Fit Friday: TRX Circuit Workout

It’s TGIFF! Thank Goodness it’s Fit Friday!

Here’s a fun TRX circuit workout to try! The exercises are beginner to intermediate level, but it is still very challenging. Here is a great resource for instructions for most of the exercises.

TRX WorkoutWarm up for about 10 minutes before starting the workout. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, then move on quickly to the next one in the round. For exercises like lunges, do 45 seconds on each side. When you’ve finished all the exercises in a round, repeat them before moving on to the next round (if you are time challenged once through each round will still be a great workout!). Take a minute break between rounds.

Be sure to use good form for each exercise and keep your core engaged throughout. And remember, I’m a personal trainer, but I’m not your personal trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

TRX workouts are great for all levels. They provide a challenging and functional workout, are portable so you can do your workout almost anywhere, and basically make every exercise a core exercise. It is also fun and adds great variety to your regular workout.

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

FitnessFridayRev3Have you done a TRX workout? What did you think?

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?

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

Personal Record. PR. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? For many runners, setting a personal best time in a race is their ultimate goal. It also may seem unattainable, requiring hours and days of training that just aren’t possible for some athletes. While running five or six days a week may seem the ideal way to train hard enough to set a PR, there are many reasons why that may not be possible or even desirable.

Race Finish

Time

There never seems to be enough, does there? Whether you work full time, raise children, go to school, or do all three, time is always at a premium.  We’re so busy getting the important things done that there is rarely enough time to devote to less vital projects.

Even if you have made fitness a priority and found the time to fit it in, it may be difficult to devote as much time as you like to improving your performance. If you’re a runner, this lack of time might make you feel like you are destined to “just finish” the events in which you participate. That you can’t run faster, place higher, or set a personal record, because, well, you don’t have time to train.

Injuries

Injuries, or being injury-prone, is another factor that can limit your training time. Obviously, you should not be training for a PR while you’re injured, but as you recover, training smarter, on fewer days a week, can help you avoid further injury.

Aging

Unfortunately, it happens eventually to all of us, no matter how fast, no matter how strong: we all get older. Suddenly, the body that allowed us to run five, six, or even seven days a week starts to break down at that level. It doesn’t have to mean the end of our training though. We just need to learn to train smarter.

Train Smarter, Not Harder

Race PR

Whether it is time, injury, or getting older that seems to be interfering with your racing goals, there is some hope out there.  Training smarter means making the most of the time that you have. And don’t think that you won’t be training hard, despite the title. You just won’t be wasting time with training that will not help you reach your goal. Yes, you will be working hard, but it will be focused and deliberate, not random and excessive, and will help you make the most of your time, and stay healthy and injury free.

1. Key Workouts Any race training program has several key workouts each week. These are the workouts that will adapt your body to running faster and longer. Generally speaking, the other runs during the week are not essential. These recovery runs are just that, designed for recovery, which can easily be switched out for training that fits better into your schedule or that will cause less trauma to your body. These key workouts are:

  1. VO2 Max training, usually faster intervals on a track or road.
  2. Lactate Threshold training, also called Tempo training, frequently done on the road.
  3. Long run. Depending on your race goal, one day a week should be focused on gradually increasing the distance that you run.

Here are three workouts that will help you reach your goal.

2. Build a Base Even a three day a week program needs a solid base. Before you begin the training described above, spend four to six weeks building your endurance. Each run is completed at an easy to moderate pace, and the distance increased by about 10% per day/week. This is important, a building block on which to create your training plan.

3. Coordinated Cross Training In order to replace running days, coordinated cross training will provide the benefits of a recovery run without the pounding and training time required. An easy bike ride, walk, or a swim is a good replacement, and will allow your body to rest and prepare for the next running workout. A strength workout is also helpful to strengthen and balance your muscles and that, along with flexibility training, will help you avoid injury.

4. Rest Well Rest not only means taking your recovery time, but also sleeping well. Sleep is vital to improving your performance, enhancing recovery, and boosting your mental outlook.

5. If you can, add a fourth day Yes, you can reach your goals on three days a week. But, if you’re training for longer distances, like a half or full marathon, you will benefit from an extra day on the road. It can be an easy day, but should increase to medium long length as your training progresses. Running longer distances requires your body to adapt to more mileage, so that fourth day will really help.

Race Start

While the ideal scenario for training is a schedule and body that allows you to train five or six days a week, it is possible to train smarter and achieve your goal of setting a new personal record by running three days a week.

