Exercises You Should Try: The Seated Row with Chest Support

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Reasons to Try the Seated Row with Chest Support: Rowing is a physiologically intuitive motion, bringing natural and rhythmic exertion to the muscles of the upper back. While the movement properly practiced is natural and beneficial, bad habits involving poor technique can place undue stress on the lower back. As an exercise that combines this beneficial motion with a support mechanism to ensure proper form, the seated row with chest support is an exercise you should consider.  By placing very specific demands on the upper region of the human back, this exercise forces activated muscle groups to respond and strengthen, while protecting the lower region of the back against excessive strain and potential injury.  Consider some of the benefits of the chest-supported row:

Enhancing your Back’s Function

Integrating a rowing motion into your routine can improve the functioning of your back. As a rowing motion that activates the Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major, Rhomboid, and Posterior Deltoid, and Biceps Bracii, the seated row with chest support galvanizes the major muscle groups of the upper back. This increased workload brings about neurological and muscular changes in the aforementioned muscles, aiding muscle tone, function, size, coordination and strength. Improved function in the upper back is also helpful in the prevention of shoulder and chest injuries.

Aiding your Technique

Rounding your back during a rowing exercise places exorbitant stress on the lower back, leaving you vulnerable and prone to injury. As the name suggests, the seated row with chest support has a padded mechanism to ensure that your back remains flat during the motion. With greater ability to perform this exercise properly, you will be able to better focus on engaging the muscles of your back.

Balancing your Push-Pull Variation

Any good routine will have a balance mixture of pushing and pulling motions. Focusing on one type of movement to the exclusion of the other can result in strength inequity and greater vulnerability to injury.  As a reciprocal movement to the bench press, the seated row with chest support gives you a motion that balances your routine. If you spend a disproportionate amount of time on pushing motions, consider this exercise as a way of complementing and enhancing your exercise sessions.

 Suggestions:

  • Start Light – As with any new exercise, the body needs time to adjust to the movement. Getting the biomechanics down is not automatic, and thus requires a good amount of time and practice. Keep the movement steady and controlled, and avoid rocking. Move deliberately and gradually. Try light weight and high repetitions in your initial sessions, get the technique down, and add weight as you feel more comfortable.
  • Be Consistent – In realizing the benefit of any exercise, it is important to perform it with regularity. Your body needs time to adapt to the motion and benefit from it. If you are wondering why you are not benefitting from the exercise, set up a routine and stay with it!
  • Be Creative – You don’t need a machine or gym membership to incorporate this motion. You can replicate it easily with a slightly inclined bench and some dumbbells.

Reference: Baechle, Thomas, Earle, Roger. NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training

Originally posted 2013-10-24 13:16:50.

5 Great Strength Training Moves for Runners

Believe it or not, training for running a race involves more than putting miles on your running shoes. Strength training is an important part of race training. Integrating strength training into your running routine will help prevent injury, build up supporting muscles, and increase speed over time.

Running activates numerous muscles throughout the body, but one of the most important areas is the “core.” The core includes the abs, back, and hips.  According to Runner’s World, core strength improves running performance and reduces risk of injury. I can personally vouch for the importance of core training too.  Last year, when I didn’t include core training in my preparation for a race,  I experienced breathing issues, as well as the much-feared “side stitch.” Avoid the mistake I made and be sure to train your core for better running performance.  

One great move to increase ab strength:

Planking. Planks can be done from the forearms or hands in a basic push-up position, as well as on each side of the body to target your obliques. Hold a front plank and side planks for 30 seconds each (or no longer than you can maintain perfect form) for severals set. Or test your strength to see how long you can hold the plank (with proper form).

Some moves to increase lower back strength:

If you’re a runner, it’s crucial that you give special attention to strengthening your lower back. I suffered a back injury a couple of years ago, which had to do with the fact that all I was doing in my training was running. Lower back pain is common today, a product of sitting in the same position for long periods at a desk, or at the opposite spectrum, from standing in the same position all day. The mild back pain caused by lack of movement can generally be relieved with strength training. (Be sure to check with your doctor if you have moderate to severe lower back pain before attempting any of these exercises.)

