Upper Body + Cardio Circuit Workout (+ a $150 WishFIT GIVEAWAY!)

Upper Body + Cardio Circuit Workout | In Fitness and In Health

Hi everybody!  SUPER excited to get back to blogging today after a little hiatus, and not just back, but back with a great upper body workout and a HUGE GIVEAWAY!  

First, let's talk about the workout.  This one is all upper body focused (except one exercise that will work your back), and all you need is a stability ball.  I recommend choosing one that's medium sized for you - one that you can lay on top of with your hands and toes comfortably touch the ground, and where, if in a plank position with your legs on top of the ball, it lifts you to a height where your spine is in a straight line.  You'll be in a prone position for all exercises with the ball, and you'll alternate upper body exercises with... wait for it... burpees!  Not as enthusiastic about burpees as I am?  No worries.  There are modifications if you need them, and ways to progress the move if you choose to do so.  Ready to get started?

Upper Body + Cardio Circuit Workout | In Fitness and In Health

Upper Body + Cardio Circuit Workout

What You'll Need: a sturdy stability ball, a mat, and a timer.
What You'll Do: start with exercise 1 on the ball and stay on each exercise for 1 minute.  Go through 3 rounds total.  In each round, you'll add 5 burpees between every exercise.  So, for example, in round 1 you'll start with 5 burpees between moves.  Round 2 = 10 burpees between exercises, and round 3 you'll do 15.  The last round is meant to be challenging - push yourself and don't give up!

A note on burpees: the traditional burpee is done starting from a standing position, lowering into a squat, placing your hands down on the ground, jumping back into a plank, optional push up, and reverse the move back up to standing with an optional jump upwards.  Here are some ways to modify:

  • Modification: bend your knees into a squat position, place your hands on the ground, step back into a plank, optional push up if you want to, then step back up to starting position. Add the jump as you stand only if you want to.  This version is easier on the joints, and less cardio-heavy, but still keeps you moving.
  • Progression: move more quickly, adding the push up AS you jump your feet back into a plank, not afterwards.  To increase the cardio and leg work even more, add a tuck jump as you reverse the move back upwards.

Plank Walkout Push Ups - start in a plank position with your knees on top of the stability ball, legs straight, abs engaged.  Walk out on your hands to a push up position, allowing the ball to roll closer to your shins/ankles (the farther out you roll, the more your abs will engage).  Do 5 push ups here, then walk your hands back to starting position, keeping your feet up off the ground.  Keep going for 1 minute.

- Burpees (round 1 = 5; round 2 = 10; round 3 = 15) -

Alternating Birddog Plank Pulses (10 each side) - start with your lower abdomen/hips on the ball, right arm and left leg extended straight out.  Pulse your arm and leg for 10 reps, then immediately switch and pulse for 10 reps on the other side.  Keep alternating sides (10 reps each) for 1 minute.

- Burpees (round 1 = 5; round 2 = 10; round 3 = 15) -

Prone Triceps Lifts + Pulse (10/10) - start by lying on your stomach with the ball behind your back, arms extended straight back holding the ball between your palms.  From here, squeeze the ball keeping your arms straight to engage your triceps, and lift the ball up slightly off your back.  Lower back down.  Do 10 lifts, then keep the ball up and pulse for 10 reps, squeezing the ball between your hands the whole time.  Keep alternating 10 lifts and 10 pulses for 1 minute.

- Burpees (round 1 = 5; round 2 = 10; round 3 = 15) -

Reverse Hyperextensions - okay, so technically this last move works your erector spinae muscles and not your upper body, but we'll go with it and give your arms a break.  Start with the ball under your pelvis, hands flat on the floor, chest lowered slightly, and toes touching the floor if you can.  From here, lift your legs up straight as high as you can get them, ideally trying to get your thighs off the ball.  Lower back down to start, tap your toes to the floor (or lower down as much as you can), and raise back up again.  Keep the lifts going for 1 minute.

- Burpees (round 1 = 5; round 2 = 10; round 3 = 15) -

Repeat twice more, adding 5 more burpees to each round.  You got this!

And now that the workout is over... a little fun!


$150 WishFIT Giveaway!

Okay, so you might have scrolled past that workout just to get to the giveaway details, and I don't blame you.  Guys, this giveaway is HUGE and I'm so excited to host it for you!  WishFIT is the gorgeous activewear line from the Australian-based boutique clothing company Wish, who so generously gifted me the leggings and tank I'm wearing in today's workout.  The leggings are a gorgeous abstract floral print, with a mesh insert at the back of the knee and a back zipper pocket.  Lovvvvve them!  I'm loving the tank too - lately I've been all about these low-armhole muscle tanks (anyone else digging these??).  This one fits so comfortably, and is made from really high quality material (not your typical thin cotton t-shirt fabric).  The stitching creates a subtle stripe pattern too, which adds a bit of flare to your basic black muscle tank.

