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Skinny To Strong: Karina Baymiller’s Complete Fitness Journey

Vital Stats

In the fitness community, I’m most often recognized because of my big weight-loss transformation. I went from 185 pounds to a little less than 130 pounds. It took me a few years to get to my lowest weight, but I followed the motto that slow and steady wins the race and I never gave up. I know it was this attitude that helped me place second the 2013 Bodybuilding.com BodySpace Spokesmodel Competition.

Sometimes, I look back and can’t believe how far I’ve come. I don’t even remember the girl who had never stepped foot in a gym and gorged on pizza, chips, and ramen all day.

But I’ve decided my transformation work is not yet done—in fact, it’s only just begun! I’m on a second transformation journey, and this time I’m putting my happiness and my health first. I’m transforming my body from skinny to strong, and my mind from unhealthy to happy.

Before

After

Why I Decided to Change … Again

Believe it or not, when I weighed 185 pounds, I was one confident girl. I loved my body and never thought of myself as fat. I was who I was and that was that. I wasn’t defined by my body’s appearance. But that self-confidence changed the moment I decided I should lose weight. It seemed as though the more weight I lost, the more self-conscious about my appearance I became. I reached every weight-related goal I had set for myself, and yet I was never good enough.

At 125 pounds and with barely enough body fat to function, I competed for the first (and last) time with anxiety that I was “too fat” to be on stage. I had become so progressively wrapped up in numbers and body fat percentages over the few short years of dieting, that I was mentally destroyed.

I also noticed that my training started to suffer. I first began working out to be healthy and because I loved the way it made me feel, but I had lost sight of those reasons. I trained to burn calories and stay as thin as possible. If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run. I started to hate outdoor runs because I was forcing myself to do them. I allowed my training to control me. I stopped doing the things I enjoyed in exchange for doing whatever it took to stay thin.

Along with a severely distorted body image and training that was running me into the ground, my relationship with food started to become extremely disordered. Gone were the days of using food for fuel. If my food wasn’t weighed out to the gram and if I didn’t prepare it myself, I refused to eat it. There were days that I had full-blown anxiety attacks because I couldn’t log something in MyFitnessPal.

“If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run.”

I began taking hours of my day to try to configure my food so I would hit my macros just perfectly. If I didn’t, another anxiety attack would ensue. To say I was obsessed is an understatement. I restricted myself with calories, types of foods, and situations. God forbid I would eat a cookie!

I felt like I was drowning, like I was just barely holding my head above water. Everything I had loved so much in the beginning—the healthy eating, the workouts, my body—now had complete control of my life. They were no longer positives. They had become negatives, weighing me down with each passing day. I knew I had to change. It was only a matter of time before I broke down completely.

That’s when I decided I wanted to find strength.

Letting Go

The first thing I had to change was my mindset. I had to let go of the unhealthy habits that were slowly suffocating me. My negative body image was, and still is to this day, the hardest thing to let go of. I found it much easier to allow for self-hate than to find self-love. Sadly, I think this is true for many people. But I had to let go.

I had to let go of having visible abs 24/7. I had to let go of desperately trying to maintain 12 percent body fat. I had to let go of the number on the scale. Most importantly, I had to let go of the idea that I would only be happy if I was lean. I wanted to be happy when I looked in the mirror, and I knew it wouldn’t come from a certain size. It had to come from letting go and loving myself no matter what.

“I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made.”

I still remind myself of where I started. That girl sitting on her ass eating ramen all day is 180 degrees from where I am today, and she always will be. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made. Whether I stay the size that I am now or gain or lose a few pounds, I love who I am. My worth is no longer based on what the scale says in the morning.

I don’t have “fat days” or “fluffy days” anymore, because quite frankly, I don’t care. I refuse to let something like three pounds of water destroy my day. I know now that I’m healthier than I ever was at 130 pounds. My hormones aren’t out of whack, I’m not moody or depressed, I don’t have random headaches, I’m not constantly fatigued, and I don’t feel weak.

Unfortunately, there’s a widespread belief that equates health to six-pack abs. This might be true for some people, but for the majority it’s not. I can lift more, sprint faster, and am healthier now than I ever was. There is beauty in strength. I don’t just say it, I know it.

