Garmin Vivoactive HR Watch: The Perfect Gift For The Active Individual

Garmin Vivoactive HR Watch: The Perfect Gift For The Active Individual

My first blog post of the year! Hope everyone had a great first week of 2017. Looking back on 2016, there was a combination of both good and bad. Bad I feel isn’t a great word here, so I’m switching to “challenging.”

Challenges that were a lesson for growth and change. Plenty of tough real world situations, frustration, stress, and fear are a few of the characteristics I would describe tough spots this year. Even though negative at some points, I’ve gotten stronger and have learned what the real me is made of. Grateful for these experiences even though I wanted to jump out the window on a few occasions!

Good things: new friends, people, opportunities, growth, learning more about myself, and learning where I find my niche in the fitness industry. Continuing to trust myself, live independently in Tampa, and do what makes me happy are what I hope to continue in the New Year! One marathon, multiple races and miles, blogging, growing my personal training business and enhancing my group fitness skill set and classes, grad school this summer and fall, travel to Costa Rica, continue to live in sunny Tampa and meet the greatest guy, neighbor–turned boyfriend has been a few highlights of my year!

I’m not done with any of these yet, but every year I find myself getting a little bit closer to who I want to become. Big YAY!

OK. My year in review is recapped and I’m excited to share the purpose of post today!

My Garmin Vivoactive HR watch! 

I didn’t realize I would want this, but as soon as Harrison gifted it to me and I read about all it does, I was:

1.) Floored

2.) Excited to try it ASAP!

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I was in awe of such a generous and thoughtful gift, but also EVERYTHING this watch can do! Run, swim, bike, row, ski/snowboard (came in handy this Christmas in Steamboat), stand-up paddle board, golf (not really for me, but a possibility down the road!), as well indoor running, cycling, and strength training. I especially love the capability for strength training, especially during a HIIT workout or group fitness class!

It tracks heart rate as well, another component I thought was pretty sweet. Again, nothing I thought I would be sold on, but definitely a reminder to add that extra push and challenge myself during a run or cardio session. Although wearing a heart rate monitor around your rib cage is more accurate, which I still believe is, heart rate via your wrist is also fairly accurate compared to measuring my own manually.

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Sleep is also another feature I find fun to check! Again, nothing I monitor too closely since I’m a pretty sound sleeper, but seeing the amount of hours I slept, periods of deep and light sleep, movement, and awake time is handy. Sleep is a huge component of exercise performance, so knowing I’m sleeping well and sound and tracking it regularly is a feature that I’ve grown to like.

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Aside from the sport features, tracking steps, floors climbed, and intensity minutes are also recorded! All based around your profile you complete on the app, the watch determines your recommended steps per day, floors to climb (kind of tough at times), and intensity minutes for the week. It reminds you to move and congratulates you when you’ve achieved your goal! All good things to know throughout the day.

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Besides tracking fitness, the watch uses Bluetooth technology which syncs with your phone!!! Receiving calls and texts is easy and allows you to monitor notifications discreetly without the use of your phone. However, this is probably one draw back on this watch. I don’t care so much to see my texts and calls show up when I’m working out. My phone is away for a reason because I am busy! My workout time is my me time so I prefer to have that away. Luckily, this feature is not annoying and can be easily dismissed.

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I’m still get used to it, but I must say, it is easy to use and understand. Two buttons on the face, a large touch screen, and waterproof. Once set up, downloading the Garmin Connect App helps manage your stats via your phone. There you can go into details of your activity, sleep, calories burned, weight-loss tracking, and more. Did I mention you can sync it with myfitnesspal?! Too cool! I haven’t yet. Trying to decide if I want it connected or keep them separate. Will keep you posted! Pretty cool option knowing you can keep food logging and activity all on one app.

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Since there is SO many cool features, it can be easy to focus on numbers! Although numbers can be motivating, I try personally to not let them run my life.

I believe these activity trackers, whichever brand you buy, are a TOOL, not a measurement of success or failure. I feel that if I don’t track my sleep, I don’t get steps in, or my intensity minutes fall below the recommended amount, is not something to stress over. However, it is something to work on daily. Being reminded to move and take the stairs I feel are two very good features on this product–all of which doesn’t hurt any of us!

