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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Plan a Fun Workout with a Deck of Cards

GettyImages-182243945Looking for a simple and fun way to plan your own workout? You can use a deck of playing cards to determine which exercises to do and how many reps. Here are the steps for planning this game-based workout.

Determine Your Workout Goal

What kind of workout do you want to accomplish? Is it cardio based, strength based, or a combo of both? Once you have determined this, choose exercises that coincide with your workout goal. For example, if you want to do a cardio-based workout, you will need an exercise designed to raise your heart rate, like hill sprints, sled pushes, or timed intervals on the rower. If your goal is strength-based, you need to choose resistance exercises like dumbbell bent-over rows, barbell bench presses, or bodyweight air squats. If you want to mix it up, pick exercises that are combo of strength and cardio that can do both, like dumbbell thrusters (front squat to push presses) or burpee to box jumps. 

Select four exercises. Assign each exercise to a suit in the deck of cards. For example, here’s a quick view of suits for a combo workout:

  • Spades: Dumbbell thrusters
  • Clubs: Rowing (x50m for every # on card)
  • Hearts: Barbell bench press
  • Diamonds: Air squats
  • Jokers: (Wild card or rest break) x5 flights of stair climbs followed by a 2–5-minute rest.

Know Your Numbers

The number on the card is representative of the number of reps you'll perform. For instance, a 2 represents x2 reps, an 8 represents x8 reps, and so on. However, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces can get tricky. You have a couple of options. You could choose to assign each face card the equivalent of x10 reps, so no matter which face card you draw, you always perform the same number of reps. As an alternative, to make it more challenging, assign each face card a different number of repetitions: Jack x11 reps, Queen x12 reps, and King x13 reps. For the Ace card, decide whether to make it a face card, assigning it the equivalent of x10 or more reps, or you can treat it as a x1 rep, assigning a single repetition. Whichever way you decide, the number or number equivalent of the card you draw from the deck is the number of reps you'll perform. Jokers are your wild cards or rest breaks. I typically use them to designate a rest or break within the workout with a special extra exercise before taking the rest break.

# of Reps
Ace = 1 rep, 10 or 14 reps, player's choice
2 through 10 = 2 through 10 reps
Jack = 10 or 11 reps, player's choice
Queen = 10 or 12 reps, player's choice
King = 10 or 13 reps, player's choice
Joker = Rest or player’s choice

Shuffle Up and Deal

Start your workout, perform the designated exercise for the assigned number of reps, and immediately pull another card from the deck after completing each exercise. Continue drawing cards and performing exercises until you finish the amount of cards you want to do for your workout, or until you have done all 52 cards.

Sample Workouts

Here are four different workouts that I have done in the past with my athletes. 

Workout: 52-card Pickup—Upper-body Strength

Goal: Complete reps to the corresponding card. Shuffle up the deck and complete the entire 52 cards

  • Face cards = 10 reps

First Half of Deck

  • Hearts = Barbell bench press
  • Diamonds = Wide-grip pulldowns
  • Spades = E-Z bar preacher curls
  • Clubs = E-Z bar skull crushers
  • Jokers = Manual resistance x5 reps of previous card pulled followed by 2-minute rest period

Second Half of Deck

  • Hearts = DB triple press (high/low/flat) broken up and rotating between cards
  • Diamonds = Seated wide-grip rows
  • Spades = DB hammer curls
  • Clubs = Cable/rope triceps OH press-outs
  • Jokers = Manual resistance x5 reps of previous card pulled followed by x2min rest period

Workout: 52-card Pickup—Strength and Cardio

Goal: Complete reps to the corresponding card. Shuffle up the deck and complete the entire 52 cards.

  • Face cards = x:20secs
  • Jokers = Sprint the distance and rest
  • Hearts = BOSU jumps—stick and hold (alt. direction of jumps)
  • Diamonds = Box step-ups w/sandbags
  • Spades = Med-ball slams (any variations)
  • Clubs = BOSU push-ups (alt. exercises) OR plyo push-ups
  • Jokers = x200m run (x1 lap) and 2-minute water break

Workout: 52-card Pickup—Cardio and BW Strength

Goal: Complete reps to the corresponding card. Shuffle up the deck and complete the entire 52 cards.

Sprint the distance associated with the suit on the card on a soccer or football field.

