7 Exercises Fitness Experts Wish You Would Stop Doing

Joining a gym and learning how to take advantage of all the equipment can be tricky at first. After a while, you might feel like an expert. We checked with real experts, trainers, and found the 7 most common mistakes we make at the gym.


CRUNCHES

We all want to have great abs. You work hard to keep them in shape, but they have their risks.

The main problem with crunches is how they affect your spine. To put it simply: it is easy to do crunches wrong. This leads you to overwork other muscles and under work your abs.

It can also be a risk for your spine. If you overcompensate or do too many crunches without also strengthening your back, you will start to wear it out.

Make sure you check with a trainer on how to do crunches properly. It might be better to strengthen your abs with other type of exercises altogether. Especially if  you have a bad back.


THE SEATED-HIP ABDUCTOR (ADDUCTOR) MACHINE

When exercising, it is always important to focus and concentrate on what you are doing. According to our experts, many people don’t pay much attention when using the seated-hip abductor machine. It’s easy to see why: you are sitting down chatting to your friend next to you.

This machine only targets a small group of muscles. Your time could be better spent doing lunges: walking lunges, cross-behind lunges or even step ups. This way you will tone and strengthen  your inner and outer muscles.


BEHIND-THE-NECK LAT PULLDOWN

Certain machines at the gym are for everybody. Others are not. The behind-the-neck lat pulldown is one of the latter.

Because you lower your arms behind your neck, your shoulders need to be very flexible. If they are not, you risk damaging them.

Luckily, there is a simple way to avoid this: turn the behind-the neck lat pulldown to a in-front-of-head lat pulldown. That’s right, simply lower your arms in front of you, not behind. This way, you still work out all the right muscles, but avoid risk of injury.


AMERICAN KETTLEBELL SWINGS

The american kettlebell swing is actually a new version of the russian kettlebell swing.

In the russian variant, the kettlebell is held just below the groin and lifted until your arms form a 90 degree angle with the rest of your body. It is a very effective exercise because it used most muscles in the body. It builds up strength but is also dynamic.

The american way,however, the kettlebell is raised all the way above your head, until you are completely stretched out. If this isn’t done properly, it is easy to injure your back and shoulders because you overcompensate due to the weight and overextend your back.

If you are not sure whether you are doing it correctly, check with an expert. If you cannot or don’t feel comfortable with this exercise, avoid it.


CURLS IN THE SQUAT RACK

Stop. Don’t curl in the squat rack. It is unnecessary.

To put it simply, you can curl anywhere because curl weights are light. The squat rack needs to be used if you are squatting because the weight is higher. It is a safety precaution in case something goes wrong.

If you are doing curls in the squat rack, you are probably irritating everybody else at your gym. Especially the experts. In fact, many trainers have an inside joke about new gym users curling in the squat rack.


THE LEG EXTENSION MACHINE

To really take advantage of the gym, it is as important to know what not to do, as it is to know what to do.

The leg extension machine, our experts say, is one of those examples. It is vital to have your workout routine be as effective and efficient as possible. Including exercises that works on a small group of muscles is never the best choice.

Even worse, if there is a risk of injury, as there is with the leg extension machine, you might be better off just forgetting about it.

The leg extension machine places stress on the back of the kneecap and only works on a few muscles in a very unfamiliar sort of movement. If you have any predisposition to knee problems, it is better to exercise your quads in other, more adequate ways.


THE SMITH MACHINE

The Smith machine can be very dangerous if it is not understood and used properly.

This machine specifically makes it easy by balancing and stabilizing you. This means that you do not work on your small, stabilizing muscles. It could lead you to believe that you are stronger than you think and hurt yourself when lifting a much lighter object.

Exercising should be about using as many muscles in as many planes of motion as possible. Keep your body guessing. The Smith machine will not do that and could even cause injuries due to the overuse of certain muscles.

The alternative is easy: free weights. Take your time, start small and stay motivated.

10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

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You seem to be doing everything right. You exercise, you diet but you are not losing any weight. This can be frustrating. Here are 10 reasons why you are not losing weight. Once you are aware of them, it will be easy to get you to your ideal weight!


YOU OVERCOMPENSATE

It’s a simple cycle: you eat healthy; you workout and then you reward yourself with a treat.

