Monthly Archives: December 2013

Wide vs Close Grip Pull Ups: Which is Best?

pull-up-

Pull-ups are difficult, demanding and strenuous exercises. You need to lift all your weight with the use of your back, chest and arm muscles. It might be a daunting challenge at first, but with a bit of work and perseverance, you will be able to benefit muscles that are otherwise difficult to reach.

Before you start, make sure you have warmed up properly. Strength training puts a lot of stress on your muscles, and jumping into it without the preparation of a gradual warm up could lead to injuries.

Once your arms, back and chest muscles are a bit warmer, it is time to do the pull-up challenge. As with every difficult exercise, do not overstress yourself. Begin slowly and rest if you need it.

Pull-ups are simple because all you need is a stable overhead bar and a good grip with your hands. But it is not as easy as it seems at first. If you want to get the full benefits from pull-ups, you need to pay attention to the grip. The way you place your hands greatly determines what muscles you will be using, how your body will be moving and the level of difficulty you will be facing.

There are two main types of hand grip:

Wide Grip

This is the more traditional grip method. Stand and reach up to the overhead bar with both hands placed slightly beyond the width of your shoulders by a few inches. Turn your palms around so that they are facing forward. When you pull yourself up, your shoulders will be performing a powerful adduction movement: that is, flexing towards you, and making your upper arms move towards your sides. This is really good for shoulder flexibility as well as muscle toning. And you will also be putting to work the large wing-like back muscles known as latissimus dorsi.

Close Grip

In this modality, your hands must grip the overhead bar exactly at shoulder level, with your palms facing forward the same way as in the wide grip. The close grip forces your upper arms to move behind you and your shoulders to extend. With the close grip you will also work on the latissimus dorsi, but there will be a big contribution from the large front chest muscles, the pectoralis major, and the biceps.

All three muscles will harmoniously work together and get toned in accordance.

Another version of the close grip is where your palms are facing you (otherwise known as chin-ups). The latissimus dorsi will still be doing most of the work, but this time the biceps will be more involved.

The close grip uses the mechanical benefit of two large and powerful muscles, front and back, which makes doing pull-ups a bit easier, and also for a greater number of repetitions.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to try a close grip before you move on to the wide grip.

How To Perform Cardio Exercises If You Have Bad Knees

Cardio exercise

Cardio exercise is a high-impact activity that can seriously backfire if you have bad knee problems. Cardio workouts with injury are always a gamble, even if you are otherwise young and healthy. Running or rope jumping with bad knees is not a good idea because of all the impact and pounding on your joints. Did you know that when you run, your body absorbs your weight x 7 every time you take a step? So if you weigh, say, 170 pounds— that would still be 1,119 pounds of pressure on your knees every single time your foot hits the ground.

Other exercises without impact and pounding, like cycling, still put a lot of repetitive stress on your joints, especially knees and ankles.

No joint stress cardio

To protect your knees from the impact and repetitive stress of cardio, here are three items you can easily work into your training routine. You will tone your muscles, burn calories and keep your knees in good shape.

1.     Battling ropes

Battling ropes need to be long and thick, the more the better.  Loop them around something stable that will not move and then take each end in your hands, pulling while doing the exercises. A good example of battling ropes cardio is rope slams— where you slam each end of the rope up and down on the floor, making waves. These exercises are quite aggressive for most people, so start slow and move up to longer sets as you feel more comfortable with it.

2.     Kettlebells

Cardio kettlebell exercises involve a lot of swinging and snatching. You can effectively strengthen the muscles in your hamstrings, glutes and lower back, but putting no stress whatsoever on your knees. Kettlebells come in different sizes and weights, but it is always a good idea to start slowly. Try 44 or 53-pound units and then move on to heavier ones as you see fit.

3.     Sledgehammer

Sledgehammer exercises, or sledgehammer swings, involve an eight-pound and a car tyre. The bigger the tyre, the better. You swing the sledgehammer hard against the tire, hard and rhythmically, in circular motions. Do a number of sets on each side (Twenty is good to start with). There will be no impact on your knees, but your pectorals, upper body and biceps will benefit tremendously.

Each of these three exercises can be part of a workout routine, or be the routine itself. You can include them as needed in your usual training, and feel all the benefits of cardio exercise without causing further injury to your knees.

Advice About Training From The Experts

advice training

When it comes to finding the perfect fitness plan for you, there is a lot you can learn from experienced professional trainers.

These little tips will help you put together a much better workout routine and fitness plan, while at the same time improving your quality of life more than you could ever imagine.

1.     Start slow and organize yourself.

a.      Make small changes. If you are new to fitness training, start little by little. Gradually introduce activities and changes to your day.

b.     Plan ahead. When you have time to spare, plan your fitness schedule for the week. You will be able to do it more efficiently.

