Top 10 Dieting Mistakes And Avoiding Them!
1. You Call It A Diet
You tell yourself "dieting is all mental" but you are going to fail if you make that error because what are the first 3 letters of the word "diet" (DIE)... yes exactly! You have to get into the right frame of mind when it comes to your meal plans and mentally replace the connotation of "diet" with "lifestyle". Instead of calling and thinking of it as a change of diet, call and think of it as a change of lifestyle choices and you'll succeed in your fitness dreams. After all, our diet and what we eat is a part of our lifestyle, so if we change that, we are in effect changing our whole lifestyle.
2 - Not Getting Enough Protein
Protein is the stuff muscle and strength dreams are made of! The dreams of bodybuilders and fitness models that is! Not only will protein help you build and maintain lean muscle, but it is a vital building block to any weight training program. The #1 most bio-available form of protein is egg whites because your body assimilates it into the muscle the quickest. The next most important form of protein is whey protein which is your protein powder. You can also get lots of protein through, chicken, fish, lean red meat.
3 - Starving Yourself For The Sake Of Vanity
Nobody should ever starve themselves. Period. You will only end up harming your body and any weight that you manage to lose during a starvation streak will only come back to haunt you double-time. Your body will go out of whack and go into survival mode by going after your muscle tone (not the fat) and will only leave you feeling weak and "skinny fat". Eating more maintains an already healthy level of blood glucose which gives us steady energy levels throughout the day. Steady energy comes from steady intake of foods. By eating 3 meals and 2 snacks per day you will boost your metabolism and your body will burn stored fat (provided that you are exercising on a regular basis). Remember, when calories are consumed, there is a thermic effect that takes place, and your metabolism rises in order to process those calories. Love your body and do things the right way; patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to your fitness journey.
4 - Assuming That All Salads Are Created Equal!
Don't be hasty the next time you order a salad. Extras like cheese, tortilla strips, crispy noodles & nuts can add hundreds of calories. Also be careful when you eat out- it is not uncommon for restaurants to pour 500 calories worth of dressing on your salad. Salads with 1,000 - 1,800 calories are definitely a case of diet sabotage in its most disguised form. Take the time to think about what you are about to eat before you order. Tell the waiter that you want your dressing on the side and no croutons or "extras". A great trick that helps me is to dip my fork in the dressing before I reach into the salad bowl. This way I am not sacrificing flavor or adding hundreds upon thousands of calories to my "healthy lunch". It's all about finding that happy medium people!
5 - Being Un-Informed On What You're Eating
Know what you are eating and also don't be so quick to accept the "low-fat" or "fat-free" alternatives that restaurants offer. Did you know that a low-fat muffin can have 400 calories, and "healthy" wraps often have 600 - 700 calories each? Take the time to learn the nutritional value of your choices before ordering. It is also important to know your daily caloric intake. While you don't need to neurotic about every bite you take throughout the day, it's always in your favor to have a ball-park figure of what you need to consume to maintain and/or lose weight.
6 - Going To The Grocery Store Hungry
You will overspend and most importantly buy things you don't want and don't need! I don't care how strong your willpower is, you will just be setting yourself up for self-sabotage if you do this, so make sure to snack before you shop! Be smart and implement a food shopping strategy. Designate one day a week as your shopping and food preparation day. By developing this ritual, you become more organized and disciplined. I like to do my grocery shopping on Sunday evenings- I feel like I have the whole store to myself on those days and I ALWAYS go grocery shopping when my stomach is already full to make sure I can resist any cravings that pop up when I see the delicious treats available for sale at every grocery store (ie. chocolate bars)!
7 - Skipping Breakfast
Your mom was right when she said that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Always make sure to eat within the first hour after rising in order to jumpstart your metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. People think that they are saving calories when they skip breakfast but it's really quite the opposite. Make sure to have your "Breakfast of Champions" and that you have a balance of protein and complex carbs Ex: egg whites and oatmeal. While you may not be hungry first thing in the morning, forcing yourself to eat or drink something is one of the most beneficial things you can do... Learn more about why breakfast is so important!
8 - Drinking Your Calories
One recent study found that North Americans get approximately 21% of their calories from beverages. Liquid calories from alcohol, coffee with cream and sugar, sweetened juices, smoothies and sodas contribute to weight gain. Instead, eat your calories in form of quality proteins and complex and fibrous carbs and opt to drink plenty of water. Water, as you know is the most essential element and also aids in helping flush the system. Doctors recommend that you take in seven to eight glasses every day, to help flush out toxins and other wastes, so if you are not normally a "water drinker" buy yourself a refillable bottle of water to keep by your desk at work and drink up! A water bottle doesn't get much more durable than one built with stainless steel. This lightweight, good looking stainless steel water bottle is labeled with the sleek Bodybuilding.com logo. It's pull out nozzle allows air to enter the bottle while you drink for an easy, even flow.
