Category Archives: Workout

Glute Training – Why I’m obsessed with butt workouts

For those of you on my email list, you’ve probably already realized that I love glute training since EVERY email this month has been about butt exercises and butt workouts!

glute exercises

So why am I so obsessed with glute training?

Read the rest of this entry

The Turkish Get Up

The Turkish Get Up is one great full body move to work on stability AND strength. It is also a great move because it forces the body to stabilize in more than one plane of motion.

It is also one of the moves I see most often messed up.

People like to skip steps and turn it into a sit up/roll up instead of the step by step move it is.

And honestly, the whole point of the Turkish Get Up is all of the steps and DOING them all in the correct order. That is how you truly reap the benefits of the Turkish Get Up.

Below is a breakdown on the Turkish Get Up. It can be done without weight by just balancing something on your hand or with a kettlebell press up toward the ceiling. It can also be done with a sandbag held on the shoulder.

Each has benefits and are great to strengthen your entire core and improve your coordination.

Breaking Down The Turkish Get Up:

Turkish get up

  1. Start by lying on your back on the ground with your legs out straight.
  2. Then drive your right arm up straight and have your fist pointing up toward the ceiling. Bend your right knee and place your foot flat on the ground. Straighten your left arm out to the side (not straight out at shoulder height, but not right by your body). Keep your right arm straight up and pointed toward the ceiling at all times (it can even help to balance something on your knuckles to remind you of this while you are learning).
  3. Then roll up on to your left forearm. Prop yourself up nice and tall on your left forearm. Press through your right foot on the ground. Do not let your right knee cave in and keep your left leg out straight on the ground.
  4. Once up on your forearm, press up onto your left hand with your left arm going straight. Sit up nice and tall. Do not shrug your shoulders. And remember, your right arm is always straight and pointing straight toward the ceiling.
  5. Then from the seated position you are going to bridge up, lifting your hips up as high as you can. You will press down through your left hand as well as your left heel and right foot. Keep your right foot flat on the ground and your left leg out straight. Do not let your right heel come up.
  6. From the bridge position, slide your left leg back and under you so that you are in a kneeling position with your hand on the ground. Make sure you swing your leg back enough so you are in a strong supported kneeling position that will allow you to lift your left hand off the ground.
  7. Staying nice and tall, lift your left hand and come to a kneeling position. Do not lean forward of slouch forward as you lift your hand up off the ground.
  8. With your right arm still pointing up at the ceiling, stomp your right foot into the ground and come up to standing, bringing your left foot forward to be even with your right foot.
  9. Once standing, you will reverse the steps until you are again lying on your back.
  10. You will first go back to kneeling, stepping your left foot back.
  11. You will then place your left hand down on the ground out to the side and just a little back from your left knee.
  12. You will then bridge up and swing your left leg through so it is out straight in front of you. As you bridge, keep your right heel firmly planted on the ground.
  13. From there, you will return to a seated position supported by your left hand.
  14. Then you will relax down to your forearm and finally roll on to your back. Do not slouch as you move back down.
  15. Keep a nice tall posture throughout the entire move.
  16. You can also do this move with either a sandbag over your shoulder or a kettlbell or dumbbell in the raised hand. Beginners may just want to start by balancing something on their knuckles.

sandbag get up

Here is a great workout that breaks down and works on each part of the get up.

Here are also some great workouts using the Turkish Get Up.

Metabolic Workouts – Some are Sprints, Others are more like a Jog

Metabolic workouts are the only sort of cardio I enjoy (ok…I do like sprints as well). I hate long distance running or any steady-state cardio for that matter.

Maybe I love them because metabolic workouts come in all shapes and sizes so you can work all the energy systems. Maybe I just love them because they contain a ton of variety and keep me interested…Who knows…

But they are a version of cardio that I love.

And I don’t just love them because I feel utterly destroyed after each one. Because, in fact, I don’t.

Not every metabolic workout should smash you.

While workouts like the 20/20/20 are great and even essential to your workout routine, so are metabolic workouts where you never redline, where you never feel completely smashed.

It is like the difference between sprints and a long jog. After sprints you may feel exhausted because each one is an all out effort and you need to rest in between. Whereas with the jog, you should feel like you can keep going at the same pace the entire time because you never give an all out effort.

Some metabolic workouts need to be like that. Some metabolic workouts should have you working at 70% of your max output instead of going all out.

