Around the World

It’s Home Exercise of the Week time and this week I have another great core exercise for you to try.  I like to call it Around the World but I’m sure other people call it by different names.

The Around the World exercise is challenging and definitely not a beginner exercise so make sure you are ready for this one before trying it.  If you can do Side to Side Leg Raises with little difficulty then you will know that you are ready to go Around the World!

You will be working your lower back, lower abdominals, obliques, and hip flexors with this exercise.  As always, proper form is key to working the targeted muscles effectively and safely.  Let’s take a look at the key points to doing the Around the World properly.

  • lay on the floor face up with your arms extended out to your side to stabilize yourself
  • raise your legs straight up so they are perpendicular to the floor
  • keeping your legs straight, lower both feet down to your side until they are almost touching the floor then swing them out in front of you and continue on to the other side and back up to the starting position
  • repeat but go the other direction this time and keep switching directions for each rep
  • throughout the whole set make sure that you are driving your belly button down towards your spine to keep your abdominals engaged and your lower back flat against the floor
  • if you find that your lower back is hurting from this move then don’t lower your legs as far and if that doesn’t help then discontinue the exercise

So there you have the Around the World.  Add a couple sets of 15 to 20 repetitions to your ab routine or throw it in to a superset with your other workout routines.  It’s a challenging exercise but over time you will get stronger and your core will thank you.  Also, as with the Side to Side Leg Raises, you can hold a light dumbbell between your feet to really up the intensity!  Happy traveling!  😉

Side to Side Pushup

Pump up your upper body with this Home Exercise of the Week!  The Side to Side Pushup is another great body weight exercise that will target your chest, shoulders, and triceps as well as promote shoulder mobility.

There are a few different versions of this exercise that you can do depending on your fitness level.  In the video, I show the basic regressed version that would be ideal for beginner to intermediate levels.  If you are an absolute beginner though, I would recommend just doing a straight up and down pushup from the knees without the side to side movement.

Let’s take a look at the key points to doing the Side to Side Pushup properly.

  • assume the pushup position from your knees or toes but instead of having your hands shoulder width apart, keep them together directly underneath your upper chest
  • make sure your body is perfectly straight (don’t stick your butt up in the air) and pull your belly button in towards your spine to keep your abs tight
  • move one hand to your side while keeping your other hand and feet or knees stationary
  • keep your body straight while performing the pushup and return to the starting position in the middle as you come up
  • repeat on the other side

So there you have the Side to Side Pushup.  Like I said, there are a few different versions and if you want more of a challenge then do the pushup from your toes instead of your knees.  For an even more advanced version, you can move one foot to the side at the same time as your hand.  This does take a good amount of coordination and strength however so make sure you are comfortable with the easier versions first before attempting this one!


For those of you who are super hero fans, this Home Exercise of the Week will bring a smile to your face.  This is not a super hero move however and the only similarity between the Superman exercise and the man of steel is the position you are in during the contraction of the movement.  However, you can always pretend you are superman or superwoman if that will help you get through the exercise.

The Superman is a great core exercise that will specifically target your spinal erectors as well as your glutes and upper back muscles.

Let’s take a look at how to do the Superman properly.

  • lay in a prone position (face down) with arms extended out in front of you
  • take a deep breath in and then exhale as you lift your arms and legs off the floor as high as you can (you should be feeling a contraction in your lower and upper back as well as your glutes)
  • hold for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly lower back down to the starting position
  • repeat a few more times

So there you have the Superman.  If you find that you can’t lift your arms and legs very high off the floor, that’s ok.  In time you will build strength and become more flexible which will allow you to raise higher.  For an added challenge – just in case you really do feel like superman – you can hold for 30 seconds to a minute or even hold on to some light dumbbells!

Resolution Checkup

As you probably know, two of the most popular new year’s resolutions are to eat healthier and get in shape.  You may have set these resolutions for yourself this year and anyone going to the gym or driving by it can see by the parking lot of circling cars that many, many other people have as well.

new-years-resolution-appleJanuary and February are typically the busiest months of the year for gyms and fitness professionals but inevitably the number of people exercising decreases as people get frustrated with lack of results, or the high motivation they had at the beginning of the year starts to fade away.

We are now at the beginning of March and it’s time for a resolution checkup!  Are you on track with the goals you set at the beginning of the year or have you lost your motivation?  Are you starting to skip workouts or maybe you’ve given up completely?  Whatever is going on, it’s time to reassess your goals and I will show you some ways to stay on track so you can achieve results and obtain the health and fitness you deserve.

Goal Setting

The first step is to come up with a big goal then break it down in to some smaller short term realistic goals that you believe you can achieve in a realistic time frame.  Making resolutions in January goal_setting_activitiessaying you want to lose weight, eat healthy, and workout more are too broad of goals.  Of course that is what you want to achieve but how much weight do you want to lose and by when?  What junk foods are you going to limit as you go about your day?  How often and on what days and times are you going to work out?  These are some questions you will need to ask yourself to develop a clear picture in your mind of where you want to be fitness and health wise in 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and beyond.

The next step once you have thought of a big long term goal then broken it down in to smaller short term goals, is to write them down and put them in a place where you will see them often daily.  Having a constant reminder of your goals will keep them fresh in your mind.  Your mind is a very powerful tool and what you focus on you get so focusing positively on your goals will keep you inspired and motivated.

Breaking your big goal down to monthly targets will really help you stay focused and motivated on what you need to do and will also help alleviate overwhelming feelings.  Always remember that small steps forward on your fitness journey will inevitably bring you to your destination.

Set a Resolution at the Beginning of Each Month

2013-CalendarThe average person who sets a resolution in January is very motivated in the beginning then life happens and those resolutions get left behind until the following year.  Then the same resolution is made and left behind and so on and so on.

