Fitness – Inspire Us https://www.inspireusafoundation.org Inspiring People To Lead a Healthier Life Through Fitness & Nutrition Fri, 18 Sep 2020 19:49:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/favicon.png Fitness – Inspire Us https://www.inspireusafoundation.org 32 32 What are the Benefits of the Leg Press Machine? https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/leg-press-machine-benefits/ https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/leg-press-machine-benefits/#respond Fri, 18 Sep 2020 19:39:52 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=855 leg press machine benefitsThe leg press machine can come in the form of a horizontal leg press machine or a 45-degree leg press machine. Both forms of the leg press machine consist of a platform, free weights placed on top of the platform or weight stacks, and locking mechanisms to hold the platform in place. The leg press […]]]> leg press machine benefits

The leg press machine can come in the form of a horizontal leg press machine or a 45-degree leg press machine. Both forms of the leg press machine consist of a platform, free weights placed on top of the platform or weight stacks, and locking mechanisms to hold the platform in place.

The leg press machine promotes lower body development, targeting the major lower body muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and calves. The leg press machine isolates the lower body from the upper body during the exercise. This makes it useful for physical rehabilitation as it avoids putting significant stress on the upper body.

This article will discuss some of the benefits of the leg press machine in terms of lower body development, injury prevention, and athletic performance. It will also highlight some of the variations of the leg press machine that can be used to target specific muscles.

Leg Press Machine Benefits

Lower Body Development

muscles of the legs

The Leg Press Machine promotes leg development by isolating the muscles that comprise the leg. This machine mainly engages the gluteal muscles, quadriceps, and hamstrings. The calves act as supporting and stabilizing muscles throughout the movement. It also engages the gastrocnemius and the adductor magnus.

The quadriceps femoris muscle is composed of the vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and the rectus femoris. These muscles are engaged when a person extends the knees during running, jumping, and squatting.

When using the leg press machine, the quadriceps become the primary target muscle during the push-off and lifting phase of the exercise. Afterward, the quads become the stabilizing muscles during the control phase and weight return phase, in which the hamstrings become the primary target muscle.

The glutes and the hamstrings are always engaged, but to different degrees. Strong gluteal muscles can help in doing other lifting exercises such as squats as well as recreational activities such as hiking. It also helps in performing basic functions like lifting objects and holding weight. Strong hamstring muscles, on the other hand, promote greater jumping ability and more explosive power for sprints.

The leg press machine helps overcome muscular imbalances in the lower body.

Injury Prevention

There is less risk of injury when using the leg press machine as compared with using free weights like squats and deadlifts. The leg press machine eliminates the need for barbells and other free weights when leg training. At the same time, it can also be incorporated as a warm-up exercise for these barbell exercises to stretch the joints and muscles and avoid injuries.

The leg press machine is easy to use and does not require any technical skill or experience, unlike squats. It also eliminates the need for help from other people at the gym as a spotter and it is also good for beginners who want to build leg strength before doing squats and deadlifts.

The leg press machine has a seat and a backrest which effectively isolates the leg muscles from the upper body during leg press. This machine attempts to simulate squats in a seated position, targeting similar muscle groups but without spinal and knee loading. Thus, there is no need to balance weights to maintain an upright position when using the leg press machine so there is a lesser risk of overworking the muscles and suffering injuries.

Aside from avoiding upper body and knee related injuries, using the leg press machine can also prevent pulled or torn hamstrings. In sports, the hamstring is usually injured due to extensive movement. The leg press machine conditions and strengthens the hamstring muscle to enhance flexibility and endurance necessary to avoid injury.

Good for Beginners or People Doing Physical Rehab

The leg press machine can help beginners gain more strength and endurance in the lower body to perform more advanced leg exercises including powerlifting exercises such as squats and deadlifts. It is also a good exercise machine for people with weak knees or back problems because most of the pressure of the weights during the leg press is on the glutes and hamstrings.

The leg press machine is also stationary and promotes a fixed pattern of movement that primarily serves to provide a stable foundation for the exercise. There is no need to balance the weights across the bodies to train the leg muscles when using the leg press machine. Thus, it is easier to gain muscle and improve strength when using the leg press machine than free weights.

Promotes Stronger Bones and Sharper Mind

The leg press machine also promotes bone development in the same way as muscle development. Weight-bearing exercises like the leg press increase the pressure and stress on the bones which is essential to produce osteoblasts that produce bone mass for greater bone density. Optimal bone density is essential to prevent musculoskeletal degenerative diseases associated with age such as osteoporosis.

Along with stronger bones, the leg press machine can also help in neural growth and development. According to the Frontiers of Neuroscience, doing weight-bearing activities such as the leg press can increase brain function and promote neural cell development. They note that performing these types of load-bearing exercises at least two days a week can stimulate a healthy level of neural cell development.

Improved Performance in Sports and Other Exercises

The leg press machine can enhance strength and endurance for better lower body stability. Using the leg press machine regularly can increase balance and ability to retain stability through positional change.

It also enhances speed and explosiveness necessary for running and jumping. Doing leg presses at lower repetitions and greater volume can increase explosive strength for better sprint speed and vertical leap.

It is also well-documented how leg muscle mass can increase sprint speed because of the stronger and more efficient use of force to propel the legs forward. The leg press machine engages fast-twitch muscle fibers in the legs that are required for stronger leg thrusts.

This can also translate to enhanced performance in other exercises like squats and deadlifts as well as cardiovascular performance,

Leg Press Machine Variations

leg press feet position

You can incorporate leg press variations by changing the position of the feet on the platform, adjusting the distance between the feet, or using specific parts of the feet to push the platform during a leg press.

Using the toes and the balls of the feet to push the platform can increase the engagement of the quad and calf muscles while pressing using the heels can increase the engagement of the glutes.

Pushing at the top of the platform can also increase glute and hamstring engagement while pushing on the lower part will engage the quads.

It is also good to perform isolateral presses by using one leg at a time with reduced weight or doing reverse leg presses to activate the posterior chain.

