Clamshell for Glute and Hip Strengthening

The clamshell with a mini band is a great exercise to strengthen your hips, glutes and thighs while stabilizing your pelvis. Your glutes are made of three muscles, the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and glutues minimus. While the glute maximus is the largest muscle in the body where most of the work is targeted, it’s just as important to strengthen the smaller muscles of the glutes. Without the right balance, other muscles will have to eventually overcompensate leading to pain and injury in your knees and lower back.

A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy found that the clamshell exercise is one of the best for hip strengthening, to help with injury treatment and prevention. The clamshell exercise focuses on strengthening the gluteus medius which is responsible for stabilizing your pelvis.  It will also help to build strength in the inner and outer thighs, core and lower back to create a better balance in your hip and leg muscles.

Squats and lunges are necessary for basic lower body strength but the smaller muscles must not be neglected if you want to avoid knee or back pain in any of your activities.

Make sure you can perform this exercise without the band first.

Start by lying on your side with knees stacked and bent at a 45 degree angle.

Rest your head on your lower arm. Bring the top arm in front to steady yourself.

Keep your hips stacked and make sure you’re not rolling backwards.

Engage your abs to stabilize your spine and pelvis. Keep your feet together as you raise the top knee as much as possible without moving the bottom leg. Squeeze your glute at the top and lower back to start. Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps.

The band will add more resistance and muscle activation so make sure you work up to this progression.

Did you know that weak hips can create issues in your ankles, foot, knees and back? Don’t become a statistic and start incorporating this exercise into your regular fitness routine.  Not only will you decrease your chances of injury, you’ll increase the mobility in your hips.  A healthy body is always a happier one.

It’s never too late to make healthy changes

No matter what age you are, it’s never too late to make healthy changes in your life.  Making excuses won’t get you anywhere. You’ll always be busy so when is the right time?  The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to undo bad habits.  If you are serious about living a healthy lifestyle, start with baby steps.

1.Make the time

A few minutes a day of movement is better than none.  Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be an hour. Start with 5 minutes and work your way up.  Do some light exercise before work. Move around if you’re sitting all day long. Take hourly breaks from your desk to release your spine. Take the stairs or go for water breaks. Get off at 2 stops before your regular station so you can walk more. Hit the gym or take a fitness class after work to stay motivated. Make a date with a workout buddy or hire a trainer if you need extra motivation. There are only options, not excuses.

2. Keep your brain healthy

According to Henry Ford, “anyone who keeps learning stays young. Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty.”  A study at the University of Texas found that older adults who engaged in challenging mental activities actually improve their cognitive functioning.  Learning stimulates the brain and can improve memory. Go out there and learn how to play an instrument, sing, paint, or whatever your heart desires! The great thing is that you have plenty of things to choose from so have some fun with it and make a list of things to try.

3. Make a commitment to yourself

This is non-negotiable. You are in charge of taking care of your mind and your body. You know what you need to keep yourself sane and balanced.  This does not mean you need to be perfect, but you do need to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  Drink water, get sleep, exercise, stretch, meditate, relax, recover and eat well.  That’s pretty much what you need in a nutshell.  Everything else will fall into place.  Don’t work yourself to death because you will deteriorate over time in the form of illness or disease.  It’s not worth it.

There is always time to be healthy.  Make the changes necessary to improve your lifestyle today.  It won’t happen overnight but with consistency, you will get there.  I saw this video of 79 year old Deshun Wang today which was so inspirational that I had to watch it a few more times.  Some of the people who inspire me the most are the older folks because they understand how important it is to make the most out of their lives.  They have a positive attitude when it comes to their health and wellness and this is something we can all learn from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Habits of Healthy people

There are many habits which distinguish healthy people from unhealthy. Here are the habits of some of the healthiest, fittest and most successful people who always make time for improving their lifestyle.

1. Positive attitude

Instead of wasting time and energy complaining about everything, healthy people tend to adopt an optimistic attitude more than unhealthy people. They look on the bright side of things and make the changes necessary to improve their circumstances in the long run.

