Friday 20 May 2016

Burning rubber for better results

The days of expensive gym equipment being the standard in the fitness industry are over. With the rise of functional training to the forefront of workout programs, there is no need to spend a ton of money on overpriced equipment or a costly gym membership again.Sure, those weight stack machines are great for any athlete or fitness enthusiast looking to get a quick burn or drop set at the gym, but the foundation of a challenging workout is either with free weights or functional training.A perfect example of functional training is tire training. It trains the body to use muscles for activities that would be performed in everyday life.Tire training helps everyone from athletes looking to get an edge on the competition to anyone just looking for a fun and different outdoor workout.The only equipment needed for a great tire workout is a truck or tractor tire and a sledgehammer. You can always stop in at a commercial or industrial tire shop and ask if they have any scrap tires that you can take off their hands. Many times they are happy to oblige.Here is a full body workout consisting of nine exercises that can be performed using a tire:

Tire Flips- Squat down with a straight back and grab underneath the tire. Next, deadlift the tire up, keeping the back straight. Step in as you push the tire forward flipping it on its other side. Repeat for a set of 15 repetitions.

Tire Pushups- Place hands shoulder width apart on a tire laying on its side. Lower the body like a regular pushup by bending at the elbows while keeping the rest of the body straight and push until the elbows are straight again. Repeat for a set of 15 repetitions.

Tire Planks- Place forearms on the side of the tire while keeping the body perfectly straight using the core muscles. Hold this position for 15 seconds.

Tire Mountain Climbers- Start by placing the hands on a tire in a pushup position. Pull one knee in close to the chest while keeping the opposite leg straight, and alternate legs repetitively for 15 repetitions on each.

Tire Dips- Begin by sitting on the tire facing away from it. Place hands on the edge of the tire next to your hips. Straighten your legs and push up by straightening the elbows. Bend the elbows keeping the legs straight using the arms to move the body up and down. Repeat for a set of 15 repetitions.

Tire Box Jumps- Stand in front of the tire and bend the knees slightly as you jump onto and off of the edge of the tire. Repeat for a set of 15 repetitions.

Tire Step Lunges- Face the tire at a leg’s length away. Lunge forward and step onto the edge of the tire while bending the front and back knees both at 90 degrees. Alternate legs and repeat for a set of 15 repetitions on each leg.

Tire Sledge Hits- Face the tire holding a sledgehammer at the bottom and top of the handle with each hand. Press (don’t swing!) the hammer up over the head and come down slamming the hammer into the tire. Slide the hand closest to the head of the hammer down the handle as you slam it down. Alternate hands for equal muscle exertion on both the left and right arms. Repeat for 15 repetitions on each side.

Tire In N’ Out Jumps- Face the tire similar to the box jump-starting position. Leap high into the air over the edge of the tire and into the empty space of the hole. Quickly jump out of the tire leaping over the opposite side. Repeat for a set of 15 repetitions.

