Why Does Soreness After A Workout Mean?

If you have worked out, you know the feeling that follows it the next morning. Your alarm goes off, and your whole body is sore. Some people hate it, others see it as a badge of pride, something that they earned and something that is proof they are working out hard. But there are a huge amount of misconceptions about soreness, what causes it, what it does, and how to deal with it. The more informed you are about its causes, the better you will be able to treat it.

What Really Makes You Sore

A common misconception is that lactic acid is solely responsible for muscle soreness. That is actually not true. Muscle soreness is caused by your muscle fibers getting micro-tears that then need to be repaired the next day. It is also caused by the inflammation that follows these micro-tears. One of the reasons that ibuprofen and Tylenol help with the muscle soreness is because they are NSAID’s, or “Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs”, meaning they will go straight to the cause by reducing inflammation.

What Sore Muscles Means for Your Body

After these micro-tears happen, your body will begin to repair them. And when your body repairs them, they come back stronger. That is why soreness is considered important to muscle growth, though the actual pain goes away after a few weeks of working out. Lactic acid is actually important to the overall workout process as well. Lactate will help your body get more oxygen while you are working out, and help you work out longer. When it is present the next day, it is because it is being used by the cells to repair tissue damage.

Soreness Relief Using Massage

When massaging sore areas, the goal is actually not to just simply work out lactic acid either. It is mainly to increase blood flow and oxygen to the areas that need it, and the blood will carry the compounds needed to make your body feel better and any proteins needed for repair. But the idea of massaging your body to displace lactic acid is doing the right thing for the wrong reason. You should still aim to work the muscle all over, but do not apply too much pressure. A foam roller works best for this. A massage will actually help reduce cytokines, which are responsible for inflammation, and stimulate the mitochondria so they begin repairing even faster.

Soreness Relief Using Food

As for food, it is very common to get cramps during soreness. So eat plenty of food with potassium. Bananas are great for this. Free radicals also are responsible for soreness by causing oxidative stress. Plenty of Vitamin-C, which is an antioxidant, can help to reduce pain and recovery time. And of course, protein. If you are looking to lose weight and gain muscle, keep in mind your body still needs protein. And when your body does not have enough protein available from fat stores or recently eaten food, it will have to pull it from muscle tissue to make the repairs. This means undoing some of the gains you have made. So low-fat high-protein food is what you should aim for. Eggs are a great option for this, as well as turkey or any other lean meat.

Rest is Important

A small note, plenty of sleep is needed, as the main repairs are done when you are sleeping. That is why you often wake up sore, even if you weren’t after the workout the night before. All of the inflammation from the repairs will be present by the next morning, such that you feel it fully after sleep. But that is good; it means the repairs are happening. The more you sleep the quicker you will heal.

If you would like more information about post-workout relief, visit the professionals at STR8 Training in San Marcos, TX.

The Best Way To Return To Your Workout Routine

It can happen to anyone. Even people totally dedicated to fitness can have a vacation or even just the summer heat interfere with their workout routine. But it doesn’t have to be hard to get back into the swing of things. A few simple tips can make it a much easier experience.

A Lot Depends on Framing

It’s easy to see a workout as a responsibility that you have to get back into. But you should remember that workouts, while obviously involving a lot of work, are also an opportunity. It’s a rare chance to really focus 100% on your own health. There aren’t many times in the day when you can really make it all about yourself. A workout is a rare time in a day where you really have full permission to just focus on your own life.

It’s partially a time to really focus on improving your body. But it’s also a point in time when you’re allowed to just let your mind wander and consider the various things going on in the day. Basically, this all has to do with framing the experience.

When you have an event which needs to be performed than a lot depends on how you look at it. Framing it in the context of the positive aspects will quickly make it a far more enjoyable experience. Framing it as something you get to do rather than have to do will make it something to look forward to. It’s all a matter of focusing on the positive parts of the workout.

Put Some Work Into Planning

If you let yourself just work out when you feel like it then you can be certain that you’ll probably never feel like it. One of the most important things to remember about a workout is that it takes some time to get back into the habit. A workout can be the most enjoyable part of someone’s day. But to get to that point one needs to get over the initial growing pains. The joy of a fun workout is the reward for sticking with it during the first week or two spent getting used to it again.

It’s important to create a schedule that won’t provide any wiggle room. Everyone will have a different way of going about it. But for many the best way is really working it into a schedule. Tell people that you’ll be there so that it’ll be embarrassing if you’re seen elsewhere. Set an alarm as a reminder. Anything to make it obvious to yourself that it’s something that you’re not allowed to skip. Before you know it the workout will return to being something you don’t want to skip.

