Hate Push Ups?

Hate Push Ups?

Hate Push Ups?

What you can do instead.

Hate push-ups? Or, maybe push-ups bother your shoulders or your wrists.

If so then you are gonna want to watch this 1-minute fit tip with my solution to training the push-up muscles without doing one damn push-up.

 

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How To Fire Up the Glutes

How To Fire Up the Glutes

How to Fire Up the Glutes

 

 

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Best Back Exercise

Best Back Exercise

Best Back Exercise

 

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The Most Useless Exercise Ever

The Most Useless Exercise Ever

The Most Useless Exercise Ever

Einstein is quoted as having said that the definition of insanity “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

This quote leads me to beg the question then, why do people still continue to do abdominal crunches and expect a 6-pak and a functional midsection in return?

If crunches were the answer to a toned tummy all of us would have them.

But alas we don’t, do we? Canada is currently sitting at a 54% overweight and obesity rate (Stats Can 2014) – with a lot of that fat around our bellies.

Something is clearly not working with all these crunches that we have been doing.

woman-with-belly-fat

Crunches – why they don’t work

First off, let’s review why abdominal crunches don’t work and are the most useless exercise ever.

Number one: you can’t spot train.

This simply means that you cannot take a certain section of your body, like your abs, and perform repetitions isolating that muscle group in hopes of decreasing the size of that body part.

You can try all you want.

Heck you can even stare at your belly while you are doing your crunches and yell at it – but it still won’t work.

Why?

Well, basic physiology tells us that fat is utilized as a fuel source, and when we need that fuel we start burning it from various locations throughout the body. Not from one certain location.

You cannot burn fat from one particular area.

Instead, you gotta keep working at training your whole body and slowly the fat in the area you want reduced will start to go away (that is, of course, if you are eating properly too).

Number two: flexing forward is kind of a dumb move.

One of the functions of the abdominals is to flex the spine forward. That flexing activity (which is essentially what we do when we perform a crunch or a curl-up) is not functional at all though.

Think about it. How often do you actually roll the spine while on your back, on a day-to-day basis?

I can think of one time and one time only – to get out of bed in the morning.

And, while the thought of perfecting that movement is great, it’s not really what I think a lot of us have in mind when we go to the gym.

The abdominals are actually used (during our waking hours) as stabilizers to the spine.

Now, please I understand that I am being very general here.

What the heck do our abs do?

The abs are also used throughout the day for twisting, bending, assistance on breathing as well as flexing.

But, if you were to break it down percentage wise what the abdominal muscles did during most of their waking hours the clear winner would be stabilizing and assisting our spine and our posture.

Taking that into consideration you can now see why an abdominal crunch will not help us out in daily living and provide even less help in sport.

More preferable exercises are ones that lengthen the body and then use the abdominals to hold that position, such as:

Planks

Push-ups

Boat pose

Mountain climbers

We also need exercises that ask the abdominals to assist in stabilizing the spine such as:

Squats

Deadlifts

Lunges

Pull-ups

Power cleans

And finally, we need exercises in our routine that also engage the rotational and twisting ability of our midsection. These include:

Reverse woodchops

Anti-rotational movements with tubing or the Rip Trainer

Russian twists with the medicine ball – careful with form though!

Med ball throw downs

Side plank tempo drills

wall-climber-2

If want to perform a crunch

If you want to perform the odd crunches in your routine then I recommend the following.

The following ab exercises were tested and rated by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

They sponsored a study to see which ab exercise fired up the rectus abdominus (the long, flat muscle muscle extending the front of the body), and the obliques (our waist muscles) the best.

