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Leg raises for great abs

Leg raises are a great way to target the stomach, strengthening lower abdominals and hip reflexors, plus it doesn’t require any gym kit. Add these moves to one of your home workouts for a simple, effective way to tone your tummy. Try 10 reps to start with, and progress to more once you’ve perfected your form.

Try out these different variations of leg raises to challenge yourself, make sure you’re also hitting your fat-burning workouts hard, as you need to torch that fat to reveal your new toned tum!

Lying down leg raises:

-Lie on your back with your hands on the floor or under your bottom.

-Keeping a slight bend in the knees and feet together, start with both feet up towards the ceiling.

-Without allowing your lower back to overarch, slowly lower your legs towards the floor without bending the knees any more than they already are.

-When legs are almost on the floor, squeeze the abs and lift them back up to the start and repeat.

Hot tip: if these aren’t challenging enough for you, why not add some ankle weights?

Leg raises with a ball 

Add a bit of weight to make your leg raises more challenging

-Start similar to the lying down leg raises 

-With your feet on the floor, place an exercise or medicine ball between your feet, griping it firmly 

-Begin to raise your legs up, then slowly lowering your legs down, the weight will cause you to use more control 

-The weight will cause this exercise to me more challenging than the regular leg raises but effective works the abdominals.

Hanging leg raises 

You can perform this exercise at the gym, in the park or at home if you have a door pull up bar

-Hanging from a bar with your arms- grip firmly wide or medium 

-Begin to raise your knees/legs so that your body makes a 90 degrees angle 

– Lower your legs down and repeat the exercise

This exercise can be difficult, some gyms provide a padded bench that can support your back and padded arm rests for your elbows.

Side leg raises 

This exercise can be performed lying or standing

For standing

– Standing on one leg, raise the opposite leg to the side as far as you can

– Bring it back to the standing position and repeat this exercise for both legs 

For lying 

-Lie down on one side- with legs extended and stacked on top of one another

-Raise the top leg up as high as you can, lowering it back down to the first poistion. 

-Repeat 

 

6 Reasons To Shape Up For Summer

Quick, do a digit check. Are all your fingers and toes accounted for, or have a few succumbed to the cold? I can tell you that this has been a brutally chilly winter for most of the upper Midwest, and my region isn’t alone. Records have been shattered all across the United States for cold, ice cover, and snow totals. Right now it seems impossible to imagine warmer days.

But, make no mistake, summer is coming. Soon it will be time to crawl out of our cozy hibernation nests, peel off the polar fleece we’ve been donning like battle gear, and reveal our pasty, dry skin to the warm basking glow of a spring sun. Finally, Vitamin D in its glorious, non-supplement form! You can almost feel it.

So what’s your game plan? Hot chocolate and blankets are just what the doctor ordered for frigid nights, but if you’ve gotten used to skipping the gym and hoarding comfort food, it’s time to change things up. Reignite your fire for fitness and get your head back in the game.

Here are a few reminders about why you should get going with your training and diet again. After all, spring and summer are going to be here in the blink of an eye.

1 Wedding Season’s Upon Us

June is a major month of note. Not only does it signal the first day of summer, Father’s Day, and the oh-so-notable Flag Day, but it’s also the most popular month for weddings. If you’re among those getting laced up in white, hitting a training program now will help you head down the aisle with extra confidence and, depending on your goals, an extra layer of lean muscle.

“Try a new lifting routine or kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training on a Stairmill.”

Use that save-the-date stuck to your fridge to inspire you to push forward, even if your new fit body is not for your own wedding. Try a new lifting routine or kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training on a Stairmill. Start with one minute at level 8, or 30-45 seconds at level 10, followed by brief rest periods for a total of 20 minutes. Shock your system into growth by trying German Volume Training (GVT), which pushes you to do 10 sets of 10 reps on one exercise. The more you ramp up your training routine now, the faster you’ll see results.

2 Smaller Clothes Are Coming

“Picture yourself running in shorts and a tank top. How does that make you feel?”

I promise I’m not poking fun at your winter weight. With warm weather around the corner, it’s just a matter of time until layers start coming off. Whether you’re ready for it or not, the time for that teeny-weenie bikini is fast approaching.

As you look out your window at the snow-covered ground, sunbathing on the beach might sound like a far-off dream. So take a step back. Picture yourself running in shorts and a tank top. How does that make you feel? Awesome, or anxious? If you’re not feeling great, remember that winter is the perfect time to get in gear. You might be more apt to don a cute new sports bra or running shorts when you’re feeling fit. Be the first one in your town to hit the ground running and looking mid-summer awesome when it’s only April.

