NIFS Healthy Living Blog

5 Ways to Keep Up with Workouts When College Stress Hits

ThinkstockPhotos-135551982.jpgWhen it comes to settling back into school, adjusting to the crazy schedule can become one of the biggest tasks. From classes each day, to group project meetings, to homework due dates and the dreaded semester exams, how are we supposed to find the time to keep ourselves healthy and fit?

In the summer you may have had no classes or potentially just one, leaving you with a hefty amount of extra free time to spend how you like. Getting back into those fitness goals that you wanted to accomplish wasn’t such a hard task. However, when school stress sets in, students find that that time gets cut short and they tend to give up on focusing on their own health.

Tips for Fitness in College

Here are a few tips to help you stay focused and driven to keep exercise in your daily schedule, without falling off the wagon, all while being successful in school:

Drink water throughout the day. We all know about the strategically placed dorm and community food/drink venues that are available at our fingertips when we are moving from class to class on campus. However, a lot of them tend to be full of extra sugar and unnatural ingredients. Simply remember to pack a bottle of water. There are many places across campus to refill it, and I would even challenge you to see how many times you can do that in one day! Drinking enough water will keep you hydrated and healthier. It will also assist in brain function to keep you focused during those long lectures and tedious late-night homework assignments you need to finish.

Keep a daily agenda. Whether it be just a few reminders on your phone or a hand-held planner, having something that tells you what you are doing throughout the day can only help keep you more organized. It can also help to keep you more accountable. If you have your workout scheduled and written down as a reminder, you are more prone to complete it. Find what works for you: a set time each day like after your last class, meeting a friend at the gym to work out together, or an alarm on your phone can be the secret to success.

Plan out your workouts. Knowing what you are going to be doing for your workouts is essential when it comes to saving time and being efficient in the gym. Take some time at the end of the week to plan out what you will be doing for the week to come. This not only saves you from walking around the gym wondering which exercise to do next, but it keeps you on task with something that you can build from and see more results. If you need help planning your workouts or some extra guidance, NIFS has qualified trainers who can sit down with you and help you plan out specific goals and personal training. They can also assess your movement through personal fitness testing and a functional movement screen, and then create a personal workout program that works for you. Click here to learn more about setting up your free fitness sessions with a NIFS trainer!

Incorporate HIIT into your busy days. High-Intensity Training (HIT) is a GREAT tool to use for those jam-packed school days where you don’t have much time. Days like that can elevate your stress level, which can have an effect on your blood pressure and fat retention. Workouts in the form of HIT training are shorter, with bouts of high heart rate and little rest in-between. They get the job done in less time, and are a great pick-me-up to burn calories and relieve some stress during your busy day. Click here to check out our HIT schedule and to try a class for free!

Find an accountability partner. If you feel like you are one who tends to start on something and not always complete it, an accountability partner is an awesome thing to have to keep you on track. An accountability partner can be anyone in your life who can commit to help keep you responsible for staying on track with your goals. For example, your best friend, roommate, classmate, family member, and even a coworker are all great options! This needs to be a person you converse with or see on a regular basis, so they can make sure to ask you regularly whether you trained that day or stayed on whatever new eating plan you may have started. This person can even have similar goals as you and work out with you, so you both can cheer each other on. This strategy will help increase adherence and get you closer to success with your goals.

Stay Focused on Fitness

So, while there are plenty of things that can distract you from staying on track, you can use these simple tips to keep focused! If you simply adopt a few new habits like the ones above, you will be more likely to keep on top of your fitness goals.

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This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness stress workouts accountability HIT personal training college high intensity functional movement school

High Intensity Training (HIT): No Pain, No Gain

HIT-6.jpgIf you have ever participated in High Intensity Training (HIT), you will quickly discover what separates this style of workout from other popular styles you may know, like super sets or pyramid training. The main intention behind high intensity training workouts is that the workout will challenge your body to such a level of discomfort that its threshold or maximum capacity has no choice but to rise. Now don’t let the word “such a level of discomfort” scare you away; it’s the discomfort level that we all feel during exercise at some point, and of course you can push past it.

