Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Plank Challenge

I found this challenge on the Women's Daily Magazine website! We all need to challenge our bodies and change up routines once in a while. Some people like to daily. Here is an option if you would like to challenge yourself for 28 days. 
Planks work out just about every muscle in your body and one time.
Accept this challenge and get your body into shape.
“Endurance” is one of the most efficient exercises for toning your body. These exercises melt fat and strengthen the muscles on your back, stomach, butt, arms and legs.
If you want to have a supermodel’s body, then start doing our challenge!
The “Plank Challenge”
You need to do the plank challenge for 4 weeks. You’ll start by 20 seconds and by the end of the last week, you should be able to be in a plank position for 4 minutes.
The most important thing in doing the plank is being in the right position. You need to keep your body in a straight line if you want to see results. Take deep breaths while you’re doing the plank and focus on keeping your body straight.
Once you’re in the right position, you’re ready to take on the “Plank Challenge”!
Day 1 – 20sec.
Day 2 – 20sec.
Day 3 – 30sec.
Day 4 – 30sec.
Day 5 – 40sec.
Day 6 – rest
Day 7 – 45sec.
Day 8 – 45sec.
Day 9 – 60sec.
Day 10 – 60sec.
Day 11 – 60sec.
Day 12 – 90sec.
Day 13 – rest
Day 14 – 90sec.
Day 15 – 90sec.
Day 16 – 120sec.
Day 17 – 120sec.
Day 18 – 150sec.
Day 19 – rest
Day 20 – 150sec.
Day 21 – 150sec.
Day 22 – 180sec.
Day 23 – 180sec.
Day 24 – 210sec.
Day 25 – rest
Day 26 – 210sec.
Day 27 – 240sec.
Day 28 – As long as you can

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Running Injuries FYI

So you have began to run... Unfortunately sometimes running can take a toll on our bodies. |Here are some common injuries runners can get. Educate yourself. The people at Map My Fitness make it easy to do just that.

