Exercise

  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.
    Read more »
  2. 5 Tips to Help You Exercise Safely in the Summer Heat



    With the summer months rapidly approaching, it’s time to take your workouts outdoors!   While many of us may be tempted to jump right into our outdoor workouts, we should all take great care in preparing for the summer heat and the effects it can have on our bodies.

    Let’s take a looks at 5 tips that will assure your outdoor workouts are safe this summer.

    Tip #1: Hydrate

    Exercising in hot weather increases our body temperature, so it’s vital to assure your body is properly hydrated before, during, and after your workouts.

    While the body’s ability to perspire acts as a natural cooling system, it’s your job to make sure you’re hydrated enough for this to work properly.

    Your focus should primarily be on drinking water.  Remember, our bodies consist of 50-60% water, so it’s vital to maintain this amount.  On a hot day, you can easily lose 3-5% of your body’s water weight while working out.

    During exercise, aim for drinking 8-10 oz. of water every 20 minute. After exercise, be sure to get in another 10-20 oz. to assure you are properly re-hydrating.  Another great way to re-hydrate is to grab some fruit.  An orange or an apple will help replace valuable electrolyte loss and aid in recovery.

    Tip #2:  Avoid Peak Heat

    Plan your outdoor workouts for early in the morning or around sunset. Sun and humidity levels are more intense during the daytime hours, so to minimize the effects of the heat plan your workouts around that part of the day.

    Tip #3:  Dress Appropriately

    Invest in some lightweight, loose-fitting workout clothes that will help wick away moisture and keep your body cooler.  Sweating alone does not cool the body, but the evaporation of sweat does.  Clothes that soak up your sweat not only become uncomfortable and weigh you down, but they don’t allow for proper evaporation.

    Also avoid dark colored workout clothing that will absorb the heat and focus on wearing light-colored items.

    Tip #4:  Acclimate

    If you have been running indoors or working out in a cooler climate, be prepared to ease up a bit when the weather heats up.  Heat and humidity can wear your body down much faster when you’re not used to it, so gradually work your way into summer heat shape and allow your body to build up a tolerance to that kind of workout environment.

    Those high intensity intervals or long distance treadmill runs will be tough to match in the hot weather, so be smart and gradually work your way up to them.

    Tip #5:  Listen To Your Body

    It’s crucial to pay attention to your body when it comes to working out in the heat.  Heat exhaustion and sun stroke can quickly sneak up on you and put you in a world of hurt!

    If you’re feeling any of the following symptoms while working out in the heat, it’s time to shut it down and find some air-conditioned comfort:
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Weakness
    • Light-headedness
    • Muscle cramps
    • Headache


    To quickly cool off, here are a couple of tricks:
    • Run cold water over your forearms
    • Apply ice packs or cooling wraps to the back of your neck, your forearms, and/or your armpits
    • Use a spray bottle to mist your skin while fanning air on it to aid in the evaporation/cooling
    Read more »
  3. Bike To Work Day: 7 Easy Tips For Commuting On Your Bike

    Bike to Work Day. Person commuting to work on a bicycle. We’ve all seen the occasional cyclist commuting on our daily drive to work and have probably even thought about doing it yourself. Not only does bike commuting help the environment, but it also saves money (gas, wear and tear on your car, etc.) and is a great way to stay fit and burn a few extra calories.

    The month of May is National Bike Month, with the biggest day being Bike to Work Day. In 2017 that day will be recognized on Friday, May 19th.

    Bike to Work Day has been around for quite some time, having originated in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists. Since its inception, a growing number of communities have embraced the event and used it as a way to promote the bicycle as a healthy and safe alternative for commuting to work.

    It must be working. . .the United States has seen a 62% growth in the number of bicycle commuters since 2000!

    So if you’re not among the growing bike commuters across the country, why not use Bike to Work Day as your reason to give it a shot! Even if you only commute a handful of times, it’s better than none at all. And who knows. . . once you give it a try you might fall in love with it!

    Here are 7 tips to help get you started on your bike commute to work:

    #1: Consider the Distance

    If you live only a few miles from work, it’s very conceivable to commute both ways by bike. However, if that distance is a bit longer, consider hitching a ride to work with a co-worker and bringing your bike along for the commute home. As you get used to the distance, you may find that you want to make it a 2 way commute.

    #2: Map Out Your Route Options

    You’ll definitely want to consider distance, traffic volume, road conditions and terrain on all of your bike route options. Some routes may be a bit longer, but if they are safer, it could be a better option. Test out your potential routes on the weekends and see which is the best fit for your commute. There are also bike route apps and websites that can be very useful in helping you find your best options.

    #3: Set a Frequency Goal

    For many first-time bike commuters, it’s a pretty lofty goal to commit to biking to work every day. To start, set an achievable goal of biking to work 2-3 times/week. After you can consistently do that, then definitely add to it!

    #4: Dress the Part

    Most bike commuters don’t like to wear their work clothes (unless they have a very short commute), so investing in comfortable bike clothes (bright colors, bike shorts, etc.) will be well worth it. Make sure your bike has reflectors or a flashing light if you’ll be biking in the early morning or evenings. And, it goes without saying, wear a helmet!

    #5: Don’t Forget Your Cell Phone

    A phone can come in very handy - and no, not for talking or texting while you’re riding – but in case you get a flat tire or have any other issues that may cause you to be late getting to work or returning home. A call to your boss explaining the situation will go a long way!

