back day

Workout Wednesday: Back Day! 7 Great Back Muscle Exercises

Why on earth would you possibly need to spend time strengthening your back? I’m so glad you asked!

Our back muscles do so much for us. They help us maintain good posture. They provide us with stability and help us maintain balance. Ever have a sick toddler that wants you to do nothing but carry them around all day? A strong back will allow you to do so without tiring out. Having a back full of muscle even allows you to carry heavier loads (like your child as they continue to grow bigger).

The main muscles of the back include the latissimus dorsi (aka the lats),  rhomboids, trapezius, and erector spinae. These muscles provide our body with power. They also play a role in our movement of the shoulders, arms, and hips. In addition to this, they keep our body upright and provide some stability to our hips and lower back. Because of the essential role that the back muscles play, strengthening these specific muscles is an absolute necessity!

If aesthetics are your priority, strengthening your back will also provide you with a trimmer waist line and set the stage for the hourglass figure.

If you’re more interested in the scientific aspect of balanced muscles throughout the whole body, there is a counterpart to every muscle contained in the body. For example, the quadriceps and the hamstrings, biceps and triceps, upper back with chest, and the lower back is the counterpart for the abdominals. This being the case if you want to create a six pack, you need to work your lower back to provide the strength needed to perform abdominal exercises. If you don’t have the lower back strength, it can be difficult to properly perform leg raises, planks, crunches, etc. The back provides the means and support to do the movements which strengthen the abs and core muscles. Likewise, for substantial chest muscle strength, it is requisite that we work our upper back muscles.

Functionally, those who sit down for hours on end might be facing back pain and untrained posture. Especially if you are hunched over a computer as part of your work. Training your back muscles on a regular basis is the way to fight off poor posture and subsequent back pain. Strong back muscles are essential and directly correlated to good posture.

Enough talk. Let’s workout!

For this week’s workout, you’ll need a Yoga Ball, some dumbbells, a mini band and a long band, and make sure you have a door anchor! Perform the following seven exercises with 10-12 repetitions and 3-4 sets. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.

As you perform each exercise, really focus on pulling back until you can feel the muscles actively engaging. Keep your core muscles tight throughout.

The exercises:

Yoga Ball Reverse Leg Raise:

Supermans:

Kneeling Dumbbell Single Arm Row: (10-12 repetitions on each side)

Bent Over Reverse Fly:

Bent Over Row:

Mini Band Lat Pull Down:

Long Band Face Pull:

That’s it for today! If you like what you see, make sure to like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more work outs! Happy workout!

Looking for other workout ideas? Check out these posts here!


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Core Workout

Workout Wednesday: Abs and Core

I remember back when I was pregnant and I struggled with simple, every day, things like climbing up the stairs and getting in and out of our tall bed. Man, that was rough! That was because my core strength was completely shot as I grew babies in my belly. After having babies, it took months of solid effort to rebuild the core strength so that my functional fitness was up to par.

Did you know that you use your core muscle for EVERYTHING from moving between sitting to standing, climbing up the stairs, lifting up your babies or your groceries? As you strengthen your core muscles, you’ll have a greater capacity for all of your fitness endeavors, whether it’s to lift weights in the gym or train for a marathon. Even if having a six pack isn’t a goal of yours, you’ll thank yourself for putting in the time and effort to have a strong core.

You guys, I did something big this week!

Big for me anyway. I took baby steps to let go of a fixed mindset about refusing to be in front of a camera! I’m embracing the idea of getting over my stage fright to be in my own exercise demonstration videos (Letting go of fixed mindsets is always a good idea as it provides us with the opportunity to grow and become a better version of ourself).

YouTube Channel, core workout

So each of the exercise videos, below, are brought to you by yours truly (And my dear girlfriend behind the camera!)! I also have a YouTube channel now! I’m going to go ahead a say it… if you like what you see, go ahead and like and subscribe to my channel (insert winky face here)!

This week’s workout:

This core workout requires the use of a single weight (you can use a dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, gallon of milk, etc). You’ll also need a yoga ball. Here’s one that you can pick up from Amazon for under $20! If you don’t have a yoga mat, here’s one you can also pick up on Amazon. The last thing you will need is a weight bench, plyometric box, piano bench, or stair.

For the workout, you have eight exercises. I’m going to give you two options for how to perform this workout:

  1. A high intensity interval training (HIIT) circuit. Perform each exercise in consecutive order for 45-60 seconds. Rest 15 seconds before moving on to the next exercise on the list. Perform the whole circuit 1-4 times for a complete workout.
  2. Perform 3-4 sets of 12 repetitions of each individual exercise. This type of workout focuses on one exercise at a time, and allows for more rest breaks.

Your Core Exercises:

A-Frame Russian Twist:

Plank-Ups:

Plank Jacks:

Leg Raise With Hip Twist: (Rotate your hips every time your legs are up. Rotate right, middle, and left).

Side Plank Hip Dips: (On feet or knees)

Yoga ball Ab Switch:

Yoga ball knee tucks:

Bench V-ups: (Can be performed on the floor, too)

And there you have it, a full core workout! Come back tomorrow for my week 9 weigh in results!

Talk to you soon!

Want more exercise ideas? Check out this workout plan with mini-bands.


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Yoga Ball

Workout Wednesday: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

geeking,

I’ve been completely geeking out, today, as I’ve dived deep into a study of thermodynamics. More specifically, the aspect of thermogenesis in which the body burns up the calories after they’ve been consumed. Every single time I go down the rabbit hole of these studies, I’m overcome by how cool our body processes are! Think about the smart phone in your hand that you’re reading this blog post from. It can do so many awesome things, right?

