Why I prefer to Kickbox Barefoot!

I am often asked why I teach kickboxing classes without sneakers. I teach classes in a dojang where we respectfully remove shoes before entering. Having trained in the martial arts for over 20 years, I can honestly say that I have never suffered any injuries to my feet or ankles due to the fact that my barefoot martial art training has strengthened these areas.I also teach kickboxing in a corporate gym and also request my members to remove their sneakers but keep their socks on if they so prefer.
 
Why go barefoot?
Did you know that the human foot and ankle has more than 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments?
 
Our feet are very complex and each of the bones, joints and muscles in our feet have developed over millions of years of evolution. Why do we care about this? Because most modern-day running/cross training shoes are very restrictive and prevent your feet and ankles from moving naturally. Wearing shoes is like wearing a cast. A cast prevents movement (usually for healing purposes) and when that cast is removed your are much weaker in that specific area.
 
Or think of it this way; what would happen if your wore an ankle brace everyday for a year and then suddenly removed it? That’s right, your ankles would be extremely weak because your muscles and tendons would not have had to work very hard at all and most likely you would probably roll your ankle the minute you tried some sort of athletic movement.
 
Do you ever wonder why so many people suffer from foot pain or Plantar Fasciitis?
 
So going barefoot whenever possible greatly strengthens your feet and signficantly reduces pain and injuries. This reduction in pain and injuries is not just for your feet, the benefits transfer through out your entire body. Many people have a reduction in back pain because when your feet become stronger, your stride begins to improve, and you move much more naturally and much more fluid!
 

Fitness Kickboxing in 2013

Many of us reflect on what we've accomplished in the past year. Fitness is such an important part of life's journey because of the health and physical gains, the psychological, social and self-worth benefits. To begin and continue along a new and different path in life can be exciting and motivating, but more often it is both difficult to get started and to persevere.
Most have tried exercise programs, have read about them, know what they should be doing, and may even have experienced the many benefits. But just knowing what you should be doing will not give you improvements in your fitness level; you cannot just think about it, you can only improve by doing the activity.
Some of the obstacles you may face when starting an exercise program are self-doubt, lack of confidence, nervousness, and self-condemnation.
Self-doubt and lack of confidence are often based on negative past experiences, times when you have not been successful in performing an activity. If you are not in the habit of training or exercising, a positive attitude about exercising will not just occur spontaneously. The emotions readily available are only negative ones or none at all and you do not have experiences to fall back on.
The mind habitually takes you back to unsuccessful times and inhibits you from performing. The lazy feeling or the feeling that you do not want to workout occur because these are the thoughts and emotions that have consistently accessed and they are the one that most readily available. Try to reflect on moments when you were at your best. Start building successful experiences and train your mind to go to these positive times, concentrating on how great it felt and that you were successful.
 
Concentrate and focus on what you are doing and just experience the activity. Try not to give any rating to the performance, stay in the moment, and let go of the past and any failures. Remember by starting and doing the activity you have already succeeded. Build on this feeling of accomplishment.
The Ultimate Workout
Fitness boxing is one of the most dynamic workouts to engage in which is why we call it the "Ultimate Workout" at AITKD. When hitting the heavy bag, feel the power in the arm, the contact with the bag and the rebound off the bag. Focus on the smooth rhythm of your punches as you improve hand-eye coordination. Develop your cardiovascular endurance. Try to become only involved in the activity, making the movements spontaneous and automatic. Get in the zone - work it!
Exercising regularly gives you a sense of well being. Missing a workout day will just not feel right. On those days that you do not feel like exercising try to discover why and then park that tiny voice that keeps telling you that you really do not want to expend the energy, that you are tired or you have more important things to do. Just start and if it does not feel right, then stop. Most times once you start exercising you will want to continue, and even if you do stop, at least you have done more than if you have never started.
Sticking to a workout program will carry over into other parts of your life and give a feeling of empowerment. How we feel and perform is a function of how and what we think. The sense of well being, relaxation, joy carries over from the workout into the rest of your life. By making the process more important than the outcome, the outcome will result without stress and worry.
Fitness is a journey. The personal challenge of commitment and passion to make fitness a natural part of your every day life. Give yourself time to adapt and grow and make fitness a long-term, lifetime commitment with a goal of making it something that become just a regular part of your every day.
All the best in 2013!

Selecting Proper Weight?

