Sign up for personal training / sports training by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com.

Exercising on a Budget

If you can purchase healthy food on a budget using math and food smarts, then it stands to reason that you can also exercise on a budget if you exercise that big muscle of grey matter in between your ears.

It can be a challenge, but if you love a good puzzle then put your brains to work and you can find lots of frugal ways to exercise.

#1. Walk

Easiest and simplest way to exercise. Don't even need shoes, although if walking in the winter you should probably wear boots.

An one hour walk every day, walking 5 km, for a person weighing 200 lbs burns 371 calories. Do that every day for 100 days and you will burn approx. 10.6 lbs of fat. Over the course of a year that is 38.6 lbs.

And the more weight you lose the faster you will go. By the end of the year you will be walking closer to 6 or 7 km in an hour.

#2. Special Offers

Many personal trainers, gyms, yoga studios and bootcamps offer free trials or low cost trial options, anywhere from a free session, to one week or a free month at the gym. Local deal finders such as Toronto Groupon, Meetup Groups for Toronto, Living Social and Daily Deal Finder regularly offer fitness related savings.

#3. Hire a Personal Trainer who fits your Budget

If you can afford $35 per month for a personal trainer, then you can afford a private personal trainer. Its that easy. (Me for example, if you live in Toronto.)

If you try to hire a personal trainer in a gym it will be $80 to $90 per hour, but you can get one session per month with a private trainer for a lot less. (Gyms charge a lot of money for people to hire their personal trainers, and the trainer themselves often are only paid $20 per hour or less.)

You don't have to be a celebrity these days to hire a personal trainer. Anyone can afford them.

And when you consider a gym membership is $70 to $100 per month, plus parking and equipment, having a trainer and then training in your home or condo or beach or park is way cheaper. And the trainer provides all the equipment during sessions.

#4. Body Weight Exercises

If you explore my Frugal Exercises posts you will find no shortage of cheap and easy exercises you can do that use your body weight instead.

Thus even without a gym it is still possible to get into great shape by using your own body resistance. Exercises like push ups, squats and running up and down your stairs will get you fit really quickly.

#5. Outdoor Activities

Walking isn't the only activity you can do outside. Running, cycling, rollerblading, swimming, ice skating and even tennis will get you great results. Toronto has plenty of free tennis courts and ice rinks you can take advantage of. Tennis racquets can get expensive, but you can buy a new barely used one on Craigslist if you shop smart. I got my tennis racquet when someone in my building left it behind when they moved. Cost? Nothing!

#6. Abandoned Exercise Equipment

Honestly some people just throw this stuff out. You can also find stuff on Craigslist (and barter to get a better price sometimes by offering $5 less than what they are asking). You can ask around amongst friends or family if they have any equipment they aren't using. Easy.

#7. A Home Gym

Getting your own home gym doesn't have to cost a lot. A couple dumbbells, free weights, a mat and stability ball will do the job nicely. A skipping rope or football can be used for a variety of frugal exercises. If the equipment is always there, just put on some music and get to work!

#8. Make your Own Equipment!

Honestly, you can make your own dumbbells. It just requires you to be ingenious about your building methods.

Customized Personal Training Programs

I think North America's obesity epidemic has started to scare people into exercising more and being more health conscious. The problem is that there is so much false information being pushed by people, often just looking to sell their book, gadget or DVD - or just trying to make a name for themselves.

Thus I have a beef with the hotshot personal trainers who are trying to push their own vision of how they think people should be exercising - pushing their own biased agenda, geared towards sales.

Meanwhile us grunt personal trainers are doing the opposite - We create personalized training programs which are customized for the individual. Each program is unique and each personal trainer will have a different approach to how they help out their client, depending on their client's needs and desires.

Yes, its true, the fitness industry has exploded in North America over the past ten years as the Obesity Monster reared its ugly head... And exercise is now considered a pillar in the average person's weekly wellness regimen. (Because apparently people before the rise of cable TV and internet didn't need to be reminded to go outside and exercise.)

But just because its so high demand now doesn't mean hotshot celebrity personal trainers should be pillaging anyone foolish enough to give them money - and to do so by spreading false information that their exercise program / routine is special and is "one size fits all".

No exercise routine is one size fits all. Want to know how I know? Test it out on teenagers and see how many of them get bored in the first 5 minutes.

Creating a customized and personalized approach to exercising for the individual client is all about what personal training is supposed to be.

And its cultural too. What works in Toronto may not work as well in a different social setting where people have different priorities and customs.

The same goes with gyms.

Gyms will look very different depending on the cultural setting. A gym in Toronto will look very different from a gym in Beijing or Sri Lanka or Athens.

Many people still picture a gym or health club with a bunch of beefcakes on the free weights, acting all macho and betting on who can benchpress more. Plus the weight loss hopefuls on the treadmill, and ladies with 2 lb dumbbells in step class at the aerobic studio. Complete stereotypes, largely fueled by the advertising industry during the 1980s.

But each gym is different. Some gyms are more like yoga studios. Some are boxing studios. Some gyms have pools and saunas. Picking a gym that is closest to you is not really making a choice. Its just convenient. A gym that has all the facilities and equipment you want however makes a big difference in how often you will go and exercise.

And by the same token, personal trainers do the same thing. If your trainer makes the activity fun for you and challenges you then you will keep coming back for more. If they don't then you will eventually quit and/or find a different trainer.

And that is really a wise thing to do. Shop around and find the personal trainer that works for you.

Times have Changed

With the implementation of age appropriate exercises, personal training, more options and better programming, fitness has finally shed its image as an activity for people who are body obsessed narcissists, and is recognized for its other benefits such as stress management, vitality and longevity.

The industry has also been helped along by a not-so-gentle push from family doctors urging their patient's into the gym, by prescribing fitness to cure everything from reoccurring colds, high blood pressure and depression.

It has reached a point that if I walk down Yonge Street in Toronto its almost impossible for me to not see someone carrying a yoga mat strapped to their back.

And thanks to higher gasoline prices the number of cyclists on the road keeps going up.

Personal trainers can customize fitness programs based on age, goals, strengths and limitations - and how much fun you want to have while exercising. Trainers will work one-on-one with couples, children, the elderly, groups of friends and even entire families.

Even though you and your family / friends may have different goals, the personal trainer can compensate by giving you exercises that work on your combined goals and different exercises you can do simultaneously or when you are not with the trainer in person.

Having a customized approach makes a big difference for whether you succeed. Don't fall for any snake oil salesman selling an "one size fits all" exercise routine because you are not "one size". You are you and you are ever changing and unique.

Healthy Meal Plans for Work

Working a 9 to 5 doesn't have to mean a lifetime of fast food and chocolate bars. If you truly want to improve your health, plan to eat well and put the time in to make it happen. Many people struggle with meal planning and this leads into missed breakfasts, nutrition deprived lunches, and fast food dinners.

So how do you correct this problem and solve your lunch woes?

#1. Eat a BIG Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make a large well balanced meal with fibre, fruit/berries/veggies, juice, milk and protein (eggs, bacon, pancakes). If you eat a healthy breakfast you won't be starving at lunch.

An omelette takes less than 3 minutes to make. (I've timed it.) And its healthy! Just have the veggies readied, the pan already on the stove... just add canola oil, turn on, add eggs, stir in veggies, and voila, done.