Bridges. Lie on your back with feet on the floor. Tighten abs and glutes to raise your body off of the floor towards the ceiling. You can do a number of reps in a rhythmic up/down motion, or hold the position for a period of time. Do 15-20 reps or one 30 second interval for a set.

Back extension. This move can be done with an exercise ball or with weights. Lie face down on an exercise ball, with hands behind your head and feet against a sturdy object (such as your couch or a wall). Squeeze your glutes and raise yourself slightly off the ball until your body forms a straight line. Hold the raised position for 30 seconds or do 10-15 repetitions for a set.

(See links below for more lower back exercises.)

Here are some moves to incorporate to develop supporting or stabilizing muscles in your legs:

You’d be surprised at how many runners neglect training their legs, since they figure they are getting their leg workout in when they run. Yet, running without strength training can cause weaknesses and imbalances in the leg muscles. When these supporting or stabilizing leg muscles are weak, incurring an injury while training or racing is more likely.

Single leg squats. This move focuses on building stability in each leg. Stand in a squat position, but place more weight on one side and only keep the toe of the other foot on the ground. Squat down, with back straight and focus on the one leg going down and up. Do 10-15 of these on each side for a set.

Dead lifts. This move simultaneously works multiple leg and core muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, quads, and back muscles. With legs slightly bent (to prevent injury) stand with feet at a hips-width apart, free weights or bar in front of you (with bar centered over the top of your feet). Keeping your back straight, bend slowly at the waist until your weights or bar come to your knees (or wherever you feel comfortable). Focus on feeling an equal stretch in your left and right hamstring. Do 15-20 reps for a set. Read this article for more on dead lifts.

You can use all of the moves in this article for a quick strength training routine to support your running, doing 2-3 sets of each. Remember, focus on form over quantity for the best results!

Questions:

Do you integrate strength training while training for a race?

Have you ever been injured while training for a race? How are you healing and/or preventing this from happening again?

Sources: Runner’s World article: Strength TrainingRunner’s World article: The Core of the MatterDiary of a Semi-Health Nut: 10 Moves for a Strong Lower Back.

Originally posted 2013-09-24 15:38:07.

Surf-Specific Strength Training

56th_2012_09_29-7Wave surfing requires a unique combination of anaerobic and aerobic strengths.  A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that the the primary activities performed by surfers can be broken down into the following percentages:

  • Aerobic Paddling – Approximately 54% of time in water
  • Anaerobic Sprint Paddling for Waves – Approximately 8% of time in water
  • Standing and Riding Waves – Approximately 4% of time in water

Correlating well with these activities, another study found that top competitive surfers had one primary strength in common: anaerobic paddling power.  While there are undoubtedly a number of others skills involved in surfing, paddling power is perhaps the most important factors for being able to catch the waves that provide the best rides.  

Once a wave is caught, however, a number of other factors come into play. The four primary athletic abilities surfers should work to improve include: 

  • Pulling power and endurance: Anaerobic rowing power is directly related to paddling power.  Improve paddling power by performing barbell rows, cable pull-downs, seated rows, and cleans. Use heavier weight to gain strength (an amount you can do about 5 sets of 5 reps with) and higher reps to build muscle and paddling endurance (for example, a weight that you can perform 4 sets of 10 with). 
  • Pushing power: Pushing power is essential for the “pop-up” phase of getting up on the board while catching a wave. Improve pop-up power by performing push-ups (especially plyometric versions like claps push-ups or using a medicine ball), bench-press, and burpees.
  • Core Strength/Balance: One you’re up on the board, turning and controlling the board requires balance and twisting at the hips; it’s all in the core.  There are a variety of ways to build core-strength.  Deadlifts and squats are two of the best core and leg strengthening exercises, but there are other-surf specific exercises that are good too.  Some surf-specific core-exercises include performing kettle-bell cleans while balancing on a Bosu ball, performing squats on a balance board, or walking a slack-line.  
  • Squat Strength: Squat strength is another important part of getting up on the board as well as controlling it once you’re riding a wave.  Squat/leg strength is closely related to core strength.  Some great exercises include squats, cleans, wall-sits, and box jumps.

