Friday Favorites April 7 2017

Being done finals // I’m done all my finals! It feels so good to have all that studying and stress behind me. I’m now looking forward to a few weeks off from school before I start my very last semester in May. It’s hard to believe that almost two years has flown by and I’m almost done my diploma. It’s just a matter of months before I’m done school for good!

 Sweet Relief Cookie

Raspberry cookie // There’s an amazing bakery, Sweet Relief, not far from where my boyfriend lives downtown. They have delicious cupcakes, cookies, and cakes. Since I was downtown last week for Social Media Breakfast, I decided to go by to get my favorite flavor of cookie. Apparently I got there just in time because there was only one left. It was just as delicious as I remembered.

ZIN membership // For those of you who have been around for awhile, you’ll remember that I got licensed to teach Zumba almost a year ago (check out my post about it here). Since that license is only good for a year, I had a decision to make: either take the Basic Steps class again or join the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN). Well I’m excited to say that I’ve decided to join ZIN! I figured the investment was worth it since once I’m done school I would like to teach group fitness as well as do personal training.

Fiasco Gelato

Chocolate Easter egg gelato // Fiasco Gelato is a local company that makes delicious gelato. When I found out that their seasonal flavors this spring included a chocolate gelato with Mini Eggs in it, I knew I had to try it. While it took me a few weeks to find it (a couple stores didn’t carry their seasonal flavors, and another store was sold out of the Easter egg flavor), I finally found it and it was definitely worth the wait. It was so good! Fiasco tweeted today that most stores are sold out of their seasonal flavors already, so I’d suggest going out sooner rather than later if you want to pick a pint up.

Make It Show // This morning I’m heading over to the Stampede grounds for the Make It Show. It’s going to be featuring vendors and artists who are local to Calgary. I went to a similar event back in September with a friend and it was a lot of fun. I love seeing how creative people are (and wishing I was that creative too) and being able to pick up some handmade gifts.

Leave a comment below with one of your favorites from the last week. 

April 2017 Goals

I hope you all had a great weekend. Most of mine was spent studying because I have three finals this week. I’m looking forward to Thursday when I write my last one and I then have a few weeks off before the next semester starts. Today I’ll be sharing my April 2017 goals with you.

 April 2017 Goals

Before I dive into my goals for April, I thought I should recap how my March goals went.

Yoga once a week // I did yoga a few times on my own in March, but it definitely wasn’t once a week. I know it’ll be easier to do once I’m more consistent with it, but it’s getting to that point that’s tough.

Study for my NASM certification // I did manage to get some studying done, though it wasn’t as much as I would have liked.

Plan for the future // I spent quite a bit of time working on this in March. I presented my business idea to some business students and got some great feedback from them. I also started working on budgets and a business plan. I’d love to start my own business once I’m done school, so I’ve been working on how to make that a reality.

And now onto my April goals.

Consistent morning workouts // With the end of the semester, trying to complete internship hours, and working, my normal morning workouts weren’t as consistent as I would have liked them to be during March.

Incorporate more flexibility into my workouts // With my yoga last month, I realized how inflexible I’ve become. When I was doing yoga regularly my notoriously tight left hip wasn’t as tight and it didn’t bother me. My hamstrings didn’t protest when I did a forward fold. My shoulders didn’t hunch forward like they do now. So I’ve decided to add flexibility work into my workouts for April. I know that flexibility is important to overall fitness, so I shouldn’t neglect it anymore.

What’s one of your goals for April? 

The 4 Different Kinds of Strength Training

Is anyone else glad that it’s Friday? Classes officially ended yesterday for the end of semester (woohoo!), so I’m off to Social Media Breakfast this morning. It’s always fun to attend these – I meet all kinds of cool people and the speakers are great. It’s been a few months since I’ve been able to go, so I’m looking forward to it even more than usual. Most of my time this weekend will be spent studying because I have three finals next week. I’m so close to being done for the semester, I just have work hard a little longer.

For today’s post I thought I’d share a bit about the different kinds of strength training. If you’re new to fitness or haven’t done a lot of strength training before it can be overwhelming to try to figure it out. Add in the questionable fitness information on the internet, and it’s tough to separate fact from bro science. I’ll be writing about the four types of strength training: muscular endurance, hypertrophy, strength, and power. Your goals will dictate what kind of strength training you’ll do and the appropriate training variables for that specific type.

he 4 Different Kinds of Strength Training

Acute Training Variables // Strength training workouts are based on acute training variables. They’re manipulated based on what you want to achieve. If you have a good trainer, they’ll have factored all seven of them into the workouts that they create for you. I won’t go into detail about all of them (that’s a whole other post), but I’ll list them here to give you an idea of what they are:

  • Choice of exercise
  • Order of exercises
  • Number of sets
  • Number of reps
  • Tempo of exercises
  • Rest periods
  • Load

Muscular Endurance // This is probably the least popular kind of strength training, though I’d recommend it as the place to start for people who are new to lifting. As the name implies, you’re lifting relatively less weight, but more times (hence endurance). The reps are relatively high, sets are low, as is the rest between sets (max of 30 seconds). As mentioned, you’re lifting relatively smaller loads than in the other kinds of strength training.

The reason I recommend endurance for beginners is because the loads are low. You can focus more on getting proper form (and preventing injury) while also getting in a great workout. When it comes to lifting higher weights, you want to make sure your form is spot on or else you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of hurting yourself.