New approaches to running

To run or not to run?” That is the question. It is the question many people ask themselves when deciding on what type of cardio exercise will help them get the fastest and most effective results.Daylight savings time is right around the corner. With it comes longer days, nice warm weather, more time for outdoor activities, and a new outlook on fitness for a new season.This time of year is a great season for outdoor exercise. The unbearable cold is pretty much over and the intense heat is still a few months away. March through May is a great period of time to make the most of the outdoors for some great running workouts.Many people love to run. They truly do enjoy the peaceful high that comes from clearing their head while their favorite music plays on their headphones and their body enjoys a continuous release of exercise-induced endorphins.
But what if you don’t like to run? How can you get the great fat-burning results from running and still remain interested in it and invigorated by it every single workout? The answer: think outside the box.
Fitness is always a part of your life that you can customize to your likes and dislikes so that it works for you. Although principles and techniques may be set in stone, the type of exercise and the way that you do it is totally up to you.
If you like continuous challenges then try a new approach to running. Make it a competitive battle against yourself. By incorporating sprints into your running workout you will be recruiting more muscle fibers than regular jogging. This will get you better results at a much faster rate.
Here are three great programs for increasing the effectiveness of your running program so that you will be ready for those springtime races that have started.
Interval Runs
Start with a basic High Intensity Interval run. This method works great for when you are running for distance. It will not only help speed up your time, but also make the run much more fun and challenging.
Jog for sixty seconds, and then kick it into high gear for thirty seconds with a sprint. Take it back down to a jog for sixty seconds, then blast into another sprint for thirty seconds. This is a basic interval that will not only add a great dynamic to your run but also supercharge the metabolism. Keep up the basic slow/fast interval for the entire distance you are running or for a designated amount of time you aim to run. Before you know it the workout will be almost done!
Line Sprints
Designate lines or cracks on a track, football field, basketball court, a parking lot, etc. for three rounds of sprints. Begin by sprinting to the first line and quickly bending down to touch the line. Sprint back to the starting line again, then proceed to sprint again to the second line.
Return with a sprint back to the starting line. Immediately blast off with a sprint to the third line. Quickly touch it like the first two lines, and then return with a sprint back to the starting line. Repeat the sprints to the second line and the first line. Continue the routine until you reach your goal for the workout.
Jog in a large open circle or square area for one to two minutes, making a full lap then sprint up the middle line that cuts across the area every time you reach the mid-point. For an extra intense workout sprint both ways each time doubling the distance. This is another form of interval training that will boost the metabolism much more so than conventional jogging.
Sammy Cusimano is the founder of Genesys Training based out of New Orleans, LA and has been a professional trainer since 2001. His experience with training clients ranges from competitive athletes to senior citizens. Cusimano’s goal as a trainer is to help clients safely reach their fitness potential and become the best version of themselves for overall health and wellness.

Suspension training will push your limits

A gym that fits in a dufflebag- does this sound too good to be true? It is absolutely true! Welcome to Suspension Training.The equipment needed for Suspension Training is simply a suspension strap designed to adjust to any person’s height requirements and a secure place to wrap it or hook it.Suspension Training has been around for a very long time.  It is basically just utilizing ropes and straps to create resistance through the gravity of one’s own bodyweight.The difference between a pushup performed on the ground compared to a pushup performed on a suspension strap is that more muscles are engaged on the suspension strap in order to balance the body and maintain mobility throughout the movement of the exercise.

Also, suspension exercises require more core strength so the abdominal and lower back areas are toned more effectively than stable exercises performed on benches, machines, etc.

The most popular and well-known brand of Suspension Training is called “TRX” which stands for “Total Resistance eXercise”. It was popularized in 2005 when a former Navy SEAL developed and marketed a high quality suspension training strap that can be adjusted easily.

The military uses Suspension Training in much of its fitness training programs because of the overall effectiveness of the workouts along with the added convenience of being able to pack up and carry the strap in a small bag so easily.

Anyone involved in fitness can benefit from Suspension Training.  Senior citizens can gently perform exercises at their own pace while competitive athletes can push their limits in all kinds of creative ways with the same suspension equipment.

One aspect of Suspension Training that makes it so universally appealing is that in order to adjust the resistance during an exercise all you have to do is move your body forward or backward by taking small steps.

This also makes the training more open and convenient for advanced techniques such as dropsets.  You can perform a set of pushups standing at a high resistance, then as the muscles fatigue step forward to decrease the difficulty while continuing to stay in motion.

There are also numerous abdominal exercises that can be performed on Suspension Training straps which cannot be performed on other more common types of equipment.

Suspended Mountain Climbers are a good example of this.  Placing the instep of each foot in the stirrups of the straps while maintaining a pushup position, you must move the knees in and out towards the chest in an alternating motion.

Suspension Training is a great method of fitness for anyone going through the process of rebuilding strength and mobility in their body following a surgery after an injury.

There is no risk of lifting too much weight.  It is so much easier to regulate the resistance during the exercise because all that is needed is a slight change in body position.

Lifestyle factors play a major role in the consistency of workouts.  One of the biggest reasons people always give as to why they have not been active with fitness is because of time.

With Suspension Training you can set it up in your office, at home, or even on the road while out of town.  You can take it with you anytime you are travelling so it is much easier to stay on track with your workouts.

Not only is Suspension Training another option in the world of fitness equipment and formats, it is in many cases the better option.

Leg curls performed lying down with the ankles pulling the straps into the body while the core is elevated is one of the most effective and safest ways to work out the hamstrings.

If you want a new challenge to accelerate muscle growth and toning, then incorporate Suspension Training into your workouts.

Saturday 14 May 2016

The Power of Visualization

Fitness is all mental, plain and simple. Everything breaks down to focus, concentration, motivation, discipline and visualization. In order to stay interested in exercising, it is completely necessary to have the right mental attitude and the right awareness of techniques to stay safe as you pursue your fitness goals.As a personal trainer, one of the biggest challenges is helping a client to learn the proper technique of an exercise as simply as possible. The best way to convey the right message is through visualization. Helping to create a picture in a person’s mind of how their body should be positioned will facilitate their progress and understanding of the techniques.Here are some very effective visualization examples that help to perfect exercise form:

Squats- “Eyes to the sky”

Squats are one of the all-around best exercises for the body. They not only work out legs but also the entire core and even the upper torso muscles. It’s so important to perfect the right technique on the exercise though because it can be dangerous if the body is not aligned properly.The best way to ensure that the spine is not curved is to find a spot on either the ceiling or the top of a wall and focus on it through the upward and downward motion. It’s perfectly fine to stare straight ahead to check the balance of the body at the full standing position, but by using the “eyes to the sky” technique the back will be in the right position during the crucial parts of the movement.

Seated Rows- “Coffee cup on the shoulder”

Seated rows are a great exercise for building the “wings” of the back muscles (latissimus dorsi). It is very important not to curve the lower back while doing the exercise though. A great visualization technique to keep the back straight is to imagine there is a cup of coffee glued to the top of each shoulder.

If the shoulders hunch forward at any point during the exercise, the coffee will spill. If the shoulders stay in the correct position , then the coffee will remain in the cups and the hips will allow the motion of the exercise rather than the lower back.

Bicep curls- “Crack the walnut”

Bicep curls are one of the first weight exercises many people start with when beginning a fitness routine. They are a simple motion, but typically not done with enough emphasis on the contraction of the bicep muscle.

Imagine that there is a walnut wedged on the inside of each arm between the forearm and bicep. As the arm raises for the curl motion visualize cracking the walnut as tight as possible for a few seconds before lowering the arm again. Use very light weight because one of these repetitions is much more exhausting than a faster pace bicep curl motion with very little contraction of the muscle. The “crack the walnut” technique could be the missing link in your arm workout that will get the biceps growing like never before.

Upright Rows- “Lift the grocery bag”

Upright rows are essential for great shoulders. The main aspect of the exercise is that the elbows must be higher than the wrists in the high position. Sometimes the path of the motion is difficult to get the hang of because the forearms try to take over the exercise.

Visualize that the weight is a heavy bag of groceries that is being lifted out of a basket. Focus on the elbows always being higher than the wrists until the weight is at chest level. Upright rows will help develop strong posture and also tone the trapezius and rear deltoid muscles.

Visualization helps with perfecting exercise techniques as well as personal motivation. When it is easy to skip the gym due to cold weather or your alarm going off before the sun is even up, remember to see yourself the way you would like to be in two months, then six months and 12 months.

Tell yourself that you can only become the new version of yourself by staying disciplined and forcing yourself to step out of your comfort zone and seize the day. Visualize who you want to be and then do what you owe to yourself every day.

