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.
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. (more…)
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 The idea of a workout dedicated to just upper body or a specific muscle group seems foreign, even outdated, but making sure a muscle has adequate rest and attention is key to creating the physique you really want.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! (more…)
Each year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) surveys its membership of fitness professionals (myself included) to identify the top trends in fitness. The 2015 list was recently published with, in my opinion, only a few surprises.
What did surprise me on this list? Outdoor activities are #12! I see and hear a lot about running in fitness circles, but not much else. Most popular classes and activities take place in some sort of gym, be it a commercial one or the budget home gym you created in the spare bedroom. I would love to see more people get off the spin bike and on the bike path. Hiking is a new love of mine and, unlike the treadmill, it does wonders for your body and soul. Boot camps are last on the ACSM list at #20. They are still very popular in the Midwest so I am curious what group fitness trend will be taking their place. What are you seeing where you live?
Agree or disagree, here are five “big” fitness trends you can look forward to in the coming year.
1. Body weight training and High Intensity Interval Training came in #1 and #2, respectively, on the ACSM list. This worries me for two reasons. One, the high rate of injury that goes along with beginners starting at too high of intensity as well as over-training, and two, the level of burnout that often follows. I think body weight exercises are great. They can be some of the most challenging exercises you can do, but if proper form isn’t developed before adding the explosive intensity of popular programs like Insanity or P90X you may be asking for trouble.
When you think weight lifting, you think big muscle groups: quads, biceps, abs. When you think this way, you’re already on your way to injury. So many of us step up to the weight bar thinking we are ready to rock our reps without properly focusing on key joints and smaller muscle groups. A major area that most women don’t think about is their hands and wrists. It’s these very areas that cause a ton of post-lifting pain, especially for beginners who are just starting a strength training routine.
You should absolutely continue to warm up big muscle groups and major joints, but don’t forget the small stuff either! Weight lifting, when done improperly, can be dangerous, and women especially should take extra care to maintain the health of their hands and wrists. Proper hand and wrist care is important whether you are a regular gym fanatic or simply use your hands for daily tasks like working at a computer.
Try This: Yoga Poses for Computer Wrists
Women often neglect strengthening their arms simply because they don’t know which exercises to do, but building arm strength is important for a number of reasons. A woman with strong arms can help…
1. Prevent osteoporosis
2. Strengthen the spine
3. Improve posture
Plus, who doesn’t love toned arms?! Allow me to take you through my five best arm exercises for women. All you need for this routine is a pair of dumbbells and a few short minutes in your living room, hotel room, or wherever you may have a few spare minutes!
OVERHEAD TRICEPS EXTENSION
— Begin standing with your feet shoulder distance apart.
— Hold a dumbbell with both hands in a heart-shaped grip (it should feel like you’re cradling the dumbbell).
— Bring the dumbbell behind your head, bending your elbows.
— Engage your core and extend your arms straight, reaching the dumbbell overhead.
— Slowly return to the starting position. This is one rep. Complete 8-12 reps. (more…)