8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

When people think of cardio, usually a boring treadmill, elliptical machine, or other mundane activity comes to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

When you’re short on time or easily distracted, there are a variety of fat-burning cardio alternatives that will increase your body’s metabolism, boost weight loss, and keep you interested.

Here’s a list of different types of cardio workouts:

  • Steady State (Burns less fat, but isn’t as demanding on the body)
  • Interval Training (Burns more fat)
  • HIIT
  • Spinning
  • Stairs
  • Weight Training (Supersets) short rest periods
  • Weight Training (Compound Sets) short rest periods
  • Machine Circuit Training

And I’m going to talk about each of them in details:

1. Steady State

Steady state cardio involves working at a low to moderate intensity — around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, for a sustained period of time. This type of cardio doesn’t burn a huge number of calories, but it does burn a high percentage of fat tissue for fuel, and it isn’t too draining.

An example of steady state cardio would be a long outdoor walk at a moderate pace. Interval training, on the other hand, is much more intense.

2. Interval Training

Similar to HIIT but with exercises that are slightly longer in duration, interval training alternates levels of intensity. For example, if you enjoy running, you would run or sprint for 30 seconds, then bring down your heart rate and walk for two minutes.

Pick two intensities per interval, usually one at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and the other at 60 percent, and alternate between them. I find that 85% for 30 seconds and 60% for one minute, not only burns more calories but increases my energy level as well.

Another example would be jumping rope. Jump rope for two minutes, rest for one minute. Begin again, this time jumping rope for one minute and resting for one minute. On the third and final round, jump rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat five sets of this routine.

3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Have a busy schedule? Fifteen minutes a few times a week is all you need. HIIT is an extremely popular workout because it can be done quickly, burn calories in a short amount of time, and can even be done in your home or during a lunch break at work. And the best part – You don’t need any equipment.

With the use of your body weight, HIIT is typically 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest which means your heart rate remains elevated for the entire 15-minute workout.

Check out this HIIT routine by Fitness Blender: 15 Minute HIIT Workout

4. Spinning

Spinning is a great way to get your heart up and keep it up in a 45-minute spin class. Our thighs and back are our largest muscles so they work the hardest.

To get the most out of spinning, try to stay out of the saddle throughout an entire spin class. That way, you are forced to hold up your body weight which burns more calories and increases intensity.

It’s also great for stabilizing and building strong core muscles, versus cycling outdoors, where most of the time you are sitting in the saddle and going for distance (steady-state cardio).

5. Stairs

One of my favorite places to get out of the gym for cardio and trim fat from my thighs and butt is the Santa Monica Stairs, near California’s most popular beach. Climbing 170 steps a few times builds the glutes, leans the thighs, strengthens the calves, and builds endurance.

So, if the gym is not your scene and you love the outdoors, climbing stairs is a great alternative. Find a place with multiple steps, do six or seven rounds, and you’ve easily burned around 600 calories.

6. Supersets

A superset is two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, or different body parts such as the lower and upper body with little to no recovery between sets.

The superset may include two to five sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise or more.((Mountain Life Fitness: Super sets, compound sets and giant sets))

So, if you love to workout with weight-training but aren’t really feeling cardio, supersets with no more than 30-second rest periods between exercises will keep your heart rate up. Not only will you build muscle, you will burn fat!

For example, say you are doing a leg workout, five sets of exercises with high reps and low weight is all it takes to turn your weight-training into a cardio workout.

Here’s one of my leg training workouts:

i. Dumbbell Step-Ups on a secure bench or box (4×15, each leg)

ii. Front Squat (4×15)

iii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet (4×15)

iv. Leg Extension (4×15)

v. Leg Curl (4×15)

Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

vi. Front Squat

Photo Credit: Stack

vii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet Squat

viii. Leg Extension

ix. Leg Curl

Photo Credit: T Nation

7. Compound Sets

Compound exercises are exercises that recruit muscles in the entire body, such as pull-ups, squats, bench press, etc. However, a compound set simply means to “compound” the number of different exercises into a series of sets with little or no recovery between, similar to supersets.

This may be accomplished by performing four to five exercises for the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or total body exercises performed in succession such as full body extensions, followed by squat/cleans and complete the compound set of compound exercises with lunges with biceps curls.

