Get Toned, Sculpted Abs and Obliques


By Ritch and Mia Finnegan

Every day we see gimmick exercise equipment, routines and videos advertised as the easy way to get your own “six-pack.” To any true fitness professional, this deceptive advertising is irresponsible and unprofessional. The advertising always seems to talk about getting six-pack abs without mentioning the facts: In order to construct a sculpted waistline, you have to do more than exercise. To get the job done, you also need to use the tools of fat loss, which are nutrition and cardio. Without a healthy diet, you may end up with really well-sculpted abs and obliques lying under a layer of fat. Also, without proper nutrient ingestion, you could train your midsection to perfection, but leave the exhausted muscles starving to death, which in turn means limited recuperation and no results. So, for this project, imagine yourself in the role of an ab-sculpting contractor. For nutrition, check out the Flat Ab Diet. For cardio, perform five to seven 60-minute sessions per week, or try the “Walk This Way” routine below and you’ll be on your way.

Preliminary Pointers

Construction of any type requires tools and the skills to operate them. We will give you the tools and teach you the skills, but it’s up to you to further develop these skills through perfect practice. As we build your routine, here’s some anatomical information and a few basic form skills that will make all the difference.

• The rectus abdominis (six-pack muscle) runs from the bottom of the sternum to the top of the pubic bone. The obliques run from the lower eight ribs to the top of the iliac crest (hip bone), so think about the hips and ribs moving together rather than the head and knees moving together.

• The abs do not cross the hip joint, so visualize the contraction as an accordion compressing rather than a hinge folding.

• Open the rib cage as much as possible for full range of motion.

• Initiate the movement with the abdominal muscles that you are trying to work.

• Exhale completely upon contraction.

• Maintain muscular tension between reps.

Best Ab Exercises

Electromyography (EMG) studies have enabled us to determine which exercises most effectively cause a particular muscle group to fire. Based on that data, we have included a variety of the best ab and oblique exercises. Keep in mind that EMG is used to measure the number of motor units fired and doesn’t measure range of motion, so simply performing the best exercises is only half the game. It’s the quality with which you perform the exercises that matters. So pay close attention to the exercise descriptions. Again, having the tools without the skill makes you an apprentice. Through trial and error you will become a skilled ab and oblique craftswoman.

‘Walk This Way’ Fat-Burning Ab Circuit 

If you’re in the mood to feel the burn, then walk this way to a fat-burning ab circuit. Try to keep the pace, but check your heart rate and stay within your target zone. Keep the treadmill incline at 1 percent or less. Your abs will almost fully recover between each ab interval, so make each rep count with good form. Begin with a warm-up and stretch.

Ab interval 1: Bridges, hanging leg raises or Roman chair leg raises, Roman chair oblique raises, bicycles – 1 set of each x 10-15 reps.

Warm-up (5 minutes); speed 3.5

Pick it up (5 minutes); speed 4.0

Race walk (5 minutes); speed 4.5

Recover (2 minutes); speed 3.5

Ab interval 2: Bridges, bicycles, ball crunch (feet wide), hanging leg raises or Roman chair leg raises – 1 set of each x 10-15 reps.

Race walk (5 minutes); speed 4.7

Recover (2 minutes); speed 3.5

Ab interval 3: Roman chair oblique raises, hanging leg raises or Roman chair leg raises, bicycles (same incline), ball crunch (feet close) – 1 set x 10-15 reps.

Race walk (5 minutes); speed 4.5

Recover (2 minutes); speed 3.5

Ab interval 4: Reverse crunch (increase incline), bicycles flat, hanging leg raises or Roman chair leg raises, bicycles flat – 1 set x10-15 reps

Cool down (5 minutes); speed 3.0

Beginner/Intermediate: 3 times a week, every other day. Example: Monday-Wednesday-Friday.

Advanced: 4 times week with only two days together. Example: Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.

Beginner: 1 set

Intermediate/Advanced: 2-3 sets

Bridges

Sets: 1-3 x Reps: 15-30

Oblique Raises – Roman Chair or Hanging

Sets: 1-3 x Reps: 10-15

Hanging Leg Raises or Roman Chair Leg Raises

Sets: 1-3 x Reps: 10-15

Ball Crunches

Sets: 1-3 x Reps: 10-15

Bicycles

Sets: 1-3 x Reps: 10-15

Bridges

Start by lying on your left side with your legs and feet together. You should be leaning on your left elbow and forearm (forearm should be perpendicular to the body and flat on ground). Next, raise your hips up off the ground until your body is straight. Maintain a straight line from head to feet. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Switch and repeat. Breathe and focus on the trunk. 

Oblique Raises – Roman Chair or Hanging

Start either in a Roman chair, or hanging with hands or ab straps. Start with your knees and legs in a bent position so your thighs are parallel to the ground and your feet are hanging straight down. While exhaling and lifting your hips toward your ribs, twist to one side. Inhale and slowly lower to the start position and repeat on the other side.

