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Are Your Power Walks POWERful? 8 Tips to Improve

bonnie pfiesterI was running the other day and ran past a middle-aged woman (side note: I love how “middle-aged people” continue to get older as I get older. ha!). Anyway, so I say good morning (because that’s how I roll) and she mouthed something. This was my cue to stop, take off one of my earphones and say”what?” since I can’t read lips. She repeated herself saying, “I used to that. I used to run 3 miles a day and look skinny like you”.

I went on to say “you can do it again” and tried to encourage her. She said she was too old, etc and went on to make excuses. I then told her how my mom and dad got fit in their late fifties and that it’s never too late to get in shape. She was totally not hearing me, but I smiled anyway and off I went.

As I ran around my “morning loop” I passed her 4 times. This KILLED me. She was clearly was walking for exercise, but she was walking so slow she almost was going backwards. OK, not really, but you get my drift. She wasn’t even TRYING! I guess she thought she was doing something “healthy”, and don’t get me wrong, what she was doing was better than sitting on the couch – but she could have made SO much more out of her efforts.

Even people that walk past me that I can totally tell are walking for exercise are still WAY under where they need to be to really burn some calories. Power walks should be PURPOSEFUL walks. So, how do you know if you are on pace?

8 Ways to Put More Power in Your Power Walks

1.) Swing arms. Arms should swing at a 90 degree angle while walking and your body should twist at the waist while holding your abs tight. This gives you the power you need to move faster (look at the photo of the runner. I guarantee she would be able to book it like that if her arms were dangling down by her side. However, if you aren’t walking fast enough, you’ll feel like a complete tard because your arms will be out-performing your legs. Another words, don’t expect to swing your arms like a maniac and let your legs walk like you are in a coma. They work best if they are working together and it will feel much more natural. The best part about swinging your arms is, it not only increases calories burned, but it tones your abs and waist. If you do it right, you will actually be sore. If not, you are likely not getting enough rotation.

2.) Maintain good posture. Be sure to stand up tall while running or walking, holding your stomach nice and flat, rolling your shoulders back, and being careful not to stick your neck out (which people often do when they are moving forward, whether driving or walking). This will help train your body how to maintain better posture all the time. If you aren’t “training” your body on good posture while walking, you are training your body how to maintain bad posture.

3.) Walk as fast as you can. Try walking as fast as possible without breaking into a run, taking long strides with bended knee as if lunging forward. Your arms will really have to swing hard to help you keep this pace. It will also feel completely awkward, but it will look much more normal than it feels. Do this until you can’t maintain it any more. I would consider that your top pace for walking.

4.) Prevent slowing down by tracking your walks. For instance, you can count your steps from one mailbox, or light post, to another to help give you a top-end goal to help hold you accountable or you can track your walk time. You can also do sprint intervals to improve your pace where you sprint from one drive way to the next at every 3-5 houses or so. An awesome device that is great for tracking your pace is the iPhone App called the RunKeeper. It will tell you your average pace and track your progress.

5.) Look at people around you. Notice other walkers and realize they all think they are working out hard and many of them look no different than if you saw them walking in the mall while shopping. Make it your mission NOT to be “that guy”. 

6.) Have someone video tape you. This is a RUDE awakening. When I was doing a TV segment on walking, I was SHOCKED by how slow I looked. I was walking at 4.2mph and it looked like I was strolling. Sometimes pride fuels us to improve and we need to see how we look to others in order to be motivated to perform better. This sure helped me.

7.) Challenge your workouts with interval training. I love my GymBoss Interval Trainer. It’s a timer you can set to go off at different intervals to help make your walks more challenging and less boring. For instance, if you are wanting to become a runner you can set the timer for 2-minute walks and 1-minute sprints. As you improve, you can change that to a 2-minute jog and 1-minute recovery walk. Eventually, you can do a 2-minute run and 1-minute sprint. It’s a great way to boost your workouts and let the GymBoss become your “trainer”.

