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Category Archives: Fitness

Correct Workout Music

Start the correct way: you need to know that the very first song on the set sets the pace and tone for the entire workout. Many people have a hard time starting a workout. When you begin with a song that actually motivates you means that the entire workout will actually be great. When you have the correct tempo, you pick it up as you continue.

Mix: it is essential that you use different tunes since this will deal with the monotony that one single piece of music can actually have. The best songs can be finny, nostalgic, uplifting, mid tempo, fast and so on as long as they are able to blend well. Humor keeps the whole workout interesting.

Personalize: if there is a song that you really associate with in a positive way, then you should include it. It could be a song that reminds of something really pleasant or a time that you were very happy.

Pop is good: according to different studies that have been conducted, it has been noted that women actually like to stick to beat as they work out. Pop music provides a great steady rhythm. This is the best genre if you want to follow the beat.

Make it cool: you need to have some cool down music so as to be sure you do not skimp. Choose some songs that allow you to be at a slower pace.

Many studies show that rhythmic music influences a person’s athletic performance; you can therefore use this information to create a playlist that will totally work for you as you work out.

Knock Years Off Your Age

Today we know that the key to keep body functions working optimally is to keep going, to maintain a regular and vigorous fitness regime throughout life.

A lifelong fitness plan that stresses bones, builds muscle strength and enhances endurance, coordination and flexibility, can slow, if not bypass, some effects we often associate with aging, and many chronic diseases can be avoided entirely.

For instance, physical conditioning has a profound preventive effect on lung function. Starting at age 30, the ability of our bodies to extract the oxygen we need from the air we breathe begins to slow at a rate of about 1 per cent a year. However, at any age, the conditioned person can use oxygen more efficiently than an untrained person. Thus, in spite of that annual 1-per cent decline, the trained person of 70 has the same ability to pull oxygen into the lungs as an untrained 30-year-old.

Another major benefit of exercise is that it may diminish one’s risk of adult-onset diabetes, the type also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes that usually strikes after age 40. Exercise increases the number of insulin-binding sites in muscles, and since more glucose is then taken into the muscles, the glucose level in the blood goes down. Diabetes, which has nerve-damaging effects, hastens aging by putting people at higher risk for heart disease and blindness, among other complications.

The benefits of maintaining an optimal fitness level are also obvious in preventing osteoporosis, a condition caused by severe bone loss that is considered epidemic in the over-60 population, particularly among women. While the effects of this disorder – loss of height, stooped shoulders, susceptibility to fractures – are not usually apparent until late in life, the bone loss leading up to them may actually begin as early as the teenage years. Although everyone begins to lose bone around 35, you can build up your bone mass significantly in preparation.

Bones, like muscles, say stressed – that is, they must be regularly subjected to weight-bearing activity such as walking, jogging, or playing a racquet sport. To understand the full impact of activity on the lifelong and continuous bone-remodeling process – the absorption of old bone cells and the formation of replacement cells – look at what happens when a person isn’t active at all: For instance, if you were to do nothing but rest in bed for a month, you could lose as much as 4 per cent of your bone mass.

The best-known benefits of the active life are its effects on the heart. The accepted wisdom is that cardiac output declines with age, but it’s not necessarily so. It’s true that the rate of an older heart is lower and the blood-filling volume is higher, but the healthy heart of an active, older person is able to maintain a consistently high output of blood, even during vigorous exercise.

What kind of exercise?

An aerobic workout can reduce your heartbeats-per-minute and thereby the amount of work your heart has to slog out over a lifetime. Your aim should be three to five weekly half-hour to hour-long sessions of continuous, rhythmic exercise that primarily calls on your major muscles – legs, buttocks and back. Running, brisk walking, swimming and cycling are the top options.

Not surprisingly, the guideline that will cue you in to the right aerobic pitch is your pulse – what your heart’s doing. It should be working within your “target heart range” – 70 to 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate, figured by subtracting your age from 220. The longer you work within that range in your workout, the greater the cardiovascular benefits. The major news: Don’t go overboard. Orthopedic problems increase with the number of aerobic workouts a week. Stick to every-other-day workouts as the best way to avoid them.