A common question when it comes to weight training is “How do I select the proper weight?” Although the amount of weight will vary from person to person, the feeling you experience will be similar. A good starting point is two sets of 12 repetitions (resting 30-60 seconds in between sets). The 12th repetition should be the last one you can do with proper form. If you cannot reach 12 without a significant struggle, the weight is too heavy. If you can continue past 12 without a problem, the weight is too light. The feeling you experience should fall somewhere in the middle- it is a challenge, but not so difficult that you risk injury. It is better to start with a light weight and add more as you become stronger and the exercises become easier.

After three or four weeks, you might notice some exercises becoming easier. At this point it is a good idea to increase the weight, in small increments of 2-5 pounds. This way your muscles will continue to be challenged without being overworked.

Squats & Lunges

Two of my most favorite exercises!

Since your lower body has the biggest muscles in your body, by exercising the thighs, hamstrings, calves, lower back and glutes, you can actually kick-start your metabolism and burn more calories.
...
You will find that leg workouts also have a cardiovascular element to them. Once again, this is because these muscles require so much more blood, so the heart will beat more to supply new blood to the lower body.

The Exercises

Squats

Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Drop your butt back as though sitting in a chair. Concentrate on squeezing your glutes in your upward motion. Keep your heels solid on the ground. Grab some dumbbells to make it more challenging and only do a half squat to place less strain on your knees. An alternate exercise for squats is the leg extension machine.

The Lunge

The lunge is a great leg exercise to develop shape and flexibility. Keep your chest up straight and your stomach tight. Take a long step forward (or back for reverse lunges) and drop your back knee toward the ground but keep the front shin vertical - do not over extend. Want to make it more of a challenge? Grab some dumbbells. Make it easier on your knees by only going down half way. An alternate exercise for lunges is the leg curl machine. (If you have injured knees - you may want to skip this one.)

These two exercises work the largest muscles of the body - the butt and the legs. By exercising these muscles you will speed up your metabolism and therefore burn more calories throughout the day.

Terrific Tabatas

Tabata Intervals are usually made up of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times (for a total of 4-minutes).

Squats/Pushups/Mt. Climbers/Burpees

Do this workout 4 times, each lasting 4 minutes, the total workout lasting 16 minutes.

Tabata intervals offer a quick way to get fit in just four minutes of high intensity work. But don’t be misled, Tabata intervals are hard.

This protocol was originally developed for Olympic caliber athletes. Tabata Intervals originated from a study by Dr Izumi Tabata into the effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. This groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max). These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.

Dr. Tabata reported that the subjects were wiped out by the routine when testing the protocol and remember they were Olympic caliber athletes, the protocol was described as 6-7 sets, most of the subjects were exhausted after the sixth set of sprints and couldn’t complete the seventh. This style of training isn’t for a beginner and should only be considered if you have a solid fitness base.

Here are some of my Tabata creations!

http://www.ideafit.com/exercise-library/cardio-kickboxing-tabata-punch-drill

http://www.ideafit.com/exercise-library/tabata-kick-interval-wavemaster-drill-

Crazy 8's

Here is the circuit:

1. 60 Jumping Jacks: Done as fast as possible, but make sure you do full jumping jacks.


2. 10 Spiderman Pushups: To do a Spiderman pushup you alternate bringing a knee to an elbow each time you go down.  These can be pretty tough so feel free to substitute regular pushups or knee pushups depending on your fitness level.

3. 20 Lunges: This means 20 total steps, 10 for each leg.

4. 20 Spiderman Climbs: again, 10 per side. In pushup position, lock arms, then alternate bringing one foot to your hand.


5. Wall Squat: Do for 45 seconds.  Put your back against the wall, lower yourself into a squat position and hold it. Make sure your knees are at a 90 degree angle.


6. Plank: 60 seconds.    Do you best to hold it for 60 seconds. 

7. 10 Burpees: Start in a standing position. Drop down and do a pushup, spring your feet forward and then jump up and lift your knees as high as you can.  Pure punishment at this point.
 

8. 50 High Knees: Try to do them as fast as possible. Just keep thinking to yourself, after this is done you get to rest.!

 

Rest for about 30 secs and repeat 3-4x

The Simple Act of Breathing

Why is it so important to inhale through our nose? There are several reasons for this. When we inhale through our nose, the hairs that line our nostrils filter out particles of dust and dirt that can be injurious to our lungs. If too many particles accumulate on the membranes of the nose, we automatically secrete mucus to trap them or sneeze to expel them. The mucous membranes of our septum, which divides the nose into two cavities, further prepare the air for our lungs by warming and humidifying it. Over time, this filtering and humidification process helps protect our lungs from the damage that would otherwise occur.

