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Yoga vs Pilates

Yoga vs Pilates is a common question asked my thousands of people who want to know the difference between the two or who are unsure of which on to take up. There is no definite answer to the debate, yoga benefits will be different to pilates benefits and the purposes of the two popular activities are unique.

These two phenomenons, yoga and pilates, has taken the modern world by storm and are often thought of as going hand-in-hand but are in fact two completely separate practices that differ in origin, exercises and core focus. Yoga poses will differ to those of pilates, and for a specific reason. Due to the number of different types of yoga and pilates, it is hard to pin point which is better for you. Both yoga and pilates will bring you improved muscular and postural strength.

Why is yoga good for you?

Yoga is an act that brings together your mind and body through coordination of exercise, breathing and meditating. If you are looking for a cardio workout then yoga classes will probably not be what you are looking for, clearly depending on the type of yoga, generally speaking. As it is a low-intensity form of exercise, the longer the yoga session, the more pounds you will lose. However, yoga is proven to boost felxibility, endurance and strength through regular participation over a long period of time. An additional benefit of yoga is that is help to bring inner peace and relaxation, helping you to de-stress and contemplate.

Why is pilates good for you?

Pilates is a form of exercise that aims to strengthen muscle groups by stretching and lengthening the target muscles. As a calm way of exercising, it will not boost your heart rate like going for a jog would, but the more advanced class, the higher your heart rate would be. For weight loss, pilates is slightly more effective than yoga, however you would need to maintain going to pilates classes for around an hour several times a week for several weeks for regular weight loss. Pilates is especially useful for building abdominal strength and tightening obliques, with improved flexibility as a bonus.

 

Pilates or Yoga

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History of Yoga

Knowing the exact history and orgins of yoga is difficult as it is a tradition that was passed down through oral transmission and the use of ancient recording methods such as on fragile leaves or drawings on stone seals. Because of this, it is hard to find the exact dates and time periods of when the idea of yoga was born, as ancient artifacts have been studied but researchers can only figure out an approximate origin date of 3000 BC.

The traditional purpose of yoga was to transform one’s self through the transformation of the ego and spiritual discipline. Nowadays, we think of yoga solely as a series of yoga asanas and yoga poses that are done in a workout session. Despite the inspiration for yoga coming from Eastern relgions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Shamanism that focused on understanding the world and self enlightenment, these are the principles that we have forgotten in modern yoga.

It was said that at the start, yoga was found in one form only and today that one single action has been transformed into many types of yoga that are constantly being updated for our needs!

The Philosophy of Yoga

Yoga HistoryYoga originally was an activity that focused on understanding the world, it later became an act that also helped with self-improvement. It was not until later in the sixth century BC where Buddhism took the idea of yoga and introduced different yoga postures and stances. The philosphy of yoga is one that is extremely complicated and rich with many explanations and ideas, yet the principal focus is on uniting the mind, body and spirit.

The art and science of yoga is to create a union between your breathing and your body to create an awareness of yourself being an individual intimately connected to the whole of creation. The fundamentals of yoga, written down around 200 AD in India in a sacred text, explain the concepts of yamas and niyamas:

  • Yamas – moran disciplines and restraints
    • Compassion for all living things through non-violence
    • Commitment to truthfulness
    • Honouring trust through not stealing from others
    • Moderation and self-control through restance of reactivity
    • Restraining the desire for wealth and letting go of attachment to materialistic things
  • Niyamas – personal observance and self-restraints
    • Purity of body and mind through cleanliness
    • Modesty and contenment with what you have
    • Disciplined use of our energy
    • Self-reflection and consciousness
    • Understanding the divine flow and Spiritual presence around us

Many of the different yoga positions and actions that you do can bring about great yoga benefits for your mind and body.

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Yoga Benefits

The art of yoga is beneficial for your mind, body and soul. The benefits of yoga come in many varieties depending on the different types of yoga and yoga poses that you choose to do. Over the years, yoga has become increasingly popular, and there is a reason for it. Actually, there are several! With the numerous yoga benefits, from increasing muscle strength to sleeping better, it’s no wonder that the world is obsessing over the ancient tradition of yoga.

You might be a yoga expert yourself, or you might be searching for information on yoga for beginners, either way the most common doubt people have is whether to take up yoga vs pilates and what benefits each will bring. Here we will focus specifically on the amazing effects that yoga can have on your body, your mind and your life!

What are the benefits of yoga?

