Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2 TRX workouts to build strength and burn lots of calories

With summer quickly coming to a close, outdoor strength workouts may not seem as enticing.  Summer Bootcamps are winding down, and your weekly training sessions at the park don't seem as motivating.  However, with the portability of the TRX Suspension System, you can still take advantage of the cooler temps while getting in a great workout.

I have put together 2 circuit that will build muscle and shed tons of calories.  The number of circuits you do depends on your fitness level.  I would recommend starting with 1 round of each circuit and if you a re still feeling the need for more, then try to complete another round of each. 

Before beginning either of these circuits, make sure to warm up good for 15-20 min. with some easy cardio movements, and some light dynamic stretching.  These versions are not designed for beginners, so if you are new to lifting or have never used the TRX, I wold not advise you try these.

Make sure to stay hydrated during this workout, it's going to make you sweat.

Circuit 1:  Complete each exercise for the specified number for reps and rest only as needed between exercises.  When finished with the entire circuit, rest 2 min. before starting the next circuit.  Videos of each exercise are provided below...

     1.  30 reps - Sprinter Start (L) (with hop optional)
     2.  30 reps - Sprinter Start (R) (with hop optional)
     3.  20 reps - Oblique Crunches
     4.  30 reps - Single Leg Squat (L) (with hop optional)
     5.  30 reps - Single Leg Squat (R) (with hop optional)


Circuit 2:  Complete 20 reps for each of the following exercises, resting 15 sec. between exercises.  When finished with this circuit rest 2 min. and either cool down or start circuit 1 again for an even greater challenge. Exercise video provided below...

     1.  20 reps - Atomic Pushups
     2.  20 reps - Low Row
     3.  20 reps - Suspended Lunge (L) (with hop optional) 
     4.  20 reps - Suspended Lunge (R) (with hop optional)
     5.  20 reps - Hip Press
     6.  20 reps - Biceps Clutch Curls


When finished with your workout, make sure to cool down and do some easy static stretching for 10-15 min.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ski Conditioning

With cooler temps and winter approaching, it's time to start thinking about preparing for the ski season.  Sure you may have purchased some new skis, or new pair of boots, but what about your conditioning?  Now is the time to begin your pre-season ski conditioning program so that when the snow falls your body and joints will be better prepared for the demands of skiing and avoid injury.

One third of all injuries during skiing is to the knee joint, and a medial collateral ligament sprain is the most common.  Other injuries include the shoulders, thumb and head.  Skiing injuries have significantly reduced over the last 20 years due to the improvements in equipment, but this doesn't mean that having a solid conditioning program won't help make your ski season more enjoyable.

When preparing for your pre-season conditioning, you need to have a plan.  The plan should begin by assessing your current fitness level.  Have you been active during the summer, or have you been sedentary? If the answer is sedentary, then you will need to begin by focusing on improving your cardiovascular fitness.

A comprehensive ski conditioning program should consists of the following components:
        1.  developing the cardiovascular system
        2.  strength training
        3.  improving flexibility
        4.  balance and agility
        5.  power and explosiveness (plyometrics)

Developing the cardiovascular system involves improving your aerobic base.  Building the foundation of the aerobic base will allow everything else to fall into place.  If you have been active all summer (cycling, hiking, etc.) then you might be able to skip this component.  However, if you have been inactive during the summer, spend about 6 weeks improving your cardiovascular system through less intensity activities.  You'll want to spend 30-60 minutes of exercise that is somewhat challenging but still allows you to carry on a conversation.  Spend three to five days a week, and you can choose from running, cycling, hiking, or swimming as options.  If you prefer to workout indoors, then the stairclimber, row machine, or eliptical are also good options.  After 6 weeks of aerobic conditioning, include a few weeks of high intensity work; such as intervals or even tabata wokouts.  You can begin with shorter duration intervals (1-2 min. efforts) mixed with equal recovery times, and then build up to 3-5 min. of effort with less recovery time.  Ideally you'll want to spend about 15-20 minutes of high intensity per workout, two days a week and reduce the number of endurance workouts to 2-3 days.

Strength training is the next component, and could begin with your aerobic training initially.  Two to three days a week is sufficient to build the strength needed to stabilize your joints while skiing different snow conditions.  You should focus most of the workouts on the lower body, since your legs will be the contact point with your skis and the snow.  However, you'll also need to strengthen your upper body muscles as well, shoulders and back.  Some good compound leg exercises (multi-joint) can include squats, step ups, leg press and wall sits.  For upper body, shoulder presses, pullups or lat pulldowns, and alternating 1-arm dumbbell presses are good options.  You'll also want to work on developing better core strength, especially rotational movements,; such as bicycle crunches, hi to low cable chops, or even side to side torso twists while squatting on a Bosu Ball.

As with any strength program, flexibility should also be incorporated to maintain elasticity in the muscles.  Stretching should follow your workout, and should include long, slow, and controlled reps of 15-20 sec holds.  Stretch the quads, calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, chest, and shoulders. If you have access to a foam roller this can help break up any tightness in the muscle and act as a self-massage device.  I also use the TRX to help get an even greater stretch for certain muscle groups.

Next you'll want to focus on your balance and agility.  Skiing doesn't occur on a smooth surface, the terrain is often undulating and bumpy, and even greater so if you are a mogul skier.  You'll need to develop your balance in order to sustain your body upright on your skis.  Thanks to the various types of equipment available this can be accomplished in the gym.  You can use a balance board for squats, a Bosu Ball for 1-leg squats or lunges, an agility ladder for simulating the slalom ski movement, or even a Swiss ball for kneeling on.  When using some of these pieces of equipment, make sure you have a safe environment (clear a space free of clutter) around you because you will be working with less stability.  Start slowly with short duration and build to longer holds and really challenge your balance.

