Add these five easy tips to your routine and start blasting fat today!
Losing weight doesn’t have to be a difficult journey — from lifting weights to counting your steps, keep these five easy things in mind and start working towards your fitness goals today!
Fiber + Protein = Fat Loss
This twosome helps cut cravings by keeping you satisfied longer by breaking down food at a slower rate in your body. Before the day is through, whip up a protein shake, steam some leafy green veggies or pack dried fruit for your afternoon snack. Whatever it is, just make a point of doing it!
Count Your Steps
Not literally, of course, but by using a pedometer and recording how many steps you take each day. According to The Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research, 10,000 steps a day will get you started on the path to fat loss and cardiovascular health. Some good ways to add to your count? Take the stairs; ditch the email and walk over to the person sitting down the hall instead; or walk with a buddy at lunch.
You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again: plan to eat six small meals throughout your day to control your caloric intake. You’ll give your body more fuel to tackle those 10,000 steps!
Ok, cut out on the late night talk-show circuit tonight and hit the sack! Studies reveal that two hormones are responsible for your need to feed: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells your body it’s hungry, while leptin tells your body it’s full. When you don’t sleep, ghrelin thrives and so will your appetite, so tonight be sure to get your vitamin “zzzz.”
The healthier your muscles are the more they will aid in your showdown against fat. Weight training boosts your metabolism and that, in turn, will melt fat and keep your body incinerating all day.
We independently source all of the products that we feature on oxygenmag.com. If you buy from the links on our site, we may receive an affiliate commission, which in turn supports our work.
Powered by WPeMatico
This training regimen can help you shed 6 to 12 pounds — fast!
One great way to get in peak condition for bathing-suit season is through periodization. Often used by athletes training for a competition, periodization involves manipulating the progression of workouts over specific increments of time. This prevents overtraining and overuse injuries that commonly occur with intense, regular workouts.
This program consists of three two-week cycles. The first two weeks will provide you with a training base. The second phase is designed to accelerate your metabolism by increasing the volume and intensity of the workouts. The third part is a metabolic phase that peaks power output and stimulates your fat-burning hormones to their max. The topper? These exercises may be done at home (or outdoors if the weather allows), and they require only your bodyweight to perform. No equipment necessary!
Toning Time (Week 1 and Week 2)
You’ll establish a strength-and-conditioning base with the main exercises in the first two weeks. Perform a thorough warm-up and then do two sets of the exercises at 15 reps each in Week 1 and three sets of 15 reps in Week 2. Do all the sets for each exercise before going on to the next one, allowing one to two minutes’ rest between each move.
Do the three-day routines twice per week and rest on the seventh day. If you are experiencing undue fatigue, take an extra day off between one training day and the next, between the two weeks in this phase or before the next phase. Always listen to your body.
Toning Nutrition Tips
- Drink ½ gallon of water daily.
- Eat five or six meals a day — and don’t skip any, even if that means using a protein shake or two per day.
- Don’t eat past 9 p.m. or within a couple of hours of going to bed if you’re on a second- or third-shift schedule.
Firming Drills (Week 3 and Week 4)
In these two weeks, you’ll begin to accelerate your metabolism via supersets. In Week 3, perform two exercises, one immediately after the other, for two sets of 15 reps per dual set, resting 30 to 60 seconds between each set. In Week 4, follow the same format but increase reps to 20 and sets to three.
Do the three-day routines twice and rest on the seventh day. Take an extra day off between one training day and the next, between the two weeks in this phase or before the next phase if you are feeling fatigued.
Firming Nutrition Tips
- Drink ¾ gallon of water per day.
- Avoid all canned, deli and prepackaged food.
- Continue eating five or six meals daily (two may be protein shakes).
Fat-Burning Spree (Week 5 and Week 6)
The final workouts focus on fat burning and muscle definition. In Week 5, perform the exercises one after the other once through (one set) for 12 to 15 reps each; rest one minute after completing the reps for each exercise. In the final week, do two sets, also 12 to 15 reps per set, of each exercise without resting.
Do the three-day routines twice and rest on the seventh day. Of course, if you are experiencing excessive fatigue, take an extra day off between the two weeks or between one training day and the next.
