Snap Fitness Health & Fitness Blog

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How to Flatten Your Abs

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

How do I flatten my stomach?  How do I get the flab off of my lower belly?  How do I get six-pack abs?  I am probably asked these questions, or some form of them on a daily basis. Everyone wants a flat, toned and tightened midsection, but often the answer isn’t what they want to hear.  There isn’t one specific exercise that will do it; there isn’t one type of food that will do it; and there isn’t a magic pill.  That might be hard to hear but, any personal trainer or fitness professional that is truthful will tell you the same.   That’s the simple truth - tough love from me to you.

 

Now here is the great news: you CAN flatten your abs and you CAN have the midsection that you have always wanted.   In addition to sound nutrition, a thank you to mom and dad (genetics), and exercise, it’s going to take 3 things:

 

  1. Consistency – Doing what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  Never giving up and knowing that it will take time to make change.  Depending on where you are when you start on your goal, improving your abs can take weeks, months and sometimes years.
  2. Patience – Depending on where you are starting from, it’s going to take time.  Since there’s no magic pill as noted above, this is a long process that requires your patience.  The kind of patience that supports your consistent efforts.
  3. Persistence - There is a big difference between persistence and patience.  The patient person will allow the time it takes, the persistent person pushes forward, never looks back, and doesn’t accept defeat.  You will need both.

 

Now that list might look like the making of a “Successories” card but, again, it’s tough love and truth. Let’s apply our success tips to nutrition and exercise:

                 

Abdominal Exercises:

• Consistently perform ab exercises at a minimum of 3 times/week, every week.

• Core work is key – focus on working all angles and muscles within the core to develop a balanced and stable torso - choose exercises such as:

• Plank

• Mountain Climbers

• Stability ball exercises

• Focus on the Transverse Abdominus (TVA), to stay in and flat while performing abdominal exercises.  That is, a 4 inch band of muscle that wraps all the way around your torso.  Engaging the TVA throughout core exercises, plus basic crunches and bicycles will ensure that the abdominals function properly; the spine is protected, and avoids the dreaded “pushed out effect” from improper abdominal work.

 

Nutrition:

I mention eating clean quite a bit in my blogs and Facebook communication.  But, eating clean is about consistency (80-90% of the time), eating whole foods that are low in sugar, high in fiber and non-processed...  Many people think they can work off the calories with a more intense workout, but you get out what you put in.  Put in healthy ingredients such as lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and plenty of water and get out a lean physique and flat abs.

 

Cardiovascular Exercise:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), isn’t just a passing fad.  Research has shown that interval-based cardio can help burn fat, while preserving and even increasing muscle.   Slow or lower intensity cardio can actually slow metabolism by burning too much muscle over time.  If you are training for a half or full marathon, it is important that your training program includes bouts of HIIT along with strength training as a means of preserving muscle.

 

To have the flat abs you have always wanted, be consistent with your nutrition and exercise – stay patient with yourself in the process, and be persistent in your endeavor.  The hard work will pay off if you are true to the basics of nutrition and exercise noted here.  Work with what you’ve got and lean on your Snap Fitness club to help get you there!

 

 

How to Flatten Your Abs

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

How do I flatten my stomach?  How do I get the flab off of my lower belly?  How do I get six-pack abs?  I am probably asked these questions, or some form of them on a daily basis. Everyone wants a flat, toned and tightened midsection, but often the answer isn’t what they want to hear.  There isn’t one specific exercise that will do it; there isn’t one type of food that will do it; and there isn’t a magic pill.  That might be hard to hear but, any personal trainer or fitness professional that is truthful will tell you the same.   That’s the simple truth - tough love from me to you.

 

Now here is the great news: you CAN flatten your abs and you CAN have the midsection that you have always wanted.   In addition to sound nutrition, a thank you to mom and dad (genetics), and exercise, it’s going to take 3 things:

 

  1. Consistency – Doing what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  Never giving up and knowing that it will take time to make change.  Depending on where you are when you start on your goal, improving your abs can take weeks, months and sometimes years.
  2. Patience – Depending on where you are starting from, it’s going to take time.  Since there’s no magic pill as noted above, this is a long process that requires your patience.  The kind of patience that supports your consistent efforts.
  3. Persistence - There is a big difference between persistence and patience.  The patient person will allow the time it takes, the persistent person pushes forward, never looks back, and doesn’t accept defeat.  You will need both.

 

Now that list might look like the making of a “Successories” card but, again, it’s tough love and truth. Let’s apply our success tips to nutrition and exercise:

                 

Abdominal Exercises:

• Consistently perform ab exercises at a minimum of 3 times/week, every week.

