Quadriceps


Injury Free ‘bell Workouts

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on March 6, 2011

For most folks, it’s a real pleasure to stroll along a golf course. But pleasure quickly turns to panic when you hear thunder in the distance. After all, you have a 576000 to 1 chance of being struck by lightning if you wander around outside in the rain. If you like to wander around in the rain, you radically increase your chance of being hit by lightning; it’s no secret.

However, if you like to work out with kettlebells, I’d assume that your odds of getting an injury — either a serious injury like a slipped disc in your back, or hopefully something less serious like bruises — were a lot greater. In fact, members on one popular kettlebell forum estimated that, in the 1st year of working out with kettlebells, 1 in 6 kettlebell enthusiasts suffers injury that puts them out of commission for a week or more.

But don’t get me wrong. Kettlbells are not particularly conducive to injury in and of themselves. The main idea I want to get across to you is that parts of the design can be better. Let me expand on this by giving a few examples.

Bruising of the forearms bothers just about everyone who starts with kettlebells. Avoiding these forearm bruises is difficult (if not impossible), because of the way the ‘bell swings into the arm during overhead movements. Since the kettlebell is round, it hits your forearm almost like a point. Even if your kettlebell isn’t moving very fast, it still hits hard. It’s like getting hit by a rounded baseball bat, you can’t avoid bruising from even a moderate impact. But picture a kettlebell with flat sides instead of round surfaces. Instead of feeling like you forearm bones got tapped by a baseball bat, you’d feel like the energy of the impact was distributed across a much larger area. You’d be much better off because it would be like taking the impact from a flat board instead of from a round bat or pole. Bruises would be banished from your workouts forever.

I have good news for you. An adjustable kettlebell with a modern design like the Ironmaster kettlebell handle has flat sides instead of spherical. This makes your workouts sustainable and suitable for the long-term because the kettlebell is designed with ergonomics in mind. With a properly-designed kettlebell, you can go through your workout and not get bruised up as if you got smacked with a Louisville slugger baseball bat. .

People suffer with injuries when they really don’t need to. Here’s another way. Lots of kettlebell athletes get blisters and other hand injuries because traditional bells have large, thick handles that are not very comfortable to grip. Let me explain whey older kettlebells have such terrible handles.

When a kettlebell is made from cast iron, the handle needs to be thick enough to resist cracking when it’s dropped from shoulder height. They made their bells with thick handles to prevent them from breaking. That’s right — in order to prevent the kettlebells from possibly cracking when they were dropped from shoulder height, the handles needed to be stubby and thick. But that’s not the way things are in modern times. Things are better now…

Modern kettelbells are built with thinner steel handles. Steel is forged instead of cast in a mold. That means it can be thinner and stronger, and shaped to fit the hand.

Today’s kettlebells are built with proper grip in mind. They don’t destroy the hands and palms like thick-grip bells. You can grip them tight during pulls, or let them find their natural orientation during swings and presses. Basically, you have options that are lacking in old-style stubby kettlebells.

You have to get off the golf course when you hear thunder in the distance, that’s obvious. But now you know that you can reduce your chance of getting injured by a kettlebell if you go for a modern adjustable kettlebell. Today’s designs are better than their predecessors, and that means you’ll work out more often and more safely.

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What are the best biceps exercises?

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on January 1, 2011
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There are a ton of biceps exercises available for you to choose from. Here are some of the issues involved in picking the best biceps exercises.

Compound versus isolation exercises

Some exercises are compound exercises. That is, they work more than one muscle group and involve several joints. An example of a compound exercise that works the biceps is a pull up. It involves your biceps muscles, but it also works the back and the grip. There are many, many chin-up variations for you to choose from.

Isolation exercises work a single muscle, and only one joint is involved in the movement. Biceps curls are isolation exercises. The biceps muscle is isolated as much as possible, and the elbow joint is the only joint in motion.

Stretched, contracted, or mid-way

Some bodybuilders like to work the biceps 3 different ways.

  • Concentrating on the stretched part of the movement
  • The weight at its heaviest mid-way through the movement
  • Focusing on the contracted part of the movement

Here are some examples:

Stretched

Preacher curls using an ez-curl bar and a preacher bench. The maximum weight is ‘felt’ when the biceps muscle is at a fully extended — stretched — position.

