Have A Little Fun With Your Cardio

Posted: July 25, 2014 in Fitness, Fun
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I am definitely not one to do the same workout over and over again.  I think that’s why I’m not a big fan of traditional cardio.  There’s just something about being on the same machine for more than a few minutes that bores the crap out of me.  If I do machines, I do mix it up with intervals or do a mix of machines to reduce the boredom.  I also do a lot of non-traditional types of cardio:  barbell complexes, circuits, battle ropes, etc.  But I still like to add a little fun to my cardio, so here’s what I did today.

Got a deck of cards?  Me neither…lol.  I knew I had a deck somewhere but God knows what my daughters did with it or even if it was a complete set.  With some quick thinking, I searched the Google Play store and found a simple Deck of cards app.  Perfect!

I assigned an exercise to each suit.  You can make it any exercise you want…the body part you were working on or something completely different.  It’s totally up to you!  Here were my choices for today:

Hearts:  Bodyweight Squats

Clubs:  Single-arm DB Snatch

Spades:  2-arm Kettlebell Swing

Diamonds:  Deck Squats (this is where you squat down, butt to the floor, roll back with knees tucked in, roll forward and then stand up) – for a little extra oomph, I made them Deck Jump Squats! 😀

Each numbered card gives you the number of reps (2-10) and I assigned the King, Queen, and Jack 15 reps, and Aces 20 reps.

Set your timer (I did 20 minutes at the end of my resistance workout), grab the top card or swipe the app, and go!  Keeping shuffling through the cards taking a rest only if you need it until your time is up.  I must admit, this was the most fun I’ve had with cardio in a long time!

Leg Circuit

Posted: July 17, 2014 in Fitness
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I have found that one of the most difficult workouts to complete at home successfully is legs.  When most people think of a leg workout (myself included), they think of heavy squats, leg presses, leg extension, etc.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could safely clean and press the amount of weight I would want to squat at home.  I certainly don’t have a fancy leg press or leg extension machine at home either.

So, my favorite way to do legs at home is to complete a circuit and utilize a lot of unilateral moves.  The following is the circuit I completed at home today using only a few kettlebells and a step.  It took me about 1 hour to complete 4 total rounds (including interruptions from my kids, the phone, and a few curious bees)…

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All exercises were done back-to-back with little-to-no rest.  I used 15 reps for all of the exercises with the exception of the medicine ball squats (20 reps).  So, grab your Top Secret Nutrition Pump Igniter or Cardio Igniter (’cause either one will do!), warm-up and GO!

  • Kettlebell (KB) Goblet Squat
  • KB Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  • KB Sumo Deadlift
  • KB Step-Up
  • KB Bulgarian Split Squat
  • KB Deficit Reverse Lunge
  • Bodyweight Unilateral Box Squat
  • Bodyweight Squat with Medicine Ball Squeeze (medicine ball between knees, fast reps – if you drop the ball, start over! :-P)
  • KB Calf Raise Farmer’s Walk (about 50′ x 2)

Take a few minutes between each circuit to rest and complete 2-4 circuits total.  It may not be heavy but I was certainly sore afterward!

If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it goes!

I can’t believe that we’re halfway into July already!  I’ve been squeezing in my home workouts whenever and however I can with my kids home this summer.  Today I’m going to share with you one of my “quickies”.  I had about 25-30 minutes to get something done and I wanted to make sure I hit a little bit of everything.  Weights, cardio, upper body, lower body, core, and a few drills for fun.  I wanted to keep the intensity high the entire time so after downing my Cardio Igniter from Top Secret Nutrition, I strung together a quick warm-up, 4 bouts of Tabata, and some drills at the end.

Warm-up: 2-3 minutes of jog in place and dynamic stretches (I wrote another blog on the dynamic warm-up if you’re interested:  https://fitgirlkris.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/the-dynamic-warm-up/ )

Tabata #1 – Lower Body Focus (a quick reminder of Tabata – it is 20 seconds of work alternated with 10 seconds of rest and performed for 4 minutes.  This equals 8 total “rounds” of exercise)

  • 2 rounds of Goblet Squat (I used a 35# Kettlebell)
  • 2 rounds of Kettlebell Swings
  • 2 rounds of Jump Squats
  • 2 rounds of Pop Squats

Tabata #2 – Upper Body Focus (I wanted to focus mostly on shoulders on this particular day)

  • 2 rounds of DB Lateral Raises
  • 2 rounds of DB Bent-Over Raises
  • 2 rounds of Push Press
  • 2 rounds of “V” Push-Ups

Tabata #3 – Cardio/Conditioning Focus

  • 2 rounds of Battle Ropes
  • 2 rounds of Jump Rope
  • 2 rounds of Jumping Jacks
  • 2 rounds of High Knees

Tabata #4 – Core Focus

  • 2 rounds of Mountain Climbers
  • 2 rounds of Burpees
  • 2 rounds of Plank with Arm Raises
  • 2 rounds of Plank with Leg Abduction Hops

Rest about 1 minute or so between each Tabata bout.