Compound sets put stress on the body and are great for expending additional calories while strength-training.

8. Machine Weight Training Circuit

Like compound exercises, a machine circuit workout targets the entire body, upper body, lower body, or core. The difference is, with the use of machines instead of free weights, muscle strength is increased by by making your muscles work against weight.((Better Health Channel: Resistance training – health benefits)) By limiting rest periods between exercises to 30 seconds, your metabolism will go into over-drive!

Machines also give you better control over the exercises, which decreases risk of injury.

Here’s a machine circuit training example: Muscle and Strength Machine Workout

The Bottom Line

The above-mentioned workouts should be completed within 30 minutes, unless you’re taking a class which is typically 45 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get on with the rest of your day.

By keeping your rest periods to a minimum between exercises, your heart rate will stay elevated and you will burn more calories, get lean, and have more energy.

Don’t be a gym rat, spending unnecessary time doing lengthy workouts that give you minimum results. For efficient weight loss, perform these workouts three times a week and watch the fat melt away while achieving your fitness goals.

More Resources About Weight Loss

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17 Weight Loss Recipes That Are Incredibly Nutritious and Super Delicious

Fitness is not limited to workouts. In fact, your workout is just the beginning. Proper nutrition and supplementation are key components for a well-rounded fitness plan.

This article not only provides healthy nutritional alternatives, but tips on which foods are best before and after a workout.

Before your workout, your body needs calories. Not just any old calories, not empty calories, but calories that will fuel your workout with energy. After your workout, your muscles need replenishment, so it’s just as important to eat not long after exercise.

The following recipes contain essential nutrients: Protein, fat, and carbohydrates. They are not only delicious and nutritious, these recipes will help you burn fat and gain lean mass. Not to mention, they are filling, easy, and don’t require a lot or prep time.

1. 15-Minute Tex-Mex Chicken Salad

Got 15 minutes? This is a great post-workout meal. It contains Omega-3 oil, protein, potassium, carbohydrates and a host of other nutrients to help replenish those lost during exercise. This Tex-Mex Chicken Salad is courtesy of Registered Dietician Matthew Kadey.

Check out the recipe here: 15-Minute Tex-Mex Chicken Salad, Muscle & Fitness

2. Chocolate Chia Recovery Drink

Think about it. Our bodies lose a lot of water during exercise, leaving us dehydrated. And what’s one of the natural supplements to replace lost electrolytes? Coconut water.

After a spin class, Crossfit, or HIIT, a Chocolate Chia Recovery Drink is perfect. Chia seeds are full of “good” carbs, mostly fiber, which means your body digests them slowly, keeping your hunger at bay. Bananas contain potassium which helps to curtail muscle cramps. Just blend and go!

Here’s the recipe from the “Minimalist Baker:” Chocolate Chia Recovery Drink

3. Blueberry-Almond Overnight Oats

Let’s face it, getting to the gym is hard enough. Who has time to muster up all kinds of ingredients, cook, and consume? Prepare Blueberry-Almond Overnight Oats. Full of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates, this filling meal awaits you in the morning.

The antioxidants in the blueberries will help kick up and spit out free radicals that exists in the body, making way for smooth cellular activity. Prep time: Five minutes!

Here you go: Blueberry-Almond Overnight Oats

4. Asian Jalapeno Chicken

Boost your metabolism! Spicy foods are great for speeding up your metabolism. They contain the almighty chemical, capsaicin, which will shift your body – and weight loss – into high gear!

If you can take the heat, get this perfect combination of protein and spiciness here: Damn Delicious Asian Jalapeno Chicken

5. Fat-Burning Chef Salad

Getting lean can require a lot of discipline for some people, but when you eat tasty foods, like eggs, smoked turkey, and an abundance of greens, your goal is more attainable.

Certain foods have fat-burning properties, such as turkey breast, tomatoes, celery, broccoli, blueberries, grapefruit, apples, onion, raw vegetables, and many others. Whether you’re getting in shape for a wedding or the beach, this salad will get you ready!

