Tuesday, August 6, 2013

15 Best Workout Tips of All Time - fitnessmagazine.com

15 Best Workout Tips of All Time

Want to know the secrets to getting a toned, trim body in record time? We did too, so we went straight to the top personal trainers, exercise physiologists and fitness instructors for the ultimate moves and motivation tricks to kick a fitness routine into high gear. Put a few of these tips into action each week and you're guaranteed to see faster results!
  1. Tone Up on the Treadmill"Save time at the gym with this 10-minute cardio/sculpt session: Hop on a treadmill holding a three- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand, and set the speed to a brisk walk. Do a one-minute set each of shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps extensions, side laterals, front laterals and standing triceps kickbacks one after another as you walk. I's an amazing upper-body challenge that also gets your heart pumping. Do this series two or three times each week. As you improve, work up to doing four-minute sets."
    --Michael George, trainer and owner of Integrated Motivational Fitness in Los Angeles
  2. Power Up Your Runs"Adding wall sits to the end of every run will strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes, improving your speed and endurance. Lean against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, then squat until your knees are bent at 45 degrees. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds; work up to doing 10 sets. Add a challenge by including heel raises: Lift your left heel, then the right, then lift both together twice."
    --Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of the Running Center, New York City
  3. Chart Your Progress"Stay motivated using a fitness report card. Jot down these subjects: Cardio, Muscle Conditioning, Flexibility and Attitude. Set goals (for example, doing 10 "boy" push-ups) and grade yourself A through F at least four times a year. When you see how much you improve, you'll want to stay in great shape."
    --Ken Alan, Los Angeles--based personal trainer
  4. Try This All-in-One Toner"A side-step squat with wood chop works your arms, torso, abs, back, legs, inner thighs and butt. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a three- to four-pound medicine ball in your hands. Bend your arms up so that the ball is at eye level over your right shoulder. As you bring the ball toward your left knee, step out with your left leg and bend it no further than 90 degrees, keeping your right leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and repeat on the other leg."
    --David Kirsch, trainer and author of The Ultimate New York Body Plan (McGraw-Hill, 2004)
  5. Break Out the Shovel"Why pay someone to clear snow from your driveway? Besides burning nearly 400 calories per hour, shoveling snow develops muscular endurance and power. But be safe: Minimize the amount of snow on each shovelful, and bend from your knees and hips, not your back."
    --Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and sports psychologist at Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, Texas
  6. Work Out During Your Workday"Sit on a stability ball to strengthen your core, and keep dumbbells or exercise tubing at your desk. Squeeze in 12 to 15 reps of exercises like dumbbell curls, overhead presses and ab crunches; aim for two or three sets of each. This gives you more free time to fit in fun workouts like biking or tennis."
    --Gregory Florez, personal trainer and CEO of Salt Lake City -- based FitAdvisor.com
  7. Take This Jump-Rope Challenge"The best cardio workout is the jump-rope double-turn maneuver. It's intense: You'll burn about 26 calories per minute! Do a basic jump for five minutes, then jump twice as high and turn the rope twice as fast so it passes under your feet twice before you land. This takes timing, patience and power. But you'll get in great shape just by working at it."
    --Michael Olajide Jr., former number one world middleweight contender and cofounder/trainer at Aerospace High Performance Center in New York City
  8. Give Yourself a Break"You don't have to be a fitness saint to get results. Follow the 80/20 plan: Eighty percent of the year, you'll exercise regularly and eat well. Know that you'll slip 20 percent of the time due to holidays and work deadlines. When you accept that fitness isn't an all-or-nothing proposition, you're more likely to stick with it for life."
    --Maureen Wilson, owner/personal trainer/instructor, Sweat Co. Studios, Vancouver, B.C.
  9. Get a Jump on Weight Loss"Add plyometric box jumps to your workout to improve your cardiovascular stamina and leg strength -- you'll really sculpt your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Find a sturdy box that';s at least one foot high [like a Plyo Box, $139.95; 888-556-7464 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 888-556-7464 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting; performbetter.com]. Starting from a standing position, explosively jump to the middle of the box, then jump back down. Repeat 20 times."
    --Michael George
  10. Don't Skimp on Carbs"Your body needs them to fuel a workout, so reach for fruit or high-fiber crackers an hour beforehand. If you'e exercising for 90 minutes or longer, include some protein so that the carbs break down more slowly, giving you longer-lasting energy. Your best bets: low-fat cheese and crackers, trail mix or half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
    --Cindy Sherwin, R.D., personal trainer at the Gym in New York City
  11. Maximize Your Crunches"Don't relax your abs as you lower your chest away from your knees during a crunch -- you get only half the ab-toning benefit! To get the firmest abs possible, you need to sustain the contraction on the way down."
    --Steve Ilg, founder of Wholistic Fitness Personal Training and author of Total Body Transformation (Hyperion, 2004)
  12. Intensify Your Push-Up"Squat-thrust push-ups get you in great shape because they work your upper body, core and lower body and improve agility, strength and endurance all at once. From a standing position, bend down, put your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, and jump your feet back into plank position. If you're strong, cross your ankles; otherwise, jump your feet wide apart. Do a push-up, then jump your feet together or uncross your ankles. Jump your feet back to your hands and stand up. Do eight reps total, rest for one minute, and repeat."
    --Keli Roberts, Los Angeles -- based trainer
  13. Paddle Your Way to Flatter Abs"Go kayaking to get a taut stomach -- it's ideal because much of your rowing power comes from your core. Mimic the motion and resistance of the water at home by looping an exercise band around the bottom of a table leg or other fixed object. Sit on the floor with legs extended, knees slightly bent; grasp one end of the band in each hand. Rotate your torso to one side as you bring the elbow back slightly, then switch sides. Do three sets of one to three minutes each."
    --Barbara Bushman, Ph.D., associate professor of health, physical education and recreation at Southwest Missouri State University
  14. Make Over Your Running Routine"Unless you're training for a marathon, skip long, slow, distance running -- sprinting builds more muscle. Add a few 10- to 60-second sprints to your run, slowing down just long enough to catch your breath between them."
    --Stephen Holt, 2003 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year
  15. Super-Sculpt Your Butt"Get great glutes by targeting the muscles and connective tissues buried deep in your body. To hit them, do high-intensity squats, such as jump squats. Then, blast off butt flab with cross-country skiing, bleacher running and stair climbing."
    --Steve Ilg


