Holy HIIT!!!

Cardio is always a part of my overall training plan, but it is something that has been strategic and used with a purpose. I have never been part of the “more is better” thinking, doing hours upon hours of cardio each week just to “lose weight”.  Rather, I want to use cardio to burn fat, but how much and what kind is determined by the larger picture of nutrition, training, and also my goals at the time.

Often, hiit (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio is included in my cardio plans.  These are short, but intense sessions that are very taxing with great after benefits in terms of fat burn.  However, I use these wisely as I do not want them to interfere with my gym workouts.  There is a place for both HIIT and for more lower intensity cardio routines in an overall cardio training plan.  I have used various methods for my hiit training – treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, tracks, stairs, and some bodyweight tabata-style stuff as well.

Since the fall, I began using a jump rope routine I had searched online to start some hiit training.  I had used it twice a week, about 17-23 minutes each time. As I became more adept at using the jump rope and doing various moves, I would change up the routine to make it more challenging and still continue to push myself.

Over the past month, I have taken on two new challenges hill sprints and prowler sled pushes.  Both of these have been demanding and as much as I hate thinking about doing them, I absolutely love it when they are done.  I love the challenge and pushing myself each and every time.  The battle is as much mental as it is physical and the workout is unreal.  There is a great hill in a park near my house, which serves as a popular sledding hill in winter.  For these I charge up the hill as fast as I can, and then walk/jog/bounce my way back down, careful not to fall on my face.  Moving down the hill is my resting period and as soon as I hit the bottom, I race back up for the next round.  I have only used the prowler sled once so far, but for this one, it was a similar routine.  Push the sled down a length of pavement and back, and that was one round.  Rest while a partner pushed the sled and once the sled came back, it was go time again for the next round.

In both workouts, I was not sure what to expect before I started, but I knew what I had hoped to accomplish in the end. I wanted to be pushed physically in terms of conditioning, heart rate, and to be breathing hard/gasping by the end.  I knew the session would be over when I could not do another round with any such intensity to the point where my running was now walking and even that was slow.  In the end, I hit those goals and with each following workout the goal is to push out more rounds that last time.

If you want something you have never had, you must do something you have never done.  I am continuing to find new ways to push myself and improve in order to become better than ever before.  ~ Rise and Conquer! wp-1467208087761.jpg wp-1467208108811.jpg

If You Want What You’ve Never Had, You Must Do What You’ve Never Done

That title quote has been the leading principle for the past year and a half after stepping off stage at the DFAC Worlds in 2014.  I wanted to work with the feedback I got after that competition from the judges in order to be even better and out do my previous best on stage, the next time I compete.  This didn’t mean abandoning everything we had done in the past, but I knew I would need to do some things I have never done in order to push myself further and harder.

We began training at a 2 different gyms.  That gave us, new and different equipment and opened up a whole new aspect to our training.  With every training program since then, I have been able to incorporate new exercises we have never done, equipment we have never used before, all aimed at improving and pushing myself to be better than I was.

Having just completed the third week of this training program, I feel great and am enjoying the newer exercises.  At this point, the form and motion of each one has settled in and we are beginning to push the weight and intensity on those to get the most out of every set.  It is a great feeling as not only does my confidence build with each workout, but also as it adds to the mindset of wanting to push limits and see how far I can take each and every set in terms of reps, weight, or just going until failure.  Having never done some of these before there is no gauge as to how light or heavy I can go  – it’s all relative at this point. There is great momentum each week as the progress continues.  This past week was no different and I am already thinking about how to make this coming week that much harder and more challenging. It is time to raise the bar yet again!

Neurotic or Disciplined? Or both! Maintaining my goals while I was at the Arnold Sports Festival

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When I headed down to the Arnold Sports Festival, I knew I was not going to let it be a free for all weekend.  I had a plan and very meticulously laid out every aspect of that plan so that nothing was left to chance.  If I were not going to the Arnold that weekend I would have had my meals planned out and prepped ahead of time, got in 2 workouts and one cardio session.  Just because I would be driving 6 hours away, was no excuse to expect anything less than and so I was sticking to my plan to ensure nothing was different while I was there.

This wasn’t just a weekend thing. This is all part of a plan that started when I stepped off stage in Miami in 2014.  I knew then I would return to Miami in 2016 improved and better than my best ever.  The feedback I got then from the judges and others were invaluable and what shaped my plans that would lead me to this point.  When I was packing for the Arnold, I was 34 weeks out from heading back to the stage in Miami to stand with some of the best natural pro bodybuilders in the world and fight for that World title.

