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Do you ask yourself “Where do I feel this?”

I think one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves when doing exercises is – “Where do I feel this?”

Because even if we have perfect form, we may not be activating the correct muscles.

Activation requires us sometimes to actually concentrate on getting the muscles working.

So when you do glute bridges, don’t just go through the motions….Think about squeezing your glutes and make sure to concentrate extra hard on getting them to work.

This focus on the muscles working improves our mind-body connection and makes sure we get the most out of the movement and don’t just go through the motions.

And not only does asking ourselves, “Where do I feel this” get us to make sure the correct muscles are activating, but it also allows us to know if we are doing a movement correctly.

If you don’t have a mirror to check your form, but you feel the correct muscles working, you are most likely doing the movement correctly.

So by asking yourself where you feel the move, you are making sure your form is correct and that the correct muscles are working.

You may even find that sometimes, even though you have the correct form, the correct muscles AREN’T actually working.

For example, glute bridges…Bridge up off the ground extending your hips. This could look correct, but that doesn’t mean your butt is actually activating. It could look right, but you could actually be loading only your hamstrings or low back.

The question is what are you working? Where do you feel it? When is the last time you thought about it? Or do you just usually think about bridging up as high as you can?

Height doesn’t matter. Feeling it in your glutes and consciously squeezing them as hard as possible is what matters.

So right now, try the glute bridge. Where do you feel it? Are you actually working the correct muscles?

No? Maybe adjust where your feet are. Try not to bridge up as high. Concentrate on squeezing your glutes. FEEL the move in the correct muscles!

By asking yourself where you feel it, you will get more out of your workouts.

And all of you trainers out there…You need to not only ask yourself this question so you can better coach moves, but you also need to ask your clients where they feel movements.

It will improve their mind-body connection and allow them to know if they are doing moves correctly when you aren’t there. It will get them even better results and improve their coordination.

FEELING THE MOVES HELPS YOU GET MORE OUT OF YOUR WORKOUTS!

So stop going through the motions and concentrate on where you feel movements. It will improve your body awareness and make your stronger and more coordinated!

P.S. If you are doing the glute challenge, you may want to try these 20 Glute Bridge Variations!

glute-bridge-and-curl

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Partner Exercises, Workouts, Isometrics and More

Start your week off right with some new workouts, exercises and tips. Check out these posts:

Three Fun and Challenging Partner Exercises – Sometimes you need a good laugh as much as you need a workout. Try these partner exercises and have some fun as you get your sweat on!

partner exercises

Build Up Your Endurance Workout – Building endurance doesn’t have to mean running on a treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes or more. If you get bored with steady-state cardio, but need to improve your endurance, try this circuit workout!

workout

The Superman Exercise – Often we get very focused on working the front of our core, our abs, because we want a six pack and we ignore our posterior chain. But the Superman exercise is a great way to work our backside and help us prevent and alleviate low back pain! Here’s how to do the move and other variations!

superman exercise

Circuit Training Workouts – Circuits are workouts where you perform one exercise after another back-to-back. They can help you build strength and burn fat. Check out these great circuit training workouts!

circuit training

Best Glute Exercises – I LOVE LOVE LOVE butt workouts. I love when my legs are sore and I especially love when my glutes are sore. Here are some of the best glute exercises…And you may be surprised to find that deadlift isn’t one of them. While I LOVE the deadlift, it doesn’t actually activate as many gluteal fibers as the hip thruster does!

best glute exercises

The Towel Taz – I love cardio exercises you can do anywhere with only very basic equipment. And the Towel Taz is just such a move. It works your entire core and elevates your heart rate. Check out these three basic Towel Taz variations. Grab a big blanket or towel and get moving!

towel taz

20 Isometric Exercises – Isometrics are a great recovery tool to help you improve your mobility and stability and prevent injury. Check out these 20 great isometric exercises and stretches to help you move and feel better!

isometric exercises

Have a great week and have some fun!

 

Are you mental?

Not only have I gotten stronger and fitter physically with a lot of my recent training, but I’ve also become mentally tougher.

And that mental toughness is honestly a HUGE part of why I’m stronger and fitter.

For one, that mental toughness means that I’m able to really explore how strong I am because my mind doesn’t tell me “I can’t” too soon.

Two, that mental toughness has made me feel even more capable and accomplished so that I feel driven to continue to push and work hard.

But more important than the fact that my new mental toughness has helped me become physically stronger is just the fact that I’m mentally tougher.

Which is why I’ve begun to realize that while the physical health benefits of working out are AMAZING, the mental health benefits are even better.

