Mix it Up

I recently read an article on a training technique called the contrast method. It is a great way to mix up your exercises and training methods to prevent plateaus in weight loss, strength training and endurance.

I incorporated all these moves into my weight training, and it definitely upped the degree of intensity… it kicked my butt! Training with the contrast method means alternating between heavy strength exercises and energetic power exercises that work the same muscle group..

A study by the University of Santa Cruz states that this method showed an increased result in muscle strength, flexibility and weight loss. By starting with heavy weights the muscles are immediately engaged. Then when you switch to a high power exercise, it uses more muscles since they are already active – ultimately resulting in a better training program. Makes sense to me, and I am always looking for cool new stuff to do.

Try the following groups of exercises doing 10 reps of the strength exercise (listed first) followed by 30 seconds of the power aerobic exercise (second).

Squats
1. Squats
– you can do any type of squat you like. I did hack squats because I think they are the safest for heavier weight. You can even just squat your own body weight if you are not at a gym
2. Jump Squats – jump up quickly and land in squat position

Chest
1. Bench press
– use a bench press with barbell or modified version with dumbbells
2. Push-ups – do standard or clap push ups quickly (yea, the whole clap push up idea is a bit too scary. I will stick with the standard push up)

Arms
1. Lat Pull downs – use a lat machine and pull down to upper chest
2. Exercise Ball Toss – using a light exercise ball, repeat the motion of a two-hand throw overhead (sounded easy enough, but the last few throws were really tough)

Legs

1. Lunges – hold dumbbells in hands and do alternate leg lunges
2. Step Jumps – without dumbbells, step up and down on a low platform

SO MANY WEIGHTS, SO LITTLE TIME

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
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