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Fitness Tips

Below are the latest and greatest fitness tips created just for you, our Members, by the Houstonian Personal Trainers. For more information on personal training or the numerous fitness program options please contact Fitness Director, Shannon Cauley at 713.685.6721.
 

Breathing Efficiently to Maximize Strength Training
By Personal Trainer Adam Benge
Breathing! It's so simple, right? Believe it or not, when lifting light, moderate, or heavy loads of intensity, people forget when the appropriate time to breathe in and breathe out is. Of course, there are various forms of breathing depending on the activity itself. Though, as for strength training goes, I'm here to show you how to breathe more efficiently and in a way that will help maximize your effort in the gym and get those last few quality reps in!
 
Now let's take a lesson on how to breathe in and out sitting in place. Not only is this great at promoting good posture and relaxation but it's the first step in putting more focus into your workout and giving you the mental clarity to press, pull, or exert your energy needs. Below you'll find some Simple Steps to help you along the way:
 
1. Sit up tall with your "Core” engaged and your head in a neutral position looking straight forward. Not crouched or rounded, but with the shoulder blades drawn down and back and your chest sticking out with smooth shoulder lines.
 
2. Inhale through your nose expanding your "trunk” or another commonly known term is "diaphragmatic breathing”. As this inhale takes place, your chest expands, your diaphragm contracts, and your belly expands.
 

3. As you exhale, breathe the air out of your mouth in a calming effort. During this phase of the breath your chest relaxes, your diaphragm relaxes, and your belly contracts.

Here, I'll break down a few common movements and how to appropriately breathe during each set.

First and foremost, take the time to learn to breathe within the movement you are doing. I see a lot of people who breathe all-mouth, their timing is off, or they are gasping for air making these noises that cause people to wonder what's going on over there?
 
Take a look below and let's break down the ins & outs of pushing, pulling, & isometric movements.
 
When performing pushing movements, you will inhale through your nose during the eccentric phase which will help you create intra-abdominal pressure (an outward pressure on the core to further stabilize the lumbopelvic hip complex and core throughout the motion). Basically, the intra-abdominal pressure protects your spine and provides stability. It's like your "natural weight belt”.
 
You will then exhale during the contraction phase leaving your core to tighten and protect your spine. Taking in a fuller breathe will help deliver
more oxygen into your muscles. Breathing out will help rid of CO2 in your system and give you more fluid like breathing during your set. Some common pushing movements are squats, overhead press, bench press, push-ups and triceps extensions.
 
For example, the push up. As you descend down towards the floor (eccentric), you inhale in through your nose, briefly hold your breath at the bottom of the transition when your chest hits the floor, and exhale (concentric) as you push your chest off the floor back into the starting position.
 
When performing pulling movements, the same goes as breathing with the pushing movements except you‘ll exhale through your mouth when bringing the weight towards your body and breathe in through your nose when the weight goes away from the body. Some common Pulling movements are dead lifts, pull ups, bent over rows, lat pull down and biceps.
 

For example, when performing the lat pull down start with a big diaphragmatic breath at the beginning and slowly exhale through the pull down phase or concentric phase towards your chest. As you slowly let the weight return to its starting position (eccentric) you will inhale through your nose and restart the process of the diaphragmatic breath ready for your next rep.

Also, be mindful of your posture position prior to your first rep. Be sure to get your posture in check or as I like to call it the "athletic position” or a variation of the athletic position. By doing so you can take in a fuller deeper breath whereas if you started in a rounded forward shoulder position you wouldn't be able to take in that full deep breath.
 
Isometric movements on the other hand like planks, side planks, static holds of the legs (wall squats, split squat iso-holds), you'll need to breathe in & out in a calm rhythm which will not let your heart rate sky rocket up and will give you focus within the movement itself.
 

For example, I like to make my clients sometimes count the number of breaths they do in a plank. Let's say I tell the client to breathe in 15 breaths. Now that 15 breaths gives the person focus instead of being worried about a given amount of time. Your mindset changes when you are focused rather than waiting for a brief period of time on a stop watch because you are then focused on one thing, your breathing! And less about the "burn” of your core and shoulders. It's a mind trick that will help you push past your previous times on your plank.

