Category Archives: Xtra Fitness

How to Get Fit

What can I do to get more fit?

Any type of regular, physical activity can improve your fitness and your health. The most important thing is that you keep moving!

Exercise should be a regular part of your day, like brushing your teeth, eating, and sleeping. It can be in gym class, joining a sports team, or working out on your own. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Stay positive and have fun. A good mental attitude is important. Find an activity that you think is fun. You are more likely to keep with it if you choose something you like. A lot of people find it’s more fun to exercise with someone else, so see if you can find a friend or family member to be active with you.
  • Take it one step at a time. Small changes can add up to better fitness. For example, walk or ride your bike to school or to a friend’s house instead of getting a ride. Get on or off the bus several blocks away and walk the rest of the way. Use the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator.
  • Get your heart pumping. Whatever you choose, make sure it includes aerobic activity that makes you breathe harder and increases your heart rate. This is the best type of exercise because it increases your fitness level and makes your heart and lungs work better. It also burns off body fat. Examples of aerobic activities are basketball, running, or swimming.
  • Don’t forget to warm up with some easy exercises or mild stretching before you do any physical activity. This warms your muscles up and may help protect against injury. Stretching makes your muscles and joints more flexible too. It is also important to stretch out after you exercise to cool down your muscles.

Your goal should be to do some type of exercise every day. It is best to do some kind of aerobic activity without stopping for at least 20 to 30 minutes each time. Do the activity as often as possible, but don’t exercise to the point of pain.

A healthy lifestyle

In addition to exercise, making just a few other changes in your life can help keep you healthy, such as

  • Watch less TV or spend less time playing computer or video games. (Use this time to exercise instead!) Or exercise while watching TV (for example, sit on the floor and do sit-ups and stretches; use hand weights; or use a stationary bike, treadmill, or stair climber).
  • Eat 3 healthy meals a day, including at least 4 servings of fruits, 5 servings of vegetables, and 4 servings of dairy products.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after any exercise (water is best but flavored sports drinks can be used if they do not contain a lot of sugar). This will help replace what you lose when you sweat.
  • Stop drinking or drink fewer regular soft drinks.
  • Eat less junk food and fast food. (They’re often full of fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar.)
  • Get 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or do drugs.

Making Fitness a Way of Life

Some school-aged children can’t wait to get home from school, stake out a place on the couch, and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening watching TV. Physical activity is just not on their radar screens, at least not by choice.

Stopping the Slippery Slope of Childhood Obesity:

Not surprisingly, children who fit this profile may be on a slippery slope to a life of obesity. There are a lot of them. Several years ago, when a group of children 6 to 12 years old participated in programs of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, only 50% of girls and 64% of boys could walk or run a mile in less than 10 minutes. If that same study were conducted today, when the obesity epidemic seems to be gaining momentum, those statistics might be even more troubling.

Making Exercise Into a Lifelong Habit:

During your child’s school-age years, your goal should be not only to get your child moving, but to turn exercise into a lifelong habit. There are plenty of opportunities for your child to keep active.

Getting Involved in Organized Sports:

In most communities, children in this age group can choose to get involved in a number of organized sports, including:

  • Little League
  • Youth soccer
  • A martial arts class
  • Community basketball
  • Hockey
  • Football leagues

Team sports are fun and the perfect fit for many children, and they can help them manage their weight.

But, Sports Aren’t For Everyone…

However, group activities like these aren’t for everyone. Some obese children feel self-conscious about participating in team sports and are much more comfortable getting their exercise in unstructured settings. For them, free play on the playground, ice skating, in-line skating, bowling, or even running through sprinklers is good exercise.

Let your child choose something that he finds enjoyable, and once he discovers it, encourage him to make it a regular part of life. At the same time, limit TV watching or time spent on the computer or playing video games to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day. Studies have shown that the more time children devote to watching TV, the more likely they are to consume foods like pizza, salty snacks, and soda that contribute to weight gain.

If Your Child Insists He Doesn’t Want to Do Any Physical Activity:

Explain that it’s important and might even be fun to find a new activity. Try to find activities that fit the family’s budget and time commitments and have him choose among several alternatives.

How to Involve Friends & Family in Fitness Activities:

Some children might prefer to go with a friend or parent. Be creative and emphasize participation, not competition. To help your school-aged youngster become physically active, recruit the entire family to participate. Let your overweight child know that all of you, parents and siblings alike, are in his corner, and even if he has rarely exercised before, he can start now with the entire family’s support.