So how do you reap all the mental health benefits?

Do you go push yourself until you can’t move? Do you have to run a marathon or try to lift 100 more pounds than you’ve ever lifted before?

NOPE!

While pushing your physical limits can build mental toughness, you don’t need to push yourself to the point of complete failure (aka barfing, falling over, not being able to sit down to the toilet for weeks on end).

Mental toughness is built with small victories day in and day out. And the effects…well they go beyond the gym.

It can be as simple as you make it through the workout. Maybe you had to stop for a rest when others didn’t. Or maybe you couldn’t use as heavy a weight as your friend.

BUT YOU DID IT.

You didn’t give up.

And that small victory means everything.

Which got me again to thinking (and mind you this post was developed in my head at 4 in the morning so I apologize for all the changes in direction BUT….), is it more important to have absolutely perfect form or to prove to yourself that you CAN in fact do it?

This thought came up after a Saturday morning training session with another trainer at my gym. I HUGELY respect this trainer and he knows a ton about form, movement and imbalances so I usually am in complete agreement with what he says and even turn to him for some advice. (Just letting you know that I totally respect what he did in the situation I’m about to describe).

Anyway, we were doing box jumps. Form is very important to protect the knees but also to insure that someone doesn’t get injured jumping onto the box.

One of my clients was nervous about jumping onto one of the boxes even though she had done it the week before. Her form had been good aside from the fact that she occasionally got nervous about making it so landed a bit hard.

The other trainer made her use a very low box, which she easily did. She even easily did the box above it.

But then she faced the red box and she got nervous. She easily cleared it, but she landed a bit hard.

She could easily do it and with good form, but mentally she just didn’t have total faith that she would make it.

So he took her down to the lower box because she did land harder than she had on the lower box.

I, on the other hand, would have pushed her to keep trying the higher box.

Because she COULD do it. And I firmly believed that if she had the CONFIDENCE to do it, her landing would instantly have gotten softer.

While his reaction to her attempt at the red box were correct did that benefit her as much as it would have to DO the red box?

Her form wasn’t at all dangerous…just not perfect. So he had her do the low box to really ingrain the form. Which is great…

But lacked the added benefit of building mental toughness through accomplishment.

So what should you do?

In this case, I would have had her do the red box. Because it would have built her confidence and helped her continue to push hard day in and day out. Because she COULD do it…She just needed to believe a bit more in herself!

In this case, I would have had her do the high, intimidating box because she is FEMALE.

Yep…that’s right…I’m discriminating based on her gender!

There is a strength and sense of accomplishment that you get from pushing yourself in the gym – from doing something new or better than you did the day before.

This is definitely sexist, but I honestly feel that more often than not, women don’t push themselves in the gym. (And because society really doesn’t expect them to).

But the strength and empowerment that women can get out of working out….well I think that is irreplaceable.

So above all in the gym, I work to help women feel a sense of accomplishment because the strength they gain from that spills over into other aspect of their life.

It makes them more empowered individuals.

Anyway, after all of these ramblings, what do you think? Have you found that working out has made you mentally tougher and given you the strength to attempt things in day-to-day life that you haven’t before!?!

 

Another New Year’s Resolution?

I’ve started to hate New Year’s Resolutions time.

It usually means a ton of people come into the gym and sign up BUT NEVER SHOW UP AGAIN. While of course that helps our business, it annoys the crap out of me!

I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SET GOALS AND HAVE NO INTENTION OF ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHING THEM.

I mean why even set a New Year’s resolution if you don’t honestly have any intention of actually doing it!?!

So this year…DON’T BE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!

Set out that resolution and make it specific. Make it measurable. Make it something truly attainable and realistic. And make it time-based. (Ever heard of SMART goals!?!).

The resolution “I’m going to get in shape this year” doesn’t cut it!

What does in shape MEAN? Does it mean losing 5, 10 or 20 pounds? Does it mean running faster? Lifting more?

DEFINE vague goals and make them specific!

And part of that definition should include a way to measure them. If you want to run faster, what time are you shooting for? How much faster? Or how much more do you want to lift?

Make your goal something that you can easily track so you can gain momentum with your progress or make changes if you aren’t moving forward.

Then think about how long you are willing to work toward this goal. Will you dedicate 3 months? Six months? A whole year?

You need to figure out how big your goal is and how long you have to attain it. Then you have to decide…”Is that a realistic goal for the time that I have?”

If you want to lose 20 pounds and are only willing to dedicate one month, don’t even bother wasting your time setting that resolution. THAT ISN’T REALISTIC!