I do have my Garmin Forerunner 15 watch that is still my favorite and something I will continue to use! There’s something special about that watch–I think it has something to do with the races I’ve completed with it. In that case, I will be using it for my marathon and other races this year. General activity I will swap in with my Vivoactive HR watch for spin, walking, strength training, etc.! Overall, I highly recommend this watch since it plays a role in my active lifestyle that is more then just running! A perfect gift any time of year for the active individual in your life.

 

Core & Plyo Workout Plus First Week of Marathon Training

Core & Plyo Workout Plus First Week of Marathon Training

So far so good with my marathon training and balancing life, school, teaching classes, training clients, boyfriend and social life, and internship…LOL. Really though, I am pleasantly surprised with how well I’m doing so far. *Knocks wood.* I am very busy, but if you know me, you know I LOVE that and wouldn’t want it any other way. This week in particular has been a whirlwind and I feel quite tired, but also invigorated. I saw a quote this week that said, “I am so exhausted today because I was busy being so awesome YESTERDAY.” That’s how I’ve felt lately. And it’s a good thing. I’m also really excited to sleep in tomorrow morning for this reason. It’s the little things that count.

This week I shared a cool new core move that I shared on my Instagram. Since I’ve been tired this week, I just wanted to get it all done in as little as one or two moves. I also wasn’t feeling totally creative, like I said up top, so combining total core with a burst of low abs sounded like a good challenge to me! Make sure you keep your core tight, pressing it into the ground. Try not to let your low back pop up as your legs come down for the flutter kick. As soon as you feel your low back arch, you’ve gone too far! Keep your core tight and neutral.

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Owning you, Monday!

This move works the entire core and gets you burning up in half the time!  I was like ‘what can I double up on that let’s me get everything done in one or two simple moves?’ –> then BOOM. This move was born. I was toast guys!!!! Seriously it was really good. I didn’t need to do another move because this one got it all. Can I get an AMEN? Core done: CHECK! I love when I surprise myself with my creativity on days I’m feeling meh.

As much as I love doing large muscle groups and finishing them with core, I was just into doing just core and cardio and that’s it this past week. I wanted to be done with it in thirty to forty minutes max (I can typically spend about an hour, hour and fifteen depending on what I’m doing). We all have places to go and things to do, so this is where this workout came in handy the most.

I’ve talked a little about plyometric (plyo) moves before and they’re making their way back to my workouts. Plyometrics are movements that involve power, speed, and high intensity cardio. They’re great for HIIT and workouts like this one. Fast, challenging, and powerful. I never used to like them because I felt uncoordinated and slow. But after reading about how they can benefit my running and overall cardiovascular system, I reluctantly decided to add them. From there, I’ve grown to LOVE them. I add them for high intensity and burst of cardio where space is limited or I’m short on time. I especially love them for my HEAT class I teach since it’s always a good challenge and doesn’t require equipment–another bonus!

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Checked out the new University of Tampa fitness center this week! Gorgeous facility.

Combined with marathon training, I’m still keeping my three times per strength training days. I’ve been at this for awhile and really like how it’s fit into my schedule. Especially with my training and upcoming milage, it’s so important to stay strong and injury-free. Twice a week total body plus a quick thirty to forty minutes of a workout like this one is a perfect way to get in strength workouts.

No equipment necessary for this! All you need is a mat/towel, a water bottle, and some motivation and that’s it. 😉 Get that core working and heart rate up and you’ll be done in no time.

Core + Plyo Workout

  • * using a weight. I used one twelve pound weight and had a ten pound nearby
  • Three-four times total for each round going from one exercise to the next
  • Rest at the end thirty seconds to one min before repeating
  • Start with each exercise doing forty-forty five seconds each and work up to a minute

 -Overhead crunch + flutter kick*

-Russian twist + bicycle crunch

-Scissor kick + leg lift*

-Lateral bounds + single leg hop

-Side shuffle burpees

*Repeat 3-4 times*

In terms of marathon training, I started last week. Again so far so good. Since having done one already, I feel confident about my training and what works and doesn’t work for me. Of course, there is always something to try and glitches to sort out which makes each training special. I’m following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I program with a few new changes I’m throwing in. I’m adding two days of speed work and one bridge run. My race has two bridges and yes, I knew that when I signed up. My first race was flat so I figured it was time to add a new challenge. I’m tracking my food via MyFitnessPal. Strength training three times per week. Lastly, I’m adding hip and ankle mobility work since I’m as stiff as a board and am learning through my internship that I really do need to improve this. I’m determined NOT to break with my upcoming milage! My ultimate goal is finish in one piece and injury free and I feel adding the mobility work will really be a great addition! Keeping with minimal drinking and good sources of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbs are a forever friend when it comes to marathon training!

