If you've been working out for a while, it may be time to take it up a notch. Many people want to advance their fitness levels to see results, achieve more accomplishments or renew their motivation for working out.
March 31, 2009
If you've been working out for a while, it may be time to take it up a notch. Many people want to advance their fitness levels to see results, achieve more accomplishments or renew their motivation for working out.
March 30, 2009
It's Time For Outdoor Fitness!
March 29, 2009
Quinoa seeds are edible, healthy and delicious. They are readily available at most supermarkets and have amazing health benefits.
Nutritional Benefits of Quinoa
-They are a complete protein source (contains all essential amino acids), which is very good for vegetarians, vegans and for people on muscle building programs. 100 grams has 14 grams of protein.
-Low in fat.
-Great source of fiber.
-High in phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
-Gluten free and easy to digest.
Try Quinoa cooked with beans, vegetables and nuts for a delicious and healthy meal option.
March 28, 2009
Going in to the gym and throwing around some weights isn't enough to get you the physique you want. A weight training program has to be structured and designed to suit your body type, abilities and goals.
Here are Three Types of Programs for Different Goals.
If you're new to lifting weights, the best way to start is with a straight set, full body program. A straight set starts with with larger muscle groups (chest, back, glutes) and moves down to the smaller ones (shoulders, biceps, calves) while only preforming 1-2 sets per exercise. Choose a weight that tires out your muscles at 12-15 reps. This weight amount will build a solid foundation for heavier weights in the future and will also screen for underlying injuries.
2. Building Muscle
If you want to put on serious muscle you have to do some serious lifting. Muscle doesn't come easy and any building program works best with a very clean diet consisting of lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. A muscle building program should have a variety of reps, anywhere from 5-12 and 2-4 sets. Switch up program variety from a 3 day split (ex: chest, triceps and shoulders) to just upper or lower body workouts. As long as you are lifting hard and allowing a full recovery in between sets (approx 1-3 mins) you will be buying bigger shirts in no time.
3. Weight Loss
Lifting for weight loss is very beneficial because adding muscle burns more calories overall during the day. In addition to weight loss from diet and cardio exercise, lifting weights will tone out your muscles, to allow all of the hard work to shine through. A great weight loss weight program is circuit training or upper/lower programs. These programs keep the blood moving back and forth throughout the body and keep the heart rate elevated. An easy circuit is completing a straight set program 2 or 3 times using weights that fatigue your muscles at 12-15 reps. For upper lower keep switching between an upper body exercise and then a lower one, only resting when you have to. It's also advisable to add in compound exercises that work more than one muscle at a time like step ups + bicep curls and lunges + overhead tricep extensions. Just remember to work with largest to smallest muscles.
If you would like any program suggestions feel free to e mail me anytime, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 27, 2009
I really like this article, and not just because it looks like my pantry, I swear! It advises on the best staple foods to stock up on and why they are beneficial.
March 26, 2009
While lifting weights, it's common to concentrate on the positive rep (the lifting) and let the weight drop on the decline.
Keep in mind that the second part of the rep is just as important as the first. If you want your muscles to be strong and fully developed, then there is a definite advantage to lowering your weight in a slow and controlled motion on the lowering phase. The negative rep, as it's called hits just as many muscle fibers as the positive and a fully completed rep, equals a fully developed muscle!
An exercise I really like the compound bicep curl. To do this one, start with your palms facing your thighs, with your elbows locked in to your sides.
On the positive rep you will be lifting with your forearms by doing a reverse curl. At the half way point, when your palms are facing away from your shoulders, turn your wrists so that they are facing and slowly bring the weights back down by using your biceps.
I like this exercise not only because it works both biceps and forearms but because it helps focus on the negative rep during a bicep curl, which is the most neglected negative rep of them all.
March 25, 2009
With the economy being in the state that it's in, a lot of people may be hesitant to invest money in to themselves and their well being.
Here are Three Fitness Investments that Pay for Themselves
1. A home gym.
The average cost of a yearly gym membership is $500-1000. For the same amount, you could equip your home with free weights, a stability ball and an exercise bike and within the first year, break even on your investment. In the long run a home gym will save you thousands of dollars, especially if more than one person uses the home set up to exercise.
2. Cycling to Work
The average cost to use public transportation is $100. The average cost of gas for a car is about $120. A used bike in good condition will cost $200. You can break even in about 2 months and become very fit in the process!
