Saturday, 31 January 2015

8 Mistakes Costing You Muscle Tone

The goal of training hard is to build more muscle, which will ultimately help you to burn more fat and lose more weight. However, you may be training as hard as you can but not seeing the results you are hoping for. If this is the case, you could be making one of the mistakes below. These errors will not only slow your progress, but they can cause you to actually LOSE muscle tone!  


  1. Training Specific Body Parts
    If you've got your routine broken down into too many days -- each day focusing on a specific muscle -- you'll cause your muscle growth to stagnate and possibly even stop. You want your large muscle groups to work together, as that's how you gain muscle fast.
  2. Overtraining
    We've all pushed our bodies beyond our limits and then paid the price. Doing too many sets and reps is NOT the key to muscle gain, but it will give you swollen muscles (thanks to the "pump") that are more likely to be injured. You're not going to see proper growth, so it's better to stick with fewer sets of fewer reps with A LOT more weight.
  3. Training Only Vanity Muscles
    Your arms, shoulders, and chest may be the muscles you want to LOOK good, but you can't only train those bad boys. Did you know that up to 70 percent of your body's total musculature is in your back and legs? Don't neglect these two important muscle groups!
  4. Not Stretching
    This may sound silly, but it's the truth. Stretching not only prevents injuries, but it increases your muscle's range of motion and speeds up recovery. Stretching makes space for the muscle fibers you are working to expand, allowing your body to increase muscle mass and tone.
  5. Not Resting Enough
    Your body repairs your muscle fibers during the night, so rest is a key to muscle mass growth. If you don't sleep enough, you reduce the gains your muscles can make. Not only that, but your body is unable to produce enough of the mass-building hormones that would be the key to serious gains.
  6. Doing the Same Workout
    If you follow the same routine for weeks and months at a time, your body gets accustomed to the movements. Those who fail to add more weight, do more reps, or switch up the movements will never see serious muscle growth, and may even end up suffering from burnout.
Don't make these mistakes! Train like a pro and pack on those muscles the safe, effective way.

Source Andy Peloquin / Fitday

Friday, 30 January 2015

How to Stay Motivated When You Don't See Results

The discouragement of failing to witness noticeable results from countless hours of rigorous workout activity might cause you to rethink whether the daily exercise grind is actually worth it. The feel-good concept of working out to improve your overall health and well-being may be satisfactory on the surface, but copious amounts of pain without any gain can cripple your motivation. It's important to remember why you decided to alter your lifestyle to begin with, though, even if you don't see quick results.

13motivate.jpgKeep Calm

There's no doubt that it takes several weeks for your results to pop in the mirror. Some people are able to gain noticeable results faster than others, but that shouldn't deter you from exercising at least three or four times per week. It's important to keep your ultimate goal in mind and remember that you're not going to suddenly become sculpted overnight, or over the course of a month, for that matter.

Challenge Yourself

It's not a simple feat to overcome discouragement, but it is possible to internalize those harsh feelings and transform a negative, can't-do attitude. If you're feeling unsatisfied with the hard work you've committed to, challenge yourself by increasing the intensity of each workout. You can accomplish this by decreasing rest time in between sets, which has been scientifically tested to improve your endurance and increase your body's natural ability to burn fat. For high-intensity workout purposes, rest for just 30 to 45 seconds in between sets.

Visualize Success

Even though it might seem cliché and somewhat silly, visualizing your goals can help keep you motivated. Regardless of whether your goal is to burn off enough flab to flaunt washboard abs at the beach, or slim down to squeeze into your high school prom dress, visualizing your moment can help you achieve what might currently seem impossible. Do what you can to fend off brief moments of discouragement by remembering why you became an avid workout enthusiast to begin with.

Ignore Negativity

The process of visualization should help you conquer negative thoughts that creep into your mind, but it's also important to tune-out family members and friends who have a tendency to induce negativity or invoke poor decisions. Even though it might be tempting to skip the gym for an extended happy hour with your friends after a rough day at the office, you need to remain resilient and think of the potential consequences. A couple of drinks have the potential to increase your food cravings, which can lead to poor dietary decisions and stall your progress.

Don't Give Up!

As simple as it might seem, giving up on your goal won't fuel your passion or diminish your discouragement. If maintaining a trimmed down figure was easy to do, obesity wouldn't be at the root of many health concerns in the United States. You have the opportunity to not only change your lifestyle by exercising regularly, but also achieve high-quality health. Anything that is difficult to accomplish is worth doing, no matter how discouraging it might be. Even if you don't see results today, remember that each workout pushes you one day closer to reaching your moment of visualization.

Source John Shea / Fit Day

Thursday, 29 January 2015

6 Ways to Avoid Burnout

You may have started the year with the best of intentions, vowing to exercise more, but after a few weeks of trying to stick to your resolutions, you may be feeling burned out and ready to abandon your goals. This is not uncommon. In fact, many people lose their motivation and feel burned out because they’ve had negative experiences with exercise. And those undesirable experiences can alter your resolve and make you question whether or not exercise is even beneficial or worth your time.

The good news is that it is possible to avoid burnout. These guidelines were created to help you make regular exercise a permanent lifestyle change.   

1. Know the Signs of Exercise Burnout

These signs and symptoms are indicators of exercise burnout:

    Exhaustion instead of energy
    Joint or muscular pain
    Difficulties sleeping
    Fatigue or weakness
    Persistent muscle soreness
    Yawning during exercising

2. Find a Deeper Connection with Exercise

It’s no secret that exercise offers a wide range of benefits, including reduced blood pressure, higher energy levels and stronger muscles. But it’s worth taking the time to ask yourself how can exercise benefit you on a deeper level. You will be more likely to commit to exercise when you understand the primary reason you want to exercise. Whether you want to play with your kids without gasping for air or one day qualify for the Boston Marathon, knowing what really motivates you will help keep you going when life gets busy or your interest begins to flag.

