Plyo Box Total Body & Core Workout with Power Intervals

Plyo Box Total Body & Core with Power Intervals

HELLO FRIENDS!! It seems like it’s been forever since I posted a full workout here on the blog! Full details on that are coming up in a future blog post, but it’s been silent on here for good reason: I GRADUATED GRAD SCHOOL!! Yep, I now have an MPH (Master of Public Health). I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll update you on the full graduate school experience soon. For now, let’s get to sweating!

I’m partnering with Power Guidance for today’s workout. Who doesn’t love building POWER in their training? I love a good high intensity, short duration power interval, and what better way to add that in than plyometrics? Today we’ll use a plyo box, which I love to use either by itself or in combination with other equipment to elevate your workout intensity. You can do some pretty fun things with it!

The plyo box here is a 3-in-1 soft foam plyo box from PG. It’s a pretty decent addition to any home gym, being super lightweight (17 lbs), and very easy to move in and out of storage. The soft foam makes plyometric exercises a lot less scary since your shins will be spared if you do happen to trip or fall. One thing I like about solid boxes like this is that you can’t see through the bottom like platform plyo boxes (for some reason that always makes me anxious, even if I know I can clear the height). The height on this one is adjustable (20”/26”/30”) and it’s labeled nicely for ease of use (great for transitions between exercises). The only thing I found a bit off about this box is that at the 30” height (for which I wanted to use for box jumps), it seemed a bit unstable. It could just be this particular box, but I think the fact that it’s so lightweight plays into its instability at the highest setting. At $179.99, I would expect a stable box all around. That said, you’d be fine to use the 30” side for other exercises that don’t require you to jump on top of it.

Ready to jump (pun intended) into today’s workout?? Read the description below and follow along with me on Instagram to see videos of these moves!

Plyo Box Total Body & Core with Power Intervals

[Plyo Box] Total Body & Core Workout with Power Intervals

What You’ll Need: a soft plyo box like this one from Power Guidance, or another sturdy box/surface that you’re comfortable jumping on and off of.
What You’ll Do:
you’ll do every strength exercise for 4 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. After 4 sets of strength, do the corresponding power move for 30 seconds at max effort, all-out intensity. Rest 30 seconds before starting the next strength move (if needed).
Total Time: 12 minutes

Strength 1: Elevated Glute Bridges (4 sets) - lie down on your back and place your feet on the edge of the plyo box, hands by your sides. (shown) Press through your feet and push your hips upward, squeezing your glutes as you press. Lower back down to start.

Power 1: Box Jumps (30 seconds) - Set the plyo box to the height that you are comfortable jumping (mine is set to 20”, but I definitely could have gone higher). Bend your knees and swing your arms back to load the jump, then propel yourself up to jump on top of the box. Land with your feet flat and bend your knees to soften the landing. Stand up, step back down (jump down if you’re comfortable), and jump up again. Keep jumping at maximal effort for 30 seconds. Trainer Tip: think about jumping by bringing your knees to your chest so you clear the box instead of bringing your heels back to your butt. You’ll get more height, and be able to land firmly on top.

- rest 30 seconds if needed -

Strength 2: Decline Push Ups (4 sets) - Get into a plank position with your feet elevated on the box, shoulders directly over wrists, abs engaged. From here, lower your chest toward the floor, and push back up. Trainer Tip: when your feet are elevated, there is a lot more emphasis on your abs and core to brace your back. Make sure you keep your back straight here and not let your hips dip down.

Power 2: Single Leg Hop Overs (30 seconds) - Start standing parallel to the plyo box, with the inside foot flat towards the middle of the box (shown). Push through your foot and hop laterally up and over the box (shown), landing on the opposite side (shown). Immediately push back up and over. Keep alternating for 30 seconds, max effort!

- rest 30 seconds if needed -

Strength 3: Balanced Hold to Boat Pose (4 sets) - sit on top of the plyo box so your weight is in the middle. Balance yourself and lower down so your body is in a hollow hold position, arms either overhead or in front of you (shown). From here, use your abs to pull yourself up to boat pose, bringing your knees toward your chest (shown). Trainer Tip: You can either keep your legs extended so your calves are parallel to the floor (harder), or bring your heels closer to the box (shown - easier).

Power 3: Squat Jump Taps (30 seconds) - Start sitting on the box edge, feet firmly planted (shown). From here, push through your legs and jump up as high as you can (shown). Come back down, tap your butt to the box, and jump back up again. Repeat jumps for 30 seconds all-out effort. Trainer Tip: the “taps” to the box should be just that - taps. You’re not sitting back all the way, so you should still feel pressure through your quads.

- rest 30 seconds if needed -

Strength 4: Figure 4 Knee Dips (4 sets, alternate legs each round) - Get into a plank position with your feet elevated on the box. Start with your right leg bent so your foot is placed on the inside crook of your left knee, making a figure 4 with your legs (shown). From here, bend your left knee down toward the floor (shown) as low as you’re comfortable without collapsing down off the box, then raise it back up. Alternate legs each round. You should feel this in your quads on the leg that’s moving.

