Monday, May 30, 2011

How To Do Seated Calf Raises



When most people think about strength training, bench press is the first thing that comes to mind. But the truth of the matter is this: you're at your strongest when you train all of the major muscle groups. You need to work on your upper body, abs, back, glutes and legs. This is how you develop good body symmetry, posture, strength, etc. So today, I'm going to show you how to develop your lower leg muscles - more specifically your calves - with the seated calf raise exercise.

How To Do Seated Calf Raise

You'll need access to a seated calf raise machine and weight plates. For a warm up set grab a light weight plate (35 or 45 pounds) and place it on the machine. The seated calf raise is just what it sounds like, so sit down. Now, adjust the seat so that your knees can fit firmly under the pads but not so firm that it prevents you from flexing. The next thing that you must do is place the balls of your feet on the platform. Now, flex your calf muscles so that you're pushing off from the balls of your feet. By doing this your knees press against the pads raising the weights up. Now lower your heels to the floor. That's one rep. (The calf raise involves plantar flexion, so you must flex your ankles in order to do the exercise correctly.) Do ten reps for your warm up set then grab more weight. You want to be able to complete at least six reps of this exercise, if you can't do that many you need to lessen the weight (if you can do more than ten reps, the weight is too light). After doing five sets of seated calf raises, you can move on to another exercise.

The seated calf raise is different than the standing calf raise machine or the standing dumbbell calf raise. The seated calf raise places all of the emphasis on your knees and legs. The standing calf raise machine or standing dumbbell calf raise exercise train the upper body as well as the legs. So, what's it good for? The biggest benefit of the seated calf raise would be for people who can't stand stand for long periods of time but still want to exercise their calf muscles. If your leg muscles are weak the seated calf raise is a good starter exercise, after you've become stronger you can progress to other exercises.

Summer is now less than one month away. How are you going to spend it? Making your body stronger, and more powerful or sitting at home reading fitness blogs all day? Get out there and train. You'll be glad that you did.

"Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts: How To Do the Seated Calf Raise Exercise" copyright 2011 Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts. All Rights Reserved. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

How To Do Inclined Knuckle Push Ups



In the latest installment of my push up series, I'm going to show you how to do inclined knuckle push ups (otherwise referred to as the inclined fist push ups). Since you've been following this blog, you know that body weight exercises are excellent for developing functional strength. The convenience of body weight exercises is that you don't need any equipment and they can be done just about anywhere. As for the fist push up, there benefits are endless.

The inclined knuckle push up is an incredible compound exercise because it:

  • strengthens chest muscles
  • strengthens biceps
  • strengthens triceps
  • strengthens wrists
  • strengthens knuckles
  • strengthens back muscles
  • strengthens core muscles

This is an exercise that you should add to your fitness routine. Next, I'm going to show you how to do them.

How to do Inclined Knuckle Push Ups

In this exercise I'm doing inclined knuckle fist push ups. For this exercise you'll need a chair, bench, or steps to serve as an elevated platform. Place both feet on the platform, the balls of your toes should be touching it. Extend your legs behind you. Make two fists and put them knuckles down on the floor. Make sure that your fists are shoulder width apart. Keep your body in a straight line while keeping your abdominal muscles tightened. Now, using your chest and biceps, push up from the floor. Hold for a second then lower yourself to within an inch of the floor. Do ten reps per set, you can stop after five sets.

Knuckle push ups can be tough if you've never done them before. But stick with it. Each week increase the number of repetitions by ten. In other words, for the first week do fifty reps, the second week do sixty fist press ups and the third week do seventy. This exercise is challenging; it makes you stronger while boosting your endurance and stamina. Keep them up and you'll notice a strength carryover to your bench press.

Now I want to give you a head ups: summer is barely one month away. It's going to be here before you know it. The only way to be in shape by the time it comes is to start training. Now is a good time.

"Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts: How to do Inclined Knuckle Push Ups" copyright 2011 Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts. All Rights Reserved.    

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to do Barbell Romanian Deadlifts



You've been reading my dumbbell deadlift series. You've experienced incredible strength gains by practicing heavy lifting with dumbbells. You've come a long way. Congratulations. But now you know that you've progressed as far as you can with those exercises. You need to ratchet things up in order to continue gaining strength. Now it's time to do barbell romanian deadlifts, this is the big brother of the dumbbell Romanian deadlift. There are a lot of benefits to doing the Romanian deadlift with barbells because it:

  • strengthens your back muscles
  • strengthens your hamstrings
  • strengthens your core
  • strengthens your glutes
  • strengthens your wrists
  • strengthens your grip
  • promotes muscle growth
How To Do Barbell Romanian Deadlifts

You'll need an Olympic bar and weight plates for this exercise. Do a warm up set first. Foot placement is essential when doing Romanian deadlifts. Place your feet under the bar, the distance between them must be shoulder width apart. Make sure that your toes are pointing forward. The next thing you will do is bend down to grip the bar. Keep your back straight when you do this, any arching could do serious damage to your spinal cord and the muscles in your back. Grip is also important. You can use either the pronated, supinated or alternate grip. Pronated (palms away) is by far the most difficult and awkward of the grip styles and it puts unnecessary strain on your wrists, so I advise against it. Supinated (palms facing you) is much better and is used by many experienced lifters. The alternate grip is useful when grip strength isn't equal i.e. one hand has greater strength than the other. In the demo I use alternate grip to demonstrate how it is used. Grasp the bar in the ridges not the smooth part.

