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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

NIFS Group Fitness Class: Boot Camp

20170424_201605.jpgFor the month of May, we highlighted Boot Camp as our group fitness class of the month. Have you outgrown some of the group fitness classes and want to take your training a step forward? Boot Camp may be just the thing you’ve been looking for to do that. This class is both challenging and exhausting, consisting of a 60-minute total-body workout. Let’s take a look at the benefits, class design, and who it best suits.

What does a Boot Camp class look like?

This is a good question, and the answer is simple: sweaty, exhausted people who need to jump into the shower immediately! Boot Camp takes place inside NIFS during the winter or stormy times; or often Steven, the class instructor, will take it outdoors. During the warmer months of the year, you will find Steven and his class along the Canal, downtown at the Indiana War Memorial, working out in White River State Park, or someplace around town that they find useful tools to utilize for their workout, all while getting a nice tan.

The format of the class typically involves some cardio, usually running or stairs and strength work like pushups, squats, lunges, and pull-ups. This class would fall into the categories of high-intensity, fast-paced resistance and endurance training.

Watch video.

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What is it good for?

Boot Camp is beneficial in lots of different areas of the fitness realm: cardio, strength, calisthenics, social interaction, and the never-give-up mental attitude that we all need to have! Also, often it takes place outdoors because it’s good for everyone to get out occasionally and see nature (unless the mosquitos are biting).

This class helps those who feel they have outgrown some of the other group fitness classes and really need to take their fitness up a notch. You will benefit from the high-intensity workouts that boost your cardiovascular endurance and overall strength—not to mention, Steven has a good group of folks who love working out together and interacting socially.

I’m new to exercise; is this class for me?

While we never want to exclude anyone from our classes, it would be wise to work your way up to this one if you are a first-time exerciser. The goal at NIFS is to get everyone comfortable and confident in their workouts and not leave anyone discouraged. If you feel you are physically fit and ready to raise the bar a little bit on your own workout standards, this is the class for you to try next. If you are uncertain whether it’s too much, just show up a few minutes before class time and talk with Steven to guide you in the right direction.

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Click here to see our full group fitness schedule and when classes are offered.

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio group fitness boot camp resistance endurance workout high intensity Group Fitness Class of the Month

Using Real Food to Fuel Endurance Workouts

ThinkstockPhotos-476098644.jpgOne of my main rules of thumb when helping clients with their food and nutrition choices is to choose more real foods. So why is it that when you are training or working out for over an hour, you hear about the importance of sugary and packaged drinks, gels, and bars?

Replacing Nutrients Lost During Endurance Workouts

As you sweat and use your body’s energy stores, it is important to replace those with glucose (sugar) and electrolytes (sodium and potassium). The easiest thing to do is to grab a bottle of Gatorade or package of GU as you head out for your long walk or run. However, if you want to decrease the amount of processed and packaged foods in your diet, real food can work, too.

You need to choose a carbohydrate that is easily digestible. A quick and easy calculation to know how much you need to consume is ½ to 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute of exercise. So for a two-hour training session, you would aim for between 60 and 120 grams of carbohydrate throughout that time. The addition of the carbohydrates allows your body more readily available fuel, and therefore you can perform better and train longer.

Which Whole Foods Should You Eat for Better Performance?

So what foods can you use for marathon training or any other training that takes more than an hour? The most researched foods and easiest to digest are bananas and raisins. One banana and ¼ cup of raisins each has 30 grams of carbohydrates, while 8 ounces of Gatorade has 15 grams of carbohydrates. Other real food options are the following:
  • Medjool dates: 2 = 35 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Applesauce squeeze packets: 1 = 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Salted boiled potato or sweet potato: 1 =30 grams of carbohydrate. Once you cook the potato, you can put it in a plastic baggie and then tear off a corner and squeeze it out like a GU package during your workout. You can do the same thing with mashed bananas.
  • Sugary, low-fiber dry cereal: Check the label, but for Fruit Loops 1 cup = 27 grams of carbohydrate.
  • White bread with honey or jam: 1 piece with 2 TB. = 45 grams of carbohydrate.
  • Pretzels: 25 mini = 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Everyone’s body is different, and as with other training fuels, practice is key. Try out different foods and combinations to see how your body responds. Never try something new on race or competition day. Individualize your plan with foods that you like and will look forward to having during your workout.

