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.

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

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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.

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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: Say Goodbye to Your Wings!

2016-06-14-1465911850-1380512-DaraArmWorkout.jpgPhoto: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn

 

We all have that friend. The one with the Michelle Obama arms that photograph well from every angle. And if you’ve ever met NYC-based trainer Dara Theodore, she is that friend. Lucky for us, the Daily Burn 365 trainer and walking gun show (lovingly referred to as “Armageddon”) is spilling a few of her best-kept strength secrets. Scroll down to also snag the 15-minute arm workout she swears by — no equipment necessary.

 

The Better Way to Work Your Arms

If your upper body routine currently consists of curls on curls on curls, Theodore suggests rethinking your plan. “Bicep curls are fine as a single-joint exercise, but let’s face it — we’re all busy. I like to spend my time doing multi-joint, compound exercises so I get more accomplished in less time.” That’s why Theodore opts forfull-body workouts whenever she can. “When performing push-ups or renegade rows properly, your whole body should be working from arms down to legs. Yes, the focus is on upper body. But if you properly engage your legs, glutes and core, they will get a workout as well!”

And the results speak for themselves: More definition, greater strength and, if you keep at it, a higher percentage of lean muscle mass (hello, increased calorie burn!). “Maintaining a strong upper body not only makes the necessary activities easier, but it also ensures we are doing them properly (i.e. using the right muscles) so we don’t injure ourselves,” Theodore says. And let’s not forget: “At any age, we need strong muscles to support our bones,” she adds. “Its never too early to start strength training.”

 

Yet, the 44-year-old mom wasn’t always flaunting her killer arms. “As a younger woman, I had a hard time embracing my muscular physique. In my 20s, the waif-like look was in style, and I have to admit I was a bit insecure and didn’t consider my look ‘feminine’ enough,” Theodore recalls. “Thank goodness I got older andgrew up a little, and got over that nonsense! Today, I’m really proud of my muscles and work hard to make sure they work really well,” she says. “I have so much admiration for strong women, women who can lift heavy weights and support the weight of their own bodies — both are equally strong in my opinion!” Amen.

Dara’s 15-Minute Arm Workout

Don’t be fooled — this bodyweight workout packs a serious punch, especially since the exercises are performed as a circuit, with little to no rest between moves. To make sure your form is on point, Theodore recommends taking a video of yourself doing the move. “It’s a great opportunity for self-critique and progress.”

Ready? We thought so. Complete moves 1 through 5 (pictured below) in quick succession. Rest 60 seconds at the end of the circuit and repeat for three rounds.

2016-06-14-1465911288-9867021-TricepPushUp_2.gifPhoto: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn

1. Narrow Grip Push-Up (10 reps)
Also known as the tricep push-up (see complete push-up tutorial here), this move targets the triceps, shoulders, chest and core. Not bad for one badass bodyweight move! “Think of the body as a moving plank with the glutes, quads and core super engaged,” Theodore says. Also be sure to draw the shoulder blades down the back and keep elbows close to body. Need to modify? Add some incline, placing the hands on a box or bench.

2016-06-14-1465911376-3690759-RenegadeRow1.gifPhoto: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn

2. Renegade Row (10 reps)
Channel your inner GI Joe or Jane for this complex movement. Holding a high plank, keep the shoulders in line with one another and allow elbow to graze the rib cage as it moves toward the ceiling. Pro tip: “Try to keep hips from rocking by separating the feet and keeping glutes and quads engaged,” Theodore advises. Once you’ve got that down, you can add dumbbells for extra resistance.

2016-06-14-1465911418-957119-ProneYT1.gifPhoto: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn

3. Prone Y and T (10 reps)
If you have a tendency to neglect your backside, this move has you covered. The secret: “Keep glutes engaged and hip bones and feet on the ground,” Theodore says. “Think of lifting from the arms more than from the chest but do engage the upper back, and keep a nice long neutral neck.” Though you can progress to very light weights, don’t be surprised if you’re feeling this move using bodyweight-only after just a few reps.

2016-06-14-1465911456-3463575-SidePress1.gifPhoto: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn

4. Side Lying Tricep Press (10 reps)
We give you permission to skip the scary dip machine. This side-lying push-up will tone the triceps, biceps and obliques in just one equipment-free move. Be sure to press firmly into the floor, firing the triceps and core on your way up. Timing your breathing with help, too. Exhale as you press your body off the floor, and inhale as you return to the start position.

