Why You Should Incorporate Yoga Into Your Fitness Routine (Or Vice Versa)

I believe in balance. Without balance, stress takes over and you’re pulled in one direction. If you’re pulled too much, well, you might just snap. Working out is great and I love the benefits that I’ve experienced from exercising, but sometimes the strain is a lot.

The idea with working out is that you’re always pushing yourself towards ‘more’ – more reps, lift heavier – more, more, more. And that’s fine, but finding a way to counteract that and reintroduce harmony and appreciation for where you’re already at is a beautiful thing.

That’s where yoga comes in.

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How To: Work Out Those Abs

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Abs are one of the most important parts for me to work out. I don’t find the fat hanging over pants look to be very charming and I absolutely love wearing crop tops (while I’m at the age where I can still kind of get away with it). Working out abs can be really painful at first, since these muscles let you know they are being worked almost instantly during your repetitions, however if you’re like me..you’ll learn to love the burn. Here are some of my favourite ab exercises that can be performed at home, at the gym, or anywhere you can. All these exercises require a mat and even towel use on top of the mat is recommended, if you bruise easily like I do.

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Bicycle Crunch

1) Put your hands behind your neck (but don’t apply pressure on the neck, simply hold your hands in this position) and raise your feet in the air.

2) Lift your head and bring one elbow to the opposite knee (such as left elbow to right knee), making them touch as closely as possible. 

3) Do the opposite (right elbow to left knee). After this, you’ve completed one cycle. Now start cycling! I do as many I can to failure, or 4 sets of 30 repetitions. 

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Toe touch crunch

Leave your legs straight up above your hips and crunch your abs to reach your toes. Your head and shoulders should raise off the floor in order to reach your toes with straight arms. You can either do full repetitions (touch, lower almost completely – but try to keep your abs somewhat engaged, instead of letting them relax as you get closer to the ground) or pulses. I like doing pulses of these bad boys since it burns like crazy!

If the double leg version is too difficult for you, don’t fret. You can do the single leg variation (where one leg is flat on the ground and one is raised), until you are comfortable with having both legs in the air. 

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Side Oblique Crunch

There are many variations for side oblique crunches but I love doing these because I can really see the obliques being activated as I perform the move. Begin in the same position as the picture above, with your legs on the ground but your upper body angled and lift your body by using your obliques so that your hips and legs raise off the ground. These are really fun to do and don’t really burn as much as other ab work outs, so do as many as you feel like. I typically perform 4 sets of 20 per side. 

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Bench V Ups

Position yourself on a bench and position your body so that you are perpendicular with the longer side of the bench (although I make it work depending how much space is around me at the gym). Hold onto the bench, lower your torso, keep your back straight and create a straight line with your body by extending your legs forward. Then crunch by pulling in your legs to create a “V” shape from your quadriceps to your torso. Always keep your abs engaged and posture strong during this workout. I perform 4 sets of 20 reps. Eventually this move may become too easy for you; when it does, simply hold a weight between your feet to make this move more challenging.

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Russian Twist

This move can be performed with a medicine ball, weights or bodyweight. Simply sit on the floor with bent knees and heels comfortably away from your butt (the further away your feet are from the butt, the more challenging since you have to find stability). Lean your body back as far as you can whilst maintaining a straight back. No rounding of the back is allowed! Have your arms out in front of your body at approximately the level of the lower part of the ribcage. Move your ribs to the left and follow through to the right. This is one set. I do 4 sets of 20 reps. The more advanced version of this move is to raise your legs off of the ground by a few inches. I typically perform a normal version and follow with a weighted advanced version (also 4 sets of 20). 

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The Plank

There are many variations of the plank and they are all wonderful for your body. The plank engages many parts of the body, particularly the abs. The easiest way to introduce yourself to the plank is to begin in a pushup position on a mat and lower your forearms onto the ground so that your forearms are flat. Toes should be curled and your body should make a straight line. However, the neck and spine are meant to be relaxed and not strained. Tense your abs and flex those glutes! It is best to hold this position until failure, or at least for the duration of your favourite song. 

 

I hope you guys enjoyed some of my favourite ab exercises. There are definitely many more wonderful ab work outs out there, which I will cover in a later entry. Remember: abs are also made in the kitchen. Working them out won’t create the abs of your dreams if you have a bad diet. Happy working out! xx