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Swimming your way to a 6-Pack

Posted on | September 29, 2017 | No Comments

We’re giving it to you straight: You’re never going to swim like Michael Phelps. For starters, you’re probably not 6’4”—and in the water, length means speed. Then there’s your—by comparison—penguinlike wing span. Phelps’s span is 79 inches, and it propels him through the water like a nitro-fueled speedboat. And the 45 miles of practice he puts in a week? Great for him, but you have commitments.Now, the good news: All of this had less to do with Phelps’s eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics than one basic in-pool principle that anybody can learn: “The longer and more streamlined you can make your body, the faster you’ll go,” he says.

 Phelps and swimming guru Terry Laughlin, president of the New York-based swimming think tank Total Immersion (totalimmersion.net), helped us put together a step-by-step swimming workout guide to leaving your lanemates behind. If you’re a beginner, our plan will keep you from flailing about like you’re being attacked by piranhas. If you’re a pro, we’ll show you how to shave seconds without having to shave your knees.
We’re focusing on the freestyle stroke here, not only because it provides a killer cardio workout, but also because it works the most muscles overall—building core strength and carving your V. And it shreds calories. Blows them right out of the water, in fact. Phelps is as thin as an Olsen twin, yet he eats 8,000 calories a day. His average breakfast: two egg-and-cheese sandwiches, a bowl of grits, a western omelet, French toast, and a stack of chocolate-chip pancakes (“for dessert,” he says). Being 19 doesn’t hurt, of course, but if Phelps can keep his abs well groomed despite eating enough for four, you should be able to make sizable strides with just a modest amount of effort.Here’s our seven-step plan for leaving everyone in your wake.

Swim Tall
“Water is 1,000 times denser than air,” says Laughlin. “So the single most important factor is to slip your body through the smallest hole in the water.” Imagine a central axis extending from the top of your head to the opposite end of the pool. Rotate your body along this axis with each stroke, stretching your leading arm (the one reaching out front) as far forward as you can. Keep the muscles in your lower back and abs taut as you power through the water—doing so will keep the propulsion coming from both your arms and legs and stop your midsection from sagging like an old first-mate’s belly.

Drop an Anchor
Swimming with just your hands is like jumping with just your feet. Instead, grip the water with your entire forearm and hand, holding your forearm at a right angle to your upper arm and digging in like you’re gathering sand with a shovel. Keep your hands broad, flat, and firm. You’re not pushing your arm through the water as much as anchoring it and pulling your body over it.

Put Yourself on Heavy Rotation
Each stroke begins with your leading arm having entered the water, and that side of your body—the low side—pointing almost at the bottom of the pool. The other side of your body—the high side—should be raised, with the arm that just finished its stroke getting ready to return to the water. Power is triggered when you drive down the high side of your body, Laughlin says, throwing your high-side arm forward along the central axis into the leading position and forcefully rotating your hips and torso. Meanwhile, your low-side arm becomes the pulling arm underwater, working with your rotating torso to provide acceleration.

Keep Your Head Down
Freestylers used to hold their heads high. That forced the rest of the body to drop, turning it into a high-drag plow. “I look pretty much straight down at the bottom of the pool,” says Phelps. Not only does this technique cut drag, it keeps your torso high, reducing strain on your neck and lower back.

Find Your Glide Path
In the pool, fewer strokes is better. Your goal should be a high DPS—swim-speak for “distance per stroke.” Elite swimmers like Phelps can easily traverse a 25-yard pool in seven strokes (each hand entry counts as a stroke). Try to keep yours below 20 by conserving momentum. Pull yourself over your anchor and continue to glide forward with one arm forward and the other back. “You’ll travel farther and faster with your legs streamlined near your axis,” says Laughlin. When you begin to slow, start the next stroke.

Drag Your Feet
“If you’re a good kicker, you’re a good swimmer,” says Phelps. The secret is turning your feet into fins. Here again, leverage rules: Your legs should be taut, scissoring you through the water, while your feet remain flexible. This will help them snap at the downstroke of each kick, adding oomph and helping twist your torso along the central axis. If your feet don’t flex well, buy a set of kicking fins to add flexibility.

Don’t Waste Your Breath
Gasping for air every time your head nears the surface is a great way to drown. Instead, make each breath count. Emphatically exhale the air from your lungs (all of it, not just 90 percent) before snagging a quick, full breath on the high side. Beginning swimmers need to breathe after each stroke, but as your endurance improves, try breathing on alternate sides—that is, after three strokes. It’ll reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders that results from always breathing on the same side.

