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Burn Baby, Burn

You might be diligent about going to the gym and spending hours doing cardo on a treadmill or eliptical machine – which is great for your cardiovascular health- but are you left without burn-fat-970x727noticeable results?

In a cardio session, you burn calories, but the calorie burn ends when you finish your cardio session. If you want to maximize your calorie burn, you have to take it up a notch and achieve something called EPOC, or “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption”. It is a “measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity intended to erase the body’s ‘oxygen deficit.'”

What does that mean?

It means, “afterburn” – the continual burn of calories after a very high-intensity workout. It also means your metabolism, highest post exercise, is fired up much longer after you finish a workout session. Your body is working hard to re-coup a normal heart rhythm and resting state. You burn calories by consuming more oxygen. Therefore, the longer it takes you to regulate your oxygen intake, the more calories you are burning. This post-consumption state can burn as much as an additional 150+ calories throughout your day. More calorie burn & a higher metabolism = more results, faster.

So how do you achieve it?

Higher intensity workouts. This means bringing your heart rate to 75% or more of your resting heart rate. The longer you perform high intensity exercise, the larger the EPOC effect. It also means performing a high intensity workout for 30 minutes is much more effective than a steady state on a cardio machine for one hour.

Resistance training (with weights or body weight), especially with high intensity interval training, is one of the best ways to increase EPOC.

Guidelines to reach EPOC:

  • Perform at a high intensity (out of your comfort zone) – at least 75%+ of your resting heart rate
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes
  • Include resistance training in your workout
  • Incorporate interval training

Although high intensity workouts are effective, it is recommended that you limit this type of workout to only a couple of times/week as you need time to rest and recover your body.

Try to push yourself and work past your current limits and there’s a good chance you will start to see results much faster.

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Foam Rolling – Why It’s So Beneficial!

There are many different stretching exercises out there and all have similar goals: increase flexibility, improve performance and reduce muscle soreness.  One of the more recent and effective additions to the world of stretching is foam rolling.  Due to a recent injury, I have spent a lot of time rolling and learning first hand about its benefits and I have been amazed at the results.

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What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rollers are cylinders about 6 inches in diameter and usually about 36 inches long that you lie on and roll over your muscles to help to loosen tight muscles. Foam rolling actually increases circulation so the connective tissue and muscles receive more oxygen and water than stretching alone.  In addition, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that acts similarly to massage. Meaning not only do you get the benefits of working out muscle knots and tightness, but you also get the same reduction in stress releasing hormones and improved mood and relaxation that you get from a massage.  Some call it the ‘poor man’s massage’.

A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research documented the benefits of foam rolling before a workout.  The study tracked 2 groups of active people: one group used a foam roller before working out and the other group did not.  The group that used the rollers not only felt less sore after their workouts, they also felt that the workouts were not as difficult.

Foam rolling is not only beneficial for those who work out, it is also great for anyone who sits for long periods of time.  Long bouts of sitting are not good for our bodies (that is a whole other blog topic!) but for most of us, it can’t be avoided.  Foam rolling is also an excellent way to reverse the harmful effects of long-term sitting.

Tips of How and When to Roll:

  • How to roll.  Either find a trigger point (painful spot) and apply pressure, or roll along the muscle (like a massage). A combination of both usually works best.
  • Roll before and after a workout. 
  • Hydrate before you roll.  In general, hydrated tissue is resilient and more susceptible to the benefits of rolling while pliable dehydrated tissue is glued-down and sticky.
  • Do it slowly.  You want slow and purposeful movements.  When you hit a painful area, stay on it – that is where you need to focus.
  • Move in multiple directions. It’s not just up-and-down; muscles and fascia attach at different angles and even in spirals, so roll in different directions.
  • Make it a daily habit.  Even if you aren’t at the gym, make a point of rolling those muscles.  Think of it like flossing – it is daily maintenance.
  • Don’t foam roll on joints.

Personally, foam rolling is the single best thing I have done to combat my injuries.  The benefit is immediate; with each rolling session, I feel noticeable improvement.  I plan to make foam rolling a permanent part of my daily routine in hopes of not only speeding up my recovery, but reducing my chance for future injuries.