Remember, surfing requires a unique set of endurance and power, so be sure to vary your workout.  Also, in all of the studies related to surf performance, overall strength wasn’t as important as relative strength.  In other words, how well you’re able to surf is directly related to your ability to effectively and quickly move your own body weight.  Weight-lifting with explosive but controlled movements will help you develop the power you need to catch waves swiftly and effectively.  

For a few examples of surf-specific exercises, check out the videos below.  Have fun!

References: Association Between Anthropometry and Upper-Body Strength Qualities With Sprint Paddling Performance in Competitive Wave Surfers; Physiological Demands of Competitive Surfing; Anaerobic and Aerobic Fitness Profiling of Competitive Surfers

Photo Credit: Andy Langeland

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Originally posted 2013-09-19 14:09:43.

Weight-Lifting Exercises to Improve at Rock Climbing

Improving at any sport always makes it that much more enjoyable, and climbing’s no exception.  Of course, the best way to improve in climbing is to climb, but incorporating other workouts can speed the process along and provide a boost when stuck in a climbing plateau.  According to research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, the two athletic abilities most correlated with climbing ability are the one arm lock-out and grip strength.  There a number of weight-lifting routines that can easily and  effectively improve these two abilities (there are also some great body-weight exercises, but that’s for another post). Here’s are the best weight-lifting options for improving climbing:

Cable Lat Pull-Downs and Variations: While cable  pull-downs don’t exactly mimic the muscle movements of a pull-up (or rock climbing), it is a very similar workout that targets the same major muscle groups.  The advantage of incorporating lat pull-downs into your workout is that you can focus specifically on back and arm strength by controlling technique and weight.  While weight can be added to pull-ups, it’s easier to add more weight to cable pull-downs.  Also, by doing one-armed pull-downs, cable can make it easier to focus on building equal arm strength.  

Try doing various repetitions, such as 3 sets of 8 to build more muscle or 4 sets of 4 to build strength.  Build climbing-specific strength by adding heavy weight and pulling the bar down and holding it in the flexed-arm position at the bottom for 5-10 seconds.

Weighted Pull-Ups and Variations: Weighted pull-ups perfectly mimic the primary muscles (including those in the core) that are involved in climbing.  The increased resistance will help build strength and climbing-endurance.  Even if you can only do a few pull-ups, doing one or two pull-ups with extra weight strapped on can help provide significant strength gains.

Try the same variations used with cable pull-downs.

Weight Pinches/Holds: A pinching grip is one of the more important, climbing-specific grips.  To build pinching strength,find a weight plate that is smooth on both sides, such as a rubberized plate, and squeeze it without bending your fingers, perform 6 reps of 10sec holds.  Remember to use the heaviest weight that you can still perform this exercise.  To build palm-gripping strength for round holds, grab the bottom of a kettle-ball and perform a similar routine, cupping the weight you would when palming a basketball.  

Wrist-Curls: This is one of the classic forearm strengthening (and thus grip strengthening) exercises.  Grab a barbell with an amount of weight you can perform 4 sets of 10 with.  Sit on a bench and place your arms on your knees, with your wrists placed just past your knees, then curl the bar towards you, using only wrist movement.  

Strapless Deadlifts: Usually deadlifts are performed primarily to strengthen the body’s major muscle groups (back, core, glutes, and quads), but they can also provide one heck of a forearm workout.  To focus on exercising your forearms, lift an amount of weight that you can hold in your hands for about 10 seconds, and perform 3-4 repetitions.  To avoid injury start to lower the bar before it slips.

