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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

What’s the Best Time of Day to Work Out?

GettyImages-817322390Trying to figure out the best time to work out can be a difficult decision when attempting to balance a healthy lifestyle with work, a social life, and other hobbies. Let’s look at the various benefits of working out at certain times of the day compared to others. 

Morning Workouts

Let’s start at the beginning of the day, or morning workouts. The first benefit of working out at this time is that you will already have your workout done for the day. This should give you a sense of accomplishment to start the day and invigorate you for the day ahead and should also make you feel good and boost your confidence, knowing that you have gotten your workout in, leaving the rest of the day available for other tasks such as working, relaxing, hobbies, cooking and eating dinner, or hanging out with friends.

Some studies have shown that working out in the morning provides an increased metabolism, which means that you are going to burn more calories throughout the day. Another study showed that you will get better sleep working out in the morning compared to afternoon/evening because of an increased heart rate and body temperature. Yet another study showed that working out in the morning on an empty stomach before breakfast could increase fat burning.

Afternoon or Night Workouts

The next option for working out is an afternoon/night workout. If you have to be at work very early, it can make workouts difficult to do, especially if your work starts before a club is open. Early workouts are also difficult during the winter months when it’s dark in the mornings. So working out in the evening or afternoon has its benefits as well.

One study shows that your body temperature increases throughout the day, which is good for muscle function, strength, enzyme activity, and endurance for performance. Between 2pm and 6pm your body temperature is at its highest point in the day, which means your body is ready to go, which in turn makes it the most effective time of day to work out. Oxygen uptake is faster in the evening, as well, meaning that you use your body’s resources in a more effective way than in the morning. Working out in the morning may take your body longer to warm up the muscles, which will take away time from the workout itself. Your reaction time is at the quickest in the afternoon and evening. Your heart rate and your blood pressure are the lowest, which decreases your chance of injury while improving performance. One study even found that if you worked out in the morning and did the same workout at night, you had better quality of sleep.

So What's the Best Time to Work Out?

Overall, based on the above-referenced studies, there is no evidence that working out at a specific time of day is more beneficial than another. Whenever you work out, doing so is important for living a healthy lifestyle. Try to decide what time is best for your schedule to get a workout in, and then try to stick with a time so that you can be consistent to see even more training gains.

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This blog was written by David Behrmann, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor.To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here

Topics: workouts metabolism sleep morning workouts training schedule evening workouts night workouts blood pressure temperature

Making Time for Fitness During the School Year

GettyImages-1352437839With the new school year upon us, it’s time to start thinking about “back to school” fitness. Summer was a time for adventure, vacation, trying new foods, and so much more. Although all that stuff is fun, it can get us out of a routine. As a newly graduated college student, I know how much a routine helped me stay on track for my classes. One thing I always included was exercise. Having consistent workouts is the first step toward a disciplined life.

Studies show that working out consistently actually helps you stay with your schedule. When you plan specific times to exercise, you become more committed, and you can track your progress. When you see that you can stick to a workout schedule and are successful at it, you can start to change your view on other tasks in your life. When one area of your life becomes more manageable, it is easier to do the same with other aspects of your life.

Now you might be asking yourself, “Where do I even start?” Here are a couple of easy steps to making sure you create a workout routine that is a perfect fit for your schedule.

