Snap Fitness Health & Fitness Blog

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The Importance of Warm-up and Cool-down Exercises

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

When you are crunched for time and looking to maximize your workout, the first thing that typically gets cut is the warm-up and/or cool-down.  This is a mistake for a number of reasons.


The Warm-up:


A warm-up doesn’t need to be terribly long but, it does need to exist.   Taking 3-5 minutes to warm-up before any type of workout (strength or cardio), can drastically reduce your risk of injury and minimize any muscle soreness or stiffness in the days following. 


A proper warm-up will also:

• Lubricate your joints and ligaments in preparation for higher intensity movements

• Increase heart rate and pump blood to working muscles

• Increase energy and mental readiness in preparation for your workout


According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), warm-ups are necessary as a means for improving range of motion and reducing risk of injury. 


The best warm-up should include Dynamic rather than Static movement. A dynamic warm-up can include:


• Low intensity settings on any cardio equipment including treadmill, elliptical or bike


• Leg or arm swings – start slow and work toward increasing pain-free range of motion.  This is especially good to do prior to total body workouts. Also try small range of motion walking lunges as shown here


• Avoid Static stretching – holding a stretched position in an effort to increase flexibility is better suited to post workout cool-down.  The NIH studies note that static stretching can actually negatively affect sport or exercise performance



The Cool-down:


Equally important but, often skipped is the cool-down.   A quality cool-down can actually improve subsequent workouts.  This is because cool-down exercises help to flush out waste products often accumulated during high intensity workouts (ie, lactic acid).  If lactic acid is not flushed out, increased muscle stiffness and soreness result. 


A proper cool-down will do the following:

• Decrease heart rate closer to its resting state

• Decrease core body temperature

• Help the body regulate blood pressure down to normal.  This is important especially for those prone to light-headedness post workout


Cool-downs are simple and quick. All you need is 3-5 minutes.  Include lower intensity cardio exercises followed by flexibility exercises.  The cool-down is the appropriate time to include static stretching exercises in an effort to increase flexibility. These exercises include:


• Hamstring Stretch –

Press one heel forward, keep that leg stretch, hands at hips, push hips back and hold for 20-30seconds


• Quad Stretch –

Stand tall, balance on one leg, bend the opposite knee, reach back to that heel and pull toward the seat.  Avoid over-arching the low back.  Keep abdominals in and strong.  Hold for 20-30seconds.


• Chest Stretch –

Clasp hands behind back or hold at hips.  Pull elbows in toward each other, drawing shoulder blades down and together.  Press elbows further in or hands further back to increase the stretch.  Hold for 20-30seconds.


• Upper Back Stretch –

Clasp hands together in the front of your body.  Bring your chin to your chest and push hands forward, opening up the mid back.  Take a few deep breaths and hold for 20-30seconds.


If you take the time to warm-up and cool-down, your body will thank you with less injury, more energy and your subsequent workouts will rock as a result!

Snap Workout: H.I.I.T.

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 should increase your heart rate, but it should not leave you feeling fatigued.



The Workout:

30 seconds of each exercise

Complete 4 circuits


1a. Jumping Jacks

1b. Wall sit

1c. Bicycle crunches


Rest 30 seconds


2a. Step-ups

2b. Squats

2c. Elbow plank


Rest 30 seconds


3a. Mountain Climbers

3b. Lunges

3c. Side plank


Rest 60 seconds and Repeat circuit (complete 4 circuits total)



The Cool-Down:


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

Featured Recipe: Homemade "Kind" Inspired Bars

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

These bars are perfect when you need a little sweet, salty, crunchy and healthy snack! They are easy to experiment with too! Play around with different combinations of nuts, seeds and dried fruits to get the exact taste you are in the mood for.




2 cups Nuts – Personally, I like to use roasted because you end up with a more flavorful and crunchy bar.  But, you can also use raw nuts.  If you using raw, be sure to add ½ tsp of salt to your mixture.


For the pictured recipe:

1 cup of roasted, salted and shelled pistachios

1 cup roasted, salted almonds


1 cup Seeds – Examples include: sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat groats (also called kasha), or sunflower seeds


For the pictured recipe:

½ cup – raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup – raw buckwheat groats


1 cup Dried Fruit – Examples include: craisins, raisins, unsweetened coconut flakes, dried apricots (dried apricots with cashew nuts is a great combination)


For the pictured recipe:

½ cup – craisins

½ cup – unsweetened coconut flakes


¼ cup – Brown Rice Syrup  If you don’t have this on hand, you can always use Corn Syrup (but, this type of syrup has a higher glycemix index and will spike blood sugar more than brown rice syrup)


½ tsp – Vanilla or Almond Extract




1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Coarse chop the nuts. Add in seeds and toss. 

3. Coarse chop the dried fruit and add to the mixture. 

4. Combine Brown Rice Syrup and Flavor extract. 

5. Pour the liquid mixture over the nuts and mix thoroughly.  

6. Spread mixture onto a greased (nonstick cooking spray) pan.  If possible, use a pan with 1-2 inch sides. I used a deep cookie sheet. 

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. 

8. Remove and let cool. Cut into bars and keep them wrapped in plastic or refrigerate for storage.


Nutritional Value:

Makes about 18 bars

Per bar: 149cal, 15g carbs, 9g fat, 5g protein, 37mg sodium, 6g sugar

The Importance of Sleep

By: Snap Fitness

When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, we all know just how important it is to eat right and move your feet. But what about when it’s time to stop and rest? Are you getting the sleep you need?

According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep deprivation is a growing problem with over 28 percent of adults reporting they get fewer than six hours of sleep per night. In addition to sleep being a key component in allowing your body time to rest and recover from workouts, it also helps improve metabolism, reduce the risk of colds and flu, as well as heart disease and diabetes.

While choosing a proper bedtime is obviously key, another factor to think about is whether or not you have the right type of pillow.  “Pillows are the problem.” suggests Michael J. Lindell, Inventor and CEO of My Pillow, Inc who spent years searching for the perfect pillow which ultimately led to the creation of the MyPillow® brand of pillows. “Most pillows are designed to break down over time” says Lindell,  “If you don’t feel like you are getting a good night’s sleep, it’s probably time for a change.”  An old pillow could cause you to wake up with soreness in your neck or back, and numbness in your limbs. The correct pillow for an optimal night’s sleep should be designed to conform to your individual needs, regardless of your sleep position.


No matter what types of sleep issues you may have experienced (or if you haven’t had any at all), sleep is a very important component when it comes to helping you look and feel your best. Don’t waste all of the hard work you put in while you’re awake on a restless night’s sleep! Get the right pillow for you, and sleep your way to better results.

If you are ready to make the pillow switch, Lindell is ready to make your decision easier.  For a limited time, he is willing to give Snap Fitness members 25 percent off their order and free shipping & handling with the code “Snap” when placing an order online. Click here to learn more.  Plus, the pillow comes with a 60-day money back guarantee and a 10-year warranty, which means that you can finally throw away that pillow you’ve been using since high school!

Featured Recipe: Chicken Salad Cucumber Cups

By: Snap Fitness

Sick of showing up at parties with the same boring chips and dip appetizer as everyone else? Looking for something new and fun to impress others? We have the answer for you!


This recipe replaces the typical crackers or chips, and uses cucumber cups instead!




2 cucumbers

1 1/4 cups diced cooked chicken breast

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp dill weed

Salt and Pepper to taste




1. To make the cucumber cups, first peel your cucumbers. Slice the peeled cucumbers in 1 inch rounds. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, carve out the middle of the cucumber slices. Be sure you do not carve out too much and poke through the bottom.  Set the cucumber cups aside while you prepare the chicken salad.

2. Combine the chicken salad ingredients in a medium bowl.

3. Pack the cucumber cups with the chicken salad right before serving and enjoy!



Nutritional Value:

Makes about 12 cups depending on the size of cucumbers

Per cucumber cup: 34cal, 2g carbs, 1g fat, 6g protein, 107mg sodium, 1g sugar

40 Minute Elliptical Core Workout

By: Snap Fitness


Do you often times find yourself getting bored quickly on the elliptical? Want to work your core while on the elliptical? If you answered yes, this workout is for you.


