Category Archives: Cardio

Short Workouts Are All The Rage

I’ve been excited to see mainstream media and even mainstream fitness companies promoting shorter workouts.

Even P90X is coming out with a P90X30 (Even though Tony Horton and I have very different views on nutrition, I think he is a workout/exercise genius and always love seeing what he comes up with.)

And while some may think short workouts are just the newest fitness “fad,” there is actually a lot of evidence to prove that they may just be what you need to get truly great results.

That many of us are actually working out for too long.

That short workouts aren’t simply “better than nothing.”

That 15-30 minutes may actually be better for your health and help you reach your goals faster than your hour-long workouts 5 days a week.

Here are some reasons why you should keep your workouts shorter and some ways to maximize your time in the gym.

Just to highlight the some key parts:

  • Hormone levels are optimized with shorter workouts. After about 45 minutes of working out, your testosterone levels return back down to normal and your cortisol levels begin to rise. That means less muscle-building hormone is available AND more catabolic hormone (aka a hormone that breaks down muscle tissue) is starting to circulate.
  • Mentally you just can’t keep your intensity up for an hour or longer. At some point you lose focus and really can’t push yourself to work as hard as you need to for great results. However, if you keep your workouts shorter, you will stay focused and work hard the entire time.
  • It is easy to get a lot out of a short workout by playing with a few workouts variables like shorter rest, heavier weights, more volume, slower/faster repetition tempo…And many of these variables have great health and fitness benefits of their own that aren’t really capitalized on with longer workouts.

Here are also some great 30 minute workouts you can do anywhere.

at home workouts

In case you need something even shorter, you can get great results in just 15 minutes.

Just the other day, I posted a great 15 minute Lower Body Blast. Click here for this great lower body workout.

And below is an upper body 15 minute workout (just so you have a lower body AND upper body option)!

15-Minute Upper Body Blast

Stretch and Roll Out:


Set a timer for 15 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible in that time. Your goal is to get as much work done as you can in that time. Pick a variation of each exercise that challenges and fatigues you yet doesn’t cause you to go to failure so that you have to spend a lot of time resting.

5-10 reps Dips
5-15 reps Inverted Rows
10-30 reps Battling Ropes Sidewinders

Stretch and Roll Out:


Dips – Beginners may do an assisted variation off of dip bars or parallel bars. They may also do these off of kettlebells or a bench. Advanced exercisers will do full dips and may even add weight to challenge them.

To do a full dip, place one hand on each bar. Press up to the top so that your arms are fully extended. Then slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down. You want to lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. If you can’t get a full range of motion, regress the move so that you can. Then drive back up through your hands until you are fully extended at the top. Keep your core tight so you don’t arch your low back. Do not lean too far forward.

To do this move from the bench, place both hands on the bench behind you. Your finger tips should hang over the bench and face you. Stretch your legs out then in front of you, keeping your butt and back right up against the bench. The straighter your legs are and the further your heels are from your butt, the harder the move will be. To make the move easier, bend your knees and walk your heels back toward your butt and the bench. Bend your elbows and drop your butt toward the ground. Drop so your upper arms are parallel to the ground then press back up. Keep your butt and back right up against the bench. Do not let your body drift forward.

dips off bench

Inverted Rows – Hold a suspension trainer strap in each hand. Walk your feet out so you are leaning back. The closer to parallel to the ground you get, the harder the move will be. Squeeze your core and glutes and press your chest out so there is tension between your shoulder blades. Then row up, keeping your body in a nice straight line. Row until your chest comes up to the handles and then lower yourself back down. Don’t let your hips sink as you lower back down. Also, keep your chest pressed out the entire time (do not let your low back arch though). When you pull back up, don’t bounce off the bottom. If you don’t have a suspension trainer, you can use a smith machine bar or barbell set up low. If there is no bar or XT/TRX on which to do rows, do scapular push ups or corner rows.

bodyweight row

Battling Ropes Sidewinders – Loop the rope around an anchor and hold one side in each hand. Keep more slack in the rope than you would with other battling ropes moves. Relax your arms down straight and stand with your feet between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and don’t be afraid to hinge forward a little. Then sweep your arms to the right, rotating through your core even pivoting a little up onto your left toes. Do not pull to far around. Then quickly sweep your arms to the left. You want to quickly push and pull with your abs to sweep the rope back and forth. Keep your arms more relaxed and only slightly bent. Your arms and the rope should stay out in front of you. The ropes should make snake-like waves on the ground and swish side to side. They should not move up and down off the ground. Make sure you do not round your back as you create the waves. Keep your chest up even if you slightly hinge forward as you create the waves.

If you don’t have a rope or the space to do sidewinders, you can do rotational med ball throws or even a russian twist. You want to pick a move that will work your core and, preferably, get your heart rate up just a teeny bit.

What are your favorite quick workouts?

Have you started integrating shorter workouts into your routine more often or do you feel like a workout doesn’t count if it isn’t at least an hour?

