Winter weather doesn't have to put your fitness routine on hold. Stay safe and warm with these cold-weather exercise tips.
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Winter weather doesn't have to put your fitness routine on hold. Stay safe and warm with these cold-weather exercise tips.
Exercises for Extreme Obesity
If you’re extremely obese, incorporating regular bouts of exercise will likely help you make significant fat-loss strides. However, you will need to make some adjustments and follow limitations to ensure you’re exercising safely. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that obese individuals incorporate aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility work.
Focus on Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises will make the most notable impact on your fat-loss efforts because they’re effective at burning a relatively high number of calories. When you’re extremely obese, you’ll need to select a cardio workout that doesn’t place significant stress on your body. Walking is ideal; however, if the excess weight you’re carrying makes walking too challenging, consider a non-weight-bearing exercise like swimming or riding a stationary bike. Obesity can cause you to have balance issues, so if you do walk, consider using a treadmill so that you can hold onto the handles. Keep your intensity and duration relatively low. For example, you could walk on a treadmill or in a pool for 10 minutes. Gradually increase your duration by five minutes every week until you're able to move continuously for 20 to 30 minutes. Try to fit in aerobic exercise nearly everyday.
Incorporating Strength Training
While strength training isn’t the most effective way to burn calories, it can help you develop muscular endurance and strength. In turn, strength training can increase your resting metabolic rate, which in turn means more calories burned. Getting to a gym to use strength-training machines may be challenging, but you can work out at home with dumbbells. For example, from your arm chair, you can perform dumbbell presses, biceps curls and triceps extensions. To do shoulder presses, hold the dumbbells at your shoulders and then push them overhead until your arms are straight before returning under control to the starting position. For dumbbell curls, start with your arms hanging down and your palms facing forward and the bend your elbows to lift the weights to your shoulders. To perform overhead triceps extensions, start with your arms straight and pointed toward the ceiling and then bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells back behind your head. Work your quads from your chair by extending your knees to lift your feet until your legs are straight and then return to the starting position. Do these exercises two to three days per week and on nonconsecutive days. Perform two sets of eight to 15 reps of each exercise. Start with 5-pound dumbbells and then gradually bump up the weight if you feel doing 15 reps is easy.
Improving Flexibility With Stretching
Because it can be uncomfortable to move when you’re carrying extra weight, those who are obese can often suffer from tight muscles. In the beginning, stretching may be slightly uncomfortable because of the range of motion limitations attributed to fat mass. You can get in some stretches from your arm chair. Stretch your hamstrings by straighten your legs with your heels resting on the floor and lean forward at the waist until you feel a pull at the back of your legs. Stretch your back from your chair by twisting your torso and turning your shoulders to face to the side. When you're finished, twist the other way. Before you get out of bed, roll over onto your side and stretch your quadriceps. Bend the knee of your top leg. If you can, grab your right foot with your top hand and pull it toward your buttocks for a better stretch. To stretch your chest and shoulders, place your hands on the back of your head with your elbows flaring out to the sides. Pull your elbows back behind you until you feel a stretch at the front of your shoulders. Try to fit in your stretches daily, performing each stretch for two sets of 30 seconds each.
Because obesity is related to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, it’s important that you visit a medical professional prior to starting a workout program to ensure it’s safe for you to exercise. Because you’re carrying excess weight, you are at a greater risk of overheating than those who are not overweight. Therefore, when exercising, wear light clothing. Drink an 8-ounce glass of water before and after you're finished. Have a glass of water nearby when you're exercising and take sips periodically to facilitate body cooling. Avoid exercises that cause you pain, as injuries will cause you to have to limit or put your workouts on hold.
How to Walk Fast
Walking fast isn't just a useful skill for people on the go, it's also an Olympic sport that's been a part of the games since the 1904 St. Louis Summer Olympics. Whether you walk competitively or just for exercise, an efficient walking motion requires you to minimize unnecessary movements like picking your feet up too high or excessively rotating your torso. Learn proper technique for walking fast, then gradually increase the number of strides you take per minute to further boost your speed.
Stand with your torso erect and your feet a little less than shoulder-width apart.
Gaze straight ahead toward the horizon.
Stride forward with your left leg, straightening your knee and keeping your foot low to the ground as you move forward.
Swing your left arm back and your right arm forward as you step. Keep your arms parallel to your body and maintain a 90-degree bend at the elbows.
Land on your left heel about 10 to 12 inches in front of you. Your heel should hit the ground at the same time your right toes are about to lift off the ground.
Shift your weight forward onto the toes of your left foot.
Bend your right knee and swing your right foot forward, keeping your foot low to the ground.
Straighten your right knee as your leg swings ahead of your shoulder, then land on the heel and repeat the motion with your left leg.
Eliminate rotational movement of the torso and arms to improve the efficiency of your walking form.
Increase the number of steps you take each minute to improve your walking speed.
Walking Lunges for a Bigger Butt
When building a bigger butt, lunges are a staple. The main functions of your butt muscles, or glutes, are to laterally rotate and extend your hips and to abduct your thighs. When you lunge, the hip extension that occurs causes your glute muscles to fire. Your glutes are activated even more when you do walking lunges since they are called upon to help you with the added element of balance.
Best Foot Forward
Start with bodyweight walking lunges before getting into the serious stuff -- more advanced variations. Stand upright with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your toes facing forward. Step your left leg out in front of you and lunge down until your right knee is just above the floor. Then, push forward forcefully and bring your right leg forward and then down in front of you for another lunge. Repeat this walking lunge pattern for a set number of reps or until you run out of room. Try to keep your knees facing the same direction as your toes, but don't necessarily fret if your knees extend over your toes; the idea that this is dangerous for everyone is a myth, according to Fabio Comana and Pete McCall of the American Council on Exercise. The amount of stress on your knee when moving past your toes depends on your limb length and range of movement and is different for everyone.
Once you have bodyweight walking lunges down, you can add more challenging variations to your routine. The dumbbell walking lunge is your next exercise. It is performed in exactly the same way as bodyweight lunges, but with the addition of a dumbbell in each hand. Barbell lunges are an even trickier customer, as you have to balance the bar across your upper back, which challenges your balance and control.
Stepping It Up
The challenge doesn't stop with weighted walking lunges. Holding a weight plate above your head makes for an even harder variation, while holding a dumbbell or kettlebell on one side puts you slightly off balance and can increase butt muscle activation of the weighted side. Just be sure to work both sides when doing this. Alternatively, trainer Ben Bruno of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning recommends the walking goblet lunge, performed in the same way but holding a dumbbell in front of your chest. For stronger individuals, Bruno also recommends wearing a weighted vest.
Your trailing leg only plays a minimal role on every step, so walking lunges work the muscles of your front leg much harder than stationary lunges, claims Tim Fritz in "Muscle & Fitness" magazine. To recruit your glutes even more, go for longer steps work rather than shorter ones, adds strength coach Christian Thibaudeau in "The Black Book of Training Secrets."
Does Running Make Women's Legs Muscular?
Running is an excellent cardiovascular workout that torches calories and burns fat, but when it comes to building muscle, a 30-minute run at a steady pace won’t do the trick. To tone legs running, you need to up the speed, intensity and resistance of your running workouts.
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise
You build muscle when you exercise in the anaerobic zone, which you achieve by incorporating short bursts of strenuous activity into your routine, notes Harvard Medical School. Incorporating speed work into your running routine, for example, builds leg muscle by tapping into the anaerobic zone, burning only carbohydrates for energy. Comparatively, running at a steady pace is an aerobic activity, meaning you’re strengthening your heart and burning fat and carbohydrates. Although running at a steady pace builds endurance and cardiovascular fitness, you won’t build leg muscle as quickly.
Muscles Used Running
Running engages the large muscle groups in your legs. Your hamstrings and calves are activated when your foot leaves the ground, as your ankle flexes toward your body, and you engage your quads when you extend your knee, according to ExRx.net. Your muscles are made up of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. You use slow-twitch muscles during low-intensity exercise and fast-twitch fibers to create bursts of power, notes Harvard Medical School. Your fast-twitch fibers churn out more power than slow-twitch fibers, but are more quickly exhausted. Sprinters have the appearance of more muscular legs because they engage the power-building, fast-twitch muscles, while distance runners have leaner legs because they engage slow-twitch, fat-burning muscles.
Hill and Interval Training
Hill training and interval training engage the fast-twitch fibers to build muscular legs. During hill training, you use your body weight as resistance to push up a hill, so your muscles are required to work harder. Hill training helps build muscular calves by forcing them to contract more quickly than they would on a flat surface, according to the Brian Mac website. A sample hill workout for middle-distance athletes would include eight to 10 repetitions of 150-meter hills. You can increase or decrease the distance of the hill based on your fitness level. Interval training -- incorporating short bursts of speed into your runs -- is also an effective way to engage fast-twitch fibers and sculpt muscular legs, according to the American Council on Exercise; pick up the pace every few minutes, then return to your usual speed.
Women and Muscle Building
Everyone responds to training differently, and some people build muscle faster than others. Your genes determine the types of muscle fibers you have and where they are distributed. This means certain body types may be predisposed to building leg muscle faster. However, after several months of resistance training in the anaerobic zone, most women will see a 20 to 40 percent increase in muscular strength, according to ACE.
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