19Aug
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5 great abdominal workouts you can do at home

Everyone would love great abs – six pack maybe? Standard crunches are great for working out your abdominals, but they’re boring right? We over five great abdominal workouts you can do at home on your way to a rock hard six-pack.

Even if you’re not wanting a six-pack, working the core or abdominals is a great way to increase strength, balance and steadiness.

 

Plank

Yep, everyone hates the Plank, sometimes called the prone or prone brace, but it’s one of the better exercises for a toned, strong core as it’s working your entire core at once.

For those not familiar with the Plank, find a spot on the carpet or another soft surface and lie down facing the floor. Raise yourself onto your toes and elbows and keep your back straight. You’ll now be in a ‘plank’ position.

Hold this position for as long as you can, and repeat 3 or 4 times.

To up the difficulty on this one, there are a few extra things you can do;

  • Starting with your left arm take it from holding you up and extend it to your left touching the ground, then extend your arm in front of you, touching the ground again and finally bring it back to the starting point using it to hold you up again. Now do this with the right arm. Rinse and repeat.
  • Similar to the arm movement above, this time with the legs. Lift your left leg up off the ground and bring your knee forward towards your left elbow (like a crawling action, while keeping the leg off the ground). Return to the plank position, and repeat with the right leg.

 

Abdominal Hold

You’ll need a sturdy chair for this one; a dining chair should do the trick.

Sit on the edge of the chair in an upright, tall position. Place your hands on the front edge of the chair.

Using your hands, push yourself slowly up until your bum lifts off the chair. Hold for as long as you can. 10-15 seconds if possible. Lower yourself down and rinse and repeat for a few sets.

 

Bicycle Crunch

Find yourself a soft spot on the carpet (if you’ve got a yoga mat or similar, use that to lie on). Lie down on your back like the position you’d use for regular crunches. Put your hands behind your head, raise your legs so they’re bent at 90 degrees. Extend one leg out (the other leg should stay close) and alternate, like riding a bike. While your legs are alternating, bring your opposite elbow to meet the closest knee (e.g. if your right leg is in the 90 degree position, you’ll want to be trying to touch it with your left elbow).

Do this for 30-60 seconds. Focus on a slower more concentrated movement, rather than a fast movement. This one is all about control and getting the movement right.

 

Reverse Crunch

Reverse crunches are a great way to mix it up. Start by lying down on the floor on your back with palms facing down.

Bring your legs up to a 90 degree position. Slowly lower your legs until your feet nearly touch the ground then raise your hips up in a crunch like motion. Lower your legs again until they’re nearly at the floor and bring them up again. Rinse and repeats for 15 reps and up to 3 sets.

The key to this exercise is not being your knees all the way to your chin – that won’t get you anywhere except the emergency room. Ideally, when you bring up your hips, your knees should stop somewhere around your chest or nipple line. Like any crunch, focus on the crunch and working the abdominal, core area.

 

Arm & Leg Raise

Start by getting on all fours (knees and hands). Your knees should be under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Raise your right arm to shoulder height and left leg to hip height. Your right arm and left leg should now be level straight with your back. Hold for 2-3 seconds and return your leg and arm to the starting position. Repeat the motion with the opposite hand and leg.

Continue to do this exercise for 15-30 repetitions.

15Jul
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FitBit: New Fitness Tech

FitBit FlexFitBit is the newest device doing the health rounds helps people track their exercise and associated activities, helping you live a healthier lifestyle, but are they really worth it?

FitBit’s aren’t cheap, but then again neither are their competitors such as the Garmin, or Polar devices that do the same things. The great thing about the FitBit’s is they deliver the whole package; in addition to the device, they offer online and mobile tools which help you track everything.

There are a few different FitBit models, so which FitBit is the best? Not all FitBit’s offer the same features, so its best to consider which one is right for you.

FitBit Flex

Considered to be premium model in the FitBit range, the Flex is fully featured; It counts Steps, distance, calories burned, Floors climbed, Sleep (hours, # times woken, sleep efficiency) and has other handy features like Goal setting, Silent Wake Alarm (vibrates on your wrist) and is able to sync wirelessly to Macs and PCs. It can also sync to selected Bluetooth devices. Most importantly, it’s sweat, rain and splash-proof.

FitBit One

The FitBit One has all of the features of the Flex, with the exception of the Goal Setting dunction and ita full featured set but lacks the

It has an OLED display, which some might prefer over the Flex’s LED display. The display on the Flex is just an indicator display, where the One can show the count of steps, calories etc. on its display. The One is also capable of showing the time, which is a feature the Flex lacks.

FitBit Zip

The Zip is considered the budget model in the FitBit line-up; it’s considerably cheaper and has less features. Its functions include counting Steps, Distance and Calories burned. It’s doesn’t allow for goal setting or count Sleep statistics; however it does sync to a computer or Bluetooth device.

 

All of the FitBit devices are rechargeable, so its handy to charge them before you head out for that run so it doesn’t stop recording on you.

A nifty feature of the FitBit range are the free online and mobile tools, which let you set goals, track trends, log your food intake and generally help you improve your fitness and weight.

As part of the FitBit package, you receive a FitBit Tracker (the actual device), large and small wristbands, Wireless Sync dongle, Charging cable, membership to fitbit.com and access to free mobile apps for iPhone and Android.

If you like to make sure you’re colour coordinated while out pounding the pavement or sweating it out in the gym, the Flex comes in eight colours including; Black, Slate, Tangerine, Teal, Navy, Violet, Lime, Pink. The Zip comes in Blue, Magenta, White, Charcoal and Lime. The One is bit limited on colours with only Black and Burgundy available.

Fitbit’s are available at most national retailers in-store, or online at FitBit’s website.

What is CrossFit?

João Victor Ribeiro by Felipe Pilotto CrossFit RJ 1046

João Victor Ribeiro by Felipe Pilotto CrossFit RJ 1046

 

CrossFit, dubbed as an elite fitness regime, has emerged as the new favourite strength and conditioning program for those seeking ‘elite’ like training routines. In 2014, there were approximately 9,000 gyms around the world that practice the CrossFit regime.

Despite the use of the word ‘elite’, according to CrossFit, their training ‘is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience’.

CrossFit’s primary aim is to improve cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. Said to be used by elite forces, marines and police forces.

CrossFit workouts incorporate a range of exercises from;

  • high-intensity interval training,
  • Olympic weightlifting,
  • plyometrics,
  • powerlifting,
  • gymnastics,
  • girevoy sport,
  • calisthenics, and
  • strongman exercises.

CrossFit uses many of the exercises you would be used to in a circuit class at a gym, including Kettlebells, Jump Ropes, Burpees, Sqauts, Lunges, Sit Ups, Push-ups, Pull-Ups and more. These exercises are done at a high intensity, high repetition across different time periods.

Every CrossFit session is taken by a qualified trainer, so you’ve always got someone to guide, motiviate and walk you through your sessions, but more importantly ensuring you do each exercise correctly to get the most out of it and reduce the risk of injury. Qualified trainers also assist with nutritional guidance, which is a large part of any exercise regime, not just CrossFit.

The methods used in CrossFit are designed around increase fitness and functional movement that are used every day, not just in exercise. Workouts are all recorded just like your session with a Personal Trainer, so you can increase the intensity and further challenge yourself if you wish.

Can I do CrossFit?

According to CrossFit, anyone can do it. Despite the high-intensity routines, the CrossFit approach challenges you at your current fitness level.

Will it be difficult?

Yes, for most people there will be exercises that are challenging. After all, isn’t that why we go to the gym? To challenge ourselves?

What’s the difference between Personal Training and CrossFit?

Here’s just a quick checklist of the difference between Personal Training and CrossFit;

Personal Training

  • Performed in one-on-one environments, typically at gyms or studios
  • Focused on helping you achieve your fitness goals, whether they be weight loss, muscle gain, cardio endurance among others.
  • Generally focused around exercising particular body parts during each set.
  • Typical equipment used would be those found in a regular gym.

