08-12-2015

Why I Love 400 Repeats + Backyard Workout Video

On Monday I had a track workout that might have been the most challenging track workout I’ve ever done. It wasn’t so much that I felt like I was pushing myself to the max (like some workouts where you “go to the well”) but it was just a non-stop workout with minimal break…Thanks Coach Marc!

My mom and I did a 1.5 mile warmup, then 12x400s at 2:05 average per lap with only 25 seconds break in between, THEN 2 more 400s at 1:50ish but with a longer break, then 1 mile cooldown. We were supposed to do 4 total of the 1:50 laps but we only did 2 because I was so beat I couldn’t hold the pace any longer.

Running those 400s at 2:05 was hard I knew I wasn’t running 100% effort. The hard part was that as soon as you finished, you only had 25 seconds before you had to go off again. My sister went to be our official timer :)

I started the first few closer to 2:10, just to get a feel. I have never done 12 400s in a row…let alone with such little break…so I was kind of nervous.

This was the exact workout I needed though after a few iffy weeks of training where I just felt slow and off. I wanted this as a confidence booster. I love 400 repeats and they always make me feel fast and strong. Here are a few reasons you should incorporate them into your training too:

  • Even if you’re marathon training, 400s (or any track workout) will benefit you greatly. It will help improve your speed, strength and leg turnover. With shorter breaks like I did, you’ll challenge yourself to hold a faster than marathon pace pace (did that make sense?) so that your usual marathon pace will then feel “easier” come race day.
  • There are all sorts of variations of 400s you can do based on what you’re training for. Coach Marc is the perfect person to ask about this. You can do faster 400s with more breaks in between, slower 400s with minimal break, or a combination of both. Even many elites do combinations of paces. For example, I’ve seen videos of Brenda Martinez‘s workouts where she’ll do sets of 400s or 800s, then finish with a “tag” aka a 400 at 100% effort. Like I said, it all comes down to what you’re training for.

I slept like a baby Monday night AND last night because this workout really tired me out. No joke, I could have gone to sleep at 8 pm last night if I didn’t have stuff to do.

Anyway, I also put out a new workout video on my YouTube channel today! It’s a workout you can do right in your backyard, and it targets your lower body (with some cardio thrown in). Check it out:

Make sure to make it higher quality on YouTube by clicking 780 or 1080P :)

Let me know if you try it out!

Do you love or hate track workouts? What’s your favorite distance?

If you’re on YouTube, please subscribe to my channel! Will be adding many new videos :)

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02-26-2015

Does The Fat Burning Zone Still Exist?

Last week I was at a spin class, and the instructor had us do a steady ride for a song or two, and said we’d be burning more calories in this aerobic pace because we were in the fat burning zone. Then she said we should come to her endurance ride because it would be 90 minutes in the fat burning zone. I was thinking to myself, “Wait what? Is the fat burning zone still a thing?” I haven’t heard that terminology in forever, so I started doing some research…aka Googling :-P

Does the fat burning zone still exist? Or is HIIT better?

From what I remembered, the fat burning zone was maintain your heart rate at a certain rate in order to burn the most fat/calories. So why is this the case, supposedly? Here’s a great explanation from Active:

The fat-burning zone is a concept that the body burns a greater amount of fat at lower-intensity aerobic exercise than it does at higher intensities. Actually, the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities. At lower intensities the body may burn 50 percent of the calories from fat, while at higher intensities it may only burn 35 percent. But at higher intensities you burn way more total calories—and more fat calories overall—than you do at lower intensities.

Very interesting. And that’s what I was thinking in the class. We did a lot of hill rides and sprints and in my mind, that probably burns more calories overall than a steady pace. Furthermore, us runners know that the more you do something at a certain pace/rate, the more your body adapts. If you’re in the aerobic zone for every workout for months, eventually you will plateau. Speaking of plateau, I wrote about a few ways to beat that pesky plateau a while ago.

Let’s also talk about the afterburn effect. You may have read in plenty of fitness magazines that the reason HIIT (high intensity interval training) is so beneficial is because of the afterburn. For hours after you’re done exercising, your body continues to burn calories, whereas after aerobic exercises, there isn’t much of an afterburn. In a study done by the University of Maine, “A low intensity exercise group cycled at a steady rate of 3.5 minutes. The higher intensity exercise group required three 15 second sprints as fast as the subjects could run.”

