Benefits of Fitness Boot Camp

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May 302014


If you are a current or former member of the military (thank you for your service!), the term “boot camp” may cause you a little uneasiness. However, fitness boot camps are one of the latest fitness crazes. They help you establish a healthy lifestyle while giving you rigorous work out. Here are five ways fitness boot camp will assist you in obtaining your health goals: 

1. Fast Results – An organized, one hour boot camp fitness session will help you burn up to 900 calories. They include exercises such as calisthenics, cardio circuits, plyometrics, resistance training, and endurance events. This condensed workout will provide benefits much quicker than many other exercise classes offered at a gym.


2. High-Intensity Workouts – Many people don’t have the willpower to reach their physical potential while exercising. Fitness boot camp instructors will force you to go harder and execute better than you would without someone pushing you. This helps you reach your goals of weight loss, firmer muscles, improved cardiovascular system and others very quickly!  

3. Built-in Support – There is a natural bond created when people endure a demanding time with others. Just like in military basic training, a sense of camaraderie is born within the team. This helps motivate you to complete your workouts while creating accountability among the group members.


4. Lower Costs – The instructor’s fee is split amongst everyone in the group. You get the same positives of having your own trainer at a considerably smaller cost.

5. It’s Fun and Exciting!  The friendships, passion, and various physical routines of a fitness boot camp class help create a more agreeable atmosphere than more-conventional programs. It helps you get out of the mundane routine many fitness enthusiasts get mired in. Fitness boot camps help reinvigorate your desire to get healthy by offering a change of pace to your normal workout regimen.

Hot Yoga for Beginners

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May 082014


Hot Yoga, sometimes referred to as Bikram or Hatha Yoga is the latest emergent onto the scene of health and wellbeing classes with the usual parade of celebrity endorsements being bandied around in the tabloids and journals. But what exactly is hot yoga, what are the benefits and what might you need to get started? Read on for a beginners guide to this latest fitness and wellbeing phenomenon.

What Is It?

Hot Yoga is yoga but done under intense heat with average temperatures of 43 degrees. The classes themselves comprise of a series of 26 different moves that are repeated a number of times each in a flowing sequence style, with no breaks between positions or sets.


Who Goes?

All sorts of different people go to hot yoga for a range of reasons. It can suit all ages and abilities although due to the extreme nature of the heat it is obviously not suitable for everyone. Some obvious exclusions would be those with blood pressure issues (low or high) and pregnant women but if in doubt seek medical advice before you begin.

What Are The Benefits?

Yoga of any sort is great for providing wellbeing and giving a sense of balance in our hectic lives. Hot yoga is particularly good as it is also a form of cardiovascular exercise with the heat adding that extra element of challenge. Plus the amount you sweat (which is amazing) means that you detoxify whilst you work out so it’s a three for one.


What Do I Need?

You will need your own yoga mat which is much easier to transport if it comes with a carry handle or case. The right clothes are essential for hot yoga, tight fitting clothes are too restrictive but baggy clothes can interfere with poses so check out some specialist gear if you can. It is also a wise idea to take two towels, a large one to cover your mat and a smaller towel for your face as it is strongly discourage to touch your face during the class.

Where Can I Try It?

Hot yoga classes are springing up all over the country and if you perform an internet search you are bound to come up with one nearby to you. Also rather excitingly, the UK’s first Hot Yoga retreat centre has recently opened its doors just on the outskirts of London in old manor house with stunning grounds.

What Are the Health Benefits of Snowboarding?

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May 082014


Whether you’ve got a snow-capped mountains near you or not, snowboarding is becoming an increasingly popular action sport wherever you are. Most major cities now have an indoor slope with either real or fake snow, and there are also a lot of outdoor areas covered with a snow-like surface. If you’re looking for a new way of getting fit that doesn’t involve the gym or running, then this could well be for you.

The first thing that you’ll notice about snowboarding is that it is a cardio-intensive workout. You’ll get hot, sweaty and burn a lot of calories. It’s not uncommon to be burning 4-600 calories each hour you’re on a board, so this is an ideal activity for those looking to get really fit or to lose weight. Although it looks like your legs are staying still, they actually have a lot of work to do when carrying you down a slope, so don’t underestimate the fitness levels that are required to be a truly great snowboarder.


It’s not all about cardio though – as an action sport, snowboarding involves a lot of strenuous physical movement, which means that it’s great for giving the muscles a workout. Although it might not seem like it at first, you actually use all of the major muscle groups, and can easily build core strength.

All of your leg muscles are used to ride, steer and absorb impact, including your little-used ankle muscles. Your arms and shoulders also get a good workout because you’ll be constantly using them to keep your balance and push yourself up when you inevitably fall.

Finally, working all of these different muscles means that you’ll improve your flexibility and the health of your joints. Constant twisting and moving is natural when snowboarding, so you’ll become a lot suppler, and your balance will get better too, provided you learn properly, and don’t do yourself an injury by falling or twisting awkwardly.


Learning to snowboard doesn’t require any prerequisite skills, so you can take yourself down to just about any slope and start learning and getting fitter right away. You can rent most of the equipment that you’ll need from most slopes, but for maximum comfort and to get the best out of exercise, it’s always better to buy your own gear that fits you perfectly and does what you need it to do. High Octane Sport have got a great range of clothes for boarders of all ages.

So what are you waiting for? If you want to get fit, and want an exciting way of doing it, then get online and search for slopes and beginner classes near you.

Walk and Save

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May 012014


Getting fit and saving money can actually walk hand-in-hand. Today’s ease of transport makes life much more convenient, however a sedentary lifestyle can cost in more ways than one. The body functions best when used and a lack of exercise can lead to a variety of health problems ranging from joint pain to heart trouble.