Hanging Leg Raises

Take an overhand grip on a pull-up bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart, and allow your body to hang freely. Keeping your legs straight and your toes pointed, exhale and slowly lift your legs upward, avoiding the use of momentum, until your body forms an “L” shape in mid-air. Pause a moment before slowly lowering your legs back to the start.

Roman Chair Leg Raises

Keeping your shoulders down and your back flat, balance your weight evenly between your forearms and allow your body to hang freely inside the machine. Exhale and slowly lift your legs upward, keeping them straight and avoiding the use of momentum, until your body forms an “L” shape in mid-air. Pause a moment before slowly lowering your legs back to the start. Repeat.

Ball Crunches

Lie faceup with a physio ball under your thoracic spine and your hips level with your shoulders. Place your hands across your chest or behind your head as support only. Lower your upper body back around ball for a comfortable stretch. Upon exhaling, contract your abs, raising your torso up until your abs are fully contracted, rounding your ribs toward your hips. Understand the limits of flexibility in your spine; only move through a comfortable range of motion. For more isolation, move feet wider. To recruit more stabilizers and obliques, move your feet closer together.

Bicycles

Start on your back with your legs up and your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side. Simultaneously, move your left knee and right elbow toward each other. While this is happening, your opposite knee and elbow will move away from each other. Remember to lead with your ribs, not your elbows. Focus on your abdominals, bringing your knees in, not your hip flexors. At no time should you pull on your head. Exhale on one side and inhale on the other.

Correct Form for Hanging Leg Raises and Side Bends

Two popular ab exercises are frequently done wrong or are counterproductive. First, 99 percent of the population performs hanging leg raises with the wrong muscle group. Instead of using abs through a full range of motion, many people use their abs isometriclly, with the rectus femoris and illiopsoas (hip flexors) muscles in the front of the thigh used to move the legs up. Consequently, we only recommend traditional hanging straight leg raises for advanced exercisers.

Correct form would include flexion of the spine in an upward motion, not just the legs. (EMG doesn’t distinguish the difference). This is very hard to do when in a hanging position. What you should do is master the motion flat, then at 15 degrees, then 30 degrees, then 45 and so on, until you’re ready for 90. You are much better off using quality form at lower angles. You will feel it more and obtain better results because you’ll be working the muscle through its full range of motion. By the way, the only people we have seen perform this exercise correctly at 90 degrees (hanging) are world-class athletes.

The next no-no: Side bends with or without weights. Remember that when you train obliques, the last thing you want to do is build large muscles. The goal is functionally fit and well-toned muscles. Side bends will leave you with a thick waist and unless you have only 3 percent body fat, it will look like a mini-tire tube of fat.



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Get Firm Glutes and Toned Legs


Unless you’re lucky enough to live in the sun-basked South or on the West Coast, you were forced to cover up like an Egyptian mummy during the cold winter experienced by much of the country. The problem with covering up is that it enables you to forget about the fact that too much indulging occurred over the winter and the long evenings that followed. After all, if it’s out of sight, it’s easy to forget that your lower body is not as tight as it once was – or at least as tight as you want it. What can be done if your lower body needs some fine-tuning? Besides a healthy diet and increasing your cardio, try lunges for firm glutes and strong, toned thighs.

This may be time to reassess your workout strategy to optimize your results, depending on your goals. Have you boosted your cardio to four or five times a week (six is even better)? Cardio will not interfere with your resistance training objectives if you have planned your routines properly. Have you started to pay attention to what you’re eating and when you’re eating it? There are no quick fixes, but an honest, unwrapped assessment in the mirror will quickly tell you if you should pay special attention to your gluteals, or perhaps your thighs. If that’s the case, lunges may be perfect for you. The step lunge is a compound exercise, which means it is simultaneously effective for many muscles rather than focusing on one isolated muscle or region of a muscle. The lunge strongly activates and tightens the gluteal muscles, the hamstring muscles of the posterior thigh, and the quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh. These muscles make up most of the bulk of your lower body.

Closer Look at the Gluteal Muscles

There are three sets of gluteal muscles, but the gluteus maximus is the largest and thickest muscle of all the hip muscles. It contains the strongest and largest muscle fibers in the body (even surpassing the muscles of the thigh and back). The upper attachment of the gluteus maximus is on the bones of the hip, while the lower attachment is on the posterior side of the femur bone of the thigh below the hip joint. This strong muscle pulls the thigh posteriorly (backward) in an action described as thigh extension.

There are three hamstring muscles that live on the posterior side of the thigh. The biceps femoris has a long and a short head. The long head begins on posterior part of the ischial bone of the hip (you sit on this bone), whereas the short head begins along the lateral side of femur bone of the thigh. Both heads of the biceps femoris combine to become a single tendon that attaches to the small lateral bone of the lower leg called the fibula. The semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscles make up the medial (inside) hamstring muscles. The semitendinosus muscle attaches to the ischial bone of the hip and it becomes a cord-like tendon as it approaches the knee. The semimembranosus muscle is about half (“semi”) membrane (“membranous”) and half muscle. It begins on the ischial tuberosity and with the semitendinosus, it crosses to the medial side of the knee to attach on the tibia bone of the lower leg.