3. Gradually Progress Exercise

Trying to do too much, too soon is a sure-fire way to burn out on exercise. Gradually incorporating exercise into one’s life, however, can help you establish the building blocks and appropriate strength necessary to participate in higher-intensity training. Many people desire to participate in higher-intensity fitness programs because they promise to burn a lot of calories. These classes offer magnetic atmospheres and a fun, social connection, but these classes may cause more harm than good for those who aren’t yet prepared for more rigorous workouts.

A qualified fitness professional can help you discover the best routine and exercise progression for your current fitness level. If you’ve been sedentary, consider starting with one or more of the following modalities:

    Aquatic fitness classes
    Basic body-weight training  
    Using cardiovascular machines
    Basic yoga or Pilates

Once you’ve established a baseline of fitness, you can progress to more challenging programs. Why is this important? Gradual changes lead to long-term results and helps you avoid injury, pain and negative perceptions toward exercise.

4. Monitor Your Stress

Many people do not realize that exercise is actually physical stress applied to the body. And, while exercise can be a great stress-reliever, pushing an already-stressed body past its boundaries is a recipe for burnout.

When stress levels are high, the human body breaks down and mental clarity decreases. It also undergoes physiological changes such as increased blood pressure, heart rate and perspiration. Hormonal changes also occur, providing the necessary energy for the “fight or flight” instinct that often kicks in. Not surprisingly, research has shown a correlation between stress and immune function. When chronically stressed, immune function decreases and the body is more susceptible to sickness and infections.

Ask yourself, “How much stress is in my life?”

If you’re going through a highly stressful period in your life, keep moving with lower-intensity exercise. Walking, yoga, biking, swimming and water jogging are great alternatives to high-intensity training. During stressful times, add in an extra recovery day if sticking with higher-intensity workouts. When life rebalances itself, revisit higher-intensity training.  

5. Cross Training

Cross training—including two or more types of exercise into your regular routine—is an effective method for avoiding burnout. Cross training helps you avoid doing the same motions day after day, which reduces the stress on your muscles and joints. 

A combination of resistance and cardiovascular training is particularly effective because it enables you to increase both muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance at the same time. For resistance training, you can incorporate a combination of body-weight training, yoga, Pilates and traditional weight training.  Equipment such as medicine balls, resistance bands and BOSUs also are effective and add variety to one’s workouts.

6. Prepare and Repair

Your body needs good nutrition to sufficiently “prepare and repair” your muscles between workouts.

Many resolutions include both diet and exercise, but you should be wary of drastically cutting calories.
The body requires energy (enough calories) to sustain exercise, especially high-intensity workouts. If your body does not have enough energy on store, your muscles cannot repair properly, so be sure to include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

 Source : Elizabeth Kovar M.A / ACE

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Do's and Don'ts of Flexibility Training

The Do's and Don'ts of Flexibility Training

While research clearly indicates that joint range of motion is improved acutely and chronically following flexibility exercises, flexibility training continues to be one of the most overlooked aspects of most people’s fitness programs. With a growing focus on functional training to adequately prepare the body to perform optimally, not only when completing exercises in the gym but also when engaging in activities in everyday life, it’s imperative that proper levels of joint mobility be established to ensure quality movement.
While more studies are needed to definitively understand the effect of flexibility training plays in reducing the risk of injuries and minimizing delayed onset muscle soreness, based on the current available research there are some things we know that we should be doing—and not be doing—when it comes to this essential component of a well-rounded workout routine.
Do: Roll it out.
foam rolling
While most people think stretching is the only way to enhance flexibility, self-myofascial release to address tissue density is also effective and should be incorporated into your exercise experience. Beginning your warm-up by using tools such as a foam roller or tennis ball to decrease trigger points or “knots” within the muscles by applying pressure to commonly tight areas of the body can help to relieve tension and increase blood flow. In turn, this helps to enhance mobility and improve overall movement quality. Interestingly, self-myofascial release can also be incorporated into the cool-down to offer even more flexibility-related benefits, as first focusing on tissue density will then help to then address tissue length through the completion of static stretching.
Don’t: Go in completely cold.
jump rope
As noted in the current exercise guidelines, research suggests that flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscles are warm. Therefore, engaging in light aerobic activity—such as jogging, jumping rope or briskly walking—to get the blood flowing to the tissues can prove beneficial before performing static stretches.
Do: Get mobile.
leg kicks
When it comes to injury prevention, ensuring adequate joint mobility is imperative. The body is comprised of joints that tend to favor stability—such as the knees and lumbar spine—and joints that favor mobility—including the ankles, hips, thoracic spine and shoulders. To get more out of your movements, your workouts should include a dynamic warm-up to enhance range of motion in these four areas. This should include movements that mimic the five primary movement patterns: bend-and-lift movements (squatting); single-leg movements (lunging); pushing; pulling; and rotational or twisting movements. The warm-up should serve as a dress rehearsal for specific exercises within a given workout, activity or sport, an to increase core body temperature, address movement deficiencies, improve joint range of motion and reduce the risk of injuries in both the gym and during everyday life.
Don’t: Focus only on one area.
external rotator stretch
Flexibility training, like resistance training, is joint specific, meaning there’s not one specific exercise or stretch to do to improve your overall flexibility. Instead, incorporate a variety of different movements and stretching techniques into your training to target the major muscle tendon units of the neck, chest, shoulder girdle, trunk, lower back, hips, legs and ankles.
Do: Mix up your approach.
upward facing dog
From proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) with a partner to static stretching in mind-body modalities like yoga, mixing up your approach to flexibility will not only offer improvement in range of motion around the joints, it will also keep this component of your workout routine exciting and ultimately more enjoyable.
Don’t: Make it painful.
chest stretch
As is the case with any aspect of fitness, when it comes to flexibility training, you want to feel challenged. However, there’s a big difference between slight discomfort and extreme pain. When performing static stretching, make it a point to stretch only to the point of feeling mild tightness or slight discomfort to ensure the greatest level of safety and effectiveness.
Do: Make it a priority.
kneeling stretch
Studies have shown that while range of motion around a joint is improved immediately following flexibility exercises, chronic improvements are seen after three to four weeks of regularly stretching at least two to three times per week. For the greatest benefit, perform your flexibility training after your resistance-training workouts and stay committed in your approach to stretching regularly.
Don’t: Skimp on static stretching.
hamstring stretch
For best results, aim to hold each static stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat each one two to four times, completing a total of 60 seconds per joint.

