Archive | Building Muscle

Starting a Women’s Group

Have you thought about starting a women’s group? Maybe you stop yourself because you don’t know where to begin or have some idea but can’t seem to find the time to organize the group. It does take some time to organize the group – though not as much as you may think – and the benefits all the women in the group receive are significant.

Women seem to naturally come together to share everyday activities. Life is easier when you can shop, exercise or share a problem with a friend. So creating a group around a specific topic feeds us emotionally.

We have different relationships in our lives, all of which are important. Yet it’s the women in our lives who add silly laughter, endless hours of conversation, caring for us when we are ill, and a loving ear when we are hurting. Are you more relaxed with your women friends?

We started our women’s group 11 years ago with the vision that women know how to naturally brainstorm and help each other problem solve. We meet once a month over dinner and the hostess picks a topic for the evening, usually around self-help. In the past, we’ve had psychic readings and massages, too. After 11 years, we have a special bond with each other. We’ve shared problems, joys, celebrations and grandchildren. More importantly, we have each grown because of our consistent connections with each other and the topics that we have chosen to discuss.

When you first start a group, it may seem a bit awkward. The excitement is there yet you haven’t bonded as a group. Over time, the group creates itself and the power of gathering together impacts each one of you individually.

Why would you want to start a group? There are many reasons why women gather. In the old days, women formed “quilting bees” where they talked and shared the sewing together. It’s all about sharing. So what would you like to share with other women?

To jumpstart your thinking, here are some ideas that women are interested in:

– Parents gather together who have similar aged children.

– Women want to become financially savvy so they start investment clubs.

– Spiritual circles – sharing a spiritual lifestyle together.

– Women at work – professional women creating mastermind groups to move them forward in their careers.

– Working moms – Moms don’t have to be alone in finding solutions to the challenges of working and creating a satisfying home life.

– Community oriented – helping impact the communities we live in.

– Building a stronger family – helping each other brainstorm on how to create a loving and caring family.

– Cultural – plan outings to different cultural events.

-…and more!

Society has changed significantly. For women in the past, we were part of a large, strong and extended family network. For some of us that may still be true. For many of us, our families reside in different places nowadays. So our women connections fill in the gaps. Each one of us can build stronger lives on the strength of our connections with other women. Why not gather in one room, each member bringing their unique selves to share with others, so all of us can grow and build stronger lives.

In today’s busy world, we need to find a place that is there for us, and building a community of women adds a lot of value to your life.

Copyright (c) 2008 Pat Brill

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Pedaling Power – Superior Leg Strength For Cycling!

If you are a serious cycler then you have got to have a smart leg strengthening exercise plan in place to be successful. As a matter of fact, you better have a superior total body strength and conditioning plan in place if you want to truly make any progress up against today’s competition. I have included a tremendous body weight exercise here for you to perform in order to assist you in drastically improving your leg strength and will help you beat up on your competitors my friend! Read on if I have your attention.

The Pistol Squat: Great Leg Strength For Cycling

If you are wanting to climb those hills harder without the worry of your legs turning into spaghetti noodles then you have got to implement this exercise into your training routine my friend. The pistol squat is a tremendous body weight drill that you can perform on your own without the need of a gym or free weights. So what is the pistol squat? The pistol squat is basically a single legged squat that you perform by lifting one leg off of the ground and ideally squatting all the way to the ground and back up with the other leg. This is one gruesome strength drill that will drastically improve your leg workouts for cycling.

For starters, I don’t expect you to do this at first try unless you have done it before or if you happen to be a freak of nature. Nevertheless, I want to explain how you can begin practicing this drill on your own. To start, you can modify this exercise by utilizing the sophisticated tool of a chair or bench. This shouldn’t be too hard of piece of equipment to find, right? Anyway, stand in front of the chair or bench and sit on it to start. From here lift one leg up and firmly place the leg thats on the ground into the ground by pushing through your heel. Keep the other leg up and tense your body by making fists with both hands as you attempt to stand up. Don’t allow the other leg to touch the ground.

As you get better at standing up off of the chair then intensify the drill further by starting from a standing position and lowering yourself down so that your rear touches the chair and then stand back up. You can see how the progression is working from here. Once you get really good at the chair or bench level then try to find a lower level surface to practice on until you no longer need it and can go execute your range of motion all the way to the floor. This is building leg strength for cycling at it’s best my friend.

If you haven’t already started to implement the pistol squat into your cycling resistance training program then you are missing out. Take the time to learn more about this and other hard hitting drills by accessing the rest of my articles on the issue for free. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the champions train smart!

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A Guide To Choosing Between A Spinning Dance Pole or A Static Dance Pole for Fitness Pole Dancing

Should You Get A Static Dance Pole Or A Spinning Dance Pole?

Static dance pole or spinning dance pole? Even if you’re only a beginner pole dancer and have barely scratched the surface of looking into a buying a pole for pole dancing, you’ve probably heard these terms but may not know exactly what they mean. We’re going to take the mystery out of the decision-making process and explore the differences between static dance poles and spinning dance poles to help you figure what is the best type for your needs.

What is a static pole?

Static poles are what the majority of pole dancers learn on. Simply put, static poles do not move as you dance. This makes it much easier to actually learn the technique properly.

Everyone should learn the basics on a static pole before they move up to a spinning one.

Why?

Because it requires much less muscle strength and control to dance on a static pole than on a spinning one. There’s no need to give yourself a much higher learning curve than you need to, especially in the beginning.

These type of poles are cheaper than their spinning counterparts, but keep in mind that they can’t be upgraded to spin later on.

What is a spinning pole?

Unlike statics, spinning poles are constructed to spin with the force of your body’s moment. This means when you started to dance or spin, the pole will spin with you.

In general, your spins will require less force to be executed beautifully because you will have this added help. Of course, dancing like this requires more coordination, and at the very least, you’ll have learn how to keep dizziness under control.

The difficulty level and challenge is high, but after you master this method, the sheer exhilaration of feeling like you’re flying can be a wonderful feeling for some.

All spinning poles have a mechanism that can make them static, so if you purchase one, you will have the option of either spinning or static.

Which should you choose?

  • If you intend on making pole dancing a long-term serious endeavor, then it might suit you to purchase a spinning dance pole.
  • If you don’t intend on seriously pursuing the sport or the thought of spinning around at dizzying speeds makes you sick just imagining it, feel free to save your money and stick to a static dance pole.
  • And of course, if you’re indecisive or like to keep your options option, go for a spinning pole because it can always be converted to a static one.

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How To Increase Breast Size After Breastfeeding

Many times women will find that when they stop breastfeeding their breast size will shrink, with sometimes the cup size going lower than what it was before she got pregnant. There are some ways that you can increase breast size after breastfeeding if you happen to lose your fullness in your chest that you had while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Read the tips below to learn how to increase breast size after breastfeeding.

Performing chest exercises may not actually increase the size of your breasts but building up muscle under your breast can help your bust look much perkier and fuller. After pregnancy and breastfeeding it’s not uncommon for breast to be much lower and to sag more because of being stretched out and then returning to normal size. Breasts lose elasticity, but chest exercises can help gain some of that tone back which can make the breast look bigger. Although chest exercises will not increase breast size after breastfeeding directly it can help the breast appear larger and better in a bra.

When breastfeeding some women will actually take herbs like fenugreek to increase their milk supply, but what many women don’t know is that these herbs can also be taken after the milk supply has dried up to increase the size of the breasts. The herbs that you can take to increase breast size aren’t very expensive and almost all of them can be found at a health food store or even just your local pharmacy. These herbs are completely safe to take and have been proven effective in helping women increase their bust size. Just be aware that they must be taken on a regular basis and you may have to find the right combination and amounts before you notice a different in your breasts.

Another way you can increase breast size after breastfeeding is through massage. Massaging the breasts actually improves circulation, which can not only help with size but also with tone and fullness of the breasts as well. There are certain techniques to massage and there are some creams that can help improve the techniques as well. By learning the correct massage techniques and combining that along with herbs you can effectively increase the size of your chest by one to two cups sizes and this is all done naturally with no surgery or medicines.

These are just some of the ways that you can learn how to increase breast size after breastfeeding. There are other effective techniques that you can learn in combination with these to make your efforts even more effective.

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So, You Want to Build Your Own Baseball Or Softball Training Facility? Part 2 of 3

PART 2 – Standard Components

The Optimal & Recommended Products

I do have my favorites. All tend to be associated with hitting and pitching, though speed, defense and strength products can figure into this category…dependent upon your business model.

Batting Cages & Tunnels

This is the backbone of your work space and is of paramount importance… you don’t want to buy this stuff twice!

Most indoor facilities tend to use a cabling system to hang their nets as opposed to the steel framework you see at a typical ballpark. We can help you design and decide on your choices.

Standard sizes cages are more inexpensive and will fit most, so see if these sizes will fit you:

(and yes, we can custom-build for your unique building)

Recommended Standard Sizes

12 ft H x 14 ft W x 55 ft L

12 ft H x 14 ft W x 70 ft L

Please do NOT purchase 12 ft wide cages if you can avoid this…they are just too small for your LH and RH hitters and will potentially drive you nuts on a daily basis. You will probably have premature wear from RH hitters who follow through and graze the net.

We understand that many or even most facilities are housed in buildings that have been converted from another use… one more reason to be dealing with someone with experience.

Here’s a few more helpful thoughts on the subject of batting cages and nets:

The length of your cages will not determine the future success of your hitters… but pitchers must practice at their game-distances. So, you can save some money and precious space utilizing shorter cages for hitters. The weight (strength) of your netting is of highest importance…there are variations in materials, and how they are knotted… boring stuff but this will determine function, longevity and your ultimate price.

Please speak with us about your options if you are unclear as to your available choices …please DO NOT SHOP BY LENGTH, WIDTH, HEIGHT AND PRICE ONLY!

The ultimate price of your nets will include their years of service!

Pitcher’s L Screens

Buy one for every batters cage. I like the 7 ft x 7 ft and absolutely recommend good ones…not necessarily the Pro Stuff. Much of that tends to be too big (8 ft x 8 ft), and too heavy for indoor use. Just make sure you are getting very heavy pillow case-style netting (we carry two strengths of net) because you will be very close to batters and need heavy double-sided netting that is thick enough to reasonably assure that you will see your next birthday. AND YES, do get the wheel kits…and thank me later.

Turf & Stance Mats

Concrete floors eat balls and are very difficult for coaches to stand on for hours every day.

Turf is a very popular but expensive piece of your budget. We happen to be based in Atlanta, Georgia where most turf is manufactured so we have spent many hours learning inside these plants. Turf is graded and designed for various sports and applications so all synthetic athletic turf is not all created equal. Please call and let us help you in making these decisions.

Home Plate Stance Mats are 6 ft x 12 ft heavy synthetic turf batters mats that are both spike-proof and weather-proof and should last you many years without showing failure. Most have the parallel-only lines of the batters box tufted in with white turf, basic models have rubber painted homeplates, deluxe have flocked white homeplates, ALL our stance mats are matched with a heavy, thick backer for cushioning and support indoors or out and will last for many years without failure!

Turf Infield – An Ultimate Tool That Separates Your Facility From the Pack

Any facility that contains a large enough turfed area for taking infield practice cannot be beaten by new or existing competition that don’t have same abilities…especially in colder weather areas. It is a large investment but one that totally escalates any facility to an elite status.

Please call us to discuss and for some advise. The info we will need are your dimensions and what type of existing floor that you have.

Pitching Machines

  • Iron Mike Arm Style Machines aka Master Pitching Machine Model MP4 or MP6.

These workhorses are almost identical but carry a hefty price difference.

Each can be set up for baseball or softball use (and changed in 5 minutes or less). You can dump up to 600 bb or 400 sb in the large hopper. Include is a FREE corded remote control, perfect for teaching and to help keep the area safer. These models throw accurate fastballs-only at speeds ranging from 25 to 85 mph every 7 seconds… with very little maintenance making them perfect for heavy users and pro ballclubs alike. They will perform for years without problem or issue!

  • BATA Brand Wheel-Type Pitching Machines

The advantage of this type of pitching machine is that many can be set up to throw LH and RH breaking balls as well as fastballs… all at various speeds (usually manually adjusted). The disadvantage is that they require auto ball feeders or a 2nd person to hand feed the machine. Although important and absolutely recommended, I would purchase only the good stuff, such as our Bata Brand, which we have carried for over 7 years without one motor replacement…and the wheels seem to go forever even in heavy duty Spring training or Institutional use…just a great machine (FYI – I recommend the BATA 2 but the newer BATA 3 is the newest and very popular in facilities for its randomization of fastballs or breaking balls without adjustment).

Portable Pitching Mounds

6″ Tall Mounds for up to age 12

10″ Tall for adult size players (If purchasing one size, choose the adult sizes).

