Tag Archive | "body"

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Strengthening shoulder workout

For all the girls carrying the world on their shoulders, Karey Northington provides an epic upper body circuit designed to build strength and create some serious shape.

The why

This workout is a fantastically efficient time saver that hits the deltoid from multiple angles, creating beautifully sculpted shoulders. Using dumbbells, the body bar and the plate help vary the muscles used and make the workout convenient to do almost anywhere. With today’s busy schedules, it’s crucial to have at-home options that save a trip to the gym.

The do

Complete 12 reps of each exercise one after the other, with little to no rest in between. Begin with two rounds, working your way up to four rounds as you become stronger and fitter. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between each round.

Start by holding the body bar with a pronated grip and hands shoulder width apart, elbows slightly bent. Raise bar to chin height engaging anterior deltoid. Control bar back to start position.

Dumbbell shoulder press

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Lift dumbbells and rotate hands so palms are facing up. Start with dumbbells even with your ears and press overhead without letting the dumbbells touch. Return to start position and repeat.

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Hold dumbbells at sides, palms facing your body and elbows slightly bent. Raise arms leading with your elbow and small finger to shoulder height. Lower slowly to starting position and repeat

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Holding a plate on each side, raise to chin height and rotate plate from side to side. Lower and repeat.

Tip: challenge yourself by doing 12 front raises alone with the plate to pre-fatigue the muscles, and then holding the plate in the top position to complete reps rotating the plate.

 

Low plank to high plank

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Start in a low plank position on your forearms, with your feet shoulder width apart and your lower back flat. Push your body up into a high plank position, first onto your right hand then onto your left. Lower yourself back down to the low plank position one arm at a time.  Repeat, alternating which arm pushes up first.

Model/Workout: Karey Northington // northingtonfitnessandnutrition.com

Photography: James Patrick // jamespatrick.com

 

Strengthening shoulder workout

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Upgrade your lunch break workout

Forget clocking extra office hours – lunchtime is the perfect time to burn calories!

Making it to the end of the working day is so much harder if you don’t take a break. A study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports shows that even a 30-minute lunchtime stroll can significantly boost a person’s ability to handle stress at work. But why not ramp up the intensity of your workout and amplify results? ‘It sounds obvious, but don’t use the time to just go through the motions,’ says Georgia Gray, Fitness First personal trainer. ‘Be focused. Get the most out of every rep. Don’t text during your rest periods. Basically, just work hard.’ Heading to the gym this lunch hour? Follow these smart strategies to get more from your session.

GET WITH THE PROGRAMME

Guilty of wandering around the gym aimlessly? What you need is a game plan for workout success. ‘Know exactly what you’re going to the gym to do,’ advises Gray. ‘Not only will you be more motivated to beat your weight or rep targets, but you’ll also save the time you’d normally spend thinking about what bit of kit to use next.’ If you’re not sure what sort of plan you should be following, speak to one of the gym instructors and ask if you can book a gym induction, during which they should provide you with an exercise plan. Get in there and just do it. Got it?

WORKOUT WITH LESS

Modern gyms may be fitness-lovers’ playgrounds – with battle ropes, tyres, sleds and plenty of exciting new-fangled kit – but it’s important not to simply ‘play around’ with the latest equipment. In fact, New Balance ambassador Shona Vertue thinks it’s best to use as little equipment as possible. ‘There’s nothing worse than getting to a packed gym only to spend half your time waiting for kit. Standing in line won’t burn calories! If you’re using the gym at a peak time, such as during the lunch hour, find an empty corner, grab a kettlebell or resistance band and do a circuit. That way, you’ll spend your lunch hour working out rather than waiting it out,’ she says.

MAXIMISE ON MOVES

When time is short, compound exercises that work multiple muscles at once are the key to strength rewards. ‘Revolve your session around big, compound moves such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, chest presses, bent-over rows, chin-ups and dips,’ says Gray. ‘These moves require oodles of energy and are great for fat loss. A lot of my clients love the adductor (inner-thigh) machine, but a squat will work the adductors, rest of the lower body, core and lower back.’ In short, these moves offer more bang for your exercise buck.

