Living with Harmony ~ A Blog for your Mind & Body

10 Back Exercises Using a Pull Up Bar

Posted in Core/Fitness,Doorway Gym Bar,How-To by Harmony on May 27, 2011

Try these ten different exercises to improve back muscle strength using your Doorway Gym / Chin Up Bar.  These versatile Gym Bars offer versatility to your exercise program.  Do chin ups, pull ups, press ups and sit ups with this bar, working a variety of muscles throughout your body.


10 Pull Up/Chin Up Variations

Posted in Core/Fitness,Doorway Gym Bar,How-To by Harmony on May 6, 2011

Add variety to your workout – try these variations to your chin up or pull up routine. Use a convenient Doorway Gym Bar which easily installs in a doorway frame of your home and still allows the door to close.

10 Ab Exercises with a Chin Up Bar

Posted in Core/Fitness,Doorway Gym Bar,How-To by Harmony on April 1, 2011

Granted, not all of these ab exercises can be done at home with your doorway chin up bar, but it will get the creativity flowing for your home practice!  These exercises are for those who are looking to advance their chin up routine.  Build up your strength with your home doorway chin up bar before taking your workout outside to the park like this gentleman.

Tips for Doorway Chin Up Bar

Posted in Core/Fitness,Doorway Gym Bar,How-To by Harmony on March 4, 2011

Having trouble getting started with your chin ups? Check out this short video for two suggestions on how to begin your practice and build up your strength using your at-home doorway chin up bar. The Sunny Health & Fitness doorway bar is called a gym bar because not only can it be installed at the top of your door frame for pull ups and chin ups, but in can also be installed at the bottom of the door frame for sit ups and press ups. Great to add variety to workout and to build all over body strength.

Tight IT Bands

Posted in Core/Fitness,Foam Roller,How-To,Yoga Strap by Harmony on February 4, 2011

Tight IT Bands are a frequent concern of runners.  Try this stretch using a rope or Yoga Strap or your could relieve the tightness by using a Foam Roller as well.

Relieve Your Tight Iliotibial Band

Add this active-isolated stretch to lengthen the ITB without causing harm.

By Jim and Phil Wharton  / Image by Asaf HanukaPublished 03/08/2007 (from Runners World)

Along with calloused feet and a tolerance for Gu, runners tend to develop tight iliotibial bands (ITB). The ITB is a sheath of connective tissue that runs from the gluteus to the outside of the shin just below the knee. It helps extend the knee and stabilize the leg during running. Overuse and inflexibility can shorten the ITB, causing hip and knee pain. Many runners attempt to counteract this with the ITB stretch shown here. But because it stresses the leg and back muscles, this stretch has the opposite effect. The ITB and surrounding muscles tighten against this pressure, irritating these areas. Our “active-isolated” method (below) allows you to lengthen the ITB without causing additional harm.

Don’t Do This

Leaning forward (for a greater stretch) stresses the lower back and groin muscles.

The forced muscle contraction stresses the hip and knee joints, which impedes circulation.

The angle of the knee puts pressure on the patellar tendon of the kneecap and the quadriceps.

Do This

Lie down with both legs out straight.

Put one foot in the loop of a rope, positioning the rope between your heel and the ball of your foot. Wrap the rope around the outside of the ankle so that its ends are on the inside.

Contract your adductors (inner thigh), and sweep the leg across your body, passing just above the other leg. Keep your knee locked.

Once you feel tension on the leg, gently pull on the rope to extend the range of the stretch just a little more.

Hold for one or two seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

Adductor (inner thigh) muscles are activated, which relaxes the opposing muscle group.

Abductor (outer thigh) muscles ease into the stretch instead of being forced and held in a static position.

Back and neck are supported and relaxed.

Balance & Stability : Plank w/ Knee Crossover

Posted in Balance Board/Wobble Board,Balance Discs,Core/Fitness,How-To by Harmony on December 17, 2010

A quick video showing how to perform this plank variation while on a Balance Board.

Balance Boards, Wobble Boards, and Balance Discs come in a variety of sizes and materials but essentially can be used interchangeably in a variety of exercises. Balance Boards, or Wobble Boards, are wood with a round base to create your unstable surface. While the Balance Discs are made of a soft inflatable vinyl.

Exercises for New Moms & You

Posted in Core/Fitness,Dumbells/Grip Weights,How-To,Mini Exercise Ball,Toning Balls by Harmony on December 10, 2010

Although these following exercises are intended for new mom’s trouble spots, you may find these exercises perfect for you too.  Two of these exercises use small exercise balls.  We carry three different sizes:  6″ Exercise/Body Rolling Ball, 7″ Exercise Therapy Ball, and a 9″ Exercise Therapy Ball.  These small vinyl inflatable balls have many uses so feel free to incorporate into other exercises, such as holding the ball between your hands during crunches.  The simple act of squeezing the ball between your legs or your hands activates additional muscles and brings more awareness to those areas.

