What To Look For When Selecting A Heart Rate Monitor

Heart Rate - digitalartOne great tool that you may want to get yourself as you go about your workout program plan to see optimal results is a heart rate monitor.

Many people get into the habit of using these at first to make sure they are working in their target heart rate zone and then after seeing the benefits that they offer, choose to keep using them from that point forward.

The nice thing about a heart rate monitor is that it makes it much easier to keep tabs on the total intensity that your workouts are being done at.

Since not all heart rate monitors are created equally however, it helps to know what to look for when selecting one.

Let’s go over the main points to know.

One That Tracks Calories

The first feature you may find on some heart rate monitor devises is that it will also track your overall calorie burn as you go about your workout.  This may seem beneficial, but do be careful with this that you don’t take it too seriously.

Realize that many of these calorie tracking devices are notorious for not being all that accurate, so you’re best off simply going be perceived level of exertion and estimating your calorie burn from there.

If you feel like you’re working hard, you’re likely burning up sufficient calories. Don’t think that just because the readout says you’ve burned 600 calories that you should go and give yourself a 500 calorie treat!

One That Tracks Distance Travelled

Next, some heart rate monitors will also work as a pedometer and will also track the total distance you’ve travelled. This can be especially helpful if you plan on doing some longer runs outside as then you know precisely how far you’ve gone.

As an added benefit, you could always wear it throughout the day to ensure that you are getting in regular lifestyle activity and reaching your total steps taken goals.

One That Tracks Sleep Status

Finally, some heart rate monitors can also be worn in the evening and will track your total time spent in deep sleep. This can be beneficial to see – more for curiosity sake than anything and will allow you to figure out if you are getting the quality sleep that you need.

So have a good look at all the heart rate monitor options and make sure that you are choosing one that is going to be best suited to the workouts you plan to do.

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Rebecca Adlington’s Tips Can Help Make Your Swim Training More Interesting

Swimming is a great form of low-impact exercise, but it has to be said that swimming endless laps of the local pool is hardly inspiring. Yes, you might end up with a streamlined and trim body, but you may also end up bored rigid. So how can you make swim training more fun? Luckily for us, Olympic middle-distance swimming legend, Rebecca Adlington, has a few helpful tips.

Plan Your Swim Session

Swimming twenty lengths of the pool, three times per week, might keep you in reasonable shape, but it won’t help you reach a higher level of fitness. To do this you need to follow a training programme with achievable goals.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Mix up your swim training with speed work, drills, distance work, and recovery swims.

Have Training Goals

Make sure you have a specific goal for every session you do. Whether your plan is to achieve a specific lap time or swim a set distance, make sure you work towards this during your time in the water.

Set Small Targets

If concentration is waning and you are more interested in the hot girl or guy sitting in the Jacuzzi area, set small targets to stay focussed. Count strokes or try and increase the number of strokes between breaths; anything you can do to sharpen your mind and restore concentration levels is good.

Try A Few Swim Gadgets

There are lots of different swim gadgets available to help you make the most of your swim training sessions.

  • Pull buoy
  • Hand paddles
  • Swim float
  • Wrist and ankle weights

Incorporate one or more into your swim training sessions to help build up strength and improve technique.

Join A Swim Club

Swimming with other people is a lot more motivational than swimming alone week after week. The other benefit of joining a swimming club is that it gives you access to swim coaching, which is great if you need some pointers on your technique or advice about training plans. But if you can’t stand the thought of joining a swim club, try and arrange to swim with a friend. Even if they are at a different level to you, having a pre-set arrangement to swim together will help keep you motivated and encourage you to push yourself harder.

Swim In Different Environments

Where possible, mix and match your swimming environment. For example, swimming in open water or the sea is very different to swimming in a heated 25m pool. Different swim environments will help to improve your technique and make you a better swimmer.

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A Beginner’s Guide To Training For Your First Triathlon

It used to be that a triathlon was viewed as something only ‘hard-core’ athletes competed in, but the popularity of triathlons has soared in recent years and now there are triathlon events held all over the country. Anyone can enter a beginner level triathlon. You certainly don’t need to be a super-fit athlete to complete a three sport event. Triathlon training is also an excellent way to get fit and lose a few extra pounds, so if you are looking for a goal to help you shed some weight this year, here is my quick guide to training for your first triathlon event.

How Do Triathlons Work?

A triathlon event involves swimming, cycling and running, in that order and without any breaks in the middle. You are on a timer from the moment you start swimming to the second you cross the finish line at the end of the run. However, the only person you are competing against is yourself. Start times are staggered according to swim ability, so you won’t ever be the last person to finish.

Event distances vary, but a standard ‘sprint’ triathlon would be:

  • 400m swim (in a pool)
  • 20k bike
  • 5k run

Can I Do A Triathlon?

As long as you can swim, cycle and put one foot in front of the other, you stand a reasonable chance of completing a triathlon. Beginner events are fairly short and any reasonably fit person should be capable of reaching the finish line without requiring ambulance support.

How Much Training Should I Do?

The more training you do, the better, as it will help you to enjoy the event rather than struggling around feeling like you are dying a slow and painful death. The best way to approach triathlon training if you have never done one before is to try doing a bit of swimming, cycling and running at least twice per week—six training sessions in total. Aim to reach the point where you are able to complete the required distance in each individual sport. So, as long as you can swim 16 lengths of a standard pool, cycle 20k and run 5k (not together), adrenaline and sports drinks will get you around the course on the day.

There are lots of training plans available online, so if you feel that you would benefit from a more regimented training approach, find one that suits your abilities and start training. For best results, allow at least 12 weeks of training prior to the event, and if you are really unfit, give yourself longer.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a triathlon today!

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How To Get The Most Out Of A Fitness Boot Camp

Fitness boot camps are a popular way of losing weight and increasing fitness and strength, all in a relatively short space of time. Intensive boot camps are normally residential, but you can also do a regular boot camp class at the gym or locally, one or more times per week. Celebrities love fitness boot camps because the results are fast and visible—a fat, out of shape celebrity usually goes in and then reappears a couple of weeks later looking svelte and ready for the red carpet. But as effective as boot camps are, you do have to put some effort in order to maximise the benefits, so if you are new to the boot camp philosophy, here are a few tips.

Choose The Right Boot Camp

There are lots of different boot camps to choose from. Some are run by ex-military personnel and involve lots of screaming and shouting; others adopt a less confrontational approach and are geared towards encouragement rather than abuse. Before you sign up for a class, think about the type of approach that will suit you best and go along to chat to the instructor to see whether you like the ambience of the class.

Stick With It

A lot of boot camps take place in the early morning, so people can do a class before work. You may find it tough getting up so early or start coming up with excuses not to go. The important thing is to stick with it and stay motivated. Paying a chunk of money up front may help in this regard.

Give It Your All

As with most things in life, you only get out what you put into a boot class, so the more you push yourself, the better the end result will be. Try and ensure every session is as tough, if not tougher, than the last one. If you slack off you are only cheating yourself, and if you do that, what is the point?

Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you don’t understand what it is you are supposed to be doing. It is important to tackle some exercises correctly or you run the risk of acquiring an injury. So speak up. You should also say when you feel that an exercise isn’t challenging enough; coasting along won’t help you in the slightest.

Track Your Progress

Finally, make sure you record your weight loss and measurements on a weekly basis. This will help to keep you motivated and let you see how much progress you’re making.

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The Sofa To 5k Running Plan

Running is an excellent way to lose weight and increase your fitness levels. The problem is that when you have done virtually no exercise for years, the thought of entering and competing in a 5k running event is pretty daunting. But it can be done—all you need is some motivation and an easy to follow training plan. So if you fancy working towards a 5k run, here is my simple guide to achieving your goal safely.

Health & Safety

For most people, a 5k training plan won’t cause them any problems as long as they don’t try and do too much, too soon. However, if you are significantly overweight or you have pre-existing health problems, it is a good idea to have a health check-up before doing any strenuous exercise.