    #6: Clean Up!

    You might work up a bit of a sweat on your commute, so be sure to plan accordingly when it comes to cleaning yourself up before work. If you’re lucky enough to have a shower at work, great! If not, your co-workers will appreciate you having the appropriate supplies to freshen-up before your work day starts.

    #7: Get in Bike Shape

    It can be tough to just jump into a regular bike commute if you don’t have an appropriate level of fitness. I don’t think your employer would be too happy if you showed up to work worn out and useless for the rest of the day! Get out and ride your bike to develop a fitness base or, incorporate an indoor exercise bike into your fitness routine.

    Happy Biking!
    Read more »
  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.
    Read more »
  5. How to Start a Home Gym with a Strength Training Focus

    How to start a home gym. Two people exercising on a home gym Strength training in your home gym is a possibility.

    By now, you all know that a strong body is a healthy body.

    You also know that strength training can be one of the most efficient ways to lose unwanted body fat.

    And, ladies, you know that you won’t get bulky by incorporating strength training into your fitness routine.

    While treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes are great and can be a solid addition to your home workouts, I highly recommend the following pieces of strength equipment to not only give you unlimited options on the exercises you can do, but also to help you build the strong, healthy, fit body you deserve!

    Barbell & Weights

    A weightlifter using a standard barbell or Olympic barbell in a home gym. Barbells can come in various lengths and sizes but there are two main types that you’ll most likely have to choose from…standard and Olympic.

    Standard bars are one inch in diameter and utilize weight plates with 1 inch holes in the center. They’re a good starting point but are not the best option for heavier lifting (over 150 lbs.).

    Olympic bars, on the other hand, are built to handle a bigger load. They are typically 7 feet long and weigh 45lbs. without any weight added to them. The end sleeves are 2 inches in diameter, so the weigh plates have larger 2” holes through the center.

    Barbells allow you to do a wide variety of exercise from presses to pulls to squats to deadlifts. They also allow you to progress by being able to add small increments of weight as needed.

    Bumper plates are also a great option for your barbell and the home gym setting. These rubber plates are made for Olympic size bars and are easier to move around and a better (safer) option if you will be doing any floor-based lifting.

    Power Rack

    A in shape woman lifting with a power rack in her home gym. While it may sound a bit daunting, a power rack is actually one of the most versatile pieces of strength equipment you can add to your home gym.

    First of all, a rack goes hand in hand with your barbell. It allows you to do almost anything with your barbell from bench pressing to squatting to racking your bar for deadlifts, curls, push-ups, shoulder presses, etc.

    The power rack also adds the ever important measure of safety by allowing you to rack your weight and know that safety bars can be put in place in case you cannot complete a lift.

    Racks also allow you to add accessories to your home gym. Many offer built-in pull-up/chin bars and allow for add-ons such as dip attachments and band pegs.

    Racks come in many different sizes, so don’t be fooled by the thought of it taking up too much space. You’ll be surprised with just how much you can accomplish within a power rack with a barbell and weight plates.

    Dumbbells

    Chrome dumbbells in a row on a dumbbell rack. Dumbbells are just as versatile as a barbell and allow for an unlimited number of exercise options. And, like barbells, you’ll have a couple of different options to choose from.

    Selectorized dumbbells are also popular with the home-gym crowd these days. They’re a bit more expensive than the plate loaded bells, but allow users to quickly change their weight. They may not, however, be the best option for those in need of heavy dumbbells (above 50 lbs.)

    On the other hand, if you have more space and a higher home gym budget, you may want to consider going all out and getting a commercial-style dumbbell rack with fixed-weight bells. Most commercial gyms are equipped with dumbbells that range from 5-100+ pounds. This makes for a very convenient option as far as quickly grabbing the weight you need, but like I said, they will eat up a lot of space and add quite a bit to your home gym investment.

    Utility Bench

    A folding utility bench in a home gym. To get the most out of your barbell and/or dumbbells, I highly suggest adding a utility bench to your home gym.

    A bench allows you to perform any exercise that requires you to lay down (bench press, pullovers, tricep extensions, flyes, ab work, etc.) or work in a seated position (shoulder press, lateral raises, bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions, etc.)

    Benches are relatively inexpensive, but can get a bit more expensive as you move up to more of a commercial grade piece that is built with a heavier grade steel and often has more padding and higher quality upholstery.

    Benches can come in just a fixed flat position or one that can be adjustable up and down to accommodate for incline and decline exercises.

    The heavier duty benches should have wheels that allow you to easily move them around, while the home model flat benches are usually light enough to pick up and move.

    2 Bonus Strength Pieces

    A woman using TRX suspension kit in her home gym. While the equipment above will go a long way in providing you with a great strength-based home gym, there are a couple of budget-friendly/space-friendly pieces of equipment that you may want to consider adding:

    Suspension Trainer. Systems like TRX allow you to utilize your own body weight and are a great addition to a strength training routine. The straps are easily attachable to your power rack, a door or a support beam. They are relatively inexpensive when you consider the wide variety and overall number of exercises you can do with them.

    Resistance Bands. These are a great strength tool for any home gym and can be utilized for a wide variety of exercises. You can attach them to your rack, to a door, wrap them around equipment, or utilize your own body to stabilize them for a wide-variety of pushes, pulls, etc. Plus they take up minimal space….always a bonus when it comes to your home gym!
    Read more »
Page