Check out the recipe here: Fat-Burning Chef Salad

6. High-Protein Chicken Meatballs

Protein shakes aren’t the only way to put on mass. It’s always preferable to consume real food as the body digests these more efficiently.

High-protein meals are best for gaining muscle mass, so if you want to get buffed or toned, a combination of protein, complex carbs, and heavy weight-training will get you there. Get the recipe, then get to the gym!

Here’s the recipe: High Protein Chicken Meatballs Recipe

7. Peanut Butter Banana Bulking Protein Shake

If you do, however, enjoy the convenience of a protein shake, make your own.

While it’s tempting to grab a protein bar or ready-to-drink protein shake, these usually contain ingredients which classify them as inflammatory foods. Unless you want to be bloated, steer clear.

This Peanut Butter Banana Bulking Protein Shake has a whopping 58 grams of protein, it’s a powerful source of fuel for athletes, and it tastes incredible!

Here’s the recipe: Peanut Butter Banana Bulking Protein Shake Recipe

8. The Best Protein Brownies

Not a quick recipe but worth the wait, these melt-in-your-mouth brownies provide just the right amount of protein and “good carbs,” not to mention decadent dark chocolate.

So, if you’re the type who skips dessert due to guilt, you can enjoy these brownies with a clear conscience. Don’t forget to complement them with a nice cold glass of unsweetened almond milk.

For The Best Protein Brownies, go here: The Best Protein Brownies

9. Trainer Terri’s Light ‘N Healthy Chinese Vegetable Fried Rice

Yours truly loves Chinese Fried Rice so I came up with a way to remove all of the oily fats and sodium that are typical of this dish while maintaining the flavor. It’s packed with vegetables and healthy carbs, so if you need a little energy before your workout.

Try my recipe here: Light ‘n Healthy Chinese Fried Rice

10. Stuffed Bell Peppers with Turkey and Vegetables

Vitamins A and C are your friends when it comes to maintaining healthy immune system, and bell peppers contain them both.

This recipe for stuffed bell peppers is the complete package, with protein, vitamins, metabolism-boosters, Omega-3 oil, antioxidants, and potassium.

Check it out here: Stuffed Peppers with Turkey and Vegetables

11. Skillet Chicken with Cranberries & Apples

Not getting enough fiber in your diet? If you’re irregular or you often feel hungry, it could be that your body isn’t getting enough of this much-needed nutrient.

Soluble fiber, like oats, beans, barley, and even Brussel sprouts digest slowly which keep you from feeling hungry. You are sure to cut back on grazing throughout your day when you incorporate more fiber into your diet. Happy eating!

Here’s the recipe: Skillet Chicken with Cranberries & Apples

12. Herby Pea and Lemon Pasta Salad

Big on carbs? Try this wonderful medley of green peas, pasta shells, and rotisserie chicken and you’ll be in carbohydrate heaven.

Loaded with B vitamins, the green peas will serve as good source of energy. This recipe yields four servings so you’ll have plenty left over for your lunchtime meal at work.

Here’s the recipe: Herby Pea and Lemon Pasta Salad

13. No-Cook Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Not in the mood for carbs? Try these low-carb chicken lettuce wraps that have fewer than 8 grams of carbohydrates.

With minimal prep, this meal is great when you don’t feel like cooking. Kids will be so focused on the chicken they’ll forget that it is wrapped in a vegetable.

Get the recipe here: No-Cook Chicken Lettuce Wraps

14. Turmeric Tomato Detox Soup

In the winter months, instead of seeking out a good soup at a restaurant, you can have soup du jour in your own home!

Rather than use drugs, like Ibuprofen, turmeric is a natural source of relief to alleviate inflammation in joints and muscles. This anti-inflammatory-detox soup is perfect when snuggling under a blanket while watching a movie.

Get the recipe here: Turmeric Tomato Detox Soup

15. Almond Snowballs

The holidays just aren’t the same without cookies. These Almond Snowballs are yummy as an after-dinner dessert or to share at office holiday parties, or even as a reward after your workout.

This recipe calls for all-purpose flour, a refined carbohydrate, and sugar, both of which have a high glycemic index, causing your blood sugar to spike. These ingredients can be substituted with almond flour which is high in healthy fats and fiber, and Stevia, a sweetener that has zero calories and is plant-based.

