The Anti-Cellulite Workout Guide for Women

cellulite workout

Although nothing can replace the benefits of aerobic exercise for the heart and lungs, aerobic training does not tone muscle or burn fat at anywhere near the level of resistance training. The biggest mistake I see in my profession is too many women putting all their focus on cardio thinking it will help them lose weight faster than lifting weights. This simply isn’t the case.

Resistance training has a number of benefits over cardio training. In addition to the positive visual changes that result from proper resistance training (you get a booty by squatting, not by running) there are numerous health benefits that only resistance training can provide for women, such as:

  • Slowing down the aging of the skeleton and improving bone mass – this is especially important as we get older since women are more likely to suffer from osteo pyrosis than men.
  • Improving the strength and function of tendons and ligaments – the more muscle you have to support your joints, the less pain and stiffness you will have later in life.
  • Building muscle revs up your resting metabolism – for every pound of lean muscle you build, an additional 50 calories per day will be burned while at rest.
  • Replacing the 1/2 pound of muscle that we lose each year as we age beginning at around the age of 30.

Many women have an unfounded impression that lifting weights will make them big and bulky like a man. This is simply not true. Women have far less testosterone than men, which makes it difficult for them to build large bulky muscles. You’d have to be training very hard for a long time in order to reach a rippling muscly physique.

Women naturally have more body fat than men as well, which means even if you build a LOT of muscle you’ll still retain a softer, more slender body than a man.

This part of the program is heavily targeted at the common problem areas for cellulite; the gluteals and hamstrings. It is not aimed at fat loss. You won’t have to spend hours in the gym every day doing full body training. For those who do want to lose some fat, I’ve included some low-intensity cardio exercises toward the end of the chapter. Many people don’t know this, but there is a specific heart rate range that is ideal for burning fat, and going over this means more effort for fewer results.

 

Key Muscle Groups

Here we will review the target muscle groups you will be focusing on. These are the muscles that make up your butt, thighs, and upper legs.

Gluteal Muscles

The gluteals (or ‘glutes’) are the group of 3 muscles that make up your butt; the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Besides determining the shape of your backside, they also affect what size jeans you wear, and how much cellulite you have. Let’s dive deeper into each of the three:

The gluteus maximus is the largest of the gluteal group. Its origin is the posterior line of the upper ilium, the posterior surface of the lower sacrum, and the side of the coccyx (don’t worry about memorizing all that). The lower and larger portion of the gluteus maximus ends with a thick tendon that passes through the hip and into the iliotibial band.

The function of the gluteus maximus is primarily thigh extension. So think about thrusting the leg in a backward motion from a squat position. Example exercises are bent-leg deadlifting, leg press, and squat.

The gluteus medius originates on the outer surface of the ilium above and in front of the anterior gluteal line. The insertion of the gluteus medius converges on a tendon that attaches to the lateral surface of your hip joint.

The gluteus minimus originates in front from the outer surface of the ilium between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines. In back, it originates from the margin of the greater sciatic notch. It inserts on the deep surface of a radiated aponeurosis via a tendon that attaches to the anterior border of the greater trochanter.

The two smaller gluteal muscles perform similar functions. With the knee extended, they abduct the thigh out to the side away from the opposite leg. When running, they stabilize the leg. With the hips flexed, they internally rotate the thigh. With the hips extended, they externally rotate the thigh.

This is the most important muscle group to train for women with cellulite since these muscles make up most of the area where cellulite tends to develop. In the next section I’ll show you exactly how to train these muscles to get maximum results with minimum effort.

The Hamstrings

The Hamstrings also consist of three muscles; the Biceps Femoris muscle, the Semitendinosus muscle, and the Semimembranosus muscle. These muscles combined are primarily responsible for the flexion of the knee joint (bending of the knee) as well as assisting the extension of the thigh (moving the upper leg backwards).  In addition to these functions the hamstring muscles work in tandem to rotate the knee, assist in maintaining a standing position with knees slightly bent as well as limiting how far we can bend forward as we try to touch our toes without bending our knees. The hamstring muscles also play a role in our posture by assisting to straighten out the lower curvature of the spine which curves the pelvis forward when sitting.

Let’s look at each of the 3 muscles a little closer:

The origin attachment point of the Biceps Femoris muscle arises as two heads from the Ischial Tuberosity region of the pelvis as a tendon which is shares with the Semitendinous muscle. Another shorter head arises from the outside edged of the Linea Aspera. The fibers of the short head merge into those of the long head, which then have an insertion attachment point on the head of the fibula.

The Semitendinosus muscle has an origin attachment point from the Ischial Tuberosity region of the pelvis as a tendon shared with the biceps femurs. and has an insertion attachment point on the upper shaft of the tibia.

The  Semimembranosus muscle has an origin attachment point from just in front of the Semitendinosus muscle on the Ischial Tuberosity region and has  five insertion attachment points the main one on the posterior portion of the medial condyle of the tibia a second insertion point is the fascia which covers the Popliteus muscle and the remainder insert joining the Tibial Collateral ligament of the joint and the fascia of the leg.

Behind the glutes, the hamstrings are the second most common area for cellulite to materialize. Many women have cellulite on their butt and it often extends down the upper thighs, which is where the hamstrings lie. This is the other section of the body where we will put a lot of focus, mostly through compound movements that work both the gluteal muscles and the hamstrings at once.

 

Compound Movements vs Isolation Movements

Resistance training is comprised of two types of movements; compound and isolation. 

Compound movements give you the dost bang for your buck, because 8-10 exercises can stimulate all the major muscles in the body and create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest amount of time. As an added bonus, compound exercises help develop the body proportionately.

Compound exercises also increase strength and size far more effectively than single-joint, isolation exercises. This doesn’t mean that single-joint exercises are ineffective. Exercises that isolate certain muscles and muscle groups do have an important role in fitness, especially for advanced lifters. However, if your schedule calls for reduced exercise time, compound exercises are the way to go.

Examples of compound exercises:

  • Squats
  • Leg Press
  • Lunges


Then there are isolation movements which focus on one specific muscle or muscle group.  These are important for toning specific problem areas that you may have.  In our case the only isolation moves we will bother with are ones that target the hamstrings and glutes.

Examples of isolation exercises:

  • Leg Curls
  • Hip Abduction
  • Hip Extension

 

Compound Exercises

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s review the most important compound exercises you’ll need to tone your problem areas and fight cellulite. This will be the primary part of your workout program.

Squats

When it comes to building your bum, there is no single exercise more important that the squat. Not only is it the queen exercise of butt building, but it also burns a ton of calories, improves your cardiovascular system, and helps your body release more human growth hormone. 

An important tip for women who want to build their glutes without adding a lot of muscle to their quads (the front side of your thighs) is to go “wide and high”. Keeping a wider stance and your weight shifted back will put more focus on your glutes and less on your quads. Most of us spend the majority of our day sitting, which causes the gluteal muscles to weaken and makes us rely more heavily on our quads and hamstrings.

If you want to crank things up a notch, add single leg squats to your routine. This puts your body in an unbalanced position, so you’ll have to recruit untapped muscle fibers in order to maintain your balance. This small change can make a world of difference in your progress.   

To perform a single leg squat, just hold one leg out in front of you, raise your arms in front to aid in balance, and squat down keeping your upper body as upright as possible. Another variation of the single leg squat is the split squat.

To perform a split squat, simply place one leg up on a bench (or other flat surface) behind you, while standing on the other leg straight underneath you. Hold a pair of dumbbells at your side and slowly bend the leg you’re standing on to move into the squat position.  Then simply straighten your leg until you’re at the top of the position. After you’ve finished all your reps on that side, you then repeat the exercise standing on the other foot.

