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For those that prefer to exercise at home or while traveling, the best and most affordable option for strength-training equipment (besides your own body-weight) are Resistance Bands, aka Exercise Bands, Tubing Bands, etc. Basically, they’re nothing more than big strong rubber bands with handles on each end. Prices, brands, sizes and what they call them will vary greatly. My favorite are the “First Place Travel Bands” from the online company @perform_better. They include a door hanger, come in a Light, Medium or Heavy thickness, and currently cost $18.95 usd (I make no money telling you this.) They are superb for working the Upper Body. There are many exercises you can do with them. I recommend starting with the two exercises I demonstrate in the video above, which is a Horizontal Press and a Horizontal Row. Just make sure to attach them somewhere safely and correctly. Start slow, perfect your form, build strong. From time to time, inspect each band for any cuts or worn-out areas that may tear while using. Replace as needed. The thickness is important, because this determines how difficult they will be when stretched during use. Typically they range in thickness by colors. Different companies use different colors to represent how difficult they are. Some may be too easy, some may be too difficult. You will need to experiment. You should be able to do a minimum of 5-10 perfect reps with whatever size you choose. I do use these regularly myself and in fact used them exclusively for an entire year to train my upper body when I was age 31. Combined with a complimentary diet (and complimentary sleep), I became the leanest and most muscular I’ve ever been. I weighed almost 15 pounds heavier than I do now, mostly lean muscle (I did also squat heavy often using barbells, etc which made my hips and legs grow more muscular but also heavier). However, it did prove to be much more work than I would ever want to do again, especially eating enough healthy calories to support more muscle mass. My point though, Resistance Bands are a great option for doing upper body strength work. I’m always here if you have any questions! #bssbbooks #blueskystrongbox
New Weekly Health & Fitness Video Tipz! This week I demonstrate and describe a short and simple exercise routine that can be done anywhere by most anyone, with very little equipment. Don’t be put off by the fact that it might only take 10 minutes to do the entire workout. Don’t be put off by the fact there are only 3 exercises. I’m not going to go into great detail on this today, but just know that exercise need not be long or include lots of exercises to be effective. All 3 of these exercises will help improve the three big areas that constantly need our attention: Stretching, Strength & Stamina. Do you need to lose body fat? Then focus most of your precious energy on eating better and food prep, sleeping well and managing your stress. Most of us don’t need to exercise hours on end. But yes, we should move every day and eventually work towards 2-3 days of simple strength training each week. There will be much more on all of this in the coming year. In the meanwhile, get to work. Ask for help if you need it. You are in control.January 9, 2017
Ideas for a better warmup:
THE “Old” WARMUP (5-15min): Most people just hop on a treadmill or stationary bike for anywhere from 5-20 minutes to “warmup”. This works but it’s most likely not as effective as other options. Guys who plan on lifting “heavy” weights often ONLY warmup by doing light warmup-sets of their chosen exercise(s) for the day. Again, this also works but considering the fact that most of us know we need more stretching in our lives, including at least a few simple stretches in the warmup might be more optimal. Often guys are also scared to stretch before they lift because, “rumor has it”, you won’t get as big and strong. While it may be true that doing a marathon stretching session before lifting might be counterproductive for some, including other “types” of stretching has proven to actually increase strength & performance when done correctly. Lastly, some folks do their “cardio” first before lifting “weights”, i would assume in hopes of losing some unwanted body fat. Again, this is probably not the best idea UNLESS you are primarily seeking to increase your endurance for a specific event, competition or occupation. But for everyone else, i don’t recommend it. Ever, really. Normally, too much “cardio” before “lifting weights” interferes with… you guessed it, the weights. (And just to clarify, “weights”, “lifting”, “lifting weights” “strength machines”, “strength training”, “resistance training”, “body weight training”, “calisthenics”, “hard yoga”, “hard pilates”, etc are ALL basically the same thing!) “The primary purpose of resistance training is to get stronger, and for some, also build muscle. Both these things can also indirectly aid with fat loss. But keep in mind, getting stronger and building muscle both require INTENSITY to get the desired results. So don’t empty your fuel tank too early by doing too much in the warmup. If your goal is fat-loss, getting stronger or packing on more muscle, try including a short, intense 10-minute “interval session” after “weights” (aka “a finisher”). I’d also recommend doing your longer “cardio” workouts or group classes on another day, all by themselves, if you have the time available.
THE “New” WARMUP (5-10) So here we go. Here are some new things to try as your “warmup”. First and foremost, correct breathing is essential and often overlooked. This means breathing deeply from your diaphragm, through your nose. Keep this in mind as you warmup and proceed to the rest of your workout. I often tell people to do all movements at a pace that allows you sync your breathing with each repeat of that movement. Start your warmup by massaging some of the major muscles regions (back, legs, hips, calves) with a Foam Roller. (This is what most professional athletes do.)Most gyms have them. Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc all sell them for $30 or less). Then do a few safe Dynamic Stretches (aka “moving stretches”). Google this. Then perform a few easy body-weight warmup movements, focusing on stabilizing your spine and moving your many joints about (especially the hip & arm sockets). To summarize, you could very quickly Foam Roll 2-3 major areas of your body, do 2-3 full body stretches and 2-3 major body-weight movements (easy pushups, easy pulling & easy squatting), and be done in less than 10 minutes. You could even include 1-2 “core” exercises near the end or even devote some of the time to practice a new exercise (with no weight or a light weight) that maybe needs some practice. If you really want to hit everything, perform all the primitive movement patterns every time you warmup. (Check out any of Mark Verstegen’s Books). Research all this stuff! Educate yourself. It’s free. Keep things simple. Many things could work. Just keep this in mind, the purpose of a “warmup” is to get you prepared/ramped-up for the harder work ahead, not beat you done prematurely. The key is always to maximize your time, this should include not wasting any precious time doing useless sh*t during a warmup. You may want extend your warmup longer if you are sore or dealing with an injury, have specific “corrective exercises” you know you need to include, it’s really cold outside or you just woke up. We all know we need to stretch more, etc. Include these type things in your warmup and you can always get a lot done in each session, regardless of time. Density is the key.
p.s. Keep things simple. Always. I know i mentioned a lot of things, and that was just the silly warmup. lol. The reality is that the details of exercise and programming can easily start to bog any mind down. So don’t let it. Start by including just one new thing next time your workout. Build on that over time. The point is to move more, move better. There will probably never be a “perfect” way. And while some will waste time searching tirelessly for that, you should be out there getting work done. Time is of the essence. Ask for help if you need it. Work hard. Play hard. Enjoy.