OFF-Day Workouts

What to do?

Question:

Boot Camp only meets 3 x/week, what should I be doing on my off-day workouts?

Answer:

This is a great question that has been popping up repeatedly in camp lately.  I figured, what better way to answer it than writing a post for everyone?

To be honest, if you are happy with where you are, you might not need any more exercise than the 3 days of camp.  The boot camp sessions are intense and those alone will get you great results.

Always remember, our bodies need time to repair after intense exercise.  Rest is a good thing.  This isn’t sit on the couch and eat potato chips rest but active rest, still moving by going for a walk or a bike ride.

I know this won’t satisfy the workout junkies, so I am going to highlight a few different options you could do on off-days to speed up progress or if you are just looking to come in and burn off some steam.   If you have some serious weight to lose or have a few trouble areas, putting in some extra work on these off-days is a great option.

I know everyone is different and has different goals, so I will post a few scenarios and you can find the one that meets your needs.

Scenario One:  Core Strength is Lacking

What to do about it?

Core exercises are a great routine to do on your off days.  They will get the blood flowing, get you moving, and most importantly reinforce proper stabilization patterns.  Plus, everyone loves a toned, flat core.

Here is a simple circuit to help tighten your core and get you moving.

Front Plank (progress to a one foot plank)
Side Plank (L) (progress to a full plank holding a small dumbbell overhead)
Side Plank (R)
Supine Lying Hip Extension (progress to elevating the feet on a small object)

Do each exercise for 4 reps of 10s holds then rest as needed before going onto the next exercise.  Go through the circuit 5 times and call it a day.

Scenario Two:  Weight Loss is a Top Priority or you want to Increase Cardiorespiratory Fitness Efficiently.

What to do about it?

Option 1: Incline Treadmill Sprints

7 minute workout

2 minute warm-up
15 s elevated sprint  then 15 s rest and repeat
6 sets
2 minute cool-down

*Use an elevation between 6-10 degrees and play with a speed that works.  Start easier than what you think you can do and slowly build your way up.

*Also, if you are 30 pounds or more overweight or have orthopedic issues, I highly recommend not sprinting, use Option 2

Option 2:  Bike Intervals

18 minute workout

4 minute Warm-Up
15 s HARD (8-9 out of 10)
45 s EASY (2-3 out of 10)
10 sets
4 minute Cool-Down

Total time 18 minutes

*You can use any modality you like for this, but I prefer treadmills or bikes.  On the hard intervals increase the level you work at and then decrease the level for the easy portions.  On the hard portion,s you should be working your butt off and look like a maniac.

Option 3:  Take the day off and work on NUTRITION

Take the time you would normally spend going to the gym and working out and focus only on planning your meals for the week.   You should be able to plan your meals and write up a grocery list in this time.

Plan 3 meals for each day of the week leaving 2 spots open for cheat meals and then make a list of appropriate snacks in case hunger strikes between meals.

This will actually help you more than the other two options if your nutrition is not on point.  Don’t know what to do?  Set up an appointment with me to do a nutritional session.

Scenario Three:  A particular body part is weak and needs extra strengthening (ie: upper body)

I am going to use the upper body as an example for this one because I know many of my clients could use more upper body strength.

For these clients, a simple strength routine consisting of 3-4 exercises using heavy weights will suffice.

Upper Body Strength

Heavy Push-Ups
Standing 1-Arm Row (L)
Standing 1-Arm Row (R)
Arms Extended Squat

Do 5 sets of 5 reps for each exercise.  Use a weight you can only lift 7-8 times.   These are heavy sets.

Scenario Four:  I just need to do something

What to do?

Do some type of low-intensity activity that you enjoy; something that will get you sweating and moving your body.  Go jogging through the park, take the kids to the local swingset and play a game of tag, yoga, easy bike riding, walks etc…

I suggest also going through your personal improvement routine.  This shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Now you know four quality options that you could use on your off-days.  Also, if you are starting to feel run-down, or you just aren’t getting as much sleep, think about taking a day off.

Do one of these options only 2-3 days per week and make sure to take one day completely off every week.  Also, vary your options from time to time and don’t do the same option more than once during the week.

Well, this is a quick and simple way to stay active on your off-days.  If you really need more guidance think about upgrading to the platinum package where you can work directly with me in a small group setting.  I will then design your off-days specifically for you and you will work with me one day outside of boot camp.

If you are interested in the PLATINUM OPTION talk to me at boot camp or simply reply to the newsletter.

Enjoy!

-TJW

Got Soreness?

