The Cardio Zone

Author: Tedd Falk

Heart Rate Zones Training zones became popular when fitness equipment manufacturers started putting the green, yellow, and red heart rate charts on their equipment, but many were probably wondering what it all meant. Isn’t cardio just cardio? Today we talk about the cardio zone, and how it can benefit you.

So where does the cardio zone fall into our colorful heart rate zone chart? The cardio zone begins after 70% of your max heart rate, and within this 70%-100% are a few sub classes of the cardio zone. The first, being the aerobic zone. When you are you working out in the aerobic zone, you have probably begun to jog or run, instead of walk, and have started to sweat at a good rate. However, you are still meeting oxygen demands to where your muscles are not deprived. This is typically the zone to train in if your goal is to increase your heart and lung capacity, or in other words, your endurance.

Uh oh, that angry dog just started to chase you down the street. It’s time to turn the afterburners and break into the anaerobic zone. The anaerobic zone is a tough zone to maintain and we are now turning to the muscles in an oxygen deprived state where you will begin to build up lactic acid. Well that doesn’t sound good at all, why would I want to be in this zone? Training in the anaerobic zone will improve the maximum amount of oxygen you can consume (Vo2 max) and you will also burn calories at a faster rate. But if I can only handle this intensity for a short amount of time, I won’t burn that many calories right? There is some truth to that, which is why it’s good to vary between aerobic, and anaerobic exercise (Hello Interval Training!).

Last up is the red zone or the max zone. You literally cannot work any harder and probably wouldn’t be able to say a single word in between breathing. This is where a high level athlete might train within a sprint regimen and it will help build overall strength. At this point you are also burning about 90% carbohydrates and 10% fat.

Cool, you now have a basic understanding of the cardio training zone. Now go out and do some cardio!

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Exercise Equipment for the Road

Author: Tedd Falk

Not every hotel has a fitness center and as much as you want to, you can’t throw your treadmill in your car. So when you are traveling on the road, think about bringing one of these tools to give you a challenging workout in a pinch:

1. TRX Suspension Kit: The TRX is extremely portable and easy to setup. You can hang it from a door using the door anchor attachment and off you go. The number of body weight exercises you can perform are endless, and can be as basic or as advanced as you want them to be.

TRX single leg squat 2. Resistance Bands: Another small and portable tool to use that can also be attached to a door. Resistance bands can be a great total body strength training workout. They come in different resistance levels for novice or advanced users, or for specific exercises.

3. Adjustable Dumbbells (EX. Powerblocks): Probably not the best thing to bring on a plane but if you’re driving to your destination you can certainly throw a pair of adjustable dumbbells in the trunk for you to continue your strength training program on the fly.

Mountain Climber Exercise 4. Jump Rope: Need a way to get an intense cardio workout on the road? Pack a Jump Rope! Try performing interval training with your jump rope by jumping fast for one minute, and then cooling down at a slow pace for the next. Continue this for 15 mins and I guarantee you’ll be sweating!

5. Exercise ball: Pick up an exercise ball with a portable pump so that six pack doesn’t disappear on the road. Need some ideas? Try the mountain climber exercise: Put your hands on the ball as if you were holding a high plank. Now, keeping your core tight, quickly alternate lifting your left and right leg as if you were climbing in place. Perform this for 3 sets of 30 seconds. This is a great core exercise and a quick way to get your heart rate up.

6. Yoga Mat: Yoga is a great fat burning workout, and will also help better your core strength and flexibility. All it requires is a mat and can be performed just about anywhere!

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Cross Training: Why It’s Important

Author: Tedd Falk

Bike Types You and your elliptical are basically best friends. You two spend 3 days of the week together for at least 30 minutes and have done so for the last 3 years. You are really good at working out on your elliptical. Maybe TOO good? Problem is, that grocery bag seemed extremely heavy when carrying it up the stairs, and when you dusted off your bike for a ride over the weekend it felt really hard. It might be time to meet some new friends. Hello Crosstraining!

Look, we all want to be really good at things, but sometimes specializing isn’t always the best solution for us. This is especially true in fitness. We are unfortunately creatures of habit that get stuck in the same routines, all while our bodies crave to move in different ways. So, you don’t have to completely break up your relationship with your elliptical, but think about supplementing your elliptical workout with a different form of cardio once and a while. For example, you could make Monday your elliptical day, Wednesday your stationary bike day, and you could even add a strength training day on Friday. If you have a specific goal in mind, find multiple exercises that all work to achieve similar results. By doing this you’ll start to find that your fitness level will become much more rounded and stronger overall.

Not only will you become stronger overall, but cross training can also prevent the potential for injury. Runners are always a good example of how our muscles can become imbalanced by specializing. Runners are typically very powerful and have high endurance, but constant running causes their quads to overpower their hamstrings. Let’s also not forget to mention running completely neglects the upper body. Most runners also fit the stereotype of being very inflexible. All of these factors combined make the body more vulnerable to injury, where they could be avoided by mixing up your workouts.

Even in sports, coaches are beginning to encourage kids not to specialize in a sport at too young of an age. Many scouts/recruiters are reporting that they are able to pick out young athletes who have specialized due to weaknesses in overall strength and coordination.

If for no other reason, cross train to cut out the monotony! Doing the same thing over and over again gets boring! Freshen up your workout and have some fun with fitness!

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Interval Training: What you should know

Author: Tedd Falk

Is your regular workout on the treadmill or elliptical getting old? Try pushing that interval training button on the console of your exercise equipment for a new challenge!

Interval training is a workout consisting of short, alternating bursts of high intensity activity and light intensity activity. For instance, if you enjoy walking outside, you could begin to jog every 30 seconds. By doing this you will now combine aerobic exercise with anaerobic exercise. What does that mean?

