Remember this next time you are at the gym, taking a yoga class or going for a run at the park. It’s simple – but if just focus on your workout and nothing else – you’ll get better results!
Remember this next time you are at the gym, taking a yoga class or going for a run at the park. It’s simple – but if just focus on your workout and nothing else – you’ll get better results!
Thanks Cosmopolitan Magazine for featuring me and my workout tip in this month’s May issue!
My tip (page 212): Start at your goal number of reps and count down vs. up. For instance…if you are aiming to do 30 pushups, don’t start at 1 and count up to 30 – instead start at 30 and count down! When you can see that the end is getting closer you are more likely to push and stick with it. It’s simple but works!
January is by far the most popular month when it comes to health and fitness. More gym memberships are sold during this month, more people hire trainers, more fitness products are purchased and weight loss plans are joined. But, it can be quite overwhelming. This year, why not try something new? I’ve decided I want to learn to SCUBA so I will be taking lessons this year! Scuba and water sports are a great way to get fit and area also great if you have injuries. Not into water sports? Try some new classes at your gym or a new yoga studio in town. The most important thing is to find activities that are fun, a diet that is simple and doable and make it a commitment. If you haven’t been able to commit to workouts before, you may want to read my post about timing your workouts. Below are some fun new products and gear that I will be using during 2013 and maybe they will inspire you to get started on your new (or improved) fitness journey for 2013! Continue Reading…
All day today, I’ve been hobbling around because I have sore hamstrings. But – don’t’ get me wrong…I love it! Why am I so sore? Well, I did 4 sets of deadlifts yesterday with a 30lb kettlebell! Deadlifts are kinda sneaky because rarely do I feel them when I’m actually doing the exercise – but the next day it hits me. I prefer stiff-legged deadlfts (sometimes called Romanian deadlifts) pictured at left. Deadlifts work your hamstrings and glutes and give you a nice “lifted” look ; )
What You Need: 2 dumbbells a kettlebell or a barbell. I typically use anywhere from 25-40lb depending on how many reps/sets I’m doing – but if you are just starting out I would grab 2 5lb (10 total) or 8lb (16lb total) weights. If you have super tight hamstrings and/or low back – also stick to a lighter weight until you get some flexibility.
The Movement: Start in a standing position with your feet right under your hips (feet almost touching). Before you even start to lean over, draw your shoulder-blades down your back (shoulders away from ears) and think about keeping your back super flat. Slowly bend over releasing the weights down your legs (relax arms and let weights hang) until you get to about 90 degrees. It’s super important that you don’t start to round your back – so use a mirror if you need to and look from the side. Even if you are super flexible – you don’t really need to go much past 90 degrees or you could pull your hamstring. Keep your legs almost straight – with just a slight bend. You never want to lock out your knees or hyper-extend, but at the same time you do not want the knees to bend too much or you won’t target your hamstrings. Visualize what your legs are doing: your hamstrings are actually lengthening as you lean forward and then they tighten as you stand back up to the top. It’s this eccentric/concentric action that strengthens and tones your hamstrings! Also, the more you squeeze your glutes – the more you work them too! Exhale each time you stand back up to the top.
Sets/Reps: Depending on the weight you have – aim for about 12-15 reps and do 3-4 sets.
*Tip: It’s normal to feel this some in your lower back – it doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. Just lighten the weight if you need to. Your low back and hamstrings work together a lot, including during this exercise. Typically your lower back is weaker than your hamstrings, so you will probably feel it in your back while you are doing it but then your hamstrings will be the sorest the next day.
We are in Day 3 of our Perform Beautifully Workout Challenge and one of the most popular questions I’ve seen is about cardio and breaking up the workout. I recommend that when you are first starting a workout program that you don’t break up your session. Why? keep reading…
What if I can’t do 60 minutes?
This week’s challenge is to workout 60 minutes 6x week with each workout broken down into: 30 min cardio, 20 min strength training and 10 min core. However, some people have said 60 minutes at once is too much, so they’ve been breaking it up. This ok to do if you can’t set aside a full hour, but I’d rather you schedule 60 minutes each day just to focus on yourself. This will get you in the habit of working out each day and making it a priority vs. trying to squeeze it in and putting other things first. Breaking up workouts into 2 sessions works if you are a little more advanced and want to get in longer or more intense cardio session (like doing a long training run for a race) and then prefer to do weight training later or vice versa. This only works for those that are more dedicated and have no problem committing to a workout schedule. But – if you are at the beginner/intermediate level or need to lose weight – I recommend you get it all done at once. If it’s too hard and you aren’t used to working out that long – just decrease the intensity of your cardio and also take mini breaks to catch your breath and drink some water. Set your timer for 60 minutes and just knock it out!
I’m sore – should I still workout?
Yes – just take down the intensity. Read my blog post here: http://www.cari-fit.com/2012/09/dealing-with-soreness/
How hard should my cardio be?
For cardio – it’s good to mix things up. Some weeks (or workout days) do a steady session and work on increasing your endurance. Other times, do interval workouts mixing high, medium and low intensities. However, if you are following my challenge – this first week we are doing 30 minutes of steady cardio. Basically, I want you guys to focus on steady intensity at a medium pace – whatever that is for you. Since this is our first week, I’d like for you try to do cardio for 30min without stopping. If this means mixing in some walk breaks, marching in place (if you are doing a dvd, etc) or you slow your pace on the bike – that’s totally fine. If you are more advanced – try to do a steady 30min workout that is at medium to med/hard effort. We will change this up next week!
This week I’m featured on Oakley’s Perform Beautifully site…OakleyPBC.com. Click on the post below to read about my “look of the week” along with some vacation workout tips!
I just started a new 6-week session of my Bombshell Bootcamp and thought I’d share my tips on soreness…
During the first few weeks of camp, you are probably going to be sore….especially if you haven’t worked out in awhile or are used to doing a different style of workout. After a few weeks, you won’t be as sore – but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Soreness is a good thing (to an extent) because it means you are challenging your muscles. We change exercises at bootcamp so often and incorporate so many different things – you may experience soreness from time to time. This is basically the same principle as “muscle confusion” – where you want to “confuse” your muscles for best results. You arent’ going to change the look and shape of your body if you do the same exercies and eat the same diet week after week – so that’s why we mix things up at bootcamp!
Tips to Help With Soreness:
I was recently asked to be a guest blogger for Lifetime Fitness! Check out my article below…
Cari (on the right) and the co-owner of Bombshell Bootcamp Carrie Barnhart
Don’t let the hot temps this summer mess with your routine. Whether you are a runner, trying to lose weight, want to drop body fat or just want to be able to workout with your friends – you can find an alternative indoor workout to keep you on track. Summer is a great time to mix things up and challenge your mind and body for great results!
If You Are a Runner or Cyclist
I’m a marathon runner and have to start training for fall/winter marathons in the summer, which can be brutal. I still do my long runs outside (early!) but try to do my weekday runs and cross training inside until it gets cooler. A great substitution for speedwork is the jumprope. You can do a jumprope interval workout (mix in weight training) and you can get your heart rate up to tempo level and sometimes even at sprint intensity if you practice. Continue Reading…
In this post:
Most of us will be traveling at some point this summer either for vacation, to visit family or for work. Just keep in mind that nothing is worse than coming back from vacation to find out you’ve packed on the pounds! Follow my tips below and try my one of my sample workouts in the Summer Workout Series featured on CBS so that maybe this summer you’ll actually lose a few pounds instead of gaining them.
Blessed with a great upper body? Well, don’t just work your legs – and vice versa. Don’t just work the body parts you think you need to improve because more than likely you will end up ignoring some larger muscle groups which burn the most calories and boost your metabolism. You also want to be balanced and working only a few areas can set you up for injury. You can work different muscles on different days, but make sure you hit ALL muscles every week. I personally prefer to do total body workouts at almost every workout.
Not sure what order to use? Read my previous post HERE.
Squats are one of my favorite exercises to really sculpt the legs. They use almost all of your lower body muscles (glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves) so they also burn more calories. But, you don’t have to do the same old squats every day. Change up your routine by varying your weights, reps, or do some heel raises or plyo jumps – like I demo in this video. If you live in Houston you can watch my workouts with Lily Jang each Monday morning on our “Wakeup and Workout” segments that air between 6-7am on CBS.
For most people, the act of doing “cardio” can seem complicated. What exercises count as cardio? How long do I go for? How many calories am I burning? Well, first of all…in order to lose weight or burn fat, you really need to do 3-4 days a week of cardio. At the gym this can include using the treadmill, elliptical machine or stationary bike. Or, if you prefer to be outdoors, you can bike, jog, walk fast or swim. Another good cardio option is to go take a class at the gym. The best cardio classes have “cardio” in the name or description. Spinning classes are also good sources for cardio because they keep your heart rate up most of the time. This ties in with the next question…”how long do I go for?”. Your cardio should be a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes if you really want to see results fast. But, the key is that you must have your heart rate elevated the entire time. Does cleaning your house count as true cardio? No. Does walking around the mall for an hour on Saturday count? No. But- it’s definitely better than nothing and it is a step in the right direction! Yes, light walking is definitely good for you. But, in order to lose weight you have to make it a challenge and most importantly break a SWEAT!
