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While some people exercise for improved sports performance or better health, many exercisers work out simply to look better. In the quest for better aesthetics, there are certain body parts that can benefit from targeted exercise. Work some or all of these exercises into your workout routine to target the areas of your body you want to improve.
Kettlebell swings are an effective way to strengthen your hamstrings and lower back while lifting and toning your gluteus maximus or butt. Performed with heavy weights for low reps, this exercise builds muscle and power but when performed using light to moderate weights for high reps it is a good fat burner and fitness builder. The key to a good swing is hinging from the hips and not performing a squatting movement. This increases the work done by the hamstrings and glutes, and will result in a safer and more effective swing.
Leaving barely a muscle left unchallenged, the renegade row can be performed using dumbbells or kettlebells to help you build an athletic and functional physique. Combining a pushup with a plank and a row, this exercise will develop your chest, back, arms and core simultaneously. With your weights in your hands, drop down into the push-up position. Perform a single pushup and then, keeping your core braced, pull one weight up and into your ribs. Lower the weight to the floor and then row the opposite weight up. Perform another pushup followed by two more rows. Keep alternating pushups and rows for the required number of reps.
Squats are often called the king of lower body exercises and with good reason -- they work every muscle in your lower body. As strong, shapely legs are a figure and physique must-have, squats are an important exercise for anyone who wants to look their best. Squats can be performed using a barbell, dumbbells, a Smith machine or as a simple bodyweight exercise. Try to squat down so your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor and avoid rounding your back to get the most out of squats.
Broad, muscular shoulders make your upper body wider which, in turn, makes your waist look smaller and can add an extra dimension to your physique. To develop the muscles responsible for shoulder width -- your medial or lateral deltoids -- perform lateral raises with dumbbells or cables. With a weight in each hand and your arms by your sides, raise your arms up and out to shoulder-level and then lower the weights back down. Keep your body still and do not swing the weights up as doing so only makes the exercise less effective.
For many men, strong and well developed arms are the epitome of masculinity and fitness. There are two main muscles that make up the upper arm -- the triceps and the much more famous biceps. To build your biceps perform biceps curls using dumbbells, a barbell, EZ bar or cable curl machine. You can perform curls, seated, standing or using a preacher curl bench to keep your upper arms stable. Keep your elbows tucked into your ribs and do not swing the weights up to get the most from biceps curls.
Pullups and Chin-ups
Pullups and chin-ups develop your upper back, specifically your latissimus dorsi muscles located on your sides beneath your armpits. When well-developed, these muscles resemble wings which make your back look wider. Big lats are even visible from the front. Pullups and chin-ups involve hanging from an overhead bar and pulling yourself up until your chin touches or is above the bar. Whereas pullups use a pronated or overhand grip, chin-ups use an underhand grip. Both exercises are similarly effective and also work your biceps. If you lack the necessary strength to perform pullups or chin-ups, perform lat pull downs instead.
Pushups are arguably the most commonly performed exercise in the world and are used by elite athletes to the military to kids in a P.E. class to get in and stay in shape. Pushups develop strong and shapely chest, triceps and shoulder muscles and can be performed just about anywhere. While the standard pushup is performed with straight legs and resting on your toes, you can make this exercise easier by bending your legs and resting on your knees, or harder by elevating your feet, wearing a weighted vest or doing one-armed pushups. Whichever option you choose, keep your core tight at all times and lower your chest to the floor for maximum benefits.