Another very important reason for breathing through the nose--one that very few people are aware of--has to do with maintaining the correct balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our blood. When we breathe through our mouth we usually inhale and exhale air quickly in large volumes. This often leads to a kind of hyperventilation (breathing excessively fast for the actual conditions in which we find ourselves). It is important to recognize that it is the amount of carbon dioxide in our blood that generally regulates our breathing. Research has shown that if we release carbon dioxide too quickly, the arteries and vessels carrying blood to our cells constrict and the oxygen in our blood is unable to reach the cells in sufficient quantity. This includes the carotid arteries which carry blood (and oxygen) to the brain. The lack of sufficient oxygen going to the cells of the brain can turn on our sympathetic nervous system, our "fight or flight" response, and make us tense, anxious, irritable, and depressed. There are some researchers who believe that mouth breathing and the associated hyperventilation that it brings about can result in asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many other medical problems. Some people, for instance, get exercise-induced asthma, a temporary condition in which one begins gasping for air.


When you work out aerobically the whole point is to find ways to get more health benefits from your workout. Here are some questions you might ask yourself. Would you like to burn more fat during your workout? Would you like to reduce exercise-related fatigue and injury? Would you like to increase your endurance and stamina? Would you like your workout to help improve your breathing?

If your answer is "yes" to any or all of these questions, and it no doubt is, then there is one simple thing you can do: don't let yourself become "breathless" at any point during your workout. When you become breathless, you undermine your breathing coordination, burn sugar instead of fat for fuel, become tight and tense (which can promote injury), and, in general, undermine your endurance and stamina.

The simplest way to know whether you are exercising too intensely and becoming breathless is to try to speak several sentences out loud while you're working out. If you can't do it without gasping for breath, then your workout is no longer "aerobic"--it is, or is about to become, "anaerobic," which means that it is proceeding without oxygen and you are no longer burning fat for fuel. Another way to look at what has happened is that you are hyperventilating, which means that you won't get oxygen where it needed in your brain and body and you will feel as though you are out of breath, even though you may have plenty of oxygen in your blood.

A simple way to ensure that you are working out at a level that will not make you breathless is to inhale and exhale only through your nose. If you try this you will quickly discover, especially at the beginning, that you will have to work at a slower or less-intense rate during your workout. Gradually, however, your breathing coordination and blood chemistry will improve and you will be able to do more and progress more rapidly, eventually going well beyond your previous limits.

One Tough Mudder

On Mother's Day Sunday May 8, 2011 Team AITKD Tough Mudder's took on the North East Tough Mudder, a 10-mile course running through Mount Snow Vermont with over 25 military-style obstacles (mud, snow, 38 deg. water, ice, fire, maple syrup and 10,000 volts of electricity), 13,747 feet of elevation change and 7,000 feet of climbing!! 

We all entered this race with different objectives but all of us trained together for this event, putting ourselves through many weeks of physical training including long distance running. Some of us, including myself, entered this event with pre-existing conditions - mine being "adhesive capsulitis" better known as frozen shoulder. But this was something I felt I needed to do at this point in my life and I was extremely happy that my daughter was there right alongside me throughout this amazing experience. (after all it was Mother's Day!)

While I would like to say I was able to complete ALL the obstacles, I have decided that I am not going to beat myself up over not being able to clear the Evil Knievel nor the Berlin Walls due to my shoulder impingement.  Upon much reflection, I have decided that I didn't run this race solely to be a "Tough Mudder". Rather, I ran this race to test myself and my willingness/ability to do things that I would normally never think to do. The race ending up being more self-discovery and I easily accomplished that goal throughout the race!

You can view our video on YouTube http://youtu.be/uGeNlQ69Bkg

Heavy Bag Cardio Kickboxing Workout - Common Mistakes

 

Boxing Drill 

When you use a  heavy bag and boxing gloves for cardio kickboxing you've got a total body workout!

Here are some common mistakes when hitting the heavy bag and how to correct them.

Common Mistakes and Training Tips:


Mistake: Standing too close to the bag for straight punches.
Tip: Check your distance before you throw a punch, by standing more than a jab length away. Move forward slightly when you throw the jab displacing weight from back foot to front. Then quickly shuffle back.

Mistake: Pushing the punches on the bag causing the bag to swing excessively or pushing the free-standing wavemaster. This is often apparent when you get tired.
Tip: As soon as the glove makes contact with the bag, return the arm back to the on guard position. Snap the punches and work the "pull-back"

Mistake: Standing in one place after punching.
Tip: Move around and circle the bag in between throwing your punches. Move to the right, throw some punches, slip and move to the left.

