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Part 1: What’s Better, Free Weights or Machines?

Part 1: What’s Better, Free Weights or Machines?

When it comes to the best daily workout routine, there are as many opinions as there are equipment choices. On one hand, you have the gurus who will swear by using machines to get fit and build muscle, and on the other are weightlifters who will tell you free weights are the only way to go. With so many differing opinions, how do you decide what’s best for your own workout plan? Read on to find out the pros and cons of free weights, then next time, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of workout machines so that you can make the decision for yourself! Free Weights: Pros Most of the body builders that you see are going to be big proponents of using free weights. That’s because when you use free weights, the muscles in your body not only have to lift the weight of the bar and plates, they also need to constantly adjust for your balance. The muscles that get worked while adjusting for your balance are called stabilizer muscles, and will be different depending on the workout you’re currently performing. For example, when performing a bench press, your pectoral muscles are the main muscle being worked. However, during the exercise, your shoulders, abs, arms, and even your legs are working to stabilize your body to complete the bench press motion. That’s why big compound workouts like the bench press, dead lift, and squat are considered full body exercises. Working out with free weights provides other muscles an opportunity to strengthen themselves in ways that machines don’t allow for. Free Weights: Cons After hearing that working...

Advantages of Bulking and Cutting

Something you’ll hear every year at about this time is “Summer is coming up, time for me to start cutting”. Many people swear by the bulk up for winter and cut back the extra fat for the summer strategy in order to maximize their results. Today we’re going to look at what is involved in a bulking/cutting strategy and find out if it’s the plan for you! In a bulking and cutting plan, the goal is to shred any extra fat you may have so as to increase muscle tone for the summer months. The reason for this is usually that the summer temperatures allow people to more easily show off all the work they’ve been doing at the gym and in the kitchen. After summer is over, however, it’s time to bulk up. That means eating more calories and upping the carb intake so as to maximize muscle growth. Bulking vs. Cutting Workout Routine Regardless of whether it’s bulking season or cutting season, your workout routine will mostly stay the same. You’ll want to spend 3-5 days a week either at a commercial gym or your own in-home gym burning as many calories as possible and exhausting your muscles so they can grow stronger. The one difference is that during cutting season you will want to increase the time you spend on cardio workouts. High-intensity workouts that get your heart rate up tend to burn fat faster than other workouts so these are perfect for your cutting routine. Bulking vs. Cutting Diet The biggest difference in bulking vs. cutting is your diet. If you’re cutting, you will want...
Is Eating Healthy Really That Important?

Is Eating Healthy Really That Important?

Whether you’re brand new to the concept of working out and you just got your first gym membership, or you’ve been working out regularly for years and even have your own in-home gym, you have most likely heard that the most important thing you can do to see improvement is to eat right. But is that accurate? Why can’t you just workout longer, faster, and harder in order to get better results? In today’s blog post we will talk about why eating healthy is so important for your results in the gym. Eating right gives you more endurance in the gym When it comes to your body and the way your nutrition effects it, think of it the way you would a car. Your car needs to have gas to move. If you run out of gas you can still roll backward or push it forwards, but it won’t operate the way it’s designed to unless there is fuel in the tank. Similarly, our bodies are designed to use food as fuel for our daily activities. The type of food matters too. If you put diesel fuel in an engine designed for unleaded you will ruin your engine, and while our bodies are able to adapt to what we put in them, eating empty calories like processed sugars or fried foods high in trans-fat or saturated fat will bog down your system and keep you from operating as efficiently as you could be. If you want to run, lift, or do cross-fit at peak performance, you need to fuel your body with the right types of foods. Make sure...
3 Great Workouts for a Muscular Chest

