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Monday, March 16, 2009

#18: Work It Out

Work It Out We all have some body bits that need more work than the others. And aerobic classes may not hit the target area enough to make a difference. Here's how to tailor your workout to your problem spots.

Best for shapely legs...
In-line skating
What it does: In-line skating (or rollerblading) works virtually every muscle from the hips down, to give you a shapely, toned legs and a firm, tight butt. Unlike single-plane activities such as walking, running, jogging and cycling, in-line skating is two-plane: that means there's a side-to-side movement as well as forward motion, so those hard-to-isolate inner and outer thighs are given just as much of a work-out as the backs and fronts of your legs. Blading up and down hills helps tone the bottom and quadriceps: long, fast rides strengthen the back of the legs and burn up more kilojoules. Carry small hand weights when you're blading to increase upper-body strength. Rollerblading is also said to be a terrific mood enhancer.

Sweat factor:
In-line skating will work up a good sweat, so wear clothing that is cool and comfortable. A slow ride burns around 900kJ for each 30 minutes; whereas a fast ride including hill work burns around 1200kJ each 30 minutes and gives a reasonably vigorous cardiovascular work-out to boot.

How do I get started?
As well as blades, you'll need a helmet, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads.

How often should I do it?
Aim for at least three 30-45 minutes sessions a week to really tone up your thighs, calves and bottom fast. Try to alternate long, fast, flat rides with spurts of uphill work.

Tips: Squeeze your buttocks slightly as you blade, and concentrate on using your legs. Keep your head high and look forward, rather than down at the ground. For best results, keep your back straight and bend from hips and knees when you want to pick up speed.

Best for trim, toned arms...
What it does: It's the best way to build shapely shoulders and it increases upper-body strength without lifting weights, especially if you add hand paddles. Swimming may seem easy and effortless, but water offers 12 times the resistance of air, so it's good for the cardiovascular system too. Work your legs by doing a few laps of the pool with a kickboard. Better still, take up scuba diving - not only does it offer the same upper-body benefits as swimming, but the kicking action exercises the fronts and backs of the thighs, as well as the hips and stomach muscles.

Sweat factor: You won't sweat much in the water, but you will get a vigorous workout, burning between 800 and 1500 kJ per 30 minutes!

How do I get started?
Lessons are held at most pools, just ask around your local swimming pool.

How often should I do it?
Swim at least three times a week for 20 minutes; dive as often as practicable (try taking a holiday to a destination with great dive sites).

Tips: Vary your strokes so that you work out all the muscles in your arms, back and chest; trying doing 10 laps freestyle, 10 breaststroke and finally, 10 backstroke. It's also important to keep your head in the water to avoid back strain, so try breathing in on one stroke, then exhaling over the next four.

Best for upper body...
What it does:Hook, jab and uppercut your way to a super-strong and toned upper body. Working out on the heavy punching bags builds arm, chest and back muscle, while speed balls (the small ball-like bags on springs) plus footwork are excellent for co-ordination and concentration skills. A boxercise work-out also includes a session of skipping to increase speed and cardiovascular fitness, and to burn off those kilojoules, so it's an excellent total body workout.

Sweat factor: A 45-minute class will have you in a lather of sweat. Both concentrated punching and skipping burn up around 1200kJ per 30 minutes.

How do I get started?
Most gyms provide boxing gloves, but if you don't fancy wearing someone else's sweaty mitts, buy your own. It's best to get medium weight gloves that can be used for both heavy bags and speed bags.

How often should I do it?
Two 45-minute classes a week are enough, but you should also skip for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, at home.

Tips Learn how to punch correctly or you could end up hurting your hands, wrists as well as shoulders.

Best for smaller butt...
What it does: Cycling is a great toning workout for the gluteals (buttock muscles) and hip flexors, as well as the thighs and calves. It tones and build muscles, is excellent for cardiovascular fitness and can help to increase lung capacity. If you find road-traffic too daunting, try working out on a stationary bike at the gym. To get the best bottom work-out, adjust the bike seat so that the balls of your feet just reach the pedals at full stretch, pedal on grass rather than a hard surface for more resistance, and lift your butt off the seat as much as possible when you ride.

Sweat factor: The more hilly the route you choose, the more sweat you'll raise. An easy flat cycle will burn around 700kJ per 30 minutes, while a very fast ride burns around 1500kJ per 30 minutes and gets the cardiovascular rate jumping.

How do I get started?
On a mountain bike - they're sturdy, easy to ride and the upright body position when riding them means there's less stress on your back.

How often should I do it?
For best results, hop on your bike for half to one hour, three times a week.

Tips: To prevent back problems, don't wiggle from side to side when you ride. Remember, long, flat rides tone muscles and hills help to build muscle.

Best for a flat stomach...
What it does: Pilates exercises are based on the premise that the stomach is the center of bodily power and that all strength and balance flows from there. If the stomach isn't strong, other muscles will clench up to compensate. In every Pilates exercises - there are around 500 of them, plus variations - the stomach is held in tightly and the shoulders are relaxed. Pilates is designed to stretch and elongate muscles, rather than bulk them up. Classes are often silent to assist concentration, and Pilates is good for mental energy as well as physical strength and flexibility. It's also said to improve your sex life.

Sweat factor: While the exercise do not appear difficult, they can be extremely strenuous when performed correctly. Pilates is designed to change the shape of your body, rather than give you a vigorous cardiovascular workout, so you'll only burn around 500kJ for every 30 minutes.

How do I get started?
Because special equipment is used, you will need to attend a Pilates studio. Pilates usually involves one-on-one instruction so it's a little more expensive than most other exercise sessions.

How often should I do it?
To get the full body-shaping benefits of Pilates, you'll need to attend a minimum of three sessions per week. Each session lasts from one to one-and-a-half hours.

Tips: Do not be put off by the equipment... even though it looks as though it belongs in some kind of medieval torture chamber!


MUSICVL said...

sure ... you have a good blog. I could get through some of your articles.

PuNiao said...


thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed each and every article too.

Pu Niao & Missy Yuuko

tripzibit said...

Nice tips

reanaclaire said...

hello..great info over here.. i need some exercise too..been gaining weight lately..


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