Polar Blog Tips, tricks and information about training, fitness, activity, meals, sleep and healthy living 2018-02-22T06:30:39Z https://www.polar.com/blog/feed/atom/ WordPress https://www.polar.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/cropped-polar-symbol-640x640-32x32.png Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[Sleep like an athlete | How to fight jet lag when racing in a different time zone?]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6899 2018-02-21T11:58:20Z 2018-02-22T06:30:39Z Don't nap, obey the buzzer, try getting a jump start... Read more tips on how to fight jet lag from professional triathlete Chris Leiferman.

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This is the real deal, your big goal race ahead: Would you skip a training session or toss your healthy nutrition plan out the window, even for a day? No way, right? But are you neglecting one of the key areas in preparing for your race?

Most of us would not compromise our strict diet and a carefully planned training routine to achieve our race goals. We’re ready to go beyond lengths to work on our physical performance and prepare mentally, but why do we often turn a blind eye to the good ol’ shut-eye?

Just like a detailed training routine and a specific diet, sleep is one of the crucial pieces in the puzzle when you’re preparing for a race – and equally important throughout the training season. Preparing for a race takes a lot of effort even when you’re at home, in familiar surroundings and routines with no extra pressure. It’s a whole different game when you have to travel to a different time zone for a race and maximize your performance despite the grueling jet lag.

So, how can you adjust your body and sleeping rhythm to racing in a different time zone? The need for sleep and sleeping rhythms are individual so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the dilemma. But, we can learn from the pros and try to apply their best practices to minimize the effects of jet lag.

We asked professional triathlete Chris Leiferman from the BMC-Vifit Sport Pro Triathlon Team to share his tips on how to fight jet lag when racing in a different time zone.

Start adjusting your rhythm as soon as you get off the plane

“If your body is programmed to be in rest/sleep mode and you’re trying to force yourself to go full gas when your body is screaming for sleep, it’s obvious that it’s not going to work.”

“If I get to my destination too late and don’t allow myself enough time to adjust to the time difference, I won’t feel 100% rested to race at my best level,” Chris Leiferman says. “If your body is programmed to be in rest/sleep mode and you’re trying to force yourself to go full gas when your body is screaming for sleep, it’s obvious that it’s not going to work.”

That’s why Chris aims to leave for domestic races three days in advance.

“East Coast races are only two hours ahead and Pacific races are only an hour behind. East Coast tends to be a bit tough on race mornings but I try to get as much sleep as possible on the days leading up to the race. That way the day before the race may be tough but it’s not a big deal as I’ve been sleeping well and feeling good before that.”

When Chris travels overseas, he tries to leave a day per each hour of time difference to adjust.

When Chris travels overseas, he tries to leave a day per each hour of time difference to adjust. For example, if the time difference is eight hours, he will try to get to the race destination eight days in advance. This leaves him enough days to adapt before the race.

“It can be hard the second and third day of sleep as your body is still in your own time zone but forcing yourself to stay awake until the appropriate bedtime is important. That way you can switch to the destination time zone as soon as possible,” Chris says.

“The first night is typically easy because you’re tired from the travel but the second and third nights are when it kicks in. Then you just have to battle it and force yourself to go to bed at night and stay up all day so that you can tire yourself out for the next night. The fourth night is about when you’re dialed in on the new time zone.”

Even leaving one hour per day to adjust may be too much to demand from your body because most sleep recommendations advise not to shift your sleeping rhythm by no more than 30 minutes per day.

Even leaving one hour per day to adjust may be too much to demand from your body because most sleep recommendations advise not to shift your sleeping rhythm by no more than 30 minutes per day.

Of course, for most of us it’s not possible to leave several days to adjust at the race destination. In that case, you can start making the switch before you travel and moving your sleeping rhythm gradually (max. 30 minutes per day) closer to the schedule of your destination. Even a small shift closer to the destination time zone is better than nothing.

CHRIS LEIFERMAN’s 4 tips on how to fight jet lag

1. Whatever you do, don’t nap!

“The biggest challenge is getting through the first couple of nights but if you nap in the middle of the day (night time your time), it will take longer for you to adjust.”

2. Cut off caffeine

“Trying to cut off your caffeine intake early enough before bed so that your cortisol levels aren’t through the roof. You don’t want to be a zombie in front of other people but it may be a sacrifice needed to dial yourself in on time.”

3. Get up when the buzzer goes off

“Go to bed at a normal time, not too early, and then set an alarm to avoid sleeping in. This way, you’ll be tired when the night comes and get your rest, while getting yourself in sync with the new time zone.”

4. Try getting a jump start

“One idea I haven’t tried yet is getting on the new time zone the day before I arrive to my destination. This would be forcing myself to fall asleep on the plane when it’s night time in my destination and then set an alarm at a normal time even though I’m still on the plane and it could potentially be my normal sleep time at home. I haven’t done this yet as I try to start adjusting to the time difference as soon as I land, but this could potentially give me a one day jump start.”

 

Our addition to this list: “play” with light.

As we humans are highly sensitive to the timing and brightness of light exposure, our addition to this list is: “play” with light. Dim the lights before you go to bed and expose yourself to light when you get up. Particularly natural light sends your body a message that it’s the time to “rise and shine” so the best thing to do in the morning is to head outdoors and let the sun do its magic.

SLEEP TRACKING CAN HELP YOU WIN THE BATTLE AGAINST JET LAG

The most important indicator of whether you’ve succeeded to adjust your body to the destination time zone is, of course, how you feel. In addition to your subjective assessment, you can track your sleep to get a more accurate view of how you usually sleep at home and how your sleep changes when you’re traveling.

Sleep tracking will help you find out how you sleep and how changes affect your sleep.

If you track your sleep regularly before the race when you’re still at home, you can try to identify the factors that help you sleep better. You can then use that insight to maximize your chances to sleep well in your destination before a race and prevent jet lag from getting in the way of your success.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[4 things runners need to know about cross training]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6894 2018-02-20T13:37:23Z 2018-02-20T13:37:23Z If all you want to be is a runner, why should you do anything but run? Because cross training will make you a better runner. Here's why and how.

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When you’re a runner, you want to run. You probably don’t put massive amounts of energy into swimming, biking, spinning or strength training. But if you’ve avoided the gym, the bike, or the pool for, oh, forever, it’s time to reconsider and mix it up – all in the name of becoming a stronger, faster, fitter runner.

Here’s how runners can include cross training in their routine and why they should.

1. Train like an athlete

If you want to perform like an athlete, you have to train like one, which means being well rounded.

“Training like an athlete means doing more than just running, even if all you want to be is a runner,” says coach John Honerkamp. “You need to do other things that will benefit your body, whether it’s helping increase your flexibility, building your cardio, or doing resistance training. All those things combined help with your overall strength, and will keep you from getting bored.”

Cross training will keep your body strong by working all your muscles in different ways instead of just moving in a monotonous running motion.

2. Don’t wait until you have to cross train

“So many of us only cross train when we have to versus being preventative,” says Honerkamp. “If you’re injured and can’t run but want to stay fit, you’ll have to cross train. But then you’re not used to it and getting into that routine can feel frustrating or daunting. If you’re already spending time in the pool or on the bike, though, you’ll just do more of it and it’s not such a big deal. You already have your goggles and your bike.”

3. There are so many  options

Honerkamp recommends pool running as the closest simulation to running. Other cross training options include working on an ElliptiGo or Alter-G treadmill, swimming, the elliptical, spin classes, outdoor cycling, yoga, Pilates, boxing, or literally anything that gets you moving.

“These are all great ways to keep your schedule varied and your body healthy,” says Honerkamp. If running is your main focus, try to make sure at least 20 percent of your weekly workouts focus on cross-training activities.

“A friend of mine likes to remind me that the heart doesn’t necessarily know what it’s doing as far as cardio,” Honerkamp says. “It doesn’t know if you’re on an elliptical or swimming or dancing at a club. It just knows that you’re doing something to get that heart rate up, and all of that is considered cross training. Your heart is a muscle and it’s working – that’s what matters.”

4. Keep it high and low impact

Cross training doesn’t necessarily need to be low impact, nor does it need to be your “easy” workout for the week. So keep mixing it up.

“Replicate your running workouts on an elliptical, in the pool, or on a bike,” says Honerkamp. “You’ll still get quality work in by, say, doing a minute on and a minute off. Be creative. Add resistance. Gamify your workout. Just don’t feel like you have to go out and crush every workout because that will wear your body down. You can still do too much non-running hard stuff that can lead to overtraining.”

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[How to run better | 5 + 2 exercises to build strength and speed]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6878 2018-02-15T07:27:09Z 2018-02-15T07:27:09Z Here’s how you can fine-tune your training and advance from beginner to intermediate runner.

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As a beginner, running is all about being consistent and gaining a baseline level of fitness. But as you progress and begin to set new, loftier goals, you may find yourself striving to run better, faster and farther. To do that you’re going to need to do more than just log miles.

Here’s how you can fine-tune your training to run better and advance from a beginner to an intermediate runner.

Strength Training

While it’s true that if you want to become a better runner you’ll need to spend most of your training time running, supplementing with strength training is an easy way to get stronger, faster, and prevent many common overuse injuries.

Here are a few basic bodyweight and core exercises that can help boost your running performance:

  1. Planks

    This exercise will strengthen your core, lower back, and shoulders. Begin by holding the plank position for 30 seconds to one minute, increasing the length of time as you gain strength. Aim for two to three sets.

  2. Squats

    This lower body exercise will strengthen the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Start with 3 sets of 15, and progress by either adding weight (such as holding a kettlebell) or including an additional movement, such as a jump squat.

  3. Overhead lunge

    This lunge will strengthen your core, legs, and shoulders. Complete three sets of eight to 10 repetitions with each leg, using a set of lightweight dumbbells or kettlebell for the overhead portion of the exercise.

  4. Stability ball bridge with hamstring curl

    This core exercise will also focus on building glute and hamstring strength. Aim to complete three sets of five to 10 repetitions.

