Tuesday, 31 March 2015

How to Beat Flabby Arm Jiggle

Just because you're holding excess body fat on your arms doesn't mean you can't get rid of it. Altering your exercise regimen and making a few simple dietary changes can help you beat arm jiggle.

Add 30 Minutes of Aerobic Exercise

If you're not doing cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis, it's time to start. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week to beat arm jiggle and burn fat all over your body. A study published in 2012 in the American Journal of Physiology found that study participants lost about the same amount of body fat whether they participated in 30 or 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.

Participate in Interval Training

Adding interval training to your workout regimen may result in significant arm-fat loss. A study published in 2011 in the Journal of Obesity found that high-intensity interval training, which is alternating short stints of high-intensity exercise with recovery bouts at lower intensities for just 20 minutes, three days weekly is an effective fat-loss strategy.

Perform Upper-Body Resistance Exercises

While it's difficult to reduce body fat in just one area of your body, participating in upper-body resistance training on a regular basis reduces arm fat, according to a study published in 2007 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Work each muscle group two to three days weekly, and perform two to four sets of 8 to 20 repetitions for each exercise, suggests the American College of Sports Medicine.

Upper body exercises that help you beat arm jiggle and work your biceps, triceps, shoulders and upper back include arm curls, triceps extensions, triceps kickbacks, push-ups, chest press, shoulder press, front raises, lateral raises, bent-over deltoid raises, bent-over rows and upright rows.

Make Subtle Dietary Changes

Lowering your overall caloric intake, cutting out extra sugar, and boosting dietary protein are subtle dietary changes you can make to help beat arm jiggle. A study published in 2011 in The Journal of Nutrition found that study subjects who exercised regularly, ate slightly fewer calories than usual, and consumed 30 percent of their total calories from protein, including protein from calcium-rich dairy foods, lost more weight and body fat and maintained more lean muscle than participants who consumed lower amounts of protein.

Foods to include in a fat-loss diet include those rich in protein, such as low-fat milk, low-fat cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, lean poultry, seafood, egg whites, soy products, nuts, seeds and legumes. Pick plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, peppers and green beans. Choose whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-grain couscous instead of white bread, white rice, crackers, commercial baked goods and other sweets.

Considerations if You Have Loose Skin

If you've lost a considerable amount of weight, have reached your goal weight, and your arm jiggle is due to loose, saggy skin, talk with your doctor about ways to get rid of it. In some cases, people with significant weight losses require skin removal surgery to get rid of excess skin caused by extreme weight loss.


Monday, 30 March 2015

How Much Cardio Is Too Much? 4 Warning Signs

how much cardio is too muchIf you have ever seen a commercial trying to sell you a pair of sneakers, or a sports drink, then you have seen someone engaged in what most would consider to be “extreme cardiovascular exercise”.  Ignoring the fact that it took an entire production, lighting and makeup crew to make someone look even remotely attractive when sweating that much, these ads have done something else that might be a little more deceptive.  They have normalized the look and activity level of someone near exhaustion.  Gyms and local running tracks are full of people picturing the commercials they saw, or the highly stylized gym posters, or the magazine ads for some fitness product or other.  Trying to match the output of the people in fitness related images is misguided at best, and harmful at worst.
Yes, it is entirely possible to overdo it when it comes to cardio.  Something that is never quite explained in those ads (and also something that may not be intuitive if you are new to working out) is the importance of pushing yourself without exhausting yourself.  There is a bit of a razor’s edge there, but you can find your perfect workout zone by listening to what your body is trying to tell you.  Something that is never mentioned in those ads is the importance of rest days.  The people you see pulling off these incredible feats of human endurance are not doing it because they worked out every day.  They’re doing it because they found the correct balance of training and rest to allow them to make ability gains.  Let’s take a look at some signs that you may be over training, and engaging in too much cardio.
Learn how to be fit for life, the healthy way, here.

You Suddenly Can’t Stay Awake

how much cardio is too much
Now, everyone sits through a boring meeting or class once in a while, and feels their eyelids getting heavy.  That is not really what I am talking about.  This is more of a fundamental change in your personality.  Are you having trouble working because you are in a permanent, mental fog?  Are you suddenly completely unable to stay awake through your favorite evening TV shows?  Are you spending your lunch breaks sneaking out to the car to catch 20 minutes of sleep?  You may be over training.
Your body is asking you – begging you – to pump the brakes a little.  Step back and consider how much cardio you have been doing lately.  Is it every day?  Is it for more than one hour at a time?  While it is true that there are many athletes who operate on similar schedules, they only do that sometimes.  Even they have rest cycles and cycles of lower training to allow for their bodies to catch up.

You Have Actually Gotten Worse at Your Workouts, Not Better

how much cardio is too much
Practice makes perfect.  We have all heard that saying.  Sometimes, we extrapolate that to mean that the more frequently we do something, the better we will be. It makes sense, right?  Yet here you stand, staring at the readout on your treadmill or your smartphone, and it’s telling you that you have been slowing down.  Wait, what?  It’s true, and it can happen suddenly. Sometimes you may hear athletes or people in training referring to the “bottom falling out” of their workouts.
Your physical health is actually made up of several important aspects, only one of which is exercise.  Part of the reason your workout performance may be going down is that you are not seeing to those other aspects.  Are you sleeping at least 8 hours per night?  Are you eating enough to sustain the amount of activity you are doing?  So often, people jump into a workout routine for the first time, while also restricting their calories to a level below what they need in a day.  If this calorie deficit is too great, or if you are not prioritizing sleep like you should,  your body crashes and runs out of fuel.  If you see this happening in your workouts, it’s time to reevaluate.

