Week 4

How was your week? This week was rough over here! We got hit with a toddler cold and several nights of being awake more than asleep. Maura also caught on to me getting up at 6 to try and get some time to myself, and promptly moved her own wake time to 5:45…. She also decided on several days that she didn’t need a nap. Long. Week. We did get in a hike outside though and fresh air sure felt good!

I tried a new video format, and failed. I did a full length video, instead of the sample exercises. It was awkward, but more awkward when I realized that the video camera moved about half way through the video and the second half cut off my head…. I didn’t re-film it, but will try again next week. So I apologize for the no videos this week. For now though – here are this weeks workouts.

Workout #1

Alternate between the two exercises listed together for a total of 2-3 sets of each

Steps ups (alternating feet for 1 minute) 10 squats

Side Steps (10 each direction)

Single Leg Balance (30 sec. each side)

If you don’t have a resistance band loop, you can place both feet on a regular band, grip the ends tightly, and create resistance that way. Replace with Clamshells if needed.

Goodmornings

Lateral arm raises

You can do the lateral arm raises with your elbow bent at 90 degrees to take pressure off of your shoulders if necessary.

Incline Push-ups

Super (wo)men

For super(wo)men, lay facedown – exhale and lift your shoulders/arms, legs off of the ground a couple of inches.

Incline Bridge

Alternate arm & leg Dead Bugs

Laying on your back, bring the opposite arm and leg towards one another, repeat with the other arm and leg. By keeping your head and one foot on the ground at all times a significant amount of pressure is taken off of the abs.

 

 

Workout #2

Alternate doing 10 of each exercise on the right side, then the left.

Repeat for 3 sets.

  • Stationary Lunges
  • Side plank with leg raise – Resting on your right side, lift up onto your right elbow and knee. Raise your left leg, lower, repeat 10 times. Repeat on left side with right leg.
  • Bicep curls
  • Overhead press
  • Tricep extensions
  • Glute bridges with single leg extensions
  • Alternate between incline Push-ups and Knee to Elbows.

 

 

Workout #3

Alternate between the two exercises listed together for a total of 2-3 sets

Narrow Stance Squats

Stability Ball Knee Raises

Squat: Keeping feet touching, or a few inches apart – perform a squat. This shifts our center of gravity and slightly changes the muscles worked, challenges our balance, and can be more comfortable for postpartum women.

Knee Raises: Sit tall on a stability ball or soft surface with legs bent at 90degrees and feet on the floor. Slowly raise one knee up several inches (keeping knee bent) and lower back to the ground. Alternate between knees. The goal is to keep your torso and hips from shifting weight. This is often more mentally challenging than physically – but is in fact working your deepest stabilizing muscles.

Tricep Dips

Incline Push Ups

Bent Over Row

Upright Row

Upright row: Standing with feet hips width apart. Hold weight in both hands in front of you. Keeping the weight close to your body, raise it up towards your chest, lower, repeat.
Clam Shells
Bird Dogs with Knees to Elbow You can combine these instead of alternating between. Hold the extended position 2-3 seconds and then immediately bring your elbow and knee towards one another before extending back out. Do all 10 on one side before switching to the other arm and leg.

Feel free to ask questions if they aren’t as clear without the videos!

New “Smile”….. !?

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Exercise 101

Taking things a step back with this post. What do you need to know in order to start exercising? Sure you can Google programs, and find all sorts of exercises online – but is what you find what your body needs? Is it good for you? or could it even be harmful?

Here are the basics:

Cardiovascular exercise – (Activity that gets you out of breath)

The basic physical activity recommendations are a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or about 30 minutes 5 days a week. At a moderate intensity of exercise, you should feel yourself breathing more rapidly but be able to carry on a conversation. Alternatively, you could do 75 minutes of more vigorous intensity exercise per week – in which it becomes more difficult to carry on conversation. Spreading this time over at least 3 days a week reduces likeliness of injury and makes meeting the goal more manageable. Up to 300 minutes of moderate, and up to 150 minutes of vigorous activity are recommended for further benefits, including weight loss.

