Joli Guenther

  1. HIIT Vs. LISS: Which Cardio Workout is the Best?

    A woman running doing a hiit workout versus a man doing a liss workout No question about it. HIIT is hot. High Intensity Interval Training (including Matrix Fitness’ Sprint 8) is getting a lot of attention for all the right reasons. But does that mean that LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) is out? Not necessarily. Here are a few benefits of each form of training, and a plan for working them into your workouts.

    Five Benefits of HIIT

    • You’ll Burn Calories After Your Workout: During High Intensity Interval Training your body is forced to perform and recovery at its limits. This forced adaptation means your post workout recovery is also more intense. As your body recovers, your metabolism is higher, which means you burn more calories even at rest after HIIT workouts. This burn lasts for up to 48 hours, which means a few HIIT workouts each week can go a long way towards fat loss.
     
    • HIIT Workouts Are Time Efficient: Exercising at intense levels means you don’t have to work out for hours. A true HIIT workout can be had in just 20 minutes and shouldn’t take more than 40 minutes. This makes HIIT workouts a schedule friendly option for busy athletes (and the rest of us mortals).
     
    • HIIT Makes Your Workouts More Interesting: While it’s hard to call a HIIT workout fun, you’ll find the time goes by quickly. HIIT workouts provide constant variation by alternating short efforts with short recoveries. The training difficulty changes throughout your workout as well. This constant variety coupled with full effort means your brain will stay engaged in your workout.
     
    • HIIT Workouts Make you Fitter: Increasing your V02 Max (how your body responds to challenging exercise) can only happen through challenging exercise. That means training at lactate threshold or anaerobic levels. Fortunately, HIIT fits that bill. By challenging your heart’s maximum output and recovery, you will build endurance that will increase your sustained efforts. That means your HIIT workouts can do amazing things for your next 10K.
     
    • HIIT Workouts Reverse Aging. Sound too good to be true? A recent Mayo Clinic study demonstrated that HIIT workouts reverse evidence of aging on the body’s protein function. This happened at the cellular level. It resulted in increased muscle gain and improved fat loss. The study also found that HIIT was associated with improved insulin sensitivity and cardio respiratory health.
     

    Five Benefits of LISS

    • LISS Builds Endurance: Do your training goals include running a 10K (or more)? Want to complete a cycling century? Or maybe you just need to keep up with the kids this summer. If so, LISS will help you get there. LISS is especially important if you want to complete events that last for more than an hour. By completing LISS training, you teach your body to maintain a steady pace in your aerobic zone. This makes LISS a great match to aerobic training programs on your home fitness equipment. You can also combine LISS training with a heart rate monitor, maintaining a heart rate of less than 80% of your max throughout your workout.
     
    • You’ll Find your Zen Place: There’s a special mindset that comes from a long workout at a steady effort. These workouts are especially effective when you complete them outdoors (or in view of the outdoors). With the pounding of your feet or the tempo of your foot strokes, your brain gets calmer. You’ll find yourself working through, or just feeling better about, the challenges of life and work.
     
    • You’ll Burn Serious Calories: HIIT tends to get a lot of attention when it comes to fat loss, but LISS workouts pack their own punch. The duration of these workouts will increase your daily caloric output. This makes it easier to lose weight or maintain weight loss.
     
    • LISS Lets You Recover: You can’t do a HIIT workout every day. The most effective training programs will include HIIT two or three times per week. Completing more HIIT training than that may interfere with your recovery and not offer additional benefits. So, if you want to stay active on those recovery days, LISS workouts are an effective option.
     
    • LISS Workouts are Doable: For new exercisers, the idea of working to your maximum effort level can be intimidating. Knowing that you can alternate HIIT workouts with a more comfortable option might help you stick to your training program. Additionally, LISS workouts let you build muscular endurance and stability more gradually. This helps you to avoid over-training or unhealthy levels of impact. If you’re just getting started, try a HIIT workout 1-2 times per week and supplement with LISS while you get stronger.


    How to HIIT and LISS your Workout Plan Next Week

    With benefits to each style of workout, you’ll want to be sure you’re including both HIIT and LISS training in your week.

    Here’s how.

    HIIT It

    • Sprint 8: If you need an efficient workout that takes the guesswork out of your program, we’ve got your back. Sprint 8 is patented and requires just 20 minutes. It also adapts to your individual fitness. That means you don’t have to be a runner or serious athlete to succeed. Just set aside 20 minutes and experience the benefits of improved heart health, muscle growth, and fat loss.
     
