Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ab Exercise of the Day: Plank, Alternating Hand to Elbow

Time to burn your core!!! There are so many variations of the plank, but one of my favorite go-to's is doing the plank, but alternating how you support your upper body with your hands and elbows. The key to this exercise is to try to keep your torso still while you throw off your stability by switching from your hands to elbows. NO ROCKING!

1-Start in the basic plank position, palms of your hands on the ground, directly under your elbows and shoulders. Keep your glutes, abs, and legs active so you have a nice flat back.

2-Lower yourself onto your elbows, one at a time, being sure you place your elbows directly under your shoulders.

3-Exhale and raise yourself back onto your palms, keeping them in line with your elbows and shoulders.

4-Repeat this alternation for 1 minute, being sure you a keep do not roll your shoulders out of line with your elbows, and keep your torso active!


Exercise of the Day: Frog Jumps

Today was the first day of bootcamp and my bootcampers BROUGHT IT!! YES!! I was so excited! So great to have an awesome group of people ready to work hard.

One of the exercises I had my campers do today were Frog Jumps. Now you can either do them in place, or, as I set up the workout this morning, hop down a sidewalk or across the floor. You're going to get your heart racing, and your legs and glutes burning in no time!

1-Start in a low squat position, legs wide, out past your shoulders. You want your glutes to be lower than parallel with your thighs. Remember, try to look like a frog!

2-Using your arms and pushing through your heels, extend your arms overhead and jump upwards (if doing a traveling squat jump, jump forward as far as you comfortably can).

3-Land softly, being sure to come back into a super low squat position.

To add a little extra to your squat jump, when you go into the air, bend at your knees and bring your heels to your glutes, literally like a frog would do when it jumps!!

Repeat the jumps for 1 minute!!


Friday, April 6, 2012

Exercise of the Day: Bear Crawl

For CrossFit enthusiasts, the Bear Crawl is a staple. This is one exercise that engages your entire body, especially your core! You may feel a little silly at first, but trust me, it's well worth it. The Bear Crawl helps develop your coordination, speed, agility, and cardio fitness while engaging all your major muscle groups at the same time!

1-Start in a table-top position, face down. Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are all in one line, and your hips are over your knees.
2-Raise your knees so your feet are flat on the floor, but your shoulders and hands are still in line. This is the basic bear position.
3-Now walk forward 20 feet, keeping your body low.

You can mix up the bear crawl in many different ways. Hold dumbbells in each hand as you walk. Walk sideways. Walk backwards. Walk 3 steps then do a monkey pushup, repeat.

Have fun with the Bear Crawl as part of your workout today!!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Yoga Pose of the Day: Scale Pose

Scale Pose, or Tolasana, is a great pose for building strength in your abs and in your arms. If you have issues with your wrists or knees, you may want to work on strengthening those joints before you attempt this pose! Also, if you have not yet mastered Lotus Pose (sitting cross-legged, your feet on top of your knees), wait until you have done this before you go into Scale Pose.

1-Begin seated in Lotus Pose. You want your spine to be straight and lengthened, grounding yourself into the floor while at the same time extending your head towards the ceiling. Chest up and shoulders down and and back! Your legs are crossed, and your feet are raised so that they are comfortably resting just below your knees. You do not want to rest your feet directly on your knees!!!

2-Place your palms just outside your hips. If you are a beginner or have doubt in your wrist strength, you can place yoga blocks on both sides of your hips to push your palms into.

3-As you take an inhalation, press into your palms and engage your core muscles as you lift your legs and glutes straight upwards from the floor.

4-When you lift yourself to your highest point, hold the pose for five breaths.

5-Slowly, and with control, bring yourself back to the floor.


Exercise of the Day: Speed Skaters

We all need to include lateral movements into our workouts, so that's why today's Exercise of the Day is Speed Skaters!

Lateral movements are key for preventing injury, both in daily activities and in sports performance. Most often throughout the day, people are in constant forward and backward movements. Therefore, our muscles which control lateral movements tend to be underdeveloped. In sports, developing skill in lateral movements helps increase stability, speed, and agility, and minimized the chance of injury from fast sudden movements.

Speed Skaters focus on developing the muscles in your hips, groin, quadriceps, and core. Ankle stability and strength are also enhanced. This exercise provides a great cardio blast as well, so get to it!
1-Start in a squat position, with your right leg extended behind your left leg, as close to a 180 degree angle as possible (lateral to your core). See picture above.
2-Bring your right hand down to touch the floor outside of your left foot.
3-As quickly as possible, switch your position so that you bring your right foot to where your left foot was placed, and extend your left leg laterally behind your right. Your left hand touches the ground outside your right foot. Keep your glutes low in a squat, and your back flat. 
4-Repeat this motion, alternating which leg is extended laterally behind you, for 1 minute, as fast as you can.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Healthy Snack of the Day: Post-Workout Cherry Vanilla Smoothie

Protein? Check. Omega 3s? Check. Fiber? Check. Delicious? DOUBLE CHECK!

After a workout, your muscles need to adapt and be rebuilt so they become stronger and more efficient. This is done through protein synthesis, so having a post-workout snack which replenishes essential amino acids to the body is key!!!

This smoothie recipe is perfect and delicious, using naturally protein-rich Greek yogurt and the additional fiber benefits of flax seed to help keep you nourished and strong!! Since I had a very light workout today, I skipped adding in the additional scoop of protein powder, but I will be doing that tomorrow!

