Friday, January 31, 2014

Guest Article from Becky: Aqua Aerobics - Exercises and Benefits

Hey guys,

this one is a premiere. I haven't had a guest post before and I actually hadn't thougth about it until my friend Becky Flanigan came up with the idea of writing a guest article about Aqua Aerobics, which is a field where I don't have a lot of experiance in. I liked her idea and as she has the necessary experiance in both, writing and aqua aerobics, I really appreciate her offer.  Normally I write about hard bodyweight, gym or kettlebell workouts so this is a chance to provide you with some insights in another kind of exercises. I hope you enjoy reading it and if you try it out tell us how you feel about it (btw. even the hard guys can profit from aqua workouts as they demand different efforts from your body and variation in training is pretty important). People who love water or suffered a joint injurie can also profit a lot of working out in the water because of the lower impact on their joints, bones and so on.

I proudly present Becky Flanigan's article:

6 Aqua Aerobics Exercises and Their Benefits

To work out in the water, there are some great exercises to choose from. You can get the same benefits you would with a similar workout on land, but with the great advantage of water – low impact. Here are 6 exercises to try:

1) Flybacks. Standing in chest deep water, bend slightly forward and put your arms out in front of you, with palms reversed so your thumbs point down. Pull your arms in a wide arc until they parallel your shoulders. Reverse your palms and bring them back forward. This exercise is great for your arms, upper chest and back.

2) The plank. In chest deep water, using a hard rubber tube commonly called a foam noodle, place your hands shoulder width apart, and let yourself sink down into the water – make sure to keep your back straight. Hold that pose for as long as possible, and repeat several times if you can. This will work your core better than almost any other exercise, without the strain of situps.

3) Aqua jogging. In the local pool, find the time when the lap lanes are open for swimmers. The water is typically about chest deep, which will provide great resistance. Wear an old pair of sneakers – you’ll be pushing forward enough to scuff your feet on the concrete. Move up and down the lanes with a slow jogging motion. You’ll be able to feel the water making you have to work to push through it, and your legs will quickly feel it as well. This will provide excellent cardio benefit and work your legs well, and a lot quicker than you might think.

4) Aqua tai chi. This exercise routine is best performed with a class – many gyms have them on the schedule. Tai chi is a meditative form of a slow martial art, and in the water the routine has an added soothing effect that is tremendously peaceful. The class moves through a series of poses, transitioning from one to another in a combination which feels almost like a slow dance pattern. This workout will provide calming, help learn to coordinate breathing with the movements, and make the participant work to stay in balance.

5) Climb the walls. If your kids have been getting to you, this is a way to climb the walls and get some benefit from it. In chest deep water, stand near the side of the pool. Begin working your arms in a treading water motion, and while doing that, walk your legs up the side of the pool, then back down. Alternate the leg you lead with each time, and try to get in 10 to 15 repetitions to a set, and do 2 to 3 sets. This exercise will give you an excellent cardio element, work out your legs, and you’ll really feel it in your arms once you’re through.

6) Pool cardio. This is an interval exercise, so try to keep going for up to 3 minutes if you can. In chest deep water, run a zigzag motion from side to side of the pool, to stir up the water and create some turbulence. As you move back and forth through that turbulence, your body will have to work harder, especially the core. Lean into the water with a good running posture, making sure to keep your back straight. This exercise will give you an excellent cardio benefit. If you can keep this up for 3 minutes, you’ll definitely be breathing hard.

If you perform a balanced set of exercises in the water, you can get out of the water with a smile, knowing you’ve gotten in a great workout session!

Becky Flanigan enjoyed writing classes in school, and uses those skills when writing freelance articles for InTheSwim.com. Becky likes spending time with her husband, 3 kids, and 2 golden retrievers. She spends many happy hours at the family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs splash and play. She also enjoys watching Downton Abbey.

I hope you liked Becky's article! Feel free to share your thoughts down in the comment area.

Cheers,
Andi

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The 2014 Freeletics + X Project - Week 4 - Workouts, Progress and some Thoughts about Burpees...

