Posts Tagged ‘strength’

I have started teaching a class called Tabata HIIT and totally love it!

If you have never done Tabata you’re in for a real treat. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. It is a style of circuit training that is done in the following way: 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. There are generally 5 exercises in the sequence and they get repeated 4 times through. When I teach my class I select 10 exercises done in 2 groups of 5. The entire routine takes exactly 30 minutes. If you’re looking to get your sweat on then give one of these workouts a try…

A) Equipment free:
* push-ups
* jacks
* step-ups on a bench
* frog jumps
* inch worms

repeat the sequence 4 times and then take a 2 minute rest

* burpees
* travelling lunges
* plank holds
* tricep dips on bench
* mtn. climbers on bench or ground

repeat the sequence 4 times through and your workout is complete!

B) Medicine ball workout:
* medicine ball travelling lunges with twist (twisting right when your right foot leads the lunge and vice versa)
* push-up with knee touch (during the up phase of each push-up touch your opposite hand to opposite knee)
* bear crawls
* foot ball runs on the spot
* medicine ball Russian twist

repeat the sequence 4 times and then take a 2 minute rest

* medicine ball squats with chest press
* bird dog
* medicine ball crunches (lying on your back, feet up, ball goes from chest to toes- resting head to ground on each repetition)
* wind sprints
* medicine ball single leg hip bridge (medicine ball remains pressed above the chest while performing a single leg hip bridge alternating legs)

repeat the sequence 4 times through and your workout is complete!

The beauty of Tabata is that it can be done with any sequence of exercises and any type of fitness equipment.

What are your favourite circuit training exercises?


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Right to the CORE

A common question from my clients is how they can best build strength in their core.  For some people, it’s about achieving ab definition while for other people it’s simply about building strong core muscles and preventing injury.

Whatever your goal is, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1- “Six-pack abs” does not necessarily mean strong core muscles.  Don’t let someone’s physique fool you into thinking that in order to be strong and fit you need to be ripped.  The layer of muscle that lies deep within the torso plays a key role in injury prevention.  These are muscles that cannot be seen, no matter how many abdominal crunches you do, but are extremely important in maintaining our postural alignment and preventing back injuries.

2- Working your abdominal muscles through a variety of different exercises 3-4 times per week is sufficient to build strength.  There is no need to do crunches every single day.  Like any other muscle you train, the muscle fibers of your abdomen require adequate repair time as well.  Of course, it will always depend on the intensity of the workout and the area you choose to train.  For example, if you train your obliques (muscles running down the sides of your abdomen) on Monday, Wednesday & Friday and on Tuesday & Thursday you train your rectus abdominus (the muscles running down the center of your abdomen) this would allow for sufficient rest time of the muscle group in question.

3- Genetics are only responsible for 30-40% of our overall make-up meaning that 60-70% of how we look is determined by diet and exercise.  Eating a well balanced diet, getting proper exercise each week that includes cardiovascular and strength building exercises is the best way to achieving strong core muscles and preventing injury.  Many people, especially women, accumulate excess fat in the belly region that can be challenging to lose.  Work hard and don’t give up… sometimes the benefits are “more than meets the eye”!

I have included three demonstration videos to help you on your way to achieving a strong core.

The Plank – This is best done by holding the pose for 10 – 20 seconds to start and building up gradually to include the side twist as your strength increases.  Note the body positioning throughout the move.

Oblique crunches – Knees are placed on the exercise ball at a 90 degree angle and the opposite elbow crosses the body towards the opposite knee.  Be sure to hold for 1-2 seconds as you move through each phase of this exercise.

Leg raises – Lying on your back, legs at a 90 degree angle, slowly lower your legs stopping an inch from the floor, hold, and then raise your legs to the starting position.  This is a more advanced exercise therefore perform with caution if you’re a beginner.

I hope these demonstrations are helpful.  There are literally hundreds of exercises that strengthen the core and work those abdominal muscles… what are some of your favourites?

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Many female clients I have worked with are fearful that by weight lifting they will get huge muscles.  Women unlike men, don’t produce enough of the hormone testosterone which is primarily responsible for muscle size and physical strength.  Weight-bearing activities are very important for both men and women in the prevention of osteoporosis, lower-back pain, joint and muscle injuries during physical activity, and age-related decreases in muscular strength.  Not only can a proper weight training routine provide you with preventative health benefits, it’s also key to improved physical appearance, self-esteem and increased resting metabolism.  Basically, the more muscle a person has the more efficient their body metabolizes energy and in turn they burn more calories while at rest than a person with less muscle mass.

There are two types of weight training: training for strength or training for endurance.  Strength training is achieved by lifting heavier amounts of weight with less repetitions.  In order to gain strength a person should aim to lift a given weight no more than 10-12 times before they reach exhaustion.  An example would be a person who can perform 10 bicep curls (10 repetitions) with a 20lb weight; by the time they reach the 9th or 10th curl they can barely lift the weight.  This form of training is the best way to increase muscular strength, resting metabolism and build larger muscle mass.

Muscular endurance on the other hand is the exact opposite- lifting less weight more times.  An example would be when a person performs a bicep curl using a 10lb weight and curls it 12-15 times.  The weight is much lighter and therefore the person is able to produce the contraction at the bicep a greater number of times.  This type of training is used to help a person achieve greater muscle tone, resting metabolism and maintain their current level of strength.

Both types of weight training can be used by either men or women.  By determining what your goals are you will be able to decide which form of weight training is best for you.  If you are new to weight training be sure to consult a “Certified Personal Trainer” to help familiarize you with the machines and exercises, establish an individual program, and help you make the best use of your time.

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