The final component is building explosiveness and power.  This can be accomplished by incorporating plyometric exercises, such as jumping or bounding.  Keep these types of workouts to no more than 1-2 session per week due to the demands on the joints.  The recovery between workouts will need to be longer for these types of exercises.  Plyometrics is used to develop power, so movements are done very fast and explosively, yet still under control.   Examples of plyometrics includes, box jumps, broad jumps, hurdle jumps, and even split lunge jumps (great for tele skiers).  Improvements on reaction time occur during this phase.  For most plyometric exercises, 6-8 reps is adequate, and you'll want to allow full recovery between sets.

So there you have it, all the tools needed to prepare for a successful upcoming ski season.  If you have been inactive during the last few months, it may be a good idea to get a physical from your primary care physician before beginning a conditioning program.    

Thursday, September 12, 2013

racing, really?

This coming weekend I will be pinning a race number on my bike for the FIRST time this season.  It's hard for me to even say that, because typically I will have done about 15 races by this time of the year.  I honestly can say that I have not missed racing every other weekend, or for that matter training on my bike 4-5 days a week.  I've kept myself busy doing many other activities, and quite frankly have enjoyed it.

I am looking forward to this weekend because I will be racing in one of my favorite areas to ride in Oregon, Oakridge.   The Fat 55 Mountain Bike Marathon MTB is, you guessed it , a 55 mile race.  I have been training for this race for only 1 month, since the beginning of August.  My longest ride has been 2.5 hrs, so it will be interesting to see how my fitness from other activities helps me through this race.  I'm heading down to have fun, but I'm a competitor so I would be lying if I said I didn't want to do well.

It's kind of funny, but the only reason why I am doing this race is because I want to ride in Oakridge.   I wouldn't normally take the time to drive the 2.5-3 hrs down to Oakridge because it's to convenient to just ride form your back door here in Bend and be on a trail in 10 min.  So this way, I at least have an excuse to go down there.  Besides, the 12 rides that I have done have all been on Central Oregon's dusty trails, so it will be nice to ride on some black dirt trails.

Hope to see some familiar faces as I toe the line for my one race.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to increase weight and reps

For athletes looking for a successful training program, knowing how to select the weight and reps can be a vital component to seeing results or not.  Athletes and coaches/trainers can become frustrated by the lack of progress their program/s delivers.  When this happens, often times athletes or coaches will turn to supplements, or gimmick devices, or even unconventional exercises.

In order to get results, you have to stick with a scheduled plan and use exercises that have been used for many years that incorporate multi-joints, and multi muscle groups.  Also, constantly changing your program from week to week will not get the results you want or need either.

The body is amazing at adapting to the load or stimulus that we place on it.  Our muscles, however, are not that smart.  They don;t know if the resistance is coming from a barbell, a machine, or any other piece of equipment.  A strength training program must be challenging and progressive.

According to Robert Taylor, owner of SMARTER Team Training, the most efficient way to challenge your muscles and make gains is with the double-progressive method of overload.  What this means is that you must either increase the number of reps, or increase the amount of weight you use on an exercise every workout.

photo credit -

If for instance you were selecting an exercises to lift in the range of 8-12 reps,  and you can complete 8-10 reps with good form, keep the weight the same but try to add 1 rep to the next set or next workout.  When you can lift the weight 12 reps or more, and a little weight and return back to your goal of at least 8 reps for the exercise.

Using proper form during each movement is important.  If you have to use momentum to lift the weight then the weight is too heavy.  Don't cheat yourself by trying to impress your friends with the amount of weight you can lift if sacrificing form.

The ultimate goal is to increase the number of reps initially, but to increase the weight over time.  Small increases will allow you to see the results you want.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weekend Workout #27

Wow, it has been a long time since my last post.  I've been overwhelmed with summer activities and other tasks that I have been working on for work.  Lots going on, I hope you all have been keeping active on the weekend (and during the week for that matter too).

With school now back in session, you might have more free time and think that now is the time to resume strength training again.  If that is the case, start slowly and allow time for your muscles to get accustomed to the stress/load you will place on them.

If you have not done any strength training over the past 1-2 months, it won't take much to make the muscles sore.   There's no need to try and lift heavy weights or do interval sets for your cardio workouts.  Instead, select lighter weight and focus on constant, steady cardio at a conversation pace.

This doesn't need to last too long, especially if you are a seasoned weight lifter.  However, allow yourself 3-4 weeks of transition before ramping things up in the gym.  Completing 2 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, and 2 -3 days a week will be enough.  Then older you are the longer you r body will need to recover between workouts, but typically 1-2 days of rest between workouts should allow your muscles enough time to repair themselves.

Here is a simple workout you can do this coming weekend to kick-start your "end of summer" workout routine and get ready for fall/winter activities.

Complete all exercises one after the other without any rest, and then rest 60 sec between sets. Complete 2-3 sets.

Warm up (10-15 min)
x2 min. easy jog
x20 jumping jacks
x10 bodyweight squats
x8 push ups
x10 jumping jacks
x10 arm circles (both directions) 

Workout (20 min)
x15 bodyweight squats
x12 dumbbell overhead shoulder press (keep weight light)
x30 sec jump rope (if you don't have a rope, jump simulate like you do)
x6ea. alternating forward lunges
x12 seated rows OR TRX rows (keep weight light if doing seated rows)
x30 sec jump rope
x5 burpees (with push up and hop)

Repeat x1-2 times