Tag Archives: endurance

Hiking for Fitness

Chris often says that hiking is a tougher workout than running. Master Kim, our old Tae Kwan Do teacher, said that hiking is the best form of exercise besides Tae Kwon Do itself. If you believe anyone about fitness and life, it’s that guy.  I like to go hiking sometimes when I’m planning not to run that day. And almost always, I am passed out on the couch afterwards, zapped of energy. Which is a good thing! I know we are lucky enough to be in Colorado and thus have a seemingly-infinite amount of hiking trails, but there are hiking trails everywhere. Yes, even in Iowa. You just need to go find them.

A dam

A dam

This post is encouraging people to hike for fitness and not just spend all of their time in the gym. And there will be pictures from my most recent hike in Lyons, Colorado at Button Rock. Now, as you all know, I have nothing against gyms–nothing at all! In fact, we spend 2 hours there per day, usually. But we must never forget the beauty of nature and what we can enjoy outdoors. We must always find a balance between the indoors and the out.

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Hiking is a great form of exercise. It (usually) costs nothing, spare the gas or parking fees, and it is almost enjoyable. Some people detest gyms and if you are one of those people, take a hike! Hiking has an extraordinary amount of benefits including cardiovascular endurance training or as we like to shorten it to “cardio.” Not all hikes are uphill, but I know that ours definitely was. Hiking is walking on steroids. As you continue going upwards, the air gets thinner, and your body has to work harder to gain its homeostasis (basically, the “normal” state of our body at rest). And even if you’re not necessarily going straight uphill, the terrain of hiking is often unsteady, thus your body fights to maintain balance and recruit muscles to stabilize yourself.

My friend and her dog

My friend and her dog

There are incredibly cardio benefits to this (in fact, it is almost just as powerful in this way as running is, as your body has to try to regulate your breathing just as it does while you run or jog), but there are also just as many muscular benefits as well. After I’ve hiked, I feel that I ran a 5k and did a heavy leg workout. It of course has these effects, because of the strain you put on your “cardio” system (as we spoke of earlier) and the amount of work your poor muscles have to do!

Her dog loves to be thrown sticks and retrieve them in the water

Her dog loves to be thrown sticks and retrieve them in the water

After a hike, I can almost certainly not do a heavy leg workout. I remember one time I did this hike and it was a planned leg workout that night. As soon as I got home, I passed out on the couch for an hour and then I dragged myself to the floor to do some leg work without weights. Just when your body is trying to balance upon the unsteady terrain, your legs (all the way from your feet to your glutes and even core) recruit all the muscles they can to maintain that stability. Your glutes help you power up the steep hills and rocks, your quads help slow your descent downhill, your calves help to delicately step up a pile of boulders, and your hamstrings keep you going. It is a fully functional total leg workout. And the legs almost never get a break the whole time!

photo 1 (4)Even with just the slight amount of benefits I’ve already told you, why aren’t you lacing up your hiking boots already! Take a day off from the gym, or even combine the two, and go for a hike! My traps even feel sore afterwards too. If the workout benefits haven’t convinced you, then maybe the rest of these pictures will! Or you could just decide to take it to another level, kick up the intensity, and run the trail instead. For more information on the best trail running shoes, check out Gear We Are! Go hiking to stay hungry and fit!

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How We Are Going to Get Back in Shape (and you can too)!

So after figuring out our job situation, for the most part, we finally decided that it was financially reasonable and responsible to sign up for a gym membership. Ideally, as a personal trainer and a swim instructor, it’s a common perk of the job to (depending on where you work) get a free membership. As I work at a small scuba diving and swimming school, there is no fitness facility other than the pool, unlike the YMCA that I worked at before moving. Alana has a free membership to the YMCA that she works at but as it is over fifteen miles from home, it’s not worth me getting a membership, so she has that. As I look for another job for some extra hours on the extended weekends, it would be great to find a place with a lap pool where I can start some swim workouts, but until then it’s going to have to wait.

Looking around Boulder of all places, and trying to maintain a budget, we passed up on what seemed the logical choice in 24 Hour Fitness and joined the Boulder Rock Club. 24 Hour Fitness is not the kind of gym that I like to work out at because I am against that chain-feeling in general. At this location, I really got that feeling and, unless I am travelling and need a week pass to a place with everything, I don’t feel any sense of attachment to a place like that where it seems members are more so a person that is counted as they walk through the door. Again, since we’re in Boulder, we wanted to start climbing, but we also wanted a location with a general gym feeling… a locker room, a fitness center, weights, machines, etc. At a reasonable monthly rate for all these services, we took a chance with the BRC. Obviously I sacrificed a pool for the time being seeing as I am still very much so in a second job hunt.

