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Training

Best Calf Exercises & Stretches Before A Run

The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, also known as the calf muscles, are hand in hand, responsible for acceleration, deceleration and power when on a run. For instance, running up a hill and slowing down a decent, would require the use of these strong muscles to ensure you don’t fall on your face on the way down.

On the other hand, weak calf muscles can cause tight muscles, hamstring injuries, hip problems, strains, tendon tears and can also affect other parts of your body as well. Therefore, in order to be in proper form and fitness, your calves require some regular stretching exercises to strengthen them. Also, it is always best practice to see your doctor when performing new fitness exercises due to any intense pain or discomfort experienced.

Wearing high heels that are confined and running shoes with a rigid under-foot may not allow your feet to roll downwards or upwards, thereby restricting movement and forming tight muscles. After a heavy workout than usual or a longer run, the body may, as result be sore and ultimately form swellings that restrict muscle movement and cause tight calf muscles. In this case, if you were moving down a decent, it may result in you falling on your face.

The different techniques used, vary with what requirements need to be met. Stretching can be a good source of temporary relief, and when done regularly, may lead to long-term solutions. There are two categories of stretches: –

 

1. Static stretches.

These are stretches that are held in one position with no vector-direction and help to loosen up muscle filaments.

a) The technical calf raise (heel drop) stretch.

Heel-drop
Heel-drop

This technique is meant to stretch and strengthen the calf muscles: –

  • Stand on a step (or the edge of a treadmill) with your heels hanging off the edge.
  • Hold on to rails or other relevant surface for balance.
  • Rise on your toes for 10 seconds.
  • Very slowly drop your heels below the level of the step.
  • Push up and back down repeatedly.
  • Do 15 sets of this 3 times daily.

To make this a dynamic stretch, slowly pedal your heels back and forth.

b) The seated calf stretch.

seated-calf-stretch
seated-calf-stretch
  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front.
  • Lean forward and grab the arches of your feet.
  • Pull your toes toward your body until a stretch is felt in your calf muscles
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

c)The runner’s lunging calf.

The-runners-lunging-calf
The-runners-lunging-calf
  • Stand one foot away from a wall and face it (you can also just do this with your hands akimbo).
  • Put one leg at the back of the other and keep it straight, ensuring both feet lie flat on the ground.
  • Extend your arms toward the wall for support.
  • If you’re doing this without a wall, lean your upper body forwards as if you’re reaching out for something.
  • You should begin to feel some stress in the calf muscle of the rear leg the more you extend your arms.
  • Hold for not less than ten seconds.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

The wider apart your feet are, the deeper the calf stretch will be. You can keep changing the position of your rear-foot to figure out the position of your tightest calf muscle. It has been noted that, depending on a person’s movement patterns, lifestyle choices and shoes, different parts of your calf will feel tighter than others.

d) The seated resistance-band calf stretch

resistance-band-calf-stretch
resistance-band-calf-stretch

You can also use a yoga strap or a towel: –

  • Obtain a resistance band or a strapping cloth.
  • Extend your legs out in front while sitting on a ground surface.
  • Bundle up the strap-band around one foot.
  • Slowly and lightly pull the strap-band such that your toes are pointing at you.
  • Remain on this position for not less than fifteen seconds.
  • Repeat this technique with the other leg.

e) The downward dog

The-downward-dog
The-downward-dog

The key to getting a calf stretch out of this classic yoga pose is to press your heels toward the ground.

  • Start in a high plank with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Pressing through your fingers and palms, shift your weight back to bring your butt to the ceiling, so your body’s in an inverted V shape.
  • Press your heels toward the ground—the closer they get to the floor, the deeper the calf stretch will be.
  • To stretch the lower part of your calves, bend your knees slightly while you continue to press your heels toward the ground.

f) The standing bent-over calf stretch.

standing-bent-over-calf-stretch
standing-bent-over-calf-stretch

This stretch technique helps you work on your hamstrings and ankles. According to recent study, one muscle group has an effect on the next immediate muscle group and so on, thereby causing a muscle chain. Therefore, this workout helps the entire chain get in shape.

  • Stand with your feet staggered.
  • Bend your back knee and keep your front knee straight as you fold forward.
  • Grab your front foot beneath the toes.
  • Pull up gently on your toes. Here, you will feel the stretch in your calf.
  • Repeat on the other foot.

