All Entries For strength training
For some people, safety and form during a workout is a huge priority. For others, it's an afterthought. If you work out without the careful eyes of a trainer or instructor watching your every move, it can be difficult to know if you are exercising with proper form—even when you're really trying to.
Learning how to move with correct alignment isn't just about looking good; it can mean the difference between muscle activation and joint strain—or even injury.
Here are five exercises that are common—and may even seem simple—but are most often performed incorrectly by people of all fitness levels. Read More ›
If you haven't been in a gym recently you may be surprised to see trainers and fitness enthusiasts incorporating many new gadgets into their workout routines to help keep their training fresh and challenging. Having covered kettlebells, BOSU trainers and Body Bar workouts in previous Fitness Round-up blogs, now seemed an opportune time to introduce the TRX Suspension System.
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A few weeks ago I was reading through the message boards when I came across a post from Chris 'SparkGuy' Downie to a member who was asking about what type of strength training activities he could do without access to a gym or weight training equipment. Chris did not let that deter him from offering some great recommendations of performing body-weight exercises--exercises such as push-ups and squats which can be done at home or when traveling when access to resistant training equipment is not at your disposal.
This gave me the idea to link examples of body-weight exercises for you to refer to as the busy holiday travel season rolls around. Hopefully you will can take this with you when traveling and access to weights or machines is not an option. Read More ›
Your One Rep Max is the highest possible weight you can lift for exactly one repetition. You can use the One Rep Max as a benchmark to measure strength gains over time. However, keep in mind that this metric is typically used on very specific, more advanced lifts like bench press and back squat, so you wouldn't use this metric on, say, a bicep curl or a calf raise.
Some advanced athletes find their 1 RM by progressively bumping up their resistance until they fail the lift on the second repetition of a set. However, this method is risky and should be done with additional supervision. So how does a beginning lifter determine his or her One Rep Max?
Spring is around the corner, which means you'll be bringing your short sleeved and sleeveless tops out of storage in no time. Speaking of baring your arms: Are yours in tip-top shape? If not, you could help build strength and muscle tone in the most common problem area of the arms—the triceps—by adding some additional triceps exercises to your workout plan. Read More ›
When you work out smarter, you don't necessarily have to exercise longer or harder in order to get results. "Lack of time" is the most common reason why people don't exercise, but is that really a good excuse? Truth is: You don't really need a lot of time to get a great workout. Short bouts of exercise—when done right—can give just as much benefit as longer workouts. Don't believe me? Try these 5 moves for just one minute each for a 5-minute workout that has full-body benefits! Read More ›
Should children and adolescents strength train? For years, many said "no", believing that it could damage a child's growth plates, thereby stunting their growth. The risks of injury seemed to outweigh any benefit that strength training could provide. But there is growing evidence that strength training is very beneficial for children and could be an important part of their exercise routine. Read More ›
Americans watch, on average, almost five hours of television per day, according to the Nielsen Corporation. Actual programming only accounts for 42 minutes of every hour, meaning that as part of our time in front of the tube, we see nearly 90 minutes of advertisements. In addition to being exposed to ads for things we don't need or want--like double bacon cheeseburgers and soda--it's taking time away from the shows we tuned in to see.
You've probably heard the tip to fit in a workout during commercial breaks, but what should you do? It can be hard to spontaneously decide which exercises to do, so we decided to take the guesswork out of it. We created a workout game of sorts that you can use when you're watching TV. Each time you see one of the commercials listed below, do the exercise that corresponds to it.
If you already work out while watching TV, consider shaking up your routine by jumping off the elliptical or recumbent bike during commercials and fitting in some strength training.
Enjoy! Read More ›
Although I’ve always been physically active, I’ve had to force myself to focus more on strength training over the past few years. My preference has always been cardio exercise (just because that’s what I like to do), but trying to keep up with my kids and carrying little ones around all day made me realize I needed to get stronger. My youngest is now 10 months old and weighs over 20 pounds. She’s not walking yet, so I still carry her on my hip for a lot of the day. Since I don’t have lots of free time to head to the gym for long workouts, I’ve had to create my own programs that are time-efficient but still challenging.
My favorite workouts involve compound exercises, which combine two movements into a single exercise. There are a number of benefits to these types of exercises: they more closely mimic real- life movements since you rarely use muscles in isolation as you go about your day. They also save a lot of time since you’re getting two exercises done at once.
Here are 5 of my favorite exercises that target the muscles I’m using all day long, as I put one of my children down and pick up another: Read More ›
During the last few years, ultra-intense workouts have been gaining popularity—and not just among athletes or hardcore exercisers who are gluttons for self-punishment. Even the relatively unfit and overweight are jumping at the chance to push their bodies to their limits. Why? Some consider it fun. Others feel that is the best (or only) way to really get in shape. Whatever the reason, intense workout programs are attracting a wide variety of participants who have a variety of different goals (whether strength, speed, power, health, muscle tone, weight loss, or looking better naked).
