Fit Friday: Amazing Arms and Shoulders

If you are time challenged like I am, you appreciate a workout that does it all. Because I spend a lot of my available training time running, I need a workout that can work my total body in a functional way, challenge my core, balance the strength in my legs without overdoing it, and, as the title suggests, create amazing arms and shoulders.

Fit Friday

I created this workout because I feel that sometimes when I’m doing total body workouts on a regular basis, I don’t have the time to give my arms and shoulders the special focus they need to have the definition that I like. In this workout, you will not only complete two exercises each for biceps, triceps, and shoulders, you will also do some compound functional exercises that will work your entire upper body. Throw in two types of squats, some balance, and you’ve got a workout that has it all.

Ball-Workout

Total Body Circuit Workout with Special Focus on Amazing Arms and Shoulders

For each arm exercise, choose a weight that challenges you while allowing you to complete all repetitions with good form.

Push Ups with Feet on the Stability Ball: Assume start position by placing stability ball under the front of legs. Note: the lower the position of the ball on your legs, the more challenging the exercise. With arms slightly wider than shoulder width, bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor. Press up, straightening elbows, to your starting position.

Bicep Curls, Seated on Stability Ball: Sit on the ball, with special attention to your posture. Sit tall, pulling your shoulder blades together, holding the dumbbells in each hand, with your palms facing in. As you do your curl, gradually rotate your wrists so that your palm faces your shoulder at the top of the movement. Return to your starting position without moving your upper arms or swinging the weights.

Lying Triceps Extension, Bridge Position on the Ball: Roll down on the ball until your head rests level. Lift your hips so that you are in a bridge position. Contract your glutes and your abdominals throughout the set. Hold dumbbells above your head, palms facing in, arms straight. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows, lowering the weights behind your head. Return to the starting position.

Squat with Lateral Shoulder Raise: Stand with your feet hip width apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bend your knees into a squat, keeping your abdominals contracted, your spine neutral and your chest up. As you rise, lift your arms to shoulder height, keeping your elbows straight but not locked. Return your arms to your sides as you lower into your next squat.

Crunch on Stability Ball: Sit on the ball then roll down so that the ball supports the small of our back. If you choose, you may use a medicine ball for a resistance, or use your hands to lightly support your head and neck. Contract your abdominals as you exhale lifting your shoulders several inches above the ball. Return to the starting position. Note: You will get a better workout if you stop slightly short of a “resting” position between each repetition. This will keep the tension on the abdominal muscles and make the exercise more challenging.

Bent Over Row, Standing on the Right Leg: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, shift your right into your right leg. The knee is bent slightly as you bend over at the hips, letting your left leg extend behind to counterbalance. Keep your spine neutral. Bend your elbows to lift the weights, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly straighten your elbows. Try to maintain the balance for the set. You may keep the back foot on the ground for better balance. Note: It helps if you find a focal point and keep your head still while completing this exercise.

Reverse Fly, Standing on the Left Leg: Start as above, on the left leg. This time you will keep your elbows straight but not locked as you lift the weights to shoulder height. Slowly bring them back down for each repetition.

Triceps Pushups: At a wall, hold the stability ball with your hands and arms close together. Your elbows are straight, and your arms are parallel to the ground. Walk your feet back slightly so. The farther back your feet the more challenging the exercise. Keeping your spine neutral, bend your elbows, keeping them close together as you do so. Allow your heels to come naturally off the floor as you lower your body. Straighten your elbows to the starting position.

Wide Leg Squat with Bicep Curls: Stand with legs wider that shoulder width, toes pointing out slightly, holding a dumbbell in each hand, at your side, palm up. As you bend your knees into a squat, bend your elbows into a bicep curl. Straight your knees and elbows back to your starting position.

Twisting Crunch on Ball: Perform the crunch as above, this time alternating twisting from side to side as you lift your shoulders. The medicine ball is optional.

You can perform this workout two or three days a week, or throw it in once a week or so for some variety to your total body workouts. If you have any questions about the exercises, please ask in the comments. I hope you enjoy it!

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

FitnessFridayRev3

Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

How do you fit strength training into your busy schedule?

Fit Friday: For the Core

I’m excited to bring back one of my favorite series, Fit Friday. Recently I have felt that I’ve moved away from fitness posts by focusing more on running. I want to get back to my roots though, so, while there still may be a running workout on Fridays from time to time, you will generally find some type of strength workout. I introduce you to Fit Friday #1: For the Core.

Fit Friday

Here’s a quick core workout that will get your weekend started right.

For the Core

With all core exercises it is important that you focus on tightening and bracing your abdominal muscles for the most effective workout. Pull up your belly, brace like you’re preparing to be punched, and make sure you continue to breathe. There, now you’re ready.

Note: While the instructions say to perform each exercise for one minute, you should only do it as long as you can keep good form. So, if that is only 30 seconds at first or even less, that’s great. Work at it, get stronger, and before you know it you’ll be sailing along for a minute.

1. Plank with Alternating Knee to Elbow: Start in a high plank position, making sure that your shoulders are directly over your wrists and that your spine and hips are aligned. Inhale, then exhale as you bring your left knee to touch your left elbow. Hold for 2 seconds. Return to starting position then repeat with the right knee. Continue alternating knees for one minute. Modification: Put your knees down in your plank position.

Plank Altnernating Knee

2. One Leg Deadlift: Stand with your weight on your right leg. Start to bend forward at the hip, keeping your right leg straight and your spine neutral. Extend your left leg behind you with the knee straight. It should stay in alignment with your body throughout the movement. Lower until you’re about parallel with the ground. Slowly return to your starting position. Do all the repetitions on your right leg for a minute, then repeat on the left side. To increase the challenge: Hold a kettlebell in one or both hands.

One Leg Deadlift

3. Side Plank with Hip Dip: Assume a forearm side plank position. Make sure that your shoulder is above your elbow, your hips and legs are stacked. Hold the opposite arm in the air. Without losing form, lower hip to the mat. Return to your starting position. Repeat for one minute, then switch sides. Modification: Keep lower leg on the floor.

Side Plank

4. Supine Toe Taps: Lie on your back with your legs in a tabletop position (hips and knees bent at 90 degrees). Tilt your pelvis slightly and push your back into the mat. Slowly lower one leg and tap the toe on the mat. Return to starting position then lower the other leg. Alternate legs for one minute, keeping your back pressed down for the whole set.

Supine Toe Taps

5. Bicycles: The old fashioned bicycle crunch is still a great exercise if it’s done correctly. Lie on your back with your hands lightly supporting your head. Bring your right knee to your left elbow, then your left knee to your right elbow. Take it slow and don’t pull your head to reach higher.

Bicycles

6. Russian Twist: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Keep your back straight and lean back slightly until you feel your abs engage. Hold your hand out in front of you. Twist to the right and touch your hands to the ground (if you can without rounding your back. If not, just go as far as you can). Then twist to the left. Alternate for one minute. To Advance: Hold a medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands as your perform the exercise.

Russian Twist

7. Sliding Pike: This exercise should be done on a wooden or laminate floor (see below for variations). Start in a high plank position with your feet on a blanket or large towel. Using your abdominal muscles, draw your legs in, keeping your knees and spine straight as you move into a “Pike” position (inverted V). Return to your starting position. Repeat for one minute. Modification: Allow your knees to bend as you draw your legs in. Variation: This exercise can be done with your feet on a stability ball or sliders.

Sliding Plank

8. Leg Lowers: Lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air. As you engage your abdominal muscles, press your back into the mat. Lower your legs only as far as you can without losing form or lifting your back. This is important. Hold for two seconds then return to the starting position. Repeat for one minute. Modification: Keep your knees slightly bent and use a smaller range of motion when you lower your legs. Don’t do this exercise if it causes back discomfort or pain.

