DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness


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How To Get Strong Sexy Legs

DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness

Summer is just around the corner and that means it’s almost time for shorts and skirts.  After a long, cold winter aren’t you tired of wearing long pants and floor length skirts? Summer makes us want to run free and that means the hot and heavy clothes are out! But… is there something holding you back from feeling awesome in a sundress?

To strengthen and tone your legs plus gain the confidence to show them off, you’ll need to learn abut your leg muscles and which exercises are effective at targeting them.

Let’s take a look at the upper and lower legs:

Upper Legs

There are two major muscle groups in the upper leg, they are the Quadriceps and the Hamstrings.

The Quadriceps are the muscles located on the front of your thighs. Their main function is knee extension, the movement that straightens the legs.

The Hamstrings are the muscles located on the back of your thighs and their main function is knee flexion.  Knee flexion is the movement that brings the heel up towards the buttocks.

Lower Legs

The two major muscles in your lower legs are the calf muscles which include the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, and the dorsiflexors.

The gastrocnemius and soleus, otherwise known as the calf muscles are located on the back of your lower legs. They are involved in plantar flexion, which allows us to extend our ankles and point our toes.

The dorsiflexors are located on the front of your lower legs and are primarily used for dorsiflexion, the movement in which you bring your toes up toward your shins.  When someone says they have “shin splints”, it is the dorsiflexors that are affected.

Here are a couple moves to strengthen and tone both upper and lower legs

Pendulum Lunges: This is one of my all time favorite moves for strengthening the legs and also developing core strength and dynamic balance.

Stand with the feet hip width apart.  Take a big step back with your left leg, bending your right knee so your right thigh is parallel to the floor (keeping your right knee behind your toes) and your left thigh is perpendicular to the floor (backward lunge). Exhale, and pressing with your right foot swing the left leg back up and in front of you into a forward lunge so your left thigh is parallel to the floor and your right thigh is perpendicular.

That is the technical way saying that the stationary foot will not move and the “swing leg” will alternate between forward and backward lunges.  Do a full set of 8 to 12 reps on each leg.

Plie’ Hops: A heart pounding, fat burning, plyrometric move for chiseled legs.

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, with your feet turned out and knees slightly bent. Place your hands on your hips. Lower your hips so that your knees bend to about 45 degrees.

I like to do Plie’ Hops in a four count.  While counting in your head, do 3 deep plie squats and add in the hop as you come up from the 3rd squat. In one explosive movement, push from your feet to straighten your legs and hop into the air. Both feet should come off the ground. The 4th count will be the squat that results from the landing of the hop. Repeat.

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How to eliminate belly fat and get flat abs

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Let’s talk about belly fat. What is it, why is it dangerous and what are you going to do about it?

What is it?

Belly fat is the common name for a condition known as abdominal obesity. There are two different kinds of fat: subcutaneous and visceral.  Subcutaneous fat tends to accumulate in the lower body (the pear shape) and is the type of fat that you can pinch.  Subcutaneous fat is problematic but is not considered to be as great of a health risk as visceral fat.  When there is a large accumulation of fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape), this is usually visceral fat.   While subcutaneous fat tends to be closer to the surface, visceral fat lays out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our organs.  In a nutshell: belly fat = visceral fat.

Why is it dangerous?

When the circumference of the waist exceeds the circumference of the hips, it poses a significant health risk regardless of total body fat.  Excess visceral fat has been linked to the development of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.

In English this time?

Excessive belly fat is not only bad for the bikini, it’s very hazardous to your health!

What are you going to do about it?

Now this is the really loaded question but I’m sure you can guess the answer.  Is there a magic pill that will do the work for you while you change nothing? Short answer: No.  Diet and exercise, i.e., lifestyle change is what’s going to make the difference.

Diet

To quote Jillian Michaels, “You can eat your way through any workout”, meaning that it doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you still consume more calories than you burn.  Here’s the straight scoop. For the body to burn fat, it must use more fuel than it consumes.  This is referred to as creating a caloric deficit. It takes a caloric deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1, yeah – just 1, pound of fat.  In order to set a schedule of losing 1 pound a week it is necessary to have a caloric deficit of 500 calories a day.

Now before you flip out and decide that starvation must be the only solution, and me assure you that starvation is not the solution, it is important to understand that it takes a certain amount of calories for the body to function at all.  No calories = no function. Get it?  This minimum number of required calories is known as the Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR and is determined by your height, weight, age and gender. To determine your BMR, here is a handy BMR calculator http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

Your daily caloric intake should never be less than your BMR.

Here are a few diet tips to help you.

#1 The refined sugar has got to go.  This is including and especially referring to soda and other sweetened beverages like sweet tea or Kool-Aid and many sport drinks. Read labels!

#2 Minimize or eliminate Wheat Gluten. Did you ever see that movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? There is a wonderful scene where Scott (Michael Cera) is talking to Ramona Flowers about bread. Rather than explain, just watch this 7 second video

Yes, bread makes you fat.

#3 Limit caffeine.  I love coffee just as much, and probably more, than the average person but here’s the thing.  Excessive caffeine kicks your body into fight-or-flight mode. This would be a good thing if maybe you were being chased by a lion, not so good while sitting at a computer checking email.  While the adrenals are pumping out epinephrine and norepinephrine they set into motion a cascade of fattening hormonal actions. Your liver releases blood sugar for quick energy, your pancreas spits our insulin to counter the sugar, and your blood sugar dips because of the insulin. Also, your blood vessels constrict making you feel like your blood sugar is crashing even harder and what do you do? Head straight for the vending machine to find something, anything, to help you return to feeling normal.

#4 While I encourage everyone to do their own research, I am a fan of the Whole Food Diet.  Can’t go wrong by eliminating processed foods.

Exercise

Gonna say this right off. There is no such thing as spot burning fat.  What that means is that you can do ab crunches till infinity, and get some really ripped rectus abdominis muscles that no one will see because they’re still under all the fat.

While core strength is vitally important to every aspect of fitness and should never be ignored, most ab strengthening exercises do not burn very many calories.

Here are a few exercise tips to help you strengthen your abdominal muscles while blasting the heart rate and burning fat at the same time.

#1 Standing Mountain Climbers – Like running in place with high knees but add the arms in too.  Run in place while popping the knees as high as you can while at the same time reaching or “climbing” overhead with the arms.  Begin the move with the right knee and the left arm raised, then alternate.  Light hand weights are optional.standingmountainclimber

#2 Standing Pike Kicks – From a standing position reach both arms forward at chest level or higher and alternate front kicks. Kick as high as you can, try to kick your hands. Do this move as fast as you can while maintaining stability.

frontkicks

#3 180 Jumps – That’s jumping 180 degrees, not necessarily jumping 180 times! Like a jump squat but with a turn. Begin with the feet at shoulder width apart, drop down in the knees and jump, use your core to turn your body in the air and land facing the opposite direction.JumpSquats180

#4 Burpees –  Start in a standing position. Drop down, bending the knees and planting the hands on the floor. Jump or step back into plank. Jump or step the feet back up between the hands and stand up.  For extra fun, add in a jump at the end of  the move when you stand back up.burpees-henry-cavill-tabata-workout-09112011

Perform all of these fat blasting exercises as fast as you can while maintaining stability for 30 seconds. Intensity is the key to higher calorie burn BUT if you feel that you are losing your balance or are becoming light headed, listen to your body and SLOW DOWN.

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Sources:

Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide

ACE Fitness

Book: “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels


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Relax. Breathe. DO IT!

I want to tell you guys a little story in a largely uncensored way. So, for those of you that don’t know me, or have overly delicate sensibilities, consider yourself warned.

Last night I was having a conversation with a personal trainer friend of mine who was expressing the frustration he feels when people placate his message. I understood completely what he was saying and have experienced the same thing many times myself. What I’m talking about is when someone comes to us for help but then won’t help themselves. They tell us things like “I can’t drink water because it doesn’t taste like soda. I won’t eat vegetables because they don’t taste like Mac N Cheese. I won’t dig deep for the workout because I don’t like to be sweaty and out of breath.” Basically, it is impossible to help someone who is not willing to change their behavior.

I understood him very well, not just from a personal trainer point of view, but also because I, just like everyone else, have stumbling blocks and challenges and issues that persist because I just don’t feel like putting in the effort to change them and/or because I see them as bigger and badder than they really are.

This story has a few parts, by the way.

This morning, during a particularly challenging round of Dynamic Body Sculpt, I could see people starting to run out of gas so, to fire up what was left of their motivation, I said in my most fiery voice, “Successful people do what other people will not do. So relax and breathe and DO IT!”

After class, I was standing outside the gym talking with one of my students. She’s been with me a long time and we’ve developed a good friendship. She was telling me about about how she’s going to spend the afternoon visiting her friend who is barely 36 years old and in the hospital dying of cancer. As she started to relay the various horrors of the situation (and, trust me, there are many), I was taken back to when I woke up this morning. I woke up feeling heavy, thinking that the (comparatively minor) troubles and obstacles in my own life were very big and very complicated and probably the center of the whole entire universe and, you know, boo-hoo and stuff.

Every now and then, I believe that the universe taps me on the shoulder (or just straight up kicks me in the ass) and tells me something important. Often times, after toning it down a little, I share these things here on my blog.

So, my friend is telling me this story when I feel a little tap on my shoulder and the universe hands me a proverbial telegram that says, “quit your fucking whining and get your shit together.”

Whoa there, Nellie, that’s a little harsh, don’t you think?

Well guys, I never said this was diplomatic. And while I would never suggest that anyone engage in negative self talk, I am suggesting in the plainest way I know how that if you are lucky enough to be both, A. alive and, B. not suffering with a terminal illness, that you get serious about rooting out and identifying any and everything that is in your way. If something is preventing you from reaching your full potential, it’s gotta go. Shine a light on it, give it a name, take it apart, tear it down.

Start today.

Relax.

Breathe.

DO IT!