  5. Clamshells

    Fatigue can often cause hip drop in runners, leading to ITBS or other common overuse injuries. One way to avoid this is to strengthen the glute medius. Complete three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on each side. Progress this exercise with a resistance band around the knees.

Training Zones

To become a better runner, each workout will need to have a specific purpose. Whether it’s to build speed, endurance, or to recover from a hard training load, varying the duration and intensity of your workouts is a must.

But before you can begin including intervals and tempo workouts into your running regimen you’ll need to know your individual heart rate training zones. Begin by determining your maximum heart rate by subtracting 220 minus your age or by performing a field test with a heart rate monitor.

Once you know your maximum heart rate, you will then use a percentage of this number to determine your own specific heart rate training zones. Most Polar heart rate devices will have training zone metrics included in their software that includes alerts to help you stay in your desired heart rate zone.

Here’s a breakdown of heart rate training zones as a percentage of your maximum heart rate:

Zone 5: 90% to 100% of your maximum heart rate. Like zone 4, training in this heart rate zone is anaerobic. But because the heart rate is higher, the duration is usually shorter than zone 4 intervals and last less than five minutes.

Zone 4: 80% to 90% of your maximum heart rate. An anaerobic training zone, longer intervals lasting up to 10 minutes are common in zone 4.

Zone 3: 70% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. This zone is still mostly aerobic, but usually consists of a mix of higher and lower intensities during the same workout. Fartlek and tempo runs are two examples.

Zone 2: 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. Known as the aerobic training zone, workouts done in this heart rate range are completed to increase endurance.


Zone 1
: 50% to 60% of  your maximum heart rate. Running in this zone is generally done for recovery in between higher intensity workouts.

For more information on heart rate training zones, take a look at the heart rate chart.

Speed Work

If you want to get faster, logging miles and concentrating solely on distance will only take you so far. Once you know your heart rate training zones, you’ll want to begin including intervals into your weekly training regimen to improve your speed and endurance.

Keep in mind that because intervals are done at a higher intensity than base mileage, you’ll need to add recovery workouts or days off in between these sessions. Aim to complete no more than two interval sessions per week if you’re new to interval training, and keep interval mileage to no more than 10% to 15% of your total weekly mileage.

These two workouts below are an easy way to introduce basic intervals into your weekly running routine:

Workout #1: Straights and Curves

While this can be done on the road, ideally you’ll have access to a 400-meter track.

Warm up with a five- to 10-minute jog, then run one to three miles (depending on your fitness), jogging the turns slow and running the straights as a stride – gradually building your pace to 80% to 85% of your maximum speed at the 75-meter mark, then gradually decelerating to the turn.

If the workout becomes too strenuous for you to maintain, it’s also ok to walk the turns to catch your breath. Cool down with a slow 5- to 10-minute jog.

Workout #2: 400s

If you’ve got a goal in mind for your next race, completing intervals at your race pace can help you get used to what the effort is going to feel like and help your legs build the strength required to maintain the pace.

After completing a slow one to two-mile warmup, complete five to eight 400-meter intervals (once around a track) at your goal race pace. For example, if you want to run a 5K at an eight-minute per mile pace, you should shoot to complete each 400-meter interval in two minutes or less.

Recover for about 90 seconds in between each interval. As these become easier, increase the number of intervals to match your race-day distance (a 5K would equal 12 intervals). Cool down with a one- to two-mile jog.

Find Training Partners

As your workouts increase in difficulty, motivation can sometimes be hard to come by. Having a reliable training partner or a dedicated running group that you can train with a few times per week is a good way to keep yourself from skipping a workout and can help you keep your runs from becoming a chore.

Ideally, you’ll find a training partner or running group that’s slightly faster than you are  someone who’s about 30 to 60 seconds faster per mile. This can be a great way to motivate yourself and provide a visual goal to shoot for. Lean on your training partner for their knowledge if they’re more experienced, and run with them on the days when you want to push yourself.

Just remember that when you eventually get faster, return the favour and offer to train with others who aren’t quite as good of a runner as you.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[An athlete’s love story isn’t about pink hearts and Valentine’s Day cards]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6868 2018-02-15T05:36:57Z 2018-02-14T06:59:59Z This year we say no to the traditional Valentine's Day fantasies and talk about true love for sports. What is an athlete's love story made of?

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On Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to get swept away by the “Hallmark holiday” spirit and believe in fantasies – even if just for a day. But athletes who are serious about their sport don’t have the luxury to stray from reality to make-believe land – or if they do, it may be hard to find the way back.

Instead of pink hearts and fairy tales, an athlete’s love story is made of pain, sweat and tears, but also winning and euphoria. The truth is: Love for sports hurts, but that’s one of the reasons we love it.

The truth is: Love for sports hurts, but that’s one of the reasons we love it.

You know, the feeling when…

  • Your eyes are stinging with sweat
  • Everything hurts but there’s still 10 seconds to go
  • You finally finish and you know you did it

Sometimes it hurts, but there’s nothing like that euphoria of outdoing yourself and pushing through the pain to win, even if it’s just about winning yourself.

