Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Anytime, Anywhere: 4 Minimalist Hinge Exercises

 My latest article for BreakingMuscle.com is up and it's all about the hinge! I love bodyweight training, but there's one problem with it - there's no great way to train the hinge. In this article I will detail 4 ways you can effectively train your hinge with just a few resistance bands! Click here to read my latest article! 

- Tim 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Get To Stepping - 2 Stair Set Workouts For Conditioning

 You don't need any expensive equipment, open space, or even great weather to get in an effective conditioning workout. In fact, you can get it done in your own home, apartment, or hotel. All you need is a set of stairs!

 I'm all about a minimalist approach to fitness, and using what's available in your area to your advantage is a part of that approach. Just about every single home will have a set of stairs, why not use those to your advantage? You're not always going to have access to a gym, a track, or equipment. By learning how to use the stairs as a conditioning tool, you'll be eliminating any of those excuses.

  I've been using stair sets for years with clients to elicit outstanding results, and today I'm going to share two of them with you! The methods I'm going to share with you today are not the only way to use stairs for conditioning, they're just a few of the ways I have used them.

 Yes, I know about stair sprints, and so does everyone else! We've all seen Rocky ... so I'm not including them in this.

 The purpose of this post is to get your mind open to the idea of using your stairs for effective conditioning. This way, you'll be able to get in a quality conditioning workout anywhere in the world. Let's take a look at a few different workouts I enjoy.

Fast Feet

It's called fast feet for a reason! This workout is a simple conditioning workout that only involves the use of one step. It's easy, and I often use it with new trainees due to the low difficultly level. That doesn't mean it's not suitable for the experienced trainee! It's going to rev your heart rate up no matter who you are. I enjoy using this after a strength training workout as a finisher.

How it's done ...

- Step up on to the first step, then step down.
- Repeat this as quickly as possible for 20 seconds
- Rest for 10 seconds
- Repeat this 8x
- Each round alternate the foot your using to step up

The goal is to step up and down as fast as you can, and I do mean FAST! Then rest for 10 seconds before repeating. If you have a railing to hold onto during this workout DO IT! If you slip while you're taking a step it will help prevent you from falling on your face!

Variations ...

- 30 seconds of work/30 seconds 4-8x

The Pilgrimage To Pai Mei's

 In old Kung Fu movies, and the Kill Bill series, Pai Mei was a cruel kung fu master who lived on the top of a tall mountain. The only way to make it to Pai Mei, was to walk up a massive stair set ... only to get your ass kicked at the top. This workout is a much slower form of conditioning, but it's fantastic and basic. I use a stair well for this workout, but home stairs will due as well! Longer stair sets (10 - 20) are best, but short sets can work as well. It's going to be a grind, but if done correctly it will have you breathing hard in a short amount of time.

How it's done ...

- You'll start at the bottom of the stairs
- Walk with purpose, full extension of the knee and hip at the top of each step, squeezing the glutes
- Once you reach the top of the flight of stairs, perform 5-10 face the wall squats (posture squats) at a pace of 4 seconds down, 4 seconds up
- Walk up the next flight of stairs (or if at home, walk down the stairs briskly and then back up them with purpose)
- Reach the top of that flight of stairs and perform 5-10 face the wall squats
- Repeat this sequence over and over for 10-20 mins without stopping

 This can be done with a smaller set of steps (5-6 steps) but I would suggest walking up them, back down, then back up, before performing the squats. This could also be done with step as well, step up and then back down on the one step 10 - 20 times before performing your squats. You could also vary the exercises, you don't need to only perform squats. Push ups, chin ups, and lunges, would also be suitable.

Variations ...

- Add a weight vest
- Use a resistance band for added weight during squats

 - Tim


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Best Bodyweight Exercise You're Not Doing!

 I'm often asked about lower body exercises to use in a minimalist/bodyweight training program. Most people have an idea of basic squats and lunges, they may even have an idea of a few progressions to make each of those harder or easier ... but that's about it! While squats and lunges are a great place to start, and they do have their place, they're certainly not the only exercises available for building lower body strength on a minimalist training program! One EXCELLENT exercise that you can add to your training program, starting to day, is ...

The Hip Thruster! 

  For a variety of reasons, the hip thruster is an exercise that has become a staple in most of my programs. First off, the hip thruster improves stability and athleticism. 

 The hip thruster helps develop glute strength (specifically glute max) and hip drive. The glutes play an integral roll in all athletics, core strength, as well as stabilizing the hips and lower back! In fact, glute inactivity (glute amnesia) is a common cause of lower back issues for many people! Having strong and functional glutes is a must for anyone, regardless of whether or not you're an athlete or office worker. Along with squats and lunges, the hip thruster is a terrific exercise to do just that! 

 Hip drive is important in just about any athletics, the ability to drive forward and explode from the hips is a must in any sport. The hip thruster can help improve your hip drive, which will translate well to things such as faster sprinting speeds! Hip drive and thrust is also important at home ... in the bedroom ... with your partner. If you catch my drift! 

  The hip thruster is an excellent functional movement, but in terms of aesthetics, it's also fantastic for developing a great looking butt! I say it all the time, the beautiful looking body is a by product of your functional fitness and diet. There's no need to put aesthetics over function. Functional movements will help provide you with the aesthetics you desire, along with the ability to move well during everyday life or athletics! The hip thruster is a great example of this. 

How To Hip Thrust

 Finding a set up to hip thrust isn't hard, you can do it just about anywhere! This is just another reason I enjoy it. In the video I'm using my living room couch, but you can use anything from chairs, gym benches, park benches, picnic tables, or even tree stumps/logs to lay your upper back across. The possibilities  are endless, be creative and you'll find something to use. 

 Tips When setting up the hip thruster ... 

- The bench rests just under your shoulder blades
- Weight is placed through the heels (not the toes)
- Keep the knees from caving inward
- Neck remains neutral throughout the movement, don't tuck your chin at the top
- Glutes should remain tense throughout the movement. Think of them pulling you down and pressing you upward.
-  The glutes should be squeezed hard at the top of the movement
- Your shins should run vertical at the top of the movement, not on an angle. 

In the  video below I demonstrate (along with my assistant) 3 hip thruster variations. They're placed in order of difficulty, the easiest comes first. If  the first one is too difficult for you I suggest getting comfortable with glute bridges first and then move onto hip thrusters. Now, take a look at the video and get those hip thrusters into your bodyweight training program! 

- Tim