Do These 8 Underrated Exercises

They may not be fancy, but these exercises do the body good. So why are you ignoring them?

You go the gym, do the same routine day in and day out, and go home But is your routine pushing your body to be its best or are you sticking by a certain set of exercises just because you’re comfortable with them? Read on to find eight exercises that you – along with half the people in your gym – may be neglecting.

Bridges

They seem so basic, because they are. Resting on your forearms and toes, you hold your stomach tight in order to cause your body to levitate a few inches off the ground, keeping your back straight. Thanks to these stripped down, basic exercises, your body gets the basic results you want – a stronger, more supportive core.

Deadlifts

Though pictures of competitive body builders may leap in your head when thinking of deadlifts, you may be surprised that the average Joe or Jo should also be performing this underrated exercise. Why? Because you perform it one way or another almost every day. Whether picking up your child during playtime, grabbing a bag of 35-pound dog food from the bottom shelf, dead lifts are part of life. Getting better at them at the gym only makes sense.

Horizontal Pull-Ups

This one may be neglected because it’s not as available as others. Or at least it doesn’t seem to be available. To perform this, you have to find a bar relatively close to the ground. Hanging underneath it with your body extended out and feet resting on the floor, pull yourself up to the bar repeatedly. While essentially the same motion as push-ups or bench pressing, horizontal pull-ups push your body in slightly different ways and more closely mimic movements necessary for climbing and other activities.

Push-Ups

Always the underdog, push-ups are the essence of basic exercise, working out the chest, biceps, and triceps. In fact, if performed correctly, you’ll be forced to tighten your core muscles during each repetition, which adds to the shape and strength of your six-pack abdominal muscles.

Running

You probably don’t see a lot of body builders on the treadmill. That’s because they run at home. One of the most vital pieces to a complete workout regimen, running consistently improves your cardiovascular health, increases your stamina, and helps tone and shape your muscles.

Squats

Toss some weight on a rack and bend at the knees until you lower yourself toward the ground as far as possible. Return to your starting position and repeat – but do it all with precision and proper mechanics. You’ll feel the burn in your legs, but squats actually work quite a few other muscles and should therefore not be neglected in your routine.

Stretches

Often overlooked as an unnecessary part of working out, stretching is anything but unnecessary. In fact, if you want to get bigger and stronger and maintain your range of motion, the only way to do it is through stretching whatever body part you’re planning to exercise. There are stretches for every muscle, from the thighs to the calves to the biceps to the neck. With a little stretching, you give your body a chance to warm up and prevent yourself from potential injury.

Swimming

It offers a full-body workout that tests your stamina and strength. You’ve known it for years, but you still don’t take advantage of it. What kind of swimming should you get started with? Any kind of swimming will work, and swimming freestyle laps at a moderate pace is a great way to break your body into swimming shape.

And the Downside

Now that you know what exercises deserves a spot in your routine, you may be curious about some of the exercises out there that get too much credit.

The following are a few of the most overrated exercises that you may be doing with a little too much frequency:

  • lunges: they’re great in moderation, but it’s not uncommon to overdo lunges and wind up with knee problems down the road
  • bench press: very useful in defining the chest and arms, the bench press belongs in your routine; just be careful not to start and end every routine with it
  • sit-ups: yes, they strengthen your abdominal muscles, but you’ll never have a six-pack unless you eat right and get enough cardio to burn off the layer of fat covering up you abs
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Lies You Believe about Exercise

The truth will set you free…to exercise better!

Everyone falls prey to lies and myths on occasion. But if you buy into one of these and your exercise routine is affected by it, you could be in a world of danger. What lies may be affecting your ability to work out safely and with maximum results? Read on to find out.

Lie 1: Big Size = Big Strength

Okay, so the big guys are often rather strong (you won’t see a lot of skinny folks lifting cars), but you don’t have to be super beefy to be strong. Actually, too much muscle mass can make it difficult to perform certain activities. Instead of focusing on getting bigger, bigger, bigger, go for exercises that help you get in good shape, have good muscle definition, and retain your ability to move quickly.

