Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast – the most important meal of the day. Not only does it replenish you from a night without food, it also provides you with the energy and nutrients that you need start your day right. Studies show that breakfast is important in maintaining a healthy body weight, especially if you’re exercising.

Here at Big 5, with our early morning starts, we know first-hand how important it is to get a good head start on the day. So, we’ve compiled some of our favourite healthy breakfast recipes to give you some good ideas, next time you’re stuck in the kitchen.

Healthy, Hearty Omelet

It’s hard to have an omelet without the guilt. However, when you have time in the morning, a good hot breakfast can set the tone for a productive day. This recipe combines a home-style favourite with some healthy ingredients, allowing you to indulge without all the guilt. This hearty meal will keep you fuelled for the day ahead, helping you resist unhealthy snacks along the way!

Ingredients:

  • 2 x large eggs
  • 1 x tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley or chives, or both
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ x cup grated low-fat cheese
  • 1 x tsp canola oil

Optional extras:

  • Ham or bacon
  • Smoked salmon
  • Tomatoes
  • Capsicum
  • Onion
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Any other favourite vegetables 

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk your eggs, egg whites, parsley, chives salt and pepper.
  2. Using a non-stick pan, heat oil over medium flame. Add the canola oil and any of the ‘optional extras’ that need to be cooked (like the onions, bacon, capsicum, tomatoes, and so on) and cook until ready. This usually takes around two to three minutes.
  3. Pour in the egg mixture over the top of your ‘optional extras’. The mixture will set fairly quickly around the edges. Tilt the pan to make sure that any uncooked egg is cooked. Continue to cook until surface of the omelet is no longer liquid.
  4. Once almost done, top with cheese and then fold egg in half and transfer carefully to a plate. 

healthy breakfast ideas omelete

Protein Packed Breakfast Smoothie

In amongst the morning rush, you may not have time to sit and eat a hot breakfast (let alone prepare one!). Why not opt for a protein packed smoothie—the perfect on-the-go meal—to keep you fuelled throughout the day. With only five ingredients, this smoothie is gluten-free and filled with a whole lot of goodness!

Ingredients:

  • ¾ x cup blueberries
  • ¾ x cup blackberries
  • 1 x banana
  • 150 x gms plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 x cup soy milk

Optional extras:

  • Your protein powder of choice

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend for approximately 30 seconds. Check. Blend for another 30 seconds if required.
  3. Serve immediately.

 

healthy breakfast ideas smoothies


Building Muscle: Why It’s So Important

No matter your age, gender or fitness level, building muscle should be a top priority.

When we talk about ‘building muscle’, people often imagine turning themselves into a big, muscly body-builder. While this is a natural first reaction, that’s not what we’re talking here (unless that’s what you’re aiming for!). We simply mean building and maintaining an optimum level of muscle mass and strength for your body type.

To function normally and undertake even the most routine of activities (like sitting down, standing up, and climbing stairs), we must all have a musculoskeletal system that is in pristine working order. At Big 5 Fitness, we place emphasis on building and maintaining muscle, while reducing fat.

If you don’t train or stick to any particular dietary regime, muscle mass generally peaks from 18 to 25 years old in men, and 16 to 20 years old in women. Optimum muscle strength can be expected a little later, at about age 20 for women, and age 30 for men.

After our early twenties, building and maintaining muscle must be a top priority to stop the otherwise inevitable declines in strength and agility, and increases in fat and weight gain due.

Keep reading to find out why building and maintain muscle should be a top priority.

Muscle Promotes Insulin Sensitivity
Muscle plays a number of very important roles in your health and wellbeing, particularly when it comes to your metabolic health. Muscle is able to store glucose (which is also known as carbohydrates) as glycogen. Thus is the fuel that our bodies use every time we move (whether we’re lifting weights or using a computer). Muscle is basically your own private store of glycogen, which you deplete when you move or exercise, and top up when you eat carbohydrates.

As such, it is crucial to build muscle when trying to maintain a healthy metabolism—muscle ensures you use the calories from recently consumed carbohydrates for your daily activities, as opposed to turning these calories into stored fat.

