Monday, June 22, 2015

Do you even lift, bro?

So I've been taking a weight training class at the college for the past month or so. It's been really eye opening (and caused more than a couple of sore muscle mornings). We have two different instructors, and they do a fantastic job of working us out in different ways. No matter what, though, they do communicate pretty well so we're not working the same set of muscles both classes. 

Our Tuesday teacher, Zach, gives us a set of exercises that move from station to station. After a group warm-up, we are given a sheet of paper that is divided into sets of exercises, we can start wherever we want, so long as we complete the whole page by the time we're done with class. While we're wandering around, trying to figure out which machine is the one for the shoulder press, and whether or not we should brave the barbells, Zach and the interns (that sounds like a band, doesn't it?) move around in the class, answering questions and correcting our form. Which is good, because when I'm working with dumbbells, I just seem to want to hyper-extend my shoulder. An example of one of his sheets is to the right.

As you can see, it follows a kind of circuit training, where we complete each round of exercises within the square a set number of times. I have to tell you, I honestly prefer to do two rounds of 15 to 3 rounds of 10... but I only do that when we're running out of time.  At the completion of the set, we move into cool-down mode and stretch out the muscles before headed back into the world... often drenched in sweat.

Thursdays we have Josh, who is a RIPPED trainer, and also teaches kickboxing and a couple of other HIIT type classes. When we work with Josh, we're not in small groups moving from machine to machine, it's more of a group-exercise setting, where we're all moving together. I like this as well, because seeing the instructor do the exercises helps me correct my form. There is a similar structure in that we move through several series of exercises, often starting  with a set number, and then decreasing as we move through our sets (so 3 sets per series, starting with 15, then 10, then 8).  Series can be different depending on what we're targeting, but most often have a "core" component. So even if you're on biceps, your set of four exercises is going to end with ... a 30 second plank (or boat, or something similar). Which is good, because often we forget we need a strong core to do the exercises.

The downside to this is we are limited to the hand weights, and don't really get to use the machines or the barbells. BUT the upside is we're all working together so we can encourage each other as we work through the exercises, and we can see what we're supposed to be doing since our instructor is working with us as well. And just like Tuesdays, we often leave after our cool-down... drenched in sweat.

Which is all to say, last week we had a small class so instead of doing our usual cardio, I opted to focus more on the strengthening. So our workout looked a little different than normal..

Happy (3:54) - marching, arm circles, leg curls (butt-kicks), hip circles (I like to move the hip circles into figure 8 movements, like hula dancers do), bench-press arms combined with high knees (still fairly low impact)

weight circuit (3 sets of 10)

  • SET 1 [arms]: standing bicep curls, lateral raises, standing hammer curls, tricep curls
  • SET 2 [legs]: weighted lunges, weighted (goblet) squats, donkey kicks (I didn't specify weights with those, but people with ankle weights had some fun)
  • SET 3 [core]: 30 sec. plank, weighted sit-ups (dumbbell behind head), rowing the boat (boat pose, weight becomes the "oar" with which you row the boat, touching on either side of the body, two touches is one row)

there were 2 minute breaks between sets for water and general recovery.

we did a series of four Sun Salutation A for the International Day of Yoga

This was followed by a full body stretch, hitting legs, arms and core with a VERY nice 5 minute savasana at the end.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rhianna, Kanye and Paul McCartney make pretty good cool-down music, as it turns out

Second week of cardio-yoga classes, and we're still going strong. There was a much smaller turnout, but I think that was largely due to it being the first week of summer vacay, and not that I had inadvertently scared people off. :-) 

For this week we skipped the extended leg kicks and went with JUST knees--especially on the roundhouses.

Here is this week's playlist and exercises:

All About That Bass (3:06) - verse 1: knee touch into wide knee touch, bridge: forward lunges, chorus : cross-arm knee touch (opposite elbow/knee), verse 2: knee touch into wide knee touch, bridge: forward lunges, chorus: cross-arm knee touch
modifications: to "lower" the intensity, march instead of knee-touch, to up the intensity, hop into the knee touch

Song 2 (2:02) - alternating for approx. 30 sec a piece: jabs, cross, uppercuts, and roundhouse/hook punches (in succession)
modifications: to "lower" the intensity, punch every other beat, to up the intensity, march as you punch. leg positions can either be a squat or same leg forward

[brief rest]

Shake It Off (3:38) - verse 1: jab/cross combo, bridge: hook punch, chorus: chain punch while marching/uppercuts at "shake it off", verse  2: jab/cross combo, bridge: hook punch, chorus: chain punch while marching/uppercuts at "shake it off", walk during "hey, hey portion," cheerleader chant: knee/front kick, chorus: chain punch while marching/uppercuts at "shake it off"
modifications: to "lower" the intensity, keep a horse stance during punches, to up the intensity, scissor hop legs during cross punches and hop into the kicks

Uptown Funk (4:31) - intro: walk, verse 1: knee/front kick, bridge: side kicks, tag: chain punch to the beat (will get faster), chorus: thai knee/roundhouse,  verse 2: knee/front kick, bridge: side kicks, tag: chain punch to the beat (will get faster), chorus: thai knee/roundhouse, "funk you up": squats, chorus: thai knee/roundhouse
modifications: to "lower" the intensity, just throw knees and don't kick, to "up" the intensity, add punches to the kicks (same leg/arm)

elastic heart (4:17) - sun salutation, modified variation: extended mountain, swan dive, forward fold, half-lift, forward fold, lunge, low plank, modified chatarunga (knees, stomach, chest lowered). From here repeat sequence of: cobra, table-top, child's pose about 8 times. Rotate to supine for a series of 8 "penguins" or oblique crunches/heel touches. Raise legs to ceiling for straight leg crunches (one set of 10). Lower to boat, hold series of 3 boat poses for 15 seconds each. Flip over and rest in child's pose before next song.
modifications: fists for wrists/dolphin pose for table-top, you can add/remove additional poses as needed to "up" the level.

FourFiveSeconds (3:08) - begin in table-top, and move between cat/cow for a series of 8, moving at your own breath. Extend alternating leg/arms for balancing tabletop pose, series of 4 (2 each side), holding pose for 15 to 20 seconds. Rest in child's pose for 15-20 seconds. Come up to easy seat, and then move into seated side bend position moving between sides using your breath (inhale on up, exhale into the stretch).
modifications: you can modify balancing tabletop to include a crunch by meeting elbow and knee on the exhale, and extending out to balancing tabletop on the inhale.

Krishna rising (15:00) - I tend to vary this a bit, as I will tailor the stretching to problem areas for students. The important bit here is to leave about 3 to 5 minutes for savasana.