Some Of The Best Home Exercises To Start Doing

Anyone who likes to workout is always on the lookout for a new exercise to try. The following list includes some of the best home exercises for you to try. There are literally hundreds of exercises you potentially could choose. The following six are just a few of what we consider to be the best home exercises. The only thing needed with this group is your bodyweight or one piece of equipment. In addition, these exercises won’t break the bank and all work as a (low cost) workout option. Use the Jefit app, recently names best fitness app by Men’s Health, PC Magazine and Healthline, when planning and tracking your strength workouts.

Three Great Bodyweight Exercises

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T Push-Up

The T Push-up is an excellent progression to move to when you’ve exhausted other push-up variations. It is basically, a traditional push-up that transitions to an extended arm side plank. This particular variation places more load on the wrist, shoulder and core (obliques) than a regular push-up. As a result, you get much more bang for your buck. The exercise is a perfect choice for any bodyweight workout or circuit where you’re trying to utilize as much muscle as possible. The Jefit app offers this exercise in its database under push-up to side plank.

Box Jump

Any type of jumping is great to add to a workout. It can come in the form of single or double leg hops as part of a dynamic warm-up or more involved like split jumps or box jumps. In regard to box jumps, a 18-20″ plyo box or platform usually works best depending on of course on training experience. Box jumps work every muscle in the lower extremity allowing the hips and legs to train using triple extension. This is where the ankles, knees and hips are slightly flexed before jumping, followed immediately by an explosive extension using the same muscle groups.

Think about any explosive Olympic lift for a moment…that’s right, they all involve triple extension. One of the cool things is this can carry-over to basically every sport-specific movement.

Burpee

A burpee is a full body exercise that requires a great deal of flexibility, mobility and strength to perform. It is also one of the best home exercises to add to any workout. If technique is in question, try doing them initially in “slow motion.” Basically, break the exercise down into segments and see how you manage this before progressing to a faster pace. Keep the core engaged throughout the exercise.

The great thing is, you can eventually progress to adding in movements, like a push-up, as your technique improves. One area that many have trouble with is keeping the body rigid as they jump back into a plank or what some call a push-up position. You need to stick this part. Prevent your low back from “sagging” and your butt should not end up higher than the rest of your body. Keep a straight line through the knee, hip and shoulder. Think about staying as straight and solid as a board. If you need a regression, try a mountain climber first and see how you do with this exercise, which can also be found in the Jefit database. You can make a burpee a customized exercise in the Jefit app.

Three Minimal Equipment Exercises to Try

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Band Exercise(s)

More specifically, we’re talking about small band work used for side stepping, monster walks, back-peddling, etc. You can choose. Everyday life and many of the movements performed in the gym are typically repeated in the same planes of motion. Life and movement, like walking, stair-climbing is done in a linear fashion. When is the last time you performed side stepping on your leg day? This type of movement falls under the often neglected frontal plane. A good weekly workout should incorporate movement targeting all planes of motion.

To begin, place a small rubber band (from either Amazon, Perform Better or Power Systems) around your ankles or above the knees. Maintain a slight bend in the knees, with core engaged and toes pointed straight ahead at all times. Next, perform a side stepping movement for 10-15 yards and return in the opposite direction. This movement is ideal for firing up your hip abductors like glute medius. This area is usually weak or dysfunctional when it comes to most adults. The best way to incorporate these types of movement is to make them part of your dynamic warm-up.

Jumping Rope

This is considered one of the best and most effective exercises you can do at home (or when traveling or at the gym for that matter). A few minutes of jumping rope elevates respiration and heart rate, and strengthens the lower leg while burning maximum calories in minimal time. One study, in The Research Quarterly, found that 10-minutes a day of jumping rope was as efficient as 30-minutes a day of jogging when looking to improve cardiovascular efficiency. Add it to your workout as either part of a warm-up or as a component in a HIIT or circuit program. Build up your duration or number of toe taps over time.

Goblet Squat

Another great, functional movement that requires minimal equipment is a Goblet Squat. Typically performed with a kettlebell, dumbbell or a weight plate. This a great exercise if you have been doing barbell squats for a while. A Goblet Squat requires you to go below parallel. Meaning, if the mobility is there, the knees will be higher than the hips at the end of the movement. You’ll end up looking like a catcher playing baseball. Keep the weight close to your body throughout and elbows pointed down.

The six exercises mentioned here would be a welcome addition to any home exercise routine. Even better, add all six of them when you build your next Jefit interval-based workout. Perform 30-seconds of each exercise to start and build up your duration over time.

Add These Exercises to a Jefit Workout

The award-winning Jefit app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

Do Benefits of Exercise Get Lost Sitting Too Much?

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Research has demonstrated often that sitting too much is bad for us. Individuals who sit ten or more hours a day are at greater risk of premature death. Too much sitting can cause a host of health problems especially if exercise is absent.

We have all heard that sitting for extended periods of time can take years away from our lives. New scientific research has backed this up and now sitting for long periods of time has been linked to various forms of cancer.

A large meta-analysis was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute looking at 43 observational studies with approximately 69,000 cancer cases. The study reported the lowest and highest “sedentary time” in subjects and concluded higher sedentary times were associated with an “increased risks of certain types of cancer.” The researchers found “sitting is associated with a 24 percent increased risk of colon cancer, a 32 percent increased risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21 percent increased risk of lung cancer.” The good new, however, is only 30 to 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day “substantially weakens this risk”. Time to start standing and moving more!

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

Edward Stanley, 1873.

Four Tips if You are Sitting Too Much

Assuming the above statement is true, then how can we add more activity into our daily routine to help us add more years to our lives rather than the other way around? Here are four easy ways to get you started.

1. Use a Pedometer. Research has shown repeatedly that people who walk more during the day are thinner than those who don’t walk as much. Pedometer users take approximately 40 percent more steps throughout the day than non-pedometer wearers. Build up to a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Keep in mind there is no magic number here. The research shows anywhere between 8,000 to 12,000 steps a day is optimal for health and keeping your bodyweight in check.

2. Increase Office Activity. When you need to make or take a call, do it standing preferably while walking outside; make it a walking conference call. Always take the stairs rather than use an elevator. Hard to imagine but the worldwide average for using the stairs is only 5 percent. Get out for a 15-minute walk at lunch time. If possible, get a walking treadmill desk, standing desk etc. You get the idea.

3. Turn Sunday into a Funday. This of course could be any weekend day. Have a predetermined plan and schedule an activity that is done with family or friends. Get together for a hike, a long bike ride, walk/run, stadium stair climb, run a road race together, kayak/SUP trip, etc.

4. Take a Short Walk After Dinner. This can be a big one for paying back strong health dividends. Research shows, a short 15-20 minute walk following dinner can improve digestion, decrease stress level, regulate blood sugar (great after a high carb meal), and improve sleep.

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Additional Research on Sitting Too Much

A great reference for me lately has been the new book, “Exercised” by Harvard University researcher, Dr. Daniel Lieberman. He has a ton of health and fitness information in the book that is heavily referenced with some great longitudinal studies. According to Lieberman there is a lot of hyperbole out there with respect to research on sitting. He goes on to say, however, that there also well-publicized studies that have determined “sitting more than three hours a day is responsible for nearly 4 percent of death worldwide.” In addition, “replacing an hour or two of daily sitting with light activities like walking can lower death rates by 20 to 40 percent”.

Dr. Lieberman looks at three main concerns with too much sitting. First, when we spend 9-12 hours a day sitting, we could be using more of that time standing and adding more physical activity into our day. Second, long periods of “uninterrupted inactivity elevate levels of sugar and fat in the bloodstream”. Finally, his third concern is the most alarming, hours of too much sitting could “trigger our immune systems to attack our bodies through a process known as inflammation”. Keep in mind this is one of the more important reasons for strength training beyond building and maintaining muscle mass as we age. Muscle makes up about a third of of the body and lean muscle mass “has potent anti-inflammatory effects”. Just one more reason why EVERYONE should be committed to regular strength training.

Hopefully, reading a few of these statistics will help to change your mindset and get you moving a little bit more. I’m going to stand up now, how about you? Stay active and be safe.

Try the Jefit App to Increase Your Activity

The award-winning Jefit app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.

5 Useful Health & Fitness Products Now and After the Pandemic

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Hard to imagine but we’ll soon be ending a year of dealing with this tragic pandemic. One of the by-product of this is we’re more motivated to work at staying healthy and strong for 2021. The following list of health & fitness products will shed some light on a few additional ways to stay fit this year.

One of the more important areas where many need help is with nutrition. Healthy eating during stressful times has a tendency to go out the window. When the body gets stressed, a hormone known as cortisol is released. “Cortisol shunts sugar and fats into our bloodstream” and as a result, makes us crave sugar and fat-rich foods. Now you understand why you get cravings for sweets or junk food. Cortisol is important because it’s needed to regulate metabolism while helping the body to also manage stress.

This hormone, known as the stress hormone, “directs us to store visceral fat rather than subcutaneous fat” according to Professor Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University and author of the new book, “Exercised”. A little cortisol in the body is normal. Chronic low levels of it, however, “are damaging because they promote obesity and chronic inflammation”.

Give More Attention to Nutrition

Over the past year, eating poorly, less exercise, minimal sleep, and feeling stressed-out, have become the new norm. After almost a year of dealing with with the pandemic, and everything that comes with it, we are starting to witness changes in our body. Both physical and mental changes that are just a few of the many by-products via the pandemic.

One of the best ways to help yourself with all of this is to get your diet under control. You can do this by starting to record what you eat. Do this for 5-7 days and include a weekend. Be honest with your food tracking. Use one of the many nutrition apps on the market to help analyze your macronutrient intake. You may be surprised at what you’re actually eating. This can act as a first step to begin to get things under control. Make sure you take a look at your daily added sugar intake while you’re at it. Here are some suggestions to help get you started: Myfitnesspal, LoseIt, Lifesum, MyPlate and Fooducate. These are five of the better health & fitness products when it comes to nutrition apps.

In addition, think about moving to a plant-based diet or a better way of eating, like following a Mediterranean diet, can end up being good for overall health. They each come with a ton of research showing this type of eating can, among other things, bolster your immune system. Lastly, work on adding more fruit & vegetables to your diet, in case you’re not interested in the diets mentioned above. It is a great, inexpensive way, to increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically, more Vitamin A, B12, B9, Vitamin C, D, and zinc. A pill or a handful of vitamins will not have the same effect.

