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Dumbbell Chest Fly

Talking about isolation exercises, the dumbbell chest fly on a flat bench is key to developing your pectoral muscles. It works mainly the pectoralis minor.

Sit on a flat bench with a dumbbell on each hand resting on top of your thighs. The palms of your hand will be facing each other.

Using your thighs to help raise the dumbbells, lift the dumbbells one at a time so you can hold them in front of you at shoulder width with the palms of your hands facing each other.

Lie on your back with your feet placed firmly on the floor or the bench itself so that you can keep your spine in a neutral position. Pull your shoulder blades down and back so that they make firm contact with the bench. Your head, shoulders, and butt should make contact with the bench throughout the exercise.

Raise the dumbbells up like you’re pressing them, but stop and hold just before you lock out.

Inhale and with a slight bend on your elbows in order to prevent stress at the biceps tendon, lower your arms out at both sides in a wide arc until you feel a stretch on your chest.

Exhale and return your arms up you squeeze your chest muscles. Make sure to use the same arc of motion used to lower the weights.

Hold for a moment at the contracted position and repeat the movement until you complete the set.

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Tips for Achieving Better Upper Body strength by Justina Triasovaite

Hello, dears!

Today I´m pleased to introduce you a new blogger and friend, Justina Triasovaite. She is a certified female personal trainer and also runs justinatraining.com, a site with useful information for those who are interested in general fitness and body transformation. A committed health and fitness fanatic, Justina is very passionate about helping people transform their lives.

London based, she´s offering first class free with each package! If you live in London, you shouldn´t miss this opportunity.

Without further delay, I let you read her refreshing tips. Enjoy!

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This article will reveal what it takes to build up strength in your upper body, including your shoulders, arms, chest, back, and core.

No matter where you choose to train – at the gym, in the park or in your own home, there are a lot of useful tips provided in this article that can be beneficial for building your upper body strength.

Ok, let’s get started!

Home and/or Park: A Great Start!

Have you ever thought of improving your upper body strength right in your own home, right in your terrace or garden, for example? There are different ways of getting stronger and it doesn’t necessarily require you to go out to the gym – just get started right at home or in any suitable park. In my opinion, the best place to train during spring-summer months would be outside – in a park or in your own home, maybe in the garden area. Fewer excuses and more exercise!

1) Best Exercises for Getting Stronger Upper Body at Home or Park 

  • PRESS UPS

Press ups involve the majority of upper body muscles, which is great if you are trying to strengthen your upper body. What is more, these exercises improve your posture, enhance your cardiovascular system and help to prevent lower back injuries. Press ups do not require any additional equipment so you can do it right in the middle of your living room or terrace.

  • DIPS

Dips are isolation exercises that work miracles for strengthening your arms and gaining powerful and defined triceps. They can be performed at the gym on a special machine or simply at home using a chair or a bed frame. Although I think it is much more fun to do your dips outside – just find the right spot (e.g. a bench). Try this out today!

  • PULL UPS

Pull up exercises are compound movements which add strength to the whole back and arms. Nobody says they’re easy, but what you gain is most definitely worth it: by doing pull ups, several large muscle groups (back, arms and shoulders) work simultaneously. What I love about these exercises the most is that they don’t require expensive equipment – you can order a pull-up bar online and hang it above your door frame. Time to get thinking about this.

  • RESISTANCE BANDS

Resistance bands are amazing tools for working out at home with your own body weight with a goal of strengthening various muscle groups in your body, including your upper body. Most of these bands come with a special hook which allows using them on your door without damaging it. It should also come with thorough instruction regarding all of the exercises you can perform using these bands. Easy and fun!

2. Best Exercises for Getting Stronger Upper Body at the Gym

Say hello to the rowing machine as soon as you enter the gym, as this is the best exercise you can do to strengthen your upper body and build a great back. It doesn’t really matter which kind of rowing machine you choose – seated, standing, assisted, or single arm rowing – the benefits of these type of exercise for building a strong upper body are simply undeniable.

Another great exercise I highly recommend trying out is a shoulder press – machine, free weights, barbell or dumbbells – everything goes when we are talking about those beautiful and strong shoulders.

Don’t forget that a strong chest is the key to a strong upper body, so the chest press should become one of your favorite exercises as well. Choose a bench or a machine, dumbbells or bar – everything is suitable for your goal as long as you perform the exercises correctly.

And last, but definitely not least, a must exercise for everyone – pull down or pull ups. Pull down is a great machine for beginners if they want to build up their back strength and move on to pull-ups. Pull ups and chin ups work miraculously in building the so-called “triangle back”, which is often part of my clients’ wish list!

