If you want to get fast results through exercise, then you may be tempted to hit the gym every day and go as hard as possible each time. However, to better maintain your body and prevent injury, it’s actually best to not go every day and instead allow a period of rest and recovery between. For most people, this means that they don’t go to the gym, or they just relax for a day between workouts. However, there is a lot more to rest and recovery than just not working out. Here are the most important elements to help your body rest and recover after exercise.
The most obvious way to rest is to sleep. While asleep, our bodies repair tissue and vital systems that were used during our workout. To maximize sleep’s effect on your recovery, try to make it as natural and comfortable as possible, meaning don’t sleep with lights on and get enough hours to feel refreshed.
Rest and recovery is not just about taking a break. Since we lose a lot of fluid when we sweat, it’s crucial to replace that fluid as much as possible. Water is a perfect way to help our bodies recover, as most of our cells are made of water, and replenishing this vital substance can help our bodies heal faster.
To get the best results from your workout, you need to eat healthily. If you pig out on fast food after going to the gym, then you can be doing more harm than good. Make sure to get all the essential vitamins and nutrients, as these will help your body recover much faster. Protein is also critical for the building of new muscle.
A good rule to follow is to stretch your sore muscles regularly, to prevent cramping and to relieve tension. Proper rest and recovery involves getting your muscles back to normal after a workout, and stretching is a great way to do that.
While most of us cannot afford a personal masseuse to follow us around and massage us after the gym, it can be a good way to help your body rest and recover. Every so often, try to get a massage from a therapist or trained professional who can help relieve your pressure points and tight muscles.
Overall, when it comes to your health and fitness, rest and recovery can be just as important as the exercise itself. Although they say no pain no gain, there’s no reason for your body to suffer so you can get in shape.
If you want to get into shape, come to A4 Fitness. With expert fitness trainers in Santa Monica and West LA, you can get fit and healthy in no time.
When exercising, there are two primary goals you should try to achieve. The first is to burn calories (cardio), and the other is to work out to build muscle (lifting). If you’re looking to build and strengthen your muscles, then presumably you are looking to sculpt your body in the way you want it to look. However, to get that perfect body, there are two methods you can use: toning or strength training. So what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? Let’s break it down and see which one is right for you.
Let’s say you’ve hit your goal weight, and you don’t want to pack on any more pounds, fat or otherwise. In this case, you would want to start both maintaining your weight and toning your physique. Toning is when you develop the muscles you already have and burn the fat around them, resulting in a sharper definition.
How to Tone
If you are looking to show off your physique through toning, the best way to do this is with high sets of reps with low weights (such as 10 pounds). The high amount of reps will help burn the fat, and the little weight will ensure that you don’t build too much extra muscle and look bulky. For example, to tone your arms, you may do 25 or 30 bicep curls with 10 or 15-pound weights.
If you’re looking to bulk up and create solid muscle, then you want to do heavy strength training. This method is when you lift as much as you can for only a few reps. The heavier weight will tear your muscle fibers, causing them to grow thicker and stronger.
How to Build Muscle
If you just want to pack on solid muscle, then you will do the opposite of toning, which will be low reps with heavy weights. For example, if you want to build your biceps, you may do five or six reps at 30 or 35 pounds (to start). As you get stronger, you will need to increase the weight to continue building your muscle fibers and keep up your strength training.
If you’re looking to get ripped or bulk up, come down to A4 Fitness today. At our cross fit gym in West Los Angeles, you can strength train or tone to your heart’s content with our top-quality fitness gear and instructors.
Not too long ago, if you wanted a boost in your cognitive awareness and wanted to stay alert, you drank coffee. For a long time, coffee was pretty much the only way to wake yourself up if you were feeling sluggish and tired. That all changed, however, when Red Bull showed up on the market, with the promise of “giving you wings”. Nowadays, energy drinks are all around us, from Monster to Rockstar to Amp, with newer and bolder flavors coming out all the time. Ever since energy drinks exploded on the market, however, people have been questioning how safe it is to chug that much caffeine. It’s natural that any new phenomenon will have naysayers and alarmists, but are energy drinks really that bad for you? Let’s look at the data and see if we can’t come to a definitive answer to the energy drink question.
Before we can understand if energy drinks are good or bad for you, we first have to look at what’s contained within each can. Unfortunately, there is a broad spectrum of beverages that are classified as “energy drinks”, and there is no standard blend of ingredients, but the top four brands (Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, 5 Hour Energy) all use a variation of the same ingredients, so we can start there.
Effects on the Body
Overall, the ingredient list in energy drinks doesn’t show any significant “red flags”, but experts still warn about the dangers of long-term consumption, as well as ingesting high levels of caffeine. If you need multiple energy drinks throughout the day, it could have adverse effects on you later on, or it could do absolutely nothing. The only real danger is a dependence on energy drinks, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking them.
The biggest danger of energy drinks comes from high sugar content and high levels of caffeine. Everyone processes these differently, but if you want to keep up your energy drink habit, choose sugar-free options and maybe cut down a little bit. The other danger is tolerance and the fact that the wakefulness experienced will cover up other health issues that could affect your level of alertness. Basically, keep everything in moderation, and stop drinking them if you start to notice any adverse side effects, like a fast heartbeat or general jitters.
