The Best Way To Flatten Your Abs

 

I wanted to share a common misconception about fitness:

How we flatten our abs.

My desire to write a post about how to flatten your abs was spurred by a couple of questions I got last week at our personal training studio in San Jose. One was from a new client, and one was from someone who’s been training with us for years.

So, it goes to show you that you don’t have to be a “newbie” exerciser to get confused about “best practices”  🙂 .

The question from the new client was, “What foods should I be eating if I want a flatter stomach?

The question from the longtime client was, “What exercises can you add to my program to help me lose more belly fat?”

If you’ve been reading prior posts about our exercise and nutrition philosophies at lifeSport Fitness, you can probably guess how I answered both questions….

“Squats.” 😀

You see, a lean midsection comes from a combination of the right selection of full body exercises and small tweaks in your nutrition.

Doing endless amounts of sit ups and crunches is not going to burn belly fat.

It’s just going to make your belly sore. Worst case, it might make your back or shoulder problems WORSE, which is why we don’t program tons of crunch-type exercises into the programs we write for clients at lifeSport Fitness.

Consistently doing strength training – particularly multi-joint exercises like squats and dead lifts – will burn lots of calories and add lean mass to your frame, increasing your ability to burn stored fat for fuel.

These big, multi-joint exercises force your core to engage. Do them enough, and voila — your belly gets flatter and firmer!!!

 As for the “right” foods to eat to flatten your abs:  Eating a certain type of food is not going to melt your belly fat, either, though there are plenty of people on the internet who will be happy to sell you such nonsense (or they’ll try to sell you a “fat burning” supplement).

Eating whole, minimally processed foods, minimizing added sugar, limiting processed wheat products,  controlling your stress, and being in a slight calorie deficit will cause that stubborn belly fat to disappear.

This is all simple stuff that we often “forget.”

Remember, keep it simple and do the basics consistently.


Committed to your success,

Coach Becky

The Best Way to Get Fit

Talk to 10 people and you’ll get 10 different opinions on the best way to get fit.





One will tell you to attend an aerobics class. Another will swear by jogging. Yet another will tell you that dance and biking worked for them.





The truth is, there are lots of ways to improve your fitness. I’m slightly biased here, but I’m going to tell you that one of the best ways to get fit and improve your fitness (whether your goal is weight loss, improved strength, or less pain from arthritis) is to do strength training exercises regularly. 

 



Before I get into the details, it’s important that we agree on the definition of ‘fit’.

WHAT IS FIT?

 

Far too often, “thin” is mistaken for fit, and that’s not what you should strive for.

 

When someone is thin but has very little muscle tissue, they aren’t truly fit in my opinion! And I’ve trained some “skinny fat” people in my day ;-).

 

Here’s why thin doesn’t equal fit:

  • Their body fat percentage will be higher than ideal—even though you won’t see a lot of fat on them, if their muscle percentage is low, fat percentage will be higher.
  • Their resting metabolism will be low, since little muscle is present to burn calories at rest.
  • Their body won’t be functionally strong, which will lead to injuries, frustrations and likely more pain from arthritis.

See how this 48 year old woman transformed from skinny fat to fit by 50 here

So how does one get truly fit? Here’s my one-stop shopping answer:

RESISTANCE TRAINING

 

Resistance training is when resistance is used to challenge your muscles in order to gain strength and endurance. You could do this with traditional weights, exercise bands, medicine balls, cable machines, sandbags, kettlebells or even just using your own body weight.

 

Consistent resistance training has the following side effects…

 

  • Strength and muscle tone
  • Cardiovascular capacity
  • Speed, Agility and Flexibility
  • Resistance to injury and disease

 

If that’s not enough to convince you that resistance training is one of the top ways to improve overall fitness, read on…

If that’s not enough to convince you that resistance training is one of the top ways to improve overall fitness, read on…

TOP 9 BENEFITS TO RESISTANCE TRAINING:

 

To Build Muscle and Gain Strength: Don’t worry, ladies. This does NOT mean that you’re going to ‘bulk up’ or look too masculine. What will happen is that your arms, belly and legs will become tighter, leaner and more defined.

