Tuesday, December 31, 2013

10 Simple New Year's Fitness Resolutions

When you start to notice that you need to lose a few extra pounds, want to get back in shape or just maintain your current level of fitness, you need to get yourself motivated. Since it's that time of year, here are 10 simple New Year's fitness resolutions to get you going.

1. Start a Fitness Plan: Talk to your doctor or a qualified personal trainer about what your fitness goals are. Decide if you want to join a gym or exercise on your own. Most gyms offer a free trial period in their facilities.

English: SAN DIEGO (Sept. 3, 2009) Fred Fusili...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2. Make a Friend: Find someone to keep you motivated. You can find a partner to exercise with or just an online buddy to help you track your goals. Websites such as Spark and Livestrong can even help pair you up in groups with others.

3. Walk and Bike More: Park as far as you can from work, school or even the grocery store. Take the stairs whenever possible and for longer distances use a bike.

4. Drink More and Less: Try to drink more water, as much as you can possibly stand. The more water you drink the less hungry you will be. Try to cut out all alcohol and soda and cut down to just one juice a day.

5. Count Your Steps: Get a pedometer – note that even some smartphones have step counters. You can also get them at Walmart for under $10.

6. Eat In: Prepare your meals at home with fresh ingredients. You'll cut out preservatives and hidden calories. (See our Cooking From Scratch blog for weekly recipes, and cooking tips and articles.)

Healthy Food at Center for Total Health 34187
(Photo credit: tedeytan)
7. Count Calories - But Not Too Much: Keep a food journal of what you eat and an exercise journal of the activities you do each day and for how long you did them - but don't obsess about this one. Just making sure you are eating good, whole, healthy foods will go a long way towards helping you get (and stay) in shape, without having to obsess over calories.

8. Reward Yourself: Set goals and associate a reward for each of your goals. It could be anything from a piece of your favorite cake to a professional massage. Note: When giving yourself food rewards, keep it in moderation.

9. Take a Day Off: Once every two weeks give yourself a break. Take a day off from exercising and cheat a little bit on your diet. People who have periodic breaks tend to succeed more on their diet and exercise plans by not feeling so restricted.

10. Track Your Results: Take before and after pictures and chart your weight and measurements. Share your successes with others. Celebrate any change even if it's just an inch or a pound or two lost.

And last but not least, be sure to check this blog regularly for new, fun, and interesting workouts weekly!
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Video: Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred Workout - Level 1

If you want to check out the 30-Day Shred workout program we reviewed on Tuesday, check out the Level 1 workout here and give it a try. This is the full Level 1 workout, and includes a warm-up and cool down, plus cardio and strength training.

If you are a beginner, be sure to follow the beginner model, and go at your own pace, listening to your body. If anything hurts, don't do it! Be sure to follow Jillian's instructions to avoid injury. This is a pretty hardcore workout, so don't overdo it just starting out!*

You will need a set of hand weights, and an exercise mat.

This workout is only about 20 minutes, and it's a great way to get in shape for the New Year, without even having to go to the gym!

* Be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any new workout, especially if you are at a low fitness level.  

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred: Level 1
Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1 will burn fat with this interval training fitness system, combining strength, cardio, and abs workouts that blast calor...

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred

People the world over are becoming more and more health conscious as our jobs increasingly require us to sit in a chair in front of a computer all day. It’s clear that our health suffers when we do so little physical activity, and as a result a huge industry has developed to help people get healthier through physical exercise.

The Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred program is one of a number of fitness programs that aims to help people get into shape with the minimum amount of time spent exercising. This appeals both to those who are somewhat lazy and those who are very busy. So does it actually do the job? Let’s take a look.

Key Features For Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred

RRP: $14.98
Year of Release: 2008
Instructor: Jillian Michaels
Focus Areas: Strength, Cardio, and Abs

Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred: The Pros

1. 20 Minute Program: The Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred program's biggest selling point is that the program is based entirely on a workout of no more than 20 minutes a day. That sounds like a dream come true to many people, and rightly so. Having to exercise for just 20 minutes a day is nothing.

Those who’ll benefit most from this are busy people who struggle to find the time to go to the gym, or even to do more typical kinds of workout at home. It’s not hard to set aside 20 minutes of your time each day no matter how busy you are, and that’s all this program asks of you.

This is also a benefit to those who are unmotivated or lazy and don’t like the idea of having to work out. Only taking up 20 minutes of your time each day, this is a far easier program both to get started with and to stick to in the long run than many longer workouts.

