Be Well: Bent Over Row

This is probably the easiest exercise I will ever feature on my blog. I've been a little dissatisfied with the state of my triceps for the past few months, so I've been on the lookout for simple yet effective workouts to get them back to the toned state they once were in! (Side note: one of the major obstacles to getting my toned triceps back is my tendency to make bad snacking decision, such as pounding down a couple handfuls of M&Ms while writing this post...please don't judge me.)

Anyway, I love the bent over row because it's great for isolating your triceps and it can be done with a barbell or with free weights. The thing that is key (KEY!) to this workout is keeping your back FLAT - not rounded, not arched. All effort should be concentrated in your arms. Your back should not be strained at all. If you need to stand at a 90-degree angle from a mirror so you can observe the angle of your back, do that.

Additionally, you need to choose a heavy weight. If you (or I) want results, your (or my) triceps should be burning at the end of this exercise. Your triceps are surprisingly strong, so I would suggest using a 30 lb. barbell or 15 lb. free weights at the very minimum.

Start with your back flat, bent ~ 45 degrees at your waist, feet hip distance apart. Slowly raise the barbell up towards your chest, sending your elbows straight back. Your movement should be slow - if you try to do this quickly you will lose your form and compromise your workout.

At the top of the motion, the bar should be pressed into your chest and your elbows should be pointing to the back of the room.

Slowly lower the weight back down. It's important to keep in mind that the lowering of the weight is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the raising of the weight. Shortchange the lowering part and you're making your workout half as effective.

I recommend three sets of 15-20 reps. I'm definitely going to be including bent over rows in my upcoming workouts - I hope you are too!

Be Well: Squats

Squats are such a staple exercise, and yet I've noticed that many girls tend to shy away from them due to unfamiliarity with the equipment and technique. I've put together a short tutorial below to start to combat that unfamiliarity - I hope it's helpful!

Start with your weight across your back, feet shoulder-width apart.

Slowly send your hips back while you concentrate your weight in your heels and pull your toes up towards your shins. This will help you keep your knees from going too far over your ankles, which can cause injury. Additionally, keep your back flat.

Keep squatting until your upper legs are near a 90 degree angle with your lower legs.

Once you've gotten to 90 degrees, slowly rise back up. Repeat 15-20 times, rest for a minute, and then do another set.

Also of major importance - the weight of your bar. I used a 20 lb. body bar for this demonstration because that was what was available in the part of the gym where I could non-awkwardly take pictures, but I usually do squats with at least a 40 lb. bar. To be honest, I should really be squatting much more than that - you will be amazed by how naturally strong your legs are, and you should be trying to challenge them even more with this exercise.

I was in a doctor's office yesterday, and the magazine in the rack in front of me was Health. I couldn't help but notice that every single thing printed on the cover promised that you could be thinner, happier, healthier, more flexible, etc. - all in very little time with very little effort. I want to be honest here in this blog - that is just not how life works. Getting healthy, fit, and strong requires time and dedication. Much more time and dedication, in fact, than I have been putting into my own life. So let's work on this together, shall we? Let's set realistic expectations and realistic goals, and hopefully that will end up with all of us being happy with who you are while we reside in this thing called reality. My goal for tomorrow: eat lunch with my friends. It's unrealistic to expect them to always be there for you if you ignore them for weeks on end, even when you have a good excuse.

Good luck with your Wednesday goals!