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 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 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 @

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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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