Tag Archives: fitness

fitness

When is Sore Serious

By Stacy Vanzant

There are a lot of variables on how your body can respond when you push yourself to new fitness limits. Many of you may have experienced discomfort and soreness due to your new 2018 resolutions or fitness goals. Some of these reactions from your body can make you believe that you’ve suffered an injury by pushing yourself to new areas in the gym, but how do you know if your body is actually injured, or just extremely sore?

As fitness professionals, we are always looking for new ways to get our clients or group classes to enjoy new exercises. Sometimes, though, that new exercise can create sore muscles because you’re not used to working a specific muscle or working the muscle for longer periods of time than what you’re accustomed to. Often times, it can create doubt and make you question if the pain or discomfort you’re experiencing is just a sore or tender muscle or an actual injury.

fitnessI recently had a personal training client experience extreme soreness. We had been working together on both strength training and cardio for about seven months. We had incorporated a few new exercises on a different piece of exercise equipment. Her leg soreness was so severe that even lying on her stomach at night was painful. When she returned to work the day after we had our training session several of her co-workers asked if she would go to her next personal training session, or if she was going to quit. Her response was perfect, “I’m just sore! I’m not going to quit! How can I get stronger if I’m not pushing myself?” Not only was I proud of her response, but she was determined to push through the soreness, although it was extremely uncomfortable.

When you exercise a muscle you are creating small (safe) tears in the muscle fiber called Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS). The tenderness and soreness you feel can set in anywhere from 24-72 hours. DOMS can make you feel tight and achy and the area can be tender to touch. Movement can be uncomfortable, but continuing to move and gently stretch your muscles will help reduce soreness.

Discomfort from muscle soreness can increase in intensity by sitting still. The rule of thumb is “the more you move, the more you improve!” Being still because of the discomfort will only make it worse, causing the soreness to last longer. Although it might be uncomfortable for a short period of time, exercising again with some light cardio or easy exercises working the area of discomfort will actually help you feel better faster. If your legs are sore, try a good 30 minute walk to loosen the muscles and reduce the lactic acid build up.

waterbottlesIncreasing your water intake will also improve sore muscles. Giving your muscles plenty of fluids will help them heal faster, hydrate muscle mass, and remove impurities/lactic acid from the body.

On the contrary, if you’ve suffered an injury you will likely feel pain and discomfort immediately or up to 24 hours after the injury occurs. It typically does not improve with time and is painful when using the muscle or area of the body that has been injured. Ice and heat can be common ways to help lessen the pain and discomfort, but with severe injuries you should always see a medical professional if you don’t see improvement within 7-10 days.

Soreness is part of growing in fitness and improving your health. Although it can sometimes be unpleasant, just remember that soreness is a way of your body telling you good job and keep going!

Silhouette young woman, exercise on the beach at sunset.

BYOB: Bring Your Own Workout for Summer Vacations

By Jen Fuller-Allen

J Smith Young Y.M.C.A Programs Director

Vacations are a wonderful opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy a chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Vacations were designed for us to rest, but some worry that all their hard work in the gym will go down the drain after a week or so of vacation. Not to worry. Your body will benefit from a small break and from the variation of your normal routine.

Your first option is truly to rest. Take a few days to let your body recover from exercise, catch up on your sleep and give yourself a chance truly to relax. Resting is just as important as working out because it’s an equal part of the total process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle. Working out breaks down your body tissues. Resistance training breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears. When the muscle heals and rebuilds itself, you grow stronger. Rest days allow your body the time needed to rebuild.

Sleep is also an important part of the process to get stronger. Your body produces more growth hormone during the REM cycle of sleep, which aids your body in repairing and rebuilding muscles post-workout. Sleep is also a very important part of keeping you healthy in general. If you are skimping on your sleep at home, a vacation is a great opportunity to sleep a little later and help your body recover.

If the idea of resting for a week is more than you can handle, here are a few quick and easy ideas to incorporate fitness into your vacation without spending all your time in the gym with your days of rest and relaxation.

