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5 Tips on How to Use Shoulder Bags

Shoulder Bags are a rather simple but effective way to exercise and build a variety of muscles. They are a bit gimmicky, but essentially very easy to use and a great way to build core muscles faster.

Each bag, regardless of size, goes around your neck and sits comfortably on top of your shoulders. Walking around with one burns extra calories, as does jogging, and doing a host of other activities.

Tips on Using Shoulder Bags

#1. Avoid Dangerous Activities

Never use a shoulder bag while doing anything potentially dangerous, such as swimming or cycling. The added weight on a bicycle would make you top-heavy and more likely to crash. While swimming, that extra weight would dramatically reduce your bouyancy and put you in danger of drowning. So definitely avoid using shoulder bags during any activity that could lead you to crash, drown, or potentially sustain some kind of injury.

#2. Do NOT Wear A Shoulder Bag Constantly

Unless you love having back pain and developing sports injuries, then you really should only be using a shoulder bag while exercising - like when taking a walk, a jog, doing other weightlifting activities, and so forth. Wearing one constantly means your muscles don't get a chance to relax, recuperate and repair themselves. During a state of constant wear and tear your muscles would actually break down, become chronically painful, and would actually shrink instead of bulking up. Having extended breaks between exercises promotes healing and muscle growth and wearing a shoulder bag constantly would prevent such healing.

#3. Sleeping Position and Diet

You should find a sleeping position that allows your back muscles to relax more fully. This will allow them to heal and bulk up faster. The same goes with your diet, your diet needs to match your exercise routine so you are getting enough calories, protein and nutrients - so think lots of veggies and meat. This way your body gets plenty of sleep and has the right amount of protein to be used a building blocks and the right amount of nutrient rich veggies to speed up the process.

A lack of quality sleep and a lack of healthy food wrecks havoc with your potential muscle gain.

#4. Size Matters, as does Time

When choosing shoulder bags to use you should start off small and then gradually work your way up to heavier weights. Thus you should always start off with a 5 KG bag, regardless of your current physical condition.

Use the 5 KG bag during your exercise routine for 6 to 8 weeks and then switch to a 10 KG bag. Then use that for 8 to 10 weeks before switching to a 15 KG bag, and so forth.
  • 5 KG - Use for 6 to 8 weeks.
  • 10 KG - Use for 8 to 10 weeks.
  • 15 KG - Use for 10 to 12 weeks.
  • 20 KG - Use for 12 to 14 weeks.
  • 25 KG - Use for 14 to 16 weeks.
  • 30 KG - Good luck even finding bags in this size or bigger. They do exist, but are trickier to find.
This way your body adjusts gradually to the weights and you are over-straining yourself. If you switch to a larger bag and feel like it is too much for you, go back to the previous bag size and use it for an additional 4 to 6 weeks before trying the bigger bag again. This way you give your body extra time to build the necessary muscles.

Patience and Restraint are Virtues, not just in Weightlifting but also in Life.

#5. Specific Exercises

You should research specific exercises that work well with Shoulder Bags. Shoulder Bag are great for increasing core stability, thus you can add these bags to a multitude of exercises such as:
  • Lunges
  • Barbell Squats
  • Dumbbell Squats
  • Solitary Squats
  • Jumps
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Skip Rope
  • Boxing
 And many more! Enjoy!

Five Ways for Building a Stronger Chest

Guest Post by Alycia Gordan

A rippling, strong and broad chest is an admirable trait in men that is achieved through sheer hard work and dedication. However, contrary to popular belief, growing a larger and stronger chest is not only about exercise. It is a science and needs to be worked around with technique and precision.

It is easy to think that hours of strength training can give you the strong chest of your dreams. In reality though, there are various dos and don’ts involved with achieving this type of physique.

If you are aiming to build a big chest, here are some ways that you can achieve your goal faster:

#1. The Right Kind of Exercises

The Pectoral Major and Minor make up a person’s chest muscles. Hence, both these muscles need to be exercised to make the chest grow. Pectoral Major is the large fan shaped part of the chest and Pectoral Minor lies underneath it.

Some exercises work on one muscle in isolation whereas some target both the chest muscles together. Performing the right kind of exercise is essential as that will target the particular body part that you want to enhance.

The most popular chest strengthening exercise is a bench press. This exercise is an ultimate muscle builder. More and more weight needs to be added gradually to give the chest muscles a throbbing workout.

