As you evaluate your best exercise options, a common question is which cardio machine is most effective. While there is no right answer to this question, there are certain considerations to evaluate.
The Upsides Of The Elliptical
The elliptical machine is one of the most effective cardio machines for exercisers who may deal with joint trouble. Because your feet do not leave the pedals, the elliptical provides low impact exercise. It is much less stressful on the entire body than running on a treadmill. Many elliptical devotees appreciate that certain types of elliptical machines have upper body handles that allow users to give their arms and upper body a good work out as well. The elliptical can provide versatility that other cardio machines cannot. When users switch from pedaling forward to pedaling backward, muscles that do not typically get a good workout from cardio machines are targeted, including calf and hamstring muscles.
Cautions About Using The Elliptical
To prevent injuries and have an effective workout, always maintain proper posture: shoulders back, head up and abs held tight. On the machine, it is important to look forward and avoid leaning on the machine’s handles, letting it support your body weight, because this decreases the work that your body does as well as the calories burned, in addition to leading to injuries. The pace and intensity of the elliptical is set by the person using it. This means that it is very easy to fail to maintain a constant speed, which can result in a workout that burns fewer calories than expected. Be aware that many ellipticals overestimate the amount of calories burned for a workout session. On average, most elliptical users burn about 600 calories per hour of use, but that can vary depending on the user’s weight and build, fitness level and intensity of their workouts.
Who Should Use The Elliptical?
The elliptical is a great machine for anyone who wants to increase their cardiovascular fitness and lose weight. It should be the choice for most exercisers who are just starting a fitness program, who may have injuries, who are older and who are overweight.
The Upsides To The Treadmill
Treadmills are favorites at most gyms because walking and running are motions that are familiar and comfortable. A treadmill offers exercisers an even surface, and is a safe and climate-controlled option. Because a treadmill’s speed is automated, a treadmill user does not have to worry about monitoring their pace the same way that an elliptical user must. Additionally, treadmills offer a variety of exercise options. From interval running to high incline walking, it is easy to create and follow many different workout plans from the comfort of your home or gym.
Cautions About Using The Treadmill
Treadmill surfaces are conditioned to reduce the stress of repeated impacts, but can still be a concern for people with a history of joint pain. Some people complain that the treadmill is boring because they are walking or running without actually going anywhere, and this can lead to lower motivation for regular exercise.
Who Should Use The Treadmill?
The treadmill is the best option for runners who are looking to train all year but who may be challenged by winter weather or who may want the safety of running indoors. Although it does not perfectly mimic a run outdoors or on a track, treadmill running is a great option for anyone training for running outdoors.
Using Both Machines In Your Workouts
It can be good for both your health to alternate between high and low impact means of exercise. This can keep joints healthier and prevent injuries that might result from repetitious movements. With either machine, caloric burn is affected by intensity of a person’s exercise
. Increasing the resistance on an elliptical will cause you to produce a great force, which increases calorie burn. Likewise, increasing the intensity of the treadmill will cause users to burn more calories, not only during the workout but also throughout recovery time.
The cold weather is gone and spring is finally here. As temperatures start rising, many people are excited to leave the house and spend more leisure time outdoors. The sidewalks and greenways start filling up with folks who are eager to stretch their legs on a walk or run, and parks become busier than they have been in months.
Outdoor activity and exercise has significant benefits that can be major motivators for people who are looking for variety in their workouts. It can provide unique mental stimulation with the constantly changing scenery and terrain throughout each workout. An added bonus is that exercising outdoors provides you with direct access to vitamin D from the sun, which not only can improve your mood, but also helps calcium absorption within your bones.
Raleigh is recognized as a healthy and active city that features a number of easily accessible outdoor activities, truly offering something for everyone. Residents’ favorites include some of the following:
Tennis. Raleigh Parks & Recreation has made more than 100 courts at 25 locations available for public use. Some of these facilities also include practice backboards, as well as opportunities for lessons and clinics, leagues, ladders, match play and USTA Junior Team Tennis. These courts provide space for competitive and recreational play, as well as an opportunity to enjoy exercising in a great outdoor environment.
Swimming. The city of Raleigh offers 8 pools throughout the city, with three pools open year round. In addition to providing the pool facilities, the city also offers a wide range of aquatics programs, including lessons, birthday parties, open and lap swim, a city swim team, and a wading and spray pool for young guests. Swimming is a great way for entire families to stay active and cool all summer long. There is an activity or program available for everyone and a fun program at the pool is certainly something that hardly feels like exercise, which makes it a great option for many people.
Running. Few cities have the extensive greenway system that Raleigh does. This network of public open spaces and recreational trails was created specifically for joggers, hikers, and anyone who simply wants a designated place to have fun outside. More than 88 miles of trails in a 3,700 acre (and growing) greenway system currently exist and are available to the public, with trail entrances and exits throughout the city to make access easily available. These greenways make it easy for beginning and advanced runners alike to have a designated space in which to not only exercise but enjoy beautiful Raleigh.
Cycling. Like runners, cyclists in the Raleigh area enjoy a number of biking trails, including the greenways, and many roads feature designated bike lanes as well. There is great availability for a variety of lengths of bike rides on the greenways and trails, which makes it appealing for all levels of riders. Additionally, for mountain bikers, there are nearby parks with more rugged trails and terrain. Whether you are a mountain or road biker, great resources are available, and allow you to get outside and enjoy the weather and the chance to be active.
Outdoor fitness meet-ups.
Many people in Raleigh organize and participate in a variety of fitness meet-ups:
gatherings of people with shared interests or goals who enjoy getting to know new people through their favorite outdoor activities. These groups engage in a wide range of activities from hiking to co-ed pick-up soccer, to standup paddle boarding, as well as a variety of other groups. Outdoor meetups are easily accessible online and take great advantage of the free and outdoor public spaces that Raleigh has to offer. They encourage participants to be active all while enjoying their city and getting to know the people in it.
Although many people sheepishly admit that they do not stretch properly or as often as they should, especially before and after exercise, stretching is a very important part of anyone’s healthy living routine. Whether or not you stretch with a work out, or you simply like to loosen up your muscles, stretching has important and unique benefits, including:
- Increased blood flow to your muscles
- A healthy elevation in your heart rate
- Coordination of your breathing and other key physiological functions that allow your body to work more efficiently
Incorporating stretching into your regular workout can add an entirely new dimension to your fitness, and can have very positive results. Stretching improves your muscle development by enabling you to move more effectively through an entire range of motion, which leads to the development and building of full and long muscles, not muscles that are short and stunted.
It can also reduce injury by gradually elongating the muscle in a manner that limbers up the muscles and tendons, preventing tears. Stretching can be an important part of your warm up, because it encourages blood flow to the muscles, as well as providing them with an oxygen supply and nutrients. Be careful, however, that you are not stretching completely cold muscles. As a warm up, proper stretching should follow 10 minutes of light jogging, biking or walking.
As you stretch, focus on major muscle groups, specifically your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Then shift your focus to stretching the smaller groups of muscles that you use routinely. Stretch symmetrically, meaning that if you stretch your left hamstring, stretch your right one for the same amount of time and with the same intensity and pressure.
As you stretch, incorporate gentle movement, and do not bounce through your stretches. Bouncing can cause small tears in the muscle and leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. This will cause the muscle to tighten. You are much better off to hold your stretch for 30 seconds and perform stretches that include some movement but which will not be jarring to or hard on your muscles. Do not to aim for pain, but look for tension that helps you gauge and increase your flexibility.
If you are stretching in anticipation of a specific sport or activity, make your stretches specific to that activity. For example, soccer players need to pay special attention to their hamstrings, which they rely heavily on. Whatever it is that you are doing, you will perform more effectively and your body will respond well when it is conditioned properly through stretching.
One of the most appealing things about stretching is that it can be done anywhere, at any time. You can find time to work in a good stretching session around your regularly occurring activities. Some suggestions include as you watch television (or even just during commercial breaks), as you read or study, and in any scenario where you would otherwise be sitting down to accomplish a task. Stretching first thing in the morning can be a helpful way to get your blood flowing and to wake you up, but can also be a relaxing routine before bed each evening.
A good goal is to aim for two or three good stretching sessions each week. Stretching regularly is important, because it keeps you flexible, and your ability to stretch more effectively increases. If you only stretch sporadically, you lose a lot of the benefit that you would otherwise have. Like other forms of exercise, your flexibility and stretching improves with the regularity and frequency that it is performed.
Earning your personal training certification can be a very important stepping stone on your career path, as well as an exciting personal achievement that can take your own fitness goals to an entirely new level. Whatever your reason for pursuing your personal training certification, there are a few important things to remember in making your decision to become certified.
Choose a respected and accredited certification program. There are a number of programs that offer certifications and each will have different qualities that appeal to you. One of the essential things to consider when choosing a program is what you are planning to do with your new skill. If you have a specific gym or facility where you want to work, check with them as to their preference for certifications. Some gyms will want trainers that have achieved a certain certification while others simply require that you simply be certified. Do some intensive research to help you learn the differences between programs, then make your choice based on what fits your needs, future plans, schedule and budget.