Using only the balls of the feet on the end of the platform can target the calf muscles. In a similar way, can you turn your feet in-ward and outward to induce portion-specific gastrocnemius muscle hypertrophy.

References

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Types of Barbells Explained: Olympic, Powerlifting, More https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/types-of-barbells/ https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/types-of-barbells/#respond Wed, 05 Aug 2020 02:03:55 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=846 types of barbellsThere are numerous types of barbells designed to be used in multiple different ways depending on the lifter’s goal. Whether you’re using barbells for compound movements like squats or isolation exercises like preacher curls. Different types of barbells are suited for different types of lifts. To choose the perfect bar, it is crucial to first […]]]> types of barbells

There are numerous types of barbells designed to be used in multiple different ways depending on the lifter’s goal. Whether you’re using barbells for compound movements like squats or isolation exercises like preacher curls.

Different types of barbells are suited for different types of lifts. To choose the perfect bar, it is crucial to first match one’s training goal with a specific style of lifting. Physique and level of experience should also be considered.

The different types of barbells cater to different styles of lifting for weight and strength training (bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Olympic weightlifting). Each barbell type also has variations in their features.

Major Styles of Lifting

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is popular both as a recreation and a sport. It simply means to build muscles in order to exhibit highly defined muscular size and shape.

Bodybuilders use different bars to fulfill different goals. To better enhance certain features of their body’s, they need to perform a wider range of exercises. These exercises concentrate on developing smaller muscles in order to achieve a more defined physique.

Powerlifting

The sport of powerlifting involves three lifts: the deadlift, the bench press, and the squat. Powerlifters use strength training barbells that are much heavier and have longer strips of center knurling for improved grip.

Olympic Weightlifting

Olympic weightlifting, or simply weightlifting, is a sport that incorporates only two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Olympic lifters use barbells that have a larger diameter and rotating sleeves on either end which hold weight plates, also referred to as bumper plates.

Main Types of Barbells

Olympic Weightlifting Barbells

Olympic barbells have key features that differentiate them from other types of barbells. An olympic barbell is thinner and more flexible. It includes a mild knurling, a smooth center, snatch marks, and a more expensive bearing.

Since the sport is built on the snatch and the clean and jerk, olympic barbells usually have a thinner diameter (28mm) compared to multipurpose barbells (28.5mm) and powerlifting barbells (29mm). A difference of approximately one millimeter makes a difference to one’s grip strength. This also allows for better shock absorption when being thrown and caught.

A mild knurling helps to prevent the barbell from grazing the lifter’s hands, while a smooth center prevents scraping of the collarbones when the shoulders catch its weight. Olympic barbells also use needle bearings that help the weight plates spin unrestricted at all loads. It also has snatch marks instead of knurling marks.

Powerlifting Barbells

powerlifting barbell

Powerlifting barbells are ultimately used for strength training. It has several unique features that aid in building muscle size and strength. Powerlifting barbells are extra thick and have an aggressive knurling, center knurling, bench press marks, and relatively cheaper bush bearings.

As previously mentioned, a standard power barbell is thicker (29mm) than an Olympic barbell (28mm) and a multipurpose barbell (28.5mm). Its additional thickness makes it more durable and rigid.

Compared to an Olympic barbell which has mild knurling, a power barbell has an aggressive knurling that prevents it from slipping out of one’s hands and a center knurling that prevents it from scraping one’s shin when doing exercises such as deadlifts. The disadvantage is that most people usually find powerlifting barbells uncomfortable due to their rough texture.

Powerlifting barbells also have bench press marks and cheap bush bearings. Unlike Olympic lifters, powerlifters do not have to worry about the weights spinning freely when thrown.

Powerlifting barbells are best for powerlifting and bodybuilding as it aids in strength and hypertrophy training, respectively. Lifters whose goal is to build muscle strength and size are apt to use a powerlifting barbell.

Multipurpose Barbells

Multipurpose barbells are mostly used for weight training. Beginners and intermediate lifters often use multipurpose barbells because they have characteristics that accommodate both bodybuilding and strength training. Multipurpose bars have a medium knurl, a smooth center, medium whip, and standard bushing.

Women’s Barbells

The dimensions of men’s barbells and women’s barbells vary. Women’s barbells are usually 201cm (9.1in) in length, have a diameter of 25mm, and weigh 15kg (33lbs). Men’s barbells on the other hand, are usually 220cm (6.6in) in length, have a diameter of 28-29mm, and weigh 20kg (44lbs).

Contrary to popular belief, these so-called “women’s barbells” are not designed only to cater to women but also to those of smaller stature. It is important to note that choosing a barbell depends not only on the exercises a lifter will be doing, but also their physique and experience level.

Other Specialty Barbells

Specialty barbells are not necessary per se, but they do make lifting more enjoyable for some. They add variety to one’s training, and can be used to target specific areas of the body and help stimulate smaller muscles.

Curl Bars

ez curl bar

Curl bars or EZ curl bars are relatively easier to use (hence the name EZ) and are shorter and lighter than most barbells. Designed to allow for a more comfortable bicep curl, curl bars ease pain in the wrists, elbows and shoulders.

Safety Squat Bars

One of the most beginner-friendly barbells is the safety squat bar. Shoulder pads are attached to the bar, giving more comfort and stability.

Trap Bars

The trap bar, also known as hex bar, is a four-sided bar that one can stand in the middle of. Trap bars are used to diversify the lifter’s deadlift form and progress. These bars are quite expensive, but can take pressure off the lower back.

Swiss Bars

Swiss bars are rectangular-shaped and have multiple grip widths which make it great for isolation exercises. Swiss bars are not used in strength competitions, but they can be used for a variety of exercises.

Features of a Barbell

Whip of the Bar

The “whip” pertains to the ends of the bar that bounces. It occurs as the lifter becomes stationary, but the bar continues to move as the momentum carries. The whip of the bar is useful to lifters when they transition between a clean and a jerk.

Barbell Sleeves

The barbell sleeves determine how much spin the bar will have. The bearings or bushings permit this spin. Bushings have low friction, while bearings offer a faster spin albeit more expensive.