For more info or advice on health and nutrition, call one of our Los Angeles fitness experts at A4 Fitness today!
For many of us, losing weight is a difficult battle that requires constant work. However, let’s say that you put in the time and lose a significant amount of weight. While that is a tremendous achievement, one of the biggest fears is gaining everything back. In fact, the vast majority of the time, people who lose weight gain back every pound and then some. So what do you do? If you have reached your target goal, you can’t keep dieting, otherwise, you will continue to lose pounds. What’s the best way to ensure weight loss maintenance? Stay tuned, and we’ll tell you how.
Do the Math
While each person responds differently to various diets, the fundamental principle is this: to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you are taking in, and to maintain weight, you need to burn an equal amount of calories that you eat. Of course, things like processed vs. raw food and your metabolism will come into play, but starting with this formula will help you achieve your weight loss maintenance goals. Count the number of calories you are eating per day and subtract the number of calories you burn with exercise. The closer the sum is to zero, the better you will be at maintaining your weight.
Counting calories and tracking your food may not sound appealing, but for your weight loss maintenance, we suggest starting off with exact numbers, then rounding up to the nearest hundred for long term tracking. The better you can be about guessing how many calories are in a meal, the better you will be at keeping your weight loss maintained.
It’s a Journey, Not a Destination
So many of us become so focused on the result that we end up not knowing how to proceed once we reach it. Instead of trying to hit a “goal weight”, instead, focus on making your weight loss efforts a part of your lifestyle. Fad diets or crash diets can be good for shedding pounds quickly, but do nothing to help with weight loss maintenance. As they say, if you fall in love with the method then the goal will be achieved no matter what.
Ultimately, to keep your weight loss maintained, you have to plan on eating healthy and incorporating exercise forever, not just for the short-term. Whatever method you use to lose weight should be easily adaptable for weight loss maintenance. If you can change your mindset to be healthier in general, you will do far better at keeping the weight off.
If you’d like to learn more about weight loss or fitness programs in Los Angeles, call A4 Fitness today to speak to one of our fitness experts.
As more Americans are starting to become more conscious about their food and where it comes from, the term GMO is getting thrown around a lot. While there is a lot of information out there surrounding GMO foods, what is true and what isn’t? Are GMO foods safe to eat? What qualifies as a GMO food? Let’s dive into the world of genetic modification and see if we can’t decipher the difference between hype and facts.
What is a GMO?
The term GMO is an acronym that stands for Genetically Modified Organism. What this means is that the biological entity, which, in our case, is food, has undergone genetic modifications to make it different than what you would find in nature. For example, there is a version of white rice that has been genetically modified to contain high amounts of Vitamin A. The process turns the rice yellow, and it has since been dubbed “Golden Rice”. But there are multiple ways to modify an organism genetically.
How are GMO Foods Made?
Two primary processes go into making a GMO. The first is through selective breeding and crossbreeding. The second method is to change an organism’s genetic makeup in a laboratory setting.
Back in the 16th century, a German Monk named Gregor Mendel discovered (by accident) how to genetically modify flowers. He selected flowers with red petals and ones with white petals, then crossbred them to make pink flowers. His experiments discovered things like recessive genes and active genes and paved the way for modern genetics.
Starting before that, however, mankind has always been in the business of changing plants and animals to suit our needs. The cow, for example, used to be a bulky, aggressive behemoth called an Auroch until humanity domesticated it and made it fatter. Similarly, almonds used to be poisonous until we bred certain varieties to come up with the almonds we know today.
With today’s modern technology, we can insert new genes and remove old ones with relative ease. If we discover the gene that makes tomatoes grow larger, for example, we can insert this gene into new crops and grow even bigger tomatoes. The above example of Golden Rice was an instance of inserting a gene into the rice plant that made it develop Vitamin A at a much higher rate.
Are GMO Foods Safe?
Unfortunately, there is no right answer to the GMO question. While we have been genetically modifying foods for centuries, with the speed and technology of making GMOs becoming faster and more dynamic, it’s hard to say if there will be any downsides. In some cases, unintended consequences of GMO foods can happen, such as having to use more pesticides because the new crops attract parasites. In other situations, however, such as the Golden Rice example, making a GMO will allow poor people in other countries to get their vitamins and minerals without having to change their diet or pay for more expensive food.
For now, it seems like GMO foods are, as a whole, a net positive, but they aren’t without their downsides. As long as we make sure to test our results properly and check for any possible adverse side effect, GMO foods should be as safe as any other thing we put into our bodies.
Have more questions about the right food to eat? Ask one of our nutrition and fitness experts in Los Angeles!
When it comes to dieting and eating healthy, a lot of buzzwords are thrown around. From “superfoods” to “organic”, it can be a little overwhelming if you’re trying to change into a healthier lifestyle. One of the biggest buzzwords, however, is “processed food”. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that processed food is horrible for you, but why is that the case? What exactly is processed food? Today let’s investigate this term and figure out if foods that have been “processed” are really that bad for you, or if it’s just a bit of a misconception.
