Gym Workouts

A strength coach tries to get InstaFit: Which popular exercise program is more effective – Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide or the Tone It Up Challenge?

This year, I decided to spice up my regular strength training and running routine by trying a few exercise programs that seem to be popular with the Instagram crowd due to their impressive #transformationtuesday progress pictures and heavy focus on their respective social media communities: the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (#BBG) and the Tone It Up Bikini Challenge (#TIUChallenge).

Besides trying something new for fitness last year, I was curious to see if these Insta-popular exercise programs are actually safe and effective from a strength training, functional movement and body composition point of view, instead of just another way to burn extra calories.

**Warning! This post contains #Fitspo images (bikini bods, abs, butts, etc.), so maybe don’t read it on your work computer OR if you’re trying to avoid images like that.*** (more…)

Workout Wednesday: 20-minute HIIT workout for runners

Workout Wednesday_ hiitI have a love/hate relationship with high-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT workouts. Even though I generally hate every minute of each exercise in a HIIT circuit and am always left feeling winded and dripping with sweat, you really can’t argue with the results. Not only are HIIT workouts a great way to boost your anaerobic capacity (which can translate into speedier run times), but also can help build your strength and power in your legs with pylometric movements. Also a plus: HIIT workouts are short in duration (they shouldn’t be longer than 20-30 minutes), which makes them an effective way to get a workout in when you’re short on time.

If you’re looking for a total-body 20-minute HIIT workout to help build strength, power and anaerobic capacity, I’ve got you covered: (more…)

Workout Wednesday: A lazy, post-vacation (or post-illness) workout

Workout Wednesday_ A lazy, post-vacation (or post-illness) workoutYou know when you return from a week or more of vacation — that may or may not have included lots of relaxing, eating and drinking — and have a hard time getting back into your workout routine? Or when you’re out for a few days to a week with the flu and aren’t well enough to jump right back into your fitness routine?

Instead of putting off exercise for another day (or week), try this easy yet effective post-vacation/post-illness workout routine. You won’t be burning mega calories with this one, but it’s a great set of exercises to help get you back on track.

This will most likely be the workout I do in a few days after I recover from whatever illness I have at the moment (almost everyone at work has some kind of sickness, and I seem to have had a bad reaction to medication I took yesterday for something unrelated… ugh). (more…)

A boredom-busting treadmill workout

Treadmill WorkoutEven though I run outside year-round on Vancouver Island, there are some days (like today… and pretty much all of January and February) when it’s too cold and miserable outside to run. Well, it’s not really—but I’m much more likely to actually get my workout in than skip it if I can be comfortable during said workout.

Enter the treadmill (aka dreadmill). Sure, it’s not as fun or challenging as running on a single-track trail over roots and rocks—but the treadmill can be an effective way to get in a great aerobic workout when any outside run just isn’t possible.

To beat treadmill-running boredom and to help increase your aerobic capacity and leg strength, try doing a fartlek run (a run consisting of various inclines and speeds from easy to moderate to hard) for your treadmill workout. If you need something more structured than just running fast and slow and adjusting the incline on the fly for your treadmill run, try this 40-minute fartlek treadmill workout: (more…)

Workout Wednesday: 4-day beginner upper/lower split strength training program

upper lower splitAs promised, here’s my current muscle-building workout routine I’ll be doing for the next 8 to 10 weeks! This is a beginner 4-day upper/lower split strength training program focused on building strength and hypertrophy you can do at the gym or at home with some modifications. Each workout contains a combination of push-pull exercises, beginning with major muscle groups and ending with accessory exercises. Because I only have about 40 minutes to workout in the morning, I’ve programmed these workouts as supersets, where you can perform each exercises back-to-back in sets with very little rest time in between. If you have more time or are a true beginner/plan on lifting heavier, I suggest taking longer breaks in between exercises. (more…)

The neurology of behaviour change: How personal trainers can use brain science to help clients achieve their health and fitness goals

The neurology of behaviour changeWhen someone tells you to do something you don’t particularly want to do, what’s your immediate response?

Do you think about it for a moment before making up an excuse not to do it or just immediately say no? Do you act defiant until you realize it’s not a criticism and perhaps a good idea after all? Or are you open to the possibility of the action and agree after briefly thinking it through?

