Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2016 Triathlon in a Month

I am excited to announce that it's nearly time for the fourth annual Your Fitness Quest Triathlon in a month which will take place during the month of March. Before you start making excuses why you can't do this, let me first clarify that the event is free, then address the 3 biggest excuses I have heard in that past.

1) You are a bad swimmer or you don't have access to a pool.  I can relate to this since I am a horrible swimmer and do a good portion of my swim mileage on my back. Just go to a local pool and knock out the swim portion over several days. It doesn't matter how deep it is or what stroke you use.

2) You don't have a bike or helmet or it's too cold outside. I haven't owned a bike for over 30 years so I just use a stationary bike at the gym. You can do the same if you don't have a good bike or ideal biking conditions. You can even watch a video while you do it.

2) Many people say they can't run due to knee or other injuries. You can walk the running portion and it still counts. If you watch triathlons you will see fatigued runners doing the same. If you need to avoid high impact activities like running you can still complete the mileage by walking.

Enough with the excuses. Our job is to figure out solutions to our problems. Anyone who really wants to accomplish this can. So just make the decision and get started with us on March 1st.

This triathlon is unique because it is one you can do at your own pace. Very few people are able to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, then run a full marathon of 26.2 miles in one day. Some of the elite finishers of this event are able to complete the entire 140.6 mile relay in under 9 hours. My hat is off to the hard core endurance athletes who are able to do this, but I think that's a little extreme and daunting for the general population. That is why I like the idea of completing a full blown triathlon but doing it over the course of a month.

Some people think that taking an entire month to complete it is too easy for them while others doubt they could ever do it. That is the beauty of doing it at your own pace. If you are already in great shape, then go for it and try to finish it in a couple days or within a week. If you know it will be hard and challenging for you, then just chip away at it day by day and take the entire month to accomplish it. Luckily you won't have the usual 17 hour cut off time to qualify that they do at the Iron Man Triathlon. You technically have 744 hours to complete it!

This is a great opportunity to improve your conditioning if you've gotten out of shape since the holidays. It's also a great way to actually complete a triathlon without wreaking havoc on your body. I've received a lot of positive feedback in the past by the many people who went way out of their comfort zones to participate in this event.

Because this is a do it on your own event, we are on the honor system and you are also able to do it at your local gym or home. The only rule is that you don't start keeping track of your mileage until March 1st. You can do all the swimming at once or combine events each time you work out as long as you eventually complete the mileage totals for each category.

If you'd like to join us, you can register by e-mailing me at I will send you the activity tracker sheet you can use to monitor your progress and will invite you to the Facebook event page where you will get updates, friendly banter, motivation, and encouraging messages. Registration and participation are free. Your Fitness Quest is not responsible for any accident or injury of the participants. Always consult a physician before starting an exercise program.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Push Ups

Push ups are a great exercise, but I've found that many people don't care for them or they are intimidated by them. Maybe that's because the armed forces are known for using push ups as a punishment. There are many different kinds and variations of push ups, so just about anyone can find a style that works for their fitness level.

If you are a beginner or don't have enough strength to do standard push ups, you can start by doing the easiest version which is leaning against a wall and placing our hands at chest level then leaning in. To add difficulty change the angle by moving your fee back further or using a shorter object to lean against like a retaining wall or standing at the bottom of stairs and doing push ups while putting your hands on the 4th or 5th stair.

The next level of progression are knee push ups (sometimes referred to as girl push ups.) I prefer to call them modified push ups. Rather than balance on your toes, you perform the push up while kneeling. If you can do more than 12 of these, you are probably ready to move onto regular push ups.

Poor form is a common problem when doing push ups, so try to keep your body in a straight line in plank position. Don't sag in the middle or raise your hips too high, It is also common for people to drop their head towards the ground when doing push ups so remember to keep your neck and head in a neutral position. Envision that your body is straight like an ironing board as you perform each push up and there is a line running through your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders and head. Keep your core and glutes tight and come down far enough with each repetition so that if there was a golf ball under your chest you would touch it.

There are many variations of push ups. Wide grip push ups target the chest more and close grip will utilize more triceps. There are also staggered push ups, weighted push ups, sphinx push ups, pyramid or diamond push ups, dive bombers, push ups with handles or dumbbells, negatives or eccentric push ups, and a variety of other styles. If you get bored with regular push ups or if you are looking for more of a challenge you can consider the following advanced variations.

* Elevate your feet up on a higher surface to increase the difficulty.

* Throw some plyometrics into your chest work out by clapping in between each repetition. This sort of explosive action will help you increase power.

* You can also perform them against a Swiss ball as opposed to a solid floor. This increases difficulty due to having an unstable base and will utilize more shoulder and core stabilization.

* For someone who is already very fit and wants to get extreme, try some Rocky Balboa one handed push ups or fingertip push ups, as Bruce Lee is demonstrating below. (Good luck)

Whether you are a beginner doing easy modified push ups, or an advanced show off who can do the crazy hard stuff, push ups should be a staple in your exercise program. They are simple, they can be done anywhere, and are very effective for strengthening your chest.