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WEIGHTLIFTING BELTS – FRIEND OR FOE?

By Akirakira

WEIGHTLIFTING BELTS – FRIEND OR FOE?

Have you been thinking about using a weightlifting belt to help increase the maximum weight, but want to learn more about how, when and why?
Continue reading our blog provides insights into the content of weightlifting belts and how to use them to get the most benefit in the gym.

One day I was training one of my athletes in the gym and I noticed that he had decided to use a weightlifting belt when attempting his heaviest squat set. I was at the same time excited, that he would be willing to use such an awesome accessory, as well as terrified that he had no idea how and why he was using the belt. As he approached the barbell, he pulled the belt as tight as he possibly could, to the point where I could see the oxygen seeping out of his body. It was at that point that I realised I had to step in and help him to understand, not only how to effectively use the belt, but why it might be necessary for him.

There can be nothing more intimidating in the gym setting for a lay person, then seeing a big burly bodybuilder walking around the gym with a weightlifting belt fitted so tightly to their abdomen that you could be mistaken for thinking it was painted on. Just as a small side note, was it necessary to wear the belt during that warmup set of curls?

Why Should You Use a Weightlifting Belt?

People will commonly explain that the reason they are using a weightlifting belt is to protect their lower back from injury. Interestingly, some individuals like to wear the belt for every single set, others just for heavier sets, and some people simply prefer not to wear a belt.

A belt is designed to aid your core and back muscles in maintaining trunk stiffness and stability during heavy lifts. One of the common misconceptions when it comes to belts is that they will do the work of the core for you. Maybe that was the reason my athlete was putting the belt on so tight that we were going to require the ‘jaws of life’ to remove it.

The body has its own internal weightlifting belt which quite simply cannot be replaced. The internal weightlifting belt consists of the core musculature which surrounds the spine (I won’t bore you with anatomy) and put simply we can learn to utilise this internal belt to create trunk stiffness and stability. The best method of achieving this is through practicing the timeless art of ‘breathing and bracing’.

Effective breathing during a heavy set of an exercise like the squat involves taking in a big deep diaphragmatic breath and allowing the belly to expand outwards. Side note, if you wanted to learn how to look great in your next Instagram video when performing a heavy squat you have probably come to the wrong place.

Once you have the art of breathing through the belly (and not the chest) down, you next need to learn to tense the abdominal muscles as hard as you can. This will effectively lock down that stiffness and pressure in the spinal region which was created during the breathing process. Consider a balloon, you can fill a balloon with air and watch it expand, but if you don’t tie the end of the balloon up it will deflate and fly away. The bracing process is like tying up the balloon.

When Should You Use a Weightlifting Belt?

Put quite simply, and bluntly, do not use a weightlifting belt unless you have mastered the timeless art of ‘breathing and bracing’ as outlined above. If you are one of the lucky few who has mastered this technique, then I suppose I better tell you how to wear the belt also. When wearing a belt, it is important to start the process by breathing and bracing, and from here you will find yourself breathing into the belt. You should always be looking to expand your stomach into the belt. See my side note above about not expecting to look great in your Instagram videos.

You should not need the jaws of life to remove the belt from your waist, so wear it firm around your waist, but if you start turning blue, maybe move it down a notch. Much research has shown that wearing a weightlifting belt (correctly) has the potential to allow you to lift heavier weights. To be honest, I do not need to quote research to tell you that. Many people will back that up anecdotally. In addition, the belts have been shown to assist with increasing the speed of your lifts, and even maintaining stiffness and stability for longer periods during your 5-8RM sets.

Final Thoughts…
My recommendations would be to wear your belt for lifts when you go beyond 80% of your max, or an 8 out of 10 on the old RPE scale. Wearing your belt too frequently, and for all sets may result in your body starting to rely on the support the belt provides and ignoring that, ever so important, internal weightlifting belt I told you about.

So, on your next heavy set of squats, if you don’t want to look like you have just run into David Gillespie do yourself a favour and wear a belt.

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SHOULD YOU DRINK COFFEE BEFORE EXERCISING?

By Akirakira

SHOULD YOU DRINK COFFEE BEFORE EXERCISING?

Drinking coffee is a well-established and much loved part of many of our daily routines, with the majority of us not surviving the morning without a cup of our favourite brew. Coffee has become not just something we drink to help us wake up in the morning, but a way of life and a real part of our culture. Something perhaps less thought about is the impact a coffee has on athletic performance and whether it can be used as an effective pre-workout stimulant.

Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between caffeine and sports performance:

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in seeds, leaves and nuts of several plants. Caffeine is most commonly consumed in coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks and sports drinks. Its widespread social acceptance means that many people consume caffeine regularly, with caffeine-containing beverages typically having 30-120mg of caffeine. Caffeine is becoming an increasingly popular topic of discussion in sports performance, with many caffeinated products being marketed to and consumed by athletes.

Caffeine and Performance:

The major performance benefits caffeine appears to have come from its influence on the central nervous system and its effects on helping to reduce perception of effort and fatigue. More specifically, caffeine is able to act as an adenosine receptor antagonist. By blocking the action of adenosine, the feeling of being able to train or race harder for longer is created, hence improving performance.

When To Consume:

The benefits of caffeine can be felt soon after consumption, with studies showing that effects can begin after as little as 10 minutes. Maximum caffeine concentration has been found to be reached in the blood after 30-45 minutes, with the effects lasting between 2 and 3 hours. Having said this, individuals will respond differently depending on factors such as gender, age and metabolic rate, so its best to experiment with this timing window.

How Much To Consume?

While individual responses to caffeine will vary, studies have shown that typically doses in the range of 1-3mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight are sufficient to improve performance. For example, 70-210mg of caffeine for someone weighing 70kg.

A 250ml cup of instant coffee will have approximately 60mg of caffeine, an espresso will have around 75-100mg per shot and a 500ml bottle of iced coffee will contain anywhere between 30-200mg of caffeine.

In Summary:

Used properly and consumed within the recommended amounts, caffeine may have positive outcomes on your training. So, if you needed another excuse to consume your daily coffee, we may have just given you one (sorry not sorry!). 

 

 

 

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How To Do A Bulgarian Split Squat

By Akirakira

How To Do A Bulgarian Split Squat

Before we dive into how to do a Bulgarian split squat, let’s first talk about what it actually is. The Bulgarian split squat is a single leg exercise that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and quads.

Although this exercise does resemble the movement of a basic lunge, it’s quite a bit different. While a lunge requires you use both legs simultaneously, the Bulgarian split squat focuses entirely on one leg at a time.

How Will Bulgarian Squats Benefit My Body?

Bulgarian split squats allow you to effectively train various parts of your lower body. When performed correctly, they help to develop muscles without adding extra stress to your lower back. When done consistently, split squats can also help to correct and even prevent muscle disproportion.

Which Muscles Do Split Squats Work?

Bulgarian split squats are probably one of the best exercises to effectively train and tone the majority of the major muscle groups. Split squats focus attention primarily on the quadriceps.

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Soleus
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Gastrocnemius
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus

How to do a bulgarian split squat

As mentioned prior, performing a Bulgarian split squat closely resembles a basic lunge. Although the two exercises share similarities, they are quite different. Due to the fact that split squats are such an effective, yet intense workout, it is important to maintain good technique throughout the duration of the set. Using the incorrect form could lead to serious injuries.

1. Find a foot rest

To perform this exercise you will need something to rest your foot on. A box or bench are both good choices. If you’re an advanced athlete, you can try using a stability ball or TRX cable which will require more balance.

Ideally your back foot should rest at least 4-6 inches off of the ground; or up to knee height.

2. Get into position

Next, get into a lunge position. It is important to also be sure that you are standing upright, with your shoulders back and head forward. For some, figuring out their preference on the leg and foot placement can be a bit challenging.

Some people prefer more of a wide or stretched stance. While others feel more comfortable standing in a more tapered stance.

With your hips square and your body facing forward, lift your back foot and put it on the bench behind you. The majority of your body weight should be on your front leg. You shouldn’t feel any tightening or severe pain in your glutes or knees.

3. Doing a split squat

Once you have found footing that you are comfortable with, begin lowering your body down until your front thigh is horizontal and your foot is in line with your knee.

Try not to allow your knee to overlap your front foot. The latter is an example of an improper technique. Next, thrust back up by pushing against your heel and bringing yourself back to the starting position.

