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Unfold Close  ABOUT THIS SECTION
Unfold Close  EXERCISE: GETTING STARTED

Cycling is a truly invigorating and liberating experience, enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Whether you're cycling to work, to school, to the shops or just for fun, the humble bicycle is an easy way to get more active.

This guide is designed to make cycling a safe and enjoyable experience for beginners, and provide you with tips on staying motivated.

Before you start

For short journeys, any good working bike will do. You might have an old 10-speed racer, a shopping bike or a bargain mountain bike that you could use.

If you're buying a second-hand bike or you have an old bike that's been gathering dust, consider having it serviced at a bike shop to ensure it's roadworthy.

If you're buying a new bike, there are lots of models to choose from. Hybrids, road bikes and mountain bikes are most popular.

A bike shop can advise you on the correct frame size and help you select a bike to suit your budget and the type of cycling you want to do.

Find out if your workplace operates a cycle to work scheme. This is a more affordable way of buying a new bike and safety equipment.

There are many bikes available for people with disabilities. The two main providers of specialist bikes are Wheels for All and CTC.

For most people, cycling is a safe and effective form of exercise. If you have any health concerns or an existing medical problem, see your GP before you start.

Cycling safely

  • practise in a safe environment
  • wear a helmet
  • be seen and heard
  • check your bike
  • be alert and plan your route
  • always follow the Highway Code

If you haven't cycled much before or you're out of the habit of cycling, find yourself a traffic-free area to start off in, such as your local park.

Practise riding single-handed so you can make hand signals, and get comfortable looking over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness.

To learn to cycle with confidence, see CTC's cycle training or Bikeability for information on training schemes, some of which are free.

Before you start cycling in traffic, check the Highway Code for up-to-date rules and regulations for cyclists.

Health benefits

Regular cycling can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.

For health benefits, adults and older adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity activity each week.

Children and young people should do at least an hour (60 minutes) of moderate to vigorous intensity activity every day.

A 30-minute ride will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.   

Staying motivated

Make it a habit

The easiest way to cycle regularly is to use your bike as a means of everyday transport. Work out your routes using journey planning websites such as Sustrans and Cycle Streets.

If you want some company on your bike ride, whether it's to work or just for fun, find a cycling pal using BikeBUDi. The free Bike Hub app finds the quickest or quietest cycle routes, on roads or on cycle paths. It can also locate the nearest bike shops.

Cycle to work

Commuting by bike is cheap, green and one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your routine. Work out your route to work using Sustrans or contact your local council for free cycling maps. Transport for London has an interactive cycle journey planner and free local cycling maps.

Cycle to school

Riding to school is a great way to get the kids more active. Cycling has many benefits for children such as improved health, confidence and concentration. Parents may want to accompany younger children, which makes it a good way for grown-ups to get cycling, too.

Mix it up

There are many wonderful places to cycle in cities and the countryside. Cycling is an ideal way for friends and families to explore their neighbourhood and beyond. Sustrans has free information packs about cycling in your region.

Join a bike ride

From charity rides to park cycles, signing up for a bike ride is a great way to stay motivated and experience the great outdoors. Find a bike ride near you using Bike Hub's events search or Sky and British Cycling's Sky Ride.

Source: NHS UK

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From hip-hop to the foxtrot, dance fever is sweeping the nation, fuelled by popular TV shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and Britain's Got Talent.

Whether you like to jump or jive, tap or tango, shake your hips or your booty, dancing is one of the most enjoyable ways to get moving.

Regular dancing is great for losing weight, maintaining strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and co-ordination, and beating stress.

One of the best things about dancing is that while you're having fun moving to music and meeting new people, you're getting all the health benefits of a good workout. 

This guide will help you get started in dancing, including wheelchair dancing, introduce you to some popular dance styles taught in the UK, and help you find a dance class in your area.

Before you start

Most accredited dance schools hold beginners' courses and welcome people with disabilities. Schools are friendly and a great way to socialise. If you don't want to go on your own, get a friend to go with you. 

Classes can cost as little as £5-10 for a 90-minute session. If the first class you try falls short of your expectations, don't be put off. It's worth trying a few different classes until you find the right one for you. 

Wear clothing that gives you freedom of movement. Some dance styles – such as ballet, tap or jazz – may require specialist footwear, so check before turning up. Avoid wearing jewellery such as earrings, rings and necklaces, which can scratch you or get caught in clothing. 

Find a dance class

  • The easiest way to get into dancing is to contact a dance agency in your region on the One Dance UK website to find dance classes near you.
  • Find your nearest school or teacher accredited by the Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET), the national standards body of the professional dance industry.
  • Find a class near you on the Exercise Move Dance website. Search for different styles of dance and levels. You can also sign up to receive healthy recipes, workout plans and local event alerts.
  • Dance Near You has a database of 1,000-plus dance classes of all levels run by dance teachers, dance schools and studios located across the UK.
  • London Dance, set up by the Arts Council England and Sadler's Wells Theatre, has a directory of dance classes offered across London. 
  • If you can't wait to get your dancing shoes on, visit Change4Life's Let's Dance section for free online dance routines, games and ideas for all the family.
  • To get into wheelchair dancing and find classes near you, contact the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association.  

Dance styles

Not sure which dance style you'd like to try? Below is a quick guide to some popular dance styles taught in the UK. 

Modern jive

Modern jive, popularly known as LeRoc and Ceroc, has evolved from jive and swing into one of the simplest of all partner dances. There's no footwork to learn so within half an hour your local club will have you turning and spinning to the biggest chart hits of today and yesterday, with lots of different partners. 

For more information, including classes near you, visit The LeRoc Modern Jive Federation

Street dance

Street dance describes urban dance styles that evolved in the street, school yards and nightclubs, including hip hop, popping, locking, krumping and breaking. These dances are practised competitively, as well as being an art form and a great workout.

For more information, including classes near you, visit Dance Near You.

Ballet

The first ballet school, the Académie Royale de Danse, was established in France in 1661. Today there are three main forms of ballet: classical, neoclassical and contemporary. Ballet's conventional steps, grace and fluidity of movement are a great foundation for dance in general.

For more information, including classes near you, visit the Royal Academy of Dance or the British Ballet Organisation (BBO).

Contemporary dance

Unlike dances such as ballet, contemporary dance is not associated with specific techniques. In contemporary dance, people attempt to explore the natural energy and emotions of their bodies to produce dances that are often deeply personal.

For more information, including classes near you, contact your regional dance agency on the Dance UK website.

Line dancing

Line dances are choreographed dances performed in unison by a group of people in rows. Anybody can do it and the steps are easy to learn. From their first lesson, beginners can enjoy dancing to a whole range of line dance routines to all genres of music, like country, Irish, Latin and pop. You don't need a partner so it's great for meeting people.

Find a line dance class using DanceWeb

Salsa dancing

Salsa dancing is a fun and flirtatious form of partner dancing, fusing steamy Afro-Caribbean and Latin styles into simple and lively movements. The word "salsa" is Spanish for "sauce" (usually hot and spicy), which is an appropriate description for a dance that is energetic, passionate and sexy. The basic steps are easy to learn, and you'll salsa your way across the dance floor before you know it. 

For more information, including classes near you, visit Salsa Jive UK.

Ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing has made a comeback in recent years, partly thanks to TV shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and Strictly Dance Fever. There are many styles of ballroom dancing from around the world, such as the waltz, tango and foxtrot, and each has specific step patterns. It is essential for both partners, the leader as well as the follower, to know the steps so they can dance together. 

For more information, including classes near you, visit the British Dance Council.

Zumba

Zumba is a popular fitness programme inspired by Latin dance. The word "Zumba" comes from a Colombian word that means to move fast and have fun. Using upbeat Latin music together with cardiovascular exercise, Zumba is aerobic dancing that's great fun and easy to learn.

For more information, including classes near you, visit Zumba Fitness.

Flamenco dancing

From Andalucia in Spain, this is the dance of swirling skirts, castanets and breathtakingly fast heel stomping. Flamenco's musical and dance traditions are centuries old, blending gypsy, Moorish and Andalucian influences. Flamenco is a solo dance characterised by hand clapping, percussive footwork and intricate hand, arm and body movements.

For more information, including classes near you, visit the Spanish Dance Society.

Tap dancing

Tap dance uses shoes with small metal plates on the soles to make the dance itself part of the music. Tap evolved in America and had its roots in African dance, Irish dance and clog dancing. Tap is as popular today as it was in the heyday of the great Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly musicals, and companies like Tap Dogs demonstrate how contemporary it can be. 

For more information, including classes near you, visit the tap section on the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) website.

Bollywood dancing

Bollywood dancing stems from the Indian film industry and is now popular throughout the world. It's known for being upbeat and often helping to tell a story or show emotions. Bollywood dance blends classical Indian dance forms – with its intricate hand gestures and footwork – with modern western styles, including hip hop and jazz.

For more information, including classes near you, visit the South Asian Dance Alliance

Modern jazz dance

Jazz dancing is energetic and fun, consisting of unique moves, fancy footwork, big leaps and quick turns. Jazz dance evolved alongside jazz music and was popularised in ballrooms across the US by the big bands of the swing era. It offers a full body workout, developing dance ability, flexibility, strength and rhythm.

For more information, including classes near you, contact your regional dance agency on the Dance UK website.

Wheelchair dancing

BBC3's Dancing on Wheels has done wonders for the sport of wheelchair dancing and raised its profile as a recreational activity. Wheelchair dancing is open to people of all abilities, including mixed ability dance partners. From the ballroom to the street – not forgetting ballet, and group dances like Gangnam or line dancing – nothing is off limits for those wheels of steel.

For more information and to find a class near you, visit the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association.

Source: NHS UK

Rock climbing used to be considered the preserve of adrenaline junkies, but in recent years it has broken into the mainstream.

A growing number of people in search of new experiences and outdoor adventure have been getting a taste for the crag in climbing centres around the country.

The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) estimates there are about 5 million visits to climbing walls each year in the UK.

Find out about rock climbing’s unique physical and mental challenge, how to get started and the life skills it provides.

What is rock climbing?

Rock climbing was originally used by experienced climbers to practise skills needed for scaling difficult sections of a mountain. By the 1980s it had evolved into a globally popular leisure pursuit in its own right, practised indoors and out with many variations such as:

  • bouldering: ropeless climbing at low heights, often above safety mats
  • sport climbing: climbing up rock faces dotted with bolts for climbers to clip into
  • soloing: climbing on your own and usually without a rope
  • traditional or "trad" climbing: climbing up unmarked routes using your own safety gear
  • ice climbing: climbing ice-covered rock faces and frozen waterfalls

Who can do rock climbing?

Almost anyone can rock climb. At beginner level, it caters for people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities, including mental and physical impairments. There are courses for children as young as five and it's not unusual to see people climbing well into their 80s.

Despite its image as an athletic sport, you don’t need to be super-fit to rock climb. Good technique is more important than physical strength, although the more you climb the stronger and fitter you will become. Good footwork, body positioning and problem solving will get you up many more climbs than just brute strength. Many climbing centres have specialist instructors who have experience with rehabilitation and working with all kinds of physical and mental disabilities.

What muscles are worked?

Climbing uses lots of muscle groups, both in the upper and lower body. Your back, abdominal and leg muscles all get exercised as well as your fingers, shoulders and arms. Regular climbing can improve stamina as well as muscle strength. In addition, all the reaching and stretching for holds improves flexibility and agility.

What skills are developed?

Each climbing route is like a puzzle, which requires patience, planning and analysis to complete. Beginners will typically work out their ascent as they go up, but with experience they learn to visualise their climb and spot tricky sections before reaching for their first hold.

Over time, regular rock climbing can help develop concentration, determination and problem-solving skills. As you improve, you will naturally want to push yourself further and try harder climbs or climb outdoors.

The amount of goals you can set yourself is limitless. Setting yourself goals and meeting them gives you a great sense of achievement, which in turn can help build everyday self-confidence.

While on one level rock climbing is an individual pursuit, it also has a very social component because you’re never alone (or shouldn’t be). You’ll either be climbing with a group of friends, schoolmates, colleagues or family. You tend to develop strong friendships with your climbing partners due to the level of trust involved and through sharing challenges and experiences.

Rock climbing and dyspraxia

Anecdotal evidence suggests climbing works well for people with dyspraxia (a developmental co-ordination disorder) because the environment is stable (especially if using a designated climbing wall) and the individual only has to think about how to move themselves in relation to the environment. 

The Dyspraxia Foundation says people with dyspraxia often have difficulty planning their movements, which makes it hard when they have to accommodate a changing environment as well as organising themselves, for example in team sports such as football.

Climbing is great for building upper limb strength and stability, something that some people with dyspraxia often lack and which affects functional fine motor skills such as using cutlery, handwriting and so on. Rock climbing can be done when it suits the individual, rather than having to fit in with other team members. This can be useful as some people with dyspraxia get very tired towards the end of the day or week because of the physical effort they put into getting through their day.

Climbing is also a social activity as it has to be done in pairs. This can be great for people with dyspraxia who may struggle to communicate and be sociable in a larger group because of their physical difficulties and, for some people, slow processing speed and communication difficulties. 

Rock climbing and mental health

Evidence shows that physical activity of any kind can help people with depression. Some scientists think that being active can help improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.

That is certainly the experience of Jake McManus, 41, who has suffered from depression all his life. He says rock climbing has helped him to better manage his condition and to live a near-normal life.

“When you’re on a climb, you’re in the moment, you’re entirely focused on the task at hand, and your mind is clear of all other thoughts,” says Jake. “It’s a wonderful escape.” Apart from the sense of achievement he gets from climbing, the sport has also taught him not to fear failure. “In climbing, failure is the path to improvement,” he says. “With my depression, there were days I feared to leave the house.”

Climbing has created a new dynamic for Jake, involving strong friendships, adventure and travel, healthy living and positive thinking. In a way, climbing has become Jake’s rock, a solid foundation on which he has rebuilt his life. He has set up Climb Out to share his journey and help others get outdoors and "climb out" of their problems.

What if I’m scared of heights?

“It’s natural to be scared of heights,” says Tina Gardner of the BMC. “Instinct tells us that falling from a high place will hurt. Respecting that fear keeps you alive.” She says reviewing all the precautions prior to climbing is a good way to reassure a nervous climber, for example, checking their knot is tied correctly. Gardner says the more you climb, the more confident in your own ability you will become. “You don’t want to lose that fear completely,” she says. “Over time, climbers simply learn to manage it.”

Is rock climbing safe?

Climbing can be as safe or risky as you like. There are different styles and levels – it’s all about choice and experience. You are very unlikely to get injured climbing on an indoor wall with someone holding the climbing rope below you. 

German researchers found that climbing had a lower injury incidence than many mainstream sports such as basketball, sailing or football. Indoor climbing had the fewest injuries per 1,000 hours of participation compared with all the sports studied in the 2010 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine.

How do I get started in rock climbing?

Typically, people get their first taste of rock climbing at an indoor climbing wall by tagging along with a mate who’s already into climbing. Many centres run introductory climbing sessions for different age groups, with all equipment provided, including climbing shoes and a harness. You can a find a wall near you on the BMC website.

Joining a climbing club is another common way in and has the advantage of providing you with a pool of potential climbing partners. You can also use climbbuddy to find a climbing partner or meet other climbers near you. 

At some point, you may want to experience climbing outdoors and get your hands on real rock or the crag. The BMC’s Climbing Outside booklet (PDF, 2.1Mb) is written for climbers "stepping out" for the first time. If you want to start outdoors, you can hire an outdoor climbing instructor.

For a beginner's guide to rock climbing, download Young people: climbing, hill walking and mountaineering from the BMC website.

What equipment do I need?

To climb at an indoor wall, all you need are climbing shoes (although some centres allow trainers) and comfy, unrestrictive clothes. Technical equipment, including climbing shoes, can usually be hired on site. As you progress you’ll probably want your own climbing shoes, harness, chalk bag, belay device and karabiner. Get advice from an expert before going on a shopping spree.

Source: NHS UK

Running is free, you can do it anywhere, and it burns more calories than any other mainstream exercise.

Regular running can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.

This guide is designed to make running a safe and enjoyable experience for beginners, and to provide you with tips on how to stay motivated.

Before you start

If you've not been active for a while, you may want to build your fitness levels gently with our guide to walking for health before you move on to running.

Running requires very little equipment, but a good pair of running shoes that suit your foot type will reduce the risk of injury.

There are many types of trainers on the market, so get advice from a specialist running retailer who will assess your foot and find the right shoe for you.

The shoes' shock absorbers weaken over time, increasing your risk of injury. It's advisable to replace running shoes every 300 miles (482km).

Plan your runs. Work out when and where (the exact route and time) you're going to run and put it in your diary. That way, it won't slip your mind.

If you feel out of shape, or you're recovering from injury or worried about an existing condition, see your GP before you start running.

Starting out

To avoid injury and enjoy the experience, it's essential to ease yourself into running slowly and increase your pace and distance gradually over several outings.

Start each run with a gentle warm-up of at least five minutes. This can include quick walking, marching on the spot, knee lifts, side stepping and climbing stairs.

Start walking for an amount of time that feels comfortable. 

When you first start out, try alternating between running and walking during your session.

As time goes on, make the running intervals longer until you no longer feel the need to walk.

For information on good running technique, read How to run correctly.

Give yourself a few minutes to cool down after each run by walking and a doing few stretches. Try our post-run stretch routine.

Regular running for beginners means getting out at least twice a week. Your running will improve as your body adapts to the consistent training stimulus.

It's better to run twice a week, every week, than to run six times one week and then do no running for the next three weeks.

We have produced a series of podcasts to help absolute beginners get into running.

Our Couch to 5K programme is designed to get just about anyone off the couch and running 5km in nine weeks.

Staying motivated 

Set yourself a goal

Whatever your level, setting challenges is useful to stay motivated. Training for a race, such as a 5K, or a charity run is a good way to keep going. Find a running event using our run finder or parkrun.

Run with a friend

It really helps to have someone about the same level of ability as you to run with. You'll encourage each other when you're not so keen to run. You'll feel you don't want to let your running partner down, and this will help motivate you. Find a running partner on realbuzz or JoggingBuddy.

Keep a diary

Keep a diary of your runs. Note down each run, including your route, distance, time, weather conditions and how you felt. That way, whenever your motivation is flagging, you can look back and be encouraged by how much you've improved. Check out realbuzz's running blogs.

Improve your running

If you're looking to improve your running, why not try the NHS Choices 5K+ running podcasts. Each podcast in the series provides a structured run with running music and coaching to develop your running technique, speed and stamina.

Mix it up

Keep your running interesting by adding variety. Running the same route over and over again can become boring. Vary your distances, pace and routes. Use realbuzz's route planner to find, record and share your favourite running routes.

Join a club

A running club is the perfect way to commit to running regularly. Most clubs have running groups for different levels, including beginners. Clubs are also a great way to find running partners to run with outside of club sessions. Find a running club near you with UK Athletics' club search.

Source: NHS UK

Swimming is a great form of all-round exercise. It's ideal if you want to be more active and stay healthy, whatever your age or ability.

Regular swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.

Swimming is a lifelong skill that could save a life. If you can't swim, it's never too late to learn. 

Most pools cater for a variety of tastes and abilities, such as women-only classes, parent and toddler groups, and lessons for different age groups.

This guide is designed to make swimming fun and safe for beginners of all ages, and encourage them to stick with it.

Before you start

Don't worry if you're afraid of the water or panic when you think about the deep end. Beginners' lessons focus on building confidence in the water.

A swimming costume is all you need. Make sure your swimwear is comfortable and fits properly.

If you wish to cover up, most pools allow you to wear whatever swimwear you like, within reason, such as leggings or a close-fitting, long-sleeved T-shirt.

Wearing a pair of goggles is a good idea to avoid the stinging sensation caused by chlorine in the water and to see where you're going under water.

For most people, swimming is a safe and effective form of exercise. If you're worried about an existing health condition, see your GP before you start swimming.

Starting out

The best place to get started is at your local pool. You'll find information on classes for different age groups and levels, women-only sessions, timetables and prices.

To find pools near you, use Find services: sport and fitness or contact your local authority. 

Most pools offer adult-only beginners' lessons, which focus on building water confidence and improving your stroke.

If you're unsure about starting lessons, ask if you can watch a class or two to get a better idea if it's for you, or ask to speak with one of the teachers.

A 30-minute session of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity at the pool on one or more days a week will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.

But any improvement on what you currently do is good. Even small changes can make a big difference to your health and make you feel great.

Staying motivated

Make it a habit

Try to set aside time every week to go to the pool, before or after work or on weekends. Write it in a diary so it becomes a permanent fixture in your weekly schedule. Consider getting an annual swim pass. This will help you save money and encourage you to go more often.

Take the kids

Swimming is a great way for families to get moving and have fun together. There are so many things you can do to keep the kids interested, such as humming songs under water. For more swimming games, visit Change4Life.

Swim with a friend

It really helps to go swimming regularly with someone of about the same ability as you. You'll encourage each other when you're not so keen to go to the pool. You'll feel you don't want to let your swimming partner down and this will help motivate you.

Mix it up

The swimming pool makes a great playground and a great gym, even for non-swimmers, with activities such as aquafit. However, learning to swim will introduce you to a whole new world of water-based activities in the pool and beyond.

Join a club

If you enjoy swimming and want to get more involved, consider joining a club. Clubs are a great way to make new friends, improve your swimming and motivate you to exercise regularly. Most clubs have a lively social scene away from the pool, with trips and nights out. Find a swimming club near you.

