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Showing posts with label Stretching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stretching. Show all posts

Kicking Exercises and Tips

Kicking Exercises are just what they sound like - fast paced kicks in an effort to build fast twitch muscle fibres in your legs. However done improperly they hold the potential to injure yourself.

I should also note that the primary purpose of these kicking exercises are for EXERCISE, not for self-defense or fighting. I will note the various uses of some kicks, but please remember the primary goal here is to promote kicking as a form of exercise.

With that in mind I am going to be teaching 3 different styles of kicks you can try at home. Shin Kicks, Side Kicks and Back Kicks.

#1.

Use a large open space that has no obstacles or walls nearby. Accidentally kicking a wall and hurting your foot would be counter-productive.

#2.

Next you should be doing some stretches. Because you are going to be doing an exercise that explores the limits of your flexibility I want people reading this to make an effort to stretch before you begin any workout that contains kicking.

Start by sitting on the ground and doing a variety of poses that explore the limits of your flexibility, similar to the poses mentioned in the How to do the Splits post.

#3.

Warm up your leg muscles by doing about 30 to 60 seconds worth of jumping jacks and another 30 to 60 seconds worth of squats (or jump squats if you want more of a challenge).

#4.

Don't worry about height when you kicking. Stand upright and start by doing low kicks in the air aimed at an imaginary target about 1 foot off the ground. This is known as a Shin Kick. It may not look like much, but aimed at someone's leg it would be difficult to block and successful contact means the other person will be in pain and possibly have difficulty walking.

When doing Shin Kicks your legs should be spread further apart with your leading foot pointed towards the imaginary target. Your kicking foot will be spaced further back and the foot should be angled off to the side for extra stability.

Every few minutes you should switch sides and practice kicking with the other foot. Try to focus on the quality of your form and accuracy, not your speed.

Shin Kicking can also be used for tripping an opponent, except instead of kicking the person with the toe or the base of the foot you are instead angling your foot in from the side in an effort to knock them down / make them lose their balance. This is demonstrated in the graphic below.

In a situation where you feel threatened, kicking someone in the shins and then running away is a fairly effective means of self-defense. The other person could be potentially prone if you tripped them, or they might simply be unable to run quickly due to the sudden pain. The pain would be temporary however, so if your plan is to run do so quickly.

#5.

This is not the impressive Side Kick you may have seen in the movies. You need to work up to that.

Instead your goal here is to kick sideways and hit something that is approximately at groin level. eg. An opponent's family jewels.

To do this kick you first need to be facing towards your target, your feet slightly spaced apart and your leading foot slightly off to the side for extra balance. During the kick you will first raise your knee up towards the target, and then in one motion you will kick outwards while rotating your body. Use your arms to maintain your balance (potentially you could use one arm to perform a simultaneous punch like in the image below, but your primary goal should be to maintain your balance).


Done properly a sidekick should be both accurate, fast and with minimal loss of balance. These three things are important because:

  • You actually want to hit the target properly so it does more damage.
  • Your kick should be fast enough that your opponent cannot catch and twist your foot, leaving you at a disadvantage.
  • You don't want to lose your balance. If you fall the fight is practically over.
My tae kwon do instructor in South Korea taught that you never want to kick an opponent unless you either already have the advantage or if you can be absolutely certain of your success. He argued that kicking an opponent too aggressively and without a degree of caution was too risky, especially against any experienced opponent who knows how to counter such a kick and turn it against you.

For our purposes however side kicks still make for great exercise - both for muscle speed and strength, but also as a balance exercise.

#6.

The third and final kick I am going to teach today is the Back Kick.

Similar to the Side Kick, you start by raising your knee up in front of you and then kick backwards at an imaginary target at roughly groin level. Your primary goal during this kick is to learn how to maintain your balance, so note how your arms stay tucked close to your body and most of your balance is achieved not with your arms, but with your torso / core muscles.

7.