Leg Press

While the squat is considered the queen of all leg exercises, the leg press is another popular leg builder of the royal family. It is performed in a similar fashion as a squat, except it is done on a machine.  A leg press machine will have shoulder pads and a flat area for your feet.  It is often horizontal or at a 45 degree angle.  To perform a leg press simply place your feet shoulder width apart, and slightly in front of you. The further forward your feet are, the more focus it will put on your hamstrings vs your quads.

Lunges

Lunges are another killer compound exercise you can perform at home or at the gym.  They work all the upper leg muscles, but especially the glutes and hamstrings which are the most important for us.  To perform a lunge, stand straight up with your feet shoulder width apart.  Take a large step forward and lunge until your rear knee almost touches the ground.  Your front knee should be at a 90 degree angle.  Then, simply push off with your front leg to return to the standing position.  Alternate between your left and right legs.  This exercise is more effective when done with dumbbells, but you can also do it at home with just your body weigh and more reps.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts are another one of the most powerful compound movements you can perform if you want to maximize results in the shortest amount of time. The deadlift effectively targets all major muscle groups in the lower body as well as the back, and can hit other muscle groups as well with just a few small tweaks.

To perform a basic deadlift, place a barbell on the ground so it is balancing on top of the weight plates. Walk up to the bar so that it is centered over your feet. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Bend at the hip and grip the bar at shoulder-width  with an alternating grip.

With your feet and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and flex the knees until your shins contact the bar. Keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward (keeping the bar close to your body on the way up).

After the bar passes the knees aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.

Lower the bar back to the ground by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.

If you prefer not to use a barbell, this exercise can also be performed using two dumbbells (see photos below). 

Bridges

Bridges are a great exercise for toning your glutes and can be performed anywhere, since all you need is a floor. If you want to add more resistance, you can grab a barbell at the gym and place it along your waist as you perform the bridge.

To perform a bridge, lie flat on your back on a mat with your knees bent pointing up to the ceiling and your arms at your sides. Simply raise your pelvis up toward the ceiling to a point where your body will be at a about a 45 degree angle relative to the floor. At the top of the movement, be sure to really flex your butt for a one-count. Return to the start position and repeat. 

Box Jumps

Box jumps are another good compound movement that work all of the muscles in your problem area without the need for any weights for fancy equipment. These not only work your glutes and hamstrings, but they get your heart rate up into that fat burning range, making them a great replacement for cardio.

To perform a box jump you’ll want to find a hard, flat object that is at least knee high. It can be much higher, but this can be dangerous if you’re not experienced and have good flexibility. If you’re at home you can use a small table or other similar object, just be absolutely sure it is sturdy and won’t flip over or you could seriously hurt yourself. If you’re at a gym, there should be no shortage of objects you can use for box jumping.

To perform this exercise place a box 1-2 feet in front of you and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Perform a short squat in preparation for jumping, swinging your arms behind you.

Rebound out of this position, extending through the hips, knees, and ankles to jump as high as possible. Swing your arms forward and up.

Land on the box with the knees bent, absorbing the impact through the legs. You can jump from the box back to the ground, or preferably step down one leg at a time.

With box jumps, form is everything. Focus on keeping perfect form and doing slower, lower repetitions. 

 

Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises are resistance exercises that target a single muscle rather than multiple muscles like compound movements. They are good for building specific problem areas, but they do not burn as much fat and calories as the exercises we’ve discussed so far. That said, they are easier to perform than exercises like squats and deadlifts and are still useful for targeting the hamstrings and gluteals.

Leg Curl

The leg curl is similar to a bicep curl, except for your legs.  It works the hamstrings specifically, which is a problem area for most cellulite sufferers.  To perform a leg curl, lay down horizontally on the leg curl machine.  Place your ankles under the padded curl bar.  Set the appropriate weight, and curl your legs towards your rear as far as you can.  Then, slowly release back down to full extension.  Do this slowly for 15-20 reps to tone the hamstrings. 

Glute Ham Raise

The glute ham raise is a little known exercise that is gaining popularity.  It primarily works the hamstrings, but also the gluteals.  To perform the glute ham raise, you will need to anchor your feet. Find a lip on something, either a machine or a bed or one of those ab benches. Face down, anchor your heels underneath the lip, and if you are not on a pad you will want to place a towel under your knees.

Starting with your feet anchored and your knees bent at 90 degrees, slowly lower your upper body to the floor. You will probably need to catch yourself at the bottom, at least in the beginning, so you don’t smash your nose. Chances are you will also need to give yourself a slight push off the floor in order to get moving up again. Use your hamstrings to pull yourself back up. 

To perform this at home, you can push your toes under a couch and use it to brace yourself, or you can have a partner hold your ankles down.

Hip Abduction

Hip abduction works the outer thighs and sides of the hamstrings.  There are multiple exercises that can be performed in a gym or at home.  A hip abduction machine consists of a seat and two padded areas for your feet.  To perform machine hip abduction, sit down with your feet on the designated areas.  Your knees should be pointed straight forward.  Set the appropriate weight, and push your legs outward, away from each other.  You should reach at least a 90 degree angle between your legs.  Then, slowly release until your legs are straight forward.

Hip Extensions

Hip extensions are a great way to tone your glutes and hamstrings.  To perform a kneeling hip extension, get on your hands and knees (with or without ankle weights).  Kick one leg out behind you as high as you can and hold it for 2-3 seconds.  Then, return to your knee.  Do 15-25 repetitions and then switch to the other leg and repeat. 

The standing hip extension is another type of hip extension.  To perform a standing hip extension, stand up straight and simply extend one leg out behind you as far as you can.  You should be able to reach approximately 45 degrees.  Then, return to the original position and repeat for 15-25 reps.  Do this for both legs, one at a time.  This should be done with a cable or ankle weights if possible.  It also may help to put one foot on a slightly raised surface, like a step.

 

Low-Intensity Cardio for Cellulite

Low-intensity cardio is a type of cardio training that focuses more on burning fat than exercising the heart and lungs and is much different than high-intensity cardio.

The breakdown of fats in your body is called lipolysis. The enzyme in the body that is responsible for lipolysis is called lipase. Lipase turns fats into three unbound fatty acids (FFA) and one glycerol molecule. Mobilization is the breakdown of triglycerides into glycerol and FFA’s for energy. So you can think of mobilization as breaking down fat in your body for future possible use. Oxidation is the point at which the fatty acids that were mobilized were actually burned.

Studies have shown that as the intensity of exercise increases, the lower the amount of FFA’s (fats that have been mobilized) there are in your bloodstream. This is because during low-intensity cardio, the rate at which oxidation occurs in FFA’s in much higher than in high-intensity cardio. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually not that simple. Doing high-intensity cardio can actually burn more fat than low-intensity cardio because you burn more total calories overall (assuming you’re exercising for the same amount of time).

Let’s say you burned 200 calories doing low-intensity cardio and 90% of those calories came from fat. That means you burned 180 calories of fat and 20 from other sources. If you had done high-intensity cardio during that same time period, you may have burned 300 calories and 75% of those calories were burned from fat. That means you burned 225 calories from fat and 75 calories from other sources. These are just estimates, but you get the idea.

The point I’m getting to here, is that you don’t need to strain yourself sprinting on a treadmill or biking to exhaustion to burn fat. Doing lower intensity cardio exercises that also build muscle are a more efficient way to drop excess fat while building and toning your thighs and butt. Below are two examples of low-intensity cardio exercises you can add to the END of your workouts if you want to time effectively drop some body fat.