2. Short Bursts of Intensity: The program differs from others in that it uses a series of short bursts of intense activity to get the exercise done. That means that the 20 minutes which each workout lasts for can be pretty exhausting, but gets things over with quickly.

This kind of exercise keeps the workout varied, as you move from one exercise to the next fairly quickly. For those who get bored easily, this will be of definite benefit. However, short bursts of activity (interval training) are also known to be an excellent way to train for both stamina and strength. In short, this will get you fighting fit, and quick.

3. Different Levels: This program offers three different levels of intensity through three different workouts. That means you can ease into things, and then as you progress you can stretch yourself and work harder and harder so that you continue to improve.

It’s worth noting that even the beginner level is far from easy, and that’s true for veteran athletes as well as total novices. Although that means it can be a tough start, it also means that you don’t just whiz through the start, so you’re getting better value for the money.

An additional advantage of having several levels is that each level offers a different workout. That means you can switch things up to keep your workouts fresh, helping you to fend off the boredom that can often come when you get used to a workout.

4. It's Simple: Many novices are easily put off workout program because they’re complicated. However,  Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred is one of the easiest to follow, using simple yet effective techniques to target key areas of the body. Whatever your previous fitness experience, you should be able to follow this program without trouble.

Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred: The Cons

1. May Exacerbate Back And Knee Injuries: This is a serious point that all potential users should be aware of. The exercises in this program may make back and knee injuries worse, or could even cause them if proper form and technique are not followed. You should be very cautious, listen to your body while working out, and consult your physician before engaging in this program to make sure you are appropriately fit to start a fitness program of this intensity.

2. Requires Accessories: Okay, so this one may not be a big deal, but to do this workout you do need a couple of accessories. These are some small hand weights and, if you’re working out on a hard floor, a mat. Although these aren’t going to cost you much, you will want to be aware that they don't come with the DVD.

3. Loud Music: This will vary depending on your personal tastes, but the music can get annoying. Sure, it’s energetic and motivational, but it could get annoying if you don't like this kind of music. Dealing with annoying music shouldn’t stop you from working out, but it might demotivate you over time.

4. Limited Variety: If you need a lot of variety to keep you interested, this workout DVD may fall short. There is only one routine for each of the three levels, so in total you have three routines to choose from. That’s a very small number, and might not be enough for some.

Is Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred Worth Buying?

This is a great workout program that obtains results quickly without eating into your free time too much. You just need to be careful of your back and knees, as some of the exercises can put a lot of strain on them and may cause injury. With this in mind though, this is a program that can definitely be recommended for its motivational style and great results in a short amount of time.

You can find Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred program in many stores as well as online via Amazon.com.


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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Video: Qigong Exercises for Energy & Stress Relief

I have been practicing Qigong (pronounced "Chi-Gung," or "Chi-Kung" - basically meaning energy mastery, or energy practice) for a couple of years now. It is a great stretching workout that takes your muscles, bones, and joints through their full range of motion, so it's great to do every day, or as a warmup for another workout.

But don't think of it as just your typical "workout"; like TaiChi, Quigong was designed as energy work, and it challenges the mind as much as the body. It is excellent for reducing stress and increasing your energy. Try this short exercise series anytime you need a quick pick-me-up, or use it to warm up or cool down after your favorite workout. It may just become one of your favorite parts of your day!

This short video demonstrates several different Qigong exercises, so you can see what it's like. If you enjoy these exercises, you can pick up my favorite DVD set on this unique method of physical and mental exercise at www.rocksolidvitality.com.

Qigong Workout
Qigong teacher John Du Cane, of DragonDoor.com, demonstrates the stress-busting workout he designed for the October issue of Experience Life. Watch as he sho...

Click Here to Learn More About Qigong...

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

5 Safe, Simple & Natural Ways To Boost Your Energy Levels

Our increasingly busy lifestyles both in and out of work are placing more demands on us than ever. All of this extra strain can really wear us out, and people are complaining of low energy levels in ever-growing numbers. Around the holidays, with all the extra activity, it can be especially tough!

Finally my energy levels picking up -Bleurgghh...
(Photo credit: ultimatephili)
If you’re one of the many people who feel affected by low energy levels, then no doubt you’ll be wondering if there’s anything you can do to change this. Although doctors can offer medication to help with some energy level problems, and if your adrenal glands are depleted from too much coffee and lack of sleep supplements may help, but there are actually natural ways of improving your energy levels that don’t require a trip to the doctor or any special drugs or pills.

