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The fit lifestyle with Cassey Ho

Tired of starting a diet every summer of every other Monday? We chat to blogger Cassey Ho about how she stays fit and healthy all year round. Take note.

Aim for balance with food: I allow myself a YOLO (you only live once) meal once or twice a week. But the rest of the time I eat clean, enjoying lots of plant foods, fresh produce, grass-fed meats, wholegrains and unsweetened beverages. I try to eat carbs, protein and healthy fats at every meal to keep me full and energised. The one thing I minimise is dairy – it makes my skin break out. I also avoid foods high in sodium, saturated or unhealthy fats, chemicals and preservatives, additives and colours.

Lose the rules: Going on diets or strict meal plans just doesn’t work for me. I always crave the foods I’m missing out on, and once that ‘diet’ is over, I want to binge on the foods I was restricting. Over time, I’ve learned to eat in a balanced way – that way I no longer have crazy cravings for junk food that cause me to binge and feel guilty.

Avoid extremes: When I was prepping for my bikini competition several years ago, I was put on this crazy diet of only eating about 1000-to-1200 calories (around 4, 200kJ) a day while I was working out for four hours a day! As a result I felt tired, irritable, angry and frustrated. My mind was foggy and I couldn’t concentrate. I was labelling food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and felt like I was trapped in food jail. For eight to 10 weeks I endured this crazy plan. I did the bikini competition with my new, lean body, and then I decided to go back to ‘normal-healthy’. But when I tried to introduce a variety of foods back into my diet, like brown rice, quinoa and different types of protein, my body did not like that at all. It acted like a sponge, soaking everything up. 

For the next three years, I gradually gained weight. And there was nothing I could do to stop it. During this time, I was still working out really hard for about one hour a day, but my body just didn’t respond. It rebelled. It was seriously frustrating because in my mind, I was doing everything right. Diet and exercise should equal weight loss or at least weight maintenance. But because of the damage and stress that I put my body under during that bikini prep, my hormones became unbalanced and I am still getting back to normal.

Aim for more sleep and less stress: I learned a lot from my bikini comp experience. Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases when you significantly lower your kilojoules, over-exercise and/or don’t have enough sleep. And cortisol plays a role in increasing abdominal fat, more specifically, lower-belly fat. This stress also decreases leptin, the hormone that controls your appetite. So you feel extra hungry all the time and it’s likely that you may crave those carbs and high-fat foods. That’s exactly what happened to me. Getting enough sleep, eating sufficient kilojoules and taking time to de-stress and relax are really important for your waistline and wellbeing.

Treat yourself: When you deprive yourself of cake or ice-cream, you start to think about them all the time and that leads to bingeing. Instead, I allow myself treats – in moderation. And because I know I can have them from time to time, I don’t crave them or eat more of them than I should.

Focus on health, not weight: I rarely step on the scales anymore because I know that my weight does not tell me how strong or fast I am. When I’m at my healthiest, I can tell by how I feel. When I am consistent with my diet and workouts, I am happy, motivated and energised. When I start to feel sluggish and drained, I know that my eating habits may be off and my workouts aren’t as routine – so I address that.

Use the seasons: What I love about the changing seasons is that they allow me to prepare myself for fresh beginnings four times a year. So with each season I see a chance to refocus and find a new rhythm and routine to optimise my health goals. I also try to rediscover delicious seasonal flavours to keep my clean-eating habits on track.

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The fit lifestyle with Cassey Ho

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The best reasons to work out

Toned legs and a flat stomach aren’t the only benefits of working out. According to a research review in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, regular exercise can help cut your risk of more than 20 illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.

‘Exercise is essential for losing and maintaining weight loss,’ says sports scientist Nick Morgan, ‘but the other benefits are just as important.’ Here’s what exercise does to keep you healthy, happy and alive!

Brain

Staying active cuts your risk of dementia and age-related memory loss by increasing the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that makes memories. A 40,000-person Norwegian study found that those who engage in regular activity of any intensity are less likely to develop symptoms of depression.

