About Joe Vennare, PT & Fitness Program Director

Joe is a one of the nation’s top fitness trainers, a freelance writer, and a fitness entrepreneur who co-founded of Hybrid Athlete, Kettlebell Cardio™ and Race Day Domination. Follow him on Twitter, @JoeVennare.


Get A Sexy Sculpted Back With These Exercises

465837345When it comes to tightening and toning, there is no shortage of workouts for the arms and abs. The legs and lower body get a lot of attention, too. But what about the best workout for the back muscles?

Both men and women can benefit from a well planned back routine. Guys can achieve the “V” shaped frame that funnels wide lats into a smaller waste. On the other hand, ladies can sculpt a sexy back, then show it off while wearing a tank top or strapless dress. No matter your fitness goals, use these exercises to bolster your back workout.

RELATED READING: 5 Exercises For A Sexy Brazilian Butt

Pull your Weight

178032417For most people, the pull up is like Bigfoot. There are reports of its existence, but they’ve never seen it for themselves. Hanging from a bar and pulling yourself through the air presents a unique challenge. It’s a combination of back, arm and core strength. If you’re able to do a pull-up performing three to five sets to failure is a surefire way to build a lean back.

Next, consider integrating variations like the wide, close grip, or chin-up into the training mix. These moves can be performed as a standalone part of the workout or in between other exercises to create supersets or circuits.

If it’s muscle mass you’re after, try adding weight to the pull up. You can throw on a weighted vest or hold a dumbbell between your legs. Increasing the amount of weight you are pulling up will overload the muscles, increase strength and size over time.

For anyone who’s not quite ready for the pull up, let alone additional weights, get started with the suspended row. This move requires the use of a power rack or Smith machine. With the barbell secured, lay under the bar on your back then grasp the bar with both hands. The bar should be high enough so that your arms are fully extended. Next, engage your entire body, like you would in a plank position. Keep your body rigid while rowing your cheek to the bar. Perform three sets of 12 repetitions for this exercise.

RELATED READING: 4 Exercises For Toned And Defined Arms

Back in Action

gym woman and her trainerThere are a number exercises for the back that go beyond the pull up. Get in on the action by including the lat pull down in your training routine. This exercise machine will have you grasping a bar overhead and pulling it to chest height. Executing this move is combination of squeezing your shoulder blades together and your elbows to your sides. Once the bar is at chin or chest height, return it slowing to the starting position.

Finally, don’t forget to focus on the lower back. Targeting this area will improve core strength and contribute to strength gains in other exercises. The barbell deadlift is an excellent option here. Starting with a barbell on the ground, grasp the bar with both hands using an overhand grip. Driving through the heels, while maintaining a proud chest and positive arch in the back, pull the bar to your waist as you stand up. Lower the bar slowly back to the ground and repeat. If you’re new to this exercise, try a lower weight first and work your way up. Have someone spot you to watch your form. Believe me, you don’t want to strain your lower back. 

Both the lat pull down and deadlift can be completed for three to four sets of 8-12 repetitions. Again, a word of caution: If you’re new to exercise or these specific exercises, start by using a light weight until you master the proper form. Then, in no time, you’ll be on your way to a sexy, sculpted back. 



Workouts You Need To Stop Doing

158584444Fitness is simple. Move more, more often. But we tend to make exercise more complicated than it needs to be.

We have apps and ab machines, cardio equipment and confusing workout routines. It doesn’t have to be this way.

RELATED READING: Global Fitness Trends

What’s Trending on the fitness scene

We’ve come a long way since the days of step aerobics and Sweating to the Oldies, but that doesn’t mean we have everything figured out. Nowadays fitness gurus and marketing experts still manage to have their way with fitness seekers. Consider what’s trending in the workout world: CrossFit is crushing the competition, as trend marketers seek to redefine fitness. There are obstacle course races like the Spartan Race and Tough Mudder that are attracting weekend warriors and first-time exercisers alike. Let’s take a closer look at these trendy workouts and why they might not be the right choice for you!

