Monday, December 14, 2020

Workout Routines

How to Build Your Own Workout Routines – Advice From a Two-Time Olympian

Why Should You Listen To Me?
After almost a decade as a full time, elite athlete, it’s safe to say that I have built up a pretty good bank of knowledge when it comes to training. Whether it be aerobic conditioning, circuits, sprint or strength training, a career as an international hockey player has, at one point or another, covered it all.

During that time frame, with the help of some of the most knowledgeable fitness professionals in the world, my approach to training has evolved and adapted, particularly in the gym. With that comes a practical experience of how best to build muscle and increase strength and power.

There are huge health and fitness benefits to engaging in long lasting and steady state aerobic activity like running and cycling. If you enjoy that type of exercise then by all means keep it up, it certainly isn’t doing you any harm.

If, however, you’re anything like me, and the thought of clocking up the K’s on the road day in day out leaves you yearning for something a little more exciting, then what follows could be for you!

Benefits of Strength Training
Performed sustainably, a well balanced strength training programme can have numerous health and fitness benefits beyond those obvious positives associated with regular exercise of any nature. These include improved flexibility, body composition (boosted metabolism means burning more calories at rest!!) and better posture.

What’s more, from a purely physical perspective, increases in muscle strength and capacity can have significant performance enhancing effects. Play team sports like football, rugby or hockey…? Want to improve your middle and long distance running and cycling times…? Or just simply looking to develop an aesthetic looking physique…? Strength training could be the missing ingredient…

Gym Based Workouts
Generally, I like to break my workouts down into different component parts. Not only does it help me structure my sessions but also ensures that I’m ticking off all the areas that I want to.

#Warm Up (Click to view video demonstration)
First things first, a decent warm up. I will spend a good 20-30 minutes foam rolling and stretching as well as 5-10 minutes on a treadmill or bike before I do any kind of resistance training. This gives me the opportunity to iron out any niggles and tight spots as well as raise my heart rate sufficiently so that my body is ready to engage in short bursts of high intensity efforts.

If you crack on with your session from a resting heart rate, you’ll tend to find that you spend the first 10 minutes or so waiting for your heart to catch up with your arms and legs! 

The video in the link above, takes you through some of my go to foam rolling and stretching exercises, hitting most of the large muscle groups and common problem areas (for me at least).

Spend as much or as little time on this as you feel necessary and for those smaller more awkward areas where a cumbersome roller doesn’t seem to quite work, try using a tennis or golf ball.

I would definitely advise buying your own roller. It’s something you can do at home and the ones provided at public gyms are often a little dilapidated. Be sure to go for one with a hard plastic inner cylinder as opposed to solid foam. Not only will it prove more effective at what it’s designed to do (no pain no gain here I’m afraid) it will also last a lot longer.

#Power Based Exercises (Click to view video demonstration)
Any activity with the intention of improving your power output, i.e. the ability to move with significant speed or force, should take place at the beginning of your workout. There is little point in tackling these exercises when your muscles are fatigued as you simply won’t be able to perform the actions maximally. This is a must if you are actually going to see any improvements in the power department!

Power Clean
The power clean is one of my all time favorite gym exercises. Requiring a unique combination of strength, speed and coordination, it is a movement which takes time and practice to master. There are, however, few better vehicles for improving your ability to produce power. An attribute which is a key ingredient to sprinting, particularly from a standing start.

With feet hip width apart and hands gripping the bar either side of your legs, bend your knees so that the bar is in contact with your shins. Pull your shoulders back and push your chest out to help create a flat back.

The movement which follows can be broken down into 3 phases:

  1. First Pull– Lift the bar by straightening your knees and pushing your hips forward whilst maintaining a nice flat back and keeping the bar as close to your legs as possible.
  2. Second Pull– this second phase begins when the bar is in contact with your middle thigh. By forcefully extending the hips (pushing them forwards) and standing tall, the bar will naturally travel upwards. Bend your arms at the elbow to keep the bar close to the body and prevent it moving outwards.
  3. Catch– when the bar reaches its highest point after the second pull, you must drop under it as quickly as possible in order to catch it. As the load increases this may require significant bending of the knees and the adoption of a front squat position.

Box Jumps
An infinitely simpler, but perhaps less effective way of training power is the Box Jump. This can be undertaken from a standing or walking start depending on the height of the box. From a standing start (approximately half a meter in front of the box), place your feet hip width apart, bend your knees so that your are in a slight squat position before immediately extending them in order to jump. Land on two feet on top of the box.

With a walking/ running start you may wish to take off a little earlier than when jumping from a standing start as a result of your extra forward momentum. A small skip step immediately before jumping should give you some extra force and therefore a little more height.

In order to achieve maximum clearance on your jump it is vitally important to bend the knees rapidly on take off. If not you’re likely to clip your toes on the front edge of the box and end up flat on your face.

Pick one of these exercises to begin your session, concentrating on quality not quantity. I would normally go for something like 4 sets of 4 or 5 repetitions on the power clean, or 3 sets of 3 repetitions on the box jump, with plenty of rest between sets.

#Compound Lifts (Click to view video demonstration)
Two fundamental barbell exercises entirely about building strength in the legs. Incorporate one of these into regular gym sessions and no one is going to be accusing you of skipping leg day 🙂

1. Deadlift
Basically the first stage of the Power Clean explained above. The emphasis here, however, is less about moving the bar quickly and more about a slow controlled lift with plenty of time under tension. Remember again to keep the back as flat as possible throughout the action.

2. Back Squat
With the bar resting across your shoulders and behind your neck place your feet somewhere between hip and shoulder width apart toes facing forwards. Keeping a nice flat back (there’s a common theme here) bend the knees and fold at the hip pushing your bottom back. When you reach the bottom of your range, somewhere around 90 degree knee bend, stand up again by straightening your knees and extending your hips. To really maintain control throughout the lift and maximize its benefits, imagine you are trying to rip a piece of paper in half with your feet as you bend your knees and when you get back to the top of the movement stand tall and squeeze your glutes together.

