5 Exercises That (Don’t Seem Like Much But) Will Rock Your Core

I can’t remember the last time I had a client come in who didn’t mention wanting to tone up their midsection and having some low back issues. So I’m going to give you some great new exercises that will work the abs, obliques, AND low back. I even included a client favorite and some good plank variations. How’s that for some core awesomeness?!

Now I don’t actually have myself or my clients do a ton of ab work because they get a lot of it just from using free weights, especially kettlebells, and full body movements. So don’t overdo it. The planks can be done for time, while the others can be done for time or reps. I used a kettlebell, but a dumbbell will work just as well.

However, before I get into it I want to be clear. These exercises will strengthen and tone up the muscles of your core. They will help give you definition, but they will not burn off the fat that sits on top of them. That my friends comes from the way you eat.  🙂 I’m not trying to discourage you, but I want you to know what you can honestly expect from this stuff instead of leaving you frustrated and wondering what’s wrong with you.

But I won’t leave you hanging! You can expect more blogs about nutrition and mindset and all those goodies that will help you get where you want to be…but for now, it’s exercise time! Since these exercises are much easier to demonstrate than explain I put together a quick video for you. Below the video I give more details on the how-to’s and what to focus on!

So without further ado, 5 exercises that will strengthen and tone your core muscles and help with low back pain as well….it took everything in me not to include a dance break. 😉

Song: Pennybags by Tyler Ward (feat. Derek Ward)

Pullover Crunch

The crunch is really quite overrated and not all that great for you, so this is one of the only crunch variations I do. It just so happens to also be a client favorite, so I figured I had to include it! Lay on back with knees bent and a weight above your head. Simultaneously pull the weight over your head and bring your knees to your elbows. Lower slowly.

*Tuck your pelvis and keep the low back pushed against ground for the duration of the exercise. Training this will do wonders for your low back and pelvic floor!

Progression: Straighten your legs on the way down and don’t let them rest on the ground. (You should only do this if you can keep your low back on the ground the entire time!!)

The Body Saw

In a plank position: Keeping your body as straight as possible, rock back and forth on the balls of your feet.

*Focus on not dropping your hips!

Progression: Do this with your feet on sliders. Yowza.

Side to Side Plank

In pushup position, bring right hand over and touch left hand, return to pushup position. Then bring left hand to right hand and return. Alternate back and forth.

*Resist twisting your body as you move from side to side. Try to hold a firm plank position.

Progression: Instead of just side to side, create a half circle by keeping your feet in place and walking your hands to the left 4 or 5 times. Return, then continue walking your hands to the right 4 or 5 times. Return.

Farmer Walks

If you don’t have loaded carries in your workout you should add them right now because they’re a great core exercise! It’s pretty straightforward really. Pick up a heavy weight in one or both hands and walk. If you can’t figure that out, theeeeen I can’t help you. 😉

*Keep a nice long spine. (Think tall. he he.)

Progression: Waiter Walk – Walk with weight overhead. Your elbow should be locked out.

1/2 Turkish Get Up

-Lay on your back with left arm straight out, a weight overhead in your right hand, and right knee bent so that your right foot is planted out to the side.

-First you want to roll to your side and up onto your elbow by simultaneously punching the weight up towards the ceiling, driving your left elbow into the ground, and using your foot to drive your  hips onto the left side . IT IS NOT A SIT UP. This should bring you up to your side and onto your elbow. From there, press your hand into the ground and crunch up to a sitting position.

-With your left hand and right foot firmly planted, squeeze your butt and push hips up toward the ceiling as far as you can. Hold for a second.

-Return to sitting position, then use abs to lower down slowly, back to lying position.

*Start with a really light weight or no weight at all, just to get the movement down. Keep your eyes on the weight the whole time! (If you’re still not quite sure you’re getting it, grab a weight and follow along with the video.)

Now go give these puppies a try! Enjoy!

*Interested in fitness classes in Colorado Springs? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*

Ain’t No Swing

I talked in my last post about why I love kettlebells and all the reasons they are beneficial for you. This naturally leads me into the topic of the most famous kettlebell exercise: the swing. Reason being is it also happens to be one of the most misunderstood and incorrectly done exercises, which leads many people to believe the swing is dangerous. OK, sure. When done incorrectly it can be harmful. That is fitness. Any exercise can be that.

