Category: body weight exercises

Free Weight, Machine Weight, Body Weight – Which one is best?

Free Weight, Machine Weight, Body Weight – Which one is best?

Strength training or weight lifting is key for developing different muscle groups and getting fit. There are plenty of machines, free weights, and body weight exercises that you can use in your fitness routine.

Free weights are beneficial for strengthening the entire body. Exercises on free weights can be done at the gym or in your home. Proper form is the most important thing when using free weights. If you use proper form, you will seriously target the muscle you want to build. If you do not use proper form, you may be targeting a completely different muscle or muscle group. Total control is needed when lifting to prevent joints and muscle injuries.

The extra benefit of free weights is that your entire body is supporting the weight. That is why the muscles actively move during the exercise. As you lift the free weights, weight stabilization also takes place keeping your body in a steady manner. This promotes additional muscle strength.

The major advantage of exercise machines over free weights is safety and easy usage. These machines are equipped with control and guides to direct the resistance paths. Heavier weights are more comfortable to lift, increasing your muscle mass.

If you have access to a gym, using a combination of free weights and machine weights is best. You get the best of both worlds. If you want to lift heavy, stick with the machines. If you want a better focus on a certain muscle, and you know your form is perfect, go with the free weights.

A note about body weight exercises: Lifting your own body weight can be very effective. It doesn’t require any extras… just you. You can do body weight exercises anywhere and get a great all over body workout, since using body weight exercises also employs many smaller muscle groups for stability. Good form is a must. An example of some great body weight exercises are:
1. Push ups
2. Plank

3. Sit ups / Crunches
4. Squats
5. Lunges
6. Chair dips
7. Arm circles (just like you use to do in fifth grade P.E. class)

8. Shoulder push ups
5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

SONY DSCWhen it comes to exercise, it’s always good to mix it up a bit, but there are also times when your exercise routine may be ready for a more major overhaul. Because exercise is a personal thing, and your workout results (and problems) can only be recognized by you, here are a few things to be on the lookout for to determine if you need a shakeup in your shapeup. No matter if you’re a novice to physical fitness or an expert, here are 5 signs that you need to switch up your exercise regime ASAP! –

  1.  If you’re working out and eating properly, you should be seeing results. If you aren’t seeing anything noticeable in the mirror, or if your clothing sizes haven’t changed (or gotten tighter), it’s likely that you need a new exercise routine. With the right routine, you should be able to watch your body transform, even if it is only a little bit. Inches should be coming off and you should start to see more tone to your body.
  2. If in the beginning you wanted to lose weight and improve your endurance, so you did a lot of cardio exercises, such as running on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, etc. However, now that you’ve lost weight and built-up your endurance, you want to focus more on gaining muscle, which requires lifting weights. When your fitness goals change, your workout routine should change with them.
  3. Exercising releases hormones within the brain that are supposed to induce a happier mood. If you’re unhappy with your exercise routine, you rush through your exercises, you cannot wait to get out of the gym, or you find yourself losing focus when you work out, you may be bored. A boring workout is never a good one, and it only makes sense to change it. Being unhappy with your workouts means that you aren’t doing exercises that make you feel good. You should be enthused (okay if ‘enthused’ doesn’t quite describe you, let’s just say you shouldn’t dread your workout), and by the end of it all you should be happy with the physical activity that you do.
  4. You could do your workout routine with your eyes closed. You don’t sweat nearly as much as you used to. You don’t have to put forth a lot of effort to complete your workout. When your workout becomes a walk in the park instead of a challenge, it’s definitely time to change things around. You want your workouts to challenge you and to cause you to push yourself to the limit. If you are going to take the time to exercise, you might as well make it count.
  5. Since the day you’ve started working out until now, you’re been doing the same exact exercise. Even though you’re comfortable with this routine, it’s always helpful to switch up your routine at least every couple of weeks. Doing the same workout for months at a time could not only lead to boredom, but your body get used to the workout and you may find that your exercises are now completely and ineffective.
3 Secrets To Pumping Iron

3 Secrets To Pumping Iron

Secrets of weight training
I love weight training. I have been doing it for over 12 years, and I am always learning new ways to maximize my workouts and my results. Just walk into a bookstore, or browse online and you’ll find hundreds of books all ready to teach you how to gain the benefits of weight training, but there are a few steps you should adhere to no matter what your goals. These steps will ensure optimal results from you weight training activities.

