The Best of the Rest (Other Workout Types)

O-Six_Logo_posted

In the National Hockey League (NHL), the Original Six is a popular moniker given to the first six teams to populate the league. For 25 years, only six squads (Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs) faced off until expansion inevitably diversified the playing field. While the newer teams have their own rich tradition and an ample amount of amazing memories, the Original Six is revered in NHL lore.

Here at Fitdigits, we have our own Original Six.

Walk, Run, Hike, Bike, Cardio and Indoor Cycling will always have a special place in our hearts. For years, the Original Six were the only workout options for our dedicated Fitdigits disciples. However, the release of Fitdigits Version 8.0 introduced over 50 new workout types, and with it the ability to truly customize your workout experience. With that in mind, lets take a look at the next six- the best of the rest. Here are the six most popular of our new batch of workout types:

chart_3Weight Lifting

All of you future Mr. and Ms. Olympia out there have made weight lifting by far our most popular new workout type, nearly doubling the next closest option. While popular perception connects lifting weights solely with gaining mass, pumping iron is a great way to raise your metabolism.

Elliptical

Coming in second most frequently used is our good friend the Elliptical. Elliptical workouts are an excellent alternative to running, in that it allows for a great cardio workout without putting all of the additional wear and tear on your knees, feet and ankles. Maybe try mixing it up on the Elliptical by performing heart rate based interval workouts.

Circuit Train

Getting the bronze medal is Circuit Training. A workout that is short on time but long on results, circuit training is a great way to get an efficient and effective workout. For more information on the benefits of Circuit Training, Shape.com has an excellent article on The 7 Benefits of Circuit Training.

Treadmill Run

Sometimes the relentless summer sun can be beating down a little to aggressively and you need to take your run indoors. That line of thinking has led Treadmill Run to be the fourth most popular new workout type. Record your pace and distance on a treadmill by manually entering your distance.

Treadmill Walk

Walking is a fantastic way to stay active when your body is not up for an intense workout, and Treadmill Walk has slowly but surely made its way into fifth place. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity, and walking is a great way to meet that goal. Read all about The Benefits of Walking.

HIIT

HIIT, short for High Intensity Interval Training, is one of the best ways to burn fat while working out, and Fitdigits users have hit HIIT up into sixth place amongst new workout types. HIIT combines intense short intervals of activity with short intervals of rest, allowing the heart to recover slightly before kicking it into overdrive all over again. HIIT is a perfect companion for a compatible Heart Rate Monitor, allowing you to chart your intervals in an easy to understand graph.

What’s in Your Genes?

We have all heard people say that a newborn baby has his mother’s eyes, or that a young child gets all of that curly hair from her father’s side of the family, or that a rapidly growing teen gets his height from his grandfather’s side of the family. These simple observations are based on the fact that genetics play a major role in determining our physical features. As the mysteries of the human genome are unraveled, we can peer beyond physical traits and discover there are many variables to understanding the full impact that genetics plays. As a Fitdigits user, one question that may intrigue you is, “what degree does genetics play in the pursuit of improving overall health or increasing fitness levels?”

Fifty years ago the Sports Medicine community was satisfied with describing the human physique according to three categories of body types: endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. Later on, primary care physicians began to associate and describe the increased risk of developing heart disease in terms of body shape; i.e. apple shaped for men and pear shaped for women.

Today’s medical technology allows us to look further into the human body to the point where we can actually compare and contrast factors, such as quantity of fat cells, muscle fiber type, heart size, bone density, cardiac output, muscle mitochondria, and even the risk of contracting disease. The ability to measure these more specific variables and potential based upon genetics is important, because they give insight into the body’s ability to adapt and benefit from different interventions and treatment programs.

The key to designing an exercise program is to help the body adapt to a specific stimulus – in other words, to achieve a specific training effect.

Over the following weeks I’ll explore Cardiovascular Fitness, Body Composition (% body fat), and Disease Prevention, in ways that provide insight into the role genetics play. Your genetic profile can be an important guide in the successful pursuit of improving your overall health or increasing your level of fitness. First up, Cardiovascular Fitness.

CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS

An individual’s ability to perform aerobic exercises like running, cycling, swimming or cross country skiing is ultimately determined by the heart’s capacity to deliver oxygen to the specific muscle groups engaged in each sport, as well as the muscle’s ability to convert oxygen and available fuel (food) into energy. Cardiovascular fitness can be measured through an Oxygen Consumption or VO2 test. An athlete wears a facemask over his mouth and nose while running or cycling at increasing levels of intensity. The mask is connected to a computer that is able to compare the difference between the amount of oxygen inhaled and exhaled with each breath. The key finding behind VO2 testing is that VO2 scores are linear with performance. In other words, athletes with higher VO2 scores have been shown to run, swim, ski and bike faster and longer than athletes with lower scores.

Dan Zeman with Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France, testing VO2 levels to monitor and maximize training effect.

Dan Zeman with Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France, testing VO2 levels to monitor and maximize training effect.

VO2 scores in the general population range from 20 – 60 ml/kg/min, follow a bell shaped curve across the range of scores, are slightly higher in males, tend to decrease with aging, and increase when the subject maintains a structured exercise program. However, the most interesting observations are that people DO NOT respond the same way to the same training program, and world-class level endurance athletes’ VO2 scores are much higher, in the 80-95 ml/kg/min range.

Elite athletes DO NOT have higher maximal heart rates than those whose VO2 scores are lower, but they DO differ in how their hearts adapt to training, allowing more blood pumped per beat. They also differ in how the mitochondria in their muscles adapt, resulting in a higher capacity to convert oxygen and fuel into energy. These observations are valuable, because they indicate a genetic component is at work in the adaptation to cardiovascular exercise.

Consider the “sport of choice” of an Olympic Track and Field athlete. Each event has a gold medal winner who most likely realized at an early stage of training that he/she had a natural inclination to performing well in that particular event. One size does not fit all, and even Olympic athletes don’t adapt the same way to a specific training program. Some athletes are genetically gifted for short distances, while others are gifted for long distances. This doesn’t mean athletes can’t train for other events and do well; it just means they start off with a set of genetic gifts that may allow them to perform better in one event over another.

The general population can benefit from this concept. Let’s use an example. If you’re in reasonably good shape and contemplating running a marathon, but you find that you can only handle a slow pace when you train, this could be an insight into your genetic make-up. Genetically speaking, the best distance for you might be a 5-10k. You may actually enjoy a faster paced 5-10K over a long distance marathon, because your body is genetically built for shorter, faster distances. This is not to discourage anyone from running a marathon if that’s a personal goal. I’m just trying to point out that you may find that you actually enjoy one distance over another, discover that you perform better with certain distances, and perhaps experience fewer injuries with your “sport of choice.”

In addition, most of us can benefit from a seasonal approach to training. Even elite athletes train with awareness of their genetic predisposition, knowing that the risk of sustaining an overuse injury is higher when training for a world record. They realize their peak performance and condition can only last for a limited amount of time. Variables such as maintaining an ideal race body weight, adequate rest, meticulous control of calories, and limiting the number of race days allows them to stay in world record shape for race day, ready for show time.

The body also needs to rest. Without a legitimate off-season, the human body will begin to shows signs of muscular skeletal stress fractures, decrease in positive psychological mood states, poor sleep habits, weight gain, and finally a measurable drop in cardiovascular fitness or VO2 scores.

This brings us back to the best questions to ask first: why am I doing cardiovascular exercise, what particular exercise best suits me, and how much is best for me?

My best answer is also the simplest: choose a form of exercise that you find enjoyable, and choose a duration and intensity that allows you to speak a single sentence clearly and without hesitation during the exercise. It’s simply a “talk test.” See if you can talk easily while you’re walking, running, cycling or engaging in any cardiovascular exercise. I also encourage a variety of forms of cardiovascular exercise, and whenever possible, combine them with a social or personal agenda.

Click below for a short 30 second survey

genes

Fitdigits User’s Fitness Habits

In the February Newsletter we sent out a survey to our dedicated Fitdigits users. In it we asked you to help us by telling us about your attitudes and habits around fitness. A month later, the results are in, and we wanted to share what we learned from you all!