This is one of the best exercises you can do to retrain your breathing technique. By slowly breathing in deep and slowly exhaling for about the same amount of time you can get the right tempo of any exercise.

To sum it all up, when going through any exercise you should be breathing out during the concentric muscle action and breathing in during the eccentric action. Keep it simple and just breathe!

For more information on learning to breathe efficiently within your strength training, please contact Adam Benge, Houstonian Personal Trainer: abenge@houstonian.com or (713)-263- 6509.

 
Tips for Staying Fit While Traveling
by Personal Trainer Jennifer Stevens
 
It is easy to get into a routine going to the gym everyday and eating healthy meals at home.  However, when it comes to traveling, we tend to give ourselves a pass.  I am too busy, there isn’t a gym, I have to go out to eat with clients, or I am on vacation and just want to relax and enjoy myself. That is ok if it is one week out of the year, but some people travel often for work or have the luxury of taking multiple vacations.  The key to success is learning how to stay healthy when out of our regular routine. The secret is to plan ahead.
 

 

Finding a Hotel

Whether you are traveling for work or fun, it is important to find a hotel in the best location.  The most important thing is to make sure everything you need is close to where you are working or playing.  Choose a hotel near a grocery store, plenty of restaurants and a gym.  

 

Finding Restaurants

Do a search for restaurants near your hotel and look at the menus.  Pick a few where you know you can order something healthy.  If we wait until we are out of town and hungry, we may end up succumbing to an unhealthy option.  If we plan in advance, we know exactly what types of foods we have access to and can make healthy food selections.    

 

Healthy Snacks

Pack healthy snacks in your suitcase or shop at a store nearby. It is important to eat every 2-3 hours for a healthy metabolism and to keep us from overeating at our next meal.  We may be traveling somewhere where it is hard to find healthy snacks, so be prepared and plan ahead.  Make sure to have plenty of nuts, protein bars, fruits and veggies or protein powder that you can take with you anywhere.  It is important to eat a source of lean protein and fruit or vegetables with each meal.  

 

Pack a Water Bottle and a Cooler

We should be drinking half of our body weight in ounces of water.  We are more likely to do that if we can see how much we are drinking and always have it with us.  We can also pack healthy meals or snacks when we may not have the greatest food options.  For example, if we are out hiking, hanging at the beach, or on a road trip.  This ensures us to not skip meals and to keep our diet healthy.  

Where to Workout

Look online to see if you hotel has a fitness room.  If not, ask if there is a gym nearby that you can have access to. You can also search for parks or outdoor activities around your hotel.  You do not have to workout in a gym to stay in shape.  You can workout outside or in your hotel room.  It is also fun to try something new…rent a bike, kayak, go skiing or for a run and check out the new scenery.  If you are on a business trip and pressed for time, do a quick 30-minute workout in your room. 

 

This is a quick workout you can do when out of town and without any fitness equipment.  

 

5 rounds of Body Weight Exercises

20 Push Ups
20 Squats

20 Dips

20 Lunges
20 Crunches
Rest 30-60 seconds between each round  

Choose a Room with a Kitchenette

This gives us the ability to eat as well as we do at home by stocking our room with healthy foods.  All you need is a refrigerator and you can stock it with fruits, vegetables, yogurt, sliced chicken or turkey, and bottled water.

 

 
Whether you are traveling for work or on vacation and having fun, these are easy tips to keep you from falling out of your routine.  We get the best results by maintaining consistency no matter where we are or what obstacles we may have. 
 
For more information contact Jennifer Stevens at 713-263-6513 or jstevens@houstonian.com
 

Spring Clean Your Fitness Routine
by Personal Trainer Chad Fuqua

It's that time of year again, the sun's shining, and those thick sweaters are on their way to the closest. It's the perfect time to reignite your motivation to workout! Kick off spring with a healthy start by getting the right gear, revamping your routine, and doing some "spring
cleaning" in your pantry. Below are some simple tips to get you started.

Book a Physical
Believe it or not, only about 20 percent of Americans get an annual check-up. Be one of them! While you might look and feel just fine, it's important to keep tabs on things like blood pressure and cholesterol before designing your workout program. Plus it's a great way to see how you have progressed when you go back a year later for your next physical.

