Category Archives: Play

Find Your Strong – Happy Fourth of July!

I think every holiday should be celebrated with a special workout…And of course food…But definitely a special workout.

Ryan and I every Fourth of July have gone out and done workouts outside at playgrounds.

This year we had our own indoor playground as well as a ton of friends around to play with us!

Celebrate your fourth in style and try our 4th of July Team Workout Challenge!

redefining strength bootcamp

TEAM WORKOUT CHALLENGE

Set a timer for 5 minutes. Complete as many rounds of the exercise as possible in the 5 minutes. Try to get a team of 3-5 so that you can alternate turns during the 5 minutes. Only one team member may work at a time. Record your score.

#1:
5 minute Rower (record meters completed by team)

Erg

#2:
5 minute Bag Pulls (record number of pulls…This can also be back rows)

pulley system

#3:
5 minutes Stagecoach Battling Rope Waves (record the number of waves that go all the way down)

battling ropes

#4:
5 minutes Partner Sled Pull (your partner stands on slider and you walk backward pulling them. Each 50ft length is one rep)

partner exercises

#5:
5 minutes Monkey Bars (every length you complete is a rep. You can also replace this with a hanging ab exercise or even an inverted row.)

monkey bars

#6:
5 minutes Slam Bagz Burpees (every burpee is a rep…Press the bag overhead then bring it down to the ground and jump back then jump back up and press overhead)

burpee variation

#7:
5 minutes Sledgehammer (count the number of slams…Can also be med ball slams if you don’t have a hammer)

sledgehammer and tire

How’d you do!?! Share your scores below!

Here are our scores:
1st Place Team USA with 2,079.5 points
2nd Place Team Cougars with 2,019.5
3rd Place Team Musketeers 1,868
4th Place Team Giraffes 1,845
5th Place Team Pup ‘n Suds 1,639

And I’m also proud to announce that one of my good friends has joined me at Redefining Strength. Jeff has launched his own training program The Resistance Training!

the resistance training

He is absolutely amazing and I can’t be happier for him. I’ve never had someone smile so nicely at me as I just wanted to roll over on the ground and not move for the next hour.

He tailors all of his workouts to meet your specific needs and he knows how to push you just the right amount to get results.

So if you have a chance, check him out!

Mommy and Me Workout

Happy Friday!

Yesterday, one of my beautiful soon to be sister in laws, Jamie, and her baby, my nephew Cooper, came in to workout.

Cooper seriously loves the gym.

baby deadlifting

He sees it as one big playroom.  He is obsessed with balls and we have balls in every shape, size and color all around the gym.

The last time Jamie brought him in when she worked out, I carried him around as I coached so that she could workout undistracted. (Actually I grabbed him up and ran off with him before Jamie even had a chance to put him down….)

Today though she joined me during my workout with a group so I didn’t really have the chance to watch him.

And, of course, she couldn’t just put him down and allow him to crawl around because then he wouldn’t literally get into everything. And trust me…he is one fast bear crawler!

So because babies get into everything and Mommies need a chance to workout, here are some great Mommy and Me exercises demonstrated by the beautiful Jamie and Cooper! (I think Cooper had even more fun than Jamie did!)

Mommy and Me Workout:

Make sure to first roll out any tight areas and stretch and warm up. Then get ready to have some fun!

Strength:

3-5 Rounds:

10 reps each side Baby-weight Step Ups

weighted step up
30 seconds Baby-weight Overhead Carry

Overhead carry

Walk and hold overhead

15 reps Baby Front Squats

front squat
15 reps Baby-weight Lying Chest Press

chest press
10 reps Baby-weight Squat to Press

squat to press
10 reps each side Baby Russian Twists

russian twists

Conditioning:

3-5 Rounds:

20 seconds Bear Crawl Race

baby crawl
10 seconds rest
20 second Baby-weight KB Swings
10 seconds rest

A seriously fun workout. And probably the best part of all was that Cooper just learned how to clap so he kept cheering Jamie on!

Partner Exercises – Great workout to do as a couple (or with friends!)

Working out with friends and family can be super fun. Having a group of people, or a partner, to workout with can keep you motivated, having fun and constantly pushing harder.

Because I think that working out with others can be a great way to have fun WHILE getting in a killer workout, I wanted to share with you all a few of my favorite partner moves.