Most runners have as many injury stories as they do training shoes in their closets. In fact, it may seem as though you can’t truly call yourself a runner unless you have an orthopedic surgeon or a physical therapist on speed dial. The sport’s simplicity— its repetitive and weight-bearing nature—also accounts for its tendency to damage the body.
The bad news about these injuries is that they are often hard to avoid. The good news? They’re totally treatable. Here, we break down the most common running ailments—and how to avoid them.
Note: As with any health issue, it’s important you speak with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. What follows is general advice that may or may not apply to your specific ailment.
Shin Splints
  • The definition: An aching pain in the front of the lower leg.
  • The causes: Usually, shin splints are brought on by an increase in mileage. A change of running surface or speed—especially over-striding—can also strain the lower leg tendons.
  • The symptoms: Tight calf muscles and tender shin bones that tend to flare up post-run.
  • The treatment: Ice, ice baby: Grab a bag of frozen peas and place it on the irritated spot a few times a day to reduce inflammation. Calf and Achilles stretches will also help to loosen up the lower leg muscles and reduce the strain on your shins. You may need to stop running altogether for a week or two if the pain is severe.
  • Avoid it: New to running? Don’t overdo it. Gently increase your mileage by just 10 percent every week, and stick to softer surfaces, like grass or a bouncy track, which are more forgiving than rock-hard pavement.
Plantar Fasciitis
  • The definition: Inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick tissue covering the bones on the bottom of the foot.
  • The causes: Trauma (stepping on a sharp object or otherwise straining your foot), overuse, inflexible calf muscles, over-pronation (your foot rolls inward when you run), high arches and incorrect shoes.
  • The symptoms: Pain at the base of the heel, which is more intense when you’re barefoot. Pain is often most severe in the mornings or at the start of a run.
  • The treatment: Ice, physical therapy and the addition of orthotics—supportive shoe inserts that an orthopedist can help you select. Rolling the afflicted foot over a tennis ball or a massage bar for 30 minutes a day, and stretching your calf can also relieve the pain.
  • Avoid it: Wear supportive shoes, especially when you’re not running. Flimsy flip flops that lack arch support are a main culprit of PF, so if you must wear sandals, opt for something studier, like Birkenstocks.
Chondromalacia Patella or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
  • The definition: A softening or wearing away and cracking of the cartilage under the kneecap, resulting in pain and inflammation.
  • The causes: Weak thigh muscles, instable hips, tight hamstrings or Achilles tendons, usually brought on by insufficient stretching, overpronation and overtraining.
  • The symptoms: Nagging aches in the knee, especially during longer training runs. May also present itself as tightness in the adductor muscle in your upper thigh or groin.
  • The treatment: Rest, ice and strength work: Studies show that a lack of hip stability, especially among women, is directly linked to the development of runner’s knee.
  • Avoid it: Take the time to incorporate stretching and strength training into your routine (especially hip- and core-strengthening exercises). Balancing your running with cross-training (think: the elliptical machine or a stationary bike) a few times a week will give your legs a much-needed break from the pounding.
Iliotibial (IT) Band Friction Syndrome
  • The definition: Pain and inflammation on the outside of the knee, where the iliotibial band (a group of fibers that run along the outside of the thigh) turns into tougher, less flexible tendon tissue. When the band rubs against the femur (thigh bone) as it runs alongside the knee joint, it can become irritated and inflamed.
  • The causes: Overuse, faulty biomechanics and weak hips and glutes.
  • The symptoms: Pain and soreness in the middle of the IT band, which may increase to a more severe, even debilitating, pain at the outside of the knee.
  • The treatment: Rest, deep tissue massage, foam rolling along the outside of the leg, hips and hamstrings. Strength exercises like leg lifts and squats are key for targeting weak hips and glutes.
  • Avoid it: Use a foam roller regularly after your runs to loosen up tight muscles. Scale back on the miles as soon as you feel a twinge of pain along the IT band. The injury can go quickly from bad to worse, so responding immediately with rest can lead to a faster recovery.
Achilles Tendonitis
  • The definition: Inflammation, irritation and swelling of the Achilles tendon (the tendon that connects the muscles of the calf to the heel).
  • The cause: Over-pronation, over-training, excessive speed work and tight or fatigued calf muscles.
  • The symptoms: Pain along the back of the tendon, inflexibility in the ankle or redness and swelling in the afflicted area. Hearing a crackle when you move your ankle—the sound of scar tissue rubbing against the tendon— is another indicator of Achilles tendonitis.
  • The treatment: Rest until the pain is gone as well as a steady routine of icing (up to 30 minutes several times a day) and calf stretching. Wrapping your foot or inserting a foam wedge heel pad in your shoe can also boost support and speed up the healing process.
  • Avoid it: Gradually increase your mileage, wear supportive shoes, and keep your calfs strong and flexible by doing toe-raises and stretching regularly. And if you’re prone to sore Achilles, avoid activities that add extra stress to the area, like hill running.

Sarah Wassner Flynn
Sarah Wassner Flynn
A longtime runner and triathlete, Sarah Wassner Flynn has been able to blend her passions for endurance sports and writing into a freelance career. She’s covered everything from profiles on Olympic gold medalists to tips on training for your first 5K for numerous media outlets. When she’s not writing about races, Sarah is usually training or competing in one. She also writes kid’s and teen nonfiction books and articles for National Geographic andGirls’ Life Magazine. Sarah lives just outside of Washington, D.C. with her husband, Mark, and their three children. Follow her on Instagram (@athletemoms) and Twitter (@athletemoms).

So you want to Run to lose weight? What you need to know...

Another great article from My Fitness Pal website. Everything you need to know about running if you're looking to do it to lose weight...