    • One Minute Strength Intervals: Here’s another HIIT workout that doesn’t require speed. After a 3 minute warm up on your favorite elliptical, treadmill, or indoor cycle, alternate 60 second periods of work with 60 second periods of recovery. Your work periods will be at a high resistance level (incline on your treadmill) that puts you up to 85-95% of your maximum heart rate. During your recovery periods, reduce your resistance/incline completely, and just keep your legs moving. Repeat 12 rounds. Follow with a 3 minute cool down.


    LISSen Up

    • Sweet 75: Your goal on LISS days will be to teach your body to work (and recover) at a maintainable effort. Using a heart rate monitor, complete your favorite run, walk, or cycle maintaining a heart rate of 75% of your maximum. If your heart rate begins to go above 80% reduce your effort level until it comes down. If you decrease below 70% you need to up the pace. This workout goes well with a good playlist or Netflix series. Plan to spend 60-90 minutes completing the workout. By 30 minutes, you may find it harder to avoid climbing above 80%. This is where the true benefits of building endurance in LISS training begin.
    Knowing the benefits of HIIT and LISS workouts, makes it easier to fit them into your weekly rotation of workouts. HIIT workouts will help to get you fitter in shorter periods of time. Alternating these workouts with the slower paced LISS workouts will give you a well-rounded program. Over time, you will experience better fitness, endurance, and weight loss through including both workouts each week.
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  2. Healthy and Delicious Memorial Day Recipes

    Friends eating at a picnic table outside for Memorial Day. Memorial Day is everyone’s favorite kick off to the summer.  Cookouts, family reunions, and activities with the kids make portable Memorial Day Recipes essential.  These (mostly) healthy recipes fit the bill, ranging from beverages to Memorial Day desserts.  Best of all?  These crowd pleasers all feature beautiful ways to showcase the healthy foods of early summer.

    Beverages:

      Whether you’re sipping iced coffee or staying hydrated with fruit infused water, the right combination will make the ordinary extraordinary.   Try a Coconut Iced Mocha  for an afternoon pick me up.   Or pack up enough of Blackberry Sage Infused Water to keep the crowd hydrated at your next beach party.

    Appetizers:

    The best Memorial Day Recipes for appetizers are portable, easy to prepare, and, of course, delicious.  Not too heavy and featuring plenty of fresh produce, here are some of our favorites.
    • Greek Salad Skewers: With all the fresh goodness of your favorite Greek Salad in the convenience of a skewer.  These round out the barbecue but you might want to save a few for your lunch on Tuesday.
    • Golden Goddess Turmeric: Level up your hummus by adding turmeric for a festive color with a nutritional punch.  Serve this as a veggie platter with cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, olives, and feta.  You’ll please the vegetarians and carnivores alike.
    • Portobello Nachos While Portobello Mushrooms are featured here, if you have access to other seasonal mushrooms, this is a fantastic way to showcase them! Roasting the vegetables ahead of time brings out their sweetness, making this appetizer one that will disappear in no time.
    • Smoked Salmon and Roasted Zucchini Roll-ups Grab and go meal prep ideas translate well to fresh, no fuss appetizers. This fresh combination is pleasing to the eye and the palate.  Need a vegetarian alternative?  Spread your roll-ups with this tasty Lemon Goat Cheese spread
    • Sausage Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates: While these fall more into the treat category, they’re sure to please the paleo crowd. Fortunately, the chewy sweetness of the dates makes a little bacon go a long way.

    Salads:

     While you could stick to a tossed salad or a quart of potato salad from your local deli, Memorial Day Recipes for salads that are beautiful and delicious will be a showstopper at your next Memorial Day Cookout.  Grilling the Potatoes in this Grilled Potato Salad adds a layer of flavor that will have your guests loading their plates.  The dressing and bacon can be a bit heavy, so consider adding a few more potatoes to stretch this out.  Need a lighter option?  Beets are a great workout recovery food and contribute color to your buffet.  Try this Beet Wild Rice Salad alongside your favorite grilled beef or mushrooms.

    Main Course: 

    In the unlikely event that you find yourself doing something other than grilling, it’s nice to have a Memorial Day Main Course recipe that can be prepared before the guests arrive, feels festive, and will survive hours on the buffet table.  This Instant Pot Carnitas fits the bill.  It also plays nicely with the fresh salsas and guacamole that are likely to make an appearance.

