Kettlebell Benefits

For decades, dumbbells have been the standard type of free weights used during training. However, there has been a recent explosion in the popularity of kettlebells – weights that have a big handle with the weight hanging off of it like a bell. The popularity of kettlebells has nothing to do with aesthetics, though. The kettlebell shape makes it possible to achieve benefits not possible with other weights.

 

What Makes Kettlebells Unique

 

With most free weights, the weight is in the center of the hand. With kettlebells, the weight hangs away from the hand. This may seem insignificant, but it actually makes a big difference to how kettlebells should be used. They should NOT be used in the typical lifting motions used with dumbbells, and they should NEVER be lifted overhead. Rather, kettlebells should be used with a swinging motion. Note that using kettlebells can be dangerous, especially if you are used to training with dumbbells. It is best to have a professional show you how to use the kettlebells properly before you start using them in your exercise routine.

 

Benefits of Kettlebells

 

Since kettlebells are used with a swinging motion, they are used for a more specialized weight training instead of traditional strength training. If your main goal is to build strength, you should stick to free weights such as dumbbells. If you want to intensify your aerobic routine and burn fat while building strength, kettlebells are a good choice because of the benefits they provide.

 

  • Work More Muscles: The swinging motion requires you to use dozens of muscles throughout your body.
  • Real-Life Motions: Kettlebell exercises mimic motions you use in your everyday life. This will help you improve resistance to injury and cause you to get lean instead of bulky.
  • They’re Aerobic: Unlike dumbbell exercises that involve fewer, slower reps, kettlebell exercises involve quick reps in greater quantity. This approach makes using kettlebells more aerobic in nature, improving your heart health while you also burn fat.
  • Results Come Faster: Because kettlebells use so many different muscles and muscle groups while combining aerobics and strength training, they produce results more quickly.
  • They Are Versatile: Kettlebells can be used in numerous ways, such as with HIIT(high intensity interval training), with squats, or in numerous swinging exercises. This variety allows you to achieve broader results using kettlebells than you can with most other types of weights. And, as an added benefit, it also means that your workout is less likely to get boring.

 

Best Yoga Positions to Strengthen Your Core

Best Yoga Positions to Strengthen Your Core

 

Posture, digestion, back safety, and so many other aspects of life require a connection to the core. Having a strong and fluid core is a key to emotional stability and overall empowerment. One of the most holistic and sustainable ways to cultivate a strong core is through a dedicated Yoga practice. Most of the Yoga Asanas (postures, positions, or “seats”) contribute to core strength in subtle ways. But there are a few that specifically strengthen the center. Remember to breathe deeply throughout each pose, and it is best to practice these within a complete sequence.

 

Phalakasana

 

Otherwise known as Plank pose, Phalakasana firms the arms, legs, and center. It looks like a standard high push-up from the outside, and is held for 5 to 7 breaths. To build core strength, pull the navel in towards the spine while drawing the tailbone towards the heels. Keep the palms flat on the ground to protect the wrists, reach through the inner heels and inner palms while hugging the arms and thighs towards the midline.

 

Chaturanga Dandasana

 

Chaturanga Dandasana is a four-limbed staff pose that looks like a push-up, except the body is at the height of the bent elbows. To really work the core in this one, come into it from the ground. Lie on your abdomen and set the palms alongside the lower ribs (your palms must stay flat the whole time to protect the wrists). Press through the inner heels. Use the core to lift the entire body just to height of the elbows, extending through crown and heels. Be careful to keep the neck and jaw relaxed, and to draw the tailbone towards the heels to keep the lower abdomen engaged.

 

Dolphin

 

Dolphin builds core strength while also working shoulders and legs. From a hands-and-knees tabletop position, set the elbows on the mat. They should be directly under the shoulders and aligned with the wrists. Turn the toes under and use the core to lift the thighbones towards the sky. Walk the feet towards the hands without moving the shoulders, sliding the shoulders away from the ears while squeezing elbows towards the midline. Use the core to lift up out of the shoulders. For a dynamic version, keep the elbows and shoulders in place as you walk the feet away from the hands and then back in, transitioning between Plank pose on the elbows and dolphin.

 

Vasisthasana

 

Sometimes called Side Plank pose, Vasisthasana strengthens the obliques. From Phalakasana, roll onto one hand, turning onto the side of one foot and extending the opposite arm towards the sky. Keep the supporting palm rooted and the hips in line with the shoulders and heels. Draw the navel towards spine and lengthen the entire body.

 

Navasana

 

Boat pose is the most direct core strengthener. From a seated position, lift the legs as you shift your weight forward onto the sitting bones/upper thighbones. Lengthen the spine, keep the shoulders back, and draw the navel inwards. Extend the legs for more intensity. Do not collapse the chest or let the spine round.

 

Swimmer

 

Strengthening the lower back is just as important as working the front of the core. Lie face down and draw the straight legs towards each other as you press down through the pelvis and shins. Use the core to lift and lengthen the torso. Extend your arms straight forward as you exhale, reach the arms out to the side and back alongside your legs as you inhale and lift the chest. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

 

Integration

 

Integrate by opening and stretching the core. Backbends such as Bhujangasana (Cobra) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) will improve the flexibility and tone of the core and keep the back safe and supple. Twists also help detoxify the organs and balance the strengthening and stretching work.

 

In addition to core-specific Asanas, the entire body must be worked regularly for weight loss, muscle development, and overall strength. These poses should be practiced as part of a whole body routine. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new fitness regimen, and practice with a qualified Yoga instructor whenever possible.

Sauna for Weight Loss

Can you lose weight just sitting in the sauna?  The answer is YES!

There is actually a lot more to it than you would think. Sitting in an appropriately heated sauna raises the heart rate significantly and has effects on the internal system that do in fact burn calories. I personally have used the sauna for weight loss and while I know immediate weight loss will be water weight, the long term experience has shown me that sauna use can help you lose weight.

There are a number of credible sources on the web offering research studies and additional facts. As an example, here is a quote from Livestrong referring to Mayo Clinic’s findings:

“According to the Mayo Clinic’s health education website, your body composition, sex, and age are determining factors on how many calories you burn during any given day, even when you are resting; this is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). A person weighing around 160 lbs. will burn burn about 300 calories during a 30-minute session in the sauna. That number changes based on your individual BMR, in addition to the temperature settings in the sauna and the amount of time you spend in the heat.”

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/242883-sauna-benefits-calories-burned/#ixzz2KFQRrzG9

LA Boxing Classes – Learn How to Box and Get Fit!

LA Boxing classes are an experience I never thought I’d try, but after my first boxing lesson, I’m hooked. My usual exercise routine consists of 4 to 5 days a week going to the gym and alternating 1 hour on the elliptical machine, treadmill and stairmaster. Then for at least 30 minutes, I hit the weight machines followed by a full sauna session. I have come to lovingly refer to this workout regimen as my “rinse and repeat workout” because it has become so engrained, I perform it without thought just as I shampoo my hair. It’s effortless, predictable… and boring. Luckily, I discovered an alternative that I really love: LA Boxing classes.

For those of you who are bored with the typical gym workout, I would recommend considering LA Boxing classes and here’s why:

Last year, I put on more than a few pounds over the holidays so I immediately kicked up my workout. After several weeks of “rinse and repeat” sessions at my local 24 Hour Fitness gym, the pounds were slooooowly coming off but it was almost painful getting through my workout because it was so dull. I decided I wanted to try something different; something that would beat the bore factor, challenge me and above all, build a skill set that I can use for long term health and fitness benefits. I started by looking up nearby fitness options using yelp and groupon and the reviews for LA Boxing classes intrigued me. The next day, I went into an Orange County LA Boxing location, met with Luis who answered my 50 million questions and then arranged a free boxing lesson with pro boxer and trainer, Julian (Julez.) 30 Minutes later, I knew I wanted to take another boxing class… and then another, and another…. I have never experienced a workout like this- I was too focused on technique to even realize I was exercising and a short, 30 minutes lesson was so intense, I was seriously sore for 4 days. On Day #2, I was actually taking the stairs one by one; my grandmother could have passed me.

So what really sold me on LA Boxing’s classes? Well, reason #1, I wanted to go FAR out of my comfort zone to build up that confidence. Reason #2, I can burn 700 calories in a 30 minute boxing class- wow! Reason #3, it’s fun & doesn’t even feel like exercise. Reason #4, have you ever seen the ass on a professional female boxer? Enough said. I went in again on day #3, limping (yes, really limping) to buy a package of lessons from Luis. This is one of those rare times when you drop a chunk of money at a gym and know you won’t regret it.