Uphill Walking

When it comes to cardio training, there are few better exercises to tone the glutes than uphill walking (or jogging).  This is best done on a treadmill while setting the incline to 10% or higher. Keep your pace between speed walking and slow jogging. If you don’t have access to a treadmill you can obviously find an uphill area in your neighborhood and simply walk up it.

Stair Climbing

Stairs are another great way to burn fat and work on your butt at the same time.  Stair climbs can be performed anywhere, whether on a machine or on a staircase in your home or apartment.  If you don’t have a full size staircase you can simply do step-ups, which involves repetitively stepping up and down on a single step (or bench).

During both of these exercises, focus on keeping your heart rate at 70% of your max.  If you’re using a machine at the gym it should be equipped with monitor this for you. If not, use your best judgment.  You should feel your heart rate beating faster than normal, but not as fast as during, say, a sprint.  You should be slightly winded but not gasping for air.

 

How to Train for Cellulite Reduction

Let’s explore some basic principals of how women should resistance train:

  1. As a general rule, women should perform exercises at a weight that allows them to complete 15 to 25 repetitions; with the last few repetitions feeling a bit challenging. It is those last few reps that really matter, not the first 10.
  2. Perform 3-4 sets of each exercise, never more than that. Be sure to stretch beforehand and perform a warm-up set with lower weight if needed.
  3. Your routine should be performed at a fairly fast pace. This does not mean rushing through your sets. It means after completing a set, you should allow only a few minutes max before you begin your next set. This keeps your heart rate up, which keeps you in the fat burning range throughout your workout. It also prevents you from needlessly spending hours in the gym every day. If you find certain muscles getting too tired to keep pace, you can try alternating exercises.
  4. Focus on using perfect form, especially when performing body weight exercise (without additional weights). If you want to build and shape the perfect butt without getting bulky, form is what will get you there. Perform each rep very slowly and focus on keeping the target muscles tight.
  5. Don’t overdo it. You only need to train 3-4 times per week. Any more than that is overtraining, which will only hurt your progress. You should be feeling pretty sore the day after a workout. If you are, consider taking a day off and focusing on your diet. Remember, resistance training breaks down your muscles and the food you eat rebuilds it stronger than before.

 

Sample Training Schedule

Below is a sample schedule you can follow that will build your bottom and melt your cellulite in less than 3 hours PER WEEK.  Plus, you get the weekends off!

Monday: 30 minutes resistance training / 20 minutes low-intensity cardio

Tuesday: 30 minutes resistance training

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 30 minutes resistance training / 20 minutes low-intensity cardio

Friday: 30 minutes resistance training

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

How to Get Rid of Cellulite Naturally

cellulite

Up to 90 percent of all women have some amount of cellulite on their body. And while cellulite can affect women of any age, it is especially prevalent in women over 35 and typically gets more noticeable as we get older.  For most, it is a major source of embarrassment and it is notoriously difficult to get rid of. Because of this, there is a large and growing cellulite treatment industry taking aim at solving this globally widespread problem. Unfortunately, nearly all of the “quick fix” products out there short of surgery tend to leave buyers disappointed with the results. But why is this? For starters, let’s discuss the inner workings of cellulite and some of its common root causes.

While it doesn’t look like what we commonly refer to as ‘fat’, the truth is that cellulite is just the same as any other fat on your body. The difference in appearance is simply due to that fat bulging through your skin.  Despite what you may have heard about “trapped toxins” or poor circulation, cellulite is nothing more than ordinary body fat. Several scientific studies have confirmed this, and anyone telling you otherwise is likely trying to sell you something.  The ‘toxin’ theory was fabricated by marketers in the cellulite industry long ago and is unfortunately still around today.

The truth is, everyone has strands of fibrous tissue that separate fat cells into compartments and connect fat to the skin. In women, these fibers form a honeycomb-shaped pattern, so any increase in fat can cause it to bulge out like stuffing in a mattress. Because fat is very soft, it doesn’t keep our skin taut like muscle does. It also takes up more space, which makes it bulge out even further. 

You see less cellulite in men because they genetically have a lower body fat percentage and store fat differently than women. Men tend to deposit fat in the stomach region where the skin is thicker and more padded, thus you don’t normally see the cottage cheese appearance there.  Women tend to store fat in the lower body where the skin is thinner, making the orange peel look much more visible.

Though cellulite affects women of all ages, it does get worse with age. That’s because those strands of fibrous tissue thicken with age, and our skin also gets thinner and looser, allowing the cellulite fat to bulge through making it more noticeable. More importantly, the average woman loses 5lb of muscle and replaces it with about 15lb of fat every decade of her adult life.  This combination makes cellulite much more abundant, and much more visible.

Now the good news. It is possible for ANY woman to reduce or eliminate the appearance of cellulite. However, you should know by now that there are no pills, creams, massages, or any other gimmicks that can magically get rid of your cellulite overnight.  What you can do is adjust your diet, tone the muscles in specific areas, and use smart supplementation to regulate hormones and improve skin elasticity. You may not want to hear it, but getting rid of cellulite is hard work and requires some permanent lifestyle changes. I

 

Causes of Cellulite

There are several factors that contribute to your cellulite problem, some you can help and some you can’t. No single thing can be blamed 100% and there is no silver bullet that can get rid of cellulite for everyone. Lets start out by taking a closer look at each of these contributing factors so we can learn how to combat them and eliminate the root causes of our cellulite.

Heredity: This is the only contributing factor that we cannot fight.  Many women are genetically sensitive to getting cellulite.  This is mainly due to your body type and its preferred placement of body fat.  Some women just tend to store more fat in the thighs and butt than other women do.  There’s nothing you can do about it.  Does this mean it’s a lost cause and there’s nothing you can do?  Absolutely not.  Just because you’re genetically more prone to cellulite, doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of it.  It just may take a little more work to get the results you want.

Lack of the Appropriate Type of Exercise: This is one of the most common contributing factors when it comes to cellulite.  The amount and visibility of cellulite you have is correlated with your overall body composition. If your body fat percentage is higher, you have a much higher chance of having cellulite.

Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to lose weight to get rid of cellulite.  Women with more muscle mass in the thighs and buttocks have significantly less cellulite than women who don’t.  But not to worry. You don’t need to hire a personal trainer and spend hours in the gym every day. A few simple resistance training exercises and an adjustment in your diet can quickly build muscle and tighten your skin without a need to kill yourself in the gym and lose a lot of weight. It’s a lot easier than you’d think, and we’ll go over this in detail later in the book.  While fat loss is helpful in reducing cellulite, we’re going to take the path of least resistance and target only the most problematic areas.

Hormonal Changes: The food we eat in today’s modern times is loaded with chemicals, hormones, refined sugars, and bad fats. Cellulite was much less of a problem even 30 years ago when foods were more natural and less processed.  Poor dietary choices along with the high-stress environment we live in can cause hormonal problems for many women.  Fortunately, you can combat these hormonal changes by making some simple changes in your diet and lifestyle.  Our main focus will be to combat the overproduction of estrogen and cortisol.  We will go into more detail on this in a later chapter.

Improper Diet: A bad diet not only increases your overall body fat, but it also can lead to hormonal changes, as we just discussed.  Consuming the wrong fats and refined carbohydrates can lead to estrogen imbalance and cause and excess fat storage in the thighs, hips, and butt. But not to worry. You don’t need to cut out all the foods you love or starve yourself on some crazy fad diet. Rather than reducing our calorie intake and trying to lose weight, we’re going to focus on some simple replacements for common problems foods you’re probably eating.

