7 Moves To A Terrifically Toned Back

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A strong and toned back isn’t just a must-have accessory when you’re rocking a backless dress—it can be one of your body’s most valuable assets.

Your back is involved in everything you do, from running to lugging groceries to picking up your baby, so strengthening it is crucial to improving fitness and preventing injury.

It’s also the key to better posture, which gives you a confident look no matter what you’re wearing or what you’re doing. What’s more, working the muscles from your shoulders to hips can help ease (or stave off) back pain – A study found that adults with chronic backaches felt significantly less pain after a 16-week strength-training program.

The following workout targets your entire upper and lower back, core, hips, and glutes. Do it two or three times a week, on non-consecutive days (three sets of each exercise, working up to 12 reps per set) to improve your posture, prevent aches and pains, and achieve a strong, defined rear view. Get Going. Good Luck.

1. Pull-up

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Find a pull-up bar and assume an overhand shoulder width grip. Bracing through your core, lift yourself up until your chin is over the bar, trying to get as high as possible. Cue yourself to pull your chest to the bar to ensure full height. Descend all the way to full extension as this will engage more of the shoulder stabilizers and muscle mass of the back – this will help in maintaining health in the shoulder girdle.

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Note: Do not swing your body up to the bar. It will change the movement pattern and should functionally be considered a different exercise. While useful in other contexts – swing and momentum are inappropriate here.

2. Dumbbell Pushup Row

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Grab a pair of weights and get in push-up plank position with your hands grasping the handles of the weights. Lower your body to the floor, pause, then push yourself back up. Once you’re back in the starting plank position, pull the weight in your right hand upward, bending at the elbow. Try to graze your right side when you “row” the dumbbell up, keeping your elbow straight. Pause, then lower the dumbbell back down, and repeat the same movement with your left arm. That’s one repetition. Repeat as many times as possible for 60 seconds.

3. Superman

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Start by lying face down and extending your arms out in front of you. Press your shoulder blades together and lift your arms, chest, and legs off the floor. Hold position for 60 seconds, keeping your head up and your arms extended out in front of you.

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4. Reverse Fly

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Bend your knees and waist again, then spread those wings, extending your arms and squeezing your shoulder blades together. This move is great for your posture as well as your arms, so always make sure your back stays straight.

5. Basic Forearm Plank

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Lie face down on floor resting on your forearms. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, contracting your abdominal muscles while you hold your body in a straight line from head to toe. Don’t let your butt sag or stick up in the air. Hold in this position for 60 seconds.

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6. Single Leg Deadlift

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Stand on your right leg with your back straight, chest up and hand against your sides. Place your left foot back so you are balancing on the ball of your foot. Slightly bend your right leg, lifting your left leg straight and your right arm reaching to the ground. Hold, return to the starting position and repeat.

7. Swimmers

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Lie on your stomach with the legs and arms extended. Engage your abdominals so you feel your transverse abdominis contract. Lift your arms and legs off the floor and keep your nose in a hover above the mat. Flutter your arms and legs, moving from the hips and shoulders (not the knees and elbows). Like your swimming. Move in opposite arm/leg pattern. Breath in a pattern as such: inhale-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4.

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7 Habits That Will Make You Fit For Life

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Being fit and healthy doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to working out for hours a day and eating nothing but chicken and steamed broccoli for every
meal. In fact, there are several more effective (and less painful!) habits you can adopt today that will not only help you get in shape in the short-term,
but will help you stay that way for the long run as well.

These seven habits are easy to implement into your everyday lifestyle, and will help get you healthy and fit for life:

1. Stop making excuses
I know, you’re too busy to go to the gym. It takes too much time to pack a healthy lunch and too hard to find something healthy to eat out. You would work
out at home, but you don’t know how.

All of these excuses are valid in their own way, and yes, we’ve all been there. But if you really want to get — and stay — fit and healthy, you have to
learn to give up your excuses and start making your health and fitness a top priority today.

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2. Walk more.
Even if you go to the gym six days a week, the real key to lifelong fitness is to simply be more active and walk more in your day-to-day life. Try making a
conscious effort to walk whenever and wherever you can: to the grocery store, to get your afternoon coffee or go on a post-dinner stroll with your family.
Try and aim for at least 10,000 steps a day.

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3. Don’t always deprive yourself
Although it may seem counterintuitive, striving to always be “perfect” with your nutrition is actually not a good long-term strategy to get or stay in
shape. Depriving yourself of dessert and all the foods you love will only result in a binge of those very same foods when your willpower is at a moment of
weakness.

Instead, try following the 80/20 strategy: eat healthy around 80% of the time, then let yourself have some treats here and there. Just make sure they’re
really good ones!

4. Find activities that get you moving.
Instead of always going to the movies or sitting around for long meals, try finding some activities you and friends or loved ones enjoy doing together. Go
for a bike ride, take a scenic hike, set up a game of bocce ball for the whole family to enjoy — the list is endless! Not only will you get moving, you’re
bound to have more fun as well.

