Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inverted row – Another silly body weight exercise!!!

Anywhere in the globe you will find people in the gym bench pressing and pounding in pounds. Imagine yourself bench pressing in this particular movement you lift the barbell towards you. The inverted row is a movement that is exactly opposite of the bench press. Yes, the inverted row is a pulling movement where you get your chest towards the bar and then you lower yourself down.

Barbell rows Vs. The inverted rows
Barbell Rows – If you want size on your back, barbell rows should be implemented in your exercise regime.
This exercise has the largest muscle activation from the lower to the upper back [1]. However, the barbell row has some issues that can be contraindicated to certain section of the population.  If the form is compromised there is a likelihood of the person injuring himself. Secondly, it has been suggested that in barbell rowing spinal (lumbar) loading increases and that resulted in increased spine stiffness [1].

In comparison inverted row elicited the highest activation of the latissimus dorsi muscle, upper back and the hip extensor muscles.  Normally, the upper back gets neglected in a typical workout routine.  Please note the middle fibres and the lower fibres of the trapezius,  the rhomboids are part of the upper back.  Furthermore, the activation of the lower fibres of the trapezius improves shoulder stability
[2]. Research has posited that the inverted row elicited the lowest activation of the lumbar that directly minimised lumbar loading [2].

The benefits of the inverted row –
  • Shoulder health
  • Reduced spinal loading (no lower back strain)
  • Functionality and core training

Execution of the Inverted row:

  1. Feet placement determines the level of difficulty
For beginners placing their feet on the ground, you can increase the level of difficulty by placing the feet on a bench or on a stability ball.

  1. Maintain neutral spine
Your spine should be in line or maintain the normal curvature of your back.  Keep you glutes (butt) elevated.

  1. Chest up
In this position your shoulder maintains its natural position and this enables the activation of the trapezius.

  1. Position of the head
Maintain the natural distance between your chin and your collar (clavicle) bone. This will again enable you to maintain your neutral position.

Please note
  • You are always in control
  • Pull from the elbows and your upper back
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the movement





  1. Fenwick, CMJ, Brown, SHM, and McGill, SM. Comparison of different rowing exercises: Trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load and stiffness. J Strength Cond Res 23(5): 1408-1417, 2009
  2. Michael J. DePalma, MD; Ernest W. Johnson, MD. Detecting and Treating Shoulder Impingement Syndrome. The Physician and Sport Medicine 2003; 31(7 ): 1-10 
    Frank Mapranny, 
    HOD Fitness, 
    Your Fitness Club

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Corn cook

Monsoon is the time when corn floods the market and is consumed in a variety of forms from boiled to roasted and as a curry. There is no mixing of artificial flavours which retains the natural sweet taste. Adding butter and salt makes corn tastier. The demand escalates during monsoons as a cup of hot and fresh corn makes one happy.

Here are few corn snack recipes which you can munch while gazing the rains !!

Corn timbales.

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 stalks –fresh corn
  • 3 - beaten eggs
  • 1 cup - skimmed milk
  • 1 cup - fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ cup - minced onion
  • ½ cup - chopped capsicum
  • 1 tsp – sugar
  • ½ cup - grated cheese
  • ½ tsp - baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons butter.
  • salt, pepper, mustard to taste


1. Sauté onions in oil till light brown, add capsicums and stir till soft.
    Add in corn and cook for 5 mins, remove from fire.
2. Mix the eggs, salt, pepper, mustard, sugar, bread crumbs, baking powder and warm  
     milk together. Add these to the corn mixture and stir in the cheese.
3. Pour into greased moulds or muffin pans and bake in a moderately hot oven for 30      
4. Top each timbale with a pineapple bit or tomato slice and serve on a bed of shredded

Corn Dhoklas
  • 2 stalks Fresh corn
  • 2 cups  Gram flour
  • 1 cup sour curd
  • 2 tsp Ginger-chilli paste:
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ajwain
  • a pinch -Baking soda
  • Salt to taste.

For tadka:
  • 2 tsp oil
  •  ½ tsp  Mustard seeds
  • A pinch Asafoetida
  • 5-6 Curry leaves
  • 2 tsp Coriander
  1. Grind the all corn seeds in to paste in a mixer; the paste should not be very fine.
  2. Take this paste of corn in a big bowl; add 2 cups of gram flour and 1 cup of sour curd.
  3. Mix it well and keep it aside for 2 hours for fermentation.
  4. After 2- 2 ½  hrs, take the mixture, add ginger chilli paste, salt to taste, ajwain powder, turmeric and water as per need to make it consistency of dhokla batter.
  5. In the end add baking soda and mix it thoroughly.
  6. Pour this mixture in a pre greased pan.
  7. Keep this pan in microwave high for 7 minutes.
  8. After five minutes of removing it from microwave cut it into square pieces with a knife.

  For Tadka:
For tadka heat oil in a pan when heated add mustard, and curry leaves and asafoetida(hing) in to it. Pour this tadka on the set and cut dhokla evenly.
Serve hot, garnished with coriander and grated coconut.
 Serve with tomato sauce.

