Putting the Fun in Fitness

August 22, 2008

One thing I always tell my class members is: “If staying fit was easy, everyone would be fit. You wouldn’t see any fat people anywhere”. And it’s true. You could say the same thing about being rich. If it was easy to get rich, you’d be tripping over billionaires every time you walked down the street. There’d be no poor. But it’s not so easy, is it? Both things require diligent, hard work. But just because the work is hard, that doesn’t mean you can’t also be having some fun along the way.
When it comes to fitness, fun, in my opinion, should definitely be a part of the mix. Because if it’s not enjoyable in some way, you’re not going to look forward to doing it. It becomes a task, a chore, something that you have to get through. If that begins to be the way you view your workouts, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to staying in shape. Then you will eventually want to quit.

So here are a few good ways to get and keep the “F factor”, Fun, alive in your fitness regimen.
First of all…

– Choose activities that you already like.

Think about the games you used to play as a kid or the sports you participated in in school. If you can find adult leagues and organizations that offer those or similar activities, join up. You can also just add elements of those particular activities into your workouts. If dancing is something you enjoy, try adding dance based classes and workouts to your weekly lineup. Whatever your favorite physical activity is, you can be sure that there is someplace you can go and join in. Find it and get involved!

– Create your own perfect exercise environment

The right setting, the right music and sometimes also the right people can make a difference. Like the outdoors? Start doing your workouts at a park so you can enjoy the fresh air. Prefer a calm, quiet place where you can focus without any distractions? Find the least used space in your gym or park and set up camp right there. Inspired by being around other exercisers? Then the gym or any active place where you can be around such folks is where you need to go.

– Roll with the beats

Music is emotionally motivating and is a perfect, easy way of adding in the F factor. Choose music that you really like and use it every time you do your routines. You’ll find yourself more pumped up and enthusiastic, and whatever you’re doing, you’ll probably go at it longer and with more energy. Also, you will look forward to workouts, knowing that you’ll get to listen to your favorite “pump me up” tunes whenever that time rolls around.

– Feed off the positive energy that can be found in a group

Working out alone kind of dull? Then join a group of like minded people to work out with. Not only will it be more fun, but you’ll have camaraderie, more energy to feed off of, and also extra support from those around you. That will really keep you motivated and looking forward to the next time. Each workout will be like one big party! The more, the merrier!

– Let the gym be your stage

Are you a natural show off? Well, if that’s the case, you can turn work out time into your own little show time. Don your hottest exercise threads, get in there, and flex to impress with the best of them! You know you’re going to have a captive audience, so step up front and center and show ’em how it’s done! Knowing that you’re being checked out, you thrive on rising to the occasion and giving a high caliber performance. Whether you’re the fierce diva in the aerobics class, or top stud in the weight room, take your rightful place, show ’em what you’re working with, and let your talent shine! No shy wall flower are you! Make that work for you, and pump it for everything it’s worth! Your fans await!

And finally…

– Tell your trainer that he/she is boring

Well, not quite like that! What I mean is don’t be afraid to tell your trainer that you’re getting bored with the workouts. Those of you working with trainers know that sometimes confronting your trainer with any suggestions can be scary. We sometimes put our personal trainers on such a pedestal that we are intimidated or reluctant to question or suggest anything other than what the trainer is already doing with us. But remember, while your trainer is certainly a knowledgeable and motivating force, he or she doesn’t know you as well as you know yourself when it comes to your likes and dislikes. Also, sometimes trainers can get locked into a certain mindset and particular way of training that focuses only on achieving the result. You can have the results and a little more fun here and there if it’s done right. If you want a more fun workout, don’t be afraid to let your trainer know. Challenge her/him to make your workouts both fierce AND fun! Remember, it’s YOUR dime, and if you don’t let your trainer know that you want something different in your workouts, you’ll never get it.

The bottom line is, working out does not have to be this torturous, monotonous chore or trial that you have to drag yourself to, suffer through, and hope to soon be over with. With the right elements in place, you can turn your workout into some good, quality “me” time; a bright, shiny spot in your day that you look forward to and can’t wait to be a part of. Add in the F factor, and soon you’ll find yourself speeding through your work and knocking every obstacle that pops up out of your way so you can get to that happy time where it’s all about you, you body and some serious fun and sweat! Now get to it!

