5 Minute Tone Up Video

We want to bring you the best possible fitness experience, so we’re launching our new fitness video section.  Each week we’ll add a new 5 minute work out video to the blog so you can improve your fitness with a carefully balanced routine that will work your entire body.  In our 5 minute tone up video, you’ll work every single muscle group as hard as you can.

If you like our 5 minute tone up video, be sure to grab a free account at http://vytalz.com/join.php where you can find loads of workout routines and share your progress with your friends.

All you need to do for a Vytalz 5 minute workout is follow the instructions on screen and enjoy.  Make sure you have enough space to move around, and stretch out before you start to prevent any strains or other sporting injuries – the last thing you want to do is compromise your fitness regime with a pulled muscle because you didn’t warm up!

Enjoy this free 5 minute tone up video, and be sure to check back soon for more fitness tips, guides, exercise routines and weight loss information to help you hit your health and wellness goals.

 

 

The Best Workout for a Great Butt

Let’s be honest, we judge ourselves by the way we look, and most of us are pretty self conscious about our rears.  We all want a nice pert bottom that looks good and gives us more confidence when we’re out and about.  Traditional workouts can help to tone up your bum, but if you want real results, you need to work hard.  Here’s what we think is the best workout for a great butt – and best of all, it only takes 10 minutes each day!

The Best Workout For a Great Butt

The Best Workout For a Great Butt

Best Workout for a great butt

The chances are, you wont be able to bash this one out in full first time, so try hard, and build up to it.  When you’ve managed one full set, start working on building a second and a third in – you’ll find that this workout will give you some pretty fast toning, but the more you do it, the better it gets.  Enjoy the results of the best workout for a great butt!

  • 50 Squats
  • 30 Walking Lunges
  • 50 Kick Backs
  • 20 Jump Squats
  • 50 Bridges

When you’re doing the best workout for a great butt, be sure to concentrate on form.  Aim for the numbers, but don’t be ruled by them.  You will get better results doing 20 really good squats than you will from 100 bad ones.  Get things right, move smoothly, and relax into the workout, and you’ll soon find your glutes getting tighter and more defined.

Let us know how you get on with the best workout for a great butt.  Does it work for you, or do you have suggestions to make it even better – we love hearing your success stories!

 

How to do the Plank for Longer

The plank is a powerful exercise for developing core stability and strength.  A strong set of core muscles will help you in almost any other type of exercise including running and sport because it trains you to hold yourself in a more stable way.  You develop strength through the exercise because you are holding the muscle groups against gravity and in dynamic opposition with each other.  The plank can be difficult to do at first, but as you get into your stride, you’ll think about how to do the plank for longer in order to get more benefits.

How to do the plank for longer

How to do the plank for longer

There are two main components that impact on how to do the plank for longer.  The first is physical strength.  That part is pretty easy to train.  The more frequently you plank, the more basic strength you’ll get in your muscles, and the more physical stamina you’ll build for the exercise.

The second thing part of the question of how to do the plank for longer is the mental aspect.  This exercise HURTS.  You feel pain through your core muscle groups of abdominals and hip flexors that develops quickly and can make you quit.  Here’s our tips on how to train your mind to let you do the plank for longer:

Don’t look at your stop watch

Avoiding knowing the time lets you quit when you hit certain time milestones. Don’t look, just hold it for longer (but stop the clock when you finish so you can track your progress)

Divert your attention

If you’re not thinking about pain, you won’t allow yourself to dwell on it.  Place a book or magazine between your arms and focus on the words on the page.  You’ll have a very effective distraction.

Divert your attention 2

Listen to a piece of music.  Choose something inspiring that you enjoy, and lose yourself in it.  The average song lasts for more than 3 minutes – if you can hold it that long, you’re doing well.

Count downwards.  Slowly.

Counting down aims your attention at a specific goal (0), so you don’t have a choice about stopping.  Counting up is unlimited – you stop whenever, and make excuses that you’ve done enough.  Set your target and stick to it.  You’ll thank yourself later.