What were the results?

The cycling group burned 29 calories vs. 4 calories for the sprinting group during the exercise. But when you take into account the calories burned after exercise, or the afterburn effect, the numbers look much different – 39 calories burned for the cycling group vs. 65 calories burned for the sprinting group. A surprising 95% of the total calorie burn occurred after the sprinting exercise!2 Keep in mind the cycling group exercised for almost 5x longer than the sprint group (3.5 minutes vs. 45 seconds).

I’ll admit, sometimes when I do a quick hill sprint session on the treadmill and I’m done in 15-20 minutes, I feel like I should keep exercising. But it’s clear that HIIT training really does have more “bang for your buck.” Why slog along on a treadmill for hours (okay maybe that’s an exaggeration) when you could do circuit training or HIIT and be done in 20-30 minutes (and reap the same benefits if not better)?

Obviously, this all doesn’t relate to those of us who are training for a long distance race. That is always the conundrum I have. I want to burn more fat and get leaner, but I’m be training for a half marathon or a marathon, so long, steady state cardio is my life at the moment, other than track workout or tempo days. Though I have started doing circuit training for strength workouts that are high intensity and last 30 minutes. I’ve loved it so far, and it’s a good change of pace from my usual lifting routine. Here’s an example of a workout I do.

Have you heard the term “fat burning zone” used recently?

What do you think of it vs. HIIT?

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12-03-2014

Cardio Acceleration Workout

Yesterday I was going to run on the treadmill then do a strength workout. Well, as I’m driving to the gym I realize I forgot a sports bra. The worst! There’s no way I can run without one, so while my mom ran 2 miles as her warm-up I just foam rolled and did some stretching. I decided to add cardio into my strength workout, and came up with this workout below:

cardio-strength-workout
I wanted to mainly focus on legs, but did some upper body as well with the presses focusing on shoulders and the rows on my back. I’ve never added in cardio while lifting – I typically just like to lift and do cardio separately…boy, was this killer! I was dripping in sweat. 

Doing intervals of cardio in between lifts is called “cardio accelerations.” According to Men’s Fit Club:

A study done at UCLA (University of California) showed that cardio acceleration delivers better blood flow and gives you a much better pump and also has shown to increase the rate of recovery because of the addition nutrients and oxygen pumped into the muscles. 

Cardio acceleration intervals also create that afterburn everyone always talks about. If you’re not keen on doing treadmill intervals or hill sprints as “HIIT,” then this type of workout is perfect for you!

The step-ups were done on a bench with no added weight – just do them as fast as you can. Harder than it sounds! For the last round, where I wrote cardio of your choice, I did stair sprints. 

I think I am going to start doing this type of workout more often, since I think it will have a benefit for me as a runner as well. Not only will I be burning extra calories, I’ll be doing plyometric/explosive type movements as cardio, which will make me a stronger runner.

Have you added in cardio intervals to your strength workouts? What’s your favorite way? I hate mountain climbers!!

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09-09-2014

Quick Hill Interval Workout

Are you limited on time or just want a good finisher after a lifting workout? Then you have to try this hill interval workout I did yesterday!

My mom and I were sweating bullets once we were done, and it only took about 10 minutes (or maybe less). 

Doing hill sprints helps torch calories as well as make you stronger – which is a great thing if you’re a runner. Adding in hill intervals will help build speed, strength and endurance. 

Here’s the workout:

Hill Sprint Workout

Instructions:

  1. Warm up for 5-10 minutes. Obviously skip this step if you have been lifting or exercising prior to this and are using this as a finisher.
  2. Start running! Take a 1 minute break in between each interval. I like to walk or slow jog.
  3. Cool down & walk for 5 minutes once you’re done.

Like I said, perfect for when you’re short on time but want to get in a good sweat.

Do you like hill sprints? I know some people hate them but I love them. I also like hillier courses better than flatter race courses. How about you?

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01-02-2014

Upper Body HIIT Workout

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this workout a week or so ago.

Once a week, my brother and I are doing a high intensity interval workout that also incorporates strength. We are currently following a strength training program, but I will talk about that in another post!

This workout focuses on upper body muscle groups, but you will definitely still feel it in your legs during the cardio portions.