: article by Yvonne Bridges [ Yvonne Bridges is a top fitness instructor residing and teaching in New York City. In the fitness business for over 12 years, she is an accomplished boxer, kick boxer, writer and musician, among other things. You can get more weight loss and fitness tips by Yvonne Bridges at http://thefitnessdiva.blogspot.com ]

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In this article I’m going to touch on 5 common sense, easy tips to help you burn fat fast, which in turn will help you lose weight. But I’ve got to warn you, these tips and strategies alone are not a magic pill that will cut pounds off your body. To do that you need a holistic approach of healthy eating and exercise.These are just a few of the strategies I’ve found to help live a healthier lifestyle and to keep my weight under control.

1 – Too many eggs can spoil the party. Try not to eat too many eggs; egg yolks are very high in fat, approximately 10% (10 grams of fat in 100), of which 27% is saturated fat, which clearly has implications for people at risk from high cholesterol or people who may be susceptible to high cholesterol. Try not to eat too many, less than 4 a week if possible.

2 – Break bad habits! If you have a habit of scoffing chocolates after your meal or as a snack, stop. Make them a luxury and an occasional treat, not a regular routine. Chocolates shouldn’t really be part of your diet at all, your body DOESN’T need chocolate, so don’t over do it, if you do have some. Make it a luxury you look forward to, maybe once a week to keep yourself sane and to reward yourself for your hard work during the rest of the week.

3 – Don’t just eat foods from one particular food group. To maintain a healthy diet you need to eat foods from every food group, every day. Fad diets where you just eat one food group are just that, fads, they don’t work long term because it’s not a healthy way to live. By avoiding or cutting out certain food groups, you are making yourself more susceptible to deficiencies and potential illness. Vary your diet on a day to day basis to keep yourself sane and stop you from getting bored of healthy eating – with the right recipes, healthy eating is fun!

4 – Don’t drink alcohol. This is a tough one for many people. But the simple fact of the matter is that alcohol is not good for you and has a very high calorie content. Not only is alcohol very fattening, it also lowers you inhibitions, and the diet that you’ve stuck to so well, will disappear into thin air after a few drinks, and the kebab or pizza shop/takeaway will start calling you.

5 – Get up and eat. Make sure that you eat within at least an hour of getting out of bed. You need to food to break the fast, to kick your metabolism back up a gear and charge up your body for a hard days work. Don’t wait around getting hungry, you need that food in your system, breakfast is far and away the most important meal of the day, miss it and you miss out. It doesn’t need to be big, but it needs to be healthy.

Right there are 5 simple tips you can put to use in your life immediately, to help get you on to the fast track to a leaner, healthier body. As I like to say, it’s not rocket science, you just the right direction, plenty of determination and commitment, and you’ll be hitting those goals quicker than you could imagine. Just remember to incorporate both healthy eating and exercise into your life if you want to reap the rewards and burn fat fast.

: article by Ian A. Jones [ New Free Fat Burning Course – How To Burn Fat Fast ( http://howtoburnfat.co.uk/ ) , 2 Pounds In 7 Days…And How To Repeat The Process For The Rest Of Your Life. To get access now, for free visit: http://howtoburnfat.co.uk %5D

You’re not greedy. You’re not asking for a six pack. You’d settle for a slightly flatter look and a bit more tone. But no matter how many crunches you do, it seems impossible to firm and define those elusive abdominal muscles.Given our obsession with abs, you’d think we’d have figured it out by now. But many of us are still frustrated by a lack of results. What are we doing wrong? Should we be doing different exercises?

To clear the air, here is an abdominal program touted as the best six abdominal busters by bodybuilders, athletes and many week-end athletes.

Do this workout 3 times a week, with a day off between sessions. Begin all workouts with moves 1 and 2, then choose 2 of the remaining 4 moves. Vary the moves throughout the week to keep your abdominals challenged.

Whatever your fitness level, begin with 1 set of each move, resting 45 – 60 seconds after each set. For best results, pay special attention to your form so that you fatigue your target muscles by the end of each workout. When this is no longer challenging, add a second set of each move, or don’t rest between exercises.

Roll Up

Lie face up on the floor with your legs extended, feet together. Extend arms above your chest, palms facing forward, fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Drop shoulder blades down away from your ears. Inhale, tucking your chin to look at your navel as you begin to roll your upper body up, keeping your spine rounded. Exhale, pulling your navel towards your spine as you continue rolling up, slowly raising your upper body to a full seated position. Slowly roll back down to starting position, keeping your arms raised, and repeat for all reps. Begin with 4 roll ups, gradually building to 6. Targets rectus abdominis.