The following 5 ways of increasing your energy levels are all simple and natural. None of them is a guaranteed method, but there’s a good chance that by using all of these approaches you’ll experience at least some benefit.

1) Sleep: It might seem completely obvious, but getting enough sleep is essential to having good energy levels. What many of us may think is good sleep is often actually inadequate. Although the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, for most the optimal amount of sleep is 8 hours. This period of sleep should be as uninterrupted as possible. There are many ways of improving the quality of your sleep which you can easily learn about through searching online - or on our blogs.

2) Exercise: You might think that exercise simply tires you out, but getting regular exercise can have a profound effect on your energy levels. By engaging in regular exercise, you improve your physical fitness, giving you greater stamina which means you can carry out activities for longer without getting tired as quickly. (For lots of fun ways to get that workout in, be sure to check this blog regularly!)

3) Meal Skipping: One of the worst things you can do for your energy levels is to skip meals. Your body gets its energy from the food you eat, so eating less food means having less energy. And if you really must skip a meal, make sure it’s not breakfast. By the time you wake up in the morning it will already have been a long time since you ate dinner, and skipping out on breakfast only increases this. That’s a long time to go without a source of energy for your body!

I'd say it's half full ... Unlike my energy levels
Regular exercise relieves stress & boosts energy. (Photo credit: servantofchaos)
4) Stress: Another big factor in energy levels is stress. Feeling stressed can drastically decrease your energy levels making it difficult to stay focused or even awake. Find ways to reduce your stress and you will almost certainly see an improvement in your energy. Exercise is one great way to reduce stress levels. Another useful stress-busting tip is to make lists of the things you need to do tomorrow not long before bed. It can help clear your mind of unnecessary thoughts and worries.

5) Eat Small: Although it’s important not to miss meals, in order to keep your energy levels at their peak it’s actually better if you don’t have 3 big meals per day… Instead, you should eat more than three meals of a smaller size throughout the day. This gives your body a steadier energy supply, preventing the yoyo-ing of energy levels that we’re all familiar with.

By following these 5 simple tips, you can reduce your stress levels, improve your health, and have plenty of energy for all the holiday activities you've got going on this season!
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Video: 20-Minute Total Body Toning Workout

This fun 20-minute workout combines cardio and toning exercises for a fast-paced workout that will work your entire body from head to toe - from butt and thighs, to abs, core, back, arms, shoulders, and more. Each exercise is only done for a few seconds at a time, which keeps it interesting, and keeps you moving. A warmup and cool down are included in the 20 minutes. This is a great workout for men or women that only takes a few minutes and really gets results - you'll want to add this one to your regular rotation!*

You will need the weights shown below, plus a yoga or non-slip mat.

* Note: Be sure to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or trainer before beginning any new workout, especially if you are starting at a low level of fitness. Use caution and listen to your body when doing any workout. If something hurts or feels wrong, stop, and adjust your technique if necessary, or skip that particular exercise.

BeFiT GO: 20 Min Total Body Toning Workout
This is an intense, full body-sculpting cardio circuit workout set to some of today's hottest workout music, that is de...

Equipment You'll Need for This Workout:
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: Skechers Women's Shape-Ups Toners: Do They Live Up To The Hype?

Toning sneakers have been around for several years now, but it's only in the last year or two that their popularity has really soared. Although there are many brands on the market, Skechers Women's Shape-Ups toners are still the most popular and are selling in huge numbers everywhere. But are they worth spending your hard-earned cash on?

The Basic Features of Skechers Women's Shape-Ups Toners

English: This is the corporate logo of Skecher...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
These are specially designed sneakers that promise to help you tone up faster, burn more calories, and improve your posture. Some of the main features include:

* Antibacterial sock liner to increase breathability and avoid moisture build up,
* A "kinetic wedge" in the sole that rocks back and forth to force your muscles to work harder as you walk,
* Rubber tread to maximize traction.
* Available in traditional sneaker style with lace up front, and in a wide range of colors.
* Designed for extreme comfort while walking, with lower impact on the joints.

How Do Skechers Women's Shape-Ups Toners Work?

First things first, how do these sneakers actually work to help you tone up more quickly? It's understandable to be skeptical when it comes to anything that claims to help you lose weight faster!

