Workout Review: HIIT and Resistance Bands

Resistance bands! GAAAAAAR!

Yesterday I finished Fitness Magazine’s “Lose 10 Pounds Workout” and wanted to document some pros and cons here. This was my make-a-goal/New-Year’s-Resolution plan, and I completed each day of cardio and resistance training. The cardio plans were essentially high impact interval training, although they didn’t want to make that claim in the text, so there was already some incremental advancements built into the routine. The resistance band work I kept challenging by adding a few reps each week, starting with 10 and ending with 16.

Overall, the cardio was great. My intervals started at 5mph and 7mph and were 5.5mph and 8mph by the end. I’m more of a jogger at this point, so 8mph is still a little intimidating for me, but I felt like I accomplished something when I managed to do 10 30-sec sprints at 8mph. With the way treadmills change speed, I’m sure some of those intervals were longer than 30 seconds. It felt good.

The resistance band workout I was a little more mixed on. It did keep things moving and got me sweating a good amount. However, these workouts are always advertised at taking 30 minutes and I’ve rarely been able to do them in that amount of time. More often they take 45-60 minutes, depending on the reps and water breaks.

Also, no matter how often I referenced the how-to guide and videos, I inevitably did some of these wrong. There’s the typical wrong-way-to-do-a-squat error that I fell into at first, bending so that my knees extended beyond my toes in the Cross Shoulder Press, and I corrected that the second week. But with the Plank with a Twist, I was doing it wrong 7 out of the 8 days I did this workout. How did this happen?

These magazine workouts can be great, but it’s easy to do exercises wrong if there’s no mirror or second opinion to consult. If I had a workout buddy doing this with me, reading the instructions separately, and then catching whatever I was forgetting, then I wouldn’t have gone so long without realizing I needed to hold the plank for 2 extra seconds each rep, which would have increased both the difficulty and the payoff.

I’ll call it the Arkham Horror Syndrome, a great game, but one with so many rules and variables (and hard to navigate instructions) that you can play for 10 times before realizing UR DOING IT WRONG.

One exercise that I liked a lot more than I anticipated was the Washboard Circle. This is another one that I wasn’t doing right at first but corrected it by the second week. If you extend enough, you can really work the inside of your upper back muscles, and those aren’t always the focus of workouts advertised/designed for women. (As in, the wanna-be-tone-but-not-buff workouts that frequent women’s health and fitness magazines.)

In two of the workouts, the Punch and Row and the Dip and Hip Raise, I kept wondering if the model’s height affected my impression of what the forms for these were supposed to look like. My legs are shorter and stubbier than the model’s, and it was hard to determine how far apart my feet needed to be from other anchor points. You want to make sure you’re working the right muscles and not just exhausting yourself, or worse, risking injury from poor form.

Without dieting, I did lose 3 pounds in 4 weeks and became more toned. I look stronger, whether or not I feel stronger is another question. (I miss my kettlebells!)

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