Positive attitude

2. Health is a priority

Without health, you have nothing.  This is probably the most important habit. They make the time to take care of their mental and physical well being because they don’t take their health for granted.  They know this has a direct impact on their emotional well being.  Taking care of the mind, body and soul will help them become more balanced and better equipped to handle the daily stresses of life.

3.  Physical activity is a necessity

Physical activity goes hand in hand with making health a priority. In a study in the American Journal of Physiology, it found that 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day was just as effective as 60 minutes when it comes to weight loss.  With the sedentary lifestyle today, any movement is good movement. Humans are not made to sit for extended periods of time. Sitting has contributed to chronic aches, pains and injuries due to poor posture and frequent visits to the doctor.  If going to the gym or taking fitness classes is not your cup of tea, you can participate in a variety of recreational activities.  Also take the stairs, get up often from your desk or go for walks when possible.  This is just as important because it keeps you moving throughout the day.

4. No dieting

Healthy folks know that diets are quick-fixes and will never last. They prepare healthier meals ahead of time and indulge in unhealthy foods in moderation.  They are not restrictive because they’re aware that this will backfire on them instead.  Eating well is a lifelong endeavor where balance is the key to success.

5. Get adequate sleep

Those who suffer from the lack of sleep and sleep disorders are less productive, get sick more often, and increase their likelihood of accidents when compared to healthy people, according to the book Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation.  Sleep is vital to daily function. Regeneration and recovery occurs during this time so it’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a day.

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6. Stretch 

As we get older, our flexibility decreases which can cause more aches and pains than we’d like.  Our posture suffers from sitting too much and the wear and tear takes a toll on our bodies. Stretching maintains joint health, flexibility in the muscles and flushes out byproducts and toxins.  Keeping ourselves limber will help us feel, move and function better in life.

Stretch

7.  Meditate

Meditation not only lowers your blood pressure, it also changes your brain patterns through consistent practice.  See my previous blog for more details on “The Benefits of Meditation.”  A Harvard research study also finds that mindfulness and meditation can stress, anxiety and physical pain.

Meditation

8. Laugh

Laughter is great for the soul and one of the best medicine out there. Not only does laughing reduce stress hormone levels, it lowers blood pressure, increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.  Endorphins are released which promote an overall sense of well-being and can temporarily relieve pain.  What are you waiting for?  Laugh, smile and live longer!

laughter

9. Try something new

People who are open to consistently learning and willing to try different methods of training or nutrition plans will become more successful in achieving their health and fitness goals. Everyone is unique when it comes to his or her needs. There will be plateaus along the way as our bodies and metabolism change. Adjustments will be necessary as learning occurs through trial and error.

10. Unplug

From social media to emails, our smartphones are constantly running our lives.  It can become an unhealthy addiction with possible withdrawal symptoms.  According to most research, simply unplugging or going offline can reverse the negative consequences such as lack or productivity, a disconnect from social relationships and overall stress.  The brain is like a muscle and needs adequate recovery time in order to develop and grow.

Unplug

No matter where you are at this stage of life, always make the time to take care of mental and physical health.  It’s never too late to improve your lifestyle!

Cindy Lai Fitness

NASM-CPT

Holistic Health Coach

 

Why strength training is important for running

Become a better, faster, and a stronger runner by incorporating strength training into your program.  Exercises specific for this activity will increase the ability of your tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones to withstand the impact of running. You will improve performance, decrease chances of injury and recover faster.  I will focus on bodyweight exercises which can be done easily in the comfort of your own home or outdoors.

Bodyweight routines can help build the strength necessary to prevent future overuse injuries.  Running injuries are commonly caused by weak hips which is problematic for runners who sit most of the day. Hip and glute strength is crucial in stabilizing the muscles used for running.  Core strength is essential in maintaining your posture as you fatigue. When the muscles around your knees are strong, you are less likely to become imbalanced. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in August 1995  showed that runners who added three days of resistance training exercises to their weekly program increased their leg strength and enhanced their endurance.

