3 Great Exercises to Tighten your Butt & Legs

June 9, 2014

   As a cyclist I am always looking for effective ways to cross train my legs. I've found some exercises that work your core, quadraceps, hamstrings, glutes & calves. These three leg exercises are my favorite.

   Leg workouts are great for a number of reasons. They help to improve your cardiovascular endurance and core strength. That means they can help with weightlifting, too. Leg workouts also help to increase and maintain bone density. This can help to decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis. In addition, strengthening the legs will help to put less stress on your bones and joints. 

  So, perform each exercise one time then repeat all three exercises two more times. 

Dumbbell Step-Ups with Alternating Legs

   Start with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing the sides of your legs. The right leg steps up on a step or bench extending your hip and knee. The left leg steps up so both legs are on the step. Right leg returns to floor and left leg follows. Remember to keep your torso upright. Continue the sequence for 1 minute. Repeat it with your left leg for 1 minute.

   Do this exercise 3 times a week.

Dumbbell Step-Ups with One Leg

   Start with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing the sides of your legs. The right leg steps up on a step or bench extending your hip and knee. The left leg hangs straight as you extend the right leg, then shift your weight coming down on your left leg. Raise your body up and down on your right leg for 30 seconds. Repeat on your left side.

 Perform this exercise 3 times a week.

Backward Lunge with Forward Leg Kick

   From a standing position, step back with your right foot to perform a reverse lunge, keeping the other foot planted. Instead of just returning to the standing position, push with your planted (left) leg and kick your right foot out in front of you. After you kick, perform another reverse lunge without stopping to begin the next rep. Repeat for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat the previous steps.

   Do this exercise 3 times a week.

   When these are done regularly they will increase your stability and strengthen your legs.

Working Out With An Injury

May 26, 2014

  Can you still work out if you have been injured or if you're suffering from chronic aches and pains? Of course you can.

   There are rarely reasons to take a hiatus from exercise. After all, you use your body parts every single day. I would encourage you to do whatever you can to keep your body moving. It enhances your body's ability to improve circulation. Your blood contains oxygen and promotes repair of injuries and cell growth and repair to the affected area. The cells in the body regenerate and repair by reducing the size of the damaged tissue and replace it with new living tissue. This is important in the recovery of your injured area.

   There is also a well recognized interrelationship between hormones, nutrition, and wound healing. When tissue is repaired, the anabolic process of protein synthesis requires the action of anabolic hormones. When outside forces such as exercise occurs, it helps to maintain or increase lean body mass as well as directly stimulate the healing process through anabolic or anticatabolic actions.

   Of course, you are going to have to modify your routine a bit…. Don’t think of an injury as an obstacle it is merely an opportunity to concentrate on other body parts.

Look at the injury as an opportunity

   Repetitve motion can in itself create an injury. We frequently work the same parts in the same way, even though we know it is best to mix up the way we exercise a body part. Use this time to work on different parts of the body more intensly. One thing you don't want to happen while healing in one spot is muscle atrophy from lack of exercise everywhere else. Let's say you have tendonitis in your elbow. Use this time to work more intently on your core, shoulders, or legs. It might be a good time to learn some core pilates exercises or yoga meditation.

Was the injury preventable? 

   Sometimes we get so caught up in the endorphin rush we forget that our body does need to rest between activities. Pushing too hard or too often can be harmful. Overuse can strain or sprain muscles and without enough rest to rebuild they can get injured more easily. If we continue to weaken that body part, over time it can become a chronic injury. Are you warming up and stretching enough afterwards? Working too hard when you're tired or in pain? Awareness of your body's limitations can help in staying injury free.

Will it work for me?

   Absolutely. My client Jerry had a chronic knee and back problem. We discovered that he would sit on the couch for long periods of time, usually after playing ping pong and pickleball. That sitting put a big strain on his back. Years of backpacking and hiking had weakend his otherwise healthy right knee. We worked on developing a stronger core and upper body while the other parts healed. Once healed we returned to the injured body parts strengthening and stretching them as well as the muscles surrounding. Once he could play again, his pickleball game quickly began to improve due to his added upper body strength.  

What can I do?

