Category Archives for "Fitness Training"

The latest fitness training information to keep your body in top condition

Your Fit Body Goals Understood

body goals

Body goals are creating your reality

Why are body goals creating your reality?

Whatever goals that you set as a vision for your body, will drive the creation of what it ultimately becomes.

Not having any set body goals, leaves it totally to chance, whereas setting proper body goals gives you direction, and a sense of accomplishment when you've realised your goals.

The tips, resources and advice I'm sharing with you here will help you to cut through all the noise and confusion that's around, and create your own body goals, to ensure that you get the great results, for the body that you want.

Set your own body goals

Just remember, always set your own goals.  Don't become obsessed with constantly comparing yourself with others.  We are all different, and people are all at different stages of training and development, so often comparing yourself to others is not giving you an accurate comparison. 

The images portrayed by many celebrities or fitness models in the main stream media, or on social media, is not the reality of their 24/7 lives, rather it is either an artificially modified image, or a snap shot in a brief period where they have a peak physique, not something they maintain over a long period.  

Lots of us measure our level of fitness by bluntly standing on a weighing scale. The rest of the story depends on what the scale tells us. But if we go a little deeper and analyze the correlation between our weight and fitness, we come to realize that there isn’t any.

Consider a 70- kg female boxer in the heavy weight division and contrast her with an average office assistant who weighs only 50 kg. Can you determine who is more physically fit merely by looking at their weight? I don’t think so.

There must be much more to fitness, and setting proper body goals than just analyzing one’s weight.

How about height? Height is a good identifier when it is coupled with weight as it helps to determine how the weight is distributed around the body.

So far we have two fitness identifiers, height and weight, but there is much more to fitness than just height and weight.

I know a college teenager who was 5’ 9” and weighed only 55 kg. By most standards, she was underweight according to her height and weight. The astonishing thing about this girl was that she was actually underweight and fat.

After some initial measurements, the college student underwent a detailed body composition test that discovered she had a fat percentage of over 30%, which technically made her obese even though she was underweight by all other standards.

To analyze your fitness fully, you should undergo proper testing and measurement first, by getting yourself checked by professionals.

This means checking for vitals (BP, rate of respiration, etc.) and going through the basic medical tests.

Body composition test

Second comes a body composition test. This is crucial for your fitness and body goals as it tells you exactly where you stand in terms of fitness and how far you are from your ideal body goals.

A typical body composition test result would look like the table below:

Body Type

Athletic

Gender

Female

Age

30 Years

Height

175 cm

Weight

62.3 kg

BMI

22

BMR

1411 Kcal

Impedance

530 Ohm

Fat%

13.80%

Fat Mass

8.6 kg

FFM

52.7 kg

TBW

40 kg

*Actual Result extracted from Tanita Body Composition Analyzer TBF 410

While Tanita have a range of body composition monitors that are suited to most people as an in home solution, the In Body company provides equipment on a more industrial / fitness center level, to accurately measure body composition.

If there is a fitness center near you that has one of the In Body monitors that you can use, I'd suggest taking a test, as you will get lot's of great data from which to formulate your body goals.

In Body have a great web page on their site, which explains why focusing on body composition is much better than focusing on weight loss or gain alone, along with other great tips on setting body goals that are right for you. 

I'd suggest that you check it out via this link. 

Cardiovascular fitness

Another good measure of how physically fit you are is to test your cardiovascular fitness. 

This is your bodies ability to transport and use oxygen during exercise.

The K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, put together a test to give yourself a measure of this, compared to a world wide average.  You can try it by going to their site below;

body goals fitness world

Your body goals change

What are healthy body goals for you will change, depending on many factors, such as where you are in your training journey, how disciplined you are able to be with your diet, and realistically your basic genetic make up. 

As your body ages, what are realistic body goals will change as well.

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It's nice to believe that "age is just a number' and I'm  all for pushing yourself as hard as you can no matter what your age, but understanding how you need to adapt to your body's aging process is just a sensible thing to understand. 

ERIBA science hall have built a really good resource, that helps explain what aging means for the human body.  I suggest no matter what your age, you'll find something of interest that improves your understanding of your body.  Check out the site below;

body goals fitness

Important terms for body goals

Before going any further, let’s define some of the terms we’ll be discussing, and that you'll come across along with abbreviations used and some exercises referred to, which may be new to you.

Fat Percentage: Percentage of fat in your body by mass.

Fat % = (Fat Mass / Total Mass) x 100

BMI: Body Mass Index indicates the amount of fat in a body by considering height and weight.

BMI = Mass ( kg) / (Height (m)) ²

The result of the BMI can be analyzed to deduce in which category you fall.

BMI < 18.5

Underweight

18.5 < BMI < 25

Normal

25 < BMI < 30

Overweight

BMI > 30

Obese

BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the number of calories your body burns in a day if you do not move at all. BMR constitutes the calories consumed in bodily processes such as digestion, respiration, maintaining core temperature, etc.

FFM: Fat Free Mass. This is the total weight of your body if we disregard the weight of the fat.

            FFM = Total Weight - Weight of Fat

TBW: Total Body Water. This is the weight of water contained in the body.

1RM: This is the maximum amount of weight you can lift if you were to perform a single repetition of a given exercise

Repetitions performed until failure: This means that repetitions are continued until you cannot physically move the weight to complete a further repetition.

I note that this is not just till you feel a bit tired during a set, or it’s getting really hard to move the weight.  It means that you physically cannot complete the repetition.

Also, not to confuse the issue, I note that sometimes once completing full repetitions becomes impossible, you may still be able to complete partial repetitions, and this allows you to continue to work the muscles until you cannot move the weight at all.

Training splits: Training splits, or split routines refers to a training methodology wherin workouts are structured so that exercises which work different body parts, or different types of training are programed  to occur during different workouts, or on different days. 

For example, I might train lower body on one training day, and the next training day train upper body.  Or, I might train chest and biceps on one training day, and the next train back and triceps.

Hypertrophy Stimulus: Is a term for activity causing muscle hypertrophy, such as resistance training through such things as body weight exercise or weight lifting.

Muscle Hypertrophy: Is a term for the growth and increase of the size of muscle cells.

Set: A set is the total number of repetitions / lifts that are completed in a row without rest.

For example you might complete three sets, with 20 repetitions in the first 15 repetitions in the second and 5 repetitions in the third, which would commonly be shown as the weight lifted by the number of repetitions in the set. i.e 50 x 20, 80 x 15, 100 x 5.  The workout for that exercise would therefore have comprised of three sets.

Super Setting: In a superset, multiple exercises are performed back-to-back without any rest period.

Smith Machine: A piece of equipment commonly used in weight training, comprising a barbell fixed between two steel posts / rails, usually counterbalanced, allowing only vertical movement of the barbell.  Commonly used for exercises such as overhead pressing, or some variaitions of squatting.

V02 Max: Is the maximum oxygen uptake or the maximum volume of oxygen that can be utilized in one minute during maximum exercise. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight. It is used as one factor to assist in determining an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise, and is linked to aerobic endurance.

Deadlift: An exercise in weightlifting in which the weight, being plates fixed to either end of a barbell is lifted from the floor to the level of the hips and then lowered by controlled effort to the floor.

Squat: An exercise in weightlifting where you squat down as if you were sitting in a squat position with your bum touching your heels, then stand back up, with a weighted barbell across your upper back.

DB Flyes: An exercise in which you lay flat on a bench holding a dumbell in both hands and extend your arms out to the side, then raise them up and continue to raise and lower as if flapping your wings, in a controlled motion.

Stasis dermatitis: is an inflammatory skin condition that develops following fluid build-up, or blood pooling (stasis), just under the skin as a result of problematic circulation.

Body goals and target setting

What are your body goals? What do you want ultimately to achieve?

weight training

Realization, and visualisation of your goals is a very important step for the start of your program.

Your goals need to be high enough to make you work hard, but also realistic so that you don’t give up trying.

A sensible goal can make the difference between a well-motivated individual and a dejected person who gives up soon after she starts her quest for the ideal body.

For example, my goal after spending many years behind an office desk was to reduce my body fat percentage from around 26% to 14%, with my weight staying relatively stable at around 62 kg to 65 kg.

This meant that I needed to exchange fat mass for lean body mass. My strength (muscle) content had dropped off over the years and had been replaced by fat, and I needed to reverse that before it got worse in the interest of my health and general performance and enjoyment in all areas of life.

Committing to and achieving measurable body goals like this gives you the confidence to realize that you can continue with the process and achieve further goals.

Achieving your fitness goals will assist you in so many other areas of your life, I assure you.

A further example of a realistic goal, especially for women, is a fat percentage of 16%, with a total body weight remaining unchanged.

To achieve this goal, depending what condition your body is starting in, you may have to gain a considerable amount of lean mass while losing some body fat. 

This goal would indicate someone who is likely to be starting at a better general fitness level, based on the lower body fat levels, but the significant gain in muscle mass combined with trimming down body fat levels will produce impressive results both in appearance and athletic performance.

Generally speaking, women have a higher fat percentage than men.


The bar is much stricter for men than it is for women. There are obvious physiological differences between men and women that cannot be overlooked, which is why I am writing this more specifically for women.

Below is a fat percentage chart that will give you an idea where you stand in terms of body fat quantity.

Women (Fat Percentage)

Men (Fat Percentage)

Essential Fat

10-12%

2-4%

Athletes

14-20%

6-13%

Healthy

21-24%

14-17%

Slightly Overweight

25-31%

18-25%

Obese

Beyond 32%

Beyond 25%

Setting realistic body goals can be broken down into smaller, short-term goals as well.

We are all guilty of setting goals and targets that cannot be tracked. This makes them non-ideal or unrealistic to start with.

Targets and goals like, ‘I want to get into my old dresses,’ or, ‘I want six-pack abs,’ aren’t ideal goals to start with.

A good idea is to translate these goals into something quantitative that can be measured throughout your fitness routine.

A target such as, ‘I want to get into my old dresses,’ may be translated into, ‘I want to decrease my waist from 36’ to 30’ while attaining a BMI of 21’.

This makes it measureable and realistic.

