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Health & Fitness

Sprint For Gains

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Everybody wants to build muscle; it looks good, it burns fat, it makes your body more durable. However, when it comes to building muscle, people have a tendency to neglect their lower body.

What are fast twitch muscles?
One thing anyone that wants to maximize their fitness should know is that people have two types of muscle fibers: Fast Twitch muscle fibers and slow twitch muscle fibers. Both are used for different types of activities.

Also: Heather Marsh’s Killer Plyometric Track Workout

When it comes to slow twitch muscles, they are primarily used for long endurance feats like marathons and long distance runs. On the other hand, fast twitch muscles are for those quick bursts of power like long jumps and sprinting.

Fast Twitch muscle fibers are also the largest and most powerful muscles in your body. So training them can do wonders for boosting your muscle mass and strength in your lower body.

Now that we know what fast twitch muscles are and how they work, let’s get into how you can target them to build muscle in your lower body.

Sprints
Sprinting is a great exercise to train your fast twitch muscle fibers because it’s explosive. Your legs are dense with fast twitch muscle fibers. They are the thing that allows your legs to contract quickly and make fast changes of direction and burst of speed.

And as I stated earlier, explosive exercises are how you target your fast twitch muscle fibers. So sprinting should definitely be a part of your workout regimen.

Here is an example of a sprinting routine that will do wonders for engaging your fast twitch muscle fibers and building your muscles in your lower body:

Sprint at top speed for 200 meters. Then walk for 200 meters. Alternate for 5 or 6 rounds. You will no doubt feel the burn from this routine! As your endurance increases over the following days and weeks, increase your reps in proportion.

Go heavy with squats
Your body will recruit more muscle fibers depending on how much power your lifts demand. If the power requirements aren’t maximized, you’ll use more slow twitch muscle fibers. So it’s clear when you’re squatting you want to maximize the amount you’re lifting. The more intensity, the more strenuous, the more you’ll use your fast twitch muscle fibers.

Fatigue is where the magic happens
Intensity isn’t the only thing you’re looking for when you’re aiming to target your fast twitch muscle fibers. You’re also looking for fatigue. This is because your body will first recruit your slow twitch muscle fibers in many cases, but once those are fatigued it will have no choice but to recruit those fast twitch muscle fibers. Fatigue is your friend.

Conclusion
When it comes to building muscles in the lower body training your fast twitch muscles is a definite way to achieve this. Besides just sprints and max weight squats other great exercises to train the fast twitch muscle fibers in your lower body are lateral jumps, jumping lunges, and broad jumps.

Just make sure you use quick, explosive bursts!

Health & Fitness

How To Create Your Own No-Guilt Travel Workout

I like looking at training problems from angles most people don’t think of

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I like looking at training problems from angles most people don’t think of – until they come up, of course. Take your typical travel workout, for example. The usual articles focus on killer bodyweight workouts in idyllic settings. But how often do you have a perfect gym while you travel? How often are you actually motivated to do any exercise? And how often do any of those travel workouts resemble what you do at home? Hardly ever, in my experience. I find that there are two main roadblocks to travel workouts: equipment and motivation. Let’s talk about jumping over these hurdles, and then I’ll tell you how to create your own perfect travel workout.

Mastering Motivation
Most travel workouts feed fears that if you don’t train while you’re away, you’ll lose all your. But I prefer to look at it from a more positive spin: If I work out while I travel, it will be much easier to bounce back when I get home. I found this out firsthand when I took two back-to-back trips over the holidays.

Training to Bounce Back
Normally, if I’m traveling for a week or less, I couldn’t care less about missing lifting sessions. I see it as a chance to let my body recover because I rarely miss a session at home. But two weeks is a long time to do nothing. Once you get into the 2-3 week range, it could take several weeks to bounce back. When you come back to lifting after a layoff, you have to back up a few steps. If you don’t lower the weight and decrease the volume upon returning, it’s very easy to find yourself with a pulled muscle or worse. This has happened to me on a number of occasions (see my tips for avoiding this below). I’ll add that sometimes you have to force yourself to train when you travel. You do it even though it feels like shit at first, and then it’s easier once you get started. Put on your clothes and shoes, pull out your resistance band or whatever meager equipment you have, and just do it. (Never was there a more apt marketing slogan.)

Equalizing Equipment
Recently, I stayed at a hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, that had a full gym and even a personal trainer. I was in pure nirvana.

But this isn’t going to happen every time you travel. In fact, it varies wildly from hotel to hotel.

The solution is to make equipment a secondary concern. Instead of focusing on what equipment you might have (it’s often unknown), focus on your goals. Do you want to maintain your strength or cardiovascular endurance? Make it easier to return to the gym when you get back? Stay regular? (A valid goal if there ever was one.) Once you know your exact goal, you’ve got everything you need.

Creating A Successful Travel Workout
Traveling isn’t the best time to start a whole new style of training. Improvise on what you normally do with quick workouts that deliver a nice burn. It also helps enormously to plan what you’ll do ahead of time. Write it down or put it in your phone before you leave (you’ll thank me). Just remember your goals.

Full Body Works Best
A full-body workout is perfect for traveling because you get a lot of bang for your buck. A 30-60 minute workout that trains your whole body might even feel more challenging to you than your usual training split. During the two weeks, I was Texas and Mexico, I did three full-body workouts. I was pleased with this and felt it helped me come back strong when I got home. (I didn’t train at all the first week and it didn’t affect my strength.)

I normally do upper/lower body workouts, so I enjoyed the noticeable challenge of full-body workouts. I ended up doing more volume than I’d do at home because I trained each muscle three times instead of twice.

How to Create Your Own Full-body Travel Workout
here are certain things that will give you more bang for your buck in a travel workout. You may not think of it once you get there, so plan ahead.

  • Supersets. Doing two exercises back-to-back lets you save time, burn more calories, and get stronger. To increase the calorie burn, rest as little as possible between exercises.
    Examples:
    • Hamstrings/glutes and quads (hamstring curl and reverse lunge)
    • Chest and back (chest press and bent-over row)
    • Anterior and posterior shoulders (overhead press and rear delt raise)
    • Chest and shoulders (push-ups and lateral raise)
    • Calves and abs (standing calf raise and plank)
    • Biceps and triceps (cross-body curl and overhead extension)

You can do any of these exercises with either a band or dumbbells. Or if you don’t have any equipment, do push-ups, pull-ups, planks, and bodyweight lunges, squats, and hip thrusts.

  • Low-risk exercises. You don’t want to strain your low back or pull a groin muscle on vacation. Risky exercises for your low back include deadlifts, good mornings, and even barbell squats. Bent-over rows can tweak your back too. If it feels iffy, don’t do it. If you feel strong and like your normal self, go for it. You might want to avoid upright rows, too, or any other shoulder exercise that might get wonky. Keep your form pristine and don’t rush.
  • Back-healthy exercises. Do face pulls, cobras, scapular retraction, and any other exercise to strengthen your upper back. Bunching up in planes and over pina coladas can tighten you up good.
  • Core activation exercises. Get more bang for your buck by doing exercises that engage your core big time. Unilateral, full-body, or standing exercises will do the trick. Think squat to presses, lunges, single-leg planks, or military presses.
  • Unilateral exercises. It’s always smart to do exercises one leg or arm at a time to improve your balance and stability. But unilateral exercises are especially useful if you don’t have access to heavier dumbbells. Do lunges, Bulgarian split squats, and single-arm presses and rows. 

Don’t forget to warm up thoroughly, either on a cardio machine or with dynamic warm-up exercises.

Two Ready-Made Workouts
Here are two workouts I created that can work while traveling:

I bet you hadn’t thought of some of these tips, had you? Now go enjoy yourself and come home feeling strong.

This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.

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LynxMode

Love is Fattening 

Savannah Lynx

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Photos by Ludwig Araujo Photography

It’s Tuesday night and I’ve run out of toilet paper. Walking the two and a half blocks to my neighborhood CVS, I step inside and chuckle smilelessly, eyeballing the egregiously festive decor glued to every visible surface. Visually wading through an explosion of vulgar red and pink balloons, I-love-you candies, cards, and toothy grins stapled to a dozen googly-eyed teddybears, I deduce that Valentine’s Day is near. To be honest, I’ve always loved the way CVS really goes for that holiday spirit, celebrating whatever cause for celebration is around the corner. Be it Christmas, Fourth of July, National Pizza Month, or Arbor Day, I can always rest assured that my go-to convenience store will have whatever needless thing I need to purchase. And so, as I swim through boxes of disgusting SweeTarts and funny faced stuffed animals, I begin to think of what a funny thing it is to be in love.

Now take it from me, I love love.  I can fall faster, get higher, and heartbreak harder than anyone I’ve ever met.  If there were a Love Olympics, there’s no question I’d win every event…and I mean every (wink wink). But I digress… the funny thing about being in love, is that it changes who you are. Being in love actually induces a shift in your brain chemistry, and sometimes, that’s not a good thing.  While you’re enjoying an afternoon delight or midnight snuggle sesh, your brain is flooding you with dopamine, serotonin, and all those warm fuzzy feelings that everyone’s a sucker for. So what’s the problem?  In my personal experience, the problem with love is that it plays a huge role in determining my diet and exercise regiment, and consequently, my body weight. Let’s review what I call the Six Phases of Love.