9 - Fast Food Fix
Hitting the drive-through once in awhile isn't such a big deal - the problem is that if you do it one time, you're much more likely to swing by again. Fast food has chemicals and hormones that make it addictive and those who frequent fast food restaurants are more likely to pack on the pounds and also lead to an increased risk of a variety of diseases.
10 - Letting Cravings Take Over
Unlike the every day normal hunger that we all feel every day, cravings, are strong yearnings for certain foods, seem to be linked to our mind's reward system. Emotions, situations, or pleasant associations (your mom rewarded you with vanilla ice cream and a handful of animal crackers if you did all of your chores when you were little) can trigger a craving. It's true that when you eat a food you long for, your brain releases dopamine, a natural chemical related to pleasure.
TOP 15 MUSCLE BUILDING FOODS
1 - BEEF (GRASS-FED CATTLE BEEF)
Beef is important for building lean muscle due to its protein content, cholesterol, zinc, B vitamins and iron content. Beef from grass-fed cattle have much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventionally raised cattle, which gives you a boost in shedding bodyfat and building lean muscle.
2 - BEETS
A good source of betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, this nutrient not only enhances liver and joint repair, but also has been shown in clinical research to increase muscle strength and power. Beets also provide an NO boost which can ehance energy and aid recovery.
3 - BROWN RICE
A slow-digesting whole grain that provides you longer-lasting energy throughout the day, and during workouts. Brown rice also can help boost your growth hormone (GH) levels, which are critical for encouraging lean muscle growth, fat loss and strength gains.
BROWN RICE HELPS BOOST YOUR GROWTH HORMONE (GH) LEVELS
4 - ORANGES
Another good fruit that can actually help to boost muscle growth, strength and endurance, especially when eaten before workouts.
5 - CANTALOUPE
Due to it's relatively low fructose content, this melon is one of the few fruits that is actually a fast-digesting carb. That makes it a good carb to have first thing in the morning after a long night of fasting and one of the few good fruits to eat after workouts.
6 - COTTAGE CHEESE (ORGANIC)
Rich in casein protein, cottage cheese is a great go-to protein source, especially before bed. Casein protein is the slowest-digesting protein you can eat, meaning it prevents your muscles from being used as an energy source while you fast during the night.
7 - EGGS
Eggs are known as the perfect protein, but their ability to boost lean muscle and strength gains isn't due to just the protein alone. It gets a lot of help from the yolks, where the cholesterol is found. If you're worried about your cholesterol shooting up from eating the yolks, cholesterol from eggs has been shown to decrease the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol particles associated with atherosclerosis. Eggs are known as the perfect protein
EGGS ARE KNOWN AS THE PERFECT PROTEIN.
8 - MILK (ORGANIC)
Contains both whey and casein and is rich in the amino acid glutamine. Organic milk has about 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.
9 - QUINOA
A complete protein in addition to being a slow-digesting carb, quinoa has been linked with an increase in insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels, an important factor associated with lean muscle and strength gains.
10 - WONKA PIXY STIX
These contain dextrose, meaning this carb doesn't even need to be digested - it literally goes straight into your bloodstream, getting those carbs straight to your muscles for the fastest recovery possible after workouts.
11 - SPINACH
A good source of glutamine, the amino acid that is important for lean muscle growth. In addition to glutamine, spinach can increase muscle strength and endurance. Spinach is a good source of glutamine, the amino acid that is important for lean muscle growth
SPINACH IS A GOOD SOURCE OF GLUTAMINE, THE AMINO ACID THAT IS IMPORTANT FOR LEAN MUSCLE GROWTH.
12 - APPLES
The specific polyphenols in apples help to increase muscle strength and prevent muscle fatigue, allowing you to train harder for longer. Other research also shows that these polyphenols can increase fat burning as well. That's why it's a good idea to make apples a pre-workout carb source.
13 - GREEK YOGURT
Like plain yogurt, Greek yogurt starts from the same source: milk. Greek yogurt, however, has more protein (a whopping 20 g per cup) and fewer carbs (9 g per cup) than regular yogurt (16 g protein, 16 g carbs per cup). It's also a good source of casein protein.
14 - EZEKIAL 4:9 BREAD
Ezekiel bread is made from organic sprouted whole grains. Because it contains grains and legumes, the bread is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the amino acids your body can't produce on its own - the ones needed for lean muscle growth.
15 - WHEAT GERM
Rich in zinc, iron, selenium, potassium and B vitamins, high in fiber and protein, with a good amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), arginine and glutamine. This makes wheat germ a great source of slow-digesting carbohydrates and a quality protein that's a perfect food before workouts.