Some big picture takeaways:

  • The majority of respondents to the survey are looking to get fit and stay healthy. For more information on training with Fitdigits, we have an entire page dedicated to users who’s goal is to Stay Healthy & Fit.
  • A surprisingly large amount of respondents had no issues finding the motivation to workout. The most difficult part of working out is making it a habit. Once exercise is ingrained into your daily schedule, it becomes as routine as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Only around 25% reported struggles finding the motivation to exercise.
  • Over 50% of respondents reported using a Heart Rate Monitor regularly. However, not all of those respondents were fully aware of all of the benefits of tracking heart rate. Fitdigits outlines the 4 steps to maximize the impact of Fitdigits and your HRM- Assess, Enable, Sweat and Succeed!
  • Over 50% of respondents said that there current workout program contains some Walking. Walking is a great low-impact way to burn some extra calories. We suggest recording walks and steps in general with an activity tracker like Fitbit, and aiming for 10,000 steps a day. Read 10 Tips to Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day.
  • The biggest difference between what type of workout would be part of an ideal workout routine and what respondents actually do is in Strength Training and Flexibility/Low Resistance Training. 25% did some Flexibility/Low Resistance work, but 45% thought they should. 55% did some strength training, but 75% thought they should.

 

  • The majority of respondents to the survey are looking to get fit and stay healthy, though a quarter of you are on the oft-elusive path to losing weight, and a fifth are looking to push the personal envelope!
  • Here at Fitdigits, we often go back and forth between categories as well, though the majority of us, the majority of the time, are just looking to stay healthy and be fit, and to do it in the best heart-healthy way we know. We do understand the different goals, and we value you including us in your journey! For more information on training with Fitdigits, we have pages dedicated to your goals.

Exercising-2

  • Around 65% of respondents have a deep ingrained habit when it comes to fitness, with 40% finding exercise “hard not to do” and 25% who “do it without thinking”. Around 25% have difficulty finding the time or motivation to exercise.
  • The best way to stay motivated is to have an attainable goal. A great goal is to work out 2-3 times a week, 30 minutes per sessions. If you need help finding motivation, set a Duration Goal with Fitdigits MVP.

HRM-2

  • Over 40% of respondents reported not being familiar with training with heart rate monitor. 35% reported being “very familiar” and don’t leave home without it.
  • We don’t workout without a heart rate monitor, period! In order to fully unleash the power of Fitdigits, it is essential to have a heart rate monitor. With a heart rate monitor, you can get a more accurate calorie count, custom heart rate zones and complete a Fitdigits Fitness Assessment.

Goal-2

  • Over 40% of respondents have a goal or event they are working towards, be that goal self-imposed, a goal with their workout community, or a race. However, around 50% have no goal or event they are working towards, with no plans to.
  • While working towards an event like a 5k or 10k is great motivation to give you the push you need to get your workouts in gear, everyone is different and find motivation in different ways. This goes hand-in-hand with most respondents saying they workout to get fit and stay healthy. If you are training for an event, train using duration instead of distance for best results.

Program

  • Over 60% of respondents stated that they do some other form of Cardio for workouts, with 55% doing some strength training and 45% doing some walking.
  • If you are doing an other cardio workout, we suggest using the Other Workout Type in the Fitdigits app.

Ideal

  • Everyone wants to get buff! Almost 3/4 of respondents would incorporate strength training into their ideal workout program. 45% wanted to add Yoga/Light Resistance/Stretching into their workouts.
  • We strongly suggest adding weight lifting to your workout regimen. Forget the old myth about strength training getting you bulky- lifting weights is not only a great way to get fit, it can also increase your metabolism.

Thank you so much for participating!

In Honor of Jesse Owens

February is Black History Month, and Fitdigits is proud to honor American Olympian Jesse Owens.

Owens is famed for competing in multiple events in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. Owens, an African American, competed in front of Adolf Hitler and a German crowd that espoused Aryan Superiority, which was the notion that Caucasians from European and West Asian decent were genetical superior.

No matter what his race, in 1936 Owens was the best sprinter on the planet. Owens dominated, winning 4 gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m Relay, and Long Jump.

8 Gift Ideas for Moms Who Love to Run

If your mother enjoys running, show your support for her favorite sport by giving gifts that will take her next run from so-so to WHOA this Mother’s Day.

Here’s a list of eight must-have running accessories that every mom who runs will love.

  1. RunPhones, $39.95
    There’s nothing more irritating that earbuds that pop out of place while running. That’s why mom will appreciate the new RunPhones, a sporty and snug, moisture-wicking headband that features built-in, high-performance headphones that stay in place while absorbing sweat dripping down the face. Available in blue, black, orange and green.
  2. The Saddle Forearm Mount, $29.99
    Running with a smartphone offers many benefits, from tracking routes and distance to playing music. However, the current bicep armbands do not offer a convenient placement for accessing or viewing the device while moving. That’s why the new forearm mount for the iPhone, The Saddle from Fitdigits, is the perfect accessory for mom. The Saddle contours to the user’s lower arm for the best position to view, access, and interact with apps, music, text messages and more. Available for $29.99 from Fitdigits.com.
  3. Give Mom a Fitdigits Saddle

  4. Runner’s High Cuff from LUCY, $14.00
    These stylish wrist cuffs feature a small pocket with a Velcro closure so mom can stash her cash, keys or other little essentials next time she hits the trail or streets. Save her from having to shove those items in her sports bra!
  5. Storebelight by Nathan, $10
    Busy moms may clock in a few miles before the day starts and the sun comes up in order to fit a run into their jam-packed schedules. Keep her safe with this slim and lightweight blinking light that provides hours of high-visibility illumination and securely clips to any garment.
  6. Nike Elite OTC Socks, $40
    The latest trend among runners and other athletic circles are compression garments that promise an increase in oxygen delivery, a decrease in lactic acid, cramp prevention and minimizes muscle fatigue. For women who run regularly or are training for a long distance race, compressions socks are a great gift to help boost recovery between workouts.
  7. Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews, $27 (Box of 12 Packets)
    After a long day, mom may need a boost of energy to get through her next run. Offered in cherry, berry and orange, these sweet-tasting energy chews are certified organic, gluten free and fortified with 100 percent RDA Vitamin C so mom can fuel up the all-natural way.
  8. Viiiiva Heart Rate Strap, $79.99
    Forget awkward adapters! This new Viiiiva Heart-Rate Monitor turns a Bluetooth Smart enabled phone into a running monitor, sending data seamlessly and in real-time to any of the popular fitness apps. Sync with Fitdigits’s iCardio app to track and monitor heart rate, caloric burn, pace, distance, duration, map routes and more with voice and visual feedback. Now mom can evaluate progress and continue improving each run session.
  9. Engraved RUN Necklace from Etsy, $36.50
    For the mom who has the latest gadgets and gear, your mom can be an inspiration to other women with a beautiful, sterling silver pendant necklace that features the word RUN engraved on a pendant disc.

7 Foolish Fitness Follies

7 Foolish Fitness Follies

April Fool’s Day is a chance to celebrate our foolishness with silly pranks and hoaxes on family and friends. However, we often play practical jokes on ourselves that do more harm than we intend, especially when it comes to our health and fitness.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, over two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. These startling statics tell us the importance of health and fitness education and that it is not something we should fool around with. There are so many misconceptions about working out that we hear often, so we decided to roundup some of the most common.

  1. I need to get in shape to go to the gym.
  2. The gym is not a beauty pageant. It is a place to do the dirty work needed in order to live a long, happy and healthy life. Who are you trying to impress? Like anything else, working out takes practice to master and just getting there is half the battle. If you keep waiting for the right time to start working out, that time will never appear.

  3. Cardio is the best way to lose weight.
  4. While Cardio is “a” way to lose weight, it is not the only way or the best way. Try to vary your workouts, mixing in plyometrics and stretching along with Cardio. Weight lifting is a great way to target fat loss in particular, as weight lifting will keep your metabolism pumping even after you finish working out.

