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The very best of 2017: the most visited and liked articles.

As we close the books on 2017, I’ve rounded up the most popular reads. The best from the past year, all in one place.

50 reasons to exercise

How I run an online business, blog regularly, keep learning and manage my life with Evernote

30 Tofu healthy recipes

Weider´s training principles: The progressive overload principle

30 healthy turkey recipes

30 healthy squid recipes

My lower back routine

Elokenz: share your evergreen content

Evernote for Fitness

Barbell Deadlift

Swiss ball lower back stretch

Contest winner – Testimonial

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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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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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Deadlift

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your toes pointed forward or slightly outward and your feet so that the balls of your feet are lined up under the bar.

Squat down and firmly grasp the bar just outside of the knees using a closed, alternating grip. Thumbs should be wrapped around the bar with one hand facing up, the other hand facing down.

Keep your spine in neutral position. Your shoulders should pull down your back. Keep your chest lifted and your head in line with your spine or chin slightly lifted. Your heels are on the floor and your shoulders are over or slightly in front of the bar. Your gaze should be facing straight ahead or slightly upward.

Before lifting, engage your abs to protect your spine. Straighten your knees and hips at the same time, bringing the bar off the floor and coming to a full standing position. You are pushing your feet down into the floor as you return to a full standing position. The barbell will rest against the front of your thighs with your arms straight, and shoulders pulled down and back. Your goal is to keep the bar close to your body as it moves upward.

Your hips and knees bend simultaneously. As you lower your hips the knees bend and will start to shift forward slowly. Try to prevent your knees from traveling forward past the toes. Keep the abs engaged and keep your back flat.

Lower the hips and shoulders together. Do not allow the spine to round. Keep the back long and shoulder blades pulling down. Imagine holding a pencil between your shoulder blades throughout both phases of the movement.

The technique is very important in this lift. Two common mistakes are over arching the low back during the lifting and lowering phases and not raising and lowering the hips and shoulders together.

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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 hip crossover

The stability ball hip crossover increases rotational strength of the midsection. The exercise targets the core, hips, and lower back while also improving balance and stability.

Lie flat on back with arms outstretched to your sides. Bend your knees to 90 degrees and prop your lower legs on the ball.

Exhale and gently roll your legs to one side in a controlled manner. Pause, and then slowly roll to the opposite side as you inhale. Repeat.


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Knees to the chest and roll

This is an excellent exercise to massage and treat with care our lower back.

Pull the knees up towards the chest and stretch the hips and lower back. The lumbar spinal area is pressed into the floor. Roll up and down and from side to side upon the lower back. This loosens into the hip joint and massages and stimulates the lower back.

The hardness and firmness of the floor are important and should be used to press into stiff, tight areas. The back may crunch and snap :)
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Supermans Level 3

Supermans Level 3 will burn our lower back. Again, no equipment is required.

Lay face down on a mat, with your arms extended.

Exhale and contract your lower back and glutes, lifting your chest and legs up off the ground. Keep your hands and arms straight throughout the exercise.

Hold a few seconds. Inhale, back to initial position and repeat.

There are some other variations and yoga poses but luckily they are not called “supermans”.

All of them are safe and effective when it comes to building strength in our lower back. There is life beyond deadlift!


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Supermans Level 2

Supermans Level 2 is another easy exercise for our lower back. No equipment is required.

Lay face down on a mat, with your arms extended.

Exhale and lift your chest up off the ground using your back muscles. Keep your hands and arms straight throughout the exercise.

Hold this position a few seconds. Inhale and back to initial position. Repeat, chasing perfection :)


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Supermans Level 1

There are several levels and variations of this exercise.

Supermans Level 1 is similar to Bird-Dog but sometimes, one simple change makes a huge difference. As the name suggests, this exercise puts you in a position that emulates Superman while he flies, which also explain why so many levels and variations :) Doing this exercise correctly and safely is simple and requires nothing more than your body and the floor. Well, You may wish to lay down a mat or rug to avoid laying directly on the floor, this is not Sparta :)

This is a great exercise for strengthening your lower back and toning your glutes.

Lie face down on your stomach with the arms and the legs extended.

Slowly, lift your left leg and right arm. Hold 2-5 seconds and back to starting position and alternate sides. Exhale as you lift your arms and legs up off the ground. Inhale, as you lower your arms and legs back down.

Don´t pull. Focus on your back and glute muscles, gently rising as much as you can. Probably you feel easier one side than the other. Don´t worry, there is always a weak side :)
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