Workout Review: Shift Shop

Shift Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a new trainer in the Beachbody house and he goes by the name of Chris Downing coming in with an explosive 3 week program called the Shift Shop.

How the program works

Simple three-week program (round 1).  Each week are two new cardio and strength training workouts each progressing in difficulty and time.  First week strength and cardio workouts are alternated 6 days a week/25 minutes a day. Second week ramps up same progressions of cardio and strength except slightly more difficult and 35 minutes a piece.  Last week ramps up again with sessions lasting 45 minutes. Throughout the three weeks you will also occasionally add in an ab focused workout and stretching.

The Workouts

Cardio 25, 35, 45 – high intensity intervals at 60 secs a pop

Strength 25, 35, 45 – multi-functional weight training recruiting both legs and arms simultaneously for an added burn

Abs – work your transverse abdominals, rectus abdominals, obliques and back

Stretch – much needed relaxation and stretching of muscle fibers to get you ready for the next challenge

Results

Debatable…  so I tried it.  I had not done an intense cardio based program in a while.  I had spent time focusing on muscles and lower intensity cardio workouts so initially these workouts were a challenge but definitely strengthened my muscular endurance.

While I enjoyed the program where I have issues is in the results.  Now I didn’t take it the whole nine yards and do the meal plan nor am I specifically talking about my results.  I wasn’t in it to try and change anything significantly or lose weight etc.  I just wanted to try out the new trainer.  I like Chris, he’s funny, keeps you going and makes the time fly.  I also love that his workouts include your whole body in training for agility and balance. By all means you are definitely in a pool of sweat by the end of pretty much all of the workouts in the program.

Where I go sideways is with results I am seeing posted online.  I’ve browsed tons of before and after pics for the program and honestly, I’m not impressed.  I mean I get that this is meant to charge you up and set up a pattern to keep you motivated to workout.  However where I have a problem is the sheer volume of intensity these workouts pack with little to no difference in visible results when you are done.  Why beat yourself up six days a week for little compensation?  You know?

That said, I do think this workout program would be a great fit post holiday season after overindulging or as a way to increase cardiovascular efficiency.  In fact I plan on saving the next round for those types of scenarios.  However if you are looking for a program to kick your ass AND get fast results I just don’t think this is it.  It really all depends on your goal.

To summarize, Shift Shop was fun.  I made it through all three weeks and was a sweaty mess.  Personally, I just feel there are quite a few better Beachbody programs for seeing results in the same time period.  I will go into some of my favorite programs in future reviews so stay tuned!

Did you try Shift Shop?  What did you think, did it work for you?  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  Remember, we are all in this together, one crunch at a time.

Cardio Day Do’s and Don’ts

stretching before cardio

C-A-R-D-I-O, what’s that spell?  Cardio! (Insert dramatic eye roll here). What’s your definition of cardio?  If you’d ask a group of people I suspect you would find a different answer from all of them.  Maybe you like to run or take long walks, maybe your more of a get in go hard and get out in 15-20 minutes in which case HIIT is for you,  whatever your type cardio plays an essential role in heart and cardiovascular health.  Cardio also releases those endorphins that make us feel good while managing to help elevate our metabolism.  It’s an essential building block of a healthy lifestyle.

Everyone I have spoken to about cardio gives you a wide range of emotions about how they feel waking up knowing it’s cardio day.  There is the one type of person that absolutely loves cardio and focuses most if not all their weekly workouts around spinning, running, rowing , jumping etc.  The second type doesn’t mind getting a little sweaty and out of breath few times a week, and our last type hates it almost as bad as a kid hate getting a shot at the doctor’s office.

I fall somewhere between the last two categories. I used to be a 100% focused cardio-a-holic! I loved it and my lungs and endurance sure did too… but let’s be frank cardio is downright exhausting! I was not doing it because it was my favorite thing to be doing at 5am in the morning I was doing it because I feared that the only way to maintain my weight/not gain weight was doing a large amount of cardio – all the time.  WRONG.  So it wasn’t until I forced myself to try a new Beachbody program, Master Hammer and Chisel that I learned there is a much better way!  I could lift weights and increase my strength and stability in every day things like pushing doors and picking up my daughter while changing how my body looked.  You definitely work up a sweat and increase your heart rate lifting weights and yes I did have 1-2 cardio days a week I just didn’t live or die by cardio like my former self.  Here’s a great article if you are on the fence about cardio benefits versus weights from Precision Nutrition:.