Remember That Your Body has Changed During the Vacation

This goes along with needing to force yourself back onto a schedule. An enjoyable workout is the reward for consistently working at it. But a few weeks is all the time it takes for muscle to begin fading away. You won’t be nearly as strong when you return so you shouldn’t immediately try to be. Nor should you be too hard on yourself if your muscle has faded. The new goal will just be working your way up to where you were before and then pushing past it. Again, a lot comes down to framing. Focus on the fact that you’re not starting from scratch and are closer to your goal than the vast majority of people who are starting from scratch.

If you’d like more information about workouts and motivation, visit STR8 Training in San Marcos, TX.

Healthy Snacks For Your Healthy Lifestyle

If you are in college and find it difficult to cook healthy meals all the time, then it’s time to get your pantry stocked up on healthy alternatives that are convenient and easy to grab on the go. That way you can stick to your budget and still eat fairly decent for the majority of the time.

No matter what you like to eat there are plenty of options out there as far as the healthy stuff goes. The good news is that even if you have a tiny fridge you can still have a decent stash on hand for when you get hungry because a lot of your snack options will be non-perishable.

Healthy And Fresh Snacks

If you have a bowl to throw some fruit into, keep it stocked with apple and bananas. They are delicious, affordable, and healthy. They are also great to take on the run between classes. Applesauce is another good choice and if you want a more portable option they sell convenient cup portions at most grocery stores. Just be sure to get the unsweetened kind.

If you are craving something not so sweet, then hummus and carrot sticks are a great way to get in your protein and fiber. Just don’t overdo it on the hummus and try to keep it to about 100-150 calories per serving.

Kale chips are delicious and good for you. Rice cakes are a great choice too. If you want to add some extra protein, add some almond butter.

Greek yogurt is another great way to get your protein in and it comes in many delicious flavors. If you want a more natural version you can add some honey or fruit and top with some granola.

Sprouted wheat bread with almond butter and a banana is about 250 calories. This is a nice twist on the usual peanut butter and jelly version and a lot healthier, too!

Pre-Packaged But Still Healthy Options

Stock up on soups. They last forever and are quick and easy to prepare. Just be sure to look for low sodium options.

Protein bars are a quick meal replacement option and you can throw one in your bag or purse for those days you have completely lost track of time and you are starving because you missed lunch. There are many healthy options that come in many different flavors.

Ginger chews are a great replacement for candy and two pieces are typically only 5g of sugar per serving.

There are many substitutes for potato chips such as veggie chips and chips that have been baked instead of fried, so you can indulge without feeling guilty after.

If you keep your dorm stocked with the healthy stuff you won’t have to eat out as much and you will stay on track with your nutrition. A lot of healthy snacks are portable so you can keep some on hand at all times so you will be prepared when hunger strikes. Just because you are busy doesn’t mean that you have to compromise your diet. Be sure to always pay attention to labels too, as they can provide you plenty of information about what you’re really eating.

If you would like more information about maintaining a nutritious diet, visit STR8 Training in San Marcos, TX.

Tips For Workout Motivation After A Long Day

Everyone experiences that moment after a long day at work or after attending classes. You will feel like all you desire is to go home, get yourself in bed, and watch movies, despite the fact that you had planned to go to the gym after leaving your office or school. Here are the five easy tips to help you get motivated to work out after work or after school.

Set the Bar Low

You can tell yourself you have to get to the gym and work out for just 15 minutes. That way, your chances of going are higher than if you have the mentality of all-or-nothing. If you decide to make your workout goal much easier, it helps you to get to the gym. Once you are at the gym, chances are you could change your mind and decide to stay a little longer. Also, it’s completely possible that you can get fit in a workout that’s effective in only 15 minutes.

Schedule Your Workouts

You can put your workouts on your calendar for the week and treat them like a business meeting. If you do this, you’ll be pondering about them and psychologically prepared for them. That also helps in making working out a priority. If your schedule lacks structure and is unpredictable, this will help you. Ideally, you can try working out the same days and the same time, to make sure that exercising is a habit. Seeing your workouts on your calendar could be extremely helpful.

Leave Things at the Office or School

If the location of your gym is near your school or office, after changing you can leave your work or school stuff and go to work out with your gym bag only. This way you will eliminate the temptation of shunning the gym on your way home; you will not have your stuff with you that you require for the night. You won’t go home, even if you’re tempted. If your gym is not close to school or work, you can do interval training close to your school or office building.

Try Group Fitness

If you join group fitness classes, it can keep you motivated. You’ll be looking forward to seeing the instructor and other participants of the class. The group energy will keep you going during the moments that you feel like quitting. You can do much more when working out in a group than if you are doing it alone; the group spirit definitely helps.

