Finding Balance

 

While on my vacation I learned the power of just taking a break.  This can relate to any aspect of your life really and maybe one of the hardest things to actually commit to doing. How often do you allow yourself enough sleep, enough time with your family and friends or enough time to simply unplug?  I can say I’m very guilty of making excuses as to why I can’t do these things.  The good thing is it doesn’t have to be that way.  I don’t have to be a victim of my situation because at any time I can change it and work towards making my life the way I want it to be.

 

I know I’m supposed to talk about fitness and things to help you with your exercise endeavors but I’ve come to realize that letting your body rest properly and refresh can have the same positive effects on your life as working out and eating right does. Just imagine how you’d feel if you had all of those things… time to relax, a consistent workout schedule and healthy food choices. I have, for the most part, two of the three of these things and my new goal is to work on the missing piece to the puzzle.

 

There are a few ways I’m going to work towards this goal and I’d like to share them with you. I always tell my clients that when people give you advice you always have the option to use what works for you and let go of the rest. I encourage you to do the same. Things that work for me may not work for everyone but hopefully you can always take something away from it.

 

 1. Plan ahead.  If I don’t do this, I will more than likely back out of it because I’ll find reasons why I shouldn’t. So my next vacation is already in the works and I plan on getting it arranged by mid summer so I have something to look forward to in the fall. It will give me the time I need to save money for it properly. I will also be able to let everyone that is affected by me leaving know in advance so they can plan accordingly. It will also give me something to look forward to on the days where my motivation level is low. I have learned that at the end of the day, work will be there when I get back and everyone understands the importance of some R&R and I will come back feeling refreshed and ready for reality.

 

2. Balance is the key to all around happiness.  I always want to keep the truly important things in focus.  Sometimes when I get consumed in my busy life, I find myself always working and not having time for much else. I am lucky that no matter how busy I get, I can at the very least always find time to workout and stay healthy since I work at the gym. The downside to this is my work to life balance is completely out of whack.  My family, friends and their health as well as mine is the above all the most important things in my life. Money is just money and my job doesn’t define me. I want to love what I do but I want to spend my time with the things more important than work as much as I can. I want to continue to work on this balance as I think everyone should.  As the saying goes, the best things in life aren’t things.

 

3. Sleep.  I think most of the world needs to get more sleep. Allowing your body the proper amount of time each night to rest and rejuvenate for the next day has so many benefits. It helps to keep your immune system working properly, improves your ability to focus as well as it helps to relieve stress. There are many other aspects that sleep helps with as I just named a few. My new goal is to try to get to bed earlier each night even if it is 15 minutes a night.  In four days I’ll be going to bed an hour earlier and slowly but surely I’ll be going to bed at my goal time. It’s realistic to say for me that between 9:30 and 10 is a good start. That would mean on average I would be getting about eight hours of sleep a night. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?  If it’s not more than 7, I strongly suggest committing to a goal similar to mine.

 

So sit down and think about the changes you want to make in your life. These are habits that will not change overnight but in time with focus and dedication you can do anything. There is nothing better than getting the time you need to refocus yourself. Vacation is something everyone should be able to enjoy with proper planning. You work hard and deserve that time for yourself as a reward. In the meantime, think about what the most important aspects of your life are and see if they’re getting the proper attention. If not, find ways to work towards fixing that. Lastly, get that sleep… your body will only thank you when you wake up feeling ready to take on the day rather than just getting through it. Happy relaxing, everyone!

Outdoor Workouts Are Finally Back

 

Hey everyone! I’m back from my vacation in Florida and feeling nice and refreshed from the daily dose of sunshine and warm air as well as from the amazing time I had with my family. I am so happy I took the time out of my busy lifestyle here at home to just relax, have no agenda and not set an alarm for a week. I actually should’ve done it sooner. I always forget the importance of getting away and taking some time for myself. I get caught up in the go go go and forget to slow it down.  At the end of vacation, work is always going to be there and everyone will survive without me and I get to recharge my body. Let’s face it, a lot of us end up running on fumes and never stop for countless reasons. My new goal is to stop and relax and give myself the time I deserve from working so hard.

 

I knew on vacation that the one form of exercise I could count on would be going for a run. Other than that I wasn’t sure what else I would have access to. We went swimming and played some pickleball, but there was no weight room and no boxing gym. Well, that right there put me out of my workout comfort zone. I was happy to get outside and just get to run in the sun, even if it was a bit of a struggle at times as I need to get back into working on my long distance endurance. I would’ve enjoyed going to the weight room with my mom, but since that wasn’t an option I had to make do with what I had… my body and my ipod.

 

This workout is a good one to get yourself back into some outdoor workouts. It requires nothing but yourself and watch if you have one. Find a good path and go for it. I want to incorporate some intervals with body weight exercises to give you a well rounded 30-40 minute full body workout.

 

There will be four sets of intervals and five exercises to complete. Make sure you start off with a couple minutes of just warming up your body whether that entails walking or a slow jog.

 

Run:

30 second run followed by 30 second jog or walk. The run should be faster than your normal pace and the jog/walk is just a quick recovery before you have to run again. Repeat these one minute intervals of 30 second run and 30 second jog five times.

 

Exercises:

Push Ups

Squats

Bicycle Abs

Burpees

Lunge Walks

 

Each exercise you will perform 50 repetitions at your own pace except for burpees which will be 25 repetitions.  Since you are only doing one set of each exercise, the rep count can be a little higher. Listen to your body and do the best you can.  Breaks are okay as long as you jump back into the exercise as soon as you can. I have explained all these exercises in previous posts so if you’re questioning proper form, click on each of the exercises above for a refresher. It is extremely important to use the proper form when performing these exercises.

 

Once you are done with your exercise, you will have a one minute break before you begin your second set of running intervals. After you’re done running your second set, jump into the next exercise on the list. Repeat this until you end with the last set of exercises.

 

The pace in which you complete your exercises will determine the length of your workout. Since you will be running for 20 minutes, you will have enough time to finish all the exercises in a timely manner. If you’re in a time crunch, eliminate a set and get as much done as you can. Since you’re outside, find a fun safe place to run where you will have room to stop and complete your exercise before continuing on. If the weather is crummy, you can always complete it on the treadmill too.

 

Next week I will diving into what I was talking about at the beginning of this post… the power of recharging and taking some time off.

 

Happy workouts everyone!

Pull Up Time

 

I can’t tell you how many women have told me they want to be able to do a pull up.  Listen up ladies, they are tough but they can be done… just have to be consistent and know that there are many different ways to train your body to get stronger to be able to do one.

The main muscle group used to perform a pull up is the latissimus dorsi or commonly called the lats. There are many upper body muscles that aid the lats during the exercise as well. I won’t get all anatomy class on you but if you do want more detailed information on an exercise exrx.net is a great resource for fitness enthusiasts and curious exercisers.

So let’s get into it and start at the beginning.  I have five different pull up variations so that any fitness level can perform one at some degree. 

Jump Pull Up – I use an underhand grip but you can also use an overhand grip if you’d like.  Start with your feet on a box or bench and hands placed on the bar shoulder width apart.  The exercise is performed exactly how it’s named.  Jump up and try to use as much upper body strength as possible.  Your chin should be above the bar at the height of your exercise.  Control your body back down and repeat.

Negative Pull Up – This type of pull up is performed by exerting the most energy on the way down rather than on the way up.  Jump yourself up so your chin is above the bar and then fight the resistance as much as possible on the way back down to the box.  I always give a goal of five to six seconds on the down phase.  As your muscles fatigue, your hang time might decrease but try to do five really good ones rather than 10 mediocre reps.

Seated Pull Up – I perform this type of modified pull up on suspended rings but you can use a straight bar or a TRX if you have one handy. Sit with your legs crossed and the TRX or bar should be high enough that your arms are almost fully extended before you begin. Using as much upper body strength as possible, pull yourself up while pushing through the outsides of your feet as much as necessary to perform the repetition.  Control your body as much as you can on the way back down to the ground.

Band Pull Ups – More than likely you will need assistance getting your foot in the band.  Most gyms have thicker resistance bands you can use, you just may have to ask a trainer or the front desk.  Place the band on the ball of one foot and straight up your leg so the band is nice and tight. The band is going to be your assistance for the exercise.  The thicker the band, the less work you have to do. The motion will be the same as the last examples, pull up until your chin is above the bar and control your body back down. Have someone help you place your foot in the band and take it out just so it doesn’t snap up at you.

It’s important to know that you won’t become hulk overnight and baby steps towards success are important to note. I would rather do less great reps than more not so great reps. You want to get the most out of your workouts so make sure you’re focusing on form and being consistent. Variety is also a great way to change it up for your body and keep it guessing.

Have a happy sweaty day and get those lat muscles burning.