 

To Lose Fat: When it comes to losing size, all that you want to see go is fat, not muscle. Strength training ensures that you maintain and grow those muscles and only lose fat.

 

To Build Strong Bones: The older we get, the more important our bone density is. A good strength training program is one of your best defenses when it comes to osteoporosis.

 

To Alleviate Anxiety, Stress and Depression: Sure there are plenty of pills out there that claim to give these benefits, but you and I both know that strength training is a more wholesome and effective way. And besides, who really wants all those pharmaceutical side effects?

 

To Sleep Better: Here’s another pill you can stop taking once you start strength training. Study after study has proven that strength training improves sleep.

 

To Improve Chronic Back Pain: If you are one of the millions across the globe who suffer from back pain, you’ll love the benefit of decreased pain.

 

To Improve Insulin Sensitivity: Today diabetes is a huge threat. Minimize your risk by improving insulin sensitivity through regular, challenging strength training.

 

To Improve Your Good to Bad Cholesterol Ratio: Here is yet another pill that you could potentially stop taking while on a strength training routine. Blood pressure and heart health are of utmost concern, so why not give yourself the advantage of a strength training routine?

 

To Raise Your Metabolism: This helps to reduce body fat and to keep that body fat off, even on the days that you aren’t able to exercise. Pretty awesome, right?

TAKEAWAY

A solid resistance training routine will tone your legs, strengthen your core and will result in inches and pounds lost!

So, if you’re looking for the best way to get fit and only have a limited amount of time to work on your health, strength training is your “go to” for the best overall results.

Check out these other blog posts for more exercise tips and advice:

Does Strength Training Have to Hurt in Order to Get Results?

Remember the old saying, “No pain, no gain?” Well, does strength training really have to hurt in order to get results?

Really, whoever came up with the saying used a poor choice of words. 

First things first, we need to make a distinction between discomfort and pain.

In order to get better/stronger/leaner/faster, you DO have to get out of your comfort zone. And, yes, you should push yourself to get there.

But – exercise should never be painful.

Most educated trainers and fitness pros are now educated enough to understand that pushing through the pain only leads to more pain … and worse, injury.

HOW TO PREVENT INJURY AND STOP PAIN FROM WORKING OUT

 

Here are a few exercises that every one of your workouts should have, in order to keep you safe, healthy and pain-free..

1. Dynamic Warmup

We can’t stress this enough — especially for those of us over 40! This is the part of the workout that many people skip, but it’s honestly the last thing that should be neglected.

Preparing your body for movement is the most important part of the workout. An effective dynamic warmup should encompass all the foundational movement patterns, increase the heart rate and tissue temperature and prepare the central nervous system for the activities ahead. NEVER SKIP THE WARMUP! 

 

Interested in some exercises you can do as warmups? Check out this Health.com article here.

2. Prehab

These are corrective exercises that strengthen often neglected muscle groups and promote soft tissue health in order to enhance the freedom of movement and prevent injury. Skip the prehab, and you’ll wind up in rehab instead.

At our studio, if we have a client that needs some prehab work, we build it right into their customized program right after their dynamic warm up.

3. Mobility

Stretching and mobility are not the same thing. Mobility exercises enhance the freedom of movement through the joints, whereas stretching involves muscle lengthening (read below). Both improve flexibility. Is one better than the other? No. Our bodies need both!

4. Cooldown 

Whereas the warmup involves dynamic movement, the cooldown is about calming the central nervous system, lowering the heart rate, and lengthening muscles through static stretching (i.e. holding positions and poses).

Setting aside a few minutes to cool down after a workout signals to the body that it’s time to start the recovery process.

A tough workout tears down muscle tissue. It’s during the rest and recovery between workouts when the rebuilding happens.

THE TAKEAWAY

 

So our message today is: Don’t get caught up in the 80’s mentality of “no pain, no gain.” Does strength training have to hurt in order to get results? Absolutely not!

