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Monthly Archives: June 2016

Why Strength Training is Important?

Many people who’ve decided to get fit or lose weight are great at getting out and going for a walk or a run, and maybe you’ve grown to love doing cardio at the gym. But if you’re not including strength exercises as part of your exercise program, you’re missing out on a key component of health and fitness.

Completing regular strength exercises has been shown to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories during and after exercise!

Benefits of Strength Exercises

  • Improved muscle strength and tone
  • Weight control
  • Increased bone density and strength
  • Boosted metabolism
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Prevention and control of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis

Options for Strength Exercises

  • Using your own body weight – easy and free! Strength exercises include push-ups, chin-ups and abdominal crunches
  • Free weights such as dumbbells or barbells
  • Resistance bands – light and portable, these bands provide continuous resistance throughout a movement
  • Weight machines such as those found in gyms

Research into Strength Exercises

A recent study showed that 10 weeks of strength training can increase your resting metabolic rate by seven percent and reduce fat by 1.8kg. Strength exercises also improved the study participants’ physical performance, movement control, walking speed, cognitive abilities and self-esteem.

On top of that, a US study found that we lose muscle mass at a rate of 10 to 15 percent after 50 years of age if we don’t do anything to slow the process, and this rate of loss increases after 65 years of age. So a 70-year-old woman could have 50 to 70 percent less strength than she had at 30 years old.

However, the rate of muscle decline is dependent on physical activity, with those who are physically inactive losing muscle mass and strength more quickly.

What more evidence do you need to get started on building up those muscles? Include them in your regular mix of ways of working out and you’ll soon see the benefits for yourself.

A 12WBT Strength Workout

To show how easy it is to bring strength training into your routine, we’ve given you a sample 20-minute strength workout using exercises from our 12 Week Body Transformation program.

This workout focuses on the legs, back, triceps and ab muscles using a gym set-up. The secret to strength training is to focus on different body parts each day of the week, so on other days you’d want to work the chest, biceps and shoulders.

Warming Up

Do a five-minute warm-up on any cardio machine and work at approximately 70 percent intensity. For example:

  • Cross trainer, level 5 to 8, hill program.
  • Treadmill, steady state jog (7.5 to 9km per hour).

Your strength workout

These exercises should take 10 to 20 minutes. Run through the whole program twice if you’re feeling game!

Assisted chin-ups:

  • Set the equipment to weigh 60 to 80 percent of your body weight.
  • Exhale as you pull yourself up until your chin is level with the bar, then lower yourself down to a full stretch.
  • Do three sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting for 30 seconds between each set.

Pullover on a fitball:

  • Sit on the fitball holding one dumbbell, with both hands pressed against your chest. Carefully roll down the fitball so you are lying with your head and shoulders on the ball, hips off the ball in a straight line.
  • Raise the dumbbell with both hands so your arms are almost fully extended above your chest. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • Bracing your core muscles, lower the dumbbell behind your head, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Exhale as you pull the dumbbell back up over your head.
  • Do three sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting for 30 seconds between each set.

Hamstring curls on a fitball:

  • Lie on the floor with your arms alongside your body, palms facing down. With straight legs, place your heels and calf muscles on the fitball. Have your feet hip width apart and flex your toes back towards you. Lift your hips up off the floor and lock your midsection tight so that your body is straight and is supported by the shoulders.
  • Keeping your torso straight and stiff, bend your legs and roll the ball towards your butt. Keep your feet flexed and squeeze the backs of your legs and your inner thighs. Use core strength to maintain your balance and hold your body in place.
  • Do three sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting for 30 seconds between each set.

Tricep push-ups:

  • Get down on all fours, placing your hands directly under your shoulders. Draw your abs in, lift your chest up between your arms and drop your shoulders back and down (away from your ears). Tuck your chin in slightly and look directly ahead at the floor. Your toes can be hip width apart or together.
  • Keeping your core muscles activated, inhale as you bend your arms and lower your upper body so that your chest is about 10cm off the floor. Exhale as you straighten the arms to return to the start position.
  • Do three sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting for 30 seconds between each set.

Squat jumps:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Switch on your core.
  • Squat down by sitting your butt behind you (imagine you are sitting down on a kiddie seat) and swing your arms back as though you’re going to touch the ground with both hands. Spring up off the ground and swing your arms above your head as if you’re about to shoot a basketball.
  • Do as many squat jumps as you can in 60 seconds.

Stretching: Ensure you stretch for a good five minutes after strength exercises, focusing on all the muscle groups used.

Burn Your Fat using These Cardio Excercise

The best exercises are those you can do daily, so choose ones you enjoy and don’t be afraid to mix things up. Adding interval training to your fitness regime will not only burn the calories faster, it will keep your workout fresh.

1. Running

While a daily walk can improve fitness levels and relieve stress and anxiety, if weight loss is your goal, running – not walking – is one of the quickest, most efficient exercises to help you lose weight and increase fitness.

