Exercise Archives

Developing Killer Legs

A well developed pair of legs not only looks good but is also a great part of a healthy lifestyle. Having muscle strength and endurance in your lower body just makes life easier. You can perform better in sports, lift things more easily, and just generally get more out of life.

So how do you develop a killer set of legs? One of the best ways is by utilizing the properties of a heavy-light workout. You alternate between heavy days and light days to build strength, power, endurance, and shape. This type of program is great for a wide range of people because it covers more aspects of usefulness than just building bigger muscles; we are also looking to build useful muscles.

The Workout

You will have a heavy day and a light day. You can mix up days however you would like such as simply alternating every-other workout or even going two-heavy days followed by two-light days. You might even decide to mix things up by doing both those options to keep your legs guessing! No matter which workout you are doing all reps should be done at a slower pace and perfect form should be the goal.

The Heavy Day

We will focus on the big exercises that build muscle size and strength. A rest period of 1 to 2 minutes between each set is recommended. Warm-up with 10 minutes of light cardio to get blood flowing in the muscles and then do light stretching for the entire lower body before you get started. The final set of each exercise should be the heaviest weight you can handle for the prescribed reps with prior sets being warm-ups progressing up in weight.

  • Squats – 5 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions – If you are new to squats start in a Smith Machine to help with balance and form.
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 4 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions – Use a barbell but only load 25 lb plates or stand on a box to ensure maximum stretch.
  • Leg Press – 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions – Aim for a full range of motion. Don’t load on more weight than you can handle then just do half repetitions.
  • Lying Leg Curls – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions – Go slow and hold the contraction for a two-count at the top.
  • Hack Squats – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Seated Calf Raises – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions – Go very slow and hold the stretch for a 3 count and contraction for a 3 count.
  • Standing Calf Raises – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions – Go very slow and hold the stretch for a 3 count and contraction for a 3 count.

The Light Day

Light days are all about endurance and muscle shape. Warm-up with 10 minutes of light cardio to get blood flowing in the muscles and then do light stretching for the entire lower body before you get started. For these exercises you will pick a weight that you can handle (70% of maximum for rep range) and then proceed to do all 5 sets with that weight resting only 30 seconds between each set.

  • Dumbbell Squats – 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Lunges – 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Hamstring Curls – 5 sets of 12 reps – Standing or lying down, single or double leg.
  • Leg Extensions – 5 sets of 12 reps
  • Standing Calf Raises – 5 sets of 12 reps – Full range of motion with no bouncing.
  • Donkey Calf Raises – 5 sets of 12 reps (or seated calf raises if your gym doesn’t have a donkey machine)

The light day might seem easy at first but you should really start to feel it by the third set. If not make sure to increase the weight slightly the next session. But, even if you don’t feel it too much during the workout, be prepared for some additional soreness the next day because endurance work targets different muscle fibers. Make sure to stretch after each workout as well to speed up recovery.

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Body Hacks for a Longer Life

The longer life spans afforded by modern medicine have not included increases in the quality of life for many people. Living longer likely won’t seem all that important, if you can’t remember the basics of how to take care of yourself. Preventing senility and cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, is partly about keeping the mind stimulated and forming new connections.

There are several ways to keep the brain functioning at top performance. Like physical exercise, the mind needs exercise every day. A routine activity, like crosswords, sudoku, jigsaw puzzles or chess, will maintain mental performance. Reading different types of books, including different genres in fiction and non-fiction, works even better by stimulating new connections.

Remember, part of the goal is to stimulate the brain in new ways. Toward this end, it may be time to revisit painful science or English classes that gave you trouble in school. New hobbies or activities, like learning a language, can also be extremely beneficial.

body hack

From: Top Health Degrees

Getting The Most Out Of An Exercise Ball

Exercise balls, also known as stability balls, add a new dimension to traditional yoga. These balls help to alleviate built-up tension by relaxing the back and neck muscles. They are a tool that can be added to any yoga program and are especially useful for people with a bad back.

Exercise Ball

Exercise Ball

Using these balls will help you stretch your back out gently so that you can physically feel the tension draining away. Simply rest against the ball and then lean back slowly and carefully. As you begin rolling you’ll start to feel loose and relaxed.

You’ll be able to assume new positions that cannot be reached with regular stretching or yoga. While it may seem unnatural, you’ll have to curve your body over one of these exercise balls to see for yourself just how natural it feels. The ball seems to absorb your weight, which results in a feeling of weightlessness. It is a relaxing stretch while at the same time a very powerful one.

Many yoga enthusiasts cannot perform regular yoga positions due to problems with their back. For these people, exercise balls give them the chance to be a yoga participant. Some back issues leave a person with a severe shortage of flexibility and they simply cannot move their bodies enough to enjoy regular yoga.

Not just for bad backs

These balls are great for flexible strong people that just want to add more to their exercise routine.  Stability balls can offer a balance challenge to many yoga poses. If you have reached a certain plateau with your yoga and are ready to go on to a new level, an exercise ball can give you the extra challenge you need.

Yoga balls also strengthen flexibility and endurance. As you follow your yoga program you’ll be able to stretch out in various ways to make your body more flexible. You’ll find your endurance rise as well. You’ll have to concentrate on balance and this will give you a better ability to focus on the task at hand and the rest of your yoga workout.

Besides yoga…

These balls aren’t used only for yoga, however. Some people are replacing the chairs in their office with an exercise ball. While sitting down to attend to their office work they are developing their abdominal and back muscles since it takes an extra effort to remain balanced on the ball.

As well, these balls are commonly used by pregnant women during labor. The woman sits with her back against the ball, which helps the baby get in the right fetal position. These balls are growing in popularity as a birthing tool and have assumed a new identity – the “birth ball” – in the process.

Exercise balls offer a well-rounded yoga routine for people with bad backs or for enthusiasts that want to add something new to their practice. There are also specific exercises available that require the ball in order to be performed. If you haven’t yet had the chance to try one out for yourself, give it a go. You’ll find that your yoga performance will rise to new levels faster and with less effort.