Fitness & Wellness

Does Exercise Help You Lose Fat?

Does Exercise Help You Lose Fat?

If you’re a client in Alexandria, you’re already aware of the benefits of exercise, which includes helping you to lose fat. Unfortunately, exercise alone won’t make the biggest difference. You need to eat healthy, too. In order to shed one pound, you need to eat 3500 calories less than you burn. Exercise increases the amount of calories you burn and provides other benefits, but for the best results, changing your eating habits is necessary.

Besides burning calories, exercise also helps balance your hormones.

An imbalance of hormones can make you gain weight. If you have an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone, you’ll gain weight easier and it will pack on around your hips. Too much cortisol—the stress hormone—puts fat on your abdomen. Weight gain over your entire body indicates low thyroid. Luckily, exercise can help regulate all those problems and get your hormones back into balance. It also can trigger the creation of hormones that make you feel good, and when you feel good, you look good.

Build muscle and boost your metabolism.

The right type of workout can burn fat and build muscle tissue. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn even when you sleep. That’s because muscle tissue requires more calories than fat tissue does. Aerobic exercises, such as running, won’t do it. That’s because when you run, you’ll burn calories from all sources, lean muscle tissue and fat. Strength-building exercises builds muscle tissue while burning huge amounts of calories, even after the exercise ends!

You’ll look thinner, even if you don’t lose one single pound, when you workout.

As noted before, exercise builds muscle tissue, burns calories and makes it easier to keep weight from returning. It also makes you look thinner even if you don’t lose a single pound. That’s because muscle tissue weighs more per cubic inch than fat tissue does. One pound of muscle tissue would fit into a much smaller container than one pound of fat tissue. The same holds true for your body. If you weigh 130 pounds and you have a high percentage of muscle tissue, you’ll wear a smaller clothing size than someone who has a higher percentage of fat tissue.

  • You can lose weight easier when you combine exercise with a healthy diet. Just cutting out processed food and sugary products—including soft drinks—will give you a great start on the road to weight loss.
  • HIIT—high intensity interval training—that varies the intensity of an exercise from pushing yourself as hard as possible to moderate recovery and back—can get the best results, particularly when combined with strength training.
  • Two hormones that affect how much you eat are ghrelin and leptin. They’re the hunger and satiety hormones. Exercise and reducing sugar helps regulate them and gets you back on the road to weight loss.
  • When you workout, you’ll boost your energy after just a few weeks. That extra energy means you’ll be more active and that burns more calories, too.

Improve Balance And Coordination

Improve Balance And Coordination

Almost all types of complete workouts improve balance and coordination. There are some created specifically to do that, though. In Alexandria, VA, I create workouts for clients that improve all levels of fitness, strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. There’s no need to add additional balance exercises unless there are extenuating circumstances. Here are some of the exercises I use to improve balance and coordination.

Test your balance.

While you might feel quite planted just standing with feet shoulder width apart or side by side, take it one step further. Rather than walking toe to heel, the most common technique to test of inebriation and lack of balance, just stand still! That’s right. Start with feet together, standing straight, then move one of your feet in front of the other with the heel touching the front of the other foot’s toe. Hold that position for a count of 30. If you’re still finding it easy, now close your eyes. Almost everyone who doesn’t workout and even some who do wobbles when they do this one, so don’t worry if you do.

Improve your sense of self when you workout.

Your sense of physical self is your proprioception. It’s what lets you move freely and do things without having to check if your arms and legs are in the right place. Muscles, joints and tendons send the signals to your brain from everywhere in your body. Building that awareness can help you improve coordination and even balance. Try closing your eyes and focusing on muscle movement when you exercise. Focus on the movements your body makes. Being more aware of how your body moves helps build coordination and sense of self.

Balance exercises can be simple or more complex.