When you put a weight over your head and there is always the possibility of dropping it on your face. When you do any exercise with poor form or too much weight OR play a sport, there is always the possibility of injury.

That is why a good trainer will harp on your form until its perfect! And then continue to make sure it stays that way.

OK, back to the swing. There is good reason that it is so commonly done incorrectly. It is not like most exercises. In fact, it goes against most of the fundamental rules of weight lifting. That is: lower the weight slowly, keep your chest up, and slow down. Because of that, the swing is also pretty counter-intuitive. In fact, if you don’t feel pretty darn awkward when you’re first learning you’re probably doing it wrong.

So to get started, I would like you to watch this quick, uuh, educational video. And no I’m not joking. I got this brilliant idea from the lovely Jen Sinkler and there really is a point to it… 😉

SO, the 2 main factors in the kettlebell swing:

1.First you’re going to bend….but not at the knees, at the hips. It is not a squat. Just like Elle so beautifully demonstrated :), you’re going to bend forward, sticking your butt out and dropping your chest toward the floor; much more akin to a deadlift than a squat. As the bell falls, don’t resist it. Let the bell pull your upper body down. This is not one of those times when you should be “lowering it slowly”.

2.Then SNAP!… also called a hip thrust or “popping” your hips; it’s all the same idea. You’re going to snap your hips by squeezing your butt and driving your hips forward quickly and powerfully. You’re literally going to drive the kettlebell up and out with your hips. So don’t hold back!! This is what gets the bell to pop up. Remember what I said above. If you don’t feel awkward, you ain’t doing it right!

*Here are a few helpful tips to remember:

  1. Relax your arms. This is not a shoulder exercise. But if I relax my arms, how do I get the bell to swing up?!?!?!? That’s what the hip snap is for! The only part of the arm that should be working is your forearms from gripping the bell. That’s it.
  2. The handle of the bell should never drop below your knees! Most people want to drop it really low because they think they should be squatting, but the swing is a glute and hamstring exercise so you should mainly be feeling it in your butt and the back of your thighs.
  3. Keep your back straight fool!! Even all the ladies in the video had nice straight backs! So stick that chest out, keep it out, and your back will look the same. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 (But seriously, I love you guys and don’t want you to get hurt. So keep that back nice and straight and let your glutes and hams do the heavy lifting.)

These things are all much easier to see and understand in person. Since that’s not possible, I did the next best thing…

I really do hope this clears some things up for you guys and helps you go from ain’t no swing to ain’t no thing! Good luck!

**As a little bonus, if you still aren’t sure you’re doing it right or it hurts your back, take a video of yourself swinging. Send me the video at info@fuelsocofitness.com or on my facebook and I will personally watch it and give you the tips you need to fix it!

***Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*

Finally, the answer to the question: is it kettlebells or kettleballs?!

I think it’s safe to say that words like trendy or trendsetter have never and will never be used to describe me. Usually if I’ve started wearing something trendy or using a certain buzz word, chances are it’s on its way out. Kinda like Joey here…

The kettlebells might be my one chance at the title.

When I first found kettlebells…that’s right, kettlebells, not kettleballs, not cowbells, kettlebells…nobody knew what they were. And on the off-chance that they did, they had no idea what one might do with them. Kettlebells have actually been around for a very long time, but as most of you have probably seen they just recently started making their way into the American fitness spotlight. (Now if only spell check would get with the times…you should see all the red squiggly lines!)

8 years ago, I was just getting out of college and really feeling bored with my workout routine. So my boss at the time gave me the number of a guy and suggested I go try out these kettlebell thingys. Long story short, I fell in love and we’ve been going strong (excuse the pun 😉 ) ever since.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not a big fan of the fitness cultures that surround certain exercise programs or equipment. Ya know, the ones that think they are the best and only way. In fact, I’ll go ahead and tell you right now, you can get strong and have an awesome body without kettlebells! So this is more about why I use and love kettlebells. But just to play fair, I’ll also give you a couple things they are not so good for.

What they are good for…

First let me clarify that I’m going to be referring to the exercises that are kettlebell specific. There are lots of regular exercises that you can do with them as well, but for the purpose of this post I’m talking specifically about kettlebell exercises.

