Master the Lat Pulldown Exercise for a Strong Back

Walk into any gym around the country and you’ll see one thing for sure. Someone most likely performing a variation of a lat pulldown exercise. The lat pulldown has long been considered a staple multi-joint movement.

Lat Pulldown Exercise Not Only Builds Strength, It Helps Posture Too

Many people sit in front of a computer for hours at a time each day. This can negatively effect the neck and back areas by placing stress on the muscle and connective tissue resulting from a rounded back and forward head. The lat pulldown exercise can help correct this postural issue. A weak, unused, latissimus dorsi muscle, is typically the culprit. This can eventually change by strengthening the back area using different grips and a combination of narrow and wide hand positions during the pulling movement.

Most Effective Way to Perform the Pull Movement

Have you ever thought about what is actually happening during a lat pulldown exercise? We know that it is a compound movement where muscles surrounding the shoulder and elbow joints are actively working. The action of the lat pulldown results in a downward rotation and depression of the scapula, leading to scapula retraction, combined with adduction and extension of the shoulder joint.

The big, and often discussed, question that arises is how to perform the exercise correctly. Meaning, should a front pulldown or rear pulldown be used? The answer is a front pulldown is better and safer to perform than pulling the bar behind the neck. To begin with, pulling the bar down behind the neck can eventually lead to shoulder issues like an impingement. It can also lead to rotator cuff issues, specifically in the subscapularis, one of the four muscles making up this area.

Moreover, best technique includes using an overhand grip. In addition, hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width. A study in the Journal Strength & Conditioning Research determined this was the most effective way to perform the exercise. The study concluded the wide-grip lat pulldown exercise in the front produced greater muscle activity in the latissimus dorsi. Lastly, here’s a great thesis by Gary Pugh while at the University of Florida on front versus rear lat pulldown.

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Lat Pulldown Exercise Execution

First, make sure you an appropriate weight selected on the machine. Meaning, you should be able to perform 8-12 repetitions with proper form. If you cannot maintain good form, decrease the amount of weight until you’re in that range. Start by using an overhand grip. Lean back slightly. Engage your back muscles (latissimus dorsi) as you pull the bar down toward your chest. Think about pulling your elbows towards the floor. Visualize the scapula retracting (moving toward each other) as you execute the movement. Exhale as you pull the weight down and inhale on the way back up. Think, “exhale during exertion.” Keep your elbows in close to the body and maintain control as you lift and lower the weight. Engage the core to prevent rocking back and forth.

Primary Muscle Groups Worked

The lat pulldown activates the largest back muscle, the latissimus dorsi, during the movement. In addition, the biceps, posterior deltoid, rhomboid, trapezius and pec major, all come into play. A second study in the J. of Strength & Conditioning Research showed promising results using a front lat pulldown. The study found the pec major had the highest EMG activity during a front versus rear lat pulldown exercise. This study showed external rotation and abduction during a rear pulldown can be an issue for the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff has to work extremely hard to stabilize the head of the humerus in this position. Over time, shoulder pain and injuries like tendinosis can arise.

Adding the front lat pulldown exercise, using an overhand grip with arms slightly wider than the shoulders, will offer the best chance for highest overall muscle activation. Exercise options could include a narrow overhand grip, or a wider underhand grip to place more demand on the biceps while changing up the muscle activation involving the back. Use the award-winning Jefit app to help log and track all the exercises you add with the lat pulldown in your next workout. Stay Strong!

Try the Award-Winning Jefit App

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC Magazine, Men’s Health, The Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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Build Strong, Powerful Shoulders With A Push Press Exercise

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Are you looking for a new exercise to add strength and size to your shoulders? A great movement that can help is the push press exercise. You may have seen someone at the gym doing it using either a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells. We love the versatility and effectiveness of this compound movement. The exercise engages both upper and lower body muscle groups. Any time you lift and hold something overhead, you get the added bonus of activating the muscles responsible for improving core strength.

Muscle Groups Used in a Push Press Exercise

The push press exercise requires full use of the legs and hips to drive the weight overhead. The upper body relies on the shoulders, chest and tricep muscles to extend the arms overhead. The muscles that make up the core are also activated during the push press, according to research published in the International Journal of Kinesiology & Sport Science. In that paper, by the way, it’s mention that the push press exercise is superior when compared to an overhead press in terms of overall muscle activation.

Muscles Involved:

  • Hips
  • Quadriceps
  • Core
  • Upper Back
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Arms

How to Execute the Push Press Exercise

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Addressing the Bar (Rack Positioning)

Take hold of an Olympic bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width. Try using a width similar to bench press. You can alway spread out the hands more if and when needed. An important point is the positioning of the elbows. The elbows should be as close to the bar as your body allows. What you don’t want is the forearms positioned vertically. After grasping the bar, let the elbows flare out a bit; make sure the elbows are not facing straight down as previously mentioned. Extend the neck slightly, looking upward.

The Dip

Just as it sounds, the dip is a small movement via the hips and legs. It refers to the hips dropping straight down (not back like a squat). The knees also flex slightly at this point. The cumulative effect of this is what initiates the push press movement. It should be perform using a smooth, controlled speed. The focus is on keeping the body upright and core braced.

The Drive

Here is where the push press exercise starts to come together. This is also where all your momentum will come from. Keep the chest upright. Let your hips and legs initiate the movement NOT your arms. If you feel you are “muscling it up” then you are doing the exercise wrong.

Overhead Position

When the bar is pushed upward, it should be positioned directly over the head. The arms should be extended and slightly back behind the ears. Watch the head going too far forward as the weight is driven overhead.

Exercise Variations

The push press exercise is typically performed with a barbell. But there are other ways the exercise can be done if a barbell is not available. Try the following four options:

  • Single Arm Push Press (dumbbell, kettlebell)
  • Dumbbell Push Press
  • Kettlebell Push Press
  • Behind the Neck Push Press

Workout with Jefit

Let the Jefit app help you record and track each repetition of exercises like the push press or 1400 additional exercises if you’re not into the push press exercise. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, as well as a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, advice, and wins, to get you closer to your fitness goals today.

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Five Dynamic Stretches You Need To Be Doing Regularly

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Think about a few of the dynamic stretches you typically like to use. Now picture stretching a rubber band for a moment. Take hold of both ends of that imaginary band and simply pull. The size and thickness of the band allows you to stretch it only so far. The rubber band in this case could be either your connective tissue or a muscle. Let’s choose a muscle. One more thing I want you to do. Place that rubber band in your freezer for a few minutes. Take it out and try to pull both ends again and stretch it if you can. That’s right, you can’t. A cold rubber band has limited range of motion and is now stiff in the same way a cold muscle would be before it’s warmed up.

Many of us though, never allow extra time to dynamically warm-up a muscle or group of muscles prior to using them in a strength or cardio workout. Both our muscular and nervous systems perform significantly better when they are put through a series of dynamic warm-up exercises. This should be long enough to promote a light sweat prior to a workout or any athletic event. Our muscles and nerves “fire” and perform much better when warmed up compared to when they’re stiff and cold, like the example of the rubber band.

Do Muscles Perform Better in the Morning or Afternoon?

Many of us exercise in the early morning and if you’re one of those people, it’s even more important to make time to warm-up. Our muscles are typically weaker during the morning and gradually increase in strength throughout the day. The body’s muscles reach peak strength sometime around early evening. Knowing this and the fact that it takes a few hours from when you wake-up to “turn on” and fully activate our neuromuscular system; a warm-up using dynamic stretches becomes even more important to do.

Muscles Have Less Chance of Injury When Warm-up

There is research that shows a warm-up may be beneficial in terms of helping prevent injuries, as this 2012 review showed when looking at knee injuries. A well thought out and planned dynamic warm-up increases power, flexibility, range of motion and helps balance; and as we’ve said, may help reduce injuries. In a study of female college soccer players, non-contact ACL injuries were cut in half among players who followed a warm-up program that included dynamic stretching exercises. In a second study of college athletes, this time with golf, researchers at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania found golfers were nine times less likely to be injured if they warmed-up dynamically before they played.

Here are five easy-to-do dynamic stretches that you can start doing before you exercise.

INCHWORM

  • Begin in a standing position with your legs together.
  • Bend at the waist until both hands are flat on the ground (bend knees if needed).
  • “Walk out” forward with hands until back is almost fully extended and you’re basically in a plank position.
  • Maintain a strong, “engaged” core.
  • Keeping legs straight, inch feet towards hands.
  • Then walk hands out forward away from feet.
  • Repeat 5 times.

SCORPION

  • Lie prone (on stomach) with arms outstretched, palms down and feet flexed so only toes are touching ground.
  • Kick right foot toward left arm, return to start and then kick left foot toward right arm.
  • Do not force anything – follow your breath and relax as you perform the movement.
  • Begin slowly and repeat 5-8 times to each side.

HIP SWING (Hip Abduction/Adduction)

  • Face a solid wall placing both hands on the wall, keeping arms extended.
  • Start with feet pointed straight and hip-width apart.
  • Move the right leg away from the body (abduction) the swing back in front of the body
  • Keep the leg fully extended and foot straight during the movement.
  • Repeat on the opposite.
  • Perform 5-10 repetitions on each side.

TOY SOLDIER

  • Begin with feet shoulder-width and toes pointing straight.
  • Maintain a tall posture and engaged core.
  • Flex one leg upward like you were kicking a ball.
  • Have the arms extended and straight out in front of the body.
  • Attempt to kick to the height of the extended arms (if possible).
  • Return and try on the opposite side as though you were marching.
  • Move forward with each step as you kick.
  • It’s important that the core muscles are engaged throughout.
  • Perform 5-8 repetitions with each leg.

SIDE LUNGE

  • Begin in tall, standing posture with feet shoulder-width.
  • Keep both feet pointed straight ahead at all times.
  • Step out to the side with your left foot.
  • Make sure the toes are straight and that knee does not move beyond the toes.
  • You want to sit back as you lower into the lunge position.
  • Keep your core engaged, hands out in front of you, making sure not to lean forward with the upper body.
  • Your non-involved leg should remain straight with the whole foot in contact with the ground.
  • Push off from the left foot and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 5-6 repetitions before switching legs.

Adding these five dynamic stretches to your program is a good start. There are literally hundreds of different dynamic movements available. Making the extra time before each workout will prepare your body much better for the upcoming workout. Stay Strong!

Try the Award-Winning Jefit App

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC Magazine, Men’s Health, The Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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Jefit Assessment Best Described as a Motivational Tool

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Jefit has developed a quick, easy to administer, fitness assessment that will help determine your current strength level. The test can also help to motivate and even hold you more accountable towards reaching a specific fitness goal.

Why Periodic Assessments are Important

Anytime you have an opportunity to take a baseline measurement on yourself, think of it as a snapshot of your current health and fitness level. The assessment can come in the form of percent body fat or girth measurements. When it comes to your workout, though, it’s about testing either muscular strength, endurance or work capacity. The new Jefit assessment pinpoints your current level of muscular strength. The test looks at three easy to administer tests:

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Jefit Assessment Points

You receive a set number of points for each test. The total number of those points correspond to an overall percentage. The reason for the percentage is so you can compare yourself to others in your age group. As mentioned, for each of the three tests you perform on the Jefit app, you will receive a specific number of points as a result of taking each test. Points are dependent upon either the number of repetition or duration for a given task.

The first test in the Jefit assessment is the push-up test. An individual will receive 6 points for each push-up they complete. For example, 27 push-ups completed would equate to 162 points. Following push-ups, plank and bodyweight wall squat follow. For each of these tests, you are awarded points for how long you hold (duration) the plank and wall squat positions.

The total points are calculated and the person is given an overall percentage to show how well they did. For example, if someone scores 70 percent – this means they performed better than 70 percent of the people, in their age group, who have taken the test. Over time you will have the option of taking multiple tests (every three months). Only the most recent test, however, is counted as your score, not any of your previous tests.

Testing is as follows. Following a baseline test, a second test a month later you’re tested once more. You then have the option to get tested every three months following that. Stay strong with the Jefit Assessment!

Finally, after completing your baseline Jefit assessment, you will earn 250 iron points. This will occur only the first time you’re tested.

Use Jefit App for All Your Workout Needs

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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Have You Tried Jefit’s Audio Cue Workouts Yet?

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Jefit strives to continually improve upon their award-winning app. One of the more recent updates includes select workouts accompanied with trainer audio cues. There are dozens of new bodyweight and strength training workouts found on both Android and iOS platforms. The programs are featured on Jefit Elite or the free version of the app.

All audio-based workouts, can be found on either version of Jefit app located under the “Find” tab at the top of page (seen highlighted in yellow).

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Audio Cue: All About Hands-Free Experience 

The last thing you need while working out is to have to hold onto your phone. Jefit audio cues let you know how long the upcoming set will take and the amount of rest as well as what the upcoming exercise is. It also offers a 3-2-1 countdown to let you know you’re almost finished.

 Different Types of Audio Cues

There are three types of audio tips available: (1) reminder (time countdown and exercise names), (2) pro tips (on Elite only), and (3) personal tips (user can create an exercise tip and replace the pro tip, elite only). Only the pro tips and personal tips are Elite features.

How to Use Audio Cue with Injury Notes

Click “yellow” highlighted areas

  1. This audio cue will remind you about recent injury at the beginning of the workout 
  2. The audio cue can be enabled when you mark a body part as an injury note in History (on a day) or Insights tab under Progress tab. 
  3. The audio cue will be dismissed when you mark the body part as “recovered”. 
  4. Once a body part is marked as recovered, it will become a record in Notes. You can mark it as an injury note again if you hurt the same part.
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How to Use Audio Cue (general set up)

  1. Enable sound in your phone 
  2. Turn on the necessary audio cue toggle on your training page 
  3. The toggle will turn “blue” to let you know it’s on (see below).
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Trainer Audio Cue Programs

Here are just a few examples of Jefit audio workouts. The audio cues are included in beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts. All five of these exercise programs happen to be interval based. Please note that not all Jefit exercises provide exercise tips at this moment. Approximately 50 percent of the exercises feature trainer audio cues.

Beginner Bodyweight Routine

This 1-day beginner, audio-based coaching routine offers exclusively bodyweight exercises. As a result, the program will challenge your entire body. About half of the exercises in this workout session offer audio coaching tips from a Jefit certified strength & conditioning specialist. The workout includes four supersets, where you will need to execute back-to-back sets with minimal rest.

Audio-Based Workout

This is a 3-day audio-based strength training workout. Approximately 50 percent of the exercises will have trainer audio tips attached to them, to help you execute the movement. The workout program consist of 3 strength training days – each of the workouts contain 1-2 supersets and work all major muscle groups. All three sessions include a combination of bodyweight, dumbbell and barbell.

Beginner Full Body Challenge

This 2-day audio-based coaching workout offers audio cues, the same that you would hear if working with a personal trainer or coach. Remember to turn “on” you Audio Cue button at the bottom of the page. The majority of the exercises use a dumbbell and some stretching and ab work is included. At the end of each session there is an “ab burner” series.

3-Day Multi Equipment Challenge

This program is a 3-day audio-based coaching strength workout. What you can expect on days 1 and 3 – are dumbbell only workouts. Both of these sessions are full body. As for the second workout, a combo session, exercises use dumbbells and a barbell. Again, this particular session is a full body workout. Have fun!

3-Day Advanced Workout

This 3-day advanced strength program has the added feature and benefit of having audio coaching tips for about half of the exercises found in each exercise workout. On DAY 1: You can expect a dynamic warm-up to prepare your body for the upcoming leg strength training day. DAY 2: In this 2nd workout session you have exercises focused only on push and pull movements. Lastly, DAY 3: Includes pressing movements for the shoulders in addition to a few core exercises. Enjoy the audio coaching tips and stay strong!

Use Audio Cue Programs on Jefit App

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data, audio cue tips, and a feature to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit

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The 3-Day Split Barbell Workout: A Great Full Body Routine

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One of the most often used strength training programs is the classic 3-day split barbell workout. This particular exercise program has long been considered a true classic among bodybuilder and novice a like. There are different split day options for 2-3-4-5 days routines. A split routine refers to a workout that is divided up by muscle groups. Specific exercises are used to train these major muscles groups on different days. The majority of movements come in the form of compound exercises. The workout is ideal if you have limited time to workout (an hour or less). Someone on this type of routine still has a strong desire, though, to gain lean muscle and strength. The length of time needed before noticing small gains is typically 6-12 weeks. This is dependent of course on age, training history, nutritional intake, recovery etc.

A Suggested Training Schedule

There are many layout options for a 3-day barbell workout in terms of how someone can “split” the routine up over the course of the week. A new Jefit training program features the following split routine, using a push day, a pull day and on day three, everything else. The push days includes exercises for chest/shoulder/tricep, while the pull day highlights the back and bicep. The third day focuses on legs and core. The weekly layout looks like this:

3-Day Split Barbell Workout

Monday: Chest Shoulders and Triceps
Tuesday: Rest day (mobility work)
Wednesday: Back and Biceps
Thursday: Rest day (mobility work)
Friday: Legs and Core
Saturday: Active rest day
Sunday: Rest day

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Barbell Workout: Exercise Program Design

Let’s discuss in a little more detail the make-up of each of these workouts. The Jefit program, Barbell Workout (3-day Split), is an intermediate level program. The program uses a (45-lbs.) barbell for all exercises except some of the core exercises found in day 3. The resistance used will depend on the training ability of the person. If you are new to strength training, you could still try this program. In this case, the person would start out using the weight of the bar only for all exercises. See how your body responds and progress from there.

The majority of the exercises in this barbell workout require 4 sets following a repetition sequence of 10,8,8,6. This type of repetition format takes advantage of using a lighter weight for the first set (warm-up set). The weight is then increased for each subsequent set. There are 5 exercises featured for each workout day and many of the movements used are compound exercises. The recovery time between sets is two-minutes, a novice though may need an extra minute or two. A set that involves 8-repetitions as an example, means it’s an 8-RM (repetition maximum). A person will need to lift the most weight they can handle, using good form. If you end up performing more than the suggested amount of repetitions, increase the load by 5 percent for upper and 10 percent for lower body exercises.

Day-1: Push Movements

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Day 2: Pull Movements

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Day 3: Legs & Core

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One of the great things about this 3-day split barbell workout is each workout is about an hour. Also, you need minimal equipment, only a bar and weight. In addition, since you work only a few muscle groups per workout, you can really target that area with a higher intensity that usual. Also, there is a recovery day following each workout, so the body gets plenty of recovery time to repair itself, adapt and get stronger. This is a good time – by the way – to work on improving your mobility. Putting this together with a solid nutrition plan coupled with plenty of recovery is a recipe for gains in both strength and mass. Stay Strong!

Use Jefit to Record and Track Your Strength Workouts & More

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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5 Great Exercises That Will Help Build Muscle

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A recent New York Times article looked at the importance of getting stronger and to build muscle. It report that, according to researchers, only 6 percent of adults performed at least two strength workouts each week. Everyone knows that regular strength training is one of the best time and energy investments for better health. Compared to other countries, however, our physical inactivity and obesity numbers are simply embarrassing.

Why Build Muscle?

Because muscle starts to deteriorate when we reach our 30’s. After age 40, we lose on average 8 percent of our muscle mass every decade, and this phenomenon, known as sarcopenia, continues to accelerate at an even faster rate after age 60.

The good news is exercise scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging found that doing just two strength training sessions each week can reverse age-related cellular damage that causes muscle atrophy.

Muscle Index

In 2014, researchers at UCLA Medical school found something very interesting. They followed more than 3,600 healthy subjects for about a decade. In that study they noticed a subjects muscle mass was closely linked to their lifespan. They found this out by pinpointing their “muscle index” or someones muscle mass divided by your height squared. “Those who were in the group with the highest muscle index had the lowest mortality, while those who had the lowest muscle index had the highest mortality rates.” Their published research “showed that muscle index was an even better predictor of premature mortality than obesity.”

To build and maintain muscle mass you need to engage in regular strength training. Here are what many consider five of the “better” exercises to perform in order to build muscle and maintain it as you age. Each exercise also offers progressions to try before attempting each exercise, if needed.

Deadlift

The deadlift is easily one of the best exercise you can do to build muscle. It’s a valuable compound movement targeting the back, hips, legs and grip. It’s also ideal for developing posterior chain strength. The movement, however, can be challenging for some. If that is the case, there are some suggested progression options for you prior to the deadlift.

Progressions: Hex-bar deadlift and Romanian deadlift

Squat

Considered the king of the compound lower body movements for building muscle at any age. Best advice, especially if you’re young or a training novice, master the front squat prior to progressing to a barbell squat.

Progression: DB Wall Squat, Front Squat, Partial Squats

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Pull Ups

There is not a better compound back exercise you can do for the upper extremity. The movement recruits many muscle groups while offering multiple training variation like wide/close grip or assisted pull ups.

Progression: Inverted Row, Machine Assisted, Assisted (Band) Pull Ups, Chin-ups

Bench Press

Considered a favorite exercise for the majority of gym goers. It incorporates a large number of muscles to execute the movement. You can do it from an incline/decline position or use dumbbells, barbell, kettlebells or cables.

Progression: T-Push Ups, Incline/Decline Push Ups, Weighted Push Ups

Shoulder Press

A great compound exercise to build muscle for the deltoid group. It really works your entire body when performed from a standing position. Holding weight overhead also works the core.

Progression: Kettlebell Thrusters, Dumbbell/Barbell Push Press

One of the first things you might have noticed, all five of our suggested exercises are compound movements. Add some of these muscle building exercises into your next Jefit program. If they are not the answer to your current needs, try the suggested progressions to build up instead.

Use Jefit App to Record & Track Your Workouts

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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Health Benefits of Performing Strength and Cardio Exercise

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The health benefits associated with performing strength training on a regular basis, especially as one ages, are many. Cardiovascular exercise, from walking to running, is also key, especially when used as a “COVID-19 mood booster” or stress reliever. What are the benefits of combining strength and cardio in your workout?

Should we be doing both? Simply adding in short bouts of cardio (like jumping rope), with your weight training, can take a workout to the next level. It ends up challenging both your muscular and cardiovascular systems in one efficient workout. 

The Benefits of Combining Strength and Cardio Are Many

The goal of circuit weight training (CWT) is to move quickly from one exercise to the next with minimal rest. The design of a circuit can be as simple as performing an upper body, lower body and core exercise followed by a brief bout of cardio. The cardio could be jumping rope, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, basically anything that elevates heart rate. A 2013 study published in American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, reported jumping rope can be one of the most effective cardio exercises. We’re talking better than running, swimming or rowing. Following six-weeks of jumping rope exercises (for 10-minutes/day), subjects displayed the same levels of cardiovascular efficiency as those who did 30 minutes of jogging.

There is also a hidden bonus with circuit-training, an “additional” calorie-burning benefit post-workout. The term associated with this is excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC). This has the potential to occur when doing challenging circuit weight training programs. The body continues to expend additional calories for hours after the workout has been completed. The routine needs to be challenging though which this type of workout can definitely be.

Additional Research Backs Up the Benefits

According to a 2019 study published in the journal Obesity, those who combined strength training with cardio were less likely to become obese. A classic review study by Gettman and Pollock (1981) showed the average aerobic capacity increased by 5 percent while strength improved 7-32 percent. The good news with all the studies reviewed showed a 2-6 pound increase in muscle mass. The average length of the workouts reviewed was only 25-30 minutes. A second study by Wilmore and colleagues determined energy expenditure was 9 calories/minute for men and 6 calories/minute for women who performed circuit weight training programs. Finally, a 10-week study compared CWT to biking showing favorable results in multiple areas for CWT. This type of training was shown to  “lead to mild to moderate increases in aerobic capacity” and “muscle mass.”

Jefit Home Exercise Programs: 5 Circuit-Based Routines

Strength & Cardio Circuit. This is a 1-day routine that incorporates exercise and bouts of cardio. The only piece of cardio equipment needed, however, is a jump rope.

Home Circuit (30-minutes). This is a two-day program you can do that is a circuit using exercises only, no cardio. You move quickly from one exercise to the next with minimal rest between sets.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 1). This program has only two circuits or rounds – compared to three – found in Level 2 and 3 of this program. When this routine becomes less challenging for you – progress to Level 2.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 2). The design of these workout sessions consist of 5 body weight exercises that are repeated for 3 circuits or rounds. The session starts off with core work.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 3). This program is designed as a circuit where you complete one round of 10 different exercises with minimal or no rest. Once completed, you return to the first exercise and move through another round of the circuit, until 3 rounds are completed.

This information presented hopefully offers additional insight into the value of performing circuit weight training more often. Continue to work hard and stay strong while using Jefit circuit-based workouts at home.

Use Jefit to Record and Track Your Strength and Cardio Workouts

Jefit is a strength training app used for planning & tracking workouts. It also helps gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. Not only does it offer you the ability to update and share your workout log with a supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers both weight training and cardio.

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5 Popular Exercise Programs Featured on the Jefit App

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There are currently more than two thousand exercise programs featured on the award-winning Jefit app. Rather than cycle through each page on the app or website to find “some” of the more popular program in “General Fitness”, we’ve done the leg work for you. The website breaks down the total number of programs into beginner, intermediate and advanced level. Programs are placed in one of four categories (see below). In this blog post, though, we’ll focus on the first category only. After the title of each programs, you’ll find the total number of downloads and views for that particular program as well as a brief synopsis.

Jefit Exercise Sub-Group Listings

FitBody Plan (Downloads / Views: 139 / 16,123) Intermediate Level
Description

This intermediate exercise program offers two training sessions that can be done 1-2x/week. Meaning, two session or repeat for 4 sessions/week taking a rest day between each workout. The goal of this plan is to build a general base-level of strength across all major muscle groups.

The program routine includes two training sessions that look like this. On Day 1, you’ll focus on the legs, back, core, and chest. While Day 2 targets the shoulders, core, and arms.

Nutrition Tips

Really pay attention to your diet while following this exercise program. Eat whole foods while consuming plenty of healthy carbs, fat, fiber and at least 1 gram of protein/kilogram of body weight. Supplement meals and all workouts with a whey protein drink. Make sure it contains the amino acid – Leucine in it. Use 30-40 grams/protein in any protein drink. Drink plenty of H2O and get 7-8 hours of sleep.

Bodyweight Home Circuit – Level 1 (Downloads / Views: 88 / 15,887) Beginner Level
Program Description

This is a good first step to take if you’re looking to start an exercise program. All exercises featured in this two day a week routine utilize only bodyweight.

As with any new exercise program or when you’re coming to the game with minimal experience- “always err on the side of caution.” Meaning move slowly through the routine and make sure you’re warmed up before starting.

This program has only two circuits or rounds – compared to three – found in Level 2 and 3 of this program. When this routine becomes less challenging for you – progress to Level 2. Good luck – be well and stay strong!

Dumbbell-Only Full Body Home Workout (Downloads / Views: 9,165 / 600,809) Beginner Level
Description

For many individuals they aren’t able to afford a gym membership or aren’t able to get to a gym; thus this routine provides a full-body, 3 day split where an individual can target all of their body parts and either gain/maintain muscle mass. It focuses upon heavy lifts and around 3 to 4 sets with 10 reps per set to increase muscle mass and gaining during exercise performance.

Machine Only Beginner Workout (Downloads / Views: 7,343 / 445,391) Beginner Level
Description

This is a machine-only beginner workout for those who are just starting to get into the gym, only have machine equipment or possibly for those who feel intimidated going into a gym. Exercise machines are great for isolating the muscles and allowing the individual to use a weight that they feel comfortable with to achieve the results that they desire.

This routine is to be performed 3 days a week, as it is a beginner routine, and there are 3 separate whole body workouts that an individual can use on the days that they workout. Each exercise chosen targets and isolates the muscle that is being performed to help build strength and achieve muscle growth or toning (depending on what the individual is trying to attain with their workout).

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Getting Ripped (Downloads / Views6,576 / 160,196) Advanced Level
Description

This is a 5-day exercise program will help build muscle while also shedding off unwanted poundage to get ripped.

On Mondays/Wednesday and Fridays you will be targeting your chest and arms. The only change in the routine that you will see is that for each day, the chest exercise changes from flat bench to incline bench to decline bench. This is done so thatyou hit all of the individual parts of the chest muscle throughout your workout routine. For Tuesdays and Thursdays, the main focus will be targeting the back and leg muscles through the use of major muscle building exercises. Saturdays and Sundays are used as rest days to provide proper rest time for the following weeks worth of exercises.

Program

As this is a muscle building and strength gaining routine, the main focus is to perform around 10 to 12 reps per set and doing about 3 to 4 sets per exercise. This will ensure optimal muscle growth as well as calorie burn for fat loss.

You aren’t performing each exercise individually but you are performing every exercise in a super-set. So the first two exercise in the workout day are in a super-set, followed by a 3 + 4, 5 + 6, 7 + 8, 9 + 10, 11 + 12 and then finished by cardio. Performing super-sets throughout the entire routine will keep your heart rate and intensity up throughout your entire workout, thus triggering muscle growth and fat loss.

Additional Information

Cardio is performed at the end of each routine to increase the amount of calories burned for the overall workout. This will help you attain that ripped look that you desire. Intensity is key throughout this entire workout, this is why we keep the rest time to around 15 to 30 seconds so that you are always keeping your heart rate up and consistently lifting weights.

As to any cutting routine, diet is KEY. You need to eat a healthy, clean and strict diet to maintain proper calorie intake to stimulate the fat loss you are looking for. Heavy carbs and processed foods should be stayed away from at all costs while trying to lose weight. You can have a carb heavy meal once a week to help spark an increase in metabolic rate.

Use Jefit App for All Your Exercise Needs

Jefit is a strength training app used for planning & tracking workouts. It also helps gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. Not only does it offer you the ability to update and share your workout log with a supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers both weight training and cardio.

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Know the Health Benefits from Regular Strength Training

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Currently, more than 83 percent of people living in Colorado exercise on a regular basis. There are a few other states that also top that 80 percent mark, like Hawaii, Utah and Vermont. With that, many states are still not even close to that percentage. Understanding the many benefits of strength training could hopefully get more people to jump on the band wagon.

On average, we spend just two hours per week being physically active. This according to researchers at Penn State and the University of Maryland, who analyzed data from the US Census Bureau. According to the latest CDC data, only about 23 percent of U.S. adults get the recommended amount of exercise each week (150-minutes a week). Here are just a few of the many health benefits you’ll receive from strength training on a regular basis.

Benefits of Strength Training

Duke University scientists discovered that 1,100 calories expended through weekly exercise can help prevent the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue. This type of tissue is dangerous because belly fat causes arterial inflammation and hypertension. Need a push? A British Medical Journal study reported people who exercised in groups boosted their average calorie burn by 500 calories a week.

University of Michigan scientists found men who completed three total-body strength workouts each week experienced significant health changes. The study lasted 2 months and subjects lowered their diastolic blood pressure by 8 points. That is enough to reduce your risk of stroke by 40 percent and heart attack by 15 percent.

Individuals who exercise, at any intensity level, for 2 hours a week see positive changes in mental health. That is an average of only 17 minutes a day. This group was 61 percent less likely to feel highly stressed than their sedentary counterparts, according to researchers from Denmark.

People who regularly participate in strength training are about 20 to 30 percent less likely to become obese. Individuals who performed 1–2 hours a week or at least 2 days a week of resistance exercise, had a 20–30 percent reduced risk of obesity, even after adjusting for aerobic exercise. Researchers at Iowa State University, and other institutions, decided to look at the relationship, if any, between weights and waistlines. They observed tens of thousands of patients who visited the Cooper Clinic in Dallas between 1987 and 2005. Subjects who worked out aerobically and lifted weights were much less likely to become obese. But so were those who lifted almost exclusively and reported little, if any, aerobic exercise.

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Additional Health Benefits

A new study out of the University of South Wales, looked at the strength of younger adults (18-50). The data suggests that men and women can achieve similar relative muscle size gains. In this meta analysis (30 studies), females actually gained more relative lower-body strength than males. Males gained more absolute upper-body strength, absolute lower-body strength, and absolute muscle size.

In a 2014 study published in the journal Obesity, Harvard researchers followed 10,500 men over the course of 12-years and found that strength training was more effective at preventing increases in abdominal fat than cardiovascular exercise.

A 2013 research in the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrated young men who did strength training hd a better-functioning HDL, or good cholesterol, compared with those who never lifted weights.

Finally, probably the most important benefit of strength training is a longer life span. A 2015 study in The Lancet showed that grip strength accurately predicted death from any cause. A 2017 report in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care suggests that muscle strength and lean muscle mass both serve as better measures of someones overall health than body mass index or BMI. Time to rethink BMI.

Use the Award-Winning Jefit App

Jefit is a strength training app used for planning & tracking workouts. It also helps gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. Not only does it offer you the ability to update and share your workout log with a supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers both weight training and cardio.

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Compound Exercises are Best Choice for a Strong Body

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When you’re looking to increase muscle size and build strength, incorporating more compound strength exercises into your routine would be prudent. Research studies have demonstrated compound exercises are superior compared to other types of exercise. In fact, a 2017 study published in Frontiers in Physiology looked at exercise subjects who used compound versus isolation exercises over an eight-week period. The study showed that the group who focused on compound strength exercises had greater gains in both strength and VO2 max. A second study published in 2019, also supports the use of multi-joint (MJ) over single-joint (SJ) exercises when looking to improve strength in this case, in the lower body. Researchers reported significant strength increases in both SJ and MJ groups, but the MJ group saw significantly greater increases in 1-RM for all leg exercises that were tested in the study.

What Are Compound Strength Exercises?

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time (ACSM). An example would be a Barbell Squat which works many muscle groups like the core, legs, hips and back. Another example would be a Bench Press exercise which works the muscles that make up the chest, shoulders and arms. Compound strength exercises are a staple in many exercise programs because they are ideal for building strength and adding size. In addition, a compound exercise will recruit more muscle fiber and in turn burn more calories per minute than a single-joint or isolation exercise. Compound exercises can be performed using body weight, exercise bands, dumbbells or your best option a barbell. This is because the average gym-goer can lift 20% more weight using a barbell compared to dumbbells. Compound exercise are also important because they mimic activities of daily living (ADL’s).

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Sport, fitness, training and happiness concept – sporty woman with barbell in gym

Examples of Compound & Isolation Type Exercises

Compound (Multi-joint) ExercisesIsolation (Single-joint) Exercises
SquatLeg Extension
DeadliftLeg Curl
Bent-Over RowTricep Extension
Military PressDumbbell Side Lateral Raise
Pull-UpsBicep Curl
Bench Press Dumbbell Chest Fly

What are Isolation Strength Exercises?

Isolation exercises work only one muscle or muscle group and only one joint at a time (ACSM). Examples of isolation exercises include the Biceps Curl or a Leg Extension exercise.

Combining both mult-joint barbell and single-joint dumbbell exercises in a workout has been shown to work well. This type of combination can be seen in the new Jefit program, Compound Strength Routine. Many machine-based strength training products are designed with isolation exercises in mind. Some research has shown, however, that an isolation or single-joint exercise, like a biceps curl, can increase muscle hypertrophy more than a multi-joint exercise.

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An example of an isolation exercise, Dumbbell Bicep Curl.

Jefit’s New Compound Strength Routine

A new advanced strength program designed around multi-joint exercises is the Jefit Compound Strength Routine. The 3-day, advanced, strength training program includes 9-10 strength exercises in each workout. The routine offers three different strength programs, using barbell and dumbbells, and includes 1-3 supersets in each exercise session. This type of program design makes for a faster workout and in turn keeps all the session times less than an hour. Stay Strong with Jefit!

Use Jefit to Keep Track of all Your Workouts

Jefit is a strength training app used for planning & tracking workouts and helps all gym goers and athletes keep on track with their fitness goals. Not only does it offer you the ability to update and share your workout log with a supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers both weight training and cardio.

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Most Popular Jefit Exercise for Major Muscle Groups

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The following list includes the top 12 most popular exercises for each muscle group currently used on the Jefit app. The list was put together based on exercise popularity which equates to the most downloads. The ranking (1-12) in each column, shows the number of times each exercise has been downloaded over the past decade. This list includes only barbell, dumbbell and machine exercises, not bodyweight, kettlebell or exercise band.

The list was generated to help anyone who uses the award-winning Jefit app build their strength programs more easily. The Jefit app currently includes about 1300 exercises.

*Each column below includes the following format: Barbell (left), Dumbbell (middle), and Machine-based exercises (right).*

Most Downloaded Leg Exercises

  • Barbell Squat
  • Barbell Lunge
  • Barbell Full Squat
  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Barbell Stiff-Leg Deadlift
  • Barbell Hack Squat
  • Barbell Clean Deadlift
  • Barbell Clean
  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Barbell Wide Stance Squat
  • Barbell Step Up
  • Barbell Single Leg Squat
  • Dumbbell Lunges
  • Dumbbell Squat
  • Dumbbell Step Up
  • Dumbbell Walking Lunge
  • Dumbbell Rear Lunge
  • Dumbbell Stiff-Leg Deadlift
  • Dumbbell Pile Squat
  • Dumbbell Bench Squat
  • Dumbbell Iron Cross
  • Dumbbell Lateral Lunge w/ Bicep Curl
  • Dumbbell Jump Squat
  • Dumbbell Single Leg Squat
  • Prone Leg Curl
  • Leg Extension
  • Leg Press
  • Seated Leg Curl
  • Smith Machine Squat
  • Hack Squat
  • Thigh (Hip) Abduction
  • Thigh (Hip) Adduction
  • Cable Standing Leg Curl
  • Smith Machine Stiff-Leg Deadlift
  • Machine Squat
  • Leg Press (Narrow Stance)

Best Back Exercise

  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Bent Over Row
  • T-Bar Row
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Barbell Good Morning
  • Reverse Grip Bent Over Row
  • Barbell Pullover
  • Barbell Bent Over One-Arm Row
  • Barbell Inverted RowRack Pulls
  • Incline Bench Row
  • Lying Cambered Row
  • Reverse Grip Incline Row
  • Dumbbell One-Arm Row
  • Dumbbell Bent Over Row
  • Deadlift
  • Back Shrug
  • Palms In Bent Over Row
  • Pullover on Stability Ball
  • Lying Rear Deltoid Row
  • Palm rotational Row
  • One-Arm Pullover
  • Reverse Grip Incline Row
  • One-Arm Lying Rear Row
  • One-Arm Row on Stability Ball
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
  • Cable Seated Row
  • Back Hyperextension
  • Close Grip Front Lat Pulldown
  • Wide Grip Behind Head Pulldown
  • Cable V Bar Pulldown
  • Cable Straight Arm Pushdown
  • Cable Underhand Pulldown
  • Smith Machine Deadlift
  • Seated Machine Row
  • T Bar Lying Row
  • Smith Machine Bent Over Row

Top Chest Exercise

  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Decline Bench Press
  • Wide Grip Bench Press
  • Front Raise and Pullover
  • Wide Grip Decline Press
  • Barbell Neck Press
  • Decline Pullover
  • Wide Grip Decline Pullover
  • Pullover and Press
  • One Arm Floor Press
  • Reverse Grip Incline Bench
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Incline Press
  • Dumbbell Fly
  • Incline Fly
  • Straight Arm Pullover
  • Dumbbell Deep Push Up
  • Bent Arm Pullover
  • Hammer Grip Incline Bench
  • Decline Press
  • Incline Fly w/ Twist
  • Around the World
  • One Arm Bench Press
  • Machine Fly
  • Cable Crossover
  • Machine Bench Press
  • Incline Chest Press
  • Smith Machine Bench Press
  • Cable Lower Chest Raise
  • Machine Butterfly
  • Smith Machine Incline Bench
  • Cable Incline Fly
  • Inner Chest Press
  • Decline Chest Press
  • Leverage Incline Chest Press
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Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Barbell Shoulder Press
  • Barbell Shrug
  • Upright Row
  • Standing Military Press
  • Front Raise
  • Shrug Behind the Back
  • Push Press
  • Clean and Jerk
  • Seated Military Press
  • Bradford Rocky Press
  • Rear Deltoid Row
  • Standing Front Raise Overhead
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Shoulder Press Shoulder Shrug
  • Front Raise
  • Arnold Press
  • Standing Press
  • Bent Over Deltoid Raise
  • Upright Row
  • Reverse Flyes
  • Seated Side Lateral Raise
  • Lying Rear Lateral Raise
  • Standing Alternating Front Raise
  • Cuban Press
  • Machine Shoulder Press
  • Machine Shrug
  • Overhead Shoulder Press
  • Machine Upright Row
  • Cable Upright Row
  • Cable Lateral Raise
  • Cable Front Raise
  • Reverse Flyes
  • Cable Sgrug
  • Cable Standing Deltoid Raise
  • Cable Internal Rotation
  • Cable Rope Rear Deltoid Row

Most Often Used Arm Exercises (top 6 Bicep/Tricep exercises)

  • Barbell Curl
  • Preacher Curl
  • Drag Curl
  • Standing Wide Grip Bicep Curl
  • Standing Close Grip Bicep Curl
  • Bicep Curl Lying Against an Incline
  • ———————————
  • Barbell Lying Tricep Extension
  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Barbell Lying Tricep Press
  • Seated Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Reverse Tricep Bench Press
  • Close Grip Behind Neck Press
  • Dumbbell Alternating Hammer Curl
  • Alternating Bicep Curl
  • Bicep Curl
  • Hammer Curl
  • Alternating Incline Curl
  • Dumbbell Zottman Curl
  • ————————
  • Standing Tricep Extension
  • Tricep Kickback
  • Lying Tricep Extension
  • One Arm Tricep Extension
  • Alternating Kickback
  • Dumbbell Tate Press
  • Machine Bicep Curl
  • Cable Close Grip Curl
  • Preacher Curl
  • Cable Standing Bicep Curl
  • Cable One Arm Bicep Curl
  • Cable Reverse Curl
  • ———————-
  • Machine Dip
  • Cable Rope Tricep Extension
  • Cable Tricep Pushdown
  • Cable Rope Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Pushdown V Bar
  • Weighted Tricep Dip

Core Exercises

  • Barbell Ab Rollout on Knees
  • Barbell Seated Twist
  • Barbell Standing Rollout
  • Barbell Side Bend
  • Barbell Press Sit Up
  • Dumbbell Side Bend
  • Two Arm Side Bend
  • Wood Chop
  • Alternating Prone Cobra (Stability Ball)
  • Standing One Leg Cobra
  • Machine Decline Crunch
  • Cable Crunch
  • Ab Crunch Machine
  • Knee Hip Raise on Parallel Bars
  • Cable Wood Chops
  • Cable Side Bends
  • Cable Kneeling Pulldown
  • Cable Russian Twist
  • Cable Seated Crunch
  • Parallel Bar Leg Raise
  • Cable One Arm High Pulley Side Bend
  • Cable Pallof Press with Rotation

Final Thoughts

As a Jefit member, look to use some of these great exercises in your future strength workouts. There are many hidden gems making up this list that should be rated even higher, like cable pallof press with rotation. This is considered an excellent anti-rotational core exercise. Another key exercise to use is cable internal rotation. Not making the list is cable internal rotation. Perform both of these rotator cuff exercises in your next workout using a lighter weight and higher repetition count. A great exercise that is also low on the list is barbell step up – try this great compound leg movement in a future strength program as well. Stay Strong with Jefit!

Use Jefit to Record & Track All Your Exercises

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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