Research course requirements before making any payments. This might seem like common sense, but it is important before you pay any program costs to make sure that you meet the requirements of your selected program. Most programs require participants to be 18 years or older and to have a high school diploma (or equivalent certification). There are requirements, however, that are unique to each program, and those need to be considered. Some might require CPR certifications or a certain amount of industry experience. Be sure that you are eligible for whatever program you choose.
If offered, attend the live courses. Although live courses often come at an additional cost, many certified personal trainers state that attending those courses is well worth the money charged. They are typically taught by program instructors who have great knowledge of the course and exam. Live courses are valuable for the overview they give, as well as the insight and helpful hints that instructors can offer. Some programs offer additional and very helpful study materials that can only be obtained at the live courses. Of course, every person has to study and prepare in a way that works for them and their individual needs, but it is important to seriously consider live courses if they are offered.
Consider your timeframe. Different certifications offer different timeframes from the time that you sign up for your exam to the actual time you take it. If you feel like certification is more of a “slow-and-steady,” long-term goal, be sure you do not sign up for a course that limits the amount of time you have to study and sit for your exam. As you determine your timeframe, consider the intensity of your program, your schedule (Are you working? In school?), what your educational background is (this might be more difficult if you do not have any sort of exercise science background), and what your learning style is.
Memorize, then apply. Because personal training is an interactive experience, the test will not only ask you important facts and information, but will test you on your ability to apply the material you have learned. It is important to have a strong foundation of knowledge, but it is just as important that you recognize that the test won’t be a regurgitation of information. Rather, it will be a test of application. Some certified trainers suggest that as you study certain motions, acting them out for practice will help you better apply the information you are learning, much better than simply reading it could.
Read the fine print for your certification. There are a variety of miscellaneous things that should also be considered as you pursue your certification. Look into the exam retake policies if you are concerned that you might need to take the exam more than once. Some programs put time limits on exam retakes, others impose fees and some may not give you the chance to retake the exam without going through the entire certification again. Look at the lifetime of the certification you select. While many only last two years, there are some programs that last up to four. Because this is a big time and financial commitment, it is very important that you select the certification program that most closely aligns with your goals and personal needs.
Receiving your personal training certification is exciting, and when carefully thought through and done properly, can be an extremely rewarding accomplishment. Good luck!
There is a good reason that your mom always used to tell you to eat breakfast. Think of the word itself – this is the meal that is breaking the fast that you have been on since going to bed the night before. Breakfast is crucial to getting your metabolism up and running efficiently each morning. It has been shown that regular, healthy breakfast eaters generally weigh less, are in overall better moods, and perform better at work or in school.
Breakfast is the perfect opportunity to get some of the essential nutrients that your body needs to operate most effectively. One of the most important parts of creating a good breakfast is including fiber, protein, omega-3s and sources of good cholesterol. The following tips will help you ensure that you are getting the correct nutrients and foods in your breakfast:
- Opt for low sugar, high fiber, minimally processed breakfast grains. These include 100 percent whole wheat or grain breads, English muffins, tortillas or bagels. Look for grain products that are high in fiber. For instance, steel cut oatmeal has 8 grams of soluble fiber, which is twice as much as instant rolled oats. In addition, be aware of the nutritional facts of the cereal that you select. While many boxes may indicate that a cereal is “healthy,” it is important to choose cereals that are low in sugar, and high in fiber and whole grains.
- Add protein. Consuming proper amounts of protein is essential for maintaining your calorie-burning muscles. There are many great sources of protein-rich breakfast foods: eggs, egg whites, low-fat breakfast meat, Greek yogurt, cheese, milk, and protein shakes or smoothies. There are great vegetarian options as well, including tofu, soy yogurt and milk, and almond milk. Adding protein sets the tone for a day of healthy eating and helps you feel full longer.
- Find sources of “good” fats. Omega-3s are good fats for your brain. While fish are often considered the best source of fatty acids, flax seeds have the highest concentration of omega-3s. Flax seeds can be added to cereal, smoothies, spreads for toast – anything really. It is important, however, to make sure that you choose ground flax; your body cannot break down flax seeds that are still in their casings.
- Look for “good” cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered good cholesterol and is thought to improve connections between nerves and the brain. Foods like eggs, yogurt and nuts are all sources of HDL and can be excellent foundations for your meal.
You might be thinking that this is all well and good but the problem is that you simply don’t have time for breakfast – your mornings are rushed as it already is, right? Using the information above, you can create these easy breakfasts packed with nutrients and sure to give you the energy you need all day:
- Yogurt parfait to go. Layer berries, Greek yogurt and nuts in a to-go container that can accompany you on your commute or be eaten on the go. You can make this the night before – just leave the nuts out till you are ready to eat to prevent them from getting soggy. For added health, consider mixing in chia seeds or ground flax.