Blend 1 cup of frozen cherries, 3/4 cup vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt (I used the Chobani brand), 1/2 cup 100% pomegranate juice, 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, and an additional scoop of vanilla protein powder (especially right after a high intensity workout). You can add an 1/2 cup of ice, but I personally like how it's creamier without it.


Yoga Pose of the Day: Bridge Building Pose

Today's Yoga Pose of the Day is Setu Bandhasana, or Bridge Building Pose. Bridge Building Pose is excellent for building strength in your back and neck muscles and helps correct neck alignment (on that note, if you have ANY neck issues, DO NOT do this pose!!!). Also, because you lift your shoulders off the ground and extend through your upper body, you open your throat, stretching your esophagus, and stretch your chest, improving your lung capacity. Into improving your chakras? This pose stimulates your third chakra, thus helping in digestion.

This is an advanced form of bridge, so take your time with it and pay attention to the details about body placement to avoid strain.

1. Lie on your back in Corpse Pose, or Savasana, your arms resting at your sides. Remember to create length throughout your body, especially your spine, as if someone is pulling you at your feet and another pulling you at your head.

2-Bend your knees slightly, keeping the insides of your legs and feet glued together. It is important not to move your feet very close to your glutes; this will eventually place too much weight on your head when you move further into the pose.

3-Begin to externally rotate your legs, keeping your heels together, but placing the outside edges of your feet on the ground.

4-Begin to press your elbows into the ground and extending your chest straight upwards to the ceiling, eventually creating an arch in your spine that allows the top of your head to rest on the ground. At this point, you may cross your arms over your chest, resting your hands on your shoulders.

5-Take an inhalation and activate your core and legs, extending and raising your legs and glutes off the floor. It is very important that you create and maintain extension in your hips and your lower body by using your glutes more so than your hamstrings as this pose is very strenuous on your hamstrings and they may spasm.

6-When your legs and glutes have risen to their highest point, roll your head so that you are now resting on your forehead (this is hard, so stay on the crown of your head if you have any doubt about this move!)

Hold this position for five breaths.

7-On your next exhalation, lower your hips to the ground first. If you have raised your arms, return them to the ground next, so that they are there to support your neck as you roll your head back to a neutral position.

To counteract this move, roll your neck left and right, and do Roll Like a Ball.


Exercise of the Day: Plyometric Side Box Hops

Plyometrics!! Once again, plyometrics are great to add into your workout, especially if you're an athlete, because they help improve your speed, power, force, and agility. By doing the a side step up onto a plyometric box, you are improving the muscle power in your upper thigh and glutes, eventually allowing you to run faster and jump higher!

1-Stand to the left of a plyometric box.
2-Raise your right foot over the box.
3-As soon as you place your right foot onto the box, push yourself straight upwards into the air.
4-Land softly, with your right foot landing the box, and your left foot back on the floor.
5-Do this movement 10-12 times, then switch sides.

Want an added bonus? Hold a dumbbell or medicine ball as you jump!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Yoga Pose of the Day: Half Moon

Today's Yoga Pose of the Day is Half Moon, or Ardha Chandrasana. This pose is great for stretching and strengthening your torso, therefore strengthening your spine, and you also work on your balance.

1-Begin in Mountain Pose, lengthening through your spine.
2-Extend your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Keep your shoulder blades down and actively pressing into your lower back while your extend through your arms.
3-Shift your weight onto your right leg and begin to hinge forward, raising your left leg behind you.
4-Place your right hand down on the floor and twist your torso so that your chest is parallel with the left wall. 5-Keep length in your spine, reaching out through your left leg and keeping a long spine. At the same time, create the push and pull affect with your right leg, pushing into the ground, and a pull in your right leg, creating length.
6-Extend your left arm straight overhead, so that it is in one line with your right arm which is still grounded in the floor. Your arms create a new push and pull feeling in your body.
7-When you have your sense of balance, and if you do not have neck injuries, turn your heads so that you are facing upwards and extend your gaze past your left hand.
8-Hold for three breaths.
9-Bring your gaze back to the ground and begin to rotate your torso back to being parallel with the floor. Bring your body back to Mountain Pose.
10-Repeat the pose on the other side, using your left leg as an anchor.


Exercise of the Day: Back Extensions

Let's strengthen up your lower back today by doing back extensions. It is important to have strong lower back muscles in order to have the foundation and power to carry out most exercises correctly and in proper form, especially upper body exercises. Also, most people focus far too much on doing crunches for their abs, and their bodies become too out of proportion in muscles mass in the front, causing strain on your lower back. You need balance!!!!

I typically prefer doing back extensions using the Roman Chair (as pictured), but if this is unavailable to you, you can do back lifts, such as the Superman exercise, on the ground. There are also back extension machines in most gyms. I'll discuss the exercise in terms of the Roman Chair.

1-Stand between the two pads of the Roman Chair so that you are facing the large pad.
2-Position your upper thighs against the large pad and place your ankles under the foot braces. Activate your core to remain stable.
3-Lower your upper body so that it is perpendicular with the floor.
4-Slowly and with control, flex your lower back muscles to raise your torso back upwards, keeping your torso flat----Do not arch your back! Stop when your torso is raised slightly above your hips. You do not want to hyperextend your back!
5-Do as many repetitions as you can in 1 minute.


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