This is a guest post from our friend Kodjo Hounnake. We know you’ll enjoy it.
When it comes to strength training, most people typically go for free weights and machines. But if you work out at home, you probably know how expensive free weights are; let alone full-blown workout machines. So if you get most of your workout done at home, one piece of equipment you may want to get is the resistance tube.
Resistance tubes are long rubber bands with handles on them, and are used to perform strength training exercise routines. The resistance depends on its elasticity. This means that the thicker the tube, the higher its resistance. Keep that in mind when choosing one. You certainly don’t want it to be too elastic or not elastic enough. In other words, find your sweet spot.
The different uses of the resistance tube are only limited by your creativity. For example, you can step on the tube and use its resistance to perform biceps curls and lateral raises. Also, make sure your resistance tube comes with a door attachment, as it helps hook the tube to a door or window. This further increases the breadth of exercises you can perform. For instance, when attached to a door, the resistance tube can be used to perform triceps extensions, chest fly, rows, etc.
Unlike dumbbells that have a set weight, the great thing about resistance tubes is that you can increase or decrease your level of difficulty by modifying your position. Specifically, if you attach the band to a door, the farther you move away from the door, the higher the intensity of each pull. The closer you are to the door, the easier your workout.
There are many reasons everyone should own a resistance tube:
Resistance tubes are travel-friendly: If you travel often, it is very easy to skip a workout, especially if your travel location doesn’t have a gym in close proximity. In this case, the resistance tube can come to your rescue, as it is very easy to pack, and can be used in your hotel room or strapped around a tree.
Resistance tubes are cheap: There isn’t a lot of exercise equipment out there that is both versatile and affordable. The resistance tube is one of them. You can pick one up for less than $20, so it’s great for the budget-conscious exerciser (i.e. most of us)!
Resistance tubes add variety: With regular free weights, you are limited by the number of exercises you can perform, whereas a resistance tube allows you to modify your positioning in so many different ways, that there are endless possibilities for complexity and difficulty.
Resistance tubes are not just for the pros: Because you can control the elasticity of the tubes, they can be used by beginners and pros alike. To add intensity to your workout, step away from the attachment point. (for example, if you’re doing a chest press with the tube in the door behind you, the attachment point is where the tube is held by the door). To reduce the intensity, move closer to the center of the tube.
In the routine below, you’ll see the resistance tube being used to perform some triceps, shoulders and chest exercises
About the author: Kodjo Hounnake is a fitness enthusiast turned health blogger. When he is not tweeting or blogging about home workout sand healthy eating, he is likely eating healthfully and working out at home. His wish is to contribute as much as possible to the fight against obesity in America. He recently developed a four-week home workout program to help people exercise in the comfort of their home. Kodjo has more than a hundred thousand loyal Twitter Followers at Kodjoworkout.
Dear Readers: We encourage you to subscribe to and follow Kodjo, as he’s a very sociable person.
For those of you who are new to tubes or have shoulder issues, we recommend you hold your arms lower than shoulder height for the chest press, with the tube coming under the arms rather than over.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Ears and eyes and mouth and nose. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Is that song stuck in your brain yet?
Now to get to bid-ness!
Thanks for the zippy question about push-ups, as we LOVE them! Start with full body (toe) push ups with as full a range of motion (ROM) as you can muster up with good form. In other words, get the chest as close to the ground as possible with your hands fairly wide. Even if you do just one or two full range push ups, start there. As soon as you have to sacrifice form or range of motion, switch to incline or knee push ups so you can achieve full ROM.
K: Take this approach for a week or two or five until you are up to a full set of full body push ups. At that time, still switch to the knee or incline ones once form goes, but take twice as long to push up as you did to drop down. For instance, count down for 2 counts, up for 4. This rhythm change will tax the arm muscles you are wanting to target while still working the back, chest, core. You will soon look MAHVAHLUSS!
Alexandra: My sis did a good job explaining what to do right, so I’ll comment on some of the “unique” things I see my students do that we are sure you won’t! Use a mirror to be sure.
