Tag Archives: Working Out

The Exercise You Need to Go From “Skinny Fat” to Fit

If you have a slender frame, but still have a gut and flab in certain areas of the body, you might consider yourself “skinny fat.” There’s nothing bad or unhealthy about being shaped that way, but if you feel the desire to change it, here’s how.

A “skinny fat” person is best described as someone who weighs very little, but still has a high amount of body fat. If you identify as “skinny fat,” and want to look more fit, this video from the PictureFit YouTube Channel explains the types of workouts necessary to lower body fat and increase muscle. In short, it’s all about resistance training. Diets and cardio can help, but if you’re only doing those things, you’ll hit a plateau. What you need is to increase your muscle mass to offset the fat to muscle mass percentage and add much-needed definition to your frame. Fat burning from consistent resistance training can also be enhanced with a well thought out diet and by keeping your protein intake high. This is something I’ve been struggling with myself for the past few years, and lifting weights has been a huge help.


Skinny Fat Explained – How to Go From Skinny Fat to Fit | YouTube

Strengthen Your Grip With These Old-Time Strongman Finger Exercises

Strengthen Your Grip With These Old-Time Strongman Finger Exercises

If you’re looking to increase your grip strength, these finger exercises will definitely firm up your handshake. All you need is a really heavy book.

To get your hand muscles working, Brett and Kate McKay at The Art of Manliness recommend you try some old-fashioned strongman book lifting exercises. Place a heavy book on the edge of a table or counter (the heavier the better). Now slip your fingers under the book and lift it with one finger. Do several reps with each finger before moving on to the next. Next, flip your hand over, and do the same thing as before, only in reverse. Your hands will be super strong in no time. You can learn some more fun old-time exercises at the link below.


The Ultimate Guide to Oldtime Strongman Fitness: 26 Forgotten Exercises Every Man Should Try | The Art of Manliness

Photo via Sasha Kargaltsev.

Alternatives to Gatorade That Elite Athletes Actually Use

Alternatives to Gatorade That Elite Athletes Actually Use

For short workouts, you’ll probably be chugging water. But on long runs (more than an hour), you’ll probably want something more substantial. If you want something with different taste or a slightly different nutrition profile than the old standards like Gatorade, try these hydration options that elite runners use.

So why not just drink water? Carbohydrates (including sugar) help performance, both by fueling your muscles and by sending signals to your brain that change your perception of effort. As you sweat, you’ll also want to replace the electrolytes, especially sodium, that you lose.

Runner’s World surveyed a handful of elite athletes on their choices for mid-run hydration. Some went with popular brands, like Gatorade and PowerBar drinks, but here are some of the less obvious options:

  • Nuun tablets drop into your water bottle and provide electrolytes, flavoring, and a small amount of sweetener. You’ll have to get your carbs from another source.
  • Osmo Nutrition packets, also made to mix in to your water bottle, came recommended by a track and field runner who likes that they’re "not loaded up with fake flavorings." (Instead, they’re flavored with fruit powder.) Osmo products come in men’s and women’s varieties, which they claim can make up for some of the performance decrease women see at certain times of their cycle.
  • Coconut water was on our list of overrated "healthy" foods because it’s too low in sodium and carbohydrates to make a good sports drink. It made the Runner’s World list with the caveat that (surprise!) you have to add sodium and carbohydrates if you expect it to last you through a long workout.

Read the full article at Runner’s World for more on elite athletes’ hydration choices.

What Elites Drink Midrun | Runner’s World

Photo by Helen Cook.

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How Can I Keep My Exercise Routine In the Winter?

How Can I Keep My Exercise Routine In the Winter?

Dear Lifehacker,
Throughout the year, I’ve been pretty good about keeping up my exercise routine of jogging, cycling, and other outdoor activities. But now that winter’s here in full force, I’m really struggling to get outside. What can I do to keep my routine when it’s freezing outside?

Too Snowy to Run

Dear TSR,
Going out for just a walk during the cold and dark winter months is hard enough, so we’re sympathetic to the troubles of trying to actually exercise when it’s 20 degrees out. Thankfully, it’s not impossible to get the motivation to exercise in the winter and even if you can’t go outside you have other options.

Get Yourself Pumped Up to Exercise in Winter

How Can I Keep My Exercise Routine In the Winter?

It’s easy to get into winter hibernation mode, and that means the hardest thing about exercising in winter is getting up the ambition to do it. We’ve talked a lot about motivating yourself to exercise in general, but getting yourself to exercise in the winter is a bit of its own beast.

Everyone’s method of motivation is a bit different, but experts have all kinds of recommendations. Over on WebMD, Richard Cotton PhD suggests gettings yourself warmed up:

To acclimate, of course, you’ll have to keep working out through the cold — a bit of a Catch-22. It will be easier to make yourself go outside, though, says Cotton, if you warm up inside first. "Take five to 10 minutes and do some low level aerobic exercise like jogging in place or doing jumping jacks," he advises. "That way, when you step outside, you’ll already be warm."