Open water swimming

For competent swimmers there is a world of swimming opportunities beyond the pool, such as rivers, lakes and the sea. Open water swimming can be great fun so long as you take the necessary safety precautions.

Avoid swimming alone. Plan your swim: check the water temperature, entry and exit points, currents and tides (where relevant), weather conditions and water cleanliness.

For more information, including a wild swim map, visit the Outdoor Swimming Society.

Source: NHS UK

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Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.

It's underrated as a form of exercise, but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active.

Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.

Use this guide to increase the amount of walking you do every week and maximise the health benefits.

Before you start

Any shoes or trainers that are comfortable, provide adequate support and don't cause blisters will do.

Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely. Choose thin layers, which you can add or remove depending on conditions.

If you're walking to work, you could wear your usual work clothes with a comfy pair of shoes and change shoes when you get into work.

For long walks, you may want to take some water, healthy snacks, a spare top, sunscreen and a sunhat in a small backpack.

If you start going for regular, longer walks, you may want to invest in a waterproof jacket and some specialist walking shoes for more challenging routes.

Starting out

Start slowly and try to build your walking regime gradually. To get the health benefits from walking, it needs to be of moderate-intensity activity. In other words, it needs to be faster than a stroll.

If, to begin with, you can only walk fast for a couple of minutes, that's fine. Don't overdo it on your first day.

You can break up your activity into 10-minute chunks, as long as you're doing your activity at a moderate intensity.

Begin every walk slowly and gradually increase your pace. After a few minutes, if you're ready, try walking a little faster. 

Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. Most of us walk between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day anyway, so reaching 10,000 isn't as daunting as it might sound.

Towards the end of your walk, gradually slow down your pace to cool down. Finish off with a few gentle stretches, which will improve your flexibility.

From walking to the shops or part of your journey to work, to walking the dog and organised group walks, try to make every step count.

Staying motivated

Make it a habit

The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit. Think of ways to include walking into your daily routine. Examples include: 

  • walking part of your journey to work
  • walking to the shops
  • using the stairs instead of the lift
  • leaving the car behind for short journeys
  • walking the kids to school
  • doing a regular walk with a friend
  • going for a stroll with family or friends after dinner

If you live in a city, Walkit has an interactive walk planner to help you find the best walking route. Each suggested route includes your journey time, calorie burn, step count and carbon saving.

Mix it up

Add variety to your walks. You don't have to travel to the countryside to find a rewarding walk. Towns and cities offer interesting walks, including parks, heritage trails, canal towpaths, riverside paths, commons, woodlands, heaths and nature reserves. For inspiring walks, visit Walk Unlimited

For wheelchair users, visit Walks with wheelchairs and for parents with buggies, visit Walks with buggies.

Join a walking group

Walking in a group is a great way to start walking, make new friends and stay motivated.

Walking for Health's Walk Finder allows you to search for organised walks near you. Many of the walks are aimed at people who do little or no exercise, but who would like to become more active. Watch a video about Walking for Health's walking groups.

Ramblers organises group walks for health, leisure and as a means of getting around to people of all ages, backgrounds and for all levels of fitness. Its website has details of many locally organised walks in towns and cities, as well as the countryside.

The UK's 15 National Parks run free guided walks for the whole family during the holidays.

Become a volunteer

One way to keep walking regularly is by becoming a volunteer to promote walking in your community and help other people get active. Walking for Health is England's largest network of health walk schemes, helping people across the country lead a more active lifestyle. Volunteering is a great way to keep active, make new friends and explore your local area. Watch a video about volunteering for Walking for Health.

Set yourself a goal

You can walk 1,000 steps in around 10 minutes. Pedometers are a fun way to keep track of your walking. Use a pedometer to work out your average daily steps and then start adding extra steps. Find out how you can benefit from walking 10,000 steps on five or more days a week.

Source: NHS UK

Unfold Close  FITNESS GUIDANCE
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10-minute abs workout

Tone your tummy muscles and get a flat stomach with this 10-minute abs workout.

These abdominal exercises from physiotherapist Nick Sinfield strengthen your core muscles, which are the muscles around your trunk.

Before you begin, get limber with a 6-minute warm-up routine. Afterwards, cool down with a 5-minute stretch.

Stomach crunch

Target: abdominal muscles

Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your hands on your thighs, across your chest or behind your ears. Slowly curl up towards your knees until your shoulders are about three inches off the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds and lower down slowly. Perform 12 stomach crunches.

Tips:

  • Don't tuck your neck into your chest as you rise.
  • Contract your abs throughout the exercise.
  • Don't yank your head off the floor.

Oblique crunch

Target: oblique muscles

Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Roll your knees to one side down to the floor. Place your hands across your chest or behind your ears. Slowly curl up towards your hips until your shoulders are about three inches off the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds and lower down slowly. Perform 12 oblique crunches and repeat on the opposite side.

Tips:

  • Don't tuck your neck into your chest as you rise.
  • Contract your abs throughout the exercise.
  • Don't yank your head off the floor.

Plank

Target: lower back and core muscles

Lie on your front propped up on your forearms and toes. Keep your legs straight and hips raised to create a straight and rigid line from head to toe. Your shoulders should be directly above your elbows. Focus on keeping your abs contracted during the exercise. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 8 to 10 times.

Tips:

  • Don't allow your lower back to sink during the exercise.
  • You should be looking at the floor.
  • For an easier version, perform the plank with your knees on the floor.

Side plank

Target: lower back and core muscles

Lie on your side propped up on an elbow. Your shoulder should be directly above your elbow. Straighten your legs and raise your hips to create a straight and rigid line from head to toe. Keep your neck long and your shoulders down and away from your ears. Keep your abs contracted during the exercise. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 8 to 10 times. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

Tips:

  • Keep your hips forward during the exercise.
  • Don't let your lower back sink.
  • For an easier version, perform the side plank with your knees on the floor.

Stomach crunch with legs raised

Target: lower abdominals

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your hands across your chest. Slowly pull your knees into your chest, keeping them bent at 90 degrees, until your buttocks and tailbone come off the floor. Hold the position for a moment and lower down slowly. Perform 12 crunches.

Tips:

  • Contract your abdominals throughout the exercise.
  • Don't tuck your neck into your chest as you rise.
  • Don't use your hands to pull your neck up.

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Sometimes you learn things the hard way. But we don’t want you to! So this is why I thought it was really important to get you prepared to protect your body against injury as you work out. Lately, we have been talking about a lot of power and plyometric exercises, running, Insanity, that sort of thing. And I had said how some of these types of exercises can be hard on your joints, especially your knees and ankles.

We put a lot of pressure on our joints as we exercise. And ironically, our joints have no muscles of their own. Thus, in order to protect them, we have to work on strengthening the muscles around the joint so that the impact of our exercises would be captured by those muscles rather than the joints.

A classic example is our knees. The knee seems to be one of the most bruised and battered joints in the body. When we jump around, they feel the pressure. When we do squats and the kind, they feel the pressure. When we run, they feel the pressure. And yet, the knees are very sensitive. So what can you do to protect them? Work one of the largest muscle groups that help support the knees – the abductors and adductors.
 

Abductors

The abductor muscles in your legs are the upper thigh muscles used to pull the legs away from the midline of the body and away from one another. So remember those machines at the gym where you sit and open your knees with weights? That’s what they are meant to work on. If you don’t have strong abductors, you transfer the pressure to your knees and ankles when you perform exercises that require you open and close your knees. One great example of an exercise that may require opening your knees? The jumping jack.

If you do the jumping jack and find yourself twisting your knees inward rather than outward, and if you are not landing softly on your knees (slightly bending when you land), you may need to work harder to strengthen your abductors.

How do you do that? Besides the machines, here are a couple of exercises to help:

Bridge: Lie flat on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent and open slightly. Keep your arms straight beside you with your palms down. Slowly lift your butt off the floor using your outer thigh strength. Be careful that your knees do not start to open up or fall slowly to the side. Stay up for about 3 seconds and lower down. That is one rep. Repeat as many times as you can.
Hip abduction: Stand tall with your palms on your waist. Transfer your weight to your left leg, bend the left knee slightly, and raise your right foot off the floor. Slowly, extend your right leg to the right side of your body using your outer hip. It is not as easy as it seems. Keep your weight in your left thigh, while keeping your left knee loose and keeping your right leg lifted. Bring your right knee back toward the left without having it touch the floor. That is 1 rep. Repeat as many times as you can, and then switch sides.

Alternatively, you could do this exercise lying on one side propped up on your elbow, or standing and holding a chair.

Adductors

If the abductor muscles are used to pull the legs away from the midline of the body and apart, then who can guess what the adductors do? They are used to pull the legs towards the midline of the body. So remember the inner thigh machines you see? These are the muscles that are being worked on. Runners are usually very affected when they have poor adductors because the knees are beginning to poke to the sides when they run. This can cause major damage.

If you find yourself struggling to keep your knees together in certain poses, meaning they kind of slump if you’re not actively managing the pose, then you may need to work on your adductors.

Here are a couple of exercises you can try:

Squat: You all know how to do a perfect squat by now, right? Stand with legs shoulder-width or wider apart. Lower your butt into a squatting position while keeping your upper body upright. Your but should be as low as possible, while you still try to keep your knees behind your ankles. Pushing your knees in front of your ankles might help you get lower, but it might also hurt your knees. As you go low, tighten your butt and try to imagine your hips squeezing tight towards each other. Stand and repeat.
To work these muscles better, try single-leg squats or wall sits. This works the adductors harder because it adds the balance factor.

Deadlift: Stand with feet slightly apart. Lower your upper body slowly down as if you’re reaching for your toes. Keep the knees slightly bent (just slightly). As you get closer to your toes, you’d notice you start feeling it in your lower back. Slowly come back up and repeat. Try to also squeeze the thigh muscles as you lower down and come up.  You can do this exercise with or without weights, but weights definitely work the adductor muscles much harder.
 
To make this work harder for you, lift one leg backwards as you go down.

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Achilles tendon is commonly affected by inflammation and strain, either due to the physical degeneration or excessive use (for example, strenuous work-out programs, running, jogging, playing basketball or tennis etc.) and inappropriate footwear; in addition, stiff calf and hamstring muscles can also lead to that disorder, known as achilles tendonitis. To cope with the situation, you can carry out some achilles tendon stretches.

Achilles Tendon Area

Achilles Tendon Area

The Area

The achilles tendon runs along the back of the lower leg and occupies the region between the two calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus, connecting them and linking them to the heel bone. Being under continuous load, even when a person is just standing, and responsible for volatile and forceful movements like jumping or climbing stairs, this particular tendon is very susceptible to attrition and injury (achilles tendonitis or/and rupture). Since the calf muscles and the achilles tendon actually form a unit of the lower leg, it is no wonder that the latter can be considerably profited by performing calf stretches, although sometimes that is not enough.

Achilles Tendon Stretching Exercises

As mentioned above, stretching your gastrocnemius (the upper calf region), your soleus muscle as well as your hamstring muscles with a series of exercises presented here and here, and keeping them in shape, is considered as a fairly reliable way for relieving your achilles tendon. Nevertheless, a bunch of more detailed stretches, particularly designated for the achilles tendon, has been developed; luckily, most of these exercises can be carried out without the need of going to the gym or without necessitating any special apparatuses (yet, supervision is required, primarily when performing them for the first times). Before you apply any of the stretches described below you should read our stretching guide! So:

  • Stand in front of a wall, leaving approximately one foot’s distance; now, extend your arms, shoulder-width apart, and lean forward to the wall; put your left leg behind you, at about 1,5-2 feet distance from the right, with its foot in contact with the floor, keeping the right leg close to the wall; now, lean slowly towards the wall and bend the knee of the left leg – without lifting up the heel –; then, drop down a bit with your hips until the point you feel a stretch in the back of the left leg; hold it there, relax and repeat with the other leg. If this particular passive/static stretch (photo 1) reminds you a typical calf stretch, you are not mistaken, however the additional bending of your knee is a small but critical detail, as it makes the stretch work more on the achilles tendon and not on the calf. You can also apply a dynamic version of the previous stretch with repetitions of bending and straightening your knees (photo 2)
  • Another great passive/static stretch (photo 3): stand in front of a flight of stairs holding the handrails; step up with both feet but touch the step only with your toes (leaving the heels on the air), and make sure you do not bend your knees; now, bring your heels down gently and, as soon you feel the stretch on the achilles, hold it there for some seconds.
  • A trickier dynamic one, which does not target exactly at your achilles (it rather focuses on the calf muscles, but it is intended to significantly benefit the tendon): stand with your legs jointly placing your hands on your midsection; now, slightly bend your knees while at the same time trying to make circular moves without separating your legs and without relocating your feet or lifting them off the floor; keep up with that for 15 seconds (or about 10 circles) and then reverse the motion for another set; perform 3-4 sets.

Hold the static stretches for 20-30 seconds, repeat for 3-4 times, and carry out this routine for at least 3 times a week (obviously depending on your needs). Like always, the static form of stretches we described above can be replaced by isometric, active isolated or dynamic variations of the same stretches!

Benefits

  • It combats the tendon’s tendency to tear
  • It alleviates from achilles tendon pain
  • It reduces the risk of tendonitis
  • It massively decreases the risk of an injury
  • It can improve the ankle’s range of motion
  • It applies controlled pressure work to the area and significantly strengthens the muscles and tendons thanks to increased blood circulation and oxygenation

What To Consider

  • Make controlled and not jerky movements
  • Stair stretches are considered effective but they can get painful at times; hence, if you sense pain, it is preferable to abort and perform another exercise
  • The fact that you can stretch your achilles tendon at practically any occasion and any place does not necessarily suggest that you will do it properly, and that can provoke more harm than good; so, be sure you use a balanced technique
  • Ask for professional advice before beginning

Photos & Videos

In order to fully understand how exactly to perform the aforementioned stretches we are providing a few photos and a video:

Achilles Tendon Stretch

Photo 1

Achilles Tendon Stretch

Photo 2

Achilles Tendon Stretch

Photo 3

Our Opinion

Performing stretches for the achilles tendon and applying controlled pressure to this area on a regular basis can definitely provide solid help in the prevention or the treatment of achilles tendonitis. Working on your soleus in particular is a highly effective way of keeping your achilles tendon healthy. However, this particular body spot is, due to its nature, not only extremely susceptible to injuries but also very difficulty to be accurately targeted and isolated in order for the stretching to be truly effective. For these reasons, seeking professional advice before attempting to carry out an achilles tendon stretching routine is absolutely essential, particularly in case you have already experienced an injury in the past, while the stretching exercises should be accomplished under supervision by a skilled trainer, at least during your first endeavors. Besides a look to our general stretching guide would also be proved beneficial!

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Ankle exercices(14 photos)

We explain ankle exercises for rehabilitation of specific injuries as well as mobility, strengthening, prioprioception (balance) and functional or sports specific exercises.

Injury specific exercises

If you are looking for exercises for a specific ankle injury:

Mobility exercises

The aim of mobility exercises is to restore range of motion without putting any damaged tissues under stress. The exact exercises and how quickly you progress through will depend on the type and severity of injury. If you have had an ankle sprain then avoiding lateral or sideways movements may be important in the early stages.

Active ankle mobility

Ankle mobilityActive mobility exercises where the athlete physically moves the joint through a range of motion are often done early on. They will help to increase movement at the joint and also pumping the ankle up and down will help reduce swelling. Exercises can be performed seated or standing. If an ankle sprain has occurred then only up and down movements should be done initially, protecting the lateral ligaments at the side. As it heals, sideways mobility and writing the alphabet with the toes may also be performed.

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Active ankle eversion

Ankle exercise eversonAnkle eversion is the movement of turning the sole of the foot outwards and is controlled by the peroneal muscles on the outer calf. The athlete starts in a side lying position with the ankle to be worked on top. Start in inversion (with the ankle turned in) and move the foot upwards, turning the sole of the foot out. Slowly return to the starting position under control.

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Balance board & proprioception exercises

Proprioception is our sense and awareness of the position of our body parts and is closely linked to balance. Having good proprioception helps to reduce the risk of injury. The following exercises improve the co-ordination of the joint which is usually damaged with a lower leg injury, especially ankle sprains, helping to prevent recurring injuries.

Wobble balance board exercises

Balance board exercisesWobble boards are excellent for ankle proprioception and strength training post injury as well part of your normal training routine to help prevent ankle sprains. A range of different exercises can be performed from simple mobility circles up to eyes closed one legged squats. See our top 10 wobble board exercises...

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Heel toe balance

Heel toe balanceThe heel toe balance exercise, sometimes called a tandem stance is designed to start to work on proprioception and balance. This is a good build-up to wobble board work. The patient stands with the involved foot immediately behind the other foot, with the toes touching the front heel as shown. This position should be held for 30 seconds without losing balance.

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Stork balance

Stork balance exerciseResisted eccentric inversion is a great exercise for using after ankle sprains to help reduce the chance of future injuries.  The athlete begins by standing on the injured leg only for 30 seconds.

Once this is accomplished the athlete closes their eyes to increase the difficulty. The next step is to balance on an unstable surface such as a trampette, wobble cushion or half foam roller.

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Medicine ball catch

Medicine ball catch ankle exerciseThe medicine ball catch exercise is designed to challenge the single leg balance with an unknown. This develops proprioception after lower limb injuries. Start off standing on a single leg. Get a partner or therapist to throw a ball towards you so you can catch it. Maintain your balance throughout. Start with gentle throws directly towards your body. As you improve try slightly harder throws or throws slightly off to the side or overhead. A further challenge is to do the same exercise whilst balancing on a wobble board.

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Early strengthening exercises

Strengthening exercises can begin as soon as pain allows. The aim is to gradually increase the load through the tissues. We have categorized strengthening exercises into early stage, mid stage and later stage.

Isometric inversion and eversion

Isometric ankle exercisesThis exercise is used to begin to strengthen the ankle invertors (tibialis posterior) and evertors (peroneals) in the early stages of treatment. To strengthen the invertors, the athlete pushes the inside of the foot against a table or chair leg, trying to turn the foot inwards against resistance. To strengthen the evertors, the athlete pushes the outside of the foot against a table or chair leg, trying to turn the foot outwards. This exercise can also be performed with a therapist providing

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Plantar flexion with band

Plantar flexion ankle exercisePlantar flexion is the ankle movement of moving the foot down, pointing the toes away from the body. Using a resistance band is an early stage exercise for calf strengthening. The band is wrapped around the forefoot with the ends held in both hands. Starting with the toes pointing up, the athlete pushes the foot down against the resistance of the band. This can be done with a bent knee to target the Soleus muscle more than Gastrocnemius.

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Dorsi flexion with band

Dorsi flexion ankle exerciseDorsiflexion is the movement of pulling the foot upwards. Using a resistance band to perform this movement will strengthen the shin muscles. The band is wrapped around the forefoot and anchored to a fixed point in front of the foot. The athlete starts with the foot pointed away and dorsiflexes or pulls the foot up so the toes point to the ceiling. Return to the starting position slowly and under complete control.

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Toe raise

Or foot raise exercises work the shin muscles at the front of the lower leg. This is an early stage exercise which can be progressed using a resistance band.  To strengthen the shin muscles the athlete raises the toes and forefoot up off the floor. Initially this should be seated, before performing in a standing position and then on an incline with the toes lower than the heels. When standing, ensure you have something to hold onto for balance purposes.

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Posterior tibialis exercise

Posterior tibialis exerciseThe posterior tibialis exercise targets this muscle specifically by combining the two movements which it performs. This muscle may need strengthening to help reduce overpronation.  The band is looped around the forefoot of the exercising leg with the other leg crossed over the top. The athlete simultaneously pushes the foot down and turns the sole of the foot in against the resistance. The combination of plantarflexion and inversion works the Tibialis Posterior.

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Mid stage ankle exercises

These ankle exercises are usually done when the athlete can walk pain free although this will depend on the type of injury and how bad it is. Follow the advice of your specialist practitioner.

Seated calf raise

Seated calf raiseThe seated calf raise exercise is used to strengthen the calf muscles, especially Soleus. It is an early stage exercise which can be progressed to standing once this is pain free. To strengthen the Soleus muscle, the athlete performs a heel raise in a seated position. Bending the knee relaxes the overlying Gastrocnemius. A bar weight can be added to the thighs to increase difficulty. Ensure the downward phase is performed slowly and under complete control.

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Calf raise on a step

The calf raise is a widely used exercise to strengthen the calf muscles. There are many variations and resistance machines are also available.  Start on a step with only the forefoot on the step, the heels off the back. Rise up onto the toes and then slowly back down. To make this harder it can be performed with a weight in each hand, barbell over the shoulders or on a single leg.

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Eccentric heel drop

The eccentric heel drop places the emphasis of the movement on the downward phase so that the calf muscles must contract as they lengthen to control dorsiflexion.  Start on a step with the heels off the back so only the forefoot is on the step. Stand on one leg on tip toes with the knee straight and slowly lower the heel down below the level of the step. Place the other forefoot on the step and use both legs evenly to lift back up to the toes. Go back onto one leg and repeat.

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Resistance band inversion

Also known as pronation is the movement of turning the foot so that the sole faces inwards. A resistance band is great for this exercise and other ankle exercises. A resistance band is wrapped around the forefoot and anchored to a table leg or held by a partner. This exercises works the ankle inverter muscles as the athlete turns the foot in against the resistance of the band. Start with the foot fully everted (sole turned outwards) and the band just taught so that resistance is felt throughout the whole movement.

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Resisted eccentric inversion

Is a great exercise for using after ankle sprains to help reduce the chance of future injuries. A therapist or partner is required to move the ankle. The patient is seated with the legs out straight. The therapist starts to move the ankle into inversion (so the sole faces inwards). The patient then tries to control and slow this motion.

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Heel toe walking

Is a great exercise for the ankle and calf muscles. It will strengthen all muscles of the lower leg, as well as help improve proprioception or balance.  Walk slowly across the floor. Start with a heel strike and once you get to the forefoot push-off, come up onto the toes. Swing the other leg forward and heel strike with the next foot to continue.

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Ankle eversion with band

Ankle eversion is also sometimes known as supination and is the movement of turning the foot so the sole faces outwards (away from the other foot). A resistance band is very useful for ankle exercises. The athlete sits on the floor as shown with the band wrapped around the foot to be worked. The other end of the band is attached to something sturdy on the other side of the body. The starting position is with the foot in inversion (sole turned in to face the other foot). At this point the band should just be taught to ensure resistance throughout the whole movement. Turn the foot outwards as far as is comfortable before slowly returning to the starting position.

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Late stage / Sports specific & functional

These are more advanced exercises related more to day to day activities (functional exercises) or sports specific exercises designed to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and returning to full training or competition. Agility drills involving acceleration and change of direction may be developed depending on your sport.

Box jumps

Box jumps are a form of advanced exercises called plyometrics. They strengthen the entire leg ready for powerful, explosive movements and also aid proprioception development.  Numerous exercises can be created using a box or step to jump over. To start the athlete may jump sideways over the box, moving rapidly from one foot on one side, to the other foot on the other side. This may also be performed front to back. A further progression is high jumps over the box, firstly landing on two feet and progressing to one.

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Hopping exercises

Are important in late stage rehabilitation in lots of sports. They help to improve balance, proprioception and explosive strength. Many variations on hopping exercises are available. Start with a small hop on the spot and gradually increase the height jumped. Try hopping to the front, to the side and backwards. Try hopping from one leg and landing on the other. Equipment such as hoops, agility ladders and minim hurdles can all be used to add further challenge.

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Resistance band jumps

The resistance band jump exercise is a great late stage proprioception test! Hops and jumps can be used in the early stages but using the band adds an extra challenge. A resistance band is wrapped around the waist and anchored or held behind the athlete. They then perform side to side or forwards and backward jumps. The resistance from the band provides a challenge to the balance.

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Step back

Step back exercises can be used as late stage ankle exercises to increase push-off strength, but will also work the hip and bum muscles. Take one leg backwards, touch the foot on the floor and push off with the forefoot to move it back onto the step. Alternate legs. This can be increased indifficulty by performing on a higher step or at a faster speed.

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BEST EXERCISES FOR A COMPLETE BACK WORKOUT

The back is comprised of four distinct muscle groups. Here's how to zero in on each one.

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The back isn't only one of the body's biggest and strongest bodyparts, it's also the most complicated in terms of being a series of interconnected muscle groups. For the purposes of this feature we're dividing the back into its four main regions: 1) the upper and outer lats, 2) the lower lats, 3) the middle back and 4) the lower back. Each area requires specific stimulation via the exercises and angles of attack used, and we'll show you the two best exercises for each.

With this menu, you can customize your own workout by choosing one exercise from each category to create a total program. Or if one region is lagging, you can pick additional movements that hit that area only. Either way, fully understanding which back exercises hit which portions of your back will allow you to build shape (in particular the V-taper), thickness and width.

Note: Many of the exercises we include here do not isolate but rather emphasize certain areas of the back musculature.

AREA 1: UPPER/OUTER LATS

Use moves in which you utilize a wide grip, typically outside your shoulders, which develop the area that makes up your V-taper. You'll usually pull from an angle above your head or perpendicular to your body.

Best Exercises: Pull-Up (wide grip), Bent-Over Barbell Row (wide grip)

PULLUP (WIDE GRIP)

  • Grasp the bar with an overhand grip. Fully extend your arms and relax your shoulders to stretch your lats in the bottom position.
  • As you pull up, visualize keeping your elbows out to your sides and pulling them down to raise yourself while contracting your lats.
  • Pull yourself up as high as possible to fully stimulate your lats.
  • If you can't make it all the way up, consider enlisting the help of a spotter or use an assisted pull-up machine.

Target Tip - To really stress the upper/outer lats and teres major in the bottom position, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you hang with your arms fully extended.

BENT-OVER BARBELL ROW (WIDE GRIP)

  • Don't stand on a flat bench or platform to increase your range of motion; you're more likely to round your low back at the bottom. If you do need greater range of motion, use smaller plates to allow you to clear the floor rather than trying to balance yourself on a flat bench.
  • Using a wider-than-shoulder-width grip allows you to keep your elbows out to your sides and pull them back as high as possible for a full contraction.
  • Keep your knees bent and remainin the bent-over position throughout. It's easy to rise from this position when using heavy weights, but that recruits other muscle groups to assist in the move.

Target Tip - To target those outer lats and teres major, pull the bar high toward your upper abs.

AREA 2: LOWER LATS

Use reverse-grip moves and close-grip pull-ups/pulldowns to more strongly emphasize the lower lat area. One of the few single-joint lat moves, the straight-arm pulldown, does this as well.

Best Exercises: Reverse-Grip Pulldown, Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown

REVERSE-GRIP PULLDOWN

  • Take an underhand, shoulder-width grip. This allows you to pull your elbows back as far as possible, maximally stimulating the back muscles.
  • Keep your torso upright and a slight arch in your back as you fully extend your arms at the top. Keep your chest out and flexed throughout the move; this helps concentrate more stress on the back muscles.
  • Pull your elbows down and back as far as you can until the bar approaches your upper pecs. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the point of peak contraction.

Target Tip - To focus in on those lower-lat fibers, keep your chest high and your back arched. As you pull the bar down, bring it toward your lower chest for a better contraction.

STRAIGHT-ARM LAT PULLDOWN

  • Grasp an overhead lat bar and stand far enough back from the station to keep your arms nearly straight (with just a slight bend in your elbows) throughout the movement.
  • Pull the bar down in an arc with straight arms until it touches your upper thighs. Concentrate on feeling the movement in your lats; your arms should act only as levers.
  • Movement should take place at only the shoulder joints.

Target Tip - For optimal stimulation of the lower lats, don't just stop when the bar touches your thighs at the bottom - actually push the bar back into your thighs and squeeze your lats as hard as you can.

AREA 3: MIDDLE BACK

Use close- and medium-grip rowing moves in which you pull the bar, dumbbell or handle into your midsection or sides to best build back thickness.

Best Exercises: One-Arm Dumbbell Row, Close-Grip Seated Cable Row

ONE-ARM DUMBBELL ROW

  • Lean forward at the waist and place your right knee and right hand on a flat bench.
  • Keep your left foot flat on the floor and hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Let the weight hang straight down and slightly forward with your arm fully extended.
  • Pull the dumbbell toward your hip, keeping your elbow close to your side.
  • Keeping your back flat and abs tight, pull your elbow as high as you can. At the top, squeeze your shoulder blades together, then lower the weight along the same path.
  • Repeat for reps, then switch arms.

Target Tip - In the bottom position, hold the dumbbell slightly forward from your shoulder; as you go through the rep, pull it up and back.

CLOSE-GRIP SEATED CABLE ROW

  • Keep a slight bend in your knees to reduce pressure on them and maintain better balance.
  • Though you might think leaning forward allows a greater range of motion, keeping your torso upright hits the middle back more while also minimizing stress on the lumbar region.
  • Keep a slight arch in your low back at all times.
  • Pull your shoulders and elbows back as far as possible so the bar touches your midsection.

Target Tip - Hold the peak contraction for a second or two and squeeze your shoulder blades together for optimal stimulation.

AREA 4: LOWER BACK

Use moves in which you bend at the waist (not the hips, which work glutes and hams) to work the low-back muscles, a critical area to strengthen to prevent low-back pain.

Best Exercises: Back Extension, Stiff-Legged Deadlift

BACK EXTENSION

  • Once you're situated on the bench, cross your arms over your chest or behind your head (this is more difficult); alternatively, you can hold a weight plate close to your chest to increase the intensity.
  • Slowly bend at the waist as far as you can, rounding your back as you go.
  • Contract your low-back muscles to raise your torso until you reach the starting position. Don't use a ballistic motion, and avoid going too high; contrary to what some people call this move, hyperextending your back isn't a good idea.

Target Tip - Set up the back extension bench so that your hips are fully supported. This prevents movement at the hips and focuses the force on the lower-back muscles.

STIFF-LEGGED DEADLIFT

  • The bar comes closer to the floor in the stiff-legged version than the romanian deadlift, a range of motion that works the lower back more.
  • As you bend at the waist, push your glutes back and allow the bar to hang freely straight down from your shoulders. Your legs should be straight.
  • Keep your lower-back muscles contracted throughout as you resist the weight's descent.
  • Push your hips forward as you rise. Stand straight up without leaning backward at the top. The bar should rest across the top of your thighs.
  • Concentrate on pulling with your back and hip muscles, not your arms, when raising your torso.

Target Tip - As opposed to the romanian deadlift, allow your lower back to round slightly in the bottom position.

BUILDING YOUR BACK WORKOUT

1) Include one exercise that targets each area of your back in your routine.

2) To train for mass, after your warm-up sets do 2-3 sets in the 8-12-rep range. For strength, go heavy with low-rep sets (4-7 reps); for muscle definition and endurance, go lighter and do high-rep sets (15-25 reps).

A mass workout that focuses on building outer lat width but still hits all areas of the back would look something like the chart below (not including warm-up sets). Rest 1-2 minutes between each set.

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Biceps exercices(12 photos)

They may not be the biggest or the strongest group on your body, but your biceps are arguably the best "show" muscles. Upon hearing the clarion cry, "sun's out, guns out," you don't want to flee into the shadows like a vampire with flabby arms.

Functionally, the biceps are pretty straightforward—they just flex the elbow—yet humankind has come a long way since the days of hoisting a club. Today, there is a dizzying array of movements to bring out every vein, bulge, and peak.

To see the full array, check out the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database, which hosts video demonstrations of hundreds of exercises with top models from the industry. Below are the top ten biceps exercises as rated by you—our users!

EXERCISE 1 INCLINE HAMMER CURLS

While you rate this No. 1, we give it mixed reviews. The incline bench position increases the stretch on the long head of the biceps, while the neutral grip increases emphasis on the brachioradialis and brachialis. But the "hammer" takes some of the tension away from the long head, negating the benefit you gain from sitting at an incline.

Test this yourself by simply placing your right hand on your left biceps. Move your left hand from palm up to palm sideways and you can feel the tension change in your biceps.

Incline Hammer Curls

INCLINE HAMMER CURLS

EXERCISE 2 INCLINE INNER-BICEPS CURL

The biceps brachii actually consists of two portions or "heads," with differing attachment points. The "long" head actually attaches above the shoulder joint, which means that the position of the upper arm relative to the body can determine how much each head of the biceps helps during a curl.

This exercise gets your humerus behind your body, stretching the long head to the max. The more horizontal the bench, the more the long head will be stretched.

Incline Inner biceps curl

INCLINE INNER BICEPS CURL

EXERCISE 3 STANDING CONCENTRATION CURL

In contrast, concentration curls place the arm in front of the body with a rotation in the shoulder. While this decreases recruitment of the long head, it potentially increases biceps thickness and peak by better short head and brachialis recruitment.

I recommend placing your free hand on your off leg to support your body weight. When you hit failure using a supinated grip, switch over to a hammer grip and burn out a few extra reps.

EXERCISE 4 EZ BAR CURL

Many find the EZ bar significantly more comfortable than a straight bar. It shifts a little bit of the load from the biceps brachii to your other elbow flexors, so an argument could be made that the EZ bar curl is the best all-around biceps builder.

EZ bar curl

EZ BAR CURL

EXERCISE 5 WIDE-GRIP STANDING BARBELL CURL

Taking a wider-than-normal grip will cause you to externally rotate at the shoulder, so your humerus changes its position. This prompts more involvement from the short head of the biceps. For this and all barbell curls, avoid cheating reps by leaning back. If you want to overload the top, use bands, chains, or a partner for forced reps.

wide-grip standing barbell curl

WIDE-GRIP STANDING BARBELL CURL

EXERCISE 6 ZOTTMAN CURL

Are you having trouble deciding which biceps exercise to do? Choose the Zottman. In this movement you have a palms-up (supinated) grip on the way up and a palms-down grip (pronated) as you lower the weight. All of your elbow flexors get hit in one swoop. The brachioradialis and the brachialis take heat on the negative, and during the curling motion itself, the biceps brachii bears the load.

My recommendation would be to rotate the wrist as you come up instead of just doing it at the bottom before the rep starts. Some of your elbow flexors act as supinators as well, and rotating the wrist during the curl instead of at the bottom will load up that function.

zottman curl

ZOTTMAN CURL

EXERCISE 7 BARBELL CURL

The classic! If you did only this movement for biceps, you would still come out ahead. Since the amount of wrist rotation helps determine how much work our biceps brachii work, it makes sense to maximize supination in a movement where we can load fairly heavy.

Play around with your grip width. It may reduce discomfort that some experience with a barbell, as well as emphasize a different part of the biceps. A narrower grip will emphasize the long head; a wider grip, the short head.

EXERCISE 8 DUMBBELL BICEPS CURL

A dumbbell curl is a basic movement that seems to be the icon of fitness. Don't believe me? Just nose around our site; it seems like half of our banners have someone doing a dumbbell curl! Dumbbells allow the wrists to move freely.

Most people will adopt at least a little bit of wrist rotation as they curl—just try to keep as much supination as is comfortable.

EXERCISE 9 HAMMER CURL

The "hammer" or neutral wrist position will typically be our strongest curl. This is because all of our elbow flexors are actively involved; the brachialis is worked the hardest. I would recommend doing this movement like a concentration curl or on a preacher bench. This should minimize cheating and maximize recruitment.

Preacher Hammer Dumbbell Curl

PREACHER HAMMER DUMBBELL CURL

EXERCISE10 OVERHEAD CABLE CURL

This movement is a great way to practice your front double biceps pose as you train. With our arms in this position, brachialis recruitment is maximized. The higher your elbow, the more isolated the brachialis is from the biceps brachii.

A good variation is to do one arm at a time, getting the arm straight up (against the head), curling behind your head.

OVERHEAD CABLE CURL

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Organs Of The Body

There are almost 78 organs in a human body which vary according to their sizes, functions or actions. An organ is a collection of millions of cells which group together to perform single functions in a our body. The cells in these body organs are highly specialized and form for all the necessary actions for some specific time. Out of these 78 organs of a male or female body, skin is the largest organ with respect to its size and weight. The major organ in the body of human beings is the brain which is primarily responsible for performing all the functions and actions of the body. Other major organs of the body are given in the following list with names, diseases, location and functions.

Human Brain, The Brain Facts

Human Brain

Made up of about 100 billion neurons and contributing nearly 2% of body-weight, brain is the supreme structural and functional unit and control center of the body and the superior-most region of CNS (Central Nervous System). Broadly speaking, major part of the brain...

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Thyroid Gland Function

Thyroid

Thyroid gland is the largest endocrine gland in adult human. Endocrine glands are those that secrete their products directly into the bloodstream. In contrast, most exocrine glands release their secretions through a duct onto an epithelial surface such as skin or mucosa...

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Structure Of Skin

Skin

Do you really know or want to know, "What is skin?" A comprehensive answer is that it is outer covering which protects all the delicate body parts lying underneath it. It is the largest organ of our body which consists of several tissues including sweat glands, hair...

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Lungs, Lungs Diseases, Functions Of Lungs

Lungs

Lungs are the major organ of our respiratory system, helping us obtain oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. Our chest cavity houses a pair of lungs which open to the external environment through the nose and mouth. A cylindrical tube, called trachea, is the main link between...

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Heart Diseases, Functions And Structure

Heart

A simple answer to "What is heart" is that it is the main organ of our body's circulatory system, pumping blood throughout the body. It is a muscular pump which contracts at regular intervals in order to squeeze the blood through it into the blood vessels. There are four...

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What Is Pancreas? Location And Diseases Of Pancreas

Pancreas

Pancreas is one of the extrinsic glands of the digestive system. It has mixed endocrine and exocrine functions, and is present outside the wall of the digestive tract. In order to fully understand, "What is pancreas?" you must know its location, functions and disease...

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Human Liver Anatomy, What Is A Liver?

Liver

Although skin is considered to be the largest organ of the human body, liver is known to be the largest internal organ and the largest gland in the human body. One may wonder about "What is a liver?" and what a purpose it serves. Being a glandular structure, it is an organize...

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Spleen Function, Location, Size And Disorders

Spleen

Spleen is the largest lymphatic organ in the human body. Lymphatic or lymphoid organs are the major parts of the immune system of our body. Function of the immune system is to protect the host (i.e. human body) from the invasion of foreign organisms. Immune system...

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Prostate Facts, Functions And Diseases

Prostate

Prostate is known as the largest accessory gland of the male reproductive system. The gland resembles the shape of an inverted cone or a pyramid. In normal adult it weighs about 20 gm. It synthesizes an alkaline fluid that provides about 30% of the volume of seminal...

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Kidneys, Location Of Kidneys

Kidneys

There are two bean shaped kidneys in the human body. A normal kidney is about 2.5 cm thick, 10 cm long and 5 cm wide. They are reddish-brown in color and each weighs approximately 130 gm in adults. Both kidneys receive blood from the renal artery; in a resting...

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What Is Stomach, Stomach Functions And Facts

Stomach

Stomach is an important part of our digestive system which receives food from the esophagus. It is found at the left side in the upper abdomen. An average individual's stomach measures about 12 inches in length and has a width of 6 inches.Itis a J-shaped hollow...

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Bladder Function, Location And Pictures

Bladder

Placed on the pelvic floor, it is an important organ of your excretory system that serves as a temporary storage point for the urinary fluid before it is eliminated through urethra. Resembling an elastic sac-like structure, the smooth muscle fibers in the wall of the bladder...

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Tune Me In Now on guidance to identify each muscle in a human body *** CLICK AT ANY PICTURE TO ENLARGE IT and see a SLIDE SHOW***

Human Muscles

Use the filters on the left to identify muscles around a particular joint as well as for specific joint actions. Click on the links below for more detailed explanations including origins, insertions and related sports injuries.

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Adductor Brevis

Adductor Brevis is the smallest and shortest of the three short adductor muscles. It originates on the pelvis and inserts into the thigh bone and adducts inwards and flexes the hip out forwards. It is most commonly injured in a groin strain.

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Adductor Longus

Adductor Longus is the middle of the three short adductor muscles. It adducts the hip inwards and assists in hip flexion or moving the leg forwards. Originating on the ramus of the pelvis and inserts into the femur or thigh bone.

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Adductor Magnus

Adductor Magnus is the largest groin muscle and is one of the two long adductor muscles (gracilis is the other). It is usually described as having two parts, hamstring and adductor parts. It adducts, flexes and internally rotates the hip.

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Anconeus

The Anconeus works alongside Triceps Brachii in extending the elbow. It also acts to pull the synovial membrane out of the way of the olecranon process when the elbow is extending.

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Biceps Brachii

The Biceps brachii crosses both the elbow and shoulder joints. Its action on the shoulder joint is very weak flexion. It supinates the forearm and is a strong flexor of the elbow. The bicep curl exercises is a common one to strengthen this muscle.

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Biceps Femoris

Biceps Femoris is one of the three muscles which form the hamstring group forming the back of the thigh. The muscle is described as having a long head (the attachment from the ischium) and a short head (attached to the femur).

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Brachialis

The Brachialis acts to flex the elbow whether in pronation or supination, along with Biceps Brachii. As Brachialis is attached to the Ulna, which cannot rotate, it is the only true flexor of the elbow.

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Brachioradialis

The Brachioradialis muscle flexes the elbow and supinates the forearm from a pronated position and pronates from a supinated position.

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Deltoid

The deltoid muscle is used in all side lifting movements and any movement of the humerus on the scapula.

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Erector Spinae

The erector spinae (sometimes known as sacrospinalis) is often described as a group of different muscles called iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis.

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Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis

The extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle extends and abducts the wrist and is a weak extensor of the elbow.

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Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus

The extensor carpi radialis longus muscle extends and abducts the wrist and is a weak extensor of the elbow.

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Extensor Carpi Ulnaris

Extensor carpi ulnaris is located on the back (dorsum) of the forearm. It extends and adducts the wrist and weakly extends the elbow.

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Extensor Digitorum Longus

Extensor digitorum longus (often shortened to EDL) is found in the front of the lower leg, in the outer more muscle bound compartment.

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Extensor Hallucis Longus

The extensor hallucis longus is the only muscle responaible for extending (pulling back) the big toe, dorsi flexes the ankle and weakly inverts the foot.

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External Obliques

The obliques wrap around the trunk on each side to form our waists and join to the linea alba, a band of connective tissue running down the front of the abdomen.

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Flexor Carpi Radialis

The flexor carpi radialis muscle flexes and abducts the wrist and is a weak flexor of the elbow.

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Flexor Carpi Ulnaris

The flexor carpi ulnaris muscle flexes and adducts the wrist as well as being a weak flexer of the elbow.

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Flexor Digitorum Longus

Flexor Digitorum Longus causes the toes to grip and mold to the floors surface which is vital in maintaining balance on rough surfaces.

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Flexor Digitorum Superficialis

The flexor digitorum superficialis muscle flexes or bends the fingers, flexes the wrist and is a weak flexor of the elbow.

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Flexor Hallucis Longus

Flexor Hallucis Longus bends the big toe when you curl up your foot. It is called 'Hallucis' as the word Hallux means great or big toe in latin.

