Exercise Band Workouts for Your Hips and Thighs

The hips and thighs are difficult to slim and trim, second only to trimming belly fat. You can squat, lunge and extend and still have not get the results you want. Adding an elastic exercise band to your workout might be just the thing that helps improve your workout. Adding extra resistance to your exercise routine improves the effectiveness of your workout. To burn fat, you have to reduce your calories and do aerobic exercise, such as running, jogging, swimming or bicycling.  Do strength training exercises to improve your muscle tone and to add lean muscle mass while strengthening your muscles.

You can find exercise bands in most sporting goods stores or even at your local gym.  They are generally inexpensive, compared to other exercise equipment, and come in a variety of strengths. Beginners should start using bands that offer the least resistance and gradually move to more resistant bands as your strength increases. You can find bands that have handles or no handles. You can attach them to a door frame or a permanent wall anchor. Circular bands that wrap around your ankles or thighs are great for working your lower body while leaving your hands free.

Wrap a circular band around your ankles and lie down on the floor to do band leg extensions. Lie on your back with your legs extended. Squeeze your abs and lift one leg straight up toward the ceiling, stretching the band as you lift your leg. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds and then lower your leg back to the floor. Do 10 to 15 repetitions on each side. As your legs grow stronger, hold the lift up to 10 seconds or do more repetitions. Increase the resistance or the number of repetitions when you can do 12 repetitions without experiencing muscle failure.

Increase the effectiveness of your regular set of squats by adding a medium resistance exercise band. You can use two bands, one secured to each leg, or stand on one long band and hold each end in your hands. Move to your squat position and hold the handles of the exercise band with your palms up (or wrap the band around your hands) until there is slight tension on the bands. Push yourself up from the squat but keep your hands about waist level with your elbows bent and your palms upward. This exercise will not only add resistance to your lower body workout, it is also a great way to strengthen your arms and shoulders. Do 10 to 15 repetitions and then rest for one minute before doing another set of 10 to 15 squats.

Have a seat for this next exercise that will work your inner and outer thighs. Sit in a sturdy chair without arms and wrap an exercise band around your legs just above your knees. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Spread your knees apart pushing against the resistance band. Hold the position for 2 seconds and then relax. Repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.

Pumping Iron Over 60

Shustov CC-BY-SA-3.0

If you’re over 60 and you’ve decided to start lifting weights, you’ll enjoy many health benefits, including stronger muscles and bones. You can strengthen your body using free weights, such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells. Beginners, no matter your age, should start slowly with light weights and focus on proper form to reduce your risk of injury. You should seek instruction by a qualified fitness trainer if you decide not to use a gym. See your doctor for a complete checkup before you start any exercise program. Always warm-up before working out and cool-down afterward.

Beginners should design a workout routine that works all your muscle groups in 2 workouts each week. Don’t lift weights on consecutive days because your muscles need at least one day to rest and recover. Train a different muscle group at each workout to avoid overuse injuries. Work your upper body one day and your core and lower body at the next workout. Lift slowly and focus on your form. Improper form or lifting too quickly can cause injuries. Begin by doing 8 repetitions of each exercise followed by 1 minute of rest. Do another set of 8 repetitions after you rest. Increase the number of repetitions, the number of sets, or the amount of weight when you can do 3 sets without becoming fatigued.

You can use dumbbells to work your upper and lower body. Dumbbell squats work your core, hips, quadriceps and calves. Shoulder shrugs work your arms, shoulders and upper back. Biceps curls are easy for beginners to perform and work your biceps and forearms. If you really want to focus on your upper body and chest, do dumbbell overhead press exercises. Simply holding a set of dumbbells when you do exercise, such as lunges and crunches, adds extra weight resistance.

Barbells are versatile free weights that train the most muscle tissue in the shortest amount of time. People over age 60 should start working with barbell weights slowly with light weights and focus intently on form. Never hold your breath when lifting weights because holding your breath can cause your blood pressure to increase rapidly. Squats, deadlifts and presses are functional lifts that mimic the movements you make when you reach, lift, bend over, sit down and stand up. You can easily add and remove weight to a barbell to suit your fitness and strength level.

Kettlebells are large, heavy weights with a handle. These weights can be used in a number of ways to help strengthen your entire body. Begin with the lightest kettlebells available and gradually work your way up to heavier weights. Kettlebells can be used to work your entire body. Exercises that beginners can do include the half Turkish get up, kettlebell squats, deadlifts, and two-arm swings. Do 8 repetitions of each exercise, rest for as long as you need to and repeat the set.

 

Is Weight Training For You?

Maybe you watch people at the gym, huffing, puffing, grunting and sweating at the weight machines or free weights and think, “No way I want to do that!” You’re not sure you would benefit from lifting weights, especially since you have no desire to look like a body builder.

Credit: LocalFitness.com.au

You can benefit from lifting weights even if you do it only a couple of times each week. Weight training can help improve your muscle tone, build lean muscle mass and help you lose weight. No matter how old or young you are, weight training is good for you.

As we age, we lose muscle mass. Lost muscle will be replaced by flabby fat if you don’t do something to rebuild lost muscle. Muscle tissue requires more energy to function than other tissues, therefore it uses more calories. Your metabolism will increase slightly as you gain muscle and burn fat. Increased muscle mass also means your endurance will improve. You will be able to work your muscles harder for a longer period of time. Weight training stresses your muscles causing them to adapt, which makes them grow stronger.

Start with a weight that you can lift, but tires your muscles after 10 to 12 repetitions. Beginners should start with one set of 8 to 10 repetitions of any lifting exercise. You should be barely able to lift the weight on the last repetition.  When you can do 12 repetitions without fatigue, increase the weight by adding 2 to 5 pounds.

Learn proper lifting technique before you grab the dumbbells. A fitness trainer can help you learn the correct way to lift so that you enjoy the benefits of weight training while reducing your risk of injury. Don’t forget to warm-up before lifting. Do some light exercise, such as brisk walking or calisthenics.

Rest one full day between weight training workouts. Your muscles need at least one full day to repair and recover. You can work your core, legs and thighs one day, and then your arms, chest, shoulders and upper back on the next day. Your workout can be as long as you feel comfortable exercising. You can exercise for 15 minutes, 20 minutes or longer. Adjust your workout to suit your strength, overall level of fitness and your time schedule.

 

Kettlebell Workout for Your Back

USAF Public Domain

Heavy weights are not just for the fellows. Women can definitely benefit from weight exercises without worrying about growing bulging muscles. Kettlebells are easier to use than you might think. Momentum is the key to a successful kettlebell workout. Grab a pair and swing your way to a firmer, stronger body by the time Spring is over. You can snatch, press, swing and row your way to a firm, toned back with kettlebells. A good kettlebell workout will include 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Kettlebell swings can be done with one arm or two. You should start with a two-arm swing and move up to a one-arm swing when your upper back and arms are stronger. Kettlebell rows are similar to dumbbell rows. The kettlebell clean is an advanced movement that requires a degree of coordination that can come only with training and practice. Deadlifts are easy but effective to strengthen your arms, shoulders, back and legs. The Turkish get-up exercises improves your functional strength, while emphasizing load balance as you lie down on the floor and then stand up again while holding a kettlebell over your head.

 Kettlebell exercises are generally whole body workouts, but some exercises work your back muscles more than others. Alternating kettlebell rows, renegade rows, one-arm and two-arm rows target your back muscles. Grab a couple of kettlebells and bend over at the waist until your back is parallel to the floor. To do alternating kettlebells, lift one kettlebell upward toward your chest by bending your left elbow and extend your right arm toward the floor. Alternate by lowering your left arm and lifting the kettlebell with your right arm. Renegade rows are more advanced. Extend your body in a push-up position. Place your hands on the handles of two kettlebells. Alternate lifting one kettlebell up toward your shoulder and then lowering it back to the floor. Remember to exercise both arms by switching sides when doing one-arm swings or rows.

Kettlebells aren’t just for the hulks in the gym. The uninitiated can definitely benefit from kettlebell exercises. You will get a better core and back workout with kettlebells than with any other type of free weight because the kettlebell weight is off center. This makes your core work harder and it challenges every muscle in your body. According to the American Council on Exercise (ace.org), you will burn up to 272 calories in a mere 20 minutes while strengthening your muscles. Swings, cleans and snatches are easy, but effective exercises that beginners can do on the first day. Overhead presses, rows and windmills are also an option for beginners. Start with a lighter weight, about 5 to 10 pounds and gradually add more weight or do more repetitions.

 Warm-up your muscles before you grab a 25-pound kettlebell and start swinging. A thorough warm-up will reduce your risk of injuring your cold muscles and joints. Five to 10 minutes of light cardio should be enough to get your heart rate up and start you sweating. Stretch your muscles before you start doing kettlebell workouts to increase your flexibility and improve your range of motion. After your cardio and stretching warm-up make sure your shoulders, arms, neck and back are ready for the weights. Do some kettlebell exercises using a light weight to get your muscles ready for a more vigorous workout with the heavy weights.

Weight Training Won’t Bulk You Up – Unless You Want It To

Photo Credit: roonb

Stop running from the weight bench and put down those girly pink dumbbells! Weight exercises are good for you and won’t turn you into the Hulk. Weight exercises won’t make your muscles bulky unless your goal is to bulk up and build bulging biceps. Weight exercises will help tone and firm your muscles, increase your ability to burn fat and improve your bone health. So, grab some weights and get strong. There is a difference between weight training to get stronger and weight training to build bulky muscles. To get stronger without building big muscles, lift light weights for many repetitions, roughly 12 to 15 repetitions. Build bulky muscles by lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions. By changing the way you work out when doing weight exercises, you can target different types of muscle fibers. Heavy weight with few repetitions targets your type II muscle fibers for bulk, while lighter weights with more repetitions targets your type I muscles fibers for muscular endurance.

Weight exercises benefit your body, even if you aren’t trying to build muscle. Lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, and resistance exercises help reduce the risk and symptoms of chronic illness and disease, including osteoporosis, arthritis and diabetes. Strong muscles, especially in your back and core, help improve your balance to prevent falls. Post-menopausal women are at risk for weakened bones due to loss of bone mass. Weight training can help reduce bone loss and can even improve bone mass. Muscle tissue is very efficient at using glucose for fuel to help keep your blood sugar levels under control and reduce your risk of diabetes.

You will have to spend hours in the gym, take supplements and eat high protein diet if you want to build bulky muscles. It’s difficult for women to build huge muscles like men because women lack sufficient testosterone to build muscle mass. Your lack of testosterone along with your DNA determine how you build muscles. Mesomorphs, or muscular body types, are more likely to build bulky muscles than endomorphs, or those with rounder, curvy bodies. Ectomorph body types are slimmer and leaner than either mesomorphs or endomorphs. No matter what your body type, you will benefit from weight training by becoming stronger.

In addition to exercise, your nutrition and body type will help determine whether you build muscle and how big your muscles will grow. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org), you should eat 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day when lifting weights if you want to build muscle. This amounts to up to 20 percent of your daily caloric intake. Eating more protein won’t build bigger muscles. Even if you don’t want bulky muscles, your body still needs protein to repair and build new muscle after a workout.

Nutrition Before, During & After Exercise

Photo Credit: Evan-Amos CC0 1.0 PD
Athletes who train every day and the weekend walker and everyone in between needs hydration and nutrition to stay energized and get the most from their workout. Fueling your body before and during a workout can give you that extra edge. Eating the right things after a workout provides the nutrients and trace elements your body needs to repair and recover. Should you eat some of energy bars, chug a sports drink between exercises or can you get all the nutrition and energy you need from a balanced diet? 
Before exercise, the best foods for strength, endurance and energy will contain carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates fuel your body and protein is necessary to repair and maintain muscle. Carbohydrates and protein are found in lean meats, whole grain breads, pasta, rice, many fruits and vegetables. A good pre-exercise meal will be low in fat, low in fiber but contain a moderate amount of carbohydrates and protein. Too much fiber will fill you up and make you feel a little sluggish. Drink a large glass of water with your pre-workout meal and drink a second glass of water just before you start to exercise. A sports drink that contains electrolytes and trace nutrients is a good idea if you plan to exercise for 1 hour or longer. 

During your workout it’s a good idea to have a light snack between exercises or during a break in the action if you are playing a sport. Eat a few slices of apple, orange or some grapes to replenish your body’s supply of natural sugars and antioxidants. Refuel your muscles with some carbohydrates available in low-fat cheese slices and whole grain crackers. A handful of granola, some dried fruit or a cup of fruit juice are also good choices to re-energize your body. 

After your workout, you need to replenish the nutrients your body needs to repair and recover. Your muscles need protein to repair and grow, as well as complex carbs to refuel your muscles for the next workout. Lean meats, eggs, whole grain pasta and breads, low-fat dairy  foods, beans and rice are good sources of protein. 
Muscles need protein for recovery and growth, and the best time to deliver protein appears to be right after exercise. Providing high-quality protein after exercise gives your muscles the fuel and the building blocks needed for both repair and for growth. A protein shake can also replenish your body’s store of protein. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to stay hydrated. 

Effective Stability Ball Exercises

Photo Credit: LocalFitness.com

 

An exercise ball is a great way to develop your core strength, back and spine strength and improve your balance. Exercise balls can make exercise fun while you get in shape. Just sitting on an exercise ball will help develop your core strength and balance. Because the ball rolls around you are forced to engage your abdominal muscles and sit up straight to keep the ball stable. As the ball tries to roll underneath your body, you respond by moving your core and tightening your leg muscles, first the left then the right, to keep the ball stable. Try some more difficult exercise ball exercises to get a really good workout for your core, back and shoulder muscles.
Crunches on an exercise ball are moderately easy to perform but will fully engage all of your core and back muscles. Lie back on the ball with the ball under the middle of your back. Keep your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Cross your arms over your chest to prevent you from pulling yourself up using your hands behind your head. When you feel stable on the ball, lift your upper body up using your abdominal muscles. Avoid the urge to pull yourself up using your neck.
The bridge is an effective exercise to strengthen your back, chest, core and leg muscles. Begin by sitting on the exercise ball with your arms crossed over your chest. Slowly walk outward one step at a time while rolling the ball under your body. Roll the ball back toward your upper back until the top of your body forms a flat line from your hips to your chest. Make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. The upper leg, back and chest should form a straight line that is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then roll back to the sitting position.
Push-ups are more effective with an exercise ball. Lie across the ball on your abdomen. Place your palms on the floor about shoulder width apart. Walk forward until the ball is resting underneath your thighs. Keep your feet together and your spine straight. Lower your upper body toward the floor by bending your elbows and then push back up.  Do 10 push-ups and increase the number of push-ups as your body grows stronger.