The two key factors here are to replace bad fats with good ones, and to replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains and protein.  A few small changes can greatly improve your body composition without the need for weight loss and with no exercise required.  These simple replacements can also help regulate problem hormones and improve your overall health.

 

Common Cellulite Treatment Myths

Here are some commonly marketed products that claim to eliminate cellulite.  In each case I will show you what the marketer claims, and then my response to those claims as a trainer and nutritionist.

Massage Treatments (Endermologie)

In 1998, the FDA approved a high-powered, handheld massage tool that consists of a treatment head and two motorized rollers with a suction device that compresses the affected tissue between the two rollers. The manufacturer is permitted to promote it for “temporarily improving the appearance of cellulite.” The procedure usually takes 10 to 20 treatments to get started, and one or two maintenance treatments per month are required to maintain effects.

As you can see, they are only allowed to market it as a temporary fix, and even then, it’s not very noticeable.  Any results you see from massage treatment comes from swelling in the area.  When you massage a muscle intensely, it increases blood flow and swelling, which temporarily tightens the skin.  This makes cellulite slightly less noticeable for a short time.  This is just not a practical long term solution for cellulite.

Ginkgo Biloba Extract

Claim: It assists in blood circulation and stimulates the metabolism of fats.

Although ginkgo can increase circulation, it does not stimulate fat metabolism. Even if it did, there is no reason why it would exert a localized effect.

Sweet Clover Extract

Claim: It can increase blood circulation and assist in removing fluid build-up.

This supplement may have mild diuretic action, but “fluid build-up” is not a significant factor in the appearance or composition cellulite.

Grape Seed Bioflavonoids

Claim: Powerful antioxidants that protect cells and blood vessels from damage.

Whether antioxidant supplements help protect tissues is not scientifically settled. Regardless, any such mechanism has nothing to do with the quantity or appearance of fatty tissues.

Fucus Vesiculosus Extract

Claim: It stimulates metabolism and can help reduce localized fats.

This herb contains significant amounts of iodine and could adversely effect the thyroid gland. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for iodine is 150 micrograms. The average American woman ingests 170 micrograms per day from food (not including iodized salt).

Soy Lecithin

Claim: It helps to break down fats.

The body makes all the lecithin it needs. Lecithin supplements do not cause the body to shed additional fat.

Body Wrapping

Many salons and spas exist where clients supposedly can trim inches off the waist, hips, thighs, and other areas of the body. These facilities use wraps or garments, with or without special lotions or creams applied to the skin. The garments may be applied to parts of the body or to the entire body. Clients are typically assured that fat will “melt away” and they can lose “up to 2 inches from those problem areas in just one hour.

If you use common sense, you should know that you can’t just melt away fat and lose 2 inches in an hour.  If you could, nobody would ever exercise.  This is just another gimmick that alters blood flow temporarily, which may make you look leaner in certain areas for a short period.  This is not a lasting or practical answer to your problem.

Cellulite Creams

There are hundreds of cellulite creams available to you, many claiming they can eliminate the appearance of cellulite in just minutes.  The key word here is “appearance”. They don’t do much, if anything, to actually fix the problem, and the FTC is constantly shutting these companies down and forcing them to refund millions of dollars to unsatisfied customers.  Here’s why these creams don’t work:

You are not legally allowed to sell a topical product over the counter that penetrates deeper than the outer layers of the skin (epidermis).  So if this cream can’t even reach your cellulite, how can it get rid of it?  Again, all it can do is cause swelling.  Experts unanimously agree that any temporary effects you get from a cellulite cream is due to increased blood flow in the skin. This can reduce the appearing for a short time, but does nothing to actually get rid of cellulite.

 

Cellulite Causing Hormones

Hormones are a key contributor to the appearance of cellulite.  There are two in particular that are major offenders; estrogen and cortisol.  If not controlled, these hormones can increase fat storage in the problem areas and also break down collagen fibers in the skin.  This is an important piece of the puzzle that is often ignored by other cellulite treatments, which is unfortunate because it’s quite simple to fix.

Let’s discuss these hormones in more detail show you some simple ways to keep them in check:

Estrogen

Estrogen is the primary female hormone.  It’s what gives females their female characteristics.  Unfortunately, in today’s modern world there are many things that can cause an overproduction of estrogen which leads to an increase in cellulite.  Estrogen imbalance causes the body to store more fat in the thighs and butt, and can also contribute to breaking up collagen fibers in the skin which can cause stretch marks, loose skin, and more visible cellulite.

Estrogen overproduction can come from several causes.  The primary ones are consumption of the wrong types of fat, lack of physical activity (especially resistance training), certain birth control methods, and pregnancy.  The first two causes are easy to fix and can do wonders for controlling estrogen.  First of all, a diet high in fat, particularly bad fats, is directly related to an overproduction of estrogen.  And to compound the problem, a higher body fat percentage often leads to even higher estrogen levels. 

The easiest way to combat this is to make some simple modifications to your diet and to add resistance training to your weekly routine. Research shows that physical activity curtails overproduction of estrogen in addition to increasing lean muscle mass and reducing body fat.  In a later article, we will discuss the difference between bad fats and good fats and cover some laser targeted resistance training exercises that can help keep your estrogen levels in check while toning your thighs and butt.

Cortisol

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone.  It’s sort of like a low-grade adrenaline that gets released under times of stress.  Unfortunately, it also increases fat storage, breaks down muscle, and breaks apart collagen in the skin.  This is a deadly combination for cellulite sufferers.  Not only does it increase fat storage (which increases estrogen), it also weakens your skin, making cellulite even more noticeable.  It’s absolutely crucial that you regulate this harmful hormone.

To combat cortisol, there are a few simple things you can do:

Eat small meals at regular intervals throughout the day.  Skipping a meal may sound like a good way to lose weight, but it actually increases cortisol and slows down your metabolism.

Reduce stress.  This can be difficult for some, but it’s important. Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, and supplements like L-theanine and Valerian root.

Get plenty of sleep.  Not getting a full nights sleep is one of the biggest contributors to cortisol production.

Avoid stimulants.  Studies show caffeine and other stimulants can increase both cortisol and stress levels. If you need an energy boost try taking B vitamins or drinking green tea in place of coffee.

Follow these simple steps to control estrogen and cortisol and you will not only see a reduction in cellulite over time, but you will be much healthier.  Elevated levels of these hormones over the long term can cause serious health problems that are much worse than having cellulite.

 

Umcka: Nature’s Remedy for Colds, Bronchitis, Herpes Simplex, and more

umcka

Just before the 1900s, an Englishman traveling to South Africa had a serious respiratory illness. Charles Stevens, who needed to cure himself quickly, found himself seeking he help of a native tribal leader who introduced him to Umcka (Pelargonium sidoides), which was native to the area in South Africa. He recovered, returning to England to spread the news, and soon, it was known as the Stevens Consumption Cure.

Doctor Adrien Sechehaye learned of the cure and began using it for his patients in Switzerland. He treated over 800 patients, publishing numerous case studies. As modern medicine began to bloom with antibiotics and antivirals, this remedy faded into the background until fairly recently.

The plant has some antibacterial and antiviral properties and also releases interferon (which boosts the immune system). These qualities mean the plant often target ailments from a number of angles, which may explain its “folklore” success with both viruses and bacterial infections.

 

What it Does

For those suffering from lung disorders, Umcka can prevent flare ups. For those who are relatively healthy but have bouts with the common cold, Umcka can help alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold.

