24 Jan

Fit Chicks Fierce in 8

When it comes to workouts, anyone who has been following my blog knows that I tend to focus on lifting heavy weights, practicing yoga, and occasionally running.

I’m not really one to do fitness videos at home, though I have tried a few like Tracy Anderson Mat which was awful (Really. It was SO bad.) and One-on-One Training with Jackie Warner which I liked but didn’t stick with.

And yet the Canadian fitness company FIT CHICKS still seemed to think that I might be a good person to review their new workout DVD boxset and meal plan called FIERCE in 8. Naturally, I agreed.

Fit Chicks

The boxset contains 8 different HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts that combine short burst of cardio followed by strength training for recovery. Each workout is under 30 minutes and is inspired by a different form of exercise like tabatas, plyometrics, mixed martial arts, and bootcamp.

The exercises definitely got me to work up a sweat and increase my heart rate but I found that one video wasn’t really enough for me. So every time I popped a video in I would do two of the workouts back to back.

I liked the martial arts inspired workouts the best, like Fierce Fighter Chick and Boxing Babes, because I really like punching and kicking the shit out of nothing in particular (and sometimes people, but that’s a whole other story). No joke. They were energetic and tiring and a good way to release some general frustration.

The boxset also comes with a meal plan, healthy recipes, a green smoothie guide, and a 8 week schedule to plan out your FIT CHICKS workout days and rest days so you get a complete workout and nutrition plan.

Overall I thought the whole FIERCE in 8 system was ok. I’m not going to stick with it because home workouts aren’t really my thing but that’s not to say that I don’t think they’d be useful to other women who want a short workout that they can squeeze into their busy schedule without having to leave home.

If you think you might be interested in giving the program a try, I’ll be giving away the FIERCE in 8 boxset to one lucky reader in my next post. Stay tuned.

13 Dec

Regroup, Refocus, Reflect

Get Your Workout On – from Etsy

I’ve been feeling a bit bloated lately in a way that always makes me totally uncomfortable with how I look and how I feel.

It makes me start to second guess myself and all my healthy living progress and think things like

I’ve probably been eating too many cookies

I must be slacking in my workouts

I shouldn’t have cleared my plate at that restaurant

So before I start on a downward spiral toward fat talk and bad self-esteem I need to regroup, refocus, and reflect on all my healthy lifestyle habits as a reminder that, hey, I’m doing ok!

I eat breakfast every day.

I load my cart with vegetables at the grocery store.

I cook dinners from scratch at least 4 days per week and I eat leftovers for lunch every day.

I eat out once and maybe twice per week.

I prioritize exercise and do it regularly and consistently.

I keep variety in my workouts with heavy weightlifting, interval training, yoga, and steady state cardio.

I life-hacked a standing workstation at my office to reduce my sedentary time.

Given all that, I think I’m doing a pretty good job at maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Of course, no one is perfect and some bad habits have been starting to creep up that might need to be nipped in the bud:

I have been drinking a lot more caloric beverages lately– lattes, sweetened coffee, hot chocolate, or beer (umm… ’tis the season?)

I haven’t been taking the dog for as many long walks.

My fat consumption lately has been more bad fats (mmm. . . butter) than good ones (still mmm, but not quite so much. . . avocado)

Slowly I’ve been incorporating more processed grains into my diet whereas I was trying to focus on solely unrefined ones.

It makes me feel better to pause and say, this is what you’re doing right and this is what you’re doing wrong, rather than just flying off the handle and telling myself I’m a failure at being healthy just because I feel a little bloated. I’m not a failure. I’m doing a lot of the right things.

02 May

Conditioning Drills: Terrible Twenties

In keeping with the theme of crazy conditioning drills last night I decided to bust out Terrible 20s.

Terrible Twenties – a sprinting drill sandwiched between a shit tonne of push-ups and sit-ups.

You need a space of at least 50 metres to do this drill, so I jogged over to a portion of the trail near my house that’s a bit quieter so people wouldn’t see the crazy girl running back & forth a million times.
I guesstimated and marked off a distance of 50m which, due to my poor distance perception, I later discovered was actually 150 metres. Blast! I worked harder than I had to (no wonder the sprints were so tough!).

Here’s how the drill goes:

It took me about 50 minutes or so to finish the whole thing for a total of:

2000m of sprints (6000m in my case)
210* push-ups
210* sit-ups

Intense.

*Math Nerd Alert: It is exciting that my knowledge of the ‘sum of consecutive integers’ formula finally could be put to use in the real world.

24 Apr

Sled Push Substitutes

Friday was a cardio day for me but I wasn’t in the mood for a run or a spinning class or a forgettable elliptical experience, so I tried busting out some crazy conditioning moves instead.

