Tag: exercise

Ostarine mk-2866

Ostarine mk-2866

Ostarine MK-2866, a promising yet unapproved SARM that has garnered attention for its potential muscle-building and osteoporosis-fighting capabilities. This article unpacks the science behind Ostarine, exploring its selective action on androgen receptors and its debated place in the fitness and bodybuilding communities. Discover user-reported dosages and cycles, weigh the risks against the purported benefits, and consider the ethical and legal implications of its use. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or simply curious about the latest developments in muscle-wasting treatment research, this comprehensive piece offers a critical look at a substance at the forefront of performance enhancement discussions.

Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Long Arginine 3 (IGF-1 LR3)

Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Long Arginine 3 (IGF-1 LR3)

Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Long Arginine 3 (IGF-1 LR3) is a modified form of the naturally occurring Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). It plays a significant role in muscle growth and has gained popularity in bodybuilding for its potential to enhance muscle development and recovery. Here’s an overview of IGF-1 LR3 in the context of bodybuilding, including…

Standing Cable Chest Fly Exercise Guide: How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked, and Variations

Standing Cable Chest Fly Exercise Guide: How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked, and Variations

A broad and muscular chest has been the symbol of masculinity since time immemorial. Chances are, they come up with the term ‘masculine’ to refer to an individual with a wide and thick chest. 
Building an Arnold Schwarzenegger-like round and full chest is one of the top priorities for most guys that lift weights. It is no coincidence that Monday is international chest day. Consider yourself a very lucky man if there is no crowd on the chest training equipment in your gym on a Monday. 
Although many lifters prefer the bench press for building muscle and strength, ask someone which exercise is their go-to for achieving a muscle-ripping chest pump or ending their workout on a high, and they’ll most likely reply with a resounding standing cable chest fly!
The standing cable chest fly is everything that the bench press isn’t. It is not intimidating, and you are not at risk of getting trapped under a heavy bar if you fail a rep; you don’t need a spotter, it helps maintain constant tension on your pecs throughout the range of motion, and leaves you with a sick muscle pump every time. 
Whether you are a bodybuilder trying to improve your aesthetics or a powerlifter looking to improve your strength, you cannot go wrong with the standing cable chest fly. Besides your chest days, the cable chest fly can be an excellent addition to your push-day routines as it involves your chest, triceps, and anterior deltoids. 
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about the standing cable chest fly to get the best bang for your buck, including the correct training techniques, its benefits, the muscles worked, the most common mistakes, and its variations and alternatives. 
What is a Standing Cable Chest Fly?

The standing cable chest fly is an isolation exercise that primarily targets the chest. However, since this exercise involves movement at the shoulder joint and elbows, it also engages the anterior deltoids and triceps. 
The standing cable chest fly is an excellent exercise for most lifters, irrespective of their training experience. It can help newbies establish a better mind-muscle connection with their pecs, translating to better performance on compound movements, like the bench press and dips. Conversely, it can help advanced lifters warm up for their chest workouts or achieve maximal pectoral muscle fiber recruitment at the end of their training session without increasing their risk of injury. 
Unlike free weight exercises, cables keep constant tension on your muscles throughout the range of motion, which can increase your time under tension and bias hypertrophy. Plus, since you must be standing upright while performing this exercise, it results in a greater core engagement than the barbell bench press, where you are lying on a bench. 
How To Do a Standing Cable Chest Fly
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the standing cable chest fly with a picture-perfect form:
Step 1: Adjust the Cable Pulley
You can choose between two pulley positions while performing the standing cable chest fly. The first position involves setting the pulley at chest level and attaching D-handle bars on each end. This position allows you to mimic the lying dumbbell chest fly motion and bias the inner and middle pecs. 
The other option is the more popular choice and involves setting the pulleys at the highest setting. In this setup, you’ll press the handles diagonally toward the floor. The cable should be at 45 degrees throughout the range of motion. This setup biases the inner and middle, and lower pecs. 

Pro Tip: I recommend setting the pulleys at the highest setting as it involves a unique angle of motion that you cannot mimic with free weights to train your pectoral muscles. For this reason, I’ll stick to the second setup for this demonstration. 

Step 2: Take Your Position
Grab the D-handles with a neutral (palms facing each other) grip and position yourself in the center of the cable pulley machine. Now, take a big step forward and bring your hands to your chest level. Extend your arms to your sides so that your hands are in line with your chest while your elbows are slightly behind your torso. 
You can use a staggered stance or place both your feet together. Since the former option involves a much larger surface area, it will provide better stability. The latter, on the other hand, is the optimal choice if you want more core engagement. 

Pro Tip: Maintaining a slight bend in your knees throughout the exercise will give you a better base.

Step 3: Perform the Fly Motion
Lean forward slightly by bending at your hips to better isolate your pecs. Brace your core and initiate the movement by moving at the shoulder joint. Extend your elbows during the concentric phase for optimal chest muscle fiber stimulation. Your hands should be in front of your midsection or pelvis at the bottom of the range of motion.  
Bringing the elbows together during concentrics shortens the pecs to their fully contracted position. On the flip side, keeping your elbows bent prevents your chest muscles from moving through their full range of motion, hindering their activation. 

Pro Tip: Maintain a neutral back and a proud chest for maximal pectoral muscle engagement while performing this exercise. 

Step 4: Pause and Contract at the Top
Hold the isometric contraction at the top of the range of motion for a second and squeeze your pecs as hard as possible. Your head and neck should be in line with your torso. Dropping your head back or pressing your chin into your upper pecs can be a bottleneck while contracting your pecs at the static contraction point at the top. 

Pro Tip: Avoid touching your hands at the bottom of the range of motion or interlacing your fingers, as it will remove the tension from your pecs and put it on your anterior deltoids. 

Step 5: Control the Eccentrics
Maintaining your torso in a straight line, slowly return your arms to the starting position while feeling your chest muscles engage. Pause at the bottom for a second before repeating this process for the recommended reps. 

Pro Tip: You must focus on actively contracting your pecs throughout the range of motion. Slow down the rep tempo if you don’t feel your chest while performing this exercise. 

Standing Cable Chest Fly Tips:

Avoid squeezing the handles too tight, as it can lead to forearm and biceps recruitment. Switch to a false (thumbless) grip if you feel too much arm engagement while performing this movement.
Your feet should be bolted to the floor throughout the exercise. Avoid moving your feet or tapping your heels, as it can take tension off your chest.
Avoid lowering your hands way too far behind your body during eccentrics. Contrary to what many people think, it doesn’t lead to greater muscle stimulation but can strain your shoulder joints.
Keep your core braced while performing the standing cable chest fly. This can help eliminate the possibility of employing momentum.
Optimize your breathing to maximize your performance. Breathe in during eccentrics and breathe out during concentrics. You must hold your breath during the isometric contraction at the top before breathing in again during the eccentric phase.

In This Exercise:

Target Muscle Group: Chest
Secondary Muscle Groups: Shoulders and Triceps
Type: Strength
Mechanics: Isolation
Equipment: Cables
Difficulty: Beginner
Best Rep Range: 

Hypertrophy: 8-12
Strength: 1-5

Muscles Worked During Standing Cable Chest Fly
Here are the muscles worked during the standing cable chest fly:
The pectoralis major and pectoralis minor are the primary target muscle of this exercise. Your pecs are responsible for horizontal shoulder adduction, which involves bringing your arm inward toward your body. Since this is exactly what the standing cable chest fly does, maintaining a strict form on this lift will target only your chest. 
You can target different areas of your chest on this exercise by changing your angle of pull. Moving your arms straight forward will target the inner and middle pecs. Performing this exercise diagonally from top to bottom will work your inner, middle, and lower pecs, and an upward diagonal movement will train your lower pecs. 
Since most of the movement in this exercise is limited to the shoulder joint, it can lead to anterior deltoid engagement. Leaning forward excessively can lead to greater shoulder engagement than maintaining an upright torso. 
The elbow flexion during eccentrics and extension during concentrics can lead to triceps engagement. Avoid locking out your elbows and maintaining a slight bend in your arms if you feel too much triceps engagement at the top while performing this exercise. 
This exercise requires standing in the front and center of a cable pulley machine. You must resist the pull of the cables throughout the exercise, which will lead to core engagement. A staggered stance recruits your core to a lesser degree than a parallel stance. 
Benefits of Standing Cable Chest Fly
Adding the standing cable chest fly to your exercise arsenal entails the following benefits:
Build a Bigger and Stronger Chest
While the muscle conditioning benefits of standing cable chest fly are well-known, many lifters assume that isolation exercises don’t lead to strength or muscle gains. However, nothing could be further from the truth. 
Performing three to five sets of the standing cable chest fly in the 8-12 rep range will bias hypertrophy. On the other hand, lifting close to your one-rep max for three to six sets of one to five reps will help improve your upper body strength. [1]
Excellent For Lifters of All Experience Levels
Cable isolation exercises are beginner-friendly. They can help novice lifters develop a robust mind-muscle connection, which can carry over to compound exercises. On the other hand, experienced lifters can use this exercise to warm up or train their chest to failure. 
Low Risk of Injury
Unlike the barbell bench press, where the bar can end up on your chest on a failed rep, hitting muscle failure on the cable chest fly won’t expose you to an injury. You can just let go of the handles in the middle of the rep without a worry in the world. 
Cable and machines significantly lower the risk of injury while training. It is common to hear people getting injured training with dumbbells and barbells, but you’ll hardly ever come across someone who got injured training with cables.
Constant Tension
Cables keep constant tension on your muscles throughout the range of motion, which can help induce hypertrophy. Conversely, free weights remove the tension from your muscles and put it on your joints at multiple points throughout the exercise. 
Cable exercises take significantly less time than free-weight movements, making them an excellent choice for adding them to high-volume workouts. They are also great for folks that have limited time to train. 
Common Mistakes While Performing Standing Cable Chest Fly
Avoid the following pitfalls to maximize your results and limit your risk of injury:
‘Pressing’ Instead of ‘Flying’
This is probably the most common mistake lifters make while performing the cable chest fly. They press the weight in front of their chest, using their triceps and shoulders. You must limit the chest fly movements to the shoulder joints, which helps focus on the pectoral muscles. 
Move your arms in a sweeping motion while performing the standing cable chest fly. There is a time and place for the cable chest press, but this is not one of them. That said, feel free to do partial pressing reps to annihilate your chest after completing your full ROM flyes. According to a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study, “partial range of motion exercise is effective for facilitating muscle hypertrophy and function.” [2]
Do Not ‘Hug a Bear’
‘Hug a bear’ or ‘Hug a tree’ are the most popular cues given while trainers teach newbie lifters how to perform the standing cable chest fly. Here is my advice — don’t. Instead, you want to squeeze the bear’s head or the tree’s trunk between your elbows. Do this, and your chest pumps will be out of the world. 
Lifting Too Heavy
Many lifters let their ego get the better of them while performing the standing cable chest fly. You don’t need to move the entire stack to get those inner chest striations. Keep your rep slow and controlled, and focus on contracting your pecs throughout the range of motion. Furthermore, going too heavy on this lift will lead to greater core engagement as you will have to fight the weight to maintain your position. 
Moving Your Torso
You must keep an upright torso and avoid using momentum by swinging back and forth to maximize pectoral muscle stimulation. If you have to move your body to complete a rep, it is a sign that you are going a little too heavy. 
Variations of Standing Cable Chest Fly
Here are the best standing cable chest fly variations to add to your training regimen. These exercises will train your chest from different angles, ensuring overall development. 
Low Cable Chest Fly
I have covered the two most popular cable chest fly variations above — the high cable fly that involves setting the pulleys at the highest setting and the self-explanatory chest-level cable flyes. The former targets the inner, middle, and lower pecs, whereas the latter targets the inner and middle pecs. 
The low cable chest fly is another popular cable chest fly variation that involves setting the cable pulleys at the lowest setting. In this exercise, your arms should be at 45 degrees at the starting position as you hold the D-handles at your sides. Then, you raise your hands toward the ceiling while extending your elbows until the handles are in front of your chest. The low cable chest fly biases the lower chest. 

Pro Tip: Many lifters experience significant front delt engagement while performing this exercise. You must focus on contracting your pecs throughout the range of motion and use lighter weights to bias the lower pecs. 

Cable Crossover
Some people use standing cable chest fly and cable crossover interchangeably. However, both exercises are different and involve a distinct range of motion. The range of motion of the cable crossover leads to great pectoral muscle fiber recruitment. 
How To:

Set the cable pulleys at the highest setting.
Grab a handle in each hand with a neutral grip and step forward.
Extend your arms at your sides while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
Brace your core and bring your arms in front of your body while extending your elbows.
Your wrists must overlap at the top of the range of motion. Pause and contract your pecs at this position.
Return to the starting position.
Rinse and repeat.

Pro Tip: You should use a lighters weight on the cable crossover than the standing cable chest fly. Although the range of motion is slightly bigger in this exercise, it leads to much greater inner chest stimulation. Also, ensure that you crossover your hands in front of your midsection. Keeping your hands at your chest level will lead to a more significant anterior deltoid recruitment.

Check out our complete cable crossover guide here!
Single-Arm Cable Crossover
Unilateral exercises are incredibly effective at fixing muscle and strength imbalances. Since these movements involve working one side of your body at a time, it can lead to a better mind-muscle connection. Also, because this exercise requires only one pulley, it is an excellent cable fly variation for folks that work out during rush hours. 
How To:

Set the cable pulley at the highest setting.
Attach a D-handle bar and grab it with a neutral grip.
Take a step to your side and hold your hand on your side at your chest level.
Place your non-working hand on your hip for stability.
Brace your core and bring your arms in front of your midsection while extending your elbow.
Pause and contract your chest.
Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.

Pro Tip: Avoid stepping forward while performing this exercise, as the cable will brush your upper arm. Stand next to the cable pulley and take a small step to your side. 

Alternatives of Standing Cable Chest Fly
Given below are some standing cable chest fly alternatives:
Dumbbell Fly
The dumbbell fly is a staple in most chest training regimens. It is one of the best free-weight exercises to target the inner pecs and build the covered striations. However, most people leave gains on the table by following an incorrect form. 
How To:

Lie on your back on a flat bench. Maintain the natural curvature of your spine.
There should be enough gap between your lower back and the bench for your hand to pass through.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip and hold them over your chest. Your arms should be at 90 degrees at the starting position.
Contract your pecs and slowly lower the dumbbells toward the floor. Your upper arms should be in line with your chest at the bottom, and your elbows should be slightly bent.
Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. Focus on flexing your pecs throughout the range of motion for optimal muscle fiber engagement.
Repeat for repetitions.

Pro Tip: Avoid keeping your arms straight during eccentrics, as it can strain your shoulder joints unnecessarily. Your upper arms shouldn’t break parallel at the bottom. 

Check out our complete dumbbell fly guide here!
Pec Deck Fly
The pec deck fly is the darling of the bodybuilding community. Many lifters prefer it over the cables as it has a fixed movement trajectory and involves sitting against a back pad, which helps you better focus on your pecs and removes your core stabilizers from the equation. 
How To:

Set the seat of the pec deck machine so that your chest is at the handle level. Place your back on the back pad.
Grab the handles at chest level. Your elbows should be slightly bent at the starting position.
Pull your shoulder blades back and down and maintain a proud chest.
Bring the handles in front of your chest while moving at the shoulder joint and extending your elbows.
Drive your elbows together at the top of the motion and contract your pecs as hard as possible.
Slowly return to the starting position.
Repeat for recommended reps.

Pro Tip: Many lifters tend to round their shoulders and drive their chin into their upper pecs while performing this exercise, especially during high-rep sets. However, it removes tension from your pectoral muscles and engages your anterior and medial deltoids and traps. 

Check out our complete pec deck fly guide here!
Resistance Band Standing Cable Chest Fly
This standing cable chest fly alternative is excellent for folks that don’t have access to a cable pulley machine. You can do this in your garage gym or anywhere you can anchor a resistance band. However, I recommend using a squat rack and D-handle resistance bands for this exercise. 
How To:

Securely attach a resistance band to each pole of a squat rack.
Grab the D-handles with a neutral grip.
Take a step forward and assume a staggered stance.
Extend your arms at your sides and bend your elbows slightly. The bands should be taut at this position, and you should feel tension in your pecs.
Maintaining an upright torso, bring your hands in front of your midsection while extending your elbows.
Pause and contract your pecs at the top of the range of motion.
Slowly return to the starting position.
Repeat for recommended reps.

Pro Tip: Performing this exercise by tying two resistance bands across a single pole will limit your range of motion as the bands will rub the sides of your arms throughout the range of motion. 

Bodyweight Flyes
Although this is a bodyweight exercise, it comes with a steep learning curve. Bodyweight flyes, also known as barbell roll-out flyes, involve using two barbells and demand significant core strength. This exercise is best reserved for intermediate and advanced lifters. 
How To:

Place two barbells on the floor parallel to each other.
Add a weight plate on the same end of both barbells. The other end should not have any weight.
Get on your knees between the barbells facing the weighted ends.
Grab the barbells below the collars and get into a push-up position.
The non-weighted ends should be right next to your feet.
Brace your core and slowly extend your arms outward.
Your chest should be in line with your upper arms at the bottom of the range of motion.
Reverse the movement while driving your elbows together.
Focus on contracting your pecs throughout the shoulder joint extension and flexion.

Pro Tip: Use 25-pound plates for this exercise. Using 45-pound plates will limit your range of motion as you won’t be able to bring your hands under your chest at the static contraction point at the top. 

Check out our complete bodyweight fly guide here!
Can I substitute the barbell bench press with the cable chest fly?
The barbell bench press is a compound (multi-joint) lift, whereas the cable chest fly is an isolation (single-joint) exercise. Compound exercises are great for building muscle mass and strength, whereas isolation lifts help improve muscle conditioning and fix imbalances. 
Both types of exercises are essential for building a balanced physique, and you shouldn’t choose one over the other. Most conventional bodybuilding programs involve starting the workouts with the bench press and finishing with the cable chest fly. 
Are standing cable chest fly and pec deck fly the same?
No. Although both exercises are isolation movements, the different angles of movement involved train your pecs differently. Many people make the mistake of using momentum on the standing cable chest fly by swinging their body back and forth. Plus, it involves your core for stabilization. 
On the flip side, since you must be seated against a pad to perform the pec deck fly, it eliminates the use of momentum and disengages your core, allowing you to focus on your pectoral muscles. However, this doesn’t mean you should favor the pec deck over the cables in each workout. Incorporate both into your training regime to ensure overall development. 
Why does the cable chest fly give a better chest pump than most other chest exercises?
Cables keep constant tension on your muscles throughout the range of motion. It accumulates to a greater time under tension, leading to better pumps. On the other hand, free-weight isolation lifts such as the dumbbell chest fly puts no demand on your chest at specific points during the range of motion. 
Furthermore, cables allow you to work your chest in the horizontal plane while standing, which is virtually impossible with free weights. Most lifters experience better muscle pumps performing isolation exercises with cables than free-weight single-joint exercises. 
Is the cable chest fly better than the cable crossover for chest development?
The cable crossover is a more extended version of the cable chest fly. While the cable chest fly ends when your hands are next to each other in front of your midsection, cable crossovers require you to stack your wrists on top of each other at the isometric hold at the top. 
Some lifters favor the cable crossover as it helps them achieve greater pectoral muscle fiber recruitment. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence to prove if cable crossovers lead to better hypertrophic results. 
Wrapping Up
The standing cable chest fly is an incredibly effective isolation exercise to build muscle size, strength, and conditioning in your pectoral muscles. By altering the pulley height, you can bias different areas of your chest while performing this exercise. 
This guide has all the details you need to improve your form and maximize your results. Use the cable chest fly alternatives and variations listed in this article to add variety to your training regime and keep it interesting. So, what are you waiting for? Get to work on those coveted inner chest striations already. Best of luck! 

Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J, Van Every DW, Plotkin DL. Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum. Sports (Basel). 2021 Feb 22;9(2):32. doi: 10.3390/sports9020032. PMID: 33671664; PMCID: PMC7927075.
Goto M, Maeda C, Hirayama T, Terada S, Nirengi S, Kurosawa Y, Nagano A, Hamaoka T. Partial Range of Motion Exercise Is Effective for Facilitating Muscle Hypertrophy and Function Through Sustained Intramuscular Hypoxia in Young Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res. 2019 May;33(5):1286-1294. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002051. PMID: 31034463.

GHD Exercise Guide: How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked, and Variations

GHD Exercise Guide: How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked, and Variations

Most people like to train their mirror muscles. What are those, you ask? These are the muscles that you can look at in the mirror while training them, such as the biceps, shoulders, chest, abs, and quadriceps. Looking at your pumped-up muscles in the mirror makes you want to train them more often. 
On the other hand, since you cannot look at your posterior chain muscles, such as the back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, it makes it more difficult to establish a mind-muscle connection with them. Since most people fail to achieve optimal muscle fiber stimulation and contraction while training their posterior chain muscles, it is usually a lagging muscle group for them. 
That said, the posterior chain muscles, such as the glutes, back, and hamstrings are some of the biggest muscle groups in your body. Overlooking training them can lead to strength and muscle imbalances and increase your risk of injury. 
The GHD machine was developed to fix this issue. This ordinary-looking bench is one of the most versatile pieces of training equipment. An exerciser can perform several exercises on the GHD machine to improve their posterior chain. 
Most people use ‘GHD’ glute-hamstring developer and ‘GHR’ glute-hamstring raise interchangeably. By making this mistake, these folks limit the possibilities of what they can achieve with this machine.
In this article, we go over everything you must know to make the most of the GHD machine, including the different exercises you can perform, the muscles worked, its benefits, common mistakes, and the best variations and alternatives. We have a lot to cover, so sit tight and read on. 
What is GHD?

The glute-hamstring developer, popularly known as the GHD, is a hyperextension alternative. This isolation exercise builds endurance, strength, and muscle mass in the posterior chain (read: hamstrings, glutes, and lower back).
The GHD machine has become a mainstay in CrossFit gyms worldwide because of its effectiveness. The meteoric rise of CrossFit since 2014 has also led to the popularity of the GHD machine. 
In contrast to the hyperextension machine, which usually has its thigh pads set at a 45-degree angle, the GHD machine has its pads parallel to the floor. This setup puts more demands on your posterior chain muscles. 
Best GHD Exercises & How To Do Them
There are four main GHD machine exercises you must do to take your posterior chain gains to the next level. These exercises might look the same to an untrained eye. However, this guide will help you differentiate between them and learn the correct form to maximize results. 
GHD Glute-Ham Raise (GHD Raise)
The GHD raise is one of the most popular GHD exercises, and it is the exercise most people are referring to while talking about GHDs. Glute-hamstring raises were allegedly developed by the Soviet Union weightlifting team to maximize their snatch and clean and jerk performance. As the name suggests, this exercise helps focus on the glutes and hamstrings. 
How To Do the GHD Raise:

Mount the machine and place your knees on the support pads just shy of the center. Your hips should be over the pads at the bottom of the movement. 
Hold onto the pads while you get into position.
Anchor your ankles between the foot pads. 
Your lower legs should be parallel to the floor, and your torso should be 90 degrees with it. 
Hold your hands in front of your chest and keep your back neutral throughout the exercise. This will be your starting position.
Take a deep breath, brace your core, and slowly lean your torso forward by extending your knees until it is parallel to the floor. 
Breathe out sharply and flex your knees to return to the starting position. 
Focus on contracting your glutes and hamstrings throughout the range of motion. 
Repeat for the recommended reps. 

Pro Tip: Your body, from the top of your knees to your head, should be in a straight line throughout the exercise. Avoid hinging your hips or rounding or overarching your back during this lift. 

GHD Hip Extension
The GHD hip extension focuses on your glutes and is one of the best isolation exercises for folks with a lagging bum. You will also experience greater lower back engagement in this GHD variation. 
How To Do the GHD Hip Extension:

Adjust the foot platform so that your hips are entirely off the support pads during the exercise. 
Get on the GHD machine and place your feet between the foot pads. 
Your feet should be pointing straight down during the exercise. Angling out your feet will put unnecessary strain on your adductors. 
Cross your arms in front of your chest. 
Lower your torso toward the floor so that your body is perpendicular to the floor, also known as the Superwoman position. Again, your hips should be off the pads. This will be your starting position. 
Take a deep breath, brace your core, and lower your torso until it is almost perpendicular to the floor. 
Contract your glutes and return to the starting position. 
Rinse and repeat. 

Pro Tip: Avoid breaking parallel during concentrics as it can remove tension from your glutes and put it on your lower back and hamstrings. Keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down and your chest proud throughout this exercise.

GHD Back Extension
The GHD back extension is a combination of the GHD raise and the GHD hip extension in that you will use the setup of the former, whereas you will follow the range of motion of the latter. That said, the focus of this exercise is your lower back. Your glutes and hamstrings will function as supporting muscles. 
Since you’ll focus on your lower back in this exercise, you must round your back during eccentrics (lowering movement) and unfurl your back during concentrics. 
How To Do the GHD Back Extension:

Adjust the foot pads so that the top of your hips is above the center of the pad. 
Mount the GHD machine and place your ankles between the foot pads. 
Cross your arms in front of your chest and get into a Superwoman position so your body is parallel to the floor. 
Initiate the movement by tucking your chin into your upper chest. 
Slowly round your back, one vertebra at a time, and lower your torso toward the floor. 
Your belly should be wrapped around the top end of the pad at the bottom of the movement. 
Reverse the movement to return to the starting position. 
Squeeze your lower back during concentrics. 
Keep the movement slow and controlled to avoid engaging your glutes and hamstrings. 

Pro Tip: Compared to the hip extension, the back extension helps keep your hips static, putting more tension on your lower back. 

GHD Hip and Back Extension
This is arguably the most complex GHD variation, as it combines everything you have learned up to now. You will experience greater glute and lower back engagement in this exercise, whereas your hamstrings will take a back seat. 
Since this exercise has more moving parts than the previous GHD variations, you might need some time to master this exercise. 
How To Do the GHD Hip and Back Extension:

Bring the foot pads close to the main support pads, as your hips should be clear of the pads during this exercise. 
Get on the GHD machine and put your ankles between the foot pads. 
With your arms crossed in front of your chest, assume the Superwoman position. Your hips should be clear off the pads, and your body should be in a straight line and parallel to the floor at the starting position. 
Begin the movement by tucking your chin into your upper chest. 
Slowly roll your shoulders, then your upper back, as you lower your torso toward the floor. Your upper body should be rounded and parallel to the floor at the bottom of the position. 
At this position, arch your back and neutralize your spine. 
Round your back again and reverse the motion by extending your hips to return to the starting position. 
Contract your hips and lower back during concentrics. 

Pro Tip: Since the last two exercises require rounding the spine, you should avoid using additional resistance on these GHD variations. Instead, focus on training the hips and lower back to failure by performing a hip number of reps. 

Muscles Worked During GHD

All the four GHD variations explained above target the posterior chain. However, the primary and secondary working muscles vary for each exercise group. Here are the muscle groups worked with the GHD exercises:
Glutes & Hamstrings 
The glutes and hamstrings are the primary target muscles of the GHD raises. The glutes are the biggest and strongest muscle in your body, and training them can improve your overall functionality and workout performance. The GHD machine is one of the best tools to develop your hamstrings. 
Lower Back
Most exercises want you to avoid lower back engagement; the GHD is not one of them. Since the GHD exercises involve constant hip flexion and extension, you cannot escape lower back engagement, especially while doing a high number of reps. 
Whether you are working above parallel (GHD raise) or in the lower half (hip and back extensions), you will achieve lower leg stimulation. You will experience your calves fire up to a greater degree in longer sets (more than 15 reps).
Given below is an overview of the primary and secondary muscles of the four GHD variations:

Primary Target Muscles
Secondary Muscles

GHD Raise
Glutes and hamstrings
Lower back

GHD Hip Extension
Lower back and hamstrings

GHD Back Extension
Lower back
Glutes and hamstrings

GHD Hip and Back Extension
Glutes and lower back

Benefits of GHD

Adding the GHD machine to your training regimen entails the following benefits:
Builds Strength and Muscle Mass
The glute-hamstring developer can help you build stronger and more muscular glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Adjust your training and volume to meet your objective. 
Develop a Robust Posterior Chain
A strong posterior chain can improve your overall functionality, training, and athletic performance. Performing this exercise regularly can translate to better performance on compound movements that require posterior chain engagement. 
Perfect For Exercisers of all Experience Levels
Since GHD exercises are isolation movements, they are easy to learn. That said, this machine is just as effective for advanced lifters as it is for newbies. Seasoned trainers can add to this exercise’s difficulty by using additional resistance.
Reduces Risk of Hamstring Injury
Research shows that adding eccentric-focused movements and isometric exercises can reduce your risk of injury during explosive movements [1]. People that deal with recurring posterior chain injuries should add this exercise to their exercise regimen after consulting their healthcare provider. 
Common Mistakes While Performing GHD
Avoid committing the following errors to limit the risk of injury and get the best bang for your buck: 
Replacing the GHD Machine with a Hyperextension Bench
Many people think that 45-degree hyperextension machines are the same as GHD machines. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The GHD machine is much more demanding on your hamstrings and glutes than the hyperextension bench. 
Mixing Two GHD Movements
I cannot tell you how often I see people do GHD raises with a GHD hip extension setup. Remember, going all the way up, and all the way down is not always a good idea. You must get well-versed with the GHD variations to reduce your risk of injury. 
Adding Weights Too Soon
Bodyweight versions of the GHD variations explained in this article are good enough for most people to build a strong and muscular posterior chain. You should only use additional resistance after you have drilled the movement. 
Variations of GHD
Use the following GHD variations to add variety to your exercise regime:
Eccentric-Focused Glute-Ham Raise
You can use this technique in any of the four GHD variations mentioned in this article. In this exercise, you take three to five seconds on the eccentrics. Slowing down the negatives increases the time under tension, which leads to greater muscle stimulation [2]. Follow the same-old rep tempo during concentrics and the statics contraction points at the top and bottom.
Sorenson Hold
The Sorenson hold is an isometric GHD variation, meaning you hold the same position for a specific time. Think of the Sorenson hold as a plank for your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. 
How To:

Get in the same position as the GHD hip extension. Your hips should be clear of the pads.
Cross your arms in front of your chest. 
Extend your hips and lower your torso so your body is parallel to the floor. 
Hold this position for as long as possible. Aim for 30-60 seconds. 
Repeat for recommended reps. 

GHD Oblique Crunch
This GHD variation works your obliques and can help you develop shredded obliques and the coveted sex lines. 
How To:

Adjust the foot pads of the GHD machine so that your hips rest on top of the pads. 
Mount the GHD machine. Turn to your side so that your right shoulder is facing the ceiling. The side of your left hip should be on the left pad. 
Secure your left foot between the foot pads and place your right foot on top of the pads.
Your body should be in a straight line and parallel to the floor at the starting position. 
Lower your torso as low toward the floor as possible. 
Return to the starting position. 
Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides. 

Alternatives of GHD
Here are some of the best alternatives to the GHD:
Nordic Curl
You could perform this exercise on a specialized Nordic curl or with a barbell. Since most people don’t have access to a Nordic curl bench, here is how to do this movement with a barbell. 
How To: 

Attach two-quarter plates on each end of a barbell and place them on the floor. 
Kneel on the floor facing away from the bar and anchor your heels under it. 
Your body, from your knees to your head, should be in a straight line at the starting position.
Hold your hands in front of your chest. 
Slowly lower your torso toward the floor by leaning forward. Control the descent by contracting your hamstrings and glutes. 
Break the fall with your hands. 
Use your hands for a lift-off. Contract your glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position. 
Repeat for recommended reps. 

Reverse Hyperextensions
This exercise flips the GHD hip extension on its head. Louie Simmons on Westside Barbell invented reverse hyperextension and a specialized machine for it. However, you can use a GHD machine for this exercise. 
How To:

Stand facing the GHD machine. 
Reach forward and grab the foot platform. Adjust the platform so your hips are hanging off the pads. 
At the starting position, your body should be in a straight line and parallel to the floor. 
Lower your legs toward the floor until they are a few inches from touching it. 
Keeping your legs straight, extend your hips and raise your lower body as high toward the ceiling as possible.
Control the descent. 
Repeat for recommended reps.

Good Morning
Good mornings are an incredibly effective exercise to work your posterior chain. Use a moderate weight on this exercise to limit the risk of injury. 
How To:

Stand upright with a hip-width stance with a barbell across your shoulders. 
Maintaining a slight bend in your knees, slowly lower your torso toward the floor while pushing your hips back. Keep your core braced throughout the exercise. 
Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor at the bottom of the position. 
Return to the starting position. 

Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian deadlift is a compound full-body exercise to build overall strength and muscle mass. However, this exercise primarily targets the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. 
How To:

Stand straight with a shoulder-wide stance while holding a barbell against your thighs using an overhand grip. 
Maintaining a slight bend in your knees, slowly lower the bar toward the floor by bending at your hips and pushing them back. 
The bar should be below your knees at the bottom of the range of motion. 
Pause at the bottom and contract your hamstrings and glutes. 
Explode back to the starting position. 
Rinse and repeat. 

Who should avoid the GHD raises?
Folks dealing with posterior chain or lower body injuries should avoid the GHD raises. That said, you should consult your healthcare provider before starting a new training or nutrition program, especially if you’re suffering from a health issue, are pregnant, or are under 18 years old. 
Can I replace leg curls with GHD raises in my workout?
Leg curls and GHD raises are both isolation exercises that work the hamstrings. However, GHD also targets your glutes. On the other hand, the leg curl machine helps maintain constant tension on your hammies throughout the range of motion. Each machine has its unique benefits, and hence you should include both in your training regimen. 
How often should I do the GHD raise?
Since GHD raises are an isolation exercise, they put incredible demand on your hamstrings. According to research, you must give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover between workouts. It will result in better strength and muscle gains and reduce your risk of injury and overtraining. [3]
Who should do the GHD exercises?
The GHD variations explained in this article are great for CrossFitters, Strongman athletes, Olympic weightlifters, bodybuilders, and even hobbyist exercisers. Building a strong posterior chain help virtually everyone. 
Wrapping Up
The GHD machine is a versatile training equipment that can help build a stronger and more muscular posterior chain. It can also help develop a robust midline, using exercises like the GHD sit-ups and oblique crunches. 
Folks with access to a GHD machine at their gym should add the four GHD exercises explained in this article to their training regimen. Adjust the programming and training frequency to meet your objectives. So, what are you waiting for? Get working on those glutes and hammies. Best of luck!

Jonhagen S, Nemeth G, Eriksson E. Hamstring Injuries in Sprinters: The Role of Concentric and Eccentric Hamstring Muscle Strength and Flexibility. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 1994;22(2):262-266. doi:10.1177/036354659402200218
Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, Little JP, Cochran AJ, Hector AJ, Cashaback JG, Gibala MJ, Potvin JR, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. J Physiol. 2012 Jan 15;590(2):351-62. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200. Epub 2011 Nov 21. PMID: 22106173; PMCID: PMC3285070.
Monteiro ER, Vingren JL, Corrêa Neto VG, Neves EB, Steele J, Novaes JS. Effects of Different Between Test Rest Intervals in Reproducibility of the 10-Repetition Maximum Load Test: A Pilot Study with Recreationally Resistance Trained Men. Int J Exerc Sci. 2019 Aug 1;12(4):932-940. PMID: 31523350; PMCID: PMC6719818.

Best Exercises to Lose Belly Fat After 50 — Get Fit and Fabulous

Best Exercises to Lose Belly Fat After 50 — Get Fit and Fabulous

Once you pass your fifth decade, everything gets harder. Building muscle is a great struggle. Getting stronger takes a more dedicated effort. And maintaining a healthy body weight becomes a massive uphill battle. The reasons are clear; your metabolism is slowing down, your testosterone levels are depleting, and you’re naturally losing muscle and strength. So, what can you do about it?
Once you’re past 50, adopting a more intelligent approach to training becomes essential to conquer the innate obstacles to maintaining a healthy weight. Following the gym crowd and doing the old stand-by exercises to lose belly fat won’t cut it.
This article lists the best exercises to lose belly fat after 50. I’ll also lay out the other aspect of weight loss over 50 — how to eat to lose belly fat.
Importance of Losing Belly Fat Over 50

There are two types of fat in your body, subcutaneous and visceral. The fat that is beneath your skin is referred to as subcutaneous fat. This type of fat may be easily grabbed by hand and gathered in the usual “problem areas,” including the thighs, hips, neck, and arms. It accounts for around 80% to 90% of our total body fat.
The remaining 10 to 20 percent is called visceral fat and is found around the liver, spleen, intestines, kidneys, and other internal organs, as well as beneath the stomach muscles. It sometimes goes by “deep fat” since it covers your internal organs and fills the spaces between your stomach, intestines, liver, and other organs. [1]
Subcutaneous fat differs from belly fat, which is far more hazardous because it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory disorders. Belly fat forces the abdominal muscles outward because it is harder than subcutaneous fat.
These deep abdominal fat cells transfer their free fatty acids directly to the liver rather than releasing them into the bloodstream. Triglycerides and cholesterol are other types of fat that the liver creates in reaction and release into the bloodstream. Free fatty acids are the types of fat that are released from fat cells and carried into the blood, whereas triglycerides are another type of blood-borne fat that the body uses as an energy source. Increased risk of cardiovascular disease is linked to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 
Challenges of Losing Belly Fat Over 50

Once past 50, you will find it increasingly difficult to keep your belly fat down to healthy levels. It’s not that your willpower to resist tempting foods is lower. Here are four physiological reasons you’re more prone to putting on belly fat over 50: 
1. Reduced Metabolism
At around 30, most people’s metabolisms decline by about 1% every two years. Although the exact cause of our aging metabolism is unknown, it most likely involves a decline in muscle mass and a shift in hormone levels. Men produce less testosterone, while women’s estrogen levels decrease after menopause. [2]
2. Less Muscle
Age-related muscle loss, or sarcopenia, kicks in from about the age of 40. Because muscle is more active metabolically than fat, having less of it negatively affects our metabolic rate. As a result, you won’t burn as many calories at rest, making it easier for that spare tire to develop around your belly. [3]
3. Lifestyle
Most people tend to slow down as they age. By the time they reach their 50s, most folks stop playing sports, no longer play with the kids, and spend more time on the couch. That means fewer calories burned throughout the day. 
4. Stress
When we experience chronic stress, our cortisol levels increase dramatically. This can indirectly contribute to higher levels of belly fat. As we get older, our stress levels can increase due to many factors, including work stressors, financial problems, and the concerns of looking after elderly parents.
Cortisol can increase the desire for comfort foods with high caloric content, particularly those high in carbohydrates and fats. These are the very foods that contribute to increases in belly fat.
Cortisol encourages fat storage, particularly visceral fat, which builds up around the abdominal organs. In fact, the hormone can actually redistribute subcutaneous fat to visceral fat.
Cortisol also has a catabolic effect on muscle tissue, causing a breakdown of amino acids. This can contribute to age-related muscle loss. [4]
15 Diet & Nutrition Tips To Lose Belly Fat Loss Over 50
As we’ve learned, excess belly fat is aesthetically unpleasing and dangerous. It puts you at a higher risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and depression. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce your belly fat levels dramatically.
Here are 15 diet and nutrition tips that will complement your exercise-based efforts to reduce the spare tire: 
1. Increase Your Fiber Intake
You can shed belly fat by increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your diet. This is because fiber will assist in lowering your blood sugar levels. You’ll experience stable insulin levels as a result.
Fiber, which is incredibly filling, also serves as the body’s natural cleaner. It enhances digestion and improves waste excretion. A 2011 study found that a 10-gram increase in soluble fiber consumption over a five-year period reduced belly fat accumulation by 3.7%. [5]
The best sources of fibrous carbs are brightly colored vegetables and berries, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, beans, lentils, and other legumes.

2. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Unsurprisingly, overindulging in alcohol can lead to a ‘beer gut.’ In fact, if you are trying to reduce your belly fat, alcohol will be one of your worst enemies. Alcohol contains zero proteins, carbohydrates, or fats. In other words, it has no nutritional benefit whatsoever, and every gram of alcohol adds seven calories to your system.
After you drink alcohol, your body prioritizes metabolizing it. That means your body will first burn alcohol instead of fat, postponing your ability to burn off the spare tire. 
Alcohol puts almost twice as many calories per gram into your body than carbs and protein (seven versus four). And those calories are much easier to consume than the solid foods we eat to get macronutrients into our system. As a result, it is extremely easy to take in hundreds, even thousands, of zero-nutrition calories from alcohol in an evening. 
Alcohol slows down the central nervous system and lowers inhibitions. One of the effects of this is that people eat more when they are drinking. And the foods that are normally consumed on these occasions are those that are high in simple carbs. All of this is a sure-fire recipe for fat gain.
Alcohol hurts food digestion, leading to reduced efficiency in breaking down fats for fuel, impeding the weight loss process.
Alcohol has a negative effect on testosterone production. Testosterone is an important hormone for fat loss, so its alcohol-induced lowered release will directly impact fat-burning ability.
The bottom line here is if you’re serious about getting rid of visceral body fat, you need to cut back on the booze. [6]
3. Consume More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your feelings, behavior, and physique aesthetics will change dramatically if you consume more omega-3 fatty acids, particularly while following a weight loss program.
Here’s what increasing your omega-3 intake will do for you:

Boost your insulin sensitivity
Aid with fat burning
Boost your metabolism
Reduce cortisol production and increase your energy
Assist with muscle growth

The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are eggs, fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds. [7]
4. Eat More Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats have the power to lower insulin and LDL cholesterol levels. Here are five excellent sources of monounsaturated fats:

Avocado Oil
Coconut Oil 

5. Eliminate Processed Grains
Processed grain products include cereal, bagels, pasta, bread, and bagels. The nutritional content of the grains is reduced while the calorie density is increased by milling, refining, and bleaching. That’s not a healthy combination.
Although whole grain types are preferable because they still contain some fiber and nutrients, even these are processed to some extent and may be high in calories.
However, you should only consume only whole grains going forward. That means avoiding products made from white pasta, rice, or flour. [8]
6. Prepare for Snack Time
A vital tactic for effective weight loss is predicting and planning when you’re likely to feel hungry throughout the day. When hunger strikes, having ready-to-eat, homemade snacks can come in handy.
Here are five tasty, straightforward snacks:

Apple crisps  
A nutritious smoothie
Hard-boiled eggs
A can of water-packed tuna

7. Reduce Liquid Calorie Intake
Liquid calories have several significant issues. Refined sugars are frequently used in weight loss smoothies as flavoring. Others use preservatives to enhance flavor and mixability. Those who consume solid meals feel satiated longer than those who use meal-replacement beverages.
In a 2007 study, test subjects were given solid food and a meal replacement shake, and their degree of satiety was monitored over the next four hours. 
The satiety levels were much higher in the solid food group. In fact, the meal replacement group’s body didn’t even recognize that they had eaten from a chemical standpoint. [9]
8. Increase Water Intake
Hydration is crucial to a successful weight-loss strategy. Water can also help increase metabolism. Participants in a study who drank 16 ounces of water daily experienced a 30% rise in their metabolism. [10]
Always keep a water bottle with you. To stay full, regularly sip from it. Drinking water will also assist you in satisfying your thirst so that you don’t confuse it with hunger.

9. Begin Meal Prepping
One of the keys to sticking to your smart eating plan is prepping your meals in advance. This involves keeping a couple of hours aside, usually on the weekend, to prepare your weekly meals. 
This greatly eases your search for nutritious options that adhere to your macronutrient guidelines. Meal planning will also significantly reduce your likelihood of reverting to poor eating patterns.
10. Avoid Trans Fatty Acids
Unsaturated lipids become trans fatty acids when hydrogen is introduced. They have been demonstrated to increase belly fat in addition to being connected to heart disease and insulin resistance. According to one study, eating a lot of trans fats can increase belly fat by 33%. [11]
11. Do a 14-Day Detox
To get rid of toxins and other impurities in your body, try a 14-day detox. The doors of fat loss may effectively be flung open by this. It’s not necessary to starve during a cleanse. It involves giving your body the proper nutrients to remove toxins and restore its natural equilibrium. 
12. Increase Coconut Oil Consumption

Recent years have seen a lot of research focused on the coconut. Many of these studies have focused on how they can aid in weight loss.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that do not circulate in the bloodstream like long-chain fatty acids. Instead, they are sent to the liver, which turns them into energy. As a result, your body turns to coconut oil for energy rather than storing the calories as fat.
According to some studies, switching from olive oil, which contains long-chain fatty acids, to coconut oil, which contains medium-chain fatty acids, results in greater fat reduction. Coconut oil is particularly helpful for decreasing weight around the abdomen, where visceral fat collects. Because it is linked to so many ailments, visceral fat is the most harmful type of fat.
In a recent study, one ounce of coconut oil was added to women’s diets with excessive abdominal fat. Both their waist circumference and their BMI significantly decreased after 12 weeks. This was accomplished without any exercise or other dietary changes. [12]
13. Add Herbs to your Meals
Several plants have been used by indigenous peoples worldwide for centuries to help with weight loss. In recent decades, science has confirmed the effectiveness of some of them. Here are three of the best:


14. Consume More Protein

Protein aids in fat loss in addition to helping you develop muscle. This is because protein has the strongest thermogenic effect of all the macronutrients, is very filling, and reduces hunger. As a result, it requires more energy to digest than fats or carbohydrates.
When paired with weight resistance exercise, protein’s ability to build muscle also aids in belly fat reduction. Maintaining muscle demands five times as many calories as maintaining body fat. Therefore, the more muscular you are, the leaner you will be!
Plan to consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight, with your preferred protein sources being eggs, chicken, fish, legumes, Greek yogurt, and cream cheese. [13]
Related: Try Our Protein Calculator
15. Cut Yourself Some Slack
It is important to be realistic when trying to lose belly fat. When you try to lead a healthy lifestyle, you’ll find yourself moving in the opposite direction from the vast majority of people. The environment you are in will constantly provide you with temptations. It’s ridiculous to expect yourself to never make a mistake. Remember that a poor eating decision won’t halt your progress.
The key takeaway is that you shouldn’t punish yourself if you make a poor nutritional choice or skip an exercise. Your ability to succeed depends on developing long-lasting habits that you can maintain. An occasional slip-up won’t hamper your results.
Best Exercises to Lose Belly Fat Over 50
Losing weight, and keeping it off, is all about consistency. Sticking to a balanced training and diet plan to create a calorie deficit will help you shed unwanted pounds effectively and sustain your weight loss progress over time.
The key to success is incorporating a sustainable exercise schedule into your lifestyle. Let’s find out how it should (and shouldn’t) be done.
How Not to Lose Belly Fat
Let’s get it straight from the outset, you will not lose belly fat by doing hundreds of sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, or other exercises for your abdominal muscles. The reason is simple; you cannot spot-reduce belly fat. In other words, doing a thousand crunches will not burn fat off your belly fat.
Fat comes off the body evenly. So, when you do a calorie-burning exercise, you cannot dictate what part of the body it will come from. Depending on your genetics, the fat might come off the belly and the sides of the waist (the dreaded love handles) last. When you build muscle, you will also increase your metabolism to burn more calories.
Exercise Type: Fast or Slow?

There is a lot of confusion about what type of cardiovascular exercise is best for weight loss. It boils down to two options — long and slow cardio or fast and short cardio. Both sides have their passionate advocates, yet the current scientific consensus is squarely on the side of fast, short, high-intensity sessions. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves quick bursts of high-intensity training followed by short rest periods.
The best HIIT exercises will allow you to use maximum exertion to burn maximum calories. Running is a great choice, allowing for hard-out sprints (imagine a Doberman is chasing you) followed by a slow jog. Incorporating HIIT training into your exercise schedule thrice weekly will help you burn calories while exercising and turn your body into a fat-burning furnace by boosting your metabolism for the next 24 hours. [14]
The best exercises to reduce belly fat for men are those that burn the most calories. Combine this with a healthy diet, and your belly girth will decrease. Here are the six effective belly fat exercises to reduce fat from your midline: 
Exercising on a treadmill is the most popular form of cardio exercise in gyms worldwide. However, most people do not do it with enough intensity. Walking at 2 miles an hour while reading a book will not cut it. A far better way to go is HIIT. This involves interpreting short sprints with even shorter rest periods for multiple bouts. 
Tabata is another effective form of HIIT workout for fat loss. It involves a slow two-minute warmup and a 20 seconds max speed sprint. You then throw your legs out to the side of the running belt for 10 seconds. That is one round. The workout involves performing eight rounds. It is extremely hard work but burns a ton of calories. Then, thanks to what is known as the enhanced post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect, you will have an elevated metabolism for the next 24-36 hours!

