Archive | July, 2017

pullups

Bar pull-ups: tips and perks

Increase your back strength with bar pull-ups. Here’s how to get it right.

A strong back is integral to a strong, high functioning, lean body, and pull-ups are like a laser pointer for your flip side. They’re also bloody tough.

“Pull-ups are one of the toughest bodyweight exercises you can do and they do take a long time to master,” says  PT and founder of business KE Fitness Kris Etheridge.

Yet beginners who withstand the burn will witness rapid gains. “You’re going to have to be patient, but you should be improving in strength each week when you first start out.” Etheridge advises strengthening your biceps and upper back using the assisted pull-up/chin-up machine, lat pull-down machine and seated row machine. “If you don’t have access to these machines, a great way to work on your chin-ups or pull-ups is to loop a large power band (a thick circular rubber band) over a chin-up bar and put one of your feet in it,” Etheridge says. “This will help lift some of your body weight. As you get better, you can change to lighter bands until you’re achieving this all on your own.” When performing pull-ups, remember to use your lats (the broadest muscle on your back) and not just your arms.

Perks: “Pull-ups target the upper back, particularly the lats, and also work the biceps and abdominals,” Etheridge says. Not only will pull-ups become easier the more you practise due to the increased muscle you’re producing in conjunction with a loss of body fat, but these will also help for advancing in other exercises. “Having a strong upper back will allow you to progress to more challenging exercises like Olympic lifting,” Etheridge says. 

Injury insurance:  If you’re overweight, be careful not to overdo this exercise at the start, as pull-ups are very demanding. Generally speaking, the bigger you are, the more difficult you will find pull-ups as you have more weight to lift. There’s a reason most rock climbers are lean after all! If you have shoulder, upper back or neck injuries, ask a professional if pull-ups are an appropriate exercise for your needs. 

Pull-up challenge

Instructions: Emphasising the correct technique, INCLUDE PULL-UPS IN YOUR WORKOUT TWO TO THREE TIMES PER WEEK.

Week one–two – Using the heavy power band, perform two sets of 15 reps.

Week three–four – Change to the moderate strength resistance band, and perform three sets of eight reps.

Week five – Reduce the resistance to the light band and perform four sets of three reps.

Week six – Perform three sets of three reps of negative pull-ups. Here you’re avoiding the pulling up phase and just doing the lowering movement without a band to help. It should take you three to five seconds to lower, and the slower, the better! 

Once you can perform the above comfortably, you’re ready to try the real thing!

Looking for more upper body workouts? Try this toning upper body workout.

 

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Bar pull-ups: tips and perks

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5 exercises for at-home reformer Pilates

If reformer Pilates sounds like your kind of deal, you better be prepared to part with a pretty penny. An hour-long private lesson can set you back hundreds of dollars, while group classes are still quite pricey. But for those without the watertight income, exercise physiologist Jennifer Smallridge and physiotherapist at Sportsmed biologic, Rebecca Huppert put together five spins on classic reformer moves to have you reaping all the benefits in the comfort of your own home:

1. Reformer lunges

This move is traditionally performed with one foot on the carriage, one foot on the stable platform, and the lunge pushes the carriage back (creating instability). This can be reproduced with XR Slides on a carpeted area (xrslide.com) by placing one foot on the ground and the back foot on the slide, lunging and then swapping sides. You could also use a book to gain the sliding motion.

2. Hands in straps – pullovers

Without a reformer, a resistance band can be wrapped around a steady object (table leg, tied tightly around a door handle). Lie with your body facing away from the band, ensure there is tension in the band, extend both arms up to the ceiling and pull the band down towards your sides while keeping your pelvis neutral. Challenges to this move include putting the legs up in tabletop, and/or adding an abdominal curl.

3. Leg press

This is one of the foundation moves in reformer Pilates. Without the footbar to put the feet on, you can lie on a mat and place your legs in tabletop, then try to keep the pelvis level as you tap one foot down on the mat at a time. You must engage your core muscles for this to be effective and safe. Add difficulty by straightening the leg each time it lowers, or lifting up the head and chest.

