Category Archives: Man Biceps
So as I’ve been preparing for this Women’s Conference this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about female role models and the transformative power of exercise/sports.
And then the other week, when Ryan and I were watching TV, I stumbled across a woman who’d undergone a great transformation and was also a GREAT role model – Nicole Eggert.
So I don’t know how many of you have seen the show “SPLASH”…And it is actually really really stupid but for some reason we watched it anyway…And now I’m sort of glad we did because I came across Nicole…
But anyway, it is a diving show in which celebrities who have never dived before compete.
And Nicole Eggert, a lifeguard on Baywatch, was one of the participants.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – sports and exercise are incredibly empowering.
Over the course of the show, you saw a huge transformation in Nicole. She became stronger, more confident and empowered as she overcame physical challenges day in and day out.
At the beginning of the show, you could tell that she wasn’t confident in her body or in her abilities. But she had decided to compete and didn’t want to give up with her daughter looking on. She even bounced back after suffering a bad fall when practicing one of her dives publicly before the show.
She could have given up and even done an easier dive when she fell from the board in warm up.
But she didn’t.
She had worked hard and she was willing to risk everything to prove to herself that she COULD do it.
And guess what!?!
She did do it!
And each week, her dives got better and you could see her confidence grow.
Nicole wasn’t a world-class athlete competing for huge rewards. Many people won’t even remember what she did because she didn’t end up evening winning the Splash title.
But she was a REAL woman working hard to overcome challenges she’d never faced before. She was a REAL woman battling the same self-doubt that most of us women struggle with daily.
Nicole did probably the hardest thing that many of us could do – she put herself out there and risked failure…and in this case…very public failure.
She put herself outside her comfort zone and didn’t give up when the going got rough. She competed to the very end.
Nicole was a REAL woman who found REAL STRENGTH through sports.
Nicole is a REAL role model.
So this weekend, decide to become your own real role model. Set some goals and take a risk to achieve something you previously thought impossible.
So occasionally Ryan and I will watch the ESPN series 30 for 30.
They are always interesting and while some are uplifting, many of the stories are about athletes that weren’t able to live up to the hype or that were in some way prevented from living up to their full potential – many are stories of “what if?”.
What if the person hadn’t gotten injured? What if the person had gotten another shot? What if….?
For me stories of “what if?” are always a slight bit depressing and leave me rambling on to Ryan for hours after about all of the “what ifs?”.
But last night I watched one of the most motivational documentaries I’ve seen in a long time – one that really spoke to me.
It was the Dewey Bozella Story. Below is his basic biography. I took it from his website as I didn’t want to leave anything out.
In 1983, Bozella’s life took a dramatic turn when he was convicted of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to 20 years to life in Sing Sing prison, Bozella maintained his innocence and exhausted every appeal. He was offered more than four separate chances for an early release if he would only admit guilt and show remorse, but Bozella consistently refused to accept freedom under such conditions. Anger at his imprisonment gave way to determination and instead of becoming embittered, he became a model prisoner: earning his GED, bachelors and masters degrees; working as a counselor for other prisoners; and eventually even falling in love and getting married. Through it all, Bozella found strength and purpose through boxing, becoming the light heavyweight champion of Sing Sing Prison.
Unyielding in his innocence, Bozella never gave up fighting in or out of the ring. He wrote to the Innocence Project daily in his quest for a ray of hope. The law firm WilmerHale eventually took on Bozella’s case and uncovered new evidence that exonerated him. After being in prison more than 26 years, he was finally released in October 2009. Today, Bozella devotes his life to helping others, working with a non-profit that helps recently released prisoners rehabilitate back into the world. He has also returned to boxing as a trainer to kids and aspiring fighters, all the while maintaining his dream to fight one professional fight as a free man.
On July 13th, 2011, Dewey Bozella was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 2011 ESPYs. The 2011 ESPYs celebrated the courage and conviction that lead Bozella to the ultimate path of freedom after 26 years of imprisonment. Following the awards, Dewey Bozella realized his dream of becoming a professional boxer, winning his first pro fight on October 15th, 2011 on the undercard for Bernard versus Dawson.