On the other hand, if you are willing to dedicate for or five months to your 20 pound weight loss goal, you are WAY more likely to achieve it because your expectations are REALISTIC!

Ok…so if you’ve followed the guidelines above, you should now have a SMART resolution that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based.

So now what?

COME UP WITH A PLAN!

While it is great to outline exactly what you are going to do everyday until the day you complete your goal, that isn’t realistic.

Life happens and tends to get in the way.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for all the random crap that will happen.

So how do you prepare for the unexpected?

Think about all of the habits you have now. What habits are keeping you from reaching your goal? What habits are helping you reach your goal?

Make some lists. Make a TO DO list and a STOP DOING list. Pay attention to not only the negatives but also the positives! Maybe you love to cook…That is a positive! Maybe you work long hours…that may be a negative since you might think you don’t have time to workout.

Then make a list of things that tend to sidetrack you. What has made you fall off the wagon in the past? Are you an emotional eater? Do you get stressed and eat? Do you skip workouts if you’ve had a long day? Do you not plan out your workouts ahead of time so feel like you waste a lot of time at the gym? Do you get bored easily but not change things up?

Do you do too much too fast?!?!

Once you have these lists, hang them someplace where you can see them everyday. Every day try to do the good things and avoid all of the pitfalls.

But also know that one “mistake” doesn’t mean you should just give up. Don’t let one slip up derail your whole program!

Remember that life will get in the way. You don’t need to be perfect because perfection is unattainable.

Shoot for progress – try to make each and every day better than the last.

Try to create new healthy habits and just remember that you may have bumps along the way, but that those bumps don’t matter as long as you get right back on track the next day.

Stop setting resolutions that you never keep. Don’t be one of those people who sign up for the gym and never come!

Don’t waste your time. Set a goal and reach it this year!!!

Workouts – What should we really be doing?

So last night when I was talking about workouts with a friend I realized how deeply it is ingrained in us that not only are certain exercises the key to weight loss success but so is a certain duration of activity.

She assumed I ran a lot and worked out for long periods of time because I’m “thin” and “in shape.”

Most women assume the same thing. They believe that running and long workouts are the key to weight loss success.

But they are wrong.

For one, I rarely ever run and when I do it usually is sprints or really light jogging if I’m going any distance over a mile.

And two, I don’t think any of my workouts have been anywhere near an hour for months now. Shoot, at least a few times a week my workouts aren’t even longer than 15 minutes!

Running and cardio in general is a key piece of the weight loss puzzle, but it isn’t the only piece. Strength training, and diet, are also very important.

If you don’t do strength training, you won’t add muscle.

Why do you want to add muscle when your goal is weight loss?

Because by adding muscle you burn more fat. When you have more muscle, you burn more calories allowing you to lose weight more easily and keep the weight off!

If you only do chronic cardio, when you take time off and eat normally, you will find the weight goes right back on. Also, you will find that your body will get used to the chronic cardio that you are doing and that you will constantly need to be upping the amount of time you spend running to get the same calorie burn!

BUT if you’ve added muscle, you will find that you won’t gain the weight back near as easily because you’ve raised your metabolic rate by adding muscle which needs more calories to be maintained!

Also, strength training will help prevent injuries that may develop from repetitive motions, such as running, that would hinder your progress or keep you from working out!

So while cardio is important, STRENGTH TRAINING, is actually more key to maintaining a healthy “in shape” weight!

Now to workout length….

Workout intensity is what really matters when you are trying to figure out how long your workout should be.

When I go for a hike or a walk, my workout will be longer. BUT if I workout super intensely, there is no need for my workout to pretty much ever go over 45 minutes.

So it isn’t that long workouts can’t be good, but if you are working out super intensely for an hour, you are probably going to either burn out or start feeling the effects of overtraining, which will actually hinder your progress toward your goal (be your goal weight loss or added strength or merely feeling fitter!).

So I guess to sum up what I’m saying is there is no one form of exercise or a certain length of time you have to spend working out to reach your fitness goals!

Variety is key!

(HMMMMM….Variety is key….That sounds familiar….I was going to link to another post here but there are too many preaching this on this site to pick just one! :-))

Perfection

 

We all “know” that no one is perfect – that we will never be perfect.

Yet we all try to achieve perfection in our diet and exercise programs.

If we “know” that perfection is unattainable, WHY ARE WE PRESSURING OURSELVES TO ATTAIN IT!?!

DON’T DO IT!!