Mid-way

Regular standing dumbbell or barbell curls put the most weight on the biceps when the muscle is about halfway between fully stretched and fully contracted.

Contracted

Something like a concentration curl will put the majority of the stress on the biceps when the muscle is fully contracted at the top of the movement.

Don’t overwork your biceps

Until your arms get big — like 16 inches or more — there’s not much reason to concentrate on your biceps to the exclusion of other areas of your body. It’s best to work on your back rather than you biceps (if you are pressed for time). Once you get big, then you can begin to specialize and prioritize the upper arms.

Weight Lifting Belts And Squats

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on November 20, 2010
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high-bar back squat

Do you have lower-back muscles like this? If not, you can benefit from using a weight lifting belt

Squats are a great exercise for building full-body strength. But for untrained individuals, they can be hard on the lower back.

Most adults who are trying to make the transition from a relatively sedentary lifestyle to that of a fitness enthusiast are not flexible enough to squat properly. This is especially true when they try to squat with a loaded barbell across their back.

Until you develop proper mobility in your joints — and flexibility in your hamstrings — your squats will wrench your lower back out of alignment. That’s not good.

Weight training and flexibility training are two sides of the same coin. You can’t improve as a weight lifter unless you simultaneously work on your flexibility.

But if you’re fully flexible, with proper mobility in all your joints during the weight lifting movements like the squat, you can still have lower-back problems. This is because the lower back is the weak link that holds back your ability to squat ever-increasing poundages.

That’s where a weight lifting belt and squats are two sides of another important coin. With a weight lifting belt, you take a lot of stress off your lower back muscles. This means you can lift more weight, since the other parts of your body that are heavily involved in the squat usually get stronger and more capable much more quickly than the muscles of the lower back.

So to get better at squats, keep two things in mind: you need to be sufficiently flexible, and once you are flexible, you can benefit from wearing a weight lifting belt to give your slow-growing lower-back muscles a rest during some of your squat workouts.

Exercises to get you ripped: Workout secrets

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on August 7, 2010
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When you want workouts to get ripped, you don’t need to go to some secret bootcamp somewhere and do bizarre moves that few people know. All you really need to do is burn off that last stubborn layer of body fat while maintaining your muscle mass. And the best way to do this is to do the same things done by athletes who require this sort of super-lean physique. Boxers and wrestlers — for instance — need to be as strong as possible without going over a pre-set weight limit. And this means they know exercises to get you ripped.

Get ripped by keeping the muscles active

It’s not enough to (for instance) hit the treadmill an hour per day. That will probably lean you out, but it will also lead to muscle atrophy in the upper body.

What you need are workouts that stress all your muscles with high reps. Full-body workouts to get you ripped that don’t neglect any body parts.

Here are some examples:

Kettlebell Swings

If you have access to a kettlebell, there’s no better kettlebell exercise than the swing. It’s fairly simple to learn — especially when you plan to use high reps — and it really works.

Use a wide handle kettlebell if at all possible, because you want to use two hands. If that isn’t an option, use a regular kettlebell one-handed, and switch hands often. Or, use a dumbbell and perform one-handed dumbbell swings.

No matter which variation of this exercise you choose, you’ll get good results if you incorporate it into your workouts. It’s a great fat-burning, muscle-sparing exercise.

Burpees

This funny-sounding exercise is like a squat-thrust with a little something extra.

  1. Squat down
  2. Thrust your legs out straight until you’re in the plank position
  3. Do a pushup
  4. Jump back to the squat position
  5. Do a jump-squat
  6. Repeat immediately

Burpees are not for the faint of heart. They’ll fatigue you very quickly unless you’re in top shape. If you’re not quite there yet, stick to regular squat-thrusts like you learned in gym class.

Barbell complexes

Take a light barbell (or two light dumbbells) and use it to work your entire body in one super-duper workout that’ll get you ripped.

Try cleaning the barbell to your collarbones. Then immediately squat down and up again. Then press it overhead.

This is a simple barbell complex that will get the blood flowing. It works just about the entire body (push, pull, and squat) and puts a lot of stress on the cardiopulminary system, which is just what you want when you want to get shredded.