Don't over do it with any of the above kicking exercises. Focus on form and balance, not speed. There is no point hurting yourself by trying to kick superfast. Speed will come with practice.

After completing your kicking exercises for the day I also recommend doing a series of exercises such as:

Lunges
Sit Ups
Push Ups
Squats
Jump Squats
Jumping Jacks
Skip Rope or Skipping
Yoga
Etc

The goal here is to build up your leg muscles and also your core muscles (abs, lower back, etc). That way the next time you practice kicking exercises the muscles in question will be stronger and you will have better balance.

Happy Exercising!

Back Posture and How to Eradicate Back Pain

Back pain can be really excruciatingly painful - and inhibit people from getting a good night's sleep, a necessity for them to maintain their health. Most people in North American will at some point have some form of back pain.

For some people in North America (33%) the back pain will be so severe it will cause chronic pain and conventional treatments will be useless to rid them of their pain.

There is however a solution: Posture exercises.

If you research the problem of chronic back pain in the USA and compare it to statistics in other regions of the world what you will discover is there are different regions in the world where back pain hardly exists. eg. One indigenous tribe in central India reported essentially none. Also, X-rays and studies of the discs in their spines showed little signs of degeneration as people aged. The entire tribe was apparently immune to back pain. This phenomenon is not limited to one tribe either, it can be found in many indigenous cultures where people are doing something special that many modern people are no longer doing.

So what are they doing differently?

Their posture when they are standing or sitting is the biggest difference. They stood in a manner that their spine made an elegant J-shape instead of a curved S-shaped spine like many Americans with back pain have.

In a J-shaped spine the back in straight and erect, and the buttocks curve outwards behind them. The S-shaped spine of people with chronic back pain causes them push their upper backs backwards into an unnatural position - often this is the result of trying to compensate for being overweight on the front and trying to compensate. This problem also goes hand-in-hand with having weak core muscles.

This J-shaped spine is not limited to specific cultures either, not historically at least. If you look at statues from Ancient Greece you will see they too had J-shaped spines.

In drawings from Leonardo da Vinci or a Gray's Anatomy book from 1901 you will see the spine isn't shaped like a sharp, curvy S. It's much flatter,and then at the bottom, it curves to stick the buttocks out. So the spine looks more like the letter J.

The J-shaped spine can be found in a lot of artwork dating back centuries. However in the 1900s something changed. People, especially in North America, started getting fatter, getting less exercise and developing poor posture. The combination of poor posture, lack of exercise and carrying too much weight puts a lot of stress on their spine - so much stress it causes pain so intense they cannot sleep properly.

Thus for people looking for a permanent fix to their back pain they need to think outside the box and start thinking POSTURE.

Five Stretching Exercises / Tips For Better Posture And Less Back Pain

Try these exercises while you're sitting at your desk, sitting at the dinner table or even just walking around.

#1. Do a shoulder roll

North Americans tend to scrunch their shoulders forward, so their arms are in front of their bodies. To fix that, gently pull your shoulders up, push them back and then let them drop - thus completing a shoulder roll. Now your arms should dangle by your side, with your thumbs pointing out. This creates the natural position for humans to hold their shoulders.

#2. Lengthen your spine

Being careful not to arch your back, take a deep breath in and grow tall. Then maintain that height as you exhale. Repeat: Breathe in, grow even taller and maintain that new height as you exhale. The exercises activates your core muscles and your spine goes into the more natural J-shape.

#3. Squeeze your glute muscles when you walk

In many indigenous cultures, people squeeze their gluteus medius (muscles near tailbone on your buttocks) muscles every time they take a step. It has a side benefit of creating a more shapely derrière as you are tightening the buttocks muscles every time you take a step - the muscle also keeps your buttocks more perky as you get older so you don't develop a saggy bottom.

#4. Don't put your chin up

Instead, add length to your neck by taking a lightweight object, like a bean bag or folded washcloth, and balance it on the top of your crown - or even just put both hands on top of your head. Next, try to push your head upwards against the object without tilting your chin upwards. The exercise lengthens the muscles on the back of your neck and allows your chin to angle down in a relaxed manner.

