Thursday Strength Training:

Hammer Curls:

Target muscles are the Biceps. Also works the forearms.

You will need 2 dumbbells.

Hammer curls isolate the biceps and work each arm equally as hard using dumbbells.

1. With your knees relaxed, stand upright with your legs hip width apart.

2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing toward you.

3. With you elbows close to your shoulder, raise the dumbbells near to your shoulders. When your biceps are at full contraction, pause, and then squeeze your bicep muscles.

4. Slowly lower your arms keeping your elbows close to your torso placing emphasis on your biceps.
Complete 3 sets of 12 repetitions. If you cannot, decrease the weights. If you can comfortably complete the 3 sets, increase the weights for your next workout.

Note: You should engage you abs before lifting the dumbbells when doing a hammer curl.

Work both arms at once, or one at a time.

Do not lean back when doing a hammer curl, it can hurt your lower back.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise:

Target muscles are the lateral head in the shoulder muscle group.

You will need dumbbells.

1. With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Your knees and elbows should have a slight bend.

2. With you back straight, your arms at your sides, palms facing in toward your body, raise the dumbbells. Your elbows lead the movement with your arms lifting out and away from your body as you exhale.

3. Lift dumbbells to shoulder height forming a T with your body. Pause and then squeeze your shoulder muscles.

4. In a slow and controlled manner, lower the weights toward the starting position as you inhale.
Complete 3 sets of twelve repetitions.

Note: Do not raise the dumbbells above your shoulder area.

If you experience pain or discomfort in your shoulder area, stop the exercise and review the technique. Failure to do so can cause serious shoulder damage.

Add a Dumbbell Shrug for a Super Set:

Target muscles are the shoulder muscle group.

Dumbbell Shrugs help build your back, neck, and shoulders.

1. With the dumbbells down at your sides in your start position with your palms facing in, lift your shoulders as high as possible.

2. Lower your shoulders without rolling them forward or backward to the relaxed start position.
Complete 3 sets of twelve repetitions, adding this to your lateral raises for a super set.
Note: Avoid doing dumbbell shrugs if you have back problems.

Bent over Rows:

Target muscles are Middle & Lower Back – Lats. Also works Biceps & Upper Back – Traps.
You will need dumbbells.

With proper form to avoid injury, the Bent Over Row works you back safely and thoroughly and can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells.

1. Select a dumbbell light enough for you to perform at least 12 reps. Bend your knees slightly as you pick up the dumbbells. Bend forward at the waist keeping your chest up and out. Pull your abs in toward your spine to keep your core tight. Keep your back flat and your knees slightly bent throughout this exercise.

2. With your feet about shoulder width apart, look out at about a 45 degree angle and row the dumbbells up as if rowing up a barbell. Your elbows flare out in this move. So, pull up as if you were gripping a barbell and back down.

3. Next, switch to a neutral grip position. Lead with your elbows as you lift the weights up until your elbows are just past being horizontal. Keep your arms against your sides, not allowing your elbows to flare out. Lower the weights back down without locking your elbows when you extend your arms. When you come up in this move, your palms will turn toward your sides.

4. Exhale on the way up and inhale as you lower the weights. Row slow.

Perform 3 sets of twelve repetitions to complete the exercise.

Note: If you are not exhausted after completing the exercise, try adding to the weight.

Lat bar pulldowns:

Target muscles are Middle & Lower Back – Latissimus Dorsi, -Shoulders, Upper Back – Traps. Also works the Biceps.

You will need a cable station with a Lat Bar.

The training of the Latissimus Dorsi is directly correlated to the width of the back. Lateral pulldowns effectively target the Latissimus Dorsi.

1. Set the weight at your fitness level and adjust the padding that will be directly over you quads while performing this exercise.

2. With your feet planted firmly on the floor, grab the bar overhead with an overhand grip and your hands more than shoulder width apart or as wide as comfortable.

3. With your arms fully extended, pull the bar down to the upper chest, slightly arching your back without leaning back excessively. Pull with your elbows moving down and slightly back, not straight back. Concentrate on bringing your shoulder blades close together. At the end of the move, squeeze your shoulders together slightly and hold for a split second.

4. Return to the starting position in a slow controlled move, straightening your arms. Relax your shoulders and repeat.

Perform 3 sets of twelve repetitions to complete the exercise.