Every time you plank, you’ll get stronger.  It’s an exercise that really rewards commitment and training, and you’ll quickly feel the benefits in terms of strength, but also in terms of definition of your abs, and your waist size.

How much should you lift?

People have lots of different reasons for getting fit.  Some people want to be stronger, other people have specific objectives around sports or performance, others simply want to look great, while for others, the main objective is just to be stronger.  Of course, one of the big questions that you should ask about improving your strength is how much should you lift.

How much should you lift?

How much should you lift?

When a lot of people start strength training, their objectives are fairly fluid – simply to be able to lift more, and there is a lot of debate about exactly what your goals should be.  Ultimately strength is relative, and is also largely dependent on your size, because the amount of leverage that you have is always relative to your own body.

How Much Should you lift?

Different exercises use different muscle groups with different levels of strength – you can’t expect to be able to curl as much as you can squat, because the capacity of your leg muscles is much higher than your arms, so how much you should lift is entirely dependent on the type of exercise.

We’ve spoken to a number of fitness professionals to find out how much weight they consider to be representative of true strength as a ratio of body weight.  They suggested the following as targets to aim for as part of your strength training for key exercises:

Squats - Aim for 200% Body Weight as maximum weight to lift for squats

Dead Lifts - Aim for 200% Body Weight as maximum weight to lift for dead lifts

Bench Press - Aim for 150% body weight as maximum weight to bench press

Barbell Row - Aim for 150% body weight as a maximum weight for barbell row

Incline Press - Aim for 130% body weight as a maximum weight for the incline press

Bicep Curls - Aim for 50% body weight as a maximum weight for bicep curls

As an example, if you weigh 100KG, then you should aim for the following:

  • Squats – 200KG
  • Dead Lifts – 200KG
  • Bench Press – 150KG
  • Barbell Row – 150KG
  • Incline Press – 130KG
  • Bicep Curls – 50KG

It’s really important to remember that overall, you probably want to combine targets about how much you should lift with other elements of fitness such as endurance and weight loss in order to get the best overall results from your regime.

If you’re ready to start on a new fitness programme to improve strength and build up better fitness, check out our online personal trainer system Vytalz.com, in the meantime, why not tell us how much you can lift in the comments!

How to do the perfect push up

Push ups are one of the most effective body weight exercises for building strength int your arms and chest, but if you concentrate on your form, and think about how to do the perfect push up, then you will find that they actually provide a full body work-out for you,a nd give benefits to your whole core strength and posture.

How to do the perfect push up

How to do the perfect push up

How to do the perfect push up

As we said above, think first about form.  Work on technique and think about how to do the perfect push up throughout your whole work out.  You’ll find that a more efficient movement from start to finish will help you to do more repetitions, which in turn will burn more calories and give you better overall results.

Step 1: Kneel on the floor and bend forwards to put your hands on the ground.  You should start with your hands parallel and approximately shoulder wide.  This will ensure that you finish the exercise with your arms straight and vertical to maximise the range of movement.

Step 2:  Stretch out so that your body is straight. Legs should be roughly together,w ith your weigh resting primarily on your arms and balanced on your tip toes.  Your whole body should form a straight line from your shoulders down to your ankles. Hold this pose with your core muscles to ensure that they get worked out throughout the exercise.

Step 3:  As noted above, the whole point of learning how to do the perfect push up is to maximise the benefits that you get throughout your key muscle groups, so remember that all movement should be through the shoulders.  The rest of your muscles will naturally support and balance the strength development of your shoulders, chest and arms.

Step 4: Lower your body so that your arms bend just further than a right angle.  Don’t go too far down as this can hyperextend your elbows, but similarly, don’t go less than right angles, as this means that you won’t get full movement.

Step 5:  Hold the straight pose for a couple of seconds before driving back upwards with your arms.

Keep your core muscles tight, but not tense as you carry out the push up, and don’t bend your neck at all.

Here’s a video that demonstrates it really well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh00_rniF8E

Vytalz helps you concentrate on building overall strength and fitness through free body weight workouts.  Concentrating on form throughout your exercise routine will help with the benefits of every exercise that you do, and help you reach your fitness goals more quickly, as well as giving you better results and balance throughout your body.  Learning how to do the perfect push up is just one part of that process.

Finding a Yoga Class

In the US alone, more than 15 million people practice yoga, and this number is thought to be growing by around 20% each year.  Of course yoga is far more than just an exercise routine:  it’s a set of lifestyle changes aimed at improving mind and body condition, and includes multiple philosophies.

While it’s possible to do yoga pretty much anywhere on your own, it’s far more rewarding to join a group and enjoy your yoga with others.  Especially during the early stages of your yoga, having an instructor on hand will help you to develop better form and avoid injury, as well as helping to increase your versatility and range.

These days, most towns have more than one yoga group, and choosing between them can be quite hard.  Teachers tend to fall into different schools depending on their own preferences about what is important in their yoga.  Followers of more traditional forms of yoga may include more of the spiritual elements of the discipline into their classes, while modern dynamic styles may eschew this spirituality and focus almost entirely on the fitness elements of the yoga.

Attending a yoga school long term will benefit you, because your teacher will get to know your capabilities, and work with you to achieve your goals, however if the style and philosophy of the teacher aren’t the same as yours, then your sessions won’t be balanced with your own aspirations, and you won’t get as much out of it as perhaps you hoped.

There are always practical elements to choosing a yoga school – sometimes as mundane as the night when classes are offered, or the proximity of the school to your home, however if you really want to get the most out of it, it’s worth speaking to the different teachers in your area about what they focus on with their training.  Think about what you want yoga to give you, and tell the teachers, and they will tell you whether their school is for you, and be able to point you in the right direction if it isn’t.

Top 5 Exercise Myths

With a subject like fitness where there are lots of “experts”, but not many experts, there will always be a lot of disagreement about what’s right and what’s wrong.  There are so many myths about exercise and fitness – what works, what doesn’t, what happens – thatit can be really confusing.

Here’s 5 of the biggest exercise myths that have definitely been debunked:

Sit-ups / Crunches Get rid of Belly Fat

They don’t.  They help to condition and tone the underlying muscles, and they may help to give you a flatter stomach through tightening the area, however they’ll have a negligible impact on any subcutaneous fat.  To get rid of that, you need to eat a more sensible diet.

Steady Cardio Work is the Best Way to lose Weight

Lots of people think that running for miles on end is the best way to lose weight.  It isn’t if you want to lose weight through running, you need to smash out sprints like they’re going out of fashion.  Fartlek Running is much more efficient at helping you burn calories than just a steady pace.

Running on a Treadmill is Safer for Your Knees than Running on a Road

Ultimately, damage to your knees when running is done by your body weight crashing down through a joint many times over a period of time.  That’s going to happen whether you’re on the road or a treadmill.

Women Build Muscle Bulk if they Lift Heavy Weights

Without taking massive amounts of testosterone and vast protein supplements, women don’t get big just by lifting weights.  This misconception often means that women use 1KG weights in the gym for resistance for fear of becoming masculine.  Don’t worry, life weights that challenge you and you’ll get a better impact.

Stretching Before a Workout Prevents Injury

Actually, if the first thing you do when you walk into a gym is some extreme stretches, things are going to get bad pretty quickly.  If anything, stretching before you work out is going to do more harm than good.  What you should be doing is:

  • Warm up
  • Stretch
  • Lift
  • Stretch
  • Cool Down

Missing out on any of those steps is what increases your risk of injury.

Any More

What are your favourite (or least favourite) fitness myths?  Tell us below.