* Butts up like they’re advertising for the weekend
* Hands above the head, which strains the shoulder area
* Butts down like a worm, which compresses the lumbar area
* Hinging from the hip and touching the forehead to the floor (quick anatomy tip: your chest is not in your forehead)
* Calling them boy and girl push ups, which makes us irritable
Remember, knee push ups are REAL push ups fair and square! For even more exciting (beyond belief) push up ideas, take a look at our Patriot Push Ups post.
Readers: How did you work up to full body push ups?
Saaay, while you’re here, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Do you want a quick and easy way to get in some exercise this holiday weekend?
Are you pressed for time?
Good news: We have a full-body, quick workout for you that requires no equipment. Heck, you can even do it at a roadside rest stop, although you might want a towel for the push-ups!
Whether you celebrate Easter or not, we hope you have a lovely, healthy, fun weekend! Now Drop and Give us 30!
Which do you prefer, planks or push-ups? Boxers or briefs?
Joe Evans, Matthew Poster and Alexandra started talking on Twitter about honoring our U.S. servicemen and women who were killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. We decided to do a Patriot Push-Ups Challenge. That meant 6,347 push-ups in the 31 days of January. We’ll do the math for you – it’s essentially 212 per day.
Halfway through the Patriot Push-Ups, we highlighted some of the participants. Now we shall show you some video of a few of our very dedicated participants. You’ll want to read all the way through![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoWVuDpVkR4[/youtube]
This is Joe Evans. We think he did all of them on his toes. At something like 4 in the morning. He is a military man. He is very disciplined. Chat with him on Twitter.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c04nHXwXQJU&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]
And this is Chuck Runyon. He owns Anytime Fitness. They donated a one-year membership to one of our challengers. When Chuck isn’t doing push-ups, he’s touring the country, talking about his book Working Out Sucks. But you know, it’s all relative. We think the 6,347 men and women who died on our behalf would much rather work out and be alive. They were killed in action. Honor them – don’t kill yourself from inaction!
Now we’ll explain what the “sort of ” alluded to at the start means: Although we’re done with the January push-ups, we are going to switch over to #PatriotAbs for February. Since it has only 29 days in the month, that means 219 per day. Please join us by commenting below. If you’re on Twitter, use the Patriot Abs hashtag listed here.
And finally…please help us congratulate Angela (@KidsHusbandandI). She is the winner of the one-year Anytime Fitness membership. She did her push-ups very diligently as she was quite motivated (even with a bad shoulder). As she said, “My motivation for doing the push-ups is to show my appreciation for the US Troops that gave the ultimate sacrifice. My father is a Vietnam Veteran and I will always hold a special place in my heart for our soldiers. As soon as I read the push-ups idea, I knew it was something I would do.”
Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker via Creative Commons
Just for fun, we threw in some video of us to prove we’re doing a variety of push-ups – toe, knee, wall, equipment, benches, etc.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EBADTtVaR8[/youtube]
And Joe’s tweet kind of sums up why we’re all doing this challenge.
If you want to join us, we’d love to have you on the team. Just do a total of 6,347 Patriot Push-ups. You can let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #PatriotPushUps, or on our Fun and Fit Facebook page.
Anytime Fitness has offered a free one-year membership to one totally lucky person who completes the challenge by January 31st. You have to live within 30 miles of one of their clubs (they have 1,805 locations so chances are good), and not be a current member. Chuck Runyon, the CEO of Anytime Fitness and author of “Working Out Sucks” is even doing push-ups!
Be sure to enter our Anytime Fitness contest.
Photo credit: via Creative Commons – DVIDSHUB
Short. Sweet. I am either talking about this post or myself! We shall see. And you shall see…how to fix some common posture issues.