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The truth is, you never know how many calories you have worked off with your exercise routine. You might even be undoing it all and putting on more weight.

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It’s important that you reward yourself in other ways, or in a controlled manner.


YOU DON’T SLEEP ENOUGH

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Adding an exercise routine to your busy day is hard. It is common to make that time by sleeping less. Add to that, the extra time to prepare healthy meals and you might be looking at a significant lack of sleep.

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Your body needs time to recuperate from the workout. It needs rest. When you are sleep deprived, your body’s performance is affected. It slows down your metabolism. Your body looks for ways to compensate for the lack of rest, so it craves more food. It needs to fuel itself.

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep.


YOU’RE DRINKING TOO MANY SUGARY DRINKS

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We all like to feel like an athlete when working out. You go out for a run, exercise and drink a fruit juice, smoothie, soft drink or even a Gatorade. You think you are replenishing all the minerals you lost through sweat. That is not what you are doing.

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You are ingesting a lot of sugar and other substances that your body doesn’t need. Athletes need extra minerals because they work out so hard. You are trying to lose weight, to keep fit. All you need is some water with a few drops of lemon (natural!).


YOU’RE EATING LARGE PORTIONS

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You are taking the time to prepare healthy, colorful and fresh meals. But you are still not losing weight.

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Here’s the trick: control your portion sizes. There is no point in putting so much effort in preparing tasty dishes, don’t waste it all. Moderate your portions so you control the amount of calories.


YOU’RE EATING TOO LITTLE

Yes, it seems like a contradiction. Our bodies are very complicated. Here is how it works.

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If you eat too little, your body thinks there is no food around. In order to protect itself, it starts to accumulate all the fat it can. The little fat and all the calories it can get, it will store them.

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Make sure you eat enough.


YOU’RE NOT CONSISTENT

Your body has many defense mechanisms. It always looks for ways to protect itself.

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Everything you eat, or don’t. The exercise you do. All of it sends messages to your body. That is why you need to be consistent. If you eat too little and then too much, you are saying to your body: “Times are tough, there isn’t much food around. Let’s accumulate fat. Here is a lot of food: our opportunity to gather calories in these hard times.”


YOU DON’T VARY YOUR WORKOUTS

Doing the same workout day in, day out is not also boring, but you also lose less weight.

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As you get better and better in the areas you exercise, you get better at them. It gets to a point where you either need to do A LOT of reps, or you need to change the workout.

Target different areas. Vary the sets of exercises so you don’t do the same routine throughout the week. Keep your body guessing.


YOU DON’T NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT

We seem to be obsessed with losing weight nowadays. Yes, there is a problem with obesity in this country. But, what is your ideal weight?

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It is important for you to have a goal in mind. Check with your doctor to see what your goal should be and help you keep track of your progress.


YOUR WEIGHT ISN’T A TRUE REFLECTION OF BODY FAT

Remember that a number might not be what you are looking for. Muscle weighs more than fat. If you are looking to tone your body and shed a few pounds, you might end up gaining a few and still look better than ever.

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Track your measurements and your water retention levels. Make sure you check these no more than once every two weeks. Constantly measuring yourself will only make progress seem slower.


YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION

There are many reasons why you put on weight and cannot get it off.

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If you have followed a diet and exercised for a while – be honest with yourself! – and have not lost weight, it might be worth checking with a doctor. There are many conditions, hormonal imbalances for example, that could be causing your weight problem.

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How to Tone Your Arms and Lose Weight At the Same Time

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You want to lose weight and are following a strict diet and exercise routine. You are doing lots of cardio and sweating.

As you shed the weight you start to feel… flabby. Toning your body is the next step, but you cannot stop losing weight. It is best to focus on one area to tone. Here’s how to tone your arms and lose weight at the same time in 5 simple exercises.


ARM CIRCLES

What could be easier? Stretch out your arms and draw small circles with them. Circle clockwise for a few minutes and anticlockwise for a few more. Yes, it is that simple.

ArmCircles

You can try smaller and bigger circles. It’s important that you are comfortable, but smaller circles work best. This exercise allows you to tone your arms while losing weight because it keeps you moving.


HAMMER CURLS

This one requires weights. Choosing the right weight to start with is important. If you want to tone without bulking up and actually lose weight, smaller weights are better. One pound weights are great.