The Benefits of Walking

People often act like WALKING isn’t really that great. They act like it sort of doesn’t count.

benefits of walking

But walking is an important part of any healthy lifestyle.

Actually I think walking is often overlooked as an essential part of being healthy because of our belief that we have to do MORE to be healthy or lose weight.

But as I’ve repeated almost every day recently, “More isn’t always better. Sometimes LESS is actually MORE.”

In a society where we are constantly told to do MORE when it comes to a healthy lifestyle – diet more, workout more – could the push to do MORE actually be causing us to get worse results?

I think the answer is a big, “YES!”

I mean think about it. You are told to eat fewer calories. To cut out more foods. To DIET MORE.

But sometimes doing more, cutting out more, when it comes to diet can actually hinder your results.

Just this week I talked about the importance of fueling your activity level – about eating more and dieting when your body needs it. Restricting too much can hinder your results just as much as doing nothing can. Again…More isn’t always better.

Same goes for working out.

Overtraining isn’t some myth. It is actually easier to overtrain than you would even think. And more people than you would expect are actually training too much!

Exercise is meant to improve health, aid in fat and weight loss and reduce injury, aches and pain, and fatigue…Yet when you do too much, you do exactly the opposite!

So often you read about how you have to exercise more. Or you see your weight loss progress stall and instantly think you need to put in more hours at the gym. Or up your intensity.


Often we find it easier to do more than to reassess and try something simpler. I find a lot of clients need to feel a certain way after their workout to feel like they “worked.” They need to be out of breath. Or feel like they are going to puke. Or have sweated a certain amount to feel like the did ENOUGH.

But that attitude is exactly what gets people into trouble. That attitude is what makes people ignore some of the best diet and exercise programs and activities out there for them!

That attitude is what causes people to end up struggling a lot more to become healthier, fitter, stronger, and leaner than they need to.

And one of those activities that is often overlooked as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle is WALKING!

Many people skip walking in favor of activities like running that burn more calories and help them FEEL like they’ve gotten a workout.

They skip walking because they don’t realize how much bang for their buck they really get with walking. All they consider is calories in vs. calories out or working out as hard or as much as they can.

But walking is a great exercise and an important part of a healthy lifestyle and even a weight loss program.

Instead of keeping it simple, people do two-hour workouts. They include 15 different exercises and do 100s of reps. They take themselves to the max every single workout.

But if you break your muscles down every day, you aren’t going to reap the benefits of your workouts! Workouts break your body down so you can become stronger. But doing MORE breaking down, if you don’t take enough time to rebuild, is really just wasted effort.

And rest is when you REBUILD.

Your body can’t go at 100% every single day. You can’t lift heavy or run hard every day. Your body needs workouts of varied intensities. Your body NEEDS easy days.

Walking can be a great lower intensity activity you can use as active recovery. It can be a great way to MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY recover!

And we’ve all heard that if we move more, we will be healthier.

This doesn’t mean going and doing longer workouts. And it doesn’t mean doing hours of intense cardio.

Guess what is a great way to move more though!?!

Walking! It allows us to move more without wearing our bodies down and overtraining!

Walking is one of those activities that we see as “less bang for our buck.” But it is truly one of those exercises where LESS IS MORE.

Yea…maybe you don’t get the same calorie burn as an hour of intense exercise. But walking means less stress. It means better sleep. It can enhance your move. It can help you fight against disease. It allows your body to recover and rebuild. It can mean a lot of great health benefits not only because of the activity, but also because you can be relaxed and social with it while even soaking up some sun!

And all of these things lead to better health. All of these things mean that you will get MORE out of the time you do spend doing higher intensity workouts.

Walking is often overlooked as EXERCISE but trust me, it is the one exercise that EVERYONE needs to be doing no matter their age or fitness level.

Right now too many people suffer from the attitude that MORE IS BETTER – more restriction, more intense, longer workouts.

But if you want great results, LESS IS MORE.

Do you go for walks? Maybe you should go out this weekend and soak up some sun!

Summer Sprint Workout

I’ve mentioned this numerous times before, but the only running I enjoy doing is sprinting.

And when the sun is out, I love getting outside to workout.

battling ropes

So in honor of this beautiful Thursday, here is a great sprint workout to do outside!

This workout is also one of the few that I do that includes crunch-like moves. They are almost like an active break between the sprints.

The key with this workout is to go all out when you are working and make sure your take time to recover. Start with two or even three times the rest and work your way down to equal rest to work. Doing this workout with a partner is a great idea because you can rest while they complete all the exercises and then you can work while they rest!

Below is a video demonstrating all of the crawling and crunch exercises for the sprint workout.

Summer Sprint Workout:

Complete 3-5 rounds of each circuit. Beginners may need 2-3 times the rest while more advanced exercisers should keep an equal work to rest ratio.

