Benefits of Strength Training for Total Body Health

The hype is real; strength training is one of those full-body workouts that ticks all the boxes. If you’re looking to add some variety to your workout plan and want something that boosts total body health, then strength training is a fantastic place to start. This style of training is vital to incorporating aerobic activity and flexibility exercises to your routine and home gym setup, and utilises resistance to encourage your muscles to work against extra weight.

Strength Training

Strength training benefits both the male and female body and can be incorporated into any fitness plan, regardless of your current level. The obvious advantages are the weight loss that comes with it, and the increase in strengthening and toning your muscles. But what else makes it one of the highest rated training methods today?

Effectively Burns Fat

Strength training helps you lose weight and body fat in a few different ways. It’s effective in allowing you to retain the muscle you have, while eating a calorie deficit diet and shredding extra weight too. The ability to burn fat through strength training goes hand-in-hand with body composition. Whilst your overall weight may not change initially, over time you will notice a decrease in waist measurements and body fat measurement. Strength training will boost metabolism by speeding up your Resting Metabolic Rate (which means burning calories when resting), encourage muscle gain and fat loss.

Increases Strength and Builds Muscle

Strength training, also known as resistance training, increases strength by neurological adaptations. As your nervous system learns how to recruit your muscle fibres more effectively, muscle growth is boosted and improvement in tone becomes noticeable. Because this type of training makes your muscles work against a resisting weight or force, muscle strength is quickly amplified. By adding strength training to your daily workout, you can actually stop, prevent and reverse bone and muscle loss.

Boosts Muscle Tone

There’s two types of strength training that will help to develop better body mechanics, muscle tone and strength. Isometric resistance works by contracting your muscles against a non-moving object, such as a push-up on the floor. Isotonic strength training on the other hand, involves contracting your muscles through a range of motions like weight lifting. As they both implement a conditioning effect, muscles are better defined and firmer as a result. Both are effective for boosting muscle tone and making your body overall stronger and healthier.

Encourages Greater Flexibility

As your body’s mechanics develop through resistance training, balance and flexibility is improved. Those with poor flexibility and balance will be able to reduce their risk of falling through regular training. Coordination is also heightened and posture is improved. Flexibility is increased by working the muscles in full range motion and the more flexible you become, the less likely you will experience muscle pulls and back pain.

Makes Your Healthier

Healthy isn’t just defined through appearance – your state of mind and how you feel inside is just as important too. One of biggest benefits about strength training the natural enhancement to your overall health. Physical changes in your body will happen first, and as your body develops and strengthens, your ability to handle stress will improve, sleep patterns are boosted and your state of mind is lifted significantly.

As far as workouts are concerned, strength training gives you the biggest bang for your buck health wise. Bone density is increased, blood flow is improved, cholesterol levels are improved and blood pressure is reduced. Through regular strength training disease prevention is also common. As a healthier lifestyle change, glucose control is encouraged which can assist with type 2 diabetes, arthritis pain is reduced, breast cancer risks are lowered and because it builds bone mass, the risk of osteoporosis is minimised.

Maximises Workout Efficiency

Workouts can get tedious – especially when you’re committing to the same exercise plans daily. Strength training is beneficial (and fun!) because it consists of a variety of exercises that combine aerobic workouts with cardio, and only require two 15-20-minute training sessions a week to reap the rewards, providing you’re doing them properly. You can mix it up on a daily basis and still gain a full-body strength workout. All the corresponding resistance training exercises help to make day-to-day life easier too, making little tasks more manageable like lifting the food shopping, carrying your baby or participating in other exercise activities like swimming, biking and yoga.

Author Bio

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson who recommends Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

Father Time, 2013 and Yoga

Father Time has gone full circle once again. Being a traditional time to make a list of resolutions, it is a good idea to reflect. Do you feel you’re on the right path? Do you have dreams to push you forward? Or, are you in a stalemate…not sure what to do or even think about doing? Time has a mysterious way of moving quickly or quite slowly. It depends on what is going on in the mind. What goes on in the mind depends on you.

Father Time fades away when you’re in the zone of doing what you love. Take a great yoga class, for example. The energy is great, you’re focused on each move and breath, things are just flowing…and before you realize it…you’re getting up from a delicious Shavasana. You stare at the clock and wonder where the 75 minutes went! All you know is that time seemed to cease to exist. And, it did. You took the road of Now.

