Monday, May 18, 2009

treadmill or road running?

Running is one of my favorite exercises. It is great for overall health and fitness and can be combined with a healthy diet creating one of the fastest ways to lose weight. For myself there are various considerations regarding where, when and how I run.

Quality running shoes are important to prevent injury. I don't always buy expensive running shoes however ensuring comfort and appropriate fit is necessary. Taking things slowly to begin with is also one of the best pieces of advice I received. Consistency over the long term being much more important than "going for it" one day only to become injured and unable to train for a week or longer. There are a variety of running websites detailing training plans which I have learned from. Another valuable piece of advice I found was to train in terms of time rather than distance. Running a distance often has the effect of making you want to do it faster and faster each time. However running, jogging or walking for a set time, e.g. 20 minutes means you become much less attached to your speed and focus instead on completing the chosen time. Using this type of routine means that over time, speed naturally increases. Although because it is not the focus I find it helps me from straining my muscles which causes me to take extra time off to recover.

One excellent way to train by time rather than distance is to run on a treadmill as opposed to running outside. There are differences between the two that may make either more attractive. Buying my own treadmill is not really something I have space for however there are cheap treadmill reviews available that can help you find something appropriate if you wanted your own. Personally I just use the treadmills at the local sports gym. Obviously there is the cost associated with going to the gym that I wouldn't have if I ran outside. However using a treadmill allows me to measure the exact time I run for. Other reasons I like using a treadmill at the gym is because I can choose the exact gradient I want to run at; I don't have to contend with traffic fumes; and stretching on the mats is really enjoyable.

Running outside is also great fun. I like going early in the morning before many cars are about and the streets are free.

The important thing for me is really to get out and take regular exercise.

Monday, May 4, 2009

abs exercises

I use four different exercises to develop my abdominal muscles. The first two will be know to most people who workout at a gym. The latter two exercises while being less common are probably more effective in developing your six pack.

Firstly I like to do sit ups on a decline bench. Rather than doing huge sets at a fast speed, I use a much slower exercise cadence of 4 up, pause for 2, then 4 down, hold for 2, then repeat, for 10 reps. all all stages of the exercise, my abs are being worked. By the end of the set my mid section is burning. This exercise works the upper abs in particular.

After a quick stretch I then go on to leg raises. My gym costs only $1 per visit so doesn't have all the equipment of more expensive places. For my leg raises I hang from a chin up bar and simply raise my knees towards my stomach. Again, using a slower cadence ensures a powerful burning sensation in the abs. Leg raises target the lower abs.

I usually only do two separate abs exercises on any one day. Next I will talk about two possibly less well known abs exercises.

The abs wheel, also known as an abs roller is a piece of exercise equipment that you can use to give your abs a serious workout. What I love about the abs rollers is that you don't have to do massive sets of 30-40 reps to get a good burn in your abs. Literally after 10 reps or so you know you've hit your muscles properly.

This is an excellent You Tube video showing you the correct form for exercising with an abs roller.

Finally I use the abs vacuum exercise. It is a really interesting exercise and versatile too. Once you get the technique down you can do it almost anywhere, e.g. sitting on a chair watching TV, standing in line or lying down at the gym.

The basic technique is to breath but rather than raise your chest, you raise your belly. Then exhale lowering your belly. Then rather than inhale again, you suck your belly button towards your spine which creates a kind of vacuum effect in your lungs. The more you suck your tummy in the tighter the vacuum becomes. Then when you relax, the vacuum is released and air floods back into your lungs again. It took me a while to feel this exercise but you know when you start to get it, it just feels right. This You Tube video provides a demonstration of the abs vacuum.