Workouts of Late

This week, I am down 1.8 pounds.

I’ve collected quite a few sweaty selfies of late thanks to my fitness Instagram- Stronger with Caitlin. Here’s a few of them, along with what I’ve been doing for my workouts lately.

Lots of running.

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Summer into fall is my absolute favorite time to run and I always pick up my pace and length once the weather cools down just a bit. Of course, I try to run outside in the winter, but it’s never for as long. I also detest the treadmill and cannot go for miles unless I’m somehow in a trance-like state.

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I’m excited to see how fast and far I can go now that I’m dropping a few extra pounds. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, ranging from True Crime to Disney World themed, during my workouts, although I’ll always return to my favorite playlists and upbeat musicals when I just want to cruise.

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I’ve also been a sweaty mess during my strength training workouts, which I do three times a week. I try to add 15-20 minutes of faster cardio to the end or throughout. My cardio of choice on these days has been jump roping. It’s such a great workout that you don’t have to suffer through for an extended amount of time. I like to do a set of jumps 50-100 after each set of exercises to get the heart rate UP.

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In conclusion, I aim for six days a week of challenging workouts. 3 running days and 3 strength training days. Thus far, I’ve been enjoying the results.

Stay-tuned for the fall when I’ll be mixing things up!

Love Letter to Exercise

It was the summer before my senior year of college and I had no idea what to pursue in my professional life, but I knew I did not want to present myself to the world in my current condition. I was obese, self-conscious, and overwhelmed. Rather than sink further into this black hole, I decided to pull myself out of it.

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After work, every afternoon, I put in 15 minutes on the clunky elliptical we had in the basement. I blasted music and endured it. As the days and weeks passed, I started putting on episodes of favorite shows, like Friends and Golden Girls, and worked until the end. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the effort, the slick sweat and short of breath feelings grew addictive.

I could go for an hour, playing with speeds and intensities. I was losing weight and I felt good about myself for the first time ever. I was in complete control, pushing my body to limits I thought I would forever detest. My body craved more. After my elliptical session, I would do sets of jumping jacks and started lifting the light weights we had lounging around. By the end of the summer, I was more determined than I had ever been in my life and I knew I would keep going once I was back in school.

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At my college, there were two gyms- one in the main building of campus and the other in the basement of a dorm. I loved both, they became safe spaces of comfort. Lifting weights awakened my body in new ways. I’d feel sore the next day, but it was a result of achievement rather than a painful deterrent. I had no knowledge about how to lift weights, no idea what exercise worked what muscle group, I just tried what I saw other people in the gym doing, or what I read about online.

In these days, I racked up one-two hours every day at the gym. It’s not what I recommend for everyone, nor something that is doable for busy people, but it was my saving grace. Gone was the anxious girl who ate her emotions. I found my strength.

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February of that year, I decided to tackle the treadmill. Growing up, I loved playing sports, but I hated to run. I started at 30 minutes, walking for 4 minutes and running for 1 minute in 5 minute increments. By Red Sox opening day that year, I took my runs to the outdoor track down the street and was running 3-4 miles at a time. I was a runner- and that is not something I offer lightly. To this day, I am not quick or smooth or a model of running perfection by any means, but I can run for miles and I will never forget what that means to the girl in the summer of 2011.

By graduation, approximately one year later, I was 100 pounds down, exercising six days a week and maintaining much healthier (and happier) eating habits. I was sad to be leaving school, but I was excited to see what the future held. That is not to say that I didn’t struggle after. I’m still confused as to what to do in my professional life in many ways, but that is the product of living.

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But this journey that I continue on, allowed me to be okay with putting myself out into the world, to experience and experiment. I tried several different jobs and trusted my instincts enough to walk away from something that wasn’t right for me. I studied to become a personal trainer and help others who struggle like me or just need a little guidance and push. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams and listened to my heart when I knew it was time to come home to my family.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect. I eat too much, I have a lazy exercise day or choose to gasp- take two days off from the gym sometimes- but mostly, I’ve maintained these healthy habits. Eating is a large part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy life, but exercise was my gateway. Without it, I would not have the strength to endure, two of my favorite words.

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Exercise is my time. No matter what, I will always have that hour in my day that I take for myself. It doesn’t have to be a full hour, it doesn’t have to be a perfect mixture of cardio and strength training, and it doesn’t always have to be crushing and exhausting.

Embrace the messiness of fitness- the sweat, the confusion, the pain, the results. It does wondrous things for the body, physically and mentally.

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All About Stretching

One part of exercise that is not my expertise is stretching. I do not do it enough. I’m big enough of a woman and personal trainer to admit this. I do urge my clients to do this, especially when they come in talking about lower back pain and other various aches. Stretching is important to keeping the body limber because whether you’re sitting, standing, or a mixture of both all day, odds are, your body is feeling some kind of pain. This appears only to worsen as you age.

When to Stretch?

At the end of your workout! The best way to warm-up the body to prepare for an exercise routine is to start moving. I’ll dive further into this in another post, but take 5-10 minutes at the beginning to jump on the treadmill, a bike, or loosen up with some jumping jacks or squats. Get that body moving through a dynamic- movement- stretching period.

Once you’ve made your way through your cardio and/or your strength training, take another 5-15 minutes and stretch. The body will be nice and warmed up and ready to relax after all it just endured.

Why Stretch?

Stretching helps alleviate all those aches and pains. The body, as does the mind, tackles a multitude of obstacles during the day that leads to soreness and strain, especially if you add a workout on top of it. The muscle is tight and needs to unclench. Another excellent way to do this is by foam rolling, which I can get into further at another time.

