Running

How To's: Interval Training

Interval Training

So how do you get the most out of interval training, and how long should each push and recovery be? One of the many great things about intervals is that there's no single hard-and-fast rule. Different lengths of work and recovery bring different benefits—and they're all good.

Start with these three interval training plans. Just know this: Interval training is tough, so if you're just starting to work out, spend a few weeks to a month building your stamina with cardio workouts before adding interval training to your routine. Add these interval training plans to your gym routine once a week to burn more calories, build more fitness, and get out of the gym faster.

1. Cardio Blaster

This is one of the best interval training workouts you can do to improve fitness. It burns lots of calories in a short amount of time.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes.

• Then run, bike, or row for 3 minutes at 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate (should feel like 8.5 or 9 on a scale of one to 10). Take three minutes active recovery (you're still moving, but at an easy pace) and repeat the 3 on/3 off pattern three to four more times.

• Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

Bonus benefit: This workout is like weight training for your heart—it strengthens your cardiovascular system, which improves your overall health.

2. Speedplay

Sprinting is great for tightening and toning your legs, glutes, and core. It increases your muscle power, which helps you push harder and makes your non-interval training workouts feel easier so you can challenge yourself and burn even more calories.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

• Run, bike, or row for 30 seconds at a nearly all-out effort. Take three minutes active recovery and repeat the 30 on/3 off pattern five or six more times.

• Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

3. Cardio-Sprint Pyramid

This adds sprint interval training for a fast and fun workout. Here, after each burst of hard work, you'll recover for the same amount of time.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

• Run, bike, or row: During the work periods, you should have a rate of perceived exertion (RPE of 8 to 10, followed by 30 seconds of active recovery.

Build and taper the workout like this: 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover; 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover; 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover; 4 minutes sprint/4 minutes recover; 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover; 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover; 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover; Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

Bonus benefit: This major calorie-burning interval training plan gives you the best of both worlds—high-octane cardio and muscle-sculpting sprints.

Stretching Do's and Don'ts

Stretching Do's and Don'ts

Stretching as a warm-up before exercise has been taught in schools for generations. Today experts debate the effectiveness of stretching cold muscles. The VarCity cold truth? Stretching is helpful, but keep these basics in mind:

1.  Avoid Stretching a Cold Muscle

Only perform "static stretching” (stretch and hold) after a five to 10 minute warm-up.  A warmed-up muscle can stretch longer and endure more stretching and you may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. 

2.  Use Dynamic or “Active” Stretching as a Warm-Up

Dynamic stretches mimic movements used in a sport or activity.  Warm-ups prepare the body for activity by helping to increase blood flow and muscle temperature.

If you're preparing to play tennis, for example, you’ll want to practice side and front lunges as part of your warm-up – movements you'll use to reach for the ball.

Light, gentle rhythmic movements work best for the average person.  Go through a shallow range of motion (e.g. a half-squat vs. a full squat) until you're thoroughly warmed up."

3.  Stretch at the End of your Workout

Stretching at the end of the cool-down phase (i.e. after exercise when your muscles are still warm) helps to maintain long-term flexibility benefits.

VarCity Lifehacks: Make Running with AirPods Easy

AirPod Life hacks

Caroline V already gave us her take on running with AirPods.  The big takeaway was that while AirPods boast superior design, the smartest charging case and great Bluetooth hardware, the sound quality can suffer when the smooth plastic tips inevitably lose the noise isolating seal in your ears.  And while Caroline gave us suggestions for add-ons that help our AirPods stay in place, taking these parts on and off every time we want to charge isn't ideal.  

So VarCity scoured the internet and discovered our favorite lifehack for keeping AirPods sealed in your ears.  Using a hole punch and a roll of Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Tape, which is cushioned and grippy, you can strategically place tiny dots on your AirPods so they stick in your ears without slipping.  Best of all, the AirPods still fit in the case, so they can be charged without having to remove any tips.  And while it looks a little different, as you can see in the photo above, the tape is completely hidden inside your ear while you’re using the AirPods, so it’s obviously not a big deal.  Let us know how this hack works for you in the comments section below and be entered to win a free pair of AirPods!

 

 

 


 

Five Easy Ways to Drink More Water Throughout the Day

Drink More Water

We all know we need water to be healthy; however, remembering to drink it isn't always easy.  How you drink water can be just as important as how much water you drink, so gradually drinking water throughout the day is important too, especially as the temperatures start to rise.

Below are VarCity’s top 5 ways to drink water consistently throughout the day.

1.  Get a bigger bottle.  I used to keep a little 12-ounce bottle of water on my desk, and I would drink it all, but then I would never get around to refilling it. Now, I keep a large 1 liter bottle on my desk with a goal to drink all of it by the time the work day is over. I like it because it's a little goal I can set each day and easily see my progress as the hours go by.

2.  Set an alarm.  If you get so focused that you forget that bottle is on your desk, you may want to try setting an alarm on your phone or computer to go off every couple of hours or so to remind you to take a few swigs of water. I like to use this time to stand up and stretch, too!

3.  Drink a glass before each meal.  If it's just not convenient for you to drink water throughout the day, try setting a goal to drink at least one cup of water before each meal.  Not only does this help you to stay hydrated, studies show that drinking a glass of water before a meal can help you feel full faster!

4.  Track what you drink.  A small glass here and there in your busy day may have you unsure about how much water you consumed at the end of the day. So try tracking your fluid intake just like you would when you record meals and snacks in a food journal.

5.  Don’t live on water alone.  You can meet up to 20% of your daily fluid needs by consuming fluid-rich foods such as fruits and veggies, which are 80-90% water!

And remember, if you are working out regularly, especially in the heat, you will need more fluids.  For every pound lost during a workout (due to sweating), consume an additional 16 ounces of fluid. 

Your New Favorite Running Buddy

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So it’s officially 2018.  Caroline let us know that we can run with AirPods and hopefully you’re sticking to your 2018 New Year’s Resolution.  Something we’ve always believed at VarCity is that working out with a buddy is a great way to stick to your workout routine.  And if you’re still looking for that perfect running partner, try your local animal shelter.

No matter what your running pace, you can find a pup who's exactly your speed.  Some of the younger dogs can be boundless bundles of energy, while some of the larger or older dogs -- who own a few more years experience -- can have a slower steady stride.  Ziggy (shown above) is a Puerto Rican rescue who gets so excited to run he can hardly contain himself!

Across the country a growing number of animal shelters are broadening their volunteer base by appealing to runners while giving higher-energy dogs companionship and a healthy, calming outlet as they await adoption.

“I really do think we’re part of the reason dogs are getting adopted,” said Adria Eichner, who helps coordinate the Delco Dog Trotters program and provides training for volunteers.  “We’re giving dogs another skill they might not have had, and it makes them more marketable.”

If you’ve been thinking about adopting a new running buddy or just want a new way to volunteer with animals, ask if your local SPCA or animal shelter has its own program.