  • First and foremost, they’re FUN! (Especially if you find tradition strength training boring.) It’sP1000949 not often you get to swing heavy things around and look super cool at the same time AND actually have it be really good for your body.
  • Powerlifting is awesome for working your entire body and cardiovascular system, however, it is very technical. The kettlebell allows for an easier, more natural feeling, way to learn the powerlifts. Plus if you’re like me and have any issues with your wrists, kb’s are easier on them than the bar.
  • The way they are made, with most of the weight in one spot instead of evened out on both sides like a dumbbell, works more stabilization (especially of the shoulders) and balance. Two things most people struggle with.
  • They will strengthen your posterior chain. Wha?? The posterior chain is your low back, butt, and hamstrings. Who doesn’t want to strengthen those?! Plus if you have a desk job or just tend to sit a lot, chances are your posterior chain is pretty weak. While it might not feel like it, sitting is really hard on your body. Swings help undo some of that damage caused by too much sitting. This is also why most people say that swings just feel good.
  • They provide an awesome low-impact cardiovascular workout. Had to stop running because your knees couldn’t take it anymore? The kettlebell is your answer!!
  • So not only will they lift your booty, but working the posterior chain and cardiovascular system will help improve the basic athletic movements like walking, running, and jumping.
  • Kettlebells are great for strength training, fat loss, conditioning, and endurance.

For me, they are my favorite way to train because they hit all of my top priorities. I can use them for cardio and/or strength training. They give me an awesome full body workout in a short amount of time. With them, I enjoy my workouts more because to me they are fun and make my body feel really good.

What they aren’t good for….

All that being said, kettlebells are not the best for muscle hypertrophy. They tend to increase strength without size, so if you’re looking to bulk up you’ll probably want to add some more tradition weight lifting to your routine.

While they make learning the power lifts easier, they still come with a bit of a learning curve. In fact, it’s pretty awkward at first. It’s not something you can just watch someone do, then go pick up one and do it yourself (usually). This also means you can’t just go jump into a class on the first day. This is the reason so many people end up hurt.* They take a little more attention to detail and time to learn.

*Trainers are often the worst offenders when it comes to this!! So please make sure your trainer knows what they are doing if they are teaching or correcting you on kettlebell exercises.

One thing you should at least try….

If you were to ask me for my top 3 favorite exercises, the kettlebell swing would definitely be in there. Because of the multiple benefits, I do think everybody should at least learn the swing at some point (especially if you have a job where you have to sit a lot!). Then if you still don’t like it, you don’t have to do it. But from my experience, when you finally get it down and understand where you are and aren’t supposed to feel it, you’ll fall in love too. 😉

*Stay tuned for more on the correct way to do the kettlebell swing!!!

wrong kbs

No, no, Julian Michaels. Just….NO

**Interested in kettlebell classes and live in the Colorado Springs area? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*

No Pain, More Gain??

I discovered early on that I was never going to be the trainer that ran my people into the ground on day one. Actually I don’t really care to ever do that. Why? Well first, I want them to come back!! For heaven’s sake, if you can’t walk for the next 3 days, you sure as heck aren’t going to be working out. Then when you do come back, we have to start back at zero and this is just inefficient.  Secondly, because ultimately I care more about what’s best for you than what you think is best for you.

See, most of us have come to think that we have to run ourselves into the ground and go at 110% intensity all the time or we aren’t doing anything. I used to think the same way.

And why wouldn’t we? Known for its incredibly brutal workouts, Crossfit is all the rage these days. We watch the Biggest Loser and see these morbidly obese folks getting run into the ground… and losing weight. We see motivational phrases like, “no pain, no gain” and go hard or go home plastered all over the fitness world. So we pump ourselves up, hit the gym for the first time in 5 (or 10) years, run ourselves into the ground, are sore for a week, maybe try it again next week, get the same results, and we quit.

No wonder I get people all the time saying: “I wish I didn’t, but I just honestly hate exercise.”

Well friends, I come bearing great news: that “no pain, no gain” mentality is a load of shiz. The idea that you have to be sore after every workout or you didn’t accomplish anything?


