Tag Archives: Cardio

Reduce The Muffin Top by July 4th

Muffins with tape measure

You may not yet know what you’re doing on the Fourth of July, but you do know what you’re going to wear. You knew as soon as you saw the star- spangled, midriff – exposing two-piece that it would end up on your body on Independence Day. There’s only one problem. Your winter hibernation has left you with a rather unpleasant souvenir: a few extra pounds hanging over the waistline of your pants, a.k.a., a muffin top. How is that going to look with your patriotic ensemble? Never fear, here are some ways you can lose that muffin top way before the fireworks start.

No More Spot Reduction
You may be thinking that the best way to get rid of fat on a specific part of your body is by focusing most of your exercises on that body part. However, most personal trainers are now advising against spot training. Why? It seems some body parts lose fat more quickly than others. That means the body tends to retain a lot of excess fat around the stomach, and the fastest way to lose that fat is to perform exercises that help you to lose fat overall. While abdomen focused exercises may help you tone the area, more muscle mass will raise the metabolism, making it easier to burn fat.

Woman on stationary bike

More Cardio
Cardio is a great way to get your heart pumping, making your body work harder and burn more calories. Zumba is a great way to get in your cardio, as are swimming, hiking, cycling, and kickboxing. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, tends to work more effectively than long workouts at moderate levels of intensity and remember to keep walking. You should be taking about 10,000 steps a day, which can be monitored with a pedometer.

Strength Training
A great way to build muscle mass is by strength training. Women who engage in strength training for 25 minutes two or three times weekly can gain about two pounds of muscle and lose twice as much fat within two months.

Woman doing crunches

Abs Exercises
Although spot reduction is not the recommended way to reduce the muffin top, performing exercises which focus on the abdominal muscles can help you tighten up the area. However, you’ll get best results doing them in conjunction with cardio. Crunches and sit ups are probably the most common abs-based exercises.

Side Muscles
While you’re focusing on your waistline, don’t forget to work the muscles on the sides. Leg lifts are good for this: Lie on one side with your legs outstretched. Raise and then lower the top leg, keeping it straight. Turn over and repeat with opposite side.

Woman with jump rope

Intervals

    1. Pick Your Type of Cardio
      Running, swimming, jumping rope, and biking are all good choices.
    2. Warm Up
      Designate the first ten minutes to increase your exercise level from low to moderate. Easy means you can hold a conversation easily; moderate and you will only be able to get out three to four words at a time.
    3. Do Ten Sprints With Breaks For Recovery
      Your sprints should be 30 seconds long with 30 second recovery periods, or light exercise. Sprints should be done at full intensity, exerting enough energy to achieve breathlessness. It is important to keep moving constantly, even during periods of recovery.
    4. Exercise At Moderate Intensity For the Minutes
      Perform the exercise of your choice for a steady ten minutes at moderate intensity without pause.
    5. Do Ten More Sprints
      Repeat step 3.
    6. Cool Down
      Wind down with five minutes of low-intensity exercise.

Woman drinking water

Are you trying to eliminate that muffin top to get into that bikini? Let us know how you’re doing it? What are the best exercises for trimming your waistline?

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Upping Your Cardiovascular Strength

woman working on a stationary bike

Let’s face it, cardio is a hard sell. It requires a lot of motivation. It’s hard to imagine that in one instance you can be a calm, cool, and collected member of society and in the next you will be a panting, suffering, hot mess in a soaking wet sports bra. What sane civilized person would willingly subject themselves to such monotonous torture?

But is cardio really so bad? One of the reasons cardio gets such a bad rap is because people tend to overdo it. Most of the benefits of exercise come not from the exercise itself, but from the way the body recovers from the exercise. If you are not giving your body enough recovery time, you may be pushing yourself too hard, unnecessarily and increasing your risk for heart disease. However, if you stick to the maxim, “Work smarter, not harder,” you may be able to make peace with cardio. The HIIT workout (high-intensity interval training) provides ways to keep the body out of the “inadequate recovery” danger zone while making your cardio a bit less repetitive.

High-Intensity Interval Training
HIIT is the combination of short bursts of high effort exercise alternation with short bursts of low-effort exercise. It burns fat and preserves muscle mass, can improve your cardiovascular capacity, increase the circulation of growth hormones and raise metabolic rates. And the biggest perk? You can do it in 20 minutes.