Any physical activity is bound to bring in some health benefits, and yoga does not shy away when it comes to improving your wellbeing. The great thing about yoga benefits is that they come in a variety of health, mental and physical improvements. Yoga Benefits

  • Improves your flexibility, builds muscle strength and perfects your posture
  • Betters your bone health and protects your spine
  • Increases blood flow and heart rate (decreasing blood pressure)
  • Makes you feel better and happier through increase of serotonin
  • Helps you focus
  • Relaxes your body system and promotes healthy breathing
  • Improves balance
  • Releases tension in your limbs
  • Can help you sleep better through relaxation of the nervous system
  • Gives you peace of mind, ridding stress and frustration, helps you understand your inner strength

If you are wondering whether to begin on the yoga journey or not, think about what you want to change in your life, whether it is a physical change you want to make or a mental change. Yoga is a great way to help you focus on yourself. Give it a go!

 

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Lower Ab Workout

Your abdominal muscles, also known as abs, are situated around your stomach. The ab workouts aim to focus on this area as many people want to get rid of fat and flabby tummies by working on their fitness. As one of the principal “show-off” areas in the body for men and women, people always want to work on their ab muscles to get great results. View our ab workouts for men and ab workouts for women for more ideas.

A toned mid-section is not only great for your self-esteem, but it helps prevent injury by giving your back support as the torso muscle wraps all the way around. The ab workout is great on its own and should be performed on non-consecutive days, but it is also great to include in any one of our other workouts. Try looking at bicep workouts, leg workouts and back workouts if you want variety in exercises.

Lower Ab Workout Exercises

Some ab exercises are brilliant to include before or after some cardio or other type of workout. You can string a series of them together for a focused abdominal workout or if you run a busy schedule then you can try doing your favourite exercise 10 times in the morning and evening. Find what works for you!

  • Static Press: lying on the floor with knees raised at a 90 degrees angle and with your feet pointing in the air, extend your arms pressing your palms onto your thighs and breath in, on the exhale make sure to pull your stomach in tight
  • Leg Drop: lying on the floor with your legs straight up at a 90 degrees angle to your waist, breath in, bring your legs down and exhale, whilst flat breathe in again and exhale while raising them to the starting position
  • Weighted Crunch: with a plate in your hands, lie on the floor with your knees bent but feet touching the ground, holding your arms and plate above your head, crunch towards your knees, hold for a second and lower until your shoulders touch the floor
  • Inching Elbow Plank: starting in a normal plank position with elbows on the ground and your body straight, take a tiny step with one foot towards your elbows and then with the other, repeat until your hips are in the air creating a pike position, return to plank
  • Torso Twist: sitting upright with crossed legs and bending your arms connecting them with touching fingertips, breath in, rotate your body 45 degrees to the right and breath out, return and do the same to the left

Lower Ab Exercise Plan

The ab workout is quite simple to do by separating individual lower ab exercises or by combining different ones together. You can also add abdominal exercises to other workouts or cardio exercises.

  • Pre Workout: always remember to stretch and warm up your body before a workout
  • Inching Elbow Plank – 3 sets of 5 reps, 10 seconds rest
  • Leg Drop – 2 sets of 12 reps, 15 seconds rest
  • Scissors – 3 sets of 8 reps, 10 seconds rest
  • Static Press – 2 sets of 15 reps, 30 seconds rest
  • Weighted Crunch – 1 set of 10 reps

Take 2-3 minutes of break between each exercise. For a quick-fix, check out our 10 minute ab workout!

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Ab Workouts for Women

The amount of ab workouts out there is impossible to count and as a woman it can be even harder to find the right one for you. This ab workout for women is designed to be simple to follow so you can manage to fit it in to your busy schedules while also keeping your fitness levels up high. Many workouts can be done by both men and women, but when it comes to the ab workout there are usually some differences, generally in what goals want to be reached. Have a look at ab workouts for men if you want a challenge.

Generally speaking, an abdominal workout is perfect to do wherever you can – at home, at work, in the park – because it doesn’t require much equipment unless you specifically wish to add some light dumbbells or a gym ball. There are a large variety of ab exercises, some are taken from pilates and yoga workouts, so try them out to see which ones you enjoy. Don’t hesitate to mix exercises from bicep workouts, leg workouts or the back workout!