#5. Don't sit up straight!

Trying to sit up perfectly straight is just arching your back and deliberately making the S-shape you are not supposed to be doing. Instead do a shoulder roll to open up the chest and take a deep breath to stretch and lengthen the spine.

Thus a little bit of daily stretching and good posture will eradicate your chronic back pain. Happy stretching!

7 Exercises for Increasing Flexibility

Flexibility is important - especially as you get older.

Having loose, supple muscles will give you more energy on a day to day basis - and you will experience less pain thanks to your increased flexibility. As your week goes on, many people accumulate their stress and muscle fatigue in the shoulders, neck and back. Athletes commonly carry muscular stress in the hips, hamstrings, and calves - proof that anyone can get pain from muscle fatigue if they don't spend ample time keeping their muscles flexible.

Muscular tightness will drag you down, ruin your posture over time, cause you to feel clumsy and slow, and increase the risk of injury when you push yourself too hard.

Thus stretching to increase your flexibility is a critical part of any cardio or weight training regimen. Muscles fully develop with contracting (lifting) and lengthening (stretching). Unless you want short, stocky muscles, then you will need to stretch!

8 Exercises for Increasing Flexibility

1. When your muscles are warm it is time to stretch!

Stretch whenever you can. If you ran up a few flights of stairs at work, stretch your legs while sitting back at the desk. Of course, stretch thoroughly after every single workout, and be sure to include the whole body, regardless of what muscle group was worked that day.

2. Get up to stretch after every hour of sitting!

Sitting causes spinal compression, hunched shoulders, and tight legs. After every hour of sitting down, stand up to stretch for at least 1-2 minutes. Reach up, bend down, stretch forward, back and side to side.

3. Practice static stretching!

Hold stretches with no rocking or bouncing for 15-30 seconds and repeat each two to three times. Breath deeply through the nose and on every exhalation, try to lengthen the stretch a little more.

4. Take a yoga class for fun!

You can't do much better than yoga in terms of a long, deep stretching session. Plus get the benefit of a full body strength and balance workout.

5. Learn to do the splits!

Ever wanted to do the splits? Anyone can learn how to do the splits. It is actually a lot easier to learn than most people think. Men, overweight people, even the elderly can easily learn to do the splits.


6. Bufferfly stretches are fun and easy!

You probably already know how to do these. They're very easy to learn so why not do them regularly?

Daily butterfly stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

7. Keep trying new things and keep at it!
While I must stress that you avoid any activities that might injure yourself, trying new stretches will also boost your flexibility progress over time. Use your common sense to determine which stretches work for you and which ones you would rather not do because you know you are not ready yet.

When it comes to trying new stretches you will not notice physical results quickly - stretching results always takes a lot of time - but you will feel amazing over time and that will be the biggest reward when you don't feel as much pain in your muscles and joints as you used to! It's common to think that stretching is boring but once you get into a routine you will wonder how you lived before feeling limber, with a skip in your step every day.

The Piecemeal Workout

The concept of a piecemeal workout is simple. Divide however much time you have to workout into 1 minute segments and then do X different exercises, wherein X is the total number of minutes you have available.

So for example if you have 20 minutes available, you are doing 20 different exercises for 1 minute each. Or if you have 60 minutes to workout you are doing 60 different exercises (possibly with a few minutes break during that time).

I recommend including a couple minutes of doing different kinds of stretches in there too, closer to the middle and the end of the workout. That will reduce muscle fatigue and act like a relaxing exercise in-between harder exercises.

For fun you can also make it into an interval training workout, whereby you alternate high intensity exercises with low intensity exercises.

Or whatever you want to do. Just keep it simple and avoid too many pieces of equipment. It is better if you can limit yourself to say 4 dumbbells, a skip rope and a yoga mat.

