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.

How to Pump That Iron – 6 Principles of Weight Training

Strength training, a.k.a. resistance training, a.k.a. weight training, pumping iron, bodyweight training, lifting weights… whatever you call it, it’s one of the most beneficial forms of exercise for everyone regardless of age, gender or fitness background.

P.s. – it’s never too late, and you’re not too old to get started.  With that said, there is the right way and the not so right way to weight train, so here are some important principles to follow to ensure maximum benefit while minimizing the chance of injury.

  • Resistance. You have to use the right resistance to build muscle.  The amount of resistance has to be above what you are accustomed to in everyday life. So put down the soup can size dumbbells and choose something a little heavier. Not too easy, not to hard… but it should be just enough to allow you to finish your desired number of repetitions.
  • Balance.  Make sure you work your entire body to avoid imbalances in strength and posture and to avoid injury. Ever notice the guy who has an amazing chest, back and arms, only to see little chicken legs that never see the light of resistance?
  • Rest.  Rest between sets of each exercise for about 30 to 90 seconds.  This will provide your muscles with the proper recovery time prior to your next set.  Old school theory says that you should rest each body part a minimum of 48 hours before you train that same body part again. But the reality is that for maximum benefit, 72 – 96 hours is much better. Think about training each muscle group once a week.
  • Proper Technique.  This is my fave, and also my biggest pet peeve. Proper technique will ensure you are working the muscles designed for each exercise and help alleviate injuries. It also makes sure you aren’t just wasting your time. If you take the time to exercise, do it right to get the biggest bang for your buck.  You also want to breathe properly throughout the lift, exhaling as you lift the weight and inhaling as the weight is lowered.  Seek out the guidance of a certified trainer if you are a beginner or have questions.
  • Work. Make your muscles do the work. You will activate more muscle fibers and get a much better result if you lift and lower weights with purpose through your range of motion.  If you can’t lift a weight without swinging it or using momentum, it’s too heavy and you should lower the amount of weight you are attempting to lift. You might look cool lifting all that weight, but you are wasting your time and looking to get injured.
  • Attention. Pay attention to your body.  Never work through intense pain, and learn the difference between pain and muscle soreness/fatigue.  Muscle fatigue is that feeling when your muscles are tired, but pain makes you want to stop the movement.

These simple principles are a great starting point to your strength training plan. Whatever you want to call it, please make it a part of your exercise program.

Traveling with Kids: Eating Right and Catching Z’s

Happy Memorial Day Weekend. With summer vacation season upon us, I am so excited to have Kendra Thornton guest post on my blog.  Kendra is a mother of 3, and before being promoted to the full time position of mommy, she was the former Orbitz director of communications. She has traveled all around the world, and has a great perspective of Traveling with Kids: Eating Right and Catching Z’s.

 

Vacation is always fun with the kids. They get to go on adventures, see all new things and have fun. While planning for vacations seems like a lot of work, it’s kind of fun to arrange things and plot those surprises guaranteed to get the smiles. I really enjoy planning meals and packing for healthy snacks as well. It helps me remind my kids of what we eat at home and still allows for a treat while away.

 

1. Stay the Right Way

There are a ton of places out there that advertise as “family-fun” atmospheres” for kids, but really, that may only mean they have a pool and a low rate. You should avoid getting a cheap hotel, particularly if it doesn’t have good reviews.

 

– Go for a true family-fun experience with a well-reviewed hotel like Walt Disney Resort.

– Pick a hotel with free breakfast or discount meals for kids.

– Some hotels even have “Kids stay free” stickers. Check with the hotel first before booking to confirm.

– Find a great market or local grocery store to purchase some of the kid’s favorite breakfast items to quickly make in the morning.

– Cut down on the cost of eating out by making at least one meal per day and bringing food with you to theme parks.

– Many hotels in Orlando offer a quiet hours policy to ensure that their guests get a proper nights rest! This is absolutely wonderful!

 

2. Keep It Nutritious

Kids love vacations because it’s a free-for-all for getting away with anything, including eating any way they wish. However, you should bring along those snacks which they willingly enjoy and that aren’t all sugar.

 

– Purchase healthy snacks beforehand for each of your kids to have on the ride to your destination.

– Create mixes of their favorite crackers, nuts, pretzels and a sweet treat–like dried fruit, M&M’s or other chocolate-covered goody.