Note: Changing your hand placement will target different areas of your back. A close grip will primarily target the Latissimus Dorsi. A wider grip will target the Rhomboids and Teres Major/Minor. Target your Biceps by using an underhand palms up grip.

It is crucial to learn proper form. If you are dropping your chest of shrugging your shoulders to pull the bar down, reduce the weight load.

Leaning back excessively while performing this exercise relieves stress on the Latissimus Dorsi and may increase the risk of lower back injury.

Pull ups:

You will need a pull up bar (preferably in a gym) for this exercise.

Target muscles are the Biceps, Mid & Low Back – Lats & Shoulders, Upper Back – Traps. Also works the forearms.

This difficult exercise will really strengthen your arms and gets easier the longer you do it.

1. Standing under the bar, adjust it to a comfortable height level if possible. If the bar is too high the exercise will be more difficult to perform.

2. Place your hands as far apart or close as you feel most comfortable. You may want your hands closer together when doing a chin up with your palms on the bar facing toward you.

3. With the strength of your muscles, pull your body off the floor and up to a point above the bar. Try to at least get your chin even with the bar. Once you get the movement down you will build your strength and the exercise will become easier.

Complete this exercise 10 times and try working your way up to 15 and beyond.
Note: When you use a wider grip on the bar you’re working the muscles in your back and shoulder and not just your arms.

If you are uncomfortable with the bar being too high, get a spotter to help you be safe while doing your pull ups.

You can enhance this exercise by wearing a weight belt as you become stronger.

See instructions and notes in Monday’s Training Circuit.

Perform 3 sets of ten repetitions to complete the exercise.

Try working your way up to 15 reps and beyond.

Incline Sit Ups:

Target muscles are Abdominal and Hip Flexors.

You can make Sit Ups more difficult by performing them on an incline. This will put your Abdominal and Hip Flexor muscles to task big time. However, continually challenging your core muscles will pay off as your strength and endurance increases.

You will need an incline bench.

1. Sitting on an incline bench, put your hands behind your ears and hook your legs under the pads. Do not let your feet point forward. This would be bad form, enabling you to pull with your hands. Your hands are for support only, not to pull you through the movement.

2. Keeping your abs contracted, lower your upper body as far as you can while keeping your back round. Do not hollow your back. It’s okay if you can go all the way down, but make sure you do not arch your back. Keep inhaling slowly. Only the lower back can actually touch the bench.

3. After reaching the lowest point you can get without hollowing your back, move back up while exhaling slowly. The up move can be slightly faster than the down move. Do not move beyond your hips vertical level.

4. At the end, crunch down a little and fully contract your abdominals.

Note: You can make the Incline Sit Up harder by holding a weight on your chest with your arms crossed over it.

To make this exercise easier, simply cross your arms and don’t move down as far.

Cross Body Crunches:

Target muscles are Abdominal, Obliques. Also works Hip Flexors.

In this exercise, you are forcing your opposing elbows and knees to meet in a crisscross motion.
You should use an exercise mat.

1. Laying on your back, place your hands behind your head with your elbows wide. Bend your legs up at about 60 degrees with your feet flat on the floor.

2. All in the one smooth motion, bring your chest and shoulders up while raising your left knee toward your left shoulder and bring your right elbow across your body in a twist to meet your left knee. When you make the twist, your left elbow is still touching the mat. You are bringing your chest and shoulders up on the right side and your right elbow crosses over your body to meet or go slightly past your left knee. During the motion, contract your abdominal muscles as you pull up your body and cross over your right elbow to your left knee. Keep your right foot flat on the floor.

3. Exhale during the upward motion, and inhale coming down as you flatten and open up your elbows wide, returning to the starting position. So, exhale as you crunch, touching your right elbow to your left knee or crossing slightly past it, and inhale as your return down to the starting position with your elbows wide.

4. After warming up with 10 reps, alternating sides from right elbow to left knee, and then left elbow to right knee, you can double up your crunch. On the upward motion, touch your elbow to your knee, then, instead of coming right back down, come away from the knee slightly and crunch again, touching the knee again for a double crunch before coming down. So, up to the knee, crunch, crunch, and then back down. Repeat on opposite side until you’ve completed 10 double crunch reps.

