The Do-Anywhere Workout

kickboxing-punch-girl-smaller

 

Going on vacation?  Bring this workout with you.  It can be hard to squeeze in exercise when you’re out of town, but this one is short, intense, and to the point.

You can do it pretty much anywhere–Just grab your beach towel and you’re good to go!  It’s cardio and strength rolled up into one workout, targeting your whole body while simultaneously getting the heart pumping.  Do 8-20 reps of each, depending on your fitness level, and repeat the circuit for a total of 2-3 times through.  Don’t forget to spend a few minutes warming up/cooling down.

Focus on maintenance while on vacation, trying for at least three short workouts within the span of a week (if you can do more, all the better!).  This may include a beachside jog, a visit to your hotel’s fitness center, or an intense 20-45 minute circuit workout like this one.

 

 

Burpees

With your feet together, squat down and put your hands on the ground just in front of your feet. Keep your feet together and jump them back so you land in a push-up. Bend your arms and do a single push-up. Jump your feet back in and under your body and then leap up and into the air. Land on slightly-bent legs and repeat. (modifications–No push-up, no jump)

 

burpee

 

 

 

Floor Dips

Sit on the floor with your knees bent, one foot raised, hands on the floor behind you with fingers pointing toward body. To begin, lift hips off floor.  Slowly and gently bend your elbows and lower your body close to the floor. Keep abdominal muscles tight. Extend arms through the elbows and repeat.

 

floor-dips

 

 

High Knees

:30 to :60, at a moderately high/high intensity

Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and quickly place it back on the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can.

 

high knees

 

 

Lunge Twists

Hold the ends of your towel.  Lunge forward and rotate your torso in the same direction as your front leg lifting your arms diagonally above your head, then stand and return to center. Perform reps, then repeat on other side.

 

lunge twist

 

 

Pistol Squats

Stand on left leg. Hold right leg out in front of you so that your heel is just off the floor.  Using leg strength and balance, lower yourself down to the floor, keeping your right heel just above the floor the entire time. Keep your hands out in front of your body to help balance.  Go down until your hamstring touches your calf. Your right heel should still be about an inch off the ground.  Then stand back up.  Perform reps, then repeat on other side. (This is a very challenging move.  Don’t go down as far, if need be.  Do as many as you can, which may only be 1 on each leg.)

 

pistol-squat

 

 

Donkey Kicks With Pushups

Get into plank, with wrists aligned under your shoulders.  Perform a push-up, then jump feet toward hands.  Kick feet into the air, and bring heels toward the butt.  Jump feet back to starting position.  Repeat.

 

push up donkey

 

 

Towel Bicep Curls

 Put the towel just right under your knee and use the towel to elevate the leg. Keep your elbows at your waist and do a bicep curl. You’re actually lifting up the leg. Go half- way down. Exhale when you come up.
Keep your elbows at your sides when you do this.  Perform reps, and repeat on other side.

towel bicep

 

Tuck Jumps

Jump up bringing your knees as high as you can.  Land softly with feet under hips.

 

tuck-jump

 

 

Plank Press-Outs With Towel

On all fours, place folded towel under feet. Draw belly button into spine to engage abs and slightly lift knees off ground (don’t let hips lift up in the air). Press out through heels, sliding legs out into a full plank position (avoid sagging or lifting hips—body should make a line from heels to head). Brace abs in tighter and slide legs back in to start position (knees still hovering).

 

Sliding-Plank

 

 

Towel Boat Pose

Put your towel around one foot as you go into a boat pose.  Hold 15-30 seconds, breathing evenly.  Switch legs and repeat.

 

boat pose towel

 

 

 

 

 

8 Monday Get-Back-On-Track Moves

Originally posted on equilibrium fitness:

Ah, Monday.  Time to get myself back on track after a weekend of slacking, and hard-core circuit-training always does the job.  It provides me with the swift kick in the pants that I need to start my week off right.  These workouts break up my usual running/gym routine and are extremely efficient–working multiple muscle groups, strengthening and burning fat simultaneously.

Here are some of my favorite moves. See how many reps you can do in 20-30 seconds.  Do as a circuit, if you like.  Go through all moves once, rest for two minutes, then repeat.  Most of these are typically regarded as more advanced and may not be appropriate for those new to exercise. 

push&reach

Push & Reach

Start in pushup position, feet at hip width, and perform pushup.  At the top of your subsequent pushup, simultaneously extend right arm so that it’s parallel to the floor and raise left leg about eight inches, also parallel to the floor.  Hold this…

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Why You Need Carbs to Lose Weight…Really!