I have to try really hard not to act defiant when someone tells me to do something I only mildly despise, so I can’t imagine how some of my personal training clients feel when I give them an exercise plan. “On Monday, do this strength workout for 45 minutes”. Ugggh, they must think, especially if they’ve been told they need to lose weight by their doctor and exercising is something they have to do. They may want to have a strong and fit body, but aren’t looking forward to the work it’s going to take to make that happen. It also doesn’t help that the human brain values immediate rewards more highly than future rewards, so an hour spent on the couch watching Netflix will easily trump an hour spent squatting and sweating any day of the week.

If that wasn’t enough to contend with, there’s also something else going on in the brain that works against your best interests when someone tries to help you with their well-meaning fitness and health advice. (more…)

The best combination exercises to supercharge your supersets

supercharged superset workout teaserNormally at this time of year I’m working on hypertrophy (building muscle) and improving strength with a four-day-a-week upper/lower split resistance training plan, plus two days a week of 8-10 km runs to maintain my cardio over the winter months. But since I’m training for the Phoenix Marathon at the end of February, I’m keeping my resistance training workouts short and sweet — right now I’m doing three 30-40-minute circuit-type resistance training workouts and three to four runs per week, with Sunday being my long run day.

I love circuit training with supersets (where you perform a set of exercises that engages different muscle groups back-to-back) because not only does it keep heart rate elevated (so you get a bit of a cardio workout and calorie-burning boost), but also you get all the benefits of resistance training in a shorter amount of time.

When programming my marathon training plan this year, I used Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove‘s fabulous The New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged book to get ideas for building a solid resistance training program that would compliment my marathon training. (If you’re looking to build your own plan, I highly recommend that book or any of the The New Rules of Lifting books.) (more…)

A seated upper-body workout for a lower-body injury

Seated upper-body teaserBeing injured sucks.

But it especially sucks if you’ve been training for an event, such as your first Boston Qualifying-attempt marathon, when a lower-body injury occurs just five days before your race.

If you’re lucky, it won’t be too serious and you can bounce back within an month. You may have to miss your race, but at least you can ease back into training sooner once you get the A-OK from your physiotherapist or doctor. Other times, you might be sidelined for 12 weeks or more, depending on the type of injury.

Being sidelined is hard, especially when running or exercising in general is your natural state. Although complete rest with physio and other rehab methods (such as IMS, massage or chiro) is best, you may be cleared to do some upper-body exercises if you happen to be dealing with a lower-body injury.

Because I am not an athletic therapist and because certain injuries require certain means of recovery and repair, I can’t tell you specifically what to do to help you return to training. But I can share some general injury recovery guidelines and a sample seated upper-body program you could bring to your physiotherapist or doctor and check to see if you’re clear to try something like it (but modified, of course, based on your injury).

This is a program I’m doing right now with one of my clients who has a severe knee injury. While this program was cleared and given the A-OK by his doctor, it might not be suitable for you. Please check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially when injured. (more…)

#WorkoutWednesday: Running, weight lifting and yoga workout program – How to fit it all in

IMG_6912I often get emails from people looking for advice about how they can fit running, weight lifting and yoga in each week without overdoing it, especially when you you have conflicting goals, such as training for a half marathon and doing your 200-hour yoga teacher training course at the same time.

The short answer I usually give is to just focus on one — whatever your priority fitness goal is at that time — and adjust your schedule as your goals change. Unlike training for a triathlon, combining running, lifting and yoga together is essentially concurrent training (where you simultaneously train for adaptations associated with resistance and endurance training), which can lead to overtraining syndrome and a decrease in performance. That said, there is a way to combine the three activities, depending on what your priority is at the time, to maximize the benefits of each and to stay safe in the process. (more…)

#WorkoutWednesday: Lazy, post-vacation workout

You know when you return from a week or more of vacation — that may or may not have included lots of relaxing, eating and drinking — and have a hard time getting back into your workout routine?

Instead of putting off exercise for another day (or week), try this easy yet effective post-vacation workout routine. You won’t be burning mega calories with this one, but it’s a great set of exercises to help get you back on track.

And let me tell you: after four days of camping in a dusty hayfield surrounded by 19-year-old kids using pink plastic flamingos as beer bongs (apparently it’s called a “flabongo”…) at Sunfest this past weekend, a workout with lots of sitting and lying down was all I could manage today. By the end of the workout, I felt much better and ready to jump back into my regular exercise routine.

postvacayworkout (more…)

%d bloggers like this: