Tag Archives: gym and fitness

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.

 

How To Include Your Workout Schedule Into Your Busy Life

Balance-Fitness-And-Your-Busy-Life

When you have a really busy life, it is more important than ever to stay fit and healthy so you can perform all your tasks with energy and efficiency. But often a busy life means having very little time for workouts. Or perhaps you have family responsibilities, and children you want to spend more time with.

It is possible to be productive at work, spend quality time with your family and keep a gym schedule. Workouts for busy people can be possible by modifying the way you exercise and manage your time.

Take these steps towards optimizing your workout time to the maximum:

First, save time at the gym

  1. Intensify your workout by increasing the number of repetitions for each set, then decreasing the rest period between sets.
  2. Add compound movements (exercises that use various muscle groups) and, if you can, lift more weight.
  3. Use full-body, strength-training circuits where you can train both your upper and lower body in the same workout. Circuits can be six or more resistance exercises with very little rest in between. These can be done with short repetitions or long stances on the power rack.

All these measures will not only cut down your time at the gym by half, but also help you burn calories faster and better — even after you leave the gym. Your resting metabolism will step up for almost two days after a short and very intense workout with compound exercises.

Second, make lifestyle changes

Now that you have a more efficient, optimized workout schedule, it will be a good idea to review your lifestyle habits. Are you keeping a healthy diet? Are you getting enough sleeps? Do you keep good posture at work?

Normally, it takes 21 days to work a new habit into your life. Keeping this in mind, introduce each novelty one at a time for a span of three weeks. This will keep the pressure away, and you will modify your life little by little with minimum effort.

For example, you can start cooking healthy meals at night so you will have good, ready meal options the next day. Then, the next three weeks, start going to bed one hour earlier than usual. And so on.

When you have efficiently worked all these changes into your life, you begin to aim for bigger goals. A fast and efficient workout is only part of the ticket towards a full and healthy life. It needs the support of good, lasting habits.

Are Weight Lifting Gloves Necessary and What Size?

Weight lift gloves

You’ve decided to start going to the gym. You need to build some muscles so you’re thinking about weightlifting. But you need to get some gym gear first. What’s on your shopping list?

  • Sneakers
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Duffle bag

 Do you think anything is missing?

It is amazing how often weight lifting gloves get left off this list. Persons believe it is unnecessary. Wearing weight lifting gloves is a personal choice, but when you know that you’ll be lifting weights, it’s imperative that you have it.

Weight lifting gloves are beneficial for a number of reasons.

Weight lifting gloves are beneficial for a number of reasons. The gloves provide support to your wrists, assist in gripping weights, relieve the pressure placed on your hands while lifting weights and prevent the appearance of corns and calluses.

Most weight lifting gloves are made with a band that wraps around your wrists to provide extra support. The support is necessary to prevent injuries to your wrists as the band snugly fits to support the weights being lifted. When exercising, your body produces sweat and your palms sweat too.  The weight lifting gloves are made with a special material that grips the weights and allows you to do your workouts safely. Having constant pressure on your hands can cause you to have blisters of calluses. The weight lifting gloves prevents this from happening, as they act as a support for your palms.

 

Now that you’ve learned the benefits of weight lifting gloves, you’ve added it to your shopping list. However, there are some things you should consider when purchasing them:

  •  You must firstly determine your glove size. It is therefore important to walk with a tape measure.
  1. Measure your hand by wrapping the tape measure around your knuckles of your main hand (the one you use dominantly).
  2. Place your hand on a flat surface, with the tape measure still in place, so that your knuckles are spread.
  3. Finally, tighten the tape measure around your knuckles to get the correct measurement and note the measurement.
  • The gloves should fit comfortably on your hands. In order to increase the grip and prevent sweating, the weight lifting gloves should never be too tight or too slack. There should be a little amount of space – enough to flex your arms – between the gloves and your hands.
  • Weight lifting gloves come in leather and neoprene material. The leather material types are typically more expensive but will give better durability and longevity. Neoprene material is usually worn by persons whose aim is to prevent sweaty palms, and thus get a better grip of the weights.
  • Are the gloves “slip on” or “Velcro strapped”? This is usually done by preference, but if weights are heavier, it is best to purchase weight lifting gloves that have Velcro straps. These provide more support and it is certain that the gloves will stay on while you’re lifting weights.

You can now go to the gym with all your gym gear; knowing that you’ve got your weight lifting gloves for support and grip while building those muscles using a Power Rack.

Happy lifting!

Skinny Guys Can Build Muscles Too

Build Muscles

A guy passes by with ripped muscles and the confidence shines all over him; his smile, his walk and his attitude. Then you look down at yourself and you wonder “What happened?” You’re as thin as a stick; no dimension – even though you’ve been hitting the gym and eating your proteins. Don’t worry. There’s hope for you. Chances are you’re not doing the correct things aimed at building muscles. It’s all hidden under there, somewhere.

