Healthy Byte: Sexy Back

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ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

When you’re planning a back workout, you’re probably envisioning the various weights and machines you’ll need to get the job done. From lat pulldowns to dumbbell rows, many back staples will require you to move around some serious poundage—so it’s not a surprise if you’re thinking you have to hit a fully-stocked gym to get that elusive rear pump.

That doesn’t always have to be the case. You can also put your back to work without touching a single dumbbell, barbell, or kettlebell—all you need is your bodyweight. Some equipment like suspension training straps and pullup bars are technically necessary for some of the moves, but the only resistance you’ll work against comes only from you.

Try these 10 bodyweight exercises to put your back to work, sans equipment.

Superman

Superman
  • Lie with your chest down on the floor, reaching your arms straight out in front of you (as if you were Superman mid-flight).
  • Squeeze your glutes and lower back to raise your arms, legs, and the top of your chest off the floor.
  • Hold for a count, then slowly return to the starting position. Don’t drop your arms or legs.

Y Superman

  • Lie with your chest down on the floor, reaching your arms out in front of you to form a ‘Y’ shape.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lower back to raise your arms and the top of your chest off the floor.
  • Hold for a count, then slowly return to the starting position. Don’t drop your arms or legs.

W Superman

  • Lie with your chest down on the floor. Put your palms on the ground on either side of your chest in line with your head.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lower back to raise your arms and the top of your chest off the floor. Be sure to squeeze your upper back so that your arms form what looks like a ‘W’ shape when you lift them.
  • Hold for a count, then slowly return to the starting position. Don’t drop your arms or legs.

T Superman

  • Lie with your chest down on the floor. Extend your arms out on the ground on either side of your chest to form a ‘T’ shape.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lower back to raise your arms and the top of your chest off the floor. Be sure to squeeze your upper back to lift your arms as well.
  • Hold for a count, then slowly return to the starting position. Don’t drop your arms or legs.

Pullup Superman

  • Put your palms on the ground on either side of your chest in line with your head.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lower back to raise your arms and the top of your chest off the floor. Your arms should form a ‘W’ shape.
  • Mimic a pullup motion by extending your arms straight out, then squeezing your back to pull them back to your chest. Extend your arms out again to count 1 rep.
  • After you perform the allotted reps, slowly return to the starting position. Don’t drop your arms or legs.

Dead Stop to Superman

  • Start in a pushup/plank position. Squeeze your glutes and core to keep your spine straight.
  • Bend your elbows to lower your chest down to the ground. This is the stop part of the exercise.
  • Lift your hands off the ground, then extend your arms straight out in front of you, squeezing your back at the top of the movement.
  • Retract your arms back to the starting position, then push yourself back up.

TRX Row

  • Hold both TRX handles in an overhand grip at chest height with your elbows bent.
  • Plant your feet and lean back, extending your arms straight out to hang by the handles.
  • Squeeze your upper back and biceps to pull yourself up to the straps. Pause for a beat at the top.
  • Straighten out your arms to return to the starting position.

Wide Grip Pushup

  • Start in a pushup/plank position, with your hands placed a few extra inches outside of your chest. Squeeze your glutes and core to keep your spine straight.
  • Bend your elbows to drop your chest down to the ground, squeezing your back at the bottom of the movement.
  • Squeeze your chest to push back up to the starting position.

T Pushup

  • Start in a pushup/plank position, with your hands placed a few extra inches outside of your chest. Squeeze your glutes and core to keep your spine straight.
  • Bend your elbows to drop your chest down to the ground, squeezing your back at the bottom of the movement.
  • Squeeze your chest to push yourself back up, and rotate one side of your body up, raising your arm straight up along with it.
  • Pause at the top of the movement, then return to the starting position. Repeat the move on the other side of the body.

Pullup

  • Grab the pullup bar with an overhand (pronated) grip. Make sure your arms are straight.
  • Squeeze your lats and arms to pull yourself straight up, until your chest is at the bar.
  • Straighten your arms to lower yourself down in a controlled motion. Don’t perform another rep until your elbows are straight.

Inverted Row

  • Place a barbell at about hip height on a power rack or Smith machine.
  • Lower yourself under the bar, then grab the bar with an overhand (pronated) grip with your hands at about shoulder width apart.
  • Straighten your arms to hang from the bar. Straighten out your legs for more of a challenge.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades and upper back together to pull your chest up to the bar.
  • Pause at the top position, squeezing your core and glutes to keep your body straight if your legs are fully extended, then straighten your arms to return to the starting position.

