Good Home Exercises

Good home exercises are easy to do if you have appropriate equipment and space – which is surprising little (for ideas on home gym equipment and space requirements see the blog entry for Good home gym equipment ideas).Good home exercises begin with your current fitness level, your fitness goals, the equipment you have, and the space you’ll be using. Check out my Youtube Channel for more ideas on home workout exercises. 

Equipment needs will be determined by:

Ability to overload your current fitness level

Storage

Space need

Cost

Possible home exercises will be determined by the equipment you’ve got. Here are some ideas to get you started on your home workout.

Use your body weight – push ups, pull ups, and squats effectively target the large muscle groups and may be challenging enough on their own. See the blog posts on how to do each of them for directions and good lower body exercises.

The following exercises are great home exercises and can be adapted to equipment (including soup cans and filled gallon jugs, stairs in your home, furniture/benches, etc) you’ve got on hand:

Chest:
Chest press
Chest Fly

Back:
Back Row – narrow & wide
Lat Pulldown – using rubber tubing
Lat Overhead Pull – using Dumbbells or other external weight

Shoulders:
Lateral / Frontal Raises
Overhead Press – narrow, wide, and reverse grip

Biceps:
Hammer Curl
Front Curl
Reverse Grip Curls
Curls in any form!

Triceps:
Overhead triceps press
French Press (also known as skull crushers)
Triceps extensions
Triceps pressdown using rubber tubing
Dips

Abs:
Crunches of any variety
Reverse crunch
Bicycle

Lower Back:
Supermans
Torso Lift
Lower Body Lift

Don’t forget to stretch when you are through – flexibility training keeps you strong throughout the entire movement range of each muscle and joint!

Good Equipment for A Home Gym

Are you one of those people who just can’t seem to get to the gym – ever? You have great intentions and are ready to commit but for multiple reasons you just don’t seem to have the time to get down the road to the gym. If you are motivated a home workout can be just as effective and may be more rewarding than a visit to the health club.

Good Equipment for Your Home Gym

Setting up a home gym requires a little planning and can be very affordable. First you’ll want to evaluate your current fitness level and your fitness goals and then make sure to have equipment on hand to help you progress from where you are to where you want to go. Equipment to consider:

Dumbbells / hand weights – sizes will depend on your current level and goals. Typically sold price/pound so keep that in mind when deciding how much you really need

Rubber tubbing – most brands yellow is easiest & blue or black hardest. Check brands for resistance weight of their color matrix to be sure. Heavy lifters – you can purchase braided tubing for increased resistance – you’ll be surprised at the amount of difficulty it creates.

A bench – is using a home decoration/functional bench make sure it is stable enough to be safe and offer you full range of motion during your exercises.

Step – stairs in your home work just fine if you’ll use them

Medicine balls and/or kettle bells – easier to hold for some exercises than dumbbells but not a necessity to have both DB and medicine balls/kettle bells. BOSU or other stability challenging device – air steps, discs, dots, foam rollers, etc

Good home exercises are as plentiful as those in the gym free weight area provided you are creative when purchasing your equipment and finding space. You’ll want to make sure you have enough space to complete the exercises through full range of motion without destroying your home – it actually takes very little space if you can be creative with your movements – but stay safe. Consider home much furniture you’ll realistically move around daily. Many drop their home workouts because it is too much work in the space they have designated and remember – the best workout is one you will do!

Good Leg Exercises

Getting bored of the same ole’ leg routine? Or maybe you are ready to branch away from the machines. All of us could use new ideas when it comes to creating our workouts. Here are some good leg exercises and options to keep you interested in your lower body workout.Good leg exercises depend on being able to overload your lower body effectively. Here are some exercises to get started with.

Things to remember:

  • Good form and small movement is better than big movement with bad form
  • Keep your knees over your ankles during squats and lunges and avoid shooting your knee out over the front of your toes
  • Think toes, knees, and nose in the same direction
  • Use support until you are confident balancing while performing the exercise.Try out these exercises – they can be done with little or no weight, using rubber tubing, dumbbells, steps, benches, cable machine, selectorized machine.Check out my youtube channel for exercise ideas for your home gym.