What’s that you say?!?!? The fact is, if you’re working out at 110% every time, your productivity will stall or even digress because your body has not been given enough time to recover. Sure, some people can handle it for longer than others, but in the end the results will always be the same.

Now before I go any further, I would like to clarify that I am not saying that soreness or training at high intensity is always bad. On the contrary, I am saying you will get better results from high intensity work when you allow for proper recovery in between! SO, how do we make sure we are getting the most out of our workouts?

Gauging pain vs. discomfort

If you are just starting to workout, it probably won’t take much before you start feeling some discomfort. This discomfort is caused by exertion. Exertion usually takes the form of burning muscles or labored breathing or other things along that line. At first this is a very uncomfortable feeling. However, the longer you go the less uncomfortable it will become. Pain, on the other hand, should not be a regular part of your workouts. Pain usually presents itself in the form of sharp, stabbing, or pinching in the joints or muscles. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong. I do not believe pain should be pushed through.


Soreness is inevitable from time to time, but it doesn’t mean your workout was better than when you didn’t get sore. And it shouldn’t be your goal. Here’s what you need to know about soreness.

Beginners, you will probably get sore. It’s hard to introduce your body to something new and not experience at least a little of this. However if you are sore for more than 3 days, you went too hard.  If you are sore on a regular basis, you need to back off. Ideally when you do get sore, it’s not extreme and it only lasts a day or two.

If you’re never sore and you’re not seeing improvements, you could probably stand to push yourself a little harder. If you’re never sore but you are improving-congratulations, you’ve found your sweet spot!!

This will be different for everybody.

Listening to your body

A good program or trainer will have progression built into your workouts. However, you are the only one who can gauge how your body is feeling.

-Are you new to the program? Don’t be afraid to ease yourself into it. Focus on form!

-Are you stressed out? Or just coming back from sickness or an injury? These workouts should be about getting your body re-acclimated or maintenance. This is when I would say you’re better off going too easy than too hard.

-Did you get a great night’s sleep? Are you feeling awake and energized? Been managing your stress well? Are the weights starting to feel easy? Now would be a good time to push harder. See if you can lift a little heavier or go for another set.

So I hope these tips help. A few final thoughts…

*This is gonna sound crazy, but exercise should leave you feeling refreshed and energized! For men, this usually means learning to leave some in the tank! You will get so much more out of your workouts when you don’t go to failure every set and focus more on your form. (It isn’t sexy but it will bring about some sexy muscles.) Women, learn to enjoy the temporary feeling of exertion and not fear it. You have no idea just how strong and capable you really are!

*Seriously, stop pushing through pain! Learn from my mistakes! Being active will inevitably lead to aches and pains here and there. When they come along, you might be surprised how quickly they resolve themselves if you just give the area of pain a rest for a day or two! (And no, that does not mean giving your knee a rest AFTER you finish 2 more sets of lunges!) Don’t be like the black knight….

** No matter how hard you push your body, you will not become fit in a week or a month. Fitness should be about consistent, enjoyable movement. There are so many amazing things to be done and seen but you need to be able to move to experience them. Don’t waste it in the gym running yourself into the ground until your body or your will gives out. 😉


***Interested in Colorado Springs kettlebell classes? Check out my in-home training studio, Springs Kettlebells!*

Take Aways from a Weekend Without Internet

This past weekend Joel and I were able to get away with some friends up to the beautiful Granby, Colorado area. One of our friends’ has a cabin up there, so we shoved all our crap into one backpacking pack and one regular backpack and headed out Friday afternoon.

all packed up

all packed up

We arrived at about 6 pm to find that the road to the cabin was blocked by snow drifts so we had to strap on the snowshoes and hike about a mile and half in. Thus began a weekend filled with good food, snowshoeing, napping, reading, games, and lots of thought-provoking talk. Our group was comprised of a dietician, an outdoorsy mechanical engineer (our very own Bear Grylls), a cop, a fitness enthusiast (I think she runs a marathon every other week or so), a musician, and myself.

"Bear" and his dog Ryker

“Bear” and his dog Ryker 🙂


Let’s just say, we make up a pretty varied and opinionated group. It was so much fun and I thought I’d share with you a few things I took away from the weekend….