  1. Make fitness a priority: If fitness is important for you, you need to make time for it. Your health should always be your number-one priority. And as a wise person once said, “If you don’t make time for your health, you will make time for your illness." If working out is not one of your top priorities, it will not happen. If you really want to get the most out of it, you need to prioritize it.
  2. Be realistic: The key is to consistently do your best. Make sure you don’t sign up for too much. If you keep missing classes or training sessions because your schedule is too crazy, you’re going to get really discouraged when you don’t see the results you want. When starting a workout routine, start small. At NIFS we offer free classes to members throughout the week at different times (see the schedule here). This is a great way to get started, especially if you don’t know exactly where to start.
  3. Make goals: Making goals is one of the best ways to start your workout routine. If you know what you are working toward, you’re going to work harder to get it. Make sure these goals are SMART. This means that they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. This will help you track your progress and really see successful results.
  4. Time it right: Make sure you go to the gym at a time that is good for you. If you have a lot of morning classes, go in the afternoon or evening or vice versa. If you're more of a morning person, make sure you get up early in the morning and work out. If you know you have a lot of schoolwork, only work out for 30 minutes. When it comes to timing everything, make sure you come up with a good plan and discern when is the best time for you.
  5. Short workouts count, too: Everyone is busy and sometimes crazy schedules are what stop people from working out. People think that they need to train for 60 to 90 minutes straight or else they won’t see any results. Research shows that 10 to 15 minutes of training can be beneficial for people throughout the day. So, if you want to, you could do a quick 10-minute workout four times a day and you would have completed a 40-minute workout!
  6. Come prepared: Make it a habit to pack a gym bag before you go to classes or work. This way you can go straight to the gym without any additional trips that can get you sidetracked.
  7. Get in more daily fitness: You can get in easy workouts by just doing everyday things. For example, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk instead of taking the bus. These seem simple, but they add up over the course of the week. A study from The Ohio State University found that you can burn around 20% more calories by just altering your walking pace instead of keeping a consistent speed. You can even make sure you’re active over the weekend. Go for a walk, go for a bike ride, go hiking, or even play a game of baseball.
  8. Be accountable, but reasonable: Some days are going to be harder than others, and you’re just trying to tackle it all. There are going to be many days where you don’t honestly have the time or energy to work out, and that’s okay! When those days happen, allow yourself to miss. But make sure you get moving the next day. Although you don’t want to create the habit of not working out, give yourself room to be human.

Working out does not have to be a scary or daunting thing. Make the most out of it and make it yours! Trying to balance school and fitness can be a lot, but it’s totally doable. Whether you are a student or parent of a student, do your best and keep pushing toward your goals!

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This blog was written by Emily Lesich, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: goal setting group fitness college school fall time management exercise plan workout plan

Alkaline Water: Is It Worth the Hydration Hype?

We all know it’s essential to stay hydrated in the summer, and that the best way to do so is by drinking plenty of water. But is there a certain type of water, such as “alkaline” water, that offers better hydration? Here’s what our Registered Dietitian has to say.

GettyImages-170440672Alkaline vs. Acid

Alkaline water is typically fortified with small amounts of “alkalizing” minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and/or sodium in order to increase its pH, making it less acidic. The pH scale is used to specify the acidity or basicity (alkalinity) of a water-based solution. The pH scale ranges from 0, highly acidic, to 14, highly basic. For perspective, some everyday liquids and their respective pHs include

  • battery acid (pH = 0)
  • tomato juice (pH = 4)
  • baking soda (pH = 9)
  • bleach (pH = 13)

Pure water has a pH of 7, alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9.

The Hypothesis

Some individuals hypothesize that drinking water with a higher pH than that of the body’s blood (between 7.35 and 7.45 for healthy individuals) can help decrease acidity in the body by raising its overall pH. However, the pH of the body is tightly regulated by our kidneys and lungs, and excessive acid buildup is unlikely, unless an underlying health condition is present, such as kidney or respiratory failure, severe infection, uncontrolled diabetes, or physical muscle trauma. Even in cases such as these, a lot more would need to be done than drinking water with a slightly higher pH than that of the body. With a pH of closer to 2–3, stomach acid likely neutralizes the water immediately, regardless of how high its pH is. And even if the extra “alkaline” in alkaline water was able to make it into our bloodstream, it would quickly be filtered by our kidneys and removed from the body by way of our urine.

Is It Safe?

Overall, alkaline water is still water; therefore, it is generally safe for consumption and serves its main purpose: to hydrate you. However, any out-of-the-ordinary health benefits boasted on the label are likely just a marketing tactic. Nevertheless, alkaline water is a great choice for hydration, especially when compared to sugary, high-calorie beverages such as soda, sugary sports drinks, and/or juice. Be sure to stay hydrated this summer by drinking plenty of water—alkaline or not!

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This blog was written by Lindsey Recker, MS, RD, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition summer hydration water myth busters

How to Get a Start in Olympic Weightlifting

GettyImages-1320177931Olympic weightlifting is one of the oldest sports that is still around to this day in the Olympics. Over time the sport has evolved to what it is today, and there are more participants at the national-level events here in the US than ever before. With the help of CrossFit, the weightlifting community has grown substantially in the last decade. Still, however, not many people know of Olympic weightlifting and how to get started in the sport.

