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Favorite Upper Body Workouts

Favorite Upper Body Workouts

When creating upper-body workouts, you need to include certain exercises. These work several muscles at once or work the muscles on several planes. These don’t require special equipment, and can be done at home or in the gym. Sometimes, life gets in the way, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t make it to the gym. Sometimes, traveling can keep you from the gym, but that shouldn’t stop you from working out and staying on track.

Start with planks.

You’ll build your upper body strength and core strength with planks. It’s a full-body workout. Planks are versatile and can be modified for people of all fitness levels. A tabletop version is easier, and an arm lift plank is more difficult. The key to getting the most benefit from a plank is form. Start face down with forearms and toes on the floor, with elbows under the shoulders. Keep your torso straight, shoulders down, and spine in a neutral position. Hold the position for as long as you can and release. Don’t arch your back, let your hips sag, or tilt your head upward.

Chair dips require a bench, sturdy chair, or a coffee table.

Chair dips can be done anywhere, even at work. Just make sure the chair is stable and not on rollers. They work the triceps and can help prevent batwings by toning the back of the upper arms. They also work the pecs, trapezius, and serratus anterior. Sit on a chair, a bench, or a coffee table with feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor. Your hands should be next to your hips with palms down, gripping the edge of the chair. With your knees slightly bent, move your bottom forward and off the edge of the chair. Lower yourself down, making a 90-degree angle at the elbow as you slowly breathe in. Breathe out as you raise yourself back to starting position.

Burpees are the toughest workout of all.

Everyone can do a burpee, even beginners. The difference between beginners and those extremely fit is the number of burpees that can be done. Burpees work the entire body, including the upper body. They work the glutes, quads, core muscles, calves, shoulders, chest, and triceps. They also provide a great cardio workout. Burpees start in squat position with feet shoulder-width. Put your hands down and move to a high plank position. Lower, then raise your body, doing a push-up, jump your feet forward, stand up, then move back to the squat position for the second burpee.

  • Push-ups are a good exercise to build shoulders, triceps, abs, chest muscles, and the serratus anterior. You can modify it to make it easier or work a specific muscle more. Holding hands closer together works the triceps.
  • Create a circuit of 5-12 reps for five exercises. Do each one after another without rest, then rest at the end of the circuit. You can use push-ups, planks, inchworms, tricep dips, a superman hold, burpees, or your favorite upper body exercise.
  • Do shoulder circles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width, arms extended. Make large circles going forward with your arms outstretched. Switch and make reverse circles.
  • No matter which exercises you choose, your form is the most important part of each exercise. Before pushing to do more or advancing to a more difficult style, make sure your form is perfect.

For more information, contact us today at Team-ISC


How To Stay Hydrated

How To Stay Hydrated

In Sacramento, CA, no matter what time of the year it is, it’s hard to stay hydrated. During hot weather, you sweat, but since it’s dry heat, it evaporates quickly. You don’t notice how much you’re sweating and can dehydrate quickly. In the winter, it’s harder to remember to drink water, particularly since you’re cold and it’s so rainy outside. Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Luckily, it’s also one of the easiest things to do.

Your body is mostly water.

The percentage of water in your body varies from individual to individual. Older people have less fluid, which makes it harder to stay hydrated as you age. Dehydration can affect all parts of the body. It can make you tired, interfere with temperature regulation, make joints ache, and may cause mental confusion, which can be mistaken for dementia in seniors. Carrying a bottle of water with you and sipping on it frequently through the morning, then replenishing it at mid-morning, noon, mid-afternoon, and evening, ensures you’re getting adequate water.

Remember to drink a glass of water before every meal.

You’ll be doing yourself a big favor by drinking water a half-hour before a meal. Not only will you stay hydrated, but you’ll also improve your potential to lose weight. One study showed that people who drank a glass of water a few minutes before eating consumed less food and lost approximately 40% more weight than the control group who didn’t. If you make the glass of water icy cold, you’ll also burn a few extra calories. The icy water cools down your insides and the body has to warm it again, which causes the extra calories to burn.

Switch out sugary drinks or coffee with water.