Slowing the muscle drain

Every decade you lose from 3 to 5 per cent of higher-calorie-burning lean muscle and replace it with lower-calorie-consuming fat, especially in leg and trunk muscles. Thirty to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week can head off the fat accumulation, but to combat the muscle loss, you need to supplement your aerobics with two to three weekly sessions of calisthenics or weight training, either on machines or with free weights. If you’re just starting, work with a weight-lifting pro. Weights or calisthenics are particularly important to cyclists and swimmers. Neither sport places stress on bones; hence, neither can protect as effectively against osteoporosis.

Preserving flexibility with stretching

Whether you’re trundling off to aerobics or layering on lean muscle with weights, you should stretch for at least five minutes before and after each workout to maintain the flexibility that otherwise declines with age.

Overcome Workout Plateaus

A plateau typically is the direct consequence of a fitness rut – when an exerciser performs the same workout over and over. The human body is very efficient and quickly adapts to work. Once the body practices the same activity repeatedly, it grows more proficient at performing those moves. So that means it requires less energy and therefore also burns less calories.

Instead of celebrating their body’s improved fitness capabilities, exercisers often abandon their workouts. And who can blame them? After all, they no longer are seeing the results they desire and become increasingly bored with their workouts. Plus, hitting a plateau not only can halt fitness gains, but it can even reverse previous successes. But, with just a few simple steps exercisers can easily break-through that brick wall and continue to reap all the rewards of regular physical activity.

Dodging the dreaded plateau is actually very easy. Variety is the key ingredient to continual fitness success. To avoid hitting a workout plateau, follow these recommendations.

To begin with, every workout routine should be changed about every 4-6 weeks. The modification doesn’t have to be dramatic. A totally new exercise is a possible option, but alteration of a current exercise can be just as effective.

A simple way to determine how to transform your current workout is using the F.I.T.T principle. F.I.T.T. stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. This strategy can be adopted for both cardio and resistance training.

Frequency – increase or decrease how often you workout

Intensity – increase or decrease the difficulty or level at which you workout.

Time – increase or decrease how long your workout sessions last.

Type – change the type of exercises you perform.

Frequency and Time are limited by an individual’s schedule as well as appropriate rest time to ensure maximum efficiency and safety. But Intensity and Type are really only limited by creativity and planning.

Cardio exercise intensity can easily be varied through speed, incline, distance, height, etc. And of course the types of exercises are practically endless, so exercisers should never have the excuse that they’ve exhausted their exercise options. Good cardio examples include: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, and more. In addition, combining several of these exercises into one workout session can be very effective. Try 10 minutes each of 3-4 unique exercises.

Strength training intensity can also easily be altered with changes in resistance size, number of reps, rest time, number of sets and more. Even simply switching the sequence of the exercises can prove effective. There are also numerous strength training exercise options. Unfortunately, most exercisers are unaware of the plethora of training techniques and equipment options. They often get stuck performing the same 10 exercises over and over. Yet, there are hundreds of unique options. Simply utilizing new types of training equipment every 4-6 weeks can result in big improvements because each type of equipment will work the muscle groups in a slightly different manner. Gear options include: free weights, body bars, selectorized machines, resistance bands, and fitness balls – just to name a few.

Right Exercise Intensity

First we need to understand that the definition of moderate intensity can be completely different from one individual to another. For example, a well-trained athlete may be in the moderate zone when running 5 miles in 30 minutes. Yet, for a novice exerciser who is very overweight, moderate means walking one mile in 30 minutes.

Don’t let this confuse you. While the intensity level is very critical in the overall guideline, fortunately it’s also fairly easily identified. The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) defines moderate as an intensity of 40 percent to 60 percent VO2 maximum. But, since most of us don’t know how to determine our VO2 maximum, there are easier definitions to utilize.

You can base VO2 loosely on your maximum target heart rate zone. A VO2 maximum of 40-60% equates to about 50 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate (MHR). And determining your MHR and the corresponding percent zones is relatively simple. Below is an easy calculation for determining your specific MHR and what 50-70 percent of equates to.

Target Heart Rate Zone

Take 220 and subtract your age. This equals your MHR. (Example: For a 30 year old your MHR is 190)

Next to determine your low range of 50 percent, simply take 190 and multiply it times 50 percent. (Example: For a 30 year old this would equal 95).

Finally, to determine your high range of 70 percent, simply take 190 and multiply it times 70 percent. (Example: For a 30 year old this would equal 133).’

So, in this example the 30 year-old would want to exercise in a heart rate range of somewhere between 95 – 133 BPM. Keep in mind that this calculation is age-related. It does not take into consideration your fitness level.

RPE

This takes into account what the exerciser is perceiving in terms of exercise fatigue and it correlates well with cardiorespiratory and metabolic factors like heart rate and overall fatigue. The RPE scale starts with 0 and ends with 10. A rating of 0 equates to doing nothing, being at rest. A rating of 10 is equal to maximum effort, working very, very hard. For moderate intensity, an exerciser should strive for reaching somewhere between a 4-6, which the scale defines as a somewhat hard to a hard effort.

A great way to measure intensity (where appropriate), is utilizing both the RPE and Target Heart Rate Zone. The exerciser should identify where they fall on the RPE scale when their heart rate is between 50 – 70% maximum. This will allow them to accurately use only the RPE scale for measuring intensity when it is not feasible to determine their THR.

Talk Test

The final method for measuring exercise intensity is the Talk Test. Like the RPE, the talk test is subjective. The exerciser simply ensures that he works out at a level where he can carry on a comfortable conversation. He should be able to breathe comfortably during exercise. In simple terms, the exerciser would be working out too hard if he has to take a breath between every word he says. On the flip side, he would be exercising at too easy of an intensity if he could sing several phrases of a song without breathing hard.

Basic Abdominal Body Fitness

Probably the simplest, and most popular, abdominal exercise is the crunch. Lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat will get your crunch started. Some people like to place their fingertips to the sides of the head, just behind the ears, while others like to do crunches with their arms crossed over their chest. Either way, the next step is to push your lower back to the floor and hold that while you crunch your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor.

To mix things up a bit, you could add an exercise ball to your crunch. You will want to sit on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly let the ball roll as you lie back until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Then you will contract your abs, raising your torso no more than 45 degrees. The exercise ball is a lot of fun and can really help keep you from getting too bored with your usual abdominal exercises.

Whichever abdominal exercises you determine to be the best route to six pack city, don’t overdo it and end up having to postpone your trip. You should always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program and of course you can’t forget to stretch.

Improve Lean Muscle Mass Gain

1. Time Your Carbohydrate Intake. When it comes to adding carbohydrates to your diet plan, add them before and especially after your workout period. This is when your body is most likely to use those carbs. Eat them at other points in the day, and you may find you are putting on more body fat and less lean muscle as you are not maximizing your nutrient window.

Around 50% of your total carb intake for the day should come in the meal before your workout, your post-workout shake, as well as your post-workout meal.

2. Focus On Compound Movements. Next, when you do hit the gym, think compound movements. These are going to give you the best bang for your buck so to speak, allowing you to work multiple muscle groups at once.

These exercises include moves like…

  • squats,
  • deadlifts,
  • lunges,
  • bench press,
  • shoulder press,
  • bent over rows,
  • pull-ups, and
  • pull-downs.

Focus your time on these, adding isolation exercises to the mix only once these are completed. You will not build more lean muscle mass doing bicep curls all workout long.

3. Think Frequency, Not Volume. Finally, when planning your workout sessions, think frequency, not volume. While it is great to be doing multiple sets each workout, it is better to hit the gym more often than go overboard each workout session. Do too much each workout session, and it will take you a long time to recover, which will slow down your progress…

  • 15 to 24 sets each workout is the most you should aim to do.
  • some people may even get away with less – 12 to 15 sets per session.