Skechers claim that you can burn more calories thanks to the curved design of the shoe, and that the instability created by the "kinetic wedge" will make your muscles work harder in order to stay balanced. The end result? More toned calves, thighs and buttock muscles.

Independent studies have confirmed that the design of the shoe may have an effect on your workouts, and will help to increase muscle activity as long as you use them. Other studies have concluded that the shoes simply motivated people to work out more than usual - so the evidence is still inconclusive.

Where the shoes have usually seen greatest results is in improvement of posture which can help to make your workouts more effective on its own.

What Customers Are Saying About These Toning Sneakers

The sales numbers speak volumes: Skechers have a number of very happy customers who are coming back to buy even more pairs of these sneakers. Although many buy them for the toning benefits, and claim that they have noticed results when wearing them. One reviewer even tested the shoes while doing housework and noticed that she was aching when she finished!

However, many customers buy the shoes simply for their comfort and reduced impact on the joints. They've found that it helps to make exercise and day to day walking more comfortable for them.

Skechers Women's S2 Lite Shape Ups Lace-Up Fashion Sneaker
Are There Any Complaints?

The main complaint of the first series of Skechers Shape-Ups was that they looked noticeably different to standard sneakers. The good news is that there is now a large range of sneakers that look just like any other kind of sneaker, so you won't automatically stand out while you wear these shoes for your day to day walking. Most customers state that the shoe feels slightly odd and unnatural to wear at first, due to the rocking motion, but that you quickly get used to them.

Aside from this, the main complaint of the new style is that they run slightly small - you may need to order a size larger than you normally wear.


Thanks to the new styles available, Skechers Women's Shape-Ups Toners are now more accessible to a wider range of women who want something that looks like a traditional sneaker. Although they do cost more than many sneakers, they're worth it if you're looking for something comfortable that will improve your posture and may help you to tone up faster than normal.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Video: Rock-Climbing Exercises for Building Strength

On Tuesday we talked about rock climbing - a fun and novel way to exercise that many people haven't tried yet. It may look intimidating when you see all those pictures of tiny climbers way up on huge cliffs, but actually there are lots of helpful programs out there to get you started climbing even if you are a complete beginner, and have never climbed so much as a tree before. You can even get started at a local gym on a beginner-level indoor climbing wall with the help of a trained professional.

But whether you're just starting out, or have climbed many times before, it is important to keep building your strength. Rock climbing is an intense form of exercise that works your entire body, and in order to progress to more difficult climbs, you will need to increase your fitness level, and the strength of many different muscle groups.

This short video shows you how to do pull-ups to start building your upper body strength, which is essential for rock climbing. Even if you're a total beginner with very little upper body strength to start with, this video gives you some tips for building up your strength so you can move on to the full pull-up, so don't be too intimidated to try! He also shares tips for improving your strength at intermediate and advanced levels as well.

Rock Climbing Exercises - Building Rock Climbing Strength Training - Lesson 1
http://RockClimbTips.com Part 1 of rock climbing exercises you can do at home to become a stronger climber. This workout focuses on increasing your pull-up s...

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rocking It: Six Reasons to Try Rock Climbing for Exercise

As children many of us enjoy climbing. However, climbing isn’t just for children, and taking up climbing as a hobby and form of exercise could be great for you. Here are some of the top reasons why rock climbing could be your next big passion, and why so many people make it a part of their lives.

Our last climb of the day
Our last climb of the day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Get Outdoors: Rock climbing can get you outdoors, and often takes you to some really beautiful places. You could find yourself in a local valley, at a national park, or even somewhere on the other side of the world. There is great climbing to be done just about everywhere!

As an outdoor activity, rock climbing also ties in well with other hobbies such as camping and canoeing. You could happily spend a day paddling up a river to a climbing spot, enjoying a challenging climb, and then paddling back to your camp at the end of a great day’s climbing - now that's a full day of exercise.

2. Exercise Indoors: Although rock climbing is more common as an outdoor activity, you can also enjoy it in indoor environments. Many gyms and public sports centers have climbing facilities. This is great for those who don’t have time to get to natural climb spots, or who live in the middle of a big city. It’s also useful for those times when the weather outside is bad.

3. Graded for Difficulty: Rock climbing routes are graded. This indicates how difficult the climb is likely to be. As a climber, you will start out only able to tackle the lowest graded routes. However, with time you’ll improve and be able to tackle harder routes. This grading system allows you to gauge your progress, helping you to recognize your improvement and that of your friends, and feel a sense of accomplishment.

