Keep improving by keeping a training log

If you are gearing up to start a new fitness and workout routine, hoping to lose weight or are changing your training you can benefit immensely from a workout log. Keeping track of not only your daily and weekly workouts but logging in the specific amounts of time you exercises and the weights you lift is an excellent way to watch yourself improve and keep you moving in the right direction. A fitness or workout log can also be used as a tool if you find yourself at a plateau and you can then go back and reference what you have been doing and then make any necessary adjustments.

Much like a food diary, a fitness diary or training log will keep you accountable for getting those workouts in and also a place to write down your goals for the future. You can also include in your training log any important stats like your weight should you be trying to hit a certain target weight, how much sleep you were able to get the night before, or your pulse rate in the morning. While everyone may prefer to write different things or with varying amounts of detail for their own workout log it is important to at least list down what you did that day in terms of exercise, for how long, and the weigh load if you hit the gym. You can also write in how you felt that day, if you were sore or tired from the last workout or just feeling a bit off. That way if you do feel sore, sluggish, or even an injury creeping up you can look back at your training log and usually find a reason for it.

Finally a training and exercise log is a handy way to boost motivation and keep you sticking to your fitness goals. You can include weekly or monthly goals at the bottom of your own log and work towards them.
Seeing your goals written down makes them seem more concrete. If you are planning on following along with the running program this New Year you should begin your own training log. This will be important to track your total weekly mileage, your pace, and any of the other exercises you are doing besides running. These numbers can then be used as benchmarks for future workouts and in deciding how many miles to increase or run the next week. Then when you do lace up and run a race or event that you are shooting for you can look back at your workouts and times and get a clearer idea of what kind of time you should be able to run and be on your way to hopefully a personal best time!

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Start running this New Year

It's almost the beginning of a New Year and it just wouldn't feel right from a fitness writer's standpoint if the topic of getting in shape being one of the most common New Year's Resolutions wasn't addressed. If you are hoping that as the ball drops and the ringing in of 2010 will bring you fitter, healthier, losing extra weight, and achieving fitness related goals then you should listen up. The best way to sticking to any resolution is to set a concrete goal and plan how you are going to be getting there. Having what you want to achieve written in black in white is much better at keeping you motivated when you'd rather pass on that workout or trip to the gym.

For 2010 if you dream of starting a real running training program and completing a 5k race (or any distance for that matter!) you can follow along here. Each week I will be putting up a training schedule to follow along with tips throughout the week as to different training ideas, techniques, and other tips to get you fitter and running a personal best time. Whether you've never run a step in your life, have been plodding along in a bit of a fitness rut, are looking for a new challenge, or are a runner who used to be more diligent but have had a lapse in lacing up those running shoes, you can get back on track. (Pun intended)

The training program will be coming out soon starting for the upcoming Monday and before then you can be thinking about what goals you want to achieve. Look ahead a few weeks or months for a fun local race you can point towards as that will make the miles seem more important and keep you committed to your training schedule. Also make sure you've got the proper running shoes and running clothes so you'll be all ready to get out there and start pounding the pavement...or the treadmill!

Get set to get fit with Week 1 of the running training program!

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Working to prevent injuries

One of the common banes for any regular fitness enthusiast is an injury. Whether you have a nagging soreness that flares up to the point that it limits your ability to do a particular activity, have an accident that results in a sprain or strain, or overdid it in your last workout routine it is virtually impossible to go through the years without an injury. But one of the best ways to limit the amount and frequency of those injuries is to do all that you can to prevent them.

This is obviously much easier said than done and while no amount of injury prevention care can eliminate all your chances of winding up side lined there are plenty of things you can do to be proactive.

* Stretching.
While there has been debate as to the best time to stretch you always want to do it after your muscles have had a chance to warm up and are loose. This means at the end of your workout you should spend a few minutes doing both static stretching and dynamic stretching for each of the major muscles groups. This will increase flexibility and your range of motion leaving your muscles less prone to a tear or pull.
* Ice. If you do feel a soreness creeping up whether it be suddenly after a workout or one that has been nagging for awhile you can benefit from icing the area after any other workouts for up to 15 minutes. The icing will reduce inflammation and increase healing.
* Strength train. The stronger your whole body is and the better your muscles are toned the less likely you are to being injured. Your core especially should be strong as it is your powerhouse and if you are diligent in targeting each muscle group you can limit the chances that a sudden stressor will result in an injury. The stronger a muscle is overall the better it can stand up to any tweaks.
* Know when to rest. If you are dealing with an acute or chronic soreness or pain that will not go away or gets worse after the first five or ten minutes of your workout instead of better you could speed up recovery and get back to your normal fitness routine faster if you ease back or take a day off. If the pain is only during a certain movement or motion try a different activity that will give you a similar physical benefit without causing the stress on the place that hurts. Swimming or going into the pool to aqua-jog is usually a great option as the non-weight bearing effect of the water will allow you to get in a great cardio workout without any added stress.

Being smart will help stave off injuries as well as reduce the amount of time needed for a proper recovery!

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Ringing in the New Year: Healthy party survival guide

In all of the New Year's festivities there is an almost never ending array of party foods, delicious dishes, tasty treats, and plenty of alcoholic drinks to go around. But when you are ringing in the New Year you don't have to necessarily give a toast to an expanding waistline. It is fairly common for even the most conscientious dieter and fitness guru to ease back and cut themselves some slack at special occasions and this is perfectly fine. The fact is if you eat healthfully for the majority of the time and stick to a regular exercise program you can indulge every so often and do so without an ounce of guilt.

Still, there are a few things you can keep in mind while celebrating New Year's and other holidays so you can give into some cravings but still avoid falling into a few calorie loaded traps.