The quadriceps femoris (“quads”) is a family of four muscles living on the anterior (front) portion of the thigh. The rectus femoris muscle fibers run straight down from the hip, along the front of the thigh to join the quadriceps tendon above the kneecap (patella). The rectus femoris extends the leg at the knee joint. However, unlike the vastus muscles, the rectus femoris begins at the hip, so when the hip is flexed, the rectus femoris is slackened and therefore, functionally weaker than when it is straight. The vastus lateralis muscle lies on the lateral (outer) part of the thigh; the vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the thigh; and the vastus intermedius is located intermediately between the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis. The fibers from the three vastus muscles blend together to form the quadriceps tendon that attaches to the patella. It continues from the patella as the patellar ligament and attaches to the tibia just below the knee joint. All four quadriceps muscles help extend the leg (straighten the knee joint).

 

Step Lunges

It is not necessary to use more than bodyweight to start with, because the most critical element is to establish perfect exercise form. After that, you can slowly add resistance by holding a light dumbbell in each hand.

1. Stand in front of a step (approximately six to eight inches high) or a box. You could also move to a flight of stairs and work on the bottom step. Begin with your feet together and about three feet in front of the step. If you have long legs, you will have to back up so you are forced to take an exaggerated step forward with the front leg.

2. One leg will act as an anchor (e.g., the left leg). The other leg (e.g., the right leg) will lunge forward with the goal of placing in on top of the step that is in front of you. The knee of the forward leg will bend as you lunge forward, while the knee on the anchor leg will remain straight.

3. It is very important that you take a long stride with the forward leg. If you are too close to the step, your lunge will be short and this will result in forming a sharp knee angle when you’re in the lunged position. It is unnecessary and undesirable to have this acute knee angle because this increases knee stress without any advantage given to your thighs or gluteal muscles.

4. As you lunge forward, lower the knee on the anchor (left) leg toward the floor. Keep your trunk in an upright position and do not lean forward from your waist during the lunge. Lower your body toward the floor, but stop when the angle of the front knee is 90 degrees. Your knee joint should be over the ball of your foot, not a large distance in front of your foot. You should experience a stretch across the hamstrings of the anchor leg and the thigh of the forward leg. Lowering your body at the completion of each step lunge should not be a ballistic or a fast movement, otherwise you will leave yourself open to muscle damage, or you might lose your balance and fall.

5. Push your body back up to its standing position with the forward leg so that both feet end adjacent to each other. This can be done quite forcefully, as long as your knee angle on the forward leg is not less than 90 degrees when you start the return phase. Avoid pushing up with the straight anchor leg. After assuming the standing position from which you started, you can repeat this with the other leg. Alternatively, you can complete all of your lunges with one leg before moving to the other leg.

 

Lunge Tips and Alternatives

The gluteal, hamstring and quadriceps muscles are all very active during the initial thrust back to the standing position (leg extension and hip extension). The deeper the lunge and the greater the stride, the greater the stretch and activation of all of the affected muscles. However, you must work into this slowly. After you have mastered the smaller step, try a larger step or block (e.g., 12 inches) or step up two steps on a stairway. After a few weeks, you can increase resistance by holding a light dumbbell in each hand (e.g., start with about 2.5 pounds in each hand). After you have accommodated to this, and as long as your exercise form is still perfect, you can progress to heavier weights, but the goal is not to use huge weights in this exercise.

You should also stretch your hamstrings, calves and quadriceps prior to beginning the exercise. Be careful that you do not bend too far forward during the lunge. If so, you are likely using too much weight and/or your stride is too short. The second common mistake is that the front knee angle is too acute at the lowest part of the lunge, and this is correctable by taking a longer stride into each lunge.

The benefits of step lunges to your overall program will be huge and they will provide a greater spring in your step and shape in your hips and entire lower body. Even folks suffering from joint pain, including arthritis, can benefit from carefully applied compound lower-body exercises such as lunges. There is still plenty of time to lunge your way into shapelier hips and thighs, but there is no time better to start than now!

References:

Babuccu, O., Gozil, R., Ozmen, S., Bahcelioglu, M., Latifoglu, O. and Celebi, M. C. (2002). Gluteal region morphology: the effect of the weight gain and aging. Aesthetic Plast Surg 26, 130-133.

Bearne, L. M., Scott, D. L. and Hurley, M. V. (2002). Exercise can reverse quadriceps sensorimotor dysfunction that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis without exacerbating disease activity. Rheumatology (Oxford) 41, 157-166.

Booth, F. W., Chakravarthy, M. V., Gordon, S. E. and Spangenburg, E. E. (2002). Waging war on physical inactivity: using modern molecular ammunition against an ancient enemy. J Appl Physiol 93, 3-30.

Hefzy, M. S., al Khazim, M. and Harrison, L. (1997). Co-activation of the hamstrings and quadriceps during the lunge exercise. Biomed Sci Instrum 33, 360-365.

