5 Great Lower Back Exercises

Low Back blog pic 4The lower back is one of the easiest parts of the body to injure, whether at the gym or at work. So when it comes to this particular body part, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. These guidelines will help to strengthen the lower back with minimal risk of injury, but as always, ask a physician before engaging in any new exercise program.

First, Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises are a good idea before the start of any physical activity, especially a workout, but the lower back isn’t the easiest party of the body to stretch. Sometimes we have to get creative.

  • Lay on your back on the floor with your buttocks pressing against a wall and your legs flat against it pointing up. This stretch relaxes the lower back and drains excess fluid from the knees, ankles and feet.
  • Now lay on your back with your knees bent toward your chest. Put your arms out straight against the floor in a T form for balance and lower your knees, legs still bent, to the floor next to your left arm. Hold this post for a minute or two and then repeat on the right side.
  • Finally, lay on your stomach, legs straight behind you while propping yourself up on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Press forward with your pelvis while pressing down with your palms and the tops of your feet. Your pose will resemble the Sphinx. If you are doing it right, you will feel the sensation in our lower back. Hold this pose for as long as it feels comfortable and remember to breathe.

Get on the Ball

These dynamic stabilization exercises will help to strengthen the secondary muscles of the spine.

  • Lay on your stomach over a large exercise ball. Raise one arm at a time over your head and then lift one leg at a time a few inches off the floor. Do not arch your lower back during this exercise.
  • Now walk your hands out until the ball is under your legs instead of your stomach, then walk back till the ball is back under your stomach.
  • Advanced users can do a few push-ups while the ball is under their legs.

Walk the Plank

The side plank is a great way to build strength for the core muscles that support your lower back.

Lay down on your left side, leaning on your elbow with your body in a straight line. Tighten your stomach while lifting your hips from the floor and keep your body in a straight line. Hold this position for half a minute and lower your hips back down. Complete three sets and then repeat on your right side.

Bridge the Gap

Lay on your back again with legs bent up and feet level against the floor about as wide apart as your hips. Tighten your buttock muscles while you lift your hips for a slow count of a few seconds. Do ten reps. Once you need more of a challenge, lift one leg straight up toward the ceiling while holding the pose. This is very challenging.

Don’t Forget to Work on Your Core

Exercises that strengthen your stomach, back and leg muscles will make you less vulnerable to back injury. It is most important to trust your body. If you are feeling back strain, it is best not to do straight or bent-let sit-ups, leg lifts or lift heavy weights above your waist until you feel better.

Great Exercises to do In a Pool

water exercise blog pic 1One of the best things about working out in a pool is the deceptive ease of movement. Since the water effectively reduces your weight, exercises done in a pool can feel less strenuous; but make no mistake – your muscles are getting the full benefit of the exertion. If you doubt this, take a look at Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps – he eats 12,000 calories per day and yet pool work keeps him lean and strong.

Water: Nature’s Strength-Trainer

Of course, you’re probably not an Olympic-level athlete, and so the workouts you’ll be doing won’t quite be on Phelps’ level. However, you can most certainly use the many advantages water has for both muscle-toning, strength-building and enhancing your cardiovascular strength. Water offers a natural resistance, without the joint stress of weight-lifting. It’s practically impossible to injure yourself when shoulder-deep in a pool and jogging. In fact, it’s a good idea to run flat on your feet and not on your toes, because the all-encompassing, smooth resistance of water can be deceptive; you may find yourself unable to walk without extreme calf-soreness the next day if you don’t jog to moderation your first time.

Benefits of Running in a Pool

Running in water will build your endurance up to levels you didn’t think they could reach – all without stressing your knee joints or adversely-affecting the tender joints in your ankles. A single day of moderate running around the pool for 20 minutes will have an effect comparable to at least an hour of open-air running – without any joint pain. Additionally, your lung capacity will increase.

Body Workout Exercises

The natural resistance of water easily lends itself to toning and strengthening exercises. An inevitable consequence of these strength-training workouts is that you also burn fat, because of the continuous exertion. Even in-between sets, your body doesn’t get a total break because the water’s resistance is always in effect.