Breasts

Brisk walking for as little as one and a quarter hours every week can help reduce oestrogen levels in the body, which may lower your breast cancer risk by 18 per cent!

Bones

Bone-thinning osteoporosis now affects around one in three women in the UK, according to the latest research. Taking part in a 45-minute Step aerobics class, three times a week, will help boost bone density, especially in your spine, legs and heels. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also reports that heavy resistance training may increase bone mass, as it places strain on the bones of the joint you are working.

Appetite

Intense exercise can reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite, while raising levels of the peptide YY, which lowers appetite. A study in the journal Appetite also found that a brisk 15-minute walk decreased chocolate cravings by 12 per cent.

Heart

Not only will exercise add about four years to your life, it can also lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number that measures your blood pressure while the heart is beating) by as much as five to 10mmHg (millimetres of mercury). This is as good as some blood pressure medications. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.

Pancreas

Lifting weights and upping your lean muscle mass could lower your insulin resistance, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. For every 10 per cent increase in muscle mass, the risk of pre-diabetes should drop by 12 per cent.

Gut

Three to five weekly workouts of 20-60 minutes of vigorous activity is an effective treatment for IBS, according to a Swedish study. Demanding workouts improve bowel movements, and relieve gas and constipation.

Sex drive

Around 20 minutes of cardio exercise gets your body aroused faster and more intensely for a bit of rough and tumble. Not only that, lifting weights can also cause testosterone surges, and women with more testosterone tend to be more aroused and enjoy sex more.

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The best reasons to work out

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Time Saver Workout: Mini Spartan Madness

WORKOUT BY: Luis Buron, Spartan SGX Coach

 In this workout we’re simulating a Reebok Spartan Race. The mix of running in place and stepups imitate running and climbing uneven terrain and the moves mimic Spartan Race obstacles (as noted in parentheses). The workout finishes with Spartan signature penalty, burpees, and we go for 2 min. because an unpredictable challenge that you weren’t planning for is what we’re all about.
 1 minute: Run in Place
  • 30 seconds: Dead Hang (Rope Climb)
  • 1 minute: Stepup
  • 30 seconds: Box Jump (Wall Climb)
  • 1 minute: Run in place
  • 30 seconds: High Pushup Hold (Z Wall)
  • 1 minute: Stepup
  • 30 second: Body Row (Inverted Wall)
  • 1 minute: Run in place
  • 30 seconds: Hollow Hold (Slip Wall)
  • 1 minute: Stepup
  • 30 seconds: KB Deadlift (Bucket Carry)
  • 1 minute: Run in place
  • 30 seconds: Jumping Pullup (Hercules Hoist)
  • 1 minute: Stepup
  • 30 seconds: Kettlebell Swing (Atlas Carry)
  • 1 minute: Run in place
  • 30 seconds: Active Hang (Multi Rig)
  • 1 minute: Stepup
  • 30 seconds: Lunge (Sandbag Carry)
  • 1 minute: Run in place
  • 30 seconds: Bear Crawl (Barb Wire Crawl)
  • 1 minute: Stepup
  • 30 seconds: Broad Jump (Fire Jump)
  • 2 minutes: Burpee

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Time Saver Workout: Mini Spartan Maddness

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Fitness fanatics warned of health risks

A Hamilton-based fitness expert has warned exercise fanatics may be risking their health, if not their lives, from their obsessions with working out.

Waikato University clinical psychologist Jo Thakker’s words of caution come just over a year after 17-year-old Joshua Tanuvasa died while working out at the Les Mills Gym in Hamilton.

While his death last year on September 24 is still before the coroner, Thakker said she was worried others might also come to his fate by taking their passion too far.

There are 31 gyms listed in the Yellow Pages in Hamilton – and this number continues to grow as people turn to exercise as a way to slim down or bulk up.

Thakker said some were taking exercise too far and displaying disorder-like behaviours. She had seen several cases where young men were using supplements and then exercising excessively, some to the point of hospitalisation.

“They’re willing to risk their lives to look a certain way.”

While excessive exercise was not a recognised diagnostic category, it was an aspect of a range of eating disorders, Thakker said.