Running is a great way to lose weight. Countless women and men have shed excess pounds and kept them off with the aid of this simple form of exercise. Success is not guaranteed, however. A sensible diet plan is an essential complement to running for weight loss.
Understanding the most effective ways to run for weight loss before you start will help you avoid common mistakes—and get you the results you want.
running for weight loss subhead 1
There is a widely held belief that exercise—including running—is not an effective tool for weight loss. This belief comes from studies showing that overweight women and men fail to lose much weight when given a structured exercise program to follow. In a recent review, scientists involved in this line of research concluded: “Unless the overall volume of aerobic exercise training is very high, clinically significant weight loss is unlikely to occur.”
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for running to lose weight! However, in the real world, the vast majority of people who lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off are exercisers. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) researched a population whose members have all lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off at least one year. Ninety percent of these individuals report exercising regularly, and the average member burns more than 2,600 calories a week in workouts.
If exercise is so ineffective for weight loss, as the scientists say, then why do almost all of those who are most successful at weight loss exercise? The answer appears to be that while exercise is not as effective as dietary changes in stimulating initial weight loss, it is wonderfully effective in preventing weight regain.
As you probably know, most people who lose weight gain it all back. But studies involving NWCR members and others have demonstrated that exercisers are much less likely to yo-yo. So unless you are interested only in temporary weight loss, you should change your diet and exercise.
There’s another benefit to combining diet changes with exercise when you’re trying to lose weight. When people lose weight through calorie restriction but without exercise, they tend to lose muscle along with body fat. But when they change their diet and exercise, they preserve muscle and lose more fat.
Many kinds of exercise can be effective for weight loss, but running is among the most effective. In a 2012 study, Paul Williams of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that runners were leaner and lighter than men and women who did equivalent amounts of any other type of exercise. The main reason seems to be that people typically burn more calories per minute when running than they do when swimming, riding a bike, or whatever else.
running for weight loss subhead 2
No matter which form of exercise you choose, it’s important to ease into your new exercise program. Increase the challenge level of your workouts gradually to lower injury risk and get the best results. This is especially true for running. As a high-impact activity, running causes more overuse injuries than other forms of cardio exercise. Ironically, the risk of injury is greatest for heavier men and women who are likely to run specifically for weight loss.
Experts recommend that overweight men and women use these three rules to start a running program on the right foot:
running for weight loss rule 1
Walking is less stressful than running to the bones, muscles and joints of the lower extremities, yet it’s stressful enough to stimulate adaptations that make these areas stronger and more resilient. This makes walking a great tool to prepare your body for running.
Your early workouts may consist entirely of walking or a mix of walking and running, depending on how ready your body is for running. As the weeks pass, tip the balance further and further toward running until you are comfortable doing straight runs.
running for weight loss rule 2
Bones, muscles and joints need time to recover from and adapt to the stress of running. For most beginners, one day is not enough time for these tissues to come back stronger. So limit your running to every other day for at least the first several weeks of your program. If you wish to exercise more frequently, do walks or non-impact workouts, such as cycling, between run days.
running for weight loss rule 3
To continue getting results from your running program, you need to run more. But if you increase your running volume too quickly, you are likely to become injured or overtired. The 10 percent rule is a good guideline for sensible running increases. To practice it, simply avoid increasing your total running distance or time by more than 10 percent from one week to the next.
Here is a four-week example of a sensible way to ease into a running program:
running to lose weight training plan
running for weight loss subhead 3