Strengthening the Arms

The biggest muscles on your arm are your triceps, and you can get them stronger by simply extending your arms straight out in front of you, palms flat, and pushing down on the water’s surface. Once you reach your hips, rinse and repeat for three sets of 15-20. To work out your smaller biceps, just perform the reverse motion: start with your arms straight at your side underwater. Raise them up with the palms facing the sky until they are out of the water and parallel to your shoulders. Perform this for at least three sets of 15-20 reps.

Strengthening Your Back

This workout also works the shoulders: underwater pull-ups. Using the edge of the pool to hold onto, lower yourself into the water and use your arms to pull yourself back up. Find a number that’s comfortable for you and do 3-4 sets of this number of water-aided pull-ups.

Strengthening Your Legs

In water, you can even jog in place to get a better workout than on any treadmill. Once you graduate from that, running around on your tiptoes will really get a burn going in your calves and develop great strength in them. For your gluteus maximus and hamstrings, underwater body-squats are highly-effective – and remember, they almost certainly won’t hurt your knees. A more fun exercise is also very effective for developing strength in the lower extremities – the kickboard. Borrow one of these flotation devices and hold onto it while kicking in a scissoring motion.

5 Workout Tips for Teen Athletes

teen athletes Blog Photo 1As a teen athlete you need to take care of your body. Part of taking care of your body is working out so you can perform in your sport of choice, but you’ll want to exercise clean and smart, too. We’ve collected five tips that will help you excel in your sport of choice through exercise and overall fitness.

Keep Nutrition in Mind

Working out is an important part of staying healthy, but it is only part of the larger picture. To excel as a student athlete you must eat well, too. Your diet should be well balanced, and utilize both carbs and protein to build a healthy body. Teen bodies are still growing, so you’ll need to eat more than most people. Speak to a doctor or nutritionist about the right diet for your sport and body’s needs.

Remember to Stretch

Before and after each activity it is important to stretch. Take 10 minutes prior to beginning activity to stretch out each muscle group. After you’ve finished intense activity, take time to slow down, and cool your body down before stopping the activity. After you are done, complete the same stretching routine you did before working out. This will help to protect your muscles from injury, and increase flexibility.

Keep a Training Log

Every time you work out, right down what you did, including the number of reps and weights used, if you are doing weight training. Keeping a training log can help you better understand your progress. You can do this by simply writing down the information in a notebook, or you can use one of the many training log programs available for computers and even your cell phone. These logs allow you to input your information and they will calculate your progress.

Take a Day Off and Rest

Rest is important for any athlete, but it is especially important for the growing body of a teen athlete. Experts suggest working one body part at a time, and giving it at least two days to rest after. For example, if you are going to work your legs with weights on Mondays, you shouldn’t do weight work with your legs again until Thursday. The goal of lifting weights is to gain muscle and strength. In order to do this, the body must have time to repair the muscles so they grow.

Recuperation is a necessary part of being a healthy, happy teen athlete. You’ll need to work three types of rest into your workout.

  • Rest for 30 to 90 seconds between weight lifting exercise repetitions and keep each exercise to three sets of 10 to 20 reps.
  • After a workout, give your body 2 to 4 hours to rest. Stretch your body, have something to eat and relax before doing any more strenuous activity.
  • After you work a muscle group give it 48 to 72 hours to rest, so your body can repair your muscles.

Cross Train

Teen athletes can greatly benefit from one day per week of cross training. Cross training, simply put, is adding an activity or exercise into your routine that does not directly relate to your sport, but will help you develop important skills that could be beneficial to your sport of choice. For example, if you are a soccer player, regularly running will help up your endurance. If you are a wrestler, pilates or yoga may help you gain important flexibility that will help you during a match. Cross training will also help your body work muscles you do not work during sport-specific activities, which will help you develop more well-rounded strength.

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3 Exercises That Work Your Whole Body

whole body blog pic 1Staying in shape is getting harder these days, especially as the modern workplace often involves sitting in front of a computer for hours on end. What can we do when our long work hours and busy schedules don’t leave us enough time for targeted workouts that focus on each area of the body?

The whole-body exercise is a great option when time is tight. These three whole-body exercises will help you to spend less time at the gym and more time out and about enjoying your healthy physique.

Back to Boot Camp Burpees

Squat-thrust jumps, well-known as the infamous torture device used by military boot camp instructors combine squats, push-ups and jumping jacks into one fluid motion. Start by standing straight, then squat while keeping your back straight. Now lean forward slightly and put your hands on the floor and kick your legs out behind you to make the classic push-up position. Do a push-up if you can. Kick your legs back up into the squatting position, then stand up, being sure to use your thighs, not your back. Once you are standing straight, jump while swinging your arms overhead. This exercise, also known as burpees, literally utilizes every muscle group in your body for an intense workout in just minutes.

Box Jumps

This is a very simple exercise that will get your heart rate up fast. About ten reps of this and you will already be feeling the burn. Find a sturdy box and then from a starting point with both feet flat on the ground, jump onto the box. Stand up straight and then jump back down. That’s it, just a simple rhythm. It’s somewhat simpler than jumping rope, which is also a great full body workout, but takes a bit more rhythm, speed and coordination. The best thing about jump-ups is that the height of the box can be adjusted to your level of fitness.

Medicine Ball Slams

This exercise is a great way to deal with stress and get rid of those pent up aggressions. It’s also very easy to learn. Simply find a medicine ball, lift it all the way over your head and throw it on the ground as hard as possible. If you are imagining a particularly frustrating problem while you do this exercise, you’ll be surprised at just how cathartic it can be. Medicine ball slams work particularly well on your core, as this is the part of your body you use most, both to get the force of the swing downward and when you pick the ball back up to throw it again. A set of 100 of these will burn a phenomenal number of calories. Just be sure the ball doesn’t bounce back up and hit you or someone else. You’ll need a lot of room to do this exercise.

These exercises can become part of a new weekly routine. A great way to start small and work up to a more rigorous routine is to do just one exercise every other day of the week and walk or run on the off days. The best part of this new routine is that it won’t take much time to see great, full-body results faster than you could have imagined.

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How to Stay Motivated to Workout in the Summer

 

swim blog pic 1Working out during the summer season has since proved to be a tedious task for millions of people all over the world in recent times. Perhaps, many people tend to think that the hardest decision to make in working out is getting into the gym but there is actually more than meets the eye. One requires a high level of motivation for them to be able to work out as desired and achieve the right results. Even if you are working out in the sun or indoors, you have to make sure you achieve your desired goals and objectives.

 

When you want to work out during the summer season, it is important to understand that there are many exercises, which you can engage in. You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym for you to be able to achieve what you yearn for. Again, you will not just be guaranteed the best results when you do energy exercises alone. Here now is a look at some of the tips, which will help you to stay motivated as you workout during this season.

 

Consider convenience

 

It is important to find a gym that is most convenient in terms of location. This can be closer to your home or working place. It should basically be a quick walk from wherever you stay. By doing this, it would be much easier for you to develop a predictable routine in as far as working out is concerned. Again, when you find that the gym is nearer you, you need to find and choose exercises or activities that you tend to enjoy the most.

 

Do what you enjoy

 

The other aspect that you need to look at is the exercises that you will indulge in. Experts’ advise that you ought to settle for activities or exercises that you enjoy as this will help achieve your desired objectives. Basically, whatever you are doing you need to try and derive some degree of pleasure from it.

 

Find a gym friend

 

Finding a gym buddy might as well help to keep you motivated as you workout during the summer season. In this case, you don’t have to go for your best friend. Again, they should not necessarily be doing the same workouts as you are. All you need is to get someone with whom you share a similar day schedule. Having such a person around you most of the time helps you to be motivated and even see more meaning in your workout routines.

 

Keep records

 

If you want to understand your progress as you are working out, it might be good to keep a record. There are many mobile applications available today which you can use when you want to keep tabs of the workouts that you have done. These apps will also help you to keep track of your progress over time. At times, you might also want to take photos of yourself every other month just to understand how your body is progressing.

 

Set SMART Goals

 

Setting smart goals is an element that you cannot choose to overlook when working out. This is regardless of whether you are working out during the summer or whichever other season.  In this case, SMART means simple, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. You should therefore not set goals that are ambiguous. Again, you ought to have the inner drive in you that keeps you going for you to be able to achieve the goals that you set out to achieve in the first instance. If you set attainable goals, you will be able to work out effectively.

 

How to Prevent Your Workout from Becoming Stale

Boring blog pic 2Do you dread workouts at the gym? Well, that should not be the case because you need to exercise for purposes of getting healthy and fit. Consistency in workouts also helps to ensure your body remains in good shape. There are many strategies which you can employ when you want to spice up your exercises and make them less frightening. Below is a look into some of these strategies:

Choose activities which you enjoy doing

One of the best ways to prevent your workouts from becoming stale is to go for exercises or things that you love to do.  No matter how many workouts you want to work on, you might not benefit from them if you don’t have the interest in you.  The exercises that you indulge in should therefore have an element of personal appeal. If you don’t love push-ups, you can still try jogging, skipping or weight lifting. Basically, you need to try and get something that you truly find interesting in your case.

Get your buddy to accompany you when going to the gym

Even if you are not working out in the gym, it might be a good idea to get a friend or someone else to offer you company when you are doing your workouts. For instance, cycling with your spouse or kids is one of the best options in this regard. On the other hand, some morning jogging with workmates and friends can be a great help. There is an unexplainable force that takes over your instincts when you are working out as a group. You can therefore use the group mentality to make your workouts fun and more rewarding.

Distract your mind from focusing on the pains of workouts

It is also important to try not to focus too much on the pain associated with the workouts or exercises that you are performing. Music is one of the means you can use when you want to distract yourself when exercising. Basically, anything that helps to put your mind off the real exercise will be adequate and helpful in this regard.

Remember that, variety is an important spice in life

Involving yourself in a variety of workouts might also help you to make workouts more interesting. If you are used to doing one exercise every other time, you can attest to the fact that it gets boring as time goes by. Much as that is the case, you don’t have to stop exercising. You can simply bring in a mix of other exercises and workouts in order to spice up the entire element.  In fact, changing from one exercise to another with time will help to get rid of the element of boredom.

Dancing might as well be some form of exercise

Many people do not know this but it is a fact. If you love to dance, you can have your favorite music on and dance to it. In any case, you will still be working out various parts of your body.  The dance can take various forms. The most important part is to ensure that it is active and that it can cause perspiration. It can therefore be salsa, belly dance, ballroom dance, country dance or whichever other type. Just make sure that you are working out as much as you can.

Last but not least, your workouts might be getting stale since you have never introduced a change of timing for the exercises.  If you have always been exercising in the mornings, you can try to exercise in the evenings and see if there is any substantial transformation.

The Keys to Picking the Right Personal Trainer

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Working with a personal trainer is a great way to jump start your fitness goals. If you’ve been heading to the gym for months on end without any real results or you’ve gotten bored with your current fitness routine, working with a personal trainer can help you meet your goals and help your fitness plan get back on track. Before you book your first session, here are four things to consider when you start looking for a personal trainer.

  • There’s an art and a science to good personal training, and your trainer should hold a certification from one of the mainstream accreditation organizations. Look for a certification from The National Academy of Sports Medicine, The American College of Sports Medicine, or the National Athletic Trainers Association, to name a few. Your trainer may also have a specialized certification, like CrossFit Level 1 or as Certified Strength and Condition Coach. These specializations can also give you insight into what he or she might focus on during your session. A commitment to learning new things and continuing education is also a plus.
  • A qualified personal trainer will take a complete medical history. Be sure to let your trainer know about any injury- no matter how old- any health issues you have. He or she should also have you run through a basic fitness evaluation, which may include getting your blood pressure, weight, body composition, and heart rate. You may be asked to run through a series of benchmark exercises, including running the 40, executing push ups, squats, or chin ups /pull ups. These exercises will give you and your trainer an accurate picture of your current fitness level and help you identify your new fitness goals.
  • Your trainer should vary your workout. You are paying for individual attention, so your workouts should be programmed to meet your personal needs and goals. A well-rounded program will incorporate strength training, body weight training, cardio, and mobility. Your trainer should also take any issues or injuries into consideration and modify or scale your exercise and programming appropriately. If you find your programming is stagnant, redundant, or not individualized, it may be time for a new trainer.
  • You should feel comfortable with your trainer. Do you respond better to positive reinforcement, or do you need a drill sergeant to keep you moving? The personality of your trainer and how you respond to him or her will play an important role in your success. You should feel comfortable sharing important heath information about any outside stresses, eating, drinking, and sleeping habits, and your over all well being. All these factors play a role in your performance. You can’t feel shy about sharing personal information, so consider your comfort level with same or opposite gender trainers.

Committing to a fitness regime and including a personal trainer can be costly, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Whether you are looking for a long-term relationship or a jump start to a new routine, finding the right trainer can make all the difference.