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Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on WHY YOUR HEART RATE MATTERS

With Apple Watches and Fitbits the rage around Charleston and Mount Pleasant, many of you may have noticed the ubiquitous heart rate monitor pulsing it’s little red heart every time you workout at the gym.  And while most of us exercise enthusiasts know that having a good heart rate is AWESOME, do we really know that having a good heart rate MEANS?

This week, we are going to focus on exactly what a GOOD HEART RATE is for each age group and WHY keeping your heart in the “happy zone” matters!

WHAT EXACTLY IS A “HEART RATE”?

While this may seem like a silly question, the implications of ignoring your HR are NOT so funny.  We’ve all felt our pulses after exercising in elementary school gym class.  But what’s so important about how fast your heart is going? 

According to The American Heart Association, “Your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Normal heart rate varies from person to person. Knowing yours can be an important heart-health gauge.  As you age, changes in the rate and regularity of your pulse can change and may signify a heart condition or other condition that needs to be addressed.”  So basically, getting familiar with the way your ticker beats will help you gauge your fitness levels while you exercise.

WHY SHOULD WE CARE?

According to Harvard Medical School (and who can argue with them?), “Heart rate is important because the heart’s function is so important. The heart circulates oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body. When it’s not working properly, just about everything is affected. Heart rate is central to this process because the function of the heart (called “cardiac output”) is directly related to heart rate and stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped out with each beat).”

To buy this chart: https://www.amazon.com/Fitness-Heart-Rate-Chart-Poster/dp/1926534018

To buy this chart: https://www.amazon.com/Fitness-Heart-Rate-Chart-Poster/dp/1926534018

CATEGORIZING HR LEVELS

You have probably seen the different “Heart Zones” on treadmills and ellipticals around the gym (or see image above).  They usually range from “inactive” to “maximum” with elusive categories like “Weight Loss Training Range” and “Aerobic Training Range” sandwiched between.  And different age categories have different ranges.  We’ve not had to do so much graph-calculating since grade school!

And unfortunately, these charts are of course, based on AVERAGES.  This means that they might be off for your specific fitness level.  In fact, according to Mike Siemens, M.S. Director of Exercise Physiology at Canyon Ranch Spa, as quoted on active.com these HR levels could be as high as 30 points off of any given individuals fitness level: 

“The reason for this huge potential error is that they all use the generic formula of 220 — AGE = maximum heart rate. This can be off by as much as +/- 30 beats per minute! In real life this means if you are 50 years old — the charts will predict a maximum heart rate for you of 170 beats per minute. Meanwhile, your true maximum heart rate could be as low as 140 or as high as 200 beats per minute. That is the normal range of human maximum heart rates. From the charts you have no way of knowing if your maximum heart rate is lower or higher than 220 — AGE.”

HOW DO WE GET THE RIGHT DATA?

While, (as long as you are having regular visits with your doctor and are in generally good heath) Heart Zone charts work as a good guideline to begin with while planning your workouts, in order to get the most accurate “Zone” reading, Shape Magazine recommends getting a VO2 Test, also known as a Metabolic Test.  This involves making an appointment with a specialist (like, for example at the MUSC Wellness Center) and have an expert help set your heart rate training zones.

Check out the process with this video: 

BREAKING DOWN HEART RATE LEVELS

So once you have your proper HR levels, what do they all mean anyway? VeryWellFit has an amazing article that spells it all out, explaining that there are benefits to working out at every heart rate level. 

In a nutshell (all descriptions taken from VeryWellFit.  To access this article in full, click HERE):

Healthy Heart Zone:

“Your workout in this zone is less intense and won’t give the most cardiorespiratory training benefits. But studies have shown that it works to help decrease body fat, blood pressure, and cholesterol.  In this zone, the body derives its energy by burning 10 percent carbohydrates, 5 percent protein, and 85 percent fat.”

Fitness Heart Rate Zone

“You burn more calories per minute than in the healthy heart zone because the exercise is a little more intense. You are going faster and therefore covering more distance. The calories burned depend on the distance you cover and your weight more than any other factors.  In this zone, your body fuels itself with 85 percent fat, 5 percent protein, and 10 percent carbohydrate.”

Aerobic Heart Rate Zone

This is the zone to aim for when training for endurance. It spurs your body to improve your circulatory system by building new blood vessels and increases your heart and lung capacity.  Aiming for 20 to 60 minutes in this zone is believed to give the best fitness training benefits.  You burn 50 percent of your calories from fat, 50 percent from carbohydrate, and less than 1 percent from protein when you are in this zone

Anaerobic Zone – Threshold Zone

“This exertion level takes you to the limit where your body begins to produce lactic acid. Racewalkers use this zone to build their ability to go even faster.

Workouts in this heart rate zone should be in the 10-20 minute range or part of an interval training workout.  You burn more calories per minute than with the lower heart rate workouts, as you are covering more distance per minute.  The body burns 85 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent fat and less than 1 percent protein in this zone.”

Red-Line Zone

“This zone should only be used for short bursts during interval training, where you work intensely for a minute and then drop back down to a lower intensity for several minutes, and repeat. You should consult with your doctor to ensure you can work out at such a high heart rate safely. While you burn lots of calories per minute in this zone, 90 percent of them are carbohydrates, 10 percent fats, and less than 1 percent protein.“

Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on HEALTHY SUMMER COCKTAIL RECIPES!

Nothing spells summer like a delicious, savory drink to cool you down!  With beach bonfires and pool parties happening all over Mount Pleasant and Charleston, you KNOW you’ll be tempted by a Mojito or a Margarita.  But all that SUGAR?  Is it possible to enjoy your favorite summer cocktail without derailing all of your hard work at the gym?

We say YES!  Read on to discover how to make these TWO COCKTAIL CLASSICS better for the beach and BETTER FOR YOUR BODY!

http://www.recipe4living.com/recipes/faux_jito.htm

http://www.recipe4living.com/recipes/faux_jito.htm

“Faux” Jito

Recipe found in Shape Magazine

Did we say Mojito??? One of the most popular drinks anytime of year, this minty delight is not only tasty, it’s super refreshing.  But did you know that Newsweek ranks this Cuban classic as number FIVE out of The Six Most Fattening Cocktails?  In fact, coming in around 250 calories per serving, this cocktail will quickly throw all of those squats and crunches you do at the gym OUT THE WINDOW!

So how do you get your Mojito fix without all of the damage?  Shape sourced Emilie Yount, editor of Recipe4Living.com for this 2-minute miracle:

This Makes 1 Serving

Ingredients:

three or four mint leaves, a lime wedge

1 oz. white rum, diet lemon-lime soda (such as Sprite Zero, Diet Sierra Mist, or Diet 7-Up—NOTE that we DUFFNATICS prefer club soda for a more refreshing version)

ice

sugar (just for the rim of the glass!)

To prepare:

“Muddle mint leaves with white rum and the juice from lime wedge (1/8 of the lime). Muddling is done by lightly crushing the mint (just until the leaves bruise) using a mortar and pestle or whatever you have on hand. Just don’t shred the mint!

Run the squeezed lime wedge around the rim of the glass, and then dip the top of the glass in a shallow plate of granulated sugar to coat the rim. Pour the muddled mixture into your glass, fill with crushed ice, and top off with the diet soda.”

http://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/grapefruit-beergaritas

Grapefruit Beergaritas

Recipe found in Cooking Light

CL has our bodies and our behavior in mind with this fun twist on this classic cocktail: “Fresh juice and a little simple syrup replace margarita mix to cut 4 teaspoons (16g) added sugars per serving. Diluting tequila with juice and beer makes for a gentler cocktail that’ll keep guests free from personal fouls.”  By having lower alcohol content, you can eliminate your hangover and keep that progress you just made on your Tabata!

This Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients:

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

2 teaspoons grated lime rind

2 (12-oz.) bottles pale lager beer (such as Corona Light), chilled

2 cups fresh pink grapefruit juice (from 2 grapefruits), chilled

1/2 cup (4 oz.) tequila

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)

“Combine first 3 ingredients in a glass jar. Cover with lid; shake until sugar dissolves. Pour mixture into a pitcher. Add beer, grapefruit juice, tequila, and lime juice; stir gently. Serve over ice.”

Not Crossfit, Better thank Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on WHAT TO READ THIS SUMMER!

Summer has hit Mount Pleasant and Charleston and for many of us in the LowCountry, VACATION TIME!  And what goes best by the beach or the pool (besides a healthy cocktail)? A great READ! 