2.     Intensify your workout.

  • Work out harder, and you will burn more.  A hard, intensive workout will keep you burning calories for hours even after you leave the gym.
  • Start your day with exercise. Do your fitness routine first thing in the morning, and you will not have to make room for it in your busy schedule. It will also be much more intense and effective.

Do your fitness routine first thing in the morning.

3.     Focus on your inner body and mind, and enjoy it.

  • Fitness starts from the inside. Working out will improve your physical appearance, but that should not be your reason to do it. You do it to be healthy.
  • Meditate. Your mind is part of your body –don’t leave it behind.  Re-connecting to your source will give you peace of mind and heal emotional wounds.
  • Do the things you like. Working out does not have to be a self-imposed obligation; not if you find something you really like to do.

4.     Don’t procrastinate, just do it. And do it well.

  • Don’t give yourself unrealistic goals, but stick to your plan as much as possible. Share your goals with friends: it will keep you motivated.
  •  Combine cardio and strength training. Your workout will be shorter and more effective.
  • Picture your goal, then break it down into smaller goals. Step by step, you will get where you want.

5.     Pay attention to your posture, your diet and your commitment.

  • Watch your feet. Proper foot placement is paramount to good balance and spinal alignment.
  • Eat well. Eat clean, unprocessed food – fruit and vegetables, lean meat, good fat and grains. Think of food as fuel, not a reward for your cravings.
  • Set a two-day rule: Don’t go for more than two days without training. Stick to that rule no matter what you do and where you go.

If you do this well, your strength endurance will certainly increase and then all you will need to do is repeat this circuit two to four times.

 

9 Kettlebell Moves That Burns Away Fat

kettlebell

Kettlebell exercises

Kettlebells are an all-around fitness training tool, perfect for cardiovascular exercises combining strength and flexibility workouts. For strength training and weight loss kettlebells are your best allies.

So what is a good kettlebell strength training routine? David Schenk, a certified trainer from World Kettlebell Club, has put together a complete and effective fat-burning  kettlebell workout. It should be done following a Tabata interval (8 sets of 20-second repetitions, resting 10 seconds in between).

What you need

Some clear space, an exercise mat and two kettlebells. This routine focuses on all your major areas: shoulders, biceps, triceps, torso, back, glutes, knees and legs. There are nine different sets. Here is a brief description of each, along with their benefits:

1.     Goblet Squats

Holding the kettlebell’s handles, stand up and then squat down. This tones all your major muscles, but especially quads.

2.     Thruster

A continuation of the previous exercise. This time, when you stand back up push the kettlebell up with your arms. It improves cardio and strength.

3.     Turkish Get Up

A bit more complicated, but easy. Lie on your back and bend your right knee. Holding the kettlebell in your right hand, lift it up above your head as you push yourself up with your left arm, straightening your back. Then move up, with your left knee on the floor, and stand straight, all the time holding up the kettlebell. Repeat on the other side. It works on your whole body.

4.     Dead-Lift

Take the kettlebell in your hands and hold it down. Then squat down, resting the kettlebell down on the floor while still holding it. This tones your legs, glutes and lower back.

5.     High-Pull

Standing straight and holding the kettlebell in your hands, lift both elbows up and push the kettlebell towards your chin. You will be working on your shoulders, biceps and back.

6.     Dead-Lift to High-Pull

A combination of the previous two exercises, starting with the first one and progressing to the second. It will benefit all the combined muscles as well.

7.     Burpee to High-Pull

Stand up, with the kettlebell on the ground. Then bend your knees as you put your hands down. Stretch your legs until your back is straight, then bring your feet forward until you are squatting. Grab the kettlebell handle with both hands and stand up straight while pulling the kettlebell as in the High-Pull. It will do wonders for your torso, legs, shoulders and biceps and also for your cardio.

8.     Back-Pulls

Hold down the kettlebell with your right hand, then flex your left knee and push your right foot back. Do pulling movements with your right arm. Repeat with the other side. It will tone your shoulders, biceps and back.

9.     Renegade Rows

Using two kettlebells on the floor and grabbing their handles with each of your hands, start in push-up stance, then pull one kettlebell up while supporting your weight on your other arm. It will work on your entire upper body.

When done well, these exercises are guaranteed to lead you towards successful fitness and weight loss, while at the same time taking a lot less time than regular gym workouts.

Start slow

If it is your first time, start slow. Do not overstress yourself, but work your stamina up step by step. You can begin by doing one cycle with each set of exercises, and then as you gain resistance you may work your way up to faster and more intense training, until you can accomplish the Tabata interval.