You’ve probably seen these pieces of exercise equipment around somewhere – at the gym, in the store, passing a boot camp class, or you may even have one of these lying around at home – but you have no idea what to actually do with it! So let us give you the run down.
If you’ve never used one of these babies before, you’re missing out. Fantastic as a warm-up, or even better used after a workout to help release muscle tightness and loosen kinks and knots. A foam roller basically uses your own bodyweight to apply pressure to specific muscles – like a self-massage!
A movement that I love to do really works into your quads. Especially good after some serious squats and lunges! Lie face down on the floor and place the roller under your hips. Place your hands under your shoulders like you’re going to do a push-up. Now slowly roll up and down from your hip to your knee, so the roller really works into those quads.
Kettlebells are a versatile piece of equipment that can give you an amazing cardio and strength workout at the same time – anything that saves time at the gym is a plus! But how the heck do you use this thing!? The basic kettlebell swing involves swinging the bell from the ground out in front of you to shoulder height and back down again. But because this, and many kettlebell exercises involve swinging movements, it’s super important that your back is positioned correctly (which is called a neutral spine) so that your hips, not your back, absorb the force of the kettlebell.
Resistance bands are basically massive rubber bands that come in different colours (which indicate different strengths) that are great for strength training and also stretching. For a strength exercise you can try the standing bicep curl. For easier resistance, stand with one foot forward on the band and grab the band with each hand (so you have an upside triangle shape). Starting with your arms down at your sides, palms facing up, pull your arms toward your shoulders by bending at the elbow until you get a good bicep curl. Slowly lower back down. The great thing with these bands is if that workout was too easy, you can easily increase the resistance by shortening the band – so instead of only standing on the band with one foot, place both feet in the band shoulder-width apart, so now you’re making a square shape and repeat the bicep curl. Not as easy now is it!
Exercise balls are great for building your core strength, as you’re forced to engage your abdominal muscles and back muscles to literally stay on the ball, this improves balance and builds strength. In general, use a fitness ball sized so that your knees are at a right angle when you sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. To do abdominal crunches with a fitness ball, sit on the ball with your feet resting on the floor, about hip-width apart. Keep your back straight. Cross your arms on your chest. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Slowly lean back, until you feel the muscles in your midsection tighten, hold and return to the start position and repeat.
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