Featured Exercise: 1-Leg Bench Squat

Featured Exercise:  1-Leg Bench Squats

Primary Muscle Groups:  Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes

Secondary Muscle Groups:  Hip Abductors, Hip Adductors

The 1-Leg Bench Squat is a great introduction to the more advanced, 1-Leg Squat.  Able to be performed anywhere there is a chair, bench, or bed, this particular exercise is a great way to make your lower-body exercise routine a little more challenging without adding any extra resistance beyond your own body weight.  In addition to the benefits of the regular squat, the 1-Leg Bench Squat challenges the stabilizing muscles of the knee and hip, improving tracking of the kneecap and helping to avoid conditions such as osteochodritis and patelofemoral syndrome.

Strengthen the leg and hip in a way you’ve never done before!

Instructions:
Standing in front of a bench, flex one hip to 90-degrees so that you are standing on only one leg.  With your foot flat on the floor, hinge the torso forward at the hips and bend the knee and flex the hip, bringing yourself to a seated position on the bench.  Inhale as you come down.  Exhale as you extend your hip and knee, returning to standing position.  Make sure that knee does not come farther forward than the toe and your back stays neutral as you come down to seated position.  Repeat this movement for the required number of repetitions, then switch sides and complete the exercise on the other leg.

Recommendation:Start with 8-10 repetitions on each side.  Perform 2-3 sets.  Discontinue the exercise if it places too much stress on the knee.

Power to the Ordinary

History is littered with ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  What’s stopping you?

How many times have you heard a story of someone rising up from obscurity to achieve some great accomplishment.  Hollywood is inundated with this theme.  Erin Brokovich, Rudy, The Lord of the Rings.  Seemingly ordinary people with no special gifts.  Just a heart for a mission and a spirit of determination.  How are you any different?

I’m currently reading a book called Finding Ultra, the story of Rich Roll, a Stanford swimming prodigy turned alcoholic, turned overweight couch potato who, on his 40th birthday, decides that it is time to make a change.  The story chronicles his rise in a few short years to the top of the endurance sports world.  Starting from a position of being winded just climbing the stairs in his home, and against seemingly insurmountable odds at an age way past his prime, Rich set a goal for himself and set his heart to the task.  No special skills.  Just focus and direction.

So what’s stopping you?  What challenge is on your heart?  What goal can you set to help spurn you to action?  Don’t let the fact that you are “ordinary” keep you from setting a challenge before yourself and actually achieving it.  You don’t need any special skills.  You don’t need any special training.  You already have all that you need inside of you.  You just need to have the courage to set that goal, and make a plan to realize it.  You don’t have to be the next endurance superstar or take down a tyrant corporation (though you can if you want).  Find those desires unique to you and go with it.

Show the world what ordinary can do!

J

Put the Resolve Back in Your Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions.  Everybody has them.  Even the cynical “anti-resolutionists” can’t help pondering the usual questions.  “What can I change this year about myself?”  “What goals did I not reach this past year that I want another shot at?”  And for most people, one of those “non-resolution” resolutions has something to do with physical health.  Maybe it’s to eat less, or possibly to exercise more.  Unfortunately, I think most of our physical health resolutions are plagiarized from last year’s list.  Sure we have the best of intentions.  And we often start strong only to burn out well short of December.  I’m sure there are many reasons for this.  Regardless of these excuses, I would like to offer you 5 simple tips for successful health-related resolutions for the coming year:

1: Set multiple short term goals.  Split your year up into segments (quarters, months, weeks) and set goals for each segment.  This is helpful both for when you are knocking it out of the park or haven’t even gotten off the bench.  For those doing well, it is great motivation to keep it up.  For those failing miserably, it is a great time to refocus without feeling like “what’s the point?”.

2: Keep the goals attainable.  Be reasonable here.  No need to correct 30 years of bad habits in 3 months.  I’m by no means against optimism; but even more important to me is success.  I would rather see you set a goal for yourself that is too easy than to fail at one that only a chosen few could possible reach.  Feeling like you are successful breeds a desire to do more, and feeling like you are never going to reach the mark makes you just want to stop trying.

3: Simplify.  Don’t make your goals overly complicated.  Resist the tendency to try to change too many things at once.  Pick one or two things that are easy to assess.  You may need a complete overhaul in your diet, but start with the easiest changes that will make the biggest impact.  Maybe it’s “no more sodas”, or “less fast food”, or “start an “online personal training program“.  Even one minor change over time can make a major difference.

