Workout Archives — ShesTough
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Category: Workout

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR AB WORKOUTS

Everybody wants a nice core. Having a toned abdomen is something most people strive for in the gym. But are you working these muscles properly? And are you getting the most out of your core workouts? Here are the top 5 ways of working your abs efficiently and maximizing results

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  • Proper breathing – one of the common mistakes people make when working their core is holding there breath and/ or breathing too quickly. The action of the inner core is actually exhaling. This means when doing core exercises, you should focus on long exhalations for greater stimulation. For example, when holding a plank inhale for 2-3 seconds and exhale for 6-8 seconds or more. You will undoubtedly feel the abs trembling more because they will be working more! For an added bonus, you can try doing a hissing, or tissing sound when exhaling. This will push your tongue towards your teeth and contract the deep layer even more. As a side note, when doing dynamic core exercises, breath at a regular rate of 1:1 inhaling: exhaling.
  • Variety of exercises – when it comes to working the core muscles, you do not want to stick with just one form of exercising, like crunches, for example. We suggest doing a combination of core stabilization like planks (with longer exhaling of course), twisting motions (like bicycle crunches, side plank twists, band, and cable twists), and dynamic ab stabilization exercises (like kettlebell or dumbbell swings, wheel rollouts, burpees, etc.). This will work your core from all angles. Remember, you are also using your core muscles when you do overhead shoulder press, single-arm dumbbell rows, deadlifts, squats, and more so don’t forget these exercises.

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  • Circuits – if you want to make those, abs work, you need to put them to work! We suggest doing circuits of 2-4 exercises back to back for the best burn. Try combining the styles mentioned above together for the best burn out. For example, a dumbbell swing followed by a bike crunch followed by a long plank.
  • HITT training – if you want to see those abs you got to make that fat sweat. Research shows that HITT training is the best for melting fat. For a supercharged effect add HITT training before or after your core routine
  • Nutrition – they say abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. Which means nutrition is key. Stick to a high protein diet with carbs before and after your workout routine. Remember carbs give you the energy to work out hard so don’t forget about them! Follow the ShesTough nutrition plan for guidance on this!

WARMING UP – WHY AND HOW

Warming up an essential part of exercise and sometimes overlooked. Lack of time, patience, and knowledge are some of the reasons why one may skip their warm-up. In this article, we will be discussing the benefits of warming up and how to warm up.

 

Exercise is known to be good stress on the body. The mind and body co-ordinate and generate movements that have been known to both enhance and maintain health/fitness levels. When the right amount of stress is used, health benefits are achieved. When the wrong amount of stress is used, the chance of physical injury is increased. This may manifest as a strain, to a muscle or tendon, a sprain to a ligament, or an insult to a nerve. Injuries often are the result of exceeding a threshold that the body is not capable of maintaining. For example, lifting too much heavyweights, doing too many repetitions, or sudden uncoordinated motion. Since injury is a major factor in ‘falling off’ a program one should take the proper precautions to avoid this setback. This is where warming up comes into play.

 

When one warms up, they drive blood throughout the working muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The joints are lubricated and the core body temperature is warmed up. The nervous system is also stimulated and prepped for the co-ordinated motion that is to be executed between the brain and body. Both of these effects strongly reduce the chances of injury by preparing the muscles, joints, and brain for the ‘good’ stress that is to come. A systemic review on studies regarding warming up (from 1966-2005), published by the Journal of Science and Medicine concluded, “the weight of evidence is in favor of a decreased risk of injury” (Fradkin, 2006).

 

Now that you hopefully see the benefits of warming up we will outline the 3 ways of warming up: Mind, muscles, and movement.

 

  • Mind – Consider the mind being the boss of the body. Before warming up the body it has been shown that there is benefit in warming up the mind first. An example of a mental work out would be visualizing yourself exercising beforehand. Visualize and imagine you are exercising with positive and successful results. A systemic research study published by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine concluded that mental imagery with physical performance together is best for improving strength (Slimani, 2016).
  • Muscles – Warming up the muscles can consist of any form of cardiovascular activity. Walking or jogging on the spot, elliptical, treadmill, and jumping jacks are all examples. Just make sure to start off gently. Consider this portion lubricating your joints, increasing your heart rate, and blood pressure, prepping your body for your exercise routine. To save time you can consider combining the first two warm-ups together (mind and muscle).
  • Movement – Rehearsing your first exercise, with no load, is crucial before training. This warms up your motor control centers, which link your brain and body together. Physically rehearsing your first exercise, with no weights, and little range of motion progressing into a full range of motion is optimal. For example, if your first exercise is a barbell squat. Begin first by doing ½ bodyweight squats for 15-20 reps. Then full bodyweight squats for 15-20 reps. This will prepare the mind and muscles together.