A goal such as, ‘I want six packs’, after a bit of research, can be translated into ‘I want a fat percentage of 14% while keeping my ideal bodyweight of 62 kg.

This will show me my six-packs!’

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Framed

Step 1. Setting up a SMART goal

Everyone has different objectives, and everyone wants something different from their fitness regime.

The examples above show you just a few of the goals for which you can aim.

Just remember to break down your ultimate body goals into smaller milestones to keep you motivated as you go for the ultimate goal.

Another important aspect is that your body goals should be time-framed.

You should set aside a realistic date by which you want to attain your ideal body.

This can be three months from now or three years from now depending on your current physical shape.

The time frame should once again be realistic. If you want to lose 12 kg, you shouldn’t go for a time frame of one month.

To time-frame your results, you need to calculate accurately how long it will take to achieve your fitness goal based on realistic expectations of body re-composition change caused by your planned diet and training regime.

This is where proper programming becomes important, as I explain further here. And in this blog about proper training and the principles of progressive overload;

leg workouts for women

If you understand what effect an increase in strength generated from an increase in lean body mass (muscle) will have when combined with a correctly tailored diet, you can pre-determine what your changes in body composition will be.

When you program your strength gains, you can accurately time-frame your fitness goals.

This is where strength training becomes much more effective than other forms of exercise.

Women, generally, have a tendency to shy away from everything related to weight training, but as you will soon discover, it is a very effective way of sculpting your body.

Many fitness athletes have personalized goals that have nothing to do with their body.

These may be something like, ‘Running 100 meters in 10 seconds,’ or, ‘Swimming a 50m butterfly under xyz seconds’.

Fitness goals like these can also work for you. It is not necessary that your fitness goal is closely related to your body, as long as you have a smart goal, you have a good starting point.

Your dream body—Facing the facts!

If you’re looking for some motivational prep talk, now is the time to look away!

Unlike all posts, books, programs and videos that tell you that body recomposition, weight loss, having legs and abs to die for and being fitness model material is a piece of cake, I’m going to tell you that it is one of the hardest things to do.

Life doesn’t give you shortcuts. Sometimes you do get lucky when you win a lottery or something, but that doesn’t happen in physical training, weight loss and body recomposition.

In my experience  involved in many different aspects of sport, I haven’t heard of anyone suddenly attaining the body she dreamed of when she was a kid.

It’s a long, hard path, and each day you have to fight.

You have to fight with yourself, physically and mentally. ’ 

Every day you have to think, ‘Today I am better than yesterday, and no matter what happens tomorrow, I’ll be better than what I am today.’

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Conviction and commitment are two words that you need to stick by if you want to be physically fit and look good at the same time.

body goals

Watching Tia Clair Toomey’s extraordinary performance winning a gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games was the easiest thing I had to do.

I was sitting on my couch with my chocolate and coffee while she did things that common folks would never even try.

I wondered about the effort, thinking, and the grueling hours of training that went into her preparation to complete the Olympic lifts.

What about the proper type of nutrition that she had to consume to maintain strength and agility in her body? Just thinking about it made my head spin.

Fitness, performance, and a great body come at a price.

This price includes proper effort and time, but the rewards are worth it.

Programs that promise six-packs in a week are a waste of time. Any program that offers a great shortcut is a clear scam.

Any advertisement that tells of a wonder pill will either give a bucket full of side effects and/or have no effect on your body.

The current consumer market is full of pills, wonder diets, supplements and equipment that give you false hope.

What they do is manipulate people into buying these useless products.

Supplements that are animal tested, pills that are placebo, equipment that makes no sense at all. the market is flooded with such things to attract the unwary. Not all of them are worthless, but, to keep a long story short, most of them are.

A really good resource that I would suggest, which helps sort the facts from the fiction for you, is the site from Simple Science Fitness below; 

Body Goals

Their site has lots of great tools to help you understand the different terms and ways of measuring your fitness.  They help you to sort what is scientifically proven from what is just fiction, and how exercise truly benefits your body.

Rather than searching for short cuts, you may want to consider working hard for your dream physique.

This is how  athletes do it. Prepare and follow a program with discipline, a program that will ensure constant and measurable results, and your body will reward you.

You must also consider time management.

If you’re committed enough, you will surely find the odd hour to dedicate to your health and fitness out of your daily 24 hours.

Excuses like, ‘I don’t have the time,’ and, ‘I’m too busy,’ mean you will fail.

The art is to find time and make the most of it. If you can’t work out in the evening, start working out first thing in the morning. If you can’t wake up a bit earlier in the morning then you’re probably too soft to follow a program that guarantees you your ideal physique!

There is always time, before going to work, in between your morning and evening lecture, before going to bed, or in your office lunch break.

It is up to you how you find time to complete your physical training, and remember, the rest of your life will be better for it.

The right nutrition for your body goals

All the training in the world won't achieve great results, without the right nutrition plan to support your training and body goals.

People will often debate what percentage of a great body is built in the gym versus the kitchen.  Even if it's 50-50, you should feel that's important enough to give it some focus in your goal setting and planning.

This post on sports nutrition will explain in detail what you need to know to work out your own proper nutrition plan to support your body goals.

Share your success

I'd love to hear what body goals you've set for yourself, or even already achieved, so please don't be shy and share with me in the comments below, or send me an e-mail with your before and after selfies, and share your success!

Abs Challenge – 30 Day Workout Plan to get Abs

abs challenge

Perfect abs in 30 days, if you complete the abs challenge

Abs challenge may seem like an empty promise.

But if you stick with it, and complete these ab workouts, one a day, for the next thirty days, you'll be surprised and pleased with just how much better your abs look and feel. 

Well defined abs are recognised as the most desired measure of fitness, but it isn't easy to achieve.  This abs challenge is designed to gradually progress in intensity, firming and building strong abs that are functional and sexy.

So get started, stay consistent, and in thirty days, hello abs!

Abs challenge workouts

Day 1

15 second bicycle

10 leg raises with hip thrust

10 second plank

Day 2

20 second bicycle

12 leg raises with hip thrust

15 second plank

Day 3

25 second bicycle

14 leg raises with hip thrust

20 second plank

Day 4

30 second bicycle

16 leg raises with hip thrust

25 second plank

Day 5

35 second bicycle

18 leg raises with hip thrust

30 second plank

Day 6

40 second bicycle

20 leg raises with hip thrust

35 second plank

Day 7

45 second bicycle

22 leg raises with hip thrust

40 second plank

Day 8

50 second bicycle

24 leg raises with hip thrust

40 second plank

Day 9

55 second bicycle

26 leg raises with hip thrust

45 second plank

Day 10

60 second bicycle

28 leg raises with hip thrust

50 second plank

Day 11

65 second bicycle

30 leg raises with hip thrust

55 second plank

Day 12

70 second bicycle

32 leg raises with hip thrust

60 second plank

Day 13

75 second bicycle

34 leg raises with hip thrust

65 second plank

Day 14

80 second bicycle

36 leg raises with hip thrust

70 second plank

Day 15

85 second bicycle

38 leg raises with hip thrust

75 second plank

Day 16

90 second bicycle

40 leg raises with hip thrust

60 second plank

Day 17

95 second bicycle

42 leg raises with hip thrust

65 second plank

Day 18

100 second bicycle

42 leg raises with hip thrust

65 second plank

Day 19

105 second bicycle

44 leg raises with hip thrust

70 second plank

Day 20

110 second bicycle

46 leg raises with hip thrust

75 second plank

Day 21

115 second bicycle

48 leg raises with hip thrust

65 second plank

Day 22

120 second bicycle

50 leg raises with hip thrust

70 second plank

Day 23

125 second bicycle

52 leg raises with hip thrust

75 second plank

Day 24

130 second bicycle

54 leg raises with hip thrust

80 second plank

Day 25

135 second bicycle

56 leg raises with hip thrust

85 second plank

Day 26

140 second bicycle

50 leg raises with hip thrust

70 second plank

Day 27

145 second bicycle

52 leg raises with hip thrust

75 second plank

Day 28

150 second bicycle

54 leg raises with hip thrust

80 second plank

Day 29

155 second bicycle

56 leg raises with hip thrust

85 second plank

Day 30

160 second bicycle

58 leg raises with hip thrust

90 second plank

Exercises explained;

The three exercises included in this 30 day abs challenge are reasonably simple, but with daily repetition and the gradual increase in quantity, they are designed to target and tone your abs.

If you're not familiar with these ab exercises, I've recorded a quick demonstration on each below.

Bicycle

The elbows to knees (otherwise known as the bicycle) works both the upper and lower abdominals.

Lie on the ground / mat, with your hands behind your head supporting the neck.

Pull your stomach muscles in toward the spine and lift your knees to a 90-degree angle.

Twist bringing one elbow to meet the opposite knee as that knee is pulled further toward the chest. The opposite leg will straighten.

From here, twist to the other side pulling the straight leg toward the chest and straightening the already bent leg, essentially making the legs mimic the motion made while riding a bicycle.

It is important to keep your breath at a regular pace and to use your hands to support the head, not pull on it. It is not necessary that the elbows actually touch the knees as long as the twisting motion still occurs.

Leg raises with hip thrust

This exercise targets the lower and middle abdominals.

Begin by lying on the floor with your hands resting along the sides of your body.

Bend your knees and keep your feet raised about two inches off the floor.

Slowly bring your knees up toward your chest, contracting your abdominals while raising the pelvis off the floor.

Hold for a second, and then lower your pelvis and legs back to the starting position.

The movements for this exercise should be done slowly and deliberately.

Plank

The plank is not only a great exercise for your upper, middle and lower abdominals; it is great for the entire body.

Start in the push-up position.

Next bend your elbows and lower down shifting weight from your hands to the forearms.

Pull your stomach into the spine to keep the body in a straight line.

Do not let your hips drop or your rear rise.

Hold for the time noted in each days workout. If this is not possible, hold for as long as possible, then take a five second rest and repeat until the time held in the position reaches a minute, or longer as per that days workout.

The plank is a strength move; the more it is done, the longer it will be possible to hold the position.

Beginners may find it easier to drop the knees to the floor until the muscles have built up enough to hold the plank while resting only on the forearms and toes.