But what works well for me and my body goals may not be the same things you like or the goals you have.  However amongst it all there are a few guiding rules when it comes to cardio and reaping benefits from it versus going overboard:

DO make sure to incorporate cardio weekly. 

What’s your goal? Weight loss?  Incorporate 3-4 cardio sessions a week.  Gain muscle/maintain you can get away with 2 no more than 3 days of cardio a week.

But, DON’T overdo the cardio.

I repeat… do not. Rather if you have tank in the gas ditch your go to cardio routine for some pilates, yoga or strength training substitute.  Overdoing cardio leads to low levels of energy, feeling burned out, and is not going to change your physique the way you want.  Seriously…  think about your goals and answer this question:  Would you rather be a smaller version of your current self or would you rather be more defined “toned” and stronger?  Excess cardio with no weight training focus gives you a “skinny fat” physique versus adding in strength training (with or without weights).

DO mix up the intensity of cardio you do weekly.

Not every cardio session has to be max intensity or too low intensity.  Mix is up add a quick HIIT session,a low intensity walk, or a steadystate run into the week.  Not only will your mind thank you but it will keep your body guessing which promotes change and prevents plateaus.  Need some inspiration?  Check out Popsugar Fitness’ cardio workouts for inspiration.

DON’T starve yourself before doing cardio.  

Yes in some various states when all the stars are aligned if the intensity of your cardio is low enough you may just possible burn more fat doing cardio on an empty stomach…  but personally, I’d rather fuel myself with something small as opposed to nothing and be starving, sweating and running on E through the whole thing.

DO make sure you are mentally prepared for cardio

The worst thing you can do is force yourself to go for a run or through some HIIT routine when you are running on 3 hrs of sleep, or you went out and drank too much the night before, or you are feeling ill.  Not only will you suffer through the whole workout but this also can lead to bad form and potential injuries which would set you back even further from your goals.  Instead on these days DO workout but opt for something more manageable like yoga or pilates or even a nice walk outside.

How often do you like to do cardio a week?  Have any extra tips to share with us on what works for you?  Share in the comments below.

 

Why do Squats?

Squats, we love them we hate them, they love us they hate us…. the vicious circle goes on. But bottom line, squats are amazing for your health and creating a nice backside.  I mean come on, adding squats into your daily routine is proven to reduce the appearance of cellulite, gets all the blood flowing in your legs (hello desk job), while sculpting your butt and thighs at the same time.  And how could I leave out they are massive calorie burners ….  legs are your powerhouse with muscle density incorporating leg movement into your routine increases not only your muscular definition but also boosts your metabolism how awesome is that? If you ask me they are an essential piece to your workout and should not be left out!

squat

However, the types of squats you do, frequency, and if you are actually doing them right can make or break a lot of things…

Squat right.

So a squat seems pretty basic right?  But the question then becomes not if you can/can’t do a squat it’s are you doing them correctly?  Yeaahhh there is a huge difference.  Squats are awesome for your body but doing them wrong could really mess up your knees and alignment. I have seen time and time again at the gym people doing squats wrong. That is soooo bad for you.  You might be wondering, am I doing them right?  I don’t know!  Here’s a few tips to ensure your posture is where it needs to be.

  • Check your knees….  when in a squat can you see your toes if you look down?  If your knees are passing your toes you are not doing it correctly.  Stop now… injury ahead!  Realign yourself so you are sitting back far enough that you can see your toes when you look down.

Wrong

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Right (no squatting in flip flops is not a best practice!)

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  • Butt back – When you squat stick your butt out (no one’s judging 😉 ) You’ll ensure your form is correct and the knee over the toe issue will never become an issue.
  • How low can you go?  Just go low enough that you are still in control.  Going too low can be a problem too…  your knees should not start buckling in.  Stop and try it again this time not so low.

Squat frequently.

There are a myriad of squats and combing them ensure you are hitting all parts of your legs and glutes.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Basic squat
  • Sumo Squat
  • One leg squat (again watch your knees here)

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Aim for 10 of each squat variation above and repeat 3 times.  Try and incorporate 2-3 times a week.  Want to kick up your heart rate a bit?  Try adding a jump to the regular and sumo squat variations.

Incorporate Weights

I have said this time and again, do NOT fear lifting weights.  Fear what happens as you age if you don’t exercise or strength train (hello brittle bones).  That said, add some weight to your squats to fire your body up even more.  I recommend starting with 10lb weights in each hand and progressing from there.  Just to give you an idea (and proof) your legs will not get bulky I currently vary between sets anywhere from 15lb-30lb.

