New Exercises and Kick Review

This week has been great for diet and exercise and not so great for my sanity and life. I am working at a client that is about 40 minutes drive away with no traffic. Except there is always traffic and it usually takes about an hour and 45 mins to do the drive 😦 so to try to avoid that I have been going to a gym by the client. This is usually my plan when clients are far away and it works pretty well. This week I trained Legs (extremely heavy) on Tuesday, Push on Wednesday and Pull on Thursday.

In general, most of the variety in my workouts come from changing up sets or making slight variations to existing exercises, but this week I added a couple totally new exercises! I am sore EVERYWHERE as a result, but that’s good right?

New Exercise #1 – Reverse hamstring curls (solo)

I have seen variations of this done, usually with a partner sitting on your ankles, but recently I was shown how to do this solo! You kneel backwards on the seat of the lat pull down machine and hook your ankles under the knee pads. You then support yourself with a rod of some sort (I used a body bar at hand) and extend your body out flat and raise back up using your hamstrings as the primary mover and using your arms to help as needed. This website does a great job of explaining.

New Exercise #2 – Good mornings on an upside down bosu ball

This is exactly what it sounds like and was a great finisher after hitting a new PR on deadlifts (245# for 2 clean reps… whoop!). Start by getting a light-ish bar on your back (I used 50 pounds) and then step onto the flat side of the bosu ball. Make sure you are well balanced and then perform a set of goodmornings. This is a big challenge to you core and stabilizers!

Erica Willick of http://www.sisinshape.com inspired me with the row/press move in the top right.

New Exercise #3 – bent over row to hang clean to overhead press (new favourite)

This was inspired by Erica Willick’s most recent spread in oxygen where she performed this move with a weight plate and skipped the hang clean. I used a 50 pound bar instead of a plate and performed an overhand grip (pronated) bent over row, then stood with the bar in a hang position and cleaned to my shoulders, then performed an overhead press (near the end there was a mini squat involved to help get the bar up). I absolutely loved this chain. I did 4 sets of 8 reps and my whole upper body was feeling it. Be really careful to watch your form throughout though!

So those were my forays into new exercises this week, but I also promised you all a review of Kick by Revolution Nutrition.

In short – I loved it. But let’s get real, it’s mostly a boat load of caffeine (200 mg or equivalent of 2 cups of coffee) that tastes like watermelon jolly ranchers (assuming you do the smart thing and get watermelon flavour). It’s also got other (very legal) stimulants in it which are L-Tyrosine, L-Taurine and Methylphenylethylamine (of the N variety and not to be confused with alpha or beta which are both methamphetamines). This combination seems to give a nice steady build to your energy and in my experience, did not give me jitters or that hyperactive feeling that too much coffee sometimes has. Now, I only used 1 LEVEL scoop and I drank about 1/3 of it before my workout and the rest throughout, so I don’t know how 2 scoops downed all at once pre-workout might affect someone. But I’ve used it 3 times now and I thoroughly enjoyed the effect. it’s definitely going to be part of any morning workouts I do from now on, but I don’t think I’ll use it regularly for afternoon workouts unless I’m having a real energy slump.

If you are looking to pick some up, this is their website. www.revolution-nutrition.com/our-products/kick/

Disclaimer: None of the companies have asked me to do these reviews or given me any incentive to do so, I am simply sharing my thoughts in the hopes that it helps someone else make some informed choices about the products they buy.

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Getting used to morning workouts and WIAW

So I’m terrible at remembering to take pictures of the food I eat on Tuesdays. Yesterday was a little odd and I was super (like extra super) hungry and ended up “snacking” aka mowing down on like half  bag of tostitos and delicious salsa. Really not the most horrible of cheats since (1) they are gluten-free and (2) it was probably still only like 500 calories and I had a few calories to play with since I aiming for between 1800 and 2000 cals per day. Nonetheless a sweet potato would probably have been the better option.