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Flexor Pollicis Longus

The flexor pollicis longus muscle lfexes the thumb and wrist and is a weak flexor of the elbow.

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Gastrocnemius

Gastrocnemius muscle is a strong plantar flexor of the ankle and weakly flexes the knee.

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Gluteus Maximus

Gluteus Maximus is the largest and most superficial of the three gluteal muscles which forms the rounded shape of the buttocks.

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Gluteus Medius

Gluteus Medius is an important muscle in controlling the level of the hips. Weaknesses in gluteus medius often result in a trendelenburg sign, an abnormal gait cycle.

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Gluteus Minimus

This is the smallest of the three gluteal muscles. It abducts the hip and assists with internal rotation as the femur abducts.

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Gracilis

Gracilis is another muscle which works in conjunction with the groin muscles and is also a weak knee flexor.

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Groin Muscles

The groin muscles are sometimes also call the 'adductor's. This describes the movement that they all perform. There are five adductors in total.

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Hamstrings

The hamstring muscles are found at the back of the thigh. They are three muscles which act on both the hip and knee joints.

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Iliopsoas

A powerful hip flexor, also assists in externally rotating the femur.

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Infraspinatus

Infraspinatus is one of the rotator cuff muscles. It sits on the back of the shoulder blade, below the spine of the scapula and attaches to the greater tuberosity on the humerus.

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Internal Obliques

The internal obliques wrap around the waist and insert into the linea alba, a cord like strip of connective tissue running down the centre of the abdomen.

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Latissimus Dorsi

The Latissimus dorsi muscle is one of the largest in the body. It is a powerful extensor muscle of the arm and is used extensively in chinning and climbing.

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Levator Scapulae

Shrugging the shoulders (scapula elevation) requires the use of levator scapulae and Trapezius.

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Multifidus

Multifidus is a series of small muscles which travel up the length of the spine. It is an important muscle in the rehabilitation of Gilmore's Groin and lower back pain.

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Pectineus

Pectineus is positioned between the Iliopsoas and Adductor Longus muscles and is part of the short adductor group with adductors brevis and longus.

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Pectoralis Major

Pectoralis major is the largest and most superficial of the chest muscles, Its action depends on the position of the arm.

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Pectoralis minor

The Pectoralis Minor muscle is the smallest of the two pectoral (chest) muscles. It works together with Serratus anterior which protracts and rotates the scapula upwards.

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Peroneus Brevis

Peroneus Brevis everts (turn outwards) the foot and plantar flex the ankle.

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Peroneus Longus

Peroneus Longus is one of the peroneals muscle group which pass down the outside of the lower leg and evert (turn out) the foot.

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Piriformis

The Piriformis muscle is an important muscle. The sciatic nerve passes underneath this muscle on its route down to the posterior thigh.

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Popliteus

Popliteus is a small muscle which is often described as the key of the knee joint. It unlocks the knee joint by rotating the femur at the beginning of knee flexion to allow full knee flexion to occur.

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Pronator Quadratus

Pronator Quadratus works in conjunction with Triceps Brachii during pronation with elbow extension.

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Pronator Teres

Pronator Teres works the hardest when the elbow is flexing and the hand simultaneously pronating.

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Quadratus Lumborum

The quadratus lumborum or QL is a common cause of back pain which is to one side and comes on after lifting or twisting.

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Quads (Quadriceps Muscles)

Quads (Quadriceps Muscles)

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Rectus Abdominis

Rectus Abdominis is the most superficial of the abdominal muscles. It is this muscle which forms the six-pack shape!

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Rectus Femoris

The Rectus Femoris muscle is part of the Quadriceps muscle group. It is the only muscle of the group which crosses the hip joint and so it flexes the hip whilst extending the knee.

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Rhomboids

There are two rhomboid muscles - Rhomboid Major and Rhomboid Minor. Rhomboid major is larger and positioned below rhomboid minor.

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Sartorius

The Sartorius is a two joint muscle and so is weak when the knee is flexed and the hip is flexed at the same time. It works better during single movements.

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Semimembranosus

Semimembranosus is the most medial of the three hamstring muscles. It extends and internally rotates the hip and flexes the knee.

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Semitendinosus

The semitendinosus muscle extends and internally rotates the hip as well as flexing the knee.

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Serratus Anterior

The Serratus Anterior muscle is used in activities which draw the scapula forwards. It is used strongly in push-ups and bench presses.

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Soleus

Soleus is a large large muscle, deep to Gastrocnemius. Together the Gastrocnemius, Soleus and Plantaris are known as Triceps Surae.

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Splenius

Splenius is often divided into two muscles, splenius capitus (those fibres which insert on the skull) and splenius cervicis (those that insert onto the cervical transverse processes of the spine).

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Sternocleidomastoid

Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) can clearly be seen when you turn your head to one side, on the opposite side of the neck.

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Subscapularis

Subscapularis is one of the four rotator cuff muscles which cross the shoulder joint. The muscle also acts to hold the head of the humerus in position and prevents it moving forwards.

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Supinator

The Supinator muscle assists Biceps Brachii in supinating the hand, that is turning it over so that the palm faces up.

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Supraspinatus

The Supraspinatus muscle is one of the four muscles which make up the rotator cuff. Its main function is to stabilise the upper arm by holding the head of the humerus in position.

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Tensor Fascia Latae

The Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) is a small muscle which attaches inferiorly to the long thick strip of fascia, known as the iliotibial band (ITB).

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Teres Major

Teres Minor is one of the four rotator cuff muscles surrounding the shoulder. Its main action, along with Infraspinatus is to externally rotate the shoulder joint.

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The Glutes

The 'Glutes' is an abbreviation of the gluteals - also known as the buttock muscles. The three main ones are the Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus.

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Tibialis Anterior

Tibialis anterior forms the main fleshy part of the outside of the shin. It is a dorsiflexor of the ankle.

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Tibialis Posterior

The Tibialis Posterior is the deepest of all the calf muscles. It helps to support the arch of the foot.

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Transversus Abdominis

Transversus Abdominis is often abbreviated to TVA. This is a very important core muscle which is vital in maintaining good posture. Activities such as Pilates focus on contraction of the TVA.

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Trapezius Muscle

The trapezius muscle (Trapz) is a large muscle consisting of four parts covering the upper back, shoulders and neck.

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Triceps Brachii

The Triceps Brachii also assists Latissimus Dorsi in extending the shoulder joint. It contracts strongly during the up phase of a push up, to straighten the arm.

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Vastus Intermedius

Vastus Intermedius is one of four quadricep muscles, located deep in the thigh underneath the Rectus Femoris muscle.

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Vastus lateralis

Vastus Lateralis is the most lateral (outer) of the four quadriceps muscles and is felt on the outside top of the thigh.

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Vastus Medialis

Vastus Medialis is the most medially (inner) located of the quadricep muscles. The portion of the muscle just above the knee is known as VMO (vastus medialis oblique).

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Best Butt Exercises - Squats, Lunges, and More

Our butt is the one part of the body we can't see very often...at least, not without some effort. Yet, it's often the one part of the body we're the most concerned with. Just because I can't see it doesn't mean other people aren't looking, right? And most of us? Aren't very happy with our butts.

We think they're too small, too big, too saggy, too flabby...this list goes on. The right cardio exercise and strength training exercises really can make a difference in your backside, depending on your body type and genetics. Find out about the best butt exercises for a strong, shapely butt.

Squats

squat

Ben Goldstein

Squats are my number one favorite for the butt. It fires every little muscle fiber running through your glutes and it also hits the hips, thighs and calves as a bonus. Squats should be a staple of any basic butt routine. If squats hurt your knees, check out these alternatives.

How to:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and, for added intensity, hold weights at shoulder level or at your sides.
  2. Bend the knees, and lower into a squat, keeping the knees behind the toes.  Imagine that you're sticking your butt out behind you, but keep the torso upright and contracted.
  3. Press into the heels to stand up.
  4. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-16 reps

More About Squats

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Lunges

single lunge

Ben Goldstein

Lunges are my next favorite butt exercise and, if you've done them, you certainly know why. Lunges work multiple muscles at the same time, which is why they're so effective. On the front leg, you'll target the butt along with the hamstrings while the back leg will fire up the quads and calves. What's nice about lunges is that there are a variety to choose from such as:

You can also elevate the back foot on a step or platform to really challenge both legs. This is a great move for the glutes and thighs, but please avoid this move if it aggravates any knees problems.

If you have problems with lunges, try an alternative to lunges. More »

Step Ups

Step ups are another great one for focusing attention on the butt. To really make it work, try choosing a platform high enough that the knee is at a 90-degree angle when bent. If that's a little too much, try using the second stair on a staircase and hold onto the rail for balance if you need to.

Another key point is to push into the heel to lift the body up and concentrate all your weight on the stepping leg. In other words, lower down gently, barely touching the toes of the other leg to the ground. You'll really feel this when you take it slow and concentrate on the working leg. Holding weights will add some nice intensity.

More Step Ups

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Hip Extensions

While I'm fond of more compound moves (like the squats, lunges, and step-ups listed above) since they work more muscle groups, the hip extension is an exercise that targets the butt in the most specific way you can. This is a great addition to the other exercises listed above for a good, overall lower body workout.

For this move, you can hold a dumbbell behind the knee or use ankle weights for added intensity.

More Variations:

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One-Legged Deadlifts

Deadlifts are great for your hamstrings, butt and lower back, but this one-legged version is killer on the butt. Doing anything on one leg adds intensity and it also involves your stabilizer muscles to keep your body balanced.  Form is critical and you should skip this exercise if you have any back problems.

To do this move, take the left leg back just a bit, lightly resting on the toe. With the weights in front of the thighs, tip from the hips and lower the weights as low as your flexibility allows. Keep your back flat or with a natural arch and make sure you keep the abs contracted to protect the back. Squeeze the glutes of the working leg to raise back up. Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

More Variations

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Side Step Squats with Resistance Bands

Squat With Side Step

Ben Goldstein

I love this move for targeting the smaller muscles of the butt, specifically the gluteus medius and minimus along with the outer thigh. Because there's a squat involves, you're also getting the Big Mama Butt Muscle - the gluteus maximus as well. If you hold the handles with the arms bent, you can also get a great isometric exercise for the biceps, making this a great whole body exercise.

How to:

  • Use a band with medium-light tension and stand on it, holding onto both handles.
  • Take a wide step out to the right into a squat, keeping tension on the band.
  • Step the left foot in and continue stepping out and squatting to the right, all the way across the room (or as far as you can).
  • Repeat the other way or for about 1-3 sets of 8-16 steps.

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Butt Squeezes on the Ball

Glute Squeezes on the Ball

Ben Goldstein

If you really want to target the butt, this is a great choice. The ball adds some instability, forcing your entire lower body to work and holding weights on the upper thighs adds intensity to the exercise.

  • Begin in a bridge position, head resting on the ball, butt lifted and weights on the thighs (optional)
  • Lower the hips towards the ground and try not to let the ball roll around.
  • Squeeze the glutes to lift back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
  • Lift the toes for even more intensity

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Hiking

Man Hiking

Getty Images/Manuel Sulzer

Now the exercises listed above aren't the only strength moves for the glutes, but we often forget that there are cardio activities that will also engage the backside.

Hiking is one of those activities and it also burns tons of calories because you're typically going up steep mountains and maybe even getting into thin air, which requires lots of energy. Also, walking up an incline automatically gets your glutes more involved and, if you're wearing a backpack, you're really getting a workout. Plus, you get to see nature at its best. A 140-lb person burns about 390 calories in about an hour.

If you live in a flat area, try raising the incline on your treadmill to mimic hiking up a hill. More »

Kickboxing

Straight Leg Lift

Ben Goldstein

Kickboxing is an excellent workout for the entire body, including the hips glutes and thighs.  Controlled front kicks, roundhouses, side kicks and back kicks work your hips, thighs and butt while complex combinations that include punches will target your abs to make them stronger. A 140-lb woman will burn up to 500 calories with 45 minutes of kickboxing.

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Want great-looking calves? Try these simple, effective exercises for strengthening your calf muscles.

You'll target the two muscles that make up the calf:

  • The gastrocnemius muscle, which gives the calf its rounded shape.
  • The soleus, which is the flatter, longer muscle running underneath the gastrocnemius and lower down your leg.

The Best Calf-Strengthening Exercises

Here are the four best exercises for strengthening your calves.

1. Double-Leg Calf Raise. Calf raises are the classic calf-strengthening exercise. They use your body weight to strengthen and tone the gastrocnemius and soleus.

Starting position: Stand near a wall for balance. Place your feet hip-width apart, and make sure your ankles, knees, and hips are in vertical alignment to protect your joints.

Action: Press down into the balls of both feet to raise your body upward. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in so that you move straight upward, rather than shifting your body forward or backward.

Variations:

  • Start standing on a stair, or similar so your heels can drop lower than your toes. Keeping the balls of your feet on the stair, lower your heels as far as you can toward the floor. Then press your heels up as high as you can.
  • Add weight to add intensity. Repeat the exercise holding a dumbbell or other weight in one hand. Keep your hand on a wall for balance.

2. Single-Leg Calf Raise. You can increase the intensity of the calf raise by doing it on one leg. That way you can strengthen your calf muscle even more.

Starting position: Stand on one leg near a wall for balance with the other leg bent behind you. Be sure the ankle, knee, and hip of the leg you're working are in vertical alignment to protect the joints.

Action: Press down into the ball of your foot to raise your body upward. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in so you avoid shifting forward or backward.

Variations:

  • Start standing on a stair or similar. Keeping the ball of your foot on the stair, let your heel drop down below the step. Then press up as high as you can.
  • Add weight to add intensity. Hold a dumbbell or other weight in one hand. Place the other hand on the wall for balance.

3. Seated Calf Raise. You can do this exercise at home or at the gym on a calf exercise machine. The exercise works both the gastrocnemius and soleus.

At home.

Starting position: Sit on a firm, sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your knees aligned directly over your feet. Don't let your knees turn in or out. Lean forward placing hands on thighs near knees pushing down to add resistance.

Action: Press slowly down into the balls of your feet to raise your heels as high as you can. Next, slowly lower your heels. Repeat.

At the gym.

Starting position: Set yourself up in the calf press machine with the balls of your feet on the platform. This will let you lower your heels toward the floor. Undo the machine's safety latch and release the weight onto your calves.

Action: Drop your heels as far as you can toward the floor to lower the weight, and then press into the balls of your feet to raise your heels as high as you can.

4. Calf-Building Sports: Taking part in the following sports will help you both strengthen and tone your calves.

Running, walking, and hiking are excellent calf-strengthening exercises, especially when you go uphill. The steeper the climb, the more your calves have to work.

Running sports such as soccer, basketball, and tennis demand that you run, jump, and push off your calf muscles to accelerate or change direction quickly. So they're great for toning calves.

Step class and other kinds of dance will work your calves every time you step up and down or bend your knees and push off going from high to low positions.

Swimming works the calves along with the rest of the legs muscles. It also avoids the impact of running or jumping. Because it's low-impact, it's also a safe way to strengthen calves if you're recovering from an injury.

If you're overweight and want the look of toned calves, you may want to add a safe weight loss program that includes diet and exercise. You can't spot-reduce any part of your body.

Safety Guidelines

Follow these guidelines so your calf-strengthening exercises are safe and effective.

  • Do the exercises consistently two or three times a week to build strength.
  • Move slowly through each exercise so you stay aware of your body alignment. Press up for a slow count of two to four. Then lower back down for a slow count of four.
  • Customize your exercise to match your level of fitness and avoid injury. And check with a fitness professional if you're not sure how much weight is safe for you to use. A general rule of thumb for strength training is to aim for eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise for one to three sets. Your muscles should feel fatigued, but you should be able to finish your repetitions.
  • Increase the load on the muscle gradually over time. For instance, add 10% to 15% to the weight every 2 weeks.
  • Check with your doctor first if you've had a foot, ankle, or calf muscle injury in the past. Depending on your health or physical condition, certain exercises may not be recommended.

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Looking for the best chest and pectoral exercises to build a strong muscular chest? An effective chest exercise is key to any chest routine as it not only builds the pectoral muscles, but also your triceps and shoulders and therefore its importance can’t be stressed enough.

The pectorals are large muscles and both lower and upper chest exercises are needed to build all round size and strength.

WorkoutBOX contains great chest and pec exercises that will push your chest muscles to the max and help you get great definition. With these workouts it won’t be long before you’re bragging to your mates about how many push ups you can do!

CHAPTER I.- Lower Chest Exercises

Are you looking for the best lower chest exercises to build a strong solid chest? Great lower chest exercises are vital for sculpting the pectoral muscles for an impressive upper body. It’s important to include exercises that focus on both the lower and upper chest muscles, as this helps to balance out your physique.

WorkoutBOX contains the best exercises for lower chest that will help you build strong lower chest muscles to be proud of. Add these lower chest exercises into your weekly routine and say farewell to baggy shirts for good!

1 Bench Press, Dumbbell, Declined

The declined dumbbell bench press targets the lower part of the chest muscle and also parts of the back & the triceps. It's performed in a very similar way to the declined barbell chest press but using dumbbells for an additional challenge. Using dumbbells works the additional smaller fixator muscles that help to balance the body whilst the main muscle is working.
Step 1:
Position an adjustable bench to an approximate 30 deg decline from flat.
Step 2:
Sit at the end of the bench, dumbbells in each hand by your sides.
Step 3:
Secure your feet in the foot supports & the lie back on to the bench.
Step 4:
Curl the dumbbells up from your sides to chest height. If you are using a heavy weight you may need a spotter to assist you.
Step 5:
The dumbbells should be positioned either side of the chest, directly over the top of the elbows, palms facing forwards.
Step 6:
Brace the abdominals to maintain a straight back, breath out and press the dumbbells up in a straight line by extending the elbows fully.
Step 7:
Pause briefly, breath in and lower the dumbbells back down to the chest.

2 Push Up, Inclined

The inclined push up is another variation to the standard push up, but it targets the lower part of the chest muscle. Beginners might find it slightly easier than the standard push up as the elevated angle makes it less challenging. It can be used as a progression towards the push up or as an exercise to specifically focus on developing the lower chest.

Step 1:
Assume the normal push up position with both hands on a bench in front of you, shoulder width apart.
Step 2:
Wrists and elbows should be inline with the chest.
Step 3:
Fingers facing forward, lift off your knees so your body is in a straight line and supported only by your hands and feet.
Step 4:
Pull in the abdominals tight and keep the pelvis straight.
Step 5:
Maintain a straight back throughout the exercise.
Step 6:
Bend at the elbows to lower the body towards the bench until the upper arms are parallel to the edge of the bench.
Step 7:
Chest should be around 10cm off the bench.
Step 8:
Pause briefly then push back to the start position by extending the elbows.

3 Bench Press, Barbell, Declined

The Declined Barbell Bench Press targets the lower chest muscles. It can be difficult for beginners, so make sure you get the movement down before adding a lot of weight.

Some Chest Workouts you should try

Beginners Chest Workout
Level : Beginner
Dumbbell Chest Workout
Level : Intermediate
Chest and Triceps Workout
Level : Intermediate
Chest and Biceps Workout
Level : Intermediate
Chest and Back Workout
Level : Intermediate
Best Chest Workout for Mass
Level : Intermediate
Ultimate Big Chest Workout
Level : Advanced
» View Workout

4 Bench Press, Barbell, Declined, Narrow Grip

The Declined Barbell Narrow Grip Bench Press targets the lower chest muscles. It can be difficult for beginners, so make sure you get the movement down before adding a lot of weight. The narrow grip will also help you work the triceps. Below is a video tutorial and step by step instructions on how to perform the Declined Barbell Narrow Grip Bench Press.

5 Bench Press, Barbell, Declined, Underhand Grip

The Declined Barbell Underhand Grip Bench Press targets the lower chest muscles. It can be difficult for beginners, so make sure you get the movement down before adding a lot of weight. The underhand grip will add another level of difficulty to this exercise. Below is a video tutorial and step by step instructions on how to perform the Declined Barbell Underhand Grip Bench Press.

6 Bench Press, Barbell, Declined, Wide Grip

The Declined Barbell Wide Grip Bench Press targets the lower chest muscles. It can be difficult for beginners, so make sure you get the movement down before adding a lot of weight. The wide grip will also help you work the shoulders. Below is a video tutorial and step by step instructions on how to perform the Declined Barbell Wide Grip Bench Press.

CHAPTER 2 Upper Chest Exercises

Looking for the best upper chest exercises to build strong and powerful pectoral muscles? An effective upper chest exercise is key to any chest routine as it not only develops the pectoral muscles, but also helps define and balance the whole upper body. A well developed chest plays a key part in physical contact sports such as martial arts and rugby that require a lot of pushing.

WorkoutBOX contains great exercises for upper chest that will help you build a set of strong upper chest muscles to be proud of. If you don’t want to be a pushover then add these upper chest exercises to your workout routine.

1 Dumbbell Flyes, Inclined Bench

Inclined dumbbell flyes target the upper chest muscle and also the shoulders. The movement comes from the shoulders to isolate the chest pectoral muscles and give them an intense workout.

Dumbbell Flyes, Inclined Bench Steps:

Step 1:
Take hold of a dumbbell in each hand and lie back on an inclined bench between 45 & 60 degrees with feet firmly placed on the floor.
Step 2:
Brace the abdominals and back muscles to insure alignment of the spine.
Step 3:
Make sure the small of the back is in contact with the bench throughout the movement.
Step 4:
Extend the arms and position the dumbbells together directly over the middle of the chest.
Step 5:
Fix the elbows, with a slight bend. This reduces stress on the elbow joint.
Step 6:
Maintaining the same elbow position gently lower the arms to the horizontal position either side of the torso until the shoulders are fully extended.
Step 7:
Raise the arms back to the start position and repeat for the required number of repetitions.

