kids and indoors playing with my kids and just overall trying to play more, but in the grand scheme of things I haven’t hit that goal. I have used my rollerblades exactly once and they’re back to sitting in the garage. And I’ve yet to get my jump rope or hop back on the bike. The weather is really warming up and we’re doing more outdoors, so I’m going to keep playing with this.

Fitness Challenge #3 – Make yourself accountable to someone else/get some support. Well, Brittany and I have met every Monday, rain or shine, to walk. We had one Monday where we walked at the mall and didn’t hit our target distance and another Monday where I had to haul my 25+lb son on my back just to get the walk in because I was short my double stroller. The point is that we are there for each other. Yesterday was our Monday walk day and it was the first day that we incorporated a 1 mile run into the walk. It was slower because Brittany has not been running like I have and she had to pee. But I supported her and encouraged her to get through by giving her time updates and pointing out the short distance we had left to go. We made it! It helps me be accountable too. There are some Mondays that, after traveling all weekend, I just want to sit on the couch and watch tv all day. But knowing that I am meeting someone else to workout makes me get up and get going. Next week our run will fall earlier in the walk and maybe we can improve our times. (Check us/me out over at MapMyRun!)

So, that brings us to the APRIL TRAINING PLAN

  • 20 modified push-ups
  • Pilates ring exercises for biceps and lats 3 sets of 20 each exercise and each side rotating
  • 20 physio ball hamstrings curls
  • 20 bird dogs each side with opposite arm and leg
  • 20 Pilates scissors
  • Every Monday in April walk the 4.13 mile loop at Greenfield Lake with Brittany and run one of the 4 miles. (yesterday=check)
  • Log a total of 60 miles or more (that’s 10 miles more than last month’s goal, but I hit it and then some; 52.35 miles in March)
  • To the above resistance training (because none of it has become too easy yet other than the noted exceptions with the Pilates ring) add 50 forward lunges with rotation while holding the Pilates ring (25 each side)
    I walk through to the next lunge without stepping together on each.
  • Add also 5-10 each side balancing single leg wood choppers with the Pilates ring
    Something like this…only taking my time to make it smooth and keeping the up leg bent behind me
  • Add also 20 repetitions of supine hip add/abduction. I couldn’t find a good photo for this one. Basically you lay on your back with your legs in table top and engage the core by pulling your navel to your spine and zipping up the pelvic floor. Then you slowly open and close the legs while keeping them in table top. This was given to me by my midwife after my second son was born to help with the rectus diastis.

You may, or may not, realize that I cut the Warrior Series out of my workout plan here. As I said last week, the yoga teaching I’m doing is kicking my butt, but even more so, I’m finding out that I’m not getting enough out of my static postures. Just as I had learned back in December, the ability to SQUAT wasn’t coming out fully in my postures. This is why I have swapped them for the lunges. My every third day workout is still meeting my rest demands, but there’s even more that I want to do. So, without further ado…..

Fitness Challenge #4

This topic is rather pertinent for the work I’ve been doing lately. And most of it has to do with HIIT training. If you’re unfamiliar with HIIT training it’s basically interval training. So, instead of just substituting the 15 sets of stairs on the rainy days, I’m going to just flat out add in a little higher intensity training throughout the month of April. I am planning 3 HIIT days total this month. The 10th, the 20th, and the 30th to make it even. Why? Well, because adding intervals and upping the intensity of your workout from time to time can help you to overcome fitness plateaus.

Since December I have been stuck in a rut with those same 20 push-ups and I have not been able to get to where I feel ready to tackle burpee’s on the regular. Despite the addition of new exercises, more cardio training, and the currently 4 hours of yoga teaching each week, I still feel like I’m not reaching my true fitness potential. So, HIIT it is for those three days. On each of those days I will try to post my HIIT workout and I’ve included several links to HIIT articles for your review below.

As HIIT training may not be for you, your challenge this month is to just take 3 days, any 3 days, and turn up the heat on one part of your workout. Maybe you will choose to do a circuit with little rest for a few of your exercises. Maybe you will add some intervals to your cardio. Maybe you will take it up a notch with some plyos. You choose what is right for your training.

Where could you use more intensity in your training?

Understanding HIIT
HIIT Strength Conditioning
HIIT Nutrition

If; Then

Apparently I didn’t push “Publish” on this post yesterday, so here it is today. What I just sat down to write today will get schedule as a post for tomorrow. Back to regular “almost daily” posting on Monday.

In the latest section of Rubin’s Better Than Before book she talks about a strategy for improving good habits called “If; Then”. We use this same language in yoga, but in a much different way. In yoga we say that IF you feel a certain way in a pose; THEN adjust this way. Rubin’s suggestion is more along the lines of a planned strategy to avoid “failing” at your good habits. So, IF I can’t go outside to run today; THEN I will do a HITT workout instead.

Rubin also talks in this section about planned exceptions to the rule that don’t really break the rule. So, on Tuesday I did my first “weight training” day in a long time. And therefore, I chose (in advance) not to do sun salutations that day. Partly because I wasn’t sure how weight training was going to go and partly because I’m trying to stop putting things on my schedule when I fill each line. There’s no need for two things per line! (or so I’m currently telling myself….it’s not going so well) And partly because I’m not trying to streak with sun salutations, but rather slowly build the habit of doing them until I can complete my goal of 108 consecutive sun salutations. This didn’t make me feel guilty about skipping a day of sun salutations and then, yesterday I did them again right after my run.