3. Hiring a Personal Trainer.
A personal trainer will give you the results you want in a few months and teach you invaluable information to maintain and progress your goals long after your training sessions finish. With all the wasted money on fitness equipment, gym memberships and diet books, investing in to a personal trainer is by far the quickest and most effective way to get results.
Even during hard financial times putting money in to our health and well being is a great investment. Feeling good about yourself and having more mental and physical energy will help us deal with any additional stress and worry.
March 24, 2009
What time of day a person exercises depends on a few factors; time, energy levels and motivation. Whether you decide to workout in the morning or evening is completely up to you but here are a few pros and cons to both:
March 23, 2009
March 22, 2009
There may come a time when you get too strong for your weights. In between getting heavier weights, here are a few tips to continue seeing results with what you already have.
Three Tips for Progressing when your Weights get too Easy
1. Lift slow. If you always lift fast than lifting slow could fatigue you with only half the reps. There's a chance you might not even need new weights yet!
2. Switch to body weight exercises. Push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges and chin ups are very challenging. Plus switching your routine from free weights to body weight will progress your results quickly.
3. Switch to resistance tubes. You would be surprised how tough a heavy weight resistance tube is. Using them for bent rows, bicep curls, bench press, squats, lateral raises and squats will keep progressing. Plus you could take them to the park with you for an outdoor workout.
Don't become discouraged when your weights are too light. It's great to be able to say you are too strong for them! Just remember to keep switching up your routine and use these tips to keep your muscles maintained until you get some heavier weights.
March 21, 2009
It's that time of year again to pull the bike out of the garage and get it tuned up for riding season. What better time than the weekend?
A basic tune up at a bike shop like The Cyclepath costs around $30 and a deluxe tune up around $60.
Make sure you have:
-A headlight and taillight
-Rear view mirror
-A bell or horn
-A bike repair kit
-Extras for comfort like a gel seat cover and grip covers.
-A GOOD lock.
Just a reminder, when you ride be sure to carry I.D, a cell phone and a bit of cash. And of course, always wear a helmet!
March 20, 2009
This soup is tasty and easy. You really can't go wrong with this one.
5 cups of water
1/4 cup of brown rice
1/4 cup of red lentils
1 small tomato
1/2 tsp of dried mint
1 tsp of olive oil
pepper to taste
We found this recipe a little bland at first but with a tablespoon or so of broth powder and a bit of lemon juice it turned out delish!
1. Saute finely chopped onions with oil for 5 minutes of medium heat
2. Add chopped carrots and 1 cups of hot water and bring to a boil
3. Add chopped potatoes and another 1 cups of hot water.
4. Add rice and lentils and another 1 cups of hot water and stir steadily.
5. Add chopped tomato, pepper and the remaining 2 cups of water. Cover and cook over low heat approximately 30 minutes (45-60 minutes will bring out the flavours a little more) until ingredients are tender. Stir occasionally.
6. Before removing from heat, add mint.
Serve with a warm whole grain dinner roll for a delicious, healthy and hearty meal.
March 19, 2009
Now that it's almost officially spring (feels like it anyway) it's time to look over what we set to do over the winter and re-evaluate goals for the spring.
As someone who has lost weight and now tries to maintain my results (Yes, even 5 years later) the winter has always worried me a bit, due to the decline in activity and less options to stay in shape.
This winter my goal was not only to maintain results but to tone out strengthen my body more than I had last summer and fall. I was motivated by a trip to Mexico, which helped me stay focused a great deal.
My plan was simple. I added an extra 10 minutes to my cardio routine, lifted weights 2-3 times a week and tried to manage a 1 hr yoga session at least once a week. Sometimes I did more than that and sometimes less.
For cardio I alternated between a stationary bike and treadmill. My workouts are mostly intervals but I like steady state runs, so I did those once a week.
My weight lifting routines are always different. Sometimes a circuit, other times 2-3 sets and switched between upper-lower, just upper, supersets and pyramids. I don't think my body ever knew what was coming next!
This summer is already planned out. I'm starting a martial arts class, running with clients and cycling to all of my appointments. Plus I'll stick to my yoga and strength training sessions 2-3 times a week.
I'm looking forward to the outcome.
What did you do to stay fit this winter and what will you be doing to progress those goals this coming spring?