1. Make Double or Quadruple

By making extra for dinner, you can easily save additional portions for work the next day (and the next and the next...). Soups, stews and grain dishes work really well here. If you pack leftovers to reheat the next day, a sandwich to eat on the go, and some fruit, you already have your work days covered!

2. Make Snack that will survive the week.

By preparing healthy muffins, hummus with cut veggies, or trail mix, you can easily grab and go any time during the week. If you do the prep work on a Sunday, then these in between meals are quick and ready for work, when you are!

eg. Did you know Jell-O has protein in it? And for its size its mostly water, so it makes for a fairly healthy snack / dessert.

3. Stock Alternative Fruits

Buying variety for fruits at the supermarket make a difference when you want something different every day of the week. Apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, salads with peppers. Maybe not tomatoes however because they don't travel well.

4. Have Breakfast laid out and ready

Have your breakfast items on the counter, or pre-made in the fridge, speeds things up. I like the breakfast muesli. You can prepare it the night before and its ready to eat. Just add chopped fruit and milk. It is just like putting your exercise clothes out the night before - if its there you will wear it / eat it.

5. Make a plan while you are commuting

What else do you have to think about in the car or on the TTC subway? (Commute times in Toronto are the longest in the world.) You have lots of time to plan.

Even a loose outline of how you would like to eat during the week will help significantly. Plan for meals that will last, can be saved, and require little to no prep time at work.

Note: Having lots of quality packaging (easy to clean and use) makes a big difference too.

6. The lesser of Two Evils

There will be days when you are too busy and none of these tips will work. In the case of a failed fresh food day, grab a low cal frozen entree in the place of vending machine or greasy food court fare. While the sodium will be high, and the food will be pumped with preservatives, it's going to be better than anything you could buy in greasy food court portion sizes!

Weightlifting During Pregnancy + After Having Kids

Many women are now weight training seriously in ever-greater numbers. As a result it is inevitable that many will become pregnant and worry about how best to adapt their training to the demands of pregnancy and childcare.

The good news is that active women with normal, low-risk pregnancies do not have to give up their beloved weight training in order to keep themselves and baby healthy.

Years ago there wasn't much clinical research research on this topic, but there has been a lot more research in recent years and we have some good news on the topic.

The 1994 bulletin of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that there is no data to indicate that pregnant women should limit exercise intensity and lower target heart rates because of potential adverse effects.
In 2001 the Canadian guidelines were updated to indicate that regular exercise has a number of benefits and few drawbacks for pregnant women.

Ideally women should be fit and active before getting pregnant, so if you are thinking of conceiving, begin an exercise program now. Better sooner than later!

Here are some tips!

#1. Do not begin a new exercise program during pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the time to make any drastic physical changes.

#2. Stick to your current exercise routine. Don't become sedentary just because you are a few weeks pregnant.

#3. Around the 7th or 8th month you may wish to avoid highly strenuous activities. Switch to lighter weights or easier exercises.

#4. After giving birth you may wish to step up your routine to include more cardio and weightlifting, if you have the time. Ignore the old wives tales that exercise will cause you to sour the milk, your uterus will fall out, etc. Those are just nonsense.

“Muscle conditioning” exercise (i.e. weight trainng) is very low-risk and safe. Just ignore the myths.

Studies have shown no increase in acidity of breast milk after moms exercise. Regular postnatal exercise reduces or eliminates most of the unpleasant postpartum symptoms of physical and mental stress, depression, and so forth, as well as promoting a faster recovery. Postpartum exercise also helps promote insulin sensitivity.

#5. Exercise with your kids. Children of moms who exercised before, during, and after pregnancy were shown to be relatively leaner themselves five years later. Your kids are watching you and pick up your good habits.

#6. Don't Give Up After Having Kids. Many women cease exercising after having children. The two primary reasons for quitting exercise are significant weight gain during the pregnancy (which can be remedied) and the demands of care from children - who will themselves want to run around as they reach the walking age.

#7. Daddies Can Exercise Too! Your kids keep getting bigger... use them as weights! You will get stronger as they get older!



#8. Government Child Care and similar support systems for pregnant women can enable them to continue to exercise during and after pregnancy. You can find time to do these activities thanks to government help.

#9. Later in the pregnancy avoid exercises which involve lying on the back, or pressing against the stomach, or excessive bending forward. You may need to modify or eliminate those exercises.

#10. Avoid excessive head movement, such as stiff-legged deadlifts, if they cause nausea or dizziness. Avoid prolonged periods of standing. Balance will eventually be a concern, so in the second and third trimester, reduce and eventually eliminate Olympic lifts and perform demanding overhead lifts while seated.

#11. Avoid training too much. There is a lot of research into women training too much (or too little) and this resulting in a low birth weight. A higher birth weight means a healthier baby. Women who exercised more than 5 times weekly and fewer than 2 times weekly were both at risk for having lower birth weight babies. Aim for a happy medium of 3.5 times per week.

#12. Keep a Journal! Record eating, training, workout reports, notes on how you feel, heart rate, recovery, etc.

Common Concerns During Pregnancy

Joint Laxity

This is a crucial issue for weight trainers. The body “softens” connective tissue in order to prepare for delivery. Great for pelvic expansion during the crucial moments, not so great for folks trying to keep

their kneecaps stuck to their legs during training. On the plus side, strong muscles help to hold things together and improve overall stability, so strength training will be helpful as long as care is exercised.

Overheating

Another significant issue for weight trainers. Dress to stay cool, drink lots of fluids (even though you’ll feel like you have to pee every ten minutes), get a fan on you if possible, and monitor the situation

during your training sessions. If you need a break to cool down, take one. Oxygen will be less available to you, and you will find that in later months of pregnancy, the baby presses upwards on your diaphragm, making it harder to breathe deeply.

Nutrition

Good nutrition is essential during pregnancy, but hey, you knew that didn’t you? It is often difficult for female athletes to accept the inevitable weight gain that occurs during pregnancy, but this isn’t a time to diet or be nutritionally stingy. You may notice wild fluctuations in blood sugar (and sudden cravings), so try to eat at regular intervals and not go more than a couple of hours without a snack or small meal. In the first trimester you may be limited in what you can tolerate, and formerly appealing things may make you feel sick, but this is usually restricted to the first three or four months. You may experience an increase in appetite, including nearly uncontrollable cravings for carbohydrates (mmmm... donuts). This does not signify weakness or gluttony on your part; let the hormones do their work and get a balanced diet as best you can.

Don't enter pie eating contests however. That is just silliness.

Vitamin Supplementation

There is also a lack of research on the effects of Creatine during pregnancy, so don't use any.

Avoid caffeine, thermogenics and stimulants.

Hormonally-based substances, including prohormones, is a huge no-no at this time.

Fish oil is a highly recommended supplement for pregnant women, but there still needs to be more research on that topic.

NOTES

Medical supervision and ongoing monitoring = Regular checkups and keeping your doctor up to date with any symptoms.

One of the most common problems encountered by pregnant women is back pain. Their center of gravity shifts and extra weight is added over nine months. Women tend to slouch the shoulders and arch the lower back to compensate for these changes, which of course leads to discomfort due to bad posture. A strong abdominal column as well as a strong back gained through weight training before pregnancy can alleviate much of this problem, so resistance work geared to this need is helpful. Bodyweight exercises, such as unweighted squats, present a useful alternative as the pregnancy develops, as do exercises which take some weight off the joints, such as swimming or cycling.

