Tag: Fitness

Core Stabilization is Key to Success in Sports Athletes

Central Core Stabilization is Key to Success in Sports

Every professional athlete understands the importance of central core stabilization. And while some still underestimate its impact on one’s exercise effectiveness, more and more people start to implement core training into their workout routine. Ask any famous professional coach like Lucas James, and they will tell you that you will not get anywhere if you do not take care of your central stabilization.

Why is that? We will discuss it in a minute. Below, you will find all the information regarding central core stabilization, how it is essential to success in sport, and the best core exercises to add to your training routine. Read on and see for yourself how to take your workouts to the next level.

Definition of Core Stabilization

Core stability can be defined as an ability to control your body position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis and leg. That allows optimum power generation, distribution, and control of force and motion along the kinetic chain.

Central stability comes in handy, especially during the rotational movements, which are
required in almost any sport. In other words, every time you swing a tennis racket, shoot a football, throw a handball, or turn when skiing, it is your core stability that allows you to do it effectively.

That is not all, though. Strong central stability also allows athletes to hold their body
positions for an extended time. For instance, if you are a swimmer, your core is vital for you to maintain your hydrodynamic line in the pool. The same goes for runners, who require a strong core to maximize their power output.

Central Stabilization & Injury Prevention

Athletic performance is one thing. However, as mentioned in the title, there is much more to central stability than meets the eye. Whether you are an athlete or not, core stability plays a significant role in injury prevention.

Focusing on central core strength will help you stabilize injury-prone body areas and
rehabilitate lower limb injuries. That is because when the core is weak, an athlete starts
overusing other muscle groups in order to generate the force and movement they want. That puts more strain on muscles and joints, increasing the risk of injuring them.

For example, various researches have discovered that knee injuries are usually associated with weak hip muscles. Those force athletes to shift weight from their trunks to their knees, making them more prone to tearing. Because of that, a majority of conditioning and rehabilitation programs have started to emphasize hip strengthening and central stabilization.

Best Exercises to Strengthen Your Core Stability

Now that we have discussed how central core stabilization works and why it is the key to success in sport, it is time to show you what you can do to strengthen your core and improve its stability. Let’s take a look at some of the best exercises you can incorporate into your training routine:

1 – Marching Hip Bridge

This exercise focuses on lumbo-pelvic stability. To perform it, lay on your back with hands placed by your side. Then, lift your hips to the bridge position. Next, lift the right foot off the floor to 90 degrees at the hip and knee. Return the foot to the floor and do the same thing using your left foot. Repeat it 20 times while keeping the hips lifted and maintaining a neutral pelvis.

2 – Supine Toe Taps

Supine toe taps is a perfect exercise for core stability. Lie on your back on the floor with your arms by the side. Engage the abdominal muscles and draw the navel toward the spine.

Then, lift your knees to 90 degrees, and on a two-count, lower your right foot to touch the floor. Perform the same thing with your left foot, and repeat it 10 times.

3 – Plank With Torso Rotation

This one focuses mostly on core strength and shoulder stability. Position yourself into the traditional forearm plank. Then, lift the top arm over your chest and use your rib cage to rotate your body and draw your hand underneath the ribs. Repeat it 10 times and change sides.

Final Thoughts on Core Stabilization in Athletes

As you can see for yourself, central core stabilization is vital for improving your athletic performance. Moreover, even if you are not a professional athlete, maintaining a strong core will spare you a lot of trouble with potential injuries. With that in mind, make sure to implement the exercises provided above into your training. Also, remember that there are many more core stabilization exercises. We have merely scratched the surface.

For more information, we recommend contacting a professional physical therapist. They will tell you everything you need to know about strengthening your core. Then, contact a coach who will ensure you do all the exercises correctly. Central stabilization is not something you should underestimate, so it is vital to make sure you do everything the right way. Otherwise, you risk severe injuries.

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What Percent Body Fat Do You Need To See Abs

What Percent Body Fat Do You Need To See Abs

Have you ever wondered what percentage of body fat you need to be at to see your abs? If you are into fitness, or have ever cut weight to achieve your best look, then you have likely pondered this question. And although this number and exact percentage is different for everyone, there are some good general guides to get you close. This article will cover those.

As a general rule, 10% body fat for men (14-17% for women) is the key number to really show your abs. You will start to see the definition of your abs before you get down to 10%. However, to really see the definition of your 6-pack, then 10% is your best target number.

Getting to 10% is simple, but it’s not easy. And always keep in mind that most of the work and heavy lifting is done in the kitchen, not in the gym.