  1. Bike around your destination. Bring your own bike or rent one from your vacation destination. Use it to explore your surroundings or to go to and from dinner. For most of us, almost all of our time commuting at home is spent in a car. Try to limit your time in the car on vacation as much as possible and make your travel time active time.
  2. Try something new – you can canoe, kayak or paddleboard at the beach. Try hiking, skiing, or rock climbing in the mountains – no matter where you are, there is sure to be something you haven’t tried before or something you don’t get to do frequently.
  3. Pretend that the elevators don’t work. Use the stairs whenever possible for a little added calorie burn.
  4. If it’s within a mile, walk. Walk to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the shops across the street. Lots of short bursts of activity will add up and you will have the opportunity to see lots of sights you might have missed from the car. If you wear an activity tracker, make it your goal to hit 12,000 steps a day instead of 10,000.
  5. Stretch – use this opportunity to try yoga, Pilates, or just spend time stretching outdoors and enjoy the quiet. You can easily create your own routine, download a free app for a workout that you can follow, or visit a class.
  6. Tabata – this is a quick and easy (and super challenging) workout for anyone. Select an exercise, preferably a bodyweight one, and perform that exercise as many times as possible for 20 seconds. Work as hard as you can in the 20 seconds, bringing your heart rate up as high as possible. Rest for ten seconds and then repeat for 8 total rounds (4 minutes of total time). Use a watch with a timer or a tabata timer app to help you keep track. Your goal is to do 4 rounds of tabata total (16 minutes). A full body tabata workout would include squats, pushups, planks, and burpees. You can substitute any exercise you can think of for those listed — just be ready to repeat it for four minutes. You can break it up with some core work or add in some interval run/walking at the end to make it a little bit longer.
  7. Visit a new gym. If you have a YMCA membership, your membership is good at any YMCA through membership reciprocity, so take a new class or try out another facility. If you aren’t a Y member, ask your hotel if they have any special deals worked out with local gyms that you could visit.
  8. Play a game with your friends and family. Volleyball, tennis, golf – anything that you all enjoy and will get you moving will fit the bill.
  9. Find a hill near you – walk, run, skip, lunge, backpedal (walking or running backwards), and sprint to the top of the hill and jog back down. If you want to make it a little harder, do 10 pushups every time you get to the top of the hill and hold a plank at the bottom of the bill for 30 seconds. Repeat the entire routine for 20 minutes.
  10. Use your body as your resistance for your workout. Bodyweight workouts are wonderful – they easily incorporate your entire body and can get your heart rate up in a hurry. Look for 10 minute body weight workouts on Pinterest – you may be surprised at how difficult they are.

 

If you want a more challenging outdoor workout – try this one.

-          Walk or run to a local park.

-          Wall sit with your back against a wall or phone pole – try to hold it for 1 minute.

-          Run to the monkey bars and either complete 10 pull ups or hang on the bar for 30 seconds at a time (repeat 10 times).

-          Complete a set of 10 tricep dips off a park bench or set of parallel bars.

-          Bear crawl in the grass for 30 seconds. (Bend down and put your hands on the ground. Try to keep your back flat as you crawl forward as fast as you can.)

-          Crab walk for 30 seconds. (Sit on the ground and bridge up with your hips so you look like a table top. Walk forward on your hands and feet as fast as you can.)

-          Hang on the bar again and try to do 10 knee lifts to your chest. If that’s too hard, hold a plank on the ground for 1 minute. Complete both exercises if you want an added challenge.

-          For your finisher, complete 10 burpee/broad jumps (From a standing position, bend down and put your hands on the ground. Now jump your legs out behind you, so that you end up in the top position of a push-up. Perform a push-up and then reverse the motion quickly and come back up. Immediately broad jump as far forward as you can.)

You can repeat the entire circuit or run/walk back to your starting point.

 

Exercise doesn’t have to be confined to four walls of a gym. No matter where you are, there are lots of options to find a way to work a little activity into your day.

 

 

nowlater

Daily Decisions Lead to Lifetime Habits

By Landon Gentle

Wellness Center Coordinator/Specialist

J. Smith Young YMCA

 

Do you remember that age where you thought you knew everything? It wasn’t just false hubris. You were convinced that you had all the answers and nobody  — especially your dear parents  — could tell you otherwise. My father used to tell me that he’d forgotten more than I would ever know. I guess that was his way of feeding me some humble pie, but ignorance is bliss.

Most of us grow out of that stage, but it takes some (me) longer than others. I waited until I went off to college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to study exercise science where I realized I just might not be the smartest person in the room. It wasn’t hard to do since many of those rooms were filled with over 100 students. Some of them seemed to have everything figured out at the ripe old age of 20. They had plans for their future and had thought through the steps it would take to achieve their goals. How I envied them. I could not comprehend the idea of what building a life and career consisted of and how, when I was just living for the weekend, that these kids were mapping out their lives.

That you can party and be productive was a foreign concept to me at the time. I didn’t think they were necessarily more intelligent than I am, but they were more driven. There was zero fear of failure; only their dreams of future success. I look back now at the age of 28 and ponder why I still don’t have everything figured out like all of my former classmates had, or at least thought they had. I take solace in a recent article I read pointing out that most adults do not believe they have achieved stability in life until they are 36 years old because “adulting” is hard, but that fact gave me hope that I might actually have a chance in this world after all.

Sometimes the anxiety of failure can overcome the ambition to succeed, and that is why many of us don’t take chances in life. Maybe we don’t apply for that job because we might actually get called for an interview. It feels much better to play it safe than to have our pride take an uppercut.

