Short Workouts Have Their Advantages Too

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How much time must you commit to exercise for it to be effective? This is obviously dependent on your goals, but a recent study found health benefit in as little as 5 minutes a day. Now, I’m not suggesting you cut all your workouts down to 5 minutes, but if you constantly talk yourself out of exercise because you’re short on time, it seems anything is better than nothing.

Our workouts at Push Fitness are 45 minutes, but much of the exercise homework we prescribe to our clients is typically 30 minutes or less. The following is a sample workout we’ve prescribed that should only take you 15-20 minutes and uses minimal equipment for increased proficiency.

Warm-up. Begin your workout with a 5 minute warm-up protocol. This could be anything from walking to jumping rope. Steadily increase your heart rate for the first 3 minutes and then stabilize or bring it back down slightly for the final 2.

The following 4 exercises should be completed circuit style – perform all 4 in a row and then repeat for 3 total rounds. For the first round you’ll perform each exercise for 20 seconds, the second round for 30 seconds, and the third round for 40 seconds. Rest when needed but push yourself to keep moving.

Squat to Dumbbell Press. Hold of a set of dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing together. With feet shoulder width apart, squat down to a comfortable depth while making sure your heels stay planted on the floor. Stand up, exhale, and press the dumbbells overhead. As your arms near extension, pull your shoulder blades back and together to stabilize at the top. Bring the dumbbells back down to shoulder height and drop back into your squat position. Repeat for the appropriate time.

Squat_to_press

Plank Hold. Assume a plank positon with elbows bent 90 degrees and positioned directly under your shoulders. You are looking to maintain a straight line from your ears, through your shoulders and hips to your ankles. Maintain a slight natural curve in the low back and keep your knees unlocked. Tense your abdominals inward towards your spine and continue to breathe as you hold the position for the desired time. If this basic plank is too easy, raise one leg or extend one arm out in front of you.

Lunge with Arms Overhead. Grab a set of dumbbells and press them overhead and lock out your arms. Step back into a staggered stance but keep about 60% of your weight on the front leg. Bend both knees equally as you inhale and let your hips drop straight down, pausing when you have a 90 degree bend at each knee. Tighten your legs and hips as you exhale and step back to your starting position. Repeat on the other leg and continue alternating legs for the desired time.

Overhead_Lunge

Pushup. Assume a pushup position with hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Tighten your core, and make sure you have a straight line from shoulder to ankle. As you inhale, slowly bend your elbows and let your body drop down until you have a 90 degree bend at each elbow. Exhale as you push back to your starting point. Repeat for the appropriate time. You can make the pushup easier by elevating yourself on a bench or pushing off from your knees rather than your toes.

After your third round, recover for a minute and then perform at least two minutes of cool-down stretching. The following 3 stretches will target tight areas of the hips, legs, back, and shoulders.

Back Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Lying Hamstring Stretch

So if your schedule is tight and you’re short on time, even 15-20 minutes of exercise is time well spent.

 

 

5 Foods You Should Never Eat Again

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White_Bread

 

1)      White Bread. From a nutritional standpoint, white bread is nothing more than a filler. Bleached, enriched, and highly processed, there isn’t much left but a simple carbohydrate that’s ready to spike your blood sugar and cause you to store fat.

2)      Margarine. Okay, wasn’t this touted as a healthy alternative to butter? Problem is, trans fats are far worse than any natural saturated fats you might find in butter. Many processed foods use margarine as a key ingredient so beware.

3)      Artificial Sweeteners. Designing a food that tricks your body into thinking its sweet may seem like a good replacement for sugar but in reality it just makes the problem worse. These false sweeteners can still have a negative effect on blood sugar levels and cause you to crave more sweets. And on top of that, some are loaded with chemicals that may cause brain damage.

4)      Soy. Unless you’re consuming organic soy that’s in its natural state, you’re probably better off avoiding this food. Much of the soy used today is genetically modified and chemical laden. Processed soy can have negative effects on natural hormone levels and cause a myriad of problems.

