Exercise Challenge – Week 4: HIIT Me Up for a Great Workout

weights-652488You guys! It’s week 4 – can you believe it? How has it been going? If you live in Maryland, you know it has been HOT, HOT, HOT and I have not felt like doing much outside. Yesterday, I had probably the most dismal workout day so far this month. That means I did a lame walk in the heat with my dog and only a few minutes of ‘calisthenics’, as my husband calls them. btw – the definition of calisthenics is, “gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement”…um- I was just doing push-ups and sit-ups and there wasn’t much grace on going in the basement!

How have YOU been doing this month? Who’s still with me? Even if you missed a few days, I hope you are planning and learning and overcoming obstacles to #getitin. Get that workout, that exercise, or those calisthenics in everyday. We are down to our last week in the challenge!

I am blessed to have office space a great fitness studio near by me in Columiba, Md. (SynergyFx- find them HERE). The owners are super knowledgeable and the place is filled with fun, über-qualified trainers and instructors. I talk about exercise being one of our pillars of health. These guys take that a step further and identify 4 Pillars of Fitness. If we want be L.E.A.N., if we want to age well and live long where everything works and nothing hurts, we need to focus our fitness on:c700x420

  1. Cardio. We need to train our heart. You know this. But the latest research shows we can train our heart more efficiently through periods of maxing out our heart rate, periods of rest, and maxing out our heart rate again. That is the premise behind HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. I love me some HIIT! You can get a super efficient workout, blast through calories and  increase your after-burn of calories in half the time of a traditional workout. There are workout DVD’s, programs to follow at home and  group classes. It does not matter your fitness level because you are working toward your maximum heart rate.  My favorite is Sproing Sport and we have a Sproing Studio at SynergyFx. It is a running-based HIIT workout on a soft surface. (Find out more HERE. And let me know if you want to join me – I’ll hook you up with a free class.)
    But ALL cardio is good and important. Remember – the best exercise is the one you will do! So get out there for that walk, but pick-up the speed or throw in a hill. Intensity matters.
  2. Strength. Since we are no longer outside plowing the field or throwing stones in the quarry – we’ve got to make time to lift heavy stuff. Sling the iron, if you will. You don’t have to look like the incredible hulk, but you DO need to build strength. The research is pretty clear that we need to lift weights. This is where I highly recommend seeking out a qualified personal trainer. Form is everything. Learn how to do it right, learn what you typically do wrong and then ask someone to hold you accountable. “Hey Mr. Group Fitness Class Instructor, I typically let my elbows flare on this exercise. Can you help me make sure I keep them aligned?”. “Hey Karen, I’m working on my squats. Want to hit the gym today? I need someone to make sure I sit back far enough into the squat when I start to get fatigued. How can I help you stay injury-free?” You get the idea.
    And if any of you women start up with the “I don’t want to get bulky” crap, I’m gonna come over and smack you. Have you read a magazine in the last 25 years? Trust me – building muscle is hard work. You will not get there by accident.
    You need strength to protect your joints, build strong bones, to hold your head up and keep your shoulders back. You want strong legs to get you up in the morning and a strong core so you don’t wrench your back doing every day things like getting out of the car.
  3. Balance. Balance is a use it or loose it proposition. You can get it back again, but regular exercise is important because it all works together to provide balance and stability which keeps us safe and able to get through our day without injury. Especially important through pregnancy and as we age. Yoga & Pilates are great workouts for building strength, balance and flexibility.
  4. Flexibility. SO IMPORTANT. Not stretching = injury. My local grocery store makes an announcement every hour for the ’employee stretch break’. You guys, NO ONE STRETCHES. Except me. I love a reminder to stretch. Even in the middle of grocery store. (Can’t understand why my teens won’t go food shopping with me anymore…) You should be stretching EVERY. DAY. I know you know this, but are you doing it? Everyone can stretch. You can stretch in a wheelchair or even while lying in bed. Stretching is key to overall fitness. Stretch every day. All throughout the day. Stretching increases blood flow, aids recovery, improves flexibility and prevents injury. Hold on…I’m going to go stretch right now….

So, there are your basic tenets of exercise: cardiovascular training, building strength, balance & flexibility.
In my first post at the beginning of this challenge, I mentioned that we were starting thirty-one days of exercise. “Thirty-one days of a stronger, fitter, more confident YOU.” I hope you are learning about yourself as you relate to exercise. I hope you are learning about your strengths and how to use them in the future to help overcome obstacles. I work on this a lot with my clients. I hope you are eliminating excuses and realizing you have it in you to get it done. I hope you are having FUN and feeling fitter and stronger.

Let us know how you are doing with the challenge! Share a comment here or on Facebook. I will check in with you guys at the end of the month. Only 7 more days to go!