Sprint Walking
Going on a sprint walk is a great way to get HIIT training and can be done anywhere. If you are sprint walking on a track, you may want to sprint the straight portions and walk the curves. If you don’t have access to a track, just sprint for a certain distance and then walk back.  The general guidelines are as follows: Warm up by running at a moderate pace for about 5 minutes, sprint for 10- 20 seconds and walk for anywhere from 20 sends to tow minutes depending on your comfort level and how long you have been training.

Sprint going up, walk coming down
Locate a steep hill. Jog to it and run up it as quickly as possible and then walk down. Repeat as many times as you can. Be warned that hill sprints require tremendous energy and you may feel unable to do it too many times without your heart bursting. Don’t exceed your comfort level. Lightly jog back to your house as a cool down.

On Machines
On a stationary bike, choose the “Quick Start” option and set the resistance as high as it will go. Warm up for 5 minutes and then stand up and pedal as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Then sit down and pedal at a slow pace for 30 more seconds. Try to do about 20 minutes of the 30/30 routine. If you want to increase core activation and improve balance, you may want to let go of the bike handles. Do the 30/30 routine for 20 minutes or until you can’t feel your legs. (Just kidding.)

On an elliptical, again choose “Quick Start” and jack up the resistance. Do not move the handles, as this will decrease your speed. As with the bike, sprint for 30 seconds and them slow down for 30. You can also try reversing direction. You may not be able to sprint as quickly in reverse, but it will work out different leg muscles. Keep in mind that sprinting has been known to cause injuries. Most occur because our central nervous system triggers a muscle contraction at the wrong time. If you accelerate slowly, you can decrease your probability of limping home.

Good luck with your endeavors. For those about to sprint, we salute you!

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Tips for Dropping 10

Whether you are looking to lose those last ten pounds before hitting the beach this summer or you’re finally ready to make a lifelong change, the following tips can get you on the track to real weight loss. Always remember to listen to your body and check with a doctor before making any major changes to your diet or exercise routine (particularly if you are being treated for a medical condition).

Weightlifting

Lift Some Weights
If you’ve ever spent countless hours doing cardio and been disappointed by its results, you should give weightlifting a try. When we build more muscle mass by lifting heavy, we increase our metabolic rate, which means we burn more calories all the time, even in our sleep. Lifting heavy is a relative term; what is heavy for you when starting a strength training program may be light as you get stronger, but women especially tend to underestimate their strength. If you need help getting started, seek advice from a trainer, read some books on the subject, or use resources available online.

Ditch Processed Foods
When you eat highly processed foods, you consume excessive amounts of sodium (which causes your body to retain extra body weight in the form of water), sugar (which causes uncontrollable cravings), and all sorts of chemicals like artificial sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives. Opt instead for whole foods like meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats.

Get Some Rest
It’s widely accepted in the fitness world that sleep is just as, if not even more, important as regular exercise. Your body needs adequate sleep in order to recover from exercise and a lack of sleep is a huge contributor to unhealthy cravings. Plus, without enough sleep, you’re less likely to have the energy you need to exercise! If you have trouble falling asleep at night, start turning off your electronic devices at least 30 minutes (or more!) before bed, engage in relaxing activities such as reading a book or sipping herbal tea, and make sure your bedroom is a relaxing place to sleep by keeping it dark, cool, and quiet.

Manage Your Stress
Chronic stress not only disrupts our sleep, but is also related to elevated blood pressure, decreased physical performance, and an increase of abdominal fat. Take time out of your day, every day, to do something that brings you joy. It could simply be going for a walk with your dog or lighting some candles and taking a bath. Make sure you aren’t over-committing yourself in your work or personal life and consider starting a gratitude journal to remind yourself of all you have to be thankful for.

HIIT

HIIT
High-Intensity Interval Training has received a lot of attention recently and for good reason; if you’re looking for an effective fat burning workout, HIIT is the way to go. Not only can you effectively burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, but by utilizing both your body’s aerobic and anaerobic systems, you can create a greater after burn effect. 1-2 sessions per week of HIIT is typically all you need to see great results.

Moderate Cardio
While HIIT is certainly effective, it shouldn’t replace regular, steady-state cardio. Moderate intensity means you are working hard enough that holding a conversation would be difficult, but not impossible. Some examples could include swimming, walking on an incline, or riding a bike.

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