3 Great Workouts for a Muscular Chest

It’s hard to argue that having a well-defined, muscular chest makes any guy look better. With the new year approaching, you might be resolving to hit the gym and look for a way to develop your chest into that of a Greek god. Getting a chiseled chest isn’t easy, and a lot of people try and fail every year. Here are 3 great workouts that if you stick to them, will help you get that big muscular chest you’ve always dreamed of! Bench Press I’m sorry if you hate bench presses, but there really is no better workout for adding size to your chest than bench pressing. This workout, if done with the right form, will work your core, lower, mid-, and upper chest, and will also work your front delts. Focus on using the right form and not only will you work more muscle groups, you’ll also be able to push more weight. Dig your shoulders back into the bench, arch your back, and plant your toes firmly on the ground. A lot of people try to bench by bringing the bar down towards their upper chest, and then pushing up for the lockout from there. What you really want to do is bring the bar out towards your lower chest, flex your lats while pulling the bar down to your lower pectorals, and then pushing up into your lockout from there. Performing the bench press in this way will provide you a lot more power so you can break through those stubborn plateaus and really build strength and size. Pin Press Another great workout for adding strength...
Home Gyms vs. Commercial Gyms

Home Gyms vs. Commercial Gyms

So, you’re thinking about getting into a workout routine, you’re getting motivated to pump some iron and get that dream body you’ve always wanted. Working out has a lot of benefits both for your body and mind. The only problem is you’re not quite sure which route you should go. Should you get a membership at a local commercial gym, or just buy some equipment and start your own in-home gym? If you’re struggling with this dilemma you are not alone. A lot of people all around the country have a hard time deciding which option is right for them. Much of the decision comes from what best suits your schedule and lifestyle, but there are some things you should know about both options before you make the commitment. Why Choose a Commercial Gym? When deciding between a commercial or an in-home gym, access is often a big deciding factor. With a commercial gym, you pay your monthly fee and all of the equipment you need is readily available to you. You don’t need to go out and purchase the weights and machines yourself. Commercial gyms also generally offer personal training sessions (although you have to pay extra for it) and these sessions can help you reach your goals faster than if you were to work out alone at home. Another benefit that commercial gyms offer is that there are few distractions to actually getting your workout in. For people who have a difficult time with getting sidetracked or staying motivated, working out at home can be a frustrating experience. You have all the right intentions of getting a...
Why You Should Incorporate Weight Lifting into Your Workout Routine

Why You Should Incorporate Weight Lifting into Your Workout Routine

Exercising on a regular basis has many benefits: improved heart health, stronger muscles, more energy, and a general feeling of better health. There are all kinds of different ways to work out your body including cardio training, bodyweight workouts, and weight lifting. Many people are nervous about the idea of training with weights because of the danger of injury. However, weight lifting provides many advantages that other types of exercise can’t, and there are precautions that can be taken to avoid injury during weight lifting. Here are 3 big reasons you should incorporate weight lifting into your exercise routine. Weight Lifting Super-Charges Your Metabolism Compound weight lifting exercises such bench presses, deadlifts, power cleans, and barbell squats use a massive amount of muscles to accomplish. Compound exercises are also referred to as full-body workouts because they require assistance from your core, back, legs, and sometimes even your chest and shoulders. Naturally, when you use more muscles, you will expend more energy and burn more calories. Compound workouts also help boost your metabolism and burn fat for several hours after your workout is over. Weight Lifting Increases Your Overall Strength While cardio workouts are definitely beneficial and bodyweight exercise is great for toning your muscle, no workout is better for building strength than heavy weight training. Have you ever been in the gym performing a workout, and while the weight doesn’t feel overly heavy, you feel pain in your joints? This is caused because your muscles may be able to handle the weight you’re lifting, but your tendons aren’t quite at the same level of strength as your muscles are....

Floor Model Sale Through September 10

Want to get serious about your health goals this fall? Good news—from now until September 10, Balance Fitness is able to offer a sale on equipment to get you on the right track. Floor models of our equipment will be discounted with up to 40% savings at both showrooms—but once they’re gone, they’re gone. This is a once-a-year event, so don’t miss it! We’ll also be offering Labor Day specials all through the week. Stop by one of our two showroom locations and see what we can do to help you reach your fitness goals. Let’s make this season a great one for your health! San Mateo Showroom: 905 North Amphlett Blvd. Phone: 650-348-1259 Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (10:00 am – 6:00 pm) and Sunday (11:00 am – 4:00 pm) Santa Clara Showroom 3109 Stevens Creek Blvd. Phone: 408-244-3010 Hours: Monday – Saturday (10:00 am – 6:00 pm) Sunday (11:00 am – 4:00 pm)...
4 Unhealthy Foods Pretending They’re Healthy

4 Unhealthy Foods Pretending They’re Healthy

Our society is becoming more focused on healthy habits every day. Our favorite restaurants and top food brands are attempting to keep up with the needs of nutrition conscious consumers by adapting their menus and creating “healthier” options for people to choose from. While there are definitely some great options out there, many of the foods that we believe to be healthy for us are actually just junk food in disguise. Here is a quick list of some food options that might sound healthy but really aren’t. Sports Drinks Sports drinks have snuck into our diet and they pretend to be good for us. While it is true that they can help us recover from physical exercise and give us a little boost, they are also loaded with sugar. One 20oz bottle of Gatorade contains 35 grams of sugar! According to the Food and Drug Administration we should only be consuming 75 grams of sugar per day. So the average sports drink is on average 47% of our daily sugar allowance. That number is even higher for individuals planning to cut weight. Fruit Smoothies Another victim of added sugars are fruit smoothies. If made from scratch at home and you’re being conscious about the types of fruit you use, smoothies can be an extremely healthy way to go. Unfortunately, like much of the pre-made or processed food in our culture, the smoothies you get at restaurants can contain upwards of 900 calories. Many smoothie shops add sugar or syrups to their recipe to appeal to individuals who have developed a palette for sweets and can be surprisingly unhealthy for...

How to Bulk Up the Right Way

If you asked five different people about how to bulk up, you’d probably get five different answers. It seems like everyone has their own idea about what works. That’s because everyone has varying fitness goals and distinct body types. However, some foundational fitness principles stay consistent regardless of whether you’re trying to look like Superman or you’re just trying not to look like Spiderman (before he was Spiderman). In today’s blog, we’ll tell you how to bulk up the right way. The “right way” means these straightforward tips are based on science, not trends or taste. Let’s take a look! Fill up on whole foods, not fats One thing most people tell you about bulking up is, “Eat more!” But there’s something missing from that piece of advice. You need to eat more of the right foods. Your body certainly needs food (calories) to build muscle, but empty calories won’t give you muscle. Instead, they’ll turn into fat. Seek out whole, nutritious foods that make your body stronger and more energized. Not only do healthy foods strengthen your muscles, but they also give you more energy to push yourself harder during workouts. Harder workouts translate to better results, and that means more of the bulk you’re looking for. Work, work, work Lifting is an essential part of bulking up. However, it’s important to give your muscles a chance to recover after workouts and even between reps. Take at least one rest day a week, and definitely vary your workouts from one day to the next. If you work arms and shoulders every day, you’ll likely end up with an injury—and probably flabby legs, too. Don’t feel like you have to dedicate every workout to weights....

3 Healthy Lunch Ideas

If you think a healthy lunch can only be found at the salad bar, then it’s time to spice things up. Healthy foods come in more varieties than which type of fat-free vinaigrette you’re adding to your salad. It’s time to explore the options beyond kale, spinach and romaine. Treat yourself to some tasty lunches that are completely different from your norm, but just as healthy. Here are our 3 favorite healthy lunches:   #3.  Curried Chicken Pita With Cranberries and Pear 2 whole-wheat pitas 4 oz. cooked chicken breast, diced 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt 1/4 cup dried cranberries 1 medium pear, diced 2 teaspoons honey mustard 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 squeeze lemon juice #2. Stuffed Sweet Potato 2 sweet potatoes 2 oz. feta cheese 2 oz. black oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped 1 oz. oil packed sundried tomatoes; thinly sliced 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/2 teaspoons oregano (or 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped) 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste #1. Avocado Egg Salad 1 avocado; halved, pitted, and peeled 6 hardboiled eggs; peeled and halved 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup minced onion 2 Tablespoon chopped chives (optional) Go for More Don’t stop with these 3 recipes. Use them as inspiration for for more tasty lunches. Try topping your sweet potato with spinach and goat cheese next week. Or, make avocado salad with chicken instead of eggs. The possibilities are endless. Stick to healthy ingredients, and you’re sure to come up with something spectacular for your taste buds and your body. For even more noticeable results in your body,...