4. Can Be Non-Competitive: Generally, rock climbing is a non-competitive sport. The only person you usually compete against is yourself – to see if you can go that bit further and harder. This makes it a more mentally relaxed pursuit, even though it’s one of the most physically demanding of all sports. Generally all you have to worry about is you and the rock. This makes it therapeutic, helping you to stay focused and stop thinking about the stresses of your daily life.

5. Can Also Be Competitive: While much rock climbing is non-competitive, there are competitive options for those who are interested. Competitions are usually held at indoor locations. Climbers compete in rounds, and are judged on speed, point-reached and various other indicators. If you're a natural competitor, you may want to try out a competition once you get the hang of things. This will bring more fun to your climb!

Rock Climbing 101
Rock Climbing 101 (Photo credit: Ann Arbor District Library)
6. Fitness: In addition to the outright fun that rock climbing offers, it also improves fitness. Climbing itself is strenuous, and will challenge you whether you are a beginner or have become quite advanced. It uses all of the muscles in your body – from the tips of your toes to the tips of your fingers and everything in between! Your legs, glutes, core, chest, shoulders, back, and arms will all be put to the test.

After a certain point, you’ll probably need to start a training program in order to continue to improve your climbing. Having lots of endurance as well as all-round body strength are essential to advanced climbing.

These are just a few of the reasons why so many people today enjoy rock climbing as part of their lifestyle, and why you should consider taking up rock climbing yourself. It’s great fun, challenging, good for the mind and great for the body. What have you got to lose? Go ahead and give it a go, and try one more new, fun way to exercise this year!

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Video: 10-Minute Lower Body Toning Workout

Let's work off some of those holiday calories! This short workout tones your lower body, including butt and thighs, for a toned, shapely lower half in just 10 minutes. Do this one a couple of times per week, and see a difference in your strength, endurance, and coordination. And it only takes a few minutes at a time to get results. You'll be walking the malls for hours with no problem this shopping season! :-)

Leg and Butt Toning Workout, 10-Minute Workout, Class FitSugar
Let's wrap up 2013 strong! We got the entire team together to take you through a lower-body workout. Start with our active warmup and cardio workout, the...

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dispelling 3 Myths Surrounding Toning Exercises

Toning exercises have long been promoted, mainly for women, as a way to bring out the definition of muscles without the worry of looking bulky and overly muscular.  Many women have wanted the look of the muscles, without the size.  Weight lifting routines have attempted to cater to this demographic, only to fail.  Why?  Because when it comes to toning exercises, there are some myths that exist that are concealing the truth! 

English: sketch of the muscles in the arm
Sketch of the muscles in the arm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Myth #1:  Using heavier weights to work out will produce bigger, bulkier muscles.

* For women, this is generally not true.  It does hold true for men, however.  This is because men have more testosterone, the hormone responsible for muscle growth.

* Since women do not have large amounts of testosterone, they will not produce the large muscles that men sometimes do, unless they are taking a hormone supplement.

* In order to have toned muscles, you will have to work them out.  Using heavier weights will build muscle, but these gains will be limited by what your body will allow, so in most cases women don't need to worry about developing bulky muscles.

Myth #2: Doing more repetitions (reps) using less weight will produce toning and definition.

* If you flex a muscle, and it is still soft to the touch, it does not necessarily mean you lack toned muscles.  What is does mean is that the soft tissue is a layer of fat that is covering your muscles. 

* The only way to bring out definition and that toned look in your muscles is to shed that layer of fat on top of them.  You can have all the muscle you desire, but if a layer of fat is covering your muscles, you'll never really see them.  This is why you don't really see the individual muscles on competitors in a "Strongman Competition."  Having a layer of fat on their muscles is not a worry to them.  Instead, being strong is their main focus.  But no one would dare argue that they are not muscular. 

* There is one purpose to doing more reps with less weight, however.  If your goal is muscle endurance and not muscle growth, such as a long-distance runner, then you would follow this routine.  More reps with less weight promote endurance, not growth. 

The cross trainer can be used to warm up muscl...
Machines like the cross trainer can be used to warm up & exercise muscles in both the upper and lower body. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Myth #3: Cardiovascular training does not help to tone muscles. 
* If taken at its most basic level, this statement is true.  Generally, cardio training is not  related to toning exercises, although it may depend on the type of gym you go to, and what type of exercise you are doing. Some exercises, such as calisthenics, provide cardio exercise and also build strength at the same time. 