Those more advanced might like to make the plank more challenging by extending an arm and the opposite leg in the air. Hold for a set time, and then change sides.

Eating right for your abs challenge

So now you've got the exercises down and dusted for the 30 day abs challenge, but if you really want people to see those defined abs, you need to get your diet right as well. 

You can train as much as you like, but if your diet isn't good, your body will struggle to make any meaningful changes. 

A good clean eating diet, with the correct amount of macro nutrients like protein, fats and carbohydrate, worked out to suite your personal body and goals, will ensure great results. 

For a full guide on how to calculate your macro nutrients check out this post on sports nutrition.

And for some easy clean eating meal ideas, try these 31 recipes.

clean eating recipe, garlic chicken

Garlic Chicken With Roasted Sweet Potato

Wrapping up your abs challenge

I'm sure you'll enjoy completing this 30 day abs challenge, and I invite you to keep going after you've finished your first thirty days. 

Why stop there?

Reset, and start another thirty day challenge.  Just select some different ab exercises so that your workouts will have some variety, and your body won't get used to the same training.

Keep at it, and before you know it you'll be sharing #fitspo selfies to be proud of!

13 Greatest Myths About Strength Training

myths about strength training

Greatest myths about strength training

Myths about strength training have been around since people started training, there’s nothing new about that.

But it seems to me, that there’s an imbalance, with most of the myths being about women and strength training, often mostly believed by women, who therefore avoid proper strength training.

myths about strength training - fat guys

If you’re a guy, you’re over the age of 18, and you believe more than five of these myths about strength training, well sorry, you’re just a lazy man, and the only part of your body likely to be described as large will be your belly

You really should read on, and start lifting some serious weight.

The status is starting to change, with more women understanding the true benefits of proper strength training, and getting involved.  

But the topic of weight training has been blessed with a plethora of myths and misinformation.

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Let’s debunk some of these myths and find the truth behind them.

You can’t lose weight with strength training

‘Don’t bench press with so much weight! You’re already obese, if you lift weights the fat will become more solid and it will become even harder to lose’

‘You can’t lose weight with weight training. No one becomes thin while doing weight training; everyone gains weight.’

These two statements bring back teenage memories when I had illiterate mentors! Now I can probably write a book on this single myth about strength training alone.

The fact of the matter is that strength training is a form of exercise. You lift weights, you move your body and to do this, you need energy which is derived from the food you eat or from the fuel reserves (Fat) you have.

Strength training can help you lose weight in the following ways:

  • Strength training increases lean mass which needs energy to maintain. As a result you end up using calories just maintaining your muscle mass! This inevitably results in increased metabolic rate.
  • Calories are burnt during a particular workout.
  • Calories are burnt during the process of muscle hypertrophy

NEED MOTIVATION TO LOSE WEIGHT?

Just eat in front of the mirror. Naked.

You get really fat once you give up strength training

‘What happens is that once you give up weight training, the muscle mass you gained, starts to store excessive amounts of fat and you start to gain weight’

Repeat this sentence in front of anyone who knows basic human anatomy and they will probably call you an idiot! 

Muscle mass needs maintenance.

Once you stop working out your muscles, the body feels no need to maintain the same amount of muscle mass so your body starts to lose excess muscle mass that is not required by your daily routine.

The lean mass drop is very gradual.

This decrease in muscle mass doesn’t mean that fat starts to rush into the so called empty spaces.

Most weight trainers get fat because they give up weight training but they don’t give up their eating patterns which were designed to supplement their training routine.

This becomes simple mathematics, they start to eat more than what they burn and as a result they start to become fat.

You will ruin your spine!

‘If you lift weights daily, you will probably dislocate your spinal discs.’

This would have to be one of the all time biggest myths about strength training.

Really, you may or may not; it all depends on how safe you play.

If you lift with proper form for each exercise and the weight you use is well within your control, chances are that your spine will be alright.

The other thing to remember is that weight training actually strengthens your spine.

I’ve known many people with reported back problems whom I suggested light dead lifts coupled with a few other back exercises and the results were very satisfying. Most of them reported that their pain had improved or disappeared altogether.

When I stopped training for a number of years, and my muscles “relaxed” I developed bad back pain, both from previous sporting injury which became active because of the lack of muscle support and just the fact that I was spending hours sitting at a desk. 

I developed bad problems in my lower back, which progressed to my upper back, and then the middle of my back.  I was in my late twenties and sometimes felt crippled by the pain.  I fixed that by weight training to increase my muscle strength.

I told a champion power lifter, I don’t think I should do dead lifts because of my bad back. 

He asked me;

Are you crippled? Do you ever pick up your luggage, or the shopping? 

I understood the point. 

myths about strength training

I refused to accept my fear of doing more injury to my back, which was a natural protective instinct, just the same as when you have bad back pain, you don’t want to brush your teeth or sit in the one spot for too long.  

I started dead lifting, and never looked back. (No pun intended) Yes, sometimes I feel some weakness in my lower back.  Anyone training seriously with dead lifts usually will.  And I listen to my body and adjust my training sets to suite, but I always make sure that I’m working properly.  

As a result, after a period of about six months, I didn't have any more back pain. It feels strong and stable, and I have stopped paying the physios and chiropractors for what used to be almost weekly visits.

Yes, you will find lots of advice from physios and chiropractors, that will tell you to stay well away from moves such as the dead lift, and I’m not saying they’re always wrong. 

But please use some of your own judgment as well, and even just try some gentler strengthening moves for your back first.  

As you feel it improving, your confidence will also improve and you can continue to advance.

As you do that, you will leave the back pain behind.  I’m sorry, but your back pain will be replaced by sore leg muscles if you are dead lifting, but I’m sure you’ll find that positively enjoyable, when you start to see the muscle gains that change your body.

In fact, I have known a chiropractor who is a power lifting champion, who has set dead lifting records. 

Yes, he handles extreme weight, and so puts his joints out from time to time, but I’m sure that he doesn’t advise people to stay away from weight training to protect their joints.

The secret is that weight training improves muscle mass and bone density. Your spine is supported by multiple muscle groups and these muscle groups improve their muscle fiber density by virtue of strength training.

Stronger and larger the muscle, the safer is your spine!

This article by the Harvard medical school actually says that weight training increases the strength of bones in the hips, spine and wrists, which they also say are the points most likely to suffer fractures.

You will start using steroids

myths about strength training - steroids

Unless you really want to - there’s no compulsion that you really have to get into steroids while you strength train.

It’s a form of exercise, not a cult!

You are solely responsible for the choices and decisions you make.

Although steroids are strongly associated to body building (the same way rock n roll is associated with drugs.) there are a plenty of body builders, weight trainers, and fitness enthusiast who do it without steroids; some even do it without any supplements; there are a few who even do it without meat (Vegans)!

Keeping this in mind, you will not start using steroids unless you really want to, and I certainly won’t recommend that you do.

Strength training ruins flexibility

There are countless athletes who have a considerable amount of muscle mass but they are equally flexible.

There is no particular relation between lean body mass and flexibility.

Watch a replay of Usane Bolt running the hundred meters, and see flexible muscle mass working like a fine symphony.

Yoga being all about flexibility of the body; there are numerous Yoga instructors that are as flexible as Gumby but as buffed as He-man!

Forgive my analogies but if there’s any relation between strength training and flexibility, it is that strength training actually improves flexibility.

When you train, your joints go through a full range of motion. Your muscles contract & relax and these movements actually improve flexibility.

Just don’t be lazy, and remember to incorporate a good stretching regime into your program.

Strength training is good for building muscle but bad for the heart

This one actually elevates my blood pressure whenever I hear it!

Taking into account, eleven clinical trials that have been conducted on Cholesterol and strength training suggest that strength training helps in reduction of LDL Cholesterol.

This kind of Cholesterol (The unhealthy kind) is responsible for clogging the arteries and increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. This is true for most anaerobic exercises.

This evidence suggests that strength training is actually good for the heart.

On the other hand, if we analyze aerobic exercise, we see that this kind of training additionally helps improve HDL cholesterol (Healthy kind).

This isn’t true for anaerobic exercise. So we may conclude that aerobic exercise is healthier for the heart than its anaerobic counterpart but nevertheless anaerobic exercise like strength training improves the heart’s health.

Another thing to consider is blood flow. Strength training helps reduce blood pressure.

This is true for aerobic exercise as well.

This article from Medical News Today lists some more hearth health benefits of strength training.

Weight training is bad for your joints

‘If you do weight training you will end up with hollow joints!’

I actually got this suggestion from a running coach; maybe he was trying to get me into his running team.

Weight training involves controlled, non-impact movement which improves the health of your joints, ligaments and the muscles surrounding the joint.

So yes, the myth is actually a myth.  

Just a note of caution, some Olympic lifts can put incredible strain on your joints, but we aren’t talking about that type of training here.  

Unless you are gifted, and training to compete in Olympic lifting competitions, you won’t encounter those problems.

If you are, then you should already be aware of what the future holds for some of you.  If you’re not, ask your coach at your next session, and make an informed decision about how much you are prepared to sacrifice.  

It’s a similar decision that most professional athletes will have to make in one way or another.

Doing weights will make you bulky

myths about strength training steroids

‘I don’t train with weights because I don’t want to get bulky!’

This is one of the biggest myths that prevent women from engaging with proper strength training.

If they’ve got a hang up with this belief, then at most you’ll find them using really light weights for higher reps, in the belief that this will help with “toning” and develop “thin muscles”

Firstly, the way muscles are shaped on your body is largely as a result of your natural anatomy, not the type of weight training you’ve done. 

Given two people of equal strength, one short in stature with short limbs, the other tall with long limbs, the shorter one will appear to have larger muscles.

Due to the lack of testosterone, and the presence of estrogen, around 90% of women will never be physiologically able to build the amount of muscle that it takes to look bulky.

So all you are doing by avoiding proper strength straining, is cheating your body out of the results that is could be achieving which would result in a feminine physique with curves in all the right places.

Cardio burns more calories than strength training

Women can often be seen spending hours at the gym running on tread mills, developing scrawny run down systems, sometimes to the extent that they end up suffering from overtraining.

