HIIT vs. Steady State Cardio
For many years individuals have steered away from high intensity cardio because of the thought that it would break down muscle tissue to fuel the exercise. If you asked me, that wouldn’t be fun at all.
Which Burns More Calories?
While lower-intensity cardio has been shown to burn a higher percentage of calories from fat, your body burns fewer calories overall. That means that to burn as many calories as High-intensity interval training (HIIT), one would have to train for a considerably longer time. In this day and age, most individuals barely have enough time to fit in 60 minutes of resistance training, let alone another 60 minutes of cardio.
The real secret of cardio lies in the number of calories you burn, not during the workout, but during the rest of the day. Metabolism is a beautiful thing when it is working in your favor.
What About the Science Behind HIIT?
HIIT is a form of cardio that involves short intervals of high-intensity training (such as sprints) combined with “rest” intervals of low-intensity activity such as walking at a slow pace. Compared to typical steady-state cardio sessions that last anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, HIIT is a drastic contrast.
A study in Australia (Trapp, 2008) reported that females who followed a HIIT program for 20 minutes burned 6 times more fat as compared to a group of women who performed 40 minutes of steady-state cardio at 60 percent of their maximum heart rate. The greatest advantage of HIIT has been found to be the increased metabolic rate after a workout.
But Where Should I Begin?
Being a part of George Mason University’s Recreation facilities gives you access to Personal Trainers that are here to help you meet your goals. Stop by the office located over at the GMU Aquatic and Fitness Center to learn how to start your fitness journey today!
Article by: Cullen Guthrie (NASM Certified Personal Trainer)
Diary Of A Happy Yogi: Namaste
By: Ashley Whimpey
The practiced students hum the word in return, “namaste.” A few of the newbies mumble it a beat too late and glance around uncertain.
It means, “the light in me, honors the light in you.” Namaste stems from ancient sanskrit. Sanskrit is an Indian language primarily acknowledged in the West from yogic practices. Traditional yoga practiced in the West originated in India, and many of the names of foundational practices have a Sanskrit translation. For example the final resting pose in class, Corpse Pose, translates from savasana. Asana translates into pose, so literally sava, “corpse” + asana “pose.”
Namaste does not end with asana, however. It does have a pose associated with it – Pranamasana,a gesture over the heart with the hands together, translating to “complete” (pra) “salutation” (nam) “pose” (asana). Namaste comes from “respect, to bow, obeisance, and reverential salutation” (namas) and “to you” (te). Thus the literal translation becomes, I bow to you.
When taken into a practice or used in greeting, the meaning shaped by the gesture and word indicate an acknowledgement of the good in the first seeing the good in the second. A teacher saying it to a student then acknowledges the good in their own self, and how it sees and appreciates the good in the student.
Often mythical traditions refer to this good as a golden being. The being radiates kindness, and a sort of glow. This develops into the signifier of light. Thus, “the light in me, honors and sees the light in you,” is also another very common understanding of the word.
Namaste is used to close classes, as a signal that the time together for the moment has ended, and a request that the students go forth to use their renewed light to shine for others as well. It’s a reminder mindfulness and meditation practices are not meant to be insular forever, and instead are intended to provide refuge so that we might continue to see one another and grow a more compassionate and effective world.
Oxford English Dictionary, Draft Revision June 2010.
Chopra, Deepak (2007). Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-087881-8.
Yoga Heals Us (2007). “Yoga Philosophy – Namaste”. Yoga Heals Us. Retrieved on February 24, 2017.
Dass, Ram (1976). Grist For The Mill. Unity Press.
Finnegan, Dave (1993). Zen of Juggling. Jugglebug. ISBN 9780961552152.
Diaries Of A Happy Yogi: Sockin’ It To Your Practice
By: Ashley Whimpey
This little piggy had socks on, this little piggy had none. This little piggy started slipping, and this little piggy felt strong. While in a gym setting it’s a safety requirement for all parties involved that shoes be worn, and toes be covered, in a yoga class it’s better to go barefoot. All other areas of the gym are fraught with dangers of dropped weights and crushed phalanges. In a yoga studio the only weight is your body weight, and that’s weighing on your feet already.
