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The 12 Days of Fitness

   

12 days of fitness
The holidays are here again and it’s time for another 12 Days of Fitness workout routine.

       

This routine is the perfect quick and easy exercise plan to help you include a little activity each day, even if you’re pressed for time. This workout gradually increases in activity and reps each day, but even day 12 can be completed in less than 15 minutes.

On each day you’ll do a corresponding number of the given activity along with all of the days that came before it.  For example: on day 3 you’ll do 3 burpees, 2 push ups and 1 mountain climber.  On day 8 you’ll do 8 floor cobras, 7 lunges, 6 wall angels, 5 jumping jacks, 4 donkey kicks, 3 burpees, 2 push up and 1 mountain climber and so on.

12 Days of Fitness Workout

12 days of fitness

This 12 Days of Fitness workout can be adapted to fit many skill levels. Exercises can be substituted, progressed or regressed as needed. Rest periods can be added as needed too. Make this workout work for you.

And remember, you should check with your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program to ensure you are safely able to participate.  This routine may not be suitable for everyone and you assume any an all risk if you choose to participate.

If you want to participate in more fun holiday workouts give these a try:
12 Days of Fitness Exercise Routine 2015
12 Days of Fitness Exercise Routine 2014
12 Days of Fitness Exercise Routine 2013

 

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

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This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Running in the Morning – Tips to get Out the Door

   

Today’s article on running in the morning was written by guest author Dan Chabert. If you’d like to get in touch with Dan please check out his contact info at the end of the article.

       
running in the morning
Pixabay

Many people – myself included – often have the best of intentions to start their day with a workout. The day soon gets away from them, so they think that they’ll work-out after work.  When that doesn’t happen they say they’ll work-out after dinner.  When that doesn’t happen they say they’ll just do something short and sweet before bed, at home.  And when that doesn’t happen they relegate themselves to the couch, binging on Netflix and ice cream, and feeling bad about themselves. Sound familiar?

Without a doubt, we’re all busy people. I don’t know a single person who has so much free time on his or her hands that he or she complains about regularly being bored. With work, parenting, family obligations, school, and whatever other life commitment that pops up, many of us may feel like we don’t have the time or the opportunity to properly take care of ourselves.  Whether it’s eating right and exercising regularly  it’s not so much a matter of willpower as it is a matter of time management. If only I had a 25th hour, we say…

I’ve read studies that suggest that people’s willpower is at its highest levels in the morning, which means for many people that the likelihood of them making positive, healthy decisions – such as exercising – is more apt to happen earlier, rather than later, in the day. I’m one of those people. Experience has taught me again and again that if I don’t figure out a way to get my run in in the a.m. hours, it’s safe to assume that it’s not going to happen at all.

I’m guest posting on Former Fitness Flunky today because I want to share with you some of my best practices for developing a morning fitness routine. I’ll couch my suggestions specific to running, but the same principles hold true for any fitness routine you can complete. Running in the morning is completely doable, but it takes not only the ambition and drive to stick with it day after day but also a hefty amount of deliberate planning. Before you quickly dismiss me and claim that you’re not a morning exerciser and will never be one, I implore you: try it! You may find that exercising most mornings becomes the difference between you entering into a regular fitness routine and you continuing to falter and planning to start “next Monday.” Hear me out, and give running in the morning a chance.

Before You Go to Sleep at Night

Set multiple (and I mean multiple!) alarms.

My experiences have taught me the value in setting many alarms to ensure that I wake-up to run in the early morning hours, and this was especially true for me when I was in the process of developing my habit for the first time. If you’re going to be waking-up much earlier than you usually do, setting more than one alarm – at least initially – will be wise. It goes without saying, but unless you’re working third shift, set your alarms for the A.M. hours, not P.M. (You’d think that’d be obvious, but alas…).

Prepare all your gear.

It can be a nuisance to take the time before you go to bed to lay-out all your workout attire (such as your shoes, watch, clothes, and the like), but before you start to complain about this tedious extra step, think of it in different terms.  If spending 10 minutes at night putting out your clothes ensures that you can sleep for at least 20 extra minutes in the morning – and save you extra time fumbling around your house looking for an errant sock – is it worth it? (Unequivocally, yes!).

