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Health & Fitness

Don’t Let Your Exercise Get Stale

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I often get clients coming in who have been exercising with machine circuit training and are frustrated with the lack of results. What happens too often is we repeat the same exercise routine for a particular body part or muscle group until the muscles adapt. As a rule of thumb, I always change my exercise routine every month to keep it progressive and making gains. Every once in a while I will do a special workout. I’ll do all my favorite exercises and not the ones I’ve designed into a specific fitness training program. I do this because it is beneficial to mix up exercises and equipment on occasion. If you keep repeating the same things and have done so over time, you have done a good job at maintaining your fitness level and muscles. You certainly have not challenged them and will not get them to make any gains. Even if you exercise for maintenance, I still recommend changing up your exercise routine.

Also: 5 Easy Ways To Have Optimal Health

Another way to vary your fitness routine is by changing from exercise machines to free weights/dumbbells or vice-versa. For cardio exercise, move from the treadmill to the stepper, elliptical or bike. With cardio workouts, I like interval training because it does just that, it varies the workout each time. Instead of always walking on the treadmill at the same speed and incline or grade, change up your speed and increase your grade. This will keep your exercise dynamic and prevent boredom. More importantly, it will challenge your muscles, heart, and lungs to work at different levels.

There are many ways to change your exercise routine. Be creative. Try creating a simple six-week training cycle in which you alternate between heavy, medium and light training sessions for each body part. Each time you try a heavy day, push your limit, leaving your medium and light days for building tendon and ligament strength as well as muscle endurance. At the end of your six-week cycle, take 2-4 days off and allow your body to rest. This prevents overtraining and will help your body with improved performance when you start up again. The cycling approach will be particularly effective for preventing injuries to muscle groups and connective tissue down the road.

Your goal will determine the number of reps you typically use. Different numbers of reps serve different purposes. First, know what your goals are in your training. What are you trying to accomplish? The standards are as follows: for strength train at 6 to 8 reps; endurance at 15 to 20 reps; toning at 10 to 15 reps; mass and size 6 to 20 reps.

There are also other factors to training in addition to reps. The number of sets is how many times you do the exercise with rest in between. Intensity is the level of difficulty in performing the exercise usually stated in a percentage of a 1 to 10 rep maximum. Rest is the amount of time you wait until you do another set. All of these factors are controlled variables in an exercise program. Knowing your fitness goals will help you or your trainer determine what the best mix is for you in designing your exercise program.

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When Moderation Isn’t A Thing

Savannah Lynx

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Photos by Ludwig Araujo Photography

It’s 4 pm and I’m alone in my apartment. Even though I’ve just eaten a satisfying spinach salad with egg whites, slivered almonds, red bell peppers, and broccoli florets, I’ve been opening, closing, and reopening the pantry cabinet door for the last minute and a half now. Before I take a second to stop and think, I do the unthinkable. I climb up onto my kitchen countertop and reach far into the unreachable space in which I’ve hidden it. I grab a spoon, unscrew the lid, and dip my silver utensil into the ooey-gooey goodness of my most delectable vice. As the savory sweet treat lands on my tastebuds, the voice inside my head says just one more spoonful and then you’ll be done. That voice and I both know it’s a big fat liar.

For more Savannah Lynx: Savannah Lynx’s Resolutions with Resolve

Hi. My name is Savannah, and I’m addicted to peanut butter.

It’s amazing to me that no matter how many times I tell myself I can keep peanut butter in the house and enjoy it in moderation, I still manage to disappoint myself to no end. My predictable lapses in willpower and good judgment have become exhausting, and my tumultuous relationship with this particular pulverized nut butter is no doubt verging on toxic. If you think my hyperbole is employed simply for dramatic flare, think again. It’s not uncommon for me to polish off a Costco sized family pack of peanut butter in under a week. If I don’t have anything to do on a lazy Sunday and nobody’s around to judge me, it might only take me a committed afternoon to devour an entire jar. It’s disgusting and flat out shameful, but it’s also the sad truth. As a fitness model and supposed model of health, I feel like I shouldn’t be dealing with such silly food-related matters. After all, I have won tens of thousands of dollars in fitness competitions and even have my own column on fitnessgurls.com for crying out loud. This kind of behavior just doesn’t fit the bill. But the more I think about the secret life of everyone you think you know, the more I’ve come to realize that I’m probably not the only one suffering from a paralyzing food addiction. Just to be certain, I started asking my friends.

Competitor or not, what I’ve discovered from my official “Is-It-Just-Me?!? Poll”, is that almost EVERYBODY has that one food they cannot say no to. These addictions range anywhere on the spectrum from “questionably healthy” like raisins and trail mix to flat out not good for you at any time and might not even be considered food like Sour Patch Kids and Flaming Hot Cheetos. Moral of the story? We all pick our poison. Everyone knows treating yourself isn’t bad in small doses. But what happens when we finally come to terms with the fact that small doses sometimes aren’t a possibility? It’s time to get real, get honest, and get this friggin’ crap out of our hands so we don’t sabotage our own progress.

Here’s how to kick those cravings and keep on target!!!

Step 1: GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE
You’ve tried “moderation” but it’s time to accept the fact that you just can’t control yourself. The only way to stop yourself from eating too much of something you really don’t want to be eating in the first place is by not having access to it. If it’s not in the fridge or pantry, you can’t be tempted by it. Out of sight, out of mind!!

Step 2: Turn your Emotional Eating Into Mindful Refueling
Most of the time we binge or indulge too much because we’re emotional. Boredom, nervousness, excitement, and stress are major triggers when it comes to forgetting about our nutrition plan and making undesirable choices. When you feel a craving coming on, take a moment to breathe and ask yourself if you’re compelled to eat because you’re hungry or because it’s just something to do. If it’s the latter, step away and occupy yourself with something intellectually engaging that will veer your focus elsewhere.

Step 3: Beware of Group Think!!
Just because your boyfriend, coworkers, friends, or neighbors are eating, doesn’t mean you have to. In a lot of cases, we eat because it’s socially awkward not to. For me, it’s almost impossible to beat my girlfriend’s house for movie night and not reach for the chips, pretzels, or popcorn- but I’ve got to stay strong! There’s a time and a place to indulge, but if you haven’t already accounted for some extra calories via your workout and meal plan, then say no thank you and pop in a piece of gum!

Step 4: Throw Away Unhealthy Mentalities
I’m not a stranger to that unhealthy way of thinking where I’ve already broken the seal on some fattening foods and think to myself I might as well keep eating since I already messed up. Wrong! We all make mistakes, and nobody can be expected to be perfect 100% of the time. The key is recognizing when we’ve had enough, and stopping before we head for a binge. Be kind to your body and allow for some give here and there. You’re only human!!

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Workout Wednesday

Heather Marsh’s Workout Wednesday: Cardio & Core Circuit

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Heather Marsh has one of the most beautiful and inspiring physiques in the fitness industry. She’s a mother, a WBFF Pro Competitor and she shares her secrets on cardio & core circuit.

Related Article: Jade Atkinson’s Workout Wednesday: Lower Body Workout

A strong core is a key to warding off back pain and keeping good posture. A good strong posture keeps you standing tall and confident! Try this cardio and core circuit if you’re short on time. You’ll be sure to get your heart rate up while building a strong core.

Heather Marsh’s Cardio & Core Circuit Workout

Interval 1:
Plank jacks 20
Supermans 20
Side planks 20 secs
Jump squats 20

Interval 2:
Jump squats 20
Mountain climbers 20 per leg
Dumbbell Russian twist 20 per side
Lateral squatted walks 20 per leg

Interval 3:
Lateral squatted walks 20 per leg
Plank toe taps 20 per leg
Scissor kicks 20 per leg
Frog hops 20

Repeat each interval 3-4 times

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Health & Fitness

7 Reasons Why Your Muscles Stop Growing. How To Get Muscle To Grow Again

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Photo by Ludwig Araujo Photography

Have ever wondered why your muscles stopped growing after a few months of training even though you are training very hard? Here are 7 reasons why your muscles stopped growing and how to get your muscle to grow again.

Also: Jade Atkinson’s Workout Wednesday: Lower Body Workout

– You are training too hard: Every time when rain your muscles intensely, you are actually breaking down your muscles. So your muscles need to recover from the damages you inflicted on them. So train each muscle group only once or at most twice a week.

– You are training too long: Keep your workout intense but do not workout more than an hour each time. After 45 minutes of intensive training, your cortisol level will increase. This hormone is known to destroy muscle cells.

– You are sleeping too little: You need to sleep more for good muscle growth. Your muscles grow when you sleep. So sleep more than 8 hours a day and watch those muscles growing fast.

– You are abusing alcohol: Alcohol is known to break down muscle mass plus many other body destruction ability.

– You do not change your workout routine: You must change your workout routine every 6-8 weeks. Your muscles adapt to your routine and stops growing.

– You do not progressively overload your muscles: You must try to increase your reps or weight every time you next train a particular muscle group. Otherwise, there is no reason for your muscles to grow.

– You do not eat sufficient protein: If you want to build bigger muscles, you must eat more protein. Protein is the building block for your muscles. It is recommended that you need 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight equivalent. If not enough protein is consumed with your normal diet, do supplement with protein shakes.

There you are, the 7 reasons why your muscles stopped growing even though you are training hard. There are many more methods on how to grow your muscles bigger but these 7 reasons and how to overcome them will be sufficient for an average bodybuilding beginner.

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