The Importance of Working Out Your Core

Core workoutsIf you’ve hung around a gym lately, you’ve probably heard people talking about strengthening their core. Basically, a person’s core is a series of muscles extending beyond the abs but not including your arms and legs. Your core gets incorporated into pretty much every movement you make, so it makes sense that you’d want a strong one.

Look around at most men over a certain age– they’ve got big bellies. How about ladies over a certain age? They’ve got cellulite building up on their hips and buttocks. Frankly, most people do not work out their core often enough.

Do you want to ignore your core? No, you don’t. You want to be able to walk without getting out of breath, and to be able to lift up grandkids and spin them around for fun. Your core helps your body make its movements and therefore it needs to be taken care of. If you train your body with an emphasis on your core, you’ll not only look thinner but your spine will thank you. A strong core means your spine is supported and you’re able to balance properly.

Your core is more than just the abs on your stomach. Your core includes upper abs, side muscles (aka the obliques), and, don’t forget, your back muscles, which matter just as much as your “abs” though people often just want sexy abs while forgetting to exercise their backs.

Build core strength now so that when you’re older your body will be in better shape and you’ll be able to make the movements you want to make.

Whether you’re a serious athlete or you made a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape, Fit-EST can provide you with the guidance and expertise you need to make the most out of your workouts. Contact Fit-EST today for more information.

How to Avoid Gaining Unwanted Weight this Holiday Season

Holiday Weight This holiday season you are going to be faced with plenty of temptations to eat foods that will make your waist expand and, the numbers on your scale increase.

For men, this is the time of the year they can add unwanted weight and expand their “beer belly.” For women, December’s indulgences could mean having to buy a new wardrobe come the New Year, at one size bigger to accommodate wider hips and cellulite. Egads, December is a tough month for all!

So how do you avoid gaining unwanted weight this holiday season? Start with not having easy access to the foods you know pack on the pounds. If you don’t go and buy lots of pre-packaged cookies and muffins and sugary treats from the store, and you don’t have them in your cupboards at home, readily accessible, then you’re not going to go over the top because the snacks you love aren’t physically available. Nice! Oh, and if you can drink less sugary drinks and more water, that’s ideal.

Next, when you do go to a holiday party and eye the cake, the pie, or the plate of cookies, instead of telling yourself “I’m only going to eat celery and carrots,” decide to limit your portion sizes of all the foods you’d like to eat… that way, you’re still getting to eat foods you like– even cookies, for example– but you’re just not eating huge portions. Limiting your calorie intake by psychologically deciding to stop at 1 or 2 cookies for the night can help you avoid gaining unwanted weight. It’s often easier said than done, but by utilizing strong discipline, you can avoid that awful guilty feeling later at night or the next day.

Finally, as difficult as it is to find time during the holiday season, you need to exercise. Even if it means parking the car where you’ll have to walk a little extra to get into the mall, or getting up early to go to the gym before work or whatever it takes to get your body moving during these weeks, the message is the same: move that body.

Fit-EST is here for you if you need some accountability, as well as personal training, workout ideas and nutritional advice.

The Benefits of Training with a Kettlebell

Kettlebell Workouts Kettlebell training is a whole body workout method that can be used by anyone. Whether you are just getting started at the gym or have a well-developed workout routine, the kettlebell provides a great cardio workout that challenges the body and uses almost all of its muscles at once. Best of all, this workout routine can be a lot of fun!

Cardio

A popular method of high intensity interval training, kettlebell drills are an enjoyable way to get your cardio workout in. Instead of running on the treadmill for an hour each day, try repetitive drilling with a kettlebell. Another great advantage: This non-impact training method strengthens your joints instead of putting stress on them.

Variety

Not only does kettlebell training have a wide variety of benefits, but it also has an endless amount of drill combinations. Instead of sticking to the same workout every day, which can get repetitive and dull, mix things up by changing your grip and swing.

Head-to-Toe Workout

A training method that consists of a variety of whole-body movements and exercises, using a kettlebell allows you to work your entire body, providing you with a great, fluid workout in a shorter amount of time than traditional methods. Instead of using sedentary machines that focus on isolated areas of the body, work with a kettlebell to build mobility, stability and strength throughout. Training with a kettlebell also means you no longer have to worry about what areas you should focus on each day!

Here at Fit-EST, we strive to create a positive environment for individuals who are looking to balance fitness with overall lifestyle. Take a personal training session or sign up for a class to get started on your kettlebell training routine. Contact us at 203-557-4900 or visit our Westport, Connecticut gym at 361 Post Road West to begin your fitness journey today!

The Most Important Strength Training Exercises

DeadliftThere are plenty of trendy exercises. Everything from doing calisthenics in a warehouse to aerobic instruction from the latest ‘fitness guru’ float around the internet until some trendsetter floats them into the mainstream. That is until they are forgotten as quickly as they catch on. But regardless of the latest trends, there are exercises with staying power as strong as the athletes implementing them.

Squat

If you’ve never done a squat, you should start off with no weight. The exercise is so effective, when done correctly, simply executing the form as a bodyweight squat can build muscle. A lower body drill focusing on your legs and core, the squat is a standing exercise in which you physically squat low keeping your knees behind your ties and slowly stand up straight repeatedly. It is even great for strengthening your joint tendons.

Deadlift

From your upper back to your hands and down to your hamstrings, the deadlift is about as close to a full body exercise as you can get. Effectively lifting heavy weight from the ground without momentum- hence the term ‘dead’- to the hips and repeating, it is a very effective training method. And there are plenty of variations for the more discerning lifter, including the Romanian deadlift and single leg deadlift.

Bench Press

Bench pressing is an age-old means for building upper body strength and adding mass to your chest size. Most effective when you gradually increase the weight on the bench bar throughout your set, bench-pressing is perfect for anyone trying to tighten their upper body. The weight you choose also helps you accomplish different goals, lighter weight and more repetitions helps with toning while heavier weight with fewer reps allows you to build size.

Shoulder Press

Your shoulder strength is the most influential component to your speed and range of motion when it comes to such activity as throwing and boxing. Increasing your shoulder mass and giving you more power, the shoulder press is as important as the bench press for increasing your upper body strength.

Avoid Weight Lifting Injuries

proper lifting techniqueStrength training is your best bet for staying in shape. In conjunction with a balanced diet and cardio regiment, strength training allows you to improve your strength, toning and even heart health. But lifting incorrectly with poor form can do much more harm than good. There are a few principles to keep in mind to avoid devastating injury.

 

Use Proper Form

Using proper form is critical if you want to prevent an injury. Using poor form is the quickest way to end up hurt. A personal trainer can teach you proper technique. Or, if you’ve been hitting the weights for years, ask a friend to use video or photos to catch any flaws in your movement.

 

Do smart exercises

If you’re worried about injuries, the best exercises to use are those that are functional and strengthen your core; pushups, lunges, and balance work are all great. Avoid dangerous exercises, such as Olympic bench presses, squats and deadlifts. These all offer more risk than reward.

 

Warm up Properly

This means raising your body’s core temperature through some light cardio for at least five minutes, and ideally incorporating some very-low resistance dynamic exercises that will prep your body for upcoming stress. And once you’re all warmed up, use the right weight. Lifting weight that’s too heavy discourages proper form. It also makes you that person at the gym grunting loudly everyone knows is pushing themselves too hard.

Workout Stretching to Eliminate Tightness, Soreness

stretchingStretching prior to a workout is crucial for your post-workout comfort. Not only does stretching prevent muscle soreness and injury, but it also increases your range of motion. Whether you’re a teen athlete or a grown adult just getting back into fitness, stretching can help you sustain and even avoid muscle pulls and strains.

 

 

Stretching the muscle group you are about to use allows you to avoid pulls, strains and general pain. For every workout there is the right stretch for it. Utilizing dynamic stretching at the beginning of a workout will help to warm up most major muscle groups.

 

 

The movements within the dynamic stretching routine mimic those movements used during the workout but at a less intense level thereby giving time for the muscles to warm up.Cold muscles can be likened to an elastic band that needs to be warmed before it can be stretched. A light movement warm up for 5 to 8 minutes prior to exercising will add fluidity and mobility to the joints. This will bring blood flow to surrounding muscles and break a light sweat before you start a workout.

 

 

If you feel the need to skip either your post or pre-workout stretch (something we highly discourage) make it your pre workout stretch. It is absolutely necessary to stretch after you work out to alleviate the presence of lactic acid and as much residual pain as possible.

 

 

Tight muscles have the tendency to tear easily whereas well stretched muscles are much more elastic and can subsequently endure much more. You’ll notice after your workout you wont experience any tightness or soreness in the areas you stretched. More importantly, you’re much less likely to endure any permanent injury.

Channeling Deep Breathing to Help your Cardio Activities

fitness training When doing cardio activities as your breath becomes shallow and rapid you likely wish you could pull in more air. Most participate in cardio activities to train their heart and legs, but did you realize you could actually train your lungs? Synthesizing more oxygen with more lung capacity provides more endurance for your muscles.

 

 

Toning the muscles used for breathing, such as the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles, which lie between the ribs and enable you to inhale and exhale can increase your endurance. Since your diaphragm is mostly responsible for breathing, the more muscular it is, the more endurance you will have.

