Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fit Tip: Focus on Legs

One of the easiest ways to tone your legs is to get up and use them more with consistent walking, jogging or biking routines. These cardio activities will also burn calories and help reduce overall body fat. But if you are looking for lean, strong legs, the prescription is strength training. Rely on variations of good old-fashioned squats, lunges and deadlifts to firm up the muscles in your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. 
Try the following leg exercises to train your muscles and get your legs ready for summer:
Take the Stairs: Choosing the stairs over the elevator is one of the easiest ways to work your legs during the day and you don’t need any extra equipment, just your body weight. Make it even more effective by taking the stairs two at a time. Push yourself up with your glutes and hamstrings to work the back of your legs. 
Squats: Squats are one of the best moves for leg toning and glute firming. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes facing forward, abs tight and arms at your sides.  Bend your knees to lower your body into a squat position, going as low as you can but no farther than 90 degrees. Pretend you are sitting back into a chair. Sit back and keep your knees over your toes, keep your chest lifted and spine long. Push through your heels and squeeze your buns to rise back to the starting position.
Deadlifts: There’s no doubt, the dead lift is one of the best exercise to tone the glutes and backside of the legs. Holding a barbell or two dumbbells at your side, keep your arms straight and knees slightly bent. Slowly bend at your hip joint, not your waist, and lower the weights as far as possible without rounding your back. Keep your spine neutral and abs tight. Squeeze your glutes to pull yourself up.
Stability Ball Leg Curl:  This is a great exercise to target the back of your legs. Grab a stability ball and lie on your back with your knees at a 90 degree angle and ankles on top of the ball. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the ground. Keep your glutes squeezed tight, hold your hips off the ground and roll the ball toward your glutes and back to perform the rep. If that’s too challenging start with a simple hip lift and work your way toward the leg curl.
Alternating Reverse Lunges: Step back with one leg and bend both knees, lowering your body towards the ground. Align your front knee over the ankle of your front foot and stay on your back toe. Come back up to standing and switch legs. 

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fit Tip: Focus on Arms

Summer is just around the corner, which means sleeveless tops and days at the beach can’t be far away either. Get toned and strong arms with classic free weight and bodyweight exercises. Use these tips to work your triceps, biceps and shoulders to get the definition you desire.
Front Shoulder Raise: You might as well call this exercise the “tank top toner.” Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding weights down in front of your thighs with your palms facing you. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, raise your arms up in front of you until they are parallel to the floor. Don’t shrug. Keep your shoulders relaxed and don’t raise your arms above shoulder level. Lower back to starting position and repeat.
Lateral Shoulder Raise:  Strong shoulders help enhance the look of defined arms. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold weights at your sides with palms facing each other. Keeping elbows slightly bent, raise arms straight out to the sides until they are parallel to the floor. Like the front shoulder raise, make sure not to go higher than your shoulder level. Lower back to starting position and repeat.
Biceps Curl: Strong biceps are important for both men and women. With your feet hip-to-shoulder width apart and knees bent slightly, hold a weight in each hand with your arms down by your sides, palms facing forward. Bend your elbows to lift the weights toward your shoulders, stopping when they are at chest height and your palms are facing your body. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat.
Overhead Press: Wave goodbye to underarm flab by strengthening the back of your triceps. Sit or stand with your feet hip-width apart. Clasp one weight with both hands. Extend your arms straight overhead, and keep your elbows close to your ears. Bend your elbows to slowly lower the weight behind you, still keeping your elbows in and close to your ears. Contract your triceps and straighten your elbows to return to the starting position.
Pushups: Stretch out in the plank position. If you are a beginner, start on your knees instead of your toes. Keep your hands under your shoulders and a little wider than shoulder-width. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle and lower your body, keeping your abs tight. Keep the spine in a neutral position, not allowing your back to sag.
Triceps Dips: Sit on a bench with your hands next to your thighs. Lift your butt off the seat and move your body so it's slightly in front of the seat. Keep your knees slightly bent. Bend at the elbows and lower your body several inches. Keep your shoulders relaxed and elbows pointed back. Push back up to starting position.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fit Tip: Focus on Glutes

Most people wouldn’t mind a firm booty, but the more we sit, the softer our seat gets. To get a gravity-defying butt that’s strong and toned, commit to adding exercises that focus on your backside. 

Squat it out. Squats are often touted as the best workout for your butt (and thighs), and for good reason. Perform squats using your body weight, a pair of dumbbells or a kettlebell. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, bend both knees and act like you are sitting back in a chair, until your thighs are parallel to the ground.  Keep your chest up, head lifted and abs engaged. Squeezing your glutes, drive through the heels as you return to standing.  Try a few variations like narrow squats, single leg squats or squat jumps.

Lunge, not lounge. Lunges shape the legs and buns and are part of most sports.  Keep your upper body lifted and step forward with one leg in an exaggerated step that is about double an average walking step. Bend both of your knees to 90 degrees if possible until your front thigh is almost parallel to the floor and your back knee is almost touching the floor. Return to the standing position and repeat. Perform an equal number of repetitions with both legs. You can try a few variations like adding weights and doing cross behind lunges or walking lunges.

Do the bridge. Bridges not only firm the glutes, but also work the inner thigh. Start by lying on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Place a towel between your knees and squeeze. Rest your arms by the sides of your body with your palms on the floor. Squeeze your legs together and lift your hips up off the floor, engaging your core as well. Lower back down and repeat several times. 

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fit Tip: Create an Online Support Network

Joining an online fitness and health community is a powerful way to share tips and workouts, provide support and stay accountable. One study from the University of Texas even found that active online weight loss community members lost more weight than members who were inactive. 
Get the right support. Do you long to have the support of a community and access to fitness experts like contestants on The Biggest Loser? With an online community you can commit to your goals and share struggles and successes alongside others in your same position. Fitness community sites range from free, forum based communities to monthly subscriptions with access to exercise and nutrition experts and structured programs designed to fit your personal goals. Pick one that fits your personality, goals and budget.
Try Out:
Create a Challenge. Create an online challenge and invite your family, friends or a group of coworkers to join. It’s a private community with people you know where you can share photos, videos and encouraging comments. It’s a great way to set goals, track progress and root each other on. The ability to have a winner can also be extremely motivating. 
Try Out:
Keep learning. There are endless online resources for health and fitness information. In addition to community support, many trusted sites offer the latest research articles, fitness trends and workout videos that will make fitness a lifelong learning experience.
Try Out:
This FitTip was brought to you by LifeFitness