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Five miles done before the sun

One component I’m particularly excited about is to have my boyfriend, Harrison, be part of this training. He’s into being fit (mostly lifting upper body…I help gotta help with some lower body stuff) and running for health. He’s really supportive and is excited for me and the upcoming training! I’m hoping when he’s not studying, and when I’m not too, I can get him up early to ride his bike alongside me on my long runs. If anything he’s great at keeping me accountable. We both get up early so we text/call each other to make sure where up and moving. For me, I text him when I’m about to leave on a run and when I get back, especially when I run early in the morning. I told him a lot of carbs are in the near future so he said he would be down to keep me accountable with making sure I’m well fed. HAHA. My kinda guy. 😉

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Me & my dude, Harrison. 🙂
Challenge Your Core: How To Nail The Perfect Plank

Challenge Your Core: How To Nail The Perfect Plank

Happy Friday!! Figured I’d add a workout-type post this week since I’ve been switching up my planks lately. I practice a lot of them on myself and then add them to my workouts for my HEAT class and with my clients. In case you’re reading this and am like, “hmm what”- listen here!

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Standard Forearm Plank

I LOVE planks let me tell you. If I can’t figure core-wise what I wanna do, my go to is a plank of some kind. There’s so many options and you don’t need any equipment to get the most of this exercise. Switching your arms, legs, and movement patterns throughout your torso and you’re bound to challenge yourself differently every time.

A plank is an exercise used to isolate your core (abs and low back). Planks are all about contracting, namely through isometric movement, known as holding/squeezing. 

Tips to good plank form:

  • Back flat
  • Butt down
  • Hands under shoulders (modified plank)
  • Forearms/elbows unders shoulders (standard plank)
  • Breath!

Planks are all about time. No need for counting any reps. What I would suggest to someone doing a plank for the first time is focus on good form first. Time doesn’t mean as much if the form isn’t there. Seeing yourself in a side view using a mirror using my tips above is the first step. However you hold yourself, keeping the core tight and engaged is key to get the most out of your plank. The goals is to have good form first, then start the timer!

Once your form is good, start the timer and hold as long as you can until you lose form. Once form is lost, stop the timer and make a note of the time of course!!! 😉 Adding five to ten seconds at a time with good form is a good way to start. Working up to fifteen seconds then to twenty, thirty, ultimately a min or more is the goal!

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Modified High Plank (hands come under shoulders here ;P)

 

YOUR TURN!

-Favorite plank variation?

-What’s your go-to core exercise?

Strengthen The Low Back: Deadlifts & Core Warm-Up

Strengthen The Low Back: Deadlifts & Core Warm-Up

Happy Friday! Finished my first six week grad school class last week, and started my second one this past Wednesday! One down, last summer class to go. Before I start writing this, I checked out the syllabus and wrote out the semester in my planner for due dates of assignments, class topics, etc. I love my Erin Condren planner and it being so easy to plan and use, I highly suggest it if you like to write everything down!

Even with being in school, I decided to change up my goals and routine to incorporate one more extra day of strength training. I figured add in another day because I can make it happen with my schedule and having that extra workout keeps things fresh. See my post on squeezing in strength training into a hectic schedule hereOne exercise that is great for fitting into this time frame, is deadlifts, or any core exercise for that matter. Just like upper body or lower body, core deserves it’s own day too. What better way to fill the extra day of strength with all core, lower back, and abs?? I do core at the end of each upper body and lower body day, but I’ve really been enjoyed having these days just to focus here too along with mixing it up with a shoulder or arm day.

One thing I’ve concluded while working with clients that have desk jobs is that their core and lower back are especially tight and/or weak. No surprise right? I didn’t actually think of this, but I was getting a lot of the same comments from everyone like, “I feel so tight in the middle of back”, “I’m stiff constantly”, and “I have occasional neck/back issues.” Unfortunately, sitting for such long periods of time affects this. Yes, walking around during your lunch hour and taking the stairs helps, but at the end of the day, desk job employees can’t do a whole lot about the sitting part of their job. Unless, they get a stand-up desk which in my opinion, is the best option out there.

