Legs You'll Love

By Andy G 

While most men spend much of their workout time focusing on the muscles above the waist (chest, arms, back), let's face it, ladies are often more concerned about the parts below the waist. Whether you want to run faster, get stronger or look absolutely killer in a short skirt, your leg work probably takes up a big part of your time in the gym.

If that's the case, you're in luck, because over the past years, we've spent a lot of time talking to the owners of arguably the best pairs of pins in the fitness business. Here are their secrets to strong sexy legs.

Because your upper body and gravity already offer resistance during your leg workout, you can increase the intensity of squats, lunges and similar movements in ways other than simply lifting heavier weights. One great way to up the intensity is to slow your tempo from, say, a normal two-or-three-count to a five-count on the way down. If you want to get radical, you can even stop a few times for a few seconds, descending in a staggered fashion.

If you do unilateral exercises and find that one leg is indeed stronger than the other, train the weak leg first, and allow it to determine how much weight you use and how many reps you complete. On leg press, for example, if you can do 10 reps with your right leg and 15 with your left, do 10 for both until the right catches up.

When you squat and lunge, focus on keeping your glutes contracted. People often visualise these as legs-only exercises, because that's where the movement's occurring, but the glutes handle much of the load. Squeeze the muscles throughout the exercise.

People often debate whether you should pop back up out of squats immediately or pause for a second or two at the bottom, but the best strategy for most types of squats is an intermediate technique called "elastic recoil" not a big bounce, but just enough so that the change in direction uses some of the elastic energy transfer in your body.

Try something different every time you train legs. Everything you can think of. Never stagnate.

Mix up your leg training as much as possible. This is nearly as important as rest when it comes to allowing your muscles to recover from workout to workout. If you don't want to devote entire month-long cycles to, say, heavy leg training, just throw a heavy leg day into the mix on occasion. The response of everything from your central nervous system to your growth hormones will be different that day, and as a result, you'll be less likely to stagnate.

The biggest mistake beginners make is training their legs too frequently. If they're training according to a body-part split, most women really don't need to train legs more than once every five days or so. If you're an athlete and your legs are used to greater stimulus, your frequency could be 3 days or so.

Do lots of cardio. Running and stair-stepping in particular are good nor only for cardiorespiratory endurance but also for sculpting your legs and glutes. Increase the focus on your glutes by stepping two steps at a time to raise the angle of hip extension.

On squats and lunges, always keep your knees aligned with your feet. Once your knees drift out in front, they're in a compromised position that can lead to injury. Also, don't go to failure on these exercises until you've mastered proper technique.

Don't shy away from leg exercises just because they feel awkward or difficult at first. Is it easier to master leg extension than the lunge? Absolutely. Does that mean you shouldn't bother with lunges? Absolutely not. Because lunges require you to use more than one set of joints, recruit a lot more ancillary muscles and require more balance, they're going to be harder to do at first - it's the nature of the beast. That's why you should be doing them, not avoiding them.

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Fitness Tip: How To Hydrate and Replace Electrolytes When Working Out

By Margot Rutigliano 

Water is essential to life. A few days without it could result in death - it's that important. So considering a hydration strategy, especially when working out in the heat is essential to overall health. We lose water through respiration, sweating as well as urinary and fecal output. Exercise speeds up the rate of water loss making intense exercise, especially in the heat, a possibility of leading to cramping, dizziness and heat exhaustion or heat stroke if adequate fluid intake isn't met. Correct fluid intake is an important priority for exercisers and non-exercisers in the heat. Water makes up 60% of our bodies. So it's incredibly important to for many different roles in the body.

The Role of Hydration In The Body:

Water has many important jobs. From a solvent to a mineral source, water plays a part in in many different functions. Here are some of water's important jobs:

- Water acts as a solvent or a liquid that can dissolve other solids, liquids and gases. It can carry and transport these things in a number of ways. Two of water's most important roles are the fact that water transports nutrients to cells and carries waste products away from cells.

- In the presence of water, chemical reactions can proceed when they might be impossible otherwise. Because of this, water acts as a catalyst to speed up enzymatic interactions with other chemicals.

- Drink up because water acts as a lubricant! That means that water helps lubricate joints and acts as a shock absorber for the eyes and spinal cord.

- Body hydration and fluid exchange help regulate body temperature. Don't be afraid to sweat! It helps regulate your body temperature. When we begin to sweat, we know that body temperature has increased. As sweat stays on the skin, it begins to evaporate which lowers the body temperature.

- Did you know that water contains minerals? Drinking water is important as a source of calcium and magnesium. When drinking water is processed, pollutants are removed and lime or limestone is used to re-mineralize the water adding the calcium and magnesium into the water. Because re-mineralization varies depending on the location of the quarry, the mineral content can also vary.

Which Factors Determine How Much Water We Need:

What factors affect how much water we need? All of the following help determine how much water we need to take in.

Climate - Warmer climates may increase water needs by an additional 500 mL (2 cups) of water per day.

Physical activity demands - More or more intense exercise will require more water - depending on how much exercise is performed, water needs could double.

How much we've sweated - The amount of sweating may increase water needs.

Body size - Larger people will likely require more water and smaller people will require less.

Thirst - Also an indicator of when we need water. Contrary to popular believe that when we are thirsty we need water, thirst isn't usually perceived until 1-2% of bodyweight is lost. At that point, exercise performance decreases and mental focus and clarity may drop off.