McCarthy, J. P., Pozniak, M. A. and Agre, J. C. (2002). Neuromuscular adaptations to concurrent strength and endurance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 34, 511-519.

Pincivero, D. M., Aldworth, C., Dickerson, T., Petry, C. and Shultz, T. (2000). Quadriceps-hamstring EMG activity during functional, closed kinetic chain exercise to fatigue. Eur J Appl Physiol 81, 504-509.

Stuart, M. J., Meglan, D. A., Lutz, G. E., Growney, E. S. and An, K. N. (1996). Comparison of intersegmental tibiofemoral joint forces and muscle activity during various closed kinetic chain exercises. Am J Sports Med 24, 792-799.

Vincent, H. K. and Vincent, K. R. (1997). The effect of training status on the serum creatine kinase response, soreness and muscle function following resistance exercise. Int J Sports Med 18, 431-437. 



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Kettlebell Exercises For Toned Abs


Everyone wants to have a great six-pack. Unfortunately abs are a difficult muscle to work out. Kettlebells are an excellent tool to do just that, and they can help you to transform your body.

Figure 8

The kettlebell figure 8 is a great exercise for working the core, particularly the obliques, along with balance and coordination. The idea is to move the weight in a figure 8 motion around both legs, exchanging the weight from hand to hand. Take your time with this move and practice slowly to avoid dropping the weight. Concentrate on firing the obliques as you rotate from side to side.

  1. Begin holding a medium-heavy kettlebell in the right hand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lower into a squat and bring the weight between the legs, grabbing onto the handle with the left hand behind the left leg.
  3. Circle the weight around, again bringing it between the legs and grabbing onto it with the right hand behind the right leg.
  4. Continue moving the weight in a figure 8, exchanging it from hand to hand, for 1-3 sets of 8-20 reps.

Side Bend

Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell in one hand. Start with your right hand and lean your torso to the right. Allow your arm to slowly drop towards the floor. About halfway, slowly return to the upright position. Repeat 8 to 12 times before switching hands. Perform 3 sets with a 60-second rest in between each set.

“Turkish” Get-Up (TGU)

Kettlebell Exercises for Toned Abs

The TGU is an outstanding drill for the entire body and  great for your abdominal and core muscles. Start with a kettlebell in one hand and lie down on your back. Lift the kettle ball up so that your arm is comfortably locked. Now roll over to the other side of your body (the side with your free hand) and sit up into a squat. All of this should be done while still holding up the kettlebell. From the squat position, slowly stand. Repeat this in reverse until you’re again on your back. Perform 8 to 12 times before switching hands. Perform 3 sets with enough rest in between to allow you to catch your breath.

Kettlebell Windmill

Press a kettlebell with your right arm over your head. Keeping the kettlebell and arm locked in place, push your right hip out. Lower yourself until you can touch the floor with your other hand. Make sure your torso is facing your right side.

Kettlebell 2-Hands Anyhow

With two kettlebells, squat as low as possible raising one hand above your head with arm locked, and the other kettlebell curled to your chest. Explode up to a standing position with both kettlebells extended above your head.

Some of the above kettlebell ab exercises will work not only your abdominal muscles but other supporting muscles such as your shoulders and hamstrings. Make sure to stretch your body very well before you start any kettlebell routine.

Disclaimer
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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Want a Tight and Toned Butt?


So many women are not satisfied with the firmness or shape of their gluteal muscles, so if this describes you, be assured, you are not alone. The gluteals are large muscles that provide shape and structure to the buttocks, so improvements in muscle tone and shape cannot occur without calling the gluteal muscles into at least moderately intensive activity. One-legged movements that activate the major muscles of the hip are therefore a prerequisite for laying claim to gorgeous gluteals. One-legged squats are very intensive and will activate the gluteal muscles of the working leg, but this can be too intensive if you have not developed a base for your hip musculature. Thus, if you have not already invested in some serious hip training, it would be better to embark on several months of climbing stairs, machine leg presses and lunges with dumbbells for added resistance, before you progress to the more intensive single-leg squats described here. If you have a base of strength already, you may wish to consider adding this rather intense exercise to your training program. But, there are still some cautions for you to consider before beginning the exercise, and they will be discussed.

The Gluteal Muscles

The buttock or gluteal prominence is located on either side of, and on the posterior portion of, the hip bones. The gluteus maximus is the major hip extensor and it’s the thickest muscle of all the hip muscles. It contains the strongest and largest muscle fibers in the body. The fibers of the gluteus maximus attach to the bones of the hip, the sacrum, and along the lumbar area of the hip and lower back structures. This muscle finally attaches posteriorly to the femur bone of the thigh at a section referred to as the gluteal line or gluteal tuberosity. It also has an attachment on the iliotibial band of the facia lata, which is mostly a tough band of connective tissue running from the hip down the lateral side of the thigh to the knee. The gluteus maximus appears to be well anchored here and as a result, it tends to be active when other muscles of the thigh are active.

