Some Of The Best Home Exercises To Start Doing

Anyone who likes to workout is always on the lookout for a new exercise to try. The following list includes some of the best home exercises for you to try. There are literally hundreds of exercises you potentially could choose. The following six are just a few of what we consider to be the best home exercises. The only thing needed with this group is your bodyweight or one piece of equipment. In addition, these exercises won’t break the bank and all work as a (low cost) workout option. Use the Jefit app, recently names best fitness app by Men’s Health, PC Magazine and Healthline, when planning and tracking your strength workouts.

Three Great Bodyweight Exercises

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T Push-Up

The T Push-up is an excellent progression to move to when you’ve exhausted other push-up variations. It is basically, a traditional push-up that transitions to an extended arm side plank. This particular variation places more load on the wrist, shoulder and core (obliques) than a regular push-up. As a result, you get much more bang for your buck. The exercise is a perfect choice for any bodyweight workout or circuit where you’re trying to utilize as much muscle as possible. The Jefit app offers this exercise in its database under push-up to side plank.

Box Jump

Any type of jumping is great to add to a workout. It can come in the form of single or double leg hops as part of a dynamic warm-up or more involved like split jumps or box jumps. In regard to box jumps, a 18-20″ plyo box or platform usually works best depending on of course on training experience. Box jumps work every muscle in the lower extremity allowing the hips and legs to train using triple extension. This is where the ankles, knees and hips are slightly flexed before jumping, followed immediately by an explosive extension using the same muscle groups.

Think about any explosive Olympic lift for a moment…that’s right, they all involve triple extension. One of the cool things is this can carry-over to basically every sport-specific movement.

Burpee

A burpee is a full body exercise that requires a great deal of flexibility, mobility and strength to perform. It is also one of the best home exercises to add to any workout. If technique is in question, try doing them initially in “slow motion.” Basically, break the exercise down into segments and see how you manage this before progressing to a faster pace. Keep the core engaged throughout the exercise.

The great thing is, you can eventually progress to adding in movements, like a push-up, as your technique improves. One area that many have trouble with is keeping the body rigid as they jump back into a plank or what some call a push-up position. You need to stick this part. Prevent your low back from “sagging” and your butt should not end up higher than the rest of your body. Keep a straight line through the knee, hip and shoulder. Think about staying as straight and solid as a board. If you need a regression, try a mountain climber first and see how you do with this exercise, which can also be found in the Jefit database. You can make a burpee a customized exercise in the Jefit app.

Three Minimal Equipment Exercises to Try

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Band Exercise(s)

More specifically, we’re talking about small band work used for side stepping, monster walks, back-peddling, etc. You can choose. Everyday life and many of the movements performed in the gym are typically repeated in the same planes of motion. Life and movement, like walking, stair-climbing is done in a linear fashion. When is the last time you performed side stepping on your leg day? This type of movement falls under the often neglected frontal plane. A good weekly workout should incorporate movement targeting all planes of motion.

To begin, place a small rubber band (from either Amazon, Perform Better or Power Systems) around your ankles or above the knees. Maintain a slight bend in the knees, with core engaged and toes pointed straight ahead at all times. Next, perform a side stepping movement for 10-15 yards and return in the opposite direction. This movement is ideal for firing up your hip abductors like glute medius. This area is usually weak or dysfunctional when it comes to most adults. The best way to incorporate these types of movement is to make them part of your dynamic warm-up.

Jumping Rope

This is considered one of the best and most effective exercises you can do at home (or when traveling or at the gym for that matter). A few minutes of jumping rope elevates respiration and heart rate, and strengthens the lower leg while burning maximum calories in minimal time. One study, in The Research Quarterly, found that 10-minutes a day of jumping rope was as efficient as 30-minutes a day of jogging when looking to improve cardiovascular efficiency. Add it to your workout as either part of a warm-up or as a component in a HIIT or circuit program. Build up your duration or number of toe taps over time.

Goblet Squat

Another great, functional movement that requires minimal equipment is a Goblet Squat. Typically performed with a kettlebell, dumbbell or a weight plate. This a great exercise if you have been doing barbell squats for a while. A Goblet Squat requires you to go below parallel. Meaning, if the mobility is there, the knees will be higher than the hips at the end of the movement. You’ll end up looking like a catcher playing baseball. Keep the weight close to your body throughout and elbows pointed down.

The six exercises mentioned here would be a welcome addition to any home exercise routine. Even better, add all six of them when you build your next Jefit interval-based workout. Perform 30-seconds of each exercise to start and build up your duration over time.

Add These Exercises to a Jefit Workout

The award-winning Jefit app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge 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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4 Podcasts & Books for Better Mental and Physical Health

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What was the first podcast you ever listened to? Now think about your mental and physical health over the past few months. We undoubtedly could all benefit from a little motivational boost as we near the end of this long, arduous year? Give yourself a wonderful present before the Holiday season arrives. Download these uplifting podcasts and audiobooks. Listen to them as you exercise. If you’re someone who likes to listen to music when you exercise – like me – then try plugging into a podcast or audiobook during the first half of your walk or run. Use the second half of the workout to listen to music, when you may need it to get through it.

Get Motivated Through Audio Episodes

We know that taking care of our body pays back strong dividends. Taking care of ourselves physically ends up improving our mental health as well. Listening to a good, informative podcast or audio book will do wonders for clearing your head from of the stress of the day. The following audio sessions will do that and more.

10% Happier Podcast

This is a wonderful podcast with great content that will elevate mood and mental health as you listen. I have recommended it to many family and friends. We have talked about this particular podcast previously, found here. An informative podcast from former ABC News Anchor Dan Harris. After leaving his news job he started the Boston-based company 10% Happier. I read his meditation book (that was also great) and you’ll end up loving his podcast too. This is one podcast that will help set your mind right, improving your mental and physical health along the way. Podcast #286 in particular, with Dr. Mark Hyman titled “Feeding the Mind” was a great episode that I really enjoyed and you probably will too.

All in the Mind

This podcast explores the limits of the human mind. We have so much untapped potential upstairs in our brains where it has been said we utilize only 10 percent of our brain capacity. That is a myth by the way. One study reported 65 percent of Americans believe it’s true though. Activities like meditation and exercise will help in this area, no matter what the real number is. Here is a testimonial from a listener “Love this podcast. This podcast is the best thing I have ever listened to.” This recent episode explores how to Stay Mentally Healthy.

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Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

This audiobook explores the mental and physical health connection. It’s a groundbreaking and fascinating look at the life changing effects that exercise has on the brain. From the bestselling author and psychiatrist John J. Ratey, MD. Spark is one of the first books to explore the deep connection between exercise and the brain. “It will change forever the way you think about your morning run – or, for that matter, simply the way you think.”

Peak Performance

The first audiobook of its kind. “Peak Performance combines inspiring stories of top performers across a range of capabilities – from athletic, to intellectual, to artistic – with the latest scientific insights into the cognitive and neurochemical factors that drive performance in all domains.” I read the book but wished I got the audio book. Very insightful, and highly researched information on how to get more out of your performance on all fronts. Brad Stulberg, is a former consultant for McKinsey and Company and a journalist who covers health and human performance. Steve Magness, is a performance scientist and has coached many Olympic athletes. This won a 2018 Audie Award for Best Business & Personal Development Audiobook.

These four audio options, via two podcasts and two audiobooks, will change the way you think about how the brain & body interact. You’ll find out the true benefits of mental and physical health and why they are so important. If you’re looking to take your knowledge and training to the next level, these podcasts and audio books will equip you with the right tools to do that. Stay Strong with Jefit.

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Tabata: The Best Workout You’re Most Likely Doing Wrong

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First, some background on the well-known Tabata workout. The workout almost ended up having a name other than Tabata associated with it. The Japanese researcher did not design the exercise protocol he just showed how good it was at improving work capacity in athletes. The head coach of the Japanese speed skating team brought in Izumi Tabata, PhD, to work with the team back in the 1990’s. The coach wanted Dr. Tabata to analyze the efficacy of their training program. The training program used short 20-second bouts of high intensity exercise with brief 10-second rest periods. It was Dr. Tabata who subsequently showed the world, through his research, how effective this type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) actually was.

Misunderstanding in a Tabata Workout is Intensity Level

To begin with, most individuals end up performing a Tabata protocol incorrectly because they choose a low intensity. Looking back at the original research published in 1996 by Dr. Tabata you can see that his original training intensity was very high.

ATHLETE GROUP 1

Subjects pedaled on a cycle ergometer for 60-minutes at a moderate intensity (70 percent of VO2 max). This is comparable to a long, slow jog. Subjects were male amateur athletes in their mid-twenties. Subjects exercised 5 hours a week. The anaerobic capacity did not change. The VO2max increased significantly during the training in this group.

ATHLETE GROUP 2

Subjects pedaled for 20-seconds, followed by 10-seconds of rest, repeated 7-8 times for 4-minutes. This was performed at a maximal effort. The key word here is maximal, subjects worked at 170 percent of VO2 max. Subjects exercised 20-minutes a week. Anaerobic capacity increased by 23 percent after 4 wk of training. It increased further toward the end of the training period. After the training period, anaerobic capacity reached 77 ± 9 ml/kg/min. or 28 percent higher compared to pre-training capacity.

Both subject groups performed the exercise protocol for 6-weeks. During that time, subjects worked out either 5 days a week for a total of 5 hours a week or 20 minutes. After the training period, aerobic capacity or VO2max increased by 7 ml/kg/min. while anaerobic capacity improved by 28 percent.

Tabata Workout Protocol

The athletes used in the early work of Dr. Tabata were tested on a cycle ergometers. Therefore, certain exercises like a plank typically don’t elicit a high enough training intensity. Jump squats, on the other hand, work nicely because more muscle mass is involved. Finally, to mimic a true Tabata protocol, select exercises that utilize a large percentage of muscle mass not isolation type movements. A couple of suggested cardio products that would work are explosive bodyweight exercises, rowing ergometer, versa climber or running stairs.

Tabata Protocol

  • Warm-up (suggested time 5:00) – Use a 2:1 work-to-rets ratio x 8 rounds
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • 20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
  • 10-seconds rest
  • Cool-down (suggested time: 5:00)

14-minute total time, 4:00 High Intensity work

The idea is to complete as many repetitions of the exercise or movement in 20-seconds, rest briefly for 10-seconds and repeat this format 8 times. Lastly, the idea is to repeat the same exercise or movement or choose different exercises for each round.

Use the Jefit App to Build, Log & Track Your Workouts

The Jefit app now has the ability to perform and log interval based workouts like Tabata Protocol. Stay Strong!

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Home Exercise: Metabolic Conditioning Series

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It seems like we all could use a fun, effective workout these days with everything going on. Working out with a good home exercise routine needs to be creative as well as effective. The Metabolic Conditioning four-exercise series takes care of that and more. The goals of these demanding, intermediate programs are to improve general fitness, strength and aerobic capacity.

Bill Bryson, author of The Body, offers some amazing research from his latest book on the powerful benefits of what regular exercise can do for us. “Going for regular walks reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke by 31%. Those benefits probably also improve when the intensity is increased a bit and strength training is added to the mix?

Research conducted in 2012, looked at the value of being active and showed an increase in life expectancy. Mr. Bryson reported that just 11 minutes of activity a day, for those 40 and older, “yielded 1.8 years of added life expectancy.” When that number increased to 60 minutes of activity a day, the yield improved to 4.2 years. The analysis included 655,000 test subjects who participated in the study.

Home Exercise Program Design

Taking a look inside the design of this program series shows eight individual exercises sessions. Exercise sessions are performed twice weekly. The deeper someone goes into the series, the more challenging the workout experience becomes. The final exercise session features the highest volume of exercise compared to any previous session. There are four bodyweight exercises that start off each session. Subsequent to this, the individual will complete six primary exercises. All bodyweight and exercises using resistance, are performed as compound sets.

Example of a Training Session

The following exercise session is included in the first week of the Metabolic Conditioning series. There are seven more exercise sessions in addition to this one. There are ten total exercises, between warm-up and primary exercises, in the eight sessions. Each one of the workouts is slightly more challenging than the previous session.

Bodyweight Warm-Up

Primary Exercises

The Jefit Elite series first two sessions can be found here and here. The following two sessions can be found here & here and that wraps up the full 8-weeks. Stay Strong!

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How to Avoid Weight Gain with HIT

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The human body is at its peak, physiologically speaking, between the ages of about 18-29 years old. Bodily changes occur thereafter, like losses in strength and aerobic capacity coupled with changes in bodyweight and body composition. There is a significant, yet preventable, downward shift with each of those variables after the third decade of life. How to avoid weight gain becomes a central focus for the majority of our population after about the third decade.

5 Ways to Avoid Weight Gain: Focus on Lifestyle Changes

The following suggestions need to be done consistently each week in order to change the way you look and feel. It’s not some type of quick fix!

Physical Activity Related

  • Never Stop Strength Training. This one is a must for each one of us, especially as we age. The key is building a strong base during the early years (teenage through 20’s) and then maintain that strength with a few weekly strength training sessions. Yes, for the rest of your life. Look at all the older people you know who don’t exercise and lead an un-active lifestyle. How are they doing with that?
  • Increase Activity. I’m not talking about long, slow, aerobic exercise here. The goal is to turn off and put down all screens each day. Then, work a little harder and find creative ways to increase your activity level each day. A good definition of physical activity is “all activities, at any intensity, performed during any time of day or night. It includes exercise and incidental activity integrated into daily activity.” For me, its about making sure I walk and move enough to move 5-7 miles a day (about 10-14,000/steps) on top of exercise.
  • HIT It Hard. HIT refers to high-intensity interval training. It can have a positive effect on fat-loss, prevent weight gain, and improve VO2 max. There is also a great deal of research on the benefits on cardiometabolic health (blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol level). Try a minimum of 1-2 HIT sessions a week with multiple days of rest between bouts to take advantage of these benefits. This could be the key to how you avoid weight gain.

Nutrition Related

  • Watch What You Put into Your Mouth. It can all come down to being that simple. Begin to think of food as fuel for your body. Don’t eat it unless it’s high octane fuel that can help your body. We all know fad diets don’t work, long-term. Eating real, unprocessed food, like in the Mediterranean Diet, is the goal.
  • AVOID Added Sugar. We know it’s in everything. So a little is not a big deal. But try to eat less than 38 grams/added sugar/day/men and 25 grams/add sugar/day/women. Doing this will add years to your life and keep unwanted weight off, especially around the abdominal and hip area.

How HIT Improves Overall Health

One of the leading researchers on the benefits of HIT is Martin Gibala, PhD from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. One of his many research studies (2014) looked at the effects of short-term interval training using a 10-minute protocol with only 1-minute of hard exercise. The results were various health improvements in overweight adults. In summary, the study showed 3-minutes of all out exercise performed within a 30-minute routine (includes warm-up & cool-down), 3x/week, improved cardiometabolic health factors. This study included 18 supervised training sessions over a 6-week period. As a result, improvements in the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, blood pressure and VO2 max were some of the outcomes.

How HIT Improves Body Composition

A second study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2019), compared the effects moderate-intensity (MOD) exercise with HIT. The research groups looked at 786 studies before choosing 36 that met their meta-analysis study criteria. Interval training and MOD both reduce body fat percentage. Interval training, however, provided a 28.5% greater reduction in total absolute fat mass compared to MOD. Other research has shown that HIT is superior to MOD in many other areas. HIT promotes greater increases in VO2max, ventricular function, improvements in insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, lower ratings of perceived exertion, higher levels of enjoyment and higher adherence than MOD.

Jefit Compliments HIT

Adding weekly HIT sessions with Jefit strength training is suggested if weight-loss and other cardiometabolic health benefits are the goal. Many of the Jefit home circuit-based training programs pair nicely with HIT sessions. The first is Advanced Bodyweight Circuit and a second option is a program I’m doing right now, Total Body Circuit. Enjoy and Stay Strong!

Suggested Reading

The One-Minute Workout, Martin Gibala, PhD, 2017.

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