Those Annoying Aches and Pains Just Won’t Go Away

how much cardio is too muchYou’re in the middle of a great run when, in an effort to avoid a pile of wet leaves or a pothole in the road, you make an awkward turn and “tweak” a muscle in your thigh.  We have all done it.  Maybe you weren’t even running; maybe you just overextended your reach for something on the floor, or “slept weird”, and now have a stiff neck.  These are the day to day complaints everyone suffers regardless of physical health.  The key thing here is that they should go away.
If these pains are lingering for days without improving, or are stacking up on top of one another (“My knee hurts, my shoulder hurts, my back hurts and my hips hurt!”), you should take a serious look at what could be causing this.  Over training in cardio is one possible culprit.  You have worn yourself out so much, that your body can’t repair all the things it needs to.  Obviously, rest is paramount here, but there are a few other things you could try. Foam rolling can help those sore muscles begin to improve.  Swap out a few cardio sessions for a great yoga session.  It might help relax and stretch you gently, allowing your body to focus on what it needs to.

You Are Getting Sick

how much cardio is too much
It’s the middle of July, and you are the only person you know with a cold.  In fact, this is the third time you’ve been sick this summer, and that is totally out of character.  Your body could be having trouble keeping up your immunity if you are over training in cardio.
Listen to your body, and see your doctor if you have concerns.  Repeat injuries, insomnia, recurring illness and amenorrhea (your period has stopped) in women, while all possible signs of over training, could also be signs of something else.  It is always safer to get checked out.
If you truly are feeling burnt out from cardio, maybe try something gentler for a while, like Tai Chi.


Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Usually, deep tissue massage is recommended for specific problems. As a result, treatment sessions usually focus on affected parts of the body. Let us consider some of the benefits to be gained from this form of treatment.

Increased blood flow
Therapists apply firm pressure to the muscles using fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows and forearms. This has the effect of increasing blood flow and thereby increasing oxygen supply to the tissues of the body. Increased blood flow also encourages the removal of toxins, such as lactic acid, from strained muscles and subsequently speeds up the healing process. This is beneficial to athletes following a heavy training session, for example.

Elimination of scar tissue
Deep massage therapy also has the added benefit of helping to break up scar tissue and thereby restoring normal movement to muscles. This is helpful to athletes recovering from a sports injury or to individuals who have suffered an accident of some kind.

Improved posture
Many people have poor posture, often as a result of sitting hunched at a desk for long periods. Deep tissue massage can help to improve posture by allowing the body to realign itself. This is because the treatment encourages the relaxation and lengthening of affected muscles and tendons.

Pain relief

During deep massage therapy, exerted pressure can stimulate blood circulation to painful areas and thereby help to relieve pain. Chronic pain suffers, and individuals diagnosed with osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome appear to gain some pain relief from this treatment.

Relief of muscular tension due to physical or emotional causes
Those individuals who have chronically stiff necks, backs and shoulder can benefit from deep tissue massage. The techniques used in this treatment, such as slow strokes and the application of deep pressure across the grain of the muscle, encourage the release of chronic muscle tension or spasms. The body is thereby encouraged to return to its' natural state of alignment.

Ways to maximize treatment benefits
Breathing deeply can help when your therapist is working on particularly sensitive areas although it is important to tell your therapist if you are feeling comfortable. Taking a sauna or steam bath after your massage can help to reduce any soreness you may feel as it encourages the muscles to relax. Stiffness after a deep tissue massage is normal and usually dissipates within a day or two. If advised to do so by your therapist, the application of ice to the affected areas may help.

Finally, ensure that you select a suitably qualified practitioner to carry out your deep tissue massage treatment to maximize your chances of having a successful outcome.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones Workout- Circuit 2

No More Trouble Zones Workout- Circuit 2 is an intense total
body-sculpting exercise circuit that is designed to target stubborn
problem areas through Jillian's proven formula that combines dynamic
chest and abdominal exercises that will melt off calories and build
muscle. Grab your weights and get ready to sweat as America's Toughest
Trainer, Jillian Michaels takes you through the second strength-training
circuit of her "No More Trouble Zones" Fitness DVD Series that will
blast away fat and sculpt sexy and defined arms, six pack abs, and
shapely shoulders while strengthening the back. Kick your weight loss
into high gear and look and feel your best with this effective workout
that will get you results fast!