Hypertrophy // Hypertrophy is a fancy word for increasing the size of skeletal muscle. If your goal is to get bigger muscles with more definition, hypertrophy is what you want to work on. The number of reps are medium and the sets are relatively high. Rest periods are medium, somewhere between muscular endurance and strength/power. In terms of load you’re lifting somewhere between 67% and 85% of your 1 rep maximum for each exercise.

Strength // This kind of strength training is all about getting stronger, as the name implies. Reps are less than or equal to six. The sets are relatively high. To get that strength you’re lifting a lot more weight than you are with any other kind of lifting. As a result, the rest periods for strength are pretty long – up to five minutes between sets.

Power // The last type of strength training is power. When I was first learning about these this one took me the longest to wrap my head around. I couldn’t figure out the difference between power and strength. Whether it’s a single (competition) or multi event (workout), your variables for reps, sets, and load will change. For single events you’re lifting fewer times but with a heavier load, and for multi events you’re lifting a slightly lighter load more times. Because this type of strength training is so taxing on your nervous system like strength is, you have to give your body more time to recover – up to five minutes before moving onto your next set.

Do you strength train regularly? What kind of lifting are you doing right now? 

High Intensity Interval Training 101

It’s Wednesday already! This week is flying by. I’m pretty happy that’s the case because it’s my last week of classes. This semester as flown by, it’s hard to believe that finals are next week already. It’ll be very nice to have a few weeks off before spring semester classes begin.

Today I thought I’d share a bit about high intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT. I’m sure you’ve heard about it, as it’s really popular in the fitness world right now. You can find classes at gyms that focus just on HIIT. There are even fitness chains built on the idea of HIIT workouts.

 High Intensity Interval Training 101

What is HIIT // In short, HIIT workouts involve periods of exercising as hard as you can with active recovery. Before you get worried, the periods of hard work are short. We’re talking as short as 20 seconds and as long as 45 seconds. Just as the work period can vary, so can the rest period. Here are some examples:

  • 20 seconds of work; 10 seconds of rest
  • 30 seconds of work; 30 seconds of rest
  • 40 seconds of work; 20 seconds of rest
  • 45 seconds of work; 15 seconds of rest

Tabatas are a specific kind of HIIT workout. They’re only 4 minutes long and the intervals are 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest (8 rounds). They’re named tabatas after the creator, a Japanese professor who worked with speed skaters.

Length of HIIT workouts // If you’re short on time, HIIT workouts are perfect. They’re usually short – under 30 minutes. Because you’re working at a higher intensity than you usually would with other workouts, it doesn’t have to be as long. You get the same benefits of working out as a longer workout but in less time.

Who are HIIT workouts for? // HIIT workouts ban be pretty tough, so you do need a basic level of fitness before giving them a try. I wouldn’t recommend them for beginners. Because you’re going for so hard at a high intensity, you’re more likely to get fatigued. When this happens you’re more at risk of injuries. Having a higher fitness level helps to keep injuries at bay during HIIT workouts.

HIIT workouts // Interested in trying out a HIIT workout? Here are some to test out:

Lower body HIIT workout

Full body workout

HIIT scorcher from The Fitnessista

Full body at home HIIT workout from Life in Leggings

20 minute at home HIIT workout from Pumps and Iron

5 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

Today’s post was inspired by some of the myths I’ve seen around the internet surrounding why women shouldn’t lift weights. There’s so much misinformation that isn’t based on science. It’s maddening sometimes. I thought I’d write a post about 5 reasons women should lift weights. Obviously there’s more than 5 reasons, and those reasons vary for each individual, but I thought I’d share the big ones for me.

 5 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

Being stronger makes a difference in activities of daily lifting // Having that strength when you need it really come in handy. Activities of daily living are non-fitness related things that you do everyday. Whether it’s rearranging furniture, carrying groceries into the house, or picking up a toddler,  having that strength there when you need it makes a huge difference. You’ll notice that things will become easier to do.

It gives you confidence // Lifting heavy things gives you confidence. It makes you realize you’re able to do things that might seem big and scary. Going for my deadlift PR was definitely intimidating, but when I did it, I felt so good about myself. Especially when it comes to getting new PR’s, it gives you a tangible way of seeing all your workouts pay off. I was surprised at how much confidence I got from lifting. It was totally unexpected.

It WILL NOT make you bulky // There’s a persisting myth that if women lift heavy they’ll get bulky. That is absolutely not the case. Women just don’t have high enough levels of testosterone for their muscles to get that big. It’s just not physiologically possible. Of course there are people who will use unhealthy means (steroids) to get a particular look, but for the most part it’s not something that you should worry about. A fear of becoming too bulky shouldn’t stop you from getting into the squat rack.

Stress relief // A big part of lifting for me is blowing off steam. When I step into the squat rack all I’m focused on is the lift I’m doing. I’m not stressing about the big paper I have to finish or the event I have to do public speaking at. I’m one of those people who carries tension in my chest, shoulders, and neck. It’s nearly impossible for those areas to be tight and have good lifting form. By the time I’m done, those areas are usually feeling pretty good. The post-workout endorphin rush feels pretty good too.

The squat rack isn’t as intimidating as it looks // The squat rack can be a pretty intimidating thing if you’ve never been in one before. I know it was for me. Luckily once you’ve used it a few times it loses it’s intimidation factor. Ask a staff member at your gym to show you how to set up the squat rack. Have a friend who lifts? Workout together and get them to show you the basics. Or sign up for a few sessions with a personal trainer and get some ideas for workouts. Once you know how to adjust it and use it properly it won’t be nearly as scary.

For more fitness posts check out my fitness page.

Do you lift weights? What’s your favorite reason to lift?