4. Reformer row

Again, wrapping a resistance band around a fixed object will allow a row type movement to be performed. The reformer works well by challenging the core, so to get the same benefits, stand on an unstable surface (BOSU, cushion, one leg stand) or complete a squat at the same time, with your core muscles active.

5. Scooter

This exercise involves one leg firmly on the floor and the other on the carriage, pushing it back against resistance and challenging the gluteal muscles on both sides. Without a reformer, arabesques are a nice way to work these muscles. Stand on one leg, hands on hips and lower your chest/lift your back leg at the same time, so that you feel it working all of the stabilisers of your stance leg. Rise up and repeat.

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5 exercises for at-home reformer Pilates

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back-support-and-pike-pilates

Back support + front support + pike

Pilates is brilliant for strength and conditioning without expensive equipment.

Sit with feet close to your bottom and with your hands behind. Press into feet and hands to lift off mat.

Turn body over to kneeling on hands and knees, press hands into mat and extend right leg back to plank position.

Repeat with left leg. Hold for one-plus minutes.

Aim for 10 reps.

Sharan Simmons (pictured) is a senior Pilates instructor at Pilates Alliance Australasia.

Browse more pilates moves or connect with us on Facebook.

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Back support + front support + pike

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upright-row-1

Resistance band upright row

Target your delts, biceps and traps with this upright row. All you need is a resistance band.

Move: Stand with both feet on top of the band, about hip-width apart and criss-cross the bands in each hand to create an ‘X’. Start with your arms down, palms/handles on top of thighs and a slight bend in your elbows. Keep the handles close to your body and pull them straight up towards your chest. Come up until your arms are parallel with the floor, pause for a second at the top, lower back down, and repeat.

(Fit Tip: Be sure that your elbows do not come up higher than 90 degrees, as this puts added strain on the rotator cuff.)

Words and workout by Ashley Azevedo.

Photography by James Patrick.

Check out these top 14 exercises for toned arms.

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Resistance band upright row

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yoga

Yoga poses

While yoga is undoubtedly known as the go-to for limbering up, de-stressing and boosting flexibility, it’s less known for its contribution to cardio fitness. Wild, a new class from Fierce Grace (fiercegrace.com), is looking to change that, though. Taking inspiration from martial arts, ballet, qigong, physiotherapy, resistance exercises and, of course, traditional yoga, Wild is a functional-based workout designed for anyone and everyone. Try this workout for a taster of what this innovative class offers. Ready?

Ragdoll jumps

Technique-

With your feet hip-width apart and arms loose, perform continuous little jumps for 30 seconds.

Straddle reach-through

Technique-

Stand with feet wider than hips. Bend your knees if you need to.

Hinge at the hips, reaching your arms out. Graze the floor with your hands as you go, exhaling all the way to reach your arms through your legs. 

Inhale to bounce back, then reach through again, taking a second to complete each reach-through.

Do 15 reps in total.

Straddle push-up

Technique-

Standing up straight with your feet wide, reach down to the floor by your toes.

Walk forward with your  hands until your body is in a straight line.

Bend your arms to lower your chest, then push back up.

Walk your hands back to the start.

Repeat for 10 reps.

Spine flex

Technique-

Sit cross-legged on the floor with your hands on your ankles.

Exhale, round your spine and relax it, look down and feel the stretch in your upper back.

Inhale and arch your spine, look up and push your chest forwards, using your hands to help you.

Repeat, performing one rep per second for one minute.

Corkscrew twists 

Technique-

Sit cross-legged with your hands resting on your shoulders – fingers in front, thumbs at the back and elbows out to the sides. Keep your eyes and head forward throughout.

Inhale to twist left, then exhale right.

Pull your belly in and lift your chest.

Repeat once per second.

Fire plank

Technique-

Hold a plank with hands under your shoulders, fingers spread, tailbone tucked under, abs and quads tight.

Practise ‘fire breath’ (drawing breath from your navel area, quickly breathe in and out through your nose, pulling your belly in as you exhale).

Hold for 45 secs.

Now, without losing form, lift your left leg and right arm.

Bring them back to the plank then do the same with the opposite limbs.

Do this twice more on each side.

Fast scissors

Technique-

Lie on your back with your palms under your hips for support and legs off the ground.

Scissor your legs up and down, performing fire breath through your nose once each rep.

Go for one minute.

Bum lift 

Technique-

Lie on your front with your arms beside you, palms down, elbows locked and forehead on the floor.

Bend your knees to take your feet off the floor, keeping them together.

Inhale and squeeze to lift your knees off the floor, then lower them straight back down to finish the rep.

Do 30 reps.

Check out www.fiercegrace.com for more information on yoga, classes and training

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Yoga poses

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marathon

Half marathon training

You’re feeling fit, strong and healthy. So what now? If you’ve started coasting from one session to the next now that you’ve made all that initial progress, it’s time to take your workout to the next level.

Not only does your body need a routine shake-up once it’s adapted to exercise, your motivation needs a boost, too. There’s always room to improve, whether you’re a runner, a weights girl or just looking to lose a few pounds – you just need to know how. Try training for a half marathon to break through your barriers and take your results higher.

Become a film star

OK, it might feel strange to watch a video of yourself working out, but it’s a great way to check your running technique. Sometimes a movement might feel right when it’s not quite perfect, which means that you’ve made a habit of performing it incorrectly. So, video footage allows you to see if you need to be more upright when running or need to work on your gait.

Eat for exercise

Keeping your weight in check is simple: avoid refined and processed foods, sugars and trans fats and fill up on vegetables, good fats and protein. But if you hone in on your healthy eating just a little more, you could see a huge pay-off when training for a half marathon. What you eat and when you eat it can have a dramatic effect on your results. Take carbs, for example – most people think they’re best consumed before exercise to act as a fuel, but they’re actually most useful after a tough session when the glycogen stores in your muscles are depleted and in need of replenishment. Plus, we’re more sensitive to insulin after exercise, so the effect carbs usually have on blood sugar will be less significant and less likely to be stored as fat. Win-win!

Know thyself

Get familiar with your genetic body type for a tailor-made workout. Are you a mesomorph (naturally low body fat and able to gain lean muscle mass easily); an ectomorph (naturally long, lean and slender and struggle to gain fat or muscle mass); or an endomorph (able to gain both fat and muscle mass easily)? Knowing yourself will help decipher the best way to eat and exercise for the results you want when you’re training for a half marathon.

Train to compete

What drives elite athletes to get up at the crack of dawn to begin a long day of training? You can bet it’s their gold-medal goal. Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional to have a competition goal – sign up for a half marathon to ramp your motivation up a gear.

Alter your aims

Struggling to blast the last five pounds through running? Want to shave seconds off your PB? Whatever goal you’ve been working on for last six weeks, change it up if your results are slowing. Focusing on something fresh, like a half marathon, can subconsciously change your approach to training, which might be enough of a tweak to get the effects you’re after.

Keep a diary

Studies have shown that keeping a food diary is crucial for successful weight loss. It encourages mindful eating, progress tracking and ensures you can’t get away with lying to yourself about your eating habits. Well, the same goes for exercise. No more skipping sessions, lacklustre efforts in the gym or excuses for giving your workout a miss. Jot down what you did and when, as well as how you felt before and after the sessions to discover what works best for you.

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5 equipment free exercises to tone your upper body

Choose your appropriate option for the clap push-up depending on your fitness and strength ability. These can be done on either your toes, knees or eliminate the clap altogether and just keep it a simple push-up.

Start in a plank position and use your arms to lower your chest towards to floor – a nice deep push-up will get great results. Push your chest back up as you would with a normal push-up but with more force, springing off the ground for a clap. Land with soft elbows to prevent injury and do your next rep.

Chair dip

Face away from the chair.

Place your hands behind you on the edge of the seat, shoulder-width apart. With your hands securely in place, step a foot or two away, and straighten your legs and keep heels in contact with the floor. Straighten your arms so that your body is lifted. This is your starting position.

Bend your elbows and lower yourself until your elbows are 90 degrees, hold, and re-straighten back to the starting position. Repeat.

Plank to palms 

Not only works your abs but targets your shoulders and triceps.

Get into a prone position on the floor, supporting your weight on your toes and your forearms. Your arms are bent and directly below the shoulder.

Leading with one arm, push upwards while keeping your core on tight and have your other arm follow the lead.

Reverse the action with the leading arm to take you back to the starting plank position.

Repeat 5 reps with one leading arm before swapping to the opposite arm to lead.

Keep your body straight at all times.

Repeat this exercise for 5 reps (each side) and 3 sets.

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5 equipment free exercises to tone your upper body

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Image curl-press-1.jpg

Full body resistance band workout

Give your whole body a strength and cardio workout in one with Ashley Azevedo‘s resistance band workout.

The workout

Circuit training simply means performing exercises back to back with little to no rest in between. Its elevator pitch is maximum perks in minimum time. Due to the fast-paced nature of circuit training, it elevates heart rate and couples cardio and strength training.

Even if you’re solely a weights girl, resistance bands are a great way to keep your body guessing and prevent plateaus. The resistance, reps and number of circuits can all be varied to meet your goals and fitness level.

What you need to do

Consider the list a sequence, not an a la carte menu. Perform a set (10 to 15 reps) of the first exercise and move immediately to the second exercise. Perform one set and move immediately to the third exercise and so on. Keep rests as short as possible. After you complete one full circuit, rest for about 60 seconds and start again. Available time and current fitness level will determine how many cycles you do, but aim for one to five.

(Fit tip: Don’t try to do too much too soon. It’s false economy.) Make sure you warm up the muscles you’ll use before any workout and cool down and stretch out afterwards to avoid injury and consult your doctor before starting any new training regimen.

Targets: Biceps, Delts

curl-press-1.jpg

Perks: This compound movement allows multiple muscle groups to be worked with one exercise, making it time efficient and adding to the difficulty of your workout. Sculpt the arms with this two-in-one exercise.

Move: Stand with both feet on top of the band, about hip-width apart.

(Fit Tip: You can control how easy or hard the exercise is by where you stand on the band to create more or less tension.) Start with both arms straight and begin to curl the arms up and towards the chest. Keep your elbows locked at your side. Once you get to the top of your curl, rotate your arms outward and turn your hands so palms are facing away. Press straight up, pause at the top, lower back down and repeat.

Words and workout by Ashley Azevedo.

Photography by James Patrick.

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Full body resistance band workout

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Scultping full upper-body workout by Marcie King

This full upper-body workout targets abs from every angle while sculpting arms, back and chest. 

Two to three days per week.

The rules

Perform all exercises in pairs (e.g. 1&2, 3&4, etc), leaving 48 hours between workouts. (e.g. Tuesday and Friday). There is no rest between paired exercises. Once you have completed the pair, you will have a 30 to 60-second rest and move to the next pair of exercises. Repeat until you’ve completed all exercises. 

WORKOUT-upperbody

Words/workout: Marcie King (pictured)

Photography: Jamie Watling // jamiewatlingphotography.com // @jamiewatling

 

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Scultping full upper-body workout by Marcie King

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Gym free circuit

Get sculpted with this exclusive gym free circuit by the Tone It Up Girls. All you need is your yoga or exercise mat.

 

Move 1

Downward dog & butt kick

Move 1 - Downward dog and butt kick - Women's Health and Fitness magazine

Warms up your body, engages core and lifts butt

HOW: Begin in a downward dog position. Slowly and with control, lift your right leg up towards the sky, keeping your shoulders square and both hands firmly planted on the ground. Engage that butt! Lower your leg and repeat 10 times before alternating sides.

Move 2

Butt lifter & arm cincher

Tone It Up Girls - Home workout - move 2 - Women's Health and Fitness Magazine

Tones arms and butt and tightens core
HOW: Begin in a high plank position, drawing a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Lift your left leg up as you lower your right knee to the ground. Next, perform a tricep push-up by kissing your elbows to your waistline.

Complete 10 reps as you keep your left leg up and lifted. Repeat on the other side.

Heat wave

Tone It Up Girls - Home Workout - Move 3 - Women's Health and Fitness Magazine

Targets butt and core

HOW: Begin in a standard bridge position, on your back with feet directly below your knees. Keep you butt up, pressing up through the front of your hips. Keep your abs tight and butt engaged as you rotate your hips from side to side. Repeat 20 times.

 

Photography: Ashley Streff.

Words: Katrina Hodgson and Karena Dawn

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Gym free circuit

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