GIVE IT A REST

Sure, rest periods are important. They give your body a chance to restore, recover and replenish, meaning you can hit the next set just as hard as the last one. But, by cleverly selecting exercises that work different muscle groups, you can skimp on rest, give worked muscles a chance to recoup and keep up the intensity. ‘Switch between upper- and lower-body movements,’ says Vertue. ‘For example, perform 10 squats, then immediately [without rest] do 10 push-ups. By going from a lower- to an upper-body exercise, your body is quickly shunting blood from the legs (from the squat) to the arms (for the push-up). This takes quite a bit of energy and will burn lots of calories.’

CURB THE CARDIO

Love spending the entire hour on the treadmill? Bad news – unless you’re training for an endurance event, spending that long on a cardio machine isn’t the best use of your time. What you need to do is to up the intensity and decrease the time of your aerobic session to supercharge cardiovascular results. ‘There are lots of ways to increase the intensity of your workout,’ says Allyn Condon, personal trainer at The Gym Bristol. ‘You could vary the sets [try doing hill intervals, for example] or increase the speed of your movements to improve your overall performance and get more from your workout.’ Do this and you’ll free up time to spend using the other kit as well.

DROP IT LOW

If you’re still plugging through the 3 x 12 reps session that the gym instructor gave you a year ago, it’s time to mix up your weights workout. ‘Your body needs progressive overload to make progress,’ says Gray. And this means taxing your muscles more this week than you did last week. ‘If you’re coming in and going through the motions, you’ll struggle to see results. Try doing dropsets, which involves completing an exercise at a certain weight before dropping the weight slightly and performing the same exercise. This is a great way to push the body to failure [when it can’t physically do that move anymore, which leads to strength gains].’

TRACK YOUR TIME

If you’re motivated by competition, one of the most effective ways to gain strength and improve your fitness results is to compete with yourself by tracking your workouts. ‘When you’re not sticking to a plan, you really will struggle to see results,’ warns Gray. ‘To get the most out of any workout – whether it’s long or short – you need to be recording what you’re doing and aiming to improve on that [by running a bit faster, lifting more weight or clocking more reps, for example] week-on-week.’ Yes, it’s time to invest in that workout diary you’ve been promising yourself.

 

Upgrade your lunch break workout

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Why you should train your glutes?

Covet strong glutes? We asked the Base Body Babes to share their advice when it comes to training your glutes.

We love having and creating well balanced, beautifully proportioned and functional bodies. Our programs are specifically designed to ensure the body is structurally balanced and moving correctly, with a focus on posture and creating feminine proportions. Generally speaking, women are lower body dominant (whereas men are upper body dominant), so when we design our programs we place a greater focus on the lower body movements to create or maintain these feminine proportions. In our experience, women love having a shapely booty and toned, lean legs.

As the glutes are the biggest muscle in the body, it’s important to specifically work and build muscle in this area: not only because we like the look of a well developed, perky behind, but because the glutes are important to the overall function of the body.

From a functional strength standpoint, it’s quite common for people to have lazy or underactive glutes. This can lead to lower back pain and injuries, as the glutes are primarily responsible for day-to-day tasks such as bending over and picking things up. If the glutes aren’t strong, more stress is placed on the lower back unnecessarily. In most instances, if someone suffers from lower back pain, strengthening the glutes is a great place to start.

It’s no secret that squats are the first exercise that people turn to when they want to build a booty. Although squats are our favourite movement and our programs are based around them, there is certainly more to booty gains than just the squat rack. Too many times we see women squatting without knowing how to correctly activate their glute muscles; without proper technique and activation, results cannot be achieved.

Getting the most out of your booty

1. Technique is everything. Correct technique is vital to keeping you free from injury, to allow you to lift the correct weight and to ensure you are working the exact muscles that you are targeting. If your body starts to fatigue and your technique breaks down, it’s time to stop the set. Many people like to train until failure and take the body beyond what it is capable of, but this only increases the risk of injury. Always remember: safety first!