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The 300 Workout: Can You Handle It? - WebMD

The 300 Workout: Can You Handle It?

The training regimen that whipped actors of the movie 300 into fighting shape may be too much for most of us.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
At the start of the movie 300, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) bids farewell to his beautiful wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) as he heads out to lead the Battle of Thermopylae. In it, 300 Spartans fought to their death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army in 480 B.C.

In the movie scene, Butler is dressed for war, shirtless with a crimson cape flowing behind his broad, chiseled shoulders. As he looks into Gorgo's eyes, much of his sentiment unspoken, moviegoers are drawn into the dramatic, macho moment.
muscular man flexing his muscles
But anyone who has struggled to get fit or stay fit can be forgiven if they get a little distracted here, wondering as they look at Butler in those skimpy Spartan battle duds: How did he get those six-pack abs, that whittled waist, and those rock-hard thighs? Could I ever look that buff and toned?


The Secret's Out

The now not-so-secret training regimen, discussed all over the Internet in messages complete with how-to videos, is called the 300 workout. It's the brainchild of Mark Twight, a self-taught exercise guru and former world-class mountain climber who apparently still clings to the "no pain, no gain" mantra.

At Gym Jones, his invitation-only, no-frills gym in downtown Salt Lake City, where he says there's no air conditioning, no mirrors, and no place comfortable to sit, his mission was to whip the 300 actors and stuntmen into warrior-fighting shape, most of them in eight to 10 weeks. Butler trained for 12 weeks. Twight warns that his Spartan workout is not for the faint-hearted, nor the out-of-shape.

Traditional exercise physiologists who took a look at the 300 workout for WebMD agree with him, and they caution that Twight is not certified as a trainer by conventional organizations.


The 300 Workout

The workout gets its name from the total number of repetitions. But those 300 reps weren't done daily, as some media accounts report, Twight says. Rather, the 300 workout was the finale of months of training, a kind of graduation test, after actors had weight lifted and trained with tools such as medicine balls and Kettlebells (cast iron weights with handles).

It's daunting, and includes these weight-training moves:
  • 25 pull-ups
  • 50 deadlifts at 135 pounds
  • 50 push-ups
  • 50 box jumps with a 24-inch box
  • 50 "floor wipers" (a core and shoulders exercise at 135 pounds)
  • 50 "clean and press" at 36 pounds (a weight-lifting exercise)
  • 25 more pull-ups -- for a total of 300 reps
There's no rest between movements and the score is based on total time, Twight says.


Behind-the-Scenes Work

But before that graduation test, Twight says, there were months of work, transforming the actors and stuntmen not just physically but mentally, he notes. "Zack [Snyder, the director,] wanted the Spartans to appear as though they had been fighting together since they were children," he says.

When they arrived, the men were at various starting points, says Twight, who trained Gerard, many co-stars, and stuntmen but not the women in the film. "Guys ranged from 40 pounds overweight to being in perfect, lean, hard-fighting shape," Twight tells WebMD.


The Regimen

The regimen was varied based on the person’s starting point, Twight says.  "Some days guys did high-intensity circuit training. Some days guys lifted very heavy loads for a few reps. Some days guys did a series of miniworkouts that added up to an 'interesting' total load and volume. Some days guys did hard interval training on the Concept II rowing machine." And some days, the exercisers were asked to train for balance by doing their tasks blindfolded.

"Some days were punishment days where our intent was to break guys physically and psychologically," Twight says.
Training for the actors required 90 minutes to two hours a day, five days a week, Twight says, plus the same amount of time fight training. Stuntmen trained 90 minutes to two hours, five days a week, and another four to six hours fight training, Twight says. Everyone was given just enough food to recover from the workout, he notes.


The Results

At the end of the training, about half of those who trained took the 300 test, Twight says. Andrew Pleavin, who plays Daxos, leader of the Arcadians, was the only actor to take it. He finished in 18 minutes and 11 seconds.