Treat Yourself as a Motivation

You can also try bargaining with yourself. If you are looking forward to that glass of wine or watching a movie after a long day at school or work, you could turn that treat into your workout reward. That will give you motivation whenever you feel like not going to work out.

Following these tips can help you to get motivated and make sure you don’t miss that workout session whenever you feel like you’re tired or not in the mood for going to the gym. If you’re interested in more workout motivation and ideas, visit STR8 Training in San Marcos, TX.

Get in Shape While You Beat the Heat

Enjoy the Outdoors

Summertime is a great time to get in shape. There are so many things that you can do outside that are active and entertaining. You can ride your bike, walk, jog, swim in the lake, climb a mountain, go for a hike, and so much more. Whatever you are into, it is so much more enjoyable when you can do it outside in the nice weather.

Listen to Your Body

Exercising in the summer can come with its own set of challenges such as heat stroke, dehydration, and sunburns. It is important to really listen to your body and make sure that you are properly dressed for the weather and properly hydrated. You don’t ever want to risk getting heatstroke as it is a very dangerous condition. Just be prepared and don’t overdo it. When you sweat, you actually lose electrolytes, salt, and water. When you lose these substances, the balance gets disrupted, and when not properly maintained this can be a problem. Listen to your body and slow down or stop if you feel like you are becoming overheated, lightheaded, or dizzy. Dehydration and heatstroke are strong risk factors for some serious health issues such as kidney failure and in extreme cases, even death. Even so, this can all be avoided if you just stay hydrated, so always be sure to have enough water at hand.

Timing is Everything

Try to avoid the hottest part of the day, by restricting your activities to the mornings and evenings. You will be able to stay active a lot longer if you are not battling the heat. The hottest time of day is normally between 12pm to 4pm, so try to avoid working out in the elements between those times.

It Matters What You Wear

In order to beat the heat, it is best to wear loose and light-colored clothing. Wearing lighter colors helps to reflect the heat rather than absorb it, and a cotton material will help to cooldown the heat your body produces. An even better alternative is using athletic wear designed for hot weather.

Keep Your Skin from Burning

Don’t forget to protect your skin from the hot sun. Always wear sunscreen, even if it is overcast. You don’t want to end up with a nasty sunburn. The whole point of exercising outside its to maintain a healthy lifestyle, not to hurt yourself and possibly elevate your chances of getting skin cancer.

Stay Hydrated!

Make sure that you stay hydrated! Staying hydrated is as simple as drinking a cup or two of water and bring a bottle of water with you. Be sure to stop and take a drink every 15 minutes even if you don’t feel very thirsty. Keep the fluids coming! Be sure to drink a few extra glasses of water when you finish your workout as well. Always be sure to pay attention to how you feel. If needed, take a break, rest and let your body recover.

The Importance Of Staying Hydrated During Your Workout

If you’re seeking improved results from your workout routine, taking care of yourself properly will be at the heart of the matter. There will be few athletic professionals who disagree that staying hydrated is a big part of your workout routine. For anyone who leads an athletic lifestyle, or even for those who are trying to make a big change in their health, you may already see drinking water as a given while you’re partaking in your activity. What you may not realize are that the details behind hydrating yourself extend to all sides of your workout. That’s right, there’s more to staying hydrated than drinking water while you’re exercising. Hopefully this guide will shed a little light on the matter.

Remember to Think Ahead

While sipping an ice cold beverage while you’re working out can feel like a much needed relief, it’s not all that’s needed to become and remain hydrated before, during, and after your workout session. You’ll need to think ahead to stay on top of keeping yourself hydrated. This means drinking plenty of water long before you decide to exercise for thirty minutes to an hour and keeping it up throughout the day. What this doesn’t mean is chugging a liter of water right before you start, since consuming too much water (or any liquid for that matter) directly before going into a physical activity can cause cramping and uncomfortable bloating, which would slow down your exercise and be counterproductive entirely. It’s recommended by plenty of athletic pros that you drink around three liters per day, sipping on it throughout the day at a steady rate.

Proper Hydration During Exercise

Drinking a steady amount throughout the day can definitely set you off on the right foot but what about the proper method during your workout? While the right way to stay hydrated is up for a bit of debate, many athletic individuals will stick with a general rule of equal parts waste and equal parts haste. You can figure this out by weighting yourself before and after exercise, to figure out an estimate of how much water you will need during workout. You can go by this method and drink 16 oz. per pound lost or you can also go by another popular method and consume one cup of water for every fifteen minutes of workout time in low to moderate leveled exercise sessions. There are also workout drinks that have some boosting components that many write off as unnecessary, sugary drinks. For example, plenty of carbohydrate drinks are meant to help replenish your glycogen, which is exactly what your muscles are burning for energy. Electrolyte drinks are also good for replenishment when consumed in moderation.

