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Plyometric Exercises Are Your Friend

28 Aug

I’ve been doing plyometric-based workouts for the past few days now and let me tell you, they’re amazing. You read about them in magazines, your trainer tells you all about them at the gym but you never listen. Well, you should.

Plyometrics are basically short bursts of energy using mainly your body weight – jumps, sprints, etc.

These simple moves help you burn so many calories (and fat!) in such short amounts of time – and the little to no added weight is perfect for toning and staying lean, rather than bulking up.

Below are the workouts I did the last two days (I did add weight in some moves, as well as incorporated non-plyometric moves) and some links to sites that have great information/suggestions for other plyometric moves.

WARNING: If you’re one of those people who goes to the gym in full hair and make-up, these are not for you. You will NOT look cute after doing these.


Day 1

Warm-up: Half mile on the treadmill (or anywhere else) at 5.0 mph (about 6 minutes)

Circuit 1:

Lateral box jumps with 10 lb weight, 20 reps (10 each side/leg). At the peak of each rep, do a front press with the weight and bring the weight back to your chest as you land.

Box jumps – 15 reps using a chair, curb, stepper height that’s comfortable for you (I used 4 stackers under the step at the gym).

Squat jumps with 10 lb weight – 15 reps

Rest and repeat circuit

Circuit 2:

Dips – 15 reps

Push-ups – 10 reps

Rest and repeat circuit

Ab Circuit: Do two circuits of your 3 favorite ab moves. I did V-ups, bicycle crunches and legs lifts.

Cardio: 5-minute warm up, 10 minutes of intervals, 5-minute cool down.

Sauna: 5-7 minutes just for good measure (you’re dripping sweat anyway, what’s a little more?)


Day 2

Warm-up: half mile jog

Circuit 1:

Lateral Box jumps with 10 lb weight – 20 reps but this time do an overhead press at the peak of each rep

Box jump with 10 lb weight – 10-15 reps at the same height as the day before (it’s harder with the weight…)

Skaters/Jump Lunges 12 reps (6 reps on each leg). Try with 8 lb dumbbells in each hand.

Rest and repeat circuit.

Circuit 2:

Dips – 15 reps

Inverted push-ups – 10 reps

Rest and repeat circuit

Circuit 3/Weights

Deadlifts – 15 reps with a comfortable weight (I used 50 lbs)

Static Squat with curl – go into squat position and hold, curl weights (8-10 lbs) 15 times. (Fun Fact: I have no idea if that’s what this is called or if it’s even a ‘legit’ move, but I did it and it burns.)

Rest and repeat circuit 2 more times.

Ab Circuit: two sets of 25 crunches on the stability ball holding a 10 lb disc.

Cardio: Easy run at 6.0 mph, 1.0 incline for one mile (about 10 minutes), 2 minute walking cool down.

Sauna: Same reason as the day before.

Here are some sites that you may want to check out:

Women’s Health – Plyometrics: Jump on it!

Self Magazine – Plyometrics workout: Burn more calories in less time

Body Building – Workout of the Week


Just So You Know I’m Not Completely Full of It…

25 Aug

I did go to the gym the other night after I posted about all the horrible things I did to myself over the weekend and the following is what I’m dubbing “The Repentance Workout.”

Warm-up: Half mile jog at 5.0 mph no incline (about 6 minutes)

Legs & Hips (where I gain all of my weight and therefore focus on):

Quad extensions – 3 sets of 12, 50 lbs

Deadlifts – 3 sets of 15, 50 lbs

Squats – 3 sets of 12, 85 lbs

Lunge & Bicep Curl – 1 set of 12 (each leg) with 12 lb weights (curl at top of each lunge – total of 24 reps)

Walking lunges – Once back and forth across the gym with 12 lb weights

Hip Abduction – 3 sets of 12, 60 lbs

Arms (by this time I was pretty tired and knew I still had to do cardio, so I kept it short):

Push-up – 1 set of 10

Cardio (told you arms were quick!):

Jog at 5.0 mph at no incline for 5 min – up speed to 8.0 for 45 sec, back down to 5.0 or 6.0. Alternate speed of intervals for 1.5 miles.

Walk at a pace of 4.0 at an incline of 7.0 for remaining half-mile. Decrease incline to zero and speed to 3.5 for 5 minute cool down.

Then do 10 wide incline push-ups using the hand rail of the treadmill and 10 close-grip (tricep) push-ups (because they’re easier than regular floor push-ups and you feel guilty about not doing more arms earlier).

