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Clothing for Muscular Women – 4 Simple Rules - I was inspired to write this article after having an emotional experience with clothes. I have a history of ripping pants, long-sleeved shirts, and never finding jeans that fit my quads, calves, and waist uniformly. I usually laugh at this. It’s kind of a source of pride: knowing I’ve grown enough muscle to burst out of clothes made for average girls and having an athletic build that is not the societal norm. But around 2010, when my mom bought me a dress that made me look like a bulky mini hulk, I thought my muscles were too unfeminine to look appropriate in a dress. I had athletically-induced fashion disorder or AIFD (coined by myself). It was not until I learned that shapes (or the cut of an item of clothing) were my problem, not my body. I’ve since been able to wear dresses, skinny jeans, long-sleeved shirts — anything I wish. We all know muscular women look great naked, but finding the right clothing to flatter our physiques can be tricky. Some styles can artificially broaden our bodies and make us look blocky. This is because most clothing is designed for the masses: skinny, average, or plus-sized people. The guidelines below can help make clothes shopping for a muscular build simple. *** This page updates regularly to keep up with changing trends. *** Rule 1. Accentuate your shoulders and arms with form-fitting, shoulder-flattering, and/or sloping necklines Rule 2. Not so tight — look for breezy and/or halter-style tops, instead of skin-tight styles For work or a professional style, flowy tops flatter a muscular or athletic upper body. My biceps are 12 ½ inches, and this rule has never failed me when looking for work clothes. Sleeveless tops with a square-shaped neckline broaden the upper body, whereas sleeveless tops with haltered necklines have a narrowing effect on the upper body, while showing off shoulder and trap muscles. The solution: eliminate and/or avoid square-shaped necklines from your wardrobe. Extra tip: Avoid horizontal stripes, as this design definitely creates an illusion of broadness across the body. Professional Wear View on Amazon   Casual Wear   Rule 3. Feel free to dress up. Don’t be afraid of (stretchy) long sleeves, and you can’t go wrong with strapless Stick with V-necks and straps that rest close to the neck. This creates the illusion of a longer torso and makes muscles pop!   For well-developed glutes, a form-fitting dress can look beautiful and impressive. A skirt or dress that falls just above the knee can look just as flattering. I don’t recommend going too short or too tight. Short and/or tight skirts and dresses can be cute on a skinny girl, but a muscular girl is often more of an eyeful and may draw more attention than desired. The choice is up to you. Rule 4. When it comes to pants, accentuate your shapely legs and look for fitted, stretchable styles; also try roomy styles The best-fitting work pants I’ve ever purchased: Everyday stretch pants and flowy pants, all colors Check out Pac Sun for jeans designed for an athletic build. Many of my jeans and shorts are from the Bullhead line at Pac Sun. Sports tops, tanks, and pants Triangle-shaped tops with straps are close to your neck and not directly on your shoulders flatter muscular traps and shoulders. Racerbacks also flatter an athletic upper body.   Exercise pants are easy to buy because they’re already stretchable! Bodysuits also often have built-in stretchability.   Summary of what NOT to wear: For tops and blouses, stay away from wide straps that sit directly on your shoulders. Wide straps or the placement of straps far from the center of the body often create a blocky appearance. For bottoms, stay away from restricting materials. Tight clothing with limited stretchability or elasticity restrict healthy blood circulation — something a fit woman should care about. Unless your skinny jeans are stretchable, consider staying clear of them. Take the above four simple rules and rule the clothing aisles and your closet. If you have some tips of your own, please share them with me. Fit women and girls have to help each other on our respective fitness journeys. I want your feedback. How can this article be improved? Some of the above images take you to Amazon.com for purchase. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.   Article initially published on May 4, 2015 - Updated and republished on May 4, 2018