March 18, 2009
What's ten minutes? 1/3 of a TV program, the time it takes to boil some pasta, a walk to the corner store. It's not a lot of time by any stretch and yet it can make a world of a difference to your results.
Adding ten minutes on to your workout routine will definitely add up. This winter I did just that to my regimen, lost 3 pounds and noticeably toned up.
Here are some figures.
for a 150lb person
Biking at 16-19MPH- 136 calories
Running at 6.0 MPH- 113 calories
Calisthenics- 51 calories
Weight lifting- 68 calories
Walking at 4.0 MPH- 45 calories
Even if this does not seem like much to you, multiply these numbers by how many times you exercise a week and then again by 4. You will discover that over the course of a month, an extra ten minutes is some serious calorie burning.
Ten minutes is really no time at all, so even if you are busy it's not a huge change in your routine to get you great results.
Add 10 Minutes for Great Results!
March 17, 2009
With all of the complaints this past year over the TTC and high gas prices more people should consider riding a bike to commute to work. Not only are bicycles environmentally friendly but they save on travelling costs and of course the inevitable road (or TTC) rage.
March 16, 2009
"Don't waste a minute being unhappy. If one window closes, run to the next window, or break down a door."
"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."
- E E. Cummings
"To be happy, do not add to your possessions, but subtract from your desires."
"Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient."
"There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."
"The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration."
March 15, 2009
When you make the (wonderful) decision to set up a home gym, one of the first things you will need is a weight set. Its important to choose a set that will be durable for long lasting use and aesthetic quality.
Vinyl- These weights cost a little more than a $1/per pound but they look really nice. The cons to these types of weights is that they don't usually come in larger increments over ten pounds and they scuff and mark very easily. Over time you may find that your pretty weight set looks very worn before its time.
Rubber Grip Weights - The weights are made with this coating for grip and like the vinyl they are not usually made in larger weight amounts. The worst thing about these weights, is that the rubber will come off! This makes the weights look absolutely terrible, not to mention having little bits of your set all over the workout space. These cost more than a $1/per pound and in my opinion, are totally not worth it.
Plastic - Plastic weights usually come in the form of plates. They are not very good looking but if you are looking for a functional and affordable set, these are the cheapest and are quite durable. There has been a 25 pound plate sitting outside down the street from me all winter and it still doesn't have any damage!
Cast Iron- These are my favourite because the price is right at $1/per pound and they are extremely durable. They are not as attractive as say, a chrome set but they still look better than the plastic and aside from the occasional little nick from being banged off each other they will last a lifetime. The set I have is more of a gun metal colour and less grey, so I couldn't be happier with the way they look.
Rubberized Hex- These dumbbells have rubber coated heads and chrome handles. They are made to protect the floor and body. These weights are more expensive than most at $1.50-2/per pound but they will really spruce up any gym. Many high end facilities buy this type of weight set for a more modern feel, oppose to the hardcore, no-name basement gyms.
Chrome- These are probably the most expensive at $2+/per pound but if you want to pay over double for a weight set at least you will have one fine looking set up. One of the pros to this type of set is you can get a full set in all chrome including barbells and plates. Sure it will cost you an arm and a leg but at least you will be fit in style.
Select Techs and Power Blocks- These are fantastic space savers and they will make any home gym look very neat and modern. The only problem with these contraptions are that they are a little too fragile. One drop can ruin the whole set and at around $500-700, some people would rather not risk it.
Setting up a home gym is a lot of fun and very satisfying. Just be sure to shop around and choose a set that suits your style, budget and image of your future gym.
March 14, 2009
There are little eating tricks to burn more calories. One of the best known is eating small meals throughout the day. This works because your body doesn't have much food to digest and absorb all at once and becomes active every few hours, after every meal or snack. If you eat more frequently your body doesn't go into fasting (which slows the metabolism) and your metabolic rate will always be soaring.
March 13, 2009
Do you remember when you were a kid, playing air guitar or with your hair and your parents would tell you to stop fidgeting? Well maybe you should start again. Studies Suggest that staying in motion will help you to burn more calories.
The average person should burn 30% of their calories from daily activities but most sedentary individuals only burn 15%.
March 12, 2009
March 11, 2009
Most of us know that to lose or maintain weight, we need to burn more (or the same) calories a day than we eat. Fortunately we burn calories through more ways than just exercise.
