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November 18, 2014
Upper Body Training
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 in Health & Fitness

The upper body consists of the upper back, chest, trapezius, shoulders, triceps, and biceps. A strong upper body  is needed to perform every day activities such as reaching, lifting, pulling, and pushing. It also improves flexibility and increases range of motion. Low levels of upper body strength can lead to more injuries and a lesser quality of life.

The following are a list of exercises you can perform for each of the body parts.  They are listed from largest to smallest.

Upper back:  Pulldowns, barbell rows, dumbbell rows, cable rows, chin ups

Chest:  Bench press, dumbbell press, incline bar and dumbbell press, flys, push ups

Trapezius (“Traps”):  Barbell Shrugs, Dumbbell shrugs, Upright Rows, Cleans

Shoulders: Military press, standing barbell press, dumbbell press, front raise, side laterals

Triceps:  Dips, lying extensions, machine extensions, pushdowns, close grip bench press

Biceps:  Bar curls, dumbbell curls, cable curls, preacher curls

In creating a good upper body routine, start each bodypart with compound exercises and finish with more isolating movements.  A sample chest routine would be to do bench press first, dumbbell incline press second, and finish with dumbbell flys.

The upper body is a main target of interest for exercisers. It is important to remember to work out every aspect of your upper body, not just an isolated area for balance and symmetry throughout the upper body.  Remember also not to neglect your lower body or core training for complete physical development.

November 6, 2014
Core Training
Posted on Thursday, November 6, 2014 in Health & Fitness

Core training is very important to many exercisers, as many try to achieve that desired “6-pack”. The core consists of the abdominal muscles, the oblique muscles, and the muscles in the lower back. Strengthening these muscles leads to good posture and the ability to perform every day activities, such as lifting and twisting. Walkers and runner should focus on their core. Improving the core leads to improvements in oxygen uptake as well as balance.

Crunches are a great exercise to perform in order to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Planks are also a great exercise for this region of the core.

As for the obliques, side bends are a solid exercise to choose. Other exercises included for the obliques include side planks and Russian Twists. To perform a Russian Twist, sit down on the ground with your legs out straight. Twist your body to tap the ground to the right side of your body then twist your body to tap the ground to the left side of your body and keep repeating as fast as you can.

Lower back/core exercises are important but should be performed with extra emphasis on form and technique so as not to injure the lower back.  An excellent exercise for the lower back are back extensions.  They look like reverse abdominal sit ups and are often performed in an apparatus designed for that exercise.  Prone back extensions are a good, non-equipment choice.  You lie on your stomach and slowly arch your lower back lifting your chin upward in a controlled manner.  Be careful not to jerk the movement or go too quickly.

In conclusion, core training is something almost every exerciser includes in their workout routine. No equipment is necessary to get the proper workout. Even when faced with a limited amount of time in your day, core training can be done quickly and efficiently and can go a long way into giving you a great body.

November 4, 2014
Lower Body Training
Posted on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 in Health & Fitness

Having a strong lower body is a very important aspect of health and fitness. A strong lower body stabilizes other parts of the body, especially the back. It also leads to healthier knee and hip health while also giving people a greater ability to maintain balance. All of these are reasons why exercisers should not focus solely on improving upper body strength. As legs are the largest muscles of the body, working the legs provides the exerciser with many metabolic benefits, such as greater ongoing calorie burning. There are many exercises that can be performed to improve lower body strength. These include exercises with and without machines.

Some exercises without machines are squats, Romanian deadlifts, lunges, box jumps, jumping rope, hip raises, and leg raises. Free weights (dumbbells and barbells) can be added to squats and lunges in order to provide extra resistance.

Some exercises with machines are: leg extension (work the quads), leg curls (work the hamstrings), calf raises, and the leg press.

Use a variety of these movements to continue to force your lower body to adapt and improve.