  • Hearts = x1 width of field sprint
  • Diamonds = x1 down and back width of field sprint
  • Spades = x1 length of field sprint
  • Clubs = x1 down and back length of field sprint
  • Jokers = Rest
  • Red cards = Push-ups
  • Black cards = Sit-ups

Workout: 52-card Pickup—Full-Body and Cardio Combo

Goal: Complete reps to the corresponding card. Shuffle up the deck and complete the entire 52 cards.

  • Face cards = 10 reps

Part I: Full-Body

  • Hearts = MB burpee slams
  • Diamonds = BOSU GUGDs
  • Spades = Push-ups plank shoulder taps (R/L)
  • Clubs = Plate halos R/L
  • Jokers = 200m (red lanes) sprint followed by 2-minute rest

Part II: Cardio

  • Hearts = Sled drive (10m for every card #)
  • Diamonds = Jump rope (x20 skips for every card #)
  • Spades = Rowing (x50m for every card #)
  • Clubs = Airdyne bike springs (x:10s for every card #)
  • Jokers = Stair climb to top of NIFS (hallway) followed by 2-minute rest

Part III

  • Hearts = Sledgehammer strikes
  • Diamonds = Sandbag clean and press
  • Spades = BOSU hand release push-ups
  • Clubs = KB swings

FINISHED!

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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: cardio workouts total-body workouts strength workout

12 Days of Christmas: A HIIT Workout You Can Do Anywhere

GettyImages-1267513535We’re in the midst of the holidays. You probably have family commitments or events pulling you away from the gym or time with your favorite trainers at NIFS. You never want to feel as if you are missing out on something during this festive period when you have to work out from home or on the road away from the gym. But with this super-setted HIIT workout, fittingly named for the holidays, you can be sure to improve both your muscle strength and overall fitness while torching some holiday cookie calories over this break.

All you need is yourself and a bench, chair, or step to complete this intense superset HIIT session. This workout includes 12 supersets in total, each designed to get your heart rate up as well as challenge your various different muscle groups.

The Workout

Get ready to tackle 20 to 40 minutes of different HIIT cardio exercises in today's sweat fest! No equipment is needed, so you can work out at home or the gym. Focus on challenging yourself and doing YOUR best!

  • 1x Jump Rope x 30 seconds
  • 2x Spider Push-Up (alt. R/L)
  • 3x Switch Lunge Kicks (alt. R/L)
  • 4x Dip + Knee Pull (alt. R/L)
  • 5x Squat Toe Taps (alt. R/L)
  • 6x Dead Bugs (alt. R/L)
  • 7x Reverse Lunge to Half Burpee (alt. R/L)
  • 8x Elevated Reverse Plank Alternating Knee Pull (alt. R/L)
  • 9x Bird Dogs (alt. R/L)
  • 10x Rear Foot Elv. Split Squats (alt. R/L)
  • 11x 4x Mountain Climbers + Launcher
  • 12x 2x Reverse Lunge to 2x Jump Squats = x1 Rep
  • BONUS Rd13x Push Up + Hyperextension + Knee Tucks
  • BONUS Rd14x 3x Plank Jack + Pike-up Hop
  • BONUS Rd15x Elevated Plank Hip Drop + Knee Pull

Sub/swap exercises as needed. Follow order, accumulating rounds/reps

  • Rd 1 - x1 rep (in this case, Time: 30 seconds)
  • Rd 2 - x1 + x2 reps
  • Rd 3 - x1 + x2 + x3 reps
  • Rd 4 - x1 + x2 + x3 + x4 reps

... And so on until you're finished with round 12

  • Rd 12 - x1 + x2 + x3 + x4... x10 + x11 + x12 reps

(You will do round 1 x12 times, whereas round 12 only once)

  • **Bonus**… Rd 13, 14, 15 (x3 more additional rounds)
  •   - x1 + x2 + x3 + x4... x10 + x11 + x12 + x13 + x14 + x15 reps

Increase the Intensity

If you want to increase the intensity of this particular workout, I suggest two options. First, add another round with the bonuses. Second, repeat this routine for another series depending on your fitness level.

