Sunday, December 27, 2015

10 Tips for New Gym Members

If you’re interested in joining a gym this month (or you’re trying to make the most out of your new membership), here are some tips to help you keep it up all year long.
  1. Take advantage of new member benefits. Many gyms have special promotions, especially in January, to attract new members, such as free personal training or health assessments. Find out what’s included with your membership and take advantage of it all! A good personal trainer will help you assess your fitness level and show you some workouts that are right for you. If you aren’t interested in using the benefits after your trial, that’s okay too! Just let your trainer know up front what your goals are for the number of sessions you have, be it to learn to use equipment or figure out a new routine. If you end up signing up for services after a trial, even better! It can help motivate you to keep up your fitness routine.
  2. Make a plan and write it down. Figure out how many times you can realistically get to the gym each week, and plan ahead for which days you’ll go. Then stick with it! It may take a month or more for the gym to become a regular part of your routine, but once it is, we think you’ll find it hard to stop going. It may also help to think of it in terms of how much you’re paying per gym sessions if you go a certain number of times each month, e.g. your $50 membership means it costs $4/session if you go three times a week, or $6/session if you go twice a week, etc.
  3. Find a class you love. Many gyms offer free classes with your membership, so take some time to explore what classes they offer and find one you love! Whether it’s kickboxing, zumba, or spinning, there’s sure to be something that makes you feel great, or an instructor that you find especially encouraging. Make sure you introduce yourself to the instructor, this will help you build your fitness community and keep you connected to others with similar goals.
  4. Reward yourself. If there’s a day when you’re having to really talk up the gym to yourself, try and find something you’re okay only having post-workout. Whether there’s a particular smoothie shop on the way home or a way to indulge yourself a little at home, tell yourself you can’t have it unless you go to the gym for a little extra motivation. Just make sure it’s something still somewhat healthy.
  5. Don’t overdo it. Everyone has their limits, and if you’re just starting a new fitness regimen, you’ll need to find yours. Give yourself rest days when you need them, and take the time to work up to running longer distances or lifting heavier weights. You can always work your way up to doing more, but injuring yourself will only set you back.
  6. Work on eating healthy too. Working out and eating healthy go hand in hand for making you healthier overall, so pair the two together. The trick is to create a sustainable plan. So rather than cutting out something you love altogether, work on limiting certain foods or plan healthy meals to help you make the most of your new fitness plan. Make small changes to your diet like drinking more water. As you feel better, you'll want to make other changes too. 
  7. Ask questions and make friends. There's no shame in being the new kid in class, everyone has been there. Learn through observation and ask questions of the staff and other members. Most people enjoy the feeling of importance when others ask for help. You might earn a training buddy by breaking the ice too!
  8. Dress appropriately. Keep it simple. Clothing should not be too loose and hair should be tied up to keep it from getting caught in machines. Avoid excessive make up and cologne. If you're just getting started, consider purchasing an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and confident, we all like to look good!
  9. Leave it the way you found it. Sounds like something your mom would say. Carry a towel to wipe equipment when you're done. Return weights to the rack after your set. 
  10. Keep going. Don't give up! Try different equipment, classes, times of day. Keep your goals in mind and find the positive in your workouts. 
Try as many tips as you can, and let me know how you do!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

12 Days of Fitness

Everyone gets stressed during the holidays. The weather is cooler, the gifts need to be bought and wrapped, and the kids are on break from school. I have created a fun workout that you can complete with limited equipment, just one set of dumbbells and your are ready to stay fit this season!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Planning your Triathlon Season

It's easy to get caught up in registering for races but FIRST you need to have a plan. Take the time to reflect on your results from this season. Identify strengths and weakness in each discipline.
Analyze the time and money you spent training.

Then create a budget, will you have a coach this season? Races? Travel? Babysitting? From here, look at the calendar and start making a list of the races that will either develop your weaknesses or optimize your strengths.

Below is an article to help you choose your race line up for 2016!

