Tag Archives: cardio

The Top 10 Workout Songs for December 2016

Please enjoy a post from our friends at RunHundred.com.

Dance tracks dominate the proceedings in our monthly workout music recap. While that sounds like the introduction to one-dimensional playlist, the tracks approach the genre from different avenues. Plus, there are a handful of pop singles mixing things up along the way.

The first batch of dance tracks are the remixes—where Top 40 favorites like The Weeknd and clubland stars like Flume both find their recent hits reimagined. Elsewhere, you’ll find David Guetta and Nevada each leading collaborative covers of a pair of ’90s, R&B singles. Finally, you’ve got straightforward pop tunes including a rousing send off to past loves from Little Mix and a contribution to the Singsoundtrack featuring Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande.

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Los Liones Hike (Palisades, CA)

Yes! Another hiking adventure! One of my most favorite forms of fitness: the outdoors and exercise. It’s important to enjoy nature either by yourself, your loved one, or good friends. We have been doing a hike about every other weekend to improve our fitness and soothe our minds. If you haven’t checked out last time’s hike, look here. This time, Jamie, Dani, and I headed for the Pacific Palisades in thirst for a challenging hike.  We certainly found what we were looking for. It was a workout. Probably the toughest hike I’ve done in a bit. We found our way to Los Liones Canyon and we trudged upwards. 

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The World Cup: Perfect for Machine Cardio

Ahhh, the World Cup is finally here! If you unfortunately don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain… biggest sporting event of the world! Teams from all parts of the world coming together to battle in tournament (soccer or football). It’s a glorious glorious thing for soccer-lovers like Hungry and I. And I’m telling you that these games can tie directly into your fitness! Do you ever feel the drudgery of doing cardio on machines (aka treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc.)? Then this is the ticket for you!

STAIRMASTER

Since Thursday (the start of the World Cup), I’ve found myself on the cardio machines more than usual. Why is that? Because as I’m pumping away at the elliptical, I’m completely engrossed in the World Cup games! Yes, I may be embarrassing myself by throwing up my hands or yelling at the gym TVs, but I am WORKIN‘ it. 

“Machine cardio” becomes a chore for most of us on a routine basis. This means we aren’t putting our all in, say if we did sprints or some other high-intensity, high-focus exercise. When you’re into something, whether it be a song you’re jamming to or a game you are loving, you are working hard. Your mood is up and you are pumping those machines! This means you are working harder, burning more calories, increasing the capacity at which your muscles are fighting, and generally getting a better workout. Set the program to “interval” and just rock it. 

bike dist

 Take advantage of amazing soccer being played every day (at least once a day!). Jump on that elliptical or treadmill, even if there’s only 15 minutes left in the half. Something is better than nothing! I know I’ve stepped on the treadmill in these past few days JUST for an excuse to watch the game at the gym. The World Cup is such a perfect way to sneak some machine cardio in especially if you normally despise it! Watch the World Cup to stay hungry and fit!

*Question of the Day: Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?

BONUS KITTY PIC

Sajah being so darn handsome

Sajah being so darn handsome

Something is Better Than Nothing

Sometimes it’s tough to get a workout in. It could be a number of things that prevent you from getting to that workout. Maybe you just don’t have enough hours in the day. Maybe you had a bad day and your energy is drained. Maybe you have time but other people or commitments are stopping you. These are all things we may be able to get around. But remember, something is better than nothing.

Don’t feel mad at yourself because you didn’t fit in your entire workout in, be appreciative that you at least got that activity in. Things will prevent you from doing everything you want to do and that’s just life. That doesn’t mean we hang our heads in defeat. We still did something. From a trainer’s perspective, that’s huge. A few minutes of activity can be the make or break deal for losing weight, keeping your heart healthy, or defeating the threat of diabetes. Seriously. 

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Find some motivation that you stepped out the doors and onto the pavement for a walk instead of cramming lunch into your desk. Find some happiness in the fact that at least you got ten minutes on the elliptical instead of none. Find some inspiration that you at least hit most of the shoulder muscle groups instead of all. Find joy in the fact that your dog is now happier that you two enjoyed exercise together. Find a smile after you get ten minutes of interval bike training in instead of your planned thirty.

The bottom line is to stay positive. You at least did something. Your body will be grateful for that. I struggle with this too–not getting my full workout or what I planned. But hey, life happens sometimes and you gotta improvise. Try to take the positives out of each situation, each moment of exercise even though it may be small. That’s the best way to stay hungry and fit!

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Best Way to Burn Calories: Cycling Interval Training

A few months ago, we discussed HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for treadmillsNow let’s move onto the bike. If you want thighs of steel, this is the workout for you. You will come off the bike feeling like your legs way a hundred tons after this workout because you’ve worked so hard. HIIT is a great way to stay in shape, turn the fat-burners on high, and improve oxygen capacity. Think you had to run 6 miles a day to do that? Think again! HIIT is a great time-saving way to stay in shape while constantly challenging your body, thus burning more calories. Plus, you build more muscle because you’re doing more powerful exercises that require force (sprints, etc.).

Interval training burns more calories and challenges your body more than most cardio programs due to the nature of intervals. You are constantly changing your speed and pace, thus forcing your body to try to adapt. In sprint mode? Your body has to fight to give your muscles and lungs enough oxygen. In recovery mode? Your body has to slow down all its systems to try to provide you with the right recovery tools. But do you let it recover? Of course not! Thus, your body is constantly attempting to adapt to the conditions you force upon it, but the nature of intervals cause it to never be able to properly catch up, which makes us stronger in the end.

Do this for a minimum of 15 minutes. The best would be 25-30 minutes, or even more if you’re feeling crazy.

  • Begin with a 3-5 minute warm-up of 75-80 RPMs. Let your legs get warmed up so you can TOAST them.
  • Start your 1-minute sprint. I want you to pump those pedals as FAST as you can, get your RPMS above 100, maybe above 120! If you need to up the resistance, do it! Go hard! Train with purpose! Listen to awesome music!
  • Once you hit a minute, go into 1-minute recovery mode–think of it like a fast enough pace without killing you. Cycle easy, but not too easy.
  • Repeat–go back into your sprint for a minute. Then return to recovery.

If this seems too advanced for you, try doing 30s sprint/1min recovery. If this seems too easy for you, try doing 1min sprint/30s recovery. There are so many ways to change this up to fit your needs. HIIT is one of my most favorite ways to train and this is just ONE example. Doing HIIT on the bike will accelerate muscle development in your legs, shaping you to be more powerful in that part of your body. Keep your eyes out for more on this series of how to burn calories and the best HIIT tricks. Use this workout to stay hungry and fit!

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BONUS KITTY PIC

Double cuteness!!

Double cuteness!!

The Best Way to Cut Calories: Swimming

This post was inspired by an old swimming friend that has more recently gotten involved in lifting weights and trying to transform his body. He is an extremely experienced and skilled swimmer so he has a lot of tools at his disposal. He does not enjoy running or biking as a means to burn calories but he is interested in cutting for the summer.

Cutting is a term used in the fitness industry, primarily among physique based competitions, that refers to a stage after bulking where you lower your caloric intake and increase your caloric deficits in order to lose fat. Through this process of lowering body fat percentage, the muscles that a person developed and strengthened during their bulking phase will be more defined, visible and prominent. It has a certain aesthetic effect.

Not exactly your typical lap swimmer (it's Alana)

Not exactly your typical lap swimmer (it’s Alana)

Mr. M (we will keep his identity a mystery) asked me if swimming was a suitable substitute for cutting and the answer is yes. Anything that helps you achieve your caloric deficit amongst a cutting phase, with proper diet and rest, is a proper form or substitute for the classic “cardio machines.” Most professionals have ellipticals, treadmills, steppers or even bikes in their home gyms. There are a few reasons why swimming does not receive attention on the same level. Those reasons are primarily seen as a disadvantage and therefore complicate the process. However, there are certain advantages as well if you are cutting for your own reasons and not trying to be like everyone else. Here are the reasons why people do not use swimming to lose fat:

1. Most people do not know how to swim. That’s true, believe it or not. Beyond that, many people that do know how to swim don’t know how to swim properly. The number of people that can swim the four competitive strokes and various other safety strokes properly is extremely small. Many bodybuilders are among this population and are not interested in learning how to swim. However, for Mr. M, this is not a concern and with strokes such as backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and butterfly it is very easy to burn more calories than on a machine that plugs into the wall.

2. It is much harder to calculate burned calories while swimming. Machines that plug into walls have abilities to calculate these numbers, therefore making it extremely convenient for someone tracking these figures so strictly to hit their marks properly. This is not the case while swimming, as every stroke will burn a different amount of calories. Pacing yourself will also affect this greatly. Swimming a 100-yard freestyle on 55 seconds and following with a second 100 yard freestyle on 1 minutes and 15 seconds will result in different calculations that need to be made. If you are not extremely strict on your figures, then this is not an issue as you can estimate. You can also buy some new devices in the market that are waterproof and track your calories that are burned. Fit will be doing a post soon about these devices so keep an eye out for that.

3. It is generally more difficult to find a body of water, especially year round, that is safe. You can run and bike on land. You can run indoors in the winter no matter where you live. Finding a safe swimming spot is harder as it is a much more dangerous activity due to the medium of the water. In developing countries swimming is a luxury and something that the majority of the population does not know how to do. Overall, it is simply not as safe.