  • Go for family bike rides (with everyone wearing a helmet)
  • Swim together at the Y
  • Take brisk walks
  • Learn to cross-country ski
  • Sign up for golf lessons
  • Do activities of daily living together, such as household chores
  • Spend a Saturday afternoon cleaning the house or raking leaves

No matter what you choose, regular activity not only burns calories, but also strengthens your child’s cardiovascular system, builds strong bones and muscles, and increases flexibility. It can also diffuse stress, help him learn teamwork and sportsmanship, boost his self-esteem, and improve his overall sense of well-being.

4 Week: Burn Fat, Build Muscle, 30 or 50 Minutes a Day

Welcome to Fitness Blender’s 4 Week FBsweat Program! This program is unlike any that we have done so far; each day you get to pick and customize the length of your workout depending on your own schedule & energy levels. If you’re pressed for time, complete the main workout, which includes everything you need for a great workout in roughly 30 minutes (similar to FB30). If you’ve got the extra time and energy, tackle the workout video under the “Extra Credit Challenge” for a total workout length of 45-60 minutes (similar to FBfit).

With FB Sweat, YOU get to pick the length of your workout session each day.

Save time & stress by taking the guesswork out of your fitness with this detailed, day-by-day plan that has everything you need for a smart, effective workout program. This detailed, day-by-day program uses Fitness Blender’s online workout videos to challenge & change your body fast with HIIT, strength training, circuit training, supersets, cardio, plyometrics, Pilates, and yoga. There are NO repeat workouts in this program – you’ll be doing a different workout video every single day. All you need is dumbbells.

This program is excellent for fat and weight loss but also great for increased lean muscle, drastic improvements in body tone, endurance, strength, & flexibility gains. We include a workout & clean eating guide to give you the essentials on how to properly nourish yourself during the program (please note, this is a general guide and not a meal plan).

These workouts are intense but the vast majority of fitness levels have been able to partake in these programs as you are encouraged to go at your own pace and modify whenever necessary – however, this is not a beginner workout program.

Important: Main workout lengths range between 25-36 minutes (30 minutes average), OR, 45-60 minutes (50 minutes average), five days a week with an optional recovery workout on the 6th day. Programs are available immediately after purchase under “My Purchased Programs” on your account page. Programs can be completed at any pace and can be repeated over and over again without any additional cost. Each program is a standalone plan – they can be completed in any order.

Use #FBsweat on social media to track your workout sessions, share your progress, find motivation, and connect with people around the world who are following this program.

Proceeds from programs help keep our workout videos & website free for everyone; thank you to everyone who has ever supported FB with a program purchase.

Please Note:

  • If you ever have any questions about accessing a purchased program, we are happy to help, email us at service@fitnessblender.com
  • Workout programs are available immediately after purchase and can be found on the “My Calendar” page under “My Purchased Programs”. To add the program to your online workout calendar: From “My Calendar” page, click on “My Purchased Programs” and select “Add to My Schedule” for the program you would like to add to your calendar. Select the date that you would like to start the program; your calendar will then be populated with your program, with each day’s workout video(s) waiting for you on each corresponding calendar date.
  • Programs you purchase have no expiration date and can be reused
  • Online calendar programs are 100% unique from our eBook/PDF programs (previous PDF programs do not crossover to the new calendar)

What’s the Best Butt Exercise?

Studies that have been done on electrical activity (EMG) of muscles in the butt show that two different exercises cause your glutes to grunt the hardest:

  1. Prone bent leg hip extension against manual resistance. Yep, that’s a mouthful. Basically, the move involves getting into a crawl position with hands and feet on the ground and then kicking out behind you with one leg – against a partner who is manually resisting your kicking force. Of course, you could also do this exercise against resistance such an elastic band, as I describe in the episode How to Tone Your Butt, but it’s not quite as effective as having a partner resist your kicking force.
  2. Standing butt squeezes with a wide stance and feet turned out. This one is a bit hard to describe, but I’m going to give you the description from one of my favorite butt-experts, Bret Contreras, who says:

“From a standing position, take a moderate to wide stance and flare the feet out slightly. Now squeeze the glutes as hard as possible for 30 seconds. Make ‘fists’ to increase the neural drive through irradiation. Just do this one time.”

10 Days to Melt Your Winter Waistline

Despite what you’ve probably been led to believe, churning away like a rat on a treadmill during the holiday season (or any other time of year for that matter) is really not the best way to burn fat. In fact, it can actually backfire and lead to the common cortisol and catabolic hormone release that accompanies excessive aerobic exercise – which winds up making you fatter!.