Letting Go

I wanted my fire for exercise to burn like it did when I first started lifting, so I let go of the forced daily runs and extra HIIT sessions to “make up” for calories. I began to utilize conditioning work 1-2 times per week instead. I added back my short outdoor runs, but much more infrequently, and never because I felt pressure to burn a certain number of calories. I threw my heart monitor away.

I also discovered powerlifting. When I finally dropped the light-weight, high-rep stuff I was doing to stay thin, I started following Wendler’s 5-3-1 program and quickly fell in love. My strength skyrocketed, and when I decided I wanted to take my training to the next level, I signed with The Strength Guys. Now, the spark is back when I’m in the gym. I feel the fire again.

Squat

Strength Training Program

I follow an intense, block-periodization powerlifting program created by my coach, Jon Stewart. It’s high volume, tailored to correct my weaknesses, and uses movements and load intensities built for progression. I’m on six-week cycles of five-day splits. I have one day of light conditioning and one day of complete rest. Mobility is a vital component of my current program because my training pushes my body to its limits.

Each day and week I use different sets, reps, and weight with a specific rest time, exercise tempo, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to follow. Days one and three look on week three of my program.

  • Mobility TrainingMobility Training Mobility Training
    30-40 minutes

Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.

Pause Squats have the lifter descending to the bottom position of the squat and freezing. The bottom position is held for three seconds, maintaining tightness in the muscles and correct technique, before returning to the starting position.

Compensatory Acceleration Training (C.A.T.)

is lifting sub-maximal loads with maximum force. For more details check

elitefts.com

.

  • Mobility TrainingMobility Training Mobility Training
    30-40 minutes

Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.

Reset Deadlifts are performed the same as a standard deadlift, but the lifter will put the weight completely on the floor and reset their hip position between each rep.

Letting Go

The hardest physical aspect to change for me was my diet. I had developed such rigid views and habits around food that it was almost more of a struggle to let them go than it was to keep them. I packed away my food scale and deleted MyFitnessPal. I started incorporating foods that I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in years. I stopped restricting. I re-learned how to eat, not from a clock or scale, but from what my body was feeling.

At first I thought I would feel free without the calorie counting, stress, obsession, and anxiety, but I didn’t. I would take two steps forward and three steps back, wondering if I would ever be able to change. It took years to develop my disordered relationship with food, and I knew it wasn’t going to take a week to fix it. So, I trusted the process just as I always had, kept working at it, and didn’t give up.

Today, around 70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food that allows my body to perform at its optimal level. This includes things like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.

70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.

The other 20-30 percent of food I consume is made up of things that I crave, or that I just plain want—no explanation or condition necessary. There is no special time, day, or place for these foods. I allow myself the freedom to eat them when I want them. Some days I’m at a 50/50 split, some days it’s 100/0, but on most days I stay right around 80/20. It all balances out.

I don’t restrict, I listen to my body’s needs and wants, and most important, I consume everything mindfully and in moderation. Through all of the extremes, I’ve found balance to be the key component in my physical and mental health. It’s also been the key to my happiness.

Sample Day

I don’t have a meal plan to follow because the foods and amounts I eat change on a daily basis. I don’t weigh or measure anything, so all quantities below are estimated. I don’t know my caloric intake or macro breakdown, but I would guess I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,200-2,700 calories per day. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Greek Chicken Wrap

Final Thoughts

Throughout my second transformation, I’ve found myself spending more time with friends and family. They couldn’t care less what I look like—my abs make no difference to them. As long as I’m healthy and happy, they’re happy too.

It’s funny because these are the people I pulled away from when I started my downhill slide into disordered eating and thinking. I sheltered myself from everything that wasn’t fitness related, even friends and family. But when I finally let go of the obsession and the stress, I felt free.

During this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.

The fitness community is full of extremes. We work out until we can’t move. We eat diets of tilapia and broccoli. It takes a strong individual to endure what we put ourselves through. But during this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.

I want to be somewhere between the overweight college girl and the underweight girl on stage, somewhere between the girl who ate pop-tarts for every meal and the girl who ate lettuce for every meal, somewhere between the girl who never stepped foot into the gym and the girl who wouldn’t leave it until she’d burned enough calories. This middle spot is where I’m happy and strong. It’s where I found my balance.