Friday, 27 March 2015

8 Ways Strength Training Creates Change in the Body

Many people start working out to increase muscle size or become stronger and capable of lifting heavier weights. Strength training with external resistance can increase strength and stimulate muscle growth simultaneously. However, there is a distinct difference between training for maximum force output (strength) and an increase in muscle size. Resistance training alone does not induce muscle growth; the training stimulus has to cause either metabolic or mechanical fatigue to initiate the physiological mechanisms responsible for increasing muscle mass. 
Momentary muscle fatigue is a signal that an appropriate amount of either metabolic or mechanical stress has been applied. Metabolic and mechanical demand on muscle tissue can stimulate the mechanisms responsible for muscle growth. Therefore, knowing how to apply the stress in the right way is essential for achieving an optimal response from a workout program. If you have a client stuck at a plateau and you’re looking for a way to kick-start his or her workout program, knowing how to create the proper stress stimulus on muscle tissue can help you achieve the results your client wants. 
Here are eight things to know about how to place the appropriate demands on muscle tissue to achieve your client’s desired results:
1. Muscle growth and improvements in strength require activating high numbers of fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers are capable of producing significant levels of force and are frequently involved in anaerobic energy production, which makes them most susceptible to both mechanical and metabolic damage. Type IIb fibers are completely anaerobic because they used stored adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to provide the energy to produce a high amount of force in a short period of time. Type IIa fibers produce energy from glycogen in a process known as glycolysis, which can take place both with (aerobically) and without (anaerobically) oxygen. Fast twitch fibers have a greater diameter (cross-width) than slow twitch fibers and are responsible for the hypertrophy, or increased fiber size, of a particular muscle.
2. Mechanical stress refers to the physical forces applied to muscle fibers. Resistance training causes microscopic damage to muscle tissue, which in turn signals the biochemical reaction to produce new satellite cells responsible for repairing the mechanical structures and building new muscle proteins. This is how strength training to the point of momentary muscle fatigue initiates the physiological mechanisms responsible for muscle growth.
3. Metabolic stress is caused by a muscle producing and using the energy required to fuel contractions. Moderate- to high-intensity, high-volume strength training programs use the glycolytic system for producing the energy required for the involved muscles to work. Anaerobic energy is muscular energy produced without the presence of oxygen. The result of sustained anaerobic glycolysis is an accumulation of lactate, inorganic phosphates and hydrogen ions, which elevate blood acidity leading to an effect known as acidosis. There is a strong relationship between blood acidosis and the elevated levels of the hormones that support muscle protein synthesis. When a muscle works to the point of fatigue or “failure,” it has expended its supply of available energy. This leads to metabolic stress on the involved tissue.
4. Mechanical stress is an important and essential stimulus for creating exercise-induced muscle growth. Metabolic stress may also be responsible for signaling the body to initiate the physiological mechanisms responsible for muscle growth. Similar to the age-old quest of which came first, the chicken or the egg, we’re not sure which plays a greater role in muscle growth—mechanical or metabolic stress—because both occur simultaneously, making it difficult to identify which is more important. However, using a weight heavy enough to cause momentary fatigue after eight to 15 reps, combined with short between-set rest intervals, will create both the mechanical and metabolic stimulus that could lead to the desired adaptations.
5. When fast twitch muscle fibers create energy from anaerobic glycolysis, it can lead to an important adaptation responsible for influencing muscle size. As muscle cells continually use glycogen for fuel, they will adapt by storing more glycogen during the recovery phase. One gram of glycogen will hold up to 3 grams of water when stored in muscle cells. Exercising to momentary fatigue not only elevates mechanical damage to the muscle, it can also deplete stored muscle glycogen. This results in an increase in muscle size once it is replenished.
6. One of the long-term adaptations to strength training is an increase in muscle fiber cross-width, which is also known as hypertrophy. As the cross-sectional area increases in size, the fibers have more surface tension and become capable of generating higher amounts of force. Muscles with a larger cross-sectional area of individual muscle fibers are capable of producing greater amounts of force. Myofibrillar hypertrophy refers to the increase in size or thickness of individual actin and myosin protein filaments, which can improve the force-production capacity of the myofibrils. Myofibrillar hypertrophy does not lead to larger muscles; rather, it results in thicker muscle fibers capable of generating more force. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase in the volume of the fluid-containing proteins responsible for tissue repair in the intercellular space that surrounds an individual muscle fiber. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy can cause the cross-sectional area of muscle fibers to increase, but most of this growth is due to the volume of the sarcoplasm and non-contractile proteins not directly involved with force production. Despite a common misperception that lifting weights can lead to an immediate increase in muscle size, it can take eight weeks or longer for significant muscle growth to occur, even in a well-designed program.
7. Compound, multijoint movements with free weights such as barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells involve a number of different muscles and can generate metabolic and metabolic stress during training. This is especially true when performing eight to 15 repetitions, with momentary failure occurring at the last repetition. Selectorized machines that focus on muscle-isolation or single-joint movements allow mechanical stress to be placed directly into localized tissue. Free weights involve a number of contributing muscles, which can increase the metabolic demand, while the stabilization provided by machines allows for heavier loads on specific muscles. Short- to moderate-duration rest intervals of 30 to 120 seconds help create a sizable metabolic demand. Completing three to four sets per exercise ensures an effective amount of stress on the involved tissues. The tempo of movement should be relatively short (i.e., one to two seconds) during the concentric phase of muscle action, and should be longer (i.e., two to six seconds) during the eccentric phase to ensure adequate mechanical strain. Slower muscle-lengthening (eccentric) actions place a tremendous amount of both mechanical and metabolic stress on muscle, which makes it an effective approach when exercising for muscular growth. Specifically, lengthening under load can create higher levels of damage, which leads to a rapid rise in protein synthesis to repair the damage.
8. Drop sets are another technique for creating muscle growth. A drop set involves using a set weight for as many reps as possible and then, when fatigue occurs, lowering the amount of weight used and continuing. Drop sets keep a muscle under tension for an extended period of time, which means they can induce significant levels of metabolic and mechanical stress. However, drop sets can also create extreme discomfort and should only be used by experienced weightlifters at the end of a workout. 
It is not completely clear whether muscle growth is the result of mechanical or metabolic
overload. What is known is that the mechanisms for muscle growth are best achieved when an exercise is performed to the point of momentary muscle fatigue. To stimulate muscle growth, a strength-training program must be applied in a manner that places a significant amount of mechanical stress on the muscle tissue, while also creating a sizable metabolic demand. 
Identifying whether a metabolic or mechanical stimulus is more appropriate for a client interested in muscle growth will take some trial and error. Some clients may be capable of tolerating the discomfort that comes with training to muscle failure, while others may prefer a heavier load for fewer reps to induce mechanical stress. While both mechanical and metabolic stimuli result in muscle growth, both can also lead to significant muscle soreness. If a client wants to increase muscle size or get stronger, he or she must understand what is involved and be willing to put forth a tremendous effort, thus’ making the phrase “no pain, no gain” completely appropriate.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Why We Still Need Cardio Training: A More Effective Approach