In order to lose weight, you must maintain a daily calorie deficit. In other words, you need to burn more calories than you eat each day. There are two ways to do this: Eat less and move more. Running will help you maintain a calorie deficit by increasing the number of calories you burn. You can increase your calorie deficit and your rate of weight loss—at least in theory—by eating less also.
The problem is that running, like other forms of exercise, makes it difficult to eat less due to increasing appetite—something known as the compensation effect. This is the primary reason that exercise often fails to meet people’s expectations for weight loss.
Individual appetite responses to exercise are varied. Working out has little effect on hunger in some people and makes others ravenous. There’s not much you can do about it either way. If running does increase your appetite, you will probably eat more. What you can do to ensure that the compensation effect doesn’t stop you from reaching your goals is increase the quality of the foods you eat.
High-quality foods are less energy dense and more satiating than low-quality foods, so they fill you up with fewer calories. By increasing your overall diet quality, you can eat enough to satisfy your heightened appetite without putting the brakes on your weight loss. Here are lists of high-quality and low-quality foods, given in rough descending order of quality.
running to lose weight food chart
When you start your running program, make a simultaneous effort to eat fewer foods from the right-hand column and more from the left-hand column—especially from the top of this column. There is proof that it works. Earlier this year, Danish researchers reported that new runners seeking weight loss who ran more than 5 km (3.1 miles) per week for one year but did not change their diets lost an average of 8.4 pounds. Meanwhile, new runners seeking weight loss who ran more than 5 km (3.1 miles) per week for one year and did change their diets lost an average of 12.3 pounds.
running for weight loss subhead 4
Even 12.3 pounds of weight loss in one year might not seem like a lot. If your goal is bigger than that, there are two things you can do: Run more and eat less. Let me explain.
While it’s important to progress slowly, you can continue to progress with your running until you are doing as much as you can with the time, energy and motivation you have. If you are highly motivated, consider aiming for a long-term goal of building up to 60 minutes of running per day, six days per week. A 150-pound person who runs 10-minute miles will burn more than 4,000 calories per week on this schedule.
These additional increases in running will likely stimulate additional increases in appetite and eating. But chances are such compensations won’t cancel out your hard work. Research tells us that the average person eats roughly three extra calories for every 10 calories she or he burns through exercise.
As I mentioned above, increasing your diet quality will minimize the compensation effect. But if you’re already running as much as you can or wish, and you’ve already improved your diet quality and you’re still not losing weight as fast as you would like, there’s something else you can try: decrease the size of your meals by about one-fifth. Research by Brian Wansink of Cornell University has shown that people can eat about 20 percent less at meals without noticing the difference in terms of satiety. That’s because in our society we have been trained to eat beyond our natural satiety level. Just be sure to do this only after you have allowed your food intake to adjust to your increased amount of running.
running for weight loss subhead 5
The compensation effect isn’t all about increased appetite. For some people there’s also a reward effect at play. Too often, runners celebrate the completion of workouts by eating low-quality treats such as cookies and potato chips. In many cases, these treats contain more calories than were burned in the workout.
The best way to avoid this type of self-sabotage is to view your runs themselves as rewards rather than as chores to be gotten through and rewarded. A recent study by Brian Wansink found that people ate less than half as many M&M’s offered to them after a walk when they had been told before it that it was a “scenic walk,” compared to when they had been told it was an “exercise walk.”
As this study shows, the mindset that you bring to your running program is important. In fact, whatever your weight-loss goal may be, your number-one goal should be to enjoy running—or learn to enjoy it. That’s because you will only benefit from running if you keep doing it, and you will only keep doing it if you enjoy it.
For this reason, you should do whatever you need to do to enhance your enjoyment of running.Studies have shown that when people manipulate their workouts in ways that make them more fun, they are more likely to stick with their programs. If you enjoy running with music, run with music. If you prefer running with a friend or group, do that. If you like running in the park, run in the park. There’s really no wrong way to run for weight loss if you’re having fun.