This is the major extensor muscle of the hip joint. This means that when the thigh is fixed (e.g., your lower legs are firmly planted on the floor) and the hip joint is free to move, this muscle can extend the lower back. Because it attaches to the hip bones and crosses the hip joint, it can assist the extension functions of the lower back (e.g., erector spinae muscles). The gluteus maximus is active when movement between the pelvis and femur goes beyond 15 degrees of extension, so small depth squats or short strides on a stair climber do not get the job done.

The gluteus medius is a very important fan-shaped muscle that lays just deep to the gluteus maximus. Its fibers run between the ileum bone of the hip and the posterior part of the femur bone of the thigh. It abducts the femur at the hip joint by moving the femur laterally, away from the midline of the body. The gluteus medius has an important function in maintaining balance during walking. This is especially important as we age because weakness in this muscle increases the likelihood of falling accidents in elderly persons. It’s also important for sports requiring quick changes in body position without loss of balance (e.g., martial arts, rollerblading).

The third and smallest muscle in this group is the gluteus minimus. It attaches to the outer surface of the ileum bone of the hip just deep to the gluteus medius. It attaches to the posterior and middle surfaces of the femur bone of the thigh. Similar to the gluteus medius, this muscle acts to abduct the femur on the pelvis.

Single-Legged Squats

Exercises that activate  large muscle groups are never easy and such is the case for one-legged squats. Therefore, you should be prepared to put out a good effort, and you should also not be surprised if you feel winded after a single set.

1. Position a bench lengthwise behind you. The bench should also sit behind a fixed vertical pole, or if available, the handles of a parallel dip station. You will hold onto the pole or bar with one or both hands to support your body and to keep from falling forward or backward. Parallel (dip) bars are ideal, because you can stabilize your upper body even further by holding onto the bars with both hands.

2. If you first exercise the right leg, you will flex your left knee (non-working leg) to about 90 degrees and place the top portion of your left foot on the bench. This position puts the hip joint of the non-working leg into extension (so the heel of the left leg is posterior to your buttocks). This leg position is to help maintain your balance and to make this a one-legged exercise.

3. Your toes on the working (right) leg should be angled slightly outward and not straight ahead. This angle produces a more direct line of pull of the patellar tendon across the patella (kneecap) than if the knees were placed together and it will slightly reduce the stress through the front of the hip joint.

4. Shift your body weight to your right leg and slowly lower your body by flexing your right knee. Keep your eyes and head looking straight ahead and try to keep your back straight during the descent of your body. Continue to lower your buttocks toward the floor until your knee is about 90 degrees or until your buttocks just touch the bench.

5. Rise upward by straightening your right knee, but don’t allow it to lock out. This will maintain tension in the thigh and gluteal muscles, and will also ready you for the next repetition downward. Do not let your eyes focus on the floor when you are going up or down, because this will decrease your stability and you may lose your balance.

6. After completing about 10 repetitions with your right leg, take a short break. Then reposition your right leg so it rests on the bench. Start your squats for the left leg.

7. If you begin to struggle on the way up, simply sit down on the bench, reposition your feet firmly on the floor and stand up. It’s not worth trying to struggle and lose your balance or strain muscles responsible for stabilizing your hip joints.

8. Add more repetitions as you improve your muscle strength and stamina. After accomplishing about two sets of 30 repetitions with each leg, you will be ready to add some additional resistance. However, it is much better to attach a weighted belt (e.g., 5 pounds of resistance) around your waist because this will distribute the added resistance evenly for your thighs and hips to push against. A poorer approach is to hold a dumbbell in one hand, because you will also increase the likelihood of having some torque (twisting) applied to the hip and spine while squatting and this increases the chances for injury.

More About the Muscles

The angle between the torso and the thighs helps determine the relative activation of the gluteal muscles. If, during the descent, your back is kept vertical and perpendicular to the floor, your quadriceps will assume a greater role and your gluteals will not work as hard. On the other hand, if the torso bends forward slightly (but never forward by more than 30 degrees), the gluteus maximus is more strongly activated. However, bending over more than this will place the lower back at increased risk for injury. The gluteus maximus muscle will be most active during the standing phase (from the lowest position back to the starting position). The gluteus medius and minimus muscles are particularly active during the upward part of the lift and prevent the thighs from crumpling out to the sides.

Other Considerations and Cautions

Although this is a great gluteal and thigh exercise, it is definitely not appropriate for everyone. One problem with the exercise is that it creates a significant amount of hip and knee stress, and this is magnified in some women, where there’s an acute angle between the hip bones and the femur bones of the thigh. Without substantial preparation of the supporting structures, the hip and knee joints can become sore and acutely injured. This will not be the experience of every woman, but the wider your hips are, the more likely you are to develop an injury.

You can help minimize this potential injury by using a rather wide stance during the squat. Nevertheless, if you’re not used to regular leg presses and squats, or stair climbing (not shallow stair stepping, but actually climbing several flights of stairs), you should avoid this exercise until you’ve established a good base of strength around your hip joint, and strengthened the muscles and tendons associated with the knee joint. The one-legged squat it is an exercise that perhaps could be done for two or three months if you are symptom free (other than routine and expected muscle discomfort). Then it would be good to discontinue the exercise for a month and substitute another exercise before returning to it. While this is a great exercise that will help firm and shape gorgeous gluteals, it has a high risk factor for potential injury, so be very cautious and very strict in your exercise form.

