Here is another round up of some of the posts I’ve done on Redefining Strength. Some of these are MUST-DO MOVES while others are just some fun exercises to include to mix up your workouts in the New Year.
1. A Suspension Trainer is a great piece of home/travel workout equipment if you are willing to spend a bit more money. My personal favorite is the Jungle Gym XT because of the individual straps and nice foot cradle. Here are 10 Upper Body Suspension Trainer Moves.
2. Have you ever used the Landmine? The Landmine is an often underutilized tool at the gym, but a great way to strengthen your entire core. Try these 13 Landmine Moves and get in a great full-body workout using the Landmine at your gym!
3. The PLANK. The Plank is a great exercise to strengthen your core after sitting at a desk all day. It is a must-do move if you suffer from low back pain. However, while the Plank looks easy, there is actually a lot of “form” involved in getting the most out of this move. Check out this post on Plank Form (and some fun variations!).
4. Want to make your workouts more fun? Maybe you should try including Monkey Bar Exercises in your routine. Plus they are a great way to get in a workout while spending some time in the sun. Try these 9 Monkey Bar Moves and strengthen your grip, back, lats and core!
5. If you are taking on the December Glute Challenge, you may want to try some of these fun Glute Bridge Variations. Even if you aren’t doing the challenge, you need to include a few of these Bridges in your workout routine. Bridges are a great way to counteract the effects of sitting all day at a desk. They activate your glutes and open up your hips! Check out these 20 Glute Bridge Variations.
6. If you want to become more coordinated and move better in every day life, you need to improve your mind-body connection. And you can improve your mind-body connection through Agility Ladder Drills. Agility Ladder Drills force you to learn a new movement and do it as quickly as possible. Learning a new movement and then forcing yourself to repeat it as quickly as possible improves your mind-body connection. It teaches your mind to recruit the proper muscles as quickly as possible, which helps you not only move well but also react quickly – both of which are important to moving better in every day life! Try these 30 Agility Ladder Drills!
I think one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves when doing exercises is – “Where do I feel this?”
Because even if we have perfect form, we may not be activating the correct muscles.
Activation requires us sometimes to actually concentrate on getting the muscles working.
So when you do glute bridges, don’t just go through the motions….Think about squeezing your glutes and make sure to concentrate extra hard on getting them to work.
This focus on the muscles working improves our mind-body connection and makes sure we get the most out of the movement and don’t just go through the motions.
And not only does asking ourselves, “Where do I feel this” get us to make sure the correct muscles are activating, but it also allows us to know if we are doing a movement correctly.
If you don’t have a mirror to check your form, but you feel the correct muscles working, you are most likely doing the movement correctly.
So by asking yourself where you feel the move, you are making sure your form is correct and that the correct muscles are working.
You may even find that sometimes, even though you have the correct form, the correct muscles AREN’T actually working.
For example, glute bridges…Bridge up off the ground extending your hips. This could look correct, but that doesn’t mean your butt is actually activating. It could look right, but you could actually be loading only your hamstrings or low back.
The question is what are you working? Where do you feel it? When is the last time you thought about it? Or do you just usually think about bridging up as high as you can?
Height doesn’t matter. Feeling it in your glutes and consciously squeezing them as hard as possible is what matters.
So right now, try the glute bridge. Where do you feel it? Are you actually working the correct muscles?
No? Maybe adjust where your feet are. Try not to bridge up as high. Concentrate on squeezing your glutes. FEEL the move in the correct muscles!
By asking yourself where you feel it, you will get more out of your workouts.
And all of you trainers out there…You need to not only ask yourself this question so you can better coach moves, but you also need to ask your clients where they feel movements.
It will improve their mind-body connection and allow them to know if they are doing moves correctly when you aren’t there. It will get them even better results and improve their coordination.
FEELING THE MOVES HELPS YOU GET MORE OUT OF YOUR WORKOUTS!
So stop going through the motions and concentrate on where you feel movements. It will improve your body awareness and make your stronger and more coordinated!