So, having signed up two days ago we made our first trip yesterday. Time to try to get back into shape. Now, to go a little bit more in depth, there were some other factors that made us decide on the BRC. This location was a bit of a premature impulse decision but, in theory, we have no regrets because one of the best ways for individuals like us who are out of shape, but were once in shape not too too long ago, is easing back into things. We were athletes and we have ton of injuries that have healed and some that haven’t healed.

Joining a climbing club, and this location particularly, motivates us to do more body weight exercises and start to re-develop what really matters: joint strength and the like. You can have the biggest strongest muscles with amazing muscular endurance, but that doesn’t matter if your joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, and everything else supporting and interacting with your muscle systems are not prepared to handle the routines that you put yourself through. I know from experience. So we took yesterday at a snail’s pace as an opportunity to ease back in and make sure nothing was acting up before we start to kick it into higher gears.

Here’s our workout, then we’ll talk some more.

At 8:40 a.m. with an empty stomach I applied some Tiger Balm Muscle Rub to my shoulders, upper back, lower back, and neck.

Then we went through about a 30 minute bouldering session at a relatively light pace, doing novice level routes, and earning massive forearm and hand pumps in the process.

Next we moved to the weight room, which is modest, and went through a short and VERY modest shoulder routine. (I have a superior lesion from anterior to posterior in my left labrum so this is always a cautious day, especially first day back.)

1. Standing Resistance Band Rear Deltoid Flies: 3 sets with a fitting band, 15-20 reps a set

2. Standing Lateral Dumbbell Flies: 3 sets with 15 lb weights, 10-12 reps per set

3. Seated Shoulder Press: 3 sets, ascending weight from 35-45 lbs, 8-12 reps

4. Olympic Bar Shrugs: 3 sets, ascending weight from 95-115 lbs, 16-18 reps

5. Roman Chair Dips: 3 sets, body weight, 6 reps

6. Back Extension Apparatus, 3 sets, body weight, 10 reps

Now obviously, this was more or less our workout. We had to keep it short because we had to get to work and because we wanted to ease back into a fitness routine, and this was very much so easing. We hit most of our major and minor muscle groups in our shoulders, namely neglecting our front delts, scaptions, and rotator cuffs, which I rarely miss. It was not a tough workout because our warm up was not complete so I did not want to risk anything. I always warm up my shoulders before an upper body workout, especially shoulders, in order to prevent injury.

Also, we always try to incorporate some core-specific exercise into every workout, even on isolation days. Here is was the back extensions, because my lower back is very weak right now. The Tiger Balm also acts as a sort of warm up although it’s not meant to be a replacement. Why didn’t we isolate back, chest, arms, or legs first? Because I need to make sure my shoulder can withstand a workout before moving to another body part. It is extremely difficult to properly workout any body part when something is not working properly. Your muscles work tandem with one another. If something is out of whack, your whole body will be screwed up.  When I further ripped the tear in my labrum, my squat numbers plummeted because I was no longer able to balance the bar with one shoulder. So that is why we started with shoulders.

A complete weight training workout can be perf...

Weight training, brah

Now that it more or less passed the test we are prepared to hit the other body parts, and once they are all conditioned well enough we will begin complex circuit training routines. So my path I am hoping to follow, if all resources are in place, and always injury pending:

1. Mix isolated muscle group workouts with light bouldering and climbing

2. Increase weight and rep range within isolated muscle workouts

3. Increase duration of isolated muscle workouts

4. Begin to build cardio vascular capacity through cardio based workouts (run and bike)

5. Add cardio to muscle workouts through super sets

6. Begin full body circuit training 

The ideal workout week: ( I never allow for enough rest)

  • Isolated muscle workouts every/every other day, i.e. chest and triceps/back and biceps/lower body/shoulders and forearms
  • Full body circuit training, i.e. Spartacus workout version 1, three times a week
  • Bouldering and climbing every day in the gym, with these workouts
  • Cardio-based workouts (bike and run) three times a week

So that might look like: (in no particular order for each day)

Monday: Chest and triceps in the gym, circuit training session, bouldering

Tuesday: Back and biceps in the gym, 20 mile stationary bike ride, top-rope

Wednesday: Lower body in the gym, circuit training session, bouldering

Thursday: Shoulder and forearms in the gym, 3 mile treadmill run (probably not), top-rope

Friday: Core in the gym, basketball in the park

Saturday: back to the start…

I am never good at following those and I kind of ran through that but more or less we will want to start incorporating everything, easing back into our routines while adapting to our new lifestyle and workout resources. In terms of sleep, I try to get seven a night, and I take my vitamins and minerals and try to eat healthy, lots of fish… and dairy. I try to load carbs in the morning and taper off throughout the day, having a protein filled meal at night. I won’t include the scientific explanation for that process unless it’s requested.

But seriously, feel free to ask any questions about our workout or nutritional plan, and PLEASE feel free to ask for some help finding a way for you to get back into shape. Give us your background, resources, and goals and we can make it work. I love helping people achieve fitness goals.

Email us at alana.ppowell@gmail.com