This post is brought to you by Ron Merryman, Youfit’s very own Executive Director of Education.
Abs are a high demand area for workouts. Most people rely on machines, leg raises or ab wheels to work out the midsection. Let’s bust a fitness myth: Abs do not connect to your arms or your legs. So, if you are trying to work out this muscle group, you better not be relying on leg raises or the ab wheel to get a good workout in. The abdominals anteriorly flex your spine so if you aren’t curling forward, you aren’t working your abs. The best Ab exercises for my dollar are the stay at home crunches and reverse crunches. You can still find these machines in the gym they are just not as sexy as some of the hot new machines out there with the expensive marketing strategies.
The wheels are definitely under-trained in our society which is so hard to understand when you understand that it is ½ of your body. When training legs it all starts with the glutes. You have the hinge and the squat. Without a great understanding of the lower body and how it works together, I personally recommend avoiding isolated movements for the quads, hamstrings and calves. These muscle groups can become dominant for the glute and effectively shut the glutes off. No one wants a bad butt. The best exercises for the legs/lower body are squats, deadlifts and lunges. The worst exercise for the lower body is the one that causes pain or contributes to shutting off the glutes. That is dependent on the person. For machines, leg curls are the best bang for your buck because most people have inactive hamstrings. Ensuring that you have active hamstrings might better ensure that you have healthy glutes. You can find the hamstring curl in our express circuit.
Suns out guns out. The great news about arms is that you are always working them. Chest, back and shoulder workouts contribute to the gun show. That being said, if you want to fine tune the pythons you can use any multitude of options. Cables, machines, dumbbells, TRX, Ropes etc.. The best advice for working your arms is to make sure that you use a weight that doesn’t cause movement anywhere else besides your elbow. Many people rock their bodies, protract their shoulders and lean side to side when they curl or tricep press. This is an indication that the weight is too much and that the supporting muscles can’t handle the load. My best exercise for the bicep: barbell curl. Tricep: French Press. Both exercises are old school iron and waste no time in doing what you want them to do. If you prefer machines, the bicep curl and tricep extension will help to isolate these muscle groups while assisting you in maintaining your form against compensation.
Cardio for Fat loss:
If I asked someone walking down the street how to lose fat, 9 out of 10 people might say cardio but what does that mean? Is it that easy? Step on a treadmill and watch the fat just fall off? Jillian Michaels says that sweat is fat crying is that true? The short answer to all of this is simply no. So what’s the best cardio for fat loss? There is lots of talk about EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) but this isn’t for the faint of heart. No pun – YES PUN. New exercisers aren’t prepared for interval training. So, if you are new to exercise…longer slower cardio sessions are best. If you have more than 20lbs to lose, lower impact cardio sessions might be best. If you are not new to exercise and you are trying to burn fat, you might want to start trying some interval training with a heart rate monitor. So what do you do if you just can’t stand traditional cardio? Cardio doesn’t just have to be done on a treadmill or machine. You can incorporate cardio right into your strength training sessions. If you wear a heart rate monitor, fitbit or jawbone, you can track your heart rate and ensure that you work your heart and lungs just as efficiently (even more) as a traditional cardio session while using resistance training. If you are really adventurous or want to try something different, break out some battling ropes and do some upper body cardio. Most people don’t realize that there are groups around the country performing undulating waves with a battling rope for up to 20 minutes at a time! That is some intense cardio!! At the end of the day the best cardio for fat loss is the cardio that you like to do. It is best to know what all the options are. Lastly, cardio like strength training needs to be varied. Too much of the same thing for too long will lead to more work for lesser results. If you like to run, try using the step like what Youfit has in our express circuit and you can simulate running the stairs at a stadium while improving your results.