Polar RC38.) Buy a heart rate monitor. This tip is the #1 best thing you can do to hold yourself accountable. Your heart rate is the best indicator of how many calories you are burning. I like to be around 75% of my maximum heart rate with 65% being my lowest and 85% being my highest. (Maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. Then you multiple that number by the heart rate you are wanting to maintain, like .75). I suggest getting a POLAR Heart Rate Monitor like the Polar RC3, as a POLAR not only tracks your heart rate, calories burned, and all kinds of cool stuff, but it allows you to set up 5 sports profiles so you can so you can easily change between exercise sessions. It also has a zone lock that alerts you if you are falling out of your training zone. You can even set up interval training based on heart rate, speed/pace or distance, or chose from their training programs created by their fitness experts. Think of it as your very own affordable personal trainer. Plus it tracks your training history so you can see how you improve!

Here’s a great video showing all the ways you can use your Polar.

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FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Bored in the Gym? HIIT Training May Help

boring workoutAre Your Workouts Boring?

If you feel like you’ve lost your, as Steve says, “ZIP, ZEST, PEP, DRIIIVE AND DESIRE”, well maybe you just need to get a trainer – interval trainer that is. You don’t necessarily need a personal trainer to kick your butt, especially if you know what to do already. Often times we just get lazy and comfortable, and we lose focus. But, as soon as you add a time component to your workout, suddenly a boring workout blossoms into a high-intensity workout with purpose and drive. To get this done, I use the GymBoss Interval Timer to ramp up my intensity, create focus and hold me accountable.

HIIT it Harder!

squatHIIT training is nothing new. It’ just gained popularity over the recent years. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT workouts are typically short workouts, from 4-20 minutes, and combine short bursts of intense exercise (typically at maximum intensity) with a moderate activity or rest. The original HIIT format was a 2 to 1 ration, like Tabata. Tabata is 20 seconds of work, and 10 seconds of rest or lighter work.

For instance, a HIIT running routine could be 30 seconds of sprinting and 15 seconds of walking or jogging. However, HIIT workouts now come in all shapes and sizes. The length of intervals, as well as intensity/work, may vary. HIIT, today, is just all about timed intense interval training, no matter what the length or combination of exercises and rest.

So, with the education under your belt now, let’s HIIT our legs! Here was my leg workout yesterday. It was awesome, simple, super effective and challenging. Also, when you use HIIT, you get a lot of work done in less time, so it’s also very efficient. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

HIIT Your Legs

This workout targets the quads and glutes. I will do a separate workout, like this Ham & Glute Workout, the for hamstrings later this week. Get your GymBoss Interval Timer and get ready to work!

Deep SquatRamping Squat*
5 SETS: 30 Seconds on, 30 Seconds off

*Ramping (or periodization) refers to ramping up (increasing) your weight. Each set should get heavier and heavier. For instance, do just the bar the first set, then add weight in 10-25lb increments each set, depending on your strength, making each set more and more challenging.

Training Tips: The key to this exercise is to get LOW (like you see in this photo). I’d rather you do less weight, and get a full range of motion. Most people are not even close to getting as low as they can. LADIES LISTEN UP: These last few inches work your inner thighs and glutes a LOT more, so don’t miss out! Your weight should be on your heels the entire time, and your bottom should nearly bottom out on the ground you should be so low. If you’ve never done this before, then practice just with the bar or no weight at all. If you can’t seem to keep your heels on the ground, try spreading out your knees a bit more and sit down into the squat until your feet can stay completely flat. Tight and weak muscles may prevent you from getting this low, so you may want to incorporate this yoga move into your leg day to increase flexibility.

Yoga Squat: Hold this pose (pictured below right) for 30 seconds at a time and really stretch your legs and open those hips. Do this prior to lifting or even between sets to keep you nice and loose.

Deep-squats

Heavy Walking Lunges  (15-20lbs dumbbells)
5 Sets: 30 Seconds on, 30 Seconds off

Tabata Leg Extensions (toes pointed out)
Tabata  is 8 Sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off

1/2 Tabata Leg Extension (toes pointed in)
Half Tabata is half the prescribed set (so only 4 sets) of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off

Tabata High Step Ups* (with or without weights)
Half (4 sets) Tabata on RIGHT FOOT
(20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
Half (4 sets) Tabata on LEFT FOOT
(20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)

*Use a high bench or plyo box. Step POWERFULLY up and resist the negative (your weight coming down). So, it will be a quick and powerful explosion UP on to the step (being sure to step up on to your heel), and then a slowly lower down. No matter how tired you get, DO NOT allow your body to “fall” back to the floor. Fight it!

