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Pull-up Benefits Here is What You Need to Know

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Many believe (as I once used to) that pull ups are one of the most difficult, if not almost impossible, exercises to master. The idea of lifting up your entire bodyweight, and being able to do it over and over again, does appear daunting. You are going against gravity here, and it hurts! But the pull-up benefits far outweigh the initial inconvenience.

I personally hated pull ups, mainly because I thought I couldnt do them. I also imagined they would make my back and shoulders too bulky for a delicate girls liking, so I avoided them at all costs. Until one day I decided I wouldnt anymore, and behold the magic that started unraveling! I soon began noticing all the benefits and effects of doing pull ups, and the better and better I was getting at them, the more and more they had to give in return.

The truth is, from
this perspective, pull ups are not that hard to do after all. Once you develop
sufficient upper body strength, it is all about practice. Even if you are not
quite ready for a full pull up movement, there are many exercises that may help
you get there soon.

Start, as I did, with negative and jumping pull ups, or do assisted pull ups with the help of a spotter or a resistance band, and slowly and gradually work your way to the full pull up motion. It is also perfectly fine if you cant do 10 unbroken pull ups at the first go. And you shouldnt expect it either. It takes effort and time, but if you want to see and feel the pull-up benefits first hand, embrace that pull up bar. Continue reading to learn more about all the benefits of pull ups and why they should be part of everyones, including yours workout routine.

Pull-up benefits

There are so
many benefits of pull ups that it comes as no surprise that they are considered
one of the most useful exercises out there. The fact that they are undoubtedly
one of the most-widely used upper body workouts speaks for the numerous reasons
why you should start doing them today. Here are some of the top pull-up workout
benefits.

They are convenient

Pull ups are one
of the most convenient exercises to do. It requires no more than a solid
pull-up bar and your own body. You dont even have to go to do gym to do them.
Most outdoor fitness parks have pull up bars which you can use for free or, if
you enjoy exercising at home, you can buy and set up a door mounted pull up bar
in your hallway. At the end of the day, you can pull yourself up on any solid
bar you can find, even the ones in your kids playground.

They are much more
that an upper body exercise

Another one of the great pull-up benefits is that the motion simultaneously works several muscle groups. This makes pull ups a very efficient exercise because with every single pull up you engage your biceps, triceps, wrists, forearms, shoulders, lats and (surprise surprise!) your core.

It means that doing pull ups regularly will not only give you strong and toned arms and back, but you will also end up with a flat and toned stomach. I am already sensing questions like Do pull ups really work the core? And are there pull-up benefits for abs? Yes and yes! Its very simple really. A developed six-back depends on engaging a large number of muscles and requires effective workouts. In order to lift your body on the pull-up bar, you must engage your stomach muscles. The entire motion greatly impacts your core muscle strength and also helps reduce your stomach calories. The result? A nicely toned upper body and a rock solid, flat stomach.

Pull-ups work
wonders for your grip power

You need good
grip strength to start with in order to manage a single pull up, but
incorporating this exercise into your workout routine will get you a long way
in increasing the power of that same grip.

By doing pull
ups you lift your entire body weight while hanging from a bar, which means that
a considerable part of the stress is concentrated on your hands. Just a few
pull ups a day will make your grip much stronger.

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But why is
handgrip strength important? Well, to answer that question, think of the times
when you have struggled with daily chores like opening a jar, lifting a pot off
the stove or turning a door knob.

There are many
variations to the basic pull up

Doing the same exercise over and over again can easily get boring and cause motivation to dwindle. The good news is that the pull up comes with a stock of variations that make it impossible for you to get bored.

Performing A Pull Up

For example, chin ups are best for working out your biceps, the close grip pull ups are most effective for building your lower traps, inner lats and pectorals, while one of the best wide grip pull-up benefits is that they not only contract the lats, which are the largest upper body muscle group, but a variety of other muscles. A combination of all these pull up variations will help you get the most of the workout and that coveted V-taper. The pull-up muscles worked in each variation can vary greatly, so youll get a great body workout.

You can play
with wide grip pull ups, chin ups or close grip pull ups. They are a great way
to stimulate different muscle groups at different levels, increasing your
muscle and strength gains.

And even if you can only perform the assisted pull-up, that is to say a pull-up with the support of a towel of a resistance band, dont despair! One study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics shows that there is sufficient muscle activity in every one of these variations, that makes each a viable exercise for a healthy fitness routine.

