Monthly Archives: July 2013

Building a Bigger Back with the Right Workout

Bigger Back

Back workouts can be complicated because of it being such a large body part. It has to be targeted from a number of angles in order to maximize growth and muscle mass. There are specific exercises which can be designed to cater to your workout needs and lead to that ‘bigger’ back. It will emphasize the different areas and look to work them hard. Everyone has a diverse approach ranging from barbells to free weights. This piece will discuss some of these exercises and how they target your back.

Dead Lifts

This should be on top of your list for back exercises.  This is a serious exercise and one that requires a lot of grit and determination. You have to ‘perfect’ the technique before progressing forward with heavy weights.

It is suggested to do dead lifts every so often and not lift to failure. If you do lift to failure, the chances of being able to do anything else for your back that day is minimal. Deadlifts take a lot out of you and should be targeted in a manner that is safe. This type of powerlifting can be intense.

Pull Ups

This is a simple solution to achieving those desired wider lats. Technique is important here as you want to keep the focus on the back. Many fitness enthusiasts will do pull ups that place more emphasis on the arms. Look to bring your chin above the bar at the top and be fully stretched at the bottom. The elbow should drive in towards the back, leading the shoulder blades to almost touch.

Pulls ups are an excellent tool to begin with at the start of a workout.  Look to throw in a few sets at the start to get the muscles loosened. If you are looking to add mass, toss in some weights and do weighted pull ups with a dip belt.

Back Extensions

To round out a workout, it is important to pinpoint a lower back exercise. Many individuals will forget to emphasize the lower back in the bid to get a V-shape look. Yet, the lower back is critical in maintaining balance and making your shape more aesthetic in nature.

How do you target the lower back? It is good to begin with back extensions using respectable weight. The goal here should be to go for a high number of reps because the exercise is generally less taxing.

Roman dead lifts are another option and one that can be beneficial. As with anything, technique is more important than extra weight.

Choosing a Belt: A Weightlifting Belt Size Guide

Belt Size

Wearing a well-fitted belt during lifting can help reduce the risk of injury to the spinal column. Belts help by increasing your intra-abdominal pressure, resulting in a tighter core. The intra-abdominal pressure supports your spine and reduces the risk of compression from vertical lifting, slipped disks, and various other injuries that can occur during a weightlifting session.

Step 1

Choose a material. Belts are constructed out of leather or nylon. Either material has its own benefits. Leather is sturdier, offering a stronger cinch suitable for heavier lifting. Nylon is a bit more flexible and will put less pressure on your hips.

 

Step 2

Put on your usual workout clothes. It’s important to take measurements while wearing what you will normally be wearing under the belt. This will provide accurate measurements and will aid in choosing the most comfortable belt.

 

Step 3

Wrap a tape measure around your waist, going over your navel. Do not “suck in”, or breathe deeply into your belly. Do not squeeze the tape measure too around your waist. Make sure it is secure, not drooping but also not too tight.

 

Step 4

Search for belts that meet your waist measurement and are constructed of the desired material.

 

Step 5

Try it on. Cinch the belt snuggly. Perform a few shadow lifts while wearing the belt to ensure it offers proper structural support. A well-fitted belt should offer support without cutting into your ribs or being uncomfortable.

 

Step 6

Break it in. A new belt will be extremely stiff. Rolling the belt is a good way to loosen up the stiffness and allow it to mold to the shape of your back. You could roll it up and leave it tucked under your bed or somewhere that will apply pressure.

 

 

 

 

Foam Roller Exercises for Myofascial Release

Foam Roller

What Is a Foam Roller?

A foam roller is a cylindrical-shaped tube made of firm, dense foam. They come in various sizes, firmness and densities to suit anyone’s sensitivities and body type. It is a tool used for self-massage and as a workout aid to alter routines and make them more challenging. Foam rollers are most helpful when used for myofascial release, which is a loosening of tight muscles throughout the body. Knots in the body caused by stress or injury can be “rolled out” using a foam roller.

 

How to Release Tension in the Glutes

The glutes tend to hold a lot of tension. Here are a few steps to induce myofascial release.

 

Step 1

Stand with the foam horizontally positioned in between your hands.

 

Step 2

Place it on the ground at your feet.

 

Step 3

Carefully sit in the middle of the foam roller.

 

Step 4

Extend your legs and roll your glutes along the foam roller using your heels.

 

Step 5

When you find a tight spot, hold your position for 30 seconds.

 

Step 6

Come off the spot for 15 seconds.

 

Step 7

Find the spot again and hold for another 30 seconds.

 

It’s important to repeat steps 5 through 7 until you’re unable to relocate the tender area. These exercises may include minor pain at first but will greatly reduce those everyday muscular aches and pains.

 

How to Release Tension in the Lower and Upper Back

Other great spots to hit are the lower and upper back. As we all know, the back carries a majority of the tension in the body. Over time, stress causes painful knots.

 

Step 1

Sit on the ground.

 

Step 2

Place the foam roller horizontally behind you.

 

Step 3

Lean back onto the middle of the foam roller, lifting your bottom and bending your knees.

 

Step 4

Use your feet to roll yourself up the foam roller.

 

Step 5

Stop when you reach a tender area and hold for 30 seconds.

 

Step 6

Come off the area for 15 seconds.

 

Step 7

Roll back to the tense area and hold for another 30 seconds.

 

Apart from what was mentioned above, revolve your foam roller 90-degrees and stretch out so that it makes an upright line down your spine. Turn your knees, placing your feet leveled on the ground. Position your arms on the floor next to your body. Allocate your shoulder blades to descend toward the floor to open up the muscles in the front of your torso. Embrace this position, and do not turn over. Conclude with an upper back support stretch.

Again, it is always important to repeat steps 5 through 7 until the tension has been release and the area is no longer tender.

 

 

Building Strength with CrossFit and Powerlifting

CrossFit can be scaled down and is accessible to any age or fitness level.

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is an all-encompassing fitness program that utilizes and builds upon the ten basic elements of fitness. It is often used in police academies, military branches, and to condition competitive martial artists and other professional athletes. In a CrossFit gym, training is done in a group setting and at higher scales is a competitive sport within itself. In its non-competitive form, it is still high intensity but CrossFit can be scaled down and is accessible to any age or fitness level.

The Ten Basic Components of Overall Fitness

  • Balance
  • Agility
  • Accuracy
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Cardio
  • Speed
  • Power
  • Stamina
  • Strength

How CrossFit Utilizes These Elements

CrossFit takes the most beneficial training aspects of various sports and incorporates them into a well-balanced workout. The daily workouts are never the same and are rigorously structured to build up each of the ten elements.

Some CrossFit exercises include:

  • Kettle Bell Training
  • Gymnastics
  • Rowing
  • Barbell Training
  • Body Weight Resistance
  • Powerlifting

Powerlifting in CrossFit

Powerlifting is a form of competitive weightlifting. The athlete lifts as much weight as they can handle in three separate lifts. They start with a bench press, then a deadlift, and finally a squat. Since there are little to no cardiovascular benefits from weightlifting, CrossFit concentrates on powerlifting exercises as a way to increase the fitness elements of strength and power. In non-competitive CrossFit training, powerlifting exercises tend to completed twice a week. Starting light and gradually increasing in weight and intensity.

Interested in CrossFit or Powerlifting?

Always talk to your doctor about starting a new workout plan. Thoroughly understand what the workout demands of you and be sure that your overall health can meet those demands. Explain the workout routine to your doctor to ensure that is in alignment with any health conditions that may be present.

 

Powerlifting Belts: Help or Hinder?

Powerlifting Belt

Powerlifting is a competitive type of weightlifting. Athletes are judged by lifting as much weight as possible in a number of different lifts such as; bench press, dead lift, and squat. Because the goal is to lift as much as you can , there is a lot of pressure on the lower back and spine with high potential for injury.

How Power lifting Belts Can Help

Wearing a powerlifting belt helps reduce the risk of injury while training or competing. Essentially, it helps tighten your core causing an increase your intra abdominal pressure. This supports your spine and in turn, reduces the risk of compression, slipped disks, and other injuries associated with lifting large amounts of weight. Users also notice a strength increase during deadlifts and squats when using the belt. The increase can range anywhere from ten to twenty pounds.

How Power lifting Belts Can Hinder

It’s important to only use the belt when exerting maximal effort. For example, maximal effort would be 350+ pounds for someone who currently squats 400 pounds. Continuous use of the belt when it is not completely necessary can cause your core to become dependent on it. This will work against you and actually promote the possibility of injury when not using the belt. Be mindful and make sure to use a belt as a tool and not let it become a crutch.

Who Should Not Use a Belt

Beginners should not use a belt until proper form has been established. It’s important to first master techniques before utilizing a belt during a lift. If your technique is undeveloped, a belt will not reduce the risk of injury because your improper form is what will inevitably cause injury.