Set a concrete goal. Sign up for a local event, 5K, 10K, or an obstacle race. Start training for strength and endurance now. Alternatively, have you ever thought about competing in a physique competition? Start taking a peek at local and regional competitions that are happening this year. Competitions that are 16 or 20 weeks out will give you a hard deadline while putting extra training gas in your tank.

If you’ve never felt comfortable wearing shorts, work hard so that this is the year to feel great in them. If you’re self-conscious about your skinny arms, make this the year of the muscle shirt. Plan jogs outside or go rollerblading for the first time in years. Grab some friends to set a pace for yourself and make it a cardio get-together. The more positive people you have around you to cheer you on, the more successful you’ll be.

2014 should be your year to shine, not cover up!

3 Spring Break Is Upon Us

Got a winter getaway trip planned? Time to get your butt in gear! You don’t want to have to worry about the pounds you’ve packed on while you pack luggage. If you’re planning on site-seeing, start now with 30-minute walks on the treadmill and tinker with the incline to mimic being outside. If you’re planning on snorkeling, get in the pool at your gym three days each week and push yourself for a calorie-burning, lap-swimming workout. Changing your cardio workout styles can not only lean you out, it can also prepare you for the vacation activities you’ve spent so much time saving up for. Don’t let it go to waste, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

“Get in the pool at your gym three days each week and push yourself for a calorie-burning, lap-swimming workout.”

4 Spring Is The Season Of Love

Are you single? Why not utilize your time now to find your best and most confident version of yourself? Nothing is more attractive than someone who is strong, confident, disciplined, and goal-oriented. Put your best foot forward by buckling down on your training and diet routine. Already got someone special? Plan couples workouts and get to the gym together. Not only can you push each other, you can get in and out of the gym in a blink by supersetting exercises. One person can do sets of squats while the other person does kettlebell swings, then you can switch. Low-rest, high-intensity workouts will strengthen your bodies and the health of your relationship.

5 Your Friends Need You

Many people have already fallen off the wagon for their 2014 goals in your life. Why not give them a boost by leading the way?

Working in groups or having someone to keep you accountable for your goals often creates a solid emotional boost to the recommitment of goals. Be the catalyst in the lives of people around you by electrifying your social group with your enthusiasm to get back on the wagon.

“Working in groups or having someone to keep you accountable for your goals often creates a solid emotional boost to the recommitment of goals.”

Try a hip-hop dance class with your friends if you’ve always been curious. Find a training program online, or hire a trainer to bring you through a group workout. Set up a circuit routine the gets everyone involved—think biceps curls, planks, step-ups, and Swiss ball hamstring curls. Follow it with 5-10 minutes of hard incline cardio. If you’re a competitor, get together with a friend who shares your passion, and increase accountability by practicing posing and stage routines.

6 You Owe It To Yourself

Yes, winter can be brutal and can make the idea of training debilitating. When it’s 0-15 degrees outside, you don’t care much to venture outside the house. I get it. I live in Minnesota, where 2014 brought 44 nights below zero already, twice as many as we normally get in a year! Even so, you owe it to yourself to follow through on the goals you set—no matter the weather.

Give yourself the power and momentum to push forward and start your spring and summer seasons with the body and health you’ve always dreamed of having. Find inspirational members on BodySpace and ask them questions about how they got to where they are. Go to a big fitness expo or competition and talk to the people in the world of fitness. How do they keep their own fire aflame?

Follow your favorite athletes through social media and read inspirational books like “You Are a Badass,” by Jen Sincero, which is one of my personal favorites. Education and inspiration are crucial to your success. The motivation to keep going is available everywhere when you look for it and are open to it.

You’re just as worthy of your efforts now as you ever were. 2014 has barely started. It’s way too soon to give up on yourself. Start now or start again and make it the best year of your life!


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5 exercises for at-home reformer Pilates

5 exercises for at-home reformer Pilates Want to bring your Pilates sessions home with you? Here are five ways to bring some reformer moves into your home workouts.If reformer Pilates sounds like your kind of deal, you better be prepared to part with a pretty penny. An hour-long private lesson can set you back hundreds of dollars, while group classes are still quite pricey.

5 minutes with The HIIT Mum

5 minutes with The HIIT Mum Pocket rocket and mother-of-one Colette McShane, aka. @TheHIITMum, is a fitness force to be reckoned with. Here, we chat to her about supplementation, passion and just getting stuff done.My love for the health industry started very early. I’ve been athletic all my life, participating in triathlons and cross-country racing as a six-year-old in Scotland.