Forearm Plank

Begin on your knees and forearms, elbows aligned with shoulders, fingers interlaced. Draw shoulder blades down and contract abs to stabilize your torso. Extend your right leg behind you, toes turned under, weight on ball of foot, keeping hips square and pelvis stable. Extend left leg, feet together, so you’re supported on forearms and balls of feet. Hold for 20 seconds; relax. Do 3 reps. Begin with a 20 second hold; gradually build to 30 seconds, then 1 minute. Targets obliques.

Bridge with Leg Extension

Lie face up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor; hip width apart. Relax arms by your sides, palm facing down. Contract abdominals, pulling your naval towards your spine. Inhale; then exhale as you lift your tailbone. Lift your back until only your shoulder blades touch the floor, your body forming a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for 30 seconds. Maintaining the bridge position, extend your left leg in front of you at hip height. Hold. Return foot to floor; then repeat with your right leg, keeping hips elevated throughout. Continue alternating legs for all reps without letting your hips or torso drop. Do 8 alternating leg extensions (4, with each leg); gradually build to 16 (8 with each leg). Targets rectus abdominis; obliques and erector spinae (lower back muscles).

Ball Oblique Twist

Sit on stability ball, knees bent, feet on floor. Walk your feet out and lie back; put right hand on ball, left hand behind head. Use glutes to tilt pelvis up. Maintain this position throughout. Contract abs (pull naval towards spine) as you roll your torso up, bringing ribs towards hips; then rotate left elbow towards right knee. Keeping hips square and lifted, slowly lower. Do reps on the left side, then right. Begin with 8 -12 reps per side; gradually build to 16. Targets rectus abdominis and obliques.

Bent Knee Crunch

Lie face up on the floor; knees bent and in line with hips, calves parallel to floor; feet together. Rest unclasped fingertips behind head, elbows pointing out to the sides. Contract abs, pulling your naval in towards your spine. Maintain leg position as you use abs to pull ribs in towards hips, lifting head, neck, then shoulder blades off the floor. Begin with 8 – 12 reps, gradually build to 16 – 20 reps. Targets rectus abdominis and obliques.

Reverse Curl

Lie face up, knees bent, heels close to your buttocks and fingertips behind head. Without changing knee angle, contract abs to curl your tailbone a few centimeters off the floor, knees rolling towards chest. Avoid moving thighs to lift higher; keep heels towards buttocks. Slowly lower to floor; repeat for all reps. Begin with 8 – 12 reps; gradually build to 16 – 20 reps. Targets rectus abdominis and obliques.

: article by Sandra Prior

Copyright (c) 2008 Ed ScowAbs, abs, abs. Everybody wants a nice set of six pack abs. Or if you’re not after the six-pack abs, you at least want a nice firm and toned stomach.

Something that looks good with your shirt off or in a bikini.

But how do you get it?

Do you need to follow some weird diet? Do you need to take a magic fat burning supplement? Do you need to buy the latest abs gadget off a television infomercial?

No, no, no. You don’t need to follow a weird diet, you don’t need to buy a fat burning supplement (that doesn’t work anyway) and you especially don’t need to buy the latest abs gadget off an infomercial.

Nutritionally speaking, you just need to make some minor tweaks and changes in order to get your body to start burning more of your stubborn stomach fat.

Start by eating more fiber. Stick with lots of fruits and vegetables and keep the grains to a minimum.

You also need to make sure you get enough protein and fat. Yes I said fat. Your body needs a certain amount of fat in order to function properly and there have been studies that show that people who consume more foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and other cold water fish, and nuts, like almonds, lose more stomach fat than those who didn’t.

So stock up on your Omega-3 rich foods and get more protein.

When it comes to exercise, you don’t need to live in the gym. Nor do you need to do nothing but cardio. Quite the opposite, actually. You need to stick to more resistance training and interval training if you really want to lose stomach fat and get a firm, toned stomach or six-pack abs.

Your workouts should consist of lots of movements that work your entire body, and shouldn’t be split into “parts”. Meaning stick with exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, mountain climbers, dumbbell swings, etc. and stay away from movements that don’t work much muscle and don’t burn too many calories like bicep curls and triceps kickbacks or those silly leg machines that move like the old “Thigh Master” home workout gadgets.