Finish on the Bar and Sleeves

The barbell’s finish has several purposes. Aside from affecting the overall feel of the bar in the hands, the finish also affects the grip and aids in protection against rusting. Bar finishes can be made of bare steel, black oxide, zinc finish, chrome finish, or stainless steel, each with its own pros and cons.

Knurling

The knurling is the crosshatch pattern cut into the barbell that digs on the hand when held. The width and depth of this pattern determines whether a knurling is “mild” or “aggressive.”

Aggressive knurlings aid in heavy lifts. However, the more aggressive the knurling, the more painful it is. Choosing the knurling depends on personal preference.

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Powerlifting vs Weightlifting: What’s the Difference? https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/powerlifting-vs-weightlifting/ https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/powerlifting-vs-weightlifting/#respond Thu, 23 Jul 2020 21:32:26 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=828 Olympic weightliftingMost people often refer to powerlifting and weightlifting as just barbell exercises or barbell sports. These two forms of weightlifting may appear similar, but there is an array of differences between the two in terms of concept and objective and how the body is engaged in performing their encompassing exercises. Powerlifting focuses on attaining maximum […]]]> Olympic weightlifting

Most people often refer to powerlifting and weightlifting as just barbell exercises or barbell sports. These two forms of weightlifting may appear similar, but there is an array of differences between the two in terms of concept and objective and how the body is engaged in performing their encompassing exercises.

Powerlifting focuses on attaining maximum strength when performing one-rep maxes on three core lifts: squats, bench press, and deadlifts. Weightlifting or Olympic Weightlifting, puts an emphasis on technique for two types of lifts: snatches and clean-and-jerk. Both of which both require greater range of motion through full limb extension.

This article will explain the differences between modes of exercises and training in powerlifting and weightlifting and the various requirements to perform the exercises. It will also explain the difference between the two lifting exercises concerning power generation and reaching muscle hypertrophy.

The Differences Between Powerlifting and Weightlifting

powerlifter deadlifting

Modes and Speed of Exercise

Powerlifting and weightlifting vary in the type of exercise and the speed required to perform the exercises. Powerlifting comprises three core strength exercises: squat, bench press, and deadlift. Weightlifting, on the other hand, only has two exercises: the snatch and the clean-and-jerk.

Powerlifters primarily rely on strength to perform the three exercises properly. They perform these exercises on a single plane of motion by lifting the barbell a few feet from its point of origin. Weightlifters, on the other hand, require balance among strength, speed, and flexibility to deliver explosive power to lift the barbell overhead.

Weightlifters are also more flexible than powerlifters because of the range of motion required to perform the two weightlifting exercises. The snatch requires the weightlifter to have enough flexibility to follow-up on the momentum to carry the barbell overhead in one swift motion. The clean-and-jerk also requires flexibility to transition from one phase of the exercise to the other.

Due to the required technique to execute weightlifting exercises properly, missed lifts are more frequent in weightlifting than in powerlifting.

Precision and Technique

woman snatching weight

Greater precision and technique is required to perform weightlifting exercises. While both lifting exercises require triple extension, or the straight alignment of the body before performing the exercises, the subsequent parts of the exercises are very different.

Powerlifters do not have to consider momentum to perform their exercises properly because they’re required to control the movement.

For instance, bouncing the weight off the chest or bouncing at the bottom of a squat would result in a”bad lift.” Powerlifters are told when to lift the weight rather than using momentum to push or pull the weight.

Weightlifters, however, focus on technique and precision to catch the momentum of the barbell efficiently during the first part of the lifting motion. After the first part, they also have to focus on doing the final part, which is overhead extension of the limbs.

Usually, the motion of weightlifting exercises either fails during the first or last part of the exercise. If the barbell weighs significantly more than the weightlifter’s one-rep max or the maximum amount of weight they can carry in a single repetition, the lift almost always fails.

Still, if the barbell weighs only half of the weightlifter’s 1RM, the lift can still fail if the kinetic chains do not activate in the right sequence.

Training

Powerlifting focuses on reaching maximum strength using heavy weights to reach and surpass their 1RM. They typically work out three times a week, with each workout focusing on the foundational exercises of powerlifting, squats, bench press, and deadlifts.

Powerlifters also perform accessory exercises to train weak, stabilizing muscles. The common rep ranges for powerlifters is usually between 4-6 repetitions. This number can also change based on the style of training being used.

Note: Powerlifters often work based on percentages of their 1 rep max. Typically, 5 reps is 85% of your one-rep max.

The rest period in between sets in powerlifting spans from 2 minutes to 5 minutes to facilitate full recovery before performing the next set.

Weightlifting focuses on efficiency of movement. Weightlifting exercises require explosive strength at the beginning of the motion to lift the barbell overhead for snatches.

It also requires similar explosiveness to lift the barbell at shoulder level during a clean-and-jerk, and another explosive motion to lift the barbell overhead for the second phase of the exercise.

Because of the complicated technique to perform weightlifting exercises, the training focuses on perfecting the movement using proper technique. They typically stick to 70-75% of their one-rep max and train 3-6 days per week.

There is also more of an aerobic component to weightlifting than powerlifting because of the faster pace of movement.

Weightlifting routines commonly incorporate exercises like 800-meter runs, kettlebell swings, deadlifts, squats. Despite performing deadlifts and squats, which are powerlifting exercises, the purpose for weightlifters is to increase explosive power rather than reach and surpass their 1RM on a specific lift.

Amount of Power Generated

weightlifter clean and jerk

Despite being called powerlifting, weightlifting produces more force, or power per kilogram of body weight, than powerlifting. Weightlifting produces over 52 watts per kilogram as force when performing snatches and clean-and-jerks, while powerlifting only produces 12 watts per kilogram as force when performing the three core exercises, squats, bench press, and deadlifts.

Weightlifting produces greater power because of the engagement of multiple muscle groups. It engages all the large-fiber muscles in the upper and lower body with great force and speed, which increases overall power generation. Powerlifting, on the other hand, only engages isometric strength, which enhances the maximum amount of power delivered, whereas weightlifting increases the rate of power being generated.

