Fitness


~ by Desiree Walker

Ever wonder why most gymnasts have 6-packs? … because they hang around bars! Well, I’m talking 6-pack abs of course, and as corny as it may sound, you can always find some truth in humor.

I was a gymnast for 12 years. My teammates and myself included – grew up with nice, lean defined, abdominal muscles, and in the world of high level gymnastics this is more the norm than the exception. It was not because we were all genetic freaks, or did thousands of crunches. In fact, we did NO standard crunches at all! But what we did do, strengthened our core and worked our bodies in such a way I believe contributed greatly to that to sculpted, quilted abdominal look.

Well, the great news is that you do not have to start gymnastics classes to get visible abs. But I do think every fitness athlete or enthusiast can learn something from their training and put to use a variety of these principles. So how does gymnastics core training differ from the standard crunch? The 3 major components that differ are:

1) full extension of abdominal muscle
2) isometric contractions
3) working the muscle in various planes of movement

Full Extension
– Muscles stretched with resistance through their entire intended range of motion (ROM), receive the most overload. I can remember way back to my gymnastics training days, where my coach would start and end every practice with 3 to 4 sets of hanging leg raises or leg lifts as we gymnasts called them. For these leg raises, we would hang from the high bar, with our body fully extended and lift our legs to meet our hands. Our coach was a stickler for form and – none of the reps would be counted if we used momentum and did not begin from a “dead” hang – with full extension. As young gymnasts, we knew it was harder to start from the “dead hang” fully extended position, but we certainly didn’t know “why” – but we did it anyway. You can incorporate the same movement into your own workouts – either grabbing onto a chin up bar or abdominal chair (Captain’s Chair), lifting legs (straight or bent). These devices can be found in just about every gym. The key is starting from that “dead” hang position – getting a full stretch in the abdominal muscles.

Isometric Contractionsof the abdominal muscle.  Isometric contractions are where tension is created in the muscle with no visible change (movement) in the joint angle. The muscle(s) is contracting without moving through a ROM. For this principle, the goal of course is not to achieve a full extension of the abdominal muscle but to hold and contract it in one position. So much of gymnastics is isometric in and of itself (balancing in a handstands, upside down or right side up positions with leg up/ leg down – you name it – we were probably required to do it)- so many of the drills we did to learn new skills isometric of isometric nature.

Planes of Motion is the third component vital to core training. In gymnastics, we flipped and twisted in all different directions. Even on the uneven bars, we had requirements in our routine for elements that contained a direction change. I remember really disliking this, because once you got going in one direction – you had to switch and go the other way – and have enough momentum, technique, and CORE strength to do so. Hanging windmills was one way we trained for this. It was an advanced version of the hanging leg raise, but instead of just going in one plane of motion- lifting your legs up to the bar and back down again, you lifted your legs in a circle in one direction, then switched directions the other way. It targets the oblique muscles, part of the abdominal core, responsible for rotation.

These powerfully effective “core training principles” will definitely produce results, however remember that nothing can magically transform your belly to a sculpted 6-pack – unless you are also lean enough for the abs to show, but that is another topic unto itself.  But hopefully it will give you some insight and ideas on building a better you. It was the American architect, Lois Sullivan who coined the phrase, “form follows function.” I am a wholehearted believer that quote is applicable to physique and athletic endeavors as well.  Just take a look at competitive gymnasts. We can learn a lot from them!

Desiree Walker is an IFBB pro fitness competitor and general dentist
practicing in Lumberton, NC. She shares her love for health and
wellness with her husband Ash and 2 crazy cats.
References: Abel, Scott. The Abel Approach. 2007

This is important. We know this, but do we do it? Stretches improves flexibility of muscle and joints. Without stretching we are all more vulnerable to injury. Think of a young pliable sapling versus an old, inflexible branch. Stretching helps to keep vital fluids flowing through the body and joints that help flush toxins from these areas and maintain elasticity and flexibility so that our body can flex and sway rather than snap and break.

Before, During or After Workouts?
Not all fitness experts agree on whether it’s best to stretch before, during and/or after a workout, but they all agree on this: stretching is important. They also all agree that it’s imperative to warm up before engaging in any significant physical activity. We favor pre-workout warm-ups, stretching during exercise as needed–you’ll know if you feel the need–and extended post workout stretching when the muscles are really warm and the increased blood flow ramps up the cellular traffic and nutritive delivery.

Benefits of stretching:

• Increased energy levels

• Increased flexibility

• Improved balance

• Increased circulation of the blood to body parts

• Greater sense of well-being

• Reduced muscle tension

• Injury prevention (with combined warm up)

• Enhanced muscular coordination

My Trainer Fitness workouts can be tough so be nice to your body after working it hard, and before heading for the gym door, stop for a few stretches. We didn’t have room to include stretches on the cards, but you’ll know what to do: just basic stretching all over with an emphasis on where you need it most. Just 5-15 minutes of stretching after each workout can save you days and even months in injury recovering.

