by Keila Chaliotis, Staff Writer
Getting in shape means leaning fat and toning muscles all over your body. A lot of people find one exercise they enjoy and do that over and over, and while being more fit than a couch potatoe, they aren’t really in shape. This guide can help you develop some specific workouts and exercises for specific muscle groups so that you can achieve a look of being totally in shape!
I know that you may have already noticed that I’m very strict on the stretch before you exercise rule so, here I bring you a nice warm routine that is sure to have you feeling great before running.
Carioca Quick Step
A carioca quick step simulates coming out of the lateral power motion. Start with your feet a couple of inches apart and your left arm up in a relaxed, athletic position. With your right foot, quick step behind and pull the knee up. Lunch your arms back up when you pull the right knee, being sure that your knee goes straight up and down. Try not to turn your feet as you move and continue to look forward as you move to the side.
Place yourself on your hands and knees on the ground. Keep a good posture and raise one bent knee off of the ground. This will be your starting position. Leaving the knee in a bent position, rotate the femur in an arc, trying to make a big circle with your knee. Make sure to practice this slowly for a number of repetitions, and repeat on the other side.
To start, sit down on the abductor machine and select a weight you are used to. Once your legs are placed properly, hold the handles on each side. Your complete upper body, from the waist up, should be stationary. Now, slowly press against the machine with your legs to move them away from each other while exhaling. Take your time to feel the contraction for a second and begin to move your legs back to the starting position while breathing in. Always remember to keep your upper body stationary to prevent any injuries from occurring.
Groin and Back Stretch
Sit down on the floor with your knees bent, feet together, and, interlock your fingers behind your head. Now, curl downwards, bringing your elbows to the inside of your thighs. After a quick pause, return to the starting position with your head up and your back straight. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
Side Leg Raise
To hold onto as support, place a chair next to you and stand on one leg. Keeping your leg straight, lift it as far out to the side as possible, and swing it back down, allowing it to cross the opposite leg. Repeat this swinging motion 5-10 times, increasing the range of motion as you do so.
Lay on your side, with the bottom leg placed onto a foam roller between the hip and the knee. The other leg can be crossed in front of you. Put as much of your weight as possible onto your bottom leg. There is no need to keep your bottom leg in contact with the floor. Be sure to relax your muscles in the leg you are stretching. Last, roll your leg over the foam from your hip to your knee, pausing for 10-30 seconds at points of tension. Continue to repeat with the opposite leg.
In this exercise, you will need a partner to help you carry out the exercise correctly. Lie on your back with your legs extended and cross one leg over your body with the knee bent, attempting to touch the knee to the floor. Your partner should kneel beside you, holding your shoulder down with one hand and controlling the crossed leg with the other. Try to lift the bent knee off of the floor as your partner prevents any actual movement. After 10-20 seconds, relax your leg as your partner gently presses the knee towards the floor. Repeat with the other side. These warm up exercises are a key fundamental of working-out effectively. Apply them to your workout routine and make them part of your daily life whenever possible. Remember that, a warned soldier won’t die in the battle, and the same way it should be with a fitness participant because knowing how to prevent a workout injury, there is no reason for why you should find yourself having to take injury rest all the time.
Traps are the muscles that found right above the shoulders. These muscles are kind of hard to focus on because of their size, but not impossible. It feels nice to walk around with nice and fit traps that help keep your upper body in a high plus elegant posture. But, these types of muscles require a dedicated and well planned workout routine and that is why I have set up a great combination of four exercises that are fit for shaping your traps just how you´d like them.
Set your body in a stand up straight position with your feet at shoulder width as you hold a barbell with both hands in front of you using a strong grip with your palms facing your thighs. Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder width apart. If needed, use wrist wraps for this exercise for a better grip.
Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go as you breathe out and hold there for a second, but try to refrain from trying to lift the barbell by using your biceps. Then, slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in. You can also rotate your shoulders as you go up, going in a semicircular motion from front to rear. But, keep in mind that this version is not good for people with shoulder problems. In addition, this exercise can be practiced with the barbell behind the back, with dumbbells by the side, a smith machine or with a shrug machine.
