Back to Basics: Push-Ups

 

I’m throwin’ it back this week with a basic body weight exercise that I hate to love. Push ups work the chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps as well as your core and quads that stabilize you throughout the movement. They can even get your heart rate up if you add a plyometric movement to them. 

I want you to feel comfortable doing this exercise no matter what your fitness level is so I will be giving you lots of options.  Once you get the proper form and breathing down, you’ll be a certified butt kicker in no time. As always consistency is key and know that doing less repetitions with great technique is much more effective that a gazillion reps with poor form. 

Here is the push up pyramid from easiest to most difficult:

  • Incline Push Up
  • Knee Push Up
  • Toe Push Up
  • Decline Push Up
  • Plyo Push Up

Form for each variation will be the same…just a different way to do it. Here are the biggest things to remember when performing this exercise:

1. Start with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. (There are also variations on hand placement based on the muscle group you want to isolate but we won’t get into all that today… it’s all about keeping it simple.)

2. Foot placement will be a little closer than shoulder width apart. If you’re going to perform the push up on your knees, they can be a little closer together and bring your heels a little closer towards your booty. 

 

3. The breath cycle of this exercise is to inhale on the way down and exhale as you push yourself back up.

 

4.  Your body should remain in a plank position (whether on your knees or toes) the entire repetition. You should never feel your back arch or look like a pyramid because your butt is too high. It should be a straight line from head to toe.

 

5.  Don’t forget to engage your core. Think about pulling your belly button to your spine and zip it up the entire movement.

 

Let’s review and get to the point… hands a little wider than shoulder width apart, feet a little closer than shoulder width apart.  Engage your core as you hold yourself in a plank position. Lower your body down towards the ground so you are about a fist length away from the ground and then exhale while pushing yourself back up to the starting position. Easy, right?

 

Here’s a demo of each variation following the tips I gave you…

 

Incline Push Up: you can increase your angle to make it easier and decrease your angle to make it more difficult.

Incline pushup Knee Push Up:  Always keep in mind that you can start on your toes if you know you can do a couple with good form and drop to your knees when your fatigue out weighs your ability to keep good form.

Knee push upToe Push Up

Toe push upDecline Push Up

Decline push up Plyo Push Up:  Same rules apply as far as proper body mechanics but a change in placement of hands as well as feet. Start with your hands wide as well as feet wide. Perform a push up in this position and as you push your body up you’re going to hop your feet and hands in shoulder width apart to perform a close grip push up.

Plyo push upPlyo push up 2

Time to Set Some Goals

 

I would have to say that besides working out and eating healthy (most of the time), I have had a lot of A-Ha moments about my aspirations in life that haven’t occurred at the gym or in the kitchen. It’s been truly inspiring to take a step back and look at my life and come to some conclusions about what I want, what I don’t want, how I want to feel and what I want to accomplish. I know, sounds deep, doesn’t it? Well it is but the cool thing about it all is I feel a sense of direction now. I feel motivated and I feel happy about the opportunities that I hope to face in the future. My hope is that you can take away some ideas on where to start when it comes to goal setting, gain some inspiration to start writing ideas down and get excited about the possibilities.

I recently found the most clarity when I was on vacation last month. I mean who doesn’t? It’s tough to go to a beautiful place and not forget all the stresses you left at home. I was able to think or not think and have almost a whole day of quiet. I literally can’t remember the last time I had a day where I didn’t say much of anything besides minimal conversations at stores and restaurants. My career involves talking… and a lot of it. I’m in pretty constant conversation most of my days with clients and guests in the store. I never really realized until I could get away from it, how draining that can be. I have become a pretty skilled conversationalist but I found it really nice and refreshing enjoying the silence… well besides the sounds of the city and the ocean.

Why am I telling you this? Well I think we all get caught up in our lives and the stresses of it. We spend so much time working that we rarely get chances to step back and evaluate how we feel about our current day to day. I think it’s really important to take some time for ourselves every once in a while to recharge and I’m encouraging you all to do so. I know what you’re thinking… between work, family, friends and sleep I don’t have time to take for myself. Well I’m telling you that there’s always time for things that you prioritize for. You make time for the things that are important. When you take this time investment for you, I have a few ideas of how to use that time and check in with yourself. These ideas are not my own, rather things I have done or been taught that have really helped me.

1.  What do you want? What don’t you want? Make lists, with one being what you want in your life now or in the future and one being what you don’t want. Be specific with your lists because these will set the baseline of where you see yourself a year from now and even ten years from now. Examples from my own list are: I want health benefits/vacation time and I don’t want to work late nights. They can be about health, career, family… really anything that is important and of value to you.