Hey guys,

Burpees, Burpees, Burpees...I start to hate Burpees...seriously I hate them...;)
Nevertheless they are one of the most effective whole body exercise that one can do with his own bodyweight. With that in mind it's not so bad that they start chasing me even in my dreams. This week I had 4 workouts and each one of them demands 150 Burpees...that makes a total of 600 Burpees that week (must sound a bit crazy for people who are used to train 3 sets of 12 reps in every exercise). Fortunately week 4 is over and in the week to come there is only one workout that includes Burpees so my mind can recover a bit from that nasty exercise. I believe that there will be a lot of Burpees in the upcoming weeks until the 15 week program is done, but hey, as they are really boosting endurance and strength I can live with that (or at least I learn to arrange with them when I feel the improvements :) ).

Time for the workouts and results of week 4:

Workout explanations:
Aphrodite - 50 Burpees, 50 Squats, 50 Sit Ups, then 40 reps of each, 30 reps, 20 reps, 10 reps (5 sets in total) - as fast as possible
Hades- 3 sets of 25 Burpees, 15 Pull Ups, 15 Push Ups, 25 Burpees, 2x40 m run - as fast as possible

Week 4:
Wednesday (22.01.2014) - Aphrodite (43:05 min.)
Thursday - rest day
Friday - rest day
Saturday - Hades (33:28 min.)
Sunday - Aphrodite (38:19 min.)
Monday - rest day
Tuesday - Hades (29:41 min.)

Progress:
Weight: 199,7 lbs (90,6 kg)
Abdominal Circumference: 38 inches (96,5 cm)
Chest Circumference: 40,6 inches (103 cm)
Shoulder Breadth: 25 inches (63,5 cm)
Body Fat: 25,2 % (measured with a caliper)

What shall I say...weight went down a bit, shoulders got broader, but all other figures haven't changed a lot. Anyway I feel much better and when I look in the mirror it appears to me that my body composition improved a lot (even if the figures don't show it). Especially the lower part of my belly (where I don't measure) and my chest seem to loose fat (looks like muscles replace fat and that's why the chest circumference didn't change much). Let's see what the next week will do for body improvement...

P.S.: On friday I'll publish the first guest post (written by Becky Flanigan) in the history of Andi's Fitness Blog!

Cheers,
Andi

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The 2014 Freeletics + X Project - Week 3 - Workouts and Progress

Hey guys,

third week done! This week was just Freeletics without extra workouts. The reasons why I haven't done additional stuff are a lack of time on one side and a need of more recovery time on the other. These workouts are harder than expected, but I like that a lot... I feel much fitter than last week and way beyond my stating fitness level! The only thing that disappoints me a bit is that my body hasn't transformed much (actually I feel and see improvements but always when I want to quantify it by measurements it's not as much as expected). I hope that my body finally has adapted to my new lifestyle right now so that my progress will accelerate from now on.

Let's come to the meat...here are the workouts and results:

Workout explanations:
Venus - 4 sets of 50 Push-Ups, 20 Jackknifes (ab workout), 50 Squats - as fast as possible
Dione - 3 sets of 75 Jumping Jacks, 25 Burpees, 50 Leg Levers (or Flat Bent Leg Raises), 75 Jumping Jacks, 50 Sit Ups, 25 Burpees - as fast as possible
Push Up max - AMRAP in 100 sec.
Pull Up max - AMRAP in 100 sec. (I made supported ones)

Week 3:
Wednesday (15.01.2014) - Pull Up max (17 reps), Push Up max (47 reps), Pull Up max (15 reps), Push Up max (31 reps), Pull Up max (11 reps), Push Up max (27 reps), Pull Up max (10 reps), Push Up max (25 reps)
Thursday - rest day
Friday - Venus (22:56 min.)
Saturday - rest day
Sunday - Dione (1:02:29 hr.)
Monday - Pull Up max (20 reps), Push Up max (52 reps), Pull Up max (16 reps), Push Up max (41 reps), Pull Up max (12 reps), Push Up max (32 reps), Pull Up max (11 reps), Push Up max (30 reps)
Tuesday - rest day

Progress:
Weight: 202,5 lbs (91,9 kg)
Abdominal Circumference: 37,8 inches (96 cm)
Chest Circumference:  41,9 inches (106,5 cm)
Shoulder Breadth:  24,2 inches (61,5 cm)
Body Fat: 25,2 % (measured with a caliper)

Due to my weight loss plan I should weigh 90,5 kg instead of 91,9 kg...so what I will go on and stick to the plan (diet and workouts) and hope that my results will improve over time (as you know consistency is king).

