Friday, May 11, 2012

The Upper Body Move You Don’t Want to Miss

If I could pick one upper body move that works your entire upper body and can be done almost anywhere it would have to be the push-up. The great thing about this exercise is that it requires no equipment and can be regressed (on knees or an elevated surface) and progressed as your strength increases. Here are some push-up variations that I like…



1. Triceps Push-up: Hands right below shoulders, keeping arms tucked on the way down to the floor and then push back up

2. T-Push-up: Perform a regular push-up and then as you come up, roll onto your side in a side plank position with upper arm in the air (your body will be forming a “T”.) Perform another push-up and then do a side plank on the opposite side.

3. Spiderman Push-up: As you come down into the push-up, bring knee to same elbow then push back up and repeat on opposite side.

4. Negative Push-up: Start in push-up position and lower yourself slowly to the ground. Hold the down position for as long as possible before coming back up.

5. Military Push-up: Come all the way down to the floor in this style of push-up, raise arms above head as you lie down on the floor on your stomach and then raise yourself back up off the floor for one repetition. Be careful not to “peel” your body off the floor in this one, but keep your body straight and in line as you come up.

And remember if you can’t quite do push-ups on your feet yet, try doing them either on your knees or place your hands on an elevated surface until your strength improves!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dose of Medicine

A medicine ball is a great way to burn some serious calories and have “a ball” doing it!! They usually range in weight from 2-20 lbs so your level of intensity and work can change as you progress to heavier weights.



Here are a few of my favorite medicine ball exercises…

1. Medicine Ball Push-ups w/ Roll: Place one hand on ball and perform a push-up then roll the ball to the other side and repeat

2. Medicine Ball Squat & Reach: Hold ball at chest level, squat down then raise ball overhead as you stand back up

3. Medicine Ball Lunge & Twist: Do either a forward or reverse lunge and while you’re in the down position, twist toward the leg in front

4. Medicine Ball Slam: Reach overhead then using your entire body, slam the ball hard onto the floor and let it bounce back up to you

5. Medicine Ball Overhead Toss: Place ball behind your head and then throw it overhead against a sturdy wall and catch it on its way back down

6. Sitting Russian Twist: Sit and lean back while rotating ball from side to side

This is just  a sample of the many different kinds of exercises that you can do with a medicine ball. Try to do this as a circuit (10-15 repetitions of each exercise back-to-back) for a great strength workout that will also have you sweating pretty good.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tabata Training

Have you ever heard of Tabata Training before? It’s a kind of interval training that involves working hard for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds and then repeating that same series 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. You are supposed to go very hard and fast during the 20 seconds of work, leaving you pretty worn out by the time the 4 minutes are up.


You can do this type of training with just about any exercise. Here’s a few examples of tabata-style exercises that we did during our boot camp class this morning…

1. Bodyweight squats

2. Isometric squats (holding in the down squat position)

3. Mountain climbers

4. Push-ups

5. Wipers (holding upright plank position and jumping feet from side to side)

6. Jump lunges


You can also do a few core exercises utilizing this time of interval system. Here are some things that you could include…

1. Crunches

2. Reverse crunches (bringing legs in)

3. Planks

4. Bicycle crunches

5. Double crunches (bring both upper and lower body together)


I love using my interval timer to do tabata or any other type of interval training. Here’s the kind I have…



You can also find free apps for your smartphone as well as this website to help count you down. Give it a try and see how hard you can work in just 4 minutes!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hill Intervals

Want to get a great strength workout for your legs without using weights? Try running some hill intervals. You can do this either on a treadmill or you can find a hill near your home that has a decent grade and will be a challenge but not impossible to run up (I spent some time living in Houston, Texas where the only hill I could find were the highway overpasses. If this is you, you may be forced to use the treadmill for any kind of hill workout. Now I enjoy living in hill country where I have a plethora of good hills to choose from.)

After a good warm-up (think jumping jacks, bodyweight lunges and squats, arm circles, high knees, etc.), perform each hill interval for about 5 minutes. then rest for 2 minutes before going onto the next interval.

Interval #1: Run up hill, do 5 burpees at the top, then slowly jog (or walk) down the hill (If you’re using a treadmill, run at 5-8% incline for 2 minutes, jump off to do your burpees then jog/walk for a minute before repeating.)

Interval #2: Run up hill, do 10 mountain climbers at the top (right+left=1), then slowly jog (or walk) down the hill.

Interval #3: Run up hill, do 10 jump lunges at the top (right+left=1), then slowly jog (or walk) down the hill.

Finish this workout with some bodyweight squats, isometric squats (holding in the down squat position) and squat jumps and your legs will definitely be feeling the burn by the time you are through!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A bit about food…

There’s a quote that I heard several years ago that really resonated with me.

“You can never out train a poor diet.”

For years and years I justified my eating habits because I exercised so much. I could never understand why I wasn’t thinner or more toned with the amount of running and exercise that I participated in. Hearing and truly understanding this quote made me realize that unless I changed things in the kitchen, the hours and hours that I spent at the gym would be wasted for both my health and appearance.

I come from a family of BIG eaters. I remember being quite shocked when I would go to a friend’s house and they had five hamburgers for five people!! It was not uncommon for us to have upwards of 15 hamburgers for the six people in my family! Our ice cream bowls were more like soup bowls and our dinner plates were always piled high. By the time I reached middle school, I was definitely sporting a fairly portly shape. I was able to lose some weight in high school but portion control and making healthy food choices came back to haunt me after having my first child. You see, this was me about 3 months having my daughter…

May 2006

Yes, I know I had just a baby but the sad thing was that I weighed more in this picture than on the day that I gave birth to that sweet little girl. I somehow thought that nursing would be like a “magic pill” that would allow me to eat whatever and however I wanted and still lose the baby weight. Needless to say, it just didn’t work that way for me.

I really do believe that 70-80% of your success in losing weight and getting healthy will be determined by the food choices you make. Yes, exercise is very important and will help to motivate you for the other 20-30% of your success, but only going to the gym and not watching what and how much you eat will leave you feeling very frustrated with your lack of results.

I wanted to share with you two things that I have recently discovered to help me with that part of the health equation. The first is a free website called My Fitness Pal. This site allows you to track your food intake and has a huge database of foods to pull from as well as a recipe creator for your own meals (There’s also an app for you smartphone/tablet users.) You can track not only total calories consumed but also things like protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, sodium, sugar, etc. so that you can get a really good idea of how your diet truly is.

I am also a big proponent of eating clean (more whole, less processed foods.) Sometimes it’s hard to come up with good recipes for this style of eating, but the website has made things just a bit easier. Basically for about $5 a month, they will prepare a food menu for your family for everyday of the week and also give you a shopping list on what to buy for all the meals that week. The exciting news is that they now have a “Clean Eating” menu (in addition to many others) that allows you to have a great source of meal ideas for each day of the week. We don’t use every recipe, but even just 3-4 new meals a week is pretty exciting. Look on my sidebar to see a direct link to this site and enter in the code CLEAN to save 10%.

Eating healthy will always be a challenge for me, but is so very worth it. I definitely have my not-so-good days and meals, but I try to follow the 80/20 rule where I try to eat clean about 80% of the time and allow myself 20% to splurge a bit. I definitely feel the difference in how I feel though when I choose to make clean choices.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fun with Bands!

Have you ever worked out with these before…
Resistance bands are a great way to get in a workout no matter where you are because they are so light and portable. You could easily sneak these into your luggage while you’re on vacation or simply have a set at home if you can’t get to the gym.
Here are a few of my favorite exercises to perform with resistance bands:
1. Squat to press (Place bands under feet, hands gripping handles of resistance bands, squat down then as you rise up from the squat, raise your hands into an overhead press)
2. Band Rows (Place the bands around a pole or tree and pull handles behind you as you face the tree/pole. The further away you are from the tree/pole, the more resistance and harder the exercise.)
3. Band Chest Press (Place the bands around a pole or tree and pull handles in front of you while facing away from the tree/pole.)
4. Band Walks (Place bands under feet and hold handles near hips. Step out to the right then out to the left. For more resistance, try crossing the band in front of you.)
5. Lateral Raise/Front Raise (Place bands under feet and lift your arms out to the side for a lateral raise and to the front for a front raise. Keep your arms straight through the exercise.)
So here’s just a few exercises just to get you started. Experiment just a little and you can find a lot of different things to do with the resistance band!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Skipping Rope

Back in the day, I remember when I could skip rope for hours and hours and hardly break a sweat. Now this same activity is quite the workout!!
It doesn’t seem to matter how physically fit I think I am, jumping rope always kicks my booty and gives me a great sweat session. In this morning’s boot camp, we did a lot of jumping rope (and lots of shuttle runs too…remember doing these with erasers back in elementary school?)

Here’s the jump roping circuit that we did…
1. 30 seconds of straight jumping (30 seconds of rest)
2. 30 seconds of side to side jumping (30 seconds of rest)
3. 30 seconds of heel tap jumping (30 seconds of rest)
4. 30 seconds of toe tap jumping (30 seconds of rest)
5. 30 seconds of high knee jumping (30 seconds of rest)
If you’re a great jumper, increase the work segments to 60 seconds but keep the rest at 30 seconds for each exercise. Complete the entire circuit 2-3 times. Hopefully this little workout will help to channel your inner child!!