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Give Yourself a Break

We are not perfect.

No matter how much we may strive to be, we simply aren’t.

And that isn’t a bad thing…even though we often treat ourselves like failures when we don’t live up to our own expectations.

The bad thing is when we hold ourselves back for longer than the failure itself does because we keep berating ourselves and preventing ourselves from moving on.

I say all this as a person who can be very very tough on herself when she doesn’t accomplish things exactly how and when she planned to.

I say this as a person who is incredibly demanding of herself and can bring herself to tears because she beats herself up over a “failure.”

I also say this as a person who is working to correct this and learn how to “give herself a break.”

Because mistakes AREN’T failures unless we don’t learn from them. And the harder a time we give ourselves about our mistake, the longer we stay in that failure mentality and hold ourselves back from moving forward.

Random (but not so random)…Have any of you read “Oh The Places You’ll Go?” (If you haven’t I suggest you do as it probably is one of the best “life lesson” books out there.

Here is just a little excerpt:

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

It’s all right there in that children’s book – Shit happens. Mistakes happen. “Failures” happen.

But the worst part isn’t that failure, but the “slump” you are in after it.

Because generally that slump is what TRULY holds you back.

And as the book says, “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Why is it not easily done?

BECAUSE WE EXPECT PERFECTION! Even though we know it isn’t possible.

So today stop stressing over little mistakes, little slip ups, little failures.

Take a deep breath and release all the tension all the anger.

Let the mistake go and get out of the funk. Don’t let a slump hold you back for longer than is necessary!

Learn from your mistake and move on!

On a side note….

Here are a couple of fun workout memes to hopefully make you smile and a couple of cool links to check out! (Plus a whole WARM UP GUIDE I just created with pictures!)

The toilet seems so low after leg day!

The toilet seems so low after leg day!

I love the minions

I love the minions



Dedication vs. Motivation – by Colin at Uber Beast Mode

Liar, Liar, Legs on Fire: Deception and Other Mind Games to Help You Keep Running When You Feel Like You Can’t Go Another Step – by Charlotte at The Great Fitness Experiment (Thought this was interesting after reading some of Jen’s recent posts at Wine to Weightlifting…and after having to run lots of long distances…. BLEH)

Thoughts on Rest Days – by Abby at Back at Square Zero. Rest days are important but aren’t always easy to take. Interesting little discussion on them…

Taking another whack at the Olympic distance triathlon – by Caitlin at Fit and Feminist. Liked this a lot….So much of what we do is out of pride and to prove something to ourselves. It isn’t about whether or not anyone else knows but about showing ourselves we can do it! It is about working hard because WE will know if we slack off.

AND a few of my own in case you missed them:

Fixes for two common running injuries – Shin Splints and Plantar Fasciitis

Becoming a Beast at Any Age

Learn How To Do A Pull Up

How To Do A Perfect Push Up

(Included these last two because they are legitimately two of my all-time favorite moves and ones I think everyone should be able to do)

And finally….My new post about how to warm up…. 15 Simple Dynamic Moves for a Full-Body Warm Up

prisoner push up

Part 3: Bootilicious – Activation

Ok so you’ve rolled out your hips and have loosened and lengthened the tight muscles.

Next, you’ve got to get the appropriate muscles activated – you’ve got to warm up those butt cheeks!

Most of us are quad dominate and our butts aren’t firing on all cylinders. So a few moves can get your glutes awake and ready to work.

The moves below aren’t the only moves you can use, but they are some that I like. They really make you feel your butt cheeks so that during your workout you will be well aware that your glutes are ACTUALLY working.

These moves may be funny…and yes…some of them are very Jane Fonda…but they are seriously EXCELLENT at what they do!