Reaching Hypertrophy

Both weightlifters and powerlifters do not focus on their physique when training. Their primary focus is on performing their respective exercises properly (while remaining in specific weight classes). However, the type of training involved between the two affects their physique due to the activation of muscle hypertrophy.

Powerlifters are generally bigger than weightlifters. Powerlifting builds more body mass than weightlifting because the slow speed of the repetitions puts the muscle under greater tension in a shorter period of time. This allows powerlifters to reach hypertrophy faster than weightlifters. The training in powerlifting is also usually related to increasing their 1RM.

Weightlifters, however, are leaner than powerlifters because weightlifting exercises activate various muscle groups all at once. The lack of isolation exercises in weightlifting, however, does not put enough pressure on the individual muscles for them to reach muscle hypertrophy.

Final Thoughts

Weightlifting and powerlifting vary significantly in the exercises and training required to perform them.

Weightlifting requires mastery of technique to place the barbell overhead, while powerlifting requires increasing maximum strength by reaching and surpassing a 1RM.

Powerlifting is better for building body mass and strength because the longer time under tension allows the muscles to reach hypertrophy.

However, weightlifting is better for overall power generation because it activates the core, upper, and lower body muscles at the same time.

References:

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Dumbbell Squat vs Barbell Squat: What’s the Difference? https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/dumbbell-vs-barbell-squat/ https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/dumbbell-vs-barbell-squat/#respond Sat, 18 Jul 2020 02:38:16 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=817 dumbbell vs barbell squatSquats are often an indispensable part of any total-body workout routine. It is a compound exercise that affects multiple muscle groups, particularly the core and the lower body. While both dumbbell and barbell squats use free weights as resistance, these two forms of squats target different parts of the body and improve different aspects of […]]]> dumbbell vs barbell squat

Squats are often an indispensable part of any total-body workout routine. It is a compound exercise that affects multiple muscle groups, particularly the core and the lower body. While both dumbbell and barbell squats use free weights as resistance, these two forms of squats target different parts of the body and improve different aspects of fitness.

The dumbbell squat is best used as isolation exercise for smaller, weaker muscles, while the barbell squat is best used as a compound exercise to target larger muscles of the back, core, and lower body.

Both dumbbell and barbell squats can help achieve greater lower body strength. However, knowing the distinctions between the two forms of squats can help realize which one fits best into your fitness routine.

Dumbbell vs Barbell Squatting: The Differences

Muscle Recruitment and Activation

muscles targeted by squat

Barbell squats and dumbbell squats are equally effective in engaging the core, legs, and gluteal muscles given proper form. Both these workouts can yield significant results through progressive overload.

Dumbbell and barbell squats have different muscle recruitment and activation patterns. Barbell squats engage the entire body while dumbbell squats focus mostly on the core, legs, forearms, and the quads. Dumbbell squats also engage the lats and traps better than barbell squats.

Dumbbell squats engage smaller, secondary, and weak stabilizing muscles in the shoulders, hips, and glutes such as the rotator cuffs, rear delts, piriformis, and gluteus minimus, which improve balance as well as the overall conditioning of the lower body.

Barbell squats, on the other hand, engage mostly large muscles in the legs and back, which allows you to lift heavier weights than dumbbell squats.

Dumbbell squats recruit more muscles than barbell squats, however these muscles do not reach hypertrophy better nor faster than barbell squats.

The advantage of barbell squats is that it allows you to reach hypertrophy quickly through explosive movements under heavier loads.

Unilateral vs Bilateral Movement

dumbbell squatting

Dumbbell and barbell squats also differ in terms of lateral engagement of the body. Barbell squats involve bilateral movement, which means both sides of the body are engaged during the exercise. Dumbbell squats, on the other hand, can employ both bilateral and unilateral engagement through variations in form.

During barbell squats, the barbell’s weight is distributed evenly across the frame of the body. This ensures better stability during squats and allows you to solely target the leg muscles.

Barbell squats are categorized as compound exercise that targets most of the large muscles in the body, especially in the legs.

Dumbbell squats are more flexible and can target specific parts of the body. Its unilateral advantage over barbell squats allows training of one side at a time. This facilitates better muscle growth, especially in the gluteus medius region.

Dumbbell squats are also best used for corrective exercises that target muscular imbalances due to over-reliance on compound exercises. Isolation exercise through various forms of the dumbbell squats allows targeting and training of the smaller muscles in the body.

Range of Motion

Range of motion involves the extent of movement, particularly in an exercise, which affects the extent of expansion and contraction of the muscles. In the threshold of range of motion, body-weight exercises provide the best range of motion while machine-assisted workouts restrict range of motion.

In terms of squats, dumbbell squats lie more towards body-weight exercises in terms of range of motion. Dumbbell squats enable full scope of movement and better fluidity in executing variations of the exercise. While dumbbell squats require greater stability, there is a lesser chance of injury because it engages the various stabilizing muscles to ensure safe performance of the exercise.

Barbell squats, on the other hand, are more like machine-assisted workouts in terms of range of motion. This type of squats often requires a squat rack to safely lodge the barbell after every set to prevent spinal injury. Despite the reduced range of motion, barbell squats require strength to do the exercise with good form.

Variety of Exercises

goblet squat form

The reduced range of motion allows only two main modes of barbell squats in the form of front squats and back squats, which target the anterior and posterior chain, respectively. The front squats target the core and the quads, while the back squats target the back and gluteal muscles as well as the hips.

Dumbbell squats, on the other hand, have several varieties, and there is more room to adjust and experiment because of the unrestricted range of motion. Goblet squats, sumo squats, and dumbbell front squats are some of the varieties of dumbbell squats that fine tune the exercise to target certain parts of the body. These dumbbell squat positions place one or two dumbbells in various positions as resistance to the body.

Dumbbell squats can also target the same anterior and posterior chain as barbell squats. Various positions of the dumbbell squats can also target the knee or the hips depending on the positioning of the torso, which is also essential to reach hypertrophy.

