Saturday, June 29, 2013

Video: 15-Minute Interval Cardio Workout

This quick 15-minute workout will give you a great full-body high-intensity cardio workout that will help you burn lots of fat quickly, and increase your metabolism. No equipment necessary! Each of the 10 exercises is done for one minute, with 30-seconds of active recovery in between. You can do either the exercise she demonstrates for the recovery periods, or march in place, or another moderate activity. The goal is to bring your heart rate down, conditioning your heart to be able to handle short bursts of intense activity and recover quickly.

The exercises in this workout are similar to my favorite PACE Express workout by Dr. Sears, and boy do they work! You'll feel like you've been sweating at the gym for an hour, but it only takes 10 minutes out of your day.  Be sure to warm up properly first, and stretch afterwards. Consult with your doctor before beginning this or any other intense exercise program, especially if your fitness level is low.


Lose Fat Fast with Our Favorite Interval Cardio Exercise Program:
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cardio Myths & Fat Loss

Are you a cardio junkie? Everyone seems to think that "cardio" is the best way to get in shape and lose body fat.  I'm going to show you in this article why I disagree!

It is quite common to hear fitness pros, doctors, and other health professionals prescribe low to moderate intensity aerobic training (cardio) to people who are trying to prevent heart disease or lose weight. Most often, the recommendations go something like this:

"Perform 30-60 minutes of steady pace cardio 3-5 times/week maintaining your heart rate at a moderate level"

English: Exercise work zones (Fox and Haskell ...
Exercise work zones (Fox and Haskell formula between 20 and 70-year-old): red zone (VO2Max), anaerobic, aerobic, weight control and warming up. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Before you just give in to this popular belief and become the “hamster on the wheel” doing endless hours of boring cardio exercise, I’d like you to consider some recent scientific research that indicates that steady pace endurance cardio work may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

First, realize that our bodies are designed to perform physical activity in bursts of exertion followed by recovery, or stop-and-go movement instead of steady state movement. Recent research is suggesting that "physical variability" is one of THE most important aspects to consider in your training.

This tendency can be seen throughout nature as most animals tend to demonstrate "stop-and-go" motion instead of steady state motion. In fact, humans are the only creatures in nature that attempt to do “endurance” type physical activities such as running long distances at the exact same speed the whole time.

Most competitive sports (with the exception of endurance running or cycling) are also based on stop-and-go movement or short bursts of exertion followed by recovery.

To examine an example of the different effects of endurance or steady state training versus stop-and-go training, consider the physiques of marathoners versus sprinters. Most sprinters carry a physique that is very lean, muscular, and powerful looking, while the typical dedicated marathoner is more often emaciated and sickly looking. Now which would you rather resemble?

Another factor to keep in mind regarding the benefits of physical variability is the internal effect of various forms of exercise on our body. Scientists have known that excessive steady state endurance exercise (different for everyone, but sometimes defined as greater than 60 minutes per session most days of the week) increases free radical production in the body, can degenerate joints, reduces immune function, causes muscle wasting, and can cause a pro-inflammatory response in the body that can potentially lead to chronic diseases.

Highly variable cyclic training

On the other hand, highly variable cyclic training has been linked to increased antioxidant production in the body and an anti-inflammatory response, a more efficient nitric oxide response (which can encourage a healthy cardiovascular system), and an increased metabolic rate response (which can assist with weight loss). Furthermore, steady state endurance training only trains the heart at one specific heart rate range and doesn’t train it to respond to various every day stressors.

On the other hand, highly variable cyclic training teaches the heart to respond to and recover from a variety of demands making it less likely to fail when you need it.  Think about it this way... Exercise that trains your heart to rapidly increase and rapidly decrease will make your heart more capable of handling everyday stress. Stress can cause your blood pressure and heart rate to increase rapidly. Steady state jogging and other endurance training does not train your heart to be able to handle rapid changes in heart rate or blood pressure.

Cardio Boxing Group Fitness Class
Cardio Boxing Group Fitness Class (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The important aspect of variable cyclic training that makes it superior over steady state cardio exercise is the recovery period in between bursts of exertion. That recovery period is crucially important for the body to elicit a healthy response to an exercise stimulus. Another benefit of variable cyclic training is that it is much more interesting and has lower drop-out rates than long boring steady state cardio programs.