    Dessert:

    Unless you’re finishing the party with your first root-beer float of the year, the perfect Memorial Day Recipe for dessert should showcase the beautiful and delicious berries that are just starting to come into season.  This Shattered Blueberry Yogurt Cake is so stunning and delicious you won’t even notice it’s gluten free.  Try garnishing it with a few fresh strawberries for a celebration in red, white and blue.  Need another option?  Try this nut free, Apple Summer Berry Crumble that is equally comfortable at your next brunch. Sorting out the best recipes and food blogs can be overwhelming.  Need some suggestions?  Try these recommended food blogs to keep you inspired all summer long!  
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  3. Active Mother’s Day Ideas for 2017

    Mom and daughter canoeing on a lake for Mother's Day Thinking of the perfect Mother’s Day 2017?  Rather than gifts, Mother’s Day activities let you build memories with the special lady in your life.  Here’s our guide to the best Mother’s Day ideas for every level of fitness and adventure.

    Plant a Garden.

    This traditional activity remains popular each year.  Early May is the perfect time to clean up Mom’s garden beds.  In Northern climates, plant cold-hardy annuals or get a start on sowing summer vegetables.  Frost tolerant greens and veggies, such as snow peas, can be started as soon as you can work the soil.   Or spend the day planting herbs and planters that can be moved outdoors when the weather warms.

    Meal Prepping.

    We’re all trying to eat better, right?  Why not combine a Mother’s Day cookout with a healthy fridge of grab and go weekday meals.  The simple concept of meal prepping combines well with a Mother’s Day brunch or buffet.  Just focus on grilling plenty of protein and veggies.  You can even throw fruit on the grill (think pineapple or pears) to serve as dessert on Mother’s Day.  Later that week, Mom can use it to top her yogurt for breakfast.  You can find some easy inspiration here.

    Hike a Trail.

    Beautiful trails and state parks are within a short drive of nearly everyone. Spring is the perfect time to enjoy them as the leaves and flowers come back from winter.  While summer sun and insects won’t have reached their peak, you’ll want to remember sunscreen and insect repellent. Pack a picnic lunch for the trail or the picnic area that is probably near your vehicle. We love these Wisconsin hikes as a special Mother’s Day idea.

    Start Paddling.

    Beautiful May Day?  Ready for a little more adventure?  Paddling is a Mother’s Day activity that lets you and Mom experience the beauty of our rivers and lakes.  You can easily rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards at parks and private businesses. Need inspiration? Michigan locals and other Midwesterners can find suggestions for paddling trips in these links.

    Get your Bike Out.

    Whether you rent a bike or use this Mother’s Day 2017 excuse for a tune-up, early spring is the perfect time to enjoy a cycling adventure.  If you and Mom are up for adventure, head out to one of the Midwest’s local bike trails.  Stop along the way for a small-town lunch.   If a long ride is beyond your comfort zone, pedal to a local farmer’s market or florist. You’ll still enjoy the fresh air and time with your special person.

    Jump Around.

    Want to burn some serious calories while playing like a kid?  Trampoline parks are a fun Mother’s Day activity for any age.  You can find a park near you in almost any location. Bring your littlest companions along or just stick to the adults on this fun for all ages adventure.

    Wall Climbing.

    This indoor activity is another family friendly Mother’s Day idea.  Indoor climbing walls are surprisingly easy to find and you don’t have to worry about the weather.  You’ll get functional workout using nearly every muscle in your body.  The challenge of climbing a wall is great for building confidence and inner strength, both for Mom and kids.

    Ropes and Ziplines.

    Definitely a thrill for Mom and school age kids, outdoor ropes and ziplines are a challenging Mother’s Day adventure.  Frequently located near state parks and natural beauty, you can probably combine this with a stop for ice cream at a nearby park or waterway.  Here’s a great resource for finding ziplines and high ropes near you that you probably never knew were there. Mother’s day ideas are endless with a little planning and a spirit of adventure.  While the above activities are easy to tackle in an afternoon, you could combine them into a full weekend with camping or a getaway.  You can also combine two or more of these activities for a full day of adventure that will make Mother’s Day 2017 your most memorable yet. About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.
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  4. How Indoor Cycling Will Improve Your Outdoor Cycling Performance

    Man on Horizon Fitness exercise bike in his home.