   Always consult your physician first to make sure you’re healthy enough to exercise during your recovery and to find out what if any movements you might need to avoid. Then try to get back in to your routine, which you've worked hard to maintain. Let's say you ran or did cardio 3 times a week regularly and for now you cannot be on your feet. Try swimming, arm cycling, seated recumbant biking or even chair aerobics to get that heart rate elevated the way it's used to being worked.

The Rice Principle

   As a general guideline, the acronym RICE should serve as the basis of treatment for most minor injuries. R stands for rest – that is, either take a few days off or reduce your training intensity and volume. I stands for ice – ice the affected area to reduce pain and swelling. A good guideline is to ice the area for 15 minutes every two hours to reduce pain and swelling. C stands for compression – apply pressure to the area with an elastic bandage or wrap to minimize inflammation and damage from excessive swelling. E stands for elevation – that is, elevate the affected limb to assist in the drainage of fluid.

  The bottom line is to keep the body moving. The healing process will improve faster and you will feel better from head to toe.  

4 Great exercises that support your core and abs

May 18, 2014

   Our abdominals are a set of muscles that make up our core. They include many interconnected muscles that run up the back and stretch down to the butt; and the front and inner thighs.

   Abdominals are key in supporting the spine and contributing to good posture.  When properly exercised, these muscles help to improve posture and balance.

   Core stability is essential for movement and to maintain an upright posture. These muscles also play an important role in lifting things that require extra effort, such as a heavy weight from the ground to a table. Without core stability the lower back is not supported from the inside and can be injured due to strain. It is also believed that insufficient core stability can result in lower back pain, and lethargy.

   So, I'd like to share a few of my favorite core/abdominal exercises with you.


   Lie on your back with your knees bent toward your chest. Hold a three pound dumbbell with both hands. Extend your left leg to 45 degrees, keeping your right knee bent. Lift your head and shoulders and move the dumbbell to the outside of your right knee, pressing into a crunch with a twist (shown above). Pull your left leg in to meet your right leg and reach the weight up toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders and head elevated off the floor. Now repeat step 2, but this time extend your right leg and keep your left knee bent. That’s one rep.

   Do 10 reps 4 times a week.

   Lie on your back on a stability ball with your feet hip-distance apart on the floor and knees bent 90 degrees. Place your right hand behind your head and your left fingertips on the floor for balance. Brace your core and lift your left foot off the floor. Extend your left leg, keeping the foot flexed.

   Crunch up, twisting your right shoulder and rib cage toward your left knee while simultaneously stretching your right leg straight. Keep your foot on the floor. Return to starting position with you left leg lifted and right leg bent. That's one rep. 

   Do 15 reps on each side. Repeat 4 times a week.

   Lie on your back with knees bent 90 degree. Straighten your arms by your sides and lengthen your fingertips. Press the back of your shoulders against a mat and slide them down away from your ears. Focus on keeping your back on the floor. Inhale and slowly move your knees to the right. Then exhale and return to starting position. Repeat on the left. That’s one rep.

Do 5 to 8 reps. Repeat 4 times a week.

   On your back raise your right arm and left leg to the ceiling, keeping both straight. Keep your palm facing the center of your body with your foot pointed to the ceiling. Keep your lower back to the floor. Hold for 10 seconds then repeat with your other arm and leg. Increase gradually to 20 seconds, holding on each side.

   Repeat on the each side 3 times. Repeat 4 times a week.

   You should notice improvement in as little as three weeks.

Mom's and Their Daughters

May 12, 2014

   A fellow trainer and business owner, Sherri McMillan of Northwest Fitness in Washington State, recently shared her blog with me. Sunday was Mother's Day so I thought it would be great to pass along her important message:

   - - - - - - - - -

Moms, be careful what you say around your daughters.

   I heard a conversation at a pool that went something like this. A young girl asked her mother why she wasn’t swimming. The mother responded that she was too fat and needed to lose a lot of weight before she could even consider wearing a bathing suit. Wow! What kind of a message do you think that mother was sending to her daughter? The daughter could easily interpret that response to mean that a woman must be skinny in order to do the things she wants to do. She must be thin in order to be beautiful enough to be seen in public. She must be lean in order to be loved.

Do you realize that girls as young as 5 years are dieting?

