Category Archives: Beginner Exercise

Repeat After Me: “Make This Your Easy Pace”

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STORYTIME

This morning I was training a client. Her workout was: 90 seconds on the rowing machine, 40 kettlebell swings, rest x 4.

For round #2, I challenged her to row more meters than she had in her first round. She sprinted all out and destroyed her first round distance. But she was huffing and puffing too hard and had to take a break before her second set of kettlebell swings.

Round 3 on the rower I challenged her to “make this your easy pace”. I asked her to match her second round distance but make it feel easy.

She did just that. She hopped off the rower after rowing the same distance as round 2 and went right into kettlebells, no rest needed.

REASONING

As your trainer, if I see you struggling, I could coach you through good form: relax your shoulders, keep your core tight, support your lower back, drive your knees… But by the time I get to the end of all the cues I’d need to start back at the beginning. Instead, if I keep telling you to “make it easy”, you naturally relax, control your breathing and find good form.

When running, you stop fighting to turn your legs over and take more efficient steps. When biking, you begin to make smoother circles, pushing and pulling evenly. And when rowing, this client relaxed, stopped struggling and found a better rhythm by taking the time to fully extend each stroke.

Try it for yourself! Go out and make fast your easy pace!

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Filed under Beginner Exercise, General Fitness, Running

Get Down on Your Knees and Give Me a Real Push Up

You know those “wimpy” “girl push ups” where you’re on your knees instead of your feet? I want you to do them.

I don’t care if you are a man or a woman, nor what your goals are. If your push up is not the prettiest, best push up ever, I want you on your knees giving me full range of motion.

Let’s repeat that: I want full range of motion and I want it slow and controlled.

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Filed under Beginner Exercise, General Fitness

MUST DO EXERCISE: Interval Training

To take you even more in depth with my tips about weight loss, I want to talk to you about intervals. Because if you aren’t doing any intervals, you won’t be losing weight. Even if your goal is not to lose weight but just to get healthy or maintain your fitness level, intervals should still be an important part of your workout routine.

Interval training involves bursts of high-intensity exercise alternated with low activity “rest” periods to get your heart rate up and then let it come back down.

Think about it this way: is it easier for you to start working out or to keep working out once you get going? Or apply that to anything you do in life — knitting, cleaning, writing. Now take it back to intervals: it’s easier for your heart and lungs to maintain than to stop and go. Going back and forth between high intensity and rest strengthens your heart and lungs and increases your metabolism.

Here are 3 ideas for an interval-based workout:

1. Sprints and Hills

Alternate running as fast as you can on flat ground with speed walking or jogging up an incline. If you can find a good place out side to do this, go for it. But this will be easy to accomplish on the treadmill, too. Set a time or a distance for each section. Start by trying a 30/60 split, meaning you would sprint for 30 seconds then hike it up the hill for 60 seconds then repeat. See how long you can do it. If you finish 3 sets your first time out, try getting to 4 next time.

2. Stick to the Hill

No need to get fancy really: if you have a hill, you have an interval. Run up it, walk down it and repeat. You can do the same on any set of steps, from the ones in your house to the bleachers at the track.

3. Cardio and Strength Combo

Alternate any cardio – biking, jogging, jumping jacks, etc. – with any strength move – bicep curls, overhead press, lunges, etc. Go back and forth for a minute each and feel free to switch up the activity. Bike for a minute, squat for a minute; run for a minute, curl for a minute, and on.

NEXT UP: 7 more fat-killing cardio-boosting interval workout ideas!

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Filed under Beginner Exercise, Biking, General Fitness, Running, Weight Loss, Weight Training

5 Ways to Tell Your Body You’re Trying to Lose Weight

Earlier, I answered a question about weight loss woes and mentioned that I had 5 good tips coming for you. Well, here they are!

Here are 5 quick changes that you can make to help your body figure out that you are asking it to drop a few pounds:

  1. Stretch or do yoga. Give your muscles room to rebuild into long, lean muscles instead of bulky ones. Stretching will also aid in recovery, and recovery is absolutely essential.
  2. Since I mentioned it … are you giving yourself recovery time? If you weight train Monday, don’t on Tuesday. If your arms are sore from swimming, take a day or two off of swimming and switch it up with another activity that you enjoy.
  3. Sleep. It sounds silly for a fitness trainer to tell you to sleep, but I’m talking about proper rest and recovery again.
  4. You aren’t eating enough. Now I’m really crazy, right? What am I doing telling you to eat more? But hear me out. When you starve yourself, your body doesn’t know what’s going on. It has no clue when you are going to get more nourishment so it gets ready just in case it has to live off of your body fat for awhile. Starvation mode includes reduced fat burning and increased fat storage. You can see the counter productivity there, right?
  5. And on that note – eat breakfast! Eat breakfast. Eat breakfast. Eat breakfast. Your metabolism doesn’t wake up until you feed it. Think you’ll eat too much? Go back and reread number four.

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Filed under Beginner Exercise, Nutrition

Q and A with Sally Andersen Fitness

QUESTION:

“I’m working out several times a week. I cut back my food intake. But I’m not losing weight. What’s going on?”

ANSWER:

The main element of weight loss is a word that we are all familiar with: calories. It’s a game of balance; you must have more calories burned than calories taken in. The problem is that most of us overestimate how many we burn and underestimate how many we consume. That 8 minute jog? That only burned enough to cover one bite of that candy bar. Did you eat the whole thing? Better run for at least 30 minutes.

The absolute best way to figure out what’s going on with your weight loss is to thoroughly analyze your calories in and out. Keep a log for at least a week, writing down as much as you can about everything you eat and every time you move. Write down how much you eat for each meal, but don’t forget all of those bites that you snuck while preparing dinner or that piece of candy you grabbed at the bank, and please don’t ignore the liquid calories. We lose track of the juice, soda, smoothie and other drink calories. A single beverage could be several hundred calories!

After you have your calories together, it’s time to look over your calories out. During the same week, write down specific details about all of your exercise. If you walk/jog/run, make note of your speed and whether it was flat or hilly, on the treadmill or outside. Same with other forms of cardio. You do not burn the same number of calories in a slow 10 minutes as you do a fast 10. Get as specific as you can. And don’t forget the fun things, too! Did you play Just Dance on the Wii for 20 minutes? That counts! Did you climb 10 flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator? Log it!

There are calorie calculators online that you can use for free to help add up all of your exercising and eating. For the best analysis, talk to a nutritionists and/or fitness professional for help. They will be very proud of you for keeping a log!

Sometimes though, the calories make a deficit (more out than in) and you still don’t feel your body changing. If that’s the case, it’s time to look past quantity and move on to quality. How healthy are the foods that you are eating? Are they providing all of the nutrients that you need? How efficient are the exercises that you are doing? Is your heart pumping?

Take a look at the foods that you ate during the week. Did you eat as many whole foods (unprocessed foods from the Earth such as fruits and vegetables) as you thought you did? Did you eat more processed foods than you thought? Calories are not equal across the board: 100 calories from plant-based foods will be naturally cholesterol free, low in fat or only contain good fats (i.e. avocado), high in fiber to keep you feeling full and regular and have a lot of easily absorbed vitamins. 100 calories delivered to your door? Quite the opposite.

Now look at your fitness. Are you including intervals? If not, that’s your first mistake. Intervals = weightloss. Interval training involves bursts of high-intensity exercise alternated with low activity “rest” periods (but don’t sit down and take a nap!) to get your heart rate up and then let it come back down. Your body has to really work to elevate your heart rate, and it like to get through the tough job by burning fat.

Next improvement area? Your weight training. If you’re asking what I mean by “weight training” … I’ve found your problem! If you lift weights while standing perfectly still, you’re on the right track … but are more likely to become a bodybuilder than a long and lean swimmer. Building muscle is absolutely crucial to losing weight since the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns while resting. The key to using weights for weight loss, however, is once again the magic fat-burning body function: your heart rate. Focus in on moves that both challenge your muscles with weights and get your heart pumping.

NEXT UP: 5 quick changes that you can make to help your body figure out that you are asking it to drop a few pounds.

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Filed under Beginner Exercise, Weight Loss

A Look Back at My Long Distance Running Beginnings

I am never sure what to tell people when they ask how long I have been running. But today I found this old blog post from May 15, 2009 about my first decision to run something more than a 5k:

I have decided that my 5k race was so successful that I am going to start training for a half marathon – that’s 13.1 miles! After reading     an awesome book – The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training by Dawn Dais – I started my training today with a 35 minute run around a local, hilly neighborhood. Tomorrow, I am scheduled for another 35 minutes, and Sunday for a rest day.

From there, I will slowly increase the time that I run four days a week, with two rest days and one day for cross training. Eventually, I will start tracking my runs by number of miles instead of time. Looking ahead and seeing a six mile run in just ten weeks doesn’t intimidate. Instead, I look at it and think: “In ten weeks I’ll be able to run six miles!”

Now, as 6 miles is a run that I could easily do without planning, I am inspired by the 2009 me that only anticipated one day running that distance.

As I love to say: Everyone has to start somewhere!

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Filed under Beginner Exercise, Running

A Look Back at My First 5k

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for me to run 3 races a month. But just a few years ago, on May 10, 2009, I set out to run my first 5k ever. I sat down after my race and blogged about it. Here’s my post-race feeling from my first 5k:

I woke up just past 5 a.m. to meet up with friends and head out to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k run in Philadelphia. It was the first run where I ran the whole thing! With a brief pit stop at the one-mile porta-potties, I still came in just at 30 minutes.

In the past, getting up this early and expending this much energy would have required I nap the rest of the day, but not anymore! After a short recoup on the couch, I headed into town with my roommate. A few errands and some grocery shopping later, we ended up tiring of waiting for the bus and walked the mile and a half home … where we made awesome vegan pizza from scratch!

I followed the same pizza dough recipe for my bread maker that I have used in the past, only with a bit of rye flour, garlic powder, and dried oregano mixed in. I rolled it out as flat as I could, covering a rectangular baking sheet, and topped it with pesto, slices of fresh tomato, and sauteed portabello mushrooms.

Once we devoured the pizza, setting aside a few slices for lunch tomorrow, my roommate served a locally made shoo fly pie – that just happened to be vegan – that she found at a farmers’ market. Being the weekend between our birthdays, we stuck a few candles in it and sang to ourselves before devouring that, too.

With a belly full of delicious veg food and feet that never want to walk again, I am sure to sleep well tonight!

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Filed under Beginner Exercise, Running