Workout Wednesdays

Workout Wednesdays: A Look At The Back To Basics Workout Trend

Workout Wednesdays: A Look At The Back To Basics Workout Trend

While working out with weights is a tried and true way of achieving bigger gains, we typically have used the body weight exercises as a way to maintain or tone rather than the core of the workout. This is actually for good reason as the bodyweight exercises only give you as much push as your body has weight and is very easy to become accustomed to. However, in the past few years, a back to basics workout movement has started gaining steam and I wanted to put my two cents in on exactly what to consider when deciding to try it.

The back to basics workout is exactly how it sounds. Instead of using weights or resistance provided by a machine or bands, you use the body you currently have and try to incorporate both cardio and strength exercises into one complete workout. This also coincides with the HIIT workout we mentioned a few weeks back that is high intensity and helps your body with its irregular intervals. In fact, if we look at one of the common circuits you can find online, you’ll be surprised how similar to HIIT these workouts actually are.

Basic Circuit Example

1) Quick Feet

2) Burpees

3) Jumping Jacks

4) Bear Crawls

5) Prisoner Squats

6) Plank Jacks

7) Mountain Climbers

8) Push Ups

This constitutes one circuit and once you complete one, you’re done! For a higher burn, it’s recommended to do this circuit up to three times in a row which isn’t too bad. One of the primary sites I found that recommended this exercise actually said to do each one of these for a minute each, which if you’ve ever tried any of these for a full minute, is a kind of harrowing proposal. Not to say that it isn’t doable, but as a beginner, I would recommend you to do them for at least 30 to 40 seconds each with a 10 – 20-second rest in between. The course of the circuit itself will tire you out to the point that when you hit pushups, you may not actually get even a few in during that 30 seconds due to fatigue. We want to work out, not pass out.

However, the interruption in movement does remind me a lot of the HIIT philosophy of muscle confusion and quick sprints – long reps. Done correctly, this kind of circuit is perfect for one of your off days to keep your cardio and body toned until the next heavy strength or cardio day. I would not, however, recommend it as a complete replacement.

While the back to basics workout is relatively inexpensive and you can do it on your own, after just a few weeks of doing this exercise circuit three times a week, your body will get used to it. Our bodies are flexible and adaptable machines that can adjust and change given the stress put upon it. However, with a body weight exercise, there comes a point where it just becomes ineffective. If you’ve ever known someone who did pushups daily, after a while, they begin to have to set aside a whole hour of time to do their pushups because anything less would do absolutely nothing for their progression. While this is to the extreme, the same goes for every other body weight and cardio based exercise not requiring weights or resistance.

Once you hit that level of comfort with body weight where you stop perspiring, you feel like you could easily do it for another ten minutes, and your heart rate no longer climbs, the exercise just became ineffective for growth. There is nothing wrong with that as a maintaining exercise or a source of conditioning but to really continue to lose weight and build muscle, you have to push your body forward by pushing it with higher weights and requirements that it has to then struggle to adjust to and will lead to bigger gains in all departments. In fact, this is exactly the reason you should hire a personal trainer to keep you moving forward.

That’s my two cents on this back to basics workout and for those who have tried it and love it, that’s great! This is just my opinion on what I believe works and doesn’t work as effectively for what most people are looking for in a workout. Until next time, think healthy, be healthy!

Workout Wednesday: Learning The Right Way To Take A 'HIIT'

Workout Wednesday: Learning The Right Way To Take A ‘HIIT’

No, that isn’t misspelled. HIIT is a training regime that has become very popular as a way to burn more fat. Before gaining this title, it used to not have a name but would often be described as “muscle confusion” where you would interrupt the flow of movement with a brand new, higher intensity one.

Workout Wednesday: Learning The Right Way To Take A 'HIIT'

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and flows in a way you’d expect. Depending on the exercise, you can do it in just about any way but the best example is using body weight or weighted exercises.

So let’s look at a sample HIIT workout plan and see exactly why it works so well!

If we wanted to focus on our lower body, instead of doing a 100 squats you can actually use this to add definition and increase your cardio gain.

Lower Body Workout circuit: 

-Sprint for 30 seconds

-Perform Squat Jumps for 45 seconds

-Perform lunges 20 for each leg

-Perform Calf raises -40 reps

Do this four times with a minute rest after the calf raise portion. 

While this may be a little intense of a workout, added up, should take less than 15 minutes to complete and give a cardio and leg workout almost equal to 2 hours at the gym. But why is this so effective then?

In a few studies, this regime has been shown to burn adipose tissue far quicker than low intensity exercise. Almost 50% as much. It also speeds up your metabolism to help burn more calories. While this is true for just about any exercise if done correctly, the short period of time needed to achieve this is where the real draw comes in.

The main target of a workout like this would be people who are already in shape and desperately need to add cardio into their workouts. This won’t help you build mass because you’re not pushing your body to really use heavier weights than you’re used to, but it will help slim or cut down on what you have since it’s more activity in a shorter period of time than you’re used to.

Another great way to use HIIT for anyone looking to burn weight, is to begin your diet and alternate days between a high intensity workout and light jogging. Every other night when you get home or even in the mornings before you leave for work, find a workout you can do comfortably and quickly and knock it out. You’ll sweat and gasp for air but the regularity of the extra pressure will prove extremely beneficial in the long run.

High intensity interval training is not for everyone but for those looking for yet another great way to stay in shape, this routine (and the others you can find online) will be your new best friend. Better yet, why not speak with a personal trainer about it and see exactly how you can get this routine implemented into your workout!

Until next time, think healthy, stay healthy!

3 Tips To Greatly Improve Your Pushup Without Breaking Your Back

3 Tips To Greatly Improve Your Pushup Without Breaking Your Back

Pushups are the go to body weight exercise and for good reason. This exercise can increase strength as well as definition in the biceps, triceps, and shoulder regions. But what if I told you that you can actually improve this exercise further to include your abs, chest, or even your lats without killing them in the process? Here’s some tips to do all that and more to really improve your pushup game.

3 Tips To Greatly Improve Your Pushup Without Breaking Your Back

1. Tighten the stomach

While pushups are primarily for upper body improvement, tightening the stomach during a set of reps can actually help improve core strength. What tightening the stomach does to improve your pushups goes beyond just adding a planking type of addition but also helps from rounding your spine which reduces injury of trying to force your back to stay in place. Pretty great right?

2. Spread those fingers

A lot of people will do pushups close handed or where their fingers are all together pointing in the same direction. If you’ve ever seen those guys who do jumping pushups or anything similar, a good majority are using an open, spread hand. This adds more tension to the workout while making it a bit easier to transfer into diamond style after a while. It’s also great because it works your lats and adds yet another muscle group to the already great workout.

3. Push in and away

To improve your pushup further, try pushing inwards. If you’re utilizing the wide grip from tip four, then focus on pushing those thumbs towards each other each time you go down. This will engage the chest even further than it already has by giving the feeling of a chest press each time you perform a rep. In addition, most people consider pushups as lifting yourself off of the ground but if you try to instead, push the ground away from you, you’ll notice a change in the exercise that affects the whole body!

With these three steps in mind, you can begin to try different more difficult variations like diamond style, burpees, or even increase the amount of time per each rep for maximum muscle penetration. Pushups are wonderful and as long as you do them right, can sometimes replace a gym visit if you don’t have an hour to spend for the day.

Until next time, think healthy, be healthy!

Fire Hydrant Workout

Fire Hydrant Workout

The Fire Hydrant Workout is not extremely new but is making its way through gyms lately due to its ease of effort and focused area of work. For this Workout Wednesday, we’ll dive into what this exercise works out and how you can add it into your regime.

Fire Hydrant Workout

The fire hydrant position gets its name from, well, how a dog interacts with a fire hydrant. While that may be pretty funny (it really is!), there’s still a pretty decent exercise waiting within. This workout focuses on the abductors which are a group of muscles located in the buttocks and lateral hip region. Essentially, it’s a workout for the whole hip and buttock region. Better yet, you can do it at home without any equipment!

The main reason we would want to strengthen these muscles is because a lot of them are used in walking, jogging, and running. While most people may point to their calves or thighs, your hips and buttock are essential for pushing off and power. Not to mention, they can be considered glamorous for both Men and Women alike when toned. So let’s see how to perform the Fire Hydrant Workout shall we?

This video was found on YouTube and I found it wonderful for a visual demonstration. I also want to write out some steps and tips to keep in mind while performing the exercise.

  1. Place yourself so your hands and knees are on the ground. They should run parallel and, for a little extra core work, you can also try pulling in your stomach to increase the strength requirement.
  2. Keeping your hands in place and not bending your elbow, raise your knee up so it runs parallel with your back. Imagine again, how a dog excuses itself and emulate that motion.
  3. The motion should be on a three count while heading up, a one second pause at the top of the rep, then return to your resting position on a two count. That will maximize the work on the muscles.
  4. Repeat this step for as many reps as you can (aim for 5 to start on one side as the motion is a little jarring at first). Once done, repeat this motion on your other side. That will make one set.
  5. Try to start with three sets of five reps each and if that feels too easy, increase reps as you feel necessary. These can be improved by adding weighted wrist bands or ankle bracelets and rolling them up to the knee or thigh.

And that’s the basic Fire Hydrant workout. This can be included in a leg day at home or even while training as it targets some areas that are usually not hit quite as hard regularly. When your calves are on their last breath, your thighs are burning, and your butt has a little bit of a hit, try adding some of these as a finisher for your hips and call it a day.

Until next time, think healthy, be healthy!

Breathing, You're Doing It Wrong!

Breathing, You’re Doing It Wrong!

That’s right, as much as you probably think that the activity you do daily can’t be done wrong, when it comes to exercise, there is actually a fine line between maintaining a proper breathing routine and breathing too little or too much. On our first Workout Wednesday, we’re going to take a look at some different ways improper breathing can make workouts less effective and how to avoid creating a bad habit of it.

Breathing, You're Doing It Wrong!

Weighted Workouts

We’ve all been there. Sitting under a weight that’s just a little too much for us at the current time either due to fatigue or lack of proper preparation. As we push out we hold our breath in hopes that it will magically increase our strength like a mommy lifting a bus to save their child. However, when your life isn’t in danger, and honestly any time you lift a weight, this is absolutely wrong.

Workouts require many things to be effective but the most important, especially when using weights or running, are calories, water, and oxygen. Your muscles need all of these to operate effectively and when not utilized correctly, can often hurt them instead. Imagine the upper body as a balloon and as you push your oxygen in and out, it actually puffs you up and releases it naturally. Now imagine you’re putting lots of air into the balloon at once and holding it there while applying pressure on it. It’ll pop! The same thing goes with your body as when you put pressure on your arms and then on your lungs by trying to hold in air like Superman, both will give out eventually. Improper breathing can often lead to blood vessel strains, hernias, and even high blood pressure. That’s the opposite of what we want!

So how do you optimize breathing so you don’t pop under the pressure? As states in a very entertaining article on the subject “ALWAYS exhale on exertion.” To put it simply, at the actual lifting part, breathe out and when resetting to the neutral position, breathe in. This may seem a little difficult if you’re used to breathing improperly but once learned, will greatly benefit your workouts. Here’s a few tips to help during weighted workouts that can also be applied to many others.

  1. During the workout, try slowing down your reps to match your breathing. As you exhale out, reach the end of the exertion and try to time it so you hit the end of your breath at the same point. As you inhale, try to return back to the resting position right as it ends. This not only increases the length of the exercise (which makes for better workouts) but also increases the attention given to breathing correctly.
  2. Try to keep track of the 3:2 rule. This is where you breaths out for three seconds, then breathe in for two seconds. This will eventually make your reps line up with the breathing and you’ll be surprised with the results!
  3. Become a mouth breather! As long as you have some gum on hand, try breathing through your mouth during workouts. It’s far more audible than your nose and can typically help you keep track of whether or not you’ve breathed in or out recently.

Breathing, You're Doing It Wrong! 2


Ab Workouts

Ab Workouts follow the same basic principle as weighted workouts however there is something more that we’re looking to focus on to make these effective. You still want to breathe out when doing the crunch but also want to make sure that you suck in your stomach which may sound unnatural but, it’s necessary. The reasoning is when we breathe out naturally, especially if you’ve been in theater, we tend to breathe out by letting our stomachs bulge a bit. It’s a way of relaxing all the muscles in our body BUT we’re not trying to do that during a crunch! So when we crunch, we want to focus on either keeping the muscles not only tightened but resistant to the natural push of our bodies wanting to relax during an exhale. While a bit more advanced of a step, this helps avoid the dreaded “bloated ab” look. While this doesn’t apply to everyone, often the reason even after dieting, daily workouts, and 30 minutes of abs is from not sucking in while breathing out.

The only major tip I can give on this one would be to focus on your workout and make sure that you feel a pull in the proper muscle groups that these are meant to focus on. If you get up from an ab workout and don’t have a hit, you probably didn’t perform the workout right and it’s time to reconsider how you’re approaching them. Instead, slow down the reps within reason and see if you can’t feel your abs contracting the way you would like them to and optimize your ab workout.

In closing, when it comes to weighted, cardio, Or ab focused workouts, proper breathing is essential to truly bring out the best you. While taking shortcuts may seem easier, putting in the effort with these steps will eventually give you exactly what you’re going for with higher weight loss, less muscle strain, and even more muscle tone in the end.

That’s all for today and until next time, think healthy, be healthy!