Archive for the ‘Lose Weight’ Category

You’ve heard the term, but what exactly does the word “superset” mean? Traditionally, a superset is two or more exercises performed consecutively to work opposing muscle groups. “These days, the term has been used a lot more loosely,” says Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute trainer Adam Friedman. “I tend to follow the traditional approach myself.” Supersets increase intensity level, heart rate and calories burned because you are doing two exercises consecutively. Plus, they amp up your mental toughness with more challenging gym time, and you have to push yourself to do continuous sets with less rest.

“I enjoy doing them because it’s more challenging from a conditioning standpoint, it’s time efficient, and it’s an excellent way to work opposing muscle groups to keep balance,” says Friedman. In a healthy body, the muscles that move and stabilize the bones have a natural reflex to relax when their opposite muscles are working. Doing supersets can help guarantee that you’re working all your muscle groups.

Here are five supersets you can use to supersize your routine. Beginners should start with three sets of 5 to 8 reps, while more experienced gymgoers can try three sets of 10 to 12 reps. Count to three on the way down, and go back up on two. “At the beginner level, the weight lifted during a superset should be a little lighter than what you would normally use during an exercise,” Friedman says. “This is just for safety reasons until you become better mentally and physically.” Intermediate to advanced should use the same weights you typically do with an exercise to maintain their strength levels, which may mean that they go down in repetition to start, but then increase as conditioning improves.

Dumbbell flat chest press
Begin by lying on a flat bench, feet flat, knees bent at 90 degrees, arms extended upward at shoulder width with dumbbells in hand. Squeeze your shoulder blades against the bench and lower the dumbbells level to your chest.

Dumbbell back row
Stand in a split stance, bend over until your back is parallel with the ground. Keep back in a neutral alignment, arms fully extended with dumbbells in hand. Pull dumbbells up to waist.

Dumbbell incline chest press
Begin by lying on an inclined bench, feet flat, knees bent at 90 degrees, arms extended upward at shoulder width with dumbbells in hand. Squeeze your shoulder blades against the bench and lower the dumbbells level to your chest.

Lat pull-down
Sit on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley, legs at 90 degrees. Grab the bar just outside shoulder width. Pull bar down to the top of your chest, bringing your shoulders down and back.

Shoulder press
Stand with feet hip distance apart, knees soft, dumbbells in hand. With elbows straight, extend arms above head. Lower dumbbells to earlobes.

Pull-ups
Mount the assisted pull-up machine. Grab bar, lower body down, extend your arms, and pull up, aiming your chest toward the sky.

Chest fly
Begin by lying on a flat bench, feet flat, knees bent at 90 degrees, arms fully extended above shoulders with dumbbells in hand. Bring arms down to your side, with a slight bend in your elbow. Straighten elbows and squeeze your chest muscles on the way back up.

Reverse Fly
Begin by lying chest down on an incline bench, feet flat, knees bent at 90 degrees, arms fully extended with dumbbells in hand, thumbs facing down. Bring arms out to your shoulder.

Biceps Curl
Stand with knees soft, feet shoulder-width apart, with dumbbells in hand. Press your elbows into your sides. Bring the dumbbells ¾ of the way up to your shoulders.

Triceps Extension Machine
Stand with knees soft, feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows stationary for the full move. Grab the bar and extend you arms downward to fully contract your triceps. Pause for one second at the bottom of the movement before bringing arms back up to the starting position.

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Now, two new studies uncover the wisdom in that tried-and-true advice. And they find that success may come quicker than most people realize.

In one study, Christian Roberts and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that lifestyle changes helped reverse serious heart disease risk factors in less than one month among 31 obese men they studied. That study was published online Jan. 10 in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

A second report — this time by Stephanie Chiuve and colleagues at Harvard University — found that men who followed five healthy habits had an 87 percent lower risk of getting heart disease than men who ignore these behaviors. The health habits included eating a prudent diet, exercising regularly, controlling weight, not smoking and drinking in moderation.

