Kettlebell Workouts Perfect for Beginners – Part 1

Kettlebell Workouts Perfect for Beginners – Part 1

It wasn’t long ago that kettlebells were practically unknown, and nobody knew how to train with them. These days, they have become an incredibly popular tool for fitness, andyou can practically find kettlebells at nearly any gym in the world.

However, most people still don't have the specialized knowledge to train with kettlebells. To eliminate the mystery around this type of workout, this series of articles will explain to you step by step how to safely and effectively start training with kettlebells.

At first glance, the kettlebell may seem intimidating, especially for those who are new to this. After all, a kettlebell is basically a cannonball welded onto a thick handle that you swing around your body in a ballistic manner; it’s natural to have a bit of fear!

Learning how to use a kettlebell isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s worth the time investment to get the fat-burning and muscle-building benefits that lifting kettlebells provides. Spending too much time sitting at a desk affects your glutes, hamstrings, upper back, and core.

Luckily, kettlebell training targets those specific areas of the body where you need to gain more strength and flexibility. While most often used for ballistic movements like swings, cleans and snatches, you can also perform standard dumbbell exercises with kettlebells.

The versatility and applicability of kettlebell training make kettlebells the perfect tool for both at-home fitness as well as group classes at a gym. Little space is needed, and an effective workout can take as little as 20 minutes and require just one or two kettlebells.

kettlebell workouts

In part one of our Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners Series, we will perform a full body workout focusing on seven major compound movement patterns. This workout is designed to develop a solid foundation of strength, increase muscle definition, and improve endurance in all major muscle groups.

The workout requires only one kettlebell. We recommend that women start with a 6-8 kg (13-18 lbs) kettlebell, and men with a 10-12 kg (22-26 lbs) kettlebell.

The workout is split performed in two different ways:

  1. Consecutive Sets – perform three sets of 8-12 reps per exercise with 30-45 seconds of rest between sets.
  2. Circuit – perform each exercise for 60 seconds back-to-back, then rest for 60 seconds. Do 3 or 4 sets.

Goblet Squat

Kettlebell goblet squat

Primary Muscles Targeted: quadriceps, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings

  1. Stand upright with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold the sides of the kettlebell handle in both hands at chest height while keeping your elbows tucked in.
  2. Squat down, bending at the hips and knees while maintaining an upright, neutral spine.
  3. Lower down until your thighs are parallel or slightly below parallel with the floor. Tap the inside of your knees with your elbows. Push through your heels and return to the upright position, finishing with fully extended hips by contracting the glutes.

Single Arm Overhead Press

Primary Muscles Targeted: deltoids, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and triceps

  1. Start with the kettlebell in the rack position. Hands need to be inserted through the bell handle fully, so the handle lays diagonal across your palm, and the kettlebell is resting in the V of your shoulder, elbow, and hand.
  2. Activate your lats by depressing and retracting your shoulder, then press the kettlebell overhead, extending your arm fully and locking your elbow out in the top position. Make sure to squeeze your glutes and brace your core throughout the press.
  3. Lower the kettlebell back down to the start position, keeping the lats active by depressing the shoulder (this will set you up for a strong rep to follow).
  4. Repeat the movement on the other side.

Single Arm Bent Row

Primary Muscles Targeted: latissimus dorsi, rear deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, erector spinae.

  1. Similar to a lunge stance, place one of your legs forward and bend the other one in the back.  Hinge at the hips and put the kettlebell on the floor on the side opposite to your front foot. Hold the handle with the opposite side hand. Maintain a neutral (flat) spine position throughout the movement.
  2. Lift the kettlebell by drawing your elbow toward your belly button, and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Instead of pulling your elbow up as high as you can, focus on creating tension through the lats and upper back by pulling your shoulder blade down and back. The elbow should just come to the side of the ribs or slightly above if the goal is targeting your back muscles.
  3. Lower the kettlebell back to the floor and release the shoulder blade before reengaging it for the next repetition.
  4. Repeat movement on the other side.

Stiff Leg Deadlift

Kettlebell deadlift

Primary Muscles Targeted: hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and erector spinae

  1. Start with your feet about hip-width apart, the kettlebell between the feet.  After you slightly bend your knees, hinge at the hips. Grab hold of the kettlebell handle with both hands. The shoulders should be over the toes. The spine should be neutral, with shoulders at or above hip level, and upper back muscles engaged.
  2. Descend and touch the floor with the kettlebell. As you come back up, extend the hips into a standing position while contracting the glutes to complete the movement.
  3. In subsequent repetitions, only go down as far as you can while maintaining a neutral spine with a slight bend in the knees. If you can't maintain a neutral spine while you bring the kettlebell all the way down to the floor, use a box or elevated platform to limit your movement.

Lying Chest Press

Primary Muscles Targeted: pectoralis major, deltoids, and triceps.

  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and knees bent. Bring the kettlebells into position on either side of your body. Insert your hands through the handles fully and keep your elbows tightly next to your body.
  2. Press the kettlebells up and over the chest while the elbows get locked out. Lower the kettlebell back down until the elbows touch the floor. Keep the lower back flat throughout the movement.

Straight Arm Crunch

Primary Muscles Targeted: rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and hip flexors

  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat and knees bent, hands holding onto either side of the kettlebell handle (the heavy bottom of the kettlebell up toward the ceiling).
  2. Engage your core by lifting the shoulder blades and then the upper back up off the floor for a few inches. Push the kettlebell toward the ceiling. Keep your neck in a neutral position (avoid excessively pulling your chin into the chest).
  3. Slowly lower the shoulder blades back down to the floor, vertebrae by vertebrae. Keep your arms straight throughout the exercise.

Offset Farmer Carry

Primary Muscles Targeted: full body

  1. Use a single arm deadlift with a neutral spine to come to a standing position, holding the kettlebell by the handle in one hand to the side of your body.
  2. Walk at a controlled speed, maintaining an upright neutral spine with core engaged and shoulder blades pinched together.
  3. Switch the kettlebell to the other side and repeat.
  4. Carry the kettlebell for about 30 seconds – 1 minute per arm.

As you build strength and endurance, you will be able to increase weight and reps. You should always ensure that you are executing all kettlebell movements with proper form to avoid injury.

Stay tuned for more beginner kettlebell workouts in part two of our 10-part Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners Series.


About Kettlebell Kings

Kettlebell Kings is a premium-quality kettlebell and kettlebell content provider, based in Austin, Texas. You can view our equipment, kettlebell how-to’s, and get expert advice at www.kettlebellkings.com. For more information, call us at 855-7KETTLE to learn more.

How to Relieve Muscle Soreness: Quick Fixes from Pro Athletes

How to Relieve Muscle Soreness: Quick Fixes from Pro Athletes

Among gym-lovers, recreational runners, and professional athletes alike, muscle soreness is considered a hard-earned prize for their efforts. As painful as it may be, sore muscles are a clear sign you’ve crushed your workout, pushed your boundaries, and your body got enough stimulation to grow stronger and more resilient.

However, what most workout novices fail to understand is that muscle growth and recovery will not happen on their own, no matter how mighty you may feel with those sore muscles.

When it comes to physical recovery, professional athletes have mastered the art of crafting the best recovery routines to enable their bodies to fully utilize the effort they’ve put into their workouts and truly achieve their fitness goals.

Understanding that growth and progress don’t happen in the gym is vital, and only by following pro-recommended techniques you can know for sure when is the best time to time off for recovery.

Because we want you to progress towards your fitness goals, let’s see what some of the world’s most renowned athletes consider to be their best recovery strategies, not just to beat sore muscles, but to live up to their true fitness potential.

Active recovery sessions

Most people can barely fit their workouts into their busy schedule, so asking them to add a bit more physical activity would most likely be greeted with pure disbelief. However, the idea of rest and recovery are different for getting sick, catching the flu, or wrapping up a strenuous workout.

For the former, every physician would tell you to take it down a notch or two, while the latter actually requires you to move your body in order to help your muscles recover properly.

Some enthusiasts will find it difficult to use their rest day to take a stroll in the park or do some yoga, while the busy bees among you will struggle with the concept of including more active time into their routine.

active recovery sessions

Whichever your issue may be, the solution is as simple as it gets: walking.

This simple activity not only helps to reduce inflammation that causes soreness, but it also boosts microcirculation to flush out toxins and reduces the stiffness associated with post-workout soreness.

Improve your nutrition and hydration

Feeding your muscles the right nutrients is essential not just for curbing soreness, but also for helping muscle protein synthesis.

In order to use your diet properly to aid your recovery, make sure to focus on including healthy carbs that will replenish your glycogen stores, and lean protein to build new muscle and repair muscle tissue affected by your training session.

Furthermore, you need to drink plenty of fluids, especially water and electrolyte-infused water to kick your muscles into recovery mode. Some athletes even mix their protein into pure water instead of milk to meet both of their hydration and nutrition needs post-workout with a single move.

By timing your meals and your water intake right, not just after your training but before and regularly during the day, you’ll maximize the speed of recovery and minimize the intensity of soreness that follows.

Look at mother nature and allow her to work for you.

Science keeps revealing new ways to utilize natural means such as plants to heal our sore muscles, which is especially appreciated by the likes of Andrew Talansky, whose grueling triathlon preparations take a severe toll on his muscles and performance.

Like many other professional and recreational athletes, he has started using cannabidiol, or CBD for short, to mitigate his muscle soreness and more importantly, help his body heal well enough for the next round of strenuous exercise. As one of the main active compounds found in marijuana, CBD is responsible for reducing pain, anxiety, improving sleep quality and many other perks, without the “high” side-effect.

Marijuana CBD

Due to this fact, a growing number of athletes across the world have started using marijuana concentrates and other forms high in CBD to bolster their recovery after workouts. This active ingredient alone can help reduce pain and inflammation that caused by injuries, all the while improving other aspects of your recovery regime, including appetite and sleep.

The only prerequisites involve two factors: first, that  CBD has to be legal in your region, and second, that the strain you’re using isn’t high in THC, so it won’t actively get you feeling “high”.

Cryotherapy at its best

Do names such as Shaquille O'Neal and Floyd Mayweather ring any bells?

Considering the fame they earned through their athletic careers, in basketball and boxing respectively, their choice of recovery has to be acknowledged as successful as their careers. The notion of cryotherapy, or using freezing and near-freezing temperatures to improve health, wellbeing, and of course, fitness recovery, may seem a new one outside of elite circles, but it’s an already widely-embraced practice worth considering for your own recovery regime.

However, if this sounds like an extreme you’re not yet ready to try out, the least you can do is treat your body with a bit of cold water while you shower, and your muscles will still benefit from this.

Of course, you start at a temperature you usually use for showering and gradually get to a colder one, which will boost your blood flow and help your entire body detox properly. Cold compression is another way to go, especially if your joints are achy, which is where the cold helps reduce localized inflammation rather successfully.

Professional sports massages

professional sports massages

We all know that a tough workout will lead to damage in the muscle tissue, but to what extent, only a professional massage therapist will know. Pro athletes from all fields rush to book their time with their massage therapist, as they understand how important it is to prevent injuries and treat those sore trigger points with pressure.

Unlike a regular, relaxing massage, sports massages can be quite painful, which may sound counter-intuitive if all you’re looking for is momentary relief from sore muscles. However, this is one of the most effective long-term methods that helps fitness enthusiast stay safe while working out and treat any scar tissue resulting from strenuous workouts.

Specific methods may offer short-term relief, while others focus on long-term results, but all of them combined are a great way to combat exercise-induced soreness as well as a slew of other side-effects.

It’s vital that fitness lovers everywhere start embracing a recovery-focused mindset to actually reap the benefits of their workouts and truly accomplish their health goals.


About the Author: Scarlet Gratton

Scarlet is a passionate writer and regular contributor at ripped.me, and she’s interested in fashion, lifestyle, and health. She loves traveling; one could say that she is a real travel addict, especially when she has a chance to visit exotic destinations. She thinks that we can draw inspiration from the most unexpected places.

 

 

13 Effective Workouts to Crush Your Fitness Resolutions

13 Effective Workouts to Crush Your Fitness Resolutions

Modern society has made people less and less concerned about health, and going to the gym has nearly vanished from our daily routines. Nonetheless, this doesn't necessarily mean that you're doomed to live a sedentary life.

This article will introduce you to the principles of how to crush your fitness resolutions from home with 13 effective workouts.

To maintain a healthy body in the comfort of your home, you will learn how to get rid of your stresses and worries by investing a few minutes in keeping you fit any time and anywhere you want.

1. Squat

The squat is indeed one of the most straightforward exercises. No matter where you decide to train, the squat is the movement you should regularly do to be in good shape. This exercise is perfect for the back, upper thigh muscles, and buttocks and the way to do it is uncomplicated. You need to prepare a small space and follow the instructions below.

squats

How to do:

  • Stand straight and place your feet shoulder-width apart while both hands stay loose.
  • Push buttocks backward and gradually lower the body to the squatting posture, and simultaneously take a deep breath. Extend your hands in front of you to help keep your balance.
  • Gradually stand straight again and breathe out at the same time. Do 3 sets with 12-15 reps per set.
  • While doing the squads, the knees should not exceed the tips of the feet.