Standing on one foot with the other knee raised to a 90 degree angle and holding for 30 seconds and then putting it down and doing the same lifting the opposite knee. Now try it with your eyes closed. For more challenge and exercise for your body, try a one-legged squat. Start with fee hip-width apart, point one foot out in front and lower yourself into squat position, balancing on only one foot. Hold and rise. It’s tough!

  • Tighten your abs and your glutes with this one. Bend over and pick up a five to ten pound weight. Wait, there’s more. Do it on one leg, lifting the other behind you to maintain balance and then return to starting position.
  • Exercising on a balance ball is definitely good for your balance and your core muscles. That’s why they’re called balance balls.
  • Include strength training in your workout. It helps improve body awareness and your balance. Core muscle workouts are also good for balance. Kettlebell workouts help all types of fitness, including coordination and balance.
  • There’s been more and more use of exercise to help people with MS improve their balance. Often, it starts with simple flexibility exercises like stretching. It shows how all types of fitness work together to make you healthier, more coordinated and balanced.

Should You Be Calorie Calculating

Should You Be Calorie Calculating

Whether you’re counting carbs or calorie calculating, maybe it’s time to quit. While keeping a food journal can be quite important and learning which foods aren’t healthy or excessively fattening is good, maybe focusing on calorie counting isn’t. There’s a better way to do it. That’s by focusing more on eating healthy rather than how many calories food contains.

Quality over quantity is always best, but sometimes you can have both.

Eating healthy focuses on consuming whole foods that are packed with nutrients. Fresh vegetables, lean meat and whole grains are far better than processed foods and loads of sugar. One hundred calories from a baked good is not nearly as good as 100 calories from fresh vegetables or fruit. Besides the vitamins and minerals the vegetables contain, it also contains fiber, which your body requires. If you set the two side by side, the serving size for a 100 calories of vegetables would be far bigger and more filling. You get both quality and quantity.

Counting calories can lead to overdoing it.

Some people start counting calories with good intentions, but then their competitive, overachiever sets in and they cut those calories lower and lower. Before you know it, they’re eating a super low calories diet. That’s counterproductive to shedding pounds. Your body requires a certain number of calories or it will go into starvation mode that slows the metabolism to protect the most important organs and processes.

It’s far easier to simply avoid processed foods and learn healthy eating techniques.

While learning healthy eating may take longer and you’ll constantly be learning, it’s far easier than looking up every food to see the number of calories or trying to figure out just how many calories a main course or side dish has based on the ingredients it contains. You can eat anywhere and it starts to become just a natural act when you focus on healthy eating rather than on calories or carbs.

  • Adding regular exercise to a plan of healthy eating can boost weight loss, while making you feel and look great. You’ll burn off stress and tone your muscles, while burning calories at the same time.
  • If you count calories, you also need to know how much nutrition you get from the food so you stay healthy. Trying to balance calorie counting with fiber, protein, fat, carb and nutrient content becomes almost impossible.
  • Calorie counting can provide false information. Processed foods have calories that our body may be more readily absorbed, while healthy food doesn’t. One study showed that only 80 percent of the calories in almonds were absorbed.
  • It’s important to learn to eat only when you’re hungry, chew and slow down food consumption and if you eat something unhealthy, it’s not the end of the world. Get back on the healthy eating wagon.

Why You Should Start Exercising Today

Why You Should Start Exercising Today

Do you sit at a desk all day? That’s actually a health hazard. One study shows that unless you move at least five minutes every 50 minutes, it poses a health issue. Why not start exercising by making it part of your work day. Get up every 50 minutes, stretch, walk around the office or up and down the stairs. Any movement increases your exercise and helps you get healthier. There are even short workouts you can do at your desk.

There’s no equipment necessary for walking.

What have you got to lose? It doesn’t cost anything to walk more and it’s excellent exercise. While you don’t get a full body workout that sculpts you, it’s a start. Can’t fit it in your schedule? Maybe you can. Walk to lunch at noon. Rather than take the car for short trips of a few blocks, walk. Get up early and walk or take a walk when you get home from work. Do both all of the above if you can. Breaking up your walking to ten minute sessions still counts.