Set a Schedule but Be Realistic
If you haven't been exercising much this winter (or any at all), don't make a plan to do a workout for 30 minutes a day, six days a week. You will only get frustrated and be more likely to give up on your workout program. Instead make a plan to workout two to three times a week for 30 minutes and progress from there. Also, post your exercise plan in places you'll look frequently, like the calendar app on your smartphone or at your desk at work.
 
Team Up with a Friend
You are more likely to stick with your plan if you have a partner. Choose someone who has similar goals and whose schedule fits your own. Your best bet is to get together at the same time at least three days a week.

Clean Out Your Pantry
Do you still have that tin of popcorn from the holidays or a box of chocolates from Valentine's Day? Get rid of them! Throw away other foods low in nutritional value, like chips, pretzels, sugary cereals, white bread and, those 100 calorie snack packs (remember a cookie still a cookie).
 

Jump Rope
Doing this favorite childhood workout can burn over 200 calories in just 20 minutes. Add other exercises like walking lunges, push-ups, planks, short sprints and you've got yourself a circuit program you can do right in your backyard.

Update Your Workout Wardrobe
Are you still sweating it out in cotton T-shirts? Throw away worn-out workout attire and replace them with shorts and shirts made with breathable fabrics. While you're at it, get some new shoes. Working out in your loafers can not be comfortable!

Stay Hydrated
Avoid muscle cramping and fatigue by drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercise. A general rule of thumb: The more you sweat, the more fluids you need to replace, so drink up!

Step Off the Scale

Muscle weighs more than fat, so there is a chance you might be panicking because you are not shedding the pounds at the rate you expected. To get an accurate measure of your progress have your body fat measured or use a measuring tape once every few weeks to see where you are trimming inches from your waist, hips, and other areas.

Sign Up for a Race
Adding positive goals to your fitness routine will make you feel better and also give purpose to your training other than losing weight or fitting into
those skinny jeans. Look into local road races and sign up with your training partner. The 5K is a perfect start for beginners.

Always Reward Yourself
Don't forget to take care of your body after all the hard work! A sports massage is a perfect way to reward yourself, and speed up muscle recovery.
 
Good luck and best wishes with your spring workout routine. If you are having problems with getting started please contact a certified personal trainer. Personal trainers are an excellent resource to help put together a plan that works for you!
 
For more information contact Chad Fuqua at cfuqua@houstonian.com or 713-263-6507

5 Tips from a Strength Coach
by Personal Trainer, Rand Cook
As summer is nearing, many athletes will begin a strength training routine with the intent of becoming better prepared for the upcoming
season. As the stressors of school and competition have slowed, this can be a great time to take their performance to the next level as they will likely have more time to train and rest. Here are 5 tips to help guide the athlete as he or she begins a program.
 
1. Start with an assessment
One of the biggest mistakes an individual or an athlete can make is to jump into a fitness program assuming he or she should be doing what
everyone else is doing. We are all built very differently. Body composition, mobility, structure and previous injury are all factors that should be
considered when starting a fitness program. Jumping into a "cookie cutter” program without an assessment can put you at risk for injury. An assessment will allow for specific and modified programming for each individual.
 
2. Risk vs. Reward
Save the risk for the competition or on the "field.” Remember your ultimate goal of strength training. Most likely, it is to increase
performance in your specific sport. A strength and conditioning program should not put your body at extreme risk each time you step into the weight room. One of the goals of strength training is to prevent injury, not to create it.
 
3. Progression
Strength training should start with simple foundational movements then progress to more sport specific movements as the off-season progresses.
Our goal is not the final product you produce in the weight room, but the final product you produce on the "field.” Strength that transitions into athletic performance should be the ultimate goal as an athlete.
4. Putting down the tools
Establishing an off-season is one of the most critical components of a program. Year-round sports can not only put athletes at greater risk for
injury, but can slow them from reaching their true potential. Establish a time period to set down the tools (bat, racquet, club) and focus on taking your body to the next level. If you can't set them down completely, try to reduce your skill work to 1 or 2 days a week if possible.
5. A Positive Experience
An athlete should want to be training. This doesn't mean that every day in the gym should be a walk in the park; it should be challenging. However, strength training does not have to be in a military boot camp atmosphere. It should be a positive and reinforcing experience. The goal is not only to increase athletic performance but also to provide helpful and retainable information that can help the individual throughout his or her athletic career.
 