The Right Shoes

Running is a high impact sport and the right footwear is essential unless you want your training programme to be sabotaged by injury very quickly. To avoid any problems, make sure you buy some proper running shoes that actually fit, and for best results, have your running shoes fitted by an expert in a specialist running shop.

The Progression Rule

The key to a successful 5k training plan for beginners is to take it slowly. There is little point in going out and running until you fall over with exhaustion, wash, rinse and repeat. All that will do is burn you out and destroy your legs. Instead, try a walk-run approach. In the beginning, walk the majority of the time and only run for very short spells. Then, as your fitness improves, reduce the amount of walking and increase the running intervals.

Time vs. Distance

Train by time or distance—either is fine, but don’t chop and change the two or it will become confusing.

Rest Days

Try and train every other day. Rest days are very important, particularly with a high impact sport like running. Your body needs the rest days to recover and repair itself, so even though you may be keen (or not!) to get back out there, either rest completely or do a different, low-impact sport such as swimming in between.

Roads vs. Treadmill

Running on a treadmill is just as effective as running outdoors, although a lot more boring it has to be said. Do whatever suits you best, although remember to add some incline to the treadmill to make up for the lack of wind resistance indoors. It is also a good idea to do some of your running outdoors if you plan on competing in a 5k running event, or your legs will find the extra impact of running on hard ground a bit of a shock to the system.

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Lose 4lb Each Week Through High Intensity Training

High Intensity Training (HIT) is the latest buzz-word in the fitness and weight loss world, but like many people you may be sceptical as to its benefits. After all, surely it is better to go for a long, slow jog for an hour around the park rather than workout for a measly twenty minutes if you want to lose weight, right? Actually no, it isn’t, and here are the reasons why.

What Is HIT?

The principle behind High-Intensity training is simple. Instead of a long, low intensity cardio workout you exert yourself for short but very intense bursts interspersed with intervals of rest. For example, following a warm-up, run flat out for thirty seconds and then rest for thirty seconds; repeat five or six times and then cool down.

Why Is HIT Great For Weight Loss?

Low intensity cardio workouts burn fat whereas high intensity exercise primarily draw upon carbohydrate stores, so in theory a low intensity exercise session such as a slow jog or power walk is the best way to lose weight. However, it isn’t that simple. In practice both types of exercise burn a mixture of fat and carbohydrate, but calorie burn doesn’t just occur during a workout—it continues for the next 24 hours.

Research has shown that HIT has a number of positive weight loss effects:

  • Increased metabolism post-exercise – You will continue to burn calories long after your workout is over
  • Appetite suppression – You won’t feel so hungry after an intense interval session
  • Boosts human growth hormone – Increased levels of HGH mean more calories are burned in the 24 hours after a workout ends

How To Achieve Steady Weight Loss

High intensity interval training sounds pretty easy, but you have to do it right if you want to achieve the maximum weight loss benefit and lose around 4Ibs per week. The key to making HIT work for you is to really push yourself to the limit during the hard sections. Reaching the point where you start throwing up is perhaps pushing it too far, but at the very least you should feel like you can’t continue for another second. Keep your intervals fairly short: a 30 second hard effort followed by a 30 second recovery is good. Repeat five or six times per session, and try and do this workout at least three times per week.

Tip: Vary interval sessions between the treadmill, the elliptical trainer and the stationery bike to improve fat loss and maintain your enjoyment levels.

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How To Use A Workout Journal

One of the greatest tools to be using as you go about your workout programme is a workout journal. A workout journal is going to be great for keeping track of each and every workout that you complete, will serve as a fantastic motivational tool towards success, and will also ensure that you are staying focused with each and every workout that you do.

But, if you don’t use a workout journal properly, you may not get the results from it that you desire.

Let’s look at how you should go about using a workout journal so that you can see optimal results.

Track Everything

The very first must-do with a workout journal is to make sure that you are tracking everything about the workout. You want to write down the exercises you do, the sets you complete, the reps you perform, along with the rest that you take.  Also make sure to write down how much weight you’ve lifted so that next session, you can try and outdo yourself.