They are likely suffering from this myth.

The truth is that your muscles continue burning calories for longer even after you’ve finished strength training, as apposed to a cardio session.

And someone with a more muscular physique can burn up to an extra 50% more calories than that of a runner, just moving around throughout the day. 

 That can add up to a lot of extra calories used up, just by living, making strength training a really good option if it’s calorie’s out that you’re worried about

Body weight exercises are as good as weight training

weight training


While I love body weight exercises, and it is true that you can build a really wonderful physique full of athletic strength and performance, you cannot achieve the same level of stresses placed on the body as training with heavy weights does. 

And it is that additional stress that you are able to apply to the body through proper weight training, that will achieve the great results that I believe we should all aspire to.


I really like incorporating calisthenics into my training routines, and think that disciplines like yoga and pilates have loads of benefits, but nothing can beat the shear bang for your buck that you get from time spent progressing a proper strength training program.

You should be sore after every strength training workout

Lots of people think that they should feel sore after every weights workout, and that if they don’t then it mustn’t have been a good workout.

While beginners will almost always feel soreness because their muscles are not at all used to handling these types of stresses, as your body becomes more adapted, fitter and stronger, it’s recovery will become better as well.

You will likely still feel soreness after you make changes to a workout routine, or add significant volume or intensity, but if your body is sore all the time, then you may need to allow more time for recovery. 

It is during recovery that your body strengthens and grows new muscles fibers, so this is a critically important part of the process. 

If you are not recovering properly, your progress will suffer.

Instead of using a really bad arbitrary measure like, “how sore do I feel” to gauge how effective your workouts are, you should follow a proper program, and measure your results to ensure that you achieve progressive overload.

Doing this will ensure consistent progress, and avoid improper over training, because you don't want to end up here;

myths about strength training - sore muscles

Women and men should train differently

In most commercial gyms anywhere around the world, you will find trainers who are putting their male clients through workouts that include squats, deadlifts, military presses and bench pressing all with reasonably heavy weights. (most should go heavier)

In those same gyms, and often with the same trainers, women are being “worked out” using light dumb bells, weight machines with only a few plates on the peg, and loads more cardio.

This is rubbish.

There is absolutely no reason that women cannot, and should not complete the same type of exercises that men can.

In fact, training that way will give most women the best chance of obtaining the body which they really want.

While a man may train with weights in a certain way, to grow bigger, a woman training in the same way will achieve the tight, toned look that most want.

Strength training is only for young people

That’s almost as bad as saying that sex is only for young people, and we all know that’s just not true, because we’re never intending to stop doing that.

Do we ever really intend to stop doing the things we enjoy?

myths about strength training

Well, why would picking an age when it suddenly becomes unsafe to lift weights be any different?

 Unless your doctor has advised you, or told you outright to stop strength training, then it’s pretty safe to expect that you will still actually be achieving great benefits from it.

Decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, better balance, weight loss and better mental health are all assisted by strength training, which makes it a great thing for older people to be doing.

This article lists 13 benefits for people over the age of fifty achieved by strength training.

Wrapping up our myths about strength training

You might be able to find more myths about strength training if you go looking and really research it, but if you are motivated enough to do that, then the reality is that your commitment to being lazy and fat is just far too strong.

Better to spend your time researching the benefits, or better yet, just go and start strength training.

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If you are ready to get started, this post on leg workouts or this one about weight training for body sculpting will help.

Weight Training Effectively for Body Sculpting

weight training

Weight Training for Women to Sculpt Your Body

Weight training if the truth be told, and you really want to sculpt your body, is really the only way to get the results you need.

The great thing about weight training and muscle mass is that you can tweak individual muscle groups and change the shape of your body, the way you like it.

If you want to, you can work on your Gluteus (The butt as it is commonly known as!) while keeping the rest of your body pretty much the same. If you want to work on your abdominals without changing how your shoulders look; that can be done as well.

It’s similar to working on a specific part of the painting while not touching the rest of the canvas.

This can only be done through weight training and this is one cosmetic, or pure vanity reason why weight training is advantageous over other forms of exercise.

Dave Barry

"Albert Einstein discovered that a tiny amount of mass is equal to a huge amount of energy, which explains why, as Einstein himself so eloquently put it in a famous 1939 speech to the Physics Department at Princeton, 'You have to exercise for a week to work off the thigh fat from a single Snickers.'"

Where do you start with weight training

Moving you onto hardcore strength training, but just a few notes of caution here though.

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to focus on building overall body strength, before shifting any focus onto sculpting individual muscles.  

Advanced lifters and body builders will focus on fine tuning specific muscles through isolation movements, but they already have a well developed foundation, which they will continue to maintain, by continuing with their compound lifts, while adding additional isolation moves into their program. 

If you maintain your focus on the big compound moves I would recommend to you, you will develop your muscular physique far quicker.

These gains will then allow you to progress onto specific fine tuning once your body has developed to a stage where you will be able to recognize the areas which can benefit from more specific focus, incorporating isolation exercises.

Compound V isolation exercises

Compound exercises

Compound exercises use your entire body (or multiple parts of your body). They span over multiple muscle groups and joints that work together in the given exercise.

You will maximize the gains achieved from weight training, as the multiple major muscle groups engaged in compound exercises can move more weight, thereby having a greater impact on the body. 

The amount of stress / impact your body goes through during training, triggers a corresponding recovery process, where the magic happens.  Your body adapts and improves itself to allow it to cope with the additional stresses which it is encountering. 

It's therefore only logical that.  If you don't put your body under much stress while training, it won't need to adapt and improve, and there wont be much change. 

A very good example of a compound movement is the Push-up.

When you’re doing push-ups, you’re immediately targeting your Pectoral region. But your shoulders come into play too, you use your core for stabilization, and your triceps get pumped up as well. This is a classic case of a compound movement exercise.

Good examples include:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Bench press
  • Bent-over rows
  • Shoulder press or military press
  • Pull-ups
  • Bar dips
  • Dead lifts
weight training squat

Isolation exercises

Isolation exercises are different in this respect. Isolation exercises put all the stress on a particular muscle.

There is no sharing of load with other muscle groups. Isolation exercises mostly work on muscle groups that are smaller in size E.g. Biceps, Triceps, Calves.

We often talk about ‘definition’ when we talk about isolation exercise.

The truth of the matter is that isolation exercise concentrate on smaller muscle groups. Hence, it is true that isolation exercises help to define your body.

Another factor of isolation moves is that you can’t lift as much weight as you do in compound moves.

For example, you can’t lift 120 Kg on a Barbell Bicep curl but 120 Kg seems plausible when you’re lifting it off the floor while performing the dead lift. 

Obviously you are not going to be able to continually progress to heavier weights in the same way that you can with compound exercises which are using multiple major muscle groups, and it's therefore important to continue training your compound lifts, for greater progressive overload.

Good examples of isolation exercises include:

  • Triceps push down on a pulley
  • Barbell preacher curl
  • Front shoulder raises
  • Leg extension
  • Dumbbell flies
  • Calf raises

If you're not sure what compound moves to start with, try these five strength training exercises.

Progress

By that stage, when you're adding isolation exercises into your program, you will find that you already have people in the gym asking you for training tips, because the body you’re developing tells them that you know what you’re doing.

Spend less time in the gym, but spend it wisely doing effective training, which means feeling some pain while you’re training, and you’ll have more time to rest, relax and do other things in life.  And your body will thank you for it, by making better gains.

You will also see many women who shape up certain parts of their body but lack in others.

A common example is toning your arms and shoulders but the love handles never seem to go away.  

They may give you meaningless reasons like, “I’ve always had love handles and it is a genetic thing!”  

The reality is, they are most likely avoiding, or not doing enough of the hard work that needs to be done.  

This is where your personal judgment and knowledge, or the advice of an experienced strength coach comes in handy. You can always reconfigure your workout plan according to the situation.

So, quit giving lame excuses for your failure and say hello to your two new friends; hard work and pain!

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weight training

Avoid weight training in the mirror

I hope you're aware, about how good the muscles on your back can look, before I mention how good the muscles on your front can look.  

There’s method to that.  Don’t fall into the habit of only training what you can see in the mirror.  

You need to train both the rear chain and the front chain of your body, otherwise, you will almost certainly end up with posture problems through muscle imbalances.  This leads to injury, including back and neck pain.  You’ll also just end up looking funny.

Remember that other people can see you when you are going as well as when you are coming!

And also, the muscles on your back comprise some big slabs of your lean mass, so work it hard, and you will be rewarded.

weight training results

Don't waste your time on isolation myths

Don’t think that I am saying that isolating a muscle group will cause you to lose fat on that part of your body first either.  

So many “fitness guru” programs that are sold, are marketed in a way that makes you think that you can target fat reduction on a certain part of your body, to melt the fat and see the abs, by some incredible abs magic move, or the like.

There is never, ever, any "magic muscle genie" waiting to transform your body overnight, with little to no effort.

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Don't ever waste your time or money on such false promises. 

Your body loses fat in a mostly even pattern, with the reality being that the last fat to be lost from your body will be from your stomach, or sometimes for women your legs and butt.

It's a bit cruel, I know. What you'd probably most like to fix first, will be the last thing to achieve satisfactory results.  But lets remember, these areas will continually improve, you just won't be satisfied with them too quickly, in most cases. 

Train your body with compound moves, remembering that it’s all about how much weight you’ve moved, because that’s what weight training is all about, and you’ll expend the most energy (calories) to lose the most fat. 

Think like a professional and do weight training like one

Let’s be clear on one thing; your ‘gender’ doesn’t define how hard you should work out!

The equation is simple, you need to push, you need to exert yourself and you need to feel like you gave all you had to give, after each workout.

If you don’t out-do yourself in each following workout, you won’t be progressing forward in terms of sculpting your body. It's a really important fundamental of proper weight training.

You can read more about this principle, including how to make sure you are achieving progress, in this blog on progressive overload.

‘Women don’t need to go at it with such intensity’; I’ve heard this phrase from fitness trainers to common folks and it is another misconception that plagues the fitness industry.