Exercise Physiologists Burst Our Bubble

Before you head out to see if you’re good enough to pass the 300 test, heed the caution from William J. Kraemer, PhD, professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. “This [program] was done for a stylistic effect, to look like a Spartan," he says. Forget about trying to do the graduation test right out of the box, he says. "The out-of-shape person who starts [the 300 graduation test] is going to be dead the first day. No one could do this without prior training. You have to progress."

Even if you start out slowly, Kraemer recommends proceeding with caution and checking in with your doctor first.

The breakdown of muscle fibers, for instance, may be severe enough to be toxic to the kidneys, he says. "If you have [heart problems] or are not screened, you could have a variety of exertional problems [with this workout], from serious tissue breakdown to heart attack to kidney problems," he says. "It's too extreme for the average person."

Walt Thompson, PhD, a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University in Atlanta, agrees. "This kind of workout is for a very, very small subset of the population," he says.  "The person who could probably benefit from the Gym Jones workout is the person who already has a long and extensive 'career' in exercise. It's not for a beginner."


Advice for Beginners

That does not mean if you are a beginner all hope is lost. Thompson and others recommend beginners start out slowly and consider hiring a certified trainer to learn proper form, especially for weight training. The top three certifications, in Thompson's opinion, are those offered by the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Council on Exercise.

Hiring a trainer who is certified by one of those groups, if even for a few sessions, he says, will help ensure you learn proper technique and form in weight training and other muscle-strengthening exercises. "It helps to keep someone from being injured," he says.


Next at Your Local Gym?

Even though the entire regimen is viewed as too intense for the average person, don't be surprised if a modified version of the 300 workout appears at your local health club, says Brooke Correia, a spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a Boston-based industry group that has 4,000 U.S. health clubs in its membership.

"Remember Striptease, the movie with Demi Moore?" she asks. Soon after that 1996 movie was released, striptease pole dancing classes began to be offered at health clubs nationwide, she says.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Truth About Low Carb Diets - About.com

The Truth About Low Carb Diets

Do Carbs Make You Fat?

By , About.com Guide
Updated August 04, 2011
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board

Low carb diets have been around for years, touting the benefits of cutting out carbs while increasing fat and protein to lose weight. But, are low carb diets good for you? Do carbs really make you fat? Get the facts about low carb diets.  What Are Carbs Anyway?

If you're confused about carbohydrates, you're not alone. Carbs are one of the six nutrients used by the body for energy and 1 gram=4 calories. Carbs are important because they:
  • Are the main main source of fuel for the body
  • Are quickly and easily used by the body for energy
  • Can be stored in the muscles for exercise
  • Provide lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber
  • Help your body function properly without fatigue
The confusing part is that there are different types of carbs, some that can contribute to weight loss and some that make it harder. Carbs aren't inherently bad - Eating too much of anything can cause weight gain. However, learning to choose carbs that offer more fiber, vitamins and minerals will make losing weight easier.

Simple Carbs

Simple carbs such as candy, sodas and juice are quickly digested and can be used immediately for energy. However, they also spike blood glucose levels, which inevitably leads to a crash when your blood sugar drops. Simple carbs (such as honey) can be an ideal choice just before an intense cardio workout like sprints, but they're not a great choice for snacks or meals since they can leave you hungry and tired.

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs take longer to digest and come from things like whole grain products, vegetables, and fruits. They are slowly released into the body, unlike simple carbs, so you don't get that sugar rush followed by the painful sugar crash.

Regardless of the type of carbs you eat, all are treated the same way in your body--they are all broken down into sugars during digestion. But, complex carbs are almost always the best choice because they are naturally low in fat, high in fiber and provide tons of vitamins and minerals.

The Thinking Behind Low-Carb

Every low-carb diet is different and requires varying amounts of carbs, protein and fat. However, the common theme is this: eating high-carb causes an overproduction of insulin which leads to overeating, obesity and insulin resistance.
Here's how carbs work:
  1. High-carb foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar
  2. This blood sugar causes the body to produce insulin which carries nutrients to cells
  3. Our cells use this sugar for energy
  4. If there's too much sugar, it is stored as fat
Proponents of low-carb diets believe that when you eat too many carbs, insulin becomes less effective at carrying sugar to the cells which results in more sugar being stored as fat.

Scientists aren't sure if this is true and some researchers believe that this insulin insensitivity is only true for people who eat too many calories in the first place. So, who's right? We don't know. There's no proof that a high-carb diet causes overweight and there's an ongoing debate on the value and science behind low-carb diets.

So what is 'low-carb'?
  • The National Academy of Sciences recommends no less than 120 grams of carbs per day
  • The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 300 grams of carbs per 2000 calories (about 60% of total calories)
  • Atkins initially recommends 20 grams per day (less than 5%)
  • Protein Power recommends about 12-15% of calories should be carbs
  • The Zone advises keeping carbs at 40% of total calories
While we don't know which, if any, recommendation is right, recent studies in the New England Journal of Medicine report that participants who successfully followed low-carb plans for six months lost more weight than those who ate low-fat. Those on the Atkins diet raised their levels of 'good' HDL cholesterol.