The Aftermath of Hydration

A lot of people think they should consume a bunch of protein pre-workout but the truth is that it’s even more effective right after you’ve finished an exercise routine. When you add some protein powder to your water after you’re done lifting weights or running, the protein will help with the protein and muscle synthesis that happens post-workout session. Aside from helping with the catabolic state of your muscles, it can also help muscles heal.

If you’re interested in learning more about healthy workouts, contact STR8 Training, located in San Marcos, TX.

Fun Ideas For Active Summer Workouts

Summer is here, and it will be official in a few more weeks. The beginning of summer is a perfect time to start a new workout routine. This article will go over how to take this usually dreaded chore and turn it into a fun experience you look forward to doing every day.

Join a Tennis Team

You can find beginners tennis teams just about everywhere. Take a friend along if you don’t want to go alone. This sport is perfect for someone who wants to get to know other people, and who wants to be out in the beautiful spring and summer weather. You will work many different muscle groups all while having fun. Tennis will tone your arms, shoulders, and back muscles. Your legs will get a workout as well, as you run to serve the ball back over the net, and you can burn up to 500 calories an hour playing tennis.

Go for a Swim

Swimming is an excellent way to exercise many muscle groups and it has the added benefit of not putting a strain on your joints or muscles. You can beat the heat and go to a public pool, lake, even the ocean if you live close enough. Incorporating swimming into your workout routine will work your arms, back, shoulders, abs, and legs all in one easy, fun summer exercise. Swimming will burn up to 450 calories an hour, with an average of 400 calories an hour.

Take Up Cycling

If you have a little extra cash around you can buy the perfect bicycle and start cycling a few days a week. You can cycle on sidewalks, bike lanes, and even trails through your local parks or woods. This exercise will tone and tighten your thighs, hips, and buttocks, along with burning a massive 470 calories per hour.

Start or Maintain a Garden

This activity can work twofold: not only is it exercise, it will also add curb appeal to your home. This activity requires a lot of bending, stretching, and lifting to get your plants in the ground and to keep the beds weeded. This will work and tone your core while adding beauty to your yard. You can burn as much as 350 calories an hour gardening.

Incorporate Healthy Eating

Exercise is a great way to lose weight, but eating a healthy diet in tandem with working out can help you lose the weight faster than just exercise alone. You can start off small by choosing baked or broiled foods over fried foods, and by switching your milk to skim or one percent. Also, when you are working out incorporate more water to stay hydrated longer. Sugary drinks will only serve to dehydrate you faster, add more calories, and leave you feeling lethargic.

A summer workout can be a fun part of your routine. If you don’t like working out alone, ask a friend to work out with you or join a sport to meet new people. Incorporating healthy eating is a vital part of any workout routine to help you lose the weight faster and keep it off so you look the best you can all summer long.

If you’re interested in more information about workout routines and ideas, visit STR8 Training in San Marcos, TX.

Workout Supplement Options To Consider

Humans, for better or for worse, always want to be the best at whatever we do. And when it comes to building muscle and gaining strength, there are so many options and techniques that can be used, it can get complicated. Obviously everyone knows that they need to choose the best lifts for targeting the intended muscle groups, that a proper diet is key to the process as a whole, the different workout plans to use those lifts, and that sleep is key to muscle growth, but few take full advantage of the various supplements available to them. While it is true that protein powder and various pre-workout supplements are taken by a fair amount of the population, very few know the differences between the kinds of protein supplements, the different types of workout supplements available to them, or how to actually best use them.

Creatine

Creatine is one that has some coverage, but can actually be of huge help to quite a number of people. Creatine is best taken roughly 30-45 minutes before the workout for best effect. Creatine is mainly used, for a basic summary, to increase athletic endurance. Creatine is actually the same chemical that is in red meat and in our muscles, and is something that our body needs to turn ATP (ATP is essentially stored energy within your body) into actual usable energy. So essentially creatine’s scientific mechanism is that it allows the amount of usable ATP to increase.

The creatine will become extra effective once you have hit that first wall, and your body and muscles are beginning to slow. Creatine can help you push past that and increases your endurance and strength, resulting in muscle gains. Creatine should be drank with a healthy amount of water so the liver can properly metabolize it, an over time it will begin to cause you to gain water weight. This should be kept in mind when checking the scale after taking any.

Caffeine

Low doses of caffeine are also helpful. This obviously, as a stimulant, will increase your energy levels and allow you to get a better workout in. But users need to keep in mind that this is not something to be done without taking the proper precautions. Low doses of caffeine are best, as it is not wise to push your body past its normal limit. This is especially important to be heed because your heart rate could increase to a dangerous level if it is not monitored.

