Category Archives: Womens leg exercises

6 Result Driven Exercises to Sculpt Your Back

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

The back is often forgotten about as a necessary section of the body to train. With a predominant focus on arms and abs, it is quite easy at times to forget about our back musculature. The real question at hand is why you would not dedicate equal time to focus on your back? A sculpted back showcases aesthetics and is also crucial for maintaining proper posture, muscular synergy and a well-developed core.   Not only does a workout program focused on our backs emphasize the points listed above, but back strength is functional. Functional back exercises range from rock climbing, loading heavy objects, and opening the door for your lovely date or marital partner.

Before getting started with our 6 Result Driven Back Exercises, let’s take a look at the anatomy of the back.

  • The lats and trapezius (aka traps) span the largest area, running from the base of the neck all the way down to the hips. They make up the bulk of the back’s muscle mass and generate the most force. The traps are not just the humps on top of your shoulders, they also dominate the inner part of the upper back.
  • The rhomboids, infraspinatus, and teres are smaller muscles that run diagonally across the width of the upper back. Aesthetically, they add definition and distinct cuts behind the scapula (your shoulder blades). They are typically targeted while working the lats and traps (via rows, pull-ups, etc.).
  • The erector spinae runs vertically in columns along the vertebrae and makes up most of the muscle in the lower back. It is a critical element in all-around core strength.

Exercises: (3 sets for 15 repetitions), progression set add weight, reduce rep #.

1) Bent over barbell rows

6 Result Driven Exercises to Sculpt Your Back

Primary Muscles: Trapezius in conjunction with you lats, abdomen and gluteus.

  1. Hold a barbell in front of your body with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Tighten your core, straighten your back, and drop your torso down to 60º.
  3. Powerfully contract your back and biceps, and pull the barbell upwards into the top of your core. Hold for 1 second and return down to a full extension. Repeat.

2) Bent-over one arm dumbbell rows

Bent-over one arm dumbbell rowsPrimary Muscles: Middle back, lats, biceps, shoulders

  1. Place your left knee and left hand firmly anchored on a flat bench. Your left hand should serve as support for your body.
  2. Maintain a tight core and flat back, contract your lats and biceps, and slowly row the dumbbell upwards until it is above your torso.
  3. Hold 1s and slowly lower the dumbbell to a full extension — you should feel a stretch throughout your upper back. Repeat.

3) Renegade dumbbell rows

Renegade dumbbell rowsPrimary Muscles: Lats, deltoids, pectoralis major, rhomboids, infraspinatus

  1. Assume push up position with two dumbbells (neutral grip)
  2. While keeping your core tight and back flat, powerfully row your right arm up until it is slightly above your torso. Do not rotate your body.
  3. Hold the contraction for 1 second, return to the bottom, and repeat for the opposite arm.

4) Military Grip Lat Pull Downs

Military Grip  Lat Pull DownsPrimary Muscles: Lats, trapezius, posterior deltoids, middle back, erector spinae

  1. Find a lat pull down machine with interchangeable clips. Place two hand grips on it.
  2. With palms facing one another, lean back 70 degrees and pull down sliding your hands alongside your rib cage, then repeat.

5) T Bar Rows

T Bar RowsPrimary Muscles: Middle back, rear delts, traps

  1. Place a loaded barbell in between your legs. You can either use a narrow-grip cable attachment and place it under the bar, or directly hold the bar with a stagnated grip.
  2. Drop your torso down to 45°, tighten your core, and maintain strong posture, keep your lower back stiff and do not let it arch.
  3. Contract your lats and traps and pull the bar up into your chest. Hold the contraction for 1 second and slowly release the bar back down to the ground. Repeat

6) Back Extensions

Back Extensions

Primary Muscles: Erector spinae, iliocostalis, longissimus, spinalis

  1. Prop yourself up on a back extension machine with your arms crossed. You can also do this on a stability ball.
  2. Without arching your back, slowly bend your torso forward until it forms a 45º angle with your legs.
  3. Squeeze your lower back and raise your body back up to starting position. Repeat.

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Sources:

  • Bryan DiSanto – 13 Killer Back Exercises To Chisel Out A Defined, V-Shaped, Undulating Back
  • Google Images

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3 Upper Body Strength Training Exercises That Improve Running Performance

ImageBy: Geoff Rubin, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Our bodies interact as one integrated system. When emphasizing proper running form, we must look at the performance of how the entire kinetic chain is moving, from the toes all the way up. While running, your arms counterbalance the motion of your legs, resulting in saved energy. The swing of the arms helps drive the body forward so the lower body is not doing all the work. Having a strong upper body bolsters a runner’s form when fatigue sets in.

Incorporate the following exercises to build upper body strength in the weight room as to improve running performance. Many of the exercises below focus on unilateral or single limb exercises to replicate proper running form. They also emphasize balance at the shoulder joint, counteracting pronation of the shoulders from the blunders of a sedentary work environment.

1: Single Arm Body-weight Row

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  • How to do it: Use a TRX or barbells set at sternum height. Grab the bar/ handle with one hand using a neutral (palm facing in) grip. Walk your feet forward so that your body comes closer to parallel with the ground. Pull your shoulder back and be sure to keep your body in a straight line throughout the movement. Pull your chest to the bar keep your shoulders square the entire time.

