This is a guest post from our friend Kodjo Hounnake. We know you’ll enjoy it.
When it comes to strength training, most people typically go for free weights and machines. But if you work out at home, you probably know how expensive free weights are; let alone full-blown workout machines. So if you get most of your workout done at home, one piece of equipment you may want to get is the resistance tube.
Resistance tubes are long rubber bands with handles on them, and are used to perform strength training exercise routines. The resistance depends on its elasticity. This means that the thicker the tube, the higher its resistance. Keep that in mind when choosing one. You certainly don’t want it to be too elastic or not elastic enough. In other words, find your sweet spot.
The different uses of the resistance tube are only limited by your creativity. For example, you can step on the tube and use its resistance to perform biceps curls and lateral raises. Also, make sure your resistance tube comes with a door attachment, as it helps hook the tube to a door or window. This further increases the breadth of exercises you can perform. For instance, when attached to a door, the resistance tube can be used to perform triceps extensions, chest fly, rows, etc.
Unlike dumbbells that have a set weight, the great thing about resistance tubes is that you can increase or decrease your level of difficulty by modifying your position. Specifically, if you attach the band to a door, the farther you move away from the door, the higher the intensity of each pull. The closer you are to the door, the easier your workout.
There are many reasons everyone should own a resistance tube:
Resistance tubes are travel-friendly: If you travel often, it is very easy to skip a workout, especially if your travel location doesn’t have a gym in close proximity. In this case, the resistance tube can come to your rescue, as it is very easy to pack, and can be used in your hotel room or strapped around a tree.
Resistance tubes are cheap: There isn’t a lot of exercise equipment out there that is both versatile and affordable. The resistance tube is one of them. You can pick one up for less than $20, so it’s great for the budget-conscious exerciser (i.e. most of us)!
Resistance tubes add variety: With regular free weights, you are limited by the number of exercises you can perform, whereas a resistance tube allows you to modify your positioning in so many different ways, that there are endless possibilities for complexity and difficulty.
Resistance tubes are not just for the pros: Because you can control the elasticity of the tubes, they can be used by beginners and pros alike. To add intensity to your workout, step away from the attachment point. (for example, if you’re doing a chest press with the tube in the door behind you, the attachment point is where the tube is held by the door). To reduce the intensity, move closer to the center of the tube.
In the routine below, you’ll see the resistance tube being used to perform some triceps, shoulders and chest exercises
About the author: Kodjo Hounnake is a fitness enthusiast turned health blogger. When he is not tweeting or blogging about home workout sand healthy eating, he is likely eating healthfully and working out at home. His wish is to contribute as much as possible to the fight against obesity in America. He recently developed a four-week home workout program to help people exercise in the comfort of their home. Kodjo has more than a hundred thousand loyal Twitter Followers at Kodjoworkout.
Dear Readers: We encourage you to subscribe to and follow Kodjo, as he’s a very sociable person.
For those of you who are new to tubes or have shoulder issues, we recommend you hold your arms lower than shoulder height for the chest press, with the tube coming under the arms rather than over.
Kymberly: Losing 10 pounds in 4 weeks is a big goal, but doable … if you are willing to either work hard and change your eating habits ooorrrr….. take some drastic measures. Let’s check out those drastic measures first, since they are easier. First, cut off as much of your hair as possible. Next, go nekkid (since most people wear clothes when assessing weight usually via a scale). Lastly, embark on some crazy diet. So that about wraps up the bad and popular advice that meets the goal. (Readers – don’t say you never thought of these approaches! We hear of them all the time!)
Alexandra: It’s reasonable, sustainable and realistic long-term to lose 1.5 – 2 pounds per week if you combine intense cardio with resistance training and a nutritious diet. So it will be hard to lose 10 pounds in such a short time. I think you’ll be happier, more motivated, and more successful if you focus on improving your eating and exercise. The weight will drop off more naturally that way.
Eating: Choose foods that are close to the ground. By this I don’t mean, “Oh, I dropped my bag of chips”; I mean the fewer ingredients the better. Even if you eat the same amount in weight/ volume, the healthier foods will tend to have fewer calories. So, enjoy a bowl of strawberries rather than strawberry jam on toast. Move most of your food intake toward the first part of the day. And eat breakfast! (Read all about it!)
Exercise: You can do low intensity movement (below 60% of your maximum Heart Rate, which means about 3-5 on a scale of 1-10) , moderate intensity (60-80% of max HR; 6-8 on 10-scale), or high intensity (80-90% of max HR: 9 on 10-scale). Most people feel comfortable doing low and moderate intensity, yet decidedly uncomfortable at high intensity. It’s a time-saving choice if your joints and current level of physical ability allow you to try high intensity once or twice a week.
