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How to Test Your Power

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In fitness, “power” refers to explosiveness — the ability to move weight with speed. The box jump is a great way to test and train lower-body power. It requires the ability to use power from your legs to jump up; to achieve triple-extension of your hips, knees, and ankles; and to land softly and with control.

How to Test: Stand with your feet at hip width about a foot behind a sturdy elevated surface, such as a weight plate or plyo box. Hinge your hips and lower into a mini squat.

Explosively reverse the motion — swing your arms forward for added momentum to jump up and forward with a powerful hip drive. Land gently with knees soft, then straighten your legs and drive through your hips to stand tall.

Step down and repeat for as many controlled, great-form reps as possible in one minute. If you feel your form eroding — or miss a rep — before the minute is complete, stop there.

How to Assess: Record the height of the platform — whether it’s 4 inches, 12 inches, or 36 inches. As with elevating your hands in a pushup (see “How to Test Your Muscular Endurance“), selecting an appropriate height ensures safety and the opportunity to measure progress.

Additionally, record how many reps you completed. Over time, you likely will be able to complete more repetitions, jump to a higher platform, or both.

How to Improve: Practice box jumps a couple of times a week, performing two or three sets of eight reps. Pay particular attention to fully extending the hips as you jump and to landing with control on each repetition.

Other ways to improve lower-body power include powerful step-ups, kettlebell swings, and the Olympic lifts — snatches and clean-and-jerks.

For more tips on improving box-jump prowess, including alternatives to the move, visit “BREAK IT DOWN: The Box Jump“.

This was excerpted from “Fitness Testing 2.0” which was published in the June 2021 issue of Experience Life magazine.

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HIIT for Heart Health

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We’ve been told that high-intensity workouts offer more cardiovascular benefits than moderate exercise. Norwegian researchers now believe they know why.

“Our research on rats with heart failure shows that exercise reduces the severity of the disease, improves heart function, and increases work capacity,” says Tomas Stølen, PhD, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “And the intensity of the training is really important to achieve this effect.”

Reporting in the Journal of ­Mole­cular and Cellular Cardiology, the researchers describe the intri­cate mechanisms required to pro­duce a healthy heartbeat. When any one of these actions falters, it limits the heart’s ability to pump oxygenated blood throughout the body.

In the lab rats raised to develop heart failure, for instance, only about 20 percent of the available blood — known as the ejection fraction — exited the heart with each contraction. A healthy rat will push 75 percent of the blood out into its body with each beat.

After six to eight weeks of daily high-intensity interval training (HIIT), the ailing rats increased their ejection fraction to 35 percent. Stolen points specifically to improvements in the transfer of calcium in the heart’s cell membranes to explain the change.

“We found that interval training improves a number of the mechanisms that allow calcium to be pumped out of the cells and stored more efficiently inside the cells,” he explains.

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The Science of Strength

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How 3 Moms Use Life Time

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Motherhood can be a challenging world: From work demands and kids’ schedules to household chores and other obligations, there’s a lot to juggle. However, some of the most critical items on that agenda include mom’s efforts to maintain her own health and wellness.

Physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management can often fall by the wayside amid the daily to-dos, but prioritizing them is not only essential for mom to stay healthy, happy, and strong, but it’s also a great opportunity to show kiddos the importance of cultivating healthy habits — while including them in your activities.

Get inspiration from these moms who use our spaces and offerings to support their family’s healthy way of life.

Kellie McLarney

Member at Life Time in Mount Laurel, N.J.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

Honestly, my favorite thing about being at Life Time is the community. It’s like my home; I feel so comfortable there. I love walking in and being greeted by Janelle at the front desk, then taking a yoga class taught by Jaime Marrero. We also really appreciate the Kids Academy team — they’re so great with children, and our kids truly enjoy all the staff there.

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

My family enjoys going to the indoor pool to play and relax together. It’s always so warm, it feels almost as if we’re at a resort on vacation.

Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

These days, it’s using a silicone insert inside my face mask. I don’t even feel it’s there during class!

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

For sure the yoga classes. That’s when I get my me-time. My favorite is the FLOW format — I leave feeling refreshed and, of course, extra sweaty.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

We’re looking forward to spending the day together as a family at the Jersey Shore.

Idell Brown

Member at Life Time in Florham Park, N.J.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

My favorite way to work out at Life Time is in the small-group training classes or with a personal trainer. I thrive on working out in a group setting — a little competition never hurt anyone!

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

Family time for us is typically spent at the pool. Lately, after my youngest son finishes his swim class, we’ll have lunch before enjoying family swim for about an hour. I’m sure when the outdoor pool opens for the season that will end up becoming a full day at the pool!

Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

As a full-time working mom of two boys with a husband who works six days a week, the Kids Academy is a genuine lifesaver. I typically take both boys to Kids Academy while I go to my Saturday morning Zumba class, which falls perfectly before naptime. After my class, we have a “picnic style” lunch in the back seats of our car with the trunk open, which the boys love doing now that the weather is getting warmer. On the drive back, both boys fall fast asleep.

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

The Alpha and GTX classes. Both are an amazing way to work out with others, develop perfect form, and build strength and endurance.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

Mother’s Day for me will be sleeping in until 9 or 10 a.m. (my boys are up by 6:30 a.m.!) then having a spa day before meeting up with my family for an earlier dinner. I’m a firm believer in self-care.

Melissa Moore

Member at Life Time in Peoria, Ariz.

Melissa Moore with her husband and daughter.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

I love taking the barre and yoga group fitness classes, particularly the SURRENDER format for yoga. The instructors are professional, motivating, and always have great high energy.

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

Most days we drop our daughter, Zoe, off at the Kids Academy. While she’s there, I like to take a barre class and then sit in the whirlpool. On Sundays, we all swim together in either the indoor or outdoor pools.

Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

Always sign up for a class even if it looks full and you get added to the waitlist. Nine times out of 10, I end up making it into the class because of cancellations or no-shows.

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

The barre and yoga group fitness classes. I love the barre classes in particular because I can get in a great full-body workout in just an hour. I also enjoy getting a massage at the LifeSpa.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

A day of relaxation at the spa — totally unplugged!

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