5. The third variation is lifting both knees tight together toward the opposing elbow and crunching to, or slightly past the opposing knee. So, lift both knees and twist bringing the right elbow to or slightly past the left knee. As you cross over to the knee your opposite elbow is still touching the mat as if you are rolling up onto it without bearing down. Alternate sides and complete 10 reps. Crunch on the left and then on the right for one repetition.

Complete all three variations of 10 reps each to complete the exercise of 3 sets, 10 reps each. Remember, Crunch on the left and then on the right for one repetition.

Note: Combine your abdominal workouts with a healthy diet for ultimate toning.

Hanging Leg Raises:

Target muscles are Abdominal & Obliques. Also works Forearms, Middle Back – Lats, Upper Back - Traps.

Use Hanging Leg Raises to burn lower Abdominal fat.

You will need: A pull up bar you can easily reach would be ideal.

1. Hang from the bar with a firm overhand grip.

2. Flex your hips forward and bring your knees up to your chest trying to get them as close to your chest as you can. Do not use the swing of your momentum to do this exercise. Be sure you are using your core to perform the movement.

3. When you reach the top of the movement, hold for a moment, then lower the legs back down in a slow controlled move. Remember to use your abdominals to pull your legs up and not the momentum swing of the body.

4. Do 12 repetitions of this simple knee raise.

Note: Do a diagonal knee raise to focus on the obliques (side of the abs). Like the simple knee raise, you are hanging with the shoulders away from the ears. Hold your legs together and lift your knees up toward the opposite shoulder. Be sure to focus on your obliques throughout the exercise, using your abs to control the move. Do not use momentum. Keep alternating sides, bringing the knees to the opposite shoulder and back down in a slow controlled move.

Even more challenging is the straight leg raise. Again, hanging from the bar, keep your knees straight and lift your toes all the way to the bar. It is very important NOT to use momentum. Momentum takes the abs out of the exercise. So, bring the toes up to touch the bar in a slow and controlled movement and then lower back down very, very slowly, working your abs.

If you can’t go all the way up with your toes, raise your legs until they are parallel to the floor and then slowly lower back down.

If your grip is not strong enough, use barbell straps to help keep you in place.

Straight Bar Curls:

Target muscles are Upper Arms – Biceps.  Also works Forearms.

Proper posture is essential to avoid injury and maximize effect. Once you’ve mastered the proper posture, add weight suitable to your level of fitness.

1. Stand with your back straight, feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a barbell with an underhand grip.

2. Hold the bar with your hands shoulder width apart and your palms facing up. Your palms should be facing away from you and arms fully extended toward the floor.

3. In this position, keep your elbows close to your side and slowly raise the bar up to your chest in a smooth arcing move while exhaling. You are only moving your forearms and contracting your biceps as you lift.

4. Stop when the barbell is about 2 inches from your chest, pause while squeezing your biceps.

5. Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position in a smooth controlled motion while inhaling.
Perform 3 sets of twelve reps to complete the exercise.

Note: Allowing your arm to drop back down quickly can cause severe damage to your elbows and biceps. Always use slow controlled movements.

If this is a new exercise for you, see a physician to be sure your body can handle it.

Jog 3 miles:

Jogging properly will spare you injury. To do this, you need the proper shoes and the proper form. Buy your shoes in a store that can offer professional help with the right fit.

1. When you jog, your shoulders should be back and your arms relaxed with your hands cupped loosely. Allow your arms to swing naturally in rhythm with your elbows bent at your waist.

2. Keep your feet and knees facing forward using the heel-to-toe-technique as you jog, landing on the heel, rolling forward to the ball of the foot and then pushing off from the toes.

3. Breathe in a relaxed fashion through your mouth and nose keeping your body loose and fluid. Your style will develop the more you jog.

4. Keep your body at the same angle on a hill as you do on a flat ground. Your stride shortens as you jog uphill, so use your arm swing to increase your momentum.

5. Reduce the impact on your legs and joints by jogging on soft surfaces like grass and vary your terrain with alternate routes.

6. Walk a few hundred yards to warm up and cool down before and after you jog.

Note: Concentrate on an even stride to decrease the chance of injury.

Take care not to lean backward going down a hill.

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