It's truly said  that corn is a starchy vegetable and therefore has more carbohydrates and calories than other veggies. However, the chances of overeating corn the way you may overeat other high carb foods is slim to none.
Corn calories are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin B1, and vitamin B5. In other words...the nutritional value of corn is worthy of considering! It's NOT a source of "empty" calories like so many other "starchy" foods.
Corn is packed with health-protective substances called beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein. These are the carotenoids (plant chemicals) that give corn it's yellow color and they have disease protecting effects.
There's no need to fear an ear of corn.

Reya K Pahuja
 Your Fitness Club.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Exercise of the week – Walking lunges

Walking lunges is an exercise that gives overall leg development by targeting the quads and hamstrings, additionally; they hit the gluteus maximus muscles. This exercise will tone and tighten your legs. They will even add a little roundness to your rear end. To perform this exercise you need to be in control and take the movement slow. In this manner you can execute the exercise to perfection and place maximum overload on the target muscles.

Exercise advice:
Get a pair of dumbbells or place a barbell on your back.  You will need an empty place that is unobstructed. Taking a healthy stride forward (walk) and move forward. It is important that when you plant your striding foot your knee stays perpendicular to the floor and does not extend past that point.

This movement challenges the upper body a lot, specifically, this exercise require a lot of balance. Please do not perform this with barbell on your back if you have balance issues. The easier way to challenge yourself is to use your own bodyweight.

Frank Mapranny, 
HOD Fitness, 
Your Fitness club

Monday, June 20, 2011

Squatting myths !!!

Squat is the crowned king of lower body exercises. The benefits of this powerful exercise are associated to hypertrophy - overall increase in lean muscle mass, calorie expenditure and hormonal release. Squats invariably can be performed with different variations, these variations include Back Squat, Front Squat, Ball Squat and Unilateral squats. The movement involved in squatting is a co-ordinated natural movement that is normally practiced while performing activities of daily living. In an Asian population, an average individual do certain movements to a full flexion of the knee (111degree – 165 degree). A perfect example would be sitting cross legged; one requires 90 degree – 100 degree of hip flexion and a full knee flexion [1]. However, there has been a healthy debate amongst coaches, strength athletes and fitness professionals that squatting is bad for your knees. Specifically, the knee joint goes through a lot of stress that will invariably compromise the stability of the knee joint, if it passes the toe line.

Squatting is a compound and a multi-joint movement exercise that requires the involvement of three joints – ankle, knee and the hip where flexion and extension is involved. Moreover, the movement is initiated on all three joints. Any pre-dominance of any joints, especially, during the initiation of the movement would result in the over loading of that specific joint.

Knee joint
Restricting the knee joint (not ahead the toe-line) while squatting invariably with a dominance on hip flexion. The body has to then compensate that leads to increase spinal loading, especially, lumbar loading. Researchers have suggested that the knee torque was slightly less in squat when the forward displacement of the knee was restricted [2]. However, hip torque was substantially increased. They suggested that restricting the knee resulted in the forces being inappropriately transferred to the hips and the lumbar region. Therefore, appropriate joint loading while squatting may require freedom of movement on the knees i.e. to move slightly passed the toes.

Squatting deep is bad for the knees
In our activities of daily living (ADL), we normally squat deep and this happens on a regular basis. Researchers have suggested that the force experienced on the knee in 70, 90 and 110 degree flexion of the knee joint. 70 degree can be explained as a quarter of a squat, 90 degree can be explained as a parallel squat where the femur is parallel to the floor and 110 degree can be explained as a full squat. In 110 degree, knee flexion the knee passes the toes. This study suggested that the amount of stress or force experienced on the joint was not that significant in all the three range of movement. In simpler terms, the amount of stress experienced by the knee joint did not warrant an immediate contraindication on this particular movement restriction.

Now as a trainer we need to be aware that the tibiofemoral and patellfemoral compressive force are greatest in the closed kinetic chain exercise at full flexion and squat is a good example of a closed kinetic chain exercise. Interestingly, the greatest tension on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was actually found in the open kinetic chain exercises, at or near the full extension position [3]

Now the question that keeps arising is should we allow a clients’ knees to go past the toe line? The answer to this question is subjective. An individual with specific knee based issues have to go through rehab to develop the muscles and ligaments surrounding the knees. The job of fitness trainers are multidimensional and the trainer has to be aware of the clients’ condition to assess and analyse the functionality of the exercise. This can be only done through proper counselling and health screening of the clients. It is very important to teach a member to squat using their body weight, as this is an important preconditioning before loading the members with weight.

 It is common knowledge that the body is not designed to work in just one plane but it is designed to work in quite a few planes together. Hence, exercises like the hack squat, leg press and smith machine are fixed axis machine and makes the body adjust to one line of axis. This unnatural movement makes the body to compensate and in time may lead to injury. 


[1] S.J. Mulholland and U.P. Wyss (2001). Activities of daily living in non-Western cultures: range of motion requirements for hip and knee joint implants. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 24, 191 – 198.

[2] Fry AC, Smith JC, Shilling BK. (2003). Effect of knee position on hip and knee torques the barbell squat. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,17(4): 629-633.

[3] Escamilla R, Fleisig G, Zheng N, Barrentine S, Wilk K, Andrews J. Biomechanics of the knee during closed kinetic chain and open kinetic chain exercises. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 30(4); Pp 556-569. 1998.

Frank Mapranny
Head of Fitness
Your fitness club Pvt.Ltd