If these numbers seem daunting, any activity bout of 10 minutes or more count towards your daily total. This means if you briskly walk 15 minutes to work, and 15 minutes home – you’ve hit 30 minutes for the day. Although these are the minimum level of activity recommended for health benefits, they also make a great goal to work towards for many people.

Resistance Exercise – (Strengthening muscles)

It is recommended to work all major muscle groups of the body at least 2 times a week, with at least 48 hours of rest between sessions to allow for adequate recovery. I underlined that rest requirement because I cringe every time I see a 100 squats every day challenge make the rounds on social media. A workout breaks down the fibers in your muscles. When you rest, they repair those fibers to be stronger than before. By letting your muscles get their 48 hours of recover, you let them re-build before tearing them up again. Do an every other day squat challenge, you’ll probably get more out of it!

Generally speaking, the major muscle groups include: Legs (quads and hamstrings), Hips, Glutes (butt), Back (upper and lower), Abs, Chest, Shoulders, and Arms (biceps and triceps)

Warm Ups and Cool Downs

The goal of a warm up is to prevent injury, and to ‘wake up’ the body for higher intensity work. It’s essentially a transition from resting to working. You want your warm up to be workout specific. A slow jog or a brisk walk can warm you up adequately for a run. A jog however is not going to warm you up to lift weights (although many trainers still recommend a cardio warm up before lifting it really isn’t doing much other than contributing to the cardio accumulation). A good warm up for weight lifting would be moving your body through the motion of the coming up lift with a light weight, (or no weight if you’re lifting lighter weights to begin). If you’re a competitive athlete, or preparing to perform at a maximum capacity more consideration needs to be taken for the warm up – but for the newbie – keep it simple, and related.

The purpose of a cool down is to ease you back to rest. Typically ‘walking it off’ or ‘shaking it out’ is enough for us.

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Little Yogi getting in her stretches! (Highly recommend ‘Once Upon a Mat’ for toddler yoga!)

Flexibility

The flexibility aspect of fitness tends to get tossed aside. It does have it’s benefits though, one being reducing the likeliness of injury. Stretches should be help for 30-60 seconds in order to increase flexibility. Aim to stretch 2-3 times a week, or include it as part of your post-workout routine while your muscles are nice and warm.

If anyone has any other questions I missed PLEASE feel free to ask! Leave a comment, email, text… I’m happy to answer!

Week 3

Hope you had a chance to read: The Real Reasons Your Not Working Out posted this week. It’s impossible to get and stay motivated if we don’t acknowledge what’s preventing us from moving forward!

Updates: I’ve been working on some video editing, trying to chose an editing program. The future videos (hopefully by next week) will have text to help you identify the exercises.

Work out #1: Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise.

  • Reverse Lunges
  • Lateral leg lifts
  • Bridge hold with alternating leg extensions
  • Bridges
  • Chest Press
  • Tricep Extension – Lay on your back, knees bent. Keeping elbows facing the ceiling, bend your elbows lowering the weight towards your face, then extend back towards ceiling. This is my favorite position to do tricep extensions in.
  • Pull Overs – Laying in the same position, straighten your arms out above your head. Raise the weight (keeping arms straight) towards the ceiling, lower back down.
  • Super (wo)men/Back extension – Laying on your stomach, raise your shoulders/arms, legs off the ground a few inches. Hold 2-3 seconds, release and repeat.
  • Squat with Overhead press – Squat down holding weight, at the top of your squat push your weight into an overhead press. Bring weight back to shoulder or chest level, then squat down again.

Video Link

Work out #2: Alternate between grouped exercises until 3 sets of 10 repetitions have been completed. Move onto next set. If an exercise is listed alone, rest for 30 seconds – 1 minute between sets.

