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Archive for Monday, December 12, 2011

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As I See Fit: Cardiovascular activity jump-starts weight loss

December 12, 2011

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It’s time to get back to basics. When everything from the food on the table to the endless social gatherings appear overwhelming and somewhat decadent, there’s something very satisfying about being able to maintain a workout program.

It doesn’t matter to me if your current workout consists of 20 crunches and five standing leg lifts (while you are cooking, remember?) as long as you try to do something active. Getting your heart rate up encourages you to move more, and the endorphin rush that goes along with this has the potential to give you more energy.

Read between the lines here, please: Moving more gives you more energy, so that you can get more things done. What a win-win!

For all intents and purposes, cardiovascular activity is the key you need to jump-start weight loss. Combined with strength training, this is one of the most effective ways for women to burn fat and build muscle.

There’s really no magic formula. If you want to lose weight and tone up, you need to move. Try to get in 30 minutes of cardio four to five times a week. I would say to shoot for 45, but again, it’s the holidays and you already say that you don’t have any time.

If you are unhappy with your weight, you will not see any changes unless you get your heart rate up. And that is up to you. You do the cardio, add in some of the sure-fire basics I have below, and there’s another strategy to help you smarten your body and your mind this week.

The exercises are simple and can be modified easily. I’ve put together great moves for your lower body, an upper-body compound move and a core favorite. Make it happen!

Backward Lunge

When you step backward into a lunge, it works the glutes a little more intensely and adds variety to your workout. Lunges also help promote hip flexibility and proper alignment, which can suffer when people spend long hours sitting at a desk.

Form: Feet parallel, hip-distance apart, take one giant step backward. Lower your body slowly, bending both knees, and return to standing. Repeat on the other side. Bend your knees no farther than 90 degrees, front knee stacked directly over your front ankle. Do not rest your back knee on the ground. 15 repetitions per leg.

Variation: Side Lunge

The side lunge directly targets the muscle on the outside of the hips, the glutes, and tones the inner thighs.

Form: From a wide stance, bend one knee. Keep the shinbone under that knee vertical to the floor. If the knee falls inside the foot, use a shorter stance. Lean forward slightly, but keep your shoulders behind your knees to avoid injury. Choose a hand position that helps with balance.

Side Plank

One notable variation of the plank is the side plank. While the traditional plank will work your middle core muscles, the side plank specifically targets your obliques (side abdominal muscles).

Form: To begin, lie on your left side with your body straight, one foot on top of the other, your left upper arm directly under your shoulder, your left hand and forearm placed on the ground and pointing directly in front of you. From there simply push up so that your elbow is bent at 90 degrees and only your left foot, hand and forearm are in contact with the floor. Hold for 30 seconds or until fatigue. Repeat on your right side.

Bicep Curl/Shoulder Press Combo

Form: Holding a pair of free weights with the palms face up, stand tall with feet hip-width apart, abs tight. Lift the weights toward your shoulders (flexing elbows), turn the palms to face out and continue pushing the weight over your head in a fluid, continuous motion. Then reverse the motion, bring the weight down to your shoulders with the palms out, turning them to fully extend the elbows, bringing the arms to the starting position. 12-15 repetitions.

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