03-01-2017

My Favorite Foam Rolling Exercises + How-To Video

Do you foam roll? Be honest…because I really should do it more too lol

When I would go to my physical therapist, the first thing we did in our sessions was foam roll. Before he would even do any sort of manual therapy, I had to foam roll. And he’d always stress the importance of foam rolling before runs and exercising.

Make sure you're doing these foam rolling exercises! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Here are a few reasons you should start foam rolling regularly:

  • It reduces muscle soreness. Foam rolling works by massaging away fascia buildup in your muscles, which often lead to painful, sore muscles. Less soreness means less of a chance you’ll skip your workout the next day.
  • It helps prevent injuries. By foam rolling before and after a run, you’re alleviating tight muscles and knots. Think of it as a deep tissue massage. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford a weekly deep tissue massage. Foam rolling can be a pain in the butt (pun intended), but it’s worth it to prevent nagging injuries.
  • It can increase flexibility. I like this paragraph from Breaking Muscle:

Deep compression helps to break up or relax tight muscles and adhesions formed between muscle layers and their surroundings. Imagine you are tenderizing your own muscles. They should be soft and supple like a baby’s muscles. However, if our muscles are not taken care of properly we can experience loss of flexibility, adhesions, and painful movement.

The deep compression of self-myofascial release allows normal blood flow to return and the restoration of healthy tissue. 

I haven’t been able to run or exercises in about a month and a half, so when I got on my foam roller for this video it was painful! Check out my video below for my favorite exercises which hit the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, peroneals, and IT band.

How often do you foam roll? What’s your favorite exercise? I love to roll my glutes!

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02-08-2017

My Favorite Stretching Exercises

Hi all – long time no see (chat?)!

If you follow me on Instagram (@pattyrivas13), you’ve seen I’ve been sharing some of my favorite stretches. Well, I wanted to share them here as well and talk a bit about the benefits of stretching.

Try these stretching exercises!

Re-Energize

Even if you don’t have time for a full yoga class, doing a few stretches at your desk can help increase circulation, and give you an all-natural boost of energy. (Here’s an article I found: The 5 Best Stretches For Desk Sitters)

You can also do a few gentle stretches when you wake up. I like a cross-legged seated twist or forward fold. 

Increase Range of Motion

My mom does not want to do yoga, even though she’s the most stiff person in the world. I keep telling her to do it, but she doubts that at her age she will get more flexible. This is just not true! Even with sporadic yoga classes and stretching after runs, my flexibility has increased tons over the years. Granted, I’m not like those yogis you see on Instagram, but I’m proud that I can now go all the way down in pigeon pose.

Doing stretches daily after runs, when you’re warm, will help increase flexibility and range of motion. Better range of motion = better mobility = less change of injury. When my PT started giving my exercises to increase my ankle and calf range of motion, it greatly helped my shin splint situation.

Relax The Mind

Doing a few stretches before bed can help you to relax your mind and de-stress. Just like you started the day with gentle stretching, you can end it with gentle stretching as well. Focus on each muscle you’re stretching, and then end with a good savasana/corpse pose :) Or, an exercise I like is to lay down, tense up a muscle group (let’s say your quads), and then release. Really focus on how your muscles are feeling, and releasing all of that tension. Start with your toes and move all the way up to your face.

Cool Down

Lastly, stretching is extremely important after workouts. Stretching and foam rolling (stay tuned for a foam rolling video coming this week). First foam roll, then stretch.

The videos I posted so far on my Instagram are all stretches I do on a daily basis post-exercise. Even if you only do 2-3 stretches afte a run…it’s better than nothing. And if you have to choose one, definitely go with pigeon pose!

Here are some stretches I’ve posted so far – make sure to follow me for a daily stretch through the month of February!

 

A video posted by Patty Rivas (@pattyrivas13) on

This one is an amazing quad and hip flexor stretch. Make it more challenging by putting your back foot on a swiss ball.  

 

A video posted by Patty Rivas (@pattyrivas13) on

This one is a great stretch for your inner thighs. Rock back and forth for a good dynamic stretch.

 

A video posted by Patty Rivas (@pattyrivas13) on

Pigeon pose is my absolute favorite! If you aren’t yet at this level, keep an eye out on my Instagram later today for a modification. This is an amazing glute stretch and hip opener.