Let’s start by defining what processed food is. When we hear the term, we tend to think of junk food, like chips, candy, and soda. People assume that if the food is not in a natural form (i.e. chicken nuggets), then it must be processed, and, therefore, bad. While this train of thought is not necessarily wrong, it does not show us the whole picture. For example, would you think of a salad as being “processed”? What about a batch of homemade mashed potatoes? A tuna casserole? All of these dishes have been prepared in some form, which would then make them processed food. So what’s the deal?
Degrees of Processing
What it ultimately boils down to is the amount of processing food undergoes before it enters your stomach. To get a sense of how this all works, let’s look at something simple, like a potato. Let’s say, for example, that you grow potatoes in a home garden. When you first pick them, they are raw, meaning that they have not been processed in any way. If you ate the raw potato, you would only absorb some of the calories and nutrients since it’s much harder for our bodies to digest raw ingredients.
Next, let’s say you cook the potato. Cooking our food is a form of processing, and by doing so, it releases nutrients and calories for our bodies to absorb. Simply put, the more we process food, the easier it is to digest.
Finally, let’s say after cooking the potatoes, you mash them. Turning a batch of raw potatoes into mashed potatoes is a form of heavy processing since the end result looks nothing like the raw ingredients. Even if you do this by hand and with all-natural ingredients, turning a potato into pulp makes it processed, which makes it easier for our bodies to absorb calories and nutrients.
So what does this all mean? Are processed foods bad for us? Ultimately, as they say, it’s all relative. Since processing food makes it easier to digest, we can get a lot more calories than if the food was served raw. That being said, processed food can make us fatter or lead to health problems since we can digest the sugar and salt content without interference. Just keep in mind how much processing your food goes through, as well as any other chemical ingredients added. If you want to lose weight, stay away from heavily processed foods. If you’re trying to eat healthy, just avoid foods with a lot of preservatives and added chemicals.
Every so often, a diet or exercise fad comes around that literally everyone talks about. These days, the term is Crossfit, and it can be just a polarizing as any political debate. So what’s the deal with this workout? Ask some people, and Crossfit is a blessing. Ask others, and it is either a sport only for elite athletes or something that could kill you. Obviously, both sides can’t be right, but that also means that both sides can’t be wrong. So how do you decide if Crossfit is the devil or a saint? Let’s take a closer look at the fitness regimen and see what’s what.
What is Crossfit?
Simply put, Crossfit is a form of exercise that is designed to work out all areas of your body through a coordinated system of movements. Whereas traditional workouts have you target specific areas, such as the arms or the abs, Crossfit has Workouts of the Day (WODs), which are varied and can target a bunch of different spots on your body. The primary goal of Crossfit is to get a comprehensive, intense workout that will get you into shape much faster than traditional methods.
Is it Dangerous?
In a word, maybe. The biggest issue with Crossfit is the lack of consistency. If you go to three different Crossfit gyms (called Boxes for some reason), then you will experience three different methodologies and three different coaching systems. Because there is not one standardized method of Crossfit, it can lead to a lot of differing opinions and workouts. Worst of all, to become a certified Crossfit trainer requires less training and discipline than it does to get a driver’s license.
So what does this all mean? Is Crossfit a dangerous method of exercise that should be avoided? Not necessarily. If you go to a box that tries to get you to lift more weight than you can handle and push through any pain you experience, then yes, Crossfit can be dangerous, just like any exercise routine. Exercise should never be painful, and if you are hurting, then you should stop. That being said, some of the better-managed boxes know this, and will tailor the WODs to meet your skill level and help you get to a higher level in a safe, comfortable environment. As long as your coach isn’t trying to make you lift heavy weights in reps of thirty or do a workout even if you’ve told him you’re hurting, Crossfit shouldn’t be any more dangerous than anything else.
Is it Better Than Other Workouts?
Ultimately, the effectiveness of Crossfit depends on the amount of effort you put into it. The WODs are intense, and they are a bit randomized, which can have some adverse effects on your overall fitness. If you go as hard as you can every time, then after a while there is nowhere else to go regarding the intensity of your workout. Similarly, doing randomized exercises can diminish your gains and keep your body in a perpetual state of burn, which can result in adverse health consequences. That all being said, though, if you do Crossfit in a smart way, you can get a lot of benefits.
At the end of the day, Crossfit should be no more dangerous than any other form of exercise. The key is to know your limits and seek qualified professionals, not just any Joe with a license. While Crossfit may not be the blessing some of its followers claim it is, it certainly isn’t the devil. Ask a fitness expert at our CrossFit gym in Los Angeles for more info on this intriguing exercise regimen!
Adam & Amanda
We have spent most of our adult lives training and guiding hundreds of people toward better health & fitness. We have created this A4 Blog in order to better educate our friends & members. We will answer any of your health / fitness / nutrition questions as well as keeping you posted on what's new at A4.