Here is where the RPE (rate of perceived exertion) comes in to play. You should be varying your RPE so that you get a full range during the workout. This means that your warmup (first 5 min.) should be at about a 3-5 on theand the rest of the workout should be between 6-9 (for best results do intervals!). If it’s really easy to carry on a conversation during the whole workout, you are not making it hard enough. Do you ever see those people at the gym reading a book while on the treadmill?? They are NOT using their RPE scale! Here is a guide:
RPE 1-2: Very easy; you can converse with no effort.
RPE 3: Easy; you can converse with almost no effort.
RPE 4: Moderately easy; you can converse comfortably with little effort.
RPE 5: Moderate; conversation requires some effort.
RPE 6: Moderately hard; conversation requires quite a bit of effort.
RPE 7: Difficult; conversation requires a lot of effort.
RPE 8: Very difficult; conversation requires maximum effort.
RPE 9-10: Peak effort; no-talking zone.
So, next time you hop on the treadmill… test yourself using the scale and see how hard you are really working. You’ll probably find that you can push yourself harder in a 30min session than you would in an hour of boring steady cardio. Use this RPE scale and mix it up to really get the results you are after!
Running continues to become more popular each year and the number of marathon and half marathon runners continues to increase! I have a lot of friends and clients who have set a goal to run a half marathon in 2012 and have asked for my help. So, I thought I would put together a simple training plan like I did for “How to Train for a 10k in 6 Weeks”, which is my post popular blog post. I’ve run 4 marathons, many half marathons and will be running my first Ultra marathon in February – so this plan is based on my own experiences and what I feel works the best! I welcome feedback!
First things, first…if you are going to set a goal to run a half marathon then you need to make it PRIORITY. This means making it priority over other workouts (you can still cross-train), getting up early a lot, adjusting your diet and spending some money. But, it’s totally worth it.
1) Gear. Get the right shoes for your FEET (not best color, style, etc) and the right clothes. Go to a specialty store like Luke’s Locker and have them take a look at your arch, pronation and gate. My favorite shoe brand is Asics and for clothes I like Nike, Lululemon and Lucy – all of which make great sweat proof and dry-fit clothes. For a less expensive option, check Target and Walmart because they products that mimic Under Armour, which is also a good brand. Also, you may want to invest in a Garmin or use mapmyrun.com, Nike+ or other GPS tracking system. They are pretty accurate and can help you keep track of your progress (and it’s fun!).
2) A good schedule like below. Stick to it as much as you can. You may have an off week, have to go out of town, etc. so you can adjust it. Just make sure you get in your long run that week because that’s the most important!
3) Follow the 10 percent rule. Don’t increase your speed or distance more than 10 percent each week or you may get injured. For instance, if one week you run 10 miles total – don’t go more than 11 the next week.
4) Sign up for a race now so that you know when to start training. Ideally you will need 2-3 months for a half and double that for a full marathon.
5) Safe, planned training routes. I would recommend that you join a running club because they plan everything and will often put fluids out for you so you don’t have to wear a fluid belt. I do Kenyan Way in Houston but one of the largest national organizations is USA Fit. You could also check with your local Road Runners Association. If you don’t want to join a group or club, find some sample routes online or ask friends at your gym. If you are unsure – make sure you test the route out when it’s light outside and be aware of your surroundings (people, cars, bikers, etc).
6) Proper nutrition. You can’t put a bunch of junk in your body and expect to do well. Sure, you could probably finish a half marathon with a normal crappy American diet – but if you want to get a decent time you need to put away the processed food and sweets and stick to a “Clean” diet. But – as a runner you will need your carbs, so please don’t try a low-carb diet or you will not have energy for training or the race. Just know WHAT carbs are good (ie whole wheat vs. white bread). Do your research.
7) Runners World subscription! It does help.
8) Familiarize yourself with GU and other gels. You won’t need them until you are running at least about an hour or so – but don’t wait until race day to try it out.
9) Plan for possible setbacks. You may get runner’s knee, IT band tightness, plantar faciitis or one of the other fun runner injuries! Read up on them, so if you get one you know what to do. Most can be prevented with strength training, the right shoes and avoiding over training.
10) Most importantly – have fun! There are always more races and times to train – so don’t take it too seriously!
When Shape Magazine asked me what I thought would be a big trend in 2012, I had many ideas but the one I went with was “Sandbag Training” (see #12 in the article below). Sandbag training has been around for awhile now, but now many companies are making more functional bags with customized weights, handles and even pink ones for women (got mine HERE)! I will try to post a workout soon with some sample exercises. Until then, you can watch the video below to see how it can be used (warning: it’s tough!!).
Sample Sandbag Workout:
It’s that time of year again – time to start thinking about what you want to accomplish during the next year! For most people, at least 1 of their resolutions will revolve around health, diet, or weight loss. It’s a popular choice because the new year means you can create a “new you”! But, it can be discouraging if you want to make big changes and don’t know where to start. Plus all the choices and options out there to help you reach your goals can be quite overwhelming. Most people end up wasting money on crazy fads, programs (no, you don’t need to buy “Insanity”!) and weird food products.
This year, save your mind (and body) by keeping it simple. All you need is some basic workout equipment (a set of weights or resistance band, a mat and good workout clothes/shoes), a journal and most importantly – a plan to help you reach your goals. Start by setting a goal for this week like “I’m going to join a gym” or “I’m going to go for a run 3 times this week”. Then, set a long-term goal for the next month, but be realistic – that is the key! If you tell yourself you are going to lose 10lbs this month, it probably won’t happen and then come February you will just give up. Instead, make realistic goals like” I’ll join a bootcamp“, “I’ll ask a trainer for help” or “I’m going to lose at least 3lbs and get stronger this month”.
Last week we did our version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” at Bombshell Bootcamp and called it “The 12 Days of Fitness”! However, this is a great workout you can do any time of year. Start with a 10-15 minute warmup and then start this workout with #1 and work your way down to #12. However, the song is a “cumulative” song, meaning that each verse (or workout) is added to the previous one! For instance: On the 4th day of fitness my trainer gave to me 4 calling burpees, 3 french hills, 2 Turtle Tucks, etc. So, this circuit becomes quite challenging and should take you about 20-30minutes depending on how fast you go.
1 Bootcamper in a Pear Tree (hold tree pose for 10-30 seconds on each leg)
2 Turtle Tucks (jumps)
3 French Hills (or sets of high knees)
4 Calling Burpees
5 Golden Pushups
6 Geese a Lunging (6 sets of reverse lunges)
7 Santas Squatting (7 squats)
8 Lords ‘O Leaping (leaping jumps)
9 Swimmers Swimming (on your back ie “superman” – 9 sets)
10 Jacks a Jumping (10 jacks)
11 Plankers Planking (11 sets of alternating arm reaches or you can do leg raises – while in forearm plank position)
12 Drummers Drumming (wall sit in “drummer” position with fists on quads)
Ahh, the holidays. Most trainers, including myself, dread this time of year because it’s a time when all of our clients go bizerk and forget everything they’ve learned and worked so hard for the rest of the year. But, it’s not too late – you can take classes, hit the gym or enlist the help of a trainer. Just avoid saying the following if you really want to commit to staying fit over the holidays.
My office is making me fat! Be strong people! There is such a thing as self-control and willpower; you may just have to dig down deep to find it. If your office kitchen is filled with “goodies” that will make you fat – then just don’t go in there! I’m sure you won’t lose your job because of what you do or don’t eat. Instead, pack your desk full of healthy treats so that you won’t be tempted to have a cookie, brownie or whatever else is lurking around the office. Going out for holiday lunches? Just stick with salads and grilled options. Clients sending you sugary gifts? Reward the ones that send fruit or non-food items and tell the cookie senders that the fruit baskets were the hit of the office and maybe they’ll get the hint.
OMG, Yay – the eggnog lattes are back! What? Yeah, and your 10lbs will soon be back. Did you know this drink at Starbucks has 460 calories and 21 grams of fat? And that’s for the grande/medium with no whipped cream! Avoid any creamy drinks or ones that taste like dessert, because they have just as many calories as a dessert or more. If you are going to indulge in a holiday drink, try a low-cal cider, sugar-free hot chocolate, peppermint tea or the skinny cinnamon dolce latte at Starbucks (180 calories/6g fat) as an alternative.
Oh, don’t worry. I don’t like sweets. Yeah right. After a few cocktails you’ll be throwing back the eggnog as you stand in line at the dessert table. Stay away from the sweets! If you must have something sweet at a party, go for gingerbread (or gingersnaps), a “mini” dessert (like a cookie or bar) or even a candy cane. Think “small portions”. If you have to make a dessert yourself for an event, try using Truvia, Stevia or Splenda as alternatives to sugar or just make something that is “cleaner” like fruit dipped in dark chocolate. It’s still a crowd pleaser and your friends won’t blame you for their weight gain. Continue Reading…
Last night I held one of my weekly group training sessions with the Houston Rockets Power Dancers. I decided to make it a little harder than usual, because they are getting ready to start the new season (finally!) and will be on the court soon! So, I thought I’d share with you guys the exact workout we did (see below). Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!
Warmup: treadmills and stairs 5-10min
Strength Training (they use two 8-12lb weights for most exercises):
Also, I will be debuting a new workout series in the next couple of weeks called “Workout Like A Rockets Power Dancer” where I will feature a new dancer each week that will share one of her favorite workouts with you and we’ll challenge you to workout like an RPD for one week! Stay tuned…
When they asked me for my top 10 best butt exercises, I immediately thought about most of the moves I show in my dvd:”Long Lean Legs“! So, I included many of these same moves, along with a detailed description so readers can follow along at home. Give it a try and let me know what you think!