Top 5 Bodyweight Exercises

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With my new book, Doorframe Pull-up Bar Workouts out this week, a new blog post seemed appropriate. My book is centered around exercises that can be done at home (or anywhere) with a pull-up bar. In today’s post, I’m going to list the top 5 bodyweight exercises. These are all fundamental movements in any exercise program and can be progressed or regressed as needed. All of these can be found in Doorframe Pull-up Bar Workouts

 

1. Pull-ups

Pull-ups are one of the absolute best exercises that you can do. They are a great strength building exercise because you are pulling your entire bodyweight. Additionally, pull-ups work a wide variety of upper body muscles, including the Lats, Rhomboids, Biceps, Deltoids and Forearms.  Pull-ups can be progressed or regressed to meet the needs of any fitness level and can be performed almost anywhere.

2. Push-up

Push-ups should be a staple of any fitness program. Push-ups can be performed anywhere and require no equipment.  Pushups work a wide variety of muscles in the upper body, including the Pectorals, Triceps and Deltoids. Additionally, push-ups are a great core exercise due to the trunk stability that is required to perform a proper push-up. While they are easier to perform than pull-ups, Push-ups are still a difficult exercise and can be progressed or regressed in order to meet the needs of any fitness level.

3. Lunges

Lunges are among the most dynamic lower body exercises. Lunges narrowly beat out squats to make this list. Lunges work on almost all of the muscles in the lower body with a focus on the Quads, Hamstrings and Glutes. Lunges are also a great exercise for balance, stability and control. They can also be performed in a wide variety of ranges and in all planes of motion. This means that you are never at a loss for ways to make the exercise different and more dynamic.

4. Burpees or Squat Thrusts

Burpees are  both my most and least favorite exercise. They are my most favorite due to the conditioning benefits and least because of how difficult they can be. Burpees are second to none as far as their ability to increase the heart rate and develop your conditioning. They are the perfect exercise to use with a High Intensity Interval Training protocol and can be used to build both anaerobic and aerobic conditioning. Like the other exercises mentioned, burpees are dynamic and can be modified to include pull-ups and or push-ups among many other movements.

5. Walking plank

The best core exercises are the ones which require you to stabilize your trunk with dynamic movement. In that way, walking planks are a great core exercise. While traditional planks can be great for the core, walking planks have the added benefit of forcing you to stay stable while there is a shift in your center of gravity. Additionally, the arm extension is a great way to strengthen your core.

Target Zones: Training the Shoulders

Aesthetically speaking, the shoulders can be a very underrated muscle to work. People always talk about having a nice chest or big arms but in my opinion nice shoulders will make the upper body look much better.

The shoulder is a very complicated area consisting of a lot of muscles. Within that one joint you have the 4 rotator cuff muscles and the chest an lats also insert in that area. The large muscle that we generally refer to when discussing the shoulders consists of 3 heads, the frontal, medial and lateral heads. It is important to understand this when working out the shoulders.

The first thing to take into account is that she shoulder joint is a very complex joint which assists in just about every upper body movement. Because of this, it serves many different and sometimes conflicting purposes. For this reason, it’s always important to exercise safely when working on the shoulders.

As I mentioned before, the shoulder joint is the home to the rotator cuff muscles, which rotate the arm internally and externally as well as assist in stabilizing the joint. I like to begin a shoulder workout by working (lightly) on the rotator cuff muscles as a way of reinforcing my shoulders stability for the heavier lifting.

The deltoids consist of 3 heads, the frontal (located on the front of the shoulder), the medial (located on the middle of the shoulder) and the lateral (located on the back of the shoulder) heads. In order to fully develop the shoulder one would need to work all three. Front raises are great for the frontal head. Lateral raises and upright rows are great for the medial head. Rear delt flys and reverse pec dec flys are great for the lateral head. Exercises like shoulder presses are also very effective because they require all three muscles working together as well as assistance from the rotator cuff muscles.

When training the shoulders, it’s important to look at it as a complicated joint which needs it’s parts worked both individually as well as together to get the best results.

Exercise of the week: abdominal kick up

The abdominal Kick up is a great exercise to work the core.

Muscles used
Primary: rectus abdominus, obliques.
Secondary: erector spinae, pectoralis

Start: to start lie on your back and with your knees fully extended, raise your feet so that your hips are bent at 90 degrees. Your arms should be flat on the floor and should be used to counter balance the movement.

Movement: begin by pressing your arms into the floor and lift your hips off of the ground. Beginners should only Lift a couple of inches off but more advanced people can lift up to a foot off of the ground. Once you reach the top of the movement, pause and hold for a second. Finally, lower yourself slowly back to the starting position.

Weekly fitness Journal

As I planned way back in March, I finally began training at the Wat in September and I’m now a month into it. Training has been great so far. As someone new to training with a group, I started by taking the beginner classes and they have been very challenging. Kru Phil Nurse personally teaches the total beginner classes and there is a real mix of skill levels in the class. After a week or so I started taking the beginner- intermediate classes and have definitely noticed that I am playing catch up with the more experienced people.

Though I have a ways to go, I have noticed my running is really paying off. My conditioning is far better in the classes than I would have expected. I always feel fresh and ready to go which has been a big bonus. I’m really excited, already in a month I have noticed significant progress.

Workouts
Since I’m now taking Muay Thai classes 4-5 times a week, my running has tapered off a bit. I’m running 3-4 days a week. I work out with weights about 2-3 days a week.

Best time of the day to work out

A common question I get from my client’s is regarding what the best time of imagesday is to exercise. As a general rule, I would tend to say that the answer is specific to the person and people should work out at a time which is convenient for them. Not everybody is passionate about fitness and finding time to exercise can be hard enough without someone telling you specifically what time of day is best to work out. Also, everybody is different so one person may feel at his or her best while working out first thing in the morning while another may like to work out at midnight. There really is no right or wrong answer, whatever will keep a person committed to the fitness program is the best way.

With that said and all things being equal, here are some pro’s and con’s to working out at the various times during the day:

MorningOn the plus side, working out in the morning means that you get it out-of the way and are not likely to have something come up which would cause you to miss the workout. A morning workout is also somewhat of a natural energy booster and many people report that their morning workout helps give them energy for the day. On the negative side, working out first thing in the morning can put a person at greater risk for a lower back injury so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone with a lower back problem. Also, it’s usually advisable to eat two hours before a workout and this is not practical for someone working out in the morning, so many people chose to exercise on little or no food. This means that we don’t have sufficient energy to perform at an optimal level.

AfternoonOn the plus side, studies have shown that afternoon workouts are the most efficient. It is around this time that we have the right balance of concentration, energy and alertness. The body is also sufficiently warm. It can also help to kickstart the rest of the day as many of us suffer from the mid afternoon crash. There aren’t really any negatives to working out in the afternoon outside of the fact that it may not be the most practical time to exercise.

Evening–  One the plus side, an evening workout can serve as great stress relief after a long day. It is also efficient energetically if it is some time after lunch but before dinner as a person will have a good amount of energy for the workout. Evening workouts are also practical for those unable to work out in the morning. Some people, like me, like to work out in the evening because it tires you out for the night and can help with getting a good night of sleep.  On the minus side, working out in the evening means that you have the entire day for something to come up and interfere with your workout. Also, for some, it may be hard to have an optimal amount of energy after a long day at work. Finally, there are some, unlike me, who are wired after a workout and an evening workout may result in them having trouble sleeping.

As I said before, the answer to this question is very person specific and there is no right or wrong time to work out. My best advice is do what fits best into your schedule and have fun.

Exercise of the week: side lying lateral raise

Exercise: Side lying lateral raise

Primary Muscles worked: Deltoids
Secondary: Latisimus Dorsi

Equipment: Dumbbell

The side lying lateral raise is a great exercise for the shoulders. It is deceptively hard due to the angle so make sure to start with a lighter weight.

Starting: Lie on your side on a flat surface. It can be on the floor, a bench or a mat. Maintain a stable spine and keep the top leg in front of the bottom leg to create a stable base. With a dumbbell in the top hand start with your arm at the hip and the thumb pointed up.

Movement: make sure to lock your elbow in position and using the shoulder, raise your arm until your arm is pointing straight up towards the ceeling. Slowly lower the arm back to the hip. Lowering slowly will work opposing muscles and will create an even more intense workout.

Weekly Training Blog

muay_thai Hello all, I want to begin by apologizing for the serious lack of posts. I’m back on track and you can expect regular posts again.

In my entire life thus far, I really only have one true regret. My one regret is that I didn’t play football in high school. This may seem a bit silly but it’s true. The reason for this is that I have always been a very good athlete and never truly had an outlet to showcase that athleticism. Ironically, my reason for not playing was that I didn’t want to wake up early and now I wake up at 5am most mornings.
     Since high school I have obviously embarked on a career in fitness and genuinely love what I do but I have always felt like something was lacking. As it turned out, what was lacking has been something which would push my body to it’s physical limits.
     In the past 6 months, I have gone through major changes in my life and I made the decision to finally make an attempt at reaching my physical potential. I made the decision to train and compete in Muay Thai which is a form of kickboxing that originated in Thailand. I have had a Muay Thai trainer for the past 3 years but have not trained at a very serious level. I love it and I decided that this would be the perfect outlet for me. Even though I have some experence, I begin training seriously in September and for all intents and purposes, my approach will be as if I was starting from scratch. Every week I will be posting updates chronicling my progress up to my first taste of competition.

That’s all for now, check in next week as I will be posting what my pre- training workouts have been like. Thanks for reading.

PT Business Blog: Price Integrity

For the most part, a key to being a successful personal trainer means having a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. Some of us have it and others don’t. One of the most uncomfortable aspects to being a trainer is dealing with money. Good or bad, we become friends with many of our clients and asking for or having discussions about Money can be a tricky situation.

Within the bigger issue of dealing with money is the idea of price integrity. I have seen far too often trainers who have different rates for different clients. This usually happens because a potential client begins to negotiate the price down and the trainer is firm on the price. While it may not be easy to stay firm on a price, I feel like it is important to do to as a professional. At the end of the day, a personal trainer is running a business. There are very few businesses where a person can walk in and negotiate a lower price. This should apply to personal trainers as well. By maintaining a set fee structure you establish yourself further as a professional. In my experience, people will make their decission to work with you based on their connection with you and not $5 off of the session so don’t be afraid to be firm.

One way to seccessuflly deal with potential clients looking for a new deal is to offer incentives for working with you. Maybe a free session for every 20 sessions completed or something similar. This gives the client something that they may view as a deal without lowering your per session rate. Another thing that works well are package deals. Offer a lower rate if they purchase multiple sessions. This is a great compromise and works well with clients. There are plenty of other options out ther but my point is that in order to maintain a professional appearences, a trainer needs to establish his or her value and not waver from it.

Exercise of the week: Jackknife

The Jackknife is a great abdominal exercise which requires a good amount of strength to perform.

Muscles used: rectus abdominus, psoas, obliques

Start: you should be lying supine (on your back) on a mat. The arms should be extended behind you and on the floor and the legs should be fully extended and together.

jackMovement: the movement consists of two movements performed together. Part one is to curl your upper body up with your arms guiding the body through the movement. You should only need to curl up a couple of inches off of the ground. (a common mistake is to sit up too high, be careful of that)
Part two of the movement is to simultaneously lift the legs up in the air. Keep the knees as straight as possible. Attempt to touch your toes, ankles or knees.

After touching, go back to the starting position and repeat.

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