Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Healthy Habits Challenge: January Weight Loss, Part 2

Last week I promised to share some of my workout routines with you and I'm here to deliver that promise! These are some of my favorite workouts that I come back to time and time again. And the good news is, you can do some of these at home very easily as there's minimal equipment needed (for some of these)... just your dumbbells.

I know I talked a lot about focusing on cardio last week. I really believe that if you are just starting your journey to weight loss (even if you've already been working out a little) that you need to spark your weight loss by intensifying your cardio. I'm here to tell you about my favorite cardio workouts called HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. The reason why I love them is because they aren't very long (most are 20-30 minutes), but they offer a great sweat and calorie burn. It's an efficient, but challenging workout, which is great if you're short on time. A 20 minute HIIT workout can burn more calories than 60 minutes on the treadmill, and if that isn't convincing enough, it also burns calories for 24 hours after your workout. It's a tough 20 minutes, but even if you do this three times per week, you will start seeing results in just three weeks. I've illustrated a few of my favorite HIIT cardio routines with graphics below and have offered an explanation on those I feel might be a little confusing. If you need further explanation, or have questions about those I didn't explain, feel free to ask questions in the comments.

With this above 20 minute Elliptical HIIT, first warmup for 5 minutes at a moderate pace. Then, start the workout. You will sprint for one minute and then go at a moderate pace for two minutes. So, for 0-1 minute, at a resistance of 8 you will sprint; from 1-3 minutes still at a resistance of 8, you will go at a moderate pace. For minute 3-4 at a resistance of 8, you will sprint. For minute 4-5 at resistance of 8, you will go at a moderate pace, and for minute 5-6 you will bump up the resistance to 14, but still go at a moderate speed and so forth.


In case you're wondering what a stepmill is... this is a stepmill. It also goes by names like stairmaster (though it's different than the stairmasters of the 90s) and stairmill. It's just a revolving staircase on a belt so it's like you're working out on your own stairs at home. And it's a great workout! For the above 20 minute Stepmill workout, first warmup for 5 minutes. I usually warmup on an elliptical or something different as my legs get a good enough burn on this workout in the 20 minutes. Once you've warmed up, start this workout on the stepmill at a speed of 8 (if that's too fast, feel free to work up to that speed. If you think it's too slow, just give it a bit. I promise this workout will kick your booty by the middle). When you're on a speed of 8, you will do a single step, or climb the stairs one step at a time like you normally would. From minutes 2-4, bump the speed up to 10 and do a double step, or skip a step every time. And if you feel like you need to take a break, pause the machine for 30 seconds and get right back to it. I will usually take a break at minutes 8 and 16 to bring my heart rate down a little bit. Those double steps at 10 are awesome!

As some of the graphics show, I usually add a good 5-10 minute warm-up to these routines just by hopping on the machine of my choice (treadmill or elliptical usually) at a moderate pace. In addition to these great HIIT cardio sessions, I like to add some strength training, or weight lifting. And don't worry ladies, lifting weights will not make you huge. Lifting weights will give you more muscle, which will increase your metabolism, which will cause you to lose weight. And that's what we want, right?!

Above is a great all-in-one workout that incorporates your weight lifting and cardio together. It will take about an hour, and it will be challenging, but you can do it! Here's the way it works: start with the red box, box #1. There are three circuits, and you will start with circuit A. Do it three times (with a 30 second break in between rounds- one round will be 10 jump lunges, 10 reverse lunges and 10 burpees), then move onto circuit B. Do circuit B three times (with a 30 second rest in between rounds), and move onto circuit C. Do it three times (again, 30 seconds rest between rounds), and then move onto the grey box, box #2 and so forth.

If you're doing one of the HIIT routines above that's around 20-30 minutes, add your weight lifting before you do the HIIT cardio. The reason why I do my strength training first is if I do my cardio first, I am exhausted and so are my muscles so it's hard for me to lift a decent amount of weight, but if I lift weights first, the entire exercise routine feels easier than it would if I reversed the order. Make sure when you're lifting weights that you're challenging yourself. You should be using at least 5 pound dumbbells, if not 8-10 pounds. By that last round, the exercise should be challenging. If it's not, you're not lifting enough weight. Change happens when you're uncomfortable and keep pushing yourself!

If you're looking for more workout ideas, follow our exercise board on pinterest. If you're on instagram, there are some great people to follow that post amazing workouts. My favorite accounts are @iamfitmiss, @jillkfitness and @fitnatic_style. If you're into crossfit, you can check out the WODs (workout of the days) online. If you're not sure what some of the workouts are, just look up the exercise on YouTube to make sure you have proper form. And if you're doing this at home, check out Blonde Ponytail with great workouts that need minimal equipment.

If you're curious what my typical week of working out looks like, here's a couple varieties. (I like to keep my body guessing so I mix it up quite a bit so it doesn't get used to the same old routine).


Weight routine (legs & arms)* followed by a 20 min HIIT  1 hour HIIT routine (like the last workout pictured above)Weight routine (back & abs)* followed by a 20 min HIIT  1 hour HIIT routineRest1 hour spinning classRest

Weight routine (legs & arms)* followed by Crossfit Tabata1 hour HIIT routine1 hour spinning classRestCrossfit workout1 hour Yoga with 20 min HIIT afterRest

*I usually pick one of @iamfitmiss routines, but I might cut down the reps as most of her workouts are planned to be about an hour.

Next week I'll be talking about nutrition which is crucial to losing weight. In fact, losing weight is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. In preparation for next week, I'd like you to keep a food journal. I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories and I highly recommend it. It would be a great way to keep a journal this first week to see what you're eating, and to try and find patterns with areas of struggle. (For instance, I know I struggle at about 2 p.m. every day. I ALWAYS have a sugar craving that time of day! Now that I know that, I can prepare to have a healthier snack ready so I don't reach for a huge handful chocolate instead.) There are other great apps to track what you're eating too, but MyFitnessPal is the only one I've used consistently.

If you're up for this week's challenge, let us know in the comments so we can rally together and help support one another.

 To see other posts in this month's series, click the links below:
Part One- Develop a Plan, Pick a Gym
Part Three-Tracking Calories, Reading Nutrition Labels, Quitting Soda, Curb Cravings 
Part Four- Portion Control, Meal Plans & Indulgence 

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