Source : Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT / ACE 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Is CrossFit the Right Fit for You?

CrossFit has become the single most popular type of workout in the country over the last few years. Walk down any street and you'll easily recognize CrossFitters by their "WODKILLA" T-shirts and their bulging muscles. ("WOD" means "Workout of the Day," and "WODKILLAS" are those that excel at the WOD.)

But is CrossFit the right workout for everyone?



Who Should Do CrossFit?

Athletes: If you are an athlete, doing CrossFit will help you to improve your overall conditioning. You have no doubt trained for your particular sport, but CrossFit increases muscle strength and endurance as well as your cardiovascular endurance. The high-intensity workouts are ideal for those who want to perform better athletically.

Veteran Lifters: If you've been lifting weights and hitting the gym for a few years, it may be time to up the intensity of your workouts in order to get better results. Your years of experience will reduce your risk of injuring yourself during your WODs, and your muscles are already accustomed to hard work.

Average Joe: For those new to regular workouts, CrossFit can be a good option provided you are in decent shape. You should be able to run a mile in no more than 10 minutes, and you should have a decent BMI. As long as you aren't too overweight, you can get ripped and in shape in a short time using CrossFit.

Who Should Avoid CrossFit

Beginners Over Age 40: If you're over the age of 40 and new to the world of fitness, CrossFit is going to be very tough on your bones, joints and muscles. You run the risk of serious injury if you're not careful. Even if you're a serious athlete/lifter, once you hit 45 or 50 you need to consider reducing the intensity of your workouts. There are always exceptions to every rule, but most people over the age of 45 or 50 may want to consider switching back to regular gym sessions.

Overweight/Obese: We're not talking about people who could stand to lose a few pounds, but those that are 10, 20 or 30 pounds overweight. If you're very overweight, trying to start out with CrossFit can just be too hard on your body. You should use regular gym sessions to help you get your body in better shape, and only make the transition to CrossFit once you know your muscles, joints and bones can take a pounding.

Those With Health Conditions: Not every health condition or disorder will make it dangerous for you to do CrossFit, but anything that causes weak joints, muscles or bones can increase your risk of injury. Those with autoimmune disorders may find it too hard to keep up with the CrossFit workouts, and people with fatigue-related disorders may pass out from the exertion. (It's for these reasons that CrossFit trainers recommend consulting a doctor before trying CrossFit.)

Here are a few more people who should avoid CrossFit--not for health reasons, but for personal reasons:

The Loner: Prefer to work out alone? CrossFit isn't for you!

The Newbie Who Needs Personalized Help: It's a one-size-fits-all workout with no focus or attention from the trainer, (although at most boxes , this is available in down time )

Source : Andy Peloquin /FitDay

Monday, 26 January 2015

Complete Core BOSU® Workout

The BOSU® Balance Trainer, now a staple in nearly every fitness facility, has been around for nearly 15 years. While the product can be easily integrated into all areas of fitness, core remains the number one use for this popular piece of equipment. The unique design and unstable surface enables you to work your core in a variety of positions with comfort and appropriate challenge. Whether you’re looking for exercises to add at the end of a cardio class or you’re in need of a full core workout, the following 5 exercises will help you strengthen from the inside out.
Each exercise has start and finish photos, along with a brief description. For additional set-up and progression or regression suggestions, follow the link provided. Additional core exercises are available on the BOSU YouTube Channel.
Double Crunch
double bosu crunch
Position the small of your back in the center of the dome. Find balance with your feet off the floor, in line with the knees. The knees should be bent to 90 degrees and positioned over the hips. With hands behind the head and neck in neutral, begin by extending the lumbar spine slightly. Then, slowly flex the trunk to bring hips off the dome, slightly, and chest toward legs. Pause at the top, then slowly lower back to the starting position. To regress the exercise, perform the upper crunch with feet off the floor or on the floor. Perform 10-15 repetitions.
Lateral Balance
lateral bosu balance
Position your waist on the top of the dome and the forearm on the floor (elbow aligned with the shoulder). The other hand can be on the front of the dome for support as you lift both legs until they are parallel to the floor. Once you find your balance, begin to challenge it by removing the bottom arm from the floor and then the top. Hold the balanced position for 10-20 seconds. Lower and return to balance position for 2 additional repetitions.
BOSU® Supine Bicycle
bosu supine bicycle
Position the small of your back in the center of the dome. Find balance with your feet off the floor, in line with the knees. The knees should be bent to 90 degrees and positioned over the hips. With hands behind the head and neck in neutral, begin by flexing the spine slightly and holding the ”curl” position. Begin alternating the legs in a small bicycling motion. As you become comfortable with the leg movement, add trunk rotation toward the bent knee. Explore with range of motion to increase the challenge. Perform 10 rotations to each side.
Prone Tuck & Extend
prone tuck and extend
Begin prone with stomach centered on the dome. Relax over the dome (forearms, knees and lower legs resting on the floor). Slowly extend the spine and hips until the body is parallel to the floor. Then, as you find balance, experiment with lifting the body and legs higher than parallel. Hold the balanced position for 10-20 seconds. Lower and return to balance position for 3-5 additional repetitions.
V-Sit with Trunk Rotation
v-sit with trunk rotation
Center hips on top of the dome. With hands on the sides of the dome for balance, bend knees and place toes lightly on the floor in front of you. Lean back slightly while maintaining neutral posture and begin to lift the feet off the floor to come into V-sit balance. Begin the rotation by tilting the legs to one side and the torso to the other. Then, reverse. Perform 10 rotations to each side. You can also perform the rotation with one foot lifted or both feet on the floor.
Of course, these exercises merely scratch the surface of core-focused exercises that can be performed using the BOSU® Balance Trainer. This workout was adapted from the BOSU® Complete System. Learn more about BOSU Complete. BOSU also offers an app to create 15-, 30- and 60-minute workouts. Visit the iTunes App Store or Google Play, or click here for more information. Or join BOSU at a live training to learn more about adding BOSU to your programming.

 Source Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year

Sunday, 25 January 2015

4 Superfoods to Look Out For in 2015

What is a superfood? Chances are you’ve heard of superfoods over the years and even incorporated them into your diet to boost your health and help lower your risk of disease. These nutrient-rich foods have been lauded as going above and beyond the nutritional value of average fruits, vegetables and whole grains, earning them a place in the spotlight and a glowing health halo.
Superfoods are nothing new. Popeye launched one—spinach—decades ago. We’ve been racing to the health-food store, supermarkets and smoothie shops for superfoods like acai and goji berries, kale and pomegranate ever since—all in the name of extraordinary health. What is new for 2015 is the growing sentiment in the nutrition community that superfoods don’t have to be new, exotic and nearly unpronounceable. Some long-forgotten foods may be just what your diet needs.
Move over kale. Take a seat flax. These up-and-coming superfoods are about to take back the spotlight and elevate your diet to a whole new level of exceptional taste and nutrition.
While quinoa is the reigning whole grain, those in the know are branching out to take advantage of many of the lesser-known ancient grains such as amaranth, teff and millet. Amaranth has a slightly crunchy texture and, like quinoa, is packed with protein. This grain is also a good gluten-free option for those with celiac disease and similar dietary requirements. Use amaranth as you would other grains—toss it in salads or add it to soups. Or create a hearty breakfast with other classic superfoods like this Blueberry Amaranth Porridge.
fermented foods
From kimchi to kefir, fermented foods are getting more and more attention for their powerful health benefits. Researchers are finding that consuming beneficial bacteria, like that found in fermented foods, can help with a strong immune system, build a healthy digestive system, and positively impact blood sugar and the absorption of certain hormones. Some preliminary studies even suggest it may affect mental health. Great Grandma may have been on to something with all her homemade sauerkraut! As with any food, moderation is key due to the higher amounts of sodium in many fermented foods like kimchi. To make your own fermented foods, use trusted guides such as this one from the USDA.
dandelion greens
Kale is the current top green, but other dark leafy greens like dandelion greens, collard greens and mustard greens are waiting in the wings to change up the flavors of your salads and sides--and with outstanding nutrition to boot. Dandelion greens, in particular, are an excellent source of vitamins A, K and C, and a good source of fiber, calcium, manganese, iron, and vitamins B1, B2 and B6. Many of these nutrients are often lacking in the average person’s diet, including iron and fiber. Combine these somewhat bitter greens with a flavorful vinaigrette for a tasty salad or sauté them with a touch of olive oil and garlic and pair with your favorite lean protein.
black rice
Once known as “forbidden rice,” thanks to its honored spot on the tables of emperors, this uniquely beautiful variety of rice is gaining popularity for its outstanding whole-grain nutrition. According to the Whole Grains Council, black rice contains antioxidants called anthocyanins in amounts similar to blueberries—approximately six times higher than the common brown or white rice varieties. Anthocyanins and other flavonoids like them have been inversely linked to coronary heart disease and are believed to have a positive effect on heart health. Use this unique rice as you would other varieties—in stir fries, risottos, soups, sides and even topping salads.
What will you be adding to your superfood list in 2015?

American Heart Association. Phytochemicals and Cardiovascular Disease.
Fruits & Veggies More Matters. Dandelion Greens: Nutrition. Selection. Storage.
Tufts University (2014). Discover the Digestive Benefits of Fermented Foods. Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter.
Whole Grains Council. Amaranth-May Grain of the Month.
Whole Grains Council. Health Benefits of Rice.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

TRX® Rip Trainer™ Workout with Creator Pete Holman

 Have you tried the TRX Rip Trainer yet? ACE Personal Trainer Pete McCall chats with creator Pete Holman about this versatile training tool and demonstrates a few fun and creative exercises that challenge everything from strength and balance to hand-eye coordination and power.