Those with desk jobs have to carve out time to get moving yet paying for a gym membership isn’t the best way to go for anyone on a budget. There are plenty of fitness programmes that can be implemented without paying gym dues. For instance walking is a terrific form of low-impact exercise that can benefit mind, body, and one’s back account.

Financial Savings

A surprising number of organisations are offering discount plans and rewards programmes for those who take physical fitness seriously. Many chemists now have loyalty cards, as do vitamin shoppes and many produce markets. Some employers may even offer incentives for workers who strive to lose weight and add regular walking to their weekly routine.

Some countries, like the US, may offer lower health insurance rates for participants who make physical fitness a top priority. Being more physically fit in early years can also spell fewer physical ailments later in life. Plus walking means using less petrol or public transport, which is another great reason to get out for brisk treks.


Health Benefits

The physical benefits of walking are myriad. Those who really get moving are able to lose weight and tone up. Plus quiet time alone can be a great way to prepare for the work day or mull over problems whilst performing a moving mediation of sorts. Moderate amounts of time in sunshine can also help minimize symptoms of depression, anxiety and other signs of Seasonal Effect Disorder.

Just be sure to wear proper footwear with adequate arch support and to also stretch before and after each walk. It’s also wise to buy high performance socks that wick moisture. When walking remain aware of hot spots developing and cover with mole skin or a bandage to prevent blistering.

Good for the Environment

In addition to being good for one’s health and savings, walking helps take a little strain off of the environment, as well. People making the conscious decision to switch out motorized transport for cycles and walking can have a substantial positive effect on the planet. Plus the benefits ripple down in numerous ways from less traffic congestion and pollution to a smaller carbon footprint.


Get Moving

For walking to become a part of every day life it takes just a little bit of planning and then commitment to see it though. Keep shoes in a visible and convenient location to stand as a reminder. Also allow plenty of time for fitting the walk in several times a week.

The time can be used listening to music, podcasts or audio books or the time can be used just thinking. Note though that it’s important to remain aware of surroundings at all times and it’s also wise to have a walking buddy as an added safety measure. If interested in seeing how far you travel then get a pedometer or install one as a mobile app. Make sure to have water handy and sun cream and a hat. Also always have a friend or family member know your schedule and route.

Additional notes: For those walking to work don’t forget to take appropriate business shoes to change into and a change of clothes, if need be. Also remember that extra steps can be made simply by parking further away than usual and also taking fast-paced rounds throughout indoor malls during inclement weather.

Big steps or small, the thing is to make a concentrated effort to get moving and to make moderate physical fitness are regular part of life. Not only will physical benefits abound but it could spell financial savings and a smarter approach to the planet’s health.

How to Find Your Perfect Fitness Regime and Stick to It

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Apr 292014


From gyms and social classes to sports, there are so many ways to keep fit and choosing one that works for you can seem impossible when you’re first starting out. If you’re keen to get fit and healthy but aren’t sure where to start, the following tips should help to give you a better idea of the best fitness routine for you.

Use your initial motivation for inspiration

Try basing your exercise regime around your motivation for wanting to get fit in the first place. Are you aiming to rid yourself of work-related anxiety or general stress? Do you want a slimmer figure in time for summer or for your wedding? If any of these apply to you, ideas for a fitness routine will start to fall into place since specific exercises can be attributed to things like getting a bikini figure or limiting stress etc.


If you don’t have a specific reason for wanting to start a fitness regime other than to stay healthy and agile, it may be a good idea to get a personal trainer. In just a handful of sessions, you may be able to figure out your fitness niche and begin to form a regular routine based upon what you enjoyed most in training.

Do what you can with your resources

Not everyone will be lucky enough to have a gym or fitness centre on their doorstep so if this is the case, do what you can to keep fit with the amenities that are available to you. Arrange to go jogging socially with a friend once or twice a week, take up indoor exercises such as yoga or Pilates or maybe consider taking up an active hobby that you can keep to on your own throughout the week such as cycling or running on a morning and evening.


As aforementioned, a hobby can be an effective way to keep to a regular exercise routine as it promotes wellbeing by releasing tensions and endorphins on a regular basis, motivating you to go further with your fitness.

An enjoyable and active hobby besides swimming or cross-country running is cycling since it can provide a full body workout in a relaxed setting and save you considerable money on gym memberships too. Quality bike manufacturers such as Fatbirds stock a wide range of brand bikes to get any fit phobic started and give them the inspiration to stick to it.

Sprinting: The King of Cardio

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Apr 092014


When it comes to ‘doing cardio’ there are very few people who look forward to it, especially if your goal is to build muscle and achieve a lean physique.

Boring, tenuous steady-state cardio is not something worthy of highlighting in the diary. In truth, excessive cardio training can put too much stress on your body and potentially has more negative effects than positive.

It is a wonder why more people do not perform anaerobic sprints and explosive speed drills. On the scale of benefits, sprinting outweighs aerobic cardiovascular training every time.

Lose More Fat

Without getting overly technical and scientific, sprint training ensures that more of the carbohydrates that you eat are partitioned and stored in the muscles, rather than as fat. Alongside burning more calories, sprinting also boosts the amount of certain enzymes in the body. These enzymes encourage the body to store more calories within the muscles rather than as fat storage.

Sprints are also a more effective fat burner than steady-state cardio according to a study in 1994 entitled ‘Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism’, in which participants took part in either 20 weeks of aerobic training or 15 weeks of interval training. The interval group lost over 8 times as much body fat.


Increase Strength & Build Muscle

As your body fat percentage descends, your bone strength and density increases with sprint training. In addition, anaerobic training helps the body to build new muscle tissue and increases the strength of your muscles.