Slip ups, mistakes are going to happen, but they don’t mean that we’ve failed or that we should just give up trying because we weren’t able to be “perfect.”

I’ve tried to attain perfection according to other diet and exercise programs and I’ve always fallen short. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but I just couldn’t follow their rules every day, all day. There were just times when I was too worn out/stressed/busy/on vacation to be able to stick to all of the rules.

So what happened when I slipped up?

I gave up.

But I realized I would never achieve my goals if I gave up every time I made a “mistake” – every time I cheated on my diet or missed a workout.

I couldn’t let one cheat or one missed workout lead to a week of bingeing or a week off from working out.

I had to change the expectations I had for myself.

I could seek perfection, but my definition of perfection had to include room for cheats and missed workouts. I couldn’t expect myself to be perfect 100% of the time.

BUT I could expect myself to achieve perfection 80% of the time with room for cheats or missed workouts 20% of the time.

I didn’t necessarily want to encourage cheats or missed workouts, but I had to expect that from time to time they may happen and that I could still reach my goals if I was “perfect” 80% of the time.

I stopped looking at reaching my health and fitness goals as an all or nothing thing, but a journey that I had to enjoy.

Plus I found that expecting perfection only 80% of the time lessened the pressure I felt and actually helped me stick to my program more consistently than I ever had before.

If I went on vacation, I didn’t force myself to stick to my diet if there was a dessert I really wanted to indulge in. I didn’t force myself to workout if we were all enjoying lounging by the pool.

But I found that because I wasn’t “forcing myself” to do certain things, I almost had more desire to do them even while on vacation than I ever had before.

And because I allowed myself to enjoy the times I did choose to cheat, it was easy to go straight back to my diet and exercise program when I got back from vacation.

I found a way to strict a balance between perfection and enjoyment of life. You can achieve your goals without sacrificing everything that you enjoy to do so.

You just have to accept that there will be setbacks along the way. And you can’t let them get you down. There will be mistakes and cheats and missed workouts that might upset you at that moment, but they won’t matter if you just accept them and move on.

Perfection isn’t important. Getting right back on track when you cheat or miss a workout is what matters.

It is what makes you stronger and will help you accomplish your goals.

So don’t force yourself to be perfect 100% of the time. Seek perfection 80% of the time and you will find much more success and enjoyment.

 

The good, the bad and the simply stupid

First off, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a tenacious young woman, Fern! Happy Birthday!

Now onto the good, the bad and the simply stupid!

The Good

I LIKE IT!

  • I like this quote from Michelle Obama,”You wouldn’t think of watering a plant with soda.” No you definitely wouldn’t.
  • Interesting research about dietary fat and cholesterol absorption.
  • I’ve discovered that I love designing workouts that ask you to do as many rounds as possible in under a certain time limit (usually 20 or 30 minutes). If you push hard for 20-30, you will probably get more out of the workout than steady-state cardio for an hour. Actually I GUARANTEE you’ll get more out of it!

Workout of the Week

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes:

5 Dips
10 Inverted Rows
15 Burpees
20 Front squats with weight

Your quads definitely burn a bit between the burpees and using a challenging weight on front squats!

The Bad

  • Ryan and I watched a Restaurant Impossible, in which Robert helps upgrade a community center. While they do create a garden and make the place super nice, the thing that bothered me the most was the prepackaged food the kids were being served. IT WAS ALL CARBS AND IT WAS BEING PASSED OFF AS HEALTHY! When seriously will the low-fat diet fad pass!?!
  • If only they ate Primally, they wouldn’t have to suffer. They could bulk up or slim down easily and healthily! Celebrities and stupid diets…BLEH! Of course I do understand that some roles demand extremes but still…I mean especially Anne Hathaway! You want a catwoman body!?! Eat Primally!

The Simply Stupid

  • Silk Pure Almond milk – According to their commercial people preferred the taste over regular milk. Of course the flavor they show in the commercial isn’t the Original, which has very little sugar – they instead show chocolate and vanilla! Of course people prefer them! They have more sugar and more CRAP in them!
  • Yesterday while at the gym, there was a guy who walks in and starts doing bicep curls. He definitely looked like one of those guys who follow the Muscle and Fitness Bodybuilder workouts. He was definitely one of those guys that thought he was “big” because he had lots of muscle. He was definitely one of those guys that annoys me. BUT the best part of this story is what Ryan told me when we left, “So you know that guy who was doing all the bicep curls? I thought he was reading a Muscle and Fitness since it seemed like that is where he was drawing his workout from, but no…he wasn’t. He was reading a People magazine.”..For some reason this made me laugh…

Why would you want to lift heavy?