Try a four minute workout.

I’m fascinated by Dr. Bush’s four minute nitric oxide dump and the seven minute workout. That’s because they don’t take very long, but they boost the amount of exercise busy people can fit into their schedule. It doesn’t have to be four minutes, seven minutes, a half hour or longer. In fact, doing three 10-minute workouts throughout the day is best if you’re breaking it up to smaller, easier to manage sections.

Get a personal trainer or start a formal program on your own.

While it’s much easier using a personal trainer, since he or she creates the workout, just getting started is what’s important. Schedule a time three times a week to workout and start making it a habit. Start now, as soon as you finish reading this! You can do some simple body weight exercises at home to get started.

  • Don’t procrastinate. There’s always a reason why you can’t exercise. Start focusing on the reasons why you can.
  • Winners keep score. Write down the exercises and how many you do. If you choose walking, write down the distance and number of minutes you walked.
  • Any type of exercise can be turned into an HIIT workout where you give it your all for a short period then have a short period of moderate exercise and back to giving it your all. Try it with the exercises you chose. It gets you into shape faster.
  • If you’re not into regular workouts, try something different. Take up an active sport or take dance classes. Exercising doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym. It’s anything that boosts your circulation and gets you moving.

How To Get Rid Of Back Fat

How To Get Rid Of Back Fat

If you don’t want to go out in Alexandria without a heavy, loose sweatshirt that hides those bulges and dent from your bra or hate clingy fabric because it shows your folds on your back, it’s time to get rid of back fat. It’s not as easy as finding the best workout, unfortunately. It’s a much larger problem. While a targeted workout will build the muscle tissue underneath the fat, nobody will ever be able to see that tone. The fat keeps it hidden. Targeted exercises don’t work, since the body doesn’t pick and choose the location of the fat it’s going to burn. It comes off of the body from everywhere. You need to use both a healthy diet and exercise to fight back fat and get that sleek look you want.

There are exceptions to every rule.

If you’re not overweight, but don’t have any muscle tone, working out might be exactly what you need. In this case, it’s not back fat you’re seeing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with most people. Either way, exercising the back muscles should be part of your program. There are three types of back muscles, upper, mid and lower back muscles. You need to tone all three areas to get that firm look that’s so appealing. Exercises for the lower back muscles focus on erector spinae. Mid back exercises work the lattissimus dorsi, lower trapezius and rhomboids. For the upper back, work on the trapezoids and deltoids.

There’s no specific back fat diet, just healthy eating.

As mentioned previously, when you have fat on any part of your body, you have to lose it all over your body. Exercise only tightens the muscles and doesn’t address the fat that covers them. Choosing a healthy diet is the route to getting rid of the back fat. Back fat is nothing more than fat that’s accumulated at a specific area. Muffin tops come from mid and lower back accumulation while underarm bulges and the rolls around your bra come from upper and middle back fat. It may seem like back fat is the last fat you lose, it actually comes off everywhere as you shed pounds.

You need a workout that not only strengthens the back muscles but also burns fat.

Any exercise that includes pulling or pushing uses back muscles. Push ups help the deltoid muscles to get strong. A dumbbell shrug or shoulder press builds the muscle tissue. While cardio is good for burning calories, for back fat, lifting weights and strength building exercises not only build the back muscles, they burn loads of calories. You want to do both in your workout to get a sculptured appearance. Core workouts and HIIT workouts are also great for burning calories and in some cases, building back muscles.

  • Compound exercises, ones that focus on using more muscles and joints, burn more calories and build muscles fast. Isolation workouts, those that focus on a specific muscle group, give more contour.
  • Eat healthier when you’re trying to shed weight and get rid of back fat. Don’t forget that what you drink also counts. Soft drinks contain as many calories as 150 per can. While diet soda may not add pounds, it adds inches to your waistline. Water is a great alternative.
  • Any exercise that has you raising your arms or putting them behind your body helps build the back muscles.
  • Always focus on good posture. It stretches you out and up, minimizing the appearance of back fat.

