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Whether you want to improve your strength, increase your flexibility, ease your back pain or merely enjoy a better level of health, working out with a freestanding pull-up bar could do the trick. This tool has long been the gold standard by which all other strength-building exercise equipment gets judged. If you do not have one in your home gym, you are missing out on an enormous number of benefits.

The beauty of the freestanding pull-up bar lies in its simplicity. Unlike other types of exercise equipment, which rely on complicated gears and levers to get the job done, a freestanding pull-up bar uses nothing more than your body weight. Yet, the simplicity of this tool does not diminish its effectiveness; if anything, the simple design enhances that effectiveness. By using your body weight to create resistance, the bar provides a powerful workout for muscle groups that would otherwise be hard to reach.

If you have a freestanding pull-up bar in your home gym or are thinking about adding one, you need to know how to use it correctly and safely. Here are a few basic exercises to help you get started.

Standard Pull-Ups

The most straightforward exercise is a simple pull-up. Grab the freestanding bar using a shoulder-width grip with your palms facing you; pull yourself up until your chin is level with the bar, then lower yourself until your arms are at full extension. When you first start, you may only be able to do a few pull-ups, but over time you can do additional sets.

Climber Pull-Up

This more advanced pull-up mimics the moves of a mountain climber, without exposing you to the danger or sudden drops. Start with a shoulder-width grip with your palms facing forward, then use the bar to pull your weight straight up. Move your weight to the left halfway through the pull-up, pointing your jaw toward your left side. Lower yourself, then repeat the exercise on the right.

Behind-the-Neck Pull-Up

Start this exercise by grasping the bar with a wide grip with your palms facing away from you. Slowly pull your shoulders up toward the bar until it touches the back of your neck, then gradually return to your starting position. The behind-the-neck pull-up is perfect for strengthening and stretching your lateral muscles.

Gironda Sternum Pull-Up

Start by holding the freestanding pull-up bar with your palms facing you. Curve your back as you slowly pull yourself up, then bring your head back and continue lifting until the bar touches your chest.

Negative Pull-Up

The reverse pull-up is good for basic strength training, and it can bring some variety to your workout routine. Start by standing on a sturdy chair, then grasp the freestanding pull-up bar using a total shoulder-width grip. Carefully step off the chair, then slowly bring yourself down until you have your arms extended completely. Do several repetitions of this exercise to achieve the maximum benefit.

Band-Assisted Pull-Up

This pull-up uses a protective band, and you begin by securing one end of the band around the center of freestanding pull-up bar and the other end around your wrist. Once the band is in place, slowly pull yourself up until your chin is level with the bar, then bring yourself down until your arms are extended and the protection band taut.

Having a freestanding pull-up bar in your home gym is a great way to improve your strength, build your muscles, boost your metabolism and get in shape. The exercises outlined above can help you get started, so you can get the most out of your pull-up bar and enjoy more effective workout sessions.

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Should You Be Using A Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

If you’re tuned into the natural hair movement at all, you’ve heard a lot of talk about sulfates over the years, mostly about how terrible they are. According to many curly hair gurus, hair products that contain sulfates can strip all of the moisture from delicate curly hair, resulting in dryness, frizz and damage. But lots of shampoos contain sulfates. Are they really all that harmful?

The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are both pros and cons to sulfates, and understanding how they work will help you figure out the right shampoo for you.

What Are Sulfates, Anyway?

Sulfates are detergents. They’re the ingredient that makes your shampoo lather into that satisfyingly sudsy consistency. They’re in all kinds of products, not only shampoo but also soap, dish detergent, toothpaste and tons of other foam-y products. The most common sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate.

Sulfates are certainly harsher than natural cleansers — they really get in there and clean. All that lather results in a squeaky-clean feeling. By the same token, they strip the skin and hair of much of its moisture and oil.

Who Should Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

The problem with sulfates is that they can be too stripping. Your hair needs some amount of oil and moisture to feel and look healthy. This is especially important if you have hair that is dry, fragile, kinky, curly or coarse. By using sulfates on your hair regularly, you set yourself up for a game of perpetual catch-up, trying to restore the moisture from your hair that your shampoo keeps taking away.

Sulfate-free shampoo is also useful for people with delicate skin, since the ingredient can cause redness or irritation.

Lastly, if you have dyed hair, consider switching to a sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates strip the dye from your hair prematurely.

Sulfate-free shampoo isn’t for everyone, though. If your scalp tends to be quite greasy or oily and needs to be washed often, sulfates could work wonderfully for you. Also, if you have dandruff or another scalp condition, you’ll definitely want to stick with a shampoo with sulfates and other active ingredients to cut down on the flakes.

Alternatives to Sulfates

Some people enjoy using products with sulfates simply because it’s satisfying — you get a rich lather, and it feels like it’s easy to get clean. Other products may require more scritching and scratching. However, sulfates are just one of several “surfactants” that lather up. Others, like cocobetaines (derived from coconut oil) have a similar effect and are not quite as harsh.


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