    Did you know that continuing your indoor cycling workouts this spring can do amazing things for your outdoor rides? Outdoor cyclists need serious stamina to be prepared for a variety of terrain and conditions. Here are the most effective ways to continue training on your indoor cycle as you gear up for outdoor cycling.

    Build Climbing Strength:

      My favorite indoor cycling advantage is building climbing strength.  Indoor cycles let you practice repeated climbs, without worrying about surrounding conditions or finding sufficient hilly terrain.  The best cyclists focus on creating power from behind the hips by using the glutes as well as the quads.  Focus on maintaining a low, “hips back” position, while pulling slightly back on the handlebars to build posterior strength.  Work in heavy loads at cadences of 55-75 RPM, as well as at slightly lighter loads at a cadence of 85-100 RPM at a level you can maintain for less than 2 minutes.  This will build strength and explosive power that will let you blast over your next set of outdoor hills.

    Increase Turnover:

      It’s easy to get a little too comfortable with your cadence outdoors. Skilled riders can adapt their cadences to respond to changes in wind direction and terrain.  Dedicate specific portions of your indoor ride to holding a quick cadence while maintaining sufficient load and core engagement.  This high power output is just what you need to press to the front of the pack in your next outdoor race.

    No Coasting:

    Using a weighted flywheel means that indoor cycles require some level of constant effort (i.e. no coasting).  This teaches recovery in the saddle. Use lower intensity times to maintain an aerobic level of effort as your body recovers from the peaks of your workout.  On outdoor rides this translates to working recoveries that still increase the overall power output of your ride.


    Raise Lactate Threshold:

      Your lactate threshold offers tremendous training potential that can result in a higher V02 max and stronger cardiovascular output over time. Lactate threshold training is tougher than aerobic, causing lactic acid to begin to build up in our muscles.  It remains below anaerobic, without the accompanying muscle failure.  Lactate threshold training makes us more comfortable with continued tough efforts. Our bodies also become more efficient at clearing lactic acid from our muscles, ultimately increasing our lactate threshold.  Target your lactate threshold by completing indoor rides of 20 minutes at 85% of your maximum heart rate.  Intersperse lactate threshold training into other rides by including five minute efforts at a heart rate of 85%.  Your lactate threshold efforts will require a great deal of concentration and willpower, but you can be held for more than 3 minutes at a time.

    Planned Workouts:

    Varied conditions are one of the best things about outdoor riding.  Preparing and training for those conditions is tough without a big commitment of time spent on transportation and planning.  Your indoor cycle provides a fixed environment and adjustable loads to focus on drills that replicate the most challenging portions of outdoor cycling.

    Serious Calorie Burn:

    Even active recovery workouts on an indoor cycle result in an enviable impact on your metabolism.  To burn the most calories during your indoor cycling workouts, focus on your form.  Support your bodyweight and keep your core strong throughout your workout.  Avoid leaning on the handlebars.  Since you need to use your arms to create a strong base,  this is not the best time for catching up on your reading and social media.  Keep an eye on your wattage.  If it’s lagging, so is your power output, and by association, your calorie burn.

    Safety and Convenience:

      Outdoor riding can take a lot of time to prep your bike and your body for the experience.  On long weekdays, rainy or windy weather, or even during extreme heat, indoor cycling will blast calories and let you concentrate on your form.  Additionally, we all know that there are safety risks associated with outdoor riding.  When riding outdoors, concentrating on your surroundings can sometimes result in planned workouts and riding form suffering as a result.  While there is no substitute for the outdoor ride, the indoor cycle is really the best option for completing specific drills and accommodating scheduling and weather related challenges.

    Perfect Form:

     When you aren’t distracted by outdoor safety issues or challenges, you can focus specifically on your cycling position.  Drill these habits in your indoor rides so that you maintain them even during challenging conditions.  Good areas to notice include upper body tension, alignment of your knees, back position, and core engagement.  Breath control is another excellent area to focus on during indoor training rides.  You’ll be able to use it during both your pushes and recoveries in outdoor cycling events. Post-workout you can even complete a little cycling specific mobility work in the comfort of your home.