Then go home, go to bed and sleep 45 min past your alarm the next morning because your body hates you for a whole new set of reasons.


9 Aug

I just found this article and loved the title:

“Why You Should Give In To The Zumba Craze”

It is kind of a craze – like Tae Bo or Jazzercise. And it’s been marketing itself with summer/party-themed advertisements forever (Turn up the heat! The Party’s Here! Feel the Beat! Ditch the Workout and Join the Party! …should I go on?) so it’s perfect for this time of year.

I tried it for the first time this past Sunday (because L.A. Fitness recently started offering the classes – yay! 24 Hour Fitness has been offering them for awhile now) and it was really fun. Granted, I looked like a fool but laughing at yourself works those ab muscles!

It wasn’t very intensive but it did get my heart rate up and is definitely something I would do again – probably in conjunction with higher intensity cardio and/or weights beforehand. The class I was in was small so the energy was kind of low, but I imagine a big group of people would make it even more fun. I also think the Zumba DVDs might be more intensive or incorporate more ‘workout’ moves.

Check your local gym schedule or you can go here to find a class near you.

Lunch Time Workouts

7 Aug

Being back in the States after living in Italy for a month made me realize how little Americans actually move. I walked everywhere in Italy and here, I drive everywhere. Before I left the country, I tried to get to the gym at least three times a week. Now, I still try to make my gym goal every week but I’ve also upped the anti – I’m aiming to move much more on a daily basis. I started on Friday while at work.

I bring my lunch to work 99% of the time but many times, I end up with a lot of time left over on my lunch. (It doesn’t take an hour to eat a turkey sandwich and some grapes…)

So, I decided I would try something. I brought my tennis shoes and iPod and after I was done with my caprese salad, I laced up and started walking. I work on a university campus, so I have access to a track which makes it easy to monitor how far I walked – about a mile and a half.

I didn’t walk very fast because I still had to be presentable when I went back into the office, but I burned way more calories than I would have if I was sitting the whole time.

Another thing I’ve done in the past is go on walks around the campus and through the neighborhoods. The change of scenery makes these walks more interesting if walking in a circle isn’t really your thing.

What creative ‘moves’ do you do during the work day?

Steam Room Update

30 Jun

I tried the steam room again last night. It still sucks. It’s like a humidifier on steroids.

BUT – it did do wonders for my sinuses (that only lasted for a few hours) and I was able to stay in there longer than last time (until my skin was being scalded by the steam that was being pumped in). My whole body was red when I escaped left.

I don’t like steam rooms.

Saunas for the win!

Saunas v. Steam Rooms

9 Jun

I belong to L.A. Fitness and each club location has either a sauna or a steam room. Because I go to whichever gym I’m closest to when I have time for a workout, I’ve been able to sample both and found that I love the sauna and hate the steam room. Here’s why:

The sauna is ‘dry’ heat. Granted, it took a few trips into one to get used to breathing such hot air (the trick for me is mouth-breathing – not cute, but it works) but it’s not much different than walking out of a Vegas casino in the middle of August :). I sat in there for about 10 minutes after a long run and I was drenched in sweat when I walked out. The hot air makes it a great place to do some slow stretching after your work out, because your muscles are already loose and the hot air helps you to relax.

A few benefits I’ve read about using saunas include increased performance in endurance sports, increased metabolism (due to increased heart rate from pumping more blood to your skin to help you cool down), and it aids in ridding the body of toxins and heavy metals. There are risks for using a sauna for people with certain health conditions or if you stay in too long, but the overall consensus I’ve noticed is that if you’re in decent health, clean and sober, and use the sauna properly (i.e. for no more than 15 minutes at a time) the benefits outweigh the risks.

Alternately, the steam room is ‘wet’ (?) heat – it’s freakin’ humid! It’s like walking into a bathroom after someone took a really hot shower – REALLY hot shower. All the moisture gathers on the ceiling, so you run the risk of getting dripped on – which was an unexpected surprise. Then, the room periodically refills itself with steam and the rush of steam into the room startled me, LOL. While it’s refilling itself, it’s incredibly hard to breathe and actually forced me to leave.

I was only able to stay in the steam room for maybe 5 minutes before I was too uncomfortable to stay. Because of this, I didn’t sweat nearly as much and most of the moisture on me when I stepped out was steam – much less satisfying than when you step out of a sauna.

I read that the steam room is generally preferred by people with sinus issues (which I do have) because of the humidity, but I’d still take dry heat over humidity any day.