  5. No pain, no gain.
  6. If something hurts beyond a typical muscle burn, stop what you’re doing. If you don’t receive the proper guidance on form or how to execute a tricky workout move, it can be dangerous and lead to serious injury. Always check with your instructor or consult with a personal trainer on how to execute certain exercise movements if you haven’t been taught before. Peruse this list of common workout mistakes to make sure you are using proper form.

  7. I have to push myself to max effort to see results.
  8. It is better to workout smart then just give max effort until you self-combust. Depending on your health and fitness goals, you should plan and execute workouts that have you transitioning between multiple heart rate zones. The notion that you have to give continuous max effort to get a good workout is one of many heart rate training myths that have sprung up over the years.

  9. Weights will bulk me up
  10. This one is mostly for the ladies who fear lifting weights will lead to bulky muscles. Unless you’re eating more calories than you burn, then you won’t bulk up. Since woman lose muscle mass with age, it’s important to add weight and strength training into your fitness routine. Lifting weights also helps build bone density which is very important for females as well. Always lift a weight that’s heavy enough that you find it challenging.

  11. I worked out so hard today, so I deserve to treat myself.
  12. Don’t reward yourself with fattening food–it will just derail all the hard work you did. No matter how hard you workout, you can out eat any fitness program. Maintaining a healthy and well-balance diet is essential to supplementing your workouts.

    On a related note, just because you completed a hard workout does not permit you to be a couch potato. Daily activity is important, and you should try to reach 10,000 steps everyday. Stumped on how to reach that benchmark? Check out our 10 Tips to Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day.

  13. Cardio machines give me a very accurate read on the number of calories I burned
  14. Purchase the Saddle Today!

    These machines use a very generalized formula to compile your caloric burn. The best way to track calories is with a Heart Rate Monitor such as the Polar H7 and a heart rate tracking app such as Fitdigits. Scoffing at the notion of bringing your iPhone with you to the gym or out on a run? Try The Saddle, the new and innovative way to take your iPhone with you while you exercise. It mounts right on your wrist for easy access and viewing and features a lightweight design that makes you barely notice it is there.

The 12 Days of Fitness Christmas

Twas 12 nights before Christmas, when all through the land
Not a person was exercising, no workouts were planned.
The ham was carved, candy eaten without care,
10 pounds later we complain life isn’t fair.

This holiday season, before you snuggle into your bed,
Make sure to have a Holiday plan in your head.
Fitdigits is sharing the year’s best fitness tips,
To help you avoid adding winter weight to your hips.

Like Fitdigits on Facebook for a Chance to Win a Bike Case!

December 13
12th Day- 12 Tips to Survive the Holiday Season

December 14
11th Day- 11 K Steps a Day

December 15
10th Day- 10 minute workouts, 3 times a day

December 16
9th Day- 9 Ways to Talk About Fitness

December 17
8th Day- 8 Reps, 3 Sets

December 18
7th Day- 7 Wonders of the Fitness World

December 19
6th Day- 6 Times a Day Leave Your Desk

December 20
5th Day- 5 Ways to Get Your Metabolism Moving

December 21
4th Day- 4 Stretches For After a Workout

December 22
3rd Day- 3 Workouts a Week

December 23
2nd Day- 2 Tools to Use With Fitdigits to Lose Weight

December 24
1st Day- 1 You

December 25
Merry Christmas!

Tell us what you have learned in 2013 by taking a brief Survey.

1 You

Twas 1 nights before Christmas, when all through the land
Not a person was exercising, no workouts were planned.
The ham was carved, candy eaten without care,
10 pounds later we complain life isn’t fair.

This holiday season, before you snuggle into your bed,
Make sure to have a Holiday plan in your head.
Fitdigits is sharing the year’s best fitness tips,
To help you avoid adding winter weight to your hips.

1st Day- 1 You

The world is big.

Ground breaking news I know. But think about the vastness of Earth. This third rock from the sun has over 7.1 billion people. That is Billion with a capitol B. For those of you who are not math whizzes, in my scientific opinion that is a whole lot of people.

