3 Exercises I Couldn’t Live Without

Now that my schedule is getting busier I find myself having less and less time to dedicate to the gym. So, I’m always looking for the most efficient exercises to do with the little time I have. That got me thinking. What are the most efficient exercises? What if I took it a step further and could only do 3 exercises the rest of my life. What would I do? Would I become the world champion at crunches, curls, and kickbacks?

Narrowing down the list to 3 is really tough considering how many different exercises there are and how many different pieces of equipment you could use. So, for the list let’s say I can only use dumbbells or a barbell with its respective weights. I’m also excluding cardio exercises like running or swimming which would be no brainers.

  1. Squats – When you can use over 60% of your body’s muscles in one movement it’s not even a question. Combine that with the fact that the more muscle fibers you use, the more testosterone that is released into the bloodstream. Squats prime your body to lift heavier and get stronger.

But, I don’t want a barbell sitting one my spine for the next 50 years (hopefully). What about variations? I could hold dumbbells by my side or do front squats to keep resistance aspect of squats while giving my spine a break. I can also make squats more explosive by doing squat jumps.

  1. Push-ups – Now that I have the lower body taken care of I need an upper body movement, specifically a push movement.  Pushups are going to engage my chest, triceps, shoulders, and core.

Now I can perform pushups for muscular endurance or muscular strength. A misconception is they’re only good for endurance. But, have you ever tried putting a 45lb plate on your back to do pushups? Or doing hand clap pushups? They’re great strength builders. For other variations I could use wide, narrow, or alternate hand positions.

  1. Pull-ups – I have a lower body and a push movement accounted for, so all I need now is a pull movement. Now I get to work my back, biceps, shoulder, and core. Pullups are going to be perfect because of their level of difficulty and possible variations. Even if I couldn’t currently complete a pullup I do a jumping pullup.

Similarly to with pullups as with pushups to make it more of a strength exercise I can do weighted pullups. I can even turn pullups into a great abs exercise by doing L pullups. I can also vary my grips between overhand, underhand, wide, and narrow.

I’m sure after reading this some people are thinking what about core?! My core is firing during all 3 of these exercises. I can go weeks without doing one ab exercise and still have a decent six pack. It hurts me to think about how much time in college I wasted doing different ab exercises instead of these multi-joint exercises that engage my core.

What would your top 3 be?

At Home Training Plan

As a personal trainer I often get asked “what are the best exercises that I should be doing to get fit and lose weight”. My response to this is often “how long is a piece of string”. There are almost infinite exercises and combinations of exercises that you can do to improve your fitness and to burn calories. The key however is to focus on exercises (and combinations of exercises) that work the whole body and elevate your heart rate.

From my experience training clients and researching training techniques, I have developed a system that helps clients to improve their fitness, lose body fat (if that is your goal) and gain lean muscle (alongside an appropriate nutritional program). I base my programs on alternating between upper and lower body exercises in a well-designed circuit. The benefit of alternating between upper body and lower body exercises is that while the upper body muscles (arms, shoulders, core, chest) are working the lower body muscles (legs and glutes) are resting and vice versa. This therefore allows you to continue exercising the upper body while the lower body is fatigued and resting and vice versa. The crucial part however is that regardless of which body part is working (upper or lower) your heart is still having to work to pump blood and oxygen around the body, thus giving you a fantastic Cardiovascular workout, burning calories and increasing your metabolic rate.

So for instance, you may do 40 seconds of lunges, which works your lower body muscles (and core) and your heart as it has to pump blood and oxygen around your body in particular to your lower body. Then without resting you may do 30 seconds of shoulder presses, so while your leg muscles are resting your upper body muscles (and core) are now working. Crucially, your heart still has to pump blood and oxygen around your body in particular to your upper body. Then without rest you may do 40 seconds of squats, although your upper body muscles are resting your lower body muscles (and core) are now working. Crucially, you guessed it, your heart has to continue pumping blood and oxygen around your body in particular to your lower body. You then go back to an upper body exercise and so on.

This type of training is also great because it is very time efficient as it will give you a fantastic whole body workout in a relatively short space of time, which is vital as we all live busy lives, and it also helps to prevent boredom setting in.

Below is a sample training program that uses the principle I have discussed above of alternating between upper and lower body exercises and to keep your heart rate elevated. As you will notice, the duration that you perform each exercise increases each week by 5 seconds and the rest period at the end of each circuit reduces by 5 seconds. This is to ensure that you continue to progress and challenge yourself. You will notice that for the final exercise of each circuit I have included a whole body cardiovascular exercise of Burpees, Jumping Jacks and Skipping to ensure you get a fantastic Cardiovascular workout. In addition, the lower body exercises work for 10 seconds longer than the upper body exercises due to being larger muscle groups. Ensure that you warm up correctly at the start before doing the circuit and cool down correctly at the end.