Kymberly: Lovette, we made this video just for you (and anyone else we can corral) about the difference between low, moderate, and high intensity cardio levels. Feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Really. Now.
Alexandra: One little side note (as opposed to “snide,” which I would never use with anyone unless it’s my sister) is to differentiate between high intensity and high impact. Many high intensity moves are also high impact (i.e., jacks, burpees, running), but if you’re like me (one reconstructed soccer knee and two big-headed kids pushed out that tiny birth canal), you don’t like high impact. So you can always do high intensity in the pool, on the elliptical or even on the step or large stability ball!
Go forth. Move and Lose. Eat. Rinse. Repeat.
Kymberly: As for your question as to whether you need to work out more than twice a week to drop this weight in this time frame. HAYUL YES! Skip the part about 2 hours per session, but you need to get busy at least 5 days a week. Include both strength training and aerobic workouts.
Readers: Who has successfully lost and kept off 10 pounds? How? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?
Photo Credit: Creative Commons: Mike Schmid
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
We are asked a LOT by our students and readers if soy is a good pre- or post-workout food. It’s a protein, and if you click to read the link you’ll discover
a picture of donuts and coffee that carbs and protein are your best choice after a workout. Soy has been controversial (The only food that isn’t controversial is dark chocolate – right?), so we try to stay up on the latest so we can give you our informed answer of “it depends.”
Alexandra: My son was allergic to soy when he was young, yet I can eat a gi-mantic bowl of edamame and feel nothing but full. So when we were offered the chance to write about some new research that just came out about the benefits of soy protein in combination with whey and casein, I was right in front,
shoving my colleagues out of the way raising my hand. Because I’m a vegetarian, I’m always interested in finding ways to get a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in my diet, especially as I’m not fond of fish oil (who is, I want to know? And who’s keeping anchovies on the pizza menus? Gag).
Kymberly: I am fond of fish oil that comes in fish. I like fish.
Without going in-depth about the research (we’d enjoy it, but you might start to glaze over and drool a bit), the bottom line is that soy (in combo with whey & casein) has been found to prolong muscle building and recovery after exercise. The study was done with college-aged subjects, yet the implications for helping older adults deal with sarcopenia (muscle wasting) are really exciting to me (not because we’re old; because we plan to BECOME old)!
Before you say in all caps, ‘FOLLOW THE MONEY,” we’ll tell you right out that the research was funded by Solae LLC (they develop soy-based ingredients). We didn’t have to follow that hard; it’s listed on the abstract! But, we kept following and found out that Solae has also been recognized for 3 years in a row as a world leader in ethics.
Alexandra: So I’m going to do what I have been doing all along – eat a balanced diet that has all kinds of organic choices, in moderation, which includes soy and soy-based foods. Heck, the Japanese have been eating tofu, bean paste and edamame for centuries and they’re healthier than we who eat a western diet! However, I will NOT be eating natto. That stuff looks, smells and tastes like a science project gone mutant. I tried it at the National Products Expo so you wouldn’t have to! It’s tied with Marmite for nastiest food in the universe as far as I’m concerned.
What about you? Are you more interested in post-exercise muscle building and recovery, or the possibilities for preventing sarcopenia in older age? Me, I’m off to figure out why our dachshund likes to eat empty edamame pods.
Are you on Twitter? There is a Twitter chat about soy protein on Wednesday, May 23, 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST, hashtag #SoyProtein. Join the chat. Bring your questions. Do your workout first!
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.
In our previous post we wrote about the benefits of humor for staying healthy. Today it’s all about heart health. It’s almost dinnertime, so food is on our minds. Before we talk about the Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds I just ate, you get to take a quiz. What is the difference between these two hearts?
The answer is…Nothing. They are both healthy hearts. Bet you were tempted to say something about the plate colors or the size of the hearts, eh? It was a trick question because the hearts are made of almonds, and the American Heart Association (AHA) just certified the Whole Natural, Roasted Salted, Low Sodium, Sea Salt, No Salt and Honey Dijon flavors as heart-healthy.
Here’s some professional nagging from Alexandra, and if you’re one of her university students, you have to listen in case this makes the quiz – “Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., which is distressing, because so many of its causes are preventable. For example, who ate breakfast today? And was it from food close to the ground or was it processed into oblivion?
