3 Tips to Help You Squeeze in a Workout

11 Apr

Posted by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Senior Director, Worldwide Fitness Education 0 Comment


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You can always find the time to do what’s
good for you.

Here’s how to stop using excuses and finally squeeze in a workout.

When it comes to finding motivation to get up off the couch and improve your fitness level, sometimes it takes more than willpower alone to make it happen.

‘I’m too busy and I can’t find the time.’

This is the number one excuse I hear for not exercising. You may find it hard to believe, but this was also my go-to excuse after having triplets. It was an excuse that really worked, because who would ever disagree? My four young kids sure do take up a lot of time.

And this ‘I’m too busy’ excuse sounds so much better and less embarrassing than the truth: ‘I’m just too tired and I don’t have the motivation.’

The reality is that we can all make time to add activity into our life. All we need to do is realize that excuses will only hurt us in the long term. Sometimes it takes a health scare or an embarrassing moment to force us to address the issue. But why wait for that to happen before improving your life?

My changing moment occurred when I was asked to leave a steam room at the spa after being lectured in front of a crowd on how heat could harm my unborn child. Sounds awful, right? The real problem was that I wasn’t even pregnant—my babies were five months old already. Talk about a cringe worthy moment! This was all the motivation I needed to get my body and fitness back on track.

Three Ways to Squeeze in a Workout into Your Day

1. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier.

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it definitely takes motivation not to hit the snooze button and lie back down.

    • My next piece of advice may seem crazy but it worked for me. For the first few weeks wear a loose fitting workout kit to bed or place your workout outfit with your tennis shoes right next to your bed. When the alarm starts buzzing, put on your socks and shoes and get to it.
    • Working out at home or close to home is the best way to start out, because it removes any excuses about joining a gym or having to travel anywhere. Sure, jogging along a beach at dawn may sound nice, but in reality, you probably need to get your workout done and dusted as quickly as possible.
    • As your body gets used to the time adjustment, add an extra 10 minutes so that you can actually comb your hair and brush your teeth before you go.
2. Pack your workout clothes and take them to work.

If you’re not a morning person, then it’s time for Plan B: the lunchtime power-walk. Schedule it in like you would a dentist or your hair salon appointment. It’s funny that we wouldn’t dream of not getting our hair cut, but taking care of our health often gets overlooked or sidelined.

    • Asking a co-worker to join you will give you the extra motivation not to skip a session.
3. Split your workout into smaller segments.

If finding a full 30 minutes is too difficult, then try to do three or more mini workouts. It’s fine to accumulate your workout throughout your day.

    • This tip works especially well for stay-at-home-moms with young children, because minding a child for 10 minutes while you jump around and squeeze in a workout is a realistic goal.
    • If you work in an office and sit down all day, try taking a brief 10 minutes to stretch out or walk around the office. It may improve your energy level and boost your concentration.

Making an activity part of your lifestyle instead of a chore makes results easier to achieve.

Once I decided to ditch my excuses and made time in my day to exercise, I was able to quickly progress to a regular spinning class, and being active became something I just did rather than something I had to think about. People even started complementing me on all the extra energy I seemed to have.

So, no excuses––everybody can find time to exercise.

Running 101: 9 Tips to Get Started

09 Apr

Posted by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Senior Director, Worldwide Fitness Education 0 Comment


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Running provides a great cardio workout.

Cardio exercise is important, so let’s talk about one of the easiest ways to add an effective cardio workout to your fitness routine—running.

It’s no good just knowing about the benefits of working out and not putting that theory into practice. Today, I’m going to try and convince you to take up running.

I’m a big fan of running and I’m naturally a sprint specialist—that’s a discipline that is all about explosive power over a short distance. Endurance running is a completely different exercise. Okay, so it still uses your legs, but I think running is something that anyone can get into with relatively little equipment. It’s also easy to start out walking and gradually ramp up—making sure you always go at your own pace.

Whether you’re training for a marathon or just want to add some cardio exercise to your fitness routine, here are some simple tips to help you reach your running goals.

Running equipment

The great news is that you don’t need to purchase a lot of equipment to run, although there are a few essential items that will make your journey more enjoyable.

  • A pair of running shoes that fit well
  • Distance running socks
  • Comfortable clothing

Listen to your body

If you don’t feel ready to run, simply walk instead. Once walking for a set time becomes easy, try to alternate between jogging and walking. Your aim should be to find a comfortable, sustainable pace that feels good. Remember to stop if you experience pain. Always perform a warm-up and cool-down to ensure your body is prepared for exercise.

Train to time not distance

During the first few weeks of running, focus on the amount of time you are running (walking or jogging), instead of thinking about distance. Set a goal of 20-30 minutes and, once you can successfully run for the entire duration, increase your time. Looking at miles in the first few weeks can be mentally discouraging. Once you can successfully complete 45 minutes at your desired pace, map out the miles and steadily increase the distance you cover.