Some of the Best Health & Fitness Products – Meditation Apps

Find time to engage in this because it will undoubtedly help to manage your stress. Honestly, it’s one of the best health & fitness items on our list. Finding even a few minutes a day to shut things down to “reboot” and “reset” via meditation will do wonders for your overall health. There are many meditation apps you can download to your phone, two of the best ones are Headspace and Calm. They are both great as an introduction into the therapeutic world of meditation.

Another side avenue to explore is listening to a good podcast during your walk or run outside. Millions of people already know that a good podcast is a great way to create “headspace” not to mention, it keeps the listener informed on topics of interest. For me, listening to “The Daily” published by the New York Times, fits the bill.

Add Bouts of Weekly Recovery

Restoration or “recovery” is needed just as much as a vigorous workout, especially if you’re training hard or a bit older. Recovery can mean different things to different people, but basically the goal is to commit time each day to work on restoring your body. It may come in the form of foam rolling pre/post workout, a therapeutic massage, cryotherapy, or maybe a myofascial release session from a qualified physical therapist. Maybe it’s as simple as having a good old fashion foot soak with epsom salt for 30-minutes one evening to treat your neglected feet. When is the last time you did that? The body also benefits from a good stretch or mobility session. Try an online yoga class or something totally out of your realm to help restore your body. You get the idea. Now is the best time to work on self-betterment.

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Exercise Outside: Solvitur Ambulando

We are probably all sitting a little too much these past few months. Make time to get out and exercise. “The total time Americans spend sitting has increased 43 percent between 1965 and 2009”. One of my favorite and most used apps on my phone is called All Trails. It shows the best spots to hike, bike or run – no matter where you’re located or traveling in the U. S. – check it out and find a great course or trail that you never tried in your area. It is also perfect to use when you’re not really familiar with the area while on vacation or away on a business trip. Remember, solvitur ambulando, meaning, it is cured with walking.

Use Jefit App to Track & Assess Your Workouts and More

The award-winning Jefit app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts to shake things up a bit. Stay strong with Jefit.

We hope by incorporating some of these options into your lifestyle, they in turn, end up helping you on multiple levels (i.e. improving mind/body/spirit). For the most part our list of health & fitness products are inexpensive ways to improve the way you look and feel.

Reference

Lieberman, D., Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Pantheon Books: New York, 2020.

Strong, Functional Hips: A Must for an Active Lifestyle

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Strong, functional hips are beneficial both in and out of the gym. Powerful hips are the driving force that connects a strong upper and lower body. The hip is considered the most powerful joint in the body because of all the musculature needed to function properly. If the hips are not functional they will hinder the body and end up producing less force in compound movements. Think about how less efficient you will be if your hips are weak or dysfunctional. Everything from performing squats and deadlifts to holding a yoga pose will be negatively affected. According to Michael Reiman, PT and his colleagues, as stated in the International Journal Sports Physical Therapy, “Restricted (hip) mobility can consequently have deleterious effects not only at the involved joint but throughout the entire kinetic chain”.

What Movements do the Hips Perform?

The hip joint is your basic ball-in-socket joint that allows movement in three degrees of freedom. Strong, functional hips, are developed over time using these seven movements:

  • Flexion
  • Extension
  • Abduction
  • Adduction
  • Circumduction (Rotation)
  • Internal Rotation
  • External Rotation

A Hip Dynamic Warm-up is Extremely Beneficial

One of the big injury culprits in todays society is inactivity, which includes the big one, sitting too much. Daniel Lieberman, PhD, a Harvard University evolutionary biologist, reports in his new book, Exercised, that the average American adult is inactive 55-75 percent of the day. One way to offset this inactivity is with regular, focused movement, that incorporates the seven areas of movement mentioned above. Therefore, adding 15-minutes of dynamic warm-up prior to exercise is a great start. This will help develop strong, functional hips. Here is a quick dynamic warm-up you can try before your next Jefit strength workout.

  1. High Knee Marching or Running (to target hip flexion).
  2. Standing Hip Extension (hip extension).
  3. Standing Side Leg Swings (hip abduction/adduction). Runners love this one.
  4. Supine or Standing Knee Circles (rotation).
  5. Moving Side Step-Over (internal/external rotation).

Perform (#1 & 5 above) for 10-15 yards each. The remaining ones can be done for repetition or time. Change up the direction as you progress, meaning perform forward/backward etc. As with the first one, High Knee Marching, one day move forward and the next, try to perform it as you walk backward.

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Major Muscle Groups Used to Move the Hip

  • Flexion: Iliopsoas group (iliacus and psoas major).
  • Extension: Gluteus maximus.
  • Abduction: Gluteus medius and minimus.
  • Adduction: Adductor brevis, longus, and magnus along with pectineus and gracilis.
  • Rotation: Lateral rotator group of muscles including the biceps femoris, sartorius, and gluteus medius and minimus.
  • External Rotation: Gemellus superior and inferior, obturator internus and externus, quadratus femoris and finally, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.
  • Internal Rotation: Tensor fasciae latae (outer hip) parts of the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus (upper buttocks) the adductor longus, brevis, and magnus (inner thigh) and finally, the pectineus (upper frontal thigh).

Effective Hip Exercises

This list of hip exercises are in no specific order. The first ten are performed as bodyweight exercises. You can progress to carrying a load. The second ten are some of the better strength training exercises. What are your favorite exercises on this list? What exercises do you see great results with that did not make our list? Again, these are not the BEST, just a few that came to mind first.