Leg Lowers

This workout should take about 10 minutes. You can complete one set or, if you have more time, repeat the workout for a killer core workout. Enjoy.

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

FitnessFridayRev3

Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

What is your favorite core exercise?

A Few WTF Moments and My Training Recap

I’m not sure if WTF moments is the right term, but a few things this week have given me pause.

First though, if you’re a local or visitor to the Palm Springs area, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $150 gift certificate and a bottle of wine at Mitch’s on El Paseo! It’s really a great prize. Enter here.

Mitch'sInstagram

WTF Moments

Here’s the weirdest: I got a notification a few days ago that the woman who is responsible for me losing my job wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn. Talk about a WTF moment. Seriously, this woman, who was not my boss, and theoretically had no rights as far as hiring and firing, wants to connect. I really want to ask her, “what the hell are you thinking?” So far I’ve just ignored the request.

Alan, my husband and Cat Rescuer (as well as Dog and Calf), feeds the feral cats in the neighborhood, as you may know. Recently he has been working with a charitable organization to get all of the cats spayed or neutered and so far has done about 25 cats. There are always a few that seem to be uncatchable though, and one of those just had kittens the other night. She was very young and didn’t know how to care for them, so after dropping them in the street, she basically abandoned them. Alan tried to feed them, but they were just too young. Sadly, all three died.

Okay, hold on for the WTF moment. The cat gave birth on April 1. The third cat died by early on April 3. On Sunday, April 5, she gave birth to two more kittens. At last look, she was tending to them as a new mother should.

kitten

Another kitten from a few years ago (he survived).

It’s only three weeks until the SLO Marathon and I’m beginning to feel like my training is one big WTF moment. Or at least a what the hell am I doing moment. Details of my long run in my training recap below, but I felt the run was so hard, so painful (figuratively, not literally), and just so long, that I’m doubting my commitment to the race. I’ll probably follow my own advice and suck it up, but right now, well, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

Training Recap

My training plan took another hit this week when we lost a front desk receptionist as work. She just didn’t show up one day. My approach to work is that you do what you need to do to get the job done, so I offered to help out as necessary to get through the end of the season. I won’t lose any personal training time, but I’ll work some extra front desk time as needed. That turns out to mean that I’ll be opening two days a week, throwing my training schedule off yet again. I’m not thrilled about working at 5:30 twice a week, but what can you do? It cuts out my Monday workout, which I’m going to try to squeeze in on Tuesday.

I’m so glad we’re three weeks and counting down until the race.

On Wednesday I headed out alone to do a hill workout. My new training partner, my neighbor Christina, wasn’t feeling well, so I was on my own. It was still dark when I left the house, but I ran a loop around the neighborhood to give it time to get light enough to get out to the trails where I do my hill workout. Because of that I only had time for 10 repeats, but if you add on the 1.5 mile run up to the hill that works pretty nicely. I also used the 1.5 mile downhill home to practice a little downhill running. So I was pretty happy with the total workout.

Hills

On Saturday I was scheduled to run 22 miles. I wasn’t looking forward to it. The weather is heating up in the desert, and I knew I’d be running at least half of the run on my own. Christina’s a great running partner, but she’s a new runner, and has no need to run that far.

We planned for 5:30, but it was closer to 6:00 when we headed out. It was chilly, which was good. We took a loop of our neighborhood, then headed east toward the nice horse paths that are so great to run on. Our first stop was at about mile seven to use the bathroom and fill up our bottles. Then I headed part way back with Christina, with the thought that when I turned back around for my solo run, I’d have less mileage left to complete. Good idea, but it still left over 11 miles on my own.

Long Run

Clockwise from top left: My favorite watering station (they have an ice machine!), fueling with a Sun Warrior smoothie after the run, waiting for Alan to pick me up, just noticing how filthy my feet get after such a long run, and a look down one of the trails.

 

Running that far alone is really a mental game. Your body is tired and achy, and really just wants to stop and walk. It’s the mind that has to overcome that and keep on pushing through. Yes, I gave in and walked a few times, especially in the last few miles when I was exhausted, it was getting warm, and my exercise induced asthma started to give me problems. But I always managed to get going again, even if it was slow. I though about calling Alan, especially after I passed 20 miles. What’s another mile or two? But I didn’t. I stuck with it and completed my 22 miles. I am happy for that, but I’m still going through the mental conflicts I mentioned above.

Sunday was recovery/doggy run day. Just a few miles with lots of pee stops (for the dogs, not me I’m still dehydrated). My feet are a little sore. To be expected, but I’m spending some time with ice and my roller ball.

Other Stuff

We had a kids’ camp at work this week, and we provide pizza for their lunch. The manager buys enough for all the staff too, but of course, I have my special needs. I was inspired to head to Whole Foods to pick up a slice of vegan pizza. They outdid themselves! This one is huge, has BBQ Beyond Meat chicken, plus a ton of veggies and Daiya cheese. I needed to use two hands to pick it up. Nice job, Whole Foods!

PizzaHow was your week? Any races, training, or other special moments to share? Any WTF moments?

Pin It Party V7

pin-it-party

It’s that time again! Another Pin It Party is coming at you! Lindsay, over at the Lean Green Bean, I, and a lot of other bloggers will be sharing some of our favorite pinnable posts from the last few months! Make sure to check out Lindsay’s post, where you will also find a list of all the participating bloggers, and start reading (and pinning) away! While you’re at it, why don’t you follow me on Pinterest! Party on!

Train Smarter: 5 Ways to PR Running 3 Days a Week

Race PRHave limited time? Don’t we all? Here are some tips to get that PR running three days a week.

12 Running Myths You May Still Believe

Running MythsDo you still think running is bad for your knees? It’s time to banish this and other running myths.

Vegan “Tuna” Salad with Jackfruit, Avocado and Quinoa

Jackfruit Tuna 4Have you tried Jackfruit? It is sometimes called the Vegetable Meat, and is a delicious, non-processed, meat alternative. Here is an easy Tuna-less salad to try.

Indian Lentil Cakes with Cucumber Mint Raita

Lentil Cakes7These Lentil cakes are delicious and easy to make. And the riata is out of this world!

The Top 5 Marathon Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Marathon MistakesWhether you’re training for your first or your 50th, here are some potential mistakes to avoid in your next marathon.

If you missed the previous Pin It Parties, and want to check out the favorite posts that I shared, here they are:

Pin It Party 1
Pin It Party 2
Pin It Party 3
Pin It Party 4
Pin It Party 5
Pin It Party 6

I hope you found something worth pinning (and reading) today! There is still time to join the party! Here is the link to Lindsay’s original post with directions and the Pin Party graphic. Then you can join the party and share your own link here. Or you can share one of your favorite posts in the comments.

So You Say You Hate Exercise

Time for a little tough love.

I didn’t become a personal trainer for the huge amount of money I could make. Not for the fame and glory that I could achieve. Nope, I became a personal trainer because I believe in fitness. How much better our lives are if we exercise.

Which is good because there hasn’t been a whole lot of money, fame, or glory involved. But I do know I’ve changed a few lives, so that’s a pretty good trade-off.

There is one thing I’ve grown pretty tired of hearing though, not just from (a few) of my clients, but from non-exercisers in general. The random people who come to the gym, friends of clients, even other bloggers (!). They will walk in, look disdainfully around at the equipment, the members sweating, the trainers demonstrating, and say, often haughtily (like this makes them special in some way), “I hate exercise.”

I used to consider this a challenge. I could take this person, create a program for them, find something that they do enjoy, and they would become lifelong exercisers. Barring that, I could at least make them like me enough to enjoy the time we spent together training.