P.S. If you are doing the glute challenge, you may want to try these 20 Glute Bridge Variations!
I don’t mind complaining. I don’t mind whining….As long as you try!
But I can’t stand when someone says I can’t.
Because when you say “I CAN’T” all I hear is – I DON’T WANT TO TRY.
Or even I DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT MY GOALS.
Yup…”I can’t” really just means you don’t want to try.
And don’t start making excuses about how that isn’t the case…Because it is.
Most of the time we don’t say “I can’t” if we’ve worked really hard and given it all we’ve got and things just don’t work out. Then we say “I tried,” or “It doesn’t work.”
Not “I can’t.”
“I can’t” is just us giving up. It is us saying our goals really aren’t worth trying.
It is basically us making up an excuse to keep failing at reaching our goal.
It is you telling me that I am wasting my time helping you because you are never going to accomplish your goals because you don’t have the right mindset.
Harsh…Yea a little. But true.
You are also wasting your OWN time working toward something if every time you encounter a problem or hurdle you say “I can’t.”
So what advice can I give you? Decide if your goals are worth risking failure! Because results come when you put yourself in uncomfortable situations and do things you don’t normally do.
And honestly what is really the worst thing that can happen if you TRY? You fail? It doesn’t work and you’re still stuck at the same spot you’re in now?
Well, you definitely won’t move forward if you don’t give it a shot and instead just keep doing the same old things.
Because you can’t expect a different result doing the same old things.
So why not at least TRY!?!
Why say “I can’t” before you’ve even given it a shot? If you really want to reach your goals, you’ve got to be willing to TRY NEW THINGS THAT YOU AREN’T COMFORTABLE WITH!
So next time you think about saying “I can’t” consider what you really mean. Is it really that you “can’t” or is it more that you don’t want to or are scared to try and fail?
A small, easy, simple change can build toward HUGE results.
It’s because a small change has a low barrier to entry. It can get you started. And as you make it a habit and see even just the smallest result, that small change can transform your mindset and attitude.
And if your attitude changes, your actions will change as well. So that one little change can not only create results itself, but it can lead to huge changes in behavior and huge results.
That is why for December I want to do a 50 Glute Bridge Challenge.
Every day for the month of December, I want everyone to do 50 Glute Bridges..Any type of bridge that you want. (And yes…I do realize there are 31 days in December and am calling this a 30 Day Challenge…)
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or even super tough. Just something to get the butt cheeks activated and help open up the hips.
Heck even a two-legged, bodyweight bridge from the ground can benefit us all.
No this quick 1 minute workout won’t burn a bazillion calories. No this won’t completely alleviate all your low back, hip and knee aches and pains.
But it is a start.
And you may find that when you get down and give 50 Glute Bridges, you also take a second to stretch….Oh and maybe roll out.
And then maybe the 50 Bridges turns into some planks or sit ups too…because what the hey…you’re down on the ground already anyway….
The point is, 50 Glute Bridges every day is EASILY doable for EVERYONE. And it is a step in the right direction.
Plus it gets you thinking about moving – about doing the right things. And even a little bit of movement can make you feel better.
I firmly believe too that movement breeds more movement. Just getting up to do the 50 Bridges will make you want to move more and will lead to bigger changes.
So I encourage all of you to join us this December and take on the 50 Glute Bridge Challenge. You can do any variation you want and even have fun making up some of your own.
For a few posts about Glute Bridges to give you some variations to try, check out the articles below.
I hope you all join us and get ready to enter this New Year a little more active! Because even the smallest of changes can lead to BIG results!
(Shoot you may even find you want to work toward using heavier and heavier weight on those Glute Bridges as you progress through the month, which will really have some huge results!)
I feel like all the time I’m saying, “Well it depends” when someone asks me a personal question about diet or exercise.
Because the problem (or the good thing) about diet and exercises is that there are a lot of different things that work…You just have to find the one that works for you.
So my next question is…”How well do you know yourself?”
Because the better you know yourself, the more you can figure out what diet and exercise program will work for you.
