Saturday, 21 March 2015

Cardio vs. Weightlifting: How To Use Both To Reach Your Summer Body Goal

Summer is right around the corner, which means your gym is probably packed to the gills with people who put off their New Year’s resolution until the weather got a little warmer. As you get your own beach body ready for the warm summer months, you may be wondering where you should place the majority of your focus: cardio or weightlifting. Before you decide which type of activity your workout routine will emphasize, it's best to know how much goes into this decision.

Cardio and weightlifting are an integral part of any successful fitness program, along with nutrition, of course. Balancing cardio with weightlifting is a tricky endeavor. It generally comes down to tailoring the amount of cardio you do to the amount of weightlifting. The effect cardio or weightlifting has on your physique is dependent on a variety of factors, including how much cardio or weightlifting, what types of cardio or weightlifting, what you’re eating, what your fitness goals are, and your body type.

“Running, cycling, and aerobic classes are examples of cardio,” Donovan Green, celebrity fitness trainer and author of No Excuses Fitness, told Medical Daily. “Cardio aka cardiovascular exercise gets your heart rate up and gets more oxygen pumping through your blood. There are big health benefits regarding cardio training, including improved circulation, it increases bone density, improves sleep, reduces anxiety, and gives you increased energy. With strength training, you are switching on more of your muscle fibres and raising your metabolism so there's more active tissue in your body. You are burning calories when sitting down after your workout.”
Weight Loss

If you’re thinking about foregoing any weightlifting or resistance training while focusing solely on cardio, then check out the physique of any long-distance runner and you’ll see what road you’re heading down. For anyone looking to take the opposite approach by foregoing cardio, don’t expect to meet any weight loss goals, especially if your body type is endomorph, meaning your body retains fat and has a harder time dropping it.

Finding the correct balance between cardio and weightlifting is all about experimentation. For example, start off with four days a week dedicated to an hour of weightlifting and the remaining three days dedicated to 30 minutes of cardio. Tailor this routine to how much energy you’re expending each day, your progress after around a month, and what you would like the final result to be.

A recent study conducted at the Duke University Medical Center revealed that a healthy combination of aerobic and resistance training is the best formula for reducing body fat and increasing lean body mass. Out of 234 formerly sedentary overweight and obese adults, those assigned to the aerobic plus resistance training group were able to not lose more weight, while also gaining more lean body mass.
Building Muscle

One of the most common misconceptions every gym rat struggles with is the notion that cardio will diminish the effect of strength training by hindering muscle growth. People with an ectomorph body type, someone with a naturally slim physique who finds losing weight easier than most, are often fooled into abandoning cardio due to this rationale. While the amount of cardio needed to lose weight is clearly more than the amount needed to build muscle, cardio is still necessary to build your ideal physique.

Deciding on a healthy medium between too much and too little cardio leads most fitness fanatics to one of the hottest exercise crazes today: high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Instead of jogging around a track for an hour at a moderate pace, alternate between intense periods of activity and slower recovery intervals. HIIT is heralded for kicking up your body’s ability to burn calories during a workout as well as when the body is resting, also known as “afterburn.”

“Another great benefit of weight training is you can get two for the price of one,” Green added. “Doing circuit training with weights will not only boost your strength it will also increase your cardiovascular system. A quick example would be deadlifts, front squats, benchpress, and lat pulls. Complete each move for 30 seconds. And repeat for a total of four rounds.”
Heart Health

Of course, being physically active isn’t always about shaping the perfect beach body. Sometimes a workout plan is necessary to improve or preserve a person’s cardiovascular health. Cardio may be short for cardiovascular, but strength training still has its place in any heart healthy workout plan. In fact, too much cardio could potentially have a damaging effect on the heart.

Research published in the European Heart Journal measured the cardiac enzymes and conduct ultrasounds on 40 long-distance runners who had recently competed in four endurance races. After each long-distance competition runners often suffered from right ventricular (RV) dysfunction, increased blood levels of cardiac enzymes — often a marker for heart problems — and 12 percent of runners even experienced scar tissue in their heart muscle that discovered a week after the race via MRI.

“Cardio in the light to moderate intensity range stimulates the body to increase overall blood volume, thereby increasing the amount of red blood cells if the behavior is maintained for over a month (the time it takes to remake blood cells),” Joey Gochnour, registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer, told Medical Daily. “It is helpful for reducing blood pressure acutely. Cardio in the light to moderate intensity range also creates adaptations in the peripheral cardiovascular system, such as increasing capillary density and overall efficient circulation.”

More Here:

Monday, 23 February 2015

Five ways to lose the last few kilos

When you first started to overhaul your food and fitness habits, you were slimming down faster than a new celebrity mum. But now that you're getting closer to your goal, the scale is no longer cooperating. What gives?

Part of the problem is that bigger bodies burn more calories, so the smaller you get, the harder you have to work in order to drop weight. But that doesn't mean you have to starve or kill yourself at the gym to lose more fat.

We called up US celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak (responsible for slim-downs such as Jessica Simpson's) to find out how to push past your plateau and finally reach your weight-loss goal. Here are the 5 Pounds author's top five tips for losing those last few kilos...


Yes - you read that right. There's, of course, nothing wrong with intense workouts, but if you're focused solely on traditional exercise, you may be getting less activity than you think.

"There are 168 hours in the week," Pasternak said. "So if you're exercising for only three of those, then there are 165 hours of the week that you're not active – sitting at your desk, sitting in the car, sitting at dinner. That shows you the importance of staying on the move all the time – not just during spin class." Pasternak's recommendation? Invest in a fitness tracker.

"I tell all my clients to get a Fitbit to monitor how much (or how little) they move throughout the day," he said. "There are several studies that show that people who take at least 10,000 steps a day have more success losing weight than people who actually go to the gym."


You've heard it before, and Harley will say it again: Getting quality sleep is essential if you want to stay slim and happy. In fact, in a recent study from Columbia University, scientists found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are heavier, gain more weight over time and have a harder time losing weight than those who log more than seven hours of shuteye.

Pasternak recommends aiming for seven to eight hours per night, since research has linked spending too much time in bed to a higher BMI, as well. But we all know that can be much easier said than done.

"There are so many reasons we have intermittent sleep, or don't get enough sleep, or have trouble falling asleep," Pasternak said.


"If you're talking about doing exhaustive, long aerobic bouts – like running a marathon or half-marathon – then pre- and post-exercise nutrition is more important," Pasternak said. "But for regular exercise under 90 minutes, you're not going to deal with severe glycogen depletion or blood sugar fluctuations."

If you're hungry and low on energy, then by all means eat a pre-workout snack, but don't force extra calories because you think you need them.

"I tell people who are exercising just to look and feel good, to plan your three meals and two snacks a day, and then put your workouts in wherever you want," Pasternak said. "And make sure that whatever meal or snack happens to follow your workout contains good quality protein – like from a balanced smoothie – to help your muscles recover."

And unless you're going hard for more than an hour, definitely don't consume calories during you workout: "You're in the gym trying to expend calories, and you'll end up putting calories back in faster than you're even burning them," Pasternak said.


"Many people found the original, very-low-carb version of the Atkins diet to be radical and too extreme, but in its essence, it told an important message that the key to slimming down is really just getting rid of the sugar," Pasternak said. "And though a strict low-carb diet may be difficult to follow for most of us, the messaging was right."

Added sugars have been linked not only to obesity, but also to diabetes, heart disease and even death.

"I recommend keeping an eye on your carbs if you're trying to slim down, and one easy way to ensure your diet isn't too carb-heavy is to ditch the sweets and processed grains," Pasternak said.


For one, you may be pursuing an unhealthy ideal and don't really have that weight to lose. But even if you do need to shed a little more fat to be healthy, the best way to get to your happy weight is to focus on your health, not the scale.

"I'll never forget that when I moved to the US from Canada, and I had to get health insurance, the insurance companies were charging me a premium because according to the height-weight charts, I was morbidly obese," Pasternak said. "I was 5-foot-11 and weighed 235 [106kg], and according to the charts, I was 56 pounds [25kg] overweight - I was lean and healthy, but I just had a lot of muscle mass, which weighs more than fat."

So how can you stay on track without weighing yourself? Focus on your habits, not the number. Pasternak recommends making some daily health goals and asking yourself every night if you've completed them.

"If you can answer yes, then that's success, because you have direct control over your behaviours, whereas you don't have direct control over the scale," he said. "You're hoping that your healthy behaviors will show up on the scale, and quite often they do, but not necessarily on our schedule."

And as long as you're feeling better and looking better, what does it matter what the number says?

"When I use the term 'five pounds,' it's more of a symbolic five pounds," Pasternak said of the title of his book. "It's like, you want to look five pounds lighter, you want to feel five pounds lighter, you want to move five pounds lighter – but that doesn't necessarily always equate to the scale being five pounds lighter."

- Do you have any tips to share?

Read more here:

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Five life principles to live long, lean and strong

Five life principles to live long, lean and strong

Work up a hunger
This principle has its origin in Stoic philosophy. Seneca proposed that each day a man should work to hunger in order to deserve and appreciate his first meal of the day. Nowadays this is a pretty good endorsement for intermittent fasting. It allows you to keep your natural growth hormone active for far longer, making staying lean easier.

Lift things
The benefits of weight training are not just superficial as it is how you get a muscular physique. But resistance training is also great for heart health and avoiding a slew of degenerative diseases. Regular strength training is also the key to ageing gracefully. It will allow you to keep your muscle mass and help slow the hands of time.

Eat natural food
Eat food that is as close to nature intended as possible. If it can’t be reasonably easily explained to someone who has just walked out of the rainforest for the first time, chances are it’s too far removed from its original form to have kept much of its nutrition. Go for vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, fish and lean meats. Avoid processed foods.

Daily juice
Forming the habit of a daily juice fix is about the best way to pack a huge hit of vitamins and minerals into your diet. This can have a positive effect on energy levels, anti-ageing and prevention of a host of illness and diseases.

Sleep optimising
We’re not talking about just getting your head down at night. It’s about creating the right environment to really get the best quality of sleep. Invest in a decent mattress that is right for your spine. Get quality sheets, keep room temperature low and aim to block out sound and light at night. Sleep quality is often neglected but in my experience poor sleep holds your fitness back more than a bad diet or lacklustre training.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Most Americans Have Access to 'Exercise Opportunities,' Study Finds

More than three-quarters of Americans live close to at least one park or recreational facility, giving many people opportunity to exercise, a new study finds.
But access to exercise sites varies regionally, the nationwide study found. "Not everyone had equal access to opportunities for exercise," said study researcher Anne Roubal, a project assistant at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in Madison.
"Southern regions did much worse than the rest of the country," Roubal said. "In the Northeast, most counties have very high access."
Access to exercise opportunity is considered crucial for Americans to get regular physical activity, and in the process lower their risk for premature death and chronic health conditions, the researchers said.
"If we provide people more access to those locations, it is going to increase the chances they will be active," Roubal said.
Currently, less than half of U.S. adults meet recommendations for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity: 150 minutes or more weekly of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise or a combination of the two, the study noted.
Roubal's team defined access to exercise opportunity as living close to a park, gym, recreational center, skating rink or pool, she said. If people lived a half-mile from a park or one mile from a recreational facility in urban areas, or three miles in rural areas, they were considered to have access to exercise opportunities.
Data on bike trails was not available, Roubal said.
For the study, published in the January issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, the investigators calculated the percentage of residents with access to exercise opportunities in nearly all U.S. counties.
The researchers used 2012 data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program ranks states on health outcomes and potential health based on measures such as diet and exercise. This is the first time access to exercise opportunities was included, Roubal said.
Seventy-seven percent of the U.S. population had access to some site for physical activity, the study found. However, "some counties have zero percent access," Roubal said. "There is room for improvement."
After the Northeast, opportunities to exercise were highest in the West, Midwest, Southwest and Southeast, in that order.
By state, access differed from 46 percent in Mississippi to 91 percent in Maryland, the study revealed.
The findings make sense to Susan Babey, a senior research scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Health Policy Research, who wasn't involved in the study.
Babey said she has done research in California on access to exercise opportunities for youth, and found that about 75 percent lived near a park -- defined as within a half-mile if it was an acre or more, a quarter-mile for smaller parks.
The recent recession has made it challenging to increase access to exercise opportunities, she said, noting some communities have talked of closing parks because of budget constraints. "Things are starting to get better," Babey said.
For those who don't live close to parks or other recreational facilities, Babey and Roubal offered some tips.
"In terms of being active, try to find someplace safe to just go for a walk," Babey said. Brief bouts of activity add up, such as parking far from a store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, she suggested.
Roubal added, "Any activity is better than none. Even if it's walking up and down your stairs for 10 minutes." She also suggested meeting with neighbors and forming a walking group.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Is your personal trainer lying to you?

Personal trainers know what they're talking about, right? Well, not always.

For most people, having a personal trainer is the dream. That's why celebrities manage to look so good all the time, right? Well actually, maybe not. Apparently there are a few tips the experts love to dish out that might not be that on point. Want to know more? Well, here we go.
Whether you love them or loathe them, these are the key to getting a rounded butt and lean thighs. But there's a right way to do them, which includes not going past a 90 degree angle. Well, that's what they tell you anyway. This is supposed to protect your knees, but according to Chris Fox of CrossFit South Brooklyn it might do the opposite. He tells that 90 degrees is the moment when there is the most force on the knee joint, which could lead to problems. Instead he recommends going down lower, because that gets the hamstrings involved, which stabilises you and also makes your stronger.
Hands up: who's spent hours crunching in the hope of developing a six pack? Well according to Chris, you've been wasting your time. No amount of exercise is going to make your muscles shine through if you're eating badly, because there will be a layer of fat covering them. So the good news is you might actually already have perfect abs under there! But you'll need to reconsider what you shove into your mouth if you want to show them off.
Sorry, we're not saying there's no need to get sweaty at the gym. But if you're looking to drop the pounds, simply pounding the treadmill isn't going to be enough. Chris suggests diet, once again, is vital if you want to see a change in your body. Apart from anything, some types of cardio can cause the hormone that controls your metabolism to reduce, meaning fat is piled on quickly. So it's important to eat a balanced diet too - training isn't going to cut it if you're purging on sugar every night.
No pain, no gain... right? Wrong. While it's obviously good to push yourself, you have to know your limits too. Lifting super heavy weights could cause muscle strain and you'll feel light-headed if you do hardcore cardio when you're not used to it. An injury will set your gym routine back weeks too, so we recommend trying hard but listening to your body too.
Many think that pounding the treadmill at the gym is safer than hitting the pavement. It's long been claimed it's easier on the knees, but that's not true. Todd Schlifstein, DO, a clinical instructor at New York University Medical Center's Rusk Institute tells that it's the force of your body weight that might cause stress on your joints. Obviously that doesn't change, no matter where you're working out. Get the best out of your exercise by varying it, rather than sticking to running each time.
This type of exercise continues to have a moment, and for many it is the perfect low-impact way to workout. But it's not true that all back pain can be cured with it. Certainly it's great for tense muscles and can help strengthen your core, but Todd explains if you have something more serious - such as a disc problem - you might actually do more harm than good. Best to check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A 15-Minute Plyometrics Workout For Cardio And Power

A good workout doesn't require tons of equipment, or even tons of time. Plyometric movements, which focus on speed, agility and explosive power, can give you major bang for you buck when you've only got a few minutes to spare. The secret? Targeting your whole body (legs, chest, back, arms and core), while boosting your heart rate with gravity-defying moves. Plus, when you're giving all-out effort with high-intensity intervals, you'll burn more calories than with steady state cardio (like a long-distance run).
"There is nothing as effective or energizing as plyometrics," says DailyBurn trainer Anja Garcia, who turns to the fat-blasting protocol when she needs maximum results in a short amount of time. But it's not just trending in fitness studios: Athletes have used plyometrics, or jump training, for years to increase speed and power, since jumping exercises require agility and control.
When you can't make it to the gym, keep it simple with Garcia's go-to 15-minute workout. Jog in place for one minute to warm up your muscles and then hop to it! Complete exercises one through five for 30 seconds each, and rest for 30 seconds at the end of each round. See if you can hang for five rounds total -- that's just 15 minutes of work!
1. Tuck Jumps
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Explode off the balls of your feet and bring your knees up to meet your hands out in front of you, heels to your butt. Land with control before launching right back up into your next jump.
2. Plyo Pushups
How to: Get into a plank position, with your hands on the ground directly under your shoulders. Lower down like you're doing a pushup. At the bottom, use your power to push back up so your upper body shoots up explosively, and your hands leave the ground. When you land, maintain control in your arms and immediately begin lowering into your next pushup. Want to take it to the next level? Try clapping your hands while you're airborne.
3. Power Knee Drives
How to: Start in a front lunge position, with your front knee bent at 90-degrees and your opposite arm bent in front of your chest, like a sprinter. Drive the back knee up and explode off the standing leg, using your arms to help propel you up off the floor. Return to the starting position and continue for 15 seconds on one side, and then switch legs.
4. Skaters
How to: Start by standing upright and balancing on your right foot. Jump laterally to the left, landing on your left foot with the left knee bent. From here, you should be in speed skater position, crouched down and balancing on the left leg with the right leg extended diagonally behind you. Quickly leap back to the right, landing on your right foot, and continue back and forth, keeping up a quick rhythm.
5. Burpees
How to: From standing, jump up and reach as high as you can with your hands. When you land, immediately squat down, place your hands on the floor, and quickly jump your feet back so you are in a plank position. Touch your chest to the floor and then hop your feet under you to start it all over again!

By Alex Orlov for Life by DailyBurn

Sunday, 16 November 2014

8 tips for a healthier Thanksgiving this year

Once a year, some of us take that extra serving of stuffing and end up stuffing ourselves a little too full. The average American consumes about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving—that’s about three times the calories than our bodies need.
This Thanksgiving, you don't have to be so quick to throw out your healthy eating habits. There are simple, healthy ways to enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving flavors without having to unbutton your pants at the table.
Tip #1: Stay away from pre-dinner snacking. Those calories from those chips, crackers, nuts, and cheese add up fast. Cutting out these snacks can save you about 400 calories.
Tip #2: Look up the nutritional value of your favorite foods prior to your meal. Jesica Leon, a undergraduate student at Roosevelt University, said her favorite food for Thanksgiving is a dessert called buñuelo, which has about 6 g of protein per serving. Foods with protein can make you feel fuller and eat less. Knowing what's in your food may help you decide how much of it should be on your plate.
Tip #3: Modify traditional recipes to reduce calories and add nutritional value.
RU undergraduate student Tiffani Everett's must-have on Thanksgiving is stuffing. Stuffing can be modified to be healthier by subbing out bread and replacing it with whole-grain rice or quinoa.
Tip #4: Think about how you'll feel tomorrow. Eating unhealthy can make us feeling bloated, tired and regretting our food choices the next day. Treat your body nicely and nourish it properly.
Tip #5: Don't go for seconds (or thirds, or fourths, etc.). The food might taste delicious, but a “taste” of each dish is really all you need. Box up the leftovers and save it for the rest of the week—you could have a turkey sandwich for lunch on Monday.
Tip #6: Have bread or dessert but not both. Think about it: do you want 160 calories from a dinner roll, or a small piece of pumpkin pie?
Tip #7: Drink water. Water is calorie-free and can make you feel fuller, faster. By choosing to drink water instead of juice, beer, wine, or other beverages, you lower your calorie intake and help your body flush out toxins. Most of the traditional Thanksgiving foods are packed with sodium, which can dehydrate your body. Drinking water will help keep your body hydrated.
Tip #8: Don’t feel the need to eat everything on your plate. If you’re not hungry anymore, stop eating. There’s no need to stuff your body if you’ve already had enough to eat. In order to prevent you from over-serving yourself, try placing your food on the plate so that nothing touches--doing this will make you have to take smaller portions.
Thanksgiving is for giving thanks and blessings, and if part of that thanks for you is having a "cheat day" from eating healthy—then go for it.