Category Archives for Workouts & Exercises

LATPULLDOWNALTERNATIVE

Lat Pulldown Alternative in 2018

When it comes to building up your upper body strength one of the best gym equipment you can use is the Lat Pulldown. This exercise machine focuses on developing upper body muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and biceps. I have also used this machine to help rehab a shoulder injury that I sustained a couple of years prior. I prefer to read articles on Fitboot which guided me on the appropriate exercises I have done.  

However, I do understand that not everyone can afford to have access to the gym either by financial or time constraints. This is why I will be giving you some great alternatives to the Lat pulldown that you can do within the confines of your own home.

Benefits of Lat Pulldowns

Before we head on to some great alternatives to using the Lat pulldown machine, I would like to first go into further detail about the benefits of doing this exercise. As I have already pointed out earlier, it can help strengthen core upper body muscles. Strengthening the latissimus and bicep helps improve the body’s ability to lift. It can also enhance the flexibility of the elbows and shoulders.

Speaking of shoulders, I used the Lat pulldown and the alternative exercise that to help rehabilitate my injured shoulders. It helped in returning my shoulders back to peak health and to this day I have never encountered any issues with my shoulders.

Lat pulldown exercises not only strengthen your upper body muscles, but it can also help improve your posture. This type of exercise requires proper form and a steady pace. You can’t really rush through this as that is a good way to injure yourself.

Other than strengthening my shoulders, this type of exercise also developed my upper and lower back muscles. Improving the strength conditioning of your upper and lower back muscles is important for athletes who participate in sports. Sports like rowing wherein the arms and back are the two main muscle groups that function will greatly benefit from Lat pulldowns and its alternatives.

Alternatives to the Lat Pulldown

As you already know, Lat pulldown is a machine that is quite common in the gym. It is rather large and is not exactly practical for home use. However, for those who have no access to this machine or mainly workout at home, there is still a way for you to gain the benefits of this machine.

As promised, I will be listing the best Lat pulldown alternatives that you can do without the need for any kind of gym equipment. These exercises can also be done in your own home which should help people who have a rather busy schedule.

  • Chin-Up Exercises

chin up

Let’s start this list with a classic exercise routine. The chin-up is a body weight exercise that follows the same applications as the Lat Pulldown. The main difference is that rather than pulling the weight bar down, you will use your own body weight to pull yourself up.

Performing this exercise only requires that you have a stable point to grapple on that you can use to elevate yourself upwards. You most definitely will find a spot in your home or garage that can act as a chin-up spot.

To do this exercise you need to grab onto the bar with your palms facing you. If you want a challenge, try widening your grip and turn your palms away. You can do 10 to 15 reps for starters and make your way up to higher numbers. This is an incredibly simple yet highly effective exercise that will help promote stronger back muscles.

  • Band-Assisted Chin-Ups

band chin up

Chin-ups can be a difficult exercise to pull off for beginners and for people who lack the proper upper body strength. A good alternative to lessen the body weight is by utilizing a large rubber band. This band can help support your weight slightly which can make chin-ups more manageable. First timers will likely require this extra advantage, as well as women who are just starting to build their upper body strength.

Just make sure that you have secured the band properly onto the chin-up bar. Then, place your foot into the loop and do the chin-ups as usual. This extra upward boost from the band will help you perform chin-ups easier.

  • Reverse Grip Bent Over Rows

reverse grip

You will need to have a handlebar or barbell for this exercise. This type of exercise is one of the best for strengthening your upper back muscles. You can perform this exercise in a variety of ways, each with differing degrees of difficulty. This is another exercise that you can easily do within the comfort of your own home.

You perform this exercise by bending down from the hips and grabbing the barbell. Make sure you start with a weight that you are comfortable with. Once you have a proper grip on the bars, you simply pull it towards your chest using only your arm strength. You need to stay in this bent over position throughout the duration of this exercise. You can also use dumbbells if you don’t have access to a barbell or if you find barbells to be too heavy.

