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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.

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.

 

10 Exercises for Toning Your Body After Weight Loss

Body Toning

We are always given tips to losing weight; drink more water, do cardio, eat less, decrease your serving size. But after we lose the weight, what’s next? We have hanging arms, tummies and flabby legs. One obstacle has been overcome and another created.

Below is a list of exercises that you can do to tone your body after you have lost the weight. The exercises have been categorized into upper, lower and total body workouts.

Upper Body Workouts

  • Push-ups

Moving yourself from a full plank position, with your hands apart and your feet together, bend your elbows while you lower your body toward the floor without touching. Keep your back straight and avoid touching the floor with your inner body. Do 10-15 reps.

  • Chest Press

Lie on your back, knees bent at hip width and arms out at 90 degrees with dumbbells in hands. Lift arms towards the ceiling and press the weights to the center of your chest. Do 10-20 reps.

  • Kneeling Curls

Kneel, shoulder width apart, with your arms by your side with dumbbells in your hands. Do bicep curls, turning your palms up while lifting. Do 10-15 reps.

  • Quadruped Kickback

Start in a kneeling position with your hands on the floor with dumbbells in hands. Bend your right elbow upward with your palm facing in and extend your arm to your hip. Return elbow to original position and repeat on left side. Do alternate sides for at least 5-10 reps.

Lower Body Workouts

  • Rear Lunges

Holding dumbbells with your arms by your side, stand upright with your feet together. Take a wide step back with your right leg into a lunge while bending both knees. Keep left thigh parallel to floor. Return to standing position. Repeat using other leg. Do 10-20 reps.

  • Sumo Squat

Holding dumbbells, stand with your feet wide apart. Bend your knees so they go over your toes. Extend your arms and bring them slowly down towards the ground. Complete 20 reps. 

  • Side Lunges

Holding dumbbells with your arms by your side, stand upright with your feet together. Using your right foot, step to the side, while bending your knee and pressing back your hips. Return to start position and do the same with the left leg. Do 10-20 reps.

Total Body Workouts

  • Plank Inchworm

Start in full plank position. Slowly walk your hands in towards your legs as your hips are lifted in a pike position. Walk your hands back to the original position. Do 5 reps.

  • Lawnmower Row

Start in a lunge position with arms by your side. Reach left arm towards your right shin and row left elbow behind your body while rotating your torso to the right. Lower your left arm and do 15 reps.

  • Squat Curl and Press

Do a full squat holding dumbbells with your hands reaching downwards. As you stand, bend elbows to shoulder width, curling the dumbbells in with the palms facing each other. Press the weights overhead. Do 10-15 reps.

 

The Benefits Of Upside Down Inversion Exercises

Upside down Exercises

Inversion exercises are done while being hung fully upside down with the support of inversion boots on a horizontal bar. Sounds tricky? It is and can be quite a challenge, but the benefits gained from doing inversion exercises might encourage you to try it yourself.

Inversion Boots

When doing inversion exercises, inversion boots – otherwise called “gravity boots” – are worn to support your body. Inversion boots are made with straps to hold on to your ankles and attach to the horizontal bar. This is the only thing that is used to support you and keeps you safe while allowing you to do the various exercises that act as therapy for your body.

Types of Exercises

Inverted Squats

Squats are done the same way as standing. The only difference is that you are fully inverted instead of standing before starting each bend. In order to complete the proper form of each squat, start at a 180 degree angle then bend your knees while raising your body toward the bar. This exercise works on your hamstring and glutes.

Inverted Sit-ups

You are better able to stretch your body through inverted sit-ups. Fully invert your body and stretch through 180 degrees, brining your chest toward your thighs. This exercise works on your lower back and abs. 

Full Inversion

Full inversion means that you hang yourself completely; toward the floor. This exercise is one that takes very little work and allows you to take the time out and meditate. It releases stress and back pain, improves circulation and gives you mental alertness. The gravity also realigns your spine.

Three Points Hang

As a beginner, you can try the three points hang. This means that three different points of your body are supported by the horizontal bar at all times; your feet and one of your hands at a time.

Therapeutic Benefits

Inversion exercise falls under the category of core training. It works your legs (hamstring and glutes), abdominals, chest and back. Apart from inversion exercises physically molding your body, they are therapeutic. Inversion exercises help to realign your spine, improve blood circulation, reduce stress, increase flexibility, improve posture and rehydrates the vertebral discs (allows for flexibility of the spine).

Precautions

Although inversion exercises help your physical and mental health, there are certain precautions that must be considered before attempting the maneuvers. If you have hernia, glaucoma, high blood pressure or heart disease, it is not advisable for you to do the exercises. Also, pregnant women and persons suffering from obesity should not participate in inversion exercises.

Tips to Lose Excess Fat Quickly

Losing Excess Fat Quickly

Burning calories can be a difficult task for anyone. Fitness enthusiasts are always mulling over options in relation to cardio exercises. What methods can you use in order to start shedding weight? You just want to get in those 30 minute exercises and be on your way. This piece will list tips on burning calories quickly and efficiently.

Jump Rope

Looking for fast calories burns? A jump rope will quickly become your best friend as it is nice and easy. You can start anywhere and simply skip your calories and fat away.  It is recommended to keep a jump rope handy at all times. You can take it out anywhere and start skipping.

Research has shown that 10 minutes of skipping rope is enough to lose 100 calories. This is excellent and you could lose a sufficient amount of calories in a short period.

Drinking Water

Sounds like an easy suggestion does it not? There are research studies done showing the effectiveness of drinking water on weight loss. There are health benefits such as ridding your body of unnecessary toxins and it can help with weight loss fast.

