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Home Workouts for Beginners

workouts for beginners

If you type in “best beginner exercises” on Bing you will end up with over 10 million results. If you then do the same on Google, you will notice the results are a bit more, giving you over 20 million pages to sift through (that’s a hell of a lot of results!).

If you are a beginner at working out this is going to be a real pain for you as you probably won’t have the time to trawl through all of these different work outs.

So let’s whittle it down for you and take a look at one exercise program that is a fantastic way to get you started on your successful path to physical fitness.

This is a very easy program to get you started and not only is it free, you can do it anywhere and at any time without the need for any extra equipment.

If you are an absolute beginner at working out, this is definitely the program you should have a go at.

Body Weight Training

You may have heard of the term callisthenics and this is what this exercise form used to be called.

All that is needed is your own body weight and you will then perform exercises such as sit-ups, planks, squats, pull-ups, chin-ups etc.

Have a look at the reasons below as to why body weight training is so great for beginners:

1 – There are so many different body weight exercises that you can do that are so easy and that is why they are perfect if you are a beginner. You can perform these more or less any way in order to suit your own physical needs.

A body weight training plan can be designed so that it is perfect for you if you are just starting out on the physical fitness path or if you need to do it for rehab reasons because of an injury, there are all different scenarios as to why you may start body weight training.

2 – These types of exercises can be done anywhere.

A lot of beginners in fitness do not want to join gyms for a number of reasons, the main one being the intimidation factor where you will be faced with lots of fit looking, muscly bodies etc as this can make you feel self-conscious.

So much so that you stop yourself exercising because you don’t want to face the gym!

Body weight training uses your body only and therefore you can complete the exercises anywhere and at any time of the day or night.

3 – Body weight training is great for everyone no matter what stage you are at with your fitness. Beginners can complete these exercises but also even the fittest athletes will use these as well in order to remain healthy, muscular and toned.

4 – Another major benefit of body weight training is the cost. Because all you need is the weight of your own body, you can get fit and work out without it costing a penny.

Of course you can buy small additions to help you if you want, such as resistance bands or dumbbells, but this is not necessary.

You can get into great physical shape by using the weight of your body, along with gravity and this is why body weight training is a great program to start off with if you are an absolute beginner in physical fitness.

 

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Why and how to fit some exercise into your day

Fat or fit? Your choice
How to fight it

Why and how to fit some exercise into your day

If you are reading this there is a fair chance you feel, that you need to fit some exercise into your day?  Here is what two major health organisations, say about our expanding waistlines and obesity.

The UK

One in four British adults is obese, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, prompting fears that the UK has become  “The fat man of Europe”

The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, ahead of countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, the 2013 report says.

Obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years and, on current estimates, more than half the population could be obese by 2050.

Europe’s obesity league:

  • UK: 24.9%
  • Ireland: 24.5%
  • Spain: 24.1%
  • Portugal: 21.6%
  • Germany: 21.3%
  • Belgium: 19.1%
  • Austria: 18.3%
  • Italy: 17.2%
  • Sweden: 16.6%
  • France: 15.6%

Source: The State of Food and Agriculture 2013 (PDF, 2.44Mb), United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization

The USA

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in America says: “More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese.

Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. [Read guidelines]

The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight”

This part is the Why we need to exercise more

You’ve read the scary stats above.  I’ve read all sorts of reasons for us getting fatter.  And they make sense.  Just consider our modern lifestyles for a moment.

  • We use our cars to much
  • We watch television to much
  • We spend too much time sitting down in front of our computers
  • Office  jobs don’t help stop expanding waistlines
  • We eat lots of hi-calorie foods
  • Many of us live sedentary lifestyles

I’m sure you can add to this list in your own mind… We all know what we have to change.

We now know the Why of fitting exercise into our daily lives is so important.  So how can we?

Plan it

  • First of all, plan to fit some in and commit to it mentally. Write down how and when you are going to exercise during the day.
  • Keeping a log is proven to help!  You may think this step is unnecessary.  But don’t skip it, if you have a written plan you are more likely to stick to it, than if you just tell yourself “I’ll do such and such on such a day.”

There is a Monday and a Tuesday etc.  I promise you Suchaday will not appear anywhere in your week!

Body Weight Training

  • The resistance of your body can be used for strength training virtually anywhere and at any point in your day. Thanks to gravity and your body weight, this is what creates the resistance and enables you to complete exercises such as squats, planks, sit-ups, push-ups etc.  Bodyweight training is a great way to fit powerful exercise into your day.