Healthy Byte: Invest in a Healthier Dad Bod Three – Four Times a Week for Only 20-Minutes!

Originally Posted HERE

Say you want to lose a little weight. Say you also want to do it fairly quickly, with minimal time commitment. That’s basically the premise behind the library of workouts created by the hugely popular Beachbody brand. With more than $1 billion in sales for their exercise DVDs, the company knows its audience — and how to get them in shape. Among its most sought-after programs: The 21 Day Fix. The premise: In just three weeks, even beginner exercisers can shed inches from his waist while building strength and adding definition to his arms, abs, and legs.

The Beachbody 21 Day Fix includes both a workout and meal plan — basically, a portion-controlled approach to eating where each meal consists of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. Overall daily calories depend on your current weight and estimated energy expenditure. For our purposes, let’s just say you should aim for about 2000 calories a day.

As for the workout, the appealing thing about the Beachbody 21 Day Fix is its super manageable time commitment. Each workout lasts between 20 and 30 minutes, meaning in the amount of time it takes to clear the dinner table and take out the trash, you’ll be done. The moves are a combo of cardio and strength, with an emphasis on getting your heart rate up in short, high-intensity segments.

The workout below is inspired by the Beachbody routine and requires no equipment (just one set of light dumbbells). It also combines upper and lower body sessions into one total body routine. Do this 20-minute workout three to four times a week, for three weeks, to get the results you’re looking for.

Warmup (3 minutes)

  • High Knees
    From standing, bend and raise your right knee in the air, clasping it with both hands and pulling it to your chest before releasing. (Stand tall on your left leg.) Repeat on left side, then right, etc. (30 seconds)
  • Overhead Reach
    Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, raise both arms overhead. Lift right hand as high to the sky as you can, dropping left shoulder to extend the stretch. Repeat on opposite side. (30 seconds)
  • Squats
    From standing, bend knees and sink hips back as if you are about to sit in a chair, bending your elbows and tucking your arms in toward your chest. Return to standing. Repeat. (30 seconds)
  • Toe Touch
    Keeping legs straight but without locking your knees, bend forward and touch your toes. Hold for 10 seconds. Stand. Repeat. (30 seconds)
  • Side Lunge
    Stand with feet wider that shoulder-width apart. Bend right knee and shift weight over to the right side. Pulse for 15 seconds. Stand straight, then shift weight to left side. Pulse 15 seconds. Repeat on both sides. (60 seconds)

Cardio 1 (5 minutes)

  • Skip rope: 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Jumping jacks: 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Skip rope: 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Jumping jacks: 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest

Arms (2 minutes)

  • 3 x 20 pushups, 10 seconds rest between sets

Cardio 2 (5 minutes)

  • Box jumps: 10 jumps in ~ 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Sprint drill: Sprint (or run in place) as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Rest 15 seconds. Repeat.
  • Box jumps: 10 jumps in ~ 60 seconds
    15 seconds rest
  • Burpees: 90 seconds

Legs (3 minutes)

  • Bavarian split squats
    Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand facing away from a bench, right leg bent and raised behind you with your toes resting on the bench surface. Bend your left knee until your thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. Straighten. Note: Do not let your left knee extend beyond your left toe; adjust your distance from the bench to accommodate. Do 10 reps, then switch sides. 3 sets total.
  • Single legs bench sits
    Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your back to a bench. Shift weight to right side and lift your left leg in front of you. Bend right knee and sink back until your butt touches to bench. Immediately straight back up to standing. 10 reps, switch sides. 2 sets.

Abs (2 minutes)

  • 20 situps
  • 20 crunches
  • 60-seconds plank

Healthy Byte: If You Have to Own One Piece of Workout Tool …

TOTALLY check out the video demonstration via link!

Originally Posted HERE

Image result for kettlebell flow
Kettlebell flows, the continuously moving, strung-together routines used to burn fat and build muscle with a single implement, aren’t just useful because they allow you to get a ton of work done quickly and effectively. Flows also make it much easier to target different muscle groups in your body in one go.

Flows encourage full-body work by their very nature. You’ll often have need to move the kettlebell up, down, and around yourself in order to get to the next step in the series, which winds up involving a number of muscle groups.

When Eric Leija (a.k.a. Primal Swoledier) designs a flow, you can expect that there will likely be some lower and upper body combinations at play, like this routine he ran through for the Men’s Health Kettlehell program with fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

The Power Lunge Flow uses unilateral movements, lunges, to work the lower body, then transitions to an upper body exercise, kettlebell halos. Grab your kettlebell and a partner and get ready to get moving.