Dumbbell squats can also increase power and strength through low-repetition and explosive dumbbell jump squats. Similar to barbell squats, the focus of low-repetition dumbbell jump squats is to engage the lower body muscles in a high-quality and high-intensity workout. Dumbbell jump squats can increase vertical leap because it allows jumping with added free-weight resistance, which is not possible with a barbell.

Use as a Corrective Exercise

Barbell squats are better than dumbbell squats in terms of stability and ability to focus the training on the large, dominant muscles of the body.

Dumbbells squats, however, have an advantage in using and training neglected stabilizing muscles through unilateral movements.

It is common to have a more dominant side of the body, and barbell squats exacerbate this dependency on the dominant side to fill the lack of power on the inferior side.  This often goes unrecognized until lifters engage in unilateral exercises.

A dumbbell squat can be used as a corrective exercise to determine the inferior part of the body and can be used to develop and train these weaker muscles.

Through consistent unilateral training, an individual can correct the strength imbalances in the body and build more muscular symmetry. Strengthening the inferior side through unilateral training using several varieties of dumbbell squats can even help raise performance in barbell squats, allowing heavier lifts.

Strength vs Symmetry

Barbells squats are undeniably better than dumbbell squats in building lower body strength and power. The heavier weights in barbell squats greatly improve overall leg strength, including the knees and lower back. It also allows a gradual increase in weights for a more progressive overloading.

Dumbbell squats, on the other hand, cannot give the same strength and power improvement from barbell squats. Doing dumbbell squats using two 150 pound barbells on both hands will not yield the same benefits as doing barbell squats on a 300-pound barbell. It is also dangerous and can cause a tear on the shoulder’s rotator cuffs.

However, consistent unilateral training through varieties of dumbbell squats can build more symmetrical musculature. Dumbbell squats can also improve balance by taking advantage of the wide range of motion to strengthen stabilizing muscles. Dumbbell squats and its varieties in form make effective compound and isolation workout exercises.

Final Thoughts

While squats, in general, improve lower body strength, the distinct features of dumbbell and barbell squats provide different incentives that can be used separately or in an integrated manner depending on the fitness plan.

These two forms of squats complement one another and can fit well together in any fitness routine. Barbells squats can increase overall strength while dumbbell squats can fine-tune stabilizing muscles for better squat performance.

References:

https://www.oldschoollabs.com/barbells-vs-dumbbells/

https://www.onnit.com/academy/barbells-vs-dumbbells/

https://caliberstrong.com/blog/barbell-vs-dumbbell/

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10 Fun Sober Group Activities to Aid in Recovery https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/sober-group-activities/ https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/sober-group-activities/#respond Mon, 10 Feb 2020 13:37:47 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=739 people activity funRecovery from alcohol is largely a matter of preventing relapse. For the longest time, you may equate happiness and fun with alcohol. This is far from the truth. Alcohol can overall damage your health and lead you to do things that can harm others and yourself. The many benefits of being sober, however difficult, is […]]]> people activity fun

Recovery from alcohol is largely a matter of preventing relapse. For the longest time, you may equate happiness and fun with alcohol. This is far from the truth. Alcohol can overall damage your health and lead you to do things that can harm others and yourself. The many benefits of being sober, however difficult, is truly worth striving for.

Sober group activities offer a great way for you to explore the new you. Having clean, positive fun through various group activities allow you to have a rich, meaningful life and fill up the time you used to spend feeding your alcohol addiction.

With that in mind, here are ten fun sober group activities you can enjoy as you walk the path to recovery.

10 Fun Sober Group Activities

  1. Go to an Arcade

Relive the good old school times and invite your friends to head to your local arcade. You won’t get bored when you have plenty of fun game options.

  1. Rejuvenating Spa Day with Friends

Indulge in a pampering massage, paint your nails, have hair and face masks, and just relax with your friends.

  1. Go on a Hike

If you’re near mountains, forests, or national parks, tag your friends along and enjoy mother nature as you head out for a hike. Go easy and feast your eyes with the natural beauty and calmness of nature and enjoy the breath of fresh air.

woman hiking woods

  1. Go Sightseeing

Just dress up and invite your group for sightseeing around your town. You may discover a new store, museum, or restaurant you may want to visit or try out.

  1. Play Board or Card Games

Get a healthy competition brewing with classic board games that are not only fun and entertaining but can also channel out wacky moments and humorous conversations with your loved ones.

  1. Volunteer in Your Community

A lot of organizations in your community can use a helping hand. Volunteering and giving back to your community can give you a sense of purpose and lasting feelings of happiness, and it couldn’t be more fun when you share the activities with your like-minded group of friends.

  1. Organize a Sober Dinner Party

A simple dinner where you and your friends can share a potluck meal can bring out an unlimited dose of fun, and not to mention hearty conversations. Bonus if you actually bring in the ingredients and try out a new recipe with your friends.

  1. Enjoy Outdoor Picnic

Spend quality time with your loved ones or friends in a simple outdoor picnic and capping your day marveling at the sunset over the mountains.

group picnic buildings

  1. Host a Tournament

Get the whole group engaged and have a great time together, playing sports and any games you like. Set up a volleyball net, play basketball, or dodgeball. You get to sweat it all out while having fun and a healthy dose of laughter.

  1. Have a Movie Night

Order pizza or take-out food from your favorite restaurant, chill out with your loved ones and watch a good movie.

While the path to recovery from addiction and rehabilitation is far from easy, simple pleasures like enjoying your town and having a fun dinner with your friends without the looming presence of alcohol can brighten even the most difficult days.

Having good friends by your side and participating in fun, sober activities are crucial in helping you navigate life after addiction. Going through recovery doesn’t mean you have to be alone, and a sober life doesn’t have to equal a boring life.

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Benefits of Being Sober – 7 Ways Life Gets Better When Staying Sober https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/benefits-of-being-sober/ https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/benefits-of-being-sober/#respond Sat, 08 Feb 2020 15:09:21 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=740 man handing alcoholAt the early phase of recovery, it may be difficult to imagine yourself being completely free from alcohol addiction and actually “enjoying” life. But, realize that you are not alone. Without a doubt, you can be sober and, at the same time, happy – even if right now, you’ll think it is impossible. It’s no […]]]> man handing alcohol

At the early phase of recovery, it may be difficult to imagine yourself being completely free from alcohol addiction and actually “enjoying” life.

But, realize that you are not alone. Without a doubt, you can be sober and, at the same time, happy – even if right now, you’ll think it is impossible.

It’s no secret that being sober has many advantages compared to when a person is a slave to alcohol addiction.

But if you need a gentle reminder of why being sober is better, here, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of being sober:

The Benefits of Being Sober

Rally Point Palm Beach recovery center helps shed some light on these benefits and  things you should look forward to after recovery.

  1. Improved Health

It’s a no-brainer that alcohol does more harm than good to your body. Alcohol abuse can damage your internal body organs, impair your immune system, and increase your risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

The moment you stay away from alcohol and embrace a healthy lifestyle, your weight will slowly decrease, and your blood pressure and overall physical well-being will improve.

man healthy handstand

  1. Anxiety and Depression

Consuming too much alcohol can do as much harm to your emotional and mental well-being as it does to your body physically. Many individuals fall into the trap of thinking that alcohol is a crutch – that is to escape from negative emotions, numb the pain, or cope up with stress.

But the truth is, the effects of alcohol are all short-lived. Alcohol doesn’t, and will not solve the underlying issues. It can only cloud your thinking and this in turn only worsens anxiety and depression. When you let go of your alcohol addiction, you will find that your anxiety decreases, you’ll have a clearer mind, and you will have a more positive outlook in life.

  1. Better Quality of Sleep

Alcohol robs you of the ability to experience deep, and quality sleep needed to keep you well-rested the following day. Once you commit to a sober life, you’ll have a longer and deeper sleep, which is what our body needs.

quality sleep woman

  1. You’ll Save Money

When you are a slave to alcohol, you’re literally throwing money down the drain. Think about how much you spend daily to finance your addiction, not to mention the unnecessary expenses you make under the influence, or money you spend on medicines to treat headache or upset stomach and other undesired hangover effects. You’ll be surprised about how much money you can save when you finally say goodbye to your alcohol addiction.

  1. You’ll Look and Feel Great

You may not realize it, but the impacts of grappling with alcohol will be obvious in your appearance. Too much alcohol can make your skin dry and dull and make you look older. All the calories from the beer and the junk food you eat while drunk can make your weight balloon. In the long term, being sober is one of the best things you can do for your waistline, as well as to look and feel young for as long as possible.

woman happy fit

  1. Restore Relationships That Matter

When you are a slave to alcohol, it does not just cost you money. More importantly, it can cost your relationship. Being alcohol-free allows you to be fully present for your family and people who matter to you the most. It’s not too late to mend relationships and restore broken family ties, and it starts with your commitment to living a life in sobriety.

  1. Your Memory Improves and Feel More Energized

Excessive alcohol intake can damage your brain, resulting in memory problems. Over time, when you stay sober, you’ll improve your memory and get that mental clarity back again. In the same way, when a person embraces sobriety, one of the best benefits is increased energy levels, thus, enhancing productivity.

If you are new to this whole challenge of staying sober and are struggling with the idea of never drinking again – that’s totally fine! Everybody goes through different experiences on the path to recovery. However, life really does get WAY BETTER the moment you free yourself from addiction, and commit to a healthy and 100% alcohol-free living.

 

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Understanding Body Mass Index for Athletes https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/body-mass-index-for-athletes/ https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/body-mass-index-for-athletes/#respond Wed, 29 Jan 2020 13:36:06 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=724 football athleteCalculating Body Mass Index for Athletic Individuals BMI or Body Mass Index utilizes a simple formula that calculates the link between your height and weight. By using the equation, you will be able to see if you are within range of what is considered as your ideal weight. While this is a great tool, it’s […]]]> football athlete

Calculating Body Mass Index for Athletic Individuals

BMI or Body Mass Index utilizes a simple formula that calculates the link between your height and weight. By using the equation, you will be able to see if you are within range of what is considered as your ideal weight. While this is a great tool, it’s not always the case for people who are physically active, buff, or athletic. Measuring BMI alone may reveal inaccurate results since athletes have more muscle mass as compared to average people.

A healthy BMI would be 18.5 – 24.9. If you fall lower than 18.5, you’re considered underweight. Those who are within the 25 – 29.9 range are categorized as being overweight, while those who have 29.9 or higher are classified as obese. But take note that this categorization applies to the average people and not athletic ones. Those who are physically active and are inclined to sports tend to have a larger scale as compared to typical individuals.

Checking Body Composition for Further Assessment

runner sunset bmi

Compared to general individuals, athletic people are known to have a lower body fat percentage. Male athletes, in particular, have lesser body fat composition compared to women. For males, the average body fat percentage is 18 – 24 percent (6 – 13 percent for athletes). When it comes to women, the range is 25 – 31 percent (14 – 20 percent for female athletes).

Knowing the difference between your BMI and body fat percentage can offer you a clearer health perspective. You can get an estimate of body fat by utilizing special scales or checking it with a fitness pro by using body calipers designed for measurement. More accurate techniques, such as DEXA scans or underwater weighing, can also be done by healthcare professionals.

The Role of Waist Circumference

Varying types of body fat yield different implications. Those that are within your abdominal walls or surround your organs are considered more hazardous compared to others. If your waist circumference is higher than 40 inches (males) or 35 inches (females), this indicates a high risk for chronic diseases. If you have a muscular body built, you aren’t necessarily safe from this. It is advised that you utilize a tape measure to determine your waist circumference just above the hip bones. By regularly checking this, you will be able to see if you are still within the ideal range.