 

low-carbohydrate-diet1

 

I’m sure at least someone you know is on, or has been on, a low-carb or no-carb diet.  Maybe even you have.  And you know what?  People have lost weight this way, for a variety of reasons.  But is this necessary?  No.  In fact, cutting out carbs could not only make you miserable like the girl in the picture, it could negatively impact your health.  Many people don’t know this, and authors of best-selling no-carb diet books certainly don’t want you to.

Carbs are not evil.  Well, some of them kind of are.  Not all carbs are created equal.  The good carbs can actually be used to help you lose weight.  And not water weight or muscle weight, but fat weight.   The key is learning which carbs, and how much of them, to eat.

We need carbs to function.  Carbs are nutrients that break down into glucose, our bodies’ primary source of energy.  They’re in milk, fruits and veggies, rice, potatoes, bread, chocolate, and many other foods.  We need 130 grams a day just for our brains to function.  And if you cut them out, you could be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts, especially if you’re active.  If you’re carb-depleted, your body won’t have the fuel necessary to get through the kinds of workouts needed to burn fat and be the fit person you want to be.  For this reason, dieticians recommend that active people get 45 to 65 percent of their calories from carbs.

Carbs in vegetables, legumes and whole grains take longer to digest and give you a steady supply of energy to keep you full longer, not to mention tons of nutrition that your body needs.

Other carbs, like sugar that is added to foods and refined (white) grains are empty calories.  Our bodies break them down quickly and the energy they give us is quick, but fleeting.  Try to limit these.

Natural sugar that is in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose) is also “quick” energy, but these sugars aren’t considered empty calories like the above, because milk and fruit have protein, fiber, and many good-for you nutrients that will fill you up and help you lose fat.  Fruit (like a banana) is an awesome pre-workout snack because it gives you the natural, fast-digesting sugars you need to kill it during your work out.  (Just remember to eat it 45-60 minutes beforehand so you don’t interrupt the digestion process.)

Pay attention to portions and labels.  Some carb-rich foods can also be high in calories, and manufacturers sometimes sneak added sugars in with the “good” carbs.  For example, whole wheat bread can be high in added sugar.

If anything should be considered evil, I’d choose added sugar.  In fact, it’s very possible to become addicted to all of those sugary carbs, according to recent research in t the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  And while the occasional sweet treat or white carb certainly won’t hurt you, making most of your grains “whole” grains will keep you healthier, and help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.

So what’s a serving of carbs look like?  Here are some examples:

Starches/Whole Grains:

1/2 cup peas or corn; 1 potato; 1/2 cup chickpeas or lentils; 1/2 cup whole grain pasta; 1 slice whole wheat bread; 1/2 cup brown rice

Veggies/Fruits:

1/2 cup broccoli; 12 baby carrots; 1 banana; 1 cup berries

Dairy:

1 cup low-fat yogurt; 1 cup low-fat milk; 1 1/2 oz. reduced fat cheddar

 

Some Sample meals:

breakfast:  whole wheat English muffin, 1 egg, 1 slice low-fat cheese, 1 serving fruit

lunch:  turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with veggies & avocado or hummus, plus 6 oz. plain yogurt with fruit

snack: 1 serving fruit and low-fat cheese stick

 

 

Add Some Power to Your Push-Ups!

I love moves that mix cardio and strength conditioning, and this one has got to be near the top of the list!

Try the push-up jack.  This super-effective plyometric move gets your heart racing and works your whole body:

 

1-Start in a plank position. Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are in one line and your core is activated so that you have a flat back, pushing through your heels to create length in your body.


2-As you take an inhalation, lower your chest towards the floor and jump your feet away from each other about two feet, like you are doing a jumping jack.


3-On your next exhalation, push your chest back up to the starting position as you engage your lower abs to hop your feet back together.

This is one repetition. See how many reps you can do in :60.  You can do it.  Really!!

The Best (and Worst) Moves For Awesome Abs

truth-about-six-pack-abs-girl

Everyone pines for a six-pack.  People love to work their abs, and that’s good.  Your core is the foundation from where all your power originates.  Keep in mind that the core includes not only the abdominal muscles, but those of the back, glutes, spine, and hips (pelvic floor).  Keeping all of your core muscles strong also helps to prevent injury in athletes.

Before I continue, let me first say that you cannot spot reduce body fat on your waist, or anywhere else, for that matter.  You can strengthen your ab muscles with all of the exercises in the world, but without getting your heart-rate up through cardiovascular exercise, you won’t be able burn off the fat needed to see those strong abs you worked for.  So do your cardio!