 

Total Lower Body:
Squats
Lunges  – How to do a Walking Lunge

 

Quadriceps: Check out quad ideas on my youtube channel: Quad Exercises

 

Supine (lie on your back) Leg Extensions – Extend your knee as you squeeze the top of your thigh (quadriceps). Try this with the leg on the floor, at 45 degrees at the hip, and at 90 degrees, and anywhere in between.

Seated or standing Leg/Knee Extensions – same as above but sitting down or standing up.

Hamstrings: Check out hamstring ideas on my youtube channel: Hamstring Exercises
Leg Curls – lying (prone – face down), seated – move to the edge of your chair so the working leg can move on the side of the chair, or standing

Ball Leg Curls – lying supine place one or both feet on an exercise ball. Lift glutes & curl feet toward glutes as you press into the ball. Combing a glute lift increases intensity and adds the work for the butt as well.

Adductors or Inner Thigh:
Inner Thigh Squeeze – can be done side lying, standing, or seated. Overload with weight at the ankle or above the knee. Play with the hip angle. You only have to bring leg just past the mid-line. Focus on keeping good total body alignment throughout.

Ball Inner Thigh Squeeze – Laying supine, place stability ball between the legs at ankles, squeeze, hold for a few seconds, release and repeat. Keep tension on the ball or it’ll fall on you.

Abductors or Outer Thigh:
Outer Thigh Lift – side lying, standing, or seated. See Inner thigh squeeze above for overload. Lift from neutral (leg placement when standing with feet hip distance apart or closer) out to the side 35 degrees.

Glutes / Butt Exercises:
Hip Lift – lie supine, feet hip distance apart flat on the floor. Squeeze butt up as you lift your hips off the floor. Overload with weight over your pelvis.

Leg/Hip Extensions – prone or standing. Keeping the back neutral lift the leg from the hip. Squeeze your glutes.

Calfs or back of lower leg:
Calf raises – seated or standing – rise up on your toes, return to flat footed. Overload with weight on your knees (seated) or shoulders (standing).

Shins or front of lower leg:
Toe Taps – standing or seated tap your toes. You can also tie a rubber tube around an anchored pole, place the tubbing around your toes and point and flex your foot.

Enjoy & Don’t Forget To Stretch!

3 Things To Consider When Choosing A Workout Partner

Here are 3 things to consider when choosing your workout partner. As wonderful as it is to have a person to workout with, it can be disastrous if you are not careful about who you pick to groove with.

1st – make sure you are clear about your goals. What do you want to accomplish, how long do you have to do it, and what are you going to do to reach your goals? Be clear about your outcome, in the end what will you accomplish? Although, you do not have to have the same goal as your partner, it helps to have a clear vision so when you do share your activities each of you are still working toward your new lifestyles. Your workout pal needs to be able to support you and you need to support them. If you feel you would not be able to honestly help each other its best to find another partner. During this time of change a friend who is not genuinely supportive is only going to make the journey harder.

Free Athlete and Fitness Training
2nd – make sure you choose someone who enjoys the same activity as you do. When choosing activities you’ll need to plan so you are able to reach your goals. You will not succeed if you need to walk fast and your friend wants to walk slow, or maybe just not at your level. Make sure you understand that there will be some compromise, however activity compromise should not compromise your end result. You may need to play a sport you don’t care much for, or you may need to get creative so you are each working at correct levels while working out together.

3rd – decide a schedule and stick to it. You have made an important commitment to your friend, and without you, your friend may not reach their fitness goals. On the other hand you have made an important commitment yourself and you are the only one responsible for your choices, your activities, and the outcome. Once you have made the commitment to workout with someone you must show up.

A workout buddy can be a great way to make sure you do your workouts, bond with friends, and stay accountable to someone other than yourself – if you treat them right.

Like this post? Try this one: To Join or Not Join the Health Club

photo credit: google images

Fitness For Golf

Spring is here and the links are calling. How many of you are ready to begin your golf season this year? How many of you have been training for golf this year? “What?!”, you say, “golf is enough exercise on its own, I don’t need to train.” I beg to differ. I hear many golfers claim they get great exercise on the course. They walk, a lot, they swing, and they move for the better part of the day, however moving is not always enough, one has to make sure the intensity is enough. I will also suggest that you train. Why? Golfing is a taxing activity. You ask your body to move with power, flexibility, strength, and stamina. If your game is important to you, ok, if you just do not want to get injured and spend the season with a pulled muscle, an ache, a pain, etc you should train prior to and during golf season. You think Tiger did it all with skill?

When training for golf begin by looking at where you are weak. How is your flexibility? Are you strong in certain movements and not in others? One of the great things about golf is you utilize many different muscle groups, in a variety of positions, and over a long period of time, so you’ll want these groups to be ready. How is your cardiovascular health? Are you able to walk the course for the entire game and still play decent? Many do ok through the first nine, only to lose steam on the back; affecting the ability to hit the ball well.

Strength training, endurance training, and flexibility are all important parts of golf fitness training. According to, golf-trainer.com, “Your golf workouts should be 50/50 in regards to strength and flexibility. If you put too much emphasis on flexibility, you’ll have loose, but very weak muscles that are susceptible to injury. If you put a higher priority on strength, you will most likely lose some range of motion, which will rob you of power and distance.” It is important to balance out flexibility training with strength training to ensure you have the strength to complete a solid movement (swing) and the range of motion to follow through, netting you a longer drive. Fitnessforgolf.com had this to say, “The most important aspects of the golf swing and the game, in general, all revolve around the building of a strong and solid foundation for the body, the mind and the basics of an athletic swing.” Your power comes from your core, which is why functional training is a must for golfers. Sitting on a machine lifting repetitive weight is great, however golf is dynamic, and one must train for it dynamically. Exercise is much more effective if we approach it based on the end result. Golf training should be done utilizing the muscles, movements, and on your feet similar to the game itself. Fitnessforgolf.com goes onto say, The seven S’s Stamina, Stability, Strength, Supple, Spirit, Sequence, and Skill should dominate your direction when deciding a golf fitness program.

Core training just means we are going to train the torso or core of the body. All large movement begins here, including walking, and this is the power house for rotation. What gets the ball down the course? The strength and speed of your rotation. Again, golf-trainer.com states the following: A core golf workout will produce more power in your golf swing when it focuses on rotational movements with resistance. The primary movement in the golf swing is rotating your upper body back, then rotating it through to the finish. That is why it is critical you implement exercises that involve rotational strength and flexibility. When putting together your exercises for golfers program, take a look at the body position required to make a mechanically sound swing. Once you realize this dynamic and very unique position, you can do golf exercises specific to this position.

Things to remember.

  • Do the majority of your golf exercises on your feet.
  • Do them in your golf posture if at all possible.
  • Keep your knees flexed, just like your golf swing.
  • Do as many rotational exercises as possible.
  • Make sure to do the follow through side of the swing.

Golfing exercises should be done with high repetitions. It is important to also train for muscular endurance. Endurance is important on the golf course. You are asking that your body perform well for a long period of time.

To end, Make sure to stay hydrated and fed if you want to perform at peak performance, and hydrating with too many 12oz-ers won’t, no matter what your friends say, improve your game. So if you really want to hit the course this year and play the best golf ever, you need to train for your season. Who knows, maybe your foot wedge won’t be out this season at all – no guarantees, though!

Train for Your Game – Softball Workouts.

Smell the summer air, what goes great with summer? Softball! No matter what your summer sport, it is better to train prior to your game to maximize your strength, endurance, and skills.
Softball, like golf draws much of its power from rotational force. As you swing the bat your core strength determines how powerful you hit the ball. Once the ball is in flight, your body must use explosive speed to get you on base, ok, for some we wouldn’t put explosive and speed in the same sentence, but that is the idea.

Any softball workout program is enhanced by basic strength training.When we begin training we need to develop conditioning strength before beginning more specific activity. Once you’ve cleared your plans with your health care provider, start with basic strength training. Choose one to two exercises per muscle group and lift weight heavy enough to fatigue your muscles in eight to ten repetitions. Once you’ve built a base of strength you can begin adding activities specific to softball.

Core is important in this sport. All your power comes from your middle. You want to train these muscle groups in tri-planar movement, with overload. Translation: Move in many different directions and use something to add weight to your movement. It is important to have significant strength through the core before you add external weight, which is why you want base strength. Try using something to create an unstable surface to work from. For example: Using your bat begin with both feet flat on the floor, legs a little further than hip distance apart, knees bent. Begin gently swinging your bat side to side to warm up rotational muscles Next, try the same movement on a BOSU ball (a piece of equipment used for training on an unstable surface.), Finally, take the same movement and add weight to the bat. Notice the difference between the different movements. What happens to the abdominal muscles when asked to work on an unstable surface? Remember, you must be able to maintain good form. Once you can no longer maintain good form you know you’ve reach your limit and you must begin to build strength and endurance in those muscle groups before going further into the movement pattern.

To train the core in multi-planar movement get creative. What types of movement mimics the skills you will need during your game? Begin with these movements and then build on them. Try doing the movements on one foot or while shifting your weight from side to side. Keep the abdominals tight to protect your back and notice how these muscle groups work together. Think of ways to engage these muscle groups as a unit to effectively build your power.

Most of us not only need to hit the ball but we need to be able to get on base. Running the bases takes explosive speed. We go from standing still to moving quickly and then we stop as quickly as we started. This type of movement requires some training to keep injury at bay. Once, again a baseline of strength is necessary before tackling too much, and talk with your health care professional before beginning any exercise program. Set up a sprint course during your workout. Begin by walking for one to two minutes, warm-up and move with purpose; get your heart rate going, then all out run for thirty to forty-five seconds, recover while walking and then repeat. Parking lots are good for sprint courses; find a parking lot with empty slots and use the lines as your markers. You can develop different workouts to keep you interested. It is also important to cross train. Using other types of cardiovascular workouts (i.e. Different cardio machines, movements, or workout formats) use the sprint model to challenge your explosive speed. Cross training will keep you from over-training and you’ll be less likely to get injured or develop your speed without balance to your body.

Flexibility is incredibly important in this sport. If you work to develop strength without training flexibility you’ll end up with increased strength, but limited movement patterns due to limited range of motion. This sets you up for injury and you will not maximize your new strength or skills.

When training for softball this summer, think about the movements you do during your game, then mimic those during your workouts while adding challenge, by increasing your speed or weight while performing the movement. After developing your base strength through general strength training, pay extra attention to your core and get creative with movements in many directions, on unstable surfaces,followed with stretching after every workout. Swing batter, batter, Swing!

Workout While You Walk!

Ok, now that we’ve covered basics of walking over the last few blog posts – lets look at adding adventure to our jaunt because lets face it, walking is, well, sometimes it can be boring. You can also add this workout to running, which can be great fun! First,

Take very large steps. Try keeping your speed as you begin taking extra long strides. Do this for ten steps and begin walking as fast asyou can for thirty steps. Repeat 3 times.

· During the third round change the extra long strides into lunges. Keep the knee over the ankle as you move forward, as it will want to shoot out over your toe, which can be too much stress on the joint. Center your weight as you come into the lunge and lower the body over the hips. Do ten lunges on each leg, and begin walking as fast as possible again. Repeat this sequencence.

· Next, add knee raises. As you move forward raise the knee to waist height with each step, do ten then walk as fast as possible for thirty steps. Follow this sequence with an extended kick as you raise the knee. Raise the knee to waist height and then extend the leg from the knee out front. Feel the quadriceps as you extend placing the foot down as far in front as you can. Repeat for ten steps and recover for thirty.

· The next set works the hamstrings. As you walk bring your heels up to the glutes. Knees stay close together as stride decreases working the back of the thigh to raise the feet. Repeat for ten steps recover for thirty.

· Finally, as you walk forward raise the leg out to the side and place the foot down across the mid-line of your body, working the outer and inner thigh respectively. Imagine your body has been cut in half, right vs left, and you need to place your step in the opposite half. So each step will involve bringing the leg out to the side (outer thigh work) and then stepping across the mid-line (inner thigh work).

· Repeat the entire sequence throughout your walk and make sure you are moving fast enough to keep the heart rate up if this counts as your cardio workout.

Sure you’ll look funky, but it will put some spark in your daily walk and add spice to your routine, plus will help add emphasis to the lower body as you move.

Proper Alignment When Walking

Proper alignment is important to the health of your body. As we begin to move in repetitive patterns we can change our posture over time. This may create places where the body experiences pain and soreness, muscle imbalance, or other problems because it is not meant to stand, move, or stay in the altered stance. When you walk – do you alter your posture?

First, Stand tall with your knees over your ankles, hips over your knees, shoulders over your hips, and ears centered over your shoulders. In this position it should feel comfortable to pull in on the abdominals and the lower back should feel supported with the pelvis in a neutral position. I know it sounds like a lot – your homework for the next couple of days is to practice this each time you look in the mirror. My yoga participants will attest to the progress regular practice makes on good posture. Begin to walk forward noticing how the body feels and responds to new alignment. Does this feel better?

Begin your regular stride with good posture and then add big arms. With the arms extended swing them forward and back in rhythm with your steps. As the right foot comes forward swing the left arm forward, and as the left foot moves so does the right hand. See what happens. How does your heart respond? Can you move faster when the arms and legs are both involved with purpose?

Practice walking with good posture and notice if it changes your energy level, the amount of work you have to do, and any other changes. It may be uncomfortable to stand up straight. Know this is normal – you’ve been asking your body to hold or move in another pattern so the muscles are strong in that pattern. Notice when you have automatically switched back to your old movement pattern and readjust attempting to stay with neutral posture as long as possible. Remember, it took time to get to this point – it’ll take time to get back. Happy Walking! Next time – a workout to try during your walk.

How Do YOU Walk?

Today lets talk about walking. In my opinion it is the best time of the year, spring, renewals, rebirth, growth, what a great time to recommit to your health. An added bonus: being outside. This week lets talk about walking, but lets mix it up.

Today we will just get a feel for your stride and how your movement effects your intensity levels. Then we’ll look at alignment and a walking workout in the next two posts. As always, don’t forget to talk with your health care person before you begin a exercise program. Most of us know the basics, put one foot in front of the other and move. Once you have the feet down you can add arms, and we’ve all seen the arm pumpers, man can they move. There is logic behind their wildly swinging arms. The additional movement gets the whole body involved, and what happens when more of your body moves? You heart rate climbs and the workout becomes more difficult.

Many of us walk everyday, but we don’t give it much thought. Today try something different. Begin with your regular stride. Notice how your body moves. How far apart are your feet with each stride? What do your arms do?  Are they swinging? Are they moving opposite your legs? Are they bent?  Are they extended? How does your back feel? What is your breathing like? Have you opened your chest or collapsed it? Where are your shoulders in relation to your hips, and where do your ears line up over your shoulders? As you answer these questions notice if this feels good or not.Today and tomorrow notice how you walk and how changing your stride, speed, arms, etc all effect your body. Next time, we’ll talk about alignment and working with posture while you walk.

It’s All You When It Comes to Being Healthy

People have all sorts of reasons why they can’t exercise more…or should I say excuses?  Working out doesn’t have to break the bank, take tons of time, or cause you to stress more.  Working out is about priorities and putting yourself behind your efforts.

Working out does not have to cost a dime. Many spend quite a bit on poor food choices, and then complain they have no money to spend on health. How much is your cable bill? What’s it doing for your body? What about your trips to the mall, eating out, the bar – how much are your habits costing you? Are they still worth the extra weight, poor sleep, added stress? See below for ideas.

Working out does not have to take much time. Ever sat through an episode of a TV show only to think it was dumb? Why did you waste your time? How about when you sit through one and because it ended you watch the one right after it? Half of many TV programs are commercials, so even if you like the show, you could do some activities during commercials, or better yet, you could do activity through the whole show! There is a half hour of activity and you did not spend any money or have to find any extra time.

Working out does not have to be a huge change. If you start it will snowball. What about working activity into your life? Quit driving around the parking lot looking for the closest spot – there is your extra half hour of time. Park as far away as you can and walk in. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. Walk instead of drive, sometimes it’ll take you less time to walk, than to get in your car, start it up, move it, sit at the stop lights, move through traffic, and find another spot to park. Get wild buy a bike. If you don’t need a parking pass for your car – there is your extra money. (Worried about winter biking, there are many who bike all year long, and I am sure they could help you get started. Not to mention the cool fat tires you’ll get to use.)

It is no one’s responsibility to get you moving. It is no one’s responsibility to make sure you are choosing actions that correspond with your goals, and it is no one’s responsibility to make sure you follow through with your goals – its all you. Make the choice today to be accountable for your actions and in control of your choices and ultimately your health.