You could even literally sleep in your workout attire if you wanted. Even consider setting timers on your coffeemaker, so it goes off when you’ll be getting up in the morning (or shortly beforehand), and prepare your pre- and post-workout food so when you get up and get going, you’ll be ready to get moving straightaway. You’ll find that you’ll be able to streamline your morning process, thanks to lots of trial and error, the more you do it. Don’t get discouraged if you miss something the first time around.

Just go to bed.

Social media is great for a lot of things, but it’s definitely not great for helping us fall asleep at night. If I’m not careful – and maybe this is the same for you – “just checking” my social media channels before bed usually sucks a good 45+ minutes of sleep away from me because I get lured into watching videos that I don’t need to watch or taking silly quizzes that I don’t need to take. When you’re going to be waking-up early in the morning to run, you need to do everything in your power to ensure that you’re getting adequate amounts of sleep each night, and perusing social media does not help.

You might even want to consider setting hard-and-fast boundaries for yourself for technology usage in bed, such as limiting yourself to a set amount of time or cutting yourself off from it entirely. After a while, once you get used to waking up early to run/exercise, you’ll likely find that when you get into bed each night, you actually want to go to sleep, anyway. Plus, when you’re first getting started, consider getting into bed a little earlier than normal each night, even if it’s only a 20- or 30-minute difference. Sleep is critical for all of us, but it’s especially important for early risers. Don’t shortchange yourself!

The Morning Of

Initially, it will probably stink. Expect it.

Unless you are a naturally early riser, those first few early wake-up calls will probably be rough, and you’ll probably question your motivation, if not also your sanity, for waking up early to run. My experiences have taught me that it’s easier to just accept and acknowledge that those first few times will probably be mildly horrible; once you accept it and even anticipate it, it’s really not so bad. This adjustment period takes time to get accustomed to, but once you are, you’ll probably find that getting up early just becomes part of your routine, something that you do without question.

Anytime we do something different from how we usually do things, there’s typically a learning curve involved, and once we figure things out, it’s not so bad after all. Give yourself a chance here, and I implore you: don’t be so quick to write off early morning workouts based on your first few experiences (especially if it means the difference between you working out and not working out at all). When your alarms start to buzz, cue your inner Bob Marley and get up and stand up;it’s that easy. Exercising in the morning is a tremendous way to wake-up, and you’ll probably find that it puts you in a great mood for the rest of the day, too.

Research the weather, if necessary, but nothing else.

Like I mentioned before, social media is a killer time-suck, and if you “just check” your social media channels in the morning, before you exercise, you may lose your opportunity to run altogether. If anything, if applicable, check the weather so you ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for the elements outside, but that’s it. Don’t let the internet sabotage your workout opportunity; unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience on this one. Your email, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, blog – whatever – can all wait until you return.

Make it a group effort for (more) fun and safety.

When you’re an early morning runner, you might find that you feel more motivated to get up and get out there when your friend is doing the same – and is waiting on you to show up. Plus, you may also find that you feel safer if you’re hitting the roads with someone else, whether it’s your best friend or your furry, four-legged friend. If you go out with someone else, you’ll probably find that the time flies by, and it’ll help you get your day off to a great start.

Be as safe as possible.

Last but certainly not least, when you are exercising in the pre-dawn hours outside, it is critical that you ensure your own personal safety because your life could be on the line, as over-dramatic as that may sound. Invest in some safety accouterments to help make yourself be visible to others when it’s dark outside – such as apparel with reflective elements, a reflective vest, a headlamp, knuckle lights, and some sort of personal identification (like a RoadID) – so that other pedestrians and motorists can see you from afar.

Running with a buddy (person or canine) can help with safety, as well, but be sure to also use common sense. Don’t run somewhere in the dark that you haven’t run in the daytime before, and trust your instincts. Consider, also, running with your phone and without listening to music. Lastly, while black is incredibly slimming, don’t wear all black on your morning runs because you’ll be hard to see.

Before you write yourself off as not being a “morning runner” or exerciser, give running in the morning a try for a while. You can literally help yourself plan for success by doing a fair bit of planning in order to make morning exercise a habit. The longer you keep at it and give it a try, the more opportunities you’ll find that you can streamline, distractions that you can eliminate, and processes that you can strengthen. In time, I bet you’ll even come to enjoy your early-morning workouts/runs and look forward to them … and wonder what took you so long to try it in the first place.

See you out there, fellow sunrise chaser.

Dan ChabertAuthor Bio

Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com and gearweare.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.