Who Should Olympic Lift?

Everyone! Olympic weightlifting is for everyone. In a previous blog post, I wrote about the benefits of learning and practicing the Olympic lifts. To sum it up, the benefits are learning a new skill, strengthening the muscles, having goals to work toward, and competing in a fun and welcoming environment. If you are a former athlete and have been missing that competition feeling, weightlifting might be for you. In America, you have the opportunity to lift in small local meets, state meets, larger national meets, and even international competitions if you have what it takes to qualify. The weightlifting community is full of fun, positive, and energetic people who are all there for the same reason. Once you commit to learning the lifts, the next step is to find a coach.

Why You Need a Coach

One of the most important things you can do when starting to learn the Olympic lifts is to find an educated and certified weightlifting coach. Weightlifting has one of the lowest injury rates of all the Olympic sports. However, if you don’t learn proper technique early on, you are more likely to injure yourself. Looking into the future, after proper technique teachings, a coach will give proper programming. A well-thought-out and structured weightlifting program will increase the length of your weightlifting career and ensure proper progressions.

If your goal is to compete in Olympic weightlifting, finding a coach will be crucial to your success not only as you prepare for the competition, but also at the competition. Competitions are fast paced and require more thought than just lifting the weight when it is your turn. There is a lot of planning that happens for competitions, from timing your warmups to counting the number of attempts until you must be on the platform. Having a coach makes the whole experience less stressful for the athlete and makes it go a lot more smoothly. A coach who knows their athletes will be able to motivate and push you to levels you did not know you could reach.

How to Find a Coach

Weightlifting gyms and coaches can be found on USA Weightlifting’s website. You can also do a quick Google search for barbell clubs in your area. You will most likely come across some CrossFit boxes as well. Make sure you find a coach that is certified through USA Weightlifting to ensure you that your coach has gone through the necessary trainings for technique and safety. Just like any other sport, you can be a self-taught lifter. However, learning proper techniques from the beginning will extend your career in the sport.

What Now?

After you have found a certified and experienced weightlifting coach that you trust, it is time to put in the work. Olympic weightlifting is not a sport that you will pick up overnight. It takes hours and hours of intentional practice to master this sport. The athletes at the very top have been training since they were young kids. You should set your goals accordingly and never compare yourself to the athletes that are competing at the highest level. If you trust the process and work hard, you will see progress and become the best version of yourself.

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This blog was written by Evan James, NIFS Exercise Physiologist EP-C, Health Fitness Instructor, and Personal Trainer. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: muscles weightlifting goals competition weight training coach olympic weightlifting

The Role of Hormones in Resistance Training

GettyImages-625739874Hormones have an especially important role in dealing with resistance training. The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, sleep, and mood. Some of these hormones are anabolic, which promote tissue building, and others are catabolic, which are used to degrade/break down cell protein. Ideally for muscle building, it is important to produce anabolic hormones while limiting the production of catabolic ones.

Anabolic and Catabolic Hormones

Scientists have identified examples of anabolic hormones in the human body. These examples include insulin, IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), testosterone, and growth hormone. On the other hand, the catabolic hormones are cortisol, catecholamines, and progesterone. For our purposes, we can focus on two of these hormones: testosterone and cortisol.

Testosterone

Testosterone is the primary androgen hormone. The way to promote testosterone is short rest periods, 30 to 60 seconds, heavy resistance—85 to 95 percent 1RM (large motor units), and chronic resistance training (2+ years). Further, testosterone has a known effect on the nervous system: it increases neurotransmitters, and it acts on every tissue in the body. Men have 15 to 20 times more testosterone than women, and acute, or sudden, increases following workouts are small.

Cortisol

Cortisol, on the other hand, converts amino acids into carbs and breaks down proteins and inhibits the synthesis of proteins, which is bad if you are trying to build muscle because proteins are the building blocks for muscle. Cortisol increases during exercise with high volume/short muscle rest, causing large serum cortisol. This does more damage to the muscle and is not good for muscle recovery. Chronically high cortisol levels have adverse catabolic effects.

Knowing that your body produces both testosterone and cortisol, the difficulty lies in the ability to produce more testosterone than cortisol to see muscle growth.