• Core work is key – focus on working all angles and muscles within the core to develop a balanced and stable torso - choose exercises such as:

• Plank

• Mountain Climbers

• Stability ball exercises

• Focus on the Transverse Abdominus (TVA), to stay in and flat while performing abdominal exercises.  That is, a 4 inch band of muscle that wraps all the way around your torso.  Engaging the TVA throughout core exercises, plus basic crunches and bicycles will ensure that the abdominals function properly; the spine is protected, and avoids the dreaded “pushed out effect” from improper abdominal work.

 

Nutrition:

I mention eating clean quite a bit in my blogs and Facebook communication.  But, eating clean is about consistency (80-90% of the time), eating whole foods that are low in sugar, high in fiber and non-processed...  Many people think they can work off the calories with a more intense workout, but you get out what you put in.  Put in healthy ingredients such as lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and plenty of water and get out a lean physique and flat abs.

 

Cardiovascular Exercise:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), isn’t just a passing fad.  Research has shown that interval-based cardio can help burn fat, while preserving and even increasing muscle.   Slow or lower intensity cardio can actually slow metabolism by burning too much muscle over time.  If you are training for a half or full marathon, it is important that your training program includes bouts of HIIT along with strength training as a means of preserving muscle.

 

To have the flat abs you have always wanted, be consistent with your nutrition and exercise – stay patient with yourself in the process, and be persistent in your endeavor.  The hard work will pay off if you are true to the basics of nutrition and exercise noted here.  Work with what you’ve got and lean on your Snap Fitness club to help get you there!

 

 

Snap Workout: Back

By: Snap Fitness

The Warm-up

 

Select your favorite cardio machine and get your body loosened and blood flow moving for 5 minutes. The warm-up may cause you to feel sweaty, but it should not cause you to feel fatigued.

 

The Workout

 
Rest 30 seconds to 1 minute between each set
 
 
Pull-ups: 3 sets of 8-10 
 
 
Lat Pull Down: 3 sets of 10-15
 
 
Seated Row: 3 sets of 10-15
 
 
Rear Delt Seated Fly: 3 sets of 10-15
 
 
Back Extension: 3 sets of 10-15
 
 
The Cool-down
 

End your workout routune with stretching exercises for 3-5 minutes

 
 

Featured Workout: Core Challenge

By: Snap Fitness

Tired of your same old ab routine? Ready to mix things up?

 

Take this core workout challenge and feel a whole new kind of burn!

  

1 minute straight arm plank

15 reverse crunches

30 second side plank (right)

30 bicycle crunches

30 second side plank (left)

15 reverse crunches

1 minute elbow plank

 

How many times can you complete the circuit? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

20 Minute Treadmill Interval Workout

By: Snap Fitness

As Jodi the Trainer pointed out in her latest blog, "The Importance of Varying Exercise Intensity," there are a couple different approaches to cardiovascular training, and Interval Training is quickly becoming the most popular. 

 

During Interval Training, you should be working at or above 85% of your max heart rate for a period of time, followed by a recovery period at 60-70%. This form of training has a lingering effect on your calorie burn - meaning you can burn up to 30% more calories after your workout than you would normally burn throughout the day. 

 

As Jodi suggested, stick to interval training 1-3x/week, or 50% of your overall cardio training.

 

To help you get started, we have put together a 20 minute calorie blasting interval workout for the treadmill!

 

 

Once you have completed the workout, head over to our Facebook or Twitter page and tell us how you did! 

 

Fuel Your Body for Every Type of Workout

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

To maximize energy and performance based on your fitness goals, you’ll need to fuel your body pre and post workout.

 

Stumped on what to eat and when?  Use this as your guide.

 

1.  High Intensity Cardio Sprints

 

Pre-Workout:

Go for easily digested carbs and a little protein.  My go-to snack for this type of workout is a banana with 1T peanut butter.  The banana provides the energy and calories to keep performance high, potassium to prevent cramping, and is digested before you begin.  The protein and fat in the peanut butter will keep you satiated for the long haul.

 

Post-Workout:

After high intensity sprints, your body is running on empty – meaning, low muscle-glycogen stores.  You must refuel post cardio sprints so that you avoid muscle wasting.  If you wait longer than 45-minutes to refuel, your body finds the energy it needs through muscle tissue, rather than fat.  Refuel your glycogen stores and feed your muscle with a combination of carbohydrates and protein - ideally, a ratio of 1 carbohydrate and 2 proteins.  This can be accomplished with 8-12 ounces of chocolate milk.  It’s quick, easy, tasty, and the right balance of nutrients post-workout.

 

2.  Total Body Strength Training

 

Pre-Workout:

Focus on a balanced combination of both carbohydrates and protein since you will not be depleting your muscle glycogen stores as much as you would with cardio sprints.  My favorite pre-workout snack for strength training is a whey protein shake, combined with fruit – simply shake or blend with ice and go.

 

Post-Workout:

It’s important to replenish the hard-working muscles post strength training.  Fuel them with a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and little bit of fat (preferably quality fat that is a medium-chain triglyceride – don’t let the name scare you!).  Try one cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 Tablespoon of cacao seeds (course ground, typically found at natural food stores), and 1 sliced banana.

 

3.  Combination of Strength and Cardio

 

Pre-Workout:

For a workout with both strength and cardio, you’ll need the carbohydrates for energy and stamina and protein to satiate you throughout the length of your workout plus, keep muscle repair in check.  Shoot for a carbohydrate and protein rich snack like, plain Greek yogurt, with fruit and ¼ oats or granola an hour before your workout. 

 

Post-Workout:

You need to refuel with complex and simple carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores – plus, protein for muscle repair.  Try 1 scoop of whey protein mixed with oatmeal (½ cup oats, hot water and cinnamon)!

Fuel Your Body for Every Type of Workout

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

To maximize energy and performance based on your fitness goals, you’ll need to fuel your body pre and post workout.

 

Stumped on what to eat and when?  Use this as your guide.

 

1.  High Intensity Cardio Sprints

 

Pre-Workout:

Go for easily digested carbs and a little protein.  My go-to snack for this type of workout is a banana with 1T peanut butter.  The banana provides the energy and calories to keep performance high, potassium to prevent cramping, and is digested before you begin.  The protein and fat in the peanut butter will keep you satiated for the long haul.

 

Post-Workout:

After high intensity sprints, your body is running on empty – meaning, low muscle-glycogen stores.  You must refuel post cardio sprints so that you avoid muscle wasting.  If you wait longer than 45-minutes to refuel, your body finds the energy it needs through muscle tissue, rather than fat.  Refuel your glycogen stores and feed your muscle with a combination of carbohydrates and protein - ideally, a ratio of 1 carbohydrate and 2 proteins.  This can be accomplished with 8-12 ounces of chocolate milk.  It’s quick, easy, tasty, and the right balance of nutrients post-workout.

 

2.  Total Body Strength Training

 

Pre-Workout:

Focus on a balanced combination of both carbohydrates and protein since you will not be depleting your muscle glycogen stores as much as you would with cardio sprints.  My favorite pre-workout snack for strength training is a whey protein shake, combined with fruit – simply shake or blend with ice and go.

 

Post-Workout:

It’s important to replenish the hard-working muscles post strength training.  Fuel them with a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and little bit of fat (preferably quality fat that is a medium-chain triglyceride – don’t let the name scare you!).  Try one cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 Tablespoon of cacao seeds (course ground, typically found at natural food stores), and 1 sliced banana.

 

3.  Combination of Strength and Cardio

 

Pre-Workout:

For a workout with both strength and cardio, you’ll need the carbohydrates for energy and stamina and protein to satiate you throughout the length of your workout plus, keep muscle repair in check.  Shoot for a carbohydrate and protein rich snack like, plain Greek yogurt, with fruit and ¼ oats or granola an hour before your workout. 

 

Post-Workout:

You need to refuel with complex and simple carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores – plus, protein for muscle repair.  Try 1 scoop of whey protein mixed with oatmeal (½ cup oats, hot water and cinnamon)!

Snap Workout: Legs

By: Snap Fitness

The Warm-up

 

Select your favorite cardio machine and get your body loosened and blood flow moving for 5 minutes. The warm-up may cause you to feel sweaty, but it should not cause you to feel fatigued.