2. Make your goals solely based on what you want. Not what other people want. Not what you think you want or think you should want… if you had nothing holding you back what would you do? What career path would you take? How many kids would you have? What would you feel like if you had all those things? It’s hard to think this way because we have things that hold us back… financial burdens, work, etc. If you could let all of that go for a moment, what would your life look like?

3. Set small goals that lead up to your big goals. It’s hard to have a end goal without the steps in place to get you there. Who do you need to know about this goal to hold you accountable and keep you on track? When do you want to accomplish it by? Are there things you need to get in place in order to make it reachable. Think about the steps you need to take in order to make your dream come true.

These goals should make you excited. They should scare you a little, but ultimately they should inspire you and make you realize that you can do anything you want to… it just takes time, hard work, focus and drive. Plan your next vacation or staycation to give yourself some time to focus on you. Step outside the stresses of your daily life and find some clarity. Write your goals down. Let others know what they are to keep you honest and on track. If they don’t work or you realize you don’t want that to be your goal, change them. It’s your life… live it up.

Lower Body & Booty Workout #2

 

And I’m back for round two of the bootlycious and lower body workout series. Feel free to mix and match exercises between the two workouts I posted… but don’t always pick the exercises you love, learn to incorporate the ones you love to hate.

Strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and your lower back will thank you. Also keep good posture and proper form throughout your workout. Today in a class I took, it was refreshing to learn from a good teacher. He brought my mind back to awareness of the exercises at hand, alignment and breathing. Even I need those helpful tips when I’m feeling fatigued. It was great to be lead through a workout where I could take away a lot of positives from it.  I hope through my teaching and instruction, you will be able to do the same.

Here’s the run down to get those legs burning and strengthen those glutes:

Goblet Squat: 3×15

Lateral Lunges 3×15/leg

Single Leg Deadlift 3×12/leg

Glute Pulses: 3×25/leg

Static High Kicks: 3×25/leg

Wall Sits: 3×1 minute

squats

 

 

Goblet Squats.  Start in a squat stance with feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly pointed out to the side to give your hips some room. Hold the weight or kettlebell at chest height with shoulders back and core tight. Squat down letting that weight shift back to your heels and go as low as you can without losing good posture and core stability. 

​Inhale on the down and exhale on the way back up. This type of breathing goes for any exercise. During the work phase of the exercise, exhale… as you’re coming back to the start, inhale.

 

 

lateral lunges

 

 

Lateral Lunges.  Both feet should be facing forward as you take a big step out to the side with one foot. Keeping good posture with your shoulders back, bend that outside leg as if you are doing a single leg squat. As yo​u drop into that outside leg, drive that butt back and shift your weight to your heels. Push off that outside leg back to your starting position with feet together. Do all the repetitions on one leg and then switch to the other.

 

 

 

 

single leg

 

Single Leg Deadlift.  Start with the weight in your right hand.  Since the weight is in your right hand, the right leg is the one that is going to do the moving. Keeping the weight extremely close to the left leg while keeping your shoulders back and your chest proud, skim your left leg with the weight as you lift your right leg straight back in line with your body. As the weight moves down your leg, your back leg will continue to move up keeping it in line with your body. Squeeze those glutes as you come back up to standing.  You should feel a good stretch in the left hamstring and a good burn in that booty as you get back to the start of your exercise. Stay on the same leg for all 12 reps and then switch to the other side.

 

 

glute pulse

 

 

Glute Pulses.  You can hold on to a chair or something stable if you need to or you can challenge yourself to some balancing and core stability. Extend your left leg out to the side pointing your toe. Since you want to lead with your heel you have to turn your body so that your knee is just about facing the ground and your hip is facing the sky. This is a small up and down motion pointing that toe throughout the whole range of motion. Try not to touch the step every time you come down to start, rather hover the stair and then raise back up in the air about a foot.

 

 

 

kick

 

 

 

 

Static High Kicks.  You will be in the same position as the glute pulses but you are going to lean into your support a little more this time. Lift your hip as high as your range of motion allows and flex the toe. Pretend you have a kick bag out in front of you and the motion this time is kick out to straight leg and then back in to a bent knee. Repeat on one side and then switch to the other.

 

 

 

wall sit

 

 

Wall Sit.  Find a space on the wall where you can come to a 90 degree angle with your legs. Feel free to lean forward just a little bit to flatten your back out on the wall. If you want a little more of a challenge while you hold this position, lift up off your toes and onto your heels. Hold this position without touching your legs for one minute.

 

 

 

 

 

Along with these exercises, make sure you are stretching out those muscles that you worked as well as rolling them out to get out any of the kinks you may have. It’s important to continue to work on your flexibility to help increase range of motion when strength building.

Of course, the most important thing to do is have fun and stay focused. Bring your awareness to the task at hand and breathe through each exercise.

 

 

 

 

Lower Body & Booty Workout

 

It’s time to get that lower body and booty in shape. The summer seems to be coming to an end faster than we are ever ready for it to but this workout will benefit far beyond bikini and shorts season. Lower body and glute strength helps with countless everyday activities such as sitting down and standing up as well as going up and down stairs. It also helps balance and stability and strong glutes will ensure a stronger lower back. Did you know glutes are actually part of your core muscles and it’s not just your abs? Well, if not you learned something awesome today that could help you a lot in the long run. pun intended or not.

So here’s the workout I put together for you to get you started. I’ve incorporated six exercises as well as a few variations based on fitness level for you to try. 

  • Reverse Lunges – 3 x 15/leg
  • Bridge Hold or Single Leg Bridge Hold – 3 x 30 seconds each exercise or 1 min if you aren’t doing the single leg variation
  • Hip Circles – 3 x 20 each direction
  • Heel to Sky – 3 x 20/leg
  • Romanian Deadlift – 3 x 15
  • Single Leg Step Ups – 3 x 15/leg

lunges

 

 

 

Reverse Lunges.  I used a step as my platform but you can use whatever you’d like such as a step platform or a 25 pound plate if you’re at the gym. The lunge off a higher surface will incorporate more glute action. It will be performed just like a basic lunge but you take a step back instead of forward. Always make sure your knee never crosses the plane of your toe and you’re standing with good posture.  As you step back to the step, squeeze those glutes to help pull that leg back to your starting stop.  You will always start each repetition with both feet on the platform or step. 

 

 

 

 

bridge

 

 

 

Bridge Hold/Single Leg Bridge Hold. Lay on your back with your arms next to your sides. Lift your hips up as high as you can and squeeze your glutes at the top of your rep. Your body should be as straight as possible. If you want an extra challenge, lift one leg off the ground. Make sure you keep it in line with the other knee and keep your hips high. This is going to be a timed hold so you can do 30 seconds starting with two feet on the ground and then 30 seconds with each leg in the air. If single leg isn’t working for you, decrease your time or just hold your bridge with both feet on the ground.

 

 

circles

 

Hip Circles.  Start on all fours with your hands stacked below your shoulders and your knees stacked below your hips. The first direction of the circle,  you will kick your leg back and then lift your knee up drawing a circle with it. The tighter your hips are, the harder this will feel and your circle will probably be a bit smaller. Repeat this exercise and then switch directions by bringing your knee into your chest first and then lifting your knee to draw a circle. Try to keep your body parallel with the ground as much as possible. When we feel inflexible, we tend to turn and compensate instead of working on correct range of motion within what we can  actually do.

Heel to Sky.  This exercise will also start on all fours. Keeping your knee at 90 degrees, lift your leg up until the bottom of your foot is facing the sky. From there you are going to pulse up and down no more than 12 inches up and down. If you want to make this more challenging, you can stick a weight behind your knee and pulse squeezing that weight to keep it in place.

 

deadlift

 

Romanian Deadlift.  This is the straight leg version of a deadlift. You should feel this exercise in your hamstrings as well as your glutes and you should be able to use a little bit heavier weight. I had to improvise using a fire log as my prop but you can use dumbbells or a barbell to complete this. Start with your feet a little closer than shoulder width apart. You want to make sure you are continuously keeping good posture and keeping your shoulders back giving you a nice flat back. Keeping the weight close to your body, slide the weights down close to your legs until you get to just below your knee. As the weight is moving down your leg, think about shifting your weight to your heels so you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings.  Once you get to your end point just below the knee, slide the weight back up keeping it close to your body and squeezing your glutes the whole way back up to your starting point.

 

 

step up

 

 

 

Single Leg Step Ups.  I used a step but you can use an 18″ box at the gym, a chair or a bench. Place one foot on top of the step and that foot will stay there until you switch legs. Step up with the opposite leg until the leg with the foot up is fully extended and then slowly control your leg back down to the starting point. Make sure that you are stepping back behind the step to ensure your knee is protected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incorporate this workout two times a week into your exercise routine and I promise you will feel results. It will take time and consistency but I know you’re up for the challenge. Time to get bootylicious for fall.