Friday, April 30, 2010

Big Rocks First - Cardio Training (Exercise Program #2)

Essential reading:  Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  The principles in this book are foundational for successful living.  One of the ideas from this book has to do with today's topic: cardio workouts.

The principle is this:  organize your schedule inserting the big rocks first.  The idea is that when you're looking at a schedule, agenda, priority list, etc. it's important to put the most important elements (big rocks) in first.  Then the little rocks (less important or even unimportant) fit it around the big rocks.  

You can see the application.  In my world of exercise, health and fitness the Big Rock is cardio.  I don't care how flexible you are.  I don't care how big your muscles are or how much you can bench press.  And I certainly don't care if you can do 125 sit-ups without stopping as you display your washboard six-pack abs.


What I care about is the health of your heart.  The cardio component is the Big Rock in your exercise program.  It's the most important aspect of your training that can never be neglected.   Why?  Because nothing compares to the health of your heart.  Your heart makes everything else work.  It pumps oxygen rich blood to muscles and living tissues of the body.  Your heart is the workhorse - why would you neglect it?

So what does a cardio workout look like?  First, a cardio workout should happen three days per week.  This may seem like a lot - it's almost every other day.  But that brings us to our second component - duration.  A cardio workout needs to be 20 minutes long to have any cardiovascular benefits.  Walking?  20 minutes.  On the bike? 20 minutes.  Running or jogging?  20 minutes.  Combination of theses?  20 minutes.

It's important to remember that every aspect of your exercise program should be seen as a progression towards something more challenging.  I'm not suggesting that you'll be running 90 minutes for seven days per week.  But I am insisting that you push yourself a little bit each month.  That's right, each month.  More later.

In review, a cardio workout is:

  • the Big Rock in your exercise program
  • should start at 20 minutes of activity
  • should happen three days per week

Simple, right?  Start with these guidelines or leave me a message in the comments section and we can discuss your fitness training.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with a friend via email, Twitter, or Facebook!

In our next post, we'll discuss strength training.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Creating an Exercise Program (Exercise Program 1)

This is my second series on creating an exercise program.  The first was called the J2K Fitness Challenge, and it centered around the principles and organizational structure of an exercise routine.  It discussed dealing with previous exercise failures, setting goals, keeping records, and bumps in the road.  Take a few minutes and review them as we continue this series.

Now it's time to get to the nuts and bolts of an exercise program.  Most likely this isn't the first time you've ever attempted an exercise routine.  There is no shortage programs out there.  So this is my take on the essentials.  Please use the comment section below or email me to make this an ongoing discussion.  Conversation is good.

An exercise program should consist of the following:

  • strength training - lifting weights (machine or free weights)
  • cardiovascular training - "cardio" i.e. running, biking, walking, paddling
  • stretching - muscle recovery, injury prevention
  • core training - the bridge to the body

Today we are setting up the design of the program.  I want you to write down how much time you'll spend on each component.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  You cannot do all components each day of the week.  Check that - you could, but you'll burn out, injure yourself, or actually decrease your results.

As a personal trainer, I consult individually with each client to understand their history and goals for their exercise program.  I'm happy to consult with you if you comment or email me.  But 95% of the time, here's what a typical exercise program looks like:

  • Cardio:  3-4 days per week
  • Strength:  2-3 days per week
  • Stretching:  after each cardio workout
  • Core:  3-5 days per week

I always start with cardio.  When push comes to shove, cardio must get done.  Cardio is what strengthens your heart and it's too important to put anywhere but first.  So start there.  I suggest M,W,F and a weekend cardio workout.

Then strength training gets worked in.  If you can do this opposite cardio days, you may find it more productive.  Then you're looking at T,R and maybe a weekend day.  This gets full on the schedule.  If you want to get two birds with one stone (trips to the gym) you can lift after a cardio workout.  More on the importance and details of a strength program on Friday.

Most of my clients are adults and none are getting younger.  Stretching is an essential component to a program and it is by far the most difficult one to remain faithful to.  As you begin your training, start with designating 5 minutes at the end of your cardio to stretch.  Five minutes will feel like an eternity, but it's actually a minimum and will most likely increase with experience and age.

Finally, core training cannot be ignored.  Think about those you know who have lower back problems.  Maybe it's you.  Core training is critical to maintain all the activities of daily living and to connect our cardio with our strength training.

Don't be nervous.  I know it seems like a lot but it becomes second-nature after a couple weeks.  And as always - progression is key.  If you start for two weeks and do just cardio - GREAT!  I promise we can work up from there.  That's really where the personal in personal training comes in, so for the third time, please feel free to contact me.

In review, go buy a 99-cent notebook and call it your Fitness Journal.  Take the first page and write down some thoughts of exercise programs of yester-year.  Then write your current situation and goals.  Then on page two make a calendar for yourself and plan out cardio, strength, stretching and core training.  Figure the following time-frames:

  • cardio - 20-30 minutes
  • strength:  15 minutes
  • stretching: 5 minutes
  • core: 10 minutes

Happy Training!  See you in the comments section.  And please feel free to share this post and series with your friends via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birth Announcement: Norah Katie

It is my joy and honor to announce that Katie gave birth to our second child, our first daughter Norah Katie Schiefelbein on April 22, 2010. Norah weighs 6lbs 14oz and is 19 inches long. Katie is doing great.