To finish the workout I did a few laps up and down my street of the following:

  • 1 lap of forward jogging
  • 1 lap of backward jogging
  • 2 laps of lateral shuffle
  • 2 laps of cariocas

Make sure to cool down and stretch for a few minutes and you’re done!

But you guys with longer hair can certainly benefit too!

I train almost everyday…occasionally, I’ll workout more than once a day.  What’s a girl with long hair to do with all that sweat?  I do shower (99% of the time 😉 …) but I can’t wash my hair every day or twice a day for fear that it may turn to straw and all fall out!

You may or may not be familiar with these products, but I have certainly found them to be a lifesaver especially in the summer.  They have recently become more popular (and thankfully as a result, less costly) but you can do wonders with your post-workout hair with a bottle of cleansing conditioner or dry shampoo.

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Cleansing conditioner is great (now I know you’ve all seen those Wen infomercials) and now many drugstore brands have one (Herbal Essences, Pantene, etc.). The cost is quite reasonable (well under $10 for most of the one’s I’ve seen in the store).  I love to use this especially after an outdoor or cardio session when more than half of my hair is soaked in sweat.  In the shower, you just massage it in, comb it through, finish your shower, and then rinse it out – only one product needed and it’s got you covered.  Several times a week I will use a regular shampoo and conditioner to get extra clean.

I’ll use a dry shampoo in between doing the other “cleansings” to keep my hair fresh.  This can’t be any easier…spray it on your roots, massage it in with your hands, and brush it out.  Voila, ready to go.  This is perfect for after hitting the weights or other times when I need to get cleaned up quickly.

Other helpful hints for keeping your hair under control during workouts…wear a wide headband to help absorb any sweat and keeping hair fully tied up (like in a bun).  This keeps the ends of your hair from getting soaked.

Now, if any of you can find a great trick for escaping a super sweaty sports bra, please share!

 

 

 

No Gym, No Problem!

Posted: June 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hey guys and girls!  It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me with my job, the start of my business, and school coming to a close for my girls but I’ve been doing my best to stay on track.

Over the summer, I’m going to have much less gym time so I’m going to have to be creative with my workouts at home.  Luckily, over the past few years, I’ve accumulated quite a few useful pieces of equipment.  You don’t need to be at the gym to get a great workout. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the gym – there’s just something about it that motivates me to work hard.  

Here are the things you’ll need to get a great workout done at home – a few key pieces of equipment, motivation, consistency, intensity, and a little bit of creativity.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll post some of the workouts that I do to give you some ideas.  

Tonight’s workout:  Back!  Here’s what I did:

Superset:

  • Pull-ups:  4 sets to failure with 4 different grips (standard, wide, neutral, and chins) – Yes, I have a pull-up bar in my bathroom doorway (don’t judge!)
  • One-arm DB Row:  4 x 10

Tri-Set:

  • Bent-over Barbell Row:  5 sets, 3 grips (overhand, underhand, and wide) x 15 reps
  • Weight Plate (Lat) Pullovers:  5 x 15
  • Seated Rows with Extra Heavy Resistance Band:  5 x 20 standard reps, 20 pulses at end-range

Tri-Set:

  • Bent-over Back Flye: 4 x 20
  • Bent-over (straight arm) Shoulder Extension: 4 x 10, last set drop set
  • One-arm Low Row with Extra Heavy Resistance Band: 4 x 12

Finisher:

  • 100 reps TRX Inverted Rows:  As many sets as it took to complete

Add in 20 minutes on my Spin Bike and I got a complete work out done in about an hour!