Sprint Circuit #1:
3-5 rounds of the following 3 exercises. Do not rest between the 3 exercises! Rest once all three are completed!
4 cone suicide, 1 round (farthest cone should be about 50ft away from start)
Forwards Crawl, Backwards Crawl (down to farthest cone and back)
Cherry Bombs, 10 reps
Rest and repeat. These rest intervals should be as close to equal work to rest as you can make them although beginners may need more rest to start.

Rest for 1-3 minutes after completing 3-5 rounds of the circuit above. Then move onto the second circuit.

Sprint Circuit #2:
3-5 rounds of the following 3 exercises. Do not rest between the 3 exercises! Rest once all three are completed!
4 cone suicide,
1 round (farthest cone should be about 50ft away from start)
Lateral Crawls 
(down to farthest cone and back)
Plank Hip Dips, 10 each side
Rest and repeat. These rest intervals should be as close to equal work to rest as you can make them although beginners may need more rest to start.

Rest for 1-3 minutes after completing 3-5 rounds of the circuit above. Then move onto the third and final circuit.

Sprint Circuit #3:
3-5 rounds of the following 3 exercises. Do not rest between the 3 exercises! Rest once all three are completed!
4 cone suicide
1 round (farthest cone should be about 50ft away from start)
Circle Crawls, 3-5 circles each way (Beginners do 3, advanced do 5. Make sure to alternate directions each time or you will get very dizzy. Pretend your belly button is attached by a string to the ground and circle your hands and feet around that spot.)
Sit Thrus, 5-10 reps each side (5 for beginners, up to 10 per side for advanced)



The Burpee And The 100 Day Challenge

The other day I was talking to Erin, one of my beautiful Boston lifting ladies, and she mentioned THE 100 DAY BURPEE CHALLENGE.

Generally I don’t participate in challenges like that because they require you to do the same move day after day after day and I feel like they can interrupt your other training. And they really don’t get you any specific results except that you are moving every single day.

However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a fun challenge with friends especially since I will be seeing them shortly and we can do a few days of the challenge together.

While challenges like these won’t help you reach weight loss or strength goals, they can occasionally be fun. And shoot, if they get you moving well then by all means, do them! (Just don’t make them the basis of your training program…PLEASE!)

Anyway, when starting this challenge, I began to think about the other burpee variations out there that I use. While I could probably name about 100 variations (including the box jump burpee and the pull up burpee), I’ve chosen five to highlight below that I like to use.

5 Burpee Variations

1. The Modified Burpee – This is a beginning variation of the burpee. To do a modified burpee, stand up nice and tall to start. Then bend over and place your hands on the ground right in front of your feet, which are a few inches apart. Jump your legs back so that you are in a high plank (top of the push up) position. Jump your feet back into your hands, stand up and jump up in the air. The beginner burpee does not include a push up at the bottom. To regress this move further, you can step back into the high plank and then step back forward. You can also remove the jump up at the top and instead just stand up nice and tall and reach your hands overhead.

2. The Full Burpee – This is a full burpee with a push up. To do a full burpee, stand up nice and tall. Then bend over and place your hands on the ground about hip-width apart a slight bit in front and to the side of your feet. Jump your legs back and then perform a push up, dropping your chest to the ground. Push back up to the high plank and then jump your feet back in and come back to standing. Jump as high as you can at the top. If you are going to add in the push up, PERFORM A PERFECT PUSH UP! No worms or butts up in the air during the push up.

3. The Burpee Sit Thru – I like doing this variation without the push up since it allows you to move faster and do more sit thrus. Stand up nice and tall. Bend over and put your hands on the ground and just jump your feet back a little so that you are in a nice crawling position (hands about under shoulders and knees about under your hips). Then perform one sit thru to each side. To perform the sit thru, lift one hand and kick the opposite leg through so that you are basically sitting on the ground. Swing back to the crawl position and repeat on the other side. Then stand up and jump up at the top and repeat.

4. The Slider Burpee – This is your basic burpee just done on sliders. To do the slider burpee, place a slider under each foot. Bend down and put your hands on the ground. Slide your feet back to the high plank position. Perform a push up and then slide them back in and stand up. Do not jump at the top. Just stand up and raise your hands overhead. Repeat. To make the move easier, remove the push up. To make the move harder and a bit slower, perform a push up followed by bringing the knee in to the outside of the same elbow and then another push up followed by the opposite knee. Then slide the feet in and come back to standing.

5. The Beast Mode Burpee – I generally do lower reps with these than I do with the other burpee variations because you are using weights. To do the Beast Mode Burpee, hold a dumbbell in each hand up at your shoulders. Stand with your feet between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. Squat down and then press the weights overhead. After the squat to press, bend over and place the weights in your hands on the ground and jump your feet back into the high plank position. You can then either do a push up and then two plank rows or you can do a push up, row, push up row. Then jump your feet back in and come back to standing. Do not jump up at the end. Just stand up and go back into the squat to press. Please make sure you aren’t lifting the weights back up with your low back as you stand up.

At the top is a video with each of the variations. Thank you Ryan for the music.

Do you use burpees in any of your workouts? If so, what’s your favorite variation?

