How do I get stronger? – 5 exercises everyone should be doing

How do I get stronger? – 5 exercises everyone should be doing

5 essential functional exercises to get you fit and strong

Today conventional wisdom says that to be strong, one must lift heavy barbells and toss around big weights. The current interest in fitness has beginners in gyms getting under heavy barbells without the proper training – a recipe for disaster. Really, you should master some basics before attempting more technical lifts.

Our caveman ancestors were strong across a wide spectrum of modalities: pushing, pressing, pulling, throwing, squatting, lunging, jumping, twisting, hauling and a myriad of other physical movements. Since very few of us grow up in an intensely physically demanding world, it is common to embark on fitness endeavors with substantial strength and fitness deficits. Regardless of your current fitness level, you are certainly suited to lifting heavy things, but heavy is a relative term and all that should matter is what is heavy to you.

Bodyweight resistance exercise (or calisthenics) is the perfect place to start. These exercises make strength training simple, safe, cheap, time efficient and always accessible. They are infinitely scalable to be as easy or as difficult as you choose and as an added bonus, will improve core strength. The absence of any outside resistance makes these exercises extremely safe for the joints and soft tissues often injured in the gym, even under expert supervision.

Bodyweight exercises promote functional fitness. This refers to the natural interplay between corresponding joints; tendons; and muscles as they are meant to be used in everyday movements. You could measure strength by how much you can bench press, or how many plates you can stack on the leg extension machine. Alternatively, strength might be measured by how well you climb a tree, how powerfully you could stroke to shore against a rip tide, or if you could carry your wife or child from a burning house.

Below are five functional exercises. The key to functional exercise is integration – teaching all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently.

1. Push-up

2. Pull-up/Chin-up

3. Overhead press

4. Squat

5. Plank

The beauty of these exercises is that you can manipulate your own bodyweight to increase the load safely and effectiveness for all levels of fitness. There are many ways to modify these exercises to make them really easy or really hard. For example, a push-up against a wall would be the simplest application of a push up, whereas a muscle up, superman push up or planche push up are incredibly difficult! Similarly, try a basic prisoner squat versus a one-legged pistol squat. The average Joe will not need barbells or squat racks to progress and get fit.

For ideas on how to make the above exercises more or less challenging, download a copy of Mark Sisson’s eBook, “Primal Blueprint Fitness”. You can download a free copy here.

You might be currently struggling with a recurring injury, feel your current fitness program is inadequate or unsafe, or just don’t know where to start. Visit your health professional for advice on safe and effective fitness alternatives that will benefit your individual needs.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

How to unblock your nose in 2 minutes.

How to unblock your nose in 2 minutes.

Unblock your nose in 2 minutes

Pinch your nose around both nostrils and walk as fast as you can whilst keeping your mouth closed all the time and holding your breath. If brisk walking is not possible, pinch your nose and rather nod your head forwards and backwards quickly whilst holding your breath. Once you feel a strong urge to breathe, sit down with your spine totally straight – you are about to take your first breath.

The next step is vitally important. After you release your nose, you are to resume normal breathing but ensure you keep your mouth closed. Resist the urge to take a huge gasp of air, instead, take a smaller inhale and then relax all of your muscles during exhalation, especially your upper chest and other respiratory muscles. Make another smaller inhalation, and again relax. With each inhalation, practice this reduced or shallow breathing while remaining relaxed.

How does it work?

When you hold your breath and perform repetitive physical movements, all the cells of your body, including the airways, lungs, and blood, accumulate more carbon dioxide [CO2]. CO2 is a powerful vasodilator of smooth muscle which lines the sinuses, bronchi and bronchioles (air passages). A vasodilator is a substance that causes smooth muscle to relax thus dilating the tubular passages it lines.

Upon the airways dilating there is quick relief from a blocked nose. Additional effects are due to the dilation of arteries and arterioles when arterial CO2 is increased. CO2 induced vasodilation improves blood and oxygen supply to your nose.

Breathing tip

You should breathe through your nose rather than your mouth. Your nose has an inherent filtering system. Fine hairs inside the nose trap foreign particles found in the air preventing any obstruction to your airways. The exception is during intense physical exertion where you are compelled to breathe through your mouth in order to oxygenate your tissues adequately.

Many people find themselves breathing through their mouth whilst sleeping at night. In the mornings, the mouth is very dry and the voice is often deep and croaky. Whilst it might sound dangerous at first, taping your mouth shut at night can correct this problem over time. You can read more about mouth taping and how it can help you here.

Learning to breathe solely through your nose at night ensures your air passages stay sufficiently lubricated throughout sleep. The wind tunnel effect created by unnecessary mouth breathing often causes snoring but also, ironically, decreases the mount of oxygen to your tissues.

There are many myths surrounding breathing, most notably that deep breathing is good for you. You can learn more about these myths by visiting the normal breathing website. In the meantime, when you next visit your physical therapist, why not quiz him or her on their knowledge of deep versus shallow breathing?

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.