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Simple Yoga to Improve Your Fitness

You lift, run, and do cross-fit – but what about yoga? Not for me, you say? Well have you considered that incorporating yoga into your fitness routine has the following benefits:

  1. Improves flexibility
  2. Builds muscle strength
  3. Improves your posture
  4. Prevents cartilage and joint break down
  5. Protects your spine
  6. Improves bone health
  7. Increases blood flow
  8. Drains your lymphs and boosts your immunity
  9. Increases your heart rate
  10. Lowers your blood pressure

Interested? Good.

What Is Yoga?

First, yoga is not stretching. Most yoga postures are a series of focused isometric contractions coupled with specific breathing patterns that yield gains in flexibility, mobility, and strength.

Anyone can start yoga, and if already training it can greatly benefit your overall fitness results. Even more, you do not need to dedicate all your fitness time to yoga  to get the benefits. You can incorporate yoga into your routine any day, and even on rest days, using dozens of variations and preparatory poses that can meet you where you are at, regardless of age, injury, or athletic goal.

A Routine Anyone Can Follow

You can bring yoga into your routine anytime. However, in order to utilize yoga postures for the purpose of gaining strength and increasing performance, practice them after your training session so that your body has at least 24 hours to recover from the poses. While restorative, yoga is still a very intense physical practice and your body, especially your nervous system, needs time to recover from it.

Recommended Routine For Strength Training

After your workout, or on rest days (if resting at least two days), find a good spot with room to perform the asanas (poses), and hold each for 30 seconds. Rest, and repeat for a total of five cycles. Remember to keep your breathing steady throughout the poses.
  1. ChairChair yoga Pose
  2. Warrior IIWarrior II posture
  3. Warrior III – this is especially good to increase balance and strengthen legsYoga Pose Warrior 3
  4. Extended triangle – uses blocks as needed – strengthen legs, abs, especially lateralsYoga Extended Triangle Pose
  5. Extended side angle – uses blocks as needed – strengthen legs, abs, especially lateralsExtended Side Angle Pose
  6. Plank – whatever variation works – abs, arms and shouldersDolphin Plank yoga pose
  7. Downward dog – lower back, arms and shouldersYoga pose downward-facing dog
  8. Sphinx – lower back and counteracts the downward dogSphinx yoga pose

As with all fitness routes, you might need to invest in some basic equipment to help out such as yoga mats, blocks, or straps.

 

CoreTek Fitness always stresses: consider your medical condition and check with a physician if you are concerned about the impact of any fitness program.
Try this basic routine, or go online and build your own. There are plenty of qualified sources you can study to create a yoga program that fits your needs. The goal is to improve your fitness, and that means doing what is best for you. Yoga, if properly incorporated, is one of many ways to achieve your goals.
-Train hard!

Intermittent Fasting

You’ve been working hard in the gym. Lifting smart, training hard, and trying to keep your diet on track – yet those pounds are not coming off and those muscles are not showing up the way you want. If this is you, you’re not alone.

What do you do? You start looking for how to lose that extra fat without sacrificing your hard earned muscle, and you find references to intermittent fasting all over the internet. Drop pounds, loose weight, preserve muscle, and all the other aspects are there – and yet, despite so much published on the topic, there still seems to be a good deal of confusion on what this is, how and why it works, and how to do it.

CoreTek Fitness understands the confusion – and as always, we want to give you sound and clear advice to support your goals and see you achieve your fitness potential. So buckle up, as we are about to give you the scoop on intermittent fasting.

Let’s start with the science:

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.

Intermittent fasting works by working with the body’s natural physiological and chemical responses to being in either a fed or fasted state. Also, think of your body as having two tanks of fuel – primary and reserve. The primary is from the food you eat; the reserve is fat.

Your body is in the fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. The fed state starts when you begin eating and for most people lasts for three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs nutrients from this food. When you are in the fed state, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high. Or simply, your body never needs to touch the reserve tank, because the primary tank is always full.

After that digestion and absorption period, your body goes into what is known as the post–absorptive state – simply put, your body isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal. Only after this, does your body enter the fasted state. At this point, for energy, you body is turning to that reserve tank – fat – for its energy source.

In this fasted state, your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.

