The Best Fat Burning Workouts

I say all the time on facebook that movement is life. Your body was made to move and it loves to move. Which is why I’m always telling people that sitting for long periods of time is one of the hardest things for it!! When it comes to the human body, it really is a “move it or lose it” type situation. So I encourage everyone to simply MOVE MORE. More movement is always better than no movement….no matter what kind of movement it is. (Have I said the word move enough yet? 🙂 )

I’m also a big fan of finding things you ENJOY doing for movement/exercise (however you want to look at it). 🙂 So for those who are still trying to find something they enjoy doing, I thought I’d list a few of the best workouts that provide both a slimming and toning effect at the same time!

1) Best Cardio Group Ex Class – Spinning

Spinning is an great way to get your intervals in! It’s really good for slimming but not as awesome for toning…except for dem quadz. 😉

2) Best Group Ex Class – Kickboxing

Not only is this a great way to blow off some steam, but kick boxing will have your lunges burning and your muscles aching. Not to mention, using so many muscle groups simultaneously burns major amounts of calories, boosts your metabolism, and will both burn fat and build muscle tone.

3)  Best Gym Workout – Combination exercises

Combination exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time, which in turn also gets the cardiovascular system rocking as well! Check out the video below for a few example of this. You can also achieve a similar effect by doing multiple exercises back-to-back with little or no rest. This kind of workout will increase your metabolism by working multiple systems at once which leads to a definite slimming and toning effect.

4)  Best At-Home Workout – Body Weight Circuits

You’d be surprised how sore you can get from using just your body weight. Not that soreness is a great indicator of effectiveness, but in this case body weight exercises are extremely effective. Between the internet and some pretty creative people, there are now progressions out the wazoo for beginners and advanced fitness junkies alike. Anyone can get a great workout with no equipment at all!

5) Best At-Home Cardio Workout- Sprinting

While sprinting is not appropriate for everyone, it is one of the best ways I’ve found to break through plateaus. Sure, it requires maximum effort but with minimum time commitment and no equipment! It’s a fantastic ab workout. It will send your metabolism through the roof. AND it offers tons of variety! (examples being hills, timed, distance, various sports, etc.)

Hill sprints also gives the dogs a good workout as well :)

Hill sprints with the fam 🙂

 

6) Best Recovery Workout – Walking

It’s the most basic and fundamental movement of the body.

In normal workouts, you’re lifting and twisting and really pushing your lungs and your muscles. To balance that out, you want movement that restores and rejuvenates your mind & body – like walking. Whether it’s in the mountains or around your neighborhood, walking is excellent for hormone balance and stress management and should really be viewed as more of a necessity than an occasional light workout option. (If you’re interested, I go into a little more depth on this over here.)

7) Best Feel-like-a-kid-again Workout :

*Low Impact – Bike Riding

*High Impact – Tie between Sports & Jump Rope

Yep, all of these exercises will make you feel like a kid again….except you’ll remember it being a lot easier back then! 😉

8) Best All Around Workout – Kettlebells

Come ooon, ya had to know I would end here. 🙂 There’s a reason I decided to invest some serious money and start my own kettlebell classes – because I find them to be the most efficient and enjoyable way to workout! They are low impact. They don’t take up much space. They teach you how to move better. They are extremely versatile and offer a total body workout with minimum time commitment. Plus, they’re just fun! 😀 If you’re interested in learning more, here are some more on the whys and hows.

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**Ultimately, the best workout is the one you enjoy! If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll never stick with it and consistency is key to making it part of your lifestyle!

Think I missed something? Share your favorite way to sweat over on my facebook page!

*If you’re interested in learning how to use kettlebells and live in the Colorado Springs area, check out Springs Kettlebells!!

 

So You Wanna Look Like A Superhero… (part 2)

In part 1, I talked about why it’s unrealistic and detrimental to your body and mind to compare yourself to anyone or expect perfection, but what can we take away from our actor friends? The obvi answer is that while they might not look like the perfected version we see on screen or in pics, they do still have to get into good enough shape to look fit!  So what’s their secret?! The answers might surprise you….

When asked what she did to get in shape for Black Widow, Scarlett Johannson’s typical reply is, “I workout like a dude.”

To help Anne Hathaway build muscle and learn to ‘move and react like a cat,’ Anne’s trainer put her through ‘grueling’ routines of squats, lunges, strength training, kettlebells, and intensive circuit training, including ‘box jumps, pull-ups and handstand push-ups.’

Jennifer Garner was known for getting up early to get an hour of full body circuit training in before shooting began.