For more information please contact Rand Cook at 713-263-6529 or rcook@houstonian.com


Fitness Tip by Personal Trainer Sean Cashman
Achieving your very first pull-up!
 
A pull-up is pound for pound one of the most valuable exercises you can do. Not only does it help develop overall upper body strength and stability, it’s just downright super impressive. A lot of people think the pull-up is out of their reach. But I’m here to tell you that everyone is capable of achieving a pull-up. All it takes is the right tools and a healthy dose of effort and hard work.
So here it is. 6 simple steps to achieve your very first pull-up!
Step 1 – Dead Hangs
The goal of a dead hang is to just get a feel for hanging from the bar. Just reach up and grab the bar, lift your feet off the ground and hang. Keep your chest up and shoulder blades pulled down. Once you get comfortable with hanging from the bar move on to flex hangs.
Step 2 – Flex Hangs
A flex hang involves holding yourself at the top of the pull-up position with your chin held up over the bar. Really focus on squeezing every muscle in your body to create maximum tension. Use a box or partner assist to jump into the top position. Hold this position for as long as you can. Once you can hold a flex hang for 5- 10 seconds start performing negatives.
Step 3 – Negatives
A negative involves lowering yourself down from the flex hang position in a controlled manner. It might be hard at first but, with practice, you should be able to achieve a 10 second smooth, controlled negative.
Step 4 – Inverted Rows
An inverted row involves lying down under a bar (smith machine or rack) and pulling your chest up towards the bar. You are basically doing a pull-up in the horizontal plane.  Like you’ve been practicing on the previous steps, push your chest up, pull your shoulder blades back and squeeze every muscle. Your body should be stiff like a board during the ascent and descent. Start working up to sets of 10.
Step 5 – Partner Assists
Now it’s time to put your practice into action and try some pull-ups! You may not have sufficient strength yet to perform reps on your own so use a partner or large band to assist. The extra help from the assist will give you that edge needed to continue building the necessary strength to eventually perform pull-ups on your own.
Step 6 – Pull-ups
It’s time to just do it. All your hard work pays off right here.
What grip is best? An under-handed grip, shoulder width apart (palms facing you) is generally termed a chin-up. An over-handed grip, wider than shoulder width apart (palms facing away) is generally called a pull-up. A chin-up grip is generally easier than a pull-up grip. But try them both and find what you like.
Now if you follow these steps and practice, practice, practice I guarantee you will impress your friends with your pull-up prowess! 
One more thing… let me know if you are up for the challenge, and I’ll help you out! I’ll follow your progress, check in with you, help you overcome any hurdles or hiccups and make any modifications so we can get you your very first pull-up! And any of you advanced trainees out there I haven’t forgotten you. If your goal is to get 10 pull-ups, 20 pull-ups, whatever it is, email me and I’ll help you achieve it!
Happy pulling!

 
Fitness Tip by Personal Trainer Patti Plagmann
Golf Balance - how to develop proper balance for the game of golf.
 
A great golf swing always starts with body and its contact with the ground. The feet are the only two objects on the human body that should touch the ground in the golf swing. If there are physical limitations in this area (such as balance), mechanics will be compromised, ultimately ending in poor performance or even worse, injury. This article will aim to identify and implement strategies to overcome any balance deficiencies that may be present in your body.

The body not only relies on the eyes and ears for balance but also the proprioceptive system.  Proprioception, in layman’s terms is the ability to sense the position, location, orientation and movement of the body and its parts. Without adequate proprioception in the golf swing, the body will fall victim to a sequential break down in the segments above the level of the proprioceptive (balance) breakdown.  Certain joints possess certain qualities, and when these qualities are compromised, there is usually a breakdown that arises either above or below the joint in question. The proprioceptive system in the golf swing follows a similar pattern.

The complex motion of a golf swing requires that the body perform a series of tasks in sequence from the feet all the way to the cervical spine, in order to propel that little white ball towards your target with the correct amount of distance and spin. The precision required for this activity is monumental when it gets broken down to the smallest detail. Any variance from the precision required, and your ball travels either left, short, right, long, too high, or too low.

