Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fit Tip: Eat Clean and Train Mean

It should come as no surprise that you need both a healthy diet and an effective workout plan to reach your health and wellness goals.  As the old saying goes, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” If you want to be healthy inside and out, you have to eat clean and train mean. Some people take this mantra very seriously, but even small lifestyle changes will go a long way. Use these tips to clean up your diet and step up your workouts:

What is eating clean? Eating clean involves not only choosing the right foods to eat but also avoiding junk foods and processed foods whenever possible. Try eating more plant foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also consider choosing grass-fed and free-range meats and poultry, fresh fish, low fat dairy products and raw nuts and seeds.
Shop the perimeter.  At the grocery store, stick to the outer perimeter where you will find fresh fruits and veggies, fish and other lean proteins. Avoid processed foods, boxed food and packages that are full of ingredients you can’t pronounce. Opt for foods closest to their natural state as possible and with the least amount of ingredients. Read nutrition labels and look for ways to reduce your intake of sugar, salt and saturated fat. Swap soda and juice for more water and switch from refined grains (white breads and pasta) to whole wheat.
Get back to cooking. Instead of buying frozen or boxed meals, cook meals from scratch. Clean, whole foods are easy to prepare and you can make extra to take for lunches and use for leftovers. It may take some extra planning upfront, but there are many blogs dedicated to sharing clean, homemade recipes that will fit into your busy schedule. Extra bonus: Avoiding processed foods and cooking from scratch can save you money in the long run.
Mix up your exercise. If you truly want to train mean, don’t keep doing the same old routine. Challenge and surprise your body with a different workout, heavier weights, a new class or an exercise machine you never tried before. Change happens when you push your limits.
Take the intensity up a notch and try some intervals. Are you sweating or just reading a magazine while you drone out riding a machine? Make sure your workouts in and out of the gym make you sweat. Go high intensity for short bursts during your workout to get in some interval training. If you are on the treadmill, try running at your fastest pace for a minute, take it down to recover for a minute and repeat. On the elliptical? Bump up the resistance level to work different muscle groups and increase effort. Track your workouts and make consistent plans to increase intensity and you will see progress.

This fit-tip was brought to you by LifeFitness

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fit Tip: Basic Strength Training Tips

Strength training is a beneficial form of exercise for everybody no matter your age, gender, or fitness background. And no, it’s never too late and you are never too old to get started.
It’s important to know a few fundamental principles of strength training:
  • Resistance: You have to apply an appropriate resistance to build muscle.  The amount of resistance should be above what one is accustomed to in everyday life.  Add this resistance by using weight machines, free weights, cable machines, various weighted tools or even your own bodyweight. 
  • Balance: Make sure to work the entire musculoskeletal system, to avoid postural and strength imbalances and injury. Work several muscle groups at once when possible.   
  • Rest: Rest between sets of exercise for about 60-90 seconds giving your muscles a chance to recover before you attempt the next set.  Also, rest 48 hours between bouts of weight training if you are sore.
Other basics to help you be successful:
Use bodyweight. Sometimes your own bodyweight can be the most effective and most challenging training tool. Add bodyweight training exercises to your workout with planks, push-ups, squats or lunges. Equipment like TRX Supsension Training Straps or the Synrgy360 can provide even more ways to make bodyweight training fun and effective.
Make the muscles do the work. It’s important not to use momentum to lift free weights. You will activate more muscle fibers if you lift and lower weights with purpose through your range of motion. If you cannot lift a weight without swinging it, it is too heavy and you should lower the amount of weight you are lifting. As a beginner, select a weight that allows you to go for 15 repetitions. Around repetition 12, you should be feeling a bit of fatigue.  
Practice good form. Stand tall with your chest lifted and your arms naturally at your side. Don’t hunch over in the shoulders or hold tension in your neck. Hold your abs tight.  The stronger your core, the more effective you will be at lifting weights. Make sure you breathe. Exhale during the hardest part of the exercise to fuel the movement.  If you have questions about form, you may consider hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions.
Pay attention to your body. Never work through intense pain and learn to differentiate between pain and muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue is a feeling of your muscles being tired but pain makes you want to say “Ouch!” 

This FitTip was brought to you by LifeFitness

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fit Tip: Hit the Pool

Water workouts are easy on the joints and beneficial to the entire body and mind. While the buoyancy of water can make you feel light and relaxed, don’t let the calm water fool you. Pool moves can blast calories, increase heart rate and boost muscle strength. Add a pool workout to your routine with these tips:
Try an aerobics class.  Many fitness facilities now have aqua classes in their group fitness schedule.  Circuit classes and boot camps are offered in the pool using tools like Styrofoam dumbbells, noodles, resistance tubing and medicine balls. (Yes, medicine balls float in water.)  Your gym may even have the latest fitness craze, Aqua Zumba, an in-water dance party that offers a more intense, full body workout.   
Getting started. If you are going to create your own workout,  hit your local gym pool or community pool and stand in chest deep water. Get your body warm with easy jogging, then create your own cardio drills alternating with strength exercises.  
  • Cardio drills: Try jogging from one side of the pool to the other in shallow water or tread water in the deep end. Calisthenics like jumping jacks and jump squats will be much easier on your body in the water, but will still increase your heart rate.
  • Strength exercises: If you have a resistance band or any other floatable tools, preform the same exercises in the water that you do on land. The tempo may be slower due to the viscosity of the water.  
Swim Laps.  If you are looking for a break from impact cardio exercise like running and jumping, then add a day or two of swimming laps to your routine.  Swimming is a great cardio workout that will increase your heart rate while yielding no stress to the joints and bones.  
Still need some convincing to hit the pool? The Center for Disease Control says adults should get 150 minutes of heart pumping exercise every week and studies show people can exercise longer in the water than on land, without increased effort or joint or muscle pain. 

This Fit Tip brought to you by LifeFitness

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fit Tip: Add a Jump Rope, Try Plyometrics

Plyometric workouts have long been known as one of the most efficient and effective ways to train, because they simultaneously burn calories and build muscle. Plyometrics or “plyos” are a type of exercise that encourages muscle development, power, speed and endurance. It can even build bone mass. Get all of these benefits by adding plyos to your fitness routine with these tips from Life Fitness:
What are plyometrics?
Plyometric exercises use explosive, fast-acting movements to develop muscular power. In other words, they are high-impact movements that involve jumping. 
Why try them?
By implementing plyos into your cardio and strength routines, you’ll help transform fat into lean muscle while increasing your heart rate and burning calories.   
What types of exercises are considered plyometrics?
Plyos include anything that involves jumping. Start with something less complicated like picking up a jump rope, skipping or high knees. Gradually add squat jumps, split lunge jumps or box jumps. Even try good old-fashioned burpees. You’ll see gains in strength and confidence in no time.  
How do you get started if you are new to plyometrics?
  • Make sure you warm up properly.  Use 10 to 15 minutes to get your joints warm, muscles moving and heart pumping. 
  • Start with the basics on a soft surface, such as carpet, a rubber mat or grass.   Check your surroundings to make sure there are no obstacles in the way. 
  • Start at a slower pace, lesser range of motion and fewer repetitions. As you improve, build up to a faster speed, larger movements and more repetitions.
  • If you feel any pain, stop.
  • Take a day or two between sessions for muscle repair and recovery.  Listen to your body at all times.