Aerobic exercise can vary in intensity based off the individual, but when exercising you are sufficiently generating enough oxygen to meet energy demands and this type of exercise can be performed for longer periods of time. Anaerobic exercise is higher in intensity to the point where lactic acid will begin to form. This type of exercise would more likely be performed by an athlete such as a short distance sprinter.

Well I’m no athlete so how will this help me? To start, more intense exercise will in fact burn more calories, and I think we all know why this is important. Your Aerobic capacity will also improve, so that 30 minute workout on the elliptical can turn into 45 minutes. Or, you will be able to perform that 30 min workout at a quicker pace, which again will increase your calorie burn. Lastly, it will keep you from getting stuck in the same old routine. Anyway we can motivate ourselves to get back on our exercise equipment and challenge ourselves to become a healthier person is a good thing.

The Octane Fitness 30:30 workout is a great example of an intense interval training workout:

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Which type of exercise bike is right for me?

Bike Types Author: Tedd Falk

It’s time to get a piece of in-home fitness equipment and you’ve narrowed it down to an exercise bike. But now you went to the store and you learned that there are 3 different kinds! Here we make the case for all 3 so you can choose the right machine for the right reasons:

1. Recumbent Bike: The La-Z-Boy of exercise equipment. Recumbent bikes have a back rest to lean against for a little bit more comfort and support. This can be a plus for certain medical conditions and for the right person, the added comfort can be a motivational tool as some machines can become uncomfortable which can deter you from using it. Working out is hard enough as it is! Recumbent bikes can also be a bit easier to access as they are lower to the ground and have the option to have what’s called a “walk through” design. Therefore, you won’t have to step up, or step over anything to get on the bike. Recumbent bikes can have simple or more complex workout features, but almost all will have the option to choose a program that will guide you through a workout. It will be up to you to decide whether these programs will help you better achieve your specific goals.

2. Upright bike: As the name suggests, you are seated upright with no back rest when riding this bike. Where the recumbent bike can cause the perception that you are not working as hard because you are leaning back, the upright will not, and this can keep some riders more engaged in their workout. The majority of upright bikes have a large cushioned seat as opposed to what you would find on an outdoor bike, which most people find to be ideal to maximize comfort. This type of bike is best for the rider that likes to stay seated throughout the workout as most of these bikes are not built for standing sprints from a feel or durability standpoint. Like the recumbent style, the upright can come with simple or more complex workout programs that can guide you through a workout.

3. Spin Bike: Spin bikes are for the true bike riders out there and they do a better job of replicating outdoor road biking. If you are the more aggressive racing type rider, this might be the right bike for you. While some seats can be replaced, spin bikes typically come with your standard outdoor bike seat which may not be comfortable enough for some riders. You will also have the ability to ride while standing and this will feel more natural as opposed to if you were to do this on a standard upright bike. While upright and recumbent bikes will include a computer console to guide you through a workout, everything will be up to you on the spin bike. Most spinners only include a resistance knob that you can turn to either increase or decrease resistance and the option to add a computer to track RPMs, calories, distance, time etc.

No matter which one you choose, they can all help you achieve your goals! Good luck!

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Why Hire a Personal Trainer?

Warm up exercises Author: Tedd Falk

1. Motivation! : Usually working out with a partner helps us push a little harder, but having someone who truly wants to help you achieve your goals can be extremely encouraging. It also takes away the ability to make excuses as you’re ultimately paying for the service so you don’t want to be throwing money out of the window.

2. Personalized workout plans and goals: Not everyone knows exactly what they should be doing at the gym or on their piece of in home fitness equipment so a personal trainer can help you come up with a more efficient way to reach your goals. You may also have specific needs as far as past or current injuries or medical conditions and a trainer can help you work around these issues.

3. Nutritional advice: Whether you are looking to lose weight or put on muscle, nutrition is going to be half the battle and a trainer can give you advice on when and what you should be eating.

4. Better utilize your equipment: If you have a home fitness gym or are utilizing a health club, there’s always the possibility that you may not be using all the features your fitness equipment has to offer. Chances are your trainer does and can help you get the most out of your equipment.

5. A helping hand: I’ve always found that stretching can sometimes be best performed by two people. Whether it’s that tight hamstring or back muscle, an extra hand to apply a little bit more pressure or better alignment can make all the difference in increasing your flexibility.

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Dynamic Warmup vs. Static Stretching

Warm up exercises Author: Tedd Falk

Did you know that the classic thinking of static stretching before your workout is actually making you weaker? We used to think that if we are warming up for a run on the treadmill we should hold a static hamstring stretch to “loosen up”. This idea is starting to lose traction as studies are showing that a dynamic warm up is the best way to prepare before any intense physical activity.

Dynamic movements work to put the muscle and joint through a series of challenging repetitive motions. The goal of these movements is to truly “warm up” the muscles and get them ready to fire for peak performance. Static stretching works the other way in that holding a specific stretch for 30-60 seconds will lengthen and relax the joint and muscle but will not prepare it for physical activity and this can lead to weakness or potential injury. While both are important, dynamic movements should be performed prior to a workout and static stretching should be performed post workout. So what kind of dynamic exercises should you do?

Walking Lunges w/ Twist: Take a deep step forward and turn away from the back leg to get a good stretch in the hip then repeat with the other leg.

Inchworm: Start in the pushup position and with straight legs slowly step your feet forward until you reach your hands. Then move back into the pushup position and repeat

Explosive Skipping: Skip with one leg exploding as high into the air as you can and repeat with the other leg

Explosive Push Up: With your hands on the floor or a bench push up as high as you can so that your hands come off the surface and repeat

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