Sunday, November 18, 2012

Skipping Rope for Cardio

One often overlooked way to train cardiovascular endurance is by using a skipping rope. For some reason, people often forget about the benefits of jumping rope while growing up. It's a staple of boxers' training as it's a great exercise to work on coordination, footwork, agility, quickness, and endurance.

Another fun aspect of jumping rope is that there are many techniques to develop so that your workouts always stay challenging and fun. Well, until you snap yourself with the rope, but that's just part of the learning curve. Also, a skipping rope is pretty much the cheapest fitness tool you'll find. They're usually available for 5 to 10 dollars, and can last you a lifetime. To top it off, its minimal size makes it easy to carry around everywhere. In short, there is no reason you shouldn't have a skipping rope at your disposal.

When looking for a rope, you need to make sure it is the right length for you. To find this out, put a foot in the center of the rope and lift the handles so that you fully extend the rope. The handles shouldn't go past your armpits, a little below your armpits is perfect.

Learn to Skip Rope

If you're like me, skipping rope kind of passed you by when you were in school. In our case, we need to learn skipping rope as adults, and that can be a pain in the ass, trust me, I've done it. Nonetheless, just keep trying and you will eventually get it.

If you've never skipped rope in your entire life, it's a good idea at first to try and imitate the motion of skipping rope without a rope. Keep your elbows close to your side and imagine yourself skipping rope using your wrists and forearms. You should jump about 1 to 2 inches off the floor, just enough so that the rope can slip under your feet. Also, only the balls of your feet should be touching the ground.

Make sure that your first workouts are aimed at learning the proper technique. When your technique is better, you'll have more than enough time to work on your conditioning.

As you start feeling more comfortable visualizing yourself and practicing the movements of jumping rope rope, incorporate the rope and practice small time intervals, making sure you can continually jump rope without tripping on it. For example, jump rope for 10 or 20 seconds so that you don't tire yourself. Concentrate fully on technique, making sure you're not jumping too hard. Repeat the intervals 5 to 10 times in a row.

More Advice

I wouldn't recommend skipping rope if you have flat feet as the constant impact of jumping could possibly hurt you. If you have any type of problems with your feet arch, make sure to consult a doctor beforehand. Also, to limit impact, it's a good idea to wear good cushioned shoes, and to practice on a shock absorbent surface such as a gym mat or wood floor. Tennis courts and boxing rings are also great alternatives.

This week, work on technique, and next week, you should be ready to start working out with the skipping rope.

The Double Under

This is probably the most common technique that people learn after learning how to skip rope. To perform a double under, you basically need to make two turns of the turn for every one jump. You still jump with your feet together, both at a time. When first learning how to do double unders, it is better to practice them by themselves, one try at a time. Once you become more efficient at it, jump rope normally and try to do a double under every ten seconds or so. Once you become even more used to this technique, you should be able to do double unders and resume jumping rope normally without tripping or taking breaks in between.

Jumping Rope Workouts

The most obvious way to train with a jump rope is to do timed intervals. As boxers do to simulate the effort and strain of a round in the ring, use a timer and skip rope for periods of time ranging from one to three minutes. If you want, you can incorporate double unders once in a while, but always focus on your technique. Soon enough, you should become good enough so that you're able to skip rope for one complete interval without tripping.

Mix It Up With Interval Training

A simple way to boost up your skipping rope workouts is to incorporate interval training. As opposed to 2 or 3 minutes intervals, practice doing twenty seconds interval followed by a ten second rest. Make sure you go at full speed during these intervals, you'll have to push yourself fully to really feel the benefits of interval training.

A 10-Minute Cardio Workout

Here is a quick 10-minute cardio skipping rope workout to improve cardiovascular endurance and agility. Try to do it by taking as fewer breaks as possible. If you absolutely have to take a rest, make sure you do it in between rounds, and stop the timer so that you go through the ten rounds. You'll notice that there aren't too many different techniques in this workout, it's made this way so that you first concentrate on doing the basic moves correctly. As you start feeling more comfortable, have a look at some of the different techniques showed in the video at the end.