 

2. Dynamic calf stretches

These stretches involve some activity and vector-direction that help improve flexibility and mobility.

a) The farmer’s walk on toes.

farmers-walk-on-toes
farmers-walk-on-toes

This technique is used to build and strengthen the calf muscles: –

  • Stand upright and tall.
  • Hold a pair of heavy dumbbells by your sides.
  • Standing upright, rise on your toes and walk forward for one minute without stopping for a break.
  • Do this technique three times a day.

b) The explosive jump squat.

explosive-jump-squat
explosive-jump-squat

The squats build calf muscles and helps to generate power: –

  • Stand upright with your feet slightly wider than the width between your shoulders and toes turned a little outward.
  • Fold your hands in front of the chest.
  • Send your hips backward and bend the knees while keeping your chest lifted.
  • As you rise up standing, jump explosively and land softly.
  • Do three 3 times a day with a set of 15 each.

You can use dumbbells by your sides as well. This helps to strengthen the calf muscles.

 

 

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Nutrition Training

Best Breakfast Before A Run – What Should You Fuel Up On?

Running helps to keep the body healthy and in check, hence building a stronger immune system. A runner’s meal pick before a workout is very important and usually baffles mostly new runners. Every runner has a specific breakfast preference in the morning, typically depending on the type of distance they intend to cover running. Packing your system with calories tremendously increases resilience during workouts while enhancing energy boost.

It’s imperative to kick start your workouts at least by taking breakfast to put something in your system. Healthy morning breakfast must always be nutritious to maximize energy boost. 

It’s essential for runners especially regular or professional athletes to always stick to a specified nutritious breakfast to help them keep up during intense workout sessions.

Eating foods containing fats before a workout routine is highly discouraged by a nutritionist in the sense that it causes digestion problems that may be a hindrance to maximizing the full impact of the entire workout.

 

Type of Breakfast Choice Before a Run

We tend to have a wider variety of healthy breakfast recommendations for new runners including eggs, from scrambled to boiled, to high-protein pancakes you name it. Although, a meal is considered healthy doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for breakfast workout.

 

Breakfast with lots of Fiber, for instance, isn’t recommended for a workout as it is known to increase your defecation rate while causing digestive problems.

Runners should steer clear off that fiber-rich breakfast before you start your workout. 

Caffeine and diets having fats are to be avoided for three to six hours before a run to prevent diarrhea, according to the Mayo Clinic.  

Below is a list of pre-run breakfast choices for runners

  • Chicken 
  • Greek yogurt with berries or sliced bananas
  • Scrambled egg whites 
  • Energy and protein bars
  • Steamed potatoes
  • cheese
  • Protein muffins, or pancakes
  • Pita bread with hummus
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains 

Carbohydrates being the body’s primary energy source, consuming in bits during a workout  can enhance the workout session and the physical performance of a runner. It’s also worth noting that routine exercises reduce the chances of individuals dying from a stroke.

 A pre-run breakfast should be moderate in protein and rich in carbs. Long workouts, for instance, requires a different nutritional approach than normal workouts. 

Nutritionists usually state that the amount of protein or carbohydrates intake normally depends on the intensity of the workout. In most cases regular runner tend to need only 6o grams of carbohydrates while professional athletes need about 90 grams of carbohydrates during a workout.

Incase your uncomfortable eating before a workout, prepare carbohydrate shakes first.  Sports Medicine journal states that carbohydrates that are able to quickly be absorbed by the system, tend to enhance a runner’s performance more compared to a solid carbohydrate that are consumed before a morning workout.

 

Consuming carbohydrates especially in liquid for is believed to boost performance and endurance during a workout routine and is highly encouraged by health nutritionists. An effective workout routine is known to improve blood flow to all parts of the body.

Protein power breakfast

Choosing the best breakfast prior to a workout session can be challenging especially for new runners. The breakfast should nonetheless be packed with considerate quantities of protein. A Nutritionist published guide stated that runners that consumed huge chunks of proteins prior to a workout enhanced glycogen synthesis in their systems.

Protein intake is known to play a key role in the increase of muscle structure in the body. Also, proteins are highly recommended for a pre-workout meal in that, in order for it to properly digest, it required plenty of energy compared to carbohydrates or fats. This, in turn, will make the body to use more energy-burning more calories during both digestion and workout.

In case you’re on a weight-loss goal mission, then consume protein before a workout. Also, running triggers the brain to pump out two feel-good effects. Running has been found to help cure insomnia, studies have shown that running helps to improve sleep.

Breakfast Choice 

By now, your pre-workout breakfast choice has been narrowed down to the most convenient for your workout goal plan. Protein is essentially the main priority on your breakfast list in case your intention is to burn more calories. The runner’s workout goals, duration and workout routine intensity will also influence their food choices.

Some mornings before workouts runners may tend to have lost their appetites and during this situation, they are encouraged to at least take protein shakes to give them a kickstart.