10 Tips

Friday, October 23, 2015

Keys to Good Run Form

The quality of your workout is often more important than the quantity. Good running technique can influence your speed, injury risk, and comfort. On your next run, ask yourself if you are applying the 5 keys outlined below. 
1. Foot strike. Your foot should land underneath your body—not in front of it. Many runners will over-stride in an effort to run farther. As a result, your forward momentum is stunted by the angle of your foot on the ground.
2. Run tall. Basically this one is really simple—you should be running tall and not hunched over. Focus on running with your chest proud and your shoulders down. This rings true when running up and down inclines as well.
3. Use a quick cadence. Cadence is often discussed when talking to triathletes and cyclists while on the bike. It is also important when running.  When you bring your feet down (right underneath your body), make sure you are picking them back up again quickly. Aim for a cadence of 85-95 steps per minute on each leg. A good way to check is to count the number of times your foot touches the ground on the right side for 20 seconds, then multiply by 3. 
4. Arms at side.  Many runners will move their arms across their bodies or rotate through their trunk. Try to remember you want your arms to pump you forward, not diagonal. My old track coach used to say that you should move your arms like you would if you were playing tug of war, forward and backward at a 90 degree angle. 
5. Head up. You should look ahead about 5 feet to keep your body in alignment. Head position works together to keep the chest tall and to concentrate on the posterior motion that helps your forward momentum. I often find this hardest to accomplish when running on the treadmill, I'm vertically challenged so to watch the TV, I have to raise my head. 
The cool thing is that all these form tips flow together. If I’m running tall, my head tends to be up high. If I’m hitting my cadence, then I’m naturally bringing my foot down right where it should land. If all those other things are on point, then my arms are naturally pumping back and forth at my side.
Do you focus on form when you run?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

TRX for Athletes

I recently went to an instructor certification to use the TRX Suspension Trainer for my clients. Among the exercises that we learned, I was able to find a focus for my athletes too. The benefits of suspension training include challenging the muscles by changing your center of gravity, improving joint stability, increasing stabilization through balance, and performing functional movements to build proper muscle patterns. Above all, TRX is a full body workout that requires only ONE tool!

The main objective of the suspension straps is to create proximal (near the center/core) stability while improving distal (away from the center) mobility. Below is a video describing this philosophy.
TRX Objective

As an instructor, my primary objective is to create a safe and effective workout. To do this, I first focus on the foundation movement of the plank.
Mastering the TRX Plank

Next, I focus on recognizing the body as a series of masses and spaces. The head is a mass, the neck a space. The torso is a mass, the waist a space. To maintain proper form, those masses and spaces need to be in place.
TRX- Masses and Spaces

Sample Class:
Warm Up:
Deep squat-stretch
Squat Row
Hip Extension
Wall Slide
T-Spine rotation
Main Set: 
Perform each exercise for 10 repetitions. Repeat the circuit 3-5 times with 1 minute rest between circuits.
Step back lunge
Hamstring curl
Chest press
Squat to pistol
Tricep press
Bicep Curl
Side Plank
Hip hinge
Alternating leg lift
Kneeling hip flexor

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Swim Cap Fashion Statement

The first hurdle to improving your swim is...getting in the water! Whether it is body image, the cost of a new suit, or having the tools for drills, many of us can find reasons to avoid the swim. In addition to a suit and goggles, a fun swim cap can help you find the mindset to jump on in! Graphic Swim Caps

Like many of us collect shoes, I have several caps on hand to wear with my changing mood. Below are some of my favorites.

When I'm not feeling the workout.
When I'm feeling like a superstar!

When I feel girly and fun!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Prepare for the Worst and Hope for the Best

You can't control everything that will happen on race day but you can prepare your mind and body for the different scenarios that appear. Your goal in training is not to simply train your body for the distance but to train your mind to work through the variables that effect race day. You will gain confidence on race day if you practice when weather is unsavory, nutrition is subpar, gear is flawed. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Check out this article about preparing for race day dilemas.

Monday, August 10, 2015

From Cruising to Race Ready

Riding a bike is easy enough but turning your leisurely ride into an athletic activity increases the difficulty level. To improve, you need to reset your frame of mind from easy-going to training.

Ride more frequently.
We call it time in the saddle. First you must spend time getting used to the saddle, this is frequency and duration. Start with 1 day/week for an hour and build up your stamina and endurance.

Vary intensity level.
As you build endurance into your cycling regimen, add intensity too. Ride faster and harder for short periods of time to improve the adaptations of muscle memory. You can vary the speed or the terrain to improve strength. Consider short intervals of 5 minutes hard followed by 2 minutes easy or ride fast to the next stop sign then recover.