Get A Free Week Of P90X

Get A Free Week Of P90X

There’s nothing better than free, especially when it’s a valuable commodity. There’s also nothing more valuable than being your fittest and healthiest. Now you can get a free week of P90X, at the WorX in Alexandria, VA. There are no strings attached, just a week of a great workout and fun. That’s right. P90X is short for Power 90 Extreme. Originally, it was meant as an at-home workout program, but let’s face it, when you work out alone it’s not only hard to stay motivated, it’s not nearly as much fun as doing it in a group. You’re more likely to stick with it and the cost is far less to try it out…free is about as inexpensive as it gets.

You’ll work hard, but never be bored.

The program is varied. It’s based on a wide selection of different types of workouts. The originator, Tony Horton calls the mixed workout, “muscle confusion” because your muscles never get to settle into a repetitive movement and you keep them working hard. It’s a circuit style training that moves you quickly from one workout to another and has parts of other fitness modes lie kickboxing, cardio, yoga and plyometrics.

There’s a wide variety of workouts focusing on different types of movements and different body areas.

While the exercises may be traditional, the manner you carry them out aren’t. If you’re working on back muscles, you might start with pushups, move quickly to rowing with dumbbells or using resistance bands. Another reason it’s better to do the workout with us is that even though you can spend quite a bit to order it, when you need equipment, it doesn’t come with the course, so you have to invest even more. We supply all the equipment you need.

You get more from a workout when you vary it frequently.

Studies show that varying your routine often helps build muscles faster and prevents plateauing. Plateauing occurs when the muscles become adept at doing a specific move, due to repetition. As it becomes more efficient, you’ll burn fewer calories. That’s why you only do routines for three weeks and switch to a new workout program on the fourth. After three weeks of that, you switch to another, then four weeks later back to the first.

  • P90X isn’t for the faint-hearted or anyone that wants to glide through their workout without breaking a sweat. It’s tough!
  • You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, so there’s nutritional advice ready if you need it.
  • When you workout at The WorX, you get the advantage of an accountability program that helps you clarify your goals and stick with it.
  • You’ll love the changes you see in such a short time and be ready to take up the challenge and go for more. It’s a perfect example of how much fun getting fit can be when you’re working with others who have similar goals.

Get An Accountability Partner

Get An Accountability Partner

What is an accountability partner? In fitness, it’s someone you workout with that holds you accountable for your workout. It’s not that you make them your boss or your guardian, it’s just the courtesy you extend to a friend. If you know you’re meeting someone at the gym, you’ll be more likely to go. They’re also accountable to you for the same reason. There are huge benefits from working out with another person, besides the fact that you’ll be more accountable to go to the workout.

Personal trainers act as accountability partners.

You make an appointment with a trainer, just as you do with other professionals, and you’re more apt to go to that appointment than you would if you were simply going to the gym. Besides the fact that the trainer has a great deal of knowledge that helps you get fit faster and creates the right workout for you, it’s one of the reasons people are more successful when they use a personal trainer. He or she is that person’s accountability partner. Yours could be a friend or a family member. You could also have more than one. If you’re going to group training, find a friend to go with you, then you’ll have both the trainer and the friend.

You can have fun with an accountability partner and still get a good workout.

If you’re the competitive type, you might find yourself working harder or pushing further just to get one up on your partner. It’s healthy, friendly competition that will drive both of you. If you’re not competitive, you might find that commiserating together over tough workouts or cheer each other onto to a successful completion.

An accountability partner can provide more safety and some good insight into a workout.