Ali Alkadhi, 26, has just competed in the National Association of Body Builders New Zealand nationals.

His rigorous training regime had been “taxing” on both his body and his mind, he said. “Each week, the calories would be reduced and cardio would be added, and as you lose body fat, your mind starts to play tricks on you,” he said.

“I lost my desire for everything. All I could think of was food.”

Alkadhi said he believed all bodybuilders had some form of obsessive compulsive disorder, as they scrutinised every inch of their body to achieve perfection.

But the mental health factor is not the only problem facing keen gym-goers.

Over-exercising can lead to injury, fatigue and your results may even go backwards. Personal trainer and nutritionist Jake Campus said that in the 10 years he had been involved in the fitness industry, he had seen many cases of people pushing themselves too hard.

It was a case of excitement about training and striving too hard to reach their goals that saw most of them getting addicted, he said.

Campus believed about 20% of gym-goers would fall into the overtraining category. This became a problem when people’s bodies were not accustomed to their workouts, which led to overuse injuries and fatigue.

First Place Fitness personal trainer Michael Briggs also saw overtraining frequently.

Briggs said he believed almost everyone who trained went though a period where they pushed themselves too hard, and part of his job was reining them back in.

“You never tell yourself that you are overtraining; someone has to tell you.

“I think the health risks of not exercising are far greater than the risks of exercising. Exercise should be part of a balanced lifestyle,” he said.

While injury was the most common danger of training too much, there were more serious things such as the potentially fatal condition rhabdomyolysis. This is a serious renal condition which is characterised by muscle cell breakdown.

As a consequence myoglobin (an oxygen transport protein) leaks into the urine, which causes problems with the kidneys.

If you or someone you know needs help with an eating disorder, contact Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand on 09 522 2679.

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Fitness fanatics warned of health risks

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Mindfulness exercises

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There are tonnes of ways to get pumped using exercise, a HIIT class with booming music that shakes the floor, sprinting your morning run because your so pumped because your earphones are so loud they’re practically bursting your ear drums, or signing up for another spin class knowing full well that the instructor will be screaming at you the whole time. But, it’s important to make sure you’re getting a healthy balance of exercise and rest or relaxation to achieve good health – that’s why we love methods that combine the two.

If you thought ‘inner energy’ was all about sitting on a yoga mat in the lotus position while chanting ‘om’, then think again. Those familiar with the Chinese martial art tai chi may have come across qigong before. Sometimes known by its full name of taiji qigong, it consists of 18 exercises that are used to promote the body’s natural healing energy to reduce stress levels and increase your quality of life.

How does it work?

Focusing on postures and breathing, qigong is aimed at improving physical and mental health. ‘The exercises can help to promote the body’s natural healing energy, reduce stress and create a feeling of wellbeing,’ explains Ronnie Robinson the director of Taiji Europa, (taiji-europa.eu).
If you know a little about acupuncture, you may be familiar with the Chinese theory of internal energy pathways, or meridians, through which ‘qi’ or ‘chi’ – energy – flows through. ‘Each meridian connects to different internal organs and ensures a healthy energy flow to the connected organ,’ Ronnie explains. ‘When the chi flow is regular the body will remain healthy. However, if there are blockages in this energy flow, problems can result.’
The theory goes that ailments occur because there is disruption to the energy flow in the meridian associated with that particular area. The disruption can be due to stress, poor eating habits, or even being too hot or too cold, creating a build-up which energy can’t freely flow through. Qigong helps to clear these blockages so energy can flow through the meridians with as little disruption as possible.

How to do it

The movements are simple, slow and gentle, yet effective in restoring energy. The body is kept in alignment throughout, and breathing is soft and natural. You may not get your heart racing in qigong, but you’ll certainly benefit physically. ‘Think about the natural movements of animals,’ says Ronnie, ‘like how birds take off and fly. They don’t carry the stresses and strains in their bodies that we humans do. Try to emulate the smooth, easy, natural movements that you see in the rest of nature.’
Want to give qigong a go? Perform each move 8-10 times one after another to create a flowing routine. It’s ideal performed in the morning for a gentle start to the day, or a good option if you need to unwind after work.

