What Are the Benefits of Pushups for Women?

The pushup is an exercise that works almost every part of your body. You don’t need any equipment or a gym membership. The pushup uses the body’s weight working against gravity to strengthen muscles. A woman who does push-ups can strengthen her chest, firm and tone her arms and stabilize her core, or abdominal, muscles. Your legs and buttocks will also grow stronger and leaner since your legs help support the weight of your body when performing pushups.


Upper Body

Women have less upper body strength and muscle mass than men. Pushups strengthen a woman’s forearms, the biceps and those hard-to-tone triceps on the back of the arms. The pectoral, or chest, muscles are also strengthened for a more firm breast area. The shoulders and upper back get a challenging workout because you must raise and lower your body using your arms, shoulders and upper back muscles. You can adjust the position of your hands on the floor to focus more energy on your chest or shoulders.

Core Stability

Core stability is your ability to control the movement and posture of your torso. Exercises that strengthen the core muscles improve the stability of your body. Women who do pushups will experience core strengthening, which stabilizes the core for better posture and balance. Pushups work a woman’s abdominal muscles without twisting or moving the spine. Your spine remains stable throughout the exercise so that strengthening is focused on the arms, chest, upper back and core. Squeeze your abs tight when doing pushups for a thorough workout of your core muscles.

Types of Pushups

Women can perform pushups in different ways so that everyone from beginners to athletes can benefit from the muscle-strengthening power of the exercise. As a beginner, you will benefit from doing wall pushups for a few weeks. Stand an arm’s-length away from the wall and place your palms flat on the wall about shoulder-width apart. Lean in toward the wall by bending your elbows and then push your body back away from the wall. Knee pushups are a good way to transition from wall pushups to the full, regular pushup. Start on your hands and knees and lower your body down and then push back up with your arms. Women may then transition to a full pushup when the upper body is stronger. Perform the full pushup with your body stretched out straight on the floor. Support the weight of your body on your hands and toes as you lower your body down and push back up. Start with 10 repetitions of each level of difficulty.

Warm Up and Stretch

Before exercising, it’s essential that you warm up your muscles to reduce the risk of injury. Warming up increases your circulation, loosens tight joints and helps prepare your muscles for more strenuous exercise. Warm up with some light exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace or slow jogging. Perform some calisthenics, such as jumping jacks or jump rope for five minutes. Next, stretch the muscles of your arms, shoulders, back and chest prior to performing push-ups. Keep your back straight when doing push-ups. Don’t allow your back to sway downward or arch upward. After exercising, cool down the same way you warmed up. Start by walking for five minutes or until your heart rate returns to normal. Stretch your muscles to help remove the lactic acid that can cause muscle soreness.






original post found here: http://woman.thenest.com/benefits-pushups-women-1209.html

6 Ways Running Improves Your Health

Running is not only great for the soul but good for your health.


You’ve probably heard it said that exercise is medicine. Well, it’s not just a saying; it’s the truth. There’s a raft of scientific evidence that proves that regular exercise (150 minutes per week, which is about 30 minutes five times per week)—and running in particular—has health benefits that extend well beyond any pill a doctor could prescribe. Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions. What’s more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life, and even helps you live longer. Here’s how:

1. Running makes you happier.
If you’ve been working out regularly, you’ve already discovered it: No matter how good or bad you feel at any given moment, exercise will make you feel better. And it goes beyond just the “runner’s high”—that rush of feel-good hormones known as endocannabinoids. In a 2006 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that even a single bout of exercise—30 minutes of walking on a treadmill—could instantly lift the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order. In a May 2013 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in which rats and mice got antidepressant-like effects from running on a wheel, researchers concluded that physical activity was an effective alternative to treating depression.

And even on those days when you have to force yourself out the door, exercise still protects you against anxiety and depression, studies have shown. Moderate exercise may help people cope with anxiety and stress even after they’re done working out, according to a 2012 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise. A 2012 study in theJournal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.

Ever heard someone call running their “drug”? Well, apparently, it actually is pretty similar. A 2007 study in Physiological Behavior showed that running causes the same kind of neurochemical adaptations in brain reward pathways that also are shared by addictive drugs.

2. Running helps you get skinnier.
You know that exercises burns calories while you’re working out. The bonus is that when you exercise, the burn continues after you stop. Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts “afterburn”—that is, the number of calories you burn after exercise. (Scientists call this EPOC, which stands for excess post oxygen consumption.) That’s kind of like getting a paycheck even after you retire.

And you don’t have to be sprinting at the speed of sound to get this benefit. This happens when you’re exercising at an intensity that’s about 70 percent of VO2 max. (That’s a little faster than your easy pace, and a little slower than marathon pace.)