Ways to Promote Lower Cortisol Levels

Here are four ways to lower your cortisol levels so that you can build muscle:

  • Utilize proper rest times during high-intensity resistance workouts.
  • Eat enough protein and carbohydrates to help you through the resistance workout.
  • Perform resistance workouts when your body’s cortisol levels are lower, typically later in the day.
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep.

***

Make sure you are paying attention to your hormones during resistance exercise. If you are not careful, hormones might be affecting your gains in a negative way instead of a positive way. As you can see from this information, these are just a few areas you can target to start producing testosterone and therefore, affect the tissues within your body. Hopefully, this information gives you a better understanding of the main two types of hormones, anabolic and catabolic, how they work in your body, and ways to achieve those gains you are looking for in your resistance training.

Source: Haff, G., & Triplett, T. (2016). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (4th ed.). Human Kinetics.

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This blog was written by David Behrmann, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor.To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here

Topics: muscle building hormones resistance training

Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Pull-ups Quickly

GettyImages-855620696Pull-ups are a great muscle-building exercise. However, many of us struggle to even do one or enough reps to truly take advantage of the muscle-building rewards of this exercise. In this blog I explain why that is, tell you how to improve your pull-ups, and give you a full pull-up progression intended to take you from 0, 1, 2, 3… up to 10 pull-ups in a row or moreLet’s be honest, pull-ups are difficult. First off, whether you weigh 100 pounds or 350, that will be the weight you will have to overcome with each rep. Secondly, pull-ups engage more than just your back. You may or may not have a big back and bicep muscles but still can’t do more than one or two pull-ups. No matter how big the muscles in your back and biceps are, if you have weak links in the chain of movement, you will still be limited in your ability to do more pull-ups.

Change Your Training for Strength

The first step to improving your pull-ups is to change your training for strength improvements. Based on where you are at, I like to break it down into three groups:

  • Group 1: 0–4 pull-ups
  • Group 2: 5–7 pull-ups
  • Group 3: 8, 9 and break through to 10

Group 1: 0–4 Pull-ups

If you are in the group 1 category, you currently can’t do a pull-up, or can’t do more than 4 in a row. You need to quickly build strength with a couple of exercises I like to do.

The first is inverted rows, which can be done under a bar in a rack or with the TRX Straps in the horizontal plane. 

The second exercise is negative pull-ups to assist and train your body in a vertical plane. With negative pull-ups you will work on lowering (descending) for time, adding seconds to each rep as you progress. Make sure to fight the lowering in a full range of motion. Do not hold yourself in the up position and then just fall. Control the descent for the full range.

Group 2: 5–7 Pull-ups

Group 2 is further along and ready for pull-up progressions. This is when we will build up volume and work toward getting in 2–3 sets, with the goal of reaching toward 20–30 reps completed. We will add assisted pull-ups to allow for reducing the amount of resistance you need to overcome reps the higher volume.  An easy way to do assisted pull-ups is to use a larger resistance band and loop it around the rack, giving you a platform to stand on while assisting your pull-ups. 

Group 3: 8–10 Pull-ups

Group 3 is essentially going to repeat what group 2 is doing but adding weight to your pull-ups to help you break through to 10. Adding weight can be as easy as adding a weight belt with 5 pounds on it or putting a 5-pound dumbbell between your feet. When you are doing the banded assisted pull-ups, start to use smaller, thinner resistance bands to stand on.

All Groups: Work on Core, Scap Retractions

All three groups need to work on weak-link areas as well. First is core work; as I stated earlier, pull-ups are difficult and place concentrated demands on the core, also a known weak link. I like to use Planks and Hollow Rocks. Next, you need to work on scap retractions, and you can do small pulls to train it with scapular pull-ups and face pulls.

Shoulder Prehab

Start with prehab exercises. Prehab exercises should be used to bomb-proof your body and potentially prevent future injuries. The overall goal of prehab exercises is to increase durability in your physical activities with better-quality movements, which will improve performance and overall health. Here are two I like to start with. Pick one that works for you for today’s pull-up workout.

Option 1: Shoulder Prehab—Light Weights

x10 reps each
Standing: I, Y, T, W’s, Scap Taps
Lying: I, Y, T, W’s, Overhead Scap Taps

Option 2: Shoulder Prehab—Bands

x10 reps each
Standing: Band Pull-Aparts with Bent Elbows, Banded Figure 8's, Band Pull-aparts with Long Straight Arms
Banded Over & Backs
Half-Kneeling Lunge: Diagonal Pull-aparts with Long Straight Arms

The Pull-up Workouts

Now that you are warmed-up and have bomb-proofed your body, let’s begin the pull-up workout. Here’s the strategy to vastly improve your pull-ups. Reference your pull-up ability and progress accordingly from there. This is a full back workout performed once a week.

Group 1: 0–4 Pull-ups

Inverted Rows (under bar or TRX straps): 3–4 sets or 8–12 reps
Negative pull-ups: 3–5 sets or 3–5 reps  ** FULL RANGE OF MOTION**
(Starting out 3x3 reps at 3s descents… progressing to 5x5 at 5s descents for each rep.)
Elbow or Push-up Plank: 3 sets of :30s–2mins
(Starting out with 3x sets at :30s… progressing to 2mins eventually)
Alternating your workouts with Scapular Pull-ups and Face Pulls: 3–4 sets or 8–12 reps with 2s holds
(Hanging from pull-up bar, squeeze scapular muscles, as if beginning the pull-up motion and hold for 2s for each rep. Next workout alternate with Face Pulls, keep elbows up and thumbs toward temples, again squeeze scapular muscle for 2s.)

Group 2: 5–7 Pull-ups

Pull-ups: Sets of 2–5 reps aim for 20–30 reps total.
Assisted Pull-ups w/larger resistance bands: Mirror how many sets/reps you accomplished with pull-ups previously. Shooting for the same.
Inverted Rows (under bar or TRX straps): 2–3 sets or 8–12 reps
Alternating your workouts with Elbow or Push-up Plank and Hollow Rocks: 3 Sets of :30s–2mins
Alternating your workouts with Scapular Pull-ups and Face Pulls: 2–3 sets or 10–15 reps with 2s holds

Group 3: 8–10+

Weighted Pull-ups: Sets of 2–5 reps, aim for 20–30 reps total.
(If you are just getting into group 3 and graduated up from group 2, start back over with reps and sets you began that group with; you are adding weight to your pull-ups now.)

Example, group 2

I started with 3x4 reps and progressed to 5x6 reps. Now do the same but with weight.

Assisted Pull-ups w/smaller resistance bands: Mirror how many sets/reps you accomplished with pull-ups previously. Shooting for the same +2 reps. Try to do a little bit more volume.
Inverted Rows (under bar or TRX straps): 2–3 sets or 8–12 reps
Alternating your workouts with Elbow or Push-up Plank and Hollow Rocks: 3 Sets of 1–2mins
Alternating your workouts with Scapular Pull-ups and Face Pulls: 3 Sets or 10–15 Reps with 2s holds

Use the Plan Once a Week

That’s it! Use the plan once a week to improve your pull-up potential. You will want to max out and test your pull-ups once a month to see if you are making progress and moving up groups to level up your strength gains.

As with any workout, to make gains, you must start somewhere, you must stay consistent, and you must work hard. Don’t be discouraged that you can’t do pull-ups yet. Stay the course and you will be blown away when you quickly increase your pull-up strength!

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This blog was written by Michael Blume, MS, SCCC; Athletic Performance Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: workouts core muscle building strength training prehab pull-ups

Are You Joining the NIFS Triathlon Training Program This Year?

The Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek Park is now in its 14th year. NIFS’ Go Girl Tri-training Program is the city's longest-running training program for that race. Will you join us for this year’s training? Here are some good reasons for you to tri.

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Running, Biking, and Swimming Coaches

The coaches for our program have experience in each discipline of the race:

  • Run coaches train you to be faster and injury-resilient.
  • Bike coaches teach the techniques to ride fast and strong.
  • Swim coaches build confidence and determination to tackle any body of water.

A Different Discipline Each Week

The training sessions are broken down into a specific discipline each week. Some weeks we will be doing “bricks," which are two disciplines back to back. These are great for building fitness and confidence going into race day. The work is challenging, which pushes your fitness to another level.