  • Squat, Lateral Lunge, Goodmornings
  • Seated Row, Alternating Over Head Press, Tricep Extension – Alternate between the right and left arm for alternating exercises – this adds in stability and core work)
  • Lateral Arm Raises (with bent elbow), Side Bends
  • Side plank leg lifts – Laying on your side, lift onto one elbow and one knee. Raise top leg and lower, repeat. Do 10 repetitions and switch to other side. Clam shells can be done instead.
  • Single Leg Bridges
  • Elbow to Knee

Video Link

Work out #3:

  • 4 rounds of 360* lunges – Lunge forward with right leg, laterally with right leg, backwards with right leg, backwards with left leg, laterally with left, and finally forward with left.
  • 10 Squats
  • 4 more rounds of 360* lunges

Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions for the rest of the exercises.

  • Lateral leg lifts
  • Bent over alternating row  – Legs hip width apart, hinge at the hips. Alternate between pulling the weight up to ribs with right arm, then left arm. This also works the deepest core muscles needed to stabilize your spine. *If you have ANY back pain doing this, STOP and stagger your feet or use a bench for support.
  • Alternating Chest Press – Laying down on your back, weight in each hand lift one arm straight up, lower, repeat on other side. Focus on controlled motions and try to keep your hips from rocking side to side.
  • Alternating Tricep Extensions
  • Alternating Bicep curls
  • Opposite arm to leg/Deadbugs
  • Incline Bridges (not shown in video)
  • 30 second plank – On toes and elbows, hold your body firm and straight. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Focus on breathing. Watch for any coning of the stomach. For a modified version, use knees and elbows, or the wall. (not shown in video)

Video Link

The real reasons you’re not working out.

The #NoExcuse hashtag gets thrown around a lot on social media. It drives me crazy for a couple reasons. The first being that the term ‘excuse’ implies wrong doing. Part of the definition is actually “attempt to lessen the blame attached to a fault or offense.” You are not at fault, for missing a work out. I don’t need any more guilt over here (mom guilt is crazy), and neither do you. You don’t need an excuse when you choose not to work out. There are plenty of GOOD REASONS to skip a workout – not the motivation you were looking for? Well, there are also a lot of not so good reasons, and reasons that seem to come up too frequently to achieve your goals, even reasons that disguise themselves as other reasons. Let’s talk about all of these, how to differentiate them, and overcome them so that you DO your workouts (or eat healthy, quit smoking, whatever behavior you want to be doing but for some reason aren’t).

Good Reasons to Skip a Work Out

  • Injury – If you are injured, follow your doctors orders first! Your goal is to heal. You may however, be able to do alternative exercises that do not effect the injury – let your doctor or athletic trainer make that call.
  • Illness – Depending on the severity of the illness and the intensity of the workout. If you’re sick, it’s often best to rest and let your energy go into recovering.
  • Tired – This might get eye rolls from a lot of the other fitness professionals, but in reality if you are tired, your body isn’t going to get the same benefits from exercise. Many of us have the option to sleep more and therefore remove this from our ‘Reasons to Opt Out’ list, others such as new moms, don’t have that option. New moms – you have my permission to skip a workout for a nap, your babe will sleep through the night eventually and then you can take this off your list too.

Not so Good Reasons – These reasons might be true, but if they are being used frequently, and/or stopping you from achieving your goals then they are problematic. Luckily, most of these can be addressed.