 

 

This approach coincides with research indicating runners whose breathing was the most strained showed the most leg weakness. Further, the researchers concluded in their study that the harder the respiratory muscles had to work, the more the legs would struggle in a race. In other words, breathing more fully is fundamental for preventing lung-and leg-fatigue. So while running or participating in cardio activities, concentrate on taking slow and deep breaths to strengthen the diaphragm.

 

 

How Trail Running is an Entirely Different Game

Trail RunningTrail running and road running are very similar activities in that both are cardio-intensive exercises measuring performance based on a distance divided by time. However, aside from this similarity, trail running is in fact an entirely different experience from road running for a number of reasons.

 
Aside from the peaceful scenery you get to enjoy on back trails, the terrain presents an entirely different kind of challenge to the runner. And because no two natural trails offer the same experience, progressing through water, sand and/or mud, you have to expect and prepare for anything.

 
With such a range of varied terrain, anything from rocks, sticks and sand can throw you off balance. This is a principle difference between road racing and trail racing; the earth literally moves and shifts beneath your feet.

 
Because trail running is so different than road running, the equipment you need is also very different. You can’t expect to hit the trail in the same sneakers you use to take on road running. This is because to help you maintain your balance, trail running shoes are designed much differently. These designs include more aggressive treads, deeper lugs, stiffer soles and shock-absorbing plates to protect from the increased shock runners experience from rocks, twigs, etc.

 
The basic components between trail running and road running are the same. An experienced road runner will have decent stamina to succeed at trail running. However, a trail runner needs much more balance and gains a much stronger core than the average road runner.

What’s the Right Sneaker for You?

23406591_SEvery person has their own, unique pair of feet and for every pair of feet there is a pair of sneakers best suited to fit their athletic and comfort needs. Some feet require more support, some need more cushioning and others require less of both. Many athletic injuries begin with your feet and incorrect shoes. Finding the right balance between support and stability is key to preventing these types of injuries.

 
For Flat Feet…
Because flat feet tend to pronate, or roll toward the inside, you will need a athletic shoe to maintain your stability. Sneakers which promote stability and mobility should fulfill your needs. If you experience pain in your feet while exercising, you can also add custom-made shoe inserts to correct foot issues.

 
For High Arches…
Because high arches are by definition the polar opposite of flat feet, you will have opposite needs. This means finding a flexible sneaker to minimize impact to your arches. Flexible athletic shoes with a soft midsole absorb shock. Finding sneakers promoting flexibility and cushioning are your best bet keeping your feet comfortable while exercising.

 
For Neutral Feet…
If you have normal feet, you can choose from a wide variety of athletic shoes. But stay away from extreme options, offering a lot of cushioning or motion control. The muscles in your feet should be actively working to promote strength in leg muscles and joints.

 
Your individual feet are as unique as your fingerprint. Your needs aren’t the same as the next guy, especially when it comes to exercising. Equipping yourself with improper or ill-fitting footwear can lead to discomfort and soreness, limiting your potential to excel. Wearing the right shoes will ensure your comfort over an extended period of time, contributing to your overall fitness goals.

Avoid Injury; Don’t Sleep on Your Stretches

joggingStretching prior to a workout is imperative to your safety. The regular practice prevents injury and allows for an efficient workout. That’s because not only does stretching prevent muscle soreness and injury- removing lactic acid- but it also increases your range of motion. Whether you’re a teen athlete or a grown adult just getting back into fitness, stretching can help you sustain and even avoid muscle pulls and strains.

 

 

For starters, and this may seem obvious, but stretch the muscle group you are about to use. Your body has several groups of muscles and there are several different ways to work them out. And for every workout there is the right stretch for it. Utilizing dynamic stretching at the beginning of a workout will help to warm up most major muscle groups. The movements within the dynamic stretching routine mimic those movements used during the workout but at a less intense level thereby giving time for the muscles to warm up.

 

 

Cold muscles can be likened to an elastic band that needs to be warmed before it can be stretched. A light movement warm up (or dynamic warm up that we use here) for 5 to 8 minutes prior to exercising will add fluidity and mobility to the joints. This will bring blood flow to surrounding muscles and break a light sweat before you start a workout.

 

 

If you feel the need to skip either your post or pre-workout stretch (something we highly discourage) make it your pre workout stretch. It is absolutely necessary to stretch after you work out to alleviate the presence of lactic acid and as much residual pain as possible.

 

 

Making sure you incorporate at least one stretch session into every single workout regimen is crucial. This is because tight muscles have the tendency to tear easily, whereas well stretched muscles can endure much more without tearing. Stretching also balances your center, keeping your joint pairs in alignment, such as your hips or shoulders.