When I first started working out, I joined a gym. It was awesome – open 24hrs with security, awesome facilities, and two personal trainers (a married couple, in their late 50s – I know, I was mad too) who owned and operated it. The gentleman was the one who showed me around his facility. First to the cardio center, then to the “core” area.
I didn’t even know what a “core” was, and I told him such. I had this awkward look on my face like, “This might be a stupid question, but.. what is a core?” He grabbed my hand and said, “There are no stupid questions in my house!” As he went on to say that the core is the entire batch of muscles that controls our midsections, I promptly told him, “Oh, I don’t have any abs. I mean, come on – I have to grab the top of the car in order to lift myself out of it.”
He laughed so hard at me, I felt like getting mad, LOL.
“We all have abs, Erika. Sure, we might have different levels of strength, but we all have them.”
I felt like telling him a giant “Whatever,” but I didn’t. Instead, I just listened as he offered up tons of exercises and tips for me to try to help “get some abs.” Here is one of those exercises. Hopefully, they’ll help you as much as they’ve helped me. 🙂
There you have it – a nice, challenging, simple method for working out your core. You don’t have to do a thousand of ’em, you don’t have to do a hundred, either. Going from zero to 20 is challenging enough. Try whatever you can, and when they start feeling too easy, let natural progression tell you to try doing more. Be happy, be healthy, be good!
Left in the comments from last week:
Q: Erika, just wondering how did you come up with your weight training routine? I previously worked with a trainer, but will probably on my own now. I know some of the things we have done, but the great thing about my trainer was that he changed the routine up so often. Yikes..I don’t even know where to begin.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
When I took my very first steps into working out, I was guided by the owner of my gym, who offered up two free sessions with either him or his wife/co-owner. He showed me around all of the equipment and provided me some insight on how to get the most out of my time in working out. I only lasted about six months at that gym before I moved… only losing 28lbs. Considering the intensity to which I was working, I should’ve lost more.. but as they say, you cannot out-train a bad diet.
After I started working out again (which came after I changed my eating habits), I started going to the gym and kinda just lifted and did every exercise I could do with the limited amount of equipment in my complex’s gym. As the gym became more crowded, I eventually faded to black. I had to create a routine that I’d be able to do at home. I was able to lose a good 90lbs just from working out at home on my own.
From that experience, I do have my fair share of advice that I offer up for anyone wanting to develop their own weight training routine.
Firstly, decide how many days a week you’re going to work out, and stick to it. Sure, there’s an accountability issue with skipping workouts, but it has much more to do with being efficient and effectively using the time you’ve set aside for weight training.
The first thing I learned the hard way is the value of working out “to muscle failure,” and that means that you’ve exhausted your body to the point where you cannot properly execute your exercise anymore. Which means, yes, you’ll need to chase that “burning” feeling that comes in the middle of an exercise. Your lifting is in vain if you never feel any struggle in the process of it.
The reason this is all so related is because when you work out “to failure,” you’re going to experience soreness. If you’ve decided to work out every day, you need to make sure you’re not working out the same muscles every day until they become sore. You’d never give yourself the opportunity to heal.
Your muscles should feel sore on some days after you exercise. If you go out and jog the same two miles at the same pace, day after day, you will never become faster, stronger or have greater endurance. If you stop lifting weights when your muscles start to burn, you won’t feel sore on the next day and you will not become stronger. All improvement in any muscle function comes from stressing and recovering. On one day, you go out and exercise hard enough to make your muscles burn during exercise. The burning is a sign that you are damaging your muscles. On the next day, your muscles feel sore because they are damaged and need time to recover. Scientist call this DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness.
[/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][…]
On one day, go out and exercise right up to the burn, back off when your muscles really start to burn, then pick up the pace again and exercise to the burn. Do this exercise-to-the-burn and recover until your muscles start to feel stiff, and then stop the workout. Depending on how sore your muscles feel, take the next day off or go at a very slow pace. Do not attempt to train for muscle burning again until the soreness has gone away completely. […]Exercise training is done by stressing and recovering. [source]
In other words… don’t burn out the same muscles every day.If you’ve made the decision to work out to failure every week day, you shouldn’t burn out your arms, abs and legs every single day. Stagger it – arms on Monday, abs on Tuesday, Legs on Wednesday. That gives your arms two days to heal, because they’re not being worked out to burn every day. That’s really important. Trust me.. I learned the hard way.
So, let’s say you’ve decided to lift weights three days a week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Marvelous. Pick a day to focus on each section of your body. Upper body for Monday, core for Wednesday, lower body for Friday. That’s the scenario I’m going to talk about for the rest of this post. And no, I’m not about to use overly technical titles for muscles and groups. It’s simply not necessary for me to “flex my intellectual muscle” on a “starting out” post.