Top Tip:

The only movement should be in the shoulders, with horizontal flexion and extension. The elbows should be fixed with a slight bend. Inclining the bench focuses on the upper chest (pectoral) muscles.

2 Incline Press Machine

The Incline Press Machine is an effective exercise for strengthening and developing the chest muscles. Using the Incline Machine will help with stabilization, but may decrease the effectiveness of the exercise. Below you will find a video tutorial and step by step instructions on how to perform the Incline Press Machine.

3 Bench Press, Barbell, Inclined

The inclined barbell bench press targets the upper part of the chest muscle and also the triceps muscle. It's performed in a very similar way to the inclined dumbbell chest press but using a barbell instead. Using a barbell and the correct bench press equipment means that you can handle more weight with your bench press exercise.

Bench Press, Barbell, Inclined Steps:

Step 1:
Adjust a gym bench to a 45 deg incline.
Step 2:
Sit back on the bench with feet firmly on the floor.
Step 3:
Lift the barbell from the rack. If you are using a heavy weight you may need a spotter to assist you.
Step 4:
With the arms straight the bar should be positioned directly over the chest, in line with the elbows and palms facing forwards.
Step 5:
Brace the abdominals to maintain a straight back.
Step 6:
Breath in and slowly lower the bar back down to the chest in a controlled movement.
Step 7:
Breath out and press the bar up in a straight line by extending the elbows fully.

Top Tip:

Always ensure that you have a spotter with you when you are working close to your repetition max.

4 Bench Press, Barbell, Inclined, Narrow Grip


The Narrow Grip Inclined Barbell Bench Press targets the upper chest as well as the triceps. It is always a good idea to vary your workouts to keep the body guessing, and switching your grips is a great way to do that. Below you'll find a video tutorial as well as step by step instructions on how to perform the Narrow Grip Inclined Barbell Bench Press

5 Bench Press, Barbell, Inclined, Underhand Grip

The Underhand Grip Inclined Barbell Bench Press targets the upper chest as well as the outer chest muscles. It is always a good idea to vary your workouts to keep the body guessing, and switching your grips is a great way to do that. Below you'll find a video tutorial as well as step by step instructions on how to perform the Underhand Grip Inclined Barbell Bench Press.

6 Bench Press, Barbell, Inclined, Wide Grip


The Wide Grip Inclined Barbell Bench Press targets the upper chest as well as the outer chest muscles. It is always a good idea to vary your workouts to keep the body guessing, and switching your grips is a great way to do that. Below you'll find a video tutorial as well as step by step instructions on how to perform the Wide Grip Inclined Barbell Bench Press

7 Bench Press, Dumbbell, Inclined


The inclined dumbbell bench press targets the upper part of the chest muscle and also the triceps muscle. It's performed in a very similar way to the inclined barbell chest press but using dumbbells for an additional challenge. Using dumbbells works the additional smaller fixator muscles that help to balance the body whilst the main muscle is working.

Bench Press, Dumbbell, Inclined Steps:

Step 1:
Position an adjustable bench to a 45 deg incline.
Step 2:
Sit at the end of the bench, dumbbells in each hand by your sides.
Step 3:
Lie on your back on a bench with feet firmly on the floor.
Step 4:
Curl the dumbbells up from your sides to chest height. If you are using a heavy weight you may need a spotter to assist you.
Step 5:
The dumbbells should be positioned either side of the chest, directly over the top of the elbows, palms facing forwards.
Step 6:
Brace the abdominals to maintain a straight back, breath out and press the dumbbells up in a straight line by extending the elbows fully.
Step 7:
Pause briefly, breath in and lower the dumbbells back down to the chest.

8 Bench Press, Dumbbell, Inclined, Neutral Grip


The Inclined Dumbbell Bench Press is an effective exercise for strengthening and developing the upper chest muscles. Switching your grip every so often can engage new muscle groups that you’ve never used before. Below is a video tutorial and step by step instructions on how to perform the Inclined Dumbbell Bench Press.

9 Push Up, Declined


This exercise is excellent for adding a progressive element to a normal push up. It also focuses on the upper part of the chest (pectoral muscle) in the same way as an inclined chest press exercise. So if you don't have access to a bench and barbell, you can substitute with this exercise at home, in the park or a hotel room.

Push Up, Declined Steps:

Step 1:
Arrange yourself in the extended push up position, elbows straight, with feet on a bench and hands on the floor.
Step 2:
Ensure your body is evenly distributed by your hands and feet and that your back is straight with neutral spine.
Step 3:
Wrists and elbows should be in line with the chest.
Step 4:
Pull in the abdominals tight and keep the pelvis straight.
Step 5:
Maintain a straight back throughout the exercise.
Step 6:
Bend at the elbows to lower the body towards the floor until the upper arms are parallel to the floor and elbows are at right angles.
Step 7:
Chest should be close to the floor.
Step 8:
Pause briefly, then push back to the start position by extending the elbows.

Top Tip:

  • Keep the body straight throughout the whole movement. Stop, once form begins to fail.
  • To make it even more challenging, support your feet on a stability ball.

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5 must-do exercises for a flat, sexy tummy

Danielle Collins lists out 5 exercises to tone your tummy which can be done at home.

yoga1

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When you have been lifting a year or so, its time to start working out forearms. Many people like doing forearms because big, veiny muscular forearms look really cool sticking out of a t-shirt. A better reason to do forearms is to keep the strength of all muscles in proportion because odd injuries can occur when one muscle gets out of proportion strong compared to adjacent muscles.

One of the most common overuse injuries that athletes get is tendonitis and elbow is the most likely place you will get it. The reason I mention this is that working out forearms is one of the things that can really make tendonitis flare up, especially the exercises done with palms down. If you are prone to tendonitis or are recovering from it, just do the palms up wrist dumbbell curls.

There are three forearm exercises shown here, two are with the palm down and one is with the palm up.

Reverse Barbell Curls

These are great to do at the end of your arm workout – shaving or brushing your teeth is really tough after doing these! This exercise is done with the palms facing down as indicated with the red arrow in the below photo. As I mentioned before, this exercise can make tendonitis in the elbow flare up so be careful if you are prone to overuse injuries. Start out with a really light weight and use slow deliberate form. These can be done either standing or seated, I prefer seated because it keeps you from cheating. If you stand while doing this, make sure that your torso is completely motionless. Many people tend to rock their bodies forward and back to swing and jerk the weight around. I suggest doing these at the end of your arm workout when your biceps are good and weak, that way, even though the biceps is stronger than the forearm they are both worked out evenly.

Starting Position: use an overhand grip making the palms face down.
Ending Position: Raise the bar slowly and steadily – yikes what a forearm pump. Keep it slow, 2s up and 2s down. Make sure your torso is completely stationary, no jerking or bouncing.

Reverse Curl Starting PositionReverse Curl Ending Position

Palms Down Dumbbell Wrist Curls

This exercise is done with light dumbbells. The only motion here is your wrist moving from the down 45 degrees position to the up 45 degrees position. Its best done with the forearms resting lightly on something. If you have a bench you can get on your knees and use the bench to steady your forearms so you can do both arms at the same time. You can also sit in a chair, spread your legs wide and rest your forearms on your quads with the dumbbells nearly meeting between your legs. Again if you are susceptible to elbow tendonitis skip this exercise and move to the next one.

Starting Position: in the down position, the wrist is drooping at about 45 degrees and your palms are facing the floor. The back of the hands should be horizontal. If this position bothers your wrist or elbow then try raising the thumb slightly higher than that pinky. Now slowly raise the weight to the up position. The forearms remain motionless in this exercise, only the wrists move.
Ending Position: he wrist is angled up at about 45 degrees. The palms are still facing the floor and the back of the hand is still horizontal or slightly higher on the thumb side. Now repeat.

Palms Up Dumbbell Wrist Curls

OK, finally a forearm exercise with the palms up so we can give those poor tendons in the elbows a break. This wrist curl is similar to the above palm down dumbbell wrist curl except our palms are basically facing upward. Again, use a weight bench if you have one to rest your forearms on or sit with spread legs in a chair and rest your forearms on your quads.

Starting Position: In the down position, the wrist is drooping at about 45 degrees and your palms are facing upwards. Your hands should not be horizontal, that’s too awkward. The thumb side of your palm should be about 2″ higher than the pinky side. Now slowly raise the weight to the up position. The forearms remain motionless in this exercise, only the wrists move.
Ending Position: In the up position, the wrist is angled upward at about 45 degrees. The palms are still facing upward. Now lower the dumbbells slowly and repeat.

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What do I need to know about hamstring exercises?

Hamstring exercises help reduce pain, keep muscles flexible, and improve function after injury. These are beginning exercises. Ask your caregiver if you need to see a physical therapist for more advanced exercises.

  • Do these exercises 4 to 5 days a week , or as directed by your caregiver.
  • Do the exercises in the order that your caregiver recommends to prevent swelling, chronic pain, and reinjury. Start with stretching exercises. Then progress to strengthening exercises.
  • Warm up before you do the exercises. Walk or ride a stationary bike for 5 to 10 minutes to prepare your hamstring for movement.
  • Stop if you feel pain. It is normal to feel discomfort at first. Regular exercise will help decrease your discomfort with time.

How do I perform stretching exercises safely?

Begin with stretching exercises to improve flexibility. Do the exercises on both legs so your muscles stay flexible. Ask your caregiver when you can progress to strengthening exercises.

  • Hamstring stretch with a towel:
    • Lie on your back on the floor. Bend both legs so your feet rest flat. Lift one leg off the floor and loop a towel around your foot. Grasp the ends of the towel and slowly straighten your lifted leg. Your leg and body should form a 90 degree angle. Use the towel to gently pull your leg toward you until you feel the stretch. Keep your leg straight and your foot flexed toward your body. Use a longer towel if needed. Hold for 30 seconds. Do 2 sets. Repeat on other side.
  • Standing quadriceps stretch:
    • Place your hand on a wall or the back of a chair for balance. Lift one foot and bring your heel upward toward your buttocks. Keep your knees close together. Grasp your ankle with your hand and gently pull your heel closer to your buttocks until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Do 2 sets. Repeat on other side.
  • Sitting hamstring stretch:
    • Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Do not point your toes or flex your feet. Place your palms on the floor and slide your hands forward until you feel the stretch. Keep your back straight and do not lock your knees. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

How do I perform strengthening exercises safely?

After you can perform stretching exercises without pain, you may progress to strengthening exercises. Do the exercises on both legs so your each of your hamstrings is strengthened. Your caregiver may recommend that you add repetitions or weights to your strengthening exercises.

  • Hamstring curls:
    • Place your hand on a wall or the back of a chair for balance. Stand with your weight evenly on both feet. Then place your weight on one of your legs. Lift the other leg and raise your heel toward your buttocks. Hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 10. Repeat on other side.
  • Straight leg raise:
    • Lie on the floor with your face down and resting on your folded arms. Keep your body in a straight line. With your hip bones on the floor, tighten the gluteal and hamstring muscles of your injured leg. Keep your leg straight and raise it toward the ceiling as high as you can. Hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 10. Repeat on other side.
  • Half squats:
    • Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart. Rest your hands on the front of your thighs or reach out in front of you. You may hold on to the back of a chair or wall for balance. Keep your chest lifted and lower your hips about 10 inches, as if you are going to sit. Make sure your weight is over your heels and hold for 5 seconds. As you keep your weight over your heels, bring your body up to a standing position. Do 3 sets of 10.

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Hip Stretch(20 photos)

How and Why Should You Strengthen Your Hip Abductors

We often hear about how running is “all about the hips”, and how the source of all your running injuries is weakness in the muscles around your hips, but what does that mean?

Which hip muscles are so critical to success as a runner?

Turns out your hip adductor and abductor muscles are a huge part of you being able to stay healthy as a runner, and if they are neglected, you are putting yourself at serious risk of an injury.

We are here to show you why this is the case, and what you need to do to make sure your hip abductors are strong to prevent future issues.

In the article Proper Running Form: Does Gravity Help You Run Faster?, we considered the importance of hip extension in running, and noted that in cases of runners with restricted mobility in the front of the hips (e.g. tight Quads and/or Psoas), we often see a forward drop of the pelvis, highlighted by an increase in the curve of the lower back.

What does that mean?

In other words, the body succeeds in traveling over the supporting leg, but without making optimum use of the powerful Gluteus maximus (the main muscle of the buttock).

As a result, stride length becomes compromised, propulsion is reduced, overall effectiveness of the running gait cycle is inhibited and risk of injury potentially raised.

This week’s article focuses on a smaller but equally important member of the glute family – the Gluteus medium. We are going to show you why the gluteus medius is important, and give you the best hip (and glute) strengthening exercises for runners that will help to stop your hip drop and keep you healthy.

No more of those tight hips! Ready to get started?

How and why you should strengthen your hip abductors FB

What is the Gluteus Medius and Why is it Important?

As can be seen in the image to the right (posterior view), the Gluteus medius orGlute Mediusiginates at the dorsal ilium (uppermost, largest bone of the pelvis) below the iliac crest and inserts at the top outside surfaces of the greater trochanter (top of the thigh bone).

It is the major abductor of the thigh (moves the leg away from the midline of the body). The anterior fibers rotate the hip internally and the posterior fibers rotate the hip externally.

Whilst the Gluteus maximus is a hip extensor (moves your leg behind you) and is involved in the forwards & backwards tilting of the pelvis (dynamic stabilization in thesagittal plane), the Glute medius is a hip abductor (moves the leg out to the side) that plays a major role in controlling the sideways tilting of the pelvis.

Here’s the deal:

The Trendelenburg gait is exhibited by a person who through weakness in the abductor muscles, cannot maintain sufficient height of the opposite side of the pelvis to raise the foot and transfer weight to the other leg.

Instead, the pelvis drops downwards, meaning the affected person has to bend their leg more than usual at the knee in order to make up for the lack of lift.

To compensate, the stride on the unaffected side typically becomes shorter, along with a tendency for the person to lurch towards the weakened side in an attempt to maintain a level pelvis.

Does Weakness in the Hip Muscles Cause “The Hip Drop”

You might be wondering:

The term hip drop has become increasingly popular in articles today. It seems almost every runner has some level of it, and what does that even mean anyway?

In the diagram below, the drawings (A) and (B) illustrate a runner in left leg “swing phase”, meaning the left leg is off the ground and in the process of travelling forwards. The right leg is in mid-stance directly under the hips and taking maximum load as the body weight passes over it.

RC8_GluteMedius_Role

The Gluteus medius is highlighted as the dark area on the right hip.

Here’s the difference:

In image (A), the Gluteus medius is performing its role of dynamically stabilizing the pelvis such that the left hip does not drop more than 5 degrees (the image shows a straight line but in reality 4-5 degrees is regarded as the range necessary for minimizing vertical displacement of the body’s centre of gravity).

However, image (B) shows a weaker Gluteus medius not fulfilling its role and in effect allowing a marked drop (more than 5 degrees) of the left hip. The photo to the right of the drawings shows this same scenario for a real life runner.

What Does a Weak Gluteus Medius do?

Various studies have shown a link between Gluteus medius weakness and athletic injury:

  • In a study by Fredericson et al (2000), 24 distance runners with Iliotibial Band Syndrome had the hip abductor strength of their injured limb compared to that of the non injured limb (and to that of a control group). It was found that on average Gluteus medius strength was 2% less on the injured side.
  • After a six-week rehabilitation period with particular focus on strengthening the Gluteus medius (side-lying hip abduction and pelvic drops), 22 of the 24 injured athletes were pain-free and able to return to running. Furthermore, a six-month follow-up showed no reports of recurrence.
  • Other studies have also linked weaker hip abductors and external rotators to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Ireland et al.,2003; Robinson et al.,2007; Cichanowski et al.,2007).

How do I strengthen my gluteus medius?

Given the body’s remarkable ability to find and adopt a compensatory movement pattern when faced with weakness or dysfunction, it is very important to use a gradual,progressive exercise program when attempting to strengthen and stimulate use of a weak muscle/muscle group.

Though in recent years much attention has been given to the importance of “functional” exercise (i.e. one that mimics as much as possible the dynamic movement we are aiming to achieve), experience shows that giving the body too complex a movement pattern too soon can often hinder or prevent recruitment of the target muscle/muscle group.

Now:

Studies that quantify the electromyographic activity (EMG) of the Gluteus medius during common therapeutic rehabilitation also seem to support the use of exercises that some would dismiss as not “functional” enough. In the table below, collated values are shown for exercises that scored significantly in three such studies: Bolgla et al.,(2004), DiStefano et al.,(2009) and Boren et al.,(2011).

hip-exercise-effectiveness

Other studies have been done including research for exercises not included in the three studies above (Ayotte et al.,2007; Krause et al.’2009; Philippon et al., 2011) but none of them weaken the relevance of the data in the table. It is worth pointing out that the variance in results may be due to the technique used in execution of each exercise.

However:

Which exercise/s you do will depend on your individual circumstances, needs and goals, all of which should be considered by a professional before you start a new program.

For example, although single-leg squats score the highest MVIC% in the table, they may not be appropriate for you at this moment in time if you are suffering from a patellar tendonitis.

All exercises can and should be regressed/progressed according to your personal fitness level. As always, if in any doubt, consult a suitably qualified health professional.

You might be wondering:

What are the five exercises listed in the table? We will describe them here, but the number of repetitions, sets, tempo and breathing patterns given serve as examples only, and may need modifying to suit individual needs & goals.

Single-leg squat

RC8_SingleLeg_Squat

There is rarely ever just one way to perform an exercise. The method of execution will often vary according to what you are trying to achieve. In order to maximize use of the Gluteus medius (and indeed the whole of the Glute family), I personally encourage single leg squats that involve moving the centre of gravity backwards as opposed to forwards. In this case:

  • The exercise is initiated by moving your backside backwards and downwards, as opposed to moving the knee of your supporting leg forwards. This can be challenging for many people as it requires a certain level of balance, coordination and flexibility.
  • For this reason, the single-leg squat is often placed higher up on the ladder of exercise progression. Attempting it too early will often mean you resorting to moving your knee forwards, which in my opinion reduces recruitment of the glute muscles and puts more stress on the quadriceps muscles and knees.
  • In order to encourage initiation of the exercise with a backwards shift, I often recommend clients place a suitably heighted chair behind them to give them a target and confidence in the fact that if they do lose stability they will not be falling onto a hard floor.
  • If you are moving backwards, the natural position for the non-weight bearing leg will be in front of you as opposed to behind (see photo).
  • As your strength and balance improves, you can progress by lowering the height of the object behind you.
  • Whilst the edge of your bed may be a good place to start, it may well not be long until you are using the seat of the toilet as your goal.

Number of repetitions: 10-20 each leg
Number of sets: 1 on weaker leg (if applicable), 1 on stronger leg, 1 again on weaker leg.
Tempo: 3 seconds down (breath in), 1 up (breath out), 2 hold (keep breathing out)

Side-lying hip abduction

side-abduction

To work the right hip abductor muscles (as in the photo):

  • Lie down in a left side-lying position. Make sure your hips are “stacked” (right hip directly over the left hip) and that your body is in a straight line.
  • Placing your top hand on the floor in front of you can help ensure that you are not leaning forwards.
  • Your pelvis should be in a neutral position (not hitched or tilted forwards/backwards).
  • Though performance tempo can vary according to the goal, I typically have a client move accelerate when moving away from gravity, and decelerate when moving in the same direction as gravity.
  • In the case of this exercise therefore, I would take 1 second to lift the top leg up (breathing out), 2 seconds to hold it in top position (keep breathing out) and then 3 seconds to slowly return it to start position (slowly breathing in).
  • The position of the heel can be varied according to goals, but as a starter I typically encourage the heel to remain the same height as the toes throughout.

Number of repetitions: 15-25 each leg
Number of sets: 1 with weaker side (if applicable), 1 with stronger side, 1 again with weaker side.
Tempo: 1 up (breath out), 2 hold (keep breathing out), 3 down (breath in)

Single-leg deadlift

RC_SingleLeg_Deadlift

The single-leg deadlift can be performed in various ways but essentially your aim is to hinge forwards and reach your hands towards the ground whilst keeping your shoulders back, your back straight, and your supporting leg as straight as possible.

  • From here you return back up and then repeat. In some versions of this exercise, the non-weight bearing leg is lifted to become as close as parallel to the ground as possible. (I kind of wish I had done this now in the photo – would have looked far more impressive!).
  • Progression can involve using weights and/or performing the exercise on a less stable surface. Rotation is also often added to help encourage alignment of the hips.

As well as strengthening the Glutes, single-leg deadlifts can also be an excellent exercise for the hamstrings.

Number of repetitions: 10-20 each leg
Number of sets: 1 on weaker leg (if applicable), 1 on stronger leg, 1 again on weaker leg.
Tempo: 3 seconds down (breath in), 1 up (breath out), 2 hold (keep breathing out)

The hip drop

RC8_HipDrops

Hip drops, also referred to as pelvic drops, in effect mimic the hip drop we saw can happen during running if the Gluteus medius is not functioning optimally.

  • Throughout this exercise, the supporting leg needs to remain straight as all movement needs to be a product of lifting and lowering the hip on the opposite side.
  • The body will typically “cheat” on the way down by bending the supporting knee (instead of lowering the opposite hip) and “cheat” on the way up by raising the shoulder (instead of lifting the hip).
  • As is the case in all the exercises, try to avoid allowing the pelvis to rotate forwards or backwards.