You can make the focus of your piecemeal workout on weightlifting, or it can be cardio, or it can be a mix of cardio and weightlifting (like perhaps 70% cardio and 30% weightlifting). It all depends on whether your goals are more to lose weight, build endurance or build muscle or all three.

So for example lets say you did the following...

1. Yoga, 1 minute.

2. Burpees with push ups
, 1 minute.

3. Squats with weight
, 1 minute.
 
4. Push ups
, 1 minute.

5. Mountain climbers
, 1 minute.

6. 2 arm bent row
, 1 minute.

7. Punches
, 1 minute.

8. Alternating front kicks
, 1 minute.

9. Bicep curls on knees
, 1 minute.

10. Lateral raises
, 1 minute.

11. Walking lunges with weights
, 1 minute.

12. Jump rope
, 1 minute.

13. Jumping jacks
, 1 minute.

14. Side kicks, 30 seconds each side.

15. Overhead extension
, 1 minute.
 
16. Wall sit
, 1 minute.

17. Five Sun Salutations
, 1 minute.
 
18. Alternating low back extension
, 1 minute.

19. Bicycle Crunches
, 1 minute.

20. Front plank
, 1 minute.

If you are doing longer workouts you will need a longer list of exercises to do. In which case please browse CardioTrek.ca for more examples of exercises you can add to your list. I have hundreds of different exercises listed on here, especially in the Frugal Exercises section since most of those are bodyweight exercises.

After your workout remember to do some light stretches. Helps reduce muscle fatigue.

Why Good Posture Matters

Bad posture hurts your muscles and harms your bone structure.

Good posture builds muscle and maintains bone structure.

But that isn't the end of it. Posture also effects your quality of sleep, eating habits, overall fitness, ability to perform a variety of exercises, and your overall health.

Now how do you improve your posture?

Start by ridding yourself of bad habits like slouching while you sit, leaning forward or backwards too much. Next do stretches every day to improve your flexibility. Lastly, yoga and abdominal exercises will also help to improve your posture - but general exercise will help too.


How to do the Splits

Flexibility training isn't something that most people do. But it is something I would personally would like to do more.

Keeping in mind that I have no background in dancing, gymnastics or acrobatics. I am more or less just an average guy who is into exercising a lot. (Although I do admit I sit cross-legged quite a bit so I might have a slight advantage.)

Thus learning how to do the splits is a technical challenge for anyone who wants to practice stretching and flexibility exercises.

MYTH BUSTING

#1. The first thing I want to do is point out that ANYONE can do the splits if they practice flexibility exercises - even men and overweight people. Flexibility has very little to do with what sex you are or what size you are. It has nothing to do with age either. For this reason I have chosen a variety of images which disprove any myths you might have about flexibility. Sex, age, size, race, etc have nothing to do with your ability to be flexible. It is purely a matter of stretching exercises.

93-year-old woman doing the splits.
#2. Learning to do the splits doesn't take as long as you think. It should take roughly one to three months to reach the point where YOU can do the splits. But you will need to be diligent about doing your stretching exercises every day and I do mean EVERY DAY.

#3. You might think "Oh yes, men can do the splits, but they'd have to be a martial artists already or a really good athlete who is already super flexible to do the splits." Yes, it is true, many martial artists and athletes can do the splits - but only because they have trained themselves to do them. You have to get away from that way of thinking where you think A (natural ability) causes B (flexibility), when in reality it is C (practice, practice, practice) that is responsible for improved flexibility. You might also think that men with lots of muscle and / or fat cannot do the splits. In which case I invite you to browse the various photos on this page.

Man doing the splits
Overweight Older Man doing the Splits
Now that I have proven how it can actually be done lets get down to what exactly is the splits.

THE SPLITS - DEFINITION

A split is a stretch that completely extends the legs so that they and the base of the torso are flat on the ground. There are TWO kinds of splits. You can do a split with your torso facing over one leg - known as a Side Split - or with your torso facing forward - a Front Split.

