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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Which Fitness Assessment Is Right for Me? Part 1: VO2

V02 Assessment: A Wealth of Fitness Information for Training

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 1.05.29 PM.pngFitness trends come and go, but heart-rate training is something that has been around for a long time; and due to its validity, I have a feeling it will not be leaving anytime soon. In fact, some places base their entire programming around your heart rate. And knowing your heart-rate training zone is actually a very useful tool for anyone—from the marathon runner to the three-times-a-week boot camp attendee!

Maybe you have felt totally spent after a workout, or on the flip side, you have been at the gym for an hour and don’t feel very productive. Knowing your heart rate training zones can help you to train both harder as well as smarter. So become more efficient in your training by increasing your work capacity and decreasing the time it takes to do it.

Benefits of Knowing Your Training Zones

Take a look at the top 3 benefits of knowing your training zones:

  • Maximize performance. Train in your zones that are based on real numbers.
  • Know how to recover. Recovery is one important element to exercise that many miss. A V02 test will give you your recovery time in order to be efficient in things like intervals and rest.
  • Train harder and smarter. If someone told you that you could become more fit in less time, wouldn’t you jump onto that boat? Knowing your zones allows you to be more efficient in your training

What Does This Assessment Show Me?

In other words, how efficiently does your body utilize oxygen and get it to the working muscles?

  • Four different training zones (low-fat burning, moderate-endurance, high-cardio training, and peak-cardio training zones).
  • V02 Max (your personal cardiovascular fitness level based on your age and gender).
  • Recovery (both heart rate zone as well as time it takes you to recover from peak performance).
  • Aerobic threshold (the window in which your body stops using oxygen efficiently and begins to rely on another energy system for the duration of the exercise—typically won’t last long).
  • Anaerobic threshold (the point at which lactic acid builds up in the body faster than it can be removed; the point at which you do not have enough oxygen to sustain exercise for long periods of time).
  • Total calories burned (the V02 gives you the total amount of calories you burn during each training zone if you sustained that pace for the entire workout).

With all this being said, I would tell anyone from the regular everyday exerciser to the most elite athlete that getting a V02 assessment is something that is beneficial for your training. The cost is $100 for NIFS members and $115 for guests.

To schedule your V02 assessment, contact the NIFS track desk at 317-274-3432 ext. 262, or fitness@nifs.org.

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

Topics: fitness cardio calories endurance recovery heart rate V02 vo2 max assessment

What to Eat: Nutrition Before a Long Run or Workout

GettyImages-627524836.jpgYour body needs fuel! When you are planning to do a run or a workout that is longer than an hour, the way to ensure that you have enough energy to get through it is to make sure you are eating the proper combination of foods beforehand for endurance. This is tricky, though, because you want to make sure what you are eating doesn’t upset your stomach during the workout. Here are some suggestions to get you through the workout with the right nutrition for feeling great.

Tips for Eating Before a Workout

The most important thing is to eat something that is familiar. You never want to try something new on race day or competition day. The old saying “practice makes perfect” will help decide what works best for your body.

Aim for a meal that has an easily digestible carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 3:1. Typically you want something that is lower in fiber and not high in saturated or bad-for-you fats.

For most people, eating around 2 hours prior to running is ideal; but some people have found they can tolerate food 30 minutes before a workout, especially if you are doing the run first thing in the morning. If that is the case, something smaller might be best. Make sure to have a snack before bed that has a combination of carbs and protein (such as cheese and crackers, a yogurt parfait, or fruit and nuts).

Pre-workout Meal Ideas

These are suggestions that you can try to come up with your body’s perfect pre-workout meal depending on the time of day you are completing it.

  • 1–2 slices of wheat toast or an English muffin with peanut butter
  • Cup of Greek yogurt with berries
  • Cup of oatmeal with fruit and nuts
  • Banana with almond butter
  • Half a bagel with an egg and cheese
  • Turkey sandwich with a slice of cheese
  • Pita pocket with homemade tuna salad
  • Cup of quinoa with veggies mixed in
  • Cup of whole-wheat pasta with meat sauce
  • Cup of brown rice with chicken and veggies

Start practicing with some of these suggestions or with other meals or snacks that sound good to you that meet the 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio so you are ready to tackle those long runs and workouts.