Calories are our energy source so everything we do (even sleeping!) burns calories.
Calories are burned to provide energy for these three functions:
30% of our daily energy consumption comes from daily activities. This can be absolutely anything from walking around the office at work, exercise and even writing an essay.
2. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
60% of calories are burned by being alive. The brain requires a lot of energy to function. Sleeping and even being sedentary burns calories. We burn them all of the time!
3. Dietary Thermogenics.
The remaining calories are burned by eating, digesting and absorbing food.
Now that we have covered the basics, the next few posts will focus on how to burn more calories by using these functions to your advantage.
March 10, 2009
Putting off exercise is a common obstacle for many people trying to get in to shape or maintain their results. While it is true that time constraints are usually the primary factor for missing workouts, many times it's a simple matter of not following through on the plan to get a workout in to your daily routine.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. It's too easy to be convinced that you are too tired or don't have the time.
It helps to be strict with yourself and to treat exercise like a professional project or personal responsibility. When something has to be done, we will make the time for it.
In a sense exercise almost seems to make the days longer because training your body physically also has mental benefits like thinking and working faster and gaining the perseverance to finish projects that we start. Being physically fit is more than just working your way to a nice body, it also means having a sharp mind, less stress and greater feelings of well being and happiness.
So be tough on yourself and fit in 30 minutes of continuous exercise a day. Your body, mind and soul will thank you.
March 9, 2009
"It is important that you recognize your progress and take pride in your accomplishments. Share your achievements with others. Brag a little. The recognition and support of those around you is nurturing.”
"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.”
"Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some."
"Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours."
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
March 8, 2009
Lately I've been obsessed with snacking on baby carrots. Carrots make for great after dinner munchies. They are sweet, crunchy and low in fat and carbs. This satisfying snack is also loaded with health benefits.
Nutritional Benefits of Carrots
-Excellent source of anti-oxidant compounds
-Richest vegetable source of vitamin A and beta carotene.
-Improves night vision
-Protects against heart disease
-Protects against some forms of cancer
-Aids weight loss
-Regulates blood sugar
-High in fiber, calcium, potassium vitamin C and K
Carrots can be enjoyed on their own, with healthy dips such as hummus or shredded in to salads as a few examples. Carrots are filling, healthy and loaded with quality nutrition, so go crazy for carrots!
March 7, 2009
If you have extra time in for your weight routine, consider trying one arm exercises. By taking an exercise that is typically preformed with two arms at a time, like the shoulder press or dumbbell bench press try with only one arm at a time to receive additional benefits to these staple exercises. One arm exercises take a little longer but the benefits will make the time well spent.
Training this way requires you to keep your balance, which is great for core stability. By using only one arm at a time you recruit the smaller surrounding muscles to support the weight. This strengthens muscles that are sometimes neglected.
This training method is also beneficial for functional training. For the most part you will use one arm at a time for day to day activities, such as placing a heavy object on a high shelf at home.
To preform one arm exercises always make sure you are holding a weight in the other hand for balance. For example, when doing a one arm flat bench dumbbell press keep one weight in starting position, while the other is completing the set. Then switch sides. This way, the exercise can be completed safely, without having to worry about flipping off the bench.
Other one arm exercises can include bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, tricep overhead extensions, one arm rows and dumbbell flyes.
Any kind of new exercise routine is great for changing things up to keep your body and mind challenged.
Try One Arm Exercises!
March 6, 2009
It's opening weekend for the much anticipated Watchmen movie. With the exception of Dr. Manhattan, all of the Watchmen are just average people who happen to be superheros. Counting out all of the classic heroes that become powerful by means of high doses of gamma radiation or millions of dollars worth of advanced technology, what makes a superhero? Well aside from nerves of steel and maybe an agenda I'm going to say strength, flexibility, speed, agility and endurance.
Sounds a lot like what we want out of training, right?
So I went ahead and developed the Superhero Workout combining all elements of what it takes to be a superhero. After finishing this workout, all you will need is a costume and you're set!
Let's get started.
The Superhero Workout
Equipment- Dumbbells, chin up bar, jump rope and Stability ball
Level - Intermediate to Advanced
3 minutes of jogging on the spot, 2 minutes of arm circles and upper body dynamic stretches.