 

The Workout


Strength exercises: 10-15 reps

Complete 3 sets of each superset and move on to the next

 

1a. Leg Extension

1b. Leg Curl

 

2a. Squats

2b. Deadlift

 

3a. Seated Calf Raise

3b. Standing Calf Raise - stand on the edge of a step or platform with the balls of your feet planted on the stop and your heels hanging over the edge. Raise your heels a few inches, hold the position for a moment and lower

 

The Cool-down

 

End your workout routune with some ab work and stretching

 

1. Straight Arm Plank (1 min.)

2. Bicycle crunches (30)

3. Elbow Plank (1 min.)

4. Stretching exercises for 3-5 minutes

The Importance of Varying Exercise Intensity

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

Paying attention to exercise intensity will not only give you a positive training result and help you prevent injury, but will also help you stick to your plan and prevent boredom.  There are many ways to blast past plateaus and achieve gains in mental, physical, and cardiovascular strength.  I structure cardiovascular training into 3 main categories:

 

Long Slow Distance

Interval Training

Steady State Training

 

When it comes to cardiovascular training, more isn’t always better.  Understanding the importance of training smarter rather than harder is illustrated here:

 

Long Slow Distance – Working at a heart rate intensity of 60-70% of your max heart has long been touted as the “Fat-burning zone” and while true, it isn’t the most effective way to burn fat and boost cardiovascular fitness.  It’s still important to your weekly mix as a way to create and maintain an aerobic base.  The goal in completing long slow distance cardio is to increase your ability to burn fat while you sleep.  That’s right; have great cardiovascular fitness, and your body burns fat all day long!  You will know that you are working aerobically and at a heart rate range of 60-70% of your max heart rate if you can easily carry on a conversation, or if you can easily breathe through your nose with a closed mouth.  Perform LSD training 1-3x/week (depending on your weekly total it should make up 25%). 

 

For most people LSD training is a great beginning, but it quickly becomes the ‘comfort zone’ that is hard to break out of.  This is where Interval training comes in.

 

Interval Training – This is quickly becoming the most popular “get fit quick, burn fat, and blast calories” form of training, and for good reason.  Interval training will not only challenge your body to work at a higher heart rate for short periods and boost cardiovascular fitness most quickly, but also have a lingering effect on calorie burn – upwards of 30%!  That means that after an interval training workout, you can burn 30% more calories than you would normally burn throughout the day.

 

The downside of interval training (and doing ONLY Interval training), is that you also burn more sugars (stored muscle glycogen) rather than fat during your workout.  Do too much interval training and you run the risk of burning that hard earned muscle.   Interval training consists of working at or above 85% of max heart rate for a period of time, followed by a recovery period at 60-70% of max heart rate.  You’ll know when you are at or above 85% max heart rate when you can longer breathe through your nose, and you actually have to breathe through your mouth.  For Interval Training, stick to 1-3x/week or 50% of your overall cardio training.

 

Steady State Training: - This is one of my personal favorites.  Here, you challenge your body to work just at or slightly below anaerobic threshold (roughly 75-85% of max heart rate).  Studies show that working here has a maximum effect on improving cardiovascular health and fitness.    The challenge in working at a steady state as compared to LSD or Intervals is this:  LSD is easier to maintain and generally feels good, where intervals are far tougher but only last a short while.  Steady state on the other hand is tough and the goal is to stretch the intensity out to 5-20 min bouts at a higher heart rate.  Challenge yourself to work Steady State Training 1-3x/week or 25% of your overall cardio training.

 

Most cardiovascular equipment pieces do a great job of providing examples of these three types of training.  So try a program and challenge yourself to vary your heart rate based on the parameters above.  Your cardiovascular fitness, fat-burning potential and overall health will thank you.

 

Good luck!

 

How to Perfect the Plank

By: Snap Fitness

 

Planks are an effective way to work your abdominals as well as your lower back, shoulders, glutes and chest. A straight arm plank creates more of a challenge since it offers less stability than the forearm plank.

 

They look pretty easy, but if you have bad form, they can end up hurting your back and shoulders.

 

Here are the things to watch for while doing a plank: 

 

Straight Arm Plank 

 

To do a proper straight arm plank, come to the top of a push-up position and align your wrists straight below your shoulders. Keep your feet about hips' width apart and keep your heels high. Avoid an arch in your lower back by pulling your abs in and lifting your ribcage and hips. Lastly, be sure your ears are aligned over your shoulders.

 

Once you have proper form like below, hold the position for 30 seconds, or as long as you can, and don't forget to breathe!

 

Straight Arm Plank 

 

For an added challenge, try these variations:

 

Straight arm plank with leg lift - while keeping your proper form, raise one leg in a slow, small movement and lower back down. Lift for 10 reps and switch to the other leg.

 

Bent knee plank - while keeping your form, bend one knee and lift, making small movements. Complete 10 reps and switch to the other leg.

 

One arm & one leg plank - while keeping your proper form, lift your right leg and left arm simultaneously and hold for 5 - 10 seconds. Lower and switch to the other arm and leg. Alternate for 20 reps.

Posts 81 - 90 of 210