CrossFit

  • Generally performed in groups, typically at CrossFit designated gyms.
  • Aims to improve conditioning and endurance, however weight loss, muscle gain are undeniably by-products of the CrossFit exercises.
  • CrossFit with its varied workouts can scale to workout multiple muscle groups at once (including ones you never knew you had!)
  • Equipment varies from run-of-the-mill gym equipment, right through to gymnastic rings, plyo boxes, climbing ropes and more.

 

For all of CrossFit’s perceived benefits, there has been some criticism of the program, including promoting a unhealthy and potentially dangerous atmosphere of encouraging people to training well above their limits, resulting in injury or the potential or long-term damage. For highly competitive people, it’s worth knowing when to stop!

 

Still interested in CrossFit? Get down to your local CrossFit centre and talk to some of the people down there and perhaps watch a session or two to see if it’s for you!

Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells

Kettlebells have taken the fitness world by storm over the last few years, with most Gym’s making them available and even classes dedicated to the use of Kettlebells. So what’s so great about them? Should you switch to using a Kettlebell in your work outs?

Kettlebell

Read ahead and find out more.

Like Dumbells, Kettlebells offer varying results depending on how you use them.

Kettlebells are great when combined with cardio exercise as they offer the ability for extra range of motion by being able to swing them and can, depending on the exercises work a wider variety of muscle groups than other free weight exercises.

Word of caution; find a Kettlebell weight that’s suitable for swinging, otherwise you might end up hurting yourself, someone else or breaking something!

 

Some advantages of Kettlebells

  • Kettlebells sit better in the hand when performing exercises that ‘swing’, ‘snatch’ or ‘lift’ the weight.
  • Kettlebells Allow for a better cardio workout allowing for the ability to swing the kettlebell.

Some advantages of Dumbells

  • Sit better in the hand when performing more traditional exercises, particularly those that ‘press’ and ‘push’.
  • Better for strength exercises due to the ability to load and balance weight.

 

The thing to keep in mind here is that both Kettlebells and Dumbells are great. Neither of them are better than each other as they are different. Different in the way they are used, the muscle groups exercised and the results to be had.

There are certainly some free weight exercises that favour the use of Kettlebells and vice-versa. A few that came to mind we’re;

(Disclaimer: You should consult your trainer or a fitness expert before performing these exercises)

Kettlebell High Pull

Works out: Legs, Arms, Glutes, Shoulders

Placing the Kettlebell on the ground in between your legs, stand shoulder width apart and squat down to grab the Kettlebell. Push through your heels using the force of your hips to stand up, while driving your elbow up past your ear until your arm ends up in a ‘chicken-wing’ like position. Lower the Kettlebell back down to the ground. Repeat 10-15 times for each arm.

Kettlebell Back Row

Works out: Back

Find a bench, place your left knee and right hand on it and make sure your back is flat. Your hand should be directly under your shoulder, while your leg directly under your bum. Position your right leg out wide to balance. Pick up Kettlebell with right hand and pull up slowly keeping your right arm close to your body, then slowly lower the Kettlebell. Repeat 10-15 times, swap over to the other side.

Speak to your trainer about more Kettlebell exercises you can incorporate into your routine.

 

So would we recommend dumping the dumbells and moving to the Kettlebell revolution?

No. If anything, we’d recommend finding the right tool for the exercise and the result you’re looking for. In some exercises, a Kettlebell is interchangeable with a dumbbell, but it may provide a different end result due to the way it’s held in the hand and you would operate a Kettlebell.  As mentioned above, for the most part they have their own exercises that provide their own results and the use of Kettlebells should be considered with that in mind.

When in doubt, speak to the team and your fitness centre or personal trainer about what type of exercises you can substitute Kettlebells in for and what the difference in result might be.

23Jun
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24-Hour Gyms: The Low Down

24-hour gyms24-Hour Gyms are all the rage at the moment, with gym owners realising that flexibility is another big competitive tick on their side when it comes to attracting new customers.

What you need to know about 24-Hour Gyms;

  • Fees;
    • There’s usually a low weekly for fortnightly rate, which is direct debited from either your credit card or bank account.
    • There’s usually a ‘joining fee’, which vary depending on the gym
    • There may be a fee for the proximity / ID card which allows you access to the facility.
  • Facilities
    • 24-Hour Gyms are generally only staffed during peak periods (morning, evening, some afternoons), while Personal Training services tends to be more flexible with times.
    • Most facilities are generous with equipment, with some only offering the standard equipment, while others offer full Personal Training and Class/Group based fitness. It’s always best to ask what the complete range of services is as some Gyms may offer better value for money.
    • Most Gyms are in locations that are in easy to get to and convenient locations. If you intend on working out after hours when the Gym staff aren’t present, it’s always best to ensure your safety is first and park in lit areas, or train with a friend if at all possible, despite how well you know the area.
  • Equipment
    • As most 24-Hour gyms are quite new, you’ll find the equipment is generally newer too, with lots of great features. For example, one 24-Hour gym we checked out has all new Matrix treadmills, cross trainers and bikes which all allow you to plug-in you iPhone or iPod and listed to music (while your device charges), or plug-in your headphones and watch/listen to TV using the monitor on the screen. We also noticed after we finished our run on the treadmill, it wanted to update our Nike+ app with the workout information. Quite neat!
    • The range of equipment at each 24-Hour Gym will vary. Generally space is the limiting factor and the smaller the suburb/area, the smaller the gym might be with a smaller range of equipment, so always make sure you take a tour of the facility before signing on the dotted line.

 

Things to keep in mind when joining a 24-Hour Gym;

  • Most 24-Hour Gyms are run by club managers who in turn are also a franchisee or licensee of a brand or franchise, like Snap Fitness or Anytime Fitness. These club members DO have the power to negotiate their fees, so don’t hesitate to have a chat and see what kind of saving you can get your hands on.
  • Most, if not all 24-Hour Gyms have a 30-day cancellation clause in their contracts. This means you need to give 30-days’ notice if you intend on cancelling your membership. During this period, you’ll be billed for the 30-days.
  • It’s fair to say that most 24-Hour Gyms are for those who know (or think they know!) what they’re doing at the Gym. With limited Gym staff, there may be reluctance for Gym staff to offer assistance for any length of time when their focus is on running the club and keeping all members safe. Having said this, most 24-Hour Gyms have Personal Trainers employed, who we would recommend using their services for those that aren’t sure what they should be doing.

Aside from the franchised 24-Hour Gyms, there are plenty of independent gyms popping up around Australia, who are always ready to do a deal to stop you from spending your money with one of the big-boys, so don’t forget to haggle a little bit and see what you can do!

24-Hour Gyms are a great idea, but they might not suit everyone. It’s always best to go in and have a chat with the folk at the 24-Hour Gym you’re considering, and then consider your alternatives, such as dedicated personal training studio, or full service gym.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks where we compare the differences between 24-Hour Gyms, Personal Training Studios and Full Service Gyms.

25Feb
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Why Eat Vegan?

Why Eat Vegan? The choice to revamp your diet to adapt to a all vegan diet is not a decision you should make on a whim. Being vegan now is a trendy choice, however for those who believe in the practice, it is anything but trendy. There are so many reasons why you would want to be a vegan. Several reasons are listed below.

Less Chemicals

Yes, even our meats have chemicals. Cows, chickens, and pigs are injected with hormones and chemicals from birth until they are killed for food. The food they consume is not a natural diet either, which does affect the food source they provide to us. Years ago, cow would eat grass on the pasture. Once it reached the age of not being able to reproduce it was slaughtered. The meat was near perfect because it led a natural life. However, not even organic grass-fed beef have this experience anymore. Finding a small farmer locally would be the only way to find meat like this, and it probably would be very expensive.

No Need to Kill Animals

If you have ever seen a film on the food industry in the USA you will know where this is going. These animals are killed in a way to is not humane at all. They suffer greatly. Many of them, especially chickens never see light in the chicken coop. In fact on the chicken farms they go through and select only the female chickens. They put the males in another container. When asked what they do with the male baby chicks, they said they were destroyed and re purposed as food to the female chickens. The person interviewing the chicken company was left speechless. It seems so wrong.