If you are considering training for an upcoming event such as the Carmel, Geist, or Mini Marathon and need help with your nutrition plan, contact Angie Scheetz, RD, at [email protected]. Or, join our Mini-Marathon Training Program

REGISTER NOW! for the 2016 NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program. Remember training with a group is a proven way to succeed in your running goals. Training starts Jan 27th. 

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition running marathon training mini marathon endurance whole foods carbs

Training the Active Aging Adult (Part 1 of 4)

There comes a day when you wake up one morning and realize you’re not 25 any longer. Usually, this happens when you’re 50—or in other words, after 25 years of denial and of being totally oblivious to nature’s less-than-subtle warnings: hair loss and color change, skin texture and wrinkles, where did that body fat come from, when did that thing (?) become so heavy to lift, and those stairs weren’t that high last year. The mind feels young but the body fades in and out of pretend youth. The body is also willing until it gets tired or pain rises above the level of annoyance.

But there is hope: you can be cool without being young, but cool doesn’t make you stronger, quicker, more flexible, thinner, and the owner of painless joints.

What Motivates Senior Fitness?

When you were younger, the goal of exercise was to look better naked. It seems reasonable, because younger people look better naked than old farts. Besides, older people have more pressing issues like serious joint pain, heart disease, diabetes, age-related weight gain, hormonal changes, and perhaps even the chilling shadow of cancer has visited them. No doubt that looking better and feeling better about yourself is really an important motivator to exercise, but they pale in comparison to these life-altering issues. Therefore, the motives for training of an aging active adult are more complex than a 25-year-old and must be recognized and honored when designing training programs.

Specific Health Concerns for Active Seniors

If you happen to be a fitness enthusiast over 50, these are things you need to be aware of.

  • Sarcopenia: An interesting word to say, but not so good to have, because it means a loss of muscle mass. Heavy-chain muscle fibers start dying out around age 30. Most professional athletes retire in their 30s because they have lost a step (in power and strength) and can no longer compete with younger athletes. Since most adults do not push their athletic genetic limits, they become aware of this loss of step in their 40s, or certainly by their 50s. This fiber loss is called sarcopenia. Unless there is some attempt to retain strength through formal strength training, this strength loss will continue at a ever-increasing and very noticeable rate. Common movement patterns—sit to stand, picking things up, pushing away and pulling back, pushing up and pulling down—will become increasingly more difficult as life quality decreases. Many people just give in to the process and call it “getting older.” It doesn’t have to be that way. Strength training can certainly slow it down.
  • Joint issues: Connective tissue seems to injure more easily and take longer to heal. Tendonitis becomes an all-too-common answer to the question, “How are you feeling?” Dynamic joint mobility training helps regain joint range of motion and lubricate joint surfaces with synovial fluid for cartilage health. Older athletes have to allow time in the program design for something the young take for granted.
  • Slow recovery: It takes longer for the body to repair and to make new tissue. This seems to be related to changes at the DNA and RNA levels as we age; and of course, changes in hormonal levels further compound the problem. Knowing this, nutrition and rest are key for proper recovery. The aging active adult has very little margin for error. Without proper nutrition and rest, progress will stall and the likelihood for injury will increase.
  • Balanced training: Cardio exercise is still important for overall health, but must be managed in such a way as to not interfere with the recovery for strength training, and not to add to the training volume to the point of over-training and adversely effecting the immune system. The body also does not respond well to being forced to adapt to opposing stimulus (cardio vs. strength). It gets confused as to what exactly it is being asked to do. How much cardio is very individual, but it is easy to err on the side of too much. Interval training may be an answer to those concerns by reducing the training time factor while still challenging the alactate, anaerobic, and aerobic substrates for improved conditioning.
  • Shared epiphany: There is a common experience at this age that there is a price to be paid for all of the fitness and health-related issues you chose to ignore when you were younger. Pain, discomfort, illness, and excess body fat are the reasons for your body’s “come to Jesus” meeting. Your body demands corrections, and your currency for payment is time and effort spent bringing the body back into balance. The aging active adult has been humbled enough by aging to be open to addressing these issues if the guidance they receive makes sense.