But there’s nothing like that euphoria of outdoing yourself and pushing through the pain to win.

Despite the rush and love for sports, even professional athletes have moments of doubt when they feel like walking away. It’s possible to find love unexpectedly without any effort, but sustaining and growing true love for sports takes hard work and commitment.

If you’ve been lucky enough to find it, don’t let it go! One way to cherish your love for sports, is to share the love and the pain. That’s why we encourage you to use this Valentine’s Day to pause and reflect on what love for sports means for you – and what does it take to hold on to that love.

Watch an athlete’s love story and share your own with someone who understands your passion. Maybe a reminder that you’re there is just what your training buddy needs? You never know, your training buddy could be having one of those moments today…

The post An athlete’s love story isn’t about pink hearts and Valentine’s Day cards appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[From zero to 60 or slow and steady? | How to progress in running]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6841 2018-02-07T11:47:54Z 2018-02-08T07:00:45Z Running coach John Honerkamp recommends taking it slow when you're starting out or getting back to running after a break.

The post From zero to 60 or slow and steady? | How to progress in running appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Whether you’re just starting out or you’re returning to running after a break, you may be eager to progress in running and tempted to go all in right away. In spite of all that extra enthusiasm (blame it on the runner’s high!), doing too much too soon can actually hinder your progress in running.

Instead of jump-starting your running engine with full blaze on, running coach John Honerkamp recommends a slower approach if your goal is to keep going and make long-term progress in running. 

Start slow

When you head out for your first run – maybe it’s the first one ever, or just your first run after being sidelined for injury, illness, or other reasons – take it really, really easy.

“Go out and run for 20 minutes,” says coach John Honerkamp. “And keep it to every other day.” That doesn’t mean you have to be inactive on your non-running days: If you’ve been cross-training, keep that up, and start gradually introducing or reintroducing running to your routine.

And TAKE it easy

“Don’t do any hard running for the first three to four weeks,” says Honerkamp. “You might want to and you might feel great, but don’t rush that speed. Get at least three weeks of easy running under your belt before you start doing intense workouts or speedwork.”

Don’t obsess over data just yet

If you generally run with a watch (and we’re guessing you do!), now’s the time to make sure you have a healthy relationship with all those numbers.

“Don’t be married to your stats,” says Honerkamp. “Trust your body and run by feel. Don’t get discouraged by your pace or how much distance you’re covering versus how much distance you want to cover in a certain amount of time. You’ll get there.”

Honerkamp advises running for 20 minutes and building from there, adding a few minutes each week, rather than tracking and adding miles, which add up much faster.

“Just get your routine down,” he says. “During the run, you don’t want to care about your pace. Get one foot in front of the other and know that after a few weeks, you can sprinkle in that spice, that harder stuff.”

If you end your run at 2.8 miles, don’t push it to get to 3 miles. You don’t want to overdo it.

You’ll see progress, but not right away

You won’t have a visible six-pack after doing a few planks, so don’t expect to be faster and fitter after just a few runs. “It takes time to get in shape or to get back into shape,” says Honerkamp.

“But once you get through that initial adversity and remove whatever has been in your way, you’ll start to get there. Once you’re six to eight weeks in, you’ll definitely start to find your groove and feel fitter. If you continue being consistent after that, and include proper rest and recovery, you’ll keep improving and feeling better.”

Don’t push through an injury

If you’ve been sidelined for a while, it’ll probably be tempting to pick up right where you left off. But if you were running 40-mile weeks and then took two months off, your body needs time to build back to that mileage or you risk injury and burnout.

“You might feel great because your injury went away, but it’s so easy to reinjure yourself if you go from zero to 60,” says Honerkamp. “Use common sense, even if it doesn’t feel natural! Ease back into it. If you’re really craving the hard workouts you were doing before your time off, do them in the pool or on a bike. Resist the urge to go hard right away. It’s just not smart. Less is more here.”

Don’t build speed and distance right away

“Just grow your base for a while with easy running before adding speed,” says Honerkamp. “If you do speedwork when you’re unfit, it’s easy to overuse certain things. Base training is usually just mileage, not quality. This is one of those rare cases where you actually want quantity over quality, at least for a little while.”

Once you’ve built substantial volume and your body is feeling strong, you can start to add speed training and hill work to your regimen.

The Polar Running Program will help you get started and monitor your progress in running.

The post From zero to 60 or slow and steady? | How to progress in running appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[When love for sports hurts | Two inspiring athlete stories of pushing through the pain]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6809 2018-02-07T11:45:45Z 2018-02-07T11:00:36Z At times, your love for sports is tested but you can learn to overcome painful moments and master discomfort. Read two inspiring athlete stories of how they pushed through the pain.

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Like true love in relationships, love for sports also takes work and commitment. Without a doubt, in both of them, you have and will continue to go through plenty of painful moments. You know, those moments when you want to throw in the towel, feeling like you’ve tried everything, given your all and can’t push any harder or longer.

You know, those moments when you want to throw in the towel, feeling like you’ve tried everything, given your all and can’t push any harder or longer.