3.Running strengthens your knees (and your other joints and bones, too).
It’s long been known that running increases bone mass, and even helps stem age-related bone loss. But chances are, you’ve had family, friends, and strangers warn you that “running is bad for your knees.” Well, science has proven that it’s not. In fact, studies show that running improves knee health, according to Boston University researcher David Felson in an interview with National Public Radio.

“We know from many long-term studies that running doesn’t appear to cause much damage to the knees,” Felson said. “When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don’t find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don’t find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected.”

4. Running will keep you sharper, even as you age.
Worried about “losing it” as you get older? Working out regularly will help you stay “with it.” A December 2012 study published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review concluded that the evidence is insurmountable that regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory.

Studies consistently found that fitter older adults scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers. What’s more, in stroke patients, regular exercise improves memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems by almost 50%. The research team found “significant improvements” in overall brain function at the conclusion of the program, with the most improvement in attention, concentration, planning, and organizing.

5. Running reduces your risk of cancer.
Maybe running doesn’t cure cancer, but there’s plenty of proof that it helps prevent it. A vast review of 170 epidemiological studies in the Journal of Nutrition showed that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. What’s more, if you already have cancer, running can improve your quality of life while you’re undergoing chemotherapy. (Want to know more about this? Read first-hand accounts of this and see our full cancer issue here.)

6. Running adds years to your life.
Even if you meet just the minimum of amount of physical activity—(30 minutes, 5 times per week), you’ll live longer. Studies show that when different types of people started exercising, they lived longer. Smokers added 4.1 years to their lives; nonsmokers gained 3 years. Even if you’re still smoking, you’ll get 2.6 more years. Cancer survivors extended their lives by 5.3 years. Those with heart disease gained 4.3 years.






original post found here: http://www.runnersworld.com/start-running/6-ways-running-improves-your-health

The 5 Best Cooking Oils For Health!

Not all oils are created equal! Before your next trip to the kitchen, check out this guide to the 5 healthiest cooking oils, and learn the pros and cons of using cooking spray.

A necessary item for cooking and baking, oil is a classic staple in any kitchen. But which oils are best for handling the heat? You know you can sprinkle extra-virgin olive oil on bread or a salad, but is it the best cooking oil? With a dizzying array of options now on store shelves, choosing the best oil to sizzle your burgers in can seem like a more daunting task than perfecting the clean and jerk.

It turns out that some oils are better for cooking than others. Instead of making you play a long game of “hot or not,” this quick guide will teach you which oils cook best, which oils to avoid, and even discuss the pros and cons of oiling up your pans with cooking spray. Let’s start with the five healthiest cooking oils.



This now-ubiquitous oil hails from the brownish-yellow seeds of a variation of the rapeseed plant that’s in the same family as cabbage and broccoli. The crossbreed was developed to contain much lower levels of potentially toxic erucic acid. The seeds are crushed to extrude their naturally occurring liquid fat. The plant is largely grown in the Canadian prairies—hence, the “can” in “canola.”


Canola is a stellar cooking oil because it has a neutral flavor, light texture, and a fairly high heat tolerance. You can use it in recipes such as stir-fry without impacting the taste. It’s also a budget-friendly option for your frying pan. Another big upside is that, compared to many other vegetable oils, canola has a healthier omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio of about 2-to-1. In comparison, corn oil has a ratio of 7-to-1.

It’s believed that the consumption of high amounts of omega-6 fats in comparison to omega-3s can encourage inflammation in the body, leading to heightened disease risk and perhaps even poor recovery from training. In fact, the omega-3 fat in canola oil is alpha-linolenic acid, which has been linked to reduced risk for heart disease.

Need to Know: Much of the canola oil on the market is sourced from genetically modified plants. If you’re concerned about GMOs in your diet, you can reduce your exposure by selecting canola oil that’s certified organic such as that from La Tourangelle. Organic canola oil is also not processed using the chemical solvent hexane.



Olive oils labeled “light” are not lower in calories than their extra-virgin counterparts. This just means that the oil has been filtered to put forth a product with a lighter taste, color, and texture. The light variety of olive oil has a more neutral flavor and higher smoke point—an oil’s smoke point is the temperature at which it begins to smoke and potentially starts to break down and create carcinogenic substances that could sour your health—than extra virgin, so it’s a better choice for high-heat cooking or for use in baked goods when you don’t want a strong olive-oil flavor.

While the refining process lays waste to much of the antioxidants in olive oil, data suggests extra-virgin olive oil can lose some of its antioxidant heft when heated.2 The upshot is that you’re best served using less-expensive light olive oil for cooking purposes, and saving that bottle of pricy extra virgin for unheated applications like salad dressings and dips, when you can better take advantage of its robust flavor and health-hiking antioxidants.


While lacking the antioxidant firepower of extra virgin, light olive oil does also provide high amounts of monounsaturated fat, which may help in the battle of the bulge by improving important measures of metabolism such as fat oxidation to a greater degree than other fats.3

Need to Know: Also labeled simply “olive oil,” “pure” olive oil is often a mix of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil that gives it a flavor and smoke point that wanders somewhere between light and extra virgin.


If you’re going to splurge on one cooking oil, consider making it up-and-coming avocado. This culinary oil is extracted from the flesh (not the seed) of ripe avocados, and it just happens to have the highest smoke point (about 520 degrees F) of any plant oil. Therefore, you can safely use ultra-versatile avocado oil for any of your cooking needs, while its buttery flavor is also wonderful in noncooking uses such as salad dressings, sauces, or drizzled over pureed soups.

Avocado oil is especially rich in monounsaturated fat, which can show your ticker some love by improving cholesterol numbers. The über oil also supplies lutein, an antioxidant shown to bolster eye health.4,5 In addition, the white coats at Ohio State University determined avocado oil can goose your dinner salad’s potency by improving the absorption of fat-soluble antioxidants like beta-carotene and lycopene present in vegetables.6


Need to Know: Air, heat, and light are the archenemies of oils like avocado. Store them in a cool, dark place like a cupboard away from the oven to delay rancidity and prolong shelf life.


While unrefined coconut oil (often labeled “virgin”) can make your diet taste like a tropical vacation, you may not always want your pan-seared chicken breast to remind you of a macaroon. On top of having less of a coconutty flavor and aroma, refined coconut oil also has a higher smoke point—about 400 degrees F—than its virgin counterpart, making it a better option for sautéing and stir-frying.


While unrefined coconut oil likely has higher amounts of naturally occurring antioxidants, refined coconut oil does retain the high levels of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Because of their unique structure, MCTs are more likely to burned for energy in the liver rather than being stored as body fat. While the weight-loss powers of coconut oil have largely been overblown, a 2015 report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , which reviewed several studies, did indeed find evidence that replacing some of the long-chain fatty acids in the diet with MCTs like those found in coconut oil may bring about reductions in fat mass.7

Need to Know: For the cleanest product, look for a brand of refined coconut oil such as Nutiva that’s organic and eschews the use of chemicals to process the oil.


While not as common on grocery-store shelves, it’s worth seeking out this oil if you’re a fan of tossing around meat in the frying pan or wok. Common in Japanese kitchens, this delicate-tasting oil is extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice, which is removed when brown rice becomes white. With a smoke point of nearly 500 degrees F, rice oil is a great choice for high-heat cooking such as stir-frying, broiling, and grilling. It’s this ability to handle the heat that makes rice oil popular in Asian cuisine, which relies heavily on high-temperature meal preparation.

Nearly 80 percent of the calories in rice-bran oil hails from heart-healthy unsaturated fats, while research suggests that an antioxidant compound in the oil called gamma-oryzanol can improve cholesterol levels, making this another reason why rice bran oil is a champion for heart health.8 You can also count on rice oil as a source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells, including muscle cells, from free-radical damage. It also has a long shelf life and therefore is less prone to rancidity than many other oils.9

Need to Know: The calorie count of rice bran and other oils is not low, about 120 calories from 13 grams of fat in a tablespoon serving. So don’t pour them into your skillet with a heavy hand.


Remember, the oils above are golden, but one oil you might want to keep out of the frying pan is sunflower. A British investigation found that this oil from the sun-worshiping plant produced aldehydes, potentially cancer-causing compounds, at levels 20 times higher than that recommended by the World Health Organization in response to heating.10

Corn oil was also found to possess disturbing amounts of aldehydes, whereas olive oil, canola oil, butter, and even goose fat produced far fewer aldehydes when heated. While there is no published data linking sunflower oil to an increased risk of cancer risk, you may want to limit its use when cooking.



Many bodybuilders use cooking sprays to coat their skillets and baking pans without the volume of oil that comes with cooking oils. What are the advantages and disadvantages to these sprays for the fitness-minded, you ask?

A short spray—about 1/4 second—delivers nearly 0 calories, meaning there’s a significant calorie savings versus using straight-up oil. An FDA loophole allows the Nutrition Facts panel to claim 0 calories by permitting the manufacturer to state an unrealistic spray time and rounding down the calories. Most people will spray for longer, so you do end up with a few calories, but this amount is still likely negligible.

While you’ll save on calories, keep in mind that when you rely solely on these sprays, you’ll miss out on some of the beneficial fats and other compounds found in oils. Also, some may find an ingredient list that includes “propellant” to be of concern. This is a food-grade propellant made from hydrocarbons such as butane and propane. Levels released when you spray your skillet in preparation for making a batch of flapjacks have been shown to be significantly lower than what could pose a toxicity risk.

Still, if you’re concerned about propellants, you can source out organic cooking sprays that instead use carbon dioxide. Some companies, like La Tourangelle, offer nonaerosol sprays that are propellant-free and contain only a single ingredient—the oil.

Perhaps the best option is to buy an inexpensive mister and simply fill this with your own oil such as olive or canola. It’s refillable, and you can be satisfied that you’re using a cleaner product to slash some calories from your diet, which is especially helpful when watching total calories.






original post found here: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-5-best-cooking-oils-for-health.html

What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Exercise?

Medical professionals and fitness experts advocate exercise as a way to maintain and build health. You reverse the benefits of exercise when you stop working out, and you never build up fitness and endurance if you never exercise at all. Starting a workout regimen is harder after a long period of inactivity, but you’ll see immediate benefits to your body.


Weight and Blood Pressure

Some of the primary benefits of exercise include maintaining a healthy weight and regulating blood pressure. When you do not move, from either choice or due to injury, you burn fewer calories each day. An excess of just 500 calories per day translates into a weight gain of 1 pound per week or 4 pounds per month. When you gain weight, you have an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Being overweight makes exercise harder because you stress your joints more when you run or jog.

Bones and Strength

Sitting around or lying around all day makes you weak. Unless you continuously use the major muscle groups in your body, they do not strengthen. If you are older, you lose the battle against muscle atrophy or wasting with every year that passes. Bones also lose density with age, and lack of weight-bearing exercise plays a role in osteoporosis, or brittle bones. Your body responds to the demands you put on it, and if you do not exercise, your muscles and bones weaken with time.

Exercise for Endurance

Just walking up a flight of stairs can make you short of breath if you are out of shape. Lack of exercise can lead to a lack of energy and endurance. The listlessness you feel further dissuades you from engaging in physical activity, and the vicious circle continues. Breaking a long period of inactivity is not easy, particularly if you are overweight or have a medical condition. Starting slow with just a few minutes of walking daily gets you moving safely.

Mental Health

Lack of exercise can lead to a diminished sense of well-being. Your body loses muscle tone and strength and your self-esteem can suffer as a result. Weight gain might lead to social isolation and bad eating habits. Vigorous aerobic exercise such as swimming or running stimulates your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers that help elevate your mood. Resuming physical activity benefits your mental health as well as your physical health.

original post found here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/377725-what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-dont-exercise/

What Are the Benefits of Bench Presses?

The bench press exercise activates a large number of muscle groups in the upper-half of your body. Such groups include your pecs, deltoids, your forearm muscles, hand muscles and your abdominals. Add the bench press to your workout to build your strength for push-ups, improve your power for sports performance and build bone density in your upper body. The American College of Sports Medicine encourages older adults to use multi-joint, free-weight exercises as a method of improving bone mass, muscular strength and muscular endurance.


Build Strength for Push-ups

Push-ups require upper-body strength. If you cannot do push-ups on your toes, start with the bench press exercise using a 35-lb. bar. Once you complete two sets of 10 to 12 reps, begin using the 45-lb. barbell, the big bar your typically see on a bench press. Add five pounds once you are able to complete two sets of 10 to 12 reps of the heavier weight. Every four weeks, attempt to do push-ups on your toes. Record your progress.

Build Power

Power is a measure of fitness for many recreational and competitive athletes. Power is your ability to exert force, or strength, over a given distance as fast as possible. Use the bench press to first increase your upper-body strength. As your strength grows, focus on performing each repetition as quickly as you can. Do six sets of three to six fast repetitions to increase your power.

Improve Bone Density

The American College of Sports Medicine advises that the rate of bone mineral accumulation peaks at puberty while peak bone density is reached in a person’s late 20s. Including the bench press as one of your main upper-body exercises causes your bone cells to deposit bone tissue in the bones involved during a bench press: arm, hand, shoulder and chest bones.

Maximize Workout Sessions

When you are short on time, use the bench press as your upper-body exercise. In addition to working your pecs, you are also working your deltoids, your triceps, your hand flexors and your abdominals. Do the bench press when you have no time to do exercises for your smaller, upper-body muscles.

Improve Your Running Efficiency

Running with proper form requires less energy, thereby improving your efficiency while you run, helping you to run faster. Proper upper-body mechanics means you keep your head up, look forward, chest open, shoulder’s relaxed and elbows close to 90-degrees. Your chest muscles help effectively swing your arms forward at the shoulders when your elbows are behind you. Strong arm-pumping, or the swinging motion at your shoulders, helps you to run faster and run more effortlessly. The bench press, when you perform multiple sets of 15 to 20 repetitions, conditions your chest muscles to help you run more efficiently.

original post found here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/98767-benefits-bench-presses/


Sponsored by: LeanStop.com

Should You Count Calories to Lose Weight?

Dietitians debate the pros and cons of counting calories to lose weight, so you can decide on the best approach for your lifestyle

It’s hard not to be at least calorie-conscious these days, with oodles of calorie-tracking apps to download, as well as an abundance of nutritional information on food labels and all over the internet.

But how closely do we need to watch those numbers if we want to drop a few pounds? Is counting every calorie an obsessive waste of time and energy, or the only true gauge for making sure our nutritional needs are met while staying on track to meet our weight-loss goals?


Should I Count Calories? Yes!
“Counting calories provides structure, and that personal tracking is what some people need to meet their health-related goals. People also usually experience success right away when they begin tracking calories, which is a great way to help become more aware of habits and encourage behavioral change.

While calories are not the whole picture when it comes to nutrition and weight loss, for some, counting calories is easier than actually understanding the complex effects food has on our bodies. It’s also especially helpful if you hit a plateau in weight loss; it can help point out if you’re eating too much or not enough. You may ever be surprised at how many calories you consume even when you’re following a healthy diet.

 Many people are also driven to eat for reasons other than hunger, such as stress, anger, comfort, boredom, or sadness—and they don’t even realize realize they’re doing it. If that’s the case, tracking can help you get back in control of emotional eating and seek solutions to change behavior.


Having a daily calorie target can also help identify high-calorie, low-nutrient items, so you can swap them for lower-calorie, healthier options. For example, instead of a low fat milk at 115 calories (250mL) switch to organic almond milk at 60 calories (240mL) or Swap one cup of chocolate ice cream at 285 calories with one and a half cups of strawberries at 70 calories.”

Follow these guidelines to count correctly:

1. Set realistic goals. When it comes to calories, weight loss, behavioral change, and fitness, you don’t need to get to your goal in one big leap, but you do need to sustain change.
2. Pick a tracking method that’s easy. Consider an app like MyFitnessPal, or a website like SuperTracker. Be aware of portion size and read food labels to identify nutrient information, as well as serving size and calories per serving.
3. Don’t rely on it too much. Remember that counting calories is ultimately part of a larger plan to maintain momentum and encourage long-term success.
4. Choose healthy foods. The type of food we eat has a profound impact on our gut health, brain chemistry, and hormones, all of which help to control food intake resulting in weight loss. Maintain a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.


Last Saturday we had a small get together and I felt compelled to prepare a healthier side dish to “compliment” the greasy, saucy, fatty, fried (and oh-so-good!) hot wings that made an appearance. And even though it was technically a free day for me, I was still conscious about the calories I took in.

There’s approximately 60-150 calories in each fried chicken wing. However, 1 piece of grape has only 2-3 calories depending on their size/gram, for 100 grams of mango there are 60 calories, for 100 grams of watermelon there are only 30 calories & 100 grams of papaya has only 43 calories. Yes, chicken wings are soooo good and I did eat 1….2….errr 6ish but I really tried to control myself and made sure to fill up on tons of fruits and veggies.

However, the truth is, it is almost impossible to count every single calorie you put in your mouth—especially since most food labels aren’t even able to provide 100-percent accurate information. Aside from that, the act alone of calorie counting can be exhausting, draining, and even disrupt your innate ability to understand hunger and fullness cues. You could even stop trusting your body completely, and rely solely on this calorie system for weight management. This is a real danger for those who have certain personality traits and/or mental health issues, as it can result in an eating disorder.

If you do choose to track, it’s best to exercise the process of counting calories with caution and make sure that it does not become obsessive, nor is it your only source of understanding how proper nutrition works. Ultimately, though, I think the best approach involves more intuitive, balanced eating that includes listening and trusting your body, incorporating a balance of high-fiber carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats at most meals, and allowing occasional indulgences.”


This week my coach had me do more abdomen workouts like weighted crunches, which is basically like regular crunches but you’re upright and holding a 5-10 kilo weight on your chest. It really works the abs and even back.

Weighted crunches – 3 sets – (10 reps each set)

I really felt the burn in my core and the soreness afterwards was intense, but I know that underneath my flabs there are rock hard abs waiting to be revealed 😉 so I will do this for as long as I have to. This session also included other ab/core workouts like side crunches, leg lifts on the pull up bar and planks.

Well that’s it for now. If you missed the beginning of this journey you can read about it here. Until then, stay tuned for more Apple Cider’s Journey to Fitness!


– Apple Cider

5 Benefits of Doing Plank Exercise


Young beautiful sportswoman practicing yoga on a mat.

With exercise, sometimes the simplest of movements result in the greatest gains to your fitness, and this is certainly the case with planks. To do a plank, you hold your body (the trunk portion) off the ground, making sure to hold it in a straight line.

If you’ve never tried one, a plank may look easy, almost too easy to be beneficial, but this is deceiving. While getting into the proper form is straightforward, holding the position takes strength and endurance in your abs, back, and core.

The plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning but it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance.

There are many variations you can try to add intensity and work different areas of your body. In the video above, personal trainer Jill Rodriguez demonstrates plank variations you can use to help improve your posture, balance, and overall fitness.

5 Benefits of Doing Planks

Planking has become increasingly popular for core strengthening, and for good reason: it works – in large part because it engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. What are some of the benefits you can expect from adding this exercise to your regular routine?1

1. A Toned Belly

Planking will help build your deep inner core muscles that lay the groundwork for that six-pack look. As your abdominal muscles become stronger, your mid-section will tighten.

Keep in mind, however, that in order to really get “six-pack” abs, you have to shed fat. For men that would be a body fat of about 6 percent, and women around 9 percent, in order to achieve that classic six-pack. This is not necessarily healthy.

2. Reduce Back Pain

Planks work for back pain because they strengthen your core, which has the pleasant “side effect” of reducing back pain. They also strengthen your back muscles, especially those in your upper back. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE):2

“Because the plank exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia, it is an excellent way to strengthen the core, which, in turn, helps reduce low-back pain.”

3. Flexibility

While building strength, planks also increase flexibility in your posterior muscle groups. The muscles around your shoulders, collarbone, and shoulder blades will expand and stretch (an area that often receives little attention), as will your hamstrings and even the arches of your feet and your toes.

If you do a side plank, you can also stretch out your sides (especially if you extend your arm up over your head in line with your body). To increase the stretching benefits, try a rocking plank – once in basic plank form, rock your body back and forth by moving your toes a few inches either way.3

4. Improve Your Mood

Virtually every exercise has the potential to give you a mood boost, and planks are no exception. Planks are unique, however, in that they help stretch and ultimately relax muscles groups that often become stiff and tense from prolonged sitting. The tension release that planks provide is uplifting for your spirit.

5. Improve Your Balance and Posture

To do a plank correctly, you must engage your abs to stay upright. Side planks or planks with extensions are particularly beneficial for building balance, as are planks performed on a stability ball. To test and strengthen your balance, try a side plank with a leg raise – get into side plank position, then lift your top leg and hold for one count. Lower it and repeat, then switch sides.4 In addition, planks work all the muscles you need to maintain proper posture, like your back, chest, shoulders, abs, and neck. If you do planks regularly, you’ll find you’re able to sit or stand up straighter with ease.

How to Perform a Basic Plank Exercise

You can view a plank demonstration in the video above, but for those of you who prefer a written description, here are the basic steps for performing a plank, from the American Council on Exercise.5

  • Hold your elbows directly under your shoulders and place your wrists in line with your elbows.
  • Push your body up into your upper back and hold your chin close to your neck (like you’re holding an egg between your chin and your throat).
  • In this position, brace your abdominals—contract them like expecting a punch in your stomach, squeeze your gluteal (tailbone) and thigh muscles simultaneously while continuing to breathe normally.
  • Hold a plank at least 20 to 30 seconds. (When using correct form, it is not necessary to hold it for longer than this amount of time.) Rest for approximately one minute and repeat three to five more times.
  • Start doing the plank using your elbows and toes (feel free to drop to your knees if necessary) and progress up to a high plank when you feel you have developed the necessary strength.

Here are two additional points for performing a front-facing plank correctly:

  • While in plank position, pull in your bellybutton. Your bellybutton is attached to your transverse abdominis, that inner sheath that holds your gut inside and gives your spine and vertebrae a nice, weight belt-tightening type of support. So by pulling it in, you begin to contract that deep inner transverse abdominis muscle. If you want to work your six-pack rectus abdominis muscle, drive your chin down toward your toes while you’re focused on squeezing your bellybutton in.
  • Next, do a Kegel squeeze. More women than men might be familiar with this term. A Kegel squeeze is performed by drawing your lower pelvic muscles up and holding them up high and tight. For men who aren’t familiar with that term, it’s similar to trying to stop urinating in the middle of the flow. This squeeze will allow you to feel and focus on your abdominal muscles.

How to Perform Plank Variations

As mentioned, you can perform the plank in many different directions: front, side, and reverse—each direction engages different sets of muscles for all-around toning and strengthening. The front-facing plank engages the following upper and lower body areas: abdominals, lower back, chest, shoulders, upper trapezius, and neck, biceps, triceps, glutes, thighs, and calves. Side planking is particularly effective for training your obliques, which really helps stabilize your spine, while the reverse plank places the focus on your glutes, hamstrings, abs, and lower back.

To perform a side plank, start by lying down on your right side, keeping your legs straight. Next, raise yourself up on your right forearm; your body should form a straight, diagonal line from head to toe. Your hips and knees should be off the floor. You can rest your left hand on the floor in front of you for support, on your hip, or behind your head. Brace your abs and hold for one minute.

For the reverse plank,6 start out by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place your palms on the floor, below your shoulders, squeeze your buttocks and thighs, and then push your body up into a reverse plank position. Alternatively, you can begin by placing your elbows rather than your hands on the floor, for a less dramatic lift. Again, keep your body in a straight diagonal line from shoulders to heels, making sure your hips are in line.

4 Common Plank Mistakes

Proper form is very important when performing planks and overdoing it could lead to injury. As noted by certified personal trainer Estelle Underwood in the Huffington Post:7

“If you feel any neck or low back pain while doing the exercise, this may be an indication of weakness in the upper or lower regions of the spine. If the core is too weak, the spine will sag, causing compression in the vertebrae, pressure on vertebral discs, and/or shoulder joint inflammation.”

Be particularly careful doing planks if you have back pain or injury. And if you’re just starting out, try holding the plank position for several seconds only, slowly working your way up to where you can hold it longer. In addition, be careful to avoid these common plank mistakes:8

  1. Allowing your hips, head, or shoulders to drop
  2. Placing your hands too close together, which creates internal rotation and instability at your shoulder joint
  3. Holding your breath
  4. Trying to hold the position too long – it is better to maintain proper form for a shorter period of time than to hold improper form for longer





original post found here: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/12/05/5-plank-benefits.aspx

Losing Weight With Boxing Versus Running

Running several days per week, either outdoors or on a treadmill, is a simple, effective way to lose weight. The knock on this form of exercise, however, is its repetitive nature. If you’re eager to lose weight but want to adopt a workout with a variety of elements, boxing might be for you. You don’t have to worry about getting hit — even without contact drills, boxing can aid in weight loss.


Running Weight Loss

Running is an ideal exercise to pursue if your central fitness goal is weight loss, but the exercise provides several other health benefits, including better cardiovascular health and stronger muscles and bones. A key perk to this form of exercise is its convenience; you don’t need any gear beyond a pair of running shoes and some athletic attire. Although dedication to this workout can help you burn enough calories to experience weight loss, a drawback to running is its impact to your lower-body joints, which makes it less than ideal for those who are obese or have joint pain.

Boxing Weight Loss

A typical boxing workout for weight loss, known as cardio or fitness boxing, involves a variety of elements that help you burn calories as you work toward losing weight. This form of workout includes up-tempo exercises such as jumping rope, calisthenics such as mountain climbers and burpees, working the heavy bag, shadowboxing and hitting a trainer’s focus pads. If you want to test your fundamentals, light, controlled sparring drills are ideal. The aerobic nature of many of boxing’s exercises leads to a high calorie burn without a significant shock to your joints.

Comparison of Calories Burned

Whether you choose a boxing workout or running as you attempt to shed some pounds, you’ll burn calories at a quick rate. Harvard Health Publications notes a person who weighs 185 pounds will burn 400 calories during a 30-minute run at 5.2 mph. The same person will also burn hundreds of calories in a boxing workout — 444 calories in 30 minutes of jumping rope, 400 calories in 30 minutes of sparring and 355 calories in 30 minutes of vigorous calisthenics.

Losing Weight Through Exercise

Regardless of the type of workout you adopt on your weight-loss journey, you’ll have a greater chance of success if you practice the workout frequently. A minimum of 300 weekly minutes of aerobic exercise is a key step toward weight loss. Running for five hours per week might seem daunting, but with a boxing workout, you won’t spend close to five hours performing any one specific exercise. As with any weight-loss goal, adding some strength-training exercises and reducing your caloric intake can help you get results.






original post found here: http://livehealthy.chron.com/losing-weight-boxing-versus-running-4223.html

Pros & Cons to Muscle Mass Supplements

Pros & Cons to Muscle Mass Supplements

Muscle mass supplements can be beneficial for helping you reach your physical fitness goals quickly, but they are not without disadvantages. Even basic supplements such as protein powder can have potential drawbacks that may outweigh their effectiveness, depending upon your goals. You should consult a medical professional before starting a workout program and before using any supplements.

Increased Muscle Strength

While supplement manufacturers may make dramatic claims that seem improbable, research indicates that some muscle mass supplements can actually enhance your muscular strength. According to a study from the November 2003 issue of the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,” creatine supplementation can significantly improve your strength when combined with resistance training.

Increased Muscle Mass

Resistance training can provide the stimulus for muscle growth, but unless you provide your body with the proper nutrients, you won’t see results. Research from the June 2010 issue of “Nutrition & Metabolism” indicates that the supplement whey protein may be more beneficial than other protein sources at promoting increases in muscle size and enhancing recovery from workouts.

Increased Fat Burning

Many muscle supplements contain branched-chain amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and are used to build muscle. The March 2011 issue of the “Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” reports that use of branched-chain amino acid supplements on diets can increase fat oxidation, or fat burning, during training sessions.

Improved Blood Flow

One popular type of bodybuilding supplement is the preworkout supplement. These products typically contain arginine, which helps promote the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide can help improve blood flow to your muscles, which may result in improved nutrient delivery and better performance during workouts.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Using certain muscle mass products can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Creatine, found in many muscle mass supplements, may produce upset stomach and diarrhea. In addition, if you are lactose-intolerant, you may experience bloating, nausea and cramps from using dairy-based protein products such as whey.


Many muscle mass products combine creatine and caffeine to help you have more intense workouts. However, regular use of caffeine-containing products can be troublesome. While caffeine’s energy-enhancing effects can be beneficial for workouts, the substance can also produce restlessness, insomnia and anxiety, particularly if taken close to bedtime. In addition, the University of Maryland Medical Center explains that supplements using the combination of creatine and caffeine can increase your risk of dehydration.

Kidney Damage

Although creatine is one of the most popular muscle supplements due to its research-backed effects on muscle mass and its relatively low price, some studies suggest that creatine use may cause side effects. Research from the March 2001 issue of the “Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” avers that creatine use may cause long-term renal, or kidney, damage.

original post found here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/414089-pros-cons-to-muscle-mass-supplements/

Benefits Of Cardio Glider

Need to know the benefits of cardio glider? Cardiovascular exercise helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system which includes the heart and the cardio glider has the ability to give you a really great workout. If your cardiovascular system is in shape, you can greatly reduce your chances of heart disease, stroke and other related health conditions. The cardio glider has a number of benefits that would be helpful to anyone looking to get in a good workout session.

People training at the gym

1. A benefit of the cardio glider is that it works a variety of muscle groups at the same time. When using the cardio glider, not only do you get a great cardio workout, you will also work a number of different muscle groups at the same time. These muscles include the back, shoulders, chest and arms.

2. Tone muscles while getting a great cardio workout. A benefit of the cardio glider is that it uses resistance that will help build and tone your muscles. Building muscle allows your body to burn more fat while at rest. Since you’re getting both resistance training and cardio in the same session, there’s no need to add any additional workout.

3. Check your stats while working out. This is because it features a large LCD screen where you can track cycles per minute, total cycles, calories burned and total elapsed time. This is very effective if you are looking to achieve weight loss because you are able to see a good approximation of the number of calories you’re burning. The timer makes it easy to be sure you’re in your target heart rate for as long as you want to be.

4. Perform over 70 different exercises. You never have to worry about getting bored or having to do the same exact workout day after day. The cardio glider features over 70 different moves, allowing you to work your entire body in one great workout.

5. SpaceSaver Design. The cardio glide machine doesn’t have to be left out in the open. It has a SpaceSaver design that makes it easy to fold and put away. A lot of the cardio machines out there are somewhat bulky and therefore take up a lot of unnecessary space. Even though this machine can be folded, don’t underestimate it’s power. It can accommodate users weighing up to 250 pounds.

6. Built-in Resistance. There is a resistance system in place that allows you to choose 15 to 85% of your total body weight. Higher resistance can help with building muscle while lower resistance helps to build muscle endurance. However, if you’re a beginner, it’s best to begin at a lighter resistance to be sure you don’t injure yourself. Gradually increase resistance as your body gets used to it. If you’re into high-intensity training, the resistance can be easily changed during a workout to switch things up a bit.

If you’re looking for an exercise machine, the cardio glider would be a great choice if you’re into getting more for your money. It has great value because it allows you to get your cardio and resistance training done at the same time.






original post found here: http://www.mademan.com/mm/benefits-cardio-glider.html