Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Improve Your Fitness (Stamina, Abs, Legs)

There was already an article about 2014 resolutions, however I started to read more and more that the main resolution for the new year's is normally losing weight. Seeing this, here at "O Mundo de Mikey" I also want to help you, the reader, with this type of resolutions.
Some months ago, we (in our house) decided to also improve our fitness. Of course it helped that we are living close to a park with fitness stations, but "O Mundo de Mikey" will share with you some of the tips that you can also follow follow especially if you are on a tight budget or you do not want to pay for a gym membership.
First, do not do exercises just with the goal of weight reduction, doing exercises is important for your own well-being. Secondly, on  a tight budget, trying to get fit without gym membership is not easy and it requires discipline, you can also check if there are free outdoor fitness facilities in your local area. At some point in time you have probably walked past a “Fitness Station” in a park, and ignored it, or tried to explain to your child that it does not “do” anything,. Well let me tell you that it is not play equipment, it is for people getting fit... and it does work, trust "O Mundo de Mikey" on this.

So what plan do we normally follow? See below...

1. Warm-up
Before starting to do exercises you need to allow your body to warm-up. Not only it will prevent injuries but it will also give a boost on your cardio, meaning that you will also burn fat faster.
Tip: Do a minimum of 25 minutes run, e.g. a couple of laps around a park. Try to push yourself a little but there is no need to push for a maximum speed. Try to breath slowly.

2. The Drills
Now that your body is warmer, it is time to do some exercise drills. Please be aware, that you should personalise the effort of the drills based on your condition. Let's follow what Ausafe recomends.

2.1. First Fitness Stop
After the warm up, stretching before a workout allows the body to become more pliable and less prone to injury. The muscles that should be stretched will be the main muscles groups that are going to be worked on during the session. These stretches should be performed whilst standing and gently held between 8-10 seconds. This is so that your heart rate does not drop too much during this time. However, this practice is now being questioned. Some say that a warm up is sufficient and would rather leave the stretches until the end of their session.

After the exercises do a 10 second sprint (fast-run) - maximum speed.

2.2. Second Fitness Stop

After the exercises do a 10 second sprint (fast-run) - maximum speed.

2.3. Third Fitness Stop

After the exercises do a 10 second sprint (fast-run) - maximum speed.

2.4. Fourth Fitness Stop

3.  Rehydration
It is important to rehydrate since you probably lost some body water.
Tip: Fill your mouth a couple of times with water but do not drink it at first. At the third time do drink a bit of water.

4. Last Run
Do a minimum of 10 minutes run, this will be your final run, no need for maximum speed. Try to breath slowly. This last run can also be used to return to you home, where the rest of the exercises can be done.
Tip: If you live in a building use the stairs!

5. Exercise Your Abs
You just finished your run and you are now at home sweating? Great! You are almost there. The area of the belly and/or the "muffin-top" are the ones that most people are a bit self-aware so let's do some short but intensive abs exercises. Here are some different levels for people with different fitness conditions:

8 Minutes Abs - Level 1 (10.49)

8 Minutes Abs - Level 2 (10.00)

8 Minutes Abs - Level 3 (11.35)

6. Finalise Your Work-Out with Stretches
It is important to stretch your muscles after doing exercises. Post stretches or maintenance stretches are just as or if not more important than stretching prior to your workout, after your warm up. The main muscles groups used during the session are the ones that need to stretch. If a muscle group has been continually contracted in the main workout, stretches should be performed to get the muscle back to their normal length. They may also help to alleviate potential soreness. A maintenance stretch is usually held for between 10-20 seconds.

Stretching helps to:
  • reduce muscle tension, and make the body feel more relaxed
  • increase the range of motion
  • prevent muscle strains: a strong pre-stretched muscle resists stress better than a strong unstretched muscle
  • prevent joint strains
  • reduce the risk of back problems
  • prepare the body for strenuous exercise
  • increase ‘body awareness’
  • promote circulation
  • for females, reduces the severity of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
  • increase the learning, practice, and performance of many types of skilled movements
  • reduce muscular soreness
You should not stretch if:
  • there has been a recent bone fracture, sprain or strain
  • the range of motion is in some way limited
  • the joint is inflamed or infected
  • if you have signs of osteoporosis
  • you experience pain when the joint is moved or the muscle is stretched
  • you are suffering from certain diseases of the skin or blood

6.1 Quadricep Stretch
The quadriceps stretch is a great stretch that is essential for any good post-exercise routine, especially if you participate in high amounts of cardiovascular exercise, or strength training exercises that target the quadriceps muscles. In order to perform this stretch properly, start by standing tall with your arms relaxed by your sides and your feet planted firmly under your hips. Carefully bend your right knee, bringing your right foot towards your buttocks. Reach your right hand behind your back, and grab your right foot with your right hand. Hold this pose for 20 second, and release. Perform this exercise on the left leg in order to achieve optimal results.
6.2 Hamstring Stretch
The hamstring stretch is another stretch that is commonly used by individuals who engage in high amounts of cardiovascular activity or perform strength training exercises that target the hamstring muscles. This exercise is performed by sitting on the ground or on an exercise mat, with your legs extended in front of your body. Sit tall, with your spine in a straight line. Reach your arms overhead towards the sky, and take a deep breath. As you exhale your breath, bend forward from the waist, and reach your arms towards your feet. Extend your arms as much as possible, holding onto your calves, ankles, or feet if possible. As with the quadricep stretch, hold this pose for 20 seconds for best results. 

6.3 Side Stretch
Unlike the first two stretches, which targeted the muscles of the lower body, the side stretch focuses on the abdominal muscles. This exercise can be performed by standing tall with your arms relaxed by your sides. Place your right hand on your right hip. At the same time, extend your left arm overhead, towards the sky. Inhale deeply, and during exhalation, bend your body to the right, bringing your left arm up and overhead. You should feel a stretch along your left ribcage. Hold this pose for 20 seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side of your body.

6.4 Calf Stretch
Finally, the calf stretch is a great way to loosen up the muscles in the lower part of your leg. Start by facing a wall, standing tall. Place both hands against the wall, and step your right foot back approximately two to three feet behind your left foot. Bend your left knee, while at the same time keeping your right leg extended. Your right heel should stay flat on the ground, and your leg should be relatively straight. Hold this pose for 20 seconds, and repeat on the opposite leg.

You can also do located/dedicated stretches following the example below.

Or follow one of these videos

Video 1 - Post Run Stretch (9.15)

Video 2 - Total Body Strech (9.29)

7. Finish
You are done! How do you feel? Hopefully you will feel good but tired, if that is the case congratulations, you now deserve a nice shower!

Please be aware that by not going to a gym or by having a fitness trainer you are not being followed by a professional that can create a personalised plan for you. Moreover, it is important that you know your body, so you should stop doing any exercise if you feel any pain, major discomfort, dizziness (or light-headed). If you have long-tem pain you should also seek a professional in your area.
"O Mundo de Mikey" is not responsible for any injuries that you may get with this "Improve Your Fitness" plan.

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Blog Editor and Owner: Luis Aparicio Fernandes (or Mikey) is a Business Expert and a Traveler based in London, UK. He is a member of The International Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma due to his achievements in business. You can follow Luis on Google+, and LinkedIn.