Strong-Grip Technique: For all of the above exercises, especially the deadlift, experiment with gripping the bar as hard as you can during the execution.  Squeezing while lifting will more fully activate the muscles involved, as well as improve grip strength and endurance.

Sources: “Prediction of Indoor Climbing in Women Rock Climbers,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning; Relationship Between Anthropometric Characteristics of Indoor Rock Climbers and Top Roped Climbing Performance,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning

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Originally posted 2013-09-14 15:35:40.

Insta-Strength

building strengthIncreasing your strength can be a very long, difficult journey. Many people give up trying to increase their strength, because it can be so challenging. After initial strength gains, plateaus set in and frustration ensues (for further reading, check out Kenny Hager’s great article about busting through stubborn plateaus). Lucky for us, there are certain techniques that can be used to increase strength instantly. While they’re not guaranteed, I’ve personally had success using the following strength-increasing techniques:

  • While holding a bar or dumbbell, crush the bar with an insanely tight grip. Pavel Tsatsouline, a Russian trainer and former Soviet Special Forces trainer, teaches the value of this technique in his book “Power to the People.” Pavel explains that when you powerfully flex your fingers around a bar, the surrounding muscles are recruited more heavily than when using a light grip.
  • Begin squats by “spreading the floor.” This is an old school powerlifting technique that helped improve my squat. Spreading the floor begins after you have taken the bar off of the rack but before you begin the lift. Concentrate on planting your feet into the ground and isometrically — without movement — contract your hips as if you could move your feet out to your sides. Also tighten your glutes before beginning the lift to slightly rotate your knee caps to the outside. These movements — abduction and external rotation — are two functions of your glutes. Recruiting your glutes prior to and throughout the lift will protect your knees and allow you to lift heavier weights.
  • Learn to utilize intra-abdominal pressure. Your core is like a big coffee can — the bottom is your pelvic floor, the walls are your core muscles, and the lid is your diaphragm. When you are breathing properly your diaphragm expands downward, causing you stomach to expand. When you are bracing your core and breathing diaphragmatically, the pressure of your breath pushes outward while your muscles resist the pressure. This action causes tremendous pressure throughout your core and stabilizes your spine. Apply this to every exercise and you may see gains while protecting your spine!
  • Sometimes holding your breath is appropriate while lifting weights. When you fully exhale you lose nearly all of your intra-abdominal pressure. During difficult lifts, hold your breath during the eccentric (lengthening phase) and until you reach the sticking point. The sticking point is the most difficult part of the lift, and it will vary from person to person. Believe me, when you reach it, you will know. Once you reach the sticking point let out very small powerful breaths to propel yourself through this difficult phase. Always reserves some of your breath for stabilization purposes though! DO NOT use this technique if you have high blood pressure!
  • Improvement in life can seem near impossible at times. Whether you are trying to increase your patience, pay off debt, or break a bad habit, moving forward in life can be downright frustrating. This frustration appears in nearly every fitness program as well. Hopefully these tips can help you progress through difficult times in your fitness journey.

Sources: Pavel Tsatsouline, Power to the People; Pavel Tsatsouline: “The Evil Russian Speaks: Part 1,” accessed from http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_interviews/the_evil_russian_speaks_part_1]; Stuart McGill, Ph.D.; Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance

Originally posted 2013-09-09 12:24:01.

Is a Warm-Up Important?

Is a warm-up importantIf you routinely jump into workouts without preparing your body with a warm-up, you may want to reformat your routine. While a warm-up may seem like a waste of time, it will actually help you maximize the benefits of your workout.  

The most common problems with many “warm-ups” is that they’re either poorly designed, unchallenging, or mundane. If the prep-work doesn’t feel demanding or beneficial, it makes sense that it would be the first part of an exercise routine to be scratched. Yet, an inadequate warm-up, or no warm-up at all, will leave the body cold and thus in a more vulnerable and unprepared state.

A successful warm-up, one that actually fulfills its function of preparing and priming the body for  intense activity, is supremely important. If some of the prevailing warm-up mistakes have influenced your workout itinerary, read on. 