Below is a great aerobic metabolic workout. Make sure during it that you never redline. You want to keep moving at about 70% of your maximal output for the entire time.

10 Minute Metabolic Circuits

cardio workout

WARM UP
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Quads
Hamstrings
Groin
Hips/Glutes
Chest/Shoulders
Back/Lats/Traps

WORKOUT

Set a timer for 10 minutes. Work at 70% and keep moving the entire 10 minutes. Rest a couple of minutes between circuits. This is a great workout to do with a friend or two.

CIRCUIT #1:
Agility Ladder (Mix up the drills and go forward, backward and sideways. Keep going through then walking back and repeating.)

CIRCUIT #2:
Med Ball Throws (Rotational throws, side throws, overhead passes, chest passes, throws for height, mix them up and throw against a wall, slam it into the ground, throw it for height or work with a partner. Keep moving, but never redline.)

CIRCUIT #3:
Crawling and/or Locomotion (Jog, back pedal, high knees, skips, butt kickers, side shuffle, bear crawl, crab crawl, gorilla crawl, keep moving and mix up the drills. Move forward, backward and sideways.)

COOL DOWN
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Quads
Hamstrings
Groin
Hips/Glutes
Chest/Shoulders
Back/Lats/Traps

For more metabolic workouts, check out the Workout Library.

What are some of your favorite cardio workouts?

The 30-Day Home Bodyweight Challenge

Yesterday I mentioned that the easier we make healthy changes, the more likely they are to stick.

And for some people, getting to the gym on a regular basis just isn’t easy. Yes it is an excuse, but it is an excuse that causes many people to fail at reaching their goals.

Which is why I’ve become big into posting home workouts you can do with just bodyweight.

Because I also love butt workouts, today I’m posting a great bodyweight glute workout.

For more workouts like this one, check out The 30-Day Fitness Challenge.

The Home Bodyweight Glute Workout

WARM UP
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Hips
Quads
Hamstrings
Groin

ACTIVATION
Complete 2 rounds of the circuit below. Hold each move for 2-5 seconds at the top so you really feel the muscle begin to work.
CIRCUIT:
12 reps each side Donkey Kicks
12 reps each side Clams

WORKOUT
Do both exercises back to back then rest up to 1 minute between rounds. Between supersets, rest up to 2 minutes.

SUPERSET #1:
10-20 reps each side 3 Count Single Leg Deadlift
10-20 each side Single Leg Glute Bridge (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.)

SUPERSET #2:

10-15 reps each side Diagonal Lunges (Curtsy to Front Angled. Both lunges equal one rep.)
15-20 reps Reverse Hyper (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.)

SUPERSET #3:

10-20 reps each side Backward Lunge
10-15 reps each side Fire hydrants (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.)

COOL DOWN
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Hips
Quads
Hamstrings
Groin

NOTES:
If you have weights at home, you can definitely use them. But slowing down the tempo of each move, or adding in a towel for the back lunge, can also advance the exercise.

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS:

Donkey Kicks – Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Flex your feet. Drive one foot back and up toward the ceiling, keeping the knee bent to 90 degrees. Make sure to drive the heel up and back. Do not arch the low back. Squeeze the glute as hard as you can at the top of the lift. You should not feel this in your low back at all if you are squeezing your glute and not arching to get the leg higher. Do not let the knee rotate in or out. Hold at the top and then lower the knee down. Repeat all reps on one side before switching. Do not bend your arms as you perform the movement.

donkey kick
Clams – Lie on your side, propping yourself up on your forearm. Place both legs together, one directly on top of the other. Keep your feet together and bend your knees in a bit. To perform the move, lift the top leg open like a clam opening up. Keep the feet together as you open and don’t allow yourself to rock backward. You want to press your hips forward and squeeze your glutes as you open that top leg. When you first do this move, it can be good to do it against a wall so that you don’t rock backward. To apply some resistance, press down on the top leg with your hand or place a mini band around both legs below your knees. Perform all reps on one side before moving to the other side. Below is a picture with the band.

clams with mini band
3 Count Single Leg Deadlift – Stand on one foot with the knee of that standing leg slightly bent. Hinge over at your hips, sweeping the other leg back toward the wall behind you. Take 3 seconds to hinge over. Pretend you are driving the heel of that foot straight into the wall behind you. Lean forward with your upper body as you hinge forward, keeping the back nice and flat. Make sure that as you hinge, you are sitting into the heel of your standing leg. Do not lean forward and come up onto the toes of your standing leg. Remember to lower down for a 3 count. To stand back up, drive through the heel of your standing leg and squeeze your glute at the top. Come up quickly. Try not to tap the other foot down at all or at least not till you are fulling standing. Then slowly lower back down, taking 3 seconds to hinge over. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other leg. You can slow it down to a 5 count if the 3 count becomes easy or you can hold weights in each hand.

bodyweight single leg deadlift
Single Leg Glute Bridge (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.) – Lie on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the ground. Try to bring your heels back close enough to your butt that you can just graze your heels with your finger tips. Lift one leg up and bend the knee to 90 degrees. Drive up through your heel on the ground, lifting your hips as high as you can. Keep your core engaged and squeeze your glutes so you don’t feel the move in your low back. Do not let your knees fall together. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. At the top of your glute bridge, you should be driving through your heel and your upper back. Hold at the top of each lift for 2-5s. To advance this move, place your foot up on a table or chair. To regress the move, do a two leg glute bridge from the ground.

single leg glute bridge

Advanced variations

Diagonal Lunges (Curtsy to Front Angled. Both lunges equal one rep.) – Start standing tall with your feet together. Then, starting with the right foot moving, step the right foot across and behind the left leg. Step back toward about “7″ or “8″ on the clock. Do not step too close to the left so that you have space to sink down into a deep lunge. Drop the back knee toward the ground, keeping the front heel on the ground. You should feel the lunge in the outside of your front butt cheek. Then bring the right foot back forward and stand up nice and tall. Beginners will want to pause here while more advanced exercisers will want to go right from the curtsy lunge to the angled front lunge. Step the right foot forward out of the curtsy lunge into a front angled lunge. Move the right foot forward and out to about “1″ on the clock. Both toes should be pointing straight ahead as you bend both knees and sink down toward the ground. Keep your front heel down as you lunge down. Then drive off the front heel to come back to standing. Then go right from the angled lunge back into the curtsy lunge. Repeat until all reps are complete on that side and then switch.

curtsy to front angled lunge
Reverse Hyper (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.) – Lie face down on a table or bed with your legs hanging off. Make sure your hips are right at the edge. Hold on to something in front of you if you want. Keep your upper body relaxed. Squeeze your legs together and point your toes out. Lift your legs to basically parallel to the ground, keeping your legs straight. Do not hyperextend your back and lift way higher than parallel. You do not want to feel this in your low back. Keep your core tight and really squeeze your glutes as you lift. You can also do this on the ground although it doesn’t give you as big a range of motion.

hyper
Backward Lunge – Start standing with your feet together. Step one foot back into as deep a lunge as you can handle, bending the back knee and dropping it toward the ground. Your front knee should bend as well, but your knee shouldn’t go forward over your toe. Make sure to really sit back on that front heel and keep your chest up nice and tall. Then, driving through that front heel, come back to standing. Step that back foot back forward. To make the move harder, place a towel or slider under the foot moving back. Instead of stepping, you will slide the foot back into a deep lunge.

towel back lunge

The towel backward lunge variation.

Fire hydrants (Hold 2-5 seconds at the top.) – Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Both feet are flexed. Keeping the knee bent to 90, lift the leg straight out to the side like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. Make sure to keep the knee and ankle at the same height. Your foot shouldn’t be way up in the air and your knee shouldn’t be way above your foot. Your lower leg should be in a nice parallel line from the ground. Do not bend your arms to raise your leg higher off the ground. Also try not to lean into the standing leg. Squeeze the glute and hold at the top, keeping the foot flexed. Then lower down and repeat.

fire hydrant glute activation

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?

Challenge Yourself With VOLUME

There are so many ways to challenge yourself with your workouts.

But all too often people only focus on lifting more weight.

You can do longer or shorter workouts. You can change up the intensity. You can change up the exercises and the equipment you use. You can vary your rest. You can change up your repetition tempo.

You can also vary the VOLUME that you do.

And by “volume,” I  mean changing up the number of reps and sets you do during your workout. HOWEVER, increasing your workout volume doesn’t have to mean longer workouts.

It does, however, mean you won’t be able to lift the heaviest weight you’ve ever used.

That being said though, you do want to use a challenging weight that won’t cause you to go to failure, but will create muscle shake-age (that is my very technical term for feeling your muscles start to fatigue as you lift).

You want to challenge yourself while allowing yourself to move from one exercise to the next with little to no rest between.

And even though you aren’t going to failure or using the heaviest weight you can handle, the sheer volume of work you are doing will create muscle gains.

Using heavy weights and low reps isn’t the only way to develop strength and gain lean muscle mass!

Higher volume with slighter lighter weights can also cause great gains.

For example, the forced reps variations I discussed a few months ago can be a great way to increase your workout volume, challenge yourself and help you progress toward your fitness goals WITHOUT just focusing on always lifting heavier weights or doing lower rep counts.

Another great way to increase your workout volume is by doing density sets. One of my favorite ways to do density sets is by setting a timer and then trying to do as many rounds of two or three exercises in that allotted time as possible.

During these sets, you will use a lighter weight and stop before reaching failure so that you never really need to rest more than 30 seconds at any time.

These density set workouts can also be a great way to get in a little extra “cardio” and can be a great way to give your body a break from the low rep, heavy lifting while still helping you to move forward! And if you’ve plateaued with your low rep, heavy lifting workouts, a high volume workout may be just what you need to get over your plateau.

(Shoot, I also love these workouts because I can get in a high volume of work done WITHOUT having to do 20 reps at one time…Since for some reason my brain, in general, hates counting up to 20….)

Below is a sample high volume workout to get you going this week!

Glute Density Set Workout

WARM UP
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Hamstrings
Quads
Hips/Glutes
Groin
Back

WORKOUT

Set a timer for 15 minutes for each circuit. Perform as many rounds of each circuit as you can in that 15 minutes. Rest 2-3 minutes between circuits. Try to rest no more than 30 seconds at one time during each circuit if you rest even that long.

Mark down how many rounds of each circuit you get in 15 minutes so next time you have something to compete against and show progress!

CIRCUIT #1:
15 minute timer
8-12 reps each side Single Leg Deadlift
10-25 reps Reverse Hypers

Rest 2-3 minutes

CIRCUIT #2:
15 minute timer
5-10 reps each side Backward Rotational Lunge to Front Lunge Across
8-12 reps each side Single Leg Glute Bridge

COOL DOWN
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Hamstrings
Quads
Hips/Glutes
Groin
Back

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS:
Single Leg Deadlift –  For this move, you can hold dumbbells or kettlebells, but remember DO NOT GO TO FAILURE. Beginners should start with bodyweight. Stand on one foot with the knee of that standing leg slightly bent. Hinge over at your hips, sweeping the other leg back toward the wall behind you. Pretend you are driving the heel of that foot straight into the wall behind you. Lean forward with your upper body as you hinge forward, keeping the back nice and flat. Make sure that as you hinge, you are sitting into the heel of your standing leg. Do not lean forward and come up onto your toes. To stand back up, drive through the heel of your standing leg and squeeze your glute at the top. Try not to tap the other foot down at all or at least not till you are fulling standing. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other leg.

SLDL
Reverse HypersClick here for a description and pictures of me using a small side table I have at my house to do the Reverse Hypers. You can also use a box step or do this move from the ground; however, I do prefer the range of motion the table or box step provides.

hyper
Backward Rotational Lunge to Front Lunge Across – This move is actually two lunges, which means that 1 rep is actually 2 lunges. On one you rotate back and open and on the other you come forward and across. Start with both feet pointing toward “12” on a clock. Performing the lunge first with the right foot moving, take the right foot and move it back toward “5” on the clock. As you reach your foot back toward “5,” you will pivot that toe so that it is perpendicular to the front foot which is still pointing toward “12.” Lunge down, bending the right knee while keeping the left leg straight. You are sinking your weight back into that right foot. Then drive up off the right heel and come back to standing. Beginners may need to pause in the middle between lunges while more advanced exercisers can go right from the back rotational lunge into the forward cross lunge. After driving the right foot back to center, bring it forward and across the body toward about “10/11” on the clock. Your right foot will again turn so it is perpendicular to your left foot which is pointing toward “12.” Sink down into a lunge, bending both knees and then drive off the right heel to come back to standing. Repeat those two lunges and then switch to the other side. Beginners will want to use bodyweight while more advanced lifter may front load with a kettlebell or dumbbells.

lunge matrix

In this I show the backward rotational lunge and the front lunge across but without turning the toe. Not turning the toe on the front lunge can reduce the stress on the knee if you are new to these lunges and/or have knee problems.

Single Leg Glute Bridge – Beginners will perform a single leg glute bridge from the ground (however, if you can’t get your hips up as high as with the two leg glute bridge, stick with the two leg variation for now). More advanced exercisers may put their foot up on a box or advance the move further by putting your back and your foot up on benches/boxes. Remember though, you can’t go to failure during these density sets.

single leg glute bridge

Do you pay attention to the volume of work you are doing?

How do you challenge yourself without just adding more weight?

NOTE: Not every workout should contain a ton of reps and sets. Do not go overboard with volume and/or intensity. Not every workout has to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Varying your volume and intensity is key to getting results while preventing overuse and injury. Workout variables need to be manipulated to help you work toward your goal.

Turkey Day Workout

I love doing a quick workout in the morning before all the celebrating begins.

It can be fun to be active with friends and family before you all sit down for a big meal.

It also just always makes me feel better to get moving on a day when I’m doing a lot of sitting and feasting.

So because I love a quick, fun and social workout on Turkey Day, here is a great cardio blast you can do anywhere.

Happy Turkey Day!

Turkey Day Workout

WARM UP
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Hamstrings
Quads
Groin
Hips/Glutes
Back
Chest

WORKOUT

You will end up completing 10 rounds. Start with just the first exercise. Then repeat the first exercise and add in the second exercise. Then return to the beginning, doing the first, second and third exercise. After adding in a third exercise, return to the top and go down the list again adding in the fourth.

Each round, add another exercise until on the final round you do all 10 exercises.

CIRCUIT:
5 reps Super Crunch
10 reps Frog Hops
5 reps each side Sit Thrus
10 reps Burpees
5 reps Plank Jacks
10 reps each side Ski Hops
5 reps Dive-bomber Push Ups
10 reps each side Oblique V ups
5 reps each side T Push Ups
10 reps Tuck Jumps

COOL DOWN
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Hamstrings
Quads
Groin
Hips/Glutes
Back
Chest

NOTES:

Take only as much rest is needed. Complete the 10 rounds as quickly as possible.

This is a great workout to make into a friendly competition. The first one to complete all the exercises wins. Of course that doesn’t mean sacrificing form to win!

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS:
Super Crunch – 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
Frog Hops – Basically a squat jump except you are propelling yourself forward instead of up. So squat down and launch yourself forward, landing softly in a squat so you can repeat. Try not to rest when you land. Try to go right from one jump into another. If you don’t have room for these though, you can perform squat jumps instead.
Sit Thrus – Click the link for a description and pictures.
Burpees – You can do either modified burpees (aka no push up) or full burpees. If you do the push up, make sure it is a full good push up. Also only do the push up if you can continue to move quickly.
Plank Jacks – Start in a high plank on your hands and toes. Hands are under your shoulders and your feet should be together. Then jump your feet apart and then quickly back together. Repeat quickly until all reps are complete.
Ski Hops – Keep your feet together and squat down. Then with your feet together, jump side to side. Try to jump as far to each side as quickly as possible. Beginners may want to pause in a squat after each jump to balance.
Dive-bomber Push Ups – This move can be done from the knees by beginners or from the toes by more advanced exercisers.To do this from the knees, set up at the top of a push up with your hands outside your chest and your body in a straight line down to your knees. Sit back onto your heels as if doing a child’s pose stretch. Keep your hands in their original position. Then start to move forward back into the push up position, but keep your head and chest close to the ground as you go forward. Keep your upper body as close to the ground until your chest is in between your hands. Arch, opening your chest up toward the ceiling as if you are doing upward facing dog. Get a nice stretch at the top, making sure to press down through your palms and elongate your neck. Do not let your shoulders shrug up by your ears. Hold for a second and then sit back into the child’s pose stretch and repeat.

modified prisoner push up

Modified Push Up

Oblique V ups – Lie on your side with your legs straight and together. Bring them to a slight angle in front of you. Lie with your bottom arm out in front of you at an angle. It will be under your body like you are going to prop yourself up on your side using it. Crunch up reaching your top hand toward your toes as your raise your legs up toward the ceiling. You will sort of prop yourself up on your arm on the ground to “v up.” Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.
T Push Ups – See link for description and pictures.

push up to side plank
Tuck Jumps – Stand with your feet together. As you jump up, tuck your knees in toward your chest. Then shoot your legs back out to land softly on the ground. You are not squatting with this jump, simply tucking your knees.