October 21, 2014
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 in Health & Fitness

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has recently become one of the most popular ways for exercisers to burn fat. HIIT increases metabolism and works both the aerobic (oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) energy systems. HIIT can be just as effective as a regular workout except it takes less time. The #1 reason people say they do not exercise is because they do not have enough time in their day, but HIIT can take less than 10 minutes to perform. Another great aspect about HIIT is that no equipment is needed. Listed below are a couple of HIIT programs you can try.

Walk or jog for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of sprinting. Repeat 6 or 7 times with no rest periods in between. Gradually increase the rounds performed as the number you complete become progressively easier.

You could also use HIIT training with calisthenics.  Perform 10 repetitions of sit-ups, followed by 10 repetitions of push-ups, followed by 10 repetitions of jumping jacks. You can substitute other exercises such as squats or triceps dips as well, depending on which muscle groups you want to focus on.  In this case you could increase both the number of rounds and the repetitions per set to make the workouts more intense over time.

This workout format is not for beginners.  You should have at least an intermediate level of fitness before trying this type of training.  It is also imperative that you are warmed up prior to starting your session.  Five to ten minutes of walking on a treadmill should be sufficient in preparing the muscles for the intensive nature of this training.

For those who participate in martial arts classes or combat competition, this style of training is an excellent supplement to your activity.  It mirrors the intensity and duration of the training in mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, and boxing.

October 14, 2014
Posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 in Health & Fitness

Flexibility is the one of the most ignored aspects of fitness, yet it can be argued that it is the most important aspect of one’s well being.  Flexibility is needed to perform every day activities. Staying flexible allows for increased mobility and keeps the muscles/joints limber. In order to be fit and healthy, having as maximum a range of motion as possible is key. Flexibility reduces the risk of injury, especially back pain.

Two different types of ways to practice flexibility are static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching involves holding a stretch for a certain amount of time (usually 10 or 20 seconds). An example of this is bending over to touch your toes and holding for a 10-count. Dynamic stretching involves stretching where you are moving a joint back and forth. An example of this would be standing up and swinging your leg forward and backward.

Meditative activities such as yoga and pilates are fantastic ways to improve your flexibility. Working on flexibility does not take long at all, 5-10 minutes before and after exercise would suffice. Flexibility is an underrated aspect of health and fitness and should never be overlooked when exercising.  Make stretching a part of your every day fitness routine.  The earlier in life you start, much life saving money, the greater the “compound interest” you will enjoy via a better quality of life and well being due to more flexibility.

October 9, 2014
Exercises All Individuals Should Perform
Posted on Thursday, October 9, 2014 in Health & Fitness

Whether you belong to a gym or like to work out at home, certain exercises should be a part of your routine at least three days per week.

1.  Squat.  The squat is considered the best lower body exercise and can be performed with or without weights.  It benefits all areas of the lower body and benefits the heart due to its use of so many auxillary muscles.

2.  Push Ups.  This exercise works multiple body parts in the upper body and forces the core to keep the body steady.

3.  Crunches. Crunches are excellent for the abdominal area assisting in both core strength and improved posture.  Be cautious not to do full sit ups as they can cause stress and potential injury to the lumbar vertabrae.

4.  Mountain Climbers.  This exercise is a great conditioning calisthenic that uses muscles from many areas of the body and is great for heart health and cardiovascular conditioning.

5. Jumping Jacks.  This is another very good conditioning calisthenic that is beneficial to both cardiovascular and heart health.

The primary characteristic of these five movements is that they require no equipment, not too much space, and can be performed by nearly anyone that doesn’t suffer from an ongoing physical limitation.  Modifications can be made in all of these exercises so that individuals of different strength and fitness levels can benefit from these elements of fitness.

Initially, start with 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions with a break of 30-60 seconds between each set.  If you are unsure of your fitness level or physical capability, see a physician prior to starting this workout regiment.  If you are already of a higher fitness level, increase the sets and repetitions, and decrease the rest time to suit a higher intensity workout environment.

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