Moderation is the key word here. Reading a golf magazine and trying to incorporate the 11 pages of swing tips into your game simultaneously and trying to contort your body in the most unnatural ways because you tried to put the puzzle together all at once doesn’t really work. It is better to add a little here and a little there so that you can put the puzzle together without losing all religion in the process. It is here where I think I may have something to offer as it relates to fitness.

My first piece of advice is that it is not wise to make the decision to quit smoking (if you’re a smoker), eat healthy and start running five miles per day all on January 1st. The first ingredient in achieving a goal is that it needs to be realistic. The prudent play is to set small goals that will eventually lead you to the grand prize, which is to attain overall good health and well-being. These are just the pieces of the puzzle that will not fit together unless they completed in the proper order. Don’t get me wrong,; dreaming big is never a negative, but one must realize that it takes time and dedication along with plenty of perspiration to reach your end goal.

Somewhere in the not so distant past, yours truly was a smoker going through approximately a pack per week. It wasn’t until I was heading home from a beach trip with some close friends that I told myself ‘I’m not buying another pack ever again’ and I haven’t since. I swear! This proclamation was made less difficult due to the fact that I felt lethargic and my lungs were unable to work at their full capacity. Someone with my exercise habits shouldn’t be exhausted one mile into a run on a beautiful late summer day. It wasn’t that my legs were tired; my alveoli which are tiny air sacs in our lungs that absorb oxygen to deliver to our blood were at the point that they were probably delivering more C (carbon), than O2 into my blood stream.

Smoking prevented me from doing the things that I wanted to do. Luckily the other pieces of the puzzle were already in place as I was exercising habitually and my diet was well balanced. Surprisingly, only 15% of Americans are current smokers according to the CDC, and that number is trending downward every year. So I decided to assimilate and become part of the majority. As an alternative, I encourage people to take on the challenge of improving their health in the form of exercise. Exercising is much easier than quitting smoking, so instead of taking on the biggest guy in the crowd (smoking), pick on the smaller one that you know you can handle (exercise).

Here are a few beliefs that I live by:

  • Life is about moderation, not deprivation. It is okay to reward yourself because you deserve to get paid if you put in the hours at work. Your body deserves a cheeseburger if you spent two weeks torturing yourself in the name of good health. Just don’t exercise for an hour then reward yourself with a pizza, because there is a thick line between rewarding yourself and defeating the purpose.
  • Know your limits. What’s the point of running 10 miles if you can’t walk for the next 2 days? There is no scientific evidence that says professional runners live longer. In fact, the opposite is true. Because habitual runners are constantly putting so much stress on their heart, the walls thicken which leads to a much higher risk of heart attack. Even running requires moderation.
  • You are more likely to work out at a gym than at home. Spend $2,000 over the course of 5 years for a gym membership rather than on a fancy treadmill that will collect dust in your basement.
  • You can’t find time to work out, you have to make time. You always have 30 minutes or an hour to watch your favorite TV show; therefore, you can make it to the gym for 30 minutes to work up a sweat, and you’ll be glad that you did.
  • Staying active is the most important thing. Peak bone mass is reached at the age of 30 and then reduces as you age. Walking, jogging, hiking, and resistance exercise is key to slowing down your bone loss. It is never more important to exercise than when you are over the age of 40.
  • Don’t depend on someone else to be your workout partner. They will always let you down. I know that sounds hopeless, but you are in charge! Anyone can find an excuse not to exercise, so it won’t help to have someone else making an excuse for you.
  • Use your common sense. There is no miracle cure or easy way out to achieving good health. Learn how to sort through the clutter of fad diets and the greatest new products. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Set small goals, then once they are achieved move on to the next goal. Nobody starts at the top.
  • It takes 60 days to form a habit. Eventually your day will not feel complete unless at some point you pushed your body to fatigue.
  • Remember, 80% of success is showing up. Even if you planned on working out for an hour but you only lasted 20 minutes, you are still better than you were the day before.
  • Choose your exercise plan wisely. Working out the same muscle group day after day can be a negative. They need time to rebuild and repair. When you strength train (weight lifting), your muscles are experiencing micro tears and it takes time for protein to repair the tears, which then leads to hypertrophy (the enlargement of the muscle). Rest as well as exercise is a very important component to living a healthy life.
  • For those who have a slow metabolism or if it has slowed due to aging, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Eating a large breakfast kick-starts the digestive system and speeds up your metabolism which will naturally slow down throughout the day. Therefore you should eat a smaller lunch and an even smaller dinner.
sportsagility

Agility Training for the Non-Athlete

By Stacy Vanzant Certified Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor

We all remember the fun games of tag that we played as kids. We would chase after our friends trying to tag each and every one of them as they bobbed, weaved, and shuffled out of our way. It was a game of speed, accuracy, and agility.