Home Workouts – 15-Minute Lower Body Blast

Recently, I’ve been super into creating home workouts.

While I love going to the gym (heck I’m there almost every day anyway), there are just some days when even I don’t feel like making the special trip in if I’m not there to work.

But I don’t like skipping workouts.

And I really don’t think there is ever any reason to skip a workout other than your body truly needing a break because you’ve been pushing it hard. (Although hopefully you’ve scheduled in rest days so you aren’t technically “skipping” a workout when you take a day off since rest days are important to your success too!)

Actually the times when we want to skip our workouts the most, are the times when we need to do them the most – because workouts will improve our moods and release all that pent-up stress, frustration and even anger that we have.

Plus workouts can actually make us less fatigued and more focused.

But anyway, since one of the most common reasons, aka excuses, I hear for skipping a workout is that people don’t have time nor do they want to make a trip to the gym, I’ve created another quick home workout.

The other week I did one for the upper body and just this past week I did a home cardio workout.

Today is a great Home Lower Body Workout using only bodyweight exercises.

So if you are short on time and feel like skipping your workout, give this a try instead!

And “gasp” it only has two exercises in it! You don’t need to do 50 exercises to really work your body!

15-Minute Lower Body Blast

WARM UP (linked out to some stretches)
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Quads
Hamstrings
Groin
IT Bands
Hips/Glutes (linked out to some great moves to loosen up the lower body and low back)

WORKOUT

Set a timer for 15 minutes. Complete as many rounds as possible in that time.

CIRCUIT:
5-10 reps per side Curtsy to Angled Front Lunge
8-12 reps per side Skater Hops
5-10 reps per side Standing Glute Stretch (or as needed)

COOL DOWN
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Quads
Hamstrings
Groin
IT Bands
Hips/Glutes

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS:
Curtsy to Angled Front Lunge – Start standing tall with both toes pointing straight ahead to “12” on a clock. Start with your right foot. Cross your right foot back behind your left foot into a “curtsy” lunge. Your right foot will move back between “7” and “8” on a clock. Then beginners may need to come back to standing while more advanced exercisers will go straight from the curtsy lunge into the angled front lunge. So coming up out of the curtsy lunge bring the right foot forward and out into a front angled lunge. When you move into the front angled lunge, your foot will come to between “1” and “2” on the clock. Repeat the lunges, trying not to rest in the standing position. Complete all reps on one side before switching. One rep is both the curtsy AND the angled lunge.

While it may look like I'm lunging straight ahead, I'm stepping my right foot out between "1" and "2" on the clock.

While it may look like I’m lunging straight ahead, I’m stepping my right foot out between “1” and “2” on the clock.

Skater Hops – Start standing to one side. Hop laterally with one leg. Land and balance on that leg letting the other leg swing back behind. Try not to touch the other toe to the ground. Then jump back to the starting position. Try to jump as far as you can each way while still moving quickly. The faster and farther you jump, the harder the move will be. Beginners should start by jumping and balancing for a second before repeating.

skater hops

Skater Hops

Standing Glute Stretch – Standing grab one of your lower legs with your knee bent to about 90. Pull from under you knee and foot/ankle. Pull your lower leg in toward your chest. Hold for a second and then repeat on the other side. You do not want to perform a static stretch. This move is meant as “active rest.” Perform only as many as needed to feel recovered enough to repeat the circuit. If none are needed, go right back into the Curtsy to Angled Front Lunges. You may also sub out this move to stretch out your groin or hip flexors if those are tight instead.

Home Cardio Workout

I’ve said before I hate cardio…But that really isn’t completely true.

I just hate long, slow cardio. SO BORING.

And it also kind of makes me mad that everyone thinks that they either need to go for a jog or hop on a piece of cardio equipment to get their cardio in.

Because you don’t.

You can easily do a super tough and fat burning cardio workout at home with very little space!

home workouts

For example you can do the towel taz….

The other day I actually did one a great at home cardio workout although I didn’t do the towel taz.

I didn’t feel like going in to the gym, but I wanted to workout. I also didn’t feel like doing a long workout since I had a lot to do.

AND on top of those things, I didn’t have a lot of space to work with and had to do it outside the kitchen since Ryan was holed up in the office doing work.