That study, which tracked more than 51,000 men for over 16 years, was published in the July 3 online edition of the journal Circulation

While both studies were done in men, the findings are expected to apply to women, said Chiuve. She noted that a separate study of women, published about five years ago, found that healthy behavior quickly reduced their risk of heart disease.

Following all five healthy habits is best, she says, but even if you change one or two habits, that’s good, Chiuve said. The most important one to change: smoking.

“Not smoking was associated with the lowest risk for heart disease,” Chiuve said. Next up was maintaining a healthy body weight — that means sticking to a body mass index (BMI) below 25. For reference, a person 5 feet 5 inches tall who weighs 145 pounds has a BMI of 24, for instance. Statistical overweight begins at a BMI over 25.

“The other three [factors] — exercise, eating a healthy diet, drinking in moderation were all equal,” Chiuve said, in terms of reducing heart disease risks.

Some changes can reduce risks particularly quickly, she said. “Within two weeks, eating a healthy diet can reduce blood pressure.”

Roberts’ group found relatively speedy results from healthy changes, too. In his study, he followed men who had recently entered a residential program for improving their health. They ate a high-fiber, low-fat diet, taking in more than 40 grams a day and less than 15 percent of total calories from fat. They also walked for about 60 minutes a day.

After just three weeks of this behavior, about half the men reversed their tendency to type 2 diabetes or a cluster of other heart risk factors — such as elevated blood pressure, insulin levels or high cholesterol — that together are called the metabolic syndrome.

“We measured 15 or 20 different things,” he said. “The lipids [such as cholesterol] tend to change very quickly,” he said.

“Body weight [reduction] has a much longer course,” he said. While many people focus on body weight reduction, thinking it’s the prime factor driving health-related changes, that’s not always so, Roberts said.

“Some people think the body weight [change] causes the cholesterol to drop. It’s not the body weight per se, but many other mechanisms. The cholesterol can drop independent of body weight,” he said.

Simply adding more fiber to the diet and taking out saturated fat, he said, could be beneficial for your lipid profile, as can regular exercise.

“An editorial written in concert with this paper suggests the concept that you have to change for several months is erroneous,” he said.

What is needed, he said, is to consider the changes a new life plan, not a temporary fix.

More information:
For more on heart-healthy lifestyles, visit the American Heart Association.

Stephanie Chiuve, Sc.D., research fellow, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Christian Roberts, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor, physiological science, University of California, Los Angeles; July 3, 2006, online edition, Circulation; Jan. 10, 2006, online edition, Journal of AppliedOriginally published on Healthday.com

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Some days making time to exercise isn’t that simple. Whether you are trying to fit in your cardio workout during a short lunch break, or just want to get your heart rate up before the sun goes down, celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza has some ideas for you. Make sure to do a quick warm-up like a one or two minute power walk or jog before you get started.

If you have five minutes, hit the treadmill for some interval sprinting. Make sure to choose a machine that has side shoulders wide enough to rest your feet.

Begin by standing on the treadmill shoulders. Set the treadmill speed 1.5 levels above the setting at which you normally run. So if you normally set the treadmill at 7.5 for a good run, kick it up to 9 for your sprints. Hop onto the treadmill and sprint for 10 seconds. Hop off, placing your feet on either side of the tread, for 20 seconds and completely rest.

10 sets

If you have a bit more time, add a three-minute warm up (one minute walk, plus a two-minute jog) before the sprint/rest sets and finish up with a four-minute jog.

There is a big difference between running and sprinting–a difference you can feel. “The work time should be hard enough that you need the recovery,” says Braganza. If you aren’t ready to rest after each sprint, increase the speed on the treadmill.

If you want to kick your sprinting up a notch, increase the incline of the treadmill after each sprint.

If you are bored of the treadmill, then try Braganza’s four-part, 10-minute “kick-butt kickbox.”

Jump rope or jumping jacks:
1 minute Heavy bag, alternating between hitting the bag with jab crosses and kicks:
1 minute Squats: 1 minuteCrunches: 1 minute

Cycle through the moves until your time runs out.

If you want to really focus on strengthening your lower-body, this sweat-inducing combo of lunges and jump squats will do it.