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With one weight in each hand and keep your arms low on your sides. Your palms should face your body. Bend your elbows, lifting the weights up to your shoulders. Lower your arms again. 4 sets of 10 will do. Make sure your elbows stay in place and your upper arm don’t move.


TRICEP DIPS

Don’t worry. It’s easy. Place yourself a couple of feet away from a chair. Put your hands on the seat of the chair with your fingers towards your body. Keeping your legs straight, move your hips downwards without touching the ground. Lift yourself back up.

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This is an exercise that tones the back of your arms and your shoulders. 5 sets of 5 reps should be enough to start with. You will feel the difference right away.


BICEP CURLS

Here is the star of our routine. Once again, start with small weights. One pound will do.

Bring the weights to your shoulders. Your back should be straight and your chest up. Grip the dumbbells in the middle, centering the weight in each hand.

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Hold the weights with your palms looking forward. Keeping your elbows in place, bring the weights to your shoulders and slowly back down. 3 sets of 15 reps should be enough to get you started.


PUSH-UPS

It’s true: push-ups are no fun. However, small variations of them can make them easier and more effective.

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To start with, you can try being on your knees. Being on your feet makes you work your abs and core. That is great, but we are focusing on our arms. Later on, you can move on to your feet.

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5 sets of 5 reps is a good starting point.

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This routine is designed as a complement to your diet and cardio routine. Doing these by themselves will not be enough. Make sure you workout to tone your arms but do not over do it. It takes some time and patience for your body to change, but it will be worth it!

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Five Exercises You Need To Do To Get That Butt!

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Whether you are going on a cruise to a sunny beach this Christmas holiday or trying to keep your slim summer shape throughout the winter, you absolutely need to include these exercises in your routine!

Just three sets twice a week will get you there. For even better results, combine them with some cardio: 30 seconds of intense cardio and up to 60 seconds of rest at least 5 times per session. Take it slowly at first, as your body gets used to the routine increase the intensity of the workout.

It’s important to concentrate on every movement so you can get the most out of your session and avoid any injuries.

THE SET


STEP LUNGE


This exercise is specifically designed to work out your buttock, thighs and knees.

Know your muscles
Know your muscles

Place one foot on a step and the other a couple of feet behind you. The height difference will increase the intensity of the workout.

Step lunge
Step lunge

Keeping your back comfortably straight, bend both knees. Drop as low as you can and hold. Remember not to move forwards, but downwards.

Move back up and repeat 15 times with each leg.


SINGLE-LEG GLUTE BRIDGE


Lie on your back. Stretch your arms to the sides and bend your knees placing your feet flat on the ground. Now straighten one leg and keeping it raised, lift your hips evenly.

Single-leg glute bridge
Single-leg glute bridge

Do not try to hold before lowering your hips. Remember to point your raised foot towards the ceiling. 15 to 20 reps with each leg should be plenty!


ALTERNATING SUPERMAN


This time, we are lying face down on the floor. Your arms are extended as if you were about to fly off beside Superman.

Contract your glutes. This is very important! Do not force your back, concentrate on your rear and lift your chest off the ground.

Alternating Superman
Alternating Superman

Now we need some coordination: lift your left leg and your right arm, hold the position for three seconds and lower them. Now raise your right leg and left arm.
Do 15 reps for each arm-leg combination.


LOW LATERAL BAND WALK


Yes, we do need a resistance band for this one. Place it around your legs, this can be around both ankles or below the knees. Whatever position is more comfortable for you.

Low lateral band walk
Low lateral band walk

Keeping your back straight and looking forward, hold your hands in front of your chest to keep balanced and take a step to one side. The resistance band should tense. Take 10 steps to one side and then return taking 10 steps in the other direction.


LOW SQUATS


We can try to avoid them, but squats are absolutely necessary for a great rear! Here’s how to get the most out of them.

Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and your hands behind your head. Intertwine your fingers if you feel more comfortable.

Low squat
Low squat

Keeping your back straight (Don’t force it!) and your chest out, lower your hips downwards. Your knees should keep in line with your toes. Ideally your hips should be as low as your knees. If you cannot manage that far without arching your back, don’t worry! You will get there eventually.
Concentrate on your heels to push back up. 15 reps should be more than enough!

 

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