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
Lunges 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Push ups 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Planks 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Squats 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Tricep dips 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Burpees 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Rest 60 seconds Rest 55 seconds Rest 50 seconds Rest 45 seconds Rest 40 seconds
Lunges 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Push ups 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Planks 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Squats 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Tricep dips 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Jumping Jacks 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Rest 60 seconds Rest 55 seconds Rest 50 seconds Rest 45 seconds Rest 40 seconds
Lunges 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Push ups 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Planks 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Squats 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds
Tricep dips 20 seconds 25 seconds 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds
Skipping 30 seconds 35 seconds 40 seconds 45 seconds 50 seconds

 

If you do the circuit 2-4 times per week you will soon start to notice a difference. You can progress the program further if you need to by increasing the time of each exercise and/or decreasing the rest period at the end of the circuit. Likewise, should the circuit be too challenging to begin with, you can decrease the time of each exercise and/or increase the rest period.

It is crucial to follow an appropriate nutritional strategy alongside your training if you want to achieve your goals. Alongside the above training program, utilize the following nutrition strategies to help you achieve your goals and objectives:

1.) Eat four to six meals every day to increase your metabolic rate. Aim to eat every 2-3 hours.

2.) Eat a source of lean protein at every meal e.g. chicken, fish, whey protein.

3.) Eat vegetables as much as possible as they are not calorie dense and contain a lot of vital vitamins/minerals.

4.) Eat Healthy essential fats with each meal e.g. fish, almonds, peanut butter.

5.) Drink lots of water to keep hydrated and boost your metabolism.

Aim to get into good nutritional habits by experimenting on your food choices and combinations and be prepared. For instance, get into the habit of making your day’s meals and snack for the day ahead every evening and put them into tupperware boxes for ease of access. Being prepared is crucial because it will minimize your chances of getting hungry and then snacking on the wrong foods and you know exactly what you are fueling yourself with.

Should you require any help, advice or information please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be delighted to discuss with you the tried and tested methods and lifestyle changes that I have developed. Please remember that the above is only a sample program and the exercises you can use are almost infinite.

 “Together, we’ll achieve your goals”

Matt Swierzynski

E: matt@mattswaz.co.uk

W: www.mattswaz.co.uk

3 Best Exercises To Lose Weight

The majority of people who exercise are doing so for one reason, “lose weight”. By now most of understand to lose weight we have decrease our caloric intake by either taking in less calories (food) or by burning more calories (exercise). As a point of reference 3,500 calories equal one pound on our bodies. Healthstatus.com has an easy way to estimate the amount of calories required for you to maintain your current weight.

The values are presented in units of Calories/Hour and are calculated using a 150lb person.

  1. Circuit Weight Training (756 cals/hour) – Probably a little bit of a surprise here. Let’s begin with what is “Circuit Weight Training”? Circuit Weight Training is a combination of high-intensity aerobics and resistance training exercises. Usually the combination is between 2 and 4 exercises and done in succession. This burns the most of amount of calories because, it causes a high spike in heart rate that’s difficult to achieve with other exercises. Also, because the spike is so elevated it takes your body hours after you finish exercising to recover back to normal levels. This means your body is still burning calories while you’re resting!
  2. Cross Country Skiing (695) – Anyone who has cross country skied before probably thinks this should be number one, tough to forget that feeling of your lungs burning in sub-freezing temperatures. The major draw backs with Cross Country Skiing are location, equipment, and weather. Only in a few places in the world can you do this year round but, if you’re lucky enough to live in one of those places definitely take advantage of it.
  3. Running at 6mph (654) – This is usually the exercise that people think burns the most calories and it does burn its fair share.  The biggest difference between running and circuit training is while you’re running your heart rate usually stabilizes at some level, while circuit training elevates your heart rate up to 20% higher.

All three of these exercises burn 650 or more calories per hour, which is the amount of calories most people eat for lunch, it’d be nice to pretend that Subway sandwich and Pepsi never happened. If, you’re looking for the most efficient way to burn calories definitely add Circuit Weight Training into your routine. Not only does it burn the most calories per hour, but it also provides you with long term functional benefits that X Country Skiing and Running don’t provide.

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Why People Exercise

Have you ever walked into a Planet Fitness and wondered why all these people are here? Probably not. The reason being is everyone assumes everyone else is exercising for the same reasons they are. You know, lose weight, reduce stress, get stronger, etc. The truth is men and women view exercise very differently. Not only does gender effect motivation to exercise, but differences in age within the same gender also create different motives for exercising.  Mintel recently surveyed 1500 people who exercised to better understand why people exercise.

The survey showed general health and wellness was the number reason for exercising in both men and women. The next motivator for women was to lose weight and that was followed by wanting to increase their self esteem. Men’s second strongest motivator was self esteem and their third was to look better.

The most drastic differences in motivations for exercising seemed to be dependent on the individual’s age. People 45 and over are driven to exercise for general health benefits. As opposed to 18-24 year olds who are working out primarily to look better. People 25-44 placed fairly equal value on general health/wellness, self esteem, and looking better as reasons to exercise.

Primary motivators are similar between the two sexes however, men definitely showed a wider variety of reasons for working out such as, building muscle, gaining weight, and impressing others. So yea, all the requirements that allows them to grunt and yell while they work out. The adage with age comes wisdom also holds true in the fitness world, the 45+ group is motivated to exercise for the best reason, they want to be healthy.

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