Those are the moments when we all have to remind ourselves: it’s hard, but that’s one of the reasons I love it. For many athletes, overcoming challenges and exceeding their own limits are in the core of their love for sports. At times, it hurts like h… a lot, but feeling that true, fulfilling love is worth the pain.

By pain we don’t mean the kind of excruciating, damaging pain that will lead to severe injury. We mean pushing through the pain of discomfort and hardships to be better.

By pain we don’t mean the kind of excruciating, damaging pain that will lead to severe injury. We mean pushing through the pain of discomfort and hardships to be better.

It’s ok to feel like quitting when the going gets rough, even professional athletes have those moments – but they don’t necessarily act on those feelings. If you want to achieve anything, you need to learn to enjoy, or at least cope with, being out of your comfort zone – in life, love, and sports, and especially when you feel true love for your sport.

These two professional athletes have been there, felt like walking away… but they didn’t – they stuck with it! Here are some of the key takeaways from their inspiring stories of how they pushed through the pain of discomfort.

Find or remind yourself of “the why”

Professional triathlete and Polar athlete Angela Naeth has been through times of doubt and felt like walking away. Like the time she was 27 years old with no money and living with her parents or the time when she was going through a divorce while recovering from a surgery infection.

Angela Naeth came so close to giving up her dream but what kept her from quitting? One of the most important questions Angela asked herself was “Why?” and advises fellow athletes who feel like they’re losing faith and focus to do the same:

“Ask yourself why you’re doing this. Start with that, and action will come,” Angela says. “Never squash a dream. Your inner voice is what matters, and if you have drive and passion for something in life, you need to go for it.”

“Ask yourself why you’re doing this. Start with that, and action will come.”

So during the painful moments when you feel like the sacrifices and compromises you have to make are just too much to bare, go back to the beginning and remind yourself of why you started and hold on to that thought.

Reach out to those around you

Another important thing that helped Angela Naeth through her rough patches was the support from her family, coach and manager. If you have people around you, don’t be afraid to share your pain and ask for help. The people around you are there for you, but they’re not psychic, so yes, sometimes you need to ask and you will most likely receive.

Ask and you will most likely receive.

It doesn’t have to be anything massive. Sometimes something as simple as a training buddy can help you revive your love for your sport.

If you don’t have a support network, reach out and get involved. Join a community, like a running club on Strava, where you can find like-minded athletes, understanding and encouragement.

Become a master of discomfort

Polar athlete and Olympian Kate Grace survival kit for painful moments includes a no-fail trick for overcoming fear and discomfort. She uses a mental tactic to “trick” her brain into thinking: “This is not fear, it’s excitement!”

Indeed, our bodies react to fear and excitement in the same way: heart pounding, butterflies in the stomach, palms sweating. Both of these emotions take us to a hyperactive state where we’re awake and alert, ready to “fight or flight”.

The difference is that fear paralyzes you and excitement gets you going. The best thing is that you can trick your brain into believing that what you’re feeling isn’t fear but excitement.

You can trick your brain into believing that what you’re feeling isn’t fear but excitement.

Instead of just telling herself to think differently, Kate Grace uses physical and mental cues to change perspective, cues that help her to reach a state where she feels calm and ready. For Kate, these cues are listening to certain songs, thinking about someone she loves or focusing her thoughts on something she is grateful for.

And she doesn’t save this mental practice only for race days. “I’m constantly working on becoming a discomfort master,” Kate Grace says. “I tell myself that everything I need to succeed is within me, and it’s here to stay.”

She’s right. It is within you and up to you. So, if you’ve found your passion and feel the love, why not share it?

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[3 weekly workout plans for ultimate fitness – HIIT, booty, core and yoga, all in one]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6740 2018-02-06T07:44:07Z 2018-02-06T07:30:37Z No matter what your fitness level is, these weekly workout plans will help you get and stay in shape – with fun, sweat and tears (of joy)!

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Two weeks ago we started the Polar Fitness Quest 2018, a search for ultimate fitness, with two top fitness professional Else Lautala and Lauri Kalima. The quest was sweaty, fun and challenging but did we find what we were looking for?

Yes and no. What we found was lots of hard work, gallons of sweat and tons of excited can-do attitude. Now, after the quest, we’re more convinced than ever that putting all that effort and joy of exercising together will lead to better fitness and that’s what it’s all about: challenging yourself and doing better than the old version of you. No need to check what your buddy is doing or compare yourself to others.

The point is to outdo yourself, take yourself to the level that’s the ultimate fitness level for you. Even your personal ultimate fitness level is not static, it may move up or down, but the key is to keep doing the work and improving, for your own sake.

Even your personal ultimate fitness level is not static, it may move up or down, but the key is to keep doing the work and improving, for your own sake.

We want to help you keep improving your fitness and have some fun while doing so. That’s why we asked Else and Lauri to take all the workouts they created for the Polar Fitness Quest and use them to build weekly workout plans for different fitness levels.

First, let’s take a look at each workout in detail and then move on to building weekly workout plans for beginners, intermediate and advanced level exercisers.

