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Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Triathalon Racing

Triathalon racing is a complex sport that just looks easy. What you don’t know is that there was a lot of preparation for the average triathlete

The run. The swim. And, the biking.

These three aspects of triathalon racing will need to be carefully understood and developed.

You will need to first prepare your mind for the struggle that lies ahead.

You will then need to prepare your body and make it as nutritiously sound as can be.

Then, you will need to condition it to the elements that you will test it on. How do you do all of these things?

Training and coaching. Be prepared to spend a lot of energy and time if your goal is to be competitive, but even if your desire is just to take part in triathalons and stay healthy this still is true.

It starts at the beginning. You will need to shed those extra pounds and become a lean, muscled body.

Get the proper coaching. If not a physical trainer there are clubs to join and books to read that will assist your training.

You will need to learn how to eat the right foods to fuel your body when you need it the most.

Knowing when to eat the carbs and when to eat the protein is important, ie. Consuming the proper nutritution to help you train and race.

The good news is that triathalon racing is a sport in which you can constantly push yourself and training for, plus you end up in great shape and you generate some great friendships.

Postpartum Exercise

Before you start exercising your abdomen however, it is important that you check for a separation or gap in your stomach muscles. Some women develop a gap in their stomach muscles as a result of the expansion that occurs during pregnancy and labor. It can take anywhere from four to eight weeks for this gap to close.

If you attempt to perform strenuous abdominal exercises prior to this, you may permanently injure your abdomen. So be sure to check before you engage in any stomach exercises.

Here’s how:

– Life flat on your back.

– Bend your knees.

– Place the fingers of your left hand palm facing you above your belly button.

– Upon exhaling, lift your head and shoulders off the floor while sliding your right hand up your thigh toward your knee.

Feel your abdominal muscles tighten. As you do so, check for a gap between the edges of the muscle. If you have a gap that is more than two or three finger widths, you should perform only moderate exercise.

The gap will eventually narrow to one inch or so, and at this point you can typically safely perform crunches with no adverse effects. If you are having difficulty assessing whether or not your abdomen has a gap, ask your healthcare provider to point it out to you. This is actually a physical condition referred to as diastasis recti (but no need to get technical here!).

Below you’ll find some of the best exercises for restoring shape and flexibility to your stomach muscles:

Leg Slide

This exercise can generally be started during the first month post partum. You can do it while sitting on the floor watching your baby.

– Lie on your back with knees bent.

– Tighten your stomach muscles while pressing the small of your back against the floor, exhaling as you do so.

– Slide both your legs apart, so that they are moving away from your body. At the same time, keep your back flat on the floor.

– Return your legs to the start position when your back starts to arch.

– Repeat 5-10 times.

It is important that you pay close attention to your breathing during the leg slide, and tighten your stomach muscles before your slide your legs away from your body. Also pay attention to be sure the small of your back is pressed against the ground.

Pelvic Tilt

This is a great exercise for toning and strengthening the stomach, and can be started shortly after delivery.

– Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

– Inhale while allowing your abdomen to expand.

– Upon exhaling lift your tailbone toward your belly button, while keeping your hips on the floor.

– At the very top of the tilt squeeze and tighten your buttocks for five seconds, then slowly release.

– Repeat.

Standing Pelvic Tilts

A variation of the traditional pelvic tilt, you can accomplish this exercise anywhere even on the go!

– Stand with your knees bend and legs hip-width apart.

– Place your hands on your upper thighs while resting your upper body weight on your arms.

– Stick your buttocks out just enough to flatten your back.

– Inhale, and then as you exhale pull your pubic bone toward your navel, pointing the tailbone downward.

– Repeat to a flat back position.

Head Lifts

Consider this exercise a sort of ‘mini’ crunch that you can try if your abdomen is still healing from the trauma of birth.

– Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

– Be sure your back is pressed to the floor.

– Lift your head off the floor and bring your chin toward your chest.

– Hold this position and then return to start.

Seated Lat Rows

This exercise actually works to tone the upper arms and back. It is important that you establish balance in your exercise routine. By working out your back muscles in particular, you’ll provide extra support for your abdomen. For this exercise you’ll need either two light dumbbells or milk containers filled with water.

– Sit on the edge of a chair.

– Bend knees and keep feet flat on floor.

– Place dumbbells or milk cartons by your feet.

– Bend forward and bring your chest to your thighs, while keeping your back flat.

– Hold one milk carton or dumbbell in each hand, allowing arms to hang down with palms facing one another.

– Bend your elbows and bring them up toward your shoulders.

Straighten arms, repeat 5-10 times.

Push – Ups

Push ups can be done at any time, even during the first couple of weeks if you are feeling strong enough. Push ups are a great way to help strengthen your upper body, which will need to be strong to carry baby around.