Identifying the sources of variance in the golf swing is often a daunting task. One such source can be linked to a person’s balance or proprioception. As stated above, the only two body parts that should touch the ground in the golf swing are the two feet. However, in many golf swings, the two feet are not working as effectively as possible; thereby compromising the segments above them (knee, hip, lower back, mid back, shoulders, etc...). When a golfer presents with limitations in their ability to maintain their balance throughout the golf swing, it is imperative to determine what level of proprioception that they possess.

Through a very simple test, you can determine how your balance/proprioception stacks up to the best in the world. The Single Leg Balance Test is probably one of the easiest tests that I use to determine what level of balance golfers possess. To perform this test, simply stand on one leg, and raise the opposite foot, making sure not to touch the legs together. Arms can be outstretched to the side if you desire. Once you have obtained a quiet and steady stance with your eyes open, close both eyes and go for as long as you can without tipping over, or scooting the feet from their original position. Average human single leg balance time is approximately 10 seconds, while the average on our tour players (male and female) is roughly 26 seconds. This is a major difference between those players who are very efficient and effective in making that white object go to the desired location. Try this test and see where you fall in regards to your proprioception. If there is a limitation, feel free to look at some of the exercises attached as drills that can help to increase your ability to balance, and thereby allow the segments above the ankle/foot to do what they are supposed to do, instead of compensating for the limitations in the ankle/foot.

Balance Exercises
Single Leg Balance Golf Stance
Instructions: Get into your golf posture and lift one leg. Try to balance yourself first with eyes open, swinging your hands back and forth.  Then try eyes closed. Repeat on the other leg.

Balance Beam Taps
Instructions:     Start by standing on a small step, foam roller or balance beam with your right leg. Maintaining balance on just your right leg, try to tap your left heel on the ground in front and to the right of your right leg. Then stand on your left leg and try to tap your right heel on the ground in front and to the left of your left leg. Repeat back and forth!

For more information contact Patti Plagmann at pplagmann@houstonian.com or 713-263-6526
  
 
Fitness Tip by Cherie Troxell
Tips For Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

For many people having a goal is a great motivator, but what about those of us that seem to always be setting goals only to give up or become distracted before we reach them? In the spirit of the New Year I'm going to offer some alternatives to the traditional way we think about goal setting and how we can make them a lifetime commitment, not a short term reward.
There are two problems in fitness when it comes to goal setting. One is giving up before we reach our goal. We may get distracted, discouraged or simply procrastinate until we inevitably feel defeated and simply give up. The other problem is reaching our goal but then backsliding. Maybe we lost ten pounds or started running but only to put the weight back on or never reach that great three mile milestone.

Reaching your goals- Why keeping your goals to yourself may make it more likely you will achieve them.

Last year I saw a TED talk titled "Keep Your Goals To Yourself” by Derek Sivers. In his talk Sivers discusses a social psychology phenomenon that telling others your goals makes it less likely (on average) that you will achieve them.

Sound crazy? Maybe, but this is how it works- When setting a goal there is usually a lot of hard work, and maybe even some pain (especially in the beginning of a new fitness goal!) that we have to do in order to reach it. When we tell people our goals we are rewarded with a good feeling he labels "Social Reality” where our brain feels rewarded as if we had accomplished the goal. Having felt this feeling of accomplishment we are then less likely to do the hard work it takes as the payoff is already ours. The study also noted when people told researchers their goals they were more likely to quit a task that furthered those goals than people who didn't announce their goals. They also overestimated how much work they had left to do!

It seems both socially, and in our own minds, we must be careful to keep our eyes on the prize. We must focus on the goal at hand and watch out for early rewards or the feeling that we can let up because of praise from others or even ourselves. In other words, the time to celebrate that you have trained enough to finish the MS150 is when you've crossed the finish line, not before!

Sliding back into old habits- Are we in this for the goal or the lifestyle?

The other side of the coin is reaching our goals and then experiencing the inevitable backslide into our old habits, losing the progress we worked so hard to achieve. I think sometimes this is due to focusing strictly on the goal and not the problems we faced that got us out of shape or overweight in the first place. For a lot of us, living goal-to-goal results in adding a few pounds a year until we wake up and are officially "Not Where We Want To Be”. I have found that combining big picture lifestyle changes first and intermediate goals second helps with this. In this way we are using the goals as a waypoint, as opposed to an endpoint, on our journey to a healthier lifestyle.

