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After 14 years in the fitness industry, I’ve seen my fair amount of products come and go; tested out great ones and tried out some ridiculous ones. A few remain my favourites: the stability ball, gliding disks, the TRX and the Equalizer bars. The theme among my faves are sturdy equipment that facilitates stability, agility and core strength. Today, I’m going to talk about the benefits of the Equalizer bars. From athlete to beginner exerciser, the Equalizer bars are a fantastic way to develop strength through the back of the body. We live in a world of mostly forward movement: the actions of walking, reaching, carrying and climbing stairs are primarily dominated by the muscles that cover the front of our bodies. The back of our bodies are often neglected and misused leading to back and other joint problems. In my opinion, One of the best ways to work the back muscles is by doing bar pull-ups. Unfortunately, most of us can barely pull ourselves up to the bar once. Enter the Equlaizer: lying on your back with the bars parallel and shoulder width apart, hold onto the bars and pull your torso up. Too hard? No problem. Just bend your knees with heels close to the behind to make it easier. Similiar to a hanging bar pull up, you can vary the width and angle of the Equalizer bars to target different muscles of the back. Alternate these back strengthening exercises with a forward and a side plank and you are on your way to a solid core.
We can’t forget the glutes (butt in layperson’s terms). Many of us have a tight lower back often related to weak glutes and core. Strong glutes help to take unnecessary strain out of the lower back and reduce back injury. One of my favourite exercises is the hip lift. The Equalizer allows us to vary this classic exercise in a couple ways. Lying on your back with the heels on the equalizer you can perform a hip lift with a flexed ankle to train dorsiflexion, release the calf muscle and target glutes and hamstrings. Dorsiflexion (the movement of pulling the toes towards the shins) can be limited in individuals who wear high heels or have tight ankles. Immobility of the ankle joint can cause knee problems and effect your squat. When your ankle lacks mobility, the knee joint will suffer by taking on extra movement that it is not designed to do. When the heels are pressing into the top of the equalizer it facilitates dorsiflexion. Also, the action of dorsiflexion creates a stretch in the calf muscle (another overworked muscle) so that it can relax allowing the glutes and hamstrings to dominate the movement. A final note on the hip lift: be cautious that you don’t lift up so high with the hips that you fire the back muscles. If you’re feeling too much work in the small of the back, do not lift up as high and focus on squeezing your behind. Start incorporating the pulls ups and hip lifts now into your workout and see how great your back side will feel! Here is a tip: if you’re doing a full body workout, use the 75:25 rule. Split the workout into 75 % back of the body muscles and 25% for the front of the body to create a more balanced physique.
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