Archive for September, 2008

The Bicycle Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

A very popular form of ab exercise is the bicycle. This exercise works your upper, middle, and lower abs as well as your oblique muscles. It is performed by laying flat on your back then raising your head about six inches off of the floor. You want to place your arms in the same position as you would for a sit-up. Next, make a bicycle motion with your legs, ensuring they are as close to the ground as possible without actually touching the ground. If these are too difficult, a good way to make them slightly easier is to let your head rest on the floor; another way to decrease intensity is to raise your legs higher into the air. The higher you raise your legs, the easier it will be. I would encourage you to do this at the most difficult level you are capable of to push yourself to your limit.

For girls who want a slimmer waist line and not necessarily strong six pack abs, do the bicycle where it is not too hard but after about 20 seconds you feel the burn. This will both serve as a slight cardio exercise as well as a calorie burning movement that firms your abs, but does not cause major muscle building.

Another fantastic ab exercise is the hanging leg raise. If you are just beginning I would recommend starting these on a knee raise machine (which has a big half ball on the back and then two almost horizontal handles where you can rest your forearms.) To start you want to bring your legs up so that the upper part of your leg is parallel with the floor. You also want a ninety degree angle at the knee. Then you lower your legs straight down until they are free hanging, and then repeat the movement. A variation of this is to instead of raising your legs straight up, raise them to either side of your body, this focuses on the obliques while still maintaining good contraction on your main abdominal muscles.

For those of you who are more advanced, try doing the same exercise hanging straight from a bar. There is no back rest so the exercise will test how much ab strength you actually have and good form is key, otherwise you will be hanging from the bar swinging back and forth. Another good way to increase difficulty is to bring your legs up straight, instead of bent at the knee, until they are parallel with the floor; and to get even harder, bring your legs up straight all the way until they are perpendicular with the floor.

On all of the hanging exercises, make sure not to swing. This creates a momentum boost and will greatly decrease the effectiveness of your workout. Next time I will look at a few more abdominal exercises and then next week I will provide some good workouts for beginners, those who have been working out for a while, and those who are in great physical shape.

Ab Exercises Monday, September 29th, 2008

Well first I want to respond to a comment made last week. There is a very good pushup called the Hindu pushup and for those of you who are curious, this is done by starting in pushup form except with your feet about one and a half feet apart. Next you want to raise your bum into the air and then kind of dive forward; you want to bring your entire body low to the ground with forward momentum. As you reach the bottom, you want to bring your upper body up while keeping your lower body down to stretch the back. Then you want to bring your bum off the ground and then head back with it to where you started before coming down. I know this sounds complicated but here is a good video if you are interested: Click here

I promised that I would cover some different workouts that you can do, but I will first look into some abdominal or ab exercises that you can do, in an attempt to diversify exercise types. Along with the pushup, and running, ab exercises are fundamental, extremely important and versatile components for getting in shape or maintaining high physical condition. There are so many different ab exercises out there that it would take an enormous amount of time for me to cover them all; therefore, I will start with some basic, yet, effective ones to get started with.

The first is the sit-up. Probably the most standard for of abdominal exercise, the sit-up is performed by lying flat on your back with your knees bent at a ninety degree angle and you feet resting flat on the floor. The next step is to put your hands on your collarbone with your right hand on the left side of your neck and your left hand on the right side of your neck so that they cross. Next you want to raise your upper body off of the ground until it is perpendicular with the floor. Then you let your upper body lower back to the floor. That was one rep.

Here are a couple of things to be aware of. First you want to make sure that your feet do not move when performing a sit-up. If you are just beginning, it would be a good idea if you had someone stand or kneel on your feet to keep them from moving. Another option would be to press them up against something like a wall or a couch. As you progress and your abs get stronger, you will not need this extra support and will be able to do a sit-up without feet support.

Second, watch your hands; keep them touching your collarbone at all times. It is very easy to cheat and lift them off to try and get some extra momentum, but this will sacrifice form and will result in a less effective workout. Many people like to have their hands in different positions; I will describe the benefits and disadvantages of each position at a later time. For now, just keep them on you collarbone. Alright, that should get you started, next time I will look at some more ab exercises.

Muscle Groups Thursday, September 25th, 2008

When doing any exercise, one must consider what muscle groups are being worked. This knowledge will allow you to perform exercises with better form and more effectiveness. Putting together various exercises into a workout needs thought and planning to maximize time spent working toward your goal.