Running burns about 650 calories per hour. As it’s difficult to run consistently for an hour though, interval training will help you reach a high-intensity burn faster, increasing your endurance, lowering your heart-rate recovery time and torching fat. Add in hill or stair sprints to your program, then recover with slower-paced runs.

2. Cycling

Whether stationary or outdoors, cycling is one of the best forms of exercises for fitness. Sports physiologists have found that the body’s metabolic rate – the efficiency with which it burns calories and fat – is not only raised during a ride, but for several hours afterwards.

Even after cycling for 30 minutes, you could be burning a higher amount of total calories for a few hours after you stop,” says sports physiologist Mark Simpson of Loughborough University in the UK.

As with running, make sure you include both high- and low-intensity in your session. The more intense the workout, the quicker the calories will burn away.

A study by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, showed that cyclists who incorporated fast intervals into their ride burned significantly more body fat than those who cycled constantly at a moderate pace.

3. Boxing

If it’s rapid tone and weight loss you’re after, boxing is the fitness choice for you. Many people think boxing only strengthens the arms but if done correctly, it’s a cardio workout for the whole body.

It’s a particularly good exercise for toning glutes and quadriceps – perfect if you’re trying to lose weight around your hips and thighs.

Boxing won’t make you bulk up – it’s a high-repetition fitness workout so you’ll see tone rather than muscle. Combine high-intensity rounds with short rests and the calorie burn will continue after you’ve completed the workout.

4. Weights

The key to weight loss is to keep rest periods as short as possible. Many people take too much time between weightlifting sets, allowing the heart rate to slow down to a resting rate, which doesn’t burn as many calories.

Super-set weights – where you do two exercises one after the other with no rest in between – can increase the amount of calories you burn by 25 per cent compared to traditional straight sets, according to a study reported in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning

Do bicep curls super-setted with tricep push-downs. The first exercise works the pulling muscle and the second works the opposite muscle, using a pushing movement. You’ll get a greater calorie burn while strengthening, toning and improving your overall fitness. If you don’t have weights on hand, use soup cans or filled water bottles.

5. Skipping

This is one of the simplest yet most effective exercises you can do. In just 15 to 20 minutes, skipping will give you an unparalleled total body workout, burning around 700 calories an hour. It’s ideal for cardiovascular endurance and it enhances performance in many sports – tennis, basketball, football, skiing and more.

Set yourself measurable goals such as 50 double-paced skips followed by 20 slower ones. You’ll definitely feel the burn.

Don’t forget to spend time stretching at the end of every workout. Those last five to ten minutes will help prevent injury and stop you feeling sore the next day. Mix things up with circuit training and, most importantly, one of the best fitness tips around is to find a form of exercise you love. That will definitely keep you coming back for more.

Do These Stretches Every Day

Many of us spend our nighttime hours flailing from side to side, flipping from stomach to back, yanking covers, doubling flat pillows, putting on socks, taking socks off, etc, etc. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that we wake up feeling a little bit…discombobulated. And even those of us who sleep peacefully need a good stretch after 7 to 9 hours of slepp. All that time on your back is bound to make you feel a little creaky. Here, a 5-minute stretching routine that will start your day off right.

Perform 20 repetitions of exercises 1 and 2. Hold exercises 3 and 4 for 20 seconds on each side. Then perform 10 repetitions of exercise 5. At the very end, take one final deep breath, smile, and embrace the gift of another day.

Good Mornings

Place hands behind head with elbows wedged wide open. Bend at hips, slightly bend knees, and reach butt back—not down!—as far as possible. As you do this, allow torso to tip forward. Be sure to engage core and tip forward at torso, and avoid rounding back. Hold momentarily then draw hips forward, raise torso, and stand upright into starting position. This move stretches the hamstrings and lower back

Frankensteins

Reach arms straight out in front, slightly below shoulders. Walk forward across length of room, kicking one leg straight up with flexed foot, drawing shin to hand. If kicking that high causes rounding of back, simply lower arms and kick to height that stops posture from arching forward. Keep hips squared as you walk forward in this “Frankenstein” motion, and you’ll get a great stretch in your hamstrings.

Child’s Pose with Rotation

Sit on shins with knees out and heels right under butt. Reach one arm across center of torso, and take other arm up toward ceiling, holding 20 seconds. You should feel a stretch in the hips, shoulders, chest, and back. Repeat on opposite side.

Optional: Bind the other arm around the back to the opposite hip while holding the pose for a deeper stretch.

Supine Twists

Lie flat on back. Bring one knee in toward belly and cradle it with opposite hand. Applying light pressure, pull that knee across body and to floor. Try to keep both shoulders on ground. The goal is to gently twist the spine; it’s OK if knee does not make it all the way down to floor. Stop when you start to feel resistance from your lower back—you should also feel this stretch in the glutes. Repeat on opposite side.

Long Stretch

Inhale and reach arms high up overhead. Exhale and return to starting standing position. Match movement pattern to rhythm of breath, and feel stretch in shoulders, back, and torso as you flow through 10 repetitions.