Ab Exercises for Women

For a flat and toned tummy, you need to work out all you muscles in the ab region and not just focus on one exercise or one muscle specifically. Here are our top 5 ab exercises (if you do not have equipment they can still be done without):

  • Dumbbell Push-Up Row: place yourself in a sit up position holding dumbbell handles that are on the ground shoulder width apart, lower yourself to the floor and raise up again, lift one arm to your chest with the dumbbell and repeat with the other arm
  • Opposite Arm and Leg Raise: on all fours, raise your left arm to shoulder height and right leg to hip height, hold and repear with the opposite arm and leg (for higher difficulty on returning to the start position try touching your knee with your elbow)
  • Planking Frog Tuck: start in a push-up position, bring your right foot forward next to your right hand or as close as possible keeping your body straight and not dipping the whole time, repeat with the other side
  • Twsiting Squat Thrust: standing with feet shoulder width apart and arms extended in front, bend your knees at 90 degrees angle and twist your upper body the left and return, repeat but twisting to the right
  • Single-Leg Stretch: lying on your back with your knees bent, inhale bringing your chin towards your chest, bring your left knee towards our chest holding your ankle with your left hand and your knee with your right, raise your opposite leg to a 45 degrees angle, repeat with opposite leg

Best Ab Workout for Women

No matter if you are looking for a perfectly toned tummy for summer, for yourself or to boost your performance, this is the workout for you! Give it a try and add other abdominal exercises if you wish, add these into a cardio workout, or simply try fitting them in when you have 5 minutes spare at the office:

  • Plank – 2 sets of 10 reps, 20 second rest
  • Twisting Squat Thrust – 3 sets of 12 reps, 10 second rest
  • Dumbbell Push-Up Row – 2 sets of 12 reps, 15 second rest
  • Cobra Position – 2 sets of 8 reps, 10 second rest
  • Single-Leg Stretch – 3 sets of 12 reps, 20 second rest

Feel free to modify what you want to change, to make things tougher, use weights of a Swiss Ball, if you are straining with the suggested requirements then lower the repetition count.

For a speedy workout, have a look at our 10 minute ab workout you can fit in as many times a day as you want!

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10 Minute Ab Workout

An ab workout doesn’t have to last an hour if you don’t have time. Try out our 10 minute ab workout, just one of our many ab workouts! Many workouts require time and concentration, expect you to go to the gym, but this one could not be easier. Only asking for 10 minutes within your buy schedule, you can fit it in when you wake up, during your lunch break at work or while you are waiting for your dinner to cook.

If you want a more full workout, try including workout exercises from the leg workouts, back workouts or bicep workouts. You can even decide to extend the 10 minutes on some days if you have the time. This ab workout is made for you to fit it in whenever you can. Fitness freaks, take a look!

10 Minute Ab Workout Routine

Whether you are looking for a bikini body or a killer six-pack, try out these ab exercises to get your body in shape! If you find it too easy, pump up the sets or reps, and if you find it too hard then do the opposite – always work to your ability.

  • Long Arm Crunch: lying on your back with knees bent and arms extended over your head, raise your arms from the floor so they are above your head and use your torso to push up – 12 reps
  • Reverse Crunch: lying on your back with your hands behind your head, being your knees into your chest at a 90 degrees agle with your feet pointed to the ceiling and raise your hips using your stomach muscles, return without letting your feet touch the floor – 12 reps
  • Janda Sit-Up: lying on your back with your knees bent and hands behind your head, press your heels into the floor while performing a normal crunch – 12 reps
  • Jackknife: lying on your back with your arms extended over your head, simultaneously raise your arms and legs to touch each other, both working towards a halfway meeting point – 12 reps
  • Extended Plank: in a press up position, place your hands around 8 inches in front of your shoulders keeping your body straight, hold for 45 seconds and breathe normally

This set of ab exercises should be repeated 3 times to complete the 10 minute ab workout. If you are taking too long or too short, increase/decrease the number of reps.

Alternative 10 Minute Ab Workout

Here is another option for a 10 minute ab workout, feel free to mix and match ab exercises after you have trialed them out and found what works best for you.

Remember to seek professional advice if you experience any discomfort or muscle injury.

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Ab Workout for Men

Ab workouts can be so varied and different so it’s about time that you looked at ab workouts for men specifically! One of the workouts that is aimed at building mass muscle and keeping your body at a high fitness ability, you have come to the right place for our ab workouts.

Guys are always looking to have rock-hard abs and a great chest to show off, so these abdominal exercises should get your blood pumping and your muscles working hard! This ab workout is aimed for men but can be done by anyone with a high level of fitness, it would also be helpful looking at the ab workouts for women for extra ideas. Try not to neglect the rest of your body, check out bicep workouts, leg workouts and our back workout.