I write this post at 9pm from a pull-out couch in one of the birthing suites at Meriter Hospital. Katie has just fallen asleep with Norah resting on her chest. The two sleep together for the first time, mother and daughter. I reflect as I write. I am in awe and full of pride and joy.

Katie was due last Friday (April 16) and because she had a previous c-section, they wouldn't let her go more than a week past her due date. If any of you remember Sorin's birth, it was a scheduled c-section (breech) for 8am, but due to emergency c-sections we didn't go in until 4pm. It was a long, hard, stressful day. Today we were only 45 minutes behind schedule and everything went great.

Katie and I were in the operating room together just talking through her feelings and what pics and videos I was going to get. We were so calm. Katie did great. I am so proud of her getting another child healthy all the way through nine months of pregnancy.

When I tell the story, I talk about this being our second c-section. We had a huge advantage and blessing to be able to process everything happening and soak it all it. The meds went in well and we waited at the end of the bed together. My camera in hand, I filmed our baby girl entering the world and we both couldn't hold it back. They brought her around the curtain and I filmed the whole thing. They brought Norah right next to Katie's face as she lay on the table and we had a wonderful moment together. It was a powerful moment, and I'm proud that our love is loud.

Family came to visit and it was a great day. We're tired. We're full of joy and anticipation for this new life with our new addition, a daughter - Norah Katie.

Here's a few pictures. Of course many more to follow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Creating a Fitness Routine Part 5 - Putting it all together

I hope you've enjoyed my series on creating a fitness routine.  I truly hope you've learned something or taken some time to reflect on your exercise routine or habits and have been able to implement something from this series.

Here's where we've been with the J2K Challenge.  We've all failed at fitness at one time or another (or even more times than not).  So the challenge is to identify those shortcomings and move forward - failure will lead to success.

After we critiqued our failures, we compiled some goals, but not just any goal - S.M.A.R.T. goals.  Then we discussed how we'd keep ourselves organized.  I wrote about keeping good records and gave some examples of different ways to monitor your workouts, mostly online.

From there we realized people were starting to implement their new exercise program but the inevitable always shows up - distractions and changes in the schedule.  So we talked about making adjustments to your plan so that you can stay on track and move towards your goals.

Have you noticed that I haven't talked about exercises specifically?  There's a couple reasons for this.

  1. I'm establishing a framework for a fitness routine before I discuss the details.
  2. I have to establish an audience before I get into specific exercise recommendations.  
  3. I didn't know quite what to expect with a series and I've used this as a learning experience.
Now as I write this, I'm already a week past my self-imposed deadline for finishing this series.  If it seems like it's coming to an abrupt end, that's because it is.  But the story is not over.

I'll be taking feedback from this series and launching a new series within a week.  Of course most of you know Katie and I are expecting our second baby any day now.  So depending on that arrival and our sleep patterns (or lack thereof) you can look forward to that series.  

Please give me your feedback in the comments below.  Bloggers relay very heavily on those comments.  Also, if you feel like you know someone who would benefit from or enjoy this information, please subscribe their email to my list.  Just kidding (it wouldn't work anyway).  But seriously, if you would be so kind as to pass this blog on to a couple people I'd enjoy the additional conversations.  Thanks.

So to put it all together, I encourage you to do just that - read over the 5-part series which will take you about 15 minutes.  Reflect on some of the things I've talked about and make a plan for yourself.  If you're interested in some personal training or some accountability, I'm available in the comments section.  Post your email and we'll go from there.

Thanks for joining me in the J2K Challenge.  Get outside, be fit, and join me for the next series on the specific components of an exercise program.

Monday, April 12, 2010

They weren't supposed to be here

Success has been described as where preparation meets opportunity.  Preparation is the hard work.  It often goes unnoticed.  At least until success makes everyone notice all your hard work.  Take for instance this year's NCAA mens basketball tournament.  What a great tradition in sports.  64 teams earn the right to be in a tournament that determines the National Champion.

Does any team prepare more than the others?  Probably not.  I think if you looked at the work ethic off all 64 teams, you'd find more similarities than differences.  But that doesn't mean all the teams are the same; certainly they are not.  Evidence of this is seen on Selection Sunday when the brackets are announced, seeds #1-16 are matched up to formulate the tournament.

All the teams prepare.  All the teams have an opportunity.  But success will most often fall to the team with the best preparation, rather than the one with the best opportunity.

This was demonstrated very clearly this year as the talking heads debated which team was the strongest of the #1's (seed) and which was the most vulnerable.  Do you remember who was picked to win the tournament?  This year it was Kansas or Kentucky.  Most agreed they were the most balanced and most skilled teams in the tournament.  And which team was most vulnerable?  Which team was most likely to go down before reaching the Final Four?  Duke.