If you have access to caffeine pills, they are normally 200mg. You want to stick with around 60mg for the safest dose, and anyone with heart problems probably should not be going near supplements without talking to a doctor first. A soda is roughly 30mg, a coffee is 180mg, a Red Bull is 80mg, and black tea is 60mg. So either take a third of a caffeine pill, drink some tea, or have a half cup of coffee prior to the workout for the best aid to your routine.

For more information on workout supplements, visit STR8 Training in San Marcos, TX.

Core Workouts to Consider for Your Routine

In a previous installment of our ongoing series on bodyweight fitness, we went over upper body exercises. This article was written for the same reason as the rest of this series, because one does not always have access to a gym or gym equipment, for those who travel or spend the night out often, for those just starting back into fitness, or looking for exercises to do on off-days and need to supplement their workouts. But today we are going over core routines specifically, and it just so happens that core exercises tend to mainly consist of workout routines that do not need equipment, weights, or benches to begin with.

The first exercises that we are going to go over are the exercises that focus on your obliques, the part of your abs that are on the side of your stomach. There are several ways to target this using weights, but for our purposes we are going to be going over a few types of sideways planks, stationary, moving sideways planks (45 degree angle), and dipping sideways planks (laying down on side). These are very important if you truly want to have muscle that is actually practical and a body that is not missing huge portions of muscle groups.

Sideways Plank

The first exercise that you will want to start with is the stationary sideways planks. Sit down on the ground and lay down, with one side of your hips touching the floor, your elbow touching the ground, and your arm forming an L facing outwards away from your body, and your feet extended all the way down but only one touching the ground, essentially forming a plank but on your side. You are going to be measuring how you do in this exercise not by how many reps, but by seconds. To start lift your hips off the ground so that only your elbow and the sides of your feet are touching the floor. Start with 30 seconds to a minute of holding position, keeping your back straight during, and once you set your goal, don’t stop until you reach that time. Remember to keep in mind that nothing bad will happen to you(unless you are in pain unrelated to exhaustion) and you should push through the fatigue. As well after you have done this, flip over to the other side so that you’re facing the other direction and balancing on your other elbow. Repeat on each side three to four times and then move on to the other kind of planks.

Sideways Plank Dips

The second exercise is essentially sideways plank dips, which are going to be the same position but start in the up position and after holding for a second, slowly lower your sides. Repeat by going back up for five seconds, slowly going down and then going back up. It is recommended you do this between 10 to 20 times in at least three sets. A variation using weights would require a 45 degree angle, finding out your hip, and essentially holding the weight in the side of your body that your hip is touching and using your core touching the weight to the ground and dragging it back up.

Target Core Planks

For the core of your abs it is also recommended that you do planks but this time both elbows touching the ground with you looking straight down. Once again do this for 30 seconds to a minute you can increase to however much time you can handle and do 3 or 4 sets. The next step is to find some type of pull-up bar, a common replacement is a swing set support beam, and form a 45 degree angle with your elbows lifting yourself up and supporting yourself with your legs straight down, then do 10 sets of lifting your knees to your elbows while keeping your elbow straight and your core flat and you will be targeting your triceps as well as your core.

Sit Ups

The next exercise you’ll be wanting to do to target your core is of course sit ups, though as these are extremely common we will not be going over them in great detail. A good variation is to hold 5 to 10 pounds behind your head and then do the stretch. And one other way to mix it up and target your lower abs is to put yourself at a downward 45 degree facing angle, putting weights behind your head and doing 10 to 20 sets with the time increasing week by week starting at 30 seconds and increasing from there.

Sprint Based Exercises to Enhance Your Routine

Our series on high-intensity sprinting and the benefits, exercises, workouts, warm-ups, and precautions associated with it continues here. The previous article covers specific ways that sprinting is better than jogging, how to avoid hurting yourself, and in general prepares sprinters for this list of exercises.

40 Meter Dash

Sprint 4 Sets at 95% effort. You will want to wait 1 ½ – 2 minutes between each set, and give yourself a minute of walking and 3-4 minutes of rest after completing all of them to begin another exercise.

Incline Dash

Run up a hill at 90% effort that is at an incline, or in a pinch a set of stairs, and then jog back down. For stairs, go less intensive to avoid accidents. Do this for at least 3-5 times each set, depending on height, for 3 sets. Unlike the other exercises, this targets your calves specifically.

Decline Dash

Sprint down a long hill at full intensity, then walk back up. When sprinting downwards, the muscles you use include a lot of balancing muscles, and causes you to use otherwise underutilized all but needed muscle groups. Running on a decline is also a great way to build up the strength of your splints. This usage may cause some discomfort at first, but eventually that productive pain and fatigue will become practical strength and lead to eventually shin splints becoming a thing of the past.