  • Decline Dumbbell Pull Over

dumbell excercise

This exercise focuses on developing your triceps as well as your chest. It also delivers some benefits to your back muscles. You will need to lie down on a reclined bench, however, flat benches will also do fine.

With your upper body at a lower angle, you will take the dumbbell above your head with arms stretched out and steadily raise it upwards at chest height. The steeper the recline the more challenging this exercise gets. For beginners, you can try it out on a flat bench and make sure you maintain your grip on your dumbbell.

  • Single Arm Landmine Rows

single arm 2

Another simple yet highly effective alternative to the Lat pulldown is the Single Arm Landmine Rows. You will need to have access to a barbell to perform this exercise properly. To set up the weight bar properly, you need to place the desired weighted plates on only one side of the bar. You will then grab a hold of this side and in a squatting position with one leg forward for stability, raise it upwards as near to your chest area as possible.

Remember to maintain your squatting position throughout the exercise and only use your arms to raise the weights. This exercise is designed to strengthen your back muscles primarily.

  • Band Pull Apart

band pull

This exercise is an excellent and simple way to improve upper back muscles. You will need to get an exercise band first but the good thing about this exercise is that it can be done anytime and anywhere. There is a common misconception that band pulls apart exercise does not offer the same level of resistance as barbell lifts. However, if you do this properly you will immediately learn that it offers a whole layer of benefits for upper back muscle development.

Another benefit to this exercise, other than being simple to do, is that you can perform in it in three different ways. You can perform the Therapeutic Pull Apart, Muscle Control Pull Apart, or the Slow Temp Pull Apart. Each of these variations are slightly tweak and is done at a varying pace.

Once you have perfected the technique, doing band pull apart is a quick and easy exercise to do that will greatly improve your upper back muscles. If you wish to challenge yourself a bit more, you can get thicker and heavier bands as these offer more resistance.

  • Seated Cable Row

seated cable rows

You can either perform this exercise using the seated cable row machine or by using exercise bands, both will deliver desired results. This exercise focuses on stretching your lats. You start by sitting in a 90-degree angle and grabbing the cables or the band. You will then be pulling it towards your chest area as close as possible.

This exercise will really work your trapezius, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, biceps, forearm flexors, and rear deltoids. You need to make sure that you can feel you back muscles contract with every pull to ensure you are doing it correctly. You should prevent your arms from being pulled. Keep control of the resistance and perform this exercise in a consistent and steady manner.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are other alternative exercises you can do to strengthen your arms and back muscles. While Lat pulldowns are great exercise machines that can deliver results, not everyone has access to this machine. These alternatives offer similar results to the Lat pulldown machines with some you can do anywhere and at any time. Just remember to always follow proper form to make sure that you will get optimum results and prevent injuries.

scapular retraction

Scapular Retraction – Exercise for your Shoulder

The scapular retraction is a movement that focuses on strength and improving the integrity of your shoulder blades. This specific exercise requires you to pull your shoulder blades closer together to the spine while preventing your shoulder from doing an upward motion or a shrug. The opposite of this is called the scapular protraction which requires you to push your shoulder blades away from the spine and forward to your chest area. This basically leaves you with a bad hunched posture. More article from Fitboot to help you achieve your body goals.

Importance of Posture and the Scapula

The scapula is not a muscle but is, in fact, our shoulder blades. It can be found on both sides of your upper back. You can feel it protrude if you place your hand on your upper bag and raise your shoulders. The scapular retraction allows for better posture. You can perform this by lifting your elbows to the side and trying to make them touch each other from the back.

While the shoulder blades are not muscle, they are bones, they are covered with a variety of important muscles like the lats and traps. These muscles that are attached to the scapula allows a wide range of movements that are essential for our own mobility and accomplishing daily activities.

The Benefits of Scapular Retraction

You might be surprised how such a simple movement will give some impressive benefits to the body. Understanding the little intricacies of scapular retraction can help enhance all your upper back exercises by a significant margin.

What the scapular retraction offers is a better mind-muscle connection. This greats in assisting and maximizing the benefits you can achieve from lats and traps focused exercises. This extremely simple exercise will allow better awareness in proper posture when it comes to upper body exercise. And if you were aware of these types of exercises, you know how important proper form is to obtain the best results.