Muscles Help Increase Your Metabolic Rate
Following on from insulin sensitivity, it seems that the more muscle mass, the higher your resting metabolic rate. So, even if you’re doing absolutely nothing, your body will still burn calories—all thanks to your muscles.

One kilo of muscle uses approximately 12 calories to sustain itself, as compared to one kilo of fat, which uses just 4 calories per day.

And, if you’ve done a resistance training workout (preferably at Big 5 Fitness), you’ll burn even more calories because your muscles will then be ‘activated’.

Muscle Helps Fight The Signs of Ageing
Amongst the elderly, there are dangerous symptoms and consequences associated with loosing muscle mass and gaining fat, making muscle retention vital after the on-set of middle age. As we get older, we generally slow down or stop exercising altogether, which accelerates the rate of muscle loss.

If you don’t regularly use your muscles, they can deteriorate rapidly. To keep your muscle mass and strength in peak condition, then you must dedicate time and energy to maintaining it. As you get older, your body has more than enough jobs to do without trying to maintain your muscle mass and strength for no particular reason. Your muscles naturally begin to break down, with your body focusing on maintaining the functionality of your heart, lungs and other vital organs. If this starts to occur, then you become more susceptible to falls and less able to recover from illness or hospitalisation. It makes it even more crucial to place muscle building at the top of your fitness regime.

importance building muscle

Building Muscle Helps Fight Obesity
The rapid increase of overweight and obese people poses serious diet related health risks. From Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, and even certain forms of cancer, there are a number of chronic diseases related to being overweight.

The problem with ageing is that it places a toll on your body, particularly if you don’t take care of your body. Obesity is inflammatory, and inflammation causes muscle breakdown throughout the entire body. Combined with the natural muscle wasting that is associated with ageing, the two can combine in a somewhat vicious cycle that is hard to break. Once you start to loose muscle mass and strength, it makes simple tasks like walking much harder, accelerating weight gain and the increasing the risk of illness.

Muscle Strength Reduces the Risk of Injury
Building muscle helps protect your bones and joints from injury and deterioration, and even supports healthy joint function. Having a healthy amount of muscle mass can also help to preserve and maintain bone density. Bone density is important in preventing a number of diseases such as osteoporosis, particularly for women and the elderly.

Muscle Training Offers A Range of Perks
Weight training and resistance training, which is what you need to do in order to build muscle strength and mass, can actually improve your balance, boost blood-sugar control, and even improve your quality of sleep.


Best Zucchini Pasta Recipes

Zucchini pasta (sometimes known as zucchini noodles or zucchini spaghetti) is one of the most popular alternatives to its traditional counterpart. Not only does it contribute an eighth of the carbs and an eighth of the calories of regular spaghetti or pasta, but it is incredibly rich in flavour and adds another delicious vegetable element to your dish. Zucchini pasta can even be eaten cooked or raw, making them it an incredibly versatile lunch and dinner option.

There are a few ways to make zucchini noodles, all of which are really easy:

  • Use a vegetable peeler: peel around the zucchini until you reach the seeds to create long, thin strips. If opt for this method, you can control the width of your strips.
  • Use a julienne peeler: this requires the same technique as above. Simply peel around the zucchini until you reach the seeds. The main difference is that the stripes will be thinner.
  • Slice the zucchini using a mandolin, which has a julienne setting (or the thinnest setting available on the mandolin). Once you’ve done this, you’ll just need to cut the slices into noodles.
  • Use a spiral vegetable slicer. This is one of the easiest methods (you just have to buy one!). Simply put the zucchini in the slicer and turn the handle. It does the rest for you.

Once you’ve chopped your zucchini into pasta-like shapes, you’ll need to:

  • Place the zucchini strips into a colander and sprinkle them with salt to remove some of the moisture that naturally occurs in zucchini
  • Let the zucchini drain for around 20 minutes, pressing down on the zucchini every now and then to remove the liquid.

After the zucchini pasta is made, there are a number of traditional dishes than can be altered to fit your new noodles! We’ve included below a couple of sauces that pair nicely with zucchini. 

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

This is one of the easiest and most simple recipes for zucchini noodles, perfect for first timers or when time is of the essence!  

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini
  • ⅔ x cup of your favourite pesto (whether it’s homemade or store bought)
  • 1 x cup cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh basil for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Make your Zucchini noodles as per the directions above.
  2. Toss the zucchini noodles in the pesto, and add the cherry tomatoes. Garnish with fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste. Simple!

 zucchini pasta recipes

 

Zucchini Spaghetti and Meatballs

Who says comfort food can’t be healthy? Plus, just because you are swapping traditional pasta for a healthy alternative, doesn’t mean you have to skip the meat! Spaghetti and meatballs is a family favourite the world-over – customise yours with some Zucchini spaghetti.

Ingredients:

  • 500g x lean mince beef
  • 1 x onion, browned
  • 125g x ricotta
  • 200g x baby spinach, chopped, wilted in a pan
  • ½ cup parsley, fresh chopped
  • 1 x egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 x tbs olive oil
  • 4 x cups passata
  • 6 x zucchini
  • 2 x tbs basil pesto

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Place beef, ricotta, onion, spinach, egg, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly until well combined.
  3. Roll mixture into meatballs. Coat each meatball in a little olive oil (or spray lightly with cooking spray), and place on a deep oven-proof tray lined with baking paper. Make sure not to place the balls too close together. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Cover meatballs with the passata.
  5. Place tray bake in the oven, and cook for another 20 minutes until the passata is bubbling.
  6. Make your zucchini noodles as per the directions above.
  7. Sauté your noodles with the pesto.
  8. Top your zucchini noodles with the meatballs and passata.
  9. Enjoy!

zucchini spaghetti and meatballs


Healthy Snacks for Work

Healthy snacking is a great way to combat hunger between meals and to keep your metabolism up. The problem is, when you’re at work, it can be rather tempting to nip out to the vending machine in the foyer, or grab a sweet treat from the café round the corner.

To help you combat calorie-laden snacking disasters, we’ve collated some healthy snack ideas for work that are sure to combat those 3.30pm cravings.

Homemade Peanut Butter

Making your own alternative to store-bought peanut butter means you can control the ingredients, minimising the amount of fat included and increasing the nutritional benefit. The combination of complex carbohydrates and protein that a healthy peanut butter contains can help your blood sugar stabilise and have you feeling full for longer.

Ingredients:

  • 4 x cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 6 x packets of Truvia
  • 1/8 x tsp salt
  • 1x tbs Coconut oil

Method:

  1. Place the peanuts, salt and truvia in a blender. Process until the mixture is quite crumbly and almost the same texture as flour.
  2. Grind the mixture down until it is smooth and almost the consistency of butter. You may need to use a pestle and mortar to do this.
  3. Pop the mixture back into your blender, and add the coconut oil. Process it all again, until the coconut oil is completely incorporated.
  4. Pour your mixture into a sealed jar and pop it in the freezer for for 30 minutes. Remove, and refrigerate it for two hours.
  5. Your peanut butter should now be quite firm, just like regular peanut butter.

You should store your peanut butter in a cool, dark place or in the fridge if you want it to last as long as possible.

Serve with multi-grain crackers or apple slices as a snack at work!

homemade peanut butter recipe

Chocolate & Coconut No-Bake Energy Balls

When you need healthy office snacks, look no further than these delicious protein balls. Each one of these creamy truffles is chock-full of energising nutrients, including natural sugar and protein powder. These are the perfect healthy snacks for work. Chow down on a couple when your mid-afternoon slump hits, and you’ll be full of beans, right through until dinner.