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

Topics: nutrition running workouts snacks endurance protein carbs

Readiness and Durability: Better Movement Warmups for Fitness Training

I used to work at a golf course during my time as a teacher. It was a great way to spend my summers and be close to a game I truly enjoy playing. I mainly mowed greens and tees and dug a bunch of holes. I really enjoyed that time of my life very much. On all of the mowers there was a sign that read, “If this equipment can’t work, nor can you.” I think the message is self-explanatory: if the equipment is not properly cared for, it is a very good possibility it will stop working, leading to loss of productivity and failure to complete the job.

I believe the same can be said for our approach to preparing the body for training so that the body (equipment) can work when you need it to accomplish the job at hand. The most critical step in this process is changing the perception of the “warmup” as a secondary or unnecessary part of a training program—something you can skip if you are short on time. In actuality, warmups should be a major part of your training program (if you are truly looking for results, that is).

Long ago I adopted, both for the people I work with and for my personal workouts, a process from a great coach on preparing the body for work. It involves four exercises in four major categories of movement preparation: mobility, stability, core engagement, and loco-motor (dynamic stretches and small plyometrics). For obvious reasons, this is referred to as a 4x4 approach to physical readiness and preparation.

Mobility Drills

Mobility drills refers to the exercises aimed at gaining and enhancing the range of motion in a particular joint. With a joint-by-joint, ground-up approach, these drills typically work to tackle mobility of the ankle, hip, thoracic and cervical spine, and shoulder. Here at NIFS, we work to mobilize movement patterns that involve these joints, and others, which we evaluate in a Functional Movement Screen.

Here are just two of my favorite mobility drills:

i. 1/2K—Abducted T-Spine Rotation
ii. Dynamic Pigeon—Knee & Foot

 
 
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Stability Drills

These drills work to help stabilize the mobility you just gained with the preceding drills. A mobile joint is a great start, but then you must stabilize it with exercises that will aid in alignment and strength of the joint. These exercises are generally used immediately after the mobility work to help in the retention of the alignment and position we are hoping to obtain. Check out a couple of these drills that you can add to your 4x4 warmup.

i. Band Lat. Walks
ii. Split Squat w/ Band Pull-apart

 
 
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Core Drills

Exercises in this phase of our preparation are to “fire up” the core to stabilize the trunk before loading the body with all the great tools we use in strength training and conditioning. A common practice is to save the “ab work” for last during your training session, which is all fine and good, but adding these to your 4x4 work before a weight is lifted can help your performance. A strong, “awake” center will keep you safe during your exercises and allow you to get the most out of them at the same time.

i. Foam Roller Dead Bug with Ext.
ii. Side plank and row

 
 
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Loco-motor Drills

After mobilizing and stabilizing the system, now it’s time to energize it! These drills are used to increase the body and tissue temperature that will prepare your body for the strength and conditioning work that lies ahead. These drills are typically fast and fun, and can combine some dynamic stretching with basic calisthenics. These can be as simple as a jumping jack or lateral lunges, or these two gems:

i. Snowboarders
ii. Sprinter Lunge

 
 
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***

To prepare your body for work and to limit the chances of injury, you must perform a proper warmup. No more skipping a major part of your training session! As soon as you begin to look at the 4x4 warmup as a must-do, the harder it will be to work without it.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: functional training core videos warmups mobility movement stability loco-motor drills

NIFS December Group Fitness Class of the Month: PiYo

Piyo_2017.jpgI know what you’re thinking: PiYo…sounds like some contortionist/new yoga trend, doesn’t it? Only for the truly flexible mind-body gurus, right? On the contrary, PiYo—our NIFS Group Fitness Class of the Month—has made its mark over the last 10 years in the fitness world, and its actual format just might surprise you.

PiYo, by definition, combines the muscle-sculpting benefits of Pilates with the core-strengthening and stretching benefits of yoga. While this fusion format combines two classes that are normally slower paced, what sets PiYo apart is the speed in which the class moves. Instead of holding static poses, you continuously move from one position to the next, creating a solid flow of exercises plus a cardiovascular component that speeds up the flow of moves to more dynamically work and strengthen.

