Reverse Lunge Leg Kick

The Home Exercise of the Week this week is the Reverse Lunge Leg Kick.  If you ever have one of those personal trainers that are always pushing you to do more when you don’t want to, then this exercise could come in handy! 😉

Like a regular reverse lunge, the Reverse Lunge Leg Kick works your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.  Adding the leg kick however, will increase the difficulty and will greatly improve balance, coordination, and core strength.

Some key points to remember when doing the Reverse Lunge Leg Kick:

  • Step backwards with one leg and lunge down until both legs are at 90 degree angles
  • Keep your back upright and straight throughout the movement
  • When stepping out of the lunge, push up through your front heel
  • When raising your knee up to do the kick, make sure to really squeeze your ab muscles (make sure your trainer is close enough in front of you as well if he/she is annoying you!)
  • give a nice forceful kick and bring the same leg back in to the lunge and repeat
  • do 10 to 12 reps for one leg then repeat on the other leg

So there you have the Reverse Lunge Leg Kick!  This is a great variation to the regular lunge and also good practice if you ever want to be a kung fu master!

Cross Body Mountain Climber

This week’s featured exercise is the Cross Body Mountain Climber.  This is a fantastic exercise that will build strength and tone your abs including your obliques.  Not only will it bring you one step closer to that highly sought after “six pack”, it will also strengthen and tone your entire body!  Shoulders, triceps, chest, back, quadriceps, glutes, and calves are also working in this movement.

Some key points to remember when doing the Cross Body Mountain Climber is to keep your body straight from head to toe.  So no butts in the air on this one!  If your butt is up high you won’t be engaging your abs and too much strain will be put on your shoulders.  Another point to remember is to keep your abdominals flexed throughout the movement.  An easy way to engage your abs is to pull your belly button in towards your spine.  If you aren’t flexing your stomach then the abs aren’t being worked as effectively as they could be.

The difference between this exercise and the regular Mountain Climber is the degree to which your oblique muscles are being used.  Driving your knee to your opposite elbow will really get them working.

The Cross Body Mountain Climber can be done anywhere so by adding this great core exercise to your routine you’ll be on your way to a strong and flat stomach!

Close-Grip Pushup

The Home Exercise of the Week this week is the Close-Grip Pushup also known as the Military Pushup.  This is a great exercise to work your tricep muscles, inner chest muscle, anterior deltoid (front shoulder), as well as your core!

This is generally more challenging than a regular pushup because the tricep muscles are the prime mover whereas your chest does more of the work in a regular pushup.  Since the tricep muscles are smaller than the muscles of your chest they won’t have as much strength.

If you are new to performing the Close-Grip Pushup, you will most likely find that your elbows tend to flare out from your body because your chest takes over and does the work to compensate for the weaker tricep muscles.  You will want to try and keep your elbows tucked in to your body as much as possible to avoid this.  Over time, as your triceps get stronger, it will be much easier to keep your elbows from leaving your sides.

Another key point to remember when performing this exercise is to always keep your body as straight as possible.  There is a tendency, especially from the kneeling position, to just move your upper body down towards the floor while leaving your butt up in the air.  You will want to make sure that your hips come down with you so you get the full benefit of the exercise.

So there you have the Close-Grip Pushup!  Add this effective exercise to your routine and you’ll be on your way to sculpting strong and shapely arms!

One Sided Body Weight Squat

This weeks Home Exercise of the Week is the One Sided Body Weight Squat.  This is a great exercise to isolate one leg more than the other and is a nice change from doing just regular squats.  The muscles being worked are your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.  The key to doing this exercise properly is to keep your body weight on that one leg the whole time while using the other leg for balance support.  Make sure to push up through the heel of the working leg and keep your back upright and straight.  To make this a little more challenging try holding on to some dumbbells or a kettle bell!

Recognizing and Busting Through a Fitness Plateau

“I’ve been working hard over the last few months.  I think I’ve been eating pretty good.  I had great results at the beginning of my routine and was super motivated but now the results have stopped and I feel unmotivated, burnt out, and frustrated!”

Do any of these statements sound familiar?  If so, then chances are you have hit the inevitable fitness plateau.

Over the past 10 years of personal training and helping people achieve their fitness goals, I have seen this happen time and time again and have even experienced it myself.  It happens to everyone and with this post, I want to help you recognize the signs of a fitness plateau and how to bust through it and get you back on your way to feeling great and progressing towards your fitness goals.

