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Essential Stretches

Essential Stretches

Here are some movements I like to call “essential stretches,” because you can do them every day to get the day started right. You can also use them before a workout or when you take a break from hard work and want a limbering/pain relieving movement before you go back to it. You can do these formally as part of your workout or throughout the day to bring a refreshed feeling. One of my favorites for lower back pain is laying on the floor with one leg bent at the knee. Wrap a towel around the underside of the foot on the outstretched leg and slowly pull it straight up. Then do the other side. It feels so great and relieves pain almost instantly.

Start the day stretching.

If you have a cat, watch it when it first awakens or gets up after a rest. (Which occurs several times during the day.) It makes a deep stretching motion, raising its bottom and stretching its back. You should do the same each morning. Side lunges with the arm raised on the side you lunge toward, stretching until it feels good and then doing the other side can get you a little more limber for the day. One of the children’s programs I watched growing up featured a song called “Bend and Stretch.” The second line of the song said, “reach for the sky.” While trying to touch your toes is good, reaching as high as you can is just as good and easier.

Stretch your hamstrings, hip flexors and quads with this exercise.

Sit on the floor in kneeling position with legs bent at the knee and shins on the ground. Lift one leg in front of you bent at the knee to create a 90 degree angle and foot flat on the floor right under the knee. The other side should still be in the original position. Put both hands on top of the knee in front of you and lean into a stretch, trunk upright. Hold and lean back.

Stretch your hamstrings like a runner.

Sit with both legs extended in front of you. Bend one leg, putting your foot on the side of the other leg’s knee. You’ll have a triangle or number 4 formed with your legs. Bend at the hips, slowly moving forward toward the foot of the outstretched leg. You’ll feel it pull, then hold ten to twenty seconds. Straighten up and do it again. Do the other side. Repeat one more time. Each time you’ll notice you’ll lean further forward.

– Stretch your triceps by bending arm at the elbow, as though you’re trying to scratch your back. Grab the elbow with your other hand and pull make it stretch even further.

– Pull your arms behind you and clasp your hands. First lift them as high as possible, then go back to starting position and push out your chest, stretching as far as possible.

– Take a tip from yoga and do a downward dog. Start in kneeling position, hands shoulder-width apart, raise your bottom in the air and straighten your legs. Straighten your spine as you lower your head. Keep your heels on the ground, lowering them as far as you can, stretching your calves.

– Stand with arms extended. Twist your body, rotating your arms to the left and then to the right in propeller fashion. You can do this one seated as well.


Best Knee Exercises

Best Knee Exercises

The knees are often the first to feel the wear and tear of years of abuse. It can lead to osteoarthritis and other knee conditions. When you have strength and flexibility around the knees, it also reduces the probability of bursitis and tendinitis. You’ll improve your mobility, which also is important for maintaining a program of exercise and good health. Here are some of the best knee exercises to help you build strength and flexibility. You should do them about two to three times a week making certain you leave at least 48 hours between sessions or recovery. Stretching daily during warm-ups can be done every day and improve the flexibility as well. Make sure you warm-up before starting any workout.

Do a straight leg raise for strength building.

You can do this exercise with two different forms. The easiest is with one is laying on the back with one knee bent, foot flat on the floor and the other leg extended straight out. Lift the extended leg to the height of the bent knee, lower and repeat 10 to 15 times. The other form of the exercise leaves both legs stretched out straight, raising one six inches off the floor and holding it for ten seconds. Keep the abdominal muscles tight as you do. Repeat this one five times on each leg. Avoid arching your back.  It helps to put your hands under the lower area of the back. With both legs extended, you get additional core strengthening.

Strengthen your hamstrings.

Here’s another you can do two ways. The first technique you lay on your stomach on a mat on the floor with your legs extended. Bend your knees and slowly raise the lower leg, attempting to get your heels as close to your bottom as possible. You’ll feel the pull at the back of the thighs. Three sets of 15 is a good starting point, but if do as many as you feel comfortable if that’s too many. If you’re at work, you can do a standing form of this exercise. Hang on to the back of a chair and lift one leg at a time, attempting to hit your bottom with your heel each time.

Alternating prone leg lifts strengthen the area around the spine, hips and knees.

You’ll be doing a slow flutter kick with one leg at a time, laying on your stomach and building a number of areas. Lay flat and as you tighten the muscles in your bottom, slowly lift one leg, keeping it straight. Lift as high as you can and hold to the count of five (five seconds), then slowly lower and repeat the movement until you’ve done ten. Repeat on the other side.

 

– Always start with simple muscle strengthening exercises such as the ones given and hip abduction or hip raise before going on to more advanced ones that work specifically with the knee joint. You want to build all the surrounding area first.

