back day

Workout Wednesday: Back Day! 7 Great Back Muscle Exercises

Why on earth would you possibly need to spend time strengthening your back? I’m so glad you asked!

Our back muscles do so much for us. They help us maintain good posture. They provide us with stability and help us maintain balance. Ever have a sick toddler that wants you to do nothing but carry them around all day? A strong back will allow you to do so without tiring out. Having a back full of muscle even allows you to carry heavier loads (like your child as they continue to grow bigger).

The main muscles of the back include the latissimus dorsi (aka the lats),  rhomboids, trapezius, and erector spinae. These muscles provide our body with power. They also play a role in our movement of the shoulders, arms, and hips. In addition to this, they keep our body upright and provide some stability to our hips and lower back. Because of the essential role that the back muscles play, strengthening these specific muscles is an absolute necessity!

If aesthetics are your priority, strengthening your back will also provide you with a trimmer waist line and set the stage for the hourglass figure.

If you’re more interested in the scientific aspect of balanced muscles throughout the whole body, there is a counterpart to every muscle contained in the body. For example, the quadriceps and the hamstrings, biceps and triceps, upper back with chest, and the lower back is the counterpart for the abdominals. This being the case if you want to create a six pack, you need to work your lower back to provide the strength needed to perform abdominal exercises. If you don’t have the lower back strength, it can be difficult to properly perform leg raises, planks, crunches, etc. The back provides the means and support to do the movements which strengthen the abs and core muscles. Likewise, for substantial chest muscle strength, it is requisite that we work our upper back muscles.

Functionally, those who sit down for hours on end might be facing back pain and untrained posture. Especially if you are hunched over a computer as part of your work. Training your back muscles on a regular basis is the way to fight off poor posture and subsequent back pain. Strong back muscles are essential and directly correlated to good posture.

Enough talk. Let’s workout!

For this week’s workout, you’ll need a Yoga Ball, some dumbbells, a mini band and a long band, and make sure you have a door anchor! Perform the following seven exercises with 10-12 repetitions and 3-4 sets. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.

As you perform each exercise, really focus on pulling back until you can feel the muscles actively engaging. Keep your core muscles tight throughout.

The exercises:

Yoga Ball Reverse Leg Raise:

Supermans:

Kneeling Dumbbell Single Arm Row: (10-12 repetitions on each side)

Bent Over Reverse Fly:

Bent Over Row:

Mini Band Lat Pull Down:

Long Band Face Pull:

That’s it for today! If you like what you see, make sure to like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more work outs! Happy workout!

Looking for other workout ideas? Check out these posts here!


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Core Workout

Workout Wednesday: Abs and Core

I remember back when I was pregnant and I struggled with simple, every day, things like climbing up the stairs and getting in and out of our tall bed. Man, that was rough! That was because my core strength was completely shot as I grew babies in my belly. After having babies, it took months of solid effort to rebuild the core strength so that my functional fitness was up to par.

Did you know that you use your core muscle for EVERYTHING from moving between sitting to standing, climbing up the stairs, lifting up your babies or your groceries? As you strengthen your core muscles, you’ll have a greater capacity for all of your fitness endeavors, whether it’s to lift weights in the gym or train for a marathon. Even if having a six pack isn’t a goal of yours, you’ll thank yourself for putting in the time and effort to have a strong core.

You guys, I did something big this week!

Big for me anyway. I took baby steps to let go of a fixed mindset about refusing to be in front of a camera! I’m embracing the idea of getting over my stage fright to be in my own exercise demonstration videos (Letting go of fixed mindsets is always a good idea as it provides us with the opportunity to grow and become a better version of ourself).

YouTube Channel, core workout

So each of the exercise videos, below, are brought to you by yours truly (And my dear girlfriend behind the camera!)! I also have a YouTube channel now! I’m going to go ahead a say it… if you like what you see, go ahead and like and subscribe to my channel (insert winky face here)!

This week’s workout:

This core workout requires the use of a single weight (you can use a dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, gallon of milk, etc). You’ll also need a yoga ball. Here’s one that you can pick up from Amazon for under $20! If you don’t have a yoga mat, here’s one you can also pick up on Amazon. The last thing you will need is a weight bench, plyometric box, piano bench, or stair.

For the workout, you have eight exercises. I’m going to give you two options for how to perform this workout:

  1. A high intensity interval training (HIIT) circuit. Perform each exercise in consecutive order for 45-60 seconds. Rest 15 seconds before moving on to the next exercise on the list. Perform the whole circuit 1-4 times for a complete workout.
  2. Perform 3-4 sets of 12 repetitions of each individual exercise. This type of workout focuses on one exercise at a time, and allows for more rest breaks.

Your Core Exercises:

A-Frame Russian Twist:

Plank-Ups:

Plank Jacks:

Leg Raise With Hip Twist: (Rotate your hips every time your legs are up. Rotate right, middle, and left).

Side Plank Hip Dips: (On feet or knees)

Yoga ball Ab Switch:

Yoga ball knee tucks:

Bench V-ups: (Can be performed on the floor, too)

And there you have it, a full core workout! Come back tomorrow for my week 9 weigh in results!

Talk to you soon!

Want more exercise ideas? Check out this workout plan with mini-bands.


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mini band

Workout Wednesday: The Mini Band

Remember way back when I talked about the stages of change in this post? Well, there are certain personal mindset changes I am working on developing as I am now a month and a half into this project. For example, I really truly do want to be an educator and influencer for living our best life through fitness and nutrition. I’m a little bit paralyzed by the fact that I don’t love being front and center. I don’t know why, it’s just uncomfortable.

I know that social media sites like Instagram and Facebook act as, sort of, the town square of our day. As much as I find myself resisting being an active part of that town square, I sincerely do want to reach people who are looking for that bit of inspiration to make healthier changes in their lives. As of right now, I refuse to be one of the gals that gets on there and posts pictures of the perfect model pose that shows off her muscles, just right. I don’t want it to be the “Amy Show”. I don’t think I could swing that anyway, I’m just a touch too awkward for that to be believable.

But…returning to the topic of the stages of change…

I have found myself graduating from the pre-contemplation stage to the contemplation stage of being willing to consider embracing social media as platforms that I dabble in. But before you get too excited, I’m very conscious of my limits. Right now, my life basically consists of one full time job (being mom), and three part time jobs (in-gym personal training/group fitness class coach, college student, and blog writer). I’m very close to maximum capacity. Don’t get me wrong, I have a serious love for each of these endeavors that I’m actively engaged in (and I want to keep that love strong), so I’m thinking about, cautiously, starting to dip my toes in the water. Perhaps one social media post a week, to start? We’ll see.

With this potentially newly found growing desire to expand my platform presence (can you sense my timidness?), once I make a full commitment, I think it’ll be time to start filming my own video demonstrations of the exercises I place in these Workout Wednesday posts. I just need to work through the mental hurdle, and then I’ll get there.

This Weeks Workout

But enough about that, let’s get to the task at hand. This week, I want to highlight an awesome little exercise tool known as the mini band. You can find a set of these on Amazon for less than $8! They are a stretchy little band that have a surprising number of uses to effectively give you the toned muscles that you’re working for. These are small, so they can easily be stored away in a drawer and can come with you when you travel.

Here is why they are so cool. Mini bands, also known as resistance bands, work similarly to free weights (think dumbbells, barbells, etc.), but instead of using gravity like dumbbells do, resistance bands rely against the band itself, providing external resistance that your muscles have to work against. When you’re pushing against a resistance band during an exercise, your muscles have to engage to fight the tension. Because of this, your muscles are often under tension for an extended period of time when bands are involved, which means they’re pretty much constantly working (this is sometimes referred to as TUT or Time Under Tension, but that’s for another day). No doubt when using this you will know it is working, given the instant burning sensation that sets in.

Since, I have yet to record my own demonstration videos, we’re still relying on the work of others today. Unfortunately, Youtube didn’t provide individual exercise demonstrations, like I was hoping. So today, I’m suggesting three options. Each are around 30 minutes. Feel free to throw them into any of your favorite exercises too. Check out the difference they make! Here are a couple types of bands that you can pick up from Amazon. You can try this one or give this one a shot.

Mini Band Full Body Workout

Mini Band Upper Body Workout

Mini Band Lower Body Workout

Go ahead, give one (or all) of these workouts a try!

Stay tuned for my week 6 weight loss results tomorrow. Talk to you soon!


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Yoga Ball

Workout Wednesday: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

geeking,

I’ve been completely geeking out, today, as I’ve dived deep into a study of thermodynamics. More specifically, the aspect of thermogenesis in which the body burns up the calories after they’ve been consumed. Every single time I go down the rabbit hole of these studies, I’m overcome by how cool our body processes are! Think about the smart phone in your hand that you’re reading this blog post from. It can do so many awesome things, right?

