How is yoga a workout?

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A lot of people despise yoga as workout. They think it’s all about placing your body in strange positions and consider it to be an effortless exercise. They couldn’t be more wrong. Yoga isn’t just a bunch of body positions, but a five thousand years old science. The word yoga is Sanskrit and means balance or union. Originally yoga was a technique to achieve total awareness, being present in the now and being attentive with all senses. Today yoga is used to create energy, balance, flexibility, physical strength and inner peace.

 

Can yoga help stress?

Prolonged stress usually has a negative effect on physical and mental health. Science has shown yoga is very effective when it comes to reducing stress. The slow and deep breathing technique used in yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces the pulse and blood pressure. When it comes to physically demanding workout, such as bodybuilding, the muscle degrading stress hormone cortisol increases.

Yoga is an effective way to lower the cortisol levels in the body, and the benefit is not only less stress but also preventing muscle mass from degrading as much. Yoga has other benefits. It makes the body stronger and more flexible. It increases the blood circulation and level of oxygen in the blood, toxic waste is cleansed from muscles and inner organs, the immune system improves, the level of concentration increases and your sleep improves. Yoga has also shown to be very effective when it comes to depressive conditions.

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Does yoga build muscle mass?

Yoga is a lot more physically demanding than it seems. With yoga, you build a strong and muscular torso, and get better posture and balance. The risk of back pains also reduces and your mobility increases a lot. Practicing yoga as a complementary exercise to any sport or demanding workout will help you preform better and become more successful. You will also risk injuries a lot less, recover quicker and get more stable results due to the fact that yoga will help you use your body more effectively in sports or workout based on technique.

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Yoga as a complement to bodybuilding is a very good combination. Yoga makes the body more mobile and flexible, meaning the bodybuilding exercise will be more effective. When practicing yoga, you do not use a few muscle groups at once, as you do in bodybuilding. Instead, there are many muscle groups that has to work at the same time, because certain positions and movements in yoga demand the support from different muscle groups, or you wouldn’t be able to preform them.

Every serious bodybuilder and professional athlete is well aware of how important breathing technique and the ability to control your oxygen intake is for the result. It doesn’t matter how much muscle strength you have if you can’t control your breathing.

In this case yoga is also a fantastic complement to your workout or exercise. The breathing techniques you will learn and the physical flexibility you will get through yoga, will improve your results at the gym significantly.

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What is the best yoga for core strength?

The type of yoga considered the best for increasing mobility, flexibility and core strength is Ashtanga Yoga and the more modern type of yoga called Power Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is a physically demanding type of yoga not suited for beginners, since it takes some basic strength. Ashtanga Yoga has different positions preformed in a continuous and smooth rapid movement without any breaks in between. Power Yoga originates from Ashtanga Yoga but has influences of aerobics. Power Yoga focus on balance, strength and flexibility and has less meditative orientation.

There are some yoga positions considered the best for increasing core strength.

Here are six of them.

 

Tree pose

tree-pose

 

Warrior 2 pose

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Triangle pose

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Headstand

headstand

 

Cobra pose

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Crow pose

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What do I need?

Practicing yoga doesn’t take a lot of equipment. Comfortable cloths, a water bottle and a yoga mat is all you need. (The latter because the floor is a little to hard.) Most every gym has yoga classes, and there are instructional videos to follow if you want to practice at home. Yoga is a perfect exercise to do with your partner, and there are even positions suitable for couples yoga. You can practice yoga as a sole exercise or as a complement to your workout, and everybody can do it. Here I have mentioned Ashtanga Yoga and Power Yoga, but there are many more types of yoga out there adapted to any need. Why don’t you give it a try?

couples-yoga

Are eggs bad cholesterol?

are-eggs-bad-cholesterol

For years and years there have been an intense discussion among scientists and doctors concerning the correlation between eggs and bad cholesterol. An egg yolk consists mainly of cholesterol as oil-based fat, and its main purpose is nutrition for the chicken fetus. For humans, cholesterol can be both good and bad. It is present in every cell and plays an important role in our bodies. It allows our bodies to produce vitamin D, it creates bile acids in our digestive system, it helps the body to produce hormones, and it helps to build the structure of the cell walls. The substance is essential for our survival, but if the concentration of cholesterol fat gets to high in our blood vessels it can suddenly become a health risk. So the question is, are eggs fattening for our blood and how many eggs can I eat per day?