This is where I come into play. Although I’m not at work reminding them to walk around (although I’m sure they would like that!) I try and focus on regaining that strength and improving their low back and core when I do meet with them.

One key component of the dynamic warm-up (stretching with movement) I’ve done with them are:

  • Cat-Cows: It’s a yoga move it’s a great way to warm up the spine and core. It gently moves the core and spine up and down while easing low back stiffness.
  • Child’s Pose: No movement here, but a great way to release any tension between sets of Cat-Cows.
  • Torso-Twists: Rotating side to side from the waist gently twists the core and spine.

Perform each movement one after the next, ten to fifteen times each, three rounds through. Once warmed-up, I show my clients the proper form of the deadlift before giving them the weight. Deadlifts are tricky since they do incorporate the low back, an area of concern for some people. Once done correctly, they’re easy to grasp and provide so many benefits!

One mistake I find often is that people tend to add a squat to the movement. The squat isn’t necessary and tends to take away from the purpose behind the deadlift. The deadlift works to use the core, namely the low back, to lift from the hips up. I like to think of hinging at the hips/sticking the butt back as a way to describe the movement. Check out how to perform a deadlift here!

Another thing that worries people about this movement, is that we’ve been told our whole lives to “use the legs, not the back.” Yes, that is true, but properly recruiting the legs AND back is what is really key. Keeping the core tight is something that we don’t think of right away, but keeping it mind throughout the warm-up and into the exercise can help keep form together.

If you’re nervous about trying the deadlift alone, start with supermans. They work the low back the same way, but without the weight. You’re also on the ground which takes the thinking out of the movement. Check out how to perform the superman here!

Be sure to cool down and stretch the core once you’re done! The child’s pose is a good one post workout as well as the hamstrings toe touch. *BONUS* perform hamstring stretch sitting. It’s more intense this way because the floor is keeping your legs supported as opposed to standing up. Feel free to add a slight bend to the knees if you have tight hamstrings like me 😉 Work up to keeping the legs as straight as possible.

LET’S CHAT:

-Do you suffer from a tight low back? How do you keep it from getting cranky?

-Do you do yoga?

-Thoughts on stand-up desks?

 

My Fifteen Minute Foam Rolling Routine

My Fifteen Minute Foam Rolling Routine

Hey Everyone! Happy Friday!! Hope you all have had a productive and good week. I’m on my fourth week of grad school and so far so good, but is quite the challenge. I’m definitely being pushed out of my comfort zone with studying since it really is a whole new level of knowledge. I’m more then half way through my course, then I’ll have about a week and half or so off then return to my next six week course after the forth of July.

First off, what is foam rolling? Foam rolling is a recovery mechanism that releases adhesions, or knots in the muscle from repeated stress. It promotes blood flow to the affected area through rolling the muscle. Scientifically, this is called myofasical release, meaning ‘myo-‘ for muscle, ‘fasical-‘ referring to fascia meaning connective tissue, and ‘release’ from releasing tension on muscle.

With that being said, I figured I share my foam rolling routine and talk recovery since that is equally important too. I’m always go-g0-go. Constantly having a plan of action is my jam. For me, each week (even if its not set to a tee) has some kind of workout in it. It’s either just one workout of cardio, usually running or weights, either body weight or some kind of resistance. Twice a week I work out twice a day, usually in the morning then in the afternoon either a run then weights or weights then speed work.  Then I have a rest day or two. One thing that is weak in my own program is recovery. YEP, I said it. In fact, it’s probably my biggest weakness. Yep, I said it again. It really takes a lot out of me to focus on this. But I’ve learned over time that it is equally important in order to bounce back well from workouts. That doesn’t mean I get massages every week. I’m on a student on a budget, so that’s not happening! BUT I can do my own job of recovery instead and it starts with a foam roller.

Way back when I started running I was hurting a lot because of a lot of things like not strength training, stretching, and eating well (I ate Bud’s Chicken– a “nice” local fast food drive through post cross country and track meets). One big culprit (although all of them are significant), was foam rolling. I got to college and I had terrible IT Band Syndrome. It was so bad I could hardly walk AND on top of it I was training for my second half marathon. How I did that feeling like sh*t I don’t know but I ran it. Dealing with severe tightness, I learned from a professor I took a class with what foam rolling was. Thank you Exercise Science degree!! 😉 I was so tight and uncomfortable I hated it, but is showed me how much I really needed it and how it important it is to do regularly.

To this day, I’m not great at it, but I do it often enough now that I have my tightness under control and my IT Band Syndrome at bay. I’m still tight there from time to time, but it was WAY more manageable then when I wasn’t doing it at all! I was seriously like a grandma looking back now. How I went that far without rolling was my bad BIG TIME. Sometimes it takes a hard lesson to be reminded how important it is.

Okay, so fast forward to TODAY and I probably roll out two to three times per week. I could more, but I don’t always. I know. I can be better. It is something I struggle with and realize it is something to work on so I try to make it part of my routine somehow. So, I do it before bed as part of my bedtime routine. It takes about fifteen minutes, but it is well worth it. I especially love rolling while watching The Bachelorette or American Ninja Warrior. Roll and watch, it’s a good combination.

If you don’t have a roller and you workout, run, or train multiple days a week rolling is especially beneficial and definitely worth the investment. They come in all different kinds of firmness, treds vs. no treds, brand, etc. However, they are on the pricy side depending on what you’re looking for. I suggest starting with a softer roller (like a pool noodle type softness) and go from there. My favorite is Trigger Point brand recovery tools. They have a great variety for all types of recovery needs! Although I focus on legs, foam rolling can be for all over. If I roll out my whole body, it usually takes a half hour to forty five minutes. I find I have the most amount of time for this on the weekends. During the week I stick with  rolling for about fifteen minutes.

For my routine, this what I do two to three times each week. Starting easy from the bottom and working up or vice versa. Roll a little bit at time, about an inch more in one direction before go back to your starting point. If you feel a particularly tight or tender spot, hold there and breath. I broke it down here, but feel free to check out my video for a visual on Instagram to help get a better idea!

-Starting at the bottom of foot roll five to ten times up and down

-Foam roller under ankle, foot is resting on top, achilles tendon side down:

  • dorsiflex and plantar flex five times
  • circle the ankle in one direction and reverse
  • turn inside then outside ankle to roller and circle one direction and reverse

-Roll up shin to calf until back on knee (it’s safe with light pressure)

-Roll from bottom to top of hamstring up to the glutes

~Switch legs and repeat!~

Why Everyone Can Do Plyometric Moves Plus My Three Modifications

Why Everyone Can Do Plyometric Moves Plus My Three Modifications

Happy Friday friends!! Its been a while since I posted a workout, so I figured I’d share a bit of what I do with my HEAT class and what I do with them since I do a fair share of plyometric moves in a bit of each of my class’s and my own workouts.

In case you’re wondering what plyometrics are, plyometrics (aka plyo) are a form of cardio using intense amounts of effort in a short amount of time. I do a combination of them in between different exercises to add an extra challenge and calorie burn or lump them all together for longer duration to focus on cardio alone. It’s really whatever you like!! A few examples of plyo moves are lateral bounds, depth jumps, vertical jumps, box jumps, power push-ups, medicine ball throws, and last but not least–burpees. The factor that makes these “plyo moves” is the added burst of intensity, namely the jump/throw movement or using the word “power.”

With plyometrics comes with impact, just FYI. These movements aren’t something you do for long periods time because they’re intense, you don’t need to do them for long to get benefits. The longer you can go, the better you’re getting at them! Although that’s not a bad thing since it shows your improvement, it means you can also make it more challenging ;).

So you might be reading this and thinking, that you’re not up to that level or you’re coming back from an injury (do I hear cranky knees?)…that’s okay! The best part is that plyo moves offer modifications so anyone can do them! I admit, I was not great at them off the bat, in fact I was terribly uncoordinated. Wait, I kinda am still uncoordinated jumping and moving around at the rate I’m going, but overtime I worked up to it using modifications. As a result of working at these, I look more put together as a result too! Yay to looking less clumsy and more coordinated! 😉

Guess what the secrets are? You’ll be more apt to try them knowing you can drop the intensity and still get benefits with these modifications:

  • ELIMINATE THE JUMP OR POWER MOVE! Yep, simple as that. Lateral bounds without the hop in between, box jumps with alternating high knees, medicine ball press without the throw/catch. Wanna make it tougher? Add the jump, but jump HIGHER or onto something higher, throw a heavier ball, or simply increase time or reps.

