Unique Fitness Blog ::

5 Common Squat Mistakes ::

Posted in exercise tips, exercises, exercises benefits, lower body workout, squats, strength gains, thigh development, thigh training, workout mistakes, workout tips | Posted on 7 May 2015

Squats have long been regarded as one of the best lower-body exercises. They are especially great for the thighs, glutes, and calves. Whether you’re looking to build muscle, boost your athletic performance, or improve your overall health, they can give you results. Having the proper form is crucial, though. If you’re looking to add squats to your routine or they are already a part of it, make sure you’re aware of the following mistakes.

Allowing the Knees to Go Too Far Forward

To protect your knees, pay attention to their position during a squat. The best way to do this is to imagine a line extending straight up from your toes. Your knees should not pass over that line. Sitting further back into the squat will help if you’re having trouble correcting this.

Performing Shallow Squats

To maximize the benefits, you need to make sure you’re getting low enough as you squat. Some people wind up loading the bar with too much weight that they are unable to do a deep enough squat. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor as your knees create a 90-degree bend. Working on your hip mobility will help if you’re feeling incapable of going that low.

Improper Breathing

Because this exercise is so challenging, proper breathing is essential. Remember to exhale as you move up and inhale as you lower. You’ll want to forcefully exhale as you near the top of the movement.

Rounding the Back

Keeping a flat back is important, but it can be hard when you have a loaded bar. You’ll need to avoid rounding the back so you don’t add more stress to it. You’ll also want to keep your head looking straight out rather than down or way up.

Not Placing Your Weight on Your Heels

Your heels should stay in contact with the floor during the entire exercise. If you roll up on your toes, then you need to work on your hip mobility. Going on your toes means your hamstrings and glutes will no longer be engaged during the movement.

5 Dumbbell Exercises to Work Your Arms ::

Posted in arm exercises, arm training, arm workout, back excercises, biceps exercise, biceps training, biceps workout, dumbbell biceps curls, dumbbell curls, dumbbell exercises, dumbbell presses, dumbbell row. bent over row, dumbbell training, dumbbells, exercise, exercise routine, exercise tips, exercises, fitness routine, fitness tips, getting in shape, strength training, tricpes exercises, upper body workout, upright rows | Posted on 30 April 2015

Give your arms a good workout with dumbbell exercises that you can perform anywhere you store your weights. The following five moves will help you target several muscles in your arms, shoulders, and back. Perform 2 – 3 sets of 8 – 12 reps for your workout. They’re perfect for beginners, but anyone can benefit when using the appropriate dumbbell size. It may be helpful to use different sizes for some of the exercises, so it’s a good idea to have various pairs of dumbbells handy.

Upright Row – Works the shoulders and upper arms.

Standing with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, hold a dumbbell in each hand so the weights are resting on top of your thighs. Your palms should be facing toward you. Raise the dumbbells to your shoulders while bending your elbows out to the sides. Your elbows should remain higher than your forearms. Keep the weights close to your body as you do this. Lower them back to your starting position to complete one rep.

Overhead Triceps Extensions – Targets the back of the arms.

Standing with feet hip-width apart, hold a single dumbbell with both hands and fully extend your arms to lift the weight up and over your head. This will be the starting position. Bend your elbows to lower the weight behind your head. Raise the dumbbell into the air by straightening your arms to complete one rep. A heavier weight works better.

Bent-Over Row – Works the triceps and upper back.

With knees bent and a dumbbell in each hand, lean forward until your back is almost parallel with the floor. Keep your head up and your back flat. Be careful not to arch it during this move. Your arms should hang down in front of you with your palms facing each other as they hold the weights. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift the dumbbells up to your sides and near your chest. Hold for a second before lowering the dumbbells back to the starting position to complete the rep. If you suffer from back problems, consult your doctor before performing this exercise.

Bent-Over Reverse Fly – Engages the shoulders and upper back.

Standing with knees slightly bent and a dumbbell in each hand, keep the back flat as you bend forward. Your arms should extend down in front of you with the weights together and your palms facing each other. With a slight bend in the elbows, squeeze your shoulder blades as you separate the weights by moving them out and away to the side in an arcing motion. Slowly lower the weights to return to the starting position and complete the rep.