Written by
Matt Fitzgerald
Matt Fitzgerald
Matt Fitzgerald is a certified sports nutritionist and author of Diets Cults and80/20 Running, among other books. He provides real-time audio coaching for runners and other athletes through and one-on-one nutrition coaching through

Choosing the Best Shoe for your workout

I found this article very helpful on the Map My Fitness website. Choosing the right shoe can make all of the difference!

Understanding the components that make up a shoe from the ground up can help you find the best footwear for your feet.
As barefoot running and the special barely-there footwear rose to prominence in recent years, the trend sparked many conversations about what we should and shouldn’t put on our feet. Along with challenging age-old philosophies about shoe prescription, it also put a spotlight on the pros and cons of shedding your shoes altogether.
Perhaps the biggest lesson we learned is that each one of us is highly individual. What works for your running buddy or walking partner may not for you.
Recent research suggests that feel is the best way to determine if a shoe is going to be the right one to support your active pursuits, and help prevent injuries.
“Comfort is the most important aspect of selecting shoes,” says Paul Langer, DPM, a Minneapolis-based podiatrist and author of Great Feet for Life. “Runners perform better and are less likely to get injured when they run in comfortable shoes.”
This fact is emphasized by the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, which asserts that certain generalizations can be made about shoe prescription by looking at someone’s “foot type,” but the majority of runners and walkers respond to shoes in highly individual ways. As a result, they recommend that you educate yourself on the anatomy of active footwear in order to make an educated guess on what might work best for you. Once you’ve honed in on a model you think is appropriate for your feet, you should rely on comfort as your guide.
We’ve put together a primer on the basic components that make up a shoe, as well as a few pieces of expert advice, so you can be an informed shopper. While a bit of trial and error is often involved in finding the best shoe, understanding a shoe’s makeup will help simplify the process. This, along with the guidance from an informed salesperson at a running and walking specialty store, can go a long way in keeping you healthy and achieving your fitness goals.
running shoe anatomy
Shoe Fit Tips
Outsole Fit Tip: Many running shops will recommend looking at the wear pattern of the outsole. In certain circumstances, unusual wear patterns can provide a piece to the puzzle of guiding someone to the best shoes for his or her feet.
Langer warns not to rely on this too much, however, saying, “A large percentage of runners wear the lateral aspect of the heel, and this is perfectly normal because 80-90% of runners are heel strikers and tend to land slightly on the lateral aspect when heel striking.” Put simply, if you’re wearing the outside portion of the outsole’s heel, this isn’t anything to fret about. With that said, other less common wear patterns may offer important information to an expert assisting you with shoe prescription.
Midsole Fit Tip: A shoe with stability built into the midsole is a good place to start for runners and walkers who overpronate, which means their feet roll inwards with each step. In most shoes, stability is provided via a multi-density foam built into the arch of the midsole to provide greater support and control of that inwards roll. For people who don’t overpronate, shoes with less support and more cushioning in the midsole is often most comfortable.
Upper Fit Tip: Some strategy should be involved with identifying an upper that will work for your feet. “The single-piece uppers that utilize thermoplastic overlays and welded seams instead of multiple-piece uppers with lots of stitching are much better at minimizing pressure points,” explains Langer. If you have bunions, hammertoes, or other boney prominances on your feet that may rub the wrong way, be sure to pay attention to where the upper’s overlays hit those spots. While the color of the upper is also often a consideration, design and comfort will always win out a few miles down the road.

written by

Mackenzie Lobby
Mackenzie Lobby Havey is a freelance journalist and coach based in Minneapolis. She contributes to a variety of magazines and websites including,,, Runner’s World and Triathlete Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, and is a USA Track and Field certified coach. When she’s not writing, she’s out biking, running, and cross-country skiing around the city lakes with her dog.