T Push up (Hold weights where your hands would go for a standard pushup. After each rep go right in to side side plank, alternating sides, using weights as resistance
Reps-10, (break 30 sec) 9, (break ") 8, (break") 7, (break").......1. (break) for a combined total of 55
Stretch chest for 2 minutes
Romanian Deadlifts (use a weight that can get you to 10 reps with a challenge)
Reps- 10, (break 1 min), 9, (break 1 min).......1, (break 1 min) for a combined total of 55
Note: not only are Romanian Deadlifts great for a powerful low body but it takes a lot of endurance to be able to do them. Lifting a weight off the ground with proper posture will prepare you for saving civilians.
Stretch low body for 2 minutes
Pull Ups (Use a stability ball underneath for assisted)
Reps- 30 (15 each side)
Flexed Arm Hang + Leg (or knee) raise
Note: The pull up sequence should be timed. Work on improving your speed from workout to workout. An average time is 15 minutes. Pull ups with improve your grip strength for hanging outside of buildings.
Stretch back, biceps and shoulders for 2 minutes
Box Jumps or Step Ups (use a stair, aerobic step or low bench)
Reps- 25, (break 2 mins) 25 for a combined total of 50
Note: Being able to jump high and accurately is definitely a must for the superhero in training. This exercise improves co-ordination, endurance, speed and agility.
Tricep dip and walk
To do this exercise use a step (or bench) and do dips as you normally would (with feet on a stability ball) except this time, after every rep try moving your hands (one at a time) a few inches over and then maneuver the ball over as well. This will help you practice supporting your weight with your upper body for hiding in ceiling corners.
Stretch triceps for 1 minute
Weighted Stability ball crunches
Reps 25, 25, 25
Weighted side-side (one side at a time) stability ball crunches
Reps 25, 25
Front plank with one foot on top of the other
Switch feet positioning
Full body stretch 5-10 minutes
This is a tough workout (what can I say, superhero status doesn't come easy!) so take your time and know your limitations. Make modifications whenever necessary.
March 5, 2009
A common diet problem is the fact that it's hard to reduce calories. Many healthy diet plans fail when too much of even the healthiest foods are consumed. It is important to strike the balance between eating enough to fuel your body, but not so much that your body stores the extra energy as fat.
Here are Two Great Tips For Eating Less
1. Control your Environment.
Having junk food around the house means only one thing, it will be eaten! Sometimes the best approach to eating right is only having food around the house that is healthy. If you find you are the type of person that will eat anything in excess, try buying the food you need on a day to day basis. This goes against a lot of health advise to buy in bulk. However, this strategy might work for you if you have trouble controlling willpower through bouts of cravings and boredom.
2. Set an Eating Schedule.
The body likes to have routine and if it knows it does not eat for another 2 hours, chances are your stomach won't start growling until then. Setting up a meal schedule trains your body to expect food when the time is right. This tactic ensures that you will get through your day without having to stop off at the convenience store for a snack to hold you until dinner. This strategy also works for indulgences. Tell yourself you can only have junk food on Saturday and soon enough, the craving won't creep up on you until then. By the time Saturday comes around, you have the choice to take it or leave it until next week.
Try these healthy eating strategies to reduce calories and prevent overeating. Combine this with a complete workout program 2-3 times a week for fantastic body changing results.
March 4, 2009
Working out at home has to be the easiest, most affordable way to get fit. It is convenient and doesn't require much equipment at all. Actually, you can get a great cardio and strength workout using your staircase alone.
March 3, 2009
According to a A Study in the New England Journal of Medicine it's not so much what you are eating to lose weight but how much.
Researchers had a group of overweight participants each eat different popular diets (low fat, mediterranian, low carb, high fiber etc) and significantly reduced their calories. Turns out, they all lost weight.
It's still important to eat quality calories to fuel your body but it means that choosing a healthy diet to aid weight loss is a little less complicated. It's possible to pick a diet based on your own personal preference. As long as you control caloric intake, you should lose those few pounds.
March 2, 2009
"People say that losing weight is no walk in the park. When I hear that I think, yeah, that's the problem."
March 1, 2009
This is my favourite tomato sauce ever! Not only is it a great source of protein, it tastes so creamy you would think it's bad for you. Even if you're not usually a cottage cheese fan, you will be pleasantly surprised by this low fat recipe.
2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned and diced works well)
Plenty of chopped fresh basil
1 clove chopped garlic
1 tbsp olive oil