Check out three BRAND NEW BOOKS that will inspire you to live your best life this summer!  Read on!

And those healthy cocktails we mentioned above?  Check our our blog next week for recipe ideas!

FITNESS MINDSET by Brian Keane. 

Click HERE to purchase.

VeryWellFit ranks Brian Keane’s  The Fitness Mindset as their top pick for Best Fitness read of 2018.  Keane, world famous for his BKF90 program and popular podcast, delves into the mental aspect of exercise and fitness. 

According to VWF: “The Fitness Mindset covers many of the areas common in fitness books, including diet and interval training, but its innovation is the emphasis on psychological side of things. Keane writes about how to avoid fear and anxiety about undoing the fitness achievements you’ve made and how to manage stress more fruitfully. Amazon reviews of The Fitness Mindset praise Keane’s book for its readability and inspirational quality, giving the book a 5-star review average.”

BETTER BRAIN SOLUTION by Steven Masley, MD

Click HERE to purchase.

Nutritious Life also makes the mind/body connection with their recommendation for a top read with The Better Brain Solution.

As we all know, whether you have diabetes or not, exercising is great for keeping your blood sugar in check.  According to WebMD, “When you do moderate exercise, like walking, that makes your heart beat a little faster and breathe a little harder. Your muscles use more glucose, the sugar in your blood stream.  Over time, this can lower your blood sugar levels. It also makes the insulin in your body work better.”

Dr. Steven Malsey takes this even further to explain how lowering your blood sugar through working out improves your BRAIN function. NL explains why Malsey’s new book is relevant to everyone:  “A top physician explains how elevated blood sugar is not just damaging to your heart health but also majorly affects your brain. And he offers a prescription for a diet and lifestyle that not only prevents diabetes but also addresses memory loss and cognitive decline. It’s a case for taking care of your brain long before it’s too late.”

RUN FAST. COOK FAST. EAT SLOW. by Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

Click HERE to purchase (available Aug 2018).

This is a followup to NYT Best Selling Run Fast. Eat Slow.  Like it’s predecessor, this latest installment by 2018 NYC Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan is packed with great recipes crafted by renown Nutrition Coach Elyse Kopecky, but what makes this a great for the summer are the quick and EASY recipes. These will be perfect pre & post workout and will give you enough time to hit the beach afterwards.

Women’s Health explains: “While Flanagan is not a nutritionist, she does provide plenty of quick-but-nutritious recipes crafted by that anyone can benefit from, Salter says. You’ll also enjoy her running stories, tips, and an inside look into the elite running world.”  WH recommends this book to “anyone who’s ever been curious about what elite athletes eat, or people who want to improve their race times or lose weight with running.”

Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on “UNHEALTHY” FOOD YOU CAN EAT!

It’s beach season here in Charleston and Mount Pleasant.  We talked all about the bikini bod last week with our article on CORE.  And as we noted, a rockin’ bod does not come from exercise alone.  No matter how many miles you clock on the treadmill or how many pounds you lift at the gym, you’re not going to reach your fitness goals without watching what you eat! 

While many fitness experts spend time talking about what NOT to eat, this week we’re going to spend some time debunking diet myths and talk about what you CAN eat! 

Never mind their bad reputation, here are our TOP FIVE BAD FOODS THAT ARE ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU!

#1 Peanut Butter

After working hard at the gym, you certainly don’t want to go home and chow down on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!  But believe it or not, if you eat the RIGHT kind, peanut butter can IMPROVE your diet.  Take it from Shape: “Research finds that people who eat peanut butter every day have healthier diets overall. Peanut butter may be high in fat, but 80 percent of that fat comes from healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Peanut butter is a high-protein food with lots of vitamin E, niacin, folic acid, magnesium, and antioxidants. Shop for natural peanut butter made from nothing but ground peanuts, or commercial peanut butter that doesn’t have trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, or much sodium.” 

So skip the Jiffy and go for natural—Whole Foods and Earth Fare have peanut grinders so you can make your own! (We also love Trader Joe’s Crunchy Unsalted PB which has NOTHING but peanuts!).

#2 Bacon

Say WHAT?!?!?!  Now please keep in mind, we’re not telling you to eat the Baconator to reward your serious lifting session.  Consuming bacon is a TREAD LIGHTLY situation.  In fact, Health Magazine reminds us to use bacon almost like a spice: “The key here? Small amounts. Bacon can be loaded with salt and saturated fat, which is why you want to use it more like a garnish than a main event. Sprinkle crumbled bacon atop a side dish of Brussels sprouts or a veggie-filled salad.”  The trick is that if you sprinkle a little indulgence into your meal, you will feel satisfied and be less likely to cheat BIG TIME.

#3 Cheese

Much like bacon, this is not a license to pig out on cheddar after running a few miles! Men’s Health quotes Ginger Hultin M.S., R.D.N., C.S.O., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, who reminds us that when eaten in proper portions, cheese is loaded with good stuff: “Cheese is a rich source of protein, and it’s especially high in bone-boosting calcium and phosphorus…One ounce (oz) of cheese contains 7 grams (g) of protein. And because, protein is known for its ability to keep you full for a long period of time, snacking on a little bit of cheese goes a long way.  Some research even suggests that cheese may provide gut health boosting probiotics, which are connected to their own slew of health benefits.”

#4 Pasta

We are repeating ourselves here, we know.  “Carbing Up” before or after a major workout at the gym is a BAD IDEA.  Just like with cheese and bacon, to eat pasta is to be about moderation.  Take it from LiveStrong:  “The key to eating pasta is to keep your portions to no more than 1 cup cooked. Believe it or not, the recommended serving size of pasta is 1/2 cup of cooked pasta — the amount you can hold in one cupped hand! If you were served that amount at a restaurant, you’d most likely feel cheated! Most people eat 2 cups of pasta for a meal. For a more balanced (and filling) meal, prepare pasta with veggies, seafood or lean protein such as chicken or tempeh, and top it with a tomato-based sauce rather than a cream-based sauce.”

#5 Chocolate

The health benefits of chocolate have been popular news fodder for years.  The Cleveland Clinic explains that unprocessed chocolate has flavonoids (“When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this ‘antioxidant’ power”);  antioxidants (“believed to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental contaminants, like cigarette smoke”);  and flavanols (“[which] has influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot”).

But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, eating chocolate it’s all about QUALITY and QUANTITY!  NBC News recommends: “To enjoy chocolate the healthy way, try nibbling on a few squares of 70% or higher dark chocolate paired with strawberries or melted onto bananas, mix 2 tablespoons unsweetened pure cocoa powder into your coffee or a cup of warm milk or sprinkle cacao nibs on oatmeal or a smoothie bowl…”

Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on CORE DON’Ts

It’s definitely beach season here in Mount Pleasant and Charleston…perfect time to delve into one of our favorite topics, THE CORE! 

But first of all, just to make sure we’re all on the same page—what exactly is your core? 

Self Magazine spells it out like this: “Your core is made up of a group of muscles that work together to support and stabilize the trunk of your body. While we often think of our core as our abs, the abs are only one part of the equation. The core wraps around the entire body, and includes muscles like the rectus abdominus (the abs), obliques, and yes, the muscles in your lower back.”

So beyond your belly, your core is exactly like it sounds, the CENTER of your body.  If you want to delve deeper into the matter, we did an article a while back (click HERE to find it).    

This week we are debunking some myths with our TOP FIVE CORE-BUILDING DON’Ts

https://www.shape.com/fitness/gear/popular-fitness-equipment-then-and-now

#1 Don’t Be Afraid to Hold Still

Contrary to popular belief, getting a strong center does not mean blasting out 500 sit-ups.  It’s time to debase the exercise myth that the more crunches you do, the stronger your core becomes.  In fact, research is showing that JUST doing crunches can actually HURT you.

Nowadays the crazy “ab cruncher” craze of the 80’s is giving way to the idea that when it comes to building a strong core foundation, there is STRENGTH in STILLNESS.   

NBC News quotes Brian Bott, certified functional strength coach, founder of Aspire Fitness and co-author of Get With the Program: “When we think about core training, we focus on preventing movement rather than creating it. A lot of back injuries can be attributed to repeated flexing and extending of the spine. This is the exact movement you are doing performing a crunch. Yes, you feel them in your abs, but it’s not quite the way your core was designed to work and it comes at the expense of your back.” 

