Exercise of the Week: Hanging Leg Raises
Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
Hanging Leg Raises are like Pullups…they are one of the best exercises you can do without any weights at all, but most people skip them, because they think if they can only do a few reps, then everyone will laugh at them.
The truth is, no one is even paying attention to you, much less making fun of you. Even if they were, that’s their problem, not yours. You are there to improve your body and your health, and this move will help take your core to the next level.
Once you’ve mastered the standard situp and crunch, it’s time to step up to the big leagues. It’s completely normal if you can only do one or two Hanging Leg Raises at first. Just stick with it, and you will be pumping out impressive 10-rep sets in no time.
First, grab a regular pullup bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, as if you were going to perform a pullup:
Then, simply raise your knees up towards your chest using your core and abdominal muscles:
Make sure to move your legs in a slow, controlled motion. Again, like in pullups, don’t just jerk them up using momentum to assist you.
Also, for a more controlled and stabilized position, you can use Hanging Ab Straps to take the pressure off of your shoulders and arms, shifting the focus entirely to your midsection. For more information on Hanging Ab Straps, click here.
Below is a video demonstration, courtesy of BodyBuilding.com, of Hanging Leg Raises using ab straps:
Do as many as you can on the first set, while maintaining good form and control. If you can only do one, then rest for a minute or so, and try to do another one. Repeat until you’ve completed at least three. Next time you’re in the gym, repeat until you’ve done at least five.
Soon, you will be able to do two or more in one set. Continue gradually increasing the reps and sets, until you can do 15-20 total.
If you stick with it and master the Hanging Leg Raise, your entire core section will look, feel, and function better than ever.
Workout Without Weights – ‘macho’ enough?
The first time you walk into a gym, it becomes that you have a long way to go in being perceived as particularly ‘macho’ or even close with your wiry arms. Of course, you might not have been the only one because I’ve also been there.
Well, it wouldn’t matter if you’re John Mayer with that silky smooth guitar picking and strumming style and stunning voice of his… but I’m sure that he won’t be reading this blog between his busy touring schedule or indulging in flings with some of Hollywood’s big names.
But I digress…
So what should you do if you’re not macho yet, and aren’t sure of dealing with weights yet?
Try a workout without weights, yessirree…
Any questions? I’m sure there are…
Reasons why you should Workout without Weights
Well, the first question you might ask is why in the world one would want to try a workout without weights, as it is the best way to gain strength and muscle. But very simply, there are several reasons why you might want to do so…
For one, if you are tired of paying for your gym membership in these times or even weight-phobic, especially as a beginner. Maybe you don’t have the time to head out to the gym or even don’t have the money either… which also rules out the idea of a home gym.
So, no matter what your reason might be, things work out for the best. And if you wonder why I’ve conveniently thrown this cliche in and are on the verge of asking me to validate this statement with something concrete. And so, here goes…
Firstly, the golden age of bodybuilding is over, and unless you are planning to repeat Arnie’s success (which is hardly likely!), you don’t need a costly gym membership or even a home gym to get “toned.”
Secondly, it’s FREE… how about that? Need I say more…
Thirdly, you’ll be using weights but of a different kind – your body and the force of gravity, which your body will not be able to differentiate from normal weights that are used.
Now, with that out of the way, you might wonder where to begin in this mirage of exercises with or without equipment, so without further ado, let’s look at some exercises that you can try as a part of a workout or even if the above doesn’t apply to you, use these exercises as a warm-up before you begin your routine with weights.
Exercises to try without Weight
While you read the list of exercises at this link, you’ll be surprised how often they have come up in conversation, even if you’re not a fitness junkie. Of course, if you’re captivated with the art of building muscle and want to get going without using weights, then you can check this link for the best techniques and exercises that will help you build muscle over a period of time.
And yes, it’s “macho” enough… macho enough to help you move on to the next level, especially if you’re a beginner.
Hot Bikram Yoga
Bikram Chowdhury, who is popularly known as the McYoga guy, is the creator of Hot Bikram Yoga which has come under the scrutiny and criticism of many due to the aggressive steps taken to protect this routine that he has been responsible for putting together.
Like most Bengalis from the State of West Bengal in India, he comes across as an opinionated, strong-willed, forceful, and ego-maniacal personality that you’ll find when you watch or read his interviews with various publications and TV channels late, thanks to the controversy that has been stirred.
But that is just one part of the story, where people try to judge another’s desire to deal with and protect his life’s work realistically, rather than from a super-spiritual and idealistic point-of-view.