Best Home Gym Equipment for COVID-19 Self-Isolation - Spurred into a fitness equipment shopping frenzy by COVID-19 self-isolation orders, I’ve narrowed down some of the best equipment to purchase for living room, garage, or bedroom fitness. I stopped training exclusively at home over 10 years ago, and I sold all my equipment back then. But now that all gyms have closed because of national stay-at-home orders, I’m forced to rebuild my home gym. Instead of getting a bunch of weights (because I was a bodybuilder the last time I had a home gym), I purchased a handful of choice fitness tools to support me as the functional athlete I am now. The primary equipment I ordered are Olympic rings and a foldable pull-up/muscle-up station I can do various bodyweight exercises on. Below are other affordable home gym options that won’t kill your living space by quantity or with bulk.  For convenience, I’ve categorized each piece of equipment by exercise goal. Strength Pull-up Stand Do pull-ups, muscle-ups, hanging ab exercises; attach rings and do ring movements. This indoor exercise stand enables you to do more than the traditional exercise stations at local gyms, which often don’t permit free movement to do muscle-ups, kipping, or aerial movements.   Olympic Rings Rings can help anyone build a strong, functional body with as little equipment as possible and are perfect if you have a tight budget or little room to setup a home gym.     Bands for Full-body Exercise Resistance bands are often underrated for their strength-building capabilities and are often relegated to warm-up and rehab movements. But resistance bands can be used to build muscle and strength. Various resistance levels enable you to incorporate progressive overload in your training with no need for a complete weight rack. Booty Bands   Stackable Weights With stackable weights, you can train your upper and lower body without consuming too much space in your home. The set pictured below is affordable and from the reputable brand Les Mills. Don Oliver BODYPUMP® WEIGHT SET WITH BAR Entry level bar and weight system for strength and cardio training. [More] Price: $130.00 Buy Now Body Weights Maximize calorie burn by incorporating resistance to multi-joint movements or cardio. See some affordable options below that won’t take up more than a corner of space in your home. Ankle Weights Ankle / Wrist Weight Pair by Day 1 Fitness- 10 Weight Options – 0.5 to 10 lbs EACH, Set of 2, Adjustable Straps Weighted Vest Sand Bags Adjustable Sandbags with Filler Bags Stability A workout that incorporates stability and resistance builds strength and muscle, so you won’t have to worry about losing hard-earned muscle during however many COVID-19 stay-at-home orders we’re subjected to. Bosu Ball Stability Ball Exercise Ball (Multiple Sizes) for Fitness, Stability, Balance & Yoga – Workout Guide & Quick Pump Included Balance Board Flexibility Yoga Block + Mat Combo Stretch Helper Fat loss Rebounder Portable & Foldable Trampoline – 40″ in-Home Mini Rebounder with Adjustable Handrail Jump rope Battle rope (garage fitness, backyard fitness) Because businesses deemed “unessential” by world governments are closing, I suggest getting your home exercise equipment orders in as soon as possible. I just put in my order, and (fingers crossed) I should get my equipment later this week. I have a feeling many of us will be trying new exercises and gaining new skills due to our need to get creative to stay fit. I know I will be pushing myself. I wish you all the best of fitness during this strange period in our history.
Quick Leg Day Exercise - Pistol w/ 15lb KB counterweight. Form and depth are more important than speed. View this post on Instagram Pistol w/ 15lb KB counterweight. Form and depth are more important than speed. #pistol #pistolsquat #bodyweighttraining #legday #unilateraltraining #functionaltraining #singlelegsquat #calisthenics #calisthenicsmovement #fitmom A post shared by @ sylviapetrofit on Mar 16, 2020 at 8:32pm PDT
Bodyweight Training: Save Money, Prevent Injuries, and Stay Fit for Life - Bodyweight training is surging in popularity. This trend can be seen in the form of the calisthenics fitness movement and is the foundation of CrossFit training. If you follow any fitness tags on IG, Snapchat, or TikTok, you’ve surely seen posts of people performing gravity-defying yoga stands or difficult strength and technique movements, like planches or muscle-ups. But outside of the amazing strength and skill of athletes shared on social media, anyone can undertake bodyweight training, and there are three solid reasons to do so: it costs nothing, its beneficial for all age groups and levels of fitness, and it can make you stronger than the muscle-isolating, aesthetically geared workouts prevalent in commercial gyms. If you have a tight budget, are lifelong fitness minded, or are simply just alive, these perks of bodyweight training are difficult for other fitness programs to beat. The Logic of Bodyweight Exercise Bodyweight training has always been the foundation of a sound exercise regimen to build basic strength and stability before loading the body with external resistance, like free weights. This strategy, taught in personal training courses and to kinesiology students, prevents short-term injuries and reduces the formation of muscle imbalances that can lead to future injuries. The incremental methodology and synergistic elements that play into a well-made bodyweight routine, firmly place bodyweight training under the umbrella of functional training. Functional and bodyweight training are two complementary methods that lay a solid foundation for injury-free muscle and strength gains. Functional strength is more than how much weight a specific muscle can