Using dynamic and static stretching to keep your body safe

Fitness is just like life: the more flexible you are, the more you will enjoy it.Stretching is important in every exercise regimen, but it’s often pushed to the side and ignored. It’s so easy after a hard workout with weights and cardio to just brush off stretching.After a workout, endorphins are pumping and you may not feel like you need to stretch. This is when you need to stretch the most: before you feel like you need it.There are two types of stretching that you can do by yourself. Each has a very specific purpose and is most effective when done at the right time during your workout.The first is dynamic stretching. This type is typically done as a warm-up before you start your workout. In dynamic stretching the key element is motion.Because the muscles are moved through their range of motion repeatedly, dynamic stretching helps to loosen the muscles while also improving balance, coordination, and body awareness.Dynamic stretching is similar to regular isotonic exercise in that you perform a range of motion of the muscles for a set of repetitions.Dynamic stretching is not be confused with ballistic stretching, which is notable for its “bouncing.” The movement in dynamic stretching is smooth and controlled, not bouncing.Ballistic stretching can over extend the range of flexibility a muscle is capable of and possibly lead to an injury. In contrast to ballistic stretching, dynamic stretching is safe when performed properly because control is an integral part of each movement.While dynamic stretching is ideal as a warm-up to get the blood flowing through the muscles and increasing flexibility, static stretching is a great cool-down for the end of a workout routine.

Static stretching is the most common type.  Holding a toe touch is an example of a static stretch.  The purpose of a static stretch is to elongate a muscle in a lengthened position for a period of time.

For muscles that have been repeatedly contracted during an intense weights workout, static stretching helps to pull the muscles into a lengthened position to avoid injury and overall discomfort.

Static stretches can also be performed in between sets of exercise to keep the muscles loose. When a muscle is flexible it can move more freely which leads to better performance during a workout.

Both dynamic and static stretches are extremely important in every workout routine. Stretching is what keeps the body in balance.

Yoga has been beneficial in helping fitness-minded individuals understand the importance of flexibility and breathing as a huge part of fitness and health.

Breathing during any stretch is what will help to relieve tension. By nature stretching is a rhythm of tension and rest. During any tension a solid rhythm of inhaling and exhaling will keep the body in the proper balance.

Do NOT hold your breath during a stretch.  Your body needs oxygen so be sure to stay focused on your breathing.

By warming up with an energetic dynamic stretching routine and cooling down with a relaxing static stretching routine, you will get the most out of your workouts, stay injury-free, and enjoy your time exercising more than ever.

Don’t forget to start and end every workout with stretching!

The benefits of the stability ball

Who doesn’t want a firm, toned abdominal region? Tightening up the mid-section is one of the most common motivators for many people as they embark on a new fitness routine.One hindrance to working the abdominal muscles is that crunches, leg raises and planks done on the floor can be uncomfortable at times. The more comfortable you are while exercising the more likely you are to stay committed.A great alternative and improvement to doing abdominal workouts on the floor is the stability ball (also known as the balance ball or Swiss ball). It is a very inexpensive fitness tool that can be used in a multitude of ways to add freshness and comfort to your workout.Not only does the stability ball make it easier to get into many abdominal exercise positions, it also engages more muscles of the core area of the body because more balance is required to remain stable on it than the floor or a bench.Another advantage to incorporating the stability ball into abdominal workouts is that the lower back is effectively supported. Crunches on the floor are very effective but the unsupported space between the back and the floor can make crunch workouts uncomfortable on the lumbar area of the spine.The stability ball contours to the shape of the entire body that is resting on it so every part of the body touching the ball is supported.While performing all abdominal exercises remember to always exhale regularly with every repetition to provide continuous airflow through the body. Holding your breath will cut your sets short and make all the exercises much more difficult.The stability ball can be just what you need to start on a great abdominal routine for the upcoming spring and summer. It’s comfortable, convenient for use at home, and relatively inexpensive.Here are five effective exercises performed on a stability ball:

