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Barbell Deadlift

The deadlift is an excellent compound exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, lower back, traps, and forearms. If it´s not done properly, you can seriously injure yourself (such as a herniated disc).

Place the barbell on the ground in front of you and add plates according to your strength and fitness level. Beginners usually start lifting just the barbell, since a typical barbell weighs between 25 and 45 pounds on its own.

  1. With your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes pointing forward or slightly outward, and the barbell is at the midpoint of your feet.
  2. Bend your knees and hips and sit back as if you were going to sit, while you reach down to grab the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Grip the bar with both palms facing you. This is the normal or double overhand grip. You can use the mixed grip later when you can’t hold it with a normal grip.
  4. Push your knees out; don’t let them collapse in. Keep your back straight. Bend from the hips rather than from your waist. This is the starting position.
  5. Always make sure your back is completely flat and straight. If there is any kind of bend in your back, you need to do some flexibility work before deadlifting.
  6. Begin the movement by pushing through your heels and straightening your knees. Engage your hamstrings and glutes to pull the bar up.
  7. Raise your hips and shoulders at the same rate while maintaining your back straight. Keep your abs tight during the whole lift. The bar should drag along your shins on the way up.
  8. Come to a standing position with upright posture and your shoulders pulled back, don’t let your shoulders cave forward. Don’t bend backward at all, just stand up straight.
  9. Keeping your back straight, return the bar to the starting position in a controlled manner. Push your butt out as if you are going to sit down in a chair. Do not arch your back.
  10. Repeat until completing the prescribed number of repetitions.
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Foam roller: Hamstrings Relief

Tight hamstrings are a common issue among all kind of athletes, no matter the sport. Even non-athletes suffer from tight hamstrings, especially professionals who sit for extended periods of time. Foam rolling the hamstrings is an effective solution for this problem.

Stretching may be more beneficial if foam rolling is done prior to the stretch. A study from 2014, Foam Rolling and Static Stretching on Passive Hip Flexion Range of Motion, measures the effects of foam rolling prior to static stretching. The authors found an increase in the hip range of motion after rolling on the hamstring then stretching, compared to stretching alone.

In my experience, tight hamstrings cause lower back pain. Countless times the pain is gone once I take care of my hamstrings. As foam rolling the lower back is something we should NOT do, loosen up your hamstrings is an indirect way to relieve pain and tightness in the lower back area.

Read the main instructions on how to foam rolling, here.

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Single Leg Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

Once you master the stability ball hamstring curl, you should try the single leg variation.

Lie on your back on a mat, placing your lower heels on the top of the stability ball. Your feet should be lined up with your hips and your toes pulled slightly toward the ceiling. Contract your abs and extend your arms out to your sides with palms turned to the floor to help stabilize your body during the exercise.

Lift your hips up off the floor. Do not lift the hips so high that the lower back begins to arch. Continue to press upwards until your body is in a straight line from your heels to your shoulder blades. Extend one leg to the ceiling.

Exhale and gently bend your knee and pull the ball toward your hips. The hips will continue to lift as you pull the ball toward your hips. Keep the torso stable.

Inhale and slowly press the ball away from your hips until the knee is straight, stabilizing with the core, hamstrings, glutes, and arms. Repeat and change legs.

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Modified Hurdler Stretch

This exercise stretches our lower back and hamstrings. You may feel it stretches other parts of your body. That´s a clear sign you need to stretch more often.

Sit on the mat with your legs outstretched in front of you, toes pointed toward the ceiling and knees straight. Bend your left knee and place the sole of the left foot against the inside of your right thigh. Sit as tall and straight as possible keeping your head aligned with your spine. Place your hands on the top of your right thigh.

Engage your abs to stabilize your spine. Exhale and slowly bend forward from your hips, sliding your hands toward your ankle. The knee should remain straight with the toes pointed toward the ceiling. Hold this position as you take a few breaths.

Relax and return to your starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.

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Forward Bend With Rounded Back

This stretch targets both hamstrings as well as the lower back. To enjoy all the benefits a forward bend has to offer, find just the right amount of rounding in your back.

Sit on a mat/floor with your legs extended in front of you. Point your toes towards the ceiling without bending your knees. Sit up tall. Try to make your torso vertical to the floor and your head aligned with your spine. Place your hands on the floor or on the top of your thighs. Engage your abs to stabilize your spine.

Gently exhale as you slowly hinge forward at the hips, sliding your hands down your legs toward your ankles. Try to keep the back flat. Do not allow your back to round. Keep your head aligned with your spine, knees straight and toes pointed upwards toward the ceiling. This should create a stretch through your calves and hamstrings, with some stretching in your low and middle back.

Continue to bend and reach forward to the point of tension in the stretch, but do not bounce or push to a point of pain. Hold this position and take 3-4 deep breathes. Release the stretch and return to starting position. Repeat.

Add to your calendar, full workouts:
Strength training: two different routines to make your muscles grow.
Fat loss: Six training circuits to help you lose those extra pounds.
Quick fixes: Easy routine to take care of your back after a hard day of blogging.