 

Have a question or comment for Ashley? Feel free to e-mail her at ashleyferguson22@gmail.com

 

A Week in the Life

 

I have come to the conclusion that many people have a misperception of a personal trainer. I don’t say that in a sassy or condescending way at all. It just seems that people tend to assume that because I do what I do for a living, that it all just comes naturally to me without even trying. I’ve had a number of clients act surprised when they see me working out on my own time. The reality is my only option is finding time for myself when I’m not training others.

This got me thinking, I’ve given you a day in the life of what I typically eat and I’ve talked about the exercises I enjoy but I’ve never talked about a week in the life of me when it comes to my workout routine. I work hard to achieve my goals and it’s very important to me that I consistently practice what I preach. I want my clients to always know that there’s nothing I make them do that I haven’t done before myself. For me it’s crucial they know that I take care of myself and that I’m real and genuine. I am passionate about helping people and incorporating exercise into their lives in a fun and never boring way.

So here goes a typical week in the life of me:

Monday: Typically I’ll have a 60 minute weight training workout with one of my trainers before I have clients starting at 7. I used to box and kickbox later at night for my interval cardio but will have to wait until summer to add that back in. Sometimes two workouts in a day is easier because of the amount of time I have. I actually like splitting up my lifting and cardio so I can rest up a bit in between.

Tuesday: I usually take the day off because of work and class at night. I realize it’s a pretty random day to take off but it just seems to work best for me.

Wednesday: Usually Wednesday is similar to Monday. I have early clients starting at 5am and a break around 7:30 for an hour or 90 minutes.  Today I did sprint intervals on the treadmill for 20 minutes (1 minute sprint, 30 second jog rest x 10) and then did a lower body lift until my client at 9. I box on Wednesday nights to get some more interval work in and relieve some stress at the end of the day.

Thursday: I have a weekly 60 minute training session on Thursday afternoons with my other trainer. Ideally I would like to do some cardio beforehand but that doesn’t happen often. Thursdays are one of the days where I feel a little bit on the tired side so that’s where my trainer helps out and holds me accountable instead of taking the day off. Trainers need trainers too sometimes 🙂

Friday: Fridays have been on the busier side for me so I tend to take the day off. I want to start getting a run in once it gets nicer out or at least tolerable running conditions.

Saturday: 6am boxing is on the agenda bright and early for me. If I didn’t workout before I started working, I may end up just going home instead of doing something. I enjoy getting my workout in early and not having to worry about it the rest of the day.

Sunday: Yoga is one of my Sunday goals. Ideally I would get yoga in twice a week but I’ll probably have to wait until my class is over and summer is here before I’ll have a little extra time on my hands.

Some people may call me crazy after reading my routine, I call it fun and enjoyable and just a every day priority. I will say this, if I’m having an off day or my body is telling me absolutely not, I will take the day off to recover a little. Listen to your body and check in with it often to make sure it’s up to the task at hand that day. It’s important to push yourself but it’s also important to take care of yourself.

So there you have it, what I do behind the scenes each week to practice what I preach. That is why fueling my body properly is so important and I focus on eating right… most of the time. Take a look at your routine… are you consistent? Do you take a couple days off for recovery? Do you change up your workouts? All these are good questions to ask yourself when getting a weekly routine of your own. Schedule some time each day to invest in yourself, you only get one chance to live a healthy and happy life… so take action and go for it!

 

The Shoe That Fits

 

Up until about two years ago, picking out running shoes was simply finding some that looked great and also had my favorite colors on them. I didn’t take into account what kind of support they would give me. That thought actually didn’t even cross my mind only because I figured if they were new they had to be decent, right? Nowadays, I realize that’s not always the case.

I’m on my feet more often than not throughout the day. I spend most of my time in a typical work week standing, walking, running and demonstrating exercises more often than I find myself sitting and relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, I would not be very productive or happy sitting at a desk all day but the years of playing sports and being active has taken a toll on my body even at the young age of 28. This is what led me to the conclusion that finding the right shoes is very important and crucial to keeping my body healthy and supported.

Every six months or so my knees start to ache and hurt when I walk upstairs. They crack and crunch when I bend down and though it sounds awful, it’s not painful…yet. When all of this starts to wear on me, I know it’s time to visit the shoe store for a new pair or two.

I recently had a great experience at Performance Running Outfitters a couple weeks ago. Were my shoes expensive? Yes.  Were they worth every penny? Absolutely. I recommend anyone who is active, in shape or trying to get in shape to go to a store that can check out your gait, watch you run or walk and put you in the shoe that best fits you. There are a lot of places that have more affordable prices but I guarantee the quality just won’t be there.