* Eat mindfully.
When you are at the party, don't linger around the hor'dourve table too long and instead pick out a few items that you really, truly want and then then move on. It's easy to eat or graze away the entire night without even thinking about it, so consciously keep track of what goes into your mouth.
* Socialize
. That is the main reason you did go out isn't it? Peruse the room, talk up your friends, and meet new people. If your mouth is busy talking it won't be able to mindlessly eat.
* Eat something before heading out. Whether you are going to a buffet, dinner party, or a cocktail party that will be serving appetizers you can stave off hunger, and a potential calorie binge, by having a snack beforehand. Something that is filling but healthy such as soup, a piece of fruit, or some low fat cottage cheese will give you energy and leave you feeling full. Going to an event on an empty stomach is a sure way to over eat, especially because your will power caves when you are starving.
* Keep track of those drinks. Not only are many alcoholic drinks high in calories but the more you drink the more care free you are, which means you won't necessarily be thinking at all about what else goes into your mouth. Stick with a drink limit and then choose your drinks smartly.
* Choose lower calorie drinks. If you're going with mixers choose a diet soda, water, or club soda. Go for a light beer over a regular and slash off about 50 calories per 12 ounces. Red or white wine has about 120 calories for 5 ounces, and a vodka tonic has about 200 calories. Gauge your portion sizes as many glasses are larger than 5 ounces. And to both make sure you don't drink too much and also stay hydrated (alcohol dehydrates you) alternate between an alcoholic drink and water.

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Kim Kardashian citing Quick Trim for great weight loss

When it comes to diet and weight loss many people are looking for the magic bullet or surefire quick and easy fix. Well Kim Kardashian and her sister Khloe Kardashian have claimed to have found just that. They have both teamed up to endorse the Quick Trim diet pill and in addition to this diet supplement have followed a diet and exercise routine that have left them both trimmer and more toned.

Apparently Kim Kardashian has touted a six pound weight loss off of her 5'3" inch frame on her website, and while she did consciously try to eat healthier and do plenty of cardio, like dancing, to burn calories she claims that the Quick Trim diet pill allowed her to lose weight faster and easier. Kim is now at her target weight goal her sister Khloe Kardashian is still working to peel off some of the love weight her new marriage came with but has already boasted of losing 20 pounds in only four weeks. While both of the Kardashians exclaim that 'Quick Trim does a body good!' it is not yet approved by the FDA.

This leads to inevitable point that while there may be certain products that work for some, sticking to a good old fashioned healthy diet and exercise program is the most effective way to lose weight, get fit, and remain that way for the long haul. Finding workouts that make your feel good, get your heart pumping, and motivate you to keep going back for more is the best remedy for getting rid of any extra bulge. A quick fix, like Quick Trim and other similar products, may be tempting but at the same time they do come with side effects such as an irregular heartbeat, headache, dizziness, raised blood pressure, and more. All of which you can avoid with a good cardio sweat session and an effective weight routine at the gym.

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A great treadmill workout when you can't run outside

When the temperatures outside start to get not only freezing but potentially unsafe to exercise is many of those eager to workout will be taking their fitness routines indoors. Not only is it a much safer idea to hit the treadmill instead of risk the iced pavements if you've been hit with an intense bout of wintry weather but you could actually get a more effective inside as well. When the ground is slippery, you will be forced to slow down in order to not keep steady footfalls. Instead if you were to take the same run inside on a treadmill you could go faster and eliminate the possibility of tweaking, straining, or pulling a muscle as well as falling down due to poor weather conditions.

So if you are looking to get in a more intense effort, particularly a speed or uptempo workout, you are better off inside. While the treadmill may be a bit more boring than the track or the roads you will be less likely to get injured. Another point of concern with the winter weather is that your muscles will be met with much colder temperatures and that will make it harder for them to adequately warm up. This makes it even more likely for a pull if you aren't careful. So if you do plan to brave the elements you want to plan accordingly. Although your body temperature will elevate through exercise while outside you don't want to start out under clothed; it is far better to be wearing too many layers that you can then peel off as you progress.

A big misconception is that you simply can't get as good of a workout inside that you could outdoors. This is untrue as with any exercise routine it comes down to the amount of effort you put into it. The higher you can get your pulse elevated to, your lungs working, and your muscles engaged you will be burning calories and improving your cardiovascular fitness. A great workout to do on the treadmill is a progressive run in which you gradually increase the pace until you are just below a maximum effort. By the end you will have gotten in a great run, have warmed your way into a fast pace, and most importantly reduce your chances of getting an injury if the outside weather keeps you from hitting the pavement outside!

Treadmill Progressive Run:

* minutes 0-10 warm-up; keep this at a pace you would normally do an easy run at
* minutes 10-15; increase the pace by about 10 seconds per mile, the increase should feel slight and comfortable
* minutes 15-20; again increase the pace by about 10 seconds per mile, you should feel like your working but still under control
* minutes 20-25; increase the pace by at least 5 seconds or up to 10 seconds per mile, you will be working harder than your easier runs and on a level of 1 to 10 of perceived effort you want to feel about an 8
* minutes 25-30; increase the pace for the last time by between 5 and 10 seconds per mile; this will feel just under a maximum effort and work to control your form (about a nine on the perceived effort scale)
* minutes 30-35 cool-down; slow the pace back down to a little slower than your warm-up pace and allow your body to recover

To best equate any treadmill workout to the same amount of effort outside you want to put the incline at 1.5 percent grade. Because inside you won't be working against any air resistance, by increasing the grade this amount you will make the pace on the treadmill be that of what it would be outdoors. It is very important to both warm-up and cool-down as the warm-up will get your muscles ready to work their full range of motion and will give you a better workout and the cool-down will help flush out that lactic acid and aide in your recovery!

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Will Wii help you melt away pounds?

As most everything nowadays has turned hi-tech, workouts have quickly followed suit. Being that most of the nation's youth (and even older generations as well) fixated on gaming, be it online or through other consoles, Nintendo Wii has taken the opportunity to capitalize on that fact and introduced a way for gamers to workout without heading to the gym. Especially with their big push during the holiday season Nintendo is selling the Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus booster packs, and an array of other Wii Fit related games with some touting celebrity endorsements as with Jenny McCarthy's new Your Shape Wii Fitness Game. With the concept as marketing exercise as 'fun, easy, and just like play video games,' the company does at least get credit for doing something in the way of promoting a healthier lifestyle than simply vegging on the couch, eating Cheetos, and playing video games for hours.

However, how effective a workout can you really get from a game system hooked up to your TV?
Firstly, the notion being spread around that you don't have to feel uncomfortable at all while exercising is not true. The fact of the matter is, in order to reap the benefits of any type of exercise or workout routine, you DO need to offer up a level of excretion. People need to debunk the myth that they can easily, painlessly, and without any real effort get themselves fit and lose pounds. If it were so easy, then everyone would be slim, trim, and ready to run miles and miles, and obesity wouldn't be the issue it has become.

Coming back to the Wii, the campaign is a rather brilliant idea since it gives a certain marketability to fitness, especially for younger kids. At least by getting once sedentary gamers up and moving at all is a step in the right direction.
The game itself come equipped with the balance board and offers four categories of workouts: yoga, muscle, aerobic, and balance. They range in difficulty and if you are actually going to use it as your sole form of exercise, you should focus more on the harder ends of the aerobic and muscles genres.

Just like any class, workout tape, or trip to the gym, the goal needs to be getting your heart rate elevated to burn calories and stress your muscles.
Simply standing or gently stretching in a few yoga poses simply isn't going to do it. Sadly, much too many people have the mindset that it will be a breeze, and will pick the easiest poses and then later pat themselves on the back for being 'good' and getting their workout in, when in reality that just isn't the case. While you won't be melting the pounds off, the Wii is a good first step if you are fearful of heading to the gym.

A workout really comes down to what you put into it, and if you are going to use the Wii, challenge yourself and check your heart rate. You want to aim to keep your pulse elevated to about 80% of your maximum level for at least 30 minutes. Your target heart rate varies depending on age, gender, and other factors, but use the chart as a guide and then keep tabs on yourself during the workout. If you see your pulse dip, kick it up a notch. You want to feel like you're working out at least a moderately high level of intensity, and by the end you should be tired. There is no magic game, device, pill, or genie to instantly give you results; the power lies in you and the effort you put in.

By mixing cardio activity and strength training moves you can do your workout wherever, and that includes in your living room. Jogging in place, jumping rope, or dancing can be done in an enclosed area, and get your heart pumping. You can create your own program without spending money on the game or device by alternating between bouts of cardio and strength exercises. Do five minutes of running in place, then a set of 15 push-up, another 5 minutes of jumping rope, and a set of 15 squats. Continue in that pattern varying the cardio of choice and other strength moves for a total of at least 30 minutes. Check your pulse intermittently to ensure it's at the right level, and you will have accomplished a good workout.

The Wii Fit could just be to this era what Jane Fonda was with her workout videos back in the 80's. If you need something to keep you accountable to getting your workout in, then the Wii can help as it does offer that. It is a good ploy to make exercise appealing to kids, and if that is the initiative they need to work fitness into their day, that's a great first step. The bottom line is it is better than doing nothing, yet isn't anything that you couldn't do at the gym or on your own; and there are better options available.

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The worst fast food burgers you could eat

It's no secret that Americans love their burgers. With the most popular fast food restaurants being hamburger chains this evidence is scattered across the nation with McDonald's, Burger Kings, Wendy's, In-N-Outs, and the like littering street corners as much as Starbucks. But if you have a hankering for a good old fashioned hamburger you could be startled to learn that some of these gargantuan burgers are calorie and and fat laden bombs ready to wreck havoc on your arteries and waistlines.

While there are burgers that can be relatively healthy, the regular McDonald's hamburger sans cheese comes in at 280 calories and 10 grams of fat and the Carl's Junior regular plain burger has about the same stats, should you instead go for a double or triple burger with the works you could be inhaling upwards of 700 calories and 40 grams of fat!

The results are in for the worst hamburgers making their way to you from fast-food restaurants and if you plan on hitting the drive through any time soon you will do well to avoid these meat distastes. Coming in with 700 calories and 40 grams of fat is the Wendy's Double with Everything and Cheese burger. Add that with a side of fries and a coke and you have a nasty combination. Instead if you were to go with the Jr. Hamburger (270 calories and 9 grams of fat) or the Grilled Chicken Sandwich (300 calories and 7 grams of fat) you could do your health a favor.

The Carl's Jr. Six Dollar Burger with 890 calories and 54 grams of fat comes in as the Worst Burger Brand of them all. Each of the Six Dollar Burgers are about the same in terms of unhealthy stats and if you are dining at this joint you will want to stick with the junior burger or the Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich with only 290 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. For the Worst 'Original Burger' that title goes to Hardee's Original Thickburger with 910 calories and 64 fat grams. If you must have a big burger while at Hardee's go with the Double Cheeseburger that will give you plenty of meat but cut the calories down to 510 and 26 grams of fat, which is still high but not as horrendous as the first.

Finally, so which hamburger is the overall worst, most gluttonous, and the gold medal winner in terms of being a jeans buster? That goes to the heavyweight champion Burger King's Triple Whopper Sandwich with Cheese and Mayo. This will cost you 1,250 calories and 84 grams of fat! With three stacks of beef, and generally not all that high quality or appetizing to begin with, this burger when paired with fries and a drink could constitute the amount of calories you should be eating for an entire day. So if you are at Burger King you could get a regular burger for 290 calories and 12 grams of fat or the BK Broiler Chicken Sandwich with only 267 calories and 8 grams of fat. If that isn't enough for you you could choose the Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich with Mayo and then consume 490 calories and 21 grams of fat.

Dining out on burgers doesn't have to leave you with a spare tire, and even the 'worst' foods can be incorporated into an overall healthy diet an exercise routine. However some of the worse offenders should be avoided simply because of just how much saturated fat is in them and there are other options that are just as tasty but better for you. So when you are hitting the drive through next time go in armed with the information on those nutrition labels!

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The cast of "Nine" put in lot of work for those dancing scenes

The movie "Nine" coming to theaters in the New York area this December 18th and then the rest of the Nation on Christmas Day, certainly boasts a star studded cast. The line up includes Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Fergie, Judi Dench, Marion Cottilard, and Daniel Day-Lewis. Directed by Rob Marshall, "Nine" looks to make an impact come awards season. Marion Cotillard is nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress, Penelope Cruz up for Best Supporting Actress, Daniel Day-Lewis up for Best Actor, and the movie up for the Golden Globe Best Comedy or Musical Motion Picture. But with so many stunning leading ladies fighting for camera time, how did they all get into tip top form?