Just reading this story again touches me.
I don’t know what it is…Maybe it is his un-wavering determination or his refusal to give up hope. Maybe its the fact that he worked to always make the best of his situation. Maybe it is the fact that he never comprised his integrity and refused to lie even for his freedom. Maybe it was his courage and conviction. Maybe it was the fact that he found empowerment and strength through sports.
Maybe it was the fact that he never gave up and got, at least a little, to realize “what if?”.
No, he will never know if he could have been one of the best professional boxers had he not been imprisoned during his prime, but at least he knew he could have been great…and there is some peace in that.
At least he never gave up on his dream and did everything he could to get it.
“Never let fear determine who you are,” said Bozella. “Never let where you come from determine where you’re going.”
Some of us never get started because we hate failing, we fear failing, maybe even more than we love winning.
Bozella failed time and time again and never gave up because he knew that winning was worth it.
While we may not be fighting for our freedom or our chance to compete in a professional sport, we are all fighting for some victory no matter how small.
The question is…will we let our fear of failure get in the way or will we realize that always asking “what if?” is far worse?
NOTE: I would like to take a second and also recognize some of the really inspiration things going on in athletics right now. We have some really brave athletes on our hands. Whether or not they will be recognized for their bravery or burned for it has yet to truly be seen, but I will continue to hope for the best!
So over the past few weeks, I’ve been searching for super hero t-shirts.
I wanted to get ones for Jodie and I to wear during her first 10k race. A Wonder Woman shirt just felt appropriate because Jodie IS a wonder woman!
But honestly, it was near impossible to find super hero t-shirts for women, let alone t-shirts with female super heroes on them!
The only few I could really find that weren’t impossible to get were just a tad bit too ridiculous for me.
So in the end I settled on a couple of men’s t-shirts with The Flash logo on them (which I did feel was appropriate for our race!).
But I was still surprised and disappointed that there wasn’t more female super hero apparel easily available for women (let alone more female super heroes show by mainstream media!). There were Barbie t-shirts and “Girl Power” t-shirts…but no SUPER HEROES.
I know this is a random thing to complain about, but it really bothered me.
Why aren’t our girls encouraged to be super strong. Super Fast. Super POWERFUL!?!
And then I realized WHY I had become obsessed with finding a super hero shirt for Jodie…
Because I wanted to express to her that I thought that all of her hard work, strength and determination made her a “SUPER HERO!”
For the last month, if even that long, we’d been training for a 10k race.
Before this past month, we hadn’t really done any running. Lots of weight training…a few sprints, but no real running of any length.
She was nervous to commit to a 10k knowing that we had only a few weeks to train. The last time she’d run that far, she’d spent months working up to it and training hard. And here I was telling her that she was going to go from never really running to running 6.2 miles straight.
I told her that she would be fine, but, while she trusted me, there was definitely doubt in her eyes.
But despite her doubt, she threw herself whole-heartedly into the training.
She focused on eating clean and sticking to her eating program even during stressful days. She stepped up her weekly workouts and pushed herself harder and further than she had before.
She made time for a healthy lifestyle even when there wasn’t time to spare between work and taking care of her beautiful two-year-old daughter.
Jodie committed to the 10k and didn’t let anything deter her from success.
And today all of her hard work paid off.
While there were no big awards…No huge paychecks….No huge public praise…Jodie did run her first official 10k race with a personal best average mile time.
But what is more important than the fact that she ran a fast mile time is what she proved to herself.
I think that during all of the training, Jodie began to believe more and more in herself. Her confidence climbed.
And today…she just gained concrete proof of how incredibly strong she truly is.
Today Jodie proved something to herself. Today Jodie became her daughter’s personal super hero (whether or not Jodie or her daughter know it).
While Jodie’s daughter won’t remember this race, she will witness other of her mother’s super hero feats. She will witness her mother’s strength, determination and perseverance throughout her life as she grows up.
And these feats of strength that she’ll witness, will lead her to become a super hero herself.
