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How Women Can Tone Arms with Seated Dumbbell Curls

Here is a simple guide for women who want to tone their arms by doing seated curls with dumbbells.
I’m a certified personal trainer, and this article is about how women can tone the front of their upper arms with a simple exercise called seated dumbbell curls.

Seated dumbbell curls target the biceps muscles of the upper arm, and thus will tone this area, an area that many women are concerned about.

Seated dumbbell curls can be done on a standard weight lifting bench without a back support; on a weight lifting chair with a back support; on a weight lifting bench that folds upward with an angled back support; and on a stability ball.

It doesn’t matter which type of seating you choose, because when performed properly, dumbbell curls will tone the biceps region of a woman’s upper arm.

How to Do Seated Dumbbell Curls for Toning the Arms: Basic Motion
Begin while seated, arms hanging straight at sides, holding the weights. “Curl” the dumbbells up. Keep your upper arms in a vertical position. Do not press your elbows into your sides, but also do not allow your arms to flare out away from your sides either.

Just let the upper portion hang naturally as your elbow bends (flexes). As you bring the dumbbells up, your palms should be facing forward, then coming towards you. Thus, in the start position, the palms are facing forward.

How high should you bring up the weights? This isn’t about bring the weights up as high as possible. It’s about imposing a work stimulus on the biceps muscles. This is easily accomplished by bringing the dumbbells up high enough so that they’re a little bit higher than your breasts.

You do not need to bring the dumbbells up to shoulder level. If you try to do this, your upper arms will start moving forward. Remember, the upper arms should remain in a vertical position, not moving!

Once you reach the apex of the movement, lower the dumbbells with control, back to the starting position.

How to Do Seated Dumbbell Curls for Toning the Arms: Resistance
Beginners should do 20 repetitions to get used to this exercise and master good form. Once this is achieved, increase the load so that 15 reps are challenging, without losing good form. It’s not about how much weight you’re lifting; it’s about what load makes 15 reps challenging.

Over time, increase the resistance so that 12-15 reps are very challenging. Whenever the 12-15 rep range loses its challenge, it’s time to increase the weight.

How to Do Seated Dumbbell Curls for Toning the Arms: Frequency
Twice a week is all that’s needed, and four to five sets per session with one minute of rest in between will suffice. Never work the same muscle two days in a row.

Can Women Learn to Do Unassisted Parallel Bar Dips?

In the past decade I have seen maybe three woman, besides my clients, doing unassisted parallel bar dips. Why is this?
Credit: Bigstock
Why don’t women do parallel bar dips without assistance? Can women learn to do such parallel bar dips? Of course they can! I’m a certified personal trainer, and I myself do unassisted parallel bar dips (I’m a woman) as part of my triceps routine, and I attach weight to my waist, to boot.

The reason is clear why women don’t do parallel bar dips: They are freaking difficult. The average man off the street can’t do a parallel bar dip attempt much better than the average woman. That is how hard they are. It’s a completely unnatural motion. If you clicked on this article, you know what a parallel bar dip is, so I’m not going to describe it.

A woman does not need to be skinny to do a parallel bar dip, though if a woman is overweight, even slightly, this will be pretty much like a lean woman trying parallel bar dips with a 20-pound weight plate strapped to her waist.

Here are the prerequisites for learning parallel bar dips, whether you’re a man or a woman: 1. Having reasonable weight for your height. I wouldn't recommend this workout for people who need to lose a lot of weight. 2. No rotator cuff problems. If you have tweaky shoulders, let alone some kind of rotator cuff problem, then stay away from parallel bar dips.

Here is the training regimen for achieving unassisted parallel bar dips--even if you're a woman--yes!

1. First do two or three rope drop-sets of triceps push-downs, or your standard seated dip routine. Then you can do a few easy sets of seated chest presses to loosen up the rotator cuff and chest. This will get the blood circulating before the workout.

Never attempt parallel bar dip training on cold, stiff shoulder joints. A little pre-fatigue is very good for them. Next, stretch your shoulder joints in between sets. Then find a Gravitron or some other type of dip-assist apparatus.

2. Set the assistance such that you can easily dip 12 times. This first set is strictly to loosen up and stretch the shoulder area even further.

3. Your arms should never bend more than 90 degrees. Keep your back straight. Do not pitch forward as you dip. Many women pitch way forward on these machines. A little pitching is fine, but be very aware of how much you're tilting forward. When you get to 90 degrees, hold it there for 2-3 seconds. When you push back up, do not lock out your elbows. Come back down after half a second.

4. Now, set the assistance so that you can barely get out eight reps; the last two or three should be very difficult. Repeat the techniques from No. 3 above, including that 2-3 second hold.

5. Rest 90-120 seconds. You may think this is too long a rest. If you do, then the assistance you're using is too much, believe it or not. The effort for the last two or three reps should literally take all you've got. If it's too difficult to do eight, then adjust the assistance. Strive to lower assistance by 5-10 pounds every week until you no longer need it.

6. If you're already doing independent parallel bar dips, get in the habit of holding the down position for 2-3 seconds. If you can do more than eight reps this way, attach a weight to your waist with a "dip belt." Don't let your body rock as you dip; keep it controlled. Your body should always be vertical. Do not let it swing such that your chest is tilting towards the floor.

When women do unassisted parallel bar dips, it gets attention, because it is so rare to see women doing these. It’s common to see women on the Gravitron and like machines using assistance. But no assistance? I can count on one hand the number of women I’ve seen in my entire life performing this fabulous compound exercise without assistance. It shouldn’t be that way.