#2 Don’t Just Focus on Your Six Pack

To piggyback on the idea of using your center to STRENGTHEN your body, Harvard Medical School reminds us that only caring about the washboard is missing the point:  “A rippling six-pack and a weak back are a recipe for disaster. So don’t just focus on abdominal exercises that buff appearances. A program that works all core muscles protects your back and boosts sports performance.”  An Insta-worthy BEACH BODY is just an added bonus!

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#3 Don’t Neglect Cardio

If you’re STILL obsessed with getting Chris Hemsworth’s bod, unfortunately strengthening your center is only ONE STEP on the way to mythical greatness.  Take it from VeryWellFit: “While exercising the muscle may increase endurance or strength, it won’t burn off the fat in that area…The only way to burn fat from your belly is…with consistent exercise — Cardio, weight training, and flexibility, and a healthy, low-calorie diet.”  So you may be able to plank your way to greatness, you still need to eat well, lift weights and get your cardio in to chisel your midsection.

#4 Don’t Forget to Incorporate Compound Movements

As all DUFFNATICS know, we like to make our workouts efficient and interesting for our clients— and one way to do that is through combining activities in something called Compound Movements.  BodyBuildling.com explains: “Compound movements like deadlifts, squats, and overhead presses engage every inch of your core.”  So you don’t even notice that you’re working your core until AFTER you’ve finished the workout!  Plus combining exercises helps you burn more calories, so win-win!

#5 Don’t Ignore Good Posture

Sorry slouchers, it turns out that standing straight is great for your strength.  Fitness Magazine quotes Brynn Putnam, founder of Refine Method.  Putnam explains that if you maintain proper posture, any exercise can become a CORE exercise: “The key to working your core effectively is to maintain a ‘neutral spine,’ or the natural curvature of your back, in every exercise you do…Just be sure to work with enough resistance or intensity that you feel your core muscles reflexively brace or squeeze when you move.”

Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on CUPPING!

You might have seen athletes around Mt. Pleasant and Charleston sporting the ubiquitous purple spots—or even seen celebs like Michael Phelps and Gwyneth Paltrow tout the wonders of CUPPING in the press.   So what is up with all of that bruising?   

This week we break down what exactly CUPPING is and WHY it’s all the rage among athletes!

WHAT EXACTLY IS CUPPING?

According to cupping expert Michael Mancuso, as quoted in People Magazine, “[Cupping is] a ‘suction cup-like tool’ used to apply negative pressure to a person’s underlying sore tissue.  The patient then moves into a position that stretches out that spot. The cups stay in place for about five to 10 minutes.”

https://cuppingresource.com/side-effects-cupping/

https://cuppingresource.com/side-effects-cupping/

WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY DURING CUPPING?

MindBody explains that cupping is almost like an ANTI massage: “Rather than applying pressure to muscles, the suction uses pressure to pull skin, tissue and muscles upward…the underlying tissue is raised, or sucked, partway into the cup.”   While you will get tissue relief with massage, cupping goes about targeting the tissue in a radically different way.

WHY ARE PEOPLE CUPPING?

According to Kevin Rindal, who works with USA Swimming and Michael Phelps specifically (as quoted in Time Magazine): “The intent [of cupping] is to minimize fascial restriction so the motion is more smooth..Instead of pushing down on muscle and fascia, as massage does, cupping pulls the layers of muscle and fascia apart, much like separating the layers of a flaky pastry, so fluid can flow more easily in between them to keep them well-oiled.” 

Or in more simple terms: ‘The purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove “heat” and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.”  So after hitting it hard at the gym, cupping can help recovery time.  Many believe that this process is very beneficial to functional fitness.

IS CUPPING SAFE?

According to Harvard Medical School, YES. “Most experts agree that cupping is safe. As long as those treated don’t mind the circular discolorations (which fade over a number of days or weeks), side effects tend to be limited to the pinch experienced during skin suction.” 

Worried about cupping impacting your upcoming workout?  Don’t sweat it! In fact, Men’s Journal explains: “Though cupping continues to have skeptics, it is growing in popularity with world-class athletes thanks in part to several studies that say it can provide short-term pain relief.”

https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/rio-olympics-2016-michael-phelps-olympians-cupping-spots

https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/rio-olympics-2016-michael-phelps-olympians-cupping-spots

SO WHY ALL THE BRUISING?