And this is what I did:

Home Cardio Workout

Stretch and roll out all tight spots (hips, calves, quads, upper back, lats were my targets)

CIRCUIT #1:
3-5 rounds:
20 seconds each exercise
20 seconds rest between rounds (beginners may need more rest take up to 1 minute between rounds)
Burpees
Sit Thrus
Super Crunch

super crunch

super crunch

2-3 minutes rest between circuits

CIRCUIT #2:
3-5 rounds:
20 seconds each exercise
20 seconds rest between rounds
Skater Hops
Mt. Climbers (can use a towel or sliders if you have them)
Cherry Bombs

2-3 minutes rest between circuits

CIRCUIT #3:
3-5 rounds:
20 seconds each exercise
20 seconds rest between rounds
Split Squat Jumps
Plank Hip Dips
Circle Crawls

mary katherines

split squat jumps

2-3 minutes rest between circuits

Stretch and roll out anything that is tight when done.

Now this is cardio I like.

What’s your favorite home cardio workout?

10 Plank Variations to Strengthen Your Core

I’ve had sort of a love-hate relationship with planks over the years.

At points I’ve felt they didn’t give you that much bang for your buck, but I’ve started to realize they really are essential to developing stability and therefore preventing injury.

Here are my favorite plank variations. Some are isometrics while others are dynamic moves. Some even make great warm up moves.

1. Front Plank – The basic front plank variation is done from your forearms. You should rest on your forearms with your elbows right below your shoulders. Beginners can start on their forearms and knees while more advanced exercisers will perform the plank from their forearms and toes.

forearm front plank

The longer you hold, the harder the move will be. To advance the move further, try lifting one leg and holding it off the ground. Make sure to draw the belly button in toward your spine, tuck your hips under and keep your body in a nice straight line. Feet should be together and adductors, glutes and quads engaged. Do not let your upper back round as you hold. Breathe as you hold and don’t let your hips drop toward the ground or raise up toward the ceiling.

You can also do the front plank from your hands.

2. Side Plank – The basic side plank variation is done on one forearm. Your elbow should be right below your shoulder.

Beginners may do this from their knees. A modified plank can also be done with just the bottom knee down and the top leg straight.

To advance the move, straighten both legs and rest on the side of your feet and your forearm. (Feet may be stacked or one may be in front of the other.)

If that isn’t challenging enough, raise the top leg. You can also do the side plank from your hand.

side plank

High front plank and two side plank variations

Your top arm can rest on your hip or reach up toward the ceiling. Make sure to keep your body in a nice straight line. Squeeze your glutes and make sure your chest doesn’t rotate toward the ground. Drive your bottom hip up nice and high. Do not let your hip sag toward the ground.

3. Planks with Hip Dips – There are two variations of plank hip dips that I love to use. One is a front plank with hip dips and the other is a side plank with hip dip.

To do the front plank with hip dip, set up on your forearms and knees or toes. Keep your core engaged and your belly button pulled in toward your spine. Then drop the side of your right hip down toward the ground. Come back to center and then drop the side of the left hip down toward the ground. Alternate hip dips while keeping the core tight. Do not let the hips sag or raise up toward the ceiling.

To do the side plank with hip dip, set up on one forearm and either your knees or the sides of your feet. Start in a basic side plank. Then keeping your body straight and your chest open (aka not rotated toward the ground), drop your hip toward the ground and then press it back up as high as you can. Repeat making sure your body doesn’t collapse forward. Your top hand can be raised toward the ceiling or on your hip. Complete all reps then switch to the other side.

4. Plank with Reach Out and Back – A great glute activation move and tough on the core. This move is done from the hands and either your knees (beginner) or toes (advanced). To do this move from your knee, set up in the top of a push up with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a nice straight line down to your knees. Then sit back on your heels into a “child’s pose” position, reaching one hand back between your legs. Move forward back to the top of the push up as you reach the hand from between your legs out toward the wall beyond your head. You may even extend your hips more toward the ground. Just make sure to keep your abs engaged so that you don’t feel the extension out in your low back. Complete all reps on that side before switching to the other arm.

hip hinge plank

To do the plank with reach out and back from your toes, start at the top of a push up with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a nice straight line to your toes. Your feet should be between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. Lift one hand and hike your hips up as you reach back and across to the opposite ankle. Then reach back forward, reaching beyond your head as you lower your hips back down into the plank position. Extend your hips forward toward the ground, squeezing your glutes while keeping your abs engaged so that you don’t feel it in your low back. Complete all reps on that side before switching to the other arm.