Overcoming Obstacles

Perspective. And also, according to him, there’s no mountain too high to climb. Tom would know. Paralyzed from the waist down since birth he’s now 33 and trains about three times a week. In fact, he tells me, he just couldn’t get along without exercise.

So in my quest for the last word on overcoming barriers in fitness, Tom sat down with me and together we came up with 3 basic principles that will help break-down fears and intimidations in reaching fitness goals.

(After all, if he can exercise on a regular basis, shouldn’t that be encouragement enough for anyone to give it a shot?)

Principle #1 Move into the Fear.

“Train you mind to believe no mountain is too high or any goal is too difficult to attain,” Tom tells me. Basically, it’s all about meeting your fears and facing them head-on.

In this principle, aim to recognize your fears, acknowledge them and then move through them. Ask yourself what is it that makes you uncomfortable? Have you let yourself get out of shape and are afraid you’ll never get back? Do you have an injury that’s caused you to be afraid of your body?

If you can visualize creatively, then you can put your fears in check. See your self as you’d like to be. Remember: your body loves you and has the potential to heal itself to perfection. Your only job is to trust it and listen.

Q: What is your body saying to you?

Principle #2 Trust Your Intuition.

It is important when overcoming obstacles and learning to break through barriers that you begin to listen to the still small voice of your body. In most cases, we all want the comfort of having someone telling us what we can and cannot do. However, our highest truth lies within us. This is not to say that the good opinion of others is not important, but ultimately the decision making comes from within.

When facing a challenge or an obstacle look to how you feel. What are your instincts telling you? Often it is simply your instinct that will move you into a new mindset and raise your consciousness.

“I wasn’t about to let the wheelchair stand in my way,” Tom tells me. In fact, he says he had to merely change his perspective about it. He says he first had to learn about what his restrictions were then, create a boundary for himself. “We all have boundaries,” he tells me. “Regardless if a person can walk or not, obstacles are as unique as people themselves. Therefore, it’s first best to know your boundaries.”

Ease Your Gym Fear

1. Book A Session With A Trainer. If not knowing how to use the equipment is what is stopping you, that is an easy fix. Just book a session with a trainer to help show you. They will help you learn the ropes, and before you know it, you will look like a pro.

One or two sessions with a trainer can make any beginner feel far more confident in going to the gym.

2. Wear Clothing You Feel Comfortable In. Next, be sure you wear clothing you are comfortable in. At the start, it is not about fashion. Instead, it is about function. Worry about how you look later. Right now, focus on comfort.

The more comfortable you are, the more confident you will be, and that is what most people will notice anyway.

3. Start Slow. It is important you start slow. The last thing you want to do when you first start at a gym is to try every piece of equipment and then find you cannot walk the next morning.

If you are learning a bunch of new exercises, try just doing two or three first. Get used to those and then add more to the mix. This will help to limit your post-workout muscle soreness and make going to the gym a far more positive experience.

4. Get A Training Partner. Finally, consider getting a training partner. Going with a friend to the gym is a fast and easy way to feel more comfortable and take the pressure off you. When you are with someone else, it will not feel like everyone is watching you (which, chances are, they are not anyway!).

Spice Up Your Workouts

A simple definition of Interval Training is: short, high-intensity exercise periods alternated with periods of rest. These higher and lower intensity periods are repeated several times to form a complete workout . Here’s a basic example: walk for 5 minutes at 3.5 MPH, walk for 1 minute at 4.2 MPH and then repeat this sequence several times.

Most people spend their workout time only performing continuous training exercises. These are exercises where the intensity level is basically constant throughout. An example of this is walking at 3.5 MPH, at 0% incline for 30 minutes.

Continuous training is very effective and should not be eliminated from your weekly workouts. However, it’s recommended that you include both Interval Training and continuous training sessions as part of your fitness regimen.

Why should you include Interval Training? As previously mentioned, there are many benefits to this type of training and execution is relatively simple. Interval Training can help you improve cardiovascular fitness, increase speed, improve overall aerobic power, burn more calories, break-through a plateau, increase workout duration, reach new exercise levels, expand your workout options and increase your workout threshold – just to name a few.

