Tag Archives: muscle

NO MORE CABIN FEVER!!!!!

It seems the older I get, the more I hate winter.  I love snow, but I hate driving in it and it gets dark so freakin early that you miss those happy sunshine-y days.  This winter, I’ve got a game plan and I’m not going to end up stuck inside, bored and munching on a plate of Christmas cookies.
What’s my secret?  I’m going to embrace the cold.  There are so many activities to keep you busy even with snow on the ground, there’s just no excuse to be a winter bum.  The nice thing is that most of these activities end up being a workout in and of themselves, which is great especially if you can’t stomach running on a treadmill all winter long.

 

 

Snowshoeing Workout

Snowshoeing is probably going to be the number one thing I get into this season.  I live around many parks and nature preserves that allow for great hiking, but obviously deep snow can provide numerous challenges.  Snowshoes are the perfect winter hiking accessory.  They allow for more stability while walking in snow and ice, but also they are huge calorie burners!!!  We’re talking 480 calories an hour just going at a walking pace.  Not only that, but they are easy, easy, easy to use!  If you can walk, you can snowshoe.  It is also low impact, so if you have knee problems or other health issues this is a great option!  There is little equipment required.  Snowshoes, boots of any kind and warm clothes!  Just remember to wear layers that you can peel off or put back on as needed.  For those runners who want to trail run in the winter, snowshoes allow for running in the snow as well.  It’s a great activity to get you out in nature and mixes up your typical workout day.

 

 

 

Snowboarding

Snowboarding and skiing are two other winter activities that, although more expensive, are a ton of fun!  The amount of calories you burn depends on how hard you push yourself.  Still, you are strengthening your legs and ab muscles while going down the hill, especially if you are carving down the mounting.  There is equipment involved, boots, skis or board and winter clothing.  Plus you’ll need a lift ticket, which at a lot of places is expensive.  BUT there are ways to keep the expense at a minimum.  Don’t go out and buy this stuff before you’ve at least tried it to see if you like it.  Most ski hills offer rentals for the boots and board/skis so there isn’t a need to purchase these things right away.  Also, find out if your ski hill has discount days.  If you are really ambitious, get a part time job at the ski hill.  My mom did that for my brother and I as kids so that we could get family passes, for free!

 

 

Ice Skate Date

 

 

Ice skating is another fun winter activity.  This is much more economical than snowboarding and skiing because most ice skating rinks offer rentals and are less expensive in terms of fees to get in.  On average, a 150 pound person can burn almost 400 calories ice skating at about 9 mph.  Plus, it’s great for date nights or family activities!  What better way to mix up the winter boredom than to go ice skating?  You get a workout it, you have fun and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.  Even if you fall down, you just laugh it off and keep going.  If your town doesn’t have an actual indoor rink, many cities will flood the parks in the winter so that people can ice skate on it.

 

So these are just a few ways to avoid the boredom and monotony that the winter season so often brings.  I’m actually looking forward to winter now that I know I have other options than just sitting inside with the boob tube.

Shoes that Tone Your Butt? The Truth Revealed.

Reebok EasyTone

Bummer.

After watching the commercials and seeing all the hype, I must admit that I was significantly influenced to go out and by myself a pair of the Reebok EasyTone shoes.  Toning shoes are all over the media these days.  Who doesn’t want to be able to put on a pair of shoes and eventually get hot buns and thighs? Count me in!  But after doing my own research and looking at studies that have recently been conducted by reputable universities, I think I’m going to pass on the miracle shoes.  Here is why.

 

The shoe companies claim that these shoes cause minor instability, similar to that of instability balls at the gym on a much smaller scale.  This instability results in more muscles working and thus more toning in the legs, butt and thighs.  If you read reviews online, such as Amazon.com, people who have worn these shoes find that their muscles are sore afterwards.  So the shoes must be working, right?

 

Well not entirely.  According to WebMD, the soreness is most likely attributed to the muscles working in different ways, but not enough to warrant claims of overall toning.  The muscles quickly will adapt to the odd instability before your buns become steel.

