You don’t have to lay on a mat to strengthen and tone abdominal muscles. There are moves you can do anytime and anywhere to get an effective ab workout.
Practicing good posture requires that you pull in your abdominal muscles to support your core. When carrying yourself this way, focus stays on the abs. Tightening the abs creates small contractions that helps to build strength.
Lifting your knees high towards your chest while marching or jogging in place forces you to contract the abdominal muscles. This is a cardio and core strengthening move that you can incorporate into your current workout or squeeze in during television commercials.
Standing Cross-over Crunches
Cross-over crunches can be done while standing to challenge the obliques (the muscles that line the side of your waistline). Contract the abdominals as you lift your right knee towards your chest, and bring your left elbow down to meet it. Complete all repetitions on one side before switching. Add a slight hop with each crunch to boost the intensity.
Add this yoga move to your cool down. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your left foot stationary, and turn your right foot 90 degrees outwards. Raise both arms out to your sides so they are parallel to the floor. Turn your head towards your right hand. Bend your right knee and shift your weight forward while keeping the left leg straight. Your right knee should be aligned with the center of your right foot. Step the feet further apart if necessary. Keep your abdominals contracted to support your core and hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
If your calorie intake and exercise have stayed consistent but you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, try increasing your exercise intensity. When repeating the same workouts day after day, your body can grow accustomed to the activity. Often a boost of intensity will help you break through a plateau to reach your weight loss goal. Add a more intense workout to your routine one to two times per week. If you walk, incorporate intervals of faster walking or jogging, or add hills to your course. If you jog, try adding a few sprints. Strength training circuits can be boosted by adding cardio moves like jumping jacks or jogging-in-place between sets.
Your heart isn’t beating faster.
An increase in heart rate and breathing is a sign that you are working at a level that improves cardiovascular fitness. Exercising at a moderate intensity is the key to improving heart health and burning calories. If you can easily carry on a conversation and barely break a sweat during your workouts, it might be time to step up the intensity.
Your muscles aren’t fatigued.
Increasing muscular strength requires following the overload principle. Your muscles must be challenged (overloaded) by the weight to gain strength. Once muscles get comfortable with the amount of weight you are lifting, fitness gains level out. The last 8 to 12 repetitions of each set should be challenging to complete. If you fly through your sets without exerting an effort, it’s time to increase the amount of weight you lift.
You want to exercise less.
You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym to lose weight, but if you want to cut your exercise time to 20 minutes, you need to increase the intensity. Research shows that shorter, more intense workouts (often called high-intensity interval training) are effective for improved fitness and weight loss. This type of exercise is a good fit for those with limited time to commit to workouts or those prone to exercise boredom and burnout.
A vacation spot that supports an active lifestyle keeps you motivated during travel. Fitness-focused cities offer bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly paths and crosswalks, and places with beautiful scenery provide an enjoyable environment that encourages you to get moving. In these locales, sitting in a lounge chair might be less inviting.
Choose your hotel wisely.
It’s tempting to choose out-of-the-way hotels to get a better price. Unfortunately, these hotels often force you to jump in the car to sight-see. Instead, choose lodging that is accessible to local attractions. Park the car and walk to restaurants, museums, and other sites.
Do your restaurant research.
If you don’t eat healthy meals during your vacation, you won’t feel like being active. Eating heavy, high-fat fried foods and overloading on carbohydrates and alcohol can make you lethargic and unmotivated. Find the best healthy restaurants, and make sure they are accessible from your hotel. Enjoy some treats, but stick with your usual healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein to stay energized and active.
Plan an activity each day.
You don’t have to work out on vacation to stay fit. Incorporating activity into your travel to-do list is a healthy way to spend time away from the gym. Take a walking tour of local sights, hike to the end of a trail for great views, sign up for a bike tour, or learn a new watersport. If you turn your exercise into fun, you’ll stay active on vacation without sacrificing time with friends and family.
The gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, or glutes, are the muscles of the buttocks. Strengthening these muscles gives you more than a toned backside. Glutes surround the pelvis and keep it aligned with your legs and torso during movement. Weak gluteal muscles have been linked to a variety of injuries such as shin splints and Achilles tendinitis. Additionally, many activities, like running, strengthen the leg muscles but have little effect on glute strength, and can cause a muscular imbalance .
Research shows that the squat is the most effective exercise for targeting the glutes, but you can add variety to your workouts with a few other exercises that are nearly as effective. Incorporate 1 to 3 sets of these exercises to target your glute muscles and reduce risk for injuries.
Select a step or box that is 12 to 15 inches high. Push it up against the wall to help keep it steady. Stand on the box and shift your weight to your right foot. Slightly bend your left knee to lift your left foot off the box. Slow squat down by bending your right knee and raise back up to the starting position. Single-leg squats are more challenging than traditional squats so you may only be able to lower 3 to 6 inches. As your strength increases, try to bend the knee more and sit back further to lower into a deeper squat. Repeat all repetitions before switching to your left foot.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand facing your box. Step onto the box with your right foot. Allow your left leg to stay straight and relaxed, but do not allow it to rest on the box. Lower back down to the floor leading with your left foot. Repeat all repetitions on one side before switching legs.
Stand holding weights in both hands with your palms facing your thighs. Keep your back straight as you bend at the hips and lower the weights towards the floor. Allow your left knee to bend slightly as you extend your right leg behind you. Lower the weights to about shin height and use your glutes to lift your right leg until it is parallel to the floor. Your body should be in a straight line from your shoulder to your heel. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat all repetitions on one leg before switching to the other side.
Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step with your right foot forward. Bend your right knee and lower your thigh parallel to the floor as you also bend your left knee. Keep your front knee in line with the center of your foot. Stand back up and step your left foot to meet your right. Next, step forward with your left foot. Do 4 to 6 alternating walking lunges in one direction. Turn around and perform the walking lunges back in the other direction.
Whether you run a 5K or a half marathon, it’s important that you recover both physically and mentally from your hard work.
Refuelling and Rehydration
During a race, your body can deplete the glycogen (carbohydrates) stored in your muscles. The first hour after a race is a critical time for refueling, because muscles are in a more efficient state to replenish glycogen stores.
Consuming foods and drinks that supply healthy carbohydrates is important, but don’t lose sight of calories. Running a 5K is a big accomplishment, but a 150 pound female burns 359 calories running at a 10 minute per mile pace for 30 minutes. If you grab a chocolate milk, a nutrition bar and a bag of pretzels after your race, you can easily exceed the amount of calories you just burned. For shorter races, try a piece of fruit or a small smoothie, and follow up with a healthy and balanced meal for lunch.
Rehydration should also be a part of your recovery plan. The amount of fluid you need will vary depending on the length of your race and how hydrated you stay throughout your activity. Plan to drink at least 8 ounces of water at the end of your race. Once you assess your weight, continue to drink 20 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound you lost during the race.
Most experts agree that you should take at least 1 to 3 days off from exercise after a race. Once you are ready to start exercising again, move into a phase of active recovery. Return to short running distances and incorporate low-intensity activities. Age, fitness level and race experience all play a role in your recovery time. Some experts recommend 1 day of rest for every mile ran in the race. This doesn’t have to mean complete rest. For example, if you run a half marathon, you don’t have to stop exercising for 13 days. It just may be wise to avoid jumping back into an intensive training program until your body has had sufficient time to recover.
Many people anticipate the physical recovery necessary after a race, but fewer are prepared for the mental recovery. Training takes focus and commitment. After you have spent several weeks preparing, it’s common to feel let down and unmotivated once your runner’s high has worn off. As you take time to rest, begin to refocus your goals. Choose your next race and plan your training program, or pick a new activity to try. Setting new goals immediately following a race will keep you on the path to maintaining an active lifestyle.