So there you have it: three simple moves that you can add into your workouts to work your entire body and boost your cardio endurance. Have at it and don’t be afraid to perspire!

Pushups: 5 tips for perfect technique

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on July 24, 2010

There is no such thing as a one size fits all pushup technique that is perfect for everyone. But there are some guidelines that apply equally well to everyone. And here they are, in 5 easy pointers that’ll have you doing pushups like a pro in no time at all:

1 – Comfort

If you drop down and do some push-ups without really thinking about it, you’ll naturally settle into a groove — comfortable exercise form that suits your body type, limb length, preexisting injuries, etc.

Unless you have a really good reason for doing so, avoid unnatural hand placements or body position during pull-ups. Advanced athletes can benefit from unorthodox push-up variations, but when you’re trying to make progress in the basic exercise, stick to what works.

2 – Alignment

Keep your shoulders, hips and ankles in a straight line. There can be a temptation to stick the rear end in the air, or to let your middle sag into a swayback position.

Avoid both extremes and keep yourself ramrod straight.

If you really have a hard time keeping your body straight during press-ups, work on your lower-back strength by performing some plank holds.

3 – Legs together

Make sure your feet are together when you do the exercise. It can be tempting to keep the feet spread apart, but this is less than ideal because it makes it easier to keep your body from falling to either side.

With your legs together, you’ll be working on torso stabilization as well as triceps, shoulders and chest strength.

4 – Soft elbows

Don’t lock your elbows out hard at the top of the push-up.

There is no good reason to risk hyperextension of the elbow joint. High-rep sets of pushups put you at risk for this sort of injury — especially when you get fatigued — so keep in mind that the elbow joints should remain soft at the top.

5 – Even breathing

If you are not breathing easily and evenly, something is probably wrong with your form. Your breathing shouldn’t call attention to itself while you’re doing pushups.

Most people breathe out when they go up and in when they go down. But feel free to take some extra breaths if necessary.

How to keep your yoga mat clean

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on July 20, 2010
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Yoga mats: keep them clean and they last longer. Plus, it’s nicer to use a clean mat.

When it needs washing

As with most things, clean it with soap and water.

Use warm water, dishwashing liquid, and a soft brush (or a lint-free rag). To avoid making a mess, do this in the bathtub or shower (it’s easier than washing a dog!). Hang it to dry, but keep it out of the sun. Never, ever put it in the clothes dryer.

Need some extra oomph to clean your yoga mat?

You might try this:

Mix some white vinegar and warm water and use it to wipe off your mat.

If you’re the sort who doesn’t care about keeping it all-natural, feel free to substitute a bit of bleach in warm water, instead of vinegar.

Lemony freshness

When your yoga mat starts to take on an unpleasant odor, make sure to clean it. But if you clean it and it still smells, try this:

Mix a bit of lemon juice with water in a spray bottle. Use this lemon water as a handy yoga-mat deodorant. Some people really enjoy this, others can’t be bothered.

Don’t be part of the problem

Always wash your hands and feet with soap and water before using your yoga mat.

There’s no sense in introducing oil and dirt to the mat if you can avoid it with a quick, 30-second wash up.

Stay clean

Don’t use oils or creams before yoga practice. If it’s on you, it’ll eventually end up on your yoga mat. And you don’t want that.

Of course, always make sure you don’t have anything like that on your hands and feet during yoga.

Don’t sweat it

Keep the yoga mat free of perspiration during yoga practice. Wipe it down liberally with a cotton towel during your yoga sessions.

Keep dry

If you’re really perspiring, you can look into using a rosin bag. This increases the friction between your feet (or hands) and the mat. Increased friction means less slipping.

Looking for a new yoga mat? Check out exercise mats for an overview of all the styles of mat available, and why you’ll benefit from getting the sort of mat that suits your own personal style.

Exercise Balls: Quick Tips For Beginners

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on March 26, 2010
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Exercise balls (sometimes called Swiss balls) are those large, pliant rubber balls that have gained favor in recent years among fitness addicts who are looking for a quality core workout. I’m sure you’ve seen them, but do you know how to use one during your exercise sessions?

To get a good core workout, you need to strengthen the musculature of your abdominals and lower back. That goes without saying. But it’s also beneficial to work on your balance and stability. Exercise balls give you a simple way to get these two major benefits.

