3 Things You Need to do More of in the Gym
It’s that time of year again. The gym is packed with people that you haven’t seen since last January and won’t see again after February 1st. All of the cardio machines have lines behind them and the benches are surrounded by groups of five. So what do you do? Well now may be the best time to work on some things that you don’t do nearly enough of (and don’t worry, you won’t likely run in to lines of newbies waiting to do these exercises).
A personal favorite of mine. While there are exceptions to every rule, I feel that everyone should work on pull-ups. We live in a kyphotic society. Starting at an early age nowadays everyone spends their day hunched over a computer, or tablet or, smart phone. Then after sitting like that all day we all go and do “chest day” on Monday, before skipping the gym for the rest of the week.
All of these activities combine to make for that classic rounded shoulder posture that can be observed in the likes of Mr. Burns or The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So what do we do about it? Stop spending so much time worrying about how much you bench and start thinking about how many Pull-ups you can do. Not half pull-ups either, real, dead-hang pull-ups.
To do them correctly, start by hanging with your arms completely straight and an overhand grip. Pull yourself over the bar until your chest touches it., then slowly lower yourself ALL THE WAY DOWN to the starting position (note emphasis on ALL THE WAY DOWN). Do not swing your legs or body at any point throughout the movement. Aim for 3 sets of 10. If you can’t do them with your body weight then use an assisted pull-up machine, and don’t be embarrassed about it, this is where most of us started.
Single Leg Squats
There’s a pretty good chance you’re guilty of skipping leg day, and by pretty good I mean if you miss a day it’s usually leg day. Don’t skip leg day. Actually even better, incorporate some legs into every workout, and one day a week make sure it’s by adding in single leg squats. Single leg squats are an incredible way to challenge your legs without loading your spine. Think of them this way, the muscles in your leg are working as hard as if you were holding your body weight on a bar on your shoulders, and at the same time they’re trying to maintain your balance.
To perform single leg squats, try to observe the same rules as regular squats. Strive for parallel thigh depth, keep your back straight, and keep your heel on the ground. Start off squatting down to a seated position on a bench so you can consistently hit the same depth. Once that gets easy try just touching the bench (without bouncing off of it) rather than sitting on it. As you get better at them you can eliminate the bench altogether.Side Planks
Side planks are awesome. And by awesome I mean most people hate them. But they hate them because they’re great. When you spend all of your time training in the saggital plane as most people do, you tend to neglect the concept of lateral stability, and that’s where the side plank steps in as the king of all core exercises. The side plank will target everything that you neglect during your 8-minute abs routine. It’s especially a great way to engage the obliques and glutes to form a solid all around core.
To start this awesome exercise, lay on your side with your bottom forearm on the ground and your top hand on your hip. Keeping your legs straight and your hips pushed forward, lift your hips until you create a straight line from ankle to shoulder. Don’t allow the top shoulder to roll forward or the hips to drop. Try to hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. If you can’t do them just bend your knees to 90 degrees tucking your feet behind you and create the straight line from knee to shoulder instead.
Steve Zarriello is the owner of Olympia Fitness and Performance, located in Cranston, RI. He has been training clients of all different ages, abilities and backgrounds to help them reach their specific goals for 10 years. His primary focus is on working with golfers to help improve their ability to play the game and keep them pain free.