How many days a week do your run? Do you make the best use of your training time? Do you include cross training?

 


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A Multi Purpose Speed Workout

As most runners know, doing some kind of speed training can really help your race times improve.  Interval training can improve your VO2 Max, increase your lactate threshold, correct your form, and is an important part of your strategy to improve your overall running performance.

Many speed workouts are goal specific. Generally speaking, your speed training for a 5k will not look the same as for a marathon. Different distances have different physiological requirements, and focusing on the workout that will help you achieve your goal is important.

The beauty of this workout is, that while it is most specific to race distances of 5-15k, it has benefits for any distance, even the marathon. This workout will teach a) Acceleration, b) Sustaining Race Pace, and c) Improve your finishing kick. All within a simple 600 meter track interval.

The Speed Workout

You will be running 6-10 600 meter intervals. This workout is best performed on a track.  Six hundred meters is one and a half times around the track. Warm up for at least one mile (four laps). Perform a few drills, like skips, high knees, butt kicks. Find a measurable starting point, so that you can clearly measure out 200 meters. Each interval is divided into three equal parts:

Part 1 (200 meters): Accelerate. As you start running, you want to quickly accelerate to your race pace (this will depend on your goals). You don’t want to exceed your pace, just find that point and that effort level, that you can sustain for your race distance.

Part 2 (200 meters): Sustain. Now that you’ve reached it, hold that pace for the next 200 meters. It should feel hard, but you should be able to maintain the pace for the entire distance.

Part 3 (200 meters): Kick. This is the point where you are going to finish strong. As you accelerate toward an imaginary finish line, visualize the people you can pass as you speed to the finish. Your stride should be relaxed and naturally long, your arms should be pumping, and your feet should feel light. Run all the way through the finish before decelerating.

Recover: Walk/Jog the 200 meters back to your starting point.

Multi Purpose Workout

Striving for Balance: The Workout

Balance

I sometimes feel like I rush through my life on a tightrope with plates on my head and balls in the air. Excuse my mixed metaphor, but if you think about it (or picture it), it becomes quite clear. I work my (very) full time job, until two weeks ago I also carried two extra clients twice a week. I write this blog, and try to keep up with all the commitments and needs that go along with blogging. I run and now I’m training for a marathon. I try to work out and practice yoga. I care for my pets. And of course, I have a husband to think about, meals to cook, a home to clean.

Basically just like everyone else.

While some may say balance is overrated, I feel that if I could just balance my priorities a little better I wouldn’t be in danger of falling off that tightrope or dropping those dishes.

But then again, I’m happy. My husband is happy. And my dogs are definitely happy. So I guess I’m doing something right. Maybe this balance thing is overrated. Oh, I just said that, didn’t I?

While balance in your life may be important (or not), balance in your body is vital. Imbalance between muscles can lead to decreased performance and injury. General lack of balance can cause falls, which can also lead to injury.

The Striving for Balance Workout

The Striving for Balance workout addresses both your physical balance and your muscular balance. Several exercises are done standing on one foot while moving through a range of motion. Others are done unilaterally, one side at a time, which helps to equalize and balance strength. It is a total body workout, and strengthens all of your major muscles groups, thus creating balance.

Strive for Balance

One Arm Chest Press

Work ItKeep your core stable as you perform the movement. Do all the repetitions on one side then repeat on the other.

One Legged Bent Over Row

Work It 4Stabilize your core and keep your spine neutral. Make sure to alternate legs on each set.

Reverse Lunge with Balance

Work It 6Pause and hold your balance for a moment at the top of the movement. This is a reverse lunge, so you are stepping back into the lunge, then bringing the back leg forward and raising your knee. Do all the repetitions on one side, then repeat on the other.

Plank on Medicine Ball

Place both hands on a medicine ball and move into a high plank position. Hold for as long as you can.

One Legged Bicep Curls

Work It 3You can hold your knee up or just lift your foot a few inches above the ground. Stand tall and pull your shoulder blades together. Remember to change legs on each set.

One Arm Lying Triceps Extension

Work It 2Keep your core stable as you do the exercise. Do all the repetitions on one side then repeat on the other.

Medicine Ball Swing

Work It 5Keep your spine long and your chest up as you sit into your squat. Swing the ball up as you straighten your legs.

Side Plank

PlankOld picture, but you get the idea. The side plank can also be done on your forearms. Be sure to do both sides! (If you want the entire Plank Variations video, click here)

Do you work on balance in your fitness program? What’s your favorite balance move?

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