November 30, 2014

My Foam Roller is my New Best Friend

Friends, my IT bands both hate me.  So I've been taking it easy with the hard running, and been power walking and trying new-to-me exercises like plyometrics, such as jumping squats, jumping jacks, and high knees. 

And I've been getting real friendly with my foam roller, which has turned out to be one of the best purchases I've ever made.  My IT bands tense up terribly, and very quickly cause my hips, pelvic area, and knees to ache and not have much mobility.  So whenever that happens, I know that I need to get re-aquainted with my foam roller. 

And boy, do I love it!  It "hurts so good", but sometimes it simply hurts.  But it works.  It works amazingly well. 

I just wish I didn't have to use it so often! 

April 1, 2014

Stair-Stepping My Way to Fitness

**NOTE:  I am not receiving ANY money (or anything) for this post.  Nothing.  All opinions are my own honest opinions.

This is the 'Sunny Stair Stepper' I recently purchased online from Amazon, and it's only around $65 with FREE shipping!   (It does have a weight limit of 250 pounds, however, so if you weigh more than 250, you'll probably want to look elsewhere)

I bought this lightweight, minimalist stair-stepper machine a couple of months ago because I desperately wanted a cardio machine that I could do indoors, and one that would be small enough to fit into our small house without taking up too much space.  I saw this online, and it had mixed reviews.  Some reviews said it was cheap and flimsy and quickly broke.  Others gave it 5 stars and reported no problems whatsoever. 

I decided to purchase it because it was a fraction of the price of other stair-steppers currently on the market.  And I'm so glad I did!  This little thing only weighs around 20 pounds so it's easy to move it from room to room, and it's a lot sturdier than I expected.  It has surpassed all my expectations. 

The instruction booklet that came with the machine says to only use it for about 15 minutes at a time, and I'm not sure why they decided upon this number.  Is the machine made to withstand only around 15 minutes of usage at a time?  I don't know; but I do know that I use it in 30 minute increments, sometimes twice a day, and it's held up great for me.  There are pistons below where you place your feet that get very hot with use, but they seem to cool down fairly fast. 

I've had the resistance cranked up almost as high as it will go, and it gives me a fantastic cardio and strength workout.  It simulates hiking uphill, so I really feel it in the backs of my legs; in my calves, my hamstrings, and my glutes.  After 30 minutes of use, I'm so sweaty and worn out that I immediately have to jump in the shower to freshen up. 

I bought this because here in Seattle, even as we come out of winter, it rains A LOT and I just haven't wanted to venture outside and get drenched, so I really wanted something I could use indoors, and this stair-stepper has not disappointed me.  It may wear out or break in the next couple of months, I don't know, but for now it's performing great and I'm very pleased with it.

How about you?  Do you have any fitness products that have revolutionized your fitness routine?

January 22, 2014

Katy Perry's Workout Guru Demonstrates 3 Intense Core Moves

Watch this short video of Katy Perry's workout guru detailing 3 hard-hitting core moves that tone & cinch the waist! He describes the plank, side plank, and a modified "downward-dog" move that looks intense! I already perform the plank and side plank on a regular basis, so now I'm off to give the down-dog move a try! Let me know if y'all try them, and what you think!

January 9, 2014

My New Favorite No Equipment Body-Weight Workout

So this is my NEW favorite workout!  As you can see, it uses only your own body weight, no equipment (except for a chair or bench), and is fairly "easy" to do.  And when I say "easy," what I really should say is simple.  These are not needlessly complex moves where you have to contort your body into impossible positions.  The moves are straightforward and easy to comprehend.  

Basically, you perform the exercises for the number of seconds or reps stated under each exercise, until you've done that entire circuit (grouping of 3 exercises).  Then you rest for about 60 seconds.  Then do the next circuit.  Then rest for 60 seconds.  Then perform the next circuit.  See the pattern here?  You can perform the entire amount of exercises twice or three times through if you want, or only once all the way through if that's all you can do.  

Heck, so what if you can't do all of the exercises or as many reps as it says.  At least you're moving, right?  With continued practice, you'll get stronger and soon you'll be able to perform all of these a couple of times through. 

For the chair step-ups, I use my plain wood kitchen chair and put it up against the wall so it can't slide backward while I'm stepping on it. 

I personally add an additional touch of cardio to this routine:  In between each circuit of three exercises,  I do about a minute of jumping jacks or mountain climbers.  Then I rest for about a minute before continuing with the rest of the exercises. 

The idea with these exercises is to perform them as quickly as good form allows, so that you're body works at near capacity, then you only rest for a short amount of time in between moves, so your heart rate stays elevated (but not through the roof!) for the duration of the session.  The thinking is that you can burn around the same amount of calories doing a harder workout for say, 20 minutes, as you would doing an easier workout for 40 minutes.   

January 4, 2014

Workouts for Small Spaces

My husband & I recently (and FINALLY!) bought a 670 square foot house, and the only room with enough empty floor space to work out is the living room.  So I've been learning how to do exercises in small spaces, and it's been interesting to say the least!

I do jumping jacks and high knees in my kitchen, because doing them in the living room was causing the television to shake, rattle and roll, and I didn't want it to fall over and break from being shaken too much!  So the kitchen is the spot for the exercises involving the more plyometric moves.

The living room is perfect for everything else though.  I've been doing sequences of lunges, pushups, planks, wall sits, and bicycle crunches on the floor in my living room.  Who says you can't get a great workout at home? 

I have 2 pieces of workout equipment that I sometimes use during my workouts.  The first is a 10 pound medicine ball that I hold while doing crunches and squats.  The second item is an elastic tube with handles, and I use that for bicep curls and rowing, to work my back & shoulders.

The picture above is from my fitness Pinterest board here, and it has a great circuit of exercises, a similar sequence to what I've been doing at home.  What this picture doesn't say, however, is that a method for doing this circuit is do each exercise for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds or less, then do the next exercise for 30 seconds.  Repeat this process for the entire circuit, and what this does is keeps your body working at close to its maximum potential, giving you both a strength and cardio workout.

I've been aiming to do this circuit 2x through, three days a week, with other sessions where I'll focus on my abs, legs, or arms/shoulders/back.  Remember, if you're new to exercising or haven't exercised in awhile, start off SLOW.  You will be sore, but you'll get over it, and then you can come back for more.  And if you can't complete the entire circuit even once, don't worry about it at all because you'll improve with practice, and soon you'll be able to cruise through this entire thing! 

This is a tough workout!  Have fun and let me know if you try it!