Plus, this training method has useful applications for beginners, intermediate exercisers and even conditioned athletes. There are two basic types of Interval Training. For the majority of exercisers (novices and intermediate) Fitness Interval Training methods are recommended. Athletes can choose a more advanced technique known as Performance Interval Training.

The Fitness training method utilizes periodic increases in intensity. Typically the higher-intensity levels range from 2-5 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity periods that also range from 2-5 minutes. And, a critical element in Fitness Interval Training is determining the appropriate level for the higher-intensity periods. This level should not exceed the anaerobic threshold (which is usually reached below 85% heart rate reserve).

On the flip side, the Performance training technique involves periods of near maximal or even maximal intensity (e.g. >85% heart rate reserve – even reaching 100%). The higher-intensity levels can range from 2-15 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity periods that also can range from 2-15 minutes in duration.

Don’t let the two types of training and their ranges confuse you. Incorporating Interval Training methods into your exercise routine is actually quite easy. Since the majority of exercisers fall into either the beginner or intermediate category, we’ll focus on getting started with those techniques.

To begin, choose the type of exercise: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc. Next determine your lower-intensity level. This is usually somewhere between 50-65% target heart rate. This will be your baseline, lower-level intensity. Then simply increase the intensity-level up to where you feel like you are working hard to very hard, but avoid reaching a level over 85% target heart rate. If monitoring your heart is not feasible, instead use the RPE scale where 1 is basically at rest and 10 is working extremely hard. For example, if you find that when you are exercising at a comfortable level you rank a 5, then bump up to a 7 for the higher-intensity intervals.

You may choose to systematically raise and lower your intensity (e.g. 2 minutes lower intensity followed by 1 minute higher intensity and repeat) or you can alternate more randomly by raising and lowering the level at your discretion. To increase your intensity, you may choose to change the speed, incline, or some other variable.

Interval Training can be especially helpful in situations where you are trying a new form of exercise. For example, this can be very beneficial when first learning to jog. If you attempt to jog continuously without building up to it, you will probably fatigue quickly and even give up. However, if you begin with intervals of walking interspersed with jogging periods, the workout will be much more enjoyable and effective. Also, you will be more likely to stick with the program and achieve the end result – continuous jogging.

Fitness For Energy and Vitality

One of the most important factors that I always stress to people is to think about their workouts in the long-term. For instance, my idea of working out is for life, not a thirty-day quick fix. I want to be able to move my body and stay strong my entire life and the best way to do that is to think of the long-term benefits of working out.

I am not trying to lose thirty pounds under any kind of time frame, I am not trying to push myself to the limit in every workout, I am simply focusing my energy into the movements that I perform each day and reach a rep goal – I have a rep goal for every workout.

If you are focused on losing weight and you want to lose say ten pounds in the next thirty days then this puts an enormous amount of pressure on you, you will feel stressed when it comes to your diet and your workout because you know if you get it wrong then you won’t reach your goal.

It is so much better to lose that weight over a longer period of time. This takes the pressure off of you, you won’t have to keep pushing yourself in your workouts until you feel exhausted just to try to lose some more pounds. That is not the right way to train, you will feel de-motivated and fatigued after your workout.

Training below this level you will still reap the rewards of your efforts and you will feel refreshed and alert, energised and happy. Feeling like this and you will actually begin to look forward to your workouts rather than dread them.

You only need to add 1 or 2 reps in each workout. You will progress slowly and steadily without expecting too much of yourself. It is far better to err on the side of caution when pushing yourself and leave some energy in the bank ready for your next workout rather than risk an injury which can set you back for months.

Training like this will give you more confidence in yourself, you aren’t in competition with anyone but yourself, so there isn’t any point in trying to kill yourself in your workouts. Leave enough room in your reps so you could complete another two reps before reaching complete failure.

I am not saying take it easy, you must test yourself in every workout that you do, but leaving those 2 reps will give you an edge, it will leave you with energy and make you feel great after your workout. You will be much more likely to look forward to your next workout rather than dread it.