Source : American Council on Exercise

Friday, 23 January 2015

Core Combos Using the TRX Suspension Trainer and Ultimate Sandbags

Intrinsic strength is required to perform quality movement, and the TRX Suspension Trainer and the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag (USB) are perfect to begin building strength from the inside out. Here are some great combinations for the core that utilize these two pieces of equipment. These exercises, some of which are quite advanced, challenge all planes of motion. Practice, train, earn the right to progress the movements and add on until the complete combo is mastered. And remember that quality, not quantity, is your goal.
TRX Plank Series
TRX Plank
TRX Plank
TRX Plank
This combo features the plank, body saw, pike, crow and oblique hold, pressing around and back to plank. Break this up into individual TRX exercises—start with two, then three and so on as you gain strength. Try to move slowly through the combo to provide a greater strength and stability challenge.
Adjust the straps to mid-calf. Put your toes in and lay on your belly, facing away from the anchor point. With your wrists under shoulders, press up to plank (assume a forearm plank if a full plank is too challenging). Keep your shoulders engaged and don’t allow the hips or neck to sag as you press away from your hands. Begin to pull yourself back to the starting position and press your hips high and your keep your legs straight. Keep your hips pressing toward the sky as you bring the knees in to touch your elbows or triceps. Slowly bring one leg to meet the other, rotating at mid-back, and bring both knees to the elbow. Connect both knees, pressing your thighs together; with control, move your legs back to plank starting position. Repeat on the other side.
TRX Side Plank Series
TRX Side Plank
TRX Side Plank
Adjust the straps to mid-calf. Place your left foot in the strap and your right leg in front of the left in the same position as if it were in another strap. With your left elbow under the shoulder, press up into a side plank with your forearm, engaging the shoulder complex. Keep your shoulder engaged as you press against the ground to lift the hips; reach your right arm under your torso. As you reach, continue to try and get more height through hips, keeping your back extended and your neck long. Slowly move back to side plank and hold. While maintaining a strong, stable side plank, move the right leg to 90 degrees in front, keeping the leg straight. Hold and return to side plank. Repeat on the other side.
USB Triangle Pose With Reach
USB Triangle Pose
USB Triangle Pose
Stand with your legs wider than hip-distance apart and hold the USB Core Bag from the single handle or suitcase handle. Press the bag overhead with your left arm, keeping your shoulders down and engaged. Internally rotate your left foot slightly and externally rotate your right foot; face toward the side wall. With a strong arm, keep the USB overhead and your eyes on the USB as you begin to drive the left hip toward the left, reaching toward the opposite direction with right arm; keep the torso long and extended. Reach the right arm toward the floor, but only to the point where you can keep your torso extended. Hold this position for several breaths. Next, reach the right arm toward the wall and hold. Press strongly into the floor and raise to standing; adding a single-arm press at the top. Repeat on the other side.
USB Half-kneeling Halo With Press Out
USB Half kneeling halo
USB Half kneeling halo
USB Half kneeling halo
Place a pad or mat under your knees if you are exercising on a hard surface. Flex your toes and press them into the floor; engage your hips and keep your torso tall. Hold the USB Core Bag around the center, hands in front of your sternum. Lift the right elbow and bring the USB to the left side of your head; move the USB around the head, from the left side to the back, to the right side and back to the front. Don’t allow your head or torso to shift. Complete the circle and then press the USB straight out, being careful not to shift your body weight. Repeat halo sequence with press out and repeat on the other side.

By Elizabeth Andrews

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Everything You Need to Know About CrossFit

Looking to take your fitness to a whole new level? Sick and tired of your boring workout at the gym--the same one you've been doing for the last six months? For those that want to take their level of fitness to the near-superhuman, CrossFit is the workout that will get you there!



 What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a high-intensity fitness regime that has become popular all around the world. The workout became popular in 2000, and now more than 7,000 gyms teach it.

The workout is a combination of three things:
  1. High-intensity aerobic exercise
  2. Gymnastics
  3. Olympic weightlifting
The purpose: push your body to its limits and beyond. The workout pushes your strength, your flexibility and your endurance--both muscular and cardiovascular. By the time you stagger out of your intense workout, your entire body has been put through its paces.

The Anatomy of a CrossFit Class

The class begins with a warm-up--an absolutely essential part of the program. Without the warmup, the risk of injuries is much higher.

Following the warmup is an activity training segment, in which participants learn and practice one specific movement (i.e. handstand push-ups).

The WOD (Workout of the Day) takes up the majority of the class, pushing participants through a fast-paced workout that targets various muscles at a time. The workout is changed on a daily basis, so there's little risk of participants being bored.

Finally, the class ends with stretching and cooling down.

Why CrossFit?

There are four main reasons:
  1. Muscle Confusion: With the random ever-changing workouts, your muscles will never quite adapt to a single movement--ensuring continued muscle growth.
  2. Variety: Never get bored with your workout. Not only does each session offer a variety of movements, but you're just too exhausted to feel boredom.
  3. Fitness to the Extreme: No matter who you are--athlete, bodybuilder, Average Joe--you can take your fitness to the next level and beyond. The workouts are supremely intense, so you'll push every part of your body every time.
  4. Cheap: The workouts are meant to be done either at a CrossFit gym or at home, and there's a wide range of instructional materials and video that can help you get your WOD.
Is CrossFit for You?

Are you someone interested in going beyond just your traditional workout? Do you have a specific fitness goal that you want to reach in record time? Is your goal to push past your current limits and find your true potential as an athlete? If so, CrossFit may just be the right workout for you.

However, be warned:
  • CrossFit does increase your risk of injury, particularly among beginners.
  • Certain injuries are more common among those who do CrossFit, including shoulder injuries, Achilles injuries and joint problems.
  • CrossFit is extremely intense, and not everyone is able to do it.
  • Those with health problems should avoid very vigorous forms of exercise.
The fact that you are doing high-intensity multi-joint exercises means that the workouts are going to be much more dangerous. If you've never done strength training before, the Olympic-style movements will increase your risk of injury. Newbies should stay away from this workout until they have a base of strength training.

If, however, you have been lifting weights and training for at least a few months to a year, it may be a good idea to look into CrossFit. 
Source : Andy Peloquin NFPT-certified fitness trainer

The P90X System

P90X, or Power 90 Extreme, is a commercial home exercise regimen created by Tony Horton, known for a high level of intensity.Developed as a successor to the program called "Power 90", it is designed to take 90 days, and consists of a training program that uses cross-training and periodization, combined with a nutrition and dietary supplement plan.

Tony Horton

The system was developed by Tony Horton, Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler, Beachbody Fitness Advisor Steve Edwards, nutritionist Carrie Wyatt, Creative Director Ned Farr, and workout video director Mason Bendewald.

In 2002, Daikeler asked Horton to create a fitness program for people who were already fit. Daikeler hired Ned Farr to document the process of developing the new program. Horton consulted various fitness experts and experimented with several disciplines to develop the workout program.

Farr used a documentary approach when filming the infomercials, using raw home footage supplied by P90X graduates. "P90X: The Proof" infomercial won a Telly award in 2009 and "P90X: The Answer" infomercial won a Moxie award in 2010.

In 2010, P90X sales dropped off dramatically,however, it still represented half of Beachbody’s $430 million revenue in 2010 and has sold over 4.2 million copies to date.

In 2011, the sequel to P90X was released, P90X2. Also a 90-day workout regimen, P90X2 focuses on an applied sports science called Muscle Integration. Instead of working one muscle group at a time, P90X2 uses resistance on unstable platforms to engage more muscles with each movement.

