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Category Archives: Fitness

Things to Avoid when Performing Exercise for the Abdominals

1. Do not use a machine or contraption of any kind to exercise the abs, body weight and medicine balls are more than sufficient. No contraption or machine will ever work as well as a perfectly performed curl-up performed on the floor.

2. Do not pull on your neck with your hands while performing curl-ups this may cause excessive strain on the muscles and vertebrae and prevents the training of the neck flexor muscles. Rather place the fingertips on the ears.

3. Do not perform double straight leg lowering exercises for the lower abdominals and never allow them to be thrown down by a partner. This action can strain the lower back and actually stretch the abdominals and make them weaker. Rather perform double-knees to the chest in the lying position: hold the legs at 90 degrees of hip and knee flexion and then gently peel the tail bone off the floor (not the entire back) to cause a posterior tilting of the pelvis. Also, try performing scissor actions with the legs, but only if the low back remains flat against the floor.

4. Do not hoist your body up by throwing the arms and shoulders forward. Rather imagine having double-backed tape stuck to your spine and the back of your head and peeling the back slowly off the floor. Starting by peeling the back of the head, then the neck and then upper back off the floor. If you find it impossible to curl up to a 60-degree angle from the floor with the fingers touching the ears, try performing curl-ups with hands on the floor by the sides, pointing straight ahead or folded across the chest. Even laying propped up on a gradient of some kind will help, as this moves the center of gravity further towards the muscle origin, making the exercise easier.

5. Do not perform curl-ups with a straight back. This will only focus on the hip flexor muscles (iliopsoas) and may strain the lower back. Keep the spine as round as possible both during the upward movement and the downward movement.

6. Do not perform curl-ups with a “hole” in the lower back – this may strain the back, stretch the abdominals and actually make them weaker. Before starting the exercise, perform a drawing in maneuver and tilt the pelvis posteriorly by pressing the lower back into the floor. (Imagine trying to squash a grape under the low back to make sure the lower back remains flat throughout the exercise).

7. Do not perform curl-ups with excessively bent knees, especially if you have tight hip flexors and an excessive forward tilt of the pelvis. It is a common misconception that flexing the hips puts the hip flexor muscles “on slack” making them less able to contribute to the exercise, and targeting the abdominals more. (This assumption is false since the iliacus muscle spans a single joint and can work quite efficiently even near full hip flexion). Repeatedly, exercising in this manner may cause these muscles to tighten and shorten even more. Flex (bend) at the knee and hip only enough to allow the lower back to flatten into the floor.

8. Do not perform curl-ups on an excessively soft or springy surface e.g. a mattress, trampoline (?) or thick foam mat as this will assist in the exercise or make the flattening of the lower back more difficult.

9. Do not fix the feet under a bed or have anyone hold them when performing multiple curl-ups as this will allow for a majority of the sit-up to be caused by the hip flexor (groin) muscles. If the abdominals fatigue or are not strong enough to hold the back flat, the hip flexors will cause an forward tilt of the pelvis and the development of a “hole” in the lower back as discussed in 6.

10. Do not avoid doing abdominal exercises. Many exercisers are reluctant to perform abdominal exercises because they experience more discomfort in their neck and lower back than in their abdominals.

Know the Mistakes When Doing a Workout Program

1. Impatience

Impatience is probably most people’s worst enemy when it comes to staying on track with your workout plan. It is so easy to get distracted, especially if you feel the recent progress with your exercise has been slow. You must be aware that physical training won’t do miracles over night. Only faitful and diligent exercising and workout, day after day, week after week, month after month will prove results.

Looking back; maybe you’re one who hasn’t trained or exercised for years, maybe not at all. How many years did it take to put you in the physical shape and fitness condition you were in before you started regular exercising? Do not expect results in one week – take a look back and try to feel the difference after 3 to 6 months of exercising. If you are that patient, you’ll definitely see results of your workout effort.

2. Expectations too high

If you expect to become a Joe Jordan or a Naumi Chambell after a few weeks of exercises, you’ll get disappointed. The purpose with your physical workout is to make yourself feel better and give you a better and richer life, not to compare yourself with others, whoever they are.

