So, now what? Do you just jump into your workout and go like gangbusters? Well, yes and no. I am committed to helping you get fit in as short amount of time as possible, but there are a few things you need to do to be safe and avoid injury.
Here I lay out the guidelines for a proper workout from beginning to end – including nutrition!
I’m here for you.
Whether or not you eat before exercising is up to you. My husband can eat a four-course meal and then go running. If I did that, I’d be hurling in the bushes.
I have to exercise on an empty stomach. Sometimes during my 5pm workout I’m regretting my lunch. That’s how delicate I am.
That’s right, I’m DELICATE. *eyeroll*
Proteins and fats digest slowly, so those aren’t really recommended pre-workout. You can consume good carbohydrates to provide fuel for what’s to come, but not too much (300-500 calories) and not too close to workout time (2-3 hours beforehand is recommended). Good choices would be an apple or banana, oatmeal, whole-grain cereal or toast, or steamed veggies.
If I exercise in the morning, I exercise fasted. You read that right – I don’t eat pre-workout. I suffer no ill effects whatsoever, and you can visit my NUTRITION page for more information on why I do what I do. If I exercise later in the day, of course I’ve already eaten one or two meals.
SLIP INTO SOMETHING MORE COMFORTABLE. AHEM.
Get ready to workout:
- Eat a 300-500 calorie ‘meal’ a couple hours beforehand.
- Get the equipment you need.
- Remove obstacles that might cause injury. Push back the sofa, pick up items you could trip over, etc. Lock up the dogs and cats. They will want to “help.”
- Have a towel and water handy.
- Set your timer, or make sure you can see a clock.
- Enlist your family’s help. They can cheer you on. (I do recommend pom-pons.) They can spray you with water during the rest periods. Better yet, they can do it with you! Laugh. Have fun.
- Get yo game face on.
. ER, WARM-UP
A good warm-up will loosen up tight muscles and joints, warm the body, shuttle blood to your major muscles, gradually elevate your breathing, and get you in the right mindset for your Quickie. I tend to warm-up as long as it takes to feel loose and develop a light sweat. Or at least get close. My warm-ups last from 3-8 minutes, and change with how much time I have, what mood I’m in, and how long it takes for me to feel pumped and ready.
Your warm-up also serves as a dynamic stretch. Before your workout is not the time to improve your flexibility. You are asking your muscles to perform during the Quickie – therefore telling your muscles to elongate and relax before your workout doesn’t make sense. Dynamic stretching means moving your joints and muscles in a variety of motions, limbering them up before the challenge. Pay special attention to any areas that cause you difficulty. If your hamstrings are tight, do a couple straight leg front kicks. But take it easy – just enough to limber up.
A great warm-up might progress in this order:
- Light walking
- Walking up and down a flight of stairs several times
- Arm Circles, Leg Circles
- Knee Raises, Front Kicks
- Shallow Squats or Lunges (go partway down, and don’t worry about speed)
- Rotation – twist your torso right and left. GENTLY.
- Shuffling right and left
Or, my favorite idea is to do a couple reps of each exercise in the Quickie – but don’t do them “all out.” Try the exercises as you watch the Preview Video, and maybe add a few of the suggested moves above. Now you’re ready for your Quickie! YOU’RE GONNA ROCK THIS, BITCHES.
I’m sorry I called you bitches.
DO THE QUICKIE
Put on your favorite music, and GET AFTER IT. This week’s Quickie is RIGHT HERE.
If you don’t feel like dancing, get a better playlist.
You don’t dance? ARMS IN THE AIR LIKE ROCKY BALBOA.
POST-QUICKIE “GLOW” – aka COOL DOWN
Rule #1 – DON’T SIT DOWN. You’re tired, you worked hard, you earned a rest. I get that. BUT NOT YET. A proper cool-down will allow your heart rate to slow gradually, your breathing to slow toward normal, and the blood to continue circulating (rather than pooling in the extremities which can cause dizziness).
Repeat a few of the lighter moves from your warm-up. DON’T SIT DOWN. Do a few arms circles, walk around, step side to side. DON’T SIT DOWN. Drink water. Towel off. DON’T SIT DOWN.
YOU AREN’T SITTING DOWN, ARE YOU?
Once you’ve cooled down, you can do some static stretching. Static stretching is when you reach and hold. Be sure to stretch the muscles you just worked, and pay special attention to muscles that are chronically tight such as hamstrings, lower back, and chest. A list of appropriate stretches is coming soon.
First of all, post-workout refueling isn’t entirely necessary if your workout is light. Because they’re only 15 minutes long, even my Quickie Workouts aren’t so long and intense that post-workout eating is required. Intense workouts lasting 60 minutes or longer DO call for post-workout nutrition.
That said, research shows there is a window of opportunity – 30-60 minutes after your workout – during which your body is primed to absorb quality nutrients. This is the time to feed your body a good protein to aid muscle development and a good carbohydrate to replenish energy stores.
Good choices would be:
- meat and steamed veggies
- yogurt with fruit & almonds
- apple with nut butter
- protein shake with a banana.
Yeah, yeah, you earned that slab of cream pie. JUST NOT YET.
An effective exercise program always includes recovery time. During the post-workout rest and recovery your muscles grow, adapt, and become stronger; your hormones level out; and your bone density increases. Without a proper recovery time, your muscles remain under stress and can’t get to the point of growth.
Interestingly, the symptoms of over-training are similar to the symptoms of under-training – fatigue, underperformance, depression or lack of motivation, persistent pain, more frequent illness.
A proper workout should leave you feeling good. You’ll be tired, yes. You’ll probably be sore. But you shouldn’t feel like a zombie the next day, and if you do, no intense exercise that day.
A reasonable schedule is every other day for your Quickies. On your off-days, you should do light activities like yoga, walking, or even a milder version of some of the Quickie exercises. But be sure you allow your muscles time to rest after any intense workouts.
How sore you are after a Quickie will be unique to you. I have clients who get sore easily, and clients who don’t. I have clients who think they didn’t exercise hard enough if they aren’t sore, and clients who beg me to make sure their workouts don’t cause soreness. It’s a fascinating topic!
It’s still not fully understood what exactly causes soreness, and most techniques to prevent soreness are not reliably effective for everyone. Studies indicate stretching does not prevent soreness, though it is of course recommended to increase flexibility.
If you are ridiculously sore, here are a few ways to adapt what you’re doing:
- Pull back on intensity. Slow down. Take longer rest periods between exercises. My interval format of 50/10 is suggested, not required.
- Pull back on volume. Do fewer repetitions of each exercise, and use lighter weights.
- Allow time to recover properly. Alternate days of intense workouts with days of light active recovery (walking, yoga).
You all set? You got what you need? You done procrastinating? Time to get your sweat on, yo!