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 on the exercise ball.


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 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, 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.


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.

Can’t find a boxing gym? Try this.

Posted in Fighting by quadriceps on February 12, 2010

It can be hard to find a boxing gym unless you live in a densely-populated area. And if you do find one, there’s no guarantee that you’ll like the trainers.

Wouldn’t it be nice is you had access to top-notch trainers whenever you wanted? You’d easily learn virtually everything there is to know about fundamental technique, and when you were ready to step it up a bit, you’d have access to the sorts of advanced moves and tricks that give you the opportunity to live up to your full potential.

The world’s best boxing trainers

Did you know that you can get boxing lessons from celebrity trainers like Jeff Fenech, Kenny Weldon, and Freddie roach? There’s only one catch: the lessons are on DVD.

So if you can’t travel to Hollywood to train with Freddie Roach, or make the long journey down under to Australia to take some lessons with Jeff Fenech, don’t despair. With today’s technology, in-depth boxing instruction is as close as your TV set.

There are lessons available for all skill levels from rank beginner to advanced intermediate, and no matter your own personal style you’re sure to find something that’ll work for you.

You don’t have to find a boxing gym just to get basic instruction anymore. Now, you can spend your time in the gym wisely: by sparring, doing partner drills, and enjoying the company of fellow boxing enthusiasts.

For less than the cost of a single lesson with a trainer, you can get advice and instruction from Freddie Roach or other world-famous coaches. And best of all: you can be sure that you’ll get nothing but the facts, from an articulate, experienced trainer who has been around and seen it all.

If you worry that your local boxing coach doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, or if you think that he’s giving you generic advice that doesn’t really take into account your own personal body type or fighting style, it’s wise to double-check what he’s telling you by watching boxing instructional DVDs.

OK, you know as well as I do that you’re not going to turn into a champion boxer just by watching DVDs and shadow-boxing in front of the mirror. But you will get the best advice available from professionals whose careers and reputations are riding on the results they get from their fighters.

You owe it to yourself to double-check every aspect of your training, fitness, diet, and your approach to the sport. After all, when you’ve digested all the information available to you on DVD, you’ll be confident and competent when you finally do manage to find a boxing gym in your local area.

Pushup variations to hit the deltoids

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on January 21, 2010

It’s hard to work out the deltoids without weights.

Pushups involve the front of the delts, but most of us feel it in the triceps and chest instead of in the deltoids.

But there are things you can do to prioritize the delts during your push-up workouts.

How to hit the deltoids during a push-up workout

To hit the delts, you basically want to get your upper arms above the level of your shoulders. The closer you can come to simulating an overhead press, the better.

Begin by simply elevating your feet. The higher your feet, the more stress you put on the delts. There are many variations you can use. Check out the following video by Coach Geoff for some ideas!

A simple bodyweight circuit to get or stay in shape

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on January 18, 2010

Bodyweight circuit trainingAre you ready to abandon all your excuses and get in shape?

A circuit of bodyweight exercises will get you in shape even if you don’t have access to a gym, equipment, or a trainer.

What is circuit training?

It’s simple: pick a few exercises and perform a few reps of each one non-stop, one after the other, until you do them all. This is a single circuit.

So, if I told you to touch your toes ten times, then immediately do ten push-ups, that would be a circuit of two exercises.

You can (and probably should) repeat this circuit a number of times.

Typically, you will not rest between exercises. However, you may rest between circuits. Then again, maybe not; it’s all dependent on your level of fitness and your ultimate goals.

Example of a bodyweight training circuit

Let’s design a full-body circuit. To work the entire body, we need exercises that target these five areas:

  1. Legs (squatting)
  2. Pushing muscles like chest and triceps
  3. Pulling muscles like biceps and the upper back
  4. The core, including the abdominals
  5. Cardiopulminary fitness

Ideally, we should pick exercises that give results in more than one of those areas of focus. So, if you can get both a good cardio workout and a good squatting workout from the same exercise, you’re already ahead of the game.

Here’s a sample bodyweight circuit for you to consider:

  • 5 Squat thrusts (legs and cardio)
  • 5 Pushups (chest, shoulders, triceps)
  • 10 Lunges with arms above the head (legs, cardio, stretching)
  • 10 Jumping pull-ups (biceps, back and lats, some cardio)
  • 10 Leg scissors (core)

There you have it: a bodyweight circuit!

Even if you are out of shape, you should be able to do this circuit at least once. If you commit to exercising three days a week, you’ll make progress. On week two, try doing the circuit twice (with some rest between circuits). The next week, try three circuits. You get the picture.

Make sure to maintain a certain level of intensity. If you burn out half-way through, either reduce the reps or re-think the design of your circuit. If you’re barely breaking a sweat, increase the reps, increase the difficulty of the individual exercises, or try to complete each circuit quickly (use a stopwatch).

Two simple ways to improve your deadlifts and pull-ups

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on January 6, 2010

Pull-ups and deadlifts are important exercises for anyone who wants to get more muscular.

Pull-ups work the upper back — primarily the lats — and the biceps. They also put a lot of strength-building stress on the gripping muscles of the forearms.

Deadlifts, on the other hand, put major stress on the lower back, not to mention the legs, glutes and the grip.

Both of these moves are called compound exercises. That is, they stress several muscle groups and involve two or more joints. Experienced weight lifters know that compound moves of this sort are perfect for developing full-body strength.

Additionally, they’re both pulling movements. That is, you pull towards your body as during the concentric part of the movement (the weight-bearing portion).

With all pulling exercises, one of the major sticking points that most trainees run into is a weak grip. Even those who don’t realize that they have a grip problem are held back by this phenomenon. When the grip improves, the lifts become easier and strength gains arrive rapidly.

There are two simple ways to improve your grip for pulling moves.

Improve your grip with weight lifting chalk

Everyone has seen weight lifters on the Olympics dusting their hands with chalk before a lift. Since the Olympic lifts all have a pulling portion, it is important that their grip is as strong as possible. Chalk ensures that their hands don’t lose grip on the bar.

Chalk works by drying out any perspiration that is on your hands. The difference between a chalked and unchalked hand is like night and day. If you chalk up before a heavy deadlift or a set of pull-ups, your effective strength level will increase.

Eliminate grip problems with weight lifting straps

For some people, a weak grip is holding them back, and they don’t see any way to improve it. Maybe they have a hand injury or some other limitation.

In this case, a set of lifting straps will make it possible to lift much more weight. These simple and inexpensive devices basically take the grip out of the pulling equation. With straps, you barely have to hold onto the bar as you execute the lift.

Of course, you probably don’t want to use straps all the time, unless you have a chronic injury that prevents you from gripping the bar with full power. But occasional use of these devices will allow you to push past lifting plateaus like nothing else you’ve ever tried.

Don’t be afraid to succeed

It doesn’t make you tough or “hardcore” to lift without straps or chalk, it just makes you less effective, less intense, and less successful. Don’t be afraid to improve your grip because the strength of your back depends on it!

Can you bulk up with Kettlebells?

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on December 22, 2009

Kettlebells are unsuitable for bulking up

Kettlebells are unsuitable for bulking up

Kettlebells are being popularized by internet marketers who are eager to make some money from fitness-conscious consumers.

But this can cause problems because marketers play fast and loose with the truth. They’ll tell you what you want to hear rather than give you a list of the facts.

Conflicting claims

You can find online kettlebell sales pitches that promise women who use kettlebells that they won’t bulk up on a kettlebell workout. On the same site(s), you’ll find sales pages aimed at teenaged boys; these pages proclaim that kettlebells are the perfect tool for adding slabs of muscle to your growing body.

Is either of these extremes true, or does reality lie somewhere in the middle?

Kettlebells are unsuitable for bulking up

Actually, kettlebells are just about the worst workout implement you can use if your goal is to bulk up.

Let’s look at it objectively:

When you want to bulk up, you have several requirements:

  • You need to gain weight. If you do it right, the weight gain will come mostly in the form of muscle mass.
  • You need a workout program that includes progressive overload. In practice, this means that you need to use adjustable weights.
  • You need a full-body workout to avoid creating weak-spots which will fail under the demands imposed by your new, stronger muscles.

By their nature, kettlebells are unsuitable for accomplishing the objectives listed above.

Weight gain is difficult with the high-intensity, calorie-burning workouts recommended by most kettlebell “experts”. Other workout styles that prescribe substantial rest between sets are better for bulking.

Adjustability is where kettlebells really fail the bulking up test. Since we can’t easily adjust the weight of our kettlebells, it becomes difficult to include progressive overload in a bulking program. This is the kiss of death for bulking.

Finally, kettlebells are less than ideal for full-body workout plans. They are unsuitable for pushing exercises that target the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Although most, if not all kettlebell trainees work around this, they are setting themselves up for long-term problems because of the un-ergonomic nature of thier ‘bells. As for pulling moves, kettlebells are not ideal either, because the thick handles limit your grip strength and reduce the amount of weight you are able to move.

Stick to barbells and dumbbells for bulking up

Use a time-tested bulking program centered around eating, big, lifting big barbells, and getting big! Leave the kettlebells alone while you are trying to gain weight.

How to add muscle for skinny guys

Posted in Fitness by quadriceps on December 14, 2009
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Skinny guys can add muscle

A lot of skinny guys want to pack on the pounds, but have a hard time actually doing it. In fact, an entire industry has evolved around the idea that it is difficult for skinny guys to add muscle.

Fortunately, that statement is untrue. They can add muscle and I’ll explain the main steps to do it here:

Skinny guys must gain weight

If you don’t gain weight, you won’t put on muscle mass.

Yes, it really is that simple.

But to make sure you understand, I’ll go over it again. If you are underweight, there is no way you can add any muscle mass if your body weight remains the same. You must gain weight steadily if you intend to add muscle.

For scrawny guys who want to add muscle: there is absolutely no point in lifting weights unless you gain weight while you are doing it.

Get it?

While you’re at it, check out this video which goes over, in excruciating detail, the steps you need to take to add muscle:

Go through that video and make sure you understand each major point. When you do, you won’t have any more questions about putting on some lean muscle mass.

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