Well, our body can be chalked up to one of God’s first and smartest creations here on earth! There are so many scientific processes taking place within our body every second of every day! Most of the science flies right over my feeble mind, but learning about all of the ways that the body burns calories makes me all giddy inside! I know, totally nerdy, right!? It’s ok, you can say it.

After we’ve eaten our meals, every single calorie of food gets put to use in various ways. The majority of your consumed calories is used for fuel to support and maintain normal body functions, like temperature regulation. The rest is used to digest food and support movement for exercise. Excess calories are converted into fat and stored for later energy use (Please forgive me as I get a little bit “text book-y” for a few minutes. But this is really cool stuff, just trust me!).

There are four different ways that we burn calories:

  1. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), this is also referred to as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). These are the calories that our bodies burn while we are breathing, circulating blood, through our organ functions, and basal neurological functions. Some people have very high RMR, while some people have very low RMR. High RMR occurs, in part, from higher levels of muscle. But also from high production of thyroid hormones and other functions. Low RMR can occur from hypothyroidism (low thyroid production), or a high percentage of body fat and low level of lean body mass. 60-75% of the calories we burn in a day occur through our Resting Metabolic Rate.
  2. The Thermic Effect of Foods (TEF). Did you know that eating food actually causes your body to burn calories? How cool is that!? This comes from the energy required for our body to digest the food we eat, and then breaking it down into further energy extraction in our body. Simple carbohydrates and fats have a relatively lower thermic effect of energy compared to protein. Research has shown that eating higher protein meals has a higher thermic response than high carbohydrate meals (See?! There is a method to my madness in taking a higher protein approach to weight loss!). 10% of the calories we burn in a day occur through the digestive processes of the Thermic Effect of Food.
  3. The Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA). This accounts for the calories that we burn through intentional exercise and spontaneous physical activity (Dance party in the kitchen, anyone?). TEA includes energy expenditure (calorie burn) due to physical work, cardio exercise, weight lifting, and any planned and structured exercise. TEA helps us maintain a healthy body weight and raise our RMR. 15-30% of the calories we burn in a day occur through the Thermic Effect of Activity.
  4. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is the energy expended, and calories burned, from everything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or exercising. It’s the energy we burn during daily activities (i.e. walking to and from the car, typing, walking up the stairs, chasing our toddlers, and even fidgeting.). Daily NEAT actually helps to increase our metabolic rate, even for brief periods of time. The more active your lifestyle, the higher your NEAT will be and the better your energy balance. NEAT can even be leveraged in how one maintains or loses body weight and/or develops obesity.

Since our Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis can be an important contributor to increasing our metabolic rate, my workout prescription for all of you is to increase your NEAT!

N.E.A.T. EXERCISE PLAN

  • Play with your kids
  • Take the stairs whenever possible
  • Park at the back of the parking lot
  • Take a 10 minute walk break every two hours
  • Bike to work
  • Projects around the house (When was the last time you cleaned your showers? I’m not judging, just prescribing some NEAT!)
  • Sit on an exercise ball while working at a desk (I’m going to start doing this tomorrow!)
  • Get a pedometer or smart watch and challenge yourself to add more steps or activity points each day
  • Pace and fidget more
  • Adopt a more active lifestyle instead of being sedentary during your free time
  • Walk or bike instead of drive
stairs

Additional exercise equipment

Check out some of these awesome products which can help you increase your NEAT exercise plan. You can now binge watch your favorite Netflix show and increase your metabolism at the same time! You’re welcome!

That’s my exercise plan for you for this week, increase your non-exercise movement throughout the day. If you increase your movement, your energy expenditure will add up and you might find that you’re losing your last 15 lbs a little quicker than you first planned!

Happy fidgeting! Talk to you soon!


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active adult biceps body

Workout Wednesday: Upper Body With The Kettlebell or Dumbbell

Lose 50 lbs doing this one exercise!

You know what makes me cringe? It’s those ads with a tagline like the one above that says “The one exercise you need in order to lose weight!” They drive me crazy! Not only are they super misleading, but they give people a false sense of hope and idea of what it will actually take to achieve the results you want. Sure, some people find a way to lose the weight they want with just exercise, and some people find a way to lose weight watching what they eat and zero exercise. But for the majority of us, we need both of these components to efficiently lose weight, keep it off and meet our goals.

Workout Plan, lose weight

So What Do I Do?