Stand firm with a dumbbell on each hand with your palms facing your torso and arms extended on the sides. Lift the dumbbells by lifting up your shoulders as high as possible while you exhale. Hold at the top for a second. Your arms should remain extended at all times. Again, refrain from using your biceps to help lift the dumbbells. Only the shoulders should be moving up and down. Lower the dumbbells back to the original position. You can practice this exercise with bands, barbells or cables. You can also use a single handle and work one side at a time.
For this exercise, you will need a cable bar attachment that is attached to a low pulley with a shoulder width or slightly wider overhand grip and with your palms facing down. Stand straight close to the pulley with your arms extended in front of you holding the bar. Lift your bar by elevating the shoulders as high as possible as you exhale. Hold there at the top for a second.
Your arms should be extended at all times. And once again, refrain from using your biceps to help lift the bar. Only the shoulders should be moving up and down. When finished with the first rep, lower the bar back to the original position and repeat. You can practice this exercise with bands, barbells or dumbbells. You can also use a single handle and work one side at a time.
Smith Machine Upright Row
To start, set the bar on the smith machine to a height that is near the middle of your thighs. Once the correct height is chosen and the bar is loaded with the weight of your choice, grasp the bar using a strong grip with your palms forward and shoulder width apart. You may need some wrist wraps if using a significant amount of weight.
Bring the barbell up and fully extend your arms with your back straight. You should keep a slight bend at the elbows. Now, use your side shoulders to lift the bar as you exhale. The bar should be close to your body as you move it up. Continue to lift it until it nearly touches your chin. Your elbows should drive the motion and they should always be higher than your forearms. Also, keep your torso stationary and pause for a second at the top of the movement. When finished, lower the bar back down slowly to the starting position. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement and repeat the same process over again.
Ok, now that I have given you a short list of exercises that you can start off with, you are well on your way to building strong and lean traps. But, be very careful with how much weight you use in these exercises. Too much weight can lead to bad form, which in turn can cause shoulder injury. Many times before, I have seen this so, please no jerking, swinging and cheating. Oh! And, if you are a victim of shoulder problems, you should stay away from upright rows and substitute with some type of lateral raises.
The more strength you have in your quads, the better you function physically and the less pain you will feel in the knees from running about all day. In fact, the overall benefits go to the knee area while exercising your quads. Are you ready to work hard for better results on your quad muscles? If you are, here are some exercises to try out as you read along:
First, let us start with doing some essential stretching. Drop to the floor on your hands and knees, then lift your leg off the floor and hold the foot with your hand. The side you start with is all up to you. Now in position, use your hand to sustain your foot or ankle, keeping the knee flexed, stretching the quadriceps and hip flexors. Try to focus on extending your hips, thrusting them towards the floor and hold for 10-20 seconds and then switch sides.
Stack some weights up on a sled and tie a rope or straps to the sled in order to hold onto. Once set, grab the rope/straps and pull the sled walking backwards. Lean back and extend the legs for short steps to move as quickly as possible. Choose a place with nice terrain, no rocks, and no bumps.
Barbell Full Squat
For your own safety purposes, this exercise should be done inside a squat rack. Once the correct height is chosen and you have the bar loaded, step under the bar and place the back of your shoulders, just below the neck, across it.
Hold on to the bar using both arms at each side and lift it off the rack by first pushing with your legs and at the same time straightening your torso. Step away from the rack and place your legs using a shoulder-width medium stance with the toes barely pointing out. Remember to keep your head up at all times and maintain a straight back. This will be your starting position. Start lowering the bar by bending the knees and sitting back with your hips as you maintain a straight posture with the head up. Continue down until your hamstrings are on your calves. Inhale as you act out this portion of the movement. Now, start to raise the bar as you exhale by pushing the floor with the heel or middle of your foot as you straighten the legs and extend the hips to go back to the starting position.
Due to foot position and the higher bar position, this type of squat allows a greater range of motion, and allows the trunk to maintain a more vertical position than other types of squats.