Below you will find a square full of dots. Each smaller square has 100 dots, and in total you have 10,000 dots. Think of each dot as representing a person.

10,000 dots

You would have to line up 700,000 of the images above to represent the world population. 700,000! Just thinking of the vastness of this world we occupy can make anyone feel pretty small.

I would argue the opposite.

In a world of 7 billion people, there is only one you. There is only one person with your thoughts, feelings, actions, lifestyle and mannerisms. Only one person who has inside jokes with your friends and family. Only one person who has gone through the unique set of circumstances that has made you the person you are today. Only one person with the ability to shape the world around you.

This should make you feel pretty powerful. Like there is nothing you can’t do. You are the lone representative of you, in a world of billions, and are capable of doing anything and everything you set your mind to.

Change starts with you. There is no trick. No fad diets. No 7 minute workouts. We have spent the last 11 days detailing ways to help you on your journey, but it is just that, your journey. Be the change you want to be.

And, oh yeah- MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Tell us what you have learned in 2013 by taking a brief Survey.

3 Workouts a Week

Twas 3 nights before Christmas, when all through the land
Not a person was exercising, no workouts were planned.
The ham was carved, candy eaten without care,
10 pounds later we complain life isn’t fair.

This holiday season, before you snuggle into your bed,
Make sure to have a Holiday plan in your head.
Fitdigits is sharing the year’s best fitness tips,
To help you avoid adding winter weight to your hips.

3rd Day- 3 Workouts a Week

We get it, your busy. Like super busy. Like so busy that you don’t have time to read us describe how busy you are. Like so busy that you just stopped reading this article because your Spouse/Child/Friend/Family/Job/Fill in the blank needs you, now.

However, you are not too busy to workout.

No matter how hectic life can get, always make time to get your blood pumping. It is a great way to clear your mind, relieve stress, and of course get fit and stay healthy. That is why you should try to make yourself work out at least three time a week.

This may not sound too difficult, but it is the crazy weeks that will test your dedication. The weeks where the only break you get from the overwhelming pressure of life is when you stare at the back of your eyelids amidst the bliss of sleep. These are THE most important weeks to find time to workout.

Set a goal for yourself to never go a week (Monday-Sunday) without getting at least three workouts in. Workouts don’t solely mean going for a run.

It could be hitting the dance floor and getting your groove on. It could be going to a museum and walking for hours. It could be having a company softball game. It could be biking to work once a week.

Whatever your workout may be, upgrade to Fitdigits MVP Premium to unlock the ability to set goals. Set a weekly duration goal, and find time to help you help yourself.

4 Stretches For After a Workout

Twas 4 nights before Christmas, when all through the land
Not a person was exercising, no workouts were planned.
The ham was carved, candy eaten without care,
10 pounds later we complain life isn’t fair.

This holiday season, before you snuggle into your bed,
Make sure to have a Holiday plan in your head.
Fitdigits is sharing the year’s best fitness tips,
To help you avoid adding winter weight to your hips.

4th Day- 4 Stretches For After a Workout

Getting motivated to workout is hard. The weather could be too cold or too hot. You could be too hungry or too full. Your last workout could have been too long ago or too recent.

That is why a lot of times when I finish a workout, I’m done. I want a bottle of water and a hot shower, followed immediately by a headfirst dive into a sofa, where I will remain entombed for the remainder of the evening.

This series of events is missing a crucial step.

But when my workout is done, who has time to complete a series of floor exercises that contain all of the excitement of a high school textbook? I did my big workout, made a bonfire out of the calories I burnt, and excreted enough sweat to fill a well, isn’t that enough?

In short, no. Get your stretch on.

Working out without stretching is like giving your car a paint job and new tires without changing the oil. Sure, that hot rod red looks fly and you are powering around corners with the grace of an enraged Puma, but you are perilously close to breaking down. Stretching helps prevent injuries and helps your body function at an optimal level.

With that in mind, check out four stretches for after working out to keep your body healthy and your spirit happy.