It’s a must that you continually change your workout each time to push your body further and further and having the journal in place is going to allow you to do this.

Assess Regularly

Second, as you go about tracking in your workout journal, make sure that you are assessing your progress regularly. Every two to three weeks, take a look back over your journal and see if there aren’t some adjustments that you should be making.

Sometimes you do need to a complete programme overhaul to continue on seeing the results that you’re after.

Assessing your progress and looking at what you’ve been doing and where you want to go is all part of the workout success process.

Jot Down Nutritional Notes

Finally, don’t forget to jot down a few nutritional notes about what you’ve been eating leading up to the workout and possibly even the day before.

The foods that you’re consuming can have a great influence on how you feel during that workout session, so don’t take this lightly.

If you aren’t eating well, it’s going to show in your performance so it’s good to have reference of what you’ve eaten so that you can spot patterns that may be occurring.

So keep these quick tips in mind as you go about your workout session. Use a workout journal and it will help you move along faster to your stated goals.

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1 Week Exercise Plan – Video Blog

This exercise video from Diet.com gives you a week long workout plan to follow to help you lose the maximum amount of weight within 7 days. This is the first level of the workout, and each week the exercise plan will get harder and harder, so make a start today and see what you can achieve over the next 7 days.

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Dumbbells Versus Barbells – Which Is Best?

One question that some people ask themselves as they go about their strength training is whether they should turn to dumbbells or barbells to boost their strength level.

Both of these types of strength training methods offer advantages, so it’s vital that you’re aware of these so that you can make the best decision for you.

Let’s look at the pros and cons to each.

Dumbbells

The first great thing about dumbbells is the fact that they’ll help to prevent all muscular strength imbalances.  Since one side of the body cannot compensate for a weaker other side while using dumbbells, you won’t run into this problem.

Second, dumbbells also offer more exercise variation. You can perform chest fly’s, lateral raises, as well as reverse fly’s with dumbbells, but with barbells you can’t.

Finally, dumbbells are also convenient for home gyms, so if you want to workout in the privacy of your home, these are typically the route to go.

Barbells

On the flip side, barbells are great for building strength. Most people will lift more weight with this piece of equipment, so if you want to maximise your muscle, this is the route to go.

In addition to that, barbells are going to be slightly more stable, so you can focus in on training the muscles you’re aiming to work.

With dumbbells, a great deal of effort will go into stabilising the movement, so you’ll have less energy to devote to the exercise itself.

Finally, barbells are great for compound lifts. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, rows, and shoulder presses can all be done very well with a barbell.

There’s no right or wrong choice here on which is the superior choice for you to select for your workouts, but more which equipment variation will best meet your current needs.

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Quick Ways To Boost Your Workout Progress

If you’ve been doing the same workout in the gym over and over again and are starting to notice results just aren’t coming as quickly, it’s time to change something up so that you can move closer to success.

Continual changes in a workout are vital if you’re going to beat progress plateaus and make sure that you never skip a beat as far as ongoing results are concerned.

Let’s look at some quick ways to boost your progress instantly by changing one key element of your workout.

Reverse The Exercise Order

The first way to alter your workout is to reverse your exercise order. If you always do squats and then move into a bench press, try leading with a bench press instead.

As simple as it sounds, this can make a big difference on your long term results.

Use A Different Rep Range

Next, consider utilising a different rep range. Taking reps a little higher for a week can bring about greater gains as it shocks your body into doing more work than it’s used to.

Try and keep the weight constant as best as possible as you do so to evoke the greatest training response.

Change Your Rest Break

Another quick and simple way to change your workout around and see faster results is to use a different rest break protocol. If you typically take 2 minutes to rest, bump it down to 60 or 90 seconds. This will force the body to work harder, learning to combat fatigue in a hurry.

Just be sure as you reduce your rest periods, you never let yourself move out of proper form.

So as you can see, changing your workout so that you get back on track to better results doesn’t have to be difficult. Sometimes small adjustments can mean to massive success over time.

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