2016-06-14-1465911498-9215841-HalfGetUp1.gifPhoto: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn

5. Half Get-Up (10 reps)
If this move doesn’t make you feel strong, we don’t know what will. Holding a book, a dumbbell or nothing at all (recommended for beginners), the half Turkish get-up works everything from your shoulders, arms, hips, back and core. To get the most out of the move, “Make sure to drive through the heel of the bent leg as opposed to coming to toes, and keep an eye on the extended hand or weight to maintain proper shoulder position,” Theodore says.

 

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!

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  • 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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Healthy Byte: Day 1020

Day 1020 op3

I came across a status update in my MFP newsfeed the other day and it really resonated with me. The poster said something to the effect that she is proactively taking time for herself and that she shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about wanting to keep herself in the ‘top 5’ of her priority list. Without knowing the specifics which instigated this bit of self-declaration, I can’t help but to admire her insight but I am also sadden that even in 2015, many – women specifically, feels obligated to justify this very intrinsic human need … to love oneself.

From very early on, I think most are taught to oppress our own wants and needs for the sake of others. And then we are continuously groomed that selfishness generally is a vile pursuit. But I think all the good intention in raising a better human being, many have somehow interpreted that as any form of self preservation is an agent of evil. But the reality of it is that we all need to be a little selfish in order to be the best version of ourselves.

I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

Bilbo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

As wise old Bilbo the Hobbit so eloquently stated, sometimes I think we can all understand his sentiments of feeling a little ‘thin.’ And no one is a better caretaker of us than ourselves. So logically, in order for us to continue to be everyone else’s everything, doesn’t it make sense that our own wants and needs should be one of our top priorities?

We have to be our own best self-advocate because no one knows us better. Now I’m not saying forego all our responsibilities (whatever it maybe) with reckless abandonment. No. But what I am encouraging is that we should allow ourselves to purposely carve out time 100% guilt free. From my observations, a feat easier said than in put into practice, especially for mothers.

And perhaps it is this notion of total selflessness which serves as a stumbling block for many to be successful in weight loss maintenance because in order to keep the weight off, we have to make our own health a priority. Otherwise, the daily grind makes it far too easy to revert back to old habits.

It takes a certain level of self-perseverance, selfishness, self worth, whatever label it maybe – one has to have it to remain steadfast in our food repertoire as well as fitness routine. And no one should feel guilty about that … ever!

I think the quote below is a good one to file in the back of our minds so that we can all continue to be successful … remember our environment has tremendous hold over our own well being, and environment includes the people who are in our lives … for better or for worse. Day 1020 op4

TIP OF THE WEEK

Why I am a bodyweight strength training fangirl …

Believe it or not, I was within 2 lbs in all three photos below although I look ‘slimmer’ in the far right one. How is this possible? It’s the miraculous difference between what I have affectionately dubbed ‘doughy thin’ and ‘toned slender.’

doughy vs toned

It is hard to believe that a few toned & defined muscle here & there can make such a visual impact but it does. Aside from looking more healthy, there is an even more pertinent reason to build muscles.

Muscles uses more fuel to sustain itself, therefore increased muscle mass means more calories burned. And as we age, we lose muscles so unless we want to eat less and less calories in order to compensate for the muscle loss or do more & more cardio; the only viable alternative is to increase what we already have.

Bodyweight strength training is a wonderful method to doing just that. Unless one has aspirations to overly bulk or enter in physique competitions, the average Jane or Joe really only needs to tone & define without the traditional approach to lift weights.

One of the main benefits of bodyweight strength training is that it can be done anywhere at any time – equipment free, no gym required. Bodyweight strength training also offers less opportunity for injury because there’s no extra weight to support (weights). And there are essentially an endless amount of variation to increase level of difficulty.

For a very long time I did follow a rather strict lifting regiment but I saw very little results and was starting to have elbow and shoulder issues. After some research, I reverted to what I was familiar with from my days in the Army … basic calisthenics of push ups, pull ups, and planks.

My daily exercise routine consists of 30 minutes of elliptical (high resistance for leg muscles), variety of push ups (triceps, regular, wide arm) alternating with variety of planks (regular, high, arms up) for 1 minute, then variation of pull ups (bicep, regular, wide arm). Now just keep in mind that ANY form of strength training is a painfully slow process regardless of method so be patient, be very very patient. The results below are after almost two years of work.

drum rolls please ….

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I lifted nothing but my own bodyweight. Consistency is key.

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