You may have heard about compound exercises or functional exercises, and how they’re supposed to be more beneficial than isolated exercises. But what does it all mean?
Compound exercises (or functional exercises) refers to exercise that simulates real-life activities and uses a wide variety of movements through a wide range of motion. They use multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time, for example, squats engage the quadriceps (front of thigh), the hamstrings (back of thigh), the calves, the glutes (butt), the lower back and the core.
Isolation exercises work only one muscle or muscle group and only one joint at a time, for example, a bicep curl or the quadricep extension. These exercises are often done with weight machines, which can isolate one muscle group easily. Isolation exercises are frequently used in physical therapy to correct a specific muscle weakness or imbalance that often occurs after injury, illness, surgery or disease.
There are times when isolation exercise is exactly the right thing to do to regain fitness. Most of the time, however, you’ll benefit from compound exercises more. Fill your workout with squats, lunges, pushups, dips, pullups, and jumping rope. (And, you know, dance. Because it’s fun, and it uses a lot of muscle groups.)
Stay involved in your child’s physical education classes at school.
Ask about the frequency of classes, the length of classes, the activities, class size and curriculum. Ask about the teacher’s philosophy concerning children’s fitness. While you’re at it, ask about recess – frequency and length, and what kids are able to do during that time. If possible, offer to help coach an activity you’re good at.
This is not just for parents. Community members are taxpayers, and their opinion matters, too. When we all (the whole village) demand excellence from our schools, our kids and our communities benefit. So get vocal about physical education, recess, and sports in your schools.
Remember burpees? Probably from gym class, unless you’ve taken a boot camp fitness class recently.
Burpees are … not our favorite thing to do. But they are effective, and they work a lot of major muscle groups, as well as calling on smaller muscles for stabilization. And they raise our heart rate, too, but we’re not sure that’s an intended benefit.
- Start by standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder distance apart.
- Squat into a frog-like stance, planting your hands inside your feet.
- Jump your feet back, so you’re in a plank position (the “up” pose of a push-up).
- Do a pushup. If you need to put your knees down to do a pushup, that’s okay. Make sure you have good form.
- Jump your feet back up to your hands, so your knees are outside of your arms.
- Stand up. (Or jump up.)
That’s one. (And one is a lot of work! But it’s working for you… for your body and for your health. Think about the benefits. Think about being strong and powerful.)
Start with three sets of eight burpees. Build up from there!
Foul weather – in this case, horribly hot and humid weather (alternating with thunderstorms) is no excuse for not working out. It’s just weather. It’s not a “not sure whether I want to” excuse.
Use the weather to help you mix up your routine. Walk on a treadmill, take a spin on a stationary bike, jog on a mini-trampoline, jump rope, or drive to your local mall for an indoor power-walk! The most important thing is to find an indoor option – or two or three – that you enjoy.
When the weather clears and the season changes, you want to emerge fit and fabulous, not flabby! Keep it up no matter the weather. Become your best!
In honor of today being the last mountain stage in this year’s Tour de France (and the 100th anniversary of the Tour being in the Alps), why not get on your bicycle today? Create your own “Tour” and identify trails that you can make into different stages. Over the course of the next couple of months, you can see your region from the seat of a bicycle!
The links below have different kinds of trails listed for all of North America. Check here for information about some major European trails.
- Mountain biking * thousands of jeep and forest roads, singletrack and double-track trails, gravel rail-trails, technical hillclimbs and steep descents, easy cruisers and epic rides– something for mountain bike riders of all abilities and experience levels
- Rails-to-Trails * former railway lines that have been converted to multi-use trails for public access and enjoyment. The nationwide rails-to-trails effort has yielded great trails and paths around the country for walking and running, road and mountain biking, in-line skating, and horseback riding for equestrians
- Road biking * everything from easy road biking routes and rambles to moderately strenuous cruises and extended epic century bike rides – on thousands of back roads, country roads, cycling routes, and paved rail-trails
When was the last time you got new workout shoes?
