Poor exercise technique can have truly undesirable consequences.
Especially when you are doing the movement repeatedly. And especially when you’re using weight to perform the movement.
Not to say you shouldn’t exercise–just take care!
Let’s talk about cervical hyperextension.
This occurs when you’re pushing your head rearward while performing an exercise.
You see it in the gym fairly frequently–when people are “looking up” or tilting their heads backwards while performing:
- “bird dogs” and “supermans” – stretches used to strengthen the lower back
Maintain a neutral spine
Next time you’re in the gym, ask yourself if your neck is neutral. It should not be excessively tilted backwards (or forwards, either, for that matter–which might happen when you do pulldowns behind the neck).
Tip: Relax your neck.
If you are doing a pushup or a pulldown, before you start the movement, make sure your spine is aligned.
Relax, don’t hunch, your shoulders.
Let your head simply sit on your neck where it should!
If you feel strain in your neck, that’s a good indicator you’re hyperextending (or hyperflexing) it.
Align that spine from the base of your skull down through your lower back!
Flickr photo, robhengxr
For about a week now, I’ve been posting simultaneously on this and my new site, www.FabFit50s.com.
I am so looking forward to consolidating everything on one site!
Frankly, the new site will undergo a slight redesign. And I was hoping to wait until everything was in place. But that is taking longer than anticipated, so…
I’ve decided to invite you all to join me on the new site.
You can go there today, tomorrow (Friday, June 4) or Monday (June 7).
But GO THERE!
More and more people are joining me. It’s incredibly exciting!
I love sharing what I know and helping you to…
- get healthier
- get stronger
- get in great shape
- feel so much better!
Flickr photo, miss aquamarine
From behind, an uplifted butt that fills out your jeans can make you look years younger!
Next time you’re at the mall, or grocery store, become an observer (discreetly, of course). You’ll agree.
Young women tend to have uplifted rears. Women who are older…well, not so much.
This can be rectified!
By the way, this goes for men, too!
Everything starts to droop on everyone as the years pass–unless you keep it all in use!
The “how to”
- First, find a comfortable stance. Place your feet just outside shoulder width on the floor, toes angled out. There should be a slight bend in your knees.
- Either place your hands on your hips or clasp your hands in front of your chest. NOTE: This is for an unweighted squat. I always do a couple sets of unweighted squats before adding any weight–like DBs or a BB.
- If you need to, lightly grasp a sturdy support to keep your balance–something like a countertop, sofa or heavy chair.
- Maintain an upright posture as you sink your glutes down to knee level. Don’t just drop down. Perform the movement under control.
- Once you “hit bottom,” push through yourheels to reverse direction and return to the start (standing) position. (Pushing up through your heels helps activate your glutes more.) Retain that slight bend in your knees. Don’t “lock out” the knees at the top of the movement.
Repeat for 12-15 repetitions.
This is a great warmup for all your other leg work to follow.
OR, do it on a separate day, just to remind your glutes what they’re there for.
Now, now! That’s flexing and extending!
Flickr photo, bibingklaove
Are you one of those people who goes into the gym and spends more time looking around than working out hard?
If so, you’ll want to step it up a bit! Especially if you are dealing with chronic psychological stress.
Not sure that you are? Are you unemployed, financially stressed, caring for a parent or spouse with dementia or other health concerns, or constantly worrying about a child or sibling?
If so, this news is for YOU.
Unfortunately, many women who are dealing with chronic stress are also less likely to be exercising vigorously.
Hopefully that changes. Here’s why.
Researchers from the University of California San Francisco found that vigorous exercise seems to mitigate psychological stress and, consequently, prevents telomeres from shortening.
And that’s great news, since shortened telomeres are associated with accelerated aging.
And I’m not talking about wrinkles!
Accelerated aging can lead to a range of health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes, and result in an early death.
Telomeres…remind me again?
Telomeres are cap-like strands at the ends of your chromosomes. They are composed of DNA and proteins.