 

  • Go At Your Own Pace – Just like standard cardio, go at a pace that feels comfortably hard for you. Keep in mind the talk test. If you’re huffing and puffing and can speak in short choppy sentences, you’re doing it right. If you’re at a conversational pace, you can up the intensity.

 

  • Time Work and Rest According to Ability – You’re putting through an intense amount of work in a short period of time, ya gotta rest to replenish! So how long do you rest? I’d say work for as long as you rest. An example would be work for thirty seconds then rest for thirty seconds. My sweet spot for these is forty five seconds. A period of time between thirty seconds to a minute is a good amount of time to start. Again, this is whatever you like! So think outside the box too. Twenty seconds of work and ten seconds rest is really good and tough! (aka tabata!) Try four times of work and four times of rest. Play around and see what you like.

If you’re doing lateral bounds for thirty seconds and feel tired, but not wiped you’re doing them right. Pair that with a thirty second rest and you should feel ready to tackle another hard thirty second bout again. Making the movement intense for that amount of time should leave you feeling fatigued but not so wiped you can’t continue. If you do get to that point of fatigue, instead of completely stopping, MODIFY! Remember my suggestions at the top? This is when you can use them! You still get benefits of the movements even with the modifications.

So behold, by plyometric workout below! I’ve added the plyo moves in between other moves like this one here, but doing them at the end when you’re tired is good too!

Plyometric Workout with Odd & Even Numbers

Format: Two times through each round, two times through with plyo moves*, sprint once after both rounds then rest after last round for one minute.

Lower Body = 15x, 20x; Odd Rep Plyo Moves*

-Squat Jumps

*9 burpees

-Sumo Squats

*7 burpees

-Reverse Lunges (15 and 20 reps both sides)

*5 burpees

-Wide/Narrow Squats

*3 burpees

~Sprint~

Upper Body= 15x, 12x; Even Rep Plyo Moves*

-Power Pushups

*10 lateral bounds (double count- left and right sides equal one rep)

-Lat Tap Pushups

*8 lateral bounds (double count)

-Tricep Pushups

*6 lateral bounds (double count)

-Standard Pushups

*4 lateral bounds (double count)

~Sprint~

Rest!

Push-Ups: Three New Variations & Why They’re Good For You

Push-Ups: Three New Variations & Why They’re Good For You

Cue the *UGH* when told to do push-ups. I did this before getting into fitness and cringed hardcore. I admit, I didn’t love doing them either because I felt WEAK. And who want’s to feel that way? It wasn’t until I told myself, “this is the sh*t that makes your stronger. Just do one at a time.” That’s when I forced myself to try. Now I LOVE (well, tolerate more like) push-ups because they do exactly what I want them to do, make me feel accomplished without overdoing or wearing myself out.

If you saw my post on my sandbag and stair workout, I did a similar workout, but changed it a bit and added push-ups for my upper body routine! I did two variations of push-ups: basic push-ups using the sandbag and lat tap push-ups. I didn’t do the bird-dog, but its another great addition, so I figured I’d add it here.

Having a sandbag with me was self-motivation for me to get LOW on the push-up. I made myself TOUCH the bag every. damn. time. OI! Not to mention, I am feeling it today! Two sets of twenty reps, forty total push-ups. Every time I do them I’m reminded how great they are. Even without a sandbag,  using a weight to touch or some kind of marker to get low are great self-motivators. During a personal training session, I hold my fist under my client’s chest and it works the same way. They aren’t a fan of it, but when they see their push-ups improving, they thank me.

Check out my Lat Tap push-ups on my Instagram! These I do on my knees because the focus for these is a little different. Although you do wanna get low to the floor, you want to touch your torso to the ground. Extend your arms in front and wide, tap the ground, bring hands to the sides of your armpits/shoulders, keep that core tight as you lift from the ground up. The lifting from the ground after tapping is the hardest part for me. I tend to bring up my chest first then my lower back follows. This is an indicator of a weak core/low back, as your torso should come up together. This push-up alone is another reason I do this! Making sure your keeping that core tight as well as using a mirror from the side is a good way to monitor your form. I hate admitting my weakness, but this is an obvious one to me and something I continually work on! Sometimes I have to cut my reps on these. Try doing five solid, quality lat taps with a straight back (as straight as possible) then rest.

