Gorgeous Peeps –
Happy First Day of Spring!!! Time to start thinking pleasant, Spring thoughts and going outside to breath fresh air. With the Equinox arrival, I figured what’s better than a post about exercising? Answer: nothing.
I’ve been training for my annual Boston Boulder Brawl, along with now two 5K’s (RIAND and another I can’t find the link to…), and I have to say: I’ve been crushing it. On average, I make it to the gym to do weight lifting/strength training with a warm-up run on the treadmill two times a week, the climbing gym to do assorted training exercises and climb two times a week, hot yoga once a week, and the past two weeks I’ve even made it to my high school outdoor track to run some miles. Basically, I feel like superwoman. It is awesome.
If anyone wants any specifics on my training regime, please feel free to ask and I would be more than happy to share avec vous. I’m a bit cuckoo when it comes to working out, so I have all my exercises (including weight amount, reps, sets), run logs and climbing recaps on an excel spreadsheet, along with a word document.
To be honest, before today, I hadn’t done too much research on the subject of just how frequently you should work out – mostly I do what feels right for my body and makes sense in my mind – but since I wanted to share information with people who are probably at various stages of fitness, I did research just for you fine folks. Here’s what I came up with:
First of all, there is no magic number of days you should work out. Ideally, aim for 5 – 3 should be strength training, 2 should be cardio, and 2 should be active rest. However, if you don’t workout at all at the moment, you can see results in as little as 1 day a week… BUT that should not mean you stop there. Push yourself! You should also think about the goals you want to achieve.
Strength Training: Ladies, don’t be deterred by this. A lot of people think strength training means getting bulky, but that is definitely not the case (unless of course that’s what you’re going for, and you’re into Olympic Power Lifting, etc). In fact, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate is. With a higher metabolic rate, your body burns calories faster, and it even burns them when you’re not working out (SCORE). Strength training also strengthens bones and joints, so really, it’s an overall win.
As I mentioned above, aim for 3 strength training days a week. Each session should be approximately 45-60 minutes, and I would highly recommend you complete a few minutes of cardio beforehand to get your muscles warm and blood pumping, plus stretching and foam rolling (this can be done afterwards).
For A-plus strength training, you need to focus on all the different parts of your body; this means upper and lower body, along with pushing and pulling exercises. If anyone needs recommendations for these, please ask me. I’ve got an arsenal. It’s most effective if you focus on different body areas during different sessions (except for core… do that every time), and slowly increase the weight as you feel more comfortable. Also, you may think the machines are the only way to go, but I highly encourage you to try free weights (kettlebells, dumbbells, TRX suspension), along with moves such as squats that use no equipment at all.
Cardio: This is important for your circulatory system and recovery, along with boosting endurance levels (who doesn’t want that?), and helping your body utilize oxygen efficiently. Again, aim for twice a week, with a recommended total of 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise every week. You can vary how you spend those 150 minutes depending on your goals, but some fun and/or popular methods are spin, jogging outdoors, stairmaster, elliptical machines, HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, agility ladders, ice skating, rock climbing, and other fitness classes your local gym may offer.
In order for the workout to count as actually being cardiovascular, you need to up your heart rate. Some suggestions I came across were 120 and 150 beats per minute for 45 to 60 minutes; however, this all depends on your baseline and target heart rates, which differs from person to person. You can also do hybrid exercises like kettlebell swings, which encompasses strength training and cardio – woo!
Active Rest: I’ve had to patiently explain to a lot of friends that you do in fact, need to take rest days. It’s absolutely critical to let your body recover and rebuild so that you are able to get back to your workouts super refreshed and recharged. HOWEVER! A rest day does not entitle you to grab a bag of chips and be a bum all day; it just means you shouldn’t push yourself too hard. That’s why it is called an active rest, not couch potato day. Once again, this should be twice a week.
On my off days, I like to go on hikes or do hot yoga, depending on the weather. It still works and stretches my muscles, but I don’t overexert myself, but I do sweat like a madman. It’s awesome. If hot yoga isn’t for you, try regular yoga – I highly recommend any variation. You should aim towards doing 30-60 minutes of active rest during those days, so maybe take your dog for an extra long walk in the park.
Well, that’s a wrap! Some key things to note: your rest days do not have to be two days in a row, and it doesn’t matter where you fit them in during your week, but I would recommend not doing two strength days in a row. You want to give your body about 48 hours to recover after those sessions, since your muscles will be ripped and in need of repair. In the long run, getting yourself into a scheduled routine that works for you and helps you meet goals is what it is all about. If you can build good fitness habits, it will be amazing what can follow. I promise.