Monday, August 18, 2014

7 Simple Exercises You Can Do While At Work

If you’re lacking the time it takes to have a regular fitness regimen because of work, kids, or life in general then simple exercises you can do while at work could be just what you need. These 7 simple exercises and tips you can do while at work are fast and easy. You can still have a great work out without the need for a gym.

1. Instead of using a desk chair, sit on a large exercise ball. The balance required for sitting on the ball is a great core stabilizer. You’ll be toning and strengthening your ab muscles without even realizing you’re doing it. It takes very little to no concentration, which can leave your brain power for your work.

2. Resistance bands are great for your toning legs and arms. You can hook the bands to the legs of your desk or chair and do arm or leg reps while you’re sitting at your desk. If you are on the phone, switch hands as you do the reps. If you’re typing at your computer, work your legs with the bands.

3. Walk. During breaks walk as much as possible around the office. If you have ankle weights, then strap those on while you’re walking for an added boost.

4. Leave the elevator behind and take the stairs. Even if you’re on the 14th floor, walk up two to three flights and then catch the elevator the rest of the way. Doing just this one thing alone gets your heart pumping, and releases endorphins. It provides a great start to the day which both your body and brain will thank you.

5. Parking. You may not think that your parking spot has anything to do with your fitness level, but parking further away can actually provide a mini cardio session. Make sure to leave extra time so you aren’t late, and park in the furthest parking spot you can find. Strap on those ankle weights and either walk, run, or march up to the building. Don’t worry about how you will look doing it because the body you’ll gain from it will look and make you feel even better.

6. Stretching is always important. Sitting at a desk for 8-9 hours a day can lead to muscle stiffness, loss of flexibility, back and neck pain, restless legs, blood clots, and stiff joints. Of the things you can do for the health of your body, stretching is the most important. You should be getting up every hour to stretch.

7. Easy stretches you can do at your desk can be anything from reaching up to the ceiling with both arms, to touching your toes, to ballet plies. Make sure to give your back a good twist from side to side to stretch both your spine and your abs. Writer’s belly happens when the ligaments in your abs shorten because of sitting for long periods of time resulting in a “pot belly”, so make sure you’re stretching those abs to keep them long and lean.

Finding time to work out and keeping fit can be challenging, but implementing just a few simple things throughout your work day can really make a difference. If you need some extra help, check out these NYC personal trainers

Monday, June 30, 2014

Three Stretches to Help You Look Younger

One of the most effective and inexpensive ways to look and feel younger is to perform these daily stretches that help prevent kyphosis (hunched back), keep the spine mobile, maintain a tall posture and a healthy range of motion in the hips.

Stability Ball Chest Opener
Sit on stability ball of appropriate size, feet planted on floor a little wider than hip width apart. Slowly roll down onto back while walking feet forward. The ball should fully support the spine. Open arms straight out to sides, palms up. Allow back of head to rest on ball, and draw chin up slightly toward ceiling. Drop hips, allowing low back to round naturally against ball, or keep legs and glutes engaged to lightly lift hips. Inhale and exhale fully while holding the stretch, softening shoulder blades into ball.
Spinal Twist
Lie on your back on a mat and hug knees to chest. Next, take arms out to sides, palms up, shoulders anchored to mat. Slowly drop knees toward right side as head turns left. Release trunk rotators as legs sink toward floor. Actively press shoulders down; hold and breathe. Extend both legs straight out to side to intensify this stretch,  as your spine continues to twist gently. After 10–30 seconds, activate core muscles to return to start position. Return to neutral spine and then stretch to opposite side.
Quad Wall Stretch
Position mat flush to flat, smooth wall. Carefully place right knee on floor against wall, shinbone perpendicular to floor, toes pointed. Bring left foot forward to create 90-degree bend in left knee, making sure knee stays behind toes, as if in lunge. Right shinbone is just outside of right thighbone as you press hands into left thigh and rise to tall, one-legged kneeling position. Use core muscles to draw rib cage back toward wall and up over hips. Breathe deeply and hold for 10–30 seconds; then switch sides.
If you need some help with these or any other exercises, feel free to ask our NYC personal trainers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Ultimate Six-Pack Formula