If you normally have a soft drink during the day, make it water instead. Some people don’t like water and if you’re one of those people, there’s still hydration hope. Try infused water. Infused water is water that’s had slices of fruit, herbs, or vegetables in it, which are then removed. What’s left is water with the flavor of the fruit, herb, or vegetable. It’s almost devoid of calories and can be a real taste treat that’s hydrating and thirst-quenching.

  • Set the alarm on your smartphone to ring every 30 minutes as a reminder to drink more water. If you’re busy or just tend to forget, it’s a good reminder. You won’t have to worry about dehydration since you’ll drink more if you’re thirsty.
  • You can increase your water intake with food. While drinking water plays an important role in hydration, so does the food you eat. Eating fruits and veggies high in water content can help. Watermelon, for instance, is 91% water and celery is 95% water.
  • Avoid a hangover by drinking water. The headache and fatigue of a hangover are often due to dehydration. Drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages, before you go to bed, or first thing in the morning to avoid the problem.
  • Make it a habit to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Some people prefer a cold glass of water to get them going, but others prefer cool, to avoid shocking their system.

For more information, contact us today at Team-ISC


The Importance Of A Food Journal

The Importance Of A Food Journal

People who have a problem losing weight have found that using a food journal is helpful. While meal plans and healthy recipes from our nutrition team provide an excellent benefit, a food journal can be the first step to identifying habits that are sabotaging your efforts. Meal plans can help you as you learn ways to make meals and snacks healthier and lower in calories and a food journal can be another clue why other attempts to lose weight have failed.

You may think you barely eat, but once you write down each morsel, you’ll be surprised.

When you keep a food journal, you track everything you eat, including how much you ate. If you’re consuming an item that’s still in its original package, reading the nutritional information can tell you not only the serving size but the number of calories for each serving. You don’t walk around with a scale to weigh everything or measuring cups, so you have to find other ways to measure items that aren’t in a package, like a slice of cake. There are simple ways to measure, like using the size of a deck of cards for meat or the size of dice for cheese. Since serving size is extremely important, you need to include it.

Don’t forget to include condiments and drinks.

List everything you eat or drink, even water. Water doesn’t have calories, but since most people don’t drink enough, recording it can identify if you do. Listing condiments can be important, particularly on items you make at home, where there’s a potential to slather mayonnaise, ketchup and other higher-calorie condiments on your sandwich. Tracking what you drink can make a huge difference. If you have three colas a day, it’s an extra 300 calories. It takes 3500 calories to gain a pound. At 300 extra calories a day, it would only take 12 days to put on a pound.

Food journals can help identify the cause of health issues.

If you’re chronically bloated or feel ill after meals, consider the potential for a food intolerance or allergy. Food journaling can help you solve that mystery, too. By listing not only the food you consume, but also whether you have an “episode” of feeling bad, you can narrow down the culprit to a specific food or find there’s no identifiable pattern, so food is not the cause. Keeping a food journal should be your first step to finding the reason for the mystery illness. If you have a doctor’s appointment, take the journal with you.

  • Studies found that when people wrote down the food they ate, they tended to eat less. One reason is that it made them more aware of food mindlessly eaten, like that last spoonful of potatoes in the serving bowl.
  • Knowing what you eat and how much can also help you improve your diet. You may notice patterns of high carb processed foods, foods with added sugar or lack of vegetables and fiber, and work on correcting those issues.
  • Some people hate the idea of carrying around a journal. The good news is that you don’t have to do that. You can track your food intake on a notepad in your phone or make audio or video recordings.
  • Are you an emotional eater and you stuff your feelings down with food? Food journals can help you identify that. Just record your mood or circumstances when you’re eating.

For more information, contact us today at Team-ISC


Workouts That Help With Endurance

Workouts That Help With Endurance

The workouts at ISC in Sacramento, CA, include ones for strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance. The types of endurance workouts most people immediately think of are cardiovascular endurance workouts. Those increase the ability of the lungs and heart to provide oxygen for the body. There is another type of endurance. It’s muscular endurance, that’s the ability to work the muscles for long periods without tiring them. Both types of endurance workouts are important. Some exercises focus on cardio endurance, while others focus on muscular endurance. There is a group of exercises that focus on both.