If you can find a spare 15 minutes each day to complete a couple of sets of any of these exercises it will help. Even 5 minutes a day and doing 1 set will help.

If you are totally new to the terminology of exercise and fitness.

  • A rep is the completion of one exercise for example a squat, and a set is the number of times that same exercise has being completed.

Dumbbells

  • Dumbbells are handy things. With a set of light weights there will always be a section of the day when you can fit in some time to exercise with them.  Even… dare I say it while watching the telly.

Put down the remote and pick up the weights 🙂

Make exercise a priority

  • Some of us may not prioritize exercise as much as we should as we prefer to do other things like surf the net or perhaps open a bottle of something and chill with a tasty snack.

But when you feel like this, you need to remind yourself of all of the great health benefits of exercising and try to stick to your plan.  Remember writing it down?  Remember why you wanted to start walking down the fitness path in the first place.

If you concentrate on fitness and your goals more, you are likely to do more workouts and get the rewards and benefits that a higher level of fitness brings.

Leave the car at home

Think about every journey you make “Do you really need to take the car?”

Try to walk more.  Do you have a dusty bike somewhere in the garage or the garden shed?  Now is the time to oil it up and get cycling.

Simple lifestyle changes

Simple things make a difference.  Don’t get your groceries delivered carry them yourself.  Every little bit of exercise will help you get fitter and stay limber and mobile.  Everything you do today will help you tomorrow.

It is a fact that not keeping and working on our muscle mass now while we can, will have a strong effect on the quality of our life in old age.

So… Plan it (step one) and start a better healthier future today.  Short exercise sessions do help and it does all add up.

As always your comments are welcome.  Do you have any suggestions or good ideas about ways to fit in a little extra exercise, into our daily routines?

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Is it Possible to Get Fit with 10 Minute Workouts

Short home based workouts
Does a short Workout help?

The Dream!

At some point or another we have all heard about the amazing results you can get from supplements or the miracle results you can get from doing hardly any exercise at all, without putting any real hard work in.

Most of the time these are dangerous and nothing but hype so don’t be fooled!  I saw one recently that very nearly hooked me, but I when I did a search for product reviews, the fact that it was a £99 auto ship product; definitely put me off ordering.

I also read on fitness forums how such products are pointless anyway. If you don’t put in the work of exercising to tone and build a physique, all the supplements and vitamins in the world are not going to help you.

So how can you get fit?

What other myths are out there?  My research led me to write this post.  Some of you may have also heard that you can get fit from working out for just 10 minutes a day according to health professionals and physical trainers.

But let’s have a think about it, is this really possible? And what, if any… exercise can give you great health benefits in only 10 minutes.

Here are some facts!

When you change your routine you are changing your whole body chemistry.

You may be quite healthy and then decide to stop exercising and eat only foods that are bad for you. If you do this you are going to become unhealthy very quickly.

Also, if you are very unfit and inactive and then decide to start working out, you are going to become fit quickly.

The thing to remember is any exercise that you complete, even if it is just for 10 minutes, is definitely better than not doing any exercise at all.

With this in mind, if you are not doing any sort of exercise and then start finding the time to complete just 10 minutes a day, you are going to start reaping some great health benefits.

Losing body weight

In order to get rid of 1 pound of body weight, you need to lose 3,500 more calories than what you actually take in.

So it is going to take some hard work and exercise if you want to burn a lot of fat, lose weight and get into shape. Regular, longer workouts will be required to do this.

This is because you can roughly burn 100-150 calories if you complete 10 minutes of exercise.

When you are burning calories through actual physical activity, this is making your heart and respiratory system stronger as well as your muscles, which is going to lead to physical fitness.

Putting that into perspective you would need to complete around 23-35 sessions of 10 minute exercises in order to get rid of 1 pound of body weight.

Although that may seem like a lot, it is not a pointless exercise to complete just 10 minutes.

That is a key point, what I actually took away from my research is the fact that regular longer sessions are the way to go, but if you are pressed for time a quick 10 minute training session is not a waste of time.

 

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Stretching and Shortening Muscles during Exercise

Stretching and Shortening Muscles

Eccentric and concentric are terms used when you are stretching or shortening your muscles.

When you complete an exercise like running, throwing, jumping etc. These use both types of actions as your muscles are stretched and then shortened very quickly.