 

Workout Wednesday: The Checklist

   

workout wednesdays

       

I’m rather proud of myself. This week is the 9th consecutive week I’ve managed to include exercise every single weekday by using an exercise checklist. With a day job that sucks up a lot of time and requires me to be desk bound I often tell myself I’m too worn out mentally to even bother with physical activity by the time the day is over. Instead of letting that get me down I’ve gone back to a system that used to work great for me – the checklist.

exercise plan

Now, my checklist doesn’t include a lot of really heavy activity, but what it does is give me a reminder I need to get up out of my chair get more activity in during the work day. I try to include some upper and lower body stuff, like dumbbell curls or squats, and an isometric exercise like planks or wall sits. I’ll do three set of 10 reps throughout the day. That means that almost every time I get up to do something I squeeze just a little extra movement in.

I do the same movements/exercises for two weeks and then I either change things up or increase the weight on any lifting exercises.

Using an exercise checklist makes me more accountable to me.  It’s way too easy to just let the day slip away without it.

How do you stay on track when things are crazy or there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day?  Have you ever used an exercise checklist?

Workout Wednesdays: What is CrossFit

   

workout wednesdays crossfit

       

Workout Wednesdays highlight a specific exercise or area of exercise, what it is, how it’s done and what you’ll get from it.

What is CrossFit

Today I’m exploring CrossFit. CrossFit is training program developed by Greg Glassman. The term “CrossFit” applies to the exercise regimen, the community that participates and it’s also a brand name.  According to the CrossFit website “[t]he aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness. We have sought to build a program that will best prepare trainees for any physical contingency”.¹

CrossFit focuses on building strength and endurance through activities like lifting of kettlebells, sand bags, olympic barbells and plymetric activities like box jumping.  It’s not meant to be sport or activity specific, but instead focuses on high intensity movement and lifting to create a well rounded participant.

CrossFit has it’s own set of unique terminology. Here are a few examples of words or phrases you might see when it comes to CrossFit:

WOD – Workout of the day, sometimes referred to as “the girls” because the original set of workouts are all names after women
Box – A gym or location where CrossFit workouts take place
BW – Body weight
PR – Personal record

For more definitions you can visit the CrossFit FAQ page.

Gear to Bring

Being prepared is the best way to get any exercise session off to a good start.  The gear needed for CrossFit is dependent on the specific exercises selected.  CrossFit typically uses body weight or fairly common exercise equipment.  Gear may include, but is not limited to:

  • Olympic weights
  • Pull up bar
  • Box or adjustable stand for jumping
  • Parallettes

How to do It
A WOD (workout of the day) is posted on the CrossFit website each and every day.  You certainly don’t have to follow this WOD, but a lot of CrossFit gyms will go by this or some may make up their own set of exercises to follow.  To complete your workout you’ll start with a warm up and then go through the WOD as prescribed, making accommodations for ability level or equipment as necessary, followed by a cool down.

You may hear about the girls.  The girls are the original workouts created by Greg Glassman, now referred to as benchmark workouts.  These include routines like Barbara, Fran, Helen, Karen and Amanda.  Each workout has it’s own focus and instructions for completion.  There is also a set of Hero routines that honor fallen members of the military.

To review The Girls and The Heroes routines go here.

Benefits and Wrap Up
So now that you’ve learned a little bit about CrossFit let’s talk about the benefits.  When done correctly, with an eye on safety, CrossFit can yield benefits like increased muscle mass, fat/weight loss, increased strength and increased speed.

I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the dangers associated with CrossFit.  Like any other high intensity program, CrossFit can have serious consequences if not done with care.  CrossFit can be very intense and because of that it sometimes gets a bad rap.  It is very important that you listen to your body when participating in CrossFit or any other exercise activity.  Lifting excessive weight or performing excessive reps of any exercise, in any program, can be detrimental to your health.   If do not feel you can safely perform the activities of a CrossFit routine then you should immediately discontinue your participation and look to alternate types of programs.

CrossFit can be a fun and intense way to get a great workout, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

Remember, you absolutely must check with your doctor before engaging in CrossFit, high intensity training or any other type of fitness program.  This type of workout can be very strenuous and while it can be tailored to suit your abilities, it is not appropriate for everyone so you should ensure you are safely able to participate before trying it out.

