Up your endurance: Climbing interval treadmill workout

Get fitter, faster with this speedy interval workout, which I like to use when trying to pick up my overall pace.

It starts with a slow warm-up to get the blood flowing, then mixes short sprints (at a 7mph pace) with three-minute ‘climbing’ recovery segments (6.1-6.4mph) throughout the course of the workout.

Treadmill_climbing interval

Tweak this to suit your individual need for speed by adjusting the paces accordingly. Just make sure you start with an easy enough recovery pace and keep ‘climbing’ each time to gently challenge your body to recover at a faster pace.

As soon as this workout starts feeling too easy, push the sprint speed up slightly and/or adjust the recovery pace up. The first minute of recovery should feel tough, but then your energy should pick up over the next two minutes so you feel peppy enough to be able to tackle the next sprint segment.

Top 10 exercises to torch calories in front of the TV

Don't be a couch potato - use the time during commercial breaks to fight flab

Don’t be a couch potato – use the time during commercial breaks to fight flab

Got a day where you’re glued to the tube? You’re not alone. American women spend, on average, more than five hours a day watching TV.

But you can use that time wisely by taking advantage of commercial breaks to fight flab. Try some of these calorie-blasting moves to work in a workout without having to stray too far from the couch:

  1. Sets of stairs – Channel those glory days and pretend you’re running bleachers at the stadium; race the kids, take steps two at a time, or even go backwards (but hold onto the rail!)
  2. Jog in place – Alternate “high knees” and “butt-kicks” (heels to your behind) and play with different patterns and speed intervals
  3. Jumping jacks – Traditional doesn’t have to be boring; start with 30 seconds in the standard stance, and then add in sets of “squat-jacks” (keep legs bent) for an added challenge
  4. Show off your chops – Unleash aggression by kicking, punching, jabbing and pummeling away with a series of martial arts-inspired moves
  5. Get hardcore – Pop a squat on the floor and alternate sets of these moves: Bicycle (cycle legs in the air), plank (push-up position on your elbows), superman (belly on the floor, arms and legs raised) and crunches
  6. Flex appeal – Grab the nearest weighted object (milk gallon, soup can, exercise band, small child) and alternate sets of bicep curls, chair dips, side/front shoulder raises and overhead shoulder presses
  7. Pump yourself up – You can’t go wrong with basic upper-body-building moves such as push-ups (alternate hand position), lawnmowers (add weight for more effect) and pull-ups (get a doorway bar or use the kids’ jungle gym!)
  8. Get down with it – Work your way to a better bottom half with calf raises (alternate where your toes point every set – out, forward and in), squats and lunges in place (ok, walking lunges to the fridge and back count, too)
  9. Dance-off – Challenge your friends to a competition where you see who can choreograph the best mid-commercial dance moves
  10. Stretch it out – Wrap up with this important, but oft-overlooked part of every regimen. Simple positions, held for 30-60 seconds each, help to ease sore, tense muscles and increase range of motion while enhancing circulation and coordination

Pregnancy & exercise: What you need to know about working out for two

Jess shares a few shots on how she stays active during her pregnancy

Jess shares a few shots now that she’s working out for two!
Credit: Jess Allen/BlondePonytail.com

You can’t read a celebrity magazine nowadays without seeing some kind of commentary on pregnancy and weight gain, whether women are being criticized for being too thin or too heavy.

All this attention on the pregnant figure got me thinking about the changing attitudes toward exercise and pregnancy and how we still have a long way to go in debunking popular myths about staying active while expecting.

To learn more (the topic hits close to home; my sister gave birth March 18), I sat down with blogger Jess Allen of BlondePonytail.com, a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, adjunct exercise science instructor, CrossFit fanatic, coach’s wife and former Stanford softball player (whew!).

Allen is not only in the final few weeks of her pregnancy, but she’s also uniquely qualified to address some of the most common concerns when it comes to working out for two.

Kinetic Fix: How do you think the views toward exercise during pregnancy have changed over the years?

Jess Allen: Thankfully, our society has embraced fitness and pregnancy in recent years. No longer is pregnancy a sentence for sedentary lifestyle. We are seeing women stay active throughout their pregnancy continuing to run, strength train, CrossFit, with modifications, for the duration!

Why is it important for pregnant women to maintain their fitness routine?

While pregnancy isn’t the time to make gains or set PR’s, maintaining one’s strength will help support the impending weight gain that occurs. I think maintaining one’s fitness throughout pregnancy not only promotes an easier delivery (I sure hope this is the case with me!), but women can recover much faster postpartum by staying active.

Walk us through your own experience: Did you amp up your workouts in anticipation of pregnancy, or did you take a wait-and-see approach?

To be honest, this pregnancy was a bit of a surprise! However, I was in the best shape I’ve been in since college, and that has played a huge role in how great I have felt during this entire pregnancy. My energy level and strength have been consistent. As a result, my weight gain has been manageable, and I’m still teaching classes! However, with some workouts, like CrossFit, I have reduced my intensity and expectations.

What’s been the biggest benefit of working out while pregnant?

By practicing a “fit-pregnancy,” I have received many compliments from women telling me how empowering it is to see! That excites me! I want to continue to set a healthy, active example for my future daughter. Staying fit is simply a lifestyle.

Has anything surprised you about exercising with your “new” body?

My lack of mobility! Now that I have a growing belly, I simply don’t have room to bend and move like I used to!

What’s the biggest myth you’d like to dispel about fitness and pregnancy?

The prescribed heart rate (140 bpm) is merely a ball-park figure. Listen to your body. If you can talk and exercise, you are probably fine to keep going. Likewise, be realistic and forgiving; you won’t be able to push yourself like you did pre-pregnancy, so adjust expectations accordingly.

Any favorite exercises for expectant moms that you can share with us?

Even though the mid-section is growing in girth at this time, planks and the many plank variations, help pregnant women support a growing belly, strengthen upper body, and maintain a strong core. Additionally, I love kettle bell swings for a full-body strength move that gets your heart rate up!

Have you made any plans for getting back to your pre-pregnancy level of fitness once Baby Girl arrives this summer?

I have thought a lot about this already! I know I must be adaptable to a new schedule and routine with a baby, but my plan is to utilize the HIIT (high intensity interval training) home workouts I have created in the past and take advantage of my home “gym.” These workouts are efficient but VERY effective, so I don’t need to spend hours working out. Because it will be summer, I anticipate spending time outside, walking my dog and gradually incorporating running and CrossFit back into my routine. Additionally, I plan to breastfeed, so my food choices will revolve around healthy, nutrient-dense foods so my daughter and I both benefit!

Interested in learning more about exercise while expecting? Check out Jess’s blog, Blonde Ponytail, for great workout tips, training advice, nutrition information and more.

And stay tuned for my post-pregnancy interview with Jess…we’ll discuss her workout and weight-loss plans after Baby Girl Allen makes her debut in just a few short weeks! 

30-minute interval workout to beat treadmill boredom

treadmill-running

If you’re nodding your head at the cartoon above, I’ve got a great workout for you!

Below is my boredom-busting treadmill routine. It’s designed to distract, so over the course of 30 minutes, you’ll be constantly adjusting your speed. And as an added benefit, this interval approach aids in burning extra calories.

So crank up the tunes, get in the zone, and watch the minutes fly by…

30mintreadmillinterval

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Maintaining an incline of one percent throughout the workout can help prevent shinsplints
  • Listen to your body: If any pace feels too fast, modify to suit your fitness level
  • Calorie burn will vary based on a number of factors: Age, weight, intensity and efficiency, to name a few
  • Finally, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program!

6 ways to spring clean your workout routine

spring-fitness

Spring is in the air, and there’s no better way to kick off a healthy start to the season than by getting some new gear, revamping your diet and freshening up that stale winter workout routine. Here are six tips to get you started.

  • Set your baseline. Only about 20 percent of Americans get an annual check-up, but it’s critical to keep tabs on things like blood pressure, cholesterol and vitamin deficiencies before diving into any new workout program.
  • Shake things up. The best way to bust out of a rut is to turn an old habit on its head; swap evening sweat sessions for early morning exercise, try playing with portioning instead of calorie counting, etc.
  • Clean out the fridge. Toss old, expired items, then keep a critical eye out for anything low in nutritional value (soda, processed meats, ice cream). And while you’re at it, raid the cupboards to rid yourself of unhealthy holiday leftovers.
  • Try a new workout. Now’s the perfect time to pick a new program that will really challenge your body and prevent plateauing. But keep it simple; if you subsist solely on cardio, add some weight training – or start a 60- or 90-day program, such as Les Mills Combat, for example.
  • Commit to a race. Adding a goal gives workouts a greater purpose than losing weight or fitting into skinny jeans. Research local road races, and start with a beginner-friendly 5K distance (see Cool Running’s Couch-to-5K program here for inspiration)
  • Get some new gear. Spring is also a great time to update your workout wardrobe. Replace worn-out items with shorts, tanks and tees in breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics. And don’t overlook sports bras, which only have a life span of about six months.