– Squats, lunges and step ups are an advanced form of knee strengthening. Build to these to ensure the muscles are strong enough to prevent pain.

– Simple movements you can do throughout the day, such as going up on your toes—calf raises—while supporting yourself with a hand on the wall or chair, can help strengthen the legs and build the muscles around the knee.

– Always check with your health care provider before you undergo exercise of any type. This is especially true of knee exercises.


Great Exercises For Specific Body Parts

Great Exercises For Specific Body Parts

It’s well known that you can’t shed pounds from just one area on your body by doing exercises for specific body parts, but you can tone that area and make it look better. Exercise of any kind will help you lose weight, but that weight comes from every area of your body, not just the area where you’re working your muscles. That doesn’t mean that you don’t benefit from exercising specific body areas. Those types of exercises tone the areas and help create a firm, fit appearance.

Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, BAT WINGS!

In case you couldn’t tell, I was singing the Bat Man song. Bat wings are the reason many women wear longer sleeves in the summer. You don’t have to put up with your arms fluttering in the wind when you work with weights doing this exercise. If you don’t have weights, especially if you’re just starting out, I’ve had clients use soup cans and even empty detergent bottles with handles. The best thing about using the detergent bottles is you can adjust the amount of weight. Start with a small amount of water in them and as you get stronger, add more. A reverse fly is one. Use an incline bench and lie on your chest with the weight in each hand. Lift your arms so they’re perpendicular to your body. Squeeze through the shoulder area and lower. Repeat 10 times for one set then do two more sets.

Tummy tucks naturally

We work on core muscle groups, which will have you looking thin and trim in no time. While total body exercises and kettlebells work well. There are other exercises you can do. You can say good-bye to a jelly belly and hello to a trim flat abdomen with this simple exercise. You’ll be doing a modified crunch with this one. Lay on your back on the mat. Lift your legs in the air straight above the hips. Lift your upper body and reach toward your feet. Slowly lower your upper body back to the floor as you lower one leg. Lift the leg and upper body and repeat. Do ten repetitions and switch the leg you lower.

Get rid of jiggly thighs.

If you’ve ever watched a ballet dancer, you’re probably familiar with a plie. It’s the move they make where they have their feet slightly wider than their shoulders, toes turned out and then they squat and rise using graceful arm movements. It’s excellent to strengthen your thighs too.

– A deltoid raise also helps with batwings. Do it by standing with feet slightly apart, raising your arms with weights in your hands to form a T and lowering your arms.

– A standing side crunch helps flatten the stomach. You’ll have your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Put your hands on the front of your hips and slightly bend your knees. Scrunch your body forward, slumping slightly, exhale deeply and then pull your stomach tight trying to pull your stomach toward your spine. Hold and pull your shoulders back as you inhale, thrust your chest forward and push your bottom as far back as you can go.

– We use kettlebells for a total body workout, but there are certain exercises that focus on specific body parts, while working other muscle groups too. Ask for help in the area you need extra work.

– To get the best results from exercise, combine it with a healthy diet.


Are Fitness Trends A Good Thing Or Not

Are Fitness Trends A Good Thing Or Not

When you’re a personal trainer, you keep abreast of the latest fitness trends. Some of the trends are based on solid science and bring a lot to the world of fitness. Others, aren’t as good and may even cause injury. Marathon weight lifting, for example, is really a fitness trend. The lifter tries to hoist the heaviest load possible repeatedly in the shortest amount of time. It promotes poor form and can be dangerous, particularly since form goes out the window after just a few lifts.

Crossfit is certainly popular and has both good and bad points.

Crossfit has gained popularity rapidly and there’s a good reason. It’s extremely social and group oriented, plus you get a great workout. There’s a dark side to it, though. I’ve heard people brag about working out until they threw up. In fact, in some social media circles, videos with upchucking crossfitters are praised. While overwork can occur, it shouldn’t be the goal. Working hard to achieve a goal is commendable and crossfit promotes that. Working beyond the point of exhaustion where your form suffers and you pose the potential for injury or rhabdomyolysis, a kidney condition is not acceptable. You workout to get and stay healthy, not to jeopardize your health.

HIIT has many of the same dangers of crossfit, but without the gold stars for vomiting.

HIIT—high intensity interval training—is extremely popular and works well to help people get into shape and stay in shape. Just like crossfit, the potential to overdo a workout is very real. While you can over exercise no matter what mode you use, with HIIT, you have the potential for putting your health on the line. The idea is to get your heart rate up to maximum, slow the pace for twice as long and then take it back up again. If you’re in good shape and increase the timing carefully, it should be no problem. However, people with a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and joint problems need to move cautiously. That’s one reason a personal trainer is important when doing HIIT workouts.

Trackers, watches and pedometers help you stay on top of the workout.

