Backbends come in many forms: standing, kneeling, and lying down; mini-bends of the upper back; and deep, head-to-feet variations. They’re ubiquitous now in fitness circles, thanks to their popularity in many yoga classes.
When done right, backbends offer a powerful stretch through the front of the body, including the muscles of the chest, abs, hips, and thighs, as well as a controlled hyperextension of the spine. This can feel wonderful, offsetting the hunched posture many of us favor when facing our computers, smartphones, steering wheels, dinner plates — even during activities like running or bicycling.
With time and practice, backbending can help relieve tension and build mobility.
Trouble can arise, though, when we approach backbends with the intention of achieving something extreme. Pushing the spine beyond what can be safely controlled can be uncomfortable or painful.
The variation pictured above is a way to practice spinal extension and front-body opening in a low, supported posture. It might be familiar to you as the setup to camel pose in yoga asana practice.
Think of this less as an end goal — a posture that needs to be achieved — and more as an exploration in stretching through the chest without crunching through the spine. The focus here is moving up and back with control and while breathing.
As you gain awareness of your spinal movement, you’ll be able to take the lessons to other backbend variations you enjoy.
Begin in a tall kneeling position with your knees and feet hip distance apart, toes pointing straight back, and hands placed on the small of your back.
Inhale and feel your chest lift, as if there were a string connecting your sternum to the ceiling.
Press down through your lower legs, draw your shoulder blades together, and lift your chest up. Shift your gaze up and back, without craning your neck. Move only as far as you can with control.
Hold for five to 10 breaths. On an inhale, return to the starting position, with control and leading from your chest.
Other alignment tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid leading this stretch with your head. Initiate the movement (and return to the start) from the sternum.
- Keep your upper body engaged throughout the movement with your chest reaching for the ceiling and shoulders drawing together and away from your ears.
- Don’t force your hips forward to deepen the stretch. Keep your pelvis neutral.
- Keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor throughout the movement.
- In time, you may choose to increase the stretch by moving your hands from the small of your back to your heels (demonstrated in this photo) — but only do so if you can keep your pelvis positioned over your knees.
This article originally appeared as “The Kneeling Backbend” in the June 2021 issue of Experience Life.
Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?
8 Ways to Stop Shoulder Pain From Ruining Your Workout
It's time for your favorite strength class, and you're pumped for it. First move on the docket? Overhead presses. You've got this, you tell yourself. But as soon as you lift your dumbbells skyward, a sharp twinge shoots through your shoulder, stopping you in your tracks.
Though certainly unpleasant, having shoulder pain or discomfort while lifting weights is fairly common, physical therapist Maria Borg, PT, CSCS, supervisor at UCHealth Sports Physical Therapy in Colorado, tells SELF. And there are a host of reasons why this can happen.
But bottom line? Experiencing shoulder pain during exercise doesn't mean you need to give up strength training altogether. In fact, there are lots of small things you can do to make weight lifting more enjoyable for sensitive shoulders—and we've got all that important intel right here.
Ahead, everything you need to know about shoulder pain and weight lifting, as well as what you can do to keep it at bay.
What causes shoulder pain while weight lifting?
There are several reasons you may feel shoulder pain or discomfort while strength training. But perhaps two of the most common culprits are instability and weakness in your shoulder and surrounding areas, Kellen Scantlebury, DPT, CSCS, founder of Fit Club NY, tells SELF.
First, a brief anatomy refresher: Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint, and the muscles of your shoulder are surrounded by tendons (which attach the muscles to bone), and bursae (fluid-filled sacs that help reduce friction, sort of like your body's own personal lube). Bursae are found on all the major joint junctions—hips and knees, too.
The shoulder joint is the most mobile one in your body. “So with that comes inherent instability,” which can lead to pain, explains Scantlebury.
Weakness, particularly in the rotator cuff, can play a role as well—and not just for baseball pitchers, who often injure this area with the repetitive throwing motion. The rotator cuff is made up of four different muscles that function to keep the shoulder in its proper place. If those muscles aren't strong enough, then your shoulder may be sitting in less-than-ideal placement. Then, when you move your shoulder, particularly overhead, you can experience discomfort, says Scantlebury.