5)      Low-Fat Yogurts. Many low-fat yogurts are nothing more than whipped fruit syrup and are very high in sugar. In addition, many contain filler ingredients and chemical additives. If you can’t live without yogurt, you’re better off with a natural full-fat or Greek style yogurt.

Stretch Relief

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If you’re sitting most of the day, you know how tight and fatigued your body can become. Being slouched in front of a computer or stuck behind the steering wheel for hours on end is not an ideal posture for the human body to be positioned in. Our bodies are meant to move!

In addition to consistent physical activity, the following 5 stretches will help you feel more energized while helping to alleviate muscle tightness and stress. Take 5 minutes a few times throughout the day and recharge with this stretching routine. These stretches are intended to work with your natural range of motion, so you should feel a stretch when you perform them, but never push it to the point of discomfort or pain.

Standing Shoulder Stretch. Stand upright with your arms extended out in front of you with your palms down. Reach your fingertips as far forward as you can and allow your shoulders and upper back to round a bit. Swing your arms out to your sides in a controlled manner while you squeeze your shoulder blades together. You should feel a slight stretch across the fronts of your shoulders and tension between your shoulder blades. Continue to controllably swing your arms front to back for 30 seconds as you take deep breathes.

ChestShoulder_Stretch

Hip Flexor/Abdominal Stretch. From a standing position, take a large step forward with your right leg. Allow both knees to bend slightly but keep 60% of your weight on the front leg. Slowly reach your left arm up towards the ceiling while keeping your right knee bent. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

HipFlexor_Stretch

Neck Extensor/Flexor stretch. Rotate your head 45 degrees to the side. Slowly drop your chin towards your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly tilt your chin upwards and look towards the ceiling while still keeping your head rotated 45 degrees. Hold for another 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Standing Side bend stretch. Place feet hip width apart while standing with arms extended overhead. Reach your fingertips upwards and sideways to your left while pushing your hips sideways to the right. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

SideBend_Stretch

Kicking Hamstring stretch. Stand upright with both legs straight. Kick your right leg forward and upward in a controlled manner while keeping your left foot tight to the floor as an anchor. Your right leg should act as a pendulum swinging front to back. Don’t let your kick get too high or out of control but aim for a comfortable stretch in the back of the leg every time the leg swings forward. Continue for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.

So if you find yourself in a sedentary workplace, take 5 minutes a few times every day to give your body a break from the stress associated with physical inactivity. Give it a try and you’ll feel the difference immediately.

 

Tips to Boost Your Vege Intake

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Box with fruits and vegetables

 

Eating a variety of fresh foods is a great way to ensure your body is getting well-rounded nutrition. What better food than vegetables to deliver many of these much needed nutrients? But wait, aren’t vegetables boring, tasteless, and unsatisfying? If your vegetable preparation relies on the microwave, it’s time to expand your options to get more out of these powerhouse foods.

Use your blender. Smoothies are a great way to make a quick breakfast or snack. A fruit and vege smoothie tastes great and is even better for you. If you’re new to smoothies, add the following to you blender: 2 cups fresh spinach, ½ banana, ¾ cup frozen mixed berries, ¼ cup sunflower or flax seeds, and 1-2 cups of water or coconut water. This nutrient dense shake packs more punch than any breakfast bar or cereal. Enjoy the smoothie by itself as a snack or have it with a side of eggs or lean meat for a well rounded breakfast.

Include a vegetable in at least one of your daily snacks. Cherry tomatoes, snow peas, baby carrots, celery, and peppers are great grab-and-go snacks that add nutrients without adding extra calories. Pair them up with some hummus, Greek yogurt, or almond butter to add more flavor.

Have a side salad with your lunch. Rather than having a typical appetizer or bread before lunch, have a fresh salad with a variety of vegetables as a healthy alternative. Cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, onions, arugula, spinach, and romaine taste great in a fresh salad. Choose a healthy dressing such as a balsamic vinaigrette or just add olive oil and spices.