Bicep Curl to Overhead Press – Targets the biceps and shoulders.

Standing with feet hip-width apart, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides and your palms facing out. Raise the weights up to your shoulders by bending your elbows to perform the bicep curl. Continue to press the weights over your head as you move your arms upward and straighten them. Your palms should face out as you reach the top of this movement. Reverse the exercise by lowering the dumbbells back to the position with your elbows bent, and then move the weights down to the starting position to complete the rep.

Are you ready to get your arms into shape? Grab a pair of dumbbells and get started today!

 

DumbbellExercises

Start a 6 Week Summer Fitness Plan ::

Posted in diet and exercise, Diet Plans, fitness plan, fitness routine, summer, summer fitness, summer workout | Posted on 16 April 2015

We’ve just entered spring but many of us are already thinking ahead to warmer summer days. We’re only 6 weeks away from the unofficial start of summer. That means beach days, barbecues, and swimwear will be here before we know it. Instead of worrying about getting fit, get motivated to actually do it. Keep reading to find out how you can take the next 6 weeks to prepare for summer. But you need to start today if you want to greet the season with a leaner, fitter body.

The first thing you have to do is get in the right mindset. Create specific goals with a realistic workout plan that you can follow. Make a schedule and write down your plan to keep you from giving into excuses. Once you have your workouts mapped out, they’ll be easier to get done. When thinking of exercises, you must remember that there is no magic way to spot-reduce certain areas of your body. The best way to achieve leaner abs, legs, or arms is by working on your entire body with cardio and strength routines.

For your cardio portion, plan on 2 – 3 days each week of 30 minute sessions. Whether you choose cycling, walking, swimming, rowing, running, or jogging, make sure you start gradual. As you progress each week, increase the intensity and duration. You can also incorporate high-intensity intervals to kick it up a notch.

To get the results you want, you should incorporate 2 – 3 days each week of resistance training. You can work out on machines or add free weights, weighted fitness balls, or resistance bands. You can also use your own body weight for resistance and refer to our previous post for what to add to your routine. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing 8 – 10 of these types of exercises with 8 – 12 reps.

You can alter the times and exercises to meet your needs, but this can be used as a guide to get you going. Be sure to vary the muscle groups you’re working and include rest days to avoid overuse injuries.

So, get started today and be ready when summer arrives. The countdown starts now!

Summer Beach

 

How to Prevent Shin Splints ::

Posted in cardio, cardio conditioning, cardio training, injuries, injury prevention, runners, running, working out, workout | Posted on 9 April 2015

Spring is the perfect time to start running outdoors. One of the most common ailments of runners, regardless of their fitness level, is shin splints. If you’re concerned about being sidelined by shin splints, keep reading to learn more about this issue, how to deal with it, and how you can prevent it.

Shin splints refer to a variety of lower leg pain that exists below the knee, and may also be called medial tibial stress syndrome. The pain can be present on the front outside portion of your lower leg or on the inside. The pain can range from mild to more severe.

There are a number of reasons why shin splits occur, but there are typically two main causes. The first cause is too much impact to the lower legs, which can be a result of heel striking. The shock from your heels repeatedly hitting the ground can irritate the connective tissue in your muscles. Too much impact can also result from running in worn-out shoes, or increased running on downhill or sloped surfaces.

The other main cause of shin splints is overuse of the lower leg muscles. This can occur from pushing off with the toes while running and forcing the calves and shins to do more work than they are supposed to do. This small group of muscles was not designed to work that hard and soreness may develop. Overuse injuries can also arise in beginning runners who train harder or faster than their body is ready.

There are a few steps you can take in order to prevent shin splints. Make sure you wear good, supportive shoes when running. You can add arch support with shoe inserts, if needed. Warming up before you work out and stretching after it are other ways to help. You can also perform exercises, like calf raises, one-legged bridges, and toe curls, to improve the strength in the stabilizing muscles of your hips and ankles. If you’re a beginning runner, start slowly and gradually increase your time and pace.

If shin splints are already a problem, rest is important. Icing the area or using a sleeve may also provide relief. To continue exercising, consider cross-training and working other areas of the body.

Even though shin splints are a common problem, the good news is that they are completely preventable and curable. So, there is no need to hang up your running shoes and stay away from a sport you enjoy!

How to Deal With Injuries ::

Posted in injuries, Injury | Posted on 30 March 2015

Maintaining fitness while injured is possible, contrary to common belief–it just takes some creativity!

 

 

First and foremost, it is important to do exercises that don’t irritate the point of injury. Working through the pain will only result in prolonging the injury. Many athletes have difficulty with this concept but you can still stay in shape while recovering. Cross training (for example, biking if your injury is from running) is a good option for most as it allows your body to still stay fit regardless of the joint or muscle that is currently immobilized.

It is key during this time to maintain the right attitude. Being injured is no fun but negativity will only make it worse. Staying optimistic will help the recovery process sail smoothly.

Of course, before taking any of these tips, consult your physician for his/her approval.

Simply, if you have an ankle, foot , knee, or leg injury, exercise your upper body. There are an abundance of exercises that isolate and target this area, you just have to experiment with what works best for you. If your injury is upper body, exercise your legs. Injured in your arm? Do abs! The possibilities are endless. Just make sure you take precaution and are safe.

Trying to get cardio in is quite a struggle as it varies from person to person. If you have shin splints from running, for example, swimming may be a good option. But if you have a knee or shoulder injury, this may irritate it. That’s why it is important to ask your doctor before doing any exercises.

Don’t forget to follow your physicians recommendations for recovery whether it may be icing, heating, or attending physical therapy.

When returning to regular exercise after an injury, it is essential to start off slow. You may feel silly going for a 5-10 minute run when you used to run 6x that, but your body will thank you for giving it time to rebuild itself. You have to work your way back to your fitness level–be patient! Taking it slow will not only allow your muscles to gain strength again, but will prevent further injuries!

For example, if you pulled a muscle while bench pressing, don’t go back lifting the same weight once you fully recover. Recovery time is different for each person, but once your physician verifies you are fully healed and can exercise again, take precautions at the gym. Start off benching the lightest weight possible–even if it’s just the bar! Each time you exercise, increase the weight about 10% until you reach the fitness level you were at before the injury. However, if lifting too much weight was the cause of the injury, take it easy and don’t attempt that weight until you have had more training.

Best of Luck!

 

swimming

 

 

Stay tuned for our next post on how to prevent injuries!

10 Body Weight Exercises to Improve Your Workout ::

Posted in ab workout, abdominal exercises, back excercises, back routine, Bodyweight exercises, core muscles, core strengthening, core training, exercise and health, exercise benefits, fitness routine, fitness routines, fitness tips, Fitness Trends, hamstings, hamstring exercise, pull-ups, push-ups, quads, working out, workout, workout guide, workout tips | Posted on 26 March 2015

More and more people have been recognizing the benefits of body weight exercise. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine ranked it as the number one fitness trend for 2015. Although it topped the list of trends, it’s certainly not new and it will continue to have a place in the fitness world. Not only is it an effective form of training, it’s easy to do anywhere.

Here is a guide to 10 of the best body weight exercises that will work the entire body at once or focus specifically on your core and upper or lower body.

Squat – This exercise is perfect for working muscles in the lower body including glutes, quads, and hamstrings. It even works the core. Pull your shoulders back and engage your abs while you lower your body as if you were sitting in a chair. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, raise yourself back to the starting position.

Lunge – This is another triple threat move for working the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. With your upper body straight and your shoulders back, step forward with one leg. Lower your hips until both knees form a 90-degree angle, without allowing the back knee to touch the floor. Push back to the starting position while keeping the weight in your heels.

Push-up – This will work your upper body and abs and strengthen your chest and back. Tuck your elbows to your sides and align your wrists with your shoulders for the best form. Lower your hips and chest as much as possible without touching the floor.

Pull-up – This is one of the best upper body exercises that will work your shoulders, back, and arms, while strengthening your core. There are a variety of ways to do it, but one of the most popular is to keep your palms facing away from you on the bar as you raise yourself up so that your chin is higher than the bar. You’ll know you’re ready for more reps when you are able to lower yourself with control. If you’re unable to do this exercise now, almost anyone can get it with practice, so don’t give up.

Burpee – This is an excellent total body exercise that will keep you conditioned. It combines squats and push-ups from earlier on in the list. Start in a standing position and move into a squat with your hands on the floor in front of you. You then transition into a push-up as you kick your feet back and lower your body. Tuck your feet back under you and then jump up to start all over again. They may sound a bit complicated but they are definitely worth it.

Bicycle – This can be a more effective way of focusing on the core than the standard crunch. While lying on the floor with your hands behind your head, bring your knees towards your chest. Move your left elbow to your right knee as you straighten the other leg. Continue to alternate sides in a pedaling motion.

Mountain Climber – This is another move to work out your entire body at one time. Start by getting down on your hands and knees. Bring one leg forward under your chest as you straighten the other leg. Jump to switch leg positions while tightening your core and keeping your hands to the ground.

Plank – This move will also give you a full body workout. Lie face down on the floor, supported by your forearms and clasped hands. Your legs should be extended behind you as you rise up on your toes. Engage your core and tighten your back to hold your position for about 30 – 60 seconds. If you’re more advanced, you can extend your arms straight out beneath you instead of resting on your forearms.

Bridge – This will work the hamstrings and glutes, while strengthening the inner thighs, abs, and back. Lie on your back with your arms at your side and knees bent while hip-width apart. Keeping your head, shoulders, arms, and feet to the floor, raise your hips and then slowly lower them down.

Side Lunge – It’s a lower body move that’s friendlier on the knees and challenges your body in more than just a forward and backward motion. While standing with your feet together, take a step to the side and lunge toward the floor while keeping the other leg straight. Push back up to return to your starting position.

While all these moves can be done with little or no equipment, exercise mats can provide added comfort, especially with the ones that you have you working on the floor. All you need is your own body weight but weighted fitness balls, kettlebells or dumbbells can be added to most of these moves to take them to the next level and continue to challenge you. Plus, there are numerous variations to keep your routine fresh!

Debunking 4 Muscle Myths ::

Posted in muscle building, myths, strength gains, strength training, weight lifting, weight training | Posted on 26 February 2015

If you’re looking to build muscle, gain strength or simply get the most out of your workout, you don’t want popular misconceptions holding you back. So, we’re tackling four muscle myths to give you the information needed to make the appropriate adjustments to your routine to help you achieve greater success.

 

Myth #1 – Stretching before you exercise will prevent injuries.

 

Reality – Stretching has its benefits, but many people often confuse warming up with stretching. The key to preventing injuries is with a warm up period. It gives your muscles the chance to prepare for your workout by gradually increasing the bloodflow. It’s a valuable step that you won’t want to skip. Instead of starting out with stretches, save them for after you’re already warmed up.

 

Myth #2 – Sore muscles mean you should forget your workout that day.

 

Reality – Sore muscles can be a good indicator that you need a break but it doesn’t always signal that. It depends on the type of pain. If it’s impacting your full range of motion or it feels sore to the touch, then a recovery day is best. Otherwise, light activity at the gym can be tolerated, and even help alleviate some of the soreness by stimulating the bloodflow through the muscles and encouraging the healing process.

 

Myth #3 Free weights are all you need.

 

Reality – Machines are just as valuable. They can isolate muscles when recovering from an injury. They also help beginners build up the strength needed to perform exercises with free weights. They even provide novice lifters with similar results that machines yield. It’s not until a lifter becomes more advanced that free weights should receive more attention. While free weights are better for gaining muscle mass, machines still have their place, especially with those who are just starting to lift.

 

Myth #4 – Slow lifting produces better results.

 

Reality – Slow lifting will only prolong your workouts. The speed of the up phase does not need to be as slow as some believe. Lifting the weights can be done fairly rapid, while it’s more important to go slow with the down phase. In addition, lifting with focus and control is what really matters in gaining strength and preventing injuries.

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Benefits of Agility Training ::

Posted in agility training, athletes, athletic performance, fitness challenge, fitness drills, injury prevention, SARQ | Posted on 19 February 2015

Not that long ago, top athletes were the only people who were concerned with agility training. It’s been an effective way of improving athletic performance. However, it also provides numerous benefits for non-athletes. Personal trainers and group fitness classes have started to incorporate this style of training in order to create different experiences for their clients.

But what exactly is agility? It involves possessing sufficient strength, power, balance, and control to move and change direction or body position. A tennis player, for example, displays agility every time they have to stop quickly, turn or get a burst of speed to run across the court. Agility is a requirement for any sport, but it’s also necessary for daily living.

One of the benefits is that it improves coordination and body awareness. This can come in handy for maintaining balance or walking on uneven surfaces. Everyday tasks, such as handling children or working in the yard, become easier with increased agility. Other benefits include aiding in injury prevention, increasing blood flow throughout the body, and developing the mind-body connection to increase focus.

Adding agility exercises to your fitness plan is an excellent way to enjoy the benefits and spice up a routine that may be growing old. Cone drills, hurdle drills, or the use of an agility ladder are several options for your training.

So, the next time you hear someone talking about these activities, you don’t have to think they’re just for athletes. They’re great for almost anyone, so why not give them a try? Our speed, agility, and conditioning section has everything you need to get started!

 

Small Changes That Make a Big Difference in Your Exercise Routine ::

Posted in bodybuilding, exercise, fitness, fitness routine, healthy living, strength training, weight training, weightlifting, working out, workout | Posted on 21 January 2015

Tired of not seeing the desired results from your current workout routine? Making some small tweaks to certain exercises will make all the difference!

1. Squats

Squats are very simple in practice but are often done so with many errors; the most common is simply not going low enough! You must squat all the way down to the ground to achieve maximum results. Squats are great as they not only work multiple muscle groups at once, but boost your heart rate and improve balance. Squating as low as possible requires greater glute activation and gives you that round curved backside. Additionally, squats are a very intensive exercise; therefore, it is crucial they are performed with good form. That means standing shoulder-width apart from heel to heel, toes out 30 degrees, and squating pushing your knees out and hips back. Practice makes perfect!

 

2. Abdominal Crunches

Being the most common core exercise, crunches are most often performed incorrectly. Traditionally this exercise was composed of simply moving the stomach from the ground to one’s knees repeatedly. First off, you should only go up to about a 45 degree angle, any further than that and you are resting your core. To get the most out of this exercise, you want your abs constantly working. You need to engage your core by squeezing your abs and staying focused. You should never put your hands on the back of your head as it strains your neck. Instead, but your hands out to the sides or across your chest. That being said, do not swing yourself up during this exercise. It is important to make your abs do all the work. Remember it is quality not the speed in which you complete this.

 

3. Push-Ups

Lastly, the basic push-up. Just like the squats, it is important not to cut this exercise short. Your chest should be just inches from touching the ground to gain maximum muscular strength. Also arm placement is very important yet commonly overlooked. Your arms should be directly under your shoulder blades, not placed out by your head. Push-ups, like sit-ups, should be performed slowly and consciously. Lower down for three counts, pause at the bottom for one count, and slowly press up for two counts. Going fast will just put excess stress on your shoulder and elbow joints from bouncing up and down. Also consider breathing out as you go down and inhaling as you push up.

 

 

 

 

Why You Should be Doing Yoga ::

Posted in exercise, fitness, fitness routine, healthy living, strength training, working out, workout | Posted on 15 January 2015

Many often overlook Yoga when trying to put together a fitness program. Practicing Yoga has many benefits and can be done almost anywhere! The only equipment it requires is a yoga mat.

Some benefits from Yoga include:

  • Increased flexibility.
  • Increased muscle strength and tone.
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality.
  • The maintenance of a balanced metabolism.
  • Weight reduction.
  • Cardio and circulatory health.
  • Improved athletic performance.
  • Protection from injury.

Try attending a local yoga class or follow a video online from home! Yoga can be done in a variety ways–some practice relaxing poses while others make it more challenging by doing “hot yoga”. Whichever works for you, practicing Yoga is a great way to relieve stress and switch up your everyday fitness routine! 

Try these other products to enhance your yoga session:

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