Sprint training employs and increases the size of the type II fast-glycolytic muscle fibres, which are the bigger and more powerful type of muscle fibre in the body. Protein synthesis is also increased. Providing your diet is correct you will see muscle gain and a leaner physique.


Sprinting is very taxing on the body and requires a high-level of intensity. This intensity cannot be maintained for a prolonged period of time, therefore the optimal amount of time for a sprinting session is around 20 minutes. It will be a tough, painful 20 minutes, however the benefits your body will reap in that short space of time outweighs even an hour of steady-state cardio.


Increase Endurance

Performing sprints increases the body’s endurance –believe it or not! Despite being an anaerobic exercise, sprinting increases the body’s ability to store oxygen. A 2011 study by Macpherson and Hazell found that sprinting is more effective at improving endurance capacity than steady-state cardio.

Brain Food

All forms of exercise have been proven to reap some form of mental benefits and improve mood. Sprinting, however, blows them all out of the water. It improves hormone balance and decreases brain inflammation making you feel invigorated and energised.

Regardless of your physical goals, any active person can benefit more from sprint training. Try adding it into your exercise regimen and evaluate the results after a period of time. The majority of people would like to either improve mood and brain function, lose some body fat or build some extra muscle. It seems this super-exercise is a must-do with advantages for everybody, yet people are still sticking to the watching-paint-dry 60 minutes jogs – very bizarre!

This post was written by Joe Hurley a senior writer at HFE, the fitness course experts.

Dec 052013

train-like-mma-fighterTo be an MMA fighter, you have to be strong, move quickly, and you have to think on your feet. It’s no easy task – that’s why so many people fail in this sport. But, those who stick with it find that, even if they never compete professionally, they get into great shape and are very capable of defending themselves in a street fight. Before you rush out to the training center though, you should forge a solid foundation.

Bodyweight Pushups

Get your MMA Shorts on and get ready to do some pushups. It’s a sort of poor-man’s version of the bench press, but don’t underestimate it. Most people can’t do 10 good pushups with good form. Get on your hands and knees. Put your palms flat on the floor, a little wider than shoulder-width apart.

Now, retract your scapula – your shoulder blades. Pretend you’re pinching a piece of paper or a dollar bill between your shoulders. This is the proper shoulder position that will protect them and force you to lift with your pectoral muscles.

Now, put your feet together and kick them out behind you. At the top position (the starting position), your back should be mostly flat, with just a slight arch. If your back is rounded or you have a sway back (severely arched), don’t do the pushup. Check your form and start over. Have someone watch you the first time.

A full pushup is one where your nose touches the floor. Don’t cheat the reps by arching your back, rounding your shoulders, or rounding your back. Your shoulder blades need to stay retracted. It’s a short movement, but don’t let that fool you. It’s incredibly hard to do correctly. Work your way up to 3 sets of 10.

The Squat

There’s probably no better exercise for MMA than the barbell squat. If you’re looking to learn how to perform this movement correctly, your best bet is to study coaches like Mark Rippetoe, who have been coaching for more than 25 years. The squat focuses on something called “hip drive,” giving you more power through the hips and legs, which is something you’ll love when you start grappling and kicking.

It also has the tendency to build muscle all over the body, since stabilizing the bar on your back requires the use of most of the body’s stabilizing muscles. You can even get a good abdominal workout by properly performing the squat.


Dips train the chest and arms directly. You can do this either on a bench or a parallel dip station. The important thing to keep in mind with dips is that you want to make sure your triceps are parallel to the floor at the bottom of the movement. Many people cheat the move and never get the benefit of working the arms and chest fully.

Once you can do 3 sets of 10, it’s time to start adding weight using a dip belt.

Mike Ripberger is an MMA instructor. He loves blogging about the fundamentals of martial arts and how the sport can benefit you.

Oct 132011

The stomach area is usually the hardest, and last place you will lose fat when exercising and dieting. It’s stubborn, yet there is no magic cure to targeting fat loss from this area. However, when you combine the following exercises, with a low fat diet, you will see results within 4 weeks.

Unfortunately, you cannot just lose fat from your stomach. You need to follow the general fat loss principles and you will lose fat from your whole body, including your stomach. Fat is burnt when performing cardio, or aerobic exercises. This type of exercise is long duration, moderate intensity exercise. In other words, you elevate you heart rate to about 70% of your max heart rate, and sustain this for a minimum of 20 minutes.

When performing cardio exercise, your body uses fat stores as energy during the exercise. It uses fat stores from all over your body, as I mentioned earlier, there is no way of targeting burning fat just off your stomach. Research as shown for optimal weight loss, it is recommended that you perform 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, at an intensity of 70% of your max heart rate, at least 4 days a week.

Once you start burning fat form the area, by exercising and eating a low fat diet, its now time to tone an tighten the abdominal muscles. There is no point starting these exercise earlier as they will never be seen if there is a layer of fat covering them! The three best ab toning exercises are crunches, oblique crunches and the plank.

Crunches are basically 1/2 of a traditional sit-up. Start by lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Make sure your feet stay on the floor throughout the exercise, if they lift off you are using you hip flexor muscles more than your abs. Place your hands behind you neck. Never pull you neck with your hands, they are just there for support. Breathe in as you lift you head and shoulders off the floor towards your knees, then breathe out as you return to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of as many as you can!

Oblique crunches are a variation of the above exercise. As you lift you head and shoulders off the floor, twist your body as if trying to get your right shoulder to your left knee. This exercise targets the oblique muscles more than the rectus abdominus (six pack) muscles at the front of your stomach.

The final exercise is the plank. It is important you don’t hold your breathe when doing this exercise. You start by lying on your stomach. raise your body off the floor so your body-weight is supported on your elbows and feet. Try and hold this position for as long as possible. If you feel any back pain stop the exercise immediately.