The scapular retraction will also help to improve your form during weight lifting exercises. This form allows your upper body to utilize its full strength when it comes to weight lifting. For example, the opposite of the scapular retraction is protraction. If you use this form when lifting, most of the weight will be placed on your shoulder muscles which are significantly weaker than your chest and upper back muscles.

By using the retracted form, the weight will be evenly spread to your shoulders, chest, and upper back muscles. This makes weightlifting less strenuous on your muscles and lowering the risk of injury. As you can see, understanding this simple yet effective exercise will greatly improve the benefits you will gain from upper back muscle as well as with weight lifting exercises.

The scapular retraction exercise helps improve your overall upper body strength for lifting as well as developing better stability.

Best Scapular Retraction Exercises

For those who wish to improve their scapula as well as their control over their shoulder blades, there are several exercises that you can perform. I will be listing down some of the best scapula retraction exercises that you can do in your home or at the gym.

  •         Seated Cable Rows

excercise

One of the most effective scapular retraction exercises comes in the form of the seated cable row exercise. You will need to have access to the seated cable row exercise machine or, alternatively, you can use exercise bands. Just keep in mind to focus on giving your shoulder blades a good work out by pulling them back together.

  •         Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows

single arm excercise

This exercise has the added benefit of tripping your triceps as well. You only need a dumbbell and a bench to do this exercise. Conduct this exercise in a slow and steady manner to truly give your triceps a good burn. Keep your back straight and focus on lifting the weight using your elbow and not your hand. Pull it upwards until you feel your shoulder blades get a good stretch.

  •         Barbell Rows

barbel rows

If you want to level up the challenge of using a dumbbell then the next logical step would be to use the barbell. Barbell rows utilize the same fundamentals as the dumbbell row. This means you will be using your elbows to lift the barbell while maintaining a straight back throughout the exercise. Using your shoulder blades, you will be lifting the barbell using your elbows and not your biceps to obtain the best results.

Shoulder Instability Causes

Unstable shoulders are a health problem that can lead to many issues as it can hinder our full range of movements. There are several causes of this problem and learning all of these factors will help prevent this from affecting you in the future.

Inactivity

inactivity

As with machines, our body tends to deteriorate if we fail to use it regularly. Unfortunately, the shoulder blade is one of the most often overlooked part of the body. This problem is further worsened by the fact that our scapulae are needed to perform some of the most basic movements.

If we fail to use the scapulae for a prolonged period of time, we will experience a degradation with our range of movements. It might also cause an increased risk of a shoulder injury in the future. This is why it is important not to lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Bad Posture

bad posture

As with the spine, bad posture can lead to problems with our shoulder blades. If you tend to hunch your back a lot, you might be at risk to several problems concerning the scapulae. Standing up straight with your chest out is a good way to prevent these problems. This might take constant reminders but you will benefit greatly from having proper posture at all times.

Over training

over training

Same with being inactive, exercising way past your limits will inevitably cause your muscles to break down. Stay fit but understand where your limits lie. Focus on a full-body workout rather than just picking one specific exercise routine. This is why gym classes have the upper body and leg day schedules.

Getting the Wrong Information

wrong info

It is best to check with a fitness expert when it comes to formulating your exercise plan. There have been cases wherein a person injures his shoulders due to being fed the wrong technique when it comes to their exercises. Basically, don’t just believe anything you hear. Especially if they are not from experts in the field.

How to Test Shoulder Stability?

Checking the current stability of your shoulders is pretty simple. The test you need to conduct is called the Winged Scapula Wall. This test is designed to help you locate your winged scapula. This is the protrusion on your upper back that appears you have some form of scapulae instability.

In order to do this test, you will record yourself with your back facing the camera. Step a few feet away from the wall and stretch your arms toward the wall with your fingers pointing down. Now, place your hands on the surface of the wall at waist height and press your hands to it. If only one of your shoulder blades protrude quite noticeably then there is a high chance that you are suffering from some sort of shoulder instability.

I highly suggest you consult with a doctor to know what steps you should take in order to help return stability to your shoulders. Nipping this at the bud is a great way to prevent serious problems down the road.

Shoulder Blade Stability Exercises

Now, let us go look at some great shoulder mobility exercises that you can do in order to ensure you won’t experience any muscle atrophy in regards to your upper back, chest, and shoulder muscles.

Shoulder Rotation Exercise – This exercise is designed to improve movement and control of your scapulohumeral rhythm. It focuses on rotation at your shoulder joint while also creating a steady rotating rhythm for both shoulders.

Scapulae Step-Ups – This training is great for improving the asymmetrical shoulder motion. It requires one shoulder to retract while the other protracts. If you want to build stable shoulder muscles then you definitely need to incorporate this training into your regimen.

Overhead Wall Rollout – For stability, this exercise will manage to develop your shoulder muscles to provide you with a better range of mobility and lower risk of injury. It also gives your core stability a good amount of workout.

Final Thoughts

While often overlooked, the importance of maintaining the strength and mobility of our shoulder blades or scapulae is essential. This part of the body is necessary in order for us to lift weight and to deliver optimum maneuverability of the upper body. Hopefully, this article has given you a bunch of idea on how to train your shoulders and improve its strength and mobility.

wallsit2

10 Benefits of Sitting Against the Wall

If you are looking to trim your lower body, hips, calves, and thighs but don’t want to go to the gym then the wall sit is the simplest and easiest method you can do to achieve your goals. This exercise might seem simple enough but if this will be your first time doing it can be quite a challenge. This exercise is designed for everyone and will not give your back or knees any undue pressure.

The target here is 20 minutes per day but beginners can start low and work their way up to that goal. It is not only designed to strengthen your leg muscles, but it can also help trim off the fat on your legs and abdomen. In this article, we will be discussing the benefits of doing the wall sit exercise as well as variations of it for those who wish to increase the challenge and boost results. Fitboot has lots of articles that can help you reach your body goals.

Benefits of the Wall Sit Exercise

  1.       Improves Muscle Strength

This exercise focuses on developing leg strength and stability. Not only will help strengthen your leg muscles, but it can also improve your overall stamina. And as you know, our lower body is essential when it comes to building up our overall strength.

  1.       Sharpens your Focus

Wall sits are simple enough but the longer you stay in this pose the harder it gets. Concentrating on maintaining proper pose helps sharpen your focus. The longer you are able to maintain this pose the sharper your focus gets.

  1.       Improves Overall Stamina

As stated earlier, this exercise can help increase your stamina. Try timing your wall to sit daily. After a while, compare how long you were able to maintain this pose at the beginning and how long you can hold it after a couple of weeks or a month. Not only that, but you will also notice that it takes longer for you to tire out with any physical activity.

  1.       Develops your Thigh Muscles

Your legs and thighs will be the ones that benefit most from this exercise. For those who are looking to trim their thighs into something leaner, stronger, and slenderer, the wall sit is the simplest exercise you can do in your own home.

  1.       Improves your Flexibility

The wall sit takes its fundamentals from yoga. Yoga is all about developing a perfect flow and posture. The wall sit can improve posture as you press your back straight against the wall. As you get used to this posture, your body will begin to feel lighter and more flexible. The wall sit may not require much movement, but its benefits include better body mobility.

  1.       Trains you to Concentrate Better

The wall sit requires you to maintain perfectly still and to focus on tightening your abs and moderating your breathing. As such, meditation is one of the key factors during this exercise. Keeping your mind free from clutter will help you maintain this pose longer. I, for one, managed to continuously break my record every session by meditating and working through the fatigue and pain.

  1.       Improves your Stability

Since the entirety of your leg will take the brunt during this exercise, you can expect your balance to improve as time goes on. Lower your hips as far as you can to increase the challenge. You will also notice how light your feet will get and how much improvement your overall balance has become.