"Nine" combines both drama and musical genres, similar to that of "Chicago", and there are many scenes where costumes are plenty revealing. Not only that but the dancing itself was quite a workout for the ladies and while the intense choreography and dance rehearsals certainly helped get those leading ladies toned and svelte, there were other measures they took in preparation to bare those tiny costumes. Penelope Cruz admits that even though the hours of dance rehearsal were grueling, "I worked and worked and regained the memory of muscles in my legs I hadn't used since I was a teenager studying ballet," she still supplemented that with, "stretching, running and going to the gym to get my arms strong to support me on the ropes."

Thankfully Cruz was able to rely on her dancer's past, and the same could be said for Catherine Zeta-Jones as she spent copious hours training on set for "Chicago". Nicole Kidman too has her fair share of dancing and acting under her belt, think back to "Moulin Rouge", but even the star who already has an enviable dancer's body had to kick up her game. Kidman is a regular runner, often logging seven miles a day and up to twelve on the weekends, but needed to target muscles she hadn't been using for a while to swing on those ropes and shimmy around those poles.

As for Kate Hudson, she is no stranger to the gym and was recently spotted doing an intense three hours worth of core work at a gym in TriBeCa. To bring her role to life she felt she had something to prove alongside the cast and during filming dropped ten pounds due to the rigorous on set dancing. Still she was pleased to find that her dance classes during childhood helped give her a leg up.

Much of the on stage choreography and dancing incorporates moves similar to pole dancing, in which one relies on muscle strength to support the rest of the body. This is very isometric in nature and combined with the cardio that high energy dancing supplies you can find that it is both a calorie blasting and muscle building workout all in one.

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Lily Allen admits to struggling with Body Dismorphic Disorder

Just because one may appear to have it all, the perfect body, an amazing career, and to all outward appearance seem to be living the dream, that does not make them immune to insecurities and their own inner turmoil. When it comes to one's body and their body image, what they see in the mirror can be vastly different from what the rest of the world perceives. In her recent interview with Q magazine, Lily Allen admits that she suffers from Body Dismorphic Disorder, "I was sitting in bed last night and I caught sight of myself in the mirror," and what she sees is, "someone who is more overweight than they actually are."

In fact, BDD is a distressingly common problem, and while it does not always accompany an eating disorder, the two often go hand in hand. It is a psychological disorder in which sufferers aren't able to accurately see themselves in their true shape.
BDD is very common with anorexia in which the individual will generally still see themselves as too fat despite protruding bones and a dangerously low weight.

This preoccupation then feeds into their disorder as they still adhere to their strict diet and workout regime. In a culture that is so obsessed with thinness and the perfect body, it is sad that for an increasing amount of young women, and men too, eating disorders and BDD is rampant. The line between a healthy diet and exercise amount is often blurred, and when one crosses the line between what is okay and what is instead a life consuming obsession it can be hard to distinguish as an outsider.

For this reason many eating disorders and exercise additions go both unnoticed or untreated, as the individual will often vehemently deny that their is a problem. In fact they will more often than not be in a state of self denial themselves. Yet both of these are life threatening problems that carry both physical dangers and mental torment. Early recognition and intervention for those with eating disorders and exercise addictions is the key to a successful recovery, for the longer these unhealthy habits are allowed to continue the harder it is to reverse them.

While BDD alone is not necessarily going to cause someone to take unhealthy and drastic measures to change what they see in the mirror, it is a dangerous step in that direction.
Eating healthfully and exercising in a moderate amount has shown to help improve one's self esteem and can at times help to combat a poor body image, but when taken to the extreme it can wreck havoc on one's body and mind.

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Weight training to slow muscle loss as you age and boost metabolism

It's no coincidence that the older you get the harder it is to keep those excess pounds from creeping up. Even if you aren't eating any more calories or exercising any less than you did in your younger years, you will inevitably gain weight unless you adjust accordingly. As you age, not only does your metabolism decrease but you lose muscles mass much faster and easier than the younger set. Sadly, that is why teens can seem to gobble down french fries and ice cream sundaes without ever gaining an ounce, but try that in your 30's or 40's and you'd soon be busting out of your jeans!

The key to warding off those pounds as you age is to combat muscle loss through strength training. Continue the calorie burning cardio and be extra diligent with your diet, but unless you do resistance exercises your muscle mass will decrease at an alarming rate. Because muscle burns significantly more calories per pound than fat, the more muscle you have the more calories your body will burn at rest, during the day, and subsequently your basal caloric needs will be higher than someone who weighs just as much as you but has less muscle and more fat.

If you haven't already implemented a weight regime to your exercise routine, it's never too late to start.
By building up muscle and then continuing the exercises you will keep tone and slow the effects of aging on your metabolism. Start with doing 10-15 reps using a weight that is difficult for you to complete each exercise correctly by the last 3 or 4 reps. Build yourself up to eventually doing three sets of each exercise and do the routine three times a week with at least one day of rest between workouts. Pick at least one exercise that targets each major muscle group: arms, shoulders, back, legs, and core (which includes your abs, obliques, pelvic region, and lower back). By doing consistent weight training in addition to your cardio routine, you will help keep that svelte figure you've worked so hard to obtain even as you age.

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Can you be addicted to exercise?

It turns out there may be more to that uncomfortable nagging feeling that avid exercises experience if they miss a workout. While some people seem to look for any excuse to dodge the gym or a run, there is another group just as anxious to get their workout in no matter what. Of course this is usually the case with professional athletes and other high caliber competitors as it is usually vital for them to stick to a rigid training schedule; however there are plenty of 'regular' people who seem almost addicted to their daily sweat regime.

New research from Tufts University backs up what these people can only explain as simply something they 'have' to do to feel 'right'.
It's not uncommon to find runners who are sent into a sort of gloom or despair at having missed a run, and even running 'streakers' who boast of not missing a single day of running for years on end. That fabled 'runner's high', while regarded as a sort of elusive holy grail in the running community when the act is so effortless that you feel you could go on forever, may actually have a physical cause.

Endorphins, which are released by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during times of intense exercise in reaction to the body's depleted glycogen levels, are interpreted by the brain similarly to those found with opiate use. These endorphins produce a positive feeling to the exerciser and thus create the feeling of ease and unending energy. It is in this same vein, that many recovery drug addicts substitute exercise during times of intense cravings during their recovery.