Reasons a Proper Warm-Up is Indispensable:

  • Increases Body Temperature — A properly performed warm-up will actually increase the temperature of the blood. The warmed blood is then sent to the muscles, increasing their warmth and dilation. Warm muscles are able to perform with higher levels of intensity and efficiency, making them stronger, more flexible, and less prone to injury. Thus, muscle function, performance and strength are enhanced dramatically by a warm-up.
  • Bolsters Mental Engagement and Focus — A warm-up provide the perfect opportunity to prepare your mind for the upcoming workout session. Once you’ve set aside the distractions of the days, you’ll be able to fully engage the present activity and optimize your workout.  
  • Increases Communication Between Nerves — During a warm-up the nervous system is awakened and attuned, syncing your body systems and encouraging muscle movement and strength.
  • Loosens Muscles and Joints — Getting your muscles moving before you exert maximum effort will increase your range of movement and diminishing your chances of injury.

Components of a Good Warm-up

How do you know if a warm-up is getting the job done? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it challenging? Your warm-up should involve a degree of physiological intensity that is not far removed from your actual routine. You effort level will be  lower than during your actual session but enough to get your body moving and working. A good rule of thumb is to check your sweat. If you are perspiring, your body temperature has increased.
  • Is it general? Before delving into a full-fledged session, your overall body system should be ready, and the specific muscles you will be targeting should be prepared. Even if you only plan to engage a smaller muscle group, a warm-up that engages your entire body will help prevent unnecessary strain and injury.
  • Is it individualized? The intensity of a warm-up should be customized to your overall fitness level. If you’ve had a predominantly sedentary lifestyle and are just beginning a fitness routine, your warm-up won’t be as intense as someone who has been exercising for decades.  Don’t compare yourself to others, just do what you need to do to work-up a sweat! 

Suggested Warm-Up Activities: Stationary bike or cycling, elliptical machine or treadmill, body-weight squats, rowing machine

Reference: NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training

Originally posted 2013-08-12 11:55:13.

Muscle Adaptation and Plateaus: Why Changing Your Workout is Important

overcoming weight lifting strength building plateaus strategiesIf you find yourself stuck in the same routine, losing interest in exercise, and experiencing mediocre training outcomes, consider changing your workout program. Perhaps you religiously perform the same exercise for the same number of sets on the same day, week in and week out.  Maybe you want to increase your muscle endurance, and so you limit yourself to repetitions above twelve. As a creature of habit, you may be enslaved to the sameness, and believe that even minor changes in your regimen will hinder your progress. Whatever the case, it is crucial to understand that more of the same is not always better, and monotony can keep you from making any progress at all. 

The Body’s Response to Exercise

Exercise induces changes in the human body. When you perform resistance exercise, body systems compensate accordingly by changing structurally and functionally.  For example, if you perform incline bench at 135 pounds for 3 sets and 10 repetitions, your pectoral muscles adapt by creating muscle fibers in your upper chest and repairing those already existing.  

New exercises place very specific demands on muscles, forcing them to adapt and compensate.  Changes accelerate when new movements are performed but slow down as muscles adjust. For instance, a routine of three sets of incline bench every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday may bring impressive changes at first, but months without variation will stunt muscle development and growth. Periodic modifications are necessary for muscles to be exposed to new challenges.

Prolonged periods of sameness in one’s exercise program can lead to overtraining, disinterest, and fatigue. As your body changes to adapt to your workout, modify your workout to keep your body challenged.

