Hope everyone is have an awesome day! So, I'm super excited to share with you 5 easy ways to kick your workouts up a notch! These 5 simple tips & easy-to-incorporate pieces of equipment will make your workouts more challenging, increase your core & overall strength, improve your balance + stability, tighten & tone your entire body & just make your workouts more fun!
Below are 5 of my all time favorite ways to train + I'm sharing 3 of my top moves that I do myself & with clients. These 5 little tips are going to rock your workout world! And, best of all...no gym required (for most). Which means, NO Excuses ;)
Remember, form first & proper breathing, always! xx
If you've never heard of unilateral training/exercises, simply put, these are single-limb exercises, meaning your working one side at a time -- like the lunge I'm doing in the picture above! ;)
The reason why I love unilateral moves is because of the balance, strength & stability they create in your body. When your working both sides at the same time (i.e.: squat or barbell bench press) your stronger side will always take over and do more of the work. The beauty of unilateral exercises, is your strong side can't take over. The side your working has to do all the work. The result, a strong, balanced body that functions & performs at its best!
My Top 3 Unilateral Exercises:
- Single Leg Deadlifts -
Start: balancing on one leg...
Inhale: reach down to the floor with a long spine, pressing your weight back into the glute of the working leg while the opposite leg lifts up & back Think: Warrior 3
Exhale: press weight into the heel, engage your glute & hamstring, draw your abs in & push yourself back up to stand. Be sure to bring the hip thru, squeeze your bum & extend thru your hips/hip flexor.
- Unilateral Overhead Should Press -
Start: Feet hips width apart, knees soft. Holding your opposite arm out to the side, just below shoulder level, working arm at 90 degrees
Exhale: Push the weight overhead
Inhale: Lower & repeat
- Dumbbell Skull Crushers -
Start: Lay on bench or mat. DB in each hand, arms extended in line with shoulder joints
Inhale: Lower your arms to 90 degrees
Exhale: Extend your arms back to start & squeeeeeeze those triceps!
HIIT (HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING)
If your looking to maximize both your time in the gym + your results, (uhmm, no brainer!) HIIT is the way to train! By definition, High Intensity Interval Training is alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. Bringing your heart rate up & down increases your body's ability to burn fat + increase your metabolism for longer periods of time even after your workout is over. Which means, your body will be burning more calories at rest! A big YAY for that, right!? I think a lot people have the misconception that they can't do sprint intervals because of various reasons like I'm not a runner, or I can't run that fast or I'm not in good shape, or any other self-limiting thoughts that may be stuck in their head... with that being said, something I always, always tell my clients, is that an interval is "anything that challenges you for said amount of time & works to elevate your heart rate". HIIT can be done on the treadmill, the bike, an Elliptical or even outside! If running for 60 seconds at 5.5 is a challenge for you & brings your heart rate up, than that my dear, is the definition of YOUR interval. And perhaps in a couple weeks, YOUR 60 second interval will increase to 6.0. Keep in mind, Sprints are meant to be a C H A L L E N G E! Remember, its only a short burst of 30 - 60 seconds, so PUSH YOURSELF. If you can chat it up while your sprinting, chances are, you can be moving faster ;)
- 3 of my favorite ways to mix up my runs -
.25 mile run / .25 mile power walk (typically for 3 miles)
60 second sprint / 60 second recover
30 second sprint / 30 second recover
You can check out this HIIT Treadmill Workout for a fun & challenging cardio sesh that will get your heart rate pumping & the sweat pouring!
BALANCE & STABILITY TRAINING
Everyone, yes everyone, can benefit from working in more balance & stability training into their workouts. Creating stability in your joints creates an unparalleled strength like no other. Much different than throwing weights around - especially with crap form. Sorry, but I painfully watch this all the time.