Rowing Machine
The rowing machine is another excellent exercise that will help you reduce fat around your belly. This exercise involves your whole body and gets your heart and lungs in good shape. While rowing, stay upright and move through a full range of motion, pushing through the legs. [15]
Here’s an awesome fat-burning rowing machine workout that combines the rowing machine with body weight and free-weight exercises:

Row at a steady pace for 10 minutes.
Jump off the machine and do 10 dumbbell overhead presses.
Do 10 standing torso twists or cross-body punches.
Row at a steady pace for 10 minutes.
Jump off the machine and do 10 lateral shuffle walks.
Now do 15 kettlebell swings.
Row at a steady pace for 10 minutes.
Jump off the machine and do a 30-second plank.
Now do 10 step-ups.

Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks is a classic old-school cardio exercise you can do anywhere, anytime, to burn off those excess calories. To perform them, start with your legs together and your arms by your sides. Take a small jump straight up and, as you do, move your legs apart. At the same time, swing your arms up above your head into a clap. Take another small jump and return your arms and legs to their starting position. 
You can use jumping jacks to burn off calories as a stand-alone exercise or add them to your workout routine. For example, if you are doing a weight training program, do 20 jumping jacks between each set.

The burpee is another old-school bodyweight exercise that must be a part of your training regimen. This is, in fact, one of the highest calorie-burning exercises that you can do without any equipment. 
Here is how to perform the burpee:

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides.
Drop down into a push-up position, kicking your feet back behind you.
Perform a push-up.
Jump your feet back toward your hands.
Spring up into the air to return to the start position.

Burpees can be performed in HIIT fashion, making them an even more effective fat burner. Here is an example of how you can do this:

Do burpees for 20 seconds.
Rest for 10 seconds.
Do another 20-second round of burpees.
Rest for 10 seconds.
Repeat until you have completed eight rounds, aiming to maintain the same number of burpees in each round.

Step-ups are another effective calorie burner that you can do without any equipment. Besides helping you reduce belly fat, this exercise will work on your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Here is how to perform step-ups:

Stand out 12 inches away from a step or bench with a hip-width stance. 
Place your right foot on an elevated surface while the left is grounded. 
Drive your right foot into the surface and extend your leg. Both your feet should be together at the top. 
Reverse the movement to lower yourself to the floor. 
Switch between legs or complete recommended reps on the same side between changing sides. 
Always keep your body straight and tall. Avoid the temptation to lean forward from your hips. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands to burn even more calories.

Shuttle Sprints
This is a challenging cardio calorie burner that will also improve your agility. 

Set up two markers on the floor 3 yards apart. 
Begin with your hand on one of the markers in a sprint stance. 
Sprint to the other marker and touch it with your hand. 
Immediately sprint back to the other marker.

Lift Weight to Lose Weight
The second tier of your weight loss exercise regimen needs to involve some form of resistance training. There is conclusive evidence that exercise involving muscle contraction burns more calories and assists in fat loss. 
Incorporating weight training into your exercise schedule will not only boost your fat-burning efforts but also ensure that you are not losing vital muscle tissue. In the process, it will help build your dream physique. [16]
Lifting weights burns a considerable amount of calories. That is especially the case when you perform what are known as compound moves, such as deadlifts, that involve several muscle groups working together. But there’s an extra benefit. After you finish your workout, your body will have a greater need for oxygen to meet the demands that your workout has placed on your muscles. This brings on the EPOC effect. 
EPOC stands for excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption, and it leads to a higher metabolic rate for up to 24 hours. That means you burn more calories for up to a day after your workout.
When you work a muscle with weights, you place stress on that muscle. This can cause micro-tears in the muscle fiber. When you recover after the workout, your body uses energy to rebuild the muscle. That, too, is burning calories from stored body fat. 
Weight training is the best way to add muscle mass. Muscle is much more dense than fat. It takes up more space and burns five times more calories than fat. So, every ounce of muscle you add makes you more of a fat-burning machine. That’s why resistance training should be integral to your belly fat loss program. I recommend doing resistance exercises at least twice weekly. 
Rather than doing multiple sets of the same exercise before moving to the next one, you will do all five exercises consecutively, with a minimum amount of rest between exercises. Don’t rest at all between exercises one and two. Then give yourself 30 seconds to regain your breath before doing exercises three and four. Rest another 30 seconds before doing exercise number five.
Go through this circuit thrice, resting for two minutes between each circuit.
For each consecutive workout, your goal will be to add more resistance to the bar. However, only do so when you are confident that you have optimized your form on that movement.
Here is your six exercises resistance training circuit for weight loss:
Dumbbell Bench Press 
Prime Mover: Pectorals

Sit on the end of a bench with dumbbells resting on your thighs. Roll back onto the bench, bringing the dumbbells up to arm’s length above your chest. 
Breathe in as you expand your chest and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest. Be sure to go down to a point at least an inch lower than your nipples. 
In the bottom position, your scapulae should be squeezing together. Now breathe out as you power back to the start position.

Farmer’s Walk 
Prime Mover: Quadriceps

Select a pair of light dumbbells of an appropriate weight.
Stand between the dumbbells and bend down to grip the handles. Lift the dumbbells by driving up through your heels while keeping your back straight and your head up.
Take an exaggerated step that requires you to lunge. The longer the step, the more emphasis is placed on your glutes, while shorter steps maximize the effect on the thighs.
Pushing off with your forward leg, continue lunge walking until you have covered the set distance.

Prime Mover: Upper Back

Stand in front of the bar so that your midfoot is under the bar and your feet are shoulder-width apart.
Grab the bar by bending the knees but maintaining a neutral spine. Hold the bar with a shoulder-wide mixed grip.
Push through your heels as you pull with your hips, not your arms. Your hips should be higher than the knees at the start of the pull.
Bring the hips, shoulders, and chest up together as the bar comes off the floor. You want the bar to travel directly up and close to your body.
As the bar reaches the mid-thigh level, squeeze your glutes tightly to prevent pulling with your lower back. At the same time, pull your shoulders back. 
Continue pulling until you are standing erect. 

Kettlebell High Pull
Prime Movers: Quadriceps / Glutes

Holding a light kettlebell, and with your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down with a neutral spine and your hips slightly higher than your knees. Your shoulders should be ahead of the kettlebell.
Simultaneously pull down through your feet while driving your hips up and forward. Pull the kettlebell up toward your chin. This movement should bring you up on your toes.
Immediately squat back down into the start position.

Incline Dumbbell Curl
Prime Mover: Biceps

Set an incline bar at a 45-degree angle. Grasp two dumbbells with an underhand grip.
Curl the weights towards your shoulders.
Stop and squeeze your biceps when the dumbbells are 6 to 8 inches in front of your shoulders. Hold the contraction, squeezing tight, for 2 seconds.
Slowly return the dumbbells to the starting position. Be sure to resist gravity during eccentrics.

Lying Triceps Extension 
Prime Mover: Triceps

Lie face up on a bench with a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
Extend your arms directly above your upper chest.
Keeping the elbows in, bend at the elbows as you bring the dumbbells down at the sides of your forehead.

Contract the triceps to return to the start position.

Putting It Together
Now that we’ve identified the types of exercise that best fit your weight loss exercise schedule, let’s consider the frequency of performing those movements. You must exercise five days a week. You will perform your HIIT exercises on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. As already explained, HIIT involves short-duration workouts. In fact, you’ll only have to allocate six minutes to your workouts on those days.
Here’s how it will look:

Choose an exercise you are comfortable performing with maximum intensity (sprinting, cycling, and skipping are good options).
Perform a medium-intensity warmup for two minutes.
Perform 20 seconds of maximum intensity.
Recover for 10 seconds.
Repeat this sequence until 4 minutes are up.

On Tuesday and Thursday, you will perform your resistance training workout. On each exercise, you will perform 12 repetitions. Then move directly to your next exercise until you have completed the six-exercise circuit. Work up to doing four rounds of this circuit workout.
Supplement Strategies to Lose Belly Fat Over 50
The are four mechanisms used by fat loss supplements to help users strip off body fat:

Appetite suppression
Increased metabolism
Increased fat oxidation
Boosted energy levels

Here are five supplements you can consider for your weight loss program:
Caffeine has been a foundational ingredient in fat burners from the very start. Its main appeal is its ability to speed up metabolism. Each milligram of caffeine you add to your body has been shown to increase your metabolic rate by about one calorie to a maximum of about a hundred calories daily. Caffeine also reduces perceived exertion during exercise. That means you can work harder for longer and burn more calories. 
Caffeine also can focus your energy consumption during exercise on your fat reserves rather than stored glucose. The evidence that caffeine suppresses the appetite is not very strong. 
Too much caffeine, however, is not a good thing. The maximum daily dosage should be limited to around 300 mg (250 mg for women).
Coffee Caffeine
L-Carnitine is added to fat burners to increase fat oxidation. That’s because it has been shown to play a key role in transporting long-chain fatty acids into the cell’s mitochondria, where energy is produced. The body naturally produces carnitine, but it quickly depletes when exercising. Adding it to your fat burner will help to replenish your carnitine levels and speed up fat oxidation.
Look for a supplement that provides 1-3 grams of carnitine daily.
Green Tea
Green tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant. It is rich in polyphenols, including catechins and flavonoids. Catechins have been shown to be especially beneficial for fat loss, boosting the metabolism. The star among the catechins when it comes to fat burning is a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG will boost your metabolism and work with L-carnitine to promote fat oxidation.
Green tea also gives you an energy boost. The ideal daily dosage of green tea for fat loss is 100 mg. Some products will individually list EGCG on the ingredient label. In that case, look for 500 mg.
Green Tea
Capsicum contains a polyphenol known as capsaicinoids. This compound provides a hot and spicy flavor to hundreds of foods. It has been shown to have some pretty impressive fat-burning benefits. For one thing, capsaicinoids increase the core temperature of the body. Your body will then work overtime to bring the temperature back to a state of homeostasis. This takes up energy, which burns calories. 
Capsaicinoids also break down adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main form of energy in the body. It has also been shown to boost the body’s lipase production, which breaks down fat for energy.
The roots of the konjac plant are used to make the dietary fiber glucomannan. It has an incredible capacity for water absorption, which transforms it into a thick, gel-like substance. It multiplies to many times its original size when ingested because it combines with bodily fluids. Your stomach has to make place for this, which causes you to feel full. In this manner, glucomannan aids in appetite suppression so that you consume fewer calories throughout the day and finish with a net calorie deficit.
In addition to making more room in your stomach, glucomannan also delays stomach emptying and lessens the absorption of fats and proteins. The recommended dosage is one gram taken three times daily.
This article provided a complete blueprint for losing belly fat over 50. You’ve been given the ideal balance of cardiovascular exercises to burn calories and resistance training to increase muscle mass and stoke your fat-burning furnace. At the same time, you’ve been given a wealth of nutrition and dietary tips to get you beyond the barriers to belly fat loss.
It’s now over to you to put all this belly fat-burning knowledge into action. Don’t let procrastination hold you back. Instead, resolve to start your workout program tomorrow, starting with the three weekly HIIT workouts and then adding in two circuit weight training sessions. Then, work through the 14 nutritional tips, incorporating one new tip daily into your routine over the next two weeks. Stay positive, remain consistent, and you will steadily lose that stubborn belly fat. 

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Triangle Pose Trikonasana – Benefits, Common Mistakes and Variations

Triangle Pose Trikonasana – Benefits, Common Mistakes and Variations

While the names of some yoga poses are not as straightforward, triangle pose trikonasana is quite obvious. In the final stage of this closed hip posture, you can see how the body forms three triangular shapes. What you see is a product of the sanskrit meaning of “trikona”, meaning triangle. 
Intended to stretch, strengthen, energize, and balance the body, triangle pose is a must-have posture, and one of the first that you’ll be introduced to in your yoga journey. Also being a lateral posture, you’re going to learn and experience movement in a plane of motion that most people neglect. 
Triangle pose is both challenging, but a good learning posture, as you need to focus on keeping the hips still as the torso flexes to the side. If you’re ready to practice the triangle, grab and yoga block, and use this guide to master the execution of this staple posture. 
Muscles Worked During Triangle Pose Trikonasana
Triangle pose is a total body exercise that starts from the feet and moves all the way up to the finger tips, involving so many muscles groups. Here are short descriptions of the muscles you can expect to improve during this stance.
Triangle Pose
Thighs and glutes
From stretching and activating the three rear-facing hamstring heads on the thighs to isometrically engaging the quads and recruiting the butt muscles, the triangle pose, is a lengthening and strengthening pose.
The muscles in your middle body like the abdominals (sexy six pack muscles), the deeper abdominals, and obliques allow the bending, torso control, and twisting or rotational movement. Then you have the muscles that accompany the spine which play a big role in movement of your trunk in various directions. 
You may look at the rotation involved in a triangle pose and imagine it so be easy, and it is when you don’t have to combine it with the specific position of the rest of your body. So you definitely need trunk mobility to do this exercise. 
Requiring shoulder mobility to both support your weight with the bottom arm, and hold the top arm extended toward the sky, your deltoids, or shoulders benefit too. 
How To Do The Triangle Pose 
In the video demonstration below you’ll how to perform triangle pose, but also what not to do. We’ve also included a common mistakes section below for more detailed descriptions of bad habits to avoid in this pose. 

Come into a wide stance, with your right foot pointing forward to the top of the mat, and the back foot turned inward to the left at a roughly 45-degree angle as shown in the video. 
Keeping your legs straight, reach your right arm down and place your hand on the floor just outside the ankle. If you cannot, use a yoga block to rest your hand on. 
Now rotate your chest to the left and extend your left arm straight up toward the sky. If done correctly, the both arms and wrists should form a straight line. Then just focus on enhancing the trunk rotation as you lift the chest. Actively engage the inner thighs by pulling them up and inward toward each other.
Come out of the pose by shifting back onto the rear foot, and lift up, changing the position of the arms, and transitioning to the same pose in the opposite direction. 

Pro tip: A yoga block is a handy and very useful yoga training tool, especially during standing bend variations.  
Watch the short video tutorial below to see the triangle pose. 

Tip: Adjust your feet according to comfort, however, still keep the feet in opposite direction to keep the hips open. 
Tips and more detailed instructions 
Triangle pose may seem as though there’s not much too it. But there are many little intricacies or steps involved in the technique. If you need more detailed tips, tricks and instruction, check out the following written steps, and a short 3-minute video example below!

Start in a wide stance with the feet forward, and place your hands on your hips.
Squeeze your leg muscles, tense the core, and imagine pulling the spine straight up, not leaning back or forward. 
Lift and externally rotate the right foot 90 degrees from the back foot without shifting your hips to the side.
Slide the hands up tp the ribs and inhale, feeling the midsection expand. Then exhale, focusing on moving the breath and torso upward. 
Lean over sideways to the right foot, using your hands to help guide you in proper alignment. As you come down, it will likely feel more challenging to bring your hand to the floor. In this case, set up a yoga block to decrease the distance, and place your hand on it. 
Push down into the block, with the other hand resting on your ribcage, arch your spine up in a rainbow shape, and keep your head and neck relaxed. 
Move the hand from the ribcage and place the palm flat against the chest. 
Rotate the head, neck, and collarbone up and draw your gaze in the same direction. 
Then bring the hand from the chest into fully extended toward the ceiling. 
To come out bring the arm to the hip, look down at the floor, bend the front knee slightly and push down as you stand up. 
Hold your arms out like a bird, make your feet parallel, overlap one hand on the other, bend your knees, and either step or lightly hop the feet together. 
Don’t forget to repeat for the opposite side. 

This Exercise 

Target muscle groups: Legs, glutes, hips, core, shoulders
Type: Yoga
Equipment: Mat, block
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate 

Benefits of Triangle Pose
Incorporating various aspects of movement, the reward of these great poses is always more than the time and effort required. Here are the benefits of the triangle pose. 
Train your functional abilities 
Regardless of your age, it’s always good to maintain your physical abilities (e.g., balance, coordination, body awareness, multi-plane movement) but especially as you get older when these skills begin to decline, increasing risk of injuries, and decreasing quality of life. The body needs regular maintenance like anything that you expect to be there when you need it to. 
We like that triangle pose forces you to consciously be aware of your body’s alignment, while having to focus on engaging your lower and upper body. 
Stretching has numerous benefits
In grade school your gym class instructors probably didn’t explain the full benefits of stretching. However, it goes beyond just increasing flexibility. 
In fact, it’s so beneficial, that people who stretch often experience immediate stress relief, due to undoing tension from tight muscles caused by under or overuse, injuries, or even mental stress, which makes us tense up without realizing it. This, in turn, could mean better sleep as you’ll feel more relaxed, as well as due to increased blood flow and circulation.
And, of course, if you want to perform your best in sports, training, etc, and avoid injuries during your favorite activities, then you need to stretch so your joints can move properly and your muscles can contract and lengthen to give you optimal strength, and ability. 
Can relax your mind
Putting your electronics away and consciously focusing your efforts on doing something good for your body is a must in this day and age. With all the pressures, stresses, and artificial exposure, we really need to be thinking more about our health. 
Getting in these beneficial poses that get us up off our butts (also wakes up our sleepy butt muscles) keeps our engines (body and mind) active and our juices flowing to support mental productivity, and physical longevity. 
Common Mistakes During Triangle Pose
Here are the things to avoid in the triangle pose technique. 

Your feet should be the same as half moon, and not like warrior, with the lead foot pointing to the top end of the mat, while the rear toes should face the left if you’re facing left, or the right, if your body is turned toward the right side of the mat. 
The reason being is triangle pose is an open hip posture, and turning the feet inward closes the hip, like you’d do for warrior pose. 
“Hip bumping”
The common hip bump cue doesn’t seem allow for the most efficiency when performing triangle pose. It places a lot of pressure on the hamstrings, and pinches the hips. Instead, follow the second video instructional provided under the “How to do triangle pose” section. 
Not forming triangles 
Too often will people attempt a pose with no technique, slopping over, placing their hands anywhere, bending the elbows, collapsing, and yeah, you get the point. Well, you won’t get the benefits this way, and you could actually do more harm by twisting the body in dangerous angles, and putting a lot of pressure on certain areas. Instead, keep everything strong, and follow the video demonstration above. 
Variations Of Triangle Pose 
The following poses are the most common triangle pose variations that vary in difficulty.
Extended triangle pose (utthita trikonasana)
The extended triangle pose keeps you here for a longer duration to really stretch and loosen the muscle fibers so essential in many yoga postures. 

With your feet together, turn the right foot to the right side of the mat, and rotate the left foot only slightly to the right. 
Inhale, then breath out, and bend toward the right foot from the hips and grab your right big toe with your right hand. Reach the left arm up vertical. Slowly gaze up at the left hand, and stay there as you take 4-6 slow and deep breaths. 
Inhale, press the back heel into the floor, and come back into a standing position. 
Now repeat to the left side, changing foot position to the opposite of the right side. 

Bound triangle pose (baddha trikonasana)
You’ll surely get wrapped up in this pose, putting your flexibility to the test. It’s harder than the extended triangle stance, and a good way to challenge yourself. You should feel a strong link and connection, as one arm ties into the other, creating a solid lock.

Stand with your about shoulder width and half distance apart.
Turn the right foot so the toes point to the top of the mat, and keep the back foot at a 45-degree angle toward your left side. 
Extend the arms out sideways like a bird, then breath in, exhale, and bend down laterally at the hips. Bring the right fingers to the inner middle part of the right foot. Keep the left arm straight up toward the ceiling. 
Now move the left arm behind your back and place your left hand on the top of your right thigh. Lift the chest up toward the ceiling, and keep your gaze upward. 
Inhale, then as you exhale, move deeper into the pose, and bring the right arm underneath and behind the right leg.
Clasp your right and left fingers together, turn the chest up, and gaze over the left shoulder.

Revolved triangle pose (parivrtta trikonasana)
A big benefit of these rotational poses is that they really open up the body to help improve mobility, flexibility, and circulation to areas that may not normally benefit from deep stretches. 

Assume a similar stance to trikonasana poses with the right lead foot pointed to the back of the mat, and the back foot facing left, and slightly inward at a 45-degree angle. 
Reach the left arm up to the sky, then square the hips toward the right foot. 
Stretch your left arm forward while turning toward the right foot, and bring the left hand down on the floor to the right side of your right foot. Tip: Use a yoga block if you cannot reach all the way down to the floor. 
Now shift your weight onto the back foot, and drop the left side of the hip down as you reach the right arm to the sky, and pull the shoulders back. Draw your gaze up to the right thumb. Tip: Use the left hand on the floor to help pull the left shoulder underneath for more rotation. 
Stay for five deep breaths.
To come out, rotate your chest toward the floor.
Now from here, lift the left arm up while bringing the right arm down in a sort of windmill motion. Try to transition into an opposite side stance by changing the direction of your feet. 
Then perform the same steps but now for the opposite side. 
To leave the pose, inhale, come up with the arms held straight out to your sides, then exhale, and finish by turning to the top of the mat and bring the feet together. 

Follow the video tutorial below to see this pose in action!

Half Moon Pose
Now that you’re cool with the triangle pose, we think you should give the half moon a try! Also called chandrasana, this posture adds more glute medius, and throws in the element of balance, as you have to lift the back leg. 

Come into a front forward leaning lunge with the right foot in front, pointing straight forward, and back foot turned outward to the left.
Reach the left arm behind you and grab the back of the left leg/hip. 
Reach the right arm to the floor and lean onto your finger tips, with the hand directly under the shoulder.
Rise up onto the front leg, and lift the rear leg up parallel to the floor. The lifted foot should be pointed to the left with the feet flexed by pulling the toes up toward the shin. 
Root down into the floor with the standing leg by pressing with the four corners of your feet, and extend the bottom leg. 
While looking down at the floor, extend the top arm vertical with the fingers pointing straight up toward the sky. 
Now you can adjust your gaze to the side or look up at the top hand to challenge your balance further. 
You’ll then perform the same technique but on the opposite leg. 

Is triangle pose safe? The triangle pose is safe for people who actively practice yoga, and are free from major or bothersome bodily injuries or limitations. We advise against practicing trikonasana if you have back or hips issues especially.

Wrapping Up
This yoga training guide should arm you with all the tips and tricks for performing an efficient triangle pose. The key to a good trikonasana technique is getting that lateral flexion without bumping the hips out to get down. Rather, utilize a yoga block, and do it the right way, developing patience as you learn proper movement mechanics and body posture to achieve a variety of poses. 

Lat Pulldown Guide: Muscles Worked, How-To, Benefits, and Different Grips  

Lat Pulldown Guide: Muscles Worked, How-To, Benefits, and Different Grips  

If you want to build a stronger, more muscular upper back, lat pulldowns will help. Sure, pull-ups and chin-ups are more hardcore and “functional,” but lat pulldowns make it easier to target your muscles with laser-like precision. Small changes to your torso angle or hand width will affect the target muscles differently.
And speaking of your hands, should you do lat pulldowns with a wide, medium, narrow, parallel, overhand, or underhand grip? With so many options, it can be hard to know what’s best.
In this article, we explain how to do lat pulldowns correctly and how the different grips affect your muscles.
Lat Pulldowns – Muscles Worked
Contrary to popular opinion, the “lat” in lat pulldowns doesn’t refer to your latissimus dorsi muscle. Instead, it’s short for lateral, which is the plane of movement that your arms move in when you perform this exercise.

However, despite this naming confusion, lat pulldowns do indeed work your lats. That said, they aren’t working alone, and several other muscles are also involved:
Latissimus dorsi
Known as the lats for short, these muscles are located on the side of your upper back. Connecting your arms to your trunk, the lats are responsible for the adduction and extension of your shoulder joints. They also play a role in medial rotation. When well-developed, the lats look like muscular wings and are responsible for your upper back width.
The lats are the agonist or prime mover during lat pulldowns. However, using different grips and hand widths will allow you to emphasize different regions of this muscle.
The trapezius is the large diamond-shaped muscle that covers much of your mid-upper back. Known as the traps for short, there are three sets of fibers that make up this muscle – upper, middle, and lower. The middle and upper fibers are most active during lat pulldowns, as they work to pull your shoulders together and down. The upper traps are not very active during lat pulldowns.
Located between your scapulae or shoulder blades, the rhomboids work with the mid-traps to pull your shoulders back and together. There are two pairs of rhomboid muscles – major and minor – and both are working during lat pulldowns.
The deltoids or delts are your main shoulder muscles. Like the traps, there are three sets of deltoid fibers, often referred to as heads – anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear). All three delt heads work together, but the posterior head is the most active during lat pulldowns.
Rotator cuff
The rotator cuff is a group of four small muscles that control and stabilize your shoulder joint. These muscles are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. While you won’t be able to see or feel these muscles during lat pulldowns, you can be sure they’re actively engaged.
Biceps brachii
The biceps brachii, more commonly just called the biceps, is your primary elbow flexor and also supinates your forearm, i.e., turns your palm up. Located on the front of your upper arms, your biceps play a critical role in lat pulldowns. Using a supinated or palms-up grip puts your biceps in a stronger position, so you may find that grip allows you to use more weight.
The brachialis is like a mini-biceps, helping to flex your elbows. However, unlike the biceps brachii, this muscle plays no part in the supination of your forearm. As such, it’s equally involved regardless of what grip you use.
Brachioradialis is one of your main forearm/wrist flexors and plays a big part in your grip strength. If your hands start to fail before your lats, this muscle is a likely culprit. You can work around a weak grip by using lifting straps. However, it’s also a good idea to work on your grip strength so it is less of a limiting factor in your workouts.
Core is the collective name for the muscles that make up your midsection. During lat pulldowns, you’ll need to use these muscles to stop the weight pulling your spine into hyperextension. The core muscles include the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae. However, the rectus abdominis is the most active.
How to Do Lat Pulldowns
There are several ways to do lat pulldowns, as outlined later in this article. However, the medium-width overhand grip is arguably the most common variation and the one most lifters should master before moving on to other options.
In addition, all types of lat pulldown share many of the same characteristics, so it makes sense to master this version first.
So, get more from lat pulldowns while keeping your risk of injury to a minimum by following these guidelines.  

Attach a long bar to your lat pulldown machine.
Adjust the knee pad so that, when your feet are flat on the floor, it holds your legs in place.
Stand up and hold the bar with a pronated/overhand, slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
Pull your shoulders down and back and sit down. Make sure your legs are held securely in place.
Lift your chest and arch your lower back slightly.
Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and pull the bar down to your upper chest. Do not flex your wrists.
Contract your lats as hard as possible at the mid-point of each rep.
Smoothly extend your arms and continue for the desired number of reps.

Pro Tips:
Make lat pulldowns even more effective with these handy performance tips, many of which can be applied to other lat pulldown variations:

Do not lean back or sway to pull the bar down. This takes tension away from the target muscles.
Squeeze and don’t jerk the weight down to minimize momentum and keep your muscles under tension for longer.
Pause at the midpoint of each rep to maximize lats activation and improve your mind-muscle connection.
Use a full range of motion to maximize muscle engagement.
Avoid using too much weight. Ego-lifting will make lat pulldowns less effective. Make sure you can feel the lats doing most of the work and not your biceps.
Pull to the front and not the back. Behind-the-neck lat pulldowns are harder on your shoulders and reduce lat engagement, making the exercise less effective but more risky.
Use a false or thumbless grip which tends to reduce biceps activation and lets you focus more on your lats.
Use lifting chalk to dry your hands, prevent slippage, and reinforce your grip.
Use lifting straps of your hands fail before your lats. However, you should also work on developing a stronger grip.

Lat Pulldown Benefits and Drawbacks
Not sure if lat pulldowns deserve a place in your workouts? Consider these benefits and then decide!
Very adjustable and accessible
Pull-ups and chin-ups are great, but you need to be strong enough to lift your body weight using just your arm and back muscles. This feat may be beyond the ability of many exercisers, either because they’re weak or heavy.
You can adjust the weight with lat pulldowns, so they are accessible to all levels of strength and experience, irrespective of body weight.
Very safe
Performed with good technique and an appropriate load, there is very little to go wrong with lat pulldowns, and accidents and injuries are rare. They’re very shoulder-friendly, and most people can find a grip that is both comfortable and effective.
Perfect for intensity-boosting drop sets
Most lat pulldown machines have selectorized weight stacks, so you can change the load quickly and easily. This makes them ideal for drop sets. Rep out to failure, reduce (or drop) the weight by 10-15%, and then rep out again. Do 2-4 drops to fully exhaust your muscles and stimulate maximal hypertrophy.
Widely available
Most gyms have at least one lat pulldown machine. As such, this is a very accessible exercise, and most gymgoers should be able to include it in their back workouts.
Plenty of variations to choose from
As you will see in the next section, there are numerous ways to perform lat pulldowns, each with a slightly different effect. Lat pulldowns need never be repetitive or boring.
While lat pulldowns are a mostly beneficial exercise, there are also a few drawbacks to consider:
Limited overload
The amount of weight available for lat pulldowns varies from machine to machine. If you are very strong, you may find that you can max out on the lat pulldown at your gym. When this happens, you should seek out a plate-loading lat pulldown machine or graduate to weighted pull-ups.
Using very heavy weights can be difficult
Getting into the correct lat pulldown starting position with a weight greater than your body weight can be a real challenge. You may find yourself dangling from the bar and unable to get your legs under the knee pads.
If this happens to you, you can ask a training partner to help you or may need to switch to pull-ups, where getting into the right starting position is considerably easier.
Equipment requirements
While most gyms have at least one lat pulldown machine, you probably won’t have space for one in your home gym. As such, most home exercisers cannot do lat pulldowns. However, you can replicate this exercise with resistance bands, or you can do pull-ups and chin-ups instead, using a resistance band for assistance if necessary.
10 Lat Pulldown Variations and Alternatives
Basic overhand medium-grip lat pulldowns are an excellent exercise, but if that’s all you ever do, you’ll soon get bored and hit a plateau. Changing your grip will affect the target muscles slightly differently and help you avoid training ruts.
Use these variations to customize your back workout and target the areas you want to develop. However, remember that the lats will always be the engine that drives your lat pulldowns, and any changes you make will only have a very small effect.
1. Overhand wide-grip lat pulldowns
Overhand wide-grip lat pulldowns are very popular with bodybuilders. They use this exercise to increase upper lat width, creating that highly prized V-shaped torso. On the downside, a wide grip is less efficient, so you won’t be able to lift as much weight. This means wide-grip lat pulldowns are good for muscle hypertrophy but less so for building strength.

Attach a long bar to your lat pulldown machine.
Adjust the knee pad so that, when your feet are flat on the floor, it holds your legs in place.
Stand up and hold the bar with a pronated/overhand, wider than shoulder-width grip. Your arms should form a broad V-shape.
Pull your shoulders down and back and sit down. Make sure your legs are held securely in place.
Lift your chest and arch your lower back slightly.
Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and pull the bar down to your upper chest. Keep your wrists straight.
Smoothly extend your arms and continue for the desired number of reps.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi (upper), trapezius, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.

Fill out your upper lats to make your back wider.
More challenging than most other lat pulldown variations.
Less weight is needed for an effective workout.


Drive your elbows down, back, and in to maximize lat and mid-back engagement.
Keep your wrists straight.
Lift your chest up toward the bar.

2. Overhand close-grip lat pulldowns
You won’t see many people doing overhand close grip lat pulldowns because they’re hard and feel a little awkward. However, they involve a large range of motion, making them useful for developing lat flexibility. They hit your forearms hard and emphasize the lower fibers of your lats.

Attach a bar to your lat pulldown machine.
Adjust the knee pad so that, when your feet are flat on the floor, it holds your legs in place.
Stand up and hold the bar with a pronated/overhand, slightly less shoulder-width grip.
Pull your shoulders down and back and sit down. Make sure your legs are held securely in place.
Lift your chest and arch your lower back slightly.
Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and pull the bar down to your upper chest. Tuck your elbows into your sides.
Contract your lats as hard as possible at the mid-point of each rep.
Smoothly extend your arms and continue for the desired number of reps.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi (lower), trapezius, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.

An effective way to target the lower lats.
A challenging forearm workout.
Provides your lats with a deep, beneficial stretch.


Keep your upper arms close to your sides as you pull down.
Drive your elbows back to maximize lat engagement.
Do not lean back, as doing so makes this exercise easier.

3. Neutral close-grip lat pulldowns
This popular exercise works in much the same way as #2 but is considerably easier on your wrists and more comfortable. The neutral or parallel close grip is also very strong, and most lifters can use more weight for this variation. Like overhand close-grip lat pulldowns, this exercise emphasizes your lower lats and also hits your mid-back.

Attach a neutral grip bar to your lat pulldown machine.
Adjust the knee pad so that, when your feet are flat on the floor, it holds your legs in place.
Stand up and hold the bar with your palms facing inward.
Pull your shoulders down and back and sit down. Make sure your legs are held securely in place.
Lift your chest and arch your lower back slightly.
Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and pull the bar down to your upper chest. Tuck your elbows into your sides.
Contract your lats as hard as possible at the mid-point of each rep.
Smoothly extend your arms and continue for the desired number of reps.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi (lower), trapezius, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.

A comfortable, joint-friendly grip.
Hits both the mid back and lower lats.
Develop back width and thickness simultaneously.


Lean back slightly to increase mid-back engagement.
Use a little more weight than for conventional lat pulldowns.
Use lifting straps to reinforce your grip if necessary.

4. Reverse grip lat pulldowns
Using a reverse or supinated grip puts your biceps in their strongest position, so you should be able to use more weight or crank out more reps before hitting failure. On the downside, using a reverse grip slightly decreases lat engagement, but using more weight or doing more reps should cancel out this deficit.

Attach a straight bar to your lat pulldown machine.
Adjust the knee pad so that, when your feet are flat on the floor, it holds your legs in place.
Stand up and hold the bar with a slightly less than shoulder-width underhand grip.
Pull your shoulders down and back and sit down. Make sure your legs are held securely in place.
Lift your chest and arch your lower back slightly.
Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and pull the bar down to your upper chest. Tuck your elbows into your sides.
Contract your lats as hard as possible at the mid-point of each rep.
Smoothly extend your arms and continue for the desired number of reps.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi (lower), biceps, trapezius, rhomboids, forearms, core.

An excellent biceps and back exercise.
Good for building strength.
A useful precursor to bodyweight chin-ups.


Keep your forearms parallel throughout.
Drive your elbows down and back to maximize lat engagement.
Use a little more weight, as this is a strong grip and arm position.

5. Neutral wide grip lat pulldown
Wide grip pulldowns are typically done using a straight bar and a pronated grip. While effective, this puts your arms in a mechanically disadvantageous position, limiting the weight you can use and the number of reps you can perform. Using a wide neutral grip bar makes for a more comfortable workout and puts your biceps in a stronger position. However, not all gyms have such a bar.

Attach a long parallel grip bar to your lat pulldown machine.
Adjust the knee pad so that, when your feet are flat on the floor, it holds your legs in place.
Stand up and hold the bar with your palms facing inward.
Pull your shoulders down and back and sit down. Make sure your legs are held securely in place.
Lift your chest and arch your lower back slightly.
Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and pull the bar down to your upper chest. Tuck your elbows into your sides.
Smoothly extend your arms and continue for the desired number of reps.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi (upper), biceps, trapezius, rhomboids, forearms, core.

A strong, comfortable grip.
Allows you to lift more weight and/or do more reps.
An excellent biceps workout.


Pull your elbows down and into your sides to maximize lat engagement.
Keep your chest up throughout.
Pause at the bottom of each rep and flex your lats hard.

6. Cable crossover lat pulldowns
What’s wider than wide-grip lat pulldowns? This exercise! Cable crossover lat pulldowns involve pulling in from the sides, which really hits your upper lats. It’s not unusual to feel this exercise directly beneath your armpits. Use this move to fill in your lat gaps and build the ultimate V-taper.

Stand between the uppermost handles of a cable crossover machine and take one in each hand. Kneel in the middle of the machine with your arms outstretched to form a Y-shape.
Lift your chest and pull your shoulders down and back.
Bend your arms and pull your elbows into your sides.
Extend your arms and repeat.
Continue for the desired number of reps.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi (upper), trapezius, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.

One of the best exercises for wider upper lats.
Very shoulder-friendly.
An excellent back workout finisher.


Pause at the midpoint of each rep to hammer your upper lats.
Keep your arms out level with your torso.
Lift your chest to increase upper back engagement.

7. Single-arm lat pulldowns
While it’s common to have one arm stronger than the other, big left-to-right strength imbalances can affect both your appearance and your upper body function. Single-arm lat pulldowns are a simple way to fix such imbalances and are also an excellent method for improving your mind-muscle connection, not to mention your lateral core strength.

Attach a long D-shaped handle to your lat pulldown machine.
Adjust the knee pad so that, when your feet are flat on the floor, it holds your legs in place.
Stand up and hold the handle with one hand.
Pull your shoulders down and back and sit down. Make sure your legs are held securely in place.
Lift your chest and arch your lower back slightly.
Leading with your elbow, bend your arm and pull the handle down to your shoulder. Tuck your elbow into your side.
Smoothly extend your arm and continue for the desired number of reps.
Switch arms and do the same number of reps on the other side.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.

An effective fix for left-to-right strength imbalances.
Good for enhancing your mind-muscle connection.
Delivers an excellent oblique workout.


Keep your shoulders and hips level throughout.
Pull your elbow in close to your side to maximize lat engagement.
Use an overhand, neutral, or underhand grip as preferred. Alternatively, let your wrists rotate naturally as you pull down.

8. Straight arm pulldowns
Every lat pulldown variation discussed so far works the biceps as much as the lats. In contrast, straight arm pulldowns involve no elbow movement, and your biceps are left out of the exercise. Straight arm pulldowns are one of the few lat isolation exercises and are ideal for warming up or finishing off your lats.

Attach a straight bar to a lat pulldown machine.
Hold the bar with an overhand, slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Brace your core and pull your shoulders back and down.
With straight arms, step back to tension the cable. Lean forward slightly from your hips.
Without bending your elbows, push the bar down to your thighs.
Raise your arms and repeat.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi (lower), trapezius, rhomboids, core.

One of a few lat isolation exercises.
Perfect for pre- and post-exhaust supersets.
This is an excellent exercise for swimmers and anyone whose sport involves throwing.


Keep your chest up, core tight, and lower back slightly arched.
Use as big a range of motion as possible without letting the weights touch down.
Experiment with different grip widths to see which you prefer.

9. Resistance band pulldowns
Home exercisers are often unable to do lat pulldowns. After all, not everyone can fit a lat pulldown machine in their home gym, and chin-ups and pull-ups may be out of the question. The good news is that you can replicate all of the previous exercises using a resistance band and a suitable anchor.
Just ensure that your resistance band is in good condition and won’t snap mid-rep, and your anchor is strong enough and won’t fail. Getting hit in the face by a resistance band is no laughing matter!
Armed with your resistance band, you should have no problem recreating your favorite pulldown exercise and working your lats at home.

10. Pull-ups and chin-ups  
If you are very strong or don’t have access to a lat pulldown machine, pull-ups and chin-ups could be your next best option. Yes, you’ll need to up your game and lift your entire body weight with just your arms, but that will only enhance your muscle and strength gains. Pull-ups and chin-ups might be low-tech, but they’re very high-effect and offer a lot of bang for your workout buck.

Hang from an overhead bar using a wider-than-shoulder-width overhand grip (pull-ups) or a narrower-than-shoulder-width underhand grip (chin-ups).
Pull your shoulders back and down and brace your core. Bend your legs so your feet are clear of the floor.
Starting with straight arms, bend your elbows and pull your chin up and over your bar.
Smoothly lower yourself back down and repeat.

Muscles targeted:
Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.

Minimal equipment required so ideal for home and outdoor workouts.
A very functional pulling exercise.
A good test of relative strength.


Don’t swing, kick, or kip, as doing so takes work away from your target muscles.
Think about lifting your chest and not your chin up to the bar to increase muscle recruitment.
Use a resistance band to make these exercises easier or a weighted vest to make them more challenging.

Lat Pulldown Guide FAQs
Do you have a question about lat pulldowns or back training in general? No problem, because we’ve got the answers.
1. What is an easy way to remember which lat pulldown exercise works which muscles?
With ten different lat pulldown variations and alternatives, it would be easy to forget which one works which muscles. However, there are a couple of ways to make all this information easier to remember.
As a general rule, the wider your grip, the more upper lat activation there will be. Think wide grip for wide lats. In contrast, a narrower grip tends to hit your lower lats more. Exercises that involve more pulling in than pulling down emphasize your middle back, i.e., mid-traps and rhomboids.
Keeping this in mind, you should have no problem identifying which part of your lats you are working on.
2. How many reps and sets should I do to build bigger lats?
Contrary to popular belief, you can build bigger muscles with almost any rep range – from as low as five to 30 reps or more. The main proviso is that you must train your muscles to within a couple of reps of failure to make them grow. This contrasts the 6-12 rep range that was once the standard recommendation for hypertrophy training.
That said, sets of 6-12 are arguably more time-efficient than sets of 30 or more, so use your best judgment when deciding how many reps to do.
Regarding sets, two to four should be sufficient for most people, especially if you are doing several back exercises in a row. If you feel you need more than four sets to fatigue your lats, you are either stopping your sets too soon before failure or resting too long between efforts.
3. How many times a week should I train my back?
While some lifters can get good results from one back workout per week, most people will make better progress if they train their backs twice a week, e.g., Monday and Thursday. This provides a good balance between work and recovery.
However, this doesn’t mean you should do the same back workout each time you train – that would soon become boring. Instead, create two different back programs to keep your workouts interesting and productive.
For example:

Workout one
Workout two

Sets x reps
Sets x reps

4 x 4-6
Pendlay rows   
4 x 4-6

Wide-grip lat pulldown
3 x 8-10
Close-grip lat pulldowns
3 x 8-10

Single-arm rows
3 x 10-12
Seated cable rows
3 x 10-12

Straight arm pulldowns
3 x 15-20
Dumbbell pullovers
3 x 15-20

Face pulls
3 x 15-20
Band pull-aparts
3 x 15-20

4. How much wider will wide-grip lat pulldowns make my back?
Unfortunately, this is one of those questions we cannot answer. That’s because your ultimate muscle shape and size are determined by several factors, including your genetics, muscle origin and insertion points, training history, attention to diet, rest, and recovery, and your commitment and motivation.
Even if we knew all these things, we don’t have a crystal ball and cannot see into the future!
So, all we can say is if you train hard, eat right, get plenty of sleep, and don’t quit, you can significantly increase your back width. Build your workouts around lat pulldowns and pull-ups, and you’ll be heading in the right direction.
5. What are the best exercises for building a thicker upper back?
While lat pulldowns are great for building back width, rows build upper back thickness. There are lots of effective rowing exercises, including:

Bent-over barbell rows
T-bar rows
Cable rows
Inverted rows
Single-arm dumbbell rows
Chest-supported rows
Kroc rows
Pendlay rows
Meadows rows
Yates rows

With so many different exercises to choose from, you should have no problem finding the perfect rows for your needs and goals. Combine vertical and horizontal pulling exercises to build a back that’s both wide AND thick.
Lat Pulldown Guide – Wrapping Up
Lat pulldowns deserve a place in everybody’s back workout. Regardless of which variation you perform, this popular exercise will help you develop a broader, stronger, more muscular upper back. You can emphasize your lower lats with close grip lat pulldown variations or spread your wings with a wide grip. Most lifters should do both.
However, wide lats are only part of what makes an impressive back; you also need thickness, which is where rows come in. Combine vertical and horizontal pulling exercises to build an impressive 3D back that looks good from every angle.

Hero Pose Virasana: Technique Tips, Common Mistakes, and Variations

Hero Pose Virasana: Technique Tips, Common Mistakes, and Variations

The hero pose virasana is a basic sitting variation, suitable lotus pose alternative for meditative practice, and heck of a quad stretch, especially when you recline the posture in supta virasana. You’ve seen babies sit this way, so how hard could it be? Well, if you hardly stretch or sit in various legs crossed positions, it can be very painful or impossible. A lack of quad tissue flexibility, as well as in the ankles and feet, will be the first things you’ll notice when conforming to this pose. 
But if you can’t get the hero pose on the first try, use the simple tricks and progressions in this guide. Then when you need something more challenging we have that too!
What Is Hero Pose Virasana?
While some poses are downright difficult and complex, the hero pose is a basic style of sitting on your butt with your knees on and floor and feet bent back next to the hips. That’s not to say it’s easy, because you cannot have the flexibility of a mummy and expect to sit right down in this pose. But it shouldn’t take long to master either. 
Taken from its sangskrit definition, vira meaning “hero”, and asana meaning “posture” or “seat”, hero pose is usually combined with supta virasana, or the reclined (Facing up) variation that lengthens the stretch in the anterior thigh quadriceps muscles. 
However, beginners may first need to put on the training wheels to condition their quads, shins, ankles, and feet for the full pose. In virasana, the weight of your body combined with full knee flexion and ankle extension can be painful, especially at first. But you can go at it gradually, using the techniques discussed in the tips and variations sections in this guide. From there, the hero pose can be used to transition in and out of other poses.

Muscles Involved In Hero Pose Virasana 
The hero pose is more of a relaxed sitting position but there are some muscle strengthening benefits. Although the stretch in the quadriceps is the real advantage here. 
If you haven’t stretched your quads in ages, you’ll immediately know while getting down into the hero pose. While virasana is said to strengthen the legs and feet, we see it affecting the quads mostly. The hero pose places the front thigh in a stretched angle by closing the knees, and sitting between the feet. 
Your quadriceps, while previously thought to have four muscles (hence “quad”) actually consists of five individual heads. These anterior upper leg muscles support knee extension, and hip flexion. They are major muscles in all athletic movements, while supporting posture and the walking process. 
Now that you know the primary muscle in this pose, let’s go over the virasana technique. 
How To Do Hero Pose Virasana 
Few poses are as simple in terms of technique than virasana. It’s literally a sitting position that we’ve all done as a baby, and if a baby could do it well… there’s no excuse. You may need to work on other stretches before you can perform this pose though, because if you’re not bendy, it won’t be possible. 
Below are the basic steps to performing hero pose, and you’ll also find a video demonstration with progressions. 

Start by sitting on the your mat with your legs extended in front of you.
Bend your right leg and pull the heel into the right side of your buttock. Then do the same with your left leg. The toes should be pointing behind you, and the knees close together. 
Place your hands palms up on your thighs, touching the pointer fingers and thumbs. Keep your spine tall, and elbows softly bent. 
To leave virasana, place both hands on the left side and straighten the right leg in front of you. The bring the hands over to the right side, and straighten the left leg. 

Check out the below video demonstration to see how virasana is done!

Read also: Half Moon Pose Ardha Chandrasana – Benefits, Common Mistakes, and Variations

If you cannot sit all the way down on the floor, place a cushion (bolster), yoga block, or rolled up towel under your butt. This decreases the degree of knee flexion, and hence the pain and discomfort commonly experienced during hero pose. 
You can also wedge a cushion or bolster between your knees and under your shins, if more comfort is needed. 
A little discomfort is normal an necessary when you’re trying to master a pose. However, extreme pain and discomfort are not. 
Progress to the reclining supta for a deeper and more intense stretch. 
The knees should be together as explained in the common mistakes section. 

Benefits of Hero Pose Virasana 
It looks so simple, how could a common sitting position be beneficial? There are some good reasons to practice this pose.
Great daily postural reminder
Many of us have bad posture, which can be due to tight, shortened muscles or the fact that we view our devices in non ergonomic positions that cause us to slump and move our heads forward. 
Yoga practice is a good way to remind yourself to sit up straight, and use good posture. That’s because these poses require technique, and if we consciously know that, we’ll create an internal checklist to ensure we’re doing it correctly. 
Having good posture makes us look more attractive, helps us to breathe better, have less fatigue, and prevent injuries, especially when weight training. So the more good posture practice, the better. 
Alternative to lotus 
For the same reason we sit in powerful positions like lotus pose, the hero pose is a good alternative sitting position for meditation. Virasana is not quite as challenging to master, and it can help to build your flexibility and leg strength to help you sit longer. 
Stretches the lower body
An obvious benefit of hero pose is that some areas remain in a stretched positions such as the quads, ankles, feet, and also the knees. This is a just a good way to keep your muscles flexible and healthy, pain free in other poses and loose, which creates a healthy moving body and supports good posture. 
Common Mistakes During Hero Pose Virasana 
Such a simple exercise, how could you mess up the hero pose? There are some minor things you should avoid when practicing this technique. 
Forcing the legs back/ not using props
Done incorrectly, you could bend or twist something the wrong way or put too much pressure on the knees and ankles. If you cannot do the hero pose safely, it’s better to place a cushion under your butt. This way you create more room for your joints to move safely.
It’s normal to experience a little discomfort in some poses, but there’s a difference between progression and poor strategy. 
Pulling the knees apart
Part of proper hero pose technique is keeping the knees together to ensure you maximize the stretch in the legs, and proper and safe alignment of the joints. It may be tempting to pull the knees apart if if feels better, however, we do not recommend doing that. You should, instead use a bolster to prop yourself up and train the knees to be in the right alignment. 
Dropping your posture 
Another reason we highly recommend using a bolster or cushion if you cannot do hero pose yet, is that it will help you maintain good posture. This will develop a good habit for when you’re ready to do the unassisted version of hero pose. 
Bad posture or hunching over is not good for the energy and strength of the pose, as you should be focusing on maintaining a tall, upright spine and strong core. Relax the shoulders, and keep the torso neutral. 
Variations of Hero Pose Virasana 
For the following variations, we’ll start you off with some easier techniques to help you get into position. Then when you’re very comfortable with virasana, you can aim higher and attempt the more challenging poses. 
Hero pose with cushion
Virasana can be impossible for some people when just starting out. To help, you can place a yoga block or symmetrical cushion under your butt, and between your feet. This way, you don’t need as much knee flexion, and you can gradually improve flexibility in the muscles involved in hero pose. 
Hero pose with feet crossed 
Another progression, you can cross the top of one foot over the bottom of the other foot, and sit back on your feet. This will feel a bit easier if you struggle to get the feet next to your thighs. 
Supta virasana 
Also called the reclined hero pose, supta virasana is a supine position lying on your back. You should feel extra stretch in your quadriceps, and even more when the arms are extended overhead. 

From virasana, place your palms on the floor behind your hips roughly shoulder width apart, with the fingers pointing forward. 
Now slowly drop down onto your forearms, one arm at a time, keeping the elbows directly under the shoulders. Stay here for a few breaths. 
If you’re able, lie on your back and straighten the arms next to your body. 
For a more intense posture, simply reach the arms back overhead. 
Stay there for a few moments, breathing in and out. 
To come out, bring the arms forward, gently grab the heels, tuck your chin, and lift up onto your elbows. Then you can sit up in virasana. 
If you’d like to counter this pose, you can fold forward, dropping face down on your thighs, while extending the arms back and rest them against the bottom of your feet. 

Pro tip: As demonstrated in the primary video example provided in this guide, use the combination of a yoga block and bolster as a training technique for supta virasana. 
Downward facing hero pose adho mukha virasana 
You can also bend forward into a version of child’s pose, reaching the arms forward and dropping your head toward the floor yo accentuate the stretch in your thighs. 

From virasana, reach your hands up toward the sky.
Then bend forward at the hips, and bring your palms to the floor. Breath in, exhale, and push your hands further forward. 
To come out, walk your hands back until you’re sitting upright. 

Watch at the 00:56 mark for a demonstration of adho mukha virasana. 

Lotus pose 
This is the pose famously known around the world and the most symbolic of meditative practice. It more advanced than the hero pose, hence why the latter is a viable substitute, although not perfectly easy or painless either. 
Lotus requires more time and practice, and it can also be more risky for the knees if done carelessly. If you’d like to learn this foundational pose, check out our full lotus pose guide. 
Note: Only attempt this pose if you have an advanced level of mobility in the hips, healthy knees, and prior yoga practice. 

Start with your legs extended in front of you while seated on your mat. 
Then, bend your right leg, and cradle it in your arms, gently swaying it from side to side. 
Place the right foot into the left hip bone. 
Now bend your left leg, then use your hands to pull your left foot over your right leg, and tuck it into the right side of your hip. 
Let your knees drop to the mat, rest your hands palms up on your knees while touching the thumbs and pointer fingers together, and gently close your eyes. Focus on your breath and maintain a tall spine. 
Reset your legs by extending them forward, then repeat the same steps but switch the position of your legs. For example, this time you’ll bend and cradle the left leg first. Then you’ll bring the right foot over the left leg to finish the lotus pose. 

Who should stay away from hero pose? We don’t recommend the hero pose for people with pre existing knee and ankle issues as virasana places a lot of pressure on these joints.

Wrapping Up
You don’t need to be a yoga genius or possess super powers to master the hero pose. It’s among foundational beginner poses that requires a little cooperation from your quads, and feet. The virasana technique is not so easy that anyone can do it, but this kneeling asana can be achieved via progressive methods, and a little tolerance to minor discomfort as your muscle tissues expand and you become more flexible. 
Then you can reward yourself by sitting in this posture for relaxation sessions, and pushing for more advanced poses. 

Standing Cable Fly Guide: Muscles Worked, How-To, Benefits, and Alternatives

Standing Cable Fly Guide: Muscles Worked, How-To, Benefits, and Alternatives

Common gym lore says that if you want to build a massive, sculpted chest, the bench press is the way to go. This is why so many bodybuilding pec workouts start with the bench press. Push-ups are also popular, and dumbbell bench presses and the chest press machine aren’t far behind.
However, despite using different training implements, each of those movements is almost identical. So, if you build your workouts around compound pushing exercises, you’re basically repeating the same move over and over again.
This is not only boring but could make your training less effective than it ought to be.
For this reason, any well-designed chest workout should combine compound pressing exercises like the bench press with isolation movements such as crossovers and flys. This will allow you to hit different parts of your chest, ensuring you develop better-shaped pecs. Switching movements also helps to make your workouts more interesting.
But which supplementary chest exercises should you use? After all, there are plenty to choose from.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of the standing cable fly, explaining how to perform this great exercise and the alternatives you can also use to sculpt the perfect chest.
Standing Cable Fly – Muscles Worked
Standing cable flys are an isolation exercise, which means movement occurs only at one joint – the shoulder. However, despite this, the standing cable fly still involves several important muscles.

These include:
Pectoralis major
Known as the pecs for short, this large fan-shaped muscle makes up most of your chest mass. The pecs consist of three groups of fibers or heads: clavicular (upper), sternal (mid), and costal/abdominal (lower).
Together, the three pec heads are responsible for horizontal flexion and adduction of your shoulder joint. They are also medial rotators. All three heads play a part in standing cable flys; however, the sternal or middle portion is the most active.
Pectoralis minor
The Pectoralis minor is located beneath the upper part of pectoralis major. It works in conjunction with pec major to horizontally flex and protract your shoulder joint. While pec minor is largely out of sight, it still contributes to the shape and size of your chest.
Anterior deltoids
The deltoids are your most significant shoulder muscles. Like the pecs, they are separated into three heads: anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear). All three deltoid heads are involved in standing cable flys, but the anterior head is the most active.
Serratus anterior
Serratus anterior is located to the side of your upper chest. Its primary function is keeping your scapulae or shoulder blades flat against your rib cage. As such, it’s an essential stabilizer of the shoulder girdle. A well-developed serratus anterior can add a lot to your upper body aesthetics, especially when you’re lean.
With no bench to support you, you’ll need to use your muscles to stabilize your spine and stop your body from moving backward as you move your arms. Core is the collective term for the muscles of your midsection, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis. During standing cable flys, you use your core to brace your lumbar spine, preventing unwanted movement.
Biceps and triceps
Standing cable flys involve little or no movement of your elbows. All of the action should occur at your shoulder joints. That said, you’ll still need to use your biceps and triceps to hold your arms rigid. However, they should be working isometrically, i.e., generating force without producing movement.
How to Do Standing Cable Flys
Get more from standing cable flys while keeping your risk of injury to a minimum by following these guidelines:

Attach D-shaped handles to an adjustable cable machine set to around mid-chest height.
Take a handle in each hand and, with your arms slightly bent but rigid, take a step forward to tension the cables, arms extended somewhat behind you. Brace your core.
Adopt a staggered stance for balance and brace your core to stabilize your torso.
Keeping your body upright, bring your arms forward so your hands meet at chest level in front of you. Do not bend your elbows or lean forward at the waist.
Open your arms and return to the starting position, making sure to stretch your chest.
Continue for the prescribed number of reps.

Pro Tips:

This exercise works best with light to moderate weights and medium to high reps, e.g., 12-20 per set.
Pause at the start and midpoint of each rep to maximally engage your pecs.
Move smoothly and deliberately to avoid momentum and keep the tension on the target muscles.
Imagine you are “hugging a tree” to reinforce the correct exercise technique.
Switch leading legs set by set to avoid developing muscle imbalances.

Standing Cable Fly Benefits and Drawbacks
Not sure if standing cable flys are worthy of a place in your workouts? Consider these benefits and then decide!
A very safe exercise
Unlike barbell and dumbbell bench presses, there are no weights to drop on your chest during standing cable flys. As such, you can take your sets to failure with no fear of getting crushed under a heavy load. This means standing cable flys are ideal for solo exercisers.
With no bench behind your shoulder blades, your arms are free to move naturally and without putting unnecessary stress on your shoulder joints. If bench presses bother your shoulders, you may find that standing cable flys are more comfortable and forgiving.
Perfect for drop sets
Most cable machines have a selectorized weight stack, so you can change the load quickly and easily. This means that standing cable flys are perfect for muscle-building, pump-inducing drop sets. Rep out to failure, reduce the weight by 10-20%, and then rep out again. Repeat several more times until your pecs are thoroughly fatigued.
An excellent chest finisher
Standing cable flys are one of the best exercises for bringing your chest workout to a satisfying end. After bench presses, dips, and chest presses, your triceps will probably be more fatigued than your pecs. With less triceps involvement, you should find that you can still pump out a couple good sets of cable flys to ensure your chest muscles are completely exhausted.
While standing cable flys are a mostly beneficial exercise, there are also a few drawbacks to consider:
It can be tricky for beginners to learn
With no bench for support and the movement all but unguided, beginners may find this exercise tricky to learn. Their arms may not follow the correct movement path, and they may also find it hard to avoid using one arm more than the other. For this reason, some beginners will prefer a less challenging chest isolation exercise, such as pec deck flys.
Not suitable for heavy weights
Using heavy weights will invariably lead to cheating, as you’ll probably need to lean into the exercise to avoid falling backward. This takes tension away from the target muscles, making standing cable flys less effective.
Save the heavy loads for the multi-joint compound exercises in your workouts. Instead, stick to light to moderate weights and medium to high reps with standing cable flys, which reduce the need to cheat.
7 Standing Cable Fly Variations and Alternatives
Standing cable flys are a highly effective chest exercise, but that doesn’t mean you need to do them all the time. There are several variations and alternatives you can use to keep your workouts productive and interesting:
1. Cable crossovers
Cable crossovers and cable flys are easy to confuse as they’re very similar. However, where standing cable flys involve a horizontal arm movement, cable crossovers feature a diagonal motion, either going from high to low or low to high. This allows you to emphasize your upper or lower chest as preferred.

Attach D-shaped handles to an adjustable cable machine set to around head height.
Take a handle in each hand and, with your arms slightly bent but rigid, take a step forward to tension the cables, arms extended somewhat behind you. Brace your core.
Adopt a staggered stance for balance and brace your core to stabilize your torso.
Keeping your body upright, bring your arms forward and down so your hands meet in front of your hips. Do not bend your elbows or lean forward at the waist.
Open your arms and raise your hands to about shoulder height, making sure to stretch your chest.
Continue for the prescribed number of reps.

Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids.

Hits a different part of the chest compared with standing cable flys.
A very effective lower/inner pec exercise.
Safe and shoulder-friendly.


Do this exercise with a single cable to work one side of your chest at a time.
Use a resistance band if no cable machine is available.
You can also do this exercise with a low-to-high movement to work your upper/inner chest.

2. Supine cable fly
One of the biggest disadvantages of standing cable flys is that your core and balance can limit your performance. Lying on an exercise bench means you won’t need to worry about your abs failing before your pecs, so you’ll be able to use more weight and push your muscles closer to failure.

Place a bench in the center of a cable crossover machine. Attach a D-shaped handle to the low pulleys.
Take a handle in each hand and sit on the end of the bench. Lean back and extend your arms so they’re vertical, elbows slightly bent but rigid.
Open your arms and lower the handles down and out to the side, getting a good stretch in your pecs.
Squeeze your arms up and together so your hands meet above your chest.
Continue for the prescribed number of reps.

Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids.

You should be able to lift more weight or do more reps than with standing cable flys.
More back support, so a good choice for lifters with back pain/injuries.
An excellent mid-chest exercise.


Pause at the top of each rep and squeeze your pecs for maximal muscle recruitment.
Use a stability ball instead of a bench if preferred.
You can also do this exercise on an incline bench to work your upper chest.

3. Dumbbell fly
You don’t have to limit yourself to using a cable machine for flys. In fact, dumbbells can be just as effective and may be more accessible and convenient, especially if you train at home. Muscle tension does tend to drop off as your hands come together, but despite this, dumbbell flys are still a good pec builder.

Lie on an exercise bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Press the weights up and hold them at arm’s length above your chest. Turn your palms inward, i.e., a neutral grip.
With slightly bent but rigid elbows, open your arms and lower the weights down and out to your sides. Get a stretch in your pecs but do not hyperextend your shoulders.
Squeeze the weight up and together, and then repeat.

Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids.

Less equipment-dependent than standing cable flys.
An excellent old-school chest sculpting exercise.
An ideal addition to home chest workouts.


Use an incline bench to target your upper pecs or a decline bench to work your lower pecs.
Take care not to lower the weights too far, as doing so could lead to shoulder pain.
No bench? You can also do this exercise on a stability ball.

4. Pec deck machine
Beginners often find it hard to control their arms and follow the correct movement path during standing cable flys. The pec deck machine guides your limbs, so you are free to focus entirely on pounding your pecs into submission. This is an excellent no-brainer alternative to standing cable flys.

Adjust the machine seat height so that, when you sit on it, your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
Sit on the machine, grip the handles, and press your forearms against the pads.
Squeeze your elbows together so they meet in front of your chest.
Open your arms, get a stretch in your pecs, and repeat.

Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids.

An excellent exercise for beginners.
Works great for drop sets.
Your movements are guided by the machine, leaving you free to focus on pushing your pecs to their limit.


Press with your elbows, not your hands or forearms, to maximize chest recruitment.
Pause at the midpoint of each rep to maximize pec engagement.
Do not let the weights touch down between reps, as doing so takes tension off your chest.

5. Towel slide fly
You don’t need a cable machine or dumbbells to do flys – a towel and your body weight will suffice. That said, this is a very challenging exercise, especially for beginners and those with a larger-than-average build.

Adopt the push-up position with your hands resting on two towels or slider pads. Brace your core.
Keeping your arms slightly bent but rigid, open your arms and slide your hands outward, lowering your chest down to within an inch of the floor.
Squeeze your hands together and return to the starting position.
That’s one rep – how many more can you do?!

Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, core.

A very challenging bodyweight pec exercise.
Minimal equipment required, so ideal for home workouts.
Provides a great core workout as you train your chest.


Do this exercise while kneeling to make it easier.
This exercise works best when performed on a smooth floor, e.g., tiles or polished wood.
You can also do this exercise using revolving dumbbells or core wheels instead of a towel.

6. Ring/TRX fly
Gymnastic ring and suspension/TRX training are very popular at the moment. Using straps and handles will add a lot to your bodyweight workouts, making them more challenging and effective. Ring/TRX flys are an excellent exercise that can be modified to suit almost any strength and fitness level.


Attach your rings/TRX to an overhead anchor. Hold the handles and stand between them, arms extended in front of you. Adopt a split stance.
Open your arms and lower your body forward. Use your front leg more or less to adjust the difficulty of the exercise.
Squeeze your arms back together and repeat.

Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, core.

Less friction to overcome than with towel flys, so potentially easier to perform.
An excellent supplement to other bodyweight chest exercises, such as push-ups and dips.
A very functional, core-centric bodyweight chest exercise.


Bend your legs and rest on your knees to make this exercise easier.
Shorten your straps to raise your body and take weight off your arms.
You can also do this exercise on your toes and in the push-up position, which is VERY challenging!

7. Supine Svend press
The supine Svend press is a straightforward yet effective exercise that combines chest presses with flys. This creates a unique contraction in your pecs without using a cable machine or dumbbells. In fact, all you need to do this exercise is a single weight plate, so it’s ideal for home workouts.

Hold a weight plate between the palms of your hands and lie on an exercise bench. Push your palms together as hard as you can.
Press the weight up to arm’s length, maintaining the inward pressure with your hands.
Lower the weight back to your chest and repeat.

Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps.

An effective exercise even when done with light weights.
Far more effective than standing Svend presses.
Very joint-friendly as you don’t need to use heavy loads.