First of all, let’s look at the signs that you have hit a plateau.  The most obvious sign is the inability to progress at one’s goals whether it is weight loss, weight gain, strength gains or muscle growth.  Another sign is lack of motivation and fatigue which are psychological responses resulting from your inability to progress and to a lesser degree from over training.

So how do you get past this plateau and back on track to reaching your goals?

  1. Rest!  Sometimes your body just needs a break.  You’ve been working hard for months day in and day out and this can wear your mind and body down after a while.  Try taking a week off of your routine to refresh your mind and body.  This doesn’t mean just sit around on the couch all week eating junk food!  Do something different.  Going for walks, a swim, and yoga are a few examples of active resting that will keep you moving but are much less stressful on your mind and body.  When you start back in to a more rigorous routine, you will be refreshed and ready to get back on track.
  2. Change up your routine.  If you have been doing the same workouts with the same weights and repetitions for the last 6 to 8 weeks then your body has most likely adapted to the stress you are putting on it.  The human body is very good at adapting to the stresses it is exposed to so by changing what you are doing, your body will have to change to adapt to these new stresses.  It doesn’t have to be complicated either.  You can change the number of reps and the amount of weight you are doing.  You can try adding some plyometrics in to your routine which are explosive movements that usually involve jumping.  You can also choose a different exercise for the muscle group you are working or even split your workouts to an upper/lower body split if you are doing full body workouts.  The possibilities are endless and if you aren’t sure what to do then seek out some advice and tips from a fitness professional.
  3. Check your eating habits.  If you have been on a strict low calorie diet for a while now, your body might be in starvation mode where it believes it needs to store the food you’ve eaten as body fat in order to function and give you the energy you need.  You can trick your body back in to fat burning mode by adding one high calorie cheat day during the week.  Doing this will kind of reset your metabolism and tell your body that it’s ok to burn the food you’re eating for energy.  On the other hand though, you might just be eating too many high calorie and processed sugary foods during the week which will stop your weight loss as well.  A good rule of thumb is to eat small meals every few hours that are packed with protein.  This will help you build some muscle which in turn will increase your metabolism and you’ll be burning more calories throughout the day.
  4. Keep your workout time to an hour or less.  The purpose of any workout routine is to challenge your body enough to stimulate change.  You don’t need to annihilate your muscles!  When you put your muscles through intense exercise for a prolonged period of time, your body goes in to a state of catabolism which is muscle breakdown.  This usually happens after an hour and a half of training and if this is done consistently it will result in over-training.  Over-training leads to muscle weakness, fatigue and lack of motivation, a weakened immune system and an overall lack of results.  Studies have shown that the growth assisting hormones the body releases during exercise peak within 30 minutes and decline shortly after.  So try to keep your workout time around 45 minutes to an hour and never more than 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  5. Proper rest between workouts.  In the beginning of your new workout routine you are highly motivated and you want to do whatever it takes to get to your goal.  This is great but sometimes people have a tendency to do too much, thinking this will get them to their goal faster.  Your body needs time to rest and recover between workouts so make sure you are giving your body that much needed rest otherwise you’ll be getting in to the over-training situation again.  If you are doing full body resistance workouts you should try to have at least a day of rest in between each workout.  A couple of full body workouts back to back once in a while is ok but if you are doing that all the time it will have a negative effect on you over time.  If you enjoy resistance training and would like to do it more often then try splitting up the muscle groups.  You could do an upper body workout one day and then a lower body workout the next day for example.
  6. Sleep. The 5 steps mentioned previously will definitely help you break through your fitness plateau but sleep is a big factor in your progress as well!  Your body regenerates and repairs muscle tissue the fastest when you are sleeping so it is important that you are getting plenty of sleep each night.  You should strive to get 7 or 8 hours of good quality sleep each night to ensure that your body is properly rested.  The amount of sleep you get has a direct effect on your energy levels as well as your training performance which is very important when it comes to seeing results.  I struggle with getting enough sleep myself sometimes and it’s easy to get caught up in things but you have to try and do whatever it takes to get that much needed sleep.  Your body will thank you for it!

So there you have 6 steps to help you bust through your fitness plateau and I want to mention one final thought on the subject to help you reach your goals.  Above all else, your mindset is the biggest factor pushing you forward or holding you back.  Be persistent and determined, have a clear goal in mind and hold on to that at all times, don’t let the inevitable setbacks and plateaus stop you, listen to your body and pay attention to your emotions, choose to be happy now instead of waiting for your results to be happy, relax, have fun, enjoy the journey and know that by taking care of your mind, body, and spirit you will be rewarded for your efforts!