This can result in hormonal imbalances, fluid retention, overtraining, and injury. It’s why the folks who approach New Year’s fat loss by simply trying to stay on a mind-numbingly boring cardio machine for as long as possible are usually the folks who fail (and the ones you probably stop seeing at the gym by mid February).

But the good news is that you can embark on a 30-day rapid fat loss journey without sacrificing your health, body, or performance for the rest of the holiday season. And with the safe, healthy, and effective guide in this episode, you can melt your holiday belly in a fraction of the time it takes your over-exercising friends. Feel free to start this workout now, or save it for your official New Year’s routine!

10 Days to Rapid Fat Loss

The 30-day rapid fat loss guide below is split into three separate 10-day cycles – the first 10 days involve easy fasted fat burning sessions; the next 10 days will add slightly more difficult body weight training; and the final 10 days will round out the routine by adding high intensity intervals and weight training.

Ready? Roll up your sleeves, tighten your belt, and let’s jump right in:

Days 1-10: Burn

For the first 10 days, exercise is simple. There will be no hard or long exercise sessions. For many, this will be a practice in self-control and moderation, since most holiday exercisers are notorious for eating whatever they want, then trying to burn it off with excessive exercise. But days 1-10 of this plan are the exact opposite: limited exercise combined with sane, responsible, calorie control. The side benefit of this approach is that it will also give your body and gut a chance to rest, recover, and reboot.

For each of these 10 days, you will simply do a morning fasted fat burning session of 20-60 minutes. There’s no need to exceed an hour, but if you can get a little longer than 20 minutes, you’ll definitely get an added benefit. You get to choose the activity: light jogging, cycling, elliptical trainer, brisk walking or hiking, or any other type of easy exercise will suffice.

For intensity, you’ll want to be in your fat-burning zone, which occurs at 45-65% of your maximum heart rate, or about 20 beats below your lactate threshold heart rate. If you’ve had anaerobic or lactic acid threshold testing done in a lab or field, simply take that heart rate, subtract 20 beats, and you’re set. If not, simply do the following:

  • Warm up on a bike for 10 minutes.
  • Pedal at your maximum sustainable pace for 20 minutes. You should be breathing hard and your legs should be burning, but you should be able to maintain the same intensity for the full 20 minutes.
  • Record your average heart rate during those 20 minutes.
  • Subtract 20 beats from that heart rate. Add and subtract 3 beats from the resulting number to get a range, and that is your peak fat burning zone.

For example, if your average heart rate was 160, 160-20 is 140, 140+3 is 143, 140-3 is 147, and so your peak fat burning zone is when you have a heart rate of 137-143 beats per minute.

New Fat Burning Exercises

In the episode Top 10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight, I describe the SAID principle of exercise. SAID stands for Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands – and this means that our bodies eventually adapt to the demands we place upon them.

So if you’re doing the same workout routine or the same exercises week after week, or month after month, your body becomes very efficient at those exercises or that routine, and you no longer burn as many calories or get as good a fitness response from your efforts..

This is why I personally change up my routine every week and I recommend you introduce new fitness moves or change up your workouts at least once a month to get the biggest bang for your workout buck.

In today’s episode, you’ll get 5 brand new exercises that will burn fat fast, challenge your metabolism, and keep your workouts exciting.

You can view most of these exercises in my New Fat Burning Exercises video. Let’s jump right in!

New Fat Burning Exercise #1: ManMaker

The ManMaker (sorry ladies, I didn’t invent the title) is the only exercise in this episode that actually requires equipment – in this case a set of dumbbells. To do this exercise, get into a push-up position with one hand on either dumbbell, then do a push-up. Next, row with one dumbbell, then row with the other dumbbell. Stand quickly (also called a “clean”) and place both dumbbells on your shoulders, then do a front squat followed by an overhead press.

Return the dumbbells back to their starting position to complete that repetition and get ready for the next repetition. To maximize your results, choose a weight that makes it difficult for you to complete 10 repetitions of the ManMaker. Just 10 repetitions of this potent move can be used for a fast, 5 minute, full body, fat-burning workout!

New Fat Burning Exercise #2: Breakdance Push-up

This exercise will not only improve your core and upper body strength like a regular push-up, but also will also increase your agility and flexibility – and it doesn’t actually require you to be a professional breakdancer.

Start in a bridge position with your bellybutton facing the ceiling and your weight supported on your hands and feet. Then “flip” to one side or the other, keeping one leg off the ground, and do a push-up. Then “flip” again back to the bridge position. Here’s a great example of a breakdance push-up. Try 5 breakdance push-ups for each side.

The Hidden Ab Muscle That Will Get You a Six-Pack

As you learned in the episode 10 Flat Stomach Alternatives to Crunches, I’m not a huge fan of crunches. Not only do crunches burn a miniscule amount of calories and fat, but because they involve lying on your back and repeatedly bending and extending at the spine, they’re a big culprit when it comes to placing excessive strain directly on the portion of the low back that has the most nerves and is most susceptible to injury and fatigue..

So how can you maintain six-pack abs without doing crunches? One of the keys is a hidden ab muscle that you tend to hear very little about. In today’s episode, you’re going to learn exactly what that ab muscle is.

The Hidden Ab Muscle That Will Get You a Six-Pack

There is a muscle called the Transverse Abdominus that acts as a stabilizer to the middle part of your body. This muscle is actually located right behind your abdominal muscles.  If you’re not familiar with this muscle, you may want to sign up for the military, because military drill sergeants are very aware of how to make the Transverse Abdominus sore.  The reason drill sergeants love exercises that involve the Transverse Abdominus is because when this muscle is strong, your back and stomach are strong.  And if you want a strong stable core that helps six-pack abs form, this muscle must be strong.

As a matter of fact, I spoke with one of my military friends, seargant Michael Volkin, and he had this to say about the Transverse Abdominis:

“I have to admit, I was doing sit ups for most of my adult life, but when I reached 30 I realized that my ab muscles were getting harder to see. No matter what I ate (or didn’t eat) and no matter how many stomach exercises I did, my abdominal muscles kept slowly disappearing. Then, I did some research on the anatomy of the stomach muscles and found the Transverse Abdominus.  Ever since then, I am happy to say my stomach muscles are more prevalent than ever before. Not only that, my posture is better.”

So why did Michael find that this rarely mentioned ab muscle makes such a big difference? It’s primarily because the Transverse Abdominus is connected to your back, your ribs, and your pelvis.  In essence, it is the ultimate stabilizing muscle for your entire mid-section.

How to Get Rid of Muscle Soreness Fast

So what does a fitness guru do to bounce back as fast as possible from soreness (especially when he wants to enjoy a few good days on the Hawaiian beaches)? Here are the most effective methods I’ve been using lately (and here’s how to know whether you should actually feel sore after your workout):

  1. Hot-Cold Contrast Showers: These increase blood flow and help to shuttle inflammation out of muscle. Just take a 5 minute shower, and alternate between 20 seconds cold and 10 second hot. See also How to Use Cold Weather to Lose Weight.
  2. Curcumin: In high doses, this tasty ancient Indian spice is actually a potent anti-inflammatory. I take over a gram a day for several days after a really hard workout. I use a capsule, since using that much curry on food would be a bit much! And I definitely avoid ibuprofen – here’s why.
  3. Massage: Since it can be time consuming and expensive, I rarely go out of my way to hunt down a long sports massage. But after a very hard workout or race, I make an exception. Just one good massage can make an enormous difference, and is far more effective than a foam roller if you really, truly are beat up – (since a foam roller takes quite a bit of energy to use properly).

Best Full Body Exercises

In the episodes How To Lose Fat Quickly and How To Build Muscle, we learn that there is one distinct similarity between both fat-burning and muscle-building goals: They each require the use of full body, multiple-joint exercises that activate many muscles at the same time.

When it comes to full body exercises, some are more effective than others, so in this article, you’ll learn the 5 full body exercises that get you the most results in the shortest period of time. (Each exercise below links to a video demonstration of the movement.).

The Best Full Body Exercises

Full Body Exercise #1: Turkish Get-Up

I may be a fitness buff, but my history and geography skills aren’t quite up-to-par, so I’m not quite sure how of why this exercise is “Turkish.” But the “Get-Up” part is easy to understand once you’ve tried this move.

To complete a Turkish Get-Up, you lie on your side, with a dumbbell in one hand. The dumbbell should be held out at arm’s length. From this position, you simply stand, while keeping the dumbbell overhead at an arm’s length. This means you only have one arm and two legs to help you both stand and push the weight of that dumbbell up as you stand.

This exercise can be difficult to learn, but if you can do 3-4 sets of 5-10 Turkish Get-Ups per side, then you are probably in pretty good shape!

Full Body Exercise #2: Swing Squats

For this exercise, hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell down by your feet with one outstretched arm, then drop into a squat position with your butt pushed behind you, your back straight, and your heels firmly planted. Now, stand about halfway up as you begin to swing the dumbbell up, quickly reverse direction and drop down into a full squat position again, then powerfully stand as you swing the dumbbell overhead.

If you do this exercise as explosively as possible, which I highly recommend, you will find that your heart rate will get very high with just a few repetitions, making the swing squat both a cardiovascular and strength building exercise.