Walking can boost your cardiovascular endurance.

Exercises that increase your heart rate for a longer period, such as running, walking, swimming, and cycling, can train your body to increase the intake of oxygen. They boost the performance of the heart and lungs, improve circulation and even build strength in the muscles you use. Cardiovascular endurance training can help lower blood pressure, while increasing heart health and reducing the potential for heart disease. Continuously modifying the intensity of the activity from high intensity to a recovery pace is called high intensity interval training—HIIT—and can get faster results than steady-state workouts.

Muscular endurance allows you to contract muscles against resistance longer.

You’ll be able to do more repetitions of each strength-building exercise when you build muscle endurance. Squats and push-ups use the pull of gravity and the weight of the body as resistance. As you build muscle endurance, you can do more repetitions and, in most cases, adjust your body position to make the exercise more difficult. A bent knee push-up is easier to do than a regular push-up. As a person develops more muscular endurance, they can do more bent knee push-ups and ultimately switch to the traditional push-up that’s harder.

Many workouts build both muscle and cardiovascular endurance.

You can turn your strength-building workout into a workout that builds both muscular and cardiovascular endurance by making it a circuit training session, where you move quickly from one strength =-building exercise to another with little rest between each one. You can time circuits and challenge yourself to cut the time for each round of exercises. Making your workout a HIIT session, where you modify the intensity and speed, is another way to combine the two. Doing kettlebell workouts also builds both types of endurance.

  • You can add speed to your resistance exercises or weights to your cardio workouts to build both cardio and muscle endurance. Arm and leg weights can test muscular endurance and so can carrying dumbbells and swinging your arms vigorously as you walk or run.
  • Including explosive movements in your strength-building workouts can boost both cardio and muscle endurance. Frog squat jumps, squat thrusts, burpees and tuck jumps are a few examples.
  • Building cardiovascular endurance requires strengthening of the respiratory muscles, such as the diaphragm. Improved respiratory muscle function allows deeper breaths and increased oxygen intake.
  • Running is often used to build endurance and can help muscles improve their performance when doing other tasks. It increases PAP—post-activation potential—which increases how long you can perform exercises for endurance.

For more information, contact us today at Team-ISC


Healthy Meals For Any Time Of Day

Healthy Meals For Any Time Of Day

Are you trying to lose weight, gain muscle or just become fitter? It doesn’t require a special diet, but it does mean you have to eat healthy meals and snacks. Diets don’t work because they’re too restrictive and you can’t stay on them forever. At Team ISC in Sacramento, we help you use foods that are easy to find and good for you and ways to include them in your daily meals. It’s all about making smarter decisions when choosing food, not starving yourself.

You can eat pitas filled with spinach and feta scrambled eggs any time of day.

Whether you’re eating a sit-down or on-the-go breakfast or lunch or want a filling supper, the spinach and feta scrambled egg pitas will do the trick. Thaw, drain, and squeeze dry frozen spinach. Add a pinch of salt and heat until it’s steamy and then add 8 beaten eggs. Cook until the eggs are soft curds and add 1/4 cup crumbled feta, sprinkling pepper to suit your taste. Once the eggs have become firm, scoop it into a whole wheat pita that’s cut in half. Before adding the eggs, you can spread tomato pesto inside the pita, sliced tomatoes or lettuce.

Build a burrito from the fridge.

Burritos aren’t necessarily healthy. It’s all about what you put in them and the type of burrito you use. If you want easy meals that you can adjust based on the time of day or your food preference, burritos are a go-to option. Chop up ingredients and keep them in airtight containers, ready to use. Chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers—red, green, spicy hot or bell, it’s your choice—-refried beans, chicken or eggs. Use healthier options for the wrap, such as whole grain, chickpea flour or cassava flour wraps. You can add eggs, chicken, thinly sliced lean flank steak, or go vegan with black beans. It’s a meal you can adjust to your taste and the time of day.

Salmon fits into any meal plan.