No matter what kind of workout you do, your shoes are a critical part of your success (well, unless you’re swimming). Be sure you’re wearing the right style of shoe for the exercise you do. We made that mistake – buying running shoes and using them for walking led to a year (because we’re stubborn about admitting our mistakes) of tired legs, creaky knees and weak ankles. New – appropriate – shoes fixed all those problems.
Shop at a sporting goods store – you don’t have to buy the shoes there, but you can get a good idea of what’s available for your workout, and how different shoes feel.
Replace your shoes often. You can get a little extra wear from your fitness shoes by swapping out the insoles for a good-quality sport insole and replacing that a couple of times, but you need to replace your workout shoes pretty much every year. You don’t have to throw them away; most of them can be used for yardwork or painting for awhile . This really is one place to spend your money.
Now, if you thought this post was going to be about pedicures and fitness? Sorry. But you can always get a pedicure and then protect those pretty toes in the right workout shoes.
If standard crunches are starting to get old, give reverse crunches a try. They’ll work your lower abs, which can be a problem area for women.
- Lie on your back with your hands palm-down just beneath your buttocks and your back pressed flat to the floor.
- Bend your knees, cross your ankles, and lift your legs up so your calves are at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
- Contract your lower abs, pulling your hips up off the floor a few inches and release. Exhale as you lift your bent knees toward your chest and keep your knees bent at the same angle throughout. The movement should be very small and controlled, using your abdominal muscles, not momentum, to lift your lower half off the floor.
- Repeat two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, resting for 15 seconds between sets.
Indoors or out, bicycling is a great way to burn calories while having fun. Outdoor bicycling is a great way to spend part of your holiday weekend, too.
Here are some tips for a healthy bike ride *
- Wear a helmet when biking outdoors.
- Adjust your bike for a proper fit. When seats or handlebars are too low, you can strain your knees, back, neck, arms, and wrists.
- Check the pedal resistance. Too much resistance strains your quads and knees, while too little can hurt the back and pelvis.
- Wear padded shorts and make sure the seat is a good fit to avoid saddle soreness.
- Minimize blisters with shoes and socks that fit properly and absorb moisture.
- Stay hydrated! Carry and drink water on your ride.
- Know local traffic regulations – use special bike paths if they’re available. Call out to pedestrians (“on your left”) as you come up behind them and pass on the left.
- Use motivational music if you’re spinning inside – create an MP3 or iPod folder with music that changes speed to create a climb.
- Invite your kids or teens to come along for the ride.
Do you want a better looking behind? Start working on your rear view for great buns all summer.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, arms at your sides.
- Lift your booty 3 to 6 inches off the floor by tilting your pelvis up, squeezing your glutes (buttocks), and tightening your abdominals (stomach). Do the movement slowly and with control, focusing on the muscles.
- Hold that position for a few seconds, and then slowly lower down one vertebrae at a time.
- Go for 2 sets of 12 reps.
Got the basic move mastered? Increase the challenge by balancing one heel on top of the other knee or by extending one leg out straight during the lift (alternate sets from one side to the other).
What we believe about ourselves is what we become. So why not tell yourself some amazing things about how fit and strong you are? About your commitment to exercise and wellness? About how awesome your body is?
Some of the experts suggest that you say your affirmations while looking at yourself in a mirror. That’s pretty powerful. But we like to use them as the rhythm to our exercise. You can walk or run or pedal or stroke (that’s swimming, people) to your own affirmations. You can lift and release weights to your words – in fact, those words will slow down your weight lifting, giving you a bigger benefit on the release/negative side of the lift.
Try some of these and see how they fit you. Or make up your own affirmations. Just be sure you describe the person you want to be.
- I am a perfect example of health and fitness.
- I am strong and my body is powerful.
- My body is lean and fit.
- I have excellent posture and form becaue.
- My fitness routine is enjoyable, energetic and easy!
- My daily fitness routine gives me excellent results.
- During my work-out routine, I feel healthier and healthier by the minute.
- I enjoy exercising and my fitness routine gives me excellent results.
- My physical fitness clearly shows that I have a fitness regimen.
- I take care of myself by working out daily and eating right.
- My body is firm, healthy and metabolically fast.
- I have a fast metabolism, a healthy spirit and friendly personality.