Upper body includes your back, your shoulders, your arms, your chest and yes, that upper slope of your booty. Keep in mind that you target muscle groups together – your arms and your shoulders, your arms and your back, your upper booty and back, your arms and chest – which makes your exercises more efficient, thus cutting down on how much time you have to spend. (I like effective and efficient.) Never forget – exercises are just movements, and the body uses multiple muscle groups to execute movements.
Your core consists of the region of your body that supports your spine and pelvic areas. Basically, you’re talkin’ stomach, hips, lower back, and (in a way) your upper thigh area. People will claim that the upper thigh area doesn’t count, but I believe it has to be at least kept in mind because I know that when I get deep into my ab routine, my upper thighs burn. Not just burn, but burn.
Lower body? Thighs (all four sides – inner, outer, front and back), hips, booty and calves. I don’t know about you, but I love seeing that line from my ankle up to my hip because my muscles are so defined.
People talk about different exercises within a routine in terms of reps and sets. A “rep,” short for “repetition,” is just one complete motion. If I’m doing leg lifts, then one rep consists of my lifting my leg and lowering it back to start position. A “set” is just a grouping of reps. So, if I tell you that I do 4 sets of crunches, 35 reps each? That means I do 35 crunches, then stop, then another 35 crunches, then stop, then another 35 crunches, then stop, then another 35 crunches… then I die inside — I mean, then I’m done.
Don’t be convinced that you have to do a specific number of reps in order to be efficient – you don’t. You only have to develop that burn. That’s it. So if that burn means 10 reps in each set, or 40 reps in each set… do what you’ve got to do. In between each set, give your body time to rest a bit – for me, I gave myself 2 minutes at first, and was gradually able to decrease the time – and then on to the next set or exercise.
What weight should you choose? Something that feels almost too light, because after you move with that weight 15 times, you’ll certainly feel a burn. Don’t be afraid to take the time to do a few reps with a weight to figure out just how much weight you can handle.
As far as what exercises you should do… that depends on your goals. Keeping in mind the fact that “Terminator-style muscles” definitely do not happen overnight, so you shouldn’t worry about “bulking up out of nowhere,” what do you want to see? Firmer arms? More defined slope in your booty? Tighter thighs? (Please remember that the amount of fat your body has determines how visible your muscle definition will be.) What do you want to benefit from the most? A more secure posture? Stronger arms?
Your best resource from this point is, really, Google Video or, perhaps… some website with a section of exercise videos just for you. Pick the ones that keep you most intrigued and help you feel that burn, and you’ll stay going. Pay close attention to how the exercise is done – even the minor details – so that you can learn how to best benefit from the exercise without injuring yourself. Your trainer kept switching up the routines for three reasons – 1) to keep you interested, 2) to keep your body guessing and 3) to keep you from getting too comfortable (take that last one how you will.)
I know that I left out quite a bit, so I’m asking everyone else – what else do you think is important in creating a routine? I’d like to leave out “what exercises to do” in regards to this post, because that deserves more specificity than this post should offer right now. But what tips do you have?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Never mind the adorable girl showing off the exercise, but pay close attention to the instructions, here. I find that it took me a while to focus doing this exercise. You have to be careful that you’re not just swinging your legs back and forth, that you’re really working muscle groups with this one!
I started this one doing 10 of them back to back in three different sets. Give it a shot! Great for the booty, too!
A big part of burning fat is cardiovascular exercise (also lovingly known as cardio.) The most toned muscles in the world will never be seen if there’s a thick layer of fat covering them, you know? I deal with this right now – trying to get rid of the last bits of fat that I have just… chillin’ on my thighs so that I can let my newly defined thigh and calf muscles shine through! Nothing worse than seeing the definition in some spots, only to have it hidden in others.
A part of my OWN home workout includes skipping rope, and it’s been working wonders for me. I have a nice cheap jump rope that I got back from the dollar general, LOL, so I don’t use the cool rope this gentleman has in his video. Some days, I don’t use the rope at all, and I “mock jump rope” throughout the morning. Give yourself a good five minutes with this exercise, and after a few weeks you’ll definitely start feeling some changes in your body!
Feeling fancy? Check out these Vibration Plate Reviews!
Another big thing for my figure is working on these thighs! One of the slight downfalls – among all the blessings – with a major weight loss is the need to tone to make sure that the skin comes back into place… and has a nice place to come home to, if you know what I mean!
So, for the legs and abs, I present the double leg lifts! I’m not very familiar with Pilates (although I do practice Yoga), but the moves are challenging and leave you feeling like you really accomplished something!
I’m always asked to spill my ab exercises – by one persistent visitor in particular *waving to Tracy* – so I figured, why not? This section of the site serves as a directory for me as much as it does for you. I’d like to go exercise shopping, too! LOL
Here are the straight leg crunches I do. I started off doing ten crunches… then 3 sets of ten… then I went up from there. Give ’em a shot!
If you’re looking to tone those sides up, give the side bend a shot:
I do 4 sets of 30 about 3 times a week. They help me keep my curves in check even though I’m losing weight at the same time. 🙂
Be happy, be healthy! 🙂
Give the Half Moon sequence a shot, and see how good you feel afterwards!
What I’m seeking to do is present you with a ton of different exercises that you can try in the comfort of your own home, maybe even your own bed!
I know that my biggest thing was getting over how silly I felt I might look trying to workout at home. As a friend said, “Some people need to go to a gym to feel as though they’ve accomplished anything.” I can’t necessarily say that this was how I felt, but I know that whatever it was was costing me my health in the process, and I needed to get it together!
The first of our exercises is something that will help with stretches as much as they will help with the booty area (yes, we will be giving the booty extra special attention!) as well as the upper thighs. Check out this hip extensions clip brought to us by the folks at expertvillage.com!
For your upper arm strength and blood flow, the Sun-Moon sequence is a great option. Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you!
I’m a nut about my abs. I won’t even lie! I love the feeling I have after a nice ab workout – I sit a little higher in my seat, I feel a little more secure in my movements, and I go a little harder in my other exercises, because I know that my midsection is stronger.
Having said that, this exercise here kicks my butt.
How many should you do? Honestly, I can’t say. I started out with 3 sets of ten. I’d do ten (5 on each side,) then breathe for ten seconds… ten more, take a breather… then ten more.
Give it a shot, and let me know how it works out for you!
Cardio AND ab work at the same time? Total win!
When I first started out with exercise, I would take my daughter to the gym in our apartment complex during the hours when most people were expected to be at work. However… during certain seasons, the gym becomes a 24-hour pick-up spot. No matter the hour, it was always full of people. It became less and less sensible for me to bring my little one in there. It was starting to feel like I was developing an excuse to not workout – “I can’t go to the gym because the fellas are going to trample all over my daughter in her stroller.. she’ll be in the way. They’re going to put me out. I can’t go!” – and I had to do something.
So, my little one and I spent a good amount of time at home. Sad that I couldn’t use the gym equipment – and unwilling to spend money (in a recession, no less) on my own – I had to come up with an effective manner of getting in my exercise. My desire to not spend money on getting fit had only a little to do with the fact that I’m cheap (painfully cheap.) It had much more to do with the fact that I needed to know that the effort I was putting forth wouldn’t be dependent upon how much money I could spend to get it. I needed to know that my business could fail, I could go broke and poor and be homeless living with a friend and that I’d still be able to maintain my health on my own. That I could innovate ways to get it done, and that I was devoted enough to my cause to continue to innovate.
After enough reading and research, I got it. Meet… my dumbell.
Look at it this way – a gallon of water weighs approximately 8lbs. There are 16 cups in a gallon of water. In theory, each cup weighs half a pound. If I pour 10 cups of water in each jug, I have two five pound weights at home to use. Simple as that. Obviously, you might not want that water sloshing around back and forth (if you did, you’d simply have an effective homemade Shake Weight) so feel free to use smaller containers, so long as you can maintain a good grip on it.
I also built a routine around calisthenics. Calisthenics are, in few words, exercises that consist of a series of movements that basically use the body’s weight against itself in order to build muscle. Think squats, push ups, jumping jacks, lunges. While you may not be able to increase the amount of weight (and actually hope that it decreases), you can increase the number of exercises you do and use different variations of the same exercise.
For example – I went from regular lunges to walking lunges. Yowzers. I went from squats to plié squats to frog hops. Double yowzers. I went from doing my push-ups against a wall to doing them with my feet on the floor and hands on a chair to finally doing them on the floor. See? It’s all about time, patience and progress.You’ll know when it starts to feel too easy, and you’ll want more.. or different.. or more challenging.
My last method of infusing my in-house day with exercise? Tabatas.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][begin superhero music]
Tabatas are a four minute long method of interval training. 20 seconds of going as hard as you can, followed by 10 seconds of rest. A cycle repeated with 4 different exercises – totaling 2 minutes – and then your entire 2 minute routine repeated twice. This is great for early morning just-woke-up activity, or “Dang, I missed the gym, let me at least get in a little something” night time activity.
So, for example, on leg day – I’d do those hammer curls with my jug as hard and fast as I could (while trying to maintain my form) for 20 seconds, then rest for ten seconds. Then, I’d switch to my walking lunges for 20 seconds, then rest for ten seconds. Then I’d hit my leg swings for 20 seconds, then rest for ten seconds. Then? Tricep dips for 20 seconds, then rest. Finally, I’d repeat the entire sequence… feeling like I got beat down in the end.
Between tabatas, calisthenics and my gallon jug dumbbells, I was able to get my exercise in at home when I couldn’t get to the gym with the little one. Hopefully, they’ll give you a few options in how to expand your at-home workout, too. :)[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]