Lie 2: Muscle Becomes Fat

Ever wished you could transform all of the fat around your midsection into rock-hard muscle? Of course you have. Unfortunately, you know you have to burn off the fat in order to make room for muscle. Likewise, the muscle you build up won’t turn into fat when you stop working out. You just think it did, because any time you stop working out, you see unwanted pounds show up with such speed.

Lie 3: You’ll Get His or Her Results

At every gym there are people with great bodies. Everything is where it should be and every muscle is well defined and shapely. To get the same results, you ask one of these model-looking individuals for the secrets to their picture-perfect bodies. You take careful notes and then attempt to mimic their every move in the gym. Unfortunately, what works for one person may not work for you. Every body is different and responds differently to various exercises. Since there is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise, try plenty of different workouts to find out what works best for you.

Lie 4: Tons of Gym Time, Awesome Results

If spending an hour or two in the gym five days a week is good for you, then spending five hours every day pushing your body to the max is even better – right? Wrong. Overtraining your muscles and not giving them any chance to rest can actually cause your muscles to begin breaking down and going away. On top of this, you also put your muscles at risk for some serious injuries if you spend too much time exercising – especially if you’re doing the same movements over and over again.

Good Intentions

Exercise myths aren’t always created out of malice. In fact, many of them are built on what would seem to be common sense. However, deciphering between truth and fiction is the only way to ensure your workouts are safe and beneficial.

Lie 5: Slow Is Safe

Commercials that feature outdoor groups of people enjoying a relaxing class of yoga can be misleading. While yoga and pilates can be relaxing and slow-moving ways to get exercise, they can put your body at risk for some of the same injuries other exercises pose. So before hopping into an advanced yoga class without understanding what you’re getting into, start at the beginner’s level and gradually work your way up to the more advanced, demanding classes.

Lie 6: Form Doesn’t Matter

Back when you were first starting to lift weights, you worried about keeping perfect form for each rep. But over time, you began to realize that form wasn’t as important as just getting out there and lifting. Unfortunately, your epiphany isn’t based in truth, because if you lift weights or perform other exercises without using the right form, the negative results are two-fold. First, you aren’t actually targeting the muscle you think you are unless you maintain good form. Second, improper form puts you at great risk for a variety of severe injuries.

Lie 7: Genetics Are Everything

If your parents and grandparents are overweight and out of shape, it can be easy for you to expect the same fate for yourself. But don’t let your genetics get in the way of exercise. Instead, understand that you may have to make some modifications (including what you eat) to get the results you want in the gym. You may even have to change your goals to better meet your body’s abilities.

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Protect Your Back

A few easy steps to ensure your back’s good health when you’re working out.

BodyYou’re having an amazing workout, when suddenly everything stops. A stinging sensation moves from your leg all the way up your back, sending paralyzing pain through your body. Could the pain have been prevented? Probably. Here are two tips to help you do just that.

Stretch It Out

Before beginning an exercise routine, stretching your body out slowly is still one of the best ways to prevent injury. To stretch out your back, try the following:

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground, knees bent, and both hands resting on your chest. Then allow both legs to fall gently to one side of your body, while keeping your body in its original position. Raise your legs back to the starting position and allow them to fall to the other side. Hold each stretch for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Lie on your back, feet flat on the ground, knees bent. Pull one knee to your chest at a time, holding for 15 seconds. Repeat for the other leg, and then pull both knees to your chest for one or two repetitions.
  • Resting on your hands and knees, relax your back and let it sag toward the ground while keeping your arms and legs in their original position. Once your back is as far down as it is going to be, bring your back to its original position and slowly arch your back like a cat toward the ceiling. Repeat two or three times.

Strengthen Your Core

In addition to stretching out your back, you should also actively work to strengthen your back. To do this, you’ll need to strengthen the muscles that protect your back – the core muscles. However, if you’re suffering from back pain, you should avoid some of the most common exercises that focus on the abdominal muscles, such as sit-ups (both regular and partial sit-ups) and lifting both of your legs in the air while lying on your back. You should also avoid other exercises that result in back pain or demand a lot from your back, such as standing toe touches.