All exercises typically require quality of movement to achieve goals but this exercise in particular often falls prey to the body finding alternative ways to getting the job done.

Number of repetitions: 15-25 each leg
Number of sets: 1 on weaker leg (if applicable), 1 on stronger leg, 1 again on weaker leg.
Tempo: 2 seconds down (breath in), 2 up (breath out), 2 hold (keep breathing out)

The clam

RC8_Clam

The Clam is typically slandered by advocates of “functional training” but as we have seen research does show they should be considered depending on the needs of the client. I also find them a wonderful way to discover strength imbalances between the two hips.

  • In side-lying position, slide your bent legs forward so that your hips are flexed to approximately 30 degrees (other versions of the exercise use different angles).
  • Making sure your hips are “stacked” and (apart from your knees) the rest of your body is in a straight line, open your knees while keeping your heels together and pelvis in a neutral position (not hitched or tilted forwards/backwards).
  • Placing your hand on the side of the hip should help you feel the Gluteus Medius contracting as the legs open.

Number of repetitions: 15-25 each leg
Number of sets: 1 with weaker side (if applicable), 1 with stronger side, 1 again with weaker side.
Tempo: 1 up (breath out), 2 hold (keep breathing out), 3 down (breath in)

Closing thoughts

I will finish by reiterating that selection of exercise needs to be based on factors, hence the need for therapists & trainers to treat the body in front of them as opposed to what they have read in a book.

As a performer of exercise, it is vital to follow a progressive program and take time to listen to the body. The research we have looked at does serve to remind us, however, that in a world where information is so quickly gained & shared, many exercises being prescribed today do run the risk of being too complicated.

Heres the kicker:

The five exercises we have looked at should not be overlooked because of their age or simplicity. All the evidence suggests that the hip abductors play a very important role in running performance and injury avoidance, so if you need somewhere to start, the lonely Clam may not be such a bad idea!

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Tune Me In Now on advice to help you to stretch your hip*** CLICK AT ANY PICTURE TO ENLARGE IT and see a SLIDE SHOW***

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Knees exercices(13 photos)

Simple knee exercises

One very powerful way of controlling your knee pain is to do daily range of motion exercises, putting your knee through full movement several times a day. This prevents stiffness developing and stretches all the attached muscles, making them less vulnerable to sudden demands.

Please note that exercises can make your pain worse as well as better so please consult the simple exercise guidance before getting on with them. If you have any doubts, please consult your physio, other manual therapist or medical practitioner.

These exercises are meant to maintain range of motion or regain loss of movement in the knee region and to help control pain. Regular performance of movements can help with pain problems.

They are simple and not magical in any way. However, with regular performance, you should find your problems are improved.

If you have long term knee pain with some disability these exercises may help mobility but may not be very effective against pain.

Do each movement slowly five times, resting a short time in between each set of movements. Do two or three times a day although more often can be useful. You can increase the numbers over time as you get more confident.

Quadriceps tensing

relaxed quadriceps muscle The quadriceps (”four heads”) is the main muscle controlling the knee. For normal knee function it is essential that the quadriceps muscles remain strong and well co-ordinated. The stability of the knee largely depends on this muscle.

The quadriceps, along with the buttocks, are the main muscles which allow us to go up and down stairs, rise from a chair and walk normally.

The first image shows the knee muscles in a relaxed state, with a smooth outline over the thigh.

Lie with your leg out straight. Tense up the thigh muscles, trying to push to knee down and raise the heel. Hold that for a few seconds. Try not to tense up the buttock muscles, you should be able to see the muscles on the front of the thigh tensing up and the kneecap move.

knee quadriceps exercises

You can see the difference here in the second picture, although it is not very obvious in most people. The ability to do this exercise is a basic requirement in the self-management of knee problems. Some people find this very difficult and can’t quite get the tensing up right, so they might find the next exercise more appropriate.

Inner range contractions

inner range quadriceps exerciseI like this exercise, I think it’s one of the best for activating the quadriceps muscles. When you do this exercise, the correct muscles have got to be working.

Place a small object under your knee such as a rolled up towel, then keep the knee on the roll while you lift the heel. Try and get the knee completely straight without raising the knee from the roll. If you do this properly, the quadriceps (the most important stabilising muscle around the knee) must be contracting properly.

If this is difficult, start with a larger roll so you can get your heel up. As the roll gets smaller the exercise gets harder. You can progress your ability this way.

Straight leg raise

straight leg raise exerciseI’m not terribly fond of this exercise, as it stresses the hip and its muscles a lot, but it can be useful.

Keep your knee absolutely straight and lift the leg up six inches/18 cm off the surface.

NB if you have a hip replacement on the same side do NOT do this.

Knee bending

knee flexion / bending exerciseKnee bending is important for normal life. We need 70 degrees for normal walking and 110 degrees to go up and down stairs. It’s more common in knee problems to have problems with straightening the knee, but knee bending is worth practising.

Bend your knee as far as it can easily go, making sure you get to the end of the movement. Hold for a second or so then straighten and repeat.

Prone knee bends

knee bending lying on frontLie on your front. Keeping your thigh down, bend your knee as far as you easily can. This is more difficult because one of the knee muscles is tighter on your front.

This is just a list of the simplest exercises, for an injury or after a knee replacement. There are many other exercises but they need to be designed to fit with the knee problem concerned, so consult your physical therapist.

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Legs workout(16 photos)

Leg toning exercises for women

Get killer legs with this awesome workout from fitness expert, Ladan Soltani

 
Fancy toning your legs? Go old school with a workout from H&F personal trainer and Fitness TV presenter, Ladan Soltani. ‘We forget about or ignore the exercises that have always been around, such as basic leg raises, thinking of them as boring, traditional and even ineffective. But the reason they’ve been around for so long is because they did, and still do, really work,’ she says.

Moves such as squats, lunges and sit-ups should form the foundation of any lower-body workout – they might seem basic but they really do hit the spot! Consistency is key to getting results, so do these workouts three times a week. By performing these toning and conditioning moves regularly, you’ll improve the shape of your muscles and make them stronger.

Single-leg squat

Works:  All muscles below the waist, including core, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals.

Standing with your legs shoulder-width apart, extend your left leg straight out in front of you, making sure your muscles are tensed and foot’s flexed.

Extend your arms forward to counterbalance your body weight as you squat down with your right leg, pushing your body weight back as though you’re going to sit down into a chair and exhale as you lower down. 

Keep your core engaged throughout to support your back. Inhale and return to the start position, repeating 10 times.

Swap legs and do 10 more reps. Rest for 30 seconds, then perform a second set.

Fancy toning your legs? Go old school with a workout from H&F personal trainer and Fitness TV presenter, Ladan Soltani. ‘We forget about or ignore the exercises that have always been around, such as basic leg raises, thinking of them as boring, traditional and even ineffective. But the reason they’ve been around for so long is because they did, and still do, really work,’ she says.

Moves such as squats, lunges and sit-ups should form the foundation of any lower-body workout – they might seem basic but they really do hit the spot!

Consistency is key to getting results, so do these workouts three times a week. By performing these toning and conditioning moves regularly, you’ll improve the shape of your muscles and make them stronger.

Single-leg lunges

Works:  All muscles below the waist, including core, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals.

Standing with your legs shoulder-width apart, hold a weight or full water bottle in front of you with both hands.

Bring your right heel to your bottom in a leg curl so you’re balancing on your left leg.

Exhale, and bend down on your supporting leg as though you’re doing a stationary lunge, letting your arms hang in front of your body to even out the body weight.

Make sure your supporting leg is grounded and your toes are spread in your trainers (not scrunched!).

Inhale and return to the start position, repeating for 10. Swap legs and do 10 more reps. Rest for 30 seconds, then do a second set.

Fancy toning your legs? Go old school with a workout from H&F personal trainer and Fitness TV presenter, Ladan Soltani. ‘We forget about or ignore the exercises that have always been around, such as basic leg raises, thinking of them as boring, traditional and even ineffective. But the reason they’ve been around for so long is because they did, and still do, really work,’ she says.

Moves such as squats, lunges and sit-ups should form the foundation of any lower-body workout – they might seem basic but they really do hit the spot!

Consistency is key to getting results, so do these workouts three times a week. By performing these toning and conditioning moves regularly, you’ll improve the shape of your muscles and make them stronger.

Seated isometric squat 

Works:  Quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals.

Find a wall, stand with your back against it and slide down until your legs are at a 90˚ angle, imagining you’re sitting on a seat. Make sure the lumber region of your spine is pressed into the wall and your stomach muscles are pulled in (keep breathing though!). 

When you feel your legs burning, visualise the amazing results! Do two sets of the maximum amount of time you can hold, gradually building up your time.

You’ll find the stronger your legs become, the longer you can hold this posture with less effort.

Fancy toning your legs? Go old school with a workout from H&F personal trainer and Fitness TV presenter, Ladan Soltani. ‘We forget about or ignore the exercises that have always been around, such as basic leg raises, thinking of them as boring, traditional and even ineffective. But the reason they’ve been around for so long is because they did, and still do, really work,’ she says.

Moves such as squats, lunges and sit-ups should form the foundation of any lower-body workout – they might seem basic but they really do hit the spot!

Consistency is key to getting results, so do these workouts three times a week. By performing these toning and conditioning moves regularly, you’ll improve the shape of your muscles and make them stronger.

Plyometric lunges

Works:  Core, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals and heart rate.

From standing, take a large step forward with your left leg. Bend at both knees and jump in the air, switching your left leg behind you and your right leg in front.

Keep scissoring the legs and switching sides by jumping, like alternate walking lunges but on the spot with impact involved.

Think about being really light and keeping your body weight in your stomach when landing, trying not to lean too far back or forwards.

Make sure you only do this exercise after all the standing exercises so you’re warmed up.

Do 10 reps, rest for 30 seconds, then do another set. Or to avoid high impact, keep your feet on the floor and pulse up and down in the lunge position three times instead of one jumping rep, then swap sides.

Fancy toning your legs? Go old school with a workout from H&F personal trainer and Fitness TV presenter, Ladan Soltani. ‘We forget about or ignore the exercises that have always been around, such as basic leg raises, thinking of them as boring, traditional and even ineffective. But the reason they’ve been around for so long is because they did, and still do, really work,’ she says.

Moves such as squats, lunges and sit-ups should form the foundation of any lower-body workout – they might seem basic but they really do hit the spot!

Consistency is key to getting results, so do these workouts three times a week. By performing these toning and conditioning moves regularly, you’ll improve the shape of your muscles and make them stronger.

» Read more

Tune Me In Now on advice to help you to get great and firm legs *** CLICK AT ANY PICTURE TO ENLARGE IT and see a SLIDE SHOW***

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Neck exercices(11 photos)

The following stretches can keep your neck muscles flexible and strong. A regular neck exercise program can help relieve stiffness and muscle tension.

exercise
Tilt From Front To Back

  • Tilt your head slowly back, far enough so you can look up.
  • Hold posture for a moment.
  • Return slowly to front position.
  • Do 5-10 repetitions of this exercise 3 times a day.

exercise
Tilt From Side To Side

  • Keep your head straight as you slowly tilt it over to the side.
  • Don't go so far that you touch your ear with your shoulder.
  • Hold posture for a moment.
  • Return your head to center position.
  • Move your head to your opposite shoulder.
  • Do 5-10 repetitions of this exercise three times a day.

exercise
Rotate Head From Side To Side

  • Slowly turn your head as far as you can.
  • Hold posture for a moment.
  • Return your head to the center.
  • Move your head in the opposite direction.
  • Do 5-10 repetitions of this exercise 3 times a day.

exercise
Side Resistance

  • Hold one hand against the side of your head.
  • Use your hand to resist the movement as you try to touch your shoulder with your ear.
  • Hold this posture for a count of 5.
  • Relax and repeat on opposite side.
  • Do 5-10 reps of this exercise 3 times a day.
Hand Resistant Exercises

exercise
Forward Resistance

  • Hold both hands against your forehead.
  • Try to move head forward, but resist the movement with your hands.
  • Hold this posture for a count of 5.
  • Relax.
  • Do 5-10 Repetitions of this exercise 3 times a day.

exercise
Backward Resistance

  • Place both hands behind your head.
  • Try to move head backwards, but resist the movement with your hands. Don't tip chin.
  • Hold this posture for a count of 5.
  • Relax.
  • Do 5-10 reps 3 times a day.

This information is not intended as a substitute for proper health care. If you are being treated for a neck problem, exercise under the direction of your health care provider.

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What are pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises)?

The pelvic floor muscles are located between your legs, and run from your pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine at the back. They are shaped like a sling and hold your pelvic organs (uterus, vagina, bowel and bladder) in place.

The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and bowel, and give you control when you urinate. They relax at the same time as the bladder contracts (tightens) to let urine out.

Keeping pelvic floor muscles strong

As you get older, your pelvic floor muscles get weaker. Women who have had children may also have weaker pelvic floor muscles.

Weakened pelvic muscles can cause problems, such as urinary incontinence and reduced sensitivity during sex. There is also a risk of pelvic organ prolapse, where one or more of the pelvic organs bulges into the vagina.

Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence where small amounts of urine leak out during an activity. Doing pelvic floor exercises ('Kegel exercises') can help to improve stress incontinence by keeping your pelvic muscles strong. Both men and women can do pelvic floor exercises.

How to do pelvic floor exercises

You can feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. However, it is not recommended that you regularly stop your flow of urine midstream, because it can be harmful to the bladder.

To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10 to 15 times in a row. Do not hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttock or thigh muscles at the same time.

When you get used to doing pelvic floor exercises, you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds. Every week, you can add more squeezes, but be careful not to overdo it and always have a rest between sets of squeezes.

After a few months, you should start to notice the results. Your incontinence should improve, as well as the sensitivity you experience during sex. You should carry on doing the exercises, even when you notice them starting to work.

Pregnancy

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you can start doing pelvic floor exercises straight away. The exercises will lower your risk of experiencing incontinence after having your baby.

Sex

As well as helping to improve symptoms of urinary incontinence, strong pelvic floor muscles can also mean increased sensitivity during sex and stronger orgasms for women.

Pelvic floor exercises can also benefit men with problems such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

Further information:

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Tune Me In Now on advice to help you to avoid urinary incontinence and reduction of sensitivity during sex *** CLICK AT ANY PICTURE TO ENLARGE IT and see a SLIDE SHOW***

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The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It will also help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth.

Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing, or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable. Exercise is not dangerous for your baby – there is some evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.

You can read the whole article, or use the links to go directly to the topics:

Exercise tips

Exercises to avoid

Exercises for a fitter pregnancy (stomach-strengthening exercises, pelvic tilt exercises and pelvic floor exercises)

Exercise tips for pregnancy

Don’t exhaust yourself. You may need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses or if your maternity team advises you to. If in doubt, consult your maternity team. As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant. If you become breathless as you talk, then you're probably exercising too strenuously.

If you weren't active before you got pregnant, don’t suddenly take up strenuous exercise. If you start an aerobic exercise programme (such as running, swimming, cycling, walking or aerobics classes), tell the instructor that you're pregnant and begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week. Increase this gradually to at least four 30-minute sessions a week.

Remember that exercise doesn't have to be strenuous to be beneficial.

Exercise tips when you're pregnant:

  • always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards
  • try to keep active on a daily basis: half an hour of walking each day can be enough, but if you can't manage that, any amount is better than nothing
  • avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather
  • drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • if you go to exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified, and knows that you’re pregnant as well as how many weeks pregnant you are
  • you might like to try swimming because the water will support your increased weight. Some local swimming pools provide aquanatal classes with qualified instructors. Find your local sport and fitness services
  • exercises that have a risk of falling, such as horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, should only be done with caution. Falls may risk damage to the baby

Exercises to avoid in pregnancy

  • don't lie flat on your back, particularly after 16 weeks, because the weight of your bump presses on the main blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart and this can make you feel faint
  • don't take part in contact sports where there's a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, judo or squash
  • don't go scuba diving, because the baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism (gas bubbles in the bloodstream)
  • don't exercise at heights over 2,500m above sea level until you have acclimatised: this is because you and your baby are at risk of altitude sickness

Exercises for a fitter pregnancy

If you are pregnant, try to fit the exercises listed below into your daily routine. They will strengthen your muscles so that you can carry the extra weight of pregnancy. They'll also make your joints stronger, improve circulation, ease backache, and generally help you feel well.

Stomach-strengthening exercises

As your baby gets bigger, you may find that the hollow in your lower back increases and this can give you backache. These exercises strengthen stomach (abdominal) muscles and may ease backache, which can be a problem in pregnancy:

  • start in a box position (on all fours) with knees under hips, hands under shoulders, with fingers facing forward and abdominals lifted to keep your back straight
  • pull in your stomach muscles and raise your back up towards the ceiling, curling the trunk and allowing your head to relax gently forward. Don't let your elbows lock
  • hold for a few seconds then slowly return to the box position
  • take care not to hollow your back: it should always return to a straight/neutral position
  • do this slowly and rhythmically 10 times, making your muscles work hard and moving your back carefully
  • only move your back as far as you can comfortably

Pelvic tilt exercises

  • stand with your shoulders and bottom against a wall
  • keep your knees soft
  • pull your tummy button towards your spine, so that your back flattens against the wall: hold for four seconds and release
  • repeat up to 10 times

Pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which come under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth. The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch like a supportive hammock from the pubic bone (in front) to the end of the backbone.

If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you may find that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze or strain. This is quite common and you needn’t feel embarrassed. It's known as stress incontinence and it can continue after pregnancy.

By performing pelvic floor exercises, you can strengthen the muscles. This helps to reduce or avoid stress incontinence after pregnancy. All pregnant women should do pelvic floor exercises, even if you're young and not suffering from stress incontinence now. 

How to do pelvic floor exercises:

  • close up your anus as if you're trying to prevent a bowel movement
  • at the same time, draw in your vagina as if you're gripping a tampon, and your urethra as if to stop the flow of urine
  • at first, do this exercise quickly, tightening and releasing the muscles immediately
  • then do it slowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can before you relax: try to count to 10
  • try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day: to help you remember, you could do a set at each meal

As well as these exercises, practise tightening up the pelvic floor muscles before and during coughing and sneezing.

Find out about preventing, living with, and treating incontinence.

Find out more about keeping fit and healthy after you've had your baby.  

Need activity ideas for the rest of the family?

Get activity ideas from Start4Life to help get your family more active. Please bear in mind that the activity plans are not designed for use during pregnancy, but can be useful for your partner, children and other family members.

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Tune Me In Now on advice to help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth. *** CLICK AT ANY PICTURE TO ENLARGE IT and see a SLIDE SHOW***

Definition of the Quadriceps Muscles

Definition: 

The quadriceps muscles consist of four large muscles at the front of the thigh: the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis. The "quads" are powerful muscles involved in movement and propulsion. Exercises that improve the quadriceps muscles are leg presses, squats and leg extensions.

Pronunciation: kwad-ri-seps

Also Known As: quads, front thigh muscles, vastus muscles, rectus femoris muscle

Examples: The quadriceps muscles are usually well-developed in professional cyclists.

Anatomy of the Quadriceps Muscles

The rectus femoris has its origin on the iliac spine of the hip bone. The other quadriceps muscles have their origins on the femur. The vastus lateralis originates on the lateral surface of the femur, the vastus intermedius on the anterior surface, and the vastus medialis on the medial surface. All four quads insert on the patella (the kneecap) via the quadriceps tendon and on the tibial tuberosity via the patella ligament. The rectus femoris partially covers the other three quadriceps. The femoral nerve innervates the quads and they get their blood supply via the lateral femoral circumflex artery.

What Do the Quadriceps Muscles Do?

The quadriceps all work to extend (straighten) the knee. The rectus femoris also flexes the hip, The vastus medialis adducts the thigh and also extends and externally rotates the thigh and stabilizes the kneecap.

You use the quads whenever you straighten a bent knee. In everyday life, they help you get up from a chair, walk, climb stairs and squat. They are used in walking and running at the onset of a stride and get used significantly when going downhill. They get a real workout with cycling, and cyclists have well-developed quads.

Barbell Squat

Updated March 31, 2015.

Execution:

  • Hold the barbell on your upper back and stand with your body upright, positioning your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Flex your hips and knees to lower your torso until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Extend your hips and knees to raise your body to the upright position.

Primary Movers (Quadriceps):

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Intermedius

Secondary Movers:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Adductor Magnus Posterior Head

2     Dumbbell Forward Lunge

Execution:

  • Stand with your body upright holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lunge your left leg forward and flex your hips until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Lunge your left leg back and extend your hips until your body is upright.

Primary Movers:

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Intermedius

Secondary Movers:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Adductor Magnus Posterior Head

3 o Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

Execution:

  • Stand with your body upright grasping a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lunge your right leg back and flex your hips until your left thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • Lunge your right leg forward and extend your hips until your body is upright.

Primary Movers:

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Intermedius

Secondary Movers:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Adductor Magnus Posterior Head

4 o Incline Machine Leg Press

Execution:

  • Sit on the machine seat and then lay your back on the incline seat.
  • Place your feet up on the platform at a distance a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Flex your hips and knees to lower the platform until your thighs are parallel to the platform.
  • Extend your hips and knees to raise the platform.

Primary Movers:

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Intermedius

Secondary Movers:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Adductor Magnus Posterior Head

Note:

  • The rectus femoris is the least involved quadriceps muscle, as it undergoes active insufficiency due to the flexed-hip position.

