Aside

Super Bowl of “Back” Exercises

As one of my goals for 2015 is to master the pull-up, I was really pleased to see this article really break it down by muscle group. In just a few short weeks of practicing my pull-ups, I’ve already seen results in my back!

Don’t neglect your back! Work on deadlifts and pull-ups each once a week.

Super Bowl of “Back” Exercises.

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#FitRamadan move(s) of the day

We are now into the 2nd third of Ramadan, where we dip into our fat reserves. It’s hard. We are tired, we are grumpy, but we must not forget the beauty that Ramadan brings. The month of fasting is not meant to change our schedule, but rather change our hearts, and make us better human beings. These ten days are the days of forgiveness. For those who are continuing some semblance of an exercise routine during Ramadan, bravo! It’s not easy, is it? Here is a workout I did today, before I did light cardio (2 mile walk). Safe to say, I’m a little light headed at the moment 😀

Remember! If you are lifting weights, go lighter and add a set or increase repetitions.

This is a great set of exercises that incorporate pushing and pulling motions for the upper body. These moves require balance, which will challenge your core.

Aim for 3 sets of each

Upper Body Challenge - Intensify your training by engaging your coreBalancing bicep curl – 12 reps, each arm – raise one leg and flex your knee and perform the bicep curl. Complete the reps and switch sides

Tricep Extension  – 12 reps – with a dumbbell or resistance band (see video). Or you can perform skull crushers on a bench

Bent Over Row with weight plate – 12 reps – or you can use dumbbellsUpper Body Challenge - Intensify your training by engaging your core

Leaning One-Arm Side lateral raise – 12 reps, each arm – lateral raises work the front and middle deltoids

Forearms to Hands BOSU Plank – 10 reps, each arm (see pic) – if you don’t have a BOSU handy, you can easily perform this move from forearm plank to hand plank

Smith Machine Pull-up for 60 seconds, or 10 reps (see pic) – if you don’t have a Smith Machine at home (who does?) then take a resistance band shoulder height, and shoulder width apart and extend out, hold for 20 seconds, feeling the resistance.

(Photo credits from FitnessRx.com)

Video

#fitRamadan move of the day

#fitRamadan move of the day: http://youtu.be/2JW-mRL8cB0

Overhead tricep extension

Step on one end of the band, and ensure there is enough tension in the band to extend your hand up straight.

Bend your elbow so it is pointing up, you can use your other hand to support it up if need be.

Begin extending your arm up and lower for one repetition.

There should be enough tension in the band that it is challenging, but not too much that you cannot complete 8 reps easily.

Be sure to breath out on your extension (raising your arm up).

Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Move Every Day


Let’s do this! A great way to keep yourself moving in Ramadan is to break up your routine in little chunks. A tabata is a GREAT way to do that. In its truest form, a tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout* that you can knock out with an impact in as little as 4 minutes. What is HIIT? A HIIT session, such as a tabata, will start with a warm up, and move into 6 to 10 cycles of work and rest periods.  Advanced athletes will maintain a moderate level of intensity during the rest / recovery periods, while beginners can slow down or literally stop. The only thing you need to keep in mind is the 2:1 work:rest ratio, and you can create a tabata for anything. For example:

Jump rope tabata

Work: 20 seconds
Rest: 10 seconds

Repeat 7 more times for a total of 8 cycles (beginners can do 4-6, advanced can do 8-10). 

I’ve created bootcamps with tabata circuits, giving bootcampers the biggest bang for their buck. You can work multiple muscle groups with varying degrees of intensity. For example, after the jump rope tabata, you can move to an assortment of bodyweight exercises such as an air squat, a burpee, a mountain climber, crunches, even sprints! You can create a great circuit without any equipment!

Here is a photo from an outdoor fitness park in San Francisco. Hopefully it will conjure up some ideas to get you started on your first Ramadan tabata! Go easy and slow if a tabata is new to you, keep in mind your fitness level and what you will be capable of while fasting.