bear: it involves balance, flexibility, and coordination through whole-body movements. You will often meet people with a fitness model physique who still can’t accomplish much in the realm of functional movement, such as performing pull-ups or a strict-form deep squat. This common phenomenon is evidence that isolation routines in the weight room can make many people look athletically impressive, but their appearance is no reflection of their actual athletic abilities. Focusing on developing “mirror muscles” instead of developing all muscle groups equally, has little long-term practicality and is most often a ticking time bomb for injuries. Even though most of us want the “gym fit” look, functional strength is what we all actually need. Functional training focuses on the way humans move in day-to-day life and in athletic pursuits. Core areas of concern are establishing proper posture and correct movement habits prior to taking on complex exercise routines. If poor movement and posture fail to be corrected, dangerous movement patterns can carry over to a new routine and invite injury immediately or down the line. This is where functional and bodyweight training partner with each other. To address poor movement issues, functional training relies on building up bodyweight mobility and strength to develop core athletic movement sequences. Prevent Injuries Do you have a hunch at the base of your neck? Is one of your shoulders higher than the other? Do you have a hard time sitting on the floor? If you cannot easily squat to pick something up off the floor, bend over to touch your toes, or balance on one leg, these weaknesses should be corrected before engaging in weight-bearing exercises to avoid injury. Functional training can alleviate many forms of chronic pain and restore a full range of motion to the body. When taking on functional exercise, you should learn to assess your movement capabilities to ensure proper form and execution and also track your progress. If you lack experience with this, seek help from a professional trainer who specializes in functional movement and/or corrective exercise. Your training plan should be individualized to address and resolve your body’s specific weaknesses. How to Start Bodyweight Training The Alexander Technique is an ideal starting point for functional training. It cultivates mindfulness around the ways humans use their bodies in daily activities. The changes are subtle and incorporated into everyday life, so it is hard for some people to see it as a fitness activity. However, as you learn to align yourself properly your body will begin to build the strength and balance you didn’t even realize you were lacking. Five functional exercises that everyone should use to build their foundation are the squat, push-up, pull-up, row, and plank. These exercises alone can realign and build the entire body by developing stability, skill, and strength. If you are new to bodyweight training, it may take some time to master these basics. To overcome this introductory phase, spend fifteen to twenty minutes a day practicing the above five recommended exercises until the movements become natural. After mastering baseline bodyweight exercises, free weights can be incorporated into functional training routines to increase intensity and progressively overload muscles to build mass and improve strength. Dumbbells, kettlebells, battle ropes, and medicine balls are equipment commonly used to enhance the functional skill and strength initially gained with bodyweight movements. Final Word Bodyweight training is affordable, can be done anywhere, and is recommended for all fitness levels. Whereas, the muscle isolation-based weight training popular in many gyms and for physique competitions, increases the likeliness of developing muscle imbalances and often does. This reality is why aesthetically geared training should never be a starting point for an exercise regime or the base of anyone’s training scheme. Fitness professionals understand the risks of following physique-based training and are taught to design routines that develop a solid foundation in bodyweight skill and strength to create well-rounded, functional. But that’s not all, bodyweight training can still provide the strength challenges to build a muscular, aesthetically pleasing physique. Further Reading: “Rise of the Body-Weight Workout”: https://magazine.nasm.org/american-fitness-magazine/issues/jan-feb-2015/body-weight-training “7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day”: https://www.lifehack.org/292578/7-things-that-will-happen-when-you-do-planking-exercise-every-day
New Skill Saturday: Elbow Carts - On Saturdays, I practice skills instead of focusing on strength or calorie burn. My goal is to attempt one new skill each week. This week, I was inspired by the show Bring It on Lifetime Network. In the last episode I watched on YouTube, the dancers had to perform an elbow cartwheel. I thought it looked cool and doable for me, so here’s my first attempt. I’ll post an update when I can land on my feet. How about you? What new skill would you like to try?