- Whole wheat toast with peanut or almond butter. This easy meal includes important fiber from the whole grains and protein from the nut butter. It can be made quickly, is portable, and if you need something sweet, slicing a banana on top of it adds extra nutrition and a daily fruit serving.
- Homemade breakfast sandwiches. Instead of driving through a fast-food establishment for your morning meal, make your own sandwich on a whole wheat English muffin with eggs, low-fat cheese, reduced- or low-fat breakfast meat like ham or sausage, and tomatoes or avocados for added, fresh nutrition.
Fruit smoothies. These portable breakfasts can be easily tailored to anyone’s personal preference. Blend any combination of favorite frozen fruit with ice and water, a little fruit juice, or milk. Increase your smoothie’s nutrition content by adding in protein powder, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, ground flax or even some greens in the form of kale and spinach.
Summer is near and, with the hot weather approaching, it’ll be more difficult to exercise outdoors. Instead, there is a great fat burning, cardio vascular activity called Plyometrics that can easily be done indoors. With its many health benefits, Plyos can really help you take your training to the next level! Here at Rapid Fitness, we have plenty of equipment that will help you maximize your training and get you into the best shape of your life!!!
Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training that is designed to produce fast, powerful movements and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving athletic performance. Plyometric exercises may also be referred to as explosive exercises.   Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity and innervation of muscle and surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal. Plyometrics is used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, providing explosiveness for a variety of sport-specific activities. Plyometrics has been shown to be beneficial to a variety of athletes. Benefits range from injury prevention, power development and sprint performance, amongst others.
For more information, or to learn how you can incorporate Plyometrics into your fitness regiment, visit our knowledgeable staff and personal trainers at Rapid Fitness today!
Did you know that more than 100 studies found that aerobic and resistance training are essential for maintaining cognitive health in old age? Regular exercise can prevent age-related hippocampus degeneration, or shrinking of the brain, which is often responsible for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression and poor memory.
Exercise encourages your brain to work at its optimum capacity, providing your body with a greater production of nerve-protecting compounds, improved development and survival of neurons, greater flow to your brain and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. To keep your brain healthy, make exercise a regular part of your life. We recommend trying different activities since each type of exercise and training offers unique benefits for your brain health. For example, you may choose to incorporate moderate-intensity exercise and high-intensity interval training, as discussed in our last article.
For help finding an exercise regimen that best suits you, take advantage of the complimentary Fitness Evaluation we offer members at Rapid Fitness. With help from our knowledgeable staff, personal trainers and guided Group Fitness classes, we’ll get you on the road to better health.
High-intensity interval training refers to short, repeated bursts of strenuous activity in between rest periods, rather than conventional, longer and more consistent training. This method of training is an excellent strategy for several reasons: it will benefit your overall health, boost weight loss, improve your muscle tone and even improve your blood sugar. Rather than long-duration workouts, you can get the same fitness benefits from working out for a short session of 20 minutes. Using this method two or three times a week, you’ll be able to achieve your fitness goals much faster and improve your insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. According to a recent study by a Canadian research team, people with full-blown Type 2 diabetes were able to improve their blood sugar regulation significantly over 24 hours, after just one interval training session.
As always, it’s all about the effort you put in to your workout. Intensity is key with this form of training. Push yourself! While you may need to slowly work yourself up to this point, you will see optimal results from vigorous bursts of activity in between periods of rests. If you need some help getting started, we urge you to take advantage of the complimentary Fitness Evaluation we offer to members at Rapid Fitness. This hour-long session is geared on finding out how we can help you reach your fitness goals. With the help of our great staff, personal trainers and guided Group Fitness classes, we’ll get you looking and feeling your best!
Reader Question: How Do I Start an Exercise Program?
The biggest challenge may be changing your lifestyle.
By Elizabeth Quinn,
"I’d like to start an exercise program, but where do I begin?"
Making the personal decision to begin exercise is the first step. Committing to making it a priority in your life is the next.
Often, the biggest challenge you will face is changing your lifestyle. Many of us have created bad habits over the years and changing these habits requires a committed effort to consciously recognize and alter some of these patterns. Ultimately, you need to change both your internal beliefs and your external environment to step up for success.
It takes time to develop new habits, so a positive, forgiving attitude is essential. You will not become an athlete overnight, but by slowly changing your internal dialogue and external situation, you will find a new lifestyle that encourages fitness.