We know why water is important but how do we go about hydrating properly? Fluid balance or proper hydration is similar to energy balance (food intake vs output). It is important to avoid fluid imbalance for health.

We get water not only through the beverages we consume but also through some of the food we eat. Fruits and vegetables in their raw form have the highest percentage of water. Cooked or "wet" carbohydrates like rice, lentils and legumes have a fair amount of water where fats like nuts, seeds and oils are very low in water content.

Fluid Needs By Bodyweight:

One of the easiest way to determine how much water you need is by body weight. This would be the basic amount you need daily without exercise. *Yes, you'll need to find a metric converter like this one to do the math.

Water Needs: 30 - 40 mL of water per 1 kg of bodyweight

Example: if you weigh 50 kg (110 lb), you would need 1.5 L - 2 L of water per day.

Hydration Indicators:

You should be drinking water consistently (not all at one time) throughout the day. The body can only absorb a certain amount of water at a time. Any overzealous drinking could lead to health issues.

Thirst - As stated above, if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.

Urine - The color of your urine is also an indicator of your hydration level.

colorless to slightly yellowish - hydrated

soft yellow - hydrated

pale gold - hydrated

gold, dark gold or light brown - possible light to moderate dehydration

brown - dehydrated

Hydration + Electrolyte Strategy:

These easy steps will help you to hydrate daily plus before and after workouts.

1. Determine how much water you need to drink on a daily basis using the body weight formula above.

2. Pre-hydration - Drinking about 2 cups of water BEFORE intense exercise ensures adequate hydration to start.

3. During Exercise - 1 cup (8 ounces) of water mixed with electrolytes (about 3/4 water to 1/4 electrolyte) every 15 minutes approximately.

4. After Exercise - Fluid intake is required to assist in recovery. Recovering with a mix of water, protein and carbs is a great idea in addition to electrolytes if needed. Formula: Approximately 15g of protein, 30g of carbs, electrolytes and water.

Margot Rutigliano is a freelance writer as well as the owner of Vita Vie Retreat. She has been a fitness trainer, wellness coach and healthy living adviser since 1999. Vita Vie Retreat is a fitness vacation offering healthy lifestyle transformation programs for men and women of all ages and fitness levels. For more information or to contact Ms. Rutigliano, please visit http://www.bvretreat.com.


Blue Moon: How to Build A Strong Mind In A Strong Body?

By Andy G 

No lifter worth his weight in iron thinks his workouts are for the benefit of - or fueled by - just his body. You know that with each rep, you're training your muscle and your mind to be strong and powerful, and that you use both to achieve your desired results.

It was probably a combination of the two that motivated you to start working out in the first place. Setting a goal to be physically strong and fit usually comes from a desire not to feel the opposite mentally. Perhaps you made up your mind a long time ago that you never (or never again) wanted to feel unable to accomplish something. You found a healthy way to achieve greater control over your life and how you feel, and you started working both mind and body. Working out became a way of - and a way of coping with - life.

Yet while exercise can generally help you beat the blues and stave off negative feelings, it "doesn't guarantee that everything in one's life will run smoothly," says Kate Hays, a Toronto-based psychologist who practices sports psychology.

In the face of a major stressor, you can begin to feel just as you did before you started working out: unable to make something happen. It's at these times when you may be vulnerable to depression. If negative thoughts or a depressed mood become more frequent, more intense or last longer than usual, it's important to seek professional help. Studies have shown that a combination of exercise and psychotherapy is the best prescription for depression. Like going to the gym, seeking help for depression requires commitment to the process and patience when it comes to seeing results. And just like starting a workout regime, most people feel better right away simply for having taken the first step.


Sure, you believe that you can work through anything by working out. But even the toughest guy should know about some common triggers for depression:

Injury: Since working out is part of your coping strategy, routine, identity and even your social network, a physical injury can be a real mental setback. Furthermore, since exercise can function as an antidepressant, "When you can't exercise you're prevented from getting the physiological improvement in mood," says Hays.

Overtraining: "One of the typical signs of someone who is overtraining is the [his or her] mood gets worse," Hays notes. You may find that you have difficulty concentrating or trouble sleeping, or are irritable. Hays cautions that a "negative spiral" can develop if you attempt to alleviate these symptoms by training even more.

Personal loss: A sudden or tragic event can alter your routine, your resources and ultimately your mood.

Family history of depression: According to Hays, you can decrease your risk of developing depression by working out, but exercise "doesn't prevent depression from happening."

Chronic negative perceptions: Athletes who respond negatively in the face of stressors are at risk of depression. Not seeing desired results in the gym? Depression can set in if you interpret the setback negatively. Tell yourself, "If I haven't set realistic goals", instead of, "I'm weak".

There are millions hits on the internet search drive for Wellness - from mental to physical health, cardiac fitness, cancer, yoga, how to overcome certain ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, stoke, and tips on weight loss and how to grow taller, with many other ideas getting honorable mention. It takes quite a bit of research to find any one site that has so much to offer on all these fronts, let alone one that can combine all the needs for your innermost wellness - joy, bliss and beyond. For wellness' sake you can stop looking out there, and take some time for yourself, a sort of one-stop-shop: Balanced Lifestyle Wikipedia.

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