Next time you hop onto an elliptical, pick one that has moving handles. This workout will require you to let go of the handles every couple intervals to test your balance and engage the core – and keep things interesting!


Adjust the resistance levels if you find them too hard or too easy. If your elliptical machine has an adjustable incline, keep it in the range of 5-8 throughout the entire workout.


Turn up your music and get to work!




How to Prepare for Your First 5K: Part 3

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training


You have successfully completed your first 5k – now what?  Spend some time to enjoy the moment and be proud of what you have accomplished.  When you’re ready, it’s time to set your sights on a new goal.  Maybe you want to increase your pace and completion time of your 5k, or maybe you want to tackle a 10k!


The program below is a “next-step” from the original 5k training plan.


This program focuses on a higher volume of training plus, higher intensity intervals 1x/week.  Your long runs are scheduled weekly and typically on a weekend when you have a little more time available.





Now that you have gained the confidence and know-how to start, don’t stop!  Ride on the momentum of your current success – good luck!  

Featured Recipe: Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

By: Snap Fitness

 Yesterday’s blog, ‘8 Reasons Why We Love Oatmeal,’ highlighted several reasons why oatmeal might just be the perfect food.


Today we have a great recipe and the star of it is, you guessed it, oatmeal!


These Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins are quick to make and better yet, are easy to freeze and reheat  – so they are great to have on stand-by in the freezer!




5 cups old fashioned rolled oats (use certified gluten free oats to make the recipe gluten-free!)

2 ¾ cups almond milk (or skim if you prefer)

2 cups unsweetened applesauce

½ cup honey

2 eggs

1 ripe banana mashed

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla





1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Prepare 2 muffin tins with muffin tin liners.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, applesauce, mashed banana and honey. Mix thoroughly.

3. Add in oats, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Mix together.

4. Add in the almond milk and mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. The mixture will be runny.

5. Pour the mixture into the muffin tin liners. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of a muffin.

6. Let the muffins cool and enjoy! Be sure to freeze the muffins within 1-2 days.


Nutritional Value:

Makes about 24 muffins

Per serving: 109cal, 21g carbs, 2g fat, 3g protein, 8g sugar, 166mg sodium

Snap Workout: Whole Body

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 should increase your heart rate, but it should not leave you feeling fatigued.


The Workout:


10-15 reps of each exercise

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


1a. Chest Press

1b. Lat Pulldown


2a. Leg Extension

2b. Leg Curl


3a. Bicep Curl

3b. Tricep Extension

4a. Back Extension

4b.  Abdominals


The Cool-down:


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

4 Ways to Cool-down After a Workout

By: Snap Fitness

A cool-down should be performed after any workout to gradually reduce the heart rate and return the body to a resting state. An effective cool-down will also help reduce muscle stiffness and soreness.


 1. Cool-down cardio

After your cardio workout, slow your speed to a light pace/walk for 5-10 minutes. This will help flush out lactic acid from your muscles, preventing soreness and assist with muscle repair and recovery.


2. Stretch

Stretch each major muscle for about 30 seconds. If a particular muscle group is sore, spend more time on that area.

a. Quadriceps

b. Hamstrings

c. Glutes

d. Chest

e. Arms/Shoulders

f. Core/Back


3. Hydrate

After a workout, it is crucial that you replenish the water supply you lost during your workout. Replacing the fluid that you lost is an important part to your recovery.  We recommend that you replenish with 16 ounces per hour of exercise.


4. Replenish

Grab a recovery drink that includes a combination of protein and carbohydrates.  The protein helps rebuild and repair muscle tissue, while the carbohydrate insures a fast delivery of protein into the cells.  Be sure to enjoy within 30 minutes post workout when your muscles are ready to absorb the nutrients.



Posts 391 - 400 of 547