References:

Beck M, Sledge JB et al. (2000). The anatomy and function of the gluteus minimus muscle. J Bone Joint Surg Br 82, 358-363.

Holder-Powell HM and Rutherford OM (2000). Unilateral lower-limb musculoskeletal injury: its long-term effect on balance. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 81, 265-268.

Hostler D, Schwirian CI et al. (2001). Skeletal muscle adaptations in elastic resistance-trained young men and women. Eur J Appl Physiol 86, 112-118.

Isear JA, Jr, Erickson JC and Worrell TW (1997). EMG analysis of lower extremity muscle recruitment patterns during an unloaded squat. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29, 532-539.

Kvist J and Gillquist J (2001). Sagittal plane knee translation and electromyographic activity during closed and open kinetic chain exercises in anterior cruciate ligament-deficient patients and control subjects.  Am J Sports Med 29, 72-82.

Rahmani A, Viale F et al. (2001). Force/velocity and power/velocity relationships in squat exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 84, 227-232.

Toutoungi DE, Lu TW et al. (2000). Cruciate ligament forces in the human knee during rehabilitation exercises. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon) 15, 176-187.

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The 7 Fitness Secrets We Had Always Known

Fitness Secrets

On a very hectic schedule with efforts to balance work and life, being fit is always necessary. Whether going to the gym, doing home workout routines and yoga, a lot of people haven’t considered these fitness secrets that we have always known. For the reason, that physical fitness does not just involve your body, but your mind as well.

Be conscious and composed

To stay fit means staying mindful about you. Be observant on your moods and emotions. If you are feeling anxious, acknowledge it and take three rounds of deep breathing. This helps in re-oxygenating the blood, hence, you could bring you’re A-Game before working out. This will give you the best results. Playing your favourite song super loud as mood music also helps in setting your mind.

Have a Tea Time

Taking a sip of caffeine could support in boosting your workout as it stimulates adrenal glands, thus improving endurance. A good hour before heading to the gym, taking a shot of matcha green tea could not only boost your performance but also gives you mental clarity. This is due to the potent antioxidants found in the drink. 

Take a Break

We have always put in mind that more workout means more progress, but is it? Rest has always been overlooked, yet it is the most important aspect of fitness. Over-training yourself could cause fatigue, given the volume and intensity of your routines. Oftentimes, we disregard muscle and joint pains and injuries just to keep ourselves in the fitness loop. Little do we know when the body is at rest, it is when physiological changes occur. A good eight-hours sleep and a break from time to time during workouts and exercise are substantive.

Less is more

We have always thought that the heavier the weight the more toned our body is. But for the ladies, lifting more and more weight could cause bulker arms and shoulder. To achieve sexy and slender, keep in mind that less is more. Keep the weights on the low and increase the reps; the more muscles you work out, even on low scales, would be very helpful. This also applies to the guys. If you just started working out, this principle is also imperative in the gradual development of your muscles.

Visual Aids

If you have been battling over going to the gym or not, it is because you lack motivation. Treating fitness as a competition rather a marathon would be a mental dilemma. Keep your eyes on the long-term goals as you build a strong success plan. Be specific in your schedule, write it down and put it somewhere you would always sweep your eyes to. With that, you are always reminded of your motivations.

Variety is the key

Steady and conventional are not a thing when you are achieving a certain physiological goal. You need to keep challenging yourself.  A change in routines is always an imposed need for development. Shift your exercises for beginners, intermediate and advance. Once you have achieved your goal, choose what routines you are going to maintain.

Be consistent

All work requires effort. In that case, working out should take more than just “enough”. It doesn’t mean you have to surprisingly push your body to the extremes but to be consistent and invest effort in your practice. Keep it fun and enjoyable, but at the same time keep it regular. A good week of training deficiency could cost you a month-long effort of muscle development. Hence, be very mindful of how consistent you are in working out.

Get On the Ball for Tight, Toned Abs


Likely, you’ll fit into one of two exercise camps. Either you hate abdominal work, but you do it because it is a necessary evil, or you thoroughly enjoy it. Either way, most people want to have better abs. Adding a few more sets of sit-ups is not usually the answer for producing those washboard six-packs or tightening your midriff. Don’t let excuses like “poor genetics” or a “slow metabolism” control your fitness outcome, because these excuses are usually self-fulfilling prophecies. The solution is relatively straightforward, but it is not simple. One of the “secrets” for improving abdominal shape is to increase your metabolic rate, both acutely (for a short time) and chronically (throughout the day). Usually, your metabolic rate will be elevated for several hours after a workout, so it’s important to maintain regular workouts for your metabolic success.

