Bench training

You lie on it, you lift on it and you sweat on it.  The humble weight bench takes a real beating. Without the bench, there would be no bench press or excessive grunting.

However, it’s time to see the bench in a completely different light.The bench is a tool you can use to improve your power, balance and core strength without the need for any extra equipment. Just you and the bench equals great total body training.

After doing this, you’ll never look at the bench the same way again.

Instructions

Complete the following as a circuit. Rest as little as possible between exercises and 60-90 seconds at the end of each circuit. Do a total of four rounds.

1. Squat Jumps (8-12 reps) – Lower down into a squat with hips hovering just above the bench. Hold for four seconds, jump explosively and immediately lower down into the next rep.

2. Incline plyometric push –ups (8-12 repetitions) – Get in a pushup position with your hands on the bench. Lower down and explode up until hands leave the bench. Land softly and repeat.

3. Birddogs (8-12 reps) – With hands and knees on the bench (straight spine for head to butt), extend the left arm and right leg, and then right arm, left leg. Keep alternating sides until all your reps are completed.

4. Step up to Reverse lunge (8-12 reps) – Step up with left leg, driving the right knee towards the ceiling. Then put right foot on the floor and step back into a reverse lunge with the left leg. Do all your reps on one side then repeat on the other side.

5. Elevated side plank (20 seconds on each side) – With your elbow underneath your shoulder and feet stacked on the bench, elevate into a side plank. Drive your elbow down and keep your hip up to maintain good position.

 

Wrapping up

You don’t always need a lot of equipment to become balanced and powerful.  You, the bench and a little sweat equity will get the job done without fuss or fanfare.

The best exercise you’re not doing

This is a weekly series on exercise that will give you the biggest bang for your exercise buck in and out of the gym. Today’s exercise is crocodile breathing.
 
You should do this because- when we’re stressed or under pressure, we take short sharp breathes and this taxes our accessory breathing muscles. This exercise will help you focus on where you’re meant to breathe.
Makes your everyday life easier because– deep breathing helps relax your body and can wind you down if you’re wound up.
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Form tips – I like to place my hands underneath my forehead for comfort but that’s up to you. Do 6 breathes like this daily and do this before every workout.

Exercise for busy people………

The public thinks fitness professionals are in great shape because of our workplace. That’s not the only reason, but it does play a part. However, the best part of working in a gym is that we get to wear tracksuit pants.

Beats the suit and tie every time.

The public assumes fitness professionals are ripped because they’ve got all the time in the world to workout. No, that’s not it either.

After we have taken care of our clients and other day to day dramas, we have the same amount of time/energy to devote to exercise as you do.

Then how do fitness professionals stay in shape?

By staying consistent. Big secret, right?

You were probably thinking we had some type of shortcut or secret code.  I wish that was the case because there are times when I couldn’t give two hoots about working out.

When I don’t have the time, effort or motivation to pick up and put down a barbell I use the bare minimum trainings below. Because doing something is always better than doing nothing.

This will allow you to crush that bowl of ice cream you’ve been craving, guilt free. Only if it’s one, though. Anymore than that and you’re on your own.

Ice cream

1. 100 kettlebell swings a day

 

Kettlebells incinerate fat and cover a lot of your fitness bases. The offset nature of the kettlebell trains your grip, core and lungs with some extra oomph. 100 swings aren’t a magic number, just a good start. You can do more if you wish.

You can break 100 reps up as follows

  • 4 sets of 25 reps
  • 10 sets of 10 reps
  • 5 sets of 20 reps
  • 2 sets of 50 reps

And you don’t have to do this all at once. You can space it throughout your day if you wish. If you don’t have access to a kettlebell or you’re unsure on how to swing, do bodyweight swings instead.

2. 100 body weight squats and 50 push ups

The beauty of this workout is it can be done almost anywhere. The act of getting up and down from alternating between the push up and the squat will send your heart rate soaring and work on your strength and mobility also.

A win-win situation for your waistline.

Push ups

Incline push ups

Body weight squats

You can break this up into manageable chunks. For example

  • 5 push-ups/10 squats x 10 sets
  • 10 push-ups/20 squats x 5 sets
  • Or if you’re advanced, 25 push-ups/50 squats x 2 sets

You don’t have to do this all at once and can spread it throughout your day if you need to. You can substitute swings in for squats also.