In fitness, we often want goals to be a tangible gauge of our successes that will spur us on in our journey. Losing ten pounds to fit into an outfit is a great and worthy goal, but what have we really achieved if, after that New Year’s Eve party, we put the weight back on? By keep our focus on the big picture, to feel good and get the most out of life, losing that ten pounds becomes just a reinforcement of our hard work.

One way I do this is by having my next goal in mind even before reaching my current goal. My true goal is to become as healthy and active as I can be. The loss of those ten pounds assures me that I am making progress. Before the weight is lost I start to focus on my next challenge. This goal setting keeps me from resting on my laurels and moves me forward with momentum and success!   Good luck on your New Year's resolutions, I can't wait to hear about them- In A Year!

For more information, contact Cherie Troxell at ctroxell@houstonian.com or 713.812.6967.

Fitness Tip by Personal Trainer, Bob Talamini
Buy Tennis Shoes That Fit
Shop for workout shoes late in the day, that's when your feet are the largest. Make sure there's a half inch of space in front of your longest toe and that you can easily wiggle your toes. Then slip off the shoes and compare them with your bare feet. If each shoe isn't obviously wider and longer than your foot, go half a size bigger.

For more information, contact Bob at btalamini@houstonian.com or 713.263.6531.

Fitness Tip by Personal Trainer, Sean Cashman
Abdominal Training

The days of endless crunches till your blue in the face are over. That 6 minute Ab routine, gone.
Why?

Because abdominal training is not about flexion (e.g. crunches). Ab training is all about stabilization training and creating a strong connection between the upper and lower body. Why have we been missing the boat then? Pick up an anatomical textbook and you will see the Abs role is to flex the spine. But look at the real world application of the abs and they function primarily to stabilize our torso during running, walking, lifting and even standing. Think about it…if the true function of our abs was flexion then wouldn’t they look like two biceps and not a 6 pack?

So how should you train the core? Here’s a list of exercises, just try adding in 2-3 of these during a workout session.

Overhead medicine ball throws
Medicine ball side twist throws
Feet Elevated BOSU Ball Push-ups
TRX atomic push-ups
Landmine Twists
Renegade rows
Single-Leg Squats
Single-Leg Deadlifts
Cable rotations
Kettlebell get-ups

Remember the Abs resemble a cylinder. They are not one dimensional. We need to train it appropriately. So move away from the crunches and add in some core work that will functionally enhance your body.

For more information, contact Sean Cashman at scashman@houstonian.com or 713.263.6502.


Fitness Tip by Personal Trainer, Ember Ormsby
Hit it or Split It!

Body, Mind, and Spirit – the phrase has been coined.  We all know it takes all three to live a long healthy life!  Sometimes, however, we become burned out and exhausted – physically, mentally and emotionally.

As an athlete, your physical state will eventually reach a point of exhaustion and you know how to recover.  But what do you do when you’re mental and emotional states are "over working your workout” and feel just as exhausted or burned out?  How do you now overcome the wall that prevents you from completing your training?  On the morning you reach that point of exhaustion, you have two options, "Hit It” or "Split It”!  Do you drag yourself to the gym feeling like a hamster on a wheel, repeating the same old workout or do you split it and stay in bed?

 "Change your attitude - it will change your life.”  Establishing the outcome of your day can be determined in the first few minutes of wakening.  Take the "Hit It or Split It” attitude and turn it into a new and challenging workout!  When you wake up and feel like you want to "hit it or split it,” just do both!   

Warm-up for 8- 10 minutes.  The goal of this workout is to complete two full rounds, timing each one – the second round completed quicker than the first.  Perform one set of each exercise without resting between them.  Recover 2-3 minutes then repeat the exercises in much less time! 
Glide Lunges with Ropes - Hold a Heavy Fitness Rope in both hands above your head, stand with feet hip-width apart and a glider under right foot.  Slide right leg back into a lunge, keeping the ropes elevated.  Press your weight into your left foot, knee behind toe, then return to start position. That's one rep. Do 15 reps, repeat on the other side.