And this is in regards to his 26 asanas that he has copyrighted (while suing people who have used his work illegally to make profits) as a part of his teaching of ‘hatha yoga’, which is just one element of the Yoga Sutras as written by Patanjali around 2nd Century BCE. Incidentally, people don’t like this approach of his because they believe that yoga is free, has existed and been taught that way down through the ages.
Now almost any jackass you meet on the street will also tell you that yoga is good for you, and helps stay in good health through the rigor that is involved in practicing such a discipline.
But there’s more than meets the eye here. Here’s why:
Suppose you have studied esoteric philosophy (Hinduism). In that case, you’ll know that there is a distinct connection between one’s mind and the body, and in attaining equilibrium between the two through Yoga, one can attain ‘Moksha’, known as ‘liberation’ from the suffering and limitation of worldly existence. And this is where Raja Yoga (plainly known as ‘Yoga’ today) has achieved prominence in society today.
Although Bikram Yoga (in terms of the ‘asanas’) is very similar to, and is derived from Raja Yoga, yet to the yoga purists in its present form, it only serves as a basic function of promoting good health, and does necessarily achieve the final objective of Raja Yoga, that is to achieve perfection in concentration of the mind or otherwise known as ‘dhyana’.
Why Bikram Chowdhury has insisted on copyrighting his life’s work is because the order of these asanas have been arranged in a particular sequence that have a unique positive impact on one’s health which isn’t the case if they are practiced in a different order.
Another important difference is that, this form of yoga is performed in a room with a temperature at 105 degrees Fahrenheit which helps one’s muscles to loosen up, especially for those with arthritis or experiencing stiffness.
Here’s an interesting interview with Bikram Chowdhury taken by CBS News in June 2005, which will give you the entire picture.
Ironically, this aggressive marketing and copyrighting stance wasn’t a part of his strategy when he came to the U.S at first. One of his students (Shirley Maclaine) insisted that he should take money or else people will not value what he teaches. And since then, he has not looked back in terms of franchising his form of yoga.
Judging from the popularity of his franchise which has expanded to about 600-700 centers in all parts of the world, it looks like the people have embraced his form of yoga as it delivers results. Bikram Chowdhury (love him or hate him) is at the forefront of yoga, and will be known as ‘Yoga’s bad boy’ for years to come.
Barbell Weights and the Golden Age of Bodybuilding
Yes, if you have watched “Pumping Iron”, you’d certainly know who Lou was alright… and you’d also realize the amount of effort that goes into getting a body as chiseled as theirs.
It’s not easy, to say the least… and it takes hours and hours of punishing your body almost every other day if you want to excel at that level. And if there’s anything that’s true of these strong men of our time, it’s been more than just acquainted with barbell weights.
Why Barbell Weights?
Of course, there are several other types of training equipment that can help you build muscle but they all have to bow down to the king of them all – the barbell weights! No matter how many types of dumbbells or kettlebell weights you use or even machines, you’ll find that the barbell helps you build strength like no other.
Yes, if your objective is to “man up”, then the barbell is the way to go… Here begins a new era! Barbell weights and the golden age of bodybuilding.
Perhaps the reason for this is that the more weight you work out with, the easier it becomes to convert fat into muscle and keep it that way. It is the very reason why most instructors will ensure that you do graduate to using barbell weights as soon as you show progress with dumbbells and cardio.
Most of all, it’s mainly to work out with barbell weights as opposed to any other weight training equipment, which is why you’ll see beginners trying their luck with barbells when they should be focusing on the basics first.
What I mean to say that it is a good idea to get into a workout routine for a few months until you take on difficult weight training routines such as that of using different weights with a barbell.
The only disadvantage that you might experience with using barbell weights is the risk of injury just in case proper form is not maintained or God forbid, someone actually drops it without the assistance of a spotter.
If you have been working out for sometime, and now wish to try barbell workouts at home, then here are a couple of workouts that you can try.
The Barbell – Sample Workouts
Sample Workout #1: Considered to be a simple workout for the reason that only one set of 12 to 15 reps are required to finish each exercise. You rest for about 45 seconds and then move on to the next one. Finally, remember to train your body with these exercises three times a week while remembering to have a rest day in between.
So, here are the list of exercises:
#2: Incline Push-up
#3: Bent Over Row
#4: Reverse Curl
#5: Press Crunch
The next sample workout is for 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps for each exercise. You also have to rest for 45 seconds between each set, and do this three times a week with one day of rest after each workout session.
Here are the exercises:
#1: Barbell Squat
#2: Triceps dip
#3: Decline push-up
#4: Biceps curl
#5: Single-arm row
#6: Seated reverse crunch
And if you really want to know more about barbell exercises, you will be able find information at this link.
And if you bought into the rivalry between Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger, think again! It was all a set up…
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