Double up your vegetables for dinner rather than having a starch such as rice or potatoes. Two servings of veges along with a quality protein source is a well-balanced meal that doesn’t load you down with calories at the end of the day when you’re least active. When choosing your two vegetables, pick two different colors – such as broccoli and parsnips. The more color variety, the better.

Learn how to cook and be creative. It’s amazing how many great dishes include vegetables, you just have to take the time and learn the skills to create healthy options. Foods such as meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, and casseroles can have grated zucchini, chopped spinach, or diced peppers baked right into them. Baking and grilling vegetables can really bring out the natural flavors and make for a great meal. For example, asparagus and chopped peppers grilled on a cedar plank with a bit of coconut oil and spices will really wake up your taste buds. Pair with a grilled salmon filet and you have a meal that will truly satisfy.

So start adding more vegetables to your diet and move one step closer to taking control of your health.

 

Try this tropical smoothie recipe for a taste of summer.

Serves 2:

2 cups kale, fresh
2 cups water
2 cups pineapple
1 banana
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Blend well and enjoy.

 

Exercises to Avoid – Try These Instead

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Any exercise is better than no exercise, but if you’re taking the time to work out, make sure you’re choosing exercises that will truly improve your health and fitness.

The following exercises are too commonly performed in hopes of measurable results but often lead to injuries or disappointment.

The crunch with hands behind the head. The crunch is a staple exercise in many people’s abdominal routine, but there are just so many better options out there. Lying on the floor and pulling the head forward while rounding the torso a few degrees may create quite a muscle burn if done long enough, but it does not strengthen the core as many may think. Crunches performed incorrectly can actually strain the neck and accentuate poor posture, which is all too common in today’s population.

Superman_Plank

Instead of the crunch, try any version of the plank. The superman plank is a great exercise as it strengthens many layers of the abdominal wall along with the stabilizing muscles of the back and hips while helping to improve posture. Set up in a plank and slowly reach one arm forward until it is fully outstretched. The goal is to elongate your body without shifting your center of gravity. Return to the starting point and then alternate with the other arm. Perform for at least 30 seconds and increase time as your strength improves.

Lying or seated chest press machine. This is the machine where you lie on your back and push a weight away from your chest. This is great if you want to add size to your chest, but lying on your back and moving a weight doesn’t involve much functionality. There are many more practical toning exercises out there for the typical person trying to tone up, lose weight, and get healthy. Using a fixed machine can actually limit your body’s natural range of motion and lead to tight joints and muscle imbalances.

Pushup

Rather than performing a chest press on a machine, try any version of the pushup. With a pushup, you are moving your body through space and requiring more total body recruitment. To perform a quality pushup, you must engage your core and stabilizing muscles – you’re in charge of how your body moves rather than the machine allowing you to move a certain way. If a traditional pushup is too difficult for you to perform, elevate the surface you are pushing from or try a pushup from your knees. If a traditional pushup is too easy, there are numerous options for progression.

Seated hip adduction/abduction machine. This is the machine you sit on with knees bent 90 degrees and either push your knees outward against resistance or pull them inward against resistance. This machine can target specific muscles of the hip, but it’s awkward at best. Trying to tone these areas won’t necessarily tighten and shrink the hips as many may think. These machines often lead to tight hips and imbalanced muscles.

Lateral_Lunge

Ditch these hip machines and try a lateral lunge instead. This lateral movement will work the muscles of the hips and upper leg while improving balance and range of motion. Stand with feet wider than shoulder width apart and toes turned slightly outward. Shift your weight sideways as you bend one leg and lunge down. The opposite leg should remain straight. As you near the bottom, make sure your heal stays planted on the floor and push your hips back. Return to your starting point and repeat on the other side.

So, encourage proper movement and overall results by avoiding exercises that are likely to hold you back.

Salads with Sustenance

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Steak SaladSalad. The word itself can conjure up thoughts of dieting and boring lunches, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Salads can be packed with nutrients, flavor, and color while giving you convenient options for any meal or snack.

The key is in the ingredients. Technically, a salad is a mixture of greens that is usually topped with a dressing. But, salads go way beyond iceberg lettuce, croutons, and ranch dressing. The possibilities are virtually endless as long as you understand how to build your salads to include all three macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Carbohydrates. Build your salad on a foundation of vegetables. Leafy greens such as spinach, romaine, arugula, kale, and collard greens add a ton of phytonutrients while giving the salad plenty of fullness. Additional vegetables such as red, orange, or yellow peppers, onions, beets, carrots, or parsnips will add some crunch and a splash of color. Fruit is a flavorful ingredient, but limit it to one serving or less per salad. Apples, pears, grapes, or strawberries add wonderful sweetness but still pack plenty of nutrition.

Protein. Without protein, a salad is just a salad – not an actual meal. Add a protein source and your salad rises to a new level. Include 4-8 ounces of a meat source such as steak, chicken, turkey, pork, tuna or anything else you desire. Two hard-boiled eggs would also suffice as a protein source. If you’re a vegetarian, you should still focus on getting a serving of protein through beans, legumes, or other acceptable sources.

Fat. A fat source could be as simple as an olive oil based dressing but the options don’t stop there. Toppings such as avocado, nuts, shredded cheese, or olives are all healthy fats that keep you satiated while adding incredible flavor.

Finally, add your favorite herbs and spices or a squeeze of lemon and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how flavorful a salad can be.

Salads work great if you’re packing your lunch because there is no need to heat anything up – you can eat everything cold. Just prep and pack your greens and veges in a bowl – this will later become the base for your salad. Cut up your protein source and keep it in a separate bowl. Pack a side of healthy fats and when it’s time to eat, just add the protein and fat to your main bowl and you have a complete meal that’s ready to satisfy.

So structure your salad in a way that ensures you’re getting complete nutrition while enjoying everything a great salad has to offer.

Try the following DIY dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp honey

Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper (to taste)

Add all the ingredients to a jar and shake well.

Strengthen Your Golf Game

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DriverWith warm weather finally here, many people are getting back to outdoor activities. If you’re a golfer, this means getting out on the course and picking up where you left off last year. If you find yourself frustrated with your swing, simply adding a few functional exercises to your workouts may have you recording your best game yet.

Golf is a sport that requires specialized skill, but also a balance of power, mobility, stability, and proper mechanics. If any one or more of these aspects is limited, it will hinder your performance and have you swinging your club in frustration. Make sure your workouts contain exercises that will naturally establish a foundation in these areas of sports performance.

Overhead_Squat

Overhead Squats. A typical squat will build stability and strength, which will lead to more power. The hips and legs can generate huge amounts of power and if you can harness that energy and utilize it, you can drive the ball farther. An overhead squat adds the challenge of shoulder stability and flexibility as well as core strength, all of which come into play during a golf swing.

To perform: Hold a barbell overhead with feet shoulder width apart. To lock the bar in the overhead position, you must extend the arms while engaging the muscles of the upper back and shoulders. Once the bar is stabilized overhead, you can move into the squatting portion. Slowly squat down as you inhale, ensuring that your heels stay heavy, while pushing your hips back and maintaining the natural curve in your low back. Drop down to a comfortable and stable depth. Exhale as you stand up, but don’t lock out your knees at the top.

R_Cable_Woodchop

Reverse Cable Woodchop. Appropriate golf mobility requires overall stability while allowing proper flexibility and range of motion. The woodchop challenges lower body stability while improving flexibility and building strength and power through a large range of motion.

To perform: Drop down into a squat position and take hold of a resisted cable at floor level. As you stand up, rotate yours arms across your body and reach upwards to eye level. You should be utilizing power from your legs and core to initiate the movement and then following through with the arms and upper body to finish out the rotation.

Prone_Rotation

Prone Dumbbell Rotation. Holding a plank and performing additional movements from a plank position works the deep core muscles that stabilize the spine and hips. A strong core is the foundation from which powerful movements originate. An efficient core also helps prevent common injuries that can occur during the deceleration phase of the golf swing.

To perform: Assume a pushup position with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and make sure your core is tight and your hips are not sagging. Allow your shoulders and hips to turn as you swing one arm towards the ceiling. Keep your arms straight throughout the exercise and try to generate movement from your hips and core. Reverse to your starting point and repeat on other side.