You can’t be perfect at everything, that’s why four eyes and ears are better than two and two heads are better than one. If you’re working with an accountability partner, he or she can often fill in the gaps on anything you missed while watching a workout or learning a routine. You do the same for them. They also provide more safety for sports like weight lifting or a safety net when running early in the morning or at dusk.

  • You’ll be more likely to push harder and accomplish goals when you have an accountability partner. People tend to do more when they know someone is watching.
  • Not only does an accountability partner provide an appointment for a workout, they make a workout more fun. Time goes more quickly and you barely notice how hard you’re working, so you tend to work longer.
  • If you’re working out at a gym on your own, an accountability partner can provide interesting input on exercises they’ve tried, for more variety.
  • Working with an accountability partner makes you more adventurous. You tend to try new types of workouts and alternative methods of exercise.

Why Is Leg Day So Exhausting

Why Is Leg Day So Exhausting

Whether you live in Alexandria, VA or any other part of the country, having a specific leg day can be exhausting, especially if you work those legs hard, to the point of failure. There’s a reason for that. The legs involve large muscle groups, particularly if you compare them to the arm, which often gets the same attention and often its own day. You won’t feel nearly as tired if you’ve worked a smaller group of muscles. It just makes sense.

Consider functional fitness workouts rather than isolating specific body parts and working only those on specific days.

Functional fitness works the whole body, not just one area, like the legs. While you’ll still get tired, you won’t be as tired as if you’ve worked that large group of muscles to exhaustion. You’ll also get more bang for your exercise time by doing full body workouts and are likely to see better gains and more energy after each workout. People often use leg day to do high-intensity, concentrated strength training that can cause the ultimate in soreness where even getting out of bed, off the toilet or down the stairs causes misery. That’s not a benefit.

Isolating muscle groups like the legs may not improve your overall fitness.

Sure, you want to address problems like muscle balance or inadequate development of large muscle groups causing smaller ones to do the job, but stressing just one body part isn’t necessary if the goal is to be fit. Cardio days provide both cardiovascular improvement and often involve building the muscle strength in the legs. Strength building days also work on the entire body. HIIT and kickboxing give overall strength building and helps all the muscles and joints of the body to work in synergy.

If you’re under stress, you’ll get tired.

Stress comes in many forms and the brain never differentiates. It can come in the form of an attack or an angry boss screaming. Both of these elicit the fight or flight response that prepares your body for either. If you’re focusing on your legs and working them too hard, because these are large muscles, it can bring on stress. That’s one reason overtraining can be so harmful. Following a program of total body training that works you hard, but doesn’t focus on just one area, can bring better results and leave you feeling great instead of exhausted.

  • Even though you may break up your days with one day for heavy chest and back work, one day for heavy ab workouts and one day for heavy leg work, you’re stressing your body every day. That will stress you and leave you tired, which is a symptom of overtraining.
  • While some aches and pains are expected, working too hard can set you back. There’s a difference between a “good” sore and one where you can’t walk. If you’re experiencing the second, you need to adjust your workout.
  • Leg workouts should be part of your overall fitness program, but combined with other types of exercise, too. It allows the muscle tissue to build without stressing the area too much at once.
  • There are other ways to exercise your legs that aren’t as dreaded or tiring. An overall strength day will exhaust you less, be as good and keep you coming back to the gym rather than avoiding it.

Is It Better To Workout In The Morning

Is It Better To Workout In The Morning

You often read how a workout in the morning is exceptionally good and how it sets the day with more energy to spare. However, if you look at our scheduling, you’ll notice we have sessions in the morning, in the afternoon and early evening. There’s a reason for that. Not everyone is the same. Not only do people have different schedules, their bodies have different schedules, too. Some people are at their prime in the morning and others can barely ask for coffee, let alone think about a workout.

You make the difference!

