Training Day 1: The Attitude

Successful fitness training begins with the right state of mind.

Have you struggled with weight loss in the past? Does the thought of “dieting” or “working out” make you run for cover? Check out Ozzie’s latest article “How to Plan A Daily Weight Loss Calendar” to learn how to lose weight and stay positive.

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Budget Fitness: Top 5 Exercises

What do you do when your money is tight and your clothes are a little too snug? Oftentimes our fitness pursuits will fall to the wayside. Fitness should always be an investment and can still be part of the budget even when money is an issue. Here are 5 great indoor exercises that you can do at home to help tighten your belt (without squeezing your wallet):

1. The Push Up Begin in a “plank” position, hands on the floor shoulder width apart and legs about hip width apart or wider (to reduce the intensity). Firm your abdominals and draw the thighs toward the sky to keep the body flat like a board. As you inhale lower the body toward the floor evenly and on the exhale push up to starting position. Check out my video Push Up for some interesting variations.

2. The “Chair” Squat – Stand a few inches away from a chair, as if you were about to sit down. As you inhale, bend your knees and lower your hips down so that they hover a couple of inches away from the chair (you know you’ve gone far enough when your legs begin to engage). Exhale as you press through the feet and firm your gluteus maximus (aka “glutes”) to lift yourself up to a standing position. If balance becomes an issue extend your arms toward the wall in front of you as you lower your hips.  Make sure to keep your toes and knees pointing forward. Check out my video Creative Total Body Sculpt for a fun variation.

3. The Reverse Lunge – Stand with feet hip width apart. Lift your right foot off the floor and extend it, allowing the ball of the right foot to touch the floor a few feet behind you. Slowly bend both knees to allow for a ninety-degree bend in the front and back leg. Once you feel your legs engage press through the front foot and bring yourself to a standing position. Repeat with the left leg. Check out my video Dynamic Power Workout for more advanced variations.

4. Pilates Side Kicks – This classic series is amazing for sculpting lean thighs and firm abdominals. Check out my video Pilates Side Kicks for a demonstration.

5. Mountain Climbers – Begin in plank position; draw your right knee underneath the chest as you draw the abdominals toward the spine. Extend the right leg back to plank position and repeat on the left side. Continue switching sides at a controlled and rhythmic pace. Check out my video Training Session for a demonstration.

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Why do you TRAIN?

Motivation plays a major role in one’s ability to stick with a training regimen. Does motivation derive from the ability to fit into your favorite pair of jeans, look like the celebrity of the hour or does our motivation derive from an intrinsic desire to be healthy?

“Yo-Yo” fitness is the consequence of training for the wrong reason. Training for the wrong reason will not give you the willpower to complete the last thirty minutes on the treadmill, nor will it motivate you to drive through the heavy LA traffic to get to your gym.

The best motivation comes from within and is sustainable when one realizes the power that training can have on the development of an individual’s strength and confidence, which inevitably leads to success.

On the weight room floor and on the yoga mat we spend hours committed to achieving a goal. We face the obstacles of fatigue, fear and weakness but ever so often we discover our ability to find the inner strength necessary to succeed. On the mat and on the gym floor we develop the coping skills necessary to face each challenge with confidence.

TRAIN for tenacity and resilience every day!

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Last chance: Beach body abs

Rock hard, washboard and ripped Abs of steel have always been one of the most popular (yet elusive) goals of most gym members. Hence the popularity of the “crunch” and huge areas of gyms that are dedicated to the abdominal workout.

One of the biggest myths about Beach Body Abs is that more crunches equals faster results. Oftentimes, this mindset leads to excessive focus on this particular body part and neglect of the other body parts (like the legs and arms). The consequence of this type of behavior is that your body will not reap the benefit of a total body workout, which can enhance the calories burned (creating a caloric deficit).

When creating a caloric deficit, calories burned are greater than calories consumed. When the body is faced with a caloric deficit then it will burn excess calories and excess fat, allowing the abdominal musculature to “show” (which is often hidden beneath a layer of bodyfat).

Another important factor that will stand between you and your Beach Body Abs is your diet. Professional beach bodies (fitness/bikini models) pay careful attention to their diets so that they can maintain the necessary caloric deficit required to keep their bodyfat low so that their beach body abs are ready for the spotlight.