The Wood Chop exercise is to be performed with a dumbbell or hand weight.  Check out these options:  Neoprene Dumbbell Weight Set (2, 3, 5lbs), Grip Weights (3 or 5lbs), or the Soft Weighted Toning Balls (2lbs).

Exercises to Tackle Your Trouble Spots

Exercise: Ball Squats

Ball Squats
Best for Thighs

Exercise: Ball Squats

Do It: In a standing position, place a beach ball between your thighs (you can also use a basketball or a pillow). Holding ball firmly, bend knees into squat position, as if you’re going to sit in a chair (make sure your knees don’t extend past toes). Hold for two counts; return to start position. Repeat 20 times.

Why It Works: This targets the front of your thighs, plus your inner thighs, which have to work to hold the ball in place.

Exercise: Wood Chop with Dumbbell

Wood Chop with Dumbell
Best for Allover Toning

Exercise: Wood Chop with Dumbbell

Do It: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight in front of you. Bend knees as if you’re sitting in a chair, so thighs are almost parallel with floor. As you bend, rotate shoulders to the left, bringing weight toward left knee. Straighten legs, twisting torso right as you raise weight diagonally over your right shoulder. Repeat 10 times; switch sides.

Why It Works: The squat incorporates your glutes and thighs, while the twisting motion targets your obliques, Pasternak explains.


Exercise: Walking Lunge with Trunk Twist

Walking Lunge with Trunk Twist
Best for Lower Body

Exercise: Walking Lunge with Trunk Twist

Do It: Start with feet together, holding a ball in front of you with both hands. Step forward three to four feet with right leg, as shown, lunging forward until thigh is parallel to floor, knee over ankle. As you lunge, twist torso right, keeping head and pelvis facing forward. Bring torso back to front. Pushing off with right heel, bring left foot forward into a lunge and twist torso to left. Do 20 lunges — 10 each side.

Why It Works: Lunges target glutes, quads, and hamstrings. The torso twist works your abs, particularly the obliques.

Originally published in the July 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

Exercises on a Half Foam Roller : Part 2

Posted in Core/Fitness,Foam Roller,How-To by Harmony on December 3, 2010

The following half-round foam roller exercises were provided by J/Fit – the manufacturer of our 12″ Half Round Roller and our 36″ Half Round Roller. The half-round rollers are made of a dense “open cell” foam and are available in either red or white (depending on availability). Our round foam rollers are a high-density closed cell foam.

When performing the following, place the half round roller lengthwise with your foot or hand and place the curved side of the roller to the floor. The rocking action, that you will counteract muscularly, will be side to side.

Exercise #1 : Standing Balance

Start by balancing one foot on a half-round foam roller. Lift opposite leg so that your toes barely touch the floor. As balance progresses, lift one leg higher taking the toes off the floor. Further progress into squats with one leg.

Exercise #2 : Reverse Lunges

Start in a standing position with left foot on half-round roller. Bend both knees at a 90-degree angle, keeping your hips towards the floor. Take a step backward and lower the knee towards the floor. Return to start. Do 8-12 reps and switch to right leg.

Exercise #3 : Push Ups

Get into a push-up position, placing one or both hands lengthwise on the half-round foam roller. (One hand at a time for beginners). With your head remaining neutral, slowly lower elbows out to 90-degrees and slowly lower yourself down to the floor.
Beginners: Keep knees touching the floor.
Advanced: Keep knees off the floor.

Balance & Stability Exercise – Side Step

Posted in Balance Board/Wobble Board,Balance Discs,Core/Fitness,How-To by Harmony on November 26, 2010

Develop your balance and stability skills by using a balance board or balance disc in your workout.  Learn how to do the Side Step by watching the following video – it’s just a few seconds long, so you can start practicing right away!

Here’s a quick summary comparing the balance board and balance discs:

Our round balance board is constructed of Birch wood and offers a 16″ diameter surface. The flat wood top is perched on a round base that allows for a 14-degree angle of difficulty to your workouts. A sandpaper surface makes it easy to stand on without slipping.

We offer two inflatable balance discs. Both are 13″ diameter. One balance disc is by JFit and is textured on both sides – one is knobby, and the other slightly textured to reduce slippage. Our Natural Fitness balance disc is smooth on one side, knobby on the other, but this balance disc is made with a non-toxic, eco-friendly, phthalate-free PVC elasticizer. The soft, inflatable balance discs are also a great tool to use to improve your posture. Place on the seat of your office chair and get the same benefits of using a stability ball without the bulk.

Balance & Stability : Plank w/ Crunch

Posted in Balance Board/Wobble Board,Balance Discs,Core/Fitness,How-To by Harmony on November 19, 2010

In seconds you can quickly learn how to use a balance board or a balance disc to increase the difficulty level of doing a Plank pose with a Crunch. Adding an unstable base to any exercise or pose will force you to incorporate additional muscles and will also train your proprioceptors to reduce the risk of injury.

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