So no pictures for What I Ate Wednesday, but this is the breakdown anyways:

Breakfast (pre-workout) – 1/2 c. non fat greek yogurt, 1/2 c. raspberries and 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds all mixed up

PWO snack – Chocolate protein shake mixed with a doppio espresso (seriously love this… like a cold mocha after a workout) plus 2 rice cakes and a tbsp of peanut butter… I followed this up with my 1 oz of pecan that was supposed to be for the afternoon because I was starving for some reason

Protein mocha yumminess

Protein mocha yumminess

Lunch – 6 oz of organic pork chop and 1 cup snap peas sauteed in butter

Afternoon Snack – 1 measly orange because I already ate my pecans 😦

Dinner – A small chicken leg (thigh and drumstick) with skin on and 1 cup broccoli

TV snack – 3-4 servings of tostitos with amount 1/2 c of salsa

And even with the TV snacking terribleness I came to:

Calories – 2117              Carbs – 162                  Fats – 93               Protein – 162

I woke up this morning and my arms looked so puffy from the late night carbs. Apparently I was a little depleted!

Speaking of mornings… I’ve been keeping up with my morning workouts for 2 weeks now and I think my body is finally adjusting. Today was the first morning I had energy, and boy did I need it! I did this workout with my best friend and both of us had shaky knees by the end… and because gym people are smart (not) they put all the leg equipment on the 3rd floor… genius!

Morning Leg Workout

All exercises were done with 3 sets and 8-12 reps

5 minute warm up on the treadmill

– Jumping squats (to get that CNS firing and further warm up)

– Squat and press with an olympic bar braced in a corner and a 45 pound plate (this is actually the first time I’ve done these and I loved them, really gets the whole body, even calves, involved)

Olympic Bar Squat and Press - Strength Exercise - Step 2

– Narrow stance squats – 115 lbs, 135 lbs, and 165 lbs!

– Straight leg deadlifts – 135 lbs, 155lbs and 155lbs (my lower back was not feeling great so I listened to my body and so should you)

– Hamstring curl machine – 90 lbs for all sets

– Hamstring curls with a stability ball

– Hip thrusters – 80 pound dumbbell

– Crunches on a stability balls – 15 reps for each set

Have a great Wednesday!

Leg workouts and DOMS

I have talked about the dreaded DOMS on here before. But it’s been quite a while since I experiences DOMS that were crippling in nature.

Us fitties are always going on about how the gym makes us happy, endorphins are great and the muscle soreness is “good” right? That stuff is all true (really it is, trust me) but it’s true because our bodies have adapted to this lifestyle. Unfortunately, when you take 3 weeks off (involuntarily, I assure you) you’re body quickly unadapts.

Why? Because it hates you.

Well no, that’s not true, it’s just that it takes an awful lot of energy to maintain the ability to recover from intense activity, and your body is designed to conserve energy if it’s not needed (that’s also why we get fat!).

Squats1What happens is you don’t really lose much strength or muscle size, at least not that quickly, because your body expended a heck of a lot of energy to build that muscle, it’s not going to waste it if it can be helped. What is going to suffer is your ability to recover and your cardio.

Seriously, cardio conditioning is something you have to do ALL THE TIME otherwise it’s gone in 2 weeks. Annoying, I know.

But back to the whole recovery thing. So you (I) go into the gym after 3 weeks off and are like, ok, let’s decrease the weight a little, focus on form and get in a good solid leg workout. You get through a higher than normal rep range because of the decreased weight and your form is great. After the workout, you are tired, but feeling fabulous. Then in the afternoon you notice a slight twinge in your leg when you get up, it’s been less than 8 hours since the workout, and feeling pain already does NOT bode well. The next day you can barely move because your legs are so totaled from yesterday’s “lighter” workout and it’s now Tuesday (4 days) after the workout and your hamstring are still feeling it!

That’s what happens. It’s also what happens to a lot of first timers who go into the gym and think they are superstars because they can leg press 200 pounds no problem and then can’t walk for a week. Then they get discouraged because they are in immense amounts of pain from one workout and they are expected to do this 3 times a week?! Well we all know it’s not like that every time, but they don’t know that. So it’s definitely discouraging.

Your body learns that it has to recover quickly from these sessions because you are going to do it again in a few days. Your body gets good at recovering and next thing you know, you’ve forgotten what real DOMS feels like.