Can Overweight or Heavy People Learn Seated Dips?

Should heavy or overweight people attempt seated dips?

Have you ever seen overweight people doing seated dips with straight legs and feet propped up? You may have seen heavy people doing seated dips  --  but heavy from having a body of rock hard muscle is not the same as heavy from having a body of excess fat. I’m a certified personal trainer, and the only very heavy person I’ve ever seen doing seated dips was one of my clients.

My female client weighed 250 pounds and was about 5-6, yet I had her doing seated dips with straight legs and feet propped up. Thus, it’s very possible for overweight people, even obese, to do seated dips this way. 

However, I had better point out that this particular client had a lot of natural strength to begin with. She was my strongest female client and had an athletic background.

I did not and do not have any of my other overweight clients, including men, attempting seated dips. What would be the point? All that extra weight would potentially stress their shoulder joints and cause tendon injury. There are plenty of triceps routines that heavy people can do.

In fact, the triceps muscles can be worked a million ways. The reason I had the 250 pound woman start with the dips training was because I had a gut feeling she could knock them off  --  with her legs straight and feet propped up. And I was right.

And what was the point? I wanted to see just how strong she was, and this exercise also provided for her a different, more interesting type of routine. Seated dips are one of the best ways to tighten up the back of the upper arms. I also knew that the tendons in her shoulders were strong enough to handle this exercise.

But again, she was an extreme exception. She was the fittest fat woman I ever knew, and did not represent the typical obese woman.

There’s a reason why you will never see overweight people doing seated dips: 
This exercise is inherently difficult.
Now when I say “overweight,” I’m talking about an overweight that’s obvious or quite noticeable, as opposed to just 10 extra pounds. Certainly, a person who’s 10 or 15 pounds too heavy can work with this exercise with the legs straight and feet propped up.

But a person who can only be described as “chunky,” “hefty,” “portly,” or the like, will find seated dips with straight legs and feet on the floor nearly impossible, let alone feet propped up. In fact, I guarantee that even with feet on the floor, the overweight person won’t even be able to dip down all the way and then come back up without having to really bend their legs and push up with their legs. The legs in a true seated dip should not do any of the work, should not assist at all, so that the triceps group is isolated.

If you’ve seen people performing seated dips, legs straight, feet propped up, with a weight plate on their lap, you might think that this is the same as an overweight person doing a seated dip. It’s not. That fit, lean person with that metal plate on their lap has been dip training for a while and has developed strength in their shoulder joints to handle extraneous weight. They have more muscle mass than that typical rotund person.

If you’re overweight and would like to try seated dips, go ahead and gradually work on this exercise, but realize that this routine can be precarious to your shoulder joints. Ask a person with an injured rotator cuff (regardless of how the cuff got injured) if they can do seated dips (if they normally do this exercise). They’ll tell you it hurts.

Again, seated dips are inherently difficult. This is why you’ll often see lean people struggling with them, especially women. The average lean man off the street cannot do seated dips with legs straight out and feet propped up. It’s a learned motion.

And when you see men at the gym knocking off seated dips with legs straight out and feet propped up, is it not true that in almost every case, the man is lean and quite buff? “Lean” doesn’t mean skinny here; it means low body fat. You’ll see thin but “soft” people struggling with this classic triceps exercise, because they don’t have enough muscle mass to support the motion.

Biggest Mistake with Standing Barbell Curls

Standing barbell curls are much more effective when you execute correct form.
For best results, standing barbell curls need to be done correctly. I’m a certified personal trainer. All the time I see people incorrectly doing standing barbell curls.

The reason people do standing barbell curls is to focus on the biceps muscles, to get stronger, bigger, better looking biceps muscles. The standing barbell curl is a single-joint, or “isolation” exercise. The objective is to isolate the biceps and get them working hard.

The biggest mistake that people often commit with standing biceps curls is that, as they hoist up the weight, they swing their back into a big arch. There is a lot of swinging going on with each repetition. The exercise no longer isolates the biceps muscles because the swinging causes other muscles to get involved.

If the back-swing is a tough habit to break, then do these barbell curls while standing against a wall.
Another way to break this bad habit is to simply use a lighter amount of weight, and watch yourself in the mirror. Have someone monitor you as well, since you may not be aware of the extent with which you cheat. When you execute proper form, and isolate your biceps, you'll really feel them start to burn.

Another mistake I see with standing biceps curls is that a person will release the weight too quickly, eliminating the “negative” or eccentric phase of the repetition. The negative is very important; this is when most muscle fiber breakdown occurs. And in order to build a muscle up, it must first be broken down. The negative should be done with control and take at least two seconds. A little loose form is okay for the last few reps, but not for the entire set.

What about hand placement for the standing barbell curl? About shoulder width works best, give or take. The bar may be the “E-Z” type or the straight kind.

You can refine your form with standing barbell curls further by keeping the upper arms vertical as you lift up the weight, and keep them against your sides. A little space in between is fine, though, but make sure that your upper arms don’t begin flaring out, either.

As you bring the weight up to it’s high point, squeeze the barbell tightly for an extra pump, and flex the biceps for a solid two-count, before lowering the weight back to the starting position. Aim for an eight to 12 repetition max (to muscle failure).