With the number of active aging adults increasing, both trainers and the older clients should understand the training needs and limitations of this age group in order to develop the best program designs that will effectively produce results and at the same time do no harm. So far, the fitness industry and fitness media have chosen to ignore the 800-pound gorilla by focusing on the 25- to 40-year-olds; but it is the aging active adults who have the greater need. They understand that the youth genie is not going back in the bottle, but that their life quality can be a whole lot better through proper training and nutrition.

In part 2 of this series, I talk more about the need for strength training at this age.

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This blog was written by Rick Huse, CSCS, WKC Competition Coach, and originally appeared on his blog. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio injury prevention muscles joint health senior fitness endurance strength pain

Endurance or Speed? Two Common Goals for Running

For years people have been running in marathons and half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. And most recently the wide world of racing has taken a turn for themed runs, which is quite exciting if you have ever been to one! But no matter how many years go by, two goals continue to come up: running farther, and running faster.

We often hear someone say, “I want to be able to run farther than I did before.” We see it all the time: “I am going from the couch to running a 5K,” or “Last year I completed the 10K, so this year I really want to try the half marathon!” The other thing we hear is, “I like the distance that I am running, but next time I want to cut off 10 minutes.” The goal is to keep going faster and breaking a personal record. But which one is better—which goal should we strive to accomplish?

There are hundreds of programs out there that help you with one of the two goals: programs that are designed to help you increase your distance over time, or programs that are designed to keep your distance but increase your pace. And the good news is that both types work for different people.

Kris Berg, an exercise physiologist and professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, says that after several decades of studying how an athlete can increase their endurance, he continues to lean on the profound answer of “The person needs to do what feels right for them.” Every person is made up differently genetically, and every method works differently for each person. It’s important to listen to what your body says, and if you can’t go farther, work on going faster, and if you can’t go faster, work on going farther!

Let’s take a look at each of the two common goals more in depth. 

Common goal #1: Being able to build endurance and go farther over time. 

The first and most important thing to keep in mind with any sort of training (and not just endurance running) is that adaptation and change are gradual. You will not be able to run 3 miles today and 16 miles tomorrow. Building gradually is vital to grasp before you set an overall goal, which must be realistic. Gradual adaptation means gradual, patient, and consistent. 

Another trick to being able to run long distances is to not start off too fast. Many people don’t make the distance they want because they are running at a pace that they cannot sustain. Find a pace that works for you! 

One other vital point to make when working on building your endurance: don’t overtrain. In most marathon training programs and endurance building programs out there, you will not see more than three days worth of running per week. You need to allow your body time to rest between runs.

Common goal #2: Working on speed to shave off some time from your last race. 

Disclaimer: working on speed is hard; be prepared to be mentally tough and stick to the workouts. When working on speed you will want to focus on some interval workouts. These are workouts that you are pushing at a fast pace for a certain period of time, then slowing down to recover before the next interval starts. 

And a final tip: If you want to run faster, you need to make your legs stronger. By doing some strength training and building up muscle mass, your speed will increase.

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So whatever your goal may be for your next race, keep these things in mind. A great way to help train to meet your goal is with our Mini-Marathon & 5K Training Program offered at NIFS. REGISTER NOW and take advantage of Early bird pricing until 11/22/15.

