Category Archives: program development

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?

 

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Designing Your Workout Program

This past Sunday, I went to a great Bodyweight workshop led by Max Shank (Which was amazing! Check out his stuff!)

I went with one of our interns at the gym.

I’d forgotten what it was like to attend your first workshop.

There is an overload of new information and you feel like almost everything you’ve been doing just isn’t right.

You feel like you have to switch up everything you’ve been doing and now follow this new program.

I saw it in his eyes when we were there.

I saw the “Oh crap. I need to do things this exact way to get results and rewrite my entire program.”

I remember that feeling the first couple of workshops. You would learn a new way of doing something and you would instantly jump into the new program, putting aside anything you’d been doing up to that point.

However, after a couple of great workshops, you realize that everyone has their own way of doing something.

workout routines

There are a billion workout routines out there (many of them even are good) that people have found work for them…

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Work On Your Push Ups By Doing More Push Ups

Sometimes push ups are their own best supplemental exercise.

Want to strengthen your basic standard push up?

Then you need to strengthen your weak points AND you need to do more push ups.

Why not strengthen your weak points and do more push ups simply by using a couple different push up variations instead of a ton of different supplemental exercises?

So how do you use push ups to make your push ups better?

perfect push up

Pick variations that target your weaker areas!

Read the rest of this entry

It All Starts With The Mind-Body Connection

Want to run faster? Be more agile? Have better coordination? Be stronger?

Then you need to simplify things and work on your mind-body connection.

Balance work, agility ladder and drills, core sequencing exercises, activation exercises…These all need to be done so that you have control over your body and can activate the correct muscles when needed.

Speed, agility, quickness, coordination and frankly even strength don’t just simply come from lifting more or moving faster.

They come from your mind and body being able to communicate more quickly, which comes from everything being in balance.

Hmmm….maybe all those isometric workouts and moves I’ve been posting have even more benefit than simply recovery.

Many of those isometric moves work on your balance. And they correct imbalances as well.

Single Leg Deadlift Hold

Don’t think this requires a lot of balance and a great mind-body connection? HA!

If you have an injury, the communication between that area of your body and your mind has probably been interrupted. And depending on how good your recovery is, the injury may cause or have caused pain and problems higher up or lower down on your, meaning you may have many areas that aren’t connecting as well with your brain as you should.

Isometric moves work on repairing and correcting those imbalances. They work on mobility. They build stability in the muscles. They make sure the correct muscles are activated.

Isometric moves improve your mind-body connection. They make you focus and THINK about the muscles that should be activated.

Here is a great Isometric Workout to reduce pain and start working on your mind-body connection. It is a basic full body workout to correct many of those imbalances we have from sitting all day.

But isometric moves won’t do it alone. You must also do agility drills.

Many people think agility drills are just for athletes, but they are just as important for the average person especially as we age.

The agility ladder is a great tool, especially for us all to work on our coordination. HOWEVER, often people try to go as fast as possible without focusing on form.

If you want to get the most out of the agility ladder, you need to focus first on getting the move down and THEN on going as fast as possible. And you also need to mix it up. You need to go forward and backward. You need to go sideways and work each side.

Pay attention to which side feels more coordinated and don’t let your dominate side always lead!

Here are a few agility ladder drills to get you started. (I’ll be posting a video soon with my favorites.)

But the agility ladder isn’t the only agility drill you can do. You can set up cones or even use a few basic playing cards and set up points you shuffle, sprint, back pedal and carioca to (or any other locomotion move you want). Move quickly and make the distances super short so it is more about being quick and changing directions than getting up to speed.

Reaction drills are also great to improve the speed at which your mind and body communicate. Instead of using cones, have a friend tell you to shuffle to the left. Then whenever they want they can tell you to sprint forward then shuffle to the right. They can mix it up so you never know what is coming.

They can also do the drill with you and make you “shadow” them. LOVE shadow drills. They make you really focus and have to react.

You can also improve your coordination to get stronger, faster and fitter by doing core sequencing moves. These are moves that get the muscles of your core to work together as they should.

The Turkish Get Up, or its modified variation the Baby Get Up, is a great exercise to get your core to work together.

Turkish get up

Here is a great workout to teach you the Turkish Get Up and help you strengthen each part of the lift.

What are you doing to improve your coordination and your mind-body connection? Simply lifting heavier weights and/or running faster aren’t going to be enough!

Progressions – Should You Repeat Workouts?

workout progression

We love variety. We love coming in and doing something new each and every day.