Usually people start by learning front splits because it is slightly easier and takes less time to learn how to do them. The amount of time it takes you to learn to do a split depends upon your physical fitness, diet, metabolism, coordination, age and flexibility - but it is not impossible for you to learn regardless of any of those factors. Most people can build up to doing a front split in a month. If you have any injuries that effect your flexibility, consult your doctor before beginning training.

HOW TO TRAIN YOURSELF TO DO THE SPLITS


#1. DAILY BUTTERFLY STRETCHES

Perform daily butterfly stretches. These stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

Remember to repeat daily! I know I am beating an old drum here, but remembering to do these stretches daily is a huge benefit to your ability to improve your flexibility.

#2. STRETCH YOUR KNEES AND LEGS DAILY

Stretch your knees and legs daily. While kneeling, put one foot in front of you on a mat, stool or other sturdy item elevated a foot off the ground. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees. Extend your other leg back behind you. Then push your hips forward until you feel your muscles stretching. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 5 times daily.

#3. STANDING LEG STRETCHES

Stretch your legs while standing. This helps improve balance and flexibility. While standing place one foot in front of you on a mat or other sturdy item about a foot off of the floor. Keep your back foot flat on the ground. Then extend your arms forward to touch the toes of the front foot and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Repeat 10 times each side every day. However many flexibility experts say that the more frequently you perform this stretch, the better your balance and flexibility will become - so in theory you could do a lot more than 10 per day. However if you start to feel any extreme pain I recommend stopping immediately.

#4. ATTEMPT TO DO THE SPLITS

Don't expect to do the splits the first time or even the 20th day or the 30th day. Many people can do them by day 30, but lets pretend for a moment that you skipped doing your stretching exercises for a few days then you will have slower results.

Other factors such as diet, metabolism, etc will slow you down a bit, but basically anyone should be able to do the splits by day 90 of doing the stretches.

During your attempt stand up and spread your legs slowly to the ground into a split while supporting yourself using a stable chair or ballet barre. Go down as far as you can without experiencing pain or shaking legs. Hold the position for three to five seconds and repeat the stretch five times daily. This stretch (even if you fail) helps you improve muscle memory, flexibility and balance, all of which are important for splits. You will gradually be able to lower yourself closer and closer to a split.

It just takes time and daily practice.

CONCLUSIONS

If you were paying attention and doing some math you may have noticed it only requires 5 + 10 + (10 x 2) + 5 stretches each day to do the splits. It is a total of 40 stretches per day. Takes you about 5 to 10 minutes per day.

But the results are amazing regardless of what size or shape you are.

With time you could even do super flexible things you normally expect of dancers and gymnasts.

Don't think that just because they are young and skinny that you can't do it. You can. It just takes time, practice, diligence, a little willpower and 40 stretches per day.


Just 40 stretches per day.



Overweight Man doing the Splits
Elderly Woman doing the Splits
Bodybuilder doing the Splits

Archery Warmup Exercises + Stretches

Doing a series of simple stretches and exercises during or after an archery session can be very beneficial. (Doing stretches before exercises haven't been proven to prevent injuries, but doing stretches after helps maintain and improve flexibility.)

Doing warmup exercises can also be beneficial however, as they get blood-sugar flowing to the muscles and that will improve your performance on the archery range.

I recommend the following stretches / exercises to help warm up the muscles and improve flexibility.

#1. Twists (turning from side to side, stretching the obliques [side muscles]).

#2. Isometric Pulling (see the list of stretches below).

ISOMETRIC STRETCHES FOR ARCHERY

Loosen upper arm and chest muscles.

Interlock the fingers with palms out. Extend arms above head, keeping fingers locked. Stretch upwards and hold for 10 to 15 seconds.


   

Loosen back muscles.

Cross arms in front of chest and place hands around shoulders. Slowly stretch hands towards middle of back as far as possible. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.



Loosen chest, top of shoulder and lower arm muscles.