Leather Baseballs & Leather Softballs

Balls are a recurring expense and one you should think about from the beginning.

Pitchers must throw good leather baseballs however no pitchers ERA will improve because you purchased the best game balls you can find. Same goes for your hitters though you have more choices for them (see below).

I really like Wilson A 1030 practice balls that come with a 6 gallon TALL coaches bucket and snap-lid. Regular 5 gallon buckets are too short and can make your back ache over time…plus they hold 20% less. These are priced right and do seem to last as long as you’d expect.

Wilson A 1015 Baseballs is as good a ball as any training facility might need. Nice seams and good feel too. They have a “B” grade cover (“A” being the best) A better ball for a bit more money. No bucket included. Sold by the dozen and savings by the 10 dozen case.

My personal favorite ball for pitching machines is BADEN Brand Ballistic Leather Machine Pitch Baseballs. This is a new concept where the ball has lower seams to throw straighter pitches with less resistance from the high spin rate of the pitching machine tires or wheels plus it is stitched with KEVLAR, the bullet-proof vest material. This reduces the premature wear even good game balls will experience, as they are stitched with easily breakable cotton string.

Needless to say, these balls outlast most any good quality leather balls when used in your pitching machines. Prices are surprisingly low. Purchase by the dozen with savings by the 10 dozen case!

Dimple Balls are absolutely practical and the choice for many heavy use hitting facilities. They are graded like anything else so many people who have had bad luck with them figure that they are all bad. The truth is that many are bad and we only carry a pro ball. This means that not only are they “sting free” (meaning that they are not hard as rocks, which can damage expensive metal bats and raise hell with wheel-type pitching machines). But they don’t feel like you are hitting a tomato either… ours actually have a nice pop to them and they travel well.

Yellow machine pitch dimple balls – this is the standard… sold by the dozen and by money-saving 10 dz case for baseball and 6 dz case for our 12 inch softballs.

What a great idea… these long lasting dimple balls look like a real game ball to the hitter!

Turf Infield

This is the ultimate for any indoor facility…an entire turfed infield area for team and individual defensive work. Due to the cost , many who choose to do this will arrange their batting cage layout so that cages can be pulled to one end of the building by “shower curtain rod” method for double use of the same area. Again, you may want to call us to discuss ideas.

Sport Specific Speed and agility training days or hours can also be added to more than justify this expense and build more streams of revenue while really helping players improve quicker…all under one roof!

Hitting Stations

Wasting practice time is a huge sin that we have all watched over and over… players are bored and skills may not get taught or committed to muscle memory while players are waiting their turn in the cage.

Anytime you can use machinery to “multiply ” your coaching staff, you and your players will benefit. Most equipment is not designed for your heavy, daily use so be a bit catious when choosing.

The above are great teaching and learning ideas that will also add revenue streams.

They combine the cornerstones of building good repeatable swings and come from some great inventors of modern baseball training aids.

Please consider these as opportunities to both you as a successful and innovative innovator. Don’t short-change your kids on the maximum quality learning that new and modern teaching ideas can give them!

Remember, any limited extra space can be put to good use IF you give it some thought. Consider every station you utilize outdoors and call us to discuss how we may be able to help you design and bring it indoors.

  1. Batting Tee Stations
  2. Soft Toss Stations – Automated

We have the best soft toss machine I have ever used… and it can be utilized for baseball and fastpitch with no change over or down time! Its also on wheels and moves in aand out of cages with no hassle.

  1. Soft Toss Stations – Manual – We have an excellent selection of portable and stationary net and safety screens …plus custom applications too!
  2. Stationary Hitting Stations – Many need only one person to operate. Some are attached to fence posts, some are free standing. Se what fits and extra corner you had no plans for. It all adds up!
  3. Underload & Overload Training Devises

See Bratt’s Weighted Bats, Edge Power Weighted Gloves, SwftStick Underload Training Bats, Ripken Kinect Training Bats. Great stuuf that will hold up to your heavy use.

