12 Days of Fitness Challenge: Day 12 - Burpees

Guess what?!  You made it to the last day of the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge!  Congratulations!  Only one more exercise to go...

Today's challenge is probably the most difficult of the exercises we've done so far, which is the reason I saved it for last.  Burpees!  Many people, myself included, have a love-hate relationship with this move.  It's challenging when done properly.  It taxes the shoulders, biceps, triceps, core, quads, glutes, AND cardiovascular/respiratory systems all in one move.  How awesome is that?!  Here's your challenge:

  • Start standing, arms stretched above you, shown below (A).
  • Hinge at the waist and bend your knees to squat down, bringing your hands flat to the floor (B).
  • Hop your feet back to a high plank position, keeping your core engaged so you maintain spinal alignment (C).  It's very common to let the back sag during this move, especially as muscles fatigue.
  • Then reverse the move back up to starting position (i.e. from high plank, hop your feet back in toward your hands and stand up tall).
  • Repeat this pattern as quick as you can.  Let's go for time: try 15 seconds to start.  If you think you can go longer, try 30 seconds.  If you think you can go longer still, aim for 1 minute.  Do this AMRAP-style, meaning complete as many "rounds" (burpees) as possible in that timeframe.
  • Do this 3 times throughout today.

Here are some variations I'd like you to try:

  1. Add a push up.  The traditional burpee has a push up included once you're in the high plank position.  Add this in if you can!
  2. Add a jump at the top.  As you stand up, use your legs to propel yourself up into the air slightly.  Remember to land softly on your feet and immediately crouch down again. 
  3. Lower intensity step up/back.  If you find you need a break from the higher intensity versions, here's an option for you.  Instead of jumping your feet back to plank position, step them back one at a time.  If you want to keep the push up here, do it.  Then step your feet back up to your hands and stand up.  There's always a modification that you can do to maintain movement, but decrease pressure on joints!

Good luck, everyone!  Remember, this is your last exercise challenge of the 12 days, so give it all you've got!  Here's to YOU!  Until next time, have a safe and happy day ahead!

P.S.  I would LOVE your feedback on this challenge, since this is the first one I've done on the blog!  One of my goals for 2015 is to create more of challenges to get us all engaged and active this year!  If you could take a minute or two to fill out the form below, I would greatly appreciate it!  Thanks!

12 Days of Fitness Challenge: Day 11 - Scissors

Happy New Year's Day, everyone!!  Can you believe it's already 2015?  I can't!  Where'd  last year go??  As you bring in the new year, think about the transformations you promised yourself last year.  Did you accomplish them?  If fitness and working out were on the list, how'd you do?  Are those same resolutions on your list for this year?  If so, or even if you just need to get a bit of movement in your day today, here's your fitness challenge for the first day of 2015...

It's back to our abs after some heavy cardio yesterday.  Today's exercise: scissors!  Here's what to do:

  • Start on your back with your legs raised a few inches off the ground (the closer to the ground they are, the more your abs will work).   Bring your feet apart, forming a V with your legs (shown below, A).  Try to keep your arms above your head if you can, but if you experience any low back pain from doing so, put your hands under your lower back/butt for support (as shown).
  • Cross one leg on top of the other keeping your legs raised off the ground (B).
  • Bring your legs back out to a V position, and then back in so the other leg is crossed on top (shown below, C).
  • Alternate this pattern for time: try 15 seconds to start.  Too easy?  Up it to 30 seconds.  Still not taxing your abs?  Go for 1 minute.
  • I'd like you to try to get through this move 3 times in one sitting, and do that 3 different times today
  • Trainer Tip: remember to BREATHE during these moves!  It's very common for people to hold their breath during abdominal exercises like this, so make a conscious effort to breathe out as you cross your legs, and in as you bring them out to a V.
  • Note: if at any point in time your lower back starts to ache even after you've put your hands underneath you, stop the move and come back to it after your back gets a rest.

Have fun with these!  I hope you all had a wonderful celebration yesterday, and continue to ring in the new year with a healthy and happy outlook!  What are you doing to celebrate?  What are your goals for 2015, fitness or otherwise?  Let me know!  I'd love to hear.  Here's to an active start to 2015!  Until tomorrow, have a healthy and happy day ahead!

12 Days of Fitness Challenge: Day 10 - Jumping Jacks

Guess what!  You only have 3 days left of the Fitness Challenge!  I want you to focus.  Finish strong.  Give these last few exercises all. that. you've. GOT!  Ready??

It's back to cardio today with jumping jacks!  This post will be quick - and without a demo picture - because, let's face it, we've either known about, seen or have been doing jumping jacks ever since elementary school gym class.  That's not to say they're a great cardio workout, though!  If you're bored of the traditional JJ's, try these variations:

  • Option 1: crazy jacks - like a traditional JJ in that you're bringing your arms overhead, but instead of jumping your feet out wide, raise one knee up to waist level as you raise your arms.  When your arms come back down, bring that leg down to the ground, and switch to the other leg as you raise your arms up again.
  • Option 2: lateral criss-cross - instead of raising your arms above your head and jumping your feet out to the side, cross your arms straight out in front of you as you hop, and/or criss-cross your feet as you do so.  If you do this variation, try to alternate which arm/foot is crossed on top or in front, respectively.

What I want you to do is get through 100 jumping jacks (any type) dispersed throughout the day in whatever way you choose.  You could break it up into 4 different sets of 25 each.  You could do 50 in the morning and 50 after dinner.  You could do 10 sets of 10.  It doesn't matter!  As long as you get through 100 by the end of the day.  Remember, every healthy choice counts!

Now go get started, and have fun with it!  Do your first set right now, as you're reading this.  Get your butt out of your chair, off your couch, and move! :)  You'll feel better - I promise!  Remember to check in using the hashtag #12daysfit and let me know how you're doing.  I'd love to see some action shots on Instagram and Facebook!  If you're not on social media - no worries!  Comment on the post for today and tell me how you do.  Until tomorrow, have a healthy and happy day ahead! :)