For overall performance gains, focus on 3-6 sets and use a weight that allows you to safely perform 3-10 repetitions.

5 Tips for Training Smart and Preventing Injuries

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sport woman starting running. Speed effect.Injuries sustained during exercise are far too common and can discourage even the most focused athletes. Injury prevention is definitely time well spent and much more enjoyable than injury rehabilitation. Keep your body healthy by practicing the following tips and working to avoid injuries altogether.

Always get a proper warm-up. This starts by assessing how your body feels and noting any soreness or stiffness in your muscles and joints. If you feel residual soreness from your last workout, take some time to care for that area with myofascial release such as foam rolling, or maximizing range of motion in the surrounding joint with stretching or proper mobility exercises. If a joint feels tight, work on the surrounding muscles until you feel loose and mobile. This type of warm-up could take up to 30 minutes but may be necessary to maximize mobility.

Train smart and know your limitations. Train smart by using proper form on all exercises and by learning how to fully engage your muscles. Proper form includes maintaining control of the weight at all times, even on ballistic movements. Use your muscles to decelerate your movements rather than letting the weight push you around. If you’re working with heavy weights, make sure you understand exactly how to move and which muscle groups to engage and control. Never try lifting a weight that pushes you into bad form.

Face your weaknesses. It’s convenient to avoid exercises you struggle with, but most times that just means you need to spend more time performing them. For example, if you struggle with squats because you have tight hips and a weak core, it means you need to spend more time bringing these tight and weak areas up to speed. Having a functional body will pay off by not only minimizing your chance for injury but by maximizing exercise output as well.

Run on the best fuels. Give your body what it needs to function at its best by maximizing nutrients and staying hydrated. Quality proteins such as organic chicken and turkey, wild caught fish, and grass fed beef will support muscle mass while healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil will help you control blood sugar while positively impacting hormone levels. Limit processed and starchy carbohydrates like bread and pastas, and focus on getting a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. Drinking pure water throughout the day will help to naturally detox the body and keep your muscles working properly.

Recover effectively. Most of the physical progress your body makes happens after your workout is completed. This is why it is so important to focus on recovery with fuel, sleep, and continued mobility after you leave the gym. Make sure you get a snack or meal within 45 minutes of the completion of your workout. Don’t skimp on sleep as this is such an important time for your body to repair and recharge. Just as a warm-up is important before your workout, focus on continued mobility after your workouts. If you start to feel tight or fatigued in certain muscle groups, take time to move those muscles and joints through their full range of motion with flexibility exercises and stretching. Using the foam roller to smash out and release muscle tension will speed up the recovery process as well.

So spend much of your time and focus on preventing injuries so you can continually progress and move in a positive direction.

Top 5 Must Do Nutritional Weight Loss Tips

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waist

1)    Always eat a healthy breakfast within 30 minutes of waking.

Besides being the most important meal, breakfast sets the tone for the rest of your day. Think of breakfast as a key time to refuel from hours of fasting and the first opportunity to stoke your metabolism.

2)    Consume protein, carbohydrates, and fat with every meal.

Never eat a carbohydrate by itself. The goal is to combine any sugars you eat with a protein and/or a fat so each meal satisfies nutritionally without spiking insulin levels.

3)    Eat every 2 – 3 hours.

Just as you never want to eat a carbohydrate by itself, never go too long between meals. Allowing your blood sugar to drop out of optimal range will have negative effects on your hormones while causing sugar cravings and more fat storage.

4)    Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day.

Water is the most important nutrient for the body. Dehydration causes stress and disruptions of normal metabolic processes within the body and doesn’t allow the body to detox properly on a daily basis. Flush out toxins and keep you cells hydrated with plenty of pure water.

5)    Avoid processed foods and those with artificial ingredients.

Processed foods are loaded with chemicals, filler ingredients, and added sugars and sweeteners, all while containing less nutrients than whole foods. Feed your body real foods with real benefits.

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