I packed and prepped 24 meals – 6 for each day, including my protein powders and pre and post lifting shakes.  I knew ahead of time that the hotel room would have a refrigerator and microwave – both would be a huge help while I was there.  For the drive down I packed all my meals in a large cooler and then filled it with ice.  While I was heading down there by myself, I did not know if the opportunity would arise to join friends and other people I met for dinner or a meal here and there.  If that did occur I knew I could go out to eat and stay close to my macros, but I still packed every meal in case I did not go to any restaurants while I was there.  For me, it is better to be prepared and flexible enough to make adjustments, rather than have to scramble last minute or be caught empty handed.

I eat on a schedule about every 3 hours or so.  It works for me and so I knew I would continue to do that even while taking in all the sights and events of the Arnold.  This too took some planning.  I knew there were people I wanted to see, booths I wanted to visit, and events that I wanted to be at.  I laid all of this out ahead of time and then blocked off the times for these things and made my meal times work within them.  Like clockwork, I would end up back in my hotel room eating my meal, drinking another quart or two of water (to keep that on track too) and then would resume the next part of my day.

I packed my gym bag because I knew I needed to get in the back and biceps workout while I was there.  To that end I researched gyms I could walk to from my hotel and found the Powerhouse Gym was about a 5 minute walk. However, I knew that if the gym was walking distance for me it was walking distance for many others and most likely would be packed.  So I planned to go to the gym during the day on Friday when most people were in the fitness Expo and hopefully not in the gym.  That strategy worked.  After spending the morning at the Expo, I left there for a bit to go and get in a workout.  The gym was fairly empty and just started to fill up as I was leaving.  I got back to the hotel to change and clean up and then head back to the Expo to watch the Strongman competition. I didn’t miss a beat.

The hotel also had a small fitness room which would be good enough to get in my cardio workout on Saturday morning.  I set the alarm and got down there early to get it done before starting another full day of events.  

Over the course of the weekend I was able to hit every meal, meet my water intake for the day, get in my gym workout and also my cardio session and still do everything I set out to do at the Arnold Sports Festival.

Sunday was another well planned day as I was not only driving the 6 hours back home, but also driving right to the gym to get in a workout with Pete – our Sunday leg day workout!  Again, I had to pack a few meals to eat on the way and had my workout shakes and clothes ready to go.  It sounds a bit nuts but it all worked as smooth as can be and we got that workout in too. This level of discipline and attention to detail has been in place for quite some time and so a few days away was not enough to throw me off of my plan. My goals may be far off, but they are closer now than they were over a year ago. It is all part of the process.  The weekend was a success and the journey continues.

 

 

Crushing the Unknown with Action!

Over this past year of training we have been repeatedly and purposefully getting out of our comfort zone.  By simply switching gyms, we suddenly had access to a variety of different equipment that we did not have before and were now able to incorporate into our training plans.  This meant being a beginner once again.  While it sometimes seemed silly, being a beginner again was a great thing.  Starting something new is great, and it makes us even more dynamic.  This was the case for me again this past weekend.

I have lucked out this winter in doing my cardio in the garage.  I have found a high intensity interval jump rope routine that after some practice, I have become pretty decent at.   I am able to push my heart rate up into that 85%+ zone each time and am left completely spent at the end of it.  I was hitting that routine twice per week the past few months and pushing myself harder each time.  That was until this past weekend when the temperatures alone were hitting below zero, so I knew getting out in the garage for my scheduled HIIT sessions were temporarily not an option.

I did not want to resort to a lower intensity session, so I decided I was going to push out of my comfort zone – again.  I have a treadmill in the basement.  It is a small home version and I have used it before when doing lower intensity, longer duration cardio sessions, and after adjusting the tension on the belt and tightening everything on it, it does the job when needed.  I didn’t want to walk/jog on it this time, so I committed myself to doing sprints.  Now I don’t run, let alone sprint, and I certainly have never done that on a treadmill.  But this is what I set out to do.

Being this was the first time, I was attentive to my mindset.  I questioned everything before I began.  I wondered if the treadmill would hold up.  I wondered if I could even run on the thing without falling off.  I wasn’t sure how fast I could go, or even how fast the treadmill could go.  Despite my hesitations I got on the treadmill and started walking.  I will tell you I took a longer warm up than I needed, simply because I was having doubts about doing this and if I would injure myself.  Again, I am not a runner, so the idea of running fast, increases my anxiety about pulling or straining something.  I worked up to a jog and then when I was ready, I just went for it.  I turned up the speed to what I thought might work and ran to keep up with it.  It wasn’t too bad, so I ran for a minute.  My plan was to do 30 second sprints, so after a recovery period, I sprinted again at a greater speed.  I continued this until I was not able to sprint again and considered this adventure a success.

That wasn’t the greatest part.  The best part came yesterday. It had been 2 days and I wanted to get in cardio again.  I woke up determined to do sprints again.  This is where the beauty of all of this comes in.  My mindset was completely different.  There were no jitters.  I knew it was going to be hard. I knew by the end I would not be able to breathe, but that is kind of the end result every time I do HIIT.  It’s great.  I hate it when I am doing it, but I still push to do more than I thought I could and when it is over, it is the greatest thing ever.  I got on the treadmill and began warming up. I was loving the transformation of my mindset.  Even though I had only done this once, I was much more aware of what I was doing, how I was going to improve and accomplish today’s workout, and convinced of the fact that I would conquer this workout.  And I did.  I had better  and more precise intervals. I ran at a faster pace than I did just 2 days earlier.  I ran one more sprint than I did last time. I was completely out of breath and energy when it was over and I loved every minute of it.

My point is you cannot improve on something until you start.  You must take that risk, take the action and break the unknown.  Once you do, suddenly you have experience to build from.  You can know what to expect, because you have already done it once.  You can decide how to improve, because you now have the experience of knowing how things went the first time.  You can figure out why.  You have a better plan moving forward.  But it all starts after you put your thoughts, your plans, your goals into action.  Thinking about it is no longer enough.  Letting fear hold you back is not a good enough excuse.  Decide. Commit. Act.  With just one action, the walls of the unknown come down, most of your doubts are gone, because they never really existed anyway except in your head, and now you suddenly can proceed with confidence and calculate a better second step, your next action.

 

The New Year Ain’t Nothing

It is almost one week in to the New Year.  Pete and I are starting week two of our newest training program and if week one was any indication, week 2 is going to be brutal and so is each week after this.  How are we starting week 2 before week one of the new year is even here?  Simple, we didn’t wait to start our new program when the calendar turned the page.  Nothing magical happened after the ball dropped in NYC.  We had goals and a schedule and after a week or so off from our last program our next lifting program was set to start before New Year’s Day.

Training at 2 new gyms this year has been a great asset in terms of having new and diverse equipment to use and add to our exercise arsenal.  It has allowed us to become beginners again for certain exercises and equipment and go through the process of mastering something new over and over.   This cycle again has a few new exercises, and a few old ones we haven’t used in years.

With every program we aim to use completely different exercises than the last program, but also make it a point to work with movements that target the muscles from different angles, as well as different hand and foot positions.  But being a beginner affords a chance to feel the muscles in a different way, focus on the form of the movement and feel the full range of the movement.  When we first start, weight is never an issue or focus as the primary goal is from and feel.  It is a great feeling after so many years in the gym to be able to still find new exercises and be a complete beginner again.  Plus, it adds a new aspect to our training and makes for great workouts.

So tonight we begin, round 2!  I am fired up and can’t wait!

The Struggle, the process, and Success

We are capable of anything.  I firmly believe there is nothing we cannot accomplish when we set our mind to it and put our best plans into action.  However, that alone takes work.  There is much that goes into deciding where we focus our energy, how we carry out our plans and the actions required to accomplish the greatest of goals.  It is a process and this is where I am at right now.

Having a goals is sometimes the easy part.  Detailing the path to reach those goals is often the harder piece.  That is where I find myself at the moment.  I know the goals.  The goals are lofty, and long term.  They have been the driving force behind my actions, training, and nutrition for the past year.  As the details continue to evolve, I tend to reexamine the path and my plans to be sure I am doing all that I can and not leaving anything unturned.

To be honest, it is a process.  It takes some time.  It usually starts with some loose ends.  For me, it is the start of a new training cycle.  We just started a new program last week.  This means, new exercises, new rep ranges, adding in some exercises I have never done before so I get to be a beginner again, and also pairing different muscle groups together in each workout.  With that comes the questions… are these exercises good enough this time around?  Should I swap out certain exercises for others?  Am I working hard enough to produce the desired results?