We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it. We can try to predict the future, but it is just a guess. There are a plethora of articles giving advice on how to make your list. Over the years, I have made my lists and saved them. What I have found is that the few things that I really wanted got crossed off and things that felt like chores did not. And, some things took a little longer than a year to manifest. But, the timing was right.

The most gratifying “checked off” achievements involved pursuits that ultimately have helped others. That won’t change….only grow.

2013 is going to be a great year to focus on growth. Mother Nature reveals the magic of growing while appearing still to the impatient eye. A seed is planted, watered and left alone. Then,  when no one was looking, a young sprout breaks ground. The energy of what the seed of the plant is to be keeps it growing. Next thing you know, the plant expands itself in all dimensions…perfectly, without resolution. It just wants to grow and only be what it can be best…itself.

If you do not have a dream or passion to pursue, now is a great time to determine one. As kids, we would dream of all kinds of crazy things…like being a famous writer, a professional in some sport, an astronaut or a ballerina dancer. By God, some of those kids actually made it happen. But, it was not an overnight event. It took work, patience, faith, and relentless perseverance. You do not have to be a kid to dream and it is never too late. Some of the greatest accomplishments happened in people’s latter half of life.

A dream would not be as gratifying if it was simple to achieve. Take the deadline (in this case, a year) off some of your goals and see what emerges as you actively water it with action.When you practice the art of pursuing dreams without attachment of results, the unexpected emerges much like the seed in the soil. You might find what you thought you wanted lead you to what you really needed. Maybe that is what it is really all about.

Save the same old resolutions for the past. Losing weight, eating healthy, quitting smoking and exercising x number of times a week comes and goes. These are conscious, active efforts that demand your effort at sometimes a minute by minute basis. You can do it if you really want to. Let the intentions list be one that inspires you. You might even discover the energy of inspiration make the “other list” a bit easier!

Lastly, suspend the “out with the old, in with the new” concept. Everything new that exists came from the old. The wheel is still round. Fire can still be ignited by rubbing two sticks together. Art from centuries ago still inspire. The music of Mozart still moves. Words of profound individuals from hundreds and hundreds of years ago are still relative to us today. We still dream.  We still have hope. We simply strive to be better at what we love. Yogi Pattabhi Jois said: “Practice and all is coming.” So true.

Father Time is timeless. Mother Nature is ever evolving. Together, they offer us the wisdom and beauty to nourish the seed within our hearts. Let it be what you love. The rest will fall into place at the right time.

Here’s wishing you a healthy, happy, prosperous year!

Teaching, Me, and Yoga

Finding a yoga class that is in sync with what you seek can be a challenge. You wouldn’t think so since there are so many different studios in big cities. There are a plethora of styles of yoga to try out and an even larger group of yoga teachers to give a chance. One can do a personal practice at home; however, there is a subtle, sweet blend of energy shared while in a collective united group practice. As a teacher of yoga for only four years, here are the top five reasons I believe and have heard my yogi following has remained strong and stable. I will never claim to know it all, for I feel I have only scratched the surface. However, I know what I am about to write to be true….for me and my students.

Action #1: Teach and practice from the heart. If the energy is feeling low, the moves practiced are designed to lift one up…physically and mentally. Synchronicity of energies consistently coincide with a collective group and it is truly beautiful to share it. To teach what you think what a group wants takes out the secret ingredient of the heart. The heart doesn’t have to think…it feels. Thinking complicates. Feeling completes. Open your heart to help others open their own.

Action #2: Teach a core of familiar poses with new twists to them. Familiarity breeds monotony. Finding a blend of staples to have in your practice along with new poses is key in staying fresh. A yoga practice is like a relationship. You love the heart of a person; however, one of the keys to keeping a relationship strong is novelty…the unexpected…an unknown truth revealed. Yoga is no different. Doing the same thing again and again and again can become diminish the vision of new horizons. Being monogamous does not coincide with monotony….lack of growth in all realms breeds monotony. Keep them expecting the unexpected. It’s fun.

Action #3: Practice to the energy of great music. The eternal debate of practicing yoga with music or no music will continue. As far as I am concerned, great music complements the moves of a yoga practice. Remember, that it is a practice of mind, body and spirit. Music that speaks to your heart and propels you to move is magical. Beautiful voices, thought provocative verses, and a great beat that flows with your moves is an element I would feel cheated if I did not have it. Music adds to creativity. After all, music that moves you is from someone’s heart of creativity. Move to the hearts of many.