Best Way to Do Triceps Pushdowns with Rope

Let’s pick apart the triceps rope press-down and make it work perfectly
Most people haphazardly grab that rope and yank down with it, then let their arms fly back up, hands at face level, and then jerk it back down. Often, their upper arms flare out, and/or their entire body is hunched forward or even twisted. The whole body gets involved, rather than isolating the triceps.

As a personal trainer, I have many clients do triceps press-downs with the rope.
  
       Upper arms: Keep them glued to your sides at all times, no space in between. Keep them vertical and immobile at all times to isolate the triceps. The minute your upper arms shift forward, your shoulders start helping out.
       Posture: Nearly vertical at all times; a little forward-lean is fine, but don’t hunch or exaggerate it. As you execute reps (explained below), keep your body still. Do not sway or jerk it.
       Lower arms: The start position has them parallel to floor. After pressing down the rope (details follow), return the lower arms back to at least parallel. Do not go more than an inch past parallel. Otherwise, you’ll go into rest mode. You must keep your triceps under constant tension.
       Hands and wrists: When people push down the rope, they almost always severely bend their wrists outward or toward their hips, forcing the rope into a bell-shape. (Think “bell curve” on charts). 
       Or, the rope resembles the shape of a horseshoe. Bending or rotating the wrists makes the person think he or she is fully completing the extension. Not so! At full extension, the rope should be in a crisp, upside-down V shape, and the wider the V, the better. Wrists should be somewhat flexed. 
       You know you’re doing this right when the rope is in the shape of a V. Ask someone to tell you what shape you have the rope in.
       Both sides of the rope should be nearly straight. Make the upside-down V is as wide as possible while keeping upper arms glued to your sides. (Adjust weight as needed.) This hits the long head of the triceps. 
       Once you’ve obtained this positioning, with the rope in a V-shape, hold that position for three seconds, rather than letting the rope immediately bounce right back up.

Reps and Sets for Triceps Rope Press-downs
Set weight so that you can barely do eight reps, while maintaining precise form. A little “loose” form towards the last reps is permissible as you reach failure, but don’t stray too much. (If you can do more than eight reps on the first set, increase weight).
        If you follow the above techniques with passionate loyalty, your triceps should be stinging just after the first set.
       After the eighth rep, immediately lower weight by 30 pounds, and without rest, do another eight. By the time you’re done, your triceps should be smoking. Without rest, drop weight another 30 pounds and do a third set of eight. Your triceps now should feel as though someone put a sledgehammer to them.
       Rest 90-120 seconds, and do two more drop-set rounds. Note: It will be difficult to execute the wide V for the last few reps of sets 1 and 2. But no matter how much your triceps sizzle, keep your upper arms vertical and at your sides, hold the V for three seconds, and do not bend the rope into the shape of a bell or horseshoe!

Woman and the triceps rope press:
The protocol calls for weight reductions of 30 pounds for the second and third set. However, the starting weight for some women may be only 40-50 pounds, taking into consideration the new restrictions on form. 
       Stronger women will be able to do 60-70. If you can only do 50 or less, then the next set should be 20 pounds less, and so on. If you can do 60, the second set should be 35-40, and so on.
        The triceps rope pushdown, though an isolation movement, can help build big triceps. What’s key here is performing the triceps rope press-down with perfect form and no cheating.

What Is Panaerobics: Fat Burning Exercise Approach

Panaerobics is a fun form of cardio exercise that amplifies fat burning.
The word “panaerobics” was coined by Dr. Len Schwartz years ago, and it’s a fusion of panorama and aerobics: whole body aerobics.  

I’m a certified personal trainer, and have done panaerobics using dumbbells. In panaerobics, you perform cardio (usually walking) while simultaneously performing upper body movements with very light hand weights, yielding a high fat burn.

Panaerobics exercises are typically done with 1 to 10 pound weights. The upper body and lower body exercise at the same time.

Panaerobics differs from straight endurance exercise (such as running, cycling or even step aerobics with the arm choreography) because it builds an element of strength due to the hand weights—strength building while building cardiorespiratory fitness.

This doesn’t mean that panaerobics is a substitute for traditional strength training; it’s still a cardio-centric modality. What results from panaerobics is endurance-strength.

Remember, the weight range is 1 to 10 pounds so that you can sustain long duration—loading as much muscle you can while performing aerobic exercise like walking—a great fat burning workout.

Panaerobics burns tons of fat. Because so much muscle mass is being worked simultaneously, a significant calorie burn results. Photos of Dr. Schwartz in his early 80s are shocking: a ripped physique.

Panaerobics does not include counting reps; you perform reps throughout the duration of the walking, stationary bike pedaling, or use of an elliptical machine or stair climber.

Start out with very light weights; beginners will tire very quickly even with just 1-pounders. Go for time lapse, such as 15 minutes nonstop for your first session.

Just like your legs won’t stop during the session, the upper body movements don’t stop, though they can change. It may take time to find the right rhythm.

Some examples of upper body movements: shoulder press, frontal raise, side (lateral) raise, side flye, biceps curl, biceps curl to shoulder press, side raise followed by front raise, front cross-overs, cross or uppercut punching motions, or any other combinations that come to mind. The more vertical the lifting, the more taxing on the muscles.

You need not perform every conceivable motion in one workout. Rather than focusing on increasing the weight during a short session, focus on increasing duration with the same weight.

An hour-long panaerobics session with 2-pound weights will blitz the body and burn substantial fat. Don’t turn this into merely an extra long weight lifting session (e.g., walking for just five minutes while doing shoulder presses with 20 lb. dumbbells—this is not panaerobics).

Remember, the upper body reps go in synch with the lower body movement. This means if you’re walking, each shoulder press or frontal press coincides with each footstep. For pedaling, find a rhythm that upper and lower body share.

If you need to take a rest at some point and just keep the weights hanging at your sides, that’s fine; panaerobics is very fatiguing to those who’ve never done it.

Muscle-Building Chest Workout: Tension Tubes (Resistance Bands)

Here is how to actually build chest muscle and strength with tension tubes
(resistance bands).
You can actually build chest muscle and strength with tension tubes (resistance bands). I’m a certified personal trainer and I will describe a great resistance tube chest routine. Tension in a resistance band can be modified by changing your distance from the tubing’s anchor point. Resistance tubes come in varying degrees of tension as well.

For any chest workout, first warm up with light dumbbells, or if you don’t have any, use tension bands at light resistance. After the warm-up, securely anchor the tension band for Standing Chest Presses.

Step #1: Always perform chest pressing motions with one foot forward (and this forward leg is bent as though you’re starting to go into a lunge), and one leg back and straight (but not locked). This forward stance provides stability.

Step #2: Figure out how far you must stand, from the tension band’s anchor point, so that pushing the handles away from your chest, for a total of 12 times, requires a challenging to difficult level of exertion.

Press handles out all the way (just short of a full elbow-lockout). Do not short-change yourself by pushing out only part-way. Push all the way out, and try not to pitch your body forward; strive to keep back vertical, though a little forward bend is fine.

Release the tubing, but with control; don’t let arms snap back to your sides. You want a good “negative” portion. Bring hands back so that they are just a little bit ahead of chest. Now press out again for the next rep. Twelve of these should create a nice muscle burn for the first set.

Step #3: Immediately (no rest!) after completing the twelfth rep, hands just ahead of chest, step closer to the anchor point (keep your back to it). How much you should step back varies and will require experimentation, but the objective is to allow enough reduced tension so that you can do another 12 reps (though if all you can do are 8, that is fine).

In other words, you’re performing drop-sets with tension tubes, to build chest muscles and strength. So step back enough to provide reduced resistance, but don’t overdo it. This next set needs to be challenging or difficult. If you can’t extend arms all the way, the tension is not reduced enough. Step back (closer to the anchor) a bit more, and try again.

Step #4: Repeat step No. 3 for a third set: a drop-set routine consisting of three sets total. However, if you want to do four sets total, then do so.

When you get to the third (or fourth) set, you may find that you’re not far enough away from the anchor to provide tension at the start of the repetition (the resistance band is slack when your hands are just ahead of chest).

If this happens, the remedy is to switch to a lighter-tension tubing and step far enough from the anchor to get tension from the beginning of the rep, and far enough away from anchor to make the work challenging or difficult.

Have the lighter-tension tubing ready so that you can rapidly affix it to the anchor between sets as you drop the sets, and quickly get back into position for the next set. There should be no rest in between (other than the time it takes to adjust distance from anchor point and perhaps change tubing).

For the lighter resistance band, you may have to step really, really far away from the anchor to get a challenging level of tension. The tubing will not break.

Summary: Standing chest presses in drop-set form (3-4 sets, no rest in between), with less tension on each succeeding set, using possibly two resistance bands. Press out all the way, just shy of a full elbow-lockout. Face both palms ahead, down, or towards each other.

Do six to eight drop-set routines (i.e., at least six drop-sets consisting of three to four sets). The last set of a drop cycle can be a standing chest flye. Time in between each cycle: 90 seconds.

If you follow these steps to a tee, your muscles will be killing you at the conclusion, because drops are a proven intensity technique for building muscle and strength.

Anchor points: Look around your house for any secure point with which to “thread” the tension tubing through, or wrap around. Do some test runs first to make sure that the tubing does not fly off or dislodge the anchor point. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of resistance bands for building chest muscle and strength.

Four Body Stretches Your Fitness Routine Should Include

Here are four very important body stretches that should be part of your fitness routine.


There are four stretches that I, a personal trainer, consider to be musts in any fitness program.

Hip Flexor Stretch
There are different ways to stretch these muscles, which are at the top front of the thigh. Lie on the floor with both legs straight. Pull one knee into your chest while keeping the other leg straight. If you can’t keep it straight, you have tight hip flexors. Hold 30 seconds for each leg. This is the best and easiest hip flexor stretch.

Chest Stretch
Stand between a doorway, or between two fixed objects of comparable distance, and place forearms alongside the door frame. Lean forward to stretch the pecs.
        
Or, with one hand grab ahold of any stable object about neck height, arm straight, and turn slightly in the opposite direction. This will create a gentle pull to the chest muscle on that side. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.
         
A third way is to simply hold your arms up, forearms parallel to each other and in front of your chest, then expand your arms out as though in the start position of an overhead dumbbell press.  But expand them out far enough to feel a stretch in the chest.
  
Hamstring Stretch
Stand with legs apart (shoulder width or wider), and, bending at the hips, lower your torso as far as you can go, feeling the stretch in the hamstrings. Another stretch is to sit on the floor with both legs in a V.
        
Now, bend one leg in so that the foot of that leg is against the opposite inner thigh. Bending at the hips, lean torso towards the knee of the straight leg and try to touch your toes.
       
A third stretch is to prop a foot onto a height such as a bench or stool, and keeping the leg straight, lean towards the knee. Hold stretches for 30 seconds. Do not bounce or force the stretch.