Snacks containing protein are an excellent choice too. Runners should always avoid sugary snacks at all costs. A healthy snack is always rich in protein ingredients.

Whole grains also make a great breakfast choice for runners if consumed in moderation. Most grain high in fiber causes digestive problems before workouts.

Also not to forget, before, during and after a workout to always quench your thirst to avoid being dehydrated or encounter severe headaches, fatigue and other illnesses associated with dehydration.


In conclusion, a meal heavy on protein or protein juice consumed during breakfast prior to the early workouts is recommended by nutritionists because proteins are easily digestible and help to provide sufficient energy for a workout.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Nutrition Training

Benefits Of Fasted Cardio – Our Guide

Does doing cardio on an empty stomach come with any health benefits? In this article, we are going to find out if indeed fasted cardio is beneficial to your health.

What Is Fasted Cardio? Exactly?

Fasted cardio is cardiovascular training performed when a person is hungry or has not taken food before four to six hours, making the digestive system no longer processing food.

10 benefits of fasted cardio

  • Fat Loss

Fasted cardio most rewarding benefit is that it’s a mechanism for burning body fat. Fasted cardio usually works by tapping on the fat reserves for energy that thus fuel your workouts, instead of using energy from the food you have consumed.

  • Easier weight loss

Not only is fasted cardio a fat burner, but it is also a weight loss enhancer. Weight loss comes typically down to the calories your body takes against the calories your body burns during work out routines.

Weight loss is gained in that it burns more calories than it takes hence making it easier to lose weight if that’s your goal. Also, fasted cardio helps the body burn fat in regions like the stomach area that regular workouts find it challenging to do.

  • Improves cognitive health 

Fasted cardio plays a very fundamental role in your cognitive health in that; it reduces the state of degenerative brain tissue. The fasted cardio usually is intense. Hence, by the end of the day, the body often is exhausted and therefore needs to replenish itself and thus to make us sleep soundly, thus improving cognitive health.

  • Faster metabolism rate

Fasted cardio helps to boost the body’s metabolism rate, in the sense that you burn more calories faster and as a result, generate more energy. People with higher metabolism have more power and are more resilient during workouts. Gaining weight is also slow fat is lost naturally during an intense fasted cardio routine. In other words, it is said to maximize your fat-burning potential.

  • Stronger immune system

It has scientifically been proven that lack of exercise can weaken the immune system and make you susceptible to illness and diseases. Fasted cardio has been known to strengthen the immune system, so you become less vulnerable to infections. The fasted cardio activates the sympathetic nervous system, a pathway that increases heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.

When fasted cardio happens, hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, are released into the blood and activate a cellular reaction that suppresses cytokines, including TNF.

TNF is useful in that it boosts immune systems that, in turn, respond by killing harmful cells in the body.

  • Better physique 

Fasted cardio helps promote muscle tone, helping you to achieve a leaner, more ripped, and attractive, healthier body.

  • Stress reliever

Fasted cardio helps to increase endorphins, which are known as happy chemicals known to make us feel good. While under stress, you tend to have tense muscles or insomnia. The worry and discomfort are eliminated after a fasted cardio workout that calms the nerves typically.

  • Reduces blood sugar levels

Fasted cardio can cause low blood sugar, which leads to feelings of lightheadedness or lethargy. Because our body derives energy from a different source when we do fasted cardio, this energy can come from muscle; hence, some may experience muscle loss, especially among older individuals. However, it is always better to consult your doctor before doing a fasted cardio workout if you happen to have any metabolic health issues.

  • Performance endurance

Research published in one of the  Applied Physiology journals conducted a test that compared the same individuals working out fasted cardio against when they fed before their regular cardio session. It was later found out that over six weeks while training using the same intensity, those who worked out in fasted cardio showed more improvement in their endurance exercise performance compared to those who ate before training.

  • Improves heart muscle

The fasted cardio makes the heart stronger because the exercise is more intense and, the intenser the training, the better it is for the heart. At the most basic level, fasted cardio involves increasing your heart rate without eating a pre-workout meal or snack beforehand.

People who practice sporadically fasted cardio have a schedule that is more accommodating to fasted training since they’re restricting calorie intake for a few hours or don’t consume any food at all for a full day or longer, which is highly not recommended by nutritionists.

In conclusion, fasted cardio is the best workout if you want to remain healthy, except for those who have metabolic health issues like diabetes are allow encouraged to consult their doctors first. Always remember to make sure that you eat healthily after an intense fasted cardio workout. There are many post work out meal recipes that contain the right carbs and protein necessary to replenish the energy your body lost. Also, after an intense fasted cardio workout, individuals tend to have a tremendous appetite than those who do the regular cardio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Training

Benefits Of Running In The Morning – Are There Any?

