Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Importance of Stretching for Flexibility

When people consider their diet and exercise regimen and how they can improve it, they very rarely consider the benefits of simple stretching. Stretching can help you increase your balance, strength, and flexibility - all of which are important for maintaining fitness and avoiding injury. Stretching for flexibility is beneficial in all aspects of your active life.

Why You Shouldn't Overlook Stretching
Stretching has so many benefits. At all levels, there are stretches that can be done to help increase your flexibility and strength, and even your balance. This can help you avoid injuries, feel limber, and give you more range of motion and energy.

How Stretching and Flexibility Helps Your Workouts
Stretching your muscles is a great way to prepare them for workouts of any kind, and is also a great way to cool down from a workout. Stretching before and after workouts helps work out lactic acid, prevents injury, and helps you feel less sore. Not to mention that the added flexibility will help you get the most out of your workouts. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.

Great Stretches for Flexibility

(Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
* Behind the Head Elbow Stretch - In either a sitting or standing position, simply reach one arm behind your head. Using the opposite arm, grab your elbow and press to increase the stretch. Hold the stretch and repeat on the opposite side.

* Lunge Stretches - Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips. Step out wide with one foot, and then bend that knee, bringing the back leg down against the ground. Get as close to the ground as you can, trying to touch your shin to the ground. Hold this pose and then repeat on the opposite leg.

* Seated Twists - Sit on the ground with your feet out in front of you and then twist your torso to one side. Then bring your arms around to help pull your torso into a good twist. Hold this pose and then repeat on the opposite side. You can also do a second variation of this stretch with your legs folded “criss-cross”.

* Folding Stretch - Stand up straight with your feet just slightly apart. Keeping your posture straight, bend at the waist and try to hug your knees. If you are not quite at that level, just try to touch your toes or use blocks or the bottom stair to stretch as far as possible. Don't force it - just hold the pose and let your body stretch naturally.

* Butterflies - Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Bring your legs in and touch the bottoms of your feet together, knees bent outward. Keeping your knees as flat on the ground as possible, grab your feet and try to bring them closer to your body. Without straining yourself, bounce your knees up and down a bit.

* Yoga Poses - There are a huge amount of yoga poses that are aimed specifically at increasing your flexibility. Two of these poses are called “baby cobra” and “downward facing dog”.

* Baby Cobra - Lie face down on the ground with your arms near your head, palms on the ground. Use your hands to push the top portion of your body off the ground, curving your spine backwards and looking up to the sky.

* Downward Facing Dog - Start in push-up position, and then push your hips up, folding your body in half so your bottom is up in the air and your head and arms are down. Your heels should be flat on the ground, stretching your entire body. If you can't get your heels flat on the ground with your knees straight, straighten your knees and let your heels lift up. Gradually work on getting your heels closer to the ground.

Stretching for flexibility will help you will all facets of your healthy lifestyle and exercise regimen. These stretches alone will be beneficial for your whole body and daily life, and when paired with your exercise routine will make a huge difference in your overall fitness and health.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

[Video] 10 Minute Bodyweight Upper Body Workout

If you think you need to either spend hours at the gym, or buy expensive weights or a whole bunch of equipment to build strong muscles, think again! In fact, strength training can easily be done at home without any equipment at all. This workout is a great example.

Many women struggle with upper body strength, but it's important for a fit, healthy body, and for avoiding injury. Don't worry that you are going to end up looking like a bodybuilder - it's simply not true! And you don't need to spend hours working out to achieve a fit, strong, healthy body.

Try this quick 10-minute upper body workout and see how easy it can be to get fit at home, with no equipment required!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How to Build Muscle Without Bulking Up

Most people correlate building more muscle with getting bigger or “bulky”, but the two are different. What many women desire is achieving a more toned look – one where muscles are defined, but not significantly larger. In many cases, this just involves reducing body fat to let the muscles show through. In other cases, it may involve strengthening the muscles for a more defined look.

Building Muscle

(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
Building muscle comes from lifting weights, something many women shy away from thinking they will bulk up. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you lift weights, tiny micro-tears occur in the muscle. When these tears are repaired by the body the muscle becomes a little bit stronger and larger. But in women the muscle will not get too large due to the reduced amount of testosterone in their system. That difference is why men bulk up and women do not.

Another misconception many people have is that lifting heavy weights builds larger muscles. Generally speaking, the amount of weight you lift does not define how large a muscle will get. The point is to get the benefit from lifting, you have to bring the muscle to “failure” – the point where you cannot lift the weight one more repetition. Lifting heavier weights just gets you to failure faster.