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

 

Topics: NIFS running marathon training mini marathon half marathon endurance overtraining goals speed

Why Do These Stairs Kick My Butt? The Convenient Cardio Workout

ThinkstockPhotos-477523863This is a pretty common question that comes to mind for me. I work out 6 days a week, but still that mild ascent up four flights of stairs to the copy room seems to get me every time. 

Generally I would put myself into the “decently fit” category, but it seems that after climbing stairs I am quite winded and sometimes my legs are burning. This very thing has inspired me and a coworker to add running some stairs into our weekly workout. 

Here are some reasons why, if you’re looking for something to add into your routine for a good cardio/leg workout, you should add stairs as well!

  • Great cardiovascular exercise. Like all cardio exercises, running stairs is good for heart health! Your heart and lungs will be strengthened and can help you get to your goals. Cardio exercise is proven to help reduce high blood pressure and other health-related issues.
  • Strengthens legs and tones butt while engaging other muscle groups. Running stairs helps to strengthen many of the muscle groups, but noticeably the butt and the thighs. While climbing, your glutes, hips, and quads are engaged as well as the small muscles within those areas. Other areas of your body that see benefits are core, upper body, ankle joints, and the muscles surrounding your ankles and shins.
  • Easy to find places to do them. Whether you travel, like to work out outside, come to the gym, or want to work out at home, stairs are usually an option! It’s not hard to find a set of stairs to run, and there are lots of places around that have several sets that would be good to run up. (Here are some exercises you can do when you travel, including stairs.)
  • Helps keep the weight off. Stair running is in the category of moderate to high-intensity cardio exercise. With the amount of intensity that you can give to this, the return can be high caloric burn. As you climb higher and faster, your heart rate will begin to increase, your legs will be working harder, and you will increase your oxygen intake. All of these things aid in boosting your metabolism, and with proper eating habits and hard work you can drop a few pounds.

Here are some ideas for stair workouts for runners. Give it a try for a few weeks and see how you feel. From personal experience, don’t give up…it will be pretty challenging in the beginning, but I encourage you to stick with it!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio workouts muscles endurance weight management stairs

Training Tips for Former Athletes: Stay Fit and Motivated

MasieI recently ended my rugby career at Indiana University. I had been playing for 9 years, and competed in various other sports before that. Until now, I have always had a coach scheduling practices and creating workouts for me, and have always pushed myself to my limits for the team.

If you've played sports your whole life but now you are in the real world with other responsibilities and time constraints that did not exist when you were an athlete, you may start to lose your strength and endurance. You may have even noticed changes in your body due to your lifestyle change. You want to stay in shape or get back in shape, but you are unsure where to start or what to do. 

Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to train as a former athlete.

  • Acknowledge that you are no longer a competitive athlete. You are now a former athlete. This is a hard step to take because in your heart you will always be an athlete. You are just no longer a part of a team or competition, and that is okay. 
  • Create new goals for yourself that pertain to your life now. Back in college or high school, you trained a lot, and you trained hard. You had a deadline to be in shape before your first game. However, this mindset may not work now with your new lifestyle. You need to set new goals, which can include cardiovascular training like running or biking. Or your goal could be to lose weight or fat. Your goal can even simply be to maintain a certain overall fitness level. 
  • Train better, not harder. During athletic training you were told to run more, lift more, and practice more in order to be the best and win. This mindset and form of training may have worked then, but that doesn't necessarily mean it works now. You need to train better and more efficiently. Training better is easier to maintain and accomplish than trying to train as hard as you did before. But how do you know you are training better, when all you have known is how to train hard?
Join a Training Program

Many gyms offer training programs for marathons or triathlons or even weight loss. What is great about these programs is that they have coaches that create workouts and guide you through them. You will work alongside others in the program and can get the feeling of being part of a team. Here at NIFS we offer a variety of training programs

Find a Personal Trainer

If you are interested in working on your own, but still feel that you need more guidance, look into personal training. Trainers offer you the accountability that coaches and practices did. Personal trainers can help create new goals for you and lead you through specific, efficient programs. 