Step # 1: Make your workouts short. Weight training programs should never last more than one hour. Remember, you’re placing stress on the muscles as you lift weights. An hour is the maximum time to exercise without causing stress and possible injuries.

Step # 2: Make your workout intense. During weight training sessions one of your goals should be to challenge your body, so it adapts by building new muscle cells and burning body fat. If you are going to take the time to lift weights, really make it worth your while. I had a football coach tell me that the last rep should look like the first rep.  This little tip helped me to make sure my intensity was at full throttle throughout the entire set.  The last rep won’t feel like the first one, as there is a pretty good chance it will be painful (in a good way) and exhausting, but if you keep good form and intensity, it will show in your results.

Step #3: Consistently change your weight training routines. Regardless of whether you are trying to burn fat, improve sports performance, boost your metabolism, get more tone, or become a body builder, change is a must. To reach your goals most effectively and work smarter, you must constantly challenge your body. Your body can adapt very quickly to repetitive routines week after week. Adding more weight, changing the routine and changing the number of repetitions are all excellent ways to keep change in your weight training workouts.You should change your workout routine at least every four weeks, but you can mix it up every week if you prefer.

The new fitness buzz is that weight training is the new cardio.  I don’t think it is a replacement for cardio, but the benefits of weight training are endless… for men and women.

Free Weights v.s. Machines

Free Weights v.s. Machines

A friend of mine recently asked me what type of workout I do. I change my workouts often, but currently I take a spinning class three times a week, I do a leg work out two times a week, and I split my upper body into two days. But one thing remains consistent no matter what kind of mix and match exercise routine I am doing. I try to stay off of the machines, and here is why:

  1. Machines control your range of motion.
    Sounds like a good thing, right? Not really. Machines often eliminate a lot of work on your part. This is great for beginners, but once you’re past the rookie stage, it is much more effective to be in control of your movement and range of motion.
  2. Many machines put you in a seated position.
    Whenever possible, a standing position is better. Standing while working with weights, pulleys, or bands loads your skeleton (good for bone health), requires you to engage your core muscles, and challenges your balance. It’s like a three for one.
  3. Many machines may isolate only one muscle group.
    Our muscles rarely work in isolation. Although there’s nothing wrong with supplementing a good workout with exercises that isolate a muscle group. But exercises likes squats, lunges, and assisted pull-ups involve several joints which develops more muscle mass (muscle burns calories all day long), improves core strength, and shortens workout time.
Of course there will always be circumstances where a machine will come in handy, and some days you may want the assistance of a machine or look forward to sitting down through parts of your workout, but if you have a choice between a machine and free weights or body weight exercises, try to go with the weights.


There is nothing cooler than watching a girl do pull-ups… all by herself… with no help… from anyone. Especially when she can do more than two or three. There are a few girls at my gym who can do this, and I love to watch them, because I want to be able to have that kind of strength.

I asked one of the girls how she worked her way up to doing real pull-ups, and she said she started out with the assisted pull-up machine. I have been doing that machine for years, and I am still not able to do a real pull-up.

I recently came across some tips on how to work up to a real pull-up, so that is my goal for the end of the year.

Pull-ups are actually one of the best exercises that you can do, but so many people don’t do them because they can’t do them. We want to be able to do them but don’t know how to go about developing the strength and technique. That is my excuse!

There are really two types:

A pull up is done when you grip the bar with a “palms away” grip.

A chin-up is done with a “palms facing” grip.

