Big Props for the Park -6 Exercises Using a Park Bench

In honor of the start of fall, I want to give props to the park bench.
Here are a few ideas to get a great workout without having to go any farther than your neighborhood park:
1. Bench jumps
  • Start by squaring up your shoulders to the bench and slightly bending your knees.
  • With both legs, jump up onto the bench and try to land in the same position from which you started.
  • Jump back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Try to do three sets of 10 jumps to get started.

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2. Incline push-ups

  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the bench, and put your feet back into a plank position.
  • As you do a push-up, make sure to keep your back and neck in line with each other to prevent any strain on your neck.
  • Reverse your position for a more challenging option.

 

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3. Bulgarian split squats

  • Start by facing away from the bench.
  • Move your left foot back and lift it up onto the bench with your right foot still underneath you.
  • Slowly bend your right leg into a 90-degree angle. “Avoid bringing your knee over your toe and turning your hips,” said Kensie Noble, senior in kinesiology and president of Alliance for Health and Fitness Professionals Club.
  • Come back up to your starting position. That’s one rep. Try to finish two sets of 10 on each leg.

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4. Step-ups

  • Face the bench with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put your right foot onto the bench.
  • As you come to the top, drive your left knee into your chest before stepping back down.
  • Do 10 reps on each leg for three rounds.

 

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5. Side Step-ups

  • Stand parallel to the bench
  • Using your inside leg, step up onto the bench and drive the opposite knee upward.
  • Do 10 step-ups on each leg for three rounds.

6. Tricep Dips

  • Sit on the bench and position your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the seat.
  • With your legs extended out in front of you, scoot your butt off the seat so that your hands are the only thing touching the bench.
  • While keeping your back straight and close to the bench, use your arms to slowly lower yourself until your elbows are around a 90-degree angle.
  • Press down into the bench to raise yourself back to the starting position.
  • That’s one rep. Try to complete two sets of 15.

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With all of these exercises, make sure that you are using good form to prevent injuries. Put some headphones in or grab a friend, and go enjoy the great outdoors.

Indoor Rowing – Endurance, Flexibility, Cardio, Resistance

Lately, I have been trying to mix up my cardio between the treadmill, elliptical, and spinning. But lately another machine has been calling my name. It’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, works all the muscles in a single bound, Look! It’s a rowing machine.

That’s right, that little rowing machine off in the corner of the gym is one of the few super machines that work all the major muscles of the body at once while providing a cardio kick at the same time.

Starboard or Port? No need to memorize any boating terms to get a great rowing workout. Indoor rowing can be an endurance exercise, a flexibility exercise, a cardio exercise, and it invokes all the muscles of the body and trains them evenly. The pulling motion works the arms, shoulders, back, and abdomen. The legs, hips, and torso do the brunt of the work on the slide back, and it does this all with very little pressure on the joints. Because rowing is done with a fluid movement, the sliding motion doesn’t jar elbows or knees like other types of exercise.

You can adjust the rowing machine to create a tighter resistance to tone and build muscles. For that aerobic advantage, keep the tension low to maintain less resistance and higher speed, which improves endurance along with lung, heart and circulation systems. Rowing machines offer the best of all worlds in one exercise.

The power in each stroke or pull controls the flywheel on the rowing machine, and proper technique is key. The rhythm to rowing is Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover.

Be careful when sitting, because all rowers have movable seat pads. Strap your feet flat, straighten the torso while contracting the abdominal muscles, and grab the bar in a palms down grip by bending the knees, not rounding the spine. This starting position is called the catch.

Drive back with the feet to straighten the legs and begin to pull the bar forcefully as the legs finish straightening out. The pulling stroke is a rapid, constant horizontal motion all the way into the mid-section. Recover by bending the knees and straightening the arms to start the forward sliding motion back to the start. Now do it all over again, and again, and again. Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover. Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover.

The Foolproof Way To Get Back On Track When You Blow Your Diet

I was at the gym today on the treadmill listening to the two guys next to me lament about their ups and downs of weight loss. One of the guys had lost over 100 pounds several different times, which also means that he has gained over 100 pounds several times.

There is nothing as overwhelming as seeing that scale start to creep up. It happens to everyone, but how far you let the creep continue is up to you.

Scale creep happens because of the small, daily decisions, ones that you thought were just a big dinner, or a skipped workout were explained away in your mind as isolated incidents. But they are not. The little things add up, and they can add up fast if you don’t pay attention.

Gaining weight back is a similar path to how you took the weight off. When you lost one or two pounds a week, you made daily accountability decisions and choices that resulted in weight loss. Maybe it was your daily or weekly weigh-in on the scale, maybe it was your big salad for lunch, or pulling out your jeans to see if they fit yet. All of those little changes, those small decisions added up to your weight loss.

Gaining weight back follows a similar pattern. Remember, you didn’t lose the weight in a measured exact way of three pounds per week every week, and you don’t gain it the same way. It usually starts with one little trigger.

The Fourth of July bash and your birthday only a week apart … YIKES. One little trigger, for example an over the top meal: a big steak, baked stuffed potato, a little of the crab appetizer and the chocolate cheesecake, topped with drink after drink in celebration. You feel so lethargic the next day, which I call a food hangover, that you break your normal oatmeal/blueberry morning and you have a cup of coffee and a croissant just to function the next day and curb your food withdrawal.