Lunge Clean to Double-Halo

  • Start in an athletic stance with your kettlebell on the floor in front of you between your legs. Drop your butt and bend your knees (like a deadlift) to reach down and grab the implement with both hands.
  • Raise the kettlebell up into the goblet position, holding the weight in front of your chest. As you do this, lunge backward with one leg. Drive off the ground with your rear foot to step forward into the starting position with the weight on the ground before immediately lunging with the other leg. Return to the starting position with the kettlebell on the ground, keeping your hands on the handles and holding a squat.
  • Move your grip from the top of the kettlebell handle to grasp the sides. While maintaining the squat position, squeeze your biceps to curl the weight up to your chest. Stand straight up. Squeeze your abs and rotate the weight around your head to perform a halo, keeping it close to your body. Once you complete one orbit, change directions to go the other way.

Use the Power Lunge Flow as a finisher on a lower body or shoulder day, or schedule it as a standalone routine on a day you need to bang out a quick workout. Perform reps for 30 seconds and then rest 30 seconds. Repeat for 6 to 8 rounds.

Healthy Byte: A Proper Plank

Originally Posted HERE

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Whether you’re taking a group fitness class or following an exercise DVD at home, it’s a sure bet that you’ll be doing planks at some point during the workout—and there’s a good reason. Planks are the ultimate test of total-body strength—not just your core. That’s why they’re the groundwork for many bodyweight exercises, like push-ups and burpees.

“The plank is one of those jack-of-all-trades exercises you can carry in your back pocket to strengthen not only your core, but also your chest, arms, back, legs, and booty,” explains, Nicole Blades, as NASM-certified trainer at BodyRoc FitLab in Connecticut. “A plank with proper form can help improve your posture, too. The best part is, this dynamic move doesn’t require any equipment. It’s a total bodyweight exercise.”

So what muscles do planks work, exactly?

Whether you’re in a low or high plank, you’re balancing weight on your arms and toes. This targets a wide range of muscles, especially the rectus and transverse abdominis, Blades says. The rectus abdominis are the front muscles in the abdomen that support the muscles of the spine and help keep organs in the abdomen area in place. They’re known as the “six-pack muscles” because they give your abs shape and definition. On the other hand, the transverse abdominis (TVA) muscles are as known as the “corseting muscles” because they cinch the waist and act as core stabilizers that support the low back. In fact, a weak TVA is often the culprit of low-back pain.

When you engage your upper-body muscles, you’re putting less pressure on your core and are able to hold a plank longer. You can further engage your shoulders and back muscles in a plank when you grip the floor more with your fingers and hands. Keeping a neutral spine will also help relieve pressure on your neck and make holding a plank less uncomfortable. But that’s just the upper body! Here’s how a plank works your lower-body, too.

Your core includes your hips and low back

When people think of their core, their tend to think only about their abs, but the powerhouse includes your hips and low back, too. “A solid plank works the quads (front of the thighs), glutes, and calf muscles in your lower half,” Blades says. In fact, your hips play a big role in making your planks stronger. Your hips are connected to your lower abs, aka the lower part of your rectus abdominis, so engaging these muscles will help you hold the position longer with proper form. When you squeeze your hips, you’re also able to brace your core more and keep your low back lifted—something that many fitness newbies tend to overlook.

How to do a proper plank

That said, there are many different ways to achieve the perfect plank, but here’s a step-by-step breakdown on how to do a high plank.
  1. Get into a tabletop position with your shoulders directly over your wrists and hips in line with your knees.
  2. Engaging your abs, shoulders, back, and glutes, extend your legs back to straighten into a plank and hold.
  3. If you can, do the exercise in front of a mirror, to check that your butt isn’t raised. (A common mistake, but your body should be flat as opposed to an upside down-V shape.)

For a modified plank Blades suggests dropping to your knees instead of holding yourself up on your toes. “Get on all fours and walk your hands forward so your body forms a slanted line from your head to knees, like you would in a modified push-up,” Blades ays. To recruit the glutes and hamstrings, keep your feet lifted toward your butt. Once you master this variation, you can work your way up to a forearm plank by placing your forearms on the ground.

Aim to hold a plank for 15 seconds, then work your way up to 30, 45, 60 seconds, and so on. Instead of watching the clock, Blades suggests setting a timer. This way you’re not painstakingly watching the seconds go by. Don’t forget to also use your breath, deeply inhaling and exhaling. By focusing on your breath, you’ll be able to help set your mind at ease throughout the uncomfortableness. Sometimes you have to practice a little mind over matter. As Blades puts it, “If you feel like you’re about to quit, push yourself to stay in plank a few seconds more. You can do it!”