* If we follow the premise that in order for muscles to be seen, the layer of fat between the muscles and the skin must be shed, we can see the importance of cardio training. 

* Although weight training can shed calories and fat to a certain extent, only cardio training will give you the chance to work at a fat-burning zone for an extended period of time.  This is therefore the most effective way to burn fat - especially if you use the interval training method. 

So there you have it!  Three myths about toning exercises have been dispelled.  If toning your muscles is your goal, you do not need to decide between lighter or heavier weights.  Use weights that will challenge your muscles, and they will begin to show through as your cardiovascular training gives you the definition you seek. 

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Video: Pilates Abs & Obliques Core Workout

Pilates is an excellent form of exercise to build a strong core, as it focuses constantly on the core muscles regardless of what exercise you are doing. This video however focuses specifically on your core. This short (17-minute) core workout works all of your core muscles to build strength and stability, and help prevent back pain and injury, as well as improve your posture and appearance of your abs and waist. Done on a regular basis, this one can really make a difference to your balance and posture.

Be sure to pay attention to the verbal instructions for proper technique, and watch the demo through at least once before you do it yourself. This is a progressive workout, meaning it starts off easy and gradually increases the challenge with each exercise, so you don't really need to warm up first.

Give it a try, and feel those abs burn!

Pilates Core Series Workout - Fitness Blender Pilates Abs and Obliques Workout
Click here http://bit.ly/rRFe0L to find out how many calories this workout burns, & what it's benefits are. Lose 16-24 lbs in 8 weeks with our free videos - ...

More Pilates Workouts to Strengthen Your Core: 
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

3 Strength-Building Exercises for Your Core

When creating a strength-training routine, it is crucial that core exercises be a part of your program.  The core has traditionally been associated with the abdominals and lower back muscles, but hip and pelvic muscles are also very important. 

English: Abdominal muscles on a woman's belly.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Strengthening all of these muscle groups as part of your core exercises has several benefits: 

* Increased tone in the superficial abdominal muscles
* Reduced chances of suffering lower back pain
* Less chance of injury during workouts
* An increase in balance and stability

With more than two dozen muscles groups making up the core, a wide variety of exercises can be done to target them.  The following exercises, however, will not only activate some of these muscles, but will develop strength in these areas.  This is key to developing overall balance and stability.

1. Plank Position

The Plank Position is one of the best core exercises that you can do.  The reason is that when done properly, it not only targets your core, but it is very effective at working on your quadriceps muscles in your thighs, your chest muscles, as well as your triceps and several smaller stabilizer muscles.

For the most benefit, try to hold the plank position as long as you can, and then repeat a second time.  Your goal from one workout to the next would be to increase your personal best time.  Plank is very common in yoga, but it is a versatile exercise that can be adapted to suit all fitness ranges and abilities.

2. Crunches and Sit-ups

Are crunches and sit-ups the same?  The simple answer is, "no."  With a typical crunch where your legs are in a static position, you will adequately develop the superficial abdominal muscles.  In a crunch, your back also stays on the floor (unlike sit-ups). 

If you wish to strengthen the deeper abdominal muscles, sit-ups may be your exercise of choice.  Sit-ups are a great abdominal and hip flexor strengthening tool, if done properly. 

Performing the crunch
Performing the crunch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
However, there is a word of caution when doing sit-ups.  Ensure that your hands are on your chest, not behind your head (which you can get away with during a crunch), so as to avoid causing neck strain! Also, done incorrectly, situps can really do a number on your lower back, so if you have any problems in this area you should stick with the safer crunches.

The other advantage of doing sit-ups is that you can use a dumbbell or a medicine ball to challenge your abdominal muscles even further. 

3. Alternating Side-Leg Lifts

These core exercises are very good at targeting the lower abdominal muscles.  Most core workout exercises are great for the lower back and upper abdominals, but not as many will aim to target the lower abdominals.  Side-leg lifts do exactly that.  In fact, it is advisable that you work out the lower abdominals before the upper abdominals, so make this your first exercise when working out your core.

In summary, core exercises that incorporate strength training create a strong foundation that will allow you to maximize your workout routine.  Although the effects of strong core muscles cannot always be seen right away, they will pay big dividends as you progress down the road to better health and fitness. 
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Run On the Treadmill + 3 Treadmill Interval Workouts

Running on the treadmill has some obvious advantages over running outdoors, especially in bone-chilling winter weather.