The measurement stick should always be the fitness and shape you were in before you started the exercising, and every improvements you do, are with references to this. If you do that, your expectations to the results of your exercise and workouts will be realistic, and you’ll be amazed of how good you really can be.

3. Getting Exhausted

Especially in the start up phase of a training program, some people are exercising so hard that they simply get exhausted or burned out. If you start your training program exceeding your present capabilities, and if you have not been exercising since you were a kid – you probably won’t be able to jogg or workout for the next 14 days.

Your muschles will hurt so much and your legs will be so stiff after your mega exercise, that you have to lay down and wait til you are able to exercise again. This is not very motivating. Start out the exercising very carefully and lite – that is especially important if you have not done much training before.

4. Doing exercises the wrong way

This can really be damaging, especially with anarobic exercises. If you are training at a fitness center you should make sure you’ve got all the instructions you need from the trainer before you do any workout. One little mistake in your exercise can damage your back for a long time, and even permanently.

The best is to have a personal trainer that can follow you through thick and thin throughout the exercise program but for most people this alternative is too expensive. So my advice is; if you are in even the slightest doubt of how to do an exercise, simply ask, ask and ask. The training staff is there to help you with your exercising, that’s their job.

5. Chosing an exercise program that is not exciting enough

I have always been fascinated about people I have seen running up and down roads and streets day after day or people that do all their exercise on trim cycles. How boring must that be? Well, we are all different and have different preferences when it comes to what activities we enjoy. Some people love to run for hours – and that’s fine, let them do it.

I prefer more enjoyable sports like tennis, badminton, football, smashball, squash or training together with other people. Dancing is also a great fat burner. The point is: Chose an exercise plan that include your favorite activities.

If you like and enjoy what you’re doing day in and day out, you’ll be much more likely to stay in the training program for a long time. And the longer you stay in it, the more you’ll enjoy it.

Cardio Workouts Guide

Plyometrics

If you have never heard of plyometrics, then you are missing out on one of the most effective high-intensity cardio techniques there is. These explosive exercises are designed to strengthen fast twitch muscle fibers, but are also excellent for improving anaerobic cardiovascular endurance.

Some of the best exercises include platform jumps, side-to-side box jumps, weighted explosions, frog jumps, vertical explosions, and depth jumps.

Sprints

If you’re looking for almost immediate results then you should consider using sprints. Sprints are very challenging, but can also be very rewarding. You can look forward to lean muscle gains in the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. In addition, sprints will accelerate fat loss, and help improve athleticism.

If you’re just starting out then I recommend you begin with the traditional sprint. The traditional variation is performed on flat ground at distances that do not exceed 60 yards. Anything further will deteriorate running form and decrease the intensity level.

Interval Sprints

Once the traditional sprints gets easier, then I recommend you use interval sprints. Interval training utilizes both energy systems in combination, which results in a massive fat burning effect. The best way to perform intervals is on a track. You will start by jogging the straight portion of the track, and once you reach the curve, break out into a 100 percent sprint around the curve. Repeat this interval motion for about 4 laps.

To increase the difficultly level, you can perform more laps or just increase the pace. There are many other high-intensity cardio training exercises you can use such agility training, body weight circuits, and hill sprints.

There are many options for you! The only thing you need to do now is GET STARTED! Don’t wait another minute, and start taking your training seriously.

FAQ about Strength Training

How many reps and sets should I do?

How many reps and sets you do is completely dependent upon your goals and strength training method of choice. For example- if your goal is to lose weight and tone up your muscles, then you should consider doing 3 sets of 12 reps. If your goal is to increase muscle size, you will want to continually increase your weight size and consider a pyramid method for reps and sets.

How fast should I lift weights?

When you first learn about strength training, learn about proper speed. I see a lot of people lifting weights way to fast. A good speed is somewhere between 2-4 seconds on the lift and 3-4 seconds on the lowering phase. Your muscles aren’t really doing the work if you move faster than that. Momentum is.