Develop technique and safe handling.
As you progress your rides onto roadways, it is important to gain bike handling skills. these include cornering, descending, passing, changing gears, and reaching for hydration. If possible find a friend or local club that can help teach you the rules of the road. You will need to practice your skills before setting out group rides to keep all cyclists safe. Remember that bicycles follow the same laws as motor vehicles.

Newbie mistakes.
  • Clothing/Gear. Do not wear underwear under your cycling shorts, a visor under your helmet, work out shorts (no one wants to see your crack), sunglasses that are not athletic. 
  • Bike Gear. You must always ride with the tools necessary to care for bike maintenance issues that may arise. Most cyclists have a kit/bag that attaches to the bike containing a flat repair kit, form of identification/emergency contact/insurance, and $5-10. If you do not know how to change a flat, watch  this Video or attend a free clinic at a local bike shop (LBS). A majority of flats will occur on the rear wheel, watch this video to learn how to remove the rear wheel Video
  • "Mashing" or riding with a low cadence. Cadence is the number of revolutions per minute (RPM) you make when pedaling. If you are in a gear that is too big, you may be wasting energy. To check your cadence, count the number of times your right knee comes up in 30 seconds then multiple that number by 2. Your goal is between 85-100 RPMs. You can also use a computer but that may be an expense that you haven't made yet. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Performance Triad- Building Strength and Aerobic Capacity

Performance Triad

  1. Posterior chain enhancement
    • Spinal erectors, glutes, hamstrings
  2. Push/Pull movements
    • Horizontal pushing exercises- bench press, chest press, flyes
    • Horizontal pulling exercises - rows
    • Vertical pushing exercises- shoulder press, deltoid raises
    • Vertical pulling exercises- pull ups, chin ups, lat pull downs
  3. Heart rate elevation
    • Think boot camp moves like burpees, mountain climbers, jump squats, plyo lunges, shuffle drills, etc

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is a great way to efficiently and effectively maximize performance gains in the gym. The goal is to move between exercises quickly with little rest to keep the h
eart rate up while gaining balance and strength. There are many methods for HIIT including EMOM, Tabata, Crossfit, and gym based workouts.

EMOM or Every Minute on the Minute is an interval session. Best done in 12 minutes or less. You choose 2 exercises with a set repetition and repeat the set every minute. You should have 10-20 seconds to rest between sets. For example: 10 burpees + 10 deep squats then you rest the remainder of the minute. *Note that EMOMs are ever-changing in duration or the number of repetitions within the set. The goal is aerobic training while building strength.

Tabata is a method using intervals of 20 seconds work/ 10 seconds recovery repeated 8 times. Check out this article to learn more about the science of Tabata Intervals.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Strength Training for Athletes

Whether you consider yourself an athlete or a recreational enthusiast, strength training is an important part of your season.

Benefits of strength training:

  • Weight Loss- muscle burns more calories than fat. The more muscle vs fat in your body, the higher the calorie burn.
  • Bone and Muscle Mass- improving strength will counteract the effects of aging. After puberty, we lose about 1% of mass each year, adding strength regimen will help prevent those losses.
  • Stronger and Fitter- whether through isometric or isotonic training, your muscles will break down and rebuild stronger than before. Remember to allow muscles to adequately recover between sessions.
  • Improve Body Mechanics- coordination, balance, flexibility, and posture are all effected by strength training. As we age, these become more important as injuries from falls increases.

For many beginners, it is difficult to determine how to get started. I suggest two workouts each week. The first is a short session, about 30 minutes, and is focused on lifting heavier weight in a controlled environment (often machine assisted). The second session is longer, about 60 minutes, and is focused on intensity, range of motion, and usually includes a cardio component so that in addition to the strength benefits the cardio respiratory system is also challenged. When you have more time to commit, add a third session that focuses on total body movements with some cardio bursts to keep the heart rate up.

Sample Schedule.

Short Session- Goal is a full body workout. 1-2 sets of each exercise with between 8-12 repetitions. Your goal is to fatigue/challenge the muscle using good form and breathing techniques. In order to move quickly between exercises and limit rest time, you will alternate upper and lower body. Always start with larger muscle groups then finish with the smaller, more supportive muscles.

  • Latissimus Pull Down- cable or pin-select machine
  • Leg Press
  • Back Row
  • Abdominal (choices include plank, roll up/down, leg lifts)
  • Bicep Curl
  • Leg Extension
  • Tricep Press Down
  • Leg Curl 
  • Shoulder Press or Raise

Long Session- Goal is a full body workout with plyometric bursts to increase the calorie burn. You will complete 10 repetitions of each exercise in quick succession. After each plyometric activity, you have the option to rest 1 minute before beginning again. Repeat the circuit until your session is complete.

