Thursday, April 19, 2012

4 Yoga Poses For The Long-Distance Runner

Going off my post on Yoga being an athlete's best friend I've put something special together for you long distance runners...Enjoy!!

Yoga is a relaxing but challenging exercise practice that stimulates flexibility and muscle strength. It’s easy to assume that yoga is easy and casual, but it actually brings about a different type of challenge for athletes. When yoga is paired with training in other areas of fitness, it improves overall performance for competitions.

Long-distance runners endure a lot of joint stress. When performed properly, yoga strengthens the joints and slow-twitch muscle fibers. It is the slow-twitch muscles that build power for running long distances for a long period of time. Certain poses are better for long-distance runners. Yoga is excellent for increased core strength, pain prevention, range of motion, balance and flexibility. These poses will help improve race times and overall strength.

Wall Dog: This move is similar to downward-dog pose. It involves a wall instead of a floor. This move is excellent for runners that need to stretch in a random place before working out. The floor may not always be clean, so a wall or tree makes a good alternative. Stand facing a wall, relaxed with hips shoulder-width apart touching the wall. Fingertips should be pointing upwards. Step back a few times so that your butt is sticking out and your back is flat. Stretch and lengthen the back. You should feel this in your back, hamstrings, lats and hip muscles.

Hamstring Stretch: This pose is actually called “runners pose.” A hamstring stretch is important for long-distance runners. It builds flexibility and strength. Flexible hamstrings also encourage proper posture. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend arms behind your body. Step your right foot back a few paces. It should be far enough that you are working to hold your body up but still stable enough to hold the pose. Suck your belly in at the bellybutton. Bend forward without curving. The back must remain straight. Return to start. Switch legs.

Lunge: There are a few types of lunges. The yoga lunge is different from a strength-training lunge. To get into this pose, bend your knee at a 90 degree angle. The knee should never go over the toes or ankle. Stretch your torso out beside your leg. Keep your back straight and hips stable. Rest hands on each side of your foot for support. The opposite leg should be straight. You should be lightly balancing with your toes on the opposite leg. This strengthens the back, Achilles tendons and calves.

Tips For Long-Distance Runners Doing Yoga

•           Never bounce while stretching.•           Hold poses in a controlled manner.•           If it hurts, stop the pose immediately.•           Practice daily after running. Three times per week is sufficient if daily isn’t possible.•           Modify if your hips and hamstrings are tight. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Use Your Favorite Celebrity as MOTIVATION

Celebrities are always doing their best to look amazing, so it's no wonder that they have their own special diets and workout routines that they follow strictly. We all know diet and exercise programs can be hard to follow and stick to so it’s always a good idea to try something new every now and then.  By basing your program off a celebrity’s you can also compare your body type to theirs so you can be sure to find the best one for you.

The Zone Diet

One of the hottest diets being used right now by the likes of Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston, as well as Sandra Bullock is the Zone Diet. Based on a balanced diet following the 40/30/30 ratio which means 40 percent of your calories from carbs, 30 percent from protein, and then 30 percent from fat, the balanced diet allows maximum energy output for those looking to enhance their workout ability.

Different from other popular diets, the Zone Diet promotes more of a balanced nutrient selection instead of the standard high carb, low fat and protein options that dominated the weight loss industry throughout much of the last decade.  If you are looking for proof of its effectiveness, have you seen any of the aforementioned celebrities lately? Starting a new yoga or spinning class works perfectly while fueling your body with this type of meal plan.

The Pressed Juicery Diet

Detox diets have been all the rage lately as well and have come back into the spotlight recently with use by celebrities such as Gwen Stefani and Nichole Richie. The diet is arguably the simplest and easiest to use as it only requires drinking six, 16 ounce juices throughout the day resulting in a cleansing effect as well as an amazing amount of weight loss. By refueling your body with essential vitamins and nutrients only found in pressed fruits, you are flushing your body of the bad and adding a whole lot more of the nutrients your body needs.   

Drinking fresh pressed juices roughly every two hours, the Pressed Juicery Diet keeps you full and satiated as you are ingesting 100 percent liquid throughout the entire day. This diet works well as a cleanse or a restart to a fresh diet. Light exercise can be done while on this diet, but you definitely don't want to overdo it as your body is in a "cleansing mode" and will be using much of its energy resources clearing your body of all the bad toxins you have accumulated over the years.