5 o Seated Machine Leg Extension

Execution:

  • Sit on the machine seat, grasping the handles for support, and position your feet under the roll pads.
  • Extend your knees to bring the roll pads upward until your legs are parallel to the floor.
  • Flex your knees to bring the roll pads downward.

Primary Movers:

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Intermedius

Note:

  • The rectus femoris is the least involved quadriceps muscle, as it undergoes active insufficiency due to the flexed-hip position.

6 o  Barbell Deadlift

Barbell weights - Leo Mason/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Leo Mason/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Execution:

  • Stand with your knees slightly bend, position your feet under the barbell and hold the bar with your hands in an overhand grip.
  • Extend your knees and hips to move the barbell upwards until you are standing upright.
  • Flex your hips and knees to move the barbell downwards to the ground.

Primary Movers:

  • Quadriceps
  • Iliocastalis
  • Longissimus
  • Spinalis

Secondary Movers:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Soleus

7 o  Lying Leg Raise (Rectus Femoris)

Execution:

  • Lie face-up on the floor with your knees extended and place your arms by your sides.
  • Flex your hips, raising your legs off the floor until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  • Extend your hips, lowering your legs to the floor.

Primary Movers:

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Sartorius
  • Iliacus
  • Psoas
  • Tensor Fasciae Latae

Secondary Movers:

  • Pectineus
  • Adductor Longus
  • Adductor Brevis

Note:

The straight-leg position allows for a pre-stretch of the rectus femoris due to passive insufficiency.

8 o   Standing Quadriceps Stretch

Execution:

  • Stand with your body upright and place your left hand on the wall for support.
  • Flex your right leg and hold the bottom of your right shin bone with your right hand.
  • Pull your right foot towards your buttocks.

Muscles Stretched:

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Intermedius
  • Iliacus
  • Psoas
  • Tensor Fasciae Latae
  • Sartorius
  • Pectineus
  • Gracilis

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Shoulder workout(19 photos)

Shoulder Exercises

Unlike most muscles, broad shoulders show even when you are fully clothed!  If you want that sought after V-taper, working on shoulders is very important.  Just a warning, the shoulder has very small muscles and the joint itself can be injured very easily so you really need to watch your form when doing shoulders.  All the time you see people doing these shoulder exercises with really heavy weights but they cheat so much that you wonder if they are doing a leg workout or a shoulder workout. Many of these exercises are best done seated to remove the temptation of  using the legs to bounce the weights up.   Important on all these exercises is to keep your elbows and hands in front of the plane of your body, your shoulder is very unstable and prone to injury if you hyperextend it behind your torso. In all these exercises the shoulders are held all the way down and back like you are trying to hold a tennis ball between your shoulder blades – this makes the shoulder stronger and less prone to injury.  There are many exercises here, probably more than you have time for in one session so just choose different ones each week. I have broken these exercises down into shoulder

Bodybuilder shoulders

Shoulder Mass Builders

Alternating Dumbbell Press

Alternating Dumbbell Shoulder Press 0Alternating Dumbbell Shoulder Press 1

The dumbbell press and the alternating dumbbell press are great shoulder mass builders you can easily do at home.  Above I am showing an alternating dumbbell shoulder press but you can do them simultaneously using these same instructions.  Many people make the mistake of leaning back when they do the dumbbell shoulder press, for this reason I recommend using a stool or bench rather than something with a back rest.  Although you can do a lot more weight if you lean back slightly, that ends up being an incline press which works your  chest more than the shoulder. For more on this subject you can watch my video on bench press, incline press and military press.  Again, dont lean back!

starting position: Seated on a backless bench, keep your abs flexed to support your lower back, and keep your shoulders down and back like you are trying to hold a tennis ball between your shoulder blades.  Lift the weights up so that your elbows are the same height as your shoulders, make a note of this position because you wont ever go lower than this.  Going lower puts a lot of strain on your shoulder joint and doesnt give you any additional benefit.
ending position:  While keeping one arm motionless, lift the other arm slowly up on a 2 second count till it is straight but not locked.  Dont spin the weight, keep your palms facing away from you during the whole exercise.  Now lower it back slowly down to the starting position.  Now repeat this with the other arm!  If you find you cant lift the weights this slowly, then you are using too much weight!

Straight Arm Side Raise

Straight Arm Dumbbell Side Raise (Down Position)Straight Arm Dumbbell Side Raise (Up Position)

Dont just do military press and dumbbell press for shoulders!  The side raise really helps pack on the mass too and I love the way the side raise feels.   You can do these standing or seated on a flat bench.  Although you can do this exercise with your elbows bent 90 degrees as the exercise below illustrates, this straight arm version I show here wont cause elbow tendonitis.

starting position: Abs tight to support the lower back, shoulders down and back, dumbbells hanging at your side with your thumbs pointed outward.  You mouth does not need to be open as I illustrate in this photo 🙂
ending position: Slowly raise the weights up over a one-one thousand, two one-thousand count while keeping the shoulders down and back.  Dont spin them as you raise them.  At the top of the movement your thumbs should point upward and your arms should be horizontal.  Do not go further up, it can cause impingement in the shoulder and it doesnt give you any more benefit.  More ROM (Range Of Motion) is not always better!

Bent Arm Side Raise

Bent Arm Side Raise Starting PositionBent Arm Side Raise Ending Position

This is very similar to the above exercise but is done with the elbows bent 90 degrees.  If you are prone to tennis elbow, skip this exercise and do the straight arm version above.

starting position: Abs tight to support the lower back, shoulders down and back, elbows bent 90 degrees with thumbs pointed up.
ending position: Slowly raise the weights up over a one-one thousand, two one-thousand count while keeping the shoulders down and back.  Dont spin them as you raise them.  At the top of the movement your thumbs should point inward toward each other and your upper arms should be horizontal.  Do not go further up, it can cause impingement in the shoulder and it doesnt give you any more benefit.  More ROM (Range Of Motion) is not always better!

Front Press (Incline or Seated)

Incline Dumbbell Front Press (down position)Incline Dumbbell Front Press (up position)

The front press is a great exercise that is similar to the alternating dumbbell press.  If other shoulder presses hurt your shoulder joint, give this one a try!  This exercise not only works the shoulder but the pecs as well.  This exercise can be done seated or on an incline bench as I show here.  Here is a video showing how to do the incline front press and its upright variant, the seated front press.  The main characteristic that differentiates this exercise from military press and the dumbbell shoulder press is that in this exercise the elbows stay in close to the torso rather than being out to the side like you are trying to air out your armpits.

starting position: Abs tight to support the lower back, shoulders down and back, elbows touching your sides, thumbs pointed toward your head.  Before you start, notice how far the weights are apart, thats how far they will be apart while you lift them.
ending position: Slowly push the weight up over a 2 second count, dont let the elbows drift apart – keep those weights the proper distance apart.  Then slowly lower the weights till your elbows touch your sides again.  Don’t let your elbows go lower than that, it stresses the shoulder joint and doesn’t give you any additional benefit.

Straight Arm Front Raise

Straight Arm Dumbbell Front Raise (Down Position)Straight Arm Dumbbell Front Raise (Up Position)

Above I mentioned about how important the side raise is in building big shoulders.  Now lets talk about the front raise.  Now, one would think that if the side raise is good for building big shoulders, the front raise would be too – right?  Wrong!  Its a great exercise but its not really for shoulders – its arms, chest, and shoulders. You can do these standing or seated but if you stand, make sure you dont bounce with your knees! Shoulders are down and back, hold them like that the whole exercise. For any shoulder exercise its important to hold that position.

starting position: Abs tight to support the lower back, shoulders down and back, arms straight but not locked, thumbs pointing frontwards.
ending position: Slowly lift up to horizontal over a 2 second count with the thumbs up.  Dont go higher than horizontal, too easy to impinge.  If you cant do them this slowly then you are using too much weight. Slowly lower the weights down to the starting position.

Stabilizing Exercises For Shoulders

The shoulder has some really small stabilizing muscles that are very important to keep strong because it can help prevent injury. These exercises are also used sometimes in the rehabilitation of rotator cuff injuries. Working out these muscles will not add any mass you will see when you step on a scale and you wont see them at the beach either but they are very worth doing to prevent injuries. Think of them as very cheap health insurance. Ask anyone who has a rotator cuff injury how devastating it has been to their lifting and it will convince you of the value of keeping strong stabilizing muscles.  Remember, these stabilizing muscles are very small so you need to use small weights. This is a good time to leave your ego outside the weight room. Use too much weight on these and you are almost guaranteed to get an injury requiring expensive shoulder surgery to fix. Start out with 2 or 5lbs. Use a very light weight on this, its a small muscle group. Proper form is very important or you will hurt your shoulder or back. Only your arms move, your legs, head and torso remain completely motionless – if you have to bounce then you are using way too much weight.  In all these exercises, no pain is acceptable – stop immediately if you feel pain and either lower the weight till its pain free or see a doctor.

If you have a shoulder injury and are doing rehabilitation exercises, I recommend you do these with a resistance band rather than weights as shown below.

Reverse Flys

Reverse Fly Starting PositionReverse Fly Ending Position

If you have a really tall bench, you can do this face down on the bench as long as the dumbbells dont touch the ground in the down position, otherwise do them standing.  I often find it helpful to keep my head very lightly touching a chair or some other object just so I can be sure that my head is not moving up and down.  Only the arms move in this exercise, the rest of the body is completely motionless – including the torso.  When you are bent over, make sure to keep your abs flexed tight to support your lower back!  Start with a really light weight when you first try this exercise, try 5lbs to start and only move up when you can completely control the weight.

starting position: Abs tight to support the lower back, torso horizontal, arms hanging down, thumbs pointed up toward your head, shoulders down and back like you are trying to hold a tennis ball between your shoulder blades.  Don’t arch your back like a hissing cat and don’t sag your back like a banana.
ending position: Slowly lift the weights up taking 2 complete seconds to get the weights up.   Keep your arms out straight at a 90 degree angle from your body, if you have to sweep your hands back like the wings of a 747 then the weight is too heavy for you.  Stop when your arms are horizontal, going further up would risk shoulder injury and not provide any additional benefit anyway.  When you get to the top position, hold it for “one one-thousand” before lowering it back down.  Don’t bob your head up and down, jump with your legs, or swing the weights.  If you have to do any of these things then you are using WAY too much weight.

Outer Shoulder Rotations

Shoulder Outer Rotation (Down Position)Shoulder Outer Rotation (Up Position)

I know I already harped on this but I need to mention it again – do really light weights when you do these stabilizing exercises!  The muscles are small and you could easily do some serious damage by using too much weight.  Starting with 2 pounds is probably a good idea, only move up if its way too easy.  This exercise is best done one the ground, doing it on a bench can allow too large a range of motion and could cause injury.

starting position: Lay on your side and put a folded towel between your elbow and your side.  Your elbow will stay pinned against your side the entire duration of the exercise.  Keep your shoulder down and back, dont let it roll forward.  Grasp the dumbbell and keep it horizontal as you start lifting …
ending position: Lift the dumbbell slowly over a two second count till it is the same height as your shoulder, dont go higher! Keep your elbow bent 90 degrees and keep the elbow pinned to your side.  If you cant lift the weight slowly then you are using too much weight.

Inner Shoulder Rotations

Shoulder Inner Rotation (Down Position)Shoulder Inner Rotation (Up Position)

I know I already harped on this but I need to mention it again – do really light weights when you do these stabilizing exercises!  The muscles are small and you could easily do some serious damage by using too much weight.  Starting with 2 pounds is probably a good idea, only move up if its way too easy.  This exercise is best done one the ground, doing it on a bench can allow too large a range of motion and could cause injury.

starting position: Lay on your side with your elbow pinned at your side under your body.  Your free arm can be left at your side or flopped over your head as I illustrate here.   Keep your shoulder down and back, dont let it roll forward.  Grasp the dumbbell and keep it horizontal as you start lifting …
ending position: Lift the dumbbell slowly over a two second count till it is as high as you can go.  Keep your elbow bent 90 degrees and keep the elbow pinned to your side.  If you cant lift the weight slowly then you are using too much weight.

Dumbbell Shrugs

Dumbbell shrugs (down position)Dumbbell shrugs (up position)

Although not a shoulder exericse, I include them here because many people do traps with shoulders.  Dumbbell shrugs are my favorite trap exercise.  You need to do these on a narrow footstool or bench, do not do them standing as the temptation to cheat with the legs is too great.  Several key points on the dumbbell shrug.  First, keep your shoulders held back like you are trying to hold a tennis ball between your shoulderblades – hold this position the entire duration of the exercise.  No rolling the shoulders forward as many people do!  Second key point, choose an elbow angle and hold that the entire duration.  Dont turn this exercise into a dumbbell curl!  Many people do WAY too much weight on this exercise and turn it into a whole body workout, this is for traps only so lower the weight!

starting position:  Shoulders held back with your chest thrust out. Sholders as low as you can go in this position. Arms straight but not locked.
ending position:  Slowly shrug your shoulders while continuing to hold your shoulders back with your chest thrust out.  Dont bend your elbows, keep your arms straight but not locked.  Slowly raise your shoulders up on a two second count.  If you cant shrug with this form then you are using too much weight.

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Six-Pack workout(14 photos)

THE 10-MINUTE SIX-PACK WORKOUT

Build abs of steel with this highly efficient five-move routine

Get a quick six

The quest for a washboard stomach doesn't begin and end with abdominal workouts, but they are of paramount importance. The aim of this workout is to comprehensively train all the muscles of the core (alternating between upper and lower abs) to produce a a pefect chiselled six-pack.

Aim to perform this workout between 2-4 times per week, either as a ‘standalone’ session or bolted on to the end of your usual routine. With no rest in between moves, it should take you just 10 minutes to complete. Combined with a good diet and some quality fat-burning supplements, it will allow you to carve out your core in no time.

The routine (repeat 3 times)

The long-arm crunch 12 reps
Reverse crunch 12 reps
Janda sit-up 12 reps
The Jacknife 12 reps
Extended plank 45 seconds

1. The long-arm crunch

How to do it Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms straightened behind you. Then, keeping your arms straight above your head, perform a traditional crunch. The movement should be slow and controlled.

Why you should do it By extending your arms you add a longer 'lever' to the exercise, placing a greater strain on the upper region of the rectus abdominis.

2. The reverse crunch

How to do it Lie on your back and place your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in towards your chest until they're bent to 90 degrees, with feet together or crossed. Contract your abs to curl your hips off the floor, reaching your legs up towards the ceiling, then lower your legs back down to their original position without letting your feet touch the floor. This ensures your abs are continually activated.

The exercise should be slow and controlled, with no leg swinging or overuse of hip flexors. Pay particular attention to the downward phase – it's tempting to let your legs drop, but they key is to maintain tension in the abdominals throughout the entire exercise.

Why you should do it Although it's important to remember that your rectus abdominis is actually one long muscle that travels from your lower chest to your pelvis and that most abdominal specific exercises train the entire muscle, the reverse crunch will emphasise the lower part of the stomach muscle.

3. Janda sit-up

How to do it Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands placed behind your head. Then try ‘digging’ your heels into the floor, contracting your hamstrings, whilst performing an ordinary crunch.

Why you should do it The theory is that by contracting your hamstrings, you disengage your hip flexors, which in turn makes the muscles of the stomach work that much harder during the exercise.

4. The Jacknife

How to do it Place a mat on the floor, lie down on your back and extend your arms above your head. Simultaneously lift your arms and legs toward the ceiling, until your fingertips touch your toes, then return to your starting position.

Why you should do it After specifically targeting (and pre-exhausting) the upper and lower regions of the rectus abdominis muscle, the jackknife exercise is a great way to comprehensively train the stomach muscles in their entirety in one exercise.

5. The extended plank

How to do it Get into a press-up position, placing your hands around 10 inches in front of your shoulders, with the toes of your shoes placed against the floor. Hold this position with your back straight and try to continue to breathe as normal.

Why you should do it Very similar to the traditional plank, this specifically trains the transverse abdominis muscle – the deepest layer of abdominal muscle which wraps around the whole midsection. By extending your hands past the shoulders you force the muscles involved in the plank to work over a larger (and more difficult) range of movement.

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Triceps workout(16 photos)

If you want powerful, well-defined, titanic arms, building a strong set of triceps needs to be your number one priority. They’re even more important than biceps, given that they make up roughly 2/3 of the muscle mass in your arms.

Triceps Anatomy

The reality is that developing a set of horseshoe-esque, toned-up triceps is ridiculously impressive; impacts performance on lifts like the bench press & military press; and projects Hulk-like power and strength.

Building them also requires precise, well-rounded training that emphasizes the entire triceps muscle.

In fact, the triceps isn’t one muscle, it’s actually comprised of three different heads — the lateral head, medial head, and long head — which together form the larger “triceps” muscle group. In order to build fully-developed, cut-up triceps and that incredible horseshoe-shaped look, it’s essential to hit each of the three heads as hard as possible in every single triceps workout (otherwise you get imbalanced, awkward looking arms).

Here are our top 5 exercises for building ginormous, powerful, chiseled triceps. Each exercise hits all three heads to a certain degree, but some are better than others at activating each part.

Incorporate these exercises into your routine and not only will your triceps pop with enhanced definition and size, but they’ll also improve your bench press and other chest/shoulder exercises.

The Big 5 Triceps Exercises


Best Triceps Exercises

Triceps Exercise 1 — Triceps Dips


If you want big triceps, dips are absolutely essential.

Dips are fantastic for hitting all three heads at once, and they’re one of the only exercises that effectively blasts all three heads simultaneously (along with the closed-grip bench press, which is #2).

Also, unlike cable exercises and a lot of other isolation triceps exercises, dips allow you to overload your triceps with a significant amount of weight. More weight lifted = more muscle gained.

Form:

    

Above are two different variations. The bench dip (right) is significantly easier and a much better option for beginners. The bench dip is also a great exercise for building up endurance and really blasting your tris hard at the end of a workout.

Traditional dips (left) allow the body to handle more weight, and thus are much better for building overall muscle mass. Once you’re able to get 12 reps in a set increase the weight by using a weight belt and weight plates.

Pro Tip: Make sure to lower slowly all the way down until your triceps are parallel with the ground. At the top of the movement, squeeze your triceps hard for 1 second.

Triceps Exercise 2 — Closed-Grip Bench Press


Best Triceps Exercises, closed grip bench press

The Closed-Grip Bench Press is another great exercise that destroys all three heads of the triceps at once. Closed grip bench presses are also phenomenal for adding definition to the inner chest and creating that really nice line of separation between the two pecs.

The CGBP allows the triceps to handle a huge amount of weight, which results in accelerated muscle and strength gains.

Form:

Your hands should be spaced close together at the middle of the bar, about 1 foot apart. Your elbows should be tucked in close to your torso throughout the movement and should not stick out to the sides at all.

Slowly lower the weight down until your triceps are parallel to the ground, hold for 1 second at the bottom, and accelerate back upwards.

Pro Tip: Do them on a decline bench for increased emphasis on the triceps.

Triceps Exercise 3 — Skull Crushers


best triceps exercises, skull crushers, lying triceps extensions

Skull Crushers, aka Barbell Lying Triceps Extensions, primarily work the long and medial heads of the triceps. Building up the long head adds size to the inner-bottom portion of the arm, which helps add overall height to your arms.

Form:

Load an EZ bar with weight plates, lay down on a flat bench, and extend your arms straight overhead.

Without moving your upper arms at all, slowly bend your arms at the elbow and lower the EZ bar back beyond your head until your arms hit a 90 degree angle. Forcefully press your arms upwards and squeeze the contraction at the top for 1 second.

Pro Tip: Some people like to lower the weight directly to their forehead. I prefer (and recommend) lowering the weight behind your head. It takes a lot of stress off of the elbow joint and displaces it all onto the triceps.

Triceps Exercise 4 — Overhead Lateral Triceps Extension


best triceps exercises, overhead triceps extensions, lateral triceps extensions, ticeps

Overhead Lateral Triceps Extensions are killer for smashing the lateral head of the triceps, which is critical for building up a dense, well-shaped horseshoe (they also hit the long head, the other half of the horseshoe).

That’s the glamour muscle that pops on the side of the arm and adds visible thickness.

I love overhead lateral triceps extensions because they really allow you to feel a nice stretch on the way down and a powerful contraction on the way up.

Form:

Start by holding a dumbbell and raising one arm vertically overhead. Slowly bend your arm at the elbow and lower the dumbbell sideways behind your head. Make sure to keep your upper arm completely stationary and locked in place.

Lower slowly for 2 seconds, press back up to start, and squeeze your triceps hard at the top of the movement.

Pro Tip: Rest your bicep against your head and keep it there throughout the movement. It’s a great way to anchor your arm and keep the movement under control.

Triceps Exercise 5 — Reverse One-Arm Cable Triceps Extensions


best triceps exercises, triceps exercises, reverse one arm cable triceps extension, reverse triceps extension, cable triceps extension

Reverse One-Arm Cable Triceps Extensions isolate and emphasize the medial head, which adds length to the triceps and helps builds size around the elbow joint. I also find that it’s easy to pump out an insane squeeze at the point of contraction.

Form:

Set up a cable station with a handle attachment so that the handle is as high as possible on the rack.

Tuck your arm and elbow tightly into your torso and keep it there throughout the entire movement. Your upper arm does not move at all — it’s purely a movement at the elbow joint.

Grab the handle with an underhand grip, bend at the elbow, and squeeze the life out of your triceps at the bottom. Hold the contraction for 1 second and slowly raise the cable back up to start.