Fat-Burning Nutrition Tips:
- Try to drink almost a gallon of water per day.
- Make berries your go-to fruit for their blood-sugar-stabilizing effect.
- Focus on fibrous veggies and lean meats at dinner, for example two vegetables and a lean turkey burger.
Setup: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance.
Action: Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Lower yourself until your thighs are as parallel to the ground as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels. Keep your body tight and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.
Setup: Stand with your feet together and hands on your hips by your sides (not shown).
Action: Take a big step forward with your right foot and bend both legs until your knees form 90-degree angles, with your back leg a couple of inches off the ground. Push through your right front foot to return to the start, being careful not to arch your lower back. Alternate legs for desired number of reps.
Setup: Lie on the ground facedown and position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Rise up onto your toes and hands, keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe. Keep a tight core throughout the entire push-up.
Action: Lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and then push back to the starting position.
Setup: Start in a plank position.
Action: Lower yourself to the ground like in a regular push-up and push back up, and as you raise your body, roll your feet so that your body is resting on the outside of your ankles while you simultaneously raise one hand to the sky, creating a straight line from one hand to the other. Make sure to move your hips and shoulders simultaneously. Alternate sides with each rep.
Setup: Lie faceup on the ground or mat. Keep your lower back in contact with the ground, feet and legs straight and together. Place your hands to your sides or under your lower back for support.
Action: Keeping your legs straight and together, back flat, lift your legs upward until they are straight above your hips. Lower down to the start position slowly and with control (but do not allow your feet to touch the ground between reps) to complete one rep. Keep your bellybutton pulled in and back flat on the ground throughout.
Setup: Lie on the ground/mat on your back. Loosely interlace your fingers behind your head and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground.
Action: Curl up as far as you can without pulling on your neck, then return to the starting position.
Setup: Stand in front of a step.
Action: Step up with your right leg. Bring your left foot up. Step down with the right leg, then left. Repeat with the right leg first for the recommended amount of repetitions, then perform with the left leg first.
Setup: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the ground and arms down to your sides.
Action: Raise your hips by digging your heels into the ground and pushing up until your shoulders, hips and knees form a straight line. Squeeze your glutes as you pause at the top and slowly lower back down; do not rest between reps.
Setup: Get into a push-up position with your hands wider than shoulder width, fingers spread out and elbows pointed back.
Action: Shift your weight and lower yourself toward one side (laterally) as you bring your hips and chest toward the ground, keeping one arm straight as the other goes into a push-up position. Alternate from one side to the other to complete one rep.
Setup: Start in a plank position.
Action: Perform regular push-ups but with your hands close together in a triangle formation, thumbs and forefingers together, which targets triceps.
Setup: Lie flat on your back with your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees, arms by your sides.
Action: Move your knees toward your torso as you raise your hips off the ground. Hold the contraction for a moment and release your legs back to the starting position.
Setup: Stand in a staggered stance with your right foot in front of your left, 2 feet apart.
Action: Keep your torso upright, bend your legs and lower your body into a lunge. Now jump with enough force to propel both feet off the ground. While you’re in the air, scissor-kick your legs so you land with your left leg forward. Repeat, alternating your forward leg for the duration of the set.
Setup: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides.
Action: Squat down until your knees are bent about 90 degrees. Jump upward as high as you can. As you land, be sure to bend your knees and sink back down into the squat position and immediately explode up into your next rep.
Explosive Speed Push-Up
Setup: Start in a plank position.
Action: Perform a standard push-up, but use enough force to push yourself up to jump your hands off the ground; once you get stronger, try to add a quick clap while your hands are in the air. Tip: If these are too difficult, start from your knees.
Setup: Start in a plank position.
Action: Do these “mini-push-ups” by performing regular push-ups, but bend your elbows less than the normal range of motion of a regular push-up (about 10 to 15 degrees only).
Setup: Lie on your back with your arms and legs straight.
Action: Engage your abdominals as you simultaneously raise your upper body while lifting your legs (keeping them straight) to form a V position. Make sure your shoulders and thighs come off the ground.