Working Out on Your Own

If you need help finding a starting point, here are some tips and examples you can use to help. You'll want to focus on full-body, multi-joint lifts. 

Here are examples of some exercises you can use as the basis of your workouts:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Deadlifts
  • Rows
  • Pull-ups
  • Pushups

Choose a few to perform for each workout. You can alternate between 2 and 3 days per week, performing 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each. 

When performing cardio, a great goal is to try to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each week. For example, you can complete five 30-minute sessions of cardio each week. You can also perform them on the same day as your strength training. 

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In the end, take time to find what works best for you at this time in your life. Training like you did when you were an athlete isn't always what works. Explore your options, and find what you like to do now. 

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This blog was written by Masie Duncan, Health Fitness Instructor and Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio motivation accountability NIFS programs endurance strength personal training team training

Thomas's Corner: Off the Beaten Path—Outdoor Fitness Options

Sunny days and warm summer weather are now upon us. It’s hard to complain about a pretty day, except when you are confined to an indoor lifestyle or job. Outdoor fitness is exactly what you need to get rid of the summertime blues, but I’m not talking about running or boot camp. Indianapolis is packed with fitness activities just waiting to be discovered. Parks throughout the city are highlighted by fitness trails, open fields, and accessibility. The opportunities are only increasing as we, hopefully, move toward a more health-conscious society.

In this blog we are going to think outside the box and explore some outdoor fitness options that are not only good exercise, but also fun and stimulating.

ThinkstockPhotos-178092126Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding, a mode of recreational transportation, has been around much longer than you might think. When it was first invented is undetermined, but evidence of its existence dates back to early exploration of the Pacific Ocean in the late 1700s by Captain James Cook. 

Fast-forward a few hundred years and you will see paddleboarding nearly everywhere, including rivers, lakes, and oceans. Because it enables you to take in scenery and nature, paddleboarding can be both calming and serene. On the other hand, in some windy conditions, paddleboarding is completely challenging, giving the rider a great workout. Riding the tide for extended periods of time provides plenty of balance, core stability, and endurance opportunities for the aquatic enthusiast.

For paddleboarding in Indianapolis, visit local shops such as Rusted Moon Outfitters to see demonstrations and buy gear to satisfy your paddleboarding needs. If you are a beginner and would like lessons, another local company, Salty Dog Paddlesports offers not only training sessions, but also more advanced yoga classes on paddleboards!

Geocaching

Geocaching is a relatively new outdoor recreational activity that combines old-school orienteering and treasure hunting with modern GPS technology. The concept of geocaching is not new; following clues and landmarks to find hidden treasure has been around for a long time. 

In this modern-day search for “x” on a treasure map, individuals use clues via internet videos or posts to find hidden packages or containers yielding log books to sign your name, often a small prize, or even another clue to find your way to another hidden site. The treasures aren’t necessarily huge in size; the excitement comes from successfully navigating your way to the treasure. After the site is discovered, it is neatly hidden away so that another geocacher may discover it. 

Because it usually takes place outdoors in rugged terrain and involving hiking and walking, a geocacher’s main needs include comfortable clothes, shoes or boots, and a functioning GPS system. Most cell phones have GPS built in already, so becoming a geocacher is even more convenient than you think. Geocaching is happening in Indiana, and the Indiana Geocaching website is dedicated to it. There is plenty of information regarding upcoming events and links to other national geocaching clubs. Channel your inner Indiana Jones while you are actually in Indiana!

Disc Golf

One of the fastest-growing recreational sports and activities, disc golf is quickly becoming more than just a niche hobby. The concept of disc golf, obviously, is derived from traditional golf, including the terminology. Disc golfers typically throw one of their many discs (each one has specific characteristics, not unlike drivers, irons, and putters) from a tee box toward a basket on a pole. Score is kept with eagles, birdies, par, and bogeys. 