First, there’s Phase 1. You’re newly in love, on a constant adventure, and your gut is filled with butterflies and nervous energy.  This is the stage where you don’t even think about food since your stomach is full of that chaotic frenzy that runs on empty.

Next, there’s the Settle Down Phase. This is the moment when the initial euphoria starts wearing off and you’re able to revert back to normal eating habits and workouts.  Things seem stable for a moment, but soon enough, you’ve entered stage three.

pillow talk 💭💭 @fitnessgurls @ludwigaraujo

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Also known as the Sitting On the Couch Watching TV Phase, this is perhaps the most dangerous phase of them all.  This my friends are where we gain what’s referred to as Happy Weight. Slightly reminiscent of the Freshman Fifteen, Happy Weight is the extra ten or so pounds you pack on in the haze of love’s nonjudgmental embrace.  You’ve established your love for one another, so the extra weight doesn’t bother either of you. However, after some time, you realize that you’ve totally replaced all your good health habits with Chex Mix and microwave pizza thingies. It’s at this phase where you decide to get back into shape or not. If you decide to keep the extra weight, there might still be hope for you if you decide to break up. In the last three optional stages of the breakup, we experience the What Do I Do Now Phase, Post Breakup Regulation Phase, and finally, the Revenge Body Phase.

People experience the What Do I Do Now Phase in two opposing ways. After a breakup, some are simply too depressed to eat, and unhealthily lose all their Happy Weight in a tidal wave of despair. Others prefer to drown out their emotions with boxes of sad, half-eaten chocolates, ice cream, or any kind of carb that can be delivered straight to the door.

Once the initial blow of love lost has subsided, the Post Breakup Regulation Phase kicks in, thus inspiring the “I’ll show him” mentality. This is where we get back to homeostasis and return to our diet and exercise routine PB (pre-boyfriend).

Finally, this brings us to the Revenge Body Phase. Because we all secretly crave the self-satisfaction of running into an ex-looking impossibly stunning, we prepare for this chance encounter by hitting the gym extra hard and eating super clean.

In summation, love takes a toll not just on our hearts, but our bodies, too. Now that we’ve covered our bases, let’s attack the root of this all. which is none other than OUTSIDE INFLUENCE.

If you’re dating someone in the fitness industry, you know it’s easier to stay on track with your diet and exercise goals with him than with someone who’s a couch potato, but even then, things change when there’s a new person in your life.  Personally speaking, in the last year of my relationship I gained 10 pounds of happy weight, then lost 15 because I looked down and said in the wise words of Regina George, “sweatpants is all that fits me right now.” At first, it was hard to stick to my diet goals when he would eat everything I couldn’t, and who wants to be annoying and awkward saying “I can’t have that I’m on a diet.” Ew. Not to mention, my boyfriend loves me regardless of my weight, and I felt a bit silly trying to slim down when he couldn’t care less. But a true support system will support your decisions to be a better you 100% of the time, and so he encouraged me to go to the gym on days I didn’t feel like it. I’m happier than ever with him, but I’ve been able to lose the weight I put on in the beginning because I stuck to my goals and he helped me reach them.

It’s hard enough as it is to navigate your way to a fitter you, but it’s double the struggle when you’ve met someone you want to spend all your time with. In love or simply out with friends, peer pressure eating and habits are tough to get over. My solution? Be aware of the phases of love and always be mindful of where you are in your personal journey. Nevertheless, it’s totally OK to gain some happy weight!!! Don’t stress yourself with life’s fluctuations. If you’re lucky enough to be in love, enjoy it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Workout Wednesday

Jade Atkinson’s Full Body & Core Workout

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How would you like to look and feel your best? Get in fabulous shape with one of the most beautiful and inspiring fitness leaders, Jade Atkinson. Her workout, emphasizing the upper body, legs, and midsection, is sure to leave you invigorated and on your way to a fittest and appealing look. If you’ve been searching for a high-intensity, fat-burning, muscle-toning workout, look no further. Jade has it right here for you. Leading you through a no-nonsense yet eminently doable set of exercises, you will notice and feel the difference right away.

Get Jade’s Last Article: Jade Atkinson’s Upper Body Conditioning & Abs Workout

Jade Atkinson's Full Body

1Circuit 1

3-4 Rounds, 60-75 second break
KB swings x20
Miller plank x pushup x20
Squat to press x15
Sled sprint x2 laps or 20 steps
Ball slams x15

2Circuit 2

3-4 Rounds, 60-75 second break
Push up x20
Low plank jumping jack x20
Db curl to Press x10
DB military Press x10
One arm kb swing x15/arm

3Core

4 Rounds, 30-45 second break
Elbow to Toe Crunch x15/side
Weighted jackknife x15
Decline bench leg raises x15
Cork Screw x20

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