Barbell Side Split Squat
Stand up straight while holding a barbell placed on the back of your shoulder just below the neck. Place your feet wide apart with the foot of the lead leg angled out to the side. This will be the position from which you will start from. Now, lower your body towards the side of your angled foot by bending the knee and hip of your lead leg and while keeping the opposite leg slightly bent. Remember to breathe in as you lower your body. Return to the starting position by extending the hip and knee of the lead leg. Again, remember to breathe out as you perform this movement, and after performing the recommended amount of reps, repeat the movement with the opposite leg. You can also practice this exercise with dumbbells.
Alright, I’ll give you a break now. If you do not have the time or are not feeling up to the task, try bicycling for 30 to 45 minutes each day and maintain a good diet, plus make sure to always leave day in between for rest. Before you hop onto your bicycle and ride off like you are used to, seat yourself on the bike and adjust the seat to your height. Remember that you have to suit up with protective gear to avoid possible injury and make sure that you are courteous to vehicles and pedestrians, and that you obey the rules of the road. Now, I personally would prefer if those of you who have been reading along, to try out the first three exercises before taking the easy way out. But, first, consult it with your general doctor.
Your hamstrings are a large muscle group located in the back of your thigh. All three hamstring muscles are used in daily activities, such as running, biking and walking, as they help us to control flexion of the knee. Benefits of a hamstring workout includes building muscle to increase power and strength, to help reduce the chances of injury and to increase muscle structure and tone. Usually, a hamstring workout should focus on flexibility as well as strength.
A main benefit of hamstring workouts is building strength to reduce the chances of injury. Hamstring injuries are an athlete’s greatest fears and more than many other types due to the intense pain and long recovery period. A hamstring workout can’t stop injuries from occurring completely, but it can certainly help reduce the chances. Hamstring flexibility is often poor in certain athletes like runners, which is why regular stretching, often at least once a day for thirty seconds, is important.
Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring down the weights to the floor by flexing at the hips and knees, pushing your hips back until the dumbbells reach the ground.
To start the exercise, violently jump upward by extending the hips, knees, and ankles to speed the weights upward. Keeping a neutral hold on the dumbbells, keep your arms straight until full extension is reached. After reaching full extension, rebend your hips and knees to receive the weight in a squat position. Permit your arms to bend, guiding the dumbbells to your shoulders. As soon as you receive the weight in the squat position, extend your hips and knees to finish in a standing position with the weights on your shoulders.
Kettlebell Hang Clean
Locate a kettlebell between your feet. To place yourself in the starting position, push your butt back and look straight ahead. Now, clean the kettlebell to your shoulders by extending through the legs and hips as you bring up the kettlebell towards your shoulder. Your wrist should rotate as you do so. Then, lower the kettlebell to a hanging position between your legs while keeping your hamstrings loaded. Always keep your head up.
Ball Leg Curl
Begin on the floor laying on your back with your feet on top of the ball. Position the ball so that when your legs are extended your ankles are on top of the ball. This will be your starting position. Raise your hips off of the ground, keeping your weight on the shoulder blades and your feet. Flex the knees, pulling the ball as close to you as you can, contracting the hamstrings. After a brief pause, return to the starting position.
Kettlebell One-legged Deadlift
Sustain a kettlebell by the handle on one hand and stand on one leg, on the same side that you hold the kettlebell. Maintaining that knee slightly bent; perform a stiff legged dead lift by bending at the hip, and extending your free leg behind you for balance. Keep lowering the kettlebell until you are parallel to the ground, and then return to your upright position.
Open Palm Kettlebell Clean
Locate a kettlebell between your feet. Clean the kettlebell by extending through the legs and hips as you lift the kettlebell towards your shoulders. Let go of the kettlebell as it comes up, and let it flip so that the ball of the kettlebell lands in the palms of your hands. Let go of the kettlebell out in front of you and catch the handle with both hands. Lower the kettlebell to your starting position and repeat.
Knee Tuck Jump
Start in a comfortable standing position with your knees slightly bent. Sustain your hands in before you, with palms down, and your fingertips together at chest height. Now, rapidly dip down into a quarter squat and immediately explode upward. Drive your knees towards your chest, attempting to touch them to the palms of your hands. Next, jump as high as you can, lifting your knees up, and then making sure land good, re-extend your legs, to absorb impact and allowing the knees to rebend. Make sure to use the proper equipment, stretch before acting, and consult your health conditions with your doctor.