How to do crunches

Crunches have a number of advantages over traditional sit ups, especially when it comes to the stresses that they put on your spine when you do them.  If you kow how to do crunches properly, you’ll find that they isolate your abdominal muscles really well, and help to give you an enviable flat stomach and great muscle tone.

Here’s our guide on how to do crunches properly to maximise the impact while keeping your back safe.

Step 1

Start by lying on the floor, with your feet flat on the ground, and your knees bent:

 

Crunch Starting Position

Correct starting position for a crunch

Step 2

With your arms crossed against your chest, use only your abdominal muscles to curl your shoulders upwards a couple of inches of the ground.

Crunch finishing position

Middle position, with stomach tense

Step 3

Hold the position for a few seconds to work your abs hard, and then relax back into your starting position ready for the next repetition.

How many crunches do you do?

It’s not always necessary to do more and more of any exercise.  There are some people who proudly manage hundreds of crunches in their abdominal workout , and they generally have a great 6-pack to show off, but bear in mind that a fantastic body comes as a result of mixing workouts with a good diet.

Try to manage 3 sets of around 10-12 crunches as part of your workout.  If you find that this isn’t working your abs hard enough, try adding resistance – holding a weight across your chest will have a big impact on how hard your crunches are, and help you make big gains.

Leg Toning Exercises

A lot of people tend to neglect their legs at the gym: people concentrating on a fitness programme that’s aimed at either getting bigger or getting stronger, often see bigger gains in their upper body and focus on them.  If your goals are around balanced fitness and a better all around body, then leg toning exercises should definitely be a part of your routine.

leg toning exercisesWhen you’re planning a fitness routine to focus on your lower body, it’s important to include a range of different movements to ensure that you work all of the muscle groups equally and get a balanced workout.  Ideally, your leg toning exercises should work opposing muscle groups over the course of the session in order to give you a workout that delivers similar gains in all areas.

Use the following routine as a circuit, and do 5 sets in total, and concentrate heavily on getting a very smooth movement and great form throughout each repetition.  As you get more and more used to this routine, try holding weights to increase the effort, as this will really help to improve the impact of these leg toning exercises

  • 30 seconds sprinting
  • 10 x left leg lunges
  • 10 x right leg lunges
  • 10 x calf raises
  • 10 x deep squats
  • 5 x tuck jumps

When you’ve completed 5 sets of these leg toning exercises, be sure to stretch out fully to give your muscles the chance to relax after being worked hard.

How Much Water Do I Need When Exercising?

If you don’t keep your hydration levels up when exercising, your performance will suffer.  Without getting enough water into your body to replace the sweat you lose, you’ll struggle to get cool, and risk overheating which can be dangerous.

There’s a common myth that you need to drink 8 glasses of water each day, but in truth, it doesn’t appear that there’s ever been a proper scientific study that proves that 2 litres is in some way the magic number for everyone.

The amount of water you need when exercising depends on a number of different factors:

  • The type of exercise
  • Your weight
  • Your fitness level
  • The ambient temperature and humidity
  • What you’ve eaten that day

If you weigh 200KG and go running on a hot dry day, you need a lot more water to replace sweat and keep your body temperature stable than a 100KG person who is lifting weights in an air conditioned gym.

Thirsty?

In most cases, simply being thirsty is an indicator that you need to drink something.  Our bodies generally tell us pretty quickly that they need water – scientific studies suggest that the thirst response kicks in when our blood concentration increases by just 2-3%!

When you’re exercising, you need to drink enough water to replace the water that you’re losing from your system as sweat.  The hotter you get in your workout, the more you will sweat, and the more you will need to drink.

Ideally, you want to maintain a fairly even level of performance throughout your workout session, which means keeping your body hydrated at a consistent level.  Taking a 500ml bottle of water on your run and sipping regularly as you go should be fine for a run of up to an hour.  Any longer, and you might want to consider investing in a backpack, or a water belt to keep you going.