Woman runningCardio training has really been taking a beating recently. In the strength-training world, it’s become trendy and fashionable to make a name for yourself by suggesting that no one ever do any form of cardio training ever again or all of your muscle mass will disappear. Why are we listening to people who can squat 600 pounds with a big gut and can barely move well?
Like many topics in fitness, the accepted view on what you “should” do swings from one ridiculous extreme to the other.
There is no question that the previously dominant view that people have to do long cardio sessions to get fit is incorrect. More isn’t better. But zero isn’t better, either.
Here’s what you need to know:
-Endurance—as a component of fitness—is essential for optimum health and function.
-Cardio increases blood volume, allowing more efficient buffering of acids produced during higher-intensity training.
-You don’t need nearly as much cardio as we used to think, but you need more than zero.
Endurance is an essential human capacity. It’s what allowed us to successfully evolve to the top of the food chain. Developing the ability to outlast our prey when hunting helped us obtain precious resources for survival. But the kind of endurance we had back then was developed at a higher intensity than the long, slow cardio training that was popular not too long ago.
Of more current interest, aerobic exercise changes the brain in ways that improve cognitive function and may have beneficial effects throughout the lifespan. Aerobically fit people have more fibrous and compact white matter, which is comprised of the bundles of axons that carry nerve signals from one brain region to another. More compact white matter is associated with faster and more efficient nerve activity. This provides a host of benefits to many mental and physical tasks. And aerobic exercise can help keep our minds sharp as we age. The goal of most strength training (or even cardio training) isn’t directly tied to a better brain, but I think it’s safe to assume that all of us want a sharp mind throughout our lives.
With strength training, the goal is larger, stronger muscles and this means we have to perform shorter, more intense training. A limiting factor is the accumulation of acidic waste products in the muscle when performing an effort.
When the accumulation increases at a rate that is faster than your body can clear out, muscles begin to burn and further contractions become increasingly difficult. Your blood carries sodium bicarbonate to buffer the acidic state. Boosting the acid-buffering ability of the blood would push your fatigue point further out. A little aerobic training can make your anaerobic training better by increasing blood volume, which allows the blood to carry more sodium bicarbonate.
To get this benefit, you may need only one “traditional” cardio workout a week, but there is a better way.
If you’re reading this thinking I’m a big fan of cardio workouts, you’re wrong. I’d much rather be chasing a ball or a person playing a sport or outside in nature hiking or taking a short trail run to get my cardio training done. But life doesn’t always present opportunities to do those activities. I prefer higher-intensity strength training and faster explosive training. But it’s foolish to only train that way all the time. By performing interval training according to the ACE IFT model, you can get a lot of benefit in less time than “old school” cardio. I use this interval training two to three times per week for no more than 20 to 25 minutes per session, and have used it successfully with many clients since first learning it a few years ago.
There’s something inherently unnatural about climbing onto a machine and going absolutely nowhere while disconnecting yourself from nature. But sometimes circumstances like scheduling or weather make other options impossible. When doing this kind of training, it’s best to use the minimum effective dose so you devote more time to other forms of training or just other things in general.
And it’s also important to make clear that in no way am I advocating any boring exercise. Whatever you do should be engaging to both body and mind. That may mean using motivating music or some elements of play, competitiveness or reactivity. The moment I’m not engaged and get bored, I either change what I’m doing or I stop.
There’s not much need to do the long, boring, steady-state training of yesterday. Using modern, intelligent approaches to interval training gleans the most out of a minimum investment of time while still providing the benefits of aerobic training.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Jillian Michaels: 6 Week Six-Pack Abs Workout- Level 1

Abs Workout- Level 1 is a fierce fat-blasting abdominal workout that employs a sure-fire combination of core-focused cardio circuits and ab-toning exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously to boost the metabolism, slim the waistline, and chisel rock-hard abs. Forget boring sit-ups and prepare to sweat as America's toughest trainer, Jillian Michaels takes you through this intense, ab-shredding workout that begins with a dynamic total-body warm-up, followed by 2 complete core-strengthening cardio circuits that will target every area of the abs before finishing up with a soothing, full-body stretch to maximize results. Learn how to shed fat and tone the entire body as you develop strong muscle and ripped definition.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

10 Popular Fitness Terms Defined

Every subculture has its own terminology for describing its way of life. The health and fitness subculture is no different. A few years ago, complaining about the HIIT in your WOD at your local box would have only made sense to extreme fitness enthusiasts. Thanks to the explosive popularity of CrossFit and other high-intensity training programs, we now know that HIIT refers to high-intensity interval training and WOD is an acronym for the unique Workout of the Day offered at CrossFit training facilities (commonly called a ‘box’). 
Whether you’re new to the fitness scene or have been working out in health clubs for years, you’ve probably heard certain terms thrown around, maybe even used a few yourself without really knowing exactly what they mean. Here are 10 commonly used fitness terms along with a brief explanation of the science behind each one.
When it comes to exercise, burning is often used to refer to the feeling of when muscles experience an accumulation of metabolic waste, which creates fatigue. Acidosis is a change in blood acidity—specifically, elevated levels of lactic acid and hydrogen ions—that is often the result of moderate- to high-intensity exercise. A burning sensation in a muscle is an indication of acidosis. It’s also a sign that it is time for a recovery period to allow the body to remove metabolic waste from the working muscles and replenish the nutrients required to continue performing muscle contractions. 
Cardio is short for cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular exercise and refers to exercise that elevates the heart rate to pump oxygen and nutrient-carrying blood to the working muscles. Most often used for exercise performed on equipment like treadmills, elliptical runners or stationary bikes, it is important to know that ANY exercise that elevates the heart rate can provide cardiorespiratory benefits. Circuit training with free-weights or performing an AMRAP (as many rounds of a particular circuit as possible in a given amount of time) can be considered cardiorespiratory exercise. 
Core Training  
This has become one of the most popular and overused fitness terms of the past several years. It seems as if almost any fitness class, workout program or equipment will provide “core training” benefits. The “core” most often refers to the muscles that make up the mid-section of the body, including the ever-elusive six-pack. However, it is much more effective to think of the body’s core as the center of gravity and not an actual group of muscles. When we look at how the body functions during upright movement patterns such as walking, lifting an object off of the ground or moving an object from one place to another, we have to consider the fact that any muscle that attaches to the spine, rib cage or pelvis influences movement around the body’s center of gravity. 
High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
We have written previous blogs about the benefits of HIIT here and here. This term makes the list because it is often used to refer to exercise performed at maximal intensity. However, it’s important to remember that intensity can be subjective—what may be low intensity for some may be high intensity for others.
For individuals with a history of being sedentary or who have been dealing with chronic medical conditions that limit their ability to exercise, simply walking continuously for a few minutes at a time could be considered “high intensity.” 
Metabolic Conditioning 
Similar to HIIT, metabolic conditioning is often used to refer to high-intensity exercise performed to the point of being out of breath or experiencing muscle soreness. Here is why this overused term ought to be retired from the lexicon: Metabolism is the chemical process by which a biological organism produces energy for muscular contraction. That means that any exercise requiring a muscle contraction (which in itself requires energy) is a form of metabolic conditioning. Standing from your chair after reading this post requires your metabolism to fuel your muscles. Therefore, it is more appropriate to describe the level of effort required to perform the planned activity, such as low-intensity, moderate-intensity, high-intensity or maximal intensity. 
This term is commonly used to describe a general mode of exercise such as yoga or Pilates, because they are traditionally performed with bodyweight (with the exception of Pilates programs involving equipment such as a reformer or barrel) and require concentration to execute challenging movement sequences. However, any purposeful movement, whether it’s a biceps curl or downward facing dog, requires conscious effort. Therefore, almost any physical activity that involves learning and executing movement patterns, no matter how basic, requires cognitive focus and should technically be classified as mind-body.   
Muscle Confusion 
A popular consumer-oriented fitness program claims to be based on the science of “muscle confusion.” This is simply a marketing term created to describe the physiological effect of periodization, which is a method of organizing exercise programs based on alternating periods of intensity. The concept of periodization was developed by Soviet Union sport scientists who recognized that periods of high-intensity exercise (high stress) should be followed by a period of low-intensity exercise (low stress) to let the body to fully recover from the workouts and allow the time for the physiological adaptations to occur. 
Many programs or fitness classes refer to using plyos, which is short for plyometrics. Looking at the etiology of the word, ‘plyo’ (from pleio) is a pre-fix for “more” and metric refers to length; therefore, plyometric means “more length.” This describes the physiological affect of the involved muscles during jump training (the most common application for the lower body) or explosive movements such as medicine ball throws (often used for upper-body plyometric training).  
Plyometric training was developed by Soviet sport scientists who originally referred to it as “shock training” because of the high forces experienced by the involved tissue. That’s why it’s important to perform only a few repetitions at a time to achieve the highest level of force output possible. Any program requiring participants to perform more than five or six rapid movements (i.e., jumps or explosive lifts) in a row can significantly increase the risk of injury by placing too much force on the involved tissue. 
A number of exercise programs and classes are called Tabata, which is an actual person. Twenty years ago, Dr. Izumi Tabata, an exercise scientist from Japan, and his colleagues conducted research on ways to improve aerobic capacity using short intervals of extremely high-intensity exercise. They found that exercising at 170% of aerobic capacity on cycle ergometers for a work interval of 20 seconds followed by a brief recovery interval of only 10 seconds, repeated to exhaustion, was extremely effective at boosting aerobic capacity. Since publishing the study in 1997, Dr. Tabata’s name has been used to refer to a protocol of high-intensity interval training featuring 20-second work intervals followed by 10-second recovery intervals for eight cycles (a total of four minutes).  
If you ask most people what their general fitness goals, the answer often is to “tone up and get in shape.” We have come to accept the term “tone” to mean muscular definition, or the appearance of a well-defined muscle. The term is actually short for tonus, which is the technical term used to describe a state of contraction in a normally functioning muscle. Using a muscle repeatedly during a strength training exercise will leave that muscle in a state of semi-contraction, creating the defined appearance we have come to expect as the result of exercise.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