Have you been spending too much time focusing on toning your arms, chest, abs, and in the process have forgotten about your back muscles? As we all should know, our legs are the foundation of our entire body, but our back muscles also play an important role in our body to help keep it firm. Having a strong back improves posture. It is essential to overall body strength and it can even help us do more forms of ab and chest exercises by providing extra stability and support. If you are one of those who has forgotten to give attention to your back muscles, here is how you can get started right away.
Check the following stretches and exercises out and see if you can fit them into your workout routine if you already haven’t.
Position yourself on the floor with your hands and knees. Once in position, pull your stomach in round your spine, lower back, shoulders, and neck, letting your head drop. Hold in place for as long as 15 seconds.
Get on your hands and knees, walk your hands in front of you. Now, lower your buttocks to sit on your heels. Let your arms drag along the floor as you you sit back and stretch your entire spine. Once you settle into your heels, bring your hands next to your feet and relax. Breathe into your back and rest your forehead on the floor. If you have knee problems, avoid this exercise.
Alternating kettlebell row
Place two kettle bells on the floor and in front of your feet. Slightly bend your knees and push your butt out as much as possible. As you bend over into the starting position, grab both kettle bells by the handles and pull one off the floor at a time meanwhile holding onto the other on the floor. Retract the shoulder blade of the working side, as you flex the elbow, drawing the kettle bell towards your stomach or rib cage. Repeat the same process with the other side.
Hyper extensions (back extensions)
This exercise targets the lower section of your back and the equipment used is a bench press. Place a regular bench press bench in front of you the long way. With someone holding your feet in place, lie across the bench with your body hanging from waist up. Allow your upper body to drop down and slowly lift back up. Hold up top for 10 seconds. Do 5 sets of 10 reps.
This exercise targets the lats, which is part of your upper back and the equipment used is a pull up bar. Position yourself underneath the bar and reach up to grab onto it with your hands at shoulder’s width. Then, crossing your feet behind you, lift yourself up chin high. Hold place up top for 5 seconds and come back down slowly. Do 10 sets with reps of 10.
Chin to Chest
Get into a seated position on the floor and place both your hands behind your head. With your fingers inter locked, thumbs pointing down, and elbows pointing straight ahead, slowly pull your head down to your chest. Hold there for 20 to 30 seconds.
Seated Head Harness Neck Resistance
This exercise targets the neck and the equipment used is a weight tied up by a chain that is hooked on a head grasp which you place on your head. Seat yourself on a bench with your legs at shoulder’s width. Lean your upper body forward up until it is kind of parallel to the ground and then bend your neck up until your chin is touching your chest. Place the weight over your head and slowly lift up your neck to the point of being fully extent. Hold for 5 seconds and bring it back down gently. Do 5 sets with reps of 5.Remember to be really cautious when practicing any of these exercise. Always carry the equipment necessary, follow all procedure at all times, and stretch before hand.
The shoulder area is a very complex one. Your shoulder muscles are actually a group of muscles that support your shoulder joint and allow for the movement in your shoulders to be possible. Many are the muscle parts of this group. The deltoid is the main muscle of the shoulder, which is the large muscle that wraps around the top of the shoulder from front to back. Other shoulder muscles included are the trapezium, which is the large diamond shaped muscle that runs along the surface of your back over the top of your rib cage and the subscapularis and infraspinatus muscles, which support the scapula and attach underneath the deltoids.
What are the benefits of training your shoulder muscles?
Strong shoulders can help to improve your posture, but that is not the only benefit. When you combine shoulder strengthening exercises with shoulder stretches, it also provides you the strength and flexibility to easily perform everyday tasks. Having strong shoulders can also help to prevent injuries to your rotator cuff.
Handstand Push Ups
Place your back against the wall, bend at the waist, and place both hands on the floor at shoulder width. Walk or kick yourself up against the wall with your arms straight. Your body should be upside down with your arms and legs fully extended. Try to keep your whole body as straight as possible.
I recommend a spotter to help you out if you are a beginner with this exercise. You should also, make sure that you keep facing the wall with your head, rather than looking down. Slowly lower yourself to the ground as you inhale until your head is just about touching the floor. Keep in mind that, it is of utmost importance that you come down slow in order to avoid head injury. You don’t want to hit your head hard on the floor.