The Good, Bad and Ugly: some workouts can be risky

When it comes to fitness, there’s no exact science, there is no one perfect workout routine. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you. That said, some things do work better than others. Not to mention the fact that workouts vary with respect to intensity, skill level and exercise risk. So if you’re just starting out you wouldn’t want to go all in on a hardcore free weight routine. Similarly, if you’re an experienced exerciser, walking the dog won’t get your heart going. The trick to finding the right workout program for you starts with figuring out what not to do.

CrossFit. There’s no arguing with the fact that CrossFit has revolutionized fitness. This intense exercise program uses dynamic exercises like plyometric jumps and Olympic lifts with non-traditional weightlifting equipment such as kettlebells, sand-bags and suspension systems or water-filled implements. A number of repetitions for each exercise are done with explosive speed, so form is incredibly important for this WOD (workout of the day). It’s a suggestion that you consider your exercise experience and goals before going all in on CrossFit.

Individuals with an athletic background will feel right at home competing in this “sport of fitness.” Weekend warriors will likely welcome the intensity. But, someone new to exercise may find the environment and movements overwhelming. If you fall into the latter group, consider trying a fitness bootcamp for a similar workout experience minus the Olympic weight training and other more hardcore elements.

Obstacle Course Racing. Putting yourself in harm’s way for the sake of a workout is never a good idea. For that reason, you should think twice before signing up for an obstacle course race. It’s not that you shouldn’t do one, or that they’re not fun. But it is important to consider the risk factors. You can expect to encounter fire, electrical shock, and frigid water hazards. If those sound like a bad idea to you, opt out of obstacle racing.

If you decide that a mud run is not in your future, there are ways to add some adventurous elements into your workout routine. Try going off-road for a trail run. Hiking, biking and backpacking are also great ways to get a workout outside of the gym.

RELATED READING: When Does Exercise Become “Too Much?”

Do the workout that’s right for You

When it comes to working out, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. Don’t let the trends determine your routine. What matters most is figuring out what works for you. Think about what you enjoy and use that to create an exercise program. If you do, you’ll be more likely to stick to your workouts, make progress and have fun while getting fit.



Need Motivation At The Gym? Just Add Music

119639062We will try anything to get a boost in the gym. Caffeine and pre-workout supplements might do the trick for some, but they come with a host of potential side effects in tow. Others opt for other performance enhancing drugs, legal or otherwise. This probably isn’t the best bet either. Breaking the law seldom is.

But, what if there was a performance booster that was legit and legal? It’s also inexpensive and shown to increase motivation, while upping the intensity of your workouts. No, you don’t have to chug it or pop a handful of capsules. All you need to do is tune in and turn it up, the volume that is. Music is the performance booster that will take your workouts to a new level.

RELATED READING: Should you Work Out With A Cold Or A Flu?

The Magic Of Music

The fact that music makes working out more enjoyable might not come as a surprise. Maybe you already noticed that exercise is better with your earbuds in. But have you ever thought about why that is? What is it about music that makes exercising more manageable?

It’s All In Your Head

Pairing music with exercise packs a psychological punch that makes pain disappear. Research has shown that music distracts us from the discomforts of physical training, like fatigue. As a matter of fact, jamming while you jog can increase endurance, elevate your mood and make you forget about how hard you are actually working.

When it comes to weight training, music is a magical motivator. Tuning in before you start to train has been shown to set the tone for an entire workout. Rocking out can help ensure you hit that last rep. Then, in between sets, the rhythm of the music can keep the burn going, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure to keep you in the zone.

Music is a type of legal performance-enhancing drug, researchers say.

Costas Karageorghis, from London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education, is one of the world’s leading authorities on the psychology of exercise music.As part of an extensive review of research related to the effects of music on exercise, Karageorghis compiled a list of benefits for casual exercisers and elite athletes alike. He found, for example, that people who listen to music train more intensely – the faster the beat, the more effort and intensity, run further, and bike faster than they do otherwise. They do it without even realizing it. In fact, music can reduce the perception of effort significantly, making it less stressful, and increase endurance by as much as 15%. 

RELATED READING: Are Weight Loss Apps Really Effective?

The Best Beats: Up-tempo

The most motivational music is up-tempo and makes you want to bust a move. We want to move to the music. We want to keep up. It happens subconsciously. For that reason, music that is between 125 and 145 beats per minute seems to give us just the right amount of motivation. Hip hop is reportedly the most popular form of workout music, followed closely by rock and pop.