 

Why is high cholesterol bad?

When the concentration of cholesterol in your blood vessels gets too high, the vessels clog and become to narrow, which causes the heart problems pumping the blood around in your body. Clogged and narrowed blood vessels, or atherosclerosis as it is called scientifically, is a gradual process that can start as early as in adolescence.

narrow-blood-vessel If you have too much cholesterol in your blood vessels it can injure the vessels, which causes an inflammatory reaction and white blood cells increase to protect the body. When the white blood cells enter the artery wall they transform in to foam cells containing fat and cholesterol, and will eventually slow down the blood flow. This dramatically increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and stroke.

 

 

New research on eggs and cholesterol

Professor Norrina Allen (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) recently shared the results of a large study. People from different states across the US, different ages and different ethnicity has been monitored for a very long time when it comes to their habits. Mainly the findings are that eating 3-4 eggs per week increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases with 6%. On the other hand Professor Allen says more studies has to be done. The U.S. dietary guidelines states there isn’t any appreciable relationship between your blood levels of cholesterol and your diet.

blood-fat-research

Norrina Allen:“We know that for some individuals that’s true. The issue is that it’s highly variable. There are some people who can eat a lot of cholesterol and their body metabolizes it quickly. For other people, that’s not true. The more cholesterol that they eat, the more cholesterol that will be absorbed by their body. And there’s very different patterns in the relationship between the cholesterol you eat and the cholesterol in your blood. So we believe that there is a stronger relationship between the food you eat and the cholesterol in your blood among individuals, for example, who are overweight. The liver just has enough fat in it that it can’t absorb any more cholesterol from the diet and it gets put into the blood.”

Professor Allens report is not valid enough to make changes in the U.S. dietary guidelines. There are not enough studies made when it comes to the effects of lifestyle issues, which is known to be a main cause to high cholesterol.

 

Risks of an unhealthy lifestyle

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Earlier research points to that some people with a healthy lifestyle can consume high-cholesterol products without getting an increased level of cholesterol in the blood. If you have a balanced diet, exercise regularly, do not smoke, hold back on the drinking, do not stress continuously and do not have hereditary diseases, you will most likely not be as affected of high-level cholesterol food as a person with an unhealthy lifestyle.

On the contrary; people that smoke, drink, never exercise, are obese, eat unhealthy food or have diabetes (or hereditary diseases) are at severe risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke and heart attack when consuming high-cholesterol food on top of that.

I want to share a personal experience a had a couple of years back. I have always had a somewhat sensitive stomach. Suddenly I started getting severe problems with my digestive system. Every time I ate my stomach bloated, I got terrible cramps in my stomach and had to run to the bathroom 6-12 times a day. This went on for a couple of months and finally I went to the doctor. They performed gastroscopy and colonoscopy, and then diagnosed me with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). There isn’t really any treatment for IBS except avoiding things that are not good for you. So I quit eating dairy products. I quit eating meat. I quit eating vegetables. Nothing helped. The only thing I could eat without getting cramps and diarrhea was eggs and banana. So that’s what I did. I eat eggs and banana morning, day and night, month after month. Two eggs and a banana for breakfast. Two eggs and a banana for lunch. Two eggs and a banana for supper.

To make a long story short… after 6 months my stomach was as good as perfect and I started eating a more varied diet. (I still don’t eat meat and dairy products except 2-3 times a month.) But I was worried from all my egg consumption, so I asked the doctor to check my cholesterol level. It was perfect! After eating 6 eggs a day for 6 months the cholesterol levels were exactly as they should. To this day I still eat 10-15 eggs a week.

 

healthy-diet

 

So how to think about egg consumption?

If you have a lifestyle meaning you don’t take very good care of your body, you will most likely fall in the range of people who should be careful with their egg consumption. You are probably at risk for cardiovascular diseases and need to look into your overall diet and lifestyle.

heart-check-up

If you are a healthy person with a healthy lifestyle you can probably keep eating your eggs and don’t worry. Overdoing something is never good whether it’s eggs or something else, but as long as you have a varied and nutritious diet you don’t need to worry. And a good way to find out how you’re doing is actually to have your doctor check your cholesterol levels.

