As you read this post, I’m either prepping for, in the midst of or winding down after a full-day shoot in Beverly Hills, California. I look forward to writing about my first visit to the area and how I hopefully find a way to squeeze some fitness time into a hectic schedule. For now, I didn’t want to let a Workout Wednesday go by without letting you in on my current go-to routine for when I have only an hour and very little brain power to get “creative” at the gym.
5 minutes of self-myofascial release (SMR) with the foam roller and stretching for my three chronic problem areas: calves, TFL and lats.
- 20-minute full-body weight circuit: As a member of New York Sports Clubs, I’m a big fan of their “Xpress Line.” The machines take you through each major muscle group. I do two to three sets of 12-20 reps with minimal rest in between. If you don’t belong to NYSC, you can still do a quick full-body circuit. Click here for a reminder of the machines to look for in your own gym.
- 30 minutes elliptical training with a mix of moderate / high intensity.
- Tabata time: I have become a Tabata addict! As a refresher, a Tabata interval involves four minutes of work with 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for a total of eight sets. As the full-body weight circuit at NYSC doesn’t include any kind of ab work, I tend to do planks or crunches if I only have time for one Tabata interval.
- 5 minutes of same SMR and stretches I performed at the start of the workout. (So, this pushes my workout to about 65 minutes, but the SMR in particular has helped me find some serious relief for my overactive muscles since I started making the foam roller a part of my regular routine six months ago.)
Some mix-and-match ideas: if you want to focus solely on cardio, skip the weight circuit and add 20 minutes on the treadmill, stationary bike or rowing machine to the elliptical training. Or simply add more Tabatas to the mix! One of the toughest workouts Roberto had us perform in our UFX class was a 20-minute “Tabata Derby.” He set up five stations of different exercises and we would spend four minutes (or one Tabata interval) at each one. Click here for a refresher on what that class looked like for my small group training class.
Remember, no matter how pressed you are for time, make a conscious effort NOT to skimp on the flexibility portion of the workout. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: to keep your body in balance, stretching the muscles that are tight is just as important as strengthening the ones that are weak as part of your overall plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It’s hard to find a fitness magazine or video series that doesn’t highlight moves or tricks for building a stronger core. That’s good, because core training should be a key component of anyone’s exercise program, regardless of his or her fitness level.
The core – made up of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, thoracic spine and cervical spine – is the region of the body where all movement begins. If you have a weak and unstable core, your body simply can’t move the way it’s supposed to. That’s one of the easiest ways to put yourself at increased risk for injury.
New core exercises seem to pop up all the time, but I’ve always been a big fan of some the classics. That being said, there are several core exercises beyond the crunch that I use in my client’s fitness programs along with my own. Here’s the kicker: these exercises all fit into the stabilization endurance level of training. This is the level where all fitness newbies should start and all fitness veterans should re-visit to maintain core and joint stability. For this trio, my friend and photographer Lauren Bachner captured a snapshot of the start and finish position for each exercise. Aim for two sets of 12-20 reps:
- Ball bridge:Once you’ve mastered the two-leg and one-leg floor bridge, this is a great progression of a key core exercise. Training tips: make sure your feet are hip-width apart. Draw in your navel and squeeze your glutes to get your knees in line with your hips and shoulders. Once you’re established the bridge, hold the position for two seconds before lowering your pelvis.
- Prone Iso-Abs (Plank): This remains my all-time favorite core exercise. Here, I show you the “basic” plank along with a progression, where you add a leg lift. Training tips: In either version, be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze your glutes before you raise your body off the floor to form a straight line from head to toe. Hold plank position for two to three seconds before dropping to the ground to re-start.
- Side Iso-Ab (Side Plank): I admit, I need to perform this version of the plank more often – and you should too! Training tips: Your elbow should be directly below your shoulder and be sure to draw in your navel and contract glutes before lifting your hips and legs off the ground. Hold the plank for two to three seconds before lowering back to start position.
I wrap up this Workout Wednesday post with another thank you to Lauren for taking these action shots and to the owners of Hype Gym for letting us use their awesome facility for the perfect backdrop. Stay tuned for more shots of my favorite exercises in the future. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what’s on your list of favorites when it comes to exercises that help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!