5 Reasons To Intensify Your Workout

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A regular workout routine is important for your body—but not if it’s keeping you from seeing results.

“Your body eventually adapts to the training requirements and demands placed on it,” says John Locke, owner of Fast and Fitness training facility in New York City.

Wondering if you’re suffering from workout fatigue? Locke shares some signs that it’s time to start mixing things up—starting right now.

1. You’re breezing through reps without putting in much effort.
“If a client is continuously training at the same level, your brain already prepares the body for that load,” says Locke. Therefore, your muscles won’t be as stressed, and you’ll hit a veritable plateau when it comes to improvement.

By changing things up (grabbing heavier weights, playing with tempo, doing a more challenging variation of a move), you’ll keep that stress load constant and will continue to see changes.

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2. You’re still running 3 miles in 30 minutes (or whatever your pace may be).
Are you generally running at a consistent intensity, distance or frequency without increasing or changing one of those variables? It’s time to kick things into high gear, says Locke. That could mean it’s time to start adding in speed drills or just ramping up your mileage a few days a week.

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3. Your legs feel strong—but your arms feel weak
That 7 a.m. Spin class is doing wonders for your butt and legs, but you’re still struggling to do a regular push-up. If that sounds like you, you need to add more variety and cross-training sessions to your workout regime.

Look at a week’s worth of your workouts and ask yourself: are you hitting every muscle group and are you logging cardiovascular, strength, agility and flexibility sessions? If you are that Spin junkie, think about trying a yoga or CrossFit class once a week to target your arms, chest and shoulders, too.

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4. You no longer feel breathless during your usual high-intensity interval training workout.
Once your body is used to the same routine, “it doesn’t need to expend as much energy anymore, so it conserves energy,” making you less tired, says Locke.

You’ll notice less post-workout fatigue or soreness, too, which means you’re not gonna see change. And you won’t burn as many calories—part of why you’re doing a high-intensity workout in the first place, right?

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5. You can sing along to all the words of your favorite song while working out.
No, we’re not talking about belting out some Taylor Swift in your head.

“If you can sing out loud while exercising, you’re only working out at a moderate-intensity level, max,” explains Locke. So push yourself and pick up the pace or cut the length of your recovery intervals during your next sweat session. You’ll be feeling the burn again soon.

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5 Moves That Work Your Abs Hard

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You don’t need crunches to get solid abs. Here are some simple unconventional ways to achieve strong functional abs without having to spend hours at the gym. They can be done after your regular gym session or integrated with you workout. The great thing about these training methods is that they will get you results and they can all be done easily with minimal equipment. Doing a 5 minute circuit of all the exercises after finishing a workout in the gym is ideal. Start feeling the burn.

1. Negative Chinups
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These are definitely a favorite ab exercise for many women. They are done simply by:

  • Jumping up the the chin-up position on a bar
  • Lowering yourself slowly (10 seconds)
  • Repeat for 8-12 reps

As you get stronger with these start hanging weight but do not sacrifice your form or how slow you lower yourself. I guarantee you a set or two of these will get your abs burning, as well as your back and biceps.

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2. Stomach Vacuum
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Your Abs and lower back are made to stabilize your body, not much else. So when you suck in your stomach like I did as a kid on the beach your whole midsection starts to activate its stabilization instincts. Vacuums are especially important if you suffer from lower back pain as it activates the transversus abdominis which is the deepest of your abdominal muscles.

Here’s how to do it:

  • “Lying on the floor, exhale completely, forcing all the air out of the lungs/ diaphragm with your abdominal muscles. Next, instead of inhaling, suck in your gut, pulling it in so far that you can imagine your abs actually touching your spine. Since there’s no air in your lungs, you should be able to suck your stomach way in, which will contract your transversus abdominis.
  • Practice holding this vacuum for longer and longer periods of time. Eventually, your waist will get smaller, providing you don’t stuff yourself at meals and bloat with massive amounts of liquids between meals.
  • After you have achieved a sense of control in the lying position, next practice the standing position. Initially, it will be easier to achieve the vacuum if you press your palms against your upper thighs after exhaling and sucking in your gut.
  • The final step in doing the ultimate vacuum is to start practicing with your hands behind your neck.This particular vacuum is not easy, but keep at it.
  • I like to do this after workouts when my abs are already weak, usually holding the vacuum for around 20 seconds and then taking a break before repeating.

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3. Hold something heavy over your head
2013 Open workout descriptions with Julie Foucher

This is one of my favorite’s but it requires a gym or a heavy barbell.

  • Push Press a heavy weight over your head (not too heavy, be sensible)
  • Hyper extend your arms and contract your midsection and stand
  • After about 10 seconds you should start to feel your midsection weaken and shake, this means your abs are working full-out to stabilize your body
  • Repeat for 2-3 sets of 20 seconds

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4. Throw something heavy
2013 Open workout descriptions with Julie Foucher

This is another great one but requires a heavy medicine ball but a big rock will do if you want to go primal.

  • Head out to a park or playing field with a medicine ball
  • Throw the thing as far as you can
  • Run towards it and repeat
  • When you feel your abs weaken, your work is done

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5. Dumbell Pullovers
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This actually makes your abs sore, and it’s not just for your lats. A favorite of many women bodybuilders. This is a great exercise and should be part of everyone’s full body training regime, its old school but it works!

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Remember, function is what we should ultimately strive for. Forget the crunches and conventional abdominal training, the only way to build abs for real is to do real exercises that will benefit your bodies functionality in the real world. I guarantee you a combination of these technique’s will get your mid-section sore and feeling deeply worked out.

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5 Best Moves To A Flat Belly

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If you’re overweight and looking to get flat abs, it’s going to be a must that you’re paying attention to the exercises that you’re including in your workout program. However, exercise selection alone is not enough.

The biggest must-do if you want to achieve flat abs is to focus on cardiovascular exercise and eating a calorie reduced diet. If you aren’t eating a lower calorie diet, fat loss will be virtually impossible and this will mean your abdominal appearance will stay as-is even if you perform abdominal exercises daily. In combination with diet, cardio is also a necessity if you’re trying to burn fat from your waist.

Once you’ve got your diet in order, here are five great abdominal exercises that you should consider including in your workout routine. These are what I consider to be five of the most effective abdominal exercises for women. Not an end all list, but a great place to start.

1. Lying Leg Raises
leg-raises-1Lying leg raises are the first exercise to be performing. This exercise is perfect for working the lower abdominal muscles and for firming the tummy quickly. When doing lying leg raises, you’ll want to ensure that you keep the back pressed flat into the floor at all times, never letting it lift upwards as your legs rise up to the 90 degree point.

Also be sure that your legs never drop down to the ground either, as that’ll take all the stress off the lower ab muscles altogether.

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2. The Bicycle
bicycle_crunch-2The bicycle is the next exercise to add to firm the abs. This one is great for strengthening the oblique muscles, so will help you reduce the appearance of love handles that so many people despise so much.

The bicycle is also good for strengthening the entire abdominal section as the legs will stay elevated off the floor the entire time.

Perform it in a slow and controlled manner for best results.

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3. Decline Sit-Ups
decline-situp-b-female-3Decline sit-ups are the next exercise that you should be doing in your workout program. These are great because they’re going to place far more strain on the abdominal muscles as you move along the decline and against additional resistance.

If you want to intensify this exercise, add a twist to the movement so that you call the obliques into play as well. This movement can cause the hip flexors to tense up, so just make sure that you do perform some stretching exercises after it’s completed.

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4. The Plank
bootcamp-plank-4The fourth exercise that’s a must to firm up your core is the plank exercise. The plank is going to help build muscular endurance very well and is an isometric movement, unlike all the rest.

This exercise can be done incorporating a leg raise into the picture or done with the hands or feet up on an exercise ball as well.

Make sure that at no point do you allow the hips to rise up or fall back down as you perform it as this would instantly take the stress off the core muscles and put you at risk for additional pain.

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5. Prone Ball Roll Ins
jackknife-5Finally, the last exercise that you should be performing in your workout program is the prone ball roll-in. Prone ball roll-ins are going to be great for firming up not only the core, but the shoulders as well.

As you do this exercise, make sure that you focus on tensing up the abdominal muscles to bring the ball into your core rather than performing it with the hip flexor muscles instead.

The Bottom Line
So there you have it, five great core/abdominal exercises that are must-haves in your workout routine. Choose two or three of these to perform each workout and you’ll be happy with the results. Just remember though, these exercises alone are not enough to get a defined six pack. Don’t forget that these exercises will need to be utilized in conjunction with a balanced healthy diet. You’ll also want to make sure you mix in cardiovascular exercise if you’re looking to achieve optimal results, especially if you currently have a high body fat percentage. These 3 (weight training, cardiovascular exercise, and nutrition) components coupled together will have you seeing results in no time.

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