Endurance High-Intensity

100 Meter Dash

You will be doing this after the sprints, as either a cooldown or a push of your endurance and fast-twitch muscle fibers (responsible for bursts of energy). Either 100% effort for 4 sets, or 3-4 sets of long, easy strides if it is your last one and thus the cooldown round.

400 Meter Dash

Same thing as the 100 meter, only with this exercise you will only be doing 1 set. This set will either be at 90% or at a cooldown pace. Both of these are great for really encouraging muscle growth.

Non-Running Alternatives

HIIT Biking

30 seconds at 100% effort, 60 seconds at 50% effort, repeat four times for warm up. 45 second sprint plus 4:20 seconds slow, reducing sprint time by 5 seconds and increasing slow time by 5 seconds, until you are down to 15 seconds of sprinting. Since biking is different than running, because biking requires constant movement, rather than starting and stopping, you will take breaks between sets a different way.

Tabata Set (Workout Plan)

This one utilizes your entire body, and makes use of a lot of stationary movements. But just because you aren’t actually running during this doesn’t mean that it isn’t helpful. This plan will help you gear up for the sprints, and improve cardio and strength just like high intensity sprinting does. You will want a clock or stopwatch for this. You will be working out for 20 seconds, resting for 10, then starting again. This is done 8 times, so basically 4 minutes allocated for each “set.”

  • Push-ups (4 minutes at 100% effort) – Rest for 1 minute afterwards
  • Bodyweight Squats (4 minutes at 100% effort) – Rest for 1 minute afterwards
  • Burpees (4 minutes. at 100% effort) 1 minute rest afterwards
  • Mountain Climbers (4 minutes at 100% effort) 1 minute rest afterwards

These exercises are some of the best as a replacement to jogging after a lift, as often you are only doing 3-4 exercises at once. Even though they are full effort, they replace the negative effects of cardio and build upon the muscle gained from the gym.

For more information on sprint-based exercises visit STR8 Training in San Marcos, TX.

Sprint-Based Warm Ups and Routines

We have previously covered some of the benefits of sprinting. Today we will be covering some sprint-based exercises that you can incorporate into your existing workout plans, and general workout plans that revolve around sprinting.

Regardless of if you are doing a few sets or an entire workout plan, remember that you need to warm up! There is not only one way to warm-up, but there are of course several that can be recommended. Slow cardio is a great option. That includes jump roping, slow-jogging, slowly swimming, walking, and any other cardio activities that can be eased into. Anything for 4-5 minutes is enough time to get into a prepared state. You can supplement this with stretches.

Next, you will want to get into some light muscle-specific exercises if you really want to ready your muscles and hone your reaction time. Target your thighs, your calves, and your hamstrings with specific movements. Exercises that focus on several areas at once are also helpful. For example lunges, body squats, calf raises, skips, jumping jacks, and leg kicks are all great for this.

There are multiple exercises that can be added standalone into an already standing workout regimen, though you may start with one it is easier to add in extra running workouts. Once you are prepared for sprints and warmed up, you can add in more “sets” or other exercises. We will be going over some general exercises below, but there is a way to use them when building a plan.

You should aim to use one or two short distance sprints several times, then a medium-high intensity, longer-distance exercise, punctuated by a medium distance at full effort. After you have done this, you can walk for several minutes, or jog if you choose, to cool down, which is very important. This is just a preview of the many options, but it is important to make sure you are exercising properly.

  • 40 Meter Dash – Sprint 4 Sets at maximum effort. You will want to wait 1 ½ – 2 minutes between each set, and give yourself a minute of walking and 3-4 minutes of rest after completing all of them before beginning another exercise.

This represent the exercise done at full intensity, and traditional regimens (as mentioned above) have a general structure and outline that they normally follow. A high-intensity exercise or two is followed by cooldown periods in between each set followed by longer ones during each exercise. During these you can walk for some of the time and rest the remainder. But if you can, remaining moving will make sure you remain limber and stay motivated physically. This can be followed by a longer-distance lower-intensity set, then a high-intensity exercise that is more a middle ground, mainly used for building up endurance. By running 40 meters 3 times, then 400 meters once, then ending with 100 meters full intensity, you allow yourself to give 100% when you need to and get a good workout the entire time.

Unique Health Benefits of Sprinting

There are many people, some even hardcore fitness buffs, that fully believe the speed you run does not correlate to the muscle or health benefits that are gained. But there a lot of real benefits to sprinting as opposed to jogging when you’re running. This also applies to bike “sprints” and swim sprints. Though there are a lot of ways that sprints can seriously help your health, that isn’t to say that jogging or long-distance runs are bad, just that sprinting offers more immediate benefits. In fact, when reading this list, remember that some kind of exercise is better than not exercising at all.