Qigong decoded

Beihui: A pressure point at the central part of the top of the head
Dantian: A pressure point just in front of your tummy
Laogong: A pressure point on the centre of the palm of the hd
Zusanli: A pressure point a few inches below the outside of the knee

Top tips for qigong

Listen to your breath Adopt a soft, natural breathing during the movements.

Be aware of your body Although aches and pains are sometimes normal, don’t overdo it. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

‘Sink’ your weight and ‘lighten’ your upper body Establish a connection with the ground by imagining your weight dropping deep into the earth while your upper body floats upwards. In reality, your upper body may be heavy with tension while you find it hard to keep your feet firmly on the ground.
Maintain alignment Keep a natural arch in your back and neutral spine, the way we’ve evolved.
Focus and intent Connect with all the movements you’re making and the directions you’re going.
Be natural Think of the movements you see taking place in nature and try to follow suit.

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Mindfulness exercises

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7 Exercises That You Need To Fix Right Now

We are creatures of habit. We each default to our favorite exercises, those bread and butter lifts from programs we love for as long as they keep bringing results. Familiarity just feels right. It wraps you in a secure blanket of warmth, growth, and gains. Unfortunately, that familiarity begets false confidence in your exercise technique, which could cost you even further gains.

“But, Rock Lock, I’ve improved 10 pounds over the last year!” you cry. That’s sweet. But imagine the results you could net with precise exercise form and practice. Unless you or a training buddy have an acute awareness of form, it’s possible that you may have been missing key form points. Remember that poor form calls out compensatory mechanisms while still building strength, albeit inefficiently.

Don’t fret, young Padawan. Here’s how to fix these seven key movements that you previously thought you owned.

Exercise 1

Squats have helped Mr. Olympias, World’s Strongest Men, and other athletes launch from so-so athletes to epic gladiators. There’s no reason not to reap the benefits of the almighty squat, right? But after weeks of nearly crushing yourself under the bar, your results can still end up lackluster.

Team Cellucor‘s Jen Jewell explains why.

“I see a lot of ‘newbies’ just lower their butt down really quick with their knees wobbling all over the place—over the toes or collapsing inward. I’ve even seen this with bodyweight squats! So, when I instruct new clients or am giving pointers, I tell a client to push her butt back as though she’s going to sit down in a chair. This usually helps her get into better position and keep from hobbling forward so much.

“Additionally, I encourage clients to ‘push the booty way back—as if you’re trying to knock someone out with that thing—lower, go back up, and repeat.’ Even though that might be an exaggeration of breaking at the hip, it helps clients picture it and will typically do the trick!

“I typically see people barely start to lower, call it a rep, and bounce back up. That’s not low enough! That’s not even a proper squat! To benefit from squats, you have go to at least parallel, which is the position at which your hip joint and knee joint are aligned parallel to the ground. This ensures quad burn, but also fires up the hamstrings and glutes as well.”

Squat

Exercise 2

I cringe every time I see someone fling heavy dumbbells as high as they can using their back, and then allow momentum to not only carry the weight up but send it back down with zero control. This makes back and rotator cuff injuries almost inevitable if someone continues on this self-destructive path. Thankfully, that won’t be you!

First of all, when you hold the dumbbells, they should rest at your sides instead of in front of you. This way you will be less inclined to harness a back-initiated swing to begin the exercise. Visualize generating force from only your delts as you lift the weights out to your sides with a slight bend in the elbow. Locking out the elbows places strain on the tendons in that area and can make them susceptible to injury.

To avoid unnecessary shoulder strain, stop the movement when your arms become parallel to the floor. At that point, turn the weights so your pinkies point toward the ceiling and pause for one second before slowly lowering the weight to the starting position in a controlled manner. Use a challenging weight you can control throughout the exercise to ensure you don’t cheat.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Exercise 3

The triceps rope pushdown should primarily activate your triceps and core, but this exercise is blundered and haunted by our old enemy, the lower back-generated swing monster. Time and time again, I watch people use momentum to press down heavy weights. This only hurts your elbows and yields no benefit for those muscles in the back of your arms. Again, slow, controlled movement reigns supreme here.

