Don't be left out!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What Shoes to Wear for Lifting Weights

It seems now-a-days everyone is wearing running shoes everywhere, even when they aren't running.  I see them at the mall, out to eat, on walks and even in the squat rack.  With high tech cushioning, shock absorption and cool air vents these shoes are comfy!  Really, I get it! Believe it or not, I actually own a pair.  Running shoes may be your go to sneaks for toting around town but I encourage you to proceed with caution when sporting them while lifting weights.

Generally speaking, running shoes are made for running.  They are designed with cushioning and support to absorb force generated each time your foot comes into contact with the ground.  This is great for running because it (hopefully) means less wear and tear on your body after tens of thousands of steps and hundreds of miles.

When you wear those same running shoes to lift in, it can be a different story.  With cushioning can come loss of stability and when you're trying to generate force by pushing against a surface a hard, flat platform is ideal so you can "feel the floor" with your feet.  In other words,  think of lifting in running shoes like trying to squat on a mattress…. probably not your best choice.

So what should you wear?  Ideally a flat soled shoe with a firm/hard surface will be your best pick. The good news is that they are plenty of options at a variety of price points.  I also realize many of you enjoy using the same shoe to perform a variety of exercises and they're are shoes for that too!  Check out a few of my picks below...

*Please note, these are my top picks of shoes that I have tried first hand and I'm speaking from personal experience and I'm assuming that most gyms require footwear so barefoot lifting although a viable option for many isn't applicable.

Chuck Taylors ($50):  These bad boys (or girls, if you wish) are worn by novice and veteran lifters alike.  They're relatively inexpensive, provide a flat, hard surface and will hold up forever.  If you don't own any lifting shoe already these would make a great first pair for anyone. If money is an issue, I also own the Target converse and they work just as well!

Inov-8's ($60-130) haven't been around quite as long as the chucks but man, they seem to be just as popular- and not just with crossfitters!  If you're looking for a shoe to run, climb, jump AND lift in this is one of the top brands I've seen.  They offer a variety of shoes that mimic the barefoot feel, lifting shoes and running shoes.  They are considerably more expensive than chucks, The Clymb always has great deals.  While this wouldn't be my first pick for lifting shoes, I realize that not everyone can own multiple pairs of shoes for each different activity and many people enjoy utilizing plyometrics, lifting and running into one workout.  If that sounds like you, check this shoe out.

Lastly but not least, I also love my Adidas Powerlift 2.0 ($90) for squatting.  It's not secret that I have poor hip and ankle mobility and it's taken lots of work over the last three months to hit depth with more confidence.  Using a shoe with a lift in the heel for squats is a topic that's been debated over and over as some see it as putting a bandaid on poor mobility.  I do love my squat shoes but before you jump into a pair of these make sure you try a flat sole pair like Converse first.

These are my personal favorites from the shoes I've tried for lifting but the many additional options are out there and sometimes you just have to try it out to know what works.

Your turn:  What shoes do you wear for lifting?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

No Bake Protein Balls

I'm going to warn you right now, before you read any more if you have no will power to say "no" to yummy treats quit now and don't even bother making these amazing, easy, tastes like a cookie but better, no bake protein balls because I promise you, you'll have to hide the entire batch or force your husband to eat the rest so you don't eat them all.  Not that I would know…that's just what I heard….from a friend…. wink, wink.

I came across these bad boys on Amanda's new fit life Facebook page.  I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand so I thought I'd try it out. Ermahgerd.  Totally knocked my socks off, my kids were hounding me for more (I didn't really want to share), and super quick and easy.

I made just a few, slight modifications to her recipe because it called for honey and I don't like honey all that much so I swapped in some light maple syrup instead.  Don't judge.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix (I used my hands), shape into a ball and store in the fridge…assuming you don't eat them all before they make it there.

(Makes 24 balls)
-1 cup oats
-2 scoops protein powder (I used vanilla whey)
-1/2 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy and it was awesome)
-1 tbs vanilla
- 1/4 cup honey
-added light maple syrup until it formed a consistency to make a ball


According to my calculations, one ball has 67 calories, 9g carbs, 2g fats and 4g protein

Give them a try!  I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Finisher: A Metabolic Finisher

Metabolic Finishers can be a great way to torch some extra calories at the end of a workout.  They're typically full body moves, short on time, high on intensity and can be tacked on to the end of lifting workouts to blast fat.