There may not be many female super heroes out there in the mainstream media or on girls’ and women’s t-shirts, but there are plenty of female super heroes that live among us every day…
They are fighting every day to become stronger, healthier, and more confident individuals. They are pushing themselves to accomplish things that they didn’t previous believe possible.
They face fears and risk disappointment and failure…
These everyday super heroes don’t have any super powers and most don’t even have a super hero suit (unless their friend does happen to buy them a The Flash t-shirt….)
And, unfortunately, everyday super heroes don’t always get “the bad guy.”
But the crazy part is…despite all the risks, fears and failures…despite all the setbacks and disappointments, these everyday super heroes never give up!
And honestly, the fact that these female super heroes accomplish such great feats without any super powers makes them even more awesome!
Jodie…You are an amazing and strong woman! You are an inspiration to all of us and more importantly, you are an inspiration to a future generation of women!
So the swing that I would like to discuss is the one that is best for your butt – the Russian swing.
The Russian kettlebell swing is a hip hinge just like a glute bridge or deadlift. The main muscle working in the hip hinge is the glutes with help from the hamstrings (and of course other stabilizer muscles).
And while you see everyone and their mother’s uncle attempting some sort of hinge exercise, most people don’t do it correctly - People either turn the hinge into a reach with their back (aka back rounding) or a squat.
It’s interesting…the hip hinge should be an easy movement for us to do but it is actually the one that most people have trouble with.
So how do you teach this easy but hard movement?
I start most people out with glute bridges. Once they have mastered the two leg, bodyweight glute bridge, I move them to a standing hip hinge near a wall.
The key with the standing hip hinge near the wall is to use the wall as a guide. You want to make sure that they keep their back flat and reach their butt toward the wall.
If they have trouble keeping their back flat, you can have them hold some sort of dowel down their back and make sure that the dowel doesn’t come off their head and butt because their back rounds or really separates from their back because they over arch.
If they seem to have trouble getting their butt closer to the wall (or even to touching it…I sometimes start them close enough so that if they do it correctly their butt will actually touch) and they aren’t rounding their back, then they are most likely squatting.
Use the wall or pole or something behind them to teach them to stick their butt back and hinge at the hip-joint. If they perform the movement correctly their butt should either touch or at least get closer to the object behind them!
After they master the bodyweight standing hip hinge near the wall, I will add a resistance band around their hips to teach them to be explosive with the movement.
With this move you face away from the wall with the resistance band attached to something behind you. You wrap the resistance band around your hips and step as far away as you can.
Then you hinge over and explosively come back to standing, squeezing the butt cheeks and driving the hips forward.
For this move, you will need to assume a more athletic stance (so knees slightly bent through the entire motion) than you would necessarily for the standing hinge by the wall.
The resistance band is an especially great way to teach the kettlebell swing because the band mimics the weight of the bell.
Your hips go backwards and you hinge over because the weight drives you backwards and you want to absorb the load. You then squeeze your glutes and drive your hips forward to propel the weight forward.
Once you have managed this you are ready to start on the actual swing. Start with the two-handed, single bell swing.
Starting with the kettlebell on the ground, you will hike it backwards like a football to start the swing. It doesn’t matter how high you get the kettlebell to go…and actually it really shouldn’t ever get above your shoulders!
You are powering each swing with your hip hinge. As you swing the kettlebell forward, you will have a slight lean back at the top and a slight posterior tilt to your hips because you are squeezing your butt cheeks. You arms aren’t working at all to lift the kettlebell…it is swinging because of the power from your glutes.
You then leave your hips out long enough to catch your forearms with the kettlebell descending. You don’t want to be hinging over while the kettlebell is away from your body. You hinge over only to slow the kettlebell down and absorb the momentum.
The connection between your forearms and hips is very important and is key to making sure this movement is powered by your glutes and not your low back!
Your forearms then maintain a connection with your hips as you hinge over leaning forward with your chest to counteract the weight of the kettlebell between your legs.
The kettlebell should go back smoothly and shouldn’t really swing up and hit you in the bottom. If it does, you are actually using too much power for the weight and can probably even go up in weight.
This video actual shows a great swing.