5 Tips to Increase Your Motivation for Indoor Cycling Workout

Are you trying to lose a few extra pounds or are you trying to slim down and get into shape? Indoor cycling is an increasingly popular way of getting fit. It is also extremely easy as no special training is required and you can do it in your spare time, no-matter what the weather is outdoors. However, not many people can keep up with a proper indoor cycling workout regime and abandon their exercise bikes, or they just simply do not derive any long term benefit to their fitness. This article offer some tips on how to keep up your motivation for indoor cycling and stop that boredom from creeping in.

Alternate Your Indoor Cycling Regimes

If you just stick to one indoor cycling workout regime every day, then you are guaranteed to get bored pretty quickly. Indoor cycling workouts, just like any other fitness activity, can be classified into different types. You can vary the workout in terms of exercise intensity, duration and frequency of the workout. High intensity workouts are useful for building up cardiovascular stamina, which would not be as relevant if you are training for a strength event. You should aim to combine sets of exercises to build up your body system and train up different muscle groups. Getting access to a specialist trainer can be helpful at the beginning to help build a proper plan for your workout, depending on what you are aiming for.

Attend an Indoor Cycling Class

This is useful especially when you are starting to lose motivation in indoor cycling. Attending an indoor cycling class at your local gym can be both fun and entertaining. You can participate in a group with similar fitness aims and this can motivate you to continue doing your indoor cycling regimes. It is also a good social event and can help you persist with your workouts through the rough times. If you cannot find time to attend the gym, then you can purchase some good fitness videos which you can use in the comfort of your own home.

Diversify Your Workout

Remember that indoor cycling is not the only means to get fit or lose weight. There are other ways such as jogging on a treadmill machine or other aerobic exercises. If you get bored, mix up your cycling with other forms of workouts to achieve your daily fitness goal. That is why attending a local gym can be useful as it can offer you this, in addition to access to their fitness instructors to guide you on your path. Research has shown that diversifying your workout offers you much more benefit than just sticking to a sole form of exercise. It also reduces the risk of injury from repetitive motions and muscle strain by doing constant activity.

Purchase a Good Exercise Bike

This is important if you are serious in indoor cycling workouts. Modern exercise bikes have multitude of information including calories burnt, distance traveled and cycling speed. They also give you useful feedback on your performance and you can gauge whether there is improvement in your fitness level. It is important to have a goal to work towards and motivate you to try harder each time and stay focused. Good exercise bikes can also give you varying levels of resistance to push yourself to the limit.

Working through Injury

One of the most annoying things that can disrupt your exercise regime is sustaining injury. Remember that cycling is just like any other form of strenuous exercise. Ensure that you do appropriate warmup and stretching exercises to prevent damage to your muscles or ligaments. Know what your body can take and avoid over-exertion, especially if you are just starting out with your fitness regime. If you are unfortunate enough to pick up an injury, then this should by no means end your fitness ambitions. You can always participate in other forms of stretching exercises or balance work.