  • Flutter Kicks
  • Abbductor/ Adductor - band
  • Chest Press on stability ball
  • Dead Lift
  • Skaters
  • Bridge
  • Split Squat
  • Back Row
  • Bicep Curl
  • Plyometric Lunge
  • Cross Crawl
  • Bird/Dog
  • Tricep Kickback
  • Front Raise
  • Mountain Climber
Card Deck Strength Session 1

Card Deck Strength Session 2

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Running with Purpose

I often talk about training being more about focus than distance or time. Every workout should have a focus so that your time is spent efficiently. My three favorite run workouts are listed and described below.

Strong Finish.
Regardless of time/distance of the workout, it is always a good idea to train your body and mind to finish strong. Your goal is to run the first 2/3 of your workout at a moderate pace then spend the last 1/3 at race pace or faster. Example: 45 minute run. 34 minutes at moderate pace then 11 minutes at race pace.

Mid-Tempo Sandwich.
Many athletes are interested in increasing their speed/average pace. To achieve this workout, start at a moderate to relaxed pace to warm up then spend the middle of the run in a tempo/race pace. Finish with a relaxed or moderate pace. Example: 45 minute run. 10 minutes warm up then increase pace to feel uncomfortable for 30 minutes. Finish with 5 minutes at an easy pace to cool down.

Intervals are an excellent method to burn calories and increase pace. Generally, intervals are performed at a 1:2 ratio of work to recovery. Interval runs can be performed on a track using distance or using time on the road/trail. Work pace should feel uncomfortably fast while the recovery pace is either relaxed pace or walking. Reducing the walking during recovery will increase the calorie burn and the amount of work accomplished.  Example: 45 minute run. 10 minutes to warm up at an easy pace. Five rounds of 2 minutes at an uncomfortable pace: 4 minutes recovery. Finish with 5 minutes at a relaxed pace to cool down.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

USA Triathlon Sanctioned Events & Certified Officials

As a USA Triathlon Official, I am often asked about the requirements for race sanctioning and the benefits of having an Official at the race. For specific details click here. To summarize, a race that is sanctioned has provided documents that support a safe race including medical, volunteers, and course details. After receiving a sanction, the race is insured and can utilize officials.

The best way to enforce the competitive rules is to request USAT Certified Officials although they are not required. If Officials are not present at a race, rule enforcement becomes the Race Director's responsibility.

For information about becoming a USAT Certified Official, click here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Beat the Trainer Blues

Today I was faced with a challenge...keep to the training plan or make yet another excuse???

The scene. It is 40 degrees with high winds making the "feels like" temps in the low 30's - WAY too cold for an outdoor ride. I have made a LOT of excuses for missing my cycling goals.

I started the day with an extended ride/cycling class at the gym. 1.5 hours later, I felt really good but that was only half of the time that I was due to ride today. I remained optimistic that I would get on the trainer after getting the kids to school. My plan was to set up in front of the television and work my way through some shows! This was not the day to ride Trainer Road, I was just interested in saddle time.

Ready to roll!
As the show started, I realized I had the opportunity to put some focus and fun into the ride. I pedaled at a moderate pace while the show was on then cranked up the effort during the commercials. After 90 minutes, it was was at least SIX 2-3 minute intervals.

I feel good about accomplishing my goal...saddle time! Now to work through this cold weather and keep moving forward.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

USAT SMW Award Banquet

It's like a date night for us!
My husband and I recently attended the USAT South Midwest Annual Banquet because I was slated to receive the Official of the Year award. It meant some time alone and a trip to Shreveport, Louisiana. Unfortunately, few award recipients were present. We were able to recognize the inductee to the Hall of Fame and support other athletes while enjoying a catered dinner with lots of door prizes. In addition to my award, I also took home an entry to the Degray Lake Triathlon Festival in August! DeGray Lake Events
The Regional Coordinator that supports the assignment of Officials, Doug Harvey.

My award will take it's place in my hurt locker along side the medals and other trophies. It's great to be recognized for my hard work and commitment to the sport. It's not always easy to be the enforcer of the rules but it is great to see that the race was fair for everyone.