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

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.

 

 

Sunshine Workout #2

 

 

It’s round two of the Sunshine Workouts so grab some water, yourself and a friend and that sunscreen and let’s get moving. You can mix and match all the exercises in the past two workouts or perform all of them if you’re really feeling like a rock star. Remember it’s 45 seconds per exercise with 15 seconds rest to get set up for your next exercise.  Your core kicker is 90 seconds long and then a small rest before you start the circuit again. Get after it and keep in mind quality form is more important than trying to complete a hundred reps in the time allotted.

squat jacks

 

 

Squat Jacks.  Little Miss Addy helped me out with this one. The helmet is optional but she is practicing safe exercising and I can’t fault her for that 😉  Start with feet together and then jump your feet out wide as if you’re going to do a jumping jack. Instead of keeping your legs straight dip down into a wide stance squat. Toes can be pointing out on an angle a little bit just so you don’t put a lot of pressure on your knees. Jump back to your starting position and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

frop hops

Frop Hops.  Start in a plank position on your hands.  Jump your feet forward, landing outside of your hands and jump back to your starting plank position. If you want to challenge yourself you can always add a push up after each jump forward. Make sure you are engaging your core at all times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

plyo pushups

 

Plyo Push Ups.  You can do your push ups on your knees or your toes. Find what works for you and roll with it.  Perform a normal push up and at the top of your push up, push your hands off the ground and back down to their starting position. This is an explosive movement and will get your heart rate up a little more than a normal push up. If this isn’t going to work for you, rock out the movement your best at and do the best you can.

 

 

 

 

 

monkey hops

 

Stationary Monkey Hops.  Start in a plank position on your hands. Hands should be directly below wrists and body should be in a straight line with your core zipped up nice and tight. Keeping your feet together, you’re going to hop to the right and then hop to the left. Continue this burner of an animal exercise for the remainder of the time. Make sure to always keep your shoulders right above your hands and engage that six pack of yours.

 

 

 

 

 

planks

 

Core Kicker this week: Plank Up Downs.  Start in a plank position on your hands. Hands should be stacked directly below shoulders with your core zipped up. Drop down to your elbows and then push back up to your hands. Make sure you are alternating the starting arm. Keep your feet wide and try to keep your body as parallel to the ground with as little movement in your hips as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Next time I will be starting a series on some bootilicious and lower body work.  Get fired up and have a great week.  Get a plan for your workouts and your eating and stick to it. Being prepared is one of the keys to success in your fitness journey. Have fun and get sweaty 🙂

Sunshine Workout #1

 

Well it’s been a while but I’m back and I bring with me some sunshine and warmer weather. Hopefully everyone has been enjoying their summer and staying healthy and active. The next two blogs are going to be outside workouts so you can take advantage of being able to spend time in the sun… don’t forget that sunscreen though.

There are going to be five body weight exercises which include some of my personal favorites and some variations I have learned in workouts I’ve done in the past couple months. The best thing about them is you need nothing but yourself and some motivation to get you through. I was lucky enough to have some of my favorite little kiddos join me… workout buddies always make exercise more fun.

Without further ado… Sunshine Workout # 1.

It consists of four exercises that you will circuit through doing each exercise for 45 seconds with a 15 second rest in between. The fifth exercise will be a core exercise that will be 90 second interval. Once you get through all five exercises, take 90 seconds and then power through the sequence 2-4 more times depending on how much time and energy you have. 

Squat Jumps1. Burpee Squat Jumps.  Perform a burpee by placing your hands on the ground shoulder width apart, jump or walk your feet back to a plank position and then jump or walk your feet back so that they are a little farther than shoulder width apart. Come to a standing position and perform three jump squats, shifting your weight back into those heels and attempting to get your quads and hamstrings parallel with the ground before exploding up into a jump and then landing softly back into the next squat. If you aren’t able to jump, feel free to do body weight squats instead. Modifying is always 100% okay to do if necessary.

 

 

 

 

spider push upSpider Push Ups.  I’ll start with the most advanced way to perform the exercise and then give you modifications so anyone and everyone can do it. Start in a push up position. As you lower your body down for your push up, drive your right knee towards your right elbow. Alternate between right and left leg movements. The next option is splitting up the two motions. Drive your right knee towards your right elbow, bring it back to your starting push up position and then perform your push up. The final option is the same as the second but instead of doing the push up on your toes, you will drop down to your knees and then back up to your push up position.

 

 

 

 

 

split jumpSplit Jumps.  I have explained these in previous posts but here’s a refresher. Start with your feet in a lunge position while standing with good posture. Drop your back knee towards the ground without allowing your front knee to cross the plane of your toes. As you come up, you are going to explode off your feet and switch your feet while in the air into a lunge position with the opposite leg forward. If you’re thinking I’m crazy and that isn’t going to work for you, simply keep your feet on the ground and perform alternating back lunges. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

climber

Mountain Climbers.  Start in that push up position and stack those shoulders right above your wrists for the entire 45 seconds.  Drive one knee into your chest and alternate as quickly as you can.  Keep your core tight and your body parallel with the ground. This should feel like you’re running but parallel with the ground instead of upright. My niece and nephew sure did a good job ‘climbing that mountain’ with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

situps

Core Burner of the Week:  Roll Ups.  Roll ups are a slow and controlled movement using as little momentum as possible. Start by laying on your back, arms perpendicular with the rest of your body.  Keeping your arms in the same place as much as possible you’re going to sit all the way up and then slowly roll back down one vertebrae at a time. This is your 90 second core exercise so get in as many as you can but remember proper form is most important thing to focus on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have fun, work up a sweat and stay tuned for Sunshine Workout #2!

Fun With Resistance Band Circuit Training

 

Recently someone asked me if I had any ideas about an exercise routine they could do with their resistance bands.  I was surprised that this was a subject that I had not covered yet but was excited for the new idea.  Resistance bands are super easy for travel, at-home workouts and even circuit training when you’re crunched for time. They are a great tool to use for lighter resistance and higher repetitions. Bands comes in all different styles and thicknesses. I recommend investing in a few different thicknesses of bands so you have some variety in ‘weight’ for your workout. The band that I used for my workout is made by Power Systems and is long enough to be wrapped around an anchor point. It also has an attachment that you can close into a door and it will stay. Bands are typically pretty inexpensive and depending on how often you use them, they should last you a good amount of time.

 

The workout I designed would work well as a timed circuit. This means that you complete one set of each exercise for a set amount of time and then start over at the beginning. I recommend doing three sets of each exercise performing each exercise for one minute with a 20-30 second rest in between to get yourself set up for the next exercise.

 

Your workout will consist of seven exercises:

 

Using a tree as an anchor point:

Chest Press

Chest Flies

Squat to a High Row (not pictured)

 

Using your foot as an anchor point:

Squat to a Overhead Shoulder Press

Bicep Curls

Reverse Flies

Single Arm Tricep Extensions

 

Chest PressCHEST PRESS: Wrap the band around the tree and face away from the tree to start with one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t matter what foot you have in front…whichever you prefer is just fine. Contrary to my picture, the band should be at chest height to start, my band is a little lower than it should be though i was still able to complete the exercise with correct form. The starting position for your hands is palms facing eachother. As you press the band forward, your palms will turn down towards the ground keeping your arms at chest height. As you come back to your starting position, your palms will end by facing one another once again. Remember for each exercise that exhalations are performed when the exercise is difficult and inhalations are performed when the exercise is easier. For example, the press forward is the hard part so you’ll exhale and inhale as your hands return back to their starting position.

 

 

Chest Flies

 

CHEST FLIES: You will begin in the exact position as the chest press with your palms facing one another and your feet in a split stance. Again, the band should be at chest height and not quite as low as the picture shows. Begin the exercise by extending both arms straight out in front of you at chest height with your palms facing one another. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, (not 180 degrees and not 90 degrees but somewhere right in between those two angles) you are going to extend your arms to the sides until they are in line with your body. Press your palms back towards your starting position and repeat.

 

 

 

 

SQUAT TO A HIGH PULL

I failed to download this photo but you can always refer back to previous posts if you’re confused on form. This will be the only exercise where you will be facing the tree. Feet will be shoulder width apart and your arms will be extended in front of you at chest height. You will perform a squat with a good form… push that booty back and let your weight shift back into your heels not letting your knees cross the planes of your toes. Keep your arms outstretched until you begin to stand. As you stand, you are going to pull the band back towards you with your elbows high squeezing your shoulder blades together. Your arms will end at a 90 degree angle. As you begin to extend your arms back, you will perform your next squat and repeat this full body exercise.

 

Overhead

 

SQUAT TO AN OVERHEAD SHOULDER PRESS

Start with your feet shoulder width apart with the band underneath each foot. You have control on the resistance you’re up against by how tight the band is when you step on it. If you need to make the resistance easier, simply give the band some slack and then step onto it. The exercise is performed similar to the last exercise but instead of a row you will perform an overhead shoulder press. Start by performing a squat with your hands at your shoulders and palms facing in front of you. As you stand from your squat you’re going to press the band up overhead and repeat by dropping your hands back to your shoulders while performing your next squat.

 

 

 

 

Curls

 

 

BICEP CURLS

Start in the same position as the squat press with the same rules applying when it comes to how much resistance you can handle. Palms will be facing away from your body and you’re just going to curl the band up to your shoulders with your elbows staying close to your body and then return back to your starting position.

 

 

 

 

Reverse Flies

 

 

REVERSE FLIES

Grab the band with both hands holding it out in front of you about shoulder width apart. You can adjust the resistance if necessary by giving yourself a little more slack between your hands. Pull the band at chest height until your arms are fully outstretched at your sides and squeeze your shoulder blades at the end of your exercise. Bring your hands back to their starting position and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

Tricep

 

SINGLE ARM TRICEP EXTENSIONS

Step on the band with one foot giving yourself the appropriate resistance.  Since we are doing one arm at a time, feel free to switch arms at the 30 second mark. Bring your arm up overhead and hinge at your elbow keeping it nice and close to your ear the entire time. Palm will be facing up to start the exercise and just press the band up until your arm is extended and lower back down to your starting position. Your elbow should stay high the entire exercise.

 

 

 

 

Like I said before, perform each exercise for one minute doing as many reps as you can with correct form in that time. Give yourself 20-30 seconds in between each exercise. Try to perform one set of each exercise before taking a longer break before you start your next full circuit. I plan on doing another band workout post in the near future so have fun with this one and stay tuned for more band excitement.

 

 

 

Work Out Smarter

 

Doesn’t everyone want to work smarter not harder? Well I can help you accomplish that…though you’ll still have to work hard. Full body exercises give you a little more bang for your buck because they work more than one muscle group at a time. Though I know most exercises do this, full body exercises take it one step farther by basically combining two exercises and making them one tough set. You will tend to feel a quicker fatigue when performing these combinations but it will be very effective as long as proper form, breathing and focus are all working together.  With that said I would like to apologize for the lack of proper footwear in my photos. I always wear shoes when I work out but was taking full advantage of this beautiful day with a pair of flip flops and failed to bring shoes with me.

 

So here are the exercises I combined to make them into a full body, get your heart rate up and get you tired exercise. 

 

Kettlebell Sumo Squat High Pull

Kettlebell Sumo

Target muscle groups: Quads, hamstrings, inner thighs, traps, shoulders. (There are many other muscles all of these exercises work, I will keep it simple and just name the primary targets.)

 

Feet should be wider than your hips with your toes pointed out to the side as if you were going to do a plié. As you squat down, drive your knees towards your toes. Don’t let your knees dip towards the middle. One way to keep this form is to think about pushing through the outside of your shoe as you stand from your squat. The kettlebell will be in both hands to start with your arms straight. As you squat down and start to stand, lead with your elbows and pull the kettlebell towards your chin. Repeat this exercise.

 

Kettlebell Swing

Kettle Swing

Target muscle groups: hamstrings, quads, glutes, shoulders, heart. (When I say heart, I mean it will be a cardiovascular exercise as well as a strength exercise)

Start in just about the same position as the sumo squat but bring your feet in a little closer together and your toes can be facing forward. Think about your hips being a hinge throughout this exercise.  You should never try to control the kettlebell with your upper body but rather use the momentum of the swing to keep the exercise going. I always tell my clients to keep their chest up which will help them from putting more pressure on their lower back. Start with the KB hanging down and push your hips back with a slight bend in your knees. Keep your neck in line with your spine. As you swing the KB forward (swinging it only until it is parallel with the ground) throw your hips forward and squeeze your glutes together. As the KB swings back down keep your chest high and push your hips back to get ready for the next swing. Repeat this exercise.

 

Reverse Lunge with a Lateral Raise

Reverse Lunge

Target muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes, deltoids.

 

I have taught both of these exercises in previous posts but I will review them for you. Start with dumbbells at your sides and take an oversized step backwards. Keeping good posture, drop your back knee towards the ground without allowing your knee of the front leg to pass the plane of your toe. Step your feet back to their starting positions and raise the dumbbells out to the sides until their are parallel with the ground. If you want an added challenge, instead of waiting to raise them when you are back to standing you can raise them when you are down in the lunge position. Repeat this exercise.

 

Sit Up with a Front Raise

Front Raise

Target muscle groups: core, shoulders.

 

Using just one dumbbell, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  As you begin to roll your body up to a seat position the dumbbell will be out in front of you. Once you are in your seated position raise the dumbbell overhead and then slowly and in a controlled manner, roll yourself back down until you’re laying on your back. Repeat this exercise.

 

Dumbbell Bicep Curl and Shoulder Press

dumbbell curl

Target muscle groups: biceps, shoulders

 

Start with the dumbbells at your sides and then curl them up to your shoulders. Your palms can face each other throughout the entire exercise. Press the dumbbells over head and bring them back down to your shoulders. Reverse curl them back to your starting position. Repeat this exercise.

 

When performing this exercises, try to get at least 12-15 repetitions in and two to three sets depending on how much time you have. Use a weight that gets progressively more challenging the last three to five reps. Like I said before, remember to keep proper form, always breath while lifting weights and last but not least have some fun burning those calories and getting stronger. 

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!