Additional Items We Find Useful

  1. Radar Guns – This link shows you all our offerings but one good one with a padded case is all you need. The best radar gun on the market, bar none, is the Stalker Brand baseball & Softball Radar Gun. This is what MLB Scouts use… period. Our association with the manufacturer has given us a window into what the good radar guns should do (technology evolves and so do these fine instruments). The newest models are actually superior to the older standard models that still dominate Big League Baseball. But since they hold up so well, it will be some seasons before the new AND LESS EXPENSIVE models are seen begin carried by today’s pro scouts. Click to see the new and older model Stalker Radar Guns.
  2. Bleachers and Bench Seating
  3. Pitching Targets, Nets & Screens – we carry most all size and strengths in catch nets, hitters sock nets, baffle nets and cage dividers, Strike Zone Pads, ZIP Nets for garage opening types of applications. Many of our screens have optional wheel kits for true portablility (more important than you might think).
  4. Pitchers Rubbers, Throwdown Bases and related items.
  5. Aluminum bats, wood training bats, one handed bats, good quality one size fits all helmets with and without facemasks. These are all necessary as many of your students may not even own some of these basics.
  6. Shatterproof full length mirrors
  7. Video Software for pitchers and hitters (requires a video camera)

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Fun Volleyball Drills

One challenge that every sports coach eventually must face is making practices fun. While repetitive drills are necessary for building skill and muscle memory, when players become accustomed to certain drills they are more inclined to turn their minds off and go through the motions. Instead, coaches must continually rotate drills and add fun and exciting new ones to their practice line up to keep players focused and sharp. Feel free to use one of the following fun volleyball drills at your next practice to break up the routine and challenge your players in new ways.

Bingo Volleyball

For the first of these fun volleyball drills you will need a large sheet of white paper and a black marker. Begin by brainstorming a list of some of the crucial skills and moves that your players need help with such as perfect dig, block, spike, etc. Once you’ve come up with at least 25 draw a bingo card on the sheet of paper, filling each of the squares with one of the skills and post it next to the court.

Now divide your team into groups of six for scrimmage. The teams play against each other as if it were a regular match with one key difference: each time they successfully execute one of the aforementioned moves, they earn that spot on the bingo card. Players must call the move before the execute it to earn the spot on the card.

The goal is to make a line of 5, at which point all members of the team must yell “Bingo”. This game causes players to come up with a game plan that successfully incorporates the necessary moves to make a line of 5, which can often be radically different from their normal game plan.

Hit the Deck!

When searching for fun volleyball drills remember that the emphasis does not always have to be on hitting the ball. Volleyball requires many other skills that are often less recognized, such as the ability to drop and hit the floor without fear or hesitation. The following drill, which we call “Hit the Deck”, will help your players overcome that hesitation.

Begin by having your players jog on the spot. Either at the sound of your whistle or when you yell the words “Hit the Deck”, all players must drop to the floor instantly. If you’d like to up the competitive spirit of the drill, you can enforce a rule where the last player to hit the floor is out.

Building Defensive Toughness

The third of the fun volleyball drills I like to use to change up my practice routines is a simple variation on 2-on-6. For this drill, one team has 6 players and the other has only 2. To begin with, have the strongest players on your team as the outnumbered ones.

The 6-player team begins by serving the ball within two steps of a member of the 2-player team. The goal is not to try and humiliate the 2-player team; rather the goal is to have them get down and play defense. You’ll really begin to notice your players develop their defensive toughness after running the fun drill at a couple of your practices.

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Boost Your Testosterone Levels Naturally For Optimum Sex Drive

Testosterone is the principal hormone responsible for the development of male reproductive organs like testis and prostate. It enhances the growth of muscle mass and strength, increases borne density and strength and promotes maturity of the sex organs especially the Penis. Low testosterone levels reduce your sex drive and as well causes erection dysfunction and low sperm development. The use of artificial hormones, Drugs or Doctors to increase your testosterone will not only give you a temporal result but it also comes with a lot of side effects like hair loss, Acne, Bloating-water retention and Wild Mood Swings. But using the natural means is the surest way to boost your levels of testosterone for optimum sex drive.

To boost testosterone levels naturally for optimum sex drive requires the use of herbal supplements, natural foods, exercise and avoidance of the use of prescribed medications. These factors when used in adequate proportions will make your testicles to get fuller and heavier, increase your ejaculation volume and erection power and in general promote quality life.

The use of herbal supplements in boosting testosterone level for optimal sex drive is powerful and more result oriented both at the short and long run than the prescribed drugs. It only requires you to ensure that you choose the right herbs, Keep a minimum of seven different herbs for boosting levels of testosterone and take each for one day. This is because when you rely on just one testosterone booster, yes you can feel honey, juiced, motivated even high sex drive, but as you continue using the same herb the effect will continue to depreciate until it works no more. When you take different herbs each day, you keep your body guessing thereby avoiding the chances of your body building up tolerance.

Brief and intense exercises help your body to release testosterone and growth hormone as you surpasses the anaerobic threshold which is the burning sensation you some times feel in your legs during your heavy exercise routines. This article does not recommend endurance exercises for testosterone boosting because it lowers the testosterone levels. To boost your testosterone levels for optimum sex drive you need to perform intense exercises like jumping rope, weight training, squats, stair climbing and sprints three times in a week with maximum of 15 minutes for each of the exercises. Seek to observe when you feel that burning sensation in your legs then push harder for some minutes longer so that you can achieve big surge of anabolic hormones. Again, your training should focus more on your leg muscles because it is the biggest muscle in your body and the more you work on them the more you will be boosting your levels of testosterone.

Another way you can boost your testosterone levels is by eating natural and healthy diets for maximum testosterone production. There are lots of foods out there you must avoid because they cause a lot of harm on your hormone levels. Such foods include: grape and corn syrup, soy products, bleached white flour and excess refined carbohydrates. To maximize your testosterone levels, you need to consume more of the following foods: eggs, watermelon, wild Salmon, Avocados, Raw Oysters, Cruciferous Vegetables, Grass Fed Beef, Chicken and Tuna. Quality animal fats, nuts and unrefined carbohydrates, as these foods will help to increase your testosterone levels.

Low sexual desires in men are as a result of low testosterone levels. Therefore, to experience a high sex drive, you need to increase your testosterone levels. Thinking of using artificial hormones, drugs or doctors will be one of your biggest mistakes because they will not only succeed in giving you a temporary satisfaction and then worsen your situation later but they also come with several side effects, but with the use of natural therapy like the use of herbal supplements, exercise, healthy foods you are sure of boosting your testosterone levels for optimal sex drive.

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How Quickly Can You Get Fit After Years of Inactivity?

Have you been inactive for years? Are you wondering how long it will take you to get fit?

The short answer is “It depends!” How fast you get into shape is directly related to your present physical condition, and how fast your body reacts to physical conditioning. For example, someone 10 pounds overweight, with no physical limitations, will get into shape a lot faster than someone 50 pounds overweight with Type II diabetes and bad knees.

Not only will it take the second person longer to get in shape, but he or she will probably need to use a different strategy. The second person may never get to the fitness level of the first one. But remember that it is not a competition. It is individual and doing anything is better than doing nothing.

Getting fit after years of inactivity is like taking a car out for a drive after it has been sitting for ten years. If you are a car aficionado, you know you wouldn’t get in, and see how fast you could max out the r.p.ms in every gear. You would baby it along and gradually get it up to speed. The body after years of “non-use” is similar.

You want to start slow and gradually work your way up the fitness ladder. The American Heart Association recommends that a good place to start is to exercise three to four times per week, 30 to 60 minutes each time, with a target heart rate of 50% to 60% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate take 220 – your age (for men) or 226 – your age (for women).

For example, the maximum heart rate for a 50 year-old man would be 170. Sixty percent of that figure would be 102 beats per minute. Increase your level of activity over a 6-week period eventually getting your target heart rate up to 70 to 80% (80% would be 136).

A good place to start is with a mix of cardio and strength training. Walking, running, playing tennis, biking and swimming are all good cardio activities that will get your heart rate up to your target range. Of course before starting your exercise routine, (and after getting the okay from your doctor), be sure to warm-up with stretching.

If you have bad knees, then substitute an elliptical trainer for walking or running. And don’t even think of playing tennis. With either cardio or strength training, adjust time/intensity and weight/repetitions to keep your heart rate in the appropriate range. With strength training, start out light on weight and repetitions and work up.

The other half of getting fit is eating right. While you are at the doctor getting checked out to see if you are fit enough to start an exercise program, ask about a nutrition plan. It will be different for you if you have to lose a lot of weight than if you are already at the proper weight for your height and age.

Getting fit is about setting a goal and then gradually working up to reach that goal. Focusing only on reaching your goal as quickly as possible is just asking for a debilitating injury which could set you back months.

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Anti-Stress Workouts

With free time in short supply, worries to shoulder and active family and social lives, far too many of us find ourselves caught in a non-stop whirl. The all-too-common result is stress burnout, a topic of major concern for leading psychological researchers and hundreds of thousands of victims each year.