For beginners: work to complete about 5-8 reps before switching to the other side

Reminders and Tips

Always keep good technique in mind when completing any exercise. These tips and reminders should help you effectively and safely complete the bulgarian split squat:

  • Start with your body weight before testing out different weights
  • Never replace speed for good technique
  • Do not allow your knees to overlap your feet when squatting
  • Keep your back straight and shoulders square

Bulgarian Split Squat Variations

Adding Instability

There are a number of variations you can use to make this exercise more intense. The use of a resistance ball or TRX band is a great way to challenge yourself and kick this exercise up a notch. By using a ball rather than a bench or a set of risers you will create an uneven surface that will require more control and strength from your core muscles.

Adding Weight

The second variation would be to hold dumbbells or a medicine ball during the exercise. To use this method, simply hold the dumbbells firmly in each hand with your arms at your side. Or, hold a medicine ball straight out in front.

More Balance

Bulgarian split squats “with a twist” is another popular variation that many people use to maximize their results and also challenge coordination and balance. For this option, the use of added weight will not be necessary. As you lower your body into the squat simply hold both arms in front with your hands clasped together and twist your torso to either side.

 

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FLOSS COMPRESSION BAND

By Akirakira

FLOSS COMPRESSION BAND

The floss compression band is an essential performance tool and should be a staple in the gym bag of every athlete looking to improve range, restore joint mechanics, or unstick matted down or previously injured tissue.  Compression tack and flossing (compression "flossing") works on many levels; including re-perfusing tissues that have become stiff or gone cold after injury, and by compressing swelling out of tissues and joints.

It is simply a neurophysiological response. Beyond occlusion-- what is happening is a forced gliding of the myofascial structures. With conventional soft tissue mobilization and manual therapies tissue displacement compromises effectiveness; with tack and flossing the compression forces tissue adhesions to slide against each other with minimal tissue displacement. This forced glide not only resolves myofascial dysfunction due to aberrant tissue formation, but also indirectly (or very directly depending on the therapist's intent) acts as an effective neurodynamic tensioner technique. The increase of ROM is not only driven by inhibition of tonus, but also by increased neural drive.

Because the floss band can be used while actually performing the movement the athlete is trying to change, its effect on sliding surface and restoration and tissue mobilization is unmatched.  Floss Bands help make positive subjective changes to our joints and soft tissues through compression, tension, and movement.

USED FOR TREATING TENDINITIS:

This doesn't cure inflammation based injuries like tendinitis or prevent all forms of it from ever bothering you again. However, it does provide some relief and allow you to continue training. Any time you are suffering from inflammation based problems like tendinitis or bursitis there is something you are doing that is causing the problem. Until you deal with that, you will be forced to repeat the triage over and over.  

Essentially, what's happening is that the constriction prevents further inflammation of joints and connective tissue, as well as constricting blood flow for a bit. Once the compression band is removed, the blood flows back into the area. For joints with large amounts of connective tissue, such as elbows and knees, this allows the blood to flush away some of the excess white blood cells that are further making the inflamed area worse.

Please Note: If you actually tore a ligament, sprained a joint, etc., you need to see a doctor. Usually, rehab involves staying off the injured limb during the healing process, and re-initializing work with low weight high reps to strengthen the connective tissue and get the blood flowing through the joint until it is completely healthy again.

USED FOR MOBILITY:

The floss band isn't going to make you stronger; however, it does change the way the muscles orient themselves when you are doing various different movements. What that means is you can intensify the movement using the compression band. Again, when you take the floss off, you have that rush of blood into the mobilized area. The best bet is the rush of blood helps recovery. For a limited time, your muscles may be a little larger similar to a bodybuilder pump, but that effect is strictly due to the extra blood post mobility work.

Disclaimer

  • The bands are made of latex rubber, do not use if allergic.

  • Avoid using on head, neck, chest, belly, or back.

  • The band is compressing, if you feel like your blood is being occluded too much, your limbs are turning purple or faint, or you have numbness/tingling… please stop using immediately.

  • Can leave marks: The positive mobility effects of flossing outweigh any compression and discomfort that you may experience with this level of compression, but it’s worth noting that the bands can leave the occasional line or mark on your skin, depending on how your wrap your joints. They’ll go away, but you could be left with a few temporary battle scars.

WHEN TO USE A FLOSS BAND:

  • The Floss can be used really at any time, warm up, cool down, and in between workouts.

  • I usually floss before a workout utilizing exercise specific movements, depending on the workout, I get more out of it than a lacrosse ball or foam roller. Second, I’ll use after a lift, it really seems to keep soreness down and help initiate and speed up recovery.

  • Finally, I use the day(s) after a tough workout. When I’m really sore, and laying down on a foam roller sounds miserable, I’ll use the floss.

HOW TO USE A FLOSS BAND:

  • Wrap anchor strip around the joint or soft tissue area.

  • From there, use roughly 50% tension or pull and overlap the bands.

  • Tuck the end of the band under.

  • Move in OPEN chain, all ranges of motion.

  • Move in CLOSED chain, loaded and exercise specific ranges of motion.

FAST RESULTS AND VERSATILITY:

If you have varying levels of inflammation, especially in your joints (elbows, knees, and shoulders), you’ll be amazed at how much relief the bands can provide in just a few minutes. After using the bands, you can have dramatic “test and retest” before and after results that get you back to training or finally rehabbing from a nagging minor injury. Also, a flossing session only takes a few active minutes, so it’s very minimal commitment for fast results.

These flexible bands have no problems wrapping around most joints on your arms and legs. If you’re experiencing discomfort in your knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles, or even wrists, it’s easy to work on these joints using the floss. The bands won’t replace your foam roller for your back and between your shoulders, but they’re very effective at releasing crepitus and impingement in your arms and legs.

To work shoulders, wrists, ankles, elbows and the little pieces within, wrap a band tightly around the joint (sometimes it might take two bands to cover the area) and put it through ROM like push-ups, PVC pass-throughs, squatting, lunging, etc. For knees, wrap one band above and one band below the joint, then do some squats. When you put the joint through ROM with bands anchored on either side, they stretch everything in between, which can greatly improve not only joint ROM but also pain, stiffness, and tendonitis.

ANKLE:

Wrap the compression band starting midfoot working up over the ankle, then move the ankle thru its full range. This can be done actively by pointing your toes and then bring them back up as far as you can. I like to perform my ankle mobility lunging with the compression bands on. 

KNEE:

Wrap the compression band around the knee, start just below the patella (kneecap) and wrap firmly working way up to just above the patella. Then squat 20-30 times.

Wrap the compression band around the upper thigh as high as possible. You can squat or sit on a box straightening and bending your knee.

ELBOW:

Wrap from just below the elbow up to above the arm. Move the elbow through full range using your other hand or even better get someone else to bent and straighten your arm. Bend and straighten for a couple of minutes or until you feel like you need to rip the band off as your hand is going numb!!! You might have had it wrapped a little too tight.

SHOULDER:

Place the other person’s straight arm on your shoulder.  Wrap using 50% tension clockwise on the person’s right arm and counterclockwise on his left arm around the deltoid muscles (or shoulders).  Start from the top of the shoulder down to mid arm. When you’re done wrapping, tuck the end under the band. Lay the person on his/her back.  Place the ball of your foot on the person’s shoulder that has been wrapped. Have the person on the floor internally rotate his/her arm. Apply pressure with your foot as the person rotates his/her arm

Normally, you take the band off after two minutes. But if you experience any of the three:

  • A rise in blood pressure and/or claustrophobic

  • Pale looking limb

  • You start feeling tingling

  • Take the band off immediately. The purpose of compressing is to mobilize, not demobilize. And that’s what will happen if you keep the band on for too long.

  • If you’re flossing for the first time, you might want to go lighter on the tension than you think until you get used to it.

CONCLUSION:

Floss compression bands can deliver near-magical results for specific mobility issues by allowing you to work through your full range of motion while compressing a targeted area. For minor strains and general maintenance for overuse, you’ll find that a few minutes of flossing can put you well on the path to a more mobile version of yourself. The bands are most effective with the help of a friend, but the fantastic grip that flosses compression band products have quickly become known for makes it effective to use on your own.

To add a floss compression band to your gym bag essentials, check out all the great options that Power Guidance has to offer.

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TABATA TRAINING – WHAT IS IT & WHY DOES IT WORK?

By Akirakira

TABATA TRAINING – WHAT IS IT & WHY DOES IT WORK?

If interval training is part of your regular workout routine, odds are you’ll be familiar with the terms HIIT and Tabata. From gyms to boutique studios and online workouts, HIIT and Tabata have taken over the fitness scene.

This type of training is designed to get your heart rate up into an anaerobic zone for short periods of time. By doing this, you train all of your energy systems – something that regular cardio workouts won’t get you doing.

Not only will this improve your fitness levels, it helps you burn more calories both during and after your workout.

Where Did Tabata Come From?

Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Tabata and his team conducted research on two groups of athletes – the first group trained for an hour at moderate intensity five days a week for a total of six weeks, while the second group trained for just four minutes five days a week.

After the six weeks, Group 1 had increased their aerobic system, but showed little or no results for their anaerobic system. Group 2 showed a much greater increase in their aerobic system than Group 1, and increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent.

Put simply, this showed that doing HIIT workouts like Tabata doesn’t just improve strength and burn fat, but betters the cardiovascular system as well.

The Tabata Format:

Tabata training is a timed interval method that alternates between 20-second periods of maximum effort followed by 10-seconds of rest, repeated eight times for the ultimate four-minute workout. The work-to-rest ratio is what makes this type of training so effective, working both your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems to build cardiovascular fitness.

Another great thing about the Tabata format is that you can choose exercises that require little or no equipment, making it a very versatile way to workout anywhere, anytime.

An ideal Tabata workout is about 20–25 minutes, but can be adjusted depending on fitness levels.

Benefits of Tabata Training:

Burn Bulk Calories –

  • Tabata training will elevate your heart rate in no time and increase your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This will not only stay high during the workout, but after you’re finished as well, meaning your body will continue burning fat throughout the day.

Increase Aerobic & Anaerobic Endurance –

  • Tabata forces your body to use both systems at once, meaning you’ll improve your fitness across both your explosive energy system (anaerobic) and endurance system (aerobic).

Maximise Efficiency –

  • The intense, fast paced nature of Tabata workouts means you can get an extremely effective workout in, even if you’re short on time or can’t get to a gym.

Variety –

  • Mixing up the way you train means your body is always trying to adapt to a new training stimulus, and helps you avoid the comfort zone. Squats, mountain climbers, burpees, tuck jumps, high knees, sit ups – the combination of exercises are endless!

Tabata Workout Ideas

Workout 1:

20 secs on, 10 secs off x8

Rest for 1 minute between exercises

  • Push Ups
  • Squats
  • Burpees
  • Sit Ups

Workout 2:

20 secs on, 10 secs off x 8

Rest for 1 minute between exercises

  • Shoulder Press
  • Upright Row
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Dumbbell Front Raise
  • Burpees
  • Kettlebell Swing

Workout 3:

20 secs on, 10 secs off x4 per set

Rest for 1 minute between sets

Set 1:

  • Skaters
  • Burpees

Set 2:

  • Russian Twists
  • Plank Jacks

Set 3:

  • Squat Jumps
  • Mountain Climbers

Set 4:

  • Push Ups
  • Reverse Lunges

Workout 4:

20 secs on, 10 secs off

Repeat each x4. Rest for 1 minute between sets.

Set 1:

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Tricep Dips
  • Push Ups
  • Burpees

Set 2:

  • Squat Jumps
  • Heel Touches
  • Ski Hops
  • Mountain Climbers

 

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Basic Strength Training With Good Form

By LIUJJ

Basic Strength Training With Good Form

If you are a newbie to strength training or if you think you need a bit of a refresher on good form, you are in the right place. Good form allows you to reap all the benefits of your workout and avoid injuries at the same time. No matter your age, current fitness level, or sex, everyone can benefit from weight training with the right technique.

How to Incorporate Good Form 

Follow these guidelines to make the most out of your time at the gym.

Warm Up Properly

Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury.Start your workout with five minutes of brisk walking or another aerobic activity to warm up your body.

Put Your Mind Into the Workout

Don’t just daydream. Focus on the muscle group(s) you are working. Get tips from an experienced weight training friend or a personal trainer, then stay focused during your workout. Don't increase the speed of the movement until your form is in good shape.

Make your Muscles Do the Work

Be sure to slow down each movement and don’t use momentum to lift free weights—use your muscles instead. Avoid swinging movements. You will activate more muscle fibers if you lift and lower weights with control through the entire range of motion. If you cannot lift a weight without swinging it, it is too heavy and you should decrease the weight.

As a beginner, select a weight that allows you to complete 15 repetitions. Around repetition 12, you should be feeling a considerable amount of fatigue. If you have questions about form, you may consider hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions.

Maintain Good Posture

Stand tall with your chest lifted and your arms naturally at your side. Don’t hunch the shoulders or hold tension in your neck. Keep your core engaged. The stronger your core, the more effective you will be at lifting weights.

Pay Attention to the Details

If you are going to a weight training class, your instructor will likely show you good form and provide verbal cues. As you do your workout, keep these cues front of mind. For example, if you are doing an arm exercise where you are supposed to keep your elbows by your sides, doing so will make that exercise more effective.

Remember to Breathe

You might be tempted to hold your breath when you are exerting effort. Exhale during the hardest part of the exercise to fuel the movement. 

Never work through intense pain. Instead, learn to differentiate between pain and muscle fatigue.

Listen to Your Body

Never work through intense pain. Instead, learn to differentiate between pain and muscle fatigue.

Work All the Muscle Groups

Make sure your weekly strength training routine works all of your major muscles—abdominals, legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms.

Use Your Body Weight

Sometimes your own body weight can be the most effective and most challenging.Make sure to add a least a few to each session. Try some planks, push-ups, squats, and lunges.

Make Use of Free Resources

Research articles and blog posts online from reputable sources and watch instructional videos from certified trainers on social media and YouTube to learn about proper form.

Basic Principles

There are some basic strength training principles that can help anyone enjoy a more effective workout.

  • Overload: You have to apply an appropriate resistance to build muscle. The amount of resistance should be above what one is accustomed to in everyday life. You want to add resistance using weight machines, free weights, cable machines, various weighted tools, or even your own body weight.
  • Balance: You should work the entire musculoskeletal system, not just the 'mirror muscles' (the ones in front of your body). This can lead to postural and strength imbalances, and possibly injury.4 Be smart and work several muscle groups at once when possible.  
  • Rest: Rest between sets of exercise for about a minute to a minute and a half giving your muscles a chance to recover before you attempt the next set. Also, rest 48 hours between bouts of weight training if you are sore.For example: If you work your legs hard on Monday you should not exercise the legs again until Wednesday at the earliest.

A Word From Verywell

As you strength train, you will naturally get stronger and need to increase the weight you lift. Soon you will be amazed at how regular strength training can improve your cardio conditioning and change your body. Plus, now your body will work for you while you are sitting at your desk. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest.

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BATTLE ROPE EXERCISES AND WORKOUTS

By LIUJJ

BATTLE ROPE EXERCISES AND WORKOUTS

Wanting a piece of equipment that strengthens your abs, arms, and shoulders, engages your legs, and gives a killer conditioning workout all in one go? Look no further than battle ropes. No doubt you would have seen this old school piece of equipment either in action or lying around the gym. Weighted ropes have become an increasingly popular fitness trend – and for good reason. Offering full body strength and cardio training, battle ropes are great for both building muscle and elevating your heart rate. And because ropes can create force and tension from angles that are harder to achieve with basic weight training, they can confuse and surprise your muscles into making new gains.

The great thing about battle ropes is that they can be used in a number of different ways and programmed for people of all fitness levels. They are a great exercise to put in a boot camp style circuit, include in a HIIT session, to add as a finisher at the end of a workout, or if you’re feeling up to it, can make up a whole training session.

Let’s take a look at some of the basic battle rope movements to master –

Alternating Waves:

Probably the most common battle rope exercise, the wave is a great move to start off with. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Holding one end of the rope in each hand, alternate pumping your arms up and down, creating alternate waves in the rope.

 

Double Waves:

Once you’re comfortable with the alternating wave, give the double wave a go. It is essentially the same movement, with the only difference being your arms move in tandem. Both wave exercises are a great way to target your biceps.

 

Shoulder Circles:

Standing with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent, grasp the rope with palms facing down. Lift your arms over your shoulders, and move your arms in circles. Start by moving in a clockwise direction, and then anti-clockwise for a specified period of time. This will get your shoulders feeling a serious burn!

Slams:

To perform this exercise, lift both ends of the rope overhead, and then slam the rope down with full force to the ground. This move engages your shoulders, arms, back, and especially your core.

 

Snakes:

Another great movement for your shoulders, the snake rope exercise is similar to the wave but instead of the ropes swinging up and down, they swing from side to side. Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, holding the ropes by your sides. Lower into a squat, pulling your arms wide and keeping them parallel to the floor. Without crossing your hands, move your arms in toward one another and then back out again, creating a snake like pattern.

These fundamental rope exercises are perfect to add into a circuit style session or HIIT workout. The work to rest ratio can be adjusted depending on fitness level and experience (see below).

Now let’s take a look at how battle ropes can be programmed for a full session and how more advanced movements can be added for a full body workout:

Workout 1:

A1: Battle Rope Jump Slam

A2: Battle Rope Alternating Wave with Squat

A3: Battle Rope Alternating Wave with Side Lunge

A4: Battle Rope Circle Wave

A5: Battle Rope Low to High Chop

A6: Battle Rope Kneel to Stand Wave

Workout 2:

A1: Battle Rope Burpee Slams

A2: Battle Rope Alternating Wave with Lunge

A3: Battle Rope Single Arm Plank Wave

A4: Battle Rope Double Wave with Jump Squat

A5: Battle Rope Jumping Jacks

A6: Battle Rope Snakes

Follow this guide for work to rest ratios based on fitness levels;

  • Beginner – 15 seconds work, 45 seconds rest
  • Intermediate – 20 seconds work, 40 seconds rest
  • Advanced – 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest
  • Elite – 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest

Exercises A1-A6 = 1 round. Once one round has been completed, rest for 2 minutes. Repeat for 3-5 rounds.

 

 

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Using Exercises bands for Strength Gains

By LIUJJ

Using Exercises bands for Strength Gains

Benefits of Resistance Band Exercises

Whether you're using superbands or old-school resistance tubing, the benefits of performing resistance band exercises are largely the same.

Transport

Bands are lightweight and easy to transport. Just roll a few up and throw them in a suitcase or gym bag and you'll have resistance training equipment available wherever you go.

Effectiveness

A band's resistance increases as it continues to stretch, with the greatest resistance at the apex of each exercise. When you lift a dumbbell, you know you're lifting a set amount of weight through a full range of motion. What you may not realize is that at the apex of each movement, you get a little break.

Take, for instance, a shoulder press. As you lift the dumbbells, pressing them overhead, you're working against gravity to push the weight up. When your elbows extend fully, your well-aligned bones help support the weight before you reverse the movement and work with gravity to lower the weights (in a controlled manner) back to your shoulders.

When performing a resistance band shoulder press, the resistance level is relatively light at the beginning of the movement. It gradually increases as you press the band up, reaching its peak resistance when your elbows are fully extended. To maintain form, your stabilizing muscles have to remain engaged at the top of the movement, helping increase joint stabilization, which, over time, can reduce the chance of injury.

Mobility

Bands can be moved in directions and patterns that weights can't be moved. Gravity is an inherent factor you can't ignore when lifting weights. When you perform a barbell squat, you load up the weight before using gravity to act on that weight to make the squat more challenging. As such, certain movement patterns and exercises are hard, if not impossible, to perform with standard weights.

For instance, you're going to have a hard time performing a heavy dumbbell or barbell chest press while standing upright. Gravity will pull the weight of the barbell or dumbbell toward the floor as you extend your elbows in front of your chest, and you simply won't be able to lift as much weight (or work for the desired muscle groups) because of the physics of the exercise change.

Resistance bands are different. Because even heavy-duty resistance bands are lightweight, as long as one side of the band is anchored, you can easily perform a standing chest press, extending the band to create resistance, rather than relying on gravity to act on a predetermined weight. This means the movement patterns and exercises you can perform with resistance bands are practically endless.

Versatility

Bands can be used during power and mobility training. Resistance bands aren't just good for strength training. Bands can also add resistance to anaerobic power exercises, such as sprinting and jumping, and agility exercises, like side slides and grapevines. Again, the possibilities are practically endless.

Assistance

Most superbands specify a resistance amount in pounds or kilograms. This "resistance" number becomes an "assistance" number when using superbands for pull-ups. For instance, a band that provides 15 pounds of resistance during strength exercises effectively assists you during pull-ups by decreasing your body weight by 15 pounds.

Heavy Duty Resistance Bands, or "Superbands"

Some fitness magazines popularized the concept of super straps and introduced them to the box style as a way for athletes to perform pull-ups. But soon, the use of heavy belts expanded and the market exploded. When buying a super band, please consider the following:

  • Colors and weights aren't standardized. Every brand has a different color-coding system to identify different resistance levels. And from brand-to-brand, resistance levels vary between bands. When making a purchase, pay attention to what the color-coding and resistance levels are for the bands you're purchasing.
  • Use several different bands. Because different muscle groups tend to be stronger than others (for instance, your quads are typically stronger than your biceps), having several different bands on hand is helpful for full-body training. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to purchase a light, medium, and heavy band to enjoy a well-rounded routine.
  • The long loops can be anchored to vertical or horizontal posts. Simply wrap the band over a horizontal post (like a pull-up bar) or around a vertical post (like a sturdy street sign or jungle gym post), then pull one side through the other side until it's secure. Once in place, you can do many of the exercises that normally require a cable system such as biceps curls, triceps push-downs, and seated rows.

6 Resistance Band Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

If you're ready to give superband training a try, the following exercises provide a full-body workout routine.

Squat Press

To perform a squat press, stand with your feet on the resistance band, securing it in place. Position your feet roughly shoulder-distance apart, toes angled slightly outward. Grip the top of the resistance band in both hands, bending your elbows and "racking" your palms at your shoulders, your palms facing forward. The vertical portions of the band should be positioned to the outside of your body, almost as if it's boxing you in.

Press your hips back and lower your glutes toward the floor as you bend your knees. When your hips drop just below parallel with your quads, press through your heels and drive your hips forward to return to standing. As you do, press your arms straight up over your head, extending your elbows fully. Bend your elbows and lower the band back to shoulder-height. This is a single repetition.

Banded Push-up

Kneel on the ground and wrap a superband behind your back, gripping one side of the looped band in each hand, with your palms "hooked" inside each loop so the band can't get away from you. As such, you should have two lengths of band flat across your upper back, right where your scapulae (shoulder blades) are located.

Get into a push-up position with your palms under your shoulders, your knees lifted, and your body forming a straight line from heel to head. Or modify by starting on your hands and knees. The band should feel tight in this position. If not, adjust the band in your hands as needed.

From here, bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor. Just before your chest touches down, reverse the movement and press yourself back to the starting position, pushing against the band's resistance.

Assisted Pull-up

If you're unable to perform a traditional pull-up without assistance, superbands can make it possible. Securely attach your superband to a pull-up bar. Place one knee inside the stretched resistance band as you reach up to grip the pull-up bar with both hands. If you're unable to reach, use a step or box to get in position. When hanging from the bar, the band should be stretched, your knee inside the provided loop.

Banded Deadlift

To do a banded deadlift, lie a heavy band flat on the floor, positioned horizontally in front of you. Stand on top of the band with your feet hips-distance apart so the band is secured to the floor. Engage your core and keep your back straight and shoulders back. Press your hips back, allowing your knees to bend and your torso to hinge forward until you can reach down and grasp the looped ends of the band in each hand, pulling them taut just outside your shins. This is the starting position.

Press your feet hard into the ground, using your hamstrings and glutes to pull your torso to standing as the bands stretch. Reverse the movement, pressing your hips back, bending your knees, and hinging forward from the hips to return to the starting position.

Lateral Band Walks

Take a long, looped band and loop it over itself once or twice until it creates a smaller circle. Step both feet inside the circle, and position the band around your shins, just above your ankles. Adjust it for comfort, making sure the band's loops lie flat against your skin. Position your feet roughly hips-distance apart, so the bands are taut but not tight. Bend your knees and hips slightly.

Take a step laterally to the left with your left foot, just far enough to stretch the bands and create resistance. Plant your left foot, then step your right foot laterally to the left, planting it so your feet are again hips-distance apart. Continue stepping to the left for a full set of repetitions before changing directions to step to the right. Keep tension in the band the entire time to provide proper resistance.

Band-Resisted Sprint

Securely attach a superband to a sturdy vertical post, positioning it at roughly hip-height. Step into the band and face away from the post with your feet staggered and hips-distance apart, your knees slightly bent. Adjust the band and your position so the band is taut, but not tight, and so the band lies flat across the front of your hips. Bend your elbows, one arm reaching forward and the other back, as if you're about to take off from a starting line.

When you're ready, begin running forward against the band's resistance, pumping your arms as fast as you can as you drive your knees forward. Run forward until the band is tight, then run in place against the band's resistance.

 

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