A-Z EXERCISE GUIDE
WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO TRAIN YOUR ABS? ISOMETRIC CONTRACTION
AN ISOMETRIC CONTRACTION occurs when muscle length remains relatively constant as tension is produced i.e. holding a muscular contraction without changing position of the muscle.
What exercise is an example of an isometric contraction? Hollow Hold
How To Do A Hollow Hold
- Start lying on back with your arms extended overhead on floor and legs straight resting on mat.
- At the same time, and with control, lift arms, head, shoulder blades, and legs off the floor.
- Hold for 20 seconds then return to starting position. Rest for 10 seconds.
*Modification: the higher that your legs are off the ground, the less resistance that you will be holding. Make sure to keep your low back pressed into the floor or mat as you hold the position.
The BURPEE is essentially a squat thrust with a squat jump and sometimes an added push-up. The burpee is a full body exercise using only your bodyweight but it is also a high calorie burning exercise. Typically, you can burn 10 calories per every minute.
What are additional benefits of BURPEES?
They can be completed anywhere so great to do while traveling on vacation or business. They do not require any equipment which also makes them convenient to perform anywhere. They increase your lung capacity, improve stamina and performance, and can also increase strength. Burpees are functional. They can be a workout on their own by added a long jump at the end of each burpee and see how many you can complete over 100 yards or they can be added to any workout. There are also variations of the Burpee that can make them more challenging every time that you complete them.
How to Do a Burpee
A. Stand with feet shoulders-width apart, weight in heels, arms at sides.
B. Push hips back, bend knees, and lower body into a squat.
C. Place hands on the floor directly in front of and just inside feet. Shift weight onto hands.
D. Jump feet back to softly land on balls of feet in a plank position. Body should form a straight line from head to heels. Be careful not to let back sag or butt stick up in the air, as both can prevent effective core activation.
E. Optional: Lower into a push-up or lower body all the way onto the floor, keeping core engaged. Push up to lift body off of the floor and return to plank position.
F. Jump feet back so they land just outside hands.
G. Reach arms overhead and explosively jump into the air. Land and immediately lower back into a squat for next rep.
A curtsy squat is a variation of the squat that targets the inner thighs and glutes. It gets its name from the traditional curtsy greeting, where you bow your head and bend one knee behind you.
How To Do The Curtsy Squat
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips
- Inhale and brace your core and glutes
- Step your right leg behind your body, out to the left, whilst bending both knees at a 90-degree angle so that you’re lowering into a curtsy
- As you do this, keep your chest lifted and your hips square
- look straight ahead
- Push through your left heel to come back to standing.
- That’s one rep. Alternate legs to complete the set
D=DELTOIDS (also known as your shoulders)
The deltoid is a triangular muscle and has three parts, also known as heads. The front, medial and lateral head.
The front deltoid raises the arm forward and overhead. Functionally you use the front deltoid to reach for things overhead. How to train the front deltoids: Seated Arnold Presses
How to: Seated on a chair or bench with a set of dumbbells. With your arms at a 90 degree angle and palms facing inward, raise the dumbbells overhead as you rotate the palms outward. Return to starting position and repeat.
The lateral delt raises the arms to the side. The lateral raise or shoulder abduction with dumbbells is the exercise to work these muscles.
The rear delts are one of the most important muscles in the upper body. Most people neglect training them, train them incorrectly or don’t give them the attention they deserve, even on a shoulder focused workout. Here’s why they are important to train and exercises that help you hit them best. Working rear delts will make your shoulders bigger, improve shoulder health, and boost overall shoulder strength.
One way to work rear delts is a rear delt fly. Grab a set of dumbbells and stand shoulder width apart with chest parallel to the floor. Arms will be in the shape of a “w”, palms facing inward, begin to raise arms to sides until forearms are parallel to the floor.
Sufficient external rotation in shoulders helps keeping your shoulders healthy and improve your posture as well as the ability to reach and lift objects overhead.
Depending on the range of motion, and the strength of your rotator cuff various modalities can be used to perform external rotation of the shoulder. If range of motion and strength prohibits you from rotating, use body weight only. If you have enough strength, you can use a resistance band or dumbbells to complete an external rotation.
*See images below
Fartlek training is an interval training method for runners. It can be used for other types of activity, but it is designed to increase speed and endurance.
Ex of Fartlek Training:
- 10 minutes of warm-up pace.
- 1-3 minutes of race pace.
- 1 minute of resting pace.
- Repeat this 4-8 times.
- 10 minutes of cool-down pace.
Most of us think about training legs, but do we consider training glutes on their own. The gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus are part of the muscular system referred to as your posterior chain. Weakness in the posterior chain can contribute to weakness in other areas of the body and can cause imbalances or injury.
The posterior chain plays a critical role in supporting you during daily activities. Unfortunately, sitting “turns off” the posterior chain muscles. This often leads to muscle imbalances, weakness, and tight hip flexors, which can wreak havoc on your lower back.
How to target your glutes:
A barbell hip thrust or barbell glute bridge is a very effective way to engage and strengthen the glutes. If you want to correct an imbalance and improve your stability, one-leg barbell squats can help you to achieve this in the gym. A narrow stance squat or high-bar squat will target the glutes and quads.
There are 4 hamstring muscles. They are responsible for extending the hip and flexing the knee. The best way to protect your hamstrings is to keep all of your leg muscles healthy and working together, including the glutes and the quadriceps. Tight hamstrings are also a culprit to low back pain.
So not only should you strength the hamstrings with exercises such as hamstring curls and straight leg deadlifts, you should also stretch the hamstrings.
The easiest way to stretch the hamstrings is standing or seated toe touches. *not everyone can touch their toes, so reach until you feel stretch not until you feel pain* And you should never stretch a cold muscle. Always do an active warm-up before you begin to stretch the muscles.
How to stretch the hamstrings: Sit on the floor with both legs out straight. Extend your arms and reach forward by bending at the waist as far as possible while keeping your knees straight. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Relax back into the starting position.
I = INTERNAL ROTATION
We have already discussed external rotation. But internal rotation is just as or more important. External and internal rotation do not only apply to the shoulder joint but also to the hip joint. Hip external rotation is when the leg rotates outward, away from the midline of the body. And Hip INTERNAL rotation is when the leg rotates inward, toward the body. You use your hip internal rotators to walk, run, squat, crouch, and crawl.
An exercise for internal hip rotation:
Using a loop or mini resistance band, put it above your knees, stand shoulder width and perform squats.
Do you remember the Jump Rope for Heart days in elementary school? Return to the basics and pick up a jump rope for a quick calorie burn. Calories burned jumping rope can work out to 15 to 20 calories per minute. The average person could burn 200 to 300 jump rope calories in a simple 15 minute workout.
Try to jump 30 seconds then rest for 15 seconds and repeat for a 15 minute workout.
What is a kettlebell? A kettlebell is a type of dumbbell or free weight that is round with a flat base and an arced handle. It looks like a cannonball with a handle, or a teapot without the spout, hence the name “kettlebell”. Unlike a dumbbell, a kettlebell’s center of mass extends beyond the hand. Kettlebells can be swung, thrown, juggled, pressed, held, moved and manipulated in hundreds of ways. They are small and portable and can be incorporated into all aspects of athletic and fitness training. Kettlebells are a highly efficient way to lose weight, tone your body, increase your cardio-vascular fitness and strength and maintain joint health, mobility and flexibility.
What type of workouts can you perform with a kettlebell? There are many types of workouts that you can perform using a kettlebell: strength, cardiovascular and full body workouts.
One of the most popular kettlebell workouts is the “swing”. How to perform the kettlebell swing: Hold a kettlebell in front of your body with both hands, arms straight. With a slight bend in your knees and a flat back, hinge at your hips and swing the kettlebell back through your legs. Use that momentum to stand and swing the kettlebell out in front of your body, up to shoulder height.
If you’ve ever knelt down to tie your shoe or seen someone propose on a bended knee, you’re familiar with the lunge. A lunge is a single-leg bodyweight exercise that works your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core and the hard-to-reach muscles of your inner thighs.
There are many variations of a lunge: stationary, walking, jumping etc…
In a stationary lunge, the feet do not move. With right leg forward and left leg back, lower the right knee toward the floor and return to start position. Repeat lowering and lifting the right knee for 10-15 reps before repeating the same movement on the left leg.
Walking lunges are performed as the name implies, walk one leg in front of the other while lowering both legs into a kneeling position and then step the other leg forward and continue walking for 30-60 seconds or for a designated distance 25 yards etc…
Jumping lunges or scissor lunges: This is a plyometric movement. In a lunge position, use a jumping motion to bring both feet off the floor and switch lead leg in the air. Return to start position with the opposite leg in front and repeat.
What is a “man maker”? The Man Maker is a full-body Dumbbell movement that combines a Push-Up, Rows, and a Squat Clean Thruster in a single complex.
How to perform a man maker: Complete each movement one step at a time and then combine all movements into a single repetition.
- Grab a set of light to medium dumbbells
- Complete one dumbbell clean
- Return dumbbells to start position, complete a dumbbell squat with dumbbells racked on the shoulders.
- From squat, stand with dumbbells still on shoulders and complete one overhead shoulder press.
- Now combine all 3 of those movements, clean/squat/press (also known as a thruster).
- After completing one Thruster, holding the dumbbells place them on the ground and walk or jump your feet back into a plank position. (half burpee)
- In plank position with dumbbells under hands, perform one row per each arm = Renegade row
- Sprawl or jump the feet back until you are position in a low squat position, stand and overhead press.
- Put it all together: 1 dumbbell clean, front or shoulder racked dumbbell squat, half burpee, Renegade row, sprawl, stand to overhead press.
- Set a timer of 1-5 minutes and see how many reps you can complete in that time period. Resting as needed.
A nose buster or skull crusher doesn’t sound like an appealing exercise. However, it is a very effective triceps exercise. You can perform a nose buster in various ways with different types of equipment. Most people like to use a an EZ bar. But dumbbells can also be used for this exercise. A nose buster can be performed on a flat bench, incline, or decline. They can even be performed flat on the floor or lying on a stability ball. The key to performing this exercise with proper form is to position the elbows in a 90 degree angle and to extend from the elbows to the wrists.
Many of us refer to obliques as “side-abs” or “love handles”. The oblique muscles are important to support the body and they help to force exhaled air out of the lungs. They also provide stability to the ribcage and pelvis, assist in side bending the body, rotate the trunk, and assist in flexing the trunk forward.
Exercises to work the obliques:
Side planks with rotation and hip drops
Plyometric training: also known as “jump training” or “plyos”, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength). Plyometrics tone the entire body, burn calories, and improve cardiovascular health. They also boost your stamina and metabolism. In addition, plyometric exercises rapidly stretch your muscles, allowing you to move more efficiently.
What are some common and effective plyometric exercises?
Box jumps, jumping lunges or split squats, traveling push-ups or hand clap push-ups
How often should you perform plyometric movements? Depending on what you are training for, you should add plyometric exercises to your workout 1-2 x per week.
The quadriceps is the large muscle in front of the leg that is also know as the thigh. It is called quadriceps because it is divided into 4 muscles and those muscles work together to extend the leg. The most common exercise to work the quadriceps muscle is the leg extension. You need strong quad muscles to support movements every day, from getting up from a chair to sprinting to your car in the rain. Weak, imbalanced muscles can lead to falls, twists, and joint damage. The knees are particularly vulnerable to weakness in the legs.
If you already have knee pain, knee injury or quad atrophy, you will want to work on quad strength without undue stress on the knees. A simple way to work on quad strength would be to perform isometric contractions. An isometric exercise is simply a tightening or contraction of a muscle. How to perform a quadriceps isometric contraction:
Sit on the floor with your right leg straight in front of you. Bend your left knee up and put your left foot flat on the floor. Flex your right foot and tighten the thigh muscles of your right leg. Press the back of your right knee toward the floor. Don’t arch your back or hunch your shoulders. Hold each contraction for 10 seconds and repeat for 10 reps.
Rotation is one element of functional training. What is functional training? Functional training is performing exercises that assist in daily tasks. There are 5 elements of functional training: hip hinge/swing, squat, push, pull and rotation.
Why is rotation important? Rotation is the fundamental essence of human movement. This is the case whether you are rotating your torso to the right and left, walking, running or simply raising your arms. There are no straight lines in the human body – all joints articulate with some degree of rotation.
Why Being Strong in Rotational Movements Benefits You
- Improve hip mobility.
- Better lower back health.
- Increase performance.
- Improve core strength.
- Reduce risk of injury.
- Improve other lifts.
- Increase speed and acceleration.
Examples of rotational exercises:
Woodchoppers, Landmine rotations, Russian Twists
Video resources for demos of the above exercises:
What is a slam ball? Slam balls and medicine balls are both weighted balls you can use to make your workout more challenging. And no, they’re not the same thing.
The main difference between a slam ball and a medicine ball is the medicine ball will bounce back, while the slam ball will not bounce but simply land and absorb the impact.
Slam ball benefits:
Build explosive power and strength, add instability, build functional strength
How to perform a slam ball slam: Start with feet hip-width apart and the core braced and hold a slam ball at your chest. Keep a soft bend in your knees. Rise up tall on the toes and extend the arms overhead with the slam ball. Exhale as you throw the ball down towards the ground with force. To make this more challenge, try to lower your body into a squat and grab the slam ball before it bounces a second time or no longer leaves the floor.
The Turkish get-up is one of the most functional exercises you can do. The move takes you from lying on the floor to standing upright, all while holding a weight (dumbbell or kettlebell) above your head. The full-body exercise is great for improving coordination and shoulder stability so that you can lift heavy things and avoid injuring the vulnerable shoulder joint. It also trains the simple (but necessary) skill of getting off the floor.
How to Do the Turkish Get-Up with a Kettlebell
- Start by lying in a fetal position on your right side, kettlebell on the ground near you. Reach your right hand through the kettlebell window and grasp the handle.
- Roll onto your back, keeping the elbow of the loaded arm on the floor, and lift the kettlebell to a vertical forearm position. Your right knee should be bent, with your right foot flat on the ground (think: knee up, bell up).
- Extend your left arm and leg, pressing them into the floor at a 45-degree angle from your body.
- With a neutral wrist, press the kettlebell up until your right arm is fully extended with the wrist, elbow, and shoulder in alignment. Keep your shoulder packed.
- Keeping your eyes on the kettlebell, press into the ground with your right foot, and start coming up onto the opposite hip and elbow. Press up onto your left hand. Your left leg should remain on the ground.
- With a low sweep, bring your left leg under and behind you, knee bent to the floor, eyes still locked on the kettlebell.
- Push your hand through the floor to bring your torso up to a lunge position, loaded arm still locked vertically and shoulder packed.
- Look straight ahead and push yourself up from the lunge to a standing position.
- Now, reverse all the steps!
- On the way down, take a big step back so you leave enough space for your leg to sweep, lunge to the ground, then “windshield wipe” the back leg, allowing the body to hinge back to the ground.
- As soon as your hand touches the ground again, move your gaze back to the kettlebell and keep it there until you’re back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Uni=one Simply put; unilateral training is any form of movement that trains one limb at a time. Why is unilateral training important? To determine or even out imbalances in the body.
It prevents overusing, overtraining, or compensating with the dominant side, which helps to isolate and correct muscle imbalances which can aid in injury prevention and rehabilitation.
You can perform unilateral exercises for many muscles in the body:
Shoulders: Single arm overhead press, front raise or lateral raise
Chest: Single arm dumbbell chest press
Back: single arm row
Legs: pistol squats
For more information on unilateral exercises:
In this exercise, you sit with legs extended and torso off the ground, your body forming a V shape. If you are a beginner, you can modify it to use a bit of assistance from your hands, or do it with bent legs. Intermediate exercisers can add this exercise to abdominal and core workouts.
Other variations to the v-sit:
Add dumbbells and perform overhead presses or chest fly’s while in a v-sit position. You can also add resistance bands for a more challenging workout.
Wall sits are great lower-body exercises for beginners, people coming back from injury, or exercisers looking for a greater challenge. In fact, one of the great things about the wall sit is that it’s super customizable to a whole bunch of fitness levels. The wall sit exercise is a lower-body strengthening exercise that works your muscles through isometric contractions, or by holding a position without moving.
Wall sits are a great exercise for a back rehabilitation program because they allow you to experience the effect of a squat without causing stress to your lower back. To perform a proper wall sit, stand approximately 10 to 12 inches away from the wall lower down into a chair seated position or a 90 degree bend in knees (if knees allow that much flexion). Press your head, shoulders and back against the wall and hold that position for 30-60 seconds.
Want to make the wall sit more challenging? Put a 25# or 45# plate on your lap while you sit or you can even trying standing on a Bosu ball while you are in a wall sit.
What is x-training or cross-training? Cross training is typically defined as an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness.
Chronic pain or injury often arises from repetitive motion. So why is x-training important? It is important to allow the body to recover from chronic use of the same muscles from performing the same exercises repeatedly. Swimmers, cyclists, runners and weight lifters all need to implement cross-training into their workout routines. The aversion to x-training for many athletes is the fear that they will lose their current sport specific conditioning or that they just don’t know how to perform other exercises. X-training is a great excuse and time to step away from your comfort zone and try something new or different.
If all you do is lift weights, you should try other things like swimming or hydro rowing. You can still reap strength benefits from these types of exercises. And the biggest benefit will be that setting the heavy weights down for a day or two can actually improve your lifting performance when you pick the weights back up again. One common saying is that growth or improvement occurs outside the gym or during rest, recovery and refuel.
X-training also helps the mindset that you are not just sitting around doing nothing at all during rest. This can also be thought of as “active recovery”. You are still moving the body just in different ways.
Y=Y PRESS & Y RAISE
Y press for shoulders: Step 1: Take a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Step 2: Lift the dumbbells up to your shoulders with your elbows pointed out to your side. Step 3: Push the weight up and out so that your arms make the shape of a “Y”. What is the benefit of the Y-Press? Building muscle is about increasing the amount of tension your muscles are under. And one way to increase tension is to change the normal angle at which the exercise is performed.
Y Raise: You can perform the y-raise standing using the TRX straps or lying in a prone (face down)position on the floor or on a stability ball. Similar to the Y-press, you use the TRX standing or light dumbbells in prone position to raise the arms into the letter “Y”.
When using the TRX, make sure to keep the same amount of tension throughout the movement and not allowing any slack in the band.
Lying face down on the floor or face down over a stability ball, perform the same movement. Let your thumbs face the ceiling, and begin to raise your arms into the shape of a “Y”. Using the prone position, eliminates the ability to use momentum to complete the movement thus isolating the muscle even more.
Zottman dumbbell curls are arm exercises that target muscle groups in the upper and lower arms. This variation of a biceps curl works all three major muscles in the bicep: the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. All those words sound like a foreign language so here is some further explanation: The biceps brachii and brachialis are the primary muscles that make up the visible bicep in the upper arm. The brachioradialis is the most visible muscle in the forearm that provides most of the strength to your lower arm. Zottman curls get their name from nineteenth-century strongman George Zottman who invented the maneuver.
A Zottman curl begins as a basic dumbbell biceps curl. Feet shoulder width apart, palms up, neutral grip on the dumbbells and flex the biceps towards the shoulders. Once you reach the top of the shoulders, turn the palms over until they are palms down and lower the curl (similar to a reverse curl) to starting position. Turn the palms over and repeat.