This is known as the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC.)

It is important for us to know this as it is a far more efficient way for us to complete our exercise and a lot of us are even using it without even knowing.

For example; A football player needs to bring back the kicking leg first before they can kick the ball or it is not going to go very far!

Try it for yourself, place a ball on the floor and from a standing stance bring your leg straight forward and kick the ball. It doesn’t move all that far!

However, if you first bring back your leg (eccentric) and then quickly shorten the stretched muscles (concentric) by bringing your leg forward you are going to get a much bigger energy release and able to kick the ball a lot further.

You can also take the example of a vertical jump.

If you try and jump straight up in the air from a standing position you won’t get very high up. But if you bend down and then jump up you are going to get a lot higher.

In order to get the best efficiency out of the transfer of energy is to make sure that the stretching to shortening of the muscle is immediate as if it’s not, the stored energy will be absorbed by the stretched muscle.

For example, if you bring one leg back as if you were going to kick a ball.

Instead of instantly moving your leg forward, keep it stretched back for a couple of seconds and then move it forward. You will see exactly how much of the forward power had reduced.

Weight training is an example of a measured loss as when you are at the bottom of the bench press just for that 1 second you will get a 55% loss of force than if your weight was straight away pushed back up.

If you are completing an exercise routine than employs the SSC concept (also known as plyometric,) always start with a warm-up and finish with a cool-down.

Ensure you should have between a 24-48 hour recovery times in between your sessions.

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The Benefits of Strength Training and its Effects

Strength Training

A lot of research has showed us that strength training provides us with a lot of positive effects on our brain and a certain mental health conditions are improved.

These can include:

• Anxiety
• Chronic Pain
• Cognition
• Depression
• Fatigue
• Self-esteem
• Sleep

So let’s look at how it all works and how a physical based training program improves our mental state.

Anxiety

The result of research has shown that low-moderate intensity strength training can reduce anxiety in individuals that do not have an anxiety disorder. However, more is not always better for us as was show in another study that high intensity training did not produce as good results what low-moderate training did.

Chronic Pain

If you have osteoarthritis and lower back pain and you complete strength training, this is better for you and will minimize the effects of both problems more than if you were to complete just aerobic exercise or both aerobic and strength training together. If you suffer from knee or hip osteoarthritis, strength training has shown to be the best type of exercise to reduce the pain.

Cognition

In older adults that complete strength training, studies have shown improvement in cognitive-type brain functions. However, greater improvement was shown if these older adults completed both aerobic and strength training, which is the opposite to the chronic pain studies mentioned above.

Depression

We are aware that any form of exercise is great for reducing depression, however strength training by itself has shown the best improvement, more so than if you combine aerobic and strength training together. Regarding depression, in younger healthier adults, their results showed an even greater improvement than the older adults.

Fatigue

Strength training on its own has shown more improvement than any drug treatment or cognitive behavioural treatment for improving fatigue. Many of us may think that completing any sort of exercise would make us more fatigued but it is actually the total opposite!

Self-esteem

If you complete low-moderate strength training you are going to tone and define your muscles. You will also be able to regulate your weight better and in general you will look and feel a lot healthier and better within yourself. Everybody knows that if you look better, you will feel better!

Sleep

Results from sleep studies have shown that you will get a better sleep if you complete high intensity training rather than low-moderate. However, it is worth completing any sort of strength training if you have trouble falling asleep as this can still benefit you.

The benefits that we get psychologically from strength training come from improved neural adaptions or how your brain activates muscles and the more training you do, the more these connections seem to improve.

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Use a Foam Roller for Exercise Workouts

Foam Roller for Exercise

If they are used correctly you could easily use a foam roller for exercise.

If you do not have a masseuse around after you have completed a strenuous workout, a foam roller can also relieve the tension in your muscles and improve your flexibility through massaging deep muscle tissues.

As well as helping you recover after a workout, they can also help you build muscle due to their unstable and curved surface.

Executive Director of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Medical Fitness and Wellness Center Tyler G. Travis says; “It can build muscle as when you try to balance yourself on one, you recruit more muscles, especially in your core, to perform the move.”

Your core is something you use every day without even realising it, from lifting things up, walking, running, stretching etc. and a foam roller will help you build core muscle strength.

What you should aim to do is introduce a foam roller into your current bodyweight exercises.

The plank is a popular bodyweight exercise and if you were to add a foam roller into your routine, this is going to make your muscles work a lot harder.