2020 Self-help Message - I’ve been part of a superficial industry for a long time now: the fitness world. After seventeen years of people criticizing my body shape or exercise goals, I came to realize what I wrote below, which is intended for anyone struggling with rejection, minimization, or insults regarding their health and fitness goals. The message: don’t seek validation outside yourself I’ve learned that in all areas of life, it’s important to focus on your unique journey and not what others think or say about you. Doing otherwise can lead to a negative self-image and poor mental health. Only you know all your starting points: the struggles and obstacles you broke through to obtain your current accomplishments. Outsiders don’t see where you’ve come from, only where you are now (compared to others). Strangers, ignorant of or insensitive to your personal story, often devalue, minimize, and/or overlook all the huddles and steps you took to claim your achievements. That is the trap of seeking validation outside yourself: a slippery slope to feelings of inadequacy. Keep seeking validation (or even simply respect) from others, and soon, you’ll devalue your own trials and achievements. Outsiders only see the superficial you. Be satisfied with being the sole steward of ALL the knowledge of your personal journey and with being the shepherd of your life. Final word The fitness community is plagued with individuals suffering from a negative self-image. It is also riddled with people who rank others by the appearance of their bodies rather than by what their bodies can do and for how long someone remains committed to a life of fitness. This reveals a lack of appreciation for the skills, time, and circumstances that play into any stage of health and fitness. This particular fault in the fitness community (and society) goes against the maxims of hard work and dedication that so many of us try to teach our children and that greater society claims to value. This fault has been important to me, as I’ve been a broke single mom for my entire 17-year fitness journey, and I’m often compared to young women with no children, who are married to or dating a personal trainer, who not only trains her, but foots the bills for all kinds of body enhancements, supplements, and services for her (a common scenario). While it’s flattering to be mistaken for a 20-something, the shallow comparison is frustrating, for obvious reasons. Considering the plethora of different life circumstances, goals, strengths, and weaknesses we all have, very rarely would directly comparing individuals with one another be on a level playing field. Consequently (and obviously), granting any energy to gaining approval from others who are oblivious to your circumstances can lead to a negative self-image and poor mental health — as oftentimes, all you’ll receive is cold rejection and insults. Not to mention, some people are focused on their own goals and don’t have time nor interest in giving you a stamp of approval. For these reasons, the best route for long-term mental health while on your fitness journey or in any life pursuit is to seek and value approval from yourself. Listen to and watch the video of this message:
Kneeling Squat Jump - Below is a plyometric, functional lower body exercise. Wake your lower body and whole body up with this movement. It is a perfect exercise for the middle of a fat loss routine or as a superset move during any routine.
How I Raised My Credit Score as a Broke Single Mom - Financial literacy wasn’t a topic in my family home while I was growing up. By my early twenties, my mind was pretty much programmed to believe the financial odds were stacked against me. I never looked into building my credit because I didn’t understand the value of doing so, and after gross mismanagement of my first credit card, I was hesitant to ever get another. My debts at the time were composed of over $9k in student loans from a for-profit college (yes, I fell for one of those) and a $500, interest-gathering balance from my first credit card. In my twenty-one-year-old mind, I had simply too much debt to overcome. However, with education, came wisdom. Reading books got me physically fit, so I followed the same success tactic to get fiscally fit. Around the time I turned twenty-four, I began reading self-improvement books, starting with Million Dollar Habits by personal success coach Brian Tracy. Soon after, I fell under the Rich Dad Poor Dad spell and temporarily pursued financial freedom through real estate. Although I didn’t become a millionaire or a real estate mogul, these books inspired me to think critically about personal finance and how wealthy people strategically manage debt. So, I kept reading, and selecting books written by financial heavyweights, like Warren Buffett, and financial institutions, like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Within six months of reading my first personal finance book and applying the tips, my credit score surged from a near-stagnant 560-580 points to 650. Below are the steps I took to dramatically raise my credit score, which now sits near 800 points. The 9 Steps that Raised My Credit Score 1. Know your credit standing Don’t be afraid to check your credit score. Feeling anxiety is normal the first time you check it (and sometimes every time thereafter). Regardless, you should know what factors are contributing to your score, i.e., your credit age, number of open accounts (credit cards, loans, etc.), debt-to-income ratio, credit card utilization, and other factors. Knowing these metrics will inform you of what areas to improve. 