Slowly, push yourself back up as you exhale until your elbows are nearly locked. Make sure that the floor surface is not slippery and also, if performing for the first time, use a spotter until you get good at practice.
Seated Front Deltoid
In this workout you will need a partner. When picking a partner for any exercise, make sure it is someone that is fully informed of the possible injuries that may occur if you are not careful or if you are fooling around.
Take an upright seated position on the floor with your legs bent, your partner standing behind you. Stick your arms straight out to your sides, with your palms facing the ground. Try to move them as far behind you as possible, as your assistant holds your wrists. This will be your starting position.
Maintaining your elbows straight, try to move your arms to the front and have your partner gently restrain you to prevent any actual movement for 10-20 seconds. Now, relax your muscles and allow your partner to gently increase the stretch on the shoulders and chest. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
In this workout, you will require a weight plate or a medicine ball if you do not have a weight. Hold a barbell plate in both hands at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions while standing upright. Your palms should be facing each other and your arms should be extended straight out in front of you. This is the starting position that you will take. Initiate the movement by rotating the plate as far to one side as possible. If you are not sure of what you should do or not, recall and use the same type of movement you would use to turn a steering wheel to one side. Reverse the motion, turning it all the way to the opposite side.
Want to have a buffed chest and set fire to the streets as you walk by? Want chicks to dig the fit and ripped chest muscles? Well, now is the time, the time to plan a workout routine and put those chest muscles to the test.
Remember that the chest area is a very complex one due to the many muscles it has. So, this means that we will have to work hard and with determination to bring out the best in our chest. I have set up this workout that is sure to bring out firm and toned muscles in your chest, but first, let us stretch those muscles out.
Standing with your hands together and extend your arms directly in front of you. While keeping your arms straight, quickly move your arms back as far as possible and back in again. This is similar to an exaggerated clapping motion. Try to repeat this 5 to 10 times, increasing speed as you go along.
Alternating Floor Press
This is a form of doing some chest press when there is no bench to work on or any weights. Lie on the floor with two kettlebells next to your shoulders. Place one on your chest and then the other, holding the kettlebells from the handles with your palms facing forward.
Now, extend both arms, so that the kettlebells are being held above your chest. Lower one kettlebell, bringing it to your chest and turn your wrist in the direction of the locked out kettlebell. Lift the kettlebell and repeat on the opposite side.
Barbell Bench Press
You will need a flat bench for this workout and barbell weights. Lie back on the bench. Using a medium width grip, a grip that creates a 90-degree angle in the middle of the movement between the forearms and the upper arms, bring up the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms semi locked. You don’t want to lock your arms out completely, because you can risk getting an injury. Now, breathe in and begin coming down slowly until the bar touches your middle chest.
After a quick pause, push the bar back to the starting position as you breathe out. Set your mind on pushing the bar using only your chest muscles. Semi-lock your arms and squeeze your chest in the contracted position at the top of the motion, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again. Try to take the same time it takes you to lift the barbell up, to lower it. Be careful to not use more weight than you can manage and if possible, use a spotter to serve you as support. Also, don’t bounce the weight off your chest and keep the bar from drifting to far forward.
Incline Dumbbell Flyes
Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and lie on an incline bench that is set to an incline angle of no more than 30 degrees. Once you are lying down, extend your arms above you with a slight bend at the elbows and rotate your wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing you. Keep in mind that your pinky fingers should be next to each other.
As you breathe in, start to slowly lower your arms to the side while keeping them extended and while rotating your wrists until the palms of your hands are facing each other.
As you exhale start to bring the dumbbells back up to their starting position by reversing the motion and rotating your hands so that the pinky fingers are next to each other again. Keep in mind that the movement will only happen at the shoulder joint and at the wrist. There is no motion that happens at the elbow joint.
Wide Grip Decline Bench Press
In this exercise, you will also need a bench to lie on, but the only difference is that it will be a decline bench.
Lie back on the decline bench with your feet securely locked at the front of it. Using a wide, strong hold that is around 3 inches away from shoulder width, for each hand, lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked. The bar will be perpendicular to your torso and the floor. Now, as you breathe in, come down slowly until you feel the bar on your lower chest.
