Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Walking Lunges - A Great Exercise

This blog entry will look into an exercise known as walking lunges. It will identify what muscles are worked with the exercise, how to do walking lunges and the benefits of including them in our workout routine.

What are Walking Lunges?

Walking lunges are an exercise that can be performed with or without weights and they exercise our glutes, hamstrings and quads.

How to perform Walking Lunges

Walking lunges are a simple exercise to perform and they are super beneficial to our body. We can either perform this exercise with a dumbbell in each hand, or we can put our hands on our waist – whatever we feel comfortable at. To begin, we stand upright, with our feet together. We then take a step forward with one foot, lowering our hips to the floor and bending both our knees. We then push from the other foot back to the starting position for one rep.

Benefits of walking lunges

There are a number of benefits associated with performing walking lunges as part of our workouts.

First of all, walking lunges work a variety of muscles all in one go, which is a great thing! Basically, our complete lower body will get a workout if we perform walking lunges, particularly the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.

Secondly, we can perform them anywhere! The fact that they are so convenient is beneficial as there is no excuse to not include them a few times a week. We may look strange doing them down the street though.

Walking lunges are also fantastic because not only can they be considered a cardio-vascular exercise, they can also help to build and develop muscle as well.

Finally, walking lunges promote mobility, strength and flexibility in the joints. 

So, walking lunges are a fantastic exercise for us to include in our workouts. The exercise works the majority of the lower body and can help to keep us fit. Get them in your workout!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Improving Our Fitness

This blog entry will look into some tips for improving our fitness. We all want to be as fit and healthy as we can be (right?) and these tips will help us to achieve this. This list was adapted from an article in Men's Health.

Tips to Improve Fitness

1) Increase the intensity - this is a great tip, especially if we are short on time. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a fantastic style of exercise that can wield fantastic results, and can be done in a shorter amount of time.

2) Get a pet - ok, maybe not. However, dog owners are more likely to get the exercise they need. We can easily get out to take our dog for a nice long walk, we were going to walk them anyway.

3) Keep motivated - whatever it takes. It is vitally important to stay motivated to get the body and fitness level that we want. Find whatever it is that inspires us to keep up the interest and keep us achieving our goals.

4) Walk - walking is an easy exercise to do and it is great for our body. There is no reason for us not to get out walking, even if it just for a half hour on our lunch break.

Above are four simple tips to help to improve our fitness. Of course it is vitally important that we couple regular exercise with a good diet to get the best results.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Yo-Yo (Bleep) Tests

Yo-Yo Tests

The yo-yo test, also referred to as; yo-yo intermittent recovery tests, beep/bleep tests, and shuttle runs, is a test designed to examine the endurance and aerobic power of athletes in regards to running. These tests can be used by both men and women alike and are very simple to perform.

How To Set Up Yo-Yo Tests

The basics of yo-yo tests is simple. First of all, a CD (or other recording) is required for these tests, but these are readily available. The CD contains a series of beeps, and the gap between this beeps decreases as the recording goes on. The second part of the set up involves setting up two markers, 20 metres apart. The test is now set up.

The Test

The basic idea of the test is to run from one marker to the other, arriving at the same time as the beep. We then turn around and run to the other marker. This continues, from one marker to the other until the test is over. As the gap between the beeps gets shorter as we progress, the difficulty increases. If we fail to make it to the marker before the beep, we lose a life. We get two lives so when we fail to reach the marker twice the test is over. We measure our total time for our final result.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Steps To Take When We Plateau

The Plateau

When we get into our training routine we begin to see the results we want. However, there comes a point in most, if not all, of our training programmes where we hit a wall, and the results seem to disappear – the dreaded plateau.

Can we combat the plateau?

Yes! Fortunately, there are a number of ideas that can be implemented in order to battle past our plateau and to help us to continue to see the results that we want.

Combating a Plateau

Higher reps – if we have been training with 6-8 reps while lifting weights, we should try increasing this number to 10-15 reps.

Increase sets – in a similar vain to increasing the number of reps per set, we can also change our workout by increase the number of sets that we do. Instead of completing 3 sets of 8 reps, we can try increasing to 5 sets of 8 reps.

Alter the exercises – there are many different exercises that work the same muscles. Therefore, there is nothing to say that we can mix things up by doing different exercises to what we are used to. Instead of doing pull ups, change to chins ups, for example. Something as simple as a hand grip/position can make a difference!

Rest – sometimes we overwork ourselves and we just need a little rest. We should try taking a couple of days off from exercising before getting back on it!

To conclude

Most of us will reach a point in our training program where we are not seeing the desired results, we plateau. This is not something that we need to worry about and there are number of things that we can try to get through this, for example increasing the number of repetitions we do. Essentially we must change something in our workout, though, and we will get through the plateau.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

High-Intensity Interval Training

HIIT Training

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that mixes the intensity of a workout. A typical HIIT workout will include warming up, moderate intensity exercise, high intensity exercise and a cool down. The number of times each of these sections is performed will vary between workouts. This type of training is generally associated with cardio exercises such as cycling and running.

Benefits of HIIT Training

There are a number of benefits associated with HIIT training.

First of all, HIIT can be used to save time. As it requires short bursts of high activity, the length of the workout is cut short. This means that HIIT can be used when we are short of time to still gain great results. Essentially, we can still get the same results as a longer, moderate workout in less time.

Secondly, HIIT has been shown to help to increase our resting metabolic rate, which basically means that we will be burning more calories during rest. If we are aiming to lose the flab then HIIT is certainly a method of training that can be used.

Another benefit of HIIT appears to be the suggestion that we will not lose muscle mass from exercising. When trying to lose weight, it is suggested that standard cardio exercise can contribute to the loss of muscle mass.

HIIT is a very challenging method of exercise. This is good because it can encourage us to workout when we have challenges to test ourselves.

There are, of course, other benefits associated with HIIT training, but these are some of the main advantages.

Example Workout

Here is an example (adapted from the Men’s Health Website) of HIIT training on an exercise bike.

1)      Cycle at a low resistance, low intensity for a brief warm-up of 3 minutes
2)      At this point we need to increase to a higher intensity for 30 seconds
3)      Again, increase the intensity of the workout and aim to increase every 30 seconds until we can no longer hold the intensity level
4)      After this we should rest for 3 minutes
5)      Repeat the workout for the desired number of times (1 for beginners, 3 for advanced)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Does Slow Lifting Build Huge Muscles?

This blog entry will be a short look into answering the question of whether lifting weights at a slow rate helps to build up huge muscle mass.

Recent studies have shown that slow lifting leads to a long workout - and that is about it! The study, from the University of Alabama had two sets of people completing 29 minute workouts. The first group exercised using a 5 second up phase followed by a 10 second down phase - essentially meaning that, during pull ups for example, they pulled up over 5 seconds and returned to the starting position over 10 seconds. The other group used a more traditional 1 second up, one second down method of exercising.

The results from the experiment showed better performance from the group that performed faster repititions. They burned 71% more calories than the slower group and ended up lifting 250% more weight than the slower group too.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Great Test

This blog entry will look at a great test to see where we are at with our push-ups (press-ups if you prefer). First of all, we will quickly look at what the benefits of push-ups are.

Benefits of Push-ups

There are a number of benefits to doing push-ups on a regular basis. First of all they work a number of different muscles. The main muscle groups worked doing push-ups are the triceps, the chest and the shoulders. Secondly, regular push-upping(!) can increase our general fitness levels. Another great advantage to doing push-ups is that they are very convenient. No weights are needed so we can complete push-ups everywhere and anywhere, meaning there are no excuses to not be exercising. Push-ups can also be used to increase our strength. There are a number of other benefits associated with doing the exercise too!

The Test of the Push-ups

This test is designed to see how good we are at push-ups and it is very easy to do. All we need is a stop watch/timer. The idea is to complete as many push-ups as possible in 3 minutes. We can stop as many times as we like during this 3 minutes to rest, but we must keep the timer going. 55 push-ups is considered average and we need to be hitting 70+ to be considered good!

Completing this test can be beneficial in a couple of ways. First of all it allows us to have a 'rating' of sorts as to how good we are at push-ups. More importantly, it allows us to develop targets so that we can improve and develop with our push-ups. For example, if we complete this test 3 times a week, it gives us targets and goals to aim for each time, in order to try and improve upon our last result.

Post a comment letting me know what your record is!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Our Arms

The Arms

Today’s blog entry will look into the arms. It will examine the different muscles in the arms and see how they work and what they do for us. Find out all about the arms here!

What we want

Many of us want bigger arms. The rest of us want toned arms. Either way, exercise is the key to achieving these goals. However, it is important to know all about the arms to know how to develop them and achieve the goal that we want to achieve.

Our arms consist of various different muscles; the biceps, the triceps and the forearm muscles.

The Biceps

The biceps are the muscles found at the front of the upper arm and are responsible for moving the arm at the elbow joint. The biceps work in tandem with our rear shoulder and middle back muscles on exercises such as pull ups, but work alone for curls. Working the bicep muscles will give us strength and power for various daily lifting and climbing.

The Triceps

The triceps are three-headed muscles that are located at the back of our upper arms. The triceps are responsible for straightening the arms. There are many different exercises that target the triceps; the bench press, triceps extension, press-ups and the shoulder press are all exercises that will work our triceps.

The Forearm Muscles

The forearm muscles consist of the groups of small muscles that are found in our lower arm. The flexors, the extensors and the larger brachiordialis are all found in the forearms. These muscles are worked with many of the biceps exercises, such as pull ups and bicep curls.