It has also been shown in some small studies to reduce the replication of the herpes simplex virus, possibly limiting outbreaks. It has properties that prevent bacteria from binding to cells, which in turn leads to a stronger fight against viruses, including herpes simplex. In addition, Umcka might be able to fight the bacteria that causes many stomach ulcers.

Its most common benefit, however, is treating acute bronchitis and colds. Not only can Umcka shorten the duration of these illnesses, but they can even offer some relief from symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, chest pain, cough and nasal drip.

 

Scientific Studies

Limited findings are available to support the effectiveness of Uncka, and it is the center of quite a bit of controversy.

Claiming to reduce the duration and severity of colds, Umcka has been shown in just a few small studies, performed in Russia and Ukraine, to be effective. It is worth noting, however, that these case studies showed promising results, and many manufacturers of the product have produced studies that closely mimic the success. Many of these studies show that in common colds, the severity of bronchial and throat irritations were both reduced, as was the duration of the cold itself.

 

Suggested Usage

Umcka is produced in a variety of forms for children and adults, usually sold under the names of Umcka , Kaloban or Umckaloabo. Drops can be added to water for consumption, or syrup may be consumed based on manufacturers’ directions. Chewable tablets are also common for children and adults.

For best results, dosage should be administered at the first sign of symptoms, as a delay could cause the supplement to lose its effectiveness.

Elderberry: Nature’s Cure for the Flu

elderberry

Across the world, elderberry has been part of many cultures and traditions throughout the ages. For example, in Celtic tradition, elderberry was held in quite high regard. One would carry elderberry to protect themselves from evil or to remove negative spells. Its oil was used in rituals of blessing, and many used it to bring about vivid, intuitive dreams. Others would sleep underneath the plant to dream of faerie land. More practically, it was used to keep skin light when mixed as a face wash.

Many believed that the Elder tree was considered sacred by the vegetation goddess, Hylde Moer, which led to many virtually worshipping the trees, planting them around homes for protection.

Gypsies would often use the wood to produce instruments they felt were pleasing to the spirits. It was considered bad luck to burn elder wood in a fire, and the gypsies took the wood’s burning properties to be somewhat of an omen, with its loud burn of hisses and crackling and its quickness to burn. Offenders were thought to be hunted down by the goddess and cursed with bad luck. In fact, when removing its branches or cutting it down, a ritualistic prayer was made as way of asking permission. From Russia to Scotland and Italy, elderberry’s initial purpose was to protect.

Early Christians, however, viewed the elderberry quite differently. Its history in Christian folklore is quite dark, with many legends claiming that the cross upon which Jesus died was made of elder. Its meaning was even darker for those who believed Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus before his death, hung himself from the branches of an elder tree.

Early legends show one of the initial medicinal uses of elderberry was to help with toothaches, which were often thought to be the result of evil spirits. Less mythological origins point to elderberry being used early on as a skin treatment. Skin inflammation, allergies, rashes, bug bites, acne and sunburn were treated with this. By 1644, a book of over 230 pages was translated from Latin to English, revealing that elderberry could be a treatment for any ailment, including strangulation and sore throats. Shockingly, it was even a remedy for the plague. 

One of the largest differences between ancient use of elderberry and modern day uses, however, is how the “cures” were administered. Many early remedies involved rubbing branches onto ailments to “transfer” the illness to the tree, or lying down under the tree during the first attack of epilepsy to be cured. Today, remedies are usually consumed or applied topically.

What it Does

Today, Elderberry is said to reduce the duration of flu by up to three or four days. Lozenges are juices are both effective for this. In women who are postmenopausal, daily doses can reduce the risk of heart disease. It has also been suggested that it can prevent or help treat cancers, nerve pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS and a number of other ailments. Also, taking dried elderberry capsules three times daily for an extended time can also reduce cholesterol.

It is also suggested as a way to slowly relieve fever, with scientific evidence backing this claim quite clearly. It helps inflammation and general immunity as well. It is commonly used for sinus infections and bronchitis, although more research is needed to sufficiently determine its effectiveness in this area.

Scientific Studies

The Department of Virology at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem found interesting effects when they studied influenza A and B patients. Sixty patients were symptomatic for at least 48 hours, ages 18 to 54. The study, which was double blind and placebo controlled, took place in Norway where patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo four times daily for five days. Using a visual analog scale, patients recorded their progress, and those using elderberry averaged feeling relief four days sooner than those receiving the placebo.

A similar study was done by Immunology Laboratory for Tumor Diagnosis at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. Using a black elderberry based product called Sambucol, the double blind placebo controlled study found the methods to be effective in treating up 10 strains of influenza. It also reduced duration of symptoms by anywhere from three to four days, and patients showed higher antibody levels after consuming the elderberry product.

The same department further studied Sambucol, and even found it to reduce fevers in two days among 93.3% of some patient groups with influenza, and many complete cures were reported within 2 to 3 days.

Suggested Usage

When taking for ailments, it is important to take elderberry within 48 hours after symptoms are noticed, or as soon as possible. This is when the supplement can be most effective, reducing flu duration and symptoms quite dramatically. Particularly for flu or severe colds, the recommended dosage is one tablespoon of extract syrup taken four times daily. Similarly, lozenges marketed with zinc can be very effective when taken as directed.

It is important to note that raw elderberries themselves are poisonous, as well as other parts of the tree. Because the product cannot be directly consumed, there are many products, such as Sambucol, marketed for the immune system that have been shown to be effective in scientific studies. Other similar products are made under the names Nature’s Way, ViraBLOC and HerbalScience. These products can be taken as directed for maintenance. In addition, there are many teas that contain supplements such as elderberry paired with zinc for an immune system boost. This is an easy and effective way to add elderberry to your health routine.

The Top 5 Best Pilates DVDs for Home

pilates

Pilates is a type of exercise that was conceptualized and developed by Joseph Pilates after he invested a lot of time studying human anatomy, Zen Buddhism, yoga, and ancient Greek and Roman workout routines. It has emerged as a very popular form of exercise and it’s for everyone – men and women, young and old. If you wish to know what all the fuss is all about but you don’t have ample time and money to enroll and take a Pilates class, you’ll need something more practical and inexpensive, like the best Pilates DVDs available in the market today. There are many different ones so we did the hard work and hand-picked the top 5 for you!

1) Pop Pilates Total Body Workout with Cassey Ho

This workout DVD makes it to the list mostly because of the fact that Cassey Ho is a superb instructor and will inspire you to keep going. It’s an excellent Pilates DVD and can help anybody get in tip-top shape in just a matter of weeks. Cassey designed the DVD to work out the entire body and make sure that you end up with a lean and toned physique. It is an hour long Pilates workout that will tone your glutes and thighs, sculpt your arms and chest, chisel your legs, and turn your flabby stomach into rock-hard abs. But what’s really exceptional about the Pop Pilates Total Body Workout is that Cassey specifically designed it with fun in mind, which is a huge factor when it comes to having that motivation to work out on a daily basis.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Top notch Pilates instructor
  • Takes an hour to complete the workout
  • Advanced Pilates workout
  • Inspires motivation
  • Full body workout

 

2) 10 Minute Solution: Rapid Result Pilates

The title speaks for itself: this Pilates DVD can get you fit, toned, and make you lose weight in just 10 minutes. It is the brainchild of Lara Hudson, a world-renowned Pilates instructor. She utilized a special power precision sequencing that effectively builds muscle and burns fat in no time at all. Her design of the routine is truly remarkable because it targets all parts of the body with five separate 10-minute workouts, with each one aimed at improving a different area of your body. The workouts consist of a full body blaster, flexibility component, a waist slimmer, a glutes and thigh workout, and an arm and shoulder exercise. The DVD is great because all the workouts were designed to keep you fit while wasting no time at all.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Perfect for people with busy schedule
  • Advanced workout not suitable for beginners
  • Workout targets entire body
  • Builds muscle and burns fat
  • Very motivational