Bend one arm over head and down back, bend other arm around and up back. Grasp finger tips and hold for 10 seconds, then reverse arm positions and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Keep backbone vertical during this exercise.



Loosen shoulders and back muscles.

Lock fingers together, extend arms and twist slowly as far as possible to the right and hold for 10 seconds. Then twist slowly to the left and hold for 10 to 15 seconds.

WARNING: Do not twist suddenly as it may damage backbone joints.
     


Loosen neck and upper shoulder muscles.

From a normal standing position with arms at sides, raise up both shoulders towards neck as high as possible, then move shoulders forward, then move shoulders back. Do this for about 20 seconds.



Loosen back and shoulder muscles.

Use a length of spear gun rubber or rubber tubing, grasp each end, raise arms to shoulder height and extend arms, keeping elbows straight, outwards and backwards by squeezing shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat about 6 times.


   

Loosen shoulder muscles.

Use a length of spear gun rubber or rubber tubing, grasp each end, raise one arm above head and the other arm level with shoulder. Pull down with arm and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat about 6 times.

Swap arm positions and repeat exercise.



Loosen chest and shoulder muscles.

Use a length of rubber tubing, grasp each end behind back, hold arms at shoulder level, then swing arms forwards to stretch rubber. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat about 6 times.



Loosen shooting muscles.

Use a length of spear gun rubber or rubber tubing tied in a loop, imitate the shooting draw. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat about 6 times.

Repeat exercise with opposite hands to balance muscle development.

Get Better Sleep = Sleep Healthier

Want to live longer and have a happier more stress-free life?

Start by sleeping healthier.

If you are one of those problem sleepers who keeps tossing and turning like a tornado that just can't get comfortable and looking panicky at your clock every half hour, well then you are not alone. There are quite a few people out there who have unhealthy sleep patterns - and it messes with their health, their weight, their ability to focus/concentrate and a whole batch of other problems. Getting a proper night's sleep is crucial if you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle or accomplish a variety of fitness goals.

But instead of focusing on the ills, lets focus on the cure.

1. Don't exercise in the evening - Do stretches instead.

Exercising too much will rev you up and keep you awake! Keep your fitness regimen to the morning. It may mean waking up ultra early but once you develop the routine, you will fall asleep earlier at night.

If you want to do anything before bed the best alternative is to do stretching or light yoga for 5 minutes.

If you do exercise in the evening time it so it is 2 hours before sleeping so you don't get revved up too close to your bedtime. You need that cool down period before sleeping. This is why stretching is better because it won't rev your muscles / blood pressure up, and it will help you feel more relaxed.

2. Write a to-do list before bed.

If you are the type that cannot sleep because too much is on your mind, get it out in the form of a list. Then you know what has to be done, and you can worry about the details the next day.

3. Don't eat too late or drink caffeine after 4 PM.

Food gives you energy. Keep your dinner or evening snack light, and cut off caffeine in the afternoon around 4 PM. For best results cut out soda pop and tea (except perhaps chamomile since that helps you sleep).

4. Wake Up Earlier.

If you get up earlier in the morning, thanks to an alarm clock, you will have less problems falling asleep at night. It will be rough at first, but you will see much better results once you get used to the routine.

5. Get a regular schedule.

The more routine your sleeping patterns are, the better chance you have to fall asleep. It is inconsistencies that result in bad patterns. Train your body to sleep and wake by sticking to a schedule. It will be hard at first, especially if you are trying to go to bed and wake up earlier. Once the habit is established for 21 days, it will really help cement your sleeping patterns and it will stabilize!

6. Avoid Light / Loud Noises

Get some extra thick curtains for the bedroom which you can pull shut easier. Someone should really invent a device that opens the curtains in the morning on a timer. That would be so awesome. Avoid playing loud music while you are trying to sleep. If you need some kind of noise / music get a fan or turn the volume down really low and set it so it will stop playing in an hour or so.

7. Naps

Afternoon naps, around noon / 1 PM are good for you. Primates (apes, chimpanzees, etc) all take siestas in the afternoon and the human species are supposed to take naps too. That is why in the afternoon you often feel tired around 1 PM, but most people just ignore it and keep working. However if you work from home / have a flexible schedule then taking daily naps is an option for you.

And even if you don't have a flexible schedule try to sneak in a nap or two on the weekends. You will feel better and more well rested.

Live Long and Prosper!

8 Fun Football Exercises - Useful for Everyone

You don't have to play football to enjoy football exercises. Indeed most football exercises are actually stretches or cardio. A few are even bodyweight exercises.

Some of them are also ab workouts and/or work your obliques (side muscles). The end result is that football exercises are both versatile and inexpensive (you can buy a football for approx. $15 to $20).

So find yourself a clear space to exercise, get out your football [although in theory, any large ball will do - basketball, soccer ball, volleyball, etc.] and get ready for some exercises.

#1. Twists

Standing with two feet apart hold the football in front of you with both hands. Without moving your hips or legs, twist your upper torso as far to the right as you can. While you do so maintain arm pressure on the football in front of you. Do the same again to the left. Repeat 100 times.

This is my personal favourite of all my football exercises. Once you get good at it you can go really fast and it ends up being really exhilarating. It stretches and works the obliques and your lower back muscles.

#2. Squat Jumps

Holding the football in front of you and maintaining your torso in an upward position lower yourself into a squatting position. Then jump upwards, raising the football high above your head. Repeat 20 times.

#3. Forward + Backwards Bends and Sides

Standing with your feet apart place the football behind your head and hold it in place with both hands. Lean forward like you are doing a situp. Then do the same but lean backwards. Next lean to the right as far as you dare, then the left. Repeat 20 times.

#4. Knee Bumps

Holding the ball in front in front of you with both hands, raise your right knee until it is just below the football. Next in one swift motion lower your right knee and raise your left knee in a jump and try to bump the football out of your hands. (You may feel like you are doing that kick from the 1st Karate Kid movie.) With your hands try to with-strain the ball as best you can. Repeat 20 times.

#5. Squeezes

This exercise is easy. Just squeeze the football between both hands and move from side to side, squeezing as hard as you can, alternating which arm you are pushing the most with. Continue this exercise for 2 minutes.

#6. Toss and Catch

Catching a football requires good hand-eye coordination and also muscle coordination / balance. Simply tossing a football in the air and catching it with one or both hands is good exercise. Try to alternate which hands you throw and catch with. Throw and catch 100 times.

#7. Football Situps

Sit and balance yourself on top of your football. Place your feet out in front of you and lean backwards about 45 degrees. Then lean forward you are doing a situp, but without falling off the football. I admit this is nearly identical to using a standard exercise ball, but with a football it is lower to the ground and provides less stability due to it shape, thus you will need to pay attention to you balance. Try not to fall off it. :)

#8. Circle Passing

Pass the football behind your back from your left hand to your right hand, then in front of you from right to left, completing a circular motion. Repeat 50 times and then switch direction.


Better yet, find a friend or family member and go outside and throw the ball back and forth for an hour or so!

Mid Workout Stretching

Out of breath during your cardio or weightlifting workout?

Pause and do some stretches.

Why?

#1. Regular Stretching increases and maintains flexibility.

#2. It gives you a moment to catch your breath and recharge available energy in your blood.

#3. Stretching exercises smaller muscles that most people forget about, like your obliques (side muscles).

#4. Stretching reduces muscle tension. Ergo, less pain in your muscles and joints.

#5. It also improves your muscular coordination.

#6. Improves balance.

#7. Exercises core muscles.

#8. Increases circulation and energy levels.

#9. Prevents sports injuries if done properly and regularly.

#10. Decreases the likelihood of injuries as you get older (eg. falls and breaking your hip).

#11. Mid exercise and post exercise Stretching helps with muscle recovery and helps condition your tendons/muscles.

#12. Because sometimes it just feels really good to have a good stretch!
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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