First of all, we’ll start with the most common issue – forward and inward rotation of the shoulders. That’s the techhie way of saying, “Hey, your shoulders are rounded.”[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM-uFoJLpXM[/youtube]
1. Roll them up and back, shawty!
2. Strengthen the muscles in the mid-back so you’ll be straight up.
That’s it for today. Go do your exercises. And you’re welcome for the lovely combo of my striped shirt (to make it easier for you see if I’m standing up straight and symmetrically) and those Hawaiian-themed curtains. You’re especially welcome for the fact that my son likes to cut my head off in videos! What can I say – he’s a teen!
And I’ll take a moment to share a secret with you – we were listed on Shape.com as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fitness Facebook fan pages. If you haven’t checked it out, please give it a look-see lookie-loo.
Picture credit:Trigger Point Relief
Okay, we took a bit of ribbing about our previous post of useless exercises, as in “Hey, I used to do that one too. Thanks a lot for the reminder!” That encouraged us so much that we moved with no forwarding address. But before we packed up our mats, weights and “no pain, no gain” mantras, we filmed a few more “lovelies” for you. And don’t do these exercises, unless you are auditioning for “Dancing with the Dorks.” If that’s the case, do all four in high heels. Men too!
Quick quiz: What works your pecs (the chest) better, a push-up or the standing elbow squeeze? Sadly, we used to believe these might help. I think genetics and push-ups might have had more of an effect on the ol’ bust-a-roos! And nursing the evil spawn children!
This next hip-aching move was probably created by an overzealous instructor who saw a dog pissing on a hydrant. There’s no other explanation. Pain, lack of results and research kind of debunked this one too! And you’ve gotta ask yourself – um, do I ever need this particular move in real life?
Hee-haw hee-haw. Donkey kicks for the ass..inine. There are many other exercises out there that are great for the glutes (booty of perfection), but this ain’t one of ’em! We secretly call this one Donkey Spine Thrasher. Oh, yeah, we kicked some … donkey!
Do you know what ballistic stretching is? Neither did we. Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, snap. You wouldn’t do this type of stretch-release-stretch-release with a rubber band, so why subject your hamstrings (or any muscle) to it? Here’s a quick quote from one of our favorite, extra-clever research colleagues, Dr. Len Kravitz of U of New Mexico, Albuquerque: “Ballistic stretching involves a bouncy approach to reach the target muscle’s motion endpoint. A concern with ballistic stretching is that it is often performed in a jerky, bobbing fashion that may produce undesirable tension or trauma to the stretched muscle and associated connective tissues. It may produce a potent stretch reflex that will oppose the muscle lengthening.”
Okay, admit it, are any of these still in your workout regimen? Can you dump it now? Can you dump it now? How ’bout now?
Photo credits: Creative Commons (pmarkham)
Alexandra: Thanks for the compliments, Lily. I shall be sure to lord it over my sister. Kickboxing and back pain are sadly a combo about as common as college life and parties (but you graduated, so wouldn’t know anything about that)! Way back in 2000 (wow, did they have kickboxing and pain that long ago?) I wrote an article entitled “Injury Prevention in Kickboxing Classes” for IDEA Fitness Source (now IDEA Fitness Journal) that showed that injury rates to the back from kicks was as high as 23%. Can you believe it? Me neither. I was so young then and am surprised I knew how to do research. Guess I was precocious.
Kymberly: Forget talking about kickboxing, Ms Precocious Thang. I think Lily’s real question has to do with sleeping position and reducing back pain. Lily: I do like the part where you pretend to have liked my sister. She is actually a rather nice person deep down. Deep deep down. Any-who…. my suggestion is to lie on your side with your knees slightly bent. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips and therefore spine aligned. Read this article on reducing back pain while sleeping, keeping in mind that one goal of the article is to sell the nifty pillow. If you buy it, get me one too, will you?
A: Here’s my point: In addition to sleeping in a better position, you want to avoid hurting yourself in kickboxing again, I assume. Even though you won’t be in my classes anymore, I can still repeat my nags: use your core, chamber your moves, no leg flinging, and keep your kicks low. If you do everything I say (like that’s ever happened anywhere, anytime), you might avoid pulling your back muscles next time.