4: Keep track of your progress.  At regular intervals, reassess your progress.  Maybe that’s weighing yourself once a week or keeping a food journal.  Make it specific to the goal, easy to measure, and WRITE IT DOWN.  That way you can see trends as the year progresses.

5: Share the burden.  Find an accountability partner.  A friend, mentor, personal trainer.  Someone you trust who will be honest, yet encouraging.  Not someone who will enable you and make excuses with you, but someone who will be understanding and will gladly share the journey.   Even better would be someone who has a similar goal they are striving towards.  Then you could meet each other’s needs and lift each other up!

While these tips can work for any area of life improvement, they work especially well for health-related goals because those are usually pretty easy to measure.  And while these are by no means a guarantee for success, they will put you on the best path.  But remember, it is still up to you to take the steps.  Happy Travels!

J

5 Fitness-Related Gift Ideas under $100

So you want to give someone a gift that they will not only enjoy, but will make a positive difference in their physical life.  Here are a few great ideas for some at-home fitness aids that I recommend, most of which will cost you less than a month’s membership at your local gym, listed from least expensive on up (complete with links to the brands I would choose):

1:  Resistance Band Set $30:  They don’t have the money or the space to outfit their garage with a full set of dumbbells?  Give them a set of resistance bands like the one linked here.  Train the whole body with the dozens of exercises available to them, with 7 different resistance levels possible.  A must for increased metabolism and muscle toning, and in a space-saving package!

2:  Stability Ball $30:  Not just for abs, this workout implement can enhance both upper body and lower body training, as well as supply flexibility variations.  Improve neuromuscular coordination while eliminating the need for a workout bench.  Give them an extra challenge to push them to new exercise heights.  Get the 65cm for most men and 55cm for most women.

3:  Pull-up Bar $40:  You no longer need to destroy your doorjamb to get a great back workout.  Not only for pull-ups, this versatile workout tool can enhance your push-ups and ab work as well.  It makes for a great anchor for your resistance tubes too, and paired can even allow you the option of doing assisted pull-ups for those that struggle to crank even one rep out.

4:  Body Weight Trainer $60:  Get all the benefits of the $200 TRX Body Weight Trainer for a fraction of the cost.  Add a functional component to their workouts.  Strengthens shoulder, hip, thigh, and core stabilizers while stressing all the major muscle groups.  This implement hardly takes up any space and is guaranteed to give them a challenge unlike anything they’ve experienced before.

5:  Non-Bouncing Medicine Balls $45-80:  They will work up a sweat while slamming and tossing this tool around.  Or they can use it as a regular, stationary weight to increase the difficulty of body-weight exercises.  Not only will it make their workout more effective, but more fun and varied at the same time.  10-15 pounds for most women, and 20-25 pounds for most men should do the trick.

6 (Bonus):  2 Months of Personal Training $99:  OK.  I couldn’t resist.  The star on top would be a personalized exercise program complete with strength training, flexibility work, cardiovascular training, and a nutrition plan.  Help them put those tools that Santa brought to good use with my help.  Give them a head-start to a new year and a new “them”.

Stuff their stocking with the gift of better health, and don’t break the bank at the same time!  Enjoy!

J

When the Going Gets Tough…

I used to think that if I tried something and I received resistance, or a push-back against accomplishing what I set out to do, that it was somehow a “sign” that it wasn’t the right thing to do.  I think that many of us feel the same way, especially if we set out to on a path that we are not sure is the right one.  The road starts to get bumpy and we immediately start to question whether we made the right choice.  But one important lesson I’ve learned, especially from my adoption experiences, is that the “rightness” of a decision has little or nothing to do with how difficult the result might be.  In fact, I believe that the more difficult the road, the more “right” it really is.  In battle, the closer you get to the enemy the more the bullets start whizzing over your head.  Head in the wrong direction and you’ll probably find the road pretty easy going.  Please be careful when someone tells you “this is an easy way to lose weight”.  Chances are the road is not taking where you really want to go.  Or, “what you’re doing is really hard, and I think God is telling you that you should stop and try something else.”  Standing tall in the face of adversity is a true sign of courage.  Don’t give up.   When the going gets tough, the tough keep going.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

J