Jessica Biel’s trainer puts her through circuited weight training and they end with high intensity cardio work, like sprints.

superhero women

So let me break down for you what all of these ladies do to get into awesome shape.

They Strength Train.

You’ll notice, in the picture above, they all look great. That’s 4 different body types that all did strength training and none of them look “bulky”. Whether it’s body weight exercises or with weight, all of these ladies are doing one variation or another of the same big movements:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pushes (push ups, bench press)
  • Pulls (rows, pull ups)
  • Core work (planks)
  • Hinge movements (deadlifts, swings)

I’m gonna give you a trainer secret right here. Take a look at any athlete, actor, model, trainer, or fitness enthusiast’s workout and you’ll usually see a common thread woven through all their workouts. It’s these movements above and it’s because they work.

lifting

Jennifer & Jessica- lifting weights

Sure there’s always accessory stuff as well. Sometimes to zero in on specific areas, sometimes to keep it fresh and keep the body guessing. But the above exercises are the foundation. Get really good at them and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger, leaner, fitter version of yourself.

They Include High Intensity, Explosive Cardio.

Kettlebells, running sprints, metabolic circuits, these are all versions of high intensity, explosive interval training. Interval training is simply alternating between high and low intensity exercises. The idea is to jack up your heart rate with super higher intensity moves (like sprints, swings, or box jumps) for a shorter period of time, then you alternate between rest and really high intensity work. This is the ideal cardio to rev up your metabolism and fat burning potential.

This type of training is a great substitute for long slow cardio. Even though it’s more intense, it’s been shown that more people stick to it because it takes less time and is more effective in burning fat while keeping muscle tone and improving heart health.

Jessica Biel running sprints

Jessica Biel running sprints

 

They Do Full Body Circuits.

Splitting up the muscle groups and working a different one each day is a body building tactic. Since most actresses and women are just looking to get stronger and more toned, full body circuits is the more efficient way to train. Circuits usually consist of 4 to 10 exercises that you do back to back. Each exercise works a different body part and you move quickly from one exercise to the next with little rest.

The reason most trainers use this is because it’s an ideal way to get the heart rate up and improve strength and muscle tone all in a small amount of time. Again this has major fat burning potential by taxing the whole body and the cardiovascular system at the same time.

They Kept Their Nutrition In Check.

Rarely do you hear an actress talk about getting in shape without mentioning a strict nutrition plan. None of these ladies would have gotten the same results without watching what they ate. Now this goes back to what I was saying in part 1 about having a specific end goal. It is always easier to be really strict with your nutrition when there is an end in sight. (When you hear most actresses talk about it, it would seem they eat pretty healthy on a regular basis but they go really strict when preparing for a movie.)

The point is, if you want to look and feel fit, you must take a look at (and most likely change) your eating habits. Start by keeping a food journal. Nowadays that is much easier with all the apps out there like Calorie King or My Fitness Pal. Sure it’s still kind of inconvenient, but you don’t have to do it forever and it will help raise your awareness so that you can start figuring what needs to change. Most women will realize they are eating too many fats or carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein. But try it out for yourself and see!

In short, for best results your workouts should prioritize full body strength training. Shorten your cardio sessions but bump up the intensity. Start that food journal! And if you feel completely lost or feel like you’ve tried these things without any success, hire an expert and do what they tell you to do. (Trainers are another thing the Hollywood types have in common. ;))

There’s still no quick fix, even for the rich and famous. (OK, no natural quick fix.) But if you’re willing to work at it, you can look and feel amazing! Most importantly remember: Start small. Focus on one habit at a time and make it so easy you can’t fail!

Just another example of actresses lifting some legit heavy weights and not getting big or bulky. (Skip to 1:10-2:05 for the good part.)

The changes I’ve seen in the last two years are beyond what I thought was possible.

rachel testimonial

Two and half years ago I went to my first kettlebell training session with Beth and I really did know right from that first session it was going to be incredible. I was overweight, discouraged, and looking for ANYTHING to get me back to my pre-baby body. My current diet and work out plan was getting me nowhere so I was ready to give it all I had. The changes I’ve seen in the last two years are nothing short of amazing and truly beyond what I thought was possible. Kettlebells are such a fun, diverse way to incorporate strength training and cardio to get maximum results. Beth is so energetic and encouraging that even on my hardest days she was able to motivate me not to give up. Exercise has never been something that I love but I am so addicted to kettlebells and the way it has subtly sculpted my body, I can truly say I look forward to every class. About a year ago I finally found an eating program that worked for me and combined with kettlebells it has produced a lean, fit version of me that I didn’t know was possible. I have lost more than 70lbs., 69inches, and 5 sizes. I am amazed at the increased strength and toned body I have now. I didn’t know I could ever be one of “those” people and I love it! 🙂

 

*Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*

Ain’t No Swing

I talked in my last post about why I love kettlebells and all the reasons they are beneficial for you. This naturally leads me into the topic of the most famous kettlebell exercise: the swing. Reason being is it also happens to be one of the most misunderstood and incorrectly done exercises, which leads many people to believe the swing is dangerous. OK, sure. When done incorrectly it can be harmful. That is fitness. Any exercise can be that.

When you put a weight over your head and there is always the possibility of dropping it on your face. When you do any exercise with poor form or too much weight OR play a sport, there is always the possibility of injury.

That is why a good trainer will harp on your form until its perfect! And then continue to make sure it stays that way.

OK, back to the swing. There is good reason that it is so commonly done incorrectly. It is not like most exercises. In fact, it goes against most of the fundamental rules of weight lifting. That is: lower the weight slowly, keep your chest up, and slow down. Because of that, the swing is also pretty counter-intuitive. In fact, if you don’t feel pretty darn awkward when you’re first learning you’re probably doing it wrong.

So to get started, I would like you to watch this quick, uuh, educational video. And no I’m not joking. I got this brilliant idea from the lovely Jen Sinkler and there really is a point to it… 😉

SO, the 2 main factors in the kettlebell swing:

1.First you’re going to bend….but not at the knees, at the hips. It is not a squat. Just like Elle so beautifully demonstrated :), you’re going to bend forward, sticking your butt out and dropping your chest toward the floor; much more akin to a deadlift than a squat. As the bell falls, don’t resist it. Let the bell pull your upper body down. This is not one of those times when you should be “lowering it slowly”.

2.Then SNAP!… also called a hip thrust or “popping” your hips; it’s all the same idea. You’re going to snap your hips by squeezing your butt and driving your hips forward quickly and powerfully. You’re literally going to drive the kettlebell up and out with your hips. So don’t hold back!! This is what gets the bell to pop up. Remember what I said above. If you don’t feel awkward, you ain’t doing it right!

*Here are a few helpful tips to remember:

  1. Relax your arms. This is not a shoulder exercise. But if I relax my arms, how do I get the bell to swing up?!?!?!? That’s what the hip snap is for! The only part of the arm that should be working is your forearms from gripping the bell. That’s it.
  2. The handle of the bell should never drop below your knees! Most people want to drop it really low because they think they should be squatting, but the swing is a glute and hamstring exercise so you should mainly be feeling it in your butt and the back of your thighs.
  3. Keep your back straight fool!! Even all the ladies in the video had nice straight backs! So stick that chest out, keep it out, and your back will look the same. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 (But seriously, I love you guys and don’t want you to get hurt. So keep that back nice and straight and let your glutes and hams do the heavy lifting.)

These things are all much easier to see and understand in person. Since that’s not possible, I did the next best thing…

I really do hope this clears some things up for you guys and helps you go from ain’t no swing to ain’t no thing! Good luck!

**As a little bonus, if you still aren’t sure you’re doing it right or it hurts your back, take a video of yourself swinging. Send me the video at info@fuelsocofitness.com or on my facebook and I will personally watch it and give you the tips you need to fix it!

***Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*

Finally, the answer to the question: is it kettlebells or kettleballs?!

I think it’s safe to say that words like trendy or trendsetter have never and will never be used to describe me. Usually if I’ve started wearing something trendy or using a certain buzz word, chances are it’s on its way out. Kinda like Joey here…

The kettlebells might be my one chance at the title.

When I first found kettlebells…that’s right, kettlebells, not kettleballs, not cowbells, kettlebells…nobody knew what they were. And on the off-chance that they did, they had no idea what one might do with them. Kettlebells have actually been around for a very long time, but as most of you have probably seen they just recently started making their way into the American fitness spotlight. (Now if only spell check would get with the times…you should see all the red squiggly lines!)

8 years ago, I was just getting out of college and really feeling bored with my workout routine. So my boss at the time gave me the number of a guy and suggested I go try out these kettlebell thingys. Long story short, I fell in love and we’ve been going strong (excuse the pun 😉 ) ever since.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not a big fan of the fitness cultures that surround certain exercise programs or equipment. Ya know, the ones that think they are the best and only way. In fact, I’ll go ahead and tell you right now, you can get strong and have an awesome body without kettlebells! So this is more about why I use and love kettlebells. But just to play fair, I’ll also give you a couple things they are not so good for.

