Friday, May 28, 2010

Strength Exercises - Bench Press

The bench press is another upper-body exercise, but this one requires more work from the muscles in your chest. In this variation, you’ll perform it with two dumbbells (rather than a single barbell). This forces your muscles to work a little harder to stabilize the weight you’re lifting.

Here are the steps:
1. Lie flat on your back. Use a weight bench if you have one, or lie flat on a floor mat if you don’t. If you’re on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet flat, as if you’re about to perform a traditional sit-up. If you’re on a weight bench, bend your knees over the edge of the bench and place your feet flat on the floor.

2. Begin by holding the weights close to your chest. Breathe out as you push them up, continuing until your arms are almost completely straight. The weights will be close together, but shouldn’t touch.

3. Breathe in as you slowly lower the weights out to your sides. Continue until your elbows are even with your shoulders, but no farther. If you’re on a weight bench and you let your elbows drop below your body, you’ll put unnecessary strain on your shoulder.

One of the nice things about the bench press is that it’s only one of several exercises you can do while lying on your back. For example, you can follow up with a pullover, where you lower a weight behind your head (see for instructions).

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Strength Exercises - Overhead Press

The overhead press is a compound exercise that targets your upper body, making it a natural complement to the squat. It concentrates on the shoulders, but also involves muscles in the back, arms, and abdomen, all of which act to stabilize the movement.

Here’s how to perform this exercise:
1. Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend your arms at a right angle, so that your forearms are pointing straight up and your elbows are pointing down.

2. Breathe out as you push the weights up slowly, straightening your arms. Keep your back straight and continue looking forward. Make sure that the weights don’t drift forward or backward as you raise them, and don’t let them touch each other when they’re above your head.

3. Breathe in as you slowly lower the dumbbells to their starting position.

To extend the arm-muscle benefits of this exercise, you can tack a bicep curl onto the beginning. First, start with your arms hanging down at your sides. Then, bend your arms pulling the weight toward your shoulders. Next, turn your palms out and raise your arms to the starting position for the overhead press. Finally, complete the overhead press exercise. This requires a bit more coordination, so don’t try it until you’re thoroughly comfortable with the basic overhead press.

In the variation described here, you do the exercise standing, but there are alternatives. If you perform overhead presses in a chair that has a firm, supportive back, you can lean back and lift heavier weights. This suits power lifters and demands more work from the shoulder muscles, but it also reduces the workout that the stabilizing muscles get in the rest of your body.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual

Monday, May 24, 2010

Strength Exercises - Lunges

Lunges are another wildly popular exercise for working out the muscles in your lower body. Because a lunge involves more movement than a squat, it helps you develop functional stability, balance, and overall body coordination.

Performing a lunge is sort of like taking a big step forward, then moving back to the original position. As always, proper form is the key to ensuring that you’re not putting unnecessary stress on your knees. Practice this one before adding weights and, if in doubt, review a demonstration video like the one at

Here are the steps to follow:
1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging at your sides and (optionally) a weight in each hand. This is the same as the starting position for squats.

2. Pick a leg. Take a big step forward with that leg, breathing in and bending the knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor. (Be careful not to lean forward or let your knee slip in front of your toes.) While stepping forward, bend your rear leg and raise the ball of your rear foot off the ground.

3. Pause, then move back to your original position by pushing back with the front leg, breathing out.

4. Repeat the exercise by stepping forward with the other leg.

The lunge is a perennial favorite, and it has countless variations. Lunges are also performed without weights (and for longer periods of time) as part of many high-intensity workouts.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Strength Exercises - Squats

It may have an unglamorous name, but this basic exercise is the favorite of personal trainers everywhere. In fact, squatting is often described as the most effective exercise move of all time. Its appeal lies in the fact that it exercises just about every muscle in the lower half of your body.

If you’ve ever watched championship weight lifting (say, in the Olympics), you’ve seen extreme squatting. Basically, it goes like this—absurdly muscular individuals attempt to stand up with barbells of enormous weight pinned on their backs. While any self-respecting personal trainer can help you do a safe, unintimidating squat, most beginners prefer to start with amodified version of the exercise that doesn’t seem quite so threatening (and doesn’t involve standing under a heavy object).

Here’s how it works:

1. Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. (Or, do it without any weights the first time.)

2. Crouch down, while keeping your back straight and breathing in. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor (as though you’re sitting in a chair). Don’t let your knees move forward past your toes.

3. Pause, then stand up again, slowly. As you do, look forward and breathe out. This is the step where you really exert yourself.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual