Saturday Sweat Full Body Circuit

I always try to get a couple of solid workouts in on the weekend and save my rest day for the week in case I’m busy with school and can’t make it to the gym. This morning I had a later start than usual because I decided to sleep in. When I woke up, I made a bowl of oatmeal with walnuts, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, and a frozen banana (I forgot to snap a pic though – so the image below is some oatmeal inspiration from the internet), and planned out a full body circuit workout .

oatmeal with orange and kiwi

The Workout

Before today, it had been a couple days since my last trip to the gym; since we’ve been having slightly warmer weather, I decided to go running outside this past week, instead of walking to campus for an indoor workout. Since I wanted to jump right back in and get my whole body moving, I put together a full-body workout, with a focus on combining strength moves with cardio intervals.

What You’ll Need

For this workout you will need a medicine ball (I used 15lbs), two small dumbbells (I used 7.5lbs), a larger dumbbell (eg. 15 lbs), and a skipping rope. Alternatively, you can just use the larger dumbbell in place of the medicine ball for the move that uses the medicine ball.

How it Works

The workout is made up of three circuits – one targeting lower body, one that focuses on upper body, and one that emphasizes the abs. Each circuit has 5 exercises, with the number of reps indicated in brackets beside the exercise. Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin with Circuit 1, moving through the exercises as many times as you can within that 5 minute period (you’ll likely be able to get through each exercise once, and the first 2 or 3 exercises a second time). The reason I often set up my workouts like this is that I get bored easily when I have to repeat exercises too many times. Once the 5 minutes are up, set a timer for 2 minutes and skip until the time is up. Next, move on to Circuit 2, again, performing that circuit for 5 minutes, followed by 2 minutes of skipping. Do the same thing for Circuit 3, ending with a final 2 minutes of skipping. In between each circuit try to rest for just long enough to catch your breath.

red skipping rope on blue background

The Exercises

Beside each exercise I’ve included a brief description of how to perform the exercise, or a link to a page that demonstrates the exercise. If there is any exercise you’re confused about, it’s fairly easy to do a quick YouTube search and see someone doing the exercise.

Circuit 1 – Lower Body

  1. Medicine Ball Squat and Press (15 reps) – hold medicine ball in front of chest and perform a squat. As you return to a standing position, raise the medicine ball above your head.
  2. Split Squat Jumps (10 each side – 20 total) – this one is easier just to watch someone perform, so here is a video showing this move.
  3. Glute Bridge w/dumbbell (20 reps) – lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Hold your larger sized dumbbell across your hips. To perform the move, raise your hips as high as you can and squeeze your glutes at the top, before lowering to the ground again.
  4. Jumping Squats (15 reps) – perform a squat, but as you stand up from your squat jump in the air. Land softly, sinking down into your next squat.
  5. Fire hydrants (15 each side) – Here’s another that is easiest to watch – link. Do not alternate between legs – perform 15 on one side, and then move on to the other side.

Circuit 2 – Upper Body

  1. Walk out push-ups (10 reps) – from a standing position, reach down to touch the ground, and walk your hands out until you are in a push-up position. Do a push-up, and then walk back to the position you started in.
  2. Burpees (12 reps) – I think most people know how to do these ones…they’re a killer. If not, just do a quick Google search. There are a few variations, but I do mine without a pushup.
  3. Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension (15 reps) – see this webpage for a demonstration of how to do this exercise. Perform this exercise using your larger dumbbell.
  4. Commandos (10 each side – 20 total) – this video shows how to perform this move.
  5. Bent-over Dumbbell Row (15 reps) – check out this page for pictures of how this exercise is performed. Use your two lighter dumbbells for this move.

Circuit 3 – Abs

  1. Spidermans (15 each side – 30 total) – start in a high plank. Bring your right knee up towards your right elbow, then, return leg to plank position. Next, bring your left leg toward your left elbow; return to plank. Continue to alternate.
  2. Plank Jacks (20 reps) – in a high plank, jump legs out to both sides, then jump them back into the centre (a jumping jack movement with the legs).
  3. Jack Knives (12 reps) – lie on your back with your arms extended above your head and your legs extended out straight. Raise your legs off the floor and simultaneously raise your arms, reaching your hands towards your feet. Here’s a video that demonstrates this move: link.
  4. Mountain climbers (20 each side – 40 total) – this one is fairly common, but in case you haven’t heard of it before, here’s a video.
  5. Bicycle crunches (20 each side – 40 total) – this is another exercise that’s fairly well known. Here’s a video.

Post-Workout Eats

When I got home from the gym, I made this delicious mixture:

poached eggs on veggies

It looks a little random, but the combination of flavours is amazing. I started off by boiling some broccoli and sweet potato. Then, in a frying pan I heated some coconut oil and cooked a clove of garlic and a quarter of an onion. To that I added some cabbage and kale mixture, plus the sweet potato and broccoli I had previously boiled. I stir-fried that for a few minutes, adding a little pepper and garlic salt. Then I put the mixture onto a plate and topped it with with two poached eggs, some goat cheese, a few dried cranberries, and some cilantro. I also had an apple on the side.

Then for dinner, I brought this bowl with me to work:

zucchini noodles, chicken, sweet potato

Included: poached chicken breast, cabbage and kale mix, spiralized zucchini with tomato sauce, the rest of the sweet potato I boiled earlier in the day, and some tahini for extra healthy fats. Another strange mixture (I realize the tahini looks a bit odd) – but it was good! Random bowls of nutritious foods are one of my go-to meals, especially when I’m taking food on-the-go.

Now that I’m home from work I’m headed off to bed so I can have an early start and get some school work done tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

In case you want to pin my workout for later:

Workout Graphic to Pin Later

Note: This workout is quite challenging and might not be suitable for everyone. If you have any health concerns, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting High Intensity Interval Training.

Race Recap: Tannenbaum 10K

On Sunday I ran my first 10K race – the Tannenbaum 10K! The race was in Toronto and it was a lovely route along the shore of Lake Ontario. Unfortunately it was a very foggy day so there wasn’t a great view of the lake, but it was still a great path to run on.

Here’s what race day looked like for me:

7:00am – Woke up

8:15am – black coffee and baked sweet potato with a poached egg on top for breakfast. This has been one of my favourite breakfasts lately – simple, but delicious! I just pierce the skin of a sweet potato with a fork, and bake in the toaster oven at 400° for about 45 minutes (or until a fork goes easily into the potato). Then I slice the potato open, add a little coconut oil, garlic salt, and pepper, and top with a poached egg. Usually I’ll have two poached eggs for breakfast, but I didn’t want to feel weighed down during my run, so I just stuck to one today.

8:45am-9:00am – I got dressed in my running gear and packed up. I wanted to bring as little as possible to the race, so I just stuck my bus pass, my phone, and some gloves in the pockets of my running jacket. I meant to put a LARA bar in my pocket for after the race, but I ended up forgetting it at home.

What I wear for cold weather running

I love running in the cold weather because it lets me get dressed up in all my favourite running clothes! When running in cold weather, layers are your best bet. I like to wear a long sleeve with a cotton t-shirt on top, and occasionally a quarter zip on top of that, followed by my running jacket. Other most important thing: gloves – always wear them, even if you step outside in the winter to test the temperature and think you might be able to get by without them. If you don’t actually need the gloves you can throw them in your pockets, but if you leave them at home there will likely be some REGRETS.

Here’s what I wore for my race:

  • Nike running headband – absolutely love this one. I’m not sure if they sell this particular style anymore because I couldn’t find it on the Nike website or on Amazon, but it’s a reversible headband that says “Run” on one side and has the Nike logo on the other.
  • Long sleeve (not pictured) – I layered this under all my other clothes.
  • Cotton t-shirt (not pictured) – this was another layer on top.
  • Quarter zip – the purple shirt in the picture above. It’s from Old Navy’s active wear line, and I got it last year during their 50% off active wear sale.
  • Running Room Jacket – ie. my favourite piece of clothing EVER. I love this jacket. It’s just the right length, it’s roomy, so you can put lots of layers underneath, and the pockets are huge. It also has zippers in the side of the jacket for ventilation, so I’ll open those up if I’m running on a warm rainy day.
  • Leggings – I love this pair of Old Navy leggings because they’re warm, and they stay on properly! I find that so many other leggings tend to slip down, but these always stay in place. I think it’s because the material has a softer feel to it, rather than the smooth, slippery texture that a lot of leggings have.
  • Stretchy black pants – I layered these over my leggings for extra warmth. I think they’re from the Forever 21 active wear line.
  • Under Armour Socks
  • Gloves – nothing fancy, just got these at Dollarama.

The day of the race wasn’t that cold, and I was a little overdressed, but I’d rather be a little too warm than too cold. And I was glad I had the layers after the race was over and I wasn’t generating as much heat.

9:00am – drove to the race.

9:20am – 9:40am – checked in and picked up my race kit. Inside was a long sleeve shirt, a Clif Bar, a single serving packet of hemp protein powder from the brand Manitoba Harvest and a variety of coupons (free tea from David’s Tea, free class at a nearby yoga studio, etc.)

9:40am – went for a slow jog to warm up, did some leg swings, high knees, and calf stretches.

10:00am – the race started! I took the first 5K at a slow pace because I didn’t want to burn out. I tried to keep an eye on the “pace elves” ahead of me that were holding signs with their time on them, and worked towards catching up to them. My legs started to get a little tired around the 5K mark, but once I pushed through that I got going at a faster pace. I worked on looking at people ahead of me and slowly catching up. I wasn’t really treating it too much like a race because I was just in it for the challenge of running a 10K, but I still wanted to push myself.

Just before 11:00am – finished the race! My time was a little over 58 minutes. I ran the first 5K in a little over 30 mins, and the second 5K in just over 27 mins. When I crossed the finish line I got a medal for finishing, and I headed to the re-fueling station, where I had a banana and some water.

While I was standing in line waiting to check my time, one of the race volunteers came up to me and said I’d been selected to win a prize! I got to choose from a table of prizes, and got a little bag with the name of the race on it. Here’s a picture of the long sleeve shirt I got, my medal, my race bib, and the bag I won:

I spent the rest of the day relaxing and EATING LOTS OF FOOD (which I unfortunately forgot to take pictures of). Before I took the bus home I stopped at a nearby grocery store and found these Pressed by KIND Fruit Bars. I’d never had one before, but it was delicious! The only ingredients are pineapple, banana, apple, kale and spinach, so they’re Whole30 compliant.

Training

Honestly, I didn’t do any specific 10K training for this race. I signed up on a bit of a whim because running a 10K has been one of my goals for a while. I usually run 2-3 times a week for about 30-45 minutes, so I didn’t actually run the race distance during training. But in addition to my runs, I also go out and play basketball for an hour or two once a week, which is a TON of running, and I use HIIT training when I go to the gym, which definitely helped me develop my endurance. When I started the race, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to make it through the whole thing without taking a walking break. But I had an awesome playlist that I made the night before, and once I started, I just wanted to keep pushing myself.

Now that I’ve run one 10K, I really want to do more! In 2018 I definitely want to run another one and try to improve my time. Every aspect of the Tannenbaum 10K was an amazing experience – it was really well organized, the volunteers and the other runners were so kind, and the route was fairly flat, with a nice view. So if you’re in the Toronto area I definitely recommend trying it out next year!

If you’re a runner, what’s your fave pre-run meal? What about a post-run snack?

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Six Ways to Stay Active in University

In my first year of university, I tried to commit to going to the gym a few times a week, but because of the challenges of adjusting to life away from home and the school workload, I didn’t stay as active as I should have. A couple things changed during second year; even though I was even busier with school work, I started using some strategies to ensure I fit several workouts into my schedule each week. Additionally, I made an effort to move my body in some way every day.

Moving Every Day

For most people, it’s not going to be feasible to make it to the gym every single day. However, I find that consistency is key in promoting physical activity habits. In first year, it was common for me to go to the gym for two weeks straight and love it, but then I’d get thrown off by a couple midterms, miss a few days of working out, and have trouble motivating myself to get back in the habit. Now, rather than getting into a “streak” of going to the gym every day, my goal each day is to simply do something that is physically active. I don’t always choose something extremely strenuous, but it does have to be something intentional. For example, I’ll count going for a walk as something active, but I don’t consider the goal completed if I just walk to and from class. The reason I love having a “move every day” objective is that I can still feel I’ve accomplished my goal even if I have a day where my body is tired, or I’m not in the mood to do a traditional gym workout. On days when I don’t go to the gym, I’ll often go running or walking outside, do some yoga in my living room, go for a hike, or do a quick ab circuit at home.

The following are the tips I’ve found most effective for making fitness a priority and staying active every day.

Block out time in your schedule to work out.

Treat working out, whether it is at the gym or elsewhere, as an appointment. At the beginning of the semester, I print off my timetable week by week, and then use a highlighter to plan out times for meetings, study sessions, and other commitments (I know a lot of people like online calendars, but I find a hard copy more satisfying). On Sunday, when I look ahead at my plans for the week, I put a whole week’s worth of workout sessions into my schedule in advance. If you don’t maintain your health, are the other things that you do each day really that important long term? I keep always keep that in mind when I’m considering my priorities for the week.

Sign up for an intramural team

Most campuses have an intramural program that offers a wide variety of sports. If you played a sport in high school, or if you’re looking to try something new, I highly recommend signing up. Intramurals are a great way to socialize and de-stress, in addition to getting you moving. I’ve played basketball for my whole life, so when I wasn’t playing basketball at the very start of university, I felt like something was missing. Luckily, I started playing on a team with some people in my program in second semester of first year, and I’ve been on the same team every semester since. I’ve become really good friends with many of the people on my team, and in addition to playing our intramural games, we play pick-up basketball one night a week (which puts some extra physical activity into my schedule!).

Go to the gym right after your last class

If you have a membership at the gym on your campus, hit the gym as soon as your last class of the day is over. This saves time trekking to and from the gym earlier or later in the day (particularly if you live off campus). If I pack my clothes and running shoes with me when I leave for the day, I’m less likely to skip my workout, especially since I’m already so close to the gym.

Sign up for a race

If you’re into running, look online for a race that’s taking place in the city you go to school in. Having a race to look forward to can be great motivation to train hard. Participating in a race also allows you to become engaged with the city you go to school in. Want even more motivation? Sign up and train for the race with a friend! Running with a buddy is a great way to build a strong friendship.

Try a new fitness class at your gym

Many gyms offer fitness classes included in their membership price. In addition to simply blocking workout time into your schedule, trying out a class is a more definitive way to make an “appointment” at the gym. Some of the classes I’ve tried at my gym include spin classes, yoga, boot camp, and a number of circuit classes. In addition to being a fun experience, these classes also have given me ideas for activities I can incorporate into future workouts!

Try fitness classes in the community

Many fitness studios offer promotions for students, or have a free first class opportunity – capitalize on this! In the summer, I took a free kickboxing class at a gym with some girls from my work and ended up getting a membership because I loved it so much. In September, a local hot yoga studio had a free week of classes available for university students, so I signed up for that and attended 5 classes during the week. The best thing to do is find an activity you’re interested in and research studios in your city. Then you can call them or check their website to see whether they offer any special promotions. Next on my list: I’d love to take a barre class, so I plan to do some research to see if I can find a studio that offers the first class for free.

A short workout is better than no workout

Less strenuous activities like going for a walk are a great way to stay active if you don’t feel like going to the gym for a hard workout. But if you’re short on time, there’s also the opportunity to fit in a short but intense workout to get the benefits of working out, without taking too much time out of your study schedule. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to have a challenging workout in a short amount of time, and it’s a form of training I use frequently. There has been a lot of research in the past few years about the multitude of benefits HIIT provides – check out these articles for more info: source, source. I’ll be posting some of the HIIT workouts I do on the blog in the future, so keep an eye out!

Do you have any tips for fitting fitness into your life? What’s the best fitness class you’ve ever tried?