Jump Training: The 4-Move No Equipment Leg Workout

It’s become a common cliché that bodyweight athletes don’t have strong legs. Look at the comments on any YouTube clip showcasing advanced calisthenics, and you’re bound to see someone hating on the lack of lower-body development. A number of coaches also insist that it’s impossible to build a strong, powerful lower body without external weights.

Balderdash, I say! Bodyweight exercises alone can make you every bit as strong as can barbells and dumbbells. You just need to push yourself and get a little creative.

While newcomers need to spend some time honing their bodyweight squats and lunges, it usually doesn’t take long for these basic exercises to max out on their strength benefits. Once this occurs, however, adding weight is not the only solution; you can continue to build strength by simply progressing to more difficult bodyweight exercises, like I discuss in my book Pushing The Limits.

Ultimately, I recommend working up to single-leg movements like the pistol squat to get the most out of calisthenics leg training. However, these types of advanced movements may remain out of reach until you’ve built more strength. As an intermediate step, jump training can add a challenge to your lower-body workouts without the need for weights or equipment. And even if you’re well-versed in pistol squats, some of these simple exercises may offer you a new challenge and a welcomed change of pace.

1 Jump Squat

A jump squat is like a regular bodyweight squat, except instead of simply standing up at the top of your range of motion, you jump as high as you can, lifting your knees toward your chest at the top. You can do them jumping in place or up onto an object.

Though your legs obviously do most of the work, jump squats are a full-body exercise, so use your arms to generate momentum. Remember to stay light on your feet and avoid landing with your knees locked. Keep your joints relaxed and do your best to absorb the impact as gently as possible.

Try to go directly from one jump into the next, taking advantage of the elasticity of your muscles and their stretch reflex. If you’re not able to do this at first, however, just reset and take a few seconds between reps as needed.

“Though your legs obviously do most of the work, jump squats are a full-body exercise, so use your arms to generate momentum.”

2 Broad Jump

Another fun plyometric squat variant, the broad jump is essentially the same as the jump squat except you jump forward, not upward. You still want to lift your legs high as you jump, however; this will help you clear more distance. Leaving your legs dangling isn’t as aerodynamic. You’ll need a lot of space to practice broad jumps; I recommend a park or field.

Again, try to go from one rep right into the next, though feel free to take a few seconds between reps if you need to when starting out.

“Lunges are one of my favorite leg exercises, but like anything else, they need to be progressed once they cease to be a challenge.”

3 Jump Lunge

Lunges are one of my favorite leg exercises, but like anything else, they need to be progressed once they cease to be a challenge.

Start out with a stationary jump lunge by lowering yourself down into a split squat and jumping up at the top, gently landing back into the bottom position with your knees bent. Do several in a row, and then switch legs.

When you get comfortable with those, the cycle lunge is a more advanced jump lunge worth trying. It starts out the same as the stationary jump lunge, but once you’re in the air, you’ll have to quickly switch your legs before landing. Continue to alternate legs with each rep, going from one right into the next. Feel free to swing your arms for momentum or keep them at your sides. It might take a little practice to land comfortably without losing your balance.

4 Sprinting

Though often overlooked, running is arguably the most natural and fundamental of all lower-body calisthenics exercises. Though most people associate running with long-distance cardio training, sprinting turns up the intensity to such a degree that the body’s response is more like performing a heavy set of barbell squats than jogging a 10K. Yes, you can actually build strength and muscle through sprinting!

“The body’s response to sprinting is more like performing a heavy set of barbell squats than jogging a 10K.”

Remember that when you sprint, both of your feet are often in the air at the same time, so sprinting is pretty much a form of jump training. You can do sprints for time or for distance, but either way, keep them brief and intense for the most strength benefits.

Here’s a simple routine that can be done anytime to help you find your footing in jump training.

Perform all exercises consecutively, with 1-2 minutes rest between each set.

  • Warm-UpWarm-Up Warm-Up
    Light jogging or jumping jacks for around 5 minutes
  • Jump Squat Jump Squat Jump Squat
    2 sets of 10 reps
  • Broad Jump Broad Jump Broad Jump
    2 sets of 5 reps
  • Jump Lunge Jump Lunge Jump Lunge
    2 sets of 10 reps
  • Sprints Sprints
    2 sets of 10 seconds

There is no single strength building method that’s guaranteed to work best for everybody. Weight training will forever have its place in strength and conditioning, but there will always be alternative options to help build athleticism outside of the traditional weight room setting. Bodyweight workouts are often the most practical means of getting a quick but effective workout when you’ve got a busy schedule and/or don’t belong to a gym.

Give the workout above a shot. I promise it will leave your quads aching and your hamstrings hammered.