TOP 15 FAT-BURNING FOODS
1 - WALNUTS
All nuts do contain some amount of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, but most only contain trace amounts.
The real fat hero in most nuts is mono-unsaturated fats. Walnuts are actually a rich source of omega-3s. One ounce provides almost 3g of alpha-linolenic acid.
2 - GINGER
Used for centuries to help relieve digestive upset/disturbances, ginger can also help reduce inflammation, boost blood flow to muscles and aid muscle recovery. It has also has been shown to boost calorie burn when eaten.
3 - OATMEAL
This very slow-digesting carb keeps blood sugar and insulin levels low, so fat burning can stay high. In fact, research has shown that athletes who consume slow-digesting carbs in the morning burn more fat throughout the entire day and during workouts than those consuming fast-digesting carbs.
4 - AVOCADO
The mono-unsaturated fats found in avocados are burned readily for fuel during exercise and actually encourage fat burning. Avocados also contain a very interesting carb called mannoheptulose, a sugar that actually blunts insulin release and enhances calcium absorption, both of which are critical for encouraging fat loss.
5 - SALMON
This fish is one of the richest sources of the omega-3 essential fats EPA and DHA. Unlike flaxseeds, which provide a type of omega-3 that has to be converted into EPA and DHA, salmon provides your body a direct supply of them with no conversion required. This way you know you're getting a direct supply of the fats that turn on fat burning and block fat storage.
6 - SOYBEANS (EDAMAME)
Soybeans are the direct origin of soy protein, which has been shown to build muscle as efficiently as other forms of protein like whey and beef. Soy has also been shown to aid fat loss, possibly by decreasing appetite and calorie intake.
7 - WATER
Most people don't think of water as a food, but it is, and a critical one at that because the human body is approximately made up of 70% water. This just may be your best ally in fighting bodyfat. Studies have shown that drinking 2 cups of cold water can boost metabolic rate by 30%. It has been estimated that drinking about 2 cups of cold water before breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for a year can burn 17,400 extra calories, which translates into a little more than 5 pounds of bodyfat!
WATER JUST MAY BE YOUR BEST ALLY IN FIGHTING BODYFAT.
8 - FLAXSEEDS
They contain the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid. These omega-3 fats have been found to turn on genes that stimulate fat burning and turn off genes that increase fat storage.
9 - GRAPEFRUIT
A study from the Scripps Clinic (San Diego, California) reported that subjects eating half of a grapefruit or drinking 8 oz of grapefruit juice three times a day while maintaining their normal diet lost an average of 4 pounds over 12 weeks - and some lost more than 10 pounds without even dieting! Results were likely due to grapefruit's ability to reduce insulin levels and to a chemical in grapefruit known as naringin, which prevents fat from being stored in the body.
10 - HONEY
Yes, it's a sugar, but it's fairly low on the glycemic index. Keeping insulin levels low and steady is critical for maintaining a fat-burning environment in your body.
Honey is also a rich source of nitric oxide (NO) metabolites; ultimately, that means it actually encourages fat release from the body's fat cells
11 - PEANUT BUTTER
Another source of helpful mono-unsaturated fat that can actually aid fat loss. What's funny is that many food manufacturers make low-fat peanut butters!
Of course, they replace these healthy mono-unsaturated fats with carbs, namely sugar. Avoid these and stick with natural peanut butters that don't add the type of fat you surely want to avoid - trans fats.
12 - EGGS
Yes, I listed eggs in the muscle-building foods too. So how can it also be a fat-burning food as well? Research supports the notion that those who start their day with eggs not only eat fewer calories throughout the day, but also lose significantly more bodyfat.
13 - CHILI PEPPER FLAKES
Hot peppers contain the active ingredient capsaicin, a chemical that can enhance calorie burning at rest as well as reduce hunger and food intake. The boost in calorie burn is particularly enhanced when capsaicin is used with caffeine.
14 - BROCCOLI
This fibrous carb doesn't provide many net carbs or calories, but it can make you feel full - one reason why it's a great food for getting lean.
BROCCOLI ALSO CONTAINS PHYTOCHEMICALS THAT CAN HELP ENHANCE FAT LOSS.
15 - OLIVE OIL
Like avocados, olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats. Not only do they lower levels of the "bad" type of cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health, but they're also more likely to be burned as fuel, which means they're less likely to be sticking around your midsection.
TYPES OF CARDIO TO MELT FAT THE FASTEST
What are the benefits and which methods are best when it comes to aerobic training? I will discuss those in detail right here. Included are sample aerobic activities and guidelines to follow. Learn more now!