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Dumbbell Deadlift

The dumbbell deadlift builds strength in the lower body as well as the back, shoulders, and core, making it a great total-body exercise. By using dumbbell we’re able to achieve a greater range of motion. Starting with dumbbells can also be helpful when you’re learning the movement as they allow for lower total weight to be used.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your toes pointed forward or slightly outward. Grab one dumbbell with each hand, palms facing your body. Keep your spine in neutral position, your chest lifted and your head in line with your spine.
Brace your abs to stabilize your spine. The hips and shoulders should rise together. The objective is to keep the dumbbells close to your body as they move upward.
Inhale and hinge forward at your hips and shoulders together, bending the knees, lowering the dumbbells to the ground without allowing your back to round. Brace core and lift back to the starting position.
Exhale and lift back to the starting position, straighten your knees and hips to come to a full standing position with your elbows straight and the dumbbells resting against the sides of your thighs. The hips and shoulders should rise together. The objective is to keep the dumbbells close to your body as they move upward. Repeat.

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Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

An excellent exercise for your hamstrings with no weight.
Lie on your back on a mat, placing your lower heels on the top of the stability ball. Your feet should be lined up with your hips and your toes pulled slightly toward the ceiling. Contract your abs and extend your arms out to your sides with palms turned to the floor to help stabilize your body during the exercise.
Lift your hips up off the floor. Press your heels into the ball for additional stability. Do not lift the hips so high that the lower back begins to arch. Continue to press upwards until your body is in a straight line from your heels to your shoulder blades.
Exhale and gently bend your knees and pull the ball toward your hips. Your toes may point away from your body in this movement. The hips will continue to lift as you pull the ball toward your hips. Keep the torso stable.
Inhale and slowly press the ball away from your hips until the knees are straight, stabilizing with the core, hamstrings, glutes, and arms. Repeat.

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Stability ball squat

The squat targets the quads, hamstrings and glutes but also improves balance and stability throughout the core and on both sides of the body.

Place a stability ball against a wall and gently lean against it, positioning the top of the ball into the small of your back.

Your feet should be hip-width apart with toes facing forward or turned out slightly.

Pull your shoulders blades down and back. Do not allow your low back to pull away from the ball. Gently lean into the ball, as you shift your weight into your heels.

Inhale and begin to lower the body, keeping the tailbone, low and mid-back against the ball as you bend your knees.

Push back with your hips, allowing them to drop under the ball. The ball will glide down the wall with you as you lower your body toward the floor. Do not move the feet. Continue to lower yourself until challenged or until your thighs align parallel to the floor.

Exhale and slowly push up away from the floor. Extend your hips to bring them back underneath your body. Continue pushing upward, returning to your starting position. Repeat.

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Squat with Resistance Bands

The squat is a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily the thighhips, and butt,  as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs, as well as developing core strength.

Squats with resistance bands offer many options and are super effective. You can do bands squats with arms up, arms down, connected to the bottom of the door and so on. If you are used to heavy squats with weights, you will LOVE squats with bands. The pain in your knees and back will be considerably less.

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Dumbbell Front Squat

An effective squat pattern is essential to most exercises. The dumbbell front squat targets the quads, hamstrings and glutes but also improves balance and stability throughout the core and on both sides of the body.

Stand with your feet wider than hip-width. Hold a dumbbell with each hand, with your palms facing each other. Engage your abs to stabilize your spine. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Curl the dumbbells to a position where they rest in front of your shoulders. Keep your chest up lifted and your chin parallel to the ground. Shift your weight into your heels.

Inhale and bend your hips and knees simultaneously. As you lower your hips the knees bend and will start to shift forward slowly. Try to prevent your knees from going forward past the toes. Keep the abds engaged and try to keep your back flat (do not tuck the butt or arch the low back).

Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. If your heels begin to lift off the floor or your torso begins to round, return to start position. Work to ensure that the feet do not move, the ankles do not collapse in or out and the knees remain lined up with the second toe.

Exhale and return to start position by pushing your feet into the floor through your heels. The hips and torso should rise together. Keep the heels flat on the floor and knees aligned with the second toe.

 

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Lunges

You can do lunges anywhere and the effects can be seen in no time, in the form of shapely, toned legs and backside. Lunges are a good exercise for strengthening, sculpting and building several muscles/muscle groups, including the quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as the glutes. A long lunge emphasizes the use of the gluteals whereas a short lunge emphasizes the quadriceps. It is a basic movement that is fairly simple to do for beginners.

Some people tend to avoid lunges because it can put too much strain on the knees. If you feel pain, take smaller steps. Increase your lunge distance as your pain gets better. Some people also find that doing a reverse lunge instead of a forward lunge also helps reduce knee strain.

Stand with your torso upright holding two dumbbells in your hands by your sides.

In preparation to step forward, slowly lift one foot off the floor and find your balance on the standing leg. Try not to move the standing foot and maintain balance. Hold this position briefly before stepping forward. The raised foot should land on the heel first. Slowly shift your body weight onto the lead foot, placing it firmly on the floor.

Inhale and lower your upper body down, while keeping the torso upright and maintaining balance. Do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put more stress on the knee. Keep your front shin perpendicular to the ground.

Exhale, push up activating your thighs and butt muscles to return to your upright, starting position.. Repeat or change legs