The truth is that gender doesn’t define the intensity of your training! Go hard or go home!

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Work out, or train?

Throughout this blog we talk about “training” not “working out”.  

There is an important reason for that too.  

While many people commonly refer to “working out at the gym” if you spend time around professional athletes from any sport, you will hear them refer to all the work that they do as, “training”.  

So do you think that you will get a better result doing things the way that the majority of people “commonly” do, or by doing things the way that athletes do?

I know which group I’ve always been inspired by.

Even if you don’t aspire to become a professional athlete, by adopting similar approaches to training as they do, you will be using your time more effectively, and producing far better results. 

The professional athlete will simply spend more time every day training, because it’s their job, and usually their all consuming passion.

So what do we mean when we say “training”? 

We mean consistently setting and monitoring “smart” goals, which are achieved because we ensure that our performance and therefore our results are improved upon, each time we train.

This concept is just so critical, if you want to achieve significant improvement.  It doesn’t mean that you will never have a bad session where you don’t manage to achieve what you set out to. 

Sometimes even the best athletes have off days, but you need to recognize it as such, work out what was wrong (did I not get enough sleep / rest, was my nutrition not good enough, was I not quite over a cold, did my technique let me down today, etc) and fix it for the next session so that you are training effectively. 

When you do weight training like this, you will see continual improvement, and this will continue to motivate you, and you will find that it also inspires others around you.

If you would like some inspiration for challenging weight training workouts take a look at these 20 killer leg workouts.

Fuel your body well

If you are training properly, you need to ensure that you are also eating properly.  You need to fuel the body properly so it can perform during your training sessions. 

It's really a whole other topic to study and perfect, but as a guideline;

  • You need to be eating a consistent diet with a proper balance of the three main macro nutrients; Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. 
  • Know what your overall caloric intake should be, to achieve your goals, including consideration of energy expended completing your weight training sessions and any other intense activity, along with regular daily calorie burn.
  • When you're shopping for food, remember to read the nutrition labels, and wherever possible, buy fresh food; I.e food that's not processed or comes from a tin.
  • Remember that everything that you put into your body, will have an affect on it.  Good food will have a good affect, and bad / junk food will have a negative affect.  It's your choice!

A great start is to make sure that you are "eating clean", so for some inspiration check out these 31 easy clean eating recipes.

clean eating recipe, almond crusted salmon

Almond Crusted Salmon

Once you have been "eating clean" for a while, you will really start to feel the positive affect of good nutrition on your body, and will find that you have less and less desire for bad / junk foods. 

Good nutrition has a massive positive affect on your body, and even on your mental health. When your body is healthy and operating well, you'll feel better energy which leads to a happier more positive life.

Rest your body well

Make sure that you are getting plenty of rest and recovery as well.  Our body repairs itself while we sleep, so it's just common sense that if you aren't getting enough sleep, then your body is not able to recover properly. 

Everyone knows that sleep deprivation is actually used as a form of torture, so don't do it to yourself!

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Wrap up our weight training

If for some crazy nonsensical reason, you still don't think that strength training is for you, then read this research article from The American College of Sports Medicine, who tested 35,754 women and found that strength training reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30% and cardiovascular disease by 17%.

I'm sure you'll agree they're good reasons to give it a try.

Author Unknown

"I consider my refusal to go to the gym today as resistance training."

So, get fit, inspire others and help others attain the same fitness level. That has been part of my own journey, and I continue to learn from and be inspired by others!

How do you find inspiration to train? 

Let me know in the comments below.

Kettlebell Workout Routine For Women: Kettlebell Exercises

Kettlebell workout routine for a full body blast

Kettlebell workout routine that will give you amazing toning benefits, with kettlebell exercises for the whole body. 

Designed to sculpt your body, these awesome kettlebell exercises are also a great way to introduce some fun into your training routine. 

Training in the gym all the time can get boring, so take it outside with a kettlebell workout routine!

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Kettlebell Workout Routine

**This is only an example exercise routine, and is not providing any specific advice to any person. As with any new exercise activity, you should check with your own medical and health professionals for advice on your own personal condition prior to commencing any new activity

Exercise

Reps

Rest

Sets

kettlebell swings

20

15 seconds

x 4

double kettlebell bent over row

30

15 seconds

x 4

kettlebell front sqaut

30

15 seconds

x 4

kettlebell double snatch

20

15 seconds

x 4

kettlebell double clean and jerk

20

15 seconds

x 4

kettlebell Turkish get up

10

15 seconds

x 4

*Instructions for each kettlebell exercise follow below.

Depending on how much training you've done before, and whether you've ever used kettlebells before, you might find this workout to be a bit challenging.

If that's you, then just double the rest between sets to 30 seconds, and cut back on the amount of sets you do to say three instead of four.  But try to at least some sets of each exercise, so you get the benefit of a whole body workout.

But it you'be been training for a while and are in good shape, you might want to add some ab exercises in between sets, or following your kettlebell workout routine.

Kettlebells as exercise equipment

I came across this strange looking piece of equipment in 2010.  I know, lots of people discovered it before me:)

It appeared very crude to me, and I was reluctant to use it for exercises initially. I started with standard squats and lunges where I was focusing for leg training routines.

Then I moved on to start a few 'swinging' moves for my core synergistic muscle groups and after a little while I became familiar with this brilliant piece of equipment. Ever since, I've been recommending kettlebells for  an alternate to traditional strength training workouts. 

Firstly, there's the advantage of the handle. Women who are lifting a great deal of weight often come across gripping problems. Whether it’s the barbell or the dumbbell, the firmness of your grip will play an important part in how well you can perform an exercise. In the case of kettlebells, the handle does the magic and you don't face any problems due to grip.

kettlebell exercises

Kettlebells are cheap to buy as well. They don't cost as much as fancy 'Aluminum coated' dumbbells so you can always go ahead and buy new one's when you grow out of your old pair!

If you are interested in more information about the history, terminology and rules of kettlebell lifting, you can find that here, and here.

Kettlebell benefits

Then comes the question of using kettlebells for exercises; 

Performing kettlebell workouts can be very beneficial for a large number of muscle groups at a given time. 

Kettlebells enable you to improve on your core. The core becomes involved when you complete actions that involve 'swinging' the weight. With dumbbells and barbells, swinging actions are usually negative and should be avoided, but with kettle bells, moves like 'Double windmill' will strengthen your mid section. 

Your mid section is a very important part of the body. It serves as a bridge between your lower and upper body.

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Your bodies ability to engage it's true strength can be limited by the strength of your mid section, but this fact is often forgotten in the world of weight training. Stability and swinging moves can be incorporated using kettle bells to strengthen your core, and you will feel the improvement in your traditional lifts in the gym.

Kettlebells engage your forearms a great deal, as compared to the dumbbell or barbell.

For most exercises, the grip is such that your arm is not in its natural straight line. The classic 'briefcase grip' engages the forearm and the stronger grip causes strengthening of your forearms.

The same holds true for functional strength. A Kettlebell workout routine is great to add raw strength to your armory. Since almost all of the moves are compound moves, anything involving the kettle bells will be a complete body workout.

The best thing about kettlebells is the size of the equipment. You can keep it anywhere; Under the bed, in your closet or just by your bedside table. Since it is a single piece of equipment, it doesn't require much space but this brings us to a problem as well.

Since kettlebells are fixed weight equipment, you'll probably have to upgrade to a heavier one every once in a while. If you keep working out with the same resistance level for an extended period of time, chances are that you'll hit a plateau. So, this is a major down side of kettlebells training and body weight training which needs to be kept into mind.

As mentioned in my post on progressive overload, your muscles need to 'overload' in order to hypertrophy. The same level of resistance, over and over again doesn't overload the muscles as the body becomes accustomed to the same resistance level. In order to progress, you'll need to increase the resistance level somehow.

Kettlebell workout routine versus traditional weight training

A good analogy between 'kettlebell workout routine' and a traditional 'weight training session' would be that of a classic muscle car and a new generation sports car! If you need raw strength, grunt and power without worrying too much about external looks, you go with a muscle car. But if you want a car that performs and has a clean look with exquisite styling, you'll be happy with a new BMW rather than going for a Chevy Impaler! Same logic applies to kettle bells training. You may not achieve the very best muscle isolation with kettle bells but it does wonders with functional strength, core stability, muscle endurance and even flexibility.

The workout routine that follows contains some of the best kettlebell exercises you can do.

As you've no doubt heard before, proper form is the key. Sacrificing form for even a single repetition can end up in an injury that can haunt you for months so always be wary of what you're about to do. Belts and gloves are there for a reason, so use them when it makes sense!

Also, it is best to work out with a spotter even when you're working out with body weight or kettlebells. Your partner can help you with your form and can assist you in performing additional repetitions which are crucial for muscle growth.

Kettlebell exercises

Kettlebell swings

kettlebell workout routine
kettlebell workout routine kettlebell swings

Kettlebell swings may look clumsy, but it is one of the most effective total body exercises you can do with the kettlebell.

It gets your shoulders engaged in particular, not to mention the balancing act of your core to oppose the swinging motion of the kettlebell.

This move will strengthen your lower body as most of the stress is endured in your mid-section and your legs during the 'return swing' of the kettlebell.

  • The proper starting point of this move requires you to squat with your feet shoulder width apart. 
  • The kettlebell is extended downwards and your arm must be placed between your legs. Use the overhand grip for this move. 
  • Your back must be taut, avoid excessive hunching. This is the starting point of this move.
  • Now, swing the kettlebell under the hips and swing it in the opposite direction while raising the upper body.
  • Extend the legs and help yourself with the swinging action. The kettlebell should swing back and forth between the distance of your legs and slightly above shoulder height.

The move is similar to Front shoulder raises, but with kettlebells the move is more 'dynamic' and compound engaging your entire body.

Double kettlebell bent over row

kettlebell workout routine bent over rows
kettlebell workout routine bent over row

This move is similar to the classic single dumb bell row. 

The difference is that double kettlebell bent-over rows focuses on both sides (Left and right) simultaneously and the grip is a little different as compared to the conventional dumb bell row. 