2. Open an account One of the simplest and within-reach accounts available to the average person is a credit card. Even with a credit score of 580 and an unpaid debt of $500 on my first credit card, I was able to start rebuilding my credit with a low-balance credit card from Navy Federal Credit Union. Credit unions are a sound option for credit lines. Their interest rates can be lower, and payment terms (due dates and grace periods) are more flexible. 3. Pay it ALL off! Paying off your account(s) is the number one way to increase your credit score! I repeat: paying off your account(s) is the number one way to increase your credit score! Personal anecdote: I carried a balance on my second card for two years, and although paying it on time aided my credit (I was at 650), paying it off surged my credit score, and the bank raised my balance by thousands and offered me a second card. Less than a year after paying off the card, I was able to walk into a dealer and get approved for any car I was interested in (within reason). Not to mention, two years later, I received an offer for a Black card. In summary, paying off your cards regularly, every month if possible, spikes your credit score and opens many financial doors for you. 4. Have a healthy mixture of accounts Discover writes, “Creditors want to know you can responsibly manage a mix of credit types. That’s why your credit mix makes up about 10% of your FICO® Score.” My account mix consists of a few credit cards, a car note, and student loans. Other people might have a mortgage and a more complex account mix. Ultimately, banks and other financial institutions want to see that you can juggle different types of accounts by paying on time, staying below the recommended 30% utilization of total balance, and paying off balances (sooner than later). 5. Be selective with accounts When working to obtain a healthy credit mix, make yourself aware of the benefits and drawbacks of some account types. For example, there’s a hierarchy to credit lines: Elite: low-interest, high-balance, with sought-after perks, typically reserved for people with excellent credit and a positive debt-to-income ratio; mid-level mid-to-low interest, perks can be available, mid-level balances; starter cards or department store cards: interest can vary, balances tend to be low, and perks are limited. Be strategic and only open accounts that benefit you in as many ways as possible. An ideal credit card is high-balance, low-interest, and can be used anywhere. Why does being able to use a card anywhere matter? Because every account is a new line of credit history, and a card that can be used anywhere is one you’ll be more likely to keep open and active, maintaining an active credit history, and a closed-loop department store card. A Lowe’s card you stopped using after one-time home renovation will no longer actively contribute to improving your credit score, and if the creditor closes the account due to inactivity, your credit score can be negatively affected. To save yourself from the initial credit check ding to get a department store card and the possibility of soon having a dead-weight account followed by another credit ding when the account closes, apply for cards that can be used anywhere at the highest balance and lowest interest rate possible for your credit standing. 6. Increase your credit limits + lower your interest rates Raising your credit limit increases the size of your 30% utilization ratio. Don’t take a higher credit limit as an opportunity to spend more. Instead, use that metric to keep your overall utilization down; 10% is better than 30%. Once your credit score hits the high 600s, you can begin requesting higher credit limits on cards you have been managing steadily for some time. Managing a new account for six months to a year is often enough time to make this request. As with increasing your credit limit, lowering your interest rates equals more money in your pocket. We all know that high-interest credit cards can cost a lot of money to pay off, sometimes more than what you purchased with the card. Make obtaining low-interest rates a priority in your financial life. Again, as with interest rates, once your credit score hits the high 600s, banks and other institutions may be more willing to lower your interest rates. 