Understand your phases

Don’t just hit the pavement and start racking up miles. Instead, know that you need to form an aerobic base level by training at about a level five or six intensity out of the maximum intensity of level 10. This is because ‘steady state training’ effectively teaches your body to burn fat as fuel. This will be important as you start to increase your distance. You can work on your speed later in your training.

Cross training

In order to become an efficient runner you must run. However, adding cross training such as biking, swimming or weight training to your weekly routine will help you to get fit and avoid getting bored.

Take technique one day at a time

Pick one technique to work on each time you go out for a run. There are several things you can work on, such as:

  • Foot placement – ensuring you are striking the ground between the mid and forefoot
  • Arm movement – ensuring you are staying relaxed as you pump your arms back and forth
  • Posture – ensuring you keep a strong core

If you break down your technique one day at a time, you will not be overwhelmed. And after a few weeks, you’ll have improved your running style.

Mix in some hills

Add some hill running or varied terrain into your program. Running up hill is a great way to build strength, as it’s considered the weight lifting of running. Your posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes and calves, have to work harder when you are running up hill.

Rest!

You must schedule rest days into your program to allow your muscles to adapt to the increased workload and efficiently repair themselves. One to two rest days per week are essential for great performance.

Burn Fat Faster: 5 Efficient Ways

17 Sep
 Posted by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA  4 Comments

 

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Our bodies tend to naturally burn fat as a fuel source, but have you ever wondered if you can train your body to burn fat more efficiently? Today, I’m going to give you a few tips on how you can better train your body to burn fat!

Today, I want to share some great ways you can help your body become a better fat burning machine! So often in our busy lives, we want to hear about the quick fixes or shortcuts to achieving our health and fitness goals. But sometimes, taking a little extra time and planning your fitness routine in advance can get you better results and help you burn fat faster.

RELATED ARTICLE: Body Fat and Heart Health: A Reflection of Your Lifestyle

As a speed-based athlete, I was never a fan of any type of endurance style training. The idea of walking or running for more than 60 minutes sounded like torture. After having my children, however, I realized that the occasional extended workout had great benefits. It was not only great for my waistline, it was also great for my mind, too. Now I can honestly say that I look forward to my longer training days. I have my music playlist ready and I truly enjoy my alone time running on the long trails. My cardiovascular fitness level has dramatically improved since I’ve started my endurance training and I feel the benefits in my shorter sessions, too.

There are so many ways that you can burn fat, lose weight and tone up. It just takes the willingness to break out of your comfort zone and add a few of my tips into your week!

Make Time for Endurance Training

Try to make time for long cardio workout sessions at least once a week. Running, walking or cycling at a comfortable pace for an extended period of time is a great way to ensure that your body is burning fat. Your body uses fat as its fuel source for the majority of your long workouts. Once you start pushing yourself and increase your intensity level, your body will tend to burn stored carbohydrate for energy. Try to stay at about a 6/10 intensity level. I believe that spending 60-90 minutes focusing on yourself each week is also healthy for your emotional well-being.

Do Some Interval Training

I am a huge fan of interval training because of the post-workout fat burning effects. During a high-intensity interval workout, your body is using carbohydrate as a fuel source, but the recovery process will burn fat. Interval style training takes less time than steady state training and you can get incredible fat burning results from doing just a 30-minute workout. Try to train in this style two days per week.

Strength Training

Building lean muscle mass will help you burn more calories even while resting. It takes more calories for your body to sustain lean muscle mass than it does to sustain fat, which means building muscle makes you a better fat burner long term. A strength-based workout also pushes your body to recover; therefore you get double the benefits, and will burn fat long after you leave the gym!

Replenish Well

The fuel that you choose has a direct effect on the results you will get from your body. Focus on ensuring you have a good balance of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein every day. Pay special attention to consuming protein within 30 minutes of your workout, especially on your long workout day. Also, be sure that you have a small amount of carbohydrate after your workout to help restore your body’s muscle glycogen.

Get Some Rest

During rest, your body adapts to the demands that you place on it. If you’re working hard five days a week, using two days to allow your body to recover and regenerate is a good idea.

There are so many ways that you can push your body to adapt and improve. I feel that being balanced with your exercise routine and your personal nutrition is the perfect plan to become a more efficient calorie and fat burner long term. Consistency is one of the keys to success, so dedicate five days of the week to being active and exercising. If five days a week isn’t possible because you have a busy schedule or you’re new to fitness, remember my favorite saying: “Doing something will always get you better results than doing nothing at all!”

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.

10 minute workout – cardio body fix

16 Jun
 Posted by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA  4 Comments

 

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10 minute workout, cardio :: Samantha Clayton, Discover Good Fitness

I am always talking about squeezing in a quick workout because it’s amazing how effective a short bout of strength or cardiovascular exercise can be.