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Fitness 360: Karina Baymiller, Petite Powerhouse

Karina Baymiller may have had 6-pack abs, but she wasn’t happy. Learn how she let go of her obsession with image and built a healthier, happier, stronger body and mind!

Perfect Legs: Karina Baymiller’s High-Rep Plyometric Leg Workout

Leg day is so nice, you better do it twice! I go heavy on legs early in the week and then finish them off with this powerful plyometric workout.

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Karina found out through relentless experimentation that good things come to those who are patient. She tried every plan in the book and perfected her own formula!

Originally posted here –

Skinny To Strong: Karina Baymiller’s Complete Fitness Journey

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Triangle Push-Ups

How to do the Triangle push up

The Move:
Triangle Push-Ups

Why: The triangle push-up gets its name from the position of your hands. Mastering this movement with a modified position of knees on the ground is recommended to keep proper form. The triangle push-up is an excellent total body and core exercise with emphasis on triceps.

How: Begin the move by positioning hands on the mat directly under chest with fingers spread and thumbs and forefingers touching, making a triangle shape. Straighten legs in a plank position (harder) or knees on ground (easier). Make sure the back is flat and abs are engaged as you bend the elbows, lowering until your chin or chest touches the mat. At the bottom of the movement your elbows will naturally flare out to the side. Press back up to starting position while keeping a rigid torso through entire movement.

brooke-stacey-arm-workout-triangle-push-up-2 - Women's Health and Fitness magazine.

Nail it: If you can’t go all the way down to a full push-up, go as far as you can and work your way up to a full push-up as strength grows. Exhale breath as you push back up to starting position.

Workout by: Brooke Stacey

 

 

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ab-ballplank

How to do the 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

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

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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8 exercises for a Brazilian butt!

Want a gorgeous, toned bum? Here are the best exercises for your glutes and thighs.Donkey kicksStarting on your hands and knees, keeping your core tight and back flat, raise 1 leg and keeping knee at 90 degrees.

Push that leg as high as you can in the air and lower back down, repeat for 12 reps, then switch legs.Aim for 4 sets of 12 reps.

Adductor squats

WH&F Head Trainer Nikki Fogden-Moore demonstrates adductor squats with single dumbbell.

Start: Feet stance is wider than hip width; keep your back straight and arms locked with the dumbbell in the middle.

Lower your body weight into a squat then hold before your rise back to the start position.

Aim for 10 to 12 reps.

Glute bridges

Reps: 12 reps each exercise


A two-part exercise, starting with glute bridges.Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, place the weight on your pelvic area.

Keeping your core tight, rise your hips up off the floor and thrust them as high into the air as you can, squeezing your butt at the top. Keep shoulders on the ground.

Lower hips back down, but do not touch butt to the floor. That is one rep.Perform one set of 12 reps, then immediately switch positions for Donkey Kicks.

Kettlebell mountain climbers

How to: Get in push-up position with each hand on a kettlebell, feet hip-distance apart.

Bracing your core and keeping hips down in line with the rest of your body, drive one knee as high as you can in towards your chest.

Return, switch legs and repeat for number of reps.

 

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single-digit__square

How to get single-digit body fat, safely

While it’s unlikely most gym-goers will be wrapping themselves in bin bags and heading to the sauna, obtaining the coveted single-digit percent body fat has become a badge of honour. Previously reserved for bodybuilders, male models and the truly dedicated, men off the street are now using pre-competition fat loss logic for jaw-dropping abs. So what’s the answer? Can this extreme body be maintained in a safe, sustainable way?

(Related: The 5 workout mistakes you are probably making)

Well, yes it can. Providin it’s done safely. It’s also important to note that ‘living’ with such a low percentage of body fat isn’t always practical nor is it entirely safe. For example, some body fat is necessary for your body to function efficiently. The International Journal of Sports Psychology and Performance found male bodybuilders dropping fat for competitions also saw their testosterone levels tank. More worryingly, the subjects’ heart rates dropped to a meagre 27 BPM – a recipe for dizziness and cardiac arrest.