If you want to build muscle (hypertrophy), then you need to be completing somewhere between 3 and 6 sets of 8-12 reps at a weight you can really feel the burn by the end of each set. For pure strength gains, reduce the reps to around 5 and the sets to 3 but ramp up the load to close to your maximum.

#Single Leg Exercises (Click to view video demonstration)
Single leg resistance exercises are a great way to improve leg strength without having to continually load your spine, as with squats. They are also really useful if you can’t make it to the gym.

Depending on how I am feeling physically on any given day, I will either replace the above compound lift with a couple of single leg variations, or bolt one on after I have finished squatting or deadlifting.

1. Lateral Lunges
Great for working the often neglected adductors ( the muscles than run along the inside of your thigh), this exercise can be done with dumbbells to increase resistance without putting undue load through the spine. Or if you’re just starting out then ditch the weights and just concentrate on your form. This is a particularly beneficial exercise if you’re involved in sports which involve any kind of change of direction.

2. Forward Lunges
Much like the lateral lunge, add or takeaway dumbbells depending on your level of training experience. This is an exercise in which you will see improvements quickly so don’t worry if you feel a little wobbly to start with.

3. Pistol Squat
This is a brilliant replacement for the more traditional loaded Back Squat. It allows you to make significant strength gains without compressing the spine.

4. Bulgarian Jump Squat
Perfect if you want to feel the burn whilst elevating your heart rate slightly more than normal strength based exercises.

5. Single Leg Step Up
Concentrate on only just touching the floor with your toes at the bottom of the movement. The idea is to work only the standing leg and not generate any extra momentum as you make contact with the ground with your other leg.

These exercises are particularly useful in addressing any muscle imbalances between left and right leg. Something which bilateral exercises such as squats and deadlifts may not achieve. If you’re just starting out, they can also be a perfect introduction to strength training. Improvements are normally rapid, and there is much less chance of hurting yourself if there aren’t any significant weights involved.

#Hamstring Maintenance (Click to view video demonstration)
The posterior chain (muscles running along the back of the body) is absolutely an area which your training should target. Too many people, even the most experienced trainers, neglect these muscles in favour of the ones they can see in the mirror more readily.

If you play any sport involving repetitive sprinting or high speed running then you need to spend time in the gym looking after your hamstrings in particular.

How many people in your football, hockey or rugby team spend long spells on the side line because of hamstring strains of varying severity?

I imagine the answer is quite a few. Why? because they neglect hamstring maintenance work in their gym sessions.

The 2 simple exercises demonstrated in the video above should help keep you off the physio table and on the field of play.

#Upper Body (Click to view video demonstration)
Whether you want to build upper body strength to protect you on the rugby field, make it harder for opponents to push you off the ball in football or hockey or simply because you want to look good on the beach, this next section will be of particular interest to you.

One of the most common mistakes people make in their approach to upper body training is a lack of balance. Push push push seems to be the motto of most of the gym monkeys I see on a regular basis. If you want to look daft and have terrible posture to boot, then by all means just do chest and guns.

But if you would rather have a well rounded upper body physique which is functional and looks good then I’m afraid you’re going to have to commit, as much, if not more time to pulling than you are pushing.

Push Exercises
There are a plethora of different options out there to choose from. To help you maximize the time you spend on this area I have picked my 3 go to exercises:

  1. Dumbbell Bench Press: Why dumbbells? Because they require you to use more muscles to stabilize the movement than a barbell. Not only does this mean you have to work harder during your set but it also means you can’t rely on the dominant strength of one side of your body to get the job done.
  2. Dumbbell special: A slightly unorthodox looking exercise which works a wider group of muscles and requires more control than a traditional chest press machine or barbell bench press.
  3. Weighted press ups: A great way of making traditional press ups a little tougher and more about improving strength rather than muscle endurance.

Pull Exercises
DO NOT NEGLECT THE POSTERIOR CHAIN. This next collection of exercises are the key to a balanced looking physique. They will help prevent your shoulders rolling forward and your back from hunching.

  1. Disc pull
  2. Wide Grip Pull ups
  3. Seated cable row
  4. Dumbbell reverse fly
  5. Single arm dumbbell row
These movements focus heavily on groups of muscles which make up the back and shoulders, including: the Trapezius, Deltoid, Rhomboid and Latissimus dorsi groups. They will all help to counteract some of the negative postural effects of push exercises.

In a normal full body gym session I try to aim for 2 push and 2 pull upper body exercises, with 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps in each.

#Core (Click to view video demonstration)
Whilst pretty much all of the exercises that we’ve been through so far should engage your core if performed correctly, there is no harm in finishing your session with 2 or 3 more target specific exercises.

I really enjoy a challenge when it comes to this area of my gym routine and like to experiment with loads of different exercises. Most tend to be variations on a theme and involve hanging from a pull up bar.

The video in the link above, shows 4 of my favorite hanging leg raise combinations which increase in difficulty with each exercise.

The knee raise is a great place to start. You will need to be able to do at least 3 sets of 10 before you move onto the straight leg raise, but progress can be quick if you really commit.

There are obviously plenty of other core exercises which you can include in your programme, including front and side plank variations, double leg lowers, and the roll-outs demonstrated in the video. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have a go. Half the battle is having enough imagination to keep your work out fresh and motivating.

Training Efficiency
In my experience, one of the major complaints of people leading busy lives when it comes to the gym is that they haven’t got enough time in the day to complete meaningful sessions. Let’s be honest, who really wants to be spending over an hour in the gym before they’ve even started their working day, or worse still when they’ve been on the go all day?

The solution? Supersets. By combining sets of exercises which use different muscle groups or focus on different areas of the body, you can effectively complete the same session twice as quickly. What exactly do I mean?

Say for instance, you get to the upper body section of your gym workout and you have 4 sets of dumbbell bench press (a push exercise) and 4 sets of seated cable row (a pull exercise) to complete.

Ordinarily you may look to finish the 4 sets of push exercise with ample rest between each set before moving on to the pull exercise. In reality these two movements use antagonistic muscle groups. Consequently, if you move back and forth between one set of bench press and one set of cable row until 4 sets of each have occurred then you are effectively allowing one group of muscles to rest whilst the opposite muscles work.

