The Latest From Top Fitness
Ideally, you’d get to the gym or be able to exercise for at least an hour a day, five or six days a week. Unfortunately, life often gets in the way. Work, family, friends, and other responsibilities can take up a lot of time, and suddenly working out isn’t a priority. While you may not be able to hit the gym for as long as you like each day, there’s no reason to skip exercising entirely. You can fit an effective, full-body workout into just thirty minutes. Here are some thirty-minute workouts you can do when you’re pressed for time.
You can do your regularly scheduled workout but just shorten the amount of time. If you were going to go for a forty-minute run followed by 20 minutes of strength training, cut it in half. Do a twenty-minute run followed by 10 minutes of strength building exercises. See the example below for some ideas.
Do twenty minutes of whatever cardio you had planned—running, cycling, elliptical, swimming, etc. Try to go harder or faster than you would have during a longer period of time.
You can focus on one area, like legs or core, or do a few moves to tone your whole body. Try this to get started:
30 Seconds of Butterfly Kicks
Do each set 3 times through and end with a one-minute plank.
Workout 2: Lunch Break
If you don’t want to shorten your normal routine, you can still get a great workout into a half an hour. You fit a full-body workout that doesn’t require a lot of equipment in on your lunch break. Do the circuit below three times through for a total body workout in less than 30 minutes.
Jump Rope—2 Minutes
Jumping rope is a great way to raise your heart rate in a short amount of time. You can use an actual jump rope, or simply mimic the move with your hands. A weighted rope will add some difficulty and tone your arms.
Walking Lunges—10 reps per side
Step forward with your right leg, and lower your knee to a 90-degree angle. Keeping your weight in your right heel, step forward and move your left leg into a lunge. Repeat 10 times.
Squat Jumps—1 minute
Lower down into a traditional squat, when use your legs to jump as high as you can. Land softly with your knees bent and move back into a lowered squat position, then jump back up.
Bicep Curls—15 reps
Stand upright with core engaged, feet hip distance apart, and knees slightly bent. Hold a pair of light to medium dumbbells with your palm facing away form your and your elbows tucked into your side. Raise the weights to shoulder height and back down.
Mountain Climbers—1 Minute
Get into a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Lift one foot off the floor. Bend your knee and bring it into your midsection, trying to get as close to your chest as possible. Lower back to the original position and bring the other knee forward. The fast you go, the better the workout.
Get back into that plank position and hold it for one minute. Keep our shoulders pulled back and your core engaged. Your back should be in a straight line.
You’ve heard of progressive overload right?
The principle that you must do incrementally more every session to continue making progress. A little more weight, an extra rep, extra metres, or time. To continually progress, you must be giving your body a new stimulus. Something a little more challenging that it has had before.
This principle is not just how you progress in the gym. It is the basis of successful change in any area of your life. The gym is a great metaphor for achieving things in all other areas of your life too.
People that succeed in the gym are the ones who are committed to working out for the long term. They’re not jumping on fad diets and magic abs blasting machines for 2 weeks, and then going right back to eating takeout on the sofa.
They’re turning up day in and day out; working out, eating right and living a healthy lifestyle as a matter of habit.
Coincidentally, this applies to any area of your life where you want to achieve more.
The Gym Is Your Teacher
The skills, behaviors, beliefs and habits you build in fitness will carry over to every part of your life. Learning the discipline and hard work of following your training plan and eating right will make it easier to put the work into your business or career.
Working for delayed gratification by avoiding unhealthy foods you might be craving, and going to the gym instead of staying in bed; is the same process as saving money for retirement or getting out of debt.
The process of setting goals and working towards them in your body will mirror that in other parts of your life where you would like to make changes and achieve more.
You Build More Than Just A Body Through Fitness
Fitness is more than just building a body. You’re also building your mind. The beliefs and mindset you develop with training is going to lead to more confidence and belief elsewhere.
When you prove to yourself that you can set goals, implement the program and achieve results; you start to feel more confident and in control of your outcomes. What else could you achieve?
If you believe you can achieve something, and refuse to quit, then you will ultimately achieve it. Doing this in fitness is a great place to start, because you can make big changes in a relatively short time span. In 6 months you can look and feel 100% different to how you do right now.
Using Progressive Overload in Everything
One of the reasons people commonly fail in their fitness, and in other goals, are unrealistic expectations. Both in the speed or size of the results, and in the expectations of themselves. How significantly they can change their habits and routines in one go. How much they can change right away or how much impact a change is going to have on outcomes.
Setting expectations too high, where they are impossible to meet, is a recipe for failure, getting disheartened, losing confidence, and giving up. Every time this happens it gets a little bit harder the next time you try.
You now have more negative reference points, less belief, and more fear that you cannot do this. This is what kills people’s dreams. You’re essentially conditioning yourself to expect failure. Not a good thing!
To avoid this, you must apply the principle of progressive overload. You have look at where you are right now, where you are starting from. Look at where you ultimately want to be – your goal – as the opposite ends of a continuum.
Where people go wrong, is they do not fill all the steps in along the way. They want to jump straight from A to Z, and that is realistically never going to happen. You must fill all the steps in along the way. You have to ask yourself what is the next step forwards?
The one thing that is going to take me closer to my goals?
Using Pareto’s Principle
You want to apply the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule. Ask yourself which is the single step that is going to give me the biggest returns? What is the simplest, easiest thing I can do that will bring a big change for the least amount of effort?
The less intrusive it is, the less it takes away from your normal habits and routines; the easier it will be to follow through and stick with it. Sometimes the thing that will bring the biggest results is not the thing you should be implementing.
If it’s too advanced for you, too difficult, too far away from where you are now; it is likely to do more harm than good. Sometimes you have to move slowly to get there quicker. Being the tortoise, rather than the hare.
For progressive overload to work, you just need to do a little bit more than you have done before. It is incremental improvement. The process of Kaizen as the Japanese call it.
Trying to take giant leaps forwards and make huge changes all in one go rarely works. You might see some results initially, but after a couple of weeks it becomes unsustainable. You’ve changed too many things, too significantly. You’re always going to subconsciously pull back to your comfort zone.
If you’re using progressive overload, the changes are minimal and you do not suffer that pull back. Only when you’re doing too much does the comfort zone get the better of you.
Look at any goal as a series of steps, rather than just a final destination. Going from A to B, and then B to C is a lot less daunting, much easier to achieve and will quickly build positive momentum. The more momentum you have, the more belief you have.
With momentum and belief at your back, now you can start making bigger changes that make a bigger impact. Now you are in the position to start accelerating towards your goals, because you have built up to it slowly.
If you exercise regularly, you will probably at some point experience sore muscles. This happens especially after you start a new workout routine or increase the intensity of your workouts. Soreness can be a good thing. You build strength by creating tiny micro tears in your muscles and then letting them recover and get stronger. However, it’s not a pleasant feeling. Thankfully, there are ways to ease sore muscles.
Apply Heat to Muscles
Applying heat to sore muscles will help ease the pain, as well as increase blood flow to the area so they recover faster. You can sit in a hot tub or warm bath, take a steamy shower, sit in a sauna or use a heating pad on a particularly sore area.
Stretching is extremely important to do after any workout, not just tough ones. The more flexible your muscles are, the less likely they are to feel stiff. Stretching can be used as a preventative measure for sore muscles, but a deep stretching session can help muscles that are already sore. Try going to a gentle yoga class on your rest day.
While it seems counterintuitive, movement, whether by stretching or by doing some light exercise, can help ease sore muscles. It increases blood flow and oxygen to your muscles while making them more pliable and less stiff. You may be able to do a regular work out if you’re just a little sore, but try to ease off if the soreness is extreme. A brisk walk or gentle yoga works, too.
Knead Your Muscles
Massage muscles is another great way to increase blood flow so you can feel better faster. Foam rollers are a great option for massaging your muscles, also called self-myofascial release. You can also spring for a nice massage at a professional studio by a licensed massage therapist or even a physical therapist.
You probably already know that your diet has a direct impact on how you feel during a workout, but it influences how you feel afterward, too. Eat a meal with lots of protein shortly after a tough, muscle-building workout. Your muscles need protein to recover, build and get stronger. Drink plenty of water as well to keep yourself hydrated.
Sometimes you just need some time off. Muscles are built in the gym, but the periods of rest and recovery are where they really get stronger. If you’re pushing yourself every day, you don’t give those micro tears time to really heal, which will slow your progress in the long run. You can take some active rest days, but don’t feel bad about taking a few days to just chill. Your body might need it.
However, be aware of your body and learn to recognize the difference between soreness and real pain. Soreness will feel like a dull ache or a tight muscle, and you’ll generally feel it equally on both sides of your body. It typically doesn’t start until a day or two after a tough workout. Sharp pains, bruising, swelling, pain you feel immediately or pain on only one side could be the start of an injury. If you think you might be injured, take a few days to rest before working out again. But if it doesn’t get better within a few days, you may want to see a doctor.
Final Word on Easing Sore Muscles
Overall, try these tips to help ease your sore muscles and you’ll likely be back at it soon. Working out is one of the best things you can do for your body, but it’s natural to feel some soreness. Hopefully these tips help ease some of that pain.
Most people fall into one of two camps when it comes to working out while sick. They will either call it quits the second their noses get the slightest bit stuffy, or they’ll try to power through a tough workout despite almost being on death’s door, much to the chagrin of their fellow gym goers. Just because you have a slight cold doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t work out. However, there is a line. So how sick is too sick to work out?
First, if you have a fever over 100 degrees, don’t work out. You don’t need to be raising your heart rate and core body temperature any more than it already is. If you feel nauseous or have been sick to your stomach, you are also too ill to exercise. A fever, vomiting and diarrhea all make you more susceptible to becoming dehydrated, and working out certainly won’t make that better. Stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids. Most people are well aware of this and wouldn’t even attempt to hit the gym.
Colds are where it can get tricky for most people. A general rule of thumb is that if you are sick in the neck and above, it’s probably okay to exercise. A little stuffy or runny nose may be annoying, but it likely isn’t cause to skip a workout altogether. In fact, an easy run or bike ride followed by a warm shower can help ease congestion.
When you have a cough, especially one that’s deep in your chest, it could interfere with your breathing and make working out uncomfortable. If you’re suffering from chills or body aches, it’s best to skip the gym. They could be a sign of the flu or a fever.
If you aren’t sure about how you will feel, you could just give it a try for ten to fifteen minutes just to see how you feel. If you don’t get into a groove or just feel terrible, stop. Of course, you can still exercise with a cold. Ease off a little bit to give your body a break. Take a walk instead of going for a run or do some gentle yoga. You’ll get your body moving without draining all your energy.
If you do take some time off due to illness, don’t just jump right back in to your normal routine once you feel better. You could have some lingering weakness or fatigue that could be worsened or exacerbated by exercising. Give yourself one more day than you think you need before you start exercising again, especially if you were very sick. Once you do get back into your routine, don’t go at it 100 percent. Ease back into your routine to give your body time to adjust.
Ultimately, though, it will vary from person to person. What one person considers a mild cold is another person’s very sick. If you feel like your illness will negatively impact your workout, or that you’ll feel worse after exercising, then skip it and take a rest day.
The bench press is a mighty exercise that every guys wants to be good at.
The most common question people ask when talking about the gym is, “how much do you bench?”.
After reading this post, hopefully your answer will be slightly more impressive than before. I’m going to give you tips and techniques to both immediately increase your bench press, and also lead to more progress over the long term.
Let’s get started.
1. Set Up Strong
A strong bench press comes from a strong set up. You need to be rigid and stable, allowing you to put as much force as possible into the bar.