Dynamic Stretch
A dynamic stretch is when you stretch the muscle without supporting it, but rather, by moving it. A dynamic hamstring stretch would be a high front kicking motion (or as high as you can get the leg).
       
A mobility drill might be standing on one leg while repeatedly bringing the other knee up high in front. This will stretch the hamstring-glute tie-in, while strengthening the hip flexors.
      
A dynamic hip flexor stretch would be to place your hands on a bar or stable object about the height of the back of a chair, then do mule kicks or back kicks as high as you can with minimal bend in the kicking leg. This is hip extension and will strengthen the glutes while actively stretch the hip flexors.

Does Rock Climbing Make Hands Bigger?

So is it true, or not, that rock climbing makes one’s hands bigger?
 
A study from the University of Tennessee investigated whether or not rock climbing put the athletes at a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis.

And in the process, the researchers discovered that indeed, rock climbers’ bones in the fingers and hands had a greater cross-sectional area, and greater total width. This suggests that additional bone was being deposited on the bones’ external surface.

Does this translate to bigger hands from rock climbing? Well, for sure, it means larger or thicker bones  --  but would this necessarily cause the actual appendage to measure bigger, as in, longer fingers, greater finger diameter, greater palm width?

My mother began studying classical piano at a very young age. She’s four inches shorter than me, yet her hands are larger than mine, and I have large ones relative to my height – not super large, but I’ve noticed that they are larger than other women my height or even several inches or more taller. Maybe this is from years of competitive volleyball. It could also be natural.

My mother’s finger span width is greater than mine. When we put hands together at the palms, it’s obvious that hers are larger than mine. This has to be from the decades of piano playing. I’d venture to say that the increased size occurred while she was still growing.

But do larger hands mean that they are stronger (other than in a specific sport or activity that made them that way)? No. My mother’s hands are not stronger than mine, and never were (except when I was a child, of course). She’s always asking me to unscrew jar lids. I don’t have proof that piano is why my mother’s hands are bigger than mine, but it certainly stands to reason. And she is not a “big boned” person, either.

The study on rock climbers shows that the cortical bone thickness is increased in their fingers and hands. And that rock climbers do not have a higher risk of osteoarthritis when compared to people who do not rock climb.

I’d like to know if the dominant hands of professional bowlers are disproportionately larger than their non-dominant ones. We all know that the dominant arms of pro tennis players are noticeably bigger and more muscled than their non-dominant arms.

I’m a certified personal trainer who used to do a lot of indoor climbing. If you want stronger hands, they don’t have to get bigger. Of course, what constitutes the strength is open to interpretation.

 It can mean volleyball finger strength and endurance; having a crushing grip; being able to hang your full body weight by two fingers and then do a pull-up; and being able to hold heavy items by the hands for sustained periods (e.g., luggage, heavy weights for farmer’s walks).

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/55685.php

Best Dance Class for Most Calories Burned

If you prefer dance as your method of burning calories, do you know which type burns the most?
 As a certified personal trainer, I always tell people that intense strength training burns the most calories, but what if you just don’t like to lift weights and would rather dance?

Surely, there has to be a type of dance fitness class that burns a lot of calories. And that’s Zumba, being one of the favorite dancing styles, and it incorporates several movements that work your body from head to toe.

Prepare Yourself

Group fitness classes of dance involve the entire body. The benefits you derive from a one hour class include aerobic for heart health, stamina, stronger lower body joints and of course, the fun. All you need in preparation is comfortable dance gear and a desire to be free. Then you put your best foot forward and get ready for the experience.

The Dance Class

Zumba is a dancing style that incorporates hip-hop, salsa, samba, merengue and martial arts. No dancing experience is needed to enjoy it. Simply watch what other participants are doing, join them and have fun.

Start by breathing in and out three times before you warm up your muscles. Listen to the music and get the rhythm before you move. Tap your right leg then left for eight counts, then start moving and gradually increase your pace. You’ll spin and twist, kick and lunge, jump and squat until your whole body feels great. You will get stronger and fitter.

Why Zumba Is Good

It incorporates different dance styles, and the variety allows you to move every muscle in your body. You don’t have to watch the clock or perform several boring reps. Just get lost in the music and dance like you’ve never done before. It’ll boost your heart rate, get rid of extra body fat and build the much needed muscle. This makes it the best dance class to burn the most calories.

But I must reiterate my opening comment: For optimal body transformation and fat-burning, you really must incorporate strength training! Keep doing the dance, but strength training should be your cornerstone.

Use Force Production Muscles to Trim Fat Belly

To trim that fat belly, use your force production muscles, and here's how.

Ever notice that the bigger a person’s tummy, the longer he or she tends to camp out at the gym’s abdominal machines?
And why is it that those individuals with the tight, sleek abs hardly go near these machines? Well, here’s the answer: Sit-ups, crunches, side bends, waist-turns and the like will never, ever strip fat off your middle. No matter how many reps you crank out. No matter what those TV infomercials claim.

        Body fat is fuel in dormant form. This means that the excess fat in your middle is, quite literally, untapped energy. You cannot convert belly fat to energy by doing abdominal routines. Why? Because sit-ups, crunches, etc., don’t require enough energy to force your body to dip into your stomach’s fat reserves.

    Abdominal/core muscles are stabilizer muscles. Their primary job is to stabilize the spine. Stabilizer muscles are “sissy” muscles, in that they are naturally weak and small, not designed by nature for force production. This is why, when you lift with your lower back muscles (instead of the legs), you can injure them. Stabilizer muscles don’t require much energy for performance or recuperation from performance.

