The push-up is one of the best exercises for the body and is a great tool for determining a person’s upper body strength- so much so that the military uses them as a part of their physical fitness testing.
The primary muscle group that the push-up engages is the pectoralis major and minor (chest muscles or “pecs”). It also targets the triceps, deltoids (shoulders), and entire core region (abdominals and lower back) making it one of the simplest, but most effective exercises for the body, as it incorporates so many muscle groups.
There are several different variations of the push-up, which target a vast variety of different muscle groups. Generally, the arm and hand position of the push-up will change to target different muscle groups or increase the intensity. (more…)
Back pain is the number one reason for doctor visits in America. It’s no question that hours in front of the TV and computer, coupled with our generally sedentary lifestyles have much to do with the back pain epidemic, but what about the way we walk?
According Esther Gokhale, the author of 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back, walking a specific way will not only eliminate chronic back pain, but lift and firm your butt at the same time.
Gokhale grew up in India, earned her biochemistry degree from Princeton, and suffered from back pain for years. After back surgery didn’t work, she decided to find the cure to her pain on her own. (more…)
Soldiers at Fort Jackson. Image via The New York Times.
The Army has long had rigorous fitness requirements, but today new recruits need to shape up more than ever. The top reason recruits are rejected by the Army is because they are overweight. “What we were finding was that the soldiers we’re getting in today’s Army are not in as good shape as they used to be,” Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling told The New York Times. “This is not just an Army issue. This is a national issue.” The problem the Army is facing reflects the rise of obesity in America.
This year, the Army has rolled out a new fitness program, designed to get recruits in shape. The new fitness regime has incorporated exercises from yoga and pilates, and is de-emphasizing old staples of Army physical training, like long runs and sit-ups. The new program is in use at five training posts, and has 145,000 participants.
Serena Williams is not just one of the world’s premiere female tennis stars, she is also one of the strongest women in the sport. She’s certainly not a lean, slim player, but her entire physique speaks volumes about strength and fitness. Tennis is, after all, a game of speed, strength and endurance, and Serena has mastered all three.
A knee injury from 2004 and a bad hamstring have long hampered her running, and she freely admits that she does not enjoy cardio work, both factors which probably have contributed to her less-than-lean build. Serena has said, “I hate working out more than anything, but I have to — when I’m running, I think about how much I want to win. That’s the only thing that keeps me going.”
Pilates has become increasingly popular in the fitness world with both men and women. Pilates is a fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It focuses on core postural muscles, as well as proper breathing and correct spinal alignment.
The most common machine used for Pilates is the “reformer,” which was designed to provide finely tuned resistance exercises for the body as a whole. It focuses on proper alignment, core stability, and total body flexibility.
Pilates is great before, during and after pregnancy. It is beneficial during the pregnancy process due to the isolation of the core. (more…)
Medicine balls have been around forever and are among one of the oldest forms of strength and endurance training. In ancient Greece, medicine balls were made from animal skins sewn together and stuffed with sand. They were used for rehabilitation and injury prevention. Today, medicine balls are usually round and made of rubber or leather, but they do come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and materials.
Medicine balls generally range from two to 25 pounds, and are typically used for standard plyometric weight training, which is characterized by fast powerful movements and muscle contractions to increase speed, power, strength, and flexibility.
Medicine balls are very durable and can be used just about anywhere. Athletes commonly use them for explosive training (quick and powerful movements) by throwing them to the ground or off a sturdy wall. The medicine ball is also a great way to modify and add enjoyment to any weight training exercise or workout. (more…)
Are crunches and sit-ups destroying your back? According to Dr. Richard Guyer, president of the Texas Back Institute, crunches and sit-ups put an unhealthy strain on your back due to the flex movement of the crunch or sit-up. The spine has the most nerves of any area of the body, and the bends and strains of crunches and sit-ups can lead to extensive nerve damage.
I totally agree with Dr. Richard Guyer on this subject. Crunches and sit-ups do actually put an unhealthy strain on the spine. On the other hand, how many of you play or have played sports, or eat fast food? Almost everyone, right? Playing sports and eating out is also extremely hard on the body, but we still do it! Everything we do on a daily basis is pretty much unhealthy for the body. That’s just life. Sitting in the car for too long, sitting at the office all day, playing golf, or running… all of these activities take a toll on the body over time and can lead to injury at some point in our lives.
The chest press, leg press, and shoulder press are all great exercises that target its specific muscle group rather well. But, what if only one arm or leg was used during each movement? By incorporating single arm and leg movements into your workouts you will isolate so many more muscle groups.
For instance, you are performing a body weight squat; which is a great lower body exercise (quadriceps and glutes). Now, add a single leg body weight squat; the focus is still on the quadriceps and glutes, but also incorporates core stability, balance, and recruits different lower body muscles to help stabilize.
Another great advantage of using single arm or leg movements is to prevent over-compensation. For example, a chest press is being performed and the right side (stronger side) of the body or muscle group is doing most of the work; thus not allowing the left side (weaker side) to improve. Well, a single arm chest press solves the problem of the over-compensation and allows both sides of the body or muscle group to be isolated more effectively. (more…)
Pilates is a method of exercise developed by German born Joseph Pilates in the early twentieth century as a means to heal his own body, which was ridden with illness. He learned that by integrating the breath, mind and body by what is referred to as “contrology,” participants could improve their state of health.
The original Pilates workout consisted of 34 exercises designed to target the core muscle groups, otherwise known as the body’s powerhouse. These exercises range from beginner to advanced and were practiced as a set series. Classic Pilates follows the original routine, while the modern version of Pilates allows for modifications to adapt to a variety of ages, abilities and needs. In addition, Pilates exercises have evolved to incorporate the use of equipment such as the Reformer and Pilates Cadillac.
Whether a beginner or advanced practitioner of the classic or modern Pilates method on the mat or on a machine, the benefits of this mind-body activity are extensive.
As many of you know, the Women’s and Men’s U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey teams lost to Canada during the finals of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The women’s team lost two to nothing capturing the silver medal for the second time ever. The men’s team lost a heart-breaker in overtime three to two, thus capturing the silver medal as well.
There is more to hockey than just suiting up and playing. Physical conditioning is a huge aspect of the game. Ice hockey takes a toll on the body, thus making it extremely important to be in great physical shape. Hockey requires a great deal of stamina, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. Upper body, core strength and endurance are important for the handling of the puck, shooting of the puck, checking an opponent, and fighting (several fights break out during hockey games). (more…)