This allows the muscles you use in each exercise to be sufficiently rested in between each set without wasting time sat scrolling through your Instagram feed.

At Home Workouts
Don’t have the time, money or inclination to join a gym? I can definitely appreciate that. It doesn’t, however, mean you have to miss out on the benefits of strength based activity. The following 2 sessions are some of my favourite routines to do in the house, in the garden, or even whilst I’m away travelling and can’t get access to a gym.

They require zero equipment and a maximum of 30 minutes of your time 🙂

#Upper Body & Core Circuit (Click to view video demonstration)

This is a great session to keep the chest, arms and core ticking over at home. I normally aim for 3 rounds and it should take between 20 and 30 minutes.

#House Of Pain Circuit (Click to view video demonstration)

If you’re looking for a great way of combining cardio and muscle conditioning into one half- hour session which you can do in your lounge or garden, then this is the for you. A whole body workout, which will almost certainly leave you flat on your back in a world of discomfort! The name speaks for  itself!

I normally aim for between 4 and 6 sets with 3 minutes rest between each. You should be trying to complete each set as fast as you possibly can so keep an eye on your time and be sure to record your progress.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

DIY Peppermint Patty Recipe

Easy Peppermint Patty Recipe

Jessica Marcy

Everyone loves candy. I mean, sure, we all might have our different preferences, but there’s something out there for everyone. Learning to make candies at home can prove to be a fun and easy way to make serving them or giving them as gifts just a little more special. After all, who wouldn’t be happy to receive some homemade candies?

If you’ve ever been interested in making your own candies, this easy peppermint patty recipe is a great place to start. Even if you don’t like peppermint, this recipe can very easily be changed for a different flavor of filling, making it adaptable to nearly everyone’s tastes.

What we love about this recipe is how approachable it is. It comes together with just a handful of ingredients and a little bit of time. Chances are that you already have nearly everything you need to make these candies right in your pantry. What’s even better is that they don’t contain all the corn syrups, artificial flavors, or preservatives of the store-bought versions.

If you’re not interested in the mint flavoring you can just swap it out for something else that you prefer. Most grocery stores carry a variety of different flavorings right in the baking aisle. Some great flavors to start with are lemon, coconut, walnut, vanilla, strawberry, or even lavender. Luckily, chocolate is one of those things that just goes wonderfully with most flavors, so you can feel free to try anything.

Another option to add flavoring to the filling is by infusing the butter or cream used to make the filling with a flavoring such as tea. A strong-flavored tea such as Plum Deluxe’s “After Dinner Mint” herbal blend or the Comfort Blend black tea would be great options to try out.

A little tip to prevent the filling from flattening out too much while resting in the fridge: Place it inside a paper towel tube before placing it in the fridge. The rounding of the tube will help keep the bottom round.

Easy Peppermint Patty Recipe


  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint flavored extract
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 12 oz melting chocolate wafers


In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, butter, extract, and cream until well blended and crumbly. If the mixture remains sticky, add powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until it becomes smooth to the touch.

Transfer the mixture to a large piece of cling wrap, and using your hands form it into a thin tube about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Wrap it in the cling wrap, sealing the ends, and place it in the fridge until firm, about 45 minutes.

Once firm, use a sharp knife to cut 1/4-inch thick rounds and set aside.

Melt the chocolate wafers in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each heating.

Using a fork, carefully dip the rounds into the chocolate until well coated. Allow the excess to drip off and transfer to a piece of wax paper. Repeat this process until each round is well coated.

Let stand until the coating has set completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Remarkable Women Veterans

Unwilling to accept the conventions of their day, they broke the mold. Left to right: Sarah Emma Edmonds, Cathay Williams, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, Irene Kinne Englund, Eileen Collins 

Sarah Emma Edmonds joined the United States Army to “fight for her country” in the Civil War. She disguised her sex and used the name Frank Thompson. A nurse in the Second Volunteers of the United States Army, she was unique because she able to remain in the army for several years and was successful as a Union spy, while impersonating a man.

Cathay Williams, born in Independence Mo., was the first African American female to enlist, serving in the United States Army as William Cathay. She was a Buffalo Soldier, passing herself off as a man. She survived smallpox and several other illnesses. She was one of the first women to enlist in the Army and was the first African American woman to do so.

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker volunteered for the Union Army as a civilian nurse, as the Army had no female surgeons. She was finally awarded a commission as a “Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon,” becoming the first-ever female U.S Army surgeon. She often crossed battle lines to treat the injured civilians and was captured by Confederate troops and arrested as a spy. She was released and went on to supervise orphanages, become a writer and lecturer, advocating for women’s rights. Walker is the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.

Eileen Collins: an inspiration to many young women reaching for the stars.

Irene Kinne Englund was born in El Paso, Texas. She piloted military aircraft during World War II as a member of the Women Air Force Service Pilots. She transported medical patients, ferried military aircraft and towed aerial gunnery targets. Because she was such a skilled pilot, she was one of the few women to be awarded Veteran status by the military.

Eileen Collins grew up reading about famous pilots such as Amelia Earhart and other women pilots who inspired her to earn a pilot’s license. During Operation Grenada in 1983, she flew evacuated medical students and their families out of Grenada. In 1998, Eileen Collins became the first Woman Space Shuttle Commander. She is an inspiration to many young women who are also reaching for the stars.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Great Story About LIP INK® Guaranteed Smear-proof Liquid Lip Color

Great Story About LIP INK® Guaranteed Smear-proof Liquid Lip Color

"You saved my relationship with the entire family many years ago back in North Carolina. I was told not to kiss the grandchildren because I wore lipstick all the time and My daughter-in-law did not like it coming off on them. 20 or so years ago I discovered LIP INK® lip color. 

I have never had a problem since.  I just love LIP INK®" 

-Wilmington, N. Carolina Grandma 

Friday, October 16, 2020



The importance of exercise cannot be overemphasized. It plays a significant role in mental and physical wellbeing. Exercise helps to maintain the brain, heart, muscles, and bones in top form. It also boosts the body’s immune system. If you are working on some weight goals, working out can help you achieve them.