2. Progression is key. The body must continuously be challenged in order for it to change and develop; if you keep doing what the body can already do, the body doesn’t need to adapt! Every week, aim to increase the amount of weight you are lifting by about two to four per cent. Challenge your body for best results!

Source:

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Top fitness tips for building strong abs

Try: Pre-workout muscle engagement

When you’re pushed for time, you want to get the most bang for your buck. Pre-workout muscle engagement is a technique that aims to engage more muscles throughout your workout, which burns more calories and creates a stable base.

How: Try adding the following core and glute activation exercises into your routine:

a.   Toe Taps – 20 reps
b.    Plank – 1 min
c.    Leg Raises – 10 reps each leg
d.    Clams – 20 reps each leg
e.    Body Rolls – 10 reps

Complete 2 rounds

Why: A strong core will ensure you engage the correct muscles during your training and allow you to build a well-shaped physique.

INSIDER’S TIP: Begin each workout with the routine above and you will be well on your way to a killer core!
Activating these muscles prior to your workout will promote a muscle/ mind connection. This increases muscle fibre activation, improving your lifts and decreasing your risk of injury.

Alternatively, if you are unable to effectively engage your core, try a Pilates class to ensure you have the correct technique to build your base.

Tips by Zana, trainer at Goodlife Health Clubs Prahran.

Source:

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How to sculpt your core

The vision

Fat loss is key to what the majority of women want in a stomach: one that is ‘flat’ or lean, with a little definition and no love handles.

“The most common complaints I receive are from new mums who have a flabby stomach or saggy skin after giving birth, or from individuals who have gained weight and now have a ‘pot belly’,” says director of Soul Centre Yoga & Pilates Studio Libby Wever (soulcentre.com.au)

“Beyond aesthetics, core conditioning also improves posture, which contributes to a trimmer appearance, and improves flexibility and balance. Moreover, developing core muscle strength can boost the effectiveness of workouts and reduce the risk of injuries that sideline our efforts to stay in shape. It also protects your back, which is very important to maintain.”

Key features

Your core is actually a highly complex set of muscles, encompassing the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, and the rectus abdominis. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus and trapezius.

“The transverse abdominal muscles, which wrap from the sides of the lower back around to the front, are well-coordinated core muscles that stabilise the spine and help create a firm base of support for virtually all movement,” says Wever.

The plan

From an aesthetic point of view, there is little point smashing out the crunches if your obliques are hidden by layers of fat. That said, like any muscle, the abs still need to be worked for proper function and image once the fat does come off.

“Exercises that strengthen abdominal and other core muscles should be part of an overall fitness plan that includes regular moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking 30 minutes per day, most days of the week. Strength training two to three times a week designed to work the core (think Pilates and compound lifts) will also help,” says Wever.

Given the abs are notoriously resistant to fatigue and contain predominantly of slow-twitch (endurance) muscle fibres, they usually respond best to higher volume training. Think upward of 12 reps, for multiple sets.

“Performing basic movements such as sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, squats and lunges – 12 reps by three sets – as well as holding a full-body plank for two minutes will help to engage and strengthen the core, aiding in your performance across other sports and activities, such as running or swimming,” adds Wever.

http://ww.womenshealthandfitness.com.au/fitness/25-popular-topics/2368-how-to-sculpt-your-core

 

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The best reasons to work out

Losing inches shouldn’t be your only motivation for hitting the gym. Regular training sessions benefit your entire body

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.

Source: The best reasons to work out

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15-minute ab workout

Want a strong core?

Add this high-energy workout to your workouts and boost fat loss, muscle gain and strength.

All you need is 15 minutes two to three times a week and a medicine ball.

1. Straight-arm plankLie on a flat surface.

Position hands directly under shoulders and legs, shoulder-width apart

 

2. Mountain climbers

For the next 30 seconds, incorporate spider mountain climbers, alternating movements on each side with the knee to elbow, back into the straight-arm plank for a total of one minute. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

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3. Medicine ball crunches

Start with feet on the floor at a 90-degree angle. Lean back onto tailbone and lift feet off the floor at 45 degrees. Hold a 4 kg medicine ball at your chest. With knees bent and toes pointed upwards, extend arms with the medicine ball while bringing the knees towards the chest.

Keeping the abdominal muscles contracted, bring the medicine ball back to chest and extend the legs without letting your feet touch the ground. Stay in that position and preform a Russian twist with the medicine ball for weighted resistance.

Twist core with medicine ball from side to side. Keep legs as steady as possible while twisting without touching the floor. Do this as one motion for one minute, rest for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.

 

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4. High knees

Standing on a flat surface with feet hip-width apart, comfortably jump on one foot, lifting your knees as high as possible. Let arms flow with the motion of the opposite knee. Alternate legs for one minute at maximum speed and drop to the floor into the straight-arm plank. Perform spider mountain climbers for one minute, alternating movements on each side with the knee to elbow, back into the straight-arm plank. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

 

Words/workout: Sam Ly (pictured)Photography: Jamie Watling

Link:

15-minute ab workout

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Eating for Distance

Fuelling your body with the right food is a recipe for success, says Louise Pyne

A good training regime is, of course, essential for distance running.

But for real success on the endurance front, it is important to give your nutrition a long hard look.

The longer you run, the more fuel your body needs. As a general rule, if you exercise at intensity beyond one-and-a-half hours, your body needs to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes to maintain performance, says nutritionist Sarah OíNeill (sarahoneill.co.uk). And if you don’t consume the extra salt and sugar your body craves, you’re more susceptible to dehydration. Plus, without additional fuel, your body can start to break down lean tissue.

Your body burns fat more efficiently as a fuel in the presence of glucose, but otherwise, when your glycogen stores become depleted, your body turns to muscle as its next choice, which is obviously counterproductive and not the desired outcome of training, adds Sarah. Paying close attention to timing will also help you get the most out of each and every training session. You need to know what to eat and when, so weíve put together an easy-to-follow guide with some simple recipes for you to try.

Performance-boosting eats

2 hours before

Eat this: Grilled salmon with quinoa. This provides a good ratio of protein, carbs and healthy fats to help sustain energy for gruelling long runs. 

Avoid this: Lentils and beans. These can be difficult to digest and may bring on cramps during training. Save legume-based meals for in between training sessions instead.

Star recipe: Turkey meatballs with brown rice

Mix together 100g lean turkey mince, 1 chopped onion, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1tsp tomato purée and
shape into balls. Dip into a beaten egg and roll in breadcrumbs. Place on an ovenproof tray with
a spoonful of coconut oil and bake for 25 minutes at 180
°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Serve on a bed of brown rice. 

1 hour before

Eat this: A light snack combining easy to digest carbs and a small portion of protein. Good options include a banana topped with nut butter or cheese on wholemeal toast.

Avoid this: Gas-producing fruits like peaches, apple and pear will leave you feeling uncomfortable and bloated prior to training.

Star recipe: Homemade granola bars

Combine the following ingredients: 200g oats, 100g flaxseeds, 50g raisins, 50g dried cranberries, 100g mixed seeds, 2tbsp almond butter, 1 pinch ground cinnamon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. Neatly spoon into an ovenproof tin and bake for 25 mins at 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 or until lightly browned. Allow to cool and then cut into bars. 

15 minutes before

Eat this: A small helping of easily digestible carbohydrates will help to supercharge energy levels and counteract
fatigue. Excellent choices include a couple of oatcakes, half a banana or a few pieces of dried fruit.

Avoid this: Huge servings of food, especially complex carbs, protein-rich, fibrous or fatty foods, as these will take longer to digest, bring on a stitch and may make you need the toilet while running! 

Star recipe: Oat and raisin cookies

Mix together 1 beaten egg, 70g plain flour, 150g oats, 100g caster sugar, 1 pinch cinnamon and 100g raisins. Roll into balls and place on an ovenproof tray.
Bake for 15 minutes at 180
°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 

Post-run recipes

If you don’t eat the right food after your run, fatigue and headaches can set in, making you feel sluggish
for hours or even days afterwards. To offset the effects, a combination of carbs (to replenish glycogen stores) and protein (to rebuild lean muscle tissue) eaten within 30 minutes is the best choice. Try these simple recipes to get back on your feet after a hardcore training session:

Choco-fruity smoothie

Blend together the following ingredients:

1 small pot of Greek yoghurt

1 banana

Handful of frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries)

250ml semi skimmed milk 

1tsp cocoa powder

1 pinch cinnamon


Cajun chicken sandwich

Sprinkle 1 chicken breast with Cajun seasoning and grill. Once cooked, cut into small pieces. Spread two slices toasted wholemeal bread with 1tbsp crème fraîche, and top with the chicken breast pieces. Add 1 chopped tomato, mixed salad leaves and a squeeze of lemon. 

Salmon and veggie pasta

Place a salmon fillet on a piece of foil with 4 cherry tomatoes and half a sliced yellow
pepper. Season with mixed herbs and place in the oven at 180
°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4
for 15-20 minutes. Cook 60g wholewheat pasta, drain.
Flake the salmon into the drained pasta and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in 1tbsp crème fraîche and the juice of half a lemon and a few shavings of Parmesan.

Injury prevention foods

Keep your body in tip-top condition with these healthy bites

Kiwi fruit

Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein that gives connective tissue its strength. Load up on kiwis to make sure your body has the required levels of vitamin C it needs. 

Cheese

Nibbling on cheese will provide your body with calcium, an important mineral that helps to keep bones healthy. 

Carrots

Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A, a nutrient needed to speed up wound healing by helping cells to reproduce properly. 

Finally, here are some tips on how to get in great shape with these simple strategies

One size doesn’t fit all 

There’s a wide range of sports nutrition products available on the market, but sometimes you have
to try different things out to see what suits you best. ‘We all have slightly different digestive systems and responses to sports drinks, gels and protein shakes,’ says Sarah. 

Ditch the booze

Endurance training places a huge stress on your body, which means you really need to load up on extra nutrients. So, while a glass of wine (or two) might seem like it hits the spot after a long training session,
it won’t do your nutrient levels any good. Unfortunately, alcohol depletes the body of vitamins and minerals, slowing down performance and making you more susceptible to illness. So keep drinking to a minimum (no more than two alcoholic drinks (per week) or, better still, cut out booze completely in the run-up to a marathon. 

Don’t binge

It’s tempting to reward yourself with food after completing a long run, but if you overeat junk post-run you’ll just gain weight. ‘You may burn 2,000 calories, but it’s still easier to replace these calories than burn them! It’s important to eat the “right” things, such as a range of fruit and veg, healthy fats and lean proteins to help provide the range of nutrients your working body requires,’ says Sarah. 

Source: Eating for Distance

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5 hormones that cause weight gain

Did you know that regulating hormones can help control weight gain, even without reducing the intake of food? Yes, really! Angela Tufvesson finds out more.

 Melatonin

What is it? The hormone of darkness, melatonin maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour clock that regulates when we fall asleep and wake up. The body produces melatonin when it is dark to encourage rest.

Is it out of whack? Bright light in the evening or not enough light during the day can disrupt melatonin levels, which can result in weight gain. This is a common symptom of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a winter ailment where too much melatonin is produced.

Quick fix: Regulating melatonin levels can help control weight gain, even without reducing the intake of food. Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain believe melatonin might help prevent heart disease associated with obesity, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Small quantities of melatonin can be found in goji berries, almonds, sunflower seeds, cardamom, fennel, coriander and cherries. Melatonin also has strong antioxidant effects and can be taken in supplement form. If you prefer au naturale, be sure to sleep in a pitch-black room.

Insulin

What is it? Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and used to digest the carbohydrates in food. The pancreas secretes insulin in response to carbohydrates being consumed. It then transports glucose – a simple sugar made from the digested carbohydrates – from the food to the muscles to be used for energy.

Is it out of whack? If you have trouble losing weight, despite eating well and training hard, you may have a condition called insulin resistance, says Buntic. “In insulin resistance, the hormone insulin does not function as it should. The muscle cells build up a resistance to insulin, so the body produces more and more in an attempt to maintain the transport of glucose to the cells for energy. “As insulin works to prevent fat being burnt to preserve muscle and fat mass, high levels of insulin can result in a situation where fat is stored rather than burnt, leading to difficulty in losing and maintaining weight.” If left unmanaged, this condition is likely to result in type 2 diabetes.

Quick fix: Insulin resistance can be managed with a low-GI eating plan and exercise including cardio and resistance training.

Ghrelin and leptin

What is it? Ghrelin and leptin are a double act that together regulate appetite. Leptin is secreted by fatty tissue and regulates energy by sending a signal to the brain that you are full, while ghrelin, a shorter-acting hormone secreted by the gut, stimulates appetite. Is it out of whack? Research suggests that when you don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels dive, so you don’t feel full after a meal, and ghrelin levels rise, which overstimulates your appetite.

A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that leptin levels decreased by 18 per cent and ghrelin levels increased by 28 per cent when sleep was restricted to four hours per night over two nights. Essentially, when we don’t get enough sleep, we feel hungry, even though we’ve eaten enough.

Quick fix: Keep your ghrelin and leptin levels healthy with good sleep hygiene. Go to bed at roughly the same time each night and get the requisite seven to eight hours of shut-eye.

Cortisol

What is it? When you’re in danger or on high alert – before a big presentation or hot date – the body releases stress hormone cortisol into the bloodstream. It feeds your brain extra oxygen and releases energy from your fat and glucose stores to help you avert the threat or make a good impression on that date. Is it out of whack? Frequent, chronic stress means more cortisol is released into the bloodstream than the body can use. This puts you at increased risk of heart disease, sleep disturbances, depression and obesity.

“If cortisol is elevated for long periods of time, it can promote weight gain,” says dietitian Angela Buntic. “Stress hormones trigger the fight or flight response, making the body’s fuel sources, such as glucose, ready and available for use. However, if you don’t actually use this energy for a physical response, the body stores the released energy as fat, usually around the abdomen, ready for the next threat.”

Quick fix: Take steps to manage the stress in your life, says Sally Symonds, author of 50 Steps To Lose 50kg…and Keep It Off. Eat a healthy diet of fresh fruit and veg, lean meat and wholegrains; practise relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga; enjoy regular exercise; and spend time relaxing with friends away from your stressors.

Oestrogen

What is it? The constant see-sawing of oestrogen and progesterone production keeps the reproductive system running. Oestrogen plays an important role in the menstrual cycle (high levels induce PMS) and pregnancy. It also helps maintain strong bones and may help prevent heart disease. Is it out of whack? Studies suggest oestrogen fluctuations across the female lifespan may help explain our higher prevalence of obesity compared to men.

Low oestrogen is a significant contributor to weight gain in our older years, particularly approaching menopause. In younger women, spiked oestrogen levels can lead to irritability, migraines, depression and a raft of reproductive disorders. “Oestrogen is the culprit for many of our problems, from breast cancer to endometriosis, PMS and cancer of the uterus,” says GP Dr Maura McGill.

“Progesterone can ameliorate the effects of oestrogen gone wild, but if we are chronically short of one hormone, we need to reintroduce the missing hormone in the most natural way possible.”

Quick fix: Avoid oestrogen-induced weight gain in your premenopausal years by eating a wholefood diet and limiting your intake of processed foods. Dr McGill recommends steering clear of high oestrogen foods like chicken and soy products at PMS time.

Source article:

5 hormones that cause weight gain

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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!

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
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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.

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

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Paige Hathaway

Paige Hathaway

1 hour 55 minutes ago

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Paige Hathaway

2 days 14 minutes ago

California L I V I N 🌴✨
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