First Workout Wednesday

In order to get myself blogging with some regularity again (did I ever blog with any regularity?), I've decided to take a cue from Tara at Jimmy Choos andTennis Shoes and start doing a Workout Wednesday post. I probably won't be posting anything that you can't find somewhere online, but I'll be throwing in tidbits from my own personal experience which will hopefully keep it interesting!

I hired a personal trainer a few weeks ago to get myself in gear for swimsuit season. She set me up with some weight training workouts and helped to schedule my cardio sessions so I could get past the plateau I've been facing. I'll be posting a lot of info I got from my trainer, as well as the strength training workouts. Running tips will come later, when I start training for another half-marathon. It's too darn hot outside to run now! If there's anything specific you'd like to see, please email or leave a comment!

One important thing I've learned from my trainer is the importance of warming up your muscles properly before strength training. I've never cared to do it before because I haven't gotten injured and really, what difference does it make? Those are just five extra minutes that I could be using on my "real" workout, and I typically prefer to just get out of the gym as quickly as possible! The thought of an injury didn't phase me, as I've never been injured while working out. But when I discovered that I could burn many more calories during my strength workouts...you bet I'll start warming up!

Here's the deal lifting weights or other strength training doesn't burn as many calories as straight up cardio because your heart rate isn't as elevated. (Instead, it builds muscle, which in turn burns more calories.) One of the reasons I hadn't been doing as many strength workouts as I should is because I like to burn, baby, burn and get those extra calories out by doing cardio.

Well, imagine my surprise when my trainer told me to start warming up before strength training to elevate my heart rate. The training will keep it elevated and I'll burn quite a few more calories! I tested my theory today. Previously, I would typically burn around 150 calories during a 30 minute weight session, never more than that. Today, I burned 300 in just 45 minutes! I doubled the calories I burned just by spending five minutes warming up! All the while building muscle which will continue working to help my body burn calories!

I jogged on the treadmill for five minutes at a slow pace on a slight incline...so nothing big. Here are some other fun ways to get your heart rate more elevated before strength training so you can get your heart rate up there.
  • Ride the stationary bicycle while holding a 6 or 8 lb. medicine ball above your head. Keep your arms even with your ears and your elbows straight, without locking them. After about two minutes of this, I feel pretty dead!
  • Hold two light weights (1 or 2 lbs) and pump your arms as you run up and down the stairs. Obviously, this works best if your home or gym has stairs (mine does). Otherwise, you could pump your arms while on the elliptical.
  • Do a series of drills for 30 seconds each: "basketball player" shuffle the length of the room and back, jumping jacks, jump rope, mountain climbers. Just keep moving quickly!
  • Hold heavier weights and do some basic steps on a step aerobics platform. Kick your legs out when you step on top, or lift your knees high with each step.

All it takes is five minutes to break a sweat and get warmed up!