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Get a Better Workout by Incorporating Crossfit Basics

1 Apr

Crossfit is all about functional movements that challenge multiple muscle systems to improve overall fitness, so it is a great way to get in shape. Joining an actual Crossfit gym, however, can be very pricey. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to join an official Crossfit gym (or commit to the Crossfit lifestyle) to incorporate some of these exercises into your workout. Here are some Crossfit staples that you can do at your gym (or even at home with a few pieces of inexpensive equipment):

1. TABATA

TABATA is a version of high intensity interval training regularly used in Crossfit because of its ability to improve both cardio and strength training simultaneously. TABATA can be employed with any exercise (squats, running, push ups, etc) since it is a method of interval training. TABATA involves 8 cycles of 20 seconds at 100% effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest (for a total of 4 minutes of work). All you need is a stop watch to start incorporating TABATA training into your normal workouts!

2. Burpee

I will admit that burpees are pretty much the bane of my workout existence, but man are they effective. Burpees are basically a full body workout in one move (and the best part is it requires no equipment, so you can do this move anywhere). You start by standing, then drop down into a pushup position, touch your chest to the ground, then pop back up into a standing position and jump into the air (the movement should be completed in one fluid motion, no breaks between steps!). Burpees can easily be incorporated into your normal workout (and trust me you’ll feel them afterward). For an extra challenge try a round of TABATA burpees.

3. Box Jump

The box jump is another easy, yet effective, Crossfit move (if you can jump you can do it). All you need is a box (or another level, steady surface). A good height for women is about 20 inches (24 inches for men), but if you feel like you got the ups, feel free to challenge yourself. Once you have your box set up, you simply stand with both feet together, swing your arms, and jump up onto the box (make sure you stand up straight on top of the box for a complete rep). It may seem simple, but trust me you’ll be feeling the burn after a couple sets. Try completing 10 box jumps every minute on the minute (or EMOM in Crossfit lingo) for 8 minutes for a great box jump workout.

make sure to stand up completely on top of the box!

4. Wall Ball

The wall ball combines both leg and shoulder work for a multiple muscle system workout. The only equipment you need to complete a wall ball is a medicine ball and a sturdy wall you feel comfortable bouncing a ball off of. The weight of your medicine ball will depend on your level of fitness (I started with a 10 lb. ball and now regularly use 14 to 20 lbs. depending on the number of reps I will complete). To complete a wall ball, hold the medicine ball in both hands, complete a squat, and at the top of the squat throw the ball as high as you can against the wall. You then catch the ball as it comes down and as you catch the ball complete another squat (this should be one fluid movement). The throwing and catching combined with the squat movement constitutes one rep. Try completing 21, 15, and 9 reps with rest in between each set for a great wall ball workout.

 

5. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings target your legs, abs, and arms, while also producing a great cardio workout. An actual kettlebell is the easiest equipment to use, but a dumbbell can also be used to complete this exercise. Again, the weight of the kettlebell (or dumbbell) will depend on your level of fitness (15 lbs is a good place to start, I regularly use 26 lbs). The motion begins by holding the kettlebell with both hands, you then swing the kettlebell between your knees (at the bottom of this motion you should be in a full squat position), then swing the kettle bell up to eye level (or above). A full swing from bottom to top is one rep (again one fluid motion). Make sure to keep your head up and squat down, rather than bending your back, while completing the motion to avoid injury. Try completing 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 reps with rest in between sets for a good kettlebell set as an addition to your workout.

Hopefully these exercises help add some variety into your workout (and help you reach your workout goals). What are some of your favorite full body workouts? Have you tried incorporating Crossfit moves into your normal workouts?

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Female Fitness: Why You Aren’t Getting Results

20 Mar

check out that bod

Until six months ago I was the epitome of lazy, uninspired, and unhappy when it came to working out (couch potato would be an understatement). I just couldn’t find a workout that motivated me to get to the gym on a regular basis (and I hate…let me repeat HATE running, so outside wasn’t a better option). When I did go to the gym, I found myself bouncing up and down on the elliptical, which was not only mind numbing but ineffective. And not seeing results is the best way for me to opt out of a workout and in to a piece of cheesecake (old habits die hard).

Then my brother introduced me to Crossfit (hallelujah, I’ve seen the light). Crossfit is a strength and conditioning program that touts itself as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement.” So I traded in my elliptical for WODs (Workout of the Day) and never looked back. Not only did I start seeing results, but the variety of exercises keeps me excited to hit the gym six months later.

So if you’re working out and not getting results, these might be some reasons why:

1. You’re Unmotivated

If you hate your workout, you are probably spending less time in the gym and more time sitting on the couch catching up on your soaps. Exercising should be enjoyable (I swear, it’s possible). So, if you have a get in, get out outlook on going to the gym, chances are you haven’t found the right workout yet. Also, it helps to have support, so find a workout buddy (who will drag your ass out of bed) or a gym with friendly members and staff (gym friends are good friends).

2. You’re Afraid of Strength Training

This is one of the biggest mistakes women make. They think that if they start lifting weights they will look like Arnold in his prime. Unless someone is slipping you steroids, this won’t happen, women just don’t have the testosterone to bulk up like that. On the positive side, building muscle helps burn more calories throughout the day, while also making your body look leaner. Personally, I’d rather look skinnier (and be healthier) and weigh a little more. So next time you see a weight rack, embrace it (or at least stop running in the other direction).

3. You’re not Eating Right

This one is my achilles heel. I have a problem saying no to anything with chocolate involved (like seriously chocoholics anonymous needs to be a thing). I love being able to rationalize my second serving of dessert by saying, “Hey, I worked out today.” Trust me, this is the wrong way to think (I would be much closer to my goal if I would swap out french fries for salads). Instead, change your thinking to “I don’t want to waste my workout by eating junk” (hey, if you try, I’ll try).

So if you haven’t found your workout groove yet, keep trying! If you are interested in Crossfit check out http://www.crossfit.com or check back for more of my fitness related posts.

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