If you consider most people’s meal schedule, and that we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing anything in their diet or exercise routine. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

Moreover, a study by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) suggests that intermittent fasting could be the key to longevity.

A group of scientists from the NIA, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana found that increasing time between meals improved the overall health of male mice and lengthened their lives compared to mice that ate more frequently. Health benefits were seen regardless of what the mice ate or how many calories they consumed.

Another study by the Longevity Institute in 2015, also conducted with mice, found that four days of a diet that mimicked fasting extended lifespans, lowered visceral fat, reduced cancer incidence and rejuvenated the immune system. The study later saw similar reductions in disease risk factors in humans.

How to Conduct Intermittent Fasting:

As you can tell by now, the goal of intermittent fasting is to get your body to go at least 12 hours without food, and then have to exert some level of energy. Whether this is your normal job, house errands, or working out – you need to burn energy in this state. There is no one specific ratio everyone needs to follow – you will need to do what is best for you. Above all, remember that fasting offers infinite flexibility. You can fast for as long or short as you like, but here are some popular regimens. Generally, shorter fasts are done more frequently.

16:8: This involves daily fasting for 16 hours. Sometimes this is also referred to as an 8-hour eating ‘window’. You eat all your meals within an 8-hour time period and fast for the remaining 16 hours. Generally, this is done daily or almost daily.

For example, you may eat all your meals within the time period of 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. Generally, this means skipping breakfast. You generally eat two or three meals within this 8-hour period.

20:4: This involves a 4-hour eating window and a 20-hour fast. For example, you might eat between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm every day and fast for the other 20 hours. Generally, this would involve eating either one meal or two smaller meals within this period.

Key Points to Remember When Fasting:

  1. Listen to your body – if you are feeling tired, sluggish, not well, hungry, etc – then eat! Yes, there is going to be an adjustment period to any fasting schedule you will need to push through, but we are not talking about this. If your body is giving off alarms – break the fast!
  2. You will maximize the your body’s use of fat by exercising fasted. This is when your body will need the most fuel for exercise and recovery.
  3. You still need to consume your full macronutrient balanced calorie levels. As we said, intermittent fasting is about when to eat, not what to eat. So if you need 2,400 calories a day, then you still need 2,400 calories a day – you just have less time to consume it.

Who should NOT fast?

You should not fast if you are:

  • Underweight (BMI < 18.5)
  • Pregnant – you need extra nutrients for your child.
  • Breastfeeding – you need extra nutrients for your child.
  • A child under 18 – you need extra nutrients to grow.

You can fast, but may need supervision, under these conditions:

  • If you have diabetes mellitus – type 1 or type 2.
  • If you take prescription medication.
  • If you have gout or high uric acid.

Commonly asked questions for those interested in trying intermittent fasting:

Will fasting burn muscle?

No. During fasting, the body first breaks down glycogen into glucose for energy. After that, the body increases fat breakdown to provide energy. Excess amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are also used for energy, but the body does not burn its own muscle for fuel.

Isn’t it important to have breakfast every morning?

No, it’s not. This is an old misconception based on speculation and statistics, and it does not hold up when it’s tested. Skipping your morning meal just gives your body more time to burn fat for energy. Since hunger is lowest in the morning, it is often easiest to skip it and break your fast later in the day.

Isn’t fasting the same as reducing calories?

No. Not at all. Fasting reduces the time you spend eating and addresses the question of ‘when to eat’. Calorie reduction addresses the question of ‘what to eat’. They are separate issues and should not be confused with each other.

So there you have it – intermittent fasting. It’s really that simple. Will it work? Most likely, yes. Will you see amazing weight loss? As CoreTek points out with all of its advice – every body is different. How well you respond will depend on your body, your workouts, your overall diet, etc. You will never out-train, or out-fast a bad diet and excessive caloric intake.

What we do recommend is do your research on this, as you should before starting any exercise or meal management program – we have additional reading recommendations below. And ease into it. You do not have to fast every day to start. Try 2-3 days a week for 2-3 weeks. If you are able, add more days. Remember, this is about what works for you. Realistically, it will take about a month for you to have a fair assessment of how the program is affecting your fat loss. And always, if you have medical issues, seek a physician’s advice first!