 

A study was done at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse with four different pairs of shoes (3 toning brands and 1 regular tennis shoe).  12 active women between the ages of 19-24 wore the shoes for 12 five minute intervals on the treadmill. Researchers then monitored how hard they worked.  A second test group of women between the ages of 21-27 performed similar tests while wearing the shoes.  Researchers then looked at muscle usage while wearing the shoes. The results? There was no significant change in calories burned or muscle usage when comparing the four shoes.

 

So, this sucks because I was really looking forward to buying a pair of these shoes.  People say they do feel better for people who put a lot of pressure on their heels when standing and walking.  Maybe there are people who would just like the shoe for the comfort factor.  Still, don’t be expecting to walk in these shoes for a few days and end up with the kind of legs and buns seen in the commercials.  For those results, looks like it’s exercise and diet that win again!

 

To read more about the study, go to http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/truth-about-toning-shoes.

The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing

Most of us want a sexy back, perky boobs and a tight stomach.  Most of us don’t have a ton of time to spend doing a million exercises over and over with little results.  Most of us want one exercise to do it all.  Well, this is one of the best fitness moves and it works everything. With this one exercise, you’ll tighten your glutes, arms, core and shoulders and you’re chest will thank you too!

What is this one move?  It’s the push-up.  Yes, push-ups are the miracle exercise.  You torch calories and tone nearly everything.  They are hard, but they are effective.  Plus there are a ton of variations to make them easier or harder.  The most important thing, is watch your form.

Basic Push Up

The Basic

Now here, you’ll start in a plank position.  Then lower your body till your elbows are at about a 45 degree angle.  Keep your back flat, do not arch your back or allow your hips to sag.  Then push back up to starting position and repeats.  If your wrists are aching, try using dumbbells or push up bars to allow for a more full range of motion and to take stress of the wrists.

During the exercise, if you can’t keep from arching or sagging, move to your knees until you are strong enough to do one with proper form.  As you get stronger, you’ll begin on your toes and do as many until your form breaks, and then move to your knees.  You’ll find yourself being able to do more and more on your toes.

Do not get discouraged if you aren’t able to do one push up on your toes to begin with.  I wasn’t able to do one either.  My husband would help support my torso and watch my form to make sure I could do it correctly.  I built up a lot of strength and now I can do 20 without stopping.  This really is a great exercise.  My abs look great since I’ve been doing them and so do my arms and chest.  You will feel strong and look toned.  Give them a try!

If you want more variations, check out Womens Health online.  They have great tips!

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/perfect-pushup

Plyometrics: Jump Into A Better Body

Plyometrics

Burn Serious Calories Fast

I never was involved in sports at the high school level.  I didn’t understand what it meant to train for anything.  When I finally wanted to get into working out, I had no idea where to begin.  I would get on the treadmill or the eliptical and would go for quite a while, but never saw any real results.  These days, I know what my body feels like when it’s actually doing work.  I can tell when I’m getting my heart rate up and my muscles are starting to burn slightly, that the exercises are actually doing something.  With Plyometrics, there will never be any doubt that your body is indeed working and changing for the better.

Plyometrics is also referred to as jump training.  It is a series of explosive movements, such as jump squats, which not only gets your heart rate up (and keeps it there) but also builds muscle.  These exercises are designed to improve endurance, strength and agility all at the same time. 

Plyometrics allows for some serious calorie burning as well.  I do the P90x plyometrics video and people have reported burning as many as 895 calories during that one hour video.  Granted calories burned will vary depending on each individual’s weight, age and current fitness level.  Still, it can’t be denied that you have the potential to get a great workout in a short amount of time.  According to Runner’s World, runners who included plyometrics into their workout schedule improved the amount of oxygen they use while running, as well as their overall stride, range of motion and fitness level in just 6 weeks.

Speaking from personal experience, I love this type of workout.  I hate spending time at the gym, only to feel like I didn’t do enough or that I wasted my time doing exercises that aren’t effective.  With Plyometrics, I never feel cheated out of my time.  I get done and I am sweating and exhausted and out of breath, but deep down I feel fantastic. 