CORE AND ARM SERIES  Build a strong and balanced foundation with your deeper abdominal muscles.  Upper body strength also plays an important role in preventing chronic neck, back and shoulder pain.

Basic Plank – Start with elbows underneath shoulders and either knees or feet on the floor.  Hold for 15-20 seconds for 2-3 sets and slowly work your way up each week.

Side Plank – with elbow underneath shoulder and opposite hand on hip, find the modification which suits you best. Hold for 15-20 seconds for 2-3 sets.

Superman – lying face down, keep arms shoulder width apart and legs hip width apart.  Squeeze your lower abdomen into the floor as you lift arms and legs simultaneously off the floor. Hold for a second, then release.  Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions

Prone “Y” raises – lying face down, keep forehead on the floor as point your thumbs up. Squeeze shoulder blades as you lift hands about two inches off the floor. Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Prone lat pull back – lying face down, lift the arms off the floor as you engage lower abdominals. Bend elbows back towards ribcage and squeeze shoulder blades. Keep head neutral and chest lifted. Return to start. Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Pushup – Place hands underneath shoulders with either knees or feet on the floor. Keep your back straight as you descend. Go as low as possible before you push yourself back up. Narrow your hands to increase difficulty.  Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Baby Cobra – open up your chest and strengthen your upper middle back.  Lying face down, keep your hands by your chest. Draw shoulders up, back and down as you squeeze shoulders blades back gently. Hold for a second and release.  Repeat 3 more times.

LEG SERIES is meant to build strength in the lower region, especially glutes and hips which are often weak and can lead to all types of knee and hip instability and injuries.

Basic Squat – start with feet about hip width apart and toes pointed out slightly. Keep your back upright as descend keeping weight in the heels and pushing your knees out. Drive yourself back up by squeezing your glutes. Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Reverse Lunges – start with hands on hips and feet hip width apart. Draw a straight line back with one foot and stay on the ball of that foot.  Keep your hips square as you bend the back leg about ninety degrees.  Return to start and switch legs.  Do 2- 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions

Single Leg Squats – strengthens the glute medius, the primary stabilizer of the hip.  When this muscle is weak, it can contribute to low back, knee and hip pain.  Find a bench and walk your feet a few inches in front of the bench. Lift one leg off the floor as you slowly descend on the opposite leg.  Stand up on both legs and switch.  Once you become stronger, try to lower and lift off the same leg. Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps alternating legs.

Ease into these exercises and slowly work your way up.  Two to three times a week is sufficient for fitness gains.  Cross train with the exercises to counteract the wear and tear on your joints. Some statistics puts the annual injury rate of runners as high as 85 percent. Do you really want to be sidelined? Prevent your chances of imbalances and injuries and become a faster, stronger and more powerful runner by starting today.

Cindy Lai Fitness

NASM-CPT / Holistic Health Coach

www.cindylaifitness.com

7 tips to lean out without dieting

There are many ways in which you can lose weight or lean out without going on a diet.  I’m personally not a fan of diets as they end up in failure more often than not.  Anytime you’re being restrictive, especially when it comes to food, you’ll end up wanting more of what you can’t have. This usually ends up in bingeing and sabotaging the efforts you’ve initially put in. The physical and psychological effects of dieting are damaging in the long run. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed., author of The Rules of “Normal” Eating, explains, “Every diet takes the body further away from knowing what and how much food it needs for satisfaction and fullness. The push for dieting is nothing but reinforcement for everything that is wrong with restriction and arbitrary rules about eating.”  Instead of restricting your food intake, here are some tips on how you can make healthier choices and lean out without dieting.

1. Fill up on fiber

Fiber can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables so make your plate as colorful as possible.  Greens such as kale, spinach, broccoli and asparagus should be incorporated for nutritional value. Fruits such as berries and watermelon have higher water content and will keep you satisfied longer. Complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, quinoa and lentils are also filled with fiber which helps you feel more satiated during your meals.