Another good push-up variation I didn’t do in my workout, but is great for core stability and balance is the bird-dog pushup. Either on your knees or standard, perform a pushup, then extend your opposite leg to your opposite arm. For example, lift and extend your right leg and left arm. Repeat the push-up then extend your left leg and right arm. This one is SO good and incorporates balance and core that doesn’t always come with the other two.

Long story short: Push-ups are great because they have so much variety to them while gaining upper body strength without equipment. By far, my favorite upper body exercise to do with my HEAT class because NOTHING is needed and variety can be as complex or as simple as you want. Adding different componets like balance (bird-dog), core/lower back/lats (lat-tap), and the use of the sandbag to get lower (self-motivating), challenges all components, not to mention– a killer upper body workout!

Add them to your next workout the next time you’re low on equipment or you want to improve and challenge your upper body!

Join the conversation:

-How do you feel about push-ups?

-Any other good bodyweight upper body moves you do?

-How often to you strength train?

My Four Favorite Kettlebell Moves

My Four Favorite Kettlebell Moves

Hi fraaaands! Who likes kettlebells?  Anyone use them for a weight workout? Not sure what I’m talking about? No worries! These weights are great and will have you trying them in no time. I really enjoy them. I don’t use them all the time, but they are a great option for maximizing time in the gym because you can do a lot of really cool, functional moves with them. Just like a dumbbell, you use them for strength, but the way they’re designed is different then your traditional set of hand weights.

The options are endless, especially the different ways you can hold and move them. You increase calorie burn, challenge different muscles not using traditional weights, and maximize time in the gym…all which we can benefit from! Below I have my four favorite kettlebell moves. Add them to your next workout routine and cut your time in the gym in half!

1.) Kettlebell Swing– This one is great because it incorporates a swinging type motion, a unique aspect specific to the kettlebell. The root of this movement is a deadlift, a lower back and core type movement. Sticking your butt back and bringing the kettlebell to eye level works your core, especially your lower back! PS: I’m doing this in my featured pic 😉

2.) Reach, Twist, Pull/Press– I posted this on my Instagram as a video using the pull as an upright row. This is one is especially good since it incorporates THREE movements in one! YES!! A squat, the core, and a pull/press. I like to stay in the squat as I reach my opposite arm across to the weight on my opposite side. Make sure your arm is extended to the kettlebell then pull across and up (if pressing, pull up then press and flip overhead) keeping your elbow up high. Make sure you alternate sides!

3.) Squat Row– This is great because it forces you to get low in the squat, making sure that the kettlebell touches the floor! Since there’s more flexibility with this move, I find the pull part of the movement comes naturally. Starting with the kettlebell on the floor. Feet in a wide apart, toes pointed out. Putting both hands on top of the handle, squat down, and pull the kettlebell to your chin keeping your elbows up and high. Drop kettlebell to the floor and pull again. Feel free to add all kinds of upper body moves (or lower body moves) to further challenge yourself!

4.) Shoulder Stability Lunge/Squat– This one is pretty straight forward. Simply lunge/squat while keeping the weight, ball side up, as you lower yourself to the ground, then come back up. Make sure you watch your knee(s) as you lower see they don’t go past your toes. Isolating your shoulder and working the little muscles, such as the rotator cuff, to stabilize as you lower down is often ignored! If the kettlebell is too much with the grip, switch to a dumbbell and work up. This is particularly hard for me, so I go lighter over heavier here.

Add these moves a couple times a week into your strength routine to add that extra challenge! If you want to create a workout out of these four, I recommend 3 sets at 20 reps or 3 x 10/15 for each arm/leg when focusing on each side. Hope these moves help maximize your gym time like it did mine!

YOUR TURN:

-What’s your favorite piece of equipment in the gym?

-Do you find you prefer working one specific muscle group over another? Although I love a great leg day, my arch nemesis is upper body *UGH*

-What your thoughts on Kettlebells?

Beat Plateaus with Cardio Post Strength Training

Beat Plateaus with Cardio Post Strength Training

Good morning! We’re officially half way through the week…YES! If you need to freshen up your fitness routine, check out my new workout idea. I wish I had done this combination of cardio post strength day sooner, since it really is a great way to see how well you perform on tired legs (or just a tired total body) while torching extra calories.

