Our Top 10 Fit Tips

You asked. We've answered your most frequently asked questions.

Got a question? Just ask!
1. Should I work out when I am sick?
If your symptoms are from your neck up, and you're feeling up to the task, ask yourself: Do I feel like working out? If the answer is yes, you're good to go.

If you're symptoms are located below your neck-difficulty breathing, chest tightness, wheezing, sneezing or coughing-don't exercise. Take the time to rest and recuperate.

2. I am training for a half marathon and wondering why my back hurts after running?
Low back pain and tightness can often occur after running, especially on hard surfaces. To protect your back, run on pavement instead of sidewalks and concrete. The best surfaces for running are grass and dirt trails!

3. What are the best exercises to lift up my rear end?
The goal here is to lift muscle. To target the gluteal muscles, use these four exercises:
·    Take the stairs: Go up the stairs with a full foot, pressing firmly through your heel as you step up.
·    Add a kick back by lifting your leg behind you while flexing your foot and squeezing your glutes.
·    Do my hill squats on an incline, like a grassy slope. Press through your heels as you stand up.
·   Do your lunges! Lunges are great for sculpting and lifting your backside. To really target your glutes, focus on your landing and on pressing into your forward heel.

4. How can I stretch my back when I don't have a spot to lie down?
Try our favorite, the tree hang. Hang from a branch (or bar), take a deep breath in and exhale slowly as you relax and release your lower back. Repeat this stretch 3-4 times.

5. How do I get six-pack abs?
It's all about the right exercise and a clean diet!

First, keep this in mind, your core is made up of two layers. The deepest layers of your core are the inner unit, made up of stability muscles. These muscles act as a natural weight belt, holding our insides in place like a girdle. The surface layers of your core are the outer unit, these are the thick pumping muscles just under the skin.

It's important to strengthen your entire core. For flat abs and a tight waist, you must work both the inner unit and the outer unit. The fastest way to do it is to mix-it-up!  Exercises that have you bending, squatting, lifting, twisting and rotating will tone your torso and help you to burn the fat that lies over and between your muscles. Strengthening these muscles will also prevent low back pain. The TVA Ab-Flattener exercise will tighten your inner core muscles.

Don't skip the cardio - at least 30 minutes in your aerobic zone, 4 or more days per week.  Also, eat fresh, from the earth. The fitter you get, the cleaner you'll want to eat. You'll naturally steer clear of the junk food isle!

6. Should I eat before working out, or exercise on an empty stomach?
The answer is controversial at best.

It all depends on your fitness goals, the intensity of your workout, and also the timing.  In general, you can stoke your metabolism to burn even more calories during your workout if you eat ahead of exercise. This may seem counter-intuitive, but your body needs calories to burn calories. If you consistently start your workout depleted of energy, your body is inclined to hold onto its fat, entering what is often called "starvation mode."  Now, having said that, if your goal is to lose fat and you go out for a 30-60 minute jog first thing in the morning, your body will be low on energy or glycogen, a source of fuel your body uses while you sleep, and you can access your fat stores for fuel. I don't recommend doing this every day, however, a few times a week is fine and you'll see results.

If your goal is athletic performance, you'll want to give your body some fuel. You might not feel hungry when you first get up, but you should eat a little something because you won't perform at your best, and you may cut your session short because your muscles will be depleted. You don't need much, 100-200 calories will do. Good pre-workout foods are: half a banana, a few pieces of dried fruit and a couple of nuts, a handful of dry cereal, or a slice of toast.

Now, if you're working out later in the day, then it's all about the intensity of your workout. If you're simply going for a 30-minute walk, you may not need anything at all. If you are doing a more intense workout, such as weight training, interval training, a lengthy bike ride or a long run, you'll want to give your body some complex carbohydrates to help fuel your system. Again, 100-200 calorie snack is good.

7. What is the best method to burn fat and calories, a short, high-intensity workout or a lower intensity workout that lasts longer?
Proportionately, you'll burn more fat by exercising at a slower pace. However, the total amount of fat and calories you burn will be lower in a less intense workout. To effectively burn fat and calories, you need to combine time and intensity to your workout routine. Remember, it takes a deficit of 3500 calories to burn one pound of fat! Here are a few tips to incorporate greater intensity to your workouts:
·    Use interval training. Run hard for 1 minute and easy for 2.
·    Use hills and steps. Push your intensity up the hill and recover on the return trip down.
·    Use your local track. Sprint the straight-aways and jog or walk the turns.

This doesn't mean you should forsake low intensity workouts. Far from it. Mix up your workouts throughout the week: one day is a slow-jog session, and another day is a stair training workout.

8. Why do my  feet hurt when I get out of bed in the morning?
If your heels feel bruised and sore, you may have an overuse condition known as "plantar fasciitis."  Simply put, Plantar fasciitis affects the thick band of tissue (or fascia) that runs under the sole of your foot, connecting your heel to the base of your toes.
Plantar fasciitis is common in runners, walkers, and people who stand for hours every day-especially in heels. Often the condition is caused by tight calves, and simple stretches take care of the problem.
If you don't treat the condition it can become chronic; and put a real damper on your exercise routine.  Rest and ice is the first step in treating plantar fasciitis. Ice for 20 minutes 3-4 times throughout the day. An anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen will help to alleviate any pain or inflammation.  Rolling a golf ball underfoot is a technique that feels good and can also regenerate tissue under the soles of your feet.

9. How can I firm and tone my legs without creating bulk?
Concentrate on doing cardiovascular workouts most days of the week: run, walk, and swim. Keep heavy-duty stair climbing to a minimum, which can add bulk to your legs. Rather than using weights, use your body's own weight to tone and shape your legs. Lunges, lateral presses, sumo squats and leg lifts all work effectively to tone without adding bulk.

10.  It's too cold where I live for Outdoor Fitness!  How can I still do one of your workouts?
Alright, so the weather outside may be changing from warm to cold, but, don't let that interfere with your outdoor fitness routine. Your body is remarkably adaptive to hot and cold weather. In general it takes 7-14 days to acclimate to temperature changes. The best way to adapt is to simply continue with your routine season-to-season.  The right clothing and the right attitude will keep you on the program throughout the year.
Here's some inspiration for you - According to a study from the University of Tennessee, exercising in the fresh air on chillier days burns 12% more calories than the same workout performed behind closed doors - and can burn up to 32% more fat, as your body has to work harder to insulate itself.

Tip: Don't forget to warm up. On colder days you'll want to lengthen your warm up from 5-10 minutes, to about 10-20 minutes.

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