(Related: Is cardio necessary for single-digit body fat?)

man with muscle in gym

Easy hacks to lower your body fat

It’s inadvisable to become obsessed and allow your body fat to drop too far, but if you’re aiming for around 8%, it’s achievable with hard work, diet and exercise. Our expert PT Jason Patmore, gives his tips on dipping below double figures, with no dehydration needed.

Reduce your carb intake and eat more protein (oh, and fat doesn’t make you fat)

The latest nutritional guidelines have shown that fat is in and carbs are out for a while now, but many are stuck on the old staple that carbs are necessary before a gym sesh. Dead wrong if you’re gunning for single digits.

“People need to get it out of their heads that fat makes you fat,” says Patmore. “Carbohydrates release insulin, and when insulin levels are raised the body is actually prevented from using fat as fuel. The goal is to reduce your body to that state.”

(Related: 4 health benefits of a low carb diet)

Cutting body fat means training your body to use fat stores as fuel, something it won’t be doing while you’re burning through pre-workout pasta. Patmore recommends a high-protein breakfast without carbs before hitting to the gym, only using carbs after training to improve the protein synthesis process – this is the reason most protein shakes have a mix of both protein and carbohydrates.

(Related: Your most common protein shake mistakes)

Your session is going to suck because of the low energy reserves before your body adapts, but, if you’re set on that lonely number it’ll all be worth it to watch the fat melt away. Eating your carbs later in the day is more beneficial in a low-calorie diet, as the journal Obesity (Silver Spring) has shown that carbs in the evening reduce hunger pangs and improve weight loss.

(Related: Here are 5 easy ways to get more protein into your diet)

man with single digit body fat

You can’t target fat loss

One of the biggest body-fat myths around is that you can “spot reduce” fat by targeting certain body areas. For example, if you want six-pack abs, you’ll be able to target subcutaneous fat (belly fat) specifically for faster results. But Patmore knows better.

(Related: The best workout to lose weight)

“Can you spot reduce?” he asks incredulously. “Your body will pile on or lose fat, but spot reducing is a myth. Certain areas of your body are more likely to store fat, so general fat loss will equate to losing flab in certain areas more than others.” No targeting your double-chin, we’re afraid: push through the pain and watch it melt away with the rest of your body.

(Related: These are the best cereals for fat loss)

The best exercises that will burn fat

(Related: How to cut out 600 calories from your diet, safely)

Operating at a calorie deficit, carefully managing your carbs and harvesting fat-stores during workouts will begin to drag your body fat down below the decade. All that remains is to roll up your sleeves and get on with the workouts – and for this, Patmore recommends upper and lower-body supersets followed by a steady-state run.

(Related: The HIIT dumbbell workout)

3 sets of each of the following supersets, 15 reps of each with 2 mins rest between supersets, should kick your fat-loss journey into overdrive. We’ll see you on the cover of the mag next year.

Upper-body superset

 

Goblet squat

Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, clasping a kettlebell in each hand in front of your chest with palms facing each other.

(Related: How to perform the back squat effectively)

Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat, keeping the kettlebells in the same position and ensuring you don’t round your back by tensing your glutes throughout. Drive back up and repeat.

Dumbbell shoulder press

Sit on the bench holding two dumbbells at shoulder height with an overhand grip.

(Related: These are the 10 best dumbbell exercises for men)

Press the weights up above your head until your arms are fully extended. Return slowly to the start position.

Lower-body superset

Dumbbell bench press

Lie on a flat bench holding two dumbbells over your chest with an overhand grip.

(Related: 3 reasons you’re not benching bigger numbers)

Push up until your arms are straight, then lower under control.

Dumbbell split squat

With a dumbbell in each hand, stand facing away from the bench with one leg resting on it, laces down.

Squat down with your standing leg until the knee of your trailing leg almost touches the floor. Push up through your front foot to return to the start position.

(Related: How to get bigger legs without lifting weights)

Finisher

 

Steady state run

Run at 65% intensity for 5km.

Increase the effort by adjusting the treadmill to an incline

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How to get single-digit body fat, safely

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kettle-bells

Grind To Grow: Try Your Squats And Presses With Kettlebells!


I’ll never forget the first time I squatted with a pair of 32-kg kettle bells on my chest.