When rats, which are often found to parallel reactions in humans during tests, were allowed to run freely on a wheel for a few weeks and then abruptly forced to stop, they experienced signs of withdrawal symptoms. The team conjectured that this same response is what eager exercisers of the human variety claim to be that itch to get in their workout no matter what. "Exercise, like drugs of abuse, leads to the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine, which are involved with a sense of reward," Robin Kanaraek, the professor of psychology leading the project stated.

Of course, if one has to pick an addiction, exercise, when kept below an dangerously extreme level sometimes found in eating and exercise disorders, is a relatively benign one to harbor. Keep that in mind the next time you kid your friend when they skip on other plans in favor of a date with the gym, and try not to take it personally.

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Britney Spears looks great on her birthday but would benefit from consistence

As Britney Spears spent her 28th birthday with her family on December 2nd, 2009 it definitely marks the latest in an ever evolving persona for the pop diva. From her early beginnings as a bubble gum chewing teen, to then topping the music charts and being nearly every male's fantasy, to then being a tabloid staple for the odd and tragic, to now looking to make a comeback. As her personal and professional life has played out before the public eyes so too has her body. She's be scrutinized to no end every time she gains weight and then given just as much attention when she sheds it and gets back in shape.

It seems that Britney Spears is forever being dogged by paparazzi to catch a snap of her in her current form, be it in a bikini, at the gym, or eating a back of Cheetos. While she has the tendency to yo-yo between rock solid abs and a belly pouch she does have a way of snapping back into shape relatively fast when she puts her mind to it. With so many people struggling to reach their own ideal weight or fitness level it is worth pointing out that while it is possible to fluctuate like crazy and then get a killer body with an suddenly intense workout routine and abrupt diet overhaul, the best way is to rather stay consistent.

Instead of letting yourself get to the point that you are so unhappy with your shape you can't stand it, stay motivated to never fall off of the wagon by remembering how good you feel about yourself when you are active and working out. Then if you do miss a few days or have a lapse instead of letting that snowball into months of missed workouts get right back to it and you will get into shape much faster. The same goes for your diet; it's okay to have a few cheats as long as you eat reasonably healthy for the most part. But if your diet consists of junk food alone, you'll definitely feel the bloat, gain those extra pounds, and be left feeling sluggish and unmotivated to hit the gym.

So even if Britney Spears has again wowed up with her latest showing of her ability to pull herself out of fitness AWOL and kick her bag of Doritos and Blizzard treats to the curb and transform her body yet again to look great on her tour, it's not healthy to swing between two opposite ends of the spectrum.

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To stretch or not to stretch

One of the more commonly held beliefs when it comes to exercise, is that before you do anything you need to stretch. You will often see people about to head out for a run, take to the elliptical machine, or even start their weight routine first by doing a series of static stretches such as a quad stretch or butterfly pose thinking that before they get started they need to stretch their muscles. But the fact is, that if you are stretching cold muscles you are not only risking a strain or even a tear, but you may be reducing your muscle's power too!

Research is showing that not only is it a bad idea to stretch before working out, but it can actually hamper your performance too. Muscles that are not warmed up or loose before being put into a stretch are not only more likely to be injured but can have a reduction of power of up to 30 percent. Not good news to anyone looking to play harder, run faster, or lift heavier. Stretching isn't all bad, but it needs to be done at the right time. This would be after your warm up or after your workout; once your muscles have been activated and put to use. Stretching is great at increasing flexibility and gaining a full range of motion, but the best time to do that is after your workout.

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The Power of the Core

Your body's central powerhouse lies in your core and all the muscles that comprise it. Your core is more than just your abs, and while many of us strive for that elusive six-pack, if you neglect the other muscles making up this region you are setting yourself up for injury. Your core includes your abdominals, obliques, lower back, and pelvic region. If you strengthen only one part you will be left unbalanced and more prone to strains, sprains, or tears.

For athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike, your core is vital to not only look your best, but to complete your routines and sports to the best of your ability. Your core is responsible for holding you in the correct form when performing exercises, keeping your posture upright when running, and every other activity you undertake. By toning and building these muscles you will make yourself more efficient, and improve your overall fitness. It is important to focus on each muscle and to do each exercise correctly. You may not be able to complete them all perfectly at first, because many of the smaller muscles are weaker and unused to being stressed, but be diligent and eventually you will have a stronger center. Start by doing one set of each exercise and then gradually work your way up to three sets three times a week with at least one day of rest between them.

* Bicycle crunch: Lying on the floor, back flat and raise both legs to 90 degree angles. Alternately bring your right elbow to your left knee, return to the starting position and then bring your left elbow to your right knee. Continue until you've done a total of 30 (15 on each side).
* Bridge: Lie on the ground with your back and feet planted on the ground. Your knees will be bent toward the ceiling; while keeping your shoulder blades pressed down, raise your butt upward until your lower back and upper thighs are at a 45 degree angle on the floor. Squeeze your butt to hold yourself there for 3 seconds then return to the ground and repeat 10-15 times.
* Back Raises: Lie face-down with your stomach on the ground, legs straight behind your. Interlace your hands and rest them behind your back. In one motion, raise your upper body and legs off the ground so that your arms reach back toward your legs and only your pelvis is fixed on the floor. Gently return to the ground and repeat 10-15 times.
* Plank: Resting on your forearms and toes, keep your body straight and parallel to the floor. Contract your abs, pulling them inward and be sure to keep your back flat. Hold this position for 30 seconds, rest, and that is one set. When you've mastered that, try holding the position while doing a set of 10 leg lifts for each leg.

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Don't fret over eaters' remorse during the holidays

With the first of the seasonal holidays checked off in the way of Thanksgiving, hopefully your pants aren't fitting too snugly after a full fledged feast! It is possible to escape the holidays without packing on the reported 5 to 10 pounds that the average American will between November and the New Year, and you can do this while still indulging in your favorite dishes by sticking to your workout and fitness regime. In fact one of the biggest benefits of eating a generally healthy diet and being active is the ability to treat yourself when these special occasions occur! It's normal that in order to balance out a few giving-in's to a particular food favorite you can add a few more sessions in the gym and minutes on the treadmill. Many professional athletes, celebs, and even the most avid gym goers themselves cave in to their holiday cravings without any attacks of guilt!