Note: Almost half the participants dropped out of their programs and, after a year, the Atkin's followers regained up to a third of the pounds they lost.

There's no question that people lose weight on low-carb diets, but are they safe? Is it possible to stick to them?


Monday, May 27, 2013

What to Do About Your Problem of Muscle Fatigue - Fitness Health Zone

What to Do About Your Problem of Muscle Fatigue

If you are someone who hits the gym rather often then you have probably had to deal with the problem of muscle fatigue at some point in your past.

This can be a rather troublesome problem because your tired muscles will not allow you to get the workout that you need.

Many people do not know what to do in this situation because there does not seem to be anything for them to do that could work.

Muscle Fatigue

Many people decide to give up when they have to deal with muscle fatigue too often because they do not want to have to push themselves to the next level.

The only way you are going to be able to make progress with your workouts is if you pull yourself together and push your body to the limit.

There are many different things that you can do to lower the amount of tiredness that you feel in your muscles on a regular basis, but you also need to realize that sometimes you just have to push through it.

Before you read any further, you should know that there are certain instances where it would actually be a bad idea to exercise through your sore muscles. If the pain is rather severe and has been bothering you for a few days, then you may need to just take a break and not push yourself as hard next time.

If you are just dealing with light soreness then it will be alright to continue your workouts as you would any other day.

Muscle fatigue does not have much to do with your exercise routine

The source of your muscle fatigue is probably not your exercise routine, and this is something that surprises a lot of people who are dealing with these problems. The main reason that you are probably feeling so tired when you are trying to exercise is that your body does not have the vitamins or nutrients that it needs to push you during a workout.

You will not be able to get very good results with your exercise routine if you are not willing to change your diet.

If your main goal with your workouts is strength training, then you may want to make sure that you increase the amount of protein that you are getting on a daily basis. Protein is what helps your body build muscle, but you will not be able to build any new muscle if your body does not have any protein. You should try to go far over the recommended daily protein intake when you want to gain some muscle because your body is going to need much more protein than the average person.

Get the nutrients that your body needs

You need to do whatever it takes to get the necessary nutrients into your system because you won’t be able to succeed without them. You should even consider taking supplements on a regular basis if you are going to try to combat your muscle fatigue.

Read more at http://www.fitnesshealthzone.com/fitness/muscle-fatigue/#z2Fj6UEV0eTplKAp.99

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

13 Hottest Fitness Trends to Try in 2013 - fitbie.msn.com

13 Hottest Fitness Trends to Try in 2013

Tired of the same ol’ workout? These expert-approved fitness trends are sure to shake up your new year
By: K. Aleisha Fetters 

Photo Credit: Corbis Images

Fusion Classes

A swarm of new combo classes such as Piloxing, aerial yoga, Core Fusion Barre, and Neuromuscular Integrative Action are designed to confuse more than just your tongue. By mixing workouts with disparate disciplines (think: Pilates + boxing, Zumba + water aerobics) they can get your body working in ways it wouldn’t otherwise, says Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise and certified personal trainer and group instructor. (Related: Fitness Secrets from Top Trainers) “Avid spinners, for example, may be missing a strength component,” she says. By taking a fusion spin class that uses resistance bands or free weights, they can train a wider range of muscle groups.” What’s more, these classes can be a fun way to change up a stale fitness routine.

Get Started Pick a class that has one of your favorite workouts in the name, Matthews suggests. If you’re a yoga fanatic, classes such as Yogalates (yoga + Pilates) and stand-up paddleboard yoga (yoga done on a paddleboard), can be a great way to introduce a new type of workout.

On days you need to workout at home, tone and tighten with the fastest, fat-blasting workout for men and women.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Bodyweight Training

No disrespect to fancy equipment, but your body is a super-efficient exercise machine all on its own. “There are so many workouts you can do with limited space and no equipment,” Matthews says. You can easily tailor the intensity to fit your ability, and by allowing your body to exercise in its natural planes—rather than in stiff motions—these exercises relieve pressure on joints and reduce the risk of injury. While bodyweight workouts have been a pillar of at-home workouts for years, gyms are now upping their no-gear game, according the 2013 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends. More personal trainers and group fitness classes now integrate bodyweight training into their workouts.

Get Started Try your gym’s gear-free classes or make an appointment with a personal trainer. They can teach you new bodyweight training moves, correct your form, and give you the skills to get in a great workout wherever you go.

Weight-Free Interval Workout

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Small-Group Personal Training

Has your bottom line been keeping you from personal training sessions? Consider signing up for small-group personal training. About 8 in 10 personal trainers are offering their services at deep discounts for crews of two to five, according to IDEA Health & Fitness Association. While one-on-one personal training sessions cost anywhere from $40-$100 an hour, the price of small-group training drops as low as $15 an hour per person. What’s more, training with a tight-knit bunch can motivate you in ways both one-on-one personal training sessions and large group classes can’t. “You have the camaraderie of people going through the experience with you. They know your name, will cheer you on, and call you out if you miss a session,” says Matthews.

Get Started Ask your fittest friends to sign up with you: People tend to exercise at the same level of those around them, according to researchers from Santa Clara University. So the faster and stronger your workout companions are, they faster and stronger you’ll be, too.

Are you driving your personal trainer crazy? Exercise experts dish on their Top Pet Peeves.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Dance Workouts

With blasting music, high-energy routines, and non-stop movement, these classes are more than fun. They’re also a great cardiovascular workout. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science found that the average Zumba “fitness party” burns more than 300 calories. Plus, by engaging your entire body, dance workouts ranging from ballet to Bollywood can hit muscles traditional workouts miss.

Get Started If you belong to a gym, ask to see what dance-inspired fitness classes they have. Or, if you have a specific trademarked workout like Pure Barre, Zumba, or Masala Bhangra in mind, check the company’s website for locations near you.

What a Dance Workout Does for Your Body

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Outdoor Exercises

Hate tromping on the treadmill? Go outside. The simple switch can up your caloric burn by about 5 percent, thanks to wind and varied terrain. Plus, outdoor exercise can reduce tension, frustration, and depression better than the indoor variety, according to recent research published in Environmental Science & Technology. That’s why more fitness professionals are offering outdoor activities to their clients than ever before, says Walter R. Thompson, PhD, Regents' professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University. (Related: Trainers' Favorite Outdoor Workouts) From hiking and kayaking to running up bleachers and performing incline pushups on park benches, fitness classes are helping people turn their local landscape into the perfect outdoor gym.

Get Started Ask your gym if it offers outdoor fitness classes, or run a simple Google search for running, biking, or outdoor yoga groups in your area. If you decide to head out solo, keep your phone on you in case of emergency. Safety first!

Create the Perfect Backyard Gym

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Boot-Camp Workouts

Based on the calisthenics the U.S. Army’s basic-training program uses to kick new recruits into shape (like push-ups, squat thrusts, punches, and kicks), boot camps can torch about 600 calories an hour and are growing to be among the most popular workouts in 2013. For instance, about one-third of the member clubs of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a trade organization for health clubs, offer boot camp-style fitness classes. And they aren’t just hot in gyms: there are hundreds of different boot-camp DVDs for sale on Amazon, and the most widely popular boot-camp workout, CrossFit, shares daily exercises online at CrossFit.com.

Get Started Boot-camps get results for a reason: They push you. Hard. But that’s no reason for your form to be sloppy. If you need to, scale back on your level of intensity so that you maintain proper form. Doing to will cut your risk of injury and you’ll reap better results over the long-term.

Your 30-Day Boot Camp Challenge

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

High-Intensity Interval Training

Strapped for time? Your results don’t have to stall. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)—short bursts of intense exercise with short recovery breaks in between—is one of the most efficient techniques fitness professionals use today. (Search: Tabata HIIT) According to researchers from Canada's McMaster University, 10 one-minute sprints on a standard stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between, three times a week, works muscles as well as 10 hours of continuous moderate bicycling exercise over a two-week period. Besides getting you more results in less time, HIIT workouts beat boredom by regularly switching up speed and intensity, says Matthews.

Get Started Crank up the intensity of your favorite workout. You can pace any exercise—from running to weight lifting—with short burst of intense exercise followed by short recovery breaks, Matthews says. If you’re a gym class hero, ask your fitness club if it offers any HIIT classes. Even if a class doesn’t have “HIIT” in the name, it could still involve the technique.

Video: Jason Statham's Interval Training

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Circuit Training

Maximize your workout settng it up as a fast-paced circuit. To do this, perform a group of six to 10 exercises one after another for a specified number of repetitions before moving on to the next exercise. “There is little to no rest in between exercises, so it keeps the heart rate up and burns more calories in a shorter, faster workout,” says Matthews. “Plus, by never repeating sets of the same exercise back-to-back, circuit training will let you work as many muscle groups as you want in one workout.

Get Started For the best results, perform both cardio and strength exercises within your circuit, Matthews suggest. Circuit training is versatile and can be applied to everything from high-intensity interval training bodyweight exercises to outdoor runs.

Stimulate maximum biceps growth with The Superfast Circuit.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Wellness Coaching

Fitness is more than just exercise or nutrition, says Thompson. “It’s a lifestyle,” That’s why more and more wellness coaches are springing up across the country, offering guidance on long-term changes people can make to get fit for good. They offer a one-on-one approach similar to that of personal trainers, but look holistically at a person’s lifestyle to determine which healthy behavior modifications and strategies to put into place. As wellness coaching gains in popularity, more personal trainers are also offering both in-and out-of-the-gym approaches to their training.

Get Started While doctor referrals are still in their early stages, you can ask your doctor if they know of any wellness coaches near you that fit your health needs. Also ask at your gym if they staff any wellness coaches. Before your first session, think about what you want out of the partnership. While some people meet with coaches a few times just to get started with healthy strategies, others work with them regularly for years.

Should You Get a Lifestyle Coach?

