Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Favorite Trainer Tips

Tighten Your Backside

So you think you need a machine to work your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, huh? Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't think so. He relied on stiff-legged dead lifts, which produce killer glutes if done properly. Dead lifts were cool in the seventies and eighties, but modern machines made them seem a little too low-tech to be effective. But this classic exercise of the bodybuilding era is worth a second look. Working the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back in a free-form position means that the rest of your body has to work a little harder to support itself during the exercise. And that provides bonuses, such as improved coordination and balance. It also burns more calories.
Want to give this dead lift a try? Here's how to do it:
  1. Stand with your feet slightly closer than shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, or "soft." Hold a barbell in your hands, or dumbbells in each hand, in front of your thighs, with your palms facing your legs. Keep your back straight and your shoulders pulled back.
  2. Bend your torso forward slowly, lowering the bar or dumbbells toward the floor. Keep your knees slightly bent and your back flat through the entire movement. Lower the bar until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. From this position, focus on your hamstrings and exhale while slowly lifting your body and the weights back to the starting position. Repeat.
Adhering to proper form is extremely important during this move; otherwise, you can injure your lower back. To prevent injury, keep your eyes focused forward. This helps keep your back in the correct position. Don't round your shoulders or bend your knees too much, and be careful not to use too much weight.

Want a More Advanced Move?

When the stiff-legged dead lift no longer challenges you, move on to the platform stiff-legged dead lift, a more advanced move. As its name suggests, this variation is performed while you stand on a step or low platform. If you have enough flexibility, you will be able to lower the bar or dumbbells past your feet. This adds intensity to the exercise by increasing the range of motion and prolonging the muscle contraction. Be careful, though — to protect your back, be sure to follow all of the tips on form given above.
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