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GET A PRO BACK
By: Jaime Cash
Round Four! This month's get-ready-for-the-stage workout is all about how to build and sculpt a strong back! Ready? GO!
Now it’s time to focus on sculpting an impressive back by targeting the lats, traps, rhomboids and erector spinae. With this workout, we change between a wide grip and narrow grip to build width and density as well as the position of your body to target more muscle fibers. These are effective movements, but pay close attention to the "pro tips" to perfect your technique. Try compound sets to overload your muscles and increase the intensity or super-set each exercise.
1. Wide-Grip Lat Pull Down
Install a wide bar or dual-grip pulldown bar. Lean your body back to a 30-degree angle. Pull the bar down by retracting your shoulder blades, keeping arms straight. Bring bar in front of your body to collarbone. Open your chest and pull shoulder blades down and back. Slowly return bar back to start. PRO TIP: Really focus on retracting your shoulders before you begin the exercise and use wraps if you have them so your arm flexors don’t fatigue. Also, go heavy! Do 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
2. Seated Cable Row-Parallel
Grip Attach a handle that allows for a narrow grip position. Start the motion by retracting your shoulder blades with arms straight. Pull the bar toward your belly button and keep an upright torso. Expand your chest and don’t lean back. Bring back to start, but lower the weight with your arms, keeping your shoulder blades retracted. Then relax the shoulder blades to drop the weight. PRO TIP: Engage the erector spinae muscles by leaning forward from your hips as you extend your arms at the start of the exercise. Do 4 sets of 10-12 reps. If you do 6-8 reps, go heavy! Use wraps.
3. Standing Cable Cross-Overs
Set cable station up at high level. Face station. Grab right cable with right hand and left cable with left hand. Set hands, one on top of the other (see inset photo). Keep upright torso and pull cables down and back, keeping arms straight. Return to start position but keep only slight bend in the elbows. PRO TIP: Don’t lock your elbows when you straighten your arms to keep constant tension. Squeeze shoulders at end of motion. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
4. Dumbbell Single Arm Low Row
Grab a heavy dumbbell. Lean forward and support yourself on the bench with non-working arm. Keep head in alignment with spine. Keep abs tight and don’t round your back. To start, retract shoulder blade, then pull arm up toward your rib cage, slightly rotating your wrist towards end range of motion. PRO TIP: Really drop your arm down before the start of the exercise and then slightly pull the shoulder back before bending arm. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Heavy – use wraps and shoot for 6-8 reps. **Super-set this exercise with External and Internal Rotation with dumbbells.**
5. External and Internal Rotation
Grab a light set of dumbbells. Stand with shoulders back and abs tight. Bring arms to 90-degree angles with wrists in neutral. Rotate the weights away from body to a 45-degree angle. PRO TIP: Keep shoulders lifted and squeeze shoulders blades together as you rotate outwards. This exercise is good for the rotator cuff muscles to prevent shoulder injuries.
Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
6. Standing Wide Grip Pull Downs
Attach a wide grip bar to high cable lat pulldown machine. Lean forward and press knees into bench, keeping upright torso and abs tight. Slightly retract shoulder blades and pull bar down towards your legs. Keep chest up. PRO TIP: Focus on your lower lats throughout this exercise. Do 3 sets of 15-18 reps. MS&F
*Photo by Brett Seeley, BrettSeeleyPhoto.com