It’s not just about motivation either, doing so is good for your health. The Telegraph explains:

[I]t is useful to recognise why it is particularly pertinent to tackle the winter onslaught by getting moving. The colder temperature in winter can cause your blood vessels to constrict, thickening the blood, which puts you at a higher risk of a heart attack. If you go from a hot to cold or cold to hot environment and your body changes temperature quickly, your blood becomes "sticky" and again, puts you more at risk of heart attack and strokes…. Chest infections are more common, too. If you feel your motivation waning when it’s cold, remind yourself that exercise is more – not less – important than in the summer.

It’s also a good idea to think of your winter workouts as training. Since most big exercise events are in the summer, the winter’s all about getting yourself ready for those events. The Huffington Post suggests keeping those summer goals in mind to get yourself outside:

"What are your goals for spring or summer? Half-marathon? Tough Mudder? Parkour in Paris?" asks [Ryan] Ford. "Whatever it may be, training with that forward-thinking mindset can make [exercise] a little less depressing and a little more exciting. There’s no pressure now to perform or compete."

Really, exercising in the winter is no different than any other time of the year, but it’s nice to know that everyone tends to struggle with motivation in the winter months.

Dress the Part and Go Outside Anyway

How Can I Keep My Exercise Routine In the Winter?

Depending on where you are, the winter months might mean cold weather, wet weather, or both. Either way, you probably can’t hit the streets in your neon short shorts and tank top like you could in the summer. If you’ve got the gusto to keep exercising outside in the winter you really only need a slight change of clothes to do so comfortably.

We’ve covered the basics of staying safe when exercising outdoors before, and in the winter that generally means wearing bright colors, dressing in layers, remembering to keep hydrated, and staying visible. Runner’s World has a guide for clothing that applies to pretty much any outdoor exercise you might want to do:

  • 35° TO 45°F AND CLEAR- Wear tights or thin running pants, a long-sleeve shirt, and a vest. You may also need gloves when the temp gets near 35°F.
  • 35° TO 45°F AND RAINY- Slim-fitting tights fare better in rain since they won’t get as droopy. A wool base layer will keep you warmer than a synthetic top since it retains warmth when wet. Wear a waterproof outer layer.
  • 10° TO 35°F AND CLEAR- Wear technical underwear under your tights or pants and a long-sleeve shirt under an insulated jacket or vest. Wear gloves or mittens and a thin beanie.
  • 10° TO 35°F AND SLEET- Wear tights, a water-resistant jacket, and a cap. Add water-resistant mittens to keep your hands from getting damp and cold.
  • –10°F AND CLEAR- Wear wool underwear and thick socks, tights, and running pants. To keep your core warm, go with a long-sleeve base layer under an insulated vest and windproof jacket. Wear a beanie and mittens.
  • –10°F AND SNOWY- Use the same cover-everything strategy as above for the bottom half. On top, wear an insulated vest and a water-resistant or waterproof hooded jacket over your base layer. Wear water-resistant hat and gloves.

    The main thing to remember when you’re exercising outside in the winter is to keep a close eye on your body and watch for hypothermia or frostbite. With darkness setting in earlier than in the summer, you should also make sure you have some bright clothes if you’re going out late in the afternoon.

    It’s also okay to accept the that you might actually enjoy working out when it’s cold outside. Like motivating yourself to work out, accepting the fact you’ll have to do it outside is all about mindset. The New York Times lays it out like so:

    But those of us who exercise in all sorts of weather will attest that there is a certain thrill that can come from terrible conditions. "It makes us tough," Ms. Davis said. She calls our runs in horrendous conditions "epic runs." And she’s right. They are truly memorable, ones we actually recall fondly.

    Thankfully, you don’t even have to be a runner—cycling in the winter isn’t as hard as it look either.

    Find Winter-Friendly Alternate Activities

    How Can I Keep My Exercise Routine In the Winter?

    Exercising outside in the winter isn’t always an option for everyone regardless of what clothes they wear. In that case, it means finding exercising you can do indoors or finding winter activities that count as exercise.

    As for those winter activities, there are all kinds of things you can do in winter to work out your body. Fitbie has a few suggestions to mix up your routine in the winter:

    "If you are a single-sport athlete, you have a lot to gain by mixing it up in the winter," says Kohler. "You will work different muscle groups, switch gears, and learn a new activity. We recommend cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking in the snow, and mountain biking on packed snow to our clients. Anything that challenges the body to move in a way that it isn’t accustomed to moving is good for your overall fitness."

    Likewise, you can also just bring your workout indoors. If you’re a runner, that might be a treadmill. If you’re a cyclist, spin classes might be up your alley, or if you’re a climber, the climbing gym should do the trick. Gym memberships aren’t cheap, but you can usually save money on a membership by getting off-peak memberships or showing little interest. Many gyms also have a la carte deals where you pay by visit or by month so you don’t have to get a yearly contract. Those prices are usually a lot higher than a yearly contract, but if you only have to use the gym for a month or two they’re not that bad. If the price is too much, your local community center likely has a small gym that’ll get you through the winter months.