Sadly, the number of inactive people in the world today is baffling. In the US, at least 15% of adults are physically inactive in each state, and those estimate ranged from 17.3%-47.7%. Inactivity is defined as engaging in no “leisure-time physical activities” within the last month. Only around one-third of children in the US are physically active each day. Over half the people that begin an exercise regime quit within the first six months. Research indicates that lack of adequate physical exercise is one of the leading causes of premature death – it increases the risk of death by 20% to 30%. Insufficient exercise has also been linked to the increasing number of chronic diseases.

Exercise will be far more effective if the correct procedure is followed. Timing yourself in the gym is good, but adapting a broader healthy routine is better. To achieve better results in your workouts, you should know what to do before and after a workout. Things like adequate sleep and proper nutrition can affect your progress and results. Below are 15 things that should be part of your pre-workout and post-workout routines.


Plan Ahead

If you want your daily workout program to be as effective and beneficial as possible, you must plan well. There are a myriad of things you should think about before you kick off the program. They include the timing of workouts, fitness nutrition, and exercise gear. You should decide whether you’ll be doing it in the morning or evening regarding your workout time.

On nutritional matters, you should determine the type of meals to eat before and after workouts. For convenience sake, buy your food at the beginning of each week. Do thorough research on the best food choices for a fitness program. Similarly, look for an ideal workout outfit before you kick off the program. Try to stay away from cotton, as that tends to soak up moisture. Rather, look into wicking fabrics that draw sweat away. You may consult your gym instructor or personal trainer for essential buying tips.

Get Adequate Sleep

If you want to reap many benefits from your fitness program, sleep should be your greatest concern. Generally, sleep re-energizes and restores the body’s functionality. In addition to enhancing your energy levels for squats and jumping jacks, sleep will boost the performance of your hunger hormones. This will ensure that your eating habits are kept in check. Essentially, you should get at least seven continuous hours of shut-eye sleep. By getting adequate sleep, you allow your body to recover and get ready for the next day’s activities.

Hydrate and Fuel Up Your Body

When working out, food and water are as crucial to your body as fuel to a vehicle. When and what you eat matters a lot. Food can help give you the necessary energy to sustain you throughout a grueling workout. Failing to eat before an exercise can cause general weakness and dizziness, which can ultimately affect your performance. To avoid this, you should always include a light meal or snack in your pre-workout routine. Make sure that the food contains the right portions of carbs, healthy fats, and proteins. Some good meal ideas include:

  • Oatmeal with fresh fruit
  • Eggs
  • Protein smoothie
  • Greek yogurt
  • A granola or nutrition bar

Water is equally important in your fitness routine. You lose a lot of water through sweating during physical exercise. Drinking plenty of water before the workout will protect your body from getting dehydrated and also boost your energy levels. The timing of meals is an essential aspect of your pre-exercise routine. To avoid stomach discomfort during the exercise, eat your food 1 – 2 hours before the workout. You may drink water 0 – 20 minutes before the workout.

Timing is Key

Timing your pre-exercise and post-exercise routines can significantly affect the ultimate results. For example, you need to decide on the best time to consume your meals before and after working out. Additionally, you should select the ideal time that you’ll dedicate to your exercise. Is it going to be morning or evening hours?

According to research, it is better to work out in the morning than at other times in the day. An early morning workout is fantastic for your body’s metabolism, and even a short workout can make a huge difference. Of course, if you can’t workout in the morning, any other time will suffice, as long as you get the workout in! The most important aspect is your consistency in the workout program. You will reap maximum benefits if you adhere to a schedule.

Warming Up Before Exercise

Warming up is essential even for short workouts. Generally, warming up prepares the body for the intense activities you are about to do. In addition to preparing the body for motion, it raises the body temperature. The primary purpose of warming up is to prevent muscle injuries and soreness.

You should engage in less intensive and light activities before the exercise. Jumping jacks, side hops, and skipping without rope are great warm-up exercises. They will accelerate heartbeat and blood flow as well as heat up the muscles.

Dress Appropriately

The ability to move, run, or stretch depends on what you are wearing. Your exercise gear will significantly impact your flexibility and mobility when working out. If you are a professional athlete, it may affect your athletic performance in competitions. Therefore, you need to have the right workout gear if you want to attain the best outcomes from the program.

Wearing improper footwear when working out is a big mistake. You should invest in good sneakers if you want to enjoy your exercise and experience better endurance. Also, wearing a high-impact sports bra can make all the difference when jogging or running. Different activities will require different outfits, so be sure to research before you buy your sports gear.

Research Supplements

Supplements can help to prepare your body for intensive workouts. They help to reduce fatigue, expand body mass, boost muscle strength, and improve general performance. Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes. It is able to increase fiber size, mass, and power of muscles. Another common supplement in sports is caffeine. It is mainly obtained from beverages like tea, coffee, and energy drinks. You can use caffeine to boost your energy levels and reduce fatigue. Other essential supplements include the amino acid range such as Beta-Alanine and the Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).

However, you need to take your supplements in a consistent manner if you want to reap their benefits. Do not expect them to work overnight. More importantly, consult your primary care physician before you start taking any supplements. They will assist you in choosing the right supplements and picking an appropriate dosage for you.

Choose a Suitable Workout Program

Different people have varying objectives when it comes to physical exercise. Some will do it with the intention of losing or maintaining weight, and others it is for physical fitness. Yet, others will do it for the sake of their general health benefits. But, regardless of your objectives, you should choose an exercise program that is enjoyable. Select something that won’t bore you a few months down the line, tempting you to give up. Furthermore, you should incorporate a variety of exercises in your workout program. Include strength training, aerobic exercise, and yoga. By having a variety, you can experience a broader range of health benefits while avoiding a monotonous routine.

Your workout program should address all the aspects of physical fitness like endurance, flexibility, aerobic fitness, and muscular strength. It is also essential to vary the intensity of your exercises. This will be determined by your level of fitness. For instance, you might want to skip a day between your workouts if your body’s fitness is a little bit wanting.

