Tag: gym

5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

SONY DSCWhen it comes to exercise, it’s always good to mix it up a bit, but there are also times when your exercise routine may be ready for a more major overhaul. Because exercise is a personal thing, and your workout results (and problems) can only be recognized by you, here are a few things to be on the lookout for to determine if you need a shakeup in your shapeup. No matter if you’re a novice to physical fitness or an expert, here are 5 signs that you need to switch up your exercise regime ASAP! –

  1.  If you’re working out and eating properly, you should be seeing results. If you aren’t seeing anything noticeable in the mirror, or if your clothing sizes haven’t changed (or gotten tighter), it’s likely that you need a new exercise routine. With the right routine, you should be able to watch your body transform, even if it is only a little bit. Inches should be coming off and you should start to see more tone to your body.
  2. If in the beginning you wanted to lose weight and improve your endurance, so you did a lot of cardio exercises, such as running on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, etc. However, now that you’ve lost weight and built-up your endurance, you want to focus more on gaining muscle, which requires lifting weights. When your fitness goals change, your workout routine should change with them.
  3. Exercising releases hormones within the brain that are supposed to induce a happier mood. If you’re unhappy with your exercise routine, you rush through your exercises, you cannot wait to get out of the gym, or you find yourself losing focus when you work out, you may be bored. A boring workout is never a good one, and it only makes sense to change it. Being unhappy with your workouts means that you aren’t doing exercises that make you feel good. You should be enthused (okay if ‘enthused’ doesn’t quite describe you, let’s just say you shouldn’t dread your workout), and by the end of it all you should be happy with the physical activity that you do.
  4. You could do your workout routine with your eyes closed. You don’t sweat nearly as much as you used to. You don’t have to put forth a lot of effort to complete your workout. When your workout becomes a walk in the park instead of a challenge, it’s definitely time to change things around. You want your workouts to challenge you and to cause you to push yourself to the limit. If you are going to take the time to exercise, you might as well make it count.
  5. Since the day you’ve started working out until now, you’re been doing the same exact exercise. Even though you’re comfortable with this routine, it’s always helpful to switch up your routine at least every couple of weeks. Doing the same workout for months at a time could not only lead to boredom, but your body get used to the workout and you may find that your exercises are now completely and ineffective.
Know Your Gym Lingo

Know Your Gym Lingo

Remember that feeling of the first day of school, the first day at a new job, or showing up to a party not knowing anyone? The first day at the gym can bring up those same kinds of feelings.

 

For many new gym goers, the gym can be an intimidating place trying to learn how all the machines work and then there are all these terms that you start hearing. Lifting weights, also called resistance training or strength training, is any type of exercise that requires the body to move against an opposing force. Think about exercises that push, pull, lift, and cause that grunt and groan.

 

The following are some of the most common terms you might hear when weight training. It may also give you some ideas of how to mix up your routine.

Superset: A superset is when an individual does one lifting movement and then immediately does another movement for a different body part. Example: Push-ups then right into squats

 

Giant Sets: Giant sets are performed when an individual completes more than two movements in a row without rest. Example: pull downs (back), crunches (stomach), then squat jumps (legs).

Concentric: This is the “positive” movement of the exercise. Example: the curling up when completing a dumbbell curl or the pressing down when completing and tricep pushdown.

Eccentric: This is the “negative” portion of the exercise. Example: straightening the arms after curling them in a bicep curl. Super-secret tip: do this part of the exercise slowly (count to five), and your muscles will tone up much faster.

Isometric: There is no movement during and isometric exercise. Example: a plank or a wall sit.

Drop sets: This is when an individual will take the amount of weight they are lifting and lower it by a percentage in order to complete more reps. Example: Leg curls for 10 reps at 40 pounds, then drop the weight to 30 pounds for 10 more reps.

I Want to Burn More Fat

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.

Fuel Up – What To Eat Before You Workout

Fuel Up – What To Eat Before You Workout

Plenty of energy and a calm stomach are two keys to a great workout.

Not sure what and when to eat before you exercise? Here are a few of my faves that have ideal amounts of carbs and protein to keep you fueled up. Bonus—they’re easy to prepare.