Note: Always squeeze your abdominal muscles to keep your body in balance. Keep your back straight, and breathe evenly and adequately.

2. Plank

Plank is the easiest and most effective home exercise for our belly muscles. If you want to lose belly fat, this is a valuable exercise. Only 60 seconds per day to practice a plank can make your belly muscles firm, and if you increase the frequency to 2 -3 reps per set, results are guaranteed to appear even quicker.

Plank affects the overall abdominal muscles, firming the skin along the way. Plank isn’t hard to perform, but its technique needs to be executed correctly.

How to do:

  • Position your body on a flat floor.
  • Put your elbows and wrists against the ground to create a 90-degree angle to the chest and floor.
  • Straighten your back with two feet touching the ground.
  • Straighten the body as your entire upper part is parallel to the ground.
  • Hold the posture 60s (the first time can be 30s and then gradually increase to 60s).

3. Wide Grip Push-ups

Regular push-ups not only help improve your health but also enhance your quality of life and make you happier. Wide grip push-ups help develop the chest and hand muscles and boost the metabolism.

As you engage in this exercise, your body temperature increases, which supports digestive processes and metabolism to burn calories and provide energy. If you incorporate push-ups into your workout routine, this alone will make you lose weight faster.

How to do:

  • Put two hands on the floor, and create a distance between them which is greater than the shoulders, and keep your legs straight.
  • Lift your hips so that your heels and shoulders lie in a line.
  • Tighten the buttocks and abdominal muscles.
  • Slowly stretch your elbows and lower the body while taking at the same time a deep breath until your chest is close to the ground, and the arms and forearms form an angle of 90 degrees.
  • Push against the floor and gradually lift the body to the starting posture while you simultaneously and slowly breathe out.
  • Repeat the movement for several sets with 20-30 reps per set, with a 50-60 seconds interval between each.

In addition to burning calories and fat, push-up exercises manage to produce mood enhancer hormones, like endorphins. Therefore, a daily routine of push-ups will make you feel happier.

4. Decline Push-ups

How to do:

  • Prepare a chair about 0.5m in height.
  • Put 2 feet on the chair, two hands down to the floor, lift the hips and let the weight of your body sink into your hands.
  • Perform push-ups until the face is near the floor and stop for 1 second.
  • Lift the body back to the starting posture then repeat. Remember to take a breath correctly while performing this exercise.
  • Do 10-20 reps per set.

5. Close Grip Push-up

Also known as the diamond push-up, this exercise is perfect for a whole arm and chest muscles workout. Before doing these push-ups, you should start with regular ones, as this exercise is considered quite hard for beginners.

How to do:

  • Start with a push-up posture, legs closed, and your back straightened. The index fingers and thumbs need to be close to each other to make a diamond-shaped form.
  • Perform push-ups in this posture and try to go as deep as possible while you take a deep breath at the same time.
  • Push the body up, and slowly breathe out.
  • Do 10-20 reps per set.

6. Ball Twist (Home Gym For Intercostals Muscles)

Doing a ball twist requires a flat floor and a wall, so you can easily practice this at home. This exercise has the most impact on the intercostal muscles and helps you achieve a firmer waistline.

ball twist

How to do:

  • Sit down and stretch your legs in front of you.
  • Keep your back straight and lean against the wall or maintain it in a vertical position.
  • Hold a ball in front of the chest with both of your hands.
  • Take the ball from right to left, and always keep your hands high in front of your chest.
  • Do several sets with 15 reps per set.

7. Table Top Leg Extension

This exercise affects the thighs and lower abdomen the most. Besides this, not only does this exercise help train the body’s strength but also it also burns the lower abdominal fat effectively. Therefore, doing this exercise on a regular basis will bring you a much firmer belly.

How to do:

  • Start with a 4-leg table posture with two hands and two knees touching the ground.
  • Lift your right leg straight ahead of your face while kicking your left leg straight backward.
  • Keep the posture for several seconds.
  • Switch legs and do 10 reps for each side.

8. Lying Glute Bridge

If you are looking for a light exercise at home, you may choose the lying glute bridge. If you practice this movement every day, it will help to “wake up” hip muscles and reduce belly fat very fast, resulting in more flexibility in the hip area. For men, this exercise can be an excellent trick for better love-making.

How to do:

  • Firstly, lie on the floor, knees bent, legs closed. Each foot should be 30-40 cm away from the buttocks.
  • Squeeze the abdominal muscles and press the heels to the floor. Lift the hips slowly off the floor, and hold it there for 2 seconds. Gently lower your hips and repeat.
  • Do 3 sets with 15 reps per set.

9. Glute Bridge Leg Lift

This exercise is somewhat similar to the flying glute bridge one, but it’s a bit harder to do. The glute bridge leg lifting helps to enhance and firm the muscle groups around the buttocks and hips. As a result, this exercise helps control the activity of both hips and thigh bones.

How to do:

  • Lie on your back, two hands parallel to the body, knees bent.
  • Lift the left leg, and then gradually lift the whole hip area. At the same time, you need to breathe out and put pressure on the hip while the right knee, abdomen, and chest make a line.
  • Slowly lower both the hip and the left leg but don’t let the hips touch the floor. Take a deep breath in through your nose while you change the leg.
  • Repeat the same process with the right leg.
  • Do 3 sets with 12-15 reps per set.

10. Jump Squat

Jump squat is a one of a kind cardio exercise that helps to reduce body fat very fast.  Since it makes you sweat out a lot and burn many calories as you jump, it also helps to firm buttocks and thigh areas. Therefore, if you want to tone and improve your thighs and leg muscles and at the same time sculpt a better muscle shape, do not miss this home exercise.

How to do:

  • First, stand straight. Create a distance between your feet which is equal and parallel from one shoulder to the other.
  • Gradually bend two knees and slow the body to the squat posture. The knees shouldn’t exceed the tip of the foot.
  • Put the pressure on the leg, and then jump up as high as possible. Vigorously push the hands upwards at the same time.
  • Go back to the squat posture, and repeat the movements.
  • Do 3 sets with 12-15 reps per set.

11. Jump Lunges

The jump lunge exercise is quite new to many people. It is a combination of knee lunges and jumps, and it helps you burn fat effectively. However, if you are not used to it, you will find that doing these at home will make your legs feel “tired.”

How to do:

  • Start in a straight up position, with the right leg stepping forward. Gradually dip down so that the thigh of the right leg is parallel to the floor, while the left thigh is perpendicular to the floor. Note that the left knee doesn’t touch the floor while you keep your back straight and eyes looking forward.
  • In the lunge position, always keep the neck and back straight. Stand up slowly and jump as high as possible.
  • Go back to the original posture and change legs.
  • Do 3 sets with 12-15 reps per set.

12. Crunch

This exercise focuses on the abdominal area, especially the upper part. It helps to burn belly fat and firm up the abdomen. If you want to build muscles in this area, do not skip this exercise.

crunches

How to do:

  • Start with lying on your back and bend the knees to make a 90-degree angle.
  • Cross your hands together and put them behind the head.
  • Slowly squeeze your belly, push the shoulders and head as high as possible so that your elbows touch your knee. Breathe out at the same time.
  • Gradually settle down and take a deep breath.
  • Do at least 3 sets with 12-15 reps per set.
  • Remember to breathe evenly.

13. Bicycle Climber

Bicycle Crunches, also known as bicycle climber, is considered a great home gym exercise for men who want to build stomach muscles effectively. If you work out regularly and correctly, you can get rid of the fat layer that covers the muscles.

How to do:

  • Lie on your back, with hands behind the head.
  • Lift your upper body until it forms a bent posture.
  • Slowly raise your left knee until it's perpendicular to the ground. Extend the remaining leg until it becomes parallel to the floor.
  • Make your feet look like you’re riding a bicycle as fast as possible. One leg goes in as the other goes out. The more you extend your legs, the more you’re going to fire up your quad muscles.  Do it continuously until you are too tired to continue.

With these 13 exercises, no matter how busy you are with work, you still can improve your fitness performance on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that exercising cannot bring great results if you only do it for a short period. You can expect great results only if you are patient and determined to work out on a daily basis.

READ ALSO: The Ultimate Guide on How to Make Your Workouts More Effective


Author Bio: Emily Pham

Emily Pham is a blogger with many years of experience in searching for the best natural home remedies for beauty and health issues. All content provided is for informational and educational purposes. We recommend you consult a healthcare professional to determine which method is appropriate for you.

5 Pilates Exercises Men Can Do That Build Muscles

5 Pilates Exercises Men Can Do That Build Muscles

In the old days, it was all about exercise; you would carry weights and do cardio workouts to get the dream body you’ve always wanted. But as time passed by, different kind of practices began to surface, and one of them was Pilates.