Take the rope and step away from the cable stack. The extra distance increases tension on the triceps more than standing next to the pulley. Keep your shoulders squared and back, chest out, and glue your elbows to your sides. By keeping your elbows tucked in, you emphasize triceps contraction rather than elbow destruction.

As you press the weight down, focusing on working the triceps muscles, spread the ends of the rope apart, and squeeze the hell out of your triceps. That squeeze and tension stimulates growth in the target area.

Afterward, let the weight slowly come back up. Right before you feel as if your elbows are about to be yanked out of place, stop, and then do another rep. This constant tension will make your triceps scream bloody murder by the end of your set.

Exercise 4

A king of the exercise world, deadlifts could well be the most basic movement—in theory. You pick up the weight, hold it, and put it down. What could go wrong? Everything. There are oh-so many instances where a deadlift can go wrong and make lifters vulnerable to injury.

“Deadlifts are often a mess all the way through,” Jewell says. “I often see people with their shoulders rolled forward and hunched over as they lower the weight. Then they lose control over their body as a whole. Having your shoulders back, lats tight, core activated, and chest up will help eliminate this hunchback stature that I see all too often in the gym!

“I see another problem with neck alignment. At the beginning of the pull, you might be tempted to look down at the weight. This puts your neck out of neutral spinal alignment, which makes you more prone to hunching your shoulders and keeps you from engaging your core. Keep your neck aligned with the rest of your spine at the start and finish of your pull.”

Exercise 5

“Although dumbbell curls are a great exercise, problems rear their ugly heads when they are performed improperly.”

You want perfectly rounded biceps like IFBB Men’s Physique Pro Craig Capurso? He’s going to let you in on the “secret” to winning the arms race.

“Although dumbbell curls are a great exercise, problems rear their ugly heads when they are performed improperly,” Capurso says. “Many people will either pick up a light weight that can be lifted a million times or a weight that’s simply too heavy. Either of these prevents people from ever performing a worthy rep. Many people start the exercise with a shoulder swing followed by a fading elbow. This movement pattern doesn’t actually involve the biceps. It basically makes the exercise one big cheat.

“The goal is to achieve a well-controlled movement that isn’t aided by the aforementioned body swing. You should feel a deep burning sensation in your biceps and a noticeable pump or swell. You should also be able to perform the recommended reps in your program. After four sets of this type of training, you’ll feel fatigued, making it difficult to even bend your arms. That’s good because you are doing it correctly and have picked proper weights.”

To mix things up and really focus on your mind-muscle connection, try hammer curls. “This is when you stand in a neutral position, with your hands at your sides and the palms facing in toward your body,” Craig says. “Notice where your elbow rests in reference to your body and actively think about maintaining this position throughout the exercise. Really think about contracting the muscle groups involved as you bring up the weight. If you feel the heat in your shoulder, elbow, or any other muscle group that shouldn’t be firing, restart the process or perhaps lower the weight.”

Exercise 6

The bench press is an excellent indicator of upper body strength. When performed correctly, it is a money exercise that builds strength, muscle size, and athletic function. Haphazard execution of the bench press can increase the risk of shoulder or pec injuries, but that can usually be rectified by going with lower weight or just doing the damn exercise the right way!

In preparing to pump out your first rep, make sure your shoulder blades are squeezed together. This will protect your shoulders and bring your chest higher so the bar doesn’t travel as far. Next, plant your feet firmly on the floor and get yourself in a stable position. Otherwise you increase the chance of getting hurt. Keep everything tight, including your shoulders and butt.

As you perform the lift, lower the bar to your nipple line and keep it there for a one-second pause. Think about pushing your chest away from the bar rather than pushing the bar away from your chest. Remember to drive your feet into the floor for force production, keeping your butt on the bench, and arching your back to transfer force to the bar. Once you press the weight up, focus on squeezing your pecs as if you were trying to crush a walnut sitting between them.