In December 2013, P90X3 was released and featured 30 minute workouts as opposed to hour-long ones. P90X3 includes 16 routines, and includes yoga, mixed martial arts, pilates, and plyometrics with upper and lower body workouts.

P90X uses the term "muscle confusion" in their advertising to refer to their training methods.Muscle confusion is said to prevent the body from adapting to exercises over time, resulting in continual improvement without plateau.

There are eight programs associated with the Power 90 name: P90, Power 90, Power 90 Master Series, P90X, P90X+, P90X One on One, P90X2, and P90X3.
Program overview

P90X is a 90-day program that combines a variety of exercise techniques, including strength training, cardio,

Exercises overview
Standard home gym equipment recommended for use with P90X: Yoga blocks, yoga mat, dumbbells, pull-up/chin-up bar, push-up handles, gloves, and chair

Standard home gym equipment recommended for use with P90X: yoga blocks, yoga mat, dumbbells, resistance bands, pull-up/chin-up bar, push-up handles, heart rate monitor, and body fat tester. A chair, plastic plate, and wall are also things you may need.

The P90X program cycle lasts 13 weeks, exercising six days per week. The program has three "rotations" or emphases, called "classic," "lean" and "doubles," that the individual selects according to their personal goals. There are a total of 12 DVD workouts included with the program; each targets different skills and muscles. Most of the workouts are less than an hour in duration, although the abdominal workout ("Ab Ripper X") is performed three times per week, after six of the rotating workout/s .

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How to Increase Your Stamina and Endurance

When you think of "stamina", probably the first thing that comes to your mind is your cardio. You immediately think of running or jogging, or perhaps cycling. But did you know your cardio stamina is only a small part of the picture?



Stamina and endurance both refer to your muscles' ability to work for sustained periods of time. Running is a great way to boost your stamina, but it's not the only way. Here are a few more:

1. Rest Less

The average weightlifter rests for between 30 and 90 seconds between sets, but that only helps to build strength, not stamina. If you want to push your endurance to the next level, give up your break time. Push yourself hard, and only give yourself a few seconds of rest between eat set. However, instead of doing all sets of one muscle, work out various muscle groups in the same day:
Day 1: Chest, Back, Lower Back
Day 2: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps, Abs
Day 3: Traps, Legs, Obliques
Do circuits of exercises, one for each muscle, and don't rest between each movement. It will get your heart pounding and push your stamina hard!

2. Combine Cardio and Strength

If you want to increase your stamina, do your cardio on the same day as you lift weights. Many people split days, focusing on muscle-building one day and cardio the next. Instead, push yourself on the weights or bodyweight training for 30 to 40 minutes, and follow it up with a good cardio workout for 30 to 45 minutes. It will push your heart to its max, and you'll boost your stamina greatly.

3. Go Plyo

Plyometric exercises use more than one muscle group at once, and the full-body workouts you can do will be excellent for your stamina. Try:
  • Military Presses with a Squat
  • Lunge Curls
  • Curls with Arnold Press
All of these exercises shred multiple muscles at once, meaning you use more energy at a time. The more energy you use, the more your heart is worked out.

4. Lift Fast

Instead of the slow, steady pace of weightlifting you're accustomed to, speed up your movements.

WARNING: Only do this if you are an experienced weightlifter, and have mastered the proper forms.

Don't just curl, squat, or bench press slowly, but do the exercises at double speed. It won't give you the same kind of focused muscle-building, but it will help you to reach your goal of increasing your heart's ability to produce more energy.

5. Switch it Up

If you do the same routineevery day for weeks, your body will slowly become accustomed to it. It will produce the right amount of energy for the right muscles for your workout, and you'll never make progress.

Routine is the enemy of progress when it comes to training, so it's time to switch things up. Change your routine at least once every 6 to 8 weeks, both your cardio and your weight training. It will push your body hard, and will force you to keep working.

6. Use Compound Movements

Movements like leg extensions, bicep curls, and tricep kickbacks are all good for isolating the muscles you want to build, but they won't demand as much from your body. Instead, focus on doing all compound exercises that use multiple muscle groups, exercises like:
  • Bench presses
  • Military presses
  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Arnold presses
These exercises work multiple muscles, so they place a greater strain on your heart--a good thing if you want to improve your stamina! 
Source :  Andy Peloquin /Fitday 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Why Killer Ab Workouts Won't Get You Ripped

One of the biggest misconceptions among gym-goers is that killer ab workouts are an important component of gut-wrenching exercise. Television is littered with infomercials that claim their "new" version of the infamous ab-blaster will shred your midsection, giving you washboard abs. The truth of the matter is that performing an extraneous number of crunches won't get you ripped. Conventional wisdom points toward intense bouts of abdominal exercise as being the answer to helping you gain the flashy six-pack you so often see in the movies, but cardiovascular exercise must be performed to burn the excess layer of fat engulfing your midsection.



Understanding the Benefits of Cardiovascular Activity
It's important to realize your abs are exercised during most workout activities. It's true that abdominal exercise specifically targets the muscles in your midsection, but other forms of exercise force the same muscles to contract, fueling strength development. A decent number of gym-goers will do whatever it takes to avoid engaging intense bouts of cardio, but these modes of exercise will help you achieve your goal of attaining a trimmer midsection much faster than any other form of exercise. Cardio activity will also help you burn fat. You don't necessarily need to run five miles per day on a treadmill to shred excess body fat. Other cardiovascular exercises, such as swimming, can help you reach your goal.

Benefits of Killer Ab Workouts
Killer ab workouts won't get you ripped, but that doesn't mean they're not beneficial. Maintaining a strong midsection is important for fitness longevity. Believe it or not, you use your abs in practically every aspect of your everyday life. From sitting in a desk chair at the office to walking down the street for a cup of coffee, you are constantly using your abdominal muscles. Intense ab exercise demands frequent repetition of various movements that strengthen the core muscles. Execution of killer ab workouts can improve your posture and enable you to better perform other types of exercise, such as running and weightlifting. However, a 2011 study conducted by the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at Southern Illinois University proves that repeated ab exercise has minimal effect on reducing the presence of subcutaneous fatty tissues in the body.