Being an all-time favorite among women who want to get their body toned, there are more than a few reasons why men should start doing Pilates. With health benefits that go beyond strength training, there are five legit ways in which men can gain substantial muscle mass through Pilates.

Read more to find out why this practice provides the missing link to your workout routines.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a form of exercises which focuses on strengthening your body's core which involves the abdomen, the lower back, the thighs, and the obliques. It makes use of specialized equipment to build endurance and flexibility along these areas.

Unlike traditional exercises, Pilates focuses on balance which makes it similar to yoga. It is not like those high-intensity workouts that pump your body for short periods of time either. Think about it as more controlled form of exercise that requires both your mind and your body to work together to get the most optimal results.

pilates yoga

History of Pilates

Developed by the German-born Joseph Pilates, this fitness method was designed to unify the mind and body connection. Joseph, who believed that both mind and body are interrelated, made a goal throughout his physical training to develop a form of exercise where the mental and physical body would come more into focus.

Inspired by his gymnast father, he believed that when done correctly, Pilates as a physical system will help improve body alignment and balance. The equipment, which he called “apparatus” is therefore supposed to aid in the conditioning, strengthening, and stretching of the muscles around the core.

Benefits of Pilates

You might feel like visiting your physiotherapist before starting Pilates, but before doing that, you need to find out more about the benefits that can be brought to your life by this practice.

benefits of pilates

Here are some well-informed, scientifically validated results:

  • It relieves back pains
    Back pain is an increasing problem that occurs in many people. A lot of office seats aren’t ergonomic, and a lot of human activities reinforce lousy posture which can ultimately lead to back pains. When you take Pilates for a minimum of four weeks, the tight muscles of your lower back will start to relax, and this will lessen the discomfort you feel.
  • It improves balance
    Most Pilates exercises require you to focus on your balance because if you don’t, you might fall off (literally!). Aside from stability training, the activities you’ll perform will help you be more self-aware of how your brain and body communicate in order to achieve the right posture and balance during training.
  • It strengthens your core
    One of the more common benefits of Pilates is strengthening the core. Since the focus of Pilates is in this area, there is no doubt that it will push your core muscles to the limit. And it will also help in sculpting abs.
  • It reinforces proper posture
    Lastly (although there are a lot more benefits to Pilates than these four), Pilates reinforces proper posture. The routine exercises will target specific muscles, and you will regain not only strength and balance but your posture will significantly improve for the better.

Pilates Exercises that Build Muscle

There is a misconception that Pilates is only for women, but this is far from the truth. Some men think that Pilates is just another way to do stretches, but in reality, these controlled stretches require more than just moving your limbs.

Women are not the only ones who need to strengthen their muscles and build their core either. Pilates also benefits that men who want to achieve excellent muscle condition. If you find yourself drawn to Pilates but don’t know how to start, you can try these five exercises that will help build your muscles.

back extension

Back Extensions

Back extensions are an excellent start for men who want to warm up their muscles. This exercise focuses on extending your spinal cord to release the tension from the bones and muscles. First, start by lying flat on your belly. As you gently raise your legs and your head forming an upward C, focus on your abdomen.

Bicycle crunches

Bicycle crunches, which is considered one of the most challenging muscle exercises in Pilates, is another type of activity that strengthens your core. You start this practice with your back lying on the mat. Place your hands at the back of your head. Positioning your hands like this will help you raise your head to meet your knees. Then lift both your legs and start by moving one knee towards the middle of your core while the opposite elbow meets your knee.

Supine Twist

The supine twist is a great exercise to further challenge your core and at the same time stretch out your spine. To do this, lie on a mat with your hands on your sides facing upward. Then, raise your legs to form a right angle with the floor. You can also lift them towards your chest and wrap your arms around it.

Leg Changes

Leg changes work out your abdomen more than your thighs. Start by raising your legs in a 90-degree angle to the floor. Slowly bring down one leg until your feet touch the mat and bring it up after a few seconds. Repeat the movement with the other leg.

Ball Rolls

For a full workout of your core, you can try ball rolls. As the name suggests, you will have to curl up into a ball until your knees reach your forehand. Start by lying flat on your back with your stomach tucked in. Slowly bring your knees to your chest with your arms hugging your legs. Continue moving your knees toward to your forehead with your tailbone curling up.

