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Exercise

Bands And Rollers – Training with Home Items

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Since one of the biggest reasons we stay away from the gym is the inconvenience, home becomes the next best place to schedule your workouts. Instead of dumbbells and machines, it’s a good thing you can have rollers and bands.

How to Use A Foam Roller to Build Muscle Strength

Foam rollers can definitely be used to strength train. You just need to know how to use them properly. Foam rollers are great exercise recovery tools. If there is no massage therapist around after you exercise strenuously, foam rollers deliver self-myofascial release. This is the act of relieving the tension in your muscles and improving your flexibility by massaging deep muscle tissues.

However, foam rollers can actually be used to build muscle strength in addition to helping you recover from different types of exercise. Foam rollers usually have a curved and very unstable surface. So any time you try to balance on one, you “… recruit more muscles, especially in your core, to perform the move.” That is what Executive Director of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Medical Fitness and Wellness Center Tyler G. Travis tells us.

You can use a foam roller to build core muscle strength. Your core is so important in just about everything you do. From walking to running, lifting objects and weights, bending, stretching and simply moving in your computer chair, a strong core is required. The key is to employ a foam roller with other bodyweight exercises.

For instance, the plank is one of the most beneficial and common bodyweight exercises. Add a foam roller and it instantly becomes harder for your muscles to perform. Instead of placing your hands on the ground, you place them shoulder width apart on your roller.

With the roller and your feet as the only parts touching the ground, keep yourself as stiff as a plank. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat 3 to 5 times. This will work your abs, your shoulders, your back and your gluteus maximus.

You are probably familiar with how to perform a push-up. Try this variation. Instead of placing both your hands on the floor, place your left hand on a foam roller. Push up, putting the majority of your weight on your right hand. In the up position, raise your left hand and roller until it is parallel to your chest. Perform 3 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions with each hand. This is great for your shoulders, abs, biceps and chest.

Those are just two bodyweight exercises that become more difficult when you integrate a foam roller. Add this versatile recovery tool and strength builder to any compatible exercise to give your strength training program a boost.

How to Use Resistance Bands to Build Muscle

Are you considering purchasing some resistance bands. These elastic, stretchy bands and straps are super inexpensive ways to exercise. They can be carried in a very small satchel or bag, so you can take them anywhere. Whether you are on the road, at home or the office, you can pop out your resistance bands and enjoy a quick workout.

Resistance band exercises provide calorie burning, fat fighting benefits. They help your cardiovascular, respiratory and circulatory systems work better. They deliver the boost of energy that all exercise provides. But can you effectively build muscle using nothing but resistance bands?

To answer that question you have to know how muscle building works. Any time you lift or move something that puts a strain on your muscles, micro-sized tears occur. These tiny tears injure your muscles. Your body almost immediately begins repairing your torn muscles, but it does something unique as well.

Instead of simply returning your muscles to their previous strength and size, your muscles become larger and stronger. This is why you can continue to build the size and strength of your muscles over time as long as you increase the amount of weight you lift or move.

Back to resistance bands.

When you purchase resistance bands online or at your local sporting goods store, you have plenty of shapes and sizes to choose from. One thing you will notice across all brands is that each band will have a specific weight resistance. In other words, a 5 pound resistance band will never stress your muscles more than 5 pounds.

This is why some people believe that using resistance bands and elastic straps puts a limit on how strong you can get. That depends on how you use them, however. If you continue to use nothing more than a 15 or 20 pound resistance band, your muscle growth will eventually peak. If you keep working out with that same band you will build muscle endurance, but you won’t build stronger and bigger muscles.

So, can you use resistance bands to build muscle? Absolutely.

You just have to keep working out with bands of higher resistance to continue to tear down and rebuild your muscles bigger and stronger. Make sure you choose a resistance band set that allows you to stack several together. This means you simply add bands to increase your resistance, thereby pushing your muscle size and strength to new heights every time you work out.

If you don’t mind taking a walk to the park, you can turn that into your personal gym.

Almost any park with a playground can be turned into a gym for bodyweight exercises. With an array of trees, railings, bars, walls and benches, they are made for doing pull-ups, chin-ups, dips and standing push-ups.

Pull-ups and chin-ups

Most parks have at least one set of horizontal (monkey) bars. Start by standing under an appropriate height set of bars. In a pinch even a horizontal tree branch will work. Just make sure whatever you use is strong enough to support your weight.

Reach up or jump up and grab the bar. From the body-hanging position, pull yourself up as far as possible; at about the same speed, lower yourself back down to the hanging position. This way muscles get worked in both directions.

For pull-ups, place your hands shoulder-width apart or farther with your palms facing away; similar to the lat pull-down starting position. For chin-ups, hands should be shoulder-width apart or less with the palms facing you.

Pull-ups are harder and work the back muscles more so than the biceps. However, chin-ups are easier to do and work the biceps more than the back.

Dips

Dips work the upper arms, shoulders and to some extent thighs. Start by sitting on a bench 12” to 18” high off the ground. Legs should be straight out with heels firmly planted on the ground. With hands resting on the edge of the bench, arms should be straight, shoulder-width apart with the elbows pointed outward and wrists inward.

Keeping your back straight, inch yourself off of the bench so that you are about 2 inches away from the front of the bench. Inhale, pull in your abs and lower yourself a few inches or as far as is comfortable by bending at the elbows. Now exhale and bring your body back up by pushing up with your arms.

Movement should be steady and with a up-and-down rhythm. For maximum effect, the last repetition should be difficult to do. The goal should be to be able to perform three sets of 10 repetitions.

Standing push-ups

Standing push-ups work the shoulders and are basically the same as regular push-ups but instead of laying on a floor or the ground, you are pressing yourself away from a vertical wall. Starting position is chest against a wall, palms flat against the wall and feet at least 24” from the base of the wall. The farther away from the wall, the harder it will be to press your body away.

Now inhale and press your body away from the wall with your arms until they are fully extended. Start bending your arms at the elbow and let your bodyweight move you back towards the wall. Do as many repetitions as comfortable. Increase the difficulty of this exercise by moving your feet farther from the wall.

While all of these exercises can be performed indoors, especially during inclement weather, get outside as much as possible. Not only is the fresh air invigorating, but you can get your daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun.

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