Best Exercises: Our Top 10
by Carolina Diaz-Bordon
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7. LAT PULLDOWN -- Extend your arms up and reach for a straight bar with an overhand grip. Sit tall with your knees supported under the leg pad with the knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. Your arms should be wider than shoulder width apart with a slight bend in the elbows. Make sure to relax your shoulders and keep your chest lifted. Contracting the upper back muscles, pull the bar down leading with the elbows stopping when the bar is just above your chest. Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the weight stack touching. Repeat for 12 reps.
8. DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISES -- Stand with feet shoulder width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Hold a dumbbell or cans in each hand with your arms down at your sides and palms facing your legs. Contracting the outer shoulder muscles, raise both arms out to the sides stopping when your arms are slightly higher than shoulder level. Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the weights touching your body. Perform 12-15 reps.
9. SEATED ALTERNATING DUMBBELL INCLINE CURL -- Position yourself on an adjustable weight bench and place the notch for the back part of the unit three holes up from the bottom. People get confused when I talk degrees, so I'll make it easier for you. You should be on a relatively steep incline with your back supported. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the arms hanging down at your sides and palms facing your body.
Keep your wrists straight throughout the exercise. Contracting the biceps muscles, bend your right arm at the elbow while turning your wrist until your palm is facing the ceiling stopping when the weight is just short of touching your shoulder.
Contract tight in this position for a full two-second count. Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the elbow fully extending. The hand should not begin to turn towards your body until you reach your hip. Repeat motion with the left arm and alternate right and left for 10 - 12 repetitions on each side. The upper arm should remain stationary throughout the movement. Do not swing your elbows!
10. BENCH DIPS -- Using two benches or chairs, sit on one. Place palms on the bench with fingers wrapped around the edge. Beginners should start with feet on the floor and knees at a 90-degree angle. As you progress, move your feet out further until your legs are straight with a slight bend in the knees. Then use another chair/bench and place both feet on the other bench. Slide your upper body off the bench with your elbows nearly but not completely locked. Lower your upper body slowly toward the floor until your elbows are bent slightly more than 90 degrees. Contracting your triceps muscles, extend your elbows returning to the starting position stopping just short of the elbows fully extending. Return to the start and contract the triceps. Perform 12 reps.