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Saturday Morning Drill: Power-Packed Yoga Poses for a Summer-Ready Body

Blooming flowers, singing birds, and warmer days are welcome reminders that summer is right around the corner. But, if you have yet to shed your winter wardrobe for fear of exposing your non summer-ready body, thoughts of tank tops and bikini bottoms might have you wishing it were still November.

The following yoga poses will help tone your arms, core, hips and thighs so you can sport a fit summertime physique.

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Plank Pose

Better than doing a bench press, practicing plank pose tops the list as one of the best yoga poses to do for overall strength and tone. Practice at least one set of plank every day, and work up to holding your plank for up to one full minute. If you need to modify, practice plank pose on your knees until you can work up to practicing it on your toes.
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Saturday Morning Drill: 7 Planks for a Stronger Core

If you’re a fitness enthusiast of any degree, chances are you’ve found yourself elbows down, back straight, holding yourself up in a plank. Perhaps it was your personal trainer who put you there, a workout video that forced you to hold one for “just 60 more seconds” at the end of a difficult session, or you discovered their somewhat torturous nature on your own. Whatever the case you can be certain that you’ve been doing planks for good a reason: They actually work.

Planks are an extremely beneficial workout not only for your shoulders, front and back of thighs, chest, and back muscles running up and down your spine, but also your core. When your body weight is suspended, relying on your elbows and feet for support, your core muscles are forced to kick in and engage to hold you up. Try holding a plank for just 15 seconds and you’ll see what I mean. No matter how effective they may be, however, lest we branch out from the traditional plank we’re destined to get bored of the whole exercise altogether and travel back to a less-effective sit-up for a stronger core.

In this week’s Saturday Morning Drill we’re seeking to break you out of your plank comfort zone and guide you into more challenging variations, including a side plank that engages the oblique muscles and a knee drop that will have your abs screaming by the time you hit 20 reps. So get on your workout gear, pull up a yoga mat for elbow cushion and let’s get started!

View Saturday Morning Drill: 7 Planks to a Stronger Core Slideshow

 



3 Core Exercises to Increase Stamina and Prevent Injury This Winter

Fall is a busy and active time of year. While many have been hectically scurrying to settle in to a new school year, others have been expending enormous amounts of energy winterizing the yard, gathering wood for the stove, and unpacking the shovels in anticipation of calorie-burning snow removal. These fall and winter activities take strength and stamina to endure.

A strong core is paramount to having increased energy and to prevent back pain or injury. The following are a few basic core exercises that will help you stack that last load of wood and leave you with enough energy to shovel yours and your neighbor’s drive.

Windmills

No, this is not the same thing as the classic 1950’s physical education exercise that wreaked havoc on people’s lower backs. It is however, a more modern and adaptable version of it that is much more effective, plus a lot safer.
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US Rower Mary Whipple Defends the Gold with a Vegetarian Diet and Her Pre-Race Ritual

Mary Whipple has only a week left in the states before she packs her oars and heads to London, where she’ll be competing on the US rowing team. She and her fellow women rowers are defending the team’s first gold medal since 1984, which they earned in Beijing in 2008.

While terribly busy with training preparations for team’s trip to the 2012 Olympic Games this month, Mary took some time to chat with us about her diet (which is vegetarian), training methods (which are intense), and even what gets her head in the game at the starting line (it’s not music like fellow water athlete Michael Phelps). She even shares her personal breakfast recipe that she calls the “MWhip special.”

What does your training diet look like?

Because I’m a vegetarian, I keep a fairly constant diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I don’t keep a daily food journal but I do a self-check with my favorite app (Lose It!) on a weekly basis. My official race weight is 110 pounds; I fluctuate a pound or so but because I’m weighed in 2 hours before each race, I track it very closely.

Usually I’m under so often I have to carry weight in the boat. I, naturally, have a lower weight. My weight isn’t something I worry about because I’ve got great genes from my family.   
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Olympic Swimmer Janet Evans Uses the Flex Belt in Her Workout Routine

The London Olympic Games are quickly approach. Athletes are training their hardest to qualify for the U.S. trials, which begin today for swimming, and that includes four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans. One product she uses to do that is the Flex Belt, an electronic abdominal toning device.

“As an Olympian in swimming, our abs and our core are really important to us, so an ab core workout is something I always do at the end of every workout. But I find that there are some things I traditionally cannot get. I can’t get my obliques really well, I can’t get my upper abs, I can’t get my lower abdominals, so what I find with the Flex Belt is that it really helps me get things that I might not get by getting down on the ground and doing traditional crunches and sit ups,” Evans said in an interview.
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