You're in the home stretch of the Whole Living Action Plan -- the final few days! Here to answer your fitness questions this week is Reebok master trainer Sara Haley.
Sara helped design the Action Plan fitness moves for Week 3, along with the upgrades for Week 4. In pushing your body to try new things, she says, you'll start to burn fat and tone muscle in new ways, and you'll develop healthy habits that will keep your routine going long after the plan is over.
If you have questions about these fitness moves -- or about exercise in general -- post them here. Sara will be checking in Wednesday through Friday, and will post a response within 24 hours. You can read more about her at SaraFitness.com.
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When I use the heart rate monitor on the exercise equipment that I have access to it usually tells me that my heart rate is higher than the recommended limit for cardio work in my age group. What are the consequences of exercising over the target heart rate? Do I really need to slow down when I exercise?
For your information, I'm in pretty good shape, I started exercising about three years ago 2-3 times per week for 30 minutes on the elliptical then last year I switched things up a lot and exercised 4-5 times per week and trained for a sprint triathlon.
Hi Michelle! First of all, congrats on the sprint triathlon. That's an amazing goal to work towards. How did it go?
I'm really glad you asked this question. Interesting timing, as I was discussing this with my mother yesterday. She just started working out after a recent surgery and was asking me if she should get a heart rate monitor. Unless it's something a doctor has highly encouraged, I'm not really a fan of using them. Here is why: Your heart rate changes day to day & moment to moment, with a lot of different factors that can contribute to it going up and down. It can change depending on: what time of day it is, the temperature in the room, the amount of sleep you get, what you had to eat the night before, if you have alcohol or caffeine in your system, if you're sick or pregnant. Because of this, I always encourage my clients and people in my classes, to evaluate their workout by how they feel rather than by a number.
To evaluate your cardiovascular endurance, I would look at 2 things. First, how do you feel when you are working out at your hardest? Assuming you are healthy (not sick, pregnant, hung over) and want to continue to increase your cardiovascular stamina, you want to work to the point of feeling uncomfortable, or it should become hard to breath or hard to carry on a conversation. If you're looking to really challenge yourself and work anaerobically you'll want to reach a point where you are breathless. I only suggest going to this place for about a minute or so, recover and try it again. Secondly, look at your recovery rate - how quickly can you go from a state of "hard" to a place where you are comfortable and able to converse. You want this amount of time to decrease over time.
So based on what I said, when you reach this heart rate that is over the "recommended limit," how do you feel? It is different for everyone. If you are in a more fit and healthy body than most people in your age group than you probably will be able to push yourself more than the average person. There are consequences when you are pushing yourself too hard if you coming from a de-conditioned place, or a place of injury, or are pregnant. I am actually 8 months pregnant right now, and I still don't regulate my heart rate but rather evaluate according to the system I gave you.
I would love to hear back from you. Thanks, Michelle.
Thanks Sara, that's very informative! When I'm working out I tend to work hard, for me. I definitely can't carry on a full conversation but I can get a few words out alright. It tends not to take me very long to get back to where I can converse normally, maybe a minute or two.
The triathlon went well! I was hoping to complete in two hours and I finished in 1:56:20! My next one is in May. :)
Congrats Michelle! It sounds like you are working in a great place for you, as long as you don't have any injuries or "conditions." I would definitely start to work on improving that recovery rate. Perhaps interval train - take it to a place that's hard for you for a minute or two and then recover. See how quickly you can recover and then go back to that place! If you set new challenges for the body, you will see new results! Best of luck.
I have a couple questions. I am new to working out (I started right before the new year) and I was wondering how many times per week and for how long I should be aiming to exercise. I am 26 and used to be a pastry chef but now work an office job so I am much more sedentary. My second question is how late is too late to work out at night? I usually get home from work around 6 and sometimes get sidetracked before I can get exercising. If I get the motivation at 8pm is that too late to do an intense work out? I usually get to bed around 11 and generally do not have trouble getting to sleep. Sometimes after dinner I feel motivated to do some working out but I don't because I am afraid of it affecting my sleep or being bad for circulation.
Hi Alissa. Congrats on starting your 2011 workout plan! What type of workouts have you been doing? Have you been following the Whole Living Action Plan?
Bare minimum, I like to follow the American College os Sports Medicine’s recommendations:
Guidelines for healthy adults under age 65:
Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week
Do eight to 10 strength-training exercises, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.
Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation.
Of these choices, I prefer 3 days of week of cardio & 2 days of strength training. Once you hit 30 years old, you start to lose 1/3 to 1/2 lb. of muscle each year. At 26 you can easily get a head start by building some muscle tone!
In terms of the best time to work out, anytime you can fit it in is the best time! If nights work for you go for it. You probably hear a lot of people recommend mornings because the fear is that as the day flies by you’ll find less time for fitting a work out in. However, I know a lot of people who absolutely love working out at night. I think the best thing to do is try it out and see how it affects your sleep - it’s different for everyone. This article though should calm your fears: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/24/health/24real.html .
Would love to hear back from you!
I'm getting back in shape after a few months of heavy fertility treatments. I'm trying to find a routine and I've decided to do this one:
30 min ellptical every day
20 min pilates ou yoga every day
What do you think? Do you think it's wise? Is there something missing?