Mistake: Fists drop down low beside the body, leaving the head unprotected and reducing the effectiveness of the punches being thrown.
Tip: Always keep the fists up by the chin protecting the head and chin. Keeping the hands above the heart also increases the heart rate for an optimum cardio workout!

 

The Caveman Workout

This is a great circuit offering lower/upper/cardio and core workout. Perform each circuit in a row with only a 10 sec rest in between exercises.

 

 

Lower Body – 45 secs/10 sec rest

  1. Low Side to Side Lunges (lateral)
  2. 180 deg. Jump switch tap floor
  3. Squat to Jump Squat
  4. Side to Side Hop Overs
  5. Pendulum Lunges

Upper Body – 45 secs/10 sec rest

  1. Spiderman Pushups
  2. Plyo Pushups
  3. Punches with Light Dumbbells
  4. Side to Side Pushups (offset)
  5. Forearm Plank to Hand Plank

Cardio – 45 secs/10 sec rest

  1. Jump Rope
  2. High Knees
  3. Sprawls
  4. 1-2-3’s
  5. Mountain Climbers

Core – 45 secs/10 sec rest

  1. Windshield Wipers with Dumbbells
  2. Jack Knifes
  3. Russian Twists with Dumbbell
  4. Bicycles
  5. Reverse Crunches

 

Some further explanations:

Lower Body –

  1. Shift weight side to side bending one leg and straightening the other without locking. Keep chest lifted and look forward and do not round the back
  2. Face right wall, jump up and face left wall touching floor with one hand in between legs and switch and touch floor with other hand.
  3. Squat first then squat again and jump up and keep alternating.
  4. Use a target shield or anything that you feel comfortable jumping over, either with both feet or with one and then the other landing
  5. Lunge forward and then lunge back with same leg and repeat with the other alternating. Keep forward knee in line with ankle.

Upper Body –

  1. Push up and leg out to side bringing knee to elbow – Pushup and repeat other leg
  2. Plyo – pushup on toes or knees and add a push off the floor with both hands. You can clap if you like!
  3.  Forward punches with light dumbbells – no more than 5 lbs. and do not lock elbows and keep punches @ shoulder height
  4. One hand on medicine ball, pushup and roll over to other hand and push up. Use a target shield or something you can slide across to other hand (phone book)
  5. Start in the plank position on your forearms, then raise up onto your right hand and then left hand. You will be in a position as if you were starting a push up.  Reverse the movement lowering down onto the right forearm, and then the left forearm. 

Cardio-

  1. Jump Rope , with or without a real rope
  2. High Knees , jog bringing knees up to hip level
  3. Sprawls – similar to burpees BUT bring hands to floor, kick feet back into pushup position with a tight core, bring hips down almost touching floor then kick feet forward to hands, stand and repeat
  4. 1-2-3’s -  A jog 3-step movement to the right and then to the left.  R/L/R bring left knee up and hold (crunch it!) then L/R/L bring right knee up and hold (crunch it!)
  5. Hands on floor and sprint bringing knees in close to chest

Core –

  1. Windshield Wipers – Lay flat holding 2 dumbbells up to ceiling shoulder width apart. Begin by bringing both legs up and over to left to outside of dumbbell and then dip both legs over to other side. Bring legs as low as you can to increase the core work but if you have back issues keep legs higher. Don’t touch legs together … leave a space!
  2. Jack Knifes - Lie flat on the floor (or exercise mat) on your back with your arms extended straight back behind your head and your legs extended also. This will be your starting position. As you exhale, bend at the waist while simultaneously raising your legs and arms to meet in a jackknife position. .. legs should be extended and lifted at approximately a 35-45 degree angle from the floor and the arms should be extended and parallel to your legs. The upper torso should be off the floor… inhaling, lower your arms and legs back to the starting position
  3. Russian Twists - Grasp one dumbbell and sit on floor with legs flexed about right angled placing heels on floor. Lean torso backward while lower back remains off floor. With both hands hold dumbbell centrical in front of chest and keep arms slightly flexed. Rotate torso from side to side. Keep hips in stable position and let head follow motion.Feet off floor offers more of a challenge!
  4. Bicycles – you know how to do these!
  5. Reverse crunches – these are actually back extensions (the crunch in reverse) lay on stomach with hands behind head and lift upper torso and legs off floor simultaneously , hold and then lower