Some things that you can do to help ease the pain:

– Take a pre-workout that includes BCAAs in order to spare some of you muscle’s from breaking down during the workout

– Get your post-workout nutrition within 30 mins of exercise which should include a protein shake (not casein) and a simple carb (like fruit) and maybe some glutamine and more BCAAs for good measure (those 2 are optional but I wish I had done that)

– Warm up really well before hand without completely tiring out the muscles you are working

– Stretch well, but not excessively after the workout… stretching a little is good as it lengthens the muscle and helps flush lactic acid; stretching too much will increase the amount of tears in your already torn muscles and actually increase the pain.

– Take an Epsom salt bath, this helps flush lactic acid to and can warm up stiff muscles

Unfortunately once you have DOMS you are kind of stuck, you have to take preventative measures in order to deal with it properly.

Here is the workout that induced such pain:

Getting back into Legs

Cardio – 20 min interval run

  • Back squats – normal stance – 3 sets of 10-12 reps getting as low as possible with 115 lbs (normally 135 – 165 lbs)
  • Straight leg deadlifts – normal stance – 3 sets of 10-12 reps with 135 lbs (normally 155 – 185 lbs)
  • Bulgarian split squats holding 15 lb dumbells – 3 sets – 10 reps each leg
  • Kettlebell swings with 12 kg kb – 3 sets – 20 reps
  • Hamstring curls – 3 sets – 12 reps with 80 lbs
  • Back extension (focusing on pulling with glutes not back) – 3 sets – 15 reps – no weight

Stretch for 15 mins after

 

Compound Moves

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to eat healthy and workout?

So does everyone else… including me.

As the saying goes; If it’s important, you will find a way, if not, you’ll find an excuse.

Squats 2Being short on time is not an excuse anymore. The steady state cardio myth has been debunked and HIITs are shown to be just as effective. Crossfitters’ WODs take about 20 minutes in total and build muscle like crazy. Circuits can be just as effective if not more than a regular weight session and take half the time. All of these things give you great bang for your buck, but for me… compound moves are king.

What do I mean compound moves?

A compound move is defined differently by different people, but what I am talking about are you “standard” movements that involve multiple muscle groups. Some of my favourites are (in order of my love for them):

  1. Deadlifts (Stiff leg, regular, sumo, you name it, I love it!)

    Regular deadlift (bending the knees)

    Regular deadlift (bending the knees)

  2. Back squats (with variations on stances)
  3. Lunges
  4. Pull Ups
  5. Kettlebell swings (these are not standard moves, but I love them and they work your whole posterior chain)
  6. Thrusters
  7. Push Ups

There are others, but my points is that all of these work multiple muscle groups in ONE exercise. If you only have 20 minutes to workout do you think you should do the hamstring curl machine or deadlifts?

Instead of working on individual muscle groups and having to do 14 different exercises to get a full workout in, just do a couple of these and you are done. Look how many muscles the following workout will target and I guarantee you can do 3 sets of 10 reps of these in less than 30 minutes. The bolded muscle group is the main muscle being worked.

Stiff leg deadliftsHamstrings, Glutes, Lower Back

Wide Stance SquatsQuadriceps, Glutes, Hamstrings, Adductors

Stiff Leg deadlift

 

LungesQuadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves

Kettlebell Swings – HamstringsGlutes, Quadriceps, Lower Back, Upper back, Deltoids

Now that is one efficient workout! Be forwarned though, the tradeoff for less time is higher intensity. Doing squats and deadlifts is harder, more tiring and requires more effort that doing leg extensions until the cows come home. But there is nothing more rewarding (for me… maybe I’m crazy) than lifting some insanely heavy weight in a real life movement… because I guarantee you will have to pick something up off the ground, but when do you ever have a weight strapped to your ankle and you are only allowed to use you  quad in a kicking motion?

 

 

 

Workouts, Brownies and Wild Caught Fish

Yesterday I got back in the gym! Yay! I did a super simple workout as follows:

High Glutes and Running

My standard interval run which is:

2 minute warm up

Then 4 rounds of: 1 minutes walk (4.0 mph), 1 min jog (5.0 – 5.5 mph), 1 min run (6.0-70 mph) and 1 min sprint (7.0 – 9.0 mph)

2 minute cool down

Then 5 x 5 squats (that’s 5 sets of 5 reps) with 155 lbs and a slightly wider than shoulders stance. I also put some weight plates under my heels to help my form. Ladies, we have different anatomy than men, if you aren’t getting low enough in your squats without arching your back… do these things:

1 – put something small under you heels to elevate them (about ½ – 1 inch)

2 – widen your stance a bit

3 – angle your toes SLIGHTLY outwards

Then 3 sets of 24 walking lunges holding a 10 pound plate in one hand and switching after 12 steps (so half the lunges per set are done with the plate on one side, then half are done on the other side)

Then 2 sets of 20 glute bridges alternating the leg in the air and ending with some pulses to really burn the glutes out at the end.

Stretch those legs for a good 15 minutes!

Moving on, as I mentioned yesterday, I made Chocolate Covered Katie’s Black Bean Brownies last night because they looked delicious and they are gluten-free 🙂 I had also bought some ice cream, and brownies and ice cream is a winning combo.

So here is the recipe as I made it:

Ingredients:

Everything in my new food procesor!

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder ( like mine very intense)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (40g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp splenda brown sugar blend for a little extra sweetness
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Optional toppings that I used:
    • 2 squares 85% lindt dark chocolate broken up on top
    • 2 tbsp shredded coconut
    • 1 tbsp white chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F

    In the oven with half coconut sprinkles

  • Put everything except the toppings in a food processor and blend until smooth (ish)
  • Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 9 pan or a cake pan and put toppings on
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Let cool (otherwise they crumble a little as I found out in my impatience) and enjoy with a scoop of ice cream.

Nutritional Info (for 1 slice if cut into 8 pieces without the toppings): Cals – 137     Carbs – 19 g     Fats – 6 g    Protein – 3 g

These were deliciously fudgey (which is SO a word wordpress) and this was verified by non-dieting people at work who tried them, including a very straight forward woman who has no qualms about being slightly offensive. She was very skeptical about them, tried it and announced that she liked it and that the other lady there should try it. Win!

Finished product alongside Haagen Dazs brownie and cookie dough ice cream

I also did a HUGE grocery shop last night and restocked my kitchen with things I haven’t had in ages, like the makings of guacamole, Tostito chips, curry sauces and coconut milk, fatty cuts of meat, brie and goat cheeses and the aforementioned ice cream! I have since regretted this because I have sooooo many things tempting me and I have gone a little lot overboard on the treating myself front. On which note I am really going to try to eat fewer things in the coming days.

I also have found an awesome person as the fish counter. He really seems to care about the quality of what he is selling you. He recommends wild caught fish and tries to point out the best deals. Particular favourites of his (and mine) are red snapper and monkfish which are far cheaper than wild caught salmon. I love wild caught salmon, and won’t buy the farmed stuff, but it is crazy expensive. The fish monger (how often do you get to use that word?) also told me that if I HAVE to buy farmed fish (for unknown reasons) that the tail portion is the best portion to get because 1 – it is the newest flesh as it is constantly growing and 2 – it is the muscle doing the work and will therefore have the most blood flow and lowest levels of toxicity. Good to know!

I bought a portion of both monkfish and red snapper and decided on the monkfish for dinner. If you haven’t heard of it, monkfish is sometimes referred to as “poor man’s lobster” because it has a similar texture and that almost sweet taste. Now do not go into this expecting lobster, because it is NOT lobster, but it is sort of half way there and half way to tilapia or other white fish. I personally love the flavor of monkfish and so I don’t dress it up too much. I would hesitate to even call it a recipe.

All I did was heat about 1-2 tbsp of butter in a skillet and sautee some garlic, when the garlic was nice and golden and the pan was hot I placed the fish in the pan and pan fried it on all sides for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, I just go by texture and warm fuzzy feelings about when things are done. It comes from being in a kitchen at a very young age… thanks mom and dad!

I also sautéed up some asparagus and zucchini because apparently I didn’t get my fill of asparagus during peak weak. Lol.

What kinds of fish do you like? Do you pay attention to farmed vs. wild?