Monday, February 7, 2011

The Cable Dilemma

If you've been to the health club and been boggled by the cable machines, you're not alone. Many people tend to "stick with what they know" at the gym. Machines with selected weights are probably the most common way to workout for many people. But you may not realize that the cables can be way easier to adjust and they can actually be more beneficial using your core muscles. All it takes is making yourself a little more familiar with the cables and how they work, then you might become addicted! Here are some of my favorite cable moves for a full body workout:

1) Rope Row- Set up the cable to shoulder height. Using the rope attachment, stand with feet shoulder width apart, hands staying at shoulder height extended out in front of you. Pull back and squeeze your shoulder blades together, then return to starting position. Muscles worked: upper/middle back, biceps, and core.

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2) Cable Chest Press - Set up both sides of the cables at shoulder height and attach the soft handles. Stand in the middle of the cables and move forward a couple of feet so you are in front of the cables. Arms and elbows will be bent 90 degrees, palms will be facing down to the ground. Extend and press straight forward bringing your hands together to your midline. Muscles worked: Chest, triceps, anterior deltoid and core.

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3) Cable Chop - This exercise can be set up at 3 different angles: low to high (at bottom of cables), high to low (at top of cables), and straight across at shoulder height. With any of these variations, you will be working different areas of your core muscles according to the height. The key here is to keep the hips stable during the rotation and keep the chest out through the range of motion. Muscles worked: obliques, spinal erectors, rectus abdominis.

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4) Single Arm Rope Tricep Extension - Set up the cable to the top and add the rope attachment. Standing in front of the cable holding the rope in one hand, elbow stays bent at 90 degrees. Fully extend or straighten the arm and then come back to 90 degrees. Elbow stays in close to the body. I like this one because you are working triceps individually, so you can't use one side more than the other. Muscles worked: Triceps.

ropeTri1 RopeTri1

5) Single Arm Bicep Curl with Reverse Lunge - Yes, this is a dual movement exercise. You can even add a balance in with the reverse lunge if you want an extra challenge! Set the cables to the bottom using the handle attachment. Starting with feet together, step back into a reverse lunge and then come back up into a bicep curl. Make sure your elbow stays in toward your side and shoulders and chest stay out. Muscles worked: Biceps, legs, and core.
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Kickin' It Old School Cardio

With all of the talk about snowstorms and cold weather, being trapped inside can get a little annoying. Whether you are working at home or just staying home because of the bad weather, it doesn't mean you have to miss your workout. There are creative ways to get that cardio in if you're stuck inside:

1) Jump Rope: Yes, you need a little space for this one, but it's really not that hard. It'll get your heart rate up in a hurry, but keep you in a moderate zone. Try doing a speed double jump, jogging, or pretending like you're a skier jumping side to side. You can even work on individual leg strength by jumping on one leg at a time. Maybe decide to do each for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat.

2) Got Stairs? Oh yeah, when I was thinking about what I should do if I was stuck inside, the stairwell was the first to come to mind. It might be a little brutal getting started, but once you find a good pace either climbing or jogging up the stairs, it should be just like using the Stepmill at the health club. And time you can challenge yourself each time you climb!

3) Jumping Jacks, Hula Hooping, or Burpees - A little of these can go a long way, but doing this in a circuit can really mix it up and make your workout fun.

Don't forget that you have to have some motivational music to go along with your workout. Making sure you have good tunes keeps your body moving!