The Importance of Pushing Past the Pain

During resistance training, you will at some point begin to experience a level of discomfort. This happens because lactic acid begins to be produced by muscles during intense exercise bouts, which causes muscle fatigue. Although lactic acid may slow down muscle productivity and intensity, it does not mean you have reached muscle failure and are unable to continue. Quite honestly, this means your set is just now starting (if you want to bring down barriers and advance to the next level). Most individuals get to this point of discomfort and stop their set. However, if you stop here, you are more than likely not pushing your body past its threshold point, which is important in order to increase muscle strength, endurance, and even hypertrophy (muscle building).

Specifically, in high intensity style training, most often you will reach that lactate threshold and then be pushed beyond that. Just when you think that your body can go on no longer, you dig deep within yourself and the encouragement of your teammates and find that new level. And this is why we see so many success stories in people who attend HIT workouts. They push beyond what their bodies thought they could do, past the threshold, resulting in an increase in muscle strength and endurance.

hit-high-res-logo-web-new.jpgHow NIFS Can Help

If you need help discovering what those new levels are, and some accountability to keep pushing, then I invite you to try NIFS’s High Intensity Training. Our classes are designed to motivate you to push past the limits you think are there by utilizing short bouts of high intensity work, which will increase your body’s thresholds, causing an increase of metabolism. We use our training expertise to provide the necessary motivation to close the gap between you and your body’s threshold. Once you reach this threshold, we will teach you how to tap into that next level to take your workouts to the next step on the ladder of success!

We invite you to come experience a good workout, a good team feeling, and a good environment where each participant has the same goal: to get better! Get your first session for FREE by contacting Amanda Bireline at abireline@nifs.org.

Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Instructor. Click here for more information about the NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS group training accountability muscles resistance strength HIT pain high intensity muscle building

Morning Exercise Benefits: Increased Metabolism and More?

ThinkstockPhotos-78716025.jpgOkay, so maybe you’re not a morning person, and would much rather remain cozy in your queen-sized bed for several hours after waking up before finally finding the energy and motivation to make your way to the gym during the middle of the day. Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to take care of your priorities first during the day, and then only if left with enough time sneak in a late-afternoon or nighttime workout before ending your day.

Don’t get me wrong; if you are either of these individuals, I applaud you in every way for finding some time in your day to work out. However, a number of studies have researched the benefits of working out in the morning compared to working out midday or at night. Below I shine some light on those benefits that might encourage your brain and body to transition into working out at the crack of dawn.

The Question of Increased Metabolism

I’m sure a majority of us have heard at some point in our life that working out in the morning helps to boost our metabolism. Sure we can take a leap of faith and believe this theory to be true based on popular belief, but let’s actually take a look at the physiology side of things and expose whether this is true.

Metabolism is process by which your body converts the food you eat into energy. So in simple terms, the higher your metabolism is, the more calories you burn on a daily basis. Obviously, the more active you are during your workouts, the more calories you are going to burn. It is also important to remember that even if you are working out in the morning, your metabolism will not increase if you do not put forward the proper effort during your workout.

So as you might have just guessed, if you’re not a person who is full of energy and motivation during the morning hours, your workout performance may be hindered by these factors alone, which will limit your morning metabolism increase. Therefore, it is important to experiment with workout timing to see which time of the day will benefit you the most. So does working out in the morning help to increase your metabolism? Well, the answer is, “it depends on the individual.”

On the flip side, if you are a person who doesn’t mind working out in the morning, there are many reasons why this can help spike your metabolism. One of the first biological reasons working out in the morning can be effective is the increased levels of testosterone (especially in males) that happen first thing when you wake up. Overnight our bodies begin to increase their testosterone production. Because of this, our testosterone levels are highest upon awakening. As you may or may not know, testosterone is the hormone that promotes muscle growth. The more testosterone we have in our bodies while working out, the more efficient our bodies will be at muscle production. Taking advantage of this morning boost of testosterone can help build muscle more efficiently.

*Fact of the Day: For every 1 lb. of muscle you gain, your body will burn an extra 6 to 10 calories per day at rest. Gain 10 lbs. of muscle and you could be burning an extra 100 calories while at rest (Source: BuiltLean).

More Reasons to Work Out Early

Here are some additional reasons why you may want to work out in the morning:

  • Easier to follow high-volume training systems: Working out in the morning before gym peak hours makes it easier for you to perform supersets/trisets without having to wait for the next guy to get done with his set on the machine you need.
  • Leaves time for other priorities: Now that your workout is done and over with first thing in the morning, you have the rest of your day to complete other tasks.
  • Increased energy levels during the day: Exercise has been proven to increase energy levels and focus throughout the day. By working out first thing in the morning, you are getting a head start on your day.
  • You’ll be less likely to skip your workout: It can be easy to get distracted at various points of the day that might sabotage your workout (less motivation, fatigue, overdue school work). By working out first thing in the morning, when your mind has very few things to concentrate on just yet, you will be less likely to skip your workout later.

When trying to stick with an exercise routine that will get you great results, it’s not always about working harder. In fact, sometimes it’s more about working efficiently. Finding the optimal time for your workout can sometimes be difficult; however, considering all the benefits, a morning exercise routine might be just what you need!

NIFS fortunately makes it easy for members to participate in morning exercise with early opening hours and morning group fitness classes, so try one today!

Try a group fitness class for free

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

Topics: fitness center motivation muscles metabolism high intensity morning workouts

MetCon Manipulation: Change Up Your High-Intensity Training (HIIT)

HIITHigh-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has “swiffered” the nation in the past decade or so and remains one of the top hot topics of the fitness world. We also use terms such as Metabolic Condition (MetCon), Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT), and Energy System Training to categorize this high-octane method of training. You may know MetCon best by the crazy stuff you do that makes you feel absolutely exhausted, but invincible.

WARNING: It should never be the goal of any MetCon training session to end up in a sweaty pile of your former self. You should be upright and feeling invigorated and not annihilated.

The health and fitness benefits of this style of training are numerous! Benefits are mainly fat loss, an increase in energy demand (calorie burn) during and even after the training session, and even an increase in your aerobic capacity, just to name a few. But just like any other style of training (strength, power, endurance), it can be easy to fall into a rut in the methods and exercise selection of your MetCon training session. Here are a few simple and fun ways to change up and spice up your metabolic conditioning training session.

REMEMBER: Training can be simply defined as providing a stimulus that forces the body to adapt resulting in change (for example, increased calorie and oxygen use). So to alter a training session, think of manipulating the stimulus.

Change the Equipment

It’s comforting to stick to pieces of equipment we know best and have used many times for our training purposes. But you are doing yourself a disservice by not adding in new pieces that usually come with new adaptions. Battling ropes, rowing ergs, kettle bells, medicine balls, and my personal favorite the Airdyne bike are all great tools that can be used to manipulate the stimulus. These are also the things that make this style of training so much fun. The body will be forced to adapt, triggering the affects you are looking for.

Change the Intensity

The intensity of your training session of course plays a huge role in achieving the desired outcomes. Many metabolic conditioning sessions are based on time as a measurement of intensity and duration. For example, I am sure you are familiar with the Tabatta protocol of 20 seconds of max work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. Many time combinations are used (depending on your fitness level and program progressions), such as :30/:30, :40/:20, and :45/:15. 

Using time is great, but it could get monotonous, leading to decreased effort and lack of enjoyment. A great alternative is using calorie goals to set your interval as with a rowing erg, or the Airdyne bike (there it is again!). Racing to a predetermined distance is a great way to spice things up as well. Lastly, using repetitions and repetition ladders (10, 9, 8, 7,…1) allows you to simply count your way to completion and can be used with minimal equipment such as one kettlebell or a resistance band. 

Change the Environment

One of the easiest ways to get more out of your metabolic conditioning session is to simply change up your environment. Going outside is a great start when manipulating this training variable. Grab your equipment, get after it, and get some vitamin D all at the same time. On your way outside, invite some of your friends and training buddies to join you. Make the workout more of a competitive challenge to help redefine what you once thought of as limits. Research has proven that you work harder and enjoy training while in a group setting. Use the power of a strong group to get more out your training session.

Two Example MetCon Workouts

TRY THESE: Here are 2 sample MetCon training sessions using some of the preceding tips.

#1: Airdyne Calorie Sprints: 10 minutes

Race to 10 calories resting for 5 calories and try to complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

#2: Kettle Bells in the Park

Get outside, get a group, and complete the following as quickly as you can.

Working from 10 Kettle Bell Swings, 10 Goblet Squats, 10 Push-ups down to 1, but the swings will always be 10.

Example: 

  • R1: 10/10/10
  • R2: 10/9/9
  • R3 10/8/8 … 
  • Down to 10 Swings, 1 Goblet Squat, 1 Push-up
    Yes! I want to try a HIT class!

This blog was written by Tony Maloney, Health Fitness Specialist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: cardio workouts group training calories metabolism HIT kettlebell high intensity