More Open-water Swimming Practice

There are extra open-water swim opportunities on the weekends and occasional weekdays. These prepare you for the challenge of the open water, which is often difficult to get in the pool. The dark and irregular water is a different test than the clear pool with a line at the bottom. The sighting drills in the open water make the race day swim easier to manage for a nervous race-day mind.

More Hills

The training at Eagle Creek will prepare you for all the race-day hills and undulations. You will be changing gears and cruising by your fellow racers because you will know every section of the course in the park, including in the demanding first hill you will climb as you get on your bike. You will have traversed this hill many times in training. On race day, the final run-up will be a piece of cake.

Help with TransitionsIMG_1799

Did you ever consider the fourth discipline: transitions? We will hammer home many fine details to make that part of your race a strength, and you can chuckle at your fellow racers who can’t find the rack where their bike was placed.

The Hidden Details

The little details of each discipline may be the most valuable piece to our training program. Did you know you will have to pin your race number on your brand-new tri top? Well, in our program we will show you how a race belt keeps you from putting holes in your nice top.

Tri Training Starts June 28tri training header_no date-1

All in all, it’s a great group of ladies who will sweat, work, and cheer each other on during the race day—from the early-morning jitters to the finish, with medals proudly displayed around your neck. June 28 is our start, mark your calendar and get registered today!

Get REGISTERed TODAY!

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer  and USTAat NIFS. To read more about Kris and the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running swimming NIFS programs Indianapolis biking women triathlon training program

Three Keys to a Healthier, Happier You

A happy mind is a healthy mind. Here are three keys to working your way toward a healthier life.

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1. Show Gratitude

One way to retrain your brain to feel more gratitude and happiness is taking pen to paper. Write down three things about your day that were positive and make you feel thankful. By doing this, you are shining a light on the good things in your life, which shifts your focus and will eventually lead to a healthier mindset.

2. Make Movement a Priority

According to the Mayo Clinic, being active for about 150 minutes a week can result in a drop in depression in most people. Examples of daily activity can be taking your dog for a walk, taking the stairs, working in the garden or backyard, or doing a bodyweight mobility flow to loosen up your muscles and joints. Whatever the activity, make sure you do some movement each day to get the blood flowing and your endorphins boosted.

3. Act in Kindness

Shifting your focus on others instead of just yourself is a great way to boost happiness. Spending time on others has been proven to be more helpful in creating a positive life than spending it just on ourselves. Examples of acts of kindness can be volunteering at a local shelter, running errands for a friend or family member, helping a friend move into a new house, or even buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line. Time spent on others is time well spent!

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This blog was written by Jessica Phelps, BS, ACE CPT, Health Coach. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 
Topics: depression staying active mindset emotional physical health

Upper-body and Lower-body Warm-up Routines

GettyImages-641796518I am often asked what is a good warm-up routine, and my answer typically consists of, “it depends.” A warm-up is typically done at the beginning of a training session and involves low-intensity movements to help get your body ready. The reason I tend to say “it depends” is that your goals, limitations, and what kind of training you have planned for a specific day will dictate your optimal warm-up.

Tailoring Your Warm-up

Now, a warmup does not have to be something innovative, but you do want to perform movements that will mirror your actual workout session. For example, if you have a lower-body day, I would recommend warming up with lower-body movements (and the same for the upper body).

How Long Should a Warm-up Be?

The time a warmup should last can range from 5 minutes to 10 minutes depending on how you are feeling that specific day. If you feel ready to go or have a time limitation, staying closer to that 5-minute limit would be best. If you are feeling a little tired and have no time restriction, then closer to 10 minutes would work better.

Sample Warm-ups

Here I provide a quick sample warmup for a lower-body day and an upper-body day. I do want to emphasize that this is a very basic warmup and it is not meant to fix any compensation that you may have.

Lower-body Warm-up

Perform 2 rounds for 10 repetitions for each exercise. If an exercise is unilateral, perform 10 repetitions for each side.

  1. Glute Bridge x 10
  2. Glute Bridge with Marches x 10e
  3. Downward Dog x 10
  4. Shoulder Taps x 10e
  5. ½-Kneeling Hip Stretch x 10e

Miniband Series: Perform 10 repetitions for each exercise. If an exercise is unilateral, perform 10 repetitions for each side.