Indoor cycling workouts are increasingly popular and can help you lose weight and maintain your level of fitness. The important tips to maintain your motivation include attending a local cycling class, getting access to a certified exercise trainer and purchasing good equipment. You should also take it slow at the beginning to avoid injuries, and diversify your workout so that you can maintain your motivation.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

5 Strength Training Exercises That Also Burn The Most Fat

If you want to get strong, tone those muscles AND burn fat, then you need to pick the exercises that give you the most bang for your buck.
These exercises are all compound exercises, meaning they work more than one muscle at a time – unlike isolation exercises (think bicep curls, triceps kick backs) that only work one muscle. Because of the physical demands these compound exercises put on the body, they are the best at putting on muscle while stripping away fat.

1. Squats – you’ve probably heard it before – it is the king of all exercises. It works the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and depending on the variation you are doing, it also uses a lot of upper body strength. Back squats use your back muscles, Front squats use you shoulder and upper back muscles, Zercher squats also use your bicep muscles as do Goblet Squats.
Squat form how to do squats_thumb[3]

2. Deadlifts – another one that people often call the king of all exercises. This works much of the posterior chain of the body – the hamstrings, glutes as well as the lats and traps, your forearms, and even the shoulders to a smaller degree.

3. Pull-ups or Chin-ups – works the upper body better than almost any exercise including the muscles of the back, the biceps as well as your abdominals to far greater degree than you might think.

4. Bench Press – works much of the upper body muscles as well, mostly on the front side, including the chest muscles, shoulders and triceps.

5. Push press – an overhead press that uses the muscles of the shoulders, triceps, as well as using your legs to push the weight overhead.
Woman Lifting Weight
There you have it. Make sure you include these exercises in your workout program to build the most muscle while burning the most fat.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

8 CrossFit Workouts for Women To Keep Fit!

CrossFit is a popular type of fitness and workout strategy that includes several types of exercises such as weight lifting, running and jogging, calisthenics, gymnastics, ball training, and others. It is distinct from other exercise routines in a way that it is performed at a very high intensity within a limited amount of time.

CrossFit workouts are generally intended to improve and develop strength and conditioning. It is an ideal routine for women since it allows the enhancement of a wide variety of physical skills such as endurance, stamina, speed, balance, strength, and flexibility. Since the focal point of CrossFit workouts is functional body movement, it is the perfect choice for women who are involved in physical activities and those who are always on the go.
With this strategy, you are met with everyday workout challenges that continually changes. The result would be that you're likely to reach your highest fitness level in no time. Let's have a look at eight CrossFit workouts for women to keep fit.

Combination of dead lift, squat, and push press – the initial stage of a CrossFit workout is the practicing the basics of squatting, push press, and dead lifts. A woman should be able to feel things out first before starting some heavy routines later. This can be done in a week.

Light and moderate weight for the early stages – the purpose of lifting weights is to develop strength as well as determine a good technique for the entire duration of the workouts. Remember a woman's objective in CrossFit workouts is to be fit, not hurt herself.
Now let's go down to business...

Cindy – Cindy is a routine composed of a combination of pull ups, pushups, and squats. Repeat a pattern of 10 pushups, 5 pull ups, and 15 squats in a 15-20 minute span. As one can see, everything starts with a light training and progress will be seen in no time.

Dead lift to fast run – the next ideal CrossFit for women is a pair of dead lift and running. What you need to do is perform five sets of dead lift. Each set must be with five repetitions as well. After that, you run 1.5-2.0 miles and record the duration of the entire routine.

Double under + sit-ups – double under is an exercise done with the help of a jumping rope. What you do is jump with good enough elevation to enable the rope to go and pass under your feet twice. This can be pretty tough for women but it sure does develop reflexes. Combine this exercise with sit-ups right after.

Fast run coupled with pull-ups – perform a repetitive routine of pull-ups (the maximum you can perform simultaneously) and then be able to run not more than 500 meters right after. Repeat and then determine if there is an increase or decrease in the number of pull-ups you can do right after every run.

Thrusters and pull-ups – the key in this routine is repetition. Start with similar number of thrusters and pull ups. For instance, begin with 20 and 20, and then repeat with lesser, say 15 and 15 and so on.

Burpee – Burpee is a term referring to a type of pushup that incorporates elevation or a jump. This is quite a tough routine for a woman but it can enhance endurance and the cardiovascular strength in general.
Remember that CrossFit workouts are performed in order to enhance the entirely of your body system. It is not limited to a certain area life developing large biceps or six-pack abs. This strategy is perfect for women who want to be fit and needs to be fit. And finally, they're not as tough as they seem to be.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

After Workout Nutrition for a Women's Fitness Diet

The foods we choose to refuel our body with post-exercise are vital to meeting our body's needs. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion surrounding women's fitness diet plans, leaving most of us unsure of what to eat and not eat after a workout.
 The important thing to remember is that nutrition needs clear, factual information, common sense, and diligence if you want to make your overall health better. If the other meals of the day are not executed properly, you won't achieve your workout goals.

What Happens When We Workout
Let's make some sense of this confusing topic by discussing why we workout. For me, (and I think I speak on behalf of MOST of the population), there are 3 main reasons to exercise:
1. Improve health
2. Improve body composition
3. Improve performance
If you want your fitness diet to contain the right nutrients your body needs after a workout, we need to focus on what our body experiences during exercise. During an intense workout, we break down muscle tissue, essentially damaging the tissues. This sounds bad, but this process is what actually makes us leaner, fitter, stronger and more muscular.
Essentially, a women's fitness diet needs to do 3 things:
1. Replenish glycogen
2. Stop protein breakdown
3. Promote protein synthesis
Muscle building occurs when our body reaches a positive protein balance during recovery by consuming the right type of nutrients after exercise triggers protein synthesis. Our body also depletes its carbohydrate levels during exercise, which need to be refilled. This means our body NEEDS protein and carbohydrates post-workout.
During and after exercise, our blood circulates more rapidly, especially through the muscles being trained. If we strategically put the nutrients it needs into our bloodstream at the right times, our bodies will be able to recover and replenish more efficiently.

After Workout Nutrition For A Women's Fitness Diet
This brings us to the "window" of opportunity, which occurs immediately after a workout. During this timeframe, our muscles are primed to accept the nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair and growth.
While protein synthesis lasts for up to 4 hours, our body will receive the most benefits from nutrients consumed within two hours of exercising. Wait too long to refuel your body, however, and you'll experience a decrease in glycogen storage and protein synthesis.