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14 Reasons Why You Are Still Not Losing Weight

Sometimes we feel like we are doing everything right, but the weight still doesn’t come off.  Following are some possible reasons why the scale isn’t moving in the right direction.weightlossblog

1.  Eating In Front Of The Television Or A Computer

It is easy to overeat when you aren’t paying attention.  Instead of bringing food to the couch or desk, step away from the screens and focus on enjoying your food.  You will feel satisfied and have less of a tendency to overeat.

2.  Overindulging In Low-Fat Foods

Low-fat foods may appear healthier, but they are often full of additives, artificial sugars and extra sodium. Even though it feels like you are eating lighter,  you may end up eating more than you anticipated.

3.  Overdoing It With Artificial Sugar

Study after study, including a recent one out of Yale University, has shown that when you eat artificial sugar, your bodies crave more sweets. Your taste buds may be ok with the fake stuff, but your brain isn’t fooled.

4.  Thinking Cardio Is The Only Exercise Needed

Everyone needs cardiovascular exercise for heart health, but incorporating weight training also has major benefits. Weight training builds muscle mass, increases metabolic rate and makes your body stronger and leaner.  This higher metabolism keeps you burning calories long after you have left the gym.  (See our earlier blog Heels To Barbells).

5.  Skipping Breakfast

It’s true – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. People who eat breakfast regularly lose more weight. Eating breakfast each morning jump starts your metabolism and keeps your cravings in check. It’s important to keep it healthy and balanced: include protein to give yourself sustainable energy and fiber to fill you up for hours.

6.  Working Out On An Empty Stomach

Research has shown that when exercising on an empty stomach, the calories burned will come from muscle, not fat. You want to keep those muscles since they burn more calories than fat. The more muscle mass you have, the better it is for weight loss. Not only will fueling your body help you avoid losing muscle, you will have more energy to push yourself through your workout.

7.  Overeating Healthy Foods

Yes – nuts, avocados, whole wheat pasta and olive oil are all good for you, but those calories still count.  Keep track of your portions as you enjoy these foods.

8.  Eating Straight From The Fridge Or The Kids’ Plates

Everything you eat counts – whether it is a handful of the chips from your son’s lunch or a few bites of leftovers from the fridge.  Even if you toss down these few bites without thinking, they still count.  My little trick – try chewing gum when making food for others.

9.  Turning A Healthy Salad Into A Landmine

Be conscious of what you put on your salad.  Creamy salad dressings, croutons, bacon bits, dried fruits and cheese can literally add hundreds of calories.  Try other lower calorie choices such as chickpeas, shredded carrots,  lemon juice or balsamic glaze.

10. Lacking Portion Control

This is a crucial key that can derail any attempts at weight loss.  You may need to initially weigh your food to learn the appropriate portion sizes.  Once you get the hang of it, you will be better able to judge what is a portion.  And just as importantly, you need to learn to recognize when you are full. At that first feeling of fullness, either remove your plate or cover your food with a napkin.

11.  Not Drinking Enough Water

Water not only keeps you hydrated, but drinking water on a regular basis helps with weight loss. Additionally, filling up on water before a meal helps encourage portion control. A recent study even found that drinking cold water can speed up metabolism and discourage cravings for sugary drinks like soda and juice.

12.  Never Indulging

In an otherwise healthy diet, enjoying a treat now and then isn’t going to ruin your weight-loss goals, and it may help you stay on track  by keeping you from binging.  A study found that a daily variance of as much as 600 calories  (that means some days less and some days more – not always an extra 600 calories) won’t reflect on your waistline, as long as you maintain a healthy diet in the long run.  Try not to waste these calories eating cold leftovers straight from the fridge; if you are going to indulge once in a while, choose something you really love and sit down and savor it.

13.  Eating The Wrong Post Workout Snack

A post-workout snack is just that — a snack. And unless it’s mealtime, what you eat after an average workout should be around 150 calories. Since healthy foods like trail mix can be high in calories, measure out a serving instead of mindlessly chomping straight out of the bag.

14.  Forgetting To Journal

Writing down what you eat is an essential way to monitor daily caloric intake. A study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics surveyed 123 women and found that those who were the most successful at losing weight used a food journal to keep track of their food intake.  And with today’s apps, there is really no excuse. (I use MyFitnessPal.)

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