So what are the favorites among the stars? Kim Kardashian won't pass up her turkey and cranberry sauce, and to keep her enviable curves during the holidays she logs miles around Runyan Canyon and follows her own workout DVD's. while Jessica Szohr is a sucker for her grandma's special powdered sugar cookies, she doesn't actually tip the scales as heavily as she claims, "I gain like 20 pounds every year because of them." The Gossip Girl starlet isn't obsessed about a few cookies or junk foods every now and then and instead focuses on finding a balance between the healthy and not so healthy fare. For her that usually means a week of being 'good' and then easing up on the weekends. But don't think she doesn't hit the gym too, in addition to yoga she tries to fit in 30 minute bouts of cardio.

Also a fan of the desserts is Justin Timberlake, but don't think we'll be seeing those abs go to flab anytime soon as he's an active athlete. Between lifting weights, running, and biking he's usually up for a game of basketball or other sport. Yet not everything that the stars are looking forward to noshing on is completely bad for you, as Ali Larter claims green bean casserole as her favorite Thanksgiving day fare.

And just like any other fitness minded individuals, sport's stars aren't ones to pass up their holiday foods of choice. For Alex Rodriguez that comes in the way of cheesecake, but he obviously is able to stay in top form due to his rigorous training both on and off season. And Houston Rocket player Yao Ming will gobble up anything made by his mother. America's top distance runner, Kara Goucher, is always a sucker for black and white cookies and a great milkshake; but when you're running over 100 miles a week no amount of ice cream will pack any pounds to her slender frame!

So take assurance in knowing that in your own post Thanksgiving days and in anticipation for the next holiday or event, a few variances in your diet isn't anything to beat yourself up about. Remember that moderation and balance is the key, and when you return back to your more healthy food fares, and keep your workout appointments you can enter the new year just as fit and healthy as you left off!

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Alberto Salazer named the 2009 USATF Coach of the Year

The 2009 USATF Coach of the Year is awarded to none other than the legendary Alberto Salazar. For those in the running community, that name itself brings to mind images of an athlete with inhuman grit, fortitude, and a fierce competitor. During his own illustrious running career Salazar not only pushed the envelope of what was considered possible and testing his body's own ability, but did so willing to state his goals aloud for all to hear. Salazar was able to speak his intentions, and more often than not deliver upon those with results meriting him plenty of titles and of course his World Record Marathon time.

Yet today Alberto Salazar is being awarded this great honor not as an athlete but as a coach. While being the head of the noted Oregon Project out of Portland, Oregon he oversees a multitude of not only the Nation's leading harriers, but the World's. They include: Kara Goucher, Dathan Ritzenhein, Galen Rupp, Ari Lambie, Adam Goucher, and Alan Webb. Among them there are countless records, titles, and medals, yet they all share the same inspired work ethic and dedication traited of their coach.

In accepting this 2009 Coach of the Year, Alberto Salazar remains humble, a characteristic of the man who is always willing to go to any length for this athletes, in stating "I am very honored and grateful for this great honor that I've been presented. However, I do so humbly as I know there are many other coaches out there that have done an equal or better job in helping their athletes achieve their goals. I am especially proud of the resurgence in American distance running that is occurring and thank all those athletes and coaches that have worked so hard for the last ten years to make this possible." While I may dispute the fact that there is a finer coach, I offer my most sincere congratulations to Alberto Salazar and look forward to what 2010 brings from him and his athletes!

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Rihanna's workout to look great and sound just as good at the 2009 American Music Awards

Stunning those watching the 2009 American Music Awards, Rihanna made a spectacular showing preforming and proving she has overcome all of the bad press she may have garnered from the whole Chris Brown incident. Wowing the crowd for not only her vocal prowess, Rihanna further looking great rocking her amazing body that she attributes to a strict workout and fitness routines.

Relying heavily on calorie blasting cardio, Rihanna's go to choice for a workout is running on the treadmill. She stays motivated from the help of her personal trainer that travels with her, always mixes things up to keep them fun for the singing star. This Barbados born beauty names her bum as her prized asset, no doubt from her resistance and weight training. Squats are great for giving your back end that great shape, and Rihanna seems to be no stranger to squats and lunges!

As for her diet, Rihnna is a fan of the low carb frenzy that seems to have gripped the masses, and spaces smaller meals throughout her day. By fueling herself every three hours she keeps her metabolism running and her energy levels even. Usually pairing high protein fare, such as egg whites, with fruit for breakfast, she will turn to healthy servings of fish for lunch and dinner. While she may not like vegetables she does do her best to fit them in, knowing they are good for her.

Thankfully Rihanna recognizes working out and fitness is more than a means to stay skinny or lose weight, and that it is part of a healthy lifestyle. She tries not to obsess too much over her size and exact weight as she can vary between a size two or four. She likes being trim and toned because it gives her confidence, and with such a slamming body we can see why!

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How Taylor Swift stays in shape while winning Artist of the Year in 2009 American Music Awards

In the 2009 American Music Awards that aired on Sunday, November 22nd, it sure looked like Taylor Swift made quite the sweep, scooping up a stunning five of the coveted trophies. Taylor came out on top for best Country album, Adult Contemporary album, and of course the Artist of the Year award, which is perhaps the most prominent category. This 19 year old songstress certainly looked just as amazing as well gracing the stage, and she can attribute that stellar body to her workout and fitness routine as well as a health diet.

Taylor recognizes that when she's up on stage and in front of her fans she likes to keep things energetic and high spirited. To keep in top form and able to do all of those dance moves while still holding her tunes, Taylor Swift's workout is not only aimed at getting her looking her best, but feeling her best as well and with the energy to carry out her impressive concert tours. Relying mostly on cardio to give her the stamina and endurance she needs, Taylor is an avid runner.

Taylor doesn't solely train to stay a certain weight, but instead looks to incorporate a healthy diet and exercise routine into her life so she is both able to preform her best and treat her body right. Taylor knows that skipping workouts or eating too much junk food saps her energy and leaver her feeling sluggish. "Basically, if I'm indulging too much and not exercising enough, I can feel that. I can feel a change before I see it. For me, working out is not so I can get skinny. It's so that I can keep up my endurance so I'm not panting on stage. Heavy breathing is the worst when you're in concert. You don't want to see that if you're going to see a show," Swift told Allure Magazine.

