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Strength Training

April DVD Review: Canyon Ranch Strong and Sculpted

Written on April 24, 2012 at 10:29 am , by

(Photo courtesy of Acacia)

April’s Top Workout DVD: Canyon Ranch Strong & Sculpted

Best for: Beginner to intermediate exercisers who are looking for a good strength and stretch session.

Why it’s a star: No fancy dance skills or high-impact cardio moves are necessary during this DVD to challenge your muscles and get a great sweat going! During two of the three 20-minute segments, you’ll perform fluid multi-muscle group exercises with a pair of medium-weight dumbbells (like an alternating side lunge with a lateral raise). The payoff: You’ll keep your heart rate elevated to burn calories and add strength in a short amount of time. For the last segment, grab a mat for a relaxing yoga cooldown.

Where to get it: $17, acacialifestyle.com

More from FITNESS: Having trouble finding a workout DVD you love? Create your own with this free FITNESS tool!

5 Muscle Myths You Should Stop Believing

Written on April 24, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Show off your muscles, you earned them! (Photo courtesy Ericka McConnell)

Muscle building is an important component of any exercise routine, but are you strength training the right way? Here are five common myths about muscles, and why they aren’t true.

1. Heavy weights make you bulk up: It’s a common belief: lifting heavy weights will have you looking more bodybuilder than long and lean. But in reality, your muscles won’t get Ms. Olympia-sized from lifting a 20-pound kettlebell; the size of your muscles is related to your genes and strength-training routine, not the size of your weights. Using heavier weights actually saves you time — studies show that you will get the same results when lifting heavier weights for fewer reps as you do with lifting lighter weights for longer. But no matter what size weight you use, make sure you choose one that is challenging your body the right way. The American Council on Exercise recommends that you choose a weight that fatigues your muscles within 90 seconds (aka makes you unable to perform another rep correctly), since that’s within the limit of your muscles’ supply of anaerobic energy.

2. Soreness comes from lactic acid buildup: It’s an often-quoted principle that the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) you feel in the days after your workout is from lactic acid in your body. In fact, DOMS is a symptom of micro tears in the muscles that happen when you work out. Lactic acid does play a part in your workout, however, since it is the cause of that burning sensation you feel when working your muscles. It actually fuels muscles to help you work out longer, so pushing past that burning sensation will help you increase your strength and endurance.

3. If you stop exercising, your muscle turns into fat: Once you’ve got your workout routine down, you’ll be surprised at how toned you feel. But something like a vacation or sickness can set your regimen back, sometimes leading to weight gain. While many people believe the weight gain is from muscles turning into fat, both tissues are completely different and can’t convert from one to the other (similarly, there’s no way to make muscles leaner, since they are already fat-free). Instead, building muscle helps burn fat, so when you have less of it, your metabolism rate will be lower.

Keep reading for two more muscle myths.

More from FitSugar:

7 Ways to Challenge Your Plank

3 Leg Stretches Runners Should Do Daily

Tabata Mashup Workout: Squats and Push-Ups

How U.S. Sailor Paige Railey Is Gearing Up for the Olympic Games

Written on April 13, 2012 at 11:30 am , by

Paige spends an average of eight hours a day training for the summer Games. (Photo courtesy of Sperry Top-Sider)

As one might expect, becoming part of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team is no easy feat. The squad was picked in nine of 10 events based on combined performance at two selection events in the U.K. and Australia in 2011. But 25-year-old Paige Railey made the cut, and now she and her brother Zach will be the first brother and sister to compete at the same Olympics (though in separate races). We chatted with Railey, who is being sponsored by Sperry Top-Sider to see how she’s getting ready for the Games. (Hint: It involves a lot of eating!)

How did you get your start in sailing?

Our family dentist suggested my mom take Zach (her older brother) to a sailing program at our local club in Florida. Zach fell in love with it from the first day, and when I was little he used to sail my twin sister and I. The thought of being free on the water, controlling a boat on my own and being outside all day just seemed like perfection to me.

Sailing requires serious muscle strength. How do you stay in shape?

My family has always been very active. We were never allowed to stay inside and play video games or watch TV when we were younger. My brother, sister and I would go for three-mile runs just for fun. Zach was 9 and my sister and I were 6! I began training to sail when I was ten years old. I did a lot of abs, push-ups and cardio. Once I was 15 I started weight training. My favorite exercises are deadlifts, cleans (the first part of a clean and jerk), stability ball work, biking and Jacob’s ladder work. Google it if you’ve never heard of it–it’s really hard!

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6 Exercises to Get You Surf-Ready For Summer

Written on April 6, 2012 at 11:55 am , by

Next up: riding the waves while standing! (Photo by Joseph Montezinos)

With spring break in full swing (or already passed for many!) thoughts turn to summer and upcoming getaways. If a beach getaway is in the books, a surf session is likely on the agenda. While it’s rare to have a surf school nearby in most areas of the country, there’s plenty you can do now to hit the waves feeling strong, prepared and confident.