Cardio for at least 20-30 minutes a day will go a long way toward increasing your metabolic rate both during and after training. Cardio uses the stored fat calories as energy sources to eventually reveal a flat abdomen. However, your long-term success is improved if your lean body tissue is increased because larger muscles burn more calories throughout the day than small muscles, even if you’re only sitting at your computer and working from home. By no means do you have to add 20 pounds of muscle before your resting metabolic rate increases; even a little more muscle helps, regardless of your age. You should choose abdominal exercises that shorten and tighten the fibers in this area and not exercises that excessively stretch the abdomen. Crunches on an exercise ball are great because they optimize your abdominal contractions, while protecting your back.

Muscle Form and Function

The rectus abdominis muscle is really a series of short fibers stacked vertically on each other. The linea alba is a thin tendon-like vertical line that creates a groove in the middle of the abdominal wall so the rectus abdominis appears to have a left and right half to it. Usually, there are three additional rows of horizontally placed tendons running across the rectus abdominis. The fibers of the rectus abdominis are short and only run from one horizontal tendinous insertion to the next. When the rectus abdominis is tensed, these short fibers bulge between the tendinous grooves, almost like small ropes or blocks, giving that six-pack look. However, even if you are not interested in a six-pack, the small blocks of abdominal fibers will give your waist that tight and flat look from your rib cage to your pelvis.

If both right and left halves of the rectus abdominis muscle contract together, the trunk is flexed forward so the head and chest move closer to the hips and legs (assuming a fixed pelvis). This is the general movement of the crunch. Although there is muscle activity in all the blocks during most abdominal exercises, the upper two rows preferentially contract and shorten the most when doing crunches. However, in the crunch on the ball, the inferior fibers close to the pelvis can be effectively activated.

You can see the external oblique muscles dance and tighten, if your midriff is reasonably tight, and especially if you twist to either side. If this is not the case yet, then crunches on the ball will move you a little closer to this goal. The external oblique runs from the lower ribs by small bundles of muscle fibers that are angled in the same direction that your fingers would point, if you were to put your hands in your pockets. As the external oblique approaches the center of your abdomen, it unites with other slips of muscle fibers to form a flat fan-shaped muscle that attaches to the iliac bones of the pelvis and hip structure and also the linea alba. When both left and rights sides of the external oblique muscles work together, they can act to flex the trunk and move the head toward the feet. When one side contracts (unilateral contraction), the body twists to that side.

The internal oblique muscle sits just deep to the external oblique muscle. It attaches on a thick connective tissue sheath in the lower back, called the thoracolumbar fascia, and from the iliac bone of the hip. Its fibers run around the side of the trunk at right angles to the external oblique muscle, fanning out from their origins and running toward the head (superiorly). It attaches on the lowest three or four ribs, where it becomes continuous with the internal intercostal muscles (respiratory muscles of the rib cage). Similar to the external oblique muscle, if both left and right portions contract together, the internal oblique flexes the trunk at the waist and moves the head towards the feet. It assists in twisting the torso if it contracts unilaterally.

Crunch on an Exercise Ball

This exercise will most effectively contract the upper two rows of the rectus abdominis, but the internal and external oblique muscles will also assist in the flexion of the trunk.

1. Carefully lie back on a Swiss ball. Start by placing the ball behind you and holding it with your hands. Bend your knees and lower yourself so your shoulders and back are lying along the center of the ball. Next, extend your knees and let the ball roll a bit toward your head. Continue until your knees are at about 90 degrees and the ball is lying in the small of your back (lumbar). Your shoulders will not touch the ball, but your shoulder blades will contact the ball in the starting position. Make sure your shoes have a good gripping surface; otherwise, you may risk sliding off the ball.

2. Place your hands so that your fingertips are on either side of your head. It’s not a good idea to place your hands behind your head and interlace the fingers. This is because as you fatigue, you could pull up on your head with your hands and forcefully bend your neck forward. This has the potential to hurt your neck. Instead, with your fingers placed on the side of your head (the temple area), you cannot use your head as a lever to help you lift your head and torso off of the ball.

3. Point your elbows to the side and away from your body (not forward). Take a breath; then exhale as you bring your head and chest upward toward the ceiling. Your shoulders should rise an inch or two during this first phase; you’ll feel your lower back press deeper into the Swiss ball and the upper row of rectus abdomnis contract strongly as you come up. Do not let the ball roll forward as you come upward. And don’t let your hips drop down as your chest comes upward.

4. During the second phase, try to come up even further so your shoulder blades (scapula) lift off of the ball. But, think about curling your shoulders and upper back so your chin moves toward your chest as your upper body is curling (or crunching) toward your thighs. Hold the crunched position for a count of two.

5. During the third part of the exercise, tilt your pelvis forward and upward toward your head as your shoulders move upward. A pelvis tilt is critical because it strongly activates the lower blocks of your abdominals. All the while, try to keep squeezing your abdominals while you’re holding the pelvis tilt.

6. Inhale as you slowly control your upper body as it returns to the starting position. The ball prevents your shoulders and head from resting between repetitions so you’ll maintain tension throughout the entire exercise and between repetitions. This greatly increases the effectiveness and intensity of the exercise.

