It’s time to take it to the Park!!

When you think of strength training, you don’t normally think of being outdoors; instead you think of a gym full of equipment or those dumbbells you have lying around your house. With the warm weather finally sticking around, I want to encourage you to try strength training outdoors. There is so much you can do with your own body weight and equipment you can find at a park or even in your own backyard.

Let’s be creative – If you go to a park with a playground (should be easy enough to find), head for the monkey bars. You can hang on one bar to practice your pull up strength or you can have fun with it and see if you can make it all the way across. Pretend you’re a kid again!! Trust me – it is not as easy as it used to be! You can use steps or benches for tricep dips, or just simply step up and down to strengthen your legs. If you have a workout buddy, use the playground to create your own obstacle course – challenge each other!

If you don’t have a playground, use the trees, find a bench, experiment and use anything. When I think of trees, I’m doing standing push-ups leaning against the tree. Or if you have low branches you can use those for pull-ups too! Treat the bench the same as you would a stair – just don’t sit – keep working!

Here are some other fun ideas you can try:
                ~ Alternating lunges around the entire park – OUCH!
                ~ Instead of sliding down a playground pole, try and climb up it!
                ~ Climb a cargo net or a rock wall.
                ~ Try a plank with your feet on a swing. Bonus if you can tuck your knees in & out!
                ~ If you have kids – try and keep up with them at the playground!
              ~ Try an EcoTrek Fitness Class
Run, Jump, Crawl, and Swing – but most importantly have fun while you’re trying out some new exercises. You can google playground workout for other fun ideas! 

I love variety

pilates isI love all kinds of fitness classes, it has always seemed so much easier to suffer and sweat with the company of others. I think that is why I wanted to teach aerobics. I even trained to be a yoga instructor only to find I could not be quiet and focused enough to teach that type of class. It has only been recently that I took my first Pilates class, I learned very quickly that Pilates is not for the faint of heart. Pilates can benefit anyone-male or female, young or old, beginner or an athlete.

A good Pilate’s workout can sculpt your core like nothing else. Pilates will help you stand taller, improve your posture, improve your balance, tone muscles and as you get stronger it can prevent and relieve certain issues like low back pain.

While Pilates is very challenging and if you are like me your muscles will be shaking. Keep in mind the key is to also incorporate traditional strength training into your workouts. It is important to strengthen your muscles against challenging resistance levels. By definition strength training means working your muscles to fatigue and increasing weight as you get stronger-these variables are not usually present in a traditional Pilate’s class. So, in an ideal world you want to aim for strength training with weights at least 2 times a week and then shoot for fitting in Pilates or yoga 2 times a week- and don’t forget the cardio! Variety is essential to achieving a healthy body.

It’s Never Too Late

If you spend much time in a gym over the years, I am sure you probably have heard the phrases “go heavy or go home” and “no pain no gain”. As an older adult the thought of adding more pain to my life is not that appealing. So I was excited that the most recent studies show that even doing light weights in a full range of movement is just what the doctor ordered. The American College of Sports Medicine believes that strength training is the most important exercise for older adults who aren’t fit, and that it should come before aerobic exercise, not afterward, which is typically the case. Think about it adults lose between 5 to 7 pounds of muscle every 10 years after age 20! Strength training is the only thing that can prevent that muscle loss from happening. By doing nothing our muscles weaken and this decline can eventually rob us of our active and independent lifestyles. I don’t know about you but I am not about to let that happen.

The beautiful thing is it is never too late to start. You don’t have to join a gym to lift weights- soup cans, dumb bells, resistance bands or even milk jugs can create all the resistance your muscles need. You may find an exercise group that makes it more fun, being social is also important to our mental health. But either way check with your doctor before you start any exercise programs.

Strength training just might be the fountain for youth we are looking for!

Different types of strength training

To most individuals, the intimidation of gym and strength training are  used as an excuse to stear clear from it. Strength training helps burn more calories efficiently, increase lean muscle mass, and shed that pesky fat that lingers around too long! Strength training also helps increase energy, sharpen focus, control weight and manage chronic conditions. By training a couple times a week you will not only see an improvement in your fitness, but in other aspects of your life.

There are many different types of strength training to best fit your needs including, training for muscle power, muscle strength, muscle hypertrophy, or muscular endurance. Muscle power helps with speed, muscular strength increases overall strength, hypertrophy increases muscle size and weight loss, and lastly muscle endurance sustainability to carry you through long periods of exercise.Although all of these training types can produce dramatic results, it is important to find the one that will best accommodate your needs to reach your goals. It is also important to switch up your normal workout routine. You can do this by using more than one of the techniques described above! I would strongly suggest starting with muscular endurance and hypertrophy. This will give you a great start. As you become more comfortable with strength training, it is wise to start incorporating muscle strength and muscle power...

Strength Training: Progression/Adaptation

When it comes to Strength Training, it is definitely Quality over Quantity. You get the best results from strength training when your muscles are stressed and then allowed to rest and adapt to the stress. It is important to understand that you do not have to do as much as the muscle can do, you just need to do more that they are used to doing. In other words you don’t have to lift as much as you can every time, you just have to lift more than you normally lift.

Strength Training is about progression and adaptation. The progression part means doing a little more that you have done in the past. The adaptation part comes by allowing the muscle to adapt to the new level of stress. In my years of being involved with strength training, I’ve seen two different types of incorrect lifters. There are the people who constantly increase the resistance without allowing for adaptation. This usually leads to injury and burn out. Then there are the people who never increase the resistance and don’t allow for progression. This limits the improvement to the level of resistance they use. The key is the balance between progression and adaptation.

A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to handle the resistance with moderately hard effort for 3 consecutive workouts before you increase. You should never go more than 12 workouts without attempting to increase the resistance. Eventually you will increase to a resistance that you are not ready for. You need more time to adapt. Go for another 12 workouts, but make sure you challenge yourself to increase when those 12 workouts are done. If you find that you have plateaued and cannot increase, then it may be time to change your workout routine. But that is in the future and a topic for another blog.