That said, everyone is different and there’s no right answer for what you should be listening to. Simply pick a playlist that motivates you to move more and keep on moving. Let the magic of music transform your workouts into a more effective and enjoyable exercise experience.



Bootcamp Training: Why It Works

146721672Sometimes going to the gym can be a chore. We have to create a training plan and master the machines. Just when we start to get into the swing of things, all of these things start to lose their luster. Let’s be honest, strength training machines and cardio equipment aren’t very much fun. They don’t leave us longing for more. Workouts can be boring. What’s worse is that over time they become ineffective.

If you’ve ever felt like there has to be more to this exercise experience, you’re right. There has to be more and there is. It’s called bootcamp training.

RELATED READING: Lean On Life’s Trainer Joe Weighs In On 2014 Fitness Trends

Bootcamp: What To Expect When You Enlist

Bootcamp is where we send soldiers to become all that they can be. A fitness bootcamp is the place you should go if you want to be more – more fit, more active and have more fun.

Team Up

Instead of exercising by yourself, you’ll be a part of a group or a team. There’s a sense that you’re all in this together. You’ll be encouraged to do your best. You’ll have the support of others. You’ll work harder than you thought you could.

Get More

With a coach or “drill instructor” watching you while you work out, there’s a good chance that you will get more out of your bootcamp workouts than your solo gym routine. Since your team has your back, you’re willing to try harder and do more. Plus, your training sessions are programmed for you. You don’t have to develop the workouts on your own and hope that they work. Leave that part to the instructor. You just have to show up and put in the sweat.

Test Your Limits

When we work out on our own, we’re more likely to do things that we like, the things that we’re good at. The very same workouts over and over again. That’s not the case when you sign up for a fitness bootcamp. Bootcamp workouts are modeled after military style basic training. These workouts are used to create total body fitness. That includes running and jumping, sprinting and squats. That’s right, all of the things you might be avoiding. But they’re the very same things that will make you better, stronger and more fit.

RELATED READING: The Superior Fat Burning Power Of Cold Weather Workouts

Have Fun

When you participate in a bootcamp, there’s a good chance you’ll make new fitness friends, learn new training techniques, use different equipment, and make progress. Wow, that actually sounds like fun! That’s right, getting in shape can be a good time. Joining a fitness bootcamp can certainly help make sure that happens.

Be Prepared

If you’re ready to enlist in a fitness bootcamp, go in with an open mind. There will be people at different fitness levels. Some experienced exercisers, others who are new to the scene. You might know all the moves, you might not. The important part is that you take the experience in stride. Go at your own pace. Do what you can. Make improvements over time. Don’t worry about going all out at first. Look to make bootcamp an exercise habit that sticks.



Should You Work Out With A Cold Or Flu?

158588013Moving more is good for us. Which makes regular exercise an essential component of a healthy, active lifestyle. Of course, creating that lifestyle takes time. It’s a product of repetition. That’s how we form habits. We try not to break the chain, for anything.

But what if we don’t have a choice. What happens if we come down with the flu? Should opting out of exercise be an option?

RELATED READING: 6 Immune Boosting Citrus Recipes For Winter

Our Body Knows Best

When weighing your options, to exercise or not to exercise, your body should have the final say. If you have a fever, if you’re physically drained and your bones ache, working out probably won’t work. Our body can take only so much before it shuts down. If it’s telling you that it needs a break, you should listen, as difficult as that may be. Fighting off sickness takes a lot of energy. Instead of diverting that energy to exercise, give yourself the opportunity to recover. Give yourself time to get better. Then, you can return to your regular exercise routine.

It’s Not ‘All Or Nothing’

While it’s true that our body really does know best, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a say in whether or not we exercise. If you can muster up the energy and motivation, exercising while you’re under the weather can help you bounce back. Keep in mind, illness and exercise will not be a recipe for personal bests. It’s not the time to push your limits in an attempt to make progress. At best, workouts should be focused on maintaining your current standards. Better still, think of exercising while you’re sick as a way to keep your body moving. You’re simply trying to remain active, to ease yourself back into good health.

If your body has given you the go-ahead to exercise with a cold, follow these tips for the dos and don’ts of working out while you’re under the weather.

Don’t go for endurance tests

Because we’re not trying to over-stress our already sickly selves, there are some workouts that we should try to avoid. They include long, draining endurance efforts. Running 20 miles while you have a cold is a surefire way to make things worse. Similarly, shorter more intense workouts can have a disastrous impact. In both instances, we’re asking too much of ourselves in a vulnerable state. It’s unlikely that our bodies can sustain output for a long run. The same is true for the elevated heart rate, body temperature and overall stimulus of a taxing interval workout. The smart play when you’re sick is to say to yourself, “don’t go there.”

RELATED READING: 4 Natural And Healthy Solutions To Beat The Common Cold

Choose workouts Wisely

Don’t make your cold worse; choose your workouts wisely and jump-start your recovery. Stick to low intensity activities that you enjoy. The idea is to reduce stress, not to be the source of it. Your cold has that under control. Since we already know the activities we should avoid, let’s look at those workouts that we’re giving the go-ahead.

Yoga, Pilates And Calisthenics: Easy stretching, controlled breathing, relaxation techniques, flexibility training. Yes, those are all illness approved forms of exercise.

Walking, Jogging, Cycling: When done at a low or moderate intensity, breaking a sweat can help alleviate the signs of sickness. Just remember to take it easy and keep it short.

Strength Training: Pumping iron could go either way. Attempting to move as much weight as possible is too taxing on the body. It takes time to recover from that type of workout. Your body needs that energy. Use your own body weight in place of free weights or machines. Push-ups, squats, lunges and sit-ups will do the trick.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Even though you’re armed with all this knowledge, sometimes it’s best to play it safe. If you’re feeling sick and you’re still unsure about whether or not you should be exercising, check with your doctor before hitting the gym.



The Weightless Upper Body Workout

151597724Sometimes, no matter what we do, life gets in the way of our workouts. We have every intention of making it to the gym, but somehow we run out of time. With no equipment on hand at home, we’ll have to excuse ourselves from exercising.

Woah, hold it right there. Before you skip out on your sweat session, consider working out without weights. There’s no reason you can’t exercise without any equipment at all. Hone in on toning your arms, chest, back and shoulders with this weightless upper body workout.

Sure body weight exercises are an excellent option for salvaging a workout when there’s no equipment in sight. But, ditching free weights in favor of moving your own body weight is a surefire way to improve relative strength and muscle tone. Because these maneuvers mimic the activities we perform on a daily basis, exercises like the push-up and pull-up help to create balanced, functional strength. Improvements in core strength and coordination are added benefits that come from engaging smaller stabilizer muscles.

RELATED READING: How Much Exercise Do You Actually Need To Lose Weight?

Plank

456798109Targeting the core while calling the triceps and low back into action, the plank is a multi-purpose exercise. Start this move by lying flat on the floor with your stomach down. Plank your toes into the ground. Then engage your entire body. By flexing all the muscles from your feet to your upper back you can prop your body up on your forearms. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.

RELATED READING: Improve Your Exercise Results By Just Breathing

Next Weightless Workout: Superman Back Extensions…

Superman Back Extension

109176060The starting position for performing this exercise is similar to the plank, so begin face down on the ground. Next you will extend your feet straight out and your arms overhead. Contract your lower back and shoulder blades together while tightening your muscles before lifting your legs and arms off of the ground. Pause for three seconds at the top of this movement.

Next Weightless Workout: Push-Up…

Push-Up

136503481Use the push-up to strengthen the upper body, arms and tone the mid-section. Start flat on your stomach with hands in line with your shoulders and legs extended. Push your hands and toes against the ground to press your body off of the ground. At the top of the movement bend your elbows, lowering your body down without touching the ground, keeping the body straight and the core flexed, and repeat.

RELATED READING: The No-Squat Glute Workout

Next Weightless Workout: Push-Up Variation…

Push-Up Variations

162726565After mastering the basics of the push-up, there is almost no end to the variations you can perform. For instance, you can bring your hands closer together, wide out the position, or stagger your hand placement. You can perform an incline push-up by elevating your hands. Similarly, if you were to elevate your feet on a bench or chair, you could tap different muscles with this decline push-up. Once you increase your strength, you can try for a more explosive push-up by propelling your body up to clap your hands or touch your chest in between each repetition.