So get out there and squat it like it’s hot!

 

Full Body Workout (40 minute) – Get ready to get sweaty!

treadmill runningGet ready to get sweaty my friends!  Here’s a 40 minute full body workout for days when you just want to take it up a notch.  For best results sub into your weekly routines one time a week (aim for 2-3 additional days of high intensity/total body workouts).

The value that interval and total body training provide is extremely high!  Doing intervals of high/low intensity helps your body increases the afterburn effect on your body for hours after your workout is over!  Why spend time running or walking at a steady pace for an hour where you will only burn what you see on the machine? Why not add 20 minutes back into your busy life and increase caloric burn all day long!

This workout has 2 parts:  Part 1 Cardio & Part 2 Weight Training

Treadmill disclaimer: These are the speeds I am comfortable with, so please adjust accordingly to fit your fitness levels.  Just remember with intervals, aim to be able to talk just fine when jogging and pick up the intensity during  the sprint phases for max results.  Feel free to substitute treadmill for elliptical or bike if you prefer.

WORKOUT PART 1: Cardio

Warm-up (2-5 minutes): Treadmill walk at comfortable pace (3.0-3.5 mph/1% incline)

Workout: (15 minutes): Up incline to 1%-1.5%

  • 1 minute JOG or easy run (6.3 mph)
  • 40 seconds full on RUN (7.2 mph)
  • 20 seconds SPRINT (7.7-8.0 mph)

Repeat 5X above (approx 15 minute mark)

For the last 5 minutes begin a Walk/Run routine giving your glutes, calves and legs some attention:

  • Ease at JOG pace for 1 minute
  • Every 30 seconds reduce speed by .2mph and UP incline by .5% (stop when you get to about 3.5mph-3.8mph)
  • Once you hit 10% incline reverse back down dropping every 30 secs the incline by 1%

Recover (2-5 minutes) : Stay at 0%-1% incline reduce speed to 2.5mph-3.2mph)

WORKOUT PART 2: Weight Training

You may use dumbbells or cables for this routine (I used one of the cable pulley systems at my gym)

Tri Set ( repeat 3x increasing weights each set 8lb-10lb, 10-12lb, 12-15lb)

  • Front Raises – 12-15 reps with 8lb weights
  • Squat/Rows – 15 reps each arm.  Squat while doing single arm rows 10lbs.  Maintain squat while you switch arms.
  • Tricep Overhead Press – 15 reps 10lbs – While bent over/back straight pull cable with both arms over head until arms are straight. (you should feel it in the back of your arms upon each extension).

Ab Rotation: 15 Rotations each side, repeat 2x.  Pull cable or weight across torso with both arms. Should feel entire core twisting.

Cool down: stretch out arms and legs.  I like downward dog, deep lunges, and traditional arm stretches.

Hope you enjoy this workout! Let me know if you find it valuable!

DVD Review: Angie Gorr

About twice a year, my workout dvd collection starts to bore me and I am ready to invest in a new program to throw in the mix.

After exhaustive research on Amazon, bodybuilding.com, and random forums rating exercise dvds I finally settled on a new one… “Custom Fit” by Angie Gorr.

custom fit by Angie Gorr
Girls this video kicks ass! Actually I liked it so much a few weeks after I bought a second video of hers, “Sweat and Tone”. They are currently thrown in rotation once a week and are one of my dvd favorites already.

I think the greatest thing about both of these videos is the amount of customizing you can do. Only have 20 min? 30? 60? Not a problem! She even let’s you mix up your session between cardio, upper body, lower body and abs depending on your goal.

The quality of the video production is not as dynamic as Bob Harper’s or a Beachbody dvd but the workouts offered definitely make it worth your time. So if you are in the market for a new dvd to “get your beach on” this summer try Angie’s out. She won’t disappoint.

Do you have a favorite workout dvd? What is it and what makes it one of your favorites?
Written by Kimberly Hale

Exercising Mistakes to Avoid

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jblmmwr/

We all know by now how essential exercise of some sort is to our lifestyles.  In fact I came across a recent stat that mentioned those classified as “obese” were putting in less than an hour of exercise a year! There are more reasons pointing to the benefits of exercise than those against it.  So if (I really mean when) you are going to carve out the time to fit in a workout why not make the most of it?