I believe you will have a much better chance of success if you set a small resolution at the beginning of each month.  This relates to breaking your big goal down in to smaller goals.  Figure out what you can do this month that will help you toward your goals, write it down, and resolve to do it.  The sense of accomplishment from achieving a goal you have set for yourself is so huge and satisfying that it will drive you further and further to new heights of fulfillment and joy.  I believe all of us are happiest when we are making progress.  Life doesn’t stand still.  It is constantly changing and when we change and grow with it we can be swept away to our highest potential.  Resolve to be the best you can be and you can do this by setting monthly resolutions and doing your best to achieve them.

Vision and Mindset

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.When you are making these goals and resolutions you must be able to envision what it will feel like when you’ve achieved them.  You must be able to envision them so clearly that you feel as if you’ve already succeeded.  Like I said before, the mind is very powerful and if you can create the picture in your mind with feeling and your senses, that vision will drive you and inspire you to make it a reality.  You will attract the right people to help you get to where you want to go, you will attract helpful and beneficial knowledge from various sources, and you will attract opportunities to help this vision become a reality.

A mental exercise I like to do almost daily is to sit down and visualize how I want my day to go and how I want my life to be.  I picture it in my mind complete with feeling and senses.  For example, as a personal trainer, I envision myself helping people get in shape, eating better, and being the best they can be.  I imagine what that would feel like.  I see them happy which in turn brings me joy and I imagine what that feels like.  I also do this with my own health and fitness, finances, business, and relationships.  I imagine how I want each part to be as clearly as I can and try to feel what that will be like.  As with all things, this can change and grow as time goes on.

Immerse Yourself in Fitness and Learn, Learn, Learn

Another great way to stay motivated and on track with your goals is to learn as much as you can about fitness and learnnutrition.  Reading books, blogs and magazines and watching videos will keep fitness on your mind and you are far more likely to exercise and eat better if you are constantly thinking about it.

I remember when I started to work out I would read Muscle and Fitness or Muscle Media magazine.  I would watch Pumping Iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger or read his Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding.  Even though they are more geared towards bodybuilding, they would keep me very motivated to do my workouts.  The same can be said for any book, blog, or magazine.  You will move towards what you are focused upon.

The more you know about a subject the better.  Learning new things strengthens the mind and gives you the best possible chance of succeeding in not only your health and fitness but with any subject of your life that you would like to improve.  Knowledge is power and strength and this can help you overcome fears in your life if you apply that knowledge and try new things.

Seek Help

If you’re having trouble staying motivated or focused then seek help.  A personal trainer can help you set realistic goals, show you proper exercise routines to achieve those goals, and ensure that exercises are done properly so you don’t help-button-mdinjure yourself.  An injury can set you back days, weeks, or months and this is very discouraging and can be the deciding factor for many people to give up.  Personal trainers can also keep you accountable and help you stay focused and motivated.

If a personal trainer isn’t an option for you then find a workout partner who has similar goals as yourself.  A workout partner can hold you accountable as well because you know he or she will be waiting for you at the gym for your scheduled workout.

Support System

You will need to stay focused and on track with your resolutions so it’s a good idea to have Supp-Sys-6a great support system.  Friends and family who support you on your fitness journey will improve your chance of success dramatically.  On the other hand, if you are trying to eat healthy and you are surrounded by people who are eating junk all the time, this can really hold you back.  Try to avoid temptation as much as possible in the beginning until you have good control over your eating habits and if your family at home is eating unhealthy then do your best to encourage them to support you by joining in on healthy food choices.

Stay Positive

positiveFinally, I want to remind you that nobody is perfect and there could be slip-ups or setbacks on your fitness journey.  It is crucial that you do your best to stay positively focused on the end results.  Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach a set goal.  As long as you are working towards it you will get there.  Becoming negative and saying things like “I’ll never reach my goal”, “It’s too hard”, “I’m not good enough”, will sap all the motivation out of you and quite possibly stop you altogether from doing what needs to be done to succeed.  Negative talk and complaining externally and internally needs to be eliminated as much as possible.  Actually, limiting negative talk and complaining can be a good first resolution on your road to success!

So it’s now March and spring is on the way.  I hope you are on track with your goals and if not then I hope this resolution checkup can help you get back on the road to a happy, healthy, fit, and successful you!  Be the best you can be and never settle for less!

Crunch and Hold Leg Scissors

I have a core exercise for you for the Home Exercise of the Week.  It’s called Crunch and Hold Leg Scissors and if you’re familiar with Pilates then you’ll notice a similarity with this one.

Crunch and Hold Leg Scissors will work your lower abdominals as well as your hip flexors and for an added bonus the crunch and hold will isometrically work your upper abdominals.  So you know what that means….muscle burn time!

Let’s take a look at the key points to doing Crunch and Hold Leg Scissors properly.

  • lay face up on your mat and raise your legs to a 45 degree angle keeping them as straight as possible.
  • reach towards your toes with your hands by crunching up until your shoulders are off the floor.  Avoid going too high as this can strain your back and avoid tucking your chin in to your chest.
  • while holding the crunch, lower one leg until it is about an inch or two off the floor then return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
  • ensure that you are pulling your belly button in towards your spine to achieve optimal ab contraction and to avoid straining your lower back.
  • if you find that your back is arching or hurting while doing this exercise then don’t lower your legs as far down.  You can also just do a crunch while holding your legs up and not doing the scissor movement.

So there you have Crunch and Hold Leg Scissors.  Get those abs burning by adding a couple sets of 20 to 30 repetitions to your ab routine or add it in to a superset to get an even bigger metabolic boost!