workout wednesday

A speed boosting track workout you can do almost anywhere

A speed boosting track workout teaserWhen I was out for my tempo run last week, I took a different route and ended up behind the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE) at Camosun College. As I was running around the campus, I noticed they just installed a brand new outdoor running track that I totally plan to take advantage of now on my interval run days, because up until now I was using the ol’ telephone-pole-on-a-flat-road method to time my intervals. I have an interval timer on my phone (and I’m sure my Garmin does it too) but I can’t be bothered to set it up/get bored quickly and prefer to run intervals by predetermined landmarks.

If you’re like me and can’t be bothered with a timer / love variety on your training runs, try this fun  speed boosting track workout you can do almost anywhere — all you need are some predetermined landmarks, such as telephone poles (which are between 38 to 91 metres apart, or you can determine the distance with your Garmin watch), trees or driveways, on a 200 metre stretch of flat road. (more…)

Workout Wednesday: 20-minute HIIT workout for runners

Workout Wednesday_ hiitI have a love/hate relationship with high-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT workouts. Even though I generally hate every minute of each exercise in a HIIT circuit and am always left feeling winded and dripping with sweat, you really can’t argue with the results. Not only are HIIT workouts a great way to boost your anaerobic capacity (which can translate into speedier run times), but also can help build your strength and power in your legs with pylometric movements. Also a plus: HIIT workouts are short in duration (they shouldn’t be longer than 20-30 minutes), which makes them an effective way to get a workout in when you’re short on time.

If you’re looking for a total-body 20-minute HIIT workout to help build strength, power and anaerobic capacity, I’ve got you covered: (more…)

Workout Wednesday: A lazy, post-vacation (or post-illness) workout

Workout Wednesday_ A lazy, post-vacation (or post-illness) workoutYou know when you return from a week or more of vacation — that may or may not have included lots of relaxing, eating and drinking — and have a hard time getting back into your workout routine? Or when you’re out for a few days to a week with the flu and aren’t well enough to jump right back into your fitness routine?

Instead of putting off exercise for another day (or week), try this easy yet effective post-vacation/post-illness workout routine. You won’t be burning mega calories with this one, but it’s a great set of exercises to help get you back on track.

This will most likely be the workout I do in a few days after I recover from whatever illness I have at the moment (almost everyone at work has some kind of sickness, and I seem to have had a bad reaction to medication I took yesterday for something unrelated… ugh). (more…)

Workout Wednesday: 4-day beginner upper/lower split strength training program

upper lower splitAs promised, here’s my current muscle-building workout routine I’ll be doing for the next 8 to 10 weeks! This is a beginner 4-day upper/lower split strength training program focused on building strength and hypertrophy you can do at the gym or at home with some modifications. Each workout contains a combination of push-pull exercises, beginning with major muscle groups and ending with accessory exercises. Because I only have about 40 minutes to workout in the morning, I’ve programmed these workouts as supersets, where you can perform each exercises back-to-back in sets with very little rest time in between. If you have more time or are a true beginner/plan on lifting heavier, I suggest taking longer breaks in between exercises. (more…)

The best combination exercises to supercharge your supersets

supercharged superset workout teaserNormally at this time of year I’m working on hypertrophy (building muscle) and improving strength with a four-day-a-week upper/lower split resistance training plan, plus two days a week of 8-10 km runs to maintain my cardio over the winter months. But since I’m training for the Phoenix Marathon at the end of February, I’m keeping my resistance training workouts short and sweet — right now I’m doing three 30-40-minute circuit-type resistance training workouts and three to four runs per week, with Sunday being my long run day.

I love circuit training with supersets (where you perform a set of exercises that engages different muscle groups back-to-back) because not only does it keep heart rate elevated (so you get a bit of a cardio workout and calorie-burning boost), but also you get all the benefits of resistance training in a shorter amount of time.

When programming my marathon training plan this year, I used Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove‘s fabulous The New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged book to get ideas for building a solid resistance training program that would compliment my marathon training. (If you’re looking to build your own plan, I highly recommend that book or any of the The New Rules of Lifting books.) (more…)

Why recreational runners and triathletes need a postseason

postseason triathleteDo you run a marathon every three to six months for fun, or take part in shorter races (running, swimming biking) all year long? If so, it might be time to take a four- to eight-week break from endurance activities and have an “postseason” like the pros do.

And by break and don’t mean no running/swimming/biking at all — I mean cutting back on your endurance workouts to 1-2 days a week, taking a FULL week break from all exercise (aside from low-impact movement like walking, yoga and hiking), then focusing on resistance training for the remaining three to seven weeks.

What’s a postseason?

