|Image courtesy of Victor Habbick, / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Well it's confirmed, the flights and hotels are booked! In about 30 days time we're going to Greece for 2 weeks! But here's the catch, it's not about sipping wine on the waterfront and laying on the beach. It's about hiking... and I'm not a hiker.
So I'm sharing how I'm getting back into shape (my pants have been fitting a bit tight lately!!) and preparing to hike up large hills to visit old Byzantine fortresses - built specifically to prevent invaders from climbing them!
And the best part? You can do all of these exercises in your own home, without any fancy equipment!
Now my disclaimer, of course, is that I'm not a medical or health professional. That said, I've been a professional dancer and instructor for many years and have had 2 car accidents that required me to work with personal trainers and physiotherapists for months at a time, and who've taught me safe methods of exercise.
So why am I hiking in Greece in the first place?
Well, my husband is doing his PhD in Byzantine history (the Byzantines were basically the extension of the late Roman Empire), and part of his research pertains to landscape. So to do his research we need to check out some of the places the Byzantines trekked.
A couple of years ago we went to Italy to check out some old Byzantine sites, and now we're doing the same in Greece. Many of the sites we'll be seeing are fortresses at the top of large hills, and are quite a trek. Others are rivers and waterfalls and there will be lots of walking and hiking.
The other reason I'm training is that my pants have gotten too tight and I'm too cheap to buy new ones! (My goal? Lose at least 1" off the hips!)
Seriously. Clearly I've been dipping a bit too much into the baked brie in pie dough, the chocolate caramel popcorn, and the miniature chocolate pudding pies!!
So whether you're planning on hiking this summer, want to fit back into your old jeans (or a bikini), or just build strength and overall well-being, you might find these exercises helpful.
Start with Cardio:If there were hills nearby, I'd practice running up them, but there aren't so here's what I've been doing:
* Climbing stairs. I live on the 7th floor (the top floor), so I've been running up the stairs. I alternate one set running, the next set taking the stairs in twos. It helps build strength and endurance. I started 1 1/2 weeks ago doing the whole 7 floors 3 times, and have worked up to 6 (that means I can run up a 42 floor building if I'm being chased by zombies!) Keep adding flights every second time.
* Kickbox cardio. There's lots of squats and kicking to build strength and endurance. A 25 minute workout can be pretty intense! I've done this one from Jillian Michaels on YouTube a few times and like it.
The Circuit:Circuit training means doing several sets of different exercises. I repeat the below circuit three times. Every second time I work out, I increase the number of exercises in each set as my body adapts and can take on more work. This not only builds strength, but endurance as you're doing cardio as you workout. Strength building exercises also keep your metabolism up even after you finish exercising, so you continue to burn fat throughout the day.
Squats: I started with 15 squats per set and add 2 every second workout. I'm up to 19 now. To see how to do a squat correctly (it's important to watch your posture!) I've linked to this YouTube video.
Push-ups: I started with 6 and am up to 10. I do them with my knees on the ground and my hands under my shoulders. For a good tutorial, here's a Youtube Video that will show you how to build up to doing full push-ups (and the plank) with good form.
The Plank: I started at 10 seconds on my elbows with the front plank, and have moved up 10 seconds every second workout. I'm up to 30 seconds now. (See the above video for how to do a plank)
Side Plank: From front plank move into side planks on both right and left sides. Like the front plank, I've gone from 10 to 30 seconds. To see how to do these properly, you can check out this video.
Take a break and do child's pose : At this point I'm usually breathing pretty hard, and taking a minute to stretch will help prevent soreness the next day and let you catch your breath.
Mountain Climbers: Again, start out at about 10 seconds and add 10 seconds every second workout. For a good tutorial, I've added this video
Rear Lunges: I finish up the set with rear lunges, again, 10 on each leg. This video explains how to do them properly.
Stretch with Downward Dog: At this point my heart rate is pretty high and I'm sweating like mad, so stretching the legs and back is a great break.
Then I repeat it all again 2 more times!
In total, I do the cardio then 3 sets of the circuit. I also take time to stretch afterwards and then eat some protein to help my muscles heal quickly. Cheese, an egg, or lentils are a good choice.
I'm doing this every 2 or 3 days, depending on how sore I am. On my off days, I try to do a little bit of yoga (In my post on How I Saved $$ on Yoga I describe how I do yoga at home). The yoga helps my body to heal after all the hard work it's been doing!
This works almost everything and you will doubtless be sore the next day if you do these with proper posture. This is a tough, sweaty, intense workout so I suggest putting on some inspirational music that will help you to push through!!
Just keep your goal in mind, whatever it may be. For me, the thought of having to spend $$ on a whole new wardrobe to fit my new booty is almost enough. But the thought of having to wait for my husband at the bottom of a hill in Greece because I'm out of shape is just embarrassing!
I'm also making a few dietary changes to help me get that inch off, and I'll tell you about that in another post.