2 of my favorite ways to do this is to simply balance on one leg or to perform some of my favorite exercises on top of BOSU Balance Trainer. You can use both sides of a BOSU Trainer -- stand on the the blue, soft side or flip it over and stand on the black, flat side. If you really want to have some fun & challenge yourself, balance on one leg, on the BOSU. Weee ;)
My Top 3:
- Balancing Bicep Curls -
Start: pick a leg, any leg...hold your opposite knee up to your stomach/chest as high as you can, continue to hold your abs in tightly. switch legs each circuit
Inhale: lower weights
Exhale: Curl & contract your biceps
- Reverse Lunge + Knee Up -
Start: Both legs/feet together
Inhale: step back, lunging into your front leg, making sure your knee does NOT move past your toes
Exhale: Weight in the heel, push yourself forward & lift your knee up to your stomach/chest.
Work towards not setting your foot down as you lunge back into the next rep
- BOSU Ball Lateral Raises -
Start: position yourself in the middle of the BOSU, feet hips width apart
Exhale: with a soft elbow, lift your arms to shoulder level. Careful to not shrug into your traps, rather you want to focus on your delts doing the work.
Inhale: Lower back to your sides & repeat
if you really want to challenge yourself, try balancing on one leg, on the BOSU while performing your raises ;)
The stability ball is just another fun, do-anywhere piece of equipment to mix it up and challenge your body by getting creative with those run-of-the-mill moves you'd normally perform on a stable surface.
First, size matters! Make sure your using the appropriate size stability ball for your height.
Here's a little size/height chart to consider:
- 4'11" to 5'4" height: 55 cm ball -
- 5'4" to 5'11" height: 65 cm ball -
- 5'11" to 6' 7" height: 75 cm ball -
My Top 3 Stability Ball Exercises:
- Dumbbell Chest Press -
Start: Sit on ball & walk yourself out to the point where your head, neck & top of the shoulders are resting on the ball. Lift your hips, pressing up thru your heels (hello booty) and hold this position while performing your chest press.
Exhale: push your weights up & together while drawing your abs in tightly
Inhale: lower to start & repeat
- Stability Ball Glute / Hamstring Bridges -
Start: Lay on your back, place your feet/heels on the top of the ball, creating approx. 90 degree angle with your legs.
Exhale: Lift your hips up as high as you can, squeezing your glutes & drawing your abs in tightly at the top.
Inhale: Slowly lower with control
Place ball against a wall until you build up enough strength & stability to control the ball on your own.
- Pike Ups -
Start: set yourself up in a plank position on the ball -
hands on the floor, tops of the feet/shins resting on the ball
Inhale: press firmly into your hands, keeping arms straight & strong
Exhale: Draw the ball in toward your hands, while lifting your hips & booty into the air.
Think downward facing dog. Imagine that your abs are doing all the work to lift your hips in the air.
Strap these babies on and feel the burn!
Ankle weights are such a fun way to amp up those leg & booty burning sessions, creating sexy, toned legs + a tight, round bum! I wear 3lb ankle weights but they are available anywhere from 2-5lbs, many are adjustable & double as wrist weights, too! For me, the 3's are just perfect - they create the perfect amount of added weight / resistance, without being too much. I love wearing my ankle weights for both standing exercises like lunges or a lunge/leg lift combo + those booty lifting exercises done lying on the mat or on hands & knees!
My Top 3 Leg & Booty + Ankle Weight Exercises:
- Side Lying Leg Raises -
Start: laying on your side, hips stacked, legs long. Raise your top (working) leg to hip level. Your leg will not go any lower than this, starting position.
Exhale: lift the leg
Inhale: lower slowly & controlled, creating resistance as you lower
20 reps on each leg
- Glute Kickbacks -
Start: on hands & knees, shoulders over wrists. knees under hips.
Exhale: With a bent knee, foot flexed and tightly pulled into to your bum, lift your leg USING your glute
Inhale: Lower only half way & repeat
20 reps on each leg
- Fire hydrants -
Start: Same as above
Ehxale: keeping your knee bent in that kneeling position, lift knee up to the side. Make sure your lifting with the glute. you want your butt to be doing the work, not the rest of your leg.
Inhale: lower & repeat
20 reps on each leg