  1. Multi-directional Lunges (forward, reverse, side)
  2. Step-ups
  3. SLRD (single-leg Romanian Deadlift)
  4. Plyo Box Jumps (single & double le)
  5. Explosive jumps (broad jump, star jumps etc.)
  6. Child Pose (yoga)
  7. Pidgeon Pose (yoga)
  8. Bodyweight Squat (regular & deep)
  9. Medicine Ball Squat to Explosive Push
  10. Side-Lying Hip Abduction
  11. Traditional Squat – Front/Back – (barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell)
  12. Kettlebell Hip Thrust
  13. Wide-Stance Squat (progress to below parallel)
  14. Sumo Squat
  15. Goblet Squat
  16. Barbell Hip Thrust
  17. Bulgarian Split Squat
  18. Deadlift
  19. Kettlebell Swing
  20. Walking Lunges (barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell)

*Bonus: Monster Walks (using a band) and Band Side Step

Get Strong with Jefit

The award-winning Jefit app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Three Helpful Tips When Recovering From An Injury

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Many of us have already been there, with respect to an injury. If not, the odds are you will probably be there at some point; recovering from an injury. It comes with the territory of working out.

The National Health Statistics Reports reported 8.6 million sports injuries, a rate of 34.1 per 1,000 individuals. A second report by the National Safety Council Injury Facts noted 44.5 million injuries in the United States. This past year, the number for exercise-related injuries alone were approximately 500,000; while biking and basketball reported more than 400,000 injuries apiece.

The odds are pretty high that you’ll probably have to deal with an exercise or sports-related injury at some point during your lifetime. The best exercise advice, post injury, is to “just do it” building-up slowly with your exercise duration and intensity. If you’re thinking about taking an exercise class or participating in small group training, beware of the tendency to push a little harder and go beyond your normal limits when working out with others. Avoid the urge to “show off” due to the group dynamic and instead work within your own abilities.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind whenever you get laid up and are dealing with an injury.

The Psychological Toll May Be Greater Than Initially Realize

If an injury progresses from short-term to a chronic issue, you may be effected psychologically more than you realize. You may even experience a bout of mild depression because you are no longer able to reap the “feel good” benefits of daily exercise like you did prior to injury. This could eventually take its toll on your mind, body and spirit. If this is the case, you may want to talk to someone with a medical background. Other possible suggestions that may help are yoga or daily meditation. Remember, “we become what we think about.” Injuries also have the potential to increase stress levels (like cortisol) in our body and the options mentioned here, may be just what the doctor ordered during the recovery process.

Reduced Physical Activity Means Nutritional Modification

This is a must do. When recovering from an injury, your daily activity level decreases. You will no longer expend the same amount of calories as you did previously and consequently, need to eat less. Be cognizant of the fact that if you continue to consume the amount of calories you were eating pre-injury, you most likely will experience an increase in body weight. Talk about another added stress! You are no longer creating a negative deficit or maintaining a “balance” regarding calories in versus calories out. As an example, your number of steps may decrease from an active 10-12,000 steps a day to a sedentary 3,500 steps following a foot injury. If caloric intake is not monitored – you guessed it – an increase in body weight will occur.

Again, this comes down to the type of injury and if you’re totally sedentary or able to do some type of activity. An idea may be to keep a food journal for a few days to look at what you’re consuming. Also, try using an app in order to offer better insight into your nutritional intake. I typically recommended using MyFitnessPal app. This is a very helpful app that offers insightful metrics in respect to what your eating. It also has a great barcode scanner that can take pictures of food or drink products. Finally, it is equipped with a chart showing macro and micronutrient breakdown of meals and snacks. Personally, I like it because it makes life much easier when it comes to monitoring both overall calories and daily sugar consumption.

Find an Alternative Form of Exercise When Recovering From An Injury

The location of your injury will ultimately dictate what you can and cannot do. A foot injury, for example, may allow you to get back into biking or to do some pool therapy.

You can also check out an ElliptiGO SUB (stand-up bike), a cool, fun to use, product that I highly recommend. One of the great things about the SUB is it burns 33 percent more calories than a traditional bike and will avoid any low-back or neck pain typically found using a traditional bike. How about doing more SUB and SUP if you’re able during the recovery process? Two great full-body workouts that burn maximal calories in minimal time without loading the body like other activities.

There are a multitude of factors that can lead to an injury. When you’re recovering from an injury, think about the root cause of your injury and become more mindful of the exercise equipment you’re using. Take a look at what you’re wearing when you workout, for example, are the bottom of your sneakers worn away? Maybe you have logged 500-600 miles in them already? This will change the way you strike the ground not to mention your gait.

In addition, think about being more preventative by adding “pre-hab” exercises to your workout. Always make time to warm-up your body prior to any type of exercise. Finally, adding more restorative work like massage and mobility while paying more attention to post-recovery diet, may also help your cause. Keep your body injury free by becoming strong with Jefit.

Stay Strong With The Jefit App

Join the more than nine million members who’ve had great success using the Jefit app. The award-winning app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Often Neglected But So Important: Grip Strength

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Adequate grip strength is important not only for strength training but also for life. It’s true! There are many longitudinal studies that have looked at grip strength and mortality. The results all come to the same conclusion.

