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6 Things Will Happen When You Start Doing Squats

6 Things Will Happen When You Start Doing Squats

As a Fitness Professional, I am educated in knowing how to radically transform your body for a lasting change and I know which exercise moves can best do this. And squats are one of these exercise moves, if not the exercise move that can best transform the body.

Squats are a functional physical activity, offering you spectacular benefits. If squats are performed consistently and with perfect form, they are one of the most powerful movements you can possibly do to tone your body. There are endless variations, so you will never have to experience a plateau or feel bored! These beauties can be modified and styled just for you. Everything about the squat is perfection!

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So what exactly happens to your body when you start doing squats?

1. You’ll strengthen and transform your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves and core muscles

Performing exercises for your lower body, efficiently rids your body of excess stored fuel, better than any other exercises. You will work out muscles in your legs and your core, over and over again.

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2. You’ll strengthen your bones, connective tissues and joints

Adding strength to your body can never hurt. For example, all of this is so important in preventing osteoporosis and injuries. Even if your squats are meant to tone your body, the side effects can benefit your health as well.

3. You’ll be performing one of the best functional exercises that ever existed

This exercise promotes mobility and balance. It will help you to do your day in and day out activities with ease. From picking up dropped items to balancing, squats prep your body for movement of all types.

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4. You’ll be able to enjoy a powerful physical activity anywhere, any time

Squats don’t require you to go to a gym or pay for any expensive equipment. I do recommend that you check your posture and form by seeking the advice of a fitness professional.

5. You’ll enjoy the benefits of improved posture

The muscles that you strengthen while performing a squat, will help you to sit, stand and walk taller and more confidently.

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6. You’ll be changing the hormonal environment in your body … for the better

Two of the major hormones that shed your body of excess stored fuel, testosterone and growth hormone, skyrocket during exercise and afterward DHEA kicks in! DHEA is an amazing hormone that is responsible for shedding the body of excess stored fuel, muscle building, mood enhancement, sex drive increase, and immunity.

So, How do you do a squat?
When you perform a squat … I want you to really feel the move! As you squat down, imagine that you are about to sit in a chair, keeping your back straight, your eyes looking straight ahead, your core engaged and your body weight spread from your heels to the balls of your feet. As you push yourself back up, actively push through your heels. Squat at a level that feels comfortable for your body and slowly work up to progressing lower, if you choose to do so. If you don’t feel balanced, a wall squat is wonderfully supportive and just as effective.

Bonus tip for a full body experience
One of my favorite exercise designs is a squat, to a bicep curl, to an overhead press, then run in place for two to three minutes and perform a set of push-ups. This is a priceless work-out system that can be performed before work, at work, or anytime that you want a simple, quick, efficient and powerful workout that guarantees to transform your exquisite self! Perform two to three sets and as many repititions as possible, while still being able to maintain perfect form. And please do a full body warm-up before exercising and a full body stretch after exercising … always.

Featured photo credit: Depositphotos_48149385_l-2015 via media.lifehack.org

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Published on October 11, 2018

7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

Building and maintaining a strong upper back depends not only on strength-training, but stretching and nutrition as well. Stretching the upper back muscles, along with a healthy diet can help alleviate pain while improving endurance.

Did you know that stretching your upper back builds endurance for sports, your job – which may require heavy lifting – and simple, everyday activities? Many people who exercise don’t recognize the importance of having a strong upper back, and often neglect this part of the body, focusing more on the lower back where injuries are more prone to occur.

Upper back endurance is necessary for runners, hikers, golfers, tennis players, bowlers, cyclists; the list goes on and on. If saving time is important to you, you want to reduce chronic back pain, boost your energy levels, or you simply need ways to get through a day at the office while confined to a computer, you’ll begin to understand why the following upper back stretches and exercises are necessary.

Here are seven stretches, combined with exercises, to help you maintain a strong upper back:

1. Lat Pull-Downs

By contracting and lengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids, teres major, along with the other muscles groups in and around your upper back, you are building muscle endurance and increasing mobility.

Seated at a lat pull-down machine, select a weight stack that is comfortable. Remember, you’re not preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you just want to exercise the back, so heavy weight is unnecessary.

Grab the wide bar above your head, palms down, and using a wide grip, pull the bar down to your chest and contract your upper back muscles.

Keep your head up, looking at the bar. This also helps keep your spine straight and provides a clearance so that the bar doesn’t hit your face. Slowly return the bar to the top and repeat for 15 reps. Do three to four sets.

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Here’s the correct technique by Denice Moberg:

2. Indoor Rowing

If upright exercises like walking on the treadmill or running outdoors bore you, you can strengthen your core using a rowing machine. Not only will you chisel your back, but the elongation of the upper back during the stroke motion creates a good stretch.