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Unfold Close  HEALTH and FITNESS

Step right up! It's the miracle cure we've all been waiting for.

It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.

It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some. Its name? Exercise.

Click on the links below to find out if you're doing enough for your age:

Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence.

This is no snake oil. Whatever your age, there's strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life.

People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress,depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

Health benefits

Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that we should all be physically active. It's essential if you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life into old age.

It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

What counts?

To stay healthy, adults should try to be active daily and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities.

For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around. However, the more you do, the better, and taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier.

For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer. This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can't sing the words to a song.

If your activity requires you to work even harder, it is called vigorous intensity activity. There is substantial evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity. You can tell when it’s vigorous activity because you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

A modern problem

People are less active nowadays, partly because technology has made our lives easier. We drive cars or take public transport. Machines wash our clothes. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen. Fewer people are doing manual work, and most of us have jobs that involve little physical effort. Work, house chores, shopping and other necessary activities are far less demanding than for previous generations.

We move around less and burn off less energy than people used to. Research suggests that many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down, at work, on transport or in their leisure time. People aged over 65 spend 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. 

Sedentary lifestyles

Inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health.

Not only should you try to raise your activity levels, but you should also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting down.

Common examples of sedentary behaviour include watching TV, using a computer, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listen to music – and such behaviour is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity. 

“Previous generations were active more naturally through work and manual labour, but today we have to find ways of integrating activity into our daily lives,” says Dr Cavill.

Whether it's limiting the time babies spend strapped in their buggies, or encouraging adults to stand up and move frequently, people of all ages need to reduce their sedentary behaviour.

“This means that each of us needs to think about increasing the types of activities that suit our lifestyle and can easily be included in our day,” says Dr Cavill.

Crucially, you can hit your weekly activity target but still be at risk of ill health if you spend the rest of the time sitting or lying down. For tips on building physical activity and exercise into your day, whatever your age, read Get active your way.

For a summary on the health benefits of being more active, check out this Department of Health infographic (PDF,500kb).

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A guide to getting active if you have an impairment or a long-term health condition.

This guide will help you:

Build activity into your day

To improve your health, try to put some time aside to do activities that improve your heart health and your muscle strength.

The Government recommends doing at least 150 minutes of activity a week as well as strength exercises on two or more days a week.

But don't worry about hitting these targets straight away: every little helps. What's more important is choosing an activity you enjoy.

The easiest way to increase your activity levels is to build activity into the things you do every day, like going to work, shopping and seeing friends.

Tips to build activity into your day:

  • walk or ride part of your journey to work or the shops
  • get off a bus or tube stop before your destination
  • if you drive, park further away from your office and walk or ride the rest of the way
  • go for a walk or a ride with your friend rather than meeting for coffee
  • exercise before or after work, or during your lunch break.
  • lots of gardening can provide a good workout
  • exercise in front of the TV
  • try an online video workout

Some charities have their own workouts online, for example the Multiple Sclerosis Society.    

Get more activity tips.

Accessible gyms
Find an inclusive gym on the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) website.

Event finder
Use the EFDS event finder to find an activity in your area.

Get Inspired
Browse through activities on the BBC's Get Inspired section. 

Get into Paralympic sports
Find a sport based on your impairment and find a club near you using the Parasport website.

Disability sports listings

Most sports organisations actively encourage disabled people to get involved. The list of organisations below is by no means exhaustive. 

Sport-specific organisations

Angling
The British Disabled Angling Association supports disabled people of all ages and abilities to get into fishing in the UK.

Archery
The British Wheelchair Archery Association supports archers with all impairments from grassroots to elite level with expert advice and coaching. 

Athletics
If you're looking to start in athletics, Parallel Success offers great opportunities for disabled athletes.

Badminton
England Badminton Players Association for Disabled aims to get more disabled people into badminton at any standard or level.

Boccia
Boccia England is responsible for all aspects of the sport, from beginner to expert, providing for all levels of participation.

Bowls
Disability Bowls England aims to be the first port of call for anyone with a disability looking to get into bowls.

Cricket
Organisations working to boost participation in cricket include the English Cricket Board, the Cricket Federation for People with Disabilities and the England Cricket Association for the Deaf.

Cycling
Organisations helping disabled people get into cycling include Cycling UK, Hand Cycling UK and Companion Cycling.

Dancing
If you enjoy dancing for fun or to stay active, find a disability dance class near you with the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association.

Football
Find out where you can play disability football near you using the Football Association's Play Football section and the Disability football directory.

Sledge hockey
Find out how to get into sledge hockey with the British Sledge Hockey Association.

Fencing
Look up clubs and find out more about getting into disabled fencing with the British Disabled Fencing Association.

Goalball
Visit Goalball UK to find out more about the sport and how to get involved.

Golf
Golf organisations supporting and promoting disability golf are listed on England Golf's disability section.

Gymnastics
Find an accessible gymnastics club near you using the British Gymnastics website.

Horse riding
Find a riding group near you using the Riding for the Disabled Association.

Karate
Find a club near you using the English Karate Federation website.

Rowing
Find out how to get into adaptive rowing at British Rowing.

Sailing
Find an accessible sailing venue near you using the Royal Yachting Association website.

Shooting
Look up accessible shooting clubs on the Disabled Shooting Project website.

Snow sports
Find a local ski group, book lessons and find skiing activities near you at Disability Snowsports UK.

Strength and flex
Improve your strength and flexibility with this five-week exercise plan. Not adapted for wheelchair users.

Swimming
Find a swimming pool near you with disability access and local disability swimming clubs at Swimming.org

Table tennis
Table Tennis England works to increase the numbers of disabled people participating in table tennis.

Tennis
Find out about how to take part in tennis if you have a disability with the Tennis Foundation.

Volleyball
Find a sitting volleyball centre near you using the Volleyball England website.

Walking
Several websites provide information about local walking groups for the disabled, such as Disabled Ramblers and Walking for health.

Wheelchair basketball
Find a club near you and all you need to know about wheelchair basketball with British Wheelchair Basketball.

Wheelchair rugby
If you want to give wheelchair rugby a try, find your local club on the GB Wheelchair Rugby website.

National bodies

Back Up – supporting people with spinal cord injury

British Amputee & Les Autres Sports Association

British Blind Sport

Cerebral Palsy Sport

Dwarf Sports Association UK

LimbPower – supporting amputees and people with limb impairments to reach their sporting potential

Mencap Sport – supporting people with a learning difficulty

Metro – London-focused resource for blind and partially sighted people

Special Olympics GB – supporting people with learning disabilities

UK Deaf Sport

Transplant Sport UK

UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability

WheelPower – supporting wheelchair sport

Disability Sports Wales

Scottish Disability Sport

Disability Sports NI

» Read more

There are many ways busy mums and dads, families, young people, office workers and older adults can build physical activity into their lives. Being physically active is easier than you think, especially if you make activity part of your daily routine.

The amount of activity you need to do each week depends on your age. Click on the links below to find out how much exercise you should be doing:

For most of us, daily chores such as shopping or housework don't count towards your activity target. This is because your body doesn't work hard enough to get your heart rate up.

Click on the links below for ideas on building more activity into your life:

Fitness for busy mums and dads

  • Set a time for physical activity and stick to it. You're more likely to find time to be active if you do it at the same time and on the same days each week.
  • Split activity up throughout the day – you can achieve your target in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Try these 10-minute workouts.
  • Walk your children to and from school. This will also help them develop a pattern of physical activity.
  • Be active with your child. Take them to the swimming pool, or play in the garden or park. Watch a video on exercising with kids.
  • Take up running – if you're just starting out, try our popular Couch to 5K running plan.
  • Improve your strength and flexibility with Strength and Flex, a five-week exercise workout plan.
  • Join a child-friendly gym. Find a class or club that allows children in or offers childcare during a workout.
  • Set up a buggy group with other parents and go on long walks with the children.
  • Try our home exercise routines in the NHS Fitness Studio.
  • Exercise during your lunch break. Your office may have a gym, or you may have access to a nearby swimming pool or squash courts.
  • Cycle or walk part, if not all, of your journey to work. Get off one bus or tube stop before your destination. Find out more about cycling for beginners.

For advice on exercising after pregnancy, read keeping fit and healthy with a baby.

Fitness for families

  • Children don't need to get their daily target of 60 active minutes all in one go – they can do them in chunks of 10 minutes throughout the day.
  • Try something new. If you're not sure what activities you'd like to try as a family, use the What's your sport? tool to find out what you're best suited to.
  • If parents are physically active, their children are likely to be active too, so lead by example.
  • Instead of watching TV, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends, such as playing chase or riding their bikes.
  • Let your kids help decide what to do. Children are more likely to participate in something if they're involved in picking it.
  • When it comes to play, children should do what they enjoy most. Running around, having fun with other kids and burning off energy are great ways of getting some (or all) of their recommended 60 minutes of activity a day.
  • Walking is a fun and easy way for children to get active while spending time with you and their friends. Get more walking tips in walking for health.
  • Have a disco in your lounge with your music. All you need are some great tunes and you and your children can have fun dancing anywhere. Read about dancing for fitness.
  • Have a splash – whether they're doing lengths of the pool or having a good splash about, children love playing in water. Find out more in swimming for fitness.
  • Cycling is a great alternative to the car or bus. You don't even need to have somewhere to get to – just taking the kids out for a bike ride is a fun activity.

Young people and fitness

  • Try something new. If you're not sure what activities you'd like, find out which sport or activity you're best suited to using the What's your sport? tool.
  • Take up running – if you're just starting out, try our popular Couch to 5K running plan.
  • Get into shape with Strength and Flex, a five-week exercise plan to increase your strength and flexibility.
  • Walk more: to school, to visit friends, to the shops, or other places in your neighbourhood. Find out the benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day.
  • Get your mates involved. You're more likely to keep active if you have fun and other people to enjoy yourself with.
  • Ask your parents if you can go to the gym with them or if there's a local community centre where you can exercise.
  • Create a new routine where you walk or run every day when you get home from school or before you have dinner.
  • If you don't want to exercise outside on your own, buddy up with a friend, or use an exercise DVD or choose a workout from the NHS Fitness Studio.
  • Dance in front of the TV or play some music. All you need are some great tunes and you can have fun dancing anywhere – and burn calories at the same time.
  • Do some household chores. Although light tasks such as taking out the rubbish won't raise your heart rate, some heavy gardening or washing the car will count towards your daily activity target.

Fitness for office workers

  • Cycle or walk part – if not all – of your journey to work. Read more about cycling for beginners.
  • Get off a bus or tube stop before your destination.
  • If you need to drive, try to park further away from your office and walk the rest of the way.
  • Discuss project ideas with a colleague while taking a walk.
  • Stand while talking on the telephone.
  • Walk over to someone's desk at work rather than calling them on the phone or sending an email.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift, or get out of the lift a few floors early and use the stairs.
  • Walk up escalators or travelators rather than standing still.
  • Go for a walk during your lunch break – use a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take.
  • Try to find different walks, and alternate between them during the week. Gradually build up to walking 10,000 steps a day.
  • Exercise before or after work, or during your lunch break. Your office may have a gym, or you may have access to a nearby swimming pool or squash courts.

Fitness for older adults (65 years and over)

  • Be active around the house – cooking, housework and walking while you're on the phone can help keep you mobile, although these activities won't count towards your weekly activity target
  • Improve your strength, balance and flexibility with our step-by-step exercise guides, which include sitting exercises.
  • Get into shape with Strength and Flex, a five-week exercise plan to increase strength and flexibility for beginners.
  • Conservation groups are a way to get involved in improving your local environment and being active at the same time. Watch a video about Green Gyms.
  • Try something new. If you're not sure what activities you'd like, find out which sport or activity you're best suited to using the What's your sport? tool.
  • Walking is the easiest way to increase your activity levels. Find a friend to walk with, or join a walking group for some extra motivation. Read about walking for health.
  • Senior sports or fitness classes keep you motivated and can be fun, relieve stress and help you meet friends.
  • Heavy gardening – including pushing, bending, squatting, carrying, digging and shovelling – can provide a good workout.
  • Swimming, aqua aerobics and working out in water are ideal for older adults, because water reduces stress and strain on the body's joints. Find out more in swimming for fitness.
  • Yoga is suitable for all ability levels. It combines a series of poses with breathing, and is good for building strength, flexibility and balance.
  • Tai chi is an ancient Chinese art that builds strength, flexibility and balance through slow and controlled movements.
  • Pilates focuses on stretching and strengthening the whole body to improve balance, muscle strength, flexibility and posture. 
  • Take up running – if you're just starting out, try our popular Couch to 5K running plan.

Disabled people

When it comes to exercise, disabled people have pretty much the same options – everything from simply getting out a bit more to playing team sports.

  • If you can walk, there's no easier way to increase your activity levels. Try to include walking in your daily routine. Find a friend to walk with, or join a walking group for some extra motivation.
  • Cycling: there are tricycles, quadcycles, recumbants, hand-powered bikes called handcycles, and power-assisted bicycles, all of which are alternatives for those unable to ride a regular bicycle. Find out more at British Cycling, the Handcycling Association,Companion Cycling and Race Running.
  • Take up running – if you're just starting out, try our popular Couch to 5K running plan
  • Get moving with Strength and Flex, a five-week exercise plan to increase your strength and flexibility (not suitable for wheelchair users).
  • Split activity up throughout the day. You can achieve your target in bouts of 10 minutes or more – try these 10-minute workouts. Talk to a health professional or ask an organisation for people with your impairment about what the best exercises are for you.
  • Low-impact exercises such as yoga, Pilates and tai chi have been adapted to suit the needs of people with different types of disabilities. Get advice first, however, especially if you have a physical impairment – exercises not suited to your impairment may be harmful.
  • Choose a gym from one of more than 400 Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) accredited gyms. Find your nearest IFI facility by going to the English Federation of Disability Sport website.
  • Swimming can feel quite liberating if you have a physical disability, as your body is mostly supported by the water. Many pools offer classes and sessions catering specifically for disabled people. Find out more at swimming.org
  • Adapted sports – many sports can be played by disabled people on the same basis as non-disabled people. Some have also been adapted to make them more disability-friendly, such as blind football.

» Read more

How much physical activity do adults aged 19-64 years old need to do to stay healthy?

To stay healthy or to improve health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and strength exercises.

How much physical activity you need to do each week depends on your age. Click on the links below for the recommendations for other age groups:

Guidelines for adults aged 19-64

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).  

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). 

  • A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).  

A rule of thumb is that one minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as two minutes of moderate activity.  

One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week. 

All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity. Find out why sitting is bad for your health.

What counts as moderate aerobic activity?

Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • volleyball
  • basketball 

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song.

What counts as vigorous activity?

There is good evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity.

Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:

Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

In general, 75 minutes of vigorous activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate activity.

For a moderate to vigorous workout, try Couch to 5K, a nine-week running plan for beginners.

What activities strengthen muscles?

Muscle strength is necessary for:

  • all daily movement
  • to build and maintain strong bones
  • to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure
  • to help maintain a healthy weight

Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like a bicep curl or a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.

For each strength exercise, try to do:

  • at least one set
  • eight to 12 repetitions in each set 

To get health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them to the point where you struggle to complete another repetition.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for most people include:

  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
  • yoga

Try Strength and Flex, a 5-week exercise plan for beginners to improve your strength and flexibility.

You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity - whatever's best for you.

Muscle-strengthening exercises are not an aerobic activity, so you'll need to do them in addition to your 150 minutes of aerobic activity.

Some vigorous activities count as both an aerobic activity and a muscle-strengthening activity.

Examples include:

  • circuit training
  • aerobics
  • running
  • football
  • rugby
  • netball
  • hockey

Download a factsheet on physical activity guidelines for adults (19-64 years) (PDF, 568kb)

For a summary on the health benefits of being more active, check out this Department of Health infographic (PDF, 500kb).

» Read more

Unfold Close  HEALTHY WEIGHT CALCULATOR
Unfold Close  TIPS for SPORTS and FITNESS

Image result for 15 top tips for improving your swimming, tennis and strength training

The sun may be finally setting on the summer, but that’s no excuse not to stay active. Find some inspiration with these tips from real swimming, tennis and general fitness coaches from David Lloyd Clubs – you’ve no excuse

  • Better together: the health benefits of being sociable
  • Swimming

    Image result for 15 top tips for improving your swimming, tennis and strength training

  • Forever blowing bubbles
    “The most important skill when swimming freestyle is to be able to exhale freely into the water … by blowing bubbles,” says former Great Britain swimmer Nuala Muir-Cochrane, now a David Lloyd Clubs swimming participation manager, based in Camden. “Most people instinctively hold their breath when their face is in the water, but being able to blow bubbles will improve the number of lengths you can swim because you won’t be starved of oxygen.”

    Master the art of floating and trust the water
    “Initially, most people think they have to frantically move everything in the water at once, otherwise they will sink,” says Nuala Muir-Cochrane. “Actually, if you relax and let the water support you, it will help you. You have to trust it to hold you. Practice simply floating on your front or on your back on the surface of the water to master this art, which will make each stroke more efficient.”

  • Short numbers of lengths keeps your technique sweet
    “If you have a target of, say, 20 lengths to swim in one session, it is more beneficial to have a break every two lengths or so, rather than just trying to plough on, becoming gradually slower and more rugged in terms of technique,” recommends Muir-Cochrane. “You improve your strength by stopping regularly, and won’t end up being so exhausted that your stroke breaks down. Bad habits creep in with fatigue.”

    Little and often rule for swimmers
    “Two or three short swims a week will develop your technique so much quicker than just one long one,” says Muir-Cochrane. “That regularity will improve endurance, and your ‘feel’ of the water, meaning you will understand how to float better.”

    Divide and conquer for a better swimming technique
    “Good, efficient swimming is created by a balance of effort,” suggests Muir-Cochrane. “Most pools have floats you can use to build on either your arm or leg technique by isolating one half of your body. For instance, occasionally working only your arms while using a ‘pull buoy’ between your straight legs will help your front crawl no end.”

    Tennis

  • Image result for 15 top tips for improving your swimming, tennis and strength training

    Power comes last for top tennis technique
    “To improve at tennis, develop your consistency, build up your accuracy, and the final thing to add is your power,” says David Lloyd Clubs tennis participation manager Martin Fuller. “A lot of people will hit the ball too hard, and the accuracy and consistency never follows, because so many errors are being made.”

    Swing then you’re winning
    “On forehand and backhand shots, make sure you are hitting the ball out to the side of your body, so you have space to swing,” continues tennis expert Fuller. “Don’t become cramped with your swing, as you will lose power and accuracy, and give your opponent the advantage. To do that, however, you have to be nimble and ready to react.”

    The early bird catches the ball better
    “Whether you are returning a serve or playing a mid-rally shot, draw your tennis racquet back for a hit good and early,” says Fuller. “That way you give yourself the most time to return the ball on your terms and won’t feel rushed. Being prepared for the shot your opponent plays is at least as important as your technique playing the shot.”

    Forward thinking servers reap rewards
    “If you work on your serve it can soon become your most potent weapon; neglecting it, though, can mean it is your biggest weakness,” says Fuller. “With the throw, toss the ball slightly in front of you. It should be easy and comfortable to hit, so you strike it while stretching, at full-racquet length. Beginners tend to throw the ball in all different directions and hit the ball regardless. Having control, and forward momentum, is crucial for a decent service – and keep your eyes on the ball. Further, you can practice on your own without the need for a partner, so you have no excuse to not better your ace count.”

    Overplaying your drop shot is a poor ploy
    “When you play a drop shot it so often gives an attacking advantage to your opponent,” warns Fuller. “If you do play it, choose the right time, when your rival is out of position, or on the back foot, and use a little bit of backspin, so it dies on impact, or near enough.”

    Strength and fitness training

  • Image result for 15 top tips for improving your swimming, tennis and strength training

    Squat your way to fitness
    “So many people use poor form for certain exercises in the gym, and they can do more harm that good,” says Elaine Denton, group health and fitness support manager at David Lloyd Clubs. “The squat, which is so good as it works most leg muscles and should be a go-to exercise, helps functionality tremendously, and is worth the time it takes to master. With the weight evenly balanced across your shoulders, you feet should be wider than your hips, but in a stance which is comfortable, and your toes should be pointed out slightly. Keep your chest lifted when squatting, and push the hips back and down, making such you don’t go further than your knees.

    Bench press to impress
    “For all-round fitness, the bench press – lying on a bench and raising a weight with both arms – is a superb exercise,” suggests Denton. “Have your feet planted wider than your shoulders. Keep the bar in line with the centre of your chest and never go lower than your body.”

    Eat within two hours of a workout – and shortly afterwards
    “Nutrition can really affect performance, so really think about what you eat both before and after your workouts to gain the most benefits,” says Denton. “Studies show that you should eat within between one to two hours before your training session, so you are not running on empty. And if you don’t take on board some protein following your workout then it will hamper your development, because the muscles won’t recover as quickly as they would with proper, careful nutrition.”

    Keeping well hydrated is vital for maximum workout gains
    “We should be aiming for a minimum of three litres of water a day to maintain hydration,” says Denton. “Activity performance can suffer if you are dehydrated, which can lead you to feeling unsuccessful or taking longer to achieve your goals – both of which are really demotivating.”

    Early morning workouts don’t work for everyone
    “To get the most out of your workout you need good hydration, decent nutrition and quality – rather than quantity of – sleep, and play around with the time you train,” adds Denton. “It has to be right for you. If you are not a morning person, and don’t sleep well, don’t force yourself to work out, because you will basically give up.”

    Source: The Guardian

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