You can quickly achieve your fitness goals by being part of a team of like-minded people. Consider enrolling in a social sports club or a gym. You will feel motivated and confident in achieving your goals when you have someone walking on the same journey as yours. However, do not forget to choose a fitness program that matches your lifestyle. If your work schedule allows you to attend gym sessions, then go for it. But, if it is a tight one, you may look for a personal trainer to help you exercise at your home.


Stretch Out

When you finish working out, don’t flop onto a chair or take a nap immediately. You should make sure that your heart rate has slowed down, and your body temperatures have gone back to normal. Walking around can help you achieve this. The next step is stretching out so as to prevent cramps and injuries. In addition, post-workout stretches can also help tone your muscles.

Post workout stretches should be slow and unloaded. You should take your time when doing these stretches to ensure maximum relaxation of your body. Once you are done stretching, lie down and breathe for a few more minutes.

Refuel and Rehydrate

Post-workout nutrition is a vital health routine when it comes to physical exercise. The food you consume after a workout should be able to repair damaged tissues and muscles, increase the size and quality of muscle, and replenish your glycogen stores. In doing this, you will be able to maintain your body in good shape for subsequent workouts. Your post-workout meal should comprise of carbs, healthy fats, and proteins. Some of the foods you can eat after a workout include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Rice cakes
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Nuts
  • Avocados

You also need water to rehydrate. Remember, you have been sweating throughout the workout, thus losing a lot of water from your body. Drinking a few ounces of water will help to replenish the water lost in your cells.

Use a Foam Roller

In addition to stretches, a foam roller can help to reduce soreness and injury after a workout. According to experts, foam rolling has immense benefits in terms of speeding up recovery from working out. It is also a vital strategy to increase the flow of blood to tissues. If you do it regularly and adequately, foam rolling can enable you to achieve your desired workout goals.

Record Progress

What is the point of working extremely hard in your workouts and not having something to show your improvements? It will help to keep a record of each workout session. The record should include the activities you have been able to accomplish as well as the distances you have covered when running. Besides that, you will highlight the challenges you have encountered and reminders of activities you need to complete in the next session.

By keeping a journal, you will know whether you are attaining your workout goals or not. Using your log, you can look back at the week’s progress and decide if it’s time to go a notch higher. You will draw some motivation from your workout journal if the improvement is positive.

Take a Cool Shower

A cold shower can do you good, especially if you have been working out in the hot sun. It is the last bit of recovery therapy after a workout session. In addition to promoting recovery, cold water reduces inflammation. If you can endure extreme cold, you may add a few ice cubes in your water bath to ensure complete recovery of sore muscles. Moreover, a cold water bath will cool you down and normalize the body temperatures. And, of course, showering after a workout helps your skin get back its glow when you wash out the dirt and sweat.

By maintaining a healthy routine before and after exercise, you can reap the maximum benefits from your fitness regime. You can attain your fitness goals by doing your activities the right way. These tips will help steer you in the right direction. But more importantly, make working out a lifestyle and not just a short-term adventure.

Monday, September 21, 2020

How to Camp with Your Dog & Safely Avoid COVID-19

How to Camp with Your Dog and Safely Avoid COVID-19

Sara Sheehy spent 18 months traveling the United States in a camper with her dog, Lemhi. Here’s what she, and other outdoor experts, want to teach you about camping with your furry friends.

created by

Sarah SheehyHeidi WachterKate MorganKathryn Welch

The sun sets over the nearby mountains as you light your campfire and settle in for an evening under the stars. Your dog lays next to your camp chair, curled up with their nose tucked under their tail. You reach down, scratch behind their ears, and give a sigh of satisfaction.

Sound idyllic? I think so, too.

Camping with my dog is one of life’s pleasures that makes my heart squeeze, and I do it every chance that I get. My dog, a hound and cattle dog mix that I adopted as a puppy, has camped with me in 42 states and road tripped for tens of thousands of miles. Along the way I’ve learned a few things about how to prepare for and enjoy the experience of camping with a four-legged companion.

Ready to start planning your trip? Let’s dig in.

Should you take your dog camping? 4 things to consider

Let’s start at the basics. Before you book your campsite and start daydreaming about all those Instagrammable camping photos, take a few moments to consider whether camping is the right activity for your dog.

How will you know? Begin by asking yourself these questions:

Does your dog like the outdoors? My dog loves nothing more than running through the forest and sleeping on the hard ground, but not every dog thinks that outdoor pursuits are the bee’s knees. If your dog prefers couch snuggles to outdoor romps or gets anxious when away from home, camping may not be an enjoyable experience for them.

Is your dog aggressive or barky? Camping will put your dog into close contact with people and other dogs. If they have aggressive tendencies, especially on a leash, a camping trip will be stressful for both you and them. Dogs that constantly bark will be a nuisance to your camp neighbors, and may get you in trouble with the campground managers.

Does your dog have health issues? If your dog has serious health issues or a weakened immune system, consult with your vet before camping. Campgrounds see new dogs every night, and certain diseases, such as canine distemper, canine parvovirus, and kennel cough, are spread through dog urine and saliva.

Could breed or age-related problems arise? “I have to plan carefully to bring my dogs to the campground,” says Kate Morgan, a writer who often travels in her camper van or tent camps with her English bulldog, Chunk, and Rottweiler, Olive. “Chunk is both geriatric – he’s 10 years old – and a breed that’s notorious for things like breathing problems and trouble dealing with heat. Olive’s breed means she’s sometimes discriminated against by campground policies, or other campers get nervous around her despite her sweet disposition. That’s just the beginning of a whole list of things I have to consider.”

Will your dog have the chance to enjoy the trip? Are you planning for dog-friendly activities, or will your pup be left alone while you’re off having fun? If your dog can’t enjoy the trip, too, consider leaving them at home with a trusted boarder or pet sitter.

Finding a dog-friendly campsite

If you and your pup are ready for an outdoor adventure, then it’s time to book that perfect campsite.