A quick story about our dad, who just lost about 50 pounds – After coming very close to being wheelchair-bound, our dad decided to lose weight. His health problems were due to a lack of activity and overeating. He significantly changed his diet and has stuck to it. For breakfast he has almonds, fruit, his coffee (he’s 83 and isn’t planning to give that up), and cereal (not the kind that comes in primary colors). So to us, having our dad “back” is associated with these foods, so you bet we’re almond fans! And how is a story of our dad relevant for National Women’s Health Week? He has three living daughters whose hearts would be healthy, yet broken, if he died due to preventable causes. So do what our dad did – but sooner!
* Get regular exercise (aim for 20 minutes a day if you’re currently doing nothing).
* Cut the high-fat, high-sugar, highly processed foods that you don’t absolutely love out of your diet. If we tell you to cut them all out, you won’t do it, so just cut out the ones you don’t love.
* Focus on protein and carbs that are close to the ground – meaning you can identify their origins. And healthy fat should be part of a healthy diet too.
Why Blue Diamond Almonds? Well, besides the AHA heart-healthy certification, don’t they make you think of skiing? We’re both blue square intermediate skiers who have done a few black diamond runs, which makes us Blue Diamond Girls, right?
Anyway, follow the path (or ski run) to a healthy heart. Move More. Eat Less. Eat Better. Feel Better. By the way, cats and dachshunds like the Whole Natural Almonds. This was discovered when they interfered with the photo session!
What do you eat for breakfast? For a healthy snack? What are you willing to give up?
Join us for a Tweetchat on Monday, May 21, 6 pm PST/ 9 pm EST, using the hashtag #BlueDiamond. We will be discussing hearts, health and food. Probably no discussion of our dad.
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.
We were once asked (really? just once?) if we were aware our jokes are corny. And prior to an interview the other day we were sent this potential interview question: “Your writing style is quite casual and humorous. Do you feel this unique approach resonates with your readers? Are you ever concerned it could affect your credibility?”
My answers are “sort of”, “maybe” and “it depends”. Growing up as a red-headed, freckled, smart, four-eyes (this term I’ve never quite understood – how can my glasses have eyes?), nail-biting, socially unconfident, flat-chested twin (am I missing anything here?), it didn’t take me past the first nap of kindergarten to realize that humor was the only thing that could save me (and getting cleavage and contact lenses as a teen). Since research has shown that humor can help with:
I figure I’m okay with corny, since it makes us all cohesive, and that’s the sticky tape that holds us all together.
As to the casual, credibility question, I guess I think you don’t have to be serious to be taken seriously. After more than 25 years as fitness writers, speakers, presenters, teachers, mentors and even award-winners, we hope people will see value in what we write. Even if that doesn’t happen, we still made you healthier if you laughed at stuff like this:
Yeah, I’m a Healthy Hottie! I’m going to live a long time. I’ve already achieved my dream – embarrassing the heck out of my teens just by existing (and talking about my 80s and 90s workout wear). And while I’m living longer, it will be with less stress, more relaxation, zapped up dopamine and endorphins, and less pain.
Okay, did any of you ever see the movie “The In-Laws” with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk? The year that movie came out I had 4 wisdom teeth pulled. When I was coming out of the anesthesia, I got off my recovery bed, wandered into the operating room, asked where the party was, then went outside and tried to re-enact the “serpentine” maneuver. It’s here for your reference:
I believe I was captured and returned to the recovery room by my mom, who laughed her ass off. Was it a humorous outlook that made my brain override the pain of the surgery? What else could it have been, hmm?
For the record, I was wearing regular clothes, not an open gown. That was probably best, since my re-enactment was in a public parking lot. Also for the record, my #1 favorite topic is Clive Owen. Or Colin Firth. Or my kids. Depends on a variety of hormonal factors; theirs and mine!
Humor also has cognitive and emotional benefits, which I interpret to mean that if I have writer’s block on a post such as this, I can just grin away and inspiration and creativity will come to me. Or I’ll just bite my nails for a while. Oh, even if you’re not feeling overly joyful, pasting a fake smile on actually tricks your brain, so you get some health benefits anyway. I’ll wait while you try it.
Did it work?
This post is part of a bloggers’ challenge. If you want to participate, just write a post between May 13-19 about a women’s health issue that is meaningful to you, then click on the picture below to link it up. Please feel free to leave your link in our comment section below too!
And smile! Or frown and stand on your head. Either way you’ll get healthier! And you do know that exercise makes you happier, right?
What makes you laugh out loud? Smile quietly to yourself?
The link via “glasses” is to our affiliate Warby Parker. If you buy something (please do), we make enough money for some lens cleaner.