I always grin at the new comer’s hesitation to remove their shoes and socks in class. It’s an easily understandable hesitation with a cultural standard to not have bare feet waltzing around in public. Gently, I ask if they please at least consider removing their foot coverings.
The first reason for this is entirely practical. Socked feet slip on even mats with the most grip. The worry about holding a strong pose causes undue tension in the muscles and can lead to fatigue without much growth. When the body doesn’t feel safe it will hold back. If you’re really concerned about flashing your feet or revealing your toes, remind yourself everyone is going barefoot, or at least try and wear half socks that cover only a portion of your feet. If you’re willing to do extra laundry and spend a little cash, you can invest in some gripping socks specifically designed for grip.
The next reason has much more to do with the practice itself. The mind body connection yoga offers as a contemplative practice comes in part from being grounded. A physical barrier prevents that from deepening – even with as little as a pair of socks. In highly traditional settings, removing the socks is also a sign of respect. In a sense it’s a vulnerability – something highly encouraged in many mindfulness traditions. Opening up allows actual personal growth and a sort of soul soothing wholeness. To a more skeptical mind, it might appear quite a leap to move from bare feet to an argument of complete wholeness. They certainly wouldn’t be wrong, instead I’m trying to get at the willingness to come to a practice as your whole self. Being (sockless and all) allows for gentle practice to come as your whole self to all of your life.
Finally, going barefoot builds stronger feet. Perhaps not callouses that will allow for hot coal sprinting later, rather the muscles and control which shoes inhibit. With continuous practice in balance postures, pointing and flexing the feet, and rolling over the toes, the feet get stronger. A literal fundamental of walking, running, and every day activity, feet make an essential base point.
In your next mat session, roll in and peel off the socks.
Cozen, D. M. (2000). Use of Pilates in Foot and Ankle Rehabilitation. Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review, 8(4), 395-403.
Diary of a Fit Patriot: Ladies—We Need to Strength Train!
Ladies—it’s a simple fact. We NEED to strength train. A basic strength training program will not make you bulky. I repeat, it will not make you bulky. You will not look like a body builder unless you are specifically trying to do so, which takes a regimented training program and diet. Yes, your clothes might feel a little tighter in the beginning while you’re building muscle and starting to lose fat, but if you strength train, get your cardio in, and have a healthful diet, you increase your potential to lose the fat. Either way, the beauty of who you are will beam through.
I am challenging you to strength train. Last month, almost twice as many males as females used our strength training machines. That’s alarming, but even more alarming, six times as many males as females used free weights (dumbbells and barbells) in our facilities. Strength training machines are a great place to start. Get a free equipment orientation to learn how to use the machines correctly then start lifting. Once you feel comfortable on the machines and learn proper lifting technique, go for it with the free weights. I understand that it can be intimidating to use the free weights around the guys, but grab a friend and give it a try—there’s safety in numbers, right? The guys might even think it’s pretty cool that you’re there. If you still don’t want to go on the weight floor, try the free weights in the AFC stretch room or the RAC and Skyline upstairs areas. These areas usually are less crowded but have the weights you need. You also can use weights in the AFC group exercise room if it isn’t being used by a fitness class.
Speaking of fitness classes, we offer group strength training classes, which are a great place to learn how to use free weights safely. Totally Sculpt is all strength. Boot Camp, Total Body Conditioning (TBC), Cardio Sculpt, and Zumba Toning offer strength combined with cardio in one neat package. In the same month mentioned above, women outnumbered men in strength classes more than 14 to 1, which shows you there is a comfortable place for women to lift. Schedules are posted on our website.
Why am I harping on this? Body composition, which is the makeup of the body in terms of the relative percentage of fat free mass and body fat, is affected by strength training. A component of body composition is body fat percentage. A good range for a female to target for body fat percentage is 14 to 24%.