Just be aware that you may need to adjust exercises if you have knee or joint problems because they are high impact.  That doesn’t mean you have to necessarily avoid them like the plague, just make adjustments to fit you needs.  And be sure to do the exercises properly and in good form to avoid injury.

Here is a sample Plyometrics workout video

For more info and workouts, check out the links below. 

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/jumping-workout

http://www.self.com/fitness/workouts/2007/12/plyometric-jumping-slideshow#slide=1

More Reasons to Break a Sweat

Fitness Magazines.com had a cool article on the benefits of exercising.  We all know it’s good for us, but it’s always motivating to read more reasons why you should be doing it! So here’s a few:

 

Immediate Mood Boost – your body produces endorphines, seratonin, dopamine and norepinepherine which leave you feeling energized and stress-free

Fight Off Sickness – everytime you workout your immune system gets stronger because your body sends out special proteins that protect from infections

Lower Blood Pressure – working out keeps your heart healthy and lowers your blood pressure for almost an entire day

Keeps You Focused – increases oxygen and blood to the brain

You Live Longer – adding only 30 minutes of cardio to your schedule 3 days a week can add 6 years to your life

And the more obvious is… Your gain lean muscle and are will stay (or become) more slim and fit

 

My main reason for working out is always just because I love the way it feels to have accomplished something challenging.  I try not to have my main reason be for losing weight, etc. because all in all I just want to be healthy.  I don’t pay attention to the scale, I pay attention to how my clothes fit and how I feel overall.  I notice that if I miss a workout or eat unhealthy foods, I feel like crap the rest of the day.  Even my husband notices the difference when I don’t get my workout in.

Plus, I like to remember that this is the only body you get.  The body works so hard every day, your heart, your lungs and just to keep you going day in and day out.  I feel it’s the least you can do to sort of take the stress off of it.  You have to be good to your body so it will be good to you in years ahead.

Anyways, I love finding more reasons to keep up the good work and staying motivated!  Just thought I’d send you all some motivation as well.

 

To read the whole article from Fitness Magazine click below.

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/motivation/get-started/power-surge-the-hidden-benefits-of-exercise/

 

No…You Will Not Turn Into Arnold Schwartzenegger

There are so many misconceptions about weight training. Many women stay as far away from dumbbells for fear of developing a body builder physique. Truth is, it takes a lot of hard work and training to become a body builder. I have never heard of anyone who accidentally gained that kind of muscle. Professional weight lifters are actually dedicating their life to getting that body. That’s not going to happen unless that’s what your intending to create.

That said, there are TONS of benefits to pumping iron a couple days a week. First off, you’ll maintain your lean muscle mass which tends to decrease with age. You’ll look toned all over. Your clothes will fit better. Your bones and joints will be stronger. You’ll gain strength and have the ability to push yourself harder.

I love weight training so much! I never used to do anything with weights, or if I did I didn’t use them properly so I never saw results. Now that I incorporate them into my workouts; my arms are super toned, my back is strong (thanks pushups!), and I actually can see my ab muscles.

I highly recommend doing some form of weights a couple days a week along with cardio. You’ll feel strong and look great!

Helpful Hints
Make sure you rest your muscles by not working the same muscle groups ever day. Ex: Doing arms and back one day and legs and chest the next.

Make sure you aren’t lifting too heavy or too light of weight. For women, doing lighter weight with higher reps (12-15 reps 2x) seems to work great. Still, if you are getting to your last rep and it feels too easy, it probably is. Just increase the weight slightly so that your muscles are getting the most from the exercise.

Also, enjoy a glass of chocolate milk post-workout! Makes for a great recovery drink.

Additional Info

http://www.womenfitness.net/programs/strength/exercises.htm

Sample workouts for women (may require you to sign up for username)

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/weight-training/HQ01627/NSECTIONGROUP=2

Mayo clinic explains health benefits