From the Beachbody Creator

PiYo was created by celebrity trainer Chalene Johnson, also known for other best-selling workouts such as Turbo Jam, Turbo Kick, TurboFire, and Chalean Extreme. She created the program after experiencing aches and pains and then later injuries after a long period of teaching group fitness classes. After seeking a doctor’s advice, she was directed to the realization that her body was too tight and that her flexibility was nonexistent.

Chalene wanted to have a workout to offer to individuals who want to work on those often forgotten yet crucial aspects of fitness that translate to our everyday life and impact our habitual mobility techniques later as we age. These aspects include dynamic flexibility, balance, stability, and bodyweight strength. Using your body as your weights, PiYo instructs you through multiple series of moves to challenge your strength, harness your core, and get you sweating within the first five minutes.

The Workout Format

The full format consists of 10 songs (11 songs as an option for more recent releases), and runs for 60 minutes, but feel free to build yourself up with a smart start approach, in which you simply start with the first few tracks and complete what you can and simply build on one additional track from there on your next visits back. Then, depending on how consistent you are in taking the class on a regular basis, your endurance will build to complete the whole class.

The track format consists of the following:

  • Warm Up
  • Heat Building
  • Lower Body
  • Full-Body Fusion
  • Power
  • Flow Right
  • Flow Left
  • Flow Fusion (Optional)
  • Core & More
  • Stretch & Strength
  • Cooldown

A Low-Impact Workout

As a PiYo Live instructor myself, one of my favorite components of the format is that it was primarily created to be a non-impact workout. For those of you who currently experience those aches and pains, low-impact workouts are what you should be looking for.

If you have ever taken the class, you will find that there are options to jump during some of the tracks for extra intensity; but again, those are always optional, and all of the moves are derived from working from the ground up. Even a chair can be used as an option if you have trouble getting down to the floor!

What do I mean by all of this? Simple. PiYo is great for EVERYONE—for all levels, and for all ages. Plus, the music selection is always fun and motivating for each section, which in turn sets you up to finish and leave class feeling worked, fully stretched, and accomplished.

For more information on PiYo and when NIFS offers it, check out our group fitness schedule. Or click here for information on how to take your first group fitness class for FREE!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, Group Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS group fitness workouts flexibility core bodyweight Beachbody Group Fitness Class of the Month PiYo

How Does TRX Help Your Workout? Try It at NIFS!

TRX-3.jpgStarting from the ground up might sound like a daunting task, but with TRX it is possible. The TRX, which can be done as a group or individual, allows its user to perform various movement patterns with varying degrees of difficulty, all while using only body weight as resistance and a routine of exercises assigned to help you reach your goals.

The Equipment

The setup, designed by former US Navy Seal Randy Hetrick in 1995, is comprised of two straps, two handles, two cam buckles for adjustments, and a locking loop for safety. The equipment can be set up nearly anywhere, including but not limited to a TRX frame, a tree branch, or a sturdy piece of furniture. The unit is rather transportable and easy to set up. With that being said, it would seem to be the most ideal piece of equipment for home exercise and gym use. Although this is true, there still is a small learning curve, which you can easily overcome with some practice.

Adjusting Intensity and Difficulty Level

When you examine the exercises, you discover that the majority of them utilize angles to both increase and decrease intensity and level of difficulty. Furthermore, relying on the handles more and more can make things much easier. When it’s time to up the workload, you can grip the handles less (which requires you to utilize more body strength to get through the exercise).

When we program a TRX exercise into your routine or in a class, we would expect that at any time someone might need a regression or a progression, so there isn’t really a reason to stop or quit—just readjustments to help you keep moving!

How to Get the Most from this Equipment

Like all equipment, there are ways to best utilize this tool to get the most out of your time. When you understand that the difficulty level is determined by balance, stability, and angles, making just a few adjustments can really help you get a better workout.

Here are some tips that may also enhance your workout.

  • Do not allow any slack in the straps. The constant tension will force you to be in control while working through your movements.
  • Practice good form by having the straps as an aid. If you are having trouble with proper form at the bottom end of your squats due to ankle mobility or posterior chain flexibility, use it to help you move into and out of precarious instances where typically you would be uncomfortable. Once you are able to do the movements proficiently, try them again without the TRX and then eventually with a weight load.
  • Add an exercise to a workout circuit. To mix it up and give you a great workout, the versatility and multitude of exercises allows you to change exercises, sets, reps, and intensity at a moment’s notice.

