4 Exercises to Target Your Lower Abs

You can keep your abs toned through the holidays with this in-home routine.  If you hate going out in the cold, then this routine will be perfect for you.

Tightening up those pesky lower abs is challenging.  Most of the exercises that target that region involve using the hip flexors, so if they are weak then you may not feel the movement.

Engaging the transverse abdominal muscles that will tighten up your core. To hit this area I’ve put together some unconventional exercises that all build upon a plank.

You will need:

  • 2 hand towels
  • mat
  • smooth surface
  • a rock solid focus

*Make sure you can master a standard plank hold before you progress to these exercises.

Plank Row

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Get into plank position with your towels under your feet.  (The naval is pulled toward the spine and your body is streamlined.) Push yourself back as far as you can while you are pressing into the towels.  Then pull your body back to the starting position.  It’s a small movement.  Keep your body tight and straight the entire time.  Perform 8-12 reps or go for 30 seconds.

Bear

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Get into a push up position with arms extended and hands under your shoulders.  Press down into your towels and pull your feet toward you.  Then, push back to the starting position.  This can also be done by bending your knees and pulling them toward your chest.  Perform 8-12 reps or go for 30+seconds.

Mountain Climber

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Holding the extended plank position, pull your right knee in toward your chest then press back while pulling your left leg in toward your chest.  Perform 16-20 reps (right & left leg is a full rep) or go for 30+ seconds.

Army Crawl

*video on Facebook page, click icon @ http://www.totalbodyandmind.net*

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Get into plank position and tighten up your abs and butt.  Crawl forward on your forearms until you hit the edge of your mat, then crawl back.  4-8 reps (one forward and back is a full rep).

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Bodyweight HIIT Cardio Intervals

Want to get in a quality cardio session without spending 45 minutes to and hour on a treadmill?  You can optimize your time and get better results with this 20-minute high-intensity interval workout.   This fat burning cardio session will tone your entire body and leave you feeling energized!  You can do this in your office, home or in the gym.

What you need:

  1. a couple of hand towels
  2. a mat
  3. a stopwatch or tabata timer
  4. your willingness to give your best effort.  You can do this workout in your office, home, outside or in the gym.

The Plan:

  • Get a stopwatch or download an interval/tabata timer on your phone.  There are many free apps available that are good.
  • You will exercise for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times.
  • Perform circuit 1 rest 1 minute, move into circuit 2 and then repeat the whole sequence again.  At the end of the workout, you will have done each circuit 2 times.

This will make better sense once you get into the workout. Be warned, it starts off feeling easy but the short rest breaks will challenge you!

Start with a 5-10 minute warm-up to make sure your muscles are loose and you are mentally focused.

Let’s get started! (photos of the exercises below the workout)

Circuit 1
1) Low Jacks:  20 seconds/rest 10 seconds
2) Plank Jacks: 20 seconds/rest 10 seconds
3) Squat Jumps: 20 seconds/rest 10 seconds
4) Push-up to knee tucks: 20 seconds/rest 10 seconds

-repeat circuit 1 again until you’ve completed 8 cycles which will take you exactly 4 minutes.

After the 4 minute circuit, rest 1 minute then move on to the next circuit.

Circuit 2 (follow the 20 on/10 off sequence)
1) Burpees
2) Army Crawls
3) Side to side jump squats
4) Squat thrusts

-repeat circuit 2 again until you’ve completed 8 cycles which will take you exactly 4 minutes.

After the 4 minute circuit, rest 1 minute then repeat the entire workout again.

Circuit 1:

low jacks– stay low the entire time.

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Plank jacks– in a push-up position, jump your legs out wide and together.

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Squat Jumps– no photo for this one, just squat and jump as high as you can.

Push-up to knee tuck– put a wash cloth under each foot.  Using your abs, pull your knees into your chest and the push them back.

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Circuit 2

Burpees– no photos for this one either.  You will squat, jump your feet back to push up position, jump your feet back in and immediately do a squat jump.

Army crawls– on your forearms and toes, keep your hips steady as possible as your crawl forward to the end of your mat and then crawl backward.

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Side to side jump squats– roll your mat up or pick a spot to tap down with your hands.  Squat to one side, bring your feet together in the center and jump out to the other side.  You want this to be fast and fluid.

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Squat thrusts– squat down, jump your feet back, back in and stand.

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Candy Crusher Halloween Workout

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Did you eat too much candy this weekend?  Let’s crush those calories and have fun doing it!

 

 

 

This is a Halloween-themed workout I put together for my morning bootcamp class.  It is a total body workout that will burn some serious calories!

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Repeat each circuit three times.

Exercise descriptions provided at the bottom of the blog.

Circuit 1

  • Run a couple of laps or run for 2 minutes at a fast pace.
  • Next, take it into the BOOty blast exercises.  Perform each exercise for 45 sec.

Circuit 2

  • Thriller shuffle reaction drill– Get into a squat position (pretend like you are playing defense in a basketball game).  For 45 seconds randomly shuffle right to left.  If you have a partner, have them randomly call out ‘right’ or ‘left’ commands.
  • Killer arm exercises.  Perform each exercise for 45 sec.

Circuit 3

Exercise descriptions:

Wall squat– Stand with your back against a wall, placing your feet about two feet out in front of you. Feet should be hip-distance apart. Bending your knees, slide your back down the wall until your knees are at 90 degree angles. Adjust your body position so that your knee joints don’t go over your ankle joints.

Sumo pulse– Get into a wide stance toes slightly turned out and squat low.  Stay at the bottom end of the movement as you do tiny pulses.

Bridges– Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips of the floor so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause at the top then slowly lower your body back to the floor.

Spider pushups– Place your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders and get into a push-up position.
Move your left hand forward and bend your elbow while simultaneously stepping forward with your left foot and draw your knee to the elbow.

Bicep curl to an Arnold press– http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/arnold-dumbbell-press

Witches cauldron– Perform a plank with your arms on a stability ball.  Make tiny circles toward the right for 10 seconds then repeat on the left.

Reverse crunch with medicine ball– Place a medicine ball or towel between your knees.  Pull your knees in toward your chest and do a small hip lift.

Scissors–  Lying on your back with your legs extended off the floor, alternate crossing your legs.

Wall sit twist- Get into your wall squat position with a medicine ball.  Alternate tapping the medicine ball to the right and left.

 

The Muscle You Must Work To Break Through Plateaus

Working out is easy, eating healthy is tough but it’s the mind that is the hardest to train.  You can get on the Elliptical for an hour and lift weights five days a week but if you don’t get a grip on your mental fitness you will struggle every inch of the way to reach your goals.

Here are the things I’ve learned from my own life and in observing my clients that might help you conquer the mental game.

  1. Make peace with failure.  I’ve competed in about five bodybuilding competitions and never won first place.  I’ve done duathlons and powerlifting competitions where I’ve won some and lost many.

383850_243108732428192_399410553_nMy first duathlon I rode the entire race with the front brake on.  Talk about feeling like a novice!  The whole race I was so confused why everyone was passing me;) LOL  I learned from that experience and never repeated that again!

If you’re new to the gym or trying a new sport, don’t expect yourself to be an expert overnight.  Give yourself time to learn, consider getting a coach or personal trainer and don’t be afraid to fail.

2.  Your mind quits long before your body does.

This was something my triathlon coach would often say to our team during training.  He would usually say this when we were all dog tired and he would challenge us to pick up our pace.  He was right, I found that my body could go harder.  His influence helped me reach another fitness level, become a better athlete and personal trainer.

img_3708This is one of my client’s who came to me with goals that she wanted to accomplish. I would be doing her a disservice if I didn’t challenge her to push past her comfort zones.  We are always able to laugh, but we mean business;)

There is going to be discomfort, the mind will scream ‘STOP!  That’s enough!’  There can be no change if there is no challenge.

Hire a personal trainer, get a workout partner or join a fitness group that will call your bluff. Think about it – your last workout did you give yourself an out to stop?  A good personal trainer will know when you can do more and push you to achieve your best.

  • What helps me to always give my personal best is to ask myself, “can I go one more minute?  Can I do two more reps?”
  • If you’ve been doing the same 3 sets of 12 for months, make it 4 sets of 12.  If you’ve been running at the same pace on the treadmill, increase your pace or add more of an incline.

3.  When your focus stops your power stops.  The past few months my mental motivation has been slipping and I’ve had a harder time getting to the gym.  I’m realizing that because I’m always multitasking I’m mentally exhausted.

There is value in focusing on one thing at a time.  Focusing the mind helps you be more at ease in the present in the moment.  Focused attention slows the clock down and makes life more full.  My personal goal is to focus in on one task to help me regain my mojo and bust through my mental blocks.

Feel free to comment what ideas you will try.  Remember….b1ckhfziaaakezz

 

 

 

Beginner Gym Workout

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If you have made a decision to get in shape and have recently joined a gym, congratulations!  In case you’re feeling intimidated by all the equipment and the anxiety that everyone will be staring at you, relax.  You don’t have to be an expert.