Fiber

2.  Skip the carbs at night

Nighttime is when you’re less active so be wary of what you put into your mouth.  Stick with lean protein and a bigger portion of veggies for dinner.  Skip the bread and pasta unless you just had a major training session in the evening.  Consume most of your carbs for breakfast and for lunch.  You’ll having a better chance of burning that energy during the day since you’re moving around more.

3. Never skip breakfast

It sounds like a no-brainer but according to a poll from Instantly where 10,000 Americans were surveyed, more than half skip breakfast at least once a week because they weren’t “hungry in the morning” or “didn’t have time to eat.”  When you’re sleeping you’re already fasting for 7-8 hours.  After you awake, you should put something in your system within an hour to rev up your metabolism.  By skipping breakfast, your put your body into a catabolic state to store fat rather than burn fat.  Start with something light if you’re not used to eating in the morning. Greek yogurt and berries or almond milk with whole grain cereal are healthy choices. As your body adjusts to normal eating patterns and you crave more, you can add eggs or omelette to have a complete meal.

Healthy breakfast

4. Drink Water

This is an absolute necessity not only for a healthier lifestyle but for efficient weight loss and fitness gains.  Water also supresses appetite.  Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty.  Besides flushing out toxins, it also improves energy levels and keeps you  well hydrated for fitness activities. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water a day.  Always start your day off with a glass of water in the morning to get your metabolism going.

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5. Fill up on soup

Due to it’s high water content, you will remain more satiated for your meal.  Stay away from rich, heavy and cream based soups and opt for broth based and low sodium instead.  Throw in tons of veggies and add beans and lean protein for a balanced meal.

Healthy soup

6.  Savor your meal

It takes twenty minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full.  Take the time to chew your meal to prevent from overeating.  Drink some good ‘ol H20 along the way and enjoy every bite. Try to aim for being eighty percent full instead of one hundred percent.

7. Lift weights regularly 

Building lean muscle overall will increase your metabolism since you burn calories at rest.  When you perform high reps or intense weight training, it boosts your metabolism which keeps it elevated post workout. This is called EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. Numerous studies have shown conclusively that strength training, in combination with good nutrition burns fat much more effectively than dieting alone and dieting with aerobic exercise. The more lean muscle you have, the more fuel you burn. By incorporating a strong weight training program into your regimen, you can experience EPOC as long as 38 hours after your workout which is great for fat loss and toning!

strength training

 

There are many ways in which you can lose weight or lean out those few extra pounds.  Dieting alone will not help you get there. Making healthier choices in nutrition along with the combination of the right exercise program will determine your results.  It all boils down to finding a healthy balance for yourself.  What you eat accounts for roughly eighty percent of your appearance.  Just because you exercise does not mean you’ll be able to achieve the desired fitness gains.  Everyone has a different metabolism and some people can get away with more than others.  Experiment through trial and error to see what combination works best for you.  Whatever you do, don’t restrict or beat yourself up for not being perfect.  Food can and should be enjoyed.  Indulge in moderation.  Exercise regularly.  Make healthy choices and work on balance.  Everything will fall into place if you aim to live a healthy lifestyle for the long run.

 

Cindy Lai Fitness

NASM – CPT

Holistic Health Coach

 

5 Weight loss myths debunked

There is no such thing as a quick and easy weight loss solution. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that short term fixes will guarantee long term results.  Beware of all the products and services out there offering these claims.  Today I’m going to address five weight loss myths and how you can tackle them.

1.If you diet and exercise consistently, you’ll never gain weight

This may have been true when you first started making lifestyle changes, but it won’t stay that way forever.  Your metabolism slows down gradually every year.  The biggest change will happen around the age of 40.  It varies by individual.  Some people can get away with it more so than others.  You need to change with the times and adjust accordingly to avoid plateau.  You won’t be exercising the same way you were doing 5, 10 or 20 years ago, right?  Keep your food and exercise plans flexible.