Losing stubborn body fat and getting into one's best possible shape may require at least some aerobic activity. The range of aerobic methods available and the different ways in which to engage in cardio are many - enough to cause confusion for those wanting to shed excess weight to reveal their hard-won muscles.
Question is: what are the best methods of aerobic exercise? Is there a perfect way to lose fat through cardiovascular means, and if so, what is it? Aerobic activity by its very nature requires fat to be used as a primary fuel source, with carbohydrates and protein being used to a smaller extent. Therefore it is obvious that in order to lose fat, some degree of aerobic work will need to be done.
However, the type of aerobic work needed for fat loss is a subject open to much debate. Aerobic activities (typically done at a moderate intensity, although higher intensity aerobics has been shown burn more calories) constitute any form of exercise that is repetitive, long, and hard enough to challenge the heart and lungs to use oxygen as a fuel source to sustain the body over a longer period (15 to 20 minutes or longer).
Aerobic activities can include:
With aerobic exercise, oxygen, fats and carbohydrates combine to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the basic fuel source for all cells.
However, given that fat is a more efficient fuel source for aerobic activity - as the body has greater fat stores (which are more easily mobilized in the presence of oxygen) compared to carbohydrates and proteins - it will be used preferentially during aerobic activity, which lasts longer than the short-burst glycogen-using anaerobic activity.
So, aerobic activity done at a moderate intensity (50-75 percent of Maximal Heart Rate [MHR], or within the mythological fat burning zone) appears to burn more actual fat, but does it help with greater fat losses over the longer term? Some researchers suggest not.
It appears that exercising aerobically at a higher percentage of MHR (75% or more) burns more in the way of total calories, which adds up to greater fat total losses. (Max Heart Rate is easily calculated by subtracting your age from 220.)
As long as the exercise is performed within the aerobic zone (using oxygen), and does not become anaerobic in nature (instead drawing from carbohydrates for fuel), the higher the intensity the better.
If more total calories are used, as opposed to a comparatively small amount of fat - as is the case with low intensity aerobics - these calories are less likely to be stored and fat losses will be much greater. With higher intensity aerobics, the body ultimately burns a smaller percentage of fat calories from a much larger number of total calories, so in the end more fat calories will be used.
This is not to say that low-intensity aerobics are worthless. As explained later, they do have their place. However, if one is to burn the largest degree of body fat in the shortest amount of time, higher intensity aerobics seem to be the superior method. Let us turn now to the benefits of high intensity versus low intensity aerobics.
All forms of aerobic training will provide many similar benefits, while high intensity and low intensity methods (although both within the so-called fat burning aerobic zone) have benefits specific to their respective functions.
To determine the exact intensity needed to benefit from a specific aerobic method, first it is important to determine lower and higher end target heart rates (THR). The low end of the target zone is 55% of your MHR. The high end of the target zone is 80% of your MHR. Use the calculator above to determine these numbers (or just subtract your age from 220, then multiply the result by .55 and .80, respectively.)
Aerobic exercise (regardless of intensity) will help to:
Aerobic Training Methods & Their Advantages
Once the appropriate aerobic intensity has been decided upon (depending on one's training goals), the type of aerobic exercise to be used can be chosen. Some types are naturally of a higher intensity, while others are lower in intensity; some are suitable for specific sporting goals, while others are best for achieving low body fat for physical definition.
The keys to choosing a good aerobic activity include finding one that is enjoyable and effective to ensure it is used consistently to good effect.
1. Walking (Burns 300-400 Calories per Hour)
Once thought of as a perfect aerobic exercise for fat burning and overall health, walking is now considered one of the least effective of the aerobic methods.
Although great for beginners or those with injury or who are obese, walking probably is not the best form of exercise for losing weight and achieving fitness, as it is of a much lower intensity compared to other methods.
It is thought that the lower the intensity of an activity, the smaller the number of calories burned per unit of time (it is also thought that 15 minutes of cycling will burn more calories than a 45 minute walk at moderate pace).
Furthermore, metabolism will increase on average for only one-two hours after walking, as opposed to higher intensity aerobic activity where it can be increased for up to 24 hours or longer.
Walking can be used for the following purposes:
2. Running (Burns Around 600 Calories per Hour)
A higher intensity method compared to walking, running (not sprinting, which is anaerobic) is an efficient, although high impact way to lose body fat and improve cardiorespiratory fitness.
The main benefit to running for weight loss purposes is that it is sufficiently high intensity to burn a greater number of calories, while stimulating the metabolic rate for a longer period afterward.
For fat burning purposes, the variation on running that could be considered is jogging, as this method - although higher intensity aerobic - does not cross the anaerobic threshold to burn carbohydrates as a primary fuel source. Running, as does walking, involves all of the lower body, only on a much larger scale.