Ab Exercises for Men

These are some hardcore abdominal exercises to work your core during an ab workout, they can also be mixed with other workout exercises if you wish to do a more general workout:

  • Bicycle Crunch: sitting on your bum with your upper body leaning at a 45 degrees angle backwards, place both your hands behind your head, extend one leg and bend the other reaching with your opposite elbow to touch your knee, switch legs and repeat
  • Hanging Leg Raise: using a pull up bar, hang with your back straight, bring your legs up as high as possible towards the ceiling, bending and rouding your back, if unable to do this then lift your legs up to your waist
  • Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: standing straight with dumbbells in each hand and palms facing inwards, bend your hips and your knees keeping the natural arch in your back, lower your torso until you are about to lose your arch and return
  • Swiss Ball Jackknife: in an all foors position with your legs raised on a swiss ball, keep your arms and back straight, bend your knees towards you causing the ball to roll and return
  • Renegade Row: in a push up position, with dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand, move your weight from one side to the other by slowly raising your arm and bending it into your chest holding the weight

Ab Workout Routine for Men

The ab workout exercises can be put together to make a workout routine, you can do sets of each exercise pushing yourself to do as many reps as possible, or here is another suggested routine:

  • Sit-Ups – 4 sets of 10 reps with 10 second rest
  • Elbow Plank – 2 sets holding each for 30 seconds with 10 second rest
  • Swiss Ball Jackknife – 2 sets of 15 reps with 30 second rest
  • Mountain Climber (with swiss ball or bench) – 3 sets pushing yourself for 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest
  • Hanging Leg Raise – 2 sets of 10 reps, 20 second rest
  • Bicycle Crunch – 4 sets of 8 reps with 10 seconds rest

Never push your body too hard! If you feel pulling or straining, seek professional advice and calm down the exercise count. Check out our 10 minute ab workout if you’re looking for something speedy.

 

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Leg Workouts for Men

The legs are an important part of a man’s physique, and the leg workout of a man’s fitness, that we all want to make sure looks as good as the rest of our body! Don’t hesitate to have a look at the leg workouts for women for more exercises and ideas. As with any of our workouts, you should make sure to work to your own capacity and choose workout exercises that you enjoy and that work for you.

Leg workouts for men will focus more on using weights to strengthen and build on the muscle you have, with exercises that can be altered to what goals you want to achieve. For building more muscle use heavier weights, for endurance increase the reps and sets and for toning only work to your most comfortable ability. Remember, you can mix and match with the bicep workouts, tricep workouts and ab workouts!

Leg Exercises for Men

These suggested leg exercises for men try to add a twist to the usual workout exercises you get, and are aimed to make sure you get buff legs in no time!

  • Bulgarian Split Squat: with a barbell behind your shoulders and a step, rest one foot against the step and slowly lower your whole body into a squat making sure your bent knee does not touch the floor, return and repeat with the other leg
  • Leg Curls: using a leg curl machine, rest your heels under the cushion and slowly bring them towards your bum making sure they don’t make contact, release slowly returning to the original position
  • Kettlebell Fling Squat: inspired from the kettlebell swing action (found on kettlebell workouts), swing the kettlebell between your legs whilst squating, rise up tossing the kettlebell in the air only slightly and squating again for the catch
  • The Inchworm: starting in a press-up position, slowly walk your legs towards your chest until it feels uncomfortable, move your hands slowly forward to return to your orginial position and repeat
  • Simple Step Reach: standing above a high step with your arms out in front of your shoulders, reach down with one leg keeping your arms out and return, repeat with the other leg, add weights for difficulty

Leg Workout Routine for Men

A suggested leg workout for men that you are able to modify how you would like, add weights or different exercises. You can even include a cardio section to add to the focus on legs.

  • Fitness Food: be sure to stay healthy and feed your body with all the correct nutrients it would need
  • Pre Workout: warming up and cooling down is just as important for your workout
  • Kettlebell Swing – 3 sets of 15 reps, 20 second rest
  • The Inchworm – 2 sets of 12 reps, 10 seconds rest
  • Side Lunges (with dumbbells) – 4 sets of 10 reps, 15 second rest
  • Bulgarian Split Squat – 3 sets of 8 reps, 15 second rest
  • Leg Extensions – 4 sets of 10 reps, 20 second rest

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Leg Workouts for Women

Our brilliant leg workout for women is a specific version of one of many leg workouts. We also have another specific example of a leg workouts for men and these are both a part of the wider bodybuilding workouts. Your legs are an important part of your body to maintain as they support us in walking, driving and almost every other daily activity. Not to mention, for any other type of workouts, our legs are almost always involved.

Everyone has different fitness abilities and it is crucial to recognise this. All of our suggested leg workout exercises can be modified to what is comfortable for you. For a lighter workout routine, decrease the number of sets and reps, and the opposite for a more forceful one, simply increase and try adding weights or equipment. Do not forget the rest of your body! Check out our bicep workouts and back workout.

