Category: back exercises

Indoor Rowing – Endurance, Flexibility, Cardio, Resistance

Indoor Rowing – Endurance, Flexibility, Cardio, Resistance

Lately, I have been trying to mix up my cardio between the treadmill, elliptical, and spinning. But lately another machine has been calling my name. It’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, works all the muscles in a single bound, Look! It’s a rowing machine.

That’s right, that little rowing machine off in the corner of the gym is one of the few super machines that work all the major muscles of the body at once while providing a cardio kick at the same time.

Starboard or Port? No need to memorize any boating terms to get a great rowing workout. Indoor rowing can be an endurance exercise, a flexibility exercise, a cardio exercise, and it invokes all the muscles of the body and trains them evenly. The pulling motion works the arms, shoulders, back, and abdomen. The legs, hips, and torso do the brunt of the work on the slide back, and it does this all with very little pressure on the joints. Because rowing is done with a fluid movement, the sliding motion doesn’t jar elbows or knees like other types of exercise.

You can adjust the rowing machine to create a tighter resistance to tone and build muscles. For that aerobic advantage, keep the tension low to maintain less resistance and higher speed, which improves endurance along with lung, heart and circulation systems. Rowing machines offer the best of all worlds in one exercise.

The power in each stroke or pull controls the flywheel on the rowing machine, and proper technique is key. The rhythm to rowing is Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover.

Be careful when sitting, because all rowers have movable seat pads. Strap your feet flat, straighten the torso while contracting the abdominal muscles, and grab the bar in a palms down grip by bending the knees, not rounding the spine. This starting position is called the catch.

Drive back with the feet to straighten the legs and begin to pull the bar forcefully as the legs finish straightening out. The pulling stroke is a rapid, constant horizontal motion all the way into the mid-section. Recover by bending the knees and straightening the arms to start the forward sliding motion back to the start. Now do it all over again, and again, and again. Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover. Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover.

Supermarket GPS

Supermarket GPS

Grocery shopping has never been more confusing than it is in 2011.

With conflicting nutrition information coming at us from all sides, navigating the supermarket can feel as impossible as doing long division while juggling loaded bear traps. It’s neither fun nor safe.

To help you find real food within the endless labyrinth of junk, here is a handy flowchart for your use and amusement. Consider it your supermarket GPS. If you ever get lost, just start back at the top.

Courtesy of Darya Pino, Ph.D / article: Huffington Post

SMART Semantics

SMART Semantics

Are you setting yourself up for failure due to semantics? No more “resolutions”.

The dictionary says a Resolution is a formal expression of intent .

The dictionary says a Goal is an objective toward which effort is directed.

So What?

Is a “Resolution” merely saying something out loud that we want to do?

Does a “Goal” imply that a certain amount of effort or action is required to achieve it?

Any goal you set – whether it’s during the New Year or anytime of the year – should be measurable and achievable. Many people will resolve to change something in their lives, but have no way to measure it’s success. You can’t have a resolution that says: “Exercise more” because there’s no way to determine if you’ve ever actually achieved it.

Instead you need to have a specific task list that allows you to achieve your goal . You could set the goal as: “Exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 30 minutes each day.” — that is a measurable goal and you’ll know immediately if you have achieved it or not.

Need some help setting your goals? The SMART system is a great place to start.

Goals must be:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy.

Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, adjust your course for changes and stay on track to reach your goals.

Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.” The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment.

Set a time frame for the goal: for next week, in three months, in one year, etc. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

Happy New Year and Happy Goal Setting!



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.

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