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Posts Tagged ‘women’s fitness’

Do Magazine Diets Sabotage Weight Loss?

July 26th, 2010 No comments

Some plans just don’t add up

I’m always a little confused when I read the details of weight loss plans that I find in popular health and fitness magazines. So I decided to crunch some numbers, and I was more than surprised with what I found.

Why popular weight loss plans concern me

Take this diet I saw in a fitness magazine. It probably sounds a lot like plans you’ve seen in similar publications. The first thing that made me uneasy was a recommended 1,400 calorie a day meal plan. No way, I thought, you don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight.

Now I’m no expert, but I’ve read what many of them have to say. Most women need a few hundred calories above or below 1,400 (it can vary by person) just so their vital organs function, which means brains, hearts, lungs, kidneys and more. If you don’t consume more calories than that basic amount you’ll be risking your health and likely setting yourself up for a failed attempt at weight loss.

What about calories burned through exercise?

Which brings me to my next point. These weight loss plans don’t end at restricting calorie intake, they also recommend regular strength training and cardio workouts. If you take in 1,400 calories a day and burn off 400 during one workout session, that leaves only 1,000 for your body to use during the rest of the day - much less than what is considered essential. And as we’ve been told by experts in these same magazines, one workout session can boost the amount of calories you burn for hours afterwards, meaning even more calories gone.

What about calories burned through digestion?

But here’s another factor. You have to eat to take in those 1,400 calories, and every time you eat you’ll burn calories. About 10 percent of the calories you take in are burned off through digestion. So if you’re only taking in 1,400 you’ll burn about 140.

What about calories burned through NEAT?

The body’s calorie burning doesn’t stop there. You won’t be lying around doing nothing all day, getting in that one hour of exercise before becoming sedentary again. Every move you make throughout the day causes your body to burn calories, even something as seemingly unimportant as fidgeting. When calories are burned this way it’s known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT. Some people fidget and gesture so much throughout the day that they burn up to 350 calories.

When you do the math it’s easy to see why calorie restriction sets dieters up for failure.

Essential Pilates Gear

May 3rd, 2010 No comments

Get the most out of your next Pilates session

Other than a mat and a little know-how Pilates doesn’t really require any special equipment, but there are several products that can be used to make the moves a lot more challenging and fun. Besides that is the apparel and footwear that keeps you comfortable and

What you’ll need
Mat - This is most important when it comes to Pilates and Yoga equipment. A good mat should be thick enough that you can kneel on it comfortably and it shouldn’t slide around. Rubber mats are a popular choice.
Comfy clothing - Dressing for Pilates is all about being able to move. Close fitting items in stretchy fabrics are some of the best choices. It’s also a good idea to avoid apparel with buttons or other closures that can make certain moves uncomfortable.
Good instructions - If you’ve joined a class with a certified instructor you probably won’t need to worry about this one. But if you’re planning to get into Pilates at home you should make sure you’re performing the moves right, or you’ll risk injury. There are a number of Pilates workout videos and instructional manuals that will have you mastering one hundreds in no time.
Footwear - Many people prefer to perform Pilates barefoot or in socks, but stretchy slip-on Pilates shoes keep your feet warm, maintain foot flexibility and allow beginners to grip the floor easier. Many cost as little as $40.

Extras
Reformer - A gliding platform atop a frame made of metal or wood, this machine allows the user to stand, sit, kneel or lie in almost any direction. Using handles and bands they perform various pushing and pulling motions to slide the platform against spring tension. This machine is for serious Pilates enthusiasts.
Stability ball - The unstable surface of the stability ball is often used in Pilates to activate core stabilizing muscles.
Strength training accessories - Resistance bands, light free weights, weighted balls, circles, rings and more can be used while performing Pilates exercises.
Pilates chair - This stool has a spring controlled step and allows the user to perform over 75 exercises.

Walking and Running: Essential Gear Plus

April 10th, 2010 No comments

Get decked out in the right equipment

When you’re serious about staying in shape, going for a walk or run involves more than just pulling on a pair of old sneakers and heading out. If you want to be comfortable, stay safe and have fun you’ll want to consider a few essential pieces of equipment.

What you’ll need
Shoes - Asics, New Balance, Saucony, Nike, Adidas - the list of respected athletic shoe brands is long. Make sure when you’re *choosing shoes[Athletic Shoes] that they are made specifically for the activity you’ll be doing. Walkers have different needs than runners and require different footwear.
Warm weather clothing - Since your plan is to work up a sweat you should be wearing moisture-wicking clothes that pull the sweat away from your body and keep you cool and dry. Cotton is an ok choice, but it can get wet and cause chafing. Clothes should be comfortable and non-restrictive. It’s handy to have a zippered pocket somewhere on your outfit to hold house keys or other valuables.
Cold weather clothing - If there’s a chill in the air it’s best to layer clothing on the body and keep extremities warm with lightweight mitts and a hat. Wind resistant outer layers keep away cold breezes. You’ll be glad if you splurge on thermal socks. If you live in an area that gets lots of snow and ice, strap a pair of Ice Joggers over you’re shoes; they have tiny plastic spikes on the bottom to keep you from slipping.
Skincare - Skin lotions and lip balms don’t exactly sound like walking and running essentials but they are. Products with an SPF will protect you from the sun’s damaging rays all-year-round, while extra moisturizing products will keep your skin from getting dry and chapped in the winter.

Extras
Pedometer - Basic *Pedometers[Choosing the Best Pedometer] can be bought for as little as $10, or more advanced ones for as much as $50. The better models will include a calorie counter, heart rate monitor, distance calculator and be able to differentiate between walking and jogging steps. Some keep track of your steps for up to a week at a time and allow you to upload your data to computer.
Tunes - Whether you want a top-of-the-line iPod to hold your library of 10,000 MP3s, or a bargain basement player that’ll hold 250, having some sort of music or instructional tape to keep you motivated is a good idea.
Nordic walking poles - Want to boost your calorie burn by as much as 46 percent without feeling like you’re working that much harder? How about reducing tension in your neck and shoulders just by walking in a way that also reduces stress on the knees? These handy poles are the answer. They generally cost about $70 to $100, and come with tips to help you tackle all terrain, including metal tips for slip-free winter walking.

Reward Yourself with Fitness Accessories

April 10th, 2010 No comments

New exercise equipment can really motivate

Having a high-fashion outfit, the best gadgets and the priciest fitness equipment money can buy won’t make you an instant pro, but sometimes feeling a bit more like one is all you need.

Why you should give yourself fitness-related rewards
Instead of going out for dinner or splurging on a favorite high-calorie treat, try rewarding yourself with something that’ll help you along your fitness path. A comfy new sports bra or weighted hand gloves can give you incentive to continue your workouts or provide you with a new way to stay active.

Small rewards
Pedometer - These handy gadgets will help you make sure you’re getting your recommended 10,000 steps a day. Studies have shown people who wear pedometers increase their daily activity, often resulting in 100 extra calories being burned per day. Many new pedometers double as calorie counters, so you’ll know how many you’ve burned.
Sweat-wicking socks - It might not sound like much of a reward but the right socks can make a big difference in comfort when you’re sweating up a storm on the stationary bike. New Balance makes a great CoolMax line that’ll only set you back about $7 to $12 per pair.
MP3 player - iPod is the gold standard of MP3 players, but the units often have prices to match. Unless you have a collection of 1,000 or more essential workout songs you’ll be better served looking for a one or two GB MP3 player that’ll keep your workouts interesting with a more-than-enough storage of 250 to 500 songs. For the low prices some online retailers are charging for MP3 players (I got one for under $20) there’s no reason to break the bank.

Worth the extra splurge:
New headphones - You’re headphones might be in decent working order, but that doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade to something better as a reward for reaching a fitness goal. To get the most comfortable headphones that’ll stay on while you work out expect to spend anywhere from $40 to $150. Shure sells many top-of-the-line models, but also a few decent ones priced around $50.
Mini stepper - This pint sized piece of fitness equipment won’t be what you’ll use for your daily cardio, but it’s a great way to *fit in a little fitness[Sneak Fitness Into Your Daily Routine] during your downtime. A basic stepper costs as little as $60. Set it in front of the couch and step off some extra calories while you check in with your favorite prime-time characters.
Two-piece yoga suit - Yes, a pair of old sweats performs the same function, but a matching yoga suit does it so much better. If you clothe your newly buff body in something flattering you’ll be inspired to go to the gym and show it off. Canadian company Roots has a great yoga line with separates you can mix and match.

Boost Your Strength Training Calorie Burn

February 5th, 2010 No comments

Supersets help you get things done faster
When most people tackle the weight room, they start with a plan that includes straight sets. This method involves performing two or more sets of each exercise, with about a minute or more rest in between each set. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing straight sets, it does have some negatives, including the fact that your sessions take longer to complete and your body will eventually adapt and quit realizing results. That’s where supersets and all its variations come in.
What are supersets?
Supersetting is when you perform two exercise sets without rest in between. Some pros recommend you perform sets on opposing muscle groups, meaning if you do one set of barbell curls to work your biceps, you immediately follow it with one set of skull crushers to work your triceps.

You can also perform two exercises that target the same muscle, such as leg extensions and squats. This method is known as pre-exhaustion supersets because the first move isolates and fatigues the quads and the second involves them in a compound exercise. Post-exhaustion supersets are the exact opposite, you do the compound move first and the isolation move second.

Why you should try supersets
• Supersets are a great way to blast through a weight loss plateau because they challenge your body to do work it isn’t used to.
• They make gym time go a lot faster since you’re resting less.
• They allow you to reach muscle fatigue without lifting heavy weights. This is good for someone working out without a spotter or who doesn’t want to lift heavy.
• They make for an easy session. All you have to do is pick two exercises, rest, then repeat. While you’re resting after those two you can decide on two more, until before you know it you’re done.

Types of supersets
Pre-exhaustion supersets - See above.
Post-exhaustion supersets - See above.
Tri-sets - This one is pretty self-explanatory. Perform three exercises in a row instead of two.
Opposing muscle groups - As explained, this method involves working one muscle group and then its opposing group. It can be very beneficial because you’ll be working both muscle groups evenly.
Compound supersets - Two different compound exercises are performed in a row.
Isolation supersets - This is also known as same-part supersetting. An example would be doing incline curls followed by barbell curls.
Staggered supersets - This type of supersetting involves performing an exercise for a larger muscle group, followed by one for a smaller muscle group.
In-set supersets - two different exercises within a rep. One example would be doing a dumbbell bench press and transitioning immediately into a dumbbell flye.
Upper body/lower body supersets - It doesn’t matter which part of your body you target first, just that you follow up an upper body exercise with a lower body one, or vice versa.