So I went to the store and told the employee there exactly what I use my shoes for. I think it’s important to get shoes based on the activities you plan on doing in them. I wanted a pair that I would be able to workout and run in but I also wanted some that I could be on my feet all day and feel comfortable when I’m training.

I think the best part of my experience was actually getting taped on a treadmill while running. It made it clear what my feet do when they strike the ground. It was very obvious that I pronate (when I run my feet strike the ground and go inward)…some people supinate, which is where they ground strike and their feet go outward. Look at the bottom of your shoe and see where the tread is the most worn. This will give you a vague idea of what your feet do each time they hit the ground.

The way you walk and run is just what it is. It’s nearly impossible to try to correct your gait by yourself especially as you get fatigued. With that said, there are ways to correct your gait and decrease your likelihood of getting injured. I could see just by watching my own running gait why people get hurt so often. My left foot would pronate as I stepped and it would naturally correct itself which is common. The right foot on the other hand would pronate as I stepped and wouldn’t correct itself.  Eventually, the inability to correct the pronation would catch up to me and I’d probably suffer from some kind of injury.

This is where inserts come into play. I was fitted for an insert that would correct the issues in my right foot but not over-correct the non issues in my left. I could tell in a day or two of wearing them that I made the right decision in going to that store. I feel confident that I am supported from the bottom up. I even got a small selection of colors and picked out some neon green ones to encourage the spring weather to get here. I realize they aren’t as awesome as the shoes I used to get but they are thankfully awesome in a different way. They are functional, prevent injuries extremely comfortable.

So when looking for shoes, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I primarily going to use them for?
  • What is my budget?
  • Do I have any past or present injuries that would affect how I run or walk?
  • Do I have any joint pain during physical activity?

These are all topics to talk about with when inquiring about new shoes. It’s important that if you’re going to invest in something, you get exactly what you want. Like I said before, there’s nothing more important than being supported from the bottom up. Think about a tree without sturdy roots…it would eventually fall or crack over time. Take care of your roots and make your feet happy.

Roll Out

 

For some reason this week I have felt more soreness than others. This happens from time to time where some weeks I feel great and some weeks I feel a little beat up for whatever reason. I must admit though that there aren’t many days when I actually feel like I’m 28. I am grateful for my good health and passion for staying fit and eating healthy.

When I find myself feeling this way, there are a few things I try to do to speed up the process of feeling better. If possible I try to see my massage therapist, Jamie.  She is amazing at what she does and I always walk out of her office feeling better than I did when I walked in. Massages have helped me so much in all of my endeavors. It has helped me through tweaks, tightness and muscle soreness from more intensive training for running events. I highly recommend investing in yourself if you don’t already.

Another way I try to reduce soreness and increase flexibility is practicing yoga regularly. It has helped me over the last four months that I’ve committed to making it a part of my weekly routine. I am now more flexible than I have ever been which helps in all aspects of my training and I also have learned to be able to focus on the present and embrace the change of pace that yoga brings to my workouts.

The activity I wanted to expand on a little today that has also helped me a lot is foam rolling. Foam rolling is like your very own personal massage.  I find it a good supplement along with seeing my massage therapist. It’s something I can do on my own time and before and after my workouts. There are five regions of the body that I typically take some time on. Think of the knots in your muscles as a candy Starburst.  If you were to hold that starburst between your point finger and your middle finger long enough, the starburst would start to warm up and stretch out.  (Thanks Jamie for that gem.)

Here is my ‘roll out’ routine:

glute

 

 

Glute: Start by sitting on the foam roller. Bend both of your knees and then cross one leg over the other. Whichever leg you cross over, slowly lower that knee towards the ground and shift your body towards that side a little.  People that have sore lower backs during or after a workout tend to have very tight glutes. Rolling them out will help alleviate some of that low back soreness if it’s muscular fatigue. If you find a tender spot, try to sit on that spot and breath through it for 30 seconds to two minutes depending on how it feels. This rule applies for any muscle you’re rolling out.

 

 

hamstring

 

IT Band (Iliotibial band): I find my IT bands to be the most tender area to foam roll. Lay on your side and roll from above the knee to the hip.  You can always cross your opposite leg over the top to take some weight off if it’s too painful and ease your way into it.

 

Hamstring:  I usually do one leg at a time so I can put more weight on each individual muscle. Roll your hamstring from just above the knee up to the glute stopping if there’s any spots that are more tender than others.

 

 

 

situps

 

Quadricep: Lay on your stomach with the roller underneath your quad muscle. Roll from above the knee to the hip flexor. I typically use my elbows to push myself forward and back.

Back: Lay on your back with the foam roller in the small of your back to start. I usually cross my arms in front of me, bend my knees and push off my feet to roll from low back to upper back.

 

 

 

 

Massage, yoga and foam rolling are great tools to keep your body in the best shape possible so it can perform at its highest level.  They’ve definitely helped me and I hope they help you too. Happy rolling.

Warm Yourself Up Workout

 

This week my idea was to come up with a quick and efficient workout that would warm you up from the super chilly weather we have had this winter. As I’m writing this, the snow is slowly melting as a wonderful ‘heat wave’ is rolling through. I figured the workout would still be appropriate as freezing rain is in our horizon or at least it was. With all of this said, I feel like for the most part I’ve kept myself in positive spirits as far as the weather goes. There’s actually something quite beautiful about living in a snow globe. I guess it’s all in the perception of how you view things in life. Don’t let something you can’t control, like the weather, bring you down. Just bundle up, give yourself some extra time to get to the places you need to go and do things that will get those positive endorphins going…like my Warm Yourself Up Workout.

So the workout consists of six exercises that you can complete in a circuit-like fashion. For whatever reason, the theme of the workout is exercises that start with the letter B.  It’s probably because they are all beautiful exercises just like the snow.  They are beautiful in the sense that they will challenge you, get your heart rate up and it won’t take you very long to complete it if you push yourself. 

Warm Yourself Up Workout 

Burpees 3×15

Ball Slams 3×15

Box Jumps 3×15

Barbell (or dumbbell) Shoulder Press 3×15

Broad Jumps 3×15

Bulgarian Split Squats 3×15

Go through three rounds of each exercise at your own pace.  Challenge yourself to finish as quickly as possible while keeping good form.

burpees

 

Burpees:  You will start in a standing position with hands overhead. Jump up off the ground and then bend your knees so that you can put your hands on the ground in the same position as your push up. You are then going to two foot jump your feet back or walk one foot at a time back into your starting push up position. Your back should be flat and hands should be stacked directly below your shoulders. Jump or walk your feet back to your bent knee position and stand up to start the exercise over again with a small jump overhead.

 

 

 

ball slams

 

Ball Slams: Use a medicine ball of your choosing and put it overhead. The name of the exercise pretty much gives away what you’re going to do so bend your knees and you slam the ball on the ground. Catch the ball, bring it back overhead and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

box jumps

 

Box Jumps: I would start with the smallest box which is usually about 12 inches. All you’re going to do is two foot hop up and back down at whatever speed you’re comfortable with. Be careful and stay focused during this exercise and keep your eye on the box as you jump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

barbell

 

Barbell Shoulder Press: I used a barbell but you can use dumbbells if they are more accessible to you. Stand with good posture and bring the barbell to your chest. Press the bar straight up above your head and then back down to your chest to begin the exercise again.

 

 

 

 

 

broad jump

 

Broad Jumps: Find a decent amount of space or even a clear pathway that you can use. Bend your knees and bring your arms back as if you are going to use them to propel you forward as you jump forward. The goal is to jump as far forward as possible and land as softly as you can with a bent knee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

split squat

 

Bulgarian Split Squats: You will need a bench or chair to set your foot on.  This exercise requires some balance so get yourself set up and stay focused throughout the exercise. Basically a split squat is a lunge with your foot raised up. Bring your feet apart so that if you were to drop your back knee into a lunge position, your knee would stay behind your toes. Make sure you stand up nice and tall throughout the exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

Have fun, work up a sweat and be proud of yourself when you finish.

Love Is All You Need

 

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day this week, I want to touch on something that I actually think is quite imperative to your success. It’s really important to eat right and get in a routine at the gym which is why I spent a few weeks talking about those topics. Another key to positive lifelong changes is finding things, whether it be food or activities, that you love…even if it’s a love/hate relationship.

I think this rings true for everyone so it probably goes without saying but I find that the things I truly enjoy and love are the things I invest the most time in. Family and friends are at the top of my list but my health is right up there with them. I’ve said more than once that it’s not ‘if’ I’m going to workout but ‘when’. Not a day goes by, unless I plan in advance to take the day off, that I’m not finding time to fit in my workout. Usually when I’m in a time crunch (which is most days), I choose the activities I enjoy the most.

So how have I found workout I love and things I’ve become passionate about? I have expanded my horizons and I’m always up for trying new activities. Yoga is one activity that I’ve come to enjoy and I’ve added it to my weekly routine. Would I have thought in a million years that my boxing, lifting, sport playing self would be a room of calmness and quiet where I can focus on the present? No way. But I tried it anyways and kept in mind what I personally wanted out of the class. I learned that I actually can achieve my goal of increased flexibility and quieting my mind from the normal hustle and bustle of my life and feel good afterwards. It was me taking a step outside my comfort zone and being open to new possibilities that really helped me. I encourage you to do the same.

Think of a class or an activity you’ve always wanted to do but were too scared or too embarrassed to try. Take a chance and do it. There’s a chance that you may not like it and you may feel uncomfortable at first. If that’s the case, give it a few more tries. Sometimes it’s simply takes getting acquainted with something new and in no time you’ll feel comfortable and more confident and you might end up liking it. Who knows you might be really good at something you’ve never dared to try.

Don’t wish, just do. How many times have you said, ‘I wish I could run a 5k’ or ‘Someday I’ll sign up for that mud run but I need to wait until I’m in better shape’. I’ve heard that countless times and my advice is always the same, just do it. Make the commitment and sign up for it. Set up a training program and keep your goal in mind at all times. There is never a better time to do something you’ve always wanted to do than right now. Don’t wait because typically those moments pass you by.  Most people find joy and passion for things that they work hard for. Who wouldn’t like the feeling of accomplishing something you’ve always wanted to? Trust me, you’ll love that feeling and it’ll keep you motivated to set a new goal in the future.

My last piece of advice is surround yourself with a loving support system. I really believe that these people can make or break it for you. Find friends and family that will encourage you, understand your goals and always keep them in mind when they are with you. There’s nothing harder than being tempted by the people that are supposed to be helping you achieve your goals. They should have nothing but love for you and respect for what you’re trying to accomplish.

My hope for you all is to someday find the same kind of passion I’ve found in so many of the activities I’ve been a part of throughout my life. There’s nothing better than finding something you love and enjoy. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Back to Lifting Basics

 

Though it is one of my favorite physical activities, for a lot of people it’s a part of the gym where they feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed and quite possibly embarrassed. The weight room can be intimidating with all the machines, cables, dumbbells and all the bells and whistles that go with it. I get it, so many things to try…where would you possibly even start? So I’m going back to the beginning as I have been the past couple of weeks. I’m even going to repeat a lot of exercises I’ve talked about in previous posts because I think it’s important to break things down and make it simple especially for those that are first starting out or even people that have fallen off the wagon and need to jump back on.

All I used for this workout is a set a dumbbells, a bench (a stability ball can serve as a bench as well) and my own body weight. This is a routine you can do at the gym or even at home if you can’t seem to get to the gym as often as you would like. If possible, I would try to get to the gym…I recommend this because I think there are less distractions to pull you away from your workout and it’s good to have some time to just focus on yourself. The interval workout ideas I posted last week can be tacked on to the front or back of your weight program. It still should take you no more than an hour to an hour and a half to get through all of it.

 

Weight Program

Dumbbell (DB) Chest Press – 3 x 15 (sets x repetitions)

DB Mid Rows – 3 x 15

Bench Squats – 3 x 15

 

DB Shoulder Press – 3 x 15

DB Lateral Raises – 3 x 10

DB Front Raises – 3 x 10

DB Reverse Flies – 3 x 10

 

Bodyweight (BW) Forward Lunges – 3 x 10/leg

BW Lateral Lunges – 3 x 10/leg

Glute Extensions – 3 x 15

Single Leg Glute Extensions – 3 x 15 

**each grouping of exercises are to be performed together. For example, you will do one set of dumbbell chest press followed by one set of dumbbell mid rows and repeat for two more sets. Just go down the list and perform each one and then just start over.

Here’s the exercise breakdown to help you make sure you’re performing each exercise correctly.

 

Chest Press

 

DB Chest Press – Laying on a flat bench with feet flat on the floor, (you can also put your feet on the bench if you feel too much of an arch in your back) start with the dumbbells around armpit distance apart. Your elbows should be making a 90 degree angle or so at the start of the exercise. Keeping the dumbbells at the same distance apart, press straight up from their starting points in a controlled, slow motion and control the press back down. 

**Make sure through any exercise you are breathing properly. Exhale when the exercise is difficult (for the chest press you will exhale on the upward motion and inhale on the downward motion) and inhale when you are coming back to your starting point.**

 

 

Mid Row

 

DB Mid Row – Start by putting the bench up at about a 30 degree angle. Lay on your stomach with your legs straight and your chest at the top of the bench. Your head should be above the bench. Start with the dumbbells in your hands with your arms straight. Bring your shoulder blades together by bringing your chest up off the bench a bit. Pull the dumbbells up towards your armpits and squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the exercise. Control the weights both on the way up and down. 

 

 

 

 

 

Bench Squats

 

Bench Squats – The bench or box squat is a very basic exercise to get you familiar with the fundamentals of a squat. Start with your feet a little wider than hip width apart and turn your toes out on an angle just a bit to open up your hips. Think about reaching back on the bench as you sit and keep your chest up. Your knees should be going out towards your angled toes and you are going to sit and rock back to a neutral seated position. To stand, push through the outside of your feet to keep your knees from diving in and try to keep your chest up as much as possible. The goal is to not lean so far forward to get up but rather use your glutes and hamstrings to bring you back to a standing position.

 

 

 

 

Shoulder Press

 

DB Shoulder Press – Start with your palms facing one another at about ear level and press them straight up from the starting point. Lower back down to your ears and repeat. With all of these exercises, take your time and just get in a good rhythm. You always want to be in control of the weight and not feel like the weight is controlling you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lat Raise

 

DB Lateral Raise – Start with the weights at your side with your palms facing in. With straight arms or a slight bend in them, raise the dumbbells so they are parallel with the ground. Your palms should be facing the ground at the top of your exercise. Lower both dumbbells back down to their starting point and repeat. 

DB Front Raise – Start with the dumbbells in front of you facing your body just like you did for the lateral raise. With straight arms, raise both dumbbells until they are parallel with the ground. Just like the lateral raise, your palms should be facing down when you’re at the top of your exercise. Lower both dumbbells back down to their starting point and repeat. 

DB Reverse Flies – Bend your body into about a 45 degree angle. Make sure you keep your shoulders back and chest up to promote good posture. When you are doing a reverse fly, you want to think about squeezing your shoulder blades as it is working those rear deltoids. With a slight bend in your elbows, start with the weights together and arms straight.  Staying in your bent position, fly the dumbbells out keeping that slight bend and squeeze your shoulders blades at the top of your exercise. Control the weights back down and repeat.

 

Forward Lunge

 

Forward Lunge – Start with your feet together and take an over-sized step forward. In this position you are going to keep good posture and instead of leaning into your front leg to perform the lunge, you are going to drop your back knee towards the ground. This will ensure you are continuing to stand up tall and it will also protect those knee joints. The same rule applies for lunges as they do squats…no knees should cross the plane of the toes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lateral Lunge

 

 

Lateral Lunges – Start with your feet together and take a over sized step to one side. Your toes should always be pointing forward throughout the exercise. Lean into the leg that you stepped out with, push your glutes back behind you as if you were going to sit down and keep your other leg straight. Push back off the outside leg and repeat the exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glutes

 

Glute Extensions –  Lay on your back with your hands at your side and your knees bent with feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips and squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercise. Lower your hips back down and repeat.

 

 

 

Single Leg Glute Extensions –  You will start in the same position as glute extensions except one leg will be up in the air. Lift your hips, squeeze your glutes at the top and lower hips back down. Repeat.

 

 

Take your time with each exercise until you get comfortable with the proper form. Remember everyone is at the gym working on themselves. They aren’t worried about what the person next to them is doing so just go in with a plan and execute it to the best of your ability. Start with a lighter weight and you can always move your weight up if it is too easy. A good rule of thumb is the last five repetitions of your exercise should start to feel harder and harder. There are countless different exercises and these are just some basic ones to start you off and give you some guidance. I will definitely give you an in depth look into the weight room soon. Happy lifting.

 

 

Cardio Interval Basics

 

I hope you’re well on your way to a healthier you. I know tracking your food tends to be a little more time consuming at first but once you get used to what everything is worth, it’s actually pretty easy. Like I said last week, calorie counting is not completely necessary as there are great foods that are higher in calories and a food tracker really can’t take that into consideration. Your ultimate job is to become comfortable to the actual value of food and go from there. Have fun with your food. Try new recipes and don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut with the same old foods everyday.

