The handstand is such a simple exercise but so frequently left overlooked. This is one that will advance all of your workout goals be them better strength and conditioning or to build bulk and mass. I also love the emphasis that they place on good form and balance. The amount of focus and concentration that you put into these will also help strengthen and activate your core muscles.
When you first start working on your handstand you’ll likely want to do them using the wall to assist with them. It helps take the balance and individual muscle strength converns out of the picture. As you develop better upper body strength they will become easier and you’ll likely begin to feel as though you don’t need the wall.
An incidental benefit of these is the inversion that you experience. Inversion is known to be good for your general circulation and create a very mild euphoric effect as you get more oxygen circulation throughout your body. Particularly in areas that struggle to get oxygen based on the effects of gravity
Work into this exercise slowly as you don’t want to cause any muscle tears
- Begin in a pushup position and walk your feet towards your chest
- Lift first one leg into the air
- Tighten your abdomin press your foot that is still onto the ground down then up into the air with that springlike tension
- As you raise your legs squeeze your core and glutes to support your legs
- Press firmly with your hands and support your core as you flatten your torso and complete the exercise – hold this position for your time
- Come down slowly and repeat, do the exercise smoothly so as to preserve strength and prevent injury
If you struggle with retaining your balance while doing this exercise use the wall more
When you start doing these well begin to do them without the wall and increase your hold times at the upright extended position
When you think cardio, you think of this intense workout when you sweat a lot and your heart rate is super-fast. That whole “No Pain, No Gain” workout. You then go straight into the heavy-duty cardio and start to overheat and get overworked and tired too quickly. Without a warm-up, your body isn’t adjusting to the increase movement, heart-rate and sweating properly. A warm-up is your body’s way of preparing itself to sweat and burn calories. By gradually raising your heart-rate and gradually raising your speed, your body has time to adjust and work harder.
But is a warm-up really that important? Well, yes, it is. By properly warming-up before an intense workout your muscles are able to warm up which is needed for proper fluid actions. Stiff muscles aren’t as flexible so your body need to stretch out to avoid injury. Warm-ups also benefit your heart, instead of jumping into an intense workout causing your heart to race, your heart is able to slowly start to beat faster and pump blood faster. It’s not always good to have your heart race too fast too quickly. Warm-ups are also great to get you mentally in the workout mindset. It’s an easy way to boost your mood and make you feel pumped up!
A few good workouts include the Head and Shoulder Roll, the Arm Circles, the Upper Body Twist, the Knee Lift and simply Walking. Here’s how to simply do these warm-ups.
1. Head and Shoulder Rolls.
This is easy, put your hands on your hips, legs spread slightly apart. Back straight and roll your shoulders up towards your ears then backwards and do this in a circular motion one shoulder at a time which releases tension in the shoulder muscles. Then for the head roll you stand the same way and just roll your head in a circular motion, stretching the neck muscles.
Repeat 15 times.
2. Arm Circles.
In the same position raise your arms outwards and rotate them in full circle like they were propellers. Keep arms straight. Rotating from small to large circles. This stretches and loosens the arms up.
Repeat 10 on each arm clockwise then counter clockwise.
3. Upper Body Twist.
Still standing in the same position, back straight and legs apart. Hold out arms and bend like your about to box. Then with arms outwards twist your torso and hips from the left to the right. With each twist hold it for a few seconds.
Repeat 16 times.
4. Knee Lift.
Again, in this standing position, lift one foot up till your knee is up by your waist. Pause and hold the knee for a few seconds then lower. Repeat with the other knee.
Repeat 10 per leg.
5. Walking/ Marching in Place.
We all know how to walk, this is simple. If you are inside and can’t do much distance walking then march in place. Swinging your arms gently while walking. Every few minutes speeding up.
Repeat for about 15-20 minutes.