Sprinkled throughout Indianapolis are several disc golf courses that offer a variety of challenges and an opportunity to experience some of the many scenic neighborhood parks that otherwise may go unnoticed. There is even a disc golf organization (Indianapolis Disc Golf Club) that holds several notable tournaments, bringing in top competition in the area and the Midwest. 

Like all skill-based activities, disc golf requires practice time. This is easily countered by disc golf’s relatively easy concept, cost effectiveness (discs are around 10 to 15 dollars, while courses are free), and inviting atmosphere.

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If you are bored with your current situation or just want a fun activity for you and your pals, there are definitely some excellent options to keep you active and your brain stimulated. Whether you want to take on some waves with your paddleboard, track down a series of clues while geocaching, or take a stroll through the park while disc golfing, the landscape for outdoor activity is ever changing. Be adventurous this summer and try a new outdoor sport or activity today!

Rejoice and Evolve,

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: summer balance endurance core outdoors golf sports hiking

Foundations of a Strong, Healthy Body: Muscle Building

ThinkstockPhotos-494559503-1Okay, so you’ve been successful in your first two phases of developing your new workout program. You have progressed in your cardiovascular exercises throughout the weeks and your muscles have been feeling more “in shape” from your high repetition, low-weight muscular endurance training. What now?

The next progression I would recommend would be to start training for muscular hypertrophy, or more simply put, muscle building. 

Getting Ripped Versus Getting Toned

Muscle building is a term that seems fantastic to some (guys) and horrific for others (ladies). Guys (depending on your age) have an affinity to building muscle on a higher level because of a little hormone called Testosterone. The higher levels in men will allow for more tissue development, while the lower levels in women will not. Training for hypertrophy in females will yield a more desirable “toned” look versus a large gain in mass.

Changing the Variables to Develop Muscle Mass

When you are training for an increase in lean muscle mass, you will need to tweak the variables that you used for muscular endurance. To recap, those variables included sets, repetitions, and rest periods. 

  • The sets you may perform can also start very low (1-2) if you are new to this type of training. As your experience increases, the amount of sets can double or even triple. 
  • The repetitions that you perform will also adjust. Instead of doing reps in the 15-20 range, they will be more in the 8-12 range. With the decrease in repetitions comes an increase in the resistance (weight) that you are using. You want to make sure that each set is performed with a weight that can be done no more than 12 times. 
  • Rest periods will also remain relatively low. 30 to 60 seconds of rest between sets is recommended. You will definitely “feel the burn” if you do it correctly.

The next blog in this series talks about how to activate your newly developed muscle tissue to increase your overall strength.

Get after it!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: cardio muscles resistance endurance weightlifting muscle mass muscle building

Foundations of a Strong, Healthy Body: Muscular Endurance

ThinkstockPhotos-178630269Once you have mastered the basics of cardiovascular exercise, resistance training is the next viable option. If you have no physical limitations (like the ones shown in the Functional Movement Screen), basic resistance training may continue your improvement in building a better body. Remember, not all resistance training is created equal, and the sets, reps, and other variables will determine the result that you receive.

The first goal that I have people focus on is usually muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is the ability for your muscles to withstand a long duration of work. It is important throughout all walks of life, whether it be for preparation for a marathon or doing a day full of yard work. Your goals in everyday life determine your muscular endurance goals and the ways it can be achieved. 

There are three variables that are vital to how your body responds to all resistance training, not just training for muscular endurance. Those three are:

  1. Sets
  2. Repetitions
  3. Rest Periods

The number of sets you do during muscular endurance training may be relatively low. For someone new, 1 to 2 sets may be sufficient to see improvement. For those of a higher training level, 3 to 4 may be required. The number of repetitions you perform is the next important variable. If you want your muscles to be able to last a long time, repetitions will be high. 15 to 20 repetitions per set is usually sufficient but some individuals might increase reps above that level. The final variable is the rest period. The rest period between your sets has to be short. Less than 30 seconds is generally the accepted time but time can be whittled down to 15 seconds or less for optimal adaptations for muscular endurance.

This type of training builds that initial workload for the muscles to withstand the heavier/more intense training that could be done in the future. Below you will find an example of a lower body muscular endurance resistance training routine:

  1. Barbell Squat 3x15
  2. Kettlebell Lateral Lunge 3x10/Leg
  3. Dumbbell Step-Ups 3x10/Leg
  4. Kettlebell Swings 3x20
  5. Hamstring Curls 3x15
  6. Calf Raises 3x15

The next blog in this series will talk about the next phase of building a program, everybody’s favorite, building muscle.

Get after it!

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This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: muscles resistance endurance

The Importance of Recovery After Exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-184767539One of the most important elements of performance and exercise is rest, and it’s also one of the hardest things to do! According to ACE (a fitness governing body), recovery is the most important part of any person’s program. Taking time to rest your body can be challenging mentally, but rest has significant physical benefits.

The Recovery Stage

To get better at a sport or to enhance your personal fitness, you must expose your body to stresses. Different stresses include training and exercise programs like weightlifting, sprinting, endurance runs, etc. But upon completion of these stresses the human body needs to adapt to the stresses it just underwent, and this is where we get the recovery stage. 

Neglecting the recovery stage can lead to injuries. Many programs have built-in rest days, but if you are creating your own program to follow, be sure to find where to fit one in! It’s essential to listen to your body and gauge how you are feeling as well. If you are physically worn out, take a rest.

It’s Worth Making the Time for Rest

So maybe this is enough to get you to take a day or two off a week. But I know there are still some of you out there saying, “Okay, Amanda, thanks for the tip, but I’m in the middle of training hard right now for the half Ironman in Wisconsin, so I can’t afford to take a day of rest.” Let’s take a look at the benefits of recovery on the body. 

The whole purpose of recovery in exercise is to allow your muscles to repair themselves and to engage muscles that are sore from your workout. There are also different things that you can do during the recovery stage to help move the process along and come out ready to perform better than your pre-rest stage. 

Top 5 Recovery Techniques

Here are some things to keep in mind and apply while recovering:

Rest: Now we are talking about actual rest, sleep. This is one of the most important ways to get your body to quickly recover from the physical and mental demands of hard training.

Hydration and eating: One of the most vital aspects of both training and recovery is being properly hydrated. And nourishment falls right in line with hydration. Food helps to restore the body’s energy supply, so try to eat good, healthy options at the right windows of time to enhance your performance and recovery.

Massages: Getting a massage helps to loosen up muscles, increase oxygen and blood flow into muscles, remove lactic acid buildup (which is what makes you sore), and deliver nutrients from your body to your muscle.

Contrast therapy: If you are or were an athlete this may be familiar to you, but those who don’t have a facility at their disposal might not use it as frequently. You will be contrasting between an ice bath and a hot shower. You want to be sure to start and end with cold (like an ice bath). Jump in the ice bath for about 45 seconds and then into the hot shower for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this three times. The benefits of contrast therapy are to increase blood flow to the muscles and speed up the removal of lactic acid.

Ice bath: A familiar process to many, an ice bath causes the blood vessels of the body to constrict, pushing the blood away from the muscle because of the cool temperature. Once you are done and start to warm up, the vessels open up and allow blood flow back into the muscle, bringing with it more oxygen to help you recover.

No matter where you are currently in your workout regime, I encourage you to take some recovery time. It will benefit your performance in significant ways down the road. Consider trying a method from above that you haven’t before and see if it helps you. Different things work for different people, so find out what’s best for your body. You can also consult one of our health fitness specialists here at NIFS for advice. Most important, take time to rest and recover to avoid injury!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise fitness running marathon training injury prevention endurance weightlifting recovery