 

Below is a list of tips to help you turn that skinny frame into rock hard muscles:

  • The key to building your size and strength is training more regularly. This means that you practice today, tomorrow the day after and so on. Getting the lean physique that you envision won’t come by in a day’s worth of exercise; it takes practice, endurance and discipline. Train several days per week instead of one. Training your body in turn trains your mind which then sends a message to your body that it’s time for a change. It’s a process and you have to follow through with your exercise regime to get the desired results you’ve been aiming for.
  • Many men aim to lift more pounds and therefore increase the weight on the barbells when working out with a Power Rack at the gym. This does help to get them stronger and bigger. But what you don’t realize is that this method cheats you out of building your strength. You’re still able to eat all the junk food and do barbell exercises and get thick but you’re really just adding fat to your body. You’re unable to keep track of your fat levels when you limit yourself to one exercise. It is important to do body-weight exercises, like push-ups and inverted rows, to strengthen your body.
  • Muscle fiber types can be categorized into two groups; fast twitch and slow twitch. Fast twitch muscle fibers are found in fast paced athletes, like sprinters, who quickly generate speed and strength, but get exhausted easily. On the other hand, slow twitch muscle fibers can be found in athletes like cyclists. It takes a while for them to exert energy and it also takes a long time for them to get tired. You can change your fiber type by training either more intensively or slower. However, in this situation where you’re trying to build muscle, it would be advisable to do exercises like the one arm dumbbell snatch, clean and press two to three days a week.
  • Using heavy carriers in your workout is another way of helping you build muscles. These form an essential part of increasing your body strength in a way that no other exercise can. Kettlebells and dumbbells, or any other heavy equipment, can be used while doing the Farmer’s Walk. This technique can be done for approximately 5 minutes after every workout. Some other positions that can be done are the kettlebell rack position and the bottoms up position. These exercises help you build abs, and muscles in your calves and arms.

Although you have personal goals and deadlines to get ripped, you must not overwork your body. There is something such as “over-training” and this can quickly lead you to feeling fatigued and injuring yourself.  It’s important that you pace yourself and think of exercising as practice instead of a sprint race to the finish-line. The muscles won’t come overnight and remember your aim is to create and maintain muscles.

Weighted Balls and Their Differences

BAlls

Gym routines are continuously being tweaked in a bid to maximize time spent in the gym. Weighted balls have been included one of the best home gym equipment by fitness enthusiasts looking to spice up their work out and make it increasingly rigorous. This piece will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both slam balls and medicine balls. Which one is better or are they both the same?

Slam Balls

They come in different weight classes ranging from 2lb all the way up to 50lb. It is up to the type of exercise one is conducting as to which slam ball is required. The largest one can be equated to being the size of a regulation basketball. It is easy to handle and is often preferred by people in the gym.

The advantage of a slam ball over a medicine ball is its ability to be thrown. You can easily toss it around for exercises requiring throwing motions. Athletes prefer slam balls for certain exercises because of this. It can be used in partner exercises in order to reinvigorate your workout and make it fun.

Explosive energy is necessary for athletes and even the average Joe in the gym. You do want to get that little burst of energy and this can happen with slam balls. Building up cardiovascular strength and overall muscle tone happens easier with a slam ball in comparison to a medicine ball.

Medicine Balls

Medicine ball sizes can range just like slam balls. The weights range from 2lb to 50lb just like a regular slam ball collection. Many people use medicine balls for exercises such as squats in a bid to add more resistance. It is a great core ball tool because it hits that core better than anything else.

The difference between a medicine ball and a slam ball comes in the form of holding vs throwing. A medicine ball is not designed or meant to be tossed. It is meant to be held close to your body while conducting movements in the gym. Medicine ball exercises have their own place in a workout program.

The material from which medicine balls are made makes them conducive for dead ball exercises. The leather provides excellent grip and is manufactured for this exact purpose.

These are not as good for weight-lifting programs because they are not designed for those particular movements. Most people will use these for light cardio workouts and getting the body warmed up.

In the end, it is all about preference and nothing more. Both have their uses and can be found at the local gym.

Which Size to Use?

As noted, weighted balls come in a range of sizes. Looking to gain strength? It is best to go with a heavier ball that will be around the size of a basketball. It will help in pushing the muscles to the limit.

Choosing the weight of the ball should be dependent upon the ability of the person. Do not select a weight will is causing instability and loss of control. This can lead to injury. The partner’s strength has to be taken into account too.

Best way to find the ‘perfect’ weighted ball is to do a little assessment. Hold the ball away from the body. Is it putting significant stress on the muscles? Is it better as you bring it closer? A weight is too heavy, if stress is placed regardless of where the ball is held. It is too light, if there is no stress placed at any point of the assessment.

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.

 

 

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.