 

3) Denise Austin: Shrink Your Fat Zones Pilates

This is a fantastic DVD that can tone muscles and quickly eliminate the fat zones in just 21 days! It features Denise Austin and was designed to make you sweat and get rid of unwanted fat within three weeks. It targets three specific problem areas namely the abdominals, arms and thighs. Each area receives 15 minutes of exercise, meaning you can tone your body in 45 minutes. Both beginners and experienced Pilates practitioners can use the DVD with ease.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Targets abs, arms and legs
  • Does not target all muscle groups
  • Designed to tone muscles and shrink fat
  • Fairly time-consuming
  • Comes with a custom workout option

 

4) 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates

Pregnant women have limited exercise options, but this is one of a handful that will keep expectant mothers and their babies healthy. It is a basic workout that won’t put much stress on the body but will still keep the muscles toned while keeping excess fat at a minimal level. This is an excellent pregnancy workout that can be performed during all 3 trimesters. The exercises will keep the core, buns, and thighs toned while also helping in maintaining flexibility. The DVD even comes with a section that can help in getting rid of belly fat after giving birth.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Targets all parts of the body
  • Designed only for pregnant mothers
  • Great way to stay fit while pregnant
  • Takes nearly an hour to complete
  • Not harmful to the baby
  • Tones muscles
  • Helps maintain flexibility

 

5) Element: Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners

This is one of the best Pilates DVDs for beginners. It is an easy and low impact workout designed by Brook Siler, a certified instructor and writer of The New York Times best-selling book series, “The Pilates Body and Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge.” The workout is guaranteed to help you lose weight in no time. The DVD will teach you the basics so you can get a feel for Pilates. In addition, it has been conceptualized to maximize calorie burn so you can lose as much weight as possible. The workout will help strengthen and tone your muscles, specifically the abdominals and those in the hips and thighs.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Not suited for advanced Pilates practitioners
  • Great introduction to Pilates
  • Takes almost 1 hour to complete
  • Involves some cardio workout
  • No need for equipment

 

Conclusion

If you haven’t tried Pilates before, it’s about time to do so as it is a superb way to maintain or increase strength, mobility and flexibility. It is also an excellent way to reduce the amount of excess fat in your body. If you don’t know how to begin, then start with one of the five Pilates DVDs that we have reviewed and chosen for you!

Can You Squat Every Day? Pros and Cons Evaluated

squat

There is no other exercise for the lower body that delivers more definitive results than squats.  They are among the most basic movement patterns and is undoubtedly the most effective leg exercise for increasing muscle size and strength, while simultaneously burning fat.

Although squats are not ‘mandatory’ in terms of effectively sculpting your lower body, the benefits they offer certainly extend to different areas that fitness experts recommend including them in daily training routines as long as you are physically able to perform them. The results are definitely worth your time and effort, and here are some of the reasons why…

Increase in muscle size and strength

Squatting every day increases strength and power in different muscle groups of the lower body including the glutes, quads and hamstrings, which are the main stabilizers when you are in motion. Squats also boost hip extension power, which is important in increasing vertical leap. They also stimulate the production of anabolic hormones that strengthen the whole body.

There is just no other exercise in existence that will enable you to train and develop your lower body as effectively and efficiently as squats will. Because multiple muscles are activated, you can achieve progressive overload at a fast pace and this is the most important factor in terms of adding muscle size. This is particularly true if you are a beginner as it will allow you to add more weight every single week before reaching any form of strength plateau.

Get impressive definition in the butt and thighs

As aforementioned, squats target the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Squats deliver a basic movement that quickly builds lean muscle, which results in well-toned limbs. Moreover, it is a great fix for a flat butt. Bear in mind that your bottom is composed of muscles (the gluteals) and you need to add resistance to make them grow, pretty much the same way you would with any other muscle.

Improve mobility and flexibility

Full range of motion squats not only build different muscle groups in the lower body, they also improve mobility and flexibility by increasing the range of motion of your hips, knees, ankles, and even the lower back. This improvement will carry over to other types of exercises and day-to-day activities, thereby improving overall performance. In addition, squats are a safe and effective way to improve mobility without putting excessive stress on joints.

Strengthen and tone the core

Squatting everyday challenges the muscles of your core to work extra hard to stabilize the body and support the lower back throughout the whole range of motion. The transversus and rectus abdominis are engaged the whole time, resulting in a flatter and stronger stomach. The improvement in overall core strength will carry over to improved strength and enhanced performance on other compound exercises. It will protect your lower back from injury and stimulate growth in your abs and obliques.

Improve Posture

Squats are typically considered a leg exercise, but they also engage many other muscle groups, including those in your abdominal area, upper and lower back. Note that whether you are doing weighted or body weight squats, you will be activating the trapezius and rhomboids to help in stabilizing the body throughout the movement. This will strengthen the muscles responsible for maintaining proper posture.

The top squat variations that can help deliver strength and power to your game in no time:

Front Squat. You can do this by holding the weight (barbell / dumbbell) in front of your shoulders, then squatting. It is very effective in strengthening the lower back and tends to be easier on the knees if you keep your butt out as you squat.

Back Squat. If you’re trying this for the first time, it is recommended to start off and practice without any weight. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can progress to using a barbell.  This will give you an excellent mechanical advantage, making the back squat a good option for working your quadriceps, glutes, abs and lower back.

Lateral Squat. This involves a side-to-side squatting motion and is superb for improving hip mobility and dynamic flexibility of the inner thigh muscles (adductors). Stand with the feet about four feet apart and then sit to one side. Keep the weight on the heel and keep your knee over your toe.

Goblet Squat. This is an excellent exercise if you’re learning how to squat. It is a compound exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and shoulders. Just hold a weight (dumbbell or kettlebal) close to your chest as you squat. This should be performed with a sturdy base and sound fundamentals.

Split Squat. This is the best variation if you wish to improve balance and isolated leg strength. To perform it, assume a staggered stance with one foot in front and the other behind (on a bench or a step) then squat by flexing your knee and hip to lower your body.

Drop squat. This is good for teaching athletes how to land properly after a jump. It can also be an excellent cardiovascular workout if you perform a series of drop squats in quick succession. To do it, assume the squat position while simultaneously pushing your arms out in front of your body, then stand quickly and repeat the movement.

Hack squat. To do this, hold a barbell against the back of your thighs. Keep your head and back straight, then squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground and continue until the barbell touches the floor before standing again. It may be an awkward movement but it puts little stress on your lower back, while strengthening the quadriceps.

Single-leg Squat. This one is tough to learn, but is great for improving balance, side-to-side stability and training your legs how to produce force in an isolated position. See to it that your back and knees are in proper alignment. You may put a hand out and touch a wall for balance as you practice this variation.

Ultimately, the squat is a fundamental movement pattern, and you must include some variations of it in your daily exercise routine. You can start with body-weight squats, then progress to the other variations discussed above. Do them properly and you are guaranteed results that will put a smile on your face!

6 Reasons to Add Jumping Jacks to Your Workout

Jumping jacks have been around since time immemorial. This form of calisthenic exercise certainly goes a long way back and you likely learned it in elementary school. It is a fundamental exercise that most people can perform and it can be modified to suit any fitness level. For a beginner, the jump can be eliminated, while for the more advanced athlete, a squat can be added along with increasing the height of the jump.

