Category Archives: Weight Loss

PART 2: Even More Interval Training Ideas

As promised, I have 7 more creative ways for you to incorporate intervals into your workout routine:

(Missed yesterday’s post? Click to read interval workouts 1-3 and to learn what intervals are.)

4. Make it a Pyramid Scheme

Change up your high intensity section by increasing the length and then decreasing, in a pyramid fashion. If your exercise is biking, for instance, pedal as fast as you can for 30 seconds then pedal easy for 1 minute. Keep the easy parts at 1 minute, but make the next speed sections 45, 60, 90, 60, 45, and 30 seconds long.

5. Brick Building

Prevent boredom by mixing up your cardio choices. Pick one that you can do well at high intensity and one that is relaxing for you. This one works great at the gym, moving between machines. Try blasting it quickly on the rowing machine then switching for a slower, longer go on the elliptical.

6. Make Play Time Interval Time

If it’s fun, it’s not work. Run around the playground like a kid, mixing intensity levels. Jump rope, traverse the monkey bars, play hopscotch, and swing.

7. Get Wet

Jump in the pool. Swim as fast as you can to one end of the pool, then walk or jog through the water back. Repeat.

8. One Up, One Down

Pick a high cardio and a low- or non-cardio move that can be counted such as jumping jacks and squats. Start with 10 jacks and 1 squat, then decrease the jacks and increase the squats by 1. Do 9 and 2, 8 and 3, 7 and 4 … and so on.

9. A Better Elliptical Burn

The elliptical is a popular cardio machine choice at most gyms, but it’s not one of the biggest calorie burners. Make it an interval to boost its impact. Go hard for 30-45 seconds; slow down by increasing the resistance or striding backwards for the same amount of time.

10. Resistance is Futile

Play around with the resistance levels on any machine, working against little to no resistance for your intense push and adding resistance for your slower low-intensity part.

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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

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