How To Workout From Home Without Equipment

woman-pushing-up

Sometimes it’s hard to make it to the gym. Just traveling to the gym can be time-consuming. For some people it can be hard to leave home if you have small kids or animals that needs your attention. For others the transportation itself can be a problem. Maybe there is only one car in the family, or no car at all. When it comes to me it’s all about time consumption. I live on the country side, and it takes about an hour to go back and forth to the gym. In the wintertime when it gets dark earlier at night and I might even have to shovel snow in order to be able to leave, it’s just too hard to motivate myself to go. That’s when it’s good to find a way to workout at home for the sake of your own motivation. But how? And what do you need? I’ll try to bring some clarity to these questions.

You are your own gear

So what kind of workout for home environment is there? What is the best home workout equipment to use? You really don’t need advanced gym equipment to do a good workout, and your own body weight is a good instrument to start with. First of all, every physical activity you undertake is a form of workout. Do you remember the movie Karate Kid from the 80s? Do you recall Mr Miyagi forcing “Daniel-san” to wax on and wax off (followed by sand the floor and paint the fence)? It had nothing to do with waxing a car, but rather doing the right moves and using the right muscles. Take mopping the floor for example. You can do it in two different ways. You can either just push and pull the mop back and forth over the floor, or you can tighten your muscles and use some power when mopping the floor not only moving your arm but your whole body. It seems a bit simple, but if you start using that method in every physical activity you do, you will notice a difference for sure. If you have a stairway you can walk up and down in different ways to work out different muscles. You can walk backwards, sideways, on your toes, on your heals and two steps at a time. A gallon of milk or a bottle of laundry detergent can become a weight to use for tricep overhead extension. The floor is perfect for push-ups, a chair can be used for bench dips and if you stick your feet under the couch you can easily do sit-ups. Well you get the picture.

Free workout training programs in your phone

If you own a cell phone you have a wide range of free apps to chose between when it comes to working out. I have tried a lot of them, and considering both workout quality and motivation, the best free workout app in the market right now according to me is Seven.

Seven is a 7-minute workout challenge based on scientific studies. You can use it without internet access if you want and has beautiful 3D-animations to make the exercises easier to follow. It´s developed by Perigee and available for download at Google Play, App Store and Windows Phone Store.

free-workout-training-programsIn the settings you can choose from 1 to 5 circuits. You can set the time for countdown, exercise and rest, as well as pause time. If you choose double time you get full exercise duration on both sides. If you like you can choose to randomize the exercise order. The 3D-animations come with both a male and a female model to choose from, and notifications are optional as well as sound. When it comes to body details – like age, sex, weight and height – you need to put them in if you want to track calories. You can customize your workout sessions, mark favorite workouts and unlock new exercises as long as you stay in the 7-month challenge. You can do a full body exercise or focus on specific parts of your body. If you want access to all workouts and over 200 exercises plus support from a certified personal trainer, you can join the 7 Club. There is a 7-day free trial and then it costs an acceptable monthly or yearly fee, but I have used the free version of the app for years and it works just fine without joining the club. I recommend you buy an exercise mat though, since a lot of the exercises take place on the floor.

 

Best workout equipment at home

Even if this article has it’s focus on how to workout without equipment, I know some of you people feel the need to have some tools and gears to use at home. If you have a lot of space you can of course by a treadmill or a cross trainer or even a rowing machine, but a lot of times you need to focus on the smaller items that are easily stored under your bed or in your closet. dumbbell-and-water-bottle

For me there are a few items I really like to have at home for my exercise. The most important one is my exercise mat. A lot of the exercises I do take place on the floor and since I don’t have carpeted floors I would get really uncomfortable without my mat. I also use two other items – my dumbbells and my jump rope.

A while back I wanted to get a kettle bell too, but then I realized I could use a dumbbell instead. I have used my mat, dumbbells and jump rope for a long time, but I wanted something new. So last week I got myself some resistance bands. They are wonderful for balance and muscle toning workouts, and you can use them for both legs and arms. Now there are two more small things I want for my workout, and that is a workout step and a mini trampoline.

