Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Keeping you Stable: Ankle Strengthening Techniques

Ankle strength is important for many different sports, whether you are an avid triathlete, dedicated volleyball player, or even a ballerina. Having ankle strength improves your stability while you run, which makes you less likely to sprain your ankle. It also increases your strength when you are on your toes and it helps maintain balance. Improving your ankle strength can mean a new personal record on your run time.


picture courtesy of active.com 


ABC’s

For this strengthening stretch, sit in a chair and raise your right leg straight out in front of you. Start writing the alphabet in the air with your right foot. Once you get through the alphabet with your right foot, switch and repeat the stretch on your left foot.  For more of a challenge, trace a set of upper case letters and then a set of lower case letters before switching legs.

Curbside

Find a curb, step, or something sturdy that is the same height as a step. Stand with your toes touching the bottom of the curb or step. You should be facing the curb or step. Jump with both feet onto the curb or step and then jump back down. This will help improve your ankle stability and strength.

Wobble

You will probably need to build your wobble board for this, but not to fret; it’s super simple. You will need a board that you can comfortably stand shoulder width apart on, so not to narrow or short. Then in the center of the board you need a sturdy cylinder, about the size of a standard foam roller, but stronger. You want to make sure that you attach the cylinder to the board in the center. The last thing you want is for your board to break on you. Once you have a wobble board, one side of the board should be touching the ground and the other side should be in the air, like a teeter-totter. Stand on the board on the side that is touching the ground first, then step onto the board with your other foot. Balance on the board, keeping both sides of the board off the ground. Another way to strengthen your ankles with a wobble board is to teeter-totter on the board by shifting your weight from one side to the other.

Around the Clock

Like the ABC’s stretch, you will need a chair. Start by raising your right leg in the air. Slowly move your foot in circles clockwise, rest, and then with the same foot circle counter clockwise. Switch legs and repeat.


Up and Down Stairs

This exercise is best done with a tall step. Stand next to the step with the side of your right foot touching the step and your left foot away from the step. Step up with your right foot, while keeping your left foot hovering in the air, and then step back down. Repeat on the same foot 15 times and then switch legs.

Stay Balanced

Raise your right leg off the ground and bend your knee towards your glutes. Hold your right foot for better stability. Balance on your left leg and look straightforward. If this is tricky, try focusing on an object in the distance. Switch legs to work both sides. Once you have mastered balancing in one place, repeat the same exercise as above, but instead of looking straight ahead, move your head from the center to the left, back to the center, to the right, and return to the center before placing your foot down. Switch legs and repeat. For challenge mode, balance on one of your legs and move your head in the directions described above, all while keeping your eyes closed.

Ankle Raises

These are also called elev├ęs in ballet. Stand with your feet a little closer than shoulder width apart and slowly rise on your toes. Once you are balanced on your toes, gently lower yourself back to the ground. Repeat this stretch with your feet parallel a few times. Keeping your feet the same width apart, make your feet point outward like a V shape. Repeat this exercise with your feet in an outward stance. After you stretch with your feet in an outward stance, move your feet to an inward stance, like an A shape and repeat. Remember to take these stretches slow to prevent injury.

 

Whether you are a marathoner, a triathlete, or someone who enjoys the occasional 5k run, ankle strength can improve your running time, while making it less likely of obtaining an injury. Remember to strengthen your ankles so you can improve your balance and stability.

 


Happy Strengthening!



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fit From Head to Toe: The Best Upper Body Exercises

Triathletes strive for total body fitness, but achieving it is much harder than setting a goal for it. Upper body workouts can often get overlooked; because they don’t directly exercise the muscles needed to run or cycle, but your upper body is important for total body fitness. These are our favorite upper body workouts to help get your body at its peak performance.

The Push Away

If you are unable to do push-ups in proper form, I recommend you hold off on this exercise. Start in a push up position and make sure your back is straight and your hips parallel to the floor. Slowly reach out with your right arm at a 45-degree angle, while your left arm maintains the push up position and complete the push up. Make sure when your right arm is extended that you don’t lose your form. Repeat on the left arm for a balanced exercise.

Goblet Squat

For this exercise, you will need a dumbbell. Choose a weight you feel comfortable lifting and get ready to do a squat. Hold the dumbbell by placing both hands on one of the weights; the dumbbell will be vertical. You want your hands to cup the weight, like you would hold a goblet. Ease into a squat and aim for 6 squats before resting. If you find that the weight is not heavy enough or too light, switch it out to a weight you feel more comfortable with.

Spider Push-Ups

No spiders are needed to do this challenging push-up. Start in the push-up position. When you bend down to do a normal push-up, slide your right leg out and bend the right knee until it’s at the right side of your body, almost like you are climbing a mountain. You want to keep the right knee pointed out when it is sliding and the right foot should be horizontal. Do your best to keep the right foot off the ground to get the full benefits from this position. When you are pushing up to complete your push-up, slide your right foot back into starting position. Next time you go down for the next push up switch legs.

