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Archive for the ‘core strength’ Category

Many people establish an exercise routine to get into better physical shape. Beyond appearances, though, exercise benefits the mind and body in myriad ways you can’t see in the mirror (or in a selfie). Twenty minutes per day is all you need to reap these benefits of exercise!

Tiffiny Marinelli, Energy in Motion

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8295214_XXLMorning, midday or midnight — when’s the best time to work out?

Well, that depends on when’s the best time for you.

“The best time of the day is when you will do it most consistently, because the benefits of physical activity are tightly linked to the amount you do on a consistent basis,” said Russell Pate, Ph.D., professor of exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Your best time is based on a “constellation” of factors:

  • location,
  • time of day,
  • type of physical activity and
  • social setting, among others.

“It’s not just what time, but what activity, with whom and where,” said Pate, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer. “This mix of factors for people come together to result in being consistent.”

Everybody’s Different

“Different people will have different preferences and predispositions with regard to how they respond to exercise at different times of the day,” Pate said.

For example, if you’re much more likely to work out consistently with a partner, “then you’re better off to opt for a social part regardless of the time of day,” Pate said. “On the other hand, some people like the solitude, the chance to get away.”

You might have heard that the best time to work out is early in the morning — to get your metabolism revving or to avoid unexpected distractions during the day that could derail your regimen. “Are there differences in working out at different times of the day? Maybe. But those differences would be minor compared to the overall effect of doing it consistently,” Pate said.

“If you’re not a morning person, it does no good for you to try to get up at 5 in the morning to work out,” he said. “Try to stack as many cards on your side of the table as possible by doing what’s most likely to work for you. The converse is, don’t make it as hard as it doesn’t have to be.”

Fit in Fitness

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. But what if you’re tight on time? Then, be creative and break up your activity into daily bouts of 3-10-minute increments.

For example:

  • In the morning, park 10 minutes away from the job and walk briskly.
  • At lunch, walk 10 minutes in or around where you work.
  • In the afternoon/evening, walk briskly 10 minutes back to your vehicle.

And there you have a 30-minute workout!

“Accumulation across the day doesn’t have to be performed in one bout, but can be across the day,” Pate said. “More is better, but we’re absolutely certain even modest amounts are much better than being sedentary.” And remember, “exercise” is any kind of physical activity that gets your heart rate up for at least 10 minutes at a time.

So get moving — at the time that’s right for you!

Source: When is the best time of day to work out?

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Fitness Fusion Classes in Whippany NJ

Burn calories and have fun doing it! Join us for our next Fitness Fusion session beginning Sept 18th at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey. Classes are modified for all levels even if you’re just starting. Regardless of your workout style or fitness level, this class offers something fun and challenging for everyone.

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pilatesThere’s so much confusion and “mythology” surrounding how and when to train your abdominal muscles. I hear the same questions from clients all the time: Should I train my abs daily? Are there specific exercises to include in my program? How many repetitions or time should I complete? How can I target my lower abs? And the list goes on. 
 
The main abdominal muscles consist of the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and transverse abdominis. These muscles are just like any other muscles of the body – after exercise, they need time to recover. During exercise, especially strength training, you’re breaking down muscle tissue. For about two days following your workout, the muscles repair and rebuild. This rebuilding process is when muscles become stronger and more efficient. Recovery time is just as important as (if not more important) than the time you spend working out. Training the abdominal muscles 2-3 times per week, on alternating days, is all you need. 
 
So now that you know to rest in-between workouts, what abdominal exercises should you include? There are two basic types: 1) exercises that require movement of the core through a range of motion – called mobility, and 2) exercises that require your trunk to remain stationary – called stability. Oblique crunches and reverse curls are mobility exercises while plank and supine leg raises are stability exercises. Both types are important for daily functional movements such as carrying a box, sitting in a chair, standing (each requiring core stability) and tasks such as picking up a bag, shoveling snow, gardening, or anything requiring movement of the core (mobility). 
 
Keep in mind that exercising the abdominal muscles, including reverse crunches, will not help you lose body fat in the abdominal area. You’re working the muscle, not the fat. Genetics determine where you will trim off the inches, so as I always say – thank your parents. There is also no such thing as “lower abs.” When performing exercises such as reverse curls or leg raises you are working the entire rectus abdominis. The difference between exercises such as the crunch and reverse curl is that you are working the same muscle just at different angles. 
 
Exercises that target the lower abdominal area often involve raising the legs, putting a large amount of stress on the lower back. The further your feet are from your body during these moves, the greater the torque (stress) on your lower back. Here are three things you can do to build core strength and prevent this pain.
  1. Include lower back exercises such as supermans and back extensions that strengthen the spinal erector muscles.
  2. When performing a move like a reverse crunch, do not fully extend your legs – stop just before you feel your lower back engage.
  3. Some abdominal exercises can be performed in a dip station or captains chair. Going vertical instead of horizontal will reduce forces on the lower back.
Working out the entire core, especially the back muscles is just as important as working out the abdominals. Strengthening opposing muscle groups is important to prevent any musculature imbalances, so make sure to include this in your workout.

Related Articles:

  1. The Science of Muscle Symmetry
  2. Reducing the Appearance of Cellulite: Do Body Wraps or Expensive Creams Really Work?
  3. Burning Fat: Myths and Facts
 © 2013 Tiffiny Marinelli, Energy in Motion LLC

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Breathing… we do it every day without being consciously aware of how we do it. Yet the act of inhaling and exhaling during exercise is sometimes confusing to people. Exercise such as strength training requires a steady flow of oxygen. Proper breathing techniques provide your muscles with optimum levels of oxygen, help prevent injury and reduce your risk of high blood pressure induced by lifting weights (called the valsalva maneuver). The pace of your breath can provide rhythm for your strength training repititions while helping to stabilize your core. Generally you want to exhale, or breath out, during the concentric (or muscle shortening) phase of the exercise, which aids in supporting your core and generation force. For example, while doing a biceps curl, breathe out when you bend your elbow and raise the weight then inhale during the relaxation (or eccentric) phase when you lower the weight. And don’t lose focus on your breathing after your set is complete. Slowing your breath as you rest is another great method to help you relax and recover from exercise.

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Based on electromyographic (EMG) activity recorded during the performance of various abdominal exercises (e.g., crunches, reverse curls, leg lifts), the upper and lower rectus abdominis act as one muscle group. Despite the common misconception, data shows that it’s not possible to recruit the “upper” and “lower” abdominal muscles separately. Part of the confusion is the fact that during certain abdominal exercises (e.g., reverse curls, leg lifts), people experience localized muscle fatigue and discomfort in the lower abdominal region. This occurs because the primary muscle used in hip flexion, the iliopsoas, originates below the lower portion of the rectus abdominis. The key point to keep in mind is that the feeling of local muscle fatigue and discomfort should not be misinterpreted as specific recruitment of “lower” abdominal muscles.

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Curso de Instructor de PilatesImage via Wikipedia

Pilates Primer
Are you wondering what all the fuss over Pilates is about? Used traditionally by dancers for deep-body conditioning and injury rehabilitation, Pilates (pronounced Pi-lah-teez) is an 80-year-old exercise technique first developed by German immigrant Joseph Pilates. Only in the past decade has it migrated from its long-held position at the fringes of traditional fitness methods such as aerobics and weight training. Hollywood has been a key factor in turning the spotlight on Pilates, as numerous models and actresses pay homage to Pilates for their beautifully toned, fit bodies.

Focusing on the Core
The abdominal, hip and back muscles are often collectively referred to as the body’s core. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen this core by developing pelvic stability and abdominal control. In addition, the exercises improve flexibility and joint mobility and build strength. How can one exercise technique claim to do so much? The Reformer, a wooden contraption with various cables, pulleys, springs and sliding boards attached, lies at the foundation of Pilates. Primarily using one’s own body weight as resistance, participants are put through a series of progressive, range-of-motion exercises. Despite the appearance of this and several other equally unusual-looking devices, Pilates exercises are very low impact. Instructors, who typically work one-on-one or with small groups of two or three participants, offer reminders to engage the abdominals, the back, the upper legs and buttocks to stabilize the body’s core. Exercise sessions are designed according to individual flexibility and strength limitations.

Pilates exercises are not limited to specialized machines, however. In fact, many gyms across the country now offer Pilates mat-based classes that feature exercises that also stress the stabilization and strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles.

Connecting With Pilates
The mind/body connection associated with yoga and meditation also plays an integral part in Pilates. Unlike exercise techniques that emphasize numerous repetitions in a single direction, Pilates exercises are performed with very few, but extremely precise, repetitions in several planes of motion.

What will all this focus and stabilization get you? Well, according to its adherents, Pilates can help you develop long, strong muscles, a flat stomach and a strong back, and improve posture. Of course, these changes are dependent upon other lifestyle factors, such as a well-balanced diet and regular aerobic exercise. (Though some may claim that Pilates is all you need to develop stamina and endurance as well, an additional cardiovascular component is advisable.)

An initial Pilates session typically includes a body assessment, which allows the instructor to pinpoint strength and flexibility weak spots. This is also the time to become familiar with Pilates’ unique breathing patterns, which don’t always follow the exhale-on-exertion pattern of traditional exercise. Sessions typically run 60 minutes, at a cost of $50 or more for private sessions, and $10 to $30 for group sessions. If you’re more comfortable exercising at home, there are numerous Pilates and Pilates-type videos currently available.

Several home versions of the Reformer also are currently available on the market. Whether you work out at a studio or on your living room floor, Pilates is an excellent way to challenge your muscles, improve flexibility and incorporate the mind/body element into one effective exercise session.

Additional Resources
American Council on Exercise—Pilates Mat Training by Shirley Archer: http://www.acefitness.org/acestore/p-290-pilates-mat-training.aspxWebMD Video—Yoga Pilates Studies: www.webmd.com/video/yoga-pilates-studies

Selecting a Pilates Instructor

  • Finding a fitness instructor who is a good match for your goals and personality can be challenging. The Pilates Method Alliance suggests asking the following questions of any instructor with whom you are considering working.
  • Was the instructor trained through a comprehensive training program?
  • Did that training program require a written and practical test, lecture, observation, practice and apprentice hours?
  • How many total hours were spent in the training program? (The Pilates Method is a knowledge-based method of exercise and training. Time spent in certification training produces qualified teachers.)
  • Does the instructor have any other movement-related teaching experience?
  • How long has the instructor been teaching Pilates?
  • What is the instructor or studio’s philosophy and specialty? Are they able to handle special needs, injuries and rehabilitation?
  • Does the instructor or studio teach the full repertoire of Pilates on all types of apparatus?


ACE Fit Facts Reprinted with Permission.

Pilates Primer – Mind/Body – FitFacts – American Council On Exercise(ACE)

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