Swimming for Six Pack Ads

Posted on | September 28, 2017 | No Comments

Swimming helped Olympians such as Dara Torres, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps develop enviable defined abs — and you might wonder how you can use your time in the pool to achieve such a physique.

Although these swimmers cover dozens of miles in the water weekly, their dry-land training also contributes to a svelte six-pack abs. Combine intense swimming drills with core workouts to develop your own gold-medal body.

Six-Pack Moves in the Pool

Swimming can be a highly effective workout, but certain techniques ensure you’ll burn the calories and develop the musculature that gets you a sculpted core.

Pick the Right Strokes

A fast-paced butterfly sizzles the most calories, but a speedy freestyle or breast stroke also helps you feel the effort. Burn calories to help create a caloric deficit and rid yourself of extra fat that’s covering your midsection. Even if you do all the strengthening possible to build strong, segmented abs, you won’t see them if you’ve got a top layer of pudge.

Stay Long in the Water

Staying streamlined in the water helps you fight drag. Not only will you go farther and faster, but you’ll also employ your ab and back muscles with every stroke and kick.

Imagine yourself as one long line, keeping the muscles of your lumbar, or lower, spine and abs strong as you move through your swim. Contract all the muscles of your torso into the midline and rotate along that axis to give you power. When you keep your core strong, you resist sagging your midsection and legs, which slows you down.

Swimming the butterfly requires a lot of energy.

Swim Intervals

Interval training is a sure-fire way to burn fat, especially when compared to steady-state exercise, reported a paper in a 2011 issue of Journal of Obesity. Intervals involve short spurts of all-out work alternated with short periods of easy effort.

Swimming gives you an awesome opportunity to perform intervals. After a warm up, do rounds of super-fast 50- or 100-meter (or yard) drills, followed by 25 to 50 meters of easy pulling. Go for 45 minutes to 60 minutes total.

Dry-Land Training

Dry-land core work complements swim workouts; it doesn’t replace them. Train your core in every direction to give you balanced ab development that shows through as a six-pack. An added bonus — when you have a strong trunk, your arms and legs have more leverage with which they can generate power through the water.

Planks

Plank holds provide strength to the axis of the body that keep you humming efficiently through the water. They develop the deep transverse abdominis muscle which improves posture and gives you power through the core. Master the standard plank, then add variations:

  1. Standard Plank: Get into the top of a push-up, either on your hands or forearms. Hug your ribs toward each other and pull your belly button to your spine. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds.
  2. Side Plank: From the standard plank position, rotate your body to the side and stack your hips, shoulders and feet. Hold 20 to 60 seconds
  3. Superman Plank: From the standard plank, lift your right leg and left arm and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Switch sides.

Rotation Exercises

A six-pack is more than the front section of muscles most obvious in the mirror. You also want to develop those sexy side muscles known as the obliques. In addition to looking good, they help you maintain stability in the water.

  1. Cable Chop: Position a cable at the bottom rung, or anchor a resistance band at a low point. Face the cable with your right side and grasp the handle with both hands. Rotate down toward the anchor point, then twist up and away until the cord is angled just above your left shoulder. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps on one side; repeat on the other.
  2. X-Crunches: Lie on your back with your arms overhead and your legs extended — your body will resemble the letter “x.” Lift your right arm and left leg up to touch and then repeat with the left arm and right leg. Go for 15 to 20 total repetitions.

Swimmers’ Favorites

Some ab moves are a staple part of swim teams’ routines. These exercises contribute to core strength and definition, particularly of the superficial rectus abdominis that makes up your six-pack, and the lower back muscles, which balance out strong abs. If you have strong abs and a weak back, you invite back pain, poor swimming performance and postural imbalance.

  1. Flutter Kick: Lie on your back and with your hands positioned under your buttocks for support. Lift your legs just a few inches off the floor and perform quick kicking motions for 20 to 45 seconds.
  2. Superman Back Extensions: Lie on your stomach with your arms extended overhead. Slowly lift your arms, head, upper chest and legs off the mat. Pause momentarily and return to the start, using control. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Fast Food Restaurant Report Card – 2017

Posted on | September 27, 2017 | No Comments

Our favorite fast foods could come back to bite us, according to a report released Wednesday — and it’s not just the extra calories.