In summary, the first step in losing stomach fat is starting a low fat diet and an aerobic exercise program. When you start losing fat, ad din resistance exercises and you will tone and strengthen the area, creating a six pack in no time!

This is a guest post by Susan. To learn more of the fastest way to lose weight off your stomach please visit Susan Johnsons blog here.

Thigh Slimming Exercises – Remarkable Truth About Slimming Your Thighs

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Sep 012010

Rubber bands, Thighmasters, elliptical machines, and lunges all work on your thighs, but are they really thigh slimming exercises? You do not want to work and work and only find out your legs are getting larger, not smaller.

Before we jump into any exercises it is important you understand your own body very well. If you are looking for thigh slimming exercises hoping to lose fat in only your thighs it is very unlikely to happen. Fat goes on in sequence. Think back to when you gained weight and what time in the sequence your thighs began to get larger. Some people gain weight first in their buttocks, then thighs, and lastly their waist. In this sequence as you exercise and diet you would lose size and fat in the last area to gain it. You waist would decrease first, followed by your thighs, and lastly your buttocks. Knowing what to expect can help you avoid frustration because you can see progress and know your goal is approaching.

The second fact you must understand before beginning thigh slimming exercises. Exercise alone seldom slims any body part. You will need to cut back calories, eliminate processed sugars, and reduce fat in order to lose fat and get the leaner, slimmer, firmer look you want.

Now that we have all the preliminaries out of the way, thigh slimming exercises are actually very easy. You have basically only three motions your are needing to complete to work the entire thigh effectively.

The inner thighs are often the area most complained about, especially among women. To target firmer muscles in this are requires a squeezing motion. You can use a thigh machine in the gym, a Thighmaster you buy online, or use a ball. Placing a ball between your knees and then squeezing your knees together tightly is a very effective method to firm the inner thigh muscles.

For the front of your thighs leg extensions or squats are the preferred exercises. If you are going to a gym check out the machines for doing leg extensions. This will target the quadriceps in the front of your leg firming them rapidly. If you are working out at home the easiest exercise will be the squat. Starting out you can just use body weight, dropping down until your knees reach 90 degrees, and then power back up. As you develop a little strength hold a pair of dumbbells in your hand for added resistance, or use a barbell held on your shoulders.

The last area of your thighs you need to target is the back of your legs. The hamstrings are most effectively worked with leg curls, but this requires the use of a leg curl machine or bench. If you are working out at home you can do lunges. Lunges consist of putting one foot behind you, the other foot ahead of you. Bend the knee in front deeply until the knee reaches 90 degrees. Your back knee will likely touch to the floor. At this point power back up to a straight front leg. Repeat on this leg for about 10 reps and then rotate legs.

Thigh slimming exercises are not magical, they are actually very simple in nature. The most important aspect is to recognize the need for proper diet and nutrition to help lose the fat while you firm the muscles.

Stomach Flattening Exercises – Your Stomach Can Be Flat And Sexy

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Sep 012010

Looking in the mirror and seeing a paunch where a flat stomach belongs can make you feel a little sad. You know how much better you can look with a flat stomach but it seems so hard to achieve. The proper stomach flattening exercises is the first step to getting the abs you want quickly.

Time for a quick reality check. There are two types of problem stomachs. There are stomachs which are lean but not flat. Women who have been pregnant know exactly what we are talking about. Then there are stomachs with an extra layer of fat which are not flat. While both types of stomachs respond well to stomach flattening exercises, if you have extra fat we need to talk for a moment.

No matter how many crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, or other exercises you do, your stomach cannot be flat unless we get rid of the excess fat. The good news, with proper exercise your effort to lose the extra weight is going to become much easier. Your muscles will help support a faster metabolism making losing those extra pounds easy. A simple piece of advice to help you out. Just cut out the foods which are high in sugars and fats while exercising and the weight will slide off easily and naturally.

The number one exercise to flatten your stomach has been used by athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness models for decades. The simple ab crunch is one of the most effective of all exercises and one you must include to get the best looking stomach possible. You are going to focus on two varieties of this simple exercise.

The first variety is the standard ab crunch. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your hands to the side of your head lightly touching your ears, elbows out to the side. Notice, you do not put your hands behind your head or lock your fingers. To complete the exercise simply roll your shoulders and head up off the floor while keeping your lower back flat on the floor. Work up to doing 3 sets of 20 to 25 reps. When this becomes easy you can add weight on your chest to increase the resistance.

The second variety is the Cross Body Crunch. Be prepared this one is harder and is going to target muscles you do not commonly use. Start off in exactly the same position, but this time when you do a rep you lift your left knee while rotating your right elbow towards the knee. This rotation during the crunch pulls heavily on the muscles to the side and help to make them tighter and stronger giving you an increasingly flat stomach. Work up to 3 sets of 20 reps rotating sides.

Most people want to make stomach flattening exercises too difficult. These two simple forms of crunches target your entire abdominal area and can create impressive looking abs. Your stomach will become flatter, stronger, and athletic looking.

Rhomboid Exercises – Power Packed Backs Include Strong Rhomboids

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Sep 012010

What back muscles do you hear talked about in the gym all the time? Usually the ones which are brought up in every discussion are the trapezius (traps), the latissimus dorsi (lats), and the lower back muscles. For some reason no one spends much time talking about their rhomboids which provide the powerful pull which bring your scapula (shoulder blades) inward towards your spine. Rhomboid exercises are very important to building the deep cuts in your back and in increasing your overall pulling strength.

The traps and lats are the two groups everyone thinks about due tto their impressive size and ability to be worked easily. Rhomboid exercises are no more difficult and actually help to enhance the workout of all your other back muscles.