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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: cardio exercise at home workouts calories holidays high intensity HIIT strength workout superset

Cycling at NIFS: The Low-Impact, Calorie-burning Group Fitness Workout

Cycle_RPMCycling is becoming one of the most popular trends in group fitness. Not only is it a great class to take for the cardio benefits and calorie burn, cycling is a great resistance-based workout that can also increase strength. Many cycling classes are tracked in two ways, by RPM or BPM. RPM stands for “repetitions per minute,” and BPM stands for “beats per Minute.” Each form is usually cued by an instructor to ride to a particular beat. Both are great options; which one to choose just depends on personal preference. If you like music, you might enjoy a beat-driven class more. If you enjoy competition, you might enjoy an RPM-style class more.

Not only can a cycling class burn up to 600 or 700 calories a session, cycling classes are also fun to participate in due to the motivation to push and work hard from the instructor and the fun music played in class. With each person being on their own bike, participants control their own resistance with guided cues from the instructor on approximately how much resistance to add. This makes the class a great option for all levels, since each individual is in control of their own resistance. Resistance is recommended based on the kind of track an instructor is teaching. For example, if the instructor is cuing sprints, they might also cue for lighter resistance so you can move as quickly as possible. If you are simulating a hill, you might be cued to add a lot of resistance to make you have to use more strength and power to “get up the hill.”

Benefits of Group Fitness Cycling Classes

Among the benefits of this group fitness class are the following:

  1. Low-impact cardio option
  2. Stress release
  3. Cardiovascular
  4. Muscular endurance

What to Know Before Your First Class

If you have not been to a cycling class before, have no fear! If you are on your way to a class, try to get there 10–15 minutes early. This gives you time to meet your instructor and learn how to set up your bike appropriately for your height. Usually a studio will have shoe rentals or bike cages to be worn with normal shoes. If you would like to purchase cycling shoes, you can find many different options online.

Cycling at NIFS

Cycling is offered daily at NIFS at a variety of times. Check out the Group Fitness Schedule to find a class that works with your schedule!

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio group fitness cycling calories endurance indoor cycling low-impact strength workout

Thanksgiving Success Strategy: Eat Sensibly and Keep Moving

GettyImages-1036967134Not long from now, families all over America will be sitting down to a meal that looks back to that first Thanksgiving, in which the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest after a harsh winter. The year was 1621, and Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving, which the colonists celebrated as a traditional English harvest feast.

George Washington declared Thanksgiving a holiday in 1789, and in 1941 Congress passed a resolution which decreed that the holiday should fall on the fourth Thursday of November.

Feasting together is as old as the human race. It is a way of celebrating and enjoying time with family and friends. But if we are not careful, we can overdo the festivities and end up setting ourselves back over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Just How Big Is Your Meal?

It’s hard to believe, but the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat. And most of us don’t limit ourselves to one indulgent meal. It’s typical to snack and celebrate all day long.

The trouble comes when we have to deal with those extra calories that we have packed into our bodies. “A 160-lb. person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours, or walk 30 miles to burn off a 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, ACE chief exercise physiologist, in this article. Many people start by snacking throughout the day, and that combined with the meal can lead to a total caloric intake of 4,500.”

Nutrition and Fitness Tips for Turkey Day

The good news is that you don’t have to forgo your favorite holiday foods. There is room for a little indulgence at a holiday feast! The secret is to have a plan as we head into the holiday season. By staying on top of both your calorie intake and your physical activity, you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and emerge on the other side just as fit as you are now.

  • Plan your meals. If you know that you are going to be having some heavy, celebratory meals in the upcoming days, limit your intake at other meals to help keep your diet balanced out. Don’t skip meals, but make them lighter and be sure to include plenty of healthy, lower-calorie foods. For instance, if you are going to have a big lunch, eat a smaller breakfast and dinner.
  • Look at the big picture. Keep up with how you eat during the several days surrounding Thanksgiving. It’s not a good idea to indulge at every opportunity that presents itself. If you splurge heavily one day, take it easy the next.
  • Keep moving. The last thing you need this time of year is a slowed-down metabolism. Staying active is a great way to give your body a fighting chance to negotiate the extra calories you will be consuming. To get the biggest bang for your exercise buck, do regular strength training moves. Even after your strength training session has ended, your metabolism and calorie burn remains high.

Strength Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Here are some simple strengthening exercises you can do no matter where you are—whether in your office at work or at the in-laws’ house.