You’re probably thinking the same thing as I am: “That was years ago when I had a youthful frame, loads of energy, and flexible joints.” Yes, you’re right, but agility training has come back into popularity for a variety of reasons that don’t including playing sports.

Sports Agility Training (SAT) is breaking the molds of traditional exercise routines and climbing in popularity fast. SAT is a form of fitness that builds speed, agility, reactivity, and quickness. Many levels of play from youth, collegiate, amateur, and professional competitive arenas are encouraging their athletes to incorporate agility fitness exercises into their training programs.

Sports Agility Training is a form of exercise that’s done with a specific task in mind for a short period of time. For example, running back and forth from a series of cones, weaving feet over and back of an agility ladder, or even running weighted sprints are a few examples of SAT.

Because of its ability to improve the body’s reactions and break performance plateaus, the intrigue and interest are bringing common, weekly fitness enthusiasts into the mix and they are practicing SAT on a regular basis.

Agility drills increase your balance, dynamic flexibility, functional core strength, control, and reduce your risk of physical injury by improving body mechanics. These benefits are allowing adults to stay active longer, enhance reflexes, improve coordination, and maintain balance and muscle mass to support the skeletal structure.

FUN is back in Fitness! After years of repetition in popular fitness routines on treadmills, bikes, and even in the weight room, you can stop your boring workout that sometimes keeps you from exercising.  Let’s face it, if you like what you’re doing you’re more likely to continue. Each SAT routine is unique and offers a wide variety of exercises keeping you engaged and excited to perform each exercise.

Motivation for Measurable Results. We all want to see results of our efforts. Agility training is an excellent form of fitness that’s easily measured each time it’s performed. A drill like a three-cone shuttle run, often performed at professional football try-outs, is a good example. Perform the drill and time yourself. Record the time and after a week or so of training, do the drill again and time yourself. You will be amazed at how quickly you can see measurable results after only a few exercise routines.

High-Intensity Interval Training. Agility training is a form of HIIT which is an effective way to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Running very fast for a short period of time (10-30 seconds) and then allowing the body to recover before repeating the exercise is a great way to burn calories fast! HIIT training also carries over after the workout to continue a high caloric burn hours after your exercise routine is over.

Prevent Injury. Changing movement patterns quickly allows you to train the body to make modifications in a split second. Training your body to change directions in movement and speed allows your muscles to improve upon the strength and resiliency of connective tissue. If you have been training in agility and trip stepping onto a curb, it’s likely your body will be more responsive and prevent a fall.

Warm-up Is a Must. Unlike other exercise methods that allow you to slowly warm-up the muscle and connective tissue, agility training requires your body be fully warm before starting any of the exercises. Agility training requires a longer warm-up to ensure the body is fully ready to train. If you’re not fully prepared to start the workout it’s likely you can become injured. You wouldn’t hop out of the car and go into a full 50 meter sprint, so please get warm before starting any agility drills.

Most Calibers of Fitness Can Enjoy SAT. If you can’t run then jog. If you can’t jog then speed walk! Modifications are perfectly acceptable with any form of fitness, so give it a try! As with any fitness routine, consult with your doctor.

Perform 3 to 5 reps of each exercise to your fastest and fullest ability and have fun!

Hop Scotch Drills (if you do not have an agility ladder, grab some chalk and the kids and get moving).

1 In Forward:

Start with both feet outside of the ladder. Hop one foot at a time in each block of the ladder until you reach the end keeping the opposite foot off the ground. Then hop back one foot at a time until you’ve completed the whole ladder. Down and back is 1 rep. Remember speed is key!

2 in Forward:

Working your way back down the ladder, one foot and then the other will enter each section of the ladder. Keep the count of 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 as quick as you can down.

2 in Lateral:

Working down the ladder laterally, run, jog placing each foot in each ladder slot. Add high knees to this drill for a high intensity calorie burn. Run, Run!

Hopscotch Forward:

Starting with both feet outside of the ladder jump with both feet into the ladder then jump to straddle the outside of the slot on the ladder. Hop into the next slot and then straddle and so forth. For an increase drill add a squat when jumping outside the ladder.

In-In, Out-Out:

Alternate feet and in and out of the ladder as you work your way down the length of the ladder. Again, add a high knee move to elevate this exercise intensity.

Three-Cone Drill:

Place three cones (or other markers) in a triangle pattern eight feet apart. Sprint from the first cone to the second. Circle that cone, then run backward to the first. Circle the first cone, then sprint to the third cone; circle it, then run backward to the first cone. Repeat as quickly as you can three times. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat three more times.

Weaving Sprint:

Line up five cones (or other markers) in a row, about 18 inches apart (a bit less than your average stride). Start at one end and weave through the cones, running as fast as possible without knocking them over. At the end, turn around and jog back. Do four reps, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the sequence three times.

Compass Drill: