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March 25, 2021

Top Women in Strength Sports

 

Strength training equipment and gyms started to gain in popularity in the 1960s with a big leap throughout the 1970s. It was in 1977 when the legendary Pumping Iron documentary was released following the training of legends such as Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbo and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as other greats from the “Golden Age”. 

But strength training dates back much further into history than just the 1960’s and 1970’s. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and Scottish, as well as others had some form of strength training for their warriors. Obviously strength training has evolved into much more than it was in ancient times. 

 

A New Era

One thing that has grown in the strength world is the involvement of women. Women have been documented as exercising since the times of the ancient civilizations listed above, but real strength training wasn’t a popularized thing among women until the last 20-30 years, with a great influx over the past 10-15 years. 

Today you can walk into just about any gym and find women throwing around chalk, and blasting Metallica. But, there is still a long way to go before women’s strength training and sports becomes as popular as it should. 

Below are just a few of the top women in strength sports, and really pushed the boundaries for what we thought was possible.

 

Donna Moore

Donna Moore was the first strong woman I remember watching and my personal favorite strongwoman. She has won the 2016, 2017 and 2019 World’s Strongest Woman competition, as well as wins at the Arnold’s Strongwoman competitions in 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

Donna has set numerous world records including an incredible 171kg (377lbs) Atlas Stone Over Bar record set back in September of 2020 at the age of 40. Donna is also one of the only women to ever successfully lift the legendary Dinnie Stones!

 

Andrea Thompson

2020 was a rough year for most people. Not Andrea Thompson, though. Andrea set three world records in 2020 which included:

  • 281kg (621lbs) elephant bar deadlift
  • 135kg (297.7lbs) log lift
  • 290kg (638lb) deadlift for the strongwoman deadlift world record.

Andrea just turned 37 years old in 2020, but with fellow strongwoman Donna Moore staying strong in her 40’s, I expect a few more records from Andrea before her career is over.

 

 

Rhianon Lovelace

Rhianon Lovelace is a little bit of a unicorn. While small in stature she brings a very rare blend of strength, power and quickness that is completely unmatched in male or female strength sports today. 

In September of 2020, Rhianon won the first ever Pound for Pound World’s Strongest Woman, and many believe (myself included) she is pound for pound the strongest person on planet Earth today regardless of gender. A few of Rhianon’s accomplishments in 2020 included:

  • 600lb Deadlift
  • Overhead axle press of 202lbs
  • 312lb atlas stone
  • 800lb silver dollar deadlift (traditional deadlift with bar being raised up 18 inches) 

All four of these lifts were lightweight world records, and both deadlifts were also middleweight world records! She also completed those lifts while only weighing in at 138lbs! 

We’ve already seen some remarkable feats of strength from Rhianon, but the best is yet to come as she is only 24 years old!

 

 

Jill Mills

Jill Mills was a bodybuilder who pivoted to the strength world. She dominated the sport for much of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Jill won back to back World’s Strongest Woman titles in 2001 and 2002. She undoubtedly would’ve won more, had she not stopped competing.

Jill was an all around great athlete. She could lift heavy on static lifts, was quick on all moving events, and seemed unbeatable on any overhead lifting events with her broad and perfectly sculpted shoulders. 

Jill did an incredible job blending strength while keeping a physique with very low body fat. A lot of women in the sport today credit their love and desire for the sport to Jill Mills.

 

 

Rebecca Swanson

No list of strength athletes would be complete without Rebecca Swanson. Rebecca is simply the strongest woman to ever live. Even though she had a short but successful career in Strongman, most of her success came in Powerlifting where she holds records with:

  • 854lb Squat
  • 600lb Bench Press
  • 683lb Deadlift

Arguably her most impressive moment came in 2006 when she squatted 804lbs while only weighing in at 197lbs! More than four times her bodyweight!

 

What’s Next?

Strength sports have grown in popularity, and continue to grow with increasing turnouts each year. But, the growth and acceptance of women in the sport is what really fires me up! Strength sports need to grow into something more than just a day of entertainment a couple times a year. In order for this to happen, women need to be encouraged and more accepted throughout the strength world. 

Listed above are just a few of the incredible top women in strength sports that have, or continue to push the boundaries of the sport. If you are reading this and feel the fire in your belly to see what you can really push yourself to become then get into a gym, seek advice from others and be the best you can be!

If you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to the Hybrid Fitness YouTube channel, and be sure to check out all the other articles from our coaches.

Please check out our other fitness & health articles here – https://hybridfitnessgym.com/articles/

And remember…Small Steps, Big Results.

February 11, 2021

3 Exercises to Increase Your Push-Ups

Why Push-ups?!

If you’ve ever been in a gym or watched a Rocky movie, you’ve definitely seen someone doing push-ups, and for very good reason. Push-ups not only increase core strength, but shoulder strength, stability, and pressing power of the pectorals and triceps, as well! All without having to load the movement with added resistance, making it more joint-friendly!

 

In hindsight, push-ups appear like a pretty straightforward thing to do. Simply just lower your body to the floor and push back up, right? Well if you’re one of the countless people who have tried and failed at this, then push-ups can quickly become frustrating, and far more difficult than expected.

Push it to the Next Level

If you’re reading this in hopes of completing your first push-up, then head over and check out our article on how to get your first push-up -CLICK HERE-.  BUT, If you’ve already mastered the art of achieving your first push-up, and want to start repping out multiple at a time, you’ve come to the right place! 

In this article, I’m giving you my top three exercises to increase your push-ups. Let’s go!

 

The Exercises

 

Resistance Band Push-Ups 

 

Another great way to assist push-up production is by adding some resistance to the Push-Ups already being done. To do this simply grab a resistance band with each hand and loop it across your upper back. Then get into the high Plank position and remember these few Push-Up techniques 

 

  • Hands are underneath your shoulders
  • Body is in a straight line (no sagging in the hips)
  • Lower your chest to the floor slowly
  • Return to the starting position by pushing yourself back up 

 

To begin, start with a light resistance band and perform as many reps as you can before your form begins to break down. Also, be aware that the added tension across your upper back can cause the lower back and hips to sag quicker once you start to fatigue. 

Increase Your Push-Ups Increase Your Push-Ups

DB Floor Press

 

DB floor presses are high on my list of not just exercises to help with push-ups, but high on the list for almost any kind of pressing exercises. To do a DB floor press, lay with your back on the floor with a DB in each hand. Then press both DBs towards the ceiling. Lower your elbows back to the floor in a slow and controlled manner. There are a couple things to keep in mind while doing this pressing exercise:

 

  • Keep elbows at a 30-45 degree angle off your body
  • Keep shoulders and lower back against the floor
  • Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way back up
  • Use a weight you can control 

 

This exercise will do a great job at increasing lockout power in the triceps which is where most people will fail on Push-Ups. 

Increase Your Push-Ups Increase Your Push-Ups

Plank 

 

Something often overlooked when it comes to push-ups is core strength. Having a strong core will help protect your back when doing push-ups. To begin kneel onto the floor and place hands directly underneath your shoulders. Move onto your toes and remember the couple golden rules of planks below:

 

  • Brace your core to keep your hips from sagging towards the floor. 
  • Keep hands directly underneath your shoulders
  • Breathing! Don’t hold your breath. Continue breathing at a controlled rate 

 

Hold this position for 20-30 seconds while starting out. Once you can hold this for a full minute move from being on your hands down onto your forearms and begin again at 20-30 seconds. 

Increase Your Push-Ups

 

Bonus Tip!

 

To further intensify the plank and further assist your push-up goals, mix in some plank up-downs. To do this start in the high plank position form earlier and slowly lower yourself to the low plank and then return to the high plank by extending one arm at a time. Repeat this as many times as you can before your form begins to digress. 

Increase Your Push-Ups Increase Your Push-Ups Increase Your Push-Ups

 

Wrap-Up

 

Gaining the strength to increase your push-ups can be just as frustrating as getting your very first push-up. The exercises above will assist any push-up goals you may have, but always remember that consistency is key. Get into the gym, stay consistent, and be patient. With determined and consistent effort you WILL improve!

 

If you enjoyed this article, swing over to our YouTube channel to check out our latest videos here – Hybrid Fitness YouTube Channel

January 28, 2021

How To Improve Low-Back Pain

Let’s be honest, if you’ve got lower back pain, you’re probably missing out on a lot of fun in life. Fortunately, here are a few simple tricks you can do at home, without any equipment, to improve, and hopefully, eliminate your low-back pain.

DISCLAIMER: Before following any advice given here, please refer out to a doctor or other medical professional.

What Causes Low-Back Pain?

 

Aggravation of the low-back usually occurs due to improper alignment, or if our mobility has been disrupted. Usually misalignment is caused by a previous injury, or by improper repetitive movement over time. As many of you know, it takes only one vertebra to be out of alignment to experience pain. 

Discomfort also occurs if two or more vertebrae are stuck together. Consider that each vertebra has 4 joints/facets that are held together with tiny ligaments. That’s 20 joints that can be sprained or fixated potentially leading to aches and pains!

 

3 Tips to Reduce or Eliminate Low-Back Pain

 

You can resolve low-back pain at home by taking the proper steps. First, you’ll want to reduce any inflammation, if possible. This is beneficial to remedy joints, nerves, and soft tissue that are irritated, raw, and swollen, causing discomfort and/or aggravation. In particular, your doctor or chiropractor may recommend oral anti-inflammatory medication, applying ice and/or stretching.

Here are 3 tips that you can do in the comfort of your own home to try and remedy that pesky low-back pain!

 

Tip #1 – Your Low-back Wake-up Call

How To Improve Low-Back Pain

How you start your morning contributes to the flow of the rest of your day. Your initial actions when you wake up prepare your body for sitting, standing and moving about your day.

Here’s an example of how to stretch your low-back before you even get out of bed each morning:

  • Lying on your back with legs bent, gently pull one knee toward your chest
  • Relax your low-back muscles while holding this position for 3-5 seconds, or longer if desired. 
  • Slowly switch legs.
  • Now, do the same thing, but bring both knees toward your chest.
  • Repeat 5-10 times to wiggle free from stiffness 

 

Tip #2 – Your Core is Key to Resolve Low-back Pain

How To Improve Low-Back Pain

Strengthening your back is obviously important, but it’s just as important to strengthen your entire core. All the muscles extending from your head to your pelvis deep within your trunk provide support for your spine.

Exercises to aid with low-back pain are those that provide simple, low-impact movement of the whole body. The more you move, the more your lymph and circulatory systems flow. This increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the joints keeping them healthy and removes waste products from your body.

Examples of Exercises for Mobility:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Biking

 

Specific Exercises for Building Core Strength:

  • Pelvic tilts to create movement in the pelvis.
  • Partial abdominal crunches lifting the head and shoulder blades off the mat.
  • Crisscross, also referred to as Bicycles to strengthen the obliques

 

Give the core a hand by strengthening the glutes, quads and hamstrings with these exercises: 

  • Glute bridges to activate the glutes & hamstrings.
  • Step-ups
  • Walking lunges
  • Single leg deadlift 
  • Elevated split squat

 

On the other hand, if lying on your back to exercise is not comfortable, then perhaps getting down on all fours for:

  • Cat-cows
  • Bird-dogs
  • Planks, either low planks on your forearms or high planks with arms extended 

Many exercises are beneficial and improve low-back pain but only if they are performed properly. Please be mindful when involved in the following to make sure your form is correct. If an exercise is too difficult to hold proper form, then modify the exercise appropriately.

Here are some exercises & behaviors you may want to be cautious of when dealing with low-back pain:

Planks

I know this may sound contradictory since I mentioned planks as a beneficial strengthening exercise above, however, ensure that you have proper plank form. To do this, align your body in a straight line from your head to your toes. If your low back sags or if you experience pain, try planks on your knees, elevated on a bench/chair or against a wall. 

Prone positions

Although prone positions are beneficial for building core muscles, please use caution. Prone positions, such as Superman, can compress the spine by lifting your upper body and lower body too high off the floor. Instead, focus on making your body as long as possible by reaching with your fingertips and toes or lift only the upper body or lower body independently. 

Excessive bending

Exercises that pull on the low-back such as, trying to pick something up off the floor without bending your knees. This movement can strain your low-back, especially if you cannot comfortably touch your toes with straight legs and/or if your hamstrings are tight. In other words, the low-back tries to provide the slack necessary to bend farther and could increase the chance of injury. 

Quick twisting movements

Remind yourself to engage your core to support the low-back before slowly rotating the torso. 

Contact or high-impact sports

Even though these sports may be fun, there is a risk of injury to your low-back if your core is weak. Low-impact exercises where there is always a grounded body part (whether it be a hand, foot or even a behind) can build muscle for more strenuous activities.

Heavy lifting that compresses the spine

Lifting heavy weight can increase the chance of low-back injury, even with proper precautions. In fact, it is possible to build muscle using body weight or light weight exercises. 

 

Tip #3 – Strike a Pose to Relieve low-back pain

How To Improve Low-Back Pain

Posture! Posture! Posture! 

Be mindful of your posture whether sitting, standing or lying down by:

  • Engaging the core to support the low-back
  • Aligning your head with your spine by lengthening through the back of the neck and pulling your chin back so your ears are over your shoulders
  • Slightly pulling your shoulders back and shoulder blades together
  • Using lumbar support when needed

Granted, nobody enjoys a moment of “Ouch! My back!”, as it impacts our enjoyment of life. Starting with the wake-up call exercise above and following through with these simple tips will help improve your low-back pain by keeping your joints mobile and your core strong.

For more on posture, check out this article!

If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it with someone suffering from low-back pain.

 

Swing over to our YouTube channel to check out our latest videos here:

Hybrid Fitness YouTube Channel

And remember…small steps, big results.
January 25, 2021

How To Get Your First Pull-Up: A Step-By-Step Guide

The pull-up has long been one of the main lifts in regards to testing pound for pound strength. But, getting to the point of being able to do a pull-up can be a very long, and grueling  road. The pull-up had once been explained to me as just grabbing the bar and simply pulling myself up. Sounds simple and easy, right? Well it’s not. There’s much more that goes into obtaining your first pull-up. Follow the step-by-step guide on how to get your first pull-up below, and you’ll be repping  them out before you know it!

 

Nutrition

 

How to get your first pull-up

Before we step into the gym, we need to get into the kitchen. The path to your first pull-up starts here. The heavier a person is, the harder it’s going to be for that person to perform a pull-up. Getting control of yourself here is the make or break moment for people with a goal of pull-ups. You will never train hard enough to overcome poor eating habits. If you’ve already overcome this stage and nutrition is not an issue, then wonderful, it’s time to hit the gym.  

 

Rows

 

Rows are a great way to start building the muscle and strength needed to achieve your first pull-up, and luckily there are multiple rows at your disposal to achieve this. Below is a list of rows, and the order in which I would suggest progressing through them. 

 

The 3-Point Row 

The first row I would suggest is the 3-point row. This is a great way to start building the muscle and strength that will be needed later on. It also provides a little more stability for the back for beginners who may have lower back issues. To perform this row, follow the checklist below:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart 
  • Lean forward placing one hand on a flat surface while keeping a straight back 
  • Grab a dumbbell/kettlebell with the opposite hand 
  • Pull the weight up to your side, while keeping your elbows in close to the body
  • Slowly return to the starting position 

 

How to get your first pull-up

 

DB Bent-Over Row 

After you’ve gained some strength and have learned how to control your body while under load in the bent over position, it’s time to remove the surface that your hand was using as support. By doing this we’ll be able to start building strength and support in the lower back. Follow these steps:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart 
  • Lean forward, this time grab a dumbbell/kettlebell in both hands 
  • Pull the weight up to your side while keep elbows in close 
  • Slowly return to the starting position

 

How to get your first pull-up

 

Bodyweight Row 

For bodyweight rows, you can use either a barbell set up on j-hooks attached to a squat rack, or some type of suspension trainer (rings for example). Whichever you decide to use, the set up will be close to the same. Start by laying on the floor underneath the bar or suspension trainer. From here, reach up and grab whichever you are using with your grip wider than shoulder width. Continue through with this checklist:

  • Pull yourself up onto your heels 
  • Back and hips are straight, with no sagging 
  • Shoulders are braced 

 

How to get your first pull-up

 

Once you are ready, start pulling your body to either the bar or the rings while keeping your elbows in close. Before moving on from the bodyweight rows make sure you can perform multiple sets and 10-12 reps 

 

Pull-Ups

After progressing through the different variations of rows, it’s time to move on to the next step! Achieving that pull-up still may be a little out of reach, so in order to replicate the motion we’re going to go through some regressions of the pull-up. Doing so will give you the upper hand in reaching the strength needed to reach the ultimate goal of getting your first pull-up. Let’s go!

Assisted Pull-Ups 

After you can successfully complete multiple sets of 10-12, full range of motion bodyweight rows, it’s time to advance to the pull-up bar. BUT, we still have a couple steps before we advance to full pull-ups. As we begin on the pull-up bar, we will start with a band assisted pull-up. Wrap a band through the pull-up bar so that it is dangling in front of you. Stretch it down and place one or two of your feet in it depending on the amount of assistance needed (two feet for more assistance; one foot for less assistance). Grab the pull-up bar and start pulling your body to the bar. While doing this remember these cues: 

  • Tuck shoulders back 
  • Keep the rest of the body tight 
  • Instead of pulling yourself up, pull the bar to you 
  • Expand your chest the closer you get to the bar 
  • Control your body as you lower back to the starting position 

 

How to get your first pull-up

 

It is important during this phase to keep your patience. If people get stuck at a certain phase of pull-up training for a long period of time, it’s usually during this phase. This is the first part of the training where we are using the pull-up bar. It takes time to progress past this part. Patience is key. Keep at it! 

 

Eccentric Pull-Ups

If you’ve been doing the assisted pull-ups for a while, and really feel that it’s time to progress, then this is the next phase. To do this, I recommend using a chair or box of some sort to stand on, as we want to start at the top of the movement. So, with our chest at the bar we will slowly lower ourselves back to the ground. Stand back on the chair or box, and repeat. 

 

How to get your first pull-up

 

Pull-Ups

Here it is! The moment you have worked so hard for! Jump up, grab the bar, get into the ready position, and remember to: 

  • Tuck shoulders back 
  • Keep rest of body tight 
  • Pull the bar to you; not you to the bar 
  • Expand your chest to the bar 
  • Slowly lower yourself to the ground 
  • Celebrate! 

 

How to get your first pull-up

 

Your first pull-up! Take a moment to congratulate yourself. A lot of hard work went into this process. It’s not easy, so don’t just shrug it off. Take this moment and be proud of yourself. A whole new world of training has just opened up for you! 

 

If you enjoyed this information, please check out our other fitness & health articles here:

https://hybridfitnessgym.com/articles/

Swing over to our YouTube channel to check out our latest videos here:

Hybrid Fitness YouTube Channel

January 12, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Your First Push Up

The Ultimate Guide to Your First Push Up

 

 

When asking a new member at the gym what some of their goals are, a common response is that they want to be able to do their first push up. That’s a fantastic goal to have! The push up was first popularized in the early 1900’s, but has been seen to date back to the Roman Emperor Constantine all the way back in 300 AD! It’s been around for so long for good reason. Not many movements that involve just body weight can put the amount of stress on the upper body and core simultaneously as the push up can, and few exercises can match how awesome you look and feel while repping out a set. When used properly the push up can, and should be a staple of any strength training program. Here’s a step by step guide to assist you on your journey of strength and awesomeness, by helping you achieve your first push up!

 

Regardless of its popularity, the push up can be one of the most daunting and challenging movements to learn and progress towards. The reason for most people struggling to achieve their first push up is rooted in that word, “progress”. I see too many people who can’t do a push up just lay on the floor and start pushing hoping that they will magically be able to do one someday. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. In order to get better at push ups, one must have a set plan in place to achieve this goal, just like with any other exercise. 

 

The High Plank

 

The first step you should take on your path to push ups should be looking at the health and stability of the shoulders and core. By starting with a High Plank, you’ll be able to build the strength and stability in your shoulders and core that will be crucial further down the road. To do a proper High Plank, get into a push up position and make sure you are checking off all of these boxes: 

  • Hands are directly underneath your shoulders. 
  • Your body is staying in a straight line. No sagging in the hips. 
  • Breathing is controlled. Inhale through the nose and exhale through your mouth. 
  • Hold this position for 45-60 seconds 


First Push Up

If you can do all of those things consistently while staying in that High Plank position, then it is time to move on to the next step. 

 

Hand Elevated Push-Up 

 

The next thing we want to do is to start incorporating the pushing motion. Instead of staying in the high plank position for this one, let’s elevate the hands onto a higher surface. This can be anything like a chair, bed, bench, table or even a wall. Whatever surface you choose to use, place your hands onto it. From there, we will use all of the principles of the high plank listed above, but now we are going to start lowering our bodies to our hands and checking off these boxes:

  • Lead with your chest first. Don’t let your head or hips take control. 
  • Keep your elbows slightly tucked into your body at around a 45-degree angle. 
  • Use shoulders, chest and triceps while keeping the core engaged to push back to the starting position. 

First Push Up

Perform 10-12 reps at this height. Once you can perform those 10-12 reps consecutively, move to a lower surface and repeat. 

 

Knee Push-Ups 

 

So, by now we should be getting closer to the floor. From here, we are going to drop down to our knees and place our hands directly onto the floor. Now we will slowly lower our upper body to the floor. Before we begin to push up, let’s make sure we are keeping the same form requirements as we did on the Hand Elevated Push Ups.  

  • Keep your elbows slightly tucked into your side at around a 45-degree angle.
  • Keep your body straight without any sagging in the hips.
  • Slowly lower your upper body to the floor and return to starting position by pushing off the floor 

First Push Up

To make this move either more difficult, or slightly easier, change the position of your knees. Move them closer to your hands to make the move easier and move them further back to increase difficulty. 

 

Eccentric Push-Up 

 

After spending time and mastering the Knee Push Up, you should be ready to start working from the High Plank position again. BUT, there is still more work to do before rushing into full push ups. One part of the push up that people tend to do incorrectly is properly lowering themselves to the floor, so here we will work on just that and that alone. To start, get into the High Plank position same as before. Now, we will simply take 3-5 seconds to lower ourselves to the floor, all while maintaining the checklist we had on both the high plank and the hand elevated push ups. Once you reach the floor, instead of pushing yourself back up, drop to your knees and return to the starting position. This can become very strenuous and if time needs to be taken in between reps, then do so. We are working on perfecting form here, not how many reps we can get. Once you can perform 10-12 continuous reps of these slow eccentric push ups, it’s time to move on. 

First Push Up

 

Push-Ups 

 

After all the hard work, the sweat, and the sore muscles, it’s time to get it! Set up in the High Plank position and remember to follow all the ques that we’ve previously gone over.

  • Hands are directly underneath the shoulders. 
  • Body is in a straight line without any sagging in the hips. 
  • Take a big breath in. 
  • Slowly lower your upper body to the floor while keeping elbows at a 45-degree angle. 
  • Exhale and push yourself off the floor back to the starting position. 
  • Give yourself a high five! 

First Push Up

You’ve done it! Don’t try to play it cool. Your first push up is an incredible accomplishment that you should be proud of. Boast a little. You’ve earned it! 

If you enjoyed this information, please check out our other fitness & health articles here:

https://hybridfitnessgym.com/articles/

Swing over to our YouTube channel to check out our latest videos here:

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