FOUR FUN AND SWEATY WORKOUT ROUTINES  FROM THE POLAR FITNESS QUEST 2018

WORKOUT 1: QUICK HIIT – 7 MINUTES

Do each exercise for 30 seconds. Do as many reps as possible, non-stop. Rest for 60 seconds at the end of the circuit. Repeat the full circuit two times.

  1. Frog Jump + Burpees
  2. Mountain climber
  3. Side squat
  4. T pushup
  5. Leg raise
  6. Jumping jacks

WORKOUT 2: THE BOOTY BUILDER – 14 MINUTES

Do each of the six exercises for 40 seconds and follow up with 20 seconds of rest. Do as many reps as possible. Rest for two minutes at the end of the circuit. Repeat the full circuit two times.

  1. Lunge kick
  2. Skater jump
  3. Split jump
  4. Single leg hip raise
  5. Jump squat
  6. Side lunge

WORKOUT 3: Crazy For Core – 14 minutes

Do each of these six exercises for 40 seconds and follow with 20 seconds of rest. Do as many reps as possible. Rest for two minutes at the end of the circuit. Repeat the full circuit two times.

  1. Plank reach touch
  2. Plank twist touch
  3. Side kick plank
  4. V crunch
  5. Spiderman pushup
  6. Crab reach

WORKOUT 4: GO WITH THE FLOW – 15 MINUTES

Do each of these three yoga sequences for five minutes. Do them at your own pace, non-stop.

  1. Mountain pose, standing forward bend, low plank to cobra, downward-facing dog and repeat.
  2. Downward-facing dog, high donkey kick, warrior, triangle pose, warrior, downward-facing dog and repeat to other side.
  3. Sumo squat, side stretch, balancing stick pose, lunge and repeat to other side.

WEEKLY WORKOUT PLAN 1- BEGINNER LEVEL

Now that we’ve covered all four workouts, we can move on to combining them into weekly workout plans.

If you’re new to exercising or used to working out 1-3 times per week, this weekly workout plan is for you. We recommend you stay with this number of weekly exercises for about 3 months before you start adding more sessions into your weekly routine.

Monday
WORKOUT 1: Quick HIIT

Tuesday
WORKOUT 4: Go With The Flow

Wednesday
Rest

Thursday
WORKOUT 3: Crazy For Core

Friday
Rest

Saturday
WORKOUT 2: The Booty Builder

Sunday
Rest

WEEKLY WORKOUT PLAN 2 – INTERMEDIATE LEVEL

If you’re used to working out about 3-5 times per week, then you’re good to go and try this intermediate level weekly workout plan. Do this routine for 6-8 weeks and then mix it up with new types of workouts, but maintain the same level of exertion and number of weekly sessions for 4-6 months before you pump up the intensity of your weekly routine.

Monday
WORKOUT 1: Quick HIIT

Tuesday
WORKOUT 4: Go With The Flow

Wednesday
Rest

Thursday
WORKOUT 3: Crazy For Core

Friday
WORKOUT 4: Go With The Flow

Saturday
WORKOUT 2: The Booty Builder

Sunday
WORKOUT 3: Crazy For Core

WEEKLY WORKOUT PLAN 3 – ADVANCED LEVEL

If you’re an avid exerciser, used to working out daily (sometimes even twice a day), you can challenge yourself with this advanced level weekly workout plan!

Monday
WORKOUT 1: Quick HIIT

Tuesday
WORKOUT 2: The Booty Builder

Wednesday
Rest

Thursday
Morning WORKOUT 1: Quick HIIT
Afternoon WORKOUT 3: Crazy For Core

Friday
WORKOUT 4: Go With The Flow

Saturday
WORKOUT 2: The Booty Builder

Sunday
Morning WORKOUT 3: Crazy For Core
Afternoon WORKOUT 4: Go With The Flow

Choose the best weekly workout plan for you and continue the quest for your ultimate fitness!

The post 3 weekly workout plans for ultimate fitness – HIIT, booty, core and yoga, all in one appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[How to start running | The beginner’s guide to get started and keep going]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6710 2018-02-01T07:26:58Z 2018-02-01T07:00:48Z This detailed advice will help you get past the hardest part of running, starting, and stay motivated to keep going.

The post How to start running | The beginner’s guide to get started and keep going appeared first on Polar Blog.

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It’s no secret that running can have a positive effect on your stress levels, immune system, and overall health, but how to start running? We asked former collegiate runner and endurance sports editor Marc Lindsay for his beginner tips to get started with a running regimen.

Starting a running program isn’t easy, but the health benefits and relatively low start-up costs make it one of the most beneficial lifestyle choices you can make.

Use this guide to find out exactly how to start running and stick to it. 

Get the Right Gear

One of the best things about running is that unlike in other sports, you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. But, while it might seem like a pair of running shoes is all that you’ll need, there are a few other items that can make your workouts a little more enjoyable and productive.

Here are a few items to consider before you start your running program:

A new pair of shoes

Whether or not you already own an old pair of running shoes or not, if you’re serious about starting a running program you’ll need to invest in a good pair of running specific shoes. Visit a running specialty store where you can run in several different pairs on a treadmill before you decide on a model. Employees may also recommend specific models after watching you run and determining how your foot strikes the ground. The shoe you select should also match your overall fitness level and goals.