Next Weightless Workout: Dips…

Dips

Dip in the gymThe best way to rid yourself of underarm flab is by performing tricep dips. Whether you do them on a bench or a chair, they are guaranteed to tone your arms. First, place your hands outside of your hips, palms on the bench with your fingers and feet facing forward. Plant your feet on the floor and arch your hips up. Then bend at the elbows and lower your rear end to the ground till your elbows are at about 90 degrees. Finish this move by pressing through the palms to return to the starting position.

RELATED READING: 4 Dance Moves That Will Drop The Pounds

Next Weightless Workout: Pull-Up…

Pull-Up

459927381Few muscles escape the calling of the pull-up. You can count on this exercise to strengthen your back, chest, shoulders, arms and core. To begin, hang from a pull-up bar with your hands about shoulder width apart. Hands should be facing away from your body, otherwise you’re doing a curl up. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a different exercise. Whichever you choose, complete the move by engaging your core and back to pull yourself toward your hands. After your chin is above the bar slowly lower yourself back to the hanging position.

Next Weightless Workout: Burpee…

Burpee

92827096Rounding out this upper body routine is a true test of fitness. The burpee combines the squat thrust and push-up into one calorie burning, strength building behemoth. From the standing position, jump your body down to the push-up position on the ground. Next, perform a push-up before jumping your feet to your hands. Now that you’re in a squatted position, jump off of the ground, clap your hands over your head and repeat this progression, if you dare.

RELATED READING: Leg Workout: Slim Stems In 3 Moves



New Year, New You: Total Body Transformation

184671538Beside anytime, the new year is the best time to get to work on transforming your resolutions into realities. For most, those realities revolve around how we look, how much we weigh, or how we feel about our bodies. Changing any one of those things is not to be taken lightly.

It’s a big commitment of time and energy. It often involves a lot of exercise and some emotion as well, overwhelming as they may be. But, overhauling our health is a transformation worth every ounce of sweat shed along the way. Get going toward that end with these exercises aimed at created a new you in the new year.

RELATED READING: 7 Tips To Break Your Weight Loss Plateau

Start Slow. If you’re totally new to this exercise thing, it’s best to start small and build. When it comes to fitness that means mastering the basics before trying to do anything too crazy. First, spend some time toying with bodyweight exercises. Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges will lay the groundwork for more advanced moves to come.

Step It Up. As you build a foundation of strength via bodyweight exercises, make an effort to condition your heart and lunges too. Yes, that means cardio in the form of walking, jogging, or running. It doesn’t matter where you are in that progression, as long as you make it a point to keep evolving over time. When walking becomes too easy, it’s time to jog; alternate between the two. Then once you’re able to run, try interval training – spring, walk, recover, repeat.

Strength Train. Skip the machines and crazy looking fitness contraptions. Stick to free weights and compound movements instead. Like bodyweight exercises, when starting out, your best bet is to begin with the basics. In this case that means light weight and controlled repetitions of the bench press, back squat, deadlift, and overhead press. Incorporating these type of multijoint movements into your training program will strengthen your entire body and boost the calorie burn.

Stay With It. The most difficult part about transforming your body is adherence. How long do you stay with your training plan before you quit? There’s lots of different reasons why we give up on our resolutions. There’s not enough time. We’re not getting results. We pushed too hard too soon. We didn’t try hard enough. The most important thing we can do is set out to find our exercise sweet spot. It’s the place where we are challenged, but confident. We’re working hard, but not so hard that we want to give up.

RELATED READING: 6 Tips For A Tight And Toned Body

To find your exercise sweet spot consider how much time you’re able to commit to exercise. What does your schedule allow? Next, be honest with yourself about what you’re trying to achieve. Then, take your current level of fitness into consideration. Only after you do those things can you set out to create a truly transformative training plan that you can stay with.



Lean On Life Trainer Weighs In On 2014 Fitness Trends

Instructor Taking Exercise Class At GymFitness is a funny thing. Trends come and go. Promising workouts pitter out. From time to time the next best thing will appear. It will be met with applause and anticipation. Now we can get fit once and for all. Then poof, it’s gone.

In reality, we know the truth; there is no one answer to solving the fitness equation. Fad diets and flashy workout programs are the flavor of the month, not the answer to our wellness wishes. If we want to make a lasting change and create a healthy, sustainable lifestyle we have to educate ourselves. By examining what’s hot and what’s not, what works and what doesn’t, we’re able to create a strategy for getting fit and staying fit.

With that in mind, let’s turn our attention to the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2014. As part of this annual survey, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) consults with thousands of fitness professionals around the world to compile a list of what’s right with fitness. Although this list is commonly used within the fitness industry to make business and programming decisions, its value is not limited to that domain. It can also be a tool for fitness seekers like you. If fitness pros think a particular technique is effective, maybe you should consider using it?

Working from that place, here’s a look at the Top 10 Fitness Trends you should be embracing in 2014. This list is less about the fitness industry, and more about implementation. As in, what trends can most people implement quickly to illicit the greatest results. By focusing on what works, in a short amount of time, without the need for expensive equipment, you can use this list to build an exercise program that becomes part of your life.

RELATED READING: 5 Diet Trends That Sabotage Your Weight Loss

1. Bodyweight Training

177728678Given all of the hype surrounds exercise equipment and well-equipped gyms, it’s easy to see why we might overlook the basics. But, body weight exercises like the push-up, pull-up, squat, lunge and sit-up have always been effective and so they will continue to be in 2014. This is true for beginners and advanced exercisers alike. Master the basic body weight movements and all other forms of exercise will come more naturally.

Next Fitness Trend: HIIT Training…

2. HIIT Training

104732250Time, there’s never enough of it. That’s the beauty of High Intensity Interval Training; it has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of time we spend working out. By mixing periods of very high output with brief recovery periods, we’re able to push our bodies to new heights. Because this type of training requires a very high intensity it may not be for everybody. At least not at first. New exercisers would be better served building a base of fitness before attempting to push their limits with interval training.

RELATED READING: The Workout Challenge: Try These Fat Blasting HIIT Cardio Workouts

Next Fitness Trend: Strength Training…

3. Strength Training

87781181A strong physique will never not be sexy. Likewise, strong muscles, bones and ligaments will always contribute to our health. That’s why we all should be strength training. Using compound movements like the squat, overhead press, dead lift and bench press, it’s possible to transform our entire body. Begin with light weights, learn the form, and then increase the load over time.

Next Fitness trend: Functional Fitness…

4. Functional Fitness

87738418The fitness industry has an on-again, off-again relationship with functional training. Bosu Balls and balance boards were thought to be the epitome of functional training. Until they weren’t. The takeaway is this: Functional training is all about using exercise to improve your day-to-day existence. To put things overhead, train overhead exercises. To get better at getting off of the ground or out of a chair, do squats. Everyone can benefit from strengthening their body in a way that improves their life in a very practical sense.

Next Fitness Trend: Yoga…

5. Yoga

163664593It gets a bad rap. You might think it’s expensive or too spiritual, but it doesn’t have to be either of those things. It should be focused on improving flexibility and your body’s range of motion by working out the kinks. There should also be emphasis on improving breathing and core strength. Combine that with some peace and quiet, and you’ll have yourself a mindful yoga practice.

RELATED READING: Power Yoga For Weight Loss

Next Fitness Trend: Core Training…

6. Core Training

159088716Almost every move we make starts or passes through our core. Lots of people know this. Those same people think they’re training their core. They’re not. Sit-ups and leg raises won’t build the kind of functional core strength you need. Squats, dead lifts and kettle bell swings on the other hand will deliver the kind of strength and stability you’re after.

RELATED READING: How To Get Abs Like Jennifer Anniston

Next Fitness Trend: Outdoor Activities…

7. Outdoor Activities

140215126Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes moving more, more often does the trick. Especially when you’re doing something outdoors. Something that’s fun and enjoyable. It can be a great way to start becoming more physically fit. Or, a way to de-stress when the gym becomes too monotonous. When in doubt, go outside and get moving. Walk or jog, swim or bike. Take up hiking or Ultimate Frisbee. Join a sports league. Make exercise fun and it will never feel like a chore.

Next Fitness Trend: Circuit Training…

8. Circuit Training

186926739The idea of doing more with less, or in less time, is game changing. When it comes to exercise, this is especially true. That’s why circuit training is so popular and effective. By performing a series of exercises, back-to-back, with little to no rest, we can build muscle and burn fat in one workout. Plus, there’s practically no limit to the variations of routines you can perform. You can mix strength with cardio, body weight with free weights it you please. Whichever you choose, your body will thank you.

Next Fitness trend: Lifelong Health…

9. & 10 Lifelong Health

57443608This spot is a combination of two items from the ACSM list: 9. Children and Exercise for the Treatment/Prevention of Obesity and 10. Fitness Programs for Older Adults. Combined, these two trends say the same thing: Health is synonymous with living a good, long life. From adolescence to our senior years, movement, exercise and physical activity are a vital part of our well-being. It doesn’t have to be overly-structured or tortuous, but you do have to fit fitness into your life. If you’re not sure where to start, re-read this list. Body weight exercises, yoga and outdoor activities or any other single item are the perfect jumping off point for becoming more fit in 2014.

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Improve Your Exercise Results Just By Breathing

185520727Just breathe. Seems simple right? Whether you’re relaxing or running breathing is kind of essential for performance and well, staying alive.

When you’re lounging there’s not a whole lot of thought put toward inhaling and exhaling. But, if you’re looking to get fit, exercising can interfere with your breathing pattern. While breathing isn’t likely to be your first consideration when undertaking a workout routine, the importance of oxygen and how it’s being delivered to your body can’t be overlooked. These fitness tips for learning how to breathe like this for every form of exercise will help you get the most out of your exercise efforts.

RELATED READING: The Best Time Of The Day To Exercise For Best Results

Cardiovascular Exercise

86504776Running is difficult enough on its own. Pacing and strides, heart rate and hill sprints can be exhausting. Given that fact, it’s understandable that you might not be minding your breathing as you gasp for air. But, it’s also true that breathing better, or correctly, can help increase your speed and performance. With respect to cardiovascular exercise, correctly refers to breathing deeply from the stomach. This approach is known as diaphragmatic breathing, where you’re filling your belly or diaphragm with air before exhaling. When compared with shorter, shallow breaths, “belly breathing” allows for more thorough and complete uptake of oxygen helping you withstand the demands of more intense exercise.

If you’re trying to transition from “panic breathing,” the short and incomplete breaths that are more like gasping than breathing, to belly breaths, follow these steps. First, relax your body. It can be tough during exercise, but roll your shoulders back and down, shake out your arms and loosen your abs. Contracting them will make breathing difficult. Next, breathe to fill your stomach, not your chest. Then, while you’re running, breathe on a 3:2 inhale-to-exhale ratio so that you inhale on the left, right, left steps and exhale on the right, left strides.

This method may take some getting used to, but like anything practice makes perfect. It may be helpful to slow down your speed while learning to control your breathing. As you master your breathing pattern you can ramp up your speed and reap the benefits of more oxygen powering your body.

Next Workout: Strength Training…

Strength Training

120492588You would never hold your breath while sitting at your desk during the workday, would you? Probably not. That’s why it’s so surprising that many people tend to hold their breath while strength training. Any time you exert yourself, your body needs more oxygen to perform the desired task. Weight training is no exception. Thankfully, it’s a little easier to nail down the breathing pattern for lifting when compared with running. There’s no ration to remember here, just timing. During the exertion, breathe out; breathe in during the easier or return phase. More specifically, if you’re pressing a weight away from your body, exhale. As the weight returns to the starting point, during the easy or return phase, you should be inhaling.

RELATED READING: How To Use Plyometrics For Ultimate Fat Loss (With Workout Routine) 

Next Workout:Yoga And Stretching…

Yoga And Stretching

83253403When it comes to less intense forms of exercise like yoga or stretching, proper breathing can help in the recovery process and increase flexibility. Like running, start by relaxing your body. Next, be sure to breathe deeply engaging the diaphragm and filling the belly completely on the inhale. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth is a great way to relax the body, slowing the heart rate in the process. With each breath, lean into your stretch a bit more, relaxing your muscles as you go.

Take some time to implement these breathing techniques to improve your performance and exercise ability. If you find yourself still out of breath after training to instill these fitness tips it might be time to see a doctor. If you’re a smoker, cigarettes could be the issue, so try kicking that habit. If you’re still short of breath, asthma, allergies, or poor posture could also be the culprit. Once you address these issues you’ll be on your way toward effortless breathing.



7 Fat Burning Pilates Moves

155269747What if you could improve balance, core strength and flexibility, helping you move more efficiently every day? It sounds too good to be true. But a Pilates exercise regimen makes achieving each of these goals a reality.

Based on the six principles of Pilates –Centering, Control, Flow, Breath, Precision and Concentration – individuals who commit to this form of exercise become stronger and leaner, allowing them to move gracefully and with ease. Benefits like these have made Pilates a favorite fitness workout for athletes and dancers, new moms and seniors alike.

All this calorie burning, core strengthening talk might have you convinced that Pilates is worth a try, and why not? The only downside could be the need for an expensive reformer and Pilates trainer to ensure proper use of the equipment. But before you jump into a class or membership contract, try these seven fat burning Pilates moves that can be done at home, without any equipment.

Hollow Rock

178897830Learning to engage the core by hollowing out the midsection will be essential to mastering the majority of Pilates moves. The hollow rock is the first step.

Begin by lying face up on the ground before stretching your arms overhead and legs straight out. Lift your arms and legs off of the ground and arch them so that your body is curved like the bottom of a boat. Squeezing the belly button toward the spine, begin to teeter back and forth from the tailbone to upper back. Perform this move for 30 to 60 seconds.

Next Move: Hundreds…

Hundreds

166551755Lie flat on your back, face up on your mat. The starting position is similar to the hollow rock, except now your arms will be extended at your sides in the direction of your feet. Next, lift your head, upper back, and legs off of the mat, point your toes and flex the core. With the legs at 45 degrees, begin to pump your hands up and down quickly while breathing in for five counts and our for five counts. Repeat this process 10 time for a total of 100 beats.

Next Move: Roll Up…

Roll Up

177244373First, lie face up on the mat. Engage the core and back as you would in the hollow rock. Then, with your feet extended flat on the mat, extend your arms toward the ceiling. Initiate the roll up by exhaling and tucking your chin toward your chest while reaching your hands to your feet. Once you reach the seated position, exhale before lowering yourself slowly back to the starting position. Perform this move for 30 to 60 seconds.

Next Move: Single Leg Stretch…

Single-Leg Stretch

158424801Lie face up on the mat with both knees pulled toward your chest. Point your toes and be sure that your shins are parallel to the ground. Exhale before lifting your head and neck off of the mat while extending your left leg out to 45 degrees. At the same time, draw your right leg towards your chest, grasp it with both hands. Hold this position for one beat and then switch legs. Perform this move for 60 seconds.

Next Move: Double-Leg Stretch…

Double-Leg Stretch

I178882269n the face up position, flatten out on your mat and then bring your knees toward your chest. Lift your head and neck while holding your legs at your shins. Extend your feet to 45 degrees while extending your arms overhead, alongside your ears. Your body should resemble a v-shape. Exhale before circling your arms out, while bringing your knees toward your chest and back into the starting position. Perform this move for 60 seconds.

Next Move: Single Straight Leg Stretch…

Single Straight Leg Stretch

166555690Like the single-leg stretch we introduced above, this move will have you face up on your back.

The main difference is that this time, you will be using a straight leg, not a bent knee to complete the exercise. With your head and shoulders lifted from the mat and legs extended straight out, exhale and lift one leg toward your face. Grasp your lower leg, pause one beat and then switch feet. Perform this move for 60 seconds.

Next Move: Plank Walk-Up…

Plank Walk-Up

177812095This move takes the traditional plank one step further for added arm and core engagement. Unlike all of the moves to this point, start lying flat on your stomach, supporting yourself with your forearms, elbows and toes. Focus on flexing your core keeping your body rigid. Next, press off of your left forearm and plant your right hand. Then, press off of your right hand to plant your left hand. Now you are in the top of the push-up position. Hold this position for five seconds before walking back onto your forearms and repeating the process for 30 seconds.
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