They help with weight
loss

Wight loss is
yet another of the pull up benefits. To be honest, doing pull ups cannot
compete with the cardio in the calorie-burning department, but they will
definitely give your heart a good pump and your metabolism a boost. Any form of
exercise increases your metabolic rate, and makes it stay boosted for a given
amount of time after you have finished exercising, which facilitates the fat
loss process.

Pull-ups give you
improved posture and good body proportion

One of the
effects of pull ups is that they strengthen your back and help develop a
straight posture. Strong back muscles mean a more supportive back that is more
resistant to physical stress, which definitely counts among the long-term
benefits of pull ups.

Moreover, they help you create beautiful body lines and a proportional physique, and this goes for both men and women. Contrary to the popular belief that pull ups will make you bulky, which is why many women stay away from them, they wont youll only end up with nice toned lats which will, as an added value, make your waist look smaller. So if you are wondering about the benefits of pull-ups for females, how does a perfectly toned back in an open-back dress sound?

So, to recap, pull-ups offer plenty of benefits:

  • Convenient to perform
  • Help with weight loss
  • Improve grip strength
  • Develop different muscles including your core
  • Fun and never boring
  • Improve your posture and body proportion

How many pull-ups should you do?

Pull Up Benefits

There is no set definition of how many pull ups a day you should do just stick to the basic concept that fewer reps with increased weight will make you stronger and bulky, while a higher number of repetitions will your own weight will develop your endurance and muscular tone. So if you want to get stronger and bulkier, do fewer increased intensity pull ups by wearing a weighted vest or hang a weight to your ankles. If you are interested in greater endurance and carved body, go for a higher number of body weight reps. The pull up does indeed give you limitless options.

All in all, the pull up offers so many benefits that its a real shame not to consider including it in your workout routine. Stronger back and arms, stronger core or a finely toned physique whatever you are after, it is wise to include pull ups into your exercise routine. And you dont have to go strong at first allow yourself time to master the motion and then adjust your training depending on your fitness goals. Youll reap the pull-up benefits in no time!

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5 Tips from a Dietician to Get Started with Plant-Based Eating

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Whether you’re looking to make the move to a vegetarian or vegan diet, or just looking to add more plant-based foods into your diet that also may include animal-based proteins – we can all benefit from eating more plants. We get vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients from plant-based foods and research shows diets rich in these foods improves cardiovascular health, supports a healthy functioning immune system and good gut health, better controls blood sugar levels, and improves brain health!

 

With all these great health benefits, let’s talk through some simple tips for incorporating more plant-based eating into your diet:

 

Start small

 

If you’re new to plant-based eating, you’ve probably got some new habits to master. You’ll be modifying the way you grocery shop, plan, and cook and developing new habits and skills takes time. Rather than completely changing your diet all at once, set some small goals that will help you build toward your end goal.

 

For instance, you could have a Meatless Monday and eat all plant-based for one day of the week to start, or even just pick 1 meal to swap for now. Starting small will allow you to navigate your new habits and adjust as needed as you work to scale up.

 

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Replace meat with a plant-based protein in a meal you already make

 

Rather than starting from scratch with new recipes, adopt meals you’ve already mastered to a plant-based version. For instance, instead of a beef hamburger or beef chili make a bean hamburger or bean based chili. Instead of an egg scramble, make a tofu scramble.

 

Plant-based proteins include lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, soy, tofu, tempeh, edamame, quinoa, nutritional yeast, and spirulina. Keep in mind there will be nutritional differences between an animal protein source and a plant-based protein source and you may need more of the plant-based protein in order to meet your protein needs.

 

Add more plants to your current meals

 

Along the same lines, instead of swapping the protein source, you can simply add more plants to your current meals alongside animal-based proteins. Add extra veggies to your pasta sauce, to scrambled eggs, on a sandwich, in a smoothie, soup, or in a casserole, on a pizza, in stir-fry, or in tacos.

 

Pre-prep plant-based snacks

 

Including more plants in your diet can be accomplished in a number of ways throughout the day. Make eating more plant-based easier by pre-cutting fruits and veggies that you can eat as a snack. Pre-cut bell peppers, cucumbers, mango, and pineapple. Dip veggie slices in hummus or a cashew-based dip.

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Order a plant-based meal at a restaurant

 

Eating more plant-based doesn’t always have to mean cooking at home. Try a vegetarian or vegan restaurant or order a plant-based meal off the menu. Check out ethnic restaurants – many Indian dishes are plant-based. Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants typically have plant-based dishes as well.

 

 

 

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How 3 Moms Use Life Time

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Motherhood can be a challenging world: From work demands and kids’ schedules to household chores and other obligations, there’s a lot to juggle. However, some of the most critical items on that agenda include mom’s efforts to maintain her own health and wellness.

Physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management can often fall by the wayside amid the daily to-dos, but prioritizing them is not only essential for mom to stay healthy, happy, and strong, but it’s also a great opportunity to show kiddos the importance of cultivating healthy habits — while including them in your activities.

Get inspiration from these moms who use our spaces and offerings to support their family’s healthy way of life.

Kellie McLarney

Member at Life Time in Mount Laurel, N.J.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

Honestly, my favorite thing about being at Life Time is the community. It’s like my home; I feel so comfortable there. I love walking in and being greeted by Janelle at the front desk, then taking a yoga class taught by Jaime Marrero. We also really appreciate the Kids Academy team — they’re so great with children, and our kids truly enjoy all the staff there.

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

My family enjoys going to the indoor pool to play and relax together. It’s always so warm, it feels almost as if we’re at a resort on vacation.

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Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

These days, it’s using a silicone insert inside my face mask. I don’t even feel it’s there during class!

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

For sure the yoga classes. That’s when I get my me-time. My favorite is the FLOW format — I leave feeling refreshed and, of course, extra sweaty.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

We’re looking forward to spending the day together as a family at the Jersey Shore.

Idell Brown

Member at Life Time in Florham Park, N.J.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

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My favorite way to work out at Life Time is in the small-group training classes or with a personal trainer. I thrive on working out in a group setting — a little competition never hurt anyone!

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

Family time for us is typically spent at the pool. Lately, after my youngest son finishes his swim class, we’ll have lunch before enjoying family swim for about an hour. I’m sure when the outdoor pool opens for the season that will end up becoming a full day at the pool!

Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

As a full-time working mom of two boys with a husband who works six days a week, the Kids Academy is a genuine lifesaver. I typically take both boys to Kids Academy while I go to my Saturday morning Zumba class, which falls perfectly before naptime. After my class, we have a “picnic style” lunch in the back seats of our car with the trunk open, which the boys love doing now that the weather is getting warmer. On the drive back, both boys fall fast asleep.

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

The Alpha and GTX classes. Both are an amazing way to work out with others, develop perfect form, and build strength and endurance.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

Mother’s Day for me will be sleeping in until 9 or 10 a.m. (my boys are up by 6:30 a.m.!) then having a spa day before meeting up with my family for an earlier dinner. I’m a firm believer in self-care.

Melissa Moore

Member at Life Time in Peoria, Ariz.

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Melissa Moore with her husband and daughter.

What is your favorite thing to do at Life Time?

I love taking the barre and yoga group fitness classes, particularly the SURRENDER format for yoga. The instructors are professional, motivating, and always have great high energy.

How do you and your family spend time together at Life Time?

Most days we drop our daughter, Zoe, off at the Kids Academy. While she’s there, I like to take a barre class and then sit in the whirlpool. On Sundays, we all swim together in either the indoor or outdoor pools.

Do you have a Life Time “hack” you could share?

Always sign up for a class even if it looks full and you get added to the waitlist. Nine times out of 10, I end up making it into the class because of cancellations or no-shows.

What’s your go-to Life Time offering?

The barre and yoga group fitness classes. I love the barre classes in particular because I can get in a great full-body workout in just an hour. I also enjoy getting a massage at the LifeSpa.

What does your ideal Mother’s Day look like this year?

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A day of relaxation at the spa — totally unplugged!

The post How 3 Moms Use Life Time appeared first on Experience Life.

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How to Get Razor-Sharp Abs

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Most guys will tackle their abdominal training with a few sets of sit-ups or some version of crunches. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great start – but if the sides of your waist are soft and covered with fat, crunches may not be enough. Of course, your calorie intake needs to be in control and your diet has to be clean, and you must boost your cardio to drop body fat – but to carve hardness into the sides of your waist, you must target these weaker areas of your abdomen. Lying windshield wipers tighten and strengthen the major muscles on the sides of your waist and the lower part of the abdomen. A few months of lying windshield wipers and a good diet will eliminate any hint of love handles and replace them with razor-sharp abs.

Muscles Used in Lying Windshield Wipers

There are two major muscles and two deeper muscles that are responsible for maintaining the lateral boundaries of your abdomen. The external oblique muscle is the more superficial of the two muscles. This muscle begins on the lower ribs and extends to the hip bones. Small bundles of muscle fibers connect from lateral to medial, in the same direction that your fingers would point if you were to put your hands in your pockets.