In addition to jumps and hops and swings and some other heart-pumping moves that have escaped my memory I did these two amazing exercises: Plate Pushes and Treadmill Sled Push which are both good sled push substitutes if you don’t have a sled or prowler.

They were both exhausting and they brutalized my quadriceps. So, naturally I can’t wait to do them again.

 


(source)

Treadmill Sled Push

I did this exercise in Tabata intervals— 20 sec work + 10 sec recovery –for 16 intervals and resting for a full minute after 8 intervals (so a total of 9 minutes: 4 minutes Tabata, 1 minute rest, 4 minutes Tabata)

I was exhausted and thought my quads were going to fall off. If you drive more with your heels you can work you hamstrings, but I found this to be really awkward.

How to do it:

– With the treadmill OFF, hold the dashboard or front handles and keep your spine neutral

– Use your legs to drive the belt of the treadmill and work up the speed as fast as you can manage.

– Push for 20 seconds then rest 10 seconds. Repeat 7-15 times.

(source)

 

Plate Pushes

I got a lot of “‘the fuck she doing?” looks for being on all fours and pushing a weight across the gym floor.

I used a 45lber and pushed about 20metres. On every set I was forcing myself not to fall to my knees in exhaustion for the last few metres.

How to do ’em:

– Lay a towel or frictionless mat on the ground and place a weight plate flat on top. Use anything from 25lb to 45lbs. (I tried stacking a couple of plates, but I found that they moved around too much when I pushed so I just used one.)

– Position yourself behind the plate in a low sprinter’s start position

– Place your hands on the plate and push, driving the motion with your legs and trying to keep your butt from sticking up in the air. You want to keep it as parallel to the ground as you can.

– Push as fast as you can for about 20-30 metres then rest 15-30 seconds and repeat 4 or 5 times.

 

25 Feb

Kettlebell Swings

My sister sent Matt and me home from Illinois with a 16kg kettlebell that she’s had lying around in their apartment for a while now. It was on my Christmas wish list and Matt’s too.

Don’t be fooled– a 16kg kettlebell is heavy. I was just barely able to squeak out a solitary Turkish get-up in poor form. I definitely can’t bicep curl it. I can, however, swing it with relative ease.

The kettlebell had been in the back seat of my car, but the thumping it made when it rolled around made me think I hit a pedestrian, so I moved it in the house and got it as far as the front door where it’s been for the last few days.

The other day when I came in the house I did 12 kettlebell swings and decided to make it a thing for Lent– do 12 kettlebell swings whenever I get home.

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width, each foot pointed outward.
Keep your shoulders pulled back and down to avoid rounding your back.
Squat down and swing the kettlebell back between your legs. 

Thrust your hips forward, straighten your legs, and swing the kettlebell up overhead, keeping your arms straight. (I couldn’t get a picture right at the very top of the swing, so this is my progression up to the top)

24 Oct

High Rep Routine Recap

I just finished 4 weeks of the High Repetition/Low Weight routine that I set out for myself in September.

My plan was to switch up more normal heavy lifting/low weight routines with something a bit different. I liked the routine because even though I lowered my weights to I could hit 10 to 12 reps I was still pushing myself hard. Plus, doing 3 sets instead of 4 and doing some supersets makes the workout go by so much faster.

I made sure to track my progress for the last 4 weeks (I was a little lax about doing this in the summer) and found that I improved on most things. Sadly though my squats stayed pretty much the same.

High Rep Weight Training Routine

Click the image for full size:

High Rep Workout Results

You can get a printable pdf version of this workout here


Boxing-Gloves_thumb_Cartoonizer_2

Medicine Ball Launch

In today’s kickboxing class, after being exhausted from ten 3 minute rounds on the punching bag we grabbed a partner and did this awesome exercise.

Grab a 15lb medicine ball and stand about 8 feet from your partner.

Stand with your left foot slightly forward and you right foot back.

Hold the ball to shoulder height with your left hand

Using the palm of your right hand, thrust the ball the forward at your partner twisting your right hip forward as you do so, as if you were throwing a punch. Try to keep the ball travelling in a straight horizontal line as much as possible, not a parabolic trajectory.

You partner will catch the ball and thrust it back to you.

Repeat for 2 minutes before swtiching to the left hand.

26 Sep

High Rep Routine

I’ve started on a new weight training routine that is mostly based on lower resistance and higher repetitions (~10-12).

My goal here is just to change things up a bit since I’m addicted to my heavy lift routines. But I want to make sure that I’m lifting as heavy as possible for all 10 to 12 repetitions. No cheating.

