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

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When Your Legs Feel Strong, Run With It!

Workouts this week were a bit upset due to the storm. On Wednesday, I was sore from all the shoveling and standing all day, so I didn’t do any sort of official workout. I was back to it on Thursday for my early morning workout, despite growing quickly accustomed to sleeping in a tad later than 5:00 AM!

On Thursday, my legs were itching for some quality cardio, so I started out with a body strength workout, including box jumps, dips, lunges, squats, kickbacks, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, crunches, Russian twists, and finishing up with a few planks. After, I hopped onto the treadmill for a run that left me nice and sweaty.

Friday morning was difficult to get up. Due to a few flakes still falling, I wasn’t certain if it was too slippery at that point, but things didn’t seem bad, so I got my butt out of bed and to the gym. I went through a difficult dumbbell strength routine, performing 2 sets of 12 reps, 1 set of 10 reps, 1 set of 8 reps, 1 set of 6 reps, and 1 set of 4 reps. My arms and shoulders were quite sore throughout the day after that. To top off my workout, I hopped onto the elliptical for 25 minutes of interval training.

I met my sister at the gym on Saturday night before we went out for dinner and led us through a strength routine using medicine and stability balls. We finished with planks before moving onto cardio. I got back onto the treadmill and found I was feeling very strong and felt the urge to run faster than usual. When that happens, you can’t fight it, because so often it’s the opposite and you’re itching to get it over with! I was sad when I ended up .08 away from an even 3 miles because the gym was closing and I had to leave!

Knowing that it would be busy on Sunday morning due to the big game later on, I headed out for a late morning workout expecting to be frazzled by all the people. It actually wasn’t too bad and I was able to get through a barbell strength routine. I did my usual routine, but mixed up my sets and reps to trick my body. I did 2 sets of ten reps, 2 sets of 8 reps, and 2 sets of 6 reps, going up in weight each time. For my bench presses, I tacked on 2 sets of 4 reps and was able to lift 100 pounds! It was pretty exciting, considering I can’t be too risky when I don’t have anyone spotting me. For my cardio, I did 25 minutes on the elliptical, but then I was still riding high on those endorphins and decided to fit in another 15 minutes of running.

Monday morning with the looming snow and a series of heavy workouts the days before was a scheduled rest day. Have no fear, I got plenty of movement in with the shoveling once again. It was a little painful to hear the alarm blaring on Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM, but I got myself up and fit in a body strength routine, some Yoga, and a quick bike ride at home.  The snow can’t keep me down!

Some kettle bells were on the menu as I completed a few sets of swings, deadlifts, shoulder raises, high lifts, and rows. After, I hopped on the treadmill for a run, which felt good to get moving after being held in captivity due to all the snow. So. Much. Snow.

It’s good to know that even though there are days when working out seems overwhelming or like the last thing your body wants to do, there are also days when you feel super strong and like you could conquer the world. The important thing is to always listen to your body!

Baby It’s Cold Outside For A Run, But It Can Still Be Done

Workouts this past week started with that long run I mentioned I was going to do on Wednesday, but then I delayed it until Thursday. I’ve been making the four straight miles a regular routine and my only complaint is that in order to extend it to five, I’m going to have to incorporate more hills. I finished off with a mile walk and a good stretching session.

On Friday, I did a barbell strength workout that included five sets of ten bench presses, dead lifts, front rows, high pulls, squat presses, leg presses, bicep curls, front shoulder presses, tricep pullovers, and then finished up with some dumbbell bent-over flies and tricep push backs. After, I went through a difficult leg workout that included a ton of Plyometrics and left me feeling nice and sore the day after.

Even though my box jumps are still on the smallest box and I will admit that I am not the world’s greatest- or graceful- jumper in the world, it’s still a great workout. With them, I also did jumping jacks, high knees, skater jumps, single-leg hip lifts, squats, lunges, and push ups. I finished the day with a few minutes of jump rope.

After my leg-heavy workout on Friday, on Saturday, my legs were not feeling enthusiastic about the run I set out to do. Not helping was the fact that I was at the track where running is considerably more boring and it was freezing. I have a stand-by plan of attack for running outside in cold weather, which I prefer over the treadmill for as long as possible. I was not yet prepared for such frigidity and headed out in just a light jacket and nothing to protect more pore head. I could only get through two miles before meeting up with my parents and did two more miles run-walking.

