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Ask The Trainer

Five fitness crazes that fit into workout routines

By Chris Antonio | May 31, 2014

As a trainer, it’s my job and passion to experiment with the latest and greatest fitness crazes to find out what works best for my clients. After some careful thought, I decided to list five things I have found worthwhile that can be incorporated into any workout routine for best results.

Foam rolling

For me, the foam roller has been the difference between long periods of uncomfortable muscle tightness and being able to function like a finely tuned athlete. At age 45, some of my old football and weightlifting injuries began to catch up with me until I began using the foam roller. Using the simple, inexpensive piece of foam allowed me to instantly reduce muscle tightness and pain, and prevent my back from going out, and it’s now a very important part of my pre- and post-training regimen. The most common areas to use the foam roller on are the side of each leg for It band relief, the front of the hip, quads, glutes and hamstrings.

Carb cycling

Learning how to cycle the amount of carbs you eat can be an excellent way to lose weight and burn body fat. Carbohydrates are the foods that provide the energy your body needs to move and function, but if you eliminate sugar and processed carbohydrates, and vary the amount of good complex carbs you eat, you can trick your body into burning fat as fuel. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but the most common are doing several days of high carbs followed by the same amount of low days or cycling from high to low over a period of seven to 10 days and then repeating.

Band training

Incorporating bands into your workouts is a great idea for a number of reasons. First of all, bands are portable and can be stuffed into any suitcase and will allow you to do a complete workout while traveling. Secondly, they are easy on the joints and can be an excellent way to bridge therapy and rehabilitation from injuries to strength training. Lastly, they provide variable resistance, which means the tension is different at various parts of any movement you do with bands. This is an excellent way to build strength and endurance, and give your body a completely different look that can’t be offered by free weights or body weight movements.

Functional training

Functional movements are exercises that are based on real-life situations and work groups of muscles at the same time. These exercises are great because they teach all the muscles to work together rather than working independently. They also give you more bang for your buck by forcing you to train like an athlete, burning more calories, improving coordination, and reducing the chance of injury, giving you an overall better workout. Good examples include one-arm dumbbell cleans, box jumps, mountain climbers and burpees.

Interval training

Most fitness professionals would agree that interval training is one of the best ways to burn fat because it forces the body to constantly adapt to the workload. To perform interval training, simply alternate lower-intensity cardio with bursts of higher intensity. A good example would be walking for three minutes and jogging for 30 seconds for beginners, or jogging for three minutes and sprinting for 30 seconds for those with higher fitness levels. Interval training is also great because it keeps your mind occupied and makes the session seem twice as fast.

Dynamic stretching

One of my favorite pre-workout activities to loosen muscles and prepare the nervous system for a great workout is dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is like combining a warmup and stretching routine by performing a series of controlled movements like leg and arm swings that slowly move you closer to your maximum range of motion with sports-specific movements. This type of warmup is generally used for athletes, but I’ve found it to be invaluable for people of all levels. I usually perform dynamic stretches after a brief warmup - eight to 10 minutes of light cardio - and before weight training when the body’s core temperature is up and the joints are lubricated.

So if you’re looking for something new that works, try adding some of the above techniques to your routine and you’ll be surprised at the results you can achieve.

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