    Of course, if you have the space you can also build your own home gym or just workout with just your body. Basically, even if you’re stuck indoors, you have a ton of options. Regardless of what you end up choosing to do, it’s important to stick to your routine as much as possible. If you’re working out three days a week at a certain time, continue that through winter. What you do doesn’t matter as much as you’d think as long as you keep yourself moving.

    Good luck,

    Photos by Mike Schmid, R.g-s, nonanet.

    How Can I Make My Workout Less Boring?

    How Can I Make My Workout Less Boring?

    Dear Lifehacker, I get extremely bored while working out. When I go for a run, I’m just counting down the minutes until I get home. When I exercise, I’m too distracted. Listening to music doesn’t help. What can I do to make working out more entertaining so I won’t give up and do something more interesting to my brain?

    Unenthusiastic Workout

    Dear Unenthused,
    Man, I’m right there with you. Some people have a harder time focusing on physical tasks without some kind of mental stimulation to make it more engaging. Or at least that’s the excuse I tell myself when I get bored doing workouts in my office after twenty minutes. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make working out interesting as well as healthy.

    Mix Up Your Routine

    When you do the same thing day in and day out, it doesn’t matter how fulfilling you found it to begin with. You’re going to get bored. Apps like Runtastic can help you spice up your routine for runners by taking you into a story mode (similar to Zombies, Run! but with less of a game twist), as well as encouraging you to take different routes. Of course, you don’t need an app to switch up your route.

    If you prefer to go to a gym, there’s another very simple way to make things more interesting: workout somewhere else. As Men’s Health suggests, just going to a different part of your gym, hanging out with a different group of people, or switching gyms altogether can be all you need to break the monotony and get re-engaged.

    You can also get your friends involved and turn working out into an entertaining goal. Health Magazine recommends planning trips with your friends such as skiing, kayaking, hiking, or any other major outdoor excursion. In the weeks leading up to your trip, you not only have extra motivation for working out, but you have a fun, tangible goal to work towards that can help narrow down what to do (for example, you may not need to work out your legs too much for kayaking, but they should be a primary focus for a hiking trip). Plus it’s easier to socialize while hiking or kayaking than it is jogging.

    Turn Your Workout Into a Game

    If you’ve got a decent imagination (and let’s face it, yours is probably overactive if you’re reading this), apps like Teemo can take you on a virtual adventure while you workout. The iOS app challenges you to scale Mount Everest or trek through a desert. It will give you specific workouts that can be done anywhere and tell you how far along on your journey you are.

    Another option if you enjoy virtual worlds for runners (though strictly speaking it’s not a fitness game) is Ingress. Around a year ago, Google introduced an augmented reality game that requires players to travel all over their city, finding historical landmarks and interacting with virtual "portals". The game itself is pretty great (and finally open to everyone), but it can also add an element of fun to your workout. You can plot out routes in your area with the online portal discovery tool, and give yourself specific goals to reach on every leg of your route.

    Along the same vein, zombie-related fitness training is so pervasive, it almost needs a category of its own. If you’re a runner, Zombies, Run! is the app you’re looking for. Every time you run, you’ll get a new episode in a larger plotline about Earth after the zombie apocalypse. During your run you can listen to your own music, but audio prompts will interrupt to inform you that you are currently being chased by zombies. At that point, you have to book it to survive. It’s not a difficult game, but it encourages you to challenge yourself periodically while still being entertaining.

    If audio stories aren’t your speed, try an entire zombie apocalypse workout routine. This program will trick you into getting a proper workout prepare you for the coming undead armageddon. If you think you’re ready to take it to the next level, be on the lookout for Zombie 5Ks in your area. There are actually a number of groups that put these together and they’ll vary by organization, location, and even the time of year, but they all have a similar point: zombies chase, you flee. Or get eaten.

    Compete with Friends for Fun or Profit (Literally)

    How Can I Make My Workout Less Boring?

    If you prefer something a bit more down-to-earth (what, you think interdimensional portals and pretend mountains are weird?), you can still turn your workout into a game with apps like Fitocracy. This service connects you to others who are also trying to work out. You can make friends, compete in challenges, and compare your stats with others.

    If you want to up the ante, though, you can put your money where your sweatbands are. Previously mentioned Fitsby will let you and your friends play with real money. If you fail to do your workouts, your money goes into the pot and will reward your friends who do. While it might not be entertaining you while you do it, Fitsby will make sure you don’t forget what’s on the line.

    Of course, how you make your workout entertaining is going to be mostly up to you. Some people just need the right music mix, while others might rather read while they exercise. If you’re trying to find a good routine you’ll stick to, just knowing what questions to ask yourself can mean all the difference.