7. Don’t go balance transfer crazy Balance transfers can be an excellent financial tool when you’re in a bind trying to pay off a card with, for example, a high balance or high interest. But be aware: fees often factor in, and each transfer comes with a credit inquiry. Personal anecdote: In my late twenties, I once transferred a balance on impulse when I saw my credit union was having a promotion. Unfortunately, I forgot I already transferred a balance a year prior from a second account and had not fully paid it off. A year later, I was paying two balance transfer fees plus monthly interest: three fees on top of my normal balance. Be strategic with balance transfers. Read fine print, stay on top of promotional deadlines, and follow step 3: Pay it ALL off! 8. Be in control Check all your accounts often, daily is most prudent, and check your credit score at least once per month. Keeping a steady eye on your accounts and credit score is also a good form of identity awareness because you can spot abnormal activity sooner and report it quickly. A regular, watchful eye on your accounts also reveals your spending habits, giving you an opportunity to review what proclivities to improve on. Where to check your credit score Aside from annualcreditreport.com, you can check your credit score at sites like creditsesame.com, and creditkarma.com, but my favorite places to check are with my bank and credit card companies: Navy Federal Credit Union and Discover, which, according to one of my loan advisors, provides accurate credit ratings. These institutions already have my financial information, saving me from giving up that sensitive data to another website. 9. Keep your eyes on the ball Don’t overspend. Examine your debt-to-income ratio and ask yourself what you can actually afford to charge to your accounts. Don’t rely on financial institutions to tell you whether you truly qualify for financial products. It’s not uncommon for banks to promote new credit lines and loans to people with sketchy debt-to-income ratios – it happened to me throughout my college career, when I was working 20 hours per week and making only $25k per year. Websites like personalcapital.com monitor your net worth, making staying on top of your debt-to-income ratio easy. But, again, Personal Capital is a third-party site that requires access to your sensitive financial data. Ask yourself whether you really need to hand over those details when a self-made Excel spreadsheet can suffice. To keep your hands on as much of your money as possible, don’t let your financial life to revolve around juggling payments to financial institutions. Instead, use financial products strategically to positively manipulate your credit score, so in the future you can qualify for more and better things that you really need or want, such as a new car, a home, and family vacations free of money concerns. Books that got me in financial shape: Million Dollar Habits by Brian Tracy Unfair Advantage by Robert T. Kiyosaki How to Invest $50-$5,000 by Nancy Dunnan Charles Schwab’s New Guide to Financial Independence The New Buffettology by Mary Buffett and David Clark Podcasts + Radio Shows FINRA Unscripted podcast Bloomberg Radio The Investing for Beginners Podcast
4 Simple Rules to Post-pregnancy Fat Loss - Pregnancy puts a woman’s body through some incredible changes to bring life into the world. As a woman’s waistline expands, it’s normal for her to get self-conscious about her figure and worry she may never return to her prepregnancy build. After delivering her child, she can be left with extra fat, loose skin, or both. But, if you’re an expecting mother reading this, don’t let that psych you out. Every year, plenty of women reclaim their prepregnancy figures (and sometimes a fitter body) through following tried-and-true principles, which I’ve condensed into the rule below, the same rules I followed to get a fitter body after having my son. Rule 1. Eat Nutrient-rich Foods + Avoid Empty Calories While Pregnant Pregnancy is not a free pass to overeat or eat whatever you want, despite “eating for two [or more if you’re having some combination of twins].” Pregnancy is the most crucial time in your child’s life to introduce vital nutrients and a variety of wholesome foods. As a developing human, she or he deserves optimal nutrients to thrive. Eating nutrient-dense foods is also beneficial for the mother in more ways than one: energy maintenance, promotion and support of elevated or stable mood, illness prevention, and ease of fat loss after labor. Rule 2. Breastfeed Your Newborn Producing breast milk burns calories! Typical daily caloric burn for a mother nursing one child is between 200 to 500 calories. Moreover, the process of breastfeeding your child releases progesterone, a hormone that reconstructs the uterus, which in turn tightens the abdominal wall. I’m living proof of this benefit. Before having my son, I never had a six-pack, but after one month of breastfeeding him, I saw the first signs of a six-pack and never went back. Breastfeeding has been linked to post-baby body reconstruction for a long time. The benefits of high daily caloric burn and abdominal wall tightening are partly why so many celebrities are encouraged to breastfeed their newborns. I say it is nature’s way of getting a mom back in shape – in addition, to giving their newborns the best nutrients on earth for development and good health. Warning: take care not to use added caloric burn from breastfeeding as a tool for fat loss by purposely eating less and creating a dangerous caloric deficit. An extreme calorie deficit can jeopardize the nutrient density of the milk you produce, thus rob your child of adequate nourishment. Consult a doctor about how many calories you should consume based on your body mass and energy needs while breastfeeding. Rule 3. Follow a Regular Exercise Routine I didn’t exercise regularly before having my son; in fact, I hated working out and avoided it, opting for excessive calorie restriction and dead-end dieting practices. But, after being released from the hospital with my newborn, I began exercising every other day at a 3-days/week maximum. My routine