Incline Medicine Ball Pushup

If you’re looking to do more than just lose weight and build muscle, incline medicine ball pushups can help you improve coordination.

And strengthen those secondary and tertiary muscle groups necessary for giving you better control over your body.

“Incline What Now?”

The phrase “incline medicine ball pushup” might strike you as a bunch of random words slapped together, but that’s just how we talk in the gym. It actually makes a lot of sense when you break it down.

“Incline” refers to the angle of your body relative to the ground. If you’re at an incline, your head is above your feet. The rest should start to make sense, now. While in this incline position, you hold a medicine ball and use it as your grip to do your pushups.

The First Incline Medicine Ball Pushup

While every fitness guru has a different, motivational story behind the invention of the medicine ball (and every other weightlifting implement on the market), the real story dates back at least all the way to Ancient Greece.

Nobody knows the exact details of all of the exercises the Greek athletes and warriors did with the medicine balls, but we do know that they were reliant on medicine balls as a therapeutic source of weightlifting progress.

More than Just Weight Loss

The primary benefits that incline medicine ball pushups have over other forms of pushups is that they do more than just help you burn weight and gain muscle; they also help you tone and strengthen your stabilizing muscles.

Ordinary pushups don’t incorporate the difficulty of balancing on a round object with a somewhat uneven grip. You simply push up, go down, and repeat. With incline medicine ball pushups, you have to constantly twitch your muscles side to side to stabilize your body and avoid falling over.

Put the Theory to Practice

Preparation for this exercise is relatively straight-forward. Simply grab a medicine ball (preferably one of the large ones), set it on an elevated surface such as a workout bench, and get to work.

The actual exercise itself might sound difficult because of all of the extra anatomical focuses that this exercise involves when compared to ordinary pushups, but it’s really quite simple.

To do an incline medicine ball pushup, make sure your body stays straight. Any unnecessary bending can make the exercise more difficult, more dangerous, and/or more useless. Bad form is more than just deadly; it also renders exercises total wastes of time.

With a straight back and a head looking forward rather than downward, drop down to an almost prone position, stopping yourself just before you hit the ball. Then push up and repeat. But be warned! Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Alternative Forms

As with any exercise, there are plenty of different variations that you can try. Consider adding a weighted vest for more resistance. If that’s not doing it for you, try medicine ball pushups from a vector parallel to the ground. If that’s still too easy, check out decline medicine ball pushups.

Conclusion

Incline medicine ball pushups have a long and diverse history in use as a practical exercise dating back all the way to Ancient Greece. Think you have what it takes to make the Greeks proud? Try incline medicine ball pushups.

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Seal Walk

If you’re looking for an endurance exercise to further tone your core and improve abdominal muscle control as well as muscle stability, then look no further than the seal walk.

While this might not provide much benefit for seasoned athletes, it is a great starting point for beginners!

Named for the Way It Looks

The seal walk exercise is called that because it involves moving the body in a manner that resembles the way in which seals walk. Pretty self-explanatory, right? But there’s a lot more to this exercise than meets the eye.

Despite using the same ready position as the standard pushup, this exercise is not a pushup at all. Instead, it is a core-focused endurance exercise aimed at improving abdominal muscle control.

The Seal Walk’s History

It’s hard to tell exactly when an individual exercise evolves, but this one definitely came out of the fusion of pushup exercises and planks. Fitness gurus all have their own opinions on when the first seal walk was done, but estimates place it at within the past decade or two.

Improved Core Strength and Control

The purpose of the seal walk is similar to that of the plank; however, the seal walk is also intended to improve control over the stabilizer muscles in the abdominal region. These are the muscles that prevent you from twitching or crumbling during heavyweight deadlifts and squats.

The Second Simplest Exercise There Is

Second only to the plank, the seal walk is the least complex core exercise with any sort of commercial popularity today. This exercise takes little to no preparation, can be done anywhere with a large enough space (even a hallway or living room), and works wonders for core control.

It helps to wear socks but no shoes while doing this exercise. This will help ensure that your legs can slide as easily as necessary in order for your core to be able to do what it needs to do for this exercise to work properly. Some people will use little slider pads under their feet for even more mobility.

Next, while keeping your arms extended and your legs fixed in position, move one arm forward at a time, as if you were crawling with your hands outstretched. Drag your feet along the ground and make sure not to cheat by accidentally activating tricep or leg muscles or you’ll ruin your workout.