After a second pause, bring the bar back to the starting position as you breathe out and push the bar using your chest muscles. Semi-lock your arms and squeeze your chest in the contracted position, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again.
Caution: The same safety procedures are to be followed in this exercise as it is in the barbell bench press!
To get yourself started, locate the pulleys on a high position, which should be above your head, select the resistance to be used and hold the pulleys in each hand.
Step forward in front of a leis pretend straight line between both pulleys while pulling your arms together in front of you. You should have a small forward bend at the torso from the waist.
Ok, now with a slight bend on your elbows in order to prevent stress at the biceps tendon, extend your arms to the side, straight out at both sides, in a wide arc until you feel a pull on your chest. Inhale as you perform this portion of the exercise. Oh, and keep in mind that throughout the exercise, your arms and torso should remain stationary – the movement should only happen at the shoulder joint.
After trying it out for the first rep, return your arms back to the starting position as you exhale. Make sure to use the same arc of motion used to lower the weights. Hold for a second at the starting position and repeat the exercise for the amount of reps that you are able to do.
These types of exercises require you to be very careful as you practice them in order to prevent injury so, please keep in mind to follow each procedure to the T!
Forearm workout is a subject that is not usually focused on when exercise are spoken about, but it is a key fundamental to the strength and muscles we are able to build up on the rest of our arm. In arm wrestling, forearms play a very important role in the determination of who wins the match. That’s why these types of sports men have a type of workout that is a key part of the way that they build stronger forearm muscles to put up a great fight and even win the match!
Cable wrist curl
First, let´s start by placing a flat bench in front of a low pulley cable and make sure that it has a straight bar attachment. Reach out and grab the cable bar with a narrow to shoulder width supinated grip. With palms up, bring them up so that your forearms are resting against the top of your thighs. Your wrists should be hanging just beyond your knees. Start off by curling your wrist upwards and exhaling. Hold there at that position for a second. Then, slowly lower your wrists back down to the starting position while inhaling.
Your wrist is the only movement needed to perform this exercise so; your forearms should be stationary. This exercise can also be practiced by sitting down by kneeling and using the bench as a resting position for your forearms. Your wrist can hang over the bench and the same movements as mentioned above can be performed. Dumbbells can be used instead of a barbell.
Seated Dumbbell Palms-Up Wrist Curl
Place two dumbbells on the floor in front of a flat bench. Sit down on the edge of the flat bench with your legs at about shoulder width apart. Make sure to maintain your feet on the ground. Grab both of the dumbbells and bring them up so that your forearms are resting against your thighs with the palms of your hands facing up. Your wrists should be hanging over the edge of your thighs. Begin by curling your wrist upwards and exhaling. Slowly lower your wrists back down to the starting position while inhaling. Make sure to inhale during this part of the exercise.
Your forearms should be stationary as your wrist is the only movement needed to perform this exercise. When finished, simply lower the dumbbells to the floor. This exercise can also be practiced using a barbell instead of a dumbbell. You can also focus on one arm at a time to isolate the forearms.
Standing Palms-Up Barbell behind the Back Wrist Curl
Stand in an upright form and hold a barbell behind your glutes at arm’s length while using a pronated hold. Your palms will be facing back away from the glutes and your hands should be at shoulder width apart from each other.
Focus on a straight forward look while placing your feet at shoulder width apart from each other. This is the starting position. While exhaling, slowly lift the barbell by curling your wrist in a semi-circular motion towards the ceiling. Concentrate on allowing your wrist to be the only body part moving for this exercise. Hold there for a second and lower the barbell back down to the starting position while inhaling. When finished, lower the barbell down to the squat rack or the floor by bending the knees.
Picking the barbell up from a squat rack or asking a partner to hand it to you could be easier to do. You can also practice this exercise with dumbbells using the same movements as described above. Another option is to use one dumbbell at a time for better isolation.
These three exercises are only a part of the many workouts that can be done to tone and strengthen your forearm muscles. For more exercises, try logging onto the web and see if there any other exercises that can become a part of your workout routine.
Don’t forget! Check with your doctor to see if these types of exercises are suitable for you and if not, ask to see what your alternatives are.