Crunches Alone Do Not Make a Six Pack

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Somewhere far, far away, there is a magical gym where there’s never a wait for a cardio machine at 6:30pm, the boot camp instructor never raises his voice above a whisper, and jiggling upper arms instantly tighten up after just one biceps curl. This mythical place is called Imaginary Fitness Land, and it, like spot-training to burn fat, does not exist.

Welcome to the real world, where workout results take time, energy, and variety, and where our body’s ability to eliminate fat, and which specific areas it will eliminate fat from, are influenced by age, genetics, hormones, and some other factors beyond our control.

Luckily, we can control the fat-melting effectiveness of a cardio workout, so keep this real-world advice from Life Fitness in mind to maximize your results.

Two’s company. Combine fat-reducing cardio exercise with a consistent strength training program to tone and sculpt your muscles. Although spot-training won’t work for burning fat, spot-sculpting will tighten and tone the areas where you want to show off your results. Focus on a specific group of muscles during your strength training routines.

Add instability. Use the BOSU ball, balance disk, or wobble board to throw off your balance and force your core muscles to work overtime. With a strong core, you’ll be able to take on more challenging workouts, and achieve success faster.

Pilates, please. Heralded as the secret behind tons of toned tummies, a Pilates mat workout provides an effective ab routine when you want to add some necessary variety to your exercise program. Pilates utilizes very focused and specific movements, so find an instructor to get you started.

Intensify. Interval training is a great way to incorporate high-intensity exercise into your workouts. Start with 30 seconds of jogging followed by 2-3 minute of walking, then repeat for 30 minutes. Once you can complete the program with ease, lengthen the jogging intervals. Your increased intensity and elevated heart rate will result in more calories burned and a smaller waist line.

The trick to getting the fit, sculpted body you want is to be realistic. If you have overall body fat to lose, you aren’t going to see washboard abs without eliminating that excess insulation first.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit www.lifefitness.com or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lifefitness or join our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/lifefitness.

Pre-Powder Power: Ski Season Training

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We all know that après ski activities consist of sipping hot chocolate next to a roaring fire in a Navajo-print jacket, but what about avant (before) ski activities?

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are physically demanding sports and as Coloradoans we all know the best conditions occur at high elevations (less oxygen) and in cold temperatures. It’s also a fun and great way to get your heart rate up during those winter months.

But whether you are a Blue Circle bunny or a Double Black Diamond expert you may want to do some ‘pre-season training’ to prepare before you hit the slopes, focusing on these tips from the experts at Life Fitness:

Stamina
Optimize your cardiovascular strength so you can schuss all day. Higher elevations and cold weather put extra strain on your lungs, so do some interval training on a treadmill or elliptical machine to challenge your heart rate and improve your oxygen intake capacity. Begin with at least 3 days a week for a half hour and increase the time, frequency and intensity over time so you are in prime condition to conquer the mountain.

Core
Core strength is key for skiing. A tight, stable core allows you to control your movements with more precision. Simple exercises such as bicycles on the floor, back extensions and full body roll ups or crunches on an exercise ball will benefit your core and therefore your skiing abilities.

Balance
All Carvaholics know where to find their CM (that’s ski slang for Center of Mass). Improve reaction time and agility by taking advantage of the balance-training aids available at the health club or for the home, such as a Bosu ball. Begin by balancing on one foot and progress up to balancing on the Bosu ball itself. Take it a step further and try squats and plyometric drills on the Bosu ball.

Flexibility
Yoga not only keeps you limber but improves your mental focus and breathing techniques. Yoga can help protect against injury by addressing muscle imbalances and improving flexibility, so try out a beginner-level class and work your way up. The positive influences that yoga can have on your skiing (and other athletic activities) may surprise you.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit www.lifefitness.com or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lifefitness or join our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/lifefitness.

Train Like an Olympian!

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With the Olympics upon us, it is inspiring to watch the many amazing examples of athletic prowess and commitment that the Olympic Athletes demonstrate during the Olympic Games. We don’t all have the natural physiological ability, the time or even the desire to devote ourselves to one sport.

But if you want to take your workouts up a notch, follow these tips from Life Fitness to train like a pro.

Be committed. Make exercise a part of your everyday life, instead of just temporary activity. Athletes are always thinking about how to improve their performance and stay committed to reaching new goals. Start by being committed enough to work out even on those days when you don’t feel like it.

Do drills. You can improve your fitness with conditioning drills that pro’s use:

  • Take it to the court and try 20 minutes of hoop shots, inspired by basketball
  • Find the punching bag in your gym and do three sets of 30 jabs, inspired by boxing
  • Head outdoors and try three sets of 30 quick high knees, inspired by high hurdles
  • Try out three sets of 15 diagonal lunge hops, inspired by speed skating

Do intervals. Intervals are one of the quickest ways to lose fat and annihilate your competition. In their simplest form, intervals are short bursts of high-intensity exercise separated by periods of lower intensity effort. Intervals can be done out of doors, on an indoor cycling bike, elliptical or recumbent bike.

Intervals activate the metabolic systems in the body and improve athletic performance while sizzling off body fat.

Regularly update your goals. Set a specific goal and put all of your focus on that one goal until you achieve it; then set a new goal and work toward it. Athletes often push themselves to continually up their game by meeting and setting new goals.

Watch any top athlete compete and you will be inspired by their superb coordination, quick reflexes and sculpted body. Bring out your inner athlete and ramp up your workouts. Let the Games begin!

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit www.lifefitness.com or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lifefitness or join our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/lifefitness.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

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Looking for a way to add variety to your exercise plan while taking your fitness to the next level? High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a cardiorespiratory training technique that alternates brief speed and recovery intervals to increase the overall intensity of your workout. HIIT is used by athletes and everyday exercise enthusiasts to reach performance goals and enhance fitness and well-being.

How does it work?

Most endurance workouts, such as walking, running, or stair-climbing – are performed at a moderate intensity, or an exertion level of 5-6 on a scale of 0-10. High-intensity intervals are done at an exertion level of 7 or higher, and are typically sustained for 30 seconds to 3 minutes, although they can be as short as 8-10 seconds or as long as 5 minutes; the higher the intensity, the shorter the speed interval. Recovery intervals are equal to or longer than the speed intervals.

High-intensity interval training is done at a submaximal level; around 80-95% of maximal aerobic capacity. Sprint interval training (SIT) is a type of high-intensity interval training that pushes beyond this level to 100% or more of maximal aerobic capacity, or an exertion level of 10.

What are the benefits of HIIT?

The payoffs of pushing yourself with HIIT are plentiful, and include:

  • Significantly increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • Decreased fasting insulin and increased insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced abdominal and subcutaneous (just under the skin) fat

The surprising thing about HIIT is that it involves such a small total amount of exercise. By including HIIT in your exercise plan, you can realize remarkable results in a short amount of time, which is good news for busy people.

Is HIIT safe?

High-intensity exercise of any type brings with it a higher risk of musculoskeletal injury and cardiac events. But along with healthy subjects, HIIT has been studied as a training method for people with heart disease and congestive heart failure. Under clinical supervision, subjects were able to tolerate high-intensity intervals without negative effects. Most importantly, they experienced bigger improvements in cardiovascular function compared to those undergoing continuous moderate-intensity training.

The bottom line? HIIT may or may not be safe for you. Check with your health care provider before adding it to your exercise plan.

How can I get started with HIIT?

Choose an aerobic exercise – like stationary bicycling. Warm up for 5 minutes, and perform just a few alternating speed and recovery intervals; 3-4 of each should be plenty and will give you a feel for it; finish with an easy cool down.

Here’s an example:

 Time Interval Exertion Level (0-10)
5 min. Warm-up 3-4

1 min.

Speed 7-9
2 min. Recovery 5-6
1 min. Speed 7-9
2 min Recovery 5-6

1 min.

Speed 7-9
2 min Recovery 5-6
1 min. Speed 7-9
5 min Cool-down 3-4
22 min. Total Time
(4 min. total speed)

HIIT protocols vary widely. There’s no one best single way to structure them. Experiment with shorter and longer speed and recovery intervals to find what works best for you.

Gradually work up to 8-10 or more speed intervals, depending on your fitness goals. Keep in mind that the most common mistake made with interval training is making the recovery intervals too short.

Perform HIIT workouts 1-2 times a week at most to reduce your risk of injury. This high-intensity training method is best used periodically for up to 6 weeks or so to enhance regular training rather than as a year-round fitness strategy.

For best results, work with a certified fitness professional to create a personalized HIIT training plan. HIIT requires a big, sweaty effort, but if you stick with it, chances are you’ll be rewarded with impressive results.

Additional Resources
For All-Day Metabolism Boost, Try Interval Training – American College of Sports Medicine
Interval Training Advantages – IDEA Health and Fitness Association
A Healthy Mix of Rest and Motion – The New York Times

This ACE Fit Fact is taken from ACE FitnessMatters® magazine. Want more information like this delivered directly to your home? ACE FitnessMatters, the bi-monthly magazine from the American Council on Exercise® (ACE®), is the source for the most accurate, up-to-date fitness information you need to live a healthy, active life. Subscribe to ACE FitnessMatters Magazine online or call 1-888-825-3636.

The American Council on Exercise does not endorse or promote the companies, products or services that reside on this website. ACE does not receive revenue generated from any organizations that advertise on this Web site. Copyright 2003 American Council on Exercise. All Rights Reserved.

Too Busy To Exercise? Try a Sprint 8 Workout!

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Everyone knows how busy this time of year is. There are decorations to put up, gifts to purchase, parties and events to attend, along with the regular daily schedule of work and family responsibilities. For me, when life gets rushed and I can’t fit it all in, the first thing to go always seems to be my workout routine! The crazy thing is that this is the time when we really need the exercise routine, both to keep our life in balance, and to burn those extra calories that we may be taking in over the Holidays.