Where preparation meets opportunity.  Duke was not supposed to make the Final Four.  Their team this year was constantly being compared to the Duke teams that have dominated the tournament the last 15 years.  This wasn't really up for debate.  Compared to previous Duke teams and compared to the rest of the field, Duke was having a down year.  But as the tournament progressed, our two factors - preparation and opportunity - began to play a significant role.

Duke will always be prepared.  Their coach, the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, is one of the basketball's brilliant minds and leaders.  He may go down as the best of all time.  He's the best in the nation right now, which is why he's also the coach of the national team.

Opportunity arose when the two dominant teams, Kansas and Kentucky, lost in the 2nd and 4th rounds respectively.

Duke wasn't supposed to be in the discussion.  Not this year.  Not with this team.  But they they prepared for excellence with the players they had and they maximized their opportunity when opponents went down.  The result was a National Championship.

According to comparison with other teams and commentary be "experts", Duke wasn't supposed to be a major contender.  I wonder what I'm not supposed to be doing because I can't compare to the Kansas' or Kentucky's of the world.  I wonder what opportunities might present themselves if I prepare for excellence like this year's Duke team prepared for excellence.

And you?  What game do you have no business being in?  Where are you so out of your league that the big dogs are going to destroy you?

Duke prepared so that when the opportunity presented itself, they were prepared for success.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Some Reading Material

One of my biggest frustrations is not being able to find time to read all the good stuff I come across on a daily basis.  First, of course, are the books I have going.  As I mentioned back in December, my reading list is long.  Currently I'm getting back into Principle of the Path so I can get a family book club blog back up and running again.  I've also started to read Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer.  But as I mentioned earlier in the week, the GRE has been my main text for the last few weeks.

So there's the books, but then there's the internet.  Critics will have a field day with this, but Twitter has put a huge burden on my reading list.  I follow some pretty smart and compelling people on Twitter - you should too.  And I don't want to hear that you don't have time b/c it's as much or as little as you make it.  Sure, I'm kind of complaining about Twitter adding to my reading list.  But I'd rather take time to sort through the stuff than not be connected like I am.  Anyway, Twitter feeds me with articles about blogging, fitness, news, and leadership which I all find completely fascinating.

What about you?  What are you reading?  Do you have a regular source for keeping up with the world or your personal interests?  Of course I'd recommend finding some interesting people on Twitter.  Tell me your interests and I'll try to point you towards some smart people.

Blogs are also great for finding good stories.  Recently I came across two great posts I want to share with you.  The first is from Spence Smith who works for Compassion International and has a great blog.  This article is called Leaders Who Blog Engage Their Audience is a great argument for why leaders should blog and the influence they can experience.  Look around Spence's website for other articles -  I read him every week.

If blogging and leadership aren't your thing I've got a compelling story for you.  Katie found this blog from a friend of hers and I'll give you three guarantees: (1) you will see beautiful photography and excellent writing, (2) it's a long read (3) you will thank me for pointing you to this when you're done.  If it doesn't affect you, check your pulse.  Enjoy the story of Nella.

Most of my readers know I'm really into social media - blogging, Twitter, Facebook.  The whole point of social media is to be social.  So I'm sharing what I'm reading.

Do you have anything to share with me?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hiatus, the return

Hiatus: recess, break, a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, action, etc.

I'm just coming of a few weeks of being immersed in study - I took the GRE yesterday and prep for that has consumed me until now. So this blog post will be me essentially catching everyone up to speed on my life. If that's not compelling enough, just think of our little girl who is about to be born in the next couple weeks. Do I have your attention now? Good, because she's worth it.

So's my wife. Katie has been through her second pregnancy and is doing extremely well. Until last night. The discomfort and anxiety is starting to compound. I'm trying to be especially disciplined to put all things "Hans" aside so that I can do as much for her and Sorin as possible.

We are so excited about the impending birth of our first girl. How do you even write about this? I guess that will come the week she does! Katie's hoping that's sooner than later.

I had a rain day today, and it's a Tuesday so I was able to take Sorin to the library for Story Time. It's a wonderful thing to watch him interact with the other kids. His facial expressions are so different that when he's around the house. I cannot wait to see his reaction to our little girl.

The GRE was pretty tough, but I'm happy with my score and will see if it's enough to get me into grad school. It was good to be back studying again - I miss academia. My plan is to pursue a Masters Degree in Physical Activity Epidemiology.

That's it. I basically wrote this b/c I haven't touched base here in a few weeks. I've been itching to write but haven't had the time.

Have you checked out my latest series on Creating a Fitness Routine? It's called the J2K Fitness Challenge and it's based on the idea that we continually fail at exercise programs ("we", not "you" -- I'm in this too). Please take a few minutes to read the 4-part series. I'll be writing the fifth and final installment this weekend, that is if we aren't welcoming our little girl into the world!!