Stretching also helps the body get better. The way strength training works is the effort breaks down the muscle and rest helps it repair, allowing the muscles to strengthen. It helps the blood to flow better and prevents injuries.

My Favorite Stretches

As you can see, I was able to complete these stretches in the comfort of my own home, crazy cat and dog included!

Biceps and Triceps

Back and Chest

Shoulders

Quads

Hamstrings

Hips

Fun Weekend Things

Welcome back from the weekend! I hope it treated you right and that Monday is doing the same.

My weekend started early Friday afternoon when I got off work and headed to a local amusement park with my mom. I’m not a huge daredevil in real life, but I do love a thrilling roller coaster!

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On Saturday, I started my day with this egg roll-up stuffed with scrambled eggs, bell peppers, mozzarella, and turkey pepperoni for a total of 3 points.

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I spent a good chunk of the day reading a mystery I couldn’t put down! For once, I wasn’t disappointed by the ending and it was a solid page-turner. I did tear myself away to fit in a great workout I was really feeling.

Doing a lot of barbell work, I focused on heavy weights 3 sets of 10 reps and did 100 jumps on the jump rope after each exercise. 5 upper body exercises, 5 lower body, and 2 core, which totaled to 1200 jumps! I enjoyed mixing the strength and cardio because it kept things moving and didn’t feel tedious. I also worked up a good sweat.

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For lunch, I heated up some chicken and veggie potstickers with lots of veggies- bell peppers, broccoli slaw, and bok choy- with a touch of hoisin sauce. Altogether, the meal was 7 points.

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I headed down to the park to meet up with my sister and her family and spent some quality baby time. She was feeling the not-so-hot weather and promptly napped.

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By dinner time, I was hungry! I grilled up chicken and veggies and splurged with some whole wheat pasta. I mixed everything with a lighter alfredo sauce and a sprinkling of cheese for a total of 13 points!

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Since it’s the weekend and I had most of my weekly points remaining, I very much savored some ice cream, while watching a movie- Table 19- which didn’t get great reviews but was free on HBO. I actually thought it was cute.

Sunday morning started with a cheese omelette, piece of toast, and raspberries.

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Then it was time for a muggy run! 3.1 solid miles of sweat.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent celebrating my Grandma’s birthday. It was nice to spend time with family and celebrate the day.

Happy birthday, Grandma!

Compound Exercises- Efficient & Effective

We’re back with another edition of Workout Wednesday!

Today, I want to discuss compound movements and the benefits of lifting heavy weights.

Compound movements work two or more major muscle groups at the same time, essentially meaning, getting more for your buck. Everyone wants their workout to be efficient and effective, so selecting moves to make optimal progress is vital.

Thanks to my friend Eva for the pics!

  1. Thrusters [quads & shoulders]- with the barbell (or dumbbells) in front, squat down and do an overhead press as you come back to standing
  1. Stiff-Leg Deadlifts [hamstrings & back]- with the barbell (or any piece of equipment really), thrust out your butt and hips and lower your upper body parallel to the ground, keeping a slight bend in your knees
  1. KB Swings [all over]- with the kettle bell, stand about shoulder-length about, bend your knees and snap up your hips to swing the kettle bell just above shoulder level
  1. Push-ups [chest, shoulders, triceps, core]- against the wall, on your knees, or in the full position, keep your neck stable as you lean down and bend your arms at a slight angle
  1. Box Jumps [quads, hamstrings, and glutes]- with added elevation or not, bend your knees and drive up and forward and as you land on the platform, squat down for a quiet and steady landing
  1. Hanging Leg Raises [all over core]- hanging from the bar or using the captain’s chair, bring your knees to your chest

In six moves, you get a solid total body workout. Try out these exercises completing 4 sets of 8 reps at a heavy, but manageable weight.

Finish with a round of HIIT cardio, such as jump roping- my current favorite- or sprints on the bike.

 

 

Arm Day

I kicked off a new workout routine and it’s been killer. While I love a good total body workout, there’s something to be said about the effectiveness of the split routine.

For this training schedule, I opted to break things up as follows:

Day One: Biceps, Triceps, Shoulders

Day Two: Quads and Glutes

Day Three: Chest and Back

Day Four: Hamstrings and Ab/Adductors

Day Five: Total Body

For each day, I always include core and some form of cardio. The breakdown is roughly 30x10x20—30 minutes strength training, 10 minutes core, 20 minutes cardio.

On arm day, I break each segment up by muscle group and perform three exercises each. One at the most heaviest with 4 sets of 8 reps, the second with medium weight at 4 sets of 10 reps, and the third at the lightest weight at 4 sets of 12 reps.

Take a look:

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After three core exercises- incline oblique lean downs, plank walkouts, bicycle crunches- I hope on the bike to spin it out for around 20+ minutes.

Give it a try! Check back next week for the next portion.

go forth…and be sweaty

I talk an awful lot about strength training around here and while it is an integral part of any training routine, cardio is still important too.

For me, cardio is often a long run or session on the spin bike, but on days when I want something to top off my weight training, I’ll turn to quick cardio bursts.

You can perform the circuit below anywhere between 1 and 5 times, depending on your timeframe and how your body feels. This is also a great workout you can do outside, at home, on vacation, or wherever life takes you. All you’d need is a jump rope, but even that motion can be mimicked without.

Sweat fiercely.

Cardio without Machines

*I apologize in advance for the triple whammy of burpees.