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foam-rolling-benefitsSince massage may be too costly to afford weekly, foam rolling is an inexpensive choice that helps with flexibility training and your overall fitness plan. There are many types of foam rollers. Although, it might be a bit uncomfortable at first, the benefits are seen instantly after you roll out your muscles!

Foam rolling helps stretch out the body and achieve new levels of fitness performance. For most people, foam rolling for the IT band is a good start.

Start with the a firm, but somewhat soft foam roller on the side of the thigh, laying down on the ground. Support the body with your elbows and slowly move the roller one to two inches, every six to ten seconds, up towards the hip bone. Then roll back towards the knee.

Another great move is rolling the calf muscles, which can be tight from wearing heels or after running miles. Start seated with the calves on the roller and slowly move just below the knee to the ankle.

Try rolling for one to two minutes after each of your workouts. This should be included as part of your flexibility program.

Share your thoughts on foam rolling and other stretching techniques with us on Twitter or on Facebook.

About the Expert

Andrea-Metcalf-Photo-FINAL

Andrea Metcalf is a certified personal trainer, speaker and author of Naked Fitness, and Womensforum lifestyle expert blogger. She is a healthy lifestyle spokesperson and considered to be one of America's top fitness experts. As seen on national TV, including NBC's Today Show and Good Morning America Health, Andrea has over 30 years of helping people look, live, and feel their best.

 

bosu-balance-exercises-videoBalance is so important to your fitness program.

Whether doing standing balance exercises or on the floor, a BOSU is a useful half-circle platform you can work with in the gym or at home. This dynamic training tool offers you feedback by making you have to right yourself when unbalanced, stimulating the core muscles to engage. Every move you do on the BOSU can create better core contractions and balance.

If you're looking for the most basic way to use a BOSU, try standing on it, doing squats or lunges. If you want to try balance in a different plane of motion, try some horizontal moves. 

The Kneeling Push-Up 

Start kneeling on BOSU with hands on the floor. Make sure your hips to shoulders are in a straight line, no sagging lower back. Performing push-ups in this manner with help strengthen the core as well as upper body. Try for 10-15 push-ups. The slight incline of the BOSU will help put more resistance on the upper body.

Balance Push-Up 

Start with hands on the BOSU and legs extended. This push-up may also be performed on the knees. Make sure your hips to shoulders are in a straight line, no sagging lower back. Performing push-ups in this manner will help strengthen the core as well as help balance the strength between both shoulders.

Plank Rocks 

Start with hands on the BOSU and legs extended like in the previous move but instead of lowering the chest towards the BOSU, rock the BOSU side to side. This leaning effect will target those obliques and strengthen the shoulders and chest as well. Perform 20 alternating rocks.

Plank Knee Drivers on BOSU 

Start with hands on the BOSU and legs extended, alternate knees driving up towards the chest while holding the BOSU steady and keeping the straight line of the hips and shoulders in place. Alternate 30 knee drivers for a core and upper body workout.

BOSU Crunches 

This traditional move is done on the BOSU with mid-back on the apex of the curved side with flat side to the ground. Feel how the chest is open and the center abdominals have to pull together to lift the body. Perform these slower for greater impact and try for 30 crunches. Using the full range of motion on these ab crunches really hits the core!

sitting-medicine-ballMedicine balls range in size and most people can be challenged with a six to eight pound ball. This easy fitness piece can be brought anywhere from the gym to home or out to the park for a toning and tightening workout. Fitness expert Andrea Metcalf describes a few exercises you can do with a medicine ball for your core.

Figure 8 Crunch

Start in a seated position and slightly tilt the pelvis under. Using the medicine ball, make a figure 8 circle on each side. Alternate sides for 30 seconds and work up to two minutes.

Ball Bounce

Start in that same curved position and bounce the ball from side to side. Perform 30 alternating bounces to target your upper body and core. 

Long Sit-Up Reach

Start lying on your back with the medicine ball on the mat. Curl up to a seated position using your abdominals and toss the ball in to the air over your head and catch it. Then when seated, reach the ball forward and touch the mat. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

About the Expert

Andrea-Metcalf-Photo-FINAL

Andrea Metcalf is a certified personal trainer, speaker and author of Naked Fitness, and Womensforum lifestyle expert blogger. She is a healthy lifestyle spokesperson and considered to be one of America's top fitness experts. As seen on national TV, including NBC's Today Show and Good Morning America Health, Andrea has over 30 years of helping people look, live, and feel their best.

standing-medicine-ball-exercise-videoA medicine ball is a weighted ball that can be soft or solid. Using a six to eight-pound medicine ball for exercises should be great for any fitness level. Try these at home or at the gym for a great way to get your core as well as whole body toned!

The Throw Down

Hold the medicine ball high over your head and throw as hard as you can onto the ground in front of you. Be sure to lean back a bit so that the bounce doesn't come back and hit you in the face. This exercise works the core, lats and triceps. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions between tricep exercises.

Diagonal Chops

Start with the medicine ball high over your right shoulder. With feet shoulder distance apart and knees slightly bent, reach the ball down towards the opposite hip. This exercise works the core, shoulders and waistline. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions on the right side and then on the left. Go slow to control the movement and feel those obliques working!

Figure Eights

This movement is borrowed from the basketball court but works the core, hamstrings and thighs so well. Start with ball at waist height and circle the ball through the legs behind the right and then back to the front then in around the left. Perform ten to the right lead and then ten the left.

Have you ever used a medicine ball during a workout routine? Let us know on Twitter or on Facebook.

About the Expert

Andrea-Metcalf-Photo-FINAL

Andrea Metcalf is a certified personal trainer, speaker and author of Naked Fitness, and Womensforum lifestyle expert blogger. She is a healthy lifestyle spokesperson and considered to be one of America's top fitness experts. As seen on national TV, including NBC's Today Show and Good Morning America Health, Andrea has over 30 years of helping people look, live, and feel their best.

 

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