Week 4 is coming...Party on!

Cheers,
Andi

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The 2014 Freeletics + X Project - Week 2 - Workouts and Progress

Hey guys,

second week is over and my fitness level is getting better and better. My workout results improved a lot (my body figures not yet...more on that later) and I feel more comfortable during my freeletic workouts. Due to the healthy diet I also feel better...all day, every day!

Enough talk...here are the workouts and results:

Workout explanations:
Venus - 4 sets of 50 Push-Ups, 20 Jackknifes (ab workout), 50 Squats - as fast as possible
Poseidon - 20 Pull Ups, 20 Push Ups, 15 Pull Ups, 15 Push Ups, 10 Pull Ups, 10 Push Ups, 5 Pull Ups, 5 Push Ups - as fast as possible (on wednesday I did negative pull ups, on sunday supported ones)
Aphrodite - 50 Burpees, 50 Squats, 50 Sit Ups, then 40 reps of each, 30 reps, 20 reps, 10 reps (5 sets in total) - as fast as possible
Sit Up max - AMRAP in 500 sec. (real sit ups, not crunches!)

Week 2:
Wednesday (08.01.2014) - Poseidon (9:10 min.) + Sit Up max (56 reps)
Thursday - 6 sets of 25 reps Kettlebell Swings
Friday - Aphrodite (58:11 min.)
Saturday - rest day
Sunday - Poseidon (12:11 min.) + Sit Up max (61 reps)
Monday - Venus (23:44 min.)
Tuesday - 4 km run

Progress:
Weight: 204 lbs (92,6 kg)
Abdominal Circumference: 38 inches (96,5 cm)
Chest Circumference: 40,6 inches (103 cm)
Shoulder Breadth: 22,8 inches (58 cm)
Body Fat: 25,9 % (measured with a caliper)

Overall improvement was poor, but I hope that this is just because my body still needs to adapt to the new circumstances (normally a body needs up to 3 weeks to adapt to new circumstances). In the past my body was used to adapt much faster...maybe the multiple yoyo lifestyle of mine leaves bad traces....I still hope that improvements will accelerate in the next weeks.

Let's go on to the third week!

Cheers,
Andi

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The 2014 Freeletics + X Project - Week 1 - Workouts and Progress

Hey guys,

First week is done! Haven't had sore muscles like that for a long time ;) This week I did all the freeletics sessions (the Freeletics strength plan demands 4 sessions in the first weeks) plus some extra stuff (2 slow running sessions and a short kettlebell swing workout). The week was like hell because I am very out of shape in the moment (unbelievable how much strength and endurance one can lost in just 4 lazy months...). Regarding nutrition I followed my diet very strictly, which wasn't as hard as expected after a long period of bad food intake.

Enough talk, here are my workouts and results (if you want some variation in your training, you should consider trying this as well):

Workout explanations:
Venus - 4 sets of 50 Push-Ups, 20 Jackknifes (ab workout), 50 Squats - as fast as possible
Metis - 10 Burpees, 10 Mountain Climbers, 10 High Jumps, 25 Burpees, 25 Mountain Climbers, 25 High Jumps, 10 Burpees, 10 Mountain Climbers, 10 High Jumps
Pull Up max - AMRAP (as many reps as possible) in 100 sec. (due to a lack of fitness I just did negative pull ups)
Squat max - AMRAP in 500 sec. (down to 90 degrees aka half squats)

Week 1:
Wednesday (01.01.2014) - Venus (43:29 min.)
Thursday - 4 km run
Friday - rest day
Saturday - Metis (13:23 min.) + Pull Up max (16 reps) + Squat max (111 reps) + Pull Up max (12 reps)
Sunday - Venus (32:32 min.)
Monday - 2.9 km run, 3 sets of 25 reps Kettlebell Swings
Tuesday - Metis (11:23 min.) + Pull Up max (15 reps) + Squat max (130 reps) + Pull Up max (14 reps)

Progress:
Weight: 204 lbs (92,6 kg)
Abdominal Circumference: 39,4 inches (100 cm)
Chest Circumference: 41,7 inches (106 cm)
Shoulder Breadth: 23,6 inches (60 cm)
Body Fat: 26,5 % (measured with a caliper)

Not all figures improved , but I guess (or at least I hope) it's because my body hasn't adapted yet to the new circumstances.