One of the most popular exercises to target your rhomboids is the bent over barbell row. It is a common exercise included in many beginning weight lifting workouts. In addition to the rhomboids it works your lats, shoulders, and biceps. The important aspect of using the bent over barbell row is to complete the exercise fully with proper form. Many lifters do not pull the bar all the way to their chest pulling their shoulder blades tightly together at the top. This is the place the rhomboids get their work is when the shoulder blades pull in. If you pull only with your arms and outer back muscles you are failing to target the rhomboids.

One problem with bent over barbell rows is the ease of rocking your body to assist in the lift. Form often fails and isolation disappears. Other rhomboid exercises are more effective at eliminating the rock and increasing isolation. One of the best is the incline bench pull. Setup your weight bench as if you were doing an incline bench press but lie on your stomach. Place the bar below you. Do the same motion of pulling the bar to your chest (actually the back of the bench) just as you did in the bent over barbell row. Since you cannot rock you are isolating the muscle and getting more effective work directed to the rhomboid.

A barbell limits motion due to being a one piece bar. By changing to dumbbells you can increase the range of motion and get a more complete pull on the muscle. Rhomboid exercises using dumbbells include Two Hand Bent Over Dumbbell Rows, One Hand Rows, and Two Hand Reverse Palm Rows. All of these lifts give you greater range of motion and freedom of arm movement.

Make sure you include a variety of rhomboid exercises in your workout plan to help round out the appearance and depth of your back. The rhomboid muscles play an important role in your body symmetry and power. To ignore this critical muscle will leave you with a weaker back with higher risks of injury. Since the lifts all give added advantages to the rest of your back, arms, and shoulders they are a great addition to any workout.

Multifidus Exercises – Improve Back Stability And Reduce Back Pain

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Sep 012010

Do you have any idea what the multifidus muscle is? It is rare to run into anyone who has ever heard of these muscles unless they are having back problems. The multifidus muscles are the tiny muscles running up and down the spinal column. These tiny muscles are considered among the most powerful muscles in your body and they better be. When the multifidus are not doing their job properly back pain is sure to follow. To keep these muscles in prime shape can be accomplished with a series of multifidus exercises.

There are two types of exercises you are going to want to use for your spinal column. The two types of multifidus exercises are strength conditioning and stretching. When used in combination these two forms of exercise can improve existing back problems or help ward off problems in the future.

One of the best exercises to strengthen the multifidus is the back extension. These can be performed using either a back extension machine in a fitness center or doing back extensions over an exercise ball at home. Back extensions are basically arching your back lifting your head and shoulders by using the muscles surrounding the spine.

Another strengthening exercise you may wish to add to your workout is the Dorsal raise. It is very similar to the back extension except you do not get any forward bend at the waist since you starting from lying flat on the floor. Put your hands to the side of your head and lift your head and shoulders from the floor while keeping your hips and legs flat to the floor.

To stretch the back and multifidus muscles you can first do a back slump. You are on your hands and knees on the floor and then you slump your back downwards letting your stomach go down while your shoulders and hips flex upwards. Do not flex hard, just let your back stretch out.

The second of the multifidus exercises for stretching your back is the back arch. This time arch your back upwards like a cat arching and hissing. This stretches the muscles from the other direction and helps to increase the flexibility and ability to move easily under stress.

While none of these exercises are difficult they are often completely ignored in workouts. Until we injure our back we tend to ignore these tiny supporting muscles. Our spine is the critical communication center of our entire body. When the back is hurting nothing else will work right in the rest of the body.

Adding multifidus exercises to your exercise routine helps to build up the strength and flexibility of your back. Your back will become stronger and able to handle work with ease. If you have suffered a back injury, or have persistent lower back pain, these exercises can help you develop the supporting muscles and ease the pain you have been suffering. Always ask your doctor about exercise if you have sustained a previous injury. Only 5 minutes a day of extra exercise can protect your back saving you days, weeks, or a lifetime of back pain.

Sep 012010

Weighted medicine ball workouts can be a highly effective way to train your body. You can target almost every muscle in your body, producing gains in strength and flexibility. The range of motion allowed by the medicine ball makes it superior to many forms of resistance exercise, and with the added benefit of throwing, it is very effective.

Medicine ball workouts can be one of most efficient ways to improve your body when you have limited space and resources. They take up almost no room and the investment in buying a quality ball is very low.

Here are a few exercises you can do with a medicine ball to improve your body.

The Woodchopper – Start with your feet spread approximately shoulder width apart. Hold the ball high over head with both hands. Bring the ball down swinging it like an axe, coming between your legs. Maintain control all through the swing, not allowing yourself to get wildly out of control. Go back to the top position and repeat until you have done 20 reps.

The Squat Press – Hold the ball in front of you at chest level with both hands. Bend deeply at the knees. Now quickly stand to an upright position while extending both arms high about your head. The movement looks very similar to shooting a basketball. Do 20 reps.

Weighted Ab Crunches – Using the medicine ball for weight on your chest, do abdominal crunches lifting your head and shoulders. Do a minimum of 20 reps.

Seated Twist – Sit down on the floor with your legs in front of you. Holding the ball extended directly in front of you twist your body slowly side to side. Go as far as your range of motion allows. Do 20 reps to each side.

Toe Touches – Lying on your back bring your legs up to a 90 degree angle. With the ball held straight out behind you on the floor, lift with your arms and shoulders bringing the ball up to touch your toes. This one will give you a great burn. Do 20 reps.

Circles Swings – One of the most basic of the medicine ball workouts movements is the circle. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the ball in both hands, down in front of your. Now with complete control bring the ball in a full circle going to the left. Once you are at the bottom reverse and go to the right. Complete 20 reps in both directions.