3) General Tips for Upper Body Strength

  • Carry the shopping bags yourself. This simple activity can highly influence the strength of your upper body. Forget shopping online: carrying your purchases daily will be a great exercise for your upper body and will also help you improve in the exercising field.
  • Get involved! Play outdoor games which put resistance onto your upper body – basketball, netball, tennis, badminton. This is a fun and easy way to build strength in your upper body.
  • Include Isometric Contractions (also called isometric exercises or isometrics). These are the type of exercises, in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction. These exercises are well known for making your upper body muscles stronger. One tip – try holding a pillow right in front of you while keeping your arms straight… Not so easy, right? ☺ Try it for a couple of days and increase your holding time gradually – you will see how much stronger you will feel in a relatively short period of time.
  • Don’t forget the core! The strength of your upper body highly depends on the strength of your core, so don’t forget to include a variety of exercises that help to strengthen the muscles of your core. My favorite core exercises are various variations of the plank as well as leg raises – these work best for strengthening core muscles. Tip: always add one or two exercises that help to strengthen the core at the end of your training sessions.

Continuous Hard Work Pays Off!

To sum up, continuous hard work and the right choice of exercises definitely pays off, leading to a well-trained upper body, built up strength and an improved physique.

There is no need to invest in expensive machines or training equipment: there are plenty of exercises available that require only your own body strength. Easy!

Even your everyday activities, such as carrying the shopping bags, can strengthen your upper body, so definitely no excuses!

 

 

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Inclined Dumbbell Fly

Incline dumbbell flys works the pectoral major. Set the bench to an angle of 30-60 degrees. Under 30 degrees is a flat dumbbell fly, and over 60 is a shoulder press.

Holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing each other, lie on your back on an inclined bench with your feet placed firmly (on the floor or the bench) so that you can keep your spine in a neutral position. Pull your shoulder blades down and back, making firm contact with the bench. Your head, shoulders, and butt should make contact with the bench throughout the exercise.

Press the dumbbells to a position shoulder-width apart with your elbows slight bent. Keep the wrist in neutral position. Do not bend the wrists.

Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells in a wide arc until they are level with your shoulders. Keep the dumbbells parallel with each other during the movement.

Exhale and slowly return to starting position in the same wide arc pattern.


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Inclined dumbbell press

The incline dumbbell bench press is a great exercise for building mass on the upper chest.

Sit on an incline bench angled between 45 and 60 degrees,  grasping a dumbbell in each hand at the top of your thighs.

Then, use your thighs to help push the dumbbells up, as you lay back on the bench.

Your feet should be firmly on the floor, a raised platform, or on the bench in order to allow your spine to be in a neutral position. Pull your shoulder blades down and back so that they make firm contact with the bench.

Press the dumbbells to a position over your eyes or slightly higher, with your elbows straight. Wrists should be in a neutral position and palms facing forward.

Inhale and lower the dumbbells toward your upper chest, but slightly wider toward the armpits. Gently touch the dumbbells to your chest. Keep the elbows under the wrists and the wrists in a neutral position. Performing the exercise with the elbows close to your torso emphasizes more triceps. Performing the exercise with the elbows flared out from the body emphasizes more pectorals. Maintain all points of contact with the bench and keep your feet firmly on the floor throughout the exercise.

Exhale and gently press upwards to full elbow extension with the dumbbells over your eyes. Maintain your points of contact with the bench and floor. Do not allow your back to arch. Keep the wrists in a neutral position throughout the movement.

Repeat.


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Swiss ball dumbbell chest press

Changing the bench for a stability (Swiss) ball turns any exercise into a more challenging one because we have to stabilize the body. This requires focus and involves your core muscles.

Performing the dumbbell chest press on a Swiss ball will not only work your chest but your full core.

Sit on the ball holding one dumbbell in each hand and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly begin walking your feet forward as you tuck your tail under, lowering your spine onto the ball as you walk your feet away from the ball until your head, shoulders and upper back are resting on the ball. Knees are bent to about 90 degrees with your thighs and torso parallel to the floor. Brace your abs to stabilize your spine.

Pull your shoulders down and back until you feel your shoulder blades hugging the ball. With the dumbbells near your chest and palms facing forward, keep the wrist straight, not bent.

Exhale, focus on your chest, and press the dumbbells upward with your elbows straight but not locked. Keep your feet pressed into the floor and your hips pushed up towards the ceiling to maintain stability and control during the exercise.

Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position. Repeat.Imagine that a bar connects the dumbbells. Try to keep the dumbbells parallel with each other and wrists in neutral position. Your head,

Imagine that a bar connects the dumbbells. Try to keep the dumbbells parallel with each other and wrists in neutral position.


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Cobra pose

The Cobra pose sStretches muscles in the shoulders, chest, and abdominals. Also, decreases the stiffness of the lower back.

Lie on your stomach on a mat/floor with your hands under your shoulders and fingers facing forward. Legs should be straight and toes pointed.

Engage your abs to support the spine. Gently exhale. Press your hips into the mat. Lengthen the torso and curl your chest away from the ground while keeping your hips stable. Keep the shoulders rolling down and back. Hold this position and take 3-4 deep breathes.

Inhale one more time and gently lower your upper body back to the mat, lengthening the spine as you descend.

As the length of arms differs, individuals may often lift their hips off the mat as they fully extend their arms. In this case, limit the extension of your arms to keep the hips on the mat.

If you experience any pain in the low back with this movement, stop the exercise immediately.


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Swiss Ball Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

The primary muscle worked during the straight-arm pullover is the pectoralis major, which is the largest muscle in the chest. Your lats are also heavily involved. Both are responsible for performing shoulder extension during the pullover. The posterior head of the deltoid also assists shoulder extension. Your triceps brachii, at the back of your arms, work to keep your elbows extended as you lift and lower the dumbbell.

Sit on the stability ball holding the dumbbell with both hands. Slowly begin walking your feet forward as you tuck your tail under, lowering your spine onto the ball as you walk your feet away from the ball until your head, shoulders and upper back are resting on the ball. Feet should be parallel and shoulder width apart. Knees are bent to about 90 degrees with your thighs and torso at or nearly parallel to the floor. Distribute your weight evenly through your feet. Finally, lift the dumbbell straight up over your chest as the palms rest on the underside of one of the sides of the dumbbell.

Inhale and slowly lower the weight down in an arc behind your head, while keeping your arms straight, stretching out your chest.

Exhale as you return the dumbbell back to the starting position.


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Dumbbell Bench Press

The dumbbell bench press is an upper body exercise that strengthens the chest, shoulders, and triceps while improving muscular balance. Using dumbbells allows for a great range of motion in the chest and can also be easier on the shoulders and prevent pain.

Pick up the dumbbells off the floor, palms facing in. Position the ends of the dumbbells on your thighs, and sit down on the bench. To get in position, you need to rock back pushing the dumbbells back with your thighs and only slightly bending at the elbows.

Lie on your back with your feet firmly on the bench, your spine in neutral position. Pull your shoulder blades down and back so that they make firm contact with the bench.

Keeping your wrists in neutral, press the dumbbells toward the ceiling. With the elbows fully extended, the dumbbells should be above your chest.

Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest.

With elbows close to your sides the exercises emphasizes more triceps. If the elbows are flared out from the body the exercise emphasizes more pectorals. Do not allow the back to arch away from the bench. Maintain all points of contact with the bench and keep your feet firmly on the bench.

Exhale and gently press upward to straighten the elbows back to starting position.


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Stability ball Push ups

The stability ball pushup is an advanced progression of the traditional pushup that strengthens the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Performing the exercise on the stability ball, an unstable surface engages the core throughout the entire range of motion.

Lie  face down on the floor and place your hands  apart from each other holding your torso up at arms length. Place your toes on top of the exercise ball.

Inhale and lower yourself until your chest almost touches the floor. Keep your body straight.

Exhale and press your body back up to the starting position, using your pectoral muscles. Repeat.


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Standard Push-Up

One of the most fundamental exercises on earth. Treat the push-up with respect, and it’ll be a friend for life 🙂

Come to plank position. Engage the abdominals and pull the shoulder blades down your back. Your head should be aligned with your spine. Your feet are together.

Inhale and slowly bend the elbows, lowering your body toward the floor. Keep the torso engaged and the head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your lower back or ribcage to sag or your hips to hike upward.

To maintain stability also, engage your butt (glutes) and thigh (quadriceps) muscles. Try to lower yourself until your chest or chin touch the mat or floor.
Exhale and press upward through your arms, straightening the elbows. Imagine pushing the floor away from you.


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Pecs

We usually call our pectoral muscles “pecs”.  The first thing we need to know is that pectoral muscles are a group of muscles.

The pectoralis major makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female.

 

Origin:

  1. Medial 1/3 of the clavicle.
  2. Anterior aspect of manubrium & length of the body of the sternum.
  3. Cartilaginous attachments of upper 6 ribs.
  4. External oblique’s aponeurosis.

