Tag Archives: exercise equipment

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, It’s more grateful if you have some Power Rack Cages.for this exercise,  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 gym mats 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. All you need is some equipment and gym mats.

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 Battle between Power Racks and Smith Machines

Power Rack

Fitness enthusiasts are often seen mulling over the power racks and smith machines. There are varied opinion on these gym machines and their benefits. There are certain individuals in every gym that are seen religiously using one or the other. Everyone has an opinion on the matter and there is logic found in all viewpoints. This piece will discuss the advantages and disadvantages found with power racks and smith machines.

Power Racks

Power racks (or power cages) have certain advantages to them. These are commonly referred to as the ‘right way’ of doing things. There is a debate ongoing about the veracity of such a claim because of the benefits associated with smith machines.

Power racks are advantageous because the movements being completed are natural. There is no assistance along the way and it maximizes your entire core and working muscles. There is a safety precaution in place that will catch the weight.  Power cages help in producing balance and strength like nothing else.

The disadvantages have to be highlighted too. One of the biggest disadvantages with power lifting in power racks comes in the form of having a large learning curve. The movements require being able to handle 45lb right from the beginning. This is often too much for certain beginners and can scare them away.

Smith Machines

The biggest detail in a smith machine vs power rack cage debate revolves around balance. The smith machine is able to provide balance for those working out and the chances of hurting yourself are minimal. It is also easier for beginners to adjust to new movements such as squats because any weight can be used. The actual bar does not weigh much and is certainly lesser than the regular 45lb barbell.

Let’s move onto the disadvantages with a smith machine. There are many people that love to point these out in the gym. The joints can have unnatural stress placed on them during exercises such as the squat. Natural movement is not depicted with a smith machine because it is a straight ‘up and down’ set up. There is no swaying back and forth that is naturally done in the power rack to counteract stress on joints.  It is an expensive machine that tends to do minimal work and is useless for specific exercises. This is a grave concern for many gym owners and regular gym members.

Power Lifting Techniques

Power lifting is different to body building. The goal is not to gain mass, but to gain strength. There are specific techniques in place, while using these machines in order to gain strength. Let’s take a look at them.

Spotters are an excellent idea and can help in maximizing potential when lifting weight. Plus, no one wishes to get hurt while executing these exercises. Some individuals will like wearing knee wraps and/or belts to reduce the stress placed on other muscles.

Explosive movements are required as a power lifter. For squats and bench press, try exploding with the movements. Make sure the movement is being performed correctly; many power lifters will not go low enough during squats.

Give your muscles some needed rest. Do not go for a continuous schedule with power lifting moves. The results will be mediocre and injuries become a serious concern. Three days a week with rests in between is recommended for all power lifters.

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 use an Power Rack  and do the 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 some weights on the power rack 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 home gym equipment 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.

 

 

The Basics of Strength Training Equipment

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The first thing you need to know about gym and fitness when starting a strength training program is to familiarize yourself with the gym equipment. These exercise equipment that will help build your muscle mass, burn calories and tone your muscles. But the different types of strength training equipment can easily get confusing—so here’s a quick roundup of the different types of exercise equipment that will help you build your muscle mass.

1. Free Weights

Every activity related to free weights focuses on two areas: first, the primary movers, which are the muscles essentially involved in performing the exercise; and the stabilizer muscles, which stabilize the weight of the lifter. Some examples of fitness equipment are barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, wrist or ankle weights, and some adjustable pulley systems.

One of the more common types of free weights are dumbbells. Depending on the type of activity, dumbbells can develop pretty much any muscle in the body, including small stabilizer muscles. The range of weight for barbells is from 2.5lbs to 100lbs, although there are adjustable ones that can accommodate as many as 10 different types of conventional dumbbells. A variation of this exercise equipment is the kettlebell, which look like dumbbells except that the weights in both sides are ball-shaped. Kettleballs have been quite popular in gym and fitness, primarily because of the different forms of exercise that can be done with it.

Another type, barbells, comes in varying lengths—from 3 to 7 feet. Barbells differ from dumbbells in that weight plates are placed on both sides of the former to vary the weight. Another difference is that barbells can be either straight or curved, allowing for varied grip angles.  This fitness equipment is a free weight because of the wide range of motion that make it great for resistance training, added to the large amount of weight that it can accommodate.

2. Resistance Bands

Another thing you have to learn in gym and fitness is the difference between free weights and resistance bands, both popular gym equipment in strength and rehab training. Unlike free weights, resistance power bands do no rely on gravity. This means that you can do resistance exercises even in a horizontal plane. Despite this different, resistance bands are a popular type of strength training equipment, and can be found in home gyms.

Resistance bands are basically rubber bands with handles on both ends. You can then use these manipulate these handles in different ways to perform strength training exercises. With its versatility and handiness, resistance bands can pretty much be carried anywhere.

3. Weight Machines

Commonly found in gyms, weight machines are usually for novice lifters, as they are straightforward and have detailed instructions. Unlike free weights and resistance bands that can be used to focus on different muscles, weight machines focus on a specific muscle area depending on the machine. Another difference is that they only work on primary mover muscles, leaving the secondary muscles undeveloped during the exercise. Many of the fitness equipment you might’ve come across in the gym are for strength training. Before using them, make sure you’re on a training program, unless you want to start you resistance-building in a random, roundabout way.

4. Body Weight

Did you know that your body is a strength training equipment in itself. There are a number of resistance exercises that you can use without the assistance of any gym equipment, such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, and pull-ups. As long as you follow the steps for each resistance exercise carefully, you will be able to achieve your strength training goals. However there are a number of great products that add a new dimension to body weight training such as ab wheels and weighted vests.