Have you ever taken on The 100 Day Burpee Challenge?

Cardio At Home

It’s kind of interesting, but I hear all the time that people can’t really do cardio at home.

They have this idea that they either have to go outside and run or have some sort of cardio equipment (like a treadmill or bike) at home to be able to do cardio, especially aerobic endurance, longer duration cardio (jogging).

But that isn’t the case.

There are plenty of ways to get in cardio at home without any equipment. And you don’t just have to do short, intense intervals to make these exercises work. You can work on your aerobic endurance as well!

cardio exercise

Well this is my idea of cardio! It does make the point that you don’t need a treadmill to do your cardio!

Here are 5 great Indoor Cardio Options that you can do at home:

1. Towel Taz – One of my favorite ways to do cardio at home because EVERYONE can do it and feel challenged by it. And you don’t need any equipment or really any space to do it!

This move is great to use to do intervals of 30 seconds or longer. If you do 2 minute intervals with shorter rest, you can really build your aerobic endurance.

Cardio at home

To do the towel taz, take a bath or beach towel. Hold one corner of the towel in each hand. Move side to side and all around quickly, shaking the towel up and down and forward and back. Your movements should be quick.

2. Plyometrics – Commonly known as jump training. While plyometric training is better for shorter intervals, it is still a great cardio option.

Jump squats, split squat jumps, skater hops…There are a ton of options that allow you to work your legs from every angle.

skater hops

Skater Hops

But what if you are older and/or your knees won’t allow you to jump quickly and explosively off the ground? Plyometric training can be regressed.

For example: With the squat jump, you can start with a quick bodyweight squat. Then you can progress that and do a squat and come up to your toes at the top of the squat instead of exploding off the ground. Next you will just do a very very little jump off the ground, pausing after every rep. Then you will try to get higher and more explosive off the ground, still pausing or going more slowly between reps. Finally you will be as explosive and quick as possible with the jump squat.

Also, plyometric training is about training muscles to be explosive. It isn’t restricted to lower body exercises. Plyo push ups, bobcats, medicine ball throws are all examples of upper body plyos.

Actually bobcats are full body and a great way to develop a mind-body connection.

To do a bobcat, start in the crawling position on your hands and toes. The first level of this move is to just bend your elbows and drop your knees to the ground quickly and explosively. Your goal is to make sure your upper body and lower body move TOGETHER as quickly as possible. Once you start to get everything to move together, you are going to explode off the ground. Go slowly at first, focusing on everything leaving the ground and hitting the ground together. So explode up off your hands and toes and then land on your hands and toes at the same time, staying in that crawling position. As you get more comfortable, start to move as quickly as possible.

This move is super tough. It is hard to get your upper body and lower body to move together quickly!

So this is actually a video that Aaron did. This only shows a little bit of the bobcat while used in knife fighting but it will give you an idea since pictures don’t really cut it. (And actually knife fighting is another option if you have a partner.  Just be careful you don’t get to into it if you are in a confined space!)

3. Crawling – Not all cardio has to be done from your feet. Crawling is a great way to get your heart rate up and it can be done as sprints or as longer, slower, endurance cardio. You can do bear crawls or gorilla crawls or even crab walks. There are a ton of different ways to crawl! Crawling is great too because it really is fully body and you don’t need much space to do it. As long as you can take a couple of steps forward and back or even just move in a circle, you are all set!

how to bear crawl

I mean shoot…you can even crawl like an alligator! Talk about tough on the core and upper body

4. Metabolic Circuit Training – If you do exercises quickly with little or no weight and little to no rest, your heart rate is going to go up.

I mentioned the other day in my Squat Variations post that you could do 5 minutes of bodyweight squats. Trust me, that definitely gets your heart rate up.

You can also do different intervals. Tabata intervals of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off can be great as long as you pick exercises that challenge you within 20 seconds.

For example, while you can use the bodyweight squat when working for 5 minutes, you may want to use a squat jump if only working for 10 seconds.

Metabolic circuits can really use any exercise.

That’s right…Any exercise can be CARDIO. Push ups when done quickly definitely get your heart rate up. Not to mention they kill your upper body!

You can easily choose exercise options that fit the space you have and your current fitness level and turn them into a great cardio circuit. Remember the key here is to move quickly not use the heaviest weight possible.

5. Cone Drills – Cone drills are a great way to improve your mind-body connection AND get your heart rate up.

And you really don’ need much room to do them…or even need cones for that matter. You can use books, pieces of paper, underwear….Really anything to just mark off the spots. Obviously, if you do have a bit more room, it is easier to set them up.

They can be great to do at a park as well!

You can do quick side shuffles to cones. You can go back and forth for time. The shuffles don’t have to be long. Two or three shuffles each way is really all you need!

You can do star drills or even four point drills. Actually there is one four point drill I love to use from my tennis days.

Set up four “cones” in a diamond. Start in the center. Sprint forward to the cone in front of you. Then go back to center. Back pedal to the cone behind you and then come back to center. Side shuffle to one side cone and then go to the other.

agility drill

Hopefully this gives you a picture of what I’m talking about.

You can mix up exactly what direction you go. Try to not just follow the same pattern, but make your movements quick to each cone. Just remember to go back to the center after going out to each cone.

Cone drills are one of my favorite forms of cardio because they really do improve that mind-body connection which is so key for not only athletic performance but also proper functioning in EVERY DAY LIFE!

So there you have it. Five cardio options you can do at home no matter your fitness level. And the best part is – THEY REQUIRE NO EQUIPMENT!

What is your favorite way to do cardio?

A Rant About Runners – Proper Running Form


Saw this on Fit and Feminist’s post about loving your running pictures, which you should all check out.

Recently I’ve had to do way more running than I would ever have liked to have done in my lifetime.

I don’t regret a second of it though because I’m running with Jodie and she is one strong and amazing woman. (And her half marathon is August 18th! GO JODIE!)

HOWEVER, I have noticed one thing…Everyone thinks they can run.

And honestly….


People who have never worked out before in their life often turn to running as their first exercise option.

But what people don’t realize is that RUNNING ISN’T EASY!

Yes, running SHOULD BE a natural movement pattern.

But it isn’t for most adults anymore because we sit hunched over a computer screen for 8 hours a day.

And that sitting over the computer causes postural distortions that then hinder us from properly executing movements that should be natural…aka RUNNING.

I don’t know if Jodie has ever noticed this when we are running, but occasionally I will have like sensory overload where there are just too many runners with incorrect form ahead of us and I have to pass them or I will go insane. I speed up and run around even if I had to step off the path because I just can’t handle it.

And when I say all of this, I’m not trying to be mean or judgmental. I think it is great that people are getting out and being active and doing SOMETHING.

I’m just trying to get across the point that there is proper FORM to running and that if you don’t have decent form you are probably going to get injured.

And injury hinders us from really reaping the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, which are to FEEL BETTER and MOVE BETTER.

So what is proper running form? (And note here I’m talking about longer distance running and not sprinting although many of these things apply to both.)

Well I can tell you it isn’t the knock-kneed running you see so often occurring on the trails. Boy does that annoy me.

And many of those people wonder why they have knee, hip or low back pain!


Anyway, proper running form and common problems….

First off, your upper body should be RELAXED.

Your head shouldn’t be flexed or extended, but should be in line with your spine. This means your eyes should be focused slightly ahead and/or slightly downcast.

Your shoulders shouldn’t be up by your ears. I call this the “turtle” position. No hiding your head in your shell! You don’t want to hold tension anywhere that isn’t necessary. Your shoulders being elevated may have to do with sitting at the desk all day and tension in your upper traps. Try a scapular hold to help you activate your lower traps and roll out your upper traps to alleviate this problem.

scapular hold

Your shoulders may also be elevated because you are forcing too much arm movement. Your arms should be relaxed and swing loosely. If you even notice many long distance runners don’t have much arm movement at all. Their upper bodies are simply relaxed. (This doesn’t mean your arms should just hang by your sides. Your elbows should be bent to about 90.)

Your hands and wrists should be neutral. No weird flexion or extension. AND you shouldn’t be holding your hands in a death grip. RELAX!

You also need to be conscious of how much you rotate. Too much rotation is bad. While running does work your abs, you shouldn’t be doing russian twists while you are running. If your hands are crossing the midline of your body then you are rotating too much. (This could mean you have a little lack of coordination or poor hip flexion aka the movement when you bring your knee to your chest.)

Also, do not have excessive lean or rounding forward. While sprinters will lean forward during the acceleration phase, once they hit maximal speed (or when you are jogging) you should be near perpendicular to the ground.

Now your lower body…

Your low back shouldn’t be arched and you should not waddle (aka have excessive hip sway from side to side)! This means weak core and glute muscles as well as tight hip flexors that need to be taken care of before you just pound away the miles. (If you have lots of rotation this can also mean your hamstrings and adductors are tight as well.)

I’ve also noticed that there are a number of people with a slight hip hike when they run (one hip is higher than the other). This means different problems are occurring on each half of our body, which guess what? LEADS TO INJURY! Roll out your entire hip complex if this is occurring and search for tight spots on each side. You are also going to need to work on adductor and glute medius (your side butt) strength on the side opposite the hip tilt up.

You should also have a good range of motion around your hip and be able to produce force with each ground push off. I see it all the time…Runners bobbing up and down. Don’t waste your energy going up and down! PUSH FORWARD. While you shouldn’t consciously have to think about going forward, each time you push off you should propel forward NOT UP. If you don’t move forward fluidly but do bob up and down, you need to work on your ankle mobility, hip flexibility and posterior chain strength (aka glute, hamstring…whole back of your body….).