Medicine ball workouts are not difficult or complex. They are simple movements using the weight of the ball for added resistance. Due to the ease of movement, full range of motion, and resistance they are a favorite method of training for many trainers and sports fitness experts. They are easy on the joints and easy to handle. You can develop great physical condition with just a simple medicine ball. Give it a try, it is fun and challenging at the same time.

Fitness Ball Workouts – Terrific Workouts In The Privacy of Your Own Home

 Exercises, Fitness Tips  Comments Off on Fitness Ball Workouts – Terrific Workouts In The Privacy of Your Own Home
Sep 012010

The great thing about fitness ball workouts is how they can be used in fitness classes and just as easily be done right at home. A fitness ball is one of the lowest cost pieces of fitness equipment and adds tremendous flexibility to your workouts.

You may have already ran to the store and bought an exercise ball and now it sits there in your home. You are trying to figure out what your next step should be. Here are a few great fitness ball exercises to get you started exploring the fun of getting fit.

Elevated Push-ups – If you want to develop your chest this is a great exercise. Place your feet and ankles up on the exercise ball and assume a standard push-up position with your hands on the floor. You perform a standard push-up but with the added resistance and balance required by using the exercise ball.

Balanced Push-ups – If the elevated push-up is too difficult it is time to turn around. Keep your toes on the floor and place your hands on the top of the ball. Do your push-ups from this position. You will discover the push-up requires less arm strength but greater balance.

Back Extensions – To improve the strength of your lower back. Rest your stomach across the exercise ball with your shoulders extending forward beyond the surface of the ball. While keeping your back straight bring your shoulders down bending lightly at the waist, then straighten again by using the power of your back.

Crunches – Abdominal Power – Your fitness ball workouts can include several varieties of crunches to improve your core power. The first is to lay on your back on the floor. Put your feet and lower legs on the fitness ball, then proceed to do ab crunches by rolling your head and shoulders up off the floor. Another crunch is the core crunch. Kneel on down facing the fitness ball placing your lower arms and wrists on the ball. Press your elbows and wrists deeply into the ball by crunching your abdominal muscles. A final variety of ab crunch is to keep your feet on the floor, sit with your buttocks and hips on the ball, and then lean back. Perform your ab crunches from this position. It requires more muscles to maintain balance increasing the effectiveness of the exercise.

Superman – Build Core Strength – The superman is one of the classic moves in fitness ball workouts. Keeping your toes on the floor, place your hips on the ball. Reach above and ahead of yourself in the position of superman flying. Work on holding the position and balance using your back muscles and abs. It looks easy, but is much harder than it appears.

This is just a small sampling of the exercises you can included in fitness ball workouts. You can target almost any body part using your fitness ball, and improve your overall fitness. While a ball may be the simplest form of exercise equipment it can be one of the most effective, too.

Exercise Programs – Secrets to Choosing The Right Exercise Program for You

 Exercises, Fitness Tips  Comments Off on Exercise Programs – Secrets to Choosing The Right Exercise Program for You
Sep 012010

Choose the right exercise programs has become a dizzying experience. Great fitness centers have programs coming out their ears. They have water aerobics, weight training, aerobic boxing, water aerobics, exercise machines, and many other choices. How are you ever going to choose the right program for you?

Do you know the number one way most women choose an exercise program? They go to the same class one of their friends is going to. They have no idea whether it will help them achieve the goals they have in mind, but their friend wanted them to come along.

Guys, quit laughing. Do you know how guys choose an exercise program? They look on the list for the most masculine sounding class possible and sign up. It may not have anything to do with their physical needs, but it does stroke the ego.

Choosing the right exercise programs must start with knowing what you want to accomplish. Are you wanting to lose weight and get slim? Are you wanting to gain muscle? Are you wanting to feel stronger and more powerful while getting lean? How do you want your body to look in one month, six months, and one year?

If you are wanting to gain muscle you have only one choice. You must lift weights or use resistance machines. Muscles only grow through being forced to adapt by lifting heavier weights. Nothing else works consistently.

Losing weight and getting slim is a really challenging goal. You need to define your desires even further. Do you want to look long and lean? Then you may want to try Pilates. Do you want to look athletic like a runner? A step aerobics class could be the perfect choice. Do you want to look stronger and more athletic like a gymnast or Olympic swimmer? Then lifting weights is the best option.

Now it is time to get really serious in considering what is best for you and your body. Choosing multiple exercise programs is usually the ideal situation. Choose a program for aerobic training you love and will stick to. If you love fast action, powerful movements, and grunting try a Tae Bo, Kickboxing, or Boxing exercise program. If you love to dance with a full room of women jump into a Jazzercise class. Do your aerobics classes or training 3 to 4 times each week.

For the second part of your program get started in a strength conditioning or weight lifting program. The added strength and muscle will help firm and condition your body. You will increase your metabolism with a little extra muscle. You will become stronger. Do your resistance training 2 to 3 times per week. A good schedule is to do aerobic or cardiovascular exercise on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Do your strength exercise programs on Tuesday and Thursday.

By combining two different exercise programs you can get a much fitter, stronger, and healthy body. This combination helps to keep away injuries from repetitive routines, and keeps your interest high. It is a winning way to design your exercise plan.

Breathing Exercises for Anxiety – Reduced Stress Through Proper Breathing

 Exercises, Fitness Tips, Health  Comments Off on Breathing Exercises for Anxiety – Reduced Stress Through Proper Breathing
Sep 012010

Anxiety, nervousness, and fear all have one thing in common. They can be reduced by taking control of our bodies. Breathing exercises for anxiety can be a very effective way to release or reorganize your feelings and release stress.