You can’t go wrong by adding salmon as your source of protein. It is loaded with nutrients and high in omega-3 fatty acids. You can even use canned salmon to speed up the preparation. Salmon stuffed avocados combine canned salmon with celery and parsley, then topped with a dressing of Greek yogurt, lime juice, mayo, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Before stuffing the halved avocados, scoop a tablespoon out of it, mash it and add it to the salmon mixture, then stuff the halves. Simple recipes for any meal can be salmon and eggs, or salmon and asparagus with a side salad.

  • Oatmeal may not seem like an “any meal” type of dish, but you can make this heart-healthy food for any meal. Try mixing in Parmesan cheese and topping with spinach and poached eggs for a quick lunch.
  • Keep essentials on hand and ready to use in combinations for any meal. Don’t limit any ingredient based on the time of day. Mushrooms, eggs, Greek yogurt, avocado, sweet potatoes, kale, kiwi and black beans are a few of those.
  • Don’t forget healthy snacks. While you want meals to be easy, you want snacks to be even easier. Have individual serving-size packs of nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables already cut and ready, dip, cheese and hard-boiled eggs ready to eat.
  • If you want more guidance, At Team ISC, we can help you learn the foods that are best to help you reach your goal or provide you with a meal plan that has recipes and even a shopping list.

For more information, contact us today at Team-ISC


Is Being Addicted To The Gym A Bad Thing?

Is Being Addicted To The Gym A Bad Thing?

Being addicted to the gym can be good or bad, depending on how you act on that addiction. If you love going and don’t miss a session, then it’s good. However, if you love going so much that you workout intensely for long hours every day, it might not be to your benefit. You can work out too much. What happens then? You actually lose ground, make exercising more exhausting and lose muscle mass in the process.

Doing too intense of strength-building workouts can deplete your body and muscle tissue.

One area of exercise that requires close attention to intensity is strength-building. When you workout, you cause microtears in the muscle tissue. As those tears heal, they build bigger and stronger muscles. However, it takes a couple of days for the healing process, which is why you should only do strength-building on the same muscle groups every 48 to 72 hours. Not only will your muscle tissue not heal, but those microtears also cause stress on your body. Stress can affect the proper functioning of the immune system.

Stress fractures can also occur when you do repetitive exercises.

Runners often face the problem of stress fractures, especially if they’re doing too much running, too soon. Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone. The repetitive pounding of the foot on the pavement puts them at high risk. Repeated jumping also can cause the same problem. Stress fractures are the most common in the foot and the lower leg, so if you’re into cardio, switch up to different types of workouts and include low-impact ones in the mix.

True exercise addiction is real.

If you go to the gym and ignore other important areas of your life, focus all your energy and thoughts on getting ready for, going, or recovering from exercise, and are unable to limit your time at the gym, you may be suffering from exercise addiction. Like any addiction, it can take over your life to the point where you don’t feel like you have control. Exercise releases neurotransmitters that make you feel good. They’re the same as drug addiction. If you feel like you have to workout, it may be the desire to trigger that reaction.

  • Identify whether you simply love your day at the gym or have a real addiction. The number of days you go, the amount of time you spend and your intensity level will tell a lot.
  • Skip working out for a short time if you feel you have an exercise addiction until you can take control again. When you go back, limit the number of days and time you spend.
  • Studies show that people with other types of addictions, such as tobacco, alcohol or drugs, and people with anorexia, bulimia, or body image disorder can lead to exercise addiction.
  • Signs that you’re working out too much include exhaustion, anxiety, depression, frequent illness, difficulty falling asleep, and a dramatic increase in resting heart rate.

For more information, contact us today at Team-ISC


Why You Should Use Gloves When Lifting Weights?

Why You Should Use Gloves When Lifting Weights?

Part of building muscles is lifting something heavy. For most people, that means lifting weights. You see it in almost every gym in Sacramento, CA. Some of those people use gloves, while others use their bare hands and chalk up heavily. There are good reasons for either choice. Your hands get sweaty and gloves hold that moisture. They require frequent washing, so the fibers break down faster. Some people have a skin reaction to the moisture holding gloves, and they can make skin conditions already occurring worse.

There are also good reasons to wear gloves while lifting.