 

In this week’s blog, I want to discuss one of the newest fat loss supplements from Top Secret Nutrition.  I have had the opportunity to use the new stimulant-based thermogenic Ab Igniter.  I am certainly no stranger to fat burners having sampled many in the last few years during competition prep.  I have used both stimulant-based and non-stimulant-based and they both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Anyway, back to Ab Igniter…

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First off, all the ingredients and amounts are clearly laid out on the label – I love it when I know exactly what I’m getting and how much.  This formula includes many of the most popular and researched fat loss ingredients on the market today including Garcinia Cambogia, Green Coffee Extract, Green Tea Extract, Caffeine, Raspberry Ketones, and Yohimbe to name a few.

Ok, so what did these ingredients do in “real life”?  Anyone who knows me, knows I have an appetite…if it looks good, smells good, and ain’t moving too fast, I’ll eat it…well, maybe.  But, this product really did curb my crazy appetite.  I’m usually starving by mid-morning, but after taking this product, that certainly wasn’t the case.  The energy from this product was also good.  I felt a pretty clean energy without any jitters and it lasted for a good part of the morning.  I usually took a second dose in the early afternoon to carry me through the rest of my day.  For those of you that are sensitive to caffeine, I would certainly recommend starting with only one capsule.  My end dose was 2 capsules twice a day and that was perfect for me.  Ok, confession time – my diet was not always the best while using this product and I still managed to lose some fat: win-win!  The Garcinia is supposed to slow fat accumulation so maybe that was it?!

I have seen some good results but will take a little time off before starting a second bottle 🙂  In a nutshell, if you’re looking for some clean energy and appetite suppression while trying to reach your fat loss goals, I definitely recommend Ab Igniter!

There really is no need to spend hours at the gym.  Sometimes I don’t even get to the gym…I’ve created quite the home gym over the last few years and to me, spending money on key pieces of equipment makes me much happier than spending money on shoes and handbags (don’t get me wrong, I love those too)…

Monday was a super-busy day for me (as usual) between work, family, dinner, softball games, etc.  I had just over one hour during a break in the action to squeeze a workout in at home.  I saved a few minutes afterwards for a shower…you’re welcome.. 😉

I used an adjustable dumbbell set and a few kettlebells (but you can used dumbbells for the entire workout if you want):

I performed all the exercises in the order listed, took a 1 minute break after the end of the circuit, and completed 4 total circuits.  I did a quick light aerobic warm-up for about 5 minutes:

  • Dumbbell Curl to Overhead Press x 15 reps
  • Heavy Kettlebell Swings x 20 reps
  • Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks x 15 reps
  • Renegade Row x 10 reps each side
  • Unilateral Bent-Over Row with Kettlebell x 15 reps each
  • Burpees x 10 reps
  • Reverse Lunges x 10 reps each
  • Russian Twist x 20 reps
  • Unilateral Floor Bridge x 15 reps each
  • Plank with Alternate Leg Lifts x 10 reps each
  • Kettlebell Deadlift x 15 reps
  • Unilateral Kettlebell Thruster x 10 reps each
  • 3-way Delt Raises x 10 reps each (Front, Lateral, and Bent-Over)

That completes 1 cycle.  Rest for about a minute to grab some water and catch your breath and then go again!  This type of workout gives you the best of both worlds (as long as you use a weight that is challenging).  Not only are you stimulating each major muscle group, but your heart-rate remains elevated for the entire hour for that fat-blasting effect.  I try to do a workout like this about once per week in between my other “standard” weightlifting routines.  If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes!

 

I think it’s about time I got back to posting recipes.  I was in the mood for a little something with an Asian flair (again…lol) but I needed it to be lower in carbs (I’m currently cycling my carbs – see my previous post https://fitgirlkris.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/carb-cycling/ ) so that meant no rice for tonight.  I remembered a favorite appetizer when dining out and figured I’d put my healthier spin on it.  So, for tonight’s dinner, I made chicken lettuce wraps with peanut sauce.

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I cooked in bulk so I’m guessing I made about 3 pounds of chicken altogether so you can certainly cut this recipe in half if you’re making a much smaller batch:

Ingredients:

3 lb. Chicken Tenderloins cut into small pieces

Sauce:

1/8 cup Liquid Aminos or Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce

1/8 cup Roasted Garlic Flavored Rice Vinegar

1/8 cup Honey

1/8 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk (I was out of Coconut Milk but you can use that too)

3 TBSP PB2

1 TBSP Natural Peanut Butter (Creamy)

Truvia or Stevia to taste (I used approx 2 tsp) – just to take a little bit of the bitterness away from the rice vinegar.  Since this is a no-cook sauce, you can certainly taste and alter it prior to adding it to the chicken.

