What Can Squats Do For You?

Exercise plays a vital role in mental, emotional and pysical health, disease reduction, and endurance. And adding squats to your fitness routine has many benefits! Here’s what you could be missing out on without squats.

***The following is based on my research and experience.***

Benefits of Squats

  • Builds Muscle Throughout Your Body

Not only do squats help build leg muscles – quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves – but they can trigger the release of testosterone hormone, promoting body-wide muscle building.

  • Makes Real-Life Activities Easier

Squats are known as a functional exercise to help the body perform real-life activitites, as opposed to operating gym equipment. When building muscle through squats, this action is helping your muscles to work more efficiently if the exercise is done properly. Squats also promote mobility and balance.

  • Burn More Fat

While cardio helps burn body fat, so does gaining more muscle! As muscle is put on, your body will burn more calories.

  • Prevent Injuries

Strong legs are important for mobility as age progresses and squats are great for increasing leg strength. In addition to improvement in mobility, squats improve balance which can prevent injuries such as falls. Most injuries involve weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues. Squats can help strengthen these areas while increasing flexibilty in your ankles and hips.

 

How To Do A Proper Squat

From experience, squats can hurt your knees but they can improve knee stability if done correctly.

  1. Warm up
  2. Stand with your feet just over shoulder width apart
  3. Keep your back in a neutral position and knees centered over your feet (do not arch your back!)
  4. Slowly bend your knees, hips and ankles, lowering until reaching a 90-degree angle
  5. Rise and return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2-3 sets.
  6. Breathe in as you lower down and breathe out as you return to starting position

 

 

A break in your workout routine causing you troubles?

Over the past week I was not allowed to move much due to doctor’s orders. Therefore, that meant no weights, no cardio, and no stretching. I basically sat on a couch for a week until now.

A week out of my workout routine can change a person’s motivation or frustruation. Now, I feel antsy to get back in the gym. While a break can be good sometimes, being told you’re not allowed to do anything can be frustrating. Sometimes I began to feel gross sitting all the time, but I was able to compensate by concentrating on what I was eating. In my opinion, for a healthy body, eating is 70% of the process, while exercise is 30%.

If motivation is lacking for anyone, this picture quote easily boosted my desire to workout.

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Wrist Pain in Yoga?

Do you enjoy the calmness of practicing yoga? But hate the wrist pains you feel during or after?

Over the past several months, I have incorporated yoga into my workout routines. While my mind is calm when practicing the breathing techiques, I’ve experienced wrist soreness and pain.

I always wondered how I can train myself to avoid applying pressure on my wrists and distribute the pressure throughout my palm and fingers but I didn’t know how to until this picture:

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I’ve tried practicing this on a couch and then eventually on the floor once these pressure techniques became memory. I am still practicing it because I find that I still have wrist pains when doing planks or core exercises since I forget where to apply the pressure.

Let me know if this works for you! I hope you can get rid of your wrist pains in yoga too.

Enjoy your day!

Feeling unmotivated or frustrated?

While I enjoy working out and knowing that I am working towards a goal, it gets hard to keep persisting everyday. My goal is to lose some of the fat under my arms, behind my legs, and the layer on my stomach. But not only do I want to lose the fat, I want to tone my arms, core, and lower body. So basically you can say everything! LOL!

Working out is not the only thing that matters when achieving your goals, it is making sure to eat properly. But of course, it is easier said than done. Over the past few weeks I felt motivated to reach my goals but the last two weeks I became frustrated.

Seeing results takes more than two weeks so this is where we have to remind ourselves what we are working towards. I felt frustrated because I wasn’t sure if I was working out properly. I do cardio and total body weights three times a week and a rest day for stretching. Although I know I am physically keeping up with my workout schedule, mentally I wish there were more results.

Eating healthy is probably the hardest of all because I find it difficult to know when to eat what or how much. Researching isn’t that easy also because there are so many opinions or recommendations. And having a craving for desserts is difficult to surpress without binging.

Overall, persistance is key. We can’t forget why we started working out and eating healthy. We can’t forget our end goal and get distrated and frustrated with slow progress.

 

Unexpected Findings…Jillian Michaels!

Last summer I visited lovely California. While venturing through Malibu I was having a weird desire to go to a fresh market for strawberries! As a Floridian I expected to find a small side-street market. What I ended up finding was so much more that I ever thought. It was a combination of small food boutiques that had smoothies, pet treats, fruits, desserts, and more. So here’s to say, I found more that just a small side-street market and more than just fresh strawberries!

While getting my hands on every sample available and buying more food than I probably should have purchased, I saw my mom looking at me with a strange and shocking look. After questioning her she told me that she was pretty such she saw Jillian Michaels. If you know me, then you know I watch and follow Jillian Michaels’ workout video if I can’t make it to the gym. And her videos always give me a killer workout.

After my mom told me she saw Jillian Michaels, my mom told me to go up to her and meet her. She looked like a normal shopper with her son but I felt intimidated because I knew she was more than a normal shopper! I then talked to the vendor and asked the vendor if she was really Jillian Michaels. The vendor said, “yes, go talk to her. She is really approachable!”

Nervous and excited my mom and I approached her and meeting her was amazing! Not only was she nice and listened to my rambling but she also kindly agreed to a picture!IMG_2863Never would I have thought my strawberry craving in Malibu would lead me to meeting someone I follow dearly for workouts!

 

Just Breathe

Over the past couple of years I tried a few yoga classes at my gym. I was not regimentated and only went when I felt like it. However, over the past several months I started going at least once a week. Generally, I love the feeling of stretching but now I love the feeling of laying on my back and doing nothing but breathing deeply with eyes closed.

Stretching is a necessity for muscles to lose tension and grow; however, it also helps calm the mind. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines “asana” as “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed.” However, there is more to yoga than the physical aspects. 

Pranayama. Prana means breath sustaining the body. Ayama means to extend or draw out. Togehter, pranayama means breath extension or control. While Asana is medidation on the body, pranayama is mediation on the mind and breath.

There are many ways to breathe such as breathing through one nostril or quick fast inhalations and exhalations. However, my favorite is laying down on my back and inhaling for 10 seconds and exhaling for 10 seconds. Yogis and yoginis teach us to be aware of our breath during yoga. In contrast, I tend to forget to focus on my breathing during a class so sometimes just laying there can help us become more aware.

Research shows that breathing practices help decrease stress and reduce pain. It also can improve our sleep. Thus, breathing practices are powerful and you never know how much you can appreciate these 5 minutes.

What kind of breathing practices do you enjoy? Please share.

 

Stomach fat not budging? – Ab Workout

Does anyone else wish they could get rid of the extra fat on their stomach? Does anyone feel the motivation to do an ab workout one day and then the next day they lose that motivation?

I have never had abs that show. Of course, I know my stomach muscles are there but there is a layer of fat that covers them. Some days I feel so jung-ho to do some ab exercises but that motivation does not last very long and I’m back to feeling frustrated and hopeless.

However (!!!), after going to strengthening classes at my college’s gym I have found the perfect way to get that ab workout in without feeling like I have to plank all day long.

The workout is a total of 7 minutes consisting of 13 different ab exercises with 30 second intervals. Honestly, it is not a workout that can be done once a week. For results to eventually show this 7 minute workout has to be done everyday. Sometimes I do it even after I’m showered and in my PJs because I do not want to lose the routine.

So here it is:

30 sec – crunches (with knees bent and feet on floor)

30 sec – crunches (with legs in air and knees bent 90 degrees)

30 sec – reverse crunches (legs in air at 90 degree angle, crunch lower abs to push legs up)

30 sec – straight leg ups

30 sec – 6 in hold (raise legs 6 inches off the floor and HOLD for dear life)

30 sec – alternative heel touches

30 sec – russian twists (eventually had a hand weight to increase strength)

30 sec – sit ups (with knees bent and feet on floor)

30 sec – sit ups (with legs straight out and resting on floor)

30 sec – windshield wipers

30 sec – vertical toe touches

30 sec – scissors

1 min – plank (it is possible!)

I introduced this routine to some of my friends and we laughed and groaned throughout it all. Try doing it with a friend or a family member! But do not give up! Persistence will give you the results you want, just think of the goal and the bigger picture.