Borg explains it this way: The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that is supposed to roll and glide as you move your arm to shoulder height, above your head, or while lifting your arm away from your body. But when you have rotator cuff syndrome (basically, any injury or condition that affects the rotator cuff), the rotator cuff muscles aren't doing their job to keep the ball in the socket. Instead of the shoulder rolling and gliding when you raise your arm, the ball of the joint will press the soft tissues of the rotator cuff tendons and bursae between the ball and the top of the shoulder blade. That, in turn, can create pain and discomfort.
Issues stabilizing your scapula, or your shoulder blade, can also contribute to shoulder pain since the stabilizing muscles on the backside of your shoulder assist with proper positioning of the joint. When these stabilizers aren't functioning optimally, you can have higher risk of issues like shoulder impingement (common in swimmers, when the top of your shoulder blade rubs against your rotator cuff), tendinitis (when your tendons get inflamed or irritated), and bursitis (when your bursae gets inflamed or irritated)—all of which can lead to shoulder pain.
FitnessOriginal article appeared on
By: Jenny McCoy
Title: 8 Ways to Stop Shoulder Pain From Ruining Your Workout
Sourced From: www.self.com/story/shoulder-pain-strength-training
Published Date: 09/16/22
How to break up your workout days
Sharing some ideas how to to put your weekly plan together and break up your workout days to optimize performance and recovery!
Hi friends! How is the week going? I hope you’re having a lovely morning so far! I had a call with our amazing travel agent regarding spring 2023 travel (the best) and am putting the Fit Team workouts together for September. If you’d like to join us for Self Care September (focusing on workout nutrition and self care strategies), join us here! Anyone who signs up today will also receive a custom nutrition guide a thank you from me to you 🙂
For today’s post, I’m chatting about breaking up your workout days and how to do this strategically. I’m a big fan of split training throughout the week. It can help you strength different areas of the body, giving you enough time to recover, and also freedom to control the way you train. Today, I’m sharing practical tips to help my reader friends break up their workout days and get the most out of their training routine.
(Please keep in mind that while I’m a certified personal trainer, I’m providing general information for educational purposes. This is not medical advice. Always seek out the help of your doctor before starting or changing your fitness routine.)
How to break up your workout days
Whole Body Split
This type of split involves a total body workout each time you train. The benefits of this type of training is that you’re able to use more fancy and *fun* compound-type movements, working multiple muscle groups at once, and due to peripheral action training, your heart rate may higher, which indicates a higher calorie burn during the workout. I like working total body for my beginner clients (focusing on bodyweight-only exercises first), and also my clients who have significant weight loss goals.
The downside of this type of training is that it may be harder to hit muscle fatigue, which encourages muscle growth, and that you shouldn’t ideally train your entire body two days in a row. I’d recommend alternating total body workouts with rest and cardio.
Upper / Lower Split
This is when you work your upper body one day (back, shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps), and your lower body on a different day (hamstrings, glutes, core, calves). The benefits of this type of training are that you’re able to strength train on consecutive days (upper body one day, lower body the following day), and you’re more easily able to add volume and load to a specific muscle group. This can encourage muscle development, which is the *toned and lean* look so many of us are after.
My personal favorite way to set up a split is upper body one day, lower body the following day, and a total body circuit on a different day. This is how I set up most of our Fit Team workouts, too.
For your four-day split, there are a few different ways you can do this:
upper body, lower body, and two total body days
and antagonist or synergistic muscle training.
Antagonist muscle groups
This type of training involves working opposing muscle groups, like chest and back one day, biceps and triceps the following, hamstrings and calves, and shoulders and calves (they’re kind of on their own lol). This is especially effective for superset-style workouts, because you can move directly from one set to the next, allowing the opposing muscle group to rest. (When one of the antagonist muscles is contracting, the opposing muscle is stretching.)
The main benefit of this type of training is serious muscle-building capability. If you’re looking for gains, possibly try out this style of training.
Synergistic muscle groups
This is when you use agonist muscles (the ones that work together to perform a movement). An example of this would be:
shoulders, chest and triceps,
legs and core
back and biceps.
This is another one of my favorite ways to train, and another great way to build muscle. I would recommend this type of training for friends who want to see serious muscle definition, improve their metabolism, and have three days to strength train each week.
Workout Split Samples
Your workout split will depend on different variables, including the equipment you have access to use, your current training level, what you enjoy (!), and your fitness goals. The key here is to figure out how many days per week you want to strength train. I like to hit each muscle group at least twice per week (on non-consultive days or within the same workout), and make sure I have at least 1-2 days of full rest each week.
If you need help planning out your workouts for the week, join us in Fit Team! I also have a free PDF here on how to create your workout schedule and set up your plan. If you’re looking for personalized training plans, my 1:1 coaching application is here.
Have a wonderful morning and I’ll see you soon!
today's tip,fitness plan
Why You Self Sabotage, and How to Stop It
Today’s guest post come courtesy of personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach, wellness coach, and owner of more certifications than anyone on Earth, Paul Levitin.
I’ve crossed paths with Paul several times throughout the years. He’s attended a workshop or two of mine and most recently we connected again at the Raise the Bar Conference down in Orlando, FL a few weekends ago.
We got to talking on a bevy of topics while down there and he expressed some interest in writing a guest post for my site on self-sabotage.
Not a light topic by any stretch, but I think you’ll enjoy his writing style. I know I learned a few things!
Why You Self Sabotage, and How to Stop It
You, yeah I’m talking to you…
Why do you keep doing that?
That thing you do… where you say you’re gonna do something, but don’t? Where you talk yourself out of things, give up before you get a result, or commit to obligations you know you can’t fulfill? You keep getting in your own way! STOP IT!…”
That’s me, talking to myself in the mirror, after yet another in a long line of instances of not following through on my commitments, doing what I said I would to, or achieving my goals.
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a diet, sticking to a workout program, building an online business, or literally anything else.
When it comes to achieving goals, or rather NOT achieving them, it really boils down to one simple thing:
We get in our own way.
I say “we,” because this is an inherently human trait.
Since you are reading this, I can assume that you’re either a human, or an incredibly smart dog, monkey, or octopus, in which case, idk, maybe self-sabotage is a thing for you too. If my hunch is correct though, and you ARE a human, then the fact of the matter is, you have a tendency to self-sabotage (see, I’m doing it right now, talking about octopus in an article about self-sabotage!).
We can make all of the excuses in the world, from lack of time, to not knowing where to start, to a million things in between.
If we are honest though, those are all the same. Different versions of self-sabotage.
- Who controls your time?
- Who controls what media you consume?
- Who controls everything about you?
(That’s not a trick question)
Therefore, if you aren’t getting your shit handled, it’s your fault.
YES, there can be external factors. YES some people have kids and jobs and families and pandemics and global economic crises. BLAH BLAH, I get it.
Those things are real, but they still don’t negate the one truth, the truthiest truth, that the only things you have control over in this life are yourself, your actions, and how you spend your time (to an extent).
It may seem abrasive when put so bluntly, but trust me, I am not being judgmental. That’s why I started all of this by telling you a little of my own personal internal dialogue. A wise person once said, “the best research is actually me-search,” and let’s just say I’ve done a shit load of ME-search on the topic of self-sabotage.
I am the one who most holds ME back, and chances are, you are the one holding yourself back.
People don’t like to hear it. However, when we do hear it, we inherently usually (if begrudgingly) tend to admit this to be true, because well, it’s true. You can’t really argue against it (RIP my inbox, I know the keyboard warriors are coming for me).
There’s a keyboard somewhere in the background. Look closely. See it?5
I’ve spent this much time hammering this point because it is imperative that we get past this right out of the gate if we are to move forward.
Now that we are on the same page, let me lay out three key mindset shifts that you MUST adopt if you want to have a chance in the battle of self-sabotage.
The First Key Is Acceptance
Acceptance lies at the root of all positive change. Acceptance of what is.
If I want to lose weight, I have to first accept that I am at a weight that I am unhappy, or otherwise uncomfortable at. I must accept that my decisions around food and activity up until this point have gotten me here.
If I want to build a successful fitness blog, I have to accept certain realities as well. I have to accept that I need to practice writing. I have to accept that an established blog like the one you’re reading this on, has a huge readership and trust that I don’t have yet, and that my clicks will pale in comparison.
I need to accept what IS, and what IS NOT.
What is a FACT.
Because, on the flip side of acceptance, is blame. Blaming others, blaming algorithms, blaming genetics.
John Maxwell has a great quote on leadership that goes “we don’t solve problems that we didn’t create.” If you can pass the blame, pass the buck, you will also find reasons not to find the solution.
So if you want to stop self-sabotage, and get out of your own way, it starts with accepting the realities of your current situation.
The Second Key Is to Set Better Goals
A big reason I’ve found myself, and my clients self-sabotaging in the past, is because we tend to work towards goals that don’t really matter.
When I say “don’t matter,” what I mean is, they don’t have a deep internalized meaning.
Sure you want to lose weight. Who doesn’t? If I had a magic wand and said I’d wave off a couple kilos of fat for you, pretty much everyone on the planet would take that deal.
But when you set a goal to lose weight, are you thinking about what it really means?
- Why do you want to lose weight?
- Is it truly for you?
- Why 20lb, not 10, or 23?
Is it because you want it, or is it because society told you that you’re supposed to look a certain way?
When you have chest and arm day scheduled, but would rather sit and eat a bag of Cheetos, is that you being lazy, or do you have no real connection to the goal of having bigger pecs?
Who said that was the ideal physique?
(NOTE from TG: My wife would call this “should’ing on yourself.” I should look “x” way, I should follow this training split, I should watch Yellowjackets on Showtime. Stop should’ing on yourself.)
We understand that fitness is important, and movement and exercise are a conduit to that. But does that mean you have to bench press?
Maybe you’d be better served doing pilates twice a week, and dancing to Zumba with your kids during playtime?
Trying to force-feed yourself goals, because they are accepted as the “standard” seems smart on the surface. However, deep down, your subconscious mind is all “uh, fuck that noise. I don’t even want any of that result, so why would I put myself through the stress of doing the work?”
When there is no connection, you’ll find it very hard to stay motivated.
If instead you have goals that aren’t just arbitrary, and are actually built around you, and make you feel GOOD, and make you EXCITED to go out and do the work it will take to achieve them, then you’re setting yourself up for success.
The Third Key to Stop Self-Sabotage Dead in its Tracks, Is to Embrace Failure
The biggest, most pervasive form of self-sabotage, is undoubtedly perfectionism.
We want things to go well, we want everything to work out perfectly. We expect them to, and when they don’t, the little thought gremlins come in saying “well, no point now!” or “see, I knew we couldn’t do this!”
This is the dieter who lets one meal off plan turn into a day, which turns into a weekend, into a “i’ll start next month.”
It’s the lifter who has five workouts scheduled, and when a life event causes him or her to miss three, decides the other two aren’t worth doing.
Logically, it’s easy to see why this fallacy holds us back. However once again, this stuff is human nature. This isn’t me or you, it’s just how our brains work.
To combat this, we must lean into failure. You have to understand that not only is failure probable, it is GUARANTEED. There is no world, no universe or time lines in all of Dr Strange’s multi-verse, where you are not going to fail.
It is as certain as the sun rising each morning, or as me clicking “I’m still watching” on netflix. There is no other way around it.
You cannot be perfect. You cannot be perfect.
Once you accept that (hey, that’s key one, that’s a callback!), then you don’t have to be so afraid of failing anymore. You’ll be able to push yourself more, to try things that normally you might not (key 2), and most importantly, when you do fail, which you will, you won’t let it get you down, because you’ll remember that it’s all part of the process (key 3).
Get out of your own way, and there will be nothing else in the world that can stop you!
About the Author
Paul Levitin spent a decade as a personal trainer & strength and conditioning coach, becoming the number one trainer in his entire company, while collecting over 30 certificates (CES, CSCS, PRI, PN1, FRC, & many more).
Wanting to better serve his training clients, he began to study behavior change, and eventually became a Board Licensed Health & Wellness Coach (NBHWC). This led him to create his education and mindset coaching company “The Healthy Happy Human Academy,” where he now helps clients deal with things like self-sabotage and perfectionism, to allow them to build a healthy, happy life.
He seeks to bridge the gap between the worlds of fitness and nutrition, and the frustrated, overwhelmed masses who just want to move more, feel better, and live a little longer.
Motivational,psychology,motivation,Paul Levitin,personal growth,self-sabotage
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