12 Days of Fitness Challenge: Day 2 - Squats

Happy Day 2 of the Fitness Challenge!  How did those push ups go yesterday?  How many did you get through?  Remember, part of the challenge is checking in to stay accountable!  This will be particularly important as we get closer to Christmas this week when things start to get busy! So remember to use the hashtag #12daysfit if you’re on social media, or comment on the blog posts with your progress! 

We focused on our arms yesterday, so today’s challenge is going to be leg-based: squats!  Squats are a great low-impact leg exercise that will target your quadriceps and glutes if done correctly.  Start standing with your feet about hip width apart (pictured below, A).  Bend at the knees and lower yourself down as far as you can, keeping your spine aligned and chest up (pictured below, B).  An easy way to do this is to think about sticking your butt out behind you (pictured below, C).  Seriously, it helps!  Immediately come back up to starting position.  Continue this pattern for as many reps as you can.  

If you’re in need of some variety for today's challenge, feel free to try these options:

  • jump squats - propel yourself up into the air on the way up out of the squat position (make sure to land light on your feet!).
  • add a hold at the bottom - try doing 10 squats, and then holding the last one down for 10 seconds.  Repeat that pattern for as many as you can.
  • add some pulses - similar to the hold, try 10 full squats, and then on the last one, pulse your legs, bringing yourself up only about halfway, and then back down again quickly. 

As with yesterday’s challenge, do as many as you can until you start to lose form.  Poor form here would be lowering your chest to your knees, needing to brace your hands on your knees to continue, etc.

Rules for today’s challenge:

  1. Check in on social media or the blog to let me know how you’re doing!  Have comments or questions?  Feel free to ask those, too!
  2. Just like yesterday, I’d like you to get through 2 sets today. 

Let me know how you do!  We’re on our way to a healthier holiday season!  Remember, it’s not too late to join, so get your friends and family involved!  Have them sign up so they don’t miss any special tips, motivational posts or other fun challenges coming your way! 

12 Days of Fitness Challenge: Day 1 - Push Ups

On the first day of Fitness, my trainer gave to me... (sorry, I had to).  Happy first day of the 12 Days of Fitness, everybody!  I hope you're as excited as I am to get these exercises started!  Today's exercise is the traditional push up.  I know, I know, push ups?  Everyone seems to have a love-hate relationship with the push up.  So, why are we starting off with them?  Well, for starters, they're a great way to engage your entire body in one move: shoulders, chest, abdominals, quads and glutes to name a few!  They don't require any equipment and use a limited amount of space, so feel free to "drop and give me 50" right in your own living room!  (Kidding about the 50...)

Now, I think the traditional push up is one of the most common exercises that people do with poor form:  

  • Unengaged core = sagging lower back, which can lead to low back pain;
  • Chin tucked into the chest, looking at the ground = obstructed airway and therefore less oxygen to the muscles;
  • Butt up in the air = unnecessary additional pressure on your shoulders

 I'd like to teach you the proper way to do a push up - not only form, but also your breathing technique:

  • Start in a high plank position, hands directly underneath your shoulders (pictured below, top)  
  • Engage your abdominals so your back is stabilized, and keep your spine in one straight line from head to low back  
  • Lower yourself to the floor keeping that position throughout the move; as you do so, breathe IN  
  • As you push yourself up (keeping proper form throughout), breathe OUT (somewhat forcefully) 

How'd that feel?  Wondering how many to do?  For almost all of the exercises in this challenge, that's going to be up to you!  I'd like you to do the maximum amount you can.  For those of you who are already in a fitness regimen, start from the traditional push up position (pictured below, A & B).  If you're just starting out, instead of being up on your toes, bring your knees to the floor (pictured below, C & D).  Remember the same rules apply for form: spine aligned, core engaged, head in a neutral position to allow oxygen to the working muscles.  If you get through 5, great!  10?  Awesome!  20?  Wow!  Keep going until you start to lose form (i.e. if any of the "poor form" points start to happen).  Once your form starts to suffer, stop.  Take a break and let your arms rest.  Now, if you did your first round from the traditional position, I want you to try to do a few more from your knees (pictured bottom).  If you started from your knees, try to do a few more from the same position.  I know you can do it!

Rules for today's challenge:

  1. Get through the push up sequence twice today.  That means doing one set until failure (loss of proper form from both traditional and knees positions), then some hours later at your choosing, do another set.  You can do these in the office, at home in your living room (as shown), or even if you're traveling!
  2. Make sure you check in and report how you're doing!  Use #12daysfit on social media and take a picture if you'd like (I'd love to see you demonstrating proper form)!  If you're not on social media, comment below on this post with your progress!  I'll be checking in, too. :)

I hope your holiday week is off to a great start!  If you're not on the mailing list for the challenge yet, don't worry!  It's not too late to sign up!  Check it out here and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for subscriber-only emails with fun mini challenges, motivational tips, and more!  Now, let's get that first round of push ups started! :)

12 Days of Fitness Challenge Starts TOMORROW!

Happy (almost) 12 Days of Fitness to you all!  I'm so excited to be launching the first fitness challenge on the blog tomorrow, and for those of you who are signed up for the challenge, I'm excited to help keep you motivated and moving this holiday season!  Can't wait to get started!

As a reminder, the challenge will run for 12 days starting tomorrow, December 22, and will consist of learning and doing one new exercise per day.  The challenge will be to fit in these exercises where you can throughout your day.  These aren't going to be full-on workouts, but instead simple exercises using little to no equipment that you can do virtually anywhere.  So there are no excuses!  I wanted to make this a doable challenge what with our busy holiday schedules filled with travel, family and friend gatherings, cooking, gift-giving, etc.  I know some of you may not have time to get to the gym or your exercise classes, or you may just need a little push to get you moving.  That's what I'm here for!  

ACCOUNTABILITY:  A major goal of this challenge is to get you up and moving during the stressful and mostly-sedentary holiday season, so I expect you all to check in (don't worry - I'll be checking in myself, too)!  If you're on social media, use hashtag #12daysfit so we can encourage each other!  If you're on Instagram, take a snapshot of yourself doing the exercise and be sure to tag me so I can follow along too (@infitinhealth).  Not on Facebook or Instagram?  No worries!  To keep you accountable without social media, I'd like you to comment on the blog post for that day with your progress. :)

SOME FUN:  Throughout the 12 days, I'll be sending special emails to everyone who signed up with other, mini challenges, quotes, motivational tips, and other fun things!  So make sure you subscribe if you haven't yet so you don't miss out on these special notices!  Pass the word along to your friends and family so they too can take part in a healthier holiday!

Here's to making our 2014 holiday season the best yet with some physical activity and healthier choices!  I can't wait to start with you all!