Check out Part 2 of Ozzie’s Beach Body Challenge for a routine designed to help you get your beach body abs!

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Last chance: Beach body

One more month left until summer officially comes to a close!

  • Have you frolicked on the beach in your bikini or swim trunks?
  • Did tourists on the beach mistake you for a swimsuit model?
  • Did you feel comfortable enough to sit around half naked in the sun this summer?

If you answered “no” to these questions or if your beach body dreams didn’t pan out like you thought they would then you are not alone. Work obligations, limited time and procrastination are the usual culprits that prevent us from achieving our beach body but the good thing is that you have four weeks to turn it around!   Four weeks may not seem like a long time but with a strategic fitness program, your beach body may be within reach before the summer ends.

Check out Part 1 of Ozzie’s Beach Body Challenge to help you reach your fitness goals!

In addition to incorporating a great workout routine, make sure your eating habits are up to par.

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Train: The spine

Each time we stand up straight to walk to our car, embrace a loved one or shake our body on the dance floor we should thank our spine. Every day our spine and its surrounding musculature battle the force of gravity to keep us erect.

Our spine is in its happiest and most comfortable position when we mindfully sit up or stand up with proper posture. The reality for most of us, however, is that our posture will suffer when we sit at our desk hunched over computers and slouched in chairs. These hard to break habits are the consequence of failing to listen to our mothers’ constant nagging (“Sit up straight!”). In this position our spine is at a disadvantage and the surrounding musculature cannot work in harmony. The resulting imbalance causes excessive tightness in one area and corresponding weakness in the opposing muscle groups.

As the hours, days and years pass the situation gets worse and our body starts to conform to this new posture, which can cause major issues such as herniated discs/bulging discs (in the low back and neck), excessive tightness in the chest, headaches and an inability to sit/stand up straight (the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” look has never been attractive).

The spinal musculature, like any other muscle group, will benefit from a program that incorporates strength and flexibility. Check out the following video for some great exercises to incorporate into your fitness routine today!

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Train: Body control

Total body awareness and control are the skills that separate the elite athlete from the amateur.  Cultivating these skills takes tremendous time and a strategic effort. Yoga can be used off the field to develop these skills.

Yoga arm balances like Vasisthasana (the side arm balance) require the athlete to harmoniously activate muscles of the upper body, lower body and core to hold the pose.

The upper back muscles deliver a tremendous effort to keep the chest open while the core must deliver a counter acting force to maintain a balanced and neural spine.  The muscles of the side body (obliques and outer thighs) engage to prevent the athlete’s body weight from sinking into the notably smaller platforms of the grounded hand and outer edge of the grounded foot.

The athlete must also resist the powerful urge of the shoulder blades to rise toward the ears. As this internal battle takes place the athlete makes a conscious effort to maintain a sense of peace and stability in the pose.

On the field the elite athlete has mastered this internal muscular struggle and reached a state of balance and harmony in his/her body and mind.  Enhance your body awareness and control by incorporating Yoga w/Ozzie: Vasisthasana into your routine!

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Train: Preventing shoulder injury

Throwing a ball, swinging a racquet or just doing too many push ups in the gym puts the athlete at risk for a muscular imbalance in the chest, back and shoulder complex.  Muscular imbalances lead to numerous injuries in the shoulder (think rotator cuff) and even the low back due to “rounded shoulders” (think hunchback of Notre Dame) revealing excessive tightness (caused by overuse) in the front of the chest and weakness in the upper back.

To prevent injury it is necessary to incorporate a balanced workout regimen that will strengthen the chest, back, anterior delts (front of shoulders) and posterior delts (back of shoulders).  Two classic yoga poses, Chaturanga and Cobra, can get the job done!

The interesting thing about these two yoga poses is that as you transition from one to the other the body is required to activate the muscles sequentially (as one muscle group activates, the opposing muscles must stabilize and vice versa).   This form of movement is quite different than machines that isolate one muscle group at a time.

Incorporate these two poses into your chest/back/shoulder routine to teach your muscles to work as a team!  Try doing 3 sets of 5-8 reps, move through each transition with a slow and controlled speed (let the slow pace of your breathing guide you). Check out Yoga w/Ozzie: Chaturanga and Cobra for a demonstration.

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Train(Like an athlete): Stability ball

The stability ball can be used for a number of exercises that sculpt the body and challenge the core.

Check out the following exercises to tone your core and sculpt a rock hard physique:

  1. Stability Ball Push Up – Begin with shoelaces on the stability ball, align your wrists under your shoulders and firm your abs and legs tight.  Inhale as you bend your arms toward 90 degrees and exhale as you straighten your arms (forcefully drawing the abdominals and thighs toward the ceiling).
  2. Knee Unders – Draw the knees toward your chest and release them (to straighten the body) before each push up.  As you draw the knees underneath you, pull the abdominals toward the ceiling.  When you straighten your body to the starting position keep the abs and thighs rock solid.
  3. Pike – This is a great modification for the experienced exerciser that would like to add in some shoulder work. Lead this exercise by drawing the abdominals toward the sky as you exhale. Use this strength to align yourself in a “pike position” (wrists under shoulders, shoulders under hips).  On an inhale, straighten the body to the starting position as you look forward beyond your fingertips.  This exercise requires an intense abdominal contraction that essentially lifts your body toward the ceiling as the rest of the body stays firm and strong.
  4. Pike w/Hip Extension – this is a great modification for the advanced exerciser that challenges flexibility and builds strength in the glutes, abdominals and shoulders.  After completing the pike hold the arms, abs and right leg steady as you lift the left leg toward the ceiling on an inhale.  The only way this move can happen is if your entire body is engaged.  Consider trying this exercise with a spotter (that can hold the ball steady).
  5. Runner’s Lunge – this intermediate exercise also calls for total body strength and balance.  Begin with the shoelaces of your right foot on the ball and the left leg grounded.  Inhale as you extend the right leg behind you and bend the left knee. As you exhale push through the left heel and firmly draw your abdominals in to stand tall.  Increase the intensity by starting in plank, bring one leg underneath you and lift the torso to get into position (this version requires a great deal of flexibility).

Do 3 sets and 4 reps of each exercise, as you get stronger increase the reps to 8 or 10.  Please note that this is a pretty intense routine, so for the first few times have a spotter with you and listen to your body (if it doesn’t feel right, back off).

Enjoy!!

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Train (Like an athlete): Push ups

Energize your upper body routine with push up variations

Elite athletes, the military, martial artists and dancers all have one thing in common.  They use their body to sculpt an amazing physique.

The challenge to lift and control your body weight can be what stands between you and the body of your dreams.  Machines tend to isolate one muscle group, free weights allow you to use your body to manipulate an object while using a single body part as leverage (i.e. shoulder press) or multiple body parts (i.e squat to shoulder press).

Body weight exercises such as push ups, pull ups, lunges, mountain climbers, etc. challenge you to carry the resistance of your weight, activate stabilizing musculature to keep form, engage the core for balance and encourage proper range of motion and flexibility as you sculpt a sexy physique.

Incorporate body weight exercises into your routine today!  Begin with the “push up” and progress it to the following variations:

1.  The Push Up

  • The Push Up is the ultimate show of total body strength. Contrary to popular belief, Push Ups are not just about the upper body it is about your entire body’s ability to work together. If the core isn’t strong, the torso sinks to the floor. If the legs aren’t engaged, the lower body sinks to the floor. So if the entire body isn’t working together then you end up dragging your body up with your chest (not the best strategy).

2. The “Floating” Push Up

  • A variation that can get your “team” of muscles working together. Start in Push Up position and both legs firm (flex quads and glutes) bring your right knee under the chest and then straighten the right leg out as if you were pushing the wall behind you with the sole of your foot. Keep the right leg lifted so it “floats” about 4 inches from the floor and complete a Push Up. Place the right foot down on the floor and repeat on the other side. Say hello to your core and legs! Protect your low back by resting if it starts to engage.

3.  The “Mountain Climber” Push Up

  • Spread your legs wider than shoulder width apart.  Bring the right knee underneath you and extend the right leg back to starting position as you drive the left knee underneath you.  Extend the left leg back to starting position and complete a push up.

Train like an athlete by completing 3-5 reps of each version for 3 sets.  Check out my video, TRAIN: Push Ups for a demonstration.

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