Actually, I like the technological approach to exercising. Initially, the technology wasn’t as accurate as it should be to get a good reading, but now, it’s pretty close to reality. Tracking how far you’ve walked, your heart rate and having your watch remind you it’s time to workout isn’t all bad. If it helps keep people working out an doing their best to stay fit and healthy, I say it’s a good thing.

– Kettlebells aren’t new, but have re-emerged as a top workout technique. Yes! I love them, that’s why you’ll see them in the program, but like any form of equipment, proper training is a must.

– Strength training has broken through the barrier and now has become a tool for women, too. It’s about time. Strength training is extremely important to women, particularly post menopausal women, to prevent osteoporosis.

– The rush to exercise as preventative medicine. This is another focus I love. With modern medicine costing a fortune, the best insurance policy is to avoid getting sick.

– Senior fitness training is one more smart trend that can help baby boomers stay fit far longer and may even help prevent memory loss and dementia.


Fitness Routines For People With Limited Time

Fitness Routines For People With Limited Time

I’m constantly being asked for fitness routines for people with limited time. The problem is that these can vary based on your lifestyle and situation. For instance, I might create two very different ones if one client was a stay at home mom with just nap time to get in her workout and the other was a busy executive with small windows of opportunity to exercise throughout the day. Here are some quickies you can do to help get and stay in shape.

If you’re trying to crowd your entire workout into just a 20 minute frame, consider circuit type training.

Circuit training is an intense method of working out where you quickly move from one station—type of exercise—to another with a short breather in between the two. It gets your heart pumping fast, but the short cool down between workouts helps. It’s a form of high intensity interval training that gets your endurance built fast. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down. A simple one uses two to three minute intervals for each exercise and combines jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and walkouts. Do ten reps of each as fast as you can and repeat 8 times. Take a breather for two minutes and repeat.

Break up the workout to shorter intervals throughout the day.

Maybe you don’t have an hour or half hour to workout in the morning, but you might have ten minutes while you wait for the coffee to brew. Use the interval training suggested in number one, but only do it once without resting 2 minutes and going it again. When you get home, do the second set. Follow it with a ten minute walk or walk during lunch. There are also toning exercises you can do anywhere, simply by contracting certain muscle groups.

Get a great workout with kettlebells.

Kettlebells give you the workout of your life and burn more calories in 20 minutes than most exercise do in an hour. It’s a quick way to workout, but does require training. You’ll be swinging a weight and that can lead to injury unless you know what you’re doing. If you’re working out with us, we’ll show you a great routine that you can do in just 20 minutes or break it down to two ten minute ones.

– Flatten your tummy with dance every time you get a chance. Boogie down in your cubical or when nobody’s looking, rocking your hips and toning your body. Turn on music and dance while making supper.

– Make your lunch hour count. Sure, you want to have some peace and quiet, but a good 20 minute workout before lunch will burn off the hormones of stress and make the rest of the day better.

– Find ways to get more exercise. You don’t have to lift weights to build arm muscles, carrying grocery bags works too. See how many you can carry into the house at once.

– Do strength training. Lifting weights burns calories fast.


What Is Your Biggest Goal This Year

What Is Your Biggest Goal This Year

No matter what your biggest goal is this year, you can be sure that fitness will play a role in whether or not you’ll accomplish it. There are good reasons why. The fitter you are, the better your cognitive thinking. The more energy you have and etc. While getting may not be your top priority on your goal list, it should be toward the top of your goal setting list. Even if you already workout regularly, you should expand your horizons and enjoy the benefits of variety.

Is your biggest goal a work goal?

Achievement at work is often one of the top goals on people’s lists. They tend to focus on it at the expense of other areas of their life, including relationships and fitness. That’s a huge mistake. If you’re not focusing on all areas of your life, it can deter from your work performance. Lack of communication and focus can ruin a marriage or relationship. That can impede your work goals. A program of healthy eating and regular exercise can actually help you land that big promotion by making you look more confident. One study showed that people often thought that people who were overweight were lazy. While everyone knows that’s not true, shedding extra pounds, getting and staying fit can make you look like a go-getter and executive material.

Being a better person may mean improving your disposition.

If you start to notice you’re a bit of a snark, it may be time to head to the gym. While the workout can benefit you physically, it also can help you soothe a sour disposition. Exercising on a regular basis can burn off the hormones of stress. It also stimulates the brain to replace those hormones with ones that make you feel good. Combine that with the feeling of satisfaction you get from looking and feeling better and you have a head start on becoming the best you possible.

Is your goal to take a great adventure and travel.

Hold your horses. You need to do a bunch of planning and preparation before you take that dream vacation. One of the top priority items to insure you enjoy your trip to the max is getting fit and building your endurance. If you’re hiking through the rain forest or to see the remnants of an ancient Mayan village, you want to have the energy to make it all the way without frequent stopping. The same holds true for a Disney vacation or other type of trip. Being fit makes it more fun.

– Some goals are actually fitness goals. If you hope to run your first marathon, check with your trainer and ask for their professional advice to help you achieve that goal.

– No matter what goals you have, if you don’t write them down, the chances of achieving them are slimmer. Record your list of goals.

– Even the biggest, almost impossible goal can be reached. You can break it down to smaller goals to achieve to take you to your final destination.

– When you list your goals, not only include a time frame, but also the steps you’ll take to achieve that goal.


How To Stay Active When Your Partner Is Not

How To Stay Active When Your Partner Is Not

When a healthy lifestyle becomes an important factor that you want to turn into a reality, you often want everyone to join in your eureka moment. Unfortunately, if you want to stay active when your partner is not cooperating, you might think you have to change directions. That’s not true. There are a number of ways to approach this to help your special someone get on the bandwagon to fitness.

Think before you speak.

The first way to get a partner to reject any idea you have is to make suggestions based on your observations of why they need to get physical, lose weight or eat healthier. No matter how you phrase it, if your partner could use shedding a few pounds, he or she will be offended. Work on yourself first, but do let the person you care about know your plans and welcome them to come with you. Do it like you would if you’re going to the store. “I’m going, do you want to come along.”

Get sincere.

If you’ve worked out for a while and you really would love to share it with the person you care about most, let that person know. Be direct this time. Let them know that you’d really enjoy their company at the gym and even suggest breakfast together after a morning workout or an evening dinner if it’s a later workout. It’s not nearly as easy if you have children, so find a way to get the whole family active and let your spouse know that you want to be fit, but your family is top priority, so why not do it together.

Compromise, talk and compromise some more.

You may be fitter than your loved one and that could be the reason they don’t want to join you. They may be right. It could slow you down and make both you and your spouse miserable. The best way to handle that is to have a few days of joint exercising and a few days of individual exercise. It doesn’t have to be strictly a gym workout when you’re exercising together. It can be going for hikes or even dance classes together.

– Eating healthy is part of a healthy lifestyle. You can find some delicious healthy recipes to make and sneak them into the meals slowly.

– Take action. Take your partner with you to the gym and let them use the free trial sessions to see if they like it. Let your partner know it’s not necessary to sign up for longer. It’s just a sampling.

– Ask for your partner’s help. Let them know you’re having trouble staying motivated and ask for help staying on track.

– Keep focused on your workout, but always keep the invitation open. Don’t let their lack of desire stop you. If money is an issue, workout at home. If it’s time, carve out time in the morning. Always keep the invitation to join you open and be ready when your spouse accepts.


How To Listen To Your Body And Know When It's Time To Rest

How To Listen To Your Body And Know When It’s Time To Rest

When you’re working out and feel sore, it doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t do one more push up to achieve our goal. However, there’s a difference between feeling sore and being in outright pain. Today, there’s too much emphasis on pushing past the pain. You need to listen to your body. Sometimes it’s giving you the signals that say it’s time to rest. Sometimes, it’s not. Learning to interpret the messages your body is sending is extremely important.

You’ve been working out too hard and its starting to show with these signs and signals.

If you don’t give your body a rest, it won’t have time to recouperate and repair damage. One of the first signs that you’re overworking is the inability to do what would have been simple a few weeks ago. Maybe you feel sick after a few minutes into a tough workout or can’t lift weights that were easy a few weeks ago. Those are both signs that you need to take a day away from the gym resting or have a serious medical situation.

You need to take a break when soreness turned to aches and then to real pain.

Forget the “no pain, no gain” slogan. It’s one thing to get sore after a workout, but if it’s unbearable pain, there’s only two reasons why. The first is that you’ve overworked a muscle group and now find it verging on a serious problem and the second is that you have that serious problem and caused damage that can set you back months.

You know you should step back and take a rest when getting out of bed is simply too hard.

If you normally get up when the alarm rings, but find you’re hitting snooze far too frequently or worse yet, sleeping through the alarm, that type of exhaustion should tell you that you need rest. The key is to identify why. If nothing else has changed and you’re healthy (always get a checkup if you’re exhausted frequently), it might be those extra days at the gym. Take a break for a day and see if it helps.

– Are you suddenly crabby and out of sorts? While exercise does improve your mood, when you’ve worked to the limit, it can have the opposite effect.

– Do you find you hate every movement you make in the gym? It’s either time to take a break or find a new way of exercising that you like.

– Women can find out if they are overexercising by their menstrual cycle. If you’ve missed your period and aren’t pregnant, you may be in need of a rest.

– Performance plateauing can occur for a number of reasons. One of those is overworking a muscle group.


Another Sample Post

Another Sample Post

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