For strengthening the rectus abdominus, the 13 exercises were ranked most to least effective:

1. Bicycle maneuver
2. Captain’s chair
3. Crunches on exercise ball
4. Vertical leg crunch
5. Torso Track
6. Long arm crunch
7. Reverse crunch
8. Crunch with heel push
9. Ab Roller
10. Hover
11. Traditional crunch
12. Exercise tubing pull
13. Ab Rocker

For strengthening the obliques, the 13 exercises were ranked most to least effective:

1. Captain’s chair
2. Bicycle maneuver
3. Reverse crunch
4. Hover
5. Vertical leg crunch
6. Crunch on exercise ball
7. Torso Track
8. Crunch with heel push
9. Long arm crunch
10. Ab Roller
11. Traditional crunch
12. Exercise tubing pull
13. Ab Rocker

Why You Shouldn’t Do Abdominal Crunches:

  • Because you curl your upper body forward they reinforce the slumped sitting posture
  • They compress the (lower) lumbar segments
  • Crunches can actually weaken the pelvic floor
  • Because of the forward flexion movement they restrict the excursion of the diaphragm and hamper breathing
  • Can cause shearing strains across the high lumbar segments
  • Crunches, especially legs supported full sit-ups, over use the hip flexor muscles
  • Ab crunches tend to also over use the rectus abdominis muscle at the expense of the obliques and TA (your deep abdominal muscle)

Final thoughts

And last, but not least, if getting rid of that fat is what you really want, then you need to take a long hard look at what you are eating.

Great abs are actually cooked in the kitchen first and then trained hard in the gym second.

 

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9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

“Of all things I ever lost I miss my mind the most.”

I used to get a good chuckle over that quote, until I got a little older and started the “where did I put that” game.

You know that game.

Where, you wonder inwardly, did I put my keys? Where did I put my phone? Where did I put my glasses? Where did I put my husband?

It starts in your mid-thirties and seems to get worse as you age.

You chalk up to being menopausal, or middle-aged, or perhaps it’s because to lack of sleep, or because of kids, or to stress.

But, what is really happening is that our brain is aging.

Science tells us how well our brain ages is 25% due to genes, while the other three-quarters is dependent on our lifestyle choices.

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Menopause and Our Brain

Research shows that the female sex hormone, estrogen, plays a key role in brain function.

An article in the journal Neurology describes estrogen as “a key element in the work of the brain [that] helps direct blood to parts of the brain that are more active.”

Since that hormone declines during menopause, one would think so would our brain function.

However, according to a six-year study of women who were still menstruating, perimenopausal, or postmenopausal, most of the women improved their test scores of brain function over time.

That is, even women with declining estrogen were able to improve brain function.

Should you have memory slips or difficulty concentrating, research suggests a variety of potential underlying causes.

These include disturbed sleep, extra stress, or depression.

For instance, if you’re awakened by night sweats several times during the night, that’s often enough to interfere with your ability to concentrate or remember what tool you were trying to find in the garage the next day.

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

1/Exercise

One of the best tips to keep your brain young is to exercise. A combination of aerobic and strength spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells.

This, in turn, slows down our mental decline.

TIP: Aim for 3-4 times of aerobic work a week, with 2-3 sessions of weight training.

2/Stress less

Stress is bad for your brain (as well as your waistline, your heart and your relationships).

In a paper released on stress and the brain, Jeansok Kim of the University of Washington found that stress can “disturb cognitive processes such as learning and memory, and consequently limit the quality of human life”.

TIP: Try meditation, yoga, or 5-minutes of daily deep breathing (come on – we all have 5-minutes we can spare for our l’ brain).

3/ Break your routine

Do something outside of your comfort level. Challenge your brain with new activities.

Your brain is similar to your other muscles. For example, if you were to do the same exercise program, day-in-day-out, you would stop seeing results after a period of time.

This is because your muscles have become accustomed to those exercises.

The same goes for the brain.

TIP: Put the crossword puzzle away (if that’s what you do everyday), and instead, learn how to use a new app on your phone (or for some, how to use your phone).

funny-getting-older-quote-Fitness-with-PJ

4/ Get some sleep

Sleep is the only time the brain has to re-boot itself. It’s when we consolidate new memories and restore and recover from what has happened to us during the day.

TIP: Boost your sleep by turning off your electronics in the evening, performing yin yoga, meditating, and getting outside during the day so your circadian rhythm is activated.

5/ Hang out with friends

We are social animals and spending time with others is important for our brain health.

In a 2012 Dutch study it was shown that loneliness increased the risk of dementia by 65%. Some doctors even believe that loneliness is worse for your health than smoking, being an alcoholic and being obese.

TIP: Volunteer, join a group, plan activities in advance with friends and family.

West Coast Trail Love

6/ Work

If you are near retirement you might want to re-think that. People who continuously get mental stimulation build their brains up faster and keep them built up.

TIP: If you are retired, consider going back to work again, but this time doing something that you have always wanted to do. Not only will you be stimulating yourself mentally, you will also build that social network that is so important for brain health too.

7/ Improve your blood pressure

High blood pressure in your midlife increases your risk of cognitive decline in your later years.

TIP: Use medication, if prescribed, as well as lifestyle changes such as controlling your weight, your stress, getting plenty of exercise and eating right.

fresh broccoli in heart shape on table

8/ Eat better

You are what you eat, so don’t be cheap, easy or fake.

TIP: Eat foods on a daily basis that are rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals.

9/ Improve your blood sugars

Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and other types of dementia because cardiovascular problems associated with diabetes are also associated with dementia.

TIP: Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamin D, folate, B6 and B12 vitamins, as well as exercise regularly.

Workouts can also balance your blood sugar levels.

 

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5 Natural Remedies for Treating Menopause

5 Natural Remedies for Treating Menopause

5 Natural Remedies for Treating Menopause

Five natural remedies for treating menopausal symptoms.

Menopause. It comes with it’s perks.

No more period! No more buying tampons! No more buying pads! No more menstrual cramps!

But, to get there we have to put up with:

Irregular periods

Hot flashes and night sweats

Sleep problems

Mood changes

Weight gain

Thinning hair and dry skin

Vaginal dryness

Low libido

Now, this doesn’t mean all of us will get the above symptoms, and for those of that do it also doesn’t mean we have take this lying down.

There are natural ways we can manage our menopause symptoms.

(NOTE: If your symptoms are severe, though, you may need HRT. Talk to your doctor or menopause specialist.)

5 Natural Remedies for Menopause

1/ Exercise.

Go figure I would list this as the first natural remedy to menopause. But, it’s also what all the experts recommend as well.

First, exercise releases endorphins, thereby improving our moods.

Second, exercise has a positive effect on cognitive functioning. Helping us through that brain fog that plague so many women in menopause.

Third, exercise lowers blood pressure, improves lipoprotein profile, C-reactive protein and other heart disease biomakers.

Fourth, exercise helps to enhance insulin sensitivity that gets impaired as we age.

And finally, exercise can help prevent weight gain.

This is particularly important for menopausal women as our weight tends to stick to unusual places (hello meno-pod), and our scales refuse to budge.

Which is super frustrating! Isn’t it??

However, one of the reasons that this is so common in menopause is because of our fluctuating estrogen levels.

You see estrogen tends to cause our body to hold onto fat. And then on top of this fat actually produces more estrogen, which then creates even more fat.

Therefore, the vicious cycle continues.

Start adding fitness slowly into your routine.

Add a HIIT, or higher intensity, cardio workout once a week into your routine.

Strength train 2-4 times a week.

If you’re a beginner, get a workout program designed with you (and weight loss) in mind.

2/ Eat well.

What we put in our bodies has a huge impact on our menopause symptoms.

Foods to keep an eye that could trigger your menopause symptoms:

Fatty cuts of meat: for heart health and your waistline

Sugar: for fatigue and weight gain (eliminate completely!)

Refined carbs: mood swings, fatigue and weight gain (eliminate completely!)

Caffeine: hot flashes, increased cortisol levels and sleep problems

Alcohol: hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, weight gain (eliminate completely! Haha, just joking. Scared ya though, didn’t I?)