How long should I hold a stretch?
You shouldn’t. That is to say that experts recommend against holding a stretch, called static stretching, BEFORE warming up and working out. The term for holding a stretch is “Static Stretch” which slowly elongates the muscles when held for 15-30 seconds at full extension. Try stretching once per muscle group for 30 seconds.

[Excerpted from My Gym Trainer 1]

TYPES of STRETCHES: There are three kinds of stretches:

Dynamic, Static and Isometric.
Dynamic Stretching involves gentle stretches while in motion; nobouncing or forcing. This is the only type of stretch that should beperformed before your workout.

Isometric Stretches involve the pressing or pulling against a solidand immovable object and is considered one of the most effective forms of stretching. For example, pulling or pushing against a wall, doorway or bar; using the ground to push against while in a lunge position to stretch the calves. The idea is to use leverage to “pull” or “push” yourself into a more intense stretch than could naturally be achieved with bodyweight alone.

Static Stretches are characterized by stretching slightly past the point of comfort without injury and then holding it. These should not be particularly painful but will definitely elicit a stretch. Hold 10-30 seconds for each stretch.

Yoga is a great way to stretch and relax and incorporates all three of these stretching techniques. A good yoga class at least once a week can be a great addition to any exercise regimen and should leave your body feeling very relaxed and well-balanced, while aiding the recovery of muscles your have worked during the week.

Flexibility training elicits a feeling of rejuvenation and more importantly–aids in the nourishment of muscles and soft tissues by increasing blood-flow and nutrients to these areas of optimum strength function and body composition.

So……… remember to s…t…r…e…t…c…h…! You’ll be glad you did.

1. Be consistent:
We live at the speed of instant gratification where we want what we want, and we want it NOW. For many of us it’s an all-or-nothing mentality, when it comes to working out. But remember, we didn’t get out of shape overnight and so we can’t get back into shape overnight, but it will happen if we’re consistent. Keep your commitment to yourself. Ink in your workout time on your calendar and schedule exercise consistently throughout the week.

2. Be intense!
HIIT it hard! Studies show that intensity beats duration for short and long-term results every time, so engage in HIIT or High Intensity Interval Trainer. We love HIIT because it definitely gets results while saving time. Some of you have shared that you really enjoy getting into the zone with your favorite cardio for a while as your mind clears and brain relaxes. If this is you, super! Being a “cardio queen” is vastly better than being a couch potato J. In which case if you dedicate just 50% of your workouts to high intensity and heavier sessions, you will see definite improvement. Just remember, safety first and if you’re not sure about something, ask a the staff at your gym; they’re there to help. How do you know if you’re intense enough? You should be finishing your sets almost to failure and feel that burn.

3. Eat Healthy:
Yes, sigh, diet does matter and there’s no magic pill or supplement. Even the most dedicated fitness buffs won’t look the way they want to look if they don’t also moderate the quality and quantity of food intake. Approximately 80% of fat loss results will come from your diet. You can train until you are blue (or red!) in the face but if you are consuming more than you are burning or choosing empty calories then the proof’s in the er… pudding.

4. Be Patient:
Patience is key. You will get the results you want if you stay consistent, eat healthy and give it all you’ve got when working out. Give yourself a chance: at least 4 weeks of consistent effort for measurable results. Ultimately fitness is a way of life. Make it yours. You will not regret it.

My Trainer Fitness books and 6-packs are organized for a different workout every day, making it easy to be focused and effective in your workouts. Get in, get out, get results with your personal trainer to go. But whatever exercise you choose, get moving. It’s your life. Own it.

Business travelers often feel challenged to keep to their fitness routine and cleaner eating while on the road. But a few simple tips from www.MyTrainerFitness.com can help you create travel routines that keep you feeling and looking good and less travel-weary.

1. Commit to Yourself
Do not leave your health and fitness to chance or whim. Decide it’s a part of your life and not optional, and fulfill your promise to workout. You would not think of missing a meeting with an important principle, so treat yourself with that same respect.

2. Plan Your Workouts
You schedule your important appointments and you don’t miss them. So, schedule your workout time into each day, then keep the appointment. Part of planning means surveying WHERE you can workout in addition to when. So check out the gym at your hotel or the area outside if you’re going running, then plan the what, when and where.

3. Pack Accordingly
Be sure to pack workout clothes, sneakers and of course your workout plan, such as http://www.mytrainerfitness.com books or 6-Pack cards. This keeps you focused, efficient and effective. Frequent travelers keep a bag packed by laundering and re-packing their travel bag so it’s ready to go.