Take Away #1:

If for no other reason, make exercise a regular part of your life so that you’re able to do awesome things like snowshoeing through snow-covered aspen fields with breath-taking views and herds of elk.


I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a group where someone is telling me about how they just hate to exercise and someone else will jump in with, “well you look great, so you really don’t need to!” Our culture is so looks-driven that it’s too easy to get caught up in that as the one and only goal of exercise. For a long time, I was guilty of this myself.

Don’t get me wrong, if your goal right now is fat loss that’s great. After all, being overweight is not good for you and it makes regular activity of any kind much more difficult so it’s a perfectly legitimate goal to have. But I find it sad that so many of us go our whole lives exercising and dieting in order to fit our bodies into some ideal body type we have in our head and we forget about all of the other benefits of fitness. Regular exercise also allows you to play with your kids, get down & up off the ground, play sports, explore the great outdoors, ski, hike, bike, swim, and walk without feeling like you want to die. It improves your balance and memory, keeps your joints lubricated, and your muscles, bones, and heart strong.

I’ll digress now, but the point is you never know when you might get the opportunity to do something amazing. Don’t wait until that time to realize that you’re not physically capable. The ultimate goal isn’t just to look fit; it’s to BE fit.

Take Away #2:

Unplug from time to time.

This cabin we stayed at was pretty awesome. It had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full kitchen, a killer view, heat, electricity, and no internet….that’s right, absolutely none. What better way to connect with loved ones than to not even have the option of connecting with the internet?! 🙂

our view from the cabin

our view from the cabin

Most of us live in a constant state of connectedness. While this is awesome when you have family or friends that don’t live nearby, but it also means you’re always connected to everyone. Family, friends, acquaintances, work, news, media. How are you supposed to get to know people or spend quality time with loved ones or take a break from work when you are constantly available to everyone?

It also puts us in a constant state of distraction. All day long we are bombarded by advertisements, articles, news tickers, tweets, posts, and pics of all the fun and amazing lives others are living. We think we’re just gonna hop on facebook for a few minutes, but then there’s an article to read, which has a bunch of hyperlinks you have to click on and next thing you know, it’s been half an hour and you still have 30 tabs up of articles, blog posts, and videos you just. can’t. miss.

That constant state of distraction is costly. Mostly it’s costing us the ability to focus on a singular thing for any significant amount of time, like reading a book or having a conversation. I know that might sound crazy, but now that you’re aware of it I’ll bet you’ll notice how hard it is to get through an article on the internet without clicking on a hyperlink or getting distracted by an ad along the side (or smack dab in the middle of the dang article! I hate that!).

The weirdest thing is the way it becomes an addiction without us ever noticing. We start thinking if we don’t check our email for a day, we’ll lose a client or miss a sale. We think if we don’t check facebook or answer every call, we’ll miss out on something. Before you know it, you feel like you’re in a constant state of anxiety.

Good relationships take devoted time, energy, and attention. Mental health and sanity takes time alone, letting your body and your thoughts unwind and just breathe. Those things are hard to come by in this tech-savvy age, but they can be done. The cool thing is you don’t have to leave town to unplug. Here’s a few suggestions on how to unplug:

  • turn off the notifications for email and social media on your phone
  • pick one or two times a day in which you will check your email or facebook
  • pick a time each day to get away, go outside, or go on a walk; go by yourself or with your dog or husband, but no phones or headphones
  • set aside 15 minutes to read each day
  • pick a time in the evening in which you put your phone away for the rest of the night

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Take Away #3:

Good friends are a rarity. When you find them, do everything you can to keep them and surround yourself with them. Good friends are those that:

  • love and encourage the things you have in common and the things that make you different
  • are not afraid to go deep, to make you think, to disagree and discuss
  • love you enough to call you out when necessary
  • are willing to be open and honest about their own faults and struggles and you know you can do the same with them
  • stick around through the good, the bad, and the ugly

I’d rather have a few good friends than a hundred fair-weather ones. I’m so thankful for the ones God has put in my life.


*If you’re interested in learning how to disconnect more, I would strongly recommend this quick read: The Low Information Diet. You won’t regret it!

“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it. “

~Herbert Simon, Recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics and the A.M. Turing Award, the “Nobel Prize of Computer Science”

Vday Partner Workout

Honestly I’m perfectly content working out by myself most of the time. However, it is more fun to workout with someone and I think most people prefer it. So in the interest of Valentine’s Day, I present to you: a partner workout. It’s a quick one too, so you can get your metabolism ready for the delectable grub you plan to enjoy mindfully later tonight, right?. 😉 So grab someone you love and give this spicy number a try!

me & my bestie makin' our workout fun

me & my bestie makin’ our workout fun

It’s called I Go, You Go. The idea is one person works while the other one rests and vice versa. So there should always be someone gettin’ their move on!

Warm Up:

14 Hip Bridges

14 Walking Lunges

14 Plank Handshakes (Position yourself head to head in starting pushup position. Alternate shaking hands.)

30 Jumping Jacks (cuuuz 14 jumping jacks is like, nothing.)


*For a couple of the exercises I gave a kettlebell option and a body weight option. PLUS, there are 2 ways to do this next part, so it’s kinda like a choose your own adventure. I know, fun, right?!

  1. Set the timer for 15 minutes. The 1st person goes until they cry “mercy”, at which point they tag out and the 2nd person goes. Rotate through the exercises circuit style until 15 minutes is up!
  2. Each person does as many reps as they can until, as a team, you reach 100 reps of each exercise. You can switch back and forth as many times as you need to get to 100.

Goblet Squat or Prisoner Squat (as fast and as low as you can go)


Alternating Lunge Jumps

Mountain climbers (1 rep is when both knees have hit the chest)

Double KB Swing or Burpees

*A couple things to keep in mind: Any time there is no set rep range, only go as long as you can with good form. And if you don’t want to feel completely trashed at the end, don’t go to failure on your first set…or ever for that matter. Oh yeah, and have fun!!

**If you’re looking for something extra at the end, two words: plank competition. Always.

partner wo

Two of my favorite things: my hubs and kettlebell swings

The one resolution every woman should make

strength blog

While this post really applies to both genders, women in particular seem to have a really hard time with this one. It’s called strength training… or resistance training, weight training, lifting… they all pretty much mean the same thing. Now for those of you who just cringe at the mere thought of adding strength training to your workout, I get it. I really do. Most of us couldn’t care less about how much we can squat or bench press and the last thing we want is to not fit into our clothes because we’ve gained muscle! We want to be fit, but still feminine. So how about we make a deal: I promise to not post any pictures of super ripped women with sayings like “Strong Is the New Skinny” written under them, and you’ll promise to keep reading… all the way… to the end. 😉

As I said in my last post, for a long time we thought longer, low-intensity cardio was the answer. Step classes, aerobics, hours on the treadmill in the “fat-burning zone” were all supposed to, well, BURN FAT. Come to find out the human body is a little too smart for that. When you are exclusively focused on simply burning a bunch of fat each day, fat will become a primary energy source that your body will try to store. Your body does this so that it will have all the fat it thinks it needs ready for tomorrow when you hop on the treadmill for another hour. I’m not saying cardio is all bad, but I am saying that if your primary goal is the lean and toned look, then you will not find a better option than strength training.

So without further ado, I give you the top 5 reasons why you should be strength training:

1) Lifting will not make you big and bulky, but it will make you firmer, leaner, and more fit. Afraid you’re going to look like a man? Compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle growth. Now go ask a couple of your guy friends how easy it is for them to gain muscle.  Most men have a hard time adding muscle without supplements. And the women that look like men are most definitely using something to enhance their hormonal makeup. What strength training will do for you, though, is increase your metabolism, burn fat, and hopefully replace it with a little muscle!! Trust me friends, muscle is your friend. That “toned” look you’re always talking about, the jiggle-free arms and thighs, the lifted booty, the definition in the shoulders or abs…. that’s all muscle.

2) It will make you stronger. Like I said above, I get that you might not care about how much you can squat. But if you think about the amount of energy and strength that is required of you on a typical day…hoisting kids, carrying loads of laundry up and down a couple flights of stairs, getting groceries in and out of the car, chasing after the dog, unloading the dishwasher (those stacks of plates get heavy), cleaning floors and windows, stairs at work, stairs at home,…..wouldn’t it be nice to know your body can handle it? To not feel winded running up the stairs? To not have to wait for your husband to get home to move that heavy box back upstairs? To not have to worry about constant low back pain? While running keeps you in one plane of motion the whole time, strength training will strengthen your body in all planes of motion. It will not just help with daily activities, but will also improve your athletic endeavors, your energy, your mood, AND decrease your risk of injuries. Looking great is nice and all, but feeling great is life changing.  

