Exercise of the Month: The Squat

There’s no two ways about it. If you want a great butt, squats are the only way to go! The staple of any workout routine, the squat is an exercise I love. The squat is a full compound exercise that works primarily the muscles of the glutes, thighs, hips and core (especially lower back). It also burns more calories than just about any other single movement making it a great way of toning and burning fat.
What is great about squating is that it is a fundamental human movement that we have been doing since caveman days and it can be performed without any equipment. It builds strength, power and mobility.

One of the long held concerns about squats is that they can damage your knees. However, the reality is that if performed correctly they actually improve knee strength and mobility. You need to warm up first and then stand with feet shoulder width apart with knees centred over your feet.  As you slowly bend your knees, hips and ankles you push your bum backwards, lowering until you reach 90 degrees.

The hardest part of the exercise for newbies is keeping your bottom back. I always try to imagine that I am trying to sit on a chair that is a few feet behind me. This requires allowing your weight to centre on your heels and you to push your bottom back. By doing the exercise in this way, your knees will never extend further forward than the tip of your toes. When you perform it right, you’ll feel it!

VIPR Fitness Training: Great or Just a Fad?

Last week I had my first ever ViPR workout. I was calling it V-I-P-R until our class instructor informed me that it was just pronounced “Viper”! But what the heck were these strange looking tubes? Well the name is an acronym for Vitality, Performance, and Reconditioning and the device itself is a weighted hollow tube around 48 inches long with grip points that you can use to add resistance to your workouts. It looked like a rather simple piece of equipment but as a fitness tool it’s actually very versatile. The simple shape and grip handles mean that you can perform any number of movements that include pulling, pushing and twisting – patterns we all perform in our daily lives.
ViPR is certainly no easy workout. It focuses on core strength and is a great device for performing functional exercise using all three movement patterns. This ensures that you work muscles that may normally be left dormant when using traditional gym machines or other fitness equipment. It can be dragged, jumped over, carried, thrown, rolled, tilted, stepped on or flipped. I like to fact that I felt my core and legs burning within just a few minutes! We were holding it above our head’s whilst performing jumping jacks, pushing it infront of us during sit ups, doing ski-hops across it from side to side, performing squats, upper cuts, side lunges and even pushing it along the ground. I was amazed how many circuit based exercises could be performed with this device. I thought I was pretty fit but this really pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
Whilst the device looks a bit faddy, in fact I found it to be a great workout and it has certainly proved to be a popular piece of equipment to use amongst both recreational exercisers and sports such as martial arts and cage fighters. Whilst I would probably not want to spend a whole hour using the ViPR, it’s fun and a great addition to any workout routine.