Postpartum urinary incontinence - After giving birth, many women notice problems with mild to moderate urinary incontinence during exertion, such as squatting or deadlifting. Kegel exercises are a must during pregnancy and after delivery. Avoid caffeine, go to the bathroom before your workout, wear a pad, and remember that there are a lot of other women out there experiencing the same thing.

You may also notice hemorrhoids which are aggravated by lifting. Normal and treatable.

Sleep. Naps are good for you and your baby.



How to Bicycle in the Winter without getting Cold

I admit cycling indoors in the winter is pretty boring compared to the scenery and the constant threat of being run over by a car...

But on the plus side you can listen to music or watch a movie while you bicycle.

"Bike Trainers" as they are called are basically gadgets you can attach to your bicycle in the safety of your living room and then cycle to your heart's content.

If you are still feeling guilty about all the food you ate during the Holiday Season and want to burn some off via some heavy duty cardio exercise, a Bike Trainer might be just the thing you are looking for because they are a great way for people struggling to regain their fitness to do just that.

And the beauty of them is that it doesn't matter how much rain and snow is outside because attaching one of these things to your bicycle is so easy a 10 year old can do it.

Here is a short primer on bicycle trainers so you can stop sitting on the fence undecided and add it to your exercise routine.

Learn About Them First

People looking to buy cycling trainer should learn a few basics before they spend their hard earned cash on a bike trainer that might not meet their specific needs for winter exercising. They may choose a product that isn't 'enough' trainer for them, or on the other hand, they may waste money getting something that they don't have the power or resolve to make adequate use of. So try and find one that is right for you, not just the most expensive one you can afford.

There are three types of Bike Trainers: Wind, Mag and Fluid.

Wind Trainers

If you're a casual rider, a wind trainer may be enough for you. These are the simplest trainers with the least number of things that can go wrong. With a minimal number of parts, high quality (good metals and bearings) wind trainers from companies like Kurt Kinetic, CycleOps, Minoura, or Blackburn will last forever... and never need replacement parts

However wind trainers can be loud. Loud enough that some cyclists wear earplugs when using a wind trainer. Enough to annoy the neighbours.

But there's another downside to wind trainers (or upside if you are new to this). They don't produce enough resistance, even at high speeds, to provide a good workout for strong cyclists. They're great for beginners, but professional cyclists will want something with a lot more resistance to make them really strain their leg muscles.

Most people use their bike trainer for mild to moderate steady state workouts so a wind trainer may be all you'll need to burn fat. You aren't training for the Olympics so you don't need anything more than that, right?

Magnetic Trainers

Magnetic (mag) trainers have a bad reputation thanks to the internet being littered with old complaints from mag trainer owners who didn't appreciate their trainers clattering their way to the scrapyard. The newer Mag Trainers don't have this problem, but the old complaints are still there.

This class of bike trainer develops resistance by rotating repelling magnets past each other. Most Mag Trainers provide the ability to be adjusted through multiple levels of resistance.

The most common method of 'switching gears' is to dismount and change the resistance level at the trainer unit itself. But if you spend a few extra bucks you can get a Mag Trainer that has a lever which attaches to the handlebars, enabling you to increase or decrease the resistance while riding.

The latest innovation is the CycleOps Magneto, which is designed to 'progressively' increase resistance the harder the cyclist pedals. Using centrifugal force, the Magneto changes the configuration of its magnets without any input from the rider.

Mag Trainers are appropriate for moderately serious cyclists who want more resistance than a wind trainer can provide.

Fluid Trainers

Fluid trainers are the quietest and most expensive of the three types.

Fluid trainers are willing to motor along at low intensities, but are ready and able to fight back no matter how hard the cyclist wants to work them. Thus this category of bike trainer provides what could be termed an 'exponential' increase in resistance - the harder you cycle the more difficult it gets.

A chart of the type of resistance that fluid trainers provide, you'll see an ever increasing slope that gets steeper and steeper the more the speed increases. So if you want to burn calories hardcore, a fluid trainer will give you that challenge.

Fluid trainers are really only for serious cyclists who aren't afraid to spend lots of money on cycling equipment and who know they will be using their trainers for high intensity workouts.

Conclusions

So there you go! A complete guide to how you can bicycle in the winter without leaving the safety and warmth of your home, and a guide to what kind of bike trainer is right for you!

Happy Cycling!

Exercise Equipment for the Obese

You know you are overweight when you break your scales, the treadmill at the gym and burst your stability ball. So what do you buy when you weigh so much that you break your exercise equipment?

High-Capacity Scale

This isn't really for exercising, but it is a necessity for some people, because a conventional scale just won't do. Fortunately, this professional-grade scale weighs people up to 550 pounds.

Burst-Resistant Stability Ball

Unless you tip the scale at over 2,000 pounds, here's one exercise ball you don't have to worry about popping.


Extra Sturdy BIG Bicycle

Need a bike that can support more than 300 pounds? You're in luck, thanks to the recumbent bicycles and tricycles offered by Lightfoot Cycles. They feature over-sized wheels and sets made specifically for overweight cyclists.



Bike Seat

Bike seats are notoriously uncomfortable, and are even more so for people who carry a bit of their own "extra padding." For them, there are twin-pad, high-capacity seats.


Designing an exercise program and activities for someone who is extremely overweight can be a challenge for a personal trainer. Here in Toronto my focus when helping such people to lose weight is to get them outside and doing fun activities that they can not only do, but will enjoy doing on their own even when I am not there to encourage and motivate them.

Having the necessary equipment so you can exercise like a normal person and not feel like you are disabled makes a big difference in your ability to stay motivated and keep exercising.

Happy Exercising!

The Triceps Kickback

So you want to work on your triceps eh?

Well then there is a fantastic exercise called the Triceps Kickback.

This particular exercise is great for toning the underside of the arm (the triceps) which for some people are notorious for being flabby because fat likes to accumulate there. To reduce the fat you will need to do cardio, but if you're looking to build muscle there then you will want to do exercises which use the triceps a lot.

It's only January right now but it's not too early to prepare for the summer, and last minute vacations to warmer destinations than freezing Toronto.

(I was outside skating yesterday at Ramsden Park near Rosedale and I eventually decided it was too cold even for me and went home.)

How To Do A Triceps Kickback

1. This exercise can be performed with one arm at a time, or both. If you have never tried this one before, or have any low back sensitivity, try one arm at a time.

2. Start by placing one knee and one hand (from the same side of the body) down onto a bed, bench, the couch or even a stability ball.

3. Your back should be really straight, parallel with the floor. The leg that is not resting on the bench is on the floor, stretched out of the way behind you. The free hand is holding a dumbbell, with the arm stretched down toward the floor. 
 
Note: Use a dumbbell which is relatively light the first time you do this. You can try it later with heavier weights once you learn proper form.

4. Bring the elbow up as high as it can go but keep it close to your body. It should be able go higher than your back. Throughout the entire exercise the elbow will remain fixed in the position.

5. With the forearm only, bend back from the elbow as far as range of motion will allow, until the arm is straight out behind you. 
 
Do 10 reps, 3 times total, repeat 3 times per week to see results.

Two Arm Triceps Kickback.