Selecting the Most Effective Ab Exercises
You don't need to dial an 800-number or spend an hour on an exercise mat doing crunches to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Strengthening your abs requires proper execution of a variety of different complex exercises, which can be performed either at home or at the gym. For effective results, try performing a four-exercise ab circuit that includes the pike walk, glute bridge with abduction, straight-arm side bridge and Hindu pushups. These exotic-sounding exercises will help build muscle in the core and back and also strengthen hip joints. To perform Hindu pushups, place your feet shoulder-width apart with your buttocks arched in the air. Move your head toward the ground while bending your elbows. Be sure to keep your legs straight as you lower your hips to the ground. Push up, lifting your head toward the starting position.

If you are seeking a more advanced workout check out TRX and some of the fantastic Core Strengthening and Shredding work outs form anywhere TRX Workout for beginners

Source John Shea Fitness Articles

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Medicine-Ball Clean

How To Do A Box Jump (without face planting) Plus Advanced Box Jump Variations

It's not easy to try new movements or equipment in the gym, which I personally know. But when amazing strength and hardcore improvements become more important than obeying your comfort zone, then I can help instruct you. Box jumps are an explosive movement that trains your fast twitch muscles, give you phenomenal speed training and will make you feel POWERFUL ! Also, the equipment you need is almost as available in the gym as the 2-pound dumbbells. There the plyometric box is, just sitting there with a quirky grin, waiting for you to jump on it.

How-To Do Box Jumps
  1. Decide on the height of the box you will jump on. If you are lacking courage, start with a shorter box. In Crossfit, 20" is a standard height for girls and 24" for guys. Be brave.
  2. Face the box and mentally tell it what is going to happen. (I am going to jump on you Mo-Fo!)
  3. Stand about 12" away from the box (or where ever feels warm and coziest for you) 
  4. Start with step-ups. This is to warm up your hips and teach you the height of the box. Just alternate each leg stepping up to standing with both legs. Jump or step down. Do 5-10 on each side. 
  5. Jump on it like you mean it. When you feel ready, bend your knees a little and explode up to jump on that box! You will have so much fun, you will want to use the box at every workout, promise
  6. When jumping down, listen up! Your achilles tendon will NOT want you to jump up and down quickly. You want to extend your hips at the top of the box and then jump/step down to avoid an injury of monumental proportions.
As a useful tip! Remember that box jumps have the potential to put you in a face plant and or scrape/cut your shins if you don't make the jump. In fact, my good friend Adam had to get stitches from an failed box jump landing. Two things to avoiding this happening is to mentally focus on each jump, don't let your mind wander. When your mind wonders away from the task at hand, it makes you sloppy. And no one wants to cringe as you perform sloppy box jumps. The second is to know when your legs are jello. Shaking legs do not make for good box jumps. Push yourself but don't overdo it.

Advanced Box Jump Variations:
 Once you get the basic box jump movement down, and want more explosive movements, try these:

  1. Box jump overs. You don't jump onto the box at all, instead you jump over it like a frog (a really large, mean, burly frog).
  2. Burpee box jumps. Do a burpee but instead of clapping your hands at the end of the burpee, you jump up onto the box 
  3. Side jumps on the box. Face sideways to the box, with your right leg close, then jump to the right and land on the box. Switch sides and do your left. This requires some coordination and a little faith.

Inspiration for box jump variations?

 Source : Steph Kinzer GrassFed Strength 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Total-body Circuit Workout

Integrate the five functional movement patterns into your next workout with this powerful circuit created by ACE. Squat, lunge, push, pull and rotate your way to a total-body burn using portable equipment you can easily use in a gym or at home. Improve your strength, balance, power and mobility using resistance bands, dumbbells, battle ropes, a TRX® suspension trainer and medicine balls. For maximum effect, perform movements in individual rounds for 30 seconds each followed by 15 seconds of rest.