– Use sweet treats as a reward for being patient. If it’s been two hours in the car without a peep, give a pudding cup or cookie.

– Dried snacks are always good to bring along on road trips, so don’t skimp on the cereal, nuts, dried fruits, pretzels and crackers.

– If you have to make a quick stop for a meal, you can still make healthy decisions when eating fast foods!

 

3. Plenty of Rest

 

When you’re headed to a different time zone, remember to plan early for sleeping schedules. Kids need to adjust to when they should be asleep depending on the time zone. You can run into some serious issues if you don’t plan for jet lag with kids.

– Beat jet lag by changing sleeping schedules before the trip.

– Pack along a child’s favorite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal to sleep with.

– Allow kids to sleep on the ride or flight to the destination.

– Bring along books that will help them go to sleep at night.

With summer right around the corner and family vacations planned, I hope these travel tips will come in handy for you and your family!

 

 Kendra Thornton

 

I Want to Burn More Fat

Did you know that your body burns fat or carbs depending on the intensity of your activity? You burn fat even if your body is at rest. Actually, you are even burning fat right now sitting in the front of your computer. Your body is burning about one or two calories per minute (about 70 % comes from fat and about 30% comes from carbs).

When you exercise, as the intensity increases, your body starts using more and more carbohydrates for energy instead of fat. With high intensity aerobic exercise, 100 percent of the energy is coming from carbs. But here is where it gets interesting…when carbs are no longer available, your body will break down muscle and use it for energy. When carbohydrate stores are depleted, the rate at which fat is used as energy is reduced, and that’s why carbs are essential in order to metabolize fat.

The best way to lose fat is when you burn more calories than you eat on a daily basis, not because you burn fat when you are exercising.

When you eat after your workout, you rapidly replenish both the carbs and fats that you have used up during the workout. But as soon as an excess of calories (from either fats or carbohydrates) exists, your body will begin to store them as fat. So don’t go pig out after your workout or your body’s fat stores will be virtually unchanged.

This is why diet + exercise really do work the best, but your exercise regime must include cardio and WEIGHT TRAINING. When in doubt, do resistance training.

The key to fat loss is to manage your calories, so your body doesn’t store them as fat, and to boost your metabolism so that your body is continuously burning calories at a higher rate 24/7. People with muscle mass are automatically burning more calories (and fat). Every 1 pound of muscle that you build on your body will burn up to 3,000 extra calories a month which equals roughly .5 pounds of fat. I know that .5 pounds doesn’t sound like much, but that .5 pounds is burned by doing nothing but sitting around. It is a way to give you an added advantage as you continue on your weight loss path.  Bonus – more muscle makes you look healthier and slimmer!

So, the perfect combo is healthy diet, resistance training, and cardio.

Secrets of weight training

Weight training is the new cardio.  I don’t think it is a replacement for cardio, but the benefits of weight training are endless… for men and women.

I love weight training, and I have been doing it for over 12 years. I am always learning new ways to maximize my workouts and my results. Just walk into a bookstore, or browse online and you’ll find hundreds of books all ready to teach you how to gain the benefits of weight training, but there are a few steps you should adhere to no matter what your goals. These steps will ensure optimal results from you weight training activities.

Step # 1: Make your workouts short. Weight training programs should never last more than one hour. Remember, you’re placing stress on the muscles as you lift weights. An hour is the maximum time to exercise without causing stress and possible injuries.

Step # 2: Make your workout intense. During weight training sessions one of your goals should be to challenge your body, so it adapts by building new muscle cells and burning body fat. If you are going to take the time to lift weights, really make it worth your while. I had a football coach tell me that the last rep should look like the first rep.  This little tip helped me to make sure my intensity was at full throttle throughout the entire set.  The last rep won’t feel like the first one, as there is a pretty good chance it will be painful (in a good way) and exhausting, but if you keep good form and intensity, it will show in your results.

Step #3: Consistently change your weight training routines. Regardless of whether you are trying to burn fat, improve sports performance, boost your metabolism, get more tone, or become a body builder, change is a must. To reach your goals most effectively and work smarter, you must constantly challenge your body. Your body can adapt very quickly to repetitive routines week after week. Adding more weight, changing the routine and changing the number of repetitions are all excellent ways to keep change in your weight training workouts.You should change your workout routine at least every four weeks, but you can mix it up every week if you prefer.

 

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