wasn’t hardcore; I just followed moderate-intensity, at-home workouts on FitTV (when the channel existed). A few months later, I developed the habit and began exercising every day, even if only for 20 minutes per session. After taking a liking to Cathe Friedrich’s training style via FitTV, I adopted a split strength training schedule and officially began my lifelong fitness journey (seventeen years as of this post). Note: before starting any post-pregnancy exercise routine, consult a doctor. Below are some general tips for success: Start with a few moderate-intensity toning and cardio sessions per week, then gradually build up to more strenuous exercise sessions. Take your newborn on stroller walks or runs or to mommy/baby exercise classes. If exercising with others motivates you, seek other new moms to train with. Sites like MeetUp.com can help you find a parent workout group in your area. Listen to your body. Don’t go overboard with exercise in a fight to get your prepregnancy figure back. With steady training (and a plan) it will come. If tips 1-3 are followed along with the nutrition tips below, getting your pre-baby body (or better) back can take one month (yes, one month) to a handful of months. Bonus tip: If you’re breastfeeding, pump or feed your baby before exercise, as this can help prevent the discomfort of having heavy breasts during exercise. Rule 4. Continue Eating Healthfully After Pregnancy Ever heard the saying, “abs are made in the kitchen”? It’s true. The best way to lose fat and keep it off to expose your abs is not through doing hundreds of crunches or hours of exercise, but through sound nutrition. What, how, and when you eat play principle roles in your body composition and how quickly and optimally you obtain results post-workout. To get started, follow these 4 simple nutrition rules: Never skip meals. Skipping meals slows down your metabolic rate, meaning you will process food less efficiently and quickly, which can lead to fat retention if you’re not eating lean, nutrient-dense foods, or if you’re eating certain macronutrients at less-than-optimal times of day (further explanation below). Eat every 2 ½ to 3 hours, about 5 and 6 small meals a day, with healthy snacks as needed to keep up your energy for your child. This proverbial practice is said repeatedly throughout gyms and diet programs for a reason: it speeds up your metabolic rate. Time matters. Eat according to what activities you will be doing each day. For example, on days that you work out, it can be beneficial to have a slightly higher caloric intake than on days you don’t train. The nutrients you eat can also be better utilized when the element of time is considered; i.e., carbohydrates are a primary source of energy for high intensity exercise, such as strength training. Eating complex, natural sources of carbs before and after a strength training workout can fuel the workout and help you recover. Neglecting proper pre and post workout nutrition at this time can be detrimental to results. Conversely, carb loading for a moderate intensity workout or on a day you are not training can lead to a nutrient surplus, causing your body to store unburned glycogen (sugar from carbohydrates). To learn more about when to best utilize certain nutrients, I recommend reading Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto. Macronutrients matter. Meaning your ratio of carbs, fat, and protein should be considered. Each food source serves its purpose for different activities you perform throughout the day. Choose the right fuel for a given activity, and you’ll burn that fuel more efficiently with little to no waste (meaning, minimal fat storage). Further, not all calories are created equal. A body shaped by a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet of fatty foods versus a body shaped by a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet of a variety of lean, natural, unprocessed foods looks, functions, and feels wholly different – and I know which body we all would prefer. To learn more about macronutrients, I recommend reading Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto. Conclusion Reclaiming your prepregnancy figure after giving birth is possible so long as you have a plan; a plan that need not be more than four steps long: 1) eat clean and healthfully while pregnant; 2) breastfeed your newborn (if possible); 3) exercise regularly, especially post-pregnancy; and 4) eat clean and healthfully post-pregnancy. By following these four rules, you can get your prepregnancy body (or better) back within months of giving birth. Additional Reading “16 Effective Tips to Lose Baby Weight After Pregnancy.” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/weight-loss-after-pregnancy#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5 Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle. Tom Venuto. https://amzn.to/33h4SFA “Labor and delivery, postpartum care.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/weight-loss-after-pregnancy/art-20047813 “Losing the Baby Weight: The Truth About Shedding Pounds After Birth.” https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/losing-baby-weight “Maintaining a Healthy Pregnancy.” https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/healthy-pregnancy#nutrition  