If you don’t stretch, I urge you to do just a few stretches after your exercises. You’ll feel better, and it’s a great way to cool the body down after a hard workout. 

Next, I’ll be talking about foam rolling and including a handy video :-) Stay tuned!

How often do you stretch?

What are your go-to stretches if you had to pick 2?

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12-16-2016

Fitness Vlogs – I’ve Been Loving Vlogmas!

For those of you who haven’t been following me (or other vloggers) on YouTube, you might have heard about Vlogmas. It’s a vlog (video) each day until Christmas. I figured I’d try it out since I’m trying to get back into YouTube, but honestly figured I wouldn’t last haha.

But I’ve actually been having fun with it! It’s been fun to film my days and document things. I decided to throw in some fitness/running related stuff in there too. Which are the ones I wanted to share with you today. If you haven’t seen them yet, here are a few that might be of interest!

My Leg Day Workout

This one was from yesterday. Short video but showed me current leg day workout that I’ve been doing with my sister. My legs were so sore yesterday!

My Favorite Running Bloggers & Running Websites

Shoutout to some of my favorite bloggers! If you need some running inspiration, check out the websites I mentioned:

Here are links to the sites:

Courtney : http://eatprayrundc.com
Wendy : http://takethelongwayhome.com
Tina : http://tinamuir.com
http://runnersconnect.net
http://flotrack.org
http://strengthrunning.com

 

Taste Testing Halo Top Ice Cream

Omg how did I not know about Halo Top before this?? We tried out chocolate mocha chip and birthday cake:

What’s In My Fridge

My fridge is currently a mess but showed a few of my favorite things. Number 1 is definitely turkey Bubba Burgers!

Do you have a favorite vlogger on YouTube?

Any topics you’d like to see discussed on my channel? I think some of my next videos will have my foam rolling and stretching routine. Just got some resistance bands so might do a resistance band workout as well :)

Stay tuned!

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06-27-2016

Glute Strengthening Exercises Pt. 2

Now that marathon training has started, I really need to make sure to work on my glutes, especially my glute medius. I wrote a previous post (that somehow blew up on Pinterest) on strengthening your glute medius (and why it’s important).

Today I wanted to talk about some of my favorite glute exercises. I haven’t been strength training much, mainly because I have been balancing running, cycling and yoga. But I need to get back into the gym this week.

Your glutes are your powerhouse. When you’re running, you need strong glutes to push off the ground and give you, well, power. It’s not uncommon at all for runners, and most people in general, to have weak glutes from sitting all day and not really activating them. So here are a few exercises you can start incorporating into your routine. Plus, you can do them anywhere, either bodyweight or with dumbbells. So add a few reps and sets in after your runs and you’ll be on your way to buns of steel.

Here are my top 5 exercises to strengthen and grow your glutes! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Step-Ups

These are so easy to do anywhere! If you’re out for a run, you can find a park bench or table to use. If you’re at home, you can use a chair or your stairs. You want to make sure your form is right with these, and that you’re not using your back leg to bounce you up onto the step. Your back leg should stay completely straight, and you should focus on using your front let (the one on the box) to push you up. Here’s an example of someone using that back leg to power them up (which means your front leg and glute are working less):

It might take a little practice, which is why it’s good to start off with your bodyweight only, and then progress to adding dumbells. Here’s an excellent tutorial video:

Walking Lunges

Another one that can be done anywhere, with or without weights. If you have knee issues or knee pain, you may want to stay away from walking lunges. You can do do split squats (stationary lunge) or reverse lunges instead. You can also switch those up by elevating your front foot. Lots of options here.

With walking lunges, take a step forward and really focus on keeping your chest up and shoulders back. Lower your knee as low as it can go, and then switch. Do not force yourself to go lower than what is comfortable. You also want to make sure that your heel on the foot that is stepping forward is planted on the ground. If you step forward and your heel is up or you’re on the balls of your feet, it means you’re not taking big enough steps.

Hip Raises

Hip raises are probably my favorite exercise, mainly because I can lie down while doing it :-P

Did you know hip raises are more effective at growing your glutes than squats are? Start off with just body weight hip raises. Lay on your back with bent knees. Plant your feet and lift your hips up as high as you can. Squeeze your glutes as you lift and really focus on utilizing those muscles. You may feel this in your hamstrings and calves too. Hold at the top for about 2-3 seconds, lower and repeat. In order to see if you’re using your glutes and not your hip flexors, try doing a single leg hip raise with one knee bent. What I mean is, take one knee to your chest and hold it there with your arms. THEN, do a hip raise. You should really feel that in your glute. Once you get the hang of it, you can add a weighted plate or barbell on top of your hips in order to make the move more challenging. 