For those of you that are lucky enough to have an LA Boxing location nearby and are curious about taking boxing classes, here are my observations to help you decide if this gym is right for you:

LA Boxing & Kickboxing Classes
The classes are unlike any I have seen before- there’s a set of moves the instructor establishes but everyone goes at their own pace and performs the moves at different times. You know those cardio classes where you see rows of beautiful bodies moving in perfect unison while the instructor pep talks from the front? Ya, this isn’t like that at all- LA Boxing classes are chaotic to say the least; they’re unsynchronized, high energy and more like semi-private training sessions. You do the moves as you can- punch a bag, practice your kicks, run the rope, etc- and the instructor steps in to help if/when you need. The best part of this kind of class? NO ONE has to feel like the uncoordinated oddball hiding in the back!

How much does LA Boxing Cost? LA Boxing Price ranges:
Since I’m also a full time traveler blogger and rarely know where I’ll be from week to week, I signed up for the $89 monthly gym option and then also bought a package of personal training sessions. LA Boxing initial costs came to about $480+ which included gym access, unlimited boxing and kickboxing classes, 3 personal training sessions and boxing gloves & wraps. Additional personal training was more- Luis (at LA Boxing in Orange County) offered me a promotion package of 10 private boxing lessons for about $370 (About 50% off.) They also have a promotion for those who choose to prepay their boxing membership in advance which costs about $40 a month (approx half the price of month to month membership.) Freezing membership is an option for us heavy travelers or if you should ever need to take a break from your boxing classes. If you want to try it for a month or two before committing to full pre-payment, LA Boxing will put all initial costs toward a long term option when you are ready- can’t beat that!

After talking to a few of my hCG Diet Info readers, there were two common concerns when considering LA Boxing classes:
1st, a lot of people felt the $89 monthly costs were steep for a gym membership. Hey- you wouldn’t compare the expense of piano lessons to your monthly gym fees right? Come on now, that’s just silly. Well, same differences apply here; at a gym like 24 Hour Fitness, you’re basically paying for equipment rental. At a gym like LA Boxing, you’re paying for equipment rental AND to learn an entirely new skill set. It’s next level gym-ing people- of course it’s going to cost more! I say, your workout is what you pay for: plain n’ mundane may be cheaper but learning the skills that build the ass of a boxer are priceless… and well, that’s just worth every penny.

2nd; there was concern about feeling out of place physically and for other reasons. Hey, I’ve been there- I was once that seriously overweight girl that couldn’t bare the thought of attending a yoga class surrounded by a bunch of supermodels- ugh, few things can be harder on the ego than feeling like everyone in the room knows you’re the heaviest person in the class & you can’t even touch your own toes. (I’m over that now by the way- I will squeeze my post-holiday ass into my too-tight yoga pants and get right in the front row of class knowing I’m there for a reason and that’s to feel good!) For those of you who are worried about “not fitting in” for your first LA boxing class, I can confidently tell you, this is where everyone fits in. In fact, if you asked me which gym feels more “comfortable” and “accepting” between 24 Hour Fitness and LA Boxing, I’d definitely say LA Boxing. This is a smaller gym where everyone is talkative and the staff know your name and are very supportive. Members are both men and women, all age ranges and fitness levels. In one beginners class, I’ve seen a 300 lb man in his 60’s and a fit girl in her early 20’s. There are a lot of very heavy people here, and I’ve met several who are 100 lb losers and still going. If I was 240 lbs overweight (again), moved like an uncoordinated cheerleader (which I sometimes do) and was wearing bright red clown shoes (add to the birthday wishlist), I’d still feel comfortable walking in here and having a boxing lesson, no problem!

I recommend LA Boxing for anyone tired of feeling like a mouse running on a wheel, day after day at the gym. Even if you’re just curious, I say, go in and ask for Luis- if he doesn’t work at your particular LA Boxing location, tell them you want their version of Luis and then rename him. Ask him 50 million questions about the gym, arrange a free signature LA Boxing class, learn how to throw a jab and an undercut in your first boxing lesson… then you’ll know you will never have another boring workout again!