Should I workout everyday?

How often you choose to workout is up to you. I always advise beginners to start slowly. A very important rule is to allow your muscles at least 24 hours of rest before lifting weights again. So for example, if you work your biceps today, let them rest tomorrow. I know you will be eager to strength train everyday, but those muscle fibers need time to relax and repair. Strength training beginners must rest just like the pros! A good program will include several days of strength training, several days of rest, and proper exercises for each major muscle group.

Guide to Start a Walking Program

The most important piece of equipment you will need is a good pair of walking or running shoe. Most shoe stores and sporting goods stores should be able to supply you with a good selection.  You may also want to think about getting yourself a pedometer. Pedometers are handy little gadgets that can measure your distance and time and help you keep track of your progress.

Why am I walking?

Now that you have your equipment and are ready to go, it might be nice to know why you are starting a walking program. The health benefits of walking are many and include the following:

  • Helps with weight loss.
  • Helps to reduce blood pressure
  • Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Relieves stress
  • Boosts overall energy levels
  • Strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Studies have shown that walking relieves depression and anxiety
  • Strengthens your body
  • Burns almost the same amount of calories as running

How should I start?

Since walking uses almost all 650 of your muscles it is a very good idea to warm up before you begin a walk. This will loosen up your body and help to avoid injury.

How long should I walk?

You should build up to walking for about one hour. Your current fitness level will determine the length and time of your first walk. Some people will only be able to walk around the block, others will able to walk the full hour. Do what you feel comfortable with and build from that point. Keep a log to measure your progress. As you become fitter, increase the pace and distance.

Personally, I like to measure my walks in distance. A pedometer will be of great assistance. Measuring your walk in distance helps to compensate for days when you might walk a little slower or faster. After your first few walks try to achieve a brisk pace where you may be puffing a little but you can still talk. Remember, there is not much difference in the amount of energy (calories) expended by walking or running a specified distance.

After you have finished your walk don’t forget to cool down. Try to spend about 5 minutes walking slowly. This will allow your heart, lungs and blood flow to return to normal gradually. This decreases strain on your heart and can help to prevent muscle strain and soreness.

Great Workout Tips

# Tone up on the Treadmill.

Save time at the gym or even at home, with this 10 minute cardio/sculpt session. Hop on a treadmill holding a three to five pound treadmill in each hand, and set the speed to a brisk walk. It’s a great upper body workout and gets your rear going. do this two or 3 times a week. As you improve work up to four-minute sets.

# Chart your progress.

Continue to motivate yourself by using something to measure your progress by. Write down: Flexibility, cardio and weights. Set goals for each of these and them grade yourself.Do this at least 5-6 times a year to see where you are in your goals. You will see improvement!

# Power up your runs.

Add wall sits to the end of every run that will build up and strengthen your quads, hams and glutes. It will also improve your speed and endurance. Lean against a wall until your knees are bent at 45 degrees. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds: Work up to doing 10 sets. Challenge yourself by adding heel raises. Life your left heel and then the right, then lift both at once.

# All-in-one Toner.

Try a side-step squat with a ball that works your arms, abs,torso,legs,inner thighs and butt. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart holding a 3-4 pound medicine ball in your hands. Bend your arms up so that the ball is at eye level over your right shoulder. As you bring the balls towards your left knee, step out with your left leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do 10-15 reps and repeat on the other leg.

# Break out the snow shovel.

If you are lucky enough to have snow, don’t pay someone to shovel it for you. Get to work yourself. Shoveling snow not only burns 400 calories per hour, Shoveling snow develops muscular endurance and power. Be sure to be very careful in the slippery snow and bend from you knees and hips not your back.

# Work out while working.

I am sure you have heard of this one, Sit on a stability ball while working at your desk. This will strengthen your core. Try and squeeze in shoulder presses and ab crunches.

# Jump Rope.

One of the best cardio workouts is jump-rope. Doing the following you will burn about 26 calories a minute. Do a basic jump for 5 minutes and then jump twice as high and turn the ropes twice as fast so it passes under your feet twice before you land. This takes timing and patience. You will get in shape just by working at it.