Let's start the second week!

Cheers,
Andi

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What about supplements? - Here's how I handle them!

Hey guys,

Now, since I've started my 2014 fitness and health program on the 1st January I thought a lot about supplements. I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of supplements because I really believe that a healthy balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes and good protein from dairy products and organic meat gives you all that your body desires to be healthy and unimaginable fit. Additionally there is scientific evidence that artificially produced vitamins, minerals, BCAAs and other stuff can actually harm your body more than they help (that's not 100% sure, but I decided to stay on the safe side and add all this to my body naturally by eating good food). That's just my opinion and I can definitely understand anyone who has a different point of view.

Neverless I decided to give myself some extra kicks by using a few supplements. In fact, I started to use Omega-3 fish oil capsules (1 per day), linseed oil (1 tbsp.), protein shakes (1 after every strength workout) and green tea (something between 3-5 cups per day). For me these are the only supplements that make sense to reach my goals (I'd used creatine monohydrate 2 or 3 times in my life and the results were pretty impressive, but I don't need it right now. Anyway, I believe that it's ok to use it as well).




Why do I use those 4?

Omega-3 Supplements
Refering to some studies there is evidence (sometimes more, sometimes less) that the body (especially the heart, the cardiovascular system and the brain) could benefit from Omega-3 supplements. I don't think that supplementation is necessary if you eat enough fish, meat and nuts, but my nutrition was very bad over the last 4 months, so I guess that it won't be a mistake to use linseed oil (the oil with the highest amount of vegetable Omega-3) and Omega-3 supplements at least for 1 month until I'm totally back on track.

Protein Shakes
I know that many protein powders contain lots of artificial sweeteners, vitamins and other stuff, so I use them rarely. I think that it won't provoke health problems if I use them only 4 times per week directly after strenght workouts. I use whey protein to give my muscles fast available building material for optimized muscle grow.

Green Tea
Green tea is not actually a supplement, but as I was used to drink up to 12 cups of coffee (far too much) per day it is a healthy substitute for me. Green tea has various proven health benefits from antioxidant effects over anti-inflammatory effects to weight loss (and many more).

So, that's my supplementation plan (mabe you can use some of the information for your own plan).
What about you? Do you use any supplenments?

Cheers,
Andi

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Back in the Game - Up to a fit & healthy 2014!!!

Hey guys,

First of all I want to wish you and your families and friends a happy, healthy and successful new year!!!

Some time has passed since I wrote the last article at my blog...sorry for that!
Due to some work and some health related issues and a lack of motivation I could neither train hard nor write articles for the blog (I just lacked the time to write). And my nutrition was horrible as well with a lot of fast food and sweets...

Unfortunately I transformed from fit to fat during that time...Today it's time to end this unwanted process and restart again.

I'm going to post my progress in weight and other key figures every week from now on and I'll post my workouts as well, so that you can use parts of them to integrate into your own workout plans.

For the first quarterly period I aim to lose at least 33 lbs (15 kg) by using the Freeletics Bodyweight Strength Plan (I'll write more about it in the upcoming weeks) combined with some other elements (like Kettlebell workouts and HIIT).

Here are my starting measurements:
Weight: 210 lbs (95,2 kg)
Abdominal Circumference: 37,8 inches (96 cm)
Chest Circumference: 41 inches (104 cm)
Shoulder Breadth: 19,7 inches (50 cm)
Body Fat: 26,5 % (measured with a caliper)

Btw. I had less than 12% 4 months ago...how bad is that...

I don't have more time to write because I have to start working out and eating clean...;)

Cheers,
Andi