low back exercises for strength & injury prevention

Low back pain is excruciating and can be debilitating. Using proper form when lifting, such as using your legs instead of your back to pick up children or objects, will help alleviate strain on your back. Performing ab exercises can cause back pain if your abs get tired and your back takes over; and twisting can cause your back to “go out.”

To prevent, or reduce, the chances of back pain, it’s essential to strengthen the entire core, not just the abs. Below I’ve outlined exercises specifically to strengthen the lower back.

  • Hip-hinge
  • Double leg kettlebell deadlifts
  • Single leg kettlebell deadlifts
  • Bodyweight single leg deadlifts
  • Prone single leg lifts
  • Prone double leg lifts
  • Prone Swiss ball leg lifts
  • Bird-dogs
  • Elbow planks

I also created a video for you to watch how these exercises are done with correct form so you don’t injury yourself.

Try a few of these exercises once or twice a week to keep your lower back strong. For abdominal, oblique and additional low back exercises, watch these planks variations in the video here.

Build strong TRICEPS at home

(includes push-up tutorial)

One of the most common questions women ask me is how to get rid of arm fat, arm flab, and how to tone and tighten the back of the arms (the triceps). While losing excess fat is part of the solution, you can strengthen the back of the arms, which will give it sexy, curvy, muscle definition, and reduce that flab.

dumbbell floor press in a bridge

You don’t need a gym membership or need expensive exercise equipment; you can gain strength with:

  • triceps kickbacks
  • overhead triceps extensions
  • dumbbell or kettlebell floor presses
  • bodyweight push-ups

Out of those four exercises, push-ups would be the superior exercise in terms of calorie burn and strength. Everyone should be able to do push-ups with modifications. For instance, you can start with push-ups on the kitchen counter, then progress to the back of the couch. After a while, you’ll be able to do push-ups on a bench, and then be able to do push-ups on the floor.

New clients have told me they cannot do push-ups because it hurts their shoulders, but that’s because their hands are too high, too wide, and their elbows are flaring out to the sides. You want to keep your hands down and close to your ribs, with your elbows tucked to your side.

You want to start your push up in a plank position. The same rules apply for elevated push-ups where you are not on the floor: squeeze your butt and have your hands in line with your shoulders.

plank

The bottom of the push-up is where you want to go as low as you can. The goal is to touch your chest to the floor without arching your back.

To make it easier to visualize, I created a video of these exercises with detailed explanations, along with variations. Just click play on the YouTube video below.

Like all exercises, the one-and-done expression does not produce results. To gain strength, you want to work those muscles twice a week. Give yourself two full days off to rest. To track your progress, order Weightlifting Record book from the Amazon link below, to record your exercises, reps, sets and days you exercised https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997665432?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

burn calories fast (quick cardio workout)

If you are short on time, this eight minute plyometric cardio workout gets the heart rate up, burns calories, increases strength, and makes your cardiovascular system stronger. If you have any knee issues, don’t jump, keep the feet on the floor, and have a chair available to hold onto if you need it for balance.

If your goal is weight loss, you’ll need to reduce calories in addition to exercising.

How to get off the floor (safely)

For anyone who has trouble getting up and down, and on and off the floor safely. Watch this video, or share it with that person. I’ve outlined the steps below also.

Follow the 10 steps below to get off the floor safely:

1. from a sitting position, shift both legs to one side

2. with your hands flat on the floor, shift the hip that is on the ground, upwards

3. pull your knees center, in line with your torso, to be on all fours

4. bring your stronger leg in front of your, in a lunge position, with that foot flat on the floor

5. flex the back foot, the one that is behind you, so the toes are pressing into the floor

6. place the hand that is closing to the leg in front of your, on the middle of that leg

7. bring your torso upwards, with a slight lean forwards

8. bring the opposite arm out to the side, the one that is not holding the front of the leg

9. stand up by pushing through the back toes and the front heel

10. push off that back foot with those toes to stand up

The video above shows a few different options on how to get off the floor without falling and using your legs instead of your arms. I also go in detail on how to lower safely, and how to get up after doing ab exercises easily.

Let me know if you liked this post and add any comments below.

how to strengthen weak shoulders & core

Ball-walkouts are phenomenal at getting your whole core (and abs) strong. It’s also a great exercise for frozen shoulder rehabilitation. The first thing, before you begin, is to make sure you have the right size ball. Since I’m short, I have to use a smaller ball. You also want to make sure the ball is not over-inflated, otherwise it will hurt to lay on, and be extremely difficult to balance on.

ball walkout

When I was teaching my clients at the gym how to perform ball walk-outs, most of them wanted to rush through it, by walking out too fast, but that’s a recipe for a fall. To start, squat low, drape your belly over the ball, place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Walk forward, slowly with your hands, squeeze your butt to work the abs, and to prevent your low back from creating a painful bow-shape. Walk forwards, in a straight line, as far as you feel comfortable. When you become more proficient at ball walk-outs, you can extend out as far as the top of your laces on your shoes, and you can do a pike (photo) below.

pike on a Swiss ball

If you fear falling, try this on carpet, and bring one leg out to the side (see video below), if you lose your balance. You can also ask a family member or friend (who has excellent balance and is stronger than you) to walk along side you, during the walkouts, and have their hands near your waist. If you wobble, that person just (gently) straightens your waist so that you’re in a straight line. The end-goal is to do three sets of ten ball-walkouts. If you’re up for more of a challenge, you can add a pike, tucks, and/or a pike press

Carbs are not why you’re fat. This may surprise you

I never cared about how many carbohydrates, or what types of carbs I ate until after I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. As a type-1 diabetic, I have to count carbs, and/or measure carbs, in order to use that information to determine how much insulin to take. I became obsessed with all carbs, because more carbs, means more insulin injections, so I limit all carbs as much as tolerable. While I am not on a low-carb diet, I try to limit my carbs to no more than 45 grams of carbs per meal, or snack. Most people eat a lot more than 45 grams of carbs at a time; for comparison, one regular slice of pizza is 35 grams of carbs (source USDA). I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that eats just one slice of pizza and calls it quits. California Pizza Kitchen’s Mac and Cheese is 62 grams of carbs, their spinach artichoke dip is 87 grams of carbs, their Chinese chicken salad is 96 grams of carbs, and their hummus with pita is a whopping 145 grams of carbs (1). Most restaurant portions are much too large, and contain way too many carbs and calories for a normal-sized human being.