1st minute: Figure eight

Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold the rope handles together with your two hands. Now, stay in place and trace a figure eight pattern, moving from left shoulder to right hip, then right shoulder to left hip.

2nd minute: Jump rope

For one minute, get into a comfortable pace and jump rope the usual way. You should be jumping about one or two inches off the floor with your feet together.

3rd minute: Figure eight

Repeat the first exercise.

4th minute: Double unders

Skip rope the typical way, and incorporate a double-under every 10 seconds.

5th minute: Brisk walk

Just walk in place for 1 minute at a good rhythm, make sure you're taking in big breaths.

6th minute: Run and skip rope

For 1 minute, skip rope while alternating you feet as if you were running.

7th minute: Jump rope

Go back to skipping rope the usual way.

8th minute: Brisk walk

Same as before, walk in place at a good place

9th minute: Double Unders

For this round, try and do as many double unders as you can in one minute.

10th minute: Jump rope

Jump rope the usual way.

One of the best thing about the skipping rope is that it forces you to work primarily on technique and balance as you push up the pace and get more and more tired. If your technique fails for even just a second, you'll snap yourself with the rope, and have to start back again. The same principle applies to boxing as you don't want your technique to suffer in the later rounds as you become more and more tired.

With that said, you don't need to be a boxer to practice jumping rope. It's a great exercise that will improve your cardio while keeping it fun and diverse.

As always, make sure to consult a doctor before attempting any of these exercises.

Jack Rabbit Sports - Accept No Imitations

The old me used to get my running sneakers just about anywhere, you know those stores in the mall, or the giant shopping center in your town. You know the drill: go when there's a sale, pick out a cute color and move on. Boy was I clueless...

That is until my hubby introduced me to Jack Rabbit. It was about 6 years ago, he had just taken up running (you can add that to a list of fitness hobbies, boxing is the latest). I went with him and naturally scored myself a pair (thanks hubby!!). Here's what makes Jack Rabbit everything I didn't know existed:

First you sign up your name (OK this was new, my usually routine involves walking over to the cute ones). Once your name is called (wait-time is never more than 5 mins) the sales person asks you all sorts of questions on your intended use for your new kicks. Let me stop right here and change "sales person" to Running Shoe Experts, really they've all ran a ton of marathons/triathlons and have put more miles on their shoes than you dare to imagine.

OK, so now that you and your expert are acquainted it's time to get on the treadmill, no really they make you run. Nothing crazy, but avoid wearing those new skinny jeans that you can't quite bend in yet.

There's a camera hooked up to the treadmill and after snapping a quick video (don't worry about any jiggles crazy, they just get your feet in the shot) your Running Shoe Expert analyzes your running style and how you plant your feet in motion. Based on this they recommend specific sneakers and it didn't stop there. My guy also pointed out that I was over pronating while I ran, asked if my knee was bothering me--- yes! I'd been starting to wear a brace while running (slow jog would be more accurate). Therefor the shoes he was recommending for me had more stability and support. He also suggested squats to strengthen my knee to fix the over pronating.

The only disappointment I had here was they really don't get the whole pick your shoes based on cuteness. So you might not get your first color choice. (hubby says I was insulting the guy with my color requests "Susan, this guy is helping you pick out a shoe to help you run better, he's not a stylist" Still, my guy went out of his way to get me an assortment of color options... and you know what? I loved those shoes. And now I only go here when I need a pair, and not to mention they have a Great selection of clothes for all types of sports (love my running jacket).

When it's time to get a new pair of running shoes this should be your only destination.

Also check out Jack Rabbit Training. They have all sorts of classes to improve your running, swimming or biking at every fitness level. If I ever get myself to do a full marathon (doubt it) I'll join the beginner's team.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Breathing Exercise Challenge - On Lung At a Time

It seems that the human body is pretty symmetrical isn't it? In fact, we have a lot of redundancy because of this. Have you ever noticed that we have to lungs, but we probably don't ever use the full capacity of both of them? I have, because I was a runner in high school and college. I used the peak capacity early and often, I had to, to win races. However, most people don't, they barely use a third of their capacity. Perhaps this is why everyone is so out of shape. Now then, I'd like to talk to you about a breathing exercise that I used to do, and I'm not sure if it helped or not, but when you are a high-performance athlete it is amazing how much control you have over your own body.