Top 25 Fitness Gifts for Your Fit Friends

In order to create one of the best fitness gift lists online, I reached out to people like you! I asked you what YOU wanted for Christmas, searched the web to find some of the coolest gadgets in the industry, and thought of all the fitness toys I can’t live without. Unlike many articles, no one has paid me to add them to the list. This is just a list of the top 25 fitness gifts, from $9 to $199, that I either have myself and love, or would love to have under my own tree.

I did all the work for you! Now shopping for your bestie is easy as clicking on any of the links below! Have fun making your BFF’s Christmas one of the best yet!

Top 25 Fit Gifts for Your Fit Friends

1. 6 Pack Bag – A deluxe 3 or 6 meal lunch cooler designed to organize meals, protein drinks and more. Finally, being prepared can be easy – and look nice too! The Foil lined back has 5 meal compartments in the 6-pack, 3 meal compartments in the 3-pack, a top organizer for supplements and vitamins, side slots to keep drinks upright, and ice packs to keep it all cool. $49

2. Yurbuds Inspire for Women – Music to my ears, these awesome earbuds, made specifically for women, are made to fit smaller ears and stay put while you move, sweat, lift, plyo and run. Don’t fret guys, they also have Yurbuds for men too! These earbuds are no joke. If you’re sick of earbuds falling out while working out, you will be thrilled to get these for Christmas, because they fit the ear like a custom fit hearing aid – and they ain’t going no where! $29

3. The Jawbone – I honestly have NO idea how it does it, (maybe I’ll get to try it myself and give you an in-depth review some day), but evidently, this incredible bracelet literally is like a healthy spy that tracks your every move. It intellegently tracks your sleep (light and deep sleep), tracks your activity (calories burned, activity and inactivity), reminds you to move when you’ve been still too long, tells you when to wake up with a smart alarm feature than knows the optimal time to wake up to feel refreshed in your sleep cycle, gives you the best power naps (waking you up at the perfect time to be recharged), and more. Waterproof, comfortable, crazy cool, good looking and a great healthy fitness tool any fitness peep would LOVE! $129

4. NXE Active Sleeve – After tying this myself, it quickly became one of my favorite ways to hold my iphone while working out. This slick stretchy fabric iphone arm sleeve is not only comfortable to wear, it makes it easy to slip the iphone in and out for quick access, unlike most armband cases that lock your phone in and are hard to view while the armband is on. So if you find yourself always trying to access your phone, or you like to tweet between sets, this is a great option for your smart phone. Comes in a 2-pack (one white, one black) at Radio Shack. $20

5. LiveWell 360 Core – The Core bag is not only WAY sleek and stylish, it has 9 perfectly designed pockets, complete with separate vented compartment for stinky shoes or sweaty clothes. With an interior mesh pocket for your water bottle, and slip pockets for your phone, wallet and keys, there’s no need to take your purse in to the gym with you. This bag does it all. The fabric is thick, soft, comfortable and durable. The hardware is all satin nickel hardware that looks pretty, and also will withstand the test of time. This bag is totally unlike any gym bag I’ve ever seen in stores. At first glance, you may think it’s a little pricey, but when I think of all the gym bags we’ve gone through – I would have come out cheaper if I just bought one LiveWell bag. Available in 3 styles. $187

6. Wahoo Fitness BlueHR Heart Rate Monitor – Say goodbye to Bulky Heart Rate monitor watches and hello to Wahoo – the world’s first wireless blue tooth heart rate monitor. This handy dandy device syncs to your iphone for easy tracking and works with other popular Apps, like RunKeeper, MapMyRide, 321Run, Cyclemeter and endomondo. Even if your connection is interupted, the Wahoo heart rate monitor continues to record data. It’s even waterproof up to 5 feet – perfect for our triathlon peeps! You can even use the Blue HR while using bluetooth headphones so you can track your heart rate while listening to your favorite motivational tunes. Yes! This is on MY wish list!! $75

