Mountain Biking for Fitness, Fun, and Adventure

I may be a little biased, but I cannot think of an activity that better represents the combining of adventure and fitness better than mountain biking. On a big climb, the level of intensity is unmatched, followed by an incredible view from the peak, then a fun and adrenaline (fun-drenaline) fueled blast down the other side. Hopefully, you are just getting started and will be continuing for another couple of hours. And when you are all done, you are dirty, sweaty, thirsty, and you know you just got in a great workout, but the best part is you just had a lot of fun!
But the icing on the cake or the cherry on top is that you just got a healthy dose of Nature Therapy, and that just might be the best part of all.

Non-runner's guide to running and why you need to do it.

If you are reading this, the chances are, you are not a runner. Well, in full disclosure, neither am I. I have been running for the past 30-plus years and until the last few, I have only run to stay in shape. I never liked it, I just did it because I had to. If the only reason I can convince you to run is because you have to, that is something I can live with. But, my hope is that I can convince you to like it (whether you like it or not).

The Benefits of Running:

  • It's Convenient - the most convenient form of exercise.
  • It's Inefficient - And that's what makes it so good for you.
  • It works - You will lose weight and become healthier.
  • You will not only live longer, but you will live better (or at least healthier).
  • It can be fun (no, really).
  • Studies show, It's not bad for your knees (well, not as bad as you have been led to believe).

Mini-HIIT Beach Workout

High Intensity Interval Training at the Beach
A workout designed to push your heart rate to its upper limits for short bursts, followed by "rest" periods in which you still keep your heart rate in its cardio zone. During these "rest"periods, we mix in strength and balance exercises for an all-around awesome workout. 

The Workout
Strength Mini-Circuit (2 sets - all done on a 30 seconds work / 10 seconds rest cadence)
  • Push Ups
  • Dumbell Swings
  • Squats w/shoulder raises
  • Lawnmowers
Light run with hand weights for 1/4 mile to stairs.

Cardio Mini-Circuit (2 sets with no timer)
  • Charge up stairs
  • Body Rows on TRX
  • Dips on wall
  • Jump rope
Extra Credit: Finish with a punishing Ab/Core circuit(30 sec on/14 sec rest):
  • Bicycles
  • V-Ups
  • Trunk twists
  • Crunches
  • Leg lifts
This workout is not easy, but you can do it. There are ways to cheat as well, but you will only get away with it for a few sessions. That's all you will need.

See you out there!

HIIT = Smarts?

Many experts suggest that high-intensity interval training is an effective protocol for improving body composition. New research suggests HIIT can also positively impact brain function.

"The purpose of our study was to assess the effects of a training intervention combining high-intensity interval training on anthropometric data, exercise toler­ance, cognitive performance and cerebral oxygenation during exercise in over­weight adults," the authors reported.

The researchers recruited six adults, who completed a 4-month training program consisting of two HIIT sessions on an ergocycle and two resistance training sessions I per week. By the end of the study, all the usual markers of changesuch as improve­ments in maximal power, VO2max and maximal heart rate - were present. Weight, body mass index, waist circumference and fat mass had decreased across the board. But the scientists also noticed improvements in executive function and memory.

"In addition to improvements in exercise tolerance, a program combining HUT and resistance training could improve executive functions in overweight adults," noted the authors. "These results were associated with changes in cerebral oxy­genation measured using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, suggesting that variations in deoxyhemoglobin are much more related to exercise tolerance than oxyhemoglobin."

The data was presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto and published in the Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (2012; 55 [S1], e314-15).
Readers should consider that this was a very small study.

Resistance Training vs. Aerobic Training

Which Is Best for Weight/Fat Loss?

That's precisely the question that researchers from North Carolina wanted to investigate. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2012; 113 [12], 1831-37), included data from 119 sedentary individuals, aged 18-70. They were all over­weight or moderately obese. Researchers organized the participants into three groups: resistance training, aerobic training and RT/AT combina­tion. The RT group met three times per week and com­pleted 1 set of 8-12 repeti­tions during weeks 1 and 2; 2 sets of 8-12 reps during weeks 3 and 4; and 3 sets of 8-12 reps during week 5. If a participant reached 12 repeti­tions, the supervising researcher increased the load by 5 pounds. The AT group com­pleted the caloric equiva­lent of 12 miles at 65%-80% of peak VO2 per week. The combination group completed both protocols.

Which intervention proved most effective?