Okay so, what I used to do was practice breathing only on one lung. Of course, you can't shut off your windpipe because there is no valve for that, which would allow you to breathe and let air in and out of only one side. However, if you work very hard at this in trying to do so you will notice that you can develop muscles in your body to help you control where you send most of that air. People who have a collapsed lung, that is to say they only have one lung left to breathe on are able to use the remaining lung to serve all their needs, it will make plenty of oxygen as long as you don't go out and try to run a mile.

It is interesting when practicing this exercise, that after a while you can feel all the air going into one side, and only a little bit of air going into the other. It is possible to actually control it, although most people can't, it's only because they've never done this type of breathing exercise, I would challenge you to try. It won't hurt you, it can only help you. Do I think that my body is capable doing things that others can't? I think in sports I've proved that, but when it comes to an exercise like this you are utilizing new ways of doing things, new methods, and developing new muscles.

Better lungs mean more oxygen in the blood stream, better cardiovascular health, along with more capability in all that you do. Perhaps you should try this exercise, concentrate on only filling up one lung at a time, and then switch sides, and then switch back again. If you do this for five or 10 minute a day, perhaps while you are at work, you will find a new way to control your body that you never knew you had. There are no research reports to be found on this, I've looked. But it is interesting no doubt. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Is Zumba for Beginners? Yes It Is!

Is Zumba for beginners? It sure is. It can be a fun, exciting way to lose weight and get in shape. Like most fitness programs, if you are a newbie, you will need to start at the bottom and work your way up. Fortunately, not all Zumba workouts are the same. The workouts vary in intensity and difficulty which enables people of all fitness levels to participate.

Zumba is a dance workout that usually takes place in a class setting. It combines aerobics and dance moves to burn calories and improve your conditioning. It incorporates music and dance steps from hip-hop, salsa, meringue, martial arts, belly dance, and more. The variety of dance steps, movements, and music appeals to most people because the workouts don't get boring.

Zumba sessions usually take place in a gym and the sessions last about an hour. Classes are taught by a certified instructor. If you are a member of a gym that offers classes, you may be able to take the class for free or for a small fee. If you don't have a membership, you may be able to take a class for a fee without signing up for a membership. Each gym has different policies so you need to contact them for class availability.

Taking a class at the gym is a fun experience. Not only is it fun but it also holds you accountable if you take classes with the same group of people. Taking the class with other people will give you motivation to complete the full hour. If you are a beginner, other gym members and the instructor are great resources if you have difficulty mastering the steps.

If the thought of going to the gym makes you feel queasy or your local gym doesn't offer Zumba for beginners, there are DVDs that allow you to do the Zumba dance workout in the comfort of your own home. The benefit of doing the workouts at home is that you can learn the steps at your own pace without feeling out of place among experienced Zumba trainees. Another benefit of a home DVD workout is that you can work out at any time. The gym might not offer a convenient time for you due to work and family commitments.

Zumba is a fun and effective way to get in shape. If you don't like the gym scene or if your gym doesn't offer Zumba for beginners, you can get a home workout video. No matter which options you choose, the key is to be consistent with your workout and you'll see your fitness improve.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Importance of Cardio Training for Your Health and How Exercise Machines Keep You in Top Shape

Studies carried for decades by organizations focused on cardiovascular health have shown that there is a strong link between a healthy heart and physical activity. However, for people over 30 years of age, especially women, frequenting a gym on a regular basis is not too convenient, as it can eat up a lot of time that must be used for taking care of the kids, work and household chores.

An exercise machine can be a great replacement for going to the gym, and cardio training workouts can be organized at home, instead of a gym. Women that care about cardiovascular fitness can purchase their own cardio equipment and start training at home, in order to stay physically fit.

There are many effective and efficient cardio exercises one can do. In this article, we discuss 3 cardio exercises that will enable you to have effective results.