Most floor exercises with a TRX are more challenging due to the idea that you are using more energy to keep good form (including core muscles).

Try It in Group Fitness Classes at NIFS

What exercises have you tried? The group fitness classes offered at NIFS are for everybody. Your Fitness Specialist can modify an exercise if you aren’t ready for it or if you need a little more of a challenge. The classes also offer variety to help enhance your own “exercise library,” which will ultimately lead to more confidence. Remember that your exercises can vary from person to person, but as long as you can continue to challenge yourself, your body will continue to develop and become stronger.

Whether you are trying to improve form or get a total-body, no-nonsense workout, the TRX is an adaptable and highly useful tool you can use along the way. NIFS offers free classes weekly to help guide your workouts. If you still aren’t convinced, contact a NIFS Fitness Specialist to discuss ways we can help you reach your goals.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS Thomas' Corner equipment group fitness resistance workout TRX body weight

Staying Well in the Winter: Tips for Cold-weather Wellness

GettyImages-613030648.jpgWinter is fast approaching; it officially begins on Thursday, December 21. With temperatures getting colder and the weather conditions more temperamental, it’s important to plan ahead to stay on top of your wellness goals. Distractions are inevitable during the holidays, but anticipating them and reacting accordingly will set you apart from most individuals during this season. See our tips below to help combat being sidelined this season

  • Plan ahead. Parties and gatherings are part of the fun of the season, but may throw a wrench into your normal schedule. Take a look at your calendar at least once a week and schedule in your workouts beforehand. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
  • Grab a friend. Not feeling motivated? Partnering up to exercise is a great way to create accountability while also enjoying hanging out with your friends. Try a new class or step out of your comfort zone.
  • Dress appropriately. If you don’t want to be stuck inside during the cold weather, make sure to wear the proper gear. Check out this article about winter running wear to determine whether your winter workout wardrobe needs an upgrade, and then see these other tips for preparing for a winter run.
  • Write down your goals. In addition to having a workout partner, do some goal setting, and post them somewhere visible—like the fridge!
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep. If you are starting to feel run-down, it is extremely important to make sure you are getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Lack of sleep reduces the amount of antibodies and cells that fight disease and infection.
  • Take advantage of seasonal activities. No time to fit in the gym? Stay active in your events! Try ice skating, cutting down your own Christmas tree, or walking around a holiday market.

Most importantly, remember to enjoy the season and surround yourself with friends and family. Creating a well-rounded exercise program will help you stay on top of your goals while still taking advantage of seasonal festivities. Have questions? A NIFS trainer can help set you up for success!

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This blog was written by Ellyn Grant, Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS goal setting holidays accountability winter wellness cold weather

How the Half-Kneeling Workout Position Helps with Movement

For many years now, the half-kneeling position has been a favorite of mine and a workout program staple for the individuals I work with. As a “pattern–first” coach, the half-kneeling position not only provides another dimension to many exercises; it also helps in enhancing a few movement patterns at the same time.


Why It’s a Great Position

One of the reasons it’s such a great position is that it teaches us how we learned to move in the first place, from the ground up. Becoming proficient in the basic functional movement patterns carries over immensely into higher-order movements and exercises, as well as develops strength and stability in the trunk and core, which will be a benefit in many aspects of fitness and while we travel around this earth.

Getting the Most from the Movement

But the half-kneeling position is more than just putting one knee on the ground. There are a few intricacies you want to pay attention to in order to get the most out of the movement you’re performing in this position.

Let’s break down the half-kneeling position, shall we?

 
 
 
 
 
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As you can see, there is more to this position than simply placing one knee on the ground and performing a movement.

The Best Half-Kneeling Exercises

Now that we know the best way to set-up this position, here are a few of my favorite half-kneeling exercises for you to add into your workout program.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Windmills
  • Cable chop
  • Cable lift
  • AR press
  • Sandbag halo
  • MB hip toss
  • SA land mine OH press
  • SA chest press
  • KB seesaw press
  • Lat pulls

Getting the most out of every movement in exercise should be a priority when designing a program or individual workout session. Concepts like combination exercises, multi-joint movements, and pattern-specific exercises provide maximal benefits to your fitness and routine. Take a knee and improve multiple facets of your fitness at the same time.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise workouts core functional movement programs movement knee