There are times when the body is simply craving water and you confuse it as being hungry for food. This is a common issue for people and it is best to always keep water in hand and remain hydrated. You will notice a difference in your overall eating behavior in no time. This is a long-lasting solution and one that should be stuck with for life.

Walking/Running

This is the one everyone knows about when it comes to losing calories and shedding fat. All it takes is a mile every day in order to start noticing results. You can run, jog, or walk your troubles away each day as calories will shed quickly.

Always look to challenge yourself when putting together a regimen to follow. Running a mile should not be the only focus, you should crave to improve your times and burn calories rapidly. Improving your time is the best way of staying fit, maintaining a challenge, and being happy with your state of mind.

Housework

Remember those pesky chores around the house? They can be your biggest enemy as you look to move on with life. Yet, they can become your best friend as you try to shed calories. Even doing something as simple as sweeping the floor can help you lose weight in a hurry. Try it wearing a weighted vest!

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.

 

Benefits of the Free Standing Bag and Workouts

Punching Bag

Free Standing Bags Vs Hanging Punching Bags

Free standing punching bags, or free standing boxing bags provide very similar resistance to the traditional hanging heavy bags found at the gym. Since they are free standing, they are portable, require almost no installation, and are ideal for home gyms. They work by containing a reservoir in the base filled with water, sand or combination of. This keeps the bag sturdy and provides resistance.

The main difference and benefit of a free standing boxing bag is the portability and convenience whether its in a gym or home. Where space is an issue or you may not wish to drill a boxing bracket hanger into the wall – the free standing punching bag is a great alternative to consider.

However if you are serious hitter, whether it’s boxing or kick boxing – a traditional boxing bag with bracket installed into a solid wall or surface will be your better option. It is more likely that any hard hits and repeated tough use will ensure that the product will be more durable.

Filling up the base of a Free Standing Punching Bag

From the beginning, the main purpose for self-supporting punching bags was to fill the tank with water —which is still a widespread technique. Water is the largest advantage over other choices. It’s simple to pour and you have a source right on hand.
Another popular filler is sand. Sand flows into the reservoir without difficulty if dry, but is less likely to escape when the bag is tipped and will not cause condensation.

Warming Up

It is extremely important to warm up before actually hitting the bag. There is a higher chance of injury from hitting the bag with a cold muscle. A good warm up consists of some stretching, shadow boxing, or shadow kickboxing. When fully warmed up, then it’s time to move to the bag.

Jabs

Fast jabs are a great way to get the heart pumping. The first thing you want to do is settle into a firm stance. You never want to face the bag head-on. Always put one foot in front of the other to promote balance. Once your position is firm, hit the bag straight out with the first two knuckles of your left hand. Do not lock your elbow; just let the punch flow from your core. The cross follows the jab with the right hand. The cross is a more powerful punch because it comes from the back of the body. Lift your heel on the cross to add more power. Alternate the jab and the cross in rapid succession for as long as you can, usually between thirty seconds to three minutes. Rest for one minute and repeat the sequence five to ten times.

Kickboxing

For a full-body workout, move to kickboxing exercises. This is a combination of jabs, hooks, uppercuts and kicking the bag. To add a front kick: face the bag head-on and kick straight ahead, aiming for the “stomach” of the bag. A sidekick consists of turning to side, with a shoulder facing the bag and kicking to the side, like a leg lift, and aiming again for the “stomach” of the bag. Roundhouse kicks are very powerful and are done by again turning to the side and having a shoulder facing the bag, making sure your feet are spaced out enough to give you a solid foundation, and kick with the farthest leg from the bag, aiming for the bag’s stomach. Continue a combination of these for three to five minutes then rest for one minute and repeat.

These are just a few examples of the many beneficial workouts a free standing bag can provide. Free standing punching bags engage your entire body. They’re great for cardio, and building stamina. Added benefits of free standing boxing bags are the reduction of stress and anger from channeling your negative energy into the bag.

5 Myths You Were Told About Quick Muscle Growth

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You put in the time, you’ve worked harder in the weight room than everybody else (or so you think), but why aren’t you seeing the results you want? Why don’t you build muscle mass as fast as you originally planned?

The secret to quick muscle growth is not an easy one, and you might not realize it, but the reason why you’re not getting to your target is because of certain myths about how to build muscle fast that you ought to stop doing.

Myth #1: You have to lessen your good intake.

On the contrary, you need to eat healthy when you build muscle mass. If your metabolism is crazy fast, that means you have to pack more protein and carbs in order to get leaner and have a more muscular frame. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you can eat just about any food you like. You have to eat the right foods: a healthy combination of foods rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Myth #2: You don’t have to be consistent.

Another myth is that you don’t have to stick to a routine. On the contrary, you can build muscle fast if you pick a program that is made for you. Stick to the program for a good two months or more, in increasing intensity and with more repetitions, and you’ll get faster results.

Myth #3: You get stuck in theory.

Some people tend to read too much about quick muscle growth—too much information, in fact, that some conflict and confusion arise at some point. Just cover the basics, don’t obsess over every detail, and try to learn as you go along.

Myth #4: You don’t have to keep tabs on your development

If you don’t measure how heavy your lifting is, and how much calories you take in, you won’t see your progress over time. You should also measure your results: how much did you add in your chest or your biceps? It’s about time to draw out a training journal. Measure your routine, and your weight, and you can motivate yourself with the clear progress you’re making.

Myth #5: You keep it under the wraps.

There’s a reason why people get a coach or mobilize their support system as they try to build muscle mass. If you have a mentor or someone to push you on, you will naturally feel more accountable about achieving your goal of quick muscle growth. You need to have someone whom you can turn to, or a gym partner who will have likewise have the same goal as you: to build muscle fast.