 

Below are 5 exercises pitfalls to avoid to make sure you are maximizing your effort and don’t end up injuring yourself:

 

1)      Putting in the time, but not the effort – folks get into a gym habit, and when something becomes easier they don’t increase the intensity, leading to a plateau in weight loss and no improvement. Too many of us believe 30 minutes a day on the elliptical will solve our body issues, when the reality is, “If you want serious results, you need to do serious exercise.” Make yourself sweat! (http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/WorkoutMistakes.htm)

2)      Never changing your workout – this issue is in line with the gym habit we just mentioned. Not only do you have to sweat it out, but mixing up your routine is a surefire way to get impressive results. Simple changes like small weight increases or taking a different group class each week will cause quick and noticeable changes in the way your body fits you.

3)      FORM – if you’re not sure about your position, ASK a trainer or someone whom you know is educated enough to help and not hurt you. If you are certain you are doing something correctly, ASK this same person to double-check your form. I’ve said before that small changes add up to big results – just make sure the results are positive!

4)      Be wary of those machines! – “Weight machines… usually focus on one muscle group at a time, and they don’t replicate the way we move in the course of our daily lives,” according to a Huffington Post article. It continues, “For maximum efficiency, try total-body exercises that involve squatting, bending, lunging and reaching.”

5)      …and one for the ladies: Yoga in general is fine during “that time,” but try to avoid headstands. Doing inverted yoga poses not only adds to your flow, but can make cramps much worse! (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/exercise-during-period#.)

 

Have you heard of any additional exercise no no’s to be avoided?  Let us know!

 

– Kate Milde, Contributing Writer

5 Ways to Exercise at Your Desk

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Photo from Flickr by libertygraceO

Does your daytime job keep your daily activity at bay?  Do you spend 4-9 plus hours a day sitting frantically typing away at email?  If your answer is yes, join the club!  You are one of the 80% of working Americans in that bucket.  However these desk jobs may pay the bills but they also are reeking havoc on your health!

Studies show that the longer you sit or are sedentary throughout the day, the shorter your life span will be.  Yikes, that’s a bit hard to swallow.  So if you love your job, you can’t get around sitting at a desk for work, what can you do?

Here are 7 easy ways to weasel in a few easy exercises/health steps you can do at your desk to help combat the dreaded health outlook for us worker bees:

1. Lunges are your butt’s best friend!  Get up and move that body.  Challenge yourself to do 50 lunges throughout the day at your desk (no that’s not too much to ask!).  Whether you bang them all out at one time, break them up by tens, or do a morning and afternoon session this will ensure you boost your heart rate and work off that extra cellulite hiding a toned backside. How easy, right?

2. Stretch out your sides!  Get your upper body moving with some side bends and a few back bends. If you really feel like getting crazy throw in a few shoulder and head rolls!  You’ll immediately feel a difference if not a bit of energy from stretching out your spine.  For an added challenge add some weight whether there’s a 5lb dumb bell in your cube or a heavy book/piece of equipment. Don’t forget to say ahhh!

3. Take a walk.  Try to make sure you are getting up once an hour or hour and a half max.  This will get your circulation moving and will give you an opportunity to fill up a glass of water and meet your daily water needs.  Have a pedometer?  Great! Chart your progress throughout the day…. 10,000 daily steps is possible you just have to make time for it.  Don’t have a pedometer?  i strongly encourage you to get one, heck you may even surprise yourself with amount of steps you take a day.

4.  Flex those muscles: invest in some light weight to keep in your cube 2-5 lbs max. Try to fit in 3 sets of 12 bicep curls before lunch and repeat after lunch.  You’ll be so proud of yourself and after a little while should notice some definition in your arms.

5. Downward dog baby! If you do not have a private office or enclosed privacy cube then this may be a little tricky to do without your coworkers wondering what on earth is going on over there! Go ahead and swap for basic runners calf stretches. If you are so lucky or are not intimidated by your coworkers, go ahead and make sure before the end of the day to wrap up with a downward dog.  This will stretch out your whole body especially your calves and legs.  Downward dog is wonderful for increasing your overall  flexibility.

6. BONUS TIP:  If your workplace allows for it, swap your detrimental desk chair for an exercise ball.  Sitting on that throughout your work day will keep you sitting up straight and actively working your core muscles all day long!

These are just a few ideas to weave exercise into your workday.  I hope this inspires you to try one, two, or all 6 tips for fitting a workout into your daily 8 to 5 routine.  not only will adding this in break up the daily monotony but exercise also may help you from crashing at 2pm or raiding the meeting leftovers in the break room.   Every little step counts!

Have any exercises you’ve looped into your work day?  Any advice to share from one desk job worker to another?  Let us know!