In this swing, his spine is in line from the tip of his head right to his tailbone. At the top of the swing, he is standing up straight with only a slight lean back and he hinges back over when the kettlebell drives his hips back. There isn’t a gap between his forearms and hips as he goes back into the hinge. Everything is connected and moves TOGETHER. As he hinges over, his butt goes back. He doesn’t squat and his back doesn’t round.
If your swing looks like this and you can feel that forearm/hip connection, you are doing the move correctly and can start upping the weight or playing around with variations.
Another variation of the swing, the single arm swing, can also be a great way to learn the swing movement as it can sometimes force people to maintain that forearm to hip connection. BUT this variation is more challenging on the core and may be more challenging on the grip.
To progress the swing move, try a double bell swing, but when you do this make sure you have a really really good handle on the other two variations first.
While the kettlebell swing can be a more frustrating move to truly master, it really is a great way to develop glute strength and improve your power. It can be a great way to get over a deadlifting plateau if you find yourself struggling!
Shoot some people even argue that heavy kettlebell swings are even better than deadlifts….and, while I love my deadlifts, kettlebell swings are definitely pretty freaking good.
So work on your swings today. If you aren’t confident in your hip hinge (if you round or squat), start with a beginning move like the glute bridge and progress from there. Don’t just jump right into swings and end up hurting your low back!
And….P.S. Speaking of progression yesterday…this article is basically one to do the kettlebell swing!
So I was on the phone with my Mom the other day talking about workout videos. She actually mentioned that she wasn’t very fond of the Jillian Michaels DVDS, which sidetracked us onto the topic of Jillian Michaels.
And my Mom informed me that Jillian Michaels went 7 weeks without working out and actually ADMITTED TO THIS FACT on TV.
For one…how could someone whose life supposedly revolves around fitness be ok with not working out for 7 weeks!?!
For two…how could you admit that you didn’t have TIME to workout when we trainers work so hard to tell people, that no matter how busy they are, they have time to live a healthy lifestyle?
And three….HOW CAN YOU NOT PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH!?!
How can you expect to convince people to fit in working out to their crazy busy schedules if you don’t find the time to workout yourself? (And how can she admit that on TV!?!!?!?!)
It also goes back to one of my posts a few weeks ago about the girls who ate all the Paleo baked goods…The girls who claimed they were doing Paleo when in fact THEY WEREN’T!
I honestly believe that there are a lot of different things out there that work for a lot of different people. So maybe that fake Paleo worked for them (but still call it what it is…and it isn’t Paleo…)
I’ve even seen my own diet and exercise habits change over the years…heck even over the last 6 months…Not huge changes all the time, but definitely slight modifications….(I ate more dairy. I ate super super low carb. I tried out some corn tortillas. And now? Carb cycling with some rice and potatoes. Not much dairy. Not much fruit. Barely any nuts…Mostly meat and veggies. YUM!)
But whatever exact program I’m writing about and preaching, I’M ACTUALLY FOLLOWING IT!
This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine when people talk about diets or exercise programs BUT DON’T ACTUALLY DO THEM.
Be it TV trainers like Jillian Michaels or even friends on a new diet and exercise program, I hate when people CLAIM they stand for something or claim that a diet does work, or for that matter doesn’t work, when they haven’t actually even DONE IT.
And I’m not saying that your current beliefs won’t change over time. They actually SHOULD change. You should constantly be learning and self-experimenting and adjusting to make things better as you learn more.
You should never be standing still. And just because you adjust your beliefs over time that doesn’t mean that you are admitting your were wrong.
It just means you are smart enough to always continue learning and GROWING!
You should take pride in the program that you do. You, in fact, should LOVE IT. And that means working always to make it the best it can be.
So whether you’re a trainer or weekend warrior, if you ever tell someone “get enough sleep,” “eat whole natural foods,” “cut out grains,” “lift heavy weights,” MAKE SURE YOU ARE PRACTICING WHAT YOU PREACH!
For months now I haven’t really touched a dumbbell or a barbell, BUT I’ve still been lifting heavy.
And while I still LOVE barbell lifts, I have become very fascinated by lifting with awkward weights.