If you’re an early bird, then getting the workout out of the way and moving on to your next task can make an early morning workout perfect. You get it done and never have to worry about the occurrences through the day that can interrupt your plans for the gym. It can also boost your energy and set your day off right. However, for those night owls, that old song, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” could be changed to “Waking Up Is Hard to Do.” You’ll be more apt to skip your workout and spend a few more minutes in bed, plus your body may not be ready to take on the hard work, like it might be later in the day.

Some studies show that people who workout in the morning tend to be more consistent.

That’s easy to understand. Morning people tend to have their own inner clock that wakes them when the sun rises. There’s really nothing else going on at that time either, unless the farm report on TV is of particular interest. Working out later may have it’s drawbacks, like scheduling problems and other diversion pulling you away from the workout, but it also lets you blow off steam from all the garbage you faced throughout the day and the stressors.

Morning workouts are a benefit if you’re trying to shed weight.

here’s a lot of scientific studies, like the 2012 BYU study, that showed early morning exercises lost weight faster than those that didn’t. One reason was that it gave a jumpstart to metabolism that helped burn calories throughout the day. You exercise after fasting all night, which also helps, exercising while fasting burns fat stores, rather than the calories from food.

  • If you workout later in the day, you don’t have to do as much warming up. Your body is 20 percent more flexible as it is the first thing in the morning.
  • Studies show that people who worked out later in the day often had a more intense workout and worked harder. Lungs are at peak efficiency later in the day and protein synthesis peaks. Endurance is better, too.
  • Evening workouts can raise the body temperature and interfere with sound sleep. Weight lifting proved different when it came to evening workouts. It actually improved the quality of sleep better than people who lifted in the morning.
  • No matter what time you work out, doing it is important. If you’re simply not a morning person and will probably miss sessions because of it, workout in the afternoon or evening.

Is Warming Up Really Necessary

Is Warming Up Really Necessary

You may have questioned whether warming up was really necessary and never pursued the answer, but it’s one that most trainers get asked frequently. Once you understand the role that the warm up plays in your workout, you’ll agree that it’s really important and while you may still hate doing it, won’t neglect it when you’re starting your routine. Just as important as warming up is the cool down phase. Another addition to a workout that people often feel is useless, but is extremely important.

Why warm up?

Warming up for maximum exertion is extremely important if you want to get the most benefit from the workout and avoid injury. A good warm up will let you get the most out of your workout and leave you feeling satisfied and like you did a great job with the most benefit. There’s a reason it’s called a warm up. It raises the core temperature of the body. It also increases your heart rate and sends blood flowing to every muscle in the body, alerting the nervous system to prepare the brain for stress.

You need the increased temperature to get the maximum benefit from the exercise.

As the blood surges into the muscles, the increased core temperature warms the blood and increases their temperature, too. That prepares them for the tough workout ahead. The warmer temperature increases the effectiveness of the shortening and lengthening process muscles undergo in a workout. If they’re not warm or functioning at their best, it increases the potential for injury from muscle tears and pulls.

Dynamic stretching is the best possible warm-up.

It’s not just warming up, but the type of warming up you do that counts, too. If you’re standing in place, touching your toes and holding for ten seconds, you’re doing static stretching. That’s not the best type of warm-up. Dynamic stretching keeps you moving while you’re stretching, which helps circulation and increases the core temperature faster. It’s a more active form of warming up that boosts blood flow and gets the brain and body ready to work. Static stretching actually tends to relax muscles and reduce blood flow, so they’re far better as a cool down exercise.

  • For dynamic stretches, think jumping rope, agility drills and jogging. For static stretches, think touching your toes and holding, side bends and hamstring stretches.
  • Dynamic stretches used as a warm up increase your range of motion and make you not only feel more limber, but actually be more limber.
  • Studies show dynamic warm ups can actually help athletes perform better. Studies compared performance after no warm up, static stretching and dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching improved performance.
  • Dynamic stretching warm ups tend to activate more muscles, since you’re moving as you’re stretching. That prepares your entire body better for the workout ahead.