Important Tips

Getting on and off the ball can be difficult or uncomfortable if you have previously hurt your lower back. Consult your sports medicine doctor before doing this or other abdominal exercises. However, this is considered an excellent exercise even for someone with a weak back, because it does not put your lower back at risk if done correctly. Also, the ball supports your lower back throughout the exercise, whereas regular sit-ups and leg lifts jeopardize even a healthy back. Furthermore, strengthening the abdominals reduces the risk for other back injuries.

Don’t hold your breath during the crunch on the exercise ball, since this increases intra-abdominal pressure and prevents the abdominal fibers from shortening as much (although it might feel easier to do the crunch when holding your breath). It is good to either exhale as you are crunching forward, or even better, exhale before you do the contraction. Then concentrate on achieving a maximal shortening of the fibers during the exercise.

It would be impossible to attain fitness, aesthetic or sport objectives and tight abdominals if your diet is mainly high in fats and calories. Even if your diet is pretty good, you may need to add cardio to help meet your training goals. If your bodyweight goes down, crunches will become easier because you have less to lift each time you rise from the ball. Therefore, you’ll need to add a few more repetitions to continue progressing. You can also add a slight twist to the right as you elevate your shoulder blades from the ball, followed by a slight twist to the left on the next repetition. The twists increase the activation of the oblique muscles and this tightens the “love handle” region of your waist.

Probably nothing worthwhile or lasting comes easily, and this is certainly true for the abdominals. As a result, you must carefully set high standards and realistic goals for your diet and exercise program and you must establish firm deadlines for achieving success. Then, you must move your dream forward with determination; let nothing stop you from meeting those goals. So, maybe not all abdominal exercises are fun to do, but this exercise is not exhausting, yet it’s effective and intensive.

References:

Arokoski JP, Valta T, et al. Back and abdominal muscle function during stabilization exercises. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 82: 1089-1098, 2001.

Bayramoglu M, Akman MN, et al. Isokinetic measurement of trunk muscle strength in women with chronic low-back pain. Am J Phys Med Rehabil, 80: 650-655, 2001.

Bower A. Absolutely fabulous? The TV ads promise easy rock-hard abdominals, but studies show there’s no such thing as a free six-pack. Time, 158: 54-55, 2001.

Demont RG, Lephart SM, et al. Comparison of two abdominal training devices with an abdominal crunch using strength and EMG measurements. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 39: 253-258, 1999

Moore KL and Daley AF. Cinically Oriented Anatomy. Lippincott Williams & Williams, Baltimore, 4th Edition pp. 1999. 178-187.

Sands WA and McNeal JR. A kinematic comparison of four abdominal training devices and a traditional abdominal crunch. J Strength Cond Res 16: 135-141, 2002.

Stich V, Marion-Latard F, et al. Hypocaloric Diet Reduces Exercise-Induced alpha2-Adrenergic Antilipolytic Effect and alpha2-Adrenergic Receptor mRNA Levels in Adipose Tissue of Obese Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 87: 1274-1281, 2002.

Suleiman S and Johnston DE. The abdominal wall: an overlooked source of pain. Am Fam Physician, 64: 431-438, 2001.





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Kylie Jenner moans about her ‘quarantine pounds’ as she shows off ridiculously toned body


Kylie Jenner has baffled fans by moaning about the “quarantine pounds” she has to lose while showing off her ridiculously toned body in a bikini.

The reality TV star, 22, took to Instagram to complain about all the weight she has put on during lockdown.

She shared a video of herself modelling a bikini in front of a mirror and wrote: “Ok cutting off these quarantine pounds starting tomorrow.”

However, the post left fans baffled as Kylie looked to slimand toned in the video.

Kylie Jenner shared a video in which she moaned about her quarantine pounds

One shared her comments on Twitter, adding wide-eyed emojis in shock.

Kylie has previously admitted she’s been treating herself during lockdown by feasting on sugary and carb-heavy foods.

She’s shared pictures of naughty breakfasts including waffles drenched with syrup and dusted with sugar.

She has vowed to go on a diet

Fans were baffled as Kylie appears to look slim and toned

The make-up mogul has also been indulging in cake, pizza and ice cream over the last few months.

However, despite her indulgences, Kylie looks like she’s managed to stay trim.

Her lockdown treats are in stark contrast to her sister Kourtney, who seems to have maintained her strict diet over the last few months.

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Kourtney been sharing regular updates on her food intake, telling fans she’s been snacking on vegan cheese and sourdough bread with butter and honey.

While she also showed her kids tucking into watermelon and mango sprinkled with special chilli powder, and celery with almond butter.

Kylie  has been staying at home at her multi-million dollar mansion in California with her daughter Stormi, on/off boyfriend Travis Scott and best friend Stassie Karanikolaou.

Despite lockdown in California, she has managed to enjoy several nights out during lockdown, and was recently pictured hitting the town with her pal Fai Khadra.

The pair enjoyed a meal at Nobu in Malibu before heading to LA hotspot Bootsy Bellows, which is said to have opened just for Kylie’s group.

She was also pictured attending Stassie’s birthday party at her home recently along with a group of friends.





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