Inclined dumbbell press, flat dumbbell fly, bar dip, weighted dips and push-ups are some other popular and effective chest building exercises. Keep in mind that your workout should be so rigorous that each and every rep should count and exhaust the chest muscles extensively.

#2. Increase your Diet

It goes without saying that skinny or underweight people cannot have a strong, broad chest. Moreover, bench press and similar exercises can only get you so far in your quest. To build a broad chest, you need to up your nutrition intake. Consider nutrition as a raw material and a chiseled, rippled body as the final product.

Hence, more calories are required to build more mass. The more nutrition rule applies to both pre and post workouts. Before the workout, you need nutritious, high calorie foods to provide energy for the laborious workout that you will indulge in. Similarly, a meal containing high protein content is required for muscle recovery and growth after an exhausting exercise session.

Your high calorie intake should never come from processed, fatty foods. Instead, your diet should comprise proteins such as chicken, lean beef, eggs and whey along with complex carbs derived from brown rice, sweet potato, barley and oats. The good fats can be consumed in the form of flax seeds, avocado, quinoa and nuts.

Furthermore, you can also use supplement boosters that are usually loaded with carbs and conveniently help to replenish the energy stores in the body taking your training session up a notch.

A simple calculation you can remember is to take 150-200 grams of carbs per day. Your protein consumption should be fixed at 1-1.2 gram per pound of body weight. Similarly, 15% of your diet should comprise healthy fats.

#3. Muscle Overload

The simple truth is that if you want to grow your chest muscles, you have to overload them to the extent that they are damaged! Sounds gruesome but in reality, it is not like that. Muscles grow back bigger and stronger after a strenuous training session. Hence, the more the muscle overload and damage, the bigger the muscles.

This is the reason why high intensity programs are used to gain mass. They work really well! Try to build up your time under tension. For instance, doing 20 reps builds more tension than 15 reps. Similarly, even adding 1kg to your normal routine helps increase the tension in your chest muscles. Hence, ironically the more your muscles break, the greater the benefits you will reap!

#4. Squeeze your Muscles

The mind and body connection should be super strong for your workouts. By just doing your reps, you are letting your body know what you want. However, by “squeezing” your chest muscle after every rep also signals to your brain that you mean business.

Squeezing your chest muscles after every rep will amplify the burn feeling which you experience after a workout and, of course, the more the burning sensation, the better.

#5. Protein Consumption

With such an intense workout, you need to provide the right type of nutrition to your overworked muscles to help them re-grow. A consumption of 23-25 grams of protein right after a demanding workout will help those muscles grow back bigger and stronger. Protein is proven to help rebuild the broken muscle fibers after an exercise. To achieve best results, add glutamine to your protein shake which contains amino acids that are imperative in generating stronger muscles.

When aiming for such high body related goals, one also has to understand that proper rest is as important as workout. If you opt to come to the gym 6 days a week and indulge in such a rigorous routine every day, your muscles, nerves, bones and tissues will not have the opportunity to rebuild. Moreover, your strained muscles will be at a higher risk of being injured.

If you follow the advice mentioned above, we are sure you will only be a few months away from the body of your dreams! It is time to officially say hello to a huge, ripped and swoon-worthy chest!

AUTHOR BIO - Alycia Gordan

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer. She loves to read and write article related to health and lifestyle, sometime on health-tech as well. She is crazy about chocolates and you can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

The Grace Diet

Your goal in the Grace Diet is to diet gracefully.

But what does that mean?

It is essentially a slow gentle diet, one that anyone can do, and does not require huge amounts of willpower or crash dieting - just a small amount of willpower can get the job done, and a large dose of graceful patience. It involves slowly cutting back and/or avoiding foods you know are bad for you and embracing foods that are healthier, but going through this whole process slowly.

The principle of the diet is similar to the tradition of giving up something for Lent (the Sunday after Ash Wednesday). Except instead of giving up 1 thing per year, you are instead giving up / avoiding one thing per month, with cumulative results over a 12 month or longer period.

To start make a list of 12 foods you consume regularly that you know are unhealthy for you.