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Online Deals

With more gyms partnering with group-deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and YouSwoop, now’s the perfect time to score a deal for your health. These websites offer anywhere from one to 10 exercise classes at steep discounts, and allow you to try a workout you wouldn’t otherwise. “The deals are great for people who are not sure if they want to make a financial commitment to a class they don’t know about,” Matthews says. “They give people a chance to go out and try something new. Who knows, they might even find a new passion.”

Get Started Go to Groupon, LivingSocial, or YouSwoop, and when you set up your account, choose fitness as one of your interests. You’ll get local fitness deals emailed to you daily.

Best Online Bargains for Fitness Buffs

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Functional Fitness

Everything our bodies do can be broken down into five essential movements: squat, lunge, push, pull, and rotate. Functional fitness works with these natural movements to improve joint stability and mobility and improve your quality of life. “Rather than isolating muscle groups, functional exercises require various parts of the body to work together as they were designed to,” says Matthews. While this total-body technique is important for any exerciser, it is particularly beneficial for people recovering from injuries or people that have developed muscle imbalances due to training that misses key muscle groups.

Get Started Ask your gym if its personal trainers can administer a Functional Fitness Test, which will evaluate how your body performs the five essential movements, Matthews says. By revealing which of your muscle groups are weaker than others, it will give you the opportunity to better incorporate those groups into your future workouts.

Women's Health Bulletproof-Your-Body Workout

Photo Credit: Corbis Images

Workplace Fitness Programs

In an effort to reduce healthcare costs and boost productivity, more and more companies are offering their employees a range of fitness programs and services, Thompson says. Employee incentive programs, for instance, offer workers cash prizes, gift certificates, extra vacation days, or other rewards for participating in the program. Like a little competition? In corporate fitness challenges, different companies, or different departments within the same company, compete to lose the most weight, run the fastest, or complete the most pushups.

Get Started Ask your company’s human resource department if the company offers any wellness incentive programs or corporate challenges, Thompson says. If not, you can always start your own with colleagues. If a large group of competitors put in just $10, the camaraderie (combined with the sizeable cash reward) might be what you need to make fitness a priority.

25 Ways to Lose Weight at Work

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

At-Home Fitness

Many gym memberships cost more than $600 a year, which can be a waste if you’re more of a no-show than a gym rat. And getting to a health club isn't always convenient. To save money and time—and to eliminate the excuses that kept them from using their memberships in the first place—more and more people are working out at home, says Matthews.

Get Started Before you purchase kettle bells, exercise balls, and cardio equipment, try working out using your own body weight for resistance. You’ll still get a great burn, and the no-gear routine will give you a chance to see if you like working out at home before you invest in gym equipment.

Build The Perfect Home Gym


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Body for Life: What Is It? - WebMD

Body for Life: What Is It?

WebMD Expert Review

Body for Life is an intense exercise and nutrition program based on the premise that you're more likely to stick with a diet and workout if you see results quickly. Indeed, founder Bill Phillips makes this promise: Follow his program for 12 weeks and you'll have the best body you've ever had. The program is challenging. It involves training with weights for 45 minutes three days a week, then alternating with aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes three days a week.
The diet involves eating six small meals each day for six days a week, drawing from a list of healthy foods such as lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fish. Meals are a combination of lean protein and healthy carbohydrates “to speed up fat loss and maintain stable energy levels”, stated on the Body for Life web site. On the seventh day, you rest -- free to eat anything you want, no restrictions, and take a day off from the rigorous workout.
Open the best-selling Body for Life book and you'll see before-and-after photos of people who went from flab to fab. They don't just look slimmer. They look terrific. Their flat abs and chiseled muscles in the "after" photos are in stark contrast to the "before" pictures that look, well, like most of us. But remember, a healthy diet and strenuous exercise virtually every day is the key to this program. Odds are, your body would improve significantly with such workouts, even if you weren't also dieting.

The Body for Life web site provides a wealth of useful information including an active community, meal plans, shopping lists, training tools, member recipes, success stories, workout videos and the opportunity to join the 12-week Body for Life Challenge.

Body for Life: What You Can Eat

The good news is that with all the work Body for Life requires, you have to eat. Grazing, not gorging, six times a day is the key except for the one day a week when all rules are forgotten. Each meal consists of a fist-sized portion of protein -- lean meat, poultry, fish, egg whites, or cottage cheese -- and a fist-sized portion of healthy carbohydrates such as potatoes or brown rice. You must also eat at least two portions of vegetables, and drink 10 glasses of water each day. Nutritional supplements (available on the Body for Life website) and a tablespoon or two of healthy oil (such as flaxseed) are recommended to round out the diet.

The diet breaks down to about 40%-50% protein, the same for carbohydrates, and very little fat. The Institute of Medicine recommends 45-65% carbohydrates, 20-35% protein and 10-35% fat.