Your knees…THEY SHOULDN’T COLLAPSE IN! I see this so often when I’m out running with Jodie. If your knees collapse in, you need to work on your ankle mobility….great thing I have all a lot of the info you need RIGHT HERE. You also need to roll out your inner thighs, hamstrings and strengthen the outside of your leg and glutes. Some single leg balancing would also be a great way to help correct this problem. Also, just a slight side note…But if your IT Bands are always tight and hurt, you may want to have someone see if your knees are collapsing in!

Your feet may also be part of the problem. Take a look at your shoes. Do you run on the inside of your foot or the outside. Many people I’ve seen run on the inside, which makes sense since many of those same people run with their knees collapsing in. All of it is connected and can lead to shin splints, knee problems, plantar fasciitis and even low back pain! If you run on the inside of your feet roll out your lower leg and not just your calf. You will actually want to do a number of the exercises I outline in a post about how to get rid of shin splints and plantar fasciitis!

If your feet turn out that is also a problem to address. It can mean spots in your calves and hamstrings are tight while your glutes and even muscles in your hips are weak.

And last but not least…Don’t overstride. Don’t try to reach with the leg. Let the legs SWING. It all goes back to relaxing and being mobile, which is hard when you sit for 8 hours a day!

Sorry if this is a bit more technical than the usual post, but I want people to start thinking about how they run since so many people turn to running as their exercise of choice.

The whole point of working out is to feel better, to move better. To feel stronger and fitter.

And honestly, bad movement patterns do the exact opposite even if you don’t feel the negative effects yet.

This doesn’t mean you have to give up running.

It just means you should do some strengthening and mobility work so that you can do the thing you love without injury. And you may find you even do it better if you do some of the mobility and strengthening required to have proper running form!

NOTE: I did not discuss heel strike. Interesting read about foot strike.

How To Bear Crawl…Like a Baby

We are born with better movement patterns than most of us have now as adults…Just kidding…sort of…

But babies, that can’t even walk yet, can most certainly do certain things better. They definitely squat better AND crawl better than most adults do.

Babies do rock bottom squats like it is nothing. While trying to get an adult to do just a squat to 90 degrees can sometimes be a painful, long process.

Same goes for crawling.

Babies motor around like it is nothing. They crawl over grass, concrete and carpet, barely even noticing the change in texture.

But when adults are asked to crawl, they barely make it five steps before they are out of breath (or complaining about their hands on the turf)…and that is even if they can first understand the coordination of crawling.

It makes me sad how much we lose some natural movement patterns. It makes me sad that we lose such a great mind-body connection.

And I don’t think it has to be this way!

Everyone should be able to crawl, whether or not it is a table top crawl or a basic bear crawl. We should all be able to do it!

So here is a little breakdown of the basic forward bear crawl and proper form.

how to bear crawl

Now you are probably thinking…Why the heck would I ever want to crawl when I can walk?

Because crawling is GREAT exercise! (And it is kind of fun too!)

Crawling works your entire body, from your shoulders to your knees. It is a great core strengthener AND it is great cardio.

Plus crawling works on your coordination and agility.

And honestly, the older we get and the more we lose that mind-body connection (our coordination and balance), the more we need to crawl.

People just accept that as they age they won’t have the same coordination or balance that they once had. And while, yes, our body does change with age, that doesn’t mean we have to accept that falling or feeling uncoordinated is just a part of life.

Getting our body and mind to continue to connect and work together is key. And movements like the bear crawl help us work on that connection.

So now the question really is…Why aren’t you crawling!?!

Try it today! Set a timer for 5 minutes and see how long you last crawling around. You can even mix in backward and sideways crawls once you master the forward bear crawl.

bear crawling

Opposite arm and leg working together. Nice flat back…And boy can he motor!

It’s simply not that simple – EARN IT

So I love the current basic fitness recommendation – lift heavy things, sprint occasionally and move often.

But is it really that simple?

Let me state my favorite answer ever…”Yes…But….No….” (You could substitute this with my other favorite answers “It depends” or “Maybe.”)

The reason it isn’t that simple is because many people’s bodies are so de-conditioned from years and years of doing NOTHING.

So while yes…everyone should lift heavy things and sprint, many people need to start out a lot slower than they do.

I’ve said this before, but just because you CAN lift a weight or run really fast doesn’t mean your body is really ready to handle the strain!

Doing too much to quickly will result in injury. Remember…Everything is relative. If your body is de-conditioned, heavy and sprint are very RELATIVE terms.

At the beginning, especially if you haven’t been doing much of anything, MOVE OFTEN is your main priority.

But not only moving often…MOVING WELL.


I know it’s probably getting boring and I’ve been harping on it a lot, but every good program needs to start with MOBILITY and STABILIZATION.

And from there, you must EARN tougher exercises.

You don’t just get to do harder variations and more weight…You have to EARN IT.

There is no better way to motivate yourself than to make yourself want to EARN something more.

So today I want to talk about earning SPRINTING.

More recently I’ve talked more about sprinting because it is one of the few cardiovascular activities that I actually enjoy. And while I think sprinting is great, just like lifting heavy, it isn’t something you just go out and do super intensely your first time.

For one, like lifting, there is actually proper form for running…And let me tell you…there are a lot of people who actually run incorrectly.

Many people don’t run correctly because they stopped doing it when they stopped having gym class in like middle or high school and then didn’t start up again till their mid-twenties.

Many people also don’t run correctly because their body is more used to sitting in a chair hunched over a desk than it is to running or moving around.

When you sit at a desk, your hips are flexed. Your hip flexors can become shortened and tight. Tight hip flexors don’t allow for proper running mechanics. They also don’t allow for proper power generation. If your hip flexors are tight, most likely your glutes won’t be firing on all cylinders.

If you glutes are firing properly, then guess what?

Another muscle will have to compensate to help you run quickly…And that other muscle won’t really be able to handle the load, which means….INJURY!

(Random factoid: Guess what one of the most common running injuries is? HAMSTRING STRAIN! Guess what is tight because you sit all day? YOUR HAMSTRING! Guess what muscle often helps the hip flexors when the glutes don’t fire? YOUR HAMSTRING. Guess what muscle being tight, and even overused because it is compensating, can also lead to knee pain? YOUR HAMSTRING!)

I could go on about the other ways in which your everyday posture hinder you from potentially running properly, but you get the point.

Sitting to sprinting with no preparation means injury.

So the first step if you want to sprint is foam rolling, mobility exercises and activation exercises. Open up those hips and loosen up those adductors. Start activating and strengthening the core. Work on ankle mobility. And get those glutes firing!

Then you need to work on building your aerobic base. Your heart is a muscle too and it also needs to be ready for sprinting! Start with walking. Don’t go 50 miles on the first day. WORK YOUR WAY UP and SLOWLY increase your mileage.

Then if you have done the proper mobility and activation work, start jogging.

JOGGING will be your first step toward sprinting. You can use jogging at a comfortable pace to increase your aerobic capacity and your first “sprints” will be done at a pace that is more like jogging than 100% effort. You must slowly increase your pace as your body adapts!

Also, “sprinting” uphill to start is a great way to prevent common injuries as you work on becoming more mobile. Sprinting uphill prevents you from overstriding, which is a common cause of hamstring strains. Ground reaction forces are also much lower, which means less risk of injury!

Oh Big Red...You and I will meet again for sprints soon.

Oh Big Red…You and I will meet again for sprints soon.

As you gain strength, mobility and speed sprinting uphill (and shoot sprinting uphill is freaking super tough!), you may then want to bring your sprints down to a flat surface. Although I must say while sprinting uphill can be a good starting spot, it is freaking super tough even when you don’t sprint all out and should be included even after you have “progressed” to a flat surface.

Make sure that, no matter what you sprint on (flat or hill), you increase your speed slowly and make sure you are warm when you do finally go all out on sprints.

At the beginning, make sure to give yourself adequate rest. You don’t want to push too hard through fatigue at the beginning. Pushing fatigued muscles too hard can result in injury – actually fatigue drives injury rates way way way up in the athletic world.

As you PROGRESS, you can start decreasing rest and upping the volume. While you don’t need to do a million sprints to get the benefit (actually if you are doing a million sprints or feel the need to do that many you are doing something wrong and hindering your progress), you should be able to add on more sprints as you progress.

And last but not least when it comes to sprinting, don’t do it too often. Just like with lifting, you need to give muscles ample time to recover!

Remember even once you’ve EARNED IT, the rule says “sprint occasionally.”

As much as it pains me to say this, “There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!”

Do you sprint? Have you EARNED it?

Strength training is dinner? Cardio is dessert?

If you want to lift and do cardio on the same day, which goes first?

Do you strength train before you do your cardio or do you do your cardio first?

Well…It depends.

Love that answer don’t you?!?

It all comes down to what you are training for!

What is most important to help you reach your goals? What are you trying to accomplish with the workout? What type of strength training and cardio are you planning to do that day?

How you organize your workout IS very important!

For example, if you are doing a glute and hamstring strength training day, you probably don’t want to sprint after since that would put you at risk for hamstring strains. If you really need to sprint that day you may want to sprint BEFORE the workout.

OR you could plan it so you sprint the day before your glute/hamstring day if that lifting day is super important to you.

What it all comes down to is what you are trying to work.

If your lift is the most important part of the workout, you probably don’t want to do cardio before as that could fatigue you and deplete your energy stores so that you aren’t fresh for your workout.

If your cardio training is most important and your lifts are simply supplementary and more about strengthening your cardio, you will want to put your cardio first.

Putting cardio first could also pre-fatigue you for your lift, which has its own sport benefits. Sometimes in sports where an athlete has to generate a ton of strength and power after already being fatigued, workouts that pre-fatigue can be good.

As I said before….IT ALL DEPENDS!

However, your only options aren’t cardio first and strength training second or strength training first and cardio second.

You could also do a metabolic day, which means that cardio and strength training occur at the same time!