Flying Dumbbells

As the title suggests, you will need a set of dumbbells for this, although two full water bottles could work as a replacement. It is best to do this exercise in a sitting position. Find a bench or a chair and sit on the edge of the seat. Place your dumbbells behind you, in line with your feet. Bend down to pick up the dumbbells, one in each hand. Your fingers should be pointing to each other and your elbows pointing out. Bend and lift your arms with the dumbbells. Pretend like your arms are wings. Continue to raise your arms until they are shoulder height. Then slowly put your arms back down. Repeat as necessary.

Deadlifts

For these deadlifts, you will need a pair of dumbbells. Choose the weight that challenges you, but is still comfortable. Grab the dumbbells, so that one end of each weight is touching the front of your thigh and keep them horizontal as if they were attached to a bar. Bend forward with the dumbbells as if you were trying to place them back on the ground. Your body will go into a squat position. Make sure you keep your back straight during the lift, because the last thing you want is an injury.



Pull-Ups

Pull-Ups are necessary for upper body strength, but they can pose a challenge if you’ve never done them before, or if it’s been awhile. Find a pull up bar, either in your gym, on a playground, or if you have a pull up bar attachment for a doorframe. When grabbing the bar, make sure your hands are shoulder width apart and grab with your fingers pointing towards you. Do your best to pull yourself up so your chin is just above the bar, and then slowly lower yourself where you are hanging. If you can grab the bar while standing, you will have to bend your knees while doing pull ups. It will take some time to master pull-ups; so don’t lose hope if you are not where you want to be.

The Last Lift

These upper body workouts will help you achieve your goal of total body fitness, while giving you the strength you crave. Add them into your workouts to change up the routine, and to give your legs and core a break for the day.

Happy Lifting!

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Nutrition: Best Foods for Your Workout

The work that you put into training doesn’t always give the expected results. Most athletes agree that what you do in the kitchen effects what you get out of your workouts. Paying attention to what goes in your body will help you achieve how you want your body to respond.

Best Foods for Cutting Fat

You’ve intensified your workouts and increased your training schedule, but you still can’t lose those last 5 pounds, or look as trimmed as you hoped. If you are having trouble finding slimming results, try these foods.

Quinoa

If you haven’t heard of this grain, it’s time to get comfortable with it. Quinoa is a great replacement for rice and is high in protein and fiber. This super food helps fill you up while providing necessary nutrients for your day.

Dark Chocolate

Quite a controversial pick for this list, but dark chocolate in small amounts can help slow down your body from processing food. In addition to helping you feel full longer, dark chocolate is a natural antioxidant.

Broccoli

Otherwise known as little trees, this vegetable has an added bonus of lowering your risk of lung and colon cancer. Broccoli has few carbs, fats and calories, so if you are in need of a binge it’s best to binge on these veggies.

Chili Peppers

Spicy food lovers rejoice, because hot peppers help you burn fat and calories. Chili peppers not only help cut calories, they are also rich in fiber, which means you stay full for longer.


Best Pre Workout Snacks

Your pre-workout food should be all about packing your body with the fuel necessary to get you through a run without feeling hungry or losing all energy before you finish.


Oranges

If you are going for a short run and don’t want to throw off your diet before, oranges are a simple solution. Oranges contain few calories, and the vitamin C helps your muscles recover during your run. As an added bonus, they are easy to carry for when you are on the go.

Hummus

This is my personal favorite treat, because hummus is high in carbs and protein and a great dipping sauce for any vegetable. Seriously, hummus pairs well with almost any vegetable. Having a hummus treat before long runs will help you stave off hunger when you would normally feel like you are about to hit a wall.

Oatmeal

Looking for a way to feel full, without feeling like you need a nap after eating? Oatmeal is your best bet. Packed with whole grains, fiber, and iron, this quick treat seems to have it all. If you haven’t been able to stomach oatmeal because of texture, try adding more water to make it less lumpy, or less water to make it less runny. For longer runs, sprinkle your oatmeal with a little bit of cinnamon or sugar to help with fuel intake.

Post Workout

For your recovery food, you want to focus on proteins to help rebuild your muscles and carbs to help prevent injuries from training too hard.

Bananas

Bananas are high in carbs, and not to mention an easy on the go snack. They also help you feel full, so you can eat bananas before or after workouts. I recommend after, because the last thing I want to do is cook after a workout.

Tuna

Tuna is high in protein and with recent developments in packaging, easy to take on the go. If you have the time after your workout and want to add an extra bonus, tuna pairs well with avocadoes. Pairing with avocados also helps you receive your healthy fats for the day.


Hard-Boiled Eggs

It may be a no brainer, but hard-boiled eggs are packed with protein. Two hard-boiled eggs can help you receive the protein your body craves. If you choose not to eat yolks, four hard-boiled eggs without yolks will equal the same amount of protein in two full eggs. They are also easy to prep all at once, so you don’t have to stress about planning what to eat.

A Complete Meal

If your training takes every last second until dinner, you probably are craving a complete meal. Whole-wheat pasta and tomato sauce will be heaven to your body. This pair is loaded with carbs and vitamins, kick starting your way to recovery. Add some lean protein like turkey and your dinner is complete.

Clean-Up

Paying attention to what fuel you put into your body will help get the results you are looking for. Nutrition isn’t always easy to stay on track with, but it doesn’t have to taste like cardboard.

Happy Munching!