I generally use these moves on metabolic days as they can really get your heart pumping when you do them quickly for 20-30 seconds. You can also combine just a couple for a warm up and team-building exercise!

Partner Workout Moves!

1. Partner Get Ups - The goal of this move is to try to stand of from lying down as much by yourself as possible. Your partner is just there for a little support. It is a great move to warm up the legs and core. To do this move, stand facing your partner with your feet between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. Your feet can be slightly staggered if you want. Grab hands so that you are holding right to right or left to left. One partner will then sit down on the ground and roll back onto their back. Without using their other hand, they will roll up and drive through their feet to come to a standing position. The other parter will have move forward with them as they rolled back so that they can help “pull” them back up to standing. Once the partner is standing, the other partner will roll back and then plant their feet and come back to standing. Keep alternating partners for the allotted amount of time and then switch to the other hand and repeat.

partner get ups

2. Partner Pulls – Grab your partner’s hand and step the opposite forward into a strong stance facing your partner. This move is a great upper body move that forces you to each act as the other’s resistance. Your goal is to  keep tension the entire time you are doing this move and create a little arm “shake-age” (as I like to call it). You want to make each other really work for every inch of movement. HOWEVER, you do not want to resist so hard that the other person can’t move. There should be slow and steady movement back and forth. To do this move, set up and then one person should pull toward their armpit while the other slowly allows their arm to extend, resisting the pull. As soon as the partner is fully extended, they should start pulling back toward their armpit while the other person resists. A slight rotation as you pull is fine, but you shouldn’t rotate a lot. Also do not round the shoulders or really lean back. Keep a nice tall posture and a slight leg bend.

Partner pulls

3. Partner Pushes – Partner pushes are just a push variation of the move above. Instead of actually holding hands though, you and your partner will put palm to palm with finger tips pointing up. This will force both of you to really PUSH and not pull at all back and forth.

4. Partner Crawls and Jumps – A great core move. Have one person set up in sort of a pike/downward dog position. They want to have their butt up in the air to give their partner plenty of room to crawl under. The other partner will crawl under. To make the crawl easier, have your knees on the ground. To make it harder, try not to allow your knees to touch the ground while still managing to crawl under your partner. Once you crawl under, your partner will drop to the ground (like at the bottom of a push up) so that you can jump over. To make the drop harder, hold at the bottom of a push up. To make it a bit easier, just rest on the ground. Hop laterally over your partner. Try to hop with both feet together, however, you can jump forward or hop one foot at a time if you are just beginning (Please just don’t land on your partner….they probably wouldn’t like that too much….). Once you’ve jumped over, drop to the ground and set up so they can crawl under you and then jump over. Keep repeating until the time is up.Partner crawl under jump over

5. Partner Hamstring Curls – One of the toughest hamstring moves out there and one of my favorite from training in college. (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of this last night but will try to get one today.) One partner should kneel on a mat or slightly cushioned flooring and flex their feet. The other partner will kneel behind them. The partner behind will grab the ankles of the front partner and really hold them into the ground. The back partner is the anchor that helps the other partner curl back up. The harder the back partner presses into the ground, the more assistance they give the front partner. The front partner will then slowly fall forward toward the ground with their hands outside their chest to catch them once they hit the ground. Go as slowly toward the ground as you can to really work your hamstrings. Basically all that should be happening is that the front partner is straightening at the knees as they go over. Their body should stay in a nice straight line. Once the front partner hits the ground, they will then press themselves back with their hands only as much as needed and PULL themselves back up with their hamstrings. They should keep their body in a straight line. If their butt starts to go back first, they didn’t push up enough with their arms. This move (especially the curling back up part) is very advanced. Beginners may want to start with a wall in front of them. Control your decent toward the wall. Truly go as slowly as possible. Once you hit the wall, press yourself away, trying to curl yourself back up as much as possible with your hamstrings. Repeat all reps and then the other partner goes.