      So how, then, do you force your body to ransack the fat deposits in your belly? By working hard the force-production muscles, primarily those in the legs! Many people do not understand this concept, because we have been taught that to trim the middle, you must work the middle.

     Legs have the largest, strongest muscles in the body. By vigorously applying weight routines to your legs, you will force your body to raid the fat in your stomach to supply the legs with energy – not just during the workout, but for hours afterwards!

    The same effect occurs when you weight-train your upper body, because your middle/upper back, chest, shoulders and arms also consist of force-production muscles. So when a person at the gym comes up to me, pinching two inches on his or her waist, and asks, “How do I get rid of this?” I say, “Slam your legs with weights!” Their invariable response is, “What?”

     Spend more time working your quadriceps, hamstrings, butt muscles, and upper body muscles, and less time doing crunches. Five intense sets on the leg press machine and five tough sets of chest presses once a week will do far more for slashing belly fat, than will 1,000 crunches a day.

     So what about those infomercials? Don’t the models’ six-packs just gleam while they twist and turn on that funky abdominal gadget? Well, of course! They’d gleam if they were shifting position on a hammock, too! These gadgets always come with a full-body weight training plan, as well as diet. The gadget in and of itself will not strip inches off your waistline.

     Your body will pull energy from where it is stored. If it’s stored in your gut, you will lose fat there by working the force-production muscles.

Gym Intimidation: Intimidated by the Gym?

Do you suffer from being intimidated by hard bodies at the gym? Are you fat, obese or overweight, and very self-conscious about working out? Do you think everyone will stare? Here are solutions to rid your gym intimidation.
Keep reminding yourself that, quite frankly, nobody else at the gym cares about you. The women and men with the perfect physiques are too busy noticing their own bodies. People who work out are adults, not kids on a playground. Many are professional or have jobs that deal with people. Do you really think they are going to ridicule you because you’re overweight or obese?

If anything, they will commend you and admire you. After all, is a person with obesity NOT supposed to exercise? Should obese and fat people stay at home and watch TV instead of lifting weights and doing cardio?

Now, if you are morbidly obese, expect that there will be more staring than if you were only moderately overweight. But the staring is very brief, and nobody’s going to just come up to you and start throwing insults about your weight. These are adults at a health club, not children on a playground during recess. So keep that in mind.

Next, let’s suppose that your paranoia is valid, and that other health club patrons really ARE gawking and talking about you. So what. Ignore it. Focus on the weight in your hand. Focus on your posture and breathing. Relish the feeling of physical exertion.

People may stare at you when you go shopping because of your obesity. But you still go shopping. So why not still go to the gym? Where long sweats and just exercise. You deserve it. Your loved-ones deserve to have a healthier and more energetic you.

Stop thinking so much about size and weight and being too fat. Instead, go to the gym with the idea of getting fitter and healthier, faster and more energetic. Exercise to relieve your low back pain, aching knees, aching joints, and other problems you may have or are at risk for, from being obese.

Remind yourself that exercise will lower Alzheimer’s risk. Take an easy or low impact aerobics class. Low impact classes attract big people more than tougher classes. Take a spin class. Anyone can pedal a stationary bike without worrying about keeping up with others.

Maybe you can join a women’s gym. Of course, if you’re an obese man, there are no men-only gyms to join, so just hold your head high and start lifting weights. An obese or fat person is on an even playing field with thin people when it comes to weight training. Pump iron with gusto. Stop worrying about losing weight. Concentrate instead on better health and improved fitness.

Women’s Strength Training: Free Weights Vs. Machines

Is it better for women to exercise with free weights, or machines? I’m a certified personal trainer. There are advantages to both forms of strength training for women, but if I had to choose either one or the other, I'd definitely go with the free weights. I will present the ups and downs of both types strength training for women.
Free weight benefits

1. More muscles get involved, because you are forced to balance and guide the weights through the air, against gravity. So not only are the primary-mover muscles working, but so are secondary or "helper" muscles.

This may be true, to an extent, with machines, but with free weights, many more secondary and synergistic muscles get involved. This translates to more calories burned, and improved balance and neuromuscular efficiency. This includes recruitment of lower back/core muscles, which many women are interested in strengthening.

2. Free weight workouts exercise joints more completely, and this means stronger tendons and ligaments.

3. A far greater repertoire of range of motion is possible. You can more readily work out in three dimensions.

4. Your grip will become stronger; what woman doesn’t dream of not having to depend on men to open jar lids?

5. There is more variety.

6. You can combine routines into one exercise, such as going from dumbbell shoulder presses immediately into dumbbell biceps curls, alternating the two back and forth.

7. Can simulate real-life movements against resistance, such as picking heavy things up.

Free weight disadvantages

1. You must pay a lot more careful attention to form.

2. There is a higher risk of injury.

3. You must be careful not to let weights drop on your feet.

4. Entries and exits into heavy dumbbell routines can be tricky, and can even cause injury.

5. Women with low back pain may find some routines uncomfortable.

Machine benefits

1. Basic instructions are on most machines, including which muscles they target.

2. Your body is more stabilized, better postured, since machines offer pads to support yourself against.

3. Machines isolate certain muscles for the work.

4. If the resistance becomes too heavy, you don't have to worry about it crashing down on you.

5. You can enter and exit into and out of the exercise without any difficulty; less need for a spotter.

6. You're less likely to get injured.

7. People with lower back pain can work out with more comfort.

Machine disadvantages

1. Most weight machines do not simulate real-life movement against resistance. Thus, using only machines will not make you as efficient in real life as you may think they will. Only one exercise at a time can be performed.