Bulgarian Split Squats

This is a more advanced exercise, and a variation on lunges. You can work up to this by doing reverse lunges with your back foot elevated on a small box or step. Eventually, you’ll be able to do it with your back foot on a bench. Here’s what it looks like (including good cues and common mistakes):

Remember to always keep your chest up and shoulders back. You don’t need to lower yourself all the way down if you can’t. Go until you can, and then come back up. Work your way lower and lower over time.

Back extensions

You will need a back extension machine for this one, or you can get creative and use the end of your couch or bed. I’ll show an example after I explain.

Doing back extensions on an incline back extension machine will target your hamstrings and glutes, maybe your calves too if they’re a little weak. If your lower back is weak, you’ll feel it in those muscles as well. Lower down all the way, then squeeze your glutes to lift yourself up. Be careful not to hyper-extend. See how he is in a straight line?

Photo source

If you want to add weight, hold a weighted plate to your chest to make it more challenging.

Start incorporating these exercises into your routine and not only will you have stronger glutes, you’ll be helping your body stay injury free. Writing this just motivated me to get my butt to the gym this week. Another thing I need to work on ASAP is my core strength. Please leave me your favorite core workouts below because core is my least favorite thing to do haha.

What is your favorite glute exercise? How often do you train your legs/glutes?

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05-04-2016

6 Basic Yoga Poses For Beginners

I went to a yoga class with my friend yesterday. It was a last minute decision, and since we were so rushed to get to class, I didn’t really get to fully explain the class or anything (it was her first yoga class ever). Afterwards she said she would have enjoyed it more if she knew the poses and didn’t feel totally clueless as to what the yoga teacher was talking about – which is totally understandable…and which is what led me to this post.

I wanted to highlight some of the basic yoga poses that are done in almost every yoga class, so that if you’ve never been to a yoga class before, you sort of know what to expect. You can also do a few online yoga videos before going, in order to feel more comfortable. 

The yoga instructor was super nice, and let her know that everyone starts somewhere – which is true of many things in the fitness world. So often we are intimidated or scared to start something…whether it’s going to yoga, or joining a running club, or going to the gym. No one was an expert the first time they showed up to any of these things.

So anyway, here are 6 basic yoga poses for beginners :)

6 Basic Yoga Poses To Know Before Your First Yoga Class! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Child’s Pose

I actually don’t really like this pose too much, but it’s a restorative pose, and one that we go into when we are taking a short break in between flows. You can go into child’s pose at any time during the class if you need a break. You can either do knees together or knees apart. I like to reach  my fingers out as far as possible, or you can rest your bands behind you by your feet.

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Low Push-up To Up Dog

Low push-up (or chaturanga) into up dog is part of almost every flow in a yoga class. If you’re not able to do a low push-up yet (like me) you can skip it and just go into downward facing dog, which I’ll talk about in a second. So here is low push-up:

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and from this pose you flow into upward facing dog:

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I have a really tough time with this flow because I can’t yet get low enough in low push-up, but I am working on it! Once you’re in upward dog, you will go right into downward facing dog usually, so I’ll talk about that next!

Downward Facing Dog

From up-dog, you curl your toes under and then basically stick your butt up into the sky. You want to maintain a flat back. If you need to bend your knees to keep your back flat, then do so. Your down-dog should look something like this, depending on your flexbility:

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If you need to modify it, it can look like this:

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This is also used as a break sometimes in between certain poses, or as the beginning of different flows (like downward dog into lunges, etc. which I’ll talk about in a second). Notice how their backs are flat and it is one straight line from their butt to the crown of their heads. That is key!

Warrior Poses

Warrior 1,2, and 3 are usually all done within a class. Definitely 1 and 2. So let’s go over them. Here’s Warrior 1, which is basically a lunge with your hands overhead:

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Basically, throughout any pose or sequence, you want to make sure your neck and spine are in a neutral position. You don’t want to be slouching or hunched over. I always like the cue “chest up, shoulders up.” Ok so moving on to Warrior 2…

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Something my yoga instructor has been saying a lot to me about this pose is to make sure your ribs don’t collapse. In this pose, many people tend to bend at the ribs, instead of getting deeper into the lunge. So as you lower down, keep your ribs and spine straight up. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t doing this until the instructor came over and straightened me out. Only bend at the knee – it is so challenging but such a great leg and glute exercise! And here’s the last one, Warrior 3:

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This woman makes it look easy! I have a lot of trouble in this pose (and any balancing pose haha). But definitely a great one, especially for runners. As always, spine and neck should be straight. Really engage your core and plant your foot down. If you fall out of it, no problem, just get back into it. In most classes I am always falling all over the place :-P

Triangle Pose

I’m not yet flexibile enough to do this pose without blocks – which is a good point to address: use blocks if you have to! There is no shame in that. They really help get you into certain poses. Most yoga studios provide them for you. If you’re unsure how to use them, you can as your instructor before class. For this specific pose, I put the block on the inside of my foot and place my hand on it for support, but those who are more flexible will be able to reach down to the floor. Always remember to hinge at the hip. My instructor says the first movement is, “reach out as if you’re going to shake someone’s hand” then keep reaching until you can’t reach anymore and THEN hinge at the hip and lower yourself down, keeping your spine straight. If it bends at all, then you need blocks. See how this woman’s torso is totally straight?

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Pigeon Pose

Ahhh, my favorite pose. I do this one after all of my runs. It’s a great hip opener and glute stretch. Let me show you a few different variations. So this is full on pigeon pose:

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You can also place your head on the floor, as long as your hips stay squared off (not leaning to one side). If this is too deep of a stretch for you, here are two modifications:

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Or you can lie on your back and do it this way:

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Pull your knee in and you will still feel just as much of a stretch. Build up to pigeon pose.

So hopefully outlining a few basic yoga poses will help you before you go to your first class! Don’t feel intimidated at all. Instructors are there to help you, align you and show you the right way to do each move. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask before or after class.

Oh and every yoga class ends with you laying on your back with your eyes closed and relaxing for a bit…so enjoy! :-)

What are your favorite yoga poses if you’re a yogi?

Have you ever gone to your first fitness class and felt clueless?

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03-21-2016

5 Yoga Tips For Beginners

Happy Monday! I know I haven’t been writing as often but things have been pretty hectic. But I will be trying to write more regularly this week.

Today I wanted to talk about yoga. Last week I went to yoga classes and I really want to try to keep going more often. I always prefer running or spinning to yoga but after I leave a yoga class I’m always thinking, “wow I really need to go more.”

I did have strength class last week with my sister and really loved it….and even learned how to do a variation of compass pose! I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do that at all.

My sister was kind of nervous to go to this class because she’s only done one or two yoga classes before. And that’s why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to give some insight to fellow newbie yogi’s since I am one as well. So here are a few tips and insight before you go to your first or one of your first few classes.

Just starting yoga? Here are 5 yoga tips for beginners! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Don’t Be Intimidated

It can be scary to go to a class thinking that you’ll be the only one who can’t do certain things or that you’ll be surrounded by super flexible people. And while you might be surrounded by super flexible people (like I am in my class) it’s totally OK. Yoga classes are so open and accepting and that’s why I really love them. No matter what your ability is, the instructor will help you and talk you through poses. My instructor was very hands-on and adjusting my feet making sure they were the right width apart along with showing me how to properly do exercises so I don’t get hurt. She also spoke with my sister and I after class about how to do certain things to aid our neck pain and wrist pain. Your yoga instructors should make you feel comfortable and excited to continue learning and practicing.

Be Ready To Sweat

While yoga might seem like this relaxing meditative thing (and obviously some classes can be), you should also be ready to sweat. We went through a flow in my strength yoga class that had me dripping in sweat all within just a few minutes. Make sure you bring water to your class along with a towel if you sweat a lot like I do. An extra towel on your yoga mat can also help with hand grip if your hands start sliding.

You Might Get Gassy

This might be a little TMI but gotta throw it out there. I asked Christine of Love, Live, Surf about this (she is a yoga instructor) and she assured me it’s totally normal. In yoga classes, since you’re doing a lot of twisting and inversions, you might start feeling a little bit gassy. And obviously that can be embarrassing. I really don’t have a solution to this but just know that it’s a possibility haha. Christine said that instructors really don’t think anything of it and my thorough Google searches confirms that. But obviously that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing!

Use Props

Props are there for a reason such as blocks blankets and straps. Don’t be afraid to use them. Those aren’t just for the more experienced yogi’s. Those props can help you get into poses and in better alignment during poses. For example, I still can’t do triangle pose, so I use a block so I’m able to get to where I can as opposed to forcing my body to stretch beyond its abilities.

You Can Always Go To Child’s Pose

Whenever you feel like you need a break or you’re not comfortable with a pose you can always go into child’s pose. Instructors encourage that and should remind you of that throughout the practice. I really love this because if I can’t do something or I’m just feeling tired, I will go into child’s pose for a few seconds to catch  my breath. Child’s pose is such a great restorative pose and something you should add to your regular routine as it is! I love doing it after runs.

I really do want to go to yoga classes more often and I need to make that commitment. I even ordered myself a Jade Yoga Mat! It’s a bit pricier than any yoga mat I have had but I love how grippy and cushioned it is.

So now I just need to actually make it to classes! My goal is 2 times a week. It’s just so hard balancing running, cycling, yoga and strength training. But I also know that if I am able to do all of these things now it will make me much stronger for when marathon training starts in July.

How do you balance multiple types of exercises during your half marathon or marathon training? Share your schedule with me please so I can get some ideas!

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02-11-2016

Watt Based Cycling Training

I’ve been taking a new class at Ride + Reflect called POWER Ride. It’s been awesome. I take it Thursday mornings and it is probably the best workout of my week.

What is watt-based cycling training and how can it help you get stronger and fitter (especially if you're a runner too)? | http://reach-yourpeak.com

This watt based cycling class is based around your wattage output. So if you go to spin classes, if the bikes have meters (I love Ride + Reflect’s Keiser bikes), you’re able to see your mileage and watt output. What is a watt exactly? According to Competitor:

Strictly speaking, a watt is a measure of power per unit time (1 joule per second, to be exact). This can contribute to your cycling training because the objective nature of watt-based training gives you much more precision than either heart rate or perceived exertion since it is a measurement of the workload you’ve done independent from speed, winds, hills and all the other variables that can change how difficult you perceived a ride to be.

And according to Equinox:

Used correctly, watts can help you better understand how your energy is being transferred to the bike. Perceived exertion changes based on several factors such as your stress levels, how well you ate or slept before your ride, and the temperature outside. Watts are unbiased. “That’s what’s great about wattage. It takes out of all the variables,” Pennino says. “If you’re training off your heart rate,” he explains, “when you’re stressed, tired, dehydrated or sick, your numbers are always different. Watts, however, are always watts.” 

We start the class with a warm-up and then move into a 5-6 minute “test” to find your maximum wattage. We do a standing climb, and the goal is to get to a point where you’re at an 8-9 level of exertion. You watch that watt number climb up and try to maintain at the highest level you can. Everyone varies depending on their gear and RPMs. For example, I am around 150-160 max, while the “real” cyclists in my class hit over 200, almost 300 watts (dayummm).

So you find your max watts, then take a 2 minute rest, and then we get into the ride. So the rest of the class is based around that number. When we do sprints, endurance, hills, standing climbs, etc., the instructor tell us “ok get that number to 10 below your max watts” or “now we are going to stay at 100 RPMs but get your watts to 20-30 below your max.” It makes the ride more challenging because you can spin at 100 RPMs at a gear 8, but your watts will be low…so now you have to crank up the gears, keep 100 RPMs and try to hit that watt number.

No clue if that all made sense but basically what I’m trying to say is it’s a bit more challenging than a normal ride because you are trying to hit certain numbers. In a normal class, you of course are challenging yourself, but you’re not trying to hit certain numbers. It’s like going for a basic run vs. doing a track workout. When you have set numbers you need/want to hit, you will push your body even further.

I think this type of class also helps with mental strength, which will translate well for me with running. I’ve noticed on hard hill climbs during my runs, I’m thinking about the cues instructors give during classes. To shut out the pain. To ignore the burn and keep pushing. Push. Push. Push.

If you’re in NJ, I highly recommend taking the POWER Ride class (and any cycling or yoga class) at Ride + Reflect. If you want to build your own ride, I suggest doing a 5 minute test and seeing what your  max numbers get to. You want that watt number to be consistent for those 5 minutes – it’s not like you’re riding easy for 4 minutes then hit it for the last minute and use that number. Really challenge yourself for 5 straight minutes. Then afterwards build your ride based on that number. Throw in longer efforts, hill climbs, sprints, easier portions where you’re 50 watts below your max, etc. This article has some workout ideas as well.