Get Rachael Ray’s recipe: Almond Snowballs

16. Avo-Tahini Toast

Avocado toast has become a healthy trend that is now popularly-featured on restaurant menus.

It only takes four minutes to prepare, unless you add the boiled eggs, which could take another ten minutes but will add protein to this toasty treat.

The Omega-3 fat from the avocado and the fiber from the whole grain bread will leave you satisfied and full. A great pre-workout meal!

Get the recipe here: Avo-Tahini Toast

17. Salmon Salad Sandwich

You’ll look at a fish sandwich differently with this 15-minute meal. Perfect for lunch, this high-protein, high-fiber, Omega-3-rich Salmon Salad sandwich serves four, which is great for a small luncheon with friends.

You can even serve them as hors d’oeuvres for a dinner party by cutting the sandwiches into fourths and pin them together with toothpicks.

Get the recipe here: Salmon Salad Sandwich

Final Words

It is important to consume the aforementioned nutrient-based meals 45 minutes to an hour, both before and after your workout. If not, your body will use muscle for fuel instead of nutrients and, ultimately, you will lose lean muscle mass and become flabby.

There is also the risk of getting light-headed and fainting due to low blood sugar as well as poor brain function, nausea, and, of course, you won’t achieve optimal exercise performance.((Livestrong: What Happens if I Workout Without Eating?))

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Try These Flexibility Stretches to Enhance Your Daily Workout

Having a flexible body is essential for everyday life, and particularly for exercise. Think of all the things you do throughout your day that cause your muscles to tighten or create discomfort: Being stuck behind a desk, standing for long periods of time, repetitive motions, driving long distances, and exercising without properly maintaining a limber body are all ways that keep you from having a well-balanced and efficient lifestyle.

To fully optimize your workout, it is necessary to be flexible in order to perform your exercises properly — by getting full range of motion in which your joints can potentially move. Here’s why:((Muscle Mechanics, International Sports Sciences Association, “Fitness: The Complete Guide,” page 166))

When we don’t stretch before and after a workout, our muscles hold onto toxins, we risk injury, recovery time takes longer, and our performance is decreased.

In order to prevent restrictive mobility, we must do flexibility stretches.((Flexibility Training, International Sports Sciences Association, “Fitness: The Complete Guide,” page 343)) Common areas that need stretching and/or flexibility are the hips, back, knees, and ankles. In this article, you will see why it is not only important to stretch, but to balance the planes of motion in which our body parts move.

How To Stretch

Done consistently, the following flexibility stretches will enhance your workout, you will gain greater range of motion, improve balance, and recover more quickly for your next workout.

Typically, a static stretch should be held for 20-60 seconds (International Sports Sciences Association), remembering not to overstretch which can cause injury as overstretching can cause pulled muscles and tears.

In a comfortable stretch, you should feel just a slight pull without going beyond normal range of motion. Always be aware of your breathing during a stretch.

For example, if you are doing a flexibility movement for the knee, just before you go into the stretch, take a deep breath and then exhale once you are into the stretch. Breathing is important as it relaxes the muscles and helps to loosen them.

Your body should be warm before stretching to increase blood flow. This can be a 3-minute ride on a stationary bike or slowly-controlled, 45-60 second body weight squats.

Hips Stretches

The hips tend to give us trouble when we get into our 40’s and 50’s, and the cause of pain is not always injury or over-use, but rather, lack of stretching in the hip flexor muscles.

Even if you’re not a sedentary person, you walk throughout your work day, climb stairs, or stand for long periods of time, you must keep your hips flexible to keep them from tightening which can cause other problems, like lower back pain. (Everything is connected.)

Oftentimes, people who are active tend to think that because they cycle, run, or perform other exercises that recruit the hip flexors, they don’t need to stretch because their hips are constantly moving; Not so. What people don’t recognize is that over time these and other movements create muscle imbalances, spasms, and affect posture.

When your hips are flexible, the exercises that recruit gluteal muscles, like the squat and lunge, have better control. Take a look at these 4 hip flexor stretches by Guerilla Zen Fitness:

Back/Spine Stretches

The back and abdominal muscles support the core and are necessary to have a strong gait. In order to have a strong back, you must open up your chest and sides of your back with various stretches.

Sometimes, without noticing it, we rely on our back for a variety of movements, such as looking over our shoulder to pass safely in our vehicle, rising up from a chair, reaching up high for an object, etc.

These passive movements seem easy, but without a stable core, you’re left with a weak spine and the movements can become challenging over time.

Having a flexible spine and strong core is great for exercises like crunches, torso circles, side bends, lying leg raises, and sit-ups.

Here are 3 spinal flexibility stretches by Strength Side:

You can also incorporate regular yoga practice into your daily routine as a holistic approach to gaining flexibility in your back.

One of my favorite things about yoga is that it moves energy throughout the entire body, with special attention to the spine. In addition, yoga helps to lengthen muscles and opens up the space between the ribs and vertebrae, which minimizes tension and reduces headaches and backaches.((Top Fuel Crossfit: Yoga Poses to Relieve Headaches: Lengthening the Spine))

Try these yoga poses that are not only good for flexibility but for overall relaxation. Hold each pose for 10 to 15 breaths:((Rukmani Iyengar: 5 Yoga Asanas to Reduce Back Pain))

 

Knees Stretches

The use of our legs to walk, run, swim or do any the movement that involves the legs also involves the knees. Flexibility in and around the knee joints is essential for mobility, and because everything is connected, flexibility in the knees will also create flexibility in other areas, such as the ankles, which will I will address next.

So, if the exercises you perform on machines, such as the leg extension or leg curl, which move in the sagittal plane – that is, forward and backward or up and down – are among your go-to’s when training your lower body, you must have flexible knees.

Here are 3 knee strengthening examples by Strength Side:

Ankles Exercises

Ankles run into all kinds of problems, like walking, wearing high heels or uncomfortable shoes, flat feet, trauma, improper footing when performing exercises, arthritis, and even swimming. All of these can cause tendonitis – The inflammation surrounding tendons in the lower leg muscles.

Despite what it may look like, the foot does not remain in the same position during up-and-down movements which is why it is important to maintain flexibility in the muscles surrounding the ankle joint.

Flexibility allows for various positions (International Sports Sciences Association). In addition to the following exercises, R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is also effective for relieving ankle pain. Here are some examples of how to increase ankle and foot mobility:

Planes of Motion

Balancing your body’s planes of motion is necessary, not only for weight training and other exercise, but for gaining flexibility as well.

Our body is a powerhouse because it is not limited to a single plan of motion movement, and instead has the ability to move in multiple directions – Sagittal, frontal, and transverse.

For example, when doing flexibility exercises for your back, you should also work our abdominal muscles. Similarly, when weight-training your quadriceps, you should balance them by also training your hamstrings. This creates balance, coordination, and functionality:((Kai Simon: How To Improve Your Workout: Planes Of Motion))

Bonus Tip

Keep in mind that stretching can go hand-in-hand with the use of sports medicine equipment, such as a foam roller to pre-condition tight muscles and break up lactic acid, compression apparel to maintain warmth, and even a lacrosse ball to target trigger points.((Flexibility Training, International Sports Sciences Association, “Fitness: The Complete Guide,” page 343.))

Now that you are familiar with stretches where common injuries occur, you should experience relief in multiple areas of your body and in your daily life. Tension, stress, and tight muscles can now be curtailed by effective stretching before and after your activities, and your muscles will be more relaxed and efficient, thereby increasing your performance.

More Resources About Stretching Exercises

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The Best Fitness Plan for You Based on Your Body Type

Have you exhausted your body with multiple workouts and trendy diets in order to get the results you want? Perhaps you’re tired, can’t manage to find time to workout, or maybe your job has you bogged down and stressed out?

The problem may be that you are expending unnecessary energy doing exercises that contradict what your body needs in order to get the results you want. Once you understand your body type, you will begin to understand why less is more, and maximize your workout time.

Everything you need to know about the best fitness plan for your body type is right here.

The 3 Different Body Types

First of all, there are three body types:((International Sports Sciences Association, Fitness: The Complete Guide, Nutritional Coaching, Edition 9, pg. 608))

  1. The thin ectomorph,
  2. The thick endomorph
  3. The muscular mesomorph


Photo credit: steemit.com

If you aren’t aware of these categories, you have probably been training your body in a way that doesn’t support your body type and, therefore, you’re lethargic, you can’t gain muscle mass, and you can’t lose weight to save your life. It is likely that you are over-working your body instead of allowing it to do the work it was intended to do.

Part of my preparation for this article was a long hike in Los Angeles’ highly populated hiking trail, Runyon Canyon. As I hiked, I assessed each person’s body that I came into contact with. Not surprisingly, the majority of hikers had a mixture of body types. For example, I saw a woman whose body was more muscular in her arms, shoulders, and back – a mesomorph – but her lower body stored more fat in her thighs, hips, and buttocks — That of of an endomorph. I also saw a man who was both lean and muscular which placed him in the ectomorph-mesomorph category.

So while the three body types are a good guide to pinpointing the type of workout you need, keep in mind that there are variables. In some cases, it may be necessary to train your body differently for your upper body than your lower body. That is, perform a combination body-type workout.

The Fitness Plan for Endomorph Body Type

If you have the body of an endomorph, watch out! Your body likely stores more fat than the other two body types.

The trick is to head the fat off at the pass. In other words, regularly do cardio, almost daily, and perform weight-training exercises that burn fat.

Exercises, such as high reps and low weight speed up your metabolism, especially if you’re female. For weight-training, concentrate on the larger muscle groups, such as thighs, glutes, and back. The bigger the muscle group, the more calories you will burn.

In addition, multi-joint exercises for the lower body work best. For example, a squat involves the knees and hip flexors, while a leg extension only involves the knees:

If you’re not a gym rat, cycling and hiking are also multi-joint movements that burn calories.

If you stay consistent, you will see the pounds melt away.

The Fitness Plan for Ectomorph Body Type

So what if you’re tall, skinny, and have little muscle mass? Well, that would make you an ectomorph. You likely have a fast metabolism, a lot of energy, and eat whatever you want, which in many ways is a blessing, but in other ways a curse.

If gaining mass is your goal, you’ll have to work just as hard to maintain it as a person whose metabolism is slow and wants to lose weight.

So what’s the solution for an ectomorph? Less cardio, more weight-lifting, and more food!

Nutrition is extremely important for the skinny ectomorph. You must eat within one hour of your workout with a meal consisting of complex carbohydrates, like brown rice, protein – such as chicken or fish – and green leafy vegetables, preferably kale or spinach which are full of potassium. Your body needs potassium, especially after a workout, to replenish electrolytes.

Because the ectomorph has a speedy metabolism, you will need to lift heavy weight, do low reps, and take long rest breaks, about three to five minutes, between sets of no more than five, with four different exercises, which are also referred to as “Giant Sets”.((FitnessHealth101.com: “Giant Sets Routine”)) 

If you are performing the exercises correctly, using slow, controlled form, your body begins to heat up due to the energy used throughout the exercises. And when your body needs energy, it begins to look for stored resources like, muscle. We don’t want that. Therefore, three to five sets is key.

Begin with light weight to warm up your muscles, with 15 reps. Rest for one minute. In your first “Giant Set,” perform 12 reps with a weight load in which you can (only) perform 12 reps. Rest for five minutes.

In your next set, perform 10 reps with a weight load in which you can (only) perform 10 reps. Rest for five minutes. Get the picture? Perform another two sets with the previous instructions, dropping down to eight, then six reps.

With the combination of proper nutrition and weight-training, you should see results within a month.

The Fitness Plan for Mesomorph Body Type

Onto the mesomorph – The physique that everyone wants. A well-balanced, symmetrical body, the mesomorph doesn’t need to work hard to retain muscle.

The mesomorph is not without its challenges, however. Because this body type gains weight quickly, it is prone to becoming bloated when too many carbohydrates are consumed. The mesomorph must consume protein and vegetables to maintain their muscular physique.

As long as the mesomorph hits the weight room a few times per week, watches his/her diet, and stretches in order to lengthen bulky muscles, they need not kill themselves with a lot of cardiovascular activity. Explosive, anaerobic cardio, such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for up to 20 minutes is ideal.

Supersetting is the mesomorph’s friend. Because the mesomorph is able to retain muscle mass, it need only chisel its physique to expose muscle. For example, rapid workouts comprised of 15 reps per body part, with no rest in between, will sharpen the mesomorph frame.((International Sports Sciences Association, Fitness: The Complete Guide, Edition 9, Body Composition, Page 361))

Stay away from heavy weight-training, cut down your cardio sessions, and you will see a chiseled physique in no time.

Essential Advice for Your Diet

Body-type exercises alone will not work. Nutrition is a key component in getting your body to run like a well-oiled machine. In the following, you will see that the three body types have their own formula, comprised of exercise and proper food to maximize results. Your diet must be low in sugar. Sugar turns to fat and slows down the fat-burning process.

So, stay away from simple carbs, like candy, and “bad” complex carbs like white rice, white pasta, white flour, and white bread.((International Sports Sciences Association, Nutrition: The Complete Guide, “The Macronutrients,” pg.156)) These are refined carbohydrates that cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, causing our body to crave more of the same.

Even some fruits are better for you than others. For example, pears and apples are lower in sugar than papaya and pineapple. Instead, eat “good” carbs like fibrous whole grains, vegetables, and beans that slowly digest into your bloodstream. The slower the digestion of these “good” carbs, the less hungry you’ll be throughout your day.

Final Words

Now that you know what it takes to achieve results, you can begin to take your body’s appearance to the next level. No more time constraints due to a busy schedule and lack of energy because now you have the proper tools to transform your body and save time.

It is not necessary to spend up to two hours on a workout. Simply pinpoint your body type and implement a nutrition and exercise plan that reflects an endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph, or any combination of the three.

In addition, consider getting a BMI test (Body Mass Index) so that you know the amount of fat your body has.((Heart.org: “Healthy Living,” Body Mass Index (BMI) In Adults))

There you have it! Knowing which fitness plan is best for your body type will save you from frustration and get your body to where you’ve always wanted it to be.

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7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

Building and maintaining a strong upper back depends not only on strength-training, but stretching and nutrition as well. Stretching the upper back muscles, along with a healthy diet can help alleviate pain while improving endurance.

Did you know that stretching your upper back builds endurance for sports, your job – which may require heavy lifting – and simple, everyday activities? Many people who exercise don’t recognize the importance of having a strong upper back, and often neglect this part of the body, focusing more on the lower back where injuries are more prone to occur.

Upper back endurance is necessary for runners, hikers, golfers, tennis players, bowlers, cyclists; the list goes on and on. If saving time is important to you, you want to reduce chronic back pain, boost your energy levels, or you simply need ways to get through a day at the office while confined to a computer, you’ll begin to understand why the following upper back stretches and exercises are necessary.

Here are seven stretches, combined with exercises, to help you maintain a strong upper back:

1. Lat Pull-Downs

By contracting and lengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids, teres major, along with the other muscles groups in and around your upper back, you are building muscle endurance and increasing mobility.

Seated at a lat pull-down machine, select a weight stack that is comfortable. Remember, you’re not preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you just want to exercise the back, so heavy weight is unnecessary.

Grab the wide bar above your head, palms down, and using a wide grip, pull the bar down to your chest and contract your upper back muscles.

Keep your head up, looking at the bar. This also helps keep your spine straight and provides a clearance so that the bar doesn’t hit your face. Slowly return the bar to the top and repeat for 15 reps. Do three to four sets.

Here’s the correct technique by Denice Moberg:

2. Indoor Rowing

If upright exercises like walking on the treadmill or running outdoors bore you, you can strengthen your core using a rowing machine. Not only will you chisel your back, but the elongation of the upper back during the stroke motion creates a good stretch.

First, select a tension that is challenging but not a struggle. Make sure that your feet are securely placed in the machine’s foot straps, nice and tight to prevent the feet from moving while rowing.

Next, slide yourself in the rowing saddle forward toward the row bar and pull the bar toward the mid-section of your trunk area, which is the finish. Pulling the bar, bring your elbows beyond your back while contracting your upper muscles and rear shoulders.

Your back should be straight with a slight angle of around 100 degrees. Do not hunch.

During the catch, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle while locking out your arms completely. As a stretching exercise, repeat this motion for five minutes.

Here’s how you can do it:

3. Side Plank Rotation

If you’re short on time, floor exercises such as planks strengthen your core and can be done at home or during your lunch break at work. They can be done in 30 to 60 second increments.

There are a few plank variations:

The low-position forearm plank in which your body weight is supported by your elbows; the straight-arm plank, which is a high-position plank; side plank in which your body is turned to one side and supported by one straightened arm; the stability-ball plank which is more challenging for your trunk; and the plank that gives you a good stretch is the side plank rotation.

To begin the side plank rotation, begin in the high plank position. Slowly turn your body to one side while stacking one foot on top of the other. Extend the opposite arm toward the ceiling and as you lower your arm, reaching underneath your body and rotating your trunk.

Done properly, you will feel the stretch along your rhomboids and shoulders. Repeat the rotation – reaching and tucking – 10 times. Switch sides.

Here’s a Side Plank Rotation demonstrated by Train Aggressive:

4. Yoga Stretches

A good way to incorporate breathing with stretching and gain flexibility in your core is Kundalini yoga – an intense yoga practice – gets your blood flowing and works wonders for the spine and posture.

The “Cat-Cow” pose is a great upper back warm-up, and when combined with the “Breath Of Fire”((Yogapedia: Breath of Fire)) or “fast breathing,” energy is sent through the entire body which stimulates the flow of cell activity and increases lung capacity.

On all fours, arms straight and directly below your shoulders, and knees directly below your hips, hunch your back, inhaling as you tuck your head into your chest, then exhale while arching your back and raise your head toward to sky.

The rapid inhaling and exhaling in this exercise is known as the “Breath Of Fire,” as mentioned above. Increase the pace of both the “Cat-Cow” and “Breath Of Fire” and repeat this movement for up to five minutes.

This is how to do a Cat-Cow pose for energy:

5. Side Bends

This is a simple stretch to elongate the space between your ribs and increase range of motion, which helps achieve flexibility in the abdominals, spine, and lateral core.

Seated or standing with your back straight, raise your arms above your head and firmly hold your wrist. Gently pull your trunk to one side and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. When finished, repeat on opposite side.

Note: If standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, if seated keep your feet flat on the floor.

Let’s take a look at how to do a standing side bend:

6. Pole Stretch

By creating opposing force and pulling on a stationary object, you are stretching your lats. The upper sides of your back. Here, you are performing a static stretch which is a stretch held beyond its normal range.

Find a pole, mounted gym apparatus, or other floor-affixed object and, while standing, pull on the object with slightly bent knees and back flat at a 45-degree angle.

Continue to pull while extending your arms, feeling the stretch in your lats and rhomboid muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if needed.

7. Shoulder Blade Stretch

The shoulder blades are connected to the rhomboid muscles in the upper back. Sudden, quick movements like pulling a heavy object or even tossing a near-weightless object overhead, like a tennis ball during a serve, can strain the unstretched muscles between your shoulder blades, causing spasms.

Here’s how to avoid muscle strain:

Standing tall with feet shoulder width apart, gently pull your elbow across your chest, just beneath your chin, and hold for 15 seconds. If you do not feel immediate relief, try lowering or raising the elbow and perform the stretch again. Different angles can make a big difference.

There you have it – Seven upper back stretches and exercises to reduce pain and improve endurance. But while upper back stretches are important, a diet rich in antioxidants is equally key.

Bonus Tip: Getting a Diet Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants, also known as “Super Foods,” prevent the build up of free radicals in your body and control oxidative stress. These free radicals are toxins that get in the way of endurance, flexibility, and cause inflammation, among other fitness obstacles.

How do you incorporate antioxidants into your diet? Here are some common foods and beverages rich in antioxidants:

A good combination of quick and easy targeted cardiovascular exercises, static stretches, range-of-motion stretches, and yoga poses can increase upper back endurance and boost your energy levels, making your activities – both sedentary and active – manageable and fun.

Once you begin to incorporate these methods of relief into your routine, you will begin to walk taller, run farther, and hike longer!

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