Bench Press

Exercise 7

Crunches are a perennial favorite and also one of the most poorly performed exercises in the gym. Even if you think you’re a crunch king, you might be doing them wrong and actually jeopardizing your neck health.

The first step to being a crunch master: Don’t cross your arms on your chest or clasp your hands together behind your head. Instead, lightly place your hands on the temples of your noggin and focus on keeping your elbows in line with your shoulders. Don’t bend your neck; the idea isn’t to bang your head against your crotch, but to dig your lower back into the floor and lift your shoulders about 3-4 inches off the floor.

Squeeze your abdominals and forcefully let out a big breath. Slowly drop yourself back to the floor and repeat. Now do 10 reps and let me know the difference this makes. Don’t worry, you can catch your breath—I can wait.

Do you see other poorly performed exercises at your own gym? Sound off in the comments below! Let us know if you have any favorite tips or techniques. Share with the community to help improve everyone’s form—and results!

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7 Exercises That You Need To Fix Right Now

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Plank up + down

The goal is to maintain a solid plank position throughout the whole exercise and to not let your hips sway.

Starting on your elbows and toes, or for Level 1, on your knees, engage your core before you start. Keep your hips as still as possible, push up with one hand then the other until you are propped up in a push-up position.

Lower back down to your elbows one arm at a time. Halfway through, change your leading arm so you strengthen the other shoulder as you press up to your hands.

 Want abs of STEEL? Planks are one of the best exercises for a flat stomach. Fact.

Plank with leg raise - advanced plank exercises - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

Plank with leg raise

Sets: (2 x 1 minute hold)

How to

Begin on exercise mat, down on knees and forearms.

Gently straighten the knees until fully up on toes and forearms

Ensure the lower back is straight and core is engaged supporting the lower back region.

Lift one leg off the ground. Ensure core is engaged to provide support and avoid straining the lower back.

Hold for one to two minutes and repeat with other leg raised.

Exercise from Lila Hall.

Plank punches - Advanced plank exercises - IMAGES - Women's Health & Fitness

Plank punches

How to

1. Begin in high plank position. Your shoulders, arms and wrists should be in line with one another and make sure your back is flat. Focus on engaging your core and glutes.

2. Raise your left arm and punch forward, extending your arm straight out as you punch. Motion is slow and controlled; core is to remain engaged throughout the entire exercise, as this will also assist in maintaining your balance (it will minimise tipping as you extend your arms for each punch).

3. Lower your left arm to the starting position, arms and wrists in line with one another again. Raise your right arm and punch forward as you did with your left.

4. Repeat, alternating between right- and left-arm punches. Make sure core is tight throughout the entire exercise. Alternate arms for 30 to 60 seconds. Rest and repeat for two more sets.

BONUS: Upper body blast for chest, shoulders and arms!

SETS/REPS: 3 x 30 to 60 seconds

Photo credit: Jamie Watling Photography

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Plank up down

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Sleep

The Secrets Of Sleep

 

It’s easy to overlook your sleep when you start on a health kick. Your focus naturally drifts towards planning out your diet and exercise as the two key aspects of your fitness routine, and clearly they are both very important.

However, all the work you do in your waking hours can be undermined if you don’t pay any attention to your sleep, as keeping your mind and body well rested is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

Anyone who’s ever had a poor night’s sleep knows the physical, mental and emotional toll it can have on a person. Offices all over the world are full of people drifting through the day unable to concentrate on their work due to tossing and turning all night, but the effects of bad sleep can be far more drastic than feeling a little grouchy the next day.

Regular poor sleep raises the risk of suffering severe medical conditions including obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and shortens overall life expectancy.

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The Secrets Of Sleep

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Base Body Babes full-body barbell workout

Get stronger, fitter and feel more confident in the gym with this exclusive full-body workout by the Base Body Babes.”The barbell is our favourite piece of training equipment, as it can be used for such a great range of exercises. We like to say that ‘Load is King’ – the exercise that allows you to lift the heaviest loads will ultimately give you the best results, and the barbell allows you to do just that.