Pilates is highly beneficial for both men and women. However, to see the benefits of this exercise, you have to do at least four weeks’ worth of Pilates sessions. For other tips and health recommendations, it is advisable to ask your physical therapist for exercises that can improve your overall health.


About the author: Melanie of Capital Physiotherapy

Melanie graduated with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. During her degree, she obtained clinical experience throughout the public and private systems. Melanie has completed all levels of Mat clinical Pilates from APPI (Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute). She is one of the physiotherapists at Capital Physiotherapy.

How to Build Muscle at Home Without Weights

How to Build Muscle at Home Without Weights

There are plenty of ways to build muscle, and one of the most common methods is going to the gym and using the equipment. Sounds pretty good, right? You go and use the equipment on a regular basis, and soon you'll be in top shape.

However, some people don't have the time to go to the gym, or they don't want to. There are those that aren't in a great financial situation to pay for a gym membership, so what can you do if you find yourself in the same position? Well, there's nothing to worry about because, even without equipment, you'll be able to build muscle mass and get yourself back in shape.

Not only that, but you won't have to waste time going somewhere else because you can do all this from the comfort of your home. No equipment necessary; just pure strength! Granted, you might have some issues at the beginning before you beef up your muscles, but after some time it gets easier.

In this case, I'm talking about body-weight training. It is a simple method of building your muscles using just the weight of your body. So, what is body-weight training and how can you do it at your home?

Body-Weight Training

Body-weight training is nowadays considered the best way of exercise because of its many benefits. The first one is price – it costs absolutely nothing. Since you aren't using any equipment and you're not in a gym, there are no costs involved. It's also versatile and flexible, meaning that there are plenty of variations in exercise.

It can be done anywhere: in a park, at home, in the woods, so basically wherever you can exercise freely. And this makes it perfect for whenever you need to do a couple of quick exercise!

The physical benefits of body-weight training are improved movement, improved overall strength, and better reactive strength. These two benefits combined should make you start doing body-weight training regularly. A couple of sessions every day and you'll be strong in no time! Here are a couple of exercises you can do:

modified push-ups

Modified Push-Ups

The regular push-up is great in itself, but why not spice it up a bit? There are plenty of methods with which you can modify a push-up to make it stress your body more (in a positive way of course) or to work a different set of muscles.

The descent push-up does require some form of ‘equipment' (a bed or a chair should be enough). All you need to do is position yourself for a regular push-up except for your feet (which should be positioned above your body on something high). This push-up form places more weight on your hands, so you have to work more because of gravity.

The stacked-feet push-up is also useful because you place more weight on your one leg.

Modified Pull-Ups

Pull-ups aren't exactly the most flexible form of workout, simply because you need a pull-up bar or a pull-up machine. However, you can easily do pull-ups from home. They're called ‘modified' pull-ups because you'll need to improvise.

Take the pull-up bar (or a bar you can hold onto) and extend it across two strong objects (or on top of two stable chairs). Lie down and start pulling yourself upwards, from a position beneath the chairs. You can also modify your linear movement by performing the side-to-side movement (or doing the leg lift).

There you go, easy as pie!

Crunches

crunches

Crunches are the simplest exercise out there. You need a flat surface on which you'll lie. Once in this position, slowly start pulling your head and torso upwards while firmly keeping your feet planted on the ground.

You can also do bicycle crunches, variating movements from one side of your body to the other (rotating your upper body to the right while pulling your right knee up towards your upper body and doing the same on the other side).

Tricep Dips

For a tricep dip, you'd best use a chair. Take the chair and place it behind you. Now, put it against a wall, so it doesn't slip while you're doing the exercise. Place your arms behind you and put your hands on the chair (on each side of the chair). Slowly start descending your entire body in front of the chair by using your arm.

This exercise can also be done with a slightly elevated object and on the ground, so a chair isn't necessary, but it's a good option because it'll put more strain on your tricep.

Lunges

lunges exercises

A lunge is a simple exercise that's meant to strengthen your thighs. This exercise, compared to a couple of previous ones, does not require any objects to do. You start by standing upwards, and feet close together. Place your hands on your hips and take a big step forward with one of your legs. Lower your hips but keep the front foot completely flat and keep your back heel lifted a bit.

Continue lowering yourself until the knee of your rear foot nearly touches the floor. Push yourself back up to the position you started in. Repeat for the other side as well!

