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Posts Tagged ‘toning abs’

Splurge and Steal Strength Training Equipment

July 12th, 2010 No comments

How to invest wisely or save pennies as you tone your body

If you want to get buff, or already are and want to maintain it, strength training is the only answer. When you’re at the gym there are endless possibilities for challenging the muscles, including cable and weight stack machines, free weights, isolation stations and more. At home you probably long for the same variety. The good news is it’s easy to get everything you need if you know the price you’re willing to pay.

Splurge
Life Fitness home gym - If you’ve got about $3,000 kicking around you might be tempted by the Life Fitness G7, which includes a chin-up bar, adjustable cables with quick-lock attachments, dual weight stacks and a mounted exercise book. This home gym is about the best you can get. It allows the user to perform moves on a bench, standing, or using an exercise ball. Search our store to find a variety of home gyms for women.
Vibration platform- Some say a vibrating platform is simply an unstable surface, much like a stability ball, but others, including many professional athletes and trainers believe it offers much more including increased muscle gains when used as part of a strength training program. Workouts done on a vibration platform are said to require only a few minutes, three to five times a week. Many of these machines cost around $1,000, but Gaiam makes its own version, called the Chi Vibe, which is relatively cheap at between $400 and $500.

Grab the advice below then surf our store to see find great deals on strength training equipment.

Steal
Pilates bodybands - These kits include an instructional DVD and a set of two or more resistance bands for overall body toning and strengthening. Not only are they about as cheap a strength training system as you can get, at about $30, but they’re extremely portable and easy to store. Just because bands are light in terms of weight, doesn’t mean they can’t put the same force on your muscles as a 10 lb. dumbbell. Besides, you wouldn’t be able to pack your vibration platform in your suitcase and take with you on holiday.
Stability ball - Sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Stability balls can be a very useful part of your strength training program. To get the most out of your ball, use it in place of a weight bench. Not only is it a heck of a lot cheaper (about $10 to $20), but it will engage more of your muscles because it’s an unstable surface. You can also use the stability ball to make weight bearing exercises more difficult. Prop it under your hands for push-ups, push your feet into it for pelvic thrusts, place it between your back and the wall when performing squats…the possibilities are endless.

The Truth about Flat Abs

November 2nd, 2009 No comments

Absolutely no quick fixes

Last time, we talked about spot reduction, but let's expand on that a little... I’m going to lay it all out right now to avoid any confusion. Tight, defined abs are difficult to get and even harder to keep. Only those who are genetically blessed with a body that doesn’t store fat in the stomach, and those who stick to a strict diet and fitness routine, will reach what might be considered perfect abs. Even if they work hard and eat right, some people’s bodies just aren’t meant to lose the amount of fat necessary to reveal stomach muscles.

That doesn’t mean you should give up, just that it’s not something you’ll accomplish without a lot of hard work. It’s a good idea to become comfortable with the thought that your stomach may never be washboard flat. You should just be happy your strong abs are doing what they were originally meant for - moving and stabilizing the torso and preventing injury.

Can an ab machine get you cut?
If you incorporate the ab machine’s moves into a complete fitness routine the answer is yes, sort of, depending on how effective the machine is at working your abdominals. For the most part you don’t need a machine to work your abs. Regular, bicycle and side crunches isolate each of the abdominal muscle groups, while a number of compound strength training moves, such as push-ups and deadlifts, utilize ab muscles to stabilize the body.

Quality not quantity
When targeting their abs many women go for the all-or-nothing approach, doing hundreds of sit-ups a week. They’re often so concerned with numbers that they don’t give much though to their form.

If you’re not focusing on engaging your abdominals each time you perform a crunch, of course you’ll be able to do a huge number of them. Once you start doing ab exercises right you’ll feel results with a fraction of the repetitions. If you’re devoting more than two or three strength training exercises to abs you’re probably doing too many.

Are ab exercises the key?
It’s not just ab exercises that’ll give you a six pack. In fact, ab exercises make up the smallest part of the formula. Many of us already have firm abdominal muscles, they’re just hidden beneath fat. To uncover your abs you need to consistently eat a well-balanced diet. If that diet consists of more calories than your body needs at its usual activity level, you’ll have to burn enough calories through aerobic exercise to lose fat. Add to that a consistent routine of total body strength training and you’ve got the “secret to flat abs”.

The abdominal muscles

• Rectus abdominis - These abdominis muscles are responsible for the “six-pack” look. Work them and lose the overlying fat and you’ll eventually see those telltale stomach bumps appear.
• Transverse abdominis - These muscles lie underneath the others and act as a sort of natural girdle for your midsection. Really focusing on pulling in the abs during crunches and even during other exercise can strengthen these muscles and trim your waist.
Obliques - These muscles line the sides of your abdomen, often right below love handles and are responsible for torso twists. Side crunches, weighted side bends and medicine ball twists can really hit the oblique.

The Spot Reduction Myth

October 12th, 2009 No comments

It’s impossible to target just one area

Have you seen one of those countless new ab (lounger, rocker, blaster) machines that promise to help you tone your midsection? Do you believe they will do everything promised, from flattening your tummy to helping you lose weight? If you believe the hype it’s time for a spot reduction intervention.

Working only one part of your body, be it your arms, thighs, abs or butt, won’t get you the results you crave. And no, buying a several hundred dollar machine to target that area won’t make a bit of difference.

Why women want spot reduction
Every one of us has a body part we loathe. Even women who are generally happy with the way they look can pinpoint at least one body part they wish was a little smaller, firmer or more defined.

In an ideal world we could decide to work just that one area until it suits us. You’re satisfied with your weight overall but wish you could remove some of the fat on your thighs? Go out and purchase a thigh machine and use it everyday religiously until the fat starts melting off your legs.

You know as well as I do (probably from experience) that it’s never going to happen, but when you’re unhappy with the way your body looks it’s easy to get caught up in a product that promises easy solutions.

Why is spot reduction impossible?
Fat can’t turn into muscle - The idea behind some of these spot reduction promises seems to be that training one body part will transform the fat in that area to muscle. Muscle and fat are two completely different things, one can’t turn into the other.
Ab exercises don’t burn calories - After my last point you may be thinking, “It shouldn’t matter if fat can’t be transformed into muscle. If I work my abs shouldn’t I be losing fat in that area while also building muscle?” The answer is no. Losing weight (fat) requires expending more calories than you take in. About 3,500 less calories a week will result in one pound lost. Ab exercises (or most other isolation exercises) done alone burn a very small amount of calories, meaning no weight loss. So although you may be building ab muscles, they’ll likely be hidden beneath layers of fat
You can’t choose where your body will gain or lose fat - Look around your group of girlfriends the next time you’re all together. Chances are you all have very different shapes. Even women who are the same height and weight carry their pounds differently. Some (apple shapes) store fat in the middle, while other (pear shapes) have small waists and larger hips and thighs. You can’t control where your body stores fat, so there’s no use trying.

A complete approach to fitness, which includes aerobic exercise and total body strength training is the only way to lose weight and reveal a toned body. Don’t be surprised if you find your body has its own ideas about where the weight will come off first.

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