Benefits Of Running In The Morning-Are There Any?

Keeping fit by running has gained popularity over the years as one of the most effective way to exercise. People have different reasons as to why the run; some do it to prevent related metabolic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. Others do run to lose weight and keep away from obesity. Some run to just enhance self-confidence looks and many other reasons. But all agree to it that, it indeed improves an individuals well being as well as restore vitality.

So what time of the day is the best for running, morning?

Let us explore why running in the morning is considered the best time. Most fitness coaches claim that it all depends on individual preference as to what time of the day is best for running; neither has research also shown any evidence of some specific benefits accrued to exercising at particular times of the day. However, a large number of people prefer to hit the track during early hours. Are there any benefits reaped by running in the morning?

Morning schedule helps maintain regular running routine

Atypical working or school day is strenuous and very unpredictable. Whether one undertakes physical duties in the field or has a daily office workday, the activities drain the body’s energy leaving behind a physically and mentally exhausted body at the end of the day. Again, nobody likes to embark on anything straining when they are tired; what this means is that the chances of exercising while fatigued at the end of working day are slim.

Secondly, other unexpected commitments that crop up later in the day, for example, an impromptu meeting at work or a last minute decision to have dinner with a friend in the evening will keep you held up. All these events will definitely interrupt your training schedule. But once you pick on a morning running routine, it becomes easier to sustain the sessions and free up most of the days time for overtime work and evening social activities.

It is safer and convenient running in the morning

At dawn, the level of human activities are less; fewer cars and machinery are operational at this time of the day, hence less pollution from exhaust gases and noise. Running at such times also makes it safe in several ways; for those running by the road sides are unlikely to be hit by vehicles.

Besides, running at times of less polluted air reduces the amount of carbon monoxide and other exhaust fumes. Such pollutants are known to irreversibly combine with hemoglobin, and thus reduce the concentration of oxygen-carrying molecules in your blood. Furthermore, morning temperatures are low, that, coupled with proper oxygen levels in the blood increases exercise endurance which leads to the desired physical and health outcomes.

Running in the morning favors your body biorhythm

Naturally, bodies have a rhythm clock that helps initiate certain changes at different times of the day, known as the circadian cycle. What happens is; during early hours of the morning even before you wake up, some physiological processes are kicked up among them; increased heart rate and metabolism, which prepares you for the wake up time. Research has also shown that for men, levels of testosterone gets elevated in early hours of the day and drops as the day progresses. Therefore, running in the morning means you are exercising when your body is at its best physiological state.

Can you reduce more weight when you run in the morning

The international Journal of Obesity in its 2019 publication, indicated that effective weight regulation is related to the exercising time. People who exercised in the morning had better weight reduction as compared to those who did practice at later hours of the day. How is that possible? Come to think of it this way; 10 hours after you had your last meal, you are ideally fasting. You do not have any glucose circulating in your blood at all,  while sleeping(inactive state), your system has converted all the free blood-sugar into glycogen and stored it in the muscle cells. So, when you hit the track in the morning, you basically burn all the glycogen reserves. As you continue running on an empty stomach, the energy hungry body goes for the fatty acid reserves which are the body’s energy savings account. That is how you shade-off those extra pounds by running in the morning.

Generate those key hormones by running in the morning

What drives you? Living things are regulated mainly by chemical compounds. Your body relies on hormones, endorphins, and other neurochemicals to trigger several phenomena. Think of moods, alertness, flight-state in the face of adversity, excitement and even sadness. Running in the morning has been shown to elevate adrenaline and endorphin levels; these two hormones improve alertness and energize the body to capably face daily challenges.

Does your mental and psychological state improve when you run in the morning

When you awake up from a good night sleep, the mind is clear and fresh and everything else around usually quieter and tranquil. Exercising improves blood flow to all parts of the body, brains included. Therefore, jogging in the morning is the most conducive time to reflect and reorganize your thoughts and build positive mental energy since you are not overwhelmed by the bustles of life at the moment.

Run in the morning to improve your sleep quality

Running in the morning contributes to better long deep sleep at night. One study published in the Sleep Medicine Journal in 2017, showed that running in the morning greatly improved sleep in subjects who initially experienced difficulties falling asleep at night. These positive results can be attributed to the fact that, the body gets subjected to optimal activity at its peak in the morning and slowly calms down as the day progress perfectly matching the circadian pattern.

Now that you know benefits of running in the morning. What are you waiting for? plan to run in the morning and reap the benefits.