Ideas for Varying Your Workout

Change should be a constant in your exercise program. Basic movements such as the bench press and squat should always be pillars of your routine, but your body responds most when it is challenged. Here are some ideas for switching things up:

  • Incorporate new exercises into your routine. Keep the basic movements, such as bench press, squats, and pull-ups, as staples. But if you are limiting yourself to one exercise per muscle group, try adding another exercise to your routine. If you exclusively do barbell flat bench for your chest muscle group, try incline bench, decline bench, flat flys, incline flys, or cable crossovers. If you enjoy working your core with set after set of orthodox sit-ups, consider adding planks, crunches, or twists to your regimen. For legs, incorporate back and front squats, leg extensions, forward lunges, and leg curls. Keep the fundamentals, but add one or two other exercises.
  • Add weight to challenge your muscles. This is typically called the principle of overload.* Increasing the weight you lift augments the intensity of your workout, amplifying the stress placed on the muscle. If you have been doing 3 sets of 8 on the flat bench with 135 pounds, try doing the same number of sets and repetitions with 145 pounds.
  • Try supersets. Alternate sets from two exercises from differing muscle groups, and eliminate the rest period between sets. An example would be to do a set of pushups, immediately followed by pull-ups, followed by pushups, and so on.

*Earle, Roger and Baechle, Thomas. NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training. 2004.

Originally posted 2013-08-06 16:47:48.

Advantages of Training to Muscle Failure

DSC_1092Change and challenge should be pillars of your workout routine. One way to challenge your body is to present it with techniques that go beyond your standard level of comfort, forcing you to expend more effort and your muscles to exert more force than they are accustomed to.   Promoting intensity in this way can stimulate change and adaptation in your body, increasing your levels of muscular and cardiovascular endurance and strength.

Training to muscle failure is one technique that, sparingly used, can bring a challenge to your body. If overused, training to failure can lead to overtraining and fatigue, so it should be used cautiously, infrequently, and with the approval of a doctor. With that said, training to failure can be a catalyst for bolstering your fitness program and reaching new levels of athleticism.

What is “Muscle Failure?”
Muscle failure is a point of exhaustion in a body system, so that a muscle can no longer perform an exercise with appropriate form. Perhaps you have performed eight pull-ups, and you feel that a ninth would not be possible. You go for it, and find that you can successfully pull your body up. You then try to muster the strength for another repetition. On this tenth attempt, your muscles succumb to fatigue about halfway up. They are unable to pull anymore. You might be able to get your body up with sloppy technique, but to do this would tempt injury. You have just experienced muscle failure. Its comes after a number of repetitions are performed continuously without predetermined limitations, until the targeted muscle group is taxed and can no longer execute the movement without sacrificing proper form.

Pushing yourself to muscle failure is not easy or pleasant, because it inevitably brings a degree of temporary discomfort and pain. A focused mind and a mentally tough attitude are necessary. However, exposing your muscles to this kind of challenge can be beneficial. Working a muscle group to complete exhaustion stresses that muscle group to its maximum, and thus brings about an optimal level of growth and development. Simply put, subjecting muscles to at least some discomfort is necessary to bring about optimal results.

Suggestions for Using Muscle Failure in Your Routine
There are a number of ways to incorporate muscle failure into your workout. Here are a few examples of what this might look like:

  • Try to go to failure on your last set of a given exercise. For example, it you have performed 3 sets of 25 sit-ups, attempt as many repetitions as you can safely perform on your 4th set.
  • Lessen the amount of weight you use. If you performed 2 sets of 8 Lat pull-downs at 135 pounds, decrease the weight by 20 pounds and go to failure.
  • Choose only one exercise per session to apply this method. If your chest workout consists of flat bench, incline bench, and cable crossovers, use this method on the last set of crossovers.
  • Avoid this method on exercises where you are in a prone position unless you have a spotter. Examples of this would include any type of bench press or squatting exercise.

Related Products: XMark Olympic Weight Bench System, Body Solid Olympic Plates

References: NSCA’s Essentials of Personal TrainingJournal of Exercise Physiology Online 

Originally posted 2013-08-05 12:49:44.

One Rep Max Weight Lifting Calculator

Calculate your one rep max using the calculator below. This can help you estimate how you are progressing in your training and what you should be able to lift.

one rep max weight lifting calculator

 

 

Originally posted 2013-07-12 05:30:58.

