Achieving 6-pack abs is pretty much the holy grail of physical fitness and strength, even though much of your abdominal appearance is decided by genetics, not effort. But whether you have 7% body fat or a layer of “insulation” over your abdominal muscles it’s extremely important to keep those muscles strong. Working the muscles that make up your core strong (the abdominals, obliques, and mid- to lower-back) will make your entire body feel stronger, give you better posture, and improve your balance. However, the question remains—what’s the best technique to building and managing core strength?
We’ve been presented with so many different options for strengthening the abdominal muscles that it’s hard to know what works best. Should we be lying on our backs, balancing on our hands and toes, standing up, squatting, or using a contraption like the ab flyer or ab rocket?
Luckily, a group of fitness experts commissioned by the American Council on Exercise recently conducted the research to answer that very question. ACE reached out to experts at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse to conduct research determining the effectiveness of the most popular equipment and exercises compared to the traditional crunch. The team incorporated several different varieties of popular equipment including the Ab Circle Pro, Ab Roller, and others, as well as exercises including yoga’s boat pose, the stability ball crunch, decline bench curl-ups, the captain’s chair crunch, the bicycle crunch, the side plank, and a standard plank.
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We all know that working with a personal trainer can provide so many benefits. If you’re just starting out, a personal trainer is a great resource to learn how to exercise properly and regular appointments make you a lot more likely to show up at the gym. Of course, trainers often charge between $40 and $80 per session, or more. Luckily, there’s a great way to get the benefits of having a personal trainer for only a fraction of the cost: Online training. We sat down with Paige, an ACE certified personal trainer with years of experience training clients both in-person and online to find out a bit more about online personal training works.
1. What exactly is online training? How does it work?
Online training is a lot like in-person training, but all training is done virtually. After an initial assessment and consultation, I design a customized workout program for that client. However, instead of being there in-person for their “sessions” they refer to my online exercise video library, pictures, demonstrations, and detailed descriptions for the exercises. Depending on the tier of training they choose, my involvement can be a coaching them and providing feedback 3 to 5 times a week or as little as once a week.
2. What types of people (typically) sign up for online training?
The same as those who come to me in the gym—those who want to better their lives in some way through fitness. The only differences would be that often, those who come to me for online training have crazy hard-to-plan-around schedules. Also, online training is much more affordable than paying $70 an hour for in-the-gym training. Some of my online clients came to me looking for a more affordable way to have a personal trainer.
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We’ve made it through the long winter and spring is finally here and in full swing! ‘Tis the season for baseball, sunny days, green things growing and everyone’s favorite activity: spring cleaning! Since free time is something that most of us don’t have an abundance of, it’s good to know that you can easily multitask while engaging in your spring cleaning chores. According to My Fitness Pal heavy cleaning can burn up to 250 calories per hour, making it a worthwhile fitness activity. And, by adding in just a few simple moves to your cleaning routine, you can burn even more!
Here’s six ways to fire up your heart rate, engage your muscles and get a calorie-blasting workout while you get your spring cleaning on:
1. Blast your favorite heart-pumping tunes
Before you start cleaning, make a playlist of music that gets you pumped. Think about songs that you listen to when going for a run or doing a cardio workout at the gym. Music with an upbeat rhythm is more likely to make you not only clean faster, but help you have fun while doing it. Go ahead and blast that music and dance around with that mop or duster (and burn a ton of calories while doing it!). You’ll discover a whole new appreciation for cleaning.
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We all know that swimming is a great, low-impact, full-body workout. But it’s not the only way to get in shape in the water. Over the last few years, traditional strength training, cardio workouts, and even yoga have taken to the water to deliver a form of exercise that is easy on the joints and effective at toning and strengthening the muscles. Sure, there’s water aerobics. But there are also a handful of other fitness styles that have taken the plunge into the pool, creating an entirely new experience for some of your favorite group exercises classes.
Here’s an introduction to five popular group fitness classes that you wouldn’t expect to take place in a pool:
Aqua Zumba adds a fun challenge to one of the most popular group exercise classes in the world. The concept and moves are the same as in a traditional Zumba class, but the extra resistance created by pushing against the water adds a great strength-training element to the workout. The class is held in shallow water (about chest height for the average participant) and the instructor is positioned near the ledge of the pool (so that everyone can see her movements and follow instruction). Aqua Zumba is described as a fun pool party- where you don’t even realize that you get a great workout.
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When you’ve been stuck in the same fitness routine for a while, finding some inspiration can be just the ticket to shake things up. Let’s face it: when we get bored we’re much more likely to quit. Changing things up could make you more likely to stick with exercise, whether it’s trying out a new group exercise class or learning a new sport. Spending time with other fit-minded individuals can also provide a major dose of motivation and help you break out of a fitness rut.
Here are five different fitness-focused events happening in the summer of 2014 that will enable you to network with others, make new friends, and discover the latest trends in fitness:
When & Where: June 6-8, Park City, Utah
Who attends: Healthy living bloggers and readers, anyone with a love for food and fitness
The Details: The Blend Retreat is back for a second year in Park City, Utah (in the gorgeous Canyons Resort) and is sponsored by Silk. It’s a weekend for like-minded individuals from all around the country to come together for three days of fun, great food, fitness and friendship. A ticket to the retreat gets you three meals (two breakfasts and a 5-course gourmet dinner), a cocktail reception with free drinks, coffee and tea all weekend, two sponsored snack breaks, a guided hike with pre- and post-hike snacks, two bootcamp-style workouts led by qualified fitness instructors, a t-shirt, an amazing swag bag filled with products from over 25 different vendors and entry into a closing ceremony raffle with big ticket items from various sponsors. For more information and to register, visit Blend Retreat’s website.
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