For two arms, start with both feet together and bend your knees slightly. Bend forward from the hips until your back is parallel to the floor. With a dumbbell in both hands, raise both elbows up and behind, higher then the level of your back. At the same time, bend the forearm back until both arms are straight out behind you.

What is wrong with the triceps kickback?

Unlike other triceps exercises such as: dips, skull crushers, push downs and overhead extensions, you will be really fighting a resistance to move the weight. With the triceps kickback the most beneficial part of the exercise is at the very end of the movement, when the arm straightens.

At this point squeezing the triceps is how the exercise activates the muscle fibers. Even better, squeeze the muscle, and try to raise the whole arm just a little higher.
 

What makes a healthy teenager?

Good grades and fun times are important aspects of the high school experience. But that happiness is often threatened by bullying at school, unhealthy weight and the temptations to party hard and hang with the "cool kids".

Parents need to play a strong role in ensuring their high school kids stay healthy. A lack of sleep and exercise, too many fatty snacks, and caffeine packed drinks don't produce a healthy teenager - but they can make for an overweight teen with a sleeping disorder and high stress levels. It is up to the parents to do what they can do to keep their teenagers in good health - both mentally and physically.

Breakfast - Don't skip breakfast!

Eating in the morning gets their metabolism going. What should they eat? How about some instant oatmeal, cream of wheat, fresh fruit, whole grain bagels, and/or low-fat yogurt. Even pancakes with maple syrup is better than nothing.

Waiting too long to eat causes over-eating and binging later - which can lead to eating disorders.

Snacks - Aim for the Morning and Afternoon!

Healthy snacks in the morning or afternoon boosts the metabolism. Snacking late at night, especially junk food, puts on extra weight. The body's metabolism slows down during sleep, which causes much of the bedtime snack to be stored as fat. Encourage your teens to snack during the day, around 10 AM and 2 PM, and to eat healthy snacks they enjoy.

Sleep - As if teenagers don't sleep enough already!

Experts agree that teenagers need 9 hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, sleep isn't always a major priority for them. Teenagers should keep a regular bedtime so they know when they should be going to bed and when they are getting up. This will prevent sleep disorders and higher stress levels, and a proper night's sleep prevents over-eating on sugary/caffeine foods during the day. Most teens don't appreciate the benefits from sleep, such as improved mood, improved cognitive functioning, and better academic performance, because they become too easily obsessed with certain social activities - such as chatting online and texting these days

Teenagers should avoid late night studying and caffeine drinks after 2 pm. They should begin winding down (relaxing) about an hour before bedtime. They should also avoid exercise during that time too. During this time they should avoid bright light sources, including looking directly into a computer screen or television. This also means no fast-paced video games in the late evening hours.

Many teens stay up late at night text messaging friends. A "no cell phone in the bedroom at night rule" may be unpopular with your teenager, but sleep is more important than unnecessary text messages.

Nutrition - Aim for Balance!

Teenagers should eat a balance of vegetarian proteins or lean meats, whole grains, high fiber carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Teach your teens to eat only when they're hungry. Many teens eat due to boredom or stress. Healthy snacks should be encouraged if they are eating due to boredom so try and find out what foods they like best that are healthy. One way to do this is to send them to the grocery store to buy fruit and see what they come back with. eg. Watermelons.

Exercise - 60 Minutes per Day!

Experts say that teens get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. They need a good balance of activities including aerobic, flexibility, and strength exercises. The benefits include building and maintaining healthy muscles, bones, and joints; Controls weight; Reduces Fat;  Releases Endorphins, Better Sleep.

Teens should avoid exercising too close to bedtime.

Controlling Weight - Making Exercise Fun

Teenagers get bored really easily unless it is an activity they really enjoy. Try to find what activities they are interested in doing and then sign them up for lessons in that activity.

It could be something more unusual like archery, fencing, Kendo, martial arts... or it could be a sport like tennis or football, in which case for team sports they may need to train hard to join a school team or they may need to join a team that is more for fun.

The production of endorphins, which makes people feel happy, is increased when doing fun exercise activities - It is also addictive and teenagers hooked on a fun exercise activity (like skateboarding or rollerblading) will want to keep doing it. Such exercise can help teenagers who struggle with mild depression and help them to break away from addiction to video games (which also produces endorphins from the mental stimulation).

Most teenagers aren't too concerned about their health. Parents need to set rules and encourage a healthy lifestyle to ensure their teens stay healthy. Set a "no cheese puffs/text messaging/caffeine cola/action video game before bedtime" rule may seem rather strict, but if you can get your teenager out there playing tennis or doing archery instead it will be worth it because you will be setting them on a life of healthy balances.

The Canadian Daily

I have been invited to start writing exercise / dietary advice on the news website The Canadian Daily.

So far I have only done the following article:

How I Lost 50 Lbs of Fat + 12 Weight Loss Tips

I think I may contribute a new article to their site once per week or maybe twice monthly if I am really busy in a particular month.

Update

5 Common Factors in Weight Loss


Nutrition is More Important than Exercise

Not long after I became certified as a personal trainer in Toronto I began to wonder if I should have been a nutritionist instead.

If you read the title of this post you've probably guessed why.

Its because nutrition plays a huge role in whatever fitness goal you are attempting to achieve. Some estimate that the role is as high as 90% nutrition / 10% exercise. And the reason is because without proper nutrition, regardless of whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gain, you won't reach your goal anywhere as quickly as you would if you were eating properly for that specific goal.

So for example if your goal is weight loss then you want to cut back on carbs and sugars, avoid toxins entirely, and you want to limit your diet to approx 1800 to 2000 calories daily while taking in lots of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, protein and fibre.

If your goal was muscle gain you would want to do the same thing, but up the percentage of protein (possibly by using supplements) in an effort to match your weightlifting regimen.

Now you might think its possible to achieve great results without changing your diet. And depending on your current diet, that might be possible, except most people in North America probably eat a lot more calories than they realize. Try counting all your calories for a week and keeping a daily record and you would get a better idea of what you are really eating.

Lets say for example you had two twins named Jeff and Greg and they both do weight lifting and exercise the same amount daily.

Jeff eats healthy, gets lots of veggies and makes certain he is getting enough protein for his weightlifting regimen by drinking 3 raw eggs every morning Rocky Balboa style.

Greg meanwhile eats lots of greasy food. He is still getting some protein, but comparatively little, and his intake of nutrients / minerals from fruits and veggies is almost non-existent.

Which one do you think will get the most muscle gain and which one do you think will have some belly flab? The answer is pretty obvious.

Here's another anecdote, this time for weight loss.

I know a colleague who is also in the fitness industry. She lost 45 lbs back in 2004 by making some drastic changes to her diet and coupled that with running 3 - 4 times per week.

She later became a personal trainer here in Toronto, and took up weight lifting and a variety of other exercise activities to stay in shape, but her initial weight loss she credits completely to the lifestyle change with respect to her diet. She admits the running helped, but it was the dietary change that made the big difference.

Lets stop and calculate how many calories she was consuming and burning while running.

Before she changed her lifestyle she had a yo-yo diet and when she wasn't on the latest fad diet she was consuming 2500 to 3000 calories per day. So lets average that out to 2750. So by changing her diet to 2000 calories per day she cut out 750 calories per day and stabilized her diet. Thanks to that change she prevented herself from gaining 1.5 lbs per week.

Next she started off weighing 185 lbs and ended up at 140. So her average weight during that training period was 162.5. So if I feed that into a calorie calculator and estimate that she did an average of 5 km in an hour each time she ran then she burned an average 382 calories per run.

And if she did that 3.5 times per week she burned 1337 calories per week... which is a little over one third of a lb.

Now imagine if she had NOT changed her diet and was still eating an extra 5250 calories per week. Even with all her running she still would have been gaining weight because she hadn't changed her diet.

By changing her diet she cut out a lot of extra unneeded calories and began a fat burning process.

In her own words:

"I had not done any weightlifting yet and the idea of doing physical activities for fun still had not registered in my brain. In retrospect I can guarantee that it was not all the running that helped me to shed all of that weight in under a year. It was changing my diet and my lifestyle!"

Research now supports that nutrition plays a much larger factor in weight loss success. Don't get me wrong, exercise is certainly necessary and important and speeds up the process. And exercise will help you to tone up so that when you lose weight your skin will be tighter and not loose or saggy. Not to mention, you won't get a hard-body or six pack by nutrition alone!

So far in my career as a personal trainer I have found that many people not only underestimate how much they eat, but don't have a good handle on food quality. The  real trick to eating really healthy is to make the most out of your daily caloric intake by looking for foods that are highly nutritious - or making more nutritious choices even when choosing a tasty snack. It's a huge difference in both the quality and the quantity of food, and thus creates a better overall nutritional profile.

If you're having trouble shedding weight through your exercise regimen, the answer to your weight loss problem may be rooted in the nutritional choices. The extra calories you are consuming are holding you back from your dreams.

It only take 21 days to make a new habit, so changing your lifestyle doesn't really take that long to change.

Sweating Hard + 10 Exercise Myths

Everyone enjoys a good sweat during their workout (myself included). It feels great and the sweat cools you down. but sweating doesn't necessarily mean you are getting the best workout for your body.

Sweat is simply a cooling mechanism that is designed to cool your body when your internal temperature rises. We sweat in a sauna, and when eating spicy food, but that's not a good workout, is it?

When a person exercises, the body responds to the exertion, rather than the amount you are sweating. For example weight lifting is one of the best forms of exercise for a long term metabolic increase, defining the muscles, and providing all around benefits in terms of aesthetics, practical training and prevention for injury and disease in later life. But the sweat you are sweating during weightlifting is no more valuable than sweating while suntanning yourself at the beach. Sweat doesn't burn calories.

Swimming is a great example of a high exertion, sweat-free exercise. You don't sweat while swimming because water does the job of cooling you down.

Exerting your body means challenging yourself and using functional exercises that not only gets a person in great shape but also assist with body awareness, which assists in tuning the body for daily activities. Not to mention injury and chronic condition prevention. By gaining balance, co-ordination and increasing bone density, even if you do say, slip on the ice while skating (but you won't because you have such great balance and co-ordination!) your body will be able to better handle the fall with stronger bones and connective tissue.

Some sweaty exercises like running and cycling can cause you to lose a lot of sodium in the process so remember to take an energy drink like Powerade or Gatorade with you.

Don't use energy drinks like Cheetah Power Surge and similar crap with ginseng flavouring or lots of caffeine. The caffeine just dehydrates you and the flavouring is just that - flavouring. No nutritional benefit.

10 Exercise Myths

#1. Spot Reducing Exercises Don't Work

So you want to get rid of your flabby stomach fat and you want to do it by doing sit-ups? HA! Sorry, but spot reducing exercises don't do that. Sit-ups builds muscles in your stomachs, making your stomach look even bigger. If you want to reduce fat go running, cycling or swimming. Do cardio!

#2. Your cardio machine is NOT counting the calories you're burning.

Unless the machine knows your weight, height and your body fat percentage then it really has no clue how many calories you are burning.

#3. Women will NOT Bulk Up and look like Men by Lifting Weights

Lifting weights doesn't cause women to bulk up the way men do. Two reasons. First, female bodybuilders use steroids to bulk up like that. Second, female muscle tissue is different from men's - a difference of quality vs quantity. Women's muscle tissue can lift more per gram than male muscle tissue and is more resistant to ripping. Male muscle tissue rips easily and then due to higher testosterone levels men build new muscle tissue in-between the old ripped tissue. Women who lift weights will build extra muscle, but because of the type of muscle tissue they are building they won't bulk up the way men do.

#4. Heart Rate Monitors do NOT measure Exertion

Heart rate monitors do not measure how much exertion you are doing. Various exercises effect your blood pressure less than others, despite requiring more exertion. Instead your own body is better at telling you how much exertion you are doing. One way to do this is the TALK TEST. The talk test can measure how intensely you're working out depending on whether you can talk in full sentences, short phrases or if you're barely able to muster a few words.

#5. Your Weight Fluctuates Day to Day

You eat, you drink, you sweat, you urinate, you take a #2. Your weight fluctuates a lot in a single day, and thus measuring your weight on scales every day is not going to see much in terms of change. Check your weight at a specific time of day once per week (eg. Friday morning before breakfast) and then record the changes.

#6. High Intensity Exercises still DO burn fat

There is a myth going around that it is better to do low intensity workouts because they burn more fat and less carbs. This is only partially true. It is true that the more intensely you exercise, the higher proportion of carbs you burn. You may burn less fat, but the total amount of calories burned is higher and that is the bigger picture.

And if you don't burn the carbs it just gets stored as fat anyway. So it doesn't really matter if you are burning fat or carbs, because carbs ends up becoming fat if you don't use it. So you might as well do higher intensity exercises if you have the energy / motivation to do so.

#7. Protein Shakes do NOT make a replacement for real food.

You're actually better off eating real food because you get more nutrients and vitamins from eating a normal healthy meal. Protein shakes are really just meant to be used as supplements on top of a regular healthy diet.

#8. Going to the Gym does NOT Negate eating poorly.

Its actually the opposite. Bad diet negates your efforts at the gym and will hold you back because you won't be getting the nutrients to replace muscle tissue you ripped at the gym. If you go to the gym and then pig out on ice cream later you aren't just hindering yourself, you are hurting yourself because that is muscle tissue that won't regrow properly since you failed to eat a healthy balanced meal.

#9. No Pain, No Gain is NOT a way to measure exertion.

Some people think that they have to be in pain all the time while exercising otherwise they aren't achieving anything. Complete myth. Feeling discomfort during a workout is okay. Feeling pain after a workout happens sometimes if you over-exert yourself. If you are in a lot of pain you should NOT be exercising. Stop doing that before you pass out or injure yourself.

#10. Stretching does NOT prevent sports injuries.

There is a growing body of research which shows that stretching before exercising does not prevent sports injuries. The best time to do stretches is actually AFTER a workout, or DURING a workout to relieve muscle tension.

If you want to do anything before a workout do a series of warmup exercises, such as high knee jogs, walking lunges and similar warmup exercises. Keep the stretching for your mid-workout break or after the workout.

Having better flexibility does help prevent injuries, but stretching before a workout doesn't prevent such things from happening. Stretching after a workout helps stretch out ligaments and maintain your flexibility. Its meant to be done AFTER the workout.

Can I Exercise Around An Injury?

Q

"Hello!

I have a sports injury that I have been trying to work around. Do you have any advice for how to get a good workout, but without interfering with the healing process?"

- George C.

A

Hello George!

I noticed you didn't mention what type of sports injury you have, so I have provided advice below for the two most common injuries. If your injury isn't for knee or shoulder please let me know and I shall add more Do's and Don'ts for your kind of injury.

Knee Injury Do's and Don'ts

Do
-Focus on upper body in seated and standing exercises.
-Work out the lower body on the floor (glute kickbacks, inner/outer thigh raises)
-Focus on core and stretching
-Cardio only within limitations. Running is bound to be aggravating to a knee injury but perhaps the elliptical is fine. Listen to your body.
-Depending on the injury shallow squats (preferably with a stability ball) can help to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
-Air punches for cardio can even be practiced seated.

Don't!
-Do lunges
-Do step-ups
-Run

Shoulder Injury Do's and Don'ts

Do
-Focus on lower body
-Add more core and low back exercises
-Try new cardio exercises (cycling, running)
-Stretch

Don't
-Use the arm handles on the elliptical
-Many upper body exercises use the shoulders. Listen to your body. You may be able to do bicep curls but not a triceps push down.
-Do bench press (too much weight and shoulders assist the chest and triceps and secondary working muscles)
-Do shoulder exercises unless prescribed by a physiotherapist.

Workout Ideas for Overweight Teenagers

In North America the people who are most effected by skyrocketing obesity rates is teenagers and young adults. In contrast many older people, who are already set in their somewhat healthy eating patterns, are less at risk.

Thus it is increasingly more important to find ways to get teenagers and young adults involved in exercises and healthy eating patterns before... Yawn, this so boring! Get to the exercises already!

Great Workouts For Teens

#1. Weight Lifting Exercises

You need your muscles to be strong to maintain a good posture and have significantly less chance of
getting injured. For this type of exercise, you need to apply some resistance against the muscles. The
various ways you can strengthen your muscles are by push-ups, crunches and if done under supervision,
free weights and weight machines.

The easiest thing which can be done just about anywhere is push-ups.

a) Get on all fours with your hands stretched out more than your shoulders.
b) While bending your elbows, push your body downwards trying to keep your knees and back straight until the elbows make an angle of 90 degree.
c) Get back into your original position.
d) Repeat a,b and c 10-30 times taking a 2 minute break in between if you must.

#2. Take up Archery or Swimming

Archery, Swimming and similar resistance based sports work a bit like weightlifting exercises. Example: Rowing / Sculling. Anything where you are exerting your muscles to accomplish a task is essentially weightlifting. Including going hiking with a heavy backpack.

#3. Cardio / Aerobic Exercises

Cardio is not only the best way to lose weight but it also helps your heart to function efficiently.

While performing aerobic exercises, endorphins are released due to an increase in your heart rate which is proven to lighten up your mood - they're basically painkillers, so its a bit like you are getting high without drugs. The best thing about aerobic exercises is that you can choose to do whatever you want. Biking, Swimming, jogging, walking on the treadmill, tennis, basketball and just about
any other activity which increases your heart rate. So you're not only enjoying but also staying fit and healthy!

eg. Boxing is a cardio activity. So get yourself a punching bag or join a local boxing gym!

#4. Skipping

Skipping is one of the easiest exercise for just about anyone. From basic skipping to advanced techniques like crossovers and pretzels, this is recommended by doctors the world over. It keeps both your mind and heart fit, helps in gaining height and is known to prevent osteoporosis. It is much more efficient than walking or jogging and keeps your whole body engaged. Doing this for just 10 minutes a day can help teenagers stay fit.

For extra challenge wear a backpack with some books in it while skipping. The extra weight will make this cardio activity more like a weightlifting exercise for your legs.

#5. Yoga

Already a trend worldwide, Yoga can also be incorporated by teens to stay fit. The best thing about yoga is that it not only keeps your body healthy, but also your mind healthy. It helps you to be calm and decreases stress - and less stress means less binging on junk food. More than workouts, yoga is about poses. One of the most basic pose is Sukhasana where :

You sit cross-legged, back straight, heel inwards towards groin, hands resting on your legs and you breathe in and out.

There are over 80 poses which you can do, some of which are basic while others a bit more intimidating. Doing yoga 30 minutes a day is enough to feel healthier and more relaxed.

#6. Take up a Sport or Martial art

It is easier for teens to take up a sport or martial art of their choice because they have a lot more free time than adults do. The sport, whether it is competitive or just for fun, will help them to stay in shape and lose weight. Regularly practicing, exercising and playing is not only fun but also rewarding.

Examples of Fun Sports / Martial Arts

Aikido
Archery
Boxing
Capoeira (Brazilian martial art that combines dancing)
Competitive Cycling
Competitive Dancing
Fencing
Figure Skating
Football
Hockey
Jiu Jitsu
Judo
Karate
Kendo
Krav Maga
Kung Fu (eg. Jun Fan Gung Fu)
Muay Thai
Olympic Wrestling
Parkour / Freerunning
Rollerblading
Soccer
Tae Kwon Do

If you do take up a sport or martial art try to get a good instructor. Having an instructor will mean learning the proper (and safe) way to do various activities within the sport.

Health Benefits of Dates

Although popular in baked sweets, Dates are excellent in salads, stews, on their own, and soaked overnight in milk and yogurt. Dates can also be ground into a paste and used as a delicious and healthy substitution for many ingredients.
 
They also have a long list of health benefits.

Health Benefits of Dates

-Good source of fiber
-Contains calcium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium
-Aids digestion, prevents constipation
-Can prevent abdominal cancer
-Prevents and treats intestinal disorders
-Great for quick energy
-Due to their fiber, sweetness and filling nature, they're a great "in-between meal" snack for a weight loss program. They're approximately 20 calories each!
-Heart healthy
-It is said that dates are great for sexual stamina, fertility and overall improved sexual health
-Low inn sodium

Gently wash dates before eating. Even organic dates need to be washed because organic food is not completely pesticide free (technically organic food is no better for you, because its genetically modified to contain pesticides). Plus dates are sticky and a trap for impurities.
 
Soaking in milk or water, or eating them straight from the package are both tasty ways to enjoy dates. 
 
Refrigeration will help keep them fresh for longer.
 
And if they're good enough for Indiana Jones, they're good enough for the rest of us!

Do Fitness Games like Wii Fit really work?

Q

"Hello!

Do Fitness Games like Wii Fit really work? I've heard a lot of positive and negative reviews about them and I am curious as to whether its worth trying."

- Jake G.

A

Hello Jake!

Fitness games are a big trend right now both in the fitness industry and in the video game industry, so there is going to be a lot of confusing reviews / testimonials out there aimed at selling Wii Fit and video game workouts.
 
There are some benefits to using such gaming equipment to improve your fitness levels, especially if you try the yoga and lower body strength exercises, but some of the exercises use very little motion and thus barely count as an exercise.

Some games like Dance Dance Revolution will get you sweating, and games like Just Dance 2 (JD2) are fun and fast paced, and some people swear by Wii Tennis as a good cardio exercise, but overall such games are pretty hit and miss.
 
Wii Archery for example has no exercise component at all, whereas real archery is more like weightlifting because it uses resistance training, balance and you need stamina to hold the bow steady.