  1. Push-ups. If you aren’t used to doing push-ups, start with your hands on a raised surface such as a desk. As you gain strength, you can gradually move to doing them fully on the floor.
  2. Lunges. For extra credit, hold dumbbells or other heavy objects in your hands while lunging.
  3. Squats. To do a proper squat, start with your feet shoulder width apart. Begin to lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Try to reach a level where your quads are parallel, and then stand back up.
  4. Step-ups. Find the nearest step, and with alternating legs step onto the step with one leg and then step back down. Again, holding heavy objects in each hand will increase the effect.

There is no need to pack on the pounds this Thanksgiving. Figure out your strategy now, and then when the festivities start, just work the plan!

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating calories holidays exercises Thanksgiving strength workout

NIFS Group Fitness Class of the Month: BODYPUMP

BodyPump 2021Our Group Fitness Class of the Month is going to PUMP (*insert handclap) you up! Les Mills BODYPUMP™ has swept around the world for decades. Scientifically proven and successfully tested, it has grown to be one of the top strength workout programs and has been in high demand for group training schedules for many clubs over the years.

Within 55 minutes, you work your entire body, core, and brain while being coached through 10 motivating tracks of functional strength exercises. As a new official BODYPUMP instructor and previous participant in this class myself, I will attest to the fact that while this class has awesome playlists of upbeat and trendy music to squat to, it doesn’t mess around when it comes to getting down to the nitty-gritty hard work! However, it was created with everyone in mind.

Background

BODYPUMP is a pre-choreographed workout program created by a New Zealand–based company called Les Mills. According to Les Mills, by definition it is “…a barbell workout for anyone looking to get lean, toned, and fit—fast. Using light to moderate weights with lots of repetition, BODYPUMP gives you a total-body workout. It will burn up to 540 calories.”

Some of the main aspects highlighted in a workout include building strength, getting lean, and working all major muscle groups. This, in turn, can lead to improved bone health, better overall body strength, and increased core strength and stability, which are all key factors in how well we function on a daily basis. The secret to this program format is in the science of what is known as the Rep Effect, which is “…a proven formula that exhausts muscle using light weights, while performing high repetitions….” This formula aids in building some of that lean, athletic muscle. So if you were reading this worrying that this program or lifting weights was going to give you crazy, bulky muscles, rest easy; it won’t.

What I love about this program, and Les Mills as a whole, is that their formats are studied and tested, and are constantly reviewed and renewed to make sure they are presenting the most functional and efficient movements to make for the most optimal results.

Workout Format

Speaking of the format, here’s what to expect when you come to a class. Classes can be presented in 30-, 45-, or 55-minute (usually listed on schedules as 60) formats. For a full class, you will run through the following tracks:

  1. Warmup
  2. Squats
  3. Chest
  4. Back
  5. Triceps
  6. Biceps
  7. Lunges
  8. Shoulders
  9. Core
  10. Cooldown

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Tips for Your First Class

Along with what to expect in your workout, here are a few tips for when you walk into your first class:

  • Talk to the instructor. They should introduce themselves if they haven’t already, and they will inform you of what types of weights you will need for class that day.
  • Allow some time for setup before class begins. Some basic equipment needed for this class is used in every class, such as a step, a barbell with clips, as well as a selection of weight plates to swap out between tracks. So grabbing your space and equipment ahead of time makes for a much smoother and more enjoyable class for not only yourself (in dealing with transitions during tracks), but for the class as a whole. This is also a perfect time for you to ask the instructor questions about form if you have them, or if you are new to class to ask what to expect.
  • Remember that you do not have to complete the entire workout on your first day. (See below about our “Smart Start” approach.). If you need to take a modification to keep correct posture and technique, please do so.
  • Bring water and a towel. As always, water and a towel are great to have handy when attending any group class, but I will say, you’ll especially want them for this workout. I am usually sweating already by track 2!

A Smart-Start Approach

Never tried BODYPUMP (or even group fitness, for that matter) before? No problem! With any class you take here, we encourage the “Smart Start,” which includes staying for the first few tracks/songs of the workout, or simply half of the class. Then, when you feel that you’ve had enough or if that’s all you can do for now, you head out for the day with the motivation to stay for one more track next time you come back, until you find yourself completing the full class. Check out the class times on our group fitness schedule and see some of the other classes we offer.

And if you have never tried a group fitness class at NIFS before, and want to take that first step and check us out, here’s how to try a group fitness class for free!

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

Topics: group fitness workouts group training Les Mills core strength music Group Fitness Class of the Month BODYPUMP strength workout