Chances are you’ve felt the symptoms – knots in your neck, butterflies in the stomach, irritability. Stress can get a lot worse, though, and if it’s bottled up it can be a potent and disruptive force to the healthy body and mind.

So what do you do when you find yourself grinding your teeth? The cure might be a good workout. Recent research has once again affirmed common sense: getting the heart pumping and letting the sweat start to flow can tone your attitude as much as it forms your physique.

As a whole, people who exercise regularly and take athletic time out to blow off steam can manage stress better.

Besides, as a weapon against stress, exercise is healthier than having a drink and cheaper than visiting a psychiatrist. And it works.

WHY WORK OUT?

What we commonly know as “bad stress” – tension – is actually an instinctual, physiological reaction that enabled our prehistoric forefathers to survive the dangers of the wild.

When you perceive a danger or threat, your body assumes the well-known “fight or flight” mode that prepares you to defend yourself against attack. The hypothalamus region of the brain sends a message to the pituitary gland to secrete cortisol, “the stress hormone”, into your bloodstream. In the chain reaction that follows, signals begin rushing to all parts of your body. Adrenaline pours into your bloodstream, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure increases and your breathing gets heavy. You’re ready for action. Usually, though, the opportunity for physical release isn’t there; you merely sit and seethe. Though the stressful event may be over, the lack of reaction means that those chemicals remain in your bloodstream. Over a prolonged period, they can become overwhelming – even leading to high blood pressure, hypertension or a nervous breakdown.

Dr. Hans Selye, a pioneer in the study of stress and author of ‘Stress Without Distress’, explains that we have a three-step reaction to stress. First, we experience a stage of initial alarm. Followed by a stage of adaptation or resistance, and finally, we are exhausted. If we don’t move all the way through these stages, stress gets bottled up inside – a cumulative and insidious process.

Of course, exercise isn’t going to be any help at all if it only adds more stress to a tension-ridden life. So don’t create a situation where it means a rush-hour train journey to the gym, signing up for a class you won’t able to make, or spending more money than you can reasonably afford. But take heart, almost any regular muscle-moving activity, no matter how offbeat or humble, is stress-reducing. In fact, Selye goes so far as to call exercise “good stress.”

HOW TO WORK OUT?

Joining the local football team, playing tennis at the club, and going out dancing are all great ways to blow off steam. The reason is that they incorporate aerobic exercise.

When you hear the word aerobic, don’t think only of tummy-tightening calisthenics in leotards. Any exercise is classified as aerobic if it increases your breathing rate without leaving you out of breath, and makes your heart and lungs work to supply more oxygenated blood to the muscles in action.

The best aerobic sports are swimming, bicycling, jogging, tennis and racquet-ball. Team sports that involve running, throwing and agility are good too (however, you can be somewhat more prone to injury). All of them will prove physically beneficial if you do them consistently, and they can offer just the tension-busting release you need to unwind, breathe deep and put things in perspective.

Pick an activity you enjoy and not one that’s going to make you even more stressed. Depending upon your level of fitness when beginning an aerobic exercise, walking may be the right exercise to meet your stress reduction needs. Consult your doctor when designing any anti-stress exercise regimen.

Those who work out regularly have expressed amazement at how the addition of an exercise programme into their daily routines can make a difference in their attitudes, their health and even their sex lives.

The human body wasn’t designed to sit at a desk; we were built to be movers and shakers in the physical, not the corporate sense. When you give your body the outlet it’s begging for, symptoms from listlessness to reduced sex drive to tension headaches often mysteriously disappear.

And you’ll learn to deal with stress better over time. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of the Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas observes: “Aerobically fit people actually have lower heart rates during stressful situations than people who aren’t fit.”

HOW TO START?

Follow these general stress reduction guidelines:

Work out hard enough but not too hard. When you perform aerobic exercises, your goal should be to get the heart pumping to 70 per cent of its maximum capacity. Once you’ve hit this point, you should maintain it for about 20 minutes. A good rule of thumb for determining how hard you should do an aerobic exercise is that you should be able to hold a conversation at the same time.

Also, pick a place to do it that makes you comfortable. Try to schedule your workout at a convenient time, and stick to it. Nothing will make you more tense than feeling obligated instead of inspired to get your body moving.

And don’t expect too much at once. Remember, as with all activities, you only get out as much as you put in.