K: Let’s also chat a moment about any repeat back tweaks, especially if you want to get back into your kickboxing program and are a little hesitant. If you hurt your back again, take an easy walk or get on cardio equipment for a low resistance, low intensity ten minute walk the days immediately following the tweak. You can see more on how to minimize muscles soreness in our posts, “My Calves Got a Big Stiffy,” and “Running, Be Sore No More” (I am assuming “tweak” means “sore muscles,” not something else involving vertebrae or ligaments or suchlike.) By raising your core temperature and heating your muscles with the cardio activity, you may reduce the nighttime soreness. Unless you work out just before bedtime, in which case you will have insomnia and not be able to sleep anyway, so you won’t have to worry about being woken up by back pain. Problem solved! Feel free to send us your next question about timing exercise so you can get to sleep!
A: I’ll just point out that you wouldn’t have gotten hurt in MY class, Miss Lily!
Readers: Have you ever kicked too high or with bad form and ended up with back pain that prevented you from sleeping properly?
Photo credits: Creative Commons
KymberlyWilliams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams.MA
Basically you strap a 4 pound OmniBall to each hand or foot, clean your floor, have your loved one press the DVD player for you, then whoopee it up as you try to follow Aileen’s superhuman lead on screen. (YouTube link alert, so check it out). (And I do recommend you get at least one of the DVDs to go along with your OmniBall. I worked out to her 30 minute “Express OmniBall DVD” which hit all the major muscles with strength and stretch moves. Then I did some–also known as “none”–of the 30 minute “Start-Up OmniBall” workout.) Hey, the first 30 minute workout was sufficient!
Is this the next virally hot workout toy? Mebbe! Loved the DVDs as they packed a lot of training into half an hour. Aileen has a clear, clean, friendly, polished teaching style that does not veer into the dreaded “perky” or on camera fakey mode. Enjoyed her and her workout design. The transitions were smooth; the pace just about right; the balance of lower to upper to core training was on target, and she mentions modifications (though shows only a few). I made up my own options in a few places that looked more like “taking a break” and “clearing dirt out of the roller” and “adjusting the straps so the ball would stay on my feet when we switched from handheld to footheld.”
As for the equipment, I learned that a low carpet such as the one Aileen is on in the “Start-Up” DVD looked to allow better roller movement than my laminate floor (could cat fur be the culprit?). The ball itself was very comfortable and the 4 pounds each was more challenging than I expected. Those roll out push-ups are deee-vine. But the moves with my body weight over my hands and the OmniBall hurt my wrists. But then I did break both wrists falling out of a tree back in the day…. Those of you who prefer home workouts will like the combo of the ball and the program–not much space needed, easy to use and follow. Just know you will have to do a pre-workout called sweeping and mopping so that the balls can perform most effectively. I checked with Aileen about which surface the OmniBall works best on. Her report: she has had success on all the workout floors she and her customers have tried. My report: My OmniBalls want to work out at the beach…in the Caribbean….
The carrying case you get with your OmniBalls is high quality, styler-ish, and designed to hold DVDS nicely in a side pouch. I felt good carrying those babies around and I looked good too (rumor flash). Check it out yourself at aileensheron.com. For under $80 you’ll get more options than free weights offer and a new trend to be ahead of.