2. Fewer options; can become boring after a while.

3. Machines do break down and malfunction.

4. Some can be uncomfortable, just by virtue of the design.

5. Not appealing to some very large women who fear they might not be able to fit into the apparatus.

All women should take up serious strength training. For best results, women should use both free weights and machines, and focus more on multi-joint routines like deadlifts, squats, leg presses and bench pressing, rather than isolated routines like triceps kickbacks and dumbbell frontal raises.

Will Lifting Weights Make Obese Women Bigger?

Some obese women avoid lifting weights for fear that this type of exercise will make them bigger, but is this true?
The thought that lifting weights makes obese women bigger is a misconception. I’m a certified personal trainer and often must inform overweight women that strength training will shrink their bodies, not enlarge them. I tell them: “You need to lift heavy to blast fat away, but that heaviness is light to men who lift weights.”

It’s a misconception that has caused many overweight women to fail to accomplish their goals, so it needs to be put to an end.

Looking at pictures of massively muscular bodybuilders doesn’t help the situation at all, but what about them? They lift weights and get bigger and bigger. Wouldn’t that make this type of exercise something obese women should avoid?

Why lifting weights doesn’t make obese women bigger
Muscle is denser than fat and it burns up fat. Somehow, when obese women think of lifting weights, they picture big muscles being created under their fat, making them bigger, and it just doesn’t happen that way.

Lifting weights makes obese women smaller, not bulky. Fat actually takes up more space than muscle. Strength training adds lean shapely muscle; it does NOT add more fat!
If an obese women succeeded in replacing all their fat with muscle, still remaining at the same weight, they would be much smaller. However, the rate by which fat is burned off by muscle means they most likely won’t remain at the same weight. They’ll lose weight instead.

Lifting weights is actually beneficial for obese women.
There is almost nothing that burns off fat quite like muscle does. As you build muscle, your metabolism increases, meaning that the excess weight that’s burn continues around the clock, even in your sleep because the muscle stays with you.

Every time an obese women lifts weights, she’s raising her metabolism to a higher level that can be permanent, as long as she continues to exercise on a regular basis. It can help her reach her goals in record time.

Don’t fall for the crazy myth that overweight women will increase their body size from working out with weights  --  even heavy resistance, for that matter. Why let such mixed up thinking keep you from having the body of your dreams?

Why Women Should Do Most Strength Training Standing

Doing strength training standing offers some great benefits for women; see why sitting down during the workout isn’t as helpful.

Women who want the greatest benefit from their workouts should perform most of their strength training standing up. I’m a certified personal trainer.

 Many worry about protecting their back, and this is smart, but their solution to this is to sit instead of stand while working out, and that’s not good.

They just don’t know what they’re missing out on. There are several reasons why women should do their strength training standing up.

Doing strength training standing lets women get the most out of their workout.
Those who think isolating a muscle is the best approach to strength training suffer from a limited point-of-view. When you allow more than one set of muscles be engaged during a move, more calories will be burned and more toning action and strengthening can be realized.

Standing up is one way to make sure that more than one muscle group is being directly worked. This hits all the common trouble areas for women, including the abs and the lower body.

Some women sit while doing strength training in the hopes of protecting against injury. However, performing lifts while standing provides a higher level of stability, improving overall balance.

It also helps promote that the move is performed using the proper form. Best of all, the balance enhancing benefits continue long after the workout is through. Lifting weights while standing mimics real life movements in which you must push against or pull against 
resistance, such as in rearranging furniture, or moving or carrying something heavy.

Having to balance while lifting heavy weights gives some extra work to the core, toning  and strengthening it while burning more calories. Good balance is something every women should desire. 

Three Weight Loss Mistakes Women Beginners Make

Women new to exercise and health regimens are often not aware of these mistakes that will interfere with weight loss and other fitness goals.

Many women fail to accomplish fitness goals in the gym, committing mistakes that get in the way of their weight loss goals. I see this all the time as a personal trainer and also as a gym workout enthusiast.

If a beginning woman doesn’t know what to do at the gym, then mistakes happen. These can result in injury, discouragement or abandonment of a well-intentioned exercise routine. 

Recognize these mistakes ahead of time to sidestep errors at the beginning of training, so that fitness becomes an enjoyable, successful and rewarding long term pursuit and you reach your weight loss goals.

Mistake 1: Novice women often believe cardiovascular exercise is a cure-all for everything that ails them.
           
Relying too heavily on cardiovascular routines to get a fitter body or to lose weight will result in burnout and rapid disillusionment with a fitness routine. Cardiovascular exercise does have benefits, including helping promote heart health, longevity and build stamina, but it shouldn’t be overdone.
            
For you to make the most of a fitness routine and lose the weight, cardiovascular exercise must be combined with strength training to help tone muscles and encourage greater fat burning.

Mistake #2: Women just starting to exercise may not eat enough before working out. Beginners often feel that having a low calorie, low fat diet is the key to losing weight, coupled with plenty of exercise.
          
Eating too little, however, can send the body into what is known as “starvation mode,” resulting in more fat storage rather than fat loss. The best way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you put into your body.
           
A healthy, plant-based diet, including balanced caloric intake coupled with exercise, is the best way to lose weight consistently.
        
