Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Cardio: A Quick Start Guide

How to Cardio: A Quick Start Guide

One of the aspects of the Crosspit program many people love is the fact we leave you to decide what kinds of cardio to do. The benefits of this flexible program are that you can work current activities into your training and you will always have more familiar activities to perform your cardio with. In response to some of the other training primers we’ve presented that summarize and index many or our blog topics, we present you with this primer on how to make cardio an efficient part of your HIIT program.

Cycling is a very efficient and low impact exercise that allows you to burn calories at a high rate with very little stress and impact on your joints. The legs are the largest muscle group in the body making them the prime mover is a good way to involve a lot of muscle work. Some people use cycles for transportation which means more calories burned throughout your day. 

We’ve skipped over basic walking and running because they are well known and rather inefficient forms of cardio. Running up stairs is an entirely different stories. The incline and force of gravity load your muscles up and kick your lungs into high gear to keep up. If you’ve got knee or back issues and fear the impact will cause damage, fear not because you can still walk up stairs.

Swimming is a great way to torch calorie and preserve your body because it requires the participation of every muscle head to toe. The suspended nature of your body in water relieves you of any impact concerns, and for those of you who want the added challenge, learning to hold and control your breath will increase cardio and the ability to focus through physical stress like nothing else.

We agree that running on a treadmill can be incredibly dull and discouraging, that’s why we’re telling you to Crosspit the outdoors. Many challenging obstacle based races such as Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash combine the beautiful elements outside to challenge you endurance, strength, speed, agility, cardio, and just sheer determination. These events take advantage of much of the training done with Crosspit and are a great opportunity to show off your new performance capacity.

Yoga is not just a fad for those seeking enlightenment or extreme flexibility. It’s a great way to raise your heart rate and burn calories while relieving muscle tension and increasing range of motion. That’s two birds with one simple stone. 

One question we receive regularly is how people can monitor how much work they do while completing cardio on their own. A great way to track your in-session pace and work is to use a heart rate monitor. They are much easier and inexpensive to use than ever before and will help you find a quick sense of pace that you can use in your Crosspit workouts and your own cardio sessions. Calories counts down to the minute and weekly results at the tip of your fingers.

One of the biggest myths we’ve busted is the one says training on an empty stomach burns more fat or training on an empty stomach is a short cut to burning fat deposits. STOP! IT IS NOT! This very dangerous and misinformed practiced is based on a very simple assumption that if your stomach is empty your body is forced to use fat as a direct source of fuel. Well it doesn’t and this practice is not only a waste of your time and effort, it’s a serious health risk that can cause short and long term problems. Do yourself a favor and never practice on an empty stomach again. If you want your body to look good and perform great… STOP HURTING YOURSELF.

The endless options available for cardio exercise extend way beyond our discussion but you can see we’ve given you a lot to work with and send you down the road to success. If you’ve got any other favorites you want to share with us feel free to hit us up at Facebook or Twitter and let us know, otherwise we’ll see you back on the training floor...PIT UP!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Cope with Muscle Soreness

You know the feeling too well… The morning after an intense workout you wake up to discover someone put your legs and butt through a shredder while you slept and set your core section on fire. MUSCLE SORENESS strikes again.  You know it’s perfectly normally and can’t be completely avoided but what the heck is making your muscles so sore anyway, RIGHT!? Relax, we’ll break it down for you.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the official name for the aches you feel the day after a workout. Especially if it’s the first day in a new program or after a long layoff.  Soreness sets in 12-24 hours after a workout and peaks 24-48 hours after. Hurts so good, doesn’t it?
High intensity exercise routines and exercises cause micro tears and inflammation in the muscle fibers, which result in soreness, fatigue, stiffness and reduced range of motion. Your body retreats into a state of recovery and is under repair while your mind forms a love/hate relationship with serious training programs.
While there is no proven method to completely prevent soreness after an intense workout, there are many ways to reduce the impact after it sets in.
  • ICE bath
A cold bath after your workout for a minimum of 5-25 minutes can help reduce muscle soreness by up to 20%
  • Active Recovery
A low-impact cardio exercise such as jogging or swimming helps because it forces blood to circulate throughout your body, not only warming the muscles but delivering oxygen and nutrients to increase rate of healing and allowing  you to perform…
  • Gentle Stretching
Stretching after a warm up (see above ) relaxes the muscle and reduces stiffness without over loading the muscles (making them worse).  It also increases basic flexibility as it speeds up the return of full range of motion and prevents cramping. ( You DO NOT want cramping. Repeat, DO NOT.)
As with many physiological changes, your body will adjust to the new workouts and soreness should decrease significantly after future sessions.  The more often you workout the less sore you’ll be as the body continues to get stronger.  The first two workouts are the toughest in term of soreness, after that the body handles the physical demands much better. This is a process scientists refer to as “toughening up.” Not to be confused with over training.
There is actually a benefit to the soreness you feel.  Any activity by the body (in this case the repair of muscle tissue) requires energy so that soreness you feel is your workout still working for you. Calories are burned in the process of rebuilding muscle tissue, and while this seems minimal in one day, over the course of 8 weeks it adds up. Another example of how workouts pay off after they are over and why nutrition is just as important on days off as it is on training days.
It is a proven fact that high intensity training for improvement in a program will cause soreness.  There are several ways to cope that allow you to maximize gains while minimizing pain.  Though soreness may be a nuisance, it’s actually a reminder that your body is hard at work strengthening itself and all the while burning more energy in the process. As always, if your soreness turns into intense pain or persists for more than 5 days check with a doctor as you may have injured yourself. Otherwise smile and be glad you’re sore, you earned it!