Your workouts should also take less than 30 minutes. By sticking to that timeframe, you’ll ensure you keep the intensity level up, meaning you’ll burn a lot of fat in as short a period as possible.

When it comes to abs specific workouts, you don’t need to spend lots and lots of time devoted to crunches, sit-ups, leg lifts, etc.

In fact, you can get an awesome abs workout done from the comfort of your own home in as little as 4 minutes.

The next time you’re working out, try this circuit after your regular workout.

1A) Mt. Climbers – 30 seconds
1B) Squat Jump with Knee Tuck – 10 jumps
1C) DB Swing – 10 reps

Rest 20-30 seconds after the DB Swings and perform the circuit as many times as possible in 4 minutes.

Here’s a quick run-through of the exercises:

Mt. Climbers – Lie on the floor in the top push-up position so only your hands and feet are on the floor. Brace your abs and begin the exercise by flexing one knee and bringing that knee toward your chest, return to the starting position and bring the opposite knee toward your chest. Repeat in a swift tempo, alternating back and forth like you’re running, (or climbing a mountain, surprise surprise) for 30 seconds.

Squat Jump with Knee Tuck – Stand up straight and tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Progress into a normal bodyweight squat and as you reach the bottom, explosively stand back up so you jump off the floor as high as you can. As you jump into the air, bring your knees toward your chest by flexing your abs. Land lightly on your toes, steady yourself and repeat.

DB Swing – Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width holding a dumbbell with both hands. Squat down while letting the dumbbell go between your legs, but not behind you. Explosively flex your glutes and stand up as you swing the dumbbell straight out in front of you until it’s at chest height. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Perform that mini-circuit a few times a week after your regular workout and I guarantee you’ll notice our stomach shrinking and a nice set of abs appearing within a matter of weeks.

: article by Ed Scow

There is some debate in the fitness industry about how to work the lower abdominal muscles. The truth is that the 6 pack (rectus abdominus) is one muscle that has distinct sections. And although you cannot only contract the lower portion of the rectus abdominus, you can emphasize it a little more than the upper abs if you follow the 7 Lower Abdominal Workout tips below.Now before we get to the 7 tips, I have to tell you that working your lower abs will not magically get rid of stomach fat. This is referred to as spot reduction and spot reduction is the biggest myth in fitness. You should work your lower abs to stabilize your pelvis, support good posture, improve function and performance, and exercise your spine in different directions.

Here are 7 lower ab workout tips.

#1 Move you pelvis. The rectus abdominus attaches to the ribs and also to the pelvis. When the ribs move like in a crunch the upper abs are emphasized. However, when the pelvis moves like in a reverse crunch or a posterior pelvic tilt, the lower abs are emphasized. Reverse crunches are a great place to start when you want to workout the lower abdominal muscles.

#2 Move your legs. When you move your legs during ab exercises, your lower abdominal muscles must work really hard to stabilize the pelvis. For example, doing leg raises emphasizes the lower abs a little more than doing crunches. Leg raises can be done from many different positions, such as lying on the floor, hanging from a bar, or using a captain’s chair.

#3 Add resistance when you get stronger. If you get so strong that reverse crunches or leg raises become easy, you should add resistance to the exercises to breakthrough your strength plateaus. Ankle weights are a great way to add resistance to your legs to increase the challenge on your lower abdominal muscles.

#4 Use an incline. Using an incline is another great way to emphasize and increase the challenge in the lower abdominal area. If you do reverse crunches or leg raises on an incline board, your lower ab muscles work much harder against gravity.

#5 Use something contoured. This is a hidden secret to get more muscle work in your lower abs. Since your lower back has a slight natural curve, using a contoured surface like a Bosu Ball or a Pilates Barrel allows you to get more range of motion and more muscle work. Since the floor is flat it may decrease your range of motion during certain exercises, but with a contoured surface you get more motion.

#6 Stretch your lower back and hips. Inflexibility in the hips and back will decrease your range of motion and put additional pressure on your lower back. Because most people have sedentary jobs, most people have stiff lower back. If you have a stiff lower back, you will have difficulty emphasize your entire abdominal region, especially the lower abs. You should warm up and stretch your hips and lower back before doing lower ab exercises.

