Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Body 2 Soul - Get Super!: Body weight squat

Body 2 Soul - Get Super!: Body weight squat: Reality: •   Main Muscle Group: Quadriceps •   Secondary Muscle(s): Glutes, Hamstrings •   Exercise Type: Strength •   Equipment R...

Body weight squat

  Main Muscle Group: Quadriceps
  Secondary Muscle(s): Glutes, Hamstrings
  Exercise Type: Strength
  Equipment Required: Bodyweight
  Mechanics: Compound
  Force Type: Push
  Experience Level:  Beginner

Now what:
1.     The bodyweight squat is an exceptional exercise to use as a warm up to follow the Dumb bell or Barbell squat, or front squat, and also as a finishing pump exercises with maximal reps, (if you still have the energy). Stand erect with your feet around shoulder width apart, toes pointing out at around 30 degrees. No need for a protractor, 10 to 30% is fine.
2.    Interlock your fingers, or put one hand on top of the other, now straighten your arms out in front of you (for balance not jokes). Your arms can also be crossed on your chest for the Macarena squat.  Placed behind your head for a prisoner squat.  Placed on your knees for the cheaters squat.  Placed on your glutes for the "well that’s awkward" squat.

3.    Keeping your eyes facing up, back straight and feet concreted firmly on the floor, slowly squat down keeping your knees in line with your toes, (do not let the toes go past your toes), and sticking your buttocks out. Think Sir-Mix-A-Lot, ‘I like big butts’.
4.    When your thighs are horizontal with the floor contract the quads, hamstrings and glutes by pushing back up through your heels.  Some people do find this difficult; so a little platform under the heels may assist you to keep proper posture and form.
5.    Do not lock your knees out at the top of the movement to avoid injury, and repeat for reps for wishful accomplishment.

Performance pointers:
1.     Basic principles apply to all squats. Keep your back straight, (mother always told me not to slouch), eyes facing forwards, chest out, (surprisingly no sarcasm here…), and don't let your knees come forward as you squat down.
2.    Squat down as if you were about to sit down on a chair behind you.  Most importantly, do not relax at this point, as there is no chair behind you and you could end up on your butt in the middle of the weights floor.  (Not so cool.)

Just saying:

I feel cold watching this video in winter….

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Shoulder Press

  Main Muscle Group: shoulders  
  Secondary Muscle(s): Triceps
  Exercise Type: Strength
  Equipment Required: Machine, (or dumbbell but we are focusing on one exercise at a time: DB, BB and machine are actually quite different in regards to grip, stance, muscles worked etc.)
  Mechanics: Compound
  Force Type: Push
  Experience Level: Beginner

Now What:

1.      The bar comfortably comes down just next your face; I guess this depends on how big your head is?  
2.        Do not be brave here.  I suggest you do a few, (2 to 3), and imagine doing at least 10.  Do not feel weak seeing the peg high on the rack, low on kilograms.  If you are doing it correctly on a cable machine… it is not easy.
3.        Next, add the weight you want to use and sit down on the bench.
4.        Un-rack the weights and bend your elbows slightly. This is the starting position for the movement.
5.        Slowly lower the weight down until the bar is just below chin height, pause, and then raise the bar back to the starting position without locking your elbows out at the top of the movement.
6.        This can also be done on the smith machine by setting a bench down with the back to a 90-degree angle.
7.        Repeat for ambitious number of repititions.

Performance Pointers:
1.     The smith machine shoulder press is a viable option for moving heavy weight without a spotter. Cable machine is also more supportive regarding the importance of back and core muscles.  My personal opinion… the shoulder press with free weights is more taxing on core muscles if you have correct form; therefore more of a compound and beneficial exercise.  Better still; stand, or sit on a fit ball, or stand on one leg, or sitting on a fit ball with one leg raised????  BUT, not with heavy weights!!! If you want to be hulk, do it sitting, do it supported.
2.        Don't lock your elbows out at the top of the movement.
3.        Always warm up first to lower your risk of shoulder injury.

I’m just saying:
·      Always lower the bar below your chin to complete a long range of motion if using a barbell.
·      Do not be afraid to hold your reps at the top or bottom of movements for maximum effect.
·      Know when you are losing form; quality not quantity is the key.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Leg extension: Do I, don't I?

  Main Muscle Group: Quads
  Secondary Muscle(s): None
  Exercise Type: Strength
  Equipment Required: Machine
  Mechanics: Isolation
  Force Type: Push
  Experience Level: Beginner

 Now what:

1.     The leg extension is a great movement for isolating the quads. Sit on the leg extension machine and adjust it so that the leg pad sits on your ankles.
2.        Then adjust the back rest so that your knees are just off the end of the seat. If you are miniature then a support behind your back may be necessary.
3.        Select the weight you want to use on the stack.  Contemplate… Now select the stack you SHOULD use on the stack.
4.        Take the weight off the rack by stretching your legs marginally. This is the initial position for the exercise.
5.        Grasping onto the handles for stability and dear life, and bending at the knees only, extend your legs out as far as possible.
6.        Hold for a count of 1 to 2 while squeezing your quads, and then slowly lower legs back to the starting position. The weight shouldn’t touch the stack, unless you are finishing your set, or you are fatigued.
7.        Repeat for desired reps.

Performance Pointers:
1.      Use a slow and controlled movement - do not "kick" the weights up.  It is not a happy sack, it is a controlled isolated movement.
2.        Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your quads to add intensity to the leg extension.  I like to hold 3 to 5 seconds on the final 3, just for a little extra leg burn!
3.        Regarding your fitness program, this exercise can be used as a pre-exhaust exercise for lunges, squats or other big compound movements. It can also be used for the second exercise in compound/isolation supersets.
4.        Try not to drop your toes down and back beyond your knees. Your knees shouldn’t track out over your toes as it may causes undue stress on the knee joints.
5.        By turning your toes either out or in during your set, you are able to concentrate more specifically on inner and outer muscles of the quadriceps.

I’m just saying:
Many people have a strong opinion in regards to the leg extension, mostly negative:
·      “The leg extension doesn’t work the quad muscle in a productive manner”
·      “Leg extension machine is dangerous to your knee joint”
·      “Does my butt look big in this leg extension machine?”
Okay, so maybe the last concern is not too common, but you would be surprised by some of the conversations we hear at the gym!

I’m not saying you should use it or avoid it. (Truth is told; this could be said for every exercise in the gym.)  There is a reason why trainers write you a program; everyone has a different body; every body is not suited to every exercise.

People claim the leg extension machine is completely useless for building muscle. Lies I say!  (My opinion.) There is a good deal of times where it can serve a constructive purpose. But… even if it’s going to be a useful part of your lower body training, it’s going to be a very small secondary part of it. You still need to remember that we’re only talking about a quad isolation exercise here.  If you ever train with me then you know I am a lover of compound exercises!  Why work one muscle when you can work 2, 3 or 4 muscles at once?  (But then again I have always preferred a buffet as apposed to a set menu.  Why have one meal, when you can have 3, 4 or 5…)
Treasures like squats, deadlifts, lunge variations, leg presses and more should get the majority of room on your plate, (I mean majority of your time, effort and focus).
If you currently have an existing knee problem, the leg extension exercise may not be the best option for you unless otherwise recommended by a medical professional.
If it hurts your knee… think about it brainiac… DO NOT USE IT!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lying Leg Curl

  This is the most drooled on piece of equipment at the gym.
  Main Muscle Group: Hamstrings
  Secondary Muscle(s): None
  Exercise Type: Strength
  Equipment Required: Machine
  Co-ordination: High, this is awkward to position yourself correctly and look ‘cool’
  Mechanics: Isolation
  Force Type: Pull
  Experience Level: Beginner

Now what:
1.     The lying leg curl is a great exercise to isolate the hamstrings. Set up for the leg curl by selecting the heft you want to heave on the stack and adjusting the padding to suit your leg length.  I am tall, but often think I follow a giraffe on this machine, people will not judge you on the specs that you leave the machine, so be honest to avoid injury.  (Ankle adjustment low to embellish long legs and 50kg left to heave on leg curl stack is not going to fool anyone when you are 160cm tall and 60kg in structure. Just saying… we have camera surveillance. I see all!)
2.        Lay face down on the machine. As mentioned often, “This piece of equipment is the one that gets the most action or attention in the gym”, apart from the abductor, adductor… that deserves another blog entirely.
3.        The padding should be positioned just above the back of your ankles. If it's higher than that, adjust the length, measure your height, and acknowledge that what you see in the mirror actually has shorter limbs.

4.        Tense up the hamstrings by taking the weight slightly off the stack. This is the starting position for the exercise.
5.        Squeeze the hamstrings and curl the mass up as far as conceivable.

6.        Squeeze the hamstring hard, and then slowly release the movement back to the starting position.
7.        Repeat for desired reps or as requested by personal trainer.
Performance pointer:
1.     Common mistakes with the leg curl;
    ·      Moving the weight up and down too fast
·      Not using a full range of motion.
·      Not controlling the weight throughout the set. Don't use momentum to move the weight up, and don't allow it to drop back down quickly.
2.    Always use a full range of motion by curling the weight up as far as possible and lowering it as far as possible   without the weight dropping on the stack.

In all honesty, this exercise has recently been given a bad wrap.  It is a piece of equipment available in the gym, so I just want to ensure that we are using it correctly.  Personally, I like this.  I am focusing on a particular muscle, if I keep belly to the pad, and concentrate on no back arch; I think I am all good. 

By the way, did anybody else notice how awkward it is to get in and out of this machine? Between this and the 45% leg press, I definitely left grace and co-ordination at the door.  Dare you to do it gracefully. The only time your hamstrings will ever work in isolation is when you do this exercise. The hamstrings are meant to act in unison with the glutes and lower back, so training them alone only leads to imbalances, especially in the posterior chain—the interrelated muscles on the back side of your body that are responsible for explosive speed and power. And ‘apparently’, that's not just bad, it's a catastrophe, because a faulty posterior chain can leave you with an excruciating hamstring pull—even if you're just out for a jog.

How about the weighted 45- degree back extension? Use a back extension apparatus while holding a weight plate to your chest. This exercise works the hamstrings, spinal erectors, and glutes together. While you'll probably never find yourself in a leg-curl position outside the gym, you'll always be bending forward to pick things up off the floor, (if you are clumsy like me), and the back extension trains all the muscles that make that possible.  (There is a great one-legged extension for the back that I am sure I will share in the month to come.)

Rumor is out that a ‘dead lift’ is also a good alternate exercise; heavy barbell weight, stretch down calf, a nice movement, but you are inviting other muscles to play so it is definitely not isolated.