Leg Exercises for Women

Ladies, let’s not forget about our lower body workouts there while we try and increase our upper body strength! If you are tired of the same old routine of squats and lunges then take a look at these great leg exercises for women that add a twist to the simple moves:

  • Pistol Squat: stand up straight with your arms out in front of you at shoulder height, push your right leg out and bend your hips into a squat position keeping your arms and leg extended straight, hold and return repeating with the other leg
  • Side Lung Butt-Kicker: stand straight with your arms by your side, with your feet pointing forward lunge to the right bending your right knee and extending the other, hinge forward from your hips and touch the floor with your left hand
  • Marching Hip Raise: using a Swiss ball, lie on your back with your legs bent and feet resting on the ball, raise your hips creating a straight line from shoulder to knees, lift one knee to your chest and return
  • Single Leg Lunges: add weights if you wish, standing straight with arms by your side bring one knee up towards your bottom in a leg curl, with the other leg, balance and bend down in a lunge position bringing your arms to hand slightlt in front of you
  • Lateral Leg Lift: starting in a squat position with your hands on your hips (or with weights), spring upwards and push one leg outwards at a 45 degrees angle, return to squat and repeat with other leg

Leg Workout Routine for Women

This is a suggested workout routine that focuses on your legs and should be done 3-4 times a week on non-consecutive days. If you want a more full-rounded workout then incorporate exercises from different workouts, perhaps the bicep workouts or back workouts:

  • Pre Workout: always make sure to prepare your body for the training you will do by warming up and cooling down
  • Single Leg Lunges – 3 sets of 10 reps, 15 second rest
  • Pistol Squat – 2 sets of 15 reps, 20 second rest
  • Lateral Leg Lift – 4 sets of 8 reps, 10 second rest
  • Carving Curtsy – 1 set of 15 reps
  • Marching Hip Raise – 2 sets of 12 reps, 20 second rest

If you want to focus on certain exercises, try doing a ladder workout where you use the same leg exercise and start with a single set of 20 reps, moving to a set of 15 and slowly decreasing the amount.

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Back Workout

The muscles in your back are split into areas that a back workout will hopefully focus on individually. Although sometimes not the most common of bodybuilding workouts, due to the back not being one of the “show-off” muscle areas, a good back workout will help build your upper body strength as a whole. It is great for fitness and building muscle, and is great to accompany any of our other workouts.

As for bodybuilding exercises, this back workout can be done from once a week to an intense 4 week bodubuilding program depending on the results you are aiming for. As the back can be a delicate area, be careful not to strain or injur any of your muscles and if you feel any discomfort then seek professional advice immediately. Always balance your workouts between other parts of your body, view our bicep workouts and leg workouts for more information.

Back Workout Exercises

Being one of the biggest and strongest bodyparts, the back is a crucial focal point for a workout to build muscle and strength. This selection of workout exercises for the back suggests some of the best back exercises for each section:

  • Pull-ups: works on the lats, grasp bar with an overhand wide-grip making sure your are relaxed to stretch your lat muscles, pull up as high as possible using your arm strength which will contract your lats
  • Pull-downs: works the lats, stand away from the overhead bar so that your arms are almost completely straight, pull down the bar in an arc shape with wide-grip ensuring that the only movement felt is in your shoulders (this is not an exercise for arms!)
  • Seated Cable Row: using a cable row machine, works on the middle back, do not move your body forwards but keep your back upright and straight, bring the bar towards you with medium-grip pulling your shoulders and elbows as far back as possible
  • Back Extensions: using a hyperextension bench, focuses on lower back, adjust the bench so hips are fully supported, crossing your arms over your chest slowly bend at the waist as far forward as you can rounding your back
  • Barbell Shrugs: works on traps, holding the barbell with your shoulders relaxed, do a shrug action to bring your shoulders as close to your ears as possible

Back Workout Routine

Depending on the results you want from a back workout, you should choose the correct weight for your ability and the correct amount of reps and sets for your goals. This suggested back workout program is a great starting point for strength, muscle and endurance:

  • Fitness Nutrition: always make sure you are keeping track of what you are eating and are supplying your body with the correct food
  • Pre Workout: never forget to warm up and cool down always to avoid muscle injuries
  • Pull-ups – 3 sets of 10 reps, 20 second rest
  • Bent-over barbell row – 2 sets of 8 reps, 30 second rest
  • Back extensions – 4 sets of 8 reps, 25 second rest
  • Pull-downs – 3 sets of 12 reps, 15 second rests
  • Barbell shrugs – 2 sets of 12 reps, 10 second rests

Rest for 1-3 minutes between each set.