Specifically, it works the hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius & soleus muscles (calves) to provide a great lower body workout. Running also recruits arms, therefore providing an additional calorie burning effect.
Running can be used for the following purposes:
3. Cycling (Burns Around 600 Calories per Hour)
Cycling involves the same muscles as does running, but has the added advantage of being lower impact, therefore making it ideal for virtually anyone (with the exclusion of those with certain injuries).
It can be done on either a stationary bike (the preferred option for those wanting to specifically burn body fat, as there might be fewer distractions with this method), or on the road.
Either of these approaches will suit almost anyone (regardless of cardiovascular goals) as the resistance can be changed to accommodate preferences in intensity level. Cycling is also ideal for HIIT (as will be explained later) as the resistance can be changed from lower to higher in rapid fashion. For bodybuilders, cycling can also carve definition in the frontal quad muscles allowing for greater separation come competition time.
Cycling as an aerobic activity can be useful for the following reasons:
4. Rowing (Burns Around 840 Calories per Hour)
Rowing on a machine provides an excellent total body workout, in addition to being a great high intensity way to strip body fat. It could be considered the perfect exercise as it works all the main muscles of the body, is of higher intensity than walking and of lower impact than running, and burns more calories per hour than any other commonly used aerobic exercise (around 840 per hour).
Rowing as an aerobic activity can be useful for the following reasons:
5. Swimming (Burns Around 600 Calories per Hour)
Like rowing, swimming provides a great total body workout, while burning a high number of calories. It is also very low impact as the body is working in a weightless environment (water), and, as a result, there is little risk of injury.
Using the common freestyle stroke will work well for most people, but if at all possible use a variety of strokes in order to place an emphasis on different muscle groups - this change in intensity will help to burn more calories.
Swimming is a great aerobic activity for:
6. Jumping Rope (Burns Over 1000 Calories per Hour)
Although a very high impact activity, jumping rope can provide a great aerobic workout if done correctly. It can also add definition to the calves and shoulders, as it works these muscle groups quite vigorously. Probably one of the harder aerobic methods, correctly jumping rope involves a tremendous amount of skill, strength, focus and patience.
Not commonly used as an aerobic method, jumping rope burns a higher number of calories per hour than rowing (over 1000) and is best used for shorter periods, as it might lead to impact injuries of the lower leg or hip if done continuously for too long.
Once mastered, jumping rope is an effective way to:
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is one of the newer and more effective ways to burn body fat. As many have experienced, HIIT provides an intensive aerobic option, which takes a fraction of the time to complete compared to the more traditional cardio methods.
As the name suggests, HIIT incorporates both high intensity aerobic work with a very high intensity component to provide a maximal fat burning effect, and an increased metabolic rate that can last for over 24 hours after training.
Regular aerobic training (although beneficial for fat burning) can place the body into a steady state in that the same pace is maintained throughout. This means the body has adjusted itself to the speed it is going and will try to conserve calories. With HIIT, the steady state problem can be avoided as the intensity is shifted every minute or so.
An example of a HIIT workout is as follows:
Using cycling as an aerobic method, work at a moderate to high intensity pace (75-80 percent of MHR) for two minutes. Quickly change the intensity so that work rate is increased significantly (over 90 percent of MHR) for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat this process for up to 30 minutes. Running, rowing or swimming are also methods that can be used in a similar context with HIIT.
HIIT is perfect for:
Aerobic Training Guidelines
As with any form of training, aerobic exercise should be taken slowly during the initial stages of training, especially if one is overweight or in an otherwise untrained state. Walking would be a perfect activity for the novice trainee as it is much less demanding than many of the other methods, and is relatively low impact.
Training too hard too soon might result in injury or burnout. It is also important to start out gradually at the beginning of a workout (if the activity is of a higher intensity) to warm the muscles and lubricate the joints for the work ahead.
Work within the Target Heart Rate Range
Although the concept of a fat burning zone has been discredited, it is still important to stay within a specified target heart rate range to ensure the body is working at its full capacity. Using the formula given earlier, one could determine the lower and upper limits of the target heart rate range and plan the session accordingly.
Try to work at the upper end if possible to gain greater benefits. Working below the target heart rate range will produce very little effect, while training beyond it could lead to injury.
Do Not Overdo It
Cardio should be done safely at all times. Trying to do too much will probably have an opposite effect to what is trying to be achieved. Fat burning and other health benefits will occur, so long as the session is no longer than 45 minutes to one hour (this is usually accepted as the appropriate length of time for one who is in good health).
Going beyond this could lead to a repetitive strain injury (depending on the type of activity used), and burn a great of muscle, which will ultimately cause the metabolism to slow down, therefore restricting fat loss. In conjunction with a weight-training program (aerobics and weight training combined is the best way to achieve total fitness), cardio will need to be carefully monitored so that overtraining does not occur.
Do Enough to Produce an Effect (The Significance Of Intensity, Time and Frequency)
To get the most from any aerobic training program, it is best to plan the intensity, time, and duration to ensure a sufficient training effect. These variables will change depending on what stage one is at and the specific goals they have.
For a general fitness aerobic program (for a moderately well-conditioned trainee) working on a cycle, intensity would be between 70 and 85 percent of MHR, time would be between 45 minutes and one hour and frequency would be four times a week. For a less-advanced trainee, less would be required.
Drink Water Before, During and After Training
Given aerobic training causes a great deal of fluid to be lost through sweat and body heat, it is important to drink water before, during (depending on the duration of training) and after exercising. Training aerobically without sufficient water intake (especially in the heat) may lead to dehydration and a reduction in performance so keep hydrated at all times.
To get into great shape, it is generally accepted that some aerobic training will be needed. However the type of training and the methods used will differ from person to person, and to achieve superior results it is important to select an activity that will work to ones best advantage.
It is hoped this article will have made clear the benefits aerobic training holds and the methods available.
CARDIO WORKOUTS: FIXING THEM
Cardio machines help you work very hard in a very short period of time, making a morning or lunchtime workout an exercise in efficiency. But most people don't use the machines correctly. Fix your mistakes during your cardio workout and exercises and you'll get more calorie burn for the effort.
The mistake: Too much bouncing up and down. Your head should remain relatively level while running; otherwise you'll tire out your joints—and yourself—too soon.
The fix: Improve flexibility to smooth out your stride. Try leg swings—hold the handlebar, stand on one leg, and swing the other back and forth, keeping your upper body still. This will loosen your legs.
The mistake: Too many long, steady, flat runs.
The fix: Run shorter and harder, mixing speeds and inclines to create intervals. Start with a 2 percent incline, and over several sessions work up to 10 percent. Just walk at steep inclines.
The mistake: The seat is too low or too high. A low seat fatigues the legs and stresses knees. Set it too high and your hips rock from side to side, which is inefficient.
The fix: Adjust the seat, people! Sit on the seat and place your heel in the middle of the pedal, where the ball of your foot would normally go. You want your leg fully extended, at the lowest point of the pedal rotation. By moving your foot to the correct position on the pedal, you'll have the right amount of bend.
The mistake: Cruising instead of charging.
The fix: Vary the intensity, with 2 to 3 minutes of high-cadence pedaling and a 3-minute recovery and then repeat for 15 minutes. Stand occasionally which will add another dimension to your workout, standing requires more muscle not only to push the pedals, but also to support and balance your body.
The mistake: Too little resistance. Many people allow momentum to do the work for them instead of propelling the step with their leg muscles.
The fix: Set the resistance correctly to be able to feel that you are pushing the ramp down when you make a revolution rather than flipping around freely.
The mistake: Getting bored.
The fix: Do intervals. It will force you to reach a higher intensity of training for a sustained period of time. Try 90-second blasts every few minutes, with recoveries twice as long. Reduce recovery time as your fitness level increases.
The mistake: Holding yourself up with your arms. A lot of people put their hands on the railing and lock their elbows with arms straight down. That's like using crutches.
The fix: Rest your hands lightly on the bars only for balance. Keep your body upright, with just a slight lean forward.
The mistake: Too little resistance.
The fix: Go slower, with challenging resistance. You'll give yourself a tougher workout, increase your heart rate and maintain your time in the training zone longer. Result: You'll burn extra fat in the long run.
The mistake: Your hands bump your knees, which throws off your cadence.
The fix: Take a tip from rowing crews to create a fluid motion: Think of the stroke as a dance, counting 1-2-3 and 3-2-1. On 1, push with your legs; on 2, "swing up" your body by leaning back; on 3, draw your arms to the bottom of your rib cage, spinning the flywheel. Then reverse it: 3, extend your arms; 2, swing your body forward from the hips; 1, bring your legs up after the handle passes your knees.
The mistake: A long, steady slog, which leads to inefficient exercise. You're spending too much time rowing at a moderate intensity.
The fix: With medium resistance, do four to six 10-minute sets of high-intensity rowing with 2 to 3 minutes of rest in between. This will allow your heart rate to come down a bit so you can regroup with intense effort. Result: You'll expend more calories and get out of the gym quicker.
8 Cardio Myths That Are Making You Fat
These common misconceptions might be keeping your scale stuck, but there are easy ways to change that and lose more weight
1. Weight Loss = Focus on Cardio over Strength Training
All cardio and no strength isn't just boring, it may cause you to burn fewer calories overall. “Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which both increases your metabolism and decreases fat,” says celebrity trainer Elizabeth Hendrix Burwell, co-owner of High Performance Gym. “So the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn on a day-to-day basis."