Variations of the Same Exercise

The most common variation of the seal walk is the backward seal walk. Once you’ve reached the end of your available seal walking space, instead of turning around and continuing a forward crawl, move backward.

This engages more of the core and targets subtly different parts, with a slightly increased emphasis on the lower abdominals.

Conclusion

The seal walk exercise is a great way to build control and improve the strength of your stabilizer muscles while simultaneously scuffing up the entirety of the gym’s floor with your shoes. But forget about the floor, focus on your muscles, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your dream body!

Batwing

Another great variation of the pushup is the batwing pushup.

These exercises, also known as “diamonds,” have grown in popularity among crossfit enthusiasts, football players, and military personnel looking for great new ways to shake up their pushup routines.

The Batwing Explained

Batwings get their name from the derogatory term used to describe triceps with high fat stores. These triceps tend to have an appearance often described as “flabby.” That is, even when flexed, the upper arms will jiggle and sag.

If you’re interested in using a less ambiguous word (as “batwing exercise” can mean many things to many different people), consider using the phrase “diamond pushup.” Diamond pushups are named for the diamond shape that an athlete’s hands make while performing the exercise. 

Pushups go Back a Century at Least

In 1905, a muscle-culture icon, Jerick Revilla, coined the term “pushup” to describe exercises in which you push yourself up from a parallel position on the ground, bring yourself back down, and repeat.

There is evidence supporting that pushup exercises go back farther than that, but such claims are so far unsubstantiated. Either way, they definitely would not have been called “pushups.”

Benefits

All pushups focus on the upper body, providing little to no benefit to anything outside of the torso and arms. Diamond pushups, which are the usual meaning of the phrase “batwing pushups,” provide similar benefits to close-grip barbell bench presses.

The majority of the benefits are focused around the pectorals and triceps with a slightly increased reliance on the forearms and stabilizing muscles than other pushups, making this exercise great for dealing with your batwings.

Straightforward, but Far From Easy

Diamond pushups are some of the more difficult pushups in the pushup family because they rely primarily on the triceps and don’t allow the body to trigger as much of the pectoral strength as in normal pushups.

While this makes them perfect for removing batwings, it makes them much more frustrating as well.

The pose is simple. Put your body into the standard pushup ready position. That means arms fully extended, toes supporting the body weight, and a straight line from the head, through the back, and down into the heels.

The only difference is that your hands will be close enough to make a diamond shape by touching your index fingers and thumbs.

See the following video (at about 1:12) for a demonstration of the diamond pushup as well as other exercises used to combat batwings.

Alternative forms of the Diamond Pushup

If this exercise is too difficult for you or if you’re just starting out and need a minute to get the hang of the form, consider dropping to your knees. People refer to this as the “girl pushup” position, but don’t let bigoted haters prevent you from achieving your dream body!

Conclusion

One way or another, regardless of what somebody means when they mention “batwing exercises,” you should heavily consider doing diamond pushups. Not only do these blast away the fat but they significantly increase muscle, removing batwings twice as fast!

Bear Pushups

These aren’t just your ordinary pushups. Named for more than just the body’s movements in the exercise, these pushups can shred your upper body and give you the strength of a bear.

What Does That Mean

Also known as anti-crawling pushups, bear pushups are essentially decline pushups on parallel surfaces.

This is accomplished through specific shaping of the body in the bear pose, hence the name. They somewhat look like the athlete is about to start crawling, but never moves the legs.

Modern or Ancient?

Although there is some evidence tracing pushup-style exercises all the way back to the ancient era, most fitness gurus and historians believe that the pushup first came into popularity in the early 1900s

That’s the time when the term “pushup” was first used and pushups then became much more widely incorporated into exercise regimens from beginners to the military to bodybuilders (although bodybuilding didn’t take off until much later).

Benefits

The bear pushup provides similar benefits to the incline bench press. That is to say that the primary targeted muscle groups are the pecs and the triceps followed closely by the anterior deltoids (the front of your shoulders).

While the bear pushup doesn’t provide as much benefit to the pecs as an incline press, the benefits to the triceps are increased and other benefits are also spread out among the abs, the forearms, and even to some extent the legs (primarily the calves) since the body relies on them for support in the bear position.

How to Do It

Prepare for this exercise by making sure that your clothes fit tightly enough to wear they will drag or get caught on the ground or hinder your range of motion. You will also want to be on a mat, maybe even an elevated platform that allows you to grip the “curb” or the edge of the platform.

Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your legs supported by your toes firmly planted into the ground. Extend your arms directly out in front of your chest. Your arms should be perpendicular to the ground when fully extended and your chest should be parallel.

Although it can be tempting to straighten your legs, refrain from doing so, as that can risk arching your back, which can lead to a less-efficient workout as well as potential injuries, particularly for people with bad backs or previous back injuries.

You will then lower yourself until your nose in only an inch or so above the ground, push yourself back up, and repeat. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your body. Do not “chicken wing” and push your elbows out to the sides or you won’t have a good time.

Variations on the Bear Pushup

Pushups are one of the most versatile workouts available, in part because they are body-weight exercises that don’t require any additional weights. That said, there are countless styles of pushups from which to choose.

Once you’ve mastered the bear pushup, try increasing the decline more and more until you’re capable of performing standing pushups. Now that’s a feat of body mastery!

Conclusion

Whether pushups have been around for a century or more than a millenium, we don’t know. But we do know that they are a great exercise family that has earned the respect (and fear, in some cases) of plenty of athletes in the weightlifting community as well as the military.

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Kneeling Hamstrings

Working out hard on the lower body has its benefits, including bigger muscles and improved speed.

Unfortunately, tight muscles often go hand-in-hand with that hard work. Kneeling Hamstrings help to alleviate the tension.

Physical therapists utilize this exercise to help patients who are struggling with too much tension in their hamstrings. That tension leads to all kinds of issues, up to and including nerve trouble. Its origins are in yoga, which focuses on lengthening and strengthening muscles. 

How to Kneel for a Stretch

This is a simple exercise that just about anyone can do. Here are the steps to stretch out with Kneeling Hamstrings. This is a wonderful exercise in part because it does not require any equipment to perform it.

  • Get down on one knee, preferably on a mat. 
  • Stretch the other leg out in front of you, with your heel on the ground and toes pointing towards the ceiling. 
  • Tighten the core and elongate the spine while you fold down from the hips. Your torso should come all the way down to your front leg.
  • Be careful not to round the back, and take a deep breath as you extend further into the stretch. Hands are reaching towards the lower foot.
  • Flex the front foot, then point it towards the ceiling in alternation. Go slowly so that you can feel each stretch deeply.
  • Switch sides and repeat with the other foot forward.

Get More out of your Hamstrings

The hamstrings are closely associated with the bones in the legs and the joints that are adjacent to this muscle. Muscle fibers change their lengths when they contract and release, as during exercise. This pattern of tightening and loosening is what makes the bones inside the legs move, and it’s how we move around at all.

When muscles are tight and tense, that’s because the muscles get stuck in their shortened state. Stretches like the Kneeling Hamstrings lengthen those muscle fibers. With time, stretching can actually lengthen the resting length of a muscle, as well as improve flexibility. That’s why it’s important to stretch when the muscles are a little warm. Before you do the Kneeling Hamstrings exercise, it’s a good idea to do a little warm-up to get those muscles warmer so that the fibers are longer. This can help you to get more out of the Kneeling Hamstrings, as this is a static exercise.

Useful for Everyone

Just about everyone who works out gets tight hamstrings from time to time. Naturally, athletes get a lot of tension in their hamstrings. However, even if you don’t work out you can benefit from this exercise. We all use our hamstrings a lot in everyday life while walking and moving through our days. Relieving the tension in the hamstrings is great for everyone!

Don’t ever force this stretch, instead breathe and allow it to come however it needs to come. It’s also important not to hold your breath, and keep breathing with long, deep breaths. Consistency is another important part of the Kneeling Hamstrings. If you do this once, you’re not going to get great results. Do it every day and you’ll feel the difference in your hamstrings. 

We all get tense! Whether you’re new to the gym or an experienced athlete, Kneeling Hamstrings can help you to get more out of your life through flexibility.

Wall ball

Wall ball exercises can provide a great aerobic addition to any workout with the goal of controlling weight.

No, this isn’t the game we all used to play as kids where you bounce a ball off the wall and tag each other. This is a much more effective way of burning calories and gaining muscle.

What Does it Mean to “Do Wall Balls?”

This phrase refers to the act of bouncing up from a squatting position, tossing a larger, softer version of a medicine ball at a wall, catching the ball as it falls, and repeating for a series of reps. There are plenty of ways to do wall balls, each varying in intensity, but this is what people tend to mean when they say, “wall balls.”