The bottom line

People seem to be very motivated to go to the gym in the beginning. And then, after a while, there are a thousand excuses NOT to go. But there isn’t really any excuse at all. The best gym in the world is your own body weight, and you carry it with you wherever you go. All you really need to do a good and beneficial workout is yourself, the floor and a bottle of water.

Gain Weight Healthy – What to eat when building muscles

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People who want to gain weight for reasons like health, muscle building, endurance or better performance, sometimes tend to think they just need to eat a lot more than they usually do. But just eating more without a specific plan will most likely make you gain fat instead of muscles. It’s very important to find a healthy way to gain weight and the best way to do that is by eating unprocessed food and make sure you get the right nutrients for your body. But what are the right nutrients and the right food to eat? Let’s take a closer look.

Protein

Protein is essential when it comes to gaining weight. But not only does it help you build muscles easier. The body needs to use a lot of energy to digest protein, which also causes the body to burn fat. The greatest source of protein is eggs. They are cheap, contain very little carbohydrates and they contain amino acids that your body needs. High protein dairy, like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and milk with high percentage, is another great source.

food-high-in-protein You can also find a lot of protein in seafood, like tuna, salmon and anchovies. Meat, like steak or pork chops, is another well-known source of protein. And chicken is of course a must and should always be on your shopping list. Some other not so known sources of protein are lentils, peanut butter, mixed nuts, tofu, peas and quinoa.

Everytime you workout there is a muscle protein breakdown, and you need to help your body repair and restore the muscle proteins after workout. You do this by eating a correct amount of protein soon after a workout. This will not only repair the broken muscle protein, but also help you build new muscle tissue. The recommendation is that you eat 0,3-0,5 grams of protein per kilo body weight (or 0,14-0,23 grams of protein per pound) right after workout. But do not exaggerate your consumption. A higher amount of protein will not make you grow more muscles, since the body can only absorb and digest a certain amount of protein at a time. The only result you’ll get from eating too much protein is putting your digestive system under great strain. It can also cause dehydration, nausea, exhaustion, headache and irritability. Around 20-40 grams per meal is about what your body can handle and get a positive effect out of.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, or carbs as they are called for short, is an essential part of getting the quick energy boost you need for workout. When you eat carbs your body break them down into glucose, galactose and fructose. These are needed for the immediate energy. Glucose not used for energy will transform into glycogen to be stored in your liver and muscles for future needs of energy. The glycogen stored in your body is used as fuel when you workout, and you will need carbs to refill the glycogen. Carbohydrates are found in food like fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain products. Those are the healthy carbs you should eat; not only for energy but also to increase your mental sharpness. food-high-in-carbohydrateOn the other hand there are carbs to make sure you avoid. These are for example sugar (like candy, soft drinks and white bread), corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates and sports drinks. The reason you should avoid the latter is that the fuel it supplies is rapidly spent and does not provide any long-lasting energy boost or storage of glycogen. The maximum amount of glycogen a body can store is about 15 g/kg (6,8 g/pound) which is equal to approximately 60 calories per kilo or 27 calories per pound. About 55 percent of your daily intake should come from carbohydrates.

Fat

There is a misconception that eating fat makes you fat. That is not true. What makes you fat is an excessive consumption of carbohydrates or consistently eating more calories than you burn. If possible, choose fat containing high levels of Omega-3, for example tuna, salmon and anchovies.food-rich-in-fat

You should always choose full-fat products instead of low-fat products, and try not to eat too much fat before working out. The fat will slow down your digestion (though you still get the benefits from working out) and eating too much fat will cause nausea, so you should preferably eat fat after workout. Food containing good fat, besides the ones mentioned above, are peanut butter, seeds, nuts, avocados and cold-pressed plant oils.

What does all this mean?

It´s hard to figure out the exact amount of protein, carbs and fat you should eat related to your age, body weight and level of workout. But the good news is you don’t have to be an expert. The most important thing is to eat a well-balanced diet where protein, carbs and fat are included. About 35 percent of your daily intake should be protein, 55 percent should be carbs and 10 percent should be fat. Avoid sugar as best you can and make sure you eat both before and after your workout. In addition to your diet you can also use gainers as a complement. More about that in a coming post. And do not forget to drink water. You get a lot of water from food so you don’t have to drink all of it, but you need about 5 deciliters (2 cups) of water three times a day. That will do it.