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Fitness for All: It’s Swimming Season

With the warm weather comes the opening of public pools and home pools and people break out the bathing suit for another season of swimming. For many people, swimming is a good way to wind down after a long day.  But others are using swimming as another means of exercise and they are finding that exercise in the spring and summertime can be fun!

 

Swimming is an excellent way to lose weight and strength train all the while enjoying the beautiful outdoors.  

Exercise experts recommend swimming as a form of exercise because of the great cardiovascular workout you get from swimming.  It is considered a great aerobic exercise because by definition it is an action that maintains an elevated heartbeat for a minimum of 20 minutes. 

You can simply add swimming to your pre-existing aerobic workout to help switch things up and keep your workouts fresh.  Alternate days that you decide to use swimming as your cardio for that day, so you don’t get bored with any one workout.

Like any exercise, you should also start any swimming workout routine by stretching first. You may not realize the affect swimming has on your entire body until it is too late, so be sure to stretch appropriately before you begin. Then start off slow by swimming strides and gradually increasing your speed in the pool.  This will help to elevate your heart rate at a safe pace and help you to last longer during your workout.

Swimming, and using swimming as your key workout, is more about endurance than quickness.  Experts suggest starting out swimming laps for approximately 20 minutes for women and 30 minutes for men.  You can begin to increase your time as necessary and as you continue your workout over the course of weeks or months. 

Again, this will prevent you from getting too tired, too sore, wore out or disappointed in your swimming workout. Try out different strokes when you are swimming, too.  Do some laps using the breaststroke, then switch up and do the backstroke, or even the doggy paddle.  Each swimming stroke using a different variety of muscles and therefore will give you the best overall workout.

Fitness for All: Resistance Band Workout

If you are looking for something different to do to change your typical workout routine, pick up a set of resistance bands and give some of these exercises a try!

 

Front Squat - Stand on a tube band with the feet slightly wider than your shoulders and center of the band between the feet. Holding a handle in each hand, bring the top of the band over each shoulder, securing the band in place by crossing your arms at your chest. Sit straight down, chest up, abs firm, pressing your knees out over your toes. Rise back up to start position and repeat for 8-12 reps.

Bent Over Row - Stand over the center of the band with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly at the knees and hinge at the waist, keeping your hips back. Grasp each handle with hands facing the outside of your knees. With elbows bent, pull the band up toward your hips, squeezing your shoulder blades together until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Lower and row for 10-12 reps.

Bench Press - Anchor a tube band on the bench legs, and lie on the bench, face up. Grabbing a handle in each hand. position them at shoulder height (so your thumbs touch the front of your shoulders). Extend the arms straight up overhead to full extension, moving your hands toward each other at the top. Lower back down and repeat for 10-12 reps.

Overhead Press - Stand over the center of a tube band with feet shoulder-width apart. Grip each handle, positioning your hands at shoulder level with palms facing each other so your thumbs touch your shoulders. Press straight up, rotating your palms forward as you fully extend your arms. Lower back down slowly and repeat for 8-10 reps.

Russian Twist - Sit on the floor with legs extended, wrapping the center of the band around the bottom of your feet. Hold the free ends in each hand. Slightly bend your knees, keeping your feet on the floor, and lean back at a 45-degree angle. Rotate the band right by bringing your left hand across your body and your right hand down by your right hip. Contracting your oblique muscles, bring the band toward your right hip while keeping your middle and low back neutral. Return to starting position and rotate left then right for a total of 10-12 reps on each side.

Fitness for All: Sculpt Your Body with These Moves

Even though sweater and parka weather are upon us, ‘tis the season to sculpt away that unwanted fat, because let's be honest any season is the perfect time to sculpt away that unwanted fat, right?

To fight fat and sculpt, you need to target your biggest problem areas : like your glutes, thighs, and love handles. Follow these fat-busting moves to get in the best shape this season (or any season!)

Fitness Tips

Problem : Under arm jiggle.

Solution : Tricep dips.

Sit on the floor or a bench with knees bent at 90 degrees and palms facing out, behind you. Raise your body up and down, dipping your rear until it hovers just above the ground. Keep your elbows pointed straight behind you, and you should feel it in your triceps. Do for 60 seconds and repeat three times.

Problem : Flabby chest

Solution : Push-ups

Doing push-ups for 30 seconds followed by a 15-second hold is the key to scoring a toned chest.

Repeat 3 times. (If you can't do a traditional push-up, try an incline variation, placing your hands on a bench.)

Problem : Belly fat

Solution : Mountain climbers

Hold a high plank position for 30 seconds, keeping a flat back.  Quickly bring right knee to right elbow, then left knee to left elbow in fast movements for 30 seconds.

Problem : Love handles

Solution : Side forearm plank

Start with a traditional forearm plank, elbows under shoulders and forearms parallel, abdominals engaged. Slide your palms toward your centerline so your thumb and forefingers connect. Then stack your left hip on your right, placing your left palm on your left hip. Use your abs and pull your navel to your spine as you press your shins and thighs together. Reach your left (or top) arm up to the sky to open your chest while you press your hip up. Press up 10 times. Repeat on right side.

Fitness for All: Ineffective Workouts to Avoid

Despite what many people believe, not all workouts are effective and conducive to losing weight and toning up.  There are several workouts that you will see people doing at your gym any given day of the week that are ineffective.

Unless you have the best form and are using some of these machines like textbook, then you may be doing more harm than good to your body.

Ineffective workouts

The following are some examples of the least effective exercises that you can do:

  • Behind the Head Lat Pull Downs: Unfortunately, only those with very mobile shoulder joints can keep their spine straight enough to get a good workout from the behind the back lat pull down bar. The move done wrong can tear the rotator cuff.
  • Behind the Head Military Press: This exercise done similarly to the behind the head lat pull down, can cause the same problems with the rotator cuff that other exercise could cause.
  • Lying Leg Press (with knees bent too deeply): This exercise is typically done to work your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes and is done on a machine where you use your feet to push a weighted plate up and down.  If you bend your knees too far, then you can seriously injure your back and/or knees.
  • Squats on a Smith Machine: While the Smith Machine is generally an effective machine, the bar on the machine doesn't give, which can force the body into risky positions, including placing their feet too far in front of them while doing their squats.
  • Using Bad Form on Cardio Machines: While using bad form is not good on any machine, using bad form on cardio equipment is a big no-no. Hunching over can throw off your alignment, jarring your spine, shoulders and elbows.
  • Always Lifting with a Weight Belt: Unless you have a back injury, are lifting a lot of weight or if you have some other medical reason, then a weight belt is not necessary.  Wearing a weight belt too often can weaken your core muscles, throwing off your entire workout.