Directions:

Perform the first set of 3 exercises 2-3 times through. For each exercises, time yourself for 1 minute and count your reps. In between each exercises take a 45-60 minute break. Once you’re done with the first batch, move onto the second. Your break will be however long it takes you to set up for the second set of exercises – just don’t take too long ;)

My brother and I did each set of exercises 2 times through, and it took a total of 21 minutes. We were huffing and puffing by the end. It’s a short workout, but intense! For a longer workout, just add sets.

The reason you will count your reps is so that the next time you do this workout you can compare your numbers.

One last thing, make sure you focus on form. Yes, you’re trying to get as many reps as possible in 1 minute, but only with good form. For example, I went way slower on squat to curl than I did on barbell rows, because I wanted to get in good squats. Don’t sacrifice form for numbers.

Exercises:

Here are some YouTube links to show you how to do some of the exercises with proper form:

Tricep Pushups

Barbell Bentover Row

Box Jumps

Let me know if you try this workout or have any questions!

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07-03-2013

Health/Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

After today it’s the weekend wooooo!!! (Hopefully you don’t have work on Friday!) Who has exciting 4th of July plans? I’ll be heading down to Atlantic City with friends, and I’m so excited!

Here are your health links for today:

What’s your favorite way to do HIIT/cardio intervals? I love hill sprints!

 

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06-25-2013

Cardio + Strength Workouts

For the past three weeks, I have been challenging myself with cardio/strength workouts in place of running. I needed a break from running before starting marathon training next week.

I got inspiration from my friend Courtney, who does small group training every week. I have gone a few times and those workouts are hardcore!

I made three different workouts that I would do for three weeks, and track my progress. I did 2-3 sets of each exercise for 1 minute and counted how many reps I could do with good form. It was a total body workout with cardio worked in to really get my heart rate soaring.

Here’s an example of the workout I did on Mondays, and finished up yesterday. Only two more workouts to go this week then it’s back to running! As you can see, I did progress! Though other workouts have more progress, but I will post a wrap-up at the end of the week.

I also increased my weight for this past week which is why some numbers are a bit lower, but they are still close to my beginning numbers! After each workout, I was literally dripping in sweat. Loved it! Sad I will have to cut back on these once training starts.

Here is week 1 and week 2:

 

And here are yesterday’s results (week 3):

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I want to do a workout video with one of these workouts because those reverse lunge jumps are killer, along with other moves I’ve done as well!

Have you ever done HIIT/crossfit/cardio&strength type workouts? Do you like that or lifting heavy better?

 

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05-28-2013

Getting Back Into Lifting

I took last week off from exercise in general after the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Yes, I could have done spin or easy cross training but I really just needed a physical and mental break from running/exercise. I just wanted to relax for a bit before getting back into lifting, and in a few weeks, marathon training. Have you ever needed a break?

Definitely got lots of sleep last week :)

But I’m back now and ready as ever to get back into heavy lifting! I want to use the 3-4 weeks I have before marathon training to re-focus on building muscle and strength (and getting  a bit leaner), before I have to focus back on running and put lifting on the backburner.

I’m debating on whether to do upper and lower body splits, which has really helped me build strength in the past…or doing full body workouts…decisions decisions! For now, I think I’ll do upper/lower, and include some HIIT like hill sprints on upper body days. Here’s what I plan on doing (though this week I’m starting on Tuesday since the gym was closed for Memorial Day):

Monday: Upper body + hill sprints or HIIT video

Tuesday: Lower body (+ biceps. I read a study that said that doing biceps after legs actually helps them grow and get stronger faster than doing them at the end of an upper body day. Tried it and helped me reach my unassisted pullup goal!)

Wednesday: Run or spin

Thursday: Upper body + hill sprints or HIIT video

Friday: Lower body + biceps/triceps

Saturday: Run, spin, bodypump or HIIT video

Sunday: Rest

I am so looking forward to this! After months of running and training for a half marathon, I’m excited to be lifting, trying new classes, and doing HIIT videos I have found recently, like those on Fitness Blender, or Insanity videos. I am a firm believer in switching things up when you get bored, so I’m really excited for this. I just need a change before marathon training starts and takes over my life :-p

Have you needed to take a break from running, spinning, lifting, etc? What did you replace it with?

 

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04-09-2013

Spring into Shape!

Here is a workout challenge for you today! You can even do it outside if the weather is as nice by you as it is by me :-)

As always, it is body weight/no equipment needed…so no excuses! Repeat 3-5x through for a great cardio and strength workout!

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