To summarize, some of the potential benefits of variable cyclic training compared to steady state endurance training are as follows: improved cardiovascular health, increased anti-oxidant protection, improved immune function, reduced risk for joint wear and tear, increased muscularity (versus decreased muscularity with endurance training), increased residual metabolic rate following exercise, and an increased capacity for the heart to handle life’s every day stressors.

Sports Workouts and Sprinting

There are many ways you can reap the benefits of stop-and-go or variable intensity physical training. Most competitive sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, racquetball, tennis, hockey, baseball, etc. are naturally comprised of highly variable stop-and-go motion which trains the heart through a MUCH wider heart rate range compared to just steady walking or jogging.

Doing swimming workouts in a variable intensity fashion may also be more beneficial than just swimming for a long duration at the same speed.  Same goes for bicycling -- that is why mountain biking, which involves extreme ups and downs at various intensity levels may also be more beneficial than just a long flat steady pace bike ride.

One of the absolute most effective forms of variable intensity training to really reduce body fat and bring out serious muscular definition is performing wind sprints.  Wind sprints can be done by sprinting at near max speed for 10-30 seconds, and then taking 60 seconds to walk for recovery before your next sprint. 6-12 total sprint intervals is usually a very challenging workout for most people.

In addition, weight training naturally incorporates short bursts of exertion followed by recovery periods. High intensity interval training (varying between high and low intensity intervals on any piece of cardio equipment) is yet another training method that utilizes exertion and recovery periods. For example, an interval training session on the treadmill could look something like this:

Warm-up for 3-4 minutes at a fast walk or light jog
Interval 1 - run at 8.0 mi/hr for 1 minute
Interval 2 - walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes
Interval 3 - run at 10.0 mi/hr for 1 minute
Interval 4 - walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes

Repeat those 4 intervals 4 times for a very intense 20-minute workout.

Also, don't overlook other great ways to incorporate variable intensity cardio training by using a jump rope, a rowing machine, stairs running, or even outdoor hill sprints.

The take-away message from this article is to try to train your body at highly variable intensity rates for the majority of your workouts to get the most beneficial response in terms of heart health, fat loss, and muscle maintenance.

Article By Mike Geary – Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Author of best-seller:  The Truth about Six Pack Abs

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Video - Weight Training Workout for Fat Loss

This video gives a comprehensive full-body weight training workout that is great for building and toning muscle, boosting metabolism, and burning fat. The voiceover gives great technical instruction during the demo, so be sure to pay attention to his tips for proper form and technique. This will help you get the most out of the workout as well as avoid injury. Do this workout three times per week, with interval cardio on the in-between days, and one day of rest, and you will be amazed at how the weight just melts off!

Be sure to warm up with a few minutes of light cardio before beginning this workout, as the video doesn't include one. And incorporate some good cool-down stretches at the end. This will increase flexibility and help your muscles recover.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Muscle Facts Versus Fiction

If you've been weight training, here's a short list of bodybuilding myths that are fictional - and the corresponding truths that will help you safely make the most of your weight training workouts.

1. The 12 Rep Rule

Cover of "The Truth"
Cover of The Truth
Most weight training programs include this many repetitions for gaining muscle. The truth is this approach doesn't give the muscles enough tension for effective muscle gain. High tension (e.g. heavy weights) provides muscle growth in which the muscle grows much larger, leading to the maximum gains in strength. Having  longer tension time boosts the muscle size by generating the structures around the muscle fibers, improving endurance.

The standard prescription of eight to 12 repetitions with medium weights provides a balance, but by just using that program all of the time, you do not generate the greater tension levels that are provided by heavier weights and lesser reps. Change the number of reps and adjust the weights to stimulate all types of muscle growth - you want some lower weights and more repetitions, and some with higher weight and fewer reps.

2. The Three Set Rule

The truth is there's nothing wrong with three sets but then again there is nothing amazing about it either. The number of sets you perform should be based on your goals and not on a half-century old rule. The more repetitions you do on an exercise, the fewer sets you should do, and vice versa. This keeps the total number of repetitions of a given exercise equal.

3. Three to four exercises per group

The truth is this is a waste of time. Combined with twelve reps of three sets, the total number of reps amount to 144. If your doing this many reps for a muscle group, you're not using heavy enough weights to make much of a difference for most of your muscles. Instead of doing so many varieties of exercises, try doing 30 to 50 reps total. That can be anywhere from 2 sets of  15 reps or 5 sets of 10 reps.