So last night I met with one of my clients, Juliana, who also does my lifting class.

Juliana has gotten super into the lifting and has grown by leaps and bounds. Her movement patterns have improved and she is now lifting human beings! 🙂

She seems to enjoy the lifting and seems to like the way she looks!

But then this week, a situation that has happened to almost all of us female lifters, occurred. It is a conversation that can scare off many beginning female lifters.

The “you don’t want to get bulky do you” conversation. Juliana had two people start-up that conversation.

Luckily I didn’t even have to convince her that they were wrong! She already knew what she was doing was right!

Lifting heavy won’t make you bulky people!!!!! COME ON!

Having extra fat is what makes you “bulky.” Eating crap so that you have bad body composition is what makes you “bulky.”

Not leaned toned muscle mass!

I’ve gained about 17 pounds in the last two years. I still wear the same clothes I wore when I was 17 pounds lighter. Actually some don’t fit as well now because I’ve shrunk in certain areas…like my waist. I’ve shrunk because I’ve lost FAT. I haven’t become any bigger by adding muscle because I cut off the fat that was previously holding its spot!

If you don’t believe me because you know I’m biased, take a look at this Women’s Health Magazine article! Mainstream media even agrees that lifting heavy is good for you! (Of course as I go to post this and click on their link from Facebook it says “Page not found”….Maybe I shouldn’t yet think so highly of mainstream media!)

BUT here is a quote from what was up there.

Lift Heavier Weights! A recent study showed that women who lifted a challenging weight for eight reps burned nearly twice as many calories as women who knocked out 15 reps with lighter dumbbells.

See burn more fat and look LESS bulky by lifting heavy weights!

I wish I could workout twice in one day!

Trust me…you don’t want to.

Yesterday I did my lift and circuit and then last minute had to sub a cardio kicks class (cardio kickboxing).

I don’t teach cardio kickboxing so it was definitely a different experience.

I also wasn’t planning to teach and was more than fatigued from my workout earlier.

In the locker room, I was talking to one of my clients about the fact that I was sweating more than anyone else in the class and that I was super tired after two workouts.

One of my other clients and her friend said, “I wish I could workout twice in one day.”

My response to them was, “No you don’t.”

I’m not saying that it can’t be fun to have a super active day, but honestly there is never any reason that you need TWO workouts in one day.

If you workout intensely for 30 minutes, that can be more than enough for one day!

Workouts don’t have to be super long to get results. A lot of times shorter, more intense workouts are truly better!!!

Building Confidence One Squat at a Time

We all know that a good exercise program can help you lose weight and be healthy.

But most people don’t know about the biggest benefit you reap from working out – CONFIDENCE!

I love seeing clients lose weight and get stronger. But honestly the best thing is to see clients happy and more confident!

I love seeing them become more confident in how they look. I love seeing them become more confident in their fitness. I even love seeing them become more confident because they know their health is improving.

I love seeing people’s confidence grow!

And the craziest part is no true results have to be achieved for people’s confidence to improve. Maybe it’s the endorphins. Maybe it’s the fact that we know we are doing something good for us. Maybe it’s simply that we are pushing ourselves to our limits.

Maybe its all of the above.

Whatever it is though, the best part is that the confidence we develop is what truly spurs on great results.

How can you not feel better about yourself if you lift 5 more pounds than you did the week before? How can you not be more confident when you manage to push yourself through three rounds of a circuit when only the week before you had to take a break after the first round? How can you not feel better knowing that you managed to run .1 mph faster than you did even just a couple of days before?

And the craziest part is…that person probably could have lifted that much or made it through the three rounds without a break the week before. They just didn’t BELIEVE they could the week before.

So because they are working out, they become more confident. Because they become more confident, they believe in themselves. Because they believe in themselves, they get great results.

Which guess what?

LEADS TO MORE CONFIDENCE!

Simply put…Exercise is empowering!

Empower yourself today…try this workout or one of the other weekly workouts!

Weekly Workout #10

Strength:

Bench 3-2-2-1-1

Auxiliary lift circuit:

50-40-30-20-10 (Complete the previous rep range for all exercises before moving on to the next rep range. Ex: 50 reps all exercises then 40, 30 and so on.)

Barbell OH Press
Knees to Elbow
Burpees (Chest hits the ground each and every time)
Back Extensions

Can I say ouchie? My arms were toasted between the heavy bench, overhead press and burpees with push ups.

P.S. This is my favorite quote about exercise and endorphins.

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