Unlike many forms of cardio, sprints and fast-paced workouts actually encourage muscle growth. Jogging long-distance, in fact, tends to slow down muscle growth, which we will cover more below. But sprinting actually causes muscles to grow, in the same way that low-volume high-weight squats and deadlifts do. There’s a lot that goes into it, but a large part is activation of fast-twitch versus slow-twitch muscles. Things like high intensity interval training (HIIT is a sprint-oriented workout-type) and heavy lifting activate your fast-twitch muscles, which are very good at quick bursts of speed and providing power to movements. Slow-twitch muscles are the counterpart, and they are great at providing energy for endurance activities, and will provide the boost needed to sustain a decent speed over long amounts of distance and time. If you are trying to gain muscle and raw lifting power, you will need to focus on fast-twitch fibers.

There are two kinds of fast-twitch, type IIb/IIx (fast-twitch) and type IIa (moderate fast-twitch). Your body relies on slow-twitch muscles for walking or slow-jogging, and when you push harder than they can handle you begin to rely on your moderate fast-twitch and fast-twitch muscles (in that order) to make up the difference. This is why high-intensity workouts are important if you are looking to build muscle while running, increase your running speed, and still burn some calories.

Dangers of relying on long-distance alone include its aforementioned use of only slow-twitch muscle fibers, when fast-twitch is needed for muscle growth, but other reasons as well. Once again, it is better to jog than be completely inactive, but it is often used best as a tool in a fitness toolbox.

Running tends to burn a large number of calories, which is a double-edged sword. It may help if you need to lose a large amount of weight (while also depleting joint strength), which you will need to replace to avoid losing out on gains from the gym. When your body is hungry and lacks protein, it will begin to synthesize the proteins in your muscles to fuel the repair. But once you get into upper levels of long-distance workouts, you may find depleted motivation from running fueling overeating. Essentially: Monitor your weight. Cortisol levels may also rise from running, harming your immune system. Counter this with Vitamin C if possible.

For more information on the benefits of sprinting contact STR8 Training located in San Marcos, TX.

Meal Prepping Made Easy

It is no doubt that your life is busier than ever right now! Leading a busy life can make it hard to eat healthy. It is a lot easier to grab a quick pop tart, drive through a fast food restaurant or make a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner. That is why preparing your meals in advance is very beneficial! Whether you are trying to eat healthier, save some time or lose weight, meal planning will make sure that you reach those goals!

What exactly is meal prepping?

Put simply, meal prepping is just preparing some or even all of your meals a few days or weeks ahead of time. Think of it like having those easy, microwavable TV dinners, but so much healthier and better for you! The whole idea about meal prepping is that if you have your healthy meals ready to go, you will just go ahead and choose them over highly processed, unhealthy foods!

That all sounds great, right? So how exactly do you get started?

When you are just a beginner with anything it is really easy to get overwhelmed! So it is very important to not let this overwhelm you! For starters, make sure you aren’t trying to incorporate a lot of new things all at once. Start your meal prepping with recipes you are already familiar with and then the more comfortable you become, the more new recipes you can try.

1. Pick what day you want to start:

You should first pick a day to do your meal prepping on. Sunday tends to be the best day of the week for most because typically everyone is home for the day and you can get your family to help you out! If you would like to split it up into two different days, Sundays and Wednesdays tend to work out really well.

2. Pick the meals:

Start out by deciding if you are going to start with breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dinner meals tend to be the meal that you would receive the most out of your efforts, especially if you have a family! Once you’ve decided which meal to start with then the fun part starts! It is time to plan which recipes you would like to make!

3. Use proper containers:

Don’t just throw all of your prepared meals into tupperware bowls. When you do this you will just have one large pile of mush. That may not look appetizing when it comes time to eat! If you are preparing lunch, you can get specially designed containers that have separate spots for multiple lunch items such as your meats, rice, fruit and veggies.

If you are planning on freezing the dinners that you prepare, make sure that your containers are freezer safe! There is nothing like some freezer burn to ruin your perfectly good, healthy dinner!

Make sure you start off with just a few meals and as you grow comfortable you can add more and more! Hopefully this has helped you get started with your meal prepping to help make your lives even just a little bit easier! Enjoy your healthy, convenient meals!

Body Weight Exercises for Off-Days and Travelling

There are multiple workout routines one can do without any gym equipment at all. These can be broken down into several general types of workouts. Cardio was covered in a previous article, but today we will be going over upper body, lower body and core muscle building routines, gym warm-ups, yoga positions, and endurance workouts.