English: an exercise of thigh
Upright squat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
4. My knees, my toes
It is a gym folklore that you “should not let your knees go past your toes." Truth is that leaning forward a little too much is more likely a cause of injury. In 2003, Memphis University researchers confirmed that knee stress was almost thirty percent higher when the knees are allowed to move beyond the toes during a squat.

But hip stress increased nearly 10 times or (1000 percent) when the forward movement of the knee was restricted, because the squatters needed to lean their body forward and that forces the strain to transfer to the lower back.

Focus on your upper body position and less on the knee. Keep the torso in an upright position as much as possible when doing squats and lunges. This  reduces the stress generated on the hips and back. To stay upright, before squatting, squeeze the shoulder blades together and hold them in that position; and then as you squat, keep the forearms 90 degrees to the floor.

5. Use your abs to lift weights

The truth is the muscles work in groups to stabilize the spine, and the most important muscle group changes depending on the type of exercise. The transverse abdominis is not always the most important muscle group. Actually, for most exercises, the body automatically activates the muscle group that is needed most for support of the spine. So if you focus only on the transverse abdominis, it can recruit wrong muscles and limit the right muscles. This increases the chance of injury, and reduces the weight that can be lifted. Listen to your body - it knows best! If you have an ingrained habit of intentionally tensing your stomach muscles when lifting, try relaxing your body, then lift a lighter weight, and see where your muscles naturally flex to complete the movement. Once you know which muscle group is engaged for each various exercise, you'll strengthen the correct muscles for each movement, and get a more complete workout.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Video - Ab-Trimming Yoga Workout

This 10-minute yoga workout features poses and exercises focused on strengthening and tightening your core muscles to trim that waist and strengthen your midsection. The awesome thing about yoga is that it actually works your entire body, even while focusing on certain areas, so your whole body can get stronger and leaner even just in a short workout. Do this a couple of times a week to build a strong core and back, improve your posture, and flatten your abs. Some of these exercises are fairly challenging, so be sure to use the modifications where suggested if you need to, and be careful of your lower back if you have had problems in that area. Once you get your core stronger, you'll be able to do the full versions of the exercises.

Yoga Abs Workout
This ab workout is designed to strengthen and shrink your midsection using core-focused yoga moves to define trimmer, tighter abs.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yoga for Women: How to Gain a Shapely Waist through Yoga

The size of the waist is an indication of overall fitness for many people. Most health experts agree that a smaller waist is healthier than a big one. The reasoning behind this is that increases in fat around the waist and abdominal region usually result in increased health risks such as diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure.
In evolutionary and biological terms, a small waist signifies youth and vitality. But doing endless workouts of crunches alone will not allow you to achieve that Venus-like waist of your dreams. You will need to supplement specific waist-orientated exercises with ones from various disciplines.

Muscles of the trunk
Muscles of the trunk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Specifically you will need to work the inner girdle of muscles - commonly known as the core muscles - with slow abdominal exercises that work very deep into these muscle groups - and also incorporate some cardiovascular exercises that help your body shed fat.

While usually associated with building flexibility, some specific exercises from yoga-based workouts also target the underlying core muscles around the waist - and many can help with weight loss as well.

So, how can yoga help reshape your waist? In simple terms, by requiring you to move - and hold - your torso muscles as a unit. Rather than isolating your abdominal muscles as you do in crunches, yoga poses help to lengthen your overall torso, creating a feeling that is both centered and strong.

Think of your torso as a long vessel through which numerous muscles interact to keep you looking lean. Your transversus abdominis, the deepest abdominal muscle, works with the others to hold in your lower belly. Your erector spinae, the muscles that attach on your spine, straighten your posture and can make you feel (and appear) taller, while your rectus abdominis and obliques are the strong and flexible muscles that allow your limbs to move freely.

In holding most yoga poses, you are strengthening all of these muscles at once, without even thinking about it. This is one of the reasons I love yoga so much - it's a full-body workout, so that your whole body gets stronger as a unit, avoiding the imbalances that can often be caused by working muscles in isolation.

Here are a couple of great exercises for the abdominal and waist area to get you started:

Warrior III Pose / Airplane on blocks #yoga #b...
Warrior III Pose / Airplane on blocks (Photo credit: TonyFelgueiras)

Start in the Mountain Pose with the heels slightly apart, big toes touching, legs straight, chest lifted, pelvis in a neutral position. Placing hands on hips, step back with your right foot so just your right toes touch the floor, keeping all of your body weight on your left foot.

Keep your right leg extended in a straight line as you start to lean forward from your hips. Balance the length of your body over your left leg until your torso is parallel to the floor. Keep your weight evenly distributed through inner and outer heel, with hips level. Begin with 5 breath cycles and progress to 15. As you get stronger, progress into the full pose by extending your arms up past your ears, so you are one long line from toes to fingertips.

Lift your torso up and return to the Mountain Pose; repeat on the other side.


Plank! (Photo credit: lululemon athletica)
Begin on your hands and knees, hands directly under shoulders, knees under hips. Move feet back until the legs are straight and you're balancing on your toes, feet together. Keep the shoulders pulled back and down, arms straight. This is the Plank Pose.

Squeezing the ankles together, roll onto the outer edge of the left foot, keeping feet stacked, legs straight. Lift the right hand toward ceiling then look up at it. Let your abs support your body without bending or crunching. Then lower right hand to floor, rolling down toward the right, and return to the Plank Pose. Repeat on other side. Hold each pose for 5 breath cycles.

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Video: Strength Training Workout for Runners

Sorry for the delayed post - our video poster is not working for some reason - trying to get that fixed.... In the meantime, here is a short and effective workout for runners on your off days. Running may be great as a cardio exercise, but in general it does little for strength or flexibility - both of which are essential for a healthy and pain-free body. Be sure to focus on these aspects on your days when you don't run. This short video demonstrates some great exercises that work to strengthen your whole body, creating a fast and efficient workout that gets great results in a short amount of time.

For more fun tips on what to do on your off days, check out this video as well:

Or visit for some fun workout ideas.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Runner's Exercises for Your Off Days

Many runners like to run as often as possible, and some might even run every single day if they could. But most know that they need to take at least one or two days off from running each week to keep themselves fresh and injury free. So what’s the best way to work out, or even simply be active, during those “off days” from running?

Muscles of the gluteal and posterior femoral r...
Muscles of the gluteal and posterior femoral regions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One popular approach is to find an activity or workout which uses muscles that aren’t the primary running muscles. This concept is often referred to as “cross-training.” For example, some runners will head to the pool and swim laps on their off days, which gives them an upper body and aerobic workout, while allowing their leg muscles to rest somewhat. Even some activities that rely heavily on the leg muscles, such as bicycling, can be considered cross-training for runners because they involve a different motion and use different muscles within the leg than running does.

Another approach is to forego the aerobic activities altogether on the off days and focus on strength and flexibility. Because of the repetitive nature of running, many runners suffer from muscle imbalances that can lead to an increased risk of injury. By dedicating time to exercises that strengthen core muscles, for example, runners can maintain better posture as they get tired later in their runs, which will keep them faster and help them avoid injury.

Many runners also suffer from chronic tightness in their leg muscles. Over time, muscle tightness can lead to poor form and increased injuries. Stretching exercises can help to open up muscle tissues and allow the body to keep its optimal position when it comes time to run.

Pilates is one great way to combine the beneficial effects of stretching and strengthening in a single routine. Pilates can either be done at home as a floor-based exercise (there are numerous instructional DVDs that you can use to learn various Pilates workouts), or you can take Pilates classes at a gym and use a specialized piece of Pilates equipment called a “reformer.” Yoga also makes a great off-day workout for runners.

Curso de Instructor de Pilates
Pilates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Much of what you do during your off day should depend on what you did yesterday and what you’re planning to do tomorrow. For example, if you normally take a day off after your “long run” (whatever length run that may be), then you should ensure that the non-running exercises you do give your body sufficient opportunity to heal from the running workout the day before. By the same token, if you normally take a day off before you do your long run, then don’t do any cross-training or other exercises that would make it too difficult to complete your long run workout on the next day.

Finding the appropriate exercise for your off days will involve a bit of experimentation. You can look to other runners for ideas on what exercises make sense, but ultimately you’ll need to try them out to see how they actually work for you.

Check back here tomorrow for a fun off-day workout.

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