I am so excited to be writing this post! I have been a long time reader of Alexandra and Kymberly, and I feel honored to have the opportunity to write for them! Thanks ladies!
Okay, so if you’re not an avid gym goer, you might be saying “what’s there to enjoy about working out?” We all know exercise burns calories, helps you tone up, and be healthier. But these are things you would respond with “well, no duh!”
So today, I present some of the amazing benefits of working out that you maybe haven’t heard about that will make you say “oh, cool!”
Now is the time to get moving. No more excuses. If you are already following a regular workout plan then you can smile knowing the amazing things you’re doing for your body. Sure weight loss is important and a great motivator but isn’t it refreshing to see all the other benefits you can get?
Photos provided and paid for via Taylor Ryan from www.stockphoto.com
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: I took these photos while out on various power walks. Get fit; see nature; take pics; pair with quotes; share with you! What could be better?
This last quote–“Strive for Perfection, Not Progress“–is actually one of our favorites as it underscores our philosophy: process over an overwhelming goal; do something consistently versus do nothing or very little perfectly. We have run into so many people who say they want to be active, yet are stopped by “rules.” “Go this often, do exactly this routine, in this order, at this intensity. Don’t eat this; do eat that, and so on.” If you are already fit, then fine tuning like this is important. But if you are minimally active then anything is better than nothing. The key is to take action in the right direction as some action begets more action.
If motivational quotes help kick start your day, then use them (as they can’t be abused, really).
Alexandra: I am motivated by a quote from our colleague Dr. Michael Luan. He says, “What you move, you lose.” So if you twist your upper body when you walk, your chest will get smaller. If you move from the core, you can trim your waist. You can guess which one I prefer! As to my outfit, people have been wondering what we wear besides workout clothing, so this is one outfit that motivates me to stay fit, as I love these crazy shorts and want to fit into them forever!
Blue top – Green Apple Active
Wine top & Shorts – Ann Taylor
P.S. Did you know we compiled e-books chock full of inspirational, funny, on target health and fitness quotes: 63 Motivational Quotes and 73 Exercise Quotes? For one of the e-books (Mind Your Fitness – Mojo-vational Quotes and Sayings) we collaborated with one of best online motivators we know, Heather Frey of SmashFit. You can get our “30 Quotes to Fit You” e-book free by when you purchase any of the other documents. This compilation gives you a progressive quote a day for a month so you can stay on track when you start a new workout effort.
Also free via my Pinterest board, Quotes: Motivation and Exercise are a few Inspirational quotes like the three above. Why not follow us on Pinterest while you’re at it? KymberlyFunFit Pinterest and AlexandraFunFit Pinterest
Kymberly: We hear your cry, louder than a baby’s and are here with good news/ bad news. The good news: we wrote a post called Wave Bye Bye to Baby Weight on this very subject that is loaded with help for your exact situation. Start by reading that and trying those exercises. More good news: We created a video with a super tummy tightening abs exercise that is a waistline definer plus all-over core strengthener. Try the Side Lying Plank Rotation Move and feel the challenge right away.
As for the bad news: You’ve got to get a move-on as summer is fast approaching. You are going to need to add more mid- to high-intensity cardio activity to your routine to burn the extra fat you may still be carrying.Add mid- to high-intensity cardio to burn off extra fat you may be carrying. Click To Tweet
Alexandra: Your tummy weight is probably two things – muscles that haven’t paid rent in a long time (possibly with stretched skin on top), and extra fat. The muscles can be toned via the video we made just for you, as well as via these other posts: Fab Abs 1, Fab Abs 2, and Fab Abs 3 (do those sound like 3 seasons of Absolutely Fabulous)?
As my sister mentions above, you will need to do some intense cardio to burn off the extra weight. I don’t know if you gave birth via the Big C or the Just Right V, but if it was the latter, you probably don’t like jumping activities, right? I pushed out two big-headed boys and hate to jump ‘cause it feels like I’m going to pee my pants. (Men, don’t read this bit…jumping actually does make me pee my pants. I hate that, and yes, I do my Kegels. And my kids are teens now. They had BIG heads). We have a post called “Move Your Duff if You Want to Get Buff,” which goes into the “short time frame, big fitness goals,” but you might wish to do your high intensity in the pool or stick more with moderate-intensity and lose the excess weight a wee bit slower. Me, I prefer that path to buff glory! Try Step, stroller-based classes or our group fitness classes.
Readers who have given birth and fought that “baby” weight after at least a year: What worked for you?