So What Should I Eat?
Let's recall what it is that we are trying to achieve with post-workout nutrition:
1. Replenish glycogen
2. Stop protein breakdown
3. Promote protein synthesis
This tells us we need carbohydrates to replenish our energy levels, and protein to prevent further breakdown and promote rebuilding.
Because our window is small, we need to consume quick digesting carbohydrates and quick digesting protein post-workout. Sources such as isolates, dextrose, or a recovery drink are best.
Whole foods digest slowly, which is why most fitness enthusiasts choose liquid post-workout over whole foods. If you do choose whole foods, opt for ones that are quick to absorb like fish and white rice. Just make sure to take advantage of the two-hour "window".

Post-Workout Protein Shakes and Protein Types
Post-workout shakes are not NEEDED, but they'll help with recovery and muscle building. Protein powder is convenient and cost-effective option. It's great for before and after your workouts, and also as a meal replacement. Because proteins have different uses, however, you'll need to select different types of protein supplementation for each one.
Soy protein comes directly from the only plant-based food to contain a complete protein: soybeans. However, it does have more fat and takes longer to absorb. On the bright side, it's excellent for supplying your muscles with a steady supply of protein throughout the day. It also contains isoflavones, which promote health cholesterol levels.
Hemp protein is derived from hemp seeds. It contains approximately 50% less protein than whey, but it does contain omega-3 fatty acids to boost heart health. This type of protein powder is best used for morning drinks and between meal snacks, rather than for post workout recovery. It's also a suitable alternative for those sensitive or intolerant to milk products.
Whey protein, from cow's milk, is a by-product left over when making cheese. It's 31% more effective at building muscle than soy, and is considerably more effective at stimulating protein synthesis compared to other proteins, but you need to be careful when buying.
Lower quality whey powder has high fat and dietary cholesterol levels. It's also the fastest-absorbing protein powder types, making it the best of the three for recovery, growth, and maintenance after workouts.

Post-Workout Nutrition For A Women s Fitness Diet -- Whey Protein
If you've looked around, you'll have noticed three types of whey protein supplements:
Whey Protein Isolate -- With almost no carbs, lactose, or fat content, this is the highest quality powder available. In fact, 90% or more of its weight will be protein. It is also the most efficient of the proteins -- 30-60% more efficient than concentrate.
Whey Protein Concentrate -- The cheapest whey supplement, concentrate is high in fat and lactose. It has the highest biological value, and is about 75% protein by weight.
Whey Protein Blends -- A mixture of concentrate and isolate, this provides you with a lower fat and lactose content, while still being affordable. Blends also have a great amino acid profile.
If you're looking for a post-workout protein shake, choose whey isolate for its protein synthesis (building) effect. It may be more expensive, but it rapidly releases amino acids into blood stream and gets into the blood quicker, which is exactly what you need immediately after a workout. It peaks after about 40 minutes, and lasts about an hour.
Micellar-Isolate Protein Powder is the highest quality form of protein powder.
Called a 'muscle-sparing' protein, casein releases much more slowly in the body, causing a steady release of amino acids into the blood, over a longer period of time.
A fast-digesting protein, such as white fish is a better pre-workout protein. And for breakfast, supplement with whey protein to combat the muscle breakdown that may occur due to the fasting that occurs while sleeping. Again, a better option here is a fast-digesting protein such as eggs.
Remember that what you eat and when you eat is just as important as the details of your specially designed workouts for women. Create a women's fitness diet that best suits you and meets the needs of your workout. You'll not only look better, and get improved results, but you'll feel better, too.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Pilates-inspired Moves That Sculpt, Strengthen and Tone

Pilates is a method of exercise to inspire graceful movements by enhancing core strength. Mat Pilates incorporates body-weight movements to develop core strength, flexibility, awareness and breath control. In addition, Pilates instructs awareness of spinal alignment as well as deep core muscle recruitment to execute efficiency, strength and stability.
The main six Pilates principles are: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow. Therefore, Pilate exercises balance muscular contraction, movement and deep breathing. The Pilates breath is essential for movement execution and core contraction. The style of breathing varies among every Pilates philosophy, but typically the inhalation is taken through the nose and the exhalation is released through pursed lips. It is ideal to inflate the diaphragm, which shifts the breath into a “three dimensional” movement into the ribs. Thus, the ribs move up and down, laterally, and front and back, similar to expanding a balloon.  
This Pilates mat routine combines traditional and Pilates-inspired movements to strengthen and tone lower, upper and core musculature. Complete one to three sets of each exercise.    

Side Plank Rotation With Leg Lift

 This movement combines a traditional side plank and side leg lift exercise to increase shoulder blade stability, core strength, thoracic mobility and hip strength.
How to Perform: Lie on your side and assume a side plank on your forearm with your bottom knee bent at 90-degrees. (To increase the challenge, position the body into a full side plank.) Reach the top arm above the shoulder. Exhale, rotate the chest and sweep the top arm under the rib cage. Inhale and return to center. Exhale and lift the top leg off the floor to where the foot is level with the hip. Inhale and return the leg to center. Repeat for six to 10 reps and switch to the other side.

Plié Squat to Yoga Tree Pose

 This movement integrates a traditional plié squat that moves into the common yoga tree pose. The plié strengthens the lower body and the transition to tree pose challenges balance, while the inner and outer thigh of the stance leg helps stabilize the pelvis.
How to Perform: Stand tall with feet hip-distance apart and arms extended in front of the shoulders. Slightly externally rotate the hips to where the feet move away from facing forward approximately one inch. Step your right foot away and lower the legs into a plié squat while opening the arms wide away from the body’s center. Exhale and lift your body upward while lifting the arms overhead and placing the right foot on the left calf. Hold for one to three seconds and continue the squat to tree motion. Complete six to 10 repetitions on the right side and then switch to the left leg.  

Plank With Leg Lift
This pose increases upper-body strength, shoulder blade stability, hip mobility and core and gluteal strength.
How to Perform: Position the body into a full plank on the hands and with the feet together. Draw in the core and imagine the hands are pushing away from the floor. Point the right toe and lift the leg upward toward hip height, contracting the gluteals. Return the leg to center and repeat for six to eight repetitions. Repeat on the left leg.