(1) Cardio workouts with exercise bikes

There are many exercise machines that can help you strengthen your muscles and improve the health of your cardiovascular system. As indicated by studies carried by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Heart Association (AHA), individuals that are physically fit are much less likely to develop coronary heart disease. Furthermore, even if this condition occurs, it does so later in life and it is noticeably less severe.

Exercise bikes allow you all the cardio workouts you need, and the best thing is that you do not have to leave your home in order to carry out your cardio workout exercises.

(2) Cardio exercises at home with rowing machines

Another exercise machine that can help you fight efficiently against cardiovascular condition is a rowing machine.

This indoor exercise machine will provide you with the means to carry on with your cardio training workouts without having to abandon your family and their needs to go to the gym.

It is not only your cardiovascular health that is at stake here. Other conditions, such as hypertension, osteoporosis and colon cancer are effectively prevented by cardio workout exercises.

Even patients that have suffered a heart attack can benefit from cardio workouts, as long as they are monitored by their doctors, and their death rate is lowered with about 25%.

(3) Cardiovascular fitness with jump ropes

If exercise machines are not exactly your thing, you can always consider a jump rope as the only cardio equipment you need.

You can execute various cardio exercises at home, using nothing but a jump rope.

You may have heard that you need at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular fitness each day in order to protect your heart. However, you may feel daunted to jump the rope or execute other types of cardio workouts for half an hour without interruptions.

Specialists in health care advise to exercise for 30 minutes daily, but not necessarily at one time only. Accumulated 30 minutes of cardio exercises at home in short bouts of physical activity offer the same benefits as strenuous exercises.

It is more recommended to try this type of cardiovascular routine, especially if you are not an athlete, you are interested in maintaining your health and you do not focus on obtaining performance.

Always remember that if you have any serious health issues or concerns, ask your doctor for personalized advices on what types of strength training is best for you.

Note: the content of this article is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always as your doctor first for what is best for your particular condition.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Great Benefits of Cardiovascular Fitness Training

One of the most important keys to fitness is a strong heart and vascular system. The best way to achieve health gains in these systems is cardiovascular respiratory exercise also called aerobic exercise, cardiovascular exercise or simply cardiovascular. We will discuss the benefits of cardiovascular and several great ways to perform it.

There are countless health benefits to regular aerobic exercise. First, it strengthens the heart and circulatory system leading to reductions in heart related diseases and stroke and is a recommended for therapy for heart attack sufferers. Cardiovascular lowers resting heart rates; helps the heart pump additional blood more efficiently, delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and organs, increases the capillaries and expands the elasticity of arterial passages. This helps feed our bodies and allows quicker recovery from strenuous activity.

Cardiovascular lowers levels of bad cholesterol or low density lipoprotein and can raise levels of good cholesterol or high density lipoprotein. It reduces the risk of blood clots, helps build bone density reducing the risk of osteoporosis and helps maintain healthy blood pressure. There's also weight reduction, suppression of appetite, calorie burning and a reduction of stress. It helps with joint health and arthritis and reduces the risk of many cancers and diabetes.

Cardiovascular offers benefits to sexual performance too, strengthening the heart which translates to more stamina in the bedroom. It also increases blood circulation which benefits both men and women's sexual organs, improving performance and sensitivity and can even improve erectile dysfunction. It enhances mood, energy and muscle tone enriching the overall look of your body and who doesn't want that?

Cardiovascular exercises include: walking, jogging, rowing, swimming and cycling or to keep things interesting try soccer, basketball or water polo. Always warm up and stretch to ensure protection from injury. It's recommended that you engage in some kind of aerobic exercise that increases pulse and breathing rate for at least 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week up to as much as 60 minutes or more for those in better shape.