5. Shorten your workouts.
When you have to plan an hour or more for a workout, of course it’s not always possible to go to the gym. But when you pack your entire workout into an
efficient, 10-20 minute HIIT workout that works your entire body and leaves you soaked in sweat, you’ll no longer have the same excuse to skip your workout
as often as you normally would. Just remember to work hard!

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6. Make sleep a priority
Many of us underestimate the importance of a good night’s rest, but it’s crucial for long-term health that you give your body a proper amount of sleep each
night. And if thinking long-term isn’t enough of an incentive, remember this: too little sleep can also impair weight loss efforts due to raised cortisol
levels. Try and get around seven to eight hours a night on a regular basis.

7. Find ways to actually enjoy your veggies.
I get it, not everyone loves the taste of vegetables. Although I now crave veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale on a daily basis, there were
definitely times in my life when I ate nothing but mac and cheese for days (college, anyone?).

But vegetables are packed with important nutrients that keep your body healthy, and their fiber content also helps fill you up. So if you don’t love a plain
salad, find ways to make your veggies interesting: roast them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, toss them in a flavorful stir fry or blend them into
a juice so you don’t even know they’re there. If you don’t despise them, you’re much more likely to eat vegetables on a regular basis.

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6 Simple Ways To Get Addicted To Exercise

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You’re glued to the TV, can’t be separated from your smartphone and constantly checking social media. But what about being addicted to exercise?

You’ll be surprised what a few lifestyle tweaks and a little motivation can do to transform your fitness habits. Here’s how to get addicted to exercise.

1. Pay For A Gym Membership
Signing up to a long-term contract and committing to a membership is a risky business, especially if you’re forking out hundreds to join. However, knowing that a chunk of your pay packet is going to those smiling faces at the gym is a huge incentive to get down there and make the most of your membership.

Once you’ve signed the dotted line, frame it. Seeing your goals in writing can be hugely motivating – a little reminder of what you want to achieve. Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University in California conducted a ‘goal-setting’ study of 267 participants in which she discovered that you are ‘42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.’ It creates purpose and direction – no more excuses!

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2. Give It 56 Days
56 days seems like a long time, but it’s realistic. Many have spurts of fitness motivation, which is soon quashed when they don’t see the results they hoped for. This is because a) it’s too short a time to witness progress b) they aren’t in the habit of exercising regularly yet.

Dispel the myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit – it doesn’t. The University College Londonlooked into the phenomenon of habit building with the help of 96 participants who were asked to choose an ‘everyday habit’ that they’d like to establish, and record their progress over the course of 84 days; including their success in completing the task and feelings towards it.

From the study, researchers found considerable variation according to what habit the person was practising, their health and willpower. But on average, the results suggested that it takes 56 days to form a habit, with exercise proving the most difficult to get into.

The key here is not to get disheartened; persist even when you’re not in the mood. It’s the repetitive nature of the habit that you need to master. Soon enough you’ll hate missing gym sessions and will do anything you can to catch up.

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3. Take Small Steps
Throwing yourself in at the deep end won’t work. Not only will it leave you disheartened, but it also makes you more prone to injury. If you’re a complete beginner, take small steps, focusing on the key areas you want to work on. Once you start to get frustrated by how easy your initial training is, you’ll naturally want to challenge and push yourself; but again, don’t overdo it.

To begin with, avoid high impact workouts that put excessive strain on the joints, such as running – there’s no such thing as ‘no pain, no gain.’ Instead, concentrate on exercises that are less intense, like swimming or yoga to improve flexibility.

There are thousands of training plans and guides available on the web, designed to help fitness-newbies get off on the right foot.

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4. Exercise First Thing In The Morning
Many argue that they haven’t got the time to exercise, and a way to overcome this obstacle is by embracing morning workouts. Set an earlier alarm and don’t hit snooze; in fact, don’t think at all. Just jump out of bed, don your gym gear and get moving.

Early morning workouts come with a plenitude of benefits. Not only does setting your alarm an hour earlier free up the rest of your day; it sharpens your focus, boosts your metabolic rate and improves your mood.

And to top it off, research made by the University of New South Wales also found that early exercisers are also ‘more likely to stick with a fitness regime than those who leave it until later in the day.’ If you want your fitness habit to stick, be an early bird.

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5. Go Digital and Social
Turn your social media addiction into a love for exercise. If you’re constantly posting, tweeting or checking-in, use it to your advantage by keeping friends and followers updated with your fitness progress. For some, knowing that all eyes are on them is the perfect incentive to get off the couch and on the treadmill.

If social networking isn’t your thing and you hate the thought of sharing before and after pics, make fitness apps your new gym buddy. Nike Training Club and the like are a great source of new workouts and motivation, not to mention a useful way to track your progress.

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6. Do It For Charity
If you’re stuck for a reason to drag yourself out of bed and lace up your running shoes, give purpose to your workouts by doing it for charity. Set sky-high goals and achieve the impossible, whilst raising hundreds of pounds for a cause that’s close to your heart.

There’s one danger of getting addicted to exercise, and that’s doing it for the wrong reasons. Sure you’ll look amazing, but don’t let the physical benefits drive you to workout more and more. Exercising for a charity makes it not about personal gain, but the greater good – a really empowering and fulfilling way to gain perspective and get fit in one.

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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 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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