I’ll admit, my running recently has kind of been lacking, but I’ve been consistent with cycling and love doing something different. But next week I do want to start running again and get back to 5 days of running.

Have you ever tried a cycling class based on watt output?

When the going gets tough in a fitness class or on a run, what do you tell yourself to keep going? My mantra in workouts and races is “Grind it out.”

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02-08-2016

Best Dumbbell Exercises

Happy Monday!

Did you all watch the SuperBowl yesterday? What’d you think of the halftime show? I personally loved it, and loved Coldplay, but I keep reading about how people thought they were boring and/or Beyonce was better. I loved the whole thing – very entertaining. Plus, my sister and I will be seeing Coldplay on tour so we thought it was cool :)

Anyway, today marks Day 1 of my 5 Day Fitness Challenge (which you can sign up for here if you haven’t already). The first workout is a leg workout, and I’ll link to it below. First I just wanted to talk about dumbbell only workouts.

My 5 day challenge only uses dumbbells, mainly because it’s easiest for people since most have them. However, I prefer dumbbells over machines or even barbells. Dumbbells work your entire body more because you’re holding one in each hand, so you need to engage your core for exercises. Think about how much harder it is to do a dumbbell chest press than a barbell press. Or a single arm row as opposed to a barbell row. Not saying I don’t like barbells, because they definitely have their place, but dumbbells are #1 for me.

Using dumbbells can also show you if you have any muscle imbalances. For example, when I do dumbbell chest press, I realize that one arm is able to go down lower than the other arm, which points to an imbalance.

Lastly, dumbbells can help build your grip strength. Trying to do walking lunges with less-than-great grip strength is HARD and your forearms will be burning. Using dumbbells for lunges, farmer’s carries, deadlifts, and more can help build your grip strength (which translates well for heavier deadlifts or pull-ups if that’s your goal).

So here are a few of my favorite dumbbell exercises:

The best dumbbell exercises (in my opinion) to build total body strength! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Single-arm row

I love single arm rows. I feel like they really target your back and build strength fast. I like to support myself on a box or bench (as opposed to my knee) to really have a stable base. One tip is to make sure that when you lower the dumbbell, you’re not lowering it all the way down and letting your shoulders relax. You want to SQUEEZE your shoulder blades the entire time. So even when you’re at the lowest point, you’re still squeezing/flexing your shoulder blade/back, and using those muscles to pull it back up, instead of momentum.

single arm rowPhoto source

I also like to stand, like the photo above, as opposed to having one knee on the bench. This way engages more of your core AND your hamstrings and glutes.

Single-leg deadlift

These are killer (and in my workout video). If you have awful balance like I do, it’s even harder. But that’s the best part. It helps you get better at balancing and using your core, which is so important for runners and athletes.

single leg deadliftPhoto source

Start with bodyweight only, and work your way up to holding a dumbbell in each hand. Then work your way to an offset (one dumbbell) with a heavier weight. Your hamstrings will definitely be feeling it the next day!

Skullcrushers

This is an exercise that is definitely more challenging with dumbbells than a barbell. I think it is “easier” to get the weight up with a barbell. This is also a great exercise for building tricep strength, which is important for any pushing exercise (bench press, push-ups, etc.). 

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Make sure you lower the dumbbell down to the bench (touch the bench by your ears) before going back up. You can also do single arm variations. You want to keep your elbows in and back, kind of on an angle going behind you, not straight up. Your elbows should stay in that position, and only your hands move the weights throughout the motion (not your elbows swaying back and forth).

These are three of my top dumbbell exercises. I am always sore the next day after doing these! 

Here is my first workout of the 5 Day Fit Challenge :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9BuqekuXCw

Make sure to sign up for the challenge so you can be entered to win a PlantFusion prize pack! It’s 5 days of workout videos sent right to your inbox, printables to take to the gym, support and (like I said) a chance to win some free protein powder! Who doesn’t want that?

What are your favorite dumbbell exercises? 

If you could only do ONE exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be? I think I would choose walking lunges…so tough but a total body exercise AND gets the heart rate up!