  1.       Helps Relieve Stress

Try to include some relaxing music while doing this exercise. In fact, think of it as a form of meditation. Meditation that not only works your mind but also your lower body muscles. I have actually incorporated this exercise in the afternoon along with some relaxing soundtrack and scented humidifier. Nothing beats clearing your mind of stress while also strengthening your body in one go.

  1.       Strengthens your Calves

You can tone your calves quickly if you do wall sits regularly. Stringer calves also mean that you can support heavier weight. In a month or so, expect your calves to feel like it was carved with granite. You will also notice that your legs are able to support more weight without straining too much.

  1.   Trims your Abs

Wall sits require you to focus on your abs as well. You need to tighten your lower abdomen during wall sits which in turn helps burn fat in that area while also developing the muscles. Doing wall sits properly will yield results in a week or so. You will notice your abs starting to tighten. Remember to breathe in and out while doing wall sits and focus on maintaining a compact tummy throughout the exercise.

Proper Posture for Doing the Wall Sit

As with a lot of exercises, proper form and posture are essential to achieving optimum results. While the wall sit is simple, maintaining the pose for a prolonged period of time will take some practice. In order to make sure that you are doing this exercise correctly, remember to maintain a 90-degree angle in relation to your knees and hips.

Your back should be completely flat against the wall. You should also make sure that your soles and heels are flat on the surface of the ground. If you feel a pull around your quadriceps then that means you are doing the wall sit properly. Keep this up for as long as you can. Your goal should be 20 minutes per day but don’t force it right from the get-go.

wallsit1

To further explain how to properly perform this exercise, here is a quick step by step guide:

  1. Press your back against the wall.
  2. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and is 2 feet away from the wall.
  3. Slowly slide your back down, using the wall as support, until you reach a 90-degree angle with your hips and knees.
  4. Adjust your feet so that your ankles are right above the knees.
  5. Hold this position for about 20 seconds to a full minute. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat for at least three times.

If you feel confident enough, you can add another 5 seconds for each session if you feel you are getting stronger. Experiencing some pressure on your quad is normal, however, if you feel pain on your knees I advise you stop the exercise immediately. This is either due to bad form or something else. If pain on your knees persists, consult with your doctor at once.

Modifying the Wall Sit for Beginners

As simple as the wall sit appears, it is still considered an advanced exercise. If you are finding it difficult to do this exercise you can modify it to lend some support while not considerably diminishing the benefits and results. Here are some techniques you can use to make the wall sit slightly easier.

  • Rather than aiming for a 90-degree angle between your hips and knees, start with a 45-degree angle instead. This lightens the weight your quads are supporting while still giving yourself a good workout.
  • Lower the time required to hold this position. Ideally, you should do this exercise between 20 seconds to a full minute three times. But you can start at 5 seconds and slowly work your way up to a minute.
  • The wall slide is a good alternative. It is often used in physical therapy when rehabbing an injury. It places less stress on your quads and knees making it a good jumping off point for beginners.

Variations of the Wall Sit

Using a Stability Ball – Using a stability wall can transform your standard wall sit into a hybrid wall sit and squat exercise. You place the stability ball between your back and the wall. Once secured, you slowly slide down into a 90-degree squatting position and then using your heels, push yourself back to a standing position.

Uni Wall Squat – If you want a little challenge you can try this wall sit variation. Basically, you will require a stability ball and set it up by placing it in between you and the wall. Take two dumbbells for each hand, raise one of your legs, and slowly lower your body down. Make sure both of your legs get an equal workout.

wallsit3

Wall Squat Lat Raise – Of course, wall sits doesn’t need to confine you to a lower body workout only. Next time you perform a wall sit, bring two dumbbells for each hand. Once you have made a 90-degree angle you should bend your elbows and raise the dumbbells to your sides at shoulder height. This is a good exercise for your shoulders and arms.

wallsit4

Conclusion

Wall sit exercise is a relatively simple exercise to perform but takes some time to master. Just remember to always maintain proper form. Some strain in the quad is okay but if you feel pain in your knees you should stop at once. This is an exercise that you can do at your home at any time you want. Try to incorporate it into your daily workout routine as it comes with several benefits not only for the body but also for the mind.