The problem with the former goal is that it rarely happens. They stick to a program for a while, complain a lot, start to find excuses, then disappear from the face of the earth the gym forever. Or at least until next New Years.

The latter solution isn’t perfect either. There is a large segment of the population who won’t hire a personal trainer, so I’m missing a large part of the target audience. And while I do have a few clients who train with me because they enjoy my company, they would rather chat than work out, and they are terrible at adhering to the other parts of a fitness program normally done on one’s own, like cardio and proper nutrition.

I’m tired of sugarcoating exercise, of trying to make everyone happy, of spending my valuable time convincing you to enjoy doing something that will make you feel better, live longer, play stronger, and generally have a better life. So, to that end my new mantra is…

Buttercup

Suck it Up, Buttercup

Who ever said that everything that you do in life had to be fun? We, all of us, do many things daily that we don’t really enjoy. Do you like brushing your teeth? Cleaning the litter box? Scrubbing the toilet? Do you do it? Yes, because not to do it would leave you in a stinky place.

Even if you enjoy your job, you don’t always like it. But you do it because, you know, money. You clean your house, mow your lawn, help your kid with homework you may not understand yourself. Fun? Not really.

You do all of these things because, well, you have to, need to, are compelled to, whatever. For the most part, you don’t do them because you like them. You may even hate them.

If you spend a half hour three days a week lifting weights, or some other form of strength building exercise, and take a little time for a walk most days of the week, you can receive benefits way beyond having a clean litter box. You can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. You can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and osteoporosis. You can avoid the pain of many joint diseases, improve your balance and posture, and general overall health. You will feel better. You will look better.

look better

All of this for only two or three hours a week. Many people spend that much time a night watching television.

So suck it up, buttercup. Just get out there and do it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. You need it. It’s important. There are many resources available if you are new to exercise and need a little help getting started. You can contact me if you have question, either in the comments or from my contact page.

Who knows. You might even begin to like it. A little.

Love your health

 

To all my regular readers. You probably realize that I’m not speaking to you. I know that most of you either love to work out or have come to terms with its importance. But, you may have, as I do, friends, acquaintances, family, that sprinkle the “I hate exercise” line into your regular conversations. Now you have something to answer with.

Lucky Me! And SLO Marathon Training Update (one month out!)

Winner Winner, (vegan) Chicken Dinner

Have I mentioned how lucky I’ve been lately? Oh yeah, I may have mentioned it. Since December I’ve been entering and winning a lot of giveaways. And I’ve won some really cool things. Like my Blendtec Designer 725 (from Fitfluential). I also won a $100 Lululemon gift card from Fitfluential. I won a pair of Injinji socks and Croc shoes from Katie (in two separate giveaways!), a pretty headband from Sparkly Soul, and an Unplugged t-shirt from Jenn. Not to mention that I found $20 on the street a few weeks ago!

Well, the luck continues. Last week I received a package from NuNaturals that I one from Jody (the second time I won that from her! They’re keeping me stocked up.), and I received this from Influenster (not a giveaway, but I guess I won it from among the participants in a marketing program):

Influenster2

This was a complete and very fun surprise.

NuStevia

Five Weeks Until the SLO Marathon!

Yikes! That happened fast. The SLO Marathon is just a little over a month away! I feel like I’ll be ready, even though my training has not been quite as intense as I’d planned. My weekday training suffered because I frequently have to work at 7:00, so I’m just not getting the mid-week mileage that I’d hoped for. Especially now that Daylight Savings Time has started. I’m not comfortable running in the dark (here’s why), so I usually have to cut my runs short.

I have managed to get in my long runs according to schedule, so that’s good. And I usually manage at least one speed or hill workout during the week, even if it is a bit shorter than I’d like. That being said, I finally got my total mileage up over 30 miles for the first time this training cycle. Woohoo!

Running for the week:

Tuesday: 2.5 miles easy. I had to be at work early, but Alan ran with me so I could get out early.
Wednesday: 6.5 miles with two miles at tempo/LT pace (which was around 9:15 per mile). I ran with Christina, my neighbor, so we got out early enough that we could get our run in and I could be at work by 8:00.
Saturday: 20 miles. Yes, I got it done!
Sunday: 4 miles. Recovery run. It also put me over 30 for the week (33 to be exact).

So, for the long run, I started off running with Christina. Alan’s hamstring was bothering him, so he took the day off. We took off from a park about a mile from our house. Because we were getting a late start (again!), I took off forgetting my water bottle and didn’t remember until about a half mile into the run. I’d left it on the curb at the park, wasn’t sure if Alan would see it, so Christina and I turned around to retrieve it. Before we got there though, Alan pulled up, with my bottle, so we turned back around. I also stumbled and almost fell on a sidewalk crack, but fortunately I caught my balance before I went all the way down.

Christina planned to run 10, so I ran with her to her turnaround point, then ran back about two miles. I felt that this would cut down on how far out I would have to run by myself. We live in a wonderful area that has little traffic and horse trails, but the downside is that it can get a little desolate if you run out about 10 miles or so. This way I stayed closer to home, I passed my favorite fire station (and water stop) three times, and it just generally felt safer.

WRW6

All went well on the run, though 20 miles is a freaking long way. And hard! Speaking of hard, I was almost done, only about a tenth of a mile from finishing, when I stumbled over that same crack in the sidewalk! This time I went down, flat on my face. Still, my first emotion was embarrassment, so obviously I wasn’t too badly hurt. I did manage to bang up my knee, hand, and even hit my face, but fortunately that was a light hit. The fall (or my emotion about the fall) also brought up my exercise induced asthma, but a couple quick puffs on my inhaler suppressed that. And yes, I did run that last bit (.08 mile to be exact, anal about mileage as I am).

WRW8

On Sunday Alan was announcing the Running Wild for Hope 5k in Palm Springs. I had no intention of actually racing, but I do like to go along to see running friends that I haven’t seen for a while, even if it means waking up at 3:30 on a Sunday morning (I repeat, sometimes running is hard). I ran a slow, four mile recovery run while the race was going on, including a mile with my former LA Marathon bestie, while she warmed up for the race.

Race Pictures 001

Linda and I managed to finish the 2000 LA Marathon in 3:33 in spite of pouring rain and 40 degree temps. We wore our trash bags for the whole race!

WWRI took a quick nap (Alan gets to the race early!), then, after a mile with Linda, ran another three on my own. Slowly. My PRO Compression sleeves are my friends. I usually wear them for about two days after a tough run or race.

WRW3

WRW2You can see the wound (which sounds too dramatic, but “owie” doesn’t look right) on my knee (the bandage didn’t last long there). It felt okay though.

As I mentioned, there are only five weeks left until the SLO Marathon on April 26. That means three weeks of training really, then a two week taper. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can still save $10 with my code: WOODAMB.  It will be beautiful in San Luis Obispo, something I’m looking forward to since it’s already getting hot in the desert.

Skulpt Aim

As I mentioned last week, I’ve had an opportunity to try out the Skult Aim. I wasn’t very happy about my initial readings, so that has encouraged be to get back to a little weight training. I’ve been practicing yoga a couple times a week, Pilates maybe once, so I hope to add some traditional strength training twice a week or so. Gotta bring those numbers down!

skulpt 2Yes, I’m showing my best reading in the picture above. That is my quadriceps measurement. My biceps, triceps and abs need a little work. So I did get in two upper body strength workouts last week. It’s actually pretty easy, since I work in a gym, and there is always a little time to get in a quick workout. I’ll be tracking my results over the next few weeks and we’ll see how those reading change.

So, that’s my week. How is your training going? Any events, races, or competitions?