Do something small every day

Do something small every day

 

* Be sure to check with your physician before beginning any strenuous exercise program*

Be Fit for Ramadan

By Ayesha Akhtar, MPH, CPT

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous. (Surah Al-Baqarah: Verse183)

With Ramadan approaching in just a few weeks, many of you, like myself, are wondering how to maintain a level of fitness throughout the month of Ramadan, so as not to lose endurance and muscle tone (neither are completely true). Fear not! There are several habits you can adopt throughout your day, and can maybe even enhance the spiritual aspect of fasting by giving you a little extra energy here and there. I’ve share below some of my own lessons learned. Feel free to share your own!

For my readers who are not familiar with the logistics of Ramadan, allow me to share. Fasting for 30 days during the month of Ramadan (one month on the lunar calendar) is one of the five main pillars of Islam. This year, Ramadan begins at the end of June. Physically and mentally able Muslims (there are several exemptions) will fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food, water, smoking, and sex during those times. At sunset, it is tradition to break fast with a date, which is essentially a superfood, water and the company of others. It is such a beautiful time of togetherness and camaraderie. Many faiths participate in fasting on some level. The first few days are tough, then your body gets into a groove, the last 10 days are hard, knowing the end is near. It is a time for physical cleansing, and spiritual resetting. Many will attend the Mosque for prayers more often than, others prefer to stay at home. We end the month of Ramadan with Eid ul Fitr, a celebration lasting three days, with gift giving galore!  Continue reading

Race Recap: The party is over…

If you have ever been a part of planning a huge party or a wedding, then you get it. That empty feeling you have as the last guest leaves, and your heart swells up with joy and your mind is sorting through all the new memories you created. Maybe you are wondering, when will I see them again? It’s a dramatic sentiment, but it’s exactly how I am feeling now, post-triathlon. I feel like I said goodbye to a dear friend. One that I trained with for months and months. It kept me company every day and because it was new, every week was exciting. I loved the highs and lows of learning how to swim all over again. Oh, and the gear?? Buying a new swim suit after YEARS. Experimenting with goggles, paddles, flippers and buoys. Some things I never knew existed for the water before this year. The drama with my bike, wavering between, ‘will I like triathlons and if so should I buy a road bike’, or ‘Nah, I’ll just hybridize my mountain bike and deal with it’. I installed a bike computer and pedal cages which made me feel accomplished. I had the run covered, no sweat. But it was tricky learning how to successfully complete brick workouts from bike to run!

The 2014 Esprit de She Sprint Triathlon. Here’s how it went down.

The standard 4am wake up call: adrenaline woke up me and got me out of the house. I was in transition by 5:30am, set up all my gear as you can see below, and started eating my overnight oats. That was one of the smarter things I did that morning…

sweet bikes to my right and left...

sweet bikes to my right and left…

Then my fellow race pals and I decided to walk the T1 and T2 paths to familiarize ourselves with the course and stay warm. Transition would close at 6:45am, so by this point, we had about an hour. It was really great to walk around and see everyone’s transition setup, especially swoon over the elite bikes! That’s when it really hit me that my mountain bike with hybrid tires wasn’t going to cut it.

Before it all went down...

Before it all went down…

 

The 750 m Swim

Swallowed some EnergyBits tablets and it was time to head out. Grabbed my goggles and swim cap and we made our way. I had a mylar blanket to keep myself warm until my start time of 7:52 (Wave 14). In my mind I was thinking, I’ve got this! All I need to do is get into a groove and I’ll be set. I had NO IDEA what I was in for. For those of you who have done a triathlon, you know what I’m chaos I am referring to! A friend and fellow racer from my running club did warn me that it would take about 100-200m before my nerves would calm down / HR would come down. What I wish I had prepared for was that feeling of ‘HEY, is that woman trying to drown me?!?!’ Surely she is not, she is trying to do exactly the same as me, which is find some space and get into a groove. I was so anxious I had to flip on my back and swim backstroke for about a full lap. It’s simply very hard to swim well when you are constantly being kicked and smacked. No lane lines to see where you are going, you constantly have to look up. I kept trying to look out for my vista points but would lose them moments later. Maybe that’s just the beginner’s swim, and now it won’t happen again? I know I lost a LOT of time panicking and doing this. Despite the drama, my total time for the swim was 19 minutes.