Reserve America is the go-to spot to find and reserve camp spots in local and state parks across the United States. Begin by searching the area you’d like to camp and then click on individual campgrounds to see the rules and regulations for camping with your pet(s). Once you’ve uncovered the right spot for you, you can reserve your campsite directly through Reserve America.

If you’re looking to book a campsite in a National Park or National Forest, is the website for you. has over 103,000 reservable sites on federal lands across the country. Each listing includes details on if you can camp with your pet, how far in advance you can make reservations, and which amenities are offered at each campground.

For a comprehensive look at public and private campgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Baja California, check out Campendium. Campendium’s extensive database of user-submitted reviews will help you research campgrounds, National Forest and Bureau of Land Management dispersed camping areas, overnight parking options, and RV dump stations. Campendium also shows user-reported cell coverage, which is especially handy if you need to log into work while you’re away.

How to find a secluded camping spot during Coronavirus

If a public or private campground isn’t your cup of tea, why not look into camping on private land? The idea of renting out campsites on private property is growing in popularity, and many of these spots offer a quiet night’s sleep far from the crowds.

HipCamp is sometimes called the “Airbnb of camping,” as it connects campers to private landowners who have room for a pitched tent or parked RV. You can search by location and type of camping (tent camping, RV camping, and “glamping” experiences), and then further refine your search by filtering the listings by “Pets Allowed.” Be sure to read any listed pet rules, and if in doubt, contact the landowner before making your reservation.

Tentrr is similar to HipCamp in that the campsites are on private property, but instead of bringing your own gear, a glamping camping setup is available on-site! This is an excellent option for those who want to relax in nature without having to pitch their own tent. Every Tentrr location welcomes well-behaved pets and their owners.

Did you know that Airbnb lists campsites, too? Though more limited in number, campsites can be found by filtering for “Unique Stays,” then “Campsite” or “Camper/RV.” Be sure to click the “Pets allowed” filter to ensure that your pup is welcome before you book.

Not in the US? Not a problem. Campspace and HomeCamper both offer camping experiences on private land across the globe. Be sure to double-check that the property is listed as “Pet Friendly” before arriving with your dog in tow.

Preparing for your trip: 5 must-dos

Your campsite is booked, and your dates are locked in. What’s next? Before you begin gathering and packing your gear, take the time to prepare for your trip using the following checklist:

Do your research

Check out a campground map, and maybe get a birds-eye-view. “Before I arrive at any campground with my dogs,” says Morgan, “I use the Google Maps satellite view to make sure I know where our site is in relation to other campers and any designated dog parks or potty areas, and that it’s a site where the dogs will be able to find a shady place to relax.”

Microchip your dog, and update your contact information.

If your dog isn’t already microchipped, now is a good time to get that done. Mishaps happen! Microchipping helps to ensure that a lost pup can be traced back to its owner. If your dog is already microchipped, make sure that your contact information is up-to-date. At the very least, make sure Fido’s collar id tag is up to date.

Make sure your dog is vaccinated and get a health certificate.

Check with your vet to verify that your dog’s vaccinations are current and ask for a printout of their health certificate. Some campgrounds ask for proof that your pup is fully vaccinated, so bring the health certificate with you to campground check-in.

Apply your dog’s flea and tick preventative medications.

Do this before you leave. If you’re traveling far from home, ask your vet if any other preventative medications are recommended for the area you’re going to.

Locate the nearest vet

Write down the name and contact information of the nearest veterinarian’s office to your campground. Keep that information on you at all times in case of an emergency. “I always scope out nearby emergency vets in advance and write down their phone numbers and addresses,” Morgan says. “If something goes really wrong, I don’t want to waste time frantically searching the internet.”

Tent camping with dogs 101

Tent camping will put you in close contact with the elements, so it requires a little extra planning for your pup. You can absolutely have an enjoyable and memorable experience tent camping if you think through a few key details:

Plan to co-sleep. Having your dog sleep outside unattended is never a good idea, especially when there are unknown animals and humans around. Plan to have your dog sleep “inside,” which means your tent needs to be big enough to fit the two of you and other family members. Give your pup their own sleeping pad and space; otherwise, you might find them trying to share with you.

Keep dog food secure. Not only does your dog love their dog food, but wild animals do, too! Keep extra critters out of your camp by ensuring that any kibble and treats are in a secure bin, and if possible, stored inside your vehicle. Unless you’re camping in a place known to have bears. At that point, you’ll want to store all food in bins provided onsite, in your car, or purchase bear-proof canisters. When doing the latter, place the container at least 100 feet away from your campsite. The last thing you and your dog want is a food-motivated bear in your campsite!

Be careful with dogs with a high prey drive. If your dog has a high prey drive, be extra cautious with them in an open campsite. Make sure they are safely secured, even when you are nearby. If you see wildlife, consider putting your pup in the car until the wildlife moves on.

Never leave your dog unattended in camp. Apart from being against most campground rules, it’s neither safe nor wise to leave your dog unattended in your campsite. If you go, the dog goes, too!

RV camping with dogs 101

If you own or are renting an RV, there are a few special considerations that you’ll want to take into account when planning your camping trip. They include:

How will your dog travel? Depending on your RV setup, your dog may have options for where they hang out while you’re moving from point A to point B. Think about what is the safest and most comfortable for them. You won’t want a dog pinballing around the motorhome while driving, so they may need to be restrained if they are unpredictable. Remember that dogs should never, ever, travel in a tow-behind trailer.

Where will your dog sleep? Dogs benefit from having their own space in a house, and the same is true inside your RV. Make a spot that is all their own, where they will find their bed, favorite toys, and a water bowl. This will become their go-to place when they want to relax.

Keep them comfortable when you’re not there. If you plan to leave your dog in your RV for any amount of time, make a plan for their comfort and safety. Leave dogs only for short periods, and never leave your dog unattended on a warm or hot day without reliable air conditioning or temperature control.

4 important ways to protect yourself from COVID-19

Many people are choosing to enjoy road trips and camping this year instead of long-distance air travel. Camping during the pandemic is possible but requires a bit more flexibility and a heightened awareness of how to camp responsibly and safely. Here are a few tips for camping during COVID:

Check out less popular spots. Outdoor tourism is seeing record numbers this year. Avoid the crowds by getting off the beaten path and enjoying lesser-known destinations like national monuments, state parks, and county parks.