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Barbell Workout

Strong is sexy! Sometimes big heavy metal weights can be a little bit daunting, but combining weight training into your workout will help you burn more calories and tone your body. So bust your fears, check out this barbell workout to get summer ready!

How to do it: Perform 8-10 reps of each move one after the other in a circuit, resting between sets if you need to. Once a circuit is complete, return to the start and repeat. Keep going until you’ve reached the time recommended for your level.

Beginner: 10 mins

Intermediate: 15 mins

Advanced: 20 mins

Squat (Areas trained: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves)

Technique

–       Holding the barbell resting on your shoulder muscles, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart

–       Bend your knees and hips to lower your body until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor

–       Reverse the position, extending your hips and knees to return to the start position.

Romanian Deadlift (Areas trained: Hamstrings, Lower back, Glutes)

Technique

–       Hold the bar with an overhand grip approximately shoulder-width (your thumbs should brush the outside of your thighs)

–       Place your feet approximately hip-width apart, with knees soft and your feet straight ahead

–       Maintaining a flat back position, bend forward at the hips, lowering the bar towards the floor

–       Reverse the position, extend your hips and return to the start position

Hip Thrust (Areas trained: Glutes, Hamstrings, Core) 

Technique

–       Set up with your shoulder blades in with the bend an holding a barbell to your hips.

–       Place your feet close to your bottom, so that at the top of the hip thrust, your calves are at 90 degrees to the floor

–       Drive through your heels and focus on using your glutes to pish your hips straight up. Finish with your hips as high as possible while maintaining a neutral spine.

–       Lower; repeat. 

How to lose the last two kilos

How to lose the last two kilos They say the last two kilograms are the hardest to lose, but we’ve found a loophole.STEP 1.Calculate your baselineBasal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories you’d burn per day if you were to lie in bed 24/7. It’s based on various factors including your height, age and body composition (a higher muscle to fat ratio will burn more calories even at rest). To calculate your BMR, plug your deets into this equation (known as the Harris-Benedict equation):BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)e.g. a 30-year-old female measuring 167 cm tall and weighing 54.5 kg would compute 655 + 523 + 302 – 141 to get a maintenance level daily calorie need of 1,339, or 5,624 kJ, per day (multiply calories by 4.2 to convert to kJ lingo).STEP 2.Body auditIf your numbers come in low, don’t panic. In addition to what you burn to maintain basic bodily functions, you need to add your other energy usage.

Hard work hard body

Stephanie Walker competes in fitness competitions, which emphasize muscular definition but not bulk. She feels the burn of repetitions of weightlifting during a recent workout at Illete Fitness in the Durango Tech Center.Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Stephanie Walker competes in fitness competitions, which emphasize muscular definition but not bulk. She feels the burn of repetitions of weightlifting during a recent workout at Illete Fitness in the Durango Tech Center.

For Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jayne Mansfield, known for their voluptuous curves, weightlifting and vigorous exercise were not a part of their daily routine.

But times change. While a half-century ago the concept of women seeking extreme fitness may have been disdained in this country, now it has a solid niche. That’s especially true in an athletic environment like Southwest Colorado.

Take Durangoan Stephanie Walker, for example. Having the ability to change and shape her body to her satisfaction has become an empowering experience.

Dissatisfied with her slender appearance, she decided to start building up her body and take control over each muscle she wanted to enhance.

Though Walker wouldn’t necessarily be considered a professional bodybuilder by either title or appearance, she does consider herself to be a builder of her body and fitness.

“Being a bodybuilder means you work out and see fitness as a sport,” Walker said.

She has competed in both Fitness New Mexico and the GNC Nature Colorado Open. She soon will be training for Fitness New Mexico in Albuquerque this summer.

Competitions are held for several categories, including model, bikini, figure, fitness and bodybuilding. Many competitions host all or several of the above.

Walker attended a recent competition in which only two competed in the bodybuilding division among 200 total women participants,.

Women competitors are opting more for the figure category, a less extreme version, and have steered away from bodybuilding, she said.

Walker feels that it is unnatural for a woman to achieve an extremely bulky, muscular appearance often associated with such competitions and assumes most who do are using anabolic steroids.

“It’s really taboo, and people don’t talk about it,” she said.

Figure competitions allow women to remain feminine, she said. Although it’s hard work to achieve the look, it can be done naturally.

Walker does not use steroids because of their health consequences, she said, but ironically named her dog “Tren,” short for Trenbolone, an anabolic steroid.

Dawn Malinowsky of Vallecito wanted to learn more about her body, so she studied anatomy and researched how to shape it. She quickly got into a routine and was satisfied with her additional strength, she said.

“It feels good to be strong,” she said.