T1: 4:58

Couple notes on T1. My bike was racked towards the end of the entry, so it was a long shuffle from the swim. Getting my bike off the rack – should have practiced after racking it in the morning. Lesson learned.

The 13.3 mile Bike

Got the bike off the rack, grabbed a fig bar, water bottle was already loaded but I FORGOT to add a Nuun tablet. And rushed out to mount. I had taped a Clif gel to my bike the night before so that would be my source of carbs for the ride. THE WIND WAS AWFUL. It was a double loop course so I thought I’d be safe on the way back since I was getting so much headwind, but no, not at all. Wind found me head on both ways, both times. Drank water every 5 miles, took the gel at mile 8. All I can say about the bike is that I was being passed up by mostly everyone and their mom and by the end if I heard someone say “On your left!!” one more time, I was going to S C R E A M! I made a point to pass up a few people and finished strong with a lousy 54 min.

T2: 3:37

Notes on T2. There is be no reason why this cannot be under 2-2 1/2 minutes. Especially because I was not wearing cycling shoes. Alas, I racked my bike, took off the helmet, grabbed the visor, Garmin but FORGOT my bib. I ran out, stepped on the timing belt and it wasn’t until a woman quickly called out ‘HEY you forgot your bib!!’. I ran back to transition and ran back out. So there’s my awful T2 time.

The 5k Run

The run was awesome! I got into a meditative groove right away, knowing it is my strength. However, the last race I did was the Soldier Field 10 mile and I cramped at mile 8. The cramping got me through the finish line until my legs started spasming so bad that I was wheeled into the medic tent. All I kept thinking about was thanking God for giving me the opportunity to race today, and to please keep my legs in check and let me just get through pain-free! And I did!! Also, I don’t race short distances so there was no time to complain 🙂 My average pace was 8:27 and my time was 26:15 (53/246). I will say one more thing, the finish line deceived me. There were two timing belts, placed about 20 m apart, I don’t know WHY I nearly stopped at the first one, until I heard a woman yell out to me to KEEP GOING (maybe the same one who said my bib was missing??). I have never ever done that in any race, so either fatigue set in or the race layout is all wrong 🙂

Overall

I know there was room for improvement in everything I did. And that’s the beauty of your first time, you create the framework from which to improve and make modifications. My overall time was 1:48. I planned for 1:45, mostly because it sounds like a really great number. Otherwise I have nothing to compare this to, so until I sign up for another sprint triathlon, which I will, I will happily take my beautiful medal and enjoy the fact that I set out to complete a triathlon, and now I can finally say, I’m a triathlete!!

Hopefully the first of many

Hopefully the first of many

 

Image

Cramp My Style

Cramp My Style

Why do I cramp on race day, and not the hundreds of miles I put on the pavement beforehand?

Competition.
Competition.
Competition.

What I have always loved about running is the competition. Against myself, not everyone else. I race to win, against myself. Around mile 8, I checked my Garmin and I knew I was going to beat my time from last year. So I asked myself, “Is this as fast as I can go right now?”, and kicked it up. My legs had other plans and my muscles weren’t having it. Muscle spasms, on both legs, down to my feet all the way through the finish line.

Competition. It’s a nasty beast, but character building. Life changing. I crossed the finish line and swore I would NEVER do it again, but here I am now, fondly enjoying my finish line picture (yes I will purchase it), dreaming about what I could have done differently. Maybe the cramping and post-race first aid experience wasn’t all *that* bad? (Yea, it was).

Until next year!

4/5ths of our strong Sunday Morning Running Club

4/5ths of our strong Sunday Morning Running Club