Although there is no magical number, we love the eight rep range as it allows you to build strength while still keeping the heart rate elevated for optimal calorie burn,” says the ladies, Felicia Oreb and Diana Johnson.Here’s what you need to do

A1 Barbell Back Squat

A2 Barbell Military Press

A3 Barbell Romanian Deadlift

A4 Barbell Bent-Over Row

A5 Barbell Split Squat

A6 Barbell Glute Bridges Perform each exercise

A1–A6 back to back, with no rest in between exercises

Complete 8 repetitions of each exercise Rest for 4 minutes after A6 Repeat 4–6 times NOTE: Choose weights that you believe you can complete all repetitions and sets with without failing, yet still keep the weight challenging enough to complete a great workout. Technique is most important when lifting heavy, so don’t compromise your form.

Ensure you are completing all repetitions and sets with perfect technique before increasing the weight.Let’s do this!Words/Workout: Felicia Oreb and Diana JohnsonPhotography: Vanessa Natoli / @vanesSanatoliphotography

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Base Body Babes full-body barbell workout
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Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Barbara-Mae Hits The Stage

QHow did your fitness
journey begin?

I was not always a heavy person. Growing up in school, I had been a star athlete competing in all manners of sports: Basketball, volleyball, track and field, and competitive ladies fastpitch, to name a few. When I had reached my early twenties, I became a stay-at-home mom and a certified fitness instructor and trainer. This allowed me to combine my duties to my family as well as still be able to motivate and train clients. Even at my heaviest weight, I was still exercising and training others as manager of a community fitness center.

In 2000, my struggles really took off when my dad was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. He declined rapidly and passed away six months after diagnosis. This event took a huge toll on my mom. Shortly after, my mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer). Unfortunately, the cancer eventually progressed too much, and she passed in January 2009.

After my experience with caring for others and noticing the illnesses that pervaded my family’s history—cancer, hypertension, heart failure, and kidney failure—I decided I needed to truly monitor my own health. Later that April, I decided I needed to lose the weight and get back into the shape I longed to be in again.

“Although I did not place in that November competition, I was very proud of my accomplishment and how far I had come.”

How did you accomplish
your goals?

I am a very goal-oriented person. The story of how I stumbled across figure competitions is quite amusing! One morning over coffee, I confessed to my husband, “I need a new challenge and I need to work toward a new goal. Things are getting stale!” After that, we both left for work. Later that morning I emailed him and told him, “I am going to enter a figure competition.” He replied with: “You don’t even wear a bikini.”

It’s true, I don’t. Yet here I am with one competition under my belt and working toward at least two more this year. I hired a trainer and a nutrition coach (who happen to be husband and wife duo) named Tracy and Jeff, respectively. I worked with Tracy to develop a 4-day weight program and a 6-day per week cardio program. I worked with Jeff to develop a nutrition plan that allowed me to drop another 27 pounds before the competition last November.

I was focused and determined. When I make up my mind to do something, I go all-out 100 percent! Although I did not place in that November competition, I was very proud of my accomplishment and how far I had come from that person who weighed in at almost 250 pounds. Now I am striving to do better in the 2014 shows and hoping to place in at least one of them.

Cool Fact

Barbara is an independent country recording music artist with three albums released to date.

What workout regimen delivered the best results?

Negative Reps: One or two spotters help you lift a weight up to 10-50% heavier than you would normally lift to finish point of movement. Then you slowly lower weight on your own.

Varies typically done in a circuit format 10-15 reps each.

Amateurs Of The Week

Bodybuilding.com honors amateurs across all categories for their hard work, dedication, and great physiques. Learn how our featured amateurs built their bodies and hit their goals!

What nutrition plan fueled your body?

What supplement schedule gave you the greatest gains?

“For anyone out there saying they can’t, you need to change that to ‘I can.'”

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

As I mentioned, I was already very active. The most recent turning point arose from my desire to improve my health and better myself. Changing my diet was most difficult, but not in the way you would think. It was mainly about learning to eat more. Typically, I used to eat too little for the amount of activity I had been doing. I was very lucky to have someone create my diet and training regimens. I needed to learn my body for what it was.