1. Rollouts- Start by kneeling behind the ball placing your fists on top of it. Smoothly roll forward letting your elbows eventually be the last part of your arm touching the ball as it rolls towards your body. Perform three sets of 10-12 repetitions.
2. Planks- Begin by kneeling behind the ball with your forearms resting on top. Straighten the entire body maintaining a firm posture on the stability ball. Hold this position for three sets of twenty seconds each.
3. Knee Tucks- Kneel in front of the ball and place one leg at a time up on it until you are in a pushup position with your shins resting on the ball. Pull the knees into the tucked position as the ball rolls with the motion of the legs. Perform for three sets of ten repetitions.
4. Pikes- Start in the same position as knee tucks. Keep the legs perfectly straight and raise the tailbone up towards the ceiling making an upside down “V” with the body as the ball rolls with the motion of the legs. This is one of the all-time most effective abdominal exercises. It engages not only the upper abs, but also the lower abs as well while maintaining balance using the obliques and lower back muscles simultaneously.
5. Crunches- Begin by sitting on the ball as if it is a chair. Take one step out with each leg as the ball rolls backwards. Next, find a stable spot on your lower back where the shoulder blades still hang off of the ball during the exercise to get a full range of motion. Raise the upper body up in a crunching motion and then return to the starting position. Repeat three sets of ten repetitions.

Friday 13 May 2016

A New Year, A New You

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day not only because your body needs a balanced meal for energy and mental sharpness, but also because it strengthens the metabolism. Make sure to include at least one serving of protein (ex: egg whites), one serving of a complex carbohydrate (ex: oatmeal), and one serving of fruit (ex: apple).

Change up your exercise routine regularly

Your body is built to adapt after a while to your exercise routine. To avoid getting stuck at a plateau, change the exercises and workout program that you do on a regular basis to keep the body challenged and continuously developing.

Get more sleep

In today’s fast-paced world, sleep can be the first casualty of a hectic daily schedule. It is important to find a way to get enough sleep though because it is during a good night’s rest that the human body recovers and resets itself from the demands of a busy and challenging day. Try to take a short “power nap” for 15-20 minutes if you did not get a full 7-8 hours of sleep the night before.

Make fitness fun

You will be much more likely to stick with working out each day if you incorporate a lot of fun activities into your routine. Try cycling, boxing, yoga or any other physical activities that interest you to create variety and freshness to your routine. Step out of your comfort zone and take a new class, like TRX suspension training. It will keep you invigorated as you pursue your fitness goals.

Team up

There is strength in numbers. Find a friend or two and start a workout routine together for the New Year. Camaraderie is very powerful. Having positive, supportive people alongside you as you venture into a new fitness routine will help keep you accountable for doing your part to stay disciplined and motivated. When that early 6:00 a.m. alarm goes off in the morning, you won’t want to let your workout partner down by not showing up at the gym. You will get that extra push that you need to get out of bed and seize the day.

Try new training techniques

Instead of the traditional rest sets (ex: perform one set of 10 repetitions then rest for 60 seconds), use faster paced techniques such as supersets (alternating between two exercises continuously with no rest), drop sets (lowering the weight immediately after a set of an exercise and continuously doing one set after another), and circuit training (performing one set of 3 or more exercises consecutively in a rotation which is repeated after all exercises are completed).

Set short-term and long-term goals

Mental organization is so important on the road to results in fitness. You need to have a clear map of where you are going and how you are going to get there. Write down your short-term goals and long-term goals. Post them in a place where you will see them easily every day. This will help you stay focused and not be diverted from your routine.

For many people, the hardest part of getting healthy and in shape is knowing where to start. Follow these tips to begin a new active lifestyle that your future self will thank you for in days to come.

The new and improved version of yourself is waiting for you in 2016!