The pushup is largely an upper body exercise and is also a compound exercise, which means that many muscle groups are utilized at once. The primary muscle worked during a pushup is the chest or pectoral muscle with the secondary muscles being the shoulders and the triceps (muscle on the backside of the upper arm). Diamond pushups will partially isolate the triceps and lead to more work being done by them. Handstand pushups focus tremendously on the shoulders and are a great way to strengthen them. Another way to think of handstand pushups is an inverted military press. If you do not know what that is do not worry about it, I will cover that exercise later, if you do know it, you get the idea that it is pretty intense; a military press using your own body weight is a feat of pure strength.

One thing to watch for when doing any compound exercise and especially the pushup is the muscle that hurts the most or fails the most quickly. This indicates the muscle group that is the weakest and also means that the other muscles are not being worked to their full potential. A good idea then, is to focus on getting the weak muscle stronger so that compound exercises work each muscle approximately with the same intensity. This is the ideal and most effective way to utilize these types of exercises and is something to pay attention to and adjust appropriately.

During a pushup, the core is also worked. Your abs and lower back should be tightening to keep proper form and will then be indirectly worked. Focusing on tightening your abs and lower back will aid in using proper form and making sure they are contracted will work them harder and you will get a better overall workout. Different forms of pushups will work your core with varying intensity; doing pushups with your hands on two balls will require great stabilization, which is one of the primary functions of the core, and will consequently intensify the work done by those muscles.

More Difficult Pushups Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Today I will be covering more types of pushups; these are going to be more difficult pushups for those who are already in shape and looking for a challenge.

One of my personal favorites is the rolling pushup. These are done by lowering one arm while keeping the other straight and as you push the one arm back up, you lower the other one, creating a “rolling” effect. This is a great isolation exercise for the shoulders. Another type is to stagger your hands. Place one about one foot ahead of the other, do a set, and then switch your hands to create balance while working your muscles. Balance is very important and I will go more in depth with that topic later.

To increase difficulty, perform pushups with your feet on an elevated object and then push your body up. Perhaps the hardest pushups are the handstand pushups; these are performed by doing a handstand and then lowering your body down until your head is just about to floor level and then push back up. I recommend practicing these by leaning back against a wall at first to build strength and balance and then work up to moving away from the wall. Putting your hands on two basketballs or other types of balls and then doing pushups is another difficult exercise to do and works out your core (abs/lower-back) as well.

There are many other variations or combinations of pushups incorporating those I described above and many that I did not describe that are out there, but I think I provided enough to get a good start. As with all exercises, keep your muscles tight during the motion. I also recommend warming up and stretching before exercising and stretching again after. I will look at various workouts you can do with pushups to get tremendous results. Ladies, I will provide ways for you to get that tone that you want and guys, I will give different methods to put on some bulk and get huge!

The Pushup Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Last week I covered various locations where you can exercise. This week I am going to go in depth with my favorite exercise- the pushup. It is perhaps the oldest, most common, most effective, and most versatile workout available. Today I will explain how to do various types of pushups and later in the week I will look into the benefits of pushups and how they affect your body.

The basic pushup is performed by laying flat on the ground with your stomach on the floor. Keep your legs together and stay on your toes. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart or slightly further; now you are going to push your body straight up keeping your back straight, your bum down. It is imperative that you maintain good form for the pushup to be most effective. After you are in the up position with your back straight, arms straight, and on your toes, the next step is to go down. Bend at the elbows and go until your elbow is at a 90 degree angle, now you are ready to push up again.

If you are unable to maintain good form while performing a regular pushup, you can do an incline pushup. To do this you want to lean against a wall or counter or chair and then push yourself up, again, keeping your feet together and your back straight. As you progress with this you can keep decreasing the height of the object that you place your hands on. This will increase strength and endurance until you are able to do a pushup on the floor.

Once you are able to do a large number of normal pushups you can do various other types with more difficulty. Diamond pushups are much harder than normal pushups. These can be performed by taking your hands and forming them into a diamond shape. Touch your index fingers together, in addition to touching your thumbs together. Using the same form for a normal pushup, place your hands in the diamond shape and then do a pushup. Try to keep your arms directly underneath your torso to increase balance and strength during the exercise.

