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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interval Training

Have you been a cardio junkie for as long as you can remember? Do believe that doing cardio 5-6x/week will give you the strongest, healthiest body you have always wanted? Do you avoid lifting weights at all cost for fear that you will “bulk up?”

If you have answered yes to all these questions, you are not alone. Most women who workout regularly believe that the only way to get fit and strong is to do cardiovascular exercise (cardio) as long and hard as they can. It’s true that cardio is the way to go to burn calories and get fit, but at what expense? To me, doing cardio alone without free weights is painstakingly boring and inefficient. I have been working out my whole adult life and have rarely done cardio 5-6x/week exclusively. Now don’t get me wrong if you have weight to lose you definitely want to be doing your cardio about 4-5x/week, but make sure that if you are doing it, you are giving it your all. Often I see women at the gym reading books/magazines, giving minimal effort and wondering why they aren't losing weight fast enough. Come on Ladies, save the reading for later and kick it up a notch. Do you know how long it is going to take you if you do not incorporate all the important pieces of the weight loss puzzle; Cardio, strength training and a clean eating regime. Leaving out one piece of the equation will leave you frustrated and discouraged and could prevent you from losing the weight.

There are many benefits to including strength training in your workouts:

 Decreases boredom
 Prevents over training the same muscle groups when doing cardio day after day
 Improves both endurance and strength of the heart and musculoskeletal system
 Increases your basal metabolic rate, helping you burn more calories after your done with your workout
 Decreases your resting blood pressure
 Improves your immune system
 Improves your energy levels
 Lowers your resting heart rate, making for a healthier heart
 Improves your balance and coordination
 Improves your posture
 Decreases your risk for developing week bones
 Promotes strength, not size- women have 15-20x less the amount of testosterone and far less muscle than men, so its almost impossible to get as big as men, unless you chemically induce yourself. You must shrink the fat cells in order to see the muscle

As you can see there are many reasons to incorporate a strength portion in your workouts. Without it, your fitness, health and weight loss goals will take you much longer than you expected.

So you may be asking, well how do I incorporate both cardio and strength training in if I only have an hour? The best way that I can think of is through an interval training program. Before you begin with any program, be sure to check with your Dr. to ensure you are ready for the challenge. You can also meet with a certified personal trainer to get tips and pointers to help guide you along.

Interval training can take place anywhere. When I was getting back in shape after having a baby three months ago, I did the workouts out of my home. Once I went back to the gym I had more equipment needed to kick it up a notch, but don’t worry it can happen any where with minimal equipment. Of course if you belong to a gym and there is a class that includes both strength and cardio, definitely take it!! Here is a sample of my home and gym workouts.

Home- performed 2-3x/week
4 groups of three exercises performed 2-3x each for 12-15 repetitions

Group 1
Jumping Jacks
Single Arm Row

Group 2
Baby toy hop over
Floor Bridge

Group 3
Ball taps
Lateral Raise
Speed Bikes

Group 4
High Knees
Bicep Curls
Tricep Kick Backs

Gym workout- performed 2-3x/week
5 groups of three exercises performed 2-3x each for 12-15 repetitions

Group 1
Step mill- 3 minutes alt. b/w level 6 and 13
Lat Pull Down
In and Outs

Group 2
Jump Rope
Bench Chest Press

Group 3
Running- 3 minutes alt. b/w 5.5 and 7.5 speed
90’ Lateral Raise in a lunge
MT Climbers

Group 4
Jumping Jacks
Cable Upright Row
Leg Lifts

Group 5
Running- 3 minutes alt. b/w 5.5 and 7.5 speed
Overhead tricep extension
Ball Crunches