Ingredients

Energy Balls:

  • 2 x cups coarsely chopped medjool dates
  • 1 x cup boiling water
  • 2 x tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 x cup raw almonds
  • 1 x tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 x tsp salt
  • 3/4 x cup coconut flour
  • 3 x tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate Coating:

  • 225gm x dark chocolate, chopped or grated into small shards
  • 2 x tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 x cup boiling water
  • 1 cup x unsweetened shredded coconut

Method

Energy Balls:

  1. Place the dates in a small bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the dates and leave to stand until cooled, which usually takes approximately 40 minutes.
  2. Process the almonds in a blender until they’re creamy, which usually takes around 7minutes.
  3. Add the dates and the cooled liquid that they will now be sitting in to the almonds in the blender.
  4. Add the vanilla, coconut oil and salt. Blend all the ingredients until they are smooth. You may need to stop the blender a couple of times to scrape down the sides.
  5. Add cocoa and coconut flour and blend until you have a thick dough-like paste.
  6. Remove from blender and refrigerate until the mixture is very cold, which usually takes between two and three hours.
  7. Line a tray with baking paper or foil. Roll the mixture into small balls, using approximately one tablespoon of mixture per ball.

Chocolate Coating:

  1. Place the coconut oil and chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and pour the boiling water over the top. Stir the mixture gently until it is smooth.
  2. Place the shredded coconut in a separate shallow dish.
  3. Dip each ball into the chocolate mixture, so that it is well coated. Once any excess chocolate has dripped off the ball, roll the ball in the coconut and place on baking tray. Repeat with all the balls.
  4. Pop the balls into the fridge and chill until the chocolate is set, which takes around one to two hours.
  5. Enjoy!

chocolate and coconut energy balls recipe


Big 5’s Favourite Kettlebell Workouts

It’s no coincidence that the Big 5 logo features a kettlebell. These versatile pieces of equipment really pack a punch. Because of its unique shape, a kettle bell can be lifted, pushed, pulled, and swung in a number of ways that are rather difficult (or downright impossible) with other types of weights.

The kettlebell shape also makes transiting between one exercise and the next, without putting the weight down, much easier. This smooth transition is known as a ‘non-stop exercise strategy’, which helps use and build muscle in less time. Kettlebells not only help you generate more power and build leaner muscle, but they also work to increase your metabolism and improve your stability and balance.

However, it is important to be keep in mind that kettle bells are often used improperly. As with any weight training or exercise routine, proper coaching, particularly when it comes to form, can help you to get the most out of your workout. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide: Big 5’s Favourite Kettlebell Workouts. 

Kettlebell Swing

Target Areas: Shoulders, back, glutes, hips and legs
Method:

  • Begin by standing up straight, with your feet firmly planted, slightly wider than your hips.
  • Grab the kettle bell handle with both hands and maintain a slightly bent knee.
  • Drive your hips back, while keeping your back flat, and lowering your body into a position that is slightly higher than squat.
  • Once you’re comfortable, drive your hips forward, while swinging the kettle bell forward.
  • At all times, make sure that the motion is coming from your hips and legs, and not your arms. And ensure that your core is tight and engaged.

While this workout looks easy to perform, the kettle bell swing can take a little while to perfect. The swing is one of the most powerful kettlebell movement because it utilises muscles throughout the body, which helps maintain a high level of cardiovascular conditioning.

kettlebell workout

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Target Areas: Legs, back, and glutes
Method:

  • Stand up straight, with your feet firmly planted, slightly wider than your hips.
  • Keep your elbows pulled in close to your body, holding the kettlebell in front of your chest.
  • Holding the kettlebell in front of your chest, squat by driving your heels into the ground and pushing your hips back until your thighs are parallel with the ground.
  • Return to the standing position. Repeat!

Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing

Target Areas: Shoulders, back, glutes hips, and legs
Method: This exercise is quite similar to the Russian swing, it just requires that your use one hand at a time:

  • Begin by standing up straight, with your feet firmly planted, slightly wider than your hips.
  • Grab the kettle bell handle with your preferred hand to begin, making sure that you maintain slightly bent knees.
  • Drive your hips back, while keeping your back flat, and lowering your body into a position that is slightly higher than squat.
  • Once you’re comfortable, drive your hips forward, while swinging the kettle bell forward. You can swing your other arm to help drive momentum.
  • Alternate hands when the kettlebell is at the furthest point back.
  • Once again, you should make sure that the movement is coming from your hips and legs, not your arms. And your core should be tight and engaged.

kettlebells workouts

Kettlebell Deadlift

Target Areas: Legs, arms, glutes, back, and abs

Method:

  • As the name suggests, a kettlebell deadlift is quite similar to a regular deadlift. So, start with the kettlebell between your feet on the floor.
  • Squat down, driving your hips backwards, and grab a hold of the kettle bell’s handle with both hands. Make sure to keep your back flat and your core nice and tight while you do this.
  • Once you have a firm grip on the kettlebell, push your hips forward, while keeping your arms extended, and rise up.
  • Repeat!