  • For the correct starting position stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and straight back. 
  • Squat down from this position and grip two kettlebells like briefcases and return to your starting position with the kettlebells hanging freely, vertically downwards.
  • From here lift the kettlebells by bending your elbows, like you would in the class dumb bell row.
  • Make sure that you lift both kettlebells simultaneously and bring them towards your ribs.
  • The only difference in this move is that due to the changed grip, you may not perform much of a 'swing'; rather, it'll be more of a vertical 'lift'. 

The benefit is that this move is a better stressor for the lower back as you're lifting more weight and using both sides of the body simultaneously.

This is a great exercise to consider if you're looking for an alternate to classic single dumbbell rows for the back.

Kettlebell front squat

kettlebell workout routine

This is a squatting move which can be executed with the help of a kettlebell.

  • To start off, stand with your feet shoulder width apart (or a bit wider). 
  • Next important thing is how you hold the kettle bells for this particular exercise.
  • The kettle bells are to be held right in front of the shoulders whereas the arms should be kept really close to the body for the correct execution of the starting point.
  • From here, you need to bend your knees and squat down (The way you do in the classic squat or weighted squats).
  • Keep lowering your body, keeping your back straight and bent hips.
  • Lower yourself until your butt is as low as it can go, in a full squat (ass to grass). Once you hit this point, elevate your body by extending the knees and hips, standing back up straight.

The kettlebell grip is important as well, hold them as you would hold a barbell in a shoulder press.

Kettlebell double snatch

kettlebell workout routine
kettlebell exercises double snatch
kettlebell exercises double snatch move

This is similar to the snatch performed in weight lifting.

The idea is to pick the weight up from ground level and raise it above your head in one quick action.

For this two major moves are required; the squat compounded with shoulder raises.

This is a very useful move for building functional strength but without proper form or care, this move is prone to injuries. Here is the proper form:

  • Straddle two kettlebells (Which are placed on the ground) with both hands (Single KB snatch can also be done) and stand with your feet shoulder width apart; 
  • Squatting down to grasp the kettlebells.
  • Your back should be straight and your shoulders shoulder be vertically above the kettlebells.
  • Without jerking, pull the kettlesbells off the floor by extending your knees and hips, to stand up straight.
  • This initial motion is quickly followed by ballistic upward movement of the shoulder and arms to raise the kettlebells further.
  • While the kettlebells reach their maximum height, extend your arms straight above your head and aggressively pull your body right beneath the kettlebells to support their weight.
  • During this 'pulling the body underneath the kettlebells, you should go into a squat to 'catch' the kettle bell without any impact. 
  • Once the kettle bells are stably held over your head, extend hips and knees to come out of the 'cushioning' squat and stand straight holding the kettlebells straight over your head. 

This is the first repetition, lower the kettlebells back to the floor by doing a partial shoulder press followed by a smooth dead lift and repeat!

Kettlebell double clean and jerk

kettlebell workout routine double clean and jerk
kettlebell workout routine double clean
kettlebell workout routine double clean move

This is similar to the clean and jerk performed in weight lifting.

If you've already performed the kettlebell snatch, this will become pretty easy. 

The moves are quite similar and the idea is to pick the weight up from ground level and raise it above your head in two quick actions.

For this two major moves are required; the squat compounded with shoulder raises, with a little pause in between (Unlike snatch).

This is a very useful move for building functional strength but without proper form or care, this move is prone to injuries.

Here is the proper form:

  • Start with 'Clean'. Straddle two kettlebells (Which are placed on the ground with both hands) and stand with your feet shoulder width apart; 
  • Squatting down to grasp the kettlebells. 
  • Your back should be straight and your shoulders shoulder be vertically above the kettlebells.
  • Without jerking, pull the kettlebell off the floor by extending your knees and hips.
  • This initial motion is quickly followed by folding of the elbows and brings your arms beneath the kettlebells to support their weight. This is the 'Clean'.
  • Now rest briefly with your shoulders and arms supporting the weight of the kettlebells.
  •  Continue with the 'Jerk'; continue with a ballistic upward movement driven by the legs and supported by shoulder and arms to raise the kettlebells further. 

  • Extend your arms straight above your head and aggressively pull your body right beneath the kettlebells to support their weight. 

  • Once the kettlebells are stably held over your head,  stand straight holding the kettlebells straight over your head. 

This is the first repetition, lower the kettlebells back to the floor by doing a partial shoulder press followed by a smooth dead lift and repeat.

Kettlebell Turkish get up

kettlebell workout routine turkish get up
kettlebell exercises turkish get up

The Turkish get up; they don't make exercises any weirder than this!

Well the goal is to lay down with a raised kettlebell and then lift your whole body into an upright standing stance.

For this, your body transitions into many different postures and for this reason it is a total body workout.

There are many different variations of the kettlebell Turkish get up but with this version, we'll be starting while lying on the ground.

  • For the starting position, lay down on the floor, fold your right knee and abduct your left leg slightly away from your body. 
  • Hold the KB in your right hand and raise it vertically above your right shoulder.
  • Your left arm should be placed comfortably on the floor.
  • From here, while keeping your right arm raised, crunch towards your left elbow, shifting your bodyweight to your left elbow and raising the right side of your body.
  • Also use your folded right leg to power yourself to the left side.
  • Now, shift your bodyweight to the left hand, keeping your chest up and out.
  • From here it's time to get your butt off the floor!
  • From the hand supportive position, drive your body into a high bridge.
  • The key to this position is to really squeeze your right side glutes, keep your chest out and position your body in such a way that you turn into a tripod with your bodyweight being supported by your feet an left hand while your right hand is still extended vertically upwards.
  • Now sweep your left leg and position your left knee on the ground, try to get up into a lunge position with your left knee supporting the weight of your body, right knee folded at 90 degrees, left arm hanging freely and right arm holding the kettlebell.
  • Now, one simple lunging move and you're standing up straight! 

Let's not forget that you've performed only 1 repetition. Let's repeat the whole thing in reverse for more!

Kettlebell workout routine wrap up

I hope that if you haven't tried kettlebell workout routines before, that you will now, as I'm sure you'll find it fun and will feel the benefits. 

It will change your training, and reshape your body.

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If you'd like to try more kettlebell routines and learn more about training with them, then I recommend that you check out Greg Brooks site.  His Complete Guide to Kettlebell Workouts for Women will give you instructions on a few more different kettlebell exercises and some further examples of kettlebell workout routines that are really good.

And if all this throwing around of kettlebells is just making you hungry, that ok. Good nutrition is a must for anyone who wants to maintain good health and shape up, so I'm with you there.

Try one of these easy clean eating recipes, guaranteed to fix a hungry tummy, with no added fat:)

clean eating recipe, garlic chicken

Garlic chicken roasted sweet potato

I'd love to hear about anyone else's experiences training with kettlebells, because it's always great to get different perspectives and keep learning, so leave a comment bellow, and let me know how you like to use kettlebells in your own workout routines.

Running for Strength Athletes

Running for strength athletes

Running makes most strength athletes cringe. 

Perhaps you're the same, and hate anything that even looks like cardio.  Often, once the benefits of strength training are experienced, running and cardio training are easily forgotten, and relegated to the scrap heap of, things we shouldn't do.

But; Do you really want to be the person who lives through, "that awkward moment when you're wearing Nikes, and you can't do it"?

The reality is, the right kind of cardio including running when combined with a proper strength program, can help improve performance and results. 

It's often like there are two separate worlds, that can't co-exist.  "Running world" and "Lifting world".  I've observed that people living exclusively in either "world" have sub-optimal health and performance.

Runners who don't lift, are falling apart, even if they're still awesome runners. And lifters who don't run, have little to no endurance and are puffed out even climbing a set of stairs.

The right mix of both training modalities in a smartly constructed program will help either athlete be the healthiest version of themselves, while producing optimum performances for their chosen sport. 

And if you're simply training for appearance, the combination of running with strength training will produce the type of body that most desire.  Most are not chasing the results achieved at either end of the spectrum of running and lifting, which can be like skelator, or the Hulk. 

We just don't want that.  So find the right balance and enjoy your training, and the results that come with it.

Obviously, you can run indoors on a tread mill or outside in the fresh air.  I find mixing it up works best, so I run indoors when it's cold or rainy outside, but really enjoy outdoor runs when the weather is good.  

Running outdoors also has a different feel and impact on the body to tread mill running, so it's good to not let the body settle into a rhythm just doing one.  Repetitively training the same way can  produce less results over time as the body becomes accustomed to it, and taken to extreme can lead to over training more easily than a varied program.  

So mix it up, and enjoy yourself as well.

Spend a few minutes to read this post, and I think you'll see how giving some running and cardio a try as part of your strength program is a good idea.

running and cardio

Integrating running and cardio into your weight training routine;

The list of reasons to integrate cardio into your training program is endless, and so are the advantages of running.

Smart bodybuilders and weight training enthusiasts have been long using running to supplement their workout routine so that they can burn fat more effectively.

The main aim is to increase the daily caloric expenditure, and improve general conditioning.

Endurance type running is typically defined as the 'common jogging'. Your heart rate is in the 50% - 75% of the Max HR, your breathing rate is high but stable, leg muscle contractions are not that intense, range of motion of your muscles is limited as well.

This type of running is aerobic and it is a great tool for burning fat.

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Such endurance type running conditions your heart and increases cell capacity to absorb oxygen (VO2 Max). One problem with endurance running is that some muscle loss along with fat loss is inevitable (Yes, the body has funny ways to get on your nerves!).

Muscle loss becomes a threat especially when you hit a stage where Glycogen reserves are nearing depletion. This is the primary reason why bodybuilders who want to pack on mass try to avoid endurance runs.

In my opinion, avoiding endurance running altogether is not a good idea. It's all about how you 'manage' your workout schedule. One long distance endurance run in the range of an hour isn't going to impact your body in a negative way, given your nutrition is impeccable and your workout schedule is flawless.

Let's not forget that you're pounding iron rest of the week which means that you'll be packing on muscle mass rest of the week.

I'm not recommending marathon or half marathon runs (or God forbid, Ultra marathons)! Endurance running is a perfect example of Low Intensity Training (LIT) for Cardiovascular strength.