I mean I am a 52-year-old grandmother, who had lost almost 130 pounds altogether and totally transformed my body.

What or who
motivated you?

Backstage at my first competition, I started to doubt myself and became intimidated by all the other amazing physiques. My coach, Tracy, pointed out, “Everyone here has a story and each story is unique. That includes you and your own story.” You know what, she was right! Tosca Reno was a real inspiration to me when she chose to go back out on the stage after age 50!

What motivated me to live healthier was that both of my parents have lost their battle to cancer. When I look at them and my other family members who have passed, I realized I had to get my act together. I was overweight—albeit “healthy” so far—I wanted to get to an ideal body weight and be healthy. I wanted to be here for my children and my grandchildren.

Where did you go for inspiration?

My inspiration came from a variety of sources. I did a lot of research on the web looking for women my age and what they have accomplished. I read articles on Bodybuilding.com for inspiration and support. I also have excellent coaches, who push me every step of the way.

What are your future fitness plans?

My future plans are to compete this year in two figure and fitness competitions, hoping to place in at least one of them. I may do another show in November. I am also competing for the first time in a FemSport competition this year. Beyond competing, I’m passionate about motivating people and want to do some speaking engagements for women to show them that anything can be done no matter what the age.

What is the most important fitness tip?

For anyone out there saying they can’t, you need to change that to “I can.”

The cliché is true: Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Not everyone can do exactly how I did it, but each person can develop the necessary determination and drive to succeed in anything. Yes, there are going to be ups and downs, but that’s life. We can just work to keep it from spinning out of control. Don’t think that age is going to slow you down. I have been around a while, and I’ll tell you what: I am no “spring chicken.”

Who is your favorite bodybuilder/fitness athlete?

I would have to say that Tosca is my favorite. Erin Stern and Jamie Eason are also strong women to look up to.

How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals?

Bodybuilding.com has always been a personal favorite of mine. The articles on lifting and dieting are great. There’s nothing like reading the transformations for a little push in the right direction. Thank you, Bodybuilding.com, for giving me the opportunity to be featured as one of those transformations. Maybe I can be the little push that helps another person reach their goals.

Barbara’s Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. “Dance Again” by Jennifer Lopez
  2. “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele
  3. “What Doesn’t Kill you Makes You Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson
  4. “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood
  5. “Believe” by Cher
Competition History

My very first competition was November 13th of last year (NPAA in Calgary). I did not place, but I had no expectations than to enjoy the experience and meet some wonderful people. I am competing this year on May 31st at the INBF (Calgary) and the IDFA (Calgary) and have greater expectations of placing this year.

 

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Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Dean Is In Pursuit of Perfection

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Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Jodi Shows No Signs Of Slowing Down

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About The Author

Our Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week has the extraordinary qualities to endure the pain and discipline of bodybuilding. Enter here and win!

Excerpt from:

Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Barbara-Mae Hits The Stage

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, NutritionComments Off on Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Barbara-Mae Hits The Stage

Paige Hathaway

18 hours 51 minutes ago

What's the best way to burn fat you ask?

Mixing in HIIT training or plyo metrics to your lifting routine is the absolute best way (besides getting your diet in order) to burn fat and build muscle! Instead of resting in between sets.. add this move or moves similar! This will keep your heart rate up and core engaged! #hellosummerbody

This move: INCH WORM PUSH-UP BURPEES / 8-10 reps

Example of mixing this into your circuit:
Leg extension 12-15 reps
Leg press (quad focused feet positioning) 12-15 reps (normally you would rest here) but instead..
NO REST - INCH WORM PUSH-UP BURPEES / 8-10 reps
No rest and repeat x3-4
(your rest is basically you on the leg extension)
Music 🎶 American Teen #khalid

Paige Hathaway

1 day 3 hours ago

Midday/Preworkout snack Big Slice Apples
More importantly why I like this on the go pouch, is when I am moving around from shoot to shoot, meeting to meeting and gym session to gym session, #bigslice is the perfect snack to keep me going, when I need a quick boost. 😋🍎
............... Check them out #GNC #Sprouts #Wholefoods

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