In every day life, we rarely have to lift something that is perfectly balanced and easy to grip. So even though in the gym we may be able to deadlift 500lbs on the barbell, it may be impossible for us to lift even 100lbs in the form of an awkward box on the floor.
And which is more important to be able to do?
While I love deadlifting, I must admit I really really really get frustrated when I can lift or move something on my own.
I don’t like struggling to lift, carry and move things. And I most definitely HATE when I have to ask for help.
So while I’ve always considered a deadlift a functional lift, it might not really be that functional when you add weight in the perfect form of a barbell.
It was actually incredibly humbling to find out just how not functionally strong the barbell deadlift had made was when I did my first strongman atlas stone lift on Saturday (which is probably one of the most functional lifts out there).
The baby stone is 125lbs.
I was told to start with that one. It looked small enough and I figured I wouldn’t have any trouble. I could easily deadlift 125lbs!
Shoot…I even thought I might be able to attempt the next one up!
Uhm…lifting a round concert 125lb ball is WAY different than lifting 100 more pounds on a barbell.
The first time I attempted to lift it, I couldn’t even move it off the ground.
I couldn’t budge 125lbs!?! WHAT!?!
It was awkward and hard to grip. There was nothing to hold on to! You just had to squeeze the ball with every inch of your hand and arm. You even needed to use your back to grip the dang thing otherwise you were going to drop it.
And on top of that, it wasn’t just one smooth lift up like the barbell lift. It was a lift to your thighs before you needed to re-grip so that you could really use your glutes to power the ball up.
It was honestly exactly the move you realistically have to do when you move super heavy awkward things in everyday life.
I can name a few times when I’ve moved that I can remember attempting that exact same move to lift a heavy box (and actually failed to get it off the ground even though I was lifting super heavy with dumbbells and barbells)….SO FRUSTRATING!
There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to move something!
So it really got me to thinking about all of the time I spent doing the traditional lifts – doing traditional exercise moves.
While I love them, they may just be more functionally beneficial when done with AWKWARD weights.
You don’t need to give up deadlifts, push ups or any of the other meat head moves (that I most definitely love).
But maybe you can just make them better by adding in some awkward elements.
Like pull ups for example…
I can do pull ups off a bar…but pull ups holding on to some awkward rock climbing grip things? OUCHIE!
Or overhead presses…Instead of using a barbell, what about a slosh pipe? WAY more core engagement when you lift that pipe only half filled with water overhead (actually it kind of reminds me of a squirming child, which there is a great chance that sometime in your lifetime you will be lifting up overhead!).
You don’t have to go crazy making the moves overly awkward. Actually you SHOULDN’T try to add in too many strange elements. Awkward is good..Super awkward is crazy.
But anyway, after being humbled by the stone, I would DEFINITELY recommend that if you are training to be strong in life that you add in some more functional variables like awkward weights or grips! You don’t necessarily need to find a gym with an atlas stone, but sandbags and other uneven or awkward weights can be good! (And if you don’t already…get ready to add in some grip training…but that is a post for another day!)
When planning out your workouts, when planning out how to reach your goal, what factors do you consider?
Do you build on what you’ve done the days and weeks before?
Or do you randomly draw exercises out of a hat based on what is sore…or what you want to work that day…or maybe even what just seems like it would be killer?
Most people take no time to create a progression. They just string together exercises and workouts that are tough or have certain moves with no thought as to how they are going to measure their success or how the workouts will actually build toward their goal.
And then they wonder why 3 months later they still haven’t gotten results.
If you truly want to reach a goal, you’ve got to PLAN out a way to get there. I call this plan a “progression.”
It is a progression because over a set amount of time, it will work to step-by-step get you closer to your goal.
It is like building a house.
You don’t randomly throw bricks together and hope it comes out right. You have a plan.
And then you don’t start for with the roof or even the second floor.
You build from the ground up!
Your workout progression should work the same way.
You first build a base, you lay the foundation.
Work on form. Focus on correcting imbalances by lengthening and loosening some muscles and activating others. Learn the basics.
Then once you’ve learned the basics, you start to advance moves or add weight.
Make yourself EARN harder moves…EARN heavier weights.
Build up your strength slowly so that you allow your body to adapt so that you don’t get injured and have set backs.
And while you are planning out what moves and what weights will get you to your goals, consider repetition and set schemes. Think about rest intervals.
Consider how many days you are going to lift and how long the workouts will be. Also how often are you going to include cardio? What type of cardio?
WOW! Lots to consider right?
YEP! But if you put some thought into each of the pieces ahead of time, you are going to be much more likely to hit your goal AND when you hit your goal, you will actually KNOW what it takes to get you back there if you ever need to retrace your steps.
Even if you don’t hit your goal, you can then tweak things, taking out things that didn’t work and adding in new things that may work.
Otherwise you will just end up floundering around time and time again with no way of knowing what works and probably never actually hitting your goal.
I know it seems random, but it really does seem like building a house….not that I know that much about building a house.
You have to create the blueprints so you know where everything is going to go. You’ve got to get the right tools. You’ve got to know where to start. You’ve got to lay out the plans to get it finished. You’ve got to understand your timeline.
You’ve got to lay a foundation and then build upon it sometimes using fancy things and sometimes using the basics.
The point though of all of this is that you’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to start from the bottom up.
Ok so after all this rambling, I’ll try to break it down a bit more. Say you want to lose weight and get toned (hey it’s about to be bikini season and this seems to be about every other woman’s goal that comes into the gym).
A basic outline of a progression may be strength training 3 times a week with cardio 2.
With the strength training being three times a week, I would recommend some sort of full body-ish workout each of the three days. I would break down each day into maybe something like this…
Monday Press and Squat, Wednesday Pull and Hinge and Friday Rotational.
I would then select appropriate exercises based on the outlined movement patterns above. I would give them basic exercises to start. They would then have to EARN the harder more fun moves. Master the basic squat motion and then we will talk about fun squat variations. You don’t just get to do the fun variations…You’ve got to earn them.
Just like you EARN heavier weights.
I would start the person out with either light weights or even body weight movements for about 15-20 reps (of course depending on their level of fitness). Over the weeks I would progress them to heavier weights and lower reps. I would probably never really get below 8 reps. If I did go below 8 reps it would only be for a week.
Also, the weights would change slowly, allowing the body to adapt slowly.
Yes..Usually drastic changes lead to drastic results. But they also lead to lots of injuries that could have been prevented by just being a tad bit more patient!
While I’m a fan of the maximal strength rep range, it isn’t necessary for a goal like the one listed above unless the person does really fall in love with lifting. It may also be something to bring up in a later progression.
AND even though I’m not a fan of higher rep ranges (they are good…just mentally I hate counting to 20 haha), it is important to cycle back through that 15-20 rep range to give your body a break from the lower ranges.
Plus your body adapts to whatever it is doing so mixing it up can help you break through any plateau you may have hit!
Each progression would last about 4 weeks before I would give an active recovery-ish week and change up the workouts.
If you don’t change things up, you may hit a plateau, BUT this doesn’t mean changing things up every day or even every week.
Some consistency is key. It helps you track progress and it helps your body build up moves before you change things up again and make it adapt to new moves and weights.
And you don’t only need to build slowly with weight training. Cardio is the same way. You need to build an aerobic base first. Start with some long slow cardio. Build your base. Then as you up your aerobic endurance, add in some sprints. Start your sprints with a 1 to 3 or 5 work to rest ratio. Then decrease your rest as you get more fit. You can also play with making the sprint longer, BUT consider what you are trying to achieve.
What energy zone are you trying to work?
Consider the variables! What are you trying to accomplish and will the workouts you are doing TRULY get you there?
Anyway, so next time you lay out your goal, plan out how you are going to get there.
Things don’t just magically happen. If you want something done, lay out a plan to do it! Don’t just flounder around using random tools!
Ok so you’ve rolled out your hips and have loosened and lengthened the tight muscles.
Next, you’ve got to get the appropriate muscles activated – you’ve got to warm up those butt cheeks!
Most of us are quad dominate and our butts aren’t firing on all cylinders. So a few moves can get your glutes awake and ready to work.
The moves below aren’t the only moves you can use, but they are some that I like. They really make you feel your butt cheeks so that during your workout you will be well aware that your glutes are ACTUALLY working.
These moves may be funny…and yes…some of them are very Jane Fonda…but they are seriously EXCELLENT at what they do!
- Sit and squeeze – One of the simplest moves you can do to activate your butt cheeks is literally sit there and squeeze your butt cheeks. If you can’t do this, then you probably aren’t using your glutes at all during your workouts. If you are doing this properly, you should feel like you become taller.
- Kneel and squeeze – So in this one you are kneeling on one knee. So if you are kneeling on your right knee, with your left knee up, you are going to drive your hips forward and really squeeze that right butt cheek. You aren’t leaning forward, you are simply squeezing and hold that back butt cheek. You can make this a bit tougher, if you stand on one leg and bend the other knee to 90 degrees and squeeze the butt cheek of the standing leg. The standing move has the bonus of working on your balance!
- Fire hydrant – So this move basically mimics the move a dog does to pee on a fire hydrant so I’m assuming that is where it got its name. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Flex your feet. Then raise one leg out to the side, keeping the knee at 90 degrees. Try to not let the foot get higher than the knee or the knee get higher than the foot. Really squeeze the butt cheek as you lift. Repeat all reps on one side before moving on to the other side.
- Straight leg lift - To make the fire hydrant more challenging or to just add some variety, do a straight leg lift. So on hands and knees, straighten one leg out to the side and then lift that straightened leg. On both the fire hydrant and the straight leg variation, make sure NOT to bend your elbows. The straight leg move is tough and you may not lift the foot very high off the ground. Don’t force it or rotate. Just really isolate the glute. It should be firing on the first lift!
- Donkey kick – So setup just as you would for the fire hydrant. Instead of raising the leg out to the side, you are going to kick the leg straight back. Keep the knee bent close to 90 and keep the foot flexed. Don’t let the low back arch. Make sure that as you lift you are squeezing the butt cheek of the leg you are raising! Also make sure the foot is driving straight up to the ceiling. And do not let your elbows bend.
- Hip Circles – So this move combines the donkey kick and the fire hydrant with a knee drive. To do this move setup on hands and knees. First drive the knee back and do a donkey kick. Then without lowering to the ground, bring the leg out to the top of the fire hydrant move. Then without setting the knee down, drive it forward into the elbow. Keep the foot flexed the entire time. When you drive into the elbow, you should really feel your abs engage. Then lower the knee down and repeat.
- Clams - So these can be done with or without bands for resistance. If you use a band, put it around both legs right below the knees. Lay on your side, propped on your forearm. Place your feet on top of each other and bend your knees to just above 90 degrees. Then without rotating, open the top knee, squeezing the glute. A great way to do this at first is to set up with your butt right against a pole or a wall so you can’t rotate. You are opening your top knee and driving it up toward the ceiling by squeezing your glute. Lower down slowly if using a band and repeat.
- Glute bridge – So this move deserves its own whole post and will get it, but the basic glute bridge is a great activation/warm up move so I had to include it. Lay on your back with your feet about hip width apart. You should basically be able to touch your heels with your finger tips. Then bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Drive your elbows, shoulders and heels into the ground as you drive your hips up. Make sure your knees do not fall apart. Actively squeeze your butt as you drive your hips up. If you feel this a lot in your hamstrings, make sure that you aren’t driving off your heels backwards. You shouldn’t feel like you are driving back into your shoulders. You want to actual feel like you are driving your knees forward over your toes even though you are driving through your heels.
- Posterior Plank – So this move looks like a move right out of Flash Dance to me (maybe she could get her hips up a bit higher, but yep….it is the exact move. Start seated on the ground with your hands behind you. It is best if you can turn your finger tips toward you. Push up onto your hands and heels. Drive the hips up as high as you can and really press your chest out. Relax your head back.
- Band walks - So a great active way to warm up that butt. You place the band around both feet. To make the move easier, for one you can use a lighter band. For two, you can place the band up above your knees or even right below. The higher up the band the easier the move. The closer to your feet, the harder the move. Two great walk moves that I do…one forwards and one sideways. Walking forward…walk with monster steps out to each side. Do not let the feet come all the way back together. Also walk backwards back. Then walking sideways…just like a shuffle. Take a big step out to the side then bring the other foot to almost meet it, keeping tension in the band. Make sure the toes stay pointing forward. Don’t rock side to side. Keep the knees bent and take as big a step as possible.
So those are my top 10 activation moves. You don’t need to do ALL of them each and every time. I usually choose 2-4 depending on which ones I plan to do and what workout I’m doing that day. Today, since I was doing a posterior chain workout with single leg deadlifts and swings, I did 4 activation moves to make sure the glutes were really really awake.
Check back next week for a break down of some great butt STRENGTH moves! And if you missed it, or your butt cheeks are now active and ready to workout, try one of these deadlift variations!
It’s funny…when you first lose weight or lift a new PR, you feel super good about yourself.
But then after a while, when you stay at that weight or keep lifting around the same amount, you aren’t as happy or as proud with where you are.
It is obviously still a good point if you were happy to get there, but at some point, you begin to expect and want more.
You can actually become super UNHAPPY with where you are even if it is miles beyond where you started.
It’s like we get used to our success and begin to not see it as the success it once was – we begin to see it as the new normal.
And once something is our normal, we just seem to want to improve on it.
I know I do.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be satisfied no matter how much I achieve. Sometimes I just keep pushing and pushing expecting more and more NEVER giving myself a chance to take a break and enjoy all that has already been accomplished.
But you will drive yourself crazy that way.
Yes we can always become better, fitter, stronger, faster.
But is always pushing forward really good? Don’t you need to at points sit and enjoy what you’ve already accomplished?
Don’t you need to give yourself a break even if it is just a mental break from constantly pushing forward?
I whole-heartedly believe in giving yourself a “break” every few weeks if not a small break every week.
This new “normal” that you achieve can easily become a plateau if you keep pushing forward at the same pace day in and day out.
Honestly, your body and your mind can’t handle the same intensity day in and day out and sometimes you are lucky if you simply plateau when you don’t give yourself a chance to relax and reflect. You run the risk of actually going BACKWARDS if you never give yourself a break!
So once you’ve achieved a new normal, how do you use a “break” to keep you moving forward?
What do I mean by periodization? I mean that you cycle through times of intense work and really pushing toward your goal, working harder and harder, and then taking a little time to let your mind and body recuperate BEFORE you push forward again.
And when talking about workouts, I don’t mean the day or so you take each week to let your body recover from the week of workouts. AND I don’t mean a complete week off from working out.
When you create your workout program, you want to create a progression. A progression can be anywhere from 4-6 weeks in length. And over those weeks you should build each week on what you did the week before. This means heavier weights or maybe even earning more advanced and complicated variations of moves.
But anyway you look at it you are PROGRESSING. You aren’t randomly picking workouts. You are building each week toward a goal…even if that goal is simply to do a heavier squat or be able to use weight on a single leg deadlift.
And then after building for those 4-6 weeks, you need to recover. This can mean going back to body weight for a week. It can mean completely switching up your progression or even just doing different workouts for a week.
Whatever it is, you’ve got to give your body and your MIND a break from the constant pressure to move forward.
Same goes for dieting. And again I don’t simply mean a cheat meal or even a cheat day each week.
Sometimes you have to let go completely…like on a vacation. Sometimes you have to take a couple of days and just enjoy even if they aren’t on whatever usual schedule/plan you follow.
Your mind and body can’t keep pushing forward all the time. You’ve got to give yourself a chance to relax and enjoy your new “normal” but still improved/better/fitter/happier state before you push forward again.
So think about your program right now…Are you actually building toward something or just haphazardly going about things and then getting mad when a new normal turns into a month-long plateau?
Have you been working at the same intensity for the last three months and been wondering why you haven’t seen results?
Give this a shot. Write up the next few weeks and then PLAN in a week to enjoy how strong you’ve gotten while not focusing on moving forward or your goals for the next few weeks. Plan a week every 4-6 weeks where you are going to just enjoy and PLAY!