Before you even touch the bar, you should lay down and create as much tension in your body as possible. This will be a platform that allows you to display the strength that you already possess.
Have your feet flat on the floor, wide and making a solid triangle with the bottom of the bench. Squeeze your butt muscles and abs as hard as you can, pin the shoulders back and down against the bench and drive the head down. All of this before you even touch the bar.
If you’re doing it right, you should start to cramp up in the butt and upper back if you’re not used to doing it.
2. The Lift Off
Set your hands – aim for a width that keeps your forearm vertical at the bottom of the rep. Use the rings on the bar to judge it.
Take a deep breathe in and grip the bar hard. When you lift it off, make sure you keep all of the tension you have created in your body. Think about ‘dragging’ the bar forwards, to rest above your chest. Use a spotter to lift the bar if you need to.
Too many people go to the effort of setting up strong, only to lose all that tension when they pick the bar up, going in to the first rep like wet spaghetti.
I’ve mentioned taking a big breathe during the set up. This allows you to create tension in your midline and increase stability.
You want to exhale through your teeth during the lifting phase – making a kind of hissing sound – and be sure to only partially exhale. You should never empty your lungs fully, you will lose all the tension.
Take another breath at the top before descending for the next rep. Hold during the descent and again breathe out through the teeth during the lifting portion.
4. Feet, Hips and Head
Whilst doing the lift, forget about pushing with your chest – you’re going to do that regardless. Instead focus on driving the feet down into the floor, keeping the glutes squeezed as hard as you can, and driving the head back into the bench.
This will maintain your solid platform and allow you to transfer more force into the bar.
5. Break the Bar
When you’re bringing the bar down to your chest, do not be lazy and let gravity do the work. You are not ‘letting’ the bar come down and then engaging effort to push it back up.
You should be pulling the bar down into your chest. Using your back muscles to create as much tension as possible on the way down.
Grip the bar as hard as you can and think about pulling it apart. This activates all of the muscles you’re going to be using and allows you to direct more force into the bar.
6. Get Your Angles Right
The bench press is not actually a straight up and down movement. The most efficient bar path is to bring it down slightly on the descent, moving towards your hips and then push upwards on the lifting portion, towards the head.
Do not make the mistake of pushing too far up. At the top your arms should be vertical over your chest. If you’re pushing too far toward your head, it is because you’re failing to arc down on the descent.
7. Training ‘the Platform’
For long term improvements in your bench pressing, you need to get stronger in a number of areas. First of all in the ‘platform’. The base of support from which you press.
This means getting stronger in the upper and mid back. That sounds counter-intuitive to increasing your pressing strength, but the lats and traps and some of the most important muscles when bench pressing.
Have plenty of rows and pulling exercises in your routine to build up the base of support that will allow you to press big weights.
8. Training the Bottom
The bottom portion of the lift, pushing the bar off the chest, is where you are at the most mechanically disadvantaged position.
To get stronger in this position you should focus your training on two thing.
a). Overcoming strength, with exercises such as pause bench press and pin presses.
b). Range of motion with exercises like dumbbell bench press and elevated push ups.
9. Training the Top
The top of the bench press is more reliant on the shoulders and triceps. As such you should train those muscles with military and push presses, triceps extensions and dips.
10. Training specificity
Finally, to get better at bench press you should bench press. That might sound obvious, but specificity is important.
Do assistance exercises that closely mirror the positions you need to be in to press, to see a greater carry over and benefit from these exercises.
Follow these ten tips and you will see your pressing strength increase quickly.
One final point I want to make is to stay healthy. Too much bench pressing is going to lead to rotator cuff issues. Be sure to moderate your volume and intensity.
Lifting as much weight as possible is how you test your strength, not how you develop it. Train at lighter weights for higher reps and focus on increasing muscle mass to build your strength.
Combine sensible training with a prehab and mobility routine to make sure you maintain full range of motion and keep your shoulders healthy. Too much pressing will lead to problems down the road and ultimately hinder your progress, if you do not balance it out with opposing movements and flexibility.