3. Quick bodyweight cardio

When your access to cardio equipment is limited or you lack the time for a traditional cardio workout, use the perfect machine – your own body.  The routines below are short, sweet and effective.

APunisher squats – 20 seconds of bodyweight squats followed by a 10 second squat hold. Repeat this sequence 6-8 times.

B. Do 2 minute walk/warm up, then do 15 seconds of a bodyweight exercise (Jumping jacks, running in place or high knees) all out followed by 15 seconds of rest. Repeat this cycle for five work/rest intervals and then walk for 2-3 minutes to cool down.

C. Do a two-minute walk/warm up, then a 15 second all out sprint followed by 15 seconds of rest. Repeat this cycle for five work/rest intervals and then walk for 2-3 minutes to cool down.

These workouts take less than 10 minutes and will leave you feeling sweaty and satisfied.

4. Resistance training circuits

Grouping 3 exercises back to back with limited rest will give you a great workout in a short period when you’re crunched for time. Select a weight that allows you to complete all the repetitions with good form.

Gym training 1

1A. Pushups 10 reps (Can be done on knees or on an incline surface)

1B. Inverted rows 10 reps

1C. Kettle bell swings -20 reps

Rest one minute after each circuit and do 4 circuits.

Gym Training 2

1A. Dumbbell shoulder press 10 reps

1B. Dumbbell bent over row 10 reps

1C. Goblet squats 20 reps

Rest one minute after each circuit and do 4 circuits.

Or if you don’t have to time to go to the gym or no access to equipment try this circuit instead.

Bodyweight circuit

1A. Pushups – 10 reps

1B. Side planks- 15 seconds each side

1C. Bodyweight squats 20 reps

Rest one min after each circuit and do 4 circuits.

Wrapping up

There are times when we have no time, energy or the motivation to workout. Rather than doing nothing, crushing a short, sharp and effective workout will keep you on the fitness straight and narrow.

Afterwards, that ice cream will taste delicious.

Please have sprinkles on top because sprinkles are for winners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best exercise you’re not doing

This is a weekly series on exercise that will give you the biggest bang for your exercise buck in and out of the gym. Today’s exercise is lacrosse ball foot roll.
You should do this because– we receive a lot of feedback from our feet and if something is amiss, this can effect the rest of the body.
 
Makes your everyday life easier because- we are on our feet a lot and they take a beating. You could say this gives you happy feet. 🙂
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Form tips – Watch the video. Please do this once per day. If your balance is wonky, hold on to something for support.

Finding your why

I haven’t always been a beacon of health.  A long time ago, in a land far, far away I smoked cigarettes and pot, drank to excess and took pills. There were the happy pills and the ones that wiped my memory for days.

Reality

I was in my early twenties following the lead of the cool kids who I knew who took drugs. If I were to go back in time and analyze myself, I was trying to escape reality due to the fact that, at that time, my reality sucked.

My father had just died from stomach cancer.

Deservedly I was fired from my job and was receiving unemployment benefits.

I’d dropped out of college because it seemed a waste of time and copped a lot of shit from my college buddies for doing so.

My living situation got that bad that for a time I was homeless.

To top things off, my mother informed me that after she had gotten a divorce from my father, she tried to take her own life.

This was a lot to take in and I couldn’t handle it. Drugs and alcohol were the security blanket I snuggled into during stretches of cold, pointless days and nights.

It was easy to feel sorry for myself and point the finger at everyone but the wreck of a man in the mirror.

Fortunately, I was surrounded by a few friends and family who stuck with me. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be.

I eventually crawled out of the bottle. A few times I tried and failed to get my life back on track.  But in 1996, I got a real wake up call.

My college buddies had graduated and decided that before joining the nine to five rat race, they would travel around the world and party like it was 1999. I saw them off at the airport and was incredibly jealous.

This set a fire underneath my butt.

fire

Within a few months, I got a full-time job, an apartment and started putting money away for my own overseas trip. It wasn’t always smooth sailing. Within eighteen months I was on a plane travelling to Indonesia and then to the United Kingdom.