Squat jumps (when squatting, make sure not to let your knees go in front of your toes): 10 repsStep side to side touching opposite foot in front of the other while you raise and lower your arms: 30 seconds

Cycle through these moves until your time runs out.

Don’t read on the treadmill. That magazine could be lulling you into a less-strenuous workout.If there is a choice between a sitting move and a standing move, choose the upright one; instead of a recumbent bike, choose an upright bike or, even better, the elliptical or treadmill. When weightlifting, instead of performing seated shoulder press or lateral raises, try them standing.Keep tabs on your heart rate. This will help you gauge if your training is too easy, too hard or just right. An easy way to determine your heart rate while doing your cardio is to get a heart rate monitor. Don’t forget: To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. To find out what your heart rate range should be, multiply your maximum heart rate by .85 to get your high-intensity target number and .60 for your low-intensity target number.Swap out a gym day for a romp outside. Not only do your feet have to work harder to keep you balanced with all of the terrain changes when exercising in the natural world, but working out outside is a great cure for boredom. “You have to pay attention when you run outside,” says Braganza. Look for stairs and inclines like hills to tackle on your next hike.

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How do Hollywood’s hottest celebs keep their envy-inducing figures?

“The key is consistency and intensity,” says celebrity trainer and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute member Ramona Braganza, who helped Anne Hathaway tone up for the 2008 Oscars and Jessica Alba drop her post-baby weight.

“When celebs have to get in shape, they are really on top of it,” agrees Adam Friedman, a certified personal trainer at the Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute whose clients include model and Olympic volleyball star Gabrielle Reece and NBA forward Austin Croshere. “They view working out as not just for health, but as a responsibility to their profession.”

But that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own Hollywood-inspired workout at home. Braganza thinks taking fitness cues from your favorite celebs is a great way to put a fresh spin on your gym routine. For example, to help today’s leading ladies perfect their figures for upcoming roles, Braganza alternates 10-minute intervals of cardio with three sets of circuit strength-training and core exercises. She notes: “You have to keep the heart rate up throughout the routine for maximum calorie burn.”

Ramona Braganza

Today’s starlets don’t want to bulk up, so cardio is king, Friedman says. Cycling, running on the beach (and from paparazzi!) and climbing the trendy Santa Monica Stairs, a taxing set of 154 steep wood stairs, are popular ways to burn calories. The Los Angeles-based trainer also relies on functional body-weight exercises — moves like push-ups and squats, which challenge your muscle groups to work together at once — to get his famous clients in their best shape ever. “The idea is to recruit the highest amount of muscle fibers at a time, because the more you’re getting your nervous system involved, the more calories you’re going to burn, the more fat you’re going to burn, the more challenging the exercise is going to be,” he says.

Adam Friedman

His tried-and-true favorite? The dreaded lunge.

“Lunges are the No. 1 most hated exercise among all my clients,” Friedman says with a smile. “They’re hard and they hurt! But there are so many benefits and so many variations that hit all the areas you want to target.” Case in point: Braganza’s client Jessica Alba reportedly owes her refined behind to a strict diet of lunges.

For an extra challenge, pair the moves with a weight known as a kettlebell, as Friedman makes his pro athletes do, to really work your core and develop explosiveness. “But you should already have a strong foundation in your core, so it’s not something to go to right away,” he warns.

According to Braganza, making those basic changes to your routine will help to keep exercise fresh and exciting.

“Variety is very important,” she says. “For my clients, I try to find what they enjoy and then include it somehow every few workouts, whether it’s boxing drills, hiking or dance classes.”

One activity in particular is especially popular with today’s leading ladies: yoga.

“Celebrities love yoga!” Friedman says. “It works for them on a mental level, and they love stretching and the feeling they get.” Not to mention long, lean muscles and improved balance and posture. And good posture can mean the difference between a great red-carpet photo and a nod on the worst-dressed list.

“Carrying your head and shoulders forward with bad posture doesn’t look good in pictures or in the mirror,” Friedman explains. “But if you improve your posture and strengthen your back, you’ll look dramatically different and your energy will be different.”

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