What they are good for…

First let me clarify that I’m going to be referring to the exercises that are kettlebell specific. There are lots of regular exercises that you can do with them as well, but for the purpose of this post I’m talking specifically about kettlebell exercises.

  • First and foremost, they’re FUN! (Especially if you find tradition strength training boring.) It’sP1000949 not often you get to swing heavy things around and look super cool at the same time AND actually have it be really good for your body.
  • Powerlifting is awesome for working your entire body and cardiovascular system, however, it is very technical. The kettlebell allows for an easier, more natural feeling, way to learn the powerlifts. Plus if you’re like me and have any issues with your wrists, kb’s are easier on them than the bar.
  • The way they are made, with most of the weight in one spot instead of evened out on both sides like a dumbbell, works more stabilization (especially of the shoulders) and balance. Two things most people struggle with.
  • They will strengthen your posterior chain. Wha?? The posterior chain is your low back, butt, and hamstrings. Who doesn’t want to strengthen those?! Plus if you have a desk job or just tend to sit a lot, chances are your posterior chain is pretty weak. While it might not feel like it, sitting is really hard on your body. Swings help undo some of that damage caused by too much sitting. This is also why most people say that swings just feel good.
  • They provide an awesome low-impact cardiovascular workout. Had to stop running because your knees couldn’t take it anymore? The kettlebell is your answer!!
  • So not only will they lift your booty, but working the posterior chain and cardiovascular system will help improve the basic athletic movements like walking, running, and jumping.
  • Kettlebells are great for strength training, fat loss, conditioning, and endurance.

For me, they are my favorite way to train because they hit all of my top priorities. I can use them for cardio and/or strength training. They give me an awesome full body workout in a short amount of time. With them, I enjoy my workouts more because to me they are fun and make my body feel really good.

What they aren’t good for….

All that being said, kettlebells are not the best for muscle hypertrophy. They tend to increase strength without size, so if you’re looking to bulk up you’ll probably want to add some more tradition weight lifting to your routine.

While they make learning the power lifts easier, they still come with a bit of a learning curve. In fact, it’s pretty awkward at first. It’s not something you can just watch someone do, then go pick up one and do it yourself (usually). This also means you can’t just go jump into a class on the first day. This is the reason so many people end up hurt.* They take a little more attention to detail and time to learn.

*Trainers are often the worst offenders when it comes to this!! So please make sure your trainer knows what they are doing if they are teaching or correcting you on kettlebell exercises.

One thing you should at least try….

If you were to ask me for my top 3 favorite exercises, the kettlebell swing would definitely be in there. Because of the multiple benefits, I do think everybody should at least learn the swing at some point (especially if you have a job where you have to sit a lot!). Then if you still don’t like it, you don’t have to do it. But from my experience, when you finally get it down and understand where you are and aren’t supposed to feel it, you’ll fall in love too. 😉

*Stay tuned for more on the correct way to do the kettlebell swing!!!

wrong kbs

No, no, Julian Michaels. Just….NO

**Interested in kettlebell classes and live in the Colorado Springs area? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*

I am in really great shape!

Penny testimonial

I started taking Beth’s kettlebell class a year ago, just before I found out I was pregnant with my second baby. I have always been a runner and ran through my first pregnancy, but was unable to keep running through my second. Kettlebells were great for me during that time because I was able to stay in good cardio shape while strengthening my body in a way that was low impact. Since my baby was born I have been excited to see how kettlebells have helped me get back into shape and lose weight so quickly. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am in really great shape overall because kettlebells are a regular part of my fitness routine!

~Penny

 

*Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*

I look forward to class each week!

 

jes testimonial

“After the birth of my fourth child in less than five years I decided that since the baby factory was closed it was time to try to get the body I had always wanted. After procrastinating and wondering if there was really anyone who could help my post baby bod I finally broke down and decided to just try out Beth’s kettlebell class. She was so good about making sure she didn’t throw too much at me all at once and really took the time to make sure my horrible knees and shoulders didn’t get injured. It’s the most intense, fun and rewarding workout I’ve ever had and I’m completely hooked and in love with kettlebells! I dropped 20 pounds in 3 months! And a year and a half later, I’m 36 lbs lighter, 21 inches smaller, and down 4 dress sizes! I’m back into my “skinny” clothes and they are fitting better than before, and I feel great!!! Hard work really does pay off! I look forward to the class each week because I can see the great results of such a hard workout (and my husband loves the results too!). Beth, you’re amazing!”

~ Justine

 

*Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*