Body for Life provides this list of authorized foods to choose from:

•         Chicken breast
•         Turkey breast
•         Swordfish
•         Haddock
•         Orange roughy
•         Salmon
•         Tuna
•         Crab
•         Lobster
•         Top round or top sirloin steak
•         Lean ground beef
•         Buffalo
•         Egg whites
•         Lean ham
•         Low-fat cottage cheese

•         Baked potato
•         Sweet potato
•         Yam
•         Squash
•         Pumpkin
•         Steamed brown rice
•         Steamed wild rice
•         Pasta
•         Oatmeal
•         Barley
•         Beans
•         Corn
•         Strawberries
•         Melon
•         Apple
•         Orange
•         Fat-free yogurt
•         Whole-wheat bread

•         Broccoli
•         Asparagus
•         Lettuce
•         Carrot
•         Cauliflower
•         Green beans
•         Green pepper
•         Mushrooms
•         Spinach
•         Tomato
•         Peas
•         Brussels sprouts
•         Artichoke
•         Cabbage
•         Celery
•         Zucchini
•         Cucumber
•         Onion

Body for Life: How It Works

Just because the plan advocates a rigorous work out doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. To be successful at weight loss, you need to eat fewer calories and burn more calories in exercise. Body for Life is based on simple guidelines of small meals of carbohydrate and protein six times a day, portion control, 10 glasses of water and dietary supplements.

Small meals tend to reduce the insulin response and by adding a lean protein source, it helps dieters feel more full and satisfied.
The foods on Body for Life's authorized list are healthier and lower in calories than most American favorites. By eating fist-sized portions, you're sure to consume fewer calories, even if you are eating six meals a day. The frequency of the small meals is designed to stabilize blood sugar, increase energy level and help dieters avoid binge eating from excess hunger.

Also, the intense weight lifting will build muscle, which can boost your metabolic rate.

Body for Life: What the Experts Say

Body for Life's program is effective if you follow it closely, but it may require too much exercise for most people. American Dietetic Association spokesperson and fitness trainer, Jim White, RD thinks it may be tough for beginners but doable for intermediate or advanced exercisers. “Body for Life recommends cardio three times per week for 20 minutes which is less than the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendation of 30 minutes most days but the 46 minute weight training could be intense, especially for those who only do strength training twice weekly like the ACSM guidelines recommend.” He recommends checking with your physician before starting the program and warns everyone to proceed cautiously because rigorous fitness routines can lead to injuries.

White notes that the recent attention on the role of exercise and weight loss should not deter anyone from getting regular physical activity. “You may get faster results from trimming calories than exercise but nothing replaces the benefits of fitness from increased energy, confidence, stress relief and cardiovascular fitness” explains White.

Eating small meals can speed up your metabolism, curb your appetite, stabilize blood sugar and provide greater energy says White. “Eating healthy foods throughout the day is a great way to feel terrific while trimming calories and it also helps you use up the calories instead of storing them as fat which can happen when you overeat.”

But experts warn that eating small meals must be done carefully. University of Illinois protein researcher Donald Layman, PhD warns that “Lots of small meals usually leads to snacking on poor food choices.” Furthermore, the amount of protein needs to be at least 15 grams (roughly 2 eggs, 2 cups milk, 12 oz yogurt, 3-4 oz. meat, poultry or fish), otherwise it has no positive effects on body composition says Layman.

Body for Life: What the Experts Say

Experts disagree on the value of a diet that contains 40-50% of calories from protein which is higher than the science-based IOM recommendations of 20-35%. Layman notes there is no evidence that protein is harmful to healthy people at any level of intake. Generally, if you have normal kidney function, there should be no problem.

White prefers to keep the amount within the IOM recommendations. “When you overdose on protein you run the risk of taxing the kidneys, increasing calcium loss and dehydration” says White. “It is also a very expensive diet.”
White recommends eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats while reducing the amount of protein for a healthier diet more in line with Dietary Guideline recommendations.

Body for Life: Food for Thought

Six small meals a day can be a very good idea, as long as it fits into your lifestyle, you choose your meals carefully and aim for adequate lean or low fat protein at each meal.
If you love exercise, this plan is for you but don't expect to look like the "after" pictures in just 12 weeks, warn experts, achieving bodybuilder muscle physiques takes longer and more intensity than a 12 week basic program.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body, Spring Cleaning - WebMD

Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body

Spring Cleaning
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD
Set aside a weekend, it's time for spring cleaning -- more accurately, spring cleansing --even though it is already summer. Perfect for the procrastinators among us.
Spring cleansing means detoxifying your body, says Linda Page, ND, PhD, a naturopathic doctor, lecturer, and author of the book Detoxification.
It's a way to recharge, rejuvenate, and renew, says Page. "Anybody can benefit from a cleansing. The body is coming out of what might be called hibernation. It's a way you can jump-start your body for a more active life, a healthier life."
There's no vacuum or mop needed for this little "housekeeping" ritual. It means drinking juice -- a whole lot of juice and little else -- which pushes everything thing else out of your system, Page tells WebMD. You get the picture. You're clearing out all the tubes and pipes, as they say.
But to purists like Chris Strychacz, PhD, a research psychologist at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, Calif., fasting means "water only," he tells WebMD. He's been fasting for at least 25 years now, an annual weeklong ritual every spring.
"There's a big difference between fasting and dieting [as Page advocates]," Strychacz says. The effects on the body are quit different, he says.
Strychacz vividly remembers his first fast -- 17 days long. "It was extraordinary, a mystical experience. I felt like I'd figured out why Jesus and Plato and Socrates and Gandhi did it -- the clarity of thought, the peacefulness."
Fasting indeed has a long-standing spiritual tradition. "Almost every religion has some type of fasting ritual -- Lent, Ramadan, Yom Kippur ... the Hindus and Buddhists fast, too," says James Dillard, MD, assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He's author of Alternative Medicinefor Dummies.
"There's definitely a spiritual factor," Dillard tells WebMD. But he's among the skeptics. "Whether [fasting diets] have any physiological benefit, I'm not so sure."
A study of anthropology gives plenty of evidence, Page says. In Chinese medicine, fasting is part of preventive health care. For many ancient cultures, fasting helped people "lighten up" after a long winter, shed the extra winter fat layer that provided warmth.
Our bodies naturally detoxify every day, Page tells WebMD. "Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver.
If you feel "congested" from too much food -- or the wrong kinds of food -- you may want to detoxify, she says. If your energy level is low, if you have been taking many medications that have not been eliminated from your system, a weekend detox may help you feel better.
While a "water only" fast is pretty straightforward, Page's cleansing is a bit more involved.
The diet starts on Friday night with a green salad, but Saturday's menu shows you what's really in store: Breakfast starts with plenty of vitamin C, then take your choice of fruit juices. "Because of its high water content, fruit will flush you through much quicker," she says. "Green things give energy, but sugars will wash the system easier."
"You're going to be drinking something every 90 minutes to two hours, so you won't feel deprived or hungry," Page tells WebMD. "As your body gets lighter and lighter through the weekend, you can feel what's going on. You're getting rid of toxins accumulated during the winter. Your body is starting to release fat, those extra pounds."
Dinner? That's miso soup with some chopped sea vegetables (like the Japanese nori, used to make sushi) snipped over top. Or you might choose a cup of brown rice with a few chopped vegetables mixed in. "Brown rice gives your body plenty of B vitamins, which is a stress reducer. It's very high fiber, will fill you up, will help you sleep, and will flush you out in the morning."
She also advocates "cleansing boosters," including herbal laxatives, colonics, probiotics (that replenish healthy bacteria), and antioxidants. Relaxation techniques -- massage therapy, sauna, aromatherapy baths, deep breathing exercises, walking -- help round-out the cleanse.
In evaluating Page's detox diet, Dillard says, "Certainly, the human body carries huge loads of petrochemicals. We know people usually die with the full burden of PCBs they've ever been exposed to -- from fish, animals -- stuck in their liver. DDT sticks around, too."
But can fasting remove these? "Theoretically, yes," he says. "When fat is mobilized, anything that is fat-soluble should be mobilized, too -- should, that is," Dillard tells WebMD.
Although there are no studies of juice fasts/diets, water fasting does have some scientific evidence behind it -- "but very scant," admits Strychacz.
In the book Triumph Over Disease, Jack Goldstein, DPM, outlines his true story in overcoming ulcerative colitis by sticking to strict water fasting and a vegetarian diet. Goldstein is one of very few people who has tested his own tongue scrapings, urine, feces, even perspiration during a water fast, Strychacz says. "He found that the contents [during a fast] are different than normal -- that toxins like DDT do get removed."
Strychacz would like to conduct a study of fasting's effects on atherosclerosis. "Look at Dean Ornish's low-fat diet. He claims not only to arrest but actually reverse atherosclerosis. That's huge. I would argue that if a low-fat diet will reverse it, then what about a no-fat diet?"
Some still consider fasting -- in any form -- to be "out there." "When I review diets that are not based on science, the question I ask myself is: Would I feed them to my family? In this case, the answer is a clear no," says Susan Roberts, PhD, chief of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and a professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston.
But the psychological or spiritual effect can't be discounted, says Dillard. "People love the idea of cleansing, of purification rituals, going to the Ganges, to the spa. It has powerful psychological, religious, spiritual meaning. That has its own positive effect on health. But we need to separate that from saying this is science or good medicine."
Just don't look at water fasts or juice diets as a weight-loss solution. As with the Atkins diet, restricting carbohydrates causes you to lose weight -- but you'll gain it all back, says Dillard. "You're losing water in your system."
Juice diets do prevent your body from going into a state called ketosis, he says. Ketosis means your body has no carbohydrates to burn for energy, so it has to burn stored fat or whatever else is available, he tells WebMD. "You feel bad, even smell bad. That's what makes you feel like hell during a [water-only] fast. But is that because the toxins are coming out? No! You're going into ketosis. It's known physiology."
"There's nothing wrong with going on a juice fast for a few days," he says. "But it's not a great way to lose weight, because you'll gain it all back -- you yo-yo. It's just like the Atkins diet. The weight you lose is water weight."
Eating less -- that's definitely known to extend life, Dillard says. "The only reliable way to extend the lifespan of a mammal is under-nutrition without malnutrition. Studies show that if you cut back on 60% of the calories mice eat, they will live almost twice as long with much fewer tumors."
"The old-fashioned way of eating the right foods, getting exercise, clean living, keeping a positive mental attitude -- that's what works," he says.