A postseason (otherwise known as active rest) is a phase during the yearly training cycle for athletes that happens after competition (the in-season phase). A postseason can be anywhere from four to eight weeks long, depending on an athletes training cycle. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, “the main focus [during postseason] should be on recovering from the previous competitive season. Low training duration and intensity are typical for this active rest phase, but enough overall exercise or activity should be performed to maintain a sufficient level of cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and lean body mass. During the postseason, the aerobic endurance athlete should focus on rehabilitating injuries incurred during the competitive season and improving the strength of weak or underconditioned muscle groups.” (more…)

#WorkoutWednesday: Lazy, post-vacation workout

You know when you return from a week or more of vacation — that may or may not have included lots of relaxing, eating and drinking — and have a hard time getting back into your workout routine?

Instead of putting off exercise for another day (or week), try this easy yet effective post-vacation workout routine. You won’t be burning mega calories with this one, but it’s a great set of exercises to help get you back on track.

And let me tell you: after four days of camping in a dusty hayfield surrounded by 19-year-old kids using pink plastic flamingos as beer bongs (apparently it’s called a “flabongo”…) at Sunfest this past weekend, a workout with lots of sitting and lying down was all I could manage today. By the end of the workout, I felt much better and ready to jump back into my regular exercise routine.

postvacayworkout (more…)

#WorkoutWednesday: 30-minute total body workout

Happy #WildWorkoutWednesday! Looking for a short strength training workout that targets all your major muscle groups AND gets the heart rate up? Try this five-set circuit. All you need is a yoga mat and a set of dumbbells.

30-minworkout

1) Romanian deadlift into dumbbell bent-over row
2) Squat to overhead dumbbell press
3) Anterior lateral lunge with low-reach dumbbells
4) Push up / bent-over lateral raise (perform as superset)
5) Bird dog / reverse crunch (perform as superset)

Perform each set three times with 8-10 reps per set. Rest for 30 seconds in between each set before moving to the next set. Click here for video instructions and here for another handy print-out.

#WorkoutWednesday: Yoga Strength Fusion workout

Looking to mix up your strength training routine? Try this fusion of isometric yoga asanas, dynamic yoga asanas and resistance training. This is actually one of two workouts I’m doing right now and it’s super fun 🙂

yogafusionWARM UP with 5 sun salutations

  • 3 x barbell squat/deadlift/row – Grab a barbell and load it with a weight you can manage to row in a bent-over position for 6 reps. Hold the bar in front of you and squat down, push back up and lower bar into a deadlift position, making sure to push your butt back behind you. Once in the lowest position, row the bar to your chest then slowly lower. Push your hips forward up and extend back up into standing position. Rest between sets for this one.
  • 3 x down dog kickbacks – Get into high plank position and press back into down dog. From here, lift one leg back behind you, keeping your hips parallel to the floor. Bring that same leg in and your knee into your chest. Repeat.
  • 3 x push-up side planks – Get into a push-up position and lower down until your chest is close to the floor. Push up and roll onto the side of your foot, stack your legs and lift one arm straight up overhead into side plank position. Return to push-up position and alternate sides.
  • 3 x crow/jump back into cobra – Get into crow position and try to hold the pose for 5-10 seconds. Contract your core and shoot your legs back out behind you, while lowering your body to the floor. Curl your toes over, extend your back and press up through your palms into cobra.
  • 3 x lateral raise – Grab a set of dumbbells and stand shoulder-width apart, weights slightly out in front of you. Raise them out to the sides until your arms are parallel with the floor; slowly lower.
  • 3 x glute bridge – Lie on your back with your knees bent, heels of your feet on the floor. Squeeze your butt and rise up into bridge, hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower before your repeat.

Have you tried mixing yoga into your strength training workouts? What are your favourite yoga poses?

– B

#WorkoutWednesday: My off-season workout routine right now

Running in the bamboo forest in Maui.

Running in the bamboo forest in Maui.

It’s hard to believe that about six months ago I was running a sub 4:45-per-kilometre marathon pace. Right now I can barely run for 10 km. And I’m probably running at twice that pace.

It’s good to have a break from running and racing at least once a year for a few months, as it helps to prevent overuse injuries and gives you a chance to spend the time cross training and strengthen all those muscles you don’t get to use during marathon training. Though it can be humbling to head out with much faster and fitter friends during your “off-season”, taking a break from running now and again will benefit you in the long run — literally and figuratively.

Other than the set back I experienced a few weeks ago (where I couldn’t do anything more than walk for about three weeks), I’ve been pretty consistent with my strength and yoga routine, mixing in at least one or two short runs (7-10 km) and one hike per week to maintain a good cardio base. My weeks look something like this: (more…)

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