Monthly Archives: August 2012

The fitness shortcut

I usually keep my blog posts pretty upbeat (albeit sprinkled with sarcasm) but today I feel the need to vent. This is directed at mainstream media for perpetuating the idea that sustainable weight loss can happen overnight and that SKINNY = healthy. Particularly now, with the end of the Olympics and everyone suddenly convinced they can be Greek gods in 2 weeks, I feel this is a great time to be blunt. So read on & consider this some “realistic motivation”.

First & foremost, shout out to Erika for posting this on facebook a few days ago – this is an article on “extreme conditioning” (like INSANITY, P90x, etc.) – it warrants a read for anyone looking to break into these types of programs, and provides a word of caution for the TOO MUCH TOO FAST mentality.

Along the same lines, people constantly ask me for advice on training or nutrition, and for good reason. Normally, if someone approaches me with a question, I’ll dedicate the time and effort to help them make sense of some of the really confusing concepts out there. I get that the fitness industry has become so muddled lately with the arrival of various forms of Crossfit, the ‘GET THIN QUICK’ schemes, and the Tracy Anderson’s of the world preaching their “women shouldn’t lift weights greater than 3lb” shenanigans. It is constantly evolving, sometimes for the good, mostly for the not-so-good, and it can be a very hard and daunting task to embark on a fitness/weight loss journey for the first time (or any time). What I don’t understand, however, is the reaction I get when people come to me for advice and leave utterly disappointed with what I have to say.

Fact

I get it. You think fitness professionals with our various certifications and degrees in college make us some kind of guru with a magic spell that can provide results. Trust me, if I had the secret to easy, fast and cheap weight loss, I wouldn’t be living in my aunt’s basement and applying for jobs every minute of every day. But whenever I’m asked “Hey, how can I lose some extra pounds?” or “Hey, what’s a super food I should eat every day that will make me leaner?” or “What’s the ONE exercise I should be doing to tone up (insert problem area here)?” everyone looks absolutely flabbergasted and downright disgusted when I tell them the truth. You want to lose some weight? You have to work at it hard and consistently. You want a “super” food? There is no such thing. Too much of a good thing is a tragedy. You want ONE exercise? Why limit yourself?

*End conversation & Insert awkward “this girl doesn’t know what she’s talking about face”*

For those of us that really make it a habit and a priority, and our results are obvious, don’t be shocked when I tell you the truth. Why am I stronger than I look? Because I lift heavy weights. Why am I able to sprint on a surgically repaired knee? Because I rehabbed hard and I sprint consistently. Why am I not overweight anymore? Because I stop eating when I’m full. There isn’t anything ground breaking here. There also isn’t anything glamorous. I have tough work outs when no one is looking. I spend more time doubled over trying to breathe than reading magazines at the gym. I try my best. People don’t see that part though. They only know I studied strength & conditioning and therefore probably achieved my goals by default. Let me tell you – it’d be pretty awesome if I got fit just by studying. But there’s a practical application side that needs to be recognized here.

Honestly – we all start somewhere. We all fail and start OVER somewhere. Myself included. Everyone always thinks “yeah, but this is your life’s ambition and you know what you’re doing so how hard can it really be for you?” and “YOU MUST HAVE A SECRET!!!”. Just because I know HOW to program doesn’t mean I always WANT to follow my own ambitious guidelines. Granted, I try to be a living example of what I constantly preach – but I could easily expend my energy searching for an ‘easy out’.  I’ve just decided that it’s not my style – and it shouldn’t be yours either. I have had MULTIPLE set backs where I gained weight and had injuries. I’ve had days where my workouts thoroughly kick my butt, and I have days where I don’t feel like getting off the couch so I don’t. I even have days where I eat McDonalds TWICE in one day. My weight randomly fluctuates because I’m a female and that’s just how we roll. So really, I’m no different from anyone else trying to achieve consistency in their health. But mentally, I know it takes much more than mediocrity.

So, sorry to disappoint you, but if you want to results, you have to be willing to take the time to earn them. I am almost insulted by people that think they can take a shortcut to look like an Olympic athlete. Does that really make any sense? You know how hard they train and the type of motivation they have. If you were so genetically gifted and could look like them in half the time, don’t you think you’d be a medalist by now?

So the moral of the story: it took more than a day to put it on, it is going to take more than a day to come off. Simple as that.

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Track workout

My favorite week of the Olympics is almost over, so in its honor, I am providing a track workout.

This may come as a shock, but I run a lot. Not the traditional running (I have a horrible knee & and some ADD that only kicks in when workouts last longer than 60 minutes), but conditioning is still a major priority for me no matter what my other goals are. Most people like the simplicity of running – there isn’t someone over their shoulder judging their form, they can enjoy beautiful weather, and they don’t need kettlebells/sleds/ropes or other awesome metabolic conditioning tools. All it takes is some motivation, some sneakers, an ipod, and the open road. I think that’s awesome and I will never knock someone for trying (I’ll just beg that they lift weights once in awhile and show them a lot of pictures of sprinters….ahem…)

Gold medal winner Allyson Felix

 

BUT for those that want a change of pace, or are looking to improve body composition/increase endurance, this type of workout is for you. The best part about it: you can tailor it to your level & modify it any way you’d like. For athletes looking to maintain sports shape during an off-season period, this is also a great option because you can stay game-ready while still giving your body a break from your sport. In my opinion, this is a moderate workout for field sports like soccer and lacrosse, and great base conditioning for court sports like basketball.

Before beginning, you may want to have an idea of your 1/2 mile time, and your fastest 400m (1 lap) time. This will help to gauge the intensity for repeat runs. For perspective, elite Olympic sprinters will finish a lap in < 50 seconds. Most of us will be in the 1:30-3:00 range. So, for example, if you’re at the 1:30 mark for your best lap, you’re going to want to start this workout at a slower pace (~2 minute laps).

The workout:

Dynamics – pick any 3 mobility drills (inchworms, spidermans, hip flexor mobs, glute mobs, etc) and perform a circuit 2x

Line drills – A march, B march, A skips, B skips, Lateral shuffles, Frankensteins, Hurdlers, backpedal, butt kicks, high knees, easy sprint starts

Optional: Here is where you can include things like burpees, squat jumps, bounds, plyos or shuttle runs if necessary for your training. If you’re experienced with sprinting, you can do some short speed work here. 5x50m with walk back, for example.

Conditioning: 400m at designated pace for the day with same recovery. (1:1) so if you’re trying for 2 minute pace, then you get 2 minute rest. — Be cautious because 2 minutes might feel easy and you might hit the finish faster than expected. Really try to stride and pace yourself because you’re repeating the interval 5-7 times.

Ways to progress/modify: I do this workout 2x a week to start, keeping it constant (possibly adding a lap or 2 until I hit 7). Then I start changing up the interval times (faster pace (1:45) with same 2 minute rest, then faster pace (1:45) with same rest (1:45), etc until I get back to my fastest pace for repeats. Then I retest my fastest pace and see where I’m at.

I’m a fan of treating my running the way I treat reps in the weight room – I like counting them instead of just steadily staring at the clock. This approach works for me because I can periodize and see my progress, but it might take some getting used to for others. Either way, it is a great change of pace (literally ;), so give this a try and let me know your thoughts.