  1. Squat (miniband around top of knees)
  2. Standing Marches (miniband goes around shoes)
  3. Standing Hip Circles (miniband goes around ankles)
  4. Lateral Walks (miniband goes around ankles)
  5. Monster Walks (miniband goes around ankles)

Upper-body Warm-up

Perform 2 rounds for 10 repetitions for each exercise. If an exercise is unilateral, perform 10 repetitions for each side. You will need a Superband for this as well.

  1. Sidelying Thoracic Rotation
  2. Downward Dog
  3. Superband Chest Press
  4. Superband Chest Fly
  5. Superband Pull Apart

As you can see, you do not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the warm-up, but you do want to make sure that the warm-up will get you ready for your workout.

This blog was written by Pedro Mendez, CSCS, FMS, Health Fitness Instructor and Strength Coach at NIFS. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: workouts warmups lower body upper body low-intensity warm-up

What Is VO2 Max Testing?

GettyImages-915799224VO2 max testing, or graded exercise testing, is a treadmill run or cycle to volitional fatigue—or pretty much going until you must stop. The test will tell us how many liters of oxygen you are able to take in and use for cellular respiration.

Physiologically, people use oxygen for a variety of things. The main purpose is for the oxygen to get into the cells’ mitochondria so that it can be used to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the main energy source in the body. People use ATP to do pretty much everything: move our muscles, think, and even digest food. So the more oxygen you can take in and convert to energy, the longer and faster you can run due to this surplus of energy you are making at the cellular level.

What the Test Is Like

The test starts at a low speed and no incline on the treadmill. Then every so often the treadmill gets a little faster and a little higher. The increases are almost unnoticed and most start out walking. On the other hand, on the cycle, the resistance gets a little harder occasionally and the participant is expected to maintain the same rotations per minute (RPM). With both tests, the person is expected to go until they feel they must stop, when their workload is too great to maintain or their legs become too fatigued to continue.

What the Test Measures

While exercising, you will be hooked up to different devices to monitor your vitals such as a heart rate monitor and a ventilator of sorts. Some tests will also measure blood pressure and rate of perceived exertion. Trainers can use the information from these devices to generate a customized endurance program for you to push you to increase your VO2 max, and in turn, your overall endurance. VO2 max testing is a great way to know where you are currently at in your endurance training. It is comparable to doing repetition max testing on weights in strength training.

How the Results Can Shape Your Training

Trainers can utilize the data from a VO2 max test to make a program customized to your physiology. From a VO2 max test we can see what your heart rate maximum is exactly, and using these numbers we can get more accurate training zones for you. The ventilator gives a variety of useful data such as your aerobic threshold, or the point when you really start to breathe hard. This is the point where a person really starts to hate running, so knowing this point can help us stay below that more often, making the training more enjoyable while still receiving the benefits. Knowing different heart rate zones can help prevent overtraining and help push you to your fullest capacity, causing your body to adapt and consume more oxygen.

The measurements of blood pressure and perceived exertion are more common in a clinical setting to ensure normal responses to exercise, so they are not always necessary in healthy populations. The trainer can use rate of perceived exertion, however, to know how a person feels at certain running speeds. If someone feels that they are working very hard at a faster speed, the trainer may stay below that speed more often to make the runner more comfortable; and if a certain speed feels very easy, the trainer may ramp up the pace.

VO2 Max Testing at NIFS

Korr CardioCoach metabolic system VO2 max testing is offered here at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport. Connect with a trainer at the track desk if you have any interest or questions. VO2 max testing is a great way to gauge your endurance level going into marathon training, and a great way to pace yourself in a race by knowing where you are at physiologically at different workloads. Knowing your VO2 max as a runner is like how a powerlifter knows what the maximum amount of weight they can bench is. If you don’t have a benchmark going into a competition, you run the risk of over- or under-shooting and not performing as well. You don’t necessarily have to partake in a full VO2 max test if you are concerned about going to volitional fatigue. There are submaximal tests and estimation equations that can be utilized to get a rough estimate of your VO2 max. See a NIFS staff member with any questions you have pertaining to a VO2 max test or to schedule your test today.

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This blog was written by Grant Lamkin, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: personal training heart rate energy programs vo2 max oxygen fitness assessment testing