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02-01-2016

3 Reasons Exercise Programs Fail & How To Overcome Them

It’s February 1st! A new month…a clean slate…

Did you know that a third of those who make New Year’s Resolutions don’t even make it to the end of January? We need to stay strong and committed as a new month rolls in!

Many people make resolutions to be healthier, work out more, etc. So why do they fall off within a month or two? That’s what I wanted to talk about today AND invite you to participate in a FREE 5 day fitness challenge that starts next week, so we can hold each other accountable and motivate each other. I’ll talk about that more in a bit.

Here are 3 reasons why exercise programs fail, and how to overcome them. + a FREE 5 day fitness challenge to re-ignite your goals and motivation! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Getting to the gym is a hassle

For many people, in the beginning they’re going to the gym every day, and then it starts to taper off. Why? Because getting to the gym might be a hassle. If you’re going after work, you might have to sit in traffic to get there. If you’re going in the morning, you might opt out because you don’t want to lug your work clothes, towel, shampoo, etc. for the post-workout shower. These small annoyances might start leading to, “I’ll just go tomorrow.” Here are a few ways to get back on track:

  • On days you get out of work late, or you wake up not wanting to drive to the gym, do an at-home workout video. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, it is better than nothing, and you’ll feel great. I love Fitness Blender on YouTube for home workouts.
  • Sign up for fitness classes. I’ve been staying consistent with my morning cycling classes because if I cancel I have to pay $20. When you have a commitment, you’re more apt to go. A second idea is to schedule a workout time with a friend…you can’t bail on your friends!
  • Create your own dumbbell workout routine that you can do at home. I wrote more about creating a full-body routine here.

Gym equipment is confusing

Alright so maybe you get to the gym, but then what? There are so many pieces of equipment, how do you know which to use OR if you’re even using them properly? This overload can cause some to feel intimidated and stop going to the gym all-together. Check out the link above on how to create your own routine. You can also use sites like bodybuilding.com that have a ton of workout plans and show how to do each exercise. My advice is to just stick to dumbbells or kettlebells. You can get a great workout with just those pieces of equipment, and oftentimes a BETTER workout than using a machine.

No accountability

If you’re trying to go at this alone, it will get tough at times. Even though I train with my mom, there are days I dread going to the gym or running. And that is even with a workout partner, so I can’t imagine if I didn’t have her! You need people to hold you accountable. Find someone to go to the gym with or run with a few times a week. Tell yourself you can only do X if you go to the gym that day (watch Netflix, get a manicure…whatever you think will work for you!). It doesn’t necessarily have to be a workout buddy either. Tell people about your goals and ask them to check in with you. When you know that people know what you’re working towards, you’re more apt to actually achieve those goals. Which is why my 5 day fitness challenge is perfect for you if you want accountability…we will all be checking in with each other and supporting each other!

So what will this 5 Day Fitness Challenge entail?

  • Daily 15 min. workout videos by me, sent to you for 5 days so you can work out right at home (and you only need dumbbells)!
  • PDF printables of the workouts in case you want to do it at the gym.
  • Instagram hashtag so you can connect with other challenge members and support each other.

AND

  • PRIZES! One lucky winner will win a PlantFusion prize pack with 1 full-size PlantFusion product of their choice (Thanks PlantFusion!). PlantFusion is a plant-based protein powder (which I love) that is perfect for smoothies and post-workout recovery shakes.

So here are the quick details:

WHEN: Feb. 8 – Feb 14

HOW DO I SIGN UP: Click below and enter your email to sign up. I will send you all the details before Feb. 8 so you’re ready to hit the ground running!



 
Leave a comment below and let me know if you signed up! :)
 
 
What do you think is a reason many people “fall off the resolution wagon” come Feb. or March?
What steps do you take to make sure you stay strong and committed?

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01-26-2016

Indoor Cycling Tips For Beginners

Guys…I seriously am obsessed with my cycling classes. Before I start, apparently they aren’t actually called “spin” classes because that is trademarked. So from here on out, I’ll refer to it as cycling (or try to remember to refer to it as cycling).

But anyway, I have been loving taking cycling classes at Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ. I remember taking cycling classes before and counting down the minutes until it was over (mainly because it was so hard for me), but these classes fly by. The instructors are great and push you hard, the playlists pump you up, and before you know it, the workout is over.