If you aren’t experiencing back pain, any exercise that helps your core grow stronger is going to help you avoid back pain in the future. At the same time, you can go a long way toward protecting your back by performing other exercises properly and not involving your back in exercises that aren’t meant to work the back.

When Prevention Isn’t Enough

Despite your greatest attempts, you won’t be able to avoid back pain every time. When you begin to hurt in your back, you can often help your back pain feel better at home. A good first step is to ice your back. After a couple of days, you can alternate ice with heat.

While you may think staying in bed will help your back recover, taking bed rest will actually prolong the time it takes for your back to feel better. Instead, stay moderately active, being careful not to further injure your back. In the event your back pain doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks, seek medical attention, as it may require more intensive care than you can provide on your own.

When the Pain Is Too Much

If you’re suffering from unbearable back pain but want to stay fit, there’s good news. Getting some exercise is one of the best things for your back pain. You just have to choose carefully.

For most people with back pain, walking is a great way to stay active. But for those who can’t handle walking because of never-ending back pain, swimming in a pool is a great alternative that is usually tolerable no matter how much pain you’re in on land. So when the pain becomes too much for you to bear exercise, hit the pool!

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5 Ways Not to Exercise

BodyThat’s right – there’s a wrong way to exercise. But don’t worry! Once you know how not to exercise, you’ll be ready for some great tips that will help you maintain good form and make the most of your work out.

If you’re like most people, you don’t have a lot of time to exercise, so why do exercises that won’t help you be healthier and happier? Read on to learn what exercises you might be doing wrong and how you can enhance your form and reap the intended benefits of exercise.

Exercise No-No #1

The lateral pull down behind the head is done by pulling a weighted bar down behind your head and neck. Unless you have very mobile shoulder joints, you could be damaging the alignment of your spine when you pull the bar down or you could be putting undue strain on your shoulders, which can easily lead to injury.

Safe Alternative: Instead of pulling the bar down behind your head, try leaning back a few degrees and pulling the bar down to your breastbone by pulling your shoulder blades down and together. Contract your abdominal muscles to control your movements.

Exercise No-No #2

Raising a weight to your chin with your arm can be dangerous, as this movement can quite easily compress the nerves in your shoulder.

Safe Alternative: Perform this same type of exercise, but lift the weights to the side or front of the body. Better yet, try this exercise while bending forward at the hips and holding the weight below your shoulder and then lifting it to the side of your body. This movement still targets all the muscles of your upper back, while getting the biceps involved as well.

Exercise No-No #3

When using a weighted machine to perform leg presses while lying down, it’s easy to bend your knees too deeply as you move the weight. This exercise is designed to work your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. But if you bend too much with your knees, your pelvis can tilt and force the lower back to bear some of the weight, which can lead to serious back troubles if the exercise is repeated regularly.

Safe Alternative: Instead of using a machine, try using the resistance of your own body. Squats and lunges can work the same muscle groups with far greater safety.

Exercise No-No #4

Even if you are doing everything else spot on, wearing the wrong shoes can counteract everything. Improper footwear can increase the pounding on your joints and lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis or tendinitis.

Safe Alternative: The key is to choose a shoe that fits the exercise you are doing. Shop at reputable athletic shoe stores so you can talk to knowledgeable salespeople who can help you find the right type of shoe for your sport and foot.

Exercise No-No #5

Too many people these days are using weight belts. Unless you have a medical reason to wear one, you can probably put the belt down. Using a weight belt reduces your core muscles’ ability to work and become stronger.

Safe Alternative: Unless you are a bodybuilder, skip the weight belt and concentrate on utilizing your core muscles to build up your strength.

Eye of the Trainer

If you’re an exercise novice, a personal trainer may help your exercise program get off on the right foot. Personal trainers are great at keeping you pumped up about exercise and they are also there to ensure that you maintain the proper form and a good variety of activities while working out.

Personal trainers also provide other benefits that you may find motivational, including:

  • Fitness evaluations, which can measure where you are when you first start exercising and continue measuring your progress as you become more fit.
  • Personalized exercise programs are a great benefit of having a personal trainer. Because your trainer knows you, he or she can develop a plan that is tailored to your needs so you can reap the greatest benefit from your exercise.
  • Supervised exercise sessions are also a big plus when you have a personal trainer. It can be hard to know if you’re doing something right – or wrong – unless someone tells you.
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4 Very Unusual Metabolism Boosters

EXCLUSIVE REPORT:
REAL Slimming Secrets from the Supermarket:
“The Top 4”

This “negative” can be very positive.
Most of us don’t just want to lose “weight”. We want to lose body fat. This is what really concerns us, cosmetically speaking, at least.

Body fat, referred to by scientists as adipose tissue, is the stuff that can hide shapely, defined muscles from view, make your bikini fit awkwardly (or not at all), put rolls on your belly, and so on. To lose body fat and prevent it from finding you again, you must burn more of it than you store. When you achieve this scientists say you are in negative fat balance, and it can be a very positive thing. Indeed, if you stay in negative fat balance long enough, then you will unquestionably lose body fat.

The supermarket is a great place to go for things that can increase body fat. But it’s also home to some of nature’s most powerful tools for helping you lose it. In this exclusive report we reveal 4 natural “slimming secrets” that can immediately increase your calorie-burning rate, the first and most critical step toward achieving a negative fat balance and fitting into your swimsuit properly again.

1.   Coffee (caffeine)
While the proportions may shift from moment to moment, your body always burns a mixture of three fuels: carbohydrate, fat and protein. Thus, if you increase your overall calorie-burning rate (a.k.a. metabolic rate), it’s pretty much guaranteed that your fat-burning rate will go up, bringing you that much closer to the negative fat balance territory where real slimming occurs.


About 75% of the caffeine consumed in the United States comes from coffee, a product that no supermarket can be considered complete without. Caffeine is recognized worldwide for its ability to enhance alertness and performance. However, it also displays fast-acting calorie-burning properties. For instance, a study involving lean and overweight (obese) subjects reported that a single 100-mg dose of caffeine (equivalent to a little over 1 cup of coffee) was enough to raise their calorie-burning rate by up to 4% for 2.5 hours.

While a 4% increase may not seem like a big deal, it can turn into one. The scientists who conducted the study explain, “…if it is assumed that there is no compensatory increase in food intake, the increase [in calorie-burning rate] after caffeine would represent an energy deficit of 75-110 kcal/day. These changes may be small but over several months could accumulate and lead to substantial changes in body weight.”

But wait. Regular coffee drinkers know all too well that you can become tolerant to its energizing effects over time. Won’t the same thing happen here? Fortunately, evidence suggests that caffeine’s calorie-burning effects persist with repeated exposure. Case in point: The subjects in the above study were all mild to moderate consumers of caffeine, consuming anywhere from 250-500 mg per day, equivalent to ~3-6 cups of coffee. Yet they all enjoyed a calorie-burning boost from the relatively small dose given to them.

2.   Hot Pepper (capsaicin)
The waiter places a delicious meal in front of you that includes a spicy curry sauce. You devour it. For the next 30 minutes your calorie-burning rate is cruises at 10% above baseline, equivalent to burning an additional 129 Calories per day, or 27% of the caloric value of the entire meal. Sounds too good to be true? This fictitious scenario became a reality at Kyoto University in Japan when scientists gave young women a 481-Calorie meal consisting of a yellow curry sauce containing 3 mg of capsaicin.

Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the sharp, and for some of us, intolerably painful, sensation produced by eating hot red peppers. It’s also to blame for the beads of sweat that appear on your forehead as you do so. Thus, it may come as no surprise to learn that deep inside the body capsaicin can increase your calorie-burning rate by stimulating a process known as thermogenesis. Thermogenesis essentially involves the release of calories in the form of heat. Once released, they can no longer be stored as body fat. In addition to increasing thermogenesis, capsaicin has been found to improve meal satiety (i.e. how full you feel after eating), thereby reducing your risk of overeating. In animal studies it has been reported to increase calorie-burning rate and reduce body fat.


Of course, the single most powerful way to increase your calorie-burning rate and get into negative fat balance is to exercise. Here, too, capsaicin may boost your slimming efforts. When scientists gave healthy subjects capsaicin an hour before performing low-intensity exercise (stationary cycling), they burned more fat. The increase was impressive enough that the scientists suggested capsaicin be used as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of elevated blood lipid levels and/or obesity.

3.   Cinnamon
Cinnamon often serves as a flavorful addition to carbohydrate-rich meals. How great is it, then, to learn that it may help “push” more of those carbohydrates into lean muscle and away from fat cells (adipose tissue)?
Most of the carbohydrate calories you eat are eventually converted into glucose (a.k.a. blood sugar). The hormone insulin helps direct glucose into your body’s cells, including muscle cells. The more sensitive your muscle cells are to insulin, the more efficiently they can scoop up glucose and store it for later use, such as providing your muscles with energy during exercise. All other things held constant, this leaves less glucose available for your fat cells, which might otherwise use it to make body fat.

Of the many plants studied to date, cinnamon has been reported to be among the most powerful in terms of its ability to enhance insulin sensitivity and keep blood glucose levels in check. When added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, it reduces the rise in blood glucose normally experienced afterwards. While the effects on insulin sensitivity may take a couple of weeks to manifest, the improvements in blood glucose control appear virtually immediately.


So cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity and improves blood glucose regulation. Great. However, does this mean it can help you lose body fat more quickly? In fact, this ancient spice might help you do more than that. Dr Richard Anderson (Ph.D.) at the US Department of Agriculture has conducted numerous studies on cinnamon.  He says that if cinnamon is consumed long-term, it can enhance lean body mass (this includes muscle) and reduce body fat, something he and his scientific colleagues demonstrated in a study performed in 2006.

4.   Green Tea
White, green and black varieties of tea all contain caffeine (anywhere from ~14-61 mg per 6-8 oz serving). But it’s green tea that seems to get the most attention from scientists when it comes to burning fat. And its fat-burning effects are due to more than its caffeine content.


In one frequently cited study, healthy young men were given a green tea extract three times per day. Their 24-hour calorie-burning rate was 3.5% higher than that of subjects taking a placebo. This was equivalent to burning an additional 200 Calories per day -more than enough to eventually produce substantial weight loss and reductions in body fat.

Not only did green tea cause the subjects to burn more calories, but a larger proportion of the calories burned were determined by the scientists to have come from fat. That is, green tea was pushing them closer towards negative fat balance territory, if not pushing them right into it. Based on the scientists’ comments (they used the term “remarkable” to describe green tea’s effects), they seemed to be quite impressed. Indeed, green tea’s thermogenic effects in this study were as powerful as much larger doses of caffeine.


Summary: The “Top 4” REAL Slimming Secrets

Nothing worthwhile comes without  hard work, and that includes building a swimsuit-ready body. That’s why it’s important to make use of whatever tools nature has available to help you safely and effectively lose body fat and avoid regaining it. There may be more “slimming secrets” out there waiting to be discovered, but the top 4 revealed here –coffee (caffeine), hot red pepper (capsaicin), cinnamon and green tea are among the most powerful studied to date. Individually, their calorie-burning effects are virtually immediate. Combined, they may greatly simplify even the most formidable of fat loss challenges.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
Dulloo et al. (1989). Am J Clin Nutr 49:44.

Matsumoto et al. (2000). J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 46(6): 309.

Shin and Moritani (2007). J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 53(2): 124.

Hlebowicz et al. (2007). Am J Clin Nutr 85: 1552.

Solomon and Blannin (2009). Eur J Appl Physiol 105(6): 969.

Ziegenfuss et al. (2006). J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 3:45. Dr. Anderson’s comments were provided during personal communications conducted in March 2010.

Chim et al. (2008). J Anal Toxicol, 32(8): 702.

Dulloo et al. (1999). Am J Clin Nutr 70: 1040.

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