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Workouts

Master Chest Day with the Perfect Chest Warm-Up

Male on a workout incline bench lifting 135 pounds of weight

We all have our favorite day at the gym, but let’s be honest it’s hard to beat Chest Day! To many, the routine is simple: hop on a bench and lift heavy. But what is oftentimes overlooked is the all-important warm-up. Sure, you could slap on a few 45lbs plates to a barbell and do a quick set of 10, but is that really considered a warm-up? A warm-up benefits you not only by helping avoid injuries but is also a top way to improve your overall performance. Coach Chris Lane, a loyal Titan Fitness customer, and Certified Personal Trainer stopped by to talk about the benefits of warming up before you hit the bench.

An adequate warm-up should last 5-20 minutes and achieve the following:

  1. Elevated heart rate
  2. Increased respiratory rate
  3. Increased flexibility
  4. Stimulated CNS and neuromuscular systems

By priming ourselves for movement, our training becomes much more focused and efficient. An adequate warm-up also decreases risk for injury. For those of us still in a time crunch and ready to dive under the bar, here is a “quick and dirty” shoulder health, mobility, and bench activation sequence that will get you activated and ready to bench!

The Perfect Bench Warm Up:

Equipment Needed:

The Warm-up:

Each exercise is performed at one set with the recommended rep count. Once you complete an exercise, jump immediately to the next.

  1. Up and overs | Reps: 10
  • How to perform: Start by standing sideway to your bench so that it is positioned to your right, you are going to step up with your right leg and place it on the bench. You are then going to step up and bring your left leg on to the bench. Now that both feet are on the bench, you will step down to the right starting with your right leg and then follow with your left. You should now be positioned so that the bench is on your left. You will then repeat the process. This time you will start by stepping up with your left leg and placing it on the bench and then follow with your right. Once both feet are on the bench, you will step down to the left, starting with your left leg and then followed by your right. This is one rep. Continue until you have completed 10 reps on each side.

2. Halos Right & Left | Reps: 5 each side

  • How to perform: Halos can be performed with a medicine ball, weight plate, dumbbell, or kettlebell. Do not choose a heavy weight, as this is meant to loosen up the muscles, not strain them. You will begin by standing straight with your shoulders relaxed. Hold your weight of choice in front of you. Lift the weight slightly above your shoulders in front of your face. Now take the weight and begin moving to the left, making a slow circle all the way around your head. Keep the weight close to your head throughout the circle but move slowly as to not bump your head throughout the movement. Once the weight has made a complete circle around your head, do the same movement in the reverse direction.

3. Internal Rotations | Reps: 10 each side

  • How to perform: This exercise will be performed with either a light dumbbell or exercise band. If you are using an exercise band you MUST safely secure it to a stationary object that will not move when tension is applied to the band. Tuck your right elbow into your side. With your right hand, hold either the dumbbell or exercise band at waist height, in front of you. Tuck your right elbow into your side and at a slow, controlled speed, rotate your arm so that your right hand is now in front of your torso. Once you are in this position, slowly rotate the weight back out to the starting position. This is one rep. Repeat with both arms.

4. External Rotations | Reps: 10

  • How to perform: This exercise is similar to the internal rotations, but this time instead of rotating your arm so that it ends up in front of your torso, we will be rotating it away from your body. This will be performed with either a light dumbbell or exercise band. If you are using an exercise band you MUST safely secure it to a stationary object that will not move when tension is applied to the band. Tuck your right elbow into your side. With your right hand, hold either the dumbbell or weight band at waist height, in front of you. Tuck your right elbow into your side and at a slow, controlled speed, rotate your arm so that your right hand and forearm are now perpendicular to your body. Once you are in this position, slowly rotate the weight back out to the starting position. This is one rep. Repeat with both arms.

5. Overhead Slams | Reps: 10

  • How to perform: For this exercise, all you need is a medicine ball. Start by standing with your feet nearly shoulder-width apart. Grab your medicine ball with both hands and hold it over your head. With a slight bend in your knees, slam the medicine ball to the ground in front of you as hard as you can. Do not lean over the area that you slam the ball and be careful that the ball does not bounce back and hit you. Catch the ball on the bounce and repeat the motion, starting again with the ball over your head.

6. Chest Slams | Reps: 10

  • How to perform: For this exercise, all you will need is a medicine ball. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. With both hands on either side of the medicine ball, pull the ball up to your chest with your fingers pointing away from your body. Hinge at the waist so that your upper body is almost parallel to the floor. Now push the ball away from your body to the floor, as if you were doing a chest pass in basketball. Once the ball bounces back, catch it and do it again. Be careful not to let the ball bounce back and hit you. Choose a pace that you are comfortable with.

7. Barbell Pushup | Reps: 10

  • How to perform: Take your barbell and place it on the floor. If you have any 5 to 10 lbs. weight plates, place one on each side of the bar. Start by grabbing the bar with both hands, roughly shoulder width apart. Get into normal push up position, while still holding on to the bar, and perform a push up. Be careful to keep the barbell stable, as it will want to roll away during the push phase. Keeping the barbell under your shoulders adds additional core resistance.

8. Lat Stretch | 20 seconds

  • How to perform: For this exercise, you will need either a bench, chair, or exercise ball for support. Start by getting down on all fours and placing your support item in front of you. Fully extend both your right and left arm and place both of your hands on top of your support item. The outside of your hands should be resting on the support item with your thumbs facing the ceiling. Slowly begin pressing your chest towards the ground, as if you were trying to touch the ground with your chest. Hold for 20 seconds and then slowly pull yourself back up.

Now that you have completed your warm-up it’s time to tackle chest day. Always remember to lift with controlled movements and ask for a spotter whenever you are lifting weights over your body.

For more fitness tips follow @coachchrislane on Instagram.  #BeTitanFit

Categories
Equipment Guides

How to Choose the Right Types of Weights for You: Buyer’s Guide

If you want to start lifting weights, but don’t know which to buy, what size, or which kind, then this article is for you. We’re going to get you right on track when it comes to introducing weights into your workouts. Dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells are great pieces of equipment that will elevate your fitness routine to the next level.

Guide to Buying Dumbbells for Beginners 


Dumbbells are a great introduction to lifting weights because they’re easy to use, are extremely versatile, and last a lifetime. There are 3 common types of dumbbells; rubber coated hex, neoprene, and adjustable. Here’s a brief breakdown of each:

Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells: Ranging from 5 lbs to 50 lbs with easy-to-grip handles and black, shock-absorbing heads on either side, these particular dumbbells are perhaps the best weight sizes for beginners.

Neoprene Dumbbells: Usually Ranging from 5 lbs to 10 lbs with finger friendly handling, these dumbbells are a great option for those looking to incorporate an aerobic component to their weight training. And let’s be honest, the colorful neoprene coating makes them almost impossible to lose!

Adjustable Dumbbells: Ranging from 5 lbs to 100 lbs with the flexibility to tweak your training in a jiffy, these dumbbells will lift you to your desired fitness results: whether that be as a novice lifter, or an Olympic level athlete.

We recommend starting anywhere between 5 lbs and 20 lbs and then slowly increasing weight each week. Here’s an example: 


Dumbbell Bench Press: Week 1-3×8 at 20 lbs / Week 2-3×10 at 20 lbs / Week 3-3×8 at 25 lbs / Week 4-3×10 at 25 lbs

How to Buy the Right Kettlebell

While dumbbells are great for sculpting muscle and building strength, they may not be the best option for endurance training. Enter the kettlebell.

Cast Iron Kettlebells: No nonsense. No bells and whistles. Just a tool that works and is as durable as the day is long. Cast iron kettlebells are a solid piece of metal, with a wide handle, allowing you to use two hands if necessary.

Competition: If you’re looking to compete in a CrossFit competition in the future, then look no further. The competition kettlebell has a more square design. The handle is smaller than a cast iron kettlebell, designed to be used with just one hand. Ranging from 18 lbs to 88 lbs, these kettlebells will build your body into a WOD machine!

Adjustable: If you’re low on space but high on motivation, then outfitting your gym with Adjustable kettlebells is a no-brainer  These kettlebells allow you to have the luxury of owning varying weights, all in one kettlebell. They also allow you to stack or strip weight under the handle to meet you where you’re at. 

We recommend starting anywhere between 18 lbs to 35 lbs and then slowly increasing weight each week. Here’s an example:

Kettlebell swings: Week 1-3×12 at 26 lbs / Week 2-3×15 at 26 lbs / Week 3-3×12 at 35 lbs / Week 4-3×15 at 35 lbs

What are the Best Barbells for Beginners 

For the uninformed, barbells are well, bars, that allow you to load more weight onto them than you would for a dumbbell, or kettlebell. But, they’re great on their own without weight, too. By increasing your reps, you can still gain that muscle you’re aiming towards.

Olympic Barbells: Our Olympic barbells are multi-functional and can accommodate those looking to make some serious gains this year, or those looking to be more functionally fit.

Specialty Bars: Barbells are kinda like eggs: we’ve all had eggs, but there’s always new ways to make eggs. Each specialty bar provides a new way to make gains.

Fixed Weight: Ranging from 20 lbs to 110 lbs, what you see is what you get with Fixed Weight Barbells. Nothin’ fancy. Just work.

We recommend starting anywhere between 45 lbs and 95 lbs and then slowly increasing weight each week. Here’s an example:

Barbell Complex: Week 1-3×10 with barbell / Week 2-3×12 with barbell / Week 3-3×15 with barbell / Week 4-3×20 with barbell 

Deadlifts: Week 1-3×5 at 95 lbs / Week 2-3×5 at 100 lbs / Week 3-3×5 at 105 lbs / Week 4-3×5 at 110 lbsSo, now that you know which size weights to buy as well as which kinds, doesn’t it make sense  to invest in the only body you’ve got and get some actual weight in your home gym?

Categories
Equipment Guides

Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells: Which Is Better for You?

It’s one of the most common debates in fitness: Which is better, kettlebells or dumbbells?

To answer this, it’s better to first rephrase the question: Should you use both kettlebells and dumbbells in your fitness regimen? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” As you’ll find, kettlebells and dumbbells each bring distinctive benefits to any type of workout routine, whether you’re concentrating on strength training, muscle building, cardio, or weight-reducing exercises.

Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells: Which Is Better?

First off, one really isn’t better than the other, in general. While both are used in a variety of similar routines, each also offers separate and distinct benefits that the other can’t provide.

Before we get started, here’s a brief description of kettlebells and dumbbells, with an explanation of how they’re used. 

What Are Kettlebells?

A kettlebell is an iron or steel ball (known as a “bell”) that’s equipped with a handle on the top. The handle can be of varying shapes, depending on the type of kettlebell. A standard kettlebell has a wider handle that extends beyond the width of the bell. A competitive kettlebell has a slimmer handle that aligns with, and lies flush to, the sides of the bell. These handle widths dictate the types of exercises that can be done with each style of kettlebell.

A kettlebell is a great piece of all-in-one equipment that allows you to do many of the exercises you can achieve with a dumbbell, but it allows for an even greater range of motion. This means you can do all types of swings and rotation movements that aren’t really suited to a dumbbell.

Kettlebells are ideal for a wide range of strength training, resistance training, muscle building, cardio, and calorie-burning exercises. Essentially, kettlebells can also replace dumbbells in many of these types of exercises, except for certain specific muscle-isolation routines where a dumbbell would be easier to handle.

As an example of a top-notch kettlebell, Titan Fitness offers this Adjustable Competition Style Kettlebell, which is designed so you can add or remove a screw to adjust the weight from approximately 26 pounds to 70 pounds. This allows you to perform a variety of weight exercises by using one single piece of equipment.  