It felt like an elephant was sitting on me. The pressure in my gut was immense, and I could barely breathe. Afterwards, my abs were almost immediately sore. I was shocked, because as a competitive weightlifter I could front squat, butt-to-ankles, more than 400 pounds. But these two 70-pound balls of iron made me feel like I was fighting for my life!

Click Here! For 5 Steps to looking 10 Years younger

I quickly learned that kettlebells are unjustly overlooked as strength equipment; they are often only favored as endurance tools for high-rep ballistic movements like swings and snatches. They’re equally adept and providing muscular overload on slow, heavy lifts like squats and presses.

Why? It’s simple: Your body knows that to get stronger, as well as to continue burning fat, it must adapt. Heavy kettlebells give it a challenge that is uniquely difficult to overcome. Because of their odd shape, kettlebells actually make the body do more work than traditional implements such as barbells and dumbbells. Sub them out even just for a couple of movements you already do, and you may be surprised at the benefits you receive.

The Toughest Squat You’ve Never Done

The reason the double-kettlebell front squat is so much more challenging than its barbell cousin is due to leverage. Consider the rack position: With a barbell, the load rests near the top of the spine, across the collarbone and the front of the deltoids, just below the head. In this arrangement, the barbell becomes virtually one with the lifter, making it easier to move the external resistance. This allows you to move much more weight.

With a kettlebell, it’s almost the opposite. In the rack, the weight rests low, against the outside of the forearms, with the elbows pointed down rather than out. The bells try to pull your body forward and off-balance, which forces your entire midsection to reflexively contract in order to keep you from folding in half.

If you’ve been lifting—or just reading about lifting—for a few years, you’ve probably heard this same argument used as a reason to do barbell front squats rather than barbell back squats. But the truth is that the simple substitution of two kettlebells—or even just one—for a barbell means your midsection will take even more of a beating. And this has benefits beyond building core strength.

To start with, you’ll become a better squatter. Because the spine is protected due to the increased reflexive core activation from the rack, lifters can usually squat deeper with kettlebells than they would with a barbell. The difference here is one you’ll likely feel on your backside for days after the first time you try it, so consider yourself warned.

Kettlebell Exercises
Watch The Video – 0:44

Grind To Grow

The increased stability demands upon your core musculature during the front squat are also present in other slow kettlebell lifts—or “grinds,” as they’re often called. Look at the double kettlebell military press, for example: The increased demands placed upon your core mean your body has to work harder to stabilize your joints so your prime movers—the lats and delts, in the case of the press—can do their work.

The upshot, as with the front squat, is that you’ll need less weight to make all types of muscles work more efficiently—particularly the crucial stabilizer muscles around the shoulder and other joints. Efficiency, in this case, means they’ll do what they’re supposed to when they’re supposed to do it. To pick one painful example for many lifters, a strong rotator cuff stabilizes your shoulder joint so you can safely bench press. A weak or injured one, on the other hand, keeps you from benching heavy, or from doing it at all.

Double Kettlebell Military Press

I’m also of the opinion that one of the causes of what are commonly called workout “plateaus” are actually stabilizer muscles that are weak or don’t work properly. Faced with a heavy load that might damage the joint, your body intuitively protects itself by shutting down the nerve force to the bigger muscles—the prime movers—that traditionally do the work.

You may have heard similar logic used to tell you why you should train with free weights rather than with machines. Yes, it’s true: Core and joint stabilizer activation happen to a certain extent with any training tool, but both are more intense with a kettlebell, due to the increased muscular activation from the offset handle. Consider them the freest of free weights.

You Only Need One

“Resist the urge to let your stronger side set the pace. Train both sides to be relatively even with each other.”

Want to know what’s even tougher than a double-kettlebell grind? The same movement loaded unilaterally. Working one side of your body at a time, as with a single-kettlebell military press, requires your body to make all the muscles on the side opposite of the load—and especially the core musculature—contract to keep you from being pulled over sideways.

Another interesting result from training with a single-kettlebell is that you can even-out strength imbalances from side-to-side. Often, side-to-side imbalances are responsible for holding back your progress on traditional bilateral exercises like the barbell squat, deadlift, and military press. Many people find a single-kettlebell front squat to be much more challenging on the core than a double front squat. The same thing holds true for the military press.

If you find you have a strength imbalance, resist the urge to let your stronger side set the pace. Train both sides to be relatively even with each other, both in the number of reps and the amount of weight you put over your head. You may feel like you’re holding back at first, but don’t be surprised if your big barbell lifts get stronger as a result.

Grind to Burn

Strength is a worthy goal on its own, and it’s more than enough reason to try kettlebell squats and presses. But getting stronger is also essential for burning fat and getting leaner over the long term.

Think of it as a cycle. The increased muscle activation and range of motion you experience from doing deep, difficult squats and overhead presses demand that more muscles work harder than they would otherwise. When you work harder, you burn more calories. And since training the core, especially in an integrated manner while standing, makes the body stronger, you’ll be able to lift heavier and work even harder in the future—which burns even more calories. And so on …

The downside, if there is one, is that kettlebell grinds are known to leave bruises—on your ego. I think you’ll be just as surprised as I was at just how hard they make you work. But stick with them, and you’ll also be surprised by the fruits of your labor: A stronger midsection, a more powerful and defined body, and more strength you can put to good use.

Swing For The Fences: Kettlebell Training – Burn Fat And Build Muscles!

Make the kettlebell swing your 1-stop shop for increased muscle size, definition, fat loss, and the heart of a racehorse!

Kettlebell Explosion: Harness The Power Of The Kettlebell Swing

Don’t try to learn the kettlebell swing by watching it get butchered in your local gym. Use these drills to nail this powerful movement once and for all!

Meet The Squats: 7 Squat Variations You Should Be Doing

In the old days, there were two kinds of squats: ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ Today, you can shop around between multiple versions of the movement. No more excuses. Get off the machines and give the squat a shot!

Contributing Writer

Click Here! for 5 Steps to looking 10 years younger

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Beautiful athletic trainer shows examples of exercises in the gym

Abs – the ultimate workout

If you’ve spent the last decade crunching to coax those elusive abs out from under your spare tyre, it’s time to listen up.

Crunches alone will not miraculously melt away your middle. (Here’s why you should get up now. Before it’s too late!)

Without a concurrent HIIT program to burn the blanket of body fat enshrouding your six pack, the fat will remain and, as the muscle beneath it develops, you may look bulkier.

The problem with crunches, apart from big questions about their role in vertebral degeneration, is that they focus almost exclusively on rectus abdominus (the exterior abdominal muscle).

If your goal is a strong, toned tummy you need to be optimising your workout time with exercises that blast your entire core, not just the outside. Contrary to common belief, the core is not a single muscle or organ, but comprises pelvic floor muscles, external obliques, internal obliques, rectus abdominus, multifidus, erector spinae and transverse abdominus (TVA). Got that?

Plus: Lower back carpet burn is not a good look.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) plus Isometric Abdominal Training (IAT)

Short, sharp, intense bursts of cardio rip the fat right off the top of your abs, while the strategic series of static muscle contractions in IAT will give you more precision than Michelangelo’s David.

HIIT can gel with your current training crush

Whether you run, cycle or rollerskate, you can step it up to ab-blasting level in just 15 minutes. Believe it. Instead of running at moderate pace for 45 minutes, sprint as fast as you can for a number of seconds, then wind back to a lower intensity for the remainder of the minute, and repeat until you hit the 15 minute mark. For beginners, try 10–15 seconds/60 seconds; intermediates can step up to 15–30/45–60 and advanced exercisers should aim for 30/30.

Uh-uh-uh, let us finish.

It’s totally worth doing the IAT bit. You can’t see it, but when you hold a plank or other isometric pose, muscle fibres are pulled from both ends of the contracting muscle – not just one section – meaning your body recruits more muscle fibres than if you were changing the joint angle. Think decline static holds, side bridge, plank and lying leg holds. Your abs will develop those fine lines you do want, and get stronger. Snap.

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sculpt-arm-workout

Workout tips for toned arms

Try: Supersetting Antagonising

Supersetting antagonising is the pairing of two opposite muscle groups such as chest and back, triceps and biceps and quads and hamstrings. The science behind this technique is to loosen one muscle while its antagonist contracts. This allows more weight to be used, or additional reps performed.

