Friday, September 23, 2016

Favorite Treadmill Workouts

If you’re looking more like Homer on the treadmill these days it might be time to give one of my favorite workouts a try. I much prefer running outdoors, but when weather conditions are not to my liking it’s to the trusty old treadmill I head.

Workout #1 was actually featured on Brit + Co so you know it’s a good one 😏

1. It’s an interval routine (HIIT) and works best when you can program in 2 speeds for your sprint and recovery.

I start with about 2 minutes of casual jogging.
  • Then it’s a 45 second sprint (mine is about 12 to 13 mph)
  • Then 30 second active recovery (mine is about 6.0 mph)
I repeat that sequence for about 8 to 10 sprints. (Note you can increase or decrease the sprint and recovery paces to be able complete the 8 to 10 sets).

Then cool down for about 3 minutes around 7.0 mph.

2.) My other favorite thing to do on treadmills is pace runs with an incline. As a former sprinter it’s good work for me to get on a treadmill and kind of be forced to stay at a pace for an extended distance. These type of workouts have been great in conditioning my body to run longer distances are more event splits. The target time for this workout is 10 to 15 minutes. Heads up, like race time, this workout is a sprint from the start.

(Note: To gauge the speed you should be at, work from your current fastest mile time. To start the run look to add somewhere between one minute to 90 seconds to that time.)

  • I go out at about 6:40 mile pace with a 2.0/2.5 incline - maintain for ½ mile.
  • Increase the pace to about 6:30 mile pace and drop the incline to 1.5 - maintain for ¼ mile
  • Decrease pace by 10 to 15 seconds and take incline back to 2.0 - maintain for ¼ mile
  • Increase pace by 15 to 20 seconds and drop incline to 1.0 - maintain for ¼ mile
  • Decrease pace by 5 to 10 seconds, increase incline to 1.5 - maintain for ¼ mile
  • Increase pace by 10 to 15 seconds, drop incline to 1.0 - maintain for ¼ mile
  • Increase pace by 10 to 15 seconds, drop incline to 0.5 - maintain for ¼ mile
  • Increase pace by 5 to 10 seconds, drop incline to 0 - maintain for ½ mile (the sprint to the finish, can increase pace additionally as you see fit)
  • Cool down jog for 2 minutes around 5.0 mph pace

And there you have it - two great treadmill workouts to try on your own. Just don't be like these epic fails on the treadmill . . . . 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stretching is . . . fundamental?

Stretching puts a smile on your face
The question of whether you should stretch seems pretty settled when you consult most fitness professionals and doctors. But a google deep dive will bring up more conflicting information than you might expect. 

So where do I stand, er sit, on stretching? I’m a big proponent of stretching and it’s a huge part of my wellness routine when I’m not being bad and skimping out on my post workout regimen (as quoted in this Bustle feature). Anecdotally, I attribute proper stretching to a broad range of my athletic accomplishments and current capabilities. Plus, I have seen tangible improvements in workouts and well-being in my clients who stretch (I stretch them myself to ensure they do it)

Studies have shown that the major benefit of stretching is maintaining or increasing range of motion through a joint. Is that it? What about injury prevention and improved performance? Well the science is a little more undecided on those two things, with some studies showing gains and improvements, others none and even a few showing adverse effects. Where does that leave you and what you should do? Here are my takeaways for what is most commonly accepted and administered to athletes today.

  • A pre-workout, race or game routine should include a cardiovascular component to warm the body up and get blood flowing, followed by a sequence of dynamic exercises to prime and stretch the range of motions used in competition. (Keep an eye out for our upcoming “Dynamic” warm-up video, a great go to guide on how to prime yourself for a competitive event or intense workout) 
  • Following a race, game, competition or workout it’s then prescribed to do a cool down cardiovascular routine to re-warm-up the body, get blood flowing and slowly stretch back out tightened muscles. During a strenuous activity muscle fibers can become overly contracted. If not properly stretched and smoothed the fibers can be more prone to pulls, tears and a shortening of their range of motion. That’s where a good full body static stretch routine performed while the body is still warm from your cool down can be most beneficial, because your muscles are most receptive at that point. 
In the two videos below you’ll see full body routines that utilize static self-stretching and isometric stretching, one routine standing and the other on the ground. The routines are designed to be performed post-workout while the body and muscles are still warm. When holding the stretches for approximately 30 seconds each, the routines run between 10 to 15 minutes.

There are four commonly referenced stretching methods: Static, Ballistic, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) and Dynamic. For the purposes of this post I’m going to focus in on static. Static stretching is further divided into three subcategories (1. Slow and steady with a partner aka “passive”, 2. slow and steady by one’s self aka “self-stretching”, and 3. slow and constant with/against an object aka “isometric”).

A visual to bring together the need and benefits of stretching is to think about having a full long stride length during a sprint. That long stride requires a range of motion through multiple joints, like the ankle, knee, hip and back. As you fatigue during a sprint, your muscles tighten, shortening your stride. This decrease in range of motion coupled with the energy depletion and accumulation of muscle contraction waste products, decrease the power, speed and length of your stride forcing you to slow down. Even after you stop, your muscles remain stressed and overly contracted. A proper cardiovascular and post workout stretch routine addresses these issues.