No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The human spirit is indomitable.


Sir Roger Bannister

Champion Runner

How one should incorporate LIT Cardio Training in their weight training schedule?

LIT Cardio which lasts about 30 minutes can be performed on weight training days.

A good idea is to separate your weight training session and your LIT cardio by 6 hours. I personally recommend doing Cardio in the morning while hitting the weights in the evening.

 Same day LIT Cardio shouldn't exceed the 30 minute mark and make sure you make up for the increased physical exertion via proper nutrition and rest. Same day LIT Cardio can be pursued as a means of rapidly losing weight while staying in control of your muscle mass.

If back to back LIT and weight training session seem unavoidable, try to do your LIT session after your weight training session. You don't want to feel listless once you hit the weights.

Your energy level should be optimal to lift as heavy as you can whereas a low intensity run can be performed even after a hard training session. But again, the best practice is to split them by an interval of 6 hours or you can go for LIT on alternate days if you don't aim for rapid fat loss.

running

Anaerobic running;

The second form of running is Anaerobic running.

Classic example of Anaerobic running is the 100 m sprint. Physical performance of such order demands a high volume of Oxygen which can't be supplied.

Anaerobic running can be considered as a form of 'Strength training' as the same energy and muscular system comes into play.

Therefore Anaerobic running is another great alternative to LIT.

Anaerobic running and the term HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) are often used interchangeably. A classic example of HIIT would be 'Performing a 100 m sprint, walking balk to the start line and repeating 10 times (100m X 10 sets)'.

This is known as High Intensity Interval training. The quick burst of energy associated with the 100 m sprint is High Intensity, followed by a rest interval.

This is quite similar to what you do in a particular weight training session (Rest followed by each set).

The great thing about HIIT is that it is Anaerobic and keeps your body in the anabolic state.

The risk of losing muscle mass is much less than that of LIT. For this reason, this form of running is favored by most fitness trainers whose aim is to build muscle mass.

Your HIIT can be different. You may go with 200m sprinting followed by 300 m walk or you may go with the 100m spring followed by a rest interval. The choice is yours really. Here are a few examples of HIIT that I usually recommend.

  • (100m Sprint + 400m Jog) x 10
  • (100m Sprint + 100m Walk-back) x 15
  • (200m Sprint + 300m Jog) x 10

There’s no rocket science to designing your very own interval program.

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The only thing you need to remember is that the high intensity interval needs to take your heart rate above 75% of your HR Max and the low intensity interval needs to be such that your heart rate falls back to at least 50% of your Max HR.

Usually, a good idea is to wear a device that can monitor your heart rate and time interval. A heart rate monitor along with a stop watch can do the magic.

You can even do it without these gadgets, all you need is a track (Or a well calibrated pathway) and good pair of running shoes.

The time you spend in a HIIT should be somewhat similar to the time you spend in a normal strength workout. Ideally, a 30 - 45minute HIIT workout (Including warm-up, cool-down and rest intervals) will leave you exhausted.

To sum it up, a few workout schedules have been illustrated following;

Lean Mass Gain

Day

AM

PM

Mon

LIT for 20 - 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Tues

Rest

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Wed

LIT for 20 - 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Thur

Rest

Rest

Fri

LIT for 20 - 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sat

Rest

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sun

Rest

Rest

Rapid Fat Loss

Day

AM

PM

Mon

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Tues

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Wed

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Thur

HIIT lasting 20 - 45 minutes

Rest

Fri

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sat

LIT for 30 minutes

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sun

Rest

Rest

1 muscle group a week split

Day

PM

Mon

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Tues

LIT for (45 - 60) minutes

Wed

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Thur

LIT for (45 - 60) minutes

Fri

Weight Training (60 - 75 minutes)

Sat

HIITfor 30 minutes

Sun

Rest

running cardio

Working with cardio alternatives

Once again, nothing is set in stone. There are many alterations you can try with your running even.

It is not necessary to stick with HIIT or LIT, be creative, go with variation and variety.

Here are a few recommendations that can ramp-up your running session:

  • Wear a weight vest to increase intensity of your running. Ankle weights can do the magic as well but vests help improve better weight distribution.
  • Go with hill running. Running on an incline is the hardest thing you can do to yourself! You may know this already if you're into hiking.
  • Trail running is another adventurous alternative. If you live in an area with many natural trails and pathways taking you into the wilderness, go with trail running.
  • Hiking! Yes, it may not sound like something a 'body sculptor' would do but hiking is a great mix of Anaerobic and aerobic cardio training. 30 - 45 minutes of a tough hiking can actually equate to 60 - 90 minutes of jogging. Just make sure you don't book a flight to the Himalayas as that would be a clear misinterpretation of what I'm trying to say!  

If you're not a big fan of running (Or its various alternatives) you can always go with alternatives.

I won't go into much details as it is beyond the scope of this post, but you can always go with alternatives such as cycling or even stair walking.

As long as your heart rate is up and the activity itself is a challenge, you're golden. But make sure that it is something that doesn't mess up your weight training schedule.

I wouldn't recommend swimming a day after you've done a killer Chest & Back routine. The same goes for other alternatives such as Yoga.

Try to do your cardio on days where you don't have a leg workout. The 'chicken-leg syndrome' is all too common in a lot of fitness trainers so it is always a good idea to pay attention to your legs as much as your upper body.

Create good working splits between your weight training and cardio days and try to make an intelligent routine.

Remember to always build progressive overload into your program so you will continually achieve gains.  Need some tips on how this works, read this post.

Don't go overboard with your creativity. You don't want to design a routine that looks like superman's work chart! Keep it simple, functional and realistic.

If you're so used to casting scornful glances at the girls on the tread mill, that you're still not convinced that this can work for you, but you think there might be something to it, I suggest you read Alex Viada's post on complete human performance, for his experience getting the training mix right. Read it here. 

Running and lifting weights are two of my favourite things in the world to do.  I'm really happy that I found and enjoy both, as it keeps my body more balanced and healthy, and I believe it stops training becoming a boring chore.  There's enough of them in all our lives already!

So I hope that if you haven't been including running in your training, I've helped inspire you to give it a go, and;

Last but not the least, stick to it!


We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.


Jessie Owens

Champion Runner

Yoga Poses; How to do Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana

Yoga Poses; How to do Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana is a deeply relaxing pose which is great to include in a yoga practice for any level

To relax the mind, body and restore the spirit, regular practice of this pose will have great benefits.

You can try doing a simple Baddha Honasana pose to start with if the reclining pose is stretching too much through the groin.

At the end of a long day, try practicing Supta Baddha Konasana, and feel the lift in your spirits.

Watch the video below as Kerri McCubben shares easy to follow instructions on how to do Supta Baddha Konasana;

Some benefits of Supta Baddha Konasana

  1. Increased energy levels
  2. Decreased heart rate
  3. Reduced fatigue 
  4. Relief of panic attacks and anxiety 
  5. Reduced tension and stress
  6. Lower blood pressure
  7. Good for conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or PMS
  8. Provides a great stretch of the groin and inner thigh muscles.

Steps

  1. Begin seated in staff pose with your legs extended in front of you. 
  2. Bend your knees, pressing the soles of your feet together and draw your heals back towards your pelvis.
  3. Lean backwards and place your elbows on the ground.
  4. Close your eyes and internalise your thoughts.
  5. Breath deeply for five long breaths, feeling your chest and ribs expand and your body relax.
  6. Role to the side and come up into a seated position.

Tips

  1. Relax your belly to allow maximum extension through your spine.
  2. Breath deeply and naturally throughout
  3. Centre your mind and focus on relaxing through your entire body.
  4. Depending on your flexibility, you may find placing a block under each knee helps to keep you relaxed without over stretching the groin. 
  5. Place a small pillow behind your neck for extra comfort.

Learning to listen to your body is an invaluable benefit of regular yoga practice, and a relaxing pose like Supta Baddha Konasana can really help with this. Feel the stillness, and focus your thoughts throughout the pose while continuing to breath deeply to expand the chest. 

Once you're comfortable try some more of these 50 beginner yoga poses, for a well rounded yoga practice. 

Sagittal Plane, Frontal Plane & Transverse Plane

sagittal plane

Do you know about the sagittal plane and the other different planes of motion your body works in every day?

These days, our life-style has changed to become busier.

Sometimes we don’t spend time to better understand or reflect on our actions, nutrition, health and fitness decisions. Including how the way we train impacts on our body over time.

We need to care for our body, this amazing machine that we use every single day, and sometimes it’s important to spend some time to know more about it!

Since, I’ve been training, I incorporate diverse exercises to work my whole body.

Different types of cardio and weights training, to keep me in good condition to operate in my every-day life.

As happens to me sometimes, I got curious enough to want to understand, what does it mean to move in a plane, and why is it important at all?

If you'd like more technical details about the anatomical planes, then you may like to read this wikipedia page. I'm going to keep things practical here for you.

Let’s talk about the different planes, so we understand more why we should do each exercise we do in our training routine.

And the importance of including different moves in your workout, that work the body in all planes, in which we usually move.

The body moves in three motions or planes known as: Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse plane

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Before we go ahead with some exercises, let’s understand each plane.

Sagittal Plane:

Movements in this plane are flexion and extension. Also up and down exercises.

Frontal Plane:

Exercises in this plane are sideways movements known as abductions and adduction.

Transverse Plane:

Movements in this plane are rotational, internal and external rotation, pronation and supination. Most sports include rotational moves.

When we don’t work our bodies in all those planes, the body will start to have an imbalance. Because we start to develop strength in some muscles leaving others out.

The muscles you leave out become weaker, and as a result your posture changes and injuries start to appear.

So, let’s mention some exercises in each plane that will help us to keep the full body in balance. You should try to incorporate some of each into your workouts to keep the body in balance.

There are many exercises in the front sagittal plane that you can include in your workout. For now I will only mention a few of the main one’s being, squats, bench press and push ups.

Squats:

squats

This is one of the compound exercises, because squats involve practically the whole body. But, the work is focused in the lower body, and the muscles with major involvement are the quadriceps, hamstring and glutes.

There are different types of squats, but I will explain the classical squat.