Home Gyms

Setting goals that are realistic can be a huge motivating factor in sticking to your home gym workout routine. These goals keep your mind focused on the rewards you will see and feel.

Once you start your exercise workout program and experience good results, you will become even more dedicated to achieving your goals. When beginning an exercise program here are a few important things to consider:

1. Decide how many times a week you are willing to dedicate yourself to this exercise workout program. For any real benefits to occur, your home gym workout routine should be done at least 3 to 4 times a week. It is also important to set aside a couple of days each week for complete rest.

2. How much time do you plan on dedicating to your exercise program each exercise day? It’s best to start slow and gradually work up as you get more fit. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day on the days you exercise depending on your fitness level.

3. Remember to change your exercise and cardiovascular fitness program every few weeks. That’s because your body will adjust to the same routine and your workout won’t be as effective without the change. Variety is a key element for keeping your motivation going and the boredom at a minimum.

Exercise and good aerobic workouts can provide you with a lifetime of good health. According to a study in 2004, more Americans are now participating in fitness activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Make Fitness A Habit

One of the most excellent ways to make fitness a habit is to select activities that are enjoyable. Finding something that offers a lot of enjoyment can be a challenge, but just the once you have found something for which you are fanatical, it is easy to get attached to it. You do not necessitate sticking with the similar activity all the time. There is nothing incorrect with making swimming, dancing, walking, and other activities all part of your fitness schedule. Keeping things innovative is a great way to make fitness enjoyable.

If you work sincerely to get out there and exercise, you should reward your sincere and hard efforts. Occasionally looking and feeling great is reward enough, however, you deserve to credit your assurance to health and fitness. It is an achievement if you stick with an exercise arrangement, so make sure you admit your sincere work once in a while. Consider helping yourself to something fitness related plan on your commitment to fitness. Enrolling in a new-fangled exercise class or buying some innovative fitness equipment is a great way to remain encouraged.

Sometimes the finest way to stay encouraged and stick with a fitness plan is to share your enthusiasm with others. Find a buddy who also desires to add fitness to their lifestyle and find things you can carry out mutually. If you are both high-spirited individuals, exercise it to keep your feeling determined. Those who are not high-spirited can still encourage one another by setting shared ambitions and making arrangements to work out jointly.

A big blunder most people make when improving fitness is to execute the whole lot at once. This is a blunder for the reason that you burn out on the novel things you are doing. Some people make a decision to revamp their lives and start on eating differently, working out, and trying to develop into an all-around healthier person all straight away. You identify yourself best; however, make sure you are not taking on too much all immediately. Small changes over time frequently last longer than comprehensive changes in a short period of time.

Lower Back Extension

If you sit on a chair all day, you may be experiencing tight or sore back muscles. To eliminate these nagging minor pains, perform this exercise 2-3 times per week consisting of 2 sets of 15 repetitions. This is an exercise also recommended by chiropractors and doctors. I’ve also seen variations of this exercise done in Pilates and Yoga. If you do constantly have back pains, it is advisable that you consult with your doctor before attempting this exercise.

Method of Performance

Lie down on a mat or carpet with your stomach to the floor, keep your arms and hands flat at your sides and legs extended like in a standing position, but lying down. Slowly raise yourself up from your torso as far as you can go but do not over-extend. Just to the point where you feel comfortable and you are receiving the maximum benefit. Remember to tighten your buttocks when lifting yourself from the ground and concentrate on working the lower back. Now slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Don’t forget to breathe. Do about 2 sets slowly consisting of 12-15 reps, 2 to 3 times per week.

Variations

This exercise can also be done on vertical benches or holding onto extra free weights. The exercise done on a vertical bench is much more difficult. Personally, I do not feel that it is necessary to perform this exercise on a vertical bench since doing it on the floor is just as effective and safer. Using a vertical bench may also put undue strain on your back.

Do Planks Daily

1. Mental Clarity and Focus

Yes! You will become mentally stronger as you add planks to your daily routine. It’s hard to hold a plank and think about a lot of other things. The pain from holding your body off the ground takes 100 percent of your mental attention. This allows you to clear your head of unwanted thoughts, stress from work, what to cook for dinner, and the list goes on. Even if you held a plank for 1 min every day, that’s 352 minutes of mental therapy a year.

2. Lengthen your Muscles

Since most people find themselves sitting for prolong periods of time due to work or lifestyle, the plank is a great exercise to lengthen your muscles from sitting. Tight hip flexors, rounded shoulders, and low back problems are all linked to sitting too much. Holding a plank will put your body in a position that extends the hips, promotes shoulder stability, and it can produce a stronger lower back. These reasons are more than enough to add planks to your life daily.

3. Location, Location, Location

While the plank can be done by anyone, it can also be done anywhere. There are no limitations and this allows you to be free. In the office, at the park, out in nature, at the gym, in your garage, or wherever you choose. I recall doing a plank on the Roberto Clemente bridge in Pittsburgh. By the way, it landed me a commercial. Take your plank wherever you go!