Place your hands onto the roller rather than the floor when you get into your plank position and with your feet on the ground remain as stiff as possible.

If you hold this position for 30-60 seconds and complete this 3-5 times this is going to really work your gluteus maximus, back, abs and shoulders.

Don’t be surprised if you find it 10 times harder than when you do it without the foam roller!

You could also try a variation to the normal push up you do in order to really work your abs, biceps, shoulders and chest.

Put your left hand onto the foam roller and your right on the floor as you normally would.

Whilst pushing upwards, ensure the majority of your weight is on your right hand and once you are in the up position raise your left hand and roller until it is parallel to your chest.

5-8 reps 3 times for each hand will give you a great workout and variation to the normal push up.

You can use your imagination when using a foam roller for exercise, these are just 2 examples of how to make your workouts more difficult and give your strength training program the kick it needs!

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How to Use Resistance Bands for Muscle Building

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a great way to exercise as they are very cheap to buy and can be carried with you everywhere due to their size.

If you are at work or out on the road you can take them with you and complete a workout wherever you happen to be.

If you use resistance bands as part of your workout they will burn calories and give you fat fighting benefits.

You will get a boost of energy the same as with all exercise but the question is can you build muscle with just exercising with resistance bands?

Whenever we lift something our muscles are strained, we may as well say that micro-sized tears occur and these injure your muscles.

At this point your body will mend the torn muscles and at the same time your muscles will become stronger and bigger, they will not return back to their previous strength and size.

This is why people that workout regularly and consistently increase their weights will build stronger muscles.

Choosing Your Resistance Bands.

If you are going to purchase resistance bands you will notice that there are a number of shapes and sizes for you to pick from, however one thing that is consistent in all brands is that they will have a certain weight resistance.

For example a 7 pound band will not allow you to stress your muscles more than 7 pounds (hence why a lot of people think that these resistance bands will limit how strong you can become.)

You can use resistance bands for muscle building in all kinds of ways but if you limit yourself to using up to a 20 pound band, your muscle growth will eventually reach its limit.

You can continue to use the same band and this will build your muscle endurance, it just won’t give you bigger and stronger muscles.

Can you use Resistance Bands for Muscle Growth?

Working out with resistance bands will help you build muscle as long as you keep working out with bands of higher resistance.

This will then allow the muscles to tear and then re build themselves.

You should pick resistance bands that will stack together and that way you can add as many together as you need to in order to increase your muscle size.

Before you know it after a few work outs with a number of resistance bands your muscle strength will have reached new heights.

You should bear in mind that to develop massive muscles you are then stepping up into the bodybuilding zone and will have to start using weights in a gym, or start bodyweight training.

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How to do the Plank Exercise

Plank Exercise

Plank exercises are great as they require no equipment at all and can be done any time anywhere, it is an isometric exercise that builds your abdominal core which includes your oblique’s (also known as love handles), lower back muscles, your abs and also the muscles that stabilize your back.

Your Basic Plank Exercise

So how do you perform a basic plank? Firstly, lay on the floor face down. Raise yourself by resting the front part of your body on your elbows and then rise up onto your toes.

Your arms should be directly under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.

It may take a while for you to find a comfortable position so you can move your arms further out or in, up or down and the same with your feet.

Ensuring you keep your back flat, your body should be in a straight line from your head to the ends of your heels.

Contract your abs by tightly pulling your belly button up towards your spine and keeping a flat plank stance.

This will feel tough and you may start to shake. Hold this position for as long as you possibly can.

When you can no longer hold the stance, lower your body to the position you started in.

It will get easier with the more planks that you do and you will find you can hold the position for longer after a while because your core abs will become stronger.

This exercise is also great for your posture.

Plank Exercise Variations

The plank exercise mentioned above is your standard everyday plank, but there are a few different variations that you might also want to try.

A side plank is very popular with people that want to target their obliques.

This starts with you lying on your side with your whole body weight supported on one forearm.

Ensure your body stays in a straight line from your upper shoulder to your feet and rest the arm that you have free on your hip that is facing towards the ceiling.

Hold this position pushed up from the floor for 3 seconds keeping your core abs tight. Repeat this as many times as you can and make sure you work both sides to avoid injury.

You can also try a variation to the face-down plank by supporting your body on both of your feet and extending one of your arms out for 3 seconds (so you are only resting your upper body on one arm.)