First, select a tension that is challenging but not a struggle. Make sure that your feet are securely placed in the machine’s foot straps, nice and tight to prevent the feet from moving while rowing.

Next, slide yourself in the rowing saddle forward toward the row bar and pull the bar toward the mid-section of your trunk area, which is the finish. Pulling the bar, bring your elbows beyond your back while contracting your upper muscles and rear shoulders.

Your back should be straight with a slight angle of around 100 degrees. Do not hunch.

During the catch, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle while locking out your arms completely. As a stretching exercise, repeat this motion for five minutes.

Here’s how you can do it:

3. Side Plank Rotation

If you’re short on time, floor exercises such as planks strengthen your core and can be done at home or during your lunch break at work. They can be done in 30 to 60 second increments.

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There are a few plank variations:

The low-position forearm plank in which your body weight is supported by your elbows; the straight-arm plank, which is a high-position plank; side plank in which your body is turned to one side and supported by one straightened arm; the stability-ball plank which is more challenging for your trunk; and the plank that gives you a good stretch is the side plank rotation.

To begin the side plank rotation, begin in the high plank position. Slowly turn your body to one side while stacking one foot on top of the other. Extend the opposite arm toward the ceiling and as you lower your arm, reaching underneath your body and rotating your trunk.

Done properly, you will feel the stretch along your rhomboids and shoulders. Repeat the rotation – reaching and tucking – 10 times. Switch sides.

Here’s a Side Plank Rotation demonstrated by Train Aggressive:

4. Yoga Stretches

A good way to incorporate breathing with stretching and gain flexibility in your core is Kundalini yoga – an intense yoga practice – gets your blood flowing and works wonders for the spine and posture.

The “Cat-Cow” pose is a great upper back warm-up, and when combined with the “Breath Of Fire”[1] or “fast breathing,” energy is sent through the entire body which stimulates the flow of cell activity and increases lung capacity.

On all fours, arms straight and directly below your shoulders, and knees directly below your hips, hunch your back, inhaling as you tuck your head into your chest, then exhale while arching your back and raise your head toward to sky.

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The rapid inhaling and exhaling in this exercise is known as the “Breath Of Fire,” as mentioned above. Increase the pace of both the “Cat-Cow” and “Breath Of Fire” and repeat this movement for up to five minutes.

This is how to do a Cat-Cow pose for energy:

5. Side Bends

This is a simple stretch to elongate the space between your ribs and increase range of motion, which helps achieve flexibility in the abdominals, spine, and lateral core.

Seated or standing with your back straight, raise your arms above your head and firmly hold your wrist. Gently pull your trunk to one side and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. When finished, repeat on opposite side.

Note: If standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, if seated keep your feet flat on the floor.

Let’s take a look at how to do a standing side bend:

6. Pole Stretch

By creating opposing force and pulling on a stationary object, you are stretching your lats. The upper sides of your back. Here, you are performing a static stretch which is a stretch held beyond its normal range.

Find a pole, mounted gym apparatus, or other floor-affixed object and, while standing, pull on the object with slightly bent knees and back flat at a 45-degree angle.

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Continue to pull while extending your arms, feeling the stretch in your lats and rhomboid muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if needed.

7. Shoulder Blade Stretch

The shoulder blades are connected to the rhomboid muscles in the upper back. Sudden, quick movements like pulling a heavy object or even tossing a near-weightless object overhead, like a tennis ball during a serve, can strain the unstretched muscles between your shoulder blades, causing spasms.

Here’s how to avoid muscle strain:

Standing tall with feet shoulder width apart, gently pull your elbow across your chest, just beneath your chin, and hold for 15 seconds. If you do not feel immediate relief, try lowering or raising the elbow and perform the stretch again. Different angles can make a big difference.

There you have it – Seven upper back stretches and exercises to reduce pain and improve endurance. But while upper back stretches are important, a diet rich in antioxidants is equally key.

Bonus Tip: Getting a Diet Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants, also known as “Super Foods,” prevent the build up of free radicals in your body and control oxidative stress. These free radicals are toxins that get in the way of endurance, flexibility, and cause inflammation, among other fitness obstacles.

How do you incorporate antioxidants into your diet? Here are some common foods and beverages rich in antioxidants:

A good combination of quick and easy targeted cardiovascular exercises, static stretches, range-of-motion stretches, and yoga poses can increase upper back endurance and boost your energy levels, making your activities – both sedentary and active – manageable and fun.

Once you begin to incorporate these methods of relief into your routine, you will begin to walk taller, run farther, and hike longer!

Featured photo credit: Geert Pieters via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Yogapedia: Breath of Fire

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