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. (more…)
If you have the time, money, and access to a convenient gym, it’s a great place to get in shape and stay that way. However, with a relatively small investment, you can create your own gym environment at home and ultimately save time, money, and accessibility. All you really need are a few basic pieces of equipment that will focus on cardio and strength training.
Having a home gym filled with the right equipment can save you hundreds of dollars a year in gym fees, babysitting services, and even cute gym clothes! Let’s face it ladies, most of us have the gym outfit and then the home gym outfit and I’m guessing the home gym outfit is way more comfy.
Clear the ping pong table out of the way and declare that corner of the basement yours. Add the following gym staples and you’ve got your own circuit training course that can be done any time of day, in any weather. Bonus reason for the home gym? If your exercise playlist includes a heavy metal, smooth jazz, country music shuffle, you just take out the headphones and crank it right up.
Must-Have Home Gym Equipment List
Elliptical: Easy on the joints and limbs, this home cross trainer mimics stair-climbing, walking and running. With the touch of a button you can go from slow crawl to an intense workout. You have the power to challenge yourself every time you step on. (more…)
Recently I attended a group meeting with my daughter’s third grade teacher. All the parents were encouraged to sit in our child’s designated spot. As my adult-sized body balanced precariously on the uncomfortable wooden chair beneath me, I wondered how in the world little bodies – with much less backside cushion – could stand to spend eight hours sitting on what is essentially a small plank with legs. Evidently, teachers have also struggled with this ergonomic conundrum over the years and now, many schools are adopting a new seating strategy – stability balls.
Normally used in the gym for exercises that improve core strength and posture, a new line of stability balls are now being marketed for use in the office and classroom. Available in friendly primary colors, the balls are equipped with legs to discourage kids from rolling them around the room or having ball races. Because, yeah, they’re way ahead of you on that one, you little shenaniganizers. The idea behind the use of stability balls in the classroom is based around the theory that when the body is engaged, the mind is, too.
The balls aren’t cheap, particularly when you’re outfitting an entire classroom, but teachers who have adopted the new seating arrangement say they’re pleased with the outcome. Though a few teachers had trouble with students throwing the balls or other mistreatment, most said they noticed an immediate improvement in their students’ attention spans. A few educators noticed they had trouble with kids bouncing on them for the first few days, but that quickly diminished with redirection. One form of redirection included going back to the wooden plank chair.
Pamela Hernandez owns Thrive Personal Fitness in Springfield, MO where she focuses on weight training for weight loss. She writes a blog for her web site, www.thrivepersonalfitness.com, sharing vegetarian recipes from her kitchen, exercise strategies, lifestyle tips and stories from her own journey. You can also follow Pamela on Twitter @ThriveFit or pick up more tips on Facebook, www.facebook.com/thrivepersonalfitness.
Want to know my favorite piece of exercise equipment? I’ll give you a few hints.
It’s filled with air.
You guessed it-the stability ball!
Sometimes called a fitness ball or a Swiss ball, a stability ball is an extremely versatile and inexpensive piece of exercise equipment. It can allow you to do a variety of exercises by subbing for a weight bench, by keeping you off the ground and your back if that causes you discomfort or by adding a new challenge to an old exercise by engaging more core and stabilizer muscles.
Most people are actually intimidated by the stability ball. That comes from not knowing what to do with it or seeing people doing really dumb things with it on YouTube. But most stability ball exercises are easy to learn. If you workout at home and your budget is limited, the stability ball should be the first piece of equipment you purchase. You will be able to get a great workout with just your own body and the ball. Add a pair of dumbbells and the possibilities are endless.
The following five minute ab routine was designed to provide you with maximum results with minimum amount of time invested- perfect for the busy holiday season. The following exercise routine can be performed at home or at the gym, so there is no excuse not to fit it in to your day.
5 Minute Ab Routine
(Video examples of each exercise appear below)
- Bicycle crunches (1 minute): Start with your legs straight out in front of you, off the ground, and hands behind your head. Begin by bringing one knee in toward your chest and take the opposite elbow to that knee. Repeat by alternating knees and elbows. Bicycle crunches target the entire core: abdominals, obliques, and lower back.
Are you thinking about purchasing a new stability ball or having trouble finding the right size?
Stability balls come in all sizes and you need to find one that meets your exercise goals. Most stability balls provide you with a list of height and weight recommendations for each size so make sure to check the box or package for that, but if you can’t find the information laid out for you, here’s how to find the right size on your own. (more…)
The stability or fitness ball is one of my favorite pieces of equipment in the gym. I use it on a normal basis during training sessions as well as in my own personal workouts. The stability ball offers a plethora of modifications and progressions to almost every exercise in the book. A dumbbell bench press can become a dumbbell ball press and a standard crunch can become a muscle burning ball crunch.
The stability ball not only can be used as a chair while you spend countless hours in front of the computer or television, but a great exercise tool during pregnancy. The stability ball helps pregnant women maintain balance and stability as well as a strong core. A strong core is vital during the pushing phase of labor. The shape and give of the ball molds to the shape of your back/body thus relieving any pressure or tension created during other normal movements. Therefore, this allows pregnant women the opportunity to exercise longer throughout the pregnancy (which will help prepare your muscles and body for labor and post-delivery). (more…)
The Stability Ball was originated for rehabilitation purposes (spinal injuries), but now it has crossed over to a wide variety of training types. The Stability Ball is a great tool for incorporating spinal stabilization, core strength and endurance, and balance and coordination to any routine. It is also a good way to had spice to your work-out. I have listed a few ways to incorporate the Stability Ball into your every day exercises. I recommend starting with one or two sets of 15-20 repetitions if you are not familiar with the ball. Good Luck and have fun!!
See Matt’s BOSU Ball workouts.