A personal trainer, dietician or nutritionist can help determine the proper amount of calories to eat every day while taking into consideration other factors that influence size and shape.

Mistake #3: Novice women may find exercises that are effective, but then do them too often. While it’s good to perform an exercise that works, doing one exercise repeatedly will result in the body becoming adjusted to that exercise.
        
As a result, the body will work less hard, resulting in less effort, more boredom and frequent plateauing. Vary workouts to rev up muscles and burn more fat.
       
Try alternating workouts on different days, incorporating aerobics, Pilates or yoga, swimming and other cardiovascular exercises with strength training. Include free weights and machines to kick your exercise up a notch. Exercise indoors and outdoors so the scenery changes to liven up your routines.

These are three mistakes that beginning women often make, but as you can see, these mistakes have “sub-mistakes” as well. Pay close attention to how you approach your health and fitness regimen so that you can lose the desired amount of weight. 

Lat Pull-Down Mistakes that Women Make

What mistakes do women make with the lat pull-down exercise?

Are you a woman who does lat pull-downs at the gym? I’m a female certified personal trainer and have also worked out at many health clubs, and I’ve noticed a trend among many women who do lat pull-downs.
They make mistakes that I see amongst only women; not that men don’t make mistakes  --  they do, but this article deals specifically with the mistakes on the lat pull-down that women make.

Lat pull-down mistake #1: Many women bring the bar down to practically their lap, which makes their forearms go parallel with the floor. This may seem innocent, but in order to bend the lower arms this way, the weight must be pretty light. Light weight loads will produce minimal results, including fat-burning.

And bending the forearms to horizontal means that work is being diverted to the back of the upper arms, and I don’t think this is why women do lat pull-downs.

Mistake #2: Women don’t use heavy enough weight. I’ll see women, including those with good form, using too little resistance. The result is limitations in muscle-toning and in fat-burning.

When women perform the lat pull-down, they want to tone and strengthen the upper body, and in some cases lose body fat.

For more optimal fat-burning, muscle-firming and strength-building, a woman must use weight heavy enough to make 8-12 repetitions very difficult. Often I see women doing lat pull-downs with only 45 or 50 pounds – a set of seemingly endless, easy repetitions, after which the trainee appears to have plenty of strength left over.

Women need not fear getting hulking back or arm muscles from heavy workouts. A full bodyweight pull-up, is essentially a lat pull-down; the difference is that instead of bringing the resistance down towards you from above, you are lifting yourself up towards a fixed point.

However, in both routines, the same joint action occurs. I see women trying to do bodyweight pull-ups, yet I’m sure that some of these very women fear bulking up if they do heavy lat pull-downs. Funny thing is, their bodyweight may be 120 pounds, but they’re reluctant to do a lat pull-down with more than 75 pounds out of fear of bulking up!

The third lat pull-down mistake: Every so often I’ll see a woman at the lat pull-down station, hands unequally placed on the bar. The bar has a center point that’s attached to the cable. Hands should be equidistant from this center point. Sometimes I see one hand much further out from this center point than is the other hand. Uneven lat pull-downs will produce uneven results.

Women who want to burn fat and/or tighten up and shape up their upper body need to do heavy lat pull-downs, with good form. This is a superb, multi-joint exercise that should be part of everybody’s workout regimen.

Does Lifting Weights Make Women Masculine?

There are a lot of women out there who are what would be considered "masculine" yet have never worked out with weights, so let's get to the bottom of this.
Aren’t you sick of this already? So many people STILL think that women should not lift weights, or that lifting weights makes a woman masculine. How can you think those women, in their string bikinis and stiletto shoes, flexing muscles on stage at a physique contest, are masculine? 

If anything, NOT lifting weights can lead to a masculine appearance in women. Think about that for a moment. View women whom you can just tell by a brief visual observation, have never lifted weights, or never stuck to a weight lifting regimen.

Now, some of these women may be thin, some of these women may be curvy and voluptuous, and some of these women may look like average, ordinary women. But I’m more specifically referring to an older woman who, due to complete lack of weight-bearing exercise, has a body that’s just fallen apart and is bloated with obesity, lumps and rolls. 

Due to all this excess weight, bearing down on an under-exercised, weak back, these women have developed hump backs. Their arms, thick as tree logs, hang like lower primates. Their shoulders are slumped forward, necks thick.

This kind of body, which is quite common, is more masculine than any tight, super-toned, defined, sculpted bodies of any woman who enthusiastically does weight lifting. 

Further, this huge, shapeless mass of body can’t fit into fashionable, stylish attire, and thus, a woman with these frail, heavy, unexercised bodies must limit wardrobes to stretch pants, tee shirts, baggy tent tops, elastic-wasted skirts and other frumpy attire. The overall picture for this woman is less than elegantly feminine.

Not all women, who avoid lifting weights, will experience this fate. Some women, indeed, remain on the slender or medium side as middle age and even old age approaches. But they lose their youthful tone and become mushy, flabby, soft and lose some curves.

Lifting weights helps a woman maintain her natural curves, and that includes the small waistline that accentuates the overall curvature of the body. If any woman out there is thinking of taking up weight lifting, please…don’t pay attention to any negative comments. JUST DO IT.

Lifting weights helps a woman preserve her nice figure and enables her to wear short skirts and shorts well into middle age! You should see what 40-plus and even 50-plus women body sculptors can get away with wearing! Who SAYS there are certain clothes that a woman over 40 shouldn’t wear?

Just do it: JUST LIFT WEIGHTS, ladies!