Monday Boost Workout: Cardio + Core

Mondays.  We all have a case of them sometimes.  Sometimes they're the absolute worst, and other times they treat you well.  I hope the latter happens for you today, but if you find yourself feeling stuck and like today is a nonstarter already, here's a little morning kickstarter workout to get your butt into gear and get you moving.

The Get-You-Going Cardio + Core Workout

High Knees - get 'em up to waist level, and keep the pace quick!

Mountain Climbers - like a burpee, but instead of the push up at the bottom, alternate "running" in a plank for 8 counts (4 on each side), then pop back up quick.  If you want to add some extra cardio - jump at the top when you come up.

Oblique Twists - sit on the ground, either keeping your feet flat and knees bent (easier) or bend the knees but raise your feet off the floor.  From that position, lean back slightly so your abs are engaged, and twist side to side, touching your hands to the floor.

Hip-Touch Planks - Get into a low plank position (on your elbows), and twist your hips to one side while lowering them to the floor.  Keep your abs engaged and legs as straight as you can throughout.  Return to start and immediately twist to the opposite side.  Keep alternating sides.

Jumping Jacks - you know what those are :) 

Leap Frog Planks - from a high plank position with hands in close, hop your legs up to your hands like you would when doing the return phase of a burpee.  Instead of coming up off the floor though, keep your hands planted on the ground and hop feet back.  Alternate hopping forward/backward like leap frog.

Oblique Crunches - lay on one side, keeping your bottom arm extended out and top arm bent with your hand behind your head.  From there, crunch up to the side so your elbow meets your knees.  Extend back down to start.  That's one rep.  If you want to make it easier, only crunch up using one leg instead of both.  Harder = keep legs straight and "V" up.

V-Up Crunch Ups - lay down on your back, arms extended above you and legs out straight.  From here, lift both legs and arms up to form a V, touching your toes or shins if you can.  Return to start.  Crunch up again, this time bending your knees and bring them into your chest.  That sequence is 1 rep.  Alternate that pattern.

 

Happy Monday, and happy March to you all!  I hope the workout gives you a little boost to jumpstart your day and get the blood flowing.

I'll leave you with a motivating quote for the day...

A daily hit of athletic-induced endorphins gives you the power to make better decisions, helps you be at peace with yourself, and offsets stress.

12 Days of Fitness Challenge: Day 9 - Oblique Crunches

Happy Day 9 of the Fitness Challenge, everyone!  You're on the home stretch now!  Check in with yourself - have you been keeping up with the exercises every day?  If so, pat yourself on the back for a job well done!  That's awesome!  If not, why not?  Have things been too difficult?  Have you not had enough time?  If that's the case, there's nothing wrong with piling on a few exercises in rapid succession in one sitting to catch up!  Get yourself moving and you never know how much MORE you might get done!

Okay, now onto today's challenge exercise: oblique crunches.  Yesterday we focused a lot on our legs with some cardio mixed in for good measure.  Today, we're going to bring the focus back to our abs.  There are three different variations ranging from low to high intensity.  They're described below.  Pick one to start with that will challenge your core, and adjust as needed.  If you start with option 1 and feel that it might be too easy, bump it up to option 2 or 3.  If you start with option 3 and it becomes too much for you, take it down to option 2 or even option 1 if you need a break.  

Tips for today:

  • Do whatever intensity option feels best. 
  • Try to max out on these today - go until you can't get yourself up any longer.
  • Once you've maxed out on one side, switch to the other side and repeat.
  • Breathing technique is important here as with any other exercise: breathe OUT as you crunch UP; breathe IN as you lower yourself back down.

OPTION 1: LOWER INTENSITY

  • Start on one side, legs extended, top hand behind your ear, and bottom arm extended out as shown below, A.
  • Lift and bend the top leg as you crunch up to bring your top elbow to meet that knee, keeping the lower leg on the floor throughout the movement.  Prop yourself up on your forearm as you crunch up (shown below, B).
  • Extend back down (slowly!) to start.

Option 1: low intensity - bring your top elbow to your top knee, keeping one leg on the ground.

option 2: medium intensity

  • Start in the same position as above.
  • This time, bring both legs off the ground, bending both knees.  You'll be propped up on your hip and your forearm.  As with Option 1, bring your top elbow to meet your top knee, as shown below, D.
  • Extend back down (slowly!) to start.

Option 2: medium intensity - bring both legs off the floor bending the knees, bringing your top elbow to top knee.

option 3: higher intensity

  • Start in the same side-lying position as above.
  • Similar to option 2, bring both legs off the floor, this time keeping them as straight as you can.  Prop yourself up on your forearm and bring your top elbow to your top knee, shown below, F.
  • Extend back down (slowly!) to start.

Option 3: high intensity: bring both legs off the floor keeping them as straight as you can, bringing your top elbow to top knee.

Good luck and let me know how you do!  Remember to focus on your breathing here - it will get oxygen to that core and will help you get through a few more reps.  Happy crunching!  Until tomorrow, have a healthy and happy day ahead. :)

12 Days of Fitness Challenge: Day 7 - Up Down Planks

Good morning!  I hope you're all having a fantastic Sunday so far!  It's Day 7 of the Fitness Challenge, and it's back to our arms today - more specifically, our shoulders.  Planks in general are a great way to target the whole body since they require you to engage everything from your chest and shoulders all the way down to your toes to maintain proper form and keep you stabilized.  This plank variation takes it up a notch, and works your shoulders and arms a little bit more.  Here's what to do:

  • Start in a regular low plank on your forearms, elbows directly in line with your shoulders, and core engaged to keep your spine in a neutral position (pictured below, A).
  • From there, take your left (or right) arm and push yourself up to a high plank position on your hands (pictured below B & C).
  • From a high plank, drop back down to your elbows on the same side you started on (i.e. if you used your left arm to get up, start lowering yourself on your left elbow - pictured).  Think of it as a 4-point plank: up/up (left arm/right arm); down/down (left arm/right arm).
  • Tip: Keep your core engaged the entire time and your head in a neutral position to maintain spinal alignment (keep your chin up and gaze forward).  This will keep your air passages open and allow you to breathe easier.
  • To start, try to continue this sequence for 30 seconds.  If you can get through that just fine, keep going for another 30 seconds to make it 1 minute.  Do this 3 times today.

A few notes on joint issues here: 

  • If you have sore wrists from bending them in the high plank position, try propping yourself up on your knuckles using fists instead of flat hands.
  • If you feel you need to lighten the load on your shoulders, drop your knees to the floor, similar to the push ups on Day 1.  For reference on that position, click here).

Good luck!  Let me know how you do!  I hope you continue to have a great day and remember to get your body moving!  Until tomorrow, have a healthy and happy day ahead.  :)