The longer the telomere, the more protected the chromosomes are and the slower you age.
In the study, investigators looked at 62 post-menopausal women, many of whom were caregivers for parents or spouses with dementia.
They found that those women who performed 42 minutes of vigorous activity–defined as activity which either elevated their heart rates or induced sweating, or both–over a 3-day period were protected from the psychological stress that led to telomere shortening.
So nice to know one more thing you can DO to help yourself stay sound in mind and body as the years pass!
So next time you’re dealing with issues and think you’ll excuse yourself from the gym or your jog…don’t!
You need the exercise more than ever!
Please read the school’s news release here. It provides an easily understood “take home” of the study results.
To read the research yourself, go here.
Flickr photo, richard.heeks.
I am not the best of cooks. I prefer to think of myself more as an assembler, not a cook.
That doesn’t deter me from eating foods that are good for me.
Here’s a meal I fixed twice this past Memorial Day weekend. It took only minutes!
My “quick fix” how-to:
- Use pre-sliced veggies from your grocery store’s salad bar. (I scored red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers, plus asparagus tips and raw broccoli!)
- Slice up some antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken breast.
- Pour a bit of unrefined, organic coconut oil in a pan.
- Toss in the sliced chicken breast and some sliced red onion.
- When chicken becomes opaque (turn the pieces), add in the sliced veggies.
- When nearly cooked, sprinkle in fajita seasoning mix. I love Simply Organic fajita seasoning, available in packets at Whole Foods.
- Stirfry another couple minutes, till spices “cook.”
I ate mine “as is,” with a sprinkle of organic shredded Mexican blend cheese–plus an ear of corn on the side on Memorial Day.
My daughter, however, had her stirfry with cheese on top of frozen, bagged Jasmine rice (Whole Foods) on Sunday and in whole wheat tortillas on Monday.
I’m talking about half reps. AKA, partial reps. That’s what you call it when you don’t do a full rep, which takes a full range of motion from the top of a movement all the way to the bottom and back.
Let’s take a DB shoulder press.
In a full range press, of course, you push the DBs up from the shoulders to a point overhead where your elbows are slightly bent. Then you lower the DBs back under control down to your shoulders.
To get your half reps, you push the DBs all the way up to the overhead position (as in the full rep version), then come roughly half-way down before reversing direction to push the DBs back up to the overhead position again. And THEN you bring the DBs back down to your shoulders.
Oh, the burn…
Half reps are a great way to intensify so many exercises.
But, I’ll warn you…half reps make each repetition much more demanding to perform.
You’ll need to use somewhat lighter DBs than you’d normally use!
Today I am doing shoulders (and triceps) and will apply half reps to most (if not all) of my shoulder exercises:
- DB shoulder press
- DB side laterals
- DB upright rows
- Rear delt machine flyes
You can easily figure out the other 2 DB exercises I’m including. It’s the same principle as the shoulder press I detailed above.
For the rear delt machines flyes, you would typically grab the machine handles in front of you and bring them back and out to the side of your torso, before returning them to the start position.
In a half-rep version of this machine exercise, you bring the handles back and out to your sides, then reverse direction as if returning to the start position. BUT you stop roughly half-way there and again reverse direction to bring the handles back out to your sides. And THEN you return the handles under control to the start position.
To do a DB version of the rear delt flye, you can sit down and lean your torso forward to nearly rest your chest on your thighs. Next, extend the DBs from outside your ankles to the sides of your torso (your arms come straight out, like a T), keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
To get half reps on this movement, don’t return the DBs back down to your ankles. Stop half-way down, then reverse direction and come back up to the top of the movement. THEN, you can return the DBs under control to your ankles.
Try a half rep next time you work out. Pick just one exercise and get half reps on it. (You don’t need to do all your exercises in this way!)
Use this technique whenever you’re a bit bored with your workouts.
Flickr photo, az360fitness