Malinowsky built her body for 12 years and once placed second in her division in a bodybuilding competition in Connecticut, she said. The winner, twice the size of the other women, appeared to have used some sort of anabolic steroid, Malinowsky recalled.

“I’m only 5-(foot)-4, and your muscles can only get so big naturally,” she said. “I don’t believe in steroids. I think it’s cheating.”

After experiencing the harsh realities of prepping for competition, she realized it wasn’t for her, she said.

Depriving her body of carbohydrates, though unhealthy, was not difficult, she said. The hardest part was limiting water intake to drop her body fat percentage from about 16 percent to 3 percent, she said.

Now, at age 48, she no longer bodybuilds but continues to exercise regularly and maintains a healthful lifestyle, she said. But to others considering getting into the sport, Malinowsky said, “Go for it.”

Antoinette Nowakowski of Mayday has been retired from competitive bodybuilding for about 18 years. She said she first discovered the weight room when she moved to Iowa to attend chiropractic school.

She said it took her awhile to feel comfortable in the male-dominated weight room.

“You really had to prove yourself,” she said.

Nowakowski, now 59, began working out regularly to improve a “weak” body and her health. Her regular routine later progressed to bodybuilding.

When asked if she had ever experimented with steroids, she gleefully responded with: “No, I’m a tree-hugging nature girl.”

Just before one competition, she entered a women’s bathroom and discovered a woman shaving her chest hair. It was likely that she was on some sort of steroid, Nowakowski said.

All three women have heard comments from other women who believe “lifting weights makes women bulk up and look like men.” They assure the statement is false and in bad taste.

“I didn’t want to emulate men,” Nowakowski said. “I wanted to have a beautiful, strong feminine body.”

Though the women’s bodybuilding community is very small, the women have received an immense amount of support and admiration from friends and curious admirers in the gym.

Also, even after achieving a “near-perfect” figure in their minds, like anyone else, they are not exempt from experiencing personal body-image issues.

The three women said it’s all about finding a balance.

Don Roberts, who owns Fitness Solutions 24/7 in Bodo Industrial Park and has participated in a few amateur bodybuilding shows, expressed a mixed opinion about the sport.

“It’s great when women do it in a feminine way,” he said. “It can be very tastefully and gracefully done from a woman’s standpoint.”

He did, however, express his distaste for both men and women who obtain their muscular physiques through the use of chemical enhancements.

“They are totally different types of people, he said. “I’m all for it as long as it’s drug-free.”

The women agreed theirs is not a lifestyle suited for all. But they emphasized the importance of not neglecting your health.

“Don’t wait until you’re at the point where you feel bad or are overweight. Find a buddy and work out with them,” Walker said.

Leg raises

Leg raises are a great way to target the stomach, strengthening lower abdominals and hip reflexors, plus it doesn’t require any gym kit. Add these moves to one of your home workouts for a simple, effective way to tone your tummy. Try 10 reps to start with, and progress to more once you’ve perfected your form.

Try out these different variations of leg raises to challenge yourself, make sure you’re also hitting your fat-burning workouts hard, as you need to torch that fat to reveal your new toned tum!

Lying down leg raises:

-Lie on your back with your hands on the floor or under your bottom.

-Keeping a slight bend in the knees and feet together, start with both feet up towards the ceiling.

-Without allowing your lower back to overarch, slowly lower your legs towards the floor without bending the knees any more than they already are.

-When legs are almost on the floor, squeeze the abs and lift them back up to the start and repeat.

Hot tip: if these aren’t challenging enough for you, why not add some ankle weights?

Leg raises with a ball 

Add a bit of weight to make your leg raises more challenging

-Start similar to the lying down leg raises 

-With your feet on the floor, place an exercise or medicine ball between your feet, griping it firmly 

-Begin to raise your legs up, then slowly lowering your legs down, the weight will cause you to use more control 

-The weight will cause this exercise to me more challenging than the regular leg raises but effective works the abdominals.

Hanging leg raises 

You can perform this exercise at the gym, in the park or at home if you have a door pull up bar

-Hanging from a bar with your arms- grip firmly wide or medium 

-Begin to raise your knees/legs so that your body makes a 90 degrees angle 

– Lower your legs down and repeat the exercise

This exercise can be difficult, some gyms provide a padded bench that can support your back and padded arm rests for your elbows.

Side leg raises 

This exercise can be performed lying or standing

For standing

– Standing on one leg, raise the opposite leg to the side as far as you can

– Bring it back to the standing position and repeat this exercise for both legs 

For lying 

-Lie down on one side- with legs extended and stacked on top of one another

-Raise the top leg up as high as you can, lowering it back down to the first poistion. 

-Repeat 

 

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