7. Design Your Own Reebok Gift Card – Get the gift of individuality. This totally fun and unique gift lets your bestie choose the style and their favorite color combination to create their one-of-a-kind shoe. Choose from a variety of patterns, colors and styles to create a totally unique pair of shoes that’s as unique as the designer. Lack creativity? That’s OK, there are over a million custom designs created by other people that are available for purchase, or for a starter template to get the designer going in the right direction. Totally fun and totally awesome! (Another one on my list!) $100+

8. FitBit Aria – This extraordinary scale not only records your weight, BMI and body fat, but it uploads all the information to your computer so you can track your progress and set calorie goals. It’s also family friendly, with automatic recognition for up to 8 people. There is even a community option to share your progress with family members and friends, for added accountability. The FitBit Aria syncs with their matching free iPhone app and computer so you can view graphs and progress no matter where you go. $129

9. Camelback Glass Eddy Bottle – If you are like me, you don’t like that nasty plastic taste of cheap water bottles, then you’ll love this PBA free glass water bottle. Simple, clean, healthy & yummy water making bottle comes with a pretty protective silicone sleeve! A simple gift that will get a lot of use. $22

10. Wordlock – OMG, can I just tell you how I wish I had this in high school. For people who can’t remember their darn combination code, this lock makes keeping your valuables safe easy. With many colors and styles to choose from, including bike locks, cable locks, pad locks, luggage locks, utility locks, sports locks, discus locks and even commercial locks, you can choose the perfect lock for your perfect fit friend. $9

11. iPod Shuffle – This itty bitty music maker comes in 8 colors and lets you have all the musical fun without the weight and bulk of an iphone or ipod. With up to 15 hours of playtime, runners and triathlon athletes can enjoy music for miles and miles. With the voice over feature, it’s easy to find the right playlist or find out the name of the band playing at that moment because it talks to you. Cute, convenient, portable and smart – you can’t go wrong! Just clip it to your clothes and go! #49

12. Smartwool Arm Warmers – Most of you know I’m a sucker for accessories (like knee high socks!), but these are not just stylish, but have purpose too – they keep you WARM (in style of course!). Perfect for your active friends who like to play outside in the cold, this is a great gift for a bestie who likes living life in the great outdoors. $25

13. Reebok Compression Arm Sleeve – You don’t have to be a CrossFitter to love this gift. More than an accessory, this arm sleeve not only keeps your arms warm in the cold, the UV protective and heat reflective material prevents you from overheating in the sun. Compression gear also helps aid in recovery, making it a must-have for athletes and performance driven fitness fanatics. And can I just add that they toootally look ridiculously cool too?! WANT! $44

14. GymBoss – This interval timer turns into a trainer that tells you when to work, and when to rest. Adding a timed component to training majorly boosts intensity. Trade sets and reps for a predetermined time of work and rest, like 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off. A great tool to add to anyone’s fitness tool box. Just clip the GymBoss to your clothes and get ready for muscles to burn – and your body to sweat! $19.99 and up.

15. Lose It! Premium App – The Lose It! app is free, but the premium app has a slew of handy features to help your friend reach his or her fitness goals, like syncing to their favorite fitness app like Nike+ and RunKeeper, Withings Scale, Fitbit Aria, Withings Blood Pressure Monitor and Zeo Sleep Monitor. Set more detailed goals than the free app, including body measurements, blood pressure, blood glucose, sleep and exercise. Lastly, with Premium users, Personal Trainers and Nutritionists using Lose It Connect can monitor their clients meal plans and activity for added accountability and support. $39 $29/year (on sale!)

