Fitness Academy

  • 7 Ab Roller Tips and Tricks You Need to Know

    7 Ab Roller Tips and Tricks You Need to Know

    Whether you’re working on six-pack abs that are Instagram worthy, or you simply want to increase core strength — a goal that can get you more mobility, better range of motion, and top form in every other training exercise you do — focusing on your abdominals is essential. Maybe that’s why there are so many gimmicky “tools” out there that promise results.

    A favorite pick for late-night infomercials, ab machines and devices range from shaking belts that rattle your teeth and “stimulate” your muscles to curved metal frames that keep you in a crunched-up position. But when it comes to truly working your core, skip the trendy so-called shortcuts and put in the work, with a simple piece of equipment that actually works: an ab roller.

    Basically a wheel with handles on either side, an ab roller seems like an easy workout option, but it can be a real ab killer. As you position yourself on your knees and grip the handles, then roll forward, you’ll feel everything firing up — ab roller muscles worked include rectus abdominals, obliques, hips, and even your shoulders and triceps. To make sure you’re using this powerful device properly, here are some ab roller tips:

    1. Find a non-slip surface

    Whether you’re doing an ab roller workout for beginners or you’re leveling way up with ab roller holds, your first move should be positioning yourself on a surface or floor that’s not going to work against you. Although your ab roller may have good traction, help it work better by choosing a non-slip surface. That means no hardwood floors, small throw rugs, tile, or other smooth flooring.

    2. Grab the handles properly

    Basically, you want to hold the handles lightly, but not have a death grip on them. Grasping the handles with too much force causes your arm muscles to tense up too much — particularly the forearms — and that can go all the way up into your shoulders and neck. That puts too much strain on those muscles and doesn’t let your abs do as much work as they could.

    3. Roll forward slowly

    To maximize effectiveness in any ab roller exercises, the key is control, not momentum. Flinging yourself forward then back will reduce how much your abs and other muscles are engaging, and usually results in improper form. If you’re rolling out quickly and thinking the ab roller workout challenge is minimal, then slow it way, way down. It won’t be long before you feel it where you should.

    In general, having a strong core isn’t just about looking great, it’s also about helping your body perform at its best, in the gym and everywhere else. You’ll reduce your risk of back and neck issues, have better posture, and simply function more effectively. The ab roller can be an ideal training partner to help you reach those solid-core goals.

     4. Keep your hips up and your back flat

    One of the most common missteps in using an ab roller workout wheel is letting the hips drop, which tends to make the exercise easier. Unfortunately, just like rushing through a session, this can result in bad form, and put too much pressure on the lower back. Focus instead on keeping the hips up, the back in a neutral position, and the abs engaged as you move through the workout.

    Watch Epitomie Fitness athlete Gregoire Bellemare coach you through a killer ab and core workout using an ab roller/ab wheel!

    5. Exhale on the effort

    In any type of ab-focused workout, people have a tendency to hold their breath, especially when they’re working the hardest. But it’s much more effective to breathe properly, which means inhaling just as you’re about to roll out, and exhaling as you roll forward. Pro tip: This is the same for almost every other type of exercise, too, from deadlifts and bench presses to pullups and pushups. Your muscles need that oxygen to work well, and good breathing practices can also help you work out for longer before feeling fatigues.

    6. Challenge yourself

    In any type of ab-focused workout, people have a tendency to hold their breath, especially when they’re working the hardest. But it’s much more effective to breathe properly, which means inhaling just as you’re about to roll out, and exhaling as you roll forward. Pro tip: This is the same for almost every other type of exercise, too, from deadlifts and bench presses to pullups and pushups. Your muscles need that oxygen to work well, and good breathing practices can also help you work out for longer before feeling fatigues.

    7. Buy a high-quality ab roller

    Shoddy products can not only be a safety hazard, but also a source of frustration because you won’t feel comfortable putting your full weight on them. Consider an option like the BIO Core Ab Roller that has two wheels — giving you much more stability — as well as rubber treads for perfect traction. That’s a big consideration if you’re working out on gym floors or at home. The BIO Core also has performance grip handles, so you can focus on your effort, not on trying to keep your hands in place.

    Elizabeth Millard for Epitomie Fitness

    Elizabeth is a freelance writer specializing in fitness, and her work has appeared in Runner's World, Men's Health, SELF, Women's Health, and Bicycling, among many others. She's also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher.

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  • 5 Huge Reasons You Need Speed Ropes in Your Workout

    5 Huge Reasons You Need Speed Ropes in Your Workout

    When it comes to simple-but-powerful exercise equipment, many people might envision a fully loaded weight rack, high-tech treadmill or stationary bike, maybe even a specialized gym staple like a Smith machine. While all of those have their place, there’s one must-have that can amp up your workout and also fit in your gym bag: a jump rope

    Also called speed ropes, these are used by boxers, professional athletes, and CrossFit enthusiasts around the world for a reason. Or actually, for many reasons: A speed rope workout comes with a range of benefits that make this humble piece of equipment into the ultimate workout partner.

    1. Warm-up Standout

    With jump ropes, you engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, thanks to the plyometric-style act of jumping and landing, which creates a form of resistance training. That fires up your muscles to anticipate those actions, from your feet all the up to your shoulders and neck.

    Because speed rope exercises are such a total-body activator, they make a great warm-up strategy, especially for intense workouts like CrossFit, HIIT, tabata, strength training, cardio classes, and cross-training for specific sports. In fact, you can even substitute all or part of a HIIT or tabata session with speed rope workout options.

    2. Calorie Burner

    Another huge advantage of engaging your whole body and getting your heart rate up: torching calories. How many calories each person burns with activity depends on a number of factors, including age, level of consistent exercise, metabolic health, weight, and body composition.

    But, no matter what your rate, experts note that the more intense your activity, the more you’ll burn, and speed rope definitely qualifies as intense. Also, as you build muscle, your burn rate will increase. That means sticking with a jump rope workout plan — and perhaps kicking it up a level with a weighted rope — can build muscle that gets your calorie furnace even hotter.

    3. Brain Builder

    Your body is going to love jump rope workouts, and surprisingly, so will your brain. Experts from Harvard Medical School suggest that regular, intense exercise can have a profound effect on how your brain holds on to memories and performs important functions.

    This occurs for a number of reasons, including reduced inflammation, better insulin control, and more release of chemicals in the brain that keep blood vessels and brain cells healthy. Although any kind of exercise can contribute to these effects, one study found that the aerobic type — like those found with jump rope workouts — can be especially useful, even for those who already have some memory performance issues.

    Whether you consider yourself a jump rope beginner or you’ve been a speed rope CrossFit fan or jump rope HIIT workout enthusiast for years, there’s a jump rope workout plan for everyone. This simple, highly efficient exercise must-have makes it easy to progress toward your workout goals — so get jumping and get results.

    4. Mobility Booster

    With some types of workout exercises, you progress by lifting heavier weights, doing more reps and sets, and/or decreasing the amount of recovery time. These principles are known as load, intensity, and duration. These are excellent options for goals related to strength, power, and endurance. But without proper mobility, getting to those goals will be more challenging and sometimes even impossible.

    Mobility is the ability move freely and efficiently, creating better joint flexibility — not just in the gym, but also throughout every day. Getting up from a chair, sprinting up the stairs at work, picking up a laundry basket or your kid: All of these are improved through better mobility. You simply move better, and that translates to less risk of injury and more ease of movement. Jump rope workouts have been shown to improve mobility, as well as strength, speed, and efficient use of oxygen, even in children.

    Watch Epitomie Fitness athlete Amanda Russell coach you through the ultimate jump rope workout to take your fitness to another level!

    5. Affordable and Portable

    With just a minor investment, you can get major results when it comes to speed rope products. Talk about the ultimate travel gym — a jump rope can fit into the pocket of your cargo pants, they’re that compact. If you use one often (which you should, given the advantages!), it’s a good idea to consider a carrying case, too.

    Also keep in mind when shopping that not all speed ropes are created equal. Be sure to look for a jump rope that has well-designed handles allowing for faster and smoother rotation. You also want cable, instead of actual rope, since that resists tangling — those knots and tangles can be a major tripping hazard, especially as you get fatigued near the end of a workout. Another big factor is easy adjustability in terms of speed rope length, particularly if you have multiple family members or training partners using the speed rope.

    Elizabeth Millard for Epitomie Fitness

    Elizabeth is a freelance writer specializing in fitness, and her work has appeared in Runner's World, Men's Health, SELF, Women's Health, and Bicycling, among many others. She's also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher.

     

     

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  • Why You Should Be Using a Fitness Ball for Full-Body Strengthening

    Why You Should Be Using a Fitness Ball for Full-Body Strengthening

    When it comes to strength training, especially at-home strength training, using a fitness ball is a great way to go. A fitness exercise ball incorporates a number of different exercises and stretches, and it has a ton of benefits to boot.

    Using a fitness ball is especially great for full-body strengthening because of its versatility. One good example: you can use it in a traditional workout setting, like a workout room, or you can replace your desk chair with it to train your stabilizing muscles while you work.

    Bottom line: if you can only purchase one fitness accessory, make it a fitness exercise ball.

    Here’s Why You Should Use a Fitness Ball for Full-Body Strengthening

    1. Great For Beginners

    Don’t know where to start your gym or at-home workout routine? Never fear! Grab a fitness ball and get to work. The fitness ball adds intensity to just about any mat exercise to give your full-body strength training an added boost.

    2. Extremely Versatile

    With a stability ball, you’re not locked in to any one form of exercise. It gives you the opportunity to try things out and change your mind if you’re not thrilled with a particular exercise. You could try adding it to your yoga or pilates routine for an extra strengthening challenge, but the stability ball is also great for full-body conditioning, toning, and core strengthening.

    3. Replace Your Desk Chair

    Not only will a fitness ball at work make you feel like a kid again, you’ll also strengthen your stabilizing muscles while you work! It’s the best kind of sneaky workout because you won’t even realize it’s happening. When you try to balance on a fitness ball instead of sit in a desk chair, you’re constantly making minute adjustments to strengthen and tone your core.

     

    4. Improve Your Posture

    When you strengthen and tone your whole body, the muscles in your core (abdomen, back, and glutes) become stronger. This muscular support around your spine will help you stand taller and improve your posture, which will increase confidence and decrease back pain.

    5. Multitask Strengthening and Stretching

    Once you’re finished with your stabilizing and full-body strengthening exercises, your fitness ball can be transformed into the ultimate stretching tool. Some fantastic stretches to try are back bends, hamstring stretches, and forward bends with support.

    ACTIVE BALANCE FITNESS BALL

    EXERCISES PRINTED ON THE BALL - 13 of the most popular exercises for using a fitness ball are printed on the ball including core, upper body and leg stability and balance techniques. Learn how to use the exercise ball and employ proper form to get maximum results.

    FITNESS & CORE WORKOUT EBOOK INCLUDED - This stability ball comes with a FREE eBook titled "Strong Body & Strong Core".

     

    Build Full Body Strength and Cultivate More Stability and Balance With a Fitness Ball

    Want to experience the amazing benefits of a fitness exercise ball?

    Watch these workout videos to learn how to use a fitness ball for a full-body and six-pack core workout.

    Epitomie Fitness instructor Amanda Russell coaches you through a full body workout

    Full Body Workout using Exercise Ball

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  • Top benefits of Speed Jump Rope Exercise

    Top benefits of Speed Jump Rope Exercise

    When you're searching for ways to burn calories and give yourself a full body workout, speed jump rope exercises will help you achieve these goals while keeping you fit and healthy. If you've ever engaged in Cross-Fit or HIIT cardio workouts, you likely know that a speed rope is any type of fast rope that allows you to perform your workouts quickly. These ropes are usually very lightweight in comparison to weighted jump ropes. By using a speed rope during your exercise routine, you'll be provided with a vast array of fantastic health benefits.

    Improves Strength of Your Lower Leg Muscles

    Many of the primary exercises that are aimed at strengthening the lower leg muscles can lead to the development of injuries in this area of the body. For instance, calf raising exercises can cause your muscle tissue to become too tight as you exercise. Over time, this tightness can lead to such injuries as plantar fasciitis or an Achilles tendon strain. On the other hand, jump rope exercises will avoid these issues by improving the elasticity within your legs. Better elasticity means that the muscle tissue in your lower leg shouldn't stiffen when using a jump rope. If you're specifically targeting the lower leg muscles for improvement, you'll be able to receive the wide gamut of benefits provided by a jump rope while avoiding the issues caused by the other lower leg exercises available to you.

    Jump Ropes Have High Portability

    If you travel on a regular basis, jump ropes are highly portable and very easy to take with you wherever you go. While the vast majority of hotels include equipment that you can exercise on, there's always a chance that this equipment could break down or won't be up to the quality that you need to get a quality workout. On the other hand, jump ropes are easy to use and don't have any extra parts with them that could stop functioning properly. You also never know how well equipped a hotel exercise room will be.

    If you left your jump rope at home and find that the exercise room is practically devoid of cardio equipment, you'll miss out on some very important exercises. Packing a jump rope in one of your bags won't take up much space and will allow you to stay fit and healthy no matter where you are. This high portability is also great for any type of outdoor workout that you want to engage in. If you often exercise at your local park, a jump rope is a great addition to your workout routine that can be easily transported in a backpack or messenger bag.

    Can Improve Your Coordination

    Cross-fit jump rope and standard jump rope exercise routines can be performed by practically anyone and don't involve much coordination. However, these exercises invariably require a small amount of coordination in order to repetitively cycle the rope over your head and under your feet. By performing the standard jump rope exercise on a regular basis, you may start to notice that your overall coordination is getting better. The rapidity of cross-fit jump rope exercises means that the coordination between your feet, hands, and eyes will automatically improve over time. If you've had issues with coordination in the past, using a jump rope is a great way to mitigate these issues.

    Burns High Amount of Calories

    When you're looking for the most effective exercise for burning calories, jump rope exercises are high on the list. Using the jump rope for 30 minutes will allow you to burn more calories than you would when jogging for this same period of time. When you use a jump rope for 10 minutes, you can burn roughly the same amount of calories as when you run a mile in eight minutes. Given how many different types of exercises can be performed with a jump rope, the variety of this exercise routine makes it an obvious choice compared to similar exercises like running. Nothing makes working out easier than actually having fun while you're doing it. As you likely know, burning calories will allow you to lose weight or maintain your current weight, which is among the most important aspects of staying healthy.

    SONIC BOOM M2 JUMP ROPE

    Prepare to crush it like never before with the NEW and improved Epitomie Fitness Sonic Boom M2 workout jump rope for serious athletes! Designed to be FASTER than ever, so you can make better progress, train harder, and break your goals in record time.

    Bolsters Bone Density

    When you engage in jump rope exercises, you will automatically improve the density and strength of your bones. Any exercises that place impact on your bones will bolster the density of those bones. When it comes to jump rope exercises, you'll constantly be placing a certain amount of impact on the soles of your feet as well as the rest of your legs, which means that the bones in these areas of your body will become denser and stronger. These benefits can extend to the lower portion of your spine as well.

    While running can provide much of the same benefits, it's important to understand that using the jump rope will allow you to avoid some of the problems brought about by running. If you run on a regular basis for your exercise routine, the impact is mainly spreading through your heel, which can cause a range of injuries. When using a jump rope, the impact is placed on the sole of your foot, which is much healthier and allows you to gain better bone density without hurting your heel.

    Building strong bones is important for a number of reasons, the primary of which is because of the fact that weak bone density can prevent you from exercising as vigorously as you should while increasing your risk for broken bones. Since injuries in the leg and foot can substantially reduce your mobility, it's essential that you improve your bone density in these areas of your body, which can be effectively done with a jump rope.

    Enhances Breathing and Cardiovascular Health

    By jumping rope at least three times per week for 10 minutes each session, you should be able to improve your lung and heart health, which is a great way to lower your risk of heart disease and other conditions. Some of the other diseases that can be avoided with good cardiovascular health include heart attacks and strokes. As you perform jump rope exercises, you should start to notice improvements with your breathing efficiency and overall stamina. Over time, you should be able to workout more before losing your breath, which is a clear sign that these exercises are working as intended.

    Very Inexpensive Way to Work Out

    Along with the myriad of health benefits brought about by performing jump rope exercise, this is also a very inexpensive way to work out compared to other options. While a good speed rope is important if you want to get the most out of your workout, even the most expensive of ropes are going to be relatively affordable when compared to exercise bikes and elliptical machines. You'll also benefit from the high portability offered by a jump rope in comparison to exercises bikes and elliptical machines. When you want to be able to exercise properly without breaking the bank, purchasing a speed rope is a great way to do so.

     
     

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  • How to Use Resistance Bands Like a Pro

    How to Use Resistance Bands Like a Pro

    Getting Started with Resistance Band Exercises

    Pros rely on resistance band products for a number of reasons. They’re convenient and portable, and they’re also appropriate for every fitness level, even beginners.

    There are many more resistance band benefits: They allow you to progress slowly, do exercises that are standing or seated, can be used by pregnant women, seniors, and those coming back from an injury, and work your muscles in a way that’s similar to lifting weights. Most of all, they engage multiple muscle groups because you’re working to stabilize yourself as you move through a range of movements. That can not only build strength, but also help with balance, mobility, and overall function.

    To get started, choose the lowest “weight” of resistance band or power band first, which means you’ll get the least resistance. As you progress, you’ll move up in resistance bands so you’re working harder to resist the force of the band.

    Resistance Band Exercises to Try

    There are hundreds of resistance band training options, but the pros recommend starting with some basics that you can build on over time, especially choices like these that work multiple muscles simultaneously.

    Resistance band pull ups

    In a regular body weight pull up, the upward movement provides more strength training than the downward drop. But using a product like the Bionic Flex Pull Up Assistance Band gives you resistance throughout the entire movement, making pull ups much more effective. Also, you can use the bands to progress in your pull ups and be more consistent in your training.

    bionic flex band yellow

    Resistance band deadlifts

    By using resistance bands instead of weights for a go-to move like dead lifts, you’re able to have a predictable amount of tension during the entire move, and the pros believe that helps you work on form much better.

    Resistance band pushups

    In addition to creating a nice amount of resistance that will make your core engage more during a pushup, resistance bands will help you keep proper alignment during pushups. For example, use of the bands will prevent your arms from collapsing inward during the pushup’s descent, which can cause your back to arch and hips to drop.

    Resistance band squats

    Much like the resistance band pushups, using the bands to do squats can be a great way to work on your form and create consistent tension during both the downward and upward phases of the movement.

    bionic flex band blue

    Resistance band moves for glutes and abs

    Integrating resistance band training into exercises like donkey kicks, inner thigh workouts, and oblique exercises can make all of those actions much more effective. Just like other training selections, the resistance bands give you tension throughout the entire move, not just when you contract the muscles. That means glutes and abs will be working twice as hard as they would be without the bands.

    bionic flex band red

    Also, try changing up your resistance band routine by creating a resistance band desk workout with seated resistance band moves to counteract long stretches of sitting, or integrate some jumping into the mix with options like resistance band jumping jacks, resistance band HIIT workouts, or resistance band jump squats. You can even play around with using resistance bands on treadmill walks.

    bionic flex band green

    No matter which resistance band moves you choose, making sure you have high-quality resistance bands and progressing gradually are key.

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