“The sucking causes small blood vessels under the skin to break, and a cup-shaped bruise to form,” explains Rachel Vreeman, MD, in Health Magazine.  And while it may look freaky or even painful, Freeman promises that it isn’t as bad as it seems: “Cupping basically feels like getting a hickey.”

IS CUPPING WORTH IT?

While every athlete is different, many people find cupping beneficial.   It’s true that there is not a lot of conclusive medical research on cupping (most scientific studies on the topic have been sited for being limited).  However according to Science Direct, “Cupping therapy, following a few thousand years of use, development and perfection, has been increasingly accepted by variety of cultures and people. Its application is extensive, its efficacy is good, its cost is low, and its easy application and safety without adverse side-effects resulted in many practitioners introducing cupping therapy into their practices.”

And most anecdotal evidence proves that cupping has major benefits.  Take this firsthand account from Elle Magazine’s Kristina Rodulfo: “Immediately after cupping, my upper back felt opened up, tension disappeared, and hours of slouching in front of a screen were undone. Post-workout soreness radiating from my lower back dissolved. Despite how gruesome it looked, my back didn’t feel terribly hurt, just a little tender in the following hours. That night, the marks darkened to a red-purple color that already started disappearing after one day. They should be gone completely within five days or less.”

Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on MIXING UP YOUR CARDIO

We all know that getting into an exercise routine is a good thing!  And while the gym is essential for strength and fitness, it’s always good to add cardio into the mix too!  The problem we’re seeing however, is that lots of people get into what we call “workout ruts”—routines that repeat the same activities over and over.  And it makes sense that people get into these grooves! If you’re a runner, you’re going to want to hit the trails all over Mount Pleasant and Charleston!  If you’re a rower, you’ll hit the water.  But what we’re seeing is that people are doing TOO MUCH of the same thing, which leads to fatigue and injury!

So this week we’re focusing on WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO MIX UP YOUR CARDIO!

Mixing up your Cardio—Helps you Lose those Last Few Pounds

One Medical quotes expert Arnold Lee, MD: “When you do the same activity all the time, your body gets used it and becomes very efficient.  Eventually, that adaptation will mean that you burn fewer calories even when you’re doing the same amount of exercise.

“The solution: Challenge you body in a way that it’s not used to. Your body will have to work harder as it adjusts to the new activity, which means that you’ll burn more calories when you work out. And don’t forget to eat sensibly; regular exercise and a healthy diet are both important for weight loss.”

Mixing up your Cardio—Helps Protect your Muscles and Joints

Health Magazine warns that doing too much of the same thing can cause injury.  They quote Joe Holder, a Nike trainer and a performance coach at S-10 Training in New York City: “Some  achiness (aka delayed onset muscle soreness) is normal, but this symptom shouldn’t be chronic. If you’re always sore, your body isn’t repairing properly. Recovery only happens when your muscles and nervous system get the nutrients and rest they need to adapt to fitness.”

So essentially, in order to get the most of your workouts, you need to alternate high and low intensity cardio to give your muscles and joints time to recover.

Mixing up your Cardio—Helps You Keep You Coming Back

Shape reminds us that it’s not just our body that can get bored with a workout.  They site Robert Sherman, a master trainer for Reebok University: “If you have a program that keeps surprising and taxing your body, you can avoid those plateaus — not to mention keep your fitness workouts from getting stale and boring.”  And we all know that if a workout becomes boring, it becomes a chore and we are a LOT less likely to want to do it.

Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on LACROSSE BALLS!

You may have seen them in the glass jar at the front of the gym or in fitness stores all over Mount Pleasant and Charleston…little orange and white rubber balls.  What are these colorful bouncy balls for and why are they EVERYWHERE?!?!?! 

Move over foam rollers!  This week we are talking about the AWESOME massaging power of Lacrosse Balls!!!

WHAT is so great about LAX Balls?

According to HealthLine, “Lacrosse balls can be used as a powerful massage device that can help relieve pain and improve function in sore muscles.

“Lacrosse ball massage is a form of self-myofascial release. Fascia, the thin sheath of connective tissue that covers all the muscles and organs of the body, is responsible for connecting muscle groups. When disrupted, it can cause pain and poor movement patterns.

Tight fascia can pull the body out of alignment and increase pressure on muscles and joints, causing pain. The goal of myofascial therapy is to stretch and loosen the fascia so the underlying tissue can move freely.”