Triple Threat – Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your fingers on the back of your head, pulling elbows and shoulders back and sticking your chest out. Lower your body so that your femur bone is parallel to the floor by pushing your hips back and bending your knees, keeping your torso upright and your core tight. Hold for 20 seconds and then immediately perform 10 squat jumps.  Return to the squatting position and repeat combination 3 times without rest.
Dummy Jumps – Standing to the right of a small step or box, quickly jump over the box from side to side, landing with both feet on the ground at the same time.  Over and back is one rep.  Complete 30 reps without rest.

Medicine Ball Push-ups – Start in the up phase of the Push up position with a small medicine ball underneath your right hand.  Perform one push up and then, without rocking your hips and maintaining shoulder stability, roll the ball to the other hand and place it on top of the ball.  Complete the Push up.  That’s one rep.  Do 10.

Rope Jacks – Start with your feet hip-width apart holding a heavy fitness rope in each hand.  Perform 30 jumping jacks while holding the rope.  Be sure to start with a little bit of slack in the rope.

Burpies - Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body as deep as you can into a squat, placing your hands on the floor in front of you. Jump your legs back so that you’re now in a push-up position. Complete the push up. Quickly jump feet up to hands and perform a squat jump, landing in the start position. That’s one rep. Do 20.  Modification: no jump.

For more information, contact Ember Ormsby at estrand@houstonian.com or 713.263.6519.

Fitness Tip by Personal Trainer, Vince Grbic
Fat Burning Tips

The most efficient method of exercise to burn fat are short bursts of high intensity exercises called interval training.  This will help tell your body to "let go" of fat instead of holding on to it.  When you exercise for long periods of time, like a very long run, your body thinks it needs to hold on to fat for long term energy.  I recommend no more than one or two long runs per week.

Increase the amount of resistance or weight training you do.  Muscle burns more calories than fat while at rest or during activity.

Watch what and how much you eat.  Eat early and often.  Try five or six meals per day.  One or two meals per day tells your body to hold on to fat for long term storage.  Stoke your metabolism with small nutritious meals that include natural, unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean meats.  STAY AWAY from processed sugars. 

For more information, contact Vince Grbic at vgrbic@houstonian.com or 713.263.6510

Fitness Tip by Personal Trainer Chad Fuqua

Some of you might have asked yourself the question whether you should do cardio or weights first. The answer really depends upon what you are trying to accomplish. There are no specific guidelines for order of exercise. However, exercises performed with adequate energy are performed at higher intensities and with more focus and efficiency. Exercises performed while energy supplies are low are less effective and more likely to result in injury.

The majority of non-athletes that exercise for health and wellbeing can avoid this question altogether by doing cardio and weight training on different days. Another option is to do both endurance and strength training together with interval or circuit routines that give a full-body workout in limited time. Even though there might not be a specific exercise order, some routines seem to work better than others. If you have specific goals, try using the following advice:

If Your Goal is to Improve Overall Health
It really doesn't matter if you lift weights or do cardio training first. In fact, you can do both at the same time with interval training or circuit training routines. You can also alternate weight lifting and endurance training on different days.

If Your Goal is Cardiovascular Endurance
In order to build and maintain cardiovascular endurance, you should perform endurance exercises first, while you have plenty of energy for an extended period of time. Add resistance exercises 2 to 3 times a week, either after or on alternate days. Lifting weights prior to running is not recommended due to increased risk of injury.

If Your Goal is to Increase Muscle Size and Strength
Increasing muscle size can best be accomplished by lifting weights first when the body's main source of energy (glycogen) for muscle contraction is high. If you do a hard cardio workout before lifting, you deplete your glycogen stores, which make the workout less effective.

If Your Goal is Burning Calories for Fat Loss
If your primary goal is to burn as many calories as you can in a single session, it's best to do cardio first and weights second. It is simply easier for most people to burn more calories per exercise session when they do cardio first. Some people achieve significant weight loss exclusively though dietary changes while others do it simply through weight training. Weight training definitely burns calories and it often burns more calories per minute than performing endurance exercises. The problem is that most people fatigue quickly when lifting weights, and therefore cannot perform the exercises as long as they can walk, bike or use an elliptical machine. The end result is that the total calories burned per session tends to be higher for those who do endurance exercise first, simply because the can exercise longer!

For more information contact Chad Fuqua at cfuqua@houstonian.com or 713.263.6507.