Despite these factors, I highly recommended Mr. M to swim in order to cut to achieve his goals. The best way is to use all the strokes that you know and incorporate them into a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. Switch up your strokes and change your pace consistently to challenge your body to work harder and burn more calories. Swimming for an hour at the same pace does not do much unless you somehow can maintain your full speed, or something close, for that whole time. I love to do 100 and 200 IMs (individual medley- butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle) with the 100s being all out and the 200s being at a steady pace. I will do 5-10 of each depending on how I feel with minimal rest in between. It makes me feel good, keep my skills fresh and avoids putting extra impact on my heavy flat feet.

If you are interested in specific questions related to swimming or cutting calories please leave a comment below. And look forward to more entries in the Best Way to Cut Calories series. Use this to stay hungry and fit!

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BONUS KITTY PIC

Meow

Meow

Fat-Roasting, Glute-Burning Leg Circuit

After a 2 mile run around McIntosh Lake (see the run here), I decided to get my leg workout in the fast, no-break circuit kind of way. For this, it’s best to find yourself in a park, a beach, a backyard–somewhere with some space. But of course, if you’re locked in an apartment in an Alaskan winter, you can always modify it for small space too. This is a great workout for those who have little time and want high intensity. Let’s do it!

Lock n Load Legs Circuit

1. Lunge 20 feet (or for 20 seconds). You’re going to lunge yourself to your first “station” in this circuit.

2. Scorpions until failure. These work the hamstrings. Go on all fours, lifting one bent knee up and down behind you. Do it until you can’t do another rep. Switch to other leg.

Quadruped hip extension

3. Lunge 20 more feet to the next station (or 20 seconds). Think about a triangle as a formation that we’re doing (the stations set up in that way).

4. Plie squat until failure. The link has the best full description. Start in horse stance, squat down, then lunge left and then right! These are killer on the glutes and quads. Do them until you drop.

5. Lunge 20 more feet to next station (or 20 seconds stationary). ‘Nuff said.

6. Step ups until failureFor this, I had a little grassy incline that I used. If you’re at home, you can use a chair, a couch, or a coffee table (just don’t tell your partner!). Or at the beach, build up a little sand incline. You get the idea. Step up and drive the knee up every time. Until you can’t step up another time!

A super blurry older picture of me performing a step up

7. Doggies until failure. For this, you’re on your hands and knees again. Kick your leg back and then a full rotation around back to starting position. This targets your glutes. The more you do, the more those muscles will tighten up. Do them until failure and then right away on the other side.

And repeat as much as you have time for. Again, this can all be done stationary in one place. Just try to keep it non-stop. You can rest and have water in between the whole sets, but to get that burning, cardio effect, just keep going! Have fun and stay hungry and fit!

Running with Thunder

First of all, that sounds like an awesome Native American name. Second of all, let me start off with saying that, I am not a runner. I am not good at running, but I am learning to be better. Most people think, since I’m a personal trainer, that I am good at and/or enjoy every form of exercise. Wrong. But right now, we are gearing up to do an obstacle race (i.e. Warrior Dash) training class so I need to get my endurance up. Okay, back to why I’m writing this.

I’ve been running two miles lately, never going past it. I’ve been able to manage it semi-alright lately. And I’ve been trying to do it at a park, McIntosh Park, close to work. With the mindset of doing another 2 miles yesterday, with the possibility of going a little further, the clouds rolled in. I didn’t really think it was going to rain, but as I hit the pavement/trail, drops began to fall. Thunderheads were in the distance and, soon enough, they began rumbling. Rain starting falling heavier and lightning flashed–actually saw the bolts!

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McIntosh Lake

McIntosh Lake

By the two mile run, I still had enough energy. I had my headphones in, but no music playing (didn’t feel like holding them) so I could hear the rain and thunder. Somehow, I think it energized me because I was enjoying it. Though my feet were getting tired, I plugged on. I was slightly wary of getting struck by lightning during the no-trees part, but I figured that would make a good story, too.

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I ended up running the full trail–3.6 miles! I was absolutely shocked and extremely proud of myself for going the whole way without stopping–at a decent pace too! Took me 32 minutes for the thing. After an experience like that, I can appreciate running more, and if you’re looking for a gift for a runner in your life, look no further than That Sweet Gift!

3.6 mi run

Moral of the story: Don’t fear the rain 

Real moral of the story: Don’t ever limit yourself, you never know what you can achieve

BONUS KITTY PIC

Sleepy

Sleepy

High Intensity Training [Or: For Cardio Haters]: Treadmill Interval Training

Odd title, perhaps. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a cardio hater, but I certainly do not usually enjoy running. Sprinting, sure, but sustained running, no. I’m not sure what it is, whether it bores me, I have poor endurance, or I don’t run properly (definitely a combination of the three). So if you’re like me, or if you just want a new great fat-blasting workout, listen up.

