Author: Stephanie Weishaar

Personal Fitness Trainer, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

5 Benefits of a Kettlebell Workout

  1. The solution for busy people
    Busy people want the biggest bang for the buck. Kettlebells can be the solution to trying to squeeze cardio, strength AND flexibility training in an already overbooked schedule.
  2. Greater fat loss
    Fat gets the ol’ one-two-three punch. First, there is the extremely high metabolic cost of throwing the weight around. Second, it’s a strength training workout creating dense muscle mass, which burns calories from fat stores all day long while increasing your resting metabolism. There is no better way to burn fat. This is why sprinters have ripped muscles and marathon runners have a skinny look.
  3. It’s enjoyable
    Let’s face it, most exercise is boring. Kettlebell training is quick and enjoyable, which is one of the reasons you’ll stick with it.
  4. Helps low back pain
    The glutes and all the hip muscles are strongly emphasized by KB training. Not only do they get much stronger, they wake up and start participating in your movement. Mechanically, if you’re not firing your glutes when you lift or extend your hip, you are compensating by overusing your lower back muscles. The low back muscles were NOT intended to do the job of your glutes. Your body learns a more correct, much more powerful movement pattern that helps everything you do — and your low back stops complaining.
  5. Develop core strength
    Kettlebells require you to engage the core in almost every lift. Kettlebell’s have a reputation for strengthening backs and abs like nothing else before.

10 Tips to help you stay fit and feeling great throughout the holiday season

1. Hit the weights: Muscle aids in burning fat, and will help to fight off the extras that you normally don’t eat. If you’re going to cut your workout short, I suggest hitting the weights even at the expense of cardio. Use supersets or a full body circuit to make your workout more aerobic.

2. Eat before the party: It may sound absurd, but eat a small clean meal before any holiday party. Do not arrive starving. You will be less likely to indulge in the chocolate cream puffs or peppermint bark.

3. Treat yourself, but use moderation: Allow yourself to indulge but don’t over eat. Forbidding yourself of something will only create you to binge later. Enjoy your cheat, but don’t let it get out of control.

4. Stay Active: Even if it’s not your normal workout routine, try to get out and move for at least 30 minutes. On average, 30 minutes of moderate activity such as walking can burn 200 calories. That’s two glasses of wine you can enjoy without packing on a single pound!

5. Host a party: Take control and throw a killer holiday bash. With all that constant moving, planning, cooking and preparing, you’re bound to burn some extra calories (as long as you send your guests home with the leftovers). If you’re not the hostess with the mostess, you can still help out. Staying on your feet, serving food, and helping with the dishes will help keep you away from the buffet and bar, of course.

6. Easy on the alcohol: Alcohol decreases your inhibitions, which may lead you to eat the whole plate of Santa’s cookies, instead of just one. If you’re going to drink, stick with wine or light beer and stay away from high calorie cocktails or fancy coffee drinks.

7. Women, buy yourself a cute holiday dress: There is no better motivation to exercise and eat clean then when you have a sassy dress hanging in your closet. Channel your inner sexiness and rock your new dress at the holidays! Confidence is the secret to looking good.

8. Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated will keep help you keep your metabolism up and burn more calories. Drinking enough water also gives you a sense of fullness so you are less likely to consume more food.

9. Give back: Tis the season. Give to someone who is less fortunate or donate to your favorite charity. Nothing will make you feel better than to help someone who is in need during the holidays.

10. Create a home workout routine: For those times you can’t make it to the gym, workout using your own body as resistance. Incorporate exercises such as push-ups, bench dips, lunges, sumo squats, crunches, planks, and bridges.

Strengthen your GLUTES!

When you think about the best exercises to strengthen your glutes, squats, lunges, and step ups may come to mind. But all of these exercises can get a little boring, and some of them are not recommended for folks with knee injuries. Luckily, there is an exercise that you can do with minimal equipment that isolates your glutes and hip abductors that delivers greater returns on your gym time than squats, lunges, and step ups combined. This exercise is the X-Band Walk.

To complete the X-Band Walk:
For equipment, all you need is a resistance band. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart stepping on the resistance band. Cross the band (make an “X” with the band) at the knee joint and hold the band in each hand with your elbows bent to 90 degrees. Keep your knees slightly bent. Step out to the right for 10 reps, then step backwards for 10 reps, then to the left for 10, then forward for 10. Always face forward, so that you step in a box formation and return to your starting point.

How does the X-Band Walk benefit your back side?
Unlike other more popular glute exercises, the X-Band Walk isolates the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius. Although most of us are familiar with the gluteus maximus muscles (they form what we call our “butt”) the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius play a key role in the stability and power that we generate from our back sides.

5 Ways to Fight Stress and Burn Fat

Your body is meant to protect you, but when it’s constantly on alert, your health can pay the price. Controlling your stress on a daily basis is important for your well-being and can help you burn fat.
When you are stressed your body produces the hormone “cortisol.” Excess cortisol can produce weight gain, specifically in the abdominal area. If not managed, your long term health can be at great risk.
Try these 5 things to help manage your stress and fight off that unwanted belly fat.