  • Tired – Yes, I said being tired is a good reason above, however if a few tweaks to your routine can get you the sleep you need in order to exercise – do it. Turn off the TV, turn off the phone, go. to. bed.
  • I can’t afford a gym membership/fitness classes/fancy shoes etc. – You don’t need a gym or fancy anything to be active. You just need to move your body. There are numerous free options – neighborhood walk, mall walk, free running clubs, youtube videos, workout dvds from the library. Yes, your options for exercise may be limited by finances but the opportunity is not eliminated.
  • Bad weather – I live in Upstate New York. I know that weather can be brutal. Can you swap your outside run for a dvd? Swap your lift and run days? Invest in better clothing? Choose a cold weather hobby like skiing or snow shoeing? Walk the mall? Go to the gym?
  • I don’t know what I’m doing – Start small. Move your body. Keep reading Mauras_Fit_Mama, haha. I agree, researching exercise for a newbie can be overwhelming, but there are many workout plans for beginners out there. Start your research and start a little at a time.
  • No time – I did this one last on purpose. This is the most common reason I hear as a trainer, and also the reason people are most stubborn in letting go. First – pay attention to how you spend your time throughout the day. Sometimes a quick social media check turns into 20 minutes, or a TV show turns into a few more. Could you get yourself to bed earlier, wake up earlier and workout? Could you do your squats while making a tower out of blocks with your toddler? The busier you are, the more creative you might need to be.

Real Reasons Disguising Themselves as Other Reasons
There are a lot of people who continually use the above reasons to not exercise, despite knowing how to work around them. If this is you, dig a little deeper. Usually the REAL reason for not doing something is more simple, but we aren’t ready to admit that “I don’t want to, it’s not enjoyable” “I’d rather…XYZ”, or “it’s too hard.” The first step in finding your motivation is to be honest with yourself. What are your REAL reasons for skipping a workout.

Once we admit “I don’t like running” we open ourselves up to try hiking, biking, walking, or swimming. Once we admit “This is too hard.” We can simplify our goals and do something more skill appropriate. Once we admit “I’d rather go to happy hour with my friends” We can consider finding a consistent work out buddy or group that fills the same social need. Don’t feel guilty. Once we acknowledge and accept the real reasons behind our choices, we can come up with a plan that doesn’t just help us exercise, but makes us WANT to exercise.

 

Week 2

I hope you guys enjoyed the first week! If you’re checking in now for the first time, here’s a link back to Week 1. There was also a Mid-Week Motivation post on Wednesday, make sure to check it out if you missed it. I’d love to hear every one else’s goals too!

Updates: I’ve created a Facebook page exclusively for Maura’s Fit Mama. I’ll be sending out an invite to follow, and link all of my blog posts there instead of my personal page.

Equipment options for this week: Dumbbell(s), resistance band, Resistance band loop, heavyish household items, Step, Stair, Box.

Workout #1:

3×10 of the following exercises. Alternate between two exercises for a quicker paced workout.

  • Step Ups– Using a stair or low bench (or even a box of old text books), step up, step down, repeat for 10 on each leg. Keeps your hips even and facing forward. Twisting or dragging can indicate pelvic instability.
  • Bridges (optional incline) – Placing your feet on a step will add difficulty to last weeks bridges. If last week felt tough, there’s no need for an incline yet.
  • Clamshells
  • Inclined push-ups
  • Tricep dips– With hands on the edge of a step (or chair), lower yourself off of the edge towards the ground by bending elbows. If you feel any shoulder pain stop & do a different Tricep exercise. You can vary the weight by using your legs.
  • Upright Row– Stand tall, legs hip width apart. Hold weight with both hands, pull weight straight up to chest, and return down.
  • Overhead press– video shows a seated version.
  • Side bends- Stand with legs hip width apart. Hold weight in one hand down at your side. Slowly bend towards the weight, straighten back up. This can be done with your back flat against a wall if you have the tendency to twist forward.
  • Heal slides– Laying on your back, knees bent with feet on the floor, slide one leg out straight and slowly slide it back, switch legs. Brace your core to keep your hips stable. This is a diastasis recti safe ab workout and often included in healing programs. That being said, it’s still important to monitor yourself for doming.

Demonstration video here!