Are you questioning why this might work? Stop and think about how your body reacts in moments of anxiety and fear. You get tight. Your breathing become shallow and faster. Your mind is going a mile per minute and is running out of control.

Breathing exercises for anxiety helps you accomplish two things. The first is physiological. You are taking control of your breathing response on purpose. The second thing is you are taking control of your thoughts. You are changing your mental focus from the anxiety to controlling your breathing.

To get started find a place you can sit down comfortably. If you cannot sit, then find a relaxing place to sit you can practice your breathing exercises standing or laying down.

Make sure you keep your back straight but relaxed. The simplest method of breathing exercises for anxiety is to breathe in deeply for a count of five. Then gently release the breath releasing it slowly for a count of five. Make sure you do not hesitate, or catch, your breath in between the inhale and exhale. You do not need to hold the breath. Practice this rate of breathing for two to five minutes.

Another variety of this method is to inhale for five seconds and then allow the breath out in five short bursts of one second each. The benefit in this method is not as much physiological as it is aiding in changing mental focus. You will need to think about your breathing a little more allowing you to release anxious thoughts.

As you practice either of these breathing exercises for anxiety it is a good idea to close your eyes and relax. Try to fall into a meditative state where you only focus on the breathing in and out. You will feel your body and mind begin to relax as you change focus.

Some people report a higher feeling of relaxation by focusing on breathing in through their nose and out through their mouth. The only way you will discover which works best for you is to give it a try. For one session of deep breathing try using only your mouth and see how it feels. The next time try using your nose for all your intake. You will quickly know what feels natural and proper to you.

The other physiological advantage to practicing these forms of exercises is the increased levels of blood oxygenation. This allows your brain to receive more oxygen, think more clearly, and can help you relax.

Breathing exercises for anxiety do not need to be difficult in order to be effective. Step away from the anxiety and troubling thoughts by taking a few deep breaths and regaining control of your mind. You will discover you have more control over anxiety than you ever thought possible.

Brain Gym Exercises – Smart Moves For Your Body Which Improves Your Mind

 Exercises, Health  Comments Off on Brain Gym Exercises – Smart Moves For Your Body Which Improves Your Mind
Sep 012010

You have probably heard people talk about the body-mind connection. Do you have any idea how powerful this connection really is? Your body plays a critical role in communicating thoughts, feelings, and ideas to your brain. By improving your body responses you improve your ability to think clearly. Brain Gym Exercises are designed to keep your mind engaged and ready for action.

Brain gym exercises are not strenuous and can be accomplished by virtually any adult or child. In schools which have added these exercises to their classrooms they have seen great gains in focus and concentration.

While almost any exercise can help stimulate blood flow and increase your concentration there are a few exercises which can be practiced easily in a classroom setting to help stimulate the entire class.

Let us take a look at a couple of the easy exercises you can use. The first one is called Brain Buttons. This one is very simple but helps get the mental motors running a little faster. Take one hand and using the thumb and forefinger start tapping just below the collar bone. While continuing tapping in this area use your other hand to start patting your stomach over your belly button. This simple movement may lead to a few laughs in the class, but it will help get blood flowing to the brain and prepare those young minds to excel in class.

The next exercise is a little more active, but requires almost no space and is fun. Stand-up and while lifting your left knee tap it with your right hand. Alternate lifting the right knee and tapping with your left hand. This crossing over movement engages more areas of your brain, gets the blood flowing and will help the class be mentally alive.

These two exercises are very simple and just adding them for yourself or a classroom can make major changes to concentration levels and learning ability.

One other big recommendation from Brain Gym Exercises has nothing to do with exercise but everything to do with the importance of water for our brain function. When we are not hydrated properly our mental processes slow making our ability to focus difficult. It is recommended to drink plenty of water before and during classes.

These few exercises are just a start to improving your mind-body connection. Brain Gym has over a dozen separate exercises to help you improve your mental power and alertness. The biggest failure in education is leaving children behind. Often their only problem is a lack of focus. Using Brain Gym Exercises allows you to improve their mental preparedness for the class, which helps them excel. No one needs to fall behind due to lack of mental energy.

Since you can improve the ability to think with just a few simple steps are you going to get out there and do it? You can improve mental capacity and retention with very minimal effort by learning more about Brain Gym Exercises.

Antenatal Exercises – Make Your Pregnancy And Delivery Easier And Safer

 Exercises  Comments Off on Antenatal Exercises – Make Your Pregnancy And Delivery Easier And Safer
Sep 012010

Your pregnancy is going to place immense strains on your body. You are going to discover new aches and pains in your hips, stomach, back, and up into your rib cage. Labor and natural delivery is one of the most intensive physical activities any human can experience. Antenatal exercises can help you prepare your body making pregnancy less stressful, less painful, and much safer.

Before beginning any exercises during pregnancy make sure you take the time to consult with your obstetrician or mid-wife. They are the ones carefully monitoring your physical condition and can make recommendations on additional exercises, or exercises to avoid. Safety for you and your baby should always come first.

While not specific to pregnancy the first of the antenatal exercises we recommend is walking. It does not target a specific area but provides for overall conditioning, better blood circulation, and feelings of well being. You do not need to walk long distances for great benefits. If it is too hot or cold to walk outside head to your mall or favorite super center and do your walking there. 20 to 40 minutes walking a day is ideal for high levels of fitness and benefit.

Perhaps the most common antenatal exercises recommended by doctors, nurses, mid-wives, and trainers is the Kegel pelvic floor exercise. This exercise is very simple and can be done anywhere. While sitting comfortably tighten the same muscles in your pelvic floor you would use to stop urine flow. Hold them tightly for a count of 4 to 6, then release. Repeat this exercise 15 to 20 times. You can repeat this exercise about 3 times per day. The pelvic floor is important in supporting your baby and during delivery, do not overlook the importance of this simple exercise.