But if you have specific goals, like doing an unassisted pull up, you can’t simply do something new each and every day.

Actually if you want to reach your goals, you need to repeat workouts…over…and over…and over again.

And then you need to progress your current workouts.

You are not reinventing the wheel each and every workout, each and every week.

You are simply constantly building on your past and current routines to progress and get stronger to reach your goal.

How can you progress your workouts if they are constantly changing?

The simple answer is…You can’t.

You can’t easily track whether or not you are moving forward. And whether or not you are getting results, you won’t know what is and isn’t working.

And if you don’t know what is and isn’t working, you don’t know what to change when you plateau or your results slow.

So how often do you change up your workouts? And how do you build from progression to progression?

Below are some great tips and guidelines to help you create a great progression.

1. Change up your workouts every 3-6 weeks. You need to spend at least 3 weeks on a progression to get results from the workouts. The first week you will learn the moves and become comfortable with them. The next week you will add weight and the third week you will be able to really push yourself to the max with them. You may find that you can get just a little more out of them if you do a fourth and final week or you may be ready for a recovery week. I’ve found that the maximum amount of time you can repeat the same workouts without plateauing is 6 weeks. Longer than that and you start to get bored or overtrain or plateau. Go no longer than 6 weeks without a recovery week and changing up your workouts.

2. Progress the exercises and weights. There are progressions/regressions for every exercise. Think about the push up for instance. Never been able to do one? Start against the wall. Then do one from a lower incline with your hands up on a bench…maybe even on your knees. Then maybe a super low incline from your toes. Then maybe from your knees on the ground. And finally from your toes on the ground. You can even progress the move further and do a decline push up. The point is, you start with one move, master it and then move on to the next level the next progression. You can also make moves more challenging by adding weights. Heavier weights make moves harder. But going heavier or lighter isn’t the only way to use weights to change up the exercise. You can also vary exercises by where you hold the weight and the type of weight you use. A kettlebell deadlift is different that a barbell deadlift or a suitcase deadlift. A front squat is different than a sandbag shouldered squat or a barbell back squat. They all challenge the body in different ways because of where you hold the weight and the type of weight used.

3. Change up your workout design. You can change up the number of reps and sets you do to challenge your body in a new way. Working toward a one rep max? Then slowly lower your weights down as you progress. Looking to get stronger, feel better and create some body composition changes? You may want to mix up your workouts and add in some density sets. You can vary the reps and sets to help you achieve different results. If you are working on maximal strength, your workouts shouldn’t look exactly the same as someone focused on weight loss. If you are focused on doing an unassisted pull up, your workouts won’t look the same as someone working on a pistol squat or training for a race. You workout design should match your goals.

4. Change your supplemental lifts to address your weak points. As you progress, you will find that different body parts are the weakest links. Address those weak links with supplemental exercises. If you want to do more push ups and your triceps are weak, add in some dips or some close grip push ups. Shoulders weak? Then add in some overhead presses and maybe some handstand holds. Make sure to add in lifts to help you progress toward your goal and address your weakest links. Those supplemental lifts should change even if your goal stays the same for a progression or two. These different lifts will help work those weak links in different ways to make them stronger and can address any new areas of weakness.

5. Consider what your week looks like OUTSIDE of working out and plan around it. If you plan out your workouts ahead of time, you can plan certain workouts to go on certain days. Know you are alway busy Monday and really only have 30 minutes to workout? Plan your short workout for that day. Know that you hate going to the gym on the weekends when you are home but want to get in a workout? Plan a home recovery workout for that day or any other workout you can do from home. Consider your schedule and match your workouts to your schedule. It will make your workouts easier to stick to and therefore keep you more consistent. A huge part of progressing is consistency!

6. Focus on one goal each progression. Often we have lots of different goals we want to accomplish, but we can’t address all of them at once. Sometimes we can address two at once if they somewhat overlap (like doing more push ups or pull ups can easily be compatible with the goal of losing weight). However, you must stay FOCUSED on one or two things with each progression. Focus your progression with only a goal or two in mind so that everything you are doing will benefit those goals. When you spread yourself to thin and try to do too many things at once, nothing will end up getting accomplished.