Not a Very Clear History

Human beings have been throwing things at other things since…well, since we learned how to throw things! This could potentially draw the history of wall balls all the way back to caveman days. Of course, this is all baseless speculation.

The official history of wall ball is much more recent, perhaps beginning as early as only a couple decades ago or perhaps going back more than 3,000 years to the creation of the first medicine ball. Nobody really knows.

Burn Fat and Tone Your Glutes

The key benefits of this exercise are more than just the ordinary aerobic benefits of burning more calories and cutting down on fat stores; they include strengthening your glutes (that would be your butt), thighs, calves, shoulders, and even pecs to some extent.

The Standard Wall Ball Procedure

You’ll want to start out about three to four feet away from the wall. Make sure you have ample space and can pick a wall that is connected directly to a ceiling and has no windows. You don’t want to throw the ball clear over the wall or straight through a glass window.

Once you’ve secured your workout space, pick up a medicine ball (it might help to start with a basketball or something light until your form is perfect, for safety reasons), and drop down into a squatting position.

Make sure to keep your back straight and the ball just about at chin height. Thrust yourself up from a squat, pushing the ball up into the air for it to bounce off the wall, catch the ball, and drop back down to starting position.

A Few Other Ideas

There are a couple of ways to do wall balls, although some are much more difficult. Of course, there are some that are easier, but those don’t work nearly the same number of muscle groups as the common wall balls will.

After a few weeks of solid wall ball workouts, try jumping up from the squatting position. This will significantly increase the difficulty of the workout.

Conclusion

Wall balls are not quite as effective a workout for building muscle as barbell squats; however, they are a ton more fun, can be done in groups for that socializing effect, and burn a lot more fat than any other barbell exercise. This makes them great complementary exercises for any workout routine.

Macebell

One of the greatest ways to build strength in the back is through the use of the macebell.

This tool, though dangerous in untrained hands, can be a valuable addition to any weight-training regimen.

The Macebell: More than Just an Intimidating Title

The macebell looks kind of like a barbell with a kettlebell fixed on the end of it. More accurately, it looks like an ancient mace with no spikes. The primary purpose of training with a macebell is to increase strength in the back, though it has other benefits as well.

A Battle-Hardened Workout

If you’re wondering why the macebell looks like an ancient battle mace, the answer to that question is not going to surprise you. Thousands of years ago, ancient warriors didn’t have the same kind of workout and training equipment as we do today, but they did have their weapons.

Instead of going into a field and lifting rocks, like some of the Ancient Greeks would do, ancient Hindu warriors would train with their maces. They would swing wooden or stone maces behind their backs, squat with their weight, and much more to prepare them for all possible battle situations.

Upper-Body Focus

As demonstrated by the battle proficiency of the ancient Hindu macemen, exercises with the macebell serve to improve muscle coordination and control as well as increase muscle tone. Many macebell exercises are predominantly upper-body focused.

The Lap Squat with Ballistic Toss

Before doing any exercises with a macebell, you’ll want to make absolutely certain that you have ample room. Make sure to be at least four to six feet away from anybody or anything else. Not only would it be dangerous to them if you accidentally hit somebody, it could be dangerous for you as well.

The most common exercise is the lap squat with ballistic toss. This exercise is a little bit complex, so make sure to take a couple minutes to familiarize yourself proper form before beginning. Check out this video starting from the 2:12 mark:

Try this with something small, such as a TV remote or a drumstick before adding the weight, just to be certain that you’re doing it safely and correctly. Once you’re sure that you are, start with the squats and add in the ballistic tosses for a total of 8 to 12 reps, increasing weight when that becomes easy.

Plenty of Variety

There are plenty of different macebell exercises out there, so don’t give up on this workout implement just because this particular exercise isn’t your speed. There are also pendulums, rebel presses, uppercuts, and so many more!

Conclusion

When it comes to the macebell, don’t be turned off by its history as a weapon of war or by its intimidating name. Just focus on the exercise, put all that you have into it, and you’ll be well on your way to hitting your weight-loss or weight-gain goals.

Roller

Workouts with a roller, also called an ab wheel, can be some of the most fun, competitive, and challenging exercises you’ll ever do.

Starting from a standing position, rolling out to a full plank, and rolling back up is the dreamworld level of fitness reserved for instagram models; however, with a little practice, you can learn how to start on that path!

What Is It?

Rollers are exactly what they sound like: rollers. Typically, these contraptions take the form of small wheels with handles on each side for grip. Exercises that use the roller can be some of the most effective, but also some of the most challenging, ways to burn fat while strengthening your core.