Full Body Exercise #3: Medicine Ball Slams

This is a great stress-relieving exercise, and also helps to build power and athleticism in the upper body, core, and legs. It is also a very easy full-body exercise to learn.

To do a medicine ball slam, you simply get a medicine ball (those big heavy balls you can often find in the corner of the gym), raise it overhead, then swing your arms down as you release the ball and slam it into the ground as hard as possible.

As you can imagine, this can be a loud exercise, so you may want to find a private area of the gym (like an empty group exercise room) and you will also need to be careful not to let the ball bounce back up and hit you in the face!

For an extra challenge, I sometimes finish a workout to complete exhaustion with 50-100 medicine ball slams.

Full Body Exercise #4: Burpees (also known as Squat-Thrust Jumps)

As an infamous exercise used by fitness bootcamp instructors, the burpee is one of those movements that you can love to hate. It will give you a full body workout in a matter of mere minutes, but also requires a great deal of focus and intensity.

Here’s how to do a burpee: from a standing position, squat down, put your hands on the ground, kick your legs out behind you, do a push-up (optional), then kick the legs back up into a squat position, stand and jump as you swing your arms overhead. If you’re an advanced exerciser or want to add even more “oomph” to this exercise, you can wear a weighted vest as you do your burpees.

Most burpee workouts involve doing a series of 10, 15, or 20 burpees as part of a full body weight training or body weight circuit, but you can do just 1-2 minutes of burpees in the morning as a fantastic metabolic booster to jumpstart your day!

New Equipment: Fitness Pro Favorites

Fitness professionals like their equipment—from “tried-and-true” to “oh, so new.” And equipment companies like to fill convention halls with fresh gear to help trainers and clients hit their goals. Of course, fitness pros also enjoy new gadgets for the pure thrill of them—and will sometimes go for equipment that targets a fun goal over a hypertrophy goal, for example.

We talk to trainers about their favorite tools and techniques and profile some of the most fascinating fitness products hitting the market this year.

All About the Wearables

Past years have seen breakout fitness equipment stars such as the Nintendo® Wii™, the Step®, the Pilates reformer, the TRX® Suspension Trainer™, the slide board and even the Shake Weight®. This year the star seems to be a category—wearable technology. While fitness trackers, pedometers, heart rate monitors and smartphones have been around for a while, the diversity of features and capabilities in this group is exploding.

Wrist-worn smartwatches and trackers have evolved into distinct “wearable” categories. And CNET now divides its favorite tracking devices into four discrete headings: best fitness tracker, best smartwatch, most stylish fitness watch and best GPS running watch (Stein & Graziano 2017).

It’s no longer enough to count your steps or measure your heart rate; today’s wearable trackers can correct your form, help you count reps, provide a fairly accurate caloric burn rate, stream notifications to you, recognize a new range of exercises (including yoga moves), detect motion on multiple axes, store freestyle exercises, deliver quantifiable strength data (for free weights, pulleys or even body weight) and send payment reminders. Even our language has evolved to keep pace. Ten years ago it wasn’t common to hear gym-goers discussing OLED touchscreen displays and motion sensor setups (gyroscope, magnetometer and accelerometer) that track movement in a 3-D space, much less understand what those terms meant, but now this kind of discussion happens in Facebook groups that appeal to fitness lovers.

Want some neurostimulation with your workout music? For about $700, you can get Halo Sport headphones that stimulate your motor cortex during athletic training. This increases the excitability of motor neurons, putting your brain into a “hyperplasticity/hyperlearning” state. In plainer terms, your headphones can potentially help you accelerate gains in “strength, explosiveness, endurance and muscle memory” (Fingas 2016).

Some trainers don’t want the bulkiness of headphones, so they prefer earbuds. Headphone specialist Jabra comes through with a headphone that has a heart rate tracker built into the part that goes in the inner ear. Want to calculate your VO2max while walking a mile? The earbuds can do that, plus sync up with your phone apps to offer voice-guided workouts. Or you can skip the app and get another Jabra model that has an automatic rep-counting mode, plus tracked and timed cross-training exercises built in (Sawh 2016).

Probably geared more toward personal trainers than group fitness leaders are two tech products that are not exactly wearable yet are closely aligned because they’re designed to touch the body. One is a phone-sized apparatus called the Skulpt® Chisel; when placed on different areas of the body, it measures body fat and muscle quality via a small current to both the muscle and its surrounding fat. The other is a muscle and joint pain-relief device from Omron® that attaches to the body via gel pads which provide heat and/or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.