AVOID THE EXERCISE DOG-DAYS OF DECEMBER

The countdown is on. It’s T-minus 2 days to the Exercise Dog Days of December.

At a time when life seems to rev to warp speed, exercise can become an afterthought at best, abandoned at worst.

For many, December is not exercise-friendly. Routines are disrupted due to holiday parties, the kids being out of school, houseguests, travel, pressing year-end work responsibilities, and for whatever million other reasons. Getting to the gym seems impossible if not altogether disgusting. And, a common rationale is missing is no big deal anyway since the re-start season is right around the corner.

Yikes! Stop right there. Take a breath and regroup.

First, ANY activity is better than no activity and you will enjoy the season more if you sustain your routine. You may need to adjust your routine but for the sake of feeling good physically and emotionally protect any chunks of time you can carve out.

Second, putting your routine on hold in anticipation of a January re-start puts a lot of pressure on an already emotionally-charged time. Your January exercise routine ought to be like December’s, which ought to have been like November’s. Each month means a 4-week opportunity to deepen your Iron Footprint. If you plan to establish New Year’s resolutions, you can set them for something other than exercise by protecting your routine.

Tips on how to prevent the Exercise Dog Days of December:
–Get up 20 minutes earlier to get in a walk
–Engage at vigorous intensity to get the most out of the time you have*
–Participate in holiday-themed organized events
–Do special activities with the kids – take advantage of their school vacation

Sustaining your routine through December will help you be at your best to enjoy the holidays and manage the stress that can go along with the merriment. It will also ease the transition to the new year by defusing the emotionally-charged expectation of having to make wholesale lifestyle changes come January 1.

Here is wishing you a happy, merry and HEALTHY December!

*Monitor your heart rate to safely exercise at vigorous intensity. Check with a reputable fitness professional if you have questions.

DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES: PLAY SPORTS TO HONE YOUR ‘ART’ SKILL SET

Effective leaders adeptly utilize parallel skill competencies to draw optimum performance from their teams – those considered SCIENCE and others considered ART. The SCIENCE of leadership consists of employee productivity principles ground in theory and evidence-based data. If you attended higher education, leadership principles were bolded on your course syllabi, then practiced in case-study assignments, their application innovatively resulting in a neat and tidy virtual sales jump or new business catch or the like.

But real life is rarely so simple because the interplay of human dynamics can trump theory to determine the tone of any business process. Said differently, without the capacity to read people the most theoretically grounded action plan will be but a wasted file on your computer desktop.

Enter the ART of leadership. The ability to read people comes from understanding the spectrum of human emotion, and the ART of leadership is using this knowledge to inspire an employee’s optimum productivity. Since no two employees are the same, the knack of the art of leadership is responding to employees according to their emotional uniqueness. This means knowing their triggers and degree of readiness for challenge, and when to push or nurture.

So how can you learn to read people? Attend workshops and/or compile infographics of your employees?

Conferences, seminars, extended education classes, etc. offer insight, but insight skewed toward SCIENCE competencies since the perspective of the content tends to be grounded in theory. As well, knowing likes and dislikes, pet peeves, personal habits, hobbies can be interesting, but its usefulness is limited because the result is a static compilation of demographics — and business operations are anything but static.

Net/net, learning about the theory of the ART aspect of leadership isn’t the same as gaining an understanding of how to read people. Instead, you need to immerse yourself into a context where the gamete of emotion that is part and parcel to human performance is its prominent feature, where you can experience it at its organic base.

Do yourself the best professional development favor you can – play sports!

Excitement, anticipation, frustration, elation, disappointment – and this is just during warm-ups. Competition evokes emotion from being ‘on the line’ to deliver results and dealing with unpredictable outcomes – no one knows what is going to transpire over the course of a game, any more than one can predict what might transpire during a conference call to pitch a campaign.

A three-foot putt to win a match, serving to win the final point of a set, on the free throw line to win the game, a groundball that will either deliver the final put-out or allow the other team to score to win. These are all emotionally-charged situations that can’t be artificially replicated other than to experience them as they occur, both as the one who’s on the line and as another waiting on the outcome.

Learning how to respond to what you see in people’s eyes as they experience performance ups and downs is invaluable insight that becomes your ART skill set. Knowing when to encourage, support, hug, push, ride, or leave well enough alone – it can become intuitive but only after practice. The more you see and feel organic responses to performance outcomes the more you understand what emotion looks and tastes like, and appreciate its powerful influence on motivation.

Effective leadership requires knowing theory and knowing people, or rather knowing people and knowing theory. After all, theories don’t have emotions, people do, and its people who drive business.

BULLYING AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Not quite culling the same broadstroked attention as childhood obesity yet, bullying is fast becoming a forefront public issue because the consequences are devastating and the prevalence rate is increasing. Every seven seconds a child is bullied on a school playground, it causes 160,000 kids to miss school every day and significantly contributed to 2/3 of the 37 most recent school shootings.

Not dismissible as kids being kids, bullying at best denigrates victims and at worst leads them to commit ultimate acts out of desperation. In response, a growing number of schools are delivering anti-bullying programs to the good news they reduce the prevalence by 50%.

Enter physical activity. Personal responsibility begins with respecting the rights and feelings of others. Considering its characteristics, physical activity is uniquely opportune to foster the basics of respectful behavior.

First, it’s a natural draw for kids because it’s fun. This means large groups of kids playing together at any one time; re, in physical activity there tends to be a captive audience.

Second, there are no secrets on the playground, meaning the interactions that occur during activity are overt. This offers endless opportunity to teach responsible behavior and respond to disrespectful actions such as disparaging interactions, or equipment/facility abuse.

Third, activity invokes emotional responses that offer teachable moments. During sport/game play, it’s common to experience a gamete of emotion – elation, frustration, discouragement, joy. The overt display of emotion provides the means to help kids understand and manage them healthfully.

Fourth, the sports and games that comprise physical activity are governed by rules. This offers objective examples of consequences to behavior. Rule infractions can mean penalties that disadvantage the team or removal from the game for failure to comply. The framework of rules also provides endless opportunities to address honesty and ethical/fair play.

Fifth, sport/game play typically involves competition so provides the opportunity to help kids develop a healthy appreciation for outcomes. This can include normalizing loosing and developing humility.

Sixth, sport/game play typically requires that teammates interact with one another, and the quality of which often determines the degree of success. This offers the opportunity for kids to develop a respect for diversity. It also presents the opportunity to modify game rules to guarantee teamwork, e.g., everyone needs to touch the ball before a goal can be scored.

Physical activity, aka sports, is cultured for its ‘character building’ capacity, including developing the personal responsibility attributes of discipline, teamwork, leadership, commitment, and the like. No doubt, the playing field is an opportune environment but it’s up to adult leadership to ensure the teachable moments are addressed.

FRESH FROM RESEARCH – WHERE’S THE BEEF?

Yikes, it’s an ugly headline: Only 6% of USA adults meet the recommended guidelines for muscle-strengthening exercising (two or more days per week targeting all seven muscle groups)!

Ugly, but not surprising. One current fitness industry trend is offering group classes that focus on isolated or pairs of body parts, e.g., ‘abs’, ‘glutes and thighs’. Marketing aside, it’s interesting to interpret the public’s response to the trend.

At face value, the scant percentage that sustains a comprehensive health-related fitness routine (including strength training) is cause for alarm. Consider women’s bone health alone. Without reversing the growing prevalence, public health estimates that 1:2 women will develop osteoporosis by 2020. Science agrees in strength training’s mitigation so the reality is 1:2 women developing a devastating condition that is…preventable!

Then there is the impact that isolative training has on motivation. Level of fitness strengthens exercise adherence, meaning the more fit one is the more likely one will continue to exercise. The industry neglects this key motivation principle when it offers isolative programming AND messages that fragmented body part conditioning is ok. The more we program and encourage comprehensive fitness, the more fit participants become, the more resilient their motivation to stick to their routine.

Interpreted from a different perspective, the response to the trend is actually encouraging. First, even during the economic recession of the past couple of years, the general public has continued to spend discretionary income on fitness. Gym membership has actually increased as has spending on fitness apparel, equipment and DVD’s. The message here is wellness is a priority and ‘if we build it they will come,’ meaning the public trusts the industry so will populate whatever the offered programming.
That Jane and Joe Public listens to the industry only means more responsibility to the industry to offer programming that serves its best interest. Decisions need to be made cautiously so to not trivialize the physical activity experience, nor outright negate principles that strengthen adherence. Some exercise is always better than no exercise but we can do better than to expect only the bare minimum.

Finally, a message to Jane and Joe Public. It doesn’t take an exercise science degree to realize that fragmented fitness doesn’t make sense. Listen to your intuition when it tells you ‘glutes and abs’ does not make for a sound health-related fitness routine. As an add-on to a full complement of cardio, strength training and flexibility – awesome!! – as the staple of your physical activity participation there is just more to your physical activity self than your stomach and your rear end.

Loustalot, F., Carlson, S., Kruger, J., Bushner, D. & Fulton, M. (2013). Muscle-Strengthening Activities and Participation Among Adults in the United States. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 84 (1), 30-38.

How it IS about golf

Compared to men, a much lower percentage of women occupy the C-suite, a concern inspiring many thoughtful career-ists to theorize and postulate solves such as leadership seminars and workshops. The benefit of professional development noted, another tack might be more effective — make it mandatory for all school-aged girls to learn to play golf. Perhaps too simplistic, but just maybe…

Ahh, golf. For such a simple-intended game—hit ball and repeat until said ball lands in a cup meant for its capture—I doubt the western European herders accredited with its origin ever dreamt it would become a such a high-stakes stage for anyone with professional or political aspiration. Or maybe they knew all along and are bemused watching the drama from the nether regions of their after-life. Well done, lads. Touché!

Many ambitioned men and women alike realize the fairway offers transport to the C-suite, even accepting it as part of the ‘ladder package’ of graduate school/passing exams-certifications/slaying an internship/securing growth-potential, mid-management hire. But while the ethos of golf has evolved the past few decades its deep roots in (male, Caucasian) privilege will likely hue it as long as tee times continue to be made.

For women, the career climb vis-a-vis golf is polarizing: we love to love it or love to hate it. Those who love to love it savor the access opportunity, if not the game itself. I would guess these are the same who also lightheartedly appreciate ‘Mad Men,’ albeit as a (coed) drinking game. Some who love to hate it arrive at acceptance but not without angst, kind of like walking in gravel wearing flip-flops—a constant irritation from getting rocks—but also not stopping to change one’s shoes. Others who love to hate it loathe everything it symbolizes, morally refusing to tee it up so to not compromise their values.

If you are a love-to-love-it you probably wonder what all the fuss is about! Well, there is undeniable discriminatory history even if it’s not a struggle you’ve had to contend with. If you are a love-to-hate-it you KNOW you aren’t going to get anything out of reading this and are mad that you have read this far! But, hey, you might as a well finish. If nothing else you can offer a clever comment at the end.

What we already know is a little white ball can sure cause ruckus! The point here is to move past the love-to-love-it or love-to-hate-it cluster to explore what it is about golf that can support our career aspiration. If you already tee it up hopefully you will gain insight to hone how best to (continue to) use it to climb. If you don’t care for it, hopefully you can glean something you can apply to a more appealing context. Bottom line, this is about climbing the career ladder, and golf just happens to be in the mix. It’s not going to solve the debate but since golf HAS stood a test of time there must be something worth exploring, and if not playing golf risks the professional advance you want then you need to play golf. Stop wasting your time debating merit or ethics – don’t kid yourself, no one cares! Get yourself out of the dialogue mire and onto the driving range, don’t waste another day! Hit the dang ball, already!…

And, with that, why it IS about golf.

The dynamic of who else is there: I believe it is Disney’s Ariel who so eloquently yearned ‘I wanna be where the people are’, sage wisdom that surpasses her computer-animated imagery. If ‘the people,’ and you know YOURS, are on the golf course then why for even a nanosecond would you hesitate to develop competency in whatever is going to help you get in front of them? Beyond the (mis) ethic of access/privilege, the reality is many of ‘the people’ are there. You ought to as well.

The dynamic of perpetuating its deal-making reputation: So engrained in cultural lore is the golf course as conduit to big business, corporate golfers feel the aura to close a deal while playing, even when the table is clean at tee off. The hyper-interest to claim membership in the I-made-a-deal-on-the-golf course club may result in lowered defenses (compared to sitting across a conference table) that you can leverage. Making-a deal-on-the-golf course can be made bigger than the deal itself!

The dynamic of its time-intensity. The average round of golf takes about five hours to complete – five hours of being on the line to execute shots and make conversation. This allows you to showcase your stamina as it pertains to leadership.

The dynamic of its (dynamic) unpredictability. Golf requires dealing with unpredictable and changing conditions, e.g., weather, wind, bugs, which allows you to display your adaptive capacity important because leadership means dealing with contingencies, some anticipated others unexpected.

The dynamic of its social-skill dynamic. For the duration of a round, players typically ride two to a cart to make their way around the course. If not before the round, you are sure to know your cart-mate well by the end of the round! (And the other (typically) pair in your foursome). This allows you to display your charm, wit, conversation skills, sense of timing – all critical to leadership. Golf carts are not for the intimacy-phobic!

Objective measure of performance (and objective measure to show your improved performance) and the dynamic of being accountable to your score. A golf score is the total number of shots it takes you to complete a round, the lower the better. This objective performance measure can be further assessed to determine your handicap, a universally recognized measure of ability. Handicapping allows golfers of different skill to compete against each other (see below) respective of their ability. Because a handicap is a recognized objective performance measure it carries panache, perhaps more so than saying “I am a good softball player,” and it is a measure that can be improved. Leadership requires being accountable to the bottom line, hopefully improving it. Golf scoring offers the mechanism to display you possess the initiative to take action to improve a bottom line.

Second, golfers count and report their own scores for each hole, which can call character attributes to task. Do you count the stroke no one saw you take? Do you penalize yourself strokes for having to replace your lost ball even when no one could see you drop a new one?
Leaders are constantly faced with decisions that challenge the bounds of integrity. Golf offers the venue to display your ethical demeanor.

The dynamic of a level playing field regardless of skill. I will never outdrive my brother but I can beat him at a round because course set-up and a handicapped scoring system creates a level playing field, meaning someone of lesser skill can beat someone of higher skill (if the lesser-skilled player plays to his/her typical best). First, each hole offers tee points of varied distance to the green. The ‘forward’ tees are played by those who hit the ball comparably shorter than those who play from the ‘rear’ tees. Regardless of the starting point, strokes are counted the same but with handicapped scoring my 6 on a hole might beat my brothers 4 because my handicap is higher, thus if I overachieve (score better than usual) my net score for a round will beat my brother’s.

Leadership requires consistently performing to your optimum capacity – not taking a ‘day off.’ Golf offers the opportunity to display your tenacity for scoring and competing as well as you can.

The dynamic of rule interpretation. The golf rulebook (as presented by its governing body, the United States Golf Association) is notorious for its detailed 210 pages. By comparison, the Major League Baseball Rule Book is 123 pages and the National Football League Rule Book is 113 pages. While it may not be fair to compare sports rules given inherent characterization differences, golf’s rule complexity is regarded as one of its attributes. Beginning golfers need to learn the rules as well as how to swing their clubs, because infractions lead to stroke penalties that affect the final score of a round—and not knowing the rule isn’t an acceptable excuse.

Leadership requires a clear understanding of the regulations that govern a business or its practice else risk crippling monetary fines, penalties, or criminal charges. It also requires understanding how to apply the letter or spirit of a law, (but never to the extent of compromising ethics or integrity). For example, in golf there tends to be a time and place to allow a fellow player a ‘mulligan’ or do-over shot and/or a ‘gimme’ putt. If the letter-of-the -rules are followed you are not allowed do-over shots and must putt your ball until it falls into the cup, but corporate leaders may find it useful to grant do-overs and gimmees to their playing partners. This also allows you to display your sentiment for policy execution – are you consistent across the board or do you make adjustment based upon the circumstances. Not to judge either approach, but to point out how golf allows the display of this side of your leadership capacity.

The dynamic of creativity and risk-taking factoring into decision-making. Even with the same starting and finishing point to each hole, no two people play a course the same given decision-making differences, and the propensity for creativity and risk-taking. Each shot requires assessing risk/reward to select the club and determine the ball’s landing spot. For example, a pond on a hole forces you to decide if you are going to try to hit over it in one shot or take two shorter shots. The fewer shots the better but clubs that carry the ball the farthest are also the least reliable for accuracy. ‘Going for it’ could mean a shot that clears the pond and settles near the green, or one causing a penalty because it lands out-of-bounds, two very different results.

Leadership requires weighing options then determining the course of action thought to best serve the greater good. Golf displays dynamics of your decision-making tendencies particularly pertaining risk/reward. No doubt decisions tend to be context based but golf is opportune for illustrating your methodical tendencies.

The dynamic of experiencing adventure, adaptability and camaraderie. Golf can be an adventure. Good shots followed by lousy shots, shots that go where we want and others that end up in someone’s yard, seeing various forms of wildlife while looking for lost balls in the woods – all are part and parcel to playing a round, and all make for great stories that can live on with growing lore. Even though players may have vastly different experiences, there is inherent camaraderie in the common ground of a course.

Leadership requires some appreciation or embrace of the sense of adventure. Even the best laid plans can be unexpectedly trumped requiring an abrupt change of course. Golf displays your sense of adventure and ability to make adjustments according to the conditions. In the end, it makes for a great story.

The dynamic of mitigating the performance-related emotions shown by others. Gamblers learn early on that even the hottest streaks innovatively end with the house winning. Golf is a similar equalizer—a hole-in-one on one hole can easily be followed by a several poor shots in a row on the next one. The course always has the advantage and the vast majority of times, wins! At the same time it’s fun to play, it can also be infuriating, frustrating, confounding, and simply, unpredictable. Over the course of a round, golfers experience a full spectrum of contradictory emotions – elation followed by disgust followed by relief followed by frustration, and that’s just one hole.

This can be invaluable experience for leaders since leadership requires understanding the art of managing the emotions of others. Although the arenas are different, performance emotions are the same for employees doing business as playing sports. Exhilaration when landing a new account, frustration from hitting a creativity block, nervousness before presenting a new concept to a client – leaders play an important role in mitigating the spectrum of emotions employees experience to sustain their effort and motivation toward the task at hand. Developing the capacity to read, then appropriately respond to emotions comes from practical experience. Said differently, this is a skill that can’t be learned from a book, rather emerges from immersion. Golf provides the opportunity to develop (and display) this aspect of leadership.

In summary, I suspect this is more than some of you have ever thought about golf (or cared to), as well, you may be put off or consider the ‘go get it’ plea too simplistic, or just irritating. However, it can’t be denied that the pageant that is golf can be an opportune stage to directly and indirectly showcase C-suite leadership. For 5 hours at a time, you are on the line to perform, manage your emotions and respond to the ones displayed by others with the skill of an elite diplomat. Mostly it allows you to display your fire-in-the-belly commitment to a task at hand. While golf may forever invoke contention, we can’t discount any vehicle that pathways today’s and tomorrow’s generation of women leaders to the C-suite.

MOTOR SKILLS 101

You can sigh all you want, roll your eyes and click off faster than ever, but I’m not going to give up on messaging how important it is that you include motor skill practice into your routine.

First, a primer. There are three types of motor skills. Locomotor skills produce movement. These include, e.g., skipping, hopping, galloping, and jumping. Nonlocomotor skills qualify movement. These include, e.g., bending, twisting, turning, and zig-zagging. Manipulative skills involve the manipulation of an implement. These include, e.g., throwing, catching, kicking, punting, and striking.

Not whatever, not blah, blah, blah, not yawn. Why? A million reasons, but since I want to keep your attention I’ll spare more details other than to mention:

–The more proficient your skills the greater your self-confidence…
–The more proficient your skills the more engagement choices you have the more likely you will sustain regular engagement…
–Its never too late to hone your skills…

And, once you begin to practice consistently you will be surprised how quickly you can progress to application! Meaning, with a relatively few lessons or sessions with a reputable teaching pro (e.g., tennis, golf) you can be on the court or course. When faced with a learning curve, adults bring focus, determination, and heightened awareness. Our aged joints may prevent the same performance capacity as when we were younger but the compensation is capitalizing on our readiness and motivation to learn. Add in a mature appreciation for how the new activity deepens one’s ‘Footprint, adults tend to be ripe to practice and learn.

Hey, after figuring out how to use your new phone, learning how to hit a 5-iron or topspin forehand will be a piece of cake!

CLAIM AN ACHIEVEMENT-ORIENTED ACTIVITY IDENTITY

Want to boost your motivation without having to do anything but change how you refer to your physical activity self?

The more resilient your motivation, the more likely you are able to stick to and grow your activity routine. One ingredient of resilient motivation is autonomy, meaning having a sense of your physical activity identity and the ability to exert control within the activity environment. The more defined your identity, the stronger your connection to physical activity and the more likely you make engagement decisions accordingly for your habit takes on its persona.

Net/net, you become what you identify as which goes a long way toward getting you to the gym or basketball court regularly. For example, consider how autonomy sounds different between these characterizations:

I am a runner I sometimes jog
I lift weights I use the weights
I am a swimmer I swim laps
I am a Crossfitter I go to Crossfit
I am a dancer I do Zumba
I cross train I go to step class

Not semantics. Not ‘Oh you know what I mean.’ No ifs, ands, or buts. Identifying as the noun rather than the verb of each pair inspires your psyche to approach engagement with purpose, intent, and meaning. Runners create purposeful running plans that include interval work, shorter and longer distance days, and pace work. Joggers jog when they can with no predetermined plans for distance, time or pace.*

And here are the kickers:

–You can have more than one identity
–You don’t have to be an elite performer to claim an identity

Identities don’t need to be earned according to criteria or rationed to be doled only to a certain few, rather claimed by anyone willing to make the psychic commitment. So, put your stake in the ground, become your business card, claim your territory, or exercise whatever other self-identifying cliché.

Then, when you are ready, take the ultimate step to make it real – include it in ALL your social media profiles.

*Any activity is always better than no activity – the point here is to offer a strategy that builds your motivation to engage consistently in activity that is more intentional than ‘any.’

SMART IS THE NEW RICH – LETS MAKE SWEAT THE NEW EXERCISE GLAMOUR

SMART IS THE NEW RICH – LET’S MAKE SWEAT THE NEW EXERCISE GLAMOUR

How refreshing that we have evolved to value smart as chic! Now, we need to make sweat the new exercise glamour.

Many fitness magazines (both male and female targeted) ascribe to the same glossy presentation as some fashion magazines so portray physical activity through a perfectly coifed, air-brushed lens. No doubt, the display is stunning with each snap perfectly lit for the artistic best in elegance, grace and style – but what a disconnect to the reality of engagement.

Elegance ISN’T what I’m thinking as sweat pools at my feet on the elliptical or when all of a sudden I’m hit with the whiff of an ‘interesting’ smell. Grace ISN’T what I’m feeling when exertion doing the last bicep curl rep causes an unfortunate burst of air to escape from a part of me not meant for the public. Stylish DOESN’T come to mind when I’m doing crunches with my knees splayed wide apart to strengthen my lower core – now that’s pretty!

So let’s change it. SWEAT needs to become the new exercise glamour because ‘glossy exercise’ does a number on our motivation. First, its tendency to focus on the (unrealistic) expectation of body transformation only ushers disappointment when it doesn’t occur. Second, it fails to capture the tactile aspect of doing activity – which doesn’t give our activity psyche anything to sink its teeth into. Pretty pictures are pretty pictures. Glossy exercise is more about what it looks like to do, than actually doing it, like playing AT the game rather than playing the game. Video golf can be fun, and video downhill skiing can be exciting, but neither can draw the same emotional response as feeling the club strike the ball or the chill of the snow. More, glamour can be appealing for its opulent trappings – expensive jewelry, exotic vacation locales, private jets, personal assistants, but real life for most of us is more about the back of the plane than the front so appreciation doesn’t equate to motivation.

Net/net, glossy exercise doesn’t do much to inspire those who are active to remain active and decreases the likelihood of those inactive from becoming active. Yikes!!

Sweat is tangible which stirs the emotion that motivates sustained activity. It’s one thing we can ‘see’ that come from our effort, which inspires energy feeding self-pride, satisfaction and confidence. And rest assured, exercise glamour as sweat doesn’t have to mean bio hazard or coaching shorts circa 1980 – it’s not to say you can’t sweat in an elegant, graceful and stylish manner!

There you have it. Sweat is the new glamour. After all, we can appreciate a pretty picture, but what good is a museum full of pretty pictures if we aren’t healthy enough to walk its halls?

INTENSITY CHECK AND QUICK FIX

Today is intensity check day. Are you breathing hard during cardio and/or weights? Do you sweat? Are you sore the day after weights? Are you getting stronger? Are you developing more cardiovascular endurance? Are you gaining muscle mass/losing fat?

Intensity is the most commonly overlooked exercise principle since many take a ‘as long as I do my time it’s good’ approach to their routine. Or, are satisfied with their bodyweight so without the gnaw to burn maximum calories coast through their workouts on cruise control.

Any physical activity IS beneficial and moderately intense energy expenditure CAN maintain healthy bodyweight, but higher intensity work yields greater benefit that helps to ensure motivation.

Said differently, higher intensity work = optimal benefit + resilient motivation.

For a quick intensity fix, two tried and true intensity enhancers are using drop sets during strength training and holding your arms overhead as you do cardio.

Strength training drop sets – for this technique, continue an exercise at a lower weight after fatiguing at a higher weight. For example, complete 12 bicep curl reps using 25lbs then without rest complete another X reps using 15lbs. Repeat this sequence at least three times taking about 45 seconds rest in between each set. The key is continuing the exercise using the lower weight after fatiguing using the higher weight without pause. (Numerous drop set variations exist. Please consult with a reputable fitness professional for more drop set ideas).

The compounded fatigue triggers a compounded training effect: working past failure twice double shocks the muscle fibers into stimulating hypertrophy (growth). Note – because of the intensity, drop sets should be one component of a strength training routine. In other words, mix drop sets into a routine that includes a variety of strength training techniques.

Arms overhead while doing cardio (appropriate when using the stair mill, stair stepper, treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine) – for this technique, raise your arms overhead while you jog, step, bike or use the elliptical machine on an interval or periodically according to your heart rate. Holding your arms overhead increases the intensity of the exercise by eliminating the assisted bodyweight support that holding onto handrails provides. This requires your legs and core to support your full bodyweight as you exercise. The increased workload means your heart has to work harder to accomplish the same result, which leads to a higher heart rate. Know your safe heart rate maximum before using this technique and consistently monitor it during the exercise. Alternate between holding your arms overhead and holding onto the handrails if your heart rate exceeds its safe maximum. The additional workload leads to strengthened cardiovascular capacity. Note – holding your arms overhead requires the ability to remain balanced while you are moving. Take care to ensure you can use this technique and remain safely stable.

Use these two techniques to quick fix your workout intensity. You are the only you you have. Don’t cheat your benefit or risk your engagement motivation by working out below the radar.

LOLA GETTS ACTIVE

Ladies, let me be the first to introduce you to Lola Getts Active, an apparel company specializing in fashionable active wear for plus sizes.

With the deftness of a Nobel Prize – winning chemist, Lola has cracked the code of how to combine apparel + fashionable + active wear + plus sizes.

Clothing has turned into a ridiculous [email protected]#$ engagement barrier. But it’s anything but ridiculous when the industry itself fails to accommodate humanity’s full spectrum. Commentary aside about the impact a 12”impossibly-proportioned doll continues to have on social norms, physical activity is of the people and for the people – all people!

This is a big deal. Lola Getts Active is about how the clothes feel on you, but most important how you feel in them!

Like manna from heaven, the cuts move with movement rather than binding when bending or pinching when punching. No more worrying about how your clothes are going to perform or wondering what movement you will need to avoid less letting others get to know more of you than you care them to, if you know what I mean.

And no more no I’m not going to be active.

Nope. Stride into yoga and set up your mat in front… March into spin class and take a first row bike… Strut into circuit aerobics and put your step smack dab in the middle of the first row…

When they ask, and they will, tell them Lola Getts sent you… Then don’t forget to notch all the new activity achievement you are accumulating in your Iron Footprint.

Go get ‘em ladies.

http://www.lolagetts.com