What foods do you crave most? What has led you to fail in the past? What helps you stay in a routine? What motivates you when you feel like giving up? What causes you to lose motivation? What exercises do you enjoy the most? What type of workouts have you done in the past? Does tracking help hold you accountable? Does eating certain foods trigger your desire to eat worse foods? Are you an all or nothing type of person?
These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself to figure out how to create a program that will help you stay on track.
Because what works for someone else, won’t necessarily work for you. You need to tailor things to meet your specific needs – your specific problems and goals.
You need to know your triggers. What causes you to want to eat badly? What causes you to want to skip your workouts?
Consider these things when you create your plan.
Don’t plan to eat a cookie every night if you know that cookie will cause you to binge. Maybe pick a sweet treat that will help you stay on track. Or maybe skip the sweets altogether if you know they will trigger cravings.
Or if you know that not being able to have anything sweet will lead to a binge, treat yourself to a little sweet every day.
Like for me…I love dessert. I grew up having dessert every night and I feel deprived when I don’t get dessert.
Therefore, I have dessert every night….Or well every night I want it. Sometimes, and this is probably because I allow myself to have it if I want it, I don’t end up eating dessert because I’m not craving it.
For me it is not only about the sweet, but also about the lack of restriction. I don’t feel deprived because I can have it if I want it.
And when I am craving dessert, I’ve found healthy alternatives to more unhealthy desserts because I then get the sweet I’m craving while still staying on track. Because I’ve found, at least right now, that I can’t just have one cookie. If I have one…I want 12.
So for me a healthy dessert is the way to go…And then I save my 12 cookies for my cheat day. Because this works for me.
I like eating till I have a food baby.
But it works for me. I like the way I feel when I eat clean. And I like my day to overindulge. Both feel good because of the balance.
That doesn’t mean it will work for you. For you a cheat day (and yes…I LIKE calling it a cheat day…I don’t think of it as cheating on anything..it is just what I like to call it!) may lead to you falling off your diet.
For you, indulging a little every day may work better.
But you have to know yourself and even experiment to find what works for YOU.
And as you experiment, don’t be afraid to change things up; HOWEVER, you do need to give things a chance to actually work. Don’t just try something for one day and give up when you don’t see instant results.
Also, you need to truly give things a shot. Part of knowing yourself is also recognizing whether or not you truly stuck to your program.
Often we “think” we’ve done the right things and aren’t getting results, when, in reality, we didn’t stick to our plan at all.
That is when RECORDING and TRACKING can help us learn more about ourselves and what works.
Actually tracking is probably one of the best ways to learn about our triggers and what works for us.
Start setting yourself up for success in the New Year by tracking your current program to see what is working for you.
Consider your triggers. Recognize your specific needs.
Don’t force huge changes if you know drastic changes will lead to you eventually reverting back to old habits. Maybe make small slow steady changes and wait until one change becomes habit before adjusting something else.
So I ask you now, “How well do you know yourself?”
Do you know your triggers? Do you know what works and what doesn’t work for you?
Or do you just hop from thing to thing based on what other people say works for them?
And if you come to the conclusion that you don’t really know what works and doesn’t work for you, how are you going to track your next program (aka experiment) to learn what does and doesn’t work?
Start considering these things so you can achieve success with all of your goals in this coming year! Start setting yourself up for success NOW!
Despite being told hundreds of thousands of times, and our common sense yelling at us that there is no magic pill, we still hold out hope. We still believe that someone out there just doesn’t have to do anything and they look, feel and live the life of their dreams without ever having to suffer or sweat or work for it.
And I’m sorry but that’s just ridiculous.
At some time, in some way, everyone has had to work and sweat for their success. At some point they’ve had to sacrifice (even if they somewhat enjoy the sacrifice) and put long-term goals ahead of instant gratification and enjoyment.
Because the simple fact is that success means HARD WORK. It does mean some sacrifice. It does mean sometimes thinking long-term instead of simply living in the moment.
And it also means taking risks that could lead to failure. Failures that make you then reassess and adapt. That test your drive and dedication.
Failures that can make you better if you pick yourself back up and again…WORK HARD.
I know we’ve all seen the fitspo that say:
And honestly…It’s so true!
Often when we see people enjoying the fruits of their labors, we don’t think about all the work they had to put in to get there. We just see them enjoying their success and then assume it was easy for them.
But trust me. They worked. And they may not remember all of the sacrifices, and they may even romanticize the journey now that it is done, but they freaking worked hard.
Because achieving your goals really does means working hard. There is no magic pill. There really is no short cut. There really is no one that is just so lucky to have everything come easily to them.
So stop spending a lot of time and energy looking for a short cut. Apply that time and energy toward something beneficial…Like actually WORKING toward your goals.
And can I also say…This goes hand in hand with MAKING TIME FOR YOUR GOALS.
Let’s face it…There is never enough time in the day. But if you want something bad enough, you will make time. You will make it a priority.
So stop making excuses and searching for something that doesn’t exist. Instead get started working toward your goals before the New Year. Why not go into this New Year already moving forward? Why not WORK HARD and MAKE TIME for what you want!?!
Because if you want to succeed, if you want to make this next year an even better one, you will have to find the time to work hard at your goals. No Ifs, Ands or Butts about it!
I consider myself very lucky to get to work with people with all different fitness levels, experiences and goals. Because of the online training I do, I also get to work with people in many different locations with access to different equipment than I may have in my gym.
Therefore I constantly have to think of new ways to work the body and challenge people.
And that is AMAZING. Because all too often we get stuck doing things ONE WAY.
Same exercises. Same way of making them harder. Same rep ranges. Same set ranges. Same rest. Same tempos. Same same same same same!
And that isn’t a bad thing. You don’t have to go crazy or try every newfangled thing that comes out.
But as trainers, we constantly have to be thinking and adjusting to make things work for all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. (Or if you travel a lot and work out in different places or with limited equipment this may just help you too.)
Which is why I was excited when I got into a discussion with one of the trainers I mentor about making glute bridges more challenging when she only has very light weights.
So I asked her…How can you make the glute bridge more challenging if the weight you have is no longer difficult for the client?
She looked at me and said, “Add more reps?”
And I agreed that was potentially an option. Increasing or reducing the volume is a valid way to mix up workouts.
But I said, “What else?”
I knew she knew more options, but so often we get stuck thinking about the problem in the same way….Which is exactly what happened to this bright and wonderful trainer.
She was so used to having a full gym with plenty of weights to make her weighted glute bridges more challenging that she didn’t really think about how else to progress the movement.
So I told her to think about different variations of the bridge to make the light weight or the basic bridge more challenging for her client…
Here is the list we then came up with to make a Weighted Glute Bridge (with too light a weight or even no weight) more challenging:
- Single leg without weight from the ground.
- Single leg with the weight.
- Single leg without the weight off the box.
- Thruster with your back on the box.
- Thruster with weight.
- Thruster, single leg without weight.
- Thruster, single leg with weight
- Thruster with feet raised.
- Thruster, single leg with feet raised.
- Thruster with feet raised with weight
- Thruster, single leg with feet raised with weight (although being very careful)
- Change up tempo.
- Slow down the bridge up.
- Slow down the hold at the top.
- Slow down the lower back down.
- Slow down all three pieces. Or just one or two. Or use different tempos on each. Maybe do explosive up, hold at the top and slow down.
- Pulse at the top or bridge up, lower halfway down, then back up then all the way down.
- Try shorter rest between sets so she can’t fully recover and the weight is more challenging.
- Place her feet on an unstable surface.
- Add in other equipment…If you have towels or sliders, try using those for a bridge and curl with or without the weight…
And we could have gone on. (For instance, we could have even added in all the other bridge variations out there….)
And while some of those had weight, they were meant to use the weight she had on hand. They were variations she could do with the client based on what she had access to.
She didn’t need to skip the exercise, especially since glute bridges are ESSENTIAL. She just had to find another way to make it challenging without our normal go to of “add more weight.”
Same goes for so many of the basic moves we do. All too often we think “add weight” or “do more.” But those aren’t the only ways to add variety to our workouts or challenge ourselves…Especially when we don’t have more time or access to weights.
Don’t have heavy weights but love deadlifts? Try a single leg deadlift! You will need lighter weights than with a bilateral movement.
Weights still too light? Or maybe you don’t have any weights at all. SLOW DOWN THE TEMPO. Try hinging over toward the ground for a five count and then quickly coming back to the top. OR try a slow lower over and then an explosive movement back up with even a jump off the ground as you come back up (aka a single deadlift hop).
OR try only loading down one side to make the movement more unstable.
Or try doing as many reps as possible in a set amount of time and then rest very briefly before repeating. Shorting the rest period gives muscles less time to recover meaning they are already fatigued when we begin again….Which can be good if we aren’t going for a one rep max or even trying to increase weight each round.
Sometimes even how you pair exercises together can make an easier exercise more challenging because you can then use that movement as a way to “burn out” the muscle after it is already fatigued.
Also, traditional weights aren’t the only pieces of equipment that make exercises more challenging. A homemade slosh pipe or even a milk jug filled with water can be great unstable weights.
Or if you are traveling and need a way to make exercises more challenging (with something you can fit in your suitcase), suspension trainers, resistance bands, mini bands, sliders/towels/valslides are all easy transportable pieces of equipment to make exercises more challenging.
Anyway, the point is, you don’t need a barbell or dumbbells to make exercises more challenging. Heck, you don’t even need equipment truly (although it can make things more fun).
All you need to do is BE CREATIVE! Explore other options. Change up other exercise variables…that is besides just reps or weights!
So just to catch you up on some of the posts from Redefining Strength….
1. Burpees – We all love to hate them, but they are a great full-body cardio exercise you can do anywhere. Here are 10 Burpee Variations to try. And if you need a really quick workout option, try to do 50 burpees as fast as you can. Now there is a great workout in under 5 minutes!
2. Travel Workouts – Staying in shape while traveling can be difficult, especially when you are busy and don’t have access to the equipment you usually use. That is why it is important to have equipment you can easily bring with you and use in your hotel room. Here are three great tools, 30 exercises and a quick 15-minute workout to help you stay in shape while traveling!
3. The Kettlebell Swing – Crossfit has made the American Swing super popular. But personal I HATE the American Swing. I think it is pointless and dangerous and I will never teach it. Sorry Crossfit. You have many good points but the American Swing is not one of them.
So if you want a beneficial kettlebell swing exercise to truly target your glutes, you need to learn the traditional swing. This hip hinge movement is one of the best to get your glutes activated and help you develop strength and power. Check out this post on how to do the kettlebell swing and basic variations.
4. WORK YOUR CORE – And no…I don’t mean do crunches. I wrote two different posts on core exercises using two different pieces of equipment – the suspension trainer and the sandbag – because working your core is important to become stronger, faster and prevent/alleviate pain and injury.
However, working your core isn’t as simple as doing crunches – it means working everything from your shoulders to your knees down your frontside AND your backside.
That is why these exercises are so wonderful.
What are your favorite burpee variations and core exercises? Are you a fan of the American Swing? How do you stay in shape while traveling?
Around this time of year all our good intentions are forgotten and healthy eating is abandoned.
There is candy every where. Treats everywhere. Parties all the time.
And goals are forgotten because it just doesn’t seem possible to eat well with all the temptations around.
But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Both reaching your goals and indulging can coexist.
You just have to find balance.
I tell people all the time PLAN AHEAD. And that is simply what you need to do around this time of year.
We all know that candy will be everywhere. That baked goods will be given to us on a daily basis.
But that doesn’t mean we have to indulge in every single thing. However, it also doesn’t mean we have to completely resist things that we love.
It is all about finding a balance and having a plan of action to know how and when to resist or indulge.
Maybe treating yourself after lunch to one of those pieces of candy you have to stare at all day every day, helps you stay on track. Or maybe you know that eating one will lead to an all out binge so you resist knowing you would rather have a piece of pumpkin pie later.
The point is that you need to plan, to think ahead so that you don’t completely destroy all the hard work you’ve put in for months yet you also don’t deprive yourself so much that either you can’t enjoy parties or you end up binging because you are so miserable.
There is no one right answer to find balance.
But it does really help to know how you are going to handle the situation. To plan. And to TRACK.
If you keep a food log, you know what you consume each day and can see how it all adds up. For many of my clients, they are following macro guidelines.
And knowing that they may be tempted by candies or cakes, they plan ahead to fit in a treat now and then.
Because eating clean doesn’t mean perfection.
I know I’ve said this a bazillion times but it needs to be repeated. Especially now when often people let one little treat turn into a full on binge, which turns into forgotten goals.
You don’t need to let trying to eat well around the holidays make you feel deprived or stressed. Just find a BALANCE and PLAN AHEAD!
Remember what is important and really decide if you want the candy or if it is just there. Also decide if you will enjoy the treat or just feel guilty.
Because if you are indulging make it count and ENJOY IT!
I’m often asked how you know if you are working hard enough…especially since I tell people who being sore or feeling destroyed after a workout isn’t the best indicator of whether or not you had a great workout.
My answer, “Well it depends on your goals and/or the purpose of the workout!”
Not every workout needs to make you sore for days or leave you feeling like you are going to barf or die.
Working “hard enough” truly means challenging yourself so you can move forward toward your goals.
But if your workouts have no purpose and your goals aren’t clearly outlined, you can never really know if you are working hard enough unless of course you destroy yourself each and every time.
However, destroying yourself doesn’t mean you will necessarily be moving forward toward your goals. Because moving forward means working out SMART.
Because working SMART and working HARD are not the same thing.
You can work hard and get nowhere….
So maybe we shouldn’t be worrying about working hard enough so much as working smart…Which as I said above means having a purpose for your workouts and clearly outlined goals.
It also means TRACKING what you are doing so you can see improvements and progress toward your goals.
For instance, if you want to strengthen your glutes you want to challenge yourself to lift more each and every time. However, if you constantly are doing different exercises, you don’t really know if you are lifting more because each move will require different loads.
And just because you are sore after each glute workout doesn’t mean you are getting stronger.
So in order to really see if you are getting stronger, you need to have a move you can compare – a move you can add a little more weight to each week.
Notice I said a LITTLE MORE. You don’t want to make drastic changes each week because you also need to do a workout that doesn’t make you so sore you can’t do the other workouts you have scheduled for the week.
Basically you need to workout SMART.
It isn’t about pushing your limits every time. It is about creating CHANGE. Because destruction doesn’t guarantee results…Smart progress and change does!
Don’t just throw together workouts that make you work hard! PLAN OUT workouts that make you PROGRESS.
One of my favorite workouts to prove that feeling destroyed at the end isn’t the only measure of how hard you worked is the POWER WORKOUT.
The point of the power workout is to make you more explosive and improve your mind-body connection. Workouts like this make you stronger and help you recruit more muscle fibers faster and more efficiently.
A Power Workout leaves you feeling like you could do more at the end. You work for like 8-12 seconds and then you rest for about 5 times the length of time you worked.
When you rest, you should feel completely ready to go again. And you may even feel ready to go before you start. But you need the rest so you can be just as explosive each round as you were the first time.
Because a Power Workout isn’t about going to failure. It is about being super explosive each and every time. Which means you need to REST.
At the end of the workout, you shouldn’t feel destroyed. But doing this type of workout will create change and help you progress toward your goals.
Because working “hard enough” with a power workout doesn’t mean making yourself barf. It means being as explosive and powerful as you can for the short burst and then completely recovering.
Because working “hard enough” doesn’t really matter in the end if you aren’t moving toward your goals.
Focus on working out SMART.
Focus on creating a PLAN that leads to progress and RESULTS.
So stop asking if you are working out hard enough and focus on working toward your goals!