Posture is often overlooked when people embark on a new workout and nutrition plan. But proper posture is key to a leaner body and bad posture can derail your fitness goals.
We all spend too much time hunching over our laptops, slumping in front of TVs, sitting in traffic in our cars. The result: poor posture that not only affects the way we look, but also takes a toll on our spine, shoulders, hips and knees. If not taken seriously, posture can cause a cascade of problems from joint pains and reduced flexibility to compromised muscles and the ability to burn fat and build strength.
Regular exercise with a trainer who can help you identify the problems is a great first step.
Top 5 Posture Fixes
- Do Cardio. During cardio, you work your core muscles to stabilize your spine to keep you upright. I recommend exercises that use large muscle groups like running, elliptical, cycling or fast walking to strengthen the thighs, glutes and calves to support the weight of your torso.
- Build Strength in Lower Body. Strengthening the arches and calves can help support your body and keep your spine in alignment, so try standing calf raises on a low step or platform that work arches and calves. Fact: your feet and calves support the weight of your entire body and imbalances in these muscles can ruin your posture.
- Strengthen the Core. Core exercises are the key to your posture because the core keeps your spine in alignment. Whether it’s Pilates, yoga or conditioning weight exercises, work on making them regular in your routine. Try holding planks for a killer core and strong back. Fact: Your abs and lower back muscles stabilize the lower torso to keep your spine upright. Thighs and glutes help keep the hips in proper alignment.
- Balance Upper Body. Resistance exercises are the best for balancing your upper body to keep your spine in alignment. Make sure you properly stretch before and after your workouts to release tension in your shoulders. The upper body keeps the shoulder, neck and head in proper alignment. If one side of your body is stronger than the other, the muscles will pull the bones out of alignment and negatively affect your posture. For example, a weak upper back will cause the muscles at the front of your body to pull your shoulders and head forward.
- Breathe. Taking deep breaths opens up your diaphragm space and as it expands, your spine curves more naturally. Plus your core muscles have more freedoms to move and it increases the circulation in your body.
Follow these guidelines and you will soon reap the benefits of good posture. Plus you will look leaner and generally more attractive too.
Sleeveless by Summer
With summer always around the corner here in SoCal and the bare-shoulders trend in fashion, who wouldn’t obsess about perfect arms? If you are over 30 and still want to look good in a tank top, read on for tips on tightening your upper body muscle tone. But first things first, you have the work the body as a whole, using the core and upper body rather than strengthening the arms separately.
Start with burning the fat layer away from your arms. It’s important to combine strength training and cardio into one powerful workout program – designed to melt body fat rapidly. A great, all around upper-body workout might include boxing, swimming and weight training to hit all of the major upper-body muscles.
Boxing is perfect for working different muscle groups, so get those boxing gloves and sign up for private workouts or a class. Not only will it help you release your stress, it will work wonders on your arms. Practice boxing underwater for a great workout and terrific shoulder definition.
Swimming works wonders if you want stronger and leaner arms. An added bonus of any water-based workout is extra resistance without added muscle strain. Try cardio and resistance exercises in the shallow, or flat part of the pool. Add water bands for an even better underwater resistance workout. Swimming in place is effective toning for the arms and shoulders.
Don’t Resist Resistance
Resistance training with free weights and bands is the key to sexy arms. For sculpted biceps, alternate bicep curls with hammer curls. They will work your muscles from different angles. Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps for best results.
Compound exercises are important to work different muscles in one exercise. For example: push-ups work the shoulder, chest, bicep and tricep muscles at the same time! Three reps of 15 to 20 times will do wonders for your arms.
Women really enjoy tight toned triceps. We just don’t get to use those muscles in our day-to-day activities and that’s why so many of us have “bat wings” instead of firm arms. Triceps press-ups, kick-backs with free weights and triceps dips are excellent to get rid of those flabby arms in no time.