During these workouts you probably won’t lift as much as you do on normal strength days or sprint as fast as you do on cardio days, BUT you will get incredible benefits out of the metabolic workout!

Metabolic workouts may be done by either using lighter weights and moving quickly between exercises to get your heart rate up (aka strength training that is cardio) OR by doing quick cardio bursts like some sort of sprinting followed by a few weighted exercises (aka cardio and strength training alternating to keep your heart rate up).

While there are a few sports like powerlifting, where a ton of metabolic days might not be included, all the rest of us should most definitely include a few of these. They help you burn fat and improve your performance endurance.

So if you aren’t worried about lifting the heaviest weight you’ve ever lifted or you aren’t worried about running the fastest mile you’ve ever run, but are more worried about burning a ton of fat and improving your endurance, a metabolic workout may be right for you (although you shouldn’t do it every day).

While strength training before cardio puts the emphasis on strength training and cardio before strength training puts the emphasis on cardio (or on performing after being fatigued), metabolic workouts put the emphasis on improving lactic threshold and remaining strong and powerful for longer before fatiguing! (Also, while all workouts have the potential to help you burn fat, metabolic days are probably some of the best at it!)

So again, how you organize your cardio and strength training in your workout is all dependent upon your goals.

Give your workouts some thought before you step into the gym and I guarantee you’ll get better results than if you just throw them together once you get there!

Metabolic Monday

So today is a “metabolic” workout day – aka…MY TYPE OF CARDIO!

A metabolic workout is a high-intensity workout where you do compound movements back to back with as little rest as possible between them.

That doesn’t mean stringing together the hardest exercises you know of and just doing them back to back to back for an hour only resting when you feel like you either can’t function or are going to puke.

The point of a metabolic workout isn’t just to destroy you – it is to raise your metabolic rate both during and AFTER the workout so that you can burn some serious calories and more importantly some serious FAT.

It is also super good for athletic performance since it can improve your cardiovascular capacity. It can help improve your lactic threshold and VO2 max.

Yup…If you want to be able to run faster for longer or do well in any endurance sports, you may want to incorporate metabolic training into your workout routine!

So how do you design a metabolic workout?

My mom and sister in town for a metabolic workout around the holidays!

My mom and sister in town for a metabolic workout around the holidays!

Well..there are a ton of different ways. The key points to consider are…

  1. Include compound moves – aka work the BIG muscles groups…Bicep curls and such are pointless moves to include.
  2. Use some resistance. You don’t need to use the max weight you can handle, but you do want to incorporate challenging weights to make your muscles work to their max!
  3. Add in rest – The key here is to teach your body to recover as quickly as possible. HOWEVER, if you don’t include any rest in your workout, you AREN’T going to be working at a max effort the entire time. To really get some of those cardiovascular capacity benefits, you need to be working near a maximal effort as much as possible, which means you NEED to rest and recover! When you start, you may want to rest 3 to 5 times the time you work. As your fitness level improves, cut the rest until you even hit a ratio of 5 times the work to rest.
  4. Keep the intervals short – When you get into the 2 minutes and above range, you start to work the aerobic energy system. If you really want to focus on improving your lactic threshold, keep your intervals of work between about 30 seconds and a minute thirty. Honestly, I even prefer keeping the work between 30 seconds and a minute.
  5. Don’t throw in the kitchen sink! – Don’t just combine 30 hard exercises and do them each once. Balance what you are working. If you pair up exercises, or even go through a circuit, make sure that you vary what you are working. Think about movement patterns (push vs. pull) as well as hemispheres (upper vs. lower body). If you vary how and what you work, you will find that you are more able to work to your full potential each round EVEN if you feel a bit fatigued and out of breath.

Below is a sample Metabolic Workout. While we love using sleds and ropes and sandbags, I do realize that not every gym or household contains those things so I tried to stick with bodyweight or more traditional equipment. (If you don’t have any medicine balls you could mimic with a dumbbell or even a cable machine with a double-handed overhead chop down toward the ground. Make sure though to use your lats for the pull over as well as your abs and legs!)

Metabolic Workout

WARM UP (make sure to do dynamic stretches, foam rolling and activation. Very important to be WARM!)

40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest between each exercise. Rest for 1-2 minutes after each round of all 5 exercises.

Repeat anywhere from 3-5 times depending on your fitness level.

Front Squats (add dumbbells or kettlebells in a front rack…light but challenging)
Medball Overhead Slams (Bring the medball back overhead and then slam it straight into the ground)
Crawling (Table top position..Forwards and backwards)
Lateral Hops (aka Skater hops…So hop as far as you can to the side off of one foot onto the other)
Russian Twist (Hold a weight plate and rotate side to side as QUICK as possible)

If you are a beginner, you may want to start with less work and more rest…Even say 20 seconds of work, 40 seconds of rest and work your way up to 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest. For lateral hops, you can also sub side shuffles as long as you stay LOW and move quickly!

Yay! Metabolic workouts…what a great way to start the week!

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