Single-Arm Kettlebell Snatch

Target Areas: Shoulders, back, and chest

Method:

  • Start with a kettlebell between your feet on the floor. Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Reach down and hold onto the handle with one hand. Then, explode up onto your toes, pulling the kettle bell upwards until it reaches your chest. Make sure to keep your elbow tucked in.
  • Once the kettlebell has reached your chest, lift it upwards, over your head, making sure to hold on tight.
  • To finish, bring the kettlebell back down to the ground.

At Big 5 Fitness, we specialise in building or maintaining muscle, while losing fat. To do this, emphasis must be placed on high intensity strength training. While it may not be simple initially, kettlebell workouts are a great way to increase your maximum potential, helping you to be your best self.


Why you’re slowly gaining weight

So this video just simply explain why you may be slowly gaining weight over time. To address it you need to stop guessing and measure what you're doing. 

Check out the video 

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10 nutrition myths and the truth

​10 Nutrition Myths And The Truth

A lot of the "rules" we have heard about losing weight are not true but we have heard it so much that we believe in it. Coach Pat has written this list to bust a few of those myths for you so that you can sleep easy. Especially after that late night meal...

10. Eating fat will make you fat.

Where going to start by busting this one wide open. Eating fat won’t make you gain weight. It is true that foods with a high fat content have a greater amount of calories, but if we stick to our daily calorie requirements then there is nothing to fear. It’s the over consumption of calories from all sources (carbs, proteins and fat) that leads to weight gain. Fat is a vital part of our diets, “good” fat improves our brain function, hormone production, our immune system and helps fight against cancer, heart disease and cholesterol. That alone should be enough to convince you but let’s keep going. Fat has also been found to aid recovery post training through supporting hormone balance (elevation of growth h hormone), as well as stronger bones and better hair and skin. It’s good for you inside and out. Make sure that you consume mostly “good fats” from sources like unrefined animal fats, fatty fish, avocados and nuts which are generally high in Omega 3 and monosaturated fat.

9. Carbohydrates will make you gain weight

So if fat doesn’t make you fat, carbohydrates must? Sounds right? But again it’s wrong. Just like fat, carbohydrates alone won’t make you gain weight, the calories will or as mentioned above the over consumption of those calories will (taking in more calories than your body needs). By cutting out carbohydrates from your diet you are depriving your body of its main source of fuel. Not only that, you will be missing out on vital nutrients and fibre that come from whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Low carb diets can be an effective weight fat loss strategy, one that is implemented often and proven to work. I have used it myself to great effect. But these diets can be hard to maintain in the long term. Changing to a healthy diet you can stick to is the most important thing. Remember to limit refined and processed carbohydrates from our diets.

8. Low fat is healthy

There are items all over the grocery store with fancy packaging saying they are “low fat,” or “97% fat free.” But if we take a moment and look at the back of that fancy package we will notice that it might not be as healthy as it seems. Most low fat foods have been highly processed by manufactures through the manipulation of oil found in the food as well as increasing the sugar content to improve the taste and texture. With the increased sugar levels these foods tend to have a high calorie content that offers no nutritional benefit. Make sure you are reading the labels to know what you are consuming. Food containing more than 15 grams of sugar per 100 grams is generally considered to be high in sugar.

7. Multi grain and wheat bread are better than white bread

This is not always the case as some Multi grain and wheat bread are white bread in disguise. These breads have added refined grains as well as caramel or molasses to make them appear darker and healthier. When choosing bread make sure you read the ingredients list to make sure there isn’t any surprises. Make sure the bread is made of 100% whole wheat or whole grain.