Keep your distance. The Center for Disease Control recommends keeping at least 6 feet away from people not in your household, even when you’re outside. Wear your mask, wash your hands, and try to travel close to home to avoid having to stop for gas, food, and bathroom breaks.

Be flexible. Keep your plans adaptable. You may have had your heart set on that popular hiking trail with your pup, but the parking lot is full when you arrive. Make a mental note to return when it’s less busy, and find a new spot to explore.

Leave no trace. With so many people engaging in outdoor recreation this year, we all must do so responsibly. Clean up after yourself. Stay on established trails, properly dispose of all waste (including human and pet waste), light campfires only in designated fire rings, and make sure that campfires are completely out before leaving your campsite.

How to pack for you and your furry friend

The good news about packing for your dog is that their gear doesn’t take up a lot of space. Still, you want their things to be easy to find and contained. Pack dog supplies efficiently by purchasing a small plastic bin and storing all dog-related gear inside. Keep the bin somewhere that’s easy to access so that it’s a breeze to grab a leash, a bowl, or a poop bag whenever you need them.

Essential camping gear checklist 🏕

Ready to start packing? Don’t miss a single item on this essential dog gear checklist:

Dog food and treats in a durable bag or bin: Pack enough dog food and treats for the length of your camping trip plus at least two extra meals. Use the extra food to provide additional calories on days when your dog is particularly active, and as a buffer if your trip gets delayed. Don’t forget the treats!

Pet medications: If your pet takes any regular medicines or supplements, pack enough for the length of your trip plus two extra days for emergencies. If you’re traveling across an international border, store the medicine in its original container and bring a copy of the prescription from your veterinarian.

Dog bowls: Pack one for food and one for water. Opt for metal or collapsible plastic bowls over ceramic bowls, which break easily. Something simple like the Cozy Courier travel bowl will work just fine.

Water bottle: Active dogs need extra water, so pack a spare bottle if you plan on hiking, running, or biking with your pup. Here’s a list of betterpet’s favorite bottles.

Leash, LED collar, and identification tags: Six-foot leashes are often required at campgrounds, so if you typically use a retractable dog leash, be sure to grab a six-footer, too. LED collars are a no-brainer. (Check out the Illumiseen — it’s USB rechargeable.)

Poop bags and a Dicky bag: Don’t forget about your dog’s waste. Bring an adequate supply of poop bags for the length of your trip and a Dicky bag for storing full bags until you find a trash can. (Frisco poop bags are a great option because they’re eco friendly.)

Dog bed: If your dog isn’t comfortable, you’ll hear about it! You can bring your dog’s bed from home if your tent or RV has the room for it or invest in a camping-specific dog pad. The Coolaroo is a great option if the weather’s extra hot, but something simple like the Cheerhunting waterproof bed is a great all-around pick.

Pet first aid kit with a tick key: Accidents happen, so come prepared with a dog first aid kit that includes a tick key and antiseptic solution. This kit from Kurgo is great. Also, check out the Tick Twister Tick Remover Set if your first-aid kit doesn’t have one. (See Handling Emergency Situations below for more information.)

Special gear for camping in cold conditions

If you’re going to be camping in colder climates or seasons, keep your dog comfortable with these extra additions to the essential gear checklist:

  • Dog coat. A dog coat is especially important for shorthaired and single-coated dogs, but are worth considering for most breeds. My dog loves to wear his Lands’ End puffer coat on chilly mornings and has even worn it through the night on unusually cold camping trips. The PETCEE waterproof jacket and Gooby sports vest are also great options.
  • Dog booties or paw wax. Icy, snowy, or cold ground can be rough on the dog’s paws and lead to injury. Slip-on a pair of dog booties for cold weather exploration, or try a dog paw balm like Pawtection.
  • Insulated dog sleeping bag. Most modern dogs are not acclimatized to sleeping on frozen ground. Help them retain their body heat by packing an insulated dog sleeping bag. (The DOGHELIOS Trail Barker is as legit as they come for temps below freezing.) An insulated dog bed and blanket can work fine too, but sleeping bags are more versatile. 

If you have a bit of extra space in your camping bins, consider bringing a zip line tether setup for your campsite, and a hands-free running leash for exploring. A zip line tether, like the Snagle Paw Tie Out Runner, gives your pup a bit more room to roam while confining them safely within your campsite’s perimeter. A hands-free running leash makes hiking, dog walks, and yes, even running, a more pleasurable experience for you and your pup. (The Sparklypets leash has the best reviews on Amazon by far.)

Your dog’s breed and special needs can also change your packing list. Brachycephalic breeds (or dogs with short snouts, like bulldogs, pugs, and boxers) are often more sensitive to heat and humidity. Consider a cooling mat (we’ve heard great things about this one) to help them regulate their temperature.

Basic campground rules and regulations

Every campground has different rules and regulations for camping with your pet, and it pays to research them ahead of time. Though I’ve listed the most common regulations below, when in doubt, be sure to call ahead.

Camping with your dog in a national park

National parks in the United States are not the most welcoming territory for dogs and their owners, but if a must-see park is on your camping route, you can make it work with a bit of planning.

Most national parks welcome dogs in what they call their “developed areas,” including campgrounds, parking lots, sidewalks, and bike paths. Dogs are typically not allowed on backpacking trails or in wilderness areas, so if you plan to get active in the park, it’s best to leave your pet at home with a trusted caregiver.

Be sure to pack a leash because, in the areas where dogs are allowed in national parks, they must be kept on a six-foot leash at all times, including at your campsite.

Camping with your dog in state and local parks

State and local park campgrounds are great options for camping with your dog. The vast majority welcome dogs in their campsites, and many also allow dogs on their trails, beachfront, and elsewhere in the park.

Most state and local parks will ask that you keep your dog on a leash and not leave your dog unattended at the campsite. Rules vary by state and locale, but a quick internet search should get you all the information you need about having a great time in the park with your pup.