4. Eat Clean
Clean eats to support your fitness lifestyle will help you to make the right choices while you are away. For snacks, pack some raw nuts or nutmix, or travel-friendly fruit, such as apples, and a few low sugar/carb protein bars to keep from indulging in junk-food. You can also find all of these at most airports and gas stops these days. For meals, decline the bread basket, (ask them to not leave it at the table so you won’t be temped to fill up on these carbs). Seek out salad bars, but avoiding the pre-mixed varieties with lots of fatty mayonnaise and dressings, and order the heart-healthy or “Lighter Fare” and lean items entrees generally found everywhere these days, including most fast-food places. Chances are it will be delicious, and you’ll feel better afterward.

5. Make Up Your Mind
If you follow the first tip and commit and have made up your mind to stay fit and healthy during travel, it gets progressively easier. There’s no energy wasted equivocating on what you think you might want to have or how you may feel too tired to work out. Similarly, when you make up your mind to eat clean you realize that to indulge because it’s there, is not a good enough reason to break the contract with yourself.

If you try this on your next trip, whether business or vacation, we’re betting that at the end of it, you’ll be very glad you did. Let us know, and please share your travel tips.

So, you thought you would wear that little black dress from last year to your anniversary dinner tonight. However, after looking in the mirror it doesn’t seem to fit quite as nicely as it used to. 😦   Off to the mall…. again.

Of course a woman needs a new and fresh outfit now and then, but I’m speaking to those times when we try on an outfit we already own for a special occasion, only to end up disappointed that it doesn’t look or feel good. So we feel bad, panic, then rush out to spend hours looking for something new that often ends up in the back of the closet. Consider how much time and money we spent in this pursuit!

Try this: instead of going shopping, go to the gym or plug in your favorite workout DVD or My Trainer Fitness workout card and give yourself a solid and intense workout, drinking lots of water. Eat light and healthy today, high protein, low carbs, and ample vegetables–lightly cooked; salads, with little to no dressing, and low-sugar, high-fiber fruits for snack. Do NOT starve and skip meals, just eat light, lean, clean and healthy.

If you try this simple approach, I’m betting you’ll be a pound lighter tomorrow and already feel better in your skin and in that outfit. You will feel better about yourself; more confident and back in control of your life.

Prescription: Repeat the next day, and the next…

The power is in your hands. You are in charge, you can affect the change you’re seeking, and, it’s only a workout away!!!

To Your Victory!

Note: My Trainer Fitness workout cards place the power of the professional in your palm. Or, if you prefer a DVD at home, we recommend, Metabolic Effect’s DVD for the best results in the least amount of time.

We have gotten a few queries from MGT users whose gym does not have a Smith Machine, or they are unable to perform some of the movements because their machine does not reach the low height needed for certain exercises.

In our video, LeAura demonstrates 2 of our favorite Smith Machine exercises, the Donkey Kick and the Hamstring Pull-back, both featured in the MGT 3 (Advanced) book. She also demos an alternative to these movements if you need them, by doing a Hip Thrust with a plate. Other alternatives include using the Hamstring Curl Machine or the Hamstring Ball Pull-in using a large Swiss ball. Check it out and let us know if you have come across a movement that your gym does not support and we will offer alternatives. Besides, My Gym Trainer was designed to be a DIY Fitness Program, so we want to make it as easy as possible for you! Contact us! info@MyTrainerFitness.com

When the “My Gym Trainer” book series came out last winter, we received a lot of feedback from men and women who wanted a version to do at home, since not everyone has a gym membership. We loved the idea and recently launched our “My Trainer Fitness for at Home” 6-pack! It’s a great DIY fitness booklet containing 6 at-home workouts, each containing both cardio and weight training. Days 1 & 4 provide lower body exercise, while Days 2 & 5 work the upper body and finally, Days 3 & 6 hit those core muscles (abs and low back) for a complete full-body workout in 1 week. Of course, just like the MGT books, you can space out the workouts and only exercise 3x/week and then you would not do the same workout twice over a 2- week period. One of the best things about the 6-pack is that EACH WORKOUT IS ONLY 30 MINUTES. And anyone can commit to 30 minutes a day, especially at their house, even in their PJs! J The workouts are easy to follow too! You only need 2 sets of dumbbells (1 heavy, 1 light; how to choose is outlined in the pack), a chair and a mat. Each workout consists of 2 circuits, each of which last 15 minutes. Simply follow the circuit of exercises through as they are laid out, moving quickly from one exercise to the next to get a great cardio, as well as strength workout and boost the metabolism all day long. Start your day off right with a MTFAH workout in the morning before work to stay revved all day! Here is an example of what you can expect:

Purchase your MTFAH 6-pack for only $10 at http://www.MyTrainerFitness.com

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