Category Archives: Man Biceps

Workouts and Recipes

It’s most definitely already summer here.

All this week we’ve had super hot weather (especially for around here!).

The warm weather both makes me want to go outside to workout and party.

Here are some great workouts and recipes to try this weekend if you are like me and already into summer mode!



And GOOD LUCK to Caitlin over at Fit and Feminist! She is running in the Keys 50 this weekend! Go over and say good luck!

It’s Not About a RIGHT Answer – It’s About Asking WHY

In terms of dieting and working out there are a lot of RIGHT answers.

However, there is very little understanding about WHY certain things are correct.

Take for instance this question “How many exercises should be included in a workout?”

A correct answer could really be anything. You could say all you need is ONE exercise.

But you could also say you sometimes need 15.

It just all depends on what you are trying to accomplish with the workout.

Same goes for diet.

I’ve told you I’m not a huge fan of “Paleo” baked goods. And I have my reasons WHY.

And honestly it isn’t so much the baked goods as the fact that most people don’t really understand WHY they are even doing Paleo that irritates me.

Everything with diet and exercise sort of circles back to WHY with me.

Why are you doing something?

Do you understand the studies and rationale behind what you are doing?

Since there is no one right answer, you have to pick the right answer for YOU. And you can’t do that if you just choose something and follow it blindly.

You can only truly find the right thing for you if you understand the reasoning behind what you are doing – the WHY.

Nothing irritates me more than people who just follow the fads and never ask WHY.

Understand WHY you are doing something people! There are lots of things that can work and if you don’t understand why, you probably aren’t going to pick the best option for you. You are simply going to pick something you’ve heard works for others!

Heck you might even end up doing something that sets you back because you don’t understand the rationale behind it!

So this week, think about your program.

Do you understand WHY you are doing what you’re doing?

And ask yourself, “Is it really working?”

Because if it isn’t working and you don’t understand why you are doing what you’re doing, you may not know how to change things for the better.

So start doing some research. Figure out the WHY behind your program so you can change things as needed and start really progressing toward your goals.

Do you know WHY your program is set up the way it is? Is there a method and rationale behind it?

And is it helping you reach success?


Goal Setting and The 3 Words Project

Goal setting is essential to success.

But it’s boring.

And goals are easily forgotten in the heat of the moment.

So if goals are important, but easily forgotten, how do you make them something you can easily stay focused on day in and day out?

I thought this “3 words for 1 year” idea that I saw on Julia Ladewski’s blog was a great way to keep your goals easily in the forefront of your mind. (Here is her post and a post to the original 3 word project if you want to learn more.)

This 3 word project gives you an easy and quick reminder of what your goals are. It makes visualizing your goals on a weekly, daily basis easy and quick.

And I personal think it is super motivating.

What you do is basically pick 3 WORDS that represent your goals and will motivate you to keep working toward them even when the going gets rough. These 3 words can be a great VISUAL for you to even post somewhere. While no one wants to post long freaking sentences of SMART goals, posting a word or three really isn’t a big deal and is very easy to do (and a much prettier visual…not to mention quicker to read and refresh your memory and improve your mindset).

My three words are below.

I’ve picked words that will instantly remind me of my WHY, my reason for setting my goals in the first place. These words, for me, also instill the emotion I’m looking for when it comes to my goals. For example, the word pause makes me think to breathe deeply. It makes me think RELAX and that is a big part of the goal it is set to represent.

Anyway, give your goals some thought. What would your 3 words for this year be?

Pause – This word means a couple of different things to me this year, but they all boil down to RELAX. Pause and take a second to relax if stressed. Pause to take a second and step back and think. Paused to take a second to celebrate the small successes. Pause and enjoy life and don’t always get bogged down with moving right on to the next project. I like to keep going. I have trouble stopping at points…partly because I love what I do and partly just because I’m type A. But celebration, relaxation and shutting your brain off are super important components of not only a healthy lifestyle, but also of success. Take a second today and PAUSE!

Thought this was another great reminder!

Uncomfortable – It is strange to feel like I’m listing “uncomfortable” as a goal. But by using the word uncomfortable, I’m reminding myself that it is good to stretch my boundaries. That feeling “uncomfortable” is not only OK but GOOD. We’ve all see those motivational pictures and quotes stating that success happens outside your comfort zone, and it’s true. And while I find I’m good at tiptoeing around outside my comfort zone, I sometimes lack the will, the strength, to just throw myself in the deep end. So here is to throwing myself in the deep end and not fearing the unknown, the uncomfortable!

Love this quote.