CHEMICAL REACTION

As you get into the groove of stress-reducing exercise, you’re likely to discover yet another benefit – it can actually get you high.

When you work out, your body secretes endorphins, those morphine-like substances that are often responsible for the euphoric feeling called “runner’s high.” These same endorphins that make you feel good during a workout can be a powerful weapon in your war against stress.

When tension sets in, endorphins are released into your bloodstream along with the cortisol hormone, and the combination can go a long way toward offsetting bad feelings. You only reap this benefit once you’re in good physical condition.

Though research is ongoing, some scientists claim that endorphins have a stabilizing effect upon the hormones (like cortisol) released during stress, tempering the negative effects on the body. According to Dr. Daniel Landers, professor of Physical Education at Arizona State University, “If you block the effects of endorphins, the heart rate goes up to twice the normal level.”

The bottom line is that not only does exercise help offset the stress you’ve already endured, it goes a long way in preparing you to deal with those increasing tensions yet to come.

All this shouldn’t make you think aerobic exercise is the end-all and be-all of body and mind conditioning techniques. It still has its limitations. If you don’t work out on a regular basis, the best exercise will do little or nothing to improve your reaction to stress, and it may even make stress worse by increasing your heartbeat intermittently between periods of inactivity.

There are chemical disadvantages to working out sporadically as well. If it is unaccustomed to the exercise, your body will not increase its endorphin levels until after the workout is over, in which case they might act to dull pain of strained, out-of-shape muscles, but will be released much too late to counter the stress hormone in your system.

Once you’ve built up your heart and turned yourself into a super-efficient stress-busting machine, it’s time for the next step: learning how to relax.

For ultimate stress relief, consider those activities that take you into the great outdoors. Whether you work out in the open air every day or supplement an indoor-gym programme with occasional jaunts across mother earth, you’ll find that a little communing with nature can go a long way in melting away stress.

Most importantly – enjoy it. As the Simon & Garfunkle song says, “Slow down, you move too fast, you’ve got to make the morning last… “

Make it last with some sports activity that makes you happy. And the next time you feel like blowing your top, you might just find you can cope a little bit better.

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The Importance Of An Active Lifestyle

Over the past 15 years or so, we have been told that a healthy lifestyle is important. Scientists recommend we should be accumulating on average 60 minutes of exercises a day in order to maintain healthy levels. What exactly does that number mean? Over the course of a regular day, we should be doing some sort of physical activity that adds up to approximately 60 minutes. Whether it is in the gym on the treadmill or just in the garden for the afternoon, adding physical activity is vital.

First we need to know what actually constitutes exercise. The term Healthy activity can be broken down in to three categories; Cardiovascular, Resistance, and Flexibility.

Cardiovascular training

It is recommended to do cardio 2 or 3 times a week. Depending on your fitness level., cardio can consist of a nice walk with your dog, or a vigorous run on the treadmill. Ideally you are trying to increase your cardio capacity. which has many health benefits.

Resistance Training

Part of living an active lifestyle is by doing some sort of resistance training at least 2 times a week. That doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and lift weights, you can easily do it at home by doing movements as simple as pushup and sit-ups, or by using something like resistance bands. Resistance training is just as important as cardiovascular activity and adds to your overall physical health.

Flexibility (stretching)

After you exercise, it is recommended you stretch for roughly 10 minutes, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds. Stretching is crucial to maintain flexibility and reduce the chance of injury from exercise.

Benefits of Exercise

So now we know that working out is important, but what are the actually benefits of living an active lifestyle? Below are just 5 of the countless benefits of being active.

Reduces the Risk of Dying Prematurely – Those living a healthy active lifestyle live longer compared those who are more sedentary.

Lowers the risk of developing diabetes – Exercise keeps body fat in control and helps regulate sugar levels

Increase muscular strength – Having an increase in strength helps make daily activities less difficult.

Helps reduce the risk of heart disease – Regular exercise strengthens the heart, respiratory system, and lungs which aids to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Decreases Body Fat – Exercise along with a balanced diet will reduce body fat significantly.

As you can see there are many excellent benefits of living an active lifestyle. By adding a small amount of cardio, resistance training and some stretching to your daily routine, the overall benefits are almost endless. Essentially being healthy is about adding balance to your life. You don’t have to be a Lance Armstrong, or a Venus Williams to be considered active, you just have to add some extra activities to you routine.

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