56/365 morning run

56/365 morning run (Photo credit: kharied)

Instead of trying to improve my mile time or extend the amount of mileage in a go, lately I’ve been doing interval training instead. This is perfect for someone like me who is eager for a tough intense workout, but isn’t a huge fan of running for cardio. Using a treadmill for this makes everything a lot easier because you can easily control your speed and monitor it as well.

Treadmill Desk

Treadmill Desk (Photo credit: {platinum})

So go ahead–don’t be scared–jump on that treadmill and get ready for this workout:

25 minutes total

  • Start with a 5 minute walking warm up, but make it brisk–3 or 3.5 mph
  • Now we begin our interval training. Bump up the speed to 5 mph, a light jog
  • After 1 minute, change the speed to 8 mph or something akin to your speed of a sprint
  • Sprint for 1 minute at this pace then slow it down back to 5 mph (or slower if you’re really struggling–but never below 3 mph)
  • Go off and on like this (switching every minute) until your treadmill reads 25 minutes

This interval training is excellent for burning fat. And more importantly–for me–I don’t get bored, because I’m constantly switching speeds and pushing myself hard. It may seem like a long time for such intensity, but it goes by quickly and you will know the hard work you’ve done after. Your body will ache for nutrients.

English: Workout room.

Workout room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Say you can’t bump it up that high? Or perhaps 25 minutes is just too long for you. Be reasonable, listen to your body, if you need to modify it, do so. For beginners, or people who just want to start smart, extend the rest time (the slow jog or fast walk in between the sprints) to 2-4 minutes instead of just 1. This may be the time you need to help you get all the way to 25 minutes.

And for those who just don’t have the time, simply cut it down farther. But make sure you maintain that speed and don’t cheat. You only cheat yourself. Let us know if you have any questions. As always…stay hungry and fit!

How to Keep in Shape with an Injured Lower Body

You don’t have to be an athlete to know how much lower body injuries (ie: knees, ankles, feet, etc.) are a pain in the tush. Perhaps you’re not even into fitness, but somehow you’ve sustained an injury. And you think, uh oh–how can I stay in shape if I can’t use my lower half? Now I’m not suggesting you’re paralyzed or anything, but if you have a torn meniscus, you better not be doing any running or leg work. Chris and I have had our fair share of lower body injuries, torn meniscus, bruised gliding plates, sprained ankles, the list goes on. However, fitness-buffs and athletes that we are caused us to search around and get creative in order to stay in shape and not melt into a puddle of jelly.

You may not think you can get a cardio workout just with your arms, but you can. Some of my friends may remember during my injury, me puffing red in the face with jelly arms after one of these specific workouts excluding the lower body. So let me share some tips.

1. Arm cycle. Look around in your gym. You see that older-looking machine that nobody ever seems to use? The one with nowhere to put your feet, but pedal-looking things for your hands. Go and sit on it. It’s an arm cycle. And it’s a hell of a workout and a great upper-body strengthener and toner. Start at 30 minutes. Set it to whatever level desired. Then each day you use it, turn it up 2 minutes until eventually you reach 60 minutes. It’s tough and sometimes hard to keep going, but it is a machine that will keep you in shape.

3. Seated boxing workouts. Now when I injured my knee, I was out for a long time–very frustrating. And while doing the arm cycle was keeping my cardio in shape and also my muscles in shape, I wanted variety. Chris offered this seated boxing workout and it kicked my butt, but made me very strong. This is for ones wanting variety or those without an arm cycle. Try this one out:

  • Sit down on a chair, back straight, shoulders back. Have two dumbbells in your hands, could range from 3 to 10 pounds. I would definitely start with 3 pounds or 5 pounds. You may think, oh I can lift way more than that, but just wait for what you will be doing. 
  • Start shadow boxing for 1 minute using the dumbells
  • After 1 minute is up, pick up the dumbbells (or you can get heavier) to do curls for 1 minute. 
  • Done with the curls? Back to 1 minute shadow boxing with dumbbells
  • After that minute, put down your dumbbells and get yourself on the floor for 1 minute of push-ups.
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Do the same last 4 exercises again–that’s one set
  • Do 3 sets of this.

It may look like nothing. But go ahead and try it, it is an excellent workout. Be sure to have water nearby when you do so. Stay hydrated during your rest periods. It is a high intensity workout that takes no longer than 25 minutes, typically.

Otherwise, you can do your typical upper body strength workouts (chest, triceps, back, biceps, shoulders, core dependingseated. This way, there is no pressure on your lower body and you can get your muscles in shape.

Good luck and let us know if you have any questions! And don’t forget to focus on healing too!