6. Partner Drags or Pulls - So this move can be done two different ways. My favorite is with the valslides/sliders/furniture movers just because both partners are working hard the entire time; however, if you are outside/at home/don’t have sliders, the other move is still challenging and fun! To do partner pulls, one partner stands with each foot on a valslide. They will sink into a squat (90 degrees) and extend their arms out in front, crossing one arm over the other. The other partner will grab their hands and then drag them, walking backward as quickly as they can. This kills the legs of both people and really works the core of the person on the sliders. Do not allow yourself to fall forward or round when on the sliders. Also do not let your knees cave in. Maintain proper squat form. (It may take a round to get used to the balance). If you are pulling, try to be steady and smooth in your steps. If you jerk your partner, they will have to work doubly hard to balance. Then switch and the other person pulls while the other is dragged. To do partner drags, one partner will stand with their back to the other partner. They will cross their hands over their chest. The back partner will then reach up under their armpits from behind them and the front partner will then lean back into the back partner. The back partner will then be holding the weight of the front partner. The front partner will not be supporting themself. Their feet will just be relaxed on the ground as the back partner is holding them. The back partner will then “drag” the front partner. After completing the round, the partner that was dragged will then be the “dragger.”partner drags

partner carry

Poor Carla…having to be carried by the sweat monster! (Luckily I wasn’t even sweating that much for me!)

7. Partner Carries - This is an advanced move and a very full body one. Please be careful when attempting this as you must keep your core tight or risk back injury. To do this move, one partner will be carried. To pick up your partner, have them face you while you are sideways. You are going to reach through their legs and hook your arm around and up. As you reach through though, you should have their other hand over your back and in your other hand. Get the partner over your back right up by your shoulders. Brace your core and have your partner put their bottom, free hand, on your low back to help brace. Get them situated up high on your back and then walk. When done, switch and have them carry you.

8. Partner Medball Sit Ups and Throw - Take a light medicine ball. One partner will be standing while the  other is on the ground performing a sit up. The partner on the ground should bend their knees and lay back on the ground with the ball extended overhead. As they sit up, they are going to throw the ball to the partner that is standing. The partner standing will then pass the ball back to the partner that is seated and then will lie back down and repeat. Switch once the time or reps are completed.

sit up and pass

9. Partner Medball Russian Twists - Sit side-by-side with a foot or two of space between you. The farther apart you sit the more difficult the move will be since you have to pass it that distance. Both of you should lean back slightly and raise your feet off the ground to balance on your bums (if you are a beginner, you can keep your feet on the ground, but still remember to lean back to engage your abs). The partner with the ball will rotate the ball to the outside of the hip that is away from their partner. They will then toss the ball across their body to their partner. The partner will catch it and rotate the ball out to their side farthest from their partner and then throw it back. Repeat all reps and then face the other direction so that you can throw the other direction.

partner russian twists

10. Partner Medball Chest Passes and Shuffle - Stand facing your partner. The farther apart you stand the harder the move will be because you will pass further. You can also use a heavier ball to make the move harder. We demonstrated this move as just a chest pass, however, I like it as the chest pass and shuffle. Beginners may want to start with just the pass though. To perform this move, you are going to pass the ball back and forth in a chest pass. As you pass the ball back and forth, you are also going to shuffle sideways down and back. The faster you shuffle and pass, the harder the move. Make sure to not get ahead of your partner. You want to work together not smash the ball at each other’s faces.

chest pass

Bonus move: Partner sled complex….Because sometimes it is just fun to sit on a sled and go for a ride! (Do Tsunamis off the sled. Pull the sled toward you, push it back and then crawl backward back!)partner sled

Note: A big THANK YOU to Carla and Jaydee of the Vanguard Volleyball Team for helping me snap some photos! These moves are best done with a partner at your similar fitness level and/or size (if you are short and working with a tall person the crawls will not be easy for that taller person).

Celebrating Fourth of July…With a park workout!

This is Ryan and my first fourth of July out in Cali…And I can’t say I’ve minded at all!

Fourth of July is one of Ryan’s favorite holidays…Random, I know. But he LOVES warm weather and therefore loves summer holidays. So we always have to do a little something outside.

Last fourth of July was one of our last weeks in Boston. We celebrated with an outdoor workout and some delicious BBQ.

This year, we kept the tradition going with a great outdoor park workout – sprints, monkey bar pull ups and battling ropes.

battling ropes

Ryan willing to make a rare appearance after our workout…and me super sweaty and tired.

Our workout was only 15 minutes, but it was a killer. A great way to kick-start the day!

What’s your favorite quick outdoor workout?

Anyway…Happy Fourth! Go outside and play! Soak up some Vitamin D and de-stress.

The New Normal and Periodization

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?

One word…Periodization.

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!

What’s it really all for?

Yesterday was the OKC California Open Championship.