Try adding applying the simple (read simple, not easy) rule of three's to your metabolic finisher.  Three minutes, three moves, three repetitions each.  Move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible for the entire three minutes.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Climbing Kettlebell Workout

Grab your kettlebell and warm up!

Start with the first line, then repeat the first line again adding the next line.  Return back to the top adding a new line each time.  Continue until you have added all the lines.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Never Skip A Workout Again

Do you find yourself skipping workouts often?  Do you start your day or week with the best intentions to hit up the gym and always seem to have conflicts leaving you no time to workout?

If you answered yes,  I'm here to help!  The men and women working out everyday aren't any less busy than you are.  They have simply chosen to make their workouts part of their schedule, and when things come up (as they do for everyone) they are able to adapt quickly to stay on track. I promise you when you use any (or all) of these five techniques below you'll never skip a workout again.

Prioritize:  Make a daily to-do list.  Anything that must be done that day goes to the top.  Any tasks that can wait another day goes towards the bottom.  Put your workout at the top of your list.  Pushing it back another day or two is not an option (because you know how that will turn out…).  It's not negotiable.

Schedule it early in the day:  If you find that your evening gym sessions are always getting cut, try scheduling your workout for first thing in the morning.  Throughout the day, things come up but getting your workout done and over right away leaves you the rest of the day to take care of your other responsibilities without skipping out on your gym time.

Have  a back up plan:  Kids will get sick.  You will get sick.  Your boss will require you to travel unexpectedly.  The thunderstrom will keep you from running outside.  You will oversleep and miss your 5am gym time.  These things are going to happen.  That's life.  However, you don't need to play victim to any of these situations.  Have a back up plan!  Sick?  Can you move your workout back a few days until you feel better?  Traveling for work?  What about finding a local gym to train at?  Poor weather?  Can you move your workout inside?  Overslept?  Pack your gym clothes and hit it up on your way home from work.  Always, always  have plan b ready to go.

Have a home workout ready to go:  In my opinion, not having access to a gym, for whatever reason, is not a valid excuse for skipping your workout altogether.  Home workouts are a dime a dozen and with websites like Fitness Blender you can get a great workout from the comfort of your own living room, most with no equipment required!

Find a training partner:  A training partner can be one of the best ways to stay accountable with your workouts.  Find someone who is committed, trustworthy, and won't let you cut corners!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ultimate Summer Salad

 My friend, Angie, shared this recipe with me a few weeks ago and I can't get enough of this perfect, simple, summer salad.

If you've read my blog before, you know I'm not much of a cook but this is super easy and super quick.  It would make a great side dish for lunches, dinners and a perfect salad to bring to summer potlucks.

1 Container cherry tomatoes chopped in half
1 Red Onion chopped
1 Cucumber chopped
A splash of red wine vinegar
A pinch of salt

Mix together, chill and enjoy!  See, I told you it was simple!

Your turn:  Do you have a favorite healthy summer salad?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Core Exercises for Lifters

Ask the typical gym goer for a demonstration of core exercises and you'll probably get a show full of crunches, sit-ups, butterflies, and leg lifts.  Abdominal exercises are a dime a dozen and while they certainly have their place in training for men and women who enjoy lifting, core strength should be more focused on maintaining a neutral, stable spine than six pack abs.  

Core stability is one of those fitness buzz words that has been tossed around for years but what does it mean to me?  In technical terms, it means maintaing a tight core (and I mean your entire core: back, abs, obliques, pelvic floor, diaphragm) with a specific focus on anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-rotation, and anti-lateral flexion.  In other words, you're able to keep your spine in proper position throughout a movement while resisting arching your back, rounding your back, bending at the side or twisting.  For lifters, keeping a strong, stable core while still moving via your hips, knees, shoulders is a crucial skill needed to prevent injury and help you lift more weight.  

Because the goal is to keep your core from movement during a lift, training your core in this manner has many calling it, "anti-movment" core training.  If you find yourself still using crunches as your go to core exercise I'd encourage you to give these a try.   Start by adding a few sets of any of these movements below and keep your focus on maintain proper positioning throughout the move.  

Dead Bug:  You can also hold weights and/or straighten your legs to increase the difficulty of this move.

Palloff Press:  Can also be used with bands and performed from your knees.

Ab Roll Out:  Can also be performed in a similar manner with a stability ball in place of the dolly.
Kettlebell Suitcase Carry:  Can also be performed with a dumbbell or barbell.  

Your turn:  Do you have a favorite core stability move?