# You cannot be perfect.

You don’t have to be perfect to get results. Follow the 80/20 plan. 80 percent of the time eat well and exercise regularly. For the remaining 20, let yourself eat at holidays or lunch with friends. If you think it is all or nothing you are less likely to stick with it.

# Make over your running routine.

Unless you’re training for a marathon, skip long, slow distance running. Sprinting builds more muscle. Add a few 10 to 60 second sprint to your run. Slow down just long enough to catch your breath then do it again.

# Don’t eliminate carbs.

Your body needs them for energy. If you need added energy for a workout, eat some carbs about an hour before. Your best bets are low fat cheese with crackers, trail mix, or a half a PB&J sandwich.

Abdominal Exercises Myths

Myth 1

Just doing some midsection exercises can reduce your “love handles”.

Fact

You cannot reduce fat from a certain targeted area of your body just by using exercise alone.

And the abdominal area is no exception.

So if you want to get a flat stomach and to reveal your abs, losing the fat covering them is the way to go.

And the only way to do this is to lose fat proportionately from your entire body by burning more calories than you consume.

How? By doing these two things:

1) Have a healthy and balanced permanent diet: dark green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole wheat and whole grain products, non-fat dairy products, fish, poultry breast, lean red meat, egg white.

Yes, you should cut out all sugar, soda, non-whole grain products and saturated fats: these aliments should only be a reward for achieving a goal, not a habit!

2) Start exercising

Aerobic and weight training will raise your metabolic rate. In result, your body will burn more calories.

* aerobic exercising

3 times per week, practice an exercise that keeps your heart rate elevated for at least 30-45 minutes (ex: walking, running, cycling, swimming, aerobics, etc)

* weight training

Alternate days of aerobics with weight training. You will build muscles that will burn more calories, even when at rest!

Myth 2

You have to do tons of crunches.

Fact

Overuse of crunches will only shorten your abs, pull your head forward and gives you a bad posture. Do you really want to looks like Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame?

Any standing exercise that will contract your abs will do but you should specifically target your lower back to strengthen the muscles that support your spine.

The easiest exercise is sucking the gut in, also known as the “stomach vacuum” :

1. Exhale. Suck your gut in.

2. Maintain the contraction for 10 to 20 seconds.

3. Repeat 10 to 15 times, as often as you like throughout the day (for example while in the shower, sitting at your desk, while driving or in the bus).

Effective Exercise Regimen

The most effective exercise regimen includes both strength training and cardiovascular (aerobic) training in a consistent, regular program.

– 2-4 days of strength training and

– 2-5 days of aerobic activity; or

– 3-4 days of circuit training.

Every safe and effective exercise program should consist of three elements. In order, they are:

– Warm Up

– Work Out

– Cool Down

Warm Up

Always warm up before exercising. People who do not warm up before exercising are the ones who usually end up sustaining injuries. Protect your neck, back, spine, and joints. Get the blood and juices flowing and wake up your muscles gradually through a series of stretches and preliminary sets using reduced resistance. This is one time when “going through the motions” can be extremely beneficial.

Strength Work Out

Perform at least one set of 8-12 reps to near fatigue for each muscle group in the body (chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs, thighs, hamstrings, and calves) a minimum of two times per week. Your goal should be to work up to doing three sets (increasing the resistance for each successive set) with 30-60 seconds of rest between each set.

Start out slowly.. By doing additional sets or combinations of sets you can realize even greater strength and body shaping gains. Following are some basic guidelines useful for all strength training exercises:

– Perform each exercise smoothly and evenly through the whole range of motion in a slow, controlled manner. Never jerk or lunge.

– Breathe. Exhale against the resistance; inhale on the return. Do not hold your breath.

– Always resist the Power Bands back to the starting position for each exercise. This provides a training effect in both directions.

– Increase the resistance for successive sets by 5%-10%. In general, increase the resistance when 12 repetitions can be completed in proper form; decrease the resistance when less than 8 reps can be completed.