Alexandra: While Kymberly was lolling and rolling about, I
participated in watched the No Sit-Ups Required DVD by Christine Tusa. I mean, I would have done all the exercises along with Christine, but I had already taught 4 classes and my abs had departed from my body and jumped into my make-up bag for a touch-up! Luckily, I already teach all these exercises so I definitely know how they feel in the core! Effective! All those no-crunch, no sit-up ab moves are what make it possible to teach 4 classes without needing medical intervention! My thoughts are:
Strengths – These exercises work! Christine says “abs” a lot, which includes the entire core, transversus, rectus abdominis, obliques and lumbar spine. So all kinds of freaky Latin terms that mean “Do these moves and you will have a toned and fine-looking mid-section.” Although the moves she demonstrates may appear easy (if you just watch as I did), they are actually challenging and effective. I will just bet you 5 flying push-ups that there are some moves you don’t know, as Christine thinks a bit outside the box (or the large, medium and small ball, in this instance). (Psssst, I also hate crunches. Read our post Get Fab Abs: Part 1 to see why we think they’re STOOOOOPIT)
Things That Make Me Go “Hmmmm” – This workout might be a bit frustrating for anyone who likes to have information. You don’t get a lot of discussion about what is worked specifically, just “abs,” which bugs me as an instructor. If you are happy with that general term, this will not be an issue. I would also have liked a bit more chitty-chat about how to perform the exercises properly. Because these are non-standard exercises, I think some demonstration of how to do them wrong, and how to make them right, would be helpful. True beginners (or anyone who lost their abs and is trying to re-locate them) might not be able to tell if they’re doing things correctly.
The No Sit-Ups Required DVD is about 30 minutes long and (happily) includes some stretches and a great demo on proper posture. You will need a large stability ball, a medium ball (like the multi-colored ones you find at the grocery store in those bins that just magnetize kids) and a tennis ball. That is perhaps asking a lot, if you don’t have access to a gym or prefer to focus your purchases on other things. If so, you could improvise for the two smaller balls, although the large one is definitely necessary for this workout.
Bottom line on your mid-line – this DVD is a good core workout.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: Oh, Brad, there is a part of me that just wants to say, “because women are so totally
but that’s more of a Twitter word than a fitness word so I’ll just have to exhale and move along….
Kymberly: And a part of me wants to agree with Alexandra, but just a rare part, mind you. Some of the seeming ease women have with the equipment you list has to do with coordination. Coordination is learned and adaptable. By college age (which I assume you are or your signature needs parental permission), women have more experience, on average, than men with these specific types of balance and exercises. I am referring not only to specific equipment, but also to general activities like dance and gymnastics that require good balance, and torso and hip coordination.
The good news about coordination is that with practice, you and other men about town can achieve similar comfort and neuromuscular adaptation (a fancy way to say “coordination”).
A. I’ll speak from my experience working with thousands and thousands of exercisers over the years, many of them university students. Lots of men, especially the more broad-shouldered ones, tend to work the areas of their body they care most about, which is chest, arms and shoulders. These “mirror muscles” can look “hot” and “buff” fairly quickly, which is exactly why men care so much about them! Take a brief moment to yourself and see if you can figure out which area of the body women most care about. Well? I hope you didn’t come up with “booty” because that’s only in the top 5. Number 1 is abs.
So…..while women are getting strong in their core, men can bench-press their best friend (even the burly ones), yet have the strength of 37 butterflies in the mid-section. Stability balls (see the word “stability” there? It is just another way to say “ab strength”) and core boards (“core” is another way to say, “dang, it’s ab strength again, isn’t it?) are all about the mid-section (anywhere the belt touches, unless your belly hangs out and causes your belt to be lower in front than in back, but that’s a story for another day).
K: One more technical point about men and crunch-type exercises in the supine position (lying down on your back): On average, men have more mass distributed waist-up than women. Given men’s heavier and larger heads, wider shoulders and relatively heavier upper body mass, they are lifting slightly more weight than women. Add a destabilizing force, such as balls or boards and men simply have to work harder and get used to it. As for a bias with elastic resistance/ tubing, I have not seen a big gender difference. If there is one, I am tempted to say that women tend to follow directions better than men and tubing use is usually taught by a fitness teacher or trainer giving instruction. Let the wild rumpus controversy begin!
A: I’ll leave you with some heartening information – men tend to lose weight faster than women. Does that cheer you up at all? And Brad!? I suggest you do less of this:
and more of this:
Dear men and women readers: Why do YOU think core training is easier for women? Or do you…..?
Photo credits: Photobucket