 

In a pan over medium heat, add 1 TBSP of Toasted Sesame Oil, chicken, black pepper, garlic, and ginger (I almost never measure these ingredients – I tend to sprinkle them on to taste).  Cook the chicken until it is done.

While the chicken is cooking, add the sauce ingredients to a measuring cup and mix thoroughly.  After mixing, add enough water to fill the measuring cup to the 1 cup mark.

When the chicken is done cooking, add the sauce and simmer until it reduces a bit (about 5-10 minutes).

Wash several large pieces of Romaine Lettuce and pat dry.  Place the chicken on top of the lettuce, wrap up, and enjoy!  Just make sure to have plenty of napkins ready – I don’t know about you, but I’m a total slob when I eat these!

 

Hey guys and girls…I know I’ve been quiet the last few weeks but I’m doing my best to try and catch up.  If you’re in the mood for a ramble, read on…if not, I encourage you to hit the back button.

They say “things happen for a reason” right?  I am often baffled by what that reason ends up being.  In a nutshell, the last few months of my life have been a sure test of my real “strength”.  Some of you may know that I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal stuff since the end of last December:  I quit a job, my mom passed away suddenly, my father was in the hospital, I started a new job, I’m in the process of starting my own business, I had a wrist injury, and just last week my grandmother passed away (deep breath and sigh…).  I feel like I’ve spent more time in funeral homes and hospitals than doing what I love…training.  All while trying to keep a smile on my face for the sake of my children.

I can’t believe that it is already May.  A few blogs back I was ramping up to lean out a bit for Spring.  Well, it just hasn’t really happened yet.  I’ve done the best I could, but I’ll admit, I’ve struggled.  Early workouts, late workouts, home workouts, and really short/interrupted/distracted workouts…all of these are absolutely better than nothing but I lacked the focus and intensity that I am used to.  The same deal with nutrition…instead of being 95+% on point, I’ll give myself a score of around 88%…

A lot of people ask me when my next contest is and the truth is, I don’t know…I am certainly not at the point where I feel that I can add the stress of a contest diet and deadline to my already full plate.  But for whatever reason, this week I feel like I’m starting to crawl out of my hole a bit.  So, let’s call my Spring Cut a do-over and I’ll check in with you soon!

If you know me fairly well, you know that I dread cardio…but for many, including myself, it is an essential part of a fat-loss program.  As I’ve said before, the order of importance for a proper fat-loss program is 1.  NUTRITION, 2.  Resistance Training, and (a distant 3rd…) 3.  Cardio.  While doing some form of steady state cardio can and often should be included in a program, in my opinion, it should NOT be the primary method you use for fat loss (unless of course recommended by your healthcare provider).

I prefer many other methods including HIIT, CardioAcceleration (you’ll be familiar with this if you’ve read any of Jim Stoppani’s work), and complexes and other “finishers”.  I’ve previously written a blog on Barbell Complexes for fat loss and you can read it here:  https://fitgirlkris.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/barbell-complexes-for-strength-conditioning-and-fat-loss/ .  There is a huge variety of other “finishers” that you can tack onto the end of a resistance workout to aid in fat loss without ever setting foot near a treadmill.  These forms of cardio can be included 3-4 times per week depending on your overall intensity and need for rest (the other days you can add in a little bit of steady state cardio if you want to).  Don’t forget your Top Secret Nutrition Cardio Igniter!

So, here is what I’m planning to do to finish off my next workout (or in place of it if I’m unable to get to the gym)…who’s with me?  It should only add about 10-15 minutes to your total workout time (you’ll need 1 heavy Kettlebell and 2 moderate weight Kettlebells):

  • 2-arm KB swings (using the heaviest KB you can handle) x 20 reps
  • KB Thrusters (using the 2 moderate weight KBs) x 20 reps
  • Sumo KB High Pull (using 1 or 2 moderate weight KB(s)) x 20 reps
  • KB Renegade Row x 20 reps

Perform these 4 exercises in a row with no rest.  Rest for 60-90 seconds.  Repeat for 2-4 cycles (depending on how intense your weight-training routine was).  This can also be performed as a stand-alone routine on days you are short on time but want to do something (ahem…that will be me this week because my kids are on Spring Break)…have fun!