Science and personal experience show how important strength training is for women. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) Personal Trainer manual outlines the science behind how strength training increases overall physical capacity, improves body composition, raises resting metabolic rate resulting in more calories burned on a daily basis, reduces injury risk, and helps prevent disease. One of the examples they give shows that a woman who does not strength train loses about half a pound of muscle each year. This woman weighs 120 pounds with 20% body fat. Without strength training, 20 years later the same woman, still weighing 120 pounds, likely would increase in body fat to 28.3%, losing 10 pounds of muscle while gaining 10 pounds of fat. This same woman likely reduce her metabolism by 3-8% each of those two decades, which equals approximately 120 fewer calories burned at rest per day.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) states that women who strength train regularly can improve their health, reduce their risks of degenerative diseases, enhance sport performance, and develop good feelings about themselves. I don’t need science to know this last benefit is true. While increasing the weight of my barbell makes me feel good about myself, real life situations really make the difference. Telling the male employee at the sporting goods store “no thanks, I can carry these 25-pound dumbbells to the car myself” is empowering. Hearing the massage therapist say “wow you have strong back muscles” gives you a sense of accomplishment. And being strong enough to do the physical activities you love while staying injury free is a great way to live your life.
American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual, Fifth Edition, pages 327-330.
Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, National Strength and Conditioning Association, Third Edition, pages 152-153.
Diary of a Fit Patriot: Fitness Icons
By: Alison M. Hall
When you hear the words “fitness icon,” who do you think of? It probably depends on your age and interests. Here are 20 individuals who changed the face of the industry. If it weren’t for these people, the gym wouldn’t be the same. This list is by no means exhaustive, just 20 people who have made an impact in the industry. Click on each name for more information. How many of these icons have influenced you?
Joseph Pilates. His Contrology exercises have become what we call Pilates today.
Jack LaLane. In 1936, he opened one of the first modern health studios. He was a pioneer in fitness television, invented a variety of fitness equipment, and created many new exercises.
Richard Simmons. When he couldn’t find a gym in LA tailored for people who weren’t already in shape, he opened his own. He has starred in 65 fitness videos, had his own TV show, and even had a role on General Hospital as the aerobics instructor for 4 years.
Jane Fonda. She released her first video in 1982, and it still sells today. She was one of the first instructors to produce a work-at-home video and created many more throughout her career.
Denise Austin. She has been producing workout videos since the 80s. She believes in staying fit naturally and promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle.
Kathy Smith. Another veteran of home workout videos, she has been producing workouts for more than 30 years.
Arnold Schwarzenegger. From Mr. Olympia to the Terminator to the Governor, he has always promoted fitness. He continues to work with children’s fitness and Special Olympics.
Cathe Friedrich. She pioneered advanced home workout videos. She stays at the forefront of home workout video technology, with features like a workout blender to mix and match chapters from her workouts. She also offers an online subscription service to live classes at her gym.
Judi Sheppard Missett. The creator of Jazzercise, she continues to work for the company keeping the workouts fresh and up-to-date.
Billy Blanks. He brought kickboxing to the top of fitness when he created Tae Bo. He also travels the world training U.S. Armed Forces.
Tony Horton. Star of the P90X videos, Tony Horton went from celebrity trainer to household name. He also is an author and motivational speaker.
Jillian Michaels. Most people know of her from The Biggest Loser TV show, but she also has videos, books, and a new reality show.
Bob Harper. The former Biggest Loser trainer most recently hosted the show. He has videos and online training programs too.
Shaun T. He’s the star of a variety of workout videos from Hip Hop Abs to Insanity. Now he has a TV show too as he continues to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Tracy Anderson. She’s famous for her “Method” and training celebrities. She also has many home workouts available.
Alberto “Beto” Perez. He’s the founder of Zumba, which he did by accident when he forgot his normal group fitness music. He put on some Latin music he had in his backpack, and the rest is history.
Rodney Yee. This yoga master travels the world learning and teaching. He has many home videos.
Jonathan “Johnny G” Goldberg. He came up with the idea of creating outdoor riding plans indoors when the weather was bad. From there, he invented Spinning.
Gilad Janklowicz. Star of Bodies in Motion in the early days of ESPN, Gilad brought beach fitness to our TVs. He continues to produce home workout videos, still on the beaches of Hawaii.
Mindy Mylrea. She invented the little purple Gliding Discs. She’s an aerobics champion who still brings her amazing energy everywhere she goes.
Diary of a Fit Patriot: Exercising When You Can—Not Necessarily When You Want
By: Alison M. Hall
Many of us have a favorite time of day to exercise. For me, it’s early morning. I wasn’t always this way, but now I get my best workouts in when I start before sunrise, and I love teaching my 6:15am cycle class. I know others only can exercise at night. They use the energy from the day—positive or negative—to push themselves through. Still others love a good lunchtime workout. It resets them to get through the second half of the day. What happens when you can’t exercise at your favorite time of day? Do you skip the workout? Hopefully not. Hopefully you find a way to make another time of day work for you.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “attitude is everything.” In this case, it really is. Try to adjust your attitude toward exercising at a different time of day. Be thankful you have any time to exercise and embrace the time you have. If you’re an evening exerciser but have to get up early to get the workout in, try to focus on your favorite type of exercise during that session. It’s easier to get up for something you like. If you don’t trust yourself to get up, recruit a friend to join you. If you only have an hour to squeeze in your workout (and shower and travel to and from the gym) at lunchtime, go for a shorter, higher intensity workout. It can be good to shake up your intensity anyways. If you’re like me and have no energy at the end of the day, but you only have time to exercise then, try a fitness class. The energy of the group will help keep you going through the end of class.
Sometimes none of the above is possible. For example, you hate leg day but leg day falls on a day you have to get up early and your friends all laugh when you ask them to get up at 5:30am to work out. Or your evening cycle class is full by the time you get there so you have to ride a bike in the cardio gallery on your own. Just try it once. You might hate it—you might even feel like it was your worst workout ever—but at least you did something good for yourself. If it doesn’t work, try something different next time. However, it just might work, you just might find you like something different, and you just might have a positive experience you never thought possible.
Diary of a Fit Patriot: Backpack, Backpack!
By: Alison M. Hall
Having a Dora the Explorer flashback? Dora carried that purple backpack everywhere, and it didn’t seem to hurt her back. But how about your backpack? According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 14,000 students suffered from injuries caused by backpack use in 2013. The American Chiropractic Association gives tips for safe backpack use.
- Make sure your backpack fits you correctly. It should not be wider than your torso, and it should not hang more than 4 inches below your waistline. If your backpack hangs too low, it increases the weight on your shoulders and can cause you to lean forward when walking. Shoulder straps should be adjustable and set so your backpack is in the middle of your back.
- Your backpack should have 2 wide padded shoulder straps. Unpadded straps can place pressure on your neck and shoulders. Wear your backpack on both shoulders. Please! Wearing it on one shoulder causes one shoulder to drop lower than the other. This can lead to neck and muscle spasms and lower back pain.
- Choose a backpack with a padded back. It is more comfortable, and it helps keep any books or supplies from poking you in the back.
- Your backpack should have multiple compartments. This way your contents are positioned most effectively. Try to place the heaviest items closer to your body, and place pointy items away from your back.
- Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” about anything heavy. If it fits your schedule, it’s worth it to make that extra trip to your car or dorm to switch out heavy books.
If you feel you do have back or postural damage from your backpack, try the following stretching and strengthening exercises.
- Cat to cow: start on hands and knees. Pull your navel in and tip your pelvis first then round your back. Then drop your pelvis to slightly arch your back.
- Neck stretch: Gently drop your left ear to your left shoulder while dropping your right shoulder away from your right ear. Hold 10-15 seconds then switch sides.
- Strengthen your entire core. Your core is not just your abs—remember to strengthen your back too.
Follow these tips, and you can do your “We Did It” happy dance just like Dora. Or just have a healthy back. It’s really up to you.
ACA’s Backpack Safety Checklist, American Chiropractic Association, www.acatoday.org
Bad News About Backpacks, IDEA Fitness Journal, October 2015, Vol. 12, no. 9, p14