“Grip strength is a simple but powerful predictor of future disability, morbidity, and mortality. The relation between grip strength and future mortality has been shown often. Not only in older people but also in middle-aged and young people. The evidence has been summarized in systematic reviews and in a meta-analysis.”

The Lancet,(2015)

Hand strength is typically used as a measure of overall strength is research. In part, because it’s quick, easy to administer, and extremely cost effective. The association between grip strength and mortality is often used to underscore the importance of resistance exercise.

Ten of the Better Exercises for Improving Grip Strength

Any exercise that requires holding a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, or bodyweight, will develop hand and arm strength to some extent. There are certain exercises, however, that are better than others if you’re looking to getting stronger in this area. The first exercise that comes to mind is loaded carry. Here are just a few of the many great exercises you can try:

  • Loaded Carry – This is where you walk with either dumbbells, kettlebells, Hex bar or plates in each hand for time or a specific distance. A suitcase carry is where you load only one side of the body like carrying a suitcase. Ideal for developing full body strength but especially your grip.
  • Plate Pinch – Performed as the name implies. Pick up and hold weight plates in one or both hands for a specific amount of time. Progress from one to two smaller plates before moving to heavier Olympic style plates.
  • Deadlift – Perform as shown in the Jefit photo via the link.
  • Fat Bar Reverse Curl – As the name implies. A thicker bar will recruit more of the muscles in the lower arm that are so important in order to build strength in the four layers of muscles that make up your forearm.
  • Pull-ups/Chin-ups with a towel – When you need to progress from traditional pull-ups or chin-ups, try performing both with a towel hanging over the bar while grasping both ends with your hands. From here you could then progress to a weighted version of both exercises.
  • Sled Pulls – Once again, using a rope or towel. Similar set-up as above but your just pulling in a different direction getting to use that strong, lower extremity of yours.
  • Barbell Finger Rolls – A nice variation to the Plate Pinch, this is where you pick up a heavy plate in each hand. Next, let your fingers slowly extend, lowering the plates toward the floor. Finally, flex the fingers pulling the plates back into the hand. You can progress to a Carry while you do this.
  • Sorinex Gripper – An old Strongman exercise – seen in action here: Grip product
  • Dead Hang – Perform off a pull-up bar for sets of 30/45/60 second – using both arms and eventually progress to making it happen with a single arm. This is great for improving grip strength.
  • Dumbbell Head Grab – A personal favorite of mine. Place two smaller size dumbbells on their sides so one head is facing up. Take hold of the heads with a fully open grip lifting both dumbbells of the floor and hold for 30-seconds. If you have been working out for a while try doing this with either a 35-40 pounds dumbbell for sets of 20-30 seconds. As with some of the other exercises, progress by moving from a standing position to a walk, to squatting or lunging. Enjoy!

Get Strong with Jefit

Join the more than nine million members who’ve had great success using the Jefit app. The award-winning app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Do This Quick Warm-up Before Strength Training

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There is not a person on this planet who does not want to improve their training output in the gym. Many people typically do just a few quick stretches or repetitions of the upcoming exercise and that’s it. A specific warm-up preceding strength training – geared towards individual needs – improves how your body feels and moves in a workout. Period. This so-called warm-up box should always be checked prior to any strength training session. If you want to get more out of the workout that is.

The key is to first find what works for your body. Some gym-goers require an easy dynamic warm-up to break a sweat, while another responds to targeted mobility work. This in turn, opens up tight, restricted muscle and connective tissue. Sometimes a few warm-up sets prior to lifting just doesn’t do the trick. The following sequence is great to do before any strength or cardio workout. It is specifically targeted to prepare the thoracic spine, commonly referred to as the T-spine, for the upcoming workout.

The majority of Americans, both young and old, spend hours each day sitting. As a result, muscles shorten and connective tissue (fascia) becomes restrictive. A quick mobility series like this one will increase blood flow to these areas and as a result you’ll feel, move and lift better in the workout.

Try This Warm-up Before Strength Training

Take a pair of tennis balls and either tape them together with electrical tape or place them in a sock and tie off the end. There is also a product you can purchase called a peanut that will also work nicely. The idea is to place the tennis balls in contact with your back. Each of the tennis balls end up on the left and right sides of your erector spinae muscles away from your spine. Then lie down on it. Begin at the first thoracic vertebrae below the seventh cervical, where when you flex your neck you can feel the “bump” and slowly move (“roll”) down towards your lumbar spine. Spend about 30-45 seconds manipulating the tennis balls into the muscle before moving down 1-2 inches. There are twelve thoracic vertebrae so you will need to reposition your body that many times. View the the following Instagram clip to see how to correctly position your body and perform the exercise.

Easy 3-Step Thoracic Mobility Series

After you spend a few minutes having fun with your tennis balls, try these three mobility movements. The idea is to “insert here” the specific mobility drill your body may need. I’m showing you just one area (thoracic spine), it may be a different area altogether, like the hips, shoulder – whatever. Check out the following Instagram clip on how to perform each movement in this 3-step mobility series. Below are pictures (start/finish) of each of the three movements that make up this mobility series.

Kneeling Thoracic Rotation (start/finish)

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Start

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Finish (end point)

Side-Lying Thoracic Rotation

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Supine Thoracic Rotation (Windmill)

Note: The finish (end point) should be (eventually) with the lower leg making contact with the foam roller (looks like somebody is tight in that photo). You can also use a yoga block, small medicine ball or whatever else is of similar height to support the leg. Finally, you can also perform this particular movement on your side with the hips and knees kept at right angles without the aid of any props. The arms are positioned the same way and the movement occurs in the same manner as pictured.

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Mobility Warm-up Before Strength Training (Prescription)

Week 1-2: Perform 4-6 repetitions x 1 (3x/week)

Week 3-4: Perform 8-15 repetitions x 2 (4x/week)

Just a week of incorporating these movements into your warm-up or post workout will lead to a big pay off. You will notice your body feels and moves much better, even after the first session. Enjoy the additional freedom of movement you’re going to get if you make this a regular occurrence.

Jefit was recently named one of the best fitness apps by eftm.com and PC Magazine for 2021. Jefit is a workout app for gym and home. It helps you plan and stick to your workouts on a regular basis. While there are already over 3800 complete training routines available, it also comes with a customizable gym workout planner. This way you can personalize your own regime that works with your specific fitness goals. Stay strong!

FAQ’s: Tracker Mode

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What is Tracker Mode?  

This mode allows you to keep track of all workout information from an exercise session. In addition, you can see, adjust and record weight and repetitions for each set. The app shows upcoming sets and repetitions as well. Finally, there is also a smart weight and repetition feature which lets you set or adjust the weight and repetition on the fly for each set of exercises that you do.

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A Foam Roller is an Affordable & Versatile Product

There are literally hundreds of fitness products you can choose to use. There is one product, however, that won’t break the bank, reduces stiffness, and can be used either at home or in the gym. The product is a foam roller. Not only is it affordable, it’s extremely versatile in the right hands. The foam roller gained popularity back in the 1980’s thanks to a physical therapist who brought it into the mainstream from the world of clinical rehabilitation.

Why use a foam roller? Because it can be used to prepare the body for exercise, it’s a great recovery aid, effective as a massage tool, improves mobility, and keeps connective tissue, like fascia, healthy.

Use a Foam Roller as Part of Your Dynamic Warm-up

Before your next strength workout try incorporating a few dynamic warm-up movements. Then use a foam roller for 5-10 minutes, to “roll-out” some tight areas, and see how you feel afterwards. More importantly, notice the difference in the way you feel during your workout. We have a tendency to sit for prolonged periods of time throughout the day. As a result, muscles and connective tissue become tight and restricted. Overtime, this negatively affects your posture, the way you move, and how you perform in workouts! Regular bouts of foam rolling can help offset these issues and more.

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Incorporate a Foam Roller into Your Recovery Process

Another benefit of using a foam roller is it has the potential to help the body recover faster from a workout. Foam rolling can decrease the “perception of pain” that the body may be experiencing from overtraining. It targets the myofascial network in the body, helping to reduce trigger points and release restrictive connective tissue and muscle.

The body has a tendency to experience delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from an intense workout. A 2015 study in the Journal of Athletic Training suggested that foam rolling after intense exercise is a great way to reduce soreness and help with recovery. The study looked at college-aged males and showed those who foam rolled post exercise, were able to perform better at 24, 48 and 72 hours after exercise that induces soreness. And a comprehensive review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy reported foam rolling promotes short-term increases in range of motion.

Finally, a meta-analysis, published in the Frontiers in Physiology (2019) showed foam rolling had a positive effect on performance and recovery. This particular review of 21 research studies and 451 subjects, also showed better results were exhibited during a warm-up phase rather than as a recovery component of an exercise session.

Foam rolling is not the be-all-end-all when it comes to fitness products but you can definitely benefit from regular use, before and/or after a workout. Give it a try and experience the benefits yourself.

Use the Award-Winning Jefit App

Jefit was recently named one of the best fitness apps by eftm.com and PC Magazine for 2021. Jefit is a workout app for gym and home. It helps you plan and stick to your workouts on a regular basis. While there are already over 3800 complete training routines available, it also comes with a customizable gym workout planner. This way you can personalize your own regime that works with your specific fitness goals. Stay strong!

References

Pearcey, G.E.P., Bradbury-Squires, D.J., Kawamoto, J.E., Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G. & Button, D.C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(1): 5-13.

Cheatham, S.W., Kolber, M.J., Cain, M., & Lee M. (2015). The effects of self‐myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: a systematic review. Int J Sports Phys Ther., 10(6): 827–838.

Wiewelhove, T., et al. (2019). A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery. Front. in Physiol. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00376



How To Use Jefit App To Change The Way You Look

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Out with the old and in with the new, a new body that is. Nothing like the start of the New Year to get someone excited about the possibilities of looking and feeling better than 2020. A strong body and a healthy immune system are at the top of everyones list for 2021. Especially with the pandemic still in full swing. This article takes a look at how to use Jefit app to improve the way you look and feel for the new year. A year that will be important, more than ever, to stay strong physically and mentally.

Another Success Story Using Jefit App

It takes a great deal of focus and dedication to actually change the way someone looks and feels. Many have been making this happen, though, with the help of the Jefit app, like Steven Duckwiler who was previously featured by Jefit, found here. Most recently, we have Kent Koehler, another Jefit member, who also has made significant strides in changing his body. Congratulation Kent!

What Members Like About Jefit?

Kent Koehler has been using the Jefit app to help him plan and track his workouts since 2014. Kent mentioned, that he used the Jefit app on and off for about 3 years. He never realized the full potential of the apps ability. By January 2017, he started “leaning on Jefit heavily” each day. “Haven’t stopped since. Used daily and is a powerful daily tool in this journey”. 

We asked Kent what he liked specifically about using the Jefit app. He stated that what he really loved was the “the versatility” of the app. He went on to say he liked: “Routines, logging, history and the ability to focus on a bulking, cutting, HIIT. History helps you see the change and realize the progress. The exercise log is wealthy. When an exercise is not there, it can easily be created. You can make an exercise, link to where you found it, and log notes to makes it as complete as it can get personally. 

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Jefit Contests

“The contest are good. Motivation at every corner. The contests pushes you to earn and not skip. Consistently earning Jefit iron points benefits me by access and more importantly my goals. The social aspect is fun. The people on here have a common goal to improve their life. Earning better health and looks. So 99 percent are on here to learn, share, and ‘lift’ others up. Solid good motivation. Sometimes you get a comment that can make your day. Other times I am commenting to praise someone without the pressure of trying to creep or hook up. Good, solid support for one another with the right intentions. Feels good to compliment hard work and dedication. Sometimes a compliment is needed and reassurance for someone working hard”. 

What a Typical Week Looks Like for Kent

I stepped into the gym (in 2016) and have not stopped since. Nutrition, exercise, body building has been every day. Few misses, but it is rare and only when I’m exhausted that day.  I workout 7 days a week 99 percent of the time. Some times twice. I do separate body parts on various days and allow rest. Typically, I move between bulking, cutting, and other routines on the app. 

Usually I follow a program 4 to 6 weeks. My goal is to hit cardio, core, and strength each visit to the gym. For a long time I made myself earn my weights with cardio goals first to burn fat. I also focus on heavy training on core, every day. Makes all the difference. My goal is building a better body all together. I now take nothing other than a multivitamin, glucosamine for joint health, and fish oil. I am no longer taking any medications!

Thoughts on Nutrition

What is a typical diet like? Pretty controlled. I stick with my macro goals. Pretty strict through the week. Little relaxed on the weekend. Make sure I stay within range of daily calories. 

To date Kent has lost more than 95 pounds. Amazing job Kent and we here at Jefit wish you continued success and a healthy 2021.

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Jefit is a workout app, for both home and the gym, that will keep you on track with your fitness goals. It has the largest exercise library complete with free workout routines to help mix up your training. It also gives you the ability to update and share your workout log with the community. With Jefit on your phone, you will be hitting your fitness goals in no time at all. Stay strong with Jefit!

3 Ways to Burn More Calories in the New Year

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Out with the old and in with the new. Looking to make 2021 the year that you change the way you look and feel? For that to really happen, you may just need a bit more dedication. Let’s take a look at how your body can burn additional calories each day.

Your body continually expends calories, every minute of every hour of every day. Even while you’re sitting reading this.

You will be happy to know that we burn calories even while we sleep. In one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, two groups of overweight non-smokers were followed for a two-week period. One group slept 8.5 hours a night and a second group slept 5.5 hours while both groups ate about 1,500 calories a day. After two weeks, the people who slept more lost more fat than the group who slept less. Even more amazing was the fact that subjects who slept less lost more muscle (60 percent more muscle was lost by the sleep-deprived group). Those three hours of lost sleep caused a shift in metabolism that made the body want to preserve fat at the expense of lean muscle.

This same study showed that test subjects burned on average 400 more calories by sleeping 3 more hours – that’s an additional 2,800 calories burned for just one week. Think of sleeping as an extra calorie burning bonus. Here are three additional ways your body can expend more calories each day:

1. Building More Muscle Increases your Resting Metabolic Rate. 

2. Performing Higher Intensity Workouts will Increase your EPOC.

3. Adding More “Movement” will Increase your NEAT level.

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”  

Plato

Build More Muscle

Regular strength training sessions (3x/week) will overload your muscles and the stress (overload) placed on your muscles will eventually adapt and become stronger. As strength increases, the body can handle heavier loads and over time you will experience an increase in lean muscle, as long as you get adequate sleep and nutrition. Research has demonstrated that for every three pounds of muscle you add, your resting metabolic rate increases by about 6-7 percent. An elevated metabolism means you burn calories at a faster rate at rest and during activity.

Benefits of EPOC

Supplementing high intensity strength and cardio sessions into your weekly exercise routine will not only burn more calories during a workout but post workout as well. This is commonly referred to as the after-burn or in scientific research circles as EPOC or excess post oxygen consumption. If the intensity is high enough you have the potential to expend a few hundred calories up to about 24 hours post workout. EPOC depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise session; as they increase so does EPOC.

Take Advantage of NEAT

A study published in Science by Dr. James Levine took 20 “couch potatoes” (10 lean and 10 mildly obese) and recorded their bodily movements every half second for 10 days. He discovered that leaner subjects burned about 350 more calories a day through NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis or about 33 pounds a year.