3) It never gets boring. Here are just a few possibilities that you can use while strength training: your own body weight, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, medicine balls, sand bags, suspension trainers, sliders… the list goes on and on, but you get the point. All of these techniques are each a little different, too, so when you do happen to get bored or find yourself no longer enjoying one, try another! Better yet, combine a couple of your favorites. Also, there are all kinds of ways to group exercises together in super sets, circuits, ladders, pyramids, and timed sets… just to name a few.  The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way to keep both your body guessing and your mind stimulated.

4) Lifting will decrease your risk of disease.
Strength training has been shown to increase bone density therefore decrease the risk of osteoporosis. I don’t know about you guys, but when I need to roundhouse kick a burglar out of my front door, I’d prefer all my bones to stay intact and inside my skin… just sayin’. Weight training can also improve cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure – which lowers the risk of heart disease. Cardiovascular, you say?! YES. Lifting has also been shown to improve the way the body processes sugar, which can decrease the risk of adult-onset diabetes. I have no clever remark for that one. Diabetes just sucks.

5) It will give you the highest payoff for your time and energy. Last but not least, one of the most important things with exercise and nutrition is finding something that is sustainable. Most of us don’t have 2-3 hours a day to spend working out (which, might I add, is how much most actors & actresses invest when prepping for a movie or bathing suit scene.)  The great thing about strength training is that it doesn’t take a lot. If you’re lifting heavy enough (5 pound dumbbells do not count), a maximum of 20 to 45 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week is all it should take to see and feel the changes.

Seriously, this little one likes to copy her mama during workouts. She weighs a whopping 33 pounds and even she uses a 4 pound kettlebell!

Seriously, this little one likes to copy her mama during workouts. She weighs a whopping 33 pounds and even she uses a 4 pound kettlebell!

So there you have it. Now I will add one caveat. If you are over the age of say, 25, you can do all the strength training (or cardio) in the world, but chances are you won’t see the results you want if you are not watching what you eat. Good nutrition is essential to any good fitness program. But that’s another post for another time. My hope for you readers is that you will understand more clearly why strength training is so beneficial & important for your body and why you don’t need to be afraid of it. The way I see it, with so many good reasons to strength train, why wouldn’t you???

Is Your Cardio Making You Fat?

Hi friends! Thanks for checking out my first ever blog post! My hope for this blog is simply to provide you all with some answers, encouragement, and inspiration to help you on your journey to becoming the sexy beast you’ve always dreamed of being. I’ve been a little nervous about starting this up, so I decided to start with one of the most common questions that I get.

For any of you who know me or have been following my page for a while, you know that I am a huge advocate of intervals. What many don’t know is I also used to be a huge runner. (Like 6 days a week, thought I would die if I missed a day, type runner.) So I love getting the question, why should I do intervals?

cardio boredom

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. At a glance, a person might not know which category to put this activity in, but try some out for yourself and you’ll figure out pretty quickly (if you’re doing them right) that intervals should be filed under the “Cardio” category. This is in contrast to what we call steady-state cardio where you move at the same pace for one longer chunk of time, like running.

You see, most people still think of running as the ultimate cardiovascular exercise. So when they want to get back in shape, it’s the first thing they go to. However, there are 2 big problems with this. First, running is an advanced exercise. I came across this quote a while back and it’s stuck with me ever since:

“You can’t run to get fit, you need to be fit to run.”

Here are a few fun facts for you: running is a plyometric exercise. Running one mile takes approximately 1500 steps. Running can produce forces 2-5 times your body weight per foot contact. Imagine, if you will, a new client comes to me wanting to get in shape, so I say, “Great! Why don’t we start with 1500 single-leg box jumps?” That client is gonna say, “Fool! You cray cray!” and is probably never coming back. (…if they’re smart anyways.)  -which is what most people do when they use running as a way to get back in shape. January 1, yeah baby, I’m gonna go run 5 miles! By January 14, everything hurts…so glad I didn’t join that running club! Here’s my point: most bodies cannot take the kind of repetitive stress and damage that running often creates.