First off, most people are there to better themselves, and they are glad to see you in there working on your physical fitness.  Secondly, the gym is full of people of all shapes and sizes so don’t feel like you have to be in shape before you can go to a gym.

Let’s get you going with a workout guide and plan to help make your gym time a more positive experience.

Getting Started

  1. Most of the exercises in this program are on machines.   Machines, for the most part, help you maintain good form and this helps you to keep your focus on the body part you are working.
  2. Perform 1-2 sets of 12 repetitions.  A set is when you complete your designated repetitions.  Rest 30sec. to 1 minute if you are going to do a second set.
  3. Tips for setting a weight:  Select a weight that will make you have to work really hard for the last two reps.  You shouldn’t be able to do 15 reps and if you can, the next time you perform the exercise, increase your weight.
  4. Take one day of rest between each of your total body workouts sessions.  On those off days you can do cardio but always listen to your body.

This total body workout includes machine-based exercises and will take you 20 minutes or less.

Warm up for 5 minutes.

If you choose to use the treadmill be sure to adjust the incline to a 2 incline.  This simulates walking outdoors and gives you some ‘ground’ under your feet.

Leg Press- 2 sets of 12 reps (rest 30 sec.-1 min)

Position your feet shoulder width apart in the middle of the platform.  My feet a bit lower on the platform because I’m a shorty and if I put them higher I would not have much range of motion on the exercise;)  lol  💡Extend your legs completely but don’t lock out the knees.

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Chest Fly- 2 sets of 12 reps (rest 30 sec.-1 min)

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On a lot of chest fly machines, you can adjust the range of motion.  Look at the top and you will see holes like this one for both arms on the machine:

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Set it to where you feel a gentle stretch when seated. 💡Bring the arms together like you are hugging a tree.

Lat Pulldown- 2 sets of 12 reps (rest 30 sec.-1 min)

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Grip the bar where the indentations are or just slightly outside of the curves in the bar.  Set the pad on top of your knees. 💡Lean back about 10 degrees and pull the bar to your upper chest.

Rear Fly- 2 sets of 12 reps (rest 30 sec.-1 min)

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The rear fly machine is the same machine in my gym as the chest fly.  By adjusting the arms of the machine to be completely closed, it becomes the rear fly.  Sit facing INTO the machine.  Grab the handles so that your palms face down.  Pull back until your arms make a ‘T”, hold for a brief second, then control the arms coming back to start.💡You might sense your shoulders creeping up to your ears.  Mentally focus on keeping your shoulders down and neck relaxed.

Tricep Pushdowns- 2 sets of 12 reps (rest 30 sec.-1 min)

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Adjust the cable to a high setting and attach a rope.  Bend at your elbow and then extend down.  Pause to squeeze the back of the arm.

Bicep Curls- 2 sets of 12 reps (rest 30 sec.-1 min)

Lower the cable to the bottom and attach a straight bar to the hook.

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Bring the bar just in front of your shoulder and extend all the way down.💡Keep your abs and lower back tight while you pull equally with both arms.  In other words, don’t swing:)

Ab machine- 2 sets of 12 reps (rest 30 sec.-1 min)

In most gyms you will find some type of ab machine or two.  This is the one we have in our gym.

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Adjust the seat to accommodate your height and allow you good range of motion. 💡Exhale as you crunch forward to deepen the contraction.

 

 

 

 

Are You Ready For A Miracle?

This Summer I took an Insanity Live training class, and I was so inspired by the positive energy of my instructor that I wanted to share her story with you.  Erin Scott’s journey with weight loss offers hope that no matter how bleak it seems, it’s possible to change the entire trajectory of your life.

About 8 years ago Erin was depressed, well over 200 lbs, in one toxic relationship after another and in crippling debt.  In order to make ends meet and keep up with student loans she was working as a research associate, and also had two part-time jobs: scooping ice cream and serving coffee and the other waiting tables at an Italian brick-oven pizza restaurant.

The stress of that life was taking a toll on her and food became her comfort.  Life was spiraling out of control until something magical happened…

One day when she was gorging on a cheese calzone and sprawled out on her living room’s pull-out couch, a Turbo Jam infomercial for a home workout came on the TV.  In that moment desperation and opportunity met.  The fog lifted and clarity took center stage.

before_01162012 Erin knew she needed to change the path she was on.  She explained, “I was ashamed to step foot in a gym to make the change I knew I desperately needed.  As I was wiping cheese grease off of my face I heard the infomercial  voice over say, “never do a crunch on the floor again,” and that right there sealed the deal for me!  LOL!”  She went on to say that she couldn’t afford it, but she took a leap of faith.  That’s where the magic happened.