6. You must take Protein powder if you train.

Protein powder is a supplement; therefore it should be used as one and not make up the majority of our daily protein intake. Protein powders main benefit is convenience. It’s quick to make a protein shake, easy to consume and can be digested by the body quickly. It’s great for people who may not have time to prepare and eat a meal or struggle to meet their daily protein requirements. But if you are already consuming your recommended intake of protein through whole foods then the shake is just extra calories. An over consumption of protein won’t yield any further benefits for your muscle gain, but it may add a bit to your gut. It is always better to get your macronutrients and calories from whole foods and use supplements only as required, to supplement your diet.

5. Eggs are bad for you (throw out the yolk)

Eggs have high cholesterol content so in that alone you would think that makes them bad. But that would be wrong. Unlike foods high in saturated and trans fat that raise the LDL “bad” cholesterol in our blood, eggs are great at offsetting bad cholesterol with HDL “good” cholesterol therefore offsetting any negative effects. The yolk also has some powerful health benefits; they contain a whole host of Vitamins as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, thiamine and folate. So enjoy that yolk, don’t throw it away. Recommended intake: One per day.

4. Oranges are the best source of Vitamin C

Vitamin C contains powerful antioxidants that supports our immune function and enhances the absorption of iron in our digestive system. When we think of foods packed with Vitamin C we immediately think of oranges. However oranges (while a great source of Vitamin C) are not the best source. They contain approximately 52mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams, Guava (240mg), Red Capsicum (200mg) Broccoli (110mg) Cabbage and Watercress (100mg) all contain more Vitamin C as well as less sugar and calories.

3. Celery has negative calories

This sounds too good to be true, because it is……kind of. The theory of negative calorie food is that some foods have so few calories that chewing and digesting those foods requires more energy than what was consumed. Celery sticks only contain 10 calories but it only takes about half a calorie to digest. Negative calorie food isn’t the magic cure for weight loss. While these foods contain many nutritional benefits and are a better option than most other foods they still contain calories.

2. Avoid coffee

For many of us a coffee first thing in morning is a rite of passage. So worry not, feel free to grab that coffee because it is actually quite healthy. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants as well as assisting us to fight off serious diseases. Research has found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of depression, Parkinson’s and dementia as well as helping to reduce inflammation. However moderation is key, many nutrition experts suggest that one cup a day can make up part of a healthy diet. It should not be relied on for energy; rather we should focus on creating our own energy from a balanced diet and lifestyle. Also, if you have milky coffee, it’s not going to have the same benefits as the milk can be inflammatory and counter balance the anti-inflammatory function of the coffee. Go with a long black.

1. Eating late at night is bad for you and will make you put on weight

A calorie is a calorie which is a calorie, it doesn’t matter what time you eat them. What matters is your total calorie intake over the day. This is where having an awareness of your intake and how much your body requires to meet your needs is important. You can eat at night without fear, especially those who may get home from work late and those who train at night. There is no need to starve yourself until breakfast. It’s taking in more calories (calorie surplus) than we need that leads to weight gain, the issue is there is a tendency to overindulge at night while we unwind after a busy day and binge watch our favourite television shows, so be careful as its this overindulgence that wreaks havoc on our waistline.

​Coach Pat

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BIG 5 No. 5 – Sprints

Sprints.
The last of the BIG 5. I love sprints for fat loss. 
Hill sprints in particular. 

Check out the video, I'll show you a couple of options if you don't have a hill or can't get outside.​


BIG 5 No. 4 – Total Core

Yes. Total core. 
I call it this because it's exercises that are more efficient in building a strong core AND abs, than your normal sit ups and crunches. They also bun a hell of a lot more energy than those.

These are only a few of the ones we use, but very efficient.​


BIG 5 No. 3 – Pull

Number 3 in the BIG 5.
The pull. This one is a must for everyone. Most people spend most of their days in a bad posture so if we don't do any pulls or rows, we'll end up with bad shoulders or backs.

These are some of the pull variations we do at BIG 5 and the some of the ones I find the best.​