Friday, 3 August 2012

It Comes Down to the “W’s”



By Chris Freytag

Every pro athlete will tell you it’s about the “W’s”. That goes for you too -  don’t forget to celebrate your big and small wins. Each day, give yourself a chance for a “W”. Whether it’s heading to the gym when you don’t feel like it, or selecting a healthy lunch option, take time to congratulate yourself!

Toning Those Trouble Spots

It would be nice if we could choose to lose our trouble spots--take an inch off our inner thighs, a few inches off our waistline. But it simply doesn't work that way. When fat melts off your body, it melts off your overall body, not only in particular areas. And each person's body eliminates body fat differently, depending on a variety of factors such as age, genetics, hormones and intensity of exercise.
Here is the bottom line: You cannot "spot reduce" body fat. You cannot tone fat. You cannot tighten fat. The only way to get rid of extra body fat is the old-fashioned way...through cardiovascular exercise.
However, even though "spot reducing" body fat doesn't work, "spot sculpting" can!  Spot sculpting is focusing on specific muscle groups when strength training. You can pick the exact muscle groups you want to work each day of the week. The trick to spot sculpting is to be realistic about it. If you have overall body fat to lose, you aren't going to see your buff biceps without eliminating the excess insulation.
So the only win-win strategy to work on those trouble spots is to make your routine a combination of two important elements: cardio exercise for body fat reduction and a consistent strength training program to tone and sculpt your muscles. Work on them simultaneously for best results. 

Train for Running Success

Attention runners! Want to run stronger, faster and with more ease? The only answer isn’t more mileage. If you really want to improve your endurance and performance, you should also engage in weight training and plyometric exercises.The explosive nature of the plyometric exercises and the resistance of the strength exercises have been proved to increase running speed and economy by nearly 5 percent. Now that’s worth replacing some of those miles with!

Power of Pilates

If you are under the impression that crunches are the best way to tone up your abs, you may want to keep reading. Pilates isn’t only a secret for flattening the abs of Hollywood stars, everyday folks are reaping the benefits of a focused mat Pilates workout. 
Take a look at the “flat out” truth….Through a technique called “electromyography”, Auburn University researchers determined that 10 repetitions of the Pilates roll-up, hundred or double-leg stretch exercises activated the deepest abdominal muscles (i.e. transversus abdominis and internal obliques) better than 10 regular crunches. 
Joseph Pilates said, “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality of the movement.” By making Pilates part of your routine, you may firm up faster. Be sure you find a Pilates instructor to show you the ropes or try a well instructed DVD or class . 

Bye Bye Belly Fat!

One of the most common complaints of women over 40 is that despite their best efforts to exercise consistently and eat properly, their mid-section is expanding. Truth be told, our bodies change as we get older.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Like the old saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  A University of Virginia study found that middle-aged women who exercised at a higher intensity for 16 weeks lost more abdominal fat than those who exercised at a low intensity. 
The low intensity group performed at 50-60% of their maximum effort, mainly through walking. The high intensity group took it up a notch and did a program of walking and jogging. Bottom line, a little extra effort may go a long way. 
High intensity exercise can be performed in intervals to help your body adapt. Start with 30 seconds of jogging followed by 2-3 minute of walking. Keep repeating throughout your workout. Increase the jogging intervals gradually over the course of a few weeks. Your increased intensity and elevated heart rate will result in more calories burned and a smaller waist line. This is good news for your belly and ultimately for your heart. 

About the Author

Chris Freytag is a health and fitness expert, blogger, author and motivational speaker. She has been teaching fitness classes and personal training for over 20 years. She is a contributing editor for Prevention Magazine; the fitness contributor for the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis; and sits on the Board of Directors for the American Council on Exercise.
Chris has authored 5 books; has created dozens of fitness DVD's; is a top trainer for Exercise TV; and sells her signature line of healthy kitchen and fitness products on QVC. Visit Chris' website, www.chrisfreytag.com, and Facebook page for more information.