 

Categories
Training

Benefits Of Running 5k 3 Times A Week – Find Out Here

The phrase ‘Go big or go home’ has often been used to inspire people to break barriers especially when it comes to exercises. In the case of track, only the ones with sedentary lifestyles would choose to ‘Go home.’ Consistency, on the other hand, is often rewarding and the benefits that accrue from it start to show almost simultaneously!

So what if you’re new to the sport? Technically, everyone with a working set of legs has run at one point or twenty in time. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or you’re the athletic type. The results are arguably the same. However, if you’re just starting, don’t expect to break certain records any time soon. That said, here are some of the benefits of consistency in running 5K 3 Times a week.

  1. Runner’s High Is Not a Myth

Disclaimer; this is not a laid out scheme to get you to exercise more. It has been tested and proven. If you’re a junkie and are looking to quit, then running is the next best alternative.

According to reports based on a scientific study, running and other vigorous exercises compels the brain to pump out two feel-good chemicals. These are endorphins and endocannabinoids.

The latter is not so different from the THC found in pot that’s responsible for altering one’s mood. Most marathon runners have often experienced a burst of happiness and relaxation after running a 5k marathon.

If that’s just from running once, the possibility of doing it three times a week is limitless. It is highly likely that your mood and perception of life and everything, in general, will shift towards the positive.

  1. Lowers the Risk of Cardiovascular diseases and several other ailments.

By now, you must have heard how daily exercise improves health and lifestyle. Running in itself is a dose for longevity and other health benefits.

For instance, some researchers from Holland discovered that running reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and the silent ischemia.They also found out, that continuous running also reduces the chances of individuals dying from a stroke.

Running 5K 3 times a week also reduces the chances of developing cancer and other neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

If you’re one of those people who have to endure insomnia, studies have shown that running helps to improve sleep. In others, consistency has paid off in increased concentration during the day as well as an overall improved mood.

  1. Need help burning fat and calories? Try doing a 5K three times a week

Cardio is one of the fastest ways to burn calories – Just ask your gymnast! Before you ask, yes running 5K three times a week could help you lose a few extra pounds.

However, the trick is to do it smartly. For novices, a low-intensity run is proven to burn more fat and calories than a vigorous exercise. In doing so, you will be torching tons of calories as well.

Nonetheless, most runners don’t realize that hunger is a post-running after effect. As a result, their recovery food is mostly geared towards junk food.

Some sources even suggest that even with a healthy meal after running, some people often experience weight gain instead of a loss. This is either caused by an imbalance between the calories burnt and calorie intake.

In such cases, it is highly recommended to upscale your running with less flat terrain and hillier tracks. This way, you are likely to improve your weight loss journey.

  1. Running gets you toned fast.

Like all exercises, running also helps in building muscles. It’s a proven leg workout that works on your inner and outer thighs down to your calves.

The advantage of running over a regular gym workout is the evenness of muscle development.

As logic dictates, you require both feet to run and thereby subject them to the same intensity. All your leg muscles; including your gluteus maximus, quads and hamstrings will all receive the same exercise.

On the same note, your leg muscles aren’t the only part of your body that receives a workout. Deep muscles in your abdomen and core are also stimulated at the same time.

Forget about Naruto running, normal running invokes power in your core that transfers it to a rhythmic swinging of your arms. In no time, you should experience a leaner and more toned body.

  1. Running is a form of Meditation.

Tired of paying for Yoga classes? Why not put on your running sneakers and take a break from all life’s stresses by going on a jog? Forget about your costly therapist or personal trainer; running is free!

It lets you get in your own thoughts, fight depression and even anxiety.
Moreover, studies have shown that running jostles up the mind to bring out some very creative ideas as well as solutions to problems.

Others also find music very calming and therapeutic. Current technology comes bundled with smartwatches, fitness trackers and wireless earphones that could set you up in your world of thought.

What do I need to run 5K 3 times a week?

Supplies heaped with comfort are key here as the journey ahead is often treacherous with the risk of injury. You’ll need at least more than one pair of running shoes – preferably sneakers and socks.

Also, try doing it with light, sweat-resistant clothes like T-shirts or vests. You can check out some benefits from compression clothing here.

When should I start?

You can do it right now if you want to reap all the said benefits. However, experts recommend that the right time to do it early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun’s not too hot.

Also, a proper work-out diet plan is essential before embarking on track. Here is a list of our top picks on what you should eat before a run.

You do not want to pass out during your first run. Should you also experience some discomfort such as back pain, here are some known reasons and remedies. Remember, consistency is key for the best results.