7. Address injuries first. Know your injuries and address when and how you are going to rehab them. This may mean focusing on a different goal and only doing rehab for the injured area during a progression. It may mean adding in rehab/prehab to workouts as part of the warm up. Or it may mean setting aside stretching/trigger point days to address your imbalances. If you don’t address injuries first, you aren’t going to get stronger and you may cause issues in other parts of your body. If you don’t address an ankle injury and just keep pushing through your knee, hip, back may all end up with issues. Your progression should go mobility, stability THEN strength/cardio. If you aren’t mobile and have a good base, you aren’t really going to get the most out of your workouts!

8. Vary the intensity of your workouts. Each and every workout shouldn’t be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. With pre-planning your progression, you are able to plan so that you aren’t destroying the same muscles over and over again and pushing your body toward injury. You can plan so that your body has ample time to recover before those muscles are worked again. If you do a hinge day and a squat day, make sure that your body has time to rest in between. Don’t put those workouts back to back. And make sure your legs are worked in different ways during each workout. Also add in a super intense metabolic workout and maybe one where you work at 70%. Make one upper body day killer and maybe the other is more stability and mobility focused. Varying the intensity and having some “easier” days can actually help you get closer to your goal than 5-6 days of super intense workouts.

9. Consider the space and equipment available.  This one seems obvious but often we actually forget about all the tools we have at hand…like our own bodyweight, which is super important to remember if we want to work out 4 times a week, but just can’t make it to the gym more than 2. Once you look at your schedule, you can plan out when and WHERE you will do the workouts. Maybe you can only get to the gym twice a week, but you find you can workout two times at home. Then consider all the tools you have at home. Utilize the space and equipment you have and don’t be afraid to mix it up. Not all workouts have to occur in the gym with machines or free weights or barbells.

10. Track what you do and progress each week. A progression helps you succeed because it is pre-planned but more importantly because it allows you to easily track your progress. Write down your weights, reps, sets. Track every variable that isn’t set in stone. Say you state you are going to do 8-12 reps. Track the weight you use for those reps and how many you manage to do with that weight. Then the next week work to beat that. Tracking allows us to know EXACTLY where we are so we know EXACTLY what we have to do to progress the workout the next week!

Do you repeat workouts? Do you make them up when you get to the gym or do you have a pre-planned progression?

How long before you change up your routine?

The Workout Warm Up Guidelines

I get a lot of questions from people about warming up. How long? What should they include? Do you need to foam roll? Stretch? Walk on a treadmill?

isometric exercises

Isometric Holds are a great way to warm up the body. They can stretch and activate the muscles to make them ready to move.

And while there is no one right answer, I like to follow these Warm Up Guidelines:

  • Focus on warming up the specific muscles used. Walking on a treadmill isn’t really a great warm up for an upper body strength day. Foam roll those muscles than do a stretch or two to loosen them up. Use stretches that hit more than one area at a time to make your warm up more time efficient.
  • Before a workout all muscles must be warmed up that are going to be used so that you are ready to go when you start your workout. By rolling out and stretching the muscles that are going to be used, you will get more out of your workout because your body is ready to move. You will also prevent injuries from occurring. Focus on the tightest spots. If you find a knot, roll it out. If there is no knot, move on.
  • Do dynamic stretches to loosen up all muscles and MOVEMENTS that you are going to use during the workout. If you are going to move laterally, warm up so that your body is ready to move laterally. Spend more time and do more stretches for tight areas and fewer for areas that feel loose.
  • Any day you have time, you should focus on areas you know are tight or painful to roll out even if you aren’t necessarily using them . These tight, knotted areas need extra attention as often as you can. If you aren’t using these areas, don’t spend a lot of time on them but do touch on them. The more often you can do proper mobility/flexibility work for them, the quicker they will get better.
  • Do activation exercises for the muscles you want to work that day especially if they are traditionally underactive. If you sit at a desk all day, you will most definitely can’t skip mid/lower trap activation exercises as well as glute activation exercises if you are doing a back or butt day. These activation exercises will help you avoid injury and even alleviate minor aches and pains you may already have.
  • Especially if you are doing a metabolic day, you want to get your heart rate up a bit and the sweat flowing. You want to feel warm when you start your workout. Getting a little out of breath in the warm up isn’t a bad thing. Even getting a little fatigued in a warm up isn’t a bad thing.
  • The more muscles you plan to work and the higher the intensity of your workout, the more you may find you need to warm up. Same goes for if you are working out first thing in the morning. Your body may need a bit more time to really wake up and get warm enough to work hard and handle the intensity.
  • Always include something to really get the muscles working, be it activation, isometrics, locomotion or crawling. Use exercises that, while they may stretch, also make the muscles begin to work to stabilize the body. Use exercises that wake everything up. For example, a glute bridge hold will activate the butt and get the muscles working while also stretching your hips. Or a plank reach out and back…It will warm up the core while stretching the hips and activating the glutes. The important part really is to get everything WOKEN UP.
  • Don’t make it too long! Too often we skip the warm up to make the workout shorter, when in fact, it doesn’t have to be very long at all. Even the longest, most thorough warm up, including foam rolling, shouldn’t last more than 15 minutes. And, unless you are doing a full-body, super intense workout, it probably doesn’t even need to last longer than 5-8 minutes. Even when I rounded up for my full body warm up, it was still only 11 minutes….And I definitely rounded up. So while you want to get things moving and even a little sweat going, you don’t want to sap your body of too much energy.

Here is one of my favorite warm ups for a full body or leg day. There is also a great warm up for cyclists and one for runners in the Elite Library….Yes that’s right, you really should warm up before you ride or run!

Here are also some great dynamic stretches to include in your warm up.

What do your warm ups look like?

Planning for Success – Making Things Easy

For the first few days after you set a New Years Resolution, you are generally pretty motivated to accomplish it.

But as early as a week later, that initial motivation has already dwindled.

And things that seemed easy to do, like cook meals and eat clean, stop seeming as easy because you aren’t as motivated to do them.

If you don’t have a solid plan in place and haven’t done the proper preparation, you are going to slip back into old habits.

We will find any excuse to not make changes.

Therefore we have to make things as simple, and as idiot proof, as possible for ourselves.

So if you want to make some healthy changes to your diet this New Year, how are you going to make your plan excuse proof?

These tips below may just help….These tips are meant to help us create healthy habits so that we don’t have to think or use as much self-control to stick with the new program.

Because our self-control gets depleted as the day goes on, especially if we’ve had a stressful day. And the more things are in place so that we don’t have to use self-control, the more likely we are to stick with our plan and accomplish our goals!

5 Tips To Make Changing Easier

1. Meal Prep (Make Lots of Leftovers and Cook When You Have Time) – The easiest way to change-up your eating habits is to have healthy foods already cooked when you get home tired from work. The last thing most of us want to do when we are tired and hungry is spend even 10 minutes making food. That is why meal prep is so important. Pick a day when you are around the house anyway. It can even be a day when you are around the house RELAXING because if you pick a few recipes for the oven or crockpot, you don’t even have to stand around and stir them or anything. Find a few recipes that allow you to make meals for a couple of days. For instance, bake a chicken or some chicken breasts. You can simple throw them in the oven and go do something else while they cook. Or make a chili in a crockpot. You can throw in all the ingredients and even go out and do whatever you want all day. You will come back and have numerous meals! Eating clean really doesn’t have to be a horrible chore. Make it easy and make it work for you.

Cooked chicken, eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, dressing and cut up veggies for the next couple of days to make cooking quicker and easier!

Cooked chicken, eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, dressing and cut up veggies for the next couple of days to make cooking quicker and easier!

2. Don’t Keep Temptations In The House – When we get stressed or upset, we are going to reach for comfort. And if we have those old comfort foods around, we are going to reach for them EVEN if we can resist on a normal day. When you are trying to create new habits, don’t keep things around that may derail those habits. Out of sight, out of mind. Very rarely will you make an effort to go get those unhealthy foods when emotional. And if you do, then accept it and move on. Just make yourself have to really work for it in hopes that it will give you time to reconsider. (Because more often than not, you will simply do what is easy and stick with the clean food you have around.)

3. Don’t Wait Till You Are Starving To Eat – While I do believe in intermittent fasting and that you don’t need to eat a certain amount of meals everyday, you also don’t want to just starve yourself to lose weight or wait to eat till you are super hungry. We tend to make horrible decisions when we get super hungry. We tend to not care what we eat and we tend to eat too much. Listen to your body and recognize when you are getting hungry. Then eat!

4. Always Have Healthy Snacks Around – For one, like I said above, you don’t want to get to the point of starving so that you seek out ANYTHING to eat. Plan and have snacks around for those times when you may need a quick little bit. Also, many people are emotional eaters or eat when they get bored. Most of us are guilty of it at some point at least. And while that is an issue we do need to deal with, a great way to prevent our emotions or boredom from derailing our new healthy habits is to have healthy snacks around so that we don’t munch on something worse. At least then we are reaching for something healthy and not something that may make us feel even worse, which could lead to the binge eating cycle.