  1. Sit and squeeze – One of the simplest moves you can do to activate your butt cheeks is literally sit there and squeeze your butt cheeks. If you can’t do this, then you probably aren’t using your glutes at all during your workouts. If you are doing this properly, you should feel like you become taller.
  2. Kneel and squeeze – So in this one you are kneeling on one knee. So if you are kneeling on your right knee, with your left knee up, you are going to drive your hips forward and really squeeze that right butt cheek. You aren’t leaning forward, you are simply squeezing and hold that back butt cheek. You can make this a bit tougher, if you stand on one leg and bend the other knee to 90 degrees and squeeze the butt cheek of the standing leg. The standing move has the bonus of working on your balance!photo (42)
  3. Fire hydrant – So this move basically mimics the move a dog does to pee on a fire hydrant so I’m assuming that is where it got its name. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Flex your feet. Then raise one leg out to the side, keeping the knee at 90 degrees. Try to not let the foot get higher than the knee or the knee get higher than the foot. Really squeeze the butt cheek as you lift. Repeat all reps on one side before moving on to the other (41)
  4. Straight leg lift – To make the fire hydrant more challenging or to just add some variety, do a straight leg lift. So on hands and knees, straighten one leg out to the side and then lift that straightened leg. On both the fire hydrant and the straight leg variation, make sure NOT to bend your elbows. The straight leg move is tough and you may not lift the foot very high off the ground. Don’t force it or rotate. Just really isolate the glute. It should be firing on the first lift!
  5. Donkey kick – So setup just as you would for the fire hydrant. Instead of raising the leg out to the side, you are going to kick the leg straight back. Keep the knee bent close to 90 and keep the foot flexed. Don’t let the low back arch. Make sure that as you lift you are squeezing the butt cheek of the leg you are raising! Also make sure the foot is driving straight up to the ceiling. And do not let your elbows bend. photo (43)
  6. Hip Circles – So this move combines the donkey kick and the fire hydrant with a knee drive. To do this move setup on hands and knees. First drive the knee back and do a donkey kick. Then without lowering to the ground, bring the leg out to the top of the fire hydrant move. Then without setting the knee down, drive it forward into the elbow. Keep the foot flexed the entire time. When you drive into the elbow, you should really feel your abs engage. Then lower the knee down and repeat.
  7. Clams – So these can be done with or without bands for resistance. If you use a band, put it around both legs right below the knees. Lay on your side, propped on your forearm. Place your feet on top of each other and bend your knees to just above 90 degrees. Then without rotating, open the top knee, squeezing the glute. A great way to do this at first is to set up with your butt right against a pole or a wall so you can’t rotate. You are opening your top knee and driving it up toward the ceiling by squeezing your glute. Lower down slowly if using a band and repeat.
  8. Glute bridge – So this move deserves its own whole post and will get it, but the basic glute bridge is a great activation/warm up move so I had to include it. Lay on your back with your feet about hip width apart. You should basically be able to touch your heels with your finger tips. Then bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Drive your elbows, shoulders and heels into the ground as you drive your hips up. Make sure your knees do not fall apart. Actively squeeze your butt as you drive your hips up. If you feel this a lot in your hamstrings, make sure that you aren’t driving off your heels backwards. You shouldn’t feel like you are driving back into your shoulders. You want to actual feel like you are driving your knees forward over your toes even though you are driving through your (40)
  9. Posterior Plank – So this move looks like a move right out of Flash Dance to me (maybe she could get her hips up a bit higher, but yep….it is the exact move. Start seated on the ground with your hands behind you. It is best if you can turn your finger tips toward you. Push up onto your hands and heels. Drive the hips up as high as you can and really press your chest out. Relax your head back.
  10.  Band walks – So a great active way to warm up that butt. You place the band around both feet. To make the move easier, for one you can use a lighter band. For two, you can place the band up above your knees or even right below. The higher up the band the easier the move. The closer to your feet, the harder the move. Two great walk moves that I do…one forwards and one sideways. Walking forward…walk with monster steps out to each side. Do not let the feet come all the way back together. Also walk backwards back. Then walking sideways…just like a shuffle. Take a big step out to the side then bring the other foot to almost meet it, keeping tension in the band. Make sure the toes stay pointing forward. Don’t rock side to side. Keep the knees bent and take as big a step as possible.

So those are my top 10 activation moves. You don’t need to do ALL of them each and every time. I usually choose 2-4 depending on which ones I plan to do and what workout I’m doing that day. Today, since I was doing a posterior chain workout with single leg deadlifts and swings, I did 4 activation moves to make sure the glutes were really really awake.

Check back next week for a break down of some great butt STRENGTH moves! And if you missed it, or your butt cheeks are now active and ready to workout, try one of these deadlift variations!

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