Here are some simple exercises that are well suited to use with an exercise ball:

Back Extensions

Exercise ball back extensions

Using the exercise ball to perform the back extension exercise.

Just stick the ball under your hips (in front of your center of gravity, so your feet remain on the ground), and keep your hands behind your head for added intensity. Then, with your spine aligned, bring your upper body off the exercise ball until your spine is straight. It is best to avoid hyperextending your lower back. Keep to a rep range of 10-20 reps.

Buttocks Lift

Buttocks lift on the exercise ball.

Buttocks lifts on a Swiss ball

This is a great exercise for the hip flexors. With your upper back on the ball and your feet on the floor, just left your hips up until your back is straight, then allow them to dip down again. You can increase the intensity of this exercise by holding a weight across your hips.

When you first work with this exercise, it will deliver good results for you. But soon, you’ll get stronger and more fit. When you do, you should move on to the next movement, the hip extension.

Hip Extensions

Hip extensions on the exercise ball.

Hip Extensions on the exercise ball.

Similar to the buttocks lift mentioned earlier, this exercise works the hip flexors. It is harder than the previous exercise, so only start with this move once you feel like you’re getting in shape.

Rollouts

Rollouts on the exercise ball.

Rollouts.

This is similar to using an exercise wheel, but nowhere near as intense. With the arms on the exercise ball, you want to pull your core towards the ball, all the while keeping your back straight.

This is a fantastic core movement, but you may find it difficult to perform unless you are in decent shape. A good way to improve your core fitness to the point where you can do rollouts is to start with static contraction moves. This move is similar to the plank from Yoga.

Weight Training Benefits

Posted in Fitness,Uncategorized by quadriceps on February 25, 2010

No matter if you’re a weekend warrior or a serious athlete, you probably understand the value of weight training. It is an important part of any physical fitness routine and it’s essential for your overall wellness. In the following paragraphs, I’ll introduce you to various weight training benefits and show you how new trainees can ease their way into a weight training program.

Weight training benefits

Increases your energy levels

Most forms of exercise give you elevated levels of energy and “pep”. Although you might think that intense workouts will tire you out, over time they’ll build the stamina and physical “toughness” that more than make up for the temporary fatigue. What’s more, you will retain that fantastic physical conditioning; it’ll be there for you to use whenever you need to use your brawn rather than your brains.
Of course, you don’t need to go balls to the wall every time you set foot in the gym or in your own, personal workout area. A less strenuous routine will pep you up instead of wearing you out and it’s a great start to the day. And what’s more: if you do a little bit at a time, you can build up a high level of conditioning over time.

Boosts your strength and power

Weight training makes you stronger. There’s no simpler way to put it. When you lift weights, you get more muscle, and the more muscle you have, the more capable you are in both your everyday life and your athletic pursuits.
An additional benefit of this sort of exercise is that you can apply stress to muscles and parts of your body that don’t get worked during your day-to-day activities. This is a strategy you can use to augment your daily routine; it’ll get you ready for any unexpected event in your life where you might need to use strength and power to get you out of a sticky situation.

You’ll look great!

If you want to be physically attractive (and who doesn’t), you have to start by admitting that if you don’t look strong and physically fit, you don’t look good. Your apparent level of physical fitness correlates directly with your attractiveness. Hey, nobody said life was fair.
Once you get fit and strong, with visible results from your weight training routine, you’ll look better and attract more of the people whom you wouldn’t mind getting to know better (if you know what I mean).

Brings out your inner athlete

When you are stronger and possessed of greater energy levels, you will become a markedly better athlete. No matter if you participate in team sports, boxing or martial arts, or just like to dance the night away, weight training makes you more capable. Along with other complementary forms of exercise like cardio and stretching, it gives you the strength and energy you need to excel at whatever your favorite athletic activity happens to be.

Increases your rate of weight loss

If you continue with a weight training program, you’ll eventually get in shape; and unlike with fad diets, you’ll stay in shape too. You don’t need to lift a ton or look like Arnold to enjoy the benefits of a good weight training workout. Even if you only lift at medium intensity, you will be on the right track. This is the initial step towards a weight loss routine that actually works for the long term. Don’t skip workouts; if you stick with it you’ll enjoy success.