I placed first in my weight class for 16kg long cycle…

Out of one haha

Which honestly didn’t lift my spirits at all after I failed to hit the number of reps I set out to hit.

Because I wasn’t there to compete against anyone else.

I was there to best my own goals and prove something to myself.

858416_10151512809579913_901318180_o

I was there to do long cycle and  hit 88 reps in 10 minutes.

I fell short at 73.

Actually, I probably hit almost 100 reps, but unfortunately about 30 didn’t count because my jerk or push press from the clean wasn’t completely fluid (long cycle is basically the kettlebell version of clean to press). I guess I had a little hitch to fully straighten my elbow more like an overhead press than a perfect jerk. (I will now study my video and work tirelessly to correct it.)

I’m mad at myself that I didn’t have exactly perfect form on the press overhead.

I’m mad at myself for not realizing the connection between the not counted reps and the fact that it had to do with my press since I did do the form correctly for 73 reps so could have really focused on that specific movement and potentially still hit 88.

I’m mad at myself that at 1 minute 30 left when I started to fatigued a little I did 3 no count movements in a row (aka 3 un-fluid presses) and got my 10 minutes cut short.

I’m mad that I didn’t live up to my own expectations.

A ton of people came up to me and told me that I did an amazing job especially for my first competition. A ton of people congratulated me on a great lift. A ton of people told me they couldn’t believe I lifted with 16kg in my first competition. A ton of people….

Honestly, it didn’t matter what they said.

I am my own harshest critic and the one that matters the most to me.

Because I don’t do these competitions for anyone else but myself.

There are no million dollar checks or TV deals. There are no big prizes and most people around me will never know about half, if any, of my weekend expeditions.

There may never be anything I compete in that I’m best in the world at.

But that isn’t the point…is it?

The point is to go out there and hit that goal that I set out to hit. To prove something to yourself. If you happen to win or get some sort of award, that is always a bonus but not the reason to compete.

So while yesterday I walked away feeling a bit defeated, I’m ready to reset. Train hard. Get stronger. Get tougher. And go out there again in August and kick some serious kettlebell butt!

Are you ready to pick yourself back up and get right back to it?

Next time I will also be practicing better hand care...About 1 minute in bye, bye skin on both hands.

Next time I will also be practicing better hand care…About 1 minute in bye, bye skin on both hands.

Loving my Under Armour

Ok so a few weeks ago, I was contacted by an Under Armour rep. about doing a product review and giveaway.

I won’t do promotional things UNLESS I really believe in the company or brand – and I LOVE Under Armour.

I actually gained a huge respect for the brand when they started the “What’s Beautiful” competition.

So when he offered me a chance to review a product and give one away to a dedicated Man Bicep reader, I jumped right on the opportunity.

I work in a gym with tires, atlas stones, barbells, dumbbells, ropes and sleds. While we do have a cleaning crew that does a great job, the gym does have that sort of dirty outdoor feel.

It definitely isn’t a gym where I want to wear Lululemon. (Granted I only sometimes even wear my stuff from Lululemon to lift…It just doesn’t feel right to me…but that is me.)

BUT I do love wearing big comfortable t-shirts to workout in AND my Under Armour clothes.

I have a number of shirts from Under Armour, which are cute and flattering BUT NOT TIGHT (Even though I have half-naked photos on my blog, I really don’t like tight clothing.)

So anyway, I love my Under Armour stuff because it is cute but makes me feel comfortable and just seems to fit with all of the different things in the gym.

However, most of the Under Armour stuff I have is short-sleeved and while it isn’t COLD here, in a gym with no heat, you do sometimes need a sweatshirt.

And an Under Armour sweatshirt is one thing I didn’t have so I chose to review that product!

I got the purple Fleece Divide Hoody and I LOVE it!

It is warm and cute and comfortable (and I’m a fan of color so I love the brightness). I like mine loose so I got a medium and it fits perfectly! It is fitted enough without being skin-tight.

It makes me feel like I’m wearing something stylish, but at the same time it isn’t so cute or fragile feeling that I’m afraid to get it a little dirty.

It is perfect to lift in and perfect to coach in.

Some breathing squats to warm up

Some breathing squats to warm up

Deadlift warm up

Deadlift warm up

(Ok so these pictures are taken from this morning workout and I look tired…I’m apparently not a morning person any more…)

The only “negative” I guess is that it is missing thumb holes, but I’m just a weirdo and like to play with those…

So who is interested in getting their own Fleece Divide Hoody!?!

Check back later today for the GIVEAWAY!

P.S. I’ve decided breathing squats are going to be awful by the end of next week. Right now the weight is light enough that 20 in a row down to a low box isn’t bad, but once I up the weight next week…UH OH!

Active Rest

So I finished my latest workout progression last Wednesday with 20 minutes on the battling ropes.

I then took four days off while I traveled to visit the Man Bicep Mom and my sister (which by the way was SO much fun!).

Since coming back, I’ve been working out with no clear direction. I figured my body could use the break from intense training and it is nice every once in a while to take a week to just play!

I’m just experimenting, trying new things and working on strengthening areas for my next progression. I’ll probably just “goof around” until Monday when I start a two-week powerlifting progression before getting back to training for the OKC Kettlebell competition we will be holding in February.

The other day I tried this glute bridge exercise that I’ve seen one of the owners, Corey, doing on a regular basis. It was killer and a great way to improve my deadlift. I’ve also tested out a few core exercises I’d found online and worked on my kettlebell swing.

Then today I jumped in on one of Aaron’s workouts and got my first chance to work with the atlas stones.

While I wasn’t lifting them like this guy, I did get to do a core exercise with the “little” 125lbs one. Aside from smashing my elbow underneath it so that I now have a second elbow off of my first elbow, I really really liked using those stones.

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the exercise we were doing today, but it did make you look like a turtle stuck on your back. It was a great core exercise because it not only worked all of the muscles of your trunk, but it also worked your triple extension, meaning it also worked all the way down your legs.

Anyway, the point of this short rambling post is that while I’ve been harping on progression and setting a goal and tailoring your program to move you closer to that goal, it is also very important to remember to take ACTIVE REST weeks. Every month or two months, you should take a week where you just PLAY.

You don’t necessarily have any clear-cut goals. You are allowing yourself to just relax while not being completely inactive.

You are just experimenting and readying your mind and body for another round of intense, hard work.

So while setting out a clear progression toward your goals is important, remember it is also important to every once in a while give your mind and body and chance to play with no stress or pressure to accomplish a goal.

Friday Fun

Some random fun to celebrate Friday….just because!

Two things I found this week while shopping that I absolutely LOVE:

1. Macadamia nut butter

 

2. Coconut Chips from Trader Joes

They have a touch of sugar…which means next to nothing! YAY! A good little “dessert!” P.S. those are not my hands…manicures do not survive with me….

Also, I went rock climbing with the team last week and LOVED IT!

 

Rock climbing! YAY!

What better way to see all of your training pay off than to feel physically fit enough to take on any challenge!?!

AND Ryan got a trigger point “Grid” for his birthday…which I’ve stolen to use like every day!

And finally…wish me luck.

I’ve started a new training program which I’m pretty sure will end up upping my deadlift AND help me accomplish a few feats on the VersaClimber and battling ropes. The program was designed by one of the owners of Innovative Results and I’m interested to see the results!

Have I mentioned before that I love self-experimentation!?!

Right now, I’m just working my butt off…and I haven’t been so sore consistently in a while. Although I do feel better after my 7 mile run yesterday. (Uhm yep…I ran 7 miles…who would have thunk it…BLEH…haha)

Anyway, stay tuned for some unconventional tips to help you up your deadlift!!!

HAPPY FRIDAY! Get some delicious healthy snacks, go play and then foam roll for a little recovery! :-)

Anything you can do….

I can do better.

So Ryan and I weren’t a finalist in the Primal Blueprint workout video contest, but we did have a whole heck of a lot of fun making the video.

Maybe it will inspire you this weekend to workout!

If it doesn’t below is a great bodyweight workout that I did in my training session today (which the Man Bicep Mom attended!)

Weekly Workout

10-1 (10 reps of everything for one round, then 9, then 8…down to one. On one-sided exercises, that means 10 to each side)

1 arm TRX rows
Push ups (chest to ground)
Rainbow slams with a medicine ball
Squats
Skater Hops

10-1 (10 reps of everything for one round, then 9, then 8…down to one. On one-sided exercises, that means 10 to each side…so like 10 Mountain Climbers each leg)

Backwards lunges on sliders
Scapular hold against a wall or floor for 30 seconds
Mountain Climbers on sliders
Side lunges on sliders

Complete the entire workout as quickly as possible. Really a good workout for a stabilization day!

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