Spend most of the day sitting? Chances are you
have tight hip rotators, putting you at risk for
nagging injuries like lower back pain and knee problems.
To keep your hip rotators loose and flexible try
this: Lie on your back with both knees bent and your
feet flat on the floor. Bend your right leg and place
your ankle just below your knee. Next, place your
right hand on your knee and gently press the knee
away from your body. (You can also have a partner
gently pull the knee away from you.) Hold this stretch
for 15 to 30 seconds, relax and repeat two more times.
Switch legs and perform the stretch three times on
the opposite side.
Did you know: When you're
standing in a natural position, if your feet automatically
point outward your hips are probably tight.
Why Warm Up?
When trying to fit a workout into an already packed schedule, many of
us jump right into our exercise routine, skipping
the all-important warm up. Here's
why you shouldn't. According to the American
Council on Exercise (ACE), a gradual warm up:
- Leads to efficient calorie burn by increasing
your core body temperature.
- Produces faster, more forceful muscle contractions.
- Increases your metabolic rate so oxygen is delivered
to the working muscles more quickly.
- Prevents injuries by improving the elasticity
of your muscles.
- Gives you better muscle control by speeding
up your neural message pathways to the muscles.
- Allows you to work out comfortably longer because
your energy systems are able to adjust to exercise,
preventing the buildup of lactic acid in the blood.
- Improves joint range of motion.
- Psychologically prepares you for higher intensities
by increasing your focus.
What constitutes a good warm up? According to ACE,
progressive aerobic exercise that uses the same muscles
you'll be using in your workout (e.g., if you're
planning to run for 30 minutes, start with five minutes
to 10 minutes of easy jogging or brisk walking; if
you're cycling, start with easy gearing). Follow
that with light stretching of the affected muscles,
and you're good to go!
Lose Fat, Build Muscle
It's a goal personal trainers hear again and again: I
just want to tone up! If you're
looking to burn fat and add muscle, hit the weight
room. Optimal toning, says strength and conditioning
specialist Alwyn Cosgrove, can be achieved by alternating
between upper and lower body exercises that emphasize
a high number of repetitions.
Cosgrove suggests performing lower body exercises
like squats immediately followed by upper body exercises
like biceps curls, and then repeating both until
you've done each three times. Do 12 to 15 repetitions
of each exercise (with a weight you're able
to lift no more than 15 to 17 times).
Use two separate full-body routines, and alternate
between them three times a week. Doing so will get
you noticeable results in about six weeks.