Camping with your dog in National Forests and on Bureau of Land Management land

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manage vast swaths of public land across the United States, much of it maintained for the quiet enjoyment of recreationalists. While you’ll find both National Forest and BLM developed campsites available for camping, there is also plentiful “dispersed camping”—camping areas without amenities outside of a campground—on these public lands, especially in the American West.

You’ll find few rules in dispersed camping areas for your dog, except to use your best judgment. If your dog is great with voice commands and always sticks close, you might leave them off-leash at camp. If your dog chases game or doesn’t play well with others, you’d be wise to keep them leashed and in sight.

Camping on dispersed land comes with the extra responsibility of camping carefully and responsibly, but the rewards can be just as great. Peace, quiet, and immersion in nature? Yes, please.

Camping with your dog in a private campground

Private campgrounds are run as independent businesses and will have their own rules and regulations for welcoming pets. Though many private campgrounds do allow dogs, you need to pay extra-close attention to their restrictions of size, breed, and the number of pets allowed.

A growing number of private campgrounds in the United States do not allow so-called “bully breed” dogs, including pit bulls, boxers, bulldogs, and rottweilers. If you have one of these breeds, be sure to call ahead before making your reservation. Some campgrounds also have size restrictions and/or a limit to the number of pets you can bring. Do your research so that there aren’t any surprises when you arrive for a night under the stars.

Proper dog etiquette: The unwritten rules

No matter where you choose to camp, there are a few unwritten rules that every responsible owner should take to heart. These will help keep your dog safe and respect the enjoyment of fellow campers and their pets.

Pick up your dog’s poop. Pack a roll of poop bags and keep a few in your pants or jacket pocket. Be sure to pick up your pup’s poop and dispose of it properly in a waste bin.

Do proper dog introductions. Do not assume that everyone wants to meet your dog or wants their dog to meet your dog. Allowing your dog to run up to strangers or wander into your neighbor’s campsite is not only rude, but it can also end in dog aggressions or human disputes. Ask before making any dog to dog or human to dog introductions.

Don’t let your dog chase wildlife. One pleasure of camping for many people is enjoying deer or elk grazing in a meadow and listening to birds chirping. But wild animals aren’t going to come around an aggressive or barking pet. Never let your dog get into an encounter with a wild animal. Your dog is likely to lose.

Keep your dog quiet. Nothing ruins a camping trip faster than listening to the incessant barking of a neighbor’s dog. Don’t be that neighbor. If you know that barking is an issue, work on bark training before your trip. If your dog barks due to anxiety, check out calming supplements to see if they help.

4 common emergencies and how to handle them

Adventurous dogs have a way of finding trouble, but don’t let this keep you from planning that camping trip or taking that hike. Here are a few of the common issues you may run into while camping or hiking, and how to handle them:

Insect stings and bites. These injuries are as common in dogs as they are in people. They will be uncomfortable, itchy, and may produce red patches or hives. If your dog is stung by an insect, check the area for a stinger and remove it carefully with tweezers from your first aid kit if it’s present. If there is itching or swelling, Benadryl can help. Call your vet (or your vet’s emergency line if after hours) for the proper dosage for your pup. Also, do a tick check each night, and remove any ticks with a tick key.

Cuts and scrapes. These can occur on your dog’s body or paws when hiking or exploring near camp. Treat these abrasions by cleaning out the wound, drying it, and applying a bandage. Gauze pads and vet tape work wonders to cover cuts on your pup, just be sure to not tie them on so tightly that it restricts blood circulation.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Dogs can suffer from these just like humans. Signs of heat exhaustion include excessive panting and saliva creation, and a reluctance to continue hiking. Keep an eye out for these signs so that you don’t progress to the more life-threatening heatstroke, whose symptoms include vomiting, muscle tremors, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

(Treat heat exhaustion by moving your dog to the shade and slowly cooling them down by applying compresses of water to their neck and stomach. When they can move comfortably, make your way back to the trail-head at a slow pace)

Snake bites. They aren’t that common, but they can happen. Signs of a snake bite include swelling around the puncture wound, particularly on the neck, face, or legs. A snake bite, even a non-venomous one, necessitates an immediate vet visit, so get back to the trailhead as quickly and safely as possible. If the dog is small, carry them. Don’t go Hollywood on a snake bite either—no tourniquets, sucking the venom out, or enlarging the wound. Just make your way as calmly as possible back to your car, and to the nearest veterinarian’s office.

Create an emergency exit plan. Anytime you’re hiking with your dog, especially if you’re planning on going more than a mile or two, you need to have an emergency exit plan. Your dog could injure a leg or paw, have a bad wildlife encounter, or, depending on their age, quickly become too exhausted to hike out. If they’re a larger breed, that presents a serious problem. An emergency harness can help you carry them back to the trailhead.

5 final tips for camping with your dog

Remember that your dog can go to a surprising number of places — First-time campers: Don’t assume that dogs aren’t allowed—call and check! Dogs are often welcome on beaches, on outdoor dining patios, on the trails, and in parks. BringFido is an excellent resource for finding dog-friendly activities wherever you are.

Rainy days are the best — A rainy day usually makes campers groan, but for your dog, it’s a golden ticket to uncrowded trails, empty beaches, and plenty of room to roam. Grab a raincoat, and make the most of it!

Pack your pup’s favorites — Even the most adventurous dogs love seeing and smelling familiar things. Pick one or two toys that your pup prefers and bring them along, so they have something to play with when times get stressful or boring. Also, pack your dog’s favorite treats for when they need a bit of extra motivation.

Have a swimmer? Embrace it! — If your dog loves to swim, pick a campsite with a dog-friendly waterfront nearby. Be sure to pack a towel to dry them off and, if you’re going boating, a doggie life vest. My dog is particularly susceptible to ear infections, so I bring ear cleaner and a small towel to clean and dry their ears after they swim.

Have fun! — Camping with a canine companion is one of life’s pleasures and a way to make memories that’ll last a lifetime. So book a campsite, try something new, and stay safe! We’ll see you out there.