My top three reasons for making time for a 10 minute workout:

1.  When I feel stressed, a 10 minute workout gives me an instant boost of energy and helps me refocus.

2.  Like everyone, I’m often rushing and I find a 10 minute workout is enough exercise to help me not feel guilty about missing my regular routine.

3.  10 minute workouts can deliver surprisingly effective results, quickly.

It’s always better to do some exercise instead of no exercise.   When you’re feeling busy and stressed, promise yourself that you’ll manage at least 10 minutes even if you can’t find time for a longer workout session.

A great way to truly benefit from a short session is to focus on one specific area of the body or one element of fitness such as strength, cardio or flexibility.  Today, I’m going to share my favorite 10 minute cardiovascular routine with you. 

 

My pre-cardio 2 minute warm up

Your warm up should always be dynamic: gently loosening off your body and slowly increasing your heart rate.

A 120 second warm up to ease into the core of your workout should be good enough but spend a little extra time on days that you feel especially tight. 

  • Circle your arms while marching on the spot for 30 seconds.
  • March with high knees while swinging your arms for 30 seconds.
  • Do 10 calf raises by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and rising up onto your toes, holding for a second, then lowering back down.
  • Do 10 squats by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed forward.  Sit back as if you are going to sit in a chair, hold for a second, then – leading with your hips – come back to standing.
  • Do 10 shallow lunges. A lunge is simply a step forward and then a step back with one leg. Put your hands on your hips, keep a nice straight back and take an exaggerated step forward, lowering your back knee toward the ground. Hold the lunge for 2 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
  • Jog in place for 30 seconds.

My 8 minute fat-blasting moves 

One of the great things about cardio exercise is that there are so many effective, fun and simple exercises to choose from to give you a good full-body workout.  You can also work to make sure your heart rate is within its optimal fat burning zone during the cardio portion of this 10 minute workout.

Below is a list of eight simple exercises that require no equipment.  Try to repeat each exercise for 30 seconds and then circle through all the exercises again.  I’ve alternated higher and lower impact exercises and you should aim for a work out intensity of around seven or eight out of ten to reap maximum benefits.

Alternatively, if you are new to exercise, try only doing the odd numbered exercises and going at a slightly slower pace.  Don’t ever push yourself so hard that you feel uncomfortable.

1. Modified jumping jacks

Stand with both feet together and let your arms hang at your sides. Step one leg to the side, then return to the starting position. Repeat this movement on the other side. Continue alternating back and forth until you’re comfortable doing the leg movements at a steady, challenging pace. Then add the arm movements: swing your arms overhead when you step to the side, then swing your arms back to your sides when you bring your feet together.

2. Power jumping jacks

Stand with both feet together with your arms at your sides, then jump both feet out to the sides as you bring both arms up overhead to make a star shape.  Land with bent knees in a squat position, hold this position for two seconds, and then jump back to the starting position.

3. Running in place

Run on the spot, bringing your knees up in front of you and pumping your arms back and forth in rhythm with your legs.

4. All out sprint in place

Sprint in place as fast as you can. Keep your leg and arm movements fast and powerful.

5. Squats   

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed forward, then make a sitting back motion – as if you are going to sit in an imaginary chair.  Hold for a second, then leading with your hips, come back to standing. Be sure to keep a flat back, keep your chest high and really focus on sitting back to keep the pressure off your knees.

6. Burpees

A burpee is a powerful combination of a squat, push up and vertical jump.

Squat down on your haunches and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet out behind you to put yourself into a push-up position. In a controlled manner, lower your chest to the ground using your arms. Press back up to complete the push up and then pull your feet back in to return to the squat position. Finish the move by jumping up in the air while clapping overhead.

7. Side step  

This is like a dance step: start with both feet together and your arms loosely by your sides.  Step sideways to the left while leaning forward slightly, reaching your right hand across your body on a diagonal towards your left knee. Then tap your right foot behind your left.  Step back to the central starting position and repeat on the other side.

8. Speed skaters

Use the same movement you perfected during your side step repetitions but, instead of stepping, jump to each side and jump back. You should look like a speed skater alternating your arms and tying to get further sideways with each jump.

***

Don’t forget to repeat all the exercises twice.  Have fun and be creative – once you’ve got the hang of this routine you can swap in extra exercises you love and keep your 10 minute cardio workout fresh.

If you can do three 10 minute blasts throughout your day, you will have achieved the recommended amount of activity each day. The ACSM, American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people try to engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The great news is that studies have shown that accumulating that time throughout the day is as good as doing 30 minutes at a time.

Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife. ASCM is not affiliated with Herbalife or Samantha Clayton and has neither reviewed nor endorsed the content of the blo