Be Well: Full Workout #5

You know I love weighted workouts. You know that I recommend incorporating weights into your workouts whenever possible. However, there are some occasions where using weights just isn't feasible. For example, I often like to go on runs around my neighborhood on weekends. While it would be great to do a few strengthening exercises after my run, I don't have gym equipment available at my apartment. So, I turn to body weight exercises like the ones below. Follow this workout after running around a neighborhood track or swimming in the pool in your backyard. It always helps to add just a little more bang to your fitness buck!

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Do 20 reps of each exercise below in order, with no breaks between exercises. Repeat once.

Lunges (non-weighted)

Bicycle Crunches

Walk Out to Pushup with Twist

Bicycle Crunches

Burpees

Bicycle Crunches

Tricep Dips (if a surface of an appropriate height isn't available, get in a "crab" position and do tricep dips that way)

Bicycle Crunches

Repeat

DSC_6251Oh man friends, yesterday was a rough day. Rough. Day. The good thing is that it's highly unlikely that today will be worse, and highly likely that today will be a great day (especially by comparison). And yesterday, on my roughest day in awhile, my life was still just a really good life. When I was driving my husband to work this morning, he told me he had spent some time that morning reflecting on the fact that we occupy such a fortunate place in an already fortunate country - can you even fathom how small the odds are that we've gotten to live this blessed, blessed life when so many people encounter real, painful need in their everyday lives? I can't. So no more whining about days being rough for me - life is good, food is plentiful, friends are many, and happy moments abound. I hope you're feeling similarly today.

Have a great Wednesday.

Be Well: Full Workout #4

DSC_5552Since I've spent the last week and a half being inducted into the CrossFit world, I figured it was only appropriate for me to bring you a CrossFit-inspired workout this morning. Many CrossFit workouts feature two or three exercises performed in a repeating circuit for time. While bicycle crunches and tricep dips aren't necessarily a main part of the CrossFit repertoire, the workout I've laid out below should make you feel very accomplished (and sweaty!) by the time that you're done.

Do five rounds for time of:

15 reps deadlift

20 reps bicycle crunches

15 reps tricep dips

DSC_4332Deadlifts - I know I say this all the time, but it is essential that you use a heavy bar for this exercise. The bar I have in the top picture is not heavy enough. For reference, I recently did a workout in which I deadlifted 95 lbs. in sets of five reps for seven rounds. You can do at least half of that. Give it a shot, focus on keeping good form, and you won't regret it!

Bicycle crunches - this workout is for time, meaning that you should be doing all of the exercises quickly. However, you need to be especially careful that speeding up your bicycle crunches doesn't destroy your good form, which is a frequent occurrence in ab exercises. One rep is turning to the right once and the left once. You should be counting "left, right - 1." "Left, right - 2." Hopefully that makes sense. Do not let your legs start to flail or your elbows start collapsing in around your head. If that happens, slow down - doing these crunches slowly with good form will be far better for you than doing them quickly with bad form.

Tricep dips - you guys can do these no problem. Again, don't get tired and let your technique slip! You're better than that.

As always, remember to jog or bike or a few minutes in order to warm up. And don't forget to stretch!

DSC_1996Guys, it's starting to feel like it just isn't my week. Yesterday morning a light came in on my car warning of an exhaust system malfunction - just what you want to hear when you're about to go get some cavities filled! So I will likely be spending a sizable portion of today bringing my car into the auto repair shop and trying not to have a heart attack when they tell me how much it will cost to fix. I did, however, get my car stereo replaced yesterday, which was probably the most exciting thing to happen to me this week. I can now use my iPhone to play music (and podcasts, and driving directions) through my car stereo. And yes, it does feel nice to have finally entered the 2010s. Things are fancy here.

Be Well: The Time Tradeoff

I found myself in a situation yesterday morning where I had an awkward 10-15 minutes for weight training after finishing a cardio workout. I had decided to do a 30-minute sprint running workout that morning, but in the workout planning stages I just didn't put much thought into what I would do for weights afterwards (I know - what's wrong with me?!). When I got off the treadmill with only 15 minutes or so to go before I needed to head to the locker room, I ended up spending a bunch of time vacillating between various weightlifting options. I couldn't decide what would get me the most bang for my buck (er, minute), so I ended up wasting my minutes instead. No bueno.

So, I came home tonight, flipped through the exercises I have featured on this blog so far, and came up with three that give you a great all-around workout when you only have a little bit of time. Really, spending 15 minutes doing any kind of weightlifting at all is far better than dedicating those 15 minutes to "stretching" and "abs" AKA laying on your back on a mat feeling lazy. But since you've already decided to spend those 15 minutes weightlifting, you might as well have some direction!

Major disclaimer: I am not suggesting that you plan all of your workouts where weight training is a 10-minute afterthought. Instead, on the days where you've decided to do a "cardio day" but still have time for weights (you always want to maximize your time in the gym - you're already there, might as well make it worth it!), you should turn to these exercises for a more well-rounded gym experience. Weightlifting-focused days should definitely be a part of your fitness routine!

Now, the exercises!DSC_5558

1) Deadlifts. I can't say enough good things about how wonderful deadlifts are. They're great for your legs and you won't be panting afterwards, so you can move right into your next exercise. Win-win. DSC_2016

2) Tricep dips. You can do these straight from doing deadlifts, so you can get in a great leg and arm workout. Plus, tricep dips do a great job working the entire arm (with very little necessary equipment) so it's easy to incorporate them quickly into a workout.DSC_0742_2

3) Kettlebell swings. If you're only doing one weights exercise, do kettlebell swings. They get your heart rate up AND provide a great lifting workout for your arms and your legs. Win-win-win.

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So, I realize I am the ditziest blogger ever and, after entitling yesterday's post "Mystery Date," totally forgot to fill you guys in on the answer to the mystery. The mystery location: Benu! It was fancy and filling and amazing and just an all-around wonderful outing. Sorry about being so mysterious :)

Be Well: Lateral Arm Raise With Rotation

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Just a quick, easy arm and back exercise for you today. When you maintain proper posture, this should give the tops of your arms, your sides, and your lat muscles a great little workout.

This is one exercise where I will suggest that you not go overboard on weight. 8-10 lbs. is the sweet spot in this exercise. But be sure to stay in that sweet spot - 5 lbs. or less is much too light.

Start with your arms at your sides, standing up straight, with hips tucked under you, feet hip-width distance apart, and abs tight.

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Slowly raise your weights up in the same plane as your body. Be sure to make your arms and side muscles do the lifting. If you are hunching or arching your back, you're doing it wrong! DSC_2038

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After you hit a T position, start bringing your arms around to the front while keeping them straight. Remember to keep standing up straight - do not round out your back. The effort should still be centered in the tops of your arms. DSC_2025

DSC_2043Keep bringing arms toward the front until your hands are shoulder width apart in line with your shoulders.

At this point, you have two options:

Option 1: Lower your arms towards your lap. On the next rep, keep your arms at the front of your body and close together and lift up and towards the front first, and then repeat the above exercise in reverse - rotate arms out until you're in the T position and then lower your arms towards your sides. Repeat the exercise 10 times, alternating between lifting from your sides on the first rep, and then lifting from your lap on the second.

Option 2: Once your hands meet in front of you, immediately rotate them back out towards your T position, reversing the workout as depicted above. Repeat 10 times for one set.

In either case, try to get in at least three sets of 10 reps.

Although I still have so much to do before leaving for Texas on Thursday afternoon (!!!), last night I decided to skip out on my chores and instead allowed myself the little luxury of going to get my nails done. And the luxury (laziness?) didn't stop there - I then went home, ordered sushi for delivery, and sat around watching Chopped. My to-do list didn't get any shorter, but I can't really say that I regret the way I chose to spend last night - sometimes, one night of relaxation is exactly what you need.