Author: Matthew McDonald

How to Avoid Gaining Unwanted Weight this Holiday Season

This holiday season you are going to be faced with plenty of temptations to eat foods that will make your waist expand and, the numbers on your scale increase. For men, this is the time of the year they can add unwanted weight and expand their “beer belly.” For women, December’s indulgences could mean having to buy a new wardrobe come the New Year, at one size bigger to accommodate wider hips and cellulite. Egads, December is a tough month for all! So how do you avoid gaining unwanted weight this holiday season? Start with not having easy access to the foods you know pack on the pounds. If you don’t go and buy lots of pre-packaged cookies and muffins and sugary treats from the store, and you don’t have them in your cupboards at home, readily accessible, then you’re not going to go over the top because the snacks you love aren’t physically available. Nice! Oh, and if you can drink less sugary drinks and more water, that’s ideal. Next, when you do go to a holiday party and eye the cake, the pie, or the plate of cookies, instead of telling yourself “I’m only going to eat celery and carrots,” decide to limit your portion sizes of all the foods you’d like to eat… that way, you’re still getting to eat foods you like– even cookies, for...

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The Benefits of Training with a Kettlebell

Kettlebell training is a whole body workout method that can be used by anyone. Whether you are just getting started at the gym or have a well-developed workout routine, the kettlebell provides a great cardio workout that challenges the body and uses almost all of its muscles at once. Best of all, this workout routine can be a lot of fun! Cardio A popular method of high intensity interval training, kettlebell drills are an enjoyable way to get your cardio workout in. Instead of running on the treadmill for an hour each day, try repetitive drilling with a kettlebell. Another great advantage: This non-impact training method strengthens your joints instead of putting stress on them. Variety Not only does kettlebell training have a wide variety of benefits, but it also has an endless amount of drill combinations. Instead of sticking to the same workout every day, which can get repetitive and dull, mix things up by changing your grip and swing. Head-to-Toe Workout A training method that consists of a variety of whole-body movements and exercises, using a kettlebell allows you to work your entire body, providing you with a great, fluid workout in a shorter amount of time than traditional methods. Instead of using sedentary machines that focus on isolated areas of the body, work with a kettlebell to build mobility, stability and strength throughout. Training with a...

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The Most Important Strength Training Exercises

There are plenty of trendy exercises. Everything from doing calisthenics in a warehouse to aerobic instruction from the latest ‘fitness guru’ float around the internet until some trendsetter floats them into the mainstream. That is until they are forgotten as quickly as they catch on. But regardless of the latest trends, there are exercises with staying power as strong as the athletes implementing them. Squat If you’ve never done a squat, you should start off with no weight. The exercise is so effective, when done correctly, simply executing the form as a bodyweight squat can build muscle. A lower body drill focusing on your legs and core, the squat is a standing exercise in which you physically squat low keeping your knees behind your ties and slowly stand up straight repeatedly. It is even great for strengthening your joint tendons. Deadlift From your upper back to your hands and down to your hamstrings, the deadlift is about as close to a full body exercise as you can get. Effectively lifting heavy weight from the ground without momentum- hence the term ‘dead’- to the hips and repeating, it is a very effective training method. And there are plenty of variations for the more discerning lifter, including the Romanian deadlift and single leg deadlift. Bench Press Bench pressing is an age-old means for building upper body strength and adding mass to...

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Avoid Weight Lifting Injuries

Strength training is your best bet for staying in shape. In conjunction with a balanced diet and cardio regiment, strength training allows you to improve your strength, toning and even heart health. But lifting incorrectly with poor form can do much more harm than good. There are a few principles to keep in mind to avoid devastating injury.   Use Proper Form Using proper form is critical if you want to prevent an injury. Using poor form is the quickest way to end up hurt. A personal trainer can teach you proper technique. Or, if you’ve been hitting the weights for years, ask a friend to use video or photos to catch any flaws in your movement.   Do smart exercises If you’re worried about injuries, the best exercises to use are those that are functional and strengthen your core; pushups, lunges, and balance work are all great. Avoid dangerous exercises, such as Olympic bench presses, squats and deadlifts. These all offer more risk than reward.   Warm up Properly This means raising your body’s core temperature through some light cardio for at least five minutes, and ideally incorporating some very-low resistance dynamic exercises that will prep your body for upcoming stress. And once you’re all warmed up, use the right weight. Lifting weight that’s too heavy discourages proper form. It also makes you that person at the gym grunting...

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Workout Stretching to Eliminate Tightness, Soreness

Stretching prior to a workout is crucial for your post-workout comfort. Not only does stretching prevent muscle soreness and injury, but it also increases your range of motion. Whether you’re a teen athlete or a grown adult just getting back into fitness, stretching can help you sustain and even avoid muscle pulls and strains.     Stretching the muscle group you are about to use allows you to avoid pulls, strains and general pain. For every workout there is the right stretch for it. Utilizing dynamic stretching at the beginning of a workout will help to warm up most major muscle groups.     The movements within the dynamic stretching routine mimic those movements used during the workout but at a less intense level thereby giving time for the muscles to warm up.Cold muscles can be likened to an elastic band that needs to be warmed before it can be stretched. A light movement warm up for 5 to 8 minutes prior to exercising will add fluidity and mobility to the joints. This will bring blood flow to surrounding muscles and break a light sweat before you start a workout.     If you feel the need to skip either your post or pre-workout stretch (something we highly discourage) make it your pre workout stretch. It is absolutely necessary to stretch after you work out to alleviate the presence...

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