Smooth Pedaling
Want to cycle faster and go uphill better? Pay attention to your pedaling technique.

Your goal should be to pedal in a smooth circle, applying pressure evenly throughout the rotation. Many of us carry over a bad habit from our childhood – pushing hard on the downstroke – and this interferes with our performance in group or sport cycling. With a little practice, though, you can become smoother and more efficient on your bike.

Steaming Vegetables: Helpful Hints
Steaming is one of the quickest, easiest, most nutritious ways to cook veggies.

  • You can steam in the microwave or on the stovetop. To microwave, place veggies in container with up to a half-cup of water, cover with plastic wrap (punch a small hole so steam can escape), cook on HIGH.
  • On the stove, place steam basket in saucepan with 1 to 2 inches of water. Bring water to boil, then reduce to a simmer, add veggies to basket and cover pan with lid.
  • Steaming is FAST. Check every minute or so to make sure food is not overcooking.
  • Don’t have a steam basket? Try a metal colander; this will work well as long as your pan lid fits snugly over it.
  • Clean and trim veggies before steaming them.
  • For best results, cut veggies into same-size pieces and place in one layer in the basket or container.
  • Be careful. Steam is even hotter than boiling water and can burn you. Use oven mitts; don’t peer directly into the pot.
Weightlifting Belts Can Make You Weaker
It’s true that wearing a weightlifting belt – sometimes called a “back belt” – can enable you to hoist a heavier amount of weight (as much as 20 percent more!) However, you could be paying a steep price.

Studies show that using these belts can actually make your abdominal and back muscles WEAKER. This is probably because as you rely on the belt for support, you work those torso muscles less and less over time.

Safe Neck Stretches that Work
Stretching your neck muscles can work wonders to ease stiffness and relieve stress.IF you perform them correctly and gently. Poor form or too much force can give you a bigger pain in the neck that you started with.

WHAT NOT TO DO

    • Never roll your neck in a complete circle
    • Don’t bounce or stretch in jerking movements

WHAT WORKS

  • Chin-to-shoulder stretch: Slowly move your chin from your left shoulder to your right shoulder. When the chin reaches each shoulder, look behind your back
  • Chin-to-chest stretch: Gently drop your chin to your chest and slowly look up, tilting your chin slightly upward

As with all stretches, stay within your comfort zone. Do not push your stretches to the point where you feel discomfort or pain.

For Healthy Knees, Strengthen Your Thighs – Both Front AND Back
One of the most common sports injuries is a torn ligament behind the kneecap. Sadly, many athletes unknowingly promote this injury in their well-intentioned efforts to build leg strength.

When an individual exercises the quadriceps (the muscles in the front of the thigh) more than the hamstrings (those in the back of the thigh), the knee and tendon become weaker and more at risk. Athletes who sports involve pivoting of the knee – such as tennis, basketball and volleyball – are especially prone to this injury.

The solution: To train the quads and the hamstrings more equally. Example: Strengthen the quads with leg extensions and the hamstrings, with leg curls.

Snacks that Work at Work
Many of us experience an energy lag in the middle of the workday. A snack can be a perfect pick-me-up – IF you know what kinds a snacks are best.

Follow this basic rule: Never snack on carbohydrates alone. Although carbs will raise your blood sugar quickly (giving you a boost), they won’t maintain the elevated energy levels you need to get you through the rest of the day. Instead, eat a snack that combines carbs and protein.

Here are some snacks that provide that carb-protein combination (they’re also pretty portable):

  • Carrots and hummus
  • An apple and cheese
  • Fruit and nuts
  • Whole-grain crackers and peanut butter
  • Instant soups containing beans (e.g., lentil soup, minestrone soup)
Take Your Multivitamin with Food
If you’re swallowing your multivitamins on an empty stomach, you could be getting less nutrition than you think.

Multivitamins include two basic types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. If you take a multivitamin on an empty stomach, your body will digest and absorb the water-soluble vitamins, which include the B vitamins and vitamin C. But you’ll lose the benefit of the fat-soluble vitamins, which need to attach themselves to fat molecules in order to be processed. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K – all nutritional heavy-hitters that you don’t want to pass up.

If you don’t have time for a meal, take the vitamin with a glass of milk or some other quick snack that has some fat content so that the fat-soluble nutrients can be processed.