I love squats because they are functional and efficient. Squats strengthen the muscles that keep us mobile and independent. Every time we sit in a chair or use the bathroom we are squatting. When we can no longer do those things on our own we are in trouble.
So imagine the challenge for those who cannot do squats as a form of exercise. I encounter people all the time who can’t perform a squat, because of injury or chronic conditions, include squats as part of their exercise program. It can be a frustrating situation for both client and personal trainer. While this does present a unique challenge it doesn’t mean they have to resign themselves to a lower body workout of machine driven exercises like the leg extension.
Machines can have their place in a strength training program; however, some of them do put the body in an unnatural position. They don’t mimic real world movements. We live in a 3D world and are meant to move in multiple planes. Strength training is most effective for most people with movements that mimic real life motions. Also many clients have limited equipment at home. By necessity, programs must be designed that utilize simple tools like resistance bands and their own body weight.
If squats are painful or have been forbidden by your doctor, there are still many exercise options for your lower body. Try this workout combination for an effective leg workout sans squats. Do 2-3 sets of each exercise, 10 – 12 repetitions per set.
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The great thing about running is the fact that you do not have to define yourself as a specific type of runner. As Shape Magazine explored, running really is an “every man sport.” There are so many different types of runners out there, so naturally, each type of runner needs equipment that will help them out! Let’s explore what each runner needs to perfect their sport.
Best Gear: Minimalist Running Shoes
Barefoot runners are tough, you guys. As the word “barefoot” implies, these are the people who prefer to run as naturally as they were born — without sneakers or anything! According to DietsInReview’s Kelly Turner, trainer and fitness journalist, barefoot runners need the proper shoes and socks. Check out minimalist running shoes to protect your feet — there are lots of choices out there.
WINTER WEATHER RUNNERS
Best Gear: Layers
Some people are tough enough to handle the rain, sleet, and snow. If you are one of these awesome people, make sure you layer — something that is not a natural thought before you head out on a run. Also, consider a hat and a water resistant jacket if you live in a rainy part of the country.
Best Gear: Trackers and monitors
Marathon runners are definitely not the casual type. If you are a marathoner, you are likely interested in keeping track of your personal data, which is why you will need to invest in a mileage tracker, a heart rate monitor, or even just an app on your phone, (find the best trackers here) which are often built into phones these days. Don’t forget a running belt so you don’t have to carry your water or fuel snacks. Your arms will get tired eventually.
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Strength training is a progressive thing: as you progress and grow stronger, the intensity and resistance of your exercises will evolve to continue to challenge you and keep those results coming. There are very specific variables that effect how hard an exercise is that you can use to increase that intensity incrementally. You can’t always just add more weight, so here are four other ways to ramp up the results of your body weight workouts.
How to Strength Train Without Weights
Change the angle: The steeper the angle of your body toward your exercising muscles, the harder the exercise will be. Example: elevate your feet during push-ups to make them tougher, or place your hands on a stair to decrease the angle for an easier modification of a standard pushup.
Decrease the stability: Reducing your contact with the floor instantly works more muscles groups to keep you balanced. You can do this by lifting one foot or hand off the ground, or getting off the floor completely with an unstable surface like a bosu, a balance board, or a stability ball.
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By Dr. Thomas J. Kleeman, MD and Anne Talbot-Kleeman, RN, Certified Fitness Professional for TheDoctorsWorkout.com.
Leg stretches are an essential way to maintain flexibility and avoid common lower body injuries. If you enjoy biking or jogging, it is especially important to pay attention to protecting the commonly injured areas such as the hips, knees, and ankles, resulting in injuries like hamstring strain, calf strain, patellar tendinitis, and Achilles tendinitis. These injuries can best be prevented by a dynamic warm-up and saving stretching exercises to follow your exercise once the muscles are warmed up. Here are a few of the most effective leg stretches:
This important stretch can be done in several positions. One technique involves standing on one leg while putting your heel on an elevated surface like a bench or chair. Keep the elevated leg straight and lean into the knee, bending at the waist. You will feel the pull in your hamstring. Hold the position for 10-20 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
Another way to do the stretch is to lay on your back with one leg straight out on the floor and the other flexed 90 degrees at the hip, knee straight using a towel around the foot or ankle.
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If you’re new to the gym this spring you’re quickly figuring out that fitness has a language all its own. You have the bootcamp class going for AMRAP while the guy at the squat rack is bragging about his one rep max. As you rest before attempting the next set of dips, another woman asks to “work in” on the assisted dip machine. She asks you, “Is it chest and tri day for you, too?”.
You stare at her thinking, “Are my triceps supposed to have a special day?”.
Workout splits, or how often you work a particular muscle group, can be one of the most confusing parts of a new strength training regimen. With the emphasis on high intensity programs in gyms and online training programs most people are training every muscle, every workout. The idea of a workout dedicated to just upper body or a specific muscle group seems foreign, even outdated, but making sure a muscle has adequate rest and attention is key to creating the physique you really want. Whether you’re new to the weight room or thinking about your first figure competition, there is a split that is right for you!
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