Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Alternating Limb Exercises Worth the Time - Who Knew??

You're going to have to forgive me for my lack of technical terminology on this one...I'm not sure what it's TECHNICALLY called when you do an exercise that involves one limb and then the other except that when they're listed on a workout sheet, they're called one-arm...or one-legged...so wouldn't alternating limbed make sense?

It did in my head, but then again, I am pregnant so I swear that my brain is getting sucked out a little bit more every week.

Normally when I write anything regarding a workout, I call my husband in and go through the motion of the exercise saying, "What is this called again, honey?"

To which I receive an eye roll and a correct, technical answer.

But alas, he's at work and you are stuck with me and my own terminology...which you're probably just fine with since you've stuck with me this long and you know I'm not one of those trainer-people...I'm just a mama who likes to workout.

So anyway, back to my point...I have an hour in the gym and normally try to squeeze some form of cardio and weights into that time period.  Now, I have used this excuse of crunched time to avoid any exercise that calls for one-limb to be used at a time because I know you then have to workout the other limb next and it takes DOUBLE the time than if you would have just done both things together.  At the same time, I have mumbled and grumbled about my biceps, quads and calves especially, criticizing them for their lack of focus and definition.  Well, because it couldn't be my fault.  ha!

I started following a couple programs that called for lunges - really the single exercise I had been avoiding like the plague because they really "take a long time" - and I began to notice an immediate difference in not only my quads but also my rear-end jiggle.  Thinking that perhaps there was a trend to the idea, I began adding in one-armed bicep curls, single-leg calf raises, one-armed rows  and single-leg extensions on the machine.  Eureka!  Progress, finally!

Now, the key also was within the fact that I was using a weight that challenged me - meaning that I really couldn't get more than 10-12 reps if I wanted to - and that I kept moving onto a different exercise immediately afterwards.  Because I like to super-set my workouts, I began mixing up my single-limbed exercises with regular lifts.  So Biceps and Triceps would look something like this:

1-arm DB bicep curls alternated with
Tricep rope push down

Barbell curls alternated with
One-arm tricep extensions

Alternating DB hammer curls alternated with
Tricep bench dips

Mixing the exercises up like this eliminates much need to take a break and also gives the other body part an active rest - which also burns more calories in my short time span.  Oh, and speaking of time span, my workouts now take me no more time than the old ones...I was just being a Negative Nelly and avoiding harder movements, which also provided more results (go figure).

This would be so easy to apply at home - as you can do lunges anywhere or single-legged calf raises off the floor or front stoop, or (if you're up for the physcial challenge) even one-arm push ups (yikes!).  When I was younger, my mom and I would walk on the track at the high school and would finish doing walking lunges from one end of the track to the other.  We were very anti-rear-end jiggle back then.

Good luck!

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