How: Give this little workout a go:

a. Dumbbell external rotation 10 reps – 4 sets, tempo 3; 0; 2; rest 30 seconds
b. Incline dumbbell preacher curl 10–12reps – 4 sets, tempo 3; 0; 1
c. Tricep rope pushdowns 15 reps – 4 sets, tempo 2; 0; 2; rest 45 seconds
d. Scott curl reverse biceps curls 8–10 reps – 4 sets, tempo 2; 0; 2
e. Overhead dumbbell triceps extension 12–15 reps – 4 sets, tempo 2; 2; 1; rest 45 seconds

Why: Supersetting agonist and antagonist muscle groups is not only time efficient and great for building lean, toned arms, but it also increases the afterburn effect of your workout by up to 24 hours.

Insider’s tip: Try and finish off your arms day with 3 x 500m sprints on the rower to really get your arms burning.

 

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Training Methods0 Comments

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Top butt-lifting exercises

The ultimate butt workout builds a perky butt that not only looks the biz in skinnies but is structurally sound to facilitate optimal biomechanical function (free and resilient movement to you and us). You had no idea how important your booty was, right?

Try: Barre  

The Barre class trend is sweeping the nation with the ballet-based workout becoming available at gyms and Pilates studios across the country. The classes aim to increase core strength, develop long, strong limbs and increase flexibility. If you don’t have access to a Barre class, you can channel some of the signature moves in your own workout.

How: You need to complete a range of butt-lifting exercises!
a.    Supine glute bridges – 20 reps with 20 small pulses at the top
b.    Single-leg glute bridges – 5 each leg (ensure hips are level)
c.    90-degree back extension – 10 reps (squeeze at the top)
d.    Cable kickbacks – 10 reps each leg

Try to contract your glutes throughout the entire exercise. Keep the movements small and controlled to focus on the constant tension.
Why: Most people have under-developed glute muscles and struggle to activate their glutes properly during exercises. This can result in not only a flat derriere, but also injuries, which is why glute isolation work is important.

INSIDER’S TIP: You should aim to do these 10 times per week if you really want to build a booty.

 

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Training Methods, Weight loss0 Comments

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4 foolproof fitness tips

Get the most out of your workouts with Sheena-Lauren’s summer workout tips and you’ll be on your way to becoming your best self.

1. Train first thing in the morning

“Wake up and work out before your brain figures out what is going on,” says Sheena-Lauren. You will be less likely to skip a workout than if you leave it to the end of a day. “There is less chance for ’things’ to pop up during the day, and often we have less energy at the end of a day, so we tend to dread a workout we could have conquered in the morning.”

2.  Eat well and fuel your body

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“When it comes to building lean muscle and tone and stripping fat, it’s important that you have the energy to undertake the intensity of cardio required and are giving your body adequate amounts of nutrients and protein to build muscle tone. “Don’t let all that hard work in the gym building tone and shape be undone because of poor nutrition choices,’’ Sheena-Lauren says. Prepare for success by shopping on Sunday and preparing Sheena-Lauren’s fit food recipes – there are more in her e-book, Eat like a Warrior Queen.

 

3. Make it a thing

When you’re the only one who knows about what you intend to do, it’s easy to pike when the going gets tired, busy, rainy or hungry for a chocolate éclair. By recruiting one or more friends for the challenge, you’ll not only be less likely to back out of a workout, you’ll experience the challenge in a way you wouldn’t if you did it solo. “Studies indicate that joining forces can increase fitness success dramatically,” Sheena-Lauren says. “Just remember to choose your workout buddy wisely. Ensure they share similar goals, are at a similar fitness level and are just as committed.”

4. Bliss out on recovery Sundays

Active recovery Sundays are not a nod to laziness. Training too much or failing to take time out for simple pleasures is as counterproductive as under-training. To maximise the benefits of active recovery Sundays, make sure you don’t let them slip by in a blur of chores. Consider it a KPI to do something good for your body – whether it’s a massage, a yoga class, a swim or beach walk.

Workout: Sheena-Lauren

Photography: Damien Bowerman

 

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Training Methods, Weight loss0 Comments


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