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: Lunges

DSC_2146_2No one likes lunges. It's a fact of life. Just like burpees, lunges were used as a form of punishment when I was in high school, and I've had a bad association with them ever since. However, as my dedication to exercise and strength training has increased, so has my appreciation for the power of lunges. Although they are no fun, they are a great workout for your legs, and they're easy to pair with arm exercises in order to craft a great full-body workout. See below for a demonstration of two of those arm exercises. But first, here's Lunges 101 for those of you still struggling with form:

As with almost all exercises, start in a normal, comfortable, standing position. When I do lunges, I almost always try to add weight (ups the difficulty [and calorie burn] on everything!). There are two ways you can add weight: first, by holding dumbbells in your hands (what I am demonstrating here, which is an easy segue into a few arm exercises) OR by placing a weighted bar across your back like you would when doing squats. Your workout, your decision. DSC_2104_2

Step forward with one of your legs, keeping your arms at your side. Make sure you step pretty far forward so that bending at the knees isn't uncomfortable a few seconds from now. Try to keep good posture, with your back straight and shoulders back.

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Sink down into the lunge while you continue to keep good posture. Your front knee should be directly over your front ankle (absolutely NO pushing your knee past your ankle - you will really hurt your knees) and your front thigh should be parallel to the ground. You have to dip down pretty low to get your thigh to that level - don't cheat it! See below for a closeup:

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Now step back and repeat on the other leg. If you're using heavy weights, do three sets of 10 reps per leg for a great lower body workout.

Now, let's take it up a notch by adding arms. The first option is a simple bicep curl when you're in between lunges. It goes a little like this:

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As you rise up out of the lunge, step your feet back together, keep your back straight, shoulders back, and abs tight, and do a normal bicep curl:DSC_2140_2

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Continue doing a bicep curl in between each lunge in your set. You legs AND your arms should be burning by the end (don't forget that heavy weight)!

Second arms option: the overhead press.

Start with a single dumbbell cupped in your hands under your chin, with elbows at your side: DSC_2201_2

As you lunge forward, slowly push the dumbbell up and towards the ceiling:

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Make sure to maintain good posture throughout the motion. Do not arch your back. The effort should be concentrated in your arms, shoulders, and abs, NOT your lower back. DSC_2178_2

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End with your front knee directly over your front ankle, just like in a regular lunge, with your arms extended all the way to the ceiling.

DSC_2207_2Repeat, pressing the dumbbell overhead during each lunge in your set.

Yesterday was a big day for me on the fitness front - I cancelled the gym membership that I've had for the past year and a half (the gym I currently go to is in no way convenient to my new office) and I signed up for the introductory program at a local CrossFit gym! I'll be spending Monday, Wednesday, Friday of the next two weeks learning how to do Olympic lifts, jumping on boxes, climbing ropes, and doing all the other crazy things CrossFitters do for exercise. I have no idea if I'll love it or hate it, but I'm excited to shake up my workout routine by trying something new!

Whether your workout routine is feeling new or old, I hope you'll spend some time today lifting heavy weights. Do yourself (and your skeleton) a favor! And have a wonderful day.

Be Well: One-Leg Deadlift to Row

This week I'm excited to continue my streak of combining exercise concepts that we've already discussed. This week, we're combining deadlifts and rows. This is one of my absolute favorite exercises - I love how it works your whole body while making you feel like a ballerina as you focus on your leg extension and balance. I can't recommend it enough!

(Also, please disregard the torture-chamber looking pilates machine next to me. Photogenic space was limited!)

DSC_6329Start with weight shifted to one foot, holding relatively heavy weights (I suggest 15 lb. dumbells and wouldn't do smaller than 12 lb. ones).

DSC_6326Start to hinge forward, keeping your standing leg slightly bent. Send weights towards the ground as you send your elevated foot towards the wall behind you.

DSC_6318Pause with arms extended to the floor, leg extended to the back of the room, and body and leg parallel to the floor. DSC_6321Pull your elbows up to the ceiling while maintaining your position parallel to the floor. Try to pull your elbows up past your body. DSC_6323Drop your arms back down as you begin to drop your foot.DSC_6314End in the same position you started in. Repeat on one side for one minute then switch to the other side.

This week is turning into a pretty good week for me - I'm getting back into the workout groove, I won a cool handheld receiver in Jacey's giveaway today, and my sister comes to visit on Friday! I hope your week is going well!