Some strength training workouts can even double as cardio: A recent study by the American Council on Exercise found that kettlebell exercises can burn up to 20 calories a minute—the equivalent of running at a 6-minute mile pace! Maximize your weekly workouts’ weight-loss benefits by incorporating up to four non-consecutive days a week of resistance-based exercise such as kettlebells, TRX, and weight lifting (our Real Secret to Skinny Workout is a great one to try).
2. Do Cardio First then Hit the Weights
This age-old question is about as common as the chicken-or-the-egg conundrum: Should you start with cardio or strength training? “If you’re hitting the treadmill for an intense cardio session and then plan to hit the weights afterward, you’ll have little left in your tank to make your resistance training count,” says Lindsay Vastola, a certified trainer and founder of Body Project Fitness and Lifestyle. When it comes to doing a full, high-intensity cardio session and an entire resistance training workout, perform each on separate days, Vastola says, so you can give both your all and burn more calories in the process.
3. You Should Burn At Least 500 Calories During Your Cardio Sessions
Slogging away on the treadmill to hit some magic number is a waste of time and energy since machines can only roughly estimate your metabolic rate, Vastola says. Ignore the red digits on the console and focus on intensity instead. If you work harder in shorter bursts, you’ll burn more calories even after your workout is over. Use a heart rate monitor (aim to stay between 75 to 85 percent of your max heart rate) or the rate of perceived exertion scale of 1 to 10 (strive for an 8 or 9 on high-intensity intervals) to determine if you're working hard enough.
4. Stay in the "Fat-Burning Zone" When Trying to Lose Weight
Your body does burn fat as fuel during lower-intensity workouts (a.k.a. the "fat-burning zone" of about 65 percent of your max)—however that's not necessarily what you need to focus on for weight loss. What counts the most is your overall calorie expenditure, not the fuel source. “The higher the intensity of your workout, the more total calories you will burn," says Marta Montenegro, a certified strength and conditioning coach and adjunct professor of exercise and sports sciences at Florida International University. That burn lasts up to 24 hours after your last rep or step, and studies show you’ll shrink your belly fat faster, she adds.
But before you go switching all of your cardio sessions to high-intensity, maximum-effort training, remember that this type of exercise isn’t without its risks, such as injury and over-training fatigue. Montenegro recommends alternating between low- and high-intensity workouts to give your body proper time to recover and build consistency. For example, do your high-intensity interval training on Mondays and Thursdays, low- to moderate-intensity on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and mix in some yoga or strength on Tuesdays and Fridays.
5. Cardio on an Empty Stomach Burns More Fat
You can't drive a car without gas, so why expect something different from your body? The trouble with this theory is that the large muscles that power you through your cardio exercise rely heavily on a combination of carbs and fats for energy. When you run or bike on an empty stomach, your body will turn to the carb and fat fragments in your bloodstream and muscle stores, not to the fat in your fat cells to energize your workout, says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University. This strategy could completely backfire, she adds, as you may become hyperglycemic and low on hydration, which can cause you to cut back on the intensity or stop before you've put in the 40 to 50 minutes research has shown is necessary for your body to burn fat.
Skip the pre-gym fast and show up ready rock (and torch major calories) by fueling up about 90 minutes before your workout. Olson suggests something light and easy to digest, such as a small piece of fruit and half a cup of low-fat yogurt sprinkled with a couple of tablespoons of granola, or try one of these pre-workout snacks. And be sure to wash it down with one or two full glasses of water.
6. Training for a Race is a Great Way to Slim Down
There a tons of benefits to running a 5K or marathon—improved cardiovascular fitness, more stamina, working out for a good cause if you run for charity—but seeing the number on the scale go down isn't necessarily one of them. All the training you do to cross the finish line makes your body efficient at conserving energy so you can go the distance, and as you increase endurance, you’ll gradually start burning fewer calories during your runs, says Jon-Erik Kawamoto, a certified personal trainer, strength coach, and former competitive runner. Great for your race, but the exact opposite of what you need to lose fat. Couple that with the common increase in appetite—and subsequent increased calorie intake—and some runners may in fact gain weight.
To meet your race goals and shed a few pounds in the process, supplement your running program with up to three resistance training workouts a week that focus on equally working opposing muscle groups (such as your back and chest) and improving joint mobility and function to build strength and burn additional calories, Kawamoto says. He also suggests switching out one day of running for a cross-training cardio workout to help prevent injury and offer a new challenge to your cardiovascular system. And don't forget to be sure you're eating plan provides the nutrients your body needs without adding unnecessary calories.