Abdominal strength is very important during pregnancy and delivery, but is very difficult to exercise. Sit-ups and ab crunches are out of the question. The most effective and easy abdominal exercise is the tummy tuck. Get down on your hands and knees. Keep your back straight and do not arch during this exercise. Simple attempt to pull your belly button back to your spine by compressing your abdominal muscle. Hold the tightened muscles for a couple second and then release. Repeat 15 to 20 times. You can do this exercise once per day to maintain and improve abdominal strength.

Back strength is equally important. Your back is attempting to support a new load developing out to the front. After finishing your tummy tucks stay on your hand and knees. Now is the time to arch your back slowly and gently. Bring your shoulders up and your hips up at the same time. This is a low stress form of back exercise, but can increase flexibility and strength.

Using only these three antenatal exercises can help increase your strength and allow you to more easily carry your baby. You can avoid many aches and pains and improve your strength for delivery. Check with your doctor and then get started exercising for a safer healthier pregnancy.

Weight Lifting For Runners – Do You Know How To Lift Properly For Running Success?

 Bodybuilding, Exercises  Comments Off on Weight Lifting For Runners – Do You Know How To Lift Properly For Running Success?
Jul 072010

Do you love running, but are ready to try to push yourself to the next level? Running takes great muscle endurance, fast recovery, muscular efficiency, and strength. Weight lifting for runners is not going to be similar to the workouts of a power athlete, or of most other athletes. For a runner, you need to train properly with weights if you want to get the greatest advantages.

First, are you a long distance runner, or are you a sprinter? The difference between weight training methods for these two athletes is tremendous. A sprinter needs explosive power, a strong upper body to help drive his momentum forward, and rapid speed. A long distance runner needs fitness, strength for stability and injury protection, and enhanced endurance. The long distance runner needs to have a fit upper body for efficient running motion, but does not want to be carrying excess bulk.

Let us take a quick look first at the needs of a sprinter. As a sprinter you are going to work on two elements in the weight room. You want to build strength in your legs and in your upper body. You want to work on fast movement. Do not get trapped into focusing on trying to lift for massive strength, focus on lifting weights a little lighter than a power athlete, and try to drive the weights up rapidly under control, lowering them more slowly to the starting position. Do repetitions in the range of 8 to 12 reps per set, possibly 3 sets of each exercise. Focus primarily on your legs and upper body for forward driving power. While the hamstrings are critical for running power and speed, the quadriceps are crucial for exploding out of the blocks. Always keep your mind oriented towards the combination of speed and power, instead of focusing only on power. Weight lifting for runners is not about out lifting everyone in the gym, it is about building up your ability to run faster.

For a long distance runner the weights decrease even further. You are not seeking the explosive launch out of the starting block, or the massive driving power of a sprinter. What you need is to build up stability muscles, support, and to increase your muscle endurance and efficiency. The best way to do this is to work with weights you can comfortably lift for 15 to 20 reps and to work on doing 3 sets of each exercise. Doing bench presses and barbell rows will give you plenty of upper body workout, and it should not be necessary to focus on the arms. For your legs do exercises for all muscle groups. By doing squats, hamstring curls, and toes raises you can target all your major leg muscles, and stabilizing muscles. The squats are going to help strengthen your lower back to give you better core strength.

For both types of runners getting a good abdominal workout is a good idea. Crunches, sit-ups, and leg raises can all be used. Having a strong abdomen in the center of your body provides the support and core strength for running. It is an essential part of weight lifting for runners. Make sure to do 3 sets with approximately 15 reps. By building a stronger body, and keeping your style of running in mind, you can reduce injuries, and increase your running efficiency, reducing your times, whether it is 100 meters or a full marathon.

Jul 072010

Your upper arms are a two sided adventure. You have the impressive biceps on the front of your arms. The true power and shape of your arms is determined even more importantly by the triceps on the rear of your arm. Ignoring either side in your upper arm exercises will leave you with unimpressive toothpicks, instead of the great arms your want.

The biceps are muscles most guys love to focus on. This is the impressive peak which they love to show off to admiring women, and jealous guys. To create arms which look impressive you must work hard on the biceps using powerful pulling or bending exercises like the barbell curl or dumbbell curls. The curling motion is the only form of exercise which directly targets the biceps muscle.

This may get you to start wondering why there are so many different forms of the curl. You have the standing barbell curl to build massive power and size. You can use standing dumbbell curls to give you more isolation while building your biceps. For complete isolation and building great peaks the preacher curl is one of the favorites. The preacher curl isolates the muscle completely by using an arm rest to stop your body swaying assist to the lift.

Many upper arm exercises use special curved bars to assist in muscle sculpting. The bars turn your hands slightly allowing for a more complete contraction of the muscle, and for you to be able to target different areas of your biceps.

The rear of your arms, the triceps, is where the real size and bulk of your arms will be developed. This is an extension exercise in contrast to the curling action for the biceps. Popular exercises include the lying triceps extension, the close grip bench press, and the triceps kick back. All of these exercises do a great job of isolating the triceps and helping you to pack on muscle.

The close grip bench press normally allows you to handle the most weight and is a favorite upper arms exercise for packing on more bulk. The triceps kick back and the lying triceps extension focus all the effort into the triceps and are great for creating definition.

The best way to use your upper arms exercises is to complete them both in the same day. You can start with working out your triceps by doing several sets of these exercises, and then switch to doing the curling motions for your biceps. By working the two sides back to back you get added benefits to both muscles. Many bodybuilders and power athletes will combine their upper arms workouts into the same days they workout their chest and upper back to give a complete pump to their upper body. By focusing on the push and pull of curls and extensions you will soon create great looking arms.