Listening to my body, I took Sunday off and instead enjoyed the day with my family. On Monday, I was feeling a lot better and did a dumbbell workout that included bench presses, bicep curls, shoulder presses, front raises, rows, shoulder flies, and tricep extensions in a circuit of six sets of eight. Then I went over to the barbells and completed four sets of twelve of side dead lifts, squat presses, leg presses, and elevated bench presses. When I finished, I did some box jumps and jumping jacks before heading home and doing a quick ab workout.

The next day, I did a quick strength workout using the medicine balls. Starting with the dreaded burpees, arrow lunges, then did wall throws, squats, and standing kickbacks on the bosu. I used the stability ball to do a core/strength combined workout that included knee tucks, kneeling roll outs with my arms, pull overs with the medicine ball, elevated hip lifts, and roll outs lying down with my legs. To finish, I did another circuit that included mermaid raises, hundreds to v ups, ankle grabs, Russian twists, and push ups on the medicine ball. In the pool, I got in a mile swim incorporating a few sprints in there to make things harder and go a little more quickly.

Today, I headed out into the glorious sunshine and very cold temperature for another four mile run. This time, my legs were stronger and I was much more prepared for the cold. I threw on my athletic ear muffs that don’t slip and hold ear buds in place, a wrap around scarf, and two jackets. Though I was nice and warm, my one qualm with running outside in the winter is that my sweat turns clammy and my skin dries out easily. Yuck!

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I would like to point out that in this picture, my eyebrows are more defined and darker than they normally are. I think it’s because my hair is pulling my skin tighter than usual. Also, I may or may not have ran to a little Christmas music, depending on your reaction. But I will say that listening to Idina Menzel and Michael Buble sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was appropriate. For the record, I was also listening to other music interchangeably so I’m not a complete psycho.

I finished off my run with a two mile walk and then two more with my mom with the dog. When I got back, I did a short Yoga flow with a ton of planks and an ab workout that seemed to do the trick.

Next week for Workout Wednesday, I’ll include my game plan for working out during the holiday season!

Working Out Can Be Fun To Do

This week, I jazzed up my workout routine a bit, had it all written out and organized, then left it at home to go to the gym. Oops! No fear! For that day, I could remember a lot of what I had planned to do, but I am also an excellent improvisor and played around with different moves. Let me tell you, my abs were both thankful and angry that this happened because they are still sore two days later!

Abs are my focus on the coming month. I have upped my plank game, doing some form of a plank every day, from the straight up forearm for a minute and a half, to a circuit of planks for smaller amounts of time, to plank jacks which are actually kind of fun- they’re jumping jacks in a plank position.

From where we last left off, last Thursday, I did a medicine ball/ball strength workout before hopping into the pool for a swim. Instead of focusing on the amount of laps, I’ve been swimming based on time to help me grow back my stamina after taking a bit of a lap break from the summer. Friday, I got in a kick-ass kettle bell workout and one of my fellow gym-goers asked me if I took a kettle bell class because she was so impressed with my moves. It’s all online waiting for you people! And it’s fun to compile your own workout and find out what you can do.

Saturday, I started my day with a wonderful Yoga practice I created on my own. I’m sure it wasn’t as mindful or zen as one might find at a Yoga class, but it worked for me! I was apparently very tense and it helped me to stretch before my nice long run later that afternoon. You know, the one where I almost had a heart attack from all of the freakish, realistic Halloween decorations.

Knowing that I had quite a lot to do on Sunday, I got up early and headed in for my workout. I did a dumbbell/body strength combination circuit where I did one move with dumbbells, one move without, and continued that pattern for about fifteen moves, then did it three more times. I was nice and sweaty after and topped it all off with a painful, but awesome treadmill sprint cardio session.

On Monday, when I left my new workout page at home, I did more work with the ball/medicine balls and focused on a lot of whole body strength moves before doing a grueling ab routine that was kind of fun. After, I hopped in the pool to get in some laps. I followed that up on Tuesday with another Yoga/Run session. I was at the track for a three-mile run and as I was finishing up, I sprinted the rest of the way and felt like I was flying. I’m not sure I’ve ever run that fast in my life.

This brings us to Wednesday, today- kind of because it’s late- when I did another awesome kettle bell workout. Kettle bells are so good because they include strength and cardio so it’s a two-for-one. I started my workout with a few barbell moves and by the end of my time, I was tired but feeling great. Later in the afternoon, I went on a fun seven mile walk with my friend Molly. The rain kept threatening, but it held off until we were both home!

Now go ahead and get moving!