Well, our body can be chalked up to one of God’s first and smartest creations here on earth! There are so many scientific processes taking place within our body every second of every day! Most of the science flies right over my feeble mind, but learning about all of the ways that the body burns calories makes me all giddy inside! I know, totally nerdy, right!? It’s ok, you can say it.

After we’ve eaten our meals, every single calorie of food gets put to use in various ways. The majority of your consumed calories is used for fuel to support and maintain normal body functions, like temperature regulation. The rest is used to digest food and support movement for exercise. Excess calories are converted into fat and stored for later energy use (Please forgive me as I get a little bit “text book-y” for a few minutes. But this is really cool stuff, just trust me!).

There are four different ways that we burn calories:

  1. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), this is also referred to as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). These are the calories that our bodies burn while we are breathing, circulating blood, through our organ functions, and basal neurological functions. Some people have very high RMR, while some people have very low RMR. High RMR occurs, in part, from higher levels of muscle. But also from high production of thyroid hormones and other functions. Low RMR can occur from hypothyroidism (low thyroid production), or a high percentage of body fat and low level of lean body mass. 60-75% of the calories we burn in a day occur through our Resting Metabolic Rate.
  2. The Thermic Effect of Foods (TEF). Did you know that eating food actually causes your body to burn calories? How cool is that!? This comes from the energy required for our body to digest the food we eat, and then breaking it down into further energy extraction in our body. Simple carbohydrates and fats have a relatively lower thermic effect of energy compared to protein. Research has shown that eating higher protein meals has a higher thermic response than high carbohydrate meals (See?! There is a method to my madness in taking a higher protein approach to weight loss!). 10% of the calories we burn in a day occur through the digestive processes of the Thermic Effect of Food.
  3. The Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA). This accounts for the calories that we burn through intentional exercise and spontaneous physical activity (Dance party in the kitchen, anyone?). TEA includes energy expenditure (calorie burn) due to physical work, cardio exercise, weight lifting, and any planned and structured exercise. TEA helps us maintain a healthy body weight and raise our RMR. 15-30% of the calories we burn in a day occur through the Thermic Effect of Activity.
  4. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is the energy expended, and calories burned, from everything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or exercising. It’s the energy we burn during daily activities (i.e. walking to and from the car, typing, walking up the stairs, chasing our toddlers, and even fidgeting.). Daily NEAT actually helps to increase our metabolic rate, even for brief periods of time. The more active your lifestyle, the higher your NEAT will be and the better your energy balance. NEAT can even be leveraged in how one maintains or loses body weight and/or develops obesity.

Since our Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis can be an important contributor to increasing our metabolic rate, my workout prescription for all of you is to increase your NEAT!

N.E.A.T. EXERCISE PLAN

  • Play with your kids
  • Take the stairs whenever possible
  • Park at the back of the parking lot
  • Take a 10 minute walk break every two hours
  • Bike to work
  • Projects around the house (When was the last time you cleaned your showers? I’m not judging, just prescribing some NEAT!)
  • Sit on an exercise ball while working at a desk (I’m going to start doing this tomorrow!)
  • Get a pedometer or smart watch and challenge yourself to add more steps or activity points each day
  • Pace and fidget more
  • Adopt a more active lifestyle instead of being sedentary during your free time
  • Walk or bike instead of drive
stairs

Additional exercise equipment

Check out some of these awesome products which can help you increase your NEAT exercise plan. You can now binge watch your favorite Netflix show and increase your metabolism at the same time! You’re welcome!

That’s my exercise plan for you for this week, increase your non-exercise movement throughout the day. If you increase your movement, your energy expenditure will add up and you might find that you’re losing your last 15 lbs a little quicker than you first planned!

Happy fidgeting! Talk to you soon!


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exercise plan

Workout plan #2: Got a Stair?

Estimated time: You Decide (15 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins)

As I have been thinking through some of the many workout ideas I could share with you, I really wanted to show you how you can get an amazing workout without any equipment that you don’t already have (especially given the current COVID environment when your gym might be closed or you prefer working out at home still). I’ve chosen the one thing that you, for sure, have in your home or at the park: a step of some sort. This may look different for everyone. Some of you might be able to use the stairs in your home. You may choose to use a kitchen chair, step stool, front porch, couch seat, playground stairs, park bench, or a combination of these.

This total body workout is a circuit style program which promises to get your heart rate up while also helping to strengthen your muscles. This is the type of workout that revs up your metabolism, and in turn helps to burn unwanted fat. There are 10 exercises in the circuit. You’ll perform each exercise consecutively until you’ve made it through the whole list. Perform each exercise for 45-60 seconds with 15-30 seconds of rest in between. If you’re a beginner, then one time through might feel like plenty. If you’re further advanced, see if you can make it through the whole circuit three if not four times. Be sure to take a short rest period of two minutes, each time, before starting the circuit again.

Have fun with it! Blast your favorite tunes that make you want to move! My favorites: “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes and Ryan Tedder, “Drop That” by Jacob Plant, and “Whatever it Takes” by Imagine Dragons, (who am I kidding?! almost everything by One Republic and Imagine Dragons!).

Alright, here’s the workout:

Stair/Step circuit:

Begin with a brisk 5 minute walk or jog up and down the stairs.

I want to be working out where she is!

(One of these days I’ll start making my own videos of these exercises, but until then, this will have to do…)

And there you have it! Do this workout two or three times during the week, and work in some cardio the other days! Let me know if you completed this workout, and which exercise you loved (or hated) the most (If I were an emoji person, I’d insert a “winky face” here)!

Talk to you soon!

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