Planned exceptions are not the same as spur of the moment exceptions. For example….yesterday I didn’t read in Rubin’s book nor post. This made me feel guilty and behind today. Today I have other things to do, like writing a different post on the material I was supposed to read on Wednesday. I really wish those two items were checked off in my calendar or that I had not put them on there anyway. But…..I started to rationalize this to myself using what Rubin calls a Loophole Excuse.

My word of the day for Wednesday was ENJOY! I spent the day trying to enjoy each thing I did…..including grocery shopping with a 4 year old! I tried to enjoy my run and our playdate at the park, bill paying, and eating. Then it was time to have an afternoon playdate and I enjoyed that too……so much so that I left myself without time to read and write. I was embracing my word of the day….that’s what I told myself…..but really I was making a spur of the moment loophole excuse to ditch something else that also gives me joy. Doing this also made me feel guilty the next day and not as “THANKFUL” (the WOD for Thursday) as I should have been.

Today I am thankful that I have another chance to check off my list. It’s not a fail nor a fall….just a stumble. IF I cannot complete my checklist one day; THEN I will try to pick up the slack the next day. IF I cannot “catch up” on my checklist; THEN I will make peace with what was left undone and move forward from there.One thing that was very painful to read was about Obligers and their ability to come up with loopholes….especially when the habit has no accountability to others. Yep, I’m an Obliger through and through! But, that doesn’t give me permission to use it as an excuse. Rubin comes up with 10 different loopholes that people create and a great deal of them are the excuses for why I haven’t yet applied for the full-time job posting that’s up right now……

How do you feel about unfinished work?

What excuses do you make?

How do those excuses make you feel?

Do you have “IF; THEN” strategies?

Thank you to Amanda for a place to share ideas!

Happiness Project Month 2: Strength – My Second Big Truth

For me and my body I first wanted to focus on health because of all that has gone on with my body in the first few months of this year. Now that I have resolved a few things with my health:

  • The cyst is out and my leg is still healing
  • The final lupus tests were negative
  • No cavities at my dental check-up
  • I’m still as blind as I’ve always been per my eye exam
  • I have had enough blood drawn this month to create a new human

…it’s time to move on to the second major part of my happiness project: Strength. Continue reading “Happiness Project Month 2: Strength – My Second Big Truth”

Q1 Performance Report 2017

The other day in my inbox I received this from MapMyRun

It was both saddening and motivating. See, it’s not totally reflective of all the “activity” I’ve done so far this year. I no longer track my yoga teaching or practice, my HIIT workouts, my Pilates, nor anything I do outside of walking and running here. However, it was motivating because it meant that I hadn’t totally quit walking and running this year.

In the past few years I have struggled to hit the mythical 500 miles/year mark. This year may be no exception, but I’m still trying. I use MapMyRun because it’s free and I can mark my own routes pretty easily. There’s an app for the phone, but I don’t use it because I don’t have a lot of data. I am not a brand ambassador nor paid for my reviews of the site and the one thing I wish they’d eliminate is the calorie counter. But, I am a loyal user and I love being able to track my mileage, write how I felt about each session, see my pacing change on routes over time, and also to track the mileage on my shoes.

This year I am running with a friend 2x/week. We are planning on doing an 8k in September as my birthday present to myself this year. I am guaranteed to run at least twice a week with someone and lately it’s been about 4 miles of jog/walk as she builds up her endurance and speed. I enjoy this because it also means that I will be doing the mileage. Today is my lone run day and I am gearing up for a nice, stretch my legs run, at my own pace. I’m curious to see how my 2nd quarter performance will be now that we’ve started running together.

Do you like to run together or alone?

How do you track?

What do you track?

Would 54 miles in the first three months be a disappointment or motivating for you?

Workout Wednesday #8 – The Ball

Happy Wednesday All! I don’t know about you, but I love my physio ball! I’ve posted a few times about my physio ball

And you can see me use it in my HIIT workouts, but today I want to talk a little more about all the ways you can incorporate it.

Here’s the chart for sizing your ball

And, as always….

While I am a fitness professional with multiple degrees and certifications, this workout is unsolicited, un-sponsored, and not intended as advice for you to use to diagnose your own injuries, treat them, nor rehab anything; nor is it an exercise prescription that will meet your personal needs, likes, and abilities. Please check in with your healthcare professional if you’re having health problems and before starting any new exercise routine.

Just curious…

What’s your favorite physio ball exercise?

Meditation Monday #32 – How to Meditate: The Two Pillars of Yoga

Alternating periods of intense activity and rest is an important part of life, so it’s no surprise that this principle serves as the foundation of yoga itself.

This is the opening sentence to a 2007 Yoga Journal web article describing the two pillars of yoga: Abhyasa and Vairagya that I use with my Yoga II students. For the next few weeks I plan to focus our Meditation Monday posts on the topics I cover with them in regards to meditation. I have previously presented a series of 4 posts titled How to Meditate that covered some basic meditation techniques. Now I am expanding that for you with a deeper practice into meditation as well as my own insights on the topics at hand. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #32 – How to Meditate: The Two Pillars of Yoga”