If you really think about it, jumping jacks are essentially a full body exercise that incorporates many of the characteristics of the multitasking philosophy that most people embrace nowadays. Jumping jacks get the entire body moving and it can be done as a warm-up exercise to get the muscles ready, or it can also be part of a full-body workout like high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

So without further ado, here are the reasons why you must take up jumping jacks and see the difference it can make to your workout:

Cardiovascular Benefits

Jumping jacks help reduce the risks associated with heart disease. In the United States alone, up to 250,000 heart-related fatalities are documented annually. Hence, making cardio exercises like jumping jacks an integral part of your daily fitness routine is a no brainer. In particular, it is most beneficial in the following ways:

  • It is capable of raising heart rate and blood circulation due to repetition of the exercise.
  • Improved blood circulation leads to weight loss and strengthening of the cardiovascular system.
  • As you breathe more and get more oxygen sent to your lungs, your heart will become stronger, more efficient, and therefore lessens your chance of developing lifestyle illnesses.
  • Your cardiovascular system is strengthened as more oxygen is pulled into the bloodstream. In addition, your cholesterol levels are kept in check.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) can also be prevented by decreasing the fat deposits in the walls of blood vessels.

Strengthening Benefits

Jumping jacks make all large muscle groups move, so it offers an excellent full-body workout. Just make sure you breathe deeply so you engage your core and target your abs as well. You may also modify how you perform the exercise so it becomes an intense activity that builds muscle.

If you do deep squat when returning to the standing position, you can target your abs, glutes, thigh and calf muscles. Do it at a fast pace so you can maintain the aerobic benefits of the workout.

Relaxation Benefits

One of the major benefits of exercising is the production of endorphins. When you do jumping jacks for an extended period of time, it triggers a chemical effect and your body will release endorphins, which are chemicals that relieve pain, provide a sense of relief, and help in promoting wellness by enabling you to regain lost energy. Accompany your exercise with deep breathing to help you free your thoughts so your mind becomes clearer and sharper. In order to maximize the relaxation benefits of doing jumping jacks, try to sustain an elevated heart rate for at least 20 minutes. If you can’t do jumping jacks for that duration, then alternate between jumping jacks and marching in place.

Burning Calories and Reducing Body Weight

One of the best benefits of jumping jacks is burning off calories that help lower body weight and protect against obesity. As aforementioned, jumping jacks can increase heart rate which infuses more oxygen to the bloodstream and to the muscles. When blood flow is increased, you’re more likely to burn off calories that will enable you to shed off those extra pounds. Your body actually gets warmed up after only about 10 to 15 repetitions, so the more jumping jacks you do, the more calories you burn off. If you include this simple exercise to a high-intensity interval circuit training, you’ll reap even more benefits. By simply increasing the intensity, you get rid of unwanted fat and replace it with muscle. According to a Livestrong article, a 150-pound person will burn approximately 276 calories for half an hour of intense and vigorous jumping jacks.

Conditioning and Endurance

Jumping jacks are always at the top of the list when it comes to exercises used to improve conditioning and increase endurance. This is precisely the reason why athletes and military personnel use this exercise as part of their regular training. By strengthening and tightening your muscles, you will be able to handle all types of physical challenges for longer periods of time. If you are just starting to exercise, you’ll notice feeling tired quickly, but with time and dedication, you can develop your endurance and stamina. This is important to your health because it improves muscle function and can therefore help with everyday activities.

Making Bones Stronger

Over the years, there have been lots of controversies about what form of exercise really strengthens bones. One way to achieve this is through weightlifting, but some experts suggest that quick jumping bursts can have the same effect. This means jumping jacks may be the ideal exercise for stronger bones and minimizing the risk of osteoporosis. What occurs is that the bones bend a bit with each jumping motion, inducing new cell development, thereby offering more support for the bones and strengthening them. The good news is that you don’t need to do a lot – just a little explosive activity can be enough to help in developing stronger and sturdier bones.

Conclusion

If you haven’t started doing jumping jacks, you can stop reading this article and make it a part of your workout regimen today! It is way too good of an exercise to pass up on for a variety of reasons. The benefits are virtually endless and it will make you a stronger, healthier, and happier individual.

3 Bizarre Splits To Help You Break Your Plateau

How many of your weekly training splits look like this? Monday is chest (of course), Tuesday is back, Wednesday is legs or shoulders, Thursday is whatever you didn’t do on Wednesday, and Friday is arms. Oh, and somewhere in there you throw in abs.

If your splits are this predictable, chances are your muscles have figured them out, too—which is why you’re not seeing the results you want.

If you want to kick-start new muscle growth and start seeing serious results, you need to change things up and not be afraid to break away from tradition. Shock your system with these unique and unusual splits—and get on the path to better progress and bigger results.

Bizarre Split 1: Pair Upper with Lower

Some athletes pair up two muscle groups a day—which can be easier on a training schedule—but they usually only pair up groups that are close together, like chest and triceps or back and biceps. Splits are an opportunity to focus on specific muscle groups, so why not train a lower body muscle group along with an upper body?

3 Bizarre Splits To Help You Break Your Plateau

Your back is already prepared to work after deadlifts, so why not train back and hamstrings together so you can work the entire posterior chain? Quads are a big muscle group that take a lot of energy to train, so pair them with a smaller area like shoulders. Since you’re already fatigued, you can give your lower body a break and isolate the delts.

Give this weekly routine a try for a month and see if you notice the results. If anything, you’ll challenge your muscles to work together in different ways and earn a total-body pump in every workout!

  • Day 1: Quads and Shoulders
  • Day 2: Calves and Arms
  • Day 3: Off
  • Day 4: Back and Hamstrings
  • Day 5: Chest and Abs
  • Day 6: Off
  • Day 7: Off

Bizarre Split 2: Isolate the Lower-Body Groups

If you consider your lower body your weakness, pay attention. What do we do if we think an upper body group is lacking? We split up every muscle group and devote a special workout to it early in the split.

3 Bizarre Splits To Help You Break Your Plateau

Why not treat your legs the same way? If your legs are your weak area, break them up into three focused workouts and pair up all the upper-body groups on the other days.

Here’s what that split would look like:

  • Day 1: Quads
  • Day 2: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
  • Day 3: Hamstrings, Glutes
  • Day 4: Off
  • Day 5: Back, Biceps
  • Day 6: Calves, Abs
  • Day 7: Off

Bizarre Split 3: All About Abs

It’s true that abs are made in the kitchen, but you need to show them some love in the gym, too. Have you ever considered breaking your abs down into sub-groups like upper, lower, and obliques? This would help you commit more time to training this crucial area without spending a lot more time in the gym.

3 Bizarre Splits To Help You Break Your Plateau

Analyze your core and decide what needs the most work—your lower abs, for example. Train that area first in the week. Two days later, train another area, and before your off day, train the final area.

Here’s what that split might look like for you:

  • Day 1: Lower Abs and Back
  • Day 2: Shoulders
  • Day 3: Legs and Upper Abs
  • Day 4: Chest
  • Day 5: Obliques and Arms
  • Days 6: Off
  • Day 7: Off

Naturopaths: Scam Artists or Miracle Workers?

naturopathy

Naturopathy is centered on natural medicine that helps to assist the body in its natural state for better functioning and healing. It is said to be a pseudo-scientific approach to healing and health maintenance. It is a strong profession reemerging, as we all strive for better, natural and healthier lifestyles. But what can the assistance of a naturopath really do for you?

