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Mindfulness exercises

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There are tonnes of ways to get pumped using exercise, a HIIT class with booming music that shakes the floor, sprinting your morning run because your so pumped because your earphones are so loud they’re practically bursting your ear drums, or signing up for another spin class knowing full well that the instructor will be screaming at you the whole time. But, it’s important to make sure you’re getting a healthy balance of exercise and rest or relaxation to achieve good health – that’s why we love methods that combine the two.

If you thought ‘inner energy’ was all about sitting on a yoga mat in the lotus position while chanting ‘om’, then think again. Those familiar with the Chinese martial art tai chi may have come across qigong before. Sometimes known by its full name of taiji qigong, it consists of 18 exercises that are used to promote the body’s natural healing energy to reduce stress levels and increase your quality of life.

How does it work?

Focusing on postures and breathing, qigong is aimed at improving physical and mental health. ‘The exercises can help to promote the body’s natural healing energy, reduce stress and create a feeling of wellbeing,’ explains Ronnie Robinson the director of Taiji Europa, (taiji-europa.eu).
If you know a little about acupuncture, you may be familiar with the Chinese theory of internal energy pathways, or meridians, through which ‘qi’ or ‘chi’ – energy – flows through. ‘Each meridian connects to different internal organs and ensures a healthy energy flow to the connected organ,’ Ronnie explains. ‘When the chi flow is regular the body will remain healthy. However, if there are blockages in this energy flow, problems can result.’
The theory goes that ailments occur because there is disruption to the energy flow in the meridian associated with that particular area. The disruption can be due to stress, poor eating habits, or even being too hot or too cold, creating a build-up which energy can’t freely flow through. Qigong helps to clear these blockages so energy can flow through the meridians with as little disruption as possible.

How to do it

The movements are simple, slow and gentle, yet effective in restoring energy. The body is kept in alignment throughout, and breathing is soft and natural. You may not get your heart racing in qigong, but you’ll certainly benefit physically. ‘Think about the natural movements of animals,’ says Ronnie, ‘like how birds take off and fly. They don’t carry the stresses and strains in their bodies that we humans do. Try to emulate the smooth, easy, natural movements that you see in the rest of nature.’
Want to give qigong a go? Perform each move 8-10 times one after another to create a flowing routine. It’s ideal performed in the morning for a gentle start to the day, or a good option if you need to unwind after work.

Qigong decoded

Beihui: A pressure point at the central part of the top of the head
Dantian: A pressure point just in front of your tummy
Laogong: A pressure point on the centre of the palm of the hd
Zusanli: A pressure point a few inches below the outside of the knee

Top tips for qigong

Listen to your breath Adopt a soft, natural breathing during the movements.

Be aware of your body Although aches and pains are sometimes normal, don’t overdo it. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

‘Sink’ your weight and ‘lighten’ your upper body Establish a connection with the ground by imagining your weight dropping deep into the earth while your upper body floats upwards. In reality, your upper body may be heavy with tension while you find it hard to keep your feet firmly on the ground.
Maintain alignment Keep a natural arch in your back and neutral spine, the way we’ve evolved.
Focus and intent Connect with all the movements you’re making and the directions you’re going.
Be natural Think of the movements you see taking place in nature and try to follow suit.

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Mindfulness exercises

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Built Like A Gymnast: Pack On The Muscle With Gymnastic Rings

Gymnastics rings are showing up in more gyms than ever before. However, many people mistakenly believe these wooden implements are only useful for athletes who use them in competition, like gymnasts or CrossFit athletes. In reality, anyone can use the rings and benefit from them tremendously, because they help simultaneously build strength, stability, and coordination like no other apparatus.

If you’ve ever watched the gymnastics events at the Olympics, you know how much strength the rings require. What you may not know about the rings, though, is how effectively they can be used to build incredible muscular size and definition. The rings may not be the first tool that comes to mind if hypertrophy is your goal, but as the incredible physiques of elite gymnasts show, ring work can help pack muscle on the upper body.

Are they easy? No, but nothing worth pursuing is. If you’re willing to start at the bottom and master the techniques and routines I outline here, you’ll find they’re a great tool for building a muscular upper body that’s every bit as strong as it looks.

Gymnastics Rings for Hypertrophy
Watch The Video – 05:50

Getting Off The Ground

The primary exercises that I’ll show you are leverage holds and fundamental pulls and pushes that emphasize control over the rings and your body.

For now, you won’t be doing any swinging moves on the rings. Instead, the primary exercises that I’ll show you are leverage holds and fundamental pulls and pushes that emphasize control over the rings and your body. You’ll soon realize that these are the best for hypertrophy and muscle conditioning anyway.

Most of these moves are classics with which you’re familiar, but not like this. Why would you need to watch another tutorial on doing a pull-up, row, or dip? The answer: Because everything is different on the rings.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you do a bodyweight pull-up on a stable object like a bar, the only moving object is your body. All you have to worry about is pulling your body to reach the bar.

With the rings, you can’t rely on the stability of a bar; you have to stabilize the rings while also pulling your body up to meet them. This requires more control, tension, concentration, and effort.

You can’t just jump on the rings and let your mind wander as you pump out the reps. This in itself is a major benefit to using them. As any experienced bodybuilder will attest, the mind-muscle connection is both real and highly effective at changing your physique, and it is front and center in ring training.

Right away, you’ll notice improved muscular contraction and sensation, and even if you’ve been training for a while. This “new” style of training can also produce DOMS like you haven’t felt since the first time you picked up a weight!

Gymnastics Rings Workouts

These two routines will help familiarize you with the unique challenges and stimulus offered by the rings, and they’re great for building that coveted V-shape. If you can’t manage all the reps at first, don’t be surprised. Keep practicing until you can manage all the reps with good form and a full range of motion on pull-ups and dips before trying anything more advanced.

Keep practicing until you can manage all the reps with good form and a full range of motion on pull-ups and dips before trying anything more advanced.

Start with the fundamentals workout, and when you’re feeling confident with it, mix in the superset workout.

Ring Fundamentals Workout
  1. Top position hold 5 sets of 15 seconds, 30 sec. rest
  2. Ring dip 5 sets of 8-12 reps, 1 min. rest
  3. Reverse row sit-back 5 sets of 10-15 reps, 1 min. rest
  4. Tuck/L-sit 5 sets of 15 seconds, 30 sec. rest
  5. Ring chin-up or pull-up 5 sets of 8-12 reps, 1 min. rest

Dynamic/Isometric Superset workout
  1. Ring dip 6-8 reps of dip, with a 15-sec. top position hold in between each rep. Do this for 5 sets with 1 min. rest between sets.
  2. Reverse row sit-back 6 to 8 reps with a 15-sec. tuck/L-sit in between each rep. Do this for 5 sets with 1 minute of rest between sets.
  3. Ring chin-up or pull-up 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps, with 1 minute of rest between sets.

Why These Exercises?

Exercise 1

Holding this position correctly will give you an intense triceps involvement, along with a contraction of the posterior deltoid and mid and lower trapezius. It’s a great move to start your routine; it “wakes up” the upper body and core and prepares them for the work ahead.

Exercise 2

Ring Dip

This classic bodyweight exercise is made exponentially harder by the unstable rings, so don’t be alarmed if you can’t do as many repetitions as you normally would on a fixed object. Again, be prepared for significant triceps contraction and pectoral involvement, especially if you pause for a second in the bottom position of the rep.

When fatigue hits, you’ll notice the last few inches of the repetition seem impossible to complete. Keep pushing hard! This is where the benefit happens.

Exercise 3

Reverse Row Sit-Back

This unique combination move joins together a rowing movement with a pull-up and assists in that transitional strength between the two moves. It stimulates development in the lats, biceps, and shoulders.

It’s not unusual to see a jump in performance on your regular rows and pull-ups after performing this exercise on the rings regularly for just a few weeks.

Exercise 4

This leverage hold takes abdominal training to the next level. Just as in the top position hold, your arms and shoulders will be working as hard as possible. But the added positioning of having your knees or entire leg lifted up makes it even more difficult.

Be prepared to hold for less time and do more sets in the beginning to get used to doing these moves on the rings.

Exercise 5

The lats, rhomboids, deltoids, biceps, abdominals, forearms, and even the pecs get worked hard in the ring version of the mighty pull-up. The moving rings make it more difficult, but they can also be a lifesaver for people who experience elbow or shoulder problems when doing pull-ups on a straight bar.

The free rotation of the rings lets you change your positioning in a way that you can’t on a fixed bar, and this often helps alleviate the strain that may be giving you problems.

Practice, Practice, Practice

There is one important thing to keep in mind if you’re looking to incorporate rings into your training regimen: They require patience and dedication. One of the most common things we hear from our clients is how humbling they found ring training to be initially. You may be strong, but you’ll be required to use your body in a different way than you’re used to.

I recommend choosing one of the routines described above and sticking with it for at least 4-6 weeks exclusively. This will give you the chance to get acclimated with this new training style. Don’t worry about losing ground in your other upper body lifts; if anything, you might find they’re stronger when you go back to them.

After you feel a bit more comfortable using the rings, incorporate rings exercises into your regular training as you see fit.

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Looking to turn the heat up on your squat regimen? You’ve come to the right place. Step away from the norm and address the weaknesses that hold you back!

Learn The Olympic Lifts: Snatch And Clean And Jerk Progression Lifts

The snatch and the clean and jerk are difficult movements. So before you load a barbell and try one of them, give these progression lifts a go. They’ll help you develop the speed, mobility, and power to be successful.


About The Author

Ryan Hurst is the Program Director for Gold Medal Bodies, with over 20 years of experience in strength and movement coaching.

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Built Like A Gymnast: Pack On The Muscle With Gymnastic Rings

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Weight TrainingComments Off on Built Like A Gymnast: Pack On The Muscle With Gymnastic Rings


Paige Hathaway

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Paige Hathaway

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