Action #4: The power of touch is indisputable. To give a person a soft touch of the fingertips on the third eye place or to gently press their shoulders down gives their body permission to let go a bit more. People fear that touching another will get them in trouble or they don’t have the desire to do it. Truth is…a great yoga teacher will intuitively know how to integrate the power of touch that so many seek, but don’t even know it until they receive it. It is a privilege to share the energy of love and a wordless message to release an internal grip many hold. I consider this privilege sacred.

Action #5: Keep on learning. It does not matter if you have you been practicing or teaching for twenty plus years…you will never know it all. There is immense knowledge in the concept of “teach to learn and learn to teach.” The two go hand in hand…beyond yoga. Apply it to anything you do and will find that integrating those two actions will solidify what you know and keep you adding to the foundation of knowledge layer by layer. To stop learning is to quit. Unless you’re ready to quit doing something, never stop the quest for learning. What seems insignificant to know initially will reveal its purpose when the time is right. That is…along as you consistently follow Action #1. (Follow the heart)

These words of Helen Keller have been the foundation of how I teach and learn. Nothing could more true:

“The most beautiful things cannot be seen or even touched; they can only be felt in the heart.”

Discovering these words have been instilled in my mind, heart and body. Integrating them in how I teach has hopefully touched many hearts to truly move to their own beat.

Valerie Goodman

Inversions, Hormones and Yoga

Inversions are an integral component of not only a good yoga practice, but good health. As kids, we used to hang upside down from the jungle gym like monkeys, do somersaults, or swing as high as possible gripping the swing’s chain and leaning back to get the feel of flying. Little did we know it, but our bodies were getting some great internal benefits. Besides being fun and giving a sense of daring to play to edges, we were giving our endocrine system a chance to share its magic. Use your yoga practice to re-ignite the smiles you had just being a kid. And, for goodness sakes, do not let the ingrained thought “I’m too old to do this…” deter you from doing what can make you happy at any age.

First of all, there are medical contraindications for inversions. It depends on the style of inversion and the physical ailment. (When in doubt, leave it out…until you discuss it with your doctor.) The body’s glands, or endocrine system, produce approximately 50 hormones. These hormones ignite the release of chemicals that send messages to your body and mind how to feel and function. Some hormones get the energy revved up and others get you to chill out. Over time, a consistent yoga practice increases your sense of awareness of what your body needs to stay balanced within the endocrine system.

Your glands reside from the top in your brain down to your reproductive zone and many places in between. In fact, it is not just glands that host the necessary hormones we need to function. Your heart, besides pumping oxygenated blood throughout your body and dispensing the carbon monoxide load returned 24/7, it also makes a hormone (atriopeptin) to help regulate your blood pressure. The pituitary gland, considered the master of all glands, is only the size of a pea within the brain and generates hormones that trigger a ripple effect of the other gland’s in the body. Some consider the hypothalamus the chief gland; but, irregardless of that debate, each are profound contributors to your physical, emotional, and mental existence.

Now, let’s get to the power of yoga inversions. To be clear, an inversion is a pose that gets your head below the level of your heart. Inversions stimulate your endocrine system into action depending on the type of inversion you do. For example, a Forward Fold ignites the parasympathetic nervous system into releasing hormones like dopamine and serotonin. A sense of well-being and releasing tightness from stress residing in the cells and mind is an amazing result from simply letting yourself hang over and breathe. Child’s pose is another surrendering pose that lets the blood flow to the brain and tell the pituitary gland to start the sequential release of calming chemicals that your own body makes.

Other inversion moves integrate a use of strength and balance that ignite a different set of hormones and results. Headstand or handstand actually raise your blood pressure, increase the heart rate, strengthen balance, and ignite a release of hormones that increase your energy levels. One of the hormones released in headstand is glucose, which is produced in the liver, and increases energy in the brain….then the body. It is a great pose to do at the front of the day to get the “juices” flowing.