You can also try this with your legs and raising one leg. Again ensure you work both arms and legs with these variations to avoid any injuries.

A lot of experts prefer and agree that the plank exercise is better for you than crunches if you want to strengthen your abdominal core.

You also have less risk of any damage to your spinal column.

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Isometric Exercises a Basic Guide

Isometric Exercises

Static stretching resistance training with no additional equipment is the easiest way to describe isometric exercises.

Dynamic stretching works our muscles through a full range-of-motion, whereas isometrics are done without a change of movement.

Isometric exercise is great because it lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate as well as developing the strength and stability of muscles.

A wall sit is an example of an isometric exercise.

You will need to get yourself into a squat position with your back against a wall and knees bent at a 90 degree angle.

You will start to feel a burn in your thighs eventually but you need to hold this position for 10-30 seconds and then release. 3 sets is usually a good amount for this exercise.

There are 3 main categories of isometric exercises, lower body, upper body and abdominal:

Lower Body

A wall sit as mentioned above is one lower body isometric, leg pull-downs is another.

This is done by standing with your back flat against a wall. Raise one leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor.

Next lock your hands under your thigh and pull upwards but at the same time push down with your hamstring. This will generate the resistance isolated to that particular muscle group.

Upper Body

As the title suggests, this includes our biceps, triceps and chest.

Hand presses are a good example of upper body isometrics. Interlock your fingers into a pray position.

Tighten up your chest, biceps and triceps and at the same time push your palms together. Hold this for 10-30 seconds or for as long as you can and rest.

Complete this for a total of 3 sets.

Abdominal

Your oblique’s and core muscles will be worked with abdominal isometric exercises.

A great example of these are planks. Get yourself into the push-up stance but use your elbows to hold yourself up rather than your hands.

Whilst keeping your back and legs in a straight line, hold there for 30 seconds. Release and then repeat this exercise 3 times.

You can also try a side bridge plank which starts in the same position; however you turn to one side and support your body with just the one arm and elbow.

If you are going to try this one, make sure you switch sides.

If you have trouble with joint pain, isometric exercises will help as they do not involve working the joint but restore damaged or arthritic muscles that surround the joint.

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Calisthenics Workout a Quick and Easy Guide

Calisthenics Workout

Calisthenics is an exercise program that is all-natural.

This means that you need a very little amount of equipment, just your bodyweight.

With this program you will build lean muscle, improve your endurance, strength, balance, posture and flexibility.

You may not be familiar with the term calisthenics, but you will have heard of some of the exercises involved such as, squats, lunges, push-ups, dips, pull-ups and crunches.

These calisthenics workouts are ones that can be done anywhere even when you travel as you just need your own bodyweight.

For example, take a counter push-up. Lean forward against a counter top edge at roughly a 45 degree angle keeping your elbows bent.

Use your arms to push yourself away from the countertop making your arms fully extended and then lower yourself back to the starting position.

This is one repetition that involved nothing but your bodyweight and a kitchen worktop.

When you first start working out it is important to complete 3 days a week of exercise with a day off in between to allow your muscles to rest.

The actual time of the day or night that you complete your workout is not as important.

There are 2 main categories when exercising: Normal and circuit. Generally with a circuit, this focuses on a full body workout, whereas a normal one will work a certain group of muscles.

For example, a circuit routine may consist of 10 chin-ups, 10 push-ups, 10 lunges and finishing with 10 crunches.

A normal routine could be 5 sets of 20 chin-ups with a minutes rest in between each set.

There is many a calisthenics workout that you can do to suit your needs.

If you want to include chin-ups and pull-ups you will need a horizontal bar, but if you don’t have one at home and don’t want to buy one, most playgrounds usually have many of them.

You will find most of the equipment you need around your home to complete nearly all exercises, for example, you can use the front of a kitchen chair or any flat horizontal surface around that height to complete your dips.

Warming up and cooling down are both very important before and after any exercise routine.

A warm up will get your blood pumping and your muscles warmed up. Examples of these include wrist rotations, running for 2 minutes on the spot and arm circles.

Cool down your muscles to avoid injury by completing static stretches. Move the muscles that have been worked and stretch them as far as they can go and hold for a few seconds.

If you are a regular traveler, calisthenics exercises are fantastic as they require hardly any equipment and are designed to be simple.

You can cater them to how you would like to work out, whether that be a group of specific muscles, or a full-body workout.