Further Blood Tests

athlete training muscle

If you have an athletic built, you aren’t exactly a hundred percent safe from certain health risks. Athletes may look fit on the outside but are still considered at risk. Bodyweight isn’t the sole risk factor for chronic diseases and metabolic illnesses. Factors like your family history come into play. A qualified physician may order blood tests to measure your glucose, cholesterol levels, or blood lipids to verify your level of health. Additionally, these tests will help in the overall assessment of your health.

Final Thoughts

BMI or Body Mass Index should not be used as the primary basis for your health, even if you are a highly active individual. Instead, the collection of recommended measurements like waist circumference and body fat percentage and inclusion of necessary blood tests will paint a more detailed picture of your fitness level.

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Body Mass Index and Body Fat Percentage – Their Relationship https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/body-fat-percentage-vs-bmi/ https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/body-fat-percentage-vs-bmi/#respond Sun, 26 Jan 2020 13:36:08 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=723 weighing scale bmiBody Mass Index and Body Fat Percentage are two methods to measure your body’s level of fitness. Though lots of individuals tend to interchange them, both should be used for entirely different situations or phases in your journey to a healthier self. Getting a broader and more precise understanding of each will allow you to […]]]> weighing scale bmi

Body Mass Index and Body Fat Percentage are two methods to measure your body’s level of fitness. Though lots of individuals tend to interchange them, both should be used for entirely different situations or phases in your journey to a healthier self. Getting a broader and more precise understanding of each will allow you to track your progress with accuracy and ease.

Understanding Body Mass Index or BMI

To get your Body Mass Index (BMI), you will need to measure weight and height and correlate it to a standard chart that’s created by experts. Physicians commonly use BMI as a fast way to determine if one is underweight, within the ideal weight range, overweight, or obese.

exercise woman health

To find out what your BMI is, you should convert your weight into pounds and multiply this by 703. Next, divide this with your height in inches squared (height in inches x height in inches). The given guidelines are as follows: 18.5 below (underweight), 18.5 to 24.9 (normal), 25.0 to 29.9 (overweight), 30.0 and above (obese). While this method is often used, it does have its disadvantage—it is not invented to measure how much your muscle and fat weight is.

If you are, for instance, an athletic individual, you will be more substantial in terms of muscle mass compared to an average individual. If this is the case, BMI might not be as accurate when you want to check your fitness and health. People who are physically active or are inclined to sports have higher BMI scales.

The Role of Measuring Body Fat Percentage

man weighing bmi

When other factors could influence an individual’s BMI significantly, Body Fat Percentage is introduced to the situation. By getting a person’s Body Fat Percentage, one will be able to determine what percentage of their body is composed of fat. By doing this, the person will see a more accurate and more precise picture of their level of fitness, especially for athletes.

To be able to ascertain your ideal Body Fat Percentage, use this formula: (120 x BMI) divided by (0.23 x Age). Use the reference below as your guideline for assessing your Body Fat Percentage.

  • Men: 2 – 4 percent (essential fat); 6 – 13 (athlete category); 14 – 17 (fit); 18 – 25 (acceptable), 25 percent above (obese)
  • Women: 10 – 12 percent (essential fat); 14 – 20 percent (athelete category); 21 – 24 (fit); 25 – 31 percent (acceptable); 32 percent above (obese)

Besides this, we recommend you have a look at this body fat calculator at gigacalculator.com for simpler and faster results.

The Combination of Both BMI and Body Fat Percentage

woman measuring bmr

Gathering your BMI and Body Fat Percentage and comparing both to your lifestyle habits can be a surefire way to measure your level of fitness and your progress. Some people also claim that the trick to getting visible abs is to maintain a Body Fat Percentage within the athlete category. By carefully comparing the two tools to each other and correlating them to your eating and lifestyle habits, you’ll be able to see a richer picture of your fitness state.

Closing Thoughts

If you are starting with your fitness journey, then it is suggested that you use your BMI to check your progress. As you level up your workout routine and lose more weight, you should gradually shift to measuring your Body Fat Percentage instead. In the long haul, measuring your Body Fat Percentage is believed to be the most accurate and preferred gauge for tracking fitness progress.

 

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Glute Activation Exercises for Injury Prevention https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/glute-activation-exercises/ Tue, 01 Oct 2019 04:39:23 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=121 glute exercisesWhat exactly is glute activation, and why is it important? For starters, your glutes are the biggest group of muscles on your entire body. They are quite important as they allow you to rotate, abduct, and extend the hip which makes them critical for movement. Glute activation is necessary as many people have weak glute […]]]> glute exercises

What exactly is glute activation, and why is it important?

For starters, your glutes are the biggest group of muscles on your entire body. They are quite important as they allow you to rotate, abduct, and extend the hip which makes them critical for movement.

Glute activation is necessary as many people have weak glute muscles. These muscles often remain dormant because of a sedentary lifestyle. These days most jobs have people sitting down to work. As a result their glutes become weak and other muscles compensate.

Glute activation is necessary because of their dormant state. Getting your glutes to wake up means that they’ll be used during physical activity. The goal when working out is a mind-body connection that can be transferred into your workout.

Glute Activation Exercises

Glute Bridge

A glute bridge can be done as a body-weight exercise or with added weight.

How to perform a glute bridge:

  1. Get a yoga mat and lay your head and shoulders flat on the mat.
  2. Let your arms lay parallel to your torso.
  3. Lift your hips by using the power of your glutes.
  4. Let your glutes do all the work and don’t hyper-extend your lower back. Focus on squeezing your glutes at the top of the range of motion.
  5. Remain in this position for 5 seconds and repeat.

Posterior Planks

Posterior planks are great for your glutes, as well as your chest and hips . It is a form of static stretching that you can perform after your regular workout. It can be a bit challenging compared to the glute bridge, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

How to perform a posterior plank:

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you while your hands are placed firmly on the ground behind your butt.
  2. Ensure that your fingertips are pointing toward your butt or to the side.
  3. Lift your glutes off the ground and hold the position as long as you can.

If you’re a beginner to this exercise, it’s perfectly normal to only be able to hold the position for 5-10 seconds. Pain can also be felt in other areas like your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, etc. This is completely normal when doing this exercise. 