Power 4: Lateral Hops (30 seconds) - Place your hands on the plyo box, with your weight shifted over to the left to start (shown). Jump up, shifting the weight onto your hands, and bring your heels toward your glutes (shown). Land on the right side (shown). Immediately jump back up and to the left, using the floor as kind of a “trampoline.” Keep going for 30 seconds as fast and high as you can.

Readers: chat with me! Do you use plyo boxes in your training? Which style do you prefer (soft vs. wood vs. platform)? Do you add in quick bursts of power/plyo in your training? I’m a HUGE fan! What are your favorite plyo box moves??

Disclosure: I was gifted this plyo box from Power Guidance in exchange for my review here. All opinions, photos, workout images, and product descriptions are my own, just like always! Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

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Total Body Pyramid Bench Workout

Total Body Pyramid Bench Workout with RitFit

Disclosure: While I was compensated to write this post and I received this bench in exchange for my review, all opinions, images, and workouts are my own. Gotta have the disclaimer here, but I only promote the products I love. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

Hi friends! It’s been a good long while since I’ve posted a workout here on the blog. I’m in the home stretch of finishing my Master’s degree (MPH) and have started a new job in which I’ll transition to full time in August when I graduate (!). That plus teaching classes has kept me QUITE busy! But today, I’m pumped to bring you a new workout with a new piece of equipment: the RitFit foldable adjustable workout bench. The bench is awesome and easily adjustable, like most workout benches you see at the gym or club (you just pull the pin out and lock it in place in a matter of seconds). But I think the thing that sets this one apart from the others is its ability to fold up and be stored. It’ll fit under your bed, in a closet, in your trunk even. So, it’s a great piece of home gym equipment, especially for small spaces!

But let’s get to the workout! This one follows a pyramid structure starting with 10 reps of every exercise going down to 1. I like the pyramid format for a quick and effective sweat sesh, and you can make it more of a HIIT workout with minimal rest periods. Ready to give it a try??

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Total Body Pyramid Bench Workout

What You’ll Need: The RitFit adjustable bench (or another sturdy workout bench that can adjust), and a medium dumbbell or kettlebell (optional).
What You’ll Do:
Aways warm up before beginning any workout. After your warm up, start with 10 reps of every exercise. After 10, move down to 9 reps. Keep going down to 1 rep each. Aim for minimal rest. (View a video of the exercises on RitFit’s Instagram.) Fun challenge: time yourself and see how long it takes you to complete the pyramid. Try again in a week or two and see if you can beat your time!

- Start with the bench seat and back flat -

Elevated Push Ups - start with your feet on top of the bench and hands on the ground in a pike position. Keep a neutral spine, look back at the bench, and lower yourself down, bringing the crown of your head toward the floor. Push back up through your shoulders. Trainer Tip: you should feel this one more in the tops of your shoulders rather than your chest.

Bench Hop Overs - place your hands on the seat of the bench with your body off to one side. From here, hop over the bench back and forth, bringing your heels up to your glutes.

Side Plank Adductor Lifts (each side) - get into a side plank position on your forearm. Place the inside of your top foot on the bench, other leg resting on the ground. From here, engage your abs and press through your top foot engaging your inner thigh as you lift your bottom leg to meet the bench. Do # of reps on each side.

- Adjust the back of the bench to an upright position, 2 clicks up from neutral -

Reverse Hyperextensions - trust me, this bench is sturdy and stable enough to support you here! Place your hips over the top of the bench back (shown), hold onto the seat, and lower your legs down. From here, lift your legs and drive your heels upward, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings.

- Adjust the bench back down to neutral -

Feet-Elevated Burpees - these are tough, but SO fun! I find it easier to start with your feet on the bench in a plank. Then jump your feet off to meet your hands, and jump up, exploding through the legs. Just like a burpee, place your hands back down and jump your feet back on top of the bench.

- Lower the bench back to a decline position (all the way down) and raise the seat up all the way -

Declined Sit Ups - weight is optional here. I’m using a 10lb kettlebell, but feel free to add more weight, use a dumbbell, or just your body weight. If using a weight, keep it by your chest. Lie down on the bench and hook your feet under the foot hold. Engage your abs and lift your back off the bench to a seated position, and then lower back down.

Whew! How’d it go? I hope your whole body is thanking you! Now fold up and store that bench away, but not too far - I challenge you to try this workout again and see if you can get it done in a shorter amount of time!

Readers chat with me! Do you use a bench in your workouts? What are your favorite bench exercises? Have you ever done a pyramid workout before? If so, how do you like them? If not, do you think you’ll try this one out?

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What Your Body Composition Test Isn’t Telling You: A DEXA Scan Review

DEXA Scan Body Composition Testing

Disclosure: I received this test free of charge in exchange for my blog review and community education. All opinions, test results, photos, and content are my own. Huge thank you to the Mandis Agency and Iowa Ortho for their generosity and support of this blog!