    Indoor cycling is not a replacement for outdoor cycling, but it does offer the perfect cross training complement to your outdoor rides. On your indoor cycle, mimic the conditions you want to train for as closely as possible.  Use your cycling shoes and consider trying out new clothing or nutrition options on your indoor ride so that you know how they will affect your performance out on the road.  Remember to hydrate just as you would for an outdoor ride. Lastly, plan your workouts by targeting specific drills and formats.  Both HIIT and Active Recovery days are important on the indoor cycle, as they can be difficult to stick to on outdoor rides.  Including drills targeting all of the areas discussed above will let you smash the varied challenges of your outdoor rides.
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  5. Which Fitness Equipment Burns the Most Calories?



    Wondering which home fitness equipment burns the most calories?  It’s no surprise that this is the question we hear the most when people are shopping for home fitness equipment.  Burning calories in your home gym is an important piece of any effective plan to lose weight.  Used correctly, the right piece of exercise equipment will burn calories, and even specifically target fat loss, support a healthy metabolism, and improve cardiovascular function.  So how do you know which piece of exercise equipment will help you burn the most calories?

    Calorie calculators are a good place to start, but they only tell one part of the story.  Calorie calculators provide a helpful reality check when it comes to planning your diet and total calorie consumption for weight loss.  Knowing the calories burned while running or cycling for an hour helps you consider how many calories you burn each day, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you which piece of exercise equipment will be the most effective for helping you to lose weight.  So how do you choose the best exercise equipment to burn fat and calories?

    Calories are really just a way of measuring the amount of power generated by our bodies.  The best exercise machine for burning calories on your body is the one that allows you to use your body the most, rather than relying on the machine to create the movement. Sounds simple? Not surprisingly, your current physical health, available time for training, and tolerance for some types of exercise are important things to consider if you want to burn a lot of calories while using your home exercise equipment.  

    Here’s How It Works:



    If you are in good physical health, without injury or physical limitations, and have plenty of time for training, the best exercise for burning calories is going to be running, hard, on a treadmill.  Hard running on a treadmill burns more than 700 calories per hour.  Additionally, running is a very honest exercise.  It doesn’t allow much cheating when it comes to supporting your body.  Unless you are gripping and leaning on the handrails (hard to do when running, but I have seen it), you are forced to hold your body upright, engage core strength, and move your legs forward.  All of these actions will make you burn more calories per minute.

    So what happens if you’re not a runner?  Elliptical machines, indoor bikes, rowing machines, and even a steep incline on your treadmill all offer great ways to burn calories for those of us who need something that is lower impact.  These methods of exercise also provide varying levels of opportunity to cheat when it comes to working out.  If you want to burn calories, cheating is anything that makes the machine, rather than your body do the work.  Avoid supporting yourself by holding on to the machine as much as possible. Leaning on the elliptical machine means you aren’t holding yourself upright. Standing on a bike with bad form or using very low resistance means you aren’t engaging your leg muscles to pedal, which results in fewer calories burned.  This is where calorie calculators break down and the number of calories per hour becomes much more individual.

    If you want to burn the most calories on your home fitness equipment, choose a piece of fitness equipment that you can use with good form and use good form while using that equipment.  If running hard on a treadmill for an hour is not something that you can physically (or psychologically) tolerate, it’s not going to be the piece of equipment that burns the most calories for you, even if it blasts calories in a laboratory setting.  Rowing is a calorie blaster that targets the upper body and provides a great low impact workout.  The calorie burn is also close to running.  Depending on the amount of time you plan to spend working out, rowing is a great way to make use of limited time by providing intense workouts that also build strength.

    If you have more time for working out but want to avoid high levels of impact, consider an upright cycle or elliptical machine and learn how to use it well.  Avoid leaning on the handlebars and use sufficient resistance to make your muscles feel tired during your workout.  Simply leaning on a machine while you read or surf the web, might look good on a calorie calculator, but your heart rate monitor and your waistline will tell a different story. When used properly, both biking and the elliptical can burn calories that are in keeping with running on a treadmill, from 500-1000 calories per hour, with the advantage of being more forgiving when it comes to impact.

    Remember when it comes to exercising to burn the most calories, it’s not so much the machine as the way you use it.  Use a heart rate monitor for objective feedback.  Calories are really a way of demonstrating the work performed.  The more of the work your body performs versus relying on the machine, the more calories you’re burning. Choosing the exercise machine that you can use well, without compromising your joints or core is the best way to burn fat through exercise.  
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