Friday, June 18, 2010


This week we had a couple of interesting workouts. On Friday afternoon, several of the Wood Street Warriors accepted my challenge to come out for a trail run. I’ve got a half mile loop through the woods and fields but this year I added a couple of twists: a really steep short hill down to the creek, and an extra stretch up around where the pond is going to be.

Their challenge was to run at least four laps around, with 10 body squats after the first lap, 15 body squats after the second, 20 after the third, and 25 after the fourth. If they really felt froggy, they could add a fifth lap and 30 body squats for a total of 100 squats and 3.75 miles. If they did a sixth lap, that would take the distance up to right around 4 ½ miles!

Trail running is quite a bit different than jogging on the road or even the treadmill. While the road is toughest on you, trail running is much easier on the feet and knees because the ground is softer and has some give to it.

It can be a little tricky though. You’ve got to really watch where you’re going so you don’t turn an ankle. Instead of long strides, you need to shorten your stride on uneven ground, and put your whole foot down deliberately.

But those adjustments also drive up the intensity of the work. Since the terrain is uneven, it takes more muscle control to keep your balance, which also works your core more. This makes it very good for your overall health and posture. In fact, my chiropractor is always telling people to go out and walk on uneven ground.

After the first lap, the gals knew they were in for something. The hills didn’t look that threatening, but because they kept coming at you, and were pretty steep, it drove up the intensity.

Once you got over the short hill, you got a short break before the next one kicked in, which made this yet another form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I told them the only real goal the whole time was to push up the hills. Try to really hit the hills hard.

The body squats in between laps further kicked up the intensity and combined with the hills made it quite a lower body workout. By the time they’d finished 4 laps, they’d done the equivalent of a 5 K run, plus all the hills and squats! The 5th lap was a walk/run lap, but by the time they’d walked half of it, they’d recovered enough to run the rest. Great job ladies!

Afterward, I scooted back to the center to work with the Biggest Losers and their own introduction to HIIT. Always an eye opener, HIIT training shows you that you can always do more than you think you can do.

After warming up on either the treadmill, bike or elliptical, they kicked up the intensity using Borg’s scale of Perceived Exertion. They took it up to what felt like about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is being in a coma and 10 is too hard to continue.

Working at what feels like a 5 or 6 is very low intensity, and a 7 is what feels like moderate intensity right in the middle of the cardio zone. When you get to what feels like an 8, it’s pretty serious—you don’t know how long you can keep it up.

Working at what feels like a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 is even harder. This is work that is so hard that you don’t know if you can keep going, even for a minute. Of course a 10 is so hard that you have to stop, so you don’t want to get quite that intense.

They did a minute at what felt like an 8, and then a minute where they backed off to recover. Then they kicked it up again by going faster, or raising the level on the machine. After another minute of recovery, we took it up to what felt like a 9.

Typically, they won’t really be working hard enough for it to really be a 9, so I had them do it again, only harder. This time, I could tell it really was a 9 because they were huffing and puffing and watching the clock to see when the minute was up!

After a minute to recover, they switched machines and tried the whole routine again. Finally, they switched machines again so they got to experience the whole thing on a treadmill, elliptical and recumbent bike. The idea was to show them that you can do HIIT anywhere, even out in the woods with hills like the Wood St. Warriors!

HIIT training burns many more calories than a traditional workout. Moderate exercise will burn around 5 calories a minute. If you push pretty hard, you can get that up to around 10 calories a minute.

With HIIT training, you can get as high as 15 calories a minute, but it also gives you a much longer after-burn, meaning you’ll continue to burn more calories even after the work is over. This is a great tool for them to use as they move into their third month of training. It’s often just the ticket to get you through a plateau!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Nicole Clodfelter, who lost 1.4% of her body weight and 3.6 lbs. This came after a week where she turned up her intensity quite a bit, running her second 5 K and taking nearly 5 minutes off her time!

Second place went to Michelle Clark who also ran a 5 K in just over 31 minutes. She was delighted that she was able to keep running the entire time! Michelle lost about 1.0% of her body weight and 1.4 lbs.

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