If you cut out excess carbs, it’s no wonder people lose weight, because extra carbs equal extra calories. The problem with this thinking, is that people believe that carbs are the problem, they are not. It’s the large portions that’s the main problem.

The issue with carbs, that I have, is that I’m not eating enough carbs since I’m 95% vegan, and only eat four times a day. My 45 grams of carbs x 4 meals = 180 grams of carbs (720 calories). Since my protein is coming mostly from vegan carbs like beans and grains, this is not enough fuel to sustain me, so I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat more carbs. Instead of adding more carbs, I gravite towards fat, so I eat nuts and seeds, and there is nothing wrong with nuts and seeds, except that they contain a lot of calories.

Fats from nuts and seeds (and avocados) are good fats, and we want those in our diets, but if the goal is weight loss, it’s better to eat more carbs than fat, because fat contains more than twice the calories than carbs. All carbs contain 4 calories per gram, whereas fats contain 9 calories per gram. So, to lose those last few pounds, I’m going to have to change my mindset about carbs, and eat more of them, which should increase my satiety so I’m not grabbing handfuls of nuts.

If your goal is weight loss, try adding more healthy “good” carbs, like fruit, beans and vegetables; cutting out the “bad” processed carbs like bread, sugar, and crackers; and limiting oils and fatty foods to see if that will help you lose weight (especially belly fat), instead of limiting carbohydrates.

  1. Source: https://www.nutrition-charts.com/california-pizza-kitchen-nutrition-facts-calorie-information/

How to get a ballet dancers body (tone thighs, butt and calves)

Dancers are lean and toned. To get that toned look, increasing muscle with specific exercises is key. For example, ballet dancers have impeccable balance and posture, and strong legs, core and calves. I’ve created this fun barre workout that anyone can do, to strengthen (tone) the legs, butt and calves. Let me know which exercise was your favorite.

Balance exercise list (with videos)

These 12 balance exercises work the core and balance reflexes. Age doesn’t cause balance loss, inactivity does. You can improve balance at any age, but it takes time and frequent practice. I practice balance exercises of some kind, every day.

Have a chair handy; these exercises burn more calories than typical balance exercises, because they are challenging and they strengthen the hips, butt, low-back, abs, and your legs. I’ve also included a video of each of the exercises so you can work out with me.

12 challenging single-leg balance exercises
1 Hip cleaners
2 Standing alphabet
3 Leg swings
4 Hip hinge (hold 15-45 seconds)
5 Plie squat with heel lift and hold
6 Tree pose with leg extension
7 Single leg deadlifts
8 Side leg lifts with a kick
9 Skater squats
10 Standing quad stretch
11 Standing figure four stretch
12 Bird-dog
Best 12 balance exercises

what really caused Lance Armstrong’s cancer

On December 26th, 2013, I published a short article, titled, “Do you over-exercise?” At the time, it was theorized that Lance Armstrong’s testicular and brain cancer was brought on by his intense training since “intense exercise has long been known to suppress the immune system” (3).  But after watching his tell-all movie earlier this year, I realized what a jerk Lance Armstrong is, and what extreme pressure professional athletes have placed on them to exceed feats the human body cannot accomplish without performance enhancing drugs (2).

Lance Armstrong admitted to taking EPO, testosterone, cortisone, HGH, blood transfusions and blood doping (1). While some drugs can improve performance and aesthetics, drugs don’t come without consequences. For instance, EPOs are “…involved in the development of cancer tumors and that they combine to help the tumors proliferate in the body” (4).

While it’s difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint what exactly caused Lance’s cancer, I’m more apt to blame the drugs than the long hours of cycling.

Photo: Jojo Ito, tri-athlete

Sources 

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2013/01/15/health/armstrong-ped-explainer/index.html
  2. https://www.outsideonline.com/2413859/lance-armstrong-espn-documentary
  3. Outside Magazine December issue, pg. 66, article titled: Post-Workout Immunity Booster
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111205102319.htm#:~:text=Summary%3A,tumors%20proliferate%20in%20the%20body.

Leg strengthening exercises (for seniors)

Walking is not enough! For strength, flexibility, and mobility, you want to work all of your muscles.

Strength, flexibility and mobility exercises for seniors:

  • chair squats
  • ankle rotations
  • point and flex feet
  • hip lifts
  • standing leg lifts and lowers
  • static lunges
  • calf raises
  • quad stretch
  • hamstring stretch
  • calf stretch

You can do these exercises daily. I made a workout video of these to show form, that you can follow-along. If you’re sore from this workout, try doing it twice a week for 4 weeks. Then do it three times a week for 4 weeks. Keep adding an additional day of this workout every 4 weeks, until you’re strong enough to complete it daily.

Forward this video to anyone you think would enjoy it. If your goal is weight loss, head on over to my website theHighFiveDiet.com to view my cookbooks, weight loss books, and food tracker

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