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.

24Dec
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Top Yoga Poses

Not many exercises are like Yoga in that it creates a following. People who do practice Yoga are very dedicated to the exercise. They claim it helps them in every aspect of their lives not just their fitness level. Yoga can help your concentration. It has been credited to help in your interactions with other people. It teaches you to be one with yourself. This lead to self-esteem and self-worth. Once you master the beginner poses, you will be ready to tackle the advances poses.

Mountain Pose

You can practice the mountain poses alone or in between other poses. The mountain poses can help you improve your posture greatly. In most advance poses, the instructor will ask you to return to mountain pose.

Uttanasana

This pose is also called Standing Forward bend. This is a pose where you touch your toes basically. It is a pose used to reduce tension, pain, and fatigue. You can do this pose with your knees bend or straight.

Cobra Pose

Rodney Yee, whom is a famous Yoga instructor, list the cobra pose as one of the top ten vital yoga poses. This pose sis used to warm up your core and back muscles. Instead of trying to get your back to be lifted off the floor, it is helpful to focus on keeping your shoulders down and elbows to the side. This concentrates on form instead of the ability to do the pose perfectly.

Downward Facing Dog

This pose is one of the most common yoga poses. Many other routines implement this pose into the routine because it is such an important pose. Many experts state it is a staple in many exercise routines. In this pose you place your hands about 5 feet apart on the floor with legs at the same distance. This exercise literally stretches every muscle in your body.

Warrior Poses

Warrior one, Warrior two, and Warrior Three all are very popular poses. The warrior poses stretch the legs, hips and glutes. They also open the hips so you can complete the more advanced poses. Warrior poses help you become much more aware of how to stretch your body  in every direction simultaneously.

Triangle Pose

The triangle pose is both challenging and beautiful to see. It can be a difficult pose but once you are able to do it correctly it is rewarding. The Yoga Journal recommends this pose to relive stress, backaches, ad to stretch the hips, pelvic areas, and legs.

Supported Headstand

A headstand is a pose that is very hard to master. When training yourself to do this pose, you should use a chair or wall. It is important to support your head well to avoid injury and to use your core muscles. Once you have the confidence that you can complete this pose with ease, try doing it without any support.

Yoga is not only a exercise for many people it is a way of life. Those who practice it will apply yoga to their daily life. For this reason many half jokingly claim, yoga is their religion.  These poses list will help you decide if yoga is right for you. Expert encourage everyone to try yoga, and if not yoga to implement another stretching routine.

17Dec
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Simple Steps to Loving Yourself

The fact is the most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. You must feel valued to yourself so you can demand other treat you with respect. The fact is if you do not love yourself, you will never be able to truly love anyone else.

The first step in loving yourself is to write down all the quality you have that you are happy with. You may start with either physical qualities or emotional. When you start this list, it may be pretty small. It might be helpful to carry the list with you wherever you go, that way when you find something about yourself that you love about you, it is easy to write down. Within a few weeks, you will see that your list will be pretty long. Read the list often when you are feeling like you do not like yourself. It will be a constant written reminder that you are loved.

The second step is to write down what you feel in your heart you deserve out of life. This could be career related, emotional, or even relationship related. Many therapist recommend those who are dating age to do this exercise so they know what they want in a spouse before meeting them. This will also let you know what kind of treatment you are not okay with. It really helps define your self worth. Your self worth is something that no one can take away without your consent. It is so important for your fitness goals, your life goals, and family life that you know your worth and enforce those around you to treat you well.

The last step is to write down how you would like others to see you. Do you long to have others say you are a wonderful mother or wife? Maybe they already see you this way, but it is you who isn’t seeing you like you should? Writing down how you would like others see you helped you define who you would like to become. If these qualities are written down, they become much easier for you to work on these issues.

The dream board is a great concept as well. The dream board is a poster board of all the things you would like to accomplish. It may have the perfect body, a nice car, or big home. You place this board in a place in your home that you can see it daily. The theory in making a dream board is you make it happen by seeing it daily. Another thing you can do is to put post notes in your kitchen, computer room, or bathroom. They may say “You are gorgeous”, “You are a great friend, or “ You are a great writer.” Say the phrases out loud.

Self love is a tricky subject. If you love yourself to much others say you are selfish, conceited or vain. If you do not love yourself enough, they say you are a doormat. The trick is the balance. Love yourself enough to know what you are truly worth and enforce those around you to treat you accordingly. Remember you are the most important relationship in your life, so take care of yourself.