Running-specific clothing

Sure, you can run in any old pair of shorts and basic t-shirt. But the truth is the more you run the more you’ll appreciate technical, moisture wicking fabrics made for runners. These clothes are also lightweight, built to keep you cool and dry in warm weather, and won’t irritate the skin. A hat to shield your face from the sun and a sports bra for women should also be on your list.

A heart rate monitor

While training in heart rate zones may be more for intermediate and advanced runners, a heart rate monitor and GPS watch can be a useful tool for beginners, too. In addition to tracking your workout time and mileage, a good heart rate monitor can also give you information, such as calories burned and recommendations on how much time you need in between workouts to recover.

Music

When you start running, there will be plenty of mental hurdles you’ll need to get past as you increase your mileage. Listening to music while you run can help you relax and make the difficulty of a new activity a little easier to deal with. An iPod or other small music player that’s easy to carry and a pair of wireless headphones that won’t get in your way are recommended.

Have a Plan

Having a plan will help you stay consistent and avoid injury as you begin to add running into your weekly routine. Where you’ll run, how often, and how far will all need to be determined beforehand – just remember you can always adjust it depending on how you feel from day to day.

These basic principles are good rules to abide by as you start to incorporate a running exercise plan into your weekly workouts:

1. Start by alternating running and walking, even if it feels easy

The temptation will be to run for as long and far as you can the first time you head out the door. The problem is the more often you do this the more you’ll expose yourself to injury and soreness that could prevent you from running in the days that follow.

Instead, start with a walking routine that includes short amounts of running. Depending on your fitness, your first workouts should look something like this:

  • 30 minutes of exercise, alternating three to four minutes of walking with one minute of running.
  • Gradually increase your total exercise time and shorten the amount of time you walk in the weeks that follow.

2. Increase your weekly mileage gradually to avoid injury

The primary goal of any good running plan should be to stay injury-free. If you hurt yourself in the first few weeks you start running, the chances that you stick with running are significantly decreased. For this reason, it’s a good idea to start slow and be patient, building your weekly mileage at a rate your body can handle.

While you should expect some soreness, you’ll need to listen to your body and include rest days into your routine to allow your body the time it needs to recover.

Shoot to include your walk/run routine three days per week at first, with two rest days and two days of low impact cross training (stationary bike, elliptical or row machine). Increase your total walking/running mileage by no more than 10 percent each week.

3.  Start eating a balanced diet

Whether your goal is to lose weight or run a 5K, you’ll need to start eating a well-balanced diet to provide your body the energy it needs to support your increased activity level.

While you won’t need to go crazy on sports drinks or energy gels at this stage in your training, your body will need plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to recover properly. Try to stay away from processed foods and excess sugar or other foods that can cause huge spikes in your blood sugar levels.

Skipping meals or eating an unbalanced diet will make you feel sluggish and make it even harder to get out the door and run. Here is a basic breakdown of where your calories should come from for each meal:

  • Half of your calories should come from vegetables, fruits, rice, and lentils  also known as complex carbohydrates.
  • Thirty percent of your calories should come from healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
  • Twenty percent of your calories should be lean proteins such as fish, chicken, and eggs.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of water and supplement with a well-balanced multi-vitamin.

Set a Goal

Let’s face it – some days are going to be harder than others.

Having a good reason to get up every day and run will help you to stay consistent and push through those difficult days. Whether you want to shed pounds or run a local race, setting achievable goals can provide the day-to-day motivation you need.

If the goal is to lose weight, buy a scale and track exactly how many calories you burn during each run. While the pounds may not start to drop instantly, you’ll eventually begin to see small improvements that will help you stay motivated and continue to work toward your goal.

If the goal is to run a set distance, look into group training runs or a structured running program to help you along. Whether it’s a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or marathon, signing up for the free Polar Running Program can help you analyze your current training history and use this data to setup a personalized running plan that will help you slowly progress to your goal distance.

To receive the service you’ll need to set up an account with Polar Flow, which is available on the web or as an app on Android and iOS devices.

The post How to start running | The beginner’s guide to get started and keep going appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Hanna Lemmetty <![CDATA[3 reasons to add kettlebell training to your workout routine]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6497 2018-01-30T10:01:21Z 2018-01-30T10:01:21Z One of the absolute benefits of kettlebell training is that you get more bang for your buck. Find out more about why kettlebell training is good for your body and wallet.

The post 3 reasons to add kettlebell training to your workout routine appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Looking for a fun, but effective, workout you can do without having to spend hours and fortunes to get to and out of the gym? A kettlebell training session you can do anywhere and anytime, but still break a good sweat and work your entire body.

A kettlebell is a cast-iron ball-shaped weight with a single handle, and workouts that involve them are hard work – in the best way!

Not to be confused with conventional weights, kettlebell training is about combining strength with functional movement. If you’re looking for a lean, muscular physique to complement the rest of your training, then you definitely ought to give kettlebell a try!

Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain more muscle or get an efficient cardio workout, kettlebell training can help you to achieve your goal.

Here are the top three reasons why kettlebell training is worth your while – and money:

1. Get more bang for your buck

Pressed for time? A kettlebell workout can have you out of breath within minutes, meaning you can blast through a short workout and reap the benefits for hours post-workout.

This is because a high-intensity kettlebell training forces your body’s repair cycle to go into overdrive, and means you will continue to burn through calories and fat 24 hours post-training, unlike steady state exercise (activity you perform maintaining approximately the same heart rate/intensity)!

More specifically, tough kettlebell training sessions force your body to use more oxygen.  This means you go into an oxygen restoration period post-workout, which requires burning more calories and speeds up your metabolism.

Who doesn’t want to be burning fat while relaxing with their feet up at home hours after the workout is over?

2. It’s full-body

If you are looking for a way to work your entire body in the shortest amount of time, then you’ll hit the jackpot with kettlebell training.

There are tons of multi-joint exercises that can be executed with a kettlebell, not to mention that a simple exercise, like a kettlebell swing, can work your arms, legs, glutes and entire core. Talk about a seriously efficient exercise!

Kettlebell workouts are ballistic*, but generally low-impact, which also means you can strengthen your joints without getting injured.

*A high-velocity type of strength training that involves lifting and accelerating weight into free space. Ballistic training helps recruit fast-twitch muscle fibres which help muscle growth and strength.

3. It’s inexpensive

Let’s face it, modern gym equipment and gym memberships are expensive!

Given a simple treadmill can cost over $1,000 and fancy gym machines can be worth a small fortune, yet be single purpose, purchasing a $30-$80 kettlebell is a no-brainer. One kettlebell can provide you with the basis for an astounding number of exercises that work your entire body.

Convinced that kettlebell training is exactly what you’ve been looking for? Not yet sure if it’s your thing?

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it this effective full-body kettlebell workout will get you started hassle-free and you’ll be breaking a sweat in no time.

The post 3 reasons to add kettlebell training to your workout routine appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Elizabeth Walsh http://www.polar.com/blog <![CDATA[The 9 best workouts of the year]]> https://www.polar.com/blog/?p=6606 2018-02-02T07:46:19Z 2018-01-25T14:59:12Z After settling in, even the most inspiring fitness routine can turn into a rut. If you’re bored with your regular workouts or need to mix it up, take a look back at some of the best workouts and fitness exercises from the Polar blog.

The post The 9 best workouts of the year appeared first on Polar Blog.

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Starting a fitness routine can be hard. But once you’ve settled in, it feels easy, like second nature even – until that routine turns into a rut. If you’re bored with your regular workouts or just need to mix it up, take a look back at some of the best workouts from the Polar blog. Happy sweating!

1. The Early Bird Workout

It can be tempting to hit snooze the minute your morning alarm sounds – but if you can summon the strength to resist (which you definitely can!), you’ll reap the rewards from your morning workout all day long. Try this bodyweight routine to get your day started with a serious sweat.

2. The Impromptu Workout

While it would be nice to always be able to set aside an hour a day for a workout (and some much-needed “me time”), the reality is that, well, that’s not always the reality. But if you can carve 10, 20, or 30 minutes out of your day, you can still get a quality workout in (even if you can’t actually leave the office). Get started with these do-anywhere workouts from Polar ambassador Lucy Young.

3. The Walking Workout

Running gets a lot of glory, but when it comes to building leg strength, improving cardiovascular fitness, and getting your heart rate up, walking checks all the boxes. Read these tips from Polar ambassador Brooke Turner, founder of Balance Fitness and Nutrition, then grab your friends and get moving – at whatever pace you want.

4. The HIIT Workout

Tabata training forces you to train at your maximum effort in short bursts of time. “Training like this shocks your metabolism into high gear, torches calories, burns body fat, and sculpts lean muscle mass,” says ISSA-certified personal trainer Daphnie Yang, who says these three HIIT-style workouts are perfect for athletes of all levels.

5. The Take-It-Outside Workout

If you have 30 minutes – and decent weather – you should absolutely seize the moments, get outside, and break a sweat, says Polar Master Trainer Maria Selin. Not sure what to do once you’re there? Here are three 30-minute options.

6. The Strength-Meets-Cardio Workout

Most people tend to think of strength and cardio as workouts you do separately. But combining the two will not only save time, it can also make you a stronger overall athlete. Here are five exercises personal trainer and MMA specialist Moses Bentley says will get your heart pumping and help build strength.

7. The All-Arms Workout

Want toned, defined, super strong arms? Bentley has you covered there, too. These five exercises will get your biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles burning.

8. The Hotel Room Workout

Traveling for work and can’t get out for a sweat session? Skip the hotel gym and opt for this in-room, no-equipment-required workout instead.

9. The Foam Rolling Workout

OK, so this is technically a recovery workout, but that’s important, too! Grab your foam roller and show some body your love with these six moves.


 

Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

The post The 9 best workouts of the year appeared first on Polar Blog.

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