Incorporate the above steps before, during and after your workouts and you’ll be well on the way to healthy, pain-free gains💪🏼.

How to get motivated to exercise

How to Get Motivated to Exercise!

How do you get motivated to exercise?? We get asked this question a lot by people who are struggling with their fitness who often tell us “I’m just not motivated to work out.”

 

Now hear us out on this … It turns out that motivation is a myth. Yes, that’s right! It doesn’t exist. At least, not by itself. 

 

Motivation is not something that’s going to crash down from the sky like a lightning bolt and magically kickstart your fitness plan. If you’re waiting for motivation to hit you (you know, that day when you feel motivated to get up and work out or improve your nutrition) well, you might be waiting for a long time.

 

 

 You see, motivation only comes from one thing.

 

 Action!!!!

 

Not the other way around. In order to feel a sense of motivation, you have to take action first.

 

It could be ONE workout! ONE pushup. Having ONE healthy meal.

 

 

It could be anything that’s a small step in the right direction. And that one little thing could spark a little motivation to do more of the same the next day.

 

Motivation doesn’t come from magic.

 

It comes from action.

 

If you’re looking to get back into a routine or get a fresh start with your fitness this fall, what’s one small thing you can do today in order to get started?

 

Pick that one thing and do it. Then do it again. And again. And again. And see the motivation build up! That doing, that action, will create the motivation you’ve been looking for.

 

If you’d like some help in taking action, we invite you to request a free one-week trial at one of our off-site community boot camps. With a coach to keep you safe and a fun group to work out with — taking ACTION on your health and fitness has never been easier! 

Fill out the form below to request your

FREE boot camp trial today!

 

If you want to know more about our bootcamp program click here!

Are you ignoring ground workouts?

Nowadays, the average gym junkie never works out on the floor. Foam roaming is the furthest they will go to the ground. With all the fancy and sophisticated machines around, you may be wondering what the point is. However, experts in fitness field have argued that doing groundwork at the gym comes with a lot of benefits. Here are a few reasons why you should start to incorporate bodyweight exercises into your workouts.

Training on the floor reduces fall-related injuries.

This advantage is most overlooked. Every year, a large number of people die from falls. By doing groundwork, you reduce your chances of being seriously injured from a fall because you improve your ability to break the fall.

Gets the heart pumping.

Going down and getting up from the floor gets your heart pumping. You can also increase your pulse by adding a set of bird dogs. A combination of push-ups and kettle bell swings do improve the heart beat rate.

It keeps you youthful.

Research has shown that people with difficulties in lowering their bodies to the floor and rising back up are far more likely to die within the next 6 years than those who are able to do so comfortably. The ability to stand up with ease and without pain from the floor surface is a good indication of how physical fit one is. Physical strength, flexibility and coordination for all ages are good tests for physical fitness according to researchers.

Increase flexibility.

By working out using just the ground and your bodyweight, you naturally use a full range of motion. This ensures that your joints are moving freely, leading to improved postured and again reducing the risk of getting injured.

Keep thing fun and fresh

It’s really easy to get stuck doing the same workout routine of bench presses, squats, sit ups, lat pulls over and over again. That’s why groundwork can be extremely refreshing. Not only are there variations of exercises you can do, it gives your body a new challenge, working out different muscles that may be ignored. Moreover, it can help break the common gym plateau – and stops you from becoming bored.

Increase athleticism

Due to the use of compound movement’s i.e numerous joints and muscles are engaged in each move, bodyweight exercises can give you amazing results. For instance, doing compound exercises such as lunges and push-ups have been proven to increase performance and strength. Furthermore research shows that improved core strength gained through bodyweight exercises also increases your strength throughout the entire body

So next time you go to the gym, think twice about skipping groundwork. Give it a try and you see the fantastic results that come with doing groundwork!

For more articles go to http://lifesportfitness.lifestyleezine.com

Re-start your Resolutions Today!