If you’re having trouble doing this exercise you can try to focus on pushing through your hands and heels which will force your hips and glutes off the ground. If you’re still having trouble, try to bend your knees a little so as to assist your glutes. Strive for performing the plank with good form as this stretch takes some time to learn. 

Clams

Commonly known as “resistance band glute activation exercise,” clams is another glute activation exercise that can do wonders not only for your glutes but also for other parts of your body.

Clams help with relieving hip injuries and lower back pain while toning your glutes at the same time. Clams can also be done at home or in a gym. 

How to perform clams:

  1. Put the band a bit below or above your knees and lie down on your side, propped up on your forearm. Ensure your head and forearm are neutral.
  2. Place your feet together stacking them on top of each other.
  3. Slightly bend your knees and slowly lift your top knee while keeping your feet together.

This exercise can be quite difficult at first. It’s easy to cheat by rocking the body back and forth when you open your legs. Don’t give up though! Focus on squeezing your glutes as you raise your knee.

Monster Steps

Last but not least, we have monster steps. It’s a fun exercise that’ll activate your glutes quickly.

How to perform monster steps:

  1. Place the resistance band around both of your legs.
  2. Make your first “monster step” forward and out to the side while only using one foot.
  3. Do the same with the other foot.
  4. Keep stepping and repeat if necessary.

When we say monster, we mean MONSTER steps. Imagine you’re a yeti in Nepal wandering around for lost adventurers to eat. Sick of going forward or out of room? Go backward to switch things up.

If you’re having trouble, put the resistance bands higher, and go lower as you become stronger. you can even go as far as your ankles. 

Performing a Glute Activation Test

Now that you’re done performing the exercises above, it’s time to test if your glutes are activated. Glute activation is essential before performing heavy lifts like a one rep max or a 5×5 routine.

Here’s how to perform the test:

  • Lay flat on a table.
  • With a partner pushing their fingers into your glutes, contract your glutes. 
    • If the fingers are pressed out then you pass the test.
    • If there is no finger movement and the quadriceps contract instead, the test fails.
  • The next thing to test is the strength of the hamstrings and the glutes. 
  • Have a partner press their fingers into your glutes and your hamstrings at the same time. 
  • Then raise the leg in question. The partner will be able to identify which muscle activates first. 
    • If it’s the glutes the test passes. 
    • If it’s the hamstring the test fails. You need to strengthen your glutes more.

Conclusion

Now you can see why the glutes have so much power. They’re a large muscle that’s largely under-worked. Whether you’re a competitive weight lifter, bodybuilder, or average Joe, the glutes are essential for preventing injury. Glute activation makes you a stronger competitor and keeps you safe in the gym.

Sources:

Featured image Eric Astrauskas credit shared under CC BY 2.0

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When to Lift More Weight: Smash Your Plateaus! https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/when-to-lift-more-weight/ Sun, 01 Sep 2019 04:31:57 +0000 https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/?p=101 lifting more weightYou’ve been lifting weights for a while and you’re not seeing any changes to your body. Your muscles aren’t growing and the movements you do every day are becoming easy. The answer is one of two things: You’ve hit a plateau or you’re not lifting enough weight. Your body works to adapt to stress and […]]]> lifting more weight

You’ve been lifting weights for a while and you’re not seeing any changes to your body. Your muscles aren’t growing and the movements you do every day are becoming easy.

The answer is one of two things: You’ve hit a plateau or you’re not lifting enough weight.

Your body works to adapt to stress and when the same stress is continually applied it needs to be challenged. This is usually solved by lifting heavier weight.

Things to Know When Lifting Heavier Weight

Let’s clear the air: You’re not going to reach your goals overnight.

While some folks love to hear that increasing your work capacity will get you stronger and more muscular, not everyone wants this outcome, especially women. Truth be told, this won’t happen.

Think of a Bodybuilder who spend lots, and I mean LOTS of time, money, and effort to create their physique. Women don’t have the hormones that allow them to pack on this type of muscle. However increasing weight will allow them to increase their lean body mass and trim fat.

Most men are also limited by their genetics. Have you ever wondered why only a small portion of the population are bodybuilders? Do the math.

Lifting heavier weights is a great way to challenge the body by adding a new stressor to adapt to. You can do this by either increasing weight, adjusting your repetition format, or changing your exercises. 

The Game Plan for Increasing Weight

gym weights

1. Start Slow

The first thing to do is determine a basis. If you’ve done an exercise for a while, you’ll have a good baseline for what you can lift. Adding 10-20 lbs to the lift will make it tougher. 

However if you plan to adjust your routine and do an exercise you’ve never done before then start slow. For instance if you think you can row a 50 lb dumbbell, start by first rowing half the weight for a few reps and determine how you felt. If you felt fine, increase the weight gradually to a 35. 

As long as you’re able to perform the exercise with proper form, keep increasing weight. Once you find a weight that feels challenging but you’re still able to practice good form, use that weight for your first set. 

Note: This gradual work-up is great way to warm-up. If you don’t already do this, add it to your arsenal as a way to prevent injuries. 

2. Determining When to Add More Weight

If you regularly use barbells and dumbbells, the question will soon become when to add more weight. 

Start by looking at the speed of the lift and how tired you feel after you complete your sets. If your last set and reps are slow and exhaustive then it’s a good indicator that you’re using the correct weight.

If you complete your last reps at the same speed as your first then you can likely go heavier. 

3. Determining How Much Weight to Add

When it comes time to add weight, it doesn’t mean you have to make huge jumps. However if you want to become stronger you can’t expect to use the same weight week after week.

Usually increases of even 2-3% or 5 lbs of the previous routines routine is more than enough to cause stress on the body. The goal is to find a healthy balance between challenging yourself and listening to your body’s limit.

Conclusion

There comes a point where performing higher rep ranges at a lighter weight becomes more of a cardiovascular workout than strength training. For example: the only thing you become good at when lifting 135 lbs 100 times is lifting 135 lbs 100 times. 

If you’re looking to become stronger, following the advice above is a great way to start. Remember, increase weight gradually and listen to your body.

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