Supine Crescent Moons
This movement increases hip mobility and core strength.
How to Perform: Lie on your back and lift the legs over the hips. Maintain a neutral spine as the core musculature is engaged and “drawn in.” Lower your right leg about one to two feet (this is your starting position). With each leg, draw a crescent moon shape (the right leg draws from the bottom up, and the left leg draws from the top down to start). Continue to draw the moon shape; thus, if imagining a clock around the legs, the right leg continues to glide from 6, 3 to 12 o’clock and then 12, 3 and 6 o’clock. The left draws from 12, 9 to 6 o’clock and then 6, 9 to 12 o’clock, respectively. Exhale the breath when drawing the curve of the moon.
Complete six to 10 crescent moon shapes. *Note the farther the legs are from the hips, the more challenging the pose, especially for core stabilization. Keeping the toes directly over the hips decreases the challenge.

Double Legged Helicopters

This core exercise increases core and hip strength while focusing on the simultaneous movement of the legs and hips.
How to Perform: Lie on your back and bring the legs straight above the hips with the feet together. Bring the toes to level with your head, or eyes, (to make the move more challenging, lift the pelvis off the ground as if you were doing a reverse hip curl). Start to split the legs apart to draw what seems like the curve of a capital D (roll the pelvis back on the floor here if you have lifted it). Bring the toes back together and continue drawing this “Capital D” movement with your feet. Exhale as you split the legs to draw the curved motion. Complete six to 10 repetitions. *Note the farther the legs meet away from the hips, the more challenging for the core, but the goal is to execute strength rather than try to make as big a range of motion as possible.

Moving Cobras
Moving cobras help tone the triceps while increasing the strength of the back extensor muscles.
How to Perform: Lie on your stomach and place both hands underneath (or several inches in front of) the shoulders. Keep the top of the feet flat on the ground and elbows tucked into the side body. Inhale and lift and extend the spine off the ground while pulling the shoulder blades down the spine. Keep your eye gaze forward. Exhale and lower the torso onto the ground. Continue to use the triceps to assist the lifting and lowering motion. Complete six to 10 repetitions.


Monday, 16 March 2015

Mindset: Why Your Thoughts are the Key to your Health

I spent this past weekend in Barnes & Nobles and was wowed at the quantity of new diet, exercise and weight loss books on the shelves. It was pretty overwhelming. This made me think of the constant push of commercially marketed weight-loss and exercise programs on television, in magazines and search-engine advertisements. With all of this information around us, why is our nation suffering from obesity and depression at astounding rates?
Despite the truth and scientific evidence of some of these programs, the maintenance rate for weight-loss programs is pretty low. Often we are excited to learn about a new diet or workout so we eagerly get on a program, stick to it for a few weeks and lose some weight. Eventually, typically within a couple of months, our motivation waivers, we fall off the bandwagon of calorie counting and consistent exercise, and gain the weight back (sometimes even more). This cycle may lead to feelings of self-loathing, frustration and defeat. It is easy to become a victim of the “all or nothing” mindset when attempting weight-loss or any health-related regime. And why is it on our quest for health we feel so terrible? What is missing from all of these programs, books and advertisements is the message of a healthy mind.
A healthy mind is essential for a healthy body. We can think of a healthy mind much in the same way we would approach a new diet or exercise program, it takes time and practice. Rather than looking at a missed day at the gym or an ice cream or fried foods binge as a failure, we can see them as an opportunity to learn and grow. Just as losing weight is a slow and steady process, so too is shifting our mindset. Practicing positive thinking should be a constant, daily practice. Losing those last 10 pounds, getting a six-pack or running that race will not bring lasting happiness or health. Those are all great goals, but engaging in the process, extending these practices beyond achieving the set goal, and embracing setbacks along the way will promote lasting health and happiness. Here are three tools that can help channel a healthy mindset to fuel health, happiness and wellbeing.

1. Internal motivation: What is it about _______ that gets you excited? Whether it is losing weight, adhering to medication or changing eating habits, it is important to identify your driving factor for the change to be lasting and effective. Advice or recommendations from family members, physicians or friends usually comes from a place of love and concern, but is often not enough to make you want to engage in a behavior. When attempting to change something for health, it is critical to spend time identifying the factors that internally excite you for embracing the change. For example, if you want to lose weight and start exercising, but hate going to the gym, buying a membership is not going to motivate you to change. If you enjoy being outdoors, incorporating walks into your routine is a likely way to increase internal motivation and behavior adaptation. Spend time reflecting on your goals and find out what makes you want to achieve them. Write these down and keep them visible to help you along your journey to health and happiness.

2. Situational analysis: Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. As mentioned earlier, it is easy to get caught up in the “all-or-nothing” mindset. When our intentions and plans fall off track, it is a slippery slope operating in this frame of mind. In reality, the horrible day of fast-food consumption or week of no workouts is NOT as bad as it seems. Oftentimes, it is easy to say, “I will start (fill in the blank) on Monday” because of a relapse in progress. But why give up on an entire day, week or month because of a slip up? Instead, take the next meal, the next walk or the next hour as a chance to regain focus and embrace your health. Channel your internal motivation and get back on the wagon. Remind yourself, it is not has bad as it seems!

3. Choosing optimism: Perspective is a choice. This is one of the most empowering and liberating mindsets to have, but it takes practice. The way we react to a situation elicits a number of responses, both emotionally and physically. Negative reactions elicit a stress response in our bodies, sending stress hormones into action that can make us feel irritable, have cravings and sleep less. The flip side to this is seeing the silver lining in all situations, even when this may seem difficult. Positive reactions to stressful situations may leave us calm, feeling in control and able to embrace healthy habits despite changes in our surroundings. The bottom line is, perspective is a choice, and you have the ability to choose they way you perceive a situation. The next time you are faced with a setback, take a deep breath, and consciously work to choose optimism. Eventually, this mindset will be second nature.
As a closing piece of inspiration, think about the words Mahatma Ghandi:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”