With the workouts underway, I am feeling much more confident and comfortable with the new routine.  The movements seem more natural as I find the groove and can start zeroing in on the weights and rep ranges I want to hit.  This turns my attention to the other components of my goal  – how is my nutrition and what type of cardio do I need to do at this time.

I eat on a plan.  I calculate macros and plan my meals according to those goals.  While I am not competing at this moment, I have been consistent in meal planning, but also have been able to enjoy a wider variety of meals and still meet my macros or stay close on some occasions when I know I am going to indulge in something outside of my plan.

All of this leads to some inner turmoil and questioning and soul searching.  I have learned that is is a very valuable part of the process and it is best to embrace this uneasiness and let my mind explore every avenue.  Most times this lasts a few days.  I feel anxious, not settled and my mind entertains a myriad of thoughts, questions, hypotheticals, and doubts.  But as it does, I start to gain clarity.  This is the beauty of the process.  Through the darkness, through the restlessness and discontent comes a clear and certain path, which becomes a plan, which becomes actions.  With that the fire is stoked higher, the breakthrough is complete and I proceed with a drive and determination that is unbelievably powerful.

I am also very concrete.  As I come through this process, I will at some point sit down and put all of it on paper.  I need to see it and work out all the details of my nutrition, my cardio plans, my calendar and timeline and lay it all out in front of me.  With that I have my blueprint and I continue building, working and executing the best plans I have laid out for myself.

Iron is forged through heat, pressure, fire, and impact.  We are the same way.  Do not believe the fallacy that everything is easy; that you simply have a goal and go do it.  Action is criticial, but it can’t be aimless.  Calculated action with purpose, meaning, and direction is what we are after.  Allow yourself to struggle. Let yourself go through the process. Much like the iron, we come out stronger, sharper, and better than we were before.

A Healthy Celebration by Regina Gunn Arndt

 

As we celebrate the Fourth of July with BBQ’s, beer and fireworks, we also take a moment to thank our veterans and our current military for all they have done, are doing now, and will do. Being a military wife has opened my eyes up to so much more then us “civilians” ever get to see. Generally, we do not get to spend this day of celebration with our spouses, they all don’t get holidays off. Heck, they may even be deployed. However, we celebrate our freedom, and our loved ones that sacrifice their freedoms for us. Regina Gunn
 
Not only am I a military wife, but a personal trainer who loves to focus on nutrition and proper supplementation. I believe that what you put in it is what you’re going to get out of it. You put in junk, or not enough nutrients, and you’re not going to function to your full potential, and have zero energy. If you eat right, use proper supplementation to fill in the gaps, drink your water, and get your workouts in, you’ll have enough energy to get through your day and sleep like a baby. This can be hard at times for our active duty men and women to do, especially if they are deployed. 
 
My husband says, “You pick up one of two habits when you deploy. You either start smoking, or workout.” Of course my husband chooses the latter, and it puts a huge smile on my face when he starts training with new guys in the gym. Their results in just 6 months are incredible. Why? They stay hydrated, they eat consistently good calories, supplement, and work out hard in the gym. When being deployed, they are not always offered what they need nutritionally, so it is imperative to use safe and effective supplements. What so many young people in our military, and in general, don’t realize, is that your supplements may not be safe, or even effective. 
 
Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, they are not required to be. So what is that you’re taking from the vitamin store down the street? The guy behind the counter may not know either. I encourage you to do your homework, because some may contain banned substances that can get you fired. Our military is given a list of supplements from various vitamin stores that they are not permitted to take. This can cost them their job, and as a personal trainer, I’m in the same boat. I need to know what’s going in my body, as well as my family and clients bodies. There are companies that do test for these banned substances, and ensure their safety. My studio, for instance, carries AdvoCare, which uses a third party to test their products, ensuring it’s safe for us all to use. 
 
We all need to be intentional in the way we treat our bodies. We need a strong and healthy military to protect us. So, this 4th of July, thank a veteran, thank an airmen or a solider and get healthy together. We all deserve a healthy celebration! 
 
-Regina Gunn Arndt, C-PT
 Gunn’s Fitness, LLC
 
 
Regina Gunn Arndt, C-PT
AdvoCare Independent Distributor 
 
Gunn’s Fitness, LLC

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now, and make a brand new ending.”