7. Always Split Up Cardio and Strength
Now to totally confuse you: While often it's beneficial to split up your sessions if both are at a killer intensity, there are times when fusing strength and cardio can be both efficient and effective. In one study, people who cycled for 20 minutes in the middle of a resistance workout saw a greater metabolic impact post-exercise than those who hopped on the bikes before or after lifting weights. "This means your calorie-burning metabolism will stay on fire after the exercise session has ended," Montenegro says. So next time you can’t decide between cardio or strength, why not perform both? An easy way to do is to use the treadmill as active rest between strength sets.
8. If You Do Enough Cardio, You Can Eat Whatever You Want and Still Lose
We only wish!!! Not only do most of us (and the machines we work out on) overestimate how many calories we burn during our workouts, we underestimate how many calories we’re eating too.
Exercise alone just isn’t effective enough to burn fat, says Bret Contreras, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. “A recent study suggests that the average obese person loses approximately five pounds of fat over the course of eight months through cardio or resistance training alone,” he says. That’s an awful lot of work for very minimal results, so don't forget the "calories in" side of the equation and follow a healthy diet that delivers the calories you need to eat to lose weight.
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This gold-medal muscle exercise can be done anywhere in your chest workout, but where you slot it affects how you perform it.
While the barbell bench press is often considered the top mass builder on chest day, its cousin, the dumbbell bench press, isn't far behind. In fact, many lifters swear that dumbbells yield better muscle-building results than the bar.
Of course, execution has a lot to say about the effectiveness of either type of weight. But it's clear that even though you sacrifice a little in terms of load when going from the barbell to dumbbells, the latter offers some benefits the former can't offer.
Let's dig into them, and analyze how you might place this move in your chest workout.
What's So Great About The Dumbbell Bench Press?
Each side works independently during dumbbell presses, which allows you to identify and correct strength deficiencies between sides. The dumbbell version is also more difficult; it can have a longer range of motion, and it requires greater muscle-stabilizer activation to keep the weights stable. If you've got sore shoulders that are aggravated when doing barbell presses, you may even find that dumbbells allow more freedom around your shoulder joints—and less pain.
In short, the flat-bench dumbbell press is likely a solid addition to just about every bodybuilder’s chest routine. How you approach it on chest day, however, depends on what position you put it in your workout order. Let's consider how you should do flat-bench dumbbell presses if you perform them at the beginning of your routine, and how that differs from doing them in the middle or at the end.
Beginning of Workout: Keep It at 6 and then Bring Intensity
The dumbbell bench is an excellent substitute for the barbell bench press, though it can quickly get dicey if you want to do very low reps with very heavy weights, or single-rep max training. It's more difficult to spot, and positioning the weights in the start position is harder. Losing control can also increase your risk of shoulder-joint damage.
As a first movement, don't be afraid to use heavier bells and give your body a strength stimulus. However, I don't recommend taking your sets any lower than 6 reps. With the aid of a training partner, you can make even lighter weights feel much heavier by using intensity techniques like forced reps or negatives to push past failure.
If you do this movement as your big-buck push, I would also recommend incorporating some variety into your chest routine by using different bench angles, rather than just following it up with, say, the flat barbell bench.
Middle of Workout: Knock Out Your Reps and Move On
If you do this movement toward the middle of your workout, you should have already hit the other major bench angles such as incline and decline, which can be done first if you're targeting your upper or lower peck region, respectively.
In addition, your strength will be somewhat compromised by the work you've already done, so now is definitely not the time to be training for strength with low-rep sets. Instead, use loads that allow you to perform 8-12 reps, the middle of hypertrophy range.
Take these sets to muscle failure, but be highly selective with the amount of post-failure training you do here. Many lifters favour such techniques at the beginning of their chest workout, when they have the most strength, or toward the end, when they're using cables, machines, and other implements that are less risky and precarious than dumbbells.
End of Workout: Choose High Reps and Drop-Sets
It's pretty uncommon to see the flat-bench dumbbell press at the tail end of a chest workout, since it requires so much stabilization and balance. This part of your workout is usually focused on the muscle burn and pump, one reason why lifters often gravitate toward non-free-weight options here.
That doesn't mean it's wrong to pick up the bells here, though. Doing so often means slightly lighter weights, like sets of 12 reps or more, or doing drop-sets at the end. This is less a strength technique than one in which you signal hypertrophy by a mechanism known as metabolic stress, which is commonly done with rep-out and pumping techniques.
The flat-bench dumbbell press might also be done last if you're following a per-exhaust type of routine in which you flip-flop your single-joint and multi-joint exercises. If you want to highly reduce stabilizer activity on your final exercise, I recommend opting for the machine version instead, so you don't have to balance the weights.