When both left and right sides of the external oblique muscles work together, they flex the trunk and move the head toward the feet. When working one side at a time, the muscle flexes the trunk to the opposite side. For example, the right side of the external oblique strongly contracts when you bend or twist to the left side.

The second important muscle is the internal oblique muscle. It sits just deep to the external oblique muscle. The fibers of the internal oblique run around the side of the trunk at right angles to the external oblique muscle, fanning out from the origins and running toward the head (superiorly). It attaches on the lowest three or four ribs, where it becomes continuous with the internal intercostal muscles (respiratory muscles of the rib cage).

Similar to the external oblique muscle, the internal oblique flexes the trunk at the waist and moves the head toward the feet, if both left and right portions contract together. However, unlike the external oblique, if you twist to the right, the right side is most active.

Two other muscles act as abdomen stabilizers during lying windshield wipers. The transversus abdominis muscle helps to pull your abdomen inward. It is the deepest abdominal muscle, beginning on the inner surfaces of the inferior five to six costal cartilages of the ribs, the posterior side of the vertebral column, and also from the iliac crest region of the hip.

The second stabilizer is the iliopsoas muscle. This is a posterior abdominal muscle that consists of two fused muscles. The psoas major is a long and thick muscle that lies beside the thoracic and lumbar vertebral column. The iliacus muscle is a large triangular muscle overlaying the iliac bones of the hip and it lies along the lateral side of the psoas major. The fibers of the iliacus and psoas major combine into a single tendon that attaches near the head of the femur (thigh) bone. The iliopsoas is the most powerful flexor of the thigh at the hip joint. This muscle assists in stabilizing the femur of the thigh during each repetition of windshield wipers.

Windshield Wipers

This exercise targets both the internal and external oblique muscles.

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  1. Place a flat bench under a Smith machine. Lie on the bench in a supine position (face upward). Place the bar at arms’ length above your face and grasp the bar. Your hands are here solely to stabilize your upper body and to prevent you from falling off the bench as you are twisting to one side or the other.

 

  1. Put both feet together. Extend your legs and hips so that there is a straight line from your torso down your legs.

 

  1. Inhale and raise your legs and hips so that they are perpendicular to your torso, with the toes pointed directly upward, straight toward the ceiling.

 

  1. Lower the legs to one side (e.g., to the left), until they are at an angle of about 45 degrees to the floor. Exhale as you lower your legs and try to pull in your abdomen as much as possible.

 

  1. Reverse the movement and inhale as you are coming up to the perpendicular point. Do not stop there. Go slowly to the other side until you have reached an angle of about 45 degrees. Exhale and pull in your abdomen on the way down. Continue to move your legs back and forth like a windshield wiper. Start with 10 reps to each side, but work up to 30. Three sets should be enough to make it feel like a tiger has been gnawing at your sides.

 

You should make an effort to pull the transversus in as much as possible as the legs are going downward. A strong transversus abdominis also acts to stabilize your spine and pelvis when you are lifting heavy weights in squats or rows. The iliopsoas largely acts to stabilize the thigh. You should not go down lower than 45 degrees on each side, because this puts too much strain on the lumbar vertebral discs and any further abdominal benefit is simply not worth risking any injury to your back. You will find that this smaller range of motion will get the job done, without any back risk.

 

References:

Hubley-Kozey CL, Hanada EY, Gordon S, Kozey J and McKeon M. Differences in abdominal muscle activation patterns of younger and older adults performing an asymmetric leg-loading task. PM R, 1: 1004-1013, 2009.

McGill, SM, Karpowicz, A (2009). Exercises for spine stabilization: motion/motor patterns, stability progressions, and clinical technique. Arch Phys Med Rehab, 90, 118-126.

Parfrey, KC, Docherty, D, Workman, RC, & Behm, DG (2008). The effects of different sit- and curl-up positions on activation of abdominal and hip flexor musculature. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 33, 888-895.

Teyhen DS, Williamson JN, Carlson NH, Suttles ST, O'Laughlin SJ, Whittaker JL, Goffar SL and Childs JD. Ultrasound characteristics of the deep abdominal muscles during the active straight leg raise test. Arch Phys Med Rehab, 90: 761-767, 2009.

Teyhen, DS, Rieger, JL, Westrick, RB, Miller, AC, Molloy, JM, & Childs, JD (2008). Changes in deep abdominal muscle thickness during common trunk-strengthening exercises using ultrasound imaging. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 38, 596-605.

Workman, JC, Docherty, D, Parfrey, KC, & Behm, DG (2008). Influence of pelvis position on the activation of abdominal and hip flexor muscles. J Strength Cond Res, 22, 1563-1569.

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