Setup: Lie on your back with your legs extended, feet about 10 inches off the ground, hands behind your head.
Action: Bend your right knee as you simultaneously straighten your left leg and lift your shoulders off the ground and rotate your torso to bring your left elbow toward your bent right knee. Quickly switch arms and legs by pulling in your left knee toward your right elbow in a “cycling” motion. Continue switching from right to left; each set counts as one rep.
Powered by WPeMatico
Don’t let emotional eating sabotage your fat-loss goals. Here are four easy-to-follow tips to stop your cravings.
From eating small meals throughout the day, to consuming healthy unsaturated fats, these four tips will help you fight food cravings and keep your diet (and weight) on track.
Know Your Triggers
Stressed? Bored? Sad? If you’re eating clean all day but then get hit with unexpected stress or emotion, those cravings could come creeping. If you find this is happening regularly, it’s time to jot that information down in your food journal or planner.
Try this: Knowing your triggers will arm you with the best defense — carry clean snacks or see the next item on our list for another good way to ward off mindless snacking.
Watch Your Saturated Fats
Going out for a round of food high in saturated fats (think pizza and chicken wings) can actually leave you wanting more for up to three days after your food fest, according to a study from UT Southwestern Medical Center. Researchers say the fatty food hits your brain with fatty acids and prevents the hunger-regulating hormones – leptin and insulin – from signaling you to stop chowing down.
Try this: The good news is that the same study points out that healthy unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, don’t have the same waistline-damaging effects, which leaves your options wide open for a whole-wheat crust pizza with fresh vegetables and olive oil or chicken breast strips sauteed in a tablespoon of the good golden stuff.
Work It Out
Sometimes those cravings are just a reaction to anxiety or boredom, which means that getting creative could be your ticket out of cravingsville. The key is to distract yourself with healthy alternatives – not the kind that will leave you with regrets when its time to sling on the two-piece this summer.
Try this: Get in a workout, take a walk or test-drive a new dance-cardio class for the first time. Turn your craving into a reminder that it’s time to switch gears and start something new.
Be Hungry No More
Not eating regularly throughout the day will cause your body to fall into starvation mode and you’ll crave carbs — usually nutrient-void refined carbs, such as white pasta and bread – so nip that craving in the bud before it strikes by not letting yourself go hungry.
Try this: It’s the Oxygen lifestyle mantra: Eat five to six small meals of protein and complex carbs every two to three hours. This will keep you satisfied so when a craving does arise (and that double-layer chocolate cake in the bakery window is calling your name) you’ll know that it’s all in your head because your body is fully fueled.
Powered by WPeMatico
Meditation can be the key to unlocking your fat-loss potential.
It’s often been said that where the mind goes, the body follows. So it’s no surprise that meditation has become an increasingly popular, if not essential, part of countless fitness and training programs.
Does it really help, though? Research seems to indicate that it does. In one landmark Cleveland Clinic study, when test subjects used visualization techniques — imagining themselves performing exercises — they experienced physical strength gains of up to 53 percent. And a review of 47 trials published in JAMA Internal Medicine confirmed that meditation can help alleviate anxiety, depression and physical pain. Meditation has been found to reduce levels of cortisol, allowing you to recover as quickly as possible, and thus to train more often and more effectively. Here’s how to reap the rewards of meditation in your training.
Get in Touch
One popular and widely studied meditation technique is “mindfulness,” in which your mind and body “hang out” together in the present and quiet down negative thoughts. To begin, spend 10 minutes a day sitting in a quiet, comfortable place without distractions, closing your eyes and paying attention to your breath (try counting each inhalation and exhalation, or notice the rise and fall of your chest) and how your body feels (try scanning from the top of your head to the tips of your toes). When your thoughts drift, gently redirect your attention back into the present moment, to your breath and any physical sensations, smells or sounds.
Consistency is key, so try to meditate in the same place and at the same time every day, and focus on quality over quantity. If obstacles pop up, don’t let that derail your practice. Simply get back to it again the next day.