Nutrition Plans for your Specific Needs

Having a proper diet is essential in keeping you strong and healthy. The unfortunate truth is that it's all too easy to fumble and start eating poorly. Make sure you figure out what nutrition plan you need for your specific needs. It all depends on whether you want to lose weight, stagnate, or gain muscle.

Finding a proper nutrition plan shouldn't be too difficult, but the first step is always to give up junk food and start eating healthy!

How to Use Self Myofascial Release to Feel Your Best

How to Use Self Myofascial Release to Feel Your Best

Ah, the foam roller. The glorious foam roller.

After an extensive training session, it hurts so well to roll around on that hardened piece of foam. But apart from feeling so awesome on aching muscles it can also reduce chronic pain and rehabilitate a host of injuries.

The proper word for this method is called Self-Myofascial Release Technique (SMRT), and it really is the smart way to long-term regeneration.

Let’s first deconstruct this word and technique

Fascia is a sort of sheet of connective tissue that covers the muscles, bones, and joints. The entire body's structure is covered in a fascia layer, from organs to muscles to blood vessels.

When we overwork the muscles, the fascia layers can tear and turn into adhesions. This is when the layers of fascia stick together. These adhesions halt normal muscle development and can cause pain and discomfort.

The good news is that these adhesions can be released when we apply pressure, such as through deep tissue massage, mobility balls or foam rollers. When we release these tissues it creates a biochemical and mechanical change that provides the opportunity to become more flexible in the future.

The 4 Key Rules for SMRT

rules for SMRT

Before getting into the specific techniques, there are some general rules to follow when practicing self-myofascial release.

  1. Always proceed with caution. Don’t go rolling willy-nilly, over bone and at a fast pace. Take it easy and locate tender areas.
  2. When you do locate a tender point, stop rolling and rest there until the pain decreases by at least 75% (i.e. 10 to 20 seconds). Remember that it’s the pressure, not the rolling that smooths out fascia.
  3. To apply more pressure use only one appendage at a time, for example, when rolling your hammies, put your foot on your thigh to apply more pressure.
  4. You will most likely feel pain in certain areas. This is normal as releasing adhesion is no walk in the park. Just remember to be controlled and slow, pausing when necessary. Just remember not to apply pressure to the bone, only muscle.

What you can use

  • Foam roller. Any foam roller will do, but I recommend one with PVC piping in the middle as it holds its shape for longer.
  • Mobility ball. A lacrosse ball is a good option if you can’t get your hands on a proper mobility ball.

Self-Myofascial Release 101: 5 Techniques You Have to Know and Use Every Day — Be SMRT!

You can easily spend 45 minutes on a full body SMRT session and it can be combined with any warm up/cool down, pre or post-exercise. Here are some techniques, but remember you can focus on any part of the body that needs attention. These next 5 Self-Myofascial Release Techniques are enough to make your body feel great again…

SMRT techniques

1. Adductor

If you sit for long periods of time, this will help open up the hips, alleviating lower back pain.

Extend the thigh and place the foam roller in the groin region with your body face down. Be cautious when rolling near the adductor complex at the pelvis, do not roll on bone. Roll from pelvis to knee.

2. Hamstring

Foam rolling your hamstrings can lead to a significant increase in your general range of motion.

Place your hamstring on the roller with your hips unsupported. If you want to apply more pressure, you can cross your feet. Roll from your knee toward you posterior hip.

3. Quadriceps

Rolling out the quads can also increase your range of motion significantly.

Place your quads on the foam roller with your body face down. Don't slouch! It's important to maintain proper core control, with tight abs and glutes. You don't want to overarch your lower back, which can cause additional injury. Roll from pelvic bone to knee.

4. IT Band

Your IT band is connected to your knee, so when you loosen the muscles around your IT band, your kneecap starts to track correctly.

Position yourself on your side, lying on your foam roller. The bottom of your leg should be raised slightly off the floor. Keep your head in a neutral position with your ears aligned to your shoulders. Don't overdo this one. Keep it in moderation otherwise, you could injure yourself. Roll just below the hip joint down to the outside thigh and then to the knee.

5. Upper Back (Thoracic Spine)

Poor spine mobility is quite common from our slouching sedentary lifestyle. It can lead to tension in your neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips. This tension can then lead to bad posture, aches, and pain. Foam rolling your upper back can lead to better posture.

Place your hands behind your head and wrap your arms around your chest to open the shoulder blades. Raise your hips. Stabilize your head to a neutral position. Roll your mid-back area on the foam roller being careful not to roll on your bone or vertebrae.

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