Chins are a bit easier because this grip uses your biceps for help. Last year one of the “old guys” at the gym started helping me with chin-ups. I was able to do about four on my own, and then he would help me on the last two or three (then the guy who was old enough to be my father, started to make inappropriate comments… if you know what I mean – no more chin-ups for me). Maybe that story belongs on another blog, and my goal is to do PULL-UPS not CHIN-UPS anyway.

If you can’t even do one pull up there are two ways to work up to it.
1. The flexed arm hang
2. Negative pull-ups

For the flexed arm hang boost yourself up – either have a friend spot you (make sure it is not a dirty old man!) or step up on a bench – so that your chin is above the bar. Once in this position, pull the elbows down and slightly back, keep your chest up and tighten your lats before you take your feet off the bench. The idea here is to hold yourself in this “chin over the bar” position for as long as possible.

Add time as your strength increases. When you are hanging, bend your knees so that your feet are behind you and your torso and thighs form a straight line. Don’t lift your knees up in front of you and try not to swing.

Negative pull-ups will help develop the strength necessary to perform pull-ups. Get into the “chin over the bar” position but instead of staying in the flexed arm position, you will lower yourself down to the “dead hang” position. Try to lower your body on a 5-count and don’t just drop and flop. There will be a point just before the dead hang position where there’s the urge to relax, but continue to exert control.

Use the same initial position and form doing the negative pull up that’s used in the flexed arm hang. Lock in with your lats, bend your knees and keep your feet behind you. Maintain control as you start your going down and keep your lats tight. If you have a spotter they can help steady you before the drop.

So, by December, I will be able to do at least three real pull-ups… all by myself… with no help… from anyone.



Cardio is never the most fun part of working out but highly necessary for weight loss. If you are going to go to the effort of doing cardio, then make the effort a good one. I often see people reading books or magazines while doing cardio. As a general rule, if you can read while doing cardio, you are not working hard enough…at an appropriate intensity level to really burn a good amount of calories and get your heart rate going.

My husband I were at the gym the other day doing cardio. We started to talk about how slow or fast we should go. You may have heard that exercising at a slower pace is more effective for fat loss than working out more intensely. Many cardio machines even have “fat burning” programs that keep you at a slower pace. But this can be very misleading.

During low-intensity aerobic exercise, your body does use fat as its primary fuel source. However, and this is key, picking up the pace allows you to burn more total calories, as well as more fat calories. The most important factor in exercise and weight control is not the percentage of fat calories burned, but the total calories burned during the activity. The faster you walk, bike or swim, for example, the more calories you use per minute, and you will be burning more total calories, and in turn, will lose more weight.

Here’s how: If you go walking for 30 minutes at a leisurely roll, you might burn about 100 calories — about 80 percent of them from fat (so that’s 80 fat calories). But if you spend the same amount of time running, you might burn 300 calories — 30 percent of them from fat (that’s 90 fat calories). So at the fast pace, you burn more than double the calories and 10 more fat calories. Which is better for weight loss? Burning 100 calories or 300 calories (in the same amount of time).

Keep in mind; if you can’t sustain a faster pace long enough to make it worth your while, a slower pace will allow you to exercise longer, so you’ll end up burning more calories and fat that way. So you need to find a good balance, and change it as you gain more endurance. As your endurance increases, your intensity must increase. For the best weight loss results, you should try to complete at least 15 minutes of your cardio exercise at the most vigorous pace you can. 30 minutes is even better.

There are all sorts of formulas for figuring out your target heart rate and then using that number to calculate your desired intensity. This is another area where my eyes start to glaze over a bit…. One of my favorite websites for advanced training makes this question easy for you to answer on an individual basis without having to figure out all those numbers and continually take your heart rate. has a great chart .

As you can see, this “formula” is based on how you feel, not a bunch of numbers. Don’t get me wrong, finding out your target heart rate is important, but for me, this is a better guide and easier to use on a consistent basis, especially as I gain more endurance, and strength. It also takes into account how I am feeling on low energy days and high energy days.
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