Many people have the opposite perception of this important fact. You can do ab work and core work every day for hours, but if your diet is full of fat and unhealthy foods, then it’s a nearly impossible journey to get to 10%.


The Fundamentals of Getting to 10% Body Fat

Reality is, to cut weight and get to 10% body fat you simply must lose excess fat on your frame.

And the most effective way to do this is to consume less calories than you burn over a given period of time. And that period of time of course depends on your starting point.

If your body fat percentage is 25% or higher, then that is defined as obesity. So the journey will take longer but it’s still totally achievable. Whereas if your body fat is 15%, then you are very close to your target and it will not take as long.

However, if you have ever cut weight and reduced your body fat to 10%, then you likely know that the last 5% are oftentimes the most challenging. If you are obese, or severely obese, the weight falls off rather quickly when you start dieting and cutting weight. The first few months it’s possible that you might lose 5 pounds a week just with small changes.

But as your body adapts and becomes more efficient, and your metabolism changes to adjust to the reduction in calories, it is natural for the process to slow and become more challenging. But look at this as a positive thing, as your body is becoming more efficient.

Check out our friends at A Lean Life for more info on the process of getting lean.


Reduce Carbs…But Not Entirely

Most people trying to get extra lean need to reduce their carbohydrate intake. Carbs are a major stumbling block for many people, and the key to getting to 10% body fat is reducing carbs.

Cutting back on carbs has plenty of health benefits like losing weight, and it can also get you closer to getting your target % body fat. But how does one actually do this when most of us have diets that include a lot of carbs?

Here are some Diet Tips to get you to 10%:

1 – Enjoy healthier drinks.

Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda or iced tea are high in sugar and carbs. If water quenches your thirst, but not your craving for something tasty to drink, add lemon or sugar-free sweeteners like Stevia, Erythritol, or Xylitol. This will make your iced tea or water pretty tasty!

Also, fruit juices contain lots of carbs and so much sugar. Even those that claim they’re 100% fruit! So, you might as well eat the actual fruit so you can have some fiber too.

2 – Low-carb snacks can also make you feel full.

If you get really hungry a few hours before a meal, enjoy a quick fix of low-carb snacks like nuts and cheese—make sure you have them in small servings! Protein bars (100 to 250 calories) also work really well.

3 – More veggies, less bread and potatoes!

Especially when eating out, a lot of meal choices include bread and potatoes. Check with the restaurant if you can replace these high-in-carbohydrate foods with healthy vegetables instead. White bread and pasta are considered simple carbohydrates, and are on the no-go list when you’re cutting to get shredded. Not to be mistaken with complex carbs, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread (which are healthy and necessary).

4 – Load up on protein.

This will make you feel full because of the “fullness hormone” PYY that’s released by protein. It reduces the feeling of hunger, and can help stop certain cravings of more food. Have at least one of these with breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

  • Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Lean meats (sirloin steak)
  • Fish
  • Poultry (white meat chicken – grilled, no skin)

5 – Read food labels and count carbs!

Choose food items that have lower carb and sugar content, and also watch your calorie count. A good target is a calorie deficit of 200-300 calories per day.

You’ll lose fat, but not too fast where you start to lose muscle also.

You can even try out using nutrition trackers – look for available apps on your phone. These trackers will help you keep count of your carbohydrate intake.


The Bottom Line on Body Fat for Abs

If you want to see your abs, then you need to be 10% body fat (or at least very close). It’s not an easy journey, but it’s very doable with some discipline and a lean diet.

Learn more: Fat Loss Forever >>

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A Practical Guide To Level Up Your Exercise Routine

A Practical Guide To Level Up Your Exercise Routine

When you started working out as a beginner, your ultimate goal was probably building a consistent exercise routine. Of course, it’s one of the best habits to have since consistency is an essential element of discipline. But once your body has adapted to what you’re doing and reached a certain level of fitness, any change may be necessary.

Locking into your established workout routine for a long time can set you up to a plateau, demotivation, and even burnout. Note that you’re likely to see a decrease in performance when you experience any of these things. By all means, you would not want that to happen after working so hard on your fitness goals.

Thus, if you’re beginning to lose interest and focus during your workouts, it’s most likely one of the indicators that you need to switch things up. So, here is a practical guide to level up your exercise routine.


Make An Assessment

Before making any changes, it’s essential to assess where you are right now and what you’re currently doing in terms of your fitness goals. Are there any significant improvements? Or are you getting the same results? Do you want to see better changes in your body? Take the time to look at the areas where you excel and need some progress.

You may want to consider the following factors when making an assessment.

Nutrition

Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, or get a ripped body, you must evaluate what you’re currently eating. Many people struggle with nutrition, which has a great impact on their bodies. Remember that what you’re feeding yourself can either build or ruin your fitness goals.

If you think this is one of your weak areas, you may visit websites like BarBend.com to give an idea of what other nutrients are a good addition to your diet.

Exercise

It’s also important to assess what exercise routines you are already doing and your progress in each of them. Are you performing endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises? Or are you only focusing on one type of training or workout?

Besides assessing the forms of exercise you’re doing, you may also have to consider the following aspects:

  • How hard are you working out?
  • How often are you doing the exercise?
  • And how long are you exercising?

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Make Necessary Changes

Once you’re able to get an assessment of your current nutrition and exercise plan, it’s easier for you to make the necessary changes. That said, you have to adjust your goals and apply new steps to acquire the fitness level you desire.

Change Your Exercises

When you do the same exercises repeatedly, your mind space out as your body goes through the familiar patterns. As a result, you may experience boredom and eventually reach a plateau. That’s why adding variety to your exercise routine is the first alteration you may have to make if you want to level up.

Besides performing unilateral exercises, you may use something unstable like a ball or foam roller to add a challenge to your balance training. You can also do two exercises at once, such as squatting with an overhead press.

Varying your workout can help you stay physically challenged. But change it up based on your experience level and training cycle.

Change Your Frequency

How often you should do your routines depends on the type of training you’re doing and the goal you want to achieve. Let’s say you’re weightlifting, and your goal is to be fit and strong. You may stick with two or three days of bodyweight workouts every week. However, you may have to lift every day if you want to build lots of muscle.

When your goal is building up, it would always make sense to increase the frequency or the number of days you work out in a week. But then again, it’s advisable to change the number of workouts you have each week occasionally to prevent adaptation. For instance, you usually do four workouts per week. You can then try doing three workouts if you have hit a plateau.

Change Your Intensity

Another way to level up your exercise routine is to change your intensity. It’s basically how hard you are working out. Remember that intensity has nothing to do with how difficult or easy your workout session is. But it’s more of how much weight you lift in comparison with your reps.

If you notice you can do more reps than before, try to increase your workout intensity. You can do it by moving faster, adding vertical challenge, increasing resistance, cross-training, or interval training.

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is necessary to level up your exercise routine to the next level. However, be mindful not to overdo it.

Learn Proper Recovery Techniques >>

Change Your Workout Length

How long you should workout is a personal preference. But in order to make more consistent gains, you can alternative your workout length from time to time.

If you also want to increase your fitness level, you may try to work out six to nine hours a week. However, you must pay attention to how you feel before, during, and after every workout.

Change Your Diet

Fueling your body with essential nutrients is part of leveling up your exercise routine. Keep in mind that your body needs a certain amount and type of food to work out at an optimal level. Your muscles also need it to recover after doing a lot of physical activity. Taking supplements is a good thing to add to your diet plan to level up your fitness routine and performance.


Takeaway

There is no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to taking your exercise routine to the next level. It depends on a number of factors, such as your current progress and desired fitness goals. But learning how to pay attention to how your body responds is of the utmost importance.

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How Muscle Imbalance Affects Your Workout Routine & How to Fix It

How Muscle Imbalance Affects Your Workout Routine & How to Fix It

What happens when you get muscle imbalances, and how does it impact your workout? Learn what you can do to fix muscle imbalance to get the most out of your workout routine.

The Easy Way to Find and Fix Muscle Imbalances

When you put in time in at the gym, you want to see positive results. All that hard work should reward you with a good physique. But sometimes you could run into an obstacle such as muscle imbalance. Although fixable, this is a condition that makes it difficult to reach your fitness goals on time.

You can also use muscle recovery supplements to reach your goals faster, but this is a whole new topic for discussion.

Once you notice some muscle imbalance symptoms, it’s important to fix them ASAP. And here we will teach you how to do it.

What is Muscle Imbalance?

Before we address how to fix muscle imbalance, it’s important to know what this is, exactly. Muscle imbalance is a condition when a muscle (or muscle group) on one side of the body is bigger, weaker, and/or smaller than the one on the other side.

While this condition can develop anywhere on your body, the most common types of muscle imbalance are Upper and Lower Crossed Syndrome.

  • Upper Crossed Syndrome occurs on your upper body – with shoulder, neck, and chest muscles.
  • Lower Crossed Syndrome follows the same logic – it’s when you have an imbalance of lower body muscles. The most common one is in the pelvic area.

Muscle Imbalance Causes

There are a lot of causes of muscle imbalance. But the most common one is when you train one muscle group while neglecting the other. For example, doing more reps on dumbbell curls with a strong arm could cause muscle imbalances between the weaker and stronger arm. So it’s always important to incorporate a workout routine, that helps you to balance upper and lower body workout to develop a proportionate physique.

You could also suffer muscle imbalances because of bad posture, inactivity, natural development, or exercising with improper form.

How Muscle Imbalances Affect Your Workout Routine

Strengthening your muscles is beneficial. But if you focus on specific areas and neglect others – that is when you may suffer from muscle imbalances. And this condition is a lot more serious than you might think. Because muscle imbalance can affect posture and lead to limited mobility. If several muscle groups are not functioning efficiently, the imbalance can change the joint path of motion. This places you at risk of injury while lifting heavy objects or during routine workouts.

Shortened muscles can alter joint movements and cause difficulties that prevent you from fully extending and using your muscles. This means your joints don’t get the support they need to stay healthy. You may also experience muscle imbalance causing the pain, because of shortened hip flexors, which cause knee and low back pain.

There’s an increased risk of injury, which includes damage to tendons, connective tissue, muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints. Besides, imbalances in your muscles are a rather cosmetical issue too, that can affect your self-esteem and confidence.

How to Spot Muscle Imbalances

Muscle imbalance diagnosis is easy. The first type of imbalance you can notice is asymmetry. Grab a measuring tape and compare your muscles. Also, take some time to analyze the connection between your lower and upper halves and the front and back muscles to spot flaws. it’s also a good idea to take pictures from different angles. If you have a muscle imbalance, it will usually be visible.

How to Prevent Muscle Imbalances

You can prevent muscle imbalance by incorporating a workout program, based on compound exercises that build your entire body. But overall the best way to avoid muscle imbalance is to work on every area of your body. Don’t obsess about building huge muscles in a single area! If you’re doing lunges or lifting weights, always do the same amount of reps on either side.


How to Fix Muscle Imbalances

In order to avoid and fix muscle imbalances, it’s useful to remember several tips that will help you battle it:

1 – Unilateral Exercises

Unilateral exercises are probably the best muscle imbalance treatment. These are single-leg or arm movements, that ensure that each side of your body works as hard without your dominant muscle aiding the weaker side. The main benefit of these exercises is the fact that you’re using both sides of the body equally.

2 – Begin With the Weaker Side

Naturally, one side of your body will be dominant. You’ll favor the stronger side even without knowing because it feels easier for you. So if you’re right-handed, your right side will usually be dominant and vice versa. But always try to prioritize your weaker side, if you wish to avoid and fix muscle imbalance problem. It will also protect you from any muscle imbalances that might occur.

3 – Use Your Weaker Side to Set Workout Volume

If you choose to train the dominant side first, the weaker side will struggle to keep up. The best solution is to use your weaker side to set the workload. Starting on your weaker side helps you determine the amount of work your stronger side will do. This in turn stops the dominant side from outworking the other side. If you want to do 4 sets of 10 reps on lunges and the weaker side can only handle 7, that’s the number your stronger side should do as well, even if you can do more with it.

Always strive for balance.

4 – Perform Additional Workout on Your Weaker Side

Balancing the load of work on both sides is not enough to address the existing problem. You must also do additional workouts on the weaker side. Exercises, such as muscle imbalance stretches, will help you fix the proportional imbalances.

Increase workout load on the weaker side, or reduce the workout load on your dominant side, if you wish to maintain the same routine. An extra workout on the troubled area of the body will speed up recovery.

5 – Fix the Underlying Issue

Every problem has an origin, so if you fix your muscle imbalances and forget about what caused them, you might be back there sooner. While all these strategies will fix your muscle imbalance, you should explore other possibilities. Maybe your technique is wrong, or you’re not focused enough. Also, you could be struggling with flexibility or mobility, making it difficult to perform certain workouts.

For example, limited mobility on one shoulder can affect your shoulder and bench press workout and result in one side taking more work than the other. Once you identify the underlying problem, improve your mobility and flexibility around that area to prevent the imbalance from coming back.


Conclusion

Muscle imbalances are a part of the workout process. Ignoring them could lead to injuries since both your posture and flexibility are affected. Besides, you don’t want to be lifting weights when your body cannot maintain the perfect proportion you require to stay on your feet.

Before you get started fixing your muscle imbalances, probe your condition to understand the underlying problem, which you must address first, then embrace a workout routine that ensures balanced input between the weaker and dominant sides of your body.

And that’s all there is to it! Hopefully, we managed to answer all your questions regarding muscle imbalance, and how you can fix it.

Do you have additional tips to share? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to know!

More on Fixing Joint Pain and Correcting Muscular Imbalances >>


Author’s bio: The writer is Thomas Nemel. He is passionate about writing and enthusiastic about bodybuilding. In his spare time, he likes to ride his motorbike. Thomas always tries to engage people in healthy living through his writings.


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Sandbag Training | Using Sandbags For Strength Training

Sandbag Training

Using Sandbags For Strength Training

Using sandbags for strength training has been around for quite some time. But not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and traded their dumbbells for a burlap sandbag.

Besides being cheap to purchase (or making one yourself), sandbags offer several strength benefits that make it worthwhile in adding to your workout routine.

Here are a few examples…

Sandbag Training

Builds Core Strength

It’s always a good idea to strengthen your core muscles as much as you can. Core exercises strengthen your underlying muscle tissue and can help to prevent injuries.

When doing a sandbag strength training routine, you’re engaging your core muscles with almost every movement. Even if the exercise itself is not entirely focused on core strengthening.

A sandbag shifts it’s center of gravity constantly. Which feels different and often more difficult when compared to traditional weights. Also, by switching between different types of sandbag fillers, you can add diversity to your workout.

Sandbag Training Doesn’t Require Much Space

Barbells, plates, machines, and squat racks can all take up a lot of space. If you want to improve your strength, using sandbags for weight training is not only affordable, but they also require very little space. This makes them perfect for home gyms and home workouts where you can have a flexible way of working on your strength whenever you feel like it.

You can also take them anywhere. So if you ever find yourself somewhere lacking exercise equipment, for example when traveling, then getting a sandbag could be the answer!

Versatile Exercises

Sandbag workouts are not only effective but also versatile. You can use them for almost any type of exercise.

They can be used for traditional compound exercises such as squats, bench press, power cleans, deadlifts, and more. And because sandbags are soft, they have a low impact on your joints and you can perform less rigid movements.

There are exercises that are unique to sandbags such as the bear crawl; which are good for building stamina and working the core. There are also bear hug squats which are a good alternative to the front squat.

When it comes to cardio-related exercises, there are sandbag sprints and carries. These are not only high-intensity but they also heavily work the legs.

In a similar way you might use a wobble board for stability and balance, this sort of training can also be developed with a sandbag. You can even combine the two for a crazy stability building session. This work with unstable objects can be useful for many sports.

As you can see, sandbags can replace a lot of the equipment needed for most exercises.

Sandbags Come In Different Types

No matter which level you are in your fitness or strength training, you’ll find that there is a sandbag to accommodate your needs. Some bags can weigh up to 400 pounds; which are perfect for those wanting to gain serious strength.

You can also choose from different material qualities, the number of handles, and sizes.

As mentioned earlier, it’s possible to use different filler weights; you can add or remove them accordingly to suit different workouts. This makes them perfect for CrossFit routines where different exercises are performed in a single session.

Pricier sandbags can be water-resistant and withstand heavy-duty usage. With all the different sandbags available on the market, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that can suit your level of fitness and your exact requirements.

Various Strength Training Variables

When compared to weight training, using a sandbag offers an excellent range of training variables to enhance your strength. Your body’s position, holding position, and the plane of motion can have a larger scale by using a sandbag when compared to traditional weights.

For example, there are around 11 positions to hold a sandbag versus only four positions when using a barbell. There’s a whole list of possibilities of training variables when you use sandbags.

These ways of lifting sandbags and making changes to your body’s position can alter how an exercise feels and the results that come afterward.

Also, planes of motion with a sandbag, such as shoulder squats, rotational lunges, and lateral drags, can make your strength training more elaborate and progressive.


Conclusion

Sandbag training can be a game-changer for your strength training routine. Depending on your fitness level, there is a lot of gym equipment that a weighted bag can replace.

As we’ve discussed, there are so many exercises that are possible with one training bag.

Progressing your strength training is very achievable using heavy sandbags. And if you want a versatile workout that you can perform almost anywhere, then a sandbag is a fantastic option!