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What is High Intensity Interval Training?

Amanda Rose, creator of Warrior Fight Club, shares her insight into the benefits of HIIT or high intensity interval training.

“Although my first love is yoga, I have been incorporating more cardio into my workouts,” says Amanda. “With a history of cardiovascular disease in my family, I understand and respect the need for a healthy heart.”

Considering that the #1 excuse people use for not exercising is lack of time, intervals are a perfect solution. It is quick, effective and to the point.

Interval training incorporates the body’s two energy systems: the aerobic and anaerobic. The aerobic system uses oxygen to convert carbohydrates into energy. When you run or walk for several miles, you are tapping into this system. The anaerobic system draws energy from fuel stored as glycogen in the muscles for short bursts of energy, such as sprinting. This system doesn’t utilize oxygen and cannot provide enough energy for a sustained effort.

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Because intervals require both systems, interval training has lots of benefits:

1. Increase calorie burn: The more vigorously you exercise, the more calories you burn! But interval training can also cause an “afterburn effect,” where the body burns more calories anywhere from 24 to 48 hours post-workout. So when you are relaxing on the couch, the furnace is still cooking. In addition, it boosts metabolism and builds lean muscle.

2. Improve cardio function: Intervals cause your heart and lungs to become bigger, stronger and able to adjust to sudden intense challenges (like running to catch a bus). Plus, it allows you to exercise longer and with more intensity, which improves your overall athletic performance.

3. Focus on fun: Because intervals are short you’re less likely to become bored. Intervals add a nice variety to traditional workouts, especially since you can vary the intensity level, length of work, rest intervals and number of reps. You can even opt to change the type of exercise by riding a bike, running on a treadmill or even jumping rope. The great thing about interval training is that there is no one way of doing it. Different lengths of work and recovery bring different benefits and challenges, all of which are good.

4. Lessen your time commitment: As I previously mentioned, you can do intervals in a short amount of time. My workouts average 20 to 23 minutes and I am completely spent! I have no excuse to not get it done and neither will you. AsOne’s Deck of Cards and Basic Circuit are particularly good and short as they are under 20 minutes each!

5. Improve your health: Interval training can improve insulin sensitivity, optimize cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure.

DISCLAIMER: Interval training is tough, so if you’re just starting to work out, spend at least one month working on your stamina with steady intensity cardio workouts before incorporating intervals into your routine.  Add these intervals in slowly and avoid repeating them on consecutive days. Intervals are hard on the body so give yourself ample rest and be sure to practice yoga too!

Booya features some amazing interval training workouts—check out our Bootcamps for guidance from the best trainers in the industry!

What to Eat Before You Workout

You’re on a mission to lose body fat. Be sure you have the right approach and avoid these common mistakes:

Before you start your workout you eat a snack because you think you need the energy. You eat nuts or granola, energy bars, dairy or fruit and then spend an hour doing cardio on the treadmill or eliptical or take a conditioning class.
What’s wrong with this approach? Well, the issue is that fat loss only happens when your body runs out of energy from carbs. If you eat lots of carbs every day you will burn only carbs and never body fat. What constitutes lots of carbs? For the average 150 lb woman that would be more than 150 grams per day. For the average 180 lb guy about 180 g of carbs per day.
The only way you will ever change the shape and look of your body is by burning off the body fat that covers your muscles. Unless you drop to a body fat of about 20% for women and 16% and below for men you are not going to see any muscle tone because the muscles are hidden underneath a layer of fat. Take a look at the pictures below, which illustrate the level of definition based on your body fat percentage.
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When you work out your body uses energy initially from the carbs in your blood sugar. That might last you about 20 minutes – depending on how long ago you had your last meal and how many carbs you ate. (Just imagine that your first 20 minutes running on the treadmill might not even burn any body fat – but only carbs!). Once the blood sugar resources are used up, your body turns to carbs stored in your liver and muscle. These carbs are called glycogen. The muscles can hold up to about 450 grams of carbs if you have a lot of muscle and much less if you have little muscle (that’s why you want to strength train. The more muscle you have, the more glycogen they can hold without making you fat!). The liver can store about 100 grams of carbs. Both muscles and liver can store about 2,000 calories worth of glycogen, which can provide you with about 3 hours of energy during an endurance event or last you for about 2 days if you keep a moderate carbohydrate diet. Only once those stores in the muscles and liver are used up will you burn fat .
So, make sure you reduce your carb intake throughout the day to about 30 g per meal to allow your body to use energy from body fat instead of energy from carbs. Once the time for your workout comes, you’ll burn through your blood sugar energy and muscle and liver glycogen stores quickly and then draw energy from your fat stores. Did you know that the average person can live for several weeks without food because your body becomes ultra-efficient at burning fat as fuel? That’s how much body fat we all carry on our bodies.
If you have reached your goal weight and body fat already, then snacking before a workout can help you push yourself harder and make your workout more productive. Here’s a few pointers for snacking before working out:
Yogurt
1. Dairy can make you congested so reserve it for refueling after your workouts or skip it entirely.
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2. Nuts are too high in fat and that can make you sluggish during your workout.
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3. Granola is loaded with sugar and 1/3 cup has about 40 grams of carbs. You might have to run on the treadmill for about 30 minutes to just burn through the food you ate to fuel your workout – that’s a total waste of time. Use the fuel stores in your body.
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4. Fruit converts into fructose, which is used by the liver, but not your muscles. The muscles will only use it for energy if nothing else is available, so save yourself the fruit sugar.
If you want to lose fat and maintain muscle, then do your workouts on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. If you work out at night them have a snack or protein shake about 90 minutes before your workout. A non- carb/low-carb protein shake is best since it will allow you to maintain muscle while promoting fat burning. And, the best fat loss trick of all is to finish your day with a protein shake instead of a heavy dinner. Not only will you wake up feeling energized and refreshed but also quite a bit lighter.

– Ariane Hundt, founder of  Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp.

How to Perform a Proper Burpee

This post has been brought to us by Mark Merchant and George Vafiades of As One Effect. Check them out on BooyaFitness.com.

Ah, the burpee – one exercise that requires, mobility, flexibility, strength, systemic conditioning (full body fitness), core and shoulder stability – love the burpee.  The burpee is an integral part of the As One program  so, if you’ve taken class, you certainly know how to do this.  But, if you, or a friend, want to come in and check out a class, this is a perfect way to get ready.

How to perform the burpee:

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1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.

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2. Bend over to the  ground with your hands down.

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3. Jump your feet back as you lower your chest to the floor.

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4. Press up and in one motion jump your feet back to starting position.

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5. While standing up, jump up with your hands over your head.

Eager to try the burpee (aka squat thrust)? All of our bootcamp workouts feature the move!