The Pre-Workout Drink Dilemma

We have all heard it, either from your buddy at the gym, fitness crazy co-worker, or countless online videos – you should have a pre-workout drink before you work out. So if you are hearing it this much, it must be true, right? I mean you want gains and improvement, so this is what you do, or don’t you?

As a gym-guy, and certified trainer, I’ve heard this all too, and been asked by clients. So let me give you the answer up front – NO, you do not.

But wait, you say, I want to see results from the gym, don’t I need this? Again, I offer a simple answer – NO.

Humans have been exercising long before science and fitness companies came up with pre-workout drinks, and we seem to have produced plenty of well trained and in shape athletes. So if that is the case, why the hype around this mythical wonder drink, and should you take them?

Let’s start with the science:

Most pre-workout formulas contain some level of caffeine or a caffeine-like stimulant. There is a reason for that. Several studies have shown that taking caffeine can provide a physical boost before a workout. A 2012 study in the Journal of Strength Conditioning and Resistance found that men who took caffeine supplements could lift greater weights compared with those using a placebo. Other studies indicate those that rely on increased cardio output can increase their aerobic capacity with a dose of caffeine. However, studies have also shown the benefits of caffeine decrease as an individual develops a tolerance.

Pre-workout drinks and supplements also likely contain creatine, which assists in energy production in muscle cells. It does this by creating a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle contractions. According to a 2003 study, creatine supplementation during training has been reported to promote significantly greater gains in strength, fat free mass, and performance primarily of high intensity exercise tasks.

Other common pre-workout ingredients include the B vitamin niacin, which can cause sweatiness and blood flow to the skin, and vasodilators, such as citrulline, which widen blood vessels. Although studies don’t show that these ingredients increase muscle mass per se, the increased blood flow to the muscles may provide the user with that “pumped” feeling and look.

The Bottom Line:

Your body, on a healthy, macronutrient balanced diet, will have the energy it needs to power you through a workout. That said, today we try and push ourselves harder, both at work and at the gym. Getting extra fuel into our muscles to get in those extra reps, heavier lifts, and longer cardio sessions can make the difference on how you see results. If you want to always be able to push your workout to its limits, to go further, then I recommend a pre-workout drink. We also need to be honest with ourselves, in that today’s busy world, that an energy booster before the gym after a long day at work can also make the difference in how well we feel about our workouts too. And one thing I have learned working with clients, is staying focused on fitness is mostly based on the positive feeling one has towards it.

So what should you take? Before I get to that, let me start with what to avoid. Keep these out of your system prior to working out:

  1. Milk based drinks
  2. Sugar-based fruit drinks
  3. Alcobol
  4. Carbonated beverages
  5. Sports drinks

None of these offer anything that is going to fuel your body for a workout, and can have other issues for your health.

As for what to take, I get asked this too. It is usually, “hey, what will work for me?” The answer is surprising to most – all of them, and none of them. Yes, I said all of them, and none of them. While there are many common ingredients to each drink, the specific formulas vary – as does our physiology. So I recommend you try samples of different brands to see how you feel. You should feel energetic, not jittery. If you feel jittery, try another brand, as it is a sign there is too much stimulant for your body. Lastly, what works for you right now, at your age and health may not work at other times. So do not get stuck on one brand over the years – you will need to adjust as your body changes.

I’ve used a few over the years, and offer them as ones that I personally would recommend:

  1. Mr. Hyde Nitro X Pre Workout
  2. N.O.-Xplode
  3. Pre JYM
  4. Organifi Red Juice

The last one is a bit of a twist to this. It has 500mg of B12, which helps the body produce glucose – a key energy element for your body, and an endurance blend. Red Juice works for my body, and has other health benefits. I also sip an Xtend BCAA amino acid drink while working out to keep my muscles nourished.

Above all – pre-workout drink or not – stay hydrated with regular old water! It works wonders, and is essential for maintaining overall health and is critical for essential fluid replacement when exercising. Second, read the label of your supplement – most require 30-45 minutes to reach effect. If you drink your supplement walking in the door of the gym, you will be over half way done with your workout before it kicks in – and you’ll wonder why it did not seem to help.

 

 

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