Be aware that due to the various hormones released during certain poses, it is wise to know what to practice in the morning and what to practice at night. The inversion of shoulder stand lowers your blood pressure, slows the heart beat down and ignites the release of serotonin and melatonin that help relax you and provide a good night’s sleep. Forward fold, either standing or sitting, is another calming pose. Remember to inhale and exhale slowly and deeply and you will enjoy the soft flow of peaceful energy. Legs up the wall is another great pose to do a little before bedtime.

From a cosmetic perspective, inversions use the power of gravity to help diminish the “fine” lines on the face that develop as we age. The utilization of gravity to help the blood flow to the face and brain helps what has “moved South” (your skin) to get moved in the opposite direction. The increase of oxygenated blood to the face is revitalizing for the cells. A healthy balance of working the endocrine system and the use of gravity to move the skin is a fantastic way to slow down the physical aging process. If anything, you just might find yourself smiling more for no reason.

Additionally, the inversions flip your organs upside down. To invert is to stir up sediments so that they can be more easily flushed out. Think about it. If you stir in a little sand in water, it will eventually settle to the bottom. The body is no different. Granules of what you consume are broken down in the digestive system. The organs that receive and use what is shared with them can retain tiny remnants over time. Not moving much keeps things where they settle. Throw in an inversion and things get stirred up and a chance to be moved out. Consider it a purging of what you don’t need or use like when you clean out your closet and drawers. It is showing good will to yourself.

Remember, you have an ample supply of power within you. We all grow a little bit older each day and there is no stopping the clock. But, with a conscious yoga practice, you will maintain and improve the health of the body and mind incrementally. Do not worry about setting time expectations of results. Instead, there will be a day when you suddenly become aware of a change or difference that you did not see before. Once that happens, know that you’ve just scratched the surface.

 

by Valerie Goodman

Flexibility, Candy and Yoga

“How long will it take before I can get more flexible?” is probably the most common question asked by most upcoming or new yogis. This is like asking the classic Tootsie Roll lollipop question of “how many licks will it take to get to the center?”

There is no true answer. It depends on the person experiencing it. With the Tootsie Roll, you can take your time and relish the flavor drop by drop until that chewy center reveals itself. Or, you can take a few quick rolls of the lollipop in the mouth until you crunch down to the core and enjoy it for a few brief moments. Which sounds more gratifying?

The same approach is with yoga. Forget about time. Forget about the agenda of poses to be able to do by a self-imposed deadline. Forget about flexibility. It sounds strange and conflicting to the task motivated mind. What is more amazing is that the moment you stop worrying about what you think you should be doing, you will discover the bliss of enjoying what you ARE doing. The more flexible you become with time, the more details you will notice. Whether it be music, art, acting, a single flower in the grass or yoga, the beauty of all masterpieces are in the details.

When in Downward Dog, do you use the time to feel each fingertip press down? Do you feel the subtle lengthening of the muscles in the body take place? Do you envision the cells moving around enjoying your exterior movements that nourish them to be stronger? Do you feel the gift of inhaling and exhaling consciously? So many details to observe moment by moment….breath by breath. Use this flexibility of time off the mat. It is in the details of active living that we learn more, grow more, become more. The advancement of technology has not given us more time…it has made the “to do list” longer with less time to experience the details.

If you’re going to eat the Tootsie Roll lollipop, savor every nuance of it. The sweet flavor covering every taste bud the longer you let it rest in your mouth. The subtle change of the smoothness of the candy as you let it melt and coat your throat. The silly guilty pleasure of savoring sweet sugar. The anticipation of getting to the core.The priceless gift of just being in the moment. The center will come soon enough and then it is gone. It is not wise to just keep on eating candy to enjoy the moment; however, yoga is a candy you can devour for a lifetime.

Practice it long enough and you will uncover a core of yourself you never really knew. You intuitively know it is there; however, if you let time press you forward too fast, you might overlook the most beautiful of details. Fortunately, the unraveling of the layers of Self via yoga is a lifetime practice.

So what’s the hurry? Enjoy the flavors that make you who you are. You just might find there was more to you than you could ever imagine. Let the mind become more flexible with time and the physical changes will emerge. The sweet core will not dissolve and leave nothing else to enjoy. Instead, it will do just the opposite. Expect an expansion and be ready to share it. You will not run out of sweetness to share.

So, to simply reverse roles with inquiring minds of flexibility, I ask you…once you become more flexible, how many practices will it take for you to leave the mat?

by Valerie Goodman