Insertion:

  1. Lateral lip of bicipital groove to the crest of the greater tubercle.
  2. Clavicular fibers insert more distally; sternal fibers more proximally.

It performs four actions:

  1. Flexion of the humerus, as in throwing a ball side-arm, and in lifting a child.
  2. Adducts the humerus, as when flapping the arms.
  3. Rotates the humerus medially, as occurs when arm-wrestling.
  4. Keeps the arm attached to the trunk of the body.
Pain and symptoms associated with the Pectoralis Major muscle
– Chest pain
– Pain in the front of the shoulder
– Pain in the inner arm, inner elbow traveling down to the into the middle and ring fingers
– Breast pain
– Upper back pain between and around the shoulder blades
– Pain when trying to reach behind the body
– Rounded shoulder posture
– Contributor to forward head posture
Activities that cause pain and symptoms of the pectoralis major muscle
– Lifting heavy objects
– Working with your arms out in front of you (computer)
– Driving and horseback riding: both require you to hold your arms up and in front of your body
– Keeping your shoulders rolled forward or pulled up
– Slouching
– Carrying a heavy purse or backpack on one shoulder
– Large breasts

The pectoralis minor is a thin, triangular muscle, situated at the upper part of the chest, beneath the pectoralis major. The pectoralis minor depresses the point of the shoulder, drawing the scapula inferior, towards the thorax, and throwing its inferior angle posteriorly.

 

Origin:

The outer surface of ribs 2-5 or 3-5 or 6.

Insertion:

Medial aspect of the coracoid process of the scapula.

Pain and symptoms associated with the Pectoralis Minor muscle
– Chest pain
– Burning and stabbing like pain in the pectoral (chest) area
– Pain in the front of the shoulder
– Pain in the inner arm, inner elbow traveling down to the into the fourth and fifth fingers
– Numbness in the inside of the forearm, wrist, hand and fingers
– Difficulty reaching forward and up
– Pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades
– Pain when reaching behind the body
– Rounded shoulder posture
Activities that cause pectoralis minor pain and symptoms
– Lifting heavy objects
– Pushing things away from the body
– Push ups
– Lifting objects with arms straight in front of the body
– Working with your arms out in front of you (computer)
– Keeping your shoulders rolled forward or pulled up
– Carrying a heavy purse or backpack on one shoulder
– Hyperventilation, difficulty breathing
– Chronic cough
– Under-wire bras
– Large breasts
– Whiplash

The subclavius is a small triangular muscle, placed between the clavicle and the first rib. Along with the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles, the subclavius muscle makes up the anterior wall of the axilla.

Subclavius

Origin:

First rib about the junction of bone and cartilage.

Insertion:

The lower surface of the clavicle.

The subclavius depresses the shoulder, carrying it downward and forward. It draws the clavicle inferiorly as well as anteriorly. Also, protects the underlying brachial plexus and subclavian vessels from a broken clavicle (the most frequently broken long bone).

Pain and symptoms associated with the subclavius muscle

– Pain below the collarbone
– Pain in the upper arm
– Sends pain down the forearm into the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger
– A reliable indicator of subclavius muscle dysfunction is a pain on the outside of the upper arm that skips over the elbow then extends into the forearm. Pain can also extend to the thumb, index, and middle finger while skipping over the wrist.
– The muscle can tighten restricting circulation to the arm and hand causing tingling and numbness

Activities that cause subclavius pain and symptoms

– Lifting heavy objects
– Working with your arms out in front of you (computer, driving)
– Keeping your shoulders rolled forward
– Sleeping on your side with your arm above your head
– Broken clavicle

 

The serratus anterior is found more laterally in the chest and, forms the medial wall of the axilla.

Serratus anterior

Origin:

Fleshy slips from the outer surface of upper 8 or 9 ribs.

Insertion:

The costal aspect of medial margin of the scapula.

The main action of the serratus anterior is to rotate the scapula, allowing the arm to be raised over 90 degrees. It also holds the scapula against the rib cage – this is particularly useful when upper limb reaches anteriorly (e.g punching).

Pain and symptoms associated with the Serratus anterior

– Pain on the side of the chest toward the middle of the ribcage
– Pain down the arm to the fourth and fifth fingers
– Pain below the shoulder blade
– Difficulty breathing
– Inability to take a deep breath
– Sharp pain in the side (side stitch)
– Pain and difficulty reaching behind the body
– Pain and difficulty when pulling shoulders back
– Sensitivity in and around the area of the breast

Activities that cause serratus anterior pain and symptoms

– Swimming
– Tennis
– Chin ups, Push ups
– Weightlifting
– Gymnastics
– Hyperventilation
– Severe coughing