So when you’re feeling tight and/or sore from a hard workout at the gym, these dense, concentrated balls of rubber can be used to free up that tight tissue.

HOW do I use a LAX Ball after my Workout?

Here are FIVE ways that our favorite experts recommend that you use an LAX ball to give yourself some tissue relief!

1. Soften your Shoulders

Shape Explains: “Positioning the ball in this area can be tricky, so place it in an old stocking or sock to give you more control. Stand tall with your back close to the wall. Hold the end of the stocking or sock with one hand and, allowing the ball to rest between you and the wall, position the ball directly over the stressed area. Press your back into the wall. You can rest the ball over the area or perform small circular motions until you start to feel relief.”

2. Give in to your Glutes

Runners World’s Matt McCue (no stranger to glute and hamstring challenges) recommends, “Another benefit to a lacrosse ball is that you can work out tight muscles without actually doing anything. I will often lie on my back and slide the ball under my glutes and lower back and roll around until I come across a sore spot. When I do, I let my body weight melt into the ball and allow the pressure to ease the muscle tension. I repeat this action two to three times for about 20 seconds each time. To get better leverage on my hamstrings, I like to sit in a dining room chair, place the ball under my legs and go through the same process.”

3. Free your Feet

Even if you aren’t an avid runner, spending time in the gym can wreak havoc on your peds.  Health Magazine has some LAX Ball tips to help: “Place the lacrosse ball on the ground. Stand on your right foot. Place your left foot—the ball of your left foot—on top of the ball. Put pressure and move back and forth. From here, you can go down toward you heel, over the arch, and over the side of the foot. Wherever you feel tension, focus on those areas, and make sure you do both feet.”

4. Hit your Hips

As LiveStrong points out, “Hip pain caused by trigger points can be easily treated by using a lacrosse ball. Lie on your side and place the ball under your hip. If your muscles are too tight, the ball cause too much pain at first. It may be easier to use a softer ball, such as a tennis ball or Hacky Sack, in the beginning, until your muscles become more relaxed. Locate painful points on your side hip and move your body around to massage and release these points.”  But LS experts Lucy Whyte Ferguson and Robert Gerwin advise that you should avoid the sciatic nerve to avoid worsening sciatic pain.

5. Quiet your Quads

While intense, nothing feels better than breaking up that charlie horse that forms after a heavy lifting session.  Well and Good explains how to give your self a post-gym release: “Lay on your right side and place the ball on the outer edge of your right quad in the center of the leg. From there, move the body so the ball is moving in a side-to-side, left-to-right motion. The goal is to let the ball sit in that muscle and massage it out. There’s a lot of real estate so you have a lot to work with—start by pinpointing the tightest spot.”

Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp…Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on OUTDOOR EXERCISE!

Last week we talked all about why working out outside is good for you!  With all of the gorgeous spots around Mount Pleasant and Charleston to explore, there is no better place on EARTH to hit the ground running! This week we have our FIVE FAVORITE OUTDOOR EXERCISES.

Outdoor Exercise Idea #1: SUP!

Shape Magazine recommends taking it to the water: “Stand-up paddleboardinging (SUP) is an amazing way to tone your whole body without feeling like you’re exercising (Because it’s fun, but it’s not so easy.) Standing on a oversized long board, you use a paddle to navigate across flat, calm waters. Don’t be fooled by how easy it looks. SUP requires the use of your entire body, with a major emphasis on core stability and control. Former pro surfer Jodi Nelson describes it as ‘hiking on water,’ making it a great choice for anyone who wants to add some water to their workout routine without having to swim in it.”

Outdoor Exercise Idea #2: Break out the Bike!

WebMD reminds us why biking is the best: “Not only is bicycling an excellent cardiovascular exercise, but you can really explore your community by cycling to different neighborhoods or in parks, bike paths, or trails. Many people cycle to commute to work.  While running tends to target the hamstrings (the muscles in the back of your thighs), cycling uses the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of the thighs) more.”

The Today Show adds: “Riding a bike outdoors offers even more benefits than a stationary bike since you’ll have to balance, steer your bike and respond to changing terrain as you pedal. Cycling works your glutes, thighs and hamstrings as well as your core.”

Outdoor Exercise Idea #3: Take a Walk!

Health Magazine must have had Charleston in mind with their recommendation, to take a walking tour of your town: “Walking is an easy way to stay in shape because it requires only a pair of supportive shoes and it’s something you can do pretty much anywhere.  A fun way to spice up your workout is by signing up for a walking tour of your city or nearby historic area. You can learn something new while fitting in a workout!” 

Check out Charleston Sole Walking Tours for a great mix of exercise and history! 

Outdoor Exercise Idea #4: Beach It!

GQ, who quotes celebrity trainer, fitness, and nutrition coach Adam Rosante, recommends:  “Protect your joints while challenging your muscles with a series of beach sprints.  The sand is low-impact, saving your joints from the pounding they take on paved streets, but provides an additional resistance challenge, cranking up the intensity of your workout.”

And of course, be sure to checkout Andrew’s Beach Workout on select Saturdays! 

(We will announce these dates on FaceBook!).

Outdoor Exercise Idea #5:  Skating is GREAT!

LiveStrong has a bevy of great outdoor exercises in their article, 10 Outdoor Activities to Help Lose Weight,  But we love how this one rolls: “Inline skating and rollerskating give you a great cardio workout and strengthen your legs and core. Find a long smooth sidewalk nearby for your inline and rollerskating outings and make sure your roller-skates are equipped with outdoor wheels. Skateboarding is a tremendous workout even for beginners. Skateboarding requires a bit more practice and technique but greatly improves your balance.”

Not Crossfit, Better than Bootcamp, Duffy’s Ultimate Functional Fitness on EXERCISING OUTDOORS!

We DUFFNATICS love our gym.  There is no better place to sweat it out when you’re in group fitness classes, working the weights or using our equipment. BUT with all of this gorgeous weather hitting the LowCountry, we’re dedicating this week’s blog to reasons why EXERCISING OUTDOORS is GREAT FOR YOU!

There are countless amazing places to break a sweat all over Mount Pleasant and Charleston, so read on to get inspired to take it OUTSIDE!

Exercising outside is A BREATH OF FRESH AIR…LITERALLY

LiveStrong explains, “Inhaling fresh air helps clear your lungs and enables you to take deeper, longer breaths of air — which increases the amount of oxygen that’s transported to your body’s cells. Increased oxygen in your body translates to greater energy and clarity of mind.” 

Exercising outside GIVES YOU A DOES OF D

Everyday Health adds to the health benefits of working out in the daylight: “Scientists recommend outdoor exercise as a way to get your vitamin D through sunlight. This is especially important if you are overweight — a recent study found that people who are overweight are almost twice as likely to be deficient in vitamin D.”

Exercising outside BRIGHTENS YOUR MOOD

Time Magazine consulted Dr. Pamela Peeke, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and author of Fit to Live:  “Nothing makes you feel more childlike than being outdoors.  You’re modulating stress hormones, increasing endorphins and increasing the secretion of serotonin.”  And as the article explains, the higher your levels of serotonin, the brighter your mood.

Exercising outside SHAKES THINGS UP

Take it from Active, who explains that variety is the spice of life—even in your workouts: “Unpredictability is essential for the human spirit. When you exercise outside, every day the environment is a little bit different. Even if you work out at the same park, chances are the weather and surroundings will never be quite the same as they were the day before.”

Exercising outside can MAKE YOU SMARTER

Women’s Health consulted Jo Barton, Ph.D., the lead author of a 2011 study that analyzed the mental health of 53 people who were involved in indoor or outdoor activities for six weeks:  ”Humans were hunter-gatherers and farmers for some 300,000 generations; have been industrialized for only six to eight, so we are outdoor animals living largely inside. Closeness to nature increases our well-being—it has an immunizing effect by protecting us from future stresses and helping us concentrate and think more clearly.”

Exercising outside BURNS MORE CALORIES

And leave it to Cosmo to get down to brass tacks.  They quote Simon Cowen, Fitness First PT Ambassador who explains: “Resistance from the wind when running or cycling outdoors means you often burn more calories than if you were indoors.  And slopes and uneven ground make your body work harder as it has to respond to the unknown.  So, basically, doing nothing different but taking your workout outside makes it LOADS more effective.”

For ideas on GREAT OUTDOOR EXERCISES check out next week’s blog!

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