10Dec
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Kickboxing: The Ultimate Cardio Workout

Kickboxing is one of the newest trends. The reason it is so popular is it is so much fun. Who doesn’t like punching, kicking, twisting and getting out aggression build up through our daily lives. Experts claim that kickboxing can also help you burn tons of calories, up to 700 per hour for the average 150 pound woman. This number will go up if you weigh more. So the question is, how do you begin a kickboxing workout?

Technique of Kickboxing

Kickboxing combines the techniques of boxing and all forms of martial arts. It uses jabs and counter punches like in boxing. It uses front and side kicks, you would see in martial arts. Completing these exercise will deliver a total body workout. It will place your heart rate in the zone which will cause you to burn a lot of calories.

Shadow Boxing

Shadow boxing is when you visualize an opponent in front of you. Kickboxing classes use this technique often. You would deliver punches, jabs, and kicks to the opponent. The most commonly used shadow boxing routine is a jab, punch, cross punch, and front kick. The classes usually will have music in the background. It will be high energy music that will encourage you to move.

Heavy Bag Workout

Another way to develop your kickboxing skills is to use a heavy bag. You would punch, jab, kick the bag as you would an opponent in the ring. In order to use a heavy bag, one must first use the right athletic shoes and gloves to protect your hands. During the workout, you can deliver a series of kicks or jabs. You can practice the roundhouse kick to the bag or a front kick. The bag will help you see if your technique needs improvement as well as improve your footwork and endurance for a fight.

Strength Training

One cannot ignore the importance of strength training if you want to be a successful kick-boxer. Most kick-boxers will use pushups to tone their shoulders, arms and chest. Another exercise used very often in kick boxing class is a squat combinations. It is common to see a squat punch combination be used. Squats will help tone gain strength in your legs and glutes. In fact,many say squats when combined with weights for your arms, are a total body exercise. Another way to implement strength training in your kick boxing routine is to use weighted gloves when doing heavy bag workouts. This will add one more pound of resistance to each one of the jabs and punches.

Kickboxing is a fun exercise that for some will help shed weight, tone their body, and be a source of almost therapy for a highly stressful life. Kick boxing techniques will take time to master however , once you master them, it will be a sport you love. You may feel odd and awkward at first, but keep practicing, you will love it once you master the moves. Kickboxing can truly change you life in getting into shape and teaching you self control.

12Nov
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Marathon Training

Anyone can run a marathon even novice runners. Marathon training should be fun yet challenging. Crossing the finish line in a marathon which is 42 kilometers long, is a challenge that many people can not claim to have earned. Marathon training can be completed in as little as 16 short weeks.

Why to Run

Motivation is the biggest drive in running a marathon. Being able to complete a marathon you must first build up the mental stamina so you can get in a  frame of mind to complete the race. You also have to keep being motivated every single day to keep training until race day. The fact is when surveying those who have completed a marathon, they typically claim that the race was much harder than they thought it would be. One of the hardest obstacles you will face is training hard enough to be able to cross the finish line with a smile on your face.

Your Goals

Most runners will have a completion time goal in their mind, and they train to make that goal happen. It is much like weight loss or other fitness goals in mind. The first thing to remember about finish time goals is it needs to be attainable. It is not likely you will finish a marathon in two hours. It is doable more than likely to complete it in four hours however. If your goals are reachable, it is likely you will get very discouraged and quit early in training.

Shoes and clothes

It is important you wear the right clothes and have you shoes properly fit to run a marathon. In fact,you will probably want more than one pair of shoes. Most running enthusiasts recommend the runners going to a running store, and ask for you foot to be fitted. They can also watch you run and recommend a shoe that will be able to meet your running need the best.

Fueling for your Runs

Running is different than weight lift. The nutrition is very different. In order to fuel properly, you will need to eat more complex carbohydrates that protein. In fact, most nutritionist recommends that you eat as a runner 65% carbohydrates, 10 % protein, and 25% fat intake. This does not give you a pass to eat french fires and other junk foods. The carbohydrate intake should be complex carbs like brown rice or oatmeal.

Staying Hydrated

For every 30 minutes of running, you will lose about 200-250ml of fluid. For this reason it is vital you drink water often when running. The experts recommend you eight yourself before and after your run to know exactly in ounces how much water to drink. It is recommended as well to drink water ( or electrolyte enhanced water) or Gatorade ( or other sports drink).