By now you've probably heard of CrossFit (the "sport of fitness") or know someone who has tried it. I stumbled upon CrossFit videos on YouTube a few years ago and was immediately intrigued. I would spend hours a night watching people work out competitively and was in awe of their strength and capabilities—not to mention their physiques! I've learned a good deal about CrossFit since then, through my husband and sister-in-law (both of whom are certified CrossFit trainers), friends who do the workouts, and my own research and reading.
As a certified fitness professional with a traditional background (and without any firsthand experience in an actual CrossFit gym), I can certainly tell you that CrossFit is unlike most other workouts and workout programs out there. It strives to be the total fitness package—to help people achieve optimal health and fitness across all measures of strength, agility, speed, power and endurance. (Read CrossFit's full description here.) It combines Olympic powerlifting + gymnastics + plyometrics + speed work + weights + time + competition in a way that continuously challenges one's body in new ways. And although it has a reputation of being intense (which it certainly is, no doubt about it), proponents also claim that it's completely "scalable" to every individual's fitness level.
Sounds great, right? Well, could it be too good to be true? Read More ›
Many people do fine without gloves, especially for body weight or machine exercises, but if you work out regularly with iron barbells and dumbbells or train with heavier weights, gloves can help you avoid several potential problems. Any kind of padded weight-lifting glove can eliminate blisters and calluses, improve your grip, and provide some protection for the nerves that pass through your hands. Read More ›
Your metabolism has two basic modes:
- Anabolic, which means building up or adding, and
- Catabolic, which means breaking down or eliminating.
Losing fat occurs in catabolic mode (which includes maintaining a calorie deficit), while adding muscle requires that you be in anabolic mode (which includes maintaining a small calorie surplus). But these modes aren't mutually exclusive; over a short period of time (like one day), the hormones and enzymes that make you catabolic or anabolic will all be active to one degree or another. In effect, you will be anabolic part of the time, and catabolic the rest. Read More ›
It's the pre-season for bathing suit season and that has a lot of people focusing on firming up those trouble areas that are going to get a little more exposure when they're wearing a little less clothing. I'm not immune to the pressures of looking bathing-suit-ready myself! I often tend to ramp up my workout routines if I know I'm going to be hitting the beach or hoping to spend a little more time poolside.
As you know, it's a combination of fat-burning cardio and muscle-toning strengthening that'll help you firm up and slim down (along with a healthy diet of course), but when it comes to those strengthening moves you try, some are definitely better than others.
So if you hope to improve your rear view this summer, do you know which moves are going to do the job best of all? Watch this short video to find out the best exercises you can do for your butt! Read More ›
The DVD Ageless with Kathy Smith: Staying Strong is Kathy's response to dealing with the physical issues that women begin to experience as they head into the menopausal and post-menopausal years. The DVD targets strength-building to help women gain muscle and bone mass, and includes four 15-minute routines that are a quick and fun way to improve fitness.
The first 15-minute segment focuses on arm strength. Kathy hits all arm muscles with her exercises, and provides modifications as she goes through the routine. Kathy is known for her great cueing and frequent coaching on maintaining proper form. She's also a motivating instructor and projects lots of energy-something that can be helpful when you're struggling through those last few repetitions.
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When I first started SparkPeople as a member back in 2004, I lost the first part of my weight by doing a lot of workout videos at home. To this day, I still love to try new workout DVDs when I can so I can continue to have variety in my workouts when the weather is bad. When Coach Nicole asked for help in reviewing DVDs for the dailySpark, I couldn’t help but be excited about the opportunity!
I recently tried out the Ageless with Kathy Smith: Total Body Turnaround DVD. As some of you may know, Kathy Smith has been in the fitness industry for a long time (nearly 30 years). She definitely knows her stuff, and what I love about this DVD is that Kathy is great about giving cues and instructions for proper form. She wants to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly so that you don’t injure yourself. (Believe me, injuries can happen to anyone). Now, I honestly can’t remember if I have seen or worked out with any of Kathy Smith’s other workout videos, but I was very pleased with this one.
From the DVD cover:
"Split into three 20-minute workouts, each one targets a physical change people face as they grow older. It’s like a reset button for your body!
First, the circuit segment trims and firms, ramping up your calorie burn and attacking your trouble spots. You’ll tone and strengthen your legs, buttocks, arms, and core all while trimming your waistline. Next, you’ll hone your balance, a vital practice to keep you doing the things you love. Finally, refresh and recharge with the total-energy segment. You’ll wake up your body and de-stress your life.
With plenty of modifications to match your experience level, Total Body Turnaround is a convenient, fun, and fast way to get fit. Whatever your age, you’ll feel stronger, leaner, and more energized!"
My take on the 3 segments:
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