The 3 Rs of exercise

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on February 22, 2010

People often question me about the best way to look their best and boost their levels of physical fitness. I always give them a simple answer that gets right to the point. What I tell them is, “Three Rs”. What are the three Rs, you might ask? They’re rest, reps, and refreshment.

Everyone has different goals for their workouts. But whatever your personal fitness goals are, you can’t achieve them without these three Rs. These three parts of the fitness equation are the bedrock upon which you build a foundation of health which will last you for the rest of your natural life. If you neglect any part of this foundation, you will fail to reach your ultimate potential. That would be a shame, wouldn’t it? Let’s do our best to get you started on the right foot…

Refreshment

Refreshment is a concept that needs little explanation. It’s mostly obvious, right? You will not reach your workout goals if you avoid proper nutrition like the plague. Cakes and pizza might taste good, but they will destroy your fitness levels like little, tasty morsels of doom.

But if you have a good meal plan that focuses on supplying a balanced nutritional profile and the proper level of calories for whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish (whether it be to gain or lose weight), you’ll have one part of the equation firmly in hand.

Reps

Reps, too, are fairly obvious to most people. I’m sure you know that you can’t just keep performing the same exercises over and over again and expect to make progress. You need a properly-designed workout program that includes progressive overload. If you are not stressing your body, it won’t adapt and improve. It’s that simple.

Rest

The simplest part of the 3 Rs is probably also the most commonly misunderstood. Rest is discounted by most people, especially the young, gung-ho kids who want to work out as hard as humanly possible. But without it, you can destroy your joints and give yourself stress fractures and other injuries that take ages to heal (if they ever do).

These sorts of injuries are perfectly avoidable; so make sure you rest enough to avoid them!

Do it the right way

So no matter if you are a serious fitness freak with visions of someday becoming an Olympic champion, or a weekend warrior who wants to work out just well enough to beat Uncle Bob at your weekly game of golf, you need to think about the 3 Rs as you go about your daily exercise routine. Pay attention to each of these three parts of the fitness equation and you’ll be set up for success!

Simple tips for starting a new exercise program

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on February 19, 2010

As you probably know, exercise improves your health, reduces your body weight, and makes you look oh so fine. Unfortunately, most people who live a modern lifestyle don’t prioritize physical activity and include it in their daily routine. Additionally, you may not be accustomed to working out hard, so your exercise sessions become difficult to enjoy and the source of strains and pains rather than joy and increased health. Nevertheless, it’s important to stick with it. What follows are some ideas you can use to exercise more efficiently and enthusiastically.

Don’t forget the planning

Always plan your fitness routine in advance, regardless of whether you are hitting the weights or working on your cardio. Scheduling an exact time to work out makes it simple to fit this exercise session into your daily routine. Once you do this, you won’t have an excuse to fail.

Order things for efficiency

Always be clear about the order of each component of your fitness regimen. If necessary, write it down; you may find that keeping a written list is handy. The number of reps is an absolute necessity. This is because you’ll only succeed in raising your exercise intensity regularly if you know what you did in the past.

Avoid common mistakes

Commonly people make this mistake during exercise: they rest for an unusually long period of time between sets. It is advisable not to work through fatigue; if you are exceedingly tired in the middle of your workout, something is wrong. If you find yourself tiring prematurely, you should decrease your rep range instead of slowing down and reducing your overall workout intensity. A handy guideline is to employ a half-minute to a minute rest period after performing several related exercises.

Warm up and cool down

It is imperative that you make the time to go through a warm up routine; likewise, a cool-down routine isn’t something you should skip. Not only should you schedule your work sets, but you should schedule these warm-up and cool-down sets too. Don’t leave anything to chance. To warm up, a simple cardio routine will suffice. But to cool down, you want to go through some gentle stretches and relaxation exercises. Let the muscles recover from the vigorous exercise, and allow the mind time to regain a sense of calm and serenity.

Get enough fluids

Many folks feel the need for some rehydration during a workout. But if possible, avoid this habit. It can cause problems and reduce the beneficial effects of your exercise session. Make sure to get enough water during your day to day activities; also, a hit of green tea is probably fine once in a while, as long as you avoid it immediately prior to your exercise session.

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