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10 ways to boost calorie burn at the gym

Trick up your workout with these simple techniques to burn more fat at the gym. 

1. Aim for 3-7 reps
To boost metabolism, you want fewer reps with heavier weights according to the Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education. To maximise calorie burn after your workout (a.k.a. excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC), aim for three to seven reps.

2. Combine loads
While lifting heavy and slow optimises afterburn, there’s something to be said for lighter weights. While they won’t buy you free on-couch calorie burn, researchers at the College of New Jersey say lighter weights may burn more kJs in session. The smart money’s on splicing heavy and light sets – try heavy for three to seven reps and light for 10 to 20. If that’s too easy, do two sets of heavy, two sets of light.

3. Rest less
To elevate calorie burn by around 50 per cent, reduce rest time between sets from three minutes to 30 seconds, suggest College of New Jersey researchers.

4. Go hard or go home
While controlled moves demand more energy than loose ones, don’t take that as a cue to move in slow-mo. Lifting with explosive movements will engage more fast-twitch muscle fibres, which chew through more fuel than their slow-twitch peers according to a study at Ball State University. Choose a weight about 30 per cent of your 1 rep max (1RM), which means one you can lift 15 to 35 times per exercise. Complete four to five sets comprising two fast sets of three to eight reps and two to three at normal speed.

5. Rock the beat
Firing up your Soundcloud before you hit the treadmill is a secret fat-burn weapon. In a study presented to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, those who worked out to their favourite playlist logged greater intensity and fat loss. Listening to tunes correlated with significantly higher reps than silence.

6. Reverse charges
If you usually tack resistance onto the end of a cardio workout, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your fat loss. Fix? Switch the order. According to Japanese researchers, doing resistance before cardio results in greater fat burn. Better news: assuming it’s high intensity, you can cut your cardio to 15 minutes, which is the window in which the burn is highest.

7. Short circuit
To really make your cardio work, chunk it into short stints at near-maximum exertion. Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at 90 per cent of your maximum heart rate (MHR) augmented by stints at walking pace. Most steady-state cardio demands 60 to 70 MHR. Try the 20/10 rule (sprint for 20 seconds, walk or jog for 10).

8. Take a break
Haven’t got the endurance to stay on the bike for 30 minutes? Not an excuse to not work out. In fact, one study found that breaking your cardio into 10-minute bursts broken by 20-minute rests resulted in greater fat burn and higher EPOC.

9. Delay the play
Can’t fathom getting up at the crack of dawn? Good, because you’ll burn more calories per session after work. In a University of Wisconsin study, participants who exercised for half an hour between 5 and 7pm raised metabolic rate more than morning exercisers – as measured by post-workout calorie burn. End-of-day sessions also trumped lunchtime workouts.

10. Ring a bell
Kettlebells can add a serious calorie burn premium to a HIIT workout. The combination of weight load, heart rate elevation and whole-body movement makes kettlebells an all-in-one winner according to exercise physiologist Richard Garard. Try using them in eight 20-second intervals, aiming for maximum swings per round. By round five or six you should be flagging. WARNING: If you’re new to kettlebells, enlist a trainer for a single session to teach you proper form. These things can be dangerous.

10 ways to boost calorie burn at the gym

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Fitness fanatics warned of health risks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fitness fanatics warned of health risks

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