STRONG – Strong is a super meaningful word to me. Each and every year I want to grow stronger, both physically and mentally. And while I don’t always want to get stronger in the same way, I do always want to be getting stronger, learning more, growing. And with that strength, I want to inspire others to find their strong. So to me strong means not only growing myself both inside and out of the gym, but also helping others to find their physical and mental strength – to become more empowered! This year is about remaining dedicated to becoming STRONGER.

RS Girl

What are your 3 words? And what do they mean to you? Share yours and inspire others!!!

Are Crunches Ever Useful?

I very rarely use crunches in my workouts. And when I do include an ab exercise, I find the most full-body move I can.

When I pick out moves for my workouts, I’m looking for moves that give me the most bang for my buck. I’m generally looking for moves that work numerous muscles at once in a functional way to make them stronger.

Therefore, crunches generally don’t make the cut since they don’t work a number of muscle groups all at once in a functional way.

HOWEVER, there are times I find crunches useful and FUN.

For instance, I’ve found crunches can be a fun active rest exercise. Like when I do sprint and crawling workouts. Both of those exercises are super intense, full body moves. So as an active rest piece, I add in a crunch.

It makes the circuit even more fun and allows my legs and arms to rest while I continue to move and work.

Same goes for other cardio workouts. I will choose an upper, lower and then core exercise and generally the core exercise is some crunch variation to give both my upper and lower body a little extra rest.

So as active, fun rest, I find crunches very useful.

Here are a few of my favorite crunch variations. They are a bit more full body and give the legs and upper body a chance to relax while not being “easy.”

1. Super Crunches –  Lie on your back with your legs out straight. Crunch your upper body up as you draw your knees in. Come up so that you are sitting on your butt. Reach your hands to outside one knee. Then lie back down. Then crunch up and reach through your knees. Lie back down. Then crunch up and reach outside the other knee. Those 3 crunches equal one rep.

super crunch

2. Cherry Bombs – Sit on your butt and draw your knees into your chest. Wrap your arms around your shins and lift your feet off the ground. Then open your arms and straighten your legs out wide and let your upper body go back toward the ground. You should almost look like a big X on the ground with arms and legs out and open. Then come back to seated and draw your knees back in. Your feet should stay off the ground the entire time.

cherry bomb

3. Bicycles – Lie on your back with your legs out straight in front of you and your hands behind your head. Lift your legs up off the ground. Beginners may need to keep their feet up higher while more advanced exercisers will be able to keep their feet only an inch or two off the ground. Bring your right knee into your chest, keeping the left leg off the ground. As you bring the right knee in, crunch the upper body up and bring the left elbow up and across to touch your right knee. Then straighten you right knee out and bring your left knee in as you rotate your left elbow to the ground and your right elbow to your left knee. Keep rotating and alternating touches until all reps are complete.

4. Russian Twists – Balance on your butt with your knees bent and feet off the ground. Hinge back a little with your upper body, maintaining a nice tall posture. Hold a med ball in both hands. Rotate your upper body and arms from side to side, touching the ball to the ground by each hip. Keep your feet off the ground the entire time and move as quickly as possible.

Russian Twists with Med Ball

5. Alternating Leg V-Up (or full v-up or oblique v-up…) – Lie flat on your back with your legs out straight in front of you. Beginners will rest the leg not being raised up on the ground while advanced exercisers will keep both feet off the ground at all times. Lift one leg up toward the ceiling. Crunch the upper body up and reach the opposite arm up toward the toes of the raised leg. Then lower that leg and lower your upper body down. Raise the other leg and the opposite arm to touch it as you crunch up. Keep alternating sides.

Alternating Leg V Ups

Here are two great workouts using crunches as active rest:

Also, I think that lower body crunches can be useful especially as progressions of the pelvic tilt.

Most people jump right into double straight leg lowers and just accept the fact that they have low back pain when doing the move. Or maybe they put their hands behind their low back to help.

But they never really regress the move and focus on strengthening their abs so that they can truly do the move without pain.

The pelvic tilt isn’t really a crunch but many of the lower ab crunches that we do require that you can do the pelvic tilt. (The pelvic tilt is a must-do move for EVERYONE. It strengthens your abs to alleviate low back pain and make you stronger so you can lift more!)

To do the Pelvic Tilt, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. You should almost be able to reach your hands down by your sides and touch your heels with your finger tips. Feel the space between your low back and the ground as you lie there. Then draw your belly button in toward your spine and press that space away. You should feel your low back against the ground. Hold there, making sure to not hold your breath.