Pursuing information on cardiovascular you may hear information on fat burning zones and Volume O2 Maximum. There are many conflicting views on these subjects. The fat burning zone is supposedly where you burn more calories by doing lower intensity aerobics than you would at higher intensities. Here are the facts; the body will burn 50% of its calories from fat at lower intensities while only 35% at higher intensity but you will burn more total calories exercising at higher intensity, to keep it simple, don't worry about it! If you are going for fat loss and calorie burning, raising your metabolism is your best bet. Lifting weights will burn more calories, even when you are not in the act of working out than cardiovascular, however both do entirely different things for the body, working in concert with each other. Both burn fat and calories but cardiovascular also builds a stronger heart and vascular system which feeds oxygen to the muscles making them work more efficiently. Note: cardiovascular will actually eventually slow your metabolic rate, burning fewer calories as your body adapts to it. Therefore it's essential to vary your workouts to maximize your fat burning results.

Volume O2 maximum refers to fitness measurement, calculating the volume of oxygen your body consumes as you exercise at maximum levels. This is important for endurance athletes but not so much for beginners. That being said the higher your Volume O2 Maximum the more efficiently you process oxygen to your muscles and the harder you can go at higher intensities. To increase Volume O2 Maximum workout at levels that raises heart rates to between 65 and 85% of your maximum for at least 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week.

To keep your cardiovascular workouts varied and fun take them outside but be careful about temperatures, here are a few essential tips. Always drink plenty of fluids before, after and if you're running distance, during your workout. In extreme heat the skin undergoes vasodilation to keep you cool; this decreases blood flow, raising your heart rate. This can lead to heat related injuries especially in high humidity so be sure to wear cool clothing. In cold weather warm up inside, wear layers of warm, sweat wicking clothes and cover head, hands, face and feet to keep warm.

Finally, make sure shoes are comfortable to prevent injury to feet, knees and back, the last thing you want is to suffer an injury that could have been easily avoided with the right gear and be sure to consult a fitness pro to ensure you're getting the most out of your exercise. Have fun!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Kettlebell Swing Cardio

Kettlebell swing cardio classes are proving very popular, with instructors and participants alike.

For a personal trainer the class is a dream, some decent music, one kettlebell per person and a 20 minute disciplined training session in which keeping people in the fat burning zone is the key. This is not too much to ask from a personal trainer.

For the participant no change in workstations or equipment, the main thing required is to keep the work rate high and the strength of their grip. The rest will take care of itself as long as instructions are followed by the personal trainer.

To perform the Kettlebell swing an athlete is required to stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Place the Kettlebell on the floor directly below your legs. Take hold of the Kettlebell with both hands and driving down and backwards with the hips swing the weight between your legs about one foot behind your heel, you are then required to drive the kettlebell upwards using the thrust of your hips. It is important that you keep your abdominal wall tight at all times throughout the movement to avoid injury and use only momentum to drive the weight upwards and back downwards between your legs.

To ensure you are performing the Kettlebell swing correctly, ensure you are not using the arm muscles to lift the weight, think of the arms as a pendulum. Also ensure that at the top portion of the movement that the bottom of the kettlebell is facing away from the athlete and not at the floor. If the very bottom of the weight is facing away from the athlete this is because the kettlebell is moving through momentum and be driven correctly through the hip muscles and not lifted by the arms.

For the Kettlebell swing cardio exercise routine, each athlete is required to perform one set of 30 repetitions, ensure you are using a weight that is first of all light enough to complete 20 sets but also heavy enough to be challenging come the mid-point of the routine. Start your set of 30 Kettlebell swings on the minute mark and when complete, rest until the next minute begins.

If done correctly your first few sets should enable you to have about 40 seconds rest and by the middle few sets your resting period should be down to 30 seconds. If you have chosen a weight heavy enough your last few sets, usually sets 16 - 20 will only allow you to have between 10 and 20 second rests.

The increasing activity levels of this routine elevate your heart and breathing rate to a level which will be uncomfortable and yet very achievable. The natural high you will feel after this session is quite amazing due to the release of endorphins (similar to eating over 1kg of chocolate but without that sickening feeling) and the body will reward you with a massive uplift of Human growth Hormone levels in the bloodstream for the following 24 hours allowing improved muscle repair, immune system and even increased drive and motivation.

A kettlebell swing cardio session can be a fantastic session to perform alone or within a group and is one that can be performed at home with just one Kettlebell. Simple, effective and rewarding, give it a try!