  • How this helps: Rounded shoulders prevent proper running form by limiting the ability of the chest to expand. Incorporating more pulling exercises in your strength training program is one way to even out the chest by retracting and depressing the shoulders. This pulling exercise forces your core and upper body to maintain a square posture similar to the running motion.

2: Torso Rotation with Resistance Band

ImageHow to do it: Secure a cable or resistance band at waist height on your right side. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold the cable in front of you with straight arms—there should be tension in the cable. Brace your core. Maintaining an erect torso and without moving your legs, rotate your torso so that your hands (and the cable) move to the left while maintaining your original head position. Rotate back to the start and all the way to the right. Switch positions so the cable is on your left side, and repeat.

How this helps: Arm swinging requires movement and a level of rotation in your upper spine. Your body rotates like a pivot.” To ward off fatigue, “we need to make sure the thoracic (upper) spine is nice and loose.” – (Ali Gelani, M.S., CPT)

3) Alternating High Knees

ImageHow to do it: Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest while keeping your left arm at a 90 degree bend as to connect the two sides and quickly place the leg and arm back to their starting positions. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest with your right arm bent at a 90 degree angle. Continue to alternate knees with the corresponding arms.

How this helps:  The action of running is a fluid forward progression with minimal trunk rotation. Incorporating the motion of high knees drives the hip forward contracting the quads while emphasizing a counterbalanced motion of the hands. This translates over to the pavement.

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Sources:
Jeremey DuVall, M.S., CPT

NIKKI KIMBALL, M.S.P.T.

Ali Gelani, M.S., CPT

Summer’s Here and the Heat is On: Summer Shorts Workout

Summer is quickly approaching leaving many people excited about the prospect of shedding layers of cold-weather clothing. This often means exposing more skin, especially if you enjoy wearing shorts. With the goal of helping fitness seekers confidently rock those short summer shorts, Fitness Propelled trainer Geoff Rubin recommends the following additions to your workout routine. These exercises are exceptional choices for targeting the muscles that contribute to toned, shapely legs, as all three exercise movements below, will work the hips and thighs. Add them two to three times per week to a program that also includes a balanced diet and you will feel stronger and look even better in your summer shorts.

Exercise 1: Stationary Sumo Squats

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Starting Position: Stand with your feet wider than hip-width (24-36″) with your arms by your sides. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Do not allow your low back to arch. Brace your abdominal / core muscles to stabilize your spine.

Movement: Drop into a wide-stance squat position (mechanics are similar to regular squat), lowering your body to a comfortable depth or until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your body weight rests on your heels. Feel free to position your arms where they assist you in maintaining balance. Return to starting position.

Sets / Repetitions: 3 sets of 20 repetitions

 

Exercise 2: Forward Lunge with Arm Drivers

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Step 1: Starting Position: Stand with your feet together, arms raised in front to shoulder height, and elbows straight. Pull your shoulders blades down and back without arching your low back. Brace your abdominal / core muscles to stabilize your spine.

Step 2:  Slowly lift one foot off the floor, balancing on the standing leg. Avoid any sideways tilting or swaying in your upper body and try not to move the standing foot. Hold this position briefly before stepping forward. The raised (swing) leg should contact the floor heel first, slowly shifting your body weight to the front foot. Plant the front foot firmly on the floor. Avoid any sideways tilting or swaying in your upper body and try not to move the foot.

Step 3: As you lunge forward, focus on dropping your hips downward toward the floor rather than forward. This will help control the amount of forward movement of your shinbone over your foot. Continue lowering your body to a comfortable position or until your front thigh becomes parallel with the floor and your shinbone is in a slight forward lean. As you lunge, bend forward at your hips, reach your arms toward the floor in front of you. Keep your back flat and elbows straight. Your hands are reaching to a point somewhat below your front knee. This increases the load on your gluteal (butt) muscle group.

Step 4: Firmly push off with your front leg, working your thigh and butt muscles, to return to your upright, starting position.

Sets / Repetitions: 3 sets of 20 repetitions (Both legs)

Exercise 3: Side Lunges

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Step 1: Starting Position: Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart. Your hands are in a comfortable position to help you maintain your balance during the exercise. Keep your head over your shoulder and your chin tipped and slightly upward. Shift your weight onto your heels. Engage your abdominals to stabilized the spine. Pull the shoulder blades down and back. Try to maintain these engagements throughout the exercise.

Step 2: Inhale and slowly step to the right while keeping your weight into your left heel. Both feet are still facing forward. Once your right foot is firmly placed on the floor, begin to shift your weight toward the right foot, bending the right knee and pushing the hips back. Continue to lunge until your shinbone is vertical to the floor and your right knee is aligned with the second toe of your right foot. Your left leg should be as straight as possible and your body weight should be distributed into the right hip. The heels of both feet should stay flat on the floor. Your arms can be positioned where necessary to help maintain your balance.

Step 3: Exhale and push off firmly with your right foot, returning to starting position. Repeat the movement for the opposite side.

Sets / Repetitions: 3 sets of 20 repetitions (Both legs) 

 

Sources: ACE Exercise Library