Sherri Brianna 225x300 Share With Your Clients   Info About Their Daughters

   Where do you think they are getting the idea for the need to diet and lose weight? Sure media plays a big role but it’s a lot closer to home than that! A young girl’s mother is her most important role model. Values, principles and beliefs are instilled at such a young age and last a lifetime. If a young girl believes you have to be skin and bones to be attractive, she will struggle with her weight and body image for the rest of her life.

Moms, think before you speak.

   If you comment on your thighs and your cellulite perhaps your daughter will start examining her own thighs more closely and determine she’s not too happy with hers either! If you compare yourself to other women or models in a magazine, your daughter will start comparing as well. If you are always on some type of diet and then go on an all-out junk binge, your daughter will adopt the same practices. Moms – you can’t think only about yourself anymore. Mimicking is how most young children learn and develop. You have the power to help your daughters develop into strong, confident, beautiful human beings – on the inside and out or to become insecure, unhealthy, and negative.

   Here are some tips to consider:trans Share With Your Clients   Info About Their Daughters
  • Learn to love your own body. 

    Easier said than done! You may have 30+ years of media brain-washing to try to overcome but your daughters can still be saved! At the very least, never comment on your own body in a negative manner, especially in front of your daughters. And as often as you can, point out what your love about yourself.

  • Never comment on other women’s bodies and compare them to your own

    Avoid scanning magazines with your daughters and remarking “I’d love to have her legs” or “I wish I could wear that” or “She’s so skinny and perfect”. Instead, when looking at magazines ask your daughters if they know that each of the models are made-up for hours and air-brushed to create the final unrealistic image. Discuss with them how distorted and unhealthy this is. Talk to them about the scary consequences of these unrealistic ideals such as poor body image, extreme dieting, anorexia, bulimia, and death. Openly and regularly discuss these issues.

  • Promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle. 

    Diets don’t work for you or your daughters. Instead focus on encouraging your daughters to eat lots of fruits, vegetables and drink lots of water – not because it’ll keep them thin but rather, keep them healthy. Avoid exercising excessively. What message are you giving to your daughters if you remark “I’ve got to get to the gym to burn off that piece of chocolate cake” or if you consistently sacrifice other things in your life because you have to get to the gym? Remember little eyes are always watching and taking mental notes. Teach them you workout because you love your body not so that you can love your body. There’s a big difference!

  • Be watchful of the men in your home – husbands, grandpas, sons etc.

    Do they make digs about other women’s, yours or your daughter’s body? Are they constantly discussing women’s bodies? If so, deal with it immediately. Make sure they understand how harmful, hurtful and damaging their remarks can be. Be sure they know that any further comments are inappropriate and unacceptable and will be dealt with.

  • If you do notice your daughter is practicing unhealthy eating and exercising habits, stay calm but seek help immediately. 

    Consult with your physician to get a referral to see someone who specializes in this area. There may be something you can do before things get worse.

   The vicious cycle of body hatred can be stopped and it starts with you.

   Each of you has the opportunity to deposit a little bit of love into a little girl’s self esteem bank everyday! And you may find it gives your confidence a boost also!

Extreme Fitness: Have We Gone to Far?

April 28, 2014

   High intensity workouts have been proven to work but may not be the magical solution they're cracked up to be.

   High intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, can push your heart rate up to 75 percent of maximum or more and has been proven to increase metabolism and burn more calories. Another type of workout called Tabata boasts similar benefits.

   Just where did HIIT Training or Tabata begin and why are they so popular?

   Here's some background on the two systems. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise, developed to improve running performance by German coach Woldemar Gerschler in the mid1930s. It consists of bursts of intense exercise lasting as long as 4 minutes with recovery periods in between. HIIT sessions may vary from 4 to 30 minutes. Gerschler's system enabled greater intensities because the periods of rest or easy running allowed partial recovery. This training faded in the 1940s then reemerged after Czech long distance runner Emil Zatopek won three gold medals during the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Zapotek had used the technique in his training.

   Tabata was established in 1996 by Izumi Tabata of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Japan. Tabata studied Olympic speedskaters and the body's ability to efficiently use oxygen during extreme exercise. Tabata is a form of high intensity exercise, again, based on short intervals of ultra intense training lasting about 4 minutes.

   So, does the average athlete or fitness person need this high intensity style of exercise in their regime? Well, what we do know is if you're already fit, your body can adapt to more extreme workouts with adequate recovery. Also, we live in a society that believes and values "more is better" and that "hard work = success."

   Different stresses such as sleep deprivation, nutrition, medications, work, kids and life also play a part in how much energy and time we have to devote to our exercise regime, as well as how it effects us afterwards. Many people like this kind of exercise because they can get fit in a short amount of time. But they're also at increased risk, resulting in orthopedic injuries or cardiovascular complications if they aren’t accustomed to this kind of exercise. I do believe it can be beneficial if the program is designed for the individual person doing it. Safety should be an important consideration.

   Here's the thing: high intensity workouts are appealing because... who would want to walk/run 4 hours a week when you can spin like a maniac and get the same results in 12 minutes?

   There's a valid reason for either choice or even a mix of both. I exercise not just for the results but also for the beauty and feeling of bodily movement. A long run or walk makes me feel energized and fulfilled. That's something I can't get in 12 minutes of HIIT. But I can also appreciate a results oriented-workout. HIIT may not be fun, but the results are satisfying.

   The ultimate decision of how you're going to exercise and what you're going to do is yours. You know your body. Listen to it. If it tells you you're overdoing it with consistent aches, pains and injuries then maybe it's time to take it slower or not so intensely.

Six Ideas to Help Push Yourself Out That Door To Exercise

April 14, 2014

   In my early 30s I started running for exercise. If you were to ask me then if I thought I'd ever run a marathon I would have said no.

   But in my early 40s I started power walking. I couldn't do much at first. Over time I was covering as much as 21 miles on a power walk, not realizing I was developing the stamina to run a marathon. What was happening is that I was taking it one step at a time. At 51 I ran my first marathon.

[1] Start Small

   I like to think of at least three steps toward attaining a goal. You might come up with more, but a beginning, a middle and a final step work quite well.

   So if you are starting from scratch and want to be able to walk 10 miles, the first step might be to just walk one. Forget about the other nine. Pretend those don't even exist. Drive down to the fire road on the ranch and park at the trail head, enjoy the beautiful views of the Pacific, and walk half way on the fire road and turn around and return back. There. That's a mile. Do this again and again until it's your standard walk.

   In step two, start pushing it further and further until you walk the length of the fire road and return. Now you're walking two miles. Do that until it becomes your standard. Once you've got a base down, you can now start lengthening your walks toward your 10 mile goal. In fact, I think the final step is usually the easiest to get motivated for.

[2] Exercise with a Friend

   What a great way to set yourself up to be accountable. When you are there to get someone out of the house and they are there for you, your chances of success just go up. Maybe your friend is a dog? That works too. From my own personal experience, dogs do a pretty good job of cajoling their humans to get outside and exercise with them.

[3] Put It On A Calendar

   This is a good one, in view of the smartphones most of us now have. Send yourself a calendar invite complete with alerts that ping you before your appointed time to exercise. Some people find that if they only have a vague idea of when they'll exercise, it's easy to skip if something else comes up. But if they treat it as a hard start appointment it has a sense of importance the way a business meeting does.

[4] Engage in a Fun Activity

   Remember in physical education class when the instructor said the goal of P.E. was to help students develop a lifetime sport? The idea is that exercise is a lot more appealing if it represents something to do that you like. Remember, it doesn't matter if you think you are no good at the sport. Really, it doesn't. What matters is that you have fun. Maybe you loved throwing a frisbee around in high school. Why can't that be at the core of your fitness routine? It takes a little effort but not much to find some partners to get out and throw.

[5] Be An Athlete

   Let's dispense with the notion that athletes are highly paid professional football and baseball players we see on television. Whenever you exercise your body is doing all the same things they're doing. You are an athlete. And when you start thinking this way - that your body is a fine tuned biological machine, no matter what shape it's in - it can help to motivate you to take care of it. After all, it really is a miracle that we can move and experience the world around us.

[6] Reward Yourself

 Reward yourself for those small steps you take toward reaching that goal. Not to be too tongue in cheek, but I'm not talking about rewarding yourself by not having to exercise. A new pair of walking shoes or outfit, a book you wanted to read or a play you've been wanting to see might be a little more realistic. Some of the best rewards align with your exercise goals themselves. When you attain your ability to walk 10 miles, perhaps a great goal would be a vacation to beautiful spot like Yosemite or Yellowstone National Parks.