Plant Based Protein is Enough

Vegan’s claim that plant based proteins are enough to sustain everyone including body builders. They claim you do not need meat to meet your protein needs for the day. You need a diet rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, and beans and you will meet the requirement of .36 per lean body pound you have. So if your lean body mass is 120 pounds. You would multiply 120 times .36 and would need to eat at least 43 grams of protein per day.

Eating vegan is a choice and is not for everyone. Many people love eating meats. However it is very important people start researching where their meats are coming from and looking into cleaner sources. This will save your health and save the animals discomfort and improve their life as well. For every person who avoids eating cow meat at all for one year, they can save 95 cattle per year from being killed. A typical family of four could save nearly 400 cattle every year. That alone is motivating enough to try veganism.

18Feb
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Vegans versus Vegetarians

Many people use the terms vegan and vegetarian interchangeable. They assume a vegan is just someone who avoids eating meats, which is only partly true. The differences between vegans and vegetarians huge especially if you are vegan.

Vegans Only Eat Plants

Vegans only eat plants like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans. They will eat meat substitutes however strict vegans will likely avoid them because they are processed, heavily processed. They typically will not count calories. They will feast on all the fruit and veggies they wish using nuts and beans as their protein source. Vegan do need to take a B12 supplement since B12 is in meat.

A vegetarian will eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, cheese, eggs, and sometimes milk. They are usually less strict. They will consume animal product by products or food items that did not kill the animal like milk, cheese, and eggs.

Vegans Don’t Use Honey

Vegans do not use honey because it is made by an animal making it an animal by product. Getting the honey out for us to enjoy actually kills many bees, so vegans have decided it is not worth the pleasure. They do not eat it. They eat pure sugar cane instead.

Vegan: Vitamins

When a vegan buys vitamins they must compare the vitamin contents. Many vitamins contain milk. This would not be a big concern for a vegetarian since they can drink milk, but a vegan, that may upset them greatly. Hair products and other household item need to be analyzed before purchasing to make sure they do not contain any animal by-products.

The main difference between a vegan and a vegetarian is a vegetarian does not eat any animal that has been killed, and a vegan does not eat any animal kill or any product the animal may produce. Vegans promote a full plant based diet for health healing and prosperity.

11Feb
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Dangers of Eating too Few Calories

Many people fall victim of eating too few calories. They think it is the right thing to do to lose weight. After all, less calories in have to be a weight loss on the scale, right?  They reduce the calories to around 1000 a day. Then, when they see results they think if 1000 calories mean I will lose four pounds a week, then 500 means eight a week. Then, when reducing to 500-600 a day, they plateau. This is known in the fitness community as the Starvation mode. Some claim it is a myth others swear it is true.

Not debating if starvation mode is a myth or true, one thing is true, and that is when you eat to few calories, you will have a difficult time losing weight. Many people will notice once they increase their calories, even by 100-200 calories per day, they will start to see a loss.

Experts suggest the best method to determine just how many calories one needs to eat in order to build muscle yet lose weight is to use your basal metabolic rate(BMR). To find this number, one can find a calculator online.

Once you find your BMR number, you can either eat this many calories a day plus your activity calories or you can eat you BMR plus 10% for sedentary activity or 20% for active lifestyles. You should eat the same amount of calories each and every day.

The nutrition ratios should be 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 20% fats. This is also known as the zone. This macro nutrients ratios allow you to have a clear mind, yet reduce the carbs and increase protein to keep you full and satisfied.

Many people who claim they have been plateaued for one, two or even six months with no weight change, the answer is either to few calories or not enough activity. It takes some experimenting to get that perfect calories for your body. All it takes it a starting point and increasing or decreasing from there until you lose weight well.

Losing weight can be a frustrating, yet rewarding experience. You will learn things about yourself you never knew. You will learn that you are so much stronger than you ever thought you were. One thing is certain, if you truly change your diet, you will never go back to eating poorly again.

Snack Ideas on Gluten Free Lifestyle

It may be challenging at first to find good wheat free snack but, it won’t take you long to be a pro in finding a good nutritious wheat free snack. It is important first to make sure you are not dehydrated so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. It is easy to mistake thirst for hunger pangs. It is a good idea to aim for eight to ten glasses of water a day. If you live in a hot climate, drink a few more glasses to make sure you do not get dehydrated.