Have you ever warmed up with some light cardio or gotten it done first, then hit the weights, and finished with a cool down? Nothing wrong with that! Pretty standard and it works. But if you always do it that way, plateau is likely to set in sooner than later. A plateau is a period of maintenance where there is no decline or progress of fitness. You maintain and that’s it. This can either be seen as good or bad depending on the person and their goals. This can happen to anyone, from the elite to the average joe.

As we improve and progress, we become more fit with a need to be more mindful of new challenges/ways to make us stronger and more fit. For someone who is very fit (think of someone working out six days a week) constantly changing the stimulus pretty often is necessary to reach goals, whatever those are. For someone new to exercise/never exercised before and needs to lose weight, they may see results with this standard routine for a bit. Eventually after keeping up with their exercise routine, they could plateau later and need to adjust. Different timelines and goals for different people!

For those of you not really in a plateau right now (or just are good with where you are now) but just wanna add variety, this is just as good for you too! Especially those of you not really into losing weight, but wanna up your running game and have a race coming up. I tried this concept to switch up my running most of all: Running AFTER strength training! WHAT WHAT! yeah, it’s hard AF. But its great and really gets your body working. Running tired especially after a leg heavy strength day last Thursday was not really on my agenda, but I felt great so I figured why not. Although five miles was not on my list either, I really did enjoy that different kind of push. The first one to two miles were tough, then my legs kinda figured it out. The last mile was definitely tough though *insert fire and explosion emoijis.* I kinda wish I had done this more during my marathon training #MyOneRegret, but know I know for next one! 😉

If running five miles post strength seems to far too soon, stick to one to three miles and keep in tough or just above a conversational pace. See my post on pace runs to add the idea of an intense and short amount of cardio. I took it slower, and still felt I got a challenge out of it. If your legs feel like they’re gonna fall off, you’re doing it right! The point is keeping the cardio for after the weights, so regardless how fast or far you’re going, you can keep it easy or tough and still get benefits from it.

All ya gotta do is tack on the cardio at the end of your strength routine (whatever that is for you) and BOOM you will feel a huge difference! Even if running isn’t your thing, a bike ride, elliptical, walk, etc. works too! Keeping the heart rate going post weights is key!

YOUR TURN:

-Any new workout routines you’ve tried recently?

-What is your preferred form of cardio?

Train Smarter, Not Harder: My Compound Movement Workout

Train Smarter, Not Harder: My Compound Movement Workout

Happy Monday!! I’ve been trying a couple things for my workouts on my own and with my classes and decided this past week (and with my sandbag workout) to switch it up. I added combined movements together, using more total body, all in one exercise. Before I would isolate just legs, back, abs, etc. While that is good too, I would spend A LOT of time–sometimes two hours on a workout. As of a couple weeks ago, I decided to ditch that idea and decided to train smarter, not harder. I took basic movements like a push-up and added to them. In a recent Instagram post, I posted about my double plank push-up. It’s nuts, one small change, and the movement is completely different!! Each of the movements incorporates total body, so there’s no need to do extra sets of anything at the end. I was wiped by the end and sore the next couple days!

This workout took me about 40-45 min. Back to back each set. Rest once completed all sets. All you’ll need is:

  • Mat
  • Weight/plate
  • Weight/kettlebell 

Compound Movement Workout

Overhead Walking Lunges with Plate; Holding a plate over your head, lunge forward on leg at a time to one end of a room, switch legs coming back) 3x both ways

Kettlebell Squat + Row+ Press–in that order! Using a kettlebell, make sure you use one arm at a time squatting to reach opposite arm to opposite foot, rowing to your shoulder, ending with pressing weight overhead; 3x 15 both arms

Double Plank Push-Up; Starting on forearms in a plank position, use one arm at a time to push yourself into a high plank. Add pushup then lower down to forearms alternating sides. 3x 15 (alternating 5 reps each arm until you get to 15)

Plank Row on Cable; Using the cable machines, make sure pulleys are placed low to the ground. In a high plank position, grab pulley with one hand and row forward stabilizing though the core. I needed a wide base with my feet for balance here. For more of a challenge, bring feet narrow. 3x 15 each arm.

YOUR TURN:

-Any movement you’ve tried with an extra challenge that you found to be tougher or easier then you thought? What did you do?

-Do you prefer bodyweight workouts, heavy weights, or both?

-Do you find yourself taking time to learn new ways to incorporate weights or you get in, do what you do, and leave?