The Raw Food Diet

The last popular diet many celebrities are having success with is the Raw Food Diet. The diet is based on the ingestion of raw and uncooked, but safe to eat foods such as beans, dehydrated fruit, whole grains, and other vegetarian choice foods. Celebrities such as Woody Harrelson and Robin Williams have used and benefited from the Raw Food Diet even with a busy and on the go lifestyle that most actors have. Combining heavy cardio and light lifting with this diet has shown to produce the best results for celebrities.

Celebrities have a constant focus of staying in shape with all the eyes and cameras that are always around them. Following one of these focused and proven diets will get you back into shape like your favorite celebrity in no time at all!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yoga...The Athlete's Best Friend

Yoga may have a long and mysterious history, but its recent application to athletic training makes sense for several reasons.  A good athlete is not just a physical machine on the field. Finding a way to make the all-important connection between the mind and the body will result in better performance, increased focus and longer endurance.

One of the key components of a yoga workout is the emphasis on controlled breathing. By practicing correct, intentional breathing, the athlete learns how to stay “in the moment.” Pre-game jitters and performance anxiety will be better managed. As breathing is slowed and controlled, the ability to concentrate and to endure increases even when the demands of the sport or the level of intensity rises. Deep, relaxed breathing allows greater mental focus and mental clarity. Staying calm and grounded could make the difference between a successfully executed move and a sloppy, panicky action.

Yoga exercises are designed to create increased flexibility. Stretching muscles not only relieves muscle tension, but increases available range of motion for the athlete. This extended mobility can greatly affect performance in sports as varied as golf or marathon running. Yoga stretches are also ideal transition movements before or after a highly-intensive workout or competition.

Almost every athletic sport requires a strong, stable core, but not all activities work these important muscle groups. Yoga, however, focuses many of its positions on strengthening the body’s trunk muscles. Because the movements are focused and deliberate, the body responds by growing stronger. With a powerful mid-section, an athlete is better able to perform in a variety of sports activities.

The isometric contractions involved in yoga exercises can also be used as a nice change from the more traditional resistance exercises. Since boredom is an enemy of many workouts, yoga provides a welcome variety, and with literally hundreds of positions of varying degrees of difficulty, there is always room to change out any exercise routine. Most athletes today value cross training to increase their overall levels of physical fitness, and yoga exercises are useful for this purpose.

Good athletes also need to be able to maintain their balance in a variety of positions and performance tasks. Often, specific muscle groups are worked extensively in a particular sport while others are virtually ignored. Yoga can correct these unintentional muscle imbalances and resulting body mechanics problems. The results are valuable musco-skeletal realignment and restoration.  

Another benefit of yoga is its adaptability to a wide range of athletic sports. It can be done at high or low-intensity levels and adjusted to varying levels of flexibility and difficulty. Yoga exercises can be performed by all ages and those in varying levels of physical health. For athletes who are recovering from injuries, yoga exercises can be gentle but helpful in speeding recovery.  

Specific yoga exercises can be targeted to particular sports requirements. For example, golfers and tennis players need to build core muscle strength and endurance. Yoga poses such as the Plank, Side Plank and Warrior Positions can be beneficial. Skaters often deal with tight groin or hip adductor muscles. The Happy Baby, Lying Bound Angle and Straddle Forward Bend can be useful for these athletes. For runners with tight hamstrings, the Forward Fold, Seated Fold and Downward Facing Dog can improve calf, hip and lower-back flexibility as well as strengthening the hamstrings and glutes.

In terms of general benefits that apply to both the athlete and the non-athlete, yoga exercises increase blood circulation and organ function. They speed up the metabolism of stored fat and aid in muscle recovery. A stronger, healthier body will be less prone to injury, more powerful and more efficient. Working out with yoga exercises should be a serious consideration for every athlete.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Workouts For The Busy Mom

You have to give it up for the busy moms, taking care of children is a daunting task and often leaves little time for mothers to focus on themselves. However, staying healthy and strong is one of the best things mothers can do for their children. Incorporating exercise into their daily routine can keep mothers feeling fit and happy.
It is not necessary to go to the gym everyday to get a great workout nor are home gyms an absolute necessity either. Many mothers have difficulty finding the time to leave the house to workout, so if you like many are unable to purchase your own home gym equipment, consider purchasing a yoga DVD for a great home workout. There is little equipment required for this activity. In addition to the instructional DVD, the only thing needed is a yoga mat. Yoga focuses on mediation and teaches certain moves that will build strength and flexibility. 

Many new mothers find it difficult to get rid of excess fat in the abdominal area after having a child. This can be especially discouraging because fat in this area is often stubborn and nearly impossible to remove with diet alone. Pilates is a type of exercise that focuses on core strength and will help tighten and tone all areas of the body, especially the abdominal area. You can purchase an instructional Pilates DVD or you can find a local gym or YMCA that offers group Pilates classes weekly. This can be a great way to get out of the house and get in great shape. Many people find group class settings very friendly and many mothers look forward to their weekly workout times. Most gyms offer child care for those who need a baby sitter during the hour long class.

Kettlebells are weighted balls that have a handle on the top. These weights are a great way to incorporate strengthening exercises into your workout without leaving your home. Most kettlebells are sold in sets at sporting goods stores. Using kettlebells can increase lean muscle tissue, reduce body fat and increase strength. A variety of exercises can be done with kettlebells and most sets have workout plans included.

Busy moms who exercise on a regular basis will return to their pre-pregnancy weight more quickly, have less stress and have more stamina to care for their children than mothers who do not exercise. Diet is another important part of being healthy and fit. Eating a diet rich in lean protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates will give mothers energy to get through their busy day. 

Any Mom's have some simple tips of their own?? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Smoothies with Benefits

Adding fresh shakes and smoothies to your daily routine has been proven to provide many health benefits that can both revitalize, and re-energize your body and mind. Making a healthy smoothie or a post workout protein shake is quick and easy. With many different recipes available, it's easy to find an option that can provide a healthy alternative to a regular meal.

Starting a new smoothie and shake regime is simple enough for just about anyone. The vital components you'll need to get started are a dependable blender, and as many different kinds of fruits and vegetables you can find recipes for. With all the added fiber and nutrients you'll be ingesting, it's quite common to notice a positive effect (mind and body) in just a short amount of time.

One popular option is using healthy smoothies as a full meal replacement. By combining a full banana, a cup of green grapes, 4-6 ounces of yogurt, half an apple (chopped), and a half cup of fresh spinach leaves, you can create a healthy and sweet breakfast shake that never gets old.

By adding 2-3 fresh fruits and at least one healthy green vegetable, it's easy to mix and match your smoothie flavors to suit your specific tastes. Replacing one of your regular meals with these healthy alternatives, you will be giving your body the nutrients that are only available by fresh fruits and vegetables in a quick on the go meal.

Another great option is for those with a "juicing" type blender, or one that extracts all the juice and nutrients from a fruit or vegetable. "Green Smoothies" as they are known by, are increasing in popularity as they provide all the Phytochemicals (disease fighting chemicals) that are only available in fresh plant based food options.

In addition, what has become an essential part of any great athletes diet plan, a post workout shake is a vital component in rebuilding muscle after en exhausting workout. With many protein shake options available, it's often not difficult to find one that tastes decent while still providing all the essential nutrients a shake can provide. Luckily, the use of Almond Milk helps provide both.

As a creamy substitute for regular milk, Almond Milk provides a low calorie and great tasting option for those looking for the benefits of a post workout shake (and all you vegans!). Combining a cup of Almond Milk, a scoop (50 grams) of protein powder, as well as half a banana in a blender, combines into one of the tastiest shake options available. You can also add a few cubes of ice into the blender to ensure it stays nice and cold for an extended period of time.