A good snack idea is sweet potato fries. Alexia brand makes gluten free sweet potato fry. They are delicious. I have used them myself in the past. Even my picky eating husband loves them. They are good with organic gluten free catsup.

Another good snack idea is frozen grapes. I first saw this idea on Big Brother a few seasons back. One of the contestants loved frozen grapes. She swore it helped you not eat so much junk food, and it works. They are crunchy and sweet. It’s the perfect treat.

One of my personal favorites is peanut butter on celery. I personally am a peanut butter addict. I even add it to my almond milk shakes. The celery with the peanut butter is a great snack because peanut butter is pack with protein and celery is great for lower blood pressure naturally.

My last snack idea is one I use for myself: hardboiled eggs. I love a good hardboiled egg. It’s low carb and so low on calories for the nutrition it provides. I typically boil on Sunday nine hardboiled eggs.  All week I have those eggs at easy reach and peeled already. I have no excuses then not to eat well.

The ideas for snack ideas are endless. You are only limited by your imagination. Other good ideas are natural almonds or fresh peeled fruits. It is important for you when eating wheat free to incorporate snacks every day to keep your metabolism running well. Also, when you eat healthy whole foods, you feel better.

28Jan
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What is Wheat and is it Bad for Me?

Wheat that is grown in the United States falls into two main groups: spring and winter wheat. Winter wheat is planted in the late autumn months and harvested in the summer and spring wheat is planted in after the danger of the frost is over and harvested in the summer.  The appearance of wheat harvested is deep golden brown much like the pictures and artwork most Americans have seen.

Once the wheat plant is harvested, the farmers separate the stalk from the wheat kernels. The stalk is then used for construction uses, animal bedding and mulch. The kernels are then ground into flour. The kernels have three parts, the small germ, the large endosperm, and the outer casing.  The outer casing of the wheat kernel is known as bran.

Flour made with the endosperm becomes white flour. Wheat flour is made from grinding the whole wheat kernel. Pasta is made from the hard wheat.  Wheat flour, white flour, germ flour and bran are four separate flours made from the wheat plant.

Wheat is a probably the most important plant American’s produce. Much of our diet is centered on wheat in one way or another.  It is a nutritious source of vitamins, minerals and fats. Wheat is easily grown in the United States.  It’s easy to see why wheat is the American staple grain.

In certain groups, especially weight loss and fitness groups, wheat is considered one of the worst things to eat after sugar. Many people are surprised to know that wheat is a problem in the American diet. We all know sugar is a big problem our diets, but wheat is bad for you too?

Wheat is has more gluten in it than any other food we consume.  Consuming to much gluten in your diet can lead to celiac disease. Much of the population is believed to be sensitive to gluten. Gluten and wheat is not the same thing. Wheat contains gluten.  In healthy people, eating too much wheat can cause gas, bloating, lethargy and damage to your intestinal lining.

Wheat is a food that is high on the glycemic index. Its rating is higher than sugar, ice cream or cake.  When you consume wheat, your blood sugar rises quickly, bring your insulin levels up quickly. Then your blood sugar will drop low causing you to be hungry again. This is known as blood sugar roller coaster.

There is some speculation that wheat is an appetite stimulant and could be addictive. Have you ever had a craving for pizza and not even are not truly hungry? Studies suggest the reason why wheat is addictive.  The studies say that gluten when broken down forms peptides that are able to stimulate our opioid receptors much like morphine does.

Wheat consumption also has increased cholesterol in a recent study.  In a study, they compared two groups one eating whole oat cereal another eating wheat cereal. The results were the group in the study that consumed wheat cereal’s cholesterol (LDL) increased by sixty percent.

After learning all of this, I cannot possible think wheat is good for you. Maybe it is better for you than other substances, but not healthy. It is like comparing an alcohol with a soda. Neither is good for you, one is just slighter better than the other. Wheat can cause celiac disease, bloating, tiredness, and may be addictive.  It also affected the cholesterol of the participants in the study.  As an item that is considered to be one of the most important staples of American diet, it has the potential to being the worst thing we consume.