Healthy Byte: Elevating the Push Up

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If you feel standard Push-Ups are too easy, perhaps it’s time for some variation. Hindu Push-Ups are a fantastic option for athletes of all ability levels to obtain the muscular pectorals that are necessary for strength, power and effective posture, movement and stability—all things athletes should be concerned with.

Hindu Push-Ups can be superior to Bench Presses for a few reasons:

  • By being able to manipulate the position of your body, you can create more tension in your chest, a key component for building muscle.
  • Bodyweight exercises are excellent for improving the mind-muscle connection, so you can create greater tension within the target muscle.
  • Because no external weight is involved, most athletes aren’t tempted to do more than they are capable of just to appear stronger or to stroke their ego.

The best way to include Hindu Push-Ups in your programming is to use them as an assistance exercise. Assistance exercises can be used for injury prevention and/or muscle hypertrophy, making them more suited to moderate to high reps (6-12-plus).

Although you can manipulate your body to make this movement more difficult, it isn’t a great option for maximal strength development. Instead, you should perform Hindu Push-Ups after you’ve done a maximal strength-focused movement like the Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press.

To start, perform 3 sets of 6-12 repetitions after you finish your maximal strength exercises for the day. For example, start your workout with Barbell Bench Press for 3 sets of 3 reps. After you finish all sets and reps of the Bench Press, do Hindu Push-Ups for 3 sets of 10 reps.

Programming Push-Ups as a finisher (the last sets of the training session) also works extremely well on upper- and full-body days.

How to Perform Hindu Push-Ups

1) Assume a push-up position with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your core tight and back flat.

Hindu-Push-Up-1

2) Push your torso backward and raise your butt up to move into a pike position so your body forms an inverted V.

Hindu-Push-Up-2

3) Bend your elbows to lower your upper chest to the ground while keeping your butt up. As you lower your chest, drop your butt down so your body is in a straight line when you’re closest to the ground.

Hindu-Push-Up-3

4) Straighten your arms to push your chest up, but allow for a slight arch in your back similar to the yoga Upward Dog position.

 5) From this position, push your torso backward and repeat the sequence beginning at Step 2.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Superhero-fy Your Push Up

Push-ups have got to be my all-time favorite upper-body exercise since they are so effective at targeting your chest and shoulders. There are so many variations to this basic exercise, so here’s another one to add to your routine – the Spider-Man push-up. This move helps define your core, especially your obliques, the muscles on the sides of your torso that cinch your waist and the suit is totally optional.

  • Come into plank position (top of a push-up), with your hands under your shoulders, and your body in one straight line. If you can’t do a push-up this way, just lower your knees to the floor (as shown in the second half of the video).
  • As you bend your elbows out to the side and lower your torso toward the floor, bend your left knee and touch it to your left elbow.
  • As you straighten your arms, come back to plank position with your left foot next to your right. Now lower your torso down and touch your right knee to your right elbow. Then return back to plank position.
  • This counts as one repetition. Complete as many as you can, then stretch out your lower back and shoulders in Child’s Pose for five breaths and then stretch out your pecs by doing Seated Heart Opener for five breaths.

 

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Day 1030

Perfect PU

For anyone who has followed me for awhile knows that I am intrinsically a bit lazy. I don’t particularly hold a fondness for exercise nor do I particularly detest exercise. I nothing exercise in the sense that it is just something I have incorporated into my life in order to stay healthy. It’s kind of like kids and high school. There are those who spring out of bed everyday with a ear-to-ear smile who truly adored high school. There are those who absolutely hated every waking moment of high school. Then there are those of us mucks who endured it because it was a necessary milestone to endure. Fitness to me is just that – a necessity to staying healthy – not a choice.

This is the primary reason that my personal fitness motto is ‘biggest bang for my workout buck!’ (BBWOB) Essentially, I want to do the bare minimum in the least amount of time.  I need an exercise which will build muscle, tone / define, and can be accomplished in as few movements as possible. And let me just toss out a disclaimer that I am not certified personal trainer nor am I any sort of fitness expert. I do however, am a little nerdy and spend hours in researching the latest & most efficient workout trends so that I can always maximize the results with minimum effort. This BBWOB approach is just what has worked for me in not only keeping the near 40lbs off for 2+ years but it has given me body definition I never thought possible. So please keep in mind what works for me may not be the right answer for you.

