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Thanksgiving Eve: The One Day You Shouldn’t Skip the Workout This Week!

Another Awesome CrossFit UWS Workout!

with Ashleigh & John

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I’d say this is the one day you really don’t want to skip the workout this week! If you have an abbreviated work or school day, why not add an extra ten minutes to your cardio session or take that 90-minute group exercise class.

If you can get outside and take advantage of the not-yet frigid temps, you could always try the awesome workout CrossFit UWS Head Coach Roberto Murichi pushed us through this past Saturday. This was the first time I was able to get to the Central Park class in several weeks, and it felt great to be back in action!

  • Static/Active StretchTwo rounds; four areas of focus:
  1. Hamstrings: 30-second static stretch followed by 30 seconds of “butt kickers” – similar to running in place, but instead of bringing your knees up toward your chest,  you bend them enough to try and kick your heels to your glutes.
  2. Quads: 30-second static stretch followed by 30 seconds of “high knees”- running in place with those knees coming up as high to the chest as possible.
  3. Hip flexor: 30-second static stretch followed by 30 seconds of jumping jacks.
  4. Chest: 30-second static stretch (clasp hands behind back and “pull”) followed by 30 seconds of “sun gods.” That’s simply raising your arms to shoulder level, keeping them straight and moving them around in circles.
  • Warm up: 100 meter sprint. 10 rounds. This was done in “relay” style with my two other classmates. With the combined effort, it took us just under 13 minutes to get through the 10 rounds.
  • Workout: Roberto broke things down into one-minute intervals where we’d bang out as many reps as possible of four different exercises. We continued with as many one-minute rounds as needed to get through the total number of designated reps as follows:
  1. 100 sit ups
  2. 75 squats
  3. 50 push ups
  4. 25 burpees
  • The “catches”: At the start of each minute, (which we were alerted to by a beep on Roberto’s iPad), we had to bang out five box-jumps using the park benches as our jump-on/jump-off origin. The other catch was that you had to finish all the reps designated for each exercise before moving on to the next. So, let’s say I got through 50 sit-ups in the first minute. When I heard the one-minute beep, I banged out five box jumps, then went back to sit-ups starting at #51. I couldn’t start the squats until all the sit-ups were done. It took me 12:50 to complete all the reps of all the exercises. (Which means my workout also included a total of 70 box jumps.)

Just a friendly reminder that these workouts aren’t designed for fitness novices. However, if you’re looking to take things up a notch, Roberto’s workouts are a great way to supercharge your routine! Click here for more information on the workouts and when they’re held.

Whatever you do on this Workout Wednesday, be sure to make it count! That way you can head into the Thanksgiving holiday knowing you’ve done all you can do to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Importance of Flexibility Training

Photo by: Leslie Hassler

We made it to another Friday! If you’re like most people, you’ve clocked countless hours this week sitting at a desk crouched over a keyboard. Or maybe you’ve logged hours in your car commuting or taking the kids to and from school and activities. Regardless of your daily activities, chances are you suffer from an all-too common problem for modern day Americans: bad posture. This matched with an ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle for people everywhere make a recipe for disaster where your body is concerned. This is why incorporating flexibility training (a.k.a. stretching) is more important than ever. It is one of the best ways to decrease muscle imbalances, joint dysfunction and overuse injuries.

While I can’t assess how your body moves via this post, I can tell you about one of my biggest “problem areas.” When I’m not out in the field producing shoots, I spend way too much time sitting in front of my computer. Since I’m almost always on deadline, I tend to lose track of just how long I sit there. These extended periods of sitting unfortunately cause tightening of my hip flexors, which are made up of five muscles including the psoas.

What happens if I I don’t take the time to stretch my hip flexors and just get right into the “heart” of a workout?  There are plenty of terms in exercise science to describe the problematic results, including altered reciprocal inhibition, synergistic dominance and arthrokinetic dysfunction.  Here’s what those problems look like when it comes to performing one of the most popular exercises known to man: the squat. If I repeatedly perform squats with a tight psoas, the “wrong” muscles end up doing the work. The gluteus maximus should be the prime mover, but tight hips flexors inhibit the gluteus maximus from doing its job and getting strong. Instead, the workload gets picked up by the “B team:” the hamstrings and erector spinae. Not only does this make the butt-kicking exercise pretty much ineffective for actually toning my butt, but I’m also putting myself at risk for low back pain and potential injury.

Here’s a link featuring some good static stretches for the hip flexors. If you’re just getting started on an exercise program, your focus will most likely be on corrective flexibility in order to improve any muscle imbalances and altered joint motion.  To that end, static stretches and self-myofascial release should be the key components in your flexibility training program.  (Stay tuned for more on my own love-hate relationship with SMR in future posts!)

Another problem area for many people is the biceps femoris, which most of us know as the hamstrings. As you progress in your fitness journey, you can look forward to moving from corrective flexibility to active flexibility. In the video below, I help Brent Brookbush illustrate an effective active biceps femoris stretch. Before you check out the video, I leave you with this final thought: if I could go back in time and change one thing about my life-long love affair with fitness, I would incorporate much more flexibility training into my routine. It is truly one of the best things we can do for ourselves in order to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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