Reducing Body Fat

If you want to show off your newly defined muscles, you will also want to get rid of much of the fat covering the muscles you are trying to build. You could have great muscle definition, but if you have a layer of fat covering them, who is going to see them?

So while weight lifting or strength training at least two days per week should be part of your exercise plan, the other three days should be cardio training – some form of cardio activity to burn more calories than you take in.

Running, swimming, jogging, bicycling, tennis, racquetball, along with many other sports, all qualify. Keep in mind that you have to burn 3,500 more calories than you eat in a week to lose one pound of weight.

Healthy Eating

Finally the last part of the equation is eating healthy. It is harder to burn more calories than you eat if the majority of food you are eating is fast and processed food. Concentrate on eating:

•    Lean meat
•    Fruits and vegetables
•    Whole grain (sparingly)
•    Good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, or animal fats from grass-fed animals (corn fed animals contain more unhealthy fats)

By eating right and doing a mix of both cardio and strength training, you can build muscle without bulking up and get the muscle definition that you have always wanted.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

[Video] Fun, No-Boredom Fat-Burning Cardio Workout

If you get bored easily during a workout, we've got a cure for you today!  This full workout takes less than 30 minutes, and includes tons of different fun, fat-burning cardio exercises. Each exercise is done for 1 minute, with a 15 second rest in between.

The workout includes a warm up and cool down, so this is all you need to do for a great workout. No equipment necessary, so you can do it at home or just about anywhere. Low impact versions of each exercise are provided if you need them.

Regardless of your fitness level or workout experience, you should be able to do this one, and it will help get your heart pumping, your muscles warm, and your metabolism burning those calories!

Let's jump right in, and before you know it, your workout will be done!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2 Simple Ways to Really Lose Belly Fat

Let’s be honest, losing belly fat (also known as visceral fat) is hard to do, but not impossible. But if it’s so difficult, why would anyone even try to get rid of it? Why not just give up and live with it?

Because having an excess amount of visceral fat - the type of fat found deep in the abdominal cavity - is unhealthy and can lead to a whole host of diseases - many of which can be life-threatening. If you are a women with a waist measurement in excess of 35 inches, or 40 inches for men, you have an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, bone density loss, insulin resistance (leading to Type 2 diabetes) and even some types of cancer!

So how can you get rid of this stubborn and dangerous form of fat?

How to Lose Belly Fat

There are two basic tips that can help you get it done.

1. Exercise (Of a Certain Kind)

(Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
There are many products and methods that tout themselves as being the Holy Grail when it comes to losing belly fat, but the fact of the matter is most of them don't work. Instead put that money into a gym membership. The only real way to lose belly fat is to burn more calories than you eat! Period.

Fortunately when you start to lose fat, belly fat is one of the first to go. But to set the record straight, there isn’t a program that specifically targets belly fat - the body just doesn’t work that way.

For best results, do short but high intensity cardio-style workouts four times per week. Add in a couple days of strength training per week (with one day off) and you have half of a recipe for losing belly fat and body fat in general.

The other half is....

Healthy Food Choices

You can only burn off so many calories per week working out. If you make bad food choices, both in the type and amount of food you eat, you will not create a calorie deficit and lose belly fat.

One tactic in portion control is eating on a smaller plate. This works by tricking the brain into thinking you ate more than you really did. So when it sees your plate empty, it thinks you are full.

(Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
The food you eat should be healthy. Focus on eating foods low in calories, but high in protein and fiber, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. These foods keep you fuller longer without adding in a ton of calories.

Also, whatever you do, avoid sugar! At first it gives you a lot of energy, but your body quickly metabolizes it by dumping insulin (usually too much) in your bloodstream. Once the sugar is gone, you “crash” from low blood sugar. So what do you do? Eat more sugar. This yo-yo effect eventually causes insulin resistance leading to Type 2 diabetes - and that spare tire around your waist...

So as unglamorous as it may sound, it really comes down to a combination of exercise and healthy food choices as the way to belly fat loss. Eating healthy food prevents you from consuming empty calories that have no nutritional value and exercising burns off calories.

If you burn off more calories than you take in, you’ll lose belly fat. It really is that simple, but not necessarily easy. 

We try to make it easier by providing short, effective workouts here every week, so be sure to check back Thursday for a great belly fat-blasting cardio workout to add to your workout regimen!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

[Video] 8-Minute Full Body Workout For Toning & Fat Loss

This workout will quickly tone your entire body and help you burn fat and lose weight fast - in less than 8 minutes.