#7 Workout your abs 2-3 times a week. No need to workout your lower abdominal muscles every day. 2-3 times a week is all you need. You do not have to slave away doing a thousand repetitions. 2-6 total sets of 12-20 repetitions are all you really need. Now, if you want to lose weight, you should take a comprehensive approach to fitness and also perform aerobic exercise, weight training, and eat a healthy diet.

: article by Charles A. Inniss, Jr. DPT

Exercise has become a way of life for many people, and at the same time others are looking to get started with an exercise program. It is important for everyone, regardless of the stage their at, to include the best exercises for overall health and fitness in their routines.Time has proven that there are some exercises that are generally better than others, and there are a few that are considered the best. We all owe it to ourselves, family, and friends to take care of the only body we have been given. Instead of feeling defeated, you can get stated today using the best exercises to make a permanent and positive change in your life.

Walking

Walking is free, it can be done anywhere, and it gets results. Long understood as one of the best exercises around, walking is effective for every one. Walking works in many ways by burning calories, boosting the body’s metabolism, and toning/strengthening muscles. Considered one of the best aerobic exercises, you should not ignore this exercise.

Pushups

Whether doing pushups with a straight leg of bended knee, numerous muscles are used to include the triceps, pectoral muscles, abdominal muscles, back, and legs. Lying face down on the floor with the palms flat down about shoulder width apart, the entire body is lowered down and raised. To make it easier, bend the knees as well as raise and lower the body. This is one of the best exercises because it also increases stamina.

Sit Ups

Another of the best exercises you can do is the old-fashioned sit up. For this, the arm, back, and abdominal muscles are used. This starts by lying down on your back keeping the knees bent and feet placed flat on the floor. Crossing your arms across the chest, you would then raise the body up so the chest touches the knees, followed by lowering the body back down to the starting position.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is listed as one of the best exercises for cardiovascular health this is free and easy to do. With this exercise, choose the right length of rope for your height. Then, literally start jumping, starting with two minutes and working your way up to 30 minutes. This exercise utilizes the calf and thigh muscles.

Squats

The last of our best exercises is squats, which can be done by beginner or advanced workout enthusiasts. Standing upright, you want to bend the knees while keeping the arms stretched out parallel to the floor. Slowly, bend the knees until the thighs become parallel to the floor. For the more advanced person, a weight bar or actual weights can be used. In this case, the weights are placed across the shoulders and behind the neck.

: article by Brooks Donner

One of the main causes of failure when it comes to gaining weight and building muscle mass is lack of strength. A key basic principle when it comes to weight training and bodybuilding that should never be forgotten is the concept of progressive overload. In other words, you have to constantly be lifting heavy weights to build muscle.A basic law of nature that applies in bodybuilding just as much as anything else in life is that growth can only occur when there is resistance. In weight training, if you stop adding weight to an exercise your weight and muscle mass gains will soon come to a halt, sooner if you are an advanced trainer.

So if you are wondering what is the best way to build muscle fast and you haven’t seen any measurable results lately, you may want to take a second look at your poundage’s. If this is the problem, then the quickest way to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be (bigger and stronger) is to engage in a workout that focuses strictly on boosting your strength levels way up.

The best way to do this is to pick 3 to 5 of the most basic and demanding compound exercises for both your upper and lower body and focus on just increasing your strength on these exercises. This is because when you increase your strength on basic compound exercises, you also increase your strength on the dozens of other exercises with those particular muscles.

For example, if you increase your bench press strength for a while, you will also be increasing the amount of weight you can use for other chest and tricep exercises such as fly’s, incline and decline presses, tricep push-downs, and so on.

The five best compound exercises on the planet are squats, deadlifts (both regular and stiff-legged), the bench press, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses, preferably all with the barbell. Focusing on adding weight on these few exercises two to three days a week will add tremendous strength and power to your frame, setting you up after for muscle mass building routines. In fact, this is a great workout program for hardgainers who are having a hard time gaining weight and building muscle.

One key point is that your strength program should be used as a means to build momentum for your workouts for muscle mass after. So after you have built your strength and power for a couple of months on these few exercises the worst thing you can do is take a long break. Just take 7 to 10 days off and get right into your workouts for muscle mass.

Your new and improved strength will be a huge leverage tool for many other exercises enabling you to stimulate more muscle fibers and ultimately build a mass of muscle like never before.

: article by Derek Manuel