Squats are an important part of any workout, not only building leg muscles but also quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. They also provide an anabolic aspect to your workout, improving overall muscle building.
If you have realized how important squats are in your workout, you may be surprised to learn that adding box squats can not only bring added benefits to your workout routine but it could also improve your squatting technique overall.
What Are Box Squats?
A box squat is a weight-lifting technique with a box or bench placed behind you. The goal is to aim for a box height for a parallel squat, but you can train with a box that is higher or lower depending on your training. With the weight across your shoulders, you lower yourself to a sitting position until you are seated on the box, pause and then lift yourself up again without bouncing.
Benefits of Box Squats
Box squats offer significant benefits in a workout. The biggest benefit is that it can actually improve your squatting technique. Often, people squat by initiating the knees and not the hips which can overload the quads and increasing the chance of injury. By forcing yourself to “sit back” on the bench, you put more pressure on your hips, relieving the pressure on your knees.
With a box squat, you also tend to take a wider than shoulder stance while holding the bar lower and your knees over your toes. This further increases the stress on glutes, hamstrings and your lower back.
Pausing on the box also forces you to rise from a dead stop rather than “bouncing,” increasing posterior chain power.
Athletes also tend to cheat depth in squats as their weight level rises so a box squat keeps you from doing that. Box squats force you to tighten your body in order to come off the box, getting more benefits from the lift.
How to Box Squat
Begin a box squat by standing in a power rack with the box behind you. Step under the bar and place it across your shoulders then squeeze your shoulder blades together, rotating your elbows forward as if you were bending the bar across your shoulders. Create a tight arch in your lower back, lift the bar and step back, your head facing forward. Push your knees and butt out, then start to lower your body. Sit back until your butt is seated on the bench, shins perpendicular to the ground. Pause, relax your hip flexors and then, with your weight on your heels, push your feet and knees out, pushing upward. Lead the movement with our head, continuing up until you reach your starting position.
Box squats can increase the value of your leg workout but can also improve your squat technique overall. The key is to learn how to do the box squat correctly and to continue using free squatting in order to get a good overall workout. Learn more workout techniques by subscribing to my YouTube channel.
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By RunThaCity — 3 years ago
The joke of skipping leg day is an old mainstay within fitness communities, and this is largely the result of leg exercises being harder to adhere to in the past. With less motility than arms, finding the right regime of easily-performed exercises for various leg muscles, especially the hamstring, can be something of a nuisance.
Today, we’re going to look at the best exercise routine for strengthening your hamstrings. Before we begin, it goes without saying that you want to balance these evenly, and never be excessive with speed, routine length, or the like. Injuring your hamstring can be excruciatingly painful, and can temporarily (or in rare cases, permanently) reduce or take away your ability to stand or walk.
How do I Know My Hamstring is Underfit?
If you already have a decent regime of general leg exercises, you may be unsure if you need to alter any of your routines to provide a better workout for your hamstrings. There are symptoms that can easily be picked up on, though.
- Cramping, Spasms, Charlie Horses – Charlie horses are very painful, uncontrolled contractions of muscles that are essentially a form of acute cramp. The most common Charlie horse that happens within the leg is in the calf muscle, or along the sole of the foot, but they can also occur in the hamstring and other upper leg muscles, if they’re not properly fit. It’s worth noting that this can also be a symptom of potassium or vitamin deficiencies as well, though if that’s the case, such problems will occur in other parts of the body as well.
- Gluteal and Upper Leg Fatigue – If walking, standing, squatting and other leg-related activities result in significant fatigue across the back of the upper leg, or the base of the gluteal area, this can be a sign that your current routines aren’t sufficiently exercising your hamstring, causing it to fatigue much more quickly than other muscle groups.
- Restless Legs – True restless leg syndrome is not what we’re talking about – that’s something that a physician should address immediately due to it being a symptom of much more severe problems than your workout routine. However, mild restlessness, which leg workouts should usually help to abate, can indicate some muscles not being properly worked, and your hamstring is a prime candidate for this.
Let’s take a moment to talk about how important leg exercises are as a whole. On a cosmetic level, if you focus only on your upper body, you will look patently ridiculous. We’ve all seen those guys who spend all day lifting and bench pressing, but neglect their legs entirely. They look like cartoon characters!
But, on top of this, you also greatly increase your risk of knee and hamstring injuries, and these can have lasting or permanent ramifications, leaving you permanently walking with a limp, or experiencing significant pain.
It also makes squats much harder to do, as well as any practical lifting to carry or move heavier things.
Gender Doesn’t Matter
Something else we need to point out right now, is that this is just as important for women as it is for men. The same danger of leg injuries can happen if a woman’s hamstrings aren’t properly trained and well-exercised.
Equally, let’s all be honest. What kind of legs do most men prefer on a woman? Scrawny, neglected beanpoles? Or, is a woman with shapely, toned legs usually preferred? And, ladies, which would you prefer? Healthy, toned legs, or skinny, weak ones? It really matters for both sexes, equally.
