Things To Do At The Gym To Lose Belly Fat – People use too much weight on the squat press, which causes the pelvis to rotate away from the spine, which can lead to a herniated disc. galaxy/Getty Images
Heading to the gym with a strong exercise plan is a surefire way to work up a sweat successfully and efficiently. But figuring out exactly which strength exercises to do is a bit tricky. While some exercises (think bicep curls and crunches) may seem like easy and familiar choices, they’re not always the best for seeing results. In fact, just because everyone does a certain move doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Things To Do At The Gym To Lose Belly Fat
“It’s important to weigh the risk-benefit ratio of each exercise,” says Suzy Crosland-Dwyer, strength and running coach and founder of Studio Ace in Cincinnati, OH. It tends to favor exercises that target a single muscle or muscle group and avoid movements that offer less benefit and higher risk of injury. What strength exercises do trainers never do? Here are eight to get you started, along with suggestions for safer and more effective changes.
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Old news that still applies: crunches aren’t as effective as other core exercises. But people keep making them. Crosland-Dwyer says, “A lot of exercisers get cranky without increasing their core strength. Worse, the movement can lead to neck or back pain, and sometimes hip problems.
Unlike traditional crunches, this move targets the deeper layers of your abs, increases your stability, and improves your posture.
How to: Lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms above your head, palms facing each other (a). Slowly roll up, making a C shape with your spine as you do. Abs should be pulled in and engaged throughout the movement, creating a hollow feeling in the lower abs (b). Continue to roll into a forward stretch, keeping your shoulders down, away from your ears (c). Hold the stretch for about 10 seconds, then roll back to start and repeat.
“People think machines make it easier to exercise and manipulate the body because they look user-friendly,” says Nikki Snow, a trainer at Les Mills International in Chicago. However, strength exercises on a hip abductor machine are often not as beneficial as movements with free weights or even your own body weight. “The abduction machine, or hamstring machine, provides a lot of burn, but there are more effective exercises that safely and effectively isolate the lateral glutes and hips.”
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How to: Stand with your feet a few steps wider than hip-width apart, with your toes turned out. Hold dumbbells in both hands on your hips (a). Drop your hips down and back until your thighs are parallel to the floor (b). Go back and do it again.
Holding a dumbbell on one side of your body while bending sideways “compromises the spine and makes it difficult to align the bend,” says Snow. “It’s easy to use momentum and rock on one side, which can stress the lower back and reduce isolation of the target muscle group.”
How to: Lie on your side and support yourself on your hands and elbows. Your legs, hips and shoulders should be in a straight line. Reach your upper arm toward the ceiling (a). Lift your hips off the floor and toward the ceiling. The hips should be in a straight line with the body (b). Lower your hips a few inches toward the floor, then lift straight back into a side plank, using your abs to propel yourself forward (c). do it again
Leg presses can be fun because when squatting you can lift more weight than you can usually lift on a machine, so you feel more powerful. But weight gain is only part of the problem, says Greg Justice, MA, owner of AYC Health and Fitness in Kansas City, KS. “The biggest problem I see with the leg press is the tendency to overload the machine, which can cause the pelvis to rotate backwards as you lower the weight. This can lead to a herniated disc. Additionally, using the leg press eliminates. Stability, hamstrings, from the equation,” says Crosland-Dwyer. Or forces your quads to do most of the work without hitting the glutes.
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“Squats start by stabilizing the body before going through the range of motion,” explains Justice. “You have to engage the entire body throughout the process, and that carries over into real-life movements or recreational sports.”
How to: Stand with your back on a bench or box. Place one foot on the bench. Make sure you are far enough away from the bench to allow your front knee to bend 90 degrees (A). Bend the front knee to lower the back knee toward the floor and try to bring the front of the thigh parallel to the floor (b). To return to the starting position, push off through the heel of your front foot, keeping your chest up, eyes forward, and shoulders back (c). do it again
This is a basic exercise movement where you sit on the floor and roll from side to side (usually while holding a weight). While it may seem more efficient than a crunch, it’s not necessarily better. “Recent studies have shown that Russian twists are more harmful than beneficial,” says James Thomas, national trainer at Les Mills in New York. “Combining the compression and flexion of this movement with rotation puts a lot of pressure on the spinal disc, more compression of the lumbar spine, and fluid movement of the disc.”
Planks target your entire core, keeping your spine in a safe and neutral position. Add a side-to-side movement and you’re reaching deep into your abs or obliques.
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How to: Bring your elbows directly under your shoulders, pressing both hands into the floor. Keeping your feet hip-width apart, extend your legs behind you as you lift your body off the floor. Your body should be in a straight line from head to toe as you tuck your chin in, squeeze your stomach in, and engage your tailbone (a). Once stabilized, slowly lower your left hip toward the floor (b). Bring your hips back to neutral and step forward through the center to lower your right hip toward the floor (c). Continue alternating.
This movement is common among bodybuilders, but it is the safest way to build upper body muscles. “It puts a lot of stress on most people’s shoulders—even if you’re just doing a sweeping motion,” says Mike Donavanik, CSCS in Los Angeles. “Most people lack the shoulder mobility, strength, posture, and stabilization to do it properly.” As a result, the pattern of movement is disturbed, other muscles begin to compensate, and you can walk away with an upper body injury.
With this exercise, you work through all range of motion, removing extra stress on the shoulder joint. Plus, it uses dumbbells instead of barbells, so each arm and shoulder joint works independently of each other, Donavnik says. “If you have mobility or strength issues on one side, you can tell very quickly.”
How to: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent and palms facing you, holding the dumbbell at collarbone level (don’t let the weight rest on your body) (a). Open your arms at your sides, palms facing each other (c). Then press the dumbbells up. By the time you reach the top of the movement (d), your palms should be facing away from you. Lower the same way you went up and repeat.
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The squat machine can hinder your range of motion, which means you won’t get all the strength benefits you get with free weights.
The Smith machine holds the bar in place as you go up and down. “It moves you in a straight line. But even though it feels good, it’s not natural for the bar to move in a perfectly straight line,” explains Scarlett McFarlane, a Level 2 CrossFit coach in Brick, New York. Considering various physical needs. So it can be potentially unnatural for the knees, hips or lower back. The machine can also hinder your range of motion, meaning you won’t get all the strength benefits you get with free weights.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell (or two dumbbells) in front of your chest, palms up (if using a barbell) (a). Keeping your weight on your heels over your midsole, drive your hips back and down so your chest is up and your back is flat. Lower your hips until they are under your knees (b). Keeping your core tight, return to the starting position (c).
Those swinging pull-ups—the ones you see CrossFitters busting out like nobody’s business—look cool. And the momentum you create at the same time
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