I’m going to give it a go for at least 4 weeks (I already started the upper and full body exercises last week) and I’m going to track my progress. I’m usually pretty good about writing down my lifts, but these last 3 weeks or so I have just been winging it in the weight room.

I think this workout, which is a little more endurance-based, is a good complement to my kickboxing and “marathon training” (you know, for that Disney marathon that I still have yet to sign up for).

Weight Training Routine

– 3 Day Split: Lower Body, Upper Body, Full Body
– Method: 3 sets of 10-12 reps, unless otherwise indicated

Day 1 – Lower Body

Squat Jumps – 2 sets of 15
Back Squats – 5 sets of 5 (okay, I’m sticking with building my squat strength here)
Cleans
Plie Squats
Leg Press
Lying Leg Curl
Leg Extensions
Standing Calf Raises
Clam Crunches

Day 2 – Upper Body

Push Ups – 2 sets of 16
Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Dumbbell Bench Press
Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
Cable Low Rows
Back Extensions on the ball
Bicycle Crunches

Day 3 – Full Body

One Legged Bridge -  2 sets of 15
Push Press
Deadlifts
Bent-Over Barbell Rows
Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
Good Mornings
Dumbbell Rear Lunges

Running

In running news, I killed an 8.2 miler on Sunday afternoon.

The first mile started off slow and crampy but after that I ended up with a lot of energy throughout the whole run. I had a solid pace going, I maintained it, and I took very few walking breaks.

I think one thing that helped was swinging back around to my house at mile 5 to get a drink of water before heading out for the last 3 miles. I often forget how much being hydrated helps to get me through a run.

I also attribute it to the sugar cookies I ate pre-run.

DSCF7326

Just over a 9:30 pace. Which, for me, is pretty decent.

Bagigis helped me fold laundry today:

Bagigis

Good dog.

02 Sep

Heavy Weight Leg Workout

Sometimes muscle soreness after a hard workout keeps me awake at night.

(source)

Such was the case last night when I was tossing and turning for a few hours. Every single muscle I had felt tight and my forearm pain from my tennis elbow was flaring up. I was a hot mess and I couldn’t get comfortable.

It really doesn’t feel like I worked out all that much this week, but everything I did was new and my body was taking a beating. I did kickboxing twice, I weightlifted twice (one upper body day, one lower body day), I ran 5K with vibrams, and I did a yoga class.

-The kickboxing and upper body weight training made my lats and shoulders sore.
-My legs were numb from yesterday’s leg workout.
-My calves were still sore from Sunday’s barefoot run.
-And in spite of a slow flow yoga practice last night to try to bring some relief, I felt stiff all over.

I had every intention of running 5K this morning before work even though I hardly workout in the morning these days. I woke up just before 7am this morning ready to push myself out the door.

But instead, I went back to sleep and didn’t feel remotely guilty about it. I was in dire need of a rest day today, and I took it.

Here’s the leg workout that made me so sore:

Heavy Weight Lower Body Workout

Box Squats* (part of my Squat Improvement Strategy): 140lb; 4 sets x 5 reps
One-Legged Deadlifts: 75lbs; 4 sets x 8 reps per leg
Walking Dumbbell Lunges: 30lbs; 3 sets x 8 steps per leg
One-Legged Hack Squat: no weight; 4 sets x 6 reps per leg – this exercise is WAY harder than it sounds
Donkey Calf Raises: 200lbs; 3 sets x 8 reps
Rotating Plank to Side Plank: 2 minutes
Oblique Twists: 3 sets x 25 reps


*I decreased my load by 5lbs on the barbell this time because I felt that my form was suffering at 145lbs.

I was surprised that I was able to increase by 2 whole reps with such a little drop in weight. Since I got up to 5 reps, I’m going to go back to 145lb box squats next week.

29 Aug

Kickboxing Class Recap

So I decided to sign up for the kickboxing classes for 3 months. After trying out two classes and getting some positive feedback from the instructors and other students I figure this is something that I will really enjoy and maybe even be good at.

The classes are pretty demanding and I do like a good challenge. Plus it’s something that will keep me occupied during football season while Matt is busy coaching.

I’ll try to recap most of the classes so that you can get an idea of what goes down in a kickboxing gym.

Move of the Day:

Sprawl: When the instructor calls sprawl, you get down to the ground then jump up again. It’s a bit like doing a burpee without the push-ups

… funny story about the sprawl. When we were working with the punching bags I jabbed the bag twice, hard and then the instructor called “SPRAWL!”. When I got down to the ground, the punching bag swung back and hit me square in the head, knocking me down. Talk about embarrassing moments!