Better Calf Training

Half Reps Are An Excellent Idea. If you want to really up the ante of your calf training program, consider adding a few half reps into the mix. Half reps, where you move only through the top half of the range of motion, or if you are brave, the lower half, places enormous strain on your calf muscle because there is no point of relaxation in this rep range.

Usually, the best way to employ this technique is to perform ten full reps of your calf exercise and then move into ten reps or so of the half reps. Then, if you are not thoroughly exhausted, you can do another full ten reps to finish the muscles off.

Full Range Of Motion Is A Must. Next, make sure you are moving through the full range of motion: this means you are going beyond parallel. Many people do standing calf raises off the floor. While this is good to a degree, it will be far better if you let your feet drop below parallel: this gives you a much more significant stretch at the bottom of the exercise, which then translates to superior strength progression.

Try doing those calf raises off a step and see the difference that makes.

Take Balance Out Of The Exercise. You might think doing single leg calf raises while trying to balance is a great way to get more from this exercise. And, if your goal is stability or core strength, then it very well may be. But, if your goal is to build stronger calves, avoid doing single leg unsupported work.

The problem with single leg unsupported work is more of your energy is going into just balancing, which may mean you do not have the strength capability to lift the weight you want. Furthermore, if you are placing quite a load on your back as you do this, the chances of rolling your ankle and severely injuring yourself are also higher.

It is okay to do single leg work, but do it supported instead.

Do Seated And Standing Work. Finally, to hit your calves from all angles, consider doing seated and standing work. Each type of exercise is going to work the muscles from different angles and hit the soleus and gastroc muscle differently. Therefore, both should be in your plan.

If you apply these calf training tips, there is no question you will be seeing superior results and noticing this muscle take on a great shape in no time.

Overcome Workout Plateaus

New exercisers often see quick fitness results such as weight loss and increased muscle strength while engaging in the same workout day after day. However, after several weeks following their fitness routines and they often become frustrated as the gains begin to dwindle. Eventually dieters scales become frozen on the same number or weight lifters are stuck at the same weight size. They hit a plateau.

A plateau typically is the direct consequence of a fitness rut – when an exerciser performs the same workout over and over. The human body is very efficient and quickly adapts to work. Once the body practices the same activity repeatedly, it grows more proficient at performing those moves. So that means it requires less energy and therefore also burns less calories.

Instead of celebrating their body’s improved fitness capabilities, exercisers often abandon their workouts. And who can blame them? After all, they no longer are seeing the results they desire and become increasingly bored with their workouts. Plus, hitting a plateau not only can halt fitness gains, but it can even reverse previous successes. But, with just a few simple steps exercisers can easily break-through that brick wall and continue to reap all the rewards of regular physical activity.

Dodging the dreaded plateau is actually very easy. Variety is the key ingredient to continual fitness success. To avoid hitting a workout plateau, follow these recommendations.

To begin with, every workout routine should be changed about every 4-6 weeks. The modification doesn’t have to be dramatic. A totally new exercise is a possible option, but alteration of a current exercise can be just as effective.

A simple way to determine how to transform your current workout is using the F.I.T.T principle. F.I.T.T. stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. This strategy can be adopted for both cardio and resistance training.

Frequency – increase or decrease how often you workout

Intensity – increase or decrease the difficulty or level at which you workout.

Time – increase or decrease how long your workout sessions last.

Type – change the type of exercises you perform.

Frequency and Time are limited by an individual’s schedule as well as appropriate rest time to ensure maximum efficiency and safety. But Intensity and Type are really only limited by creativity and planning.

Cardio exercise intensity can easily be varied through speed, incline, distance, height, etc. And of course the types of exercises are practically endless, so exercisers should never have the excuse that they’ve exhausted their exercise options. Good cardio examples include: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, and more. In addition, combining several of these exercises into one workout session can be very effective. Try 10 minutes each of 3-4 unique exercises.

Stay Properly Hydrated

Simply put, 60-70% of your body is nothing but WATER – and this includes muscles, tendons, digestive system, everything.

You are constantly losing water through dehydration, sweating (especially if you train hard) and other bodily functions – and you need to make sure you replace the water lost on a regular basis, else your body just won’t function at an optimal level, regardless of how well you treat it otherwise.

Lack of water can affect you in many different ways. When it comes to training, a dehydrated person will never be able to achieve the same results as he would with proper hydration.

Symptoms of dehydration include sluggishness, not being able to recover well enough from your workouts, persistent headaches and much more. The exact symptoms will vary from individual to individual, but the root cause remains the same.

Despite the barrage of sports drinks, “post workout” recovery drinks etc out there, pure water is still and by far is the very best choice to stay well hydrated.