You Don’t Need Crazy Equipment!
One last thing to point out, before we look at the six most effective exercises is, while having some decent equipment at your disposal does help, but you don’t need ridiculous, expensive and overwrought equipment to get a solid hamstring workout.
We live in a time that’s unrivaled historically in both fitness and nutrition sciences, as well as the elaborate equipment we can produce. This equipment is all well and good, but you really only need a few simple things, to get a full workout, including hamstring-targeting routines.
There are two routines we’ll look at that need some fitness equipment usually, but you can makeshift these if need be.
#1 – Romanian Deaflift
The Romanian deadlift is one of the simplest routines you can do. Simply hold a weighted barbell at shin level, arms straight, bending horizontally at the waist, and partially at the knee. Lift upward until your legs, waist, and arms are straight, the barbell at just below your pelvis. Hold, tightening your legs slightly, and lower back down in a controlled descent.
#2 – Barbell Back Squat
This is another simple exercise. Hold the barbell across the back of your shoulders, just at the base of the neck, elbows bent, palms outward. Have your legs apart so your feet are just past your shoulders.
Bend at the knees, outward, producing a spread-legged squat. Hold, and lift back up slowly. Remember proper squat form with this one.
#3 – Bulgarian Split Squat
This one should not be attempted by people with hip or knee trouble. Start with one leg bent at the knee, behind you on a bench. Hold weighted dumbbells at either side of your body. Bend your other leg at the knee and hip until it’s at a near sitting position, your leg on the bench at a J-like bend as a result.
Use some tension in the benched leg when returning to a standing position. Alternate between legs, evenly.
#4 – Glute-Ham Raise
This one is best served with leg press equipment. Lie face down, legs braced, cushion under your upper legs. Cross your arms across your chest, and lift yourself to a vertical position at the knees. Hold, and lower yourself back after a couple seconds. This is one of the most powerful (and fatiguing) hamstring exercises.
#5 – Leg Curl
This is the other exercise best suited with a weighted leg press. Lie face down, bracing the weighted lift just above your heels. Bend at the knee, as far as your leg and the weight will permit. Hold for about one second, and lower it back under muscle control.
#6 – Kettlebell Swing
This exercise is usually a “cooling down” or “finishing” routine, and is one of the higher kinetic impact exercises. This also works as a partial cardio exercise, so if your doctor has warned against excessive cardio, be wary of this one. Using ball weights, start bent horizontal at the waste (similar to the Romanain deadlift), the weights held back, between your legs. Bend up at the waist and the knee, swinging the weights in a parabola until your arms are almost level in front of you.
Swing back into the start position under control (don’t let inertia do it for you). Be extra careful on resuming the start position, that you don’t allow inertia to bring your arms at high speed into your groin – it doesn’t matter what your gender, that will hurt.
To learn more about hamstring exercises and other difficult group targeting routines, subscribe to my YouTube channel today. I have so many awesome things to show you!Post Views: 6,137
By RunThaCity — 5 years ago
There is nothing that says you need to be big to be strong. Even if your build is thin, you can build muscle that gives you more strength. Your size is no indication of how strong you actually are. One way to build better muscle is by mastering the pullup. Some trainers say that the pullup puts smaller-framed body builders on a level playing field with those with large frames. You may be able to deadlift hundreds of pounds, but if you cannot meet the 300 Pullup Challenge, you’re not really as strong as you think.
300 Pullup Challenge
The 300 Pullup Challenge is relatively simple. The goal is to complete 300 pullups in one hour. The easiest way to do this is by breaking them down into sets of 10. Complete 30 sets of 10 in one hour and you’ve conquered the 300 Pullup Challenge. The only equipment you need is a pullup bar, which you can probably find on a local playground, music to get you moving and a pair of gloves to protect your hands. Do ten pullups in quick succession, stop, walk around for 30 seconds to a minute, then do the second set. Continue until you have completed 30 sets of 10.
300 Pull-up Challenge Workout:
Feel free to do these in any order you choose.
10 Sets Of 10 Reps Wide Grip100
10 Sets Of 10 Reps Under Hand Grip (Chin ups)100
10 Sets Of 10 Reps Close Grip Overhand100
Pullups Keep You Honest
One of the best things about pullups is that they keep you honest. Many bodybuilders claim that a pull-up is an unfair test for larger people, but this is far from true. A 250-pound person should be able to master the 300 Pullup Challenge as easily as someone who weighs half as much. The only reason pull-ups may be difficult for a larger person is if they have excess body fat. If you find that your form is lacking or that you are having difficulty completing the challenge, you may need to include pull-ups in your workout more often.
Watch Your Form
Before you attempt to conquer the 300 Pullup Challenge, make sure that you can do one rep with proper form. Grab the bar tightly, keep your legs straight and brace your body as you lift with your arms to pull your chin over the bar. Your torso should not fall too far forward or backward. You want to keep your body as tight as possible. You can use an underhand, overhand or neutral grip, but be sure to come to a full extension at the bottom of each rep. You also want to be sure your chin goes above the bar at the top of the reps.
How many pull ups should i do a day to see results?
I regularly perform 5 sets of 10 as a warm up to most of my workouts.
Work toward the 300 Pullup Challenge once each week and be sure to give yourself plenty of recovery time between sessions. Continue working other muscles during your week, but keep in mind that pullups will work your back and biceps, so you may be able to eliminate some of those exercises during the week. For more tips on getting the most out of your workout, subscribe to my YouTube Channel.Post Views: 10,049
By RunThaCity — 3 years ago
So, you want a sculpted, muscular physique? First, ask yourself what your prime motivation for this is, because if it’s solely for aesthetic purposes, this could be mentally unhealthy – body image is a complicated thing, as is the social pressure on it.
That said, if healthy and self-confidence is your main motivation, what’s wrong with looking good while living a healthy lifestyle? The thing is, people oversimplify the human body when they consider the effects and implications of exercise. Well, that’s not really surprising, the “why and how” of this is only guaranteed knowledge if you’re either a fitness professional, a medical professional, or a biologist.
Unfortunately, to get the most out of your exercise and diet regimen, and most efficiently achieve that swole look, you kind of need to understand it. Specifically in this case, you need to understand anaerobic respiration, basic metabolism, and the concept of hypertrophy.
While it may sound like a bonus prize better than first place, hypertrophy is a biological/medical phenomenon wherein muscles are stressed in various way (and to an extent, damaged), thus increasing the density and cross section of muscle present.
Proper exercise intended for body building and muscle gain, induces hypertrophy. Here’s the thing though, hypertrophy, and the things that induce it, will hurt. You will experience fatigue, soreness, cramps and just general aches and pains from it.
Well, the old saying goes, no pain no gain, right? We’ll talk in a minute about how this is induced, but let’s talk about the two scientific phenomena taking place during hypertrophy, and how it results in increased muscle volume and density.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase in what’s known as sarcoplasm. This is a fluid volume inside muscles, that gives it that kind of “jelly” fluidic nature while relaxed. This creates muscular bulk, but being noncontractile, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy doesn’t increase strength per se. It is however necessary for the function and tensile power of your muscular tissue.
Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the increase of myofibrils, which are the thread-like contractile components which actually do the mechanical work. The increase of these is the increase in actual physical strength.
It is important to achieve the proper balance of myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophies, though generally, the body manages that on its own. However, if you see increasing muscle mass, but the expected strength increase intended to come along with it isn’t present, you may need to see a dietitian or even a physician, because something may be wrong.
Before we go over the ways to stimulate this, I want to again emphasize that some of this can be dangerous if you don’t do it properly. Consult your physician, and use your best judgment with this. Seriously, stressing your body can be dangerous!
Progressive Tension Overload
This sounds fancy and complex, but in all reality, it’s just what any good lifting regimen does – increase what you can and do lift over time, stressing your muscles and causing them to grow. Some of the best are curls, deadlifts, squats, military presses and bench presses. While the more dramatic increase in reps and lifts you can do will be logarithmically proportional to the resulting hypertrophy, this is where the being careful I talked about comes into play.
It’s commonly said that you have to break muscles to make muscles. This is actually completely true. This is also why constructive exercise is painful – you’re breaking the myofibrils and losing some of your sarcoplasm by overexerting your muscles.
When the body takes damage, it will reactively begin building more tissue to replace what was lost, or to bridge gaps formed by strain. While some tissues don’t heal gracefully (hence scarred skin, and misshapen bones that weren’t set right), muscle is very good at healing itself in an effective and constructive way.
On top of tension stress/breakage, there’s also metabolic stress. This is where anaerobic versus aerobic respiration comes into play. Anaerobic respiration involves little to no exercise (where aerobic is very oxygen-heavy). Most lifts and similar exercises are anaerobic, and since anaerobic respiration is less efficient and more stressful, muscles are strained by it, causing them to “double up” to better handle the stress of it all.
On a side note, anaerobic respiration produces lactic acid, which causes that really sore feeling you get from an effective work out, where a burning sensation comes from broken muscle.
You can make induction of hypertrophy safer by reducing the physical extremeness of it with supplements that let muscles rebuild faster, and stimulate muscle growth naturally.
You may have heard some bad things about creatine, but seriously, it’s all bunk. Creatine has been clinically proven to be harmless, and effective. Creatine will help boost sarcoplasmic hypertrophy as well as stimulate more effective respiration all around. It also abates the soreness of lactic acid production, which quite nice.
Muscle has to have raw materials to build with, and that means protein. Protein powders are an excellent way to deliver this rich nutrient to your body, while eliminating fats and other undesired things that come from animal protein.
To learn more about hypertrophy, and the science behind supplements and exercises, subscribe to my YouTube channel today!Post Views: 5,212