5. Know Your Restaurant Options – While yes, often the healthiest option is to eat something homemade, that isn’t always an option. Plan for having to go out. Know the restaurants near your home and work so that if you do WANT to go out or get asked to eat out, you know the healthy options. Prepare yourself with go-to eating out options so you aren’t taken off guard or persuaded to eat something that derails your progress when you don’t want to cheat. I have a few restaurants that are my go-to when I want to eat cleaner but either have to go out to meet people or my meal prep wasn’t perfect and I need a meal in between. (Note: You can also choose not to eat out at all. While often this isn’t something we want to do, you can give yourself permission to join people out and then go back and eat the meal you planned to eat. It is just good to recognize this is an option even if people may make you feel guilty for wanting to stick with your plan.)

BONUS:

SET AN END DATE! I’ve been harping on this a lot with people lately, but even when you are trying to create habits for a healthy lifestyle, you need to set an end date. We don’t mentally do very well with FOREVER. So maybe set up a reward at the end of each month. Maybe you go shopping or do something special with friends and family. Or maybe you simply switch up the recipes you use every 4 weeks. Whatever it is, make there some sort of “end date.” Some time where you can pat yourself on the back for completing what you set out to do. And then at that time, you can adjust your plan a bit for the next month or so to keep you moving forward!

Once healthy habits are in place, you may find you don’t need to be as diligent with these tips because the ideals are engrained. Till then though, make it as easy as possible for yourself to stick to your new habits.

The more you prepare against the excuses, the more likely you are to create habits that LAST!

Achieving Your New Years Resolutions – It’s All In the Preparation

The other week I wrote about goal setting so that you can achieving your goals this coming year.

But setting proper goals is only the first step.

The next step is planning out how you are going to achieve your goals. And the more detailed your plan, the more likely you are to succeed.

new years fitness resolutions

Most people really skip this part.

They set goals. And then they start working out and eating healthy according to something they read or some vague idea of what they should be doing.

But they don’t really have a PLAN.

They really aren’t sure exactly what they are going to do from day-to-day. They really don’t know what is paying off and what isn’t. They really aren’t consistent enough with one thing to truly track what is working and what isn’t.

And while they may work really hard for a month to try to achieve their goals, they probably aren’t going to stick with it in the long run EVEN if they see progress.

Because at some point their haphazard program isn’t going to get them results. And when they plateau, they won’t know where to go because they will have no idea what worked and what didn’t.

But if they had a plan not only would they have direction to begin with, but they would also know what worked.

They could adjust the plan as they realize what benefits them and what doesn’t. As as they tweak their plan, they would continue to see progress.

Whereas if they had no plan, they would almost have to completely start over to continue getting results. And starting over with no idea of what works….Well that by no means guarantees you results.

Plus a plan is a great way to get you motivated and keep you motivated once you’ve set your goals!

Often we set our goals and those keep us motivated for a week or two.

But once that week or two is up, we lose that initial motivation.

If we’ve done enough to get results in those first couple of weeks, that may provide us with motivation for a few more. But if we haven’t seen great instant results, we may give up.

A plan though would help us stay motivated because we have something clear to follow and accomplish.

Accomplishing and completing the program you lined up, while it might not get you to your ultimate goal, is an achievement in and of itself.

It keeps you motivated to have something clearly laid out in front of you. It is harder to give up on something tangible, something you’ve spent time and energy already to develop, than it is to give up on something that is just a vague goal in your head.

There is something staring you in the face, letting you know you didn’t do it, when you write out a plan.

A PLAN.

That is why programs like P90x get results. They have clearly laid out plans. They have ways to progress and regress the program so that you can adjust it to fit you as you work through it. They even have slightly different variations of the plan to help you reach your specific goals.

You don’t have to play a guessing game to figure out what works.

YOU HAVE A PLAN.

So this year if you want results, create a plan. Set great goals and then map out how you are going to get there.

The next step after creating the plan is to do it and track it. After that, you just can’t be afraid to tweak it!!

NOTE: I’m not telling you to get a program like P90x (although you can if you want!). I’m simply saying that if you want to achieve your goal, the more you can think through all the variables like a program like that does, the more likely you are to achieve your goals!

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

WARM UP
Stretch and Roll Out:
Chest/Shoulders
Back/Traps
Lats

WORKOUT

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.

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

COOL DOWN
Stretch and Roll Out:
Chest/Shoulders
Back/Traps
Lats

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS:

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?

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