How many times did you go crazy because you couldn’t lose weight around your belly in spite of training hard and eating healthy? Well, the reason belly fat can be so stubborn is that it is as much a hormonal phenomenon as it is a caloric one. Therefore, if you want to shred those extra pounds around your waistline, it is important to address some hormonal issues.
Types of Belly Fat
There are three different types of belly fat in the body. Deep fat, called visceral belly fat, lies around the organs under the abdominal muscles. Superficial subcutaneous belly fat hangs over the waistline. Deep subcutaneous belly fat is the hybrid of the previous two types. Visceral belly fat has greater blood supply and it is less sensitive to insulin, which means it is harder to store and easier to burn (Ibrahim 2010). On the other hand, subcutaneous belly fat is less responsive to fat burning and has less blood supply.
In order for fat to be burned, it needs to be released from a fat cell. This process is called lipolysis. Fat then has to travel through the blood to a cell that will burn it. The process of fat being burned by the destination cell is called lipid oxidation.
The Influence of Hormones on Belly Fat
The primary functions of insulin in muscle cells are to aid muscle growth and get fuel into muscle cells. If muscles become resistant to insulin, it leads to muscle loss, fatigue and poor performance. However, the effect of insulin on fat cells is quite the opposite, meaning that a fat cell resistant to insulin is a good thing. A fat cell that is more insulin resistant will be more likely to release fat and less likely to store it.
Cortisol, sometimes called the stress hormone, can impact belly fat in different ways. For instance, high amounts of cortisol present for long periods of time make people especially prone to accumulating belly fat. This is because cortisol impacts hormones that regulate appetite and is therefore associated with cravings for the wrong foods, making it far more likely to achieve a calorie surplus and gain fat. In addition, cortisol makes smaller fat cells become larger, mature fat cells, which is definitely not a good thing if you are trying to lose belly fat.
Sex hormones
Sex hormones, which include estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, also have a big impact on fat metabolism. Estrogen and progesterone both have anti-insulin and anti-cortisol effects on the belly (Yematani et al. 2013; Pallottini et al. 2008), which makes this hormone combination very effective at controlling belly fat. This is part of the reason why young women can maintain a slim figure more easily than their older counterparts. Testosterone is interesting, because in women higher levels of this hormone are associated with more belly fat, whereas in men lower level are a risk factor for more belly fat.
The Ultimate Six Pack Formula
First of all, it is important to know that standard dieting does not work for belly fat! Burning this type of fat requires both a calorie deficit and balanced hormones. If you eat less and exercise more, you will achieve the calorie deficit, but it will create a hormonal imbalance, making it impossible to lose belly fat.
Since insulin and cortisol have the greatest negative impact on belly fat, they must be controlled.  For the purpose of this formula, let’s call insulin the “starch and sugar” hormone and cortisol the “sleep and stress” hormone.
The natural inclination when dealing with belly fat is simply to focus on eating fewer carbohydrates instead of lowering calories overall. Reducing carbs is a better strategy for belly fat reduction than traditional low-fat dieting (Volek et al. 2004). However, low blood sugar stresses the body and raises cortisol levels (Ebbeling et al. 2012); therefore, you do not want to eat a diet that is too low in carbohydrates, either. The idea is to modify starch/sugar intake to provide energy and stabilize blood sugar, while at the same time lowering insulin slowly over time and keeping cortisol stable. Choosing carbohydrates that are lower in glycemic load can do this, and this approach has been shown to reduce the chance of weight regain (Gross et al. 2013).
Increasing protein intake also decreases the potential for weight regain. Higher protein, along with a lower-carbohydrate diet, has a favorable impact on belly fat as well (Volek et al. 2004; Ebbeling et al. 2012; Soenen et al. 2013).
For instance, protein and vegetables create a hunger suppressing combo with minimal insulin production. The result is fewer calories consumed and a good hormone balance. Regular sleep and stress management also help lower cortisol levels
The six-pack formula focuses on managing stress and consuming protein and fiber over starch and sugar. All types of belly fat will positively respond to this approach.
Two Different Plans
The 3:2:1 Plan
The “eat less, exercise less” approach can be thought of as a 3:2:1 plan. The “3” stands for three meals per day. The “2” means two of those meals should be mostly protein and fiber with less starch. Healthy starch sources include brown rice, quinoa, beans/legumes, sweet potatoes with the skin on, and oats. The “1” means one meal per day should have heavier starch. This meal is best consumed after workout. Another way to look at the 3:2:1 designation is to visualize a plate. Three parts should be vegetables, two parts protein and one part starch. This approach works well for people who are not heavy exercisers. Daily walking and a few weight training sessions are recommended with this plan.
The 3:2:2 Plan
The “eat more, exercise more” approach is for people who exercise regularly. It can be summed up with a 3:2:2 designation. The “3” stands for three meals per day. The first “2” means two snacks per day. The second “2” means you should double the starch intake once per day, after workout as well. You can visualize a plate for this approach as well. The meals and snacks should be half vegetables and then equal parts protein and starch.
Exercises That Help Burn Belly Fat
Short, intense exercise and slow, long duration and relaxing exercise may be the best for burning belly fat. Short, intense exercise elevates testosterone and growth hormone levels, which is favorable for belly fat reduction. On the other hand, slow, long duration and relaxing exercise lowers cortisol levels, which also helps burn belly fat.
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