5 Exercises for Fully Defined Ab Muscles

You’ll need to do more than sit-ups for the ab definition you’re looking for.

We are bombarded with magazine ads, infomercials, and Instagram pictures of fit looking people with shiny, rippling washboard abs. Most media hype would have you believe that in order to obtain that illustrious six-pack, endless sit ups are the answer. In reality, regardless if you are a guy, girl, or a new mother looking to tighten her tummy, doing endless sit-ups is not the way to get fully defined abdominal muscles.

 

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Best Home Stretches For Low Back Pain

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best at home stretches for low back pain 

Who among us hasn’t experienced some degree of pain in their lower back? It’s easily the most-common complaint that I treat in my physical therapy clinic. In fact – did you know that 8 out of every 10 people will experience a significant episode of low back pain at some point in their lives? Whether you hurt from lifting your toddler, sitting long hours in a desk at work, or even something so ridiculously simple as picking up your toothbrush off the floor (I’ve actually seen it before) – no one is immune and no one likes it!

So what do we do about it? Most people just bear with the pain until it eventually goes away or bugs them so much they go in to see a healthcare professional about it. As a physical therapist I can say unequivocally that there is A LOT you can do conservatively to treat your own back pain. Today I wanted to share with you 5 of my favorite stretches you can do to mitigate your low back pain and get back on the symptom-free track. Here we go!

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Caveat to these exercises – not all low back pain is created equally. That being said certain exercises, stretches, and even positions are awesome for some problems but can be painful for others. If any of the following exercises cause an increase in your low back pain you should stop the exercise immediately. A comfortable “stretching” sensation is what we’re after here; pain is definitely not. If your back is too painful to handle these stretches I recommend you get in to see your healthcare professional immediately and seek a plan of care that is custom and unique to your individual, specific needs.

Oftentimes when I’m treating low back pain I’ll find that a patient’s hips are also particularly tight; specifically in the hamstrings (back of the leg) and through the piriformis (back of your hip – higher up in your buttocks). The goal of the following stretches is to decrease tightness in your lower back and your hips in an effort to get them moving like they should again.

 

All stretches should be held for 20 seconds and repeated 3 times per session. For maximum benefit perform sessions 2-3 times daily.


1. Lumbar rotation stretch

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.23.18 PMA great way to alleviate tension in your lower back and up through the outside of your hips. Lay on your back with both knees bent. Drop both your knees down to the left side until a comfortable stretch is felt in your back and right hip. Both shoulders should remain on the ground. Hold 20 seconds to the left and repeat to the right side.


2. Hamstring stretch

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.23.37 PMTight hamstrings can pull excessively on your hips and throw off the mechanics of your movements. This is a great stretch for your hammies as it keeps your back in a safe, neutral position: lay on your back with your left leg out straight. With a belt/towel/rope/sheet around your right foot, pull your right leg up towards the ceiling until a comfortable stretch is felt in your right hamstring. Hold 20 seconds; repeat 3 times. Repeat on the left.


3. Single-knee-to-chest stretch
Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.24.30 PM
One of my favorites for pain that is felt in the very lowest part of your low back / glutes area. Lay on your back with your left leg out straight. Bend your right leg and pull your knee into your chest until you feel a stretch in your right hip/lower back area. Hold 20 seconds; repeat 3 times. Repeat on the left.


4. Piriformis stretch

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.23.54 PMThere’s a muscle that sits deep to your glutes that’s called you prifiormis. I don’t know what it is about that little bugger, but 9 patients out of 10 with low back pain will have a tight piriformis. Stretch it as follows: lay on your back with both knees bent. Cross your right ankle over your left knee. Reach down and grab your left thigh behind your left knee and pull your left leg up to your left shoulder. You should feel this stretch/pull deep in the back of your right hip. Hold 20 seconds; repeat 3 times.Repeat on the left.


5. Prayer stretch / Child’s pose

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.23.28 PMMy favorite stretch for your entire spine. Kneel on all fours with your hands on the ground about at eye level. Keep your hands in that spot as you sit on your heels. Pull your chin into your chest. You should feel a stretch throughout your spine from your neck and upper back all the way down through your lumbar spine.

(Image credits – HEP2go.com. They’re the best site for building home exercise programs and we recommend them to all our professional colleagues.)

These are 5 of my favorite stretches for low back pain. If you’re experiencing a lot of tension/stiffness in your lumbar spine and surrounding areas give these a try – most of my patients have really good success with them!

Experiencing pain elsewhere? Did you know I’ve actually got an entire series of blog posts dedicated to pain and injury management?
Check out some of my favorites below:

knee-pain-exercise-patellofemoral-syndrome-workout-
how-to-treat-achilles-tendinitis-tendonitis-pain-heel-best-exercises-at-home-treatment-tone-and-tighten

how-to-treat-rotator-cuff-shoulder-pain-tendonitis-hurt-injury-tone-and-tighten

 

Question or comment for Jared? I would love to hear from you!
Leave me a comment below or you can always shoot me an email at Jared{at}ToneAndTightenFitness.com
Make it happen,
Jared
5 of the best stretches for your low back pain! From the doctor of physical therapy at Tone-and-Tighten.com

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3 of the Best: This Week’s Top Articles, Vol. 41

These pieces have caught your attention throughout the week. So here they are in one place for you to consume, digest, and enjoy.

Welcome to our weekend roundup, Three of the Best! Every Saturday, we'll post up Breaking Muscle's top three articles of the week. These pieces have caught your attention throughout the last seven days. So here they are in one place for you to consume, digest, and enjoy.

 

female overhead squat

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At-Home Exercises For Bra Fat

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best at home exercises for bra fat tone tighten

5 of the best at-home exercises to banish bra fat forever!

Truth be told – when I first heard about “bra fat” I was a little confused as to what exactly I was dealing with! This reader emailed me with the question – “What are some good exercises I can do at home that would help me with bra fat?” “Ummmmm…. You’ll have to give me just one second” … (hurries and asks his wife what “bra fat” is)… “ohhhhh! I’ve got some good ones for you!” If you’re tired of the “excess” that hangs over your bra starp in the back or in the front (still isn’t 100% clear to me exactly where it’s at and opinions vary!) then you’ve come to the right place! Today I’m sharing 5 of my favorite at-home exercises that are guaranteed to tone and tighten your back and chest and eliminate bra bulge forever! This is going to be a good one! Here we go! 

 Before we get into this workout, I wanted to introduce you to a whole series I have of workouts just like this one. It’s called Tone and Tighten’s “30 For 30 Workout Series” – 30 workouts you can do at home in 30 minutes or less. Each workout is completely unique and includes everything from legs and abs to butt and arms. Most of the workouts require no equipment; at most you’ll need a pair of dumbbells.
You can read more about it by clicking on THIS LINK or the image below.

30 For 30 Sidebar Image

Now on to the workout!

Push Ups10 reps

Bent-Over Rows10 reps
dumbbell row

Dumbbell Pull-Overs10 reps
dumbbell pullover

Forward Flies10 reps
chest fly exercise dumbbell

Rear Flies10 reps
dumbbell rear fly

Repeat this series of exercises three times!
These 5 exercises work key muscles in your upper body to tone and tighten bra fat areas. Of course, in order to see maximum results the should be performed 3 times/week and combined with a healthy, nutritious diet and regular cardiovascular activity.

 
Looking for more awesome workouts like this one? You might be into our 8-week Beginner Workout and Advanced Workout programs! These ebooks contain over 50 workouts each, delicious healthy recipes, and everything you need to Tone and Tighten! (Click the pics below to be taken to more info about the books)
Make it happen,
Jared
5 of the best exercises to eliminate bra fat forever! Tone and tighten your back and chest with these 5 at-home moves! | Tone-and-Tighten.com

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On Success and the Illusion of Choice

Defining your purpose will make most of your choices for you.

Everybody's work and home calendars are constantly filled with urgent deadlines. Every day, we face more decisions that have to be made than there is sand on the beach. We might as well stamp “URGENT” on our forehead in bright red letters, because that is how our lives need to be if we are to achieve success in the home and in the workplace. However, with work and home life constantly competing for our time, how do we make the best possible choices to achieve success in both?
 

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Fuel Your Adventure: Backpacking Meal Ideas

Don’t let poor food choices for your summer trip weigh you down.

I’ll be on a trail for a week in August without access to a grocery store, just the Colorado mountains. Many people take dehydrated food that you can buy at the camping store and I have to admit, it’s quite delicious. However, it doesn't have the highest-quality ingredients, and my wife cannot do dairy or wheat.

 

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Don’t Worry About the Brain-eating Amoebas. Here Are the Waterborne Illnesses You Should Actually Fear

You may have heard about a brain-eating amoeba discovered in the South that is mongering fear into rafters, kayakers, and river-goers this summer. A single-cell organism called Naegleria fowleri has been responsible for the deaths of two paddlers in the past two months—one in Texas and one in Ohio (while the amoeba was contracted in N…

This article originally appeared on www.mensjournal.com: Don’t Worry About the Brain-eating Amoebas. Here Are the Waterborne Illnesses You Should Actually Fear

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What Sciatica Really Means (and How to Fix it)

You've probably heard of sciatica in reference to mysterious leg pain. Technically speaking, sciatica is just a term used to describe any type of irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body, and is responsible for the activation of several leg muscles as well as sensation to the back of the leg. Based on the size and functions of the…

This article originally appeared on www.mensjournal.com: What Sciatica Really Means (and How to Fix it)

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