Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Ultimate Workout Playlist For Men

Nothing compliments a grueling workout better than a kick ass playlist. If you're anything like me, you wouldn't dare hit the gym or go for a run without your headphones and iPod in hand. Not only does music make working out much more enjoyable, but studies also show that "it can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent," according to Costas Karageorghis, an expert on the relationship between music and exercise. He even calls music "a legal drug for athletes."

Creating a workout playlist is a true art, and a real gym junkie will tell you that they've spent countless hours trying to perfect their track list. If you're looking to create your own playlist or change up an existing one, check out these awesome songs that help us stay pumped and energized throughout our workouts.

1. Eminem- Lose Yourself

2. Avicii- Wake Me Up
3. Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake- Holy Grail
4. Kanye West- POWER
5. Imagine Dragons- Radioactive
6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- Can't Hold Us

7. The Killers- Somebody Told Me
8. Kayne West & Jay-Z- Clique
9. Eric Prydz- Call on Me
10. Young The Giant- My Body
11. Feelin' Myself
12. Skrillex- Bangarang
13. Kanye West- Stronger

14. Avicii-  Levels
15. Jay-Z & Linkin Park- Numb/Encore

Leave us a comment letting us know what you're favorite workout songs are.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Challenge Yourself

When it comes to fitness and health, staying motivated can often times be really difficult. Some people can stay motivated for a week, some for a month, some for a year, and some can't even make it through their first workout. Everyone finds their motivation in their own ways, but one thing I find really helpful are motivational quotes. They're so simple and such an easy way to help you stay focused. I like to use motivational quotes as my cell phone background because it's a constant reminder of my goals every time I look at my phone.

One of my all time favorite quotes is "If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you", by Fred Devito. This quote is pretty self explanatory but it's such a powerful statement. If you want to change yourself, you need to go outside of your comfort zone, and do something that scares or intimidates you. You're not going to get anywhere in life by taking the easy way out. You must be willing to challenge yourself in order to make your dreams a reality. You can use this to motivate yourself to run an extra lap, do an extra rep, run a little faster, or lift heavier weights. Once you can push yourself into a level of discomfort, that's when you'll start seeing the results. 

You have the power to make anything happen as long as you stay focused, whether you want to lose 20 pounds, build up your biceps, or finally get those six pack abs. Yes, these accomplishments will definitely be a physical challenge, but the mental battle is so much bigger. You'd be surprised with what you can make your body do if you can just get your mind right and convince yourself that you are capable of great things.

This quote doesn't have to apply solely to your fitness. You should be challenging yourself in all aspects of your life to continuously grow. Know what you want to do with your life, put in the work, and go make it happen.

 Push yourself to do better, and you will become better.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What To Eat Before & After A Workout

Ready to go workout? Hold up! Lets's make sure you're properly fueling your body before your workout so you can get the most of it. Not only do you need to fuel your body with the proper nutrients before working out, but it is also crucial that you know how to properly refuel your body when you're done.

Your pre-workout meal is so essential because it is your body's primary source of energy for your workout, and it is what will keep you going, whether you're running, lifting, cycling, playing sports, etc. For optimal performance, the two things that your body needs are proteins and carbohydrates. The timing of this meal can be dependent on your preferences and the size of your meal, but a good rule of thumb is to try to eat 30-90 minutes before your workout. Here are some awesome pre-workout snack ideas:

  • Apple or banana with nut butter 
  • Hardboiled eggs on whole wheat toast
  • Greek yogurt with fresh berries
  • Oatmeal and eggs
  • Protein shake

Your post-workout meal is also something not to be looked over because this is when you need to refuel and replenish your body. If you skip this meal, your body will not be able to rebuild all the muscle fibers that were broken down during your workout, and you'll find yourself much more sore. Since you used carbohydrates and protein for energy during your workout, these are obviously the two foods that your body needs to refuel with. You want to consume this meal as soon as you can after you're done workout out, ideally within 30 minutes of finishing.  Check out these great post-workout snack ideas:

  • Handful of nuts, dried fruit, and seeds
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Veggie omelet
  • Protein pancakes
  • Tuna salad on whole grain crackers

Something to keep in mind when choosing your pre/post workout foods is to make sure you are eating the right types of carbs and proteins. By this I mean, opt for whole grains and lean proteins. When it comes to starchy carbs, always go for brown rice over white rice, sweet potato over a regular white potato, and whole grain toast over white bread. As far as proteins, the leaner the protein the better. Skinless chicken breast, egg whites, fish, and lean ground turkey are always excellent options. 

What are your favorite pre and post workout foods?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cardio Is King

Apart from proper diet and nutrition, cardio is king when it comes to weight loss. Cardio is such a great weight loss tool because it gets your heart rate up, making your body work extra hard to provide oxygenated blood to all your muscles, allowing you to burn more calories. Cardiovascular activity can include anything from biking to swimming to jumping rope to dancing, and anything in between. It's always a good idea to switch up your workouts, but here's a few basic forms of cardio to get you started.

1. HIIT Workouts- HIIT (short for High Intensity Interval Training) workouts are amazing because they can be done in the comfort of your own home. They involve a series of high intensity bursts followed by short periods of rest/ recovery. Click here to read the article about HIIT workouts posted a few weeks ago.

2. Running- Running is awesome because it's a surefire way to get your heart pumping. Because it is high impact, it will raise your heart rate much faster than a low impact exercise, in addition to increasing the strength of your bones and tissues. The best thing about running is that you can do it practically anywhere. All you need is a good pair of shoes and you're set! If you want to burn some extra calories, try adding some simple intervals or hills to your run. By changing up the pace/difficulty of your run, your heart rate will constantly be changing, which will allow you to burn more calories.

3. Swimming- If you're body can't handle the rough impact caused by running or you're recovering from an injury, then you should jump in the pool. Swimming is great because it is extremely low impact, saving you from unwanted stress and pain on your skeletal system. Not only is it low impact, but it can do wonders for you in terms of building muscle. Because the water provides such an increased resistance to your natural movements, you will be able to build/ tone your muscles while getting your cardio in at the same time.

4. Hiking- What's there not to like about hiking? It's got everything you need in a workout...and its fun! Walking up and down uneven terrain will definitely get your heart rate up, tone your legs, and improve bone strength. Being outdoors will also provide you with your daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun. Hiking is so great because you can make it as hard or as easy as you want. Trail maps always show you the easiest and most difficult ways to get up the mountain, which makes it super simple to decide which routes to take depending on how intense of a workout you're up for. If you really want to challenge yourself with the ultimate workout, you can even try running the trails.

For those of you who want to burn a few extra calories without doing an actual workout, try these simple ideas below:

  • Choosing a parking spot that's farther away so you'll have to walk a little further 
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Take your dog for a walk
  • Get those pesky house hold chores done
  • Go play outside with your kids
  • Spice things up- spicy foods have been proven to help burn more calories
  • Do some calf raises or squats while you brush your teeth
  • Bike to work once or twice a week
Comment below with your favorite forms of cardio!