It doesn’t matter if you are broke, busted and disgusted, Providence does not discriminate.  When your opportunity clock goes off and you respond with action something miraculous is going to happen.

Erin’s weight loss journey started with working out in her living room.

She didn’t respond with excuses, instead, she seized her opportunity to transform herself.  Along with doing the Beachbody home workouts, Erin also followed their nutrition program and lost 50 pounds. “That was just the start,” she said. “I gained so much more confidence in myself. I was able to come off of my anti-depressant medication, and I began to eliminate those toxic relationships in my life. I began to see light again, after being in such a dark place for a long time.”

I regained my sense of self-worth. I’m in the best shape of my life.

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Erin’s weight loss journey helped bring her life’s purpose into focus.  She realized that she wanted to share her passion for health and fitness.  After going through all of her struggles and coming out on the other side, it’s her desire to inspire others to reach their potential.

These days Erin is loving life and she attributes who she has become to her faith in God.
966815_10151832823437895_242294320_oErin’s advice if you’re stuck in a rut, unhappy with your career, love life, and body:

  1. Be honest with yourself about what you want. What do you REALLY want?
  2. Pray.  It’s easy to get so stuck in our own heads and it serves us well to talk to God openly and with as much vulnerability as possible. In that process, you might start to see options that you hadn’t considered before.
  3. If prayer is not your jam then seek out wise counsel from knowledgeable people who can point you in the right direction.
  4. Be humble.  Trying to figure it all out on your own seems like the easiest way. It’s not. It can actually be the most difficult–and it’s a more prideful way. Take a step back & work with someone you like and trust to guide you and have enough belief in yourself to see it through.

Erin is a fitness educator, Team Beachbody Master Trainer, coach, group fitness instructor, and owner of SillyFit Inc.  Read mor1609944_10152130998347895_3618979090057837505_ne information about Erin @ http://sillyfit.com

Pool Workout: Stay Cool While Torching Calories

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I don’t mind the Summer heat until I try to get in an outdoor workout.  The salty sweat getting in my eyes and humidity zapping my ‘umph’ has me settling for indoor cardio.  After weeks of staring at the time on the stairmaster, I’m ready for another solution.

I designed this water workout to burn tons of calories and feel like play. This is my solution to stay cool while being out in the open skies.

What you need:

kickboard
towel
Motown music (my favorite for this workout)

Circuit 1: repeat 3 times

(if you have a small pool select the time option instead of laps)

  1. Free Style Swim:  6 laps or swim for 4 minutes non-stop
  2. Water Jog:  2 laps or 2 minute
  3. Flutter kicks: 2 laps or 1 minute
  4. Push up on wall:  10-15 reps

Water Jog:  

Jog around the sides of the pool.  When you get to the deep end, tread water and keep going!

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Flutter Kicks

Using your kickboard, keep your legs straight and kick with force.

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Wall Push Up

Use your upper body to lift yourself up out of the water with just a small amount of help from your legs.  Slowly lower yourself down.

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Circuit 2:  repeat 3 times

  1. Ab crunch:  10-15 reps
  2. Double leg lift:  10-15 reps
  3. Tread water:  1 minute
  4. Otter Roll:  30 seconds

Ab Crunch

I like to put my leg on my towel so they don’t get scratched.  It’s not a big movement unless you choose to go underwater with it;)

Here are a few modifications to choose from:

option 1

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option 2

*arms in front

*OR arms in front, hold your nose and go under

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Double Leg Lifts

This is challenging for the abs because you are getting resistance from the water.

A modification is to alternate leg lifts.

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Treading Water

Vigorously treading water can torch around 10 calories a minute, same as a six-mile-per-hour run.

Pretend like you are running.  Use your upper body to help you stay afloat and make circular motions with your legs.

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Otter Roll

Hugging a kickboard or a beach ball to chest, float on back, legs extended, feet together.
Roll toward the right by using the entire body — shoulders, hips, core, legs —to rock from side to side with head above water.  (like an otter spinning in the water)
Continue for 30 seconds, alternating direction of roll.

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I’m still working on perfecting this move;)  It definitely got my heart rate up and I felt my abs!

You’re breaking a sweat even though you might not realize it so make sure to drink water. Have fun torching those calories!