The other big problem comes in only if your #1 goal is fat loss. The research is in, folks. The “fat-burning zone” is not as magical as we were led to believe. You see, your body is crazy smart. The more you hang out in this “magical” zone, the better your body gets at storing fat because it has become your body’s primary source of fuel. Your body is also super B.A. and will adapt pretty quickly to steady-state cardio, which in turn means you will burn less and less calories the more often you do it. (Depressing, and yet, kinda awesome all at the same time….)

When you perform short bouts of exercise at a very high intensity followed by lower-intensity exercise, your body is able to process lactic acid build-up, therefore reducing fatigue. This method allows your body to burn calories at a faster rate. Not only that, intervals also stimulate production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This means that intervals will kick your metabolism into hyper-drive thus causing your body to continue burning fat for the next 24 hours – unlike running (or any other steady-state cardio) in which your body will stop burning extra calories within 30 minutes of stopping. 

So to review, intervals will increase your metabolism and help you burn more overall calories. All of this and I haven’t even gotten to my favorite reasons to do intervals. Sweet sassy! BUT before all you runners out there start staging a coup, let me say this: I am not trying to make running out to be the enemy. Here’s what I tell my clients. If you love to run, then by all means, run. I still enjoy going for a run from time to time as well. Just know why you’re doing it. If fat loss is your goal, strength training and intervals should be priority. And be kind to your body. Work up to it by starting with a solid base of strength  first and, for heaven’s sake, stop when things start hurting and figure out what’s causing you pain.

Now without further ado, here are my top 2 reasons for why I do them, have my clients do them, and why you should add intervals to your workout routine:

1) They keep boredom at bay.  Intervals are fun because there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating an interval workout. First off, you can use just about anything you want…kettlebell, medicine ball, battling rope, jump rope, a bike or just your body weight. Anything that is going to get your heart rate up quickly will do. Second, you can use a set amount of time or a distance to determine how long you want to go. Sprint up the hill, walk back down. Go hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds or 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off OR 60 seconds of work and 40 seconds of rest. The interval world is your oyster. Have a little fun, would ya!

2) They are efficient. Ooo boy, do I LOVE when stuff is efficient! (Seriously, ask anybody who has ever ridden in a car with me!) These babies will not only burn more fat, but they’ll do it in less time! Most people don’t have time to add 30 minutes on the hamster wheel..ehem, I mean treadmill to their workout routines.  Try 4-15 minutes TOTAL. If you’re working it like you’re supposed to that should be plenty of time.

Bonus) They are awesome for your heart. Have I mentioned that interval training will make you better, stronger, and faster! (Did anyone else just have Kanye’s Stronger start running through their head? No? Just me? Aight.) That’s right runners. Changing it up will give your body a much needed break and work some other important, and most likely under-used, muscles in the process. Plus, pushing past your usual comfort zone will make you faster because intervals are awesome at improving your overall aerobic capacity. It’s a win-win-win! Huzzah!

explosive cardio

So here you are. You’ve read the article. You feel like you are seeing clearly for the first time in ages and are pumped to try it out! First off, you’re gonna need a clock where you can clearly see the second hand or an interval timer. My personal favorite is the Gymboss. You can check that out on Amazon. However there’s also this really cool app on the iPhone called Seconds Pro that will do the same thing for around $4.99, I believe.

Here are a few of my fave ways to do intervals…..

*Pick an exercise and rep range. Let’s say 15 swings or for those without a kettlebell, 8-10 burpees. For 10 minutes, at the top of each minute you will do your chosen exercise and then rest for the rest of the minute. 10 minutes and you’re done…in more ways than one. :)

*Tabata style: 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest. 8 times through. Alternate between body weight squats and mountain climbers. Boom. 4 MINUTES TOTAL.

*And a more advanced one for my runner friends out there: hill sprints. No timer required. Find a hill. Sprint to the top. Walk back down. Repeat 10 times. Thank me later.

So try these out and let me know what you think! Remember be kind to your body and have some fun with it!