After you've taken hold of the bar, it's time to execute the lift. Take a deep breath. Now use your glutes to push yourself to a fully upright position. Stand up straight, and draw your shoulders back. You'll be calling on muscles in your back, legs and and glutes to help you lift the weight off the floor. Pulling your shoulders back is good for developing upper body strength. Hold for a three second count. Now lower the weight to the floor. That's one rep. Repeat this for ten reps. After your barbell romanian deadlifts warm up set, choose heavier weight plates. If strength is your goal you must lift heavy. That means going for three to six reps per set for a total of five sets. If you can't do that many, then you need to get lighter weight plates. If you only want to tone or build muscle size, you can go for ten or twelve reps per set, but use lighter weights when doing the exercise.

Strength trainers must add more weight every week. Increase the amount by twenty-five to fifty pounds, you want to maintain consistency with the number of reps and sets that you complete. Romanian dead lifts are a compound exercise that produces functional strength. It's an excellent whole body workout that produces strength for benching, pull ups, squats, dips, etc.

Dead lifting is also a great exercise for burning extra fat. Heavy lifting stimulates production of testosterone and other growth hormones which lead to increased size. It also speeds up your metabolism and helps you to burn fat. So if you want to lose the fat pounds in time for summer, you should do deadlifting.

Summer is just a little more than a month away. Do you want to spend it as a flabby out of shape guy who tires easily? or do you want to be strong and active with lots of energy? Since you're reading Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts, you want to become stronger. So get off the computer and start exercising.

(second photo depicts dead lift at 315 pounds which is 74 percent of my 1 RM)

"Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts: How To Do Barbell Romanian Deadlifts" copyright 2011 Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 9, 2011

How To Do Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts



I've been bringing you a lot of deadlift articles because deadlifting is one of the most important muscle building/strength training exercises that you will ever do. All you have to do is look at powerlifters to see how useful they are in generating strength, power and and mass. But strength trainers and body builders can get just as much benefit from deadlifting. This time I'm going to show you how to do the stiff leg deadlift with dumbbells. Dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts are an excellent compound exercise because they:

  • strengthen the lower back muscles
  • strengthen abdominal muscles
  • stimulate growth hormone production and release 
So I'm not going to waste time showing you how they're done.

How To Do Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts

You'll need a pair of dumbbells for this exercise. First do a warm up set. Grab a pair of light weight dumbbells and place them in front of you on the floor. While keeping your legs straight, lean over and take a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your back straight - arching your back can lead to serious injury. Use your core muscles to pull yourself upright. Keep your shoulders back. Hold for a moment then lower the weights down again. Do this for ten reps then choose heavier weights. In the demo I used 50 pound dumbbells because that amount is good for a warm up set. Do not lift heavy during the warm up, save that for the rest of the workout.

Choose dumbbells that are heavy enough to perform four to six reps of the stiff leg deadlift. If you can do more than six reps the weights are too light, if you can only do a couple of reps the weights are too heavy. Do five sets of the exercise. Your goal is to lift for strength but not taking it to fatigue. After finishing up your sets, do some other back exercise e.g. pull ups, rows, etc.

Each week increase the amount that you lift, as you become stronger the exercises will become easier. That's what you want, steady progression. Once you've gotten as far as you can with the dumbbell stiff leg deadlift you'll be ready for the barbell version of the exercise.

You'll notice increased strength and power that will translate to other exercises. Just see how much your benching, dips, push ups, pull ups, leg press, etc. improve with deadlifting. That's how important this exercise is.

Summer is only weeks away. Do you want to spend those months weak and flabby or do you want to have a strong, sexy body? Exercise is the way to get it. So get off the computer and workout. Now would be the time.

"Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts: How To Do Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts" copyright 2011 Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How To Do Hand Clap Push Ups



Do you like push ups? Sure you do. They're a fantastic compound exercise, push ups strengthen the biceps, chest and abs. You can do push ups just about anywhere, and they're a good substitute for the bench press. But doing standard push ups can get boring after a while. And we all know how dangerous boredom is. Boredom leads to slacking and slacking leads to stagnation and stagnation leads to giving up. Continuously challenging yourself is the best weapon against boredom. So I'm going to show you how to do hand clap push ups which are a fun and challenging variation on your basic push up. Pay close attention to the video in the how to section of this article to see how they're done.

How To Hand Clap Push Ups

You have to master the basic push up before you can do the hand claps. You need a flat horizontal surface. Put both palms on the floor, make sure that they're shoulder width apart. Extend both legs, you'll be supporting your body weight on the balls of your feet and palms. Keep your back straight and lower your chest to within an inch of the floor. Now push yourself back up again in an explosive movement. This is critical to the next part of the exercise. At the top of the movement, clap your hands together, then quickly place your palms down on the floor again. If you don't push yourself up with enough force you won't be able to clap your hands. If you're too slow placing your palms back on the floor, then you'll fall flat on it. A successful hand clap push up is: lower + PUSH UP + CLAP.

Hand clap push ups hone your reflexes, build up your endurance and help you develop a stronger body. Go for at least ten reps rest then go again. Don't be surprised if you don't finish more than a few reps when you first start out. It takes practice to become good at hand clap push ups. But if you'll get better if you stick with them.

Summer is getting closer day by day. Are you going to have the same body that you had last year or are you going to become stronger, leaner and more powerful? Get to the gym and start working out. Today.

"Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts: How To Do Hand Clap Push Ups" copyright 2011 Great Chest Workouts. All Rights Reserved.