The new report grades the 25 largest US fast food chains on where they stand on antibiotics.
The results are a mixed bag: For the third year in a row, the only two As were awarded to Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. More companies passed this year than ever before.
But 11 of the top 25 chains received an F, having taken “no (discernible) action to reduce use of antibiotics in their supply chains.”
Nine companies didn’t respond to the survey at all, just like last year.
“These drugs have historically been given to animals that are not sick, to accelerate weight gain and prevent disease in crowded and unsanitary industrial farming conditions,” wrote the authors, who come from six public interest groups including the Natural Resources Defense CouncilConsumers Union and the Center for Food Safety.
5 things you need to know about antimicrobial resistance

5 things you need to know about antimicrobial resistance
While regulations and consumer pressure have encouraged some chains to cut back on the use of antibiotics, some experts worry it’s not enough to stave off development of “superbugs” that can’t be killed by some of our current medicines. These bugs may get into our meat and produce.
“If we don’t rein in this pattern of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, what we will see is half a century of medical progress reversed,” said Lena Brook, a food policy advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She has served as a lead expert on the report for each of the past three years.
Despite nearly half of restaurants receiving a failing grade, this is an improvement over the 16 that failed last year, the authors said.
“It’s a rapid shift that we’ve seen in just a few short years, and that leaves me really hopeful,” Brook said.

Who passed, and who didn’t?

A total of 14 fast food and “fast casual” chains earned passing grades, a boost over nine last year. There were only five the year before that, in 2015.
“It is important to note, however, that while remarkable progress has been made to reduce or even eliminate use of medically important antibiotics, this progress has largely occurred in chicken production,” the authors said.
This is how Chipotle and Panera have stood above the rest: by making sure that pork and beef — in addition to poultry — are raised without antibiotics.

Paleo Chicken Stew

Posted on | September 27, 2017 | No Comments

Paleo Chicken Stew

Paleo Chicken Stew

Ingredients

Directions

  • Prep 15 min

  • Cook 35 min

  • Ready In 50 min

  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic in hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir chicken, sweet potatoes, spinach, crushed red pepper, paprika, and sea salt with the onion and garlic in the saucepan. Pour as much chicken broth into the saucepan to make the mixture as soup-like or stew-like as you’d like it.
  3. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle and the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Nutrition

Amount per serving (6 total)

  • Calories: 144 kcal
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Carbs: 20.8g
  • Protein: 9.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 21 mg
  • Sodium: 207 mg

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Swimming and Running – Match made in Heaven?

Posted on | September 26, 2017 | No Comments

Swimming and running compliment each other in so many ways it really should have been clear to me earlier on that paring the two was going to be very beneficial. Lets look at some of the ways that swimming and running work together to provide maximum results.

Impact: Let’s face it, running is a high impact activity. Every step has an impact on the whole body and this can, over time, take its toll. Adding swimming to your fitness plan allows for an intense cardio workout without the impact. Having these low impact workouts will provide more opportunity for rest which will allow you to not only run better on your run days, but run longer and more injury free over all.

Upper Body vs. Lower Body: I don’t think anyone would ever claim that running is a strenuous upper body workout. Mainly, running works your trunk and lower body, leaving the upper body out of the mix. Swimming brings the upper body back in to focus and allows you to create a more balanced physique. In addition to a great upper body workout, swimming provides a solid lower body workout (think of kicking for laps and laps around your pool), again improving your running by providing more power and endurance.

Lean vs. Bulk: Distance runners and swimmers have a remarkably similar body structure. Neither are looking for bulk. Bulk and excess muscle will slow down a runner and sink a swimmer. What both sports are looking for is strong, lean, flexible muscle and low body fat. These are the things that make fast runners (distance runners at least, I think sprinters are a little different) and highly competitive swimmers. Compare athletes like Paul Tergat (running) and Michael Phelps (swimming) – very similar body structure. The activities of both swimming and running promote this body type – they both burn huge amounts of fat, and build strength while reducing bulk.

Resistance: We all know that resistance training is good, right? Adding a little lifting to our workouts adds muscle, makes us stronger, and thus a better runner. Now think of being able to do resistance training for an hour or more straight without changing weights or messing with machines and working every muscle in your body. That is what swimming provides, consistent resistance training without the headache of a weight room. Keep in mind, weight training is good too, but swimming will help.

Bottom-line, swimming and running just work well together. They complement each other very nicely and each helps the other. For me, this is the best combination possible.

What do you think? Do I have you itching to get in the pool? If you want some help putting together a beginning swimming workout, let me know. I’d be glad to help. As I said, I have many years of swimming experience and would be more than happy to help you get started. Leave a comment here and I’ll get back to you!

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  • About Me

    Just over a year ago I was celebrating the training for and completion of my first marathon and now, a year later, that couldn't feel farther away than it does right now.

    Sure, I have had some injuries and other events that have distracted me from being health focused but to be honest, they are all merely excuses to allow me to focus fully on being lazy.

    To ensure that I stay focused on this effort, I plan to document day to day efforts and events on my way back to a better life.

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