Resources
1. CrossFit.com, What Is CrossFit?, http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-is-crossfit.html
2. Nerd Fitness http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/03/01/a-beginners-guide-to-crossfit/

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

Sign up for the Newsletter

This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Workout Wednesdays: High Intensity Interval Training, Otherwise Known as HIIT

   

High Intensity Interval Training

       

It’s been a loooooong time since I did a Workout Wednesdays post so I thought today would be a great time to revisit it and talk about .  Workout Wednesdays highlight a specific exercise or area of exercise, what it is, how it’s done and what you’ll get from it.

Today I’m exploring high intensity interval training which is also known as HIIT.  High intensity interval training has exploded onto the exercise scene as of late as a way to achieve better results from your exercise sessions in a shorter amount of time.  This is made possible by alternating periods of intense bursts of activity with slower paced, less intense recovery periods.

While there is no set or specific formula for high intensity interval training, for maximal results you need to work at a higher “perceived rate of exertion” than your typical sustained pace during the high intensity periods and then work at a slower pace during the recovery periods.  As with any exercise, your perceived rate of exertion will differ from the next person’s.   Here is a perceived rate of exertion chart to give you an idea of how you might judge your own level of exertion:

Perceived Exertion Chart

There are many ways to incorporate HIIT into your routine and many different exercises you can do in this fashion.  One specific style of high intensity interval training is named after Dr. Izumi Tabata.  The Tabata style of interval training includes 20 seconds of high intensity training  followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 8 rounds for a total of 4 minutes.  Some programs forgo resting for slower paced activity.   Other training options specify different amounts of time for the high intensity and rest/recovery periods.  The options are truly endless when it comes to designing a high intensity interval training program.  This makes high intensity interval training something accessible to nearly everyone no matter their abilities.

Gear to Bring

Being prepared is the best way to get any exercise session off to a good start.  The gear needed for HIIT is dependent on the specific exercises selected.  The easiest exercise to do from an equipment standpoint are body-weight only exercises which require nothing but you and a device for keeping time.  Other gear may include:

  • stopwatch or other time keeping device
  • weights
  • jump rope
  • stability ball
  • medicine ball

How to do It

Planning your session is the first thing you need to do if you are going to participate in high intensity interval training.  Because the training is fast paced you have to be ready to switch between exercises very quickly.  This is no time to dilly dally on trying to decide what you want to do next.  Make sure that you select a program that is not only suitable for your abilities, but also targets area you are looking to improve, i.e. strength, agility, cardiorespiratory capacity, etc.  There are tons of pre-planned high intensity interval training programs to be found, but here are a couple examples of simple program examples:

Example One
Sprint for 15 seconds
Walk for 30 seconds
Repeat for 10 rounds
Cool down as needed

Example Two
10 Jumping Jacks
10 Squats
1 minute rope jumping
Repeat for 5 rounds
Cool down as need

Example Three
20 seconds of box jumps, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds of jumping jacks, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds of burpees, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds of mountain climbers,10 seconds rest
20 seconds of box jumps, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds of jumping jacks, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds of burpees, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds of mountain climbers,10 seconds rest
Cool down as need

Benefits and Wrap Up

So now that you’ve learned a little bit about what high intensity interval training is and how to do it you probably want to know what the benefits are.  I mean sure, it sounds fun and all, but why would you want to do this over other types of exercise? The coolest thing about HIIT is that it has been shown to improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness, [2] while also contributing positively to muscle adaptions,[1] while lessening the time you are working out in general. Better still, a study by Jeffrey W. King concluded that research subjects who engaged in high intensity interval training had an increased metabolic rate 24 hours post exercise, whereas the subjects engaging only in steady state training did not experience this benefit [3].  Sounds pretty good, no?

Remember, you absolutely must check with your doctor before engaging in high intensity interval training or any other type of fitness program.  This type of workout can be very strenuous and while it can be tailored to suit your abilities, it is not appropriate for everyone so you should ensure you are safely able to participate before trying it out.

Resources
1. Boutcher, Stephen H., High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss, http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2011/868305/
2. Ace Fitness, High-Intensity Interval Training, http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-fact-article/3317/high-intensity-interval-training/
3. King, Jeffrey W., A Comparison of the Effects of Interval Training vs. Continuous Training on Weight Loss and Body Composition in Obese Pre-Menopausal Women, http://dc.etsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1173&context=etd

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

Sign up for the Newsletter

This post may contain affiliate links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.