 

Apply these three warm-ups before exercising to see better results and avoid injury. Now go and get it, tough girl!

 

 

Resources

Fradkin, Gabbe, Cameron, F., GJ, CA. (2006, September 1). Effects of Mental Imagery on Muscular Strength in Healthy and Patient Participants: A Systematic Review. Retrieved June 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4974856/

Slimani, M., Tod, D., Chaabene, H., Miarka, B., & Chamari, K. (2016, August 5). Effects of Mental Imagery on Muscular Strength in Healthy and Patient Participants: A Systematic Review. Retrieved June 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4974856/

5 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY DURING COVID-19 SELF-ISOLATION

Today’s ShesTough article we look at 5 ways to stay healthy during self-isolation times.

1. Get Exercise

During self-isolation, it is so important you keep your body finely tuned. It is very easy to fall into the pattern of more sitting, more eating, less moving pattern when you are spending long periods inside. This leads to a lot of health issues like weight gain, poor sleeping habits, and discomfort in the spine. By exercising, you can ensure your body stays finely tuned and far away from negative consequences. Consider our in-home training programs here at ShesTough, that can keep you fit and well during the self-isolation period.

 

2. Get Fresh Air + Sunlight

Self-isolation can be a dark time for some. Excessive periods inside mixed with energy-draining stress coming from the external world can be a recipe for depression. As noted above, exercise will help you balance your body, which can also really help with decreasing stress and depression. We suggest you also get as much sunlight and fresh air in your day as possible while following social distancing guidelines. Start by opening up all your blinds and windows, let in as much sunlight and fresh air as possible. Research shows that sunlight is an excellent option for fighting off depression. Try and go for at least one social distancing walk a day. Make it as long as possible and try and focus on positive things. Something as simple as being grateful for the little things in life, like fresh air and sunlight will help the body and mind shift into a more positive state.

 

3. Settle your mind daily with Mindfulness

We are living in very stressful times. But the reality is that the external world (the world outside of us) is always shifting. What we suggest focusing on first is your own world. This begins first with your mind. Try settling your mind 1-2 per day. This can have profound effects on your emotions, ability to focus, attention span, and outlook on life. There are many mindfulness apps and programs out there you can try for free. Research shows that partaking in a mindfulness routine twice a day for 8 weeks can literally change your brain in a positive way. Imagine coming out of this self-isolation period with a better mind? Start with 10-minutes twice per day.

 

4. Stay on a routine

Routine is the key to maintaining order. If there is no order, there is chaos. We suggest developing a daily routine during these times to maintain order in your life and to decrease chaos. If you are working from home, that’s great. Before work, mid-way, and after work, try to incorporate something productive. If you are not working, try and develop a daily routine. This could include waking up exercising or meditating, reading, going on a long walk, getting groceries, cooking and exploring new recipes, and maybe even learning a new skill. The key is to stay busy and productive! The mind loves that. If you have children, you know how important it is for them to have a routine. Try incorporating a routine together with your children.

 

5. Go on a negative energy detox

Let’s face it. There is a lot of draining energy out there. It is easy to fall into the trap of being ‘energy leeched’. Your energy and positivity are at risk of being decreased every time you look at your phone, turn on your tv, or talk to someone. We suggest protecting it. Ask yourself the question, every time you listen, watch, or take in something. Did this give me energy? Did this do nothing to my energy? Did this take away my energy? If you lost energy during the process, considering decreasing this intake. Less is more. If you didn’t lose or even gained energy during this interaction, this is what we call taking care of your self. Please take care of yourself during these times. We are going through a storm, which will eventually end. To stay well during these times, we recommend following the tips mentioned above. Stay well everyone

MORNING TRAINING FOR FAT LOSS

Is morning training the secret to fat loss?

When it comes to weight loss, the first piece of advice you hear is “cut down on your food, and skip breakfast.” Although the idea of skipping breakfast looks tasty, it does you more harm than good in the long run. With no breakfast, you don’t have the energy to carry out your morning training, and this could increase muscle loss, and decrease your efficiency. The combination of these points means your fat loss program won’t give you any results.

However, there is a better way. You don’t have to skip breakfast to lose weight. You can carry out your training in the morning, eat breakfast, and still lose weight. What you need to do is quite simple; Eat protein before you workout.

You want to burn fat, and increase your fat loss? Then eat as much as 20 to 25 grams of protein (deli meats, chicken, whey protein, or lean meat) before you workout, and use any of the two strategies below.

 

Lower-intensity (only for times when doing morning workouts)

This refers to training with low amounts of carbs. When you eat carbohydrates, your body either stores them up or uses them as glycogen (body fuel) for later use. In training low, your body uses the stored carbs rather than what you eat in the morning.

When you sleep, your body uses a good amount of glycogen to maintain energy levels. When glycogen is in limited supply, your body has to look for energy in fats. This is the advantage of training low. Your body ends up burning fat, rather than glycogen in your muscles.

On your “training low days,” focus on cardiovascular exercise rather than lifting. For days when you are not training low, then high-intensity exercises like powerlifting would be ideal. Generally, your body uses stored carbs as fuel when you increase the intensity of your training. So, doing any high-intensity workout on your “train low” days will compromise your efforts.

 

Take advantage of Medium-Chain Triglycerides

Start your day with a low-carb; high protein meal can help your fat loss goals. The reason why such combo works is that it facilitates the break down of fat stored in the body. This breakdown of fats stored by the body can be expedited using Medium-chain Triglycerides. MCT can be gotten from dairy products or even coconut oil. MCTs are also available in the form of supplements.

The presence of MCTs in the body means your body has more energy it needs for your morning training while leading to more fat burnout.

 

Intermittent fasting 

How does it work?

  • Stop eating from 8pm.
  • Have 2 glasses of water in the morning.
  • A sugarless caffeine drink (example coffee, pre-workout, tea, etc)
  • Then complete a shestough workout routine.
  • Remember to stay hydrated!
  • Consume foods again by 1:00pm

4 FITNESS MYTHS THAT ARE MESSING WITH YOUR RESULTS

Shestough shares 4 common fitness myths that are sabotaging your results..

 

  • You have to work out every day.

This is untrue. Research shows that 2 interval sessions per week alone can bring forth results. We recommend at least 2 interval cardio days and 2 weight- training circuits per week to start. Outside of this, the main focus should be on the diet, as this is the key factor in driving results and pushing past plateaus. Once your diet is in check, you should see better results.

  • You have to train for over an hour.

Your exercise duration doesn’t need to be long, but it has to be effective. Research shows that shorter duration exercise routines with more intensity are more effective than longer exercise routines with less intensity. Working out for over an hour can spike your stress hormone and leave your energy depleted at the end. Over time this can actually work against you and slow your metabolism down, which means less muscle building/toning and more body fat gain. Try circuit training, drop set training, and interval training. These modalities can be as short as 20 minutes in length and leave you sweating buckets at the end, without the expense of slowing your metabolism down.

  • Low carb diets

While going lower carb for strictly, weight loss holds some truth; you must be careful. Going too low can significantly affect your energy levels. With low energy levels, you will struggle to push yourself to an intensity needed to see results in your workouts. Try consuming at least one fist portion of carbs per day. If your energy is still low in your workouts, up your carbs to two fist portions, spread out of two different meals. Stick with low glycemic complex carbs like dark fruit, root vegetables, and whole grains.

  • You can out-train a bad diet or poor sleeping habits.

A poor diet and sleeping patterns will automatically increase your stress hormone in your body. Too much stress hormone will put your body into survival mode. Survival mode consists of putting your biological needs before your performance goals. This means fat-storing, aka energy preservation. Get your blood sugar levels healthy by eating a balanced meal plan that consists of clean proteins, veggies, healthy fats, and complex carbs. For sleep, aim for at least 6 hours per night. If sleep is an issue, try doing an Epsom salt bath, meditation, walking, or a stretch out before bed-time. Blue light blocking glasses are also a great idea if you tend to have lots of screen time once the sun goes down. Finally, make sure your room is as dark as possible. Invest in blackout blinds so you can stay asleep all night long.

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