I recommend (as most medical experts do) drinking AT LEAST 8 glasses of pure water a day. This is simple enough to do, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do it. And if your training hard, or are otherwise exposed to hot, humid (or other taxing) conditions, then you may need more – maybe 10 glasses of water a day as a minimum.

Other than water, green tea is something I highly recommend. When I was in China, this was an essential part of my “diet” – I NEVER started a workout without drinking green tea before.

In fact, there were many days I did not get a decent meal throughout the workday (wasn’t that easily accomplished apparently in the factory I worked at); and was tired and cranky when I got home – NOT the ideal way to start a tough workout immediately afterwards.

But, a glass or two of green tea later, and I was raring to go – and got great results as well. Green tea has numerous health benefits which I will talk about in a later post, but for now, let’s just say it’s an instant and immensely healthy “pick me up” – so if your not drinking some green tea during YOUR daily routine, start doing so now.

Other forms of herbal tea are also great – jasmine tea, white tea, oolong, and black tea – but my personal favorite remains green tea.

Just make sure your getting high quality green tea, preferably from China or someplace where the culture mandates drinking it on a regular basis. And always use tea leaves, as opposed to tea bags – tea bags contain crushed tea, which is bad for you.

And avoid colas, coffee, sodas, and any “soft drinks” with sugar in them. These are not good for you, dehydrate you, and have no positive benefits whatsoever – so if you must have then, have them in moderation, and make sure to drink enough water to compensate for the dehydration these will incur.

Flattening Your Stomach

The following four areas of diet and exercise will help you gain the toned, flat stomach that you are craving.

1. Fat Intake

How much fat is in your diet? The American Food Pyramid says that a healthy diet is one that “Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.

Following the food pyramid will help you find the fats you need in good foods like nuts and plant oils as opposed to potato chips and ice cream. You should be taking in less than 30% of your caloric intake from fat so check your labels when you’re purchasing packaged products. Many products now have the trans fats listed as well, so you can see which percentage of fat belongs to which group; saturated, non-saturated, trans, etc.

2. Carbohydrate Intake

Maybe your friends were on lo-carb diets and were amazed at the weight they lost. Maybe you tried one too? Carbohydrates are amazing in that each molecule attracts four water molecules to it and they hang out together inside your muscles. When you start decreasing the amount of carbohydrates you take in, you start to see weight loss in the form of fat loss. Oops, I mean WATER loss. No more carbs means no more four molecules of water hanging on, means lower numbers on the scale. Carbohydrate intake is essential for brain activity as well as muscle function. Our bodies feed off of glucose and glycogen which is supplied directly by carbohydrates. Eating whole wheat and whole grain is the way to go- stay away from white products; rice, pasta, bread, etc. Brown is best. Carbohydrate intake should be no more than 65% of your diet.

3. Cardiovascular Exercise

Running, cycling, swimming, aerobics; they are all using oxygen and so the prime energy source comes from muscle glycogen and fatty acids. The furnace is on and it’s burning fat. You may have heard that cardio is good for burning fat, and that is true. Cardio exercise should be done for a minimum of 20 minutes and hopefully for longer and should be done at least three times per week, hopefully more. According to the American Council of Sport Medicine, “If weight loss is your major goal, participate in your aerobic activity at least 30 minutes, for five days each week.”

You can’t melt fat off of one area specifically, but it will come off over the whole body in time. We all lose fat from different places first. Just remember that cardio is a complement to the diet and the floor work that will also do.

4. Floor Work

Abdominal exercises were once believed to be something we could do everyday. We now know that the abdominals are like any other muscle and they need time to recover and rest.

Floor work is an essential component in getting a toned tummy. There are four main abdominal muscles that we can work: the rectus abdominus, which runs from the sternum to the pubic bone, the transverse abdominus which runs horizontal all around the torso connecting near the spine, and there are the obliques- internal and external which run alongside our ribs in opposite directions.

Exercises:

Hip lifts:

Lye on your back with your legs straight up in the air. Keep your back pressing into the floor and think about tightening a belt around your waist. Slowly pull your belly button to the floor and as you do so, feel your hips lifting gently off the floor as your legs are lifted. Do not lift with the legs, but instead with the abdominals. Repeat 10-15 times.

The Plank:

Facing the floor, get on your hands and knees, keeping your shoulders over your hands. Straighten out your body and keep your toes on the floor. You should be straight like a board with your abs pulling in tight. Breathe in and out naturally. Hold for up to one minute. Repeat 4-5 times.

The Bicycle:

Lye on your back with you knees bent. Slowly pull your upper body off the floor and support your head with your hands. Activate your abs by pulling your belly button to the floor and release any pelvic tilt. Take one shoulder and turn your torso to face your opposite knee. Go to the other side. Think of riding a bicycle as you turn slowly from side to side. Repeat for 20 repetitions.