We are starting 2018 off right with a 30-Day intense fitness challenge to get you into shape and feeling great! 30 days, 4 workouts to strengthen your core, arms and legs. There’s squats, push-ups, planks and crunches. All workouts that are simple without requiring equipment or access to a gym. This is a no excuse fitness challenge, all you need is an empty space and you’re ready to get fit!
Strength and Conditioning
3-5 Sets of 8-15 Repetitions
Main muscles worked:
Pectorals and Core
Doing strength exercises on a swiss ball is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Not only are you getting the strength or muscle growth that you are looking for with your exercise but you are using your core and all the supporting muscles to your primary muscle group, to support the weights while performing the exercise. Much like using a machine isolates the specific muscle you are trying to work while exercising, doing them in an unstable environment, like on a swiss ball, means that the primary muscle groups supporting muscles have to kick in to help.
For a chest press this means that while you are primarily trying to work the pecs, when you do them on a swiss ball your relying much more heavily on your core (abdominal and back muscles) as well as the tricep, front and rear deltoids to support your chest in completing the repetitions. It’s kinda like a bonus workout in that your working much more than just the pecs and in turn will see the strength and toning gains in all of the muscle groups. This is a great way to hit the smaller oft neglected muscles.
There is only one downside to doing exercises like this and that is you need to work on doing them with excellent form to recognize the benefit. If you do these exercises sloppily you will likely not get the gains in the primary muscle group as the supporting muscles do more of the work. In turn you likely should do these exercises at a lighter weight than your normal dubmbell press
Before starting this routine it is a good idea to do some stretchin on the swiss ball to loosen your core and shoulders up
- Start by lying back on the ball like you are on a bench with the dumbbells in the position shown in the image above
- Ensure that you are in a stable spot with your legs and core supporting you with ease
- Proceed to press the dumbbells up to full arm extension
- Do a consciously slow negative to take advantage of the instability of the swiss ball
- Repeat the motion until you complete your repetition count
If you struggle with retaining your balance while doing this exercise start with lower weight dumbbells
Cardio/ Upper Body
30 seconds work/30seconds rest.
1 minute after full round.
Main muscles worked:
Burn off some holiday calories and sculpt your arms with this battle rope HIIT circuit.
If you’re looking to maximize your time and effort, shed some fat and gain some muscle mass, a HIIT circuit with some resistance training is exactly what you need. I’ve put together a fast paced workout using battle ropes which is a great exercise that offers full body strength straining and cardio all in one.
One of the things that make the battle ropes one of the most simple yet effective pieces of equipment to have in your gym is that you can get a full body workout at any skill/strength level. You can add in a variety of body exercises while using the ropes, i.e. squat press, jumping jacks, reverse lunges, etc., to intensify the circuit according to your fitness level and goals.
This week I put together a simple circuit using the basic battle rope moves at a beginner level, so that anyone who may not have ever tried using battle ropes can complete. If you’re looking for a more intense full body battle rope workout, check back next week for the real battle…
For this circuit, you will need zero to minimal equipment.
Just a set of battle ropes!
Alternating Rope Slams – With a good base stance (feet shoulder width apart, knees bent) and keeping your core tight, alternately raise the rope above your head and slam back to the floor, repeating with the other arm creating a wave with the ropes.
Double Rope Slams – Same as above, using both arms in tandem.
Jumping Jacks – Can be done with or without the battle ropes. If using the battle ropes, hold them in a neutral grip, take a few steps toward the base that the rope is anchored to and give the rope some slack. Complete as a normal jumping jack.
Wave – Similar to the alternating rope slam, however instead of raising the arms all the way up, keep the elbows tucked to the sides of the body, alternately pumping the arms up and down. This puts more emphasis on the biceps.
Double Wave – Same as above, using both arms in tandem.
Add this to the end of your upper body day to completely fatigue your muscles or complete as many rounds as you can (or reduce rest time between rounds) for all out fat burning session.
For more great tips, follow @missfit_lyss on Instagram