How To Target Stomach Fat

Smurf roller...aka Ab Roller. This thing works!You can do hundreds of crunches, sit-ups, and buy all the latest “ab-blaster” type products out there, but they aren’t going to help you target your excess stomach fat.  It isn’t possible to target fat loss with body-part specific exercises, but there are other ways to lose fat, and it is possible to target stomach fat through means other than sit-ups.

The reason it’s possible to target stomach fat (and desirable) is because stomach fat, particularly what’s called visceral fat, is associated with an overall pattern of unhealthy eating and inactivity.  Visceral fat (fat stored in the mid section, around the intestines and organs, causing the appearance of a large belly), is associated with a number of heath problems that fall under the category “metabolic syndrome.”  These health problems include diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.  

Stomach fat (AKA visceral fat) can be eliminated slowly but surely; it’s not a good idea to aim for more than 2 lbs of fat loss per week.  Losing more than 2 lb of body weight every week can actually damage the body.  If you’re losing weight rapidly, you’re most likely losing water weight, muscle mass, and bone mass, not fat.  Also, rapid weight loss is associated with rapid regain, so follow the strategies below to keep your body healthy while targeting unwanted visceral fat.  

1) Eat Whole Foods – Storage of fat around the mid-section is associated with diets high in refined foods like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, white flour, and refined cooking oils.  The reason these foods cause weight gain is that they don’t contain any of the micronutrients and vitamins that help the body regulate metabolism.  Refined foods are also high in calories, but they don’t provide a feeling of being full, so it’s easy to eat an excess amount.  Eat whole foods like grass-fed meat and dairy, organic vegetables, organic fruits, coconut oil, and nuts to get the nutrients your body needs, while preventing excess eating.

2) Avoid Inflammatory Foods – Inflammatory foods, like sugar, sweets, alcohol, sodas, trans fats, refined seed oils (canola, soy, and vegetable oil), and wheat flour (which contains gluten), cause the body to act in defense by storing fat around the mid section.  Storing fat is one of the body’s survival techniques and defense mechanisms.  Inflammatory foods also disrupt one of the body’s important metabolism regulating hormones called adiponectin. Eat foods that promote balanced hormone response (the whole foods mentioned above), and if you drink alcohol, keep it to only a few servings per week.  

3) Reduce Stress – Stress causes increased inflammation in the body and an increase in the hormone cortisol.  Cortisol causes fat storage.  Make a practice of meditating on a weekly bases and releasing your concerns to God.  Find a healthy activity that reduces your stress level, like walking, running, weight lifting, journaling, writing, or painting — whatever works for you.  Also, minimize your caffeine and over-the-counter drug consumption as these drugs can exacerbate the body’s stress response and disrupt hormone balance.

4) Play Outside and Lift Heavy Things – Exercise is key to losing stomach fat, but it’s not sit-ups or crunches that are going to have a major impact.  The two best exercises you can do to burn excess fat are low-level cardio activities and intense exercises that will boost your overall metabolism.  Examples of low-level cardio include, walking, golf, disc golf, and stand-up paddle boarding.  Examples of metabolism boosting exercises include weight lifting, sprinting, and stair stepping.  Combining these two types of activities will optimize your fat burning potential.  To take things to the next level, incorporate as much physical activity as you can into your day to day schedule.  People from the healthiest cultures in the world exert physical energy throughout the day.  They make their food from scratch, walk, instead of drive to the store, and spend a very minimal amount of time watching TV or sitting down.  

5) Lose Fat – The advice to lose fat in order to target stomach fat might sound a little ridiculous, but the more excess fat you lose the more adiponectin your body will produce, and the easier it will be for you to burn more fat.  Fat loss is somewhat exponential in that regard.  Push through that initial challenge, make healthy habits, and overtime you’re belly bulge will flatten out!  The importnat thing is to be consistent and have patiences.  Making a healthy lifestyle change is far more effective at reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome and stomach fat than dieting, “bootcamps,” or diet pills.

 

Originally posted 2013-07-01 02:25:15.