People who want that flat tummy often gravitate toward crunches, because that’s the most well-known ab move.  However, research has shown that crunches are one of the worst ab moves in terms of how hard the obliques and rectus abdominus are worked.  The crunch only works a small part of the core, repeatedly bends the spine, and burns few calories.

The plank, a stabilizing move, works your whole core, as well as the transverse abdominus and your upper body.  It’s one of the best ab moves you can do.  What’s more, the possibilities with plank variations are endless!  Let’s first start with how to do a simple plank, because form is key:

With your forearms and toes on the floor:

plank1

  • Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
  • Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds to start.
  • Over time work up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds.  Don’t forget to breathe!

You can also do a plank with your arms fully extended, which works more of the upper body:

ICP

 

If you are a planking pro and can hold the pose for more than a couple of minutes, the simple plank is really no longer very effective for you.  It’s time to ramp it up a little!  Aside from the regular push-up, which is a great move, try one of these other variations below.  Happy planking!

Dolphin

dolphins

Plank Reach

plank reach

 

Single-Legged

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Reach & Raise

plank reach and raise

 

Lateral Walking Plank

Upper-Body-Core-Lateral-Plank-Walk

 

  • Simultaneously cross your right hand toward the left as you step your left foot out to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, returning to the plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart. Take two more steps in this direction, keeping your abs pulled toward your spine and your pelvis level. This completes one rep.
  • Reverse directions, taking three steps the right.

 

Plank Up-Downs

plank up downs

 

Plank on Bosu Ball

bosu2

 

Side Plank

side plank

 

Plank Rows

plank rows

Sliding Plank

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Plank Walk-Out

 plank walkout

 

Oblique Crunch Plank

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Bonus: Jack Knife on Stability Ball

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When is The Best Time of Day For Exercise?

run

There are a couple of different answers to this.  Let’s start with what research says.

According to a study posted in the Journal of Physiology, afternoon exercise may yield the most health benefits because it best regulates your circadian rhythm, which leads to better sleep and a healthier you.

There is also some research to suggest that afternoon exercise (4 to 5pm) is most beneficial because that is when our body temperature is at its highest, as well as our hormone level, strength and endurance.

One reason I like to work out in the afternoon?  It keeps my metabolism revved into the evening.  This would also be true if you were to split your workout up and do half in the morning, half in the afternoon.  Not everyone has that time luxury, however.

That being said, research also points to morning exercisers as being most consistent and most likely to stick to their workout routines.  This also rings very true for me.  When I wake up early and work out before my kids are up, I feel more energetic and positive the rest of the day.  When I make it the first thing I do each day, it’s much less easy for me to put it on the back burner amidst the day’s other distractions.  This time of year, I naturally wake up an hour earlier–It’s like my body is looking forward to that early run and the “me” time goes with it–nothing but peacefulness, chirping birds and pink sunrises.

The best time to work out is the time that works for you and your schedule.  If you’re a morning person, you may be most apt to stick with exercise in the morning.  But if you’re a night owl, an evening workout may be work best.  (One thing to think about with late-night workouts–They may not be the best for your sleep.)

Do whatever makes you feel the best, and whatever you’re most likely to stick with in the long run.  As they say, the only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.

One Of The Most Effective Cardio Machines In Your Gym…

Rower

There’s a cardio machine in your fitness center that you may have never considered using.  There may be only one of them, placed unassumingly amidst the rows of stationary bikes and elliptical machines.  You may not even know what it is.  But this piece of cardio equipment hits about 85 percent of your muscles, and can burn about 600-1,000 calories per hour.

If you haven’t tried the rowing machine, you need to.  A vigorous workout on this baby burns the same amount of calories as running on a treadmill at an incline, and more than a stair climber, elliptical, or stationary bicycle.

What’s more, it works all your major muscles simultaneously:  The quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, core, shoulders, triceps, back and biceps.  This ups the calorie burn and increases efficiency in your workout.  In a nutshell, you burn more calories and work more muscles, in less time than other cardio machines.

Don’t think you can get the hang of it?  Think again.  The rowing machine is suitable for all fitness levels, easy to operate, and is one of the only cardio machines that will give you a low impact, non-weight bearing cardio workout at a high intensity.  Can’t run or jump due to an injury or weak joints?  You can still work up a great sweat on the rowing machine.

If you’re new to the rowing machine, make sure you have the correct form and posture down before increasing your speed and resistance.

This is a great machine for interval training.  Start with a 5 to 10 minute warm-up, then alternate fast and slower intervals for 20 minutes, followed by a cool-down.