Once the basic hold becomes easy, you will want to do a bent knee march then a bent knee two leg lift and then finally straight leg lifts. Advance the pelvic tilt slowly. Make sure that as you progress, your low back stays firmly connected with the ground. If you can’t keep your low back against the ground, you aren’t ready for the progression. (These progressions of the pelvic tilt are all lower ab crunch variations!)

These lower ab crunches as a progression of the pelvic tilt are super useful to strengthen your core and learn how to engage your abs. I mainly use them as activation moves before a workout or on a recovery day.

So those are the times I find crunches useful – as active rest and ab activation progressions.

When do you like to use crunches in your workouts? Do you use them as active rest or ab activation exercises?

The Five Pillars of Health

Being healthy is about more than working out or eating well – it is about balancing what I call “The Five Pillars of Health.”

These five pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Activity
  • Sleep
  • Vitamin D/Sunlight
  • Stress

When you do your best to get the most out of all five pillars, you will be healthy. Ignore one and all of your hard work with the others may go to waste.

Being healthy is all about BALANCE.

Let’s take a look at all five pillars and how they each contribute to us being healthy.

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The Double-Edged Sword of Learning

I’m definitely of the opinion that you should always continue learning – that you should always be seeking out new knowledge and growing.

However, constantly learning can be a double-edged sword if you don’t apply a filter.

The problem with constantly learning is that you are going to encounter lots of opinions that differ and even contradict what you are currently doing.

And while it is good to adjust your program as you learn and grow, there are also going to be times when you need to IGNORE the new information.

There are lots of different things that work and you can’t do them all…especially not all at once.

So while you want to try to incorporate the new things you learn, you must do it in a way that actually allows you to BENEFIT from all of your new knowledge.

That means not always chasing shiny new things and constantly doing the latest and greatest.

It means experimenting (aka actually giving something time to see if it works) with something new and seeing if it works and then deciding to keep it or not.

The more you learn, the more you will understand that you have to FILTER what you learn and pick and choose what to believe and apply.

While there are lots of things that work, you have to find what works for you.

All the learning in the world won’t help you get results if you don’t apply it appropriately.

While you want to continue to seek out and read new information, you need to process it for yourself.


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Bodyweight Training – Some Must-Reads

I’ve become slightly obsessed with bodyweight training. I think it is something that anyone at any level can do while still being super challenging even for the advanced lifter.

A few weeks ago I took a workshop with Max Shank that went over Front Levers, the Planche, the Human Flag, Handstands, Back Bends and even more.

It was wonderful!

There are so many ways to regress and progress bodyweight moves to make them work for everyone.

Which is why  I was super excited when I saw this Bodyweight Training Book and Video bundle on Mark Sisson’s (The Primal Blueprint) twitter the other day.

Bodyweight training books and videos!!!!



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Three Warrior III Variations to Work Your Butt and Balance

I love using yoga pose variations in my recovery workouts and even in some of my strength training routines to develop stability.

All too often we skip from basic balancing moves that develop stability to big heavy lifts that develop strength, forgetting that without stability we won’t truly be strong.

That is why, every few weeks or so I dial it back and work on building my stability (or depending on my routine, it may even be added in when I’m lifting heavy!).

To dial back my deadlift, I like to use the Warrior III yoga pose to develop stability and work on my balance. (It is actually one of many yoga poses I love to use.)

The Warrior III pose is a great way to work on balance, core strength and activate the glutes. It also can help improve your mobility and the flexibility of your hamstrings and hips.

However, I don’t just hold the Warrior III pose.

Here are the 3 Warrior III variations I love to use to develop stability and balance all while activating my glutes and improving my mobility.

warrior III

Warrior III Variations:

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For more information….

Hope everyone had a great week.

I asked these question of a few of my clients the other day and I would like you all to consider them too:

Are you celebrating little victories? What is one thing you are proud of from this week?

(Comment below and help inspire others to celebrate their little victories!)

reach your goal

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Learning New Moves – Breaking It All Down

The other week on Redefining Strength I talked about how the incline push up is a better regression to progress yourself toward the full push up from the ground than the modified knee push up.

easier push up

The reason the incline push up is better is because it teaches you the correct form for a full push up and makes your body work in the exact same way.

While knee push ups may make your upper body stronger, they don’t force your whole body to work together and move together in the same way it will have to during full push ups.

HOWEVER, maybe if you do a variety of planks while strengthening your upper body, you will get there. But you need to regress the move and target the weak points.

When you regress and break down moves so that you can do something more advanced, you need to work your body in a way that will actually make you stronger for the advanced move.

Sometimes when we regress moves, we don’t actually work toward the move we want – sometimes we just make ourselves stronger at the regression.

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