Begin by checking with your doctor to ensure that you can safely exercise without restrictions. Once you have the OK, surround yourself with supportive people and role models. Having a support system is crucial in starting a workout program. Accountability and motivation are very important to success. Ask those who are active how they’ve set up their lifestyle to support activity. You will learn a lot from those who are doing what you want to do.
You might also consider several sessions with a qualified personal trainer to learn what to do to reach your fitness goals. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to stay active. Find something that works for you, whether it’s riding your bike to work, walking after dinner, joining a sports league, exercising while watching TV or training for a marathon. There are so many options and, sometimes, we don’t realize how life provides many opportunities to be active – we just have to recognize them.
Physical health is often the last item on the daily agenda in trying to balance school, jobs, relationships and all of the other demands of your daily life. However, if you make physical fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle a priority, you will find more energy and enthusiasm for the other areas of your life.
Ideally, your exercise routine should be goal-oriented, especially for those who are starting an exercise routine for the first time. Your goal must be realistic relative to your starting point, and measurable in a way that you will see your progress.
At Rapid Fitness, we offer each member a complimentary Fitness Evaluation. It’s an hour-long session that is geared on finding out how we can help you reach your goals, getting you past that dreaded "plateau" and on to looking and feeling the best you ever have felt.
We have structured personal training guidelines to keep track of your progress to make sure we are maximizing your time here. When starting off, it can be overwhelming, but with the help of our great staff, personal trainers, and guided Group Fitness classes, we are designed to help everyone at every level.
Whether you are a new or existing member, we are always here to help!
Here are 4 GREAT tips on getting those 6 pack abs you want right in time for the beach! Happy Reading!
TARGET ALL FOUR ABDOMINAL MUSCLE GROUPS
One mistake many people make is to only work one or two sections of their abdominal muscles. There are FOUR layers of muscles in your abs! You need to work each layer/muscle group to effectively tone your abs.
- Rectus Abdominis – This is the “six pack” muscle. This paired muscle runs from the front of your ribs down to your pelvis. This the muscle referred to when people say “upper abs” or “lower abs”, but it is actually one big muscle – of which different areas can be targeted. Typical “ab workouts” usually focus on this muscle.
- External Oblique – The external obliques are the muscles that run along the sides of your ribcage, on each side of the rectus abdominis. The external oblique muscles allow the trunk to twist – contracting one of your external obliques twists your body to the opposite side. For example, contracting the right external oblique will turn the body to the left.
- Internal Oblique – Your internal obliques are located just inside your hip bones – just below the external obliques. They work in the exact opposite way as the external oblique muscles. When you do a twisting motion, one externaloblique contracts while the opposite side’sinternal oblique contracts. For example, twisting or crunching the trunk to the left requires the left internal oblique and the right external oblique to contract together.
- Transverse Abdominis – The transverse abdominis is the deepest abdominal muscle layer. The muscle reaches from each side of your lower abdomen towards the middle. It is primarily responsible for stabilizing your trunk and maintaining internal abdominal pressure. This muscle is especially worked when you do stabilization exercises like planks or other similar ab exercises.
VARY YOUR AB ROUTINE
In addition to working all four layers of your abs, you also need to change up your ab routine so that your muscles are continually being challenged. If you do the exact same ab exercises for weeks on end, your muscles will adapt and plateau – and you will miss out on some of the benefits of your training program.
QUALITY VS. QUANTITY
Have you ever heard someone brag about how they do 800 crunches/situps every day? You do not need to doanywhere near hundreds of reps! You will actually seebetter results by doing fewer repetitions of the right exercises with correct form.
When it comes to number of reps when weight training, the same rules apply to ab workouts. For longer, leaner muscle, you should do more reps (we’re talking sets of 12, 20, or sets of 30 seconds… not sets of 800!), and for building size (and deeper cuts), you should do fewer reps with more weight resistance (ie: sets of 5 or 8). An exception to this rule is for stability exercises, such as planks, where you will hold a single position for anywhere from 20 seconds to a couple of minutes.
And, just like other muscle groups, you shouldn’t train your abdominal muscles every day – which brings me to my next point:
TAKE TIME TO RECOVER
Your ab muscles are just like any other muscle – they need to be worked hard, and then given adequate time to rebuild and recover before then next workout. Depending on how hard your muscles are worked – as well as whether you are focusing on strength or endurance – you will need anywhere from 36 hours to 2 or 3 days recovery time between workouts.
We have Great Personal Training specials going on this week too, so if you would like to setup a free session just see any Rapid Fitness employee and we will be happy to schedule yours today!!!!!!!!