Great Fitness Ideas for Everyone to Stay in Shape

Exercise benefits young and old, sedentary and athletic, and whether you do it in a 24 Hour Fitness with machines and eliptical trainers, or in your backyard with stones and rusting dumbbells, the results are pretty much the same. Train hard, train often, and watch your diet. You’ll feel great and you will be healthier. Chances are you will also build some muscle and burn off a little fat while you’re at it.

Unfortunately, research from the National Institutes of Health and a few other prominent organizations claim that two segments of the population, teens and seniors, are becoming less fit in general, with obesity and related diseases on the rise as a result.

Having seen the benefits of physical therapy and regular exercise work miracles on my 78 year old father after he took a fall in his house, I was inspired to write out some ideas for seniors to get up and moving. This was the final product:

Easy Cardio and Endurance Exercise Activities for Seniors

It is a basic outline of some simple and not-so-simple cardio, resistance and balance exercises seniors can do with little or no equipment. The article also offers some inspiration. How about a 100 year old woman who can put an 8.8 lb. shot almost 14 feet?

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Where I live, I see an abundance of healthy teens being very active;  playing soccer, skateboarding, riding their bikes and playing baseball and softball, to name a few. Very rarely do I see an overweight teen. But according to ‘the research’ there are a growing number of overweight teens every year. Considering that I loved going to the gym when I was a teenager (and doing anything active,) it is hard to imagine being sedentary as a teen.

Then again, when I was growing up we had 13 channels and Atari was the reigning video game console of the day. Still, I figured there must be a reason why there are so many teenagers who are uninvolved in physical activities. Just like everyone else, the key is probably to do a wide variety of things and continue doing those you enjoy. In other words, find something you like and it isn’t ‘working out,’ it’s FUN.

Here are my ideas for teens who want to get in shape but get bored with traditional workouts or just need some new inspiration:

How to Stay Fit Without Boredom for Teens

So check these articles out, and if you know (or are) a senior or a teen who could benefit from these, please pass them along. Suggestions welcome 🙂

Not So Useless Biceps Muscles and The Exercises you Need to Try

As a 40 year-old guy I enjoy all kinds of exercise. If it keeps me strong, helps me stay flexible or increases my endurance it makes it into my workout/playtime rotation.
At this age, strength and muscle disappear fast if you don’t work at it, so resistance training is always a priority, even basic bodybuilding movements with traditional weights to hit every body part.
Yes, every. This means curls of some variation for the biceps, and even isolation work for those rear deltoids. I do this because, like every other muscle in the body, the biceps (or the posterior deltoids) are important and functional.They play a vital role in flexing the elbow and supinating the forearm, both movements which happen often throughout the day.
The biceps are a vital link between the anterior deltoids and the forearms, which is why I was surprised to read an article in a popular men’s magazine quoting trainers that claimed they were “useless.”
According to the short blurb in the magazine, the triceps were the more “important” muscles, and isolation work on the biceps was unnecessary and even dangerous. Claiming that “curls pull your shoulders forward and bend your elbows out” leaving you prone to injury, the quoted celebrity trainer also said too much biceps work would make your pecs look ‘droopy.’ Uh-huh.
eorthopod.com
So does this mean you should stop training your biceps?!?
No! As the magazine goes on to state, you will get plenty of biceps work from doing compound exercises like rows, pullups and even deadlifts.  But instead of ignoring these important muscles, try getting creative with how you work them. Forget the curls and consider these exercises:
-Hanging dumbbell rotations.
The biceps supinate the forearm, so why not add weight and resist this motion? Stand and hold a dumbbell in either hand hanging at your side, palms facing backwards, shoulders back. Grip the dumbbells firmly and rotate the hands until the palms are facing forward. Squeeze this position for 2-3 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
Farmer’s Walks.
Holding dumbbells at your sides, walk with palms face forward or rotate as you walk as in the exercise above. Engage the biceps with a firm grip on the dumbbells. This exercise is also great with 8x8x16 mason blocks or a similar odd object.
Medicine ball curls.
Doing a curl with an open hand instead of with the fingers wrapped around a bar requires a slow, concentrated motion. Obviously some grip will be necessary, especially when you are lowering the ball, but open the hand through most of the movement. Start lighter and consider using one of the squishy sand-filled balls for this one.
While the majority of your workouts should involve compound exercises, don’t neglect the smaller muscle groups like the biceps from time to time. Undertraining these vital muscles can cause just as many problems as overtraining them.  Get creative and have fun!
For more interesting biceps routines, read this article:

Total Core Shredding Body Blasting Rocky Workout Routine!

In my last post about Rocky IV we glossed over Stallone’s training and showed a highlight reel of some raw training from the movie. This time we are going to talk about how we can get raw without having to catch the next plane to Moscow.

There are really only three things you need to do the work Rocky did in his remote Russian farmhouse. One is a barbell (but a pair of adjustable dumbbells will do,) the other is a pullup bar, and the last is a sandbag. In fact, two sandbags would be even better. Learn how to make a cheap sandbag here.

Here are the exercises you will be performing. You can do these with 1 to 2 minutes rest in between, or perform them as a circuit, resting after all the exercises are done. For circuits (interval training,) use a lighter weight and move at a faster pace.

Warm-Up:


Do slow, light repetitions of each exercise to warm up.

The Movements:


-Basic Pullup: This is the basic pullup, not a kipping pullup. You can use a chair or stool to assist you if a full pullup is not possible. Do as many as you are capable of, adding a dumbbell between your legs if you can do 15-20 with ease.



-Standing Russian Twist: Use a barbell, with one end empty and anchored to the corner of a wall or wedged between something heavy. The end you are holding has weight on it. Start light until you are comfortable with the exercise.

Standing Russian Twist at GoPrimalFitness.com

Stand in front of the barbell, holding the end with both hands at arm’s length. Keeping the arms extended. twist the barbell all the way to one side, then back to center. Repeat on the opposite side. Lean forward slightly as the bar is lowered and get your legs and hips into the movement.

When you are comfortable, swing from one side all the way to the other.


-Sandbag Step-ups or Lunge:
With a sandbag on one or both shoulders, step up on a stool or step, alternating legs. Make sure the step is at least 12″ high, or high enough to engage the quadriceps and glutes.

You can also choose to perform lunges, either in place or walking. If you use one sandbag, switch the bag to the opposite shoulder halfway through your set.


-Standing Military Press:
You may not have a horsecart loaded with your training team to press, but a barbell works just fine. Clean it to the shoulders, then press up using minimal or no leg movement. Tighten the core and move the barbell in line with the shoulder plane.


-Barbell or Dumbbell Rollouts: 
This is a tough core exercise affecting the entire abdominal wall, and using the lats, triceps, obliques, serratus anterior and glutes to stabilize. But first learn how to do it.

Start from your knees if this is your first time. Place your hands on the barbell (or adjustable dumbbells,) and keep the body straight as you roll forward until the arms are extended in front of you (or as far as you can go and still roll back to the start.)

Now maintain that tightness making your body rigid and roll back the way you came.

Now imagine doing this with a barbell.

When you get strong enough, try doing this exercise starting from standing. Now that is a hardcore abdominal workout!

Do 2-4 sets of each exercise, depending on your fitness level. If you are doing intervals, do one set of each exercise one after the other, no rest between. That is one round. Do 2-4 rounds and rest 1-2 minutes between them.

This is not a comprehensive routine to replace a complete program, but add it to the schedule once or twice a week as a way to build a stronger, more functional body.

For more equipment and workout ideas, continue reading:


Pullup Bars for the Home Gym

The Kettlebell Dumbbell Relay Workout for Strength and Endurance


TRX Suspension Trainer vs. Pull-up Bars

Build Muscle and Burn Fat with these Simple Exercises

Rocky’s Functional Training in Russia!

Rocky Balboa takes on Mother Russia in Rocky IV! And how does he do it? Not using fancy machines and a team of exercise physiologists, but with good old-fashioned functional training implements anyone can find!

If you haven’t seen the movie Rocky IV, it contains some of the best hardcore functional strength and conditioning in movie history (arguably.) Most important, the only ‘traditional’ piece of equipment Sylvester Stallone uses in this movie is a pull-up bar.

Besides this he uses only what is available in and around the remote Russian farm house he is living in. He goes on runs in the deep snow, pulls loaded sleds with a makeshift harness, saws thick logs, heaves stones, and chops down trees with a massive axe. Talk about some serious core work!

In addition he works on a speed bag, and in one triumphant scene he presses a cart loaded with his training team. Who needs a barbell?

In all of these scenes there is one important ingredient exhibited in every workout: Hard Work ( and dedication. But, of course, hard work requires dedication, so…)

It did not matter what he was doing, he was dedicated to his goal and worked hard to get there. Unrelenting! Here is a great montage of the Rocky IV training segments, showcasing Rocky’s rough and functional workouts with the technical workouts of his Russian opponent. Enjoy, and maybe you can get some great ideas for your own workouts!

Working Out the Same Muscles Two Days in a Row

In a recent Men’s Health magazine e-mail, they were pimping a book called “Huge in a Hurry” by Chad Waterbury. In this book the author expounds upon the virtues of working the same muscle groups multiple days in a row. 
Because I focus a lot on the energy system and performance aspect I am improving when I train, this concept made perfect sense to me. Let’s go over the basic idea here.
First, working the same muscle group two days in a row does not mean taking the same bodybuilding workout routine you did for your back and repeating it the next day. That is a sure way to overtraining. 
Instead, consider the gymnast. One day’s workout may consist of a typical warm-up, then technique work on the rings. If one day is heavy on the rings, the next day may be split between strength work (in the gym) and a review of the previous day’s techniques. 
The same muscle groups are being used, but the ring’s training load has decreased, and a different modality is used in the gym. The next may be spent doing recovery exercises. An example would be lighter resistance and stretching; nothing too heavy or difficult. 
Functional workouts, such as those used in Crossfit gyms or at GymJones, focus on a particular energy system. The workouts are designed to improve strength, power, endurance or build muscle; but usually a combination of these. This approach means the same muscle groups will often be trained several days in a row, or at least with less than 48 hours recovery time.

For example, an Absolute Strength day may look like this:
Warm-up: 10 minutes on stationary bike or rower.
Dynamic-specific warm-up for:
-Deadlift: 1-2 sets at 40-50 percent of 1 repetition max x 10-20. Not to failure.
Then:
-Deadlift: 5-6 sets; work up to singles or doubles at 90% of 1 rep. max.

A Strength Endurance day:
Same warm up and dynamic warm up (only one set this time.)
-Deadlift: 5 x 12, 6,5,3,12, working up to 80-85 percent 1 RM.
Between deadlift sets do:
Stationary bike or rower x 1 minute at hard pace.
After deadlift/sprint rest 90 seconds and repeat.
Finish with 20 minutes at steady pace on rower or bike.

A Power workout using the back squat could look like this:
General warm up
Dynamic warm up with bodyweight squats or light weight.
Then:
Back Squat: 8 x 3 reps. Use a fast but controlled eccentric movement (going down,) and accelerate the bar as fast as possible when standing up. The power reps are not to failure, and are done with 40-50 percent of your one rep. max.
Although you may not want to train any single performance aspet two days in a row, these workouts could be done as strength, endurance and power three days in a row. Or as strength, power and strength/endurance. Other combinations training sport specific activities are also possible.
There are training systems that subject the trainees to heavy workloads on a daily basis, such as the Bulgarian method. Bulgarian Olympic lifters have been known to work on maximum and near maximum lifts six days a week, often enduring more than one workout per day. 
If weightlifting is not your full-time job, though, stick to varying your workload and your intensity. The results will be magnificent, and you just might make faster gains than you ever have before.
***Get the advice of a professional trainer or coach (which I am not) before attempting new and different exercise programs!
Listen to Louie Simmons teaching about increasing bench pressing power. This man has a wealth of knowledge.
Get Chad Waterbury’s book “Huge in a Hurry” here:

                                           

For more information about lifting with bands, go here:

http://www.flexandflow.com

Read more about muscle-building workouts here:

http://www.realmusclefast.com

Best Home Gymnastics Ring Workout for Building Pectoral Muscles

How to Build Strong Back Muscles

Big Strong Arms Workout Routines

Muscle Mass-The Best Basic Lifts for Maximum Gains

Is it a Rope Trainer, a Suspension Trainer or a USA? None of the Above

I want to share today’s workout routine with you, because it was a little weird and kind of fun, and still gave me a great back workout and more. You might even want to try this, but real quick, some back story.

Since I made my first suspension trainer out of rope,
(you can read about it here: http://mosladder.hubpages.com/hub/Adventures-with-Suspension-Training-in-My-Garage-Gym)  I have had something of an obsession with the stuff. The rope that is.

The tire swing/climbing rope

I made a jumprope suspension trainer, pull-up handles with pvc and rope, I even made a tire swing/climbing rope with yellow 1 inch polyester rope.  Braiding the rope became a therapeutic pastime.  Take a 100′ foot length of rope, cut it into three or four equal lengths and braid it together.

It would be used for something, I just wasn’t sure what.

Then I saw the Universal Strength Apparatus (About the USA)
which could be called ‘suspended ladder training,’ since that is what it is. Two narrow ladders with multiple rungs. The rungs/handles are stiff, the rest is not. The nice part is there is no adjustment necessary, and you can do crazy things like ‘jumping dips’ to the next rung.

Bingo! Why not tie some handles into my braided ropes and use them like the universal strength apparatus? Using two braided ropes with loop handles tied in every few inches, I could hang them side by side and get a ‘suspended ladder training’ style workout.

Before the second one was done I tried it with one. I used the yellow and black hanging in the picture below by throwing it over my pull-up bar.

Hmmm, it was a little awkward, but good for pushups, flyes, body rows and the like. Still not a USA, though.

With a second braided rope of equal size, I tried again:
This wasn’t working. Does the contraption above look strange and uncomfortable? Yeah, it was, in a bad way. So I thought about it some more. In the meantime, the thicker blue rope (with only two handles) made the perfect suspension trainer, and was comfortable enough to get a full workout on. Adjusting by looping the ends around the pull-up bar is easy.

                                           Still, what to do with all this yellow and black rope?

Ahaaaa!! Rowing! 

Functional exercises are great, and in this case, you can target your back muscles as well. Which brings me to today’s workout, which consisted of standing in place pulling the weighted rope towards me in a hand over hand motion. Let me just say this beats the hell out of rowing a barbell or dumbbells, and IMHO, is better than sitting in front of a machine with cables.
In the pics above, you will notice a green rope and some pvc pipe. The original plan was to loop the braided rope end through the plates and tie a large knot to pull against the plates. But I found this pipe and rope sitting around, and that was that. The only tying involved was green rope to braided rope. Done.

One plate was good for getting a rhthym, but far too light for a decent workout. So I threw another 45# on. Much better. I probably knocked out 10 back and forth laps before doing a few pull-ups and curls and calling it a day. My lats were definitely worked and my arms as well. There were other advantages to this fun outdoor workout too.

1.) Core involvement. The hand-over-hand motion requires core rotation plus hip and glute stabilization; and who doesn’t want a tighter core and gluteus?

2.) Progressive Resistance: Because I was dragging these plates through the gravel, the closer it got, the harder it became. Also, the more weight you add, the greater the drag because it picks up even more gravel. This works well in sand, too.

This exercise/workout will be part of my permanent rotation from now on. There are a myriad of ways to use this. Put the handles in front and push, or hang them from your shoulders and pull like a sled dog. Either way, this satisfies my need for unusual, interesting and effective workout equipment!

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To see the Universal Strength Apparatus for yourself:

Universal Strength Apparatus

For more great workout ideas:

Traveling Workout and Portable Gym and Exercise Equipment

Gymnastic Ring Workout Routines at Home

Every Pushup Exercise you can Think of and the Celebrities Who do them

How to Build Strong Back Muscles

A complete muscle-building program for free:

The Fast Muscle Program

Special Ops Elite Fitness Training for Everyday People

Special Ops Elite Fitness Training for Everyday People

For an interesting look into the day-to-day training of special ops in the U.S. Military, click on the link above. With an emphasis on mission readiness, these workouts are designed to get elite soldiers ready for combat and intense training exercises, imagine what it can do for the everyday athlete!