This is the time of year when remembering the Sprint 8 Workout really makes sense! If you have 20 minutes, 3 times per week, you can get a great workout in a short period of time, and experience some great benefits.

The Sprint 8 Workout, developed by exercise physiologist Phil Campbell, consists of a 3 minute warm-up followed by 8 segments of anaerobic exercise lasting 30 seconds followed by 90 seconds of active recovery, and then a cool down after the 8 segments. That 20 minutes is a short, but definitely not an easy workout! The 30 second sprints need to be so hard that you get really winded and want to stop after 10 or 15 seconds, but hang on for 30 seconds before ending the sprint.

Of course anyone beginning this type of high-intensity workout needs to do so with approval from a physician, and with a slow, progressive buildup period. Individuals beginning this workout may start out by doing only 2 or 3 sprint segments and gradually working up to the 8 segment, 20 minute workout.

At HealthStyles Exercise Equipment, we feature Vision treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals that have a pre-set Sprint 8 program built in to their programming, but Sprint 8 workouts can be also done on any other piece of cardiovascular equipment.

For more information on the benefits of the Sprint 8 Workout and the research behind it, take a look at the attached video featuring Phil Campbell.

So don’t give up your workout during this busy season, just abbreviate it to fit your life right now. A Sprint 8 workout is a great way to do this, and once you get back to a more normal workout schedule, you will want to incorporate the Sprint 8 workout as part of your overall routine as a way to add intensity and interval training to your cardio workout!

Jeanne Sheriff, owner

Healthstyles Exercise Equipment

Quick and Simple Treadmill Interval Workout

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Formal intervals are great, but this simple interval workout is easy to implement anywhere – at the track, on the trail, or on the treadmill. Incorporate this workout once a week into your running routine and you’ll see improved muscular endurance, improved VO2, improved speed, and overall better running efficiency.

Click here to shop for Landice treadmills.

What’s the Best Piece of Cardio Equipment to Use?

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by Jessica Mathews, American Council on Exercise Let’s be honest, in a fast paced-world we all want the most “bang for our buck.” And when it comes to cardio workouts this same mentality applies as we search for the most time-efficient way to burn the most calories. So what piece of cardio equipment will elicit the best results? The answer is there isn’t one in particular. Essentially it is the intensity that you work at and the duration of your session that will be the primary factors in dictating the overall effectiveness of your cardio session. Interval training To maximize your cardio sessions, consider interval training. Interval training is defined as short, high-intensity exercise periods alternated with periods of rest. So instead of hopping on a piece of cardio equipment for 30 minutes and performing your workout at the same speed for the entire session, try mixing it up one day with periods of sustained higher intensity exercise followed by a return to lower aerobic intensities used as a recovery period. There are a variety of approaches to interval training, for example you may opt to utilize, including a 1:1 exercise to recovery ratio (e.g. run for 2 minutes then walk for minutes) or a 1:2 ratio (e.g., cycling for 2 minutes at a higher intensity followed by a 4 minute recovery period of cycling at a lower intensity). Interval training can be used by novice exercises and elite athletes alike by simply adjusting the intensity and/or the rest-to-recovery ratio accordingly to meet the needs and current ability level of the exerciser. Research continues to emerge regarding the benefits of interval training, and more recently the researched benefits of high-intensity interval training. Equipment When it comes to equipment, the best suggestion is to choose a mode of activity that you enjoy, as you’ll be more inclined to stick with your regular workouts long-term. To combat boredom and also to reap the benefits that cross-training provides, try completing your cardio workouts on several different pieces of equipment, either within one workout session or from one session to the next. Below are some popular cardio equipment options you may consider incorporating into your cardio program: Continue reading

Maximize Your Treadmill Workout

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If your treadmill workout involves exercising at a certain speed, set duration of time or one of the preset programs you’re likely not making the most of your time on the treadmill. ACE’s Jessica Matthews explains an easy to implement alternative with proven results that burns more calories and fat.

Contact your local HealthStyles Exercise Equipment fitness consultant for the best treadmill or folding treadmill recommendation to meet your personal goals, abilities, and budget.

Tips from the Trainer: Interval Training

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There is a lot of buzz these days about interval training. Interval training is a type of workout that involves bursts of high intensity work alternated with periods of rest or low activity work. The buzz is that this is the most efficient way to workout for the time crunched – aren’t we all? Also it has also been shown that high bursts of anaerobic activity stimulate the body’s production of growth hormone – this is the stuff that keeps you young. Don’t worry you will not be growing. :-) In fact this is a great way to lose unwanted fat. I like to combine high intensity cardio blasts with strength training for a full body workout. You can do in as little as a half hour. Continue reading

The Secret to Losing Fat? Crank Up the Intensity.

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Exciting new discoveries by biomedical researchers in the areas of health and anti-aging have begun to usher in a new paradigm in fitness training. Research shows that high-intensity, anaerobic workouts that include the short-burst, get-you-out-of-breath, sprinting types of exercise, will make your body release significant amounts of the most powerful “fitness hormone” in your body – growth hormone, or HGH. Continue reading