There are several upper body workouts one can do without any lifting equipment, which will center around high volume high intensity exercises to target muscle and strength growth. The reality is is that when it comes to stationary exercises, you will have the most luck focusing on upper body workouts. Obviously this will include push-ups, but there are different variations on even the traditional push up that will allow you to target different areas of your pecs and focus more(or less) on the triceps, which are the supporting muscles used. The way in which you vary the muscles that you target is by spreading your hands either closer or farther apart from the middle. The traditional push-up will have you put in your hands slightly outside but almost level with your shoulders. To target the outside of your pecs you will want to widen your hands, and to target the inner pecs one will want to do the opposite which is of course putting them closer together. To target the upper or lower pecs, doing push ups at an upwards facing incline works your lower pecs and doing them facing down an incline will gets your upper pecs, which seems counter-intuitive but is actually the muscle groups being hit.

For a good tricep-specific workout there are several variations of dips that one can do. A good technique for dips begins with sitting near the edge of a bathtub with your back against the bathtub. Next, put your hands behind you on the edge of the bathtub while still facing forward, and essentially pushing-up and going back down to where you are almost touching the floor but not quite. This will target your triceps very effectively. Another dip exercise is to utilize two high equivalently leveled set up next to each other, after making sure that putting your weight in the middle of them and lowering and raising yourself up again using your arms will not cause it to tip over. Any two objects will do, but chairs can be made the perfect length apart, but only if they’re supported. Buying a pull-up bar is to be considered as well, as putting your hands facing towards you will allow you to pull yourself up in a way that targets your biceps, shoulders and upper back. But if you have none, a swing set beam or other similar structures will do. Pull-ups are amazing at targeting everything, even the core. If you have access to 10 to 20 pounds overhead presses are a great way to target shoulders with overhead press, biceps by doing curls and more of course. Though this article is about no equipment but your body workouts, a minimalist set can help provide light workouts on off-days, but ultimately you will need Olympic bars, weights, some machines, etc to truly exhaust your muscles and see real growth.

Three Super Foods for Healthy Eating

Many diets focus on counting calories and limiting fat and salt in your food. While the emphasis is on what you shouldn’t eat and on limiting quantity that you eat, getting proper nutrition from food is also important.

Try adding the following three super foods to your diet for the nutritional push that it takes to be healthier in body, other than just avoiding those foods that are thought to harm you.

Chia Seeds

Long a staple in Mayan and Meso-American cultures, Chia seeds pack a nutritional punch that results in them being labelled a true super food. Chia seeds are packed with fiber, to the extent that two or three spoonfuls of the seeds will get you close to 50% of your daily recommended level. Fiber is essential for proper bowel and intestinal functioning, and is one of the key factors to a healthy lifestyle. Chia seeds also have significant amounts of protein, iron, calcium, and micro-nutrients which add to their overall health level. Ignore the high fat content on the bags (it’s the good fat anyway) and don’t worry about the calories.

Chia seeds are a super food you should be eating daily. Eat a tablespoon or two raw, or add them to salad dressings, yogurts, or shakes, and enjoy the benefits of this super food without even having to taste it (it’s slightly bland and a bit gelatinous in texture).

Berries

While most fruits are healthy additions to your diet, berries are a true super food. Low in calories and sugar, most berries are high in vitamin C, contain significant amounts of fiber, and are packed with antioxidants. The unique cell structure of berries makes them taste sweeter than they are, though they have a low sugar content. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries are the healthiest of the berry options.

This combination makes them a great addition to any diet and they are quite simply delicious and can be eaten raw, with any number of dishes, or packed into shakes. Avoid cooking berries though, as the nutritional content of them disappears when they are cooked.

Kale and Swiss Chard

Kale and Swiss chard have lately become popular foods and acknowledged for their strong contributions to your overall health. Leafy greens should make up a significant component of your overall diet and are packed with vitamins (C and A) and have significant amounts of fiber and antioxidants to boot.

Swiss chard is closely related to beets, but does not form the bulbous root that beets do. Kale is closely related to broccoli and cabbage. Still, the nutrition levels are the same. Kale and Swiss chard are spinach-like in nutrition and are affordable and tasty additions to your diet. They can be quickly sautéed with garlic and oil, or for a lower calorie alternative, steamed. Kale is commonly mixed with some olive oil and made into kale chips which can replace potato chips and other unhealthy alternatives in your diet.

Adding these super foods to your diet can add nutrition to your diet, which in turn can help to craft a healthier you. Look beyond calories and fat grams and find foods such as the aforementioned in order to grow into a healthier person overall. If you need further instruction or motivation come see our trainers at STR8 Training in San Marcos, TX.