Life Health & Wellbeing

Friday 29 August 2014

Fit Moves: Minor changes can do wonders for muscles

Siobhan Byrne

Published 17/06/2014 | 02:30

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Side lateral, squat and bench press exercises
(From left): Side lateral on the bosu (1) One of the main reasons I like this exercise is that it stops the sway putting pressure on the lower back that you can get when standing. Start by kneeling on the bosu ball, balancing with your toes on the ground behind you. (2) With two dumbbells in hand raise the arms shoulder height, not allowing the dumb-bells to raise above the elbow at any stage. Return to start position. Squat: (1) Stand upright with the bar on the back of your shoulders and your feet flat, shoulder-width apart. (2) Lower your body toward the floor, sending your hips back and down and bending your knees. Push through your heels to return to the start position, keeping your back as flat as possible. Close grip chest press on Swiss ball: (1) Start by lying on your back on a Swiss ball with your feet shoulder-width apart flat on the floor. Hold a dumb-bell in each hand with your palms facing together in close grip position. (2) Push the arms straight up but not locking the elbows. Return to start position and repeat.

There are lots of ways to improve your exercise to make it work better for you, develop weaker body parts and help to get the most from the technique to improve strength, stamina and stability.

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There is no one correct way of completing an exercise and with experience you will become comfortable with slightly different techniques that help to hit that muscle better. There are wrong techniques, so ensure you adhere to good training practices as bad technique will only lead to injury. Remember that everybody is different and what works for one may not work for you.

Today I'm going to look at three different exercises that with slight manipulation can be altered to hit the muscle in a different way.

Bench press

One of my favourite and ultimate exercises incorporating the chest as the main muscle group but also working shoulders and triceps as the secondary muscles. It is one of those must-have exercises.

  • Tips: By changing the width of your hand grip on the barbell you can change the focus of the exercise. For example, a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip is the norm but changing the hand positioning to a narrow grip can focus more on triceps.

Side Laterals

An exercise that is often performed wrong, not engaging the side lateral and putting pressure on the elbow joint. Think of leading with the elbow and never let the dumbbells rise above the elbow.

  • Tips: Make this exercise tougher and lead from the side of the hips rather than allowing momentum to kick in if the dumbbells come from in front of the body. No swinging of the weight either.

    A standard side lateral dumbbell exercise will have a straight arm position. Never lock out as this puts unnecessary pressure on the elbow joints. Changing the positioning of the arm to a bent arm side lateral can put even more focus on the side lateral and is useful if you struggle with the standard movement.

Squat

Again, squats are one of my ultimate exercises and can work all muscle groups in the legs, well, if done properly that is. The great thing about squats is that there are so many variations to hit certain muscle groups more effectively.

  1. Stand upright with the bar on the back of your shoulders and your feet flat, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower your body toward the floor, sending your hips back and down and bending your knees.  Push through your heels to return to the start position, keeping your back as flat as possible.
  • Tips: Your standard squat, feet shoulder-width apart with barbell on shoulders, will work glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves but if you want to hit a particular muscle group harder, changing the exercise slightly can be very effective. I favour raising the heels on a small 2.5 kg plate or mat to allow a deeper squat to really hit the glutes.

 

@Mrsbodybyrne

 

 

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