According to some research, high-intensity interval workouts of as little as 7 minutes are effective in helping you burn fat and calories, increase muscle strength, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

This workout follows the interval training format, with 30 seconds of each exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Modifications for each exercise are shown if needed. Be sure to pay attention to the instructions for proper form given with each exercise to maximize your results and minimize risk of injury.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

6 Simple Exercises to Help You Lose Weight Faster

It is a well-known fact that we can lose weight faster when we work out regularly, and there are some workouts that can make the process even faster. While some people chase “super fast” weight loss pipe dreams with fad diets, others choose the smart and effective path of a healthy diet and regular exercise to lose the weight and keep it off.

While there are days in which you feel excited about heading to the gym and engaging in challenging workouts with your friends, other times may not want to do so, and you’d rather be by yourself and work out in your own living room.

The good news is that you can lose weight fast by working out at home. So, whenever you don’t feel like going to the gym, the following home workouts will help you build your muscles and lose weight in the privacy of your own home.

Six 3-Minute Fat Burning Exercises

The following exercises are very effective in building your muscles and helping you lose weight, especially if you have a busy schedule. If you practice these exercises daily, you will lose weight and get your body in shape fast.

You will need a comfortable mat, a towel, and a skipping rope. Don’t forget to hydrate yourself before and after your workout. Let’s get started.

Upside-Down Pipe Exercise (Downward Dog) – 30 Seconds

This exercise lasts for 30 seconds. It is extremely effective in shaping your abs.

1.  Place your hands on the mat and balance on your hands and your toes in plank position.
2.    Stretch your legs next to your body. Next, pull the legs away from your hands, stretching them backward, and pressing your behind towards the ceiling into an upside-down "V" shape.
3.   Hold this exercise for 30 seconds. It will strengthen your abs, arms, and back.

Leg-Lift Exercise – 30 seconds

This exercise focuses mainly on shaping your legs, tights, and abs.

1.    Lie down on your back on the mat and squeeze your legs together.
2.    Next, lift left your legs to 90 degrees, keeping them squeezed tightly together, until your body forms an "L" shape.
3.    As you bring your legs back to the initial position, stretch them away from you, keeping your abs down and tight.
4.    Repeat this exercise for 30 seconds.

Squats Exercise – 30 seconds
Squats are always included in cardio exercises because they aim not only at toning your thighs but also at shaping your entire figure.

1.    For this exercise, keep your legs apart and bend your knees deeply as you squat back into your heels. Be sure to keep your knees from going forward over your toes to prevent knee injury.

2.  For an added challenge, try jumping as you go back to the initial standing position.

This exercise will also improve your cardiovascular health, and tone your legs.

Mat Abs Exercise – 30 seconds

This exercise is great for shaping your abs and thighs.

1.    For this mat exercise, you need to lie down on your stomach on the mat.
2.    Next, raise your hands, chest, and legs off the mat while trying to maintain your balance on your torso and keep from wobbling.
3.    Repeat the exercise for 30 seconds.

Bicycle Knee Exercise – 30 seconds

The greatest thing about this exercise is that it shapes your entire body, while focusing especially on reducing your arm and abdominal fat.

1.    Lie down on the ground and raise yourself onto your hands and knees. This is the initial starting position.
2.   Lift your left knee and pull it up so it touches your left elbow.
3.   Do the same with the right knee and right elbow. Alternate for 30 seconds. 

Rope-Skipping Exercise – 30 seconds
This exercise is accessible to everybody and is more effective than you might think while at the same time being fun.

Skipping exercises are the perfect solution for shaping your legs, working your abs, improving balance and coordination, and getting a highly effective cardio fat burning workout.

Skip in place as long as your fitness level will allow. Start slow so you can learn to coordinate your skips with the jump rope. Keep your body straight and abs tight during the exercise.

As you get more fit keep adding more time to each jump rope session and increase your speed. 

Do one set of each of these for a quick 3-minute energy boost, or 3 sets for a quick but effective workout in less than 10 minutes!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

[Video] 4-Minute Fat-Burning Tabata Workout

Think you can't burn fat in 4 minutes? Think again!  With intense, challenging, Tabata training, you can train your body to burn fat all day - even after your (4-minute) workout is done.

In case you're not familiar with Tabata, it is an extra-intense form of high-intensity interval training in which each exercise is always done for 20 seconds at maximum intensity, with 10 seconds of rest in between each interval of exertion.

As with other forms of high-intensity interval training, it can include a wide variety of exercises, including burpees, push ups, jumping jacks, lunges, squats, and more. It may or may not include weights of some kind, but is often done like the one below, as a pure bodyweight workout.

You need absolutely no equipment for this workout, and it can be done anywhere, so let's get our workout done in 4 minutes!

Get More Great Tabata Workouts:


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tabata Training for Fat Burning

Tired of being overweight? Sick of not being able to wear the clothes you want to wear?  Ready to change? One good way to burn fat and build lean muscle is by using the 4 minute Tabata Workout.

The Tabata Game Plan:

You’re going to do twenty seconds—yes, I said twenty seconds—of really, really, really intense aerobic exercise. Then you’re going to stop and do nothing at all for all of ten seconds.

Then you’re going to do your exercising again, and keep it ramped up to the ultimate level—for all of twenty seconds. Then you get ten seconds to get back to feeling like a human again. And then you’ll be doing that maximum intensity stuff again, for twenty more seconds, and when the timer gets off, you catch your breath—for exactly ten.

Keep on with this rhythm, until you’ve done 8 rounds of twenty-second bursts of fat torching radically intense exercise.

Creating The Anaerobic State

In the past, fitness experts have advocated the “fat burning zone,” which, basically equates to 1 hour of steady cardio, such as on a treadmill or exercise bike.

This slow methodical cardio process had become old news since science has shown that intense work intervals followed by short rest periods is what facilitates what is known as the anaerobic state, and this exact state is what allows for the most fat burning.

Anaerobic literally means “without oxygen,” where you will be gasping for breath, and often feel like you are unable to catch your breath. This is the ideal zone for fat burning, increasing endurance and stamina and strength training for the muscles. In the Anaerobic state the body begins to use fat for energy instead of carbs, which are typically what is used in long, steady-state endurance exercise.

HIIT is one of the most well-known and widely used protocols to create this anaerobic state, though, Kettlebell training does it as well. But, Tabata really takes it up a few notches and includes some of the most gut wrenching, breath catching moves with the shortest workout time that results in maximum fat loss, extreme metabolism boost and consequent calorie burning for hours after the workout is over.

EPOC And Metabolism

The practice of alternating short recovery periods with maximum effort allows the body to push itself beyond its perceived threshold, and that initiates a chemical response and neuro-endocrine reaction.

Elevating the metabolic rate is the key to burning body fat! Contrary to what so many people focus on, the goal is not so much the calories or fat burned during the workout, but, what is burned continuously after the workout.

And the only way to use fat as energy during the workout is with intense intervals that raise the resting metabolic rate. During very intense bursts the heart rate soars and as you struggle and gasp for air you will naturally react by taking in more oxygen in the rest periods and this extra oxygen is what will raise the metabolic rate. This process is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Tabata is the fastest and shortest workout option to create EPOC, and the anaerobic state, which, is so effective at torching body fat.

Choosing The Right Moves For Tabata

What exercise you choose to do will depend on your personal physical state and what you’re comfortable with. The type of exercise you do for a Tabata session has to be one that you are very familiar with, and very good at.

Still, if you’re not good at any exercise, don’t worry. You can teach yourself anything. What you’ll have to do is to do some mock-up Tabata sessions at a more normal level, just to get yourself used to the way it works.

Form is very important in body weight exercises, and if you start by trying to go fast, or aim for too much intensity outside of your fitness level, you’ll lose out in form and the exercise will be of little value - and you may even injure yourself.


One good exercise to use with the Tabata protocol is burpees—they’ll give you a full-body workout with no extra equipment.

1.    You start out standing straight and tall, hands stretched over your head.

2.    Then get down into a squat, hands down on the floor, and from there go into a plank. 

3.    Go down all the way, like the lower side of a push up; push yourself up, then jump back up to the squatting position and back up to standing. 

4.    Then one quick jump up, and you’re ready to begin again.

Here's what it looks like: 
If you haven’t done burpees before, or it’s been a long time since you’ve done them, start by just doing four or five of them slowly, keeping good form. Tomorrow do ten, and the day after that, fifteen.

When you feel comfortable with the rhythm of this exercise and can do it pretty fluently you’re ready to incorporate it in an all-fire intense Tabata workout.

There are many other moves that can be done, some of which are simpler, and some are more completed. Even jumping jacks and sit ups can work in Tabata when they are executed in fast and continuous reps for the full 20 seconds.


You’ll need a stopwatch or some way of measuring seconds. A free Tabata app on your smartphone—there are several to choose from—is an easy way of getting it done.

When the counter starts, start doing burpees as if your life depended upon it, as if there was an atomic bomb about to go off and blow you and your loved ones to bits if you did any less than the maximum number.

When twenty seconds are up, stop. Wait ten seconds, and then go at your fastest, most intense pace again for twenty more seconds.

When you’ve done eight twenty-second sessions you’ll have completed your fat-torching Tabata workout routine - and you'll continue burning fat all day!