Find That Focal Point
Once you’ve practiced meditating a few times, you’ll likely discover that you can bring greater focus to your exercise routine. If you’re present in the moment, you can concentrate on your workouts and avoid running on automatic pilot, resulting in better, safer training.
If you find your thoughts drifting elsewhere — to unpaid bills, holiday plans or a recent argument — simply guide your mind back into the moment, focusing your energy and effort on your workout. Take your time and pay attention to how your muscles are working and how your body feels. Visualize how much more sculpted your muscles are becoming and how much closer you are to your fat-loss goals.
The same sort of focus can dramatically improve your eating habits. Again, consider how often your mind is somewhere else while you’re scarfing down a meal, not even realizing what you’re eating. With a trained mind, you’ll eat more consciously. As you prepare and eat meals, pay attention to smells, tastes and the sustenance they offer your body. Chances are you’ll make better food choices and feel satisfied and healthier, too.
Knock Down Walls
When your mind is strong, you can break through barriers that block your goals. Mindfulness training teaches you that your excuses are just thoughts in your head that needn’t stop you. Essentially, while an untrained mind’s default is to put up barriers, meditation teaches the brain to recognize these thoughts as background noise and then refocus on what needs to be done.
So the next time your mind says, “I’m starving,” and you reach for the nearest comfort food, take a moment to think before you eat. Similarly, if you’re working out and begin to think, I can’t do it or I’m bored, consider whether these thoughts are simply self-defeating stories. Your meditation practice will likely strengthen your belief in yourself and your ability to continue. And it will help you listen to your body so you can clearly determine whether you need to stop or whether you really can do a few more reps or run a few more minutes.
Reap the Rewards
For your fat-loss plan to succeed, you need a real understanding of your goal. Although you probably have a general view of why you’re dieting and working out — whether it’s to change the way your body looks or feel more energized — the specifics may not be as clear as they could be. Meditation helps you zero in on those details.
Take a few moments to ask yourself what you think the results of exercising your body and mind will be, how much you value those results, how you feel about your exercises (confident, embarrassed, frightened, determined) or how much control you have over your ability to make it happen. Instead of thinking your way to the “right” answer, sit for a few moments and allow your mind to calm down and become uncluttered. You may very well find that’s enough to give you clarity.
The bottom line: When you know what you need to do in the moment, when you have confidence in your abilities and a clear understanding of where you’re going, success is practically guaranteed.
Powered by WPeMatico
Often overlooked, nothing is more stunning and important to your everyday activities than strong, sculpted traps.
If you carry a heavy purse, schlep bags full of groceries or tote a toddler, you depend on your traps every day. But when was the last time you included them in your workout? For too many women, the answer is rarely, if ever. Yet nothing is more stunning than strong, sculpted traps — and nothing is more important to your everyday activities.
Your trapezius is a four-headed muscle that runs from the back of your skull to the middle of your back. The muscle is divided into three regions: the superior or upper region, the intermediate or middle region, and the inferior or lower region. The upper traps extend to the back of the neck, allowing the head to turn and tilt. The middle and lower traps support the shoulders, keeping them elevated and allowing them to retract the shoulder blades. The traps are also essential for survival because they are engaged whenever you breathe, helping to expand the upper region of the chest when you inhale.
As critical as your traps are to both your form and your function, adding this trio of moves to your workout routine can strengthen and define them. Perform three to five sets with 12 repetitions per set. Start with a weight that causes muscle fatigue for the final two reps. When all three sets become easy to do, increase the resistance.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart as you hold a barbell with an overhand grip. Your hands also should be shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Raise your shoulders up as far as possible as you exhale. Hold the contraction for a count of one, then lower your shoulders. Repeat.
Bent-Over Dumbell Row
Hold a dumbbell securely in each hand, palms facing your torso. Bend forward at your waist so that your chest is leaning forward over your feet. Flatten your back so that a straight line is formed from your waist to your head. Keep a slight bend in your knees while keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Start with your arms fully extended and the dumbbells held slightly ahead of you. Pull or “row” the dumbbells back toward your sides. Return to the starting position and repeat. Be sure to keep your head up, back straight and your shoulders back throughout this exercise to engage your traps and ensure stability throughout the entire move.
Cable Upright Row
This exercise requires a cable station. Attach the rope to the pulley and position it to the lowest point. Set to desired weight. Grasp each end of the rope with an overhand grip. Stand up straight, directly in front of the pulley. Pull the rope ends to the front of your shoulders with your elbows leading. Allow your wrists to flex as you lift. Lower and repeat.
Isometrics are static exercises that don’t rely on weights. Instead, they involve holding certain movements to create resistance by causing the muscles to act against each other. And they are an excellent way to improve your traps on the fly — whether you’re sitting at your desk, waiting in the checkout line or even sitting in rush-hour traffic. The basic idea is to contract your traps and hold the position for 30 seconds. Here’s one move you can do anytime, anywhere: With good posture, squeeze your shoulder blades together while keeping your chest lifted. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then release and repeat. As an alternative, you also can hold a shrug without weight. Yoga poses, such as Downward Dog, also improve your trapezius isometrically.
Powered by WPeMatico
Can’t seem to get yourself to the gym? These five tips can help you keep your weight-loss goals on track.
Can’t seem to get yourself to the gym? Tap into the motivational power of social support. In a study from Stanford University, over 200 people were given health-education lessons during which they set a weekly walking goal. From there, they were split into three groups: One that received encouraging phone calls from a live person, another that received the same number of phone calls from an automated computer system and the last that received no follow-up.
The phone calls paid off: A year later, the group that received live calls increased their weekly walking time on average by 78 percent, or an additional hour and 18 minutes! Whether you like to work out alone, with a buddy or in a large group, keep yourself in check with the following tips:
Powered by WPeMatico
Body fat: Everyone has it, and everyone wants less of it. But how can you make that happen and still be healthy and perform well? The answer may surprise you.
If you’re like many active women, your range of body-fat levels likely hovers between 14 and 24 percent. So what is the difference between Jane and Joanne Doe, wherein Jane has 15 percent body fat and Joanne has 22?
The assumption naturally is dietary differences: Maybe Jane eats super clean 24/7, while Joanne enjoys a glass of wine and dessert several times per week. But really, nutrition is only part of the equation; anyone can diet down to a low body fat with a little determination (and a lot of willpower). But maintaining a lean physique over the long term can be achieved with something you’re probably already doing: strength training.
It’s Your Choice!
You know having more muscle mass boosts metabolism, since you need to burn calories in order to maintain and support those cells. But instead of thinking inside the usual gym box, look at strength training from a different angle, one in which body composition is determined by the kind of strength work you do. Because in fact, tailoring your program to focus on performance, power and synergistic compound strength could be the key to shedding those last few percentage points.
Bodypart training is effective if you’re trying to bring up stubborn parts or balance certain muscle groups, but it’s not very metabolically taxing to work one muscle group at a time. These four training edicts could be the key to unlocking your own potential to sculpt a strong, capable body.
1. Believe In Bodyweight
Capably being able to move your own bodyweight not only makes you a better athlete but also makes you leaner. Bodyweight moves incorporate multiple muscle groups while also training your balance, agility and reaction time. The more muscles you work, the more calories you burn. The faster you get, the more calories you burn. The more agile and quick you are, the more calories you burn. (See the pattern here?) Bodyweight exercises are also unique in that they can be done for very low or very high numbers of reps and can create a strength, hypertrophy or metabolic fat-loss effect, depending on the rep range.
Take action: Put bodyweight moves at the beginning of a strength workout to warm up muscles and train movement patterns. Add them at the end of a strength workout as a burnout, doing high reps for volume to encourage hypertrophy.
2. Power Up
Compound and powerlifting moves are some of the most effective around when it comes to building strength. Why is strength important for fat loss? According to research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, the stronger you are, the greater your exercise intensity and the higher your energy consumption both in the gym and out. And the more mass you have, the more calories you burn and the more fat you’ll lose as a result; powerlifting and compound moves by their very nature build muscle.