For Taylor that means jumping on the treadmill she has in her tour bus and home or taking it to the streets to run those miles. Taylor Swift no doubt gets a rush from the endorphins running releases and states that she truly loves it as her workout. In fact, she's been known to run on the treadmill before her performances to work out any pre-show anxiety. And of course when she's in concert and on stage for her fans, Taylor Swift gets quite a workout from her high energy dancing and showing.

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Get Twilight star Robert Pattinson's chest and arms

While it may have been Taylor Lautner's killer abs that stole the show at the box office hit movie Twilight Saga: New Moon that opened this weekend, there are still those more partial to Robert Pattinson's physic. Not generating quite as much buzz for his subsequent bulking up and toning up as his Lautner teen wolf counterpart, Pattinson did adhere to his own workout and fitness routine in reprising his role as one of the most famous vampires to date.

As it turned out, Pattinson was in fact instructed by his movie producers to head to the gym as a means to curb his habits of late night drinking and his penchant for cheeseburgers. while Robert obviously wasn't lifting nearly as much as Taylor, he did take up running and karate to keep himself fit and in top form. As he does go shirtless in the Twilight New Moon movie, there no doubt was a bit of an added incentive.

So how did he build up his biceps and chest in order to dare to bear? Exercises like dumbbell press, bench press, and inclined dumbbell press would do the trick for the pecs. By pairing higher weights with less reps, you will be able to gain more muscle mass and subsequently bulk up. This would look like doing a set of 12 reps with a weight that you can maintain for that amount, then go up in weight and cut back to 8 reps for the second set. Follow this with yet another increase in weight and cut the reps down to 4. Rest completely between each set, as each set should be an all out maximum effort.

For biceps like Mr. Pattinson, you will do the same sort of idea but with bicep curls and preacher curls. Start with 12 reps, then go up in weight for 8 reps, and end with the highest weight for 4 reps. And whenever you work one muscle group you should aim to work their counter parts, so for the biceps that would be the triceps, so you should do triceps extensions and bench dips. To add weight for the bench dips, you will plant your arms on the backside of one bench and then elevate your legs on another so that you are above the ground and then rest a weight in your lap for the duration of your sets.

Surely if you want to look like the hunky vampire Robert Pattinson portrays in Twilight New Moon, you've got to work for it! Finish your workout in the gym with a run to get in some calorie blasting cardio. The jury may still be out as to who actually looks best shirtless, Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner, but either way you can steal their workout and fitness moves!

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Heidi Klum takes center stage modeling and hosting 2009 Victoria Secret fashion show

For those at this years' 2009 Victoria Secret fashion show, among all of the lithe, slim models host Heidi Klum made quite an impression in a surprise strut down the cat walk proving that she has yet again made an astonishing transformation from pregnant mother to runway model chic in a mere five weeks after giving birth! While Heidi Klum has made herself almost as famous for dropping her baby weight in record time as for stripping down to her swimwear and panties. She has previously graced the Victoria Secret stage after her last childbirths, but this year has been the most recent one to date. Obviously her post baby workout and diets do the trick!

When asked about her secret to shedding pounds, Heidi notes that she is by nature an active person and in staying fit throughout her pregnancy with regular walks, she is ever more motivated to get back to her workout and fitness routine as soon as she gives birth. She cites those steep hills in her neighborhood as her secret weapon to sweating off the pounds, and runs pushing her other children in a jogging stroller up those inclines. With workouts with her trainer, Klum does a full body routine that includes along with cardio, resistance training, and work with a medicine ball.

Heidi Klum has been open in the past for her ability to eat healthfully but still indulging in some of her favorite dishes like schnitzel, goulash, and spaghetti bolognese. She was noted for being one of the first models to make headlines boasting a curvier figure than those others of the heroine chic nature. Yet Heidi isn't finished yet, and she still has the goal of losing another 20 pounds; but this 36 year old mother already has her fans in awe over her amazing figure.

While she may not have planned to be a model this year, Heidi Klum is the host for the 2009 Victoria Secret fashion show event that is set to air on CBS December 1st at 10 pm ET/PT. You too can bear witness to her amazing ability to stay healthy and remain dedicated to her own workout and fitness regime as she dons those famous Victoria Secret duds.

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Twilight star Taylor Lautner worked hard to get those enviable abs

In prepping for his role as Jacob the teen wolf in the Twilight Saga: New Moon movie hitting theaters today, Taylor Lautner spent hours in the gym perfecting the abs that have all the young Twilight New Moon fans swooning. In order to pack on a report 30 pounds to his 5'10" frame, the 17 year old Lutner said he spend two hours each day in the gym lifting weights and focusing on higher weight and lower reps. The star was trained by Jordan Yuam who was spotting the star in exercises such as bench press, leg press, and other lifts with a weight load of 40 percent over what he was able to lift for 10 reps. With the heavier weight, he may only do 5 reps but would be maxing out.

Taylor Lautner relied mostly on free weights to get a full range of motion and also incorporated exercise bands to add resistance to his stretching moves to further lean out those muscles. Instead of breaking a sweat, Lautner reduced his amount of cardio so as to not burn up too many calories that could be used for muscle growth, "I was exercising so hard that I began to lose weight," the star exclaims to Men's Health.

So how does he get those famed abs? The answer may be contrary to what many would think, as his trainer Yuam says that less could be more, "A lot of guys hit their abs every time they hit the gym. That's why so few of them have six-packs." Instead, focus on your abs only three days a week and allow the muscles to rest, recover, and then grow and get definition.

But exercise alone won't get you the cut and muscle definition that this Twilight Saga: New Moon teen wolf has, he also had to up his intake of protein and although Lautner is a bit vague as to what his actual diet entailed was, saying only, "I worked out a lot and ate a lot," you can bet he was constantly fueling his body to keep is metabolism charged and running. Weight lifters generally eat every two to three hours, with three meals and three snacks and protein shakes. Staples like eggs, low fat cottage cheese, and lean meats are usually heavily relied upon to provide that boost of muscle growing protein they need.

Whatever the process, the results seem to speak for themselves, as Taylor and his Twilight physic has earned him multiple sexiest body and abs awards from varying publications including a listing among People's 100 Sexiest Men. And cementing his status as a teenage heart throb Taylor finds it hard to escape his yelling and eager fans, yet by retaining his refreshingly humble charm, he could only be adding fuel to the fire.