  1. TAKE A LUNCH BREAK. Don’t just keep working while you scarf down a healthy salad at your desk. Read a book; take a walk, or a try a new restaurant. Giving your brain a break will allow you to be more productive.
  2. TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. I know this can be tough, but turning your phone off at night will allow you get a restful night of sleep. I know you want to check your blackberry at 2am, but don’t. It will stress you out. Turn the thing off. It’s good for you.
  3. TREAT YOURSELF TO A MASSAGE. Massage can be a great way to unwind. Not only is it great for your muscles, but also it can clear your mind and give you time to yourself.
  4. EXERCISE. Move your body! 20 minutes of moderate exercise will help the brain better cope with stress plus improve your overall health.
  5. LAUGH. Laughter is the purest form of human expression that transcends all ages, castes, creeds, religions, and differences. It truly is the best medicine and can cure stress and anxiety.

Break-FAST, Rev Up Your Fat Burning Machine!

You know the how the saying goes, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” It’s true. Studies show that eating breakfast can dramatically help a person lose weight and/or maintain a slim figure. Now, this doesn’t mean you get to order that tasty pastry at Starbucks or eat a bowl full of sugary cereal. What you choose for breakfast will make a huge difference in your overall health and how your body will burn fat.

After fasting all night, breakfast will kick start your metabolism and give you long lasting energy if you choose the right foods such as whole grains, fruits, non-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, etc. Watch out for foods loaded with refined sugars! These foods offer little nutritional value and will cause your blood sugar to rise and fall very quickly. Leaving you feeling tired and hungry, and in my case, cranky. No bueno.

The sooner you eat, the sooner your body will become a fat burning machine. Yes please! Here is one of my favorite recipes for guys and gals who tell me you do not want to wake up 10 minutes early to prepare breakfast.

Oatmeal While You Sleep
This recipe uses steel cut oats and a slow cooker; assemble the ingredients before bed and breakfast will be waiting for you in the morning.

Ingredients
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup chopped apple
4 cups water
½ cup non-fat or low-fat milk
¼ – ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans make a great addition)

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the nuts, in a slow cooker and set to low heat.
  2. Cover the slow cooker and let cook for 8-9 hours overnight.
  3. In the morning, stir the oatmeal and add the nuts.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

If you would like more ideas for a healthy, fat-burning breakfast, please contact personal fitness trainer Stephanie Weishaar.

Bump, Set, Spike It!

Volleyball is an excellent form of exercise. Not only is it fun and competitive, but you can burn up to 700 calories per hour. It is a great polymetric workout, and uses big muscle groups such as your glutes, quads, shoulders, and core.

There are three components of the game. Passing, setting, and hitting. Otherwise known to the average person as bump, set, spike!

Passing is essential to the game. If the team cannot pass the ball, they cannot win the game! Learning how to pass the ball should be your first priority when learning to play. Your goal is to have your pass go right to the top of the setter’s head without making him or her move. It is important to focus on your platform angle and moving your feet to the ball. Perfecting these two things along with repetition will start to improve your passing skills and help your team tremendously.

Setting the volleyball is one of the most difficult skills to teach and takes a lot of practice to master. The setter is the quarterback of the team. They run the show and call the shots. The key to setting is to keep the ball on your fingertips and not ever touch it with your palms. Make a triangle with your thumbs and forefingers and practice setting against the wall. This will start to help you gain a soft touch on the volleyball.

Hitting the volleyball is usually the team’s third contact. The best way to go about learning how to hit is to split it up into separate parts. Approach, positioning, arm swing, and timing. Hitting takes good coordination and lots of work to master. For a player, this is usually the most popular component to practice and master!

Perfecting each of these three components will help take your team to the next level. You cannot have one without the other. They are essential to the game and needed to get that great BUMP, SET, SPIKE!

Are you looking to tune up your backyard volleyball skills? Or maybe you want to learn more about the game and improve your court awareness? Volleyball is an excellent way to have fun and get a great workout. Working with our Personal Fitness Trainer and former Pac10 volleyball player, Stephanie Weishaar, can help take your game to the next level.

Will Your Muscles Be Able to Save You?

My muscles have saved me on numerous occasions and they can help save you too! When I give into that chocolate croissant or feel like doing nothing but watch football on Sundays, my muscles save me! When I lock myself out of my house and need to climb in through the second story window, my muscles save me! Or, when I need to move my TV all by myself up four flights of stairs, my muscles save me. Muscles can also change your body composition and give you those solid shoulders, shape a sexy back, and lift your butt. Who wouldn’t want to reap these benefits? Muscles Rock!

It’s very important, when building lean muscle, that you are performing each movement correctly. If you have never done resistance training before, it is a good idea to work with a fitness professional. They can help you develop a routine and build a foundation for your specific type of training.

So grab your gym face, and your sneakers too. Its time to hit the weights! For more information on muscle building or toning please contact any of our qualified fitness staff. If you are interested in setting up a training session please contact the SAC’s fitness director Jacob Galloway.