2. Snacking is bad for your health

Snacking in between your meals will prevent you from bingeing or overeating later.  It’s important to eat smaller meals throughout the day to keep increasing your metabolism. Snacking has gotten a bad rap from the junk foods sold at vending machines at work. This does not have to be the case if you prepare ahead and bring your own healthy snacks.  Examples can be a handful of raw or roasted mixed nuts with fruit, whole grain crackers with hummus or almond butter, veggies with greek yogurt, greek yogurt with berries, and lowfat cheese with fruit.  There are plenty of healthier options aside from processed cookies, chips and sweets.

3. All carbs are bad

All carbs are not created equal.  You’d want to avoid the processed carbs as much as possible.  These are high in white sugar and white flour.   Substitute instead with whole grains, brown rice, beans, quinoa, sweet potatoes, fruits and veggies which are high in nutrients and fiber.  Eat most of your carbs throughout the day when you are more active.  Eating good or complex carbs with protein will help keep you fuller longer. Also, your body uses carbs as fuel during exercise so it’s important you do not eliminate them from your diet.

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4.  Fat is bad

Just because you’re trying to lose fat does not mean you should avoid it completely.  Good fats are an important part of a healthy diet.  They keep our skin soft, provide essential fatty acids and also give us the fuel we need for energy.  These can be found in olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, fish and avocados.  Cut down on the fats found in fatty steaks, processed foods, cakes, cookies, ice cream, fries which can lead to clogged arteries, diabetes and heart disease.  In my personal experience over the last five years, I noticed that when I increased my intake of good fats into my diet, I had more energy and became even more toned.

GoodFats

5. Situps  or Crunches will make you lose belly fat

This is probably one of the biggest myths that people still believe today. You can do a million crunches or situps and you will not get the abs you want.  Abs are made in the kitchen and requires a combination of healthy eating and the right exercise program to give you those toned abs. Building lean muscle overall is key.  Spot training definitely won’t give you that six pack.  Methods involving strength training, HIIT Training and kettlebell training where you learn to use several muscle groups at once to build strength and endurance will yield much better results.  Check out my previous blogs on short workouts and core training for ideas.  I also post quick workouts on Instagram and Facebook to help you burn fat and get fit.  I will focus on healthy meals in my next blog so make sure you’re signed up to get the scoop.

Weight loss is a process.  If you want long term results, you need to make healthier choices and adopt positive habits.  It take a lot of experimenting to see what works well for you.  Don’t worry about the latest trend or what some celebrity is doing. Do what works for you and don’t be so hard on yourself. Embrace the process.  You will get there!

Have a great week,

Cindy Lai Fitness

 

 

Guide to Summer Fitness

Now that summer is in full swing, it’s easier to get distracted with all the social events going on this season.  Don’t despair, here are some fitness tips to help you stay healthy this season and your guide to summer fitness.

1.Get outside

If you’ve been training indoors all year, it’s time to take it outdoors.  Mixing things up keeps your body from plateauing and there are so many activities you can participate in.  Running, swimming, biking, skateboarding, hiking, team sports are just a few.  Choose something you will enjoy and have fun with it.  Getting some Vitamin D is good for your soul.

2. Wear sun protection

This may seem like a no brainer but is often still neglected.  Wear an SPF with a minimum of 30 with but UVA and UVB protection and reapply every 2 hours. I use Shiseido ultimate Sun Protection Lotion of SPF 50+ and Sun Bum Lip Balm of SPF 30 but choose something which works well for your skin. Sunglasses are a must for me when I exercise. You may need to wear a hat to protect your head.  Wrinkles are never pretty but getting burned is bad news for your skin.

3.  Hydration is key

I may sound like a broken record but it is important not to hydrate only the day of the activity but every day.  Stay away from sugary beverages and drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day.  Plain coconut water is great for electrolytes and potassium.  You can stay hydrated from foods with high water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.

4. Get your workout out of the way

My morning clients are my most consistent clients because they get their exercise done before work.  You never know what may happen later in the day due to work issues or social events.  It’s a great way to start your day off fresh, energized and ready to go.  If morning just doesn’t work for your schedule, you need to make an effort after work.  Whether it’s attending a class, going to the gym or taking a walk around the park, these are all manageable if you make it a habit.

5. Have fun

Last but not least, enjoy yourself!  Tis the season to lighten up not only physically and mentally.  Do things that you enjoy.  Walk everywhere and explore the sights.  Go out and play while staying active.  Get creative! I’m sure you can find plenty of fun things to do in your free time.  Life is about balance so it’s important to always make time for fun.

Have an amazing summer filled with lots of good vibes and fun times.

Cindy Lai Fitness

 

How to exercise in the humidity

If you like to exercise outdoors in the heat and humidity, you should take the necessary measures in order to do so safely. This way you can avoid getting dizzy or nauseous as you allow your body to acclimate to the weather. Exercising in hot weather will increase your body temperature.  Sweating is your body’s way of cooling down.  This natural cooling system may fail if you are exposed to the rising temperatures for too long.  Furthermore, the humidity doesn’t allow your sweat to evaporate quickly. This can send your body temperature even higher which can even result in a heat exhaustion or a heat stroke.

First order of business –  hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day if not more.  Stay away from sugary sports drinks and opt for coconut water filled with electrolytes and potassium instead.  Eating fruits and veggies with higher water content, such as pineapple, watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumbers not only help you replenish fluids, they offer health benefits as well.

Avoid the hottest part of the day if possible.  It’s ideal to exercise early in the morning or in the evening after work.

Wear light colored and comfortable clothing so you have good air circulation. Avoid dark colors and heavy clothing which absorb heat.

Allow your body 10 to 14 days to acclimate to the heat and humidity. No matter what fitness level you are, you will feel sluggish and lethargic in the beginning.  I’ve seen this time and time again with my students and clients.  I’ve experienced this myself as well.  It takes time to adjust so scale back your efforts temporarily.  Be mindful of what your body is telling you.

Listen to your body.  If you want to continue exercising in these weather conditions, it is important respect it and give it the attention it needs.  This way you won’t have to worry about fainting, muscle cramps, dizziness on top of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Be smart and be safe. Enjoy your outdoor workouts and come play with us in Central Park on Tuesdays and Thursday evening at 7p if you’re in the area.

Have a great week!

Cindy Lai

NASM- CPT

Health & Fitness Coach

 

 

Core Exercises to Strengthen Your Abs

Core exercises are important for daily life function as well as for fitness performance.  Strengthening the core involves the front and back muscles of the trunk as well as the muscles around the pelvis.  This helps stabilize the spine and is also where your power is generated from in order to carry out any movement.  The stronger you are in your core, the better your chances are in moving efficiently and safely in any physical activity.  Here are four core exercises which can be done in the comfort of your home or outdoors that will also help you strengthen your abs.

1/ V-up (modified)

Start on your back with your legs straight and arms over your head. Engaging your abs, sit up as you bring your arms towards you ankles and simultaneously tuck the knees in towards your chest.  Keep your back straight and shoulders back as you come up into a modified “V.” Slowly lower yourself back to the ground into the start position.  If this is challenging, you can do the same movement alternating with single leg.  For the more advanced version, keep the legs entirely straight throughout the movement. Do 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions.

 

2/Plank

This can be done with elbows or hands underneath shoulders.  The elbow version is normally the easier version while the hands require more wrist strength.  Keep shoulders, hips and ankles aligned. Pull your navel to your spine as you hold yourself up. Do 3 sets for time of anywhere from 30-60 seconds or less depending on your level of fitness.

Core exercises

 

3/Side Plank  combo with twist

This move engages the obliques as well as the transverse abdominis, also part of your core. Start with hands directly underneath shoulders. Modified version would start with elbows instead. Stack one leg on top of the other or bring the top leg directly in front of the other leg.  Make sure you are aligned as you lift your hips off the floor and reach up with the opposite arm. Think about stacking your shoulders. Scoop your belly in as you rotate in with your top arm and reach underneath your armpit on the opposite side. Rotate back to the top, lower the hips down and repeat.  This is a more advanced movement and you should be able to execute a regular side plank and the twist separately before putting the two moves together. Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each side.

4/Extended plank walkout

From standing position, walk your hands down to the floor and into a plank/pushup position. Hold for a second, and walk back towards your feet.  If you have the strength you can walk your hands out further than the regular plank hold. This requires a lot more effort on your core. Make sure you keep your abs tight and don’t let your hips drop. Keep tension in your fingers as you reach back with your toes.

The core, which is connected to your inner and outer abdominals, back, hips, pelvis and glutes is essential in helping you establish a strong foundation for functional movement. Crunches and situps do not have the same effect since those type of movements isolate the muscles instead of having them work in conjunction. You entire body depends on a strong core so make sure you don’t neglect it!

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Cindy Lai

How to Increase Your Metabolism

In today’s post, I will teach you how to increase your metabolism.  Your metabolic rate determines how many calories you burn throughout the day. Rev up your metabolism by following these 5  easy tips.

1/ Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Any dehydration can have a negative impact on your metabolic rate.  Drink at least 8 glasses a day or more, depending on your activity level. Sometimes your cravings are actually for thirst and not hunger. For an added benefit, squeeze a lemon in your glass of water in the morning. The digestive enzymes from the lemon along with the fiber will get your metabolism moving and help you digest what you will be eating later on in the day.

 

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2. Eat smaller balanced meals

You’ve  heard this a million times, but this actually works!  Each meal should have a healthy balance of lean protein, good fats and fiber.  Your body needs to burn more calories to digest protein which has a high thermic effect. Options can be lean poultry, meat, fish, greek yogurt, beans, lowfat cheese and almond butter.  Fiber such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice and lentils also makes you feel fuller, longer which also takes longer to digest as well.  Throw in dark, leafy green when you can for added fiber and health benefits to complete your meal.  Your bigger meals should be breakfast, lunch and dinner with smaller snacks in between.

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3. Hit the weights

You can’t build lean muscle by only doing cardio.  Because muscle take energy to maintain, you can increase your metabolic rate and burn calories faster even at rest.  Long cardiovascular sessions do not do the job. This is because your body gets used to cardio very quickly which means you will burn less calories down the road.  Incorporating strength training into your routine whether you are in or out of the gym will be much more effective in increase your metabolism.  Provided that you are maintaining your lean muscle mass with proper nutrition, this makes a better option for fat loss and weight maintenance.

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4. HIIT Conditioning

This stands for High Intensity Interval Training which is a very effective method of training in shredding fat and improving fitness performance.  I use methods such as tabata, and different interval circuits such as 30 seconds on/30 off, 45 seconds on/15 off, etc. in my boot camp classes.  You can incorporate all type of calisthenics exercises such as burpees, squats, pushups, mountain climbers and more along with sprints, kettlebell swings, box jumps and more in a variety of circuits.  Along with the strength training, incorporating this method 2-3 x a week will also be helpful with fat burning to increase your metabolism.

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4. Drink Green Tea

Stay away from sodas and any beverages with added sugars.  Not only will they leave you feeling bloated, but they will also slow you down.  Brewed green tea contains an ingredient called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which has been known to speed up metabolism.

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5.  Stress less

Last but not least, manage your stress levels. Our bodies produce stress hormones such as cortisol which can encourage fat storage. This is especially the case when you don’t get enough sleep.  I know it’s easier said than done, but do what you need to do to decrease your stress levels, read, meditate, yoga, exercise and shut off all electronics an hour before you go to bed.

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As we get older, our metabolism will decrease.  We have the tools that we need to prevent this from getting the best of us.  Incorporate healthier habits into your lifestyle. A good metabolism will keep you lean, healthy and happier in the long run.