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'400 Calorie Fix' - New diet book causes a stir on today's Rachael Ray Show

Making headlines across the Nation, Rachael Ray fans and viewers are eagerly anticipating today's show. This Thursday, November 19th, taking center stage, or center kitchen rather, on Rachel Ray will be the woman who reportedly lost six pounds in only two days following the diet plan written in, '400 Calorie Fix'. This new diet book entitled of course, the '400 Calorie Fix' was put together by the same authors behind the Flat Belly Diet.

While it has not hit bookstores or the online market yet, '400 Calorie Fix' has already created quite a stir. On today's show Rachael Ray will talk to this newly slim woman as to what her days looked like and what she did to drop all that weight. In what has already been revealed, the diet plan is nothing more than simply portion control and keeping your eating habits in check. While this is nothing revolutionary in nature, it puts a different spin on it in implementing four 400 calorie meals spaced through the day. This is good at training you to establish portion control, and by continuing to keep your body fueled your metabolism will be most effective at burning those calories.

The '400 Calorie Fix' touts that you can still eat all of your favorite foods, just so long as you keep each meal at 400 calories or less. It is appealing in that no foods are off limits, and I do give it credit for debunking the whole 'good food, bad food' stigmas, but as for the six pounds in two days I am still skeptic. It takes a negative amount of 3,500 calories to lose a single pound, and if this lady dropped that much so fast a good portion or it is inevitably water weight. Yet the message is still true: eat what you want in moderate amounts and practice portion control.

I've written before how you can incorporate any kind of food into your diet and still both lose weight and live healthy. You need to just be conscious of what you're putting into your mouth and in what portion size. If it takes reading the '400 Calorie Fix' to bring that message home to people so be it; if you get eating healthier and living a better life for it, that's great. But don't expect to lose six pounds in two days as it's unrealistic and unhealthy, and obsessing over any kind of diet could put you at risk for an eating disorder.

I've said it time and time again, eat sensibly and over time the weight loss will follow. Add exercise into the mix and you've got the recipe for success, with or without Rachael Ray's cooking!

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Avoid that holiday weight gain by sticking to your workouts!

As we are all no doubt eagerly anticipating our Thanksgiving Day festivities and subsequent feasting, it may not come as a surprise that during the holiday season from November and through the New Year, the average person packs on anywhere between five and ten pounds! EEK!! While the pumpkin pie, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and sugar cookies galore certainly taste good going down, they don't necessarily hold their appeal when their lasting memories are left on our hips, thighs, and stomachs. But luckily for you, you are a fan of working out and living a fitness inspired lifestyle, right! hehe.

Exercise is not only a great way to help combat a few extra calories, but an active body is crucial for optimum health. Sticking to your fitness routine and getting in those workouts despite a crazy or hectic holiday schedule will pay off dividends in keeping your waistline in check and those clothes still fitting. The wonderful thing about this time of the year, is that there are also many races and fitness inspired events to take part in (think of the annual turkey trot) that can help keep you motivated when you may be tempted to pack it in for the day or skip the gym.

You can further take the extra time off that you may have from work and the kids from school in getting everyone working out together. Head out for a family run, a weight session all in tow, or take a new class that you may have been wanting to try. Bonding through exercise is a great way to not only build relationships but implement a more healthy lifestyle too. And if you aren't living close to family per se, you can still get your fitness fix in good company by calling up a friend or inviting a coworker. Take the opportunity to meet new people, and even build new friendships.

When you are ringing in the New Year both fit and in shape you can still indulge in your Thanksgiving Day dinner and other holiday food favorites and still be able to slip into the same jean size as you count down to 2010! Talk about having your cake and eating it'll just have run off those extra calories!

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Moves to get you ready for the Thanksgiving Day football game

Almost as much of a tradition on Thanksgiving as the bird is, so too the 'friendly' game of football before the dinner feast! While it may be a matter of fun and games for some families, I know that for more than a few of us, to the victor goes not only the spoils but bragging rights that may extend for years to come. Whether you plan on scoring a memorable touchdown, leading your team to victory, or simply rubbing an upset win in the faces of your relatives, there are a level of stakes that come into play whenever we gather to huddle up and then hike. So when you are getting ready to score those touchdowns and be on the winning side this Thanksgiving Day Bowl, here are a few moves and drills to get your feet quicker, your body in better shape, and ready to avoid being tackled on the field!

Even better, these drills will not only help you in a friendly family game, but can improve your skills during the actual season. These moves are also great for athletes in other sports that rely on quickness and agility. For each drill, make sure you are fully warmed up and loose. Do each drill twice to a length of 20 meters. The aim is to gain power, agility, and get your fast twitch muscle fibers ready to move!

* Butt kickers: Working to alternate your left and right lower legs to reach behind you and smack your butt, you want to do your best to keep your thighs under you and pointed toward the ground. Your knees will act as the hinge as you bring your calf up to your hamstring. Try to move your feet as quickly as possible to reduce the time they are on the ground.

* Karaoke: Standing sideways, you will then cross your left foot over your right, then cross it behind you. Keep your arms extended out at your sides for balance and pivot at your waist. Your torso should remain forward and only your pelvis should work to move. Do a run leading with both your right and left side.

* Skip for height: Lift off powerfully with your left leg leading and fully extend your right leg as it trails. Aim to get as far off the ground as possible, and explosively as you can. When you land, spring back up leading this time with your right leg and alternate from there.

* Bounding: Push off with your right leg, and let your left leg will extend ahead of you as far as you can. Try to cover as much distance as you can and when you land forcefully push off with your left leg and let your right leg lead.

* High knees: Keeping your torso straight up, you will bring your left knee up as high as you can, and then switch to bring your right knee as high as you can. Keep your back straight, and try to get your feet up and off the ground as fast as possible.

* Piston feet: You will stand in one spot, and work to quickly pop your feet off the ground as fast as you can. Keep your feet low to the ground as the emphasis is on a rapid motion and speed. Do this for a total of 15 seconds and then rest before a second set.

* Sprints: End this routine with three all out sprints that are about 50 meters in distance. Recover fully between each one.

Be sure to cool down whenever you finish your workout. With a little preparation you can be the star of the Thanksgiving day game!

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