Injuries Will Stop Training

Injuries are one of the number one causes of delayed training. It is important not to run every day. You legs and energy needs to have enough rest to be able to run effectively.  It is also important to avoid injury when you are not running to apply ice your shins and feet to make sure when you are running they will not hurt. This will greatly increase you mileage and reduce soreness.

Before you begin

It is recommended that before beginning any marathon training, you should be able to run for thirty minutes without stopping to walk. It does not matter if you can run 2 miles in that 30 minutes or 4 miles. What matters is your endurance. The reason is a marathon is all about pacing yourself effectively so you can finish a race.

When you start your marathon race on race day, you will feel pumped up and ready to tackle the race. Be careful to pace yourself well even if you run slower than everyone else. Pacing yourself will help with your energy and will help you be able to finish the race in good time. The marathon race is one goal and achievement that you will feel pride when you accomplish. The fact is only one percent of people ever complete a marathon.

22Oct
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Review of Calorie Counting Websites

Many of us are busy and use calorie counting websites or apps to either save time or save sanity, possibly both. Some of these sites with track your macros, or just calories.  Some of the sites will have a community that will have a friendship, that will help you along your journey. Challenges also help engage you and keep you going. The three main sites are Watchfit, Myfitnesspal, and Sparkspeople.

MyFitnessPal

We love MyFitnessPal. We’re there daily. I have a love hate relationship with the forums but the actually program is great. The mobile app is wonderful with a bar scanner that will scan mostly anything. The news-feed option is great. It will give a personal touch to the weight loss journey. Myfitnesspal has a data base of foods, exercise calories, and weight lifting activities. It is by far the most popular weight loss website.

Watchfit

The site is new and easy to navigate. The site has a place for personal trainer to advertise their services which is a added bonus for professionals. You can track you food, macros, create and participate in challenges, and create a blog. You can hire a nutritionist or personal trainer on site as well. The site is amazing. Our only suggestions is a mobile app and a bigger food database.

Sparkspeople

Sparkspeople is a much like Myfitnesspal with forums and a good app but the app is not as complete. The Sparkspeople site and app is not as popular and easy to navigate. One reason is it gives people to many calories to eat to lose more than 1 pound a week, experts claim.

There are other calorie counting websites like Livestrong, Calorie counting, Beachbody, and bodybuilding.com. The only way to see which one will work for you is to try it, and see. For me, a busy  person on the go, I need a mobile app to add food on the go or even at night when I am ready for bed, so a mobile app is a must. Try the one’s listed and let us know what your favorites are.

30Sep
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Self Love, Is it required?

Self love is not a new trend. It isn’t a hippy or yoga ideal. Self love is a requirement for one to achieve their goals in life. Without true self love and appreciation, there can be no real happiness. So what is self love exactly?

Self love is accepting yourself exactly as you are right now. That is not saying to yourself, “oh, I’ll love myself when I am 10 pounds, 20 pounds or even 100 pounds lighter.” That is not self love. Self love is loving who you are right now. Self love is looking fast your flaws and accepting yourself anyway.

Self love is knowing your worth and enforcing it in your relationships. What this means is not accepting or participating in toxic relationships. This is a huge problem for most people. People make excuses for the ones they love. You will often hear, “Oh, she’s like that”, or “ Once you get to know him, he is nice”. These are excuses to still participate in a toxic relationship. Self love would require that if you truly love yourself, you will separate yourself from those friendships.

Self love is falling in love with you. It is possible to fall in love with yourself. It is ideal according to the Buddhist teachings in fact. Think about it this way, when you fall in love with someone, you love everything about them. You vow to care for them. You will fight for them. You will do whatever it takes to be there for them and make time for them. Now, put that into practice for yourself. Do all those things for YOU.

Self love is a requirement to be successful in losing weight. One thing many overweight and obese people have in common is they do not love themselves. If they truly did love themselves, they would not feed themselves in such a way they gain so much weight or would they not care for themselves properly. In fact being morbidly obese in a very real sense is slowly killing yourself. That is not self love, in fact it is self hatred.

To practice self love, be kind to yourself. Learn to be your own best friend. Accept your flaws as part of what makes you unique. Most of all, praise yourself. Many people are in the habit of when receiving a compliment, they refuse to accept it. Learn to accept compliments. To go a step further, learn to compliment yourself without feeling guilt about doing it. If you follow these practices, you will learn to love yourself, genuinely.