– Replace fluids lost while exercising by drinking water at regular intervals during exercise. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink.

– Rest a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 96 hours between training sessions using the same muscle groups.

Aerobic Work Out

An exercise is classified as aerobic if the oxygen supply is sufficient to meet the oxygen demand of the working muscles during the exercise. When this occurs, it’s possible to continue the exercise for prolonged periods of time (12 minutes or more). Another aspect of aerobic exercise is that it engages the large muscle groups, principally those of the legs, continuously over the length of the exercise. Brisk walking, running, jogging, cycling, rowing, jumping rope, etc. are examples of aerobic exercise.

You can achieve an aerobic training effect by performing aerobic exercise for a minimum of 12 minutes during which your heart rate has been elevated to within your training range. The training range is between 65% and 80% of your Age-Predicted Maximum Heart Rate (approximately 220 minus your age). Remember: It takes a few minutes of exercise to elevate your heart rate into the training range and this time does not count toward the minimum 12 minutes.

Circuit Training Work Out

Circuit training consists of a series of strength training exercises, commonly interspersed with short episodes of aerobic exercise, all done one after the other with as little time between each exercise as possible.

The object is to perform strength training exercises on the major muscle groups while maintaining an effective aerobic training level. Circuit training takes significantly less time to achieve results comparable to separate programs of strength training and aerobics.

Since lack of time is the number one reason people give for failing to start or maintain a regular exercise program, circuit training is a method that makes sense. And SmartGYM, with its revolutionary new design that allows simultaneous aerobic and strength training, is the ideal circuit training machine.

Cool Down

Never quit exercising suddenly. Instead, decrease your intensity gradually and finish up with some stretching movements to allow your heart rate to come back down to normal, nice and easy. This can help to reduce muscle cramping and post exercise muscle pain.

Tips on Bodybuilding Training

1. More than just looks : Realize exercise is more than just having a great physique. It is about strengthening the mind and heart and soul.
2. Keep the big picture in mind : You will have good days and bad days. Keep a one day at a time attitude.
3. Be sold out! No matter if you are a competitive bodybuilder or just one who does it for a hobby, be sold out for life to exercise.
4. Leave your ego at a door. This one will be hard for most of you to do. But to be a champion, you have to get rid of your ego. Your mind is your biggest competitor. In order to improve on your health you need to not be self-serving.
5. Knowledge is power : If you think you know everything, forget, stop right now. You never will know everything. Continue to learn all the time. Most importantly, share your knowledge.
6. Have fun : Most people in bodybuilding are wound way too tight. Loosen up a little.
7. Ask for help : If you do not know something, ask someone who does.
8. More is not better : Put time limits on your workouts.
9. Have variety : Never be afraid to change your exercise routine around.
10. Have synergy : Incorporate all areas of fitness. Low body fat levels are more important than the size of your biceps.

Lower Back Extension Exercise

If you sit on a chair all day, you may be experiencing tight or sore back muscles. To eliminate these nagging minor pains, perform this exercise 2-3 times per week consisting of 2 sets of 15 repetitions. This is an exercise also recommended by chiropractors and doctors. I’ve also seen variations of this exercise done in Pilates and Yoga. If you do constantly have back pains, it is advisable that you consult with your doctor before attempting this exercise.

Method of Performance

Lie down on a mat or carpet with your stomach to the floor, keep your arms and hands flat at your sides and legs extended like in a standing position, but lying down. Slowly raise yourself up from your torso as far as you can go but do not over-extend. Just to the point where you feel comfortable and you are receiving the maximum benefit. Remember to tighten your buttocks when lifting yourself from the ground and concentrate on working the lower back. Now slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Don’t forget to breathe. Do about 2 sets slowly consisting of 12-15 reps, 2 to 3 times per week.

Variations

This exercise can also be done on vertical benches or holding onto extra free weights. The exercise done on a vertical bench is much more difficult. Personally, I do not feel that it is necessary to perform this exercise on a vertical bench since doing it on the floor is just as effective and safer. Using a vertical bench may also put undue strain on your back.