History

Nobody knows for certain when the ab wheel first came into use as a workout implement, but we do know that they’ve been popular for decades. Where they started, we don’t know, but they are definitely here to stay.

Nowadays, a full standing rollout is all the craze, popularized by Instagram and other social media fitness models. While they might make it look as easy as a situp, it is far and away one of the most difficult exercises there are. Many long-time lifters can’t even do one!

Benefits

There are some incredible benefits to using an ab wheel that you simply can’t get to the same extent elsewhere. These benefits include improved core tone, enhanced core control, and of course rock-hard six-pack abs, but it is certainly no one-and-done endeavor.

How to Do It

The most common ab wheel exercise is the roll-out. It’s suggested that you start on your knees for this, meaning you’ll want to have some soft padding to prevent any discomfort. Consider kneeling on a rolled-up yoga mat or wearing rollerblade-style knee pads.

The first step of the exercise to grip one handle in each hand and set the wheel on the ground just in front of your knees. It is absolutely critical that you keep your back perfectly straight or else you risk severe injury. An arched back can lead to muscle cramps or even tears.

Next, slowly wheel yourself away from your body without lifting your knees off the ground. You’ll quickly notice that it’s impossible for you to get even halfway; but, like learning to do that first pull-up, just go as far as you can and come back. With enough practice and dedication, you’ll get there!

Common Variations

Most people vary this exercise by starting and ending in a standing position. This is much, much harder and under no circumstances is it recommended for beginners. The difficulty and risks are simply too high.

Aside from starting and ending at a standing position, the athlete otherwise does all of the same steps as if she were starting from a kneeling position.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a simple, yet incredibly challenging workout to help you set goals for yourself, look no further than the roller, a.k.a. the ab wheel. Not only will this exercise tool strengthen your core, it’ll also improve core control and flexibility.

Oh, and perhaps most importantly, it will be one incredible party trick!

Leg Curls

You’ve got two choices to build muscle in your hamstrings – seated or lying. Which is it going to be?

The two types of leg curls are both effective at isolating the hamstrings to work them and create muscle tone, and both require an exercise machine to do them.

Also known as the Hamstring Curl, this exercise involves lifting weights, either from a seated position or from a face-down lying position, with the legs. The level of weight determines the strength of the exercise, and it’s potent for building the hamstring muscles.  

Curling in Isolation

Leg Curls are an isolation exercise. Rather than work across a group of muscles, this exercise gets right to one specific area. It’s become increasingly popular to use compound muscle exercises to train more of the body at once to save time, but isolation exercises like this one are still potent and powerful. 

Isolation exercises target individual muscles in a way that broader exercises just can’t do. This is important if you are building towards a specific goal or need to shape just one part of the body. Weightlifters have been using Leg Curls to get right into the hamstrings for decades. It’s one of the best possible ways to bulk up the hamstrings.

Doubly Curly

With two ways to do leg curls, you need to know how to do them. 

Here are the steps for the Seated Leg Curl:

  • Set up the Leg Curl machine so that the back pads are firm and comfortable against your back. 
  • Place your legs on the bar so that it’s just beneath your calves, then set the lap bar so that it’s just above your knees, across your thighs.
  • Grab the side handles, then lift your legs, extending them up until they are parallel to the floor and straight out in front of you.
  • Still holding the side handles, pull the bar back towards you and down, going as far as you can with your legs. 
  • Slowly bring it back to the starting position and repeat.

Now for the Lying Leg Curl:

  • Set up the Leg Curl machine so that your abdomen is comfortable when you are lying face down. 
  • Feel the lever on the back of the machine, and adjust so that it sits just beneath your calf muscles when you’ve got your legs out straight.
  • Hold onto the front handles on the machine and focus.
  • Curl the lower legs up, pulling them as far as you can without your thighs coming off the pad. 
  • Pause for a moment at the top of the movement, then lower slowly back to the beginning position. 
  • Movements should be smooth all the way through. Lower the weight if you’re having to go towards jerking or using momentum to move the weights. 

Mix Your Curls

Though this is a machine exercise, there are a few variations possible without equipment. They are unusual and modern twists on the traditional Leg Curl. These use an exercise ball, sliders, or a suspension trainer. The standard Leg Curl is still the most popular and well known version of this exercise. 

Pushing weight on those hamstrings is a great way to sculpt the body. Find your machine and get going, either while sitting or standing.