In a second NEAT study, Levine recruited 16 volunteers and for 8 weeks had them eat 1,000 calories a day over what they needed to maintain their weight. You might expect that all of the subjects put on weight—with 1,000 extra calories a day. But at the end of the study, the gain per individual ranged from less than 1 pound to greater than 9 pounds. And the variation, according to Levine, was explained by the amount of NEAT. A highly active person can expend three times more calories than an inactive person and NEAT levels can vary up to 2000 calories between individuals.

If you’re not seeing changes in body composition with your current program, take a look first at how you’re fueling your body. Secondly, increase your intensity with your cardio sessions and start building more muscle. Lastly, increase your daily movement and some NEAT things will begin to happen.

Use Jefit to Track Your Progress

Do what millions of others have already done, use Jefit as their workout log app. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Reference

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, and Penev PD (2010). Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine 153(7):435-441.

What Happens to Your Body When You Binge on Added Sugar?

We know how much our senses love something sweet but at the same time we’re aware it’s not the best food choice. It’s the Holiday season, though, so it’s ok to eat a little added sugar, right? Like Mom says, “everything in moderation”. Not everyone has the will power or self-control to eat just one though. One statistic that I’ve read shows 74 percent of packaged foods contain added sugar. Even though we have seen a 15 percent decrease in added sugar consumption since 1999, according to government data, the typical person still eats about 94 grams (or 375 calories) on a daily basis (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

If you know you’re the type of person, who has control issues, then it’s probably easier, and healthier, to avoid certain snacks and desserts altogether. After a few weeks you won’t even crave it.

Have you ever wondered what actually happens inside your body when you do go overboard and eat one too many chocolate chips cookies? Feel free to substitute cookies for ice cream, pizza, fast food etc. Whatever your “fix” is. They all have added sugar and maybe knowing more of what happens to your body, will make you pause and think twice about eating it. Let’s note that we’re not talking about one item or a typical portion size. That’s ok. It’s only when you go overboard, on a regular basis, that you should be concerned. This is where diet can begin to affect overall health. If your physician has mentioned that your A1C level is getting high, then you have been warned. Get your house in order or you may end up becoming a diabetic or worse.

How Added Sugar Affects Your Body

  • We consume food that is high in added sugar on a daily basis.
  • Carbohydrates are what cause blood sugar to rise. It’s is important to eat protein and fiber with carbs.
  • The body breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars and away they go into the bloodstream.
  • As a result, the body releases insulin, which is a hormone produced by your pancreas.
  • Insulin’s role is to absorb excess glucose in the blood and stabilize sugar levels.
  • Insulin helps blood sugar enter the body’s cells so it can be used for energy.
  • The amount of insulin released usually matches of glucose in the blood stream.
  • Once insulin does its job, your blood sugar drops again (the result though is you feel “drained” following the sugar rush).
  • Repeated blood sugar spikes, many times a day, over time leads to an increase in stored body fat (typically around the abs in men & hips in women).
  • Over time, cells stop responding to all that insulin – because they’ve become insulin resistant.
  • Finally, your body can’t lower blood sugar effectively leading to type 2 diabetes.

A Few Interesting Facts About Added Sugar

  • Eating too much sugar initially causes a spike in insulin while elevated, long-term levels can lead to kidney damage.
  • Added sugar causes a surge in feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. So does using certain drugs, like cocaine. When you consume too much added sugar over time, you end up wanting more of it (just like certain drugs). Your body gets addicted to it.
  • One study of more than 3,500 people found that those who drank 34 ounces (about 1 liter) of water a day were 21 percent less likely to have issues with high blood sugar than those who drank 16 ounces (473 ml) or less a day.
  • A second study showed subjects who got 17-21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.
  • Men who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression in a five-year period than men who ate 40 grams or less.
  • One study from UC San Francisco found that drinking sugary drinks, like soda, ages our body on a cellular level as quickly as cigarettes can.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year.

How Much Added Sugar Should We Eat?

Added sugars can come in more than 60 different forms and it’s hidden in just about everything you eat. Added sugar is found in a wide range of foods, from ketchup to fruit-based yogurt to (sadly) sports drinks like Gatorade. In terms of how much we eat, the American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 38 grams) of added sugar per day. That is close to the amount in a 12-ounce can of soda. Women should try to eat less than 100 calories (or 25 grams) of added sugar per day. It may seem easy to do but keep in mind a bar of chocolate and a can of soda will already put you at 75 grams.

Keep in mind added sugar is much different than natural sugar found in fruit. It’s fructose, yes, but it also has fiber. This in turn helps release sugar slowly into the blood stream compared to the spike you get after eating half a dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Your Brain on Too Much Sugar

Eating too much added sugar affects just about every cell and organ in the body and the brain is no exception. Previous research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything. There is also additional research, published in the journal, Peptides, showing chronic consumption of added sugar dulls the brain’s mechanism for telling you to stop eating.

Hopefully this article sheds more light on the pitfalls of eating too much added sugar. You can pick your poison, it leads to weight loss, brain fog, low energy, oral health issues, you name it. Eating added sugar in moderation is fine. Too much of it though will lead to a multitude of health issues including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Physical activity and regular strength training makes you more sensitive to insulin, one reason why it’s a cornerstone of diabetes management. Focus on maintaining a healthy bodyweight and body fat level. Basically, a healthy, sustainable, lifestyle will do the trick. It’s the best way to keep blood sugar levels where they need to be.

Use Jefit

Try doing what millions of others have already done, use Jefit as their workout log app. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!