Since you “messed up” breakfast, you say “screw” it to lunch and have the pizza you’ve been missing. Once you’ve had the pizza for lunch, you think, might has well have the fried chicken for dinner because I’ve totally blown it. What’s one more meal?

Maybe your scale ran out of batteries and you don’t have that accountability that you’ve been so diligent about when you lost weight. You just stop weighing in because you no longer have your scale. Two weeks go by and you’re so scared of seeing what that number will be, you go another week without weighing in. Three weeks turn into four and the pounds continue to pile on.

It can be as simple as wearing comfy sweats for 4 days in a row. They feel so big and roomy, that you eat an extra muffin and you think, wow, I must be doing great because everything still fits! (I’ve done that one myself, many times, then I finally “wake up”, pull up my jeans and say, ughh!!!! What was I thinking!?!??).

It’s all those little decisions, the same daily decisions you made when you were losing weight, that result in adding the pounds back.

The most FOOLPROOF to get back on track is to commit to one good day.

If one good day seems overwhelming , commit to one good meal. Just one. If you have already blown breakfast, then make your lunch your “on track” option … something that will give you energy, make you feel great, and give you the confidence that you can do it. Often, just one positive decision, one good lunch, one good run, can give you the jolt you crave to shake it up and get you back on the track of losing the weight. You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there. Get out of the water and get back on track!

Exercise Expectations

What You Can Expect From Exercise

The Shrot Term Benefit (right after you finish): Exercise works on the part of the brain that determines what kind of mood you’re in. No matter how rotten you feel when you start out, a good run, swim, bike ride, or walk can change that mood. If you’re already feeling good, you’ll even feel better.

The Long Term Benefit: After a few weeks your body will be firmer and more flexible. Your pulse will be slower when you’re not working out; a sign that your heart is working at a healthier pace. You’ll look better and the difference will start to show in your shape and how you carry yourself.
 
 What You Can’t Expect From Exercise

You can’t expect to look like a super model that  you see in a magazine, television or advertisement. If you went to take voice lessons, you might expect your voice to improve, but you wouldn’t expect to sound like Madonna. The same goes for your shape. You’ll end up with your body –  in shape,  not with the shape of someone else.
 
A Work Out That Works
The word exercise covers a lot of different activities, from walking to weight lifting. The best exercise is any kind that keeps your whole body moving for at least 20 minutes, makes you breathe harder than usual, makes you sweat, and gets your heart beating faster. 

A good exercise routine involves these four things:
Warming up
Conditioning
Cooling down
Stretching

Warming up
Before you begin working out at full force, start slowly by using the same motions you’ll be using when you’re exercising . By starting out easy, your giving your blood time to make its way to your muscles. The blood is fuel for those muscles, and if you don’t give it a chance to get to them, they might poop out on you. 
 
Conditioning
This is when you work your body so much that you feel a difference in your pulse rate and in the way you are breathing. During conditioning, you’re working out the most important muscle of all — your heart. Exercise that increases your pulse rate (makes your heart beat faster) is the kind that has all of the benefits like controlling your appetite and making you feel terrific. People who don’t exercise end up storing much more of what they eat as fat, than people who work out often. The reason for this is that muscles which are in good shape from conditioning use of a lot of energy, and fat uses hardly any energy at all. (Read: you burn more calories)
 
Cooling down
Don’t bring yourself to a sudden stop when you’ve finished your work out. Your body isn’t prepared to quit as quickly as you might be, and a sudden stop could cause cramps, dizziness, or even fainting. Slow to a stop by lightly doing whatever activity you’ve been doing, just at a slower pace.

 
Stretching
This softens and relaxes your muscles, allowing them to handle the extra stress you have put on them during your work out. Well-stretched joints are less likely to strain, or sprain. Even if you only have time for a quick stretch, doing it after your workout is key.
Make the most of your routine by including all four steps, and embrace your inner supermodel.

Eating Smart – Tips For Healthy Eating

This week is National Women’s Health Awareness Week.  Healthy eating begins with learning how to “eat smart”.  It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat.

 Take time to chew your food: Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite, especially if you are eating something really yummy. I tend to rush though meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors. Time to reconnect with the joy of eating.

Avoid stress while eating: When we are stressed, our digestion can get out of whack. Avoid eating while working, driving, arguing, or watching TV.  If you are stressed, most likely you are not paying attention to what or how much you are eating.  You don’t get a chance to enjoy your food, and you may unconsciously eat way too much. Don’t be the person who eats an entire bag of chips while watching TV, driving, or surfing the internet and then wonders where they all went. 

Listen to your body: Ask yourself if you are really hungry. You may be thirsty, you may be bored. Get up and do something to take your mind off the ‘hunger’ or try drinking a glass of water first.

During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. This is a big one.  By taking a few minutes before you feel full, you can cut serious calories from your diet without feeling deprived.  You must really pay attention to how your stomach is feeling, and stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly. I started doing this, and it has worked every time.  I am always amazed that even though I don’t feel full, if I stop eating, within a few minutes I feel full and sometimes stuffed.  Eating just enough to satisfy your hunger will help to feel your best, rather than stuffing yourself into a “food coma”!

 Eat early, eat often: Starting your day with a healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating the majority of your daily calories  earlier in the day gives your body time to burn those calories. Dinner should be your smallest meal of the day. Also, eating small, healthy meals throughout the day can really help keep your metabolism going strong and ensure that you don’t become “famished” and binge on crap snacks.

Welcome to awareness week. Time to become aware of how you eat, not just what you eat.

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