I’ll admit, that first class I took (and it was only a 30 min. class) was hard. I was like, “how will I survive 45 minutes of this??” But, as with any exercise such as running or lifting weights for the first time, the first day will always be hard. Once you get over that hump, you’ll feel great and get stronger each class.

While I’m obviously no expert (this is only me second month of classes at Ride + Reflect), I wanted to write a few tips for those who might want to start cycling or tried it but didn’t love it at first. If you’re a runner, check out my previous post about how cycling can make you faster.

Here are 5 indoor cycling tips for beginners. Don't be afraid to take a class - it's a killer workout! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Dress Appropriately

You will be sweating a lot. I need 2 towels on the handlebars to wipe my sweat (but I also sweat more than the average person…or at least I think so). You definitely want to be wearing a sweat wicking shirt as opposed to cotton. Go for capris or longer shorts too. I wore shorter spandex shorts once and they were riding up the whole time and distracting. I love UnderArmour and Nike tops for any workout. My favorite is actually Coach Marc’s TrainWithMarc team shirts (by Nike). I swear I sweat buckets and that shirt stays dry(ish). He sells tanks too.

Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to tell the instructor it’s your first class. In fact, do it! The instructor will help you set up your bike specifically to your height and other factors. The great thing about Ride + Reflect is that they write down your specifications, so whenever you walk into the class, your bike is already set up for you. I know many places don’t do that, so write down your numbers or keep it in a note on your phone so that you remember. Having the right seat height is really important, especially to prevent knee strain. Same with handlebar placement and seat placement (forward or back). Also, by telling the instructor, they will give you tips on the class, fill you in on the link (position 2, position 3, etc.), and make you feel more comfortable.

Cycling Terminology

Let’s talk more about the terminology I used above…though if you don’t remember this, no worries, your instructor will fill you in. Here are a few different things you might hear:

  • Position 2: This means you’re out of the saddle (aka standing up) with your hands on the handlebars closest to you.
  • Position 3: Out of the saddle with your hands farthest away from you on the handlebars. Back is flat, hips are back.
  • RPMS: Rotations per minute. If your bike has a screen, it will flash RPMs. Usually instructors give you a range, like, “Ok you want to be around 90-100 RPMs.” Don’t worry if you can’t hit their numbers, I sometimes can’t either, but it gives you a goal to work towards.
  • Resistance: Cycling bikes come with a knob or lever to increase resistance, or how hard your legs have to work to turn the wheel. Instructors will tell you to increase resistance to go “up a hill” or increase resistance and keep the same RPMs. The higher the resistance, the harder your will be working, and the more your quads will be burning! If you can’t keep a resistance at a certain level, don’t be afraid to take a break, pedal easy for a minute or so, and then get back into it.

Here’s a handy little image I found showing hand positioning on the handlebars:

Photo source

Sit In The Front

Remember in college when professors or advisors would tell you to sit in the front of the class to get better grades? Cycling is similar. Don’t be afraid to sit in the front even if you’re a beginner! By sitting in the front you will see and hear the instructor better, which is very important if it’s your first class. If you’re not comfortable with that, sit in the second row and keep your eye on other spinners to check your form or get cues from them. I usually like to sit in the front row of one of the side seats, so I don’t make awkward eye contact with the instructor lol (I hate awkward eye contact).

Go At Your Own Pace

You might be competitive by nature, like I am, but you always want to make sure you’re going at your own pace. And the great thing about cycling classes is that no one has to know what that is! No one knows what resistance you’re at or your RPMs (unless they are peeking at your monitor I suppose). Everyone is focused on themselves and their own ride. I take classes regularly with this instructor who is an avid cyclist and obviously WAY more in shape than I am. He’s like, “ok let’s crank out 120 RPMs!” and I’m pedaling all out at 100. Go at your own pace, and work your way up. Each class I’m able to add RPMs and total mileage. Just like with running, start slow and you will improve. One day you can barely run 1 mile, then you’re able to run 6 miles no problem. Cycling is the same thing.

So hopefully these tips are helpful! If you haven’t yet tried a cycling class I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to exercise indoors when the weather isn’t the best, and also a good cross-training choice for athletes. The first few classes will be challenging, but once you get into the groove of things, you will feel fit and strong.

PS – I found this link today and it is TOO accurate: 19 Things That Happen In Every Spin Class

Do you take cycling classes? 

Has there been a class (any type of fitness class) that you’ve been intimidated to try out at first but then ended up loving it?

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