“Pre-training is important for excelling, keeping safe and having fun with summer water sports,” says Rob Stuart, private trainer at The Sports Club/LA in Washington, D.C. Four to six weeks before your departure, follow Stuart’s plan for a three-pronged approach at a surf-ready (and beach-ready) body:

  1. Cardio 15 to 20 minutes three days a week
  2. Total-body strength training three days a week
  3. Yoga and swimming to complement

To hit all the muscle groups you’ll need on the board, try these seven moves during your strength sessions. Do three sets of 12 reps of each exercise.

 Now tell us: Are you planning a spring or summer getaway? If so, do you change your exercise routine beforehand?

#140Wednesdays: What Machine Intimidates You the Most at the Gym?

Written on April 4, 2012 at 11:21 am , by

Move over boys, it's time to share the weights! (Photo courtesy Jay Sullivan)

The gym can be a bit overwhelming. Between rush hours, grunting men and too many options, it can take a bit to get into the swing of things. While it’s always good to switch up your routine and try something different, everyone has one machine they just can’t seem to master. Read below to see what our Twitter followers admit to skipping below.

@cherielianne: The whole thing! That’s why I lost my 80 pounds in the happiness of my own home gym! (Editor’s note: You can skip the gym too with these tips to make your own at-home gym.)

@MsPumpnRun: I used to say the StepMill, but after some quality time we are great friends now!

@runjamiereilly: The pull-up bar! I want to do an unassisted pull-up, or two or three even!

@AubreyTweets: Probably the odd folding weighted ab crunch machines, and I’m a trainer! I mean really, how do you fold like that?

@Colette111: The chin-up machine! I’m female and not hugely strong (yet) and it’s always swarming with big muscly men. #intimidating

@kelceyz: The StairMaster. I can only last about five minutes on that thing!

Want to step up and try something new? This guide will help you make the most of the gym machines without embarrassing yourself.

Now tell us: What machine intimidates you at the gym?

6 Moves to Feel Super Light From New Balance Fitness Ambassador Holly Perkins

Written on March 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm , by

Holly gets in a deep quad stretch while showing off the new 895 New Balance SuperLight/SuperFresh collection. (Photo courtesy of New Balance)

Last week I got the chance to enlighten my mind and my feet while testing New Balance’s latest walking shoe (featured in our 2012 FITNESS Sneaker Guide!) with a tour of the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. While I enjoyed soaking in the art, my feet were pretty pleased as well. The 895 SuperFresh/SuperLight collection is made with REVLite cushioning technology in the midsole. That paired with an egg crate-like design on the outsole makes slipping on these sneaks feel like a tiny massage for your toes.

As a special bonus, New Balance Fitness Ambassador Holly Perkins led our walking tour and shared six exercises every woman should be doing. Since only a few of these make a regular appearance in my gym routine, I shared them below so you can add the moves you are missing.

1. Sumo squat: Start with feet wider than shoulders width apart, toes pointed out and knees over toes. Sink into a deep squat, thighs parallel to the ground and your back straight. Push off with your heels, squeezing your glutes and inner thighs back into starting position. Try 3 reps of 10.

2. Single leg deadlift: Balancing on right leg with left leg slightly behind you and off the ground, reach down and touch the ground with your fingers. Return to starting position and repeat. Try 3 reps of 10 for each leg.

3. Calf raises: Holding onto a chair or other steady surface, raise your heels until you are on your tiptoes. Balance weight at the balls of your feet and pause. Lower slowly and repeat. Try 3 reps of 15.

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Hot Topic Tuesday: Is There Such a Thing As Too Fit, Too Soon?

Written on March 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm , by

This is what we think of when we hear "active kids." (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Watch this video and try to keep your jaw off the floor! Claudi and Giuliano Stroe, ages 5 and 7, might just be the strongest grade school kids we’ve ever seen. While we feel accomplished if we can knock out a few standard pull-ups, these two adorable boys from Romania are completing the so-called “human flag” (picture them hanging horizontally from a floor-to-ceiling bar) and doing a pull-up motion from that position.

Like this 10-year-old bodybuilder we told you about last summer, this pair trains…and they train hard. They began exercising when they were 2 and now hit the weights with their dad for two hours every morning.

Which brings us to today’s hot topic discussion: Do you think that it’s healthy and inspiring for these kids to start so young? We’ve all seen the startling childhood obesity statistics, and these kids are certainly not following that trend. But there is something to be said about letting active kids be kids (not mini-adults) with their jump rope rhymes, Capture the Flag games and bike rides—away from the gym.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Now tell us: Do you find these fit kids to be motivational wellness all-stars or do you think it’s too much too soon?

Fit Links: The Strong Woman Workout and Saving Dough at Whole Foods

Written on February 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm , by

This workout has flex appeal! (Photo by Karen Pearson)