Adding these ingredients into your daily diet not only makes it healthy, but a quick and easy alternative to your standard food choices. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Dreadful Monday Morning Workout

For me personally, mornings are the best time for me to get my power workout in for the day.  It starts my day of right, wakes me up a bit before my work day beings and best of all,come the end of the day…my workout is done! Giving me extra time to either get another workout out in (sometimes this is when I choose to take a relaxed run in a scenic place) or just do whatever I want for the rest of the night. Also it doesn’t give me a chance to make an excuse to not get to the gym (aka “I’m too tired from the workday” or “I have so much to get done still!”)…but if you’re anything like me, getting going in the morning, especially on Mondays is the worst!  So here’s some tips to make it a little less painful:

Keeping up a workout schedule and maintaining that schedule, even when we don’t feel like it, is a key step in any successful exercise regime. While this may be true, like I said, it can be particularly difficult to stick to come Monday morning. We’ve become sluggish over the weekend, we have a full work week ahead of us and despite our best intentions, we just don’t want to face it.

To fix this problem, nip it in the bud before it can even get started. One of the most difficult parts of a Monday workout is feeling too tired. Counteract this by getting plenty of rest Sunday night, so you wake rejuvenated and ready to get moving. Also, get your gym bag packed up Sunday evening and place it by the door, so you have everything you need ready and waiting. In this manner, you don’t have to get discouraged by the thought that all your workout materials are scattered around the house.

Lack of motivation can also be a factor in feeling sluggish toward a Monday workout. Solve this by making the Monday exercise something that you love to do. If you enjoy swimming, make Monday’s exercise a few laps in the pool. If you love music, do a hip hop aerobics routine to your favorite tunes. Or, plan a Pilates session followed by some time in the gym sauna. This strategy can turn something grueling into something you actually look forward to.

Whatever you do, remember to be strict with yourself come Monday morning. It will set the tone for your whole week and keep you motivated in the days to follow.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Getting In To Yoga: What You Should Expect Your First Time

For those who have never taken a yoga class before, trust me I know it can be a more intimating workout.  Not because of the people coming out of the classes sweating and keeled over, but because it’s a different workout that many don’t know what to expect from.  I was in you’re position before though, and being a more athletic boxer build, it’s an exercise that I was convinced I would never be good at.  But please first read this and then really rethink signing up for a class…it’ll be worth it!

Before taking your first yoga class, it's important to know what to expect. While most people are familiar with the basic principles of yoga, many aren't sure what a typical class entails, or how they should prepare. With these basic tips, you'll begin your first yoga class with confidence, knowledge and excitement!

Different Kinds of Yoga
There are several different types of yoga, the most well-known being hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is typically recommended for beginners, as other forms utilize basic hatha principles, but add other elements.

Bikram yoga, sometimes referred to as "hot yoga," takes place in an environment that has been heated to approximately 105 degrees. Although beginners can excel at bikram, it's good to get a basic knowledge of yoga before attempting poses at such high temperatures. Likewise, individuals with breathing difficulties and other health problems should take caution when attempting bikram yoga.

Ashtanga yoga focuses more on breathing and the flow of movements rather than on the actual poses. Though not as popular as hatha and bikram, ashtanga yoga provides many physical and mental benefits, including calming the mind and increasing balance.

What to Expect
Most yoga instructors begin class with a warmup of some kind. This can include simple poses, as well as meditation and reflection. Next, he or she will lead the class in a series of poses, which are performed in a sequence that has been designed for optimum benefits.

If you're concerned about not being able to perform some of the more advanced poses, don't worry: most poses have varying degrees of difficulty, and can be easily modified for beginners. Often, the instructor or an assistant will show examples of modified poses.

What to Wear
Loose, comfortable clothing is usually best when practicing most forms of yoga. yoga. You'll be stretching and bending quite a bit, and tight or constrictive clothes may hinder your movement, which could make your workout less successful.

Hot yoga, on the other hand, is a different story. Because of the heat and humidity involved in a hot yoga session, it's usually best to keep clothing to a minimum. For these types of classes, shorts and tank tops are the best clothing options.

What to Bring
Prior to your first class, you'll probably want to purchase your own yoga mat. Many gyms and yoga studios have mats you can use, but, with all the sweating involved, it's better to have your own. You should also bring a water bottle, a towel and a change of clothes. It isn't recommended to bring an mp3 to yoga class, as you'll need to hear the instructor when it's time to change poses.

Yoga is one of the most popular workouts in the world. Now that you're ready for your first class, you, too, can enjoy the many benefits yoga has to offer! 

Here's a short video that I found from  It will show you a basic flow pattern: