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March Challenge

Roman Chair

Stand with your back against a wall. Spread your feet apart like a squat and “walk” out into a sitting position, sliding your butt down the wall until your knees are at 90 degrees and your hips are at 90 degrees (like there is a chair underneath you). Keep your back straight so that your hips and shoulders are pressed against the wall.

Note: If you are able to hold the Roman Chair for 30 seconds or more on March 1st, add an extra 15 seconds to each time listed and/or hold your arms up above your head, touching the wall.

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
1

Roman Chair 15 sec

2

Roman Chair 15 sec

3

Roman Chair 15 sec

4

Roman Chair 15 sec

5

Roman Chair 15 sec

6

Roman Chair 30 sec

7

Roman Chair 30 sec

8

Roman Chair 30 sec

9

Roman Chair 30 sec

10

Roman Chair 30 sec

11

Roman Chair 45 sec

12

Roman Chair 45 sec

13

Roman Chair 45 sec

14

Roman Chair 45 sec

15

Roman Chair 45 sec

16

Roman Chair 60 sec

17

Roman Chair 60 sec

18

Roman Chair 60 sec

19

Roman Chair 60 sec

20

Roman Chair 60 sec

21

Roman Chair 75 sec

22

Roman Chair 75 sec

23

Roman Chair 75 sec

24

Roman Chair 75 sec

25

Roman Chair 75 sec

26

Roman Chair 90 sec

27

Roman Chair 90 sec

28

Roman Chair 90 sec

29

Roman Chair 90 sec

30

Roman Chair 90 sec

31

Roman Chair 90 sec

February Challenge

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
1

50 Squats
16 Tricep Pushups
30 sec Hollow Hold

2

50 Squats
17 Tricep Pushups
30 sec Hollow Hold

3

50 Squats
18 Tricep Pushups
30 sec Hollow Hold

4

50 Squats
19 Tricep Pushups
30 sec Hollow Hold

5

50 Squats
20 Tricep Pushups
30 sec Hollow Hold

6

50 Squats
21 Tricep Pushups
45 sec Hollow Hold

7

50 Squats
22 Tricep Pushups
45 sec Hollow Hold

8

50 Squats
23 Tricep Pushups
45 sec Hollow Hold

9

50 Squats
24 Tricep Pushups
45 sec Hollow Hold

10

50 Squats
25 Tricep Pushups
45 sec Hollow Hold

11

50 Squats
26 Tricep Pushups
60 sec Hollow Hold

12

50 Squats
27 Tricep Pushups
60 sec Hollow Hold

13

50 Squats
28 Tricep Pushups
60 sec Hollow Hold

14

50 Squats
29 Tricep Pushups
60 sec Hollow Hold

15

50 Squats
30 Tricep Pushups
60 sec Hollow Hold

16

50 Squats
31 Tricep Pushups
75 sec Hollow Hold

17

50 Squats
32 Tricep Pushups
75 sec Hollow Hold

18

50 Squats
33 Tricep Pushups
75 sec Hollow Hold

19

50 Squats
34 Tricep Pushups
75 sec Hollow Hold

20

50 Squats
35 Tricep Pushups
75 sec Hollow Hold

21

50 Squats
36 Tricep Pushups
90 sec Hollow Hold

22

50 Squats
37 Tricep Pushups
90 sec Hollow Hold

23

50 Squats
38 Tricep Pushups
90 sec Hollow Hold

24

50 Squats
39 Tricep Pushups
90 sec Hollow Hold

25

50 Squats
40 Tricep Pushups
90 sec Hollow Hold

26

50 Squats
41 Tricep Pushups
105 sec Hollow Hold

27

50 Squats
42 Tricep Pushups
105 sec Hollow Hold

28

50 Squats
43 Tricep Pushups
105 sec Hollow Hold

January Challenge: Getting Started with Squats

One of the first things that I hear from most women who are beginning to exercise with me is the list of why they can’t exercise. “My chest is too big so I can’t do anything that makes it bounce.” “I don’t like to get sweaty.” “I have bad knees.”

My usual response is something along the lines of “Get a really good sports bra; not the kind from the clearance rack at the local dollar store.” “Take a shower afterwards.” And finally, “so do I. Make sure you are helping and not hurting them. Not exercising them is hurting them.”

Obviously I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on tv. Before you start exercising if you have a medical condition you should check with your physician. But there are a lot of exercises that can help your knees if they are done properly. Squats are one of these exercises.

It’s important to do these correctly or you can hurt yourself, but doing them properly will strengthen the legs including the attachments around the knee, which helps to stabilize the knees.

Start by sitting about half way back in a hardback chair. Make sure your legs are at a 90 degree angle, with your ankles directly under your knees. Hold your hands straight out in front of you at chest height. Stand up without moving your feet. Then push your rear back in order to sit down again. That is the correct positioning for a squat. When you can do 20 of those easily, you can move on to the next step.

Start by standing in front of the chair. Lower your butt down and back as if you are sitting in the chair but stop just before sitting down. Stand back up. Your knees should never extend past your toes. Your chest stays up. Doing these over the toilet is often helpful to get the right angle — I usually tell women “it’s like peeing at a gas station; you’ve got to push the butt back and hover.” (Amazingly, women seem to understand those directions!!)

Give these a try and let me know what you think — I’d love to hear from you!

Julia’s Intermediate 10 minute workout plus more abs

Ok, so I’m assuming that by this point you can hold the Hollow Hold for a minute, or close to that. If not, then you should probably focus on that, and perhaps add a few of these, but I use the Hollow Hold as a measuring stick to know where your ab strength is at, and to give you the practice pulling in your ribs, because that is actually the shape you want to have for a plank or for pushups…

Hollow Hold with Arm Lift Sit on floor in Hollow Hold position (described in an earlier post). Since you can hold for 60 seconds with arms down by knees, bring arms up so hands are at ears and arms are bent. Pull elbows back so they are in line with shoulders. (It should feel like you just made “wings”). Now work on holding the hollow. Start with 10 seconds and work your way up to a minute. I’m betting a lot of money at this point that you sat up a bit. Lean back. Round your chest/shoulders in again. Go back to the basic position, then slowly bring up your arms…don’t fall….

Crunches: Here’s another one that most people do wrong. The point of a crunch is NOT to use the hips as a pivot and bounce up and down. Most people do this, especially on a stability ball, which simply shows that your butt/hips can bend. Great. But that’s not ab work. Lie down on your back on the floor with legs bent and feet flat on the floor. (Do not tuck your feet under something; that only brings in leg muscles.) Bring hands up to collarbone as if you are adjusting a shirt/collar (arms bent, hands in middle/front of chest). Squeeze abs downward as if you are pushing — labor? a bowel movement? (gross, I know, but it’s roughly the same muscles involved). THEN WHILE STILL PUSHING DOWNWARD lift chest up off ground about 3 -5 inches. Do NOT look at your belly while doing it; keep head neutral. All crunches should really be a four-step process. Squeeze, lift, come down, relax.

If you’re doing it right, it won’t really matter how strong you get, since an isometric is involved. The stronger you get, the stronger you will squeeze, so you will still get tired quickly.

The goal here is 25 – 30. At that point you should be feeling those abs. If not, squeeze harder and make sure you are lifting WHILE squeezing.

Arch ups: Many people focus on abs as “core”, forgetting about the back. Lie on the floor on your stomach. Keep your head neutral, looking at the floor. Place your arms at your sides/hips on the floor, with palms touching the ground. Again, this is a multi-step process: 1. squeeze butt cheeks together 2. Lift shoulders together (as if you are squeezing your shoulderblades together) and lift your chest/upper body up off floor. Make sure you are still looking at the ground — don’t lift/arch your head/neck. Make sure your toes are still on the ground. We are lifting the upper body, not the legs as well. 3. Relax and return to the ground.

Again, try for 25 – 30, though you’ll start with 15-20.

Side Sit-ups: Lie on your back as if you are doing Crunches. Then slowly drop both knees to one side while still bent. Your back will be twisting, and depending on how flexible you are, you may have a shoulder lift off the ground a bit. The goal is to keep both shoulders on the floor. So your bent legs will be to one side, and your upper body will be mostly flat on the ground. Then squeeze abs and attempt to sit up. You may need to extend your arms and “reach” towards your feet. Do 10 – 15 per side.

I will try to post a video link to these shortly.

Julia’s Less Than 10 Minute Beginner’s Workout

I frequently have people contact me and say “I want to begin exercising but I haven’t done anything in decades and I’m afraid you’ll yell at me like I see trainers do on tv.” My response is that yelling makes a good tv show, but often doesn’t work in real life.

So what can you do if it’s been a long time since you exercised? A good basic checkup with your doctor will give you a baseline on things like blood pressure and once you get clearance, then try the following:

Julia’s Less than 10 minutes Workout

10 pushups — if it’s been forever since you exercised, start standing feet away from a wall, hands at shoulder height and push. When or if that is easy then move to on your knees on the floor…keeping your butt squeezed and hips in-line from knees to shoulders. When you bend your arms your chin should touch the ground, and it should be in front of your hands (chin & hands make a triangle, and arms are bent at 90 degree angle). Only when you can do 25 of these easily should you move to 10 with only toes on the ground. Your low back should not be arched; your ribs should be pulled in and “pushed thru” your back.

Hollow hold for a count of 60. Sit on the ground with legs out in front of you. Put your fingertips at the top of your knees (closest to your trunk). Flip arms over so your palms are up. This forces your shoulders to round. Lean back until arms are straight, keeping chest hollowed and shoulders rounded. You likely will not be able to hold for a minute…just keep building up your time until you can hold it for a minute. Have contests with your children or grandchildren…do this during a commercial while watching tv.

20 Squats. It’s important to do these correctly or you can hurt your knees. Stand with legs shoulder width apart and feet about eight inches in front of a hard backed chair. Lower your butt down and back as if you are sitting in the chair but stop just before sitting down. Stand back up. Your knees should never extend past your toes. Your chest stays up. If you can’t do it properly then actually sit down and stand up. Doing these over the toilet is helpful to get the right angle — I usually tell women “it’s like peeing in the woods or over a gas station toilet — you’ve got to push the butt back…” If you can’t do the full squat then start by sitting in the chair with legs at 90 degrees and then stand up. Don’t pull your feet back. Keep the knees at 90 degrees. Have someone watch your knees until you know how to do it properly.

15 Triceps – find a step or a stair. Sit down on the ground with the step at your back. Reach back and put your hands on the step (either fingers forward or fingers “sideways”). Keeping your back to the stair and your weight on your hands, push yourself up and extend your hips into a straight line from shoulders to toes. keeping your weight on your hands, lower down.

Calf Raises – stand shoulder width apart. Go up on your toes as if you are in high heels. Hold for a second or two at the top. Lower down. Do 10 like that. Then put your feet together. Keeping your heels and toes together, do the same thing. Do 10 like that.

Do those every day for 3 weeks and you will see a big difference. If you do them and need more advanced ones, let me know. Oh, and if you are mildly sore the next day, then you need to make sure to do the exercises because that will make you feel better.