If you have access to either, I recommend trying them to see which you prefer. It’s a great way to end a workout and you’ll feel refreshed afterwards.

My Run Playlist

2 Jun

I NEED to listen to music when I go for long runs – I have to focus on something other than my brain’s comments of, “Really? We’re still running? Aren’t you tired? Yeeaahhh…you’re tired. This is boring. Stop running for no reason now.”

I’ve found a few songs that really help keep me motivated when I start to lose focus and I thought I’d share them with you.

First, I like to listen to songs I know the words to because if I can focus on the lyrics, I’m not thinking about how long I’ve been running (or how long I think/feel like I’ve been running). These include:

  • N’ Sync – It’s Tearin’ Up My Heart
  • Kelli Pickler – Red High Heels
  • Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA
  • Ke$ha – Tik Tok and Blah Blah Blah

Then, I like to mix in songs by artists I wish I had the body of (extra motivation, you know?) Such as:

  • Britney Spears – Do Somethin’ (or any of her pre-head shaving dance songs)
  • Jennifer Lopez – Play

And the third type of songs – hip hop/rap. I’ve noticed that I can run forever(ish) listening to Eminem, 50 cent and Will Smith. I haven’t decided if it’s because of the beat, which helps keep my pace steady, or if it’s the lyrics that talk about how awesome they are and make me want to be awesome (and gangster) too! My favorites:

  • Will Smith – I’m Comin’ or Who Am I or La Fiesta or Can You Feel Me
  • 50 Cent -Disco Inferno or Just a Lil Bit
  • Eminem – Without Me or Lose Yourself or Real Slim Shady
  • Usher – Yeah!

What are your most motivational songs to work out to?

How do you get past the 30-minute mark? I’ve found that I’m not necessarily tired or out of breath after 30 minutes, my brain just gets the best of me at that point. What are your tricks?

Yoga & Calisthenics

31 May

I found Jennifer Aniston’s workout at Self Magazine’s website.  It’s perfect to do at home and without any equipment. The cardio portion you could even modify by doing sprint intervals at a local high school track instead of on an elliptical machine.

I’ve tried it a few times and was dripping sweat by the end of it. At the very least, it’s a few new moves to incorporate into your regular workout when you need to switch it up to keep seeing results.

Ms. A in "Just Go With It" - makes me want to give her workout a try!

New Running Shoes!

17 May

The BFF and I had a date at the Ontario Mills this past weekend because I wanted to check out the Nike Factory Store and because it had been two weeks (!!) since we’d seen each other.

I’ve been running a lot lately and trying to build up my endurance for a half-marathon I’m thinking about signing up for, so I wanted to see if I could find a quality running shoe within my budget. I did!

Nike Citius +

These are super light-weight, are Nike + compatible (so the Nike + plug-in and a new iPod are now officially on my wishlist), and were $65 after tax – not bad! The style is a little louder than I usually wear (I’ve never had silver and turquoise tennis shoes before…) but I tried them out for the first time last night and I love them!

Oh No! JM Leaving BL

11 May

I watched my DVR-ed “Biggest Loser” episode from last night and during one of Jillian Michaels’ 1-1 with the camera she mentioned, “This is my last season with the Biggest Loser.” I nearly cried.

Jillian Michaels & Biggest Loser

This is Jillian's last season on the Biggest Loser

Ok, not really but I was sad. I’ve watched the Biggest Loser for the past 3 or 4 seasons religiously and Jillian was a top reason to watch for me. I would LOVE to have her kick my ass at the gym and I love watching her push contestants to go farther than they thought they could. (Not to mention, I wouldn’t mind have her physique…) And now, she’s not going to be on the show. 😦

Another reason I love watching Biggest Loser is because of how motivating it is for me to actually get myself to the gym. (Unfortunately, I usually watch it first thing in the morning when I’m getting ready to work so I have to wait all day before I can act on my motivation…) But I don’t know how interesting the show, and the workouts shown, is going to be without her. I like Bob, but I’m not a fan of the two new trainers at all. I don’t want to watch contestants box with the new girl trainer – I don’t have access to a boxing ring or a trainer to show me what the heck I’m doing once I put gloves on. Also, the new guy has been trying to hype up this weird African dance-martial art thing…I think it’s silly.

Anyway, I don’t know how late I am to the party in finding out that Jillian Michaels is leaving, but I’m disappointed nonetheless.

Do you watch Biggest Loser? Who are your favorite trainers? Where do you get your motivation to excercise?