Spicy foods: hot flashes

Hot foods: hot flashes

What to eat instead?

Clean sources of protein (such as free-range beef, bison, chicken, turkey, fish, beans and legumes)

Soy: the isoflavones in soy foods are thought to balance the hormones levels. There is research about soy both working and not working (very confusing Mr and Mrs Researchers), as well there are questions about the safety of soy too (in some studies the participants have seen an increase in breast cancer). Experts recommend avoiding supplements, and instead, choose from food sources such as tofu, soy milk, roasted soy nuts or tempeh.

Vegetables: aim for at least a pound a day and make half of that raw. Also please choose green whenever you can – green is the new black.

Fruit: get sugar out of your life and add fruit instead. For weight loss, I would recommend 2 pieces of fruit a day (no more), and earlier in the day when the body processes carbs better.

Complex carbs: oats, brown rice, veggies and fruit, beans, legumes, quinoa, grains and ancient grains

Healthy fats: avocados & avocado oil, coconut oil, organic butter & ghee, extra virgin olive oil, eggs with the yolk, nuts and seeds, and omega-3s

Flax seed: the lignans found in flax seeds are thought to balance our hormones, however according to the Mayo Clinic flax does not provide any benefit from hot flashes. It’s worth a try though. Now, it needs to be pointed out that the study that the Mayo Clinic is referring to used breast cancer patients and all were postmenopausal.

My question: would a woman without cancer, and in peri or menopause see benefits?

I say try it. You have nothing to lose and if flax doesn’t help your menopause symptoms at least you will be giving yourself a good boost of fibre and healthy fats.

3/ Decrease your stress.

Stress can be the culprit behind additional imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood, as well as mental function, thyroid function, digestive function, and especially blood sugar imbalances.

Stress has also been linked to symptoms such as hot flashes and low libido.

In addition, stress can make the body hold onto fat, and create more fat. Since the brain thinks the body is under attack.

Learn to decrease your stress with meditation, yoga or by performing a few deep belly breathes next time you are feeling anxious.

Lie on your back with a book resting on your belly. Inhale deeply and feel the book rise under your belly. Exhale fully and feel the book lower toward the spine.

Repeat for 2-10 minutes daily to improve your vagus nerve function – which can calm an overactive central nervous system.

4/ Acupuncture.

Many women find relief from menopause symptoms with acupuncture.

Even the experts say that acupuncture (as well as hypnosis, meditation and yoga) can help and have good safety records.

This means that acupuncture has worked in women to help relieve the symptoms of menopause and have done so with no risk to our health.

So even if it doesn’t work for you, you won’t put yourself at risk for trying.

On a different note, I personally have used acupuncture in the past for low back pain, and with complete success.

5/ Herbs, supplements and essential oils.

The following natural products are what some women take to help with their symptoms.

However, none have clearly been shown to be 100% helpful. There is also little information on the long-term safety of natural products, and some can have harmful side effects or interact with drugs.

With all that said, I know of a lot of woman who use natural products and with great success.

My suggestion is to discuss using any of these treatments with a menopause specialist, or a naturopath who specializes in women’s health.

Black cohosh – one of the best studied traditional herbs for menopause. Black cohosh seems to work by supporting and maintaining our hormone levels.

Vitamin E – a daily dose of 400 IU could help alleviate hot flashes.

B vitamins – these water-soluble vitamins may help deal with the stress of menopausal symptoms.

Evening primrose or black currant oil – these are sources of essential fatty acids that can help moderate menopausal symptoms.

Dong quai – a herb that could help support and maintain the natural balance of our hormones.

Bottom line

Begin the process of managing your menopause symptoms with tips 1 through 4 first.

None of these have side effects, and each has been researched and shown to help support our bodies – at any time in our lives.

If your symptoms still persist see a menopause specialist, or a naturopath who specializes in women’s health to discuss the use of herbs and supplements, or even HRT.

 

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