You can also do this exercise with two dumbbells instead of a weight plate, i.e., close-grip dumbbell bench presses.
No bench? No problem! Do this exercise on the floor or using a stability ball.
The harder you press your hands together, the more effective this exercise becomes.

Standing Cable Fly Guide FAQs
Do you have a question about standing cable flys? No sweat because we’ve got the answers!
1. How many sets and reps of standing cable flys should I do?
Most people should be able to fully fatigue their pecs in 2-4 sets of standing cable flys. If you feel like you need to do more than this, you are a) resting too long between sets or b) not getting close enough to failure.
Remember too that standing cable flys are not the best stand-alone chest exercise, and are best done as part of a more comprehensive chest workout, i.e.,:

Bench press 3 x 6-8
Incline dumbbell press 3 x 10-12
Chest press machine 3 x 10-12
Standing cable fly 3 x 15-20

Regarding reps, standing cable flys work best with light to moderate weights and medium to high reps. As such, you’ll probably get the best results from doing 12-20 reps per set, although you can go as high as 30 reps and still build muscle.
2. I feel some of these exercises in my shoulders more than my chest. Is this normal?
The pecs and anterior deltoids always work together as they have shared functions. That said, exercises like standing cable flys and dumbbell flys are predominately chest exercises, and the anterior deltoids should be working as synergists or helpers.
If you feel your shoulders more than your chest, you may need to work on your mind-muscle connection. Try using less weight and flexing your pecs more purposely.
Be more mindful of your pecs, imagining them contracting and growing with every rep you perform. Flexing your pecs before a set of standing cable flys will also help fire up your chest and reinforce the mind-muscle connection.
3. Aren’t compound exercises enough to build a bigger chest?
Compound exercises are great for building basic mass and strength. However, while some only need bench presses, push-ups, and dips to build picture-perfect pecs, others require additional exercises to maximize pec size and shape.
So, by all means, try the compound-only route to building your best-ever chest, but if you are unhappy with your progress, add some isolation training to see if it helps.
4. I train at home and don’t have access to a cable machine; what exercises can I do instead of standing cable flys?
There are several ways you can isolate your pecs at home without a cable machine. For starters, you can use resistance bands to replicate most cable exercises, including flys and crossovers. You can also do TRX, dumbbell, and towel flys.
While having access to a cable machine makes chest isolation training very convenient, it’s not the only way to emphasize and shape your pecs.
5. Standing cable flys hurt my shoulders – what gives?
Standing cable flys are usually pretty shoulder-friendly, but if they hurt your joints, you may be using too much weight, extending your arms too far behind you, or have a pre-existing shoulder injury.
As with all exercises, if you feel unusual pain when you’re doing this movement, you should check your form, reduce the weight, and skip it entirely if the discomfort persists.
Wrapping Up
Most lifters LOVE bench presses and start each training week with what is arguably the most popular bodybuilding exercise in the world. However, as great as bench presses are, they’re not the only or even the best way to build awesome pecs.
Isolation exercises like flys and crossovers allow you to focus on your pecs with 100% accuracy, pushing your muscles to their limit in complete safety.
There are plenty of pec isolation exercises to choose from, but the standing cable fly is one of the best.
Add them to your next pec workout and take your chest development to a whole new level!

Lotus Pose Padmasana Guide: Benefits, Common Mistakes, and Variations

Lotus Pose Padmasana Guide: Benefits, Common Mistakes, and Variations

Easily the most iconic meditation posture, recognized in film and TV, and part of rich ancient Asian tradition, just about everyone has tried some form or variation of lotus pose, whether making a joke out of it or genuine relaxation practice. But, laughing aside, most people would get a slice of humble pie after an honest attempt at the true lotus pose padmasana! 
There are said to be many advantages of lotus pose like increasing flexibility, improving posture, easing menstrual symptoms, and migraines, mental relaxation, and awakening kundalini energy. But beneath the surface (pun surface) hides a beautiful representation of the lotus flower.
Let’s deep dive into the origins of padmasana, how it works, common mistakes to avoid, variations, and more. 
What is The Lotus Pose?

We observe and practice for the benefits, but do we know about the history behind many classic poses, especially one as famous as the lotus pose? Padmasana, in Sanskrit, is derived from two parts, padma (meaning lotus), and sana (seat or throne meaning). 
You may know of the lotus flower, or would recognize this sacred aquatic plant and powerful religious symbol from Buddhist and Hindu culture, where it’s commonly used as a pedestal for divine deities. But it makes more sense once you understand the angelic daily life cycle of a lotus. Deep rooted in mud, the lotus submerges in river water nightly, only to resurrect into a beautiful bloom the next morning. Hence its popular symbolic associations with rebirth and spiritual enlightenment.
But resilience is another word that comes to mind, considering the seemingly unfavorable environmental conditions, yet the strong will to revive each day, with each petal appearing as beautiful and strong as the day prior. 
It’s no wonder the lotus is a foundational pose, that is believed to have many physical and mental benefits. 
Anatomy of The Lotus Pose/Muscles Worked

(Proper) Lotus pose is a combination of sufficient hip flexion, external thigh rotation, and horizontal abduction. In other words, the thigh needs to be elevated high enough, with adequate outward rotation to safely and comfortably place the legs and feet in the lotus position. 
Normally, the hips externally rotate about 60 degrees. In the lotus pose, more rotation is required. When mobility is less than what’s needed, people compensate by rotating and placing dangerous pressure on this knee joint. 
So there needs to be a strong ability in the hips, with flexible quadriceps. This can be achieved with enough time, and consistency. 
How To Do Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana)
Now we’ll get to the good stuff… find a yoga mat and go through a few practice steps before crossing over to the more advanced lotus pose variation. We’ll do this part in sections, starting with a basic legs crossed position, moving to a half lotus, and finally the lotus of all lotuses!
Below you’ll find written step-by-step instructions, with a video tutorial afterward. Also, check out the common mistakes section to avoid crucial technique dont’s.

Note: Before attempting lotus pose, ensure that you have sufficient lower body flexibility, healthy knees and ankles, and recent experience practicing similar techniques regularly. Padmasana is an intermediate to advanced posture, and bad technique can be costly for the knee joint.
It’s also important to note that there are slight variations of lotus pose, however, the general technique should remain the same for the safety of the joints.

Before attempting the full lotus pose, see if you can first perform the basic crossed legs and half lotus variations without pain or discomfort. If you can, then proceed to carefully try the full lotus, but only if you have sufficient hip mobility to comfortably slide your feet onto the hips without forcing or pulling the shins up.
Basic crossed legs posture

Start from seated on your mat with both legs straightened in front of you. 
Then, come into a basic crossed legs pose, or sukhasana with your palms on your knees and eyes closed. Keep your spine tall. 
Stay here then switch the position of your legs and repeat. 
If you are comfortable in this position, you’re ready for the half lotus or Ardha padmasana. Straighten your legs in front of you and continue with step 4. 

Half lotus

Grab the right leg, and cradle it in your arms close to your chest. Gently swing the leg from side to side which will help open up the hips before going full lotus. 
From here, place your right heel on your left pelvic bone. 
Sit in this pose with your hands on your knees and eyes closed for a few moments. Switch legs, bringing the opposite leg to the pelvis first. Do you feel okay to proceed with a more intense technique aka, full lotus? If so, you can proceed to the next steps.

Full lotus padmasana pose technique

Restart by extending your legs in front of you. 
Then, bend your right leg, and cradle it in your arms, gently swaying it from side to side. 
Place the right foot into the left hip bone. 
Now bend your left leg, then use your hands to pull your left foot over your right leg, and tuck it into the right side of your hip. 
Let your knees drop to the mat, rest your hands palms up on your knees while touching the thumbs and pointer fingers together, and gently close your eyes. Focus on your breath and maintain a tall spine. 
Reset your legs by extending them forward, then repeat the same steps but switch the position of your legs. For example, this time you’ll bend and cradle the left leg first. Then you’ll bring the right foot over the left leg to finish the lotus pose. 

Here’s another way to perform lotus pose that involves deeper preparation. 


The full lotus is very challenging if you don’t have very good flexibility. Do not expect to get it in day, one week, one month, or in some cases, one year or more.
Remember the role of the two major joints involved in the lotus pose. The hips are capable of rotation while the knees only flex and extend. The knees are at greater risk of injury in this pose if improper form is used.
Close the knee joint by fully bending your leg so that the calf is flat against the hamstrings. This will help protect the knees by keeping it more stable, while ensuring only the hips rotate.
Gently scoop the heels from underneath and set them in position on the hips.
If your knees cannot naturally drop to the floor, do not force them down. Be patient and allow the tissue in your lower body to loosen up and stretch.
Never use jerky or rough movements when performing the lotus pose. Be very gentle and patient as you’re assisting your feet to the hips.
As gently as you came into the pose, should you while coming out of it too.

Benefits of Lotus Pose Padmasana 
Let’s take a look at why an ancient, pre hatha yoga posture would still be relevant today. Of course, it’s also important to remember that lotus is a form of meditation, which has many science proven benefits in itself. 
Stretch multiple points
In the lotus posture, many points receive a deep stretch from the muscles in your feet, to the ankles, knees, quadriceps muscles, hips, groin, and the torso, with good posture. Stretching increases flexibility, and hence elasticity in the muscles which helps with healthy joint movement, and prevents injuries (1).

Calm your thoughts
Some stress is healthy but when it becomes chronic, so often does our mental and physical suffering. Meditation, and redirecting our focus is a crucial part of reducing the harmful effects of negative associations, reducing emotional fluctuation, and we all need it in some form. Especially with the pressures of modern lifestyles and culture (2).
Helps reduce and prevent disease risk
To extend on the previous benefit, yoga and exercise has been shown to improve disease or health risk factors. Studies published by National Library of Medicine conclude that there’s no doubt yoga improves stress, anxiety, and depression, while being a suitable complementary medicine (3, 4). But the advantages are two fold, as mental techniques contribute to the physical and mental improvements (5).
Reinforce discipline to live a healthier, more aware lifestyle
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with distractions that should take us less time in our daily lives. Yoga practice can make us more mindful and help us to be more in tune with our thoughts, bodies, and decisions (6). And chances are, if you have the discipline to follow a routine, it will carry over into other things that will help you to become better all around. 
Many fun and challenging variations
The exciting thing about the lotus pose is that it doesn’t stop there… in fact, for someone who cannot get into the pose, the progressions can be a rewarding journey in themselves. But then you have more advanced variations like the ones included later on in this guide. As you progress, it’s also normal to build more strength and mental fitness as well. 
Common Mistakes During Lotus Pose
When it comes to exercise, some bad habits are easily fixable and not likely to cause harm. But when it comes to flexing your body in more difficult positions, you must be especially careful to do it right Here are some things you must avoid during lotus pose. 
Forcing the leg and foot into position
A proper lotus pose is only possible with sufficient hip mobility and ignoring this fact is a crucial mistake. When movement in the thigh is limited during the lotus pose, two ways that people try to fix it is pulling the foot up or pushing the knee down. The problem here is the knees are not made for such a degree of external rotation beyond 40 degrees. 
The hips are a ball and socket joint with greater movement capability, while the knee bends and straightens. Don’t mess that up!
Bad form causes shearing forces on the knee which can damage the meniscus (soft cartilage in the knee that act as shock absorbers, and help stabilize the knee joint) and ligaments. 
Solution: Practice gradual techniques to free up tension in the hips, and improve movement in the horizontal plane. You should also focus on closing the knee joint, making it less vulnerable to potentially damaging forces. 
Variations of Lotus Pose Padmasana
There are plenty of lotus pose variations to keep you busy, including the preparatory and more advanced postures. Here are some of the more popular alternatives to the lotus pose padmasana.
Reclining lotus pose (supta padmasana)
The opposite of your hidden lotus, supta padmasana is performed on your back. And most people will want to try this variation before covering up their pose. 

Sit at the front of your mat in padmasana.
Place your hands on the mat behind your hips, then bend your elbows and gently drop down on your forearms like in a reverse plank. Sit in this position for a few moments to ensure you’re comfortable. 
Then slowly walk your hands toward your knees, and lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides and palms on the floor. 
Now reach your arms overhead, and rest the top of the forearms and knuckles on the ground, but keep your elbows slightly bent. 
Relax here and consciously breathe in and out. 
To come out, bring your arms back down by your sides with the palms next to your hips. Tuck your chin into your chest, lift back up onto your forearms, then sit up in padmasana. 
Now change your legs position and repeat.

Hidden lotus pose (gupta padmasana)
Try this concealed lotus pose variation that’ll force your hips to stay opened up. Many people also learn that changing the position of the same position suits them better. In this case, a prone position may enhance how the stretch feels in your entire back. 

Begin in padmasana pose at the back end of your yoga mat. 
Then place your hands on the mat and use your arms to lift up onto your knees. Walk your hands forward until your palms are directly under your shoulders like in a push-up on your knees position. 
Now walk your hands forward and gently lower your chest, stomach, and hips to the floor. Then reach your arms overhead and rest your palms on the floor. Try to consciously press your pelvis down into the mat. 
Stay here for a few conscious, relaxed breaths. 
To leave the pose, bend your arms and place your palms on the floor next to your chest like the bottom of a push-up. 
Push yourself up, then walk your hands back, and gently return to the sitting padmasana. 
Now do it again but change the position of your legs. 

Tip: You can also place your hands behind your back as shown in the video example. 

Fish pose with lotus legs 
If done correctly, the fish pose will give you an amazing stretch through the upper body and neck, while offering potential benefits of inversion (hanging your head upside down) like improved blood flow to the brain, and enhanced cognitive functioning. But the basic fish pose doesn’t stretch out the hips and groin like adding a lotus pose.

Start on your back with your body fully lengthened. 
Bring your legs into lotus, then drop them to the floor. 
Now lift your chest, arch your back, tilt your head back, and gently rest the top of your head on the floor. You can grab onto your hips as shown in the video example below. 
Reverse the process by lying flat, raising your knees up, taking your feet off the hips one at a time, and straightening your legs out in front of you. 
Lay there for a moment, then bring the legs back into lotus, switching legs this time, and repeat the previous steps. 

Check out our full write up on fish pose matsyasana.
Floating lotus pose (Utplutih)
If you have good upper body strength, then you should absolutely try the floating variation. What it will do over the other variations is activate your chest, shoulders, and triceps, while calling on your core to produce more strength and stability. But there are mental benefits too, as you’ll have to trust yourself, have confidence in your abilities, and develop patience. 
Note: Utplutih is a more advanced pose, and it can be very challenging. The video provided below shows a few progressions before attempting the full lotus pose. You can also find some technique tips following the written instructions. 

Start in the sitting lotus position on your mat, with an upright posture. 
Squeeze and activate your legs and flex your feet for better control. 
Then straighten your arms and place your hands on the mat beside your upper thighs. Spread your fingers out, and feel where you will be most balanced. Emphasize pressing with the thumbs and pointer fingers. 
Activate your delts, and the prominent muscles of your lateral torso like the lats and serratus anterior. 
Now round your back slightly, then draw your abdomen in and up.
Inhale, then lift your body up off the ground. Press your hands down into the floor, maintain a solid position, look down at the tip of your nose, and take 10 big breaths.
Exhale, and slowly lower your butt to the floor in padmasana. 
You can then swap the position of your legs and repeat the pose. 


Mental focus is just as important here. Remain calm, breathe, take your time, and feel connected to the pose. 
Remember most of this pose is a result of your core muscle engagement. 
If the utplutih is too advanced for you, cross your legs normally (not lotus), and practice the floating pose while keeping your feet in contact with the floor, akin to an assisted version. 
The half lotus pose, keeping only one foot on the floor, is another progression before the full floating variation. 

When is lotus pose best avoided? We do not recommend lotus pose for people with knee and ankle injuries or issues, or who are pregnant.
Can beginners try the lotus pose? It depends on your level of flexibility. Lotus pose is a more advanced posture that requires a great degree of hip mobility. Most beginners should start with a basic crossed leg sitting position, then progress to a half lotus, and finally the full lotus.

Wrapping Up
Through adversity and resilience sprouts a beautiful result, of which the lotus plant exemplifies that authenticity. Both a symbol and physical manifestation of grounding, expansion, death, re-emergence, resilience and beauty, so too is what the lotus pose represents. 
While a more advanced position, you’ll also learn patience and persistence, but don’t forget to also enjoy the process as you learn one of the most foundational poses. 

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