As part of my effort to still work out without a gym membership and without being able to run, and also in an effort to keep things interesting, yesterday I rolled out the good ol’ stability ball.
If you don’t have a stability ball, and you’re interested in getting some good, quality workouts at home, I really suggest buying one. You can get one for $15 on Amazon, or add it to your holiday wish list. It’s a really good investment, in my opinion. Just make sure you get the right size. This article from LiveStrong.com has some good advice on what size will be right for you.
Since I love mine so much (and it’s been sitting in the corner, deflated, for months), I’m going to be showing it some much-needed TLC and sharing it with you all, of course!
Last night I completed Part One of my Stability Ball Workouts. I suggest turning off all (or most) of the lights in your house, putting on Britney Spears - Femme Fatale and pretending you are in some sort of super fun pilates or dance class. Or maybe that’s only fun for me.
Stability Ball Workouts - Part One
By doing all three of these exercises, you’ll be working a little bit of each major muscle group. Push-ups for upper body, crunches for your abdomen, and bridge for your legs. By incorporating a stability ball to the routine, you’re creating an unstable base of support, meaning you must use your core muscles to stabilize your body while you move through the motions of each exercise. Do 3 or 4 sets of each exercise before moving on to the next, OR make it a circuit by doing each exercise, one right after another, then rest, and repeat this for a total of 3 or 4 times.
Push-ups - It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of push-ups. It’s a great upper body exercise that requires no additional tools - just you, your body, and gravity. This is a great variation to a regular or modified push-up because in addition to working your chest, you’ll be using all those stabilizing muscles to keep the ball in place and to keep yourself from falling off.
Crunches - This one might be obvious. I’d definitely say it’s one of the more common uses of a stability ball that I’ve seen.
Bridge - This exercise is great for your bum and the backs of your legs, as well as throughout the rest of your core. Adding the stability ball to it makes your squeeze that much harder to keep your body (and the ball) still.
I did all of these last night (side note: I forgot how much I enjoy working out at night) and then some stretching. Today my legs are very sore, and I love it.
Hello there! That’s so exciting that you’re on a running kick! I used to hate running, too (some days I still do) but somehow I learned to love it. And eight miles is a long distance for someone who isn’t usually into it, so props to you!
Of course, I’m not a running expert, but from my own experience and everything I’ve ever read about running, you definitely should eat before running, especially if you’re going a distance as long as eight miles (or longer).
If you’re running in the morning, this is especially important, because you’ve just spent the whole night fasting. If you run on an empty stomach, you may feel a bit weak and not be able to run as hard as you could if you had eaten.
If you’re running during the day or evening, I’d say you probably don’t need to worry as much about eating before your run. As long as you’re not starving, and you’ve eaten within the last couple hours, you should be fine. If you feel a little hungry, have an apple or banana before you go out. I’ve found that this cures my hunger (mentally, at least) and gives me a little sugar rush to energize me through the run.
Also, if you’re going to be out running for more than an hour or so, take a snack along with you. After about 45 minutes of exercise, your blood sugar will start to get low, so having a small snack (half a banana, some dark chocolate chips, GU gels, or a sports drink like Gatorade) will re-energize you and allow you to run longer and keep up the intensity.
This article from Runner’s World has some great tips on what to eat and when to eat it when you’re a runner.
The best way to find out how eating will affect your training is to just experiment with it yourself. Every body is a little different, so find what works best for you. Just make sure that if you do eat before a run, allow your body some time to digest the food. And definitely don’t have a big, hearty meal and then head out the door. You may run into some issues along the way, if you know what I mean.
Keep it up and good luck with your running adventures! Do you plan on training for any races? You should do a half marathon for sure. Or maybe a full marathon in the spring!
The number on the scale? How fast you’re running? What you see in the mirror?
I tend to really focus on my belly. That’s my biggest “problem area.” It’s where I store most of my fat (which supposedly is not typical for females, but that theory makes me think scientists are crazy), which means it’s also where I have the most fat to lose. Which means it’s one of the last places where I’ll see noticeable progress. Which means it’s probably not the only area I should be using the gauge my progress!
(in no particular order)
Just kidding. On to the REAL reasons:
When I first started getting into fitness (over two years ago… woah), I started out by just running. Right away, I lost some weight, because I had some to lose, and I had never run before (or done any exercise, really). Then I met my boyfriend, who introduced me to weight training (and started training me… yes, I am very lucky to have a personal trainer boyfriend!). This was a whole new way of working out, something I had never even imagined doing. The weight room is for dudes. Big, sweaty, weight-belt-wearing, unnecessary-supplement-taking, dudes. Right?
After a couple weeks I was hooked! All those magical changes I was waiting for running to give me, I started seeing (what seemed like) immediately. Fat started disappearing a lot more quickly, and woahhh, muscles started to show up! Since then, I can always tell (by looking in the mirror, stepping on the scale, or even just by how I feel) when I’m not lifting regularly. I can run all I want, but I don’t really feel “good” unless I’m lifting, too. I forgot about this over the summer, when I stopped working out pretty much altogether. Since I started running again, I’ve been impatiently waiting for my weight to drop, my percent body fat to decrease, and for my running to improve.
Being unemployed, the last thing I can afford is a gym membership. So I haven’t been doing any strength exercises, and I’ve been relying solely on running to get in shape. Last week, I began doing some basic body weight exercises at home, just twice a week, and I kid you not, I already see and feel a significant difference in my body.
These are just my five, somewhat shallow, reasons to get into weight training. It also provides all sorts of health benefits, like increased bone density, improved balance and posture, and injury prevention (click here to read an article from LIVESTRONG.com about the benefits of weight training for women).
So, happy lifting! I mean… Get big! Pump iron! Feel the burn! and all that stuff…
Do you supplement your cardio workouts with strength training? Who would be interested in some body weight exercises you can do at home, for free? Or maybe a challenge of some sort?