Josée Lavigueur's Space
Discover her advice all summer long

The beautiful weather has arrived...
Here are my tips for toning up!

With the arrival of beautiful weather, the media is filled with suggestions of exercises to “feel better in your bikini.” You can be thinking about this, but on one condition: that your real priority is to improve your lifestyle! Being more active, eating better and finding ways to manage your stress will lead to amazing results in the short and long term. But the key to all of this is muscle strengthening. For a long time, the focus was on cardio, and too many people neglected muscle mass.

Strength, endurance or muscle tone?
As of the age of 30, muscle tissue begins to gradually degenerate, by about 3 to 8 percent per decade, with an acceleration as of the age of 50. At 70 years of age, we’ve lost half our muscle mass, in favour of fatty tissue. Note: the muscle does not change into fat… rather, it has ceded its place! Muscle strength, muscle endurance and muscle tone are three distinct physical qualities, each one as important as the other determinants of physical fitness, such as aerobic fitness (cardio), flexibility, body composition (fat mass, lean mass) and agility. In fact, after a certain age, sarcopenia (reduced muscle mass and, therefore, muscle quality, due to reduced intense muscle contractions associated with ageing) greatly affects autonomy and, therefore, quality of life. Put simply, we lose 0.4 to 1 lb of muscle mass each year if we don’t train our muscles…

La force musculaire

La force d’un groupe musculaire (ex.: les muscles extenseurs des jambes, les muscles fléchisseurs des bras) désigne l’aptitude des muscles de ce groupe musculaire à générer la contraction la plus intense possible.

Endurance musculaire

L’endurance d’un groupe musculaire est l’aptitude des muscles de ce groupe musculaire à répéter un grand nombre de fois une contraction d’une intensité donnée (ex.: faire un grand nombre de redressements assis ou de pompes), ou leur aptitude à tenir longtemps une contraction d’une intensité donnée (ex.: tenir des sacs d’épicerie longtemps).

Tonus musculaire

En physiologie de l’exercice, on ne parle pratiquement jamais de tonus, mais c’est une qualité physique à ne pas négliger… Ainsi, le tonus d’un groupe musculaire est l’aptitude des muscles de ce groupe musculaire à tenir de façon quasi permanente une tension, généralement une tension «utile» (ex.: pour assurer une bonne posture, pour éviter une entorse lombaire, etc.).

EXERCISES TO TRY!

MOUNTAIN CLIMBER

To tone your abs and stabilizers, there’s nothing like the “mountain climber.” Assume the plank position on your hands and feet, or hands and knees. Then, alternate drawing your knees toward your trunk. The speed depends on your motivation. If you’re on your knees, you can do this exercise by drawing your knee to the side, as if trying to touch your elbow, by “opening” the leg a little. Start with up to 8 repetitions on each side, or keep going until you reach the famous “burning point”! You need to exert yourself, but you don’t want to be in pain. You’ll see that after a few days this exercise will become easier and easier. Do it every other day. To make it “more comfortable” you can do the exercise on the edge of a counter or on the first or second step of a stairway. The angle makes it easier to carry out the movements.

BACKWARD LUNGES

Here’s a great way to strengthen your buttocks and thigh muscles! But do them slowly and pay attention to your technique. Standing with feet hip distance apart, hands on hips, take a large step backwards and lower your body toward the floor. Keep your shoulders above your hips and your back straight at all times. Hold the position for 3 seconds then straighten on the 4th second by bringing your feet together. Repeat with the other leg. At all times, make sure that your front knee does not go beyond the vertical line of your ankle (your knee must be over your ankle).  

TRICEPS

This exercise is a proven classic! And what’s more, you can do it anywhere! The version I’m proposing is done on the edge of a very stable chair or the edge of a low living room table. Place your hands on the edge, your fingers facing forward. Your elbows are straight but not “locked.” Your back is straight and close to the edge, knees are flexed and buttocks are close to the chair (or table). Slowly bend your elbows so that they are pointing behind you (do not let them open). Move upward slowly without locking your elbows at the end of the movement. Repeat 8 to 15 times.

On your mark, get set, go!

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