16. Zumba Fitness 2 for Wii – Zumba instructors always make Zumba look so easy – and so good! However, doing Zumba takes a little talent and skill to perform to actually look like you know what you are doing. So, now you can practice in your house. Whether you use it as a prep course for a live class, or you use it to get your dance and sweat on without the gym, this is a great buy for someone who loves to dance – whether they look good doing it or no! $39

17. TRX Suspension Trainer – A great gift for fitness tool collector who loves the toys that bring the pain. The TRX isn’t for beginners in my opinion, it takes a bit to learn all the moves, but the TRX is a great gift to enhance any workout routine and it was on several people’s Christmas list this year. Suspension training develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability. A little pricey, but a fun toy and a good adjunct to any training program – especially for those who train at home. And yes, I have one in my own fitness collection! $199

18. iPhone 5 – Everyone knows the iPhone is not just a phone, but to a dieter or fit fan, the iPhone is an essential tool to help them reach their goals. That’s why the iPhone made the top 25 list of best fitness gifts – it’s truly an essential tool in the diet and fitness arsenal. The iPhone offers hundreds of helpful tools to get fit, lose weight, explore exercises, check your heart rate and so much more. With apps like iFitness, LoseIt!, Fooducate, RunKeeper, Heart Rate, Fitness Buddy, Nike+ Running and Pedometer.

19. Reebok Adjustable Speed Rope – An affordable gift that can help take your friend’s workout up a notch. Jumping rope has quickly become a staple exercise in any conditioning workout and athletic training, like CrossFit and BCx Boot Camp. It’s a simple gift, but will be an appreciated gift for anyone serious about their workouts. $18

20. Adidas MiCoach Speed Cell – A great gadget for the athlete, this performance tracking tool captures time, distance, speed, speed zones and number of sprints. The device instantly uploads it to your iphone or computer so you can see your results, like TopSpeed, Burst Speed, Total Distance and gametime stats help you improve your game. A totally cool gift for athletic training. $70

21. Bodylastics Resistance Bands – This one never goes out of date. It was on my list last year, and it stays on the list because it’s tried and true. Bodylastics bands are a great alternative to weights that are more affordable – and very portable. These bands are not only strides ahead their competitors, more durable, and heavy duty, they stand behind their product with a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime defects warranty. Since they take up less space than weights, you can throw them in your gym bag while on the road or on a vacation, and not miss a workout. The Bodylastics kit comes with a variety of strength resistance bands, door anchors, handles, ankle straps and a how-to guide (not to mention a whole list of online workout shows to follow at http://www.LiveExercise.com). You may think I’m just biased, because Steve leads a few of the online fitness shows – but we wouldn’t even work with them if we didn’t think they were a stellar company – and really love their products! $28.95

22. Yogamatic Custom Yoga Mat – This is the Yoga mat Jennifer Aniston had custom made for Oprah (of Oprah’s dogs). This is the perfect gift for any yogi and a way to make your bestie’s yoga experience even more special! Totally a fun gift that will be the talk of the class! $89+

23. Go Sport ID Bracelet – Customize one of these cool ID bracelets – perfect for running, cycling and triathlons. They not only look cool, but they are a great safety precaution in the event of an accident. Believe me, I know! Several years ago, my mom fell on dark early morning run, broke a rib and got knocked out. You can never be too careful – and with a custom engraved Go Sport ID, you can do it in style! Choose from seven different styles, including bracelets, shoe tags and necklaces. $16.95+

24. RealFlex Neoprene Workout Gloves – These are my favorite workout gloves of all time. They are comfy, washable (leather gloves can STINK in a hurry!) and they don’t bunch up like worn material or leather. The glove has a durable rubber pad (like a paw) that makes handling heavy weight much more comfortable, and adds more traction for better gripping. The velcro strap and overall style of these gloves make it super easy to take on and off. Plus they are super cheap – you gotta like that! $9

25. EatSmart Nutritional Pro Scale – I personally own this scale and love it. Although I use it mostly for weighing items to enter in my Lose It! app, it has some SUPER cool features that makes tracking calories even easier, and more accurate, like an internal database of over 1,000 foods. Simply key in a 3-digit code and weigh your food to get nutritional information, including calories, fat, protein, carbs, fiber, sodium, and several other nutrients. $69

YOUR TURN:

Is your fitness wish not on the list? Post your items below! You never know who it may help – and who’s watching (like Santa Claus!). 🙂

 

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