Friday, 26 September 2014

The 5 Best Ab Exercises and The Ones That Waste Your Time

A flatter stomach is one of the most common fitness goals, so it’s no surprise that there are more abdominal exercises and contraptions for achieving a tighter stomach than there are excuses to skip your workout. But not all ab exercises are created equal. In fact, many are simply a waste of workout time. A study conducted at the San Diego State University Biomechanics Lab examined the electromyography (EMG) activity results garnered by popular core exercises. Here’s how they stacked up:
Don’t waste your time with:
1. The basic crunch
Why: The basic crunch is just that – basic. Don’t waste countless hours on a less-than-stellar exercise that does little to fully engage your abdominal muscles and core.
2. The ab rocker
Why: The ab rocker was proven to be no more effective than the traditional crunch. Actually, it was shown to be up to 80 percent less effective! Yes, it’s super easy to do, and that’s why it doesn’t work. By supporting your head, this tool actually deactivates the muscles in the neck that would normally support it. This can lead to neck pain as your supporting muscles weaken. There’s a reason these machines are collecting dust in the corner of your gym.
3. The straight-leg sit-up
Why: This old-school exercise is responsible for many back issues. It puts a huge strain on the lower back by provoking you to hurl your upper body forward in an attempt to touch your toes. No thanks.
4. The standing dumbbell side bend
Why: Isolating the obliques in this way is not natural and can add unnecessary strain to your back. (How often do you bend straight to the side to pick something up?) Also, many people use the momentum that the dumbbells create and rock side-to-side instead of properly engaging their muscles. Avoid these unless you want to look you’re rocking to the oldies.
5. The seated twist
Why: Seated twisting machines are a waste of money and space in fitness facilities. They don’t train your muscles in a functional way and the path of motion is fixed and unnatural. They can also lead to injury if you don’t know what weight to use and how to control the movement. I’ve seen many people snap from right to left with some wicked momentum – ouch!
Opt for these five exercises to maximize your workout time instead:
1. The plank
Why: It stimulates more abdominal activity than a regular crunch and works the muscles in your back as well.
How: Supporting yourself on your forearms and the balls of your feet, bridge up and position your body in one straight line. Pull your abs in tight and hold for 30-60 seconds.
Kick it up a notch: From the plank position, reach forward with your right hand, hold for a count and slowly return to the starting position. Do the same with your left hand and repeat.
2. The bicycle crunch
Why: In the San Diego study, this exercise was the second highest in terms of EMG activity in participants. It also stimulates more abdominal activity than the traditional crunch including your lower stomach and obliques.
How: Lying on your back, bring your knees up to form a 90 degree angle and keep your hands by your temples. Crunch up and twist across the body while simultaneously performing a bicycle motion with your legs. For example, if you crunch up and to the right you should draw your right knee in and vice versa. Repeat for 20-30 reps total.
3. Side plank
Why: Side planks not only torch your obliques, they also stimulate and tone your glutes, quads, hamstrings, inner/outer thighs and your upper body.
How: Lie on your side with your forearm perpendicular to your body and one foot stacked over the other. Bridge your hip up and hold for 30-60 seconds while maintaining a straight line with your body.
Kick it up a notch: Raise your top leg so that it’s parallel to the ground (this full version of this is called Vasisthasana in yoga).
4. Vertical chair knee raise
Why: It stimulated 210 percent more abdominal activity in the study’s participants than the traditional crunch.
How: Use your upper body to hold yourself up tall while drawing your knees up and past your waist. Squeeze at the top and slowly lower your legs back down. Repeat for a total of 12-15 reps.
Kick it up a notch: Do a straight-leg raise.
5. Reverse crunch
Why: Engage your lower abdomen and obliques with this move.
How: Lie on your back with your hands tucked under your bum and your knees bent. Bring your legs up until they form a 90 degree angle from your torso. Do a pelvic tilt and pull your knees in towards your chest, squeeze and slowly lower to starting position. Aim for 15-20 reps.
Kick it up a notch: Hold a weight over your head.
Ripped abs plan:One of the best ways to work the abs is to perform a series of core moves in one continuous circuit. Circuits are efficient and effective, allowing you to get the most out of your efforts. For optimum results, perform this core circuit at the end of your intense training sessions. You want your core strong and ready to back you up when you’re in the thick of a tough workout.
Plank tri-set (regular and sides): 30-60 seconds
Reverse crunch: 15-20 reps
Bicycle crunch: 10-15 reps per side
Vertical chair knee raise: 12-15 reps
Notes: Perform 2-4 total sets or circuits with now rest between exercises and a 1 minute rest between circuits.

4 Exercises That Build Strength Not Bulk