WishFIT leggings

Alright, onto the good stuff!  WishFIT is giving away $150 to one lucky blog reader so you can stock up on some awesome pieces to fuel your fashi-- ahem, fitness goals!  Check out their Instagram page to get inspired!  Details for entering the giveaway are below.  Winner will be chosen THIS FRIDAY, 8/19!  Good luck!  (In case anyone is wondering about shipping costs from Australia - they'll be covered!)  Also, don't forget to tell me how this workout goes for you!

Readers: chat with me!  Do you use stability balls in your training often?  What are your favorite exercises to do with them?  What do you look for in athletic apparel?  Have you jumped on the muscle tank trend? 

Stability Ball Abs & Obliques Circuit Workout

Stability Ball Abs & Obliques Circuit Workout

Stability balls are a great piece of equipment to have in your fitness arsenal.  You can use them for so many different exercises, but my favorites target the abs.  Today's workout is circuit style, meaning you'll go through the 5 different exercises in a circuit, 3 times.  This workout not only targets the transverse & rectus abdominals (deep ab muscles and those "6-pack" abs respectively), but also your internal and external obliques.  That's a full ab workout right there!  So grab your stability ball and get moving today, or save this one to that ab workout Pinterest board for later. 

Stability Ball Abs & Obliques Circuit Workout

Stability Ball Abs & Obliques Circuit Workout

What You'll Need: a stability ball, an exercise mat, and some floor space
What You'll Do: go through the workout doing 10 reps of each exercise, trying not to take breaks between moves.  Repeat 3 times through for the full workout.

10 Forearm Circles (each direction) - start in a plank with your forearms balanced on the stability ball, abs engaged to keep your spine neutral (i.e. no sagging back) and chest off the ball.  Maintaining a plank position, slowly circle your forearms in one direction for 10 circles.  Without stopping, immediately switch directions for 10 more circles.  Trainer Tip:  to make this easier, you can do these from your knees.  Just remember to keep your spine in a straight line and lean on the ball instead of keeping it directly underneath you. 

10 Plank Leg Lifts (each leg) - hold a plank on the stability ball, either a full plank on your feet (harder), or from your knees (easier).  From here, while maintaining the plank position, lift one leg up as high as you can, then bring it down and tap your toe to the floor.  Do 10 lifts on one leg, then immediately switch to the other leg without stopping. 

10 Pike Ups - start in a plank with the tops of your feet elevated on the stability ball, core engaged, spine aligned, and shoulders over your wrists.  From here, keeping your legs straight, engage your abs and pike up.  Do 10 reps.  Trainer Tip: to make this move easier, bring your knees into your chest in a tuck position instead of a pike.  Easier still, drop down to a regular plank on the ground and alternate bringing each knee to the opposite side of your chest. 

10 Slow Sit Ups (4-count up & down) - start lying face up with your legs straight, heels on the ball, and arms extended straight above you.  Keeping your legs as straight as you can, do a full sit up slowly rolling up for a count of 4, touch your toes (or shins) and roll back down for a count of 4.  Continue the slow sit ups for 10 reps, going slowly, and focusing on using your abs to lift you (not momentum from your arms).  Trainer Tip: if the ball is too much, get rid of it and drop your feet to the floor.  Remember to go slowly on the way back down, too.

10 Opposite/Opposite Shin Holds - lie down on your back, left leg extended straight up in the air and right hovering over the floor, like an L.  Hold the stability ball between your left leg and right arm (left arm out to the side).  Squeeze the ball between your right hand and left shin to hold it firmly in place, which will engage your abs.  Hold that position, squeezing the entire time, for 10 seconds.  Then immediately switch to the other side by bringing your left arm and right leg up to the ball, hold, and extending the other arm/leg out to the side.  Squeeze and hold for another 10 seconds.  Keep alternating sides for 10 reps (5 each side) of 10-second holds.

Repeat the moves 2 more times for the full workout.

Readers: chat with me!  Do you use stability balls in your regular fitness routine?  What are your favorite ways to use them?  Favorite exercises for your abs?  How was your weekend? 

Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

Hi Everybody!  How are you all doing?  I'm back today with a great workout for you to try next time you need a good upper body burn.  Today's focus is back & biceps and we're using 2 pieces of equipment both separately and together: the stability ball (aka Swiss ball) and a set of dumbbells.  I love combining pieces of equipment like this, particularly the stability ball, because it forces your muscles to work harder - especially your abs - and it also forces your brain to really think about what movements you're doing.  Hooray for something different!  Ready to check it out and get those arms workin'?  Keep reading for the details!

Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

What You'll Need: a stability ball and some medium-heavy dumbbells (I'd recommend 8-10lbs for beginners, and 12-15lbs for more advanced fitness levels).
What You'll Do: start with circuit 1 and go through the exercises in order, using the designated piece(s) of equipment.  Do each circuit 3 times through before moving onto the next.  Let's get started!

Circuit 1 (x 3): Stability Ball

1 | 10 Plank Walkouts to Push Up - start with the ball underneath your stomach, legs raised and hands flat on the floor holding your upper body up so you're balanced on the ball.  From here, walk your hands out until you've reached a plank position, keeping your abs tight and spine straight (easier = walk until your knees are on top of the ball; harder = walk out all the way so the tops of your feet are on it).  Once you've reached the plank, do 1 push up.  Then reverse the move to walk your hands back toward the ball, rolling your body back to start.  Do 10 total.

2 | 15 Prone Leg Lifts (on ball) - keep the ball under your stomach here, hands flat on the floor, chest lowered and feet lightly touching the floor.  From here, lift your legs up straight as high as you can, working your lower back and glutes.  Do 15 lifts.

3 | 20 Prone Ball Lifts (on floor) - lie face down on the floor holding the stability ball behind you on top of your lower back, arms straight.  From here, squeeze the ball between your hands and lift it up off your back while you lift your chest up off the floor.  Do 20 total.

4 | 20 Birddog Lifts - start with the ball underneath your stomach/hips again.  Raise your opposite arm and opposite leg up straight so they are parallel to the floor and hold that position for 5 seconds.  Lower back down and switch sides, holding for another 5 seconds.  Keep alternating sides for 20 reps.

Circuit 2 (x 3): Dumbbells

1 | 10 Alternating Renegade Rows - start in a high plank with your hands grasping the dumbbells, keeping them in line with your shoulders and abs engaged.  From here, alternate lifting the dumbbells up towards your armpit, using the muscles in your upper arms and back to do the work.  Remember to engage your abs to keep your hips square to the floor as you row.  Do 10 total (5 each side).

2 | Bicep Curls + Pulse + Hold (10/10/10 x 2) - in a standing position hold the dumbbells one in each hand and do 10 regular bicep curls keeping your elbows close to your ribs.  The immediately do 10 little pulses with your arms bent to 90˚, followed by a 10-second hold at 90˚.  Repeat that sequence twice.

3 | 15 Reverse Flyes - start in a standing position with a slight hinge forward at the hips and slight bend in the knee, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing behind you.  From here, keep your elbows out wide and pull the weights up as if you're trying to pinch your shoulder blades together.  Lower them back down to start.  Do 15 total.

4 | 15 Reverse Grip Bicep Curls - from a standing position holding a dumbbell in each hand, curl the weights up like a regular bicep curl, but reverse your grip so your palms face the floor (i.e. the backs of your hands are facing you as your arms come up).  Don't be surprised if these are slightly awkward and/or more challenging than your regular curl!  Do 15 total.

Circuit 3 (x 3): Stability Ball + Dumbbells

1 | 10 Weighted Back Extensions - start with your stomach on the ball holding 1 dumbbell close to your chest, toes planted on the floor with your feet out wide (wider = more base of support). From here, use the muscles in your back to lift your chest up off the ball.  Lower yourself back down slowly.  Do 10 total.

2 | 10 Concentration Curls (each arm) - start squatted or kneeling behind the ball, one arm holding a dumbbell and that elbow propped up on the other side of the ball.  From here, do a bicep curl on that arm, focusing on working your bicep and nothing else.  Do 10 on each arm.

3 | 10 Balanced Lawnmowers (each side) - ideally I'd like you to be in an incline forearm plank on the ball (either on your feet or your knees), balancing on one forearm, while the other arm holds 1 dumbbell at the side.  From here, pull the weight up toward your armpit and rotate slightly to work your back.  Do 10 lawnmowers on each arm.  Trainer Tip: if the plank balancing is too much, get rid of the stability ball, and do regular dumbbell lawnmowers from a lunge position.

4 | 10 Incline Bicep Curls - you're sitting on the ball with it under your lower back, knees bent, butt is down by your heels, holding a dumbbell in each hand, elbows resting on the ball.  From here do 10 bicep curls, moving only the lower half of your arm.

There you have it!  How do your arms feel?  Hopefully they're tired - in a good way - and maybe you've found some new uses for the stability ball, I hope!

Readers: chat with me!  Do you incorporate multiple pieces of equipment into your workouts like this?  What are your favorite stability ball and dumbbell exercises?  Have you tried any new workouts or classes since the new year?