One of the main reasons to wear gloves is to protect the skin. If you lift weights regularly, it can cause blisters and over time, the build up of calluses. Gloves help protect the hands. It can prevent the small blisters that can occur when lifting weights and reduce the pressure on the hands that occurs when lifting. It puts the work back onto the chest and back muscles, as it increases the capacity for pressure on the hands.

You’ll have a better grip when you wear gloves.

Hands sweat and that sweaty grip means they can lose their grip. Whether you’re lifting barbells or dumbbells, the problem with losing grip can range from annoying to downright dangerous. You’ll have a more consistent strong grip without the need to constantly chalk up during your workout when you wear gloves. It makes the workout go smoother and keeps you safer in the process.

Gloves add hand support.

Just like a lifting belt adds more support to protect the back, gloves provide support around your wrist. That helps protect the hands and the wrist, improving your lifting movements. It keeps the hands stable and acts like having an extra tendon or ligament in the wrist might behave. Since it makes it more stable, it also means you can hold the lift longer, improving the strength of the grip and the strength movements.

  • Chalk is messy. It sticks to the hands, but the rest of your body is sweaty, too, so it gets a good dose of chalk. It also lingers in the air, making breathing more difficult.
  • Make sure your gloves have wrist straps if you want to be stronger. Wrist straps distribute weight not just to the fingers, but forearms as well. They let you lift more than bare hands alone would allow.
  • Be prepared to replace gloves frequently. Most will get worn away after a few months. Shop carefully for the quality you want and look for ones that are breathable, comfortable and supportive. Fit is also important.
  • Use different gloves for different purposes. Each type of glove provides a different level of support. Know your reason for buying the glove. Is it callus protection, padding, wrist support or just sweaty palms?

For more information, contact us today at Team-ISC


Is Your BMI Really A Good Measure Of Your Health?

Is Your BMI Really A Good Measure Of Your Health?

You’ve probably heard the term BMI at the doctor’s office or being discussed on health oriented shows. BMI is an acronym for body mass index. It uses the relationship between your height, gender and weight to draw a conclusion about how healthy you are or aren’t, based on whether you fall into a healthy category, extremely thin, overweight or obese. It’s a quick way to measure your health, but not always accurate. While doctors often use it, they get to see the patient and don’t rely strictly on the index. Insurance companies and others often use it and do rely heavily on it.

If you have a lot of muscle mass, you might be labeled overweight or even obese.

If you’re extremely muscular, such as a competitive body builder, you might be labeled as overweight or obese based on the BMI index. That can cause life and health insurance rates to increase, since the underwriters don’t have the option of meeting you in person. It often requires a picture to show your build. Why is the BMI so inaccurate in this case? The answer is simple. Muscle mass weighs more than fat does per cubic inch. So, if two people were the same height and weight, the one with more muscle mass would look thinner. Or, if two people wore the same size clothing and were the same height, but one had a higher ratio of muscle mass to fat, the muscular person would weigh more because of the extra muscle tissue.

Some people have a larger frame than others do.

You’ve probably heard the term, “big-boned.” While most people use it inaccurately, there are differences in bone structure. Some people have larger, denser bone structures. However, it only makes a difference of a few pounds, but those few pounds can push you from a healthy BMI category to one that’s overweight. It won’t add 20 to 30 pounds, so it doesn’t make much difference for most people.

It’s not the ultimate word on your overall health.

If you depend on the internet or the blood pressure machine at your local pharmacy to be your doctor, you need to switch physicians and go to a real health care professional. Identifying your state of health requires more than just your BMI number. Physicians use it as a quick way to alert them to look further into potential problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and other weight related problems.

  • If your BMI went from healthy to overweight or to extremely thin, it’s an alert to health care professionals that you may have an issue. It’s another way BMI usage can be beneficial.
  • One measure of health that’s more accurate than BMI is measuring waist circumference. People with a higher waist circumference, even though their BMI shows healthy, are more at risk for a serious condition.
  • RFM is almost as simple as BMI, and far more accurate. RFM is a ratio of height to waist measurement. It’s 64-(20x height/waist circumference) for men and for women it’s 76-(20x height/waist circumference).
  • In approximately 80% of the cases, BMI does identify weight issues. That still makes it a good tool for doctors, where they can see the patient and have access to other information.

For more information, contact us today at Team-ISC