The start position for squats is standing. With the bar placed above the trapezes, (Shoulders, behind the neck) with your feet separated at shoulder width, and back straight.

The squat move is performed by descending as if you are going to have a seat. Without bending the back, and ensuring that the knees don’t pass in front of the tip of your feet. Your legs forming at least 90 degree angle. Also remember to keep your head straight looking up.

Remember to push your bum back first. This keeps your back in the correct position as your knees bend to lower you into the down position of the squat.

Power yourself back up, by driving down through your heels to stand up straight again.

Push ups:

push ups

I love push ups! They are a great exercise for the upper body. You will work your arms, chest and core. While you develop strength in your upper body you are also shaping your arms.

Place your hands on the floor at shoulder width. Feet on the floor, with legs extended and push your upper body until your arms are extended. Then lower back to the floor and hold for few seconds, and repeat the move.

For more variations of push ups which you can do. Check out this post 

Bench press:

bench press

This is one of the most classical exercises in any workout routine and for sure nobody forgets it.

Bench press is a compound exercise, as it involves a lot muscle of the upper body and It is great for developing great strength. Bench press not only works the pectorals, you also are working your triceps, front shoulders and back.

The starting point to do bench press is lying on the bench with your feet placed on the floor completely. Create an arch in your back, without taking your feet from the floor; the bar must be over your chest, your arms wide creating a 90 degrees angle at your elbow.

Press the bar back up until you have almost locked your elbows. Then bring the bar down until your mid-chest, and press it up again, keeping the arch in your back and keeping your butt on the bench.

We have mentioned the sagittal plane above, and a few exercises that can be done in this plane. Now let’s bring up some samples of exercises that work in the frontal plane.

Side lunges, lateral dumbbell raises and military press.

Side lunges:

side lunge

This is an exercise for the lower body, mainly targeting the glutes, quadriceps and adductors. It is an excellent exercise to start with body weight, until you get the technique down pat, and it becomes easier. Then you can step to the next level adding dumbbells or a barbell.

Here is how to do them.

Stand with your feet and knees together. Contract your core muscles and take a lateral step with one of your feet opposite to it lunging toward the floor. Make sure the other foot is stable and the knee is not passing the toe, keeping the other leg moderately straight. Keep the upper body vertical while you are lunging back to the starting point, pushing off all the weight of the other with the tension to start again.

Lateral dumbbell raises:

lateral dumbbell raise

This exercise is mainly focus in shoulders (deltoids) and it is simple to do it.

Now I will explain the way to train your shoulders with lateral raises.

Stand straight holding dumbbells in each hand with your palm facing your body. Keep your core stable by squeezing it. Then slowly raise the weights until they are parallel with your shoulders, and stop at the top for few seconds. And then slowly lower your hands down to the starting point.

Military press:

military press

It targets shoulders and triceps, although your core will be involved as well to keep the stability in your body.

Military press can be done standing up or even sitting on the bench. I prefer to do it standing up. You can use dumbbells or a barbell. Put your feet at shoulder width, hold the barbell with your arms with width of your shoulders, placing the bar on your collarbone. Then press the barbell up until your arms are fully extend over your head, keeping your torso stable and then lower it back to the initial point.

To complete all the planes, it is important to understand the transversal plane, and which exercises we can do in this plane.

As mentioned before, all movements with rotation are working on the transversal plane. Let’s point out a few of them such as right or left cross (boxing), twisting crunches with a medicine ball and wood chop exercise, with a dumbbell or cable.

Right or left cross:

right hook

To perform this exercise always keep your hands guarding your chin, while the other hand is throwing the cross.

When you are throwing the punch your hand should be extended. Your left foot is in front of your right (if you are right handed, or the reverse if you are left handed “Southpaw”). Bending both knees a bit and remaining balanced.

When you are punching your body is rotating with the power coming from the full body.

Twist crunches with a medicine ball:

russian twist

I have been doing this exercise for quite a long time, and let me tell you how good it is for your core muscles. I started with a light medicine ball and I have stepped up in weight when the exercise becomes easier. Twist crunches is also identify as the Russian twist.

To do this exercise, lying on the mat, bend your knees and crunch your core at 45-degree approximately. Hold the medicine ball and swing the ball side to side, keeping the lower body straight and only twisting the core.

Wood chops with a dumbbell or cable:

dumbbell woodchop
dumbbell woodchop up

It is manly focused on the core muscles and the oblique.

To perform wood chops you must hold the weight with both hands, bend your knees as if you were squatting. Cross the weight over your body from the left hip to the right upper body, with your lower body stable while you are doing the rotation. Repeat the same move to the other side.

Now we understand how in our every day life every move belongs to a different plane of motion, such as sagittal plane, frontal and transversal plane to have a normal function.

And also knowing all these planes of movement, we now have the understanding to perform a proper training routine. Incorporating exercises which use each one to keep all your muscles strong, prevent injuries and bad posture.

Since you are interested enough in your fitness to read this blog, you should take a few moments to complete the latest fitness quiz.

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Yoga Poses; How to do Utthita Parsvakonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana

Yoga Poses; How to do Utthita Parsvakonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana is a great asana to create new energy in your body.  It helps expand the ribs down both sides of your body to allow deep full breaths.

Think about when you wake up in the morning, and stretch your arms above your head with a giant yawn.  That's opening up your sides to allow air into your lungs in a similar way. 

You need to pay attention to stabalising your legs and hips when completing Utthita parsvakonasana, so that you are well balanced to achieve the fullest stretch possible right through your body to the tips of your fingers. 

One of the greatest benefits of yoga, is learning to focus your mind, and this pose is great for that.  Ensure that you are focusing on the many different parts of the pose, from your feet, through your legs and hips, your arms and head, all at the same time. This trains your mind to focus on many things simultaneously.

 Watch the following video, as Kerri McCubben shows us how to do Utthita parsvakonasana;

Some benefits of Utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose)

  1. Relieves stiffness in the back and shoulder
  2. Can relieve sciatica 
  3. Strengthens the ankles knees and legs
  4. Can help with menstrual pain
  5. Can help with lower back pain
  6. Provides a great stretch through the groin and hamstrings

Steps

  1. Come into Tadasana (mountain pose) 
  2. Bring your right leg back, while rotating both feet inwards, so that you end up almost pigeon toed
  3. Raise your arms up to shoulder height
  4. Draw your lower belly in
  5. Keep your arms and legs straight and strong, and turn your right foot out, pointing your toes to the right
  6. Bend through your right knee 
  7. Bring your right hand onto your leg and your left hand onto your hip
  8. Turn your head, taking your gaze up to the sky
  9. Place your right hand down onto the floor beside your right foot
  10. Reach your left arm up and over 
  11. Hold for five long deep breaths
  12. Release and simply come back up
  13. Repeat steps 2 through to 11, this time with the left leg / side. 
  14. Release and come back up again to finish

Tips

  1. Don't allow your body to drop or lean forward throughout the pose
  2. Keep your back foot pressed firmly into the floor
  3. Don't allow your front knee to go past your ankle. Keep it aligned with your front heel
  4. Focus on your breathing throughout

When you are completing this asana properly, with your breathing, mind and body in alignment, you will feel how yoga unites the spirit, mind and body as one. 

Utthita parsvakonasana works the whole body, so it's a good idea to complete the asana earlier in your routine, so that you can maintain good form without any fatigue having set in. 

If you'd love to get into more technical info about the extended side angle pose, then check out this Wikipedia page.

Looking for more yoga poses for your practice?  We've got 50 beginner yoga poses for you to try.

Keep practicing, and stay healthy!

Yoga Poses; How to do Parighasana – Gate Pose

beginner-yoga-poses-parighasana

Yoga Poses, how to do Parighasana

Parighasana, or gate pose is a great beginners level side bend, providing a great stretch through the side muscles and opening up the breathing, to be truly three dimensional. 

This asana is part of the yoga practice which was made popular by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th Century, called Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. often promoted now as classical Indian yoga.

Within this practice for each asana there are three important focuses of attention. Breathing system (pranayama), posture (asana), and looking place (dristhi), which importantly cover three levels of purification; the body, nervous system and the mind.

We should be mindful and focus on these as we complete our yoga practice, to obtain the most benefits.

Parigha literally means, the bar that shuts the gate, and your body resembles that bar when doing this pose. 

Coordinating your breathing while doing Parighasana will help to cleanse your system and relax your mind, calming nerves and helping with digestion.

Watch below as Kerri McCubben provides instruction on how to do Parighasana;

Some benefits of Parighasana (gate pose)

  1. Stimulates the abdominal organs and lungs
  2. Stretches the muscles of the torso, especially side muslces
  3. Repeated practice opens up the chest and shoulders
  4. Helps with breathing, as it stretches the muscles between your ribs (intercostal muscles)
  5. Can help alleviate respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies or colds
  6. Stretches adductor, hamstring and calf muscles
  7. Helps calm the mind, relieve stress and nerves

Steps

  1. Kneel on your mat with legs curled under
  2. Reach your right hand out to the side and take your weight on it
  3. Lift your pelvis up
  4. Extend your left leg out straight, placing your foot flat on the mat
  5. Tilt your pelvis forward drawing your lower belly in
  6. Extend your left arm up and bring it over so that you really feel the stretch through your rib muscles and down the side of your body
  7. Hold the pose for five long deep breaths
  8. Release, come down from the pose, relax and change to the other side

Tips

  1. Keep your stretched arm against your ear, and pull your shoulder blades together
  2. Look up at the sky, keeping your neck long
  3. Remember to breath deeply while you hold the pose
  4. Practice focusing the mind and feel the calming affect of the pose

Be careful when practicing Parighasana to keep your chest perpendicular with the floor and your torso straight.  Don't allow your body to twist and bend forward rather than to the side. 

For those who have had previous bad knee injuries or chronic knee problems, it's better to avoid this pose altogether.  You can do a similar side stretch while sitting on a chair instead, to achieve many of the same benefits. 

If you've mastered Parighasana, and are looking for more asana's to practice, then we've got 50 beginner yoga poses here for you to try.

Enjoy!  And remember, time spent working on yourself is always time well spent.