5. Plank with Reach Thru – Set up in the high plank position on your hands and knees (beginner) or toes (advanced). Then reach one hand under your armpit and toward the far wall. You don’t just want to reach under your armpit to pat yourself on the back. Make sure your hips stay down as you reach through. Then pivot open, rotating into a side plank. You will reach the hand that reached under your armpit up toward the ceiling while rotating onto the sides of your feet or knees. Then reach the hand back down and under the armpit. Move back into a high plank position. Complete all reps on that side before switching and reaching the other way.

twisting plank

6. Bull Dog – To perform a bull dog hold, start on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Flex your feet and push up onto your toes and hands while your knees stay bent under your hips. Hold your knees an inch or two off the ground, keeping the core tight and the belly button pulled in toward your spine. Do not let your upper back arch as you hold. This move you almost feel more in your quads and shoulders than your core.

bull dog hold

7. Body Saw – This is a very advanced plank variation…even at its most regressed. You can do this on a towel or sliders or regress it to a simple plank from your toes on the ground. Set up on your forearms and toes in a basic front plank. If you aren’t using sliders or a towel, you are going to walk your feet backward, lengthening your body through your triceps. Keep your body in a nice straight line. Do not let your low back arch. Walk your feet back as far as you can while maintaining good form and then walk back forward into the front plank.

If you use sliders or a towel, you will slide your feet back instead of walking them back. Make sure your lengthen through your arms. It is tempting to “pike” instead of truly lengthening, but to challenge your core, you need to lengthen your body out. You should not feel it in your low back. Keep the belly button pulled in and your glutes engaged. Don’t let your hips hike up or sag toward the ground. Slide out and back in and repeat.

plank on slider

8. Bird Dog – The basic bird dog is done from your hand and knee. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Flex your feet. Kick one leg out straight as if kicking it into the wall behind you while you reach the other arm out straight toward the wall in front of your head. Don’t worry about lifting your leg or arm up high. Really try to drive your arm and leg toward opposite walls. Squeeze your glutes and keep your belly button pulled in toward your spine. As you lower your arm and leg, bend them and bring them together under your body. Try to touch your knee to your elbow before extending back out. Repeat all reps on one side before switching to the other side. All reps should be done in a slow and controlled manner. You should even hold for a second or two at the top of the move.

bird dog

To advance this move, set up in a high plank position from your toes and hands. Now lift the opposite arm and leg up toward the ceiling, keeping both straight. Still try to reach both toward the far walls instead of just getting them up as high as possible. Keep your core tight and glutes engaged. Do not let the hip of the raised leg rotate open toward the ceiling. Squeeze the butt to hold the leg up then lower the arm and the leg and repeat the arm and leg raise on the same side.

Both bird dog variations can also be done as holds at the top instead of for reps.

9. High Plank Hold with Knee Drives – Set up in the high plank position on your hands and toes. You are then going to raise one leg off the ground and drive that knee toward your chest. You can drive the knee straight in. Or you can drive it to the outside of the same elbow (so right knee to the outside of the right elbow). You can also do a cross-body drive, bringing the right knee under and across the body to the left elbow.

Whichever drive you do, hold the knee in and the foot off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute before returning the foot back down to the ground and moving back into the high plank position.

If you want to make the move more cardio, you can turn it into a “mountain climber” by running the knees in and alternating knee drives instead of holding the drive.

mountain climbers

You can even make the climbers harder by adding a towel or slider.

10. Reverse Plank – I’ve talked about this move before…It is the one that always reminds me of Flash Dance (also called the Posterior Plank). Start seated on the ground with your legs out straight and your hands on the ground behind your butt. Your finger tips should be pointing toward your butt. Drive through your hands and heels and raise your hips up off the ground toward the ceiling. Press your chest up and out as you raise your hips. Keep your legs straight as you bridge up and relax your head back. You can either perform a Reverse Plank hold by holding at the top or you can perform reps, dropping your hips back down and raising them back up.

To make the move easier, you can bend your knees slightly. To make the move more advanced, you can perform a single leg Reverse Plank.

Here are some other amazing plank variations (some of which overlap the ones I’ve discussed above).

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