It's no surprise that many people like running because of its calorie-burning effects. After all, since running is weight bearing and recruits a large amount of muscle, it is the best form of cardiovascular fitness training to burn calories and fat. Besides, when was the last time you saw an overweight runner?

Use Intervals

Treadmill (Photo credits: Best Buy)
Whether you are a hardcore runner is of no importance. You can still benefit tremendously from the treadmill workouts you're soon about to discover. As you'll see, these treadmill workouts are based on interval training.

Interval training is a powerful method of maximizing your peak cardiovascular fitness and burning fat because it enables you to run at a higher intensity for a longer period of time since bouts of high intensity are interspersed with bouts of lower intensity. As a result, you get a cardio fitness training effect and boost your metabolism for several hours after your interval workout.

This post-exercise metabolism boost is known as EPOC or "excess post-exercise oxygen consumption" and can be responsible for several hundred calories expended while you are rest for up to several hours after your interval training workout.

What's even cooler about intervals is that they allow you to spend less time exercising while providing more substantial fitness and fat burning improvements compared to long, boring cardio sessions. In just 15-20 minutes of interval training you can accomplish what most exercisers never come close to achieving in an hour of cardio!

So now that we've established the benefits of interval training, let's have a look at some interval treadmill workouts that will save you time and give you huge fat burning and cardiovascular benefits! I know you'll enjoy them and find them both challenging and invigorating compared to traditional long, boring cardio workouts.

Each of these running workouts should begin with a light 5 minute warm-up (ie. jogging). Note as well that these interval training workouts are fairly challenging so give them a shot and see how you do. Try the first one a few times before you move on to the second, and the same with that before moving to the third. A few weeks from now, you'll be fitter, leaner, and have more endurance!

Interval Workout #1:

Work = 2 minutes @ 85%
Recovery = 1 minutes @ 65%

Repeat 4 times for a total of 12 minutes.

Interval Workout #2:

Work = 1 minute @ 95%
Recovery = 1 minute @ 65%

Repeat 10 times for a total of 20 minutes

Interval Workout #3:

Work = 30 seconds @ 100%
Recovery = 90 minute @ 65%

Repeat 10 times for a total of 20 minutes.

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s leading fitness and sports conditioning experts. You can take his Treadmill Trainer interval trainin running programs for a free test spin by visiting http://www.cartville.com/app/?Clk=5153122 and learn more about the best running workouts to get you fitter and running faster than ever before!


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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Indoors or Outdoors? Which Is The Better Way To Run?

Let’s start off by saying that there is no bad way to run. Running is an excellent exercise. It burns fat, improves sleep, and reduces stress. The list could go on and on. Inside or outside, it’s all good. However, there are definite pros and cons to running indoors or outdoors. One location may better suit your needs and preferences.

The Benefits of Running Outdoors

#1 Variety – Even if you run the same route every single time, you’ll encounter different experiences outdoors. Animals, people, vehicles and route conditions all change day after day.

#2 Sunshine – Our bodies need sunshine. It helps you produce vitamin D which elevates your mood and makes you less susceptible to disease.

#3 Realistic Conditions – When you run outside your body has to deal with changing terrain. Not only do you have to watch out for obstacles in your path, you also experience hills. Indoors that isn’t always possible. If you’re training for a race it’s likely going to be outside. And real running terrain also helps you build core strength and stability.

The Downside to Running Outside

Houses in Washington Park, East Chicago
Snowy weather. (Photo credit: UIC Digital Collections)
#1 Bad weather – While some people do enjoy running in the rain, wind and snow, many do not. You can’t always count on perfect weather.

#2 People, animals, and vehicles – When you run outside you definitely have to keep an eye out for the things around you. It’s not unheard of to be chased by animals, bothered by people or to have to dodge a car or a bike when you run outside.

#3 Lighting – Many runners have to run before or after work and that means running in the dark. Running in the dark brings its own risks to the program.

The Benefits of Running Inside

#1 The biggest benefit to running inside is convenience. This is particularly the case if you run on a treadmill in your home. You can watch television, make phone calls and check your email while you run.

#2 Safety. In general, running indoors is safer. You don’t have to deal with animals, other people, or vehicles.

#3 Privacy. If you run on a treadmill in your home you can run in whatever suits you, including nothing at all. It’s private. If you run in a gym, that’s not the case of course. However, you don’t have to dress for the weather when you run in a gym which may save on fitness attire.

English: Nordic walking on a treadmill in a he...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Downside to Running Inside

#1 Boring. Running inside can get downright boring. You’re either running in circles on a track or you’re running in place on a treadmill.

#2 Lacks social element. There’s just no way to go on a group run on a treadmill. It’s you and you alone on your runs. You can’t even take your dog with you.

#3 No race training. Some runners do supplement their outdoor running program with a treadmill run when the weather gets bad. However, it is difficult to train for a race when you run on a treadmill. An indoor track might be okay however when most people run on a treadmill their running form changes. It’s difficult to replicate an outdoor run.

You don’t have to choose one or the other. Many runners run outside when they can and they run inside when they have to. The important thing to remember is to make time for running, wherever you can.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Video: Weight Training Workout for Fat Loss

This 30-minute workout works your entire body, toning and strengthening your muscles, so you'll burn more fat - even after you're finished with the routine!* Free weights (dumbbells) are needed for this workout. Free weights can help with fat burning, as they will challenge and use more of your muscle groups for each movement, creating more calorie burn, and also a more balanced physique than working out with a weight machine. Not to mention, they take up a lot less room in your home!

Use whatever weight works for you - but be sure to pace yourself, as it's a fairly long weight routine. You may want to start out with heavier weights, then switch to lighter ones as your muscles start to get tired, so you can avoid injury. Also be sure to warm up and stretch before doing this workout as this is not included in the video. Be careful, pay attention to the instructions, and listen to your body.

Now let's get ready to get our burn on!

* Note: Be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner and/or trainer before beginning any new workout routine, especially if you are at a low fitness level.

Weight Training Workout for Weight Loss - Fat Burning Functional Strength Training Workout
Find out how many calories this burns @ http://bit.ly/JRoua7

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

4 Benefits of Using Free Weights As Part of a Weight Training Program

When you decide to embark on a weight training program, one of the first questions you will have to address is, "Do I use machine weights or free weights?"

Beginners will tend to gravitate toward machine weights, because they do not have to worry about balancing a set of dumbbells through a range of motion, and they can just focus on feeling the burn.  And that's okay.  However, as you progress and become more comfortable with a weight-training program, consider incorporating free weights as they have many advantages.

So what are the advantages of using free weights in comparison to machine weights?

Dumbbell chest fly
Dumbbell chest fly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. By using free weights, you will innervate many more stabilizer muscle groups as you work to balance the weight through your range of motion.

* The fact that machine weights are supportive is actually their hugest downfall.  They are so supportive that you only need to use a few major muscles groups for any given exercise.

* In contrast, when you use free weights, you are targeting extra muscle groups.  This will help to burn more calories than with machine weights alone - and will balance your muscles and help avoid injury.

2. Using free weights allows you the flexibility to change the path that you will take when performing an exercise.

* Unlike the singular, repetitive motion of a machine that targets the same muscles over  and over, varying the path of your dumbbells will work different muscle groups.

* Dumbbells and other free weights have a tremendous versatility that machine weights cannot match.  You can use any given dumbbell to work out almost every different area of your body.

For example, in addition to doing bicep curls, a dumbbell can be used: 
o in a bench press
o it can be held against your chest during a series of crunches
o it can be pressed over your head to work out your shoulders
o it can even be held between your feet during a hamstring curl.

* Using machine weights for all of these exercises would require multiple machines.

Free weights
Free weights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
3. Free weights take up much less space when compared to the size of a typical machine system.

* Further to this, since machines usually boast of attachments and the latest technology, they inevitably cost many times more than what it would cost to equip yourself with a basic set of free weights.  Cost and space are two key factors when people choose any workout equipment.

4.  Free weights do not allow your stronger side to compensate for the weaker side.

* Weight machines focus on working out both sides of your body in tandem.  The pec fly machine is an example.  If you have one side of your body that is stronger, which is often the case, the machine will allow your stronger side to work harder and compensate for the weaker side.

* As a result, machine weights will often hide your weaknesses on one side, however small they may be.  This cannot happen with free weights, because if your left side cannot push out that last rep, your right side cannot help it at all.  This allows you to develop more evenly balanced strength.

In summary, a weight-training program does not have to be one dimensional – only machine weights or only free weights.  It can be a combination of both.  However, definitely consider letting free weights play a significant role in your weight training, as the benefits to using them are numerous.

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