Woman doing muscle-up progressions Muscle-Up Progressions - The following progressions are just a few of many muscle-up progressions that exist. My gym has limited pull-up bars, so for me, using an assisted pull-up machine and rings for progressions is sufficient. However, your gym might have varying levels of bars, which can be more useful when learning muscle-ups. Regardless of whether you practice on a bar or with an assisted pull-up machine, the push-off and band techniques in the below video can be utilized to build up the strength to an unassisted muscle-up. The ring progression shown, however, works best on rings. I purchased the band used in the video on Amazon: WOD Nation Pull up Assistance Band Set  
Superset Workout Supersets Explained - A superset is strength training condensed: two or more exercises done one after the other with no rest in between. One round of back-to-back exercises equals one set. Supersets are an excellent training method for building muscle endurance and burning a lot of calories in a short workout. Other advantages — and disadvantages — of this training style are detailed below. Advantages of Supersets Cardiovascular Health By virtue of taking little rest between exercises, the body will enter an aerobic state, challenging your lungs and strengthening your heart. Doing supersets often or increasing the volume or intensity of a superset workout through increasing sets, reps, and adding exercises will further improve your cardio capacity. Agility & Speed Short rest periods and high reps can lead to increased efficiency of movement, which equals increased speed. And depending on the type of exercises in your routine, your agility can improve as well. Many superset routines engage the body fully, which requires body awareness (proprioception), core stability, deep focus, and quickness. All these elements add up to test agility. Good for Cross-Training Superset training is one of the easiest ways to shake up your regular exercise routine. Instead of searching for a whole new set of exercises to try at the gym, just pair two or more exercises and run through them with no rest between them. The pace and intensity alone will induce a markedly more challenging workout than the set/rep/rest scheme of a typical workout. Disadvantages of Supersets Unsustainable In terms of lifelong fitness, which this site is all about, supersetting is best suited for short-term training periods. Supersetting can be a stressful and difficult training method to commit to consistently. Just think about all the people you know who enthusiastically followed P90X and found themselves burned out a week or two later. Supersets are one of the primary tools used in the P90X program to create intensity. Thus, following a superset routine for brief periods, such as during a fat loss cycle before the spring or summer, is more practical and savvy than attempting to keep supersets as part of your year-round training regime. Train smarter, not harder. Limited muscle growth potential Because a principal to muscle growth is having the ability to perform an exercise as close to full capacity as possible — every set, a superset workout is then, by definition, inauspicious to muscle growth. Since supersetting requires limiting recovery between reps and sets, muscles will not recover to a level to perform refreshed each set. Risk of Injury Limited rest and recovery increases the possibility of using improper form when executing a movement, resulting in a higher risk of injury. Listen to your body. If you find yourself losing balance, getting shaky, dizzy, or in too much pain, take a break between exercises or a longer break between sets. Your primary goal should never be tearing yourself down. The best way to get in shape is to build yourself up, so don’t sabotage your progress by wearing yourself down and putting your body under too much stress. Number of sets Three sets of about four to five exercises is the normal length of a superset routine. Number of Reps Per Set 12-15 reps or 15-20 reps A mid-to-high amount of repetitions is typical of superset workouts. This because supersetting is ideal for fat loss and muscle endurance or conditioning. Following a rep range that is archetypal for strength training, 1-6 reps, can yield less caloric burn than a rep range of 12-20 reps, geared for muscle endurance and fat burn. Between-set Recovery 60-120 seconds Recovery time between sets should be a minute to a minute and a half. However, some extreme fat-burning superset routines prescribe a 30-second between-set rest period. I wouldn’t recommend this short of a rest period because lactic acid accumulated from exercise needs time to flush out. If not enough time is given, tired, under recovered limbs can get shaky and injury-prone. Try It Yourself – Full-body Superset Workout Each exercise group is one set. Perform each exercise for 12-15 reps. Rest for 30-60 seconds after each set before starting the second group of exercises. Cycle through all three exercise groups three to four times to complete the workout. Additional Reading: “Supersets for Better Muscle Gains,” HuffPost.com: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/supersets-for-better-musc_b_12380126 “20-minute Opposing Super Set Workout,” AceFitness.org: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5480/20-minute-opposing-super-set-workout    




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