Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Get Moving! Build Muscle, Burn More Fat

Let’s face it: we all have fat burning on our mind when we exercise. That reason alone is what motivates many people to engage in routine physical activity.  Were you aware however, that by increasing your lean muscle, you can burn more fat all the while—even when you are folding laundry, carrying in groceries, or taking the stairs to your office? Not to mention the fat burning boost you will get when you are purposefully exercising.  The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn!

Resistance training is beneficial for several reasons: increased skeletal muscle strength, improved balance, and increased lean muscle mass to name a few. Resistance or strength training need not be accomplished in a gym, but can be easily and safely done at home.

Push-ups are my favorite strength and muscle building exercise. If your upper body is not quite ready for an on-the-floor push up, you can start with a wall push up. Place your hands on the wall at your shoulder level, shoulder width apart, fingers pointing upward, while maintaining a soft elbow. Step away from the wall, at least 18 inches; the farther back you stand, the lower your hands will move below the shoulder height, and the more muscle workout you will enjoy. Keep you feet about 12 inches apart and maintain a soft knee. Engage the abdominal muscles by drawing in the belly, below the umbilicus. This action will support the lower back with the additional benefit of including the abdominals in the exercise.

Slowly bend your elbows outward as your head moves between your hands and as you bring your face in towards the wall. Slowly push back to the start position. Repeat this 12 times, rest for 3 minutes, then do 2 more sets, with the 3 minute rest in between the sets. You will be stimulating and building muscles in the shoulders, back, chest, neck, and upper arms. A key concept is to move slowly and deliberately to fully engage the muscle and receive the most benefit.

As your upper body becomes stronger, you will be able to move further down the wall with you hands, and move your feet further back from the wall. At this point, you are ready to go to the next level: an on-the-floor push up! Again, if your upper body does not feel quite ready for this challenge, try this modified push up. Begin by resting on your knees, with your ankles crossed behind you, either on the floor or elevated slightly up in the air. Your hands will be flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, fingers pointed away from you, and elbows are soft. Slowly bring your face towards the floor, with your elbows bending out to the side, and most importantly, while maintaining a FLAT back. Engaging the abdominals will help in maintaining the proper body alignment. Slowly push back up to the start position. Perform 5 – 10 push-ups, depending on how strong you feel, rest for 3 minutes, and repeat twice more, resting between sets.

Ultimately, you will be able to begin the push up in the “plank” position. The upper body will be positioned as described with the modified push up, above. With this full push up, your legs will be stretched out behind you, inner knees gently touching, and you will be resting your lower body weight on your toes, with heels pointing up towards the ceiling. This is called a plank position because with a flat back, your body will be in one plane, straight as a plank! Slowly lower yourself to the floor, all in one movement, legs and arms working in unison. Engage the abdominals to support the low back. Your legs will not bend or shift, they will follow the face towards the floor as the arms bend, elbows outward. Again, perform 5 – 10 of these, repeat as previously described.

Lastly, the breath… we have a tendency to hold our breath when performing muscle strengthening exercise. It’s important to be aware of this and to remember to breath! Inhale as you are moving in towards the wall or closer to the floor, and exhale as you are pushing back from the wall or floor.

After just a few weeks of incorporating push-ups into your routine—3 times per week—you will notice an increase in muscle mass and tone in the arms, chest, and back. You will burn fat more effectively while performing any task with your upper body as you reach this stage, which is most of what we do all day long.

Now drop and give me 10!

Robin Mallery

3 Responses to “Get Moving! Build Muscle, Burn More Fat”

  • shivaji Mane:

    Read articals and guided well about eating 5 Smalls, push ups exersize I am Very Thankfull to You.

  • Robin Mallery:

    I am so pleased that you found these articles helpful and relevant. If you are interested in reading more, please feel free to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter to receive ongoing information. You may do so on my website: http://www.heartmatters.pro. Best to you, Robin

  • Stumbled across your blog while searching through google. I read the first paragraph and its great! I do not have time to finish it now, but I have bookmarked your site and will read the rest later. : )

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"When my husband of 34 years died I lost my interest in cooking.  Instead I began relying on quick frozen organic entrees and dinners. After three years I decide to improve the quality of my diet, so I contacted Robin Mallery. Robin helped me create a more nourishing and healthful diet that took my busy teaching and consulting schedule into consideration.

It was a joy to work with Robin. She is knowledgeable, supportive, intuitive, and warm.  I highly recommend her as a Heart Healthy Coach.

Through lifestyle counseling, the sharing of her delicious and healthy family recipes, and an informative and fun "field trip" to a local whole food market, I have shifted to an eating plan that is healthy, delicious, and swiftly prepared. The key to swift and healthy meal preparation for me has been Robin's 90-minute Sunday afternoon food prep model, a strategy that assures quick and delicious high quality meals throughout the week. I consider my leisurely Sunday afternoon food preparation time as self-indulgent "me" time, and enjoy chopping, baking, and sauteing against the backdrop of classical music and a glass of wine.  I also love the fact that a nutritious and delicious dinner is ready when I walk through the door every night of my work week.  It's as if I finally have that personal chef I have always coveted, only it's me!"  ---Patricia J., Nevada City

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