Take action: If you’re not familiar with big lifting movements, get a certified professional to show you the ropes. There are definite and specific techniques that should be applied to keep your body safe and make the gains and progress that you’re angling for. Once you’re familiar with the lifts, blend them into your program so they land in the first couple of slots in your workout when you’re freshest and have the most energy. Build in weight slowly over the course of several months to keep your joints and connective tissues safe.
3. Jump To It
Incorporating explosive athletic movements such as jumps, throws and Olympic lifts (snatch, clean-and-jerk) into your program targets fast-twitch muscle fibers. These are the largest and strongest muscle fibers in the body, metabolizing the most energy and improving insulin sensitivity and your ability to burn stored body fat, according to research in the ACSM Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews.
“Explosive training also causes a release of adrenaline, which hormonally triggers thermogenesis,” says Jennifer Petrosino, CSCS, and a professional powerlifter. “The result is a triple whammy of increased muscle and strength, with a decrease in body fat.”
Take action: Dedicate one to two workouts per week to explosive training such as plyometrics or Olympic lifting. Because it is so taxing, leave at least two days in between these kinds of workouts to allow for full recovery. Again, if you’re unfamiliar with this kind of lifting, have a professional show you proper technique to stay safe.
4. Seek Out Speed
Have you ever seen a chunky sprinter? Didn’t think so. Recent research demonstrated that sprint training performed three times weekly can reduce body fat by as much as 8 percent, as well as decreasing waist circumference and increasing muscle mass, according to a report in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. Athletes who train for speed work at such a high intensity are constantly in a state of EPOC — excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Their bodies are constantly mobilizing body fat and carbs for fuel, boosting thermogenesis for many hours post-training.
Take action: You don’t need to be Lolo Jones in order to benefit from a sprinting protocol. Find a local track and try this progressive workout, designed by Martin Rooney, DPT, CSCS, which increases in distance over the course of eight weeks. After a thorough warm-up that includes jogging, running and five to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching and mobility work, do this workout up to twice a week, leaving at least two days of rest between workouts. For each sprint, push yourself hard, then take enough time so you fully recover. Then it’s time for the next sprint.
Powered by WPeMatico
Powered by WPeMatico
Scared you might fail? Read on for simple ways to keep a positive mindset during your weight-loss journey.
When you first made the decision to get leaner and healthier, you were probably excited, possibly even a little giddy. The idea that you don’t have to be satisfied with the proverbial hand you were dealt is certainly empowering, and that rush of motivation may have caused you to jump headfirst into an intense diet and exercise plan.
But as the weeks went on and your results started to lag, your enthusiasm for your plan and your confidence in your willpower likely dwindled, as well. Kick your doubts to the curb with these gentle reminders that your fat-loss journey is in the hands of one person: you!
- Remind yourself it’s not impossible. Losing weight may seem similar to climbing a mountain in the beginning, but keep in mind that many people have overcome obstacles similar to or larger than yours – and are happier for it. Check out our Success Stories and prepare to be inspired!
- Don’t walk into temptation. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but that’s because it rings true: “When you go to the supermarket, stay in the periphery and don’t go down the aisles,” advises Barry Sears, PhD, a prominent weight-loss author and expert in the science of anti-inflammatory nutrition. There’s one caveat, however: food manufacturers know that people head to the produce section and meat counter to find healthy food, so they often strategically place packaged foods they want you to believe are good for you near these areas. Don’t fall for their hype.
- Every little bit does help! “People hate too much change; it’s stressful,” says Sears. The number-one thing he recommends for those looking to lose weight is taking a high-quality fish oil supplement. Not only have omega-3 fatty acids been linked to increased weight loss, evidence suggests it may play a roll in reducing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and asthma.
- Go back to basics. You’ve probably seen the newly revamped United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, the replacement for the beloved (but carb-heavy) USDA’s food pyramid. While it’s a good reference, Sears points out, “The USDA has one political purpose: to support American agriculture.” He goes on to note that the best way to ensure you are getting a balanced diet is to not put anything on your plate that “did not exist 10,000 years ago.” That basically means lean meats, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and scant grains (which, coincidentally enough, we did not start farming until – you guessed it – 10,000 years ago).
Powered by WPeMatico
Powered by WPeMatico