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Monthly Archives: March 2018

Lower Back Extension

If you sit on a chair all day, you may be experiencing tight or sore back muscles. To eliminate these nagging minor pains, perform this exercise 2-3 times per week consisting of 2 sets of 15 repetitions. This is an exercise also recommended by chiropractors and doctors. I’ve also seen variations of this exercise done in Pilates and Yoga. If you do constantly have back pains, it is advisable that you consult with your doctor before attempting this exercise.

Method of Performance

Lie down on a mat or carpet with your stomach to the floor, keep your arms and hands flat at your sides and legs extended like in a standing position, but lying down. Slowly raise yourself up from your torso as far as you can go but do not over-extend. Just to the point where you feel comfortable and you are receiving the maximum benefit. Remember to tighten your buttocks when lifting yourself from the ground and concentrate on working the lower back. Now slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Don’t forget to breathe. Do about 2 sets slowly consisting of 12-15 reps, 2 to 3 times per week.

Variations

This exercise can also be done on vertical benches or holding onto extra free weights. The exercise done on a vertical bench is much more difficult. Personally, I do not feel that it is necessary to perform this exercise on a vertical bench since doing it on the floor is just as effective and safer. Using a vertical bench may also put undue strain on your back.

Do Planks Daily

1. Mental Clarity and Focus

Yes! You will become mentally stronger as you add planks to your daily routine. It’s hard to hold a plank and think about a lot of other things. The pain from holding your body off the ground takes 100 percent of your mental attention. This allows you to clear your head of unwanted thoughts, stress from work, what to cook for dinner, and the list goes on. Even if you held a plank for 1 min every day, that’s 352 minutes of mental therapy a year.

2. Lengthen your Muscles

Since most people find themselves sitting for prolong periods of time due to work or lifestyle, the plank is a great exercise to lengthen your muscles from sitting. Tight hip flexors, rounded shoulders, and low back problems are all linked to sitting too much. Holding a plank will put your body in a position that extends the hips, promotes shoulder stability, and it can produce a stronger lower back. These reasons are more than enough to add planks to your life daily.

3. Location, Location, Location

While the plank can be done by anyone, it can also be done anywhere. There are no limitations and this allows you to be free. In the office, at the park, out in nature, at the gym, in your garage, or wherever you choose. I recall doing a plank on the Roberto Clemente bridge in Pittsburgh. By the way, it landed me a commercial. Take your plank wherever you go!

Better Calf Training

Half Reps Are An Excellent Idea. If you want to really up the ante of your calf training program, consider adding a few half reps into the mix. Half reps, where you move only through the top half of the range of motion, or if you are brave, the lower half, places enormous strain on your calf muscle because there is no point of relaxation in this rep range.

Usually, the best way to employ this technique is to perform ten full reps of your calf exercise and then move into ten reps or so of the half reps. Then, if you are not thoroughly exhausted, you can do another full ten reps to finish the muscles off.

Full Range Of Motion Is A Must. Next, make sure you are moving through the full range of motion: this means you are going beyond parallel. Many people do standing calf raises off the floor. While this is good to a degree, it will be far better if you let your feet drop below parallel: this gives you a much more significant stretch at the bottom of the exercise, which then translates to superior strength progression.

Try doing those calf raises off a step and see the difference that makes.

Take Balance Out Of The Exercise. You might think doing single leg calf raises while trying to balance is a great way to get more from this exercise. And, if your goal is stability or core strength, then it very well may be. But, if your goal is to build stronger calves, avoid doing single leg unsupported work.

The problem with single leg unsupported work is more of your energy is going into just balancing, which may mean you do not have the strength capability to lift the weight you want. Furthermore, if you are placing quite a load on your back as you do this, the chances of rolling your ankle and severely injuring yourself are also higher.

It is okay to do single leg work, but do it supported instead.

Do Seated And Standing Work. Finally, to hit your calves from all angles, consider doing seated and standing work. Each type of exercise is going to work the muscles from different angles and hit the soleus and gastroc muscle differently. Therefore, both should be in your plan.

If you apply these calf training tips, there is no question you will be seeing superior results and noticing this muscle take on a great shape in no time.

Overcome Workout Plateaus

New exercisers often see quick fitness results such as weight loss and increased muscle strength while engaging in the same workout day after day. However, after several weeks following their fitness routines and they often become frustrated as the gains begin to dwindle. Eventually dieters scales become frozen on the same number or weight lifters are stuck at the same weight size. They hit a plateau.

A plateau typically is the direct consequence of a fitness rut – when an exerciser performs the same workout over and over. The human body is very efficient and quickly adapts to work. Once the body practices the same activity repeatedly, it grows more proficient at performing those moves. So that means it requires less energy and therefore also burns less calories.

Instead of celebrating their body’s improved fitness capabilities, exercisers often abandon their workouts. And who can blame them? After all, they no longer are seeing the results they desire and become increasingly bored with their workouts. Plus, hitting a plateau not only can halt fitness gains, but it can even reverse previous successes. But, with just a few simple steps exercisers can easily break-through that brick wall and continue to reap all the rewards of regular physical activity.

Dodging the dreaded plateau is actually very easy. Variety is the key ingredient to continual fitness success. To avoid hitting a workout plateau, follow these recommendations.

To begin with, every workout routine should be changed about every 4-6 weeks. The modification doesn’t have to be dramatic. A totally new exercise is a possible option, but alteration of a current exercise can be just as effective.

A simple way to determine how to transform your current workout is using the F.I.T.T principle. F.I.T.T. stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. This strategy can be adopted for both cardio and resistance training.

Frequency – increase or decrease how often you workout

Intensity – increase or decrease the difficulty or level at which you workout.

Time – increase or decrease how long your workout sessions last.

Type – change the type of exercises you perform.

Frequency and Time are limited by an individual’s schedule as well as appropriate rest time to ensure maximum efficiency and safety. But Intensity and Type are really only limited by creativity and planning.

Cardio exercise intensity can easily be varied through speed, incline, distance, height, etc. And of course the types of exercises are practically endless, so exercisers should never have the excuse that they’ve exhausted their exercise options. Good cardio examples include: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, and more. In addition, combining several of these exercises into one workout session can be very effective. Try 10 minutes each of 3-4 unique exercises.