 Source : By the American Council on Exercise

Thursday, 15 January 2015

6 Exercises to Improve Agility

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, weekend warrior or grandfather-in-training, agility training should be an important part of your workout routine. Agility is the ability to move quickly and change direction with ease. This describes both physical and mental agility. As we age, or just become complacent in our daily routines, both our mental and physical agility suffers. Here are six exercises that you can do to be quick on your toes and sharp as a tack.
Ladder Drills
Ladder Drill
Using an agility ladder, select a method of moving through the ladder. For example, you might start with a high-knee march forward through each box, and then progress to a lateral scissor if you’re more advanced. To target your upper body, move through the ladder with your hands while maintaining a push-up position. Once you have this move mastered, speed it up and recite the words to your favorite song, the alphabet or the pledge of allegiance as you move through the ladder. It might seem simple, but this move will get your heart rate up and your brain working.
Hurdle Drills
Hurdle Drill
Using either 6- or 12-inch hurdles (these can be cones, yoga blocks or whatever you have on hand), set five to 10 hurdles up in a row, parallel to each other. Moving laterally, start by going over the first hurdle with a high step and pausing in a stork stance before moving back to the starting position. Then move over the first two hurdles, pause and go back to the start. Continue this until all five to 10 hurdles have been traveled (1, 1 2, 1 2 3, 1 2 3 4, etc.). Count your hurdles out loud (both ascending and descending numbers) and remember to pause on one leg before moving back to the beginning. Also, don’t forget to switch directions. When you become more advanced, speed up the hurdle steps and take out the pause.
Agility Balls
Agility Ball
Using small agility balls, bounce them either to a partner or against a wall if you’re working out solo. Because the agility ball shape will send the bounce in varying directions, use a safe space where you won’t run into anything or anyone. Practice catching the ball with two hands, then with your dominant hand only, and lastly, progress to catching it with your non-dominant hand. Hand-eye coordination activities help increase mental stimulation and chasing this tiny tool around is great for the heart and legs. I dare you to not smile while doing this one!
Balloon Drills
Balloon Drill
Using two different colored balloons, pick an order in which you will contact them (e.g., yellow then blue). Either alone or with a partner, hit the balloons in their selected order while keeping them in the air. For more of a challenge, perform one bodyweight squat in between each balloon contact, and then hit the next balloon. If you’re really feeling frisky, try doing a burpee in between each balloon contact. Remember, hit the balloons in the same order and don’t let them touch the ground. This is a great drill to do with your children or grandchildren; for added fun, increase the number and color of balloons.
Cone Drills
Cone drill
Cone Pattern
Set seven cones up in the pattern shown. Using the letters M, N, I, T, Y, select an order in which you will create those letters with your pattern of moving through the cones. Touch each cone that creates the letter as you move through each pattern at a pace that is appropriate to you. Depending on your fitness level, you may choose to walk, skip, jog, sprint or shuffle. After you have completed each letter with your movement pattern, change the order of the letters and try it again. For an increased cardiovascular challenge, try facing the same direction as you create each letter and move the cones farther apart. If you’re working with a partner and like a little competition, time yourselves going through the pattern, or trade off turns for each letter.
Medicine Ball Drills
Medicine ball drill
Using a moderately sized medicine ball (a weight that is appropriately sized for your fitness level), stand facing a concrete (or otherwise stable) wall about 2 to 5 feet away, depending on the length of your arms.  Throw the medicine ball in a chest pass toward the wall as you move laterally 10 to 20 feet. Reverse directions and move laterally back to the starting position as you do the medicine ball chest passes against the wall. Make sure to do one chest pass for each sideways step. For added difficulty, move quickly in a shuffle and squat down to an athletic stance. Quickly change direction at the end and return to the starting position. Keeping your feet from crossing each other as you concentrate on catching an object will increase your cognitive activity as well as improve your cardiovascular health. 

Source Jacqueline Ratliff, MS, CSCS / Ace Fitness

30-minute Ultimate Sandbag Workout

Struggle to find time to train? 

When life gets busy, the first thing many people drop is their workout. “I don’t have time. I’m too busy.” Many people believe that unless they have an hour to work out they might as well just skip their workout and wait until they have time. The irony.
Long-time fitness pro and educator Elizabeth Andrews blows this argument out of the water with a full-body workout using a 25-40 pound Ultimate Sandbag Power Bag

Takes less than 30 minutes. Using Ultimate Sandbags (USB) not only humbles you, they also challenge your strength, stability, balance and mobility, while stressing the neuromuscular system and working the muscles in all planes of motion. In other words, you get a lot of bang for your buck! And you know what that means: Efficiency, with a high metabolic demand. A win-win!
Lateral Lunge to Overhead Press With Single Leg Balance (10/8/6/4 ladder concept)
Lateral Lunge to Overhead Press With Single Leg Balance
Grab the outside handles and deadlift the USB to the tall position. With both feet facing forward, step to one side and assume a lunge position, keeping the spine tall, shoulders packed and squared (pulling shoulder blades are pulled down and back, using the lats to help stabilize), and the lower tail bone down toward ground. Press off the floor to return to the starting position, cleaning the bag as you move through the pattern. From the starting position, press the bag overhead to extension, bringing one leg up at the same time; hold and balance for one beat. With complete control, lower the bag and leg at the same time. Repeat the pattern on the opposite side. In this sequence, the ladder concept of 10/8/6/4 will be applied. In this case, you’ll start with 10 on the right side, then 10 on the left side. You’ll then completely 8 on each side, then 6 on each side and so on until the ladder is complete.
High Pull (30 seconds)
High pull
Grab the neutral handles and begin in a deadlift position, hips hinging back behind the heels and the core braced. Explode from the hips, trying to “jump” the USB to chest height, with elbows pointing to the sky. Keep the chest lifted and the core braced, being careful not to flex the back. The bag should stay close to the body throughout entire movement.
Rotational Lunge With Hold at Bottom (8-10 reps on each side)
Rotational Lunge With Hold at Bottom
Grab the neutral handles and stand with the shoulders packed and arms hang­ing freely. Look straight ahead as you step back in a direct line of hip, pressing the ball of the foot into the ground. At the same time, rotate the USB over the front side of the lead leg. Keep the arms hanging—don’t pull on the USB. Slowly lower the back leg and hover the knee right above the ground. Keep the core braced and hold for 15 seconds. Keep the spine tall, the shoul­ders packed and eyes forward. Prevent yourself from leaning forward at the hips by engaging the glutes on the rear leg, which will help increase your stability. Push off the rear leg and bring the USB back to center, maintaining control throughout the full movement. Do eight to 10 repetitions on one leg and then repeat on the opposite leg.
High Pull (30 seconds)
High pull
Repeat the movement described above.
Up/Downs Shouldering the Bag With Alternating Legs (6/4/2 ladder concept)
Up/Downs Shouldering the Bag With Alternating Legs
Up/Downs Shouldering the Bag With Alternating Legs
Clean the bag to the right shoulder. Step back with the same leg and drop the knee to the floor. Step back with the left leg, tucking the toes under, to a tall kneeling  position. Step up from the floor with the right leg and complete the pattern with the left leg. Repeat the pattern on the opposite side. Use the ladder concept of 6/4/2 …six on one side, six on the other side then move to four on one side, four on the other and so on until the ladder is complete.
Rotational High Pull (30 seconds)
Rotational High Pull
Grab the neutral handles and begin in the deadlift position, hips hinging back behind the heels and the core braced. Rotate the right foot internally and lower the bag to about knee height. Next, explode through the left hip, finishing through the middle as you extend, and then to the other side and back. Keep the back tall, loading the hip through the movement as you maintain a braced core.

Source By Elizabeth Andrews /Ace