For beginners, you will definitely get a good workout if you really get into the more active exercises available on such game consoles. For intermediates and advanced exercise enthusiasts, playing for 30 minutes a week could be a great supplement to an already existing exercise regimen. 
 
Such games have been proven to keep seniors more active and many homes for the elderly have invested in such game consoles. Don't expect to "lose 100 lbs playing Wii Fit" like some of the reviews you will find online. To get that kind of results you would need to be playing it 10 to 15 hours per week for a year and be doing the really active exercises.
 
Thus if you're lazy about your approach to these games and you play the games which require less movement, then you won't really see much benefit. So it really does depend on how often you play it and which exercises you choose to do.

Another fitness trend you will be seeing more of is the iPhone and iPad is fitness applications, podcast workouts and health/diet organizers. Examples include: Fitness Pro, Lose It, Fitness Builder, iTreadmill and GYM Goal ABC. Downloading podcasts with full workouts or informational seminars is free and easy. Plus you can also pick out any number of fitness/diet journals, calorie counters, grocery list creators and recipe apps.

Normally advancements in technology would make us lazy. Devices that do the exact opposite is proving to be unexpectedly cool.

Two Plank Variations

The beauty of Plank exercises is that they take no equipment to do and they're super frugal.

The sad part is that many people hate doing doing plank exercises because they are, admittedly, very difficult for some people to do.

Take these two exercises below as examples. They're extra hard, despite looking deceivingly simple. Its a whole love-hate paradox. Plank exercises do wonders for your abs, back, arms and even your legs... but many people hate them with a passion.

The Knee Drop Plank

In the standard front plank position from the forearms and elbows, just bend only from the knees until they tap the floor. Perform reps for one minute using slow and controlled movements. This can also be done in a side plank position.

The Twisting Plank

From the same starting position in front plank, focus on swiveling your hips from side to side. You are aiming your hip toward the floor (but not touching) and focusing the movement in obliques.

Get Better Sleep = Sleep Healthier

Want to live longer and have a happier more stress-free life?

Start by sleeping healthier.

If you are one of those problem sleepers who keeps tossing and turning like a tornado that just can't get comfortable and looking panicky at your clock every half hour, well then you are not alone. There are quite a few people out there who have unhealthy sleep patterns - and it messes with their health, their weight, their ability to focus/concentrate and a whole batch of other problems. Getting a proper night's sleep is crucial if you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle or accomplish a variety of fitness goals.

But instead of focusing on the ills, lets focus on the cure.

1. Don't exercise in the evening - Do stretches instead.

Exercising too much will rev you up and keep you awake! Keep your fitness regimen to the morning. It may mean waking up ultra early but once you develop the routine, you will fall asleep earlier at night.

If you want to do anything before bed the best alternative is to do stretching or light yoga for 5 minutes.

If you do exercise in the evening time it so it is 2 hours before sleeping so you don't get revved up too close to your bedtime. You need that cool down period before sleeping. This is why stretching is better because it won't rev your muscles / blood pressure up, and it will help you feel more relaxed.

2. Write a to-do list before bed.

If you are the type that cannot sleep because too much is on your mind, get it out in the form of a list. Then you know what has to be done, and you can worry about the details the next day.

3. Don't eat too late or drink caffeine after 4 PM.

Food gives you energy. Keep your dinner or evening snack light, and cut off caffeine in the afternoon around 4 PM. For best results cut out soda pop and tea (except perhaps chamomile since that helps you sleep).

4. Wake Up Earlier.

If you get up earlier in the morning, thanks to an alarm clock, you will have less problems falling asleep at night. It will be rough at first, but you will see much better results once you get used to the routine.

5. Get a regular schedule.

The more routine your sleeping patterns are, the better chance you have to fall asleep. It is inconsistencies that result in bad patterns. Train your body to sleep and wake by sticking to a schedule. It will be hard at first, especially if you are trying to go to bed and wake up earlier. Once the habit is established for 21 days, it will really help cement your sleeping patterns and it will stabilize!

6. Avoid Light / Loud Noises

Get some extra thick curtains for the bedroom which you can pull shut easier. Someone should really invent a device that opens the curtains in the morning on a timer. That would be so awesome. Avoid playing loud music while you are trying to sleep. If you need some kind of noise / music get a fan or turn the volume down really low and set it so it will stop playing in an hour or so.

7. Naps

Afternoon naps, around noon / 1 PM are good for you. Primates (apes, chimpanzees, etc) all take siestas in the afternoon and the human species are supposed to take naps too. That is why in the afternoon you often feel tired around 1 PM, but most people just ignore it and keep working. However if you work from home / have a flexible schedule then taking daily naps is an option for you.

And even if you don't have a flexible schedule try to sneak in a nap or two on the weekends. You will feel better and more well rested.

Live Long and Prosper!

Why a Stopwatch is Important

If you don't have a personal trainer or an exercise partner who can time you, well then you should really consider getting a stopwatch for doing a variety of exercises - especially Interval Training.

Indeed. Some stopwatches are specifically made for Interval Training - one such stopwatch is the Gymboss Interval Timer which you can clip on to your belt during your workouts. You can also get stopwatches which has a light for early morning or late night running.

A stopwatch is a bit like your own little personal trainer, but without all the fancy motivational advice. Many people have the tendency to not push hard enough when working out at their own pace and they need more of a regimented approach to truly challenge themselves. They will complete a few sets of exercises, and then they wander around, and maybe looking into the mirror expecting to see some kind of instant results. Then they do another couple of sets, followed by writing a couple of text messages to friends...Well you get the idea. They're too relaxed and not really paying attention to their activity that much and sort of daydreaming about their end results.

Stopwatches can help put a stop to that (as fun as daydreaming is!) and take care of your mental focus, especially if you can set them on intervals. Here are some examples of how to use a stopwatch for a more intense workout:

Set your stopwatch to interval every 2 minutes and then 1 minute. The combinations will be endless. Think of the 2 minutes as intense exercise, and 1 for recovery / slowdown period.

Run 2 mins, abs 1 min
Lift weights 2 minutes, kick side to side or punch 1 min
Run 2 minutes, walk 1 min
As many push ups and crunches as you can do 2 mins, stretch 1 min
Weightlifting 2 mins, yoga 1 min

If your stopwatch doesn't do timed intervals, no problem! Use it for timed exercises such as planks, wall sits, pulsing lunges and for running up and down the stairs.

You can also use your stopwatch to time your workout exercises individual length, making sure you do each exercise for 1 minute. A 30 minute workout really adds up quickly, and since you will be racing against the clock each minute, it WILL be more intense.

Bust Firming Exercises

Many female celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe (see Marilyn Monroe's Diet and Exercise Routine) are fans of bust firming exercises.

The bust also goes by the names "breasts", "chest" and a variety of derogatory slang words like "boobies". Regardless of what you choose to call them, they are an area on the body that a majority of women would like to firm up so they look more perky and less saggy. The way to do this is through some exercises that involve a variety of weightlifting and body weight exercises.

Note: Men who want larger pecs (pectoral muscles) can also benefit from these exercises.

Bust Firming Misconceptions and Myths

The breasts themselves cannot be made larger through exercise, because they consist of glands and are 80% fatty tissue - hence why obese women (and sometimes men) have larger breasts. But there are muscles underneath the breasts and above them that can be targeted - the pectorals. Working these muscles might not increase the size of your bust, but they can make your breasts firmer and more perky. Even men can benefit from these exercises by building larger chest muscles - "pecs".

Bust-firming exercises often involve body weight exercises and the weight lifting items like dumbbells, kettlebells and possibly an adjustable bench. The exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home, provided you have the tools and the space, or in the gym. Many of these exercises are very easy to learn.

BUST FIRMING EXERCISES

For best results repeat the exercises below three times a week on alternating days. Do 10 to 15 reps and 5 sets of each exercise. 

#1. Push-ups

Push-ups are a popular body weight exercise that anyone can do - and they are an excellent breast-firming exercise. To do these, lie on your stomach on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders. Push your body straight up in the air until your arms are locked. Keep your back straight and lower yourself to the floor until your chest is about a fist-width away. Push yourself back up and repeat. If this is too difficult, you can place you knees on the floor.

If bored try doing a variety of other push-up style exercises that target the pectorals.

#2. Incline Press or Bench Press

Doing incline presses or bench presses are two bust-firming exercises that targets the upper chest muscles. It can be accomplished using either dumbbells or barbells.

To do an incline press, adjust your bench to 45 degrees. Hold on to the dumbbells, lie back on the bench and place your hands at chest level with your palms facing forward. Push the weights straight up in the air and bring them toward each other until they are about an inch away. Lower them back down by bending your elbows and repeat.

#3. Chest Flyes

Chest flyes can also be done with the bench, and you can do them at an incline position or flat. Lie on the bench with your arms straight up and your palms facing each other. Slightly bend your elbows and maintain the bend. Lower your arms to your sides until they are about parallel to the floor then bring them back up. To do chest flyes, you will need to use lighter weights.

#4. Chest Squeezes

A Swiss ball is a functional training tool that is often used to work the abs. However you can also use it to do a chest exercise called a "chest squeeze". To do this exercise lift the ball up with your hands or forearms placed right in the center. Squeeze it as hard as you can for 20 to 30 seconds and release. If you don't have a Swiss ball you could also use a football, basketball, etc.

Making Healthier Food Choices

Sometimes you have to think smart when it comes to making healthier food choices. Here are some examples:

Having Chocolate Milk instead of Coca-Cola.

Ordering a Hamburger without the Cheese and Bacon.

Having Red Wine instead of Beer.

Packing a healthy lunch instead of eating out for lunch (most fast food places that cater to the 9-5 crowd don't serve healthy food as its often deep fried).

Having juice instead of a high-sugar energy drink.

Ideally what you want is to pick foods higher in fibre / protein / nutrients / minerals and lower in sugar.

While it is true that to lose weight, a dieter will want to eat less than he or she is burning through exercise and daily activities, it's important to make quality food choices so you are getting more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff. On the most basic level, a calorie is a calorie regardless of the source, and that yes, you could eat 1000 calories a day in pizza, fill up on water, and lose drastic amounts of weight - getting all your fibre / protein / nutrients / minerals from pizza isn't really a healthy way to do it.
 
There are much healthier ways to lose weight and still take in 1600 to 2000 calories per day.

Weight loss is about more than just keeping the calorie count lowered. Eating healthy is a lifestyle change that will take work, by figuring out how to make every calorie burn efficiently in your body.
 
Take the pizza as an example. It has refined sugar in the white flour crust, saturated fat in the greasy cheese, and any meaty topping is sure to be high in sodium and fat. These foods are not helping your body for a long term slow releasing energy burn, digestive help, or assisting with lowering blood pressure and preventing illness and disease.

A slice of plain cheese pizza from a walk-in shop is roughly 600 calories. 600 calories is a lot when you are making every calorie count. And if you are only eating 2 slices per day (and that is your entire diet) then you will end feeling very hungry.

Instead of having the slice you could have:

-A bowl of mixed bean salad (1 cup) 200 cal
-With a side of 1% cottage cheese (1/2 cup) with 1 Tbsp of ground flax seed 200 cal
-Steamed vegetables (1/2 cup) 50 cal
-5 Brazil nuts 100 cal
-A small apple 50 cal
 
That way you would be getting a larger amount of food, not feel hungry all the time, and still have a lowered amount of calories. Eating foods with lots of fibre, nutrients and so forth help you to feel full without starving yourself.

Note that the amount of food mentioned above could actually be two meals! It contains much leaner proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, dairy and healthy fats. Your body will be able to use this much more effectively than a slice of pizza ever could!

It just goes to show that while calories should be reduced to lose weight, healthy choices are still very much a part of making healthier choices.
 
Of course sometimes you still want to treat yourself, and that is where things like chocolate milk come in. Yes, its a treat, but its high in calcium and protein.

How to Curb the Munchies

Suppressing your appetite doesn't actually work. You will just end up binging on food later, especially anything high in carbs or sugar.
 
The best solution to curb the munchies... is to munch!
 
But you do so by packing healthy snacks that you love and then eating those whenever you feel hungry.
 
Apples, fruits, low-fat granola bars, nuts, berries, yogurt.
 
You can eat healthy and still snack if you know what to eat.

Why do we crave junk food or large portions of food?
  1. We are bored
  2. We waited too long to eat and now the hunger is insatiable
  3. We like to watch TV or be on the computer when snacking
  4. We like to eat with friends
  5. Junk food just tastes too good.
The common reasons seem to come down to these five. Let's match them up with solutions:
  1. Boredom. Don't laugh when I suggest this, but exercise. I'm absolutely serious. Not only is it good for you and a productive way to spend your time but after working your butt off you may just be motivated to reach for almonds instead of chips, or make a healthy meal instead of hitting up the closest fast food joint.
  2. Waiting too long to eat. Simple solution, don't get to this point! Remember to eat a hearty breakfast and lunch. Even if you don't feel like it. Your body will adapt to earlier eating and by the evening, you won't even be that hungry! Don't be afraid to have a snack too as that tiny snack will prevent you from overeating later.
  3. Do NOT watch TV and eat! I know it's really hard not to but try something else instead, like having a conversation. If you're on your own just eat and listen to music instead of watching TV because at least with music its only 3 to 4 minutes to the next track, whereas with TV you feel compelled to go get more food during commercials and watch the rest of the show. Think, scheme, or just look into the bowl and focus on the meal. It may seem weird at first but when you're doing something else and eating, it's almost as though you haven't had anything to eat at all. You eventually look down onto the plate, and the food is gone! It's seconds waiting to happen!
  4. Social eating can be a real problem. Every time you go out with friends it won't take long until someone pops into the convenience store, or heads out to grab a slice of pizza. Remind yourself that hanging out with friends is social, and that's what you're going to focus on. Spending time with people you care about is fun and enjoyable, and by the time you get home, you'll be ready for your healthy dinner.
  5. The best solution to avoid irresistible junk food is to not have it in the house. Just put it back on the shelf and don't buy the stuff. Eat junk food sparingly when you're out or once in a while but if it's always in the cupboard, a handful here and there will easily turn into a daily habit.
Drinking tea or water will also fill you up until you can get home, to avoid unhealthy snacking, and junk food alternatives like dried fruit and nuts. In the end you will have to learn to exercise your willpower to break junk and fast food habits... but the tips above will make finding that willpower easier.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

Subscribe by Email

Followers

Popular Posts

Cardio Trek Posts