Monthly Archives: November 2014

Find Your Perfect Pull-up

By | Exercise | No Comments

The pull-up is one of those exercises that demands respect, even though most people don’t particularly like it. It’s a simple concept – grasp an overhead bar and pull yourself upwards until your chin clears the bar.

The pull-up is an excellent measure of upper body strength and many of you may remember performing the pull-up or bent arm hang as part of your fitness testing in junior high.

The pull-up works muscles of the arms, shoulders, back, and core. It’s a great exercise for increasing muscle tone in the arms and back while improving grip strength and shoulder mobility.

The problem is, many people lack the strength to do a proper set of pull-ups, but that’s okay. Finding some practical ways to assist the upper body will allow you to complete a set of pull-ups while taking advantage of all this exercise has to offer.

I’ll start with one of the simplest pull-up variations and then progress from there.

squat_pullup2The Squat Pull-up. In this version, you are gripping a bar set at chest height and using your legs to assist by squatting through the pull-up so your lower body is holding some of your weight. Take a slightly wider than shoulder width grip on the bar and step forward slightly with each foot but maintain an upright posture. Slowly bend your knees and squat down until your arms are fully extended. Push with your legs while you pull with your arms until your chin clears the bar. For a more challenging version, use only one leg to assist.

rubber_band_assisted_pullup2Rubber Band Assisted Pull-up. Hang a resistance loop band from the pull-up bar. Choose the correct band based on the amount of assistance you need. Take an overhand grip on the bar and slip your foot through the loop. Fully extend that leg and place your non-assisted foot on top of the other foot to hold everything together. Keep your body perpendicular to the floor and perform the pull-up as described.

traditional_pullup2Bodyweight Pull-up. If you possess the strength, the traditional pull-up is an ideal exercise to add to your routine. A common mistake many people make is not fully recruiting the muscles of the back. Be sure to fully extend your arms at the bottom and as you pull yourself up, drive your shoulders down and back. This uses more of your back rather than relying too much on your arms, which will fatigue quickly. If the basic pull-up is too easy, hold a dumbbell between your feet or wear a weighted vest.

So no matter what your fitness level, be sure to add pull-ups to your routine for a great way to tone and strengthen the upper body.

 

 

Healthy Snacking

By | Nutrition | No Comments

Woman_snacking_small

Want to take control of your weight once and for all? Eat more – more often that is.

Eating more often does not necessarily mean eating more calories, but spreading out those calories into more portioned meals and snacks.

Your food intake should be timed every few hours to fuel your body consistently throughout the day, rather than eating once you actually feel hungry. Now of course I’m talking about nutritious foods. Snacking on sugary foods that hold no nutritional value will do nothing more than starve your body of nutrients while enhancing fat storage.

Eating balanced snacks between meals will help control your blood sugar – something that your body is constantly trying to stabilize so you can perform efficiently.

If your blood sugar drops too low, you’ll feel a crash in energy levels, you may become moody, shaky, or irritable, and you’re more likely to reach for something sugary or unhealthy. Your ability to make sound food choices at this point becomes more difficult.

Spiking your blood sugar by eating too many carbohydrates in one sitting, especially after letting your blood sugar drop too low, may have you feeling drowsy or sleepy shortly after the meal. This is due to large fluctuations in blood sugar which are worsened by eating too much in one sitting or having allowed too much time since your last meal. This abuse to your insulin response over and over again can lead to chronic blood sugar issues and possibly type 2 diabetes. Over time this will lead to more fat storage and an increase in weight.

So now that you know the importance of consistent eating, what types of foods should you eat?

A balanced meal or snack not only consists of nutritious foods, but it also needs to include all 3 macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fat. A balance of these three nutrients ensures that the body is getting a balanced supply of calories. A snack with too many carbs and not enough protein and fat will spike your blood sugar temporarily, only to give you that crash as your blood sugar drops, resulting in low energy and a craving for more sugar. So even though a banana is healthy, just eat half and pair it with a protein/fat food, such as a hard-boiled egg, to balance out your snack.

Some other healthy snack options include:

-          Protein Smoothie – 1 scoop whey or egg protein powder, 1 cup frozen fruit, 1 Tbsp natural almond butter, 8 oz  water 

-          1 hard-boiled egg and ½ cup blueberries

-          Green salad with 4 oz chicken, 1/4 avocado, and sliced apple

-          6 oz Greek yogurt, ½ cup raspberries, and 1 oz crushed walnuts

-          1 packet plain oatmeal, 1 scoop protein powder, and 1 Tbsp peanut butter

-          Large leaf of lettuce, 4 oz shaved turkey, 1/4 avocado, mustard

-          ½ cup cottage cheese, 1 sliced peach, and 1 Tbsp flax meal

So support your health and energy levels by eating the right foods and eating them often.

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