Here are a few more or less helpful tips and tricks I picked up on the way:
Ways to modify your workouts
Back pain during floor exercises such as abdominal workouts can be countered with adding a towel underneath the area you experience pressure. Always use a Yoga Mat. Depending on the exercise you might feel it in your lower back, abdominals or thighs. Specially exercises that are targeted to work on your whole core will lead you to feel it in the areas that are the weakest of the three mentioned before. So i.e. don’t feel alarmed if you feel it in your thighs instead of in your abs when doing bicycles.
Problems doing Push-ups
If you are a beginner and have problems doing push-ups here is what you can do: You can start doing some simple push up moves against a wall. Stand a few meters away and rest on your hands while slowly lowering yourself down against the wall and pushing yourself up again. Hold your midsection tight and imagine you are pulling your bellybutton to your spine. Once you are strong enough and can do about 15 repetitions you can change to your knees. Do normal push-up moves but rest on your knees while keeping your core tight. Once again, as soon as you are able to do at least 15 you should switch to normal push-ups. Always try to do as many of the versions you can do and then later switch to one version that is a bit easier. For example I started out with only doing 2 normal push-ups and then went ahead and changed to my knees for additional ones.
Wrist problems (push-ups or Yoga)
When first starting out with push-ups I experienced quite a bit of pain in my wrists. You can either try to do the push-ups on your wrists (Karate Kid style, yo!) or buy push-up bars/stands. They will make it a tiiiiny but harder due to the added range but it will help you with any kind of wrist problems. Eventually you will be able to do push-ups without the stands *in Tony Horton voice* “if you then so desire”. The same is true for Yoga poses that strain your wrist – you can either try to do them on your fists or use a Yoga block’s longer side to do the exercises.
Problems doing Pull-Ups
Pull-ups are probably among the hardest exercises when it comes to resistance training. Men are stronger in their upper bodies so these workouts are specially tough on female fitness junkies. That’s not to say men don’t struggle with them either.
There are a few tricks to modify and help you to achieve your goal of doing unassisted pull-ups:
- You can use a chair and rest one of your legs on it while you let the other hang down. While pulling yourself up on the bar you simultaneously push straight down with your leg resting on the chair. Make sure you don’t push forward however.
- Do negative pull-ups which means you are using a chair or even jump up so your chin is over the pull-up bar and then let go of the chair and then lower yourself down in slow motion.
- Use resistance bands to help you initially while wrapping both ends around the bar on opposite ends and rest your knee inside the bend of the band while you do the moves normally. You can adjust how much resistance the band provides you depending on what kind of weight your band is assigned with. It will take a bit of trial and error to find one that is right for you (not too tight and not too lose).
It’s important to try to figure out if you hurt yourself or if you are experiencing muscle soreness.
If you experienced a sharp sudden pain during your exercise in any part of your body, chances are that you hurt yourself in one way or another. In this case only finish the exercise if the pain is not bad and you can go on without a lot of troubles. Even then use the RICE method to treat the spot in question. If the pain persists and doesn’t get better within a few days make sure you visit your doctor.
General pain and stiffness the next day is to be expected after intense workouts. This type of pain is hard to perfectly localize unless you press your muscles directly and will die down after a few days.
Hunger or craving attacks are most of the time happening if you are under-hydrated. So first, make sure you really do drink enough throughout the day. I find that carrying around a little water bottle with a cap which I refill as soon as it’s empty, really helps with remembering to drink enough.
If you really feel like you can’t live without chocolate try to buy dark chocolate which is much lower in calories then brown one and stay away from white chocolate altogether. A bit of dark chocolate with almonds or walnuts is a good “cheat” treat.
Handy snacking options
Here are a few of my favourite at work snack options which are easy to store and don’t need any or only minimal preparation: Protein Bars (or a general nutrition bar), apples, pears, greek low fat yoghurt with honey, Almonds, Walnuts, Toast with Peanut-butter.
Self-made after workout-drink
Light chocolate drink or grape-juice with a spoon of protein powder will do the trick and provide a good carb/protein ratio.
It’s surprising how many restaurants offer whole what pasta, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. Stay away from deep fried food and ask for the dressing to be separate if you are ordering salad. Fish, Salads and Chicken meals are always a good choice if you are eating out. Most restaurants also offer fit meals which come with a salad as side-dish. You can also always ask for an additional plate of veggies on the side to make sure you have a nice balanced approach.
Getting used to eating breakfast
I had a hard time getting used to eat something in the morning, so I started with drinking something in the morning (other then water!). Protein Powder in your favourite flavor mixed with skim milk or water is an nice alternative to get your stomach used to work early mornings. And if you have a powder that you like they do taste like milk shakes, specially if you mix them with ice-cubes during summertime. A nice recipe is to mix powder, skim milk, half a banana and ice cubes for a yummy banana shake.
More questions or problems? Let me know and I can research and get back to you with an answer