Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Fitness

Happy Friday!

I've decided to come up with a little series I call "Friday Fitness". In this series I will bring to you videos of new workouts (not my own in the beginning but I plan to start shooting my own work outs), proper form for exercises, and anything else related to a healthy fit lifestyle.

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Today I'll talk a little bit about proper form. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone performing an exercise while using improper form. Not only is it counter-productive, it is also dangerous and will more than likely result in some sort of injury. In my training, proper form is emphasized several times throughout the curriculum. There is no use in doing a workout if you're only going to do it wrong.

In the weeks to come I will highlight exercises for different parts of the body. Today I will start with lower body exercises and the basics to working out the different muscles that make up your legs and glutes.

Squat

Starting with the most commonly known exercise, the squat. It is very easy to perform this exercise the wrong way, but it is also very easy to perform it the correct way. It is a complete lower body work out that can be performed essentially anywhere with little skill.

Targeted Muscle Groups

  • Calves
  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Legs
Purposes
  • Increases blood flow into the legs
  • Strengthens muscles (glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves)
Form
  • Stand with your feet hip width apart
  • Bend your hips and knees and start to descend
  • Keep feet flat and firmly on the ground and sink your hips back (as if sitting in a chair)
  • Keep the weight in your heels by sitting back and keeping your knees behind your toes
  • Keep a straight back and neutral head position
Mistakes
  • Rounding of the back
  • Knees tilting inward
  • Knees passing the toes
  • Heels coming off the ground
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Walking Lunges

Walking lunges is a sure fire way to strengthen the booty (glutes), and creates strong, lean legs. The also play a role in improving balance and motor patterns.  You can always use a pair of dumbbells for added resistance.

Targeted Muscle Groups

  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Legs
Purposes
  • Strengthens legs and hips 
  • Develops and strengthens basic motor patterns
Form
  • Stand with your feet at shoulder width apart, hands on hips
  • With one foot, step forward about 16 to 20 inches and descend
  • Step forward onto the front leg, into a standing position, using the the strength of the front leg
  • Repeat on opposite leg
  • Alternate legs for desired number of times
Mistakes
  • Front foot and knee not pointing straight
  • Front knee passing the toes
  • Rounding or tilting of the back
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Deadlifts

Deadlifts are one of my favorite leg, back, and booty exercises. It is very easy to perform this work out incorrectly which could result in lower back strain and injury. Of course there are different variations of the deadlift, but the form foundation is basically the same in each style.

Targeted Muscle Groups

  • Back
  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Legs
Purposes
  • Strengthens lower back, glutes, and hamstrings
Form
  • Start with the barbell in front of your thighs, hands hip width apart
  • Slowly bend at the hips, keeping your chest up and back straight at all times
  • To assure the greatest amount of bending occurs at the hips, slightly bend your knees (about 20 degrees)
  • Keeping the barbell close to the shins/thighs at all times, return to standing position
Mistakes
  • Knees locked
  • Bending the knees too much
  • Rounding of the back
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Bridging

Bridging not only helps to strengthen the legs but also helps to develop core stability. There are also variations of this exercise ranging from single leg to weighted. It is a perfect beginning exercise and can be used in either your leg or core workouts. It can also be performed essentially anywhere with limited skill.

Targeted Muscle Groups

  • Back
  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Legs
Purposes
  • Strengthens lower back, glutes, and hamstrings
Form
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet placed flat and firmly on the ground about 12 to 14 inches from your hips
  • Keep your hands flat by your side to help maintain balance
  • Lift your hips toward to sky until your thighs and trunk make a straight line
  • Return slowly to starting position
Mistakes
  • Hips not fully elevated and straight
  • Over-arching of the back
  • Allowing one hip to drop
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These are just a few of the basic lower body work outs. When exercising always remember to maintain proper form to receive optimal results.

What is your favorite lower body exercise?

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