Example of 12 Foods to Avoid
  1. Soda Pop drinks
  2. Potato Chips
  3. Beer and/or Sugary Alcohol
  4. High Calorie White Bread
  5. Sugary Cookies
  6. Desserts in General (except on special occasions)
  7. Sugary/Salty Snacks
  8. Fatty Meat
  9. Coffee with Sugar/Cream
  10. Greasy hamburgers or greasy food in general
  11. Syrup on your pancakes
  12. Milk chocolate (high in sugar) / sugary chocolate bars
Then each month cut out one of those foods and start avoiding it. Simultaneously you substitute the food you are avoiding with something healthier.

For best results you should try to focus on foods that are high in calories, and replace that with a food that is lower in calories.

The Substitutions

For example lets say you drink a lot of Coca-Cola. One month you dump the Coca-Col and from then onward you only drink ice water (or Coke Zero, which has zero calories). Then each month you repeat the process, dumping one unhealthy food and substituting something that is healthier. This process over time slowly weans you off your addiction to sugary, salty and high calorie foods.

Examples of 12 Substitutions
  1. Ice Water instead of Soda Pop drinks
  2. Popcorn instead of Potato Chips
  3. Low Carb Beer instead of Beer and/or Sugary Alcohol
  4. Low Calorie Whole Wheat Bread instead of High Calorie White Bread
  5. Oatmeal Cookies instead of Sugary Cookies
  6. Fruits instead of Desserts in General (except on special occasions)
  7. Savoury Snacks instead of Sugary/Salty Snacks
  8. Lean Meat instead of Fatty Meat
  9. Tea or Black Coffee instead of Coffee with Sugar/Cream
  10. Healthy Non-Greasy Hamburgers/instead of Greasy hamburgers or greasy food in general
  11. Berries instead of Syrup on your pancakes
  12. Dark Chocolate instead of Milk chocolate (high in sugar) / sugary chocolate bars
 So why does the Grace Diet work?

Well for starters it is really easy to find the willpower to cut out 1 non-healthy food per month and gradually change your diet slowly over time. This makes the whole process easy. It is so easy you will probably never find a book on this diet either, because once you understand how the diet works, having a book about it is truly unnecessary.

Secondly, it is not a crash diet where you go from consuming all your usual foods to struggling to figure out what you are even allowed to eat / starving yourself and suffering from hunger pains / cravings. Instead the Grace Diet is a slow gradual process which allows you to wean yourself off the foods you need to avoid.

This whole replacement process requires you to make an effort to deliberately replace one food with another which is healthier, but fortunately this is comparatively easy because you are only replacing 1 food at a time - baby steps, one step at a time. That wee bit of willpower is all you really need to stick to.

The replacement food is important too; the diet isn't going to work if you get rid of Fatty Meat and you are not replacing it with Lean Meat, for example. If you skip finding a substitute then you could end up binging on something else that is equally bad or worse for you. You have to replace it with a healthier substitute that fulfills the craving.

Each time you switch foods you also need to avoid any temptations to binge on a food. Your goal essentially is to feel like you are eating normally. Thus binging on something you know is bad for you is definitely a no no.

Customization of the Grace Diet

For example lets say your doctor wants you to avoid salty foods. So you could customize this diet by avoiding 12 foods you know to be high in salt.

Or depending on how dire your situation is, 52 foods. Getting rid of 1 food per week, starting with the biggest sources of salt, and replacing it with a food your doctor would approve of.

Example Variations on the Grace Diet
  • The Beach Body Grace Diet - a faster version designed to get you ready for bikini season.
  • The Low Fat Grace Diet
  • The Low Sodium Grace Diet
  • The Low Sugar Grace Diet

Find a New Hobby

While doing all of this it is also recommended that you take up a new hobby. Whether it be painting, going for walks, doing nature photography, or trying a new sport. The goal of the new hobby is to take your mind off food cravings. Ideally try to find a hobby you can dive into and obsess over.

Eg. You could develop an obsession for the sport of archery.

Your choice of hobby is a matter of personal preference, and what you choose to do is less important than whether or not it does its job of causing you to forget about food cravings. Thus your new obsession should be something enjoyable. If your goal is weight loss, try to pick a hobby that involves cardio exercise.

End Goal of the Grace Diet

Keep getting rid of unhealthy foods until you reach your desired weight. So if you lose 50 lbs and go from 220 to 170, that is a good amount and you should be proud. If that is your desired weight then all you have to do afterwards is maintain your weight by continuing to eat what you now eat normally. You have achieved a balanced diet.

If you continue to lose weight later on, this might be due to you exercising more and/or a a faster metabolism.

If continued weight loss becomes a problem you can then re-add foods, similar to Reverse Dieting, until your weight stabilizes. So if you had given up bacon at an early stage of your Grace Diet, you can now re-add bacon to help stabilize your desired weight.

Please bear in mind muscle mass and bone density can also cause your weight to fluctuate. If you are weightlifting regularly then your muscle mass and bone density will go up, increasing your weight in the process. Such fluctuations are normal. Don't become discouraged if you see minor weight fluctuations up and down.

6 Ways to Make Running more Fun!

Guest Post by Cara H.

Are you getting bored or find it increasingly difficult to get yourself to go out running? Why not turn running into a more enjoyable experience and get back to finding running a fun activity? Here are 6 ways to make running more fun:

1. Choose beautiful places for your running sessions.

Why not explore a nearby beautiful park, instead of running around your dull neighborhood streets? By focusing on exploring new places, and running near landmarks you enjoy, you will find much more joy in running as well. So, plan your next run to somewhere you love going or wish you could go to. You will find yourself much more motivated to go run there.

In Toronto, check out the following locations to run for fun:

High Park
The Don Valley (aka the Don River Trail)
Rouge Park
Beaches
Sunnybrook Park
Stan Wadlow Park
Charles Sauriol Conservation Area
Tommy Thompson Park
Toronto Island Park
Humber Bay Park
West Humber Parkland
Martin Goodman Trail
The Beltline Trail
The Humber River Trail


2. Rejoice for the progress made.

Enjoy the fact that you are continuously improving your running performance and results. Track your steps, times and progress, so that you can feel the satisfaction of your improved performance.

3. Treat yourself to rewards for the efforts.

Plan a fun dinner with friends after a long run, or reward yourself with a beautiful new running accessory when you reach a specific running related goal of yours (hint: bright coloured shoes will definitely lift up your mood). You can enjoy a small forbidden treat or drink after a long run too, but without overdoing it on calories of course.

Hot Tip - Chocolate Milk makes a good after run treat, as it contains a good amount of protein, calcium and energy.


4. Get a running buddy.

Running is always more fun if you have a running buddy to join you. It is perfect if you can engage one or more of your close friends or your significant other to run with you. Run at a comfortable talking pace, so that you can have a conversation with your running buddy. This will definitely make the experience much more enjoyable. Even if you can’t find a friend who is willing to run with you - don’t worry, just do some research on your local running groups and join one of them. You will meet new people, and possibly make new friends on the way.

5. Listen to some great music.

Create a playlist with your favorite tunes to listen to when running. It is better if you pick high energy, faster songs, especially if you want to push on your running pace. There are a number of readily available playlists for running on Spotify and other music websites. If you prefer, you can catch up on your reading, and listen to the latest bestselling e-book while running. It will keep you engaged, and will make running much more enjoyable too.

Inspirational music also works well too. Music that makes you feel inspired, energetic and wanting to run harder.


6. Take part in races.

There is nothing more satisfying than that feeling of reaching the finish line with a crowd cheering on! Enjoy the fun of the competition and your result at the finish line. Don’t be afraid to sign up for a race. You will be able to explore new places, meet new people, enjoy refreshing snacks and challenge yourself to reach the result you have planned.

Obstacle races are the real deal, if you are looking for the fun part of the running. Even if you do not finish first, the joy of taking part in the race will be sufficient to keep you happy and satisfied, believe me!

Archery Lessons in the Rain in Toronto

It has been raining so much in the last two months (April and May) that I am curious how many people actually want archery lessons on rainy days.

Normally if it rains I reschedule lessons for several reasons:
  1. Water damages equipment.
  2. Water also causes mildew to grow on equipment.
  3. People are susceptible to getting sick if they get cold.
  4. People don't want to be standing in a field holding a potential lightning rod.
  5. People often feel miserable when shooting in the rain, which effects accuracy.
  6. A downpour will effect the accuracy of individual shots.
  7. The archer's ability to aim can be reduced by rain interfering with their visual sight.
However in theory if I used equipment that is immune to water damage I could teach on rainy days to people who are willing and up to the challenge. (I already have arrows suitable for this, although I might have to invest in different bows for teaching with than the ones I normally teach with.)

I am curious if there are people out there who would actually want archery lessons in the rain - perhaps there are people out there who really like a challenge.

If this sounds like you, send me an email and we shall explore this option.


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!

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