What Are Dumbbells?

A dumbbell is made of a short bar with a weight (or multiple weights) attached to each end. These weights are usually a small type of weight plate — a round, flat disc — but they can also be balls or cubes made of iron, metal, urethane, or rubber. With many dumbbells, these weights are permanently attached, but you can also find adjustable dumbbells that allow you to attach and customize weights.

A dumbbell is primarily used for muscle building and muscle isolation exercises. When you think of dumbbells, you probably picture them being used in a classic biceps curl. However, when used in a pair, you can also use them for numerous total body routines.

As an example of an excellent dumbbell that packs a punch, Titan Fitness sells a top-quality urethane dumbbell you can buy in pairs, in weights ranging from 10152050, and 55 pounds. These dumbbells are crafted of durable round urethane that’s shaped and molded around a chrome-finished solid steel handle. The dumbbell handle is designed with medium-depth knurling, so it can provide superlative grip and security during lifts.

Here’s a quick look at several construction differences between kettlebells and dumbbells:

  • Kettlebells are weighted below the handle, while dumbbells are weighted at both ends. This changes the center of gravity.
  • Kettlebells are either constructed of cast iron or steel, while dumbbells are constructed of a variety of materials, including rubber and urethane.
  • Kettlebell handles are made for one or two hands, while dumbbell handles are short, and can only accommodate one hand.

 Benefits of Kettlebells

  • Great for using in a wide range of swings and movements
  • Perfect for balance, strength, and endurance training
  • Ideal for muscle-isolation and muscle-building routines, as well as core strength exercises
  • Great for non-running cardiovascular workouts to increase heart rate
  • Ideal for fat-burning workouts
  • Can increase flexibility and mobility and improve posture
  • Great for posterior chain, lower body, and even powerlifting workouts
  • Require little to no training or equipment space
  • Great for specific muscle groups, core strength, and areas such as hamstrings, glutes, plus upper and lower body strength
  • Great for full-body and bodybuilding workouts

Benefits of Dumbbells

  • Great for improving grip strength, and building muscle and strength in forearms
  • Can activate multiple different muscles
  • Can stimulate muscle growth
  • Can improve muscle force and flexibility
  • Can promote coordination
  • Great for a wide range of muscle-isolating and muscle-building exercises
  • Great for specific muscle groups including hamstrings, glutes, upper and lower body strength, and core strength
  • Can be used for full-body and bodybuilding workouts

Ultimately, the best home gym should have a kettlebell as well as several pairs of dumbbells of varying weights. And the good news is, thanks to its business model of offering top-quality equipment at low prices, you can afford both dumbbells and a quality kettlebell if you purchase your home gym equipment from Titan Fitness.

Losing Weight With Kettlebells

Can you actually lose weight with kettlebells? It may come as a surprise, but the answer is yes. According to research done by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), kettlebells provide an excellent way to get high-impact cardio training. In fact, with just a 20-minute kettlebell workout, you can get the same calorie-burning results that you would with a longer routine using a treadmill and weights. The ACE study showed that, on average, you can burn 272 calories in a 20-minute kettlebell workout by using a few simple snatch routines, switching the kettlebell to opposite hands. At 20 calories a minute, this is the same level you would burn at a six-minute mile pace while running.

Losing Weight With Dumbbells

Can you lose weight with dumbbells? The good news is yes, dumbbells can be great for helping you accomplish your weight goals. The ACE recommends a number of dumbbell exercises to burn calories and fat, including various squats and lifts you can find here.

Kettlebell Exercises to Try

When we think of training with free weights, we usually think of classic bench presses, squats, cleans, and deadlifts with barbells, but you can perform some of these exercises with kettlebells as well. And the great advantage to kettlebells is that they don’t take up nearly as much room — plus, they’re much more affordable.

Here are several beginner kettlebell exercises that also have weight training and weightlifting benefits:

Squats

  • Stand with your feet apart (at shoulder width, and point your feet out a bit). Grasp the kettlebell handle along the sides, and using both hands, hold it at chest height.
  • Bend your hips and knees, and make a deep squat, bringing your butt past your knees.
  • Push with your heels to raise yourself up again to the starting position. Continue reps as desired. You can also change up your goblet squats, and other types of squats, by using a kettlebell.

Classic Kettlebell Swing

  • Standing with your feet apart (shoulder width), grasp the kettlebell handle at the top, using both hands.
  • Slightly bend your knees, and hinge forward at your hips, swinging the kettlebell between your legs.
  • Raise yourself back up, and driving your hips, swing the kettlebell to chest height.

Once you’re become more accustomed to kettlebells (and built up your strength), you can progress to this classic kettlebell workout:

Chest Press

  • Lie flat on the floor and bend your knees.
  • Grasp the kettlebell in one hand, and lift the kettlebell overhead in front of your chest.
  • Lower it back down, and repeat for the desired reps. You can also change this routine up by performing a shoulder press.

Essentially, kettlebells can be used for a wide variety of lateral raises, overhead presses, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, and other types of resistance training routines. When done regularly, kettlebell training can provide the same benefits that many lifters achieve with heavier weights.

Are Kettlebells Safe?

The answer is yes, just as long as you use them safely. This means following safe lifting practices, and choosing the safest weight for your fitness level. If you have a physical trainer, be sure to get their advice before making a purchase. And to help you get started, the Harvard Medical School has a list of simple exercises you can do to accustom yourself to kettlebells before you start your workouts.

Alternatives to Kettlebells

If you don’t have a kettlebell yet, several types of equipment can replace kettlebells in a variety of exercises, including:

  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance bands
  • Wrist bands with weights
  • Cables and pulleys (especially if you have a power rack)

These types of equipment each have their limitations, however. That’s the great thing about kettlebells — you can perform so many exercises with one single piece of equipment.

Choosing a Kettlebell: What to Consider Before Buying

Training Style

Do you prefer working on your core strength with weight-resistance training, or are you a recreational lifter looking for a total-body regimen? Do you prefer dynamic movements that work your muscles, or explosive movements? Whether you choose a standard kettlebell or a competitive kettlebell depends on your training goals, as well as the routines you’ll most likely want to perform. Typically, a standard kettlebell can handle most popular routines, but some specific exercises might be better performed with a competitive kettlebell.

Price

Due to their weight and construction, kettlebells can be pricey. But thanks to Titan Fitness, you can equip yourself with a premium kettlebell like our 40 KG Competition Kettlebell without paying a premium price. In fact, we even sell a choice of home gym packages, including a fantastic Home Gym Starter Package that includes a power rack, barbell, and bench — all premium quality, without the premium costs. Plus, at Titan Fitness, you’ll get free shipping on every order, so you’ll be able to save up for even more gym equipment. And every item comes with our one-year warranty, so you can buy with confidence.

Handles

Before buying, you’ll need to decide whether you want a standard or competitive kettlebell — remember, the difference is in the handle. The standard kettlebell has a wide handle, which makes it especially versatile. The competitive kettlebell has a slimmer handle, making it ideal for specific competitive movements like jerks and snatches.

Weight

What weight kettlebell should you buy? It depends on your current fitness level, as well as your training goals. Fitness experts usually recommend starting with 33 pounds for men, or 18 pounds for women. If you’ve already been strength training, however, you can increase these weights to 35 pounds for men, and 26 pounds for women.

Final Thoughts

Whether you want a full-body workout or have specific fitness goals, kettlebells and dumbbells are valuable additions to any home gym. With both kettlebells and dumbbells, you can make major progress toward your fitness goals. But kettlebells can help you do a wide range of exercises that will bring you positive results in a shorter time period.

Are you ready to take your workouts to a whole new level? Titan Fitness can help you improve your workout and equip your home gym with the best, most affordable equipment on the market. Check out our online store, and learn how to equip your home gym at prices you can afford.