My butt hurts!

It hurts to sit on the toilet!

I can’t get out of bed or walk down the stairs!

Oh, do I love a new round of exercises and a new workout routine.  Everyone realizes that yes they do have muscles and boy do they hurt right now.

Since, soreness has been a hot topic lately, I felt this was an appropriate time to address this subject. With a new round of workouts usually comes a new transition period for the body.

First, what causes soreness?

Well any number of things can cause soreness but the most applicable to my readers are these three culprits

1. New exercise program
2. Routine Change
3. Increase in duration or intensity

Soreness is most likely due to the microscopic tearing that happens after an intense workout.  Basically during a workout, and especially a new workout, we break down the muscle so that it can heal and grow back stronger.  This breaking down of the muscle causes inflammation to occur which presses on pain receptors in the muscle telling our brain to stop moving those legs because they freakin’ hurt.

Without the inflammation process though we would not be able to heal properly, so it is very important.  One thing we can do is speed the process up and get the inflammation out as fast as possible bringing in new blood and nutrients to the muscle tissue.  This will reduce soreness and get us walking normal and feeling better much faster.

 

How to Speed up the Process

MAKE IT STOP!  Well, there is no real way to make it stop except taking it a bit easier.  My best advice is to embrace the soreness and the healing process that is now occurring in your body.  The cells in your body are quickly repairing themselves to be stronger so they don’t have to go through this trauma again.  (Well, until I switch it up on them next month 😛 ).

We do have the ability to speed things up though.  Some of the following techniques come from personal experience while others I just found in my research of this topic.

1.  Foam Roll after Exercise

I have found foam rolling and light stretching helps me recover much more quickly.  I don’t think there is any research to back me up but years and years of playing competitive sports have said stretch after you get done and if I get some foam rolling in I feel even better.

2.  Active Recovery

No strenuous exercise here, simply get the muscles moving and pumping blood again.  This can be a walk through the park, your personal improvement routine (recommended), a series of low-intensity bodyweight exercises that puts your joints through a full range of motion and even some gentle stretching.  Really, all we are doing here is getting the blood flowing again so we can shuttle new nutrients to the damaged sites facilitating the repair process.  This technique mixed with foam rolling has been the most effective for me.

3.  Hot Bath w/ Epson Salt

The premise here is the heat helps to bring new blood to the muscles while also relaxing the body.  Although, you should use ice the first 48 hours after an injury, I find a hot bath relaxes my mind and body more.  Placebo effect maybe, but I couldn’t care less either way if it works.

To kick it up a bit notch add EPSOM Salts to your bath.  According to the Epsom Salt Industry website, Epsom Salts are made of magnesium sulfate which when added to the bath are absorbed by your skin.  Upon absorption, the Epsom salt draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, relaxes the muscles and most important to our cause reduces swelling.  It’s the swelling that makes muscles hurt, so the faster we reduce that swelling the sooner they will feel better.

4.  Contrast Bath/Showers

I used this technique extensively in college and during heavy training periods as a professional.  To be honest, I felt great afterwards but I never felt like my legs could perform optimally.  This technique also takes some serious cahones to do.

For this technique you alternate between periods of freezing cold water and hot water.  The typical protocol is 40 s to 1 min COLD and then 2-3 minutes of HOT.  Repeat this process 3-5 x or whatever you can handle.  You can either use two different bath tubs or use a shower head and just turn it from cold to hot. I do recommend using this technique at least once to know what it feels like.  Also, its helps burn fat by activating brown fat located mainly in your upper back but that is a topic for another day.

The premise behind this is the icing helps to stop the swelling and causes the muscle to contract squeezing the blood out of it and then the hot relaxes the muscle bringing in new blood and nutrients.

5.  Simply Icing

Everyone knows this technique.  Just ice the really sore muscle for 20 minutes or so.  The cold helps to reduce the swelling and numbs the pain receptors so the perception of pain decreases.

6.  Nutrition

I find it rather fitting that I will get to mention Essential Fatty Acids (Krill Oil, Fish Oil, Cod Liver Oil) again because they keep popping up in this newsletter.  They have strong anti-inflammatory effects and have been shown to reduce arthritic pain as much as NSAID’s (ie: ibuprofen).

Eating adequate complete proteins to provide building blocks for the new muscle and eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit will also help keep inflammation at bay and reduce healing time.  Add in some tea and plenty of clean water and you will be golden.

Try out one or two of these techniques the next time you can’t get off the toilet properly from too many squats.  I look forward to hearing which ones worked for you.

-TW