Body composition testing—I know you’ve heard of it. Chances are you’ve probably gotten yours tested at some point in your life, whether it was using water displacement for sports in high school, a bio-impedance scale at your gym, or caliper testing at home or with your doctor. There are MANY options to choose from when you want to test your body composition and all are beneficial. The most common approach I see in the fitness world is either calipers or bio-impedance scales. Calipers, unless used by a trained professional, can result in significant differences between tests (not to mention, who wants to pinch their skin to measure their body fat? Talk about making you feel bad about yourself…). Bio-impedance scales (BIA) are certainly easier and can give you a general idea of body fat percentage (BF%), lean muscle mass, hydration status, etc. However, the BIA is heavily dependent on time of day, hydration, and electrolyte status to name a few confounds. So how can you accurately and reliably measure your body’s make up? Enter: The DEXA Scan.

What is it? Will it hurt? What’s the procedure like?

Dexa Scan table

The DEXA scan (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) was originally developed in the 1980s to measure bone density in the aging population. Now, in addition to bone density, it is used to measure subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue (surface layer body fat and fat around internal organs, respectively) and lean muscle mass distribution. It is the gold standard in body composition testing. Why? Well, for one, it’s the most reproducible body composition test out there. Also, hydration, electrolytes, proximity to a workout, etc. have no bearing on the results. (Insert raise-the-roof emoji here… and cry-laughing emoji… k, side bar: there need to be emojis for bloggers.) Not to mention, unlike a bio-impedance scale that will give you an overall reading of body composition, a DEXA scan tells you exactly where you’re holding fatty tissue and muscle, down to each arm, leg, and foot.

Dexa Scan

Now, let me assure you, although these images look like they’re very medically-oriented, the DEXA scan does not hurt, and you don’t have to do anything other than lie still on a table. The orthopedic clinic I went to had me undress and wear one of those oh-so-stylish hospital gowns (insert cry-laughing emoji again, haha). They also taped my feet together to keep my legs from rotating outward (pretty sure that’s common practice for the scans). After that, you lie on the table and it slowly glides you back and forth under the scanner. It’s not noisy at all and you cannot feel anything other than the table moving. It’s a painless procedure that lasts all of 4 minutes. Note, though, that lying still means no talking either. I definitely tried to have a conversation with the nurse while this was going on and she promptly shut me up. HAH.

The Results (and yes, these are mine).

DEXA Scan Results

Above is the full report you receive once the scan is done. In the spirit of full transparency, I wanted to post my individual report here instead of the generic sample report from Jane Doe. I always keep it honest on the blog, and this is my way of showing you all you don’t need to be ashamed of your body, whatever your numbers are. Yep, I’ve definitely gained some weight in recent years (upwards of 20lbs). I used to be somewhat ashamed of that, but honestly, I’m really not concerned with it anymore. I’m more interested in how my body functions and feels. That said, let’s look at this more in depth.

Body Images and Composition Chart

Below are a zoomed in look at the images of my body and the composition results chart. The images, as you can see, are of the different types of mass (left) and ratio of fat to area of the body (right). In the left image, you can visually understand your body composition. No bio-impedance scale, water displacement tank, or caliper can do that! (For reference, blue = bone; red = muscle; yellow = fat.)

DEXA Body Images

Now here’s the interesting part. This chart gives you the exact distribution of fat, lean muscle, and bone mineral content (BMC) per body area. So cool! So, for example, my left arm has 2.20lb of fat and 5.51lb of combined lean muscle and bone. The fat percentile columns are a comparison of your body to “young normal range” (YN—a large group of 20-30 year olds), and age-matched (AM—people your specific age). The lower the number, the better (for reference, they go from 1-100).

DEXA Body Composition Results

The other chart pictured in the first full image is a list of different fat ratios throughout my body. These are important because certain ratios can indicate a higher risk for obesity, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and other health complications. For example, % Fat Trunk / % Fat Legs is a ratio of how much adipose tissue you have in your trunk (abdomen, back, chest) versus your legs. The ideal ratio for women is below 0.8, and below 1.0 for men. The higher the ratio, the higher percentage of fat you likely hold in your trunk, which can be a risk factor for certain heart and pulmonary conditions.

The Takeaways and Cost

So what does one make of all this? It’s a lot of information thrown at you all at once! I’ll admit, even though I understood some of it on my own, without a professional explanation, I wouldn’t have been able to make sense of the more detailed results. The main take-home point here is to use this as a tool to reliably measure your body composition across time. I’d suggest getting multiple scans done—once as a baseline measure, and then again maybe a few months into a new fitness routine or healthier way of eating to track your progress.

The cost of this test will depend on where you are and what clinic/orthopedic facility you go to. For those local to Iowa, Iowa Ortho does the DEXA scan for $39.99. Insurance does not usually cover them, so they are typically an out of pocket expense, but are very affordable. For more info, and to check your local DEXA provider, go to their website here.

Readers: chat with me! Have you heard of a DEXA scan before? Have you ever had one done? If not, are you interested in doing one? Do you track your body composition in other ways? How’s your Monday going?