Another form of pushup is performed by placing your hands as wide as possible, while still being able to push yourself up. There are also clapper pushups; these are performed by doing a normal pushup but at the bottom of the rep you want to push yourself up as hard and far as possible and then either clap your hands in front of your body or behind your back (behind the back is quite a bit harder). Make sure for these that you are comfortable with the motion and are confident that you will be able to perform them otherwise you could get quite injured. Next time I will cover more types of pushups.

Sacrifice precedes victory…

The ORC Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Last time I covered the some of the opportunities available at the Student Recreation Center. In the same building is the Outdoor Recreation Center which offers numerous services to the student body. They have organized trips into the mountains and even over-seas and have guides to help you learn about enjoying the beauty of Colorado, the rugged way. Bike, ski, and snowboard maintenance is another great part of the ORC; along with maintenance comes the ability to rent various equipment for just about any outdoor activity including climbing, backpacking, camping, and mountain biking. The ORC is a tremendous resource if you are looking to take a trip into the mountains, would like to learn more about the outdoors (the ORC has various workshops throughout the year that cover everything from outdoor cooking to bicycle maintenance), or are an experienced outdoorsman but need some equipment.

Also on the Mines campus is Volk Gymnasium. Generally reserved for athletes, it is still a great resource for students. Inside there is a weight room, a wrestling room, a basketball court, and a pair of racquetball courts. Right next to Volk is Steinhauer Fieldhouse which includes an indoor track and lots of space for many types of sports or various physical activities.

One of the more fun parts of CSM is the great selection of intramural sports offered. Everything from flag football to golf to ping pong is available. The locations for these are spread all over campus and some occur at the intramural fields that are located on the very west side of campus.

This campus has multiple opportunities for staying active, all you have to do is get out there and explore them! Grab a buddy and play some ultimate Frisbee on Kafadar or take a bike ride up to the M, but make sure you do not waste the opportunities you have.

The Student Recreation Center Friday, September 19th, 2008

On the west end of campus stands the striking Student Recreation Center. Recently built, it offers new and exciting opportunities for those looking for some fun activities. The “Rec Center” incorporates various elements that have a wide range of appeal and suit many different people.

My personal favorite place in the Rec Center is the Fitness Lab where you can work out with a mix of free weights or machines. The Fitness Lab also includes multiple treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes. This is where I will be focusing most of the next upcoming weeks, looking at the different equipment available, how to use it properly, and how to incorporate it into an effective workout. The Fitness Lab is open Monday through Thursday from 6:00am to 10:00pm, on Friday from 6:00am to 8:00pm, on Saturday from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and on Sunday from 12:00pm to 8:00pm.

The Rec Center also includes an 8 lane, 25 yard swimming pool with 2 diving boards, one that is 1 meter and the other a 3 meter. Also in the Noratorium is a 14 person spa that is in the shape of the Mines’ logo. The Noratorium is open August 18, 2008 to December 23, 2008 with mornings on Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00am to 8:00am. The lunch session is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 to 1:00pm and the evening session open Monday through Thursday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm and Friday from 6:30pm to 8:00 pm. On Saturday and Sunday the sessions are from 12:00pm to 6:00pm.

Increasing in popularity is the indoor climbing wall located right inside the main entrance of the Rec Center. Routes range in skill level and classes are available to learn how to climb if you have never attempted it. The climbing wall is open Monday through Thursday from 5:30pm to 9:30pm, on Friday from 4:30pm to 7:45pm, and on Sunday from 5:30pm to 7:45pm. Other activities and facilities in the Rec Center include Lockridge Arena, a recreation gymnasium where everything from floor hockey to basketball to volleyball is able to be played. Above the rec gym is an elevated jogging track that is a 1/16 mile, three lane track that also has a couple clocks in case you forgot your watch and wanted to keep time; if running make sure to see which direction runners are supposed to go that day. Equipment for just about any sport you can think of is available to check out, ask the person at the desk and they will be able to check you out.

A great place to go after all this physical exertion is the Juice Lab where they serve common snacks, beverages, and many kinds of delicious smoothies; you are able to use Munch Money at the Juice Lab. There are also full locker rooms with showers for both men and women.

Remember to always be courteous to others while in the Rec Center. If you need help locating something do not hesitate to ask the person at the main desk; also remember to bring your Blaster Card because it is required for entry into the Rec Center.

One part of the Rec Center I did not mention is the Outdoor Recreation Center. I will cover this more in depth later in the week because they offer many great services outside of the Rec Center for students.