Exercise Ball

I’ve previously mentioned the Ab Wheel, a dirt cheap but effective way to train the abdominal muscles.

There’s another cost effective piece of equipment you can buy and use at home: an exercise ball.  They are versatile, inexpensive and great for training the abs–you can lean back on it and get a great stretch.

I’ve included a link to one that is rated highly on Amazon.com (see below), but you may want to just go to your local retail store and look around. You may also want to check out size recommendations–the one I have linked below is 75cm, but a shorter person may do better with a 65cm (or smaller).

Note: Remember that visible abs come from low body fat, not abdominal training.

Strength Training and Neurology

I’d like to talk a little bit about the role of neurology in strength and strength training.  It’s something I didn’t understand very well when I first started lifting weights.

One component of strength, of course, is simply having more muscle mass.  But a very important aspect of strength is training the nervous system to “fire” more muscle fibers at once.

All of us have the hidden potential to perform amazing feats of strength.

I was watching, for example, a show on National Geographic called Superhuman.  There was an account of a middle-aged woman who saw her grown son trapped in the wheel well of his car after the jack fell out.  This non-athletic woman picked up the car (a dead lift type move) and held it up for several minutes until help arrived.  The incredible feat of strength saved her son’s life.

Let’s use lighting strike victims as another example.  It is common for these people to suffer broken or dislocated bones due to the incredibly severe muscle contractions caused by the strike.

Why don’t we lift cars or dislocate our joints all the time?  Well, the nervous system is designed to prevent all the muscle fibers from contracting at one time.  It’s kind of a “safety feature” of the human body.  It keeps our bones intact and it ensures we’ll have the needed muscular energy to do more than one thing.

In the case of the middle-aged mom, a powerful rush of adrenaline allowed most of her muscle fibers to exert maximum effort.  In the case of lightning, the electricity completely overrides the body’s nervous system.

Strength athletes train their nervous systems to utilize a large number of muscle fibers on command (without the before-mentioned extraordinary circumstances).  This is why powerlifters often use the 2-3 rep range—they are training their bodies to exert maximum effort on a single lift.

I’ll talk more about the practical application of this in future articles.

Inzer Wrist Wraps

Inzer Powerlifting Wrist Wraps

About ten years ago one of my wrist started hurting during/after the bench press.  I started using some kind of wrist wrap to see if it would help.  The one I used wasn’t really made for weight lifting, but it did help.  I eventually had the same problem with the other wrist.  I’m not sure exactly why, but the compression hurts my wrists (maybe this is a common problem among lifters).

Anyway, the solution has been pretty simple–if I wear wraps, my wrists don’t hurt at all.  I eventually ran across Inzer Wrist Wraps, and I’ve been using this brand for about a decade now, and I highly recommend them.

I usually use the 20 inch, but you can decide according to your own preference.  You can click here to shop for Inzer Wrist Wraps -on Amazon.com.