I won’t bore you with the intimate details of my trip but this life changing experience was when I met the woman of my dreams.

Within two years of our eyes meeting, I walked down the aisle in Dallas, Texas in the good old U S of A and she put a ring on my finger. I felt like the luckiest man in the world.

lucky

By that stage, I’d traded cigarettes (she hated them), pot and pills for a far more comforting security blanket. Back in Australia, I’d left behind my dream of becoming a sports commentator and was faced with the decision of……..

                                            “What am I going to do for a living?”

Lucky for me, I started to join the dots.

I didn’t have a Green Card and couldn’t work, to kill time I became a regular at the local YMCA.  I’d been lifting weights on and off for the better part of ten years. I found it a great way to blow off steam plus there was the benefit of being able to eat guilt free burgers.

I was following routines out of magazines and books.  I thought I could write my own. I began to dabble in writing workouts.  I was also giving workout advice to fellow gym goers when they asked.

A few years and I had two baby boys who were about to start preschool and the same decision was staring me down. What the heck am I going to do for a living?

When I took stock of my life and I came up with this:

  • I like to work out
  • I like to tell people what to do (dangerous territory when you’re married)
  • I like to write exercise programs
  • I like to live in tracksuit pants
  • I am addicted to coffee
  • I want to keep getting better
  • I want to keep up with my kids

Once I combined these ingredients I could see this was a recipe for a career in the fitness industry.  My passion was lifting weights, getting better and helping people to become better.

Wearing tracksuits pants was the icing on a very delicious cake.

cake

I’d found my why.

Have you found yours?

 

 

The best exercise you’re not doing…….

This is a weekly series on exercise that will give you the biggest bang for your exercise buck in and out of the gym. Today’s exercise is the band supported leg lowering.
You should do this because- it helps lengthen those hips and hamstrings that can get ‘tight’ from too much sitting. This is the perfect warm up exercise for squats and deadlifts too.
 
Makes your everyday life easier because- Helps even up strength imbalances that exist between our left and right legs due to activities of daily living. Oh, and it feels great also.
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Form tips – Watch the video (thanks to Molly Galbraith)Keep the band tight, legs straight and breathe out as you lower the leg towards the floor. Do 10 reps on each leg.

Must do core exercises

When someone performs a crunch poorly, I shed a tear. Well maybe not, but I do get upset.

You may have seen “that” person who walks into a gym, a little lost, a little bamboozled but with every intention of getting in shape and getting those six-pack abs.

Armed with knowledge learned from long-ago high school gym teachers, they grab a mat, lie down and start yanking their necks up and down like they’re having some kind of seizure.

Please call 911.

911

According to Men’s Health it takes almost 22,000 basic abdominal crunches to burn a pound of fat from your mid-section. Don’t know about you, but who has time for that? The correct answer is not you!

There are far more effective ways to get more bang for your core.  Start with these moves for a core that means business.

And please leave the crunches for the monkeys.

Deadbugs

1. Deadbugs

The muscles of your mid-section that you can’t see are equally or more important than the muscles that you can see. The Deadbug works both without yanking your neck.

Incorporate this into your warm up doing one to two sets of six to eight reps on each side.

2. Kneeling med ball rollout

The mid-section is so much more than just your six-pack. Believe it or not, it involves all the muscles from shoulders to hips. This exercise works every single one of them and more. Try it at your own risk.

Do this at the beginning or the end of your training. Do one to two sets of four to six reps for a good time.

3. Half kneeling Pallof press

If you want your core to get stronger, you need to work with resistance. The Pallof press does this and so much more. The half kneeling stance works on your hip mobility and dynamic stability in one fell swoop.

Do this at the beginning of your training, doing one to two sets of 30 seconds on each side.

4. Medicine ball squat toss

More often than not our mid-section has to work dynamically and powerfully so we can run, jump, bend, twist and throw. It’s not just for looks, it must function as well.

The squat toss helps with this, plus you’ll be the coolest person at the gym. Do two to three sets of 6 to 12 explosive repetitions.

Wrapping up

These exercises will have you dominating and turning heads inside the gym. Now get after it, have fun and smile and sweat.