The Workout:

Warm-Up:

– Jogging
– Shuffling
– Skipping

Cardio:

– 10 High Knee Jumps + Sprint to other end of the mats (x9)
– 8 frog jumps across the mats (x5)

Kickboxing Exercises:

punching bag: 1 min intervals of performing the punches/kicks called out by the instructor

alternating roundhouse kicks: 2 min intervals of roundhouse kicks- kick pads held by your partner

high and low roundhouse kicks: 2 min intervals of high roundhouse kicks and low roundhouse kicks – kick pads held by your partner

knee/kick combo: 2 min intervals of knee and roundhouse kick (with the same leg) – kick pads held by your partner

Cool-Down:

– Chin-Ups- pyramid reps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
– Pull-Ups- pyramid reps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1


Squat Improvement Strategy

In other fitness updates with my squat improvement strategy I am up to 145lbs for 5 sets of 3 reps.

I’m going to need to stay at this weight for a while until I can get up to 5 reps with good form. By the 3rd rep I find myself looking sloppy and my core isn’t engaged enough to keep myself in safe squatting form.

09 Aug

Upper Body Burn Workout

I had planned to go for a run outside today seeing as the weather was gorgeous all afternoon (not the infernal sweat lodge it’s been like around these parts lately). But almost as soon as I got home from work I heard the loud clapping of thunder and new that a run wasn’t in the cards.

I could have gone to the gym but I find it tough to leave the house so soon after coming home so I stayed in instead and decided to do some at-home strength training.

I’ve been focussing on major muscle groups doing 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight and gradually increasing my weight load each week to build up my strength. I’ve also been interspersing this with some circuit training. Since I was working out at home today, I went with a circuit routine for upper body that uses only body weight.

This workout was one I guest posted on Trading Up Downtown and it is unbelievably intense. I had to modify almost all of the exercises to make them easier as I got closer to the 30 second mark.

My tip: Modify the exercises if you need to (and you probably will!) but don’t stop. Keep going. You can do anything for 30 seconds!

Upper Body Burn Workout

Workout breakdown: 35 min, 5-exercise circuit, 5 rounds

Method: Perform as many reps of each exercise as possible for 30 seconds then rest 30 seconds. Rest 2 minutes after the circuit is complete. Repeat the entire circuit 4 more times for a total of 5 rounds.

1) Burpees

A. burpee  B.burpee2

D. burpee3

A. Start in a deep squat. Place your hands on the floor in front of you.
B. Jump both feet back at the same time so you are in an upper push-up position
C. Immediately jump back into the squat position
D. From the squat, jump vertically as high as possible then return to position A.
Repeat for 30 seconds.

Modification: Walk your feet rather than jumping them from one position to the next

2) Hindu Pushups

A. hindu push ups 1 B.hindu push ups 2

C. hindu push ups 3

A. Begin in downward dog position.
B. Flare your elbows outward and lower your nose toward the ground, arching your back slightly as if you are trying to slide under an imaginary bar.
C. Keep your hips close to the ground and push your elbows straight so your upper body is in an upward dog position.
D. Press your hips back into position A.
Repeat for 30 seconds

Modification: From position A. place your knees on the ground and complete the move on your knees instead of toes.

3) Plyometric Push Ups

A. plyo push ups 1 C. plyo push ups 2

A. Begin in upper push up position (on knees or toes).
B. Bend your elbows and lower your body to the ground as in a standard push up.
C. Push up using enough explosive force so that your hands leave the ground. (Warning: This force will be so explosive it will be impossible to capture it in a photograph)
D. When your hands touch down again, repeat.
Repeat for 30 seconds

Modification: Complete the push-ups while on your knees.
Even Simpler Modification: Complete the push-ups while on your knees in table position
(the closer your knees are to your chest the easier it is. Think torque!)

4) Push Ups with Tuck

A. Push Ups w Tuck 1 C.Push Ups w Tuck 2

A. Begin in upper push up position on your toes.
B. Perform a standard push up, return to position A.
C. With both feet together, jump both feet toward your hands
D. Jump your feet back into position A.
Repeat for 30 seconds

Modification: Complete the push-ups on your knees and get into plank position before jumping your feet toward your hands.

5) Tricep Dips

B. tricep dips 1

A. Place your hands shoulder width apart on a chair with your feet out as far out in front of you as possible.
B. Slowly lower your upper body down towards the floor, keeping your elbows tucked into your sides and your back as close to the chair as possible.
C. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, slowly push yourself back up to position A.
Repeat for 30 seconds.

Modification: Bend your knees and move your feet closer to you. The closer your feet are to your body the easier this is to do.