Mix Fitness's Blog

Sit-Ups vs. Crunches

Posted in Uncategorized by mixfitness on June 29, 2009
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When I personal train or teach a group fitness class, I tell my clients that we are going to do crunches.  But sometimes, my clients perform sit-ups instead.  Today’s blog is to provide an explanation of the difference between a sit-up and a crunch.

Even though nowadays the crunch and sit-up are different exercises, the sit-up is the original.  Over time, and with research, the crunch evolved from the sit-up.  Let’s start with the original.  To perform a sit-up, you start by laying on your back and placing your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent.  Then, you lift your head and shoulders, middle back, and low back off the ground coming to a seated position where you are mostly balanced on your tailbone.  It’s common, but unnecessary, to have someone hold your feet down while doing sit-ups.  Ideally, you’re strong enough that you don’t need a buddy.  In fact, if you’ve taken a Pilates class, you may have done the Pilates version of a sit-up, called the roll-up.  There’s nobody there to hold your feet – it’s all about using your core!

Now on to the crunch.  The crunch starts the same way by laying on your back, feet grounded, knees bent.  The difference is the amount of movement.  During the crunch, you lift your head and shoulder blades off the ground, then lower.  Your mid and lower back stays on the floor the entire time.  Your hands can be placed behind your head or crossed over your chest.

Both the sit-up and the crunch work your abdominals; specifically, the muscle – that when well-trained – gives you a 6-pack.  However, the sit-up also works the muscles that flex your hip joint.  The sit-up works your abs until you lift your lower back off the floor.  Once your back leaves the ground, you are using your hip flexors to finish the exercise.  There’s nothing wrong with this…it’s just something to be aware of.

So, if you want to work out your abs, the crunch is a very effective exercise.  If you want to train your abs and hip flexors, the sit-up is great.  Either way, your abs will thank you!


Dumbbells vs. Bands

Posted in Uncategorized by mixfitness on June 22, 2009
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Just yesterday, I had a conversation with my mom about the difference between resistance training with bands and hand-held weights.  For whatever reason, my mom finds the bands more fun than dumbbells.  So, today’s blog was inspired by our conversation.

Resistance training is a method of muscular conditioning that involves progressive use of resistance.  It helps both your muscles and bones get stronger.  And, is a very important part of any workout routine.  The form of resistance can be a variety of items including:  dumbbells, bands, medicine balls, weighted bars, kettlebells, and body weight.  It’s great to use a variety of equipment to keep your workouts interesting and keep your muscles guessing.

Dumbbells come in many shapes and colors, but at the end of the day, are hand-held.  They provide you with the same amount of resistance throughout the exercise.  Meaning, if you lift a 5-pound dumbbell, it weighs 5 pounds at the beginning and the end of the motion.  You may be thinking, duh!  But, hold on.  Bands, too, come in lots of colors and are elastic.  The key difference between bands and dumbbells is the band’s elastic property.  And, this is what I explained to my mom.  Bands have a variable amount of resistance throughout the exercise.  The more the band stretches, the harder the exercise becomes.  Let’s use the bicep curl as an example.  To perform this exercise standing, you anchor one end of the band under your right foot and hold the opposite end in your right hand.  As you begin the curl, the band provides moderate resistance.  As you lift higher, the band provides heavier resistance.  There’s nothing wrong with that!   It’s just something to be aware of.

Bands are great to bring with you on travel since they easily fit into a suitcase without adding weight.  When using the bands, make sure that you anchor one end of the band under your foot or tie it to a doorknob or table.  Just like when using dumbells, at some point, you will need to increase to a thicker band in order to stimulate results.  So, if you’re like my mom – and prefer the bands – use them.  But, remember that variety is the spice of life.  Try all the fitness toys available to you!

The Truth About Losing Weight

Posted in Uncategorized by mixfitness on June 18, 2009
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I went to a photographer this morning who, upon hearing I was a personal trainer, asked me how to lose “this.”  When she said “this,”  she patted her belly.  If I had a dime for every time I’ve gotten that question, I’d be rich!  My answer was simple:  diet and exercise.  She then said, “I don’t want to hear that.”  Why not?  Because it’s the truth, because it takes hard work and dedication.  There is no magical pill – despite the claims – that will cause permanent weight loss.

What does taking a diet pill teach you?  Nothing – it’s a quick fix.  Not to mention the potential side effects.  I know, we live in a society of instant gratification.  But, you learn nothing about how to eat healthier, how to cut calories, how to make smart choices when you’re at the grocery store, etc.  Take a close look at the fine print on those boxes and bottles.  They all say to incorporate diet and exercise in your daily routine.  So does the microscopic text at the bottom of the screen during commercials.  If you’re taking a pill and finding success, consider that the pill might be working because you’re exercising more and/or eating less.

That’s what it really boils down to: moving more and eating less.  Math fans get ready!  The weight loss equation is this: calories in < calories out.  In other words, you must burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight.  So, take your dog for an extra 10 minutes on your next walk.  Or, go on a bike ride with your kids.  Stop by the gym before you get home.  Simply, just move!  Your body will respond.

Here are some suggestions for what you can do with the money you’ll save instead of buying diet pills:

  • join a gym
  • hire a personal trainer
  • take a golf or tennis lesson
  • buy a workout DVD

Additionally, exercise can remove other pills from your life.  Among many benefits, it naturally lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.  Bye, bye Crestor!  So, don’t fall for the hype.  Weight loss takes work.  What are you waiting for?  Get up and move!

Questions or Comments?  Let me know.

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