Now that is out of the way …

When I was transitioning from weight loss to maintaining, I slowly shifted my workout from all cardio to cardio with some form of strength training. Now when I hear strength training, my knee-jerk reaction is to think of traditional weight lifting; which sucks the happiness right out of my soul! Not because I hold any malice inclination towards the activity but because I know enough to comprehend the amount of time required to invest in it (refer to first sentence). I have always found the ‘heavy / serious’ lifting section of any gym to be very intimidating. It just makes me feel absurdly out-of-place, awkward, and reminiscent of being back in junior high school at that very first boy-girl dance. You know the one where all the girls tries to play it cool making small talk on one side of the gym while the boys awkwardly contemplate the distinct possibility of a public ‘no’ on the other? YES – that level of awkwardness. I can’t even tell you why but the minute I step on to the thick rubber mats in the free weight section of any gym I immediately feel like a fish out of water.

Aside from a major case of the inept, for the Ordinary Jane / Joe who is only looking to tone and define, who is not looking to bulk & exponentially increase muscle mass, enter physique/body competitions, or have any aspirations to be a serious weight lifter, the abundant time investment seem to be a bit of an overkill. However, the core concept of working muscle groups was a good one and it inspired me to look for exercises which targets the largest muscle groups in one or two movements.

Enter compound exercises. Compound exercise is defined as “… any exercise that involves the use of more than one major muscle group at a time. Typically, there is one larger muscle group that ends up doing the majority of the work, and then one or more smaller muscle groups that are recruited secondarily” (Source: A Workout Routine). One of the major benefits of many staple compound exercises can be done equipment free also known as bodyweight strength training. The dynamic dual allows me to work multiple muscles at once and no or very little equipment required was a natural win-win for me.

So here is a sample of my typical workout:

  • WHAT: Elliptical in various squat positions
  • DURATION: 30 minutes on high resistance. When the resistance gets too easy I bump it up. Started at Level 2 now I am at Level 6.
  • MUSCLE GROUPS: Quads, Hamstring, Glutes, Calves, Heart (cardio)
  • BBWOB TIP: No Time to Read – This exercise should never be easy enough to leisurely read while on the elliptical. If you can then it’s time to bump up the resistance to the next level!

elip wTip

  • WHAT: Three forms of Push Ups (Tricep, Regular, Wide Arm) 
  • DURATION: As many as I can pump out without falling on my face. Typically I do about 30-65 push ups in total. 
  • MUSCLE GROUPS:  Chest, Shoulders, Back, Bicep, Tricep, Abs 
  • BBWOB TIP: Quality over Quantity – In order to maximize the benefits form matters. For the first few workouts, do push ups long ways of a mirror to check body positioning. Generally in the upright push up position, visually the body, arms and floor should form an almost right angle (See fitness model photo above).

pu wTip

  • WHAT: Three forms of Planks (Regular, High, Arms Up)
  • DURATION: 1 minute hold between each Push Up set
  • MUSCLE GROUPS: Abs, Chest, Shoulders, Upper Back, Bicep, Tricep, Quads, Hamstring, Glutes, Calves
  • BBWOB TIP: Form Matters – Again form is key. In addition to planking in front of a mirror try positioning the hands face down or face up.

  • WHAT: Three forms of Pull Ups (Bicep Curls, Shoulder Width, Wide)
  • DURATION: As many as I can pump out without falling on my face. Typically I do about 10-30 pull ups in total.
  • MUSCLE GROUPS: Lats, Shoulders, Back, Bicep, Tricep, Abs, Quads
  • BBWOB TIP: Quality over Quantity – Instead of trying to do a gazillion mediocre pull up, try doing 3 perfect ones. Pull up fast then release slowly for an extra umph to the lats.

TOTAL WORKOUT TIME: 45 – 55 minutes (depending if I have to wait for the pull up bar). Six times a week with one rest day.

As you can see, there is not one exercise where I am not working multiple major muscle groups. This is how I get the BBWOB.

P.S. Will be phasing out the planks and replacing with this in the next few weeks:

  • WHAT: Full Hanging (Knee) Leg Raise (Progression Goals: Hang for 20-30 seconds →  Knee raise →  Eventually full leg raise → Add twist for extra oblique focus)
  • DURATION: As many as I can pump out without falling on my face. Reps is TBD.
  • MUSCLE GROUPS: (Core) Upper & Lower Abs, Oblique, Lats, Hip Flexors, Quads, Back, Grip Strength

GOAL #1: Modified Hanging Leg Raise

ULTIMATE GOAL: Full Hanging Leg Raise

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

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