Our bodies thrive off of multiple kinds of movement. Cardio is essential in keeping our heart healthy, burning calories, and helping us be able to walk up the stairs without losing our breath. Weight lifting is essential because it helps us be able to keep lifting our babies after they are no longer babies. Yes, weight lifting keeps us strong, but it does so much more than that! It actually helps maintain/increase our bone density. As we age, we naturally lose bone density if we’re not continually working to keep our strength up.

How many of us have a dear elderly lady in our life who has fallen and broken a hip (Both my hands are raised)? Lifting weights through the duration of our life can help prevent us from having brittle bones in our older years. Possibly the most exciting consequence of lifting weights is that having more muscle helps us to burn calories throughout the day, and not just while we’re working out. Possibly the least important benefit, yet fun nonetheless, muscle definition is just pretty!

kettle bell, dumbbell, workout plan, exercise

Now, for those of you still reading, looking for the one exercise to lose 50 lbs, please know I will never come at you with “do this one and only exercise”! I have a personal love for weight lifting, specifically with dumbbells and resistance cables, but I’m always working to keep things interesting by learning new modalities of working out. The Kettlebell is a more recent exercise tool that I have come to gain mad respect for. This is the equipment which is highlighted in today’s workout. If you don’t have access to a kettlebell but you do have access to dumbbells, you can absolutely substitute those in this workout instead.

Here’s the workout plan:

Today’s workout is another HIIT (High intensity interval training) circuit to really help you strengthen and shape some beautiful muscles, as well as fire up your metabolism. All you need for this workout is a few kettlebells (KB) of varying weights, one light weight, one medium, and one heavier (I did this exact workout, this morning, and used a 14 lb. KB, 20 lbs KB, 26 lbs KB, and 35 lbs KB).

5 minute warm up. You can jog, jumping jack, dance, stretch doesn’t matter. Just move.

You’ll perform each of these ten exercises consecutively until you’ve made it through the whole list. Perform each exercise for 45-60 seconds with 15-30 seconds of rest in between. If you’re a beginner, then one time through might feel like plenty. If you’re further advanced, see if you can make it through the whole circuit three (if not four) times. Be sure to take a short rest period of two minutes, each time, before starting the circuit again.

Equipment needed:

Kettlebells in varying weights or Dumbbells

Thats it! Super straight forward, but guaranteed to kick your butt! I hope you enjoy this workout as much as I did!

Talk to you soon.


For last weeks workout plan, Click here!


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burning tree

Workout Wednesday: Fire up your metabolism!

Alright folks, this is the exact type of workout plan that I teach in my bootcamp style exercise class. If there is any type of workout plan which promises to rev up your metabolism all while helping you to build strength, muscular endurance, and fire up your heart rate, it is this circuit. You will burn fat during your workout, and after! Gotta love that! This is the most frequent style of workout that I do as my own workouts, and I finish feeling so good every single time!

Here’s the workout plan:

5 minute warm up. You can jog, jumping jack, dance, stretch doesn’t matter. Just move.

You’ll perform each of these ten exercises consecutively until you’ve made it through the whole list. Perform each exercise for 45-60 seconds with 15-30 seconds of rest in between. If you’re a beginner, then one time through might feel like plenty. If you’re further advanced, see if you can make it through the whole circuit three (if not four) times. Be sure to take a short rest period of two minutes, each time, before starting the circuit again.

  1. Lateral shoulder raises + alternating lunge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQWw4qeH2fo
  2. Plank hold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWd2VXg2Mpk
  3. Gliding disk reverse lunge plus hip circle (use paper plate if you don’t have gliding disks): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD6Y4JHKAUg
  4. Kettle bell swing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKDIuUbH94Q (If you don’t have a kettlebell: https://livehealthy.chron.com/substitute-kettlebell-swings-4352.html)
  5. Lateral squat + front shoulder raises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yAofWC313E
  6. Decline push up: (with knees) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKKLCw4jlmQ or (with feet) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXIpw1JD4qw
  7. Burpees: (for beginners) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yiWAgm3DSU or (moderate to advanced) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZgVxmf6jkA
  8. Incline mountain climbers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYBDOL8h0Ao
  9. Step up or box jump: (step up) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hiWQ7pehjQ or (box jump) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaQLhH-HBH8
  10. Gliding disk knee tuck + push up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5qGSEwWcOU

Gear needed:

Box or step, Kettle bell, Dumbbell, Gliding disc or paper plate (You can get some inexpensive ones here)

Dumbell for workout plan
Kettle Bell for workout plan
Gliding Discs

Burpees! How much do we love and hate them!?!? Oh but the amazing things they do for our whole body!

Talk to you soon!

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