What you can expect when you first see a naturopath doctor is that both naturopaths and doctors have a lot in common. They both have attended accredited schools, gone through much of the same coursework and have a general interest in helping others achieve better health. Your visit will likely range from 60 to 90 minutes, you will be asked what the desired outcome for yourself is. You will be asked about your diet, sleep patterns, and health conditions. They will then develop a natural treatment plan for you that includes natural remedies and other lifestyle changes to help you meet your goals. Yet, visiting a naturopath is not the same as visiting a regular doctor. As we mentioned, they focus a lot on lifestyle and sleep changes to help with your current state for better health and healing.

According to Gaia.com, they can help you establish the foundations for health. One of the biggest challenges we face when we take on a natural healthier lifestyle is the foods we eat. The type of foods we eat can really dictate how our body works. If you want to lose weight a naturopath can help, but if you have some sort of disease like celiac, IBS or anything else that is aggregated by food, a naturopath can help.

Although it sounds a lot like that of a nutritionist, the services you will receive from a naturopath are far different. They will get to the core of what outcome you want to achieve while evaluating in great detail the food that may be creating havoc on your body. Most importantly, if you just want to be healthy, a naturopath can certainly help guide a person that is unsure of the proper foods to eat to help maintain a healthier lifestyle and body weight.

Secondly, the site notes that the help of a naturopath can help a person treat an ailment that they didn’t even really know was initially an ailment to begin with. People experience headaches all of the time, but for some those become chronic. The help of a naturopath can help you get to the natural, root cause of what is causing the problem without having to experiment with potential harmful prescription medication that you would receive from a regular doctor. If you suffer from lack of energy, or you tend to bloat more often times than not, again, a naturopath can detail your lifestyle down to a “T” to further get to the root cause of what is ailing you.

Third, the site notes that the help of a naturopath can naturally help you with disease maintenance. If you suffer from disease and found that the medications prescribed have too many side effects, the help of a naturopath can certainly help you maintain your disease tenfold with natural ingredients and herbal supplements that will react with your body’s natural state much better while helping you maintain your condition. They do this by aiming for the cause of the disease and starting treatment from there to minimize symptoms.

Another reason a naturopath may be beneficial for you personally would be that they can offer a valued second opinion. Sure, so you have seen a doctor already, they have diagnosed you with something and now have written a prescription for something to help treat it. But do you really need it? Doctors do a great job at diagnosing and writing prescriptions, but do they really do a good job at answering our questions as to how it happened or why we suffer from it? A naturopath can do just that. Not only can they answer all of your questions, but they have the ability to look at your case objectively to identify whether or not the medication that was initially prescribed is truly needed and necessary. Again, just the simple detailing of a day in your life can actually give many answers and clues as to why you are experiencing the things you are experiencing. More often than not, we get sick and suffer from things because our bodies become unbalanced. The truth is, there are naturally occurring chemicals that are found in our bodies that we may be lacking, and we can often get from over the counter to improve our body’s chemical balance to maintain health issues. That’s where a naturopath can do wonders. So, if you are ever wanting a second opinion about treatment options or an illness you are experiencing, a naturopath can certainly help.

If you already live a healthy lifestyle and already take supplements as it is, another benefit from seeking the help is a naturopath would be that you can alter your regimen to your own specific needs. It never hurts to have a trained professional in on the game. Seeking the help of a professional in the daily supplements you buy and consume already from a natural health food store can help you tailor and personalize what you should and shouldn’t be taking to further help your body balance out for optimum health.

Lastly, the site notes that probably the most exciting part of seeing a naturopath if you really want to do things naturally is that they can act as your primary care physician. They go through the same biological science coursework and other coursework that doctors do before submitting themselves to a naturopath college. They can perform physical exams, diagnostics and lab testing, they can assess cases to make judgments or rulings on illnesses and disease by interpreting lab tests and results, and they can execute treatment plans and do all of the things that a normal doctor would do. The only difference is, it’s all natural.

As you can see, there are several benefits from seeking the help of a naturopath. It is a telethon profession as we mentioned before, and although we understand that people still have reservations because of horror stories once told over the internet about negligent providers, you shouldn’t let that scare you away from seeing one. It’s always good to have a regular doctor and a naturopath on your health care team to really get down to the bottom of why your body is reacting and is as symptomatic. It is also helpful to further decide what the best treatment options and courses of action are for your own personal needs.

AHCC Benefits – Cancer, HPV, and More

AHCC

Active Hexose Correlated Compound is a mushroom extract used in traditional Eastern Medicine. Though the mushrooms were used for centuries as antioxidants, the derivative was really only “discovered” a few decades ago in Japan. The shiitake mushroom from which AHCC is derived, is thought to be an organism with origins over one hundred million years old. The Chinese began cultivating it around the year 1400, although it grew wildly throughout the region for centuries prior. The mushroom was traditionally used to prolong life and boost the immune system.

In 1987, AHCC was developed from the shiitake mushroom as a treatment for high blood pressure. Surprisingly, however, it soon became known for its immune boosting effects and was used against infections, viruses and even autoimmune issues such as cancers and AIDS. It has since also been used to combat diabetes and hepatitis, while still being effective for many with high blood pressure. After researching the effects on rats, it was also used to fight the negative side effects from chemotherapy and other anticancer drugs, including methotrexate which is used for many autoimmune diseases. AHCC helped patients cope with nausea, improved bone marrow suppression and protected against kidney and liver damage.

What it Does

Active Hexose Correlated Compound is a supplement most known for its cancer-fighting effects. Used primarily in areas of Asia, particularly Japan, this therapy has been thought to increase the cells in the body that naturally kill cancer, natural killer cells and cytokines. Not only is it thought to kill cancer cells, but it is also thought to decrease the side effects of chemotherapy. Some patients find success in preventing nausea and other gastrointestinal side effects with AHCC. In Japan, AHCC is the second most popular alternative medicine among those with cancer.

In addition to its benefits for cancer patients, AHCC is also used as an overall immune system booster. Put simply, the immune system support provided to cancer patients is also found to be helpful at preventing influenza and strengthening the immune system in general.

Scientific Studies

The AHCC Research Association has done multiple studies on AHCC and its various effects. In 2008, the Association published findings of a retroactive study that compared survival rates in the American Society of Clinical Oncology data and found that survival rates increased for stage IV lung cancer. The one-year survival rate was up to 77.1%, two-year survival up to 54.3% and up to 31.4% in year three. This confirmed what researchers expected, an increased survival rate when taking AHCC.

One of the more fascinating studies, published in the International Journal of Medicine in 2011, found that all patients surveyed had no added symptoms when taking AHCC, and 20 of the patients reported feeling better than they did upon starting chemotherapy. In addition, only 25% of those requiring blood transfusions continued to need them after AHCC treatment, and tumors even regressed in 11 patients. Twenty-two of those who continued chemotherapy also noticed decreased side effects.

In the International Journal of Integrative Oncology, however, a study was published that surveyed patients with breast cancer. Researchers used the data from the national breast cancer patient registration and found no significant difference among those who used AHCC and those who did not. The study could be viewed as less significant than others, however, as comparisons could not be made due to the recurrence of cancer in some data sets.

Suggested Usage

AHCC is usually seen as a capsule, with various dosage. The recommended daily dosage is up to 3 grams. For better tolerance, it is suggested to split this into three doses, taking a gram 3 times daily. While AHCC is also available in a liquid form, many report having more side effects when consuming liquid AHCC. Drugs.com reports that phase I trials showed minimal adverse effects in those consuming 9 grams daily, so accidental overdose seems unlikely when daily recommendations are followed.