Oatmeal: It settles well and provides long-lasting energy, while added fruit will hit the bloodstream quickly to get you going. I add a scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of flaxseed to mine with a slash of milk to cool it down.

A whole-wheat bagel with jam: “Simple carbs burn quickly, like paper, while complex carbs burn like wood and take a little longer to provide energy. An easy-to-digest whole-grain bagel with jam or a drizzle of honey combines both types of carbs. It’s an easy way to fuel your workout from start to finish.

Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt contains substantial protein and carbs, and less sugar than the regular kind, and unless you’re lactose intolerant, it’s easy on the stomach, which is ideal before intense activity or bouncing exercises like Zumba or plyometrics. Add fruit, honey, or ¼ cup of whole-grain cereal for an extra energy kick.

Protein shake with added carbs: Premade protein shake mixes are an easy on-the-go snack, and a good way to reap protein’s benefits while adding carbs to stay energized. Aim for a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio with 10 to 20 grams of protein. I use a shake powder with water (juice is also a good choice), and a banana or other fruit to provide carbs.

Brown rice with chicken: If you tend to exercise later in the day, try to avoid rich, fatty foods. Although a simple dish of brown rice with chicken may be a little bland, it sits well and provides a good amount of carbs and protein. Brown rice is a much better source of complex carbs than is white rice.

Bread with cheese or egg: A slice of whole-wheat bread with low-fat cheese, is easy on the stomach too, and it provides protein and slow-release carbs. Or, as an alternative, top toast with scrambled eggs.

Timing is everything. Even the best foods can come back to haunt you mid-workout if not allowed to properly digest, so it’s best to eat 30 minutes to an hour before you work out—longer after heavy meals. While certain foods settle well and hit the bloodstream quickly, exercising on a full stomach can still make you feel sluggish. Worse, it can cause stomach cramps, because exercise pulls blood away from stomach to the muscles.

If you can’t wait more than 45 minutes between meal and workout, remember that it’s always better to have a small snack (easily digestible, simple-carb snack like yogurt or fruit) rather than exercise on an empty stomach, and then and eat a full meal after exercising.

3 Secrets To Pumping Iron

3 Secrets To Pumping Iron

Secrets of weight training
I love weight training. I have been doing it for over 12 years, and 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.

The new fitness buzz is that 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.

Another Reason to Exercise

Another Reason to Exercise

 

There is a study for everything these days. Almost any topic you can think of will have some kind of study proving it or disproving it.  And some of those studies seem like a complete waste of money or a complete no-brainer. For example “Eating at restaurants boosts risk of weight gain”, well duh. “Drinking alcohol leads to drunkenness”, double duh.  And just one more for good measure “Women prefer dating thin, hot, rich men to fat, ugly, poor ones”.

Luckily, there are actually some good studies out there too.  I don’t write as often about specific studies, but I found this one very encouraging. Science rocks!

The study explains that exercise may encourage healthy eating. Okay, I know some of you are thinking duh, but the reason it inspires healthy eating may not be what you think.

Exercise can actually change the parts of the brain that influence impulsive behavior.  With fast food on every corner, baked goods in the office break room on a weekly basis, eating out more often due to busy lives, we are surrounded by temptations and triggers that make it easy to over-eat.  The researchers state that the part of the brain responsible for “control” undergoes “relentless strain”.  Amen to that!

The study indicates that there is evidence that regular physical exercise changes the structure of the brain and how it works by increasing the connections in the grey matter and prefrontal cortex.  One result of these increased connections is improved inhibitory control. It keeps us in check on impulsive, excessive, or inappropriate behavior, like eating a jar of frosting for breakfast, perhaps.

By actually changing parts of the brain that influence impulsive behavior, increased physical activity may help compensate and suppress those feelings that drive us to over-eat.

With regular exercise, our brains learn to more easily resist the many temptations that we are faced with every day, especially where supersized calorie food is everywhere.  

Exercise also brings other benefits, such as making the brain more sensitive to physiological signs of fullness, which helps to control appetite.

Do studies make things absolutely true? Not necessarily, but there are a bazillion benefits to exercise, and if you need a bazillion and one to get moving, here you go! Please exercise.

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