It is common for people to make New Year’s resolutions year in, year out. But the hard part is seeing those resolutions through. Hitting the gym or eating right is usually number two or three on the list right after quitting a bad habit or looking for a better career.

As the clock counts down to the New Year, each individual’s heart is filled with enthusiasm of starting a fresh and fulfilling the list that’s meant to impact their lives one way or another. But shortly after into the year, the days begin to turn into weeks, weeks into months and before you know it, another new year is fast approaching; the list is long forgotten.

You soon realize that nothing ever changes in your life. The great thing is that it is never too late to re-start those resolutions, no matter what time of year it is. So don’t thing about cancelling that gym membership or abandoning your diet plan just yet. They say that our worst enemy is ourselves. We agree to defeat even before the war has begun and become the first to beat on ourselves when something goes wrong.

Exercising and maintaining a diet plan has never been easy and the results don’t just occur overnight. Therefore, before you go so hard on yourself, first add ‘never give up no-matter what!’ to your list. Exercising and maintaining a healthy diet requires a lot of commitment, time and persistence from self.
Before you think of backing out, here are some pointers that will help you keep on track to achieving your resolutions.

1.Staying positive
Maintaining a positive attitude is crucial to obtaining the results you want. Telling yourself that ‘I am going to make it’ and believing exactly that is a great motivator to remaining focused on your regime. But don’t go rewarding yourself with a big slice of cake the moment you notice you’ve lost 2 pounds. Instead, keep at it to reap more fruit.

2.Timetable
Designate a specified time for your gym sessions and also make a food timetable so that you ensure your diet is balanced or so that no food group is omitted in your diet.

3.Great company
Surround yourself with people who have the same aspirations as you. You’ll be able to motivate each other and also make sure you don’t miss any gym workout.

It is vital to remain fit and healthy for an extended healthy life. And once you start following through on your exercises and diet, the rest will fall in line. Picture this, when you’re healthy, you feel more confident and great about yourself, meaning that you are able to work more efficiently in your workplace hence more productivity, more income. It is like killing two birds with one stone.

No-one expects you to be an expert with the first try. Therefore, you need to start slow and start small. If it’s sit-ups and squats, start with 10-15 counts, then progress to 20-30 with time. The reason why most people give up the moment they’ve just begun is because they commence at a higher level than they should.

The more you exercise and diet, the easier it becomes with time and before you know it, it becomes a part of you. So if losing weight or becoming healthy is part of your resolution and has been for a while now, it is never too late to jump start on it. Start today!

For more articles go to http://lifesportfitness.lifestyleezine.com

Strong Foundation

The ankle is a physically active part of the body. The ankle consists of several ligaments that connect the bones and are required for proper function. There are also many muscles that also help support the ankle during activity. Building strength and proprioception, or special awareness, in these muscles helps to prevent injury and improve performance. Often, the most neglected body part in exercise is the ankle. There is no single sport that doesn’t involve the ankle in some way. It is important that we don’t forget about this joint and make sure we do what we can to make it strong and sturdy. A major benefit with strong ankles is that you can help reduce the risk of injury.

It is important to keep the ankle strong. When an athlete performs any type of movement, running, jumping, etc., the ankle and surrounding muscles are put under a great deal of stress. If the ankle musculature is strong, the athlete can withstand greater force – limiting the chance of injury. It will also help strengthen the lower leg muscles and aid in preventing chronic conditions such as shin splints and Achilles tendonitis. Proprioception is the body’s ability to realize its place in space. For example, if an athlete is moving into a position that could sprain his or her ankle, increased proprioception can decrease the risk by alerting the athlete to the danger. Proprioception can also increase an athlete’s performance by giving the athlete better balance and awareness and giving them the ability to control their body more effectively. Proprioception training is done with balance exercises.

Try some of these exercises to increase the balance and strength in your ankles:

  1. Standing on one leg. Hold for 30 seconds, working up to one minute per leg.
  2. Balance and catch. Standing on one leg, catch and throw a ball with a partner. Make sure you throw the ball to all directions, left, right, high and low. Do 3 sets of 30.
  3. One leg mini squats. On one leg do a half squat with the opposite leg out front for 10 reps, out to the side for 10 reps and behind for 10 reps. Repeat 3 times.
  4. Standing on unstable surface and balancing. You can use a pile of towels or clothing, sand, air mattresses to give you the uneven/unstable surface. Stand and balance on one leg and hold for as long as you can.

The ankle can be strengthened in several ways. The best way is to use a thera-band (ask your trainer or visit a medical supply store). The thera- band will give the resistance needed to strengthen your ankle. By placing the thera-band around the bottom of your foot, near the balls of your foot, you can pull on the band for resistance with your foot in the flexed position. From here, stretch your toes to a point and then slowly return it to the starting flex position. It is important to work the ankle in all four directions. To work the ligaments and muscles in the other directions, affix the band to a stationary object and then loop the other end over your toes. You can move your body in different directions to allow you to flex your foot, turn your ankle in, or turn your ankle out. Use the thera-band to feel the pull. Make sure you do about 20 reps of each of these exercises on each foot.

These exercises may look and be simple to do, but they are so important to maintain or even build strong, sturdy ankle while also preventing injury from occurring. Ankles are often not at the forefront of our mind when exercising, but they are extremely important in everything we do from walking, running, jumping to sports. Take care of them and strengthen them, you’ll see and feel the benefit.

For more articles go to http://lifesportfitness.lifestyleezine.com

Fit Tools

Sometimes we get into a slump and just need someone, or even something to get us going to get our exercise in. Getting into shape, losing weight, and moving more each day are all really tough to do. An activity tracker can help. Technology these days can be just that thing. Many people are now sporting a new fit tool, usually a Fitbit or pedometer tool that is strapped onto the wrist. There are also many fitness applications that you can download onto your smartphone. It can be a great way to keep you accountable to what you are doing during the day. It may just be that push you need. At the very least, it will make you more mindful of your present activity level, which is a good step to getting fit.

Fitness tracking gadgets are a newer kind of activity tracking device. They can be synced to your computer or smartphone or be part of your smartphone or computer. There are many gadgets out there; the most popular one is the Fitbit. But there is a list of many that can do just as much or more. They can be worn like a watch, or clipped on like a keychain. They will track your steps, the number of calories you’ve burned and the distance you have travelled. The more costly ones will also calculate the number of stairs you travelled, how you slept and how many hours you were asleep for. Additionally, through the link to your computer or smartphone, you can also track your food consumed and your weight.

Fitness tracking devices will show you what you are actually doing, not what you would like to be doing, or what you wish you were doing. That information can be powerful at encouraging you to get off the couch and hit the gym, go for a run or even head out for a walk. It is known that keeping a food log actually makes us more conscious about what we eat because we are paying attention. It allows us to stop, think, and make better choices.

Steps to Make the Most of Your Fitness Tracking Gadget or App:

  • Get your friends involved. Get a friend or family member on the same device and they can help motivate you.
  • Make your tracking gadget or App part of a bigger package. Choose tools that work together to give you the best and most information for you. Some packages will even give you expert advice based on your data.
  • Use your gadget or App in conjunction with your current exercise program. Don’t purchase the tracking gadget or App as your exercise program – use it to help keep you motivated and doing your current sessions.

Some of the top gadgets to try:

  • Basis Peak
  • Garmin Forerunner 15
  • Mio Fuse
  • Fitbit
  • Garmin Vivosmart
  • Jawbone UP24
  • Runtastic Orbit
  • Microsoft Band
  • Misfit Flash

Whether your health goals are modest or you’re hoping for a full fitness transformation, using a personal fitness tracking device can go a long way in helping you understand if the exercise and health habits you keep are contributing to the new you.

For more articles go to http://lifesportfitness.lifestyleezine.com

Workout, Rest, Repeat

Athletes know that getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high level performance. Although you may feel guilty when you take a day off from exercising, it is important to help the body with repairs. A rest day will also help strengthen your body in the time between workouts. Continuous training can actually weaken even the strongest athletes.

Rest days are critical to sports performance for many reasons. Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen. For recreational athletes, building in rest days will help maintain a better balance between home, work and fitness goals.

Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effects takes place. Recovery allows the body to replenish energy store and repair damaged tissues. Exercise and physical work causes changes in the body. Muscle tissue will breakdown and the depletion of energy stores as well as fluid loss will occur. Recovery time, or a rest day will allow the stores to be replenished and allows tissue repair to occur. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise. The result, is overtraining and symptoms such as, feeling a general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased sports performance and an increased risk of injury.

Short-Term Recovery
Also called active recovery, short-term recovery occurs in the hours immediately after intense exercise. Active recovery refers to engaging in low-intensity exercise after workouts during the cool-down phase immediately after a hard effort or workout as well as during the days following the workout. These types of recovery are helpful with performance. Getting quality sleep is also an important part of short-term recovery, especially if you are doing a hard training regime.

Long-Term Recovery
Long-term recovery refers to those that are built into a seasonal training program such as professional athletes will have for during the season vs. off season workouts. Recovery time will be days and even weeks, depending on the demand that their body faces.

It is important to adapt your recovery time to your workout. The higher level of training intensity, the greater the need for planned recovery time. With monitoring your workouts in a training log and paying attention to your body and how it feels, you’ll be able to plan in your rest days. Talk to your trainer- get them to help you plan out the best workout – rest routine that suits you and your body’s needs. Remember how important it is to let your body rest and recover – rest for success.

For more articles go to http://lifesportfitness.lifestyleezine.com

Things to Try in 2015

Kick start the New Year by getting on the right track to keeping your resolutions. Most people choose to get healthier and a great way to start out right is to try something new for 2015. Stay motivated by doing different exercises to reach your goals, or to stay focused on your fitness. Doing the same thing day after day can lead to boredom and even giving up on your routine all together.

Try some of these fitness trends for 2015.

  1. Body weight training. With tight budgets, body weight training can be the way to go. Because it does not require a lot of equipment, body weight training can be an inexpensive way to whip yourself into shape.
  2. High-intensity interval training. A workout that calls for short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short recovery time. It is very efficient in burning calories and building muscles.
  3. Strength training. Strength training includes body weight, resistance tubing, free weights and weight machines. Everyone can benefit from building stronger muscles and bones while controlling their weight and increasing their energy levels.
  4. Personal training. A personal trainer will help design a custom fit plan tailored to your wants and needs as well as being your personal cheering section when you achieve your steps and goals.
  5. Exercise and weight loss. Joining programs that combine exercise and weight loss might be a good option for you if you are trying to lose inches off your waist as well as tone your body. Look for programs that emphasize the important balance between healthy eating and exercise.
  6. Yoga. Yoga continues to be a favorite in the fitness community. There are so many different options to try with all the different versions available.
  7. Group Personal Training. Training two or three people at the same time in a small group is becoming a more popular solution when looking for more individualized attention then you get in a class, but without the higher cost of one on one session with a personal trainer.
  8. Outdoor activities. Getting outside for some exercise will bring more benefits. Get outside for hiking, skiing, running, skating, the possibilities are endless.
  9. Circuit training. A group of 6 to 10 exercises that are completed in a sequence is circuit training. It is similar to high-intensity training, but is performed at a lower level of intensity.
  10. Core training. This type of training focuses on strengthening the muscles of the abdomen, thorax, and back by exercising the hips, lower back, and abdomen. You can use equipment such as exercise balls, BOSU balls, wobble boards, and foam rollers.
  11. Boot camp. More and more men and women are favoring this military style training that will include cardiovascular, strength, endurance and flexibility drills. This is great if you like intense, highly-structured workouts.

Try all or some of these 2015 fitness trends to get you on your exercise goals for the New Year. You can even refer back to this list as the year goes on to try something new when you feel you need to change things up to keep you motivated. Happy New Year!

For more articles go to http://lifesportfitness.lifestyleezine.com