But enough about that, let’s tackle the next topic at hand: the wonderful world of cardio. I must say for me, boxing and kickboxing is by far the greatest interval cardio I’ve come to love and hate. I only hate it at times because it hurts so good and it’s always a challenge. I am tired after a burst of punching and kicking no matter what, then I have a minute to rest and it’s back at it again. It’s been almost four years since I started and I still find benefit it in. Plus, it’s a great stress reliever. I bring up boxing because I think interval training is one of the most effective ways to get your cardio done in a timely manner on top of increasing your cardiovascular endurance with each burst of speed.

I guess my point with all of this is you have to find what works for you. I know some people do better in a class setting. There are many gyms nowadays that include a lot of free group exercise classes in their membership fees. They have cardio, step, boxing, dancing, spin and many other options to get your heart rate up. The nice thing about classes is you don’t have to think, just do what the instructor says and they are typically 45 minutes to an hour which to me is a good length of time on average to spend at the gym (I would say 90 minutes is a good goal, and that means the time you walk in and change to the time you walk out.)

If you aren’t comfortable working out with others and would rather do your own thing, then cardio machines it is. First, you have to find what works best for you.  I always tell my clients, if you are able to run, run. Walking isn’t going to do you any good unless it is all you are capable of doing for one reason or another. I would say my go to cardio machines are the treadmill, stair climber and every once in a great while, the row machine. When it gets nicer, I will hit the pavement again and start running outside. There will be some 5ks and possibly a duathalon (run, bike, run) in my future.

So now let’s get down to some ideas as far as what you can do once you find your cardio of choice. Going back to those intervals I was talking about earlier, I would start wherever you are somewhat comfortable. Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a good tool to use when gearing up for your cardio sessions. RPE is a scale from 1-10 (1 being you’re laying on the couch watching tv and 10 being on the verge of passing out from exhaustion). When you complete your session, a good place to be on the scale is around a 7 or 8. You should be tired once you are done. If you aren’t, something needs to change the next time you get moving.

Interval Challenge #1
Sprint 1 min, Jog 30 seconds… Repeat 10 times through. You can play with the speed and figure out what works for you and how you feel according to your RPE. You can also scale it back and jog/walk if that works better for you to start out. I try to bump my speed up a little bit for each sprint. The important thing is getting your heart rate up and giving it enough time to almost recover only to bring it back up again. The quicker your recovery, the more you are able to endure.

Interval Challenge #2
These will be longer intervals, so your faster interval can be a bit of a quicker pace since your recovery time is longer.  Think 1 min sprint, 3 min recovery… I would try to jog the whole recovery time if possible.  You can do anywhere from 5-10 sets of these intervals.

5k Challenge
The last challenge would be to use some kind of program to help you prepare for a race of your choosing. I think it’s a great idea to sign up for goals because you then have something to work towards and also something to hold you accountable. I ran a 10k this past fall that I completely prepared for by using a program.  I used halhigdon.com and found a program that worked for me and my schedule. This way I had structure to my runs and also a goal to work towards. I found it very helpful and it definitely kept me on track. There are a lot of “couch to 5k” programs out there, you just have to find one that complements your schedule and routine. These programs will include different kinds of runs. Some will be tempo runs, some will be longer endurance runs where you find a steady pace and hold it for the duration and you’ll also incorporate some cross training as well.

Remember, these workouts (except if you’re training for an actual run) don’t necessarily have to be on the treadmill. I’ve done stair climber and row intervals and really felt the fatigue throughout the workout. It’s a great idea to change it up to keep things fresh and keep your body guessing. You are also less susceptible to overuse injury.

So have fun, try these different ideas out and see what you think. Take it from me, cardio is not always fun but you just have to get yourself started and you’ll feel great once you’re done. I always feel accomplished when I go for a run and have a good pace time or do a sprint interval session where I was able to increase my speed each time without fail. Just gotta get after it and push yourself out of your comfort zone. There is no point of doing any type of cardio if you feel the same way ending your workout as you did at the beginning. You should be sweaty, you should be tired, and you should feel the burn in those lungs that will get better over time when you are able to build some endurance. Consistency, like anything in the fitness and weight loss world, is the key to your success.

Nutrition jump start tips…check.
Basic cardio interval ideas…check.

Next up… one of my favorite topics: resistance training. In the next couple weeks I will get you comfortable in the weight room. I know it’s probably the most intimidating place, and the area where people need the most help (which is a big reason Personal Trainers have job security), and that’s where I come to the rescue 🙂  I will keep it simple and give you all the tools to get yourself comfortable with a weight training program. Have a week full of positive attitudes and new cardio workouts!