Workout #2:

3×10:

  • Reverse Lunges– Similar to a standard lunge except you step backwards into a lung position. This version is actually easier on the knees and easier to maintain good form.
  • Side Steps with band OR lateral leg lifts without band- If you have a Resistance band loop, this is one of my favorites. Place band around ankles (or knees for easier version), step side to side.
  • Bent over row with Tricep extension– Start with staggered feet and a bent over stance. Raise the weight towards your ribs (like the bent row), but straighten your arm out behind you (Tricep extension) before lowering.
  • Bicep curl
  • Chest press or Push-ups
  • Bridge holds (3x up to 30seconds)- Same bridge position, but instead of raising and lowering, you hold the raised position. Work towards 3x30seconds.
  • Bird dogs
  • Knee to Elbows- While on hands and knees, reach arm and opposite leg out like you’re doing bird dog. Instead of lowering them back to the ground you’re going to tuck your elbow and knee towards each other under your belly. Repeat 10 with same arm and leg, then switch. Exhale and engage your core on the tuck.

Demonstration video here!

Workout #3:

3×10:

  • Squats
  • Goodmornings
  • Bent over fly
  • Lateral arm raises
  • Incline push ups or chest press
  • Side bends
  • Incline bridges
  • Clam shells
  • Heal slides
  • Up, up, down downs
  • (Optional) Opposite arm to leg- While laying on your back, bring one leg up towards opposite hand. Exhale to lower, repeat on other side. Keeping one leg bent and on floor, and keeping your upper body on floor relieves pressure on both DR and the pelvic floor. If you do notice doming, or it feels too hard- stop.

Demonstration video here!

In other news, my new (treadmill) baby arrived! I’ve never been a treadmill fan, but getting out for long walks and runs has gotten more difficult! Now I can slip cardio in anytime.
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Mid-week Motivation

Like every January, I’m sure you’re noticing all of the magazines, infomercials, Facebook ads trying to motivate you to get fit by showing you (edited) images of women with flat/toned stomachs and lean arms. Pretty good chance she’s seductively hanging out in a bikini or sports bra? Does she have smooth skin, no stretch marks, despite claiming she lost 90 pounds? And I bet she has bright white teeth sparkling through her incredibly happy smile!

The message this type of image sends is “I need to look like that, and then I’ll be happy.” “I need to lose xx pounds and have toned muscles, then I’ll be happy with my body.”

Here’s just a few (of many) things wrong with this idea:

  • These images are extensively edited.
  • Many thin/fit women are NOT happy.
  • It prevents us from letting ourselves be happy now.

Exercising for aesthetic reasons only, with hoping to achieve a transient goal is setting ourselves up for failure. The extreme outcomes being we quit completely, maybe try something else in a few weeks (yo-yo), or get stuck on a spiral of exercise more and more, eat less and less trying to chase the happiness.

Whether you find yourself in that trap or not- Take a few minutes and really think about your goals and reasons behind them. I can go more into goal setting another day, but I don’t think it needs to be as complicated as it’s often described.

Here are both my long term and short term/immediate reasons for working out:

  • Maintain an active lifestyle in order to set a positive example for my daughter.
  • Set my body up to handle the physical stress of another pregnancy/child birth if that’s in our cards.
  • Strengthen my core to be able to lift and hold my 30lb child without injuring myself.
  • Keep my cardio up enough to hike and see beautiful places without gasping for air (we love to hike, especially when we travel).

My more immediate reasons to work-out… and these are the key to my motivation:

  • I enjoy how it feels to move my body. If something does not feel good, I stop and choose something that does.
  • I want/need 20 minutes of ‘me-time’ to relax and recharge my brain. Actually I want 3+ hours, but let’s keep this realistic…

I think the biggest key in getting and keeping yourself motivated is to know what you’re trying to achieve, and find a way to truly enjoy the process.

Week 1

My intention for the first week is to keep it simple. It’s nice to start out with a straight forward work out that covers the basics. These are also great to fall back on when you need something that requires little planning, time, space, or equipment. Perfect for kids nap time, when you’re traveling, or working out just isn’t how you feel like spending your day….

For most people resistance/weight training 2-3 days a week is ideal. Two days a week is the minimum to see any progress, four or more requires careful planning in order to allow muscles to recover. I plan for 3 days (with a day or two off in between) so if I happen to miss a day, I don’t lose what I’ve accomplished.

In terms of cardio, unless you’re training for a specific sport or event, 30 minutes of moderate activity 4-5 days a week is enough to contribute to heart health. If your goal is weight loss, you should strive for closer to 60 minutes daily. I haven’t included specific cardio into this weeks plan. Plan in your own brisk walks, elliptical sessions, dance videos, or whatever activities you enjoy that gets your heart rate going!

Equipment options: Dumbbell(s), resistance band, heavyish household items.

Work out #1:

Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions for all exercises. If something feels like too much, stick is 2 sets and make it a goal to eventually accomplish 3.

For a quicker paced work out, alternate between 2-3 exercises. Example: 10 squats, 10 good mornings, 10 squats… etc.

3×10:

  • Body weight Squats
  • Good Mornings – With knees slightly bent, hinge at the hips keeping back flat. If this is a new exercise, let your body learn the motion without added weight this week.
  • Inclined Push-ups – Place hands on an elevated surface to reduce the load of a standard push up. Examples: A wall, table, bench. If form is good, progress to the floor. Postpartum moms*** watch your belly for any ‘doming’ or ‘coning’ these are signs of diastatis recti, you’ll need to increase the incline until you’re healed.
  • Bent over Row- With staggered feet, lean forward (can use knee or bench for support), with weight in hand of back leg- bring elbow up and weight to ribs.
  • Overhead Tricep Extensions – keep elbows still above your head as you extend and bend your arms. Can be done one arm at a time, or together. *Exercises that lift overhead can cause pelvic floor pressure- if you feel anything off this can be done seated.
  • Glute Bridges- Laying on your back, knees bent, feet on floor- raise your hips until your torso is flat. If you’re feeling it more in your hamstrings try digging in with your heals. Keep hip bones even.
  • Clam Shells- Laying on side with knees bent, with heals together and elevated several inches from the ground- lift upper knee, return down.
  • Ab Marches (or ‘Up, up, down, downs)- Laying on back, knees bent, feet down- alternate lifting your knees bringing your shin parallel to the ground. The next level is to lift one knee (up), then the other (up), return the first down, then the other down. As with the push ups watch for any doming! Also, if you are holding breath, or arching your back it’s too difficult.
  • 2×10 Knee Squeezes 5 seconds- (not shown in video) – Sit on a hard surface and squeeze a pillow or ball between your knees. Hold for 5 seconds, rest 5 seconds repeat.

Here’s an awkward video of me doing each exercise in order for about 4 repetitions each. Both Ab options are shown.

Work out #2: (3 sets of 10 unless noted)

  • Lunges – Step one front out in front of you while lowering the knee of your back leg down, step back. You can alternate legs or do all 10 on one then the other. A more stable alternative is to step out & lunge but instead of stepping back keep your feet in that position but raise yourself by straightening your legs. Many postpartum moms have pelvic instability for months and this variation can help.
  • Good mornings
  • Lateral leg lifts- Stand on one foot and raise other leg slowly out to the side about 45 degrees
  • Overhead press- Starting with weights at shoulder height, raise them overhead. Can do together, or one side at a time.
  • Bent over Tricep extensions- Stand with staggered legs, lean forward. Straighten arm behind you, hinging at elbow.
  • Bent over Row
  • 2×10 Bird dogs (hold for 5 seconds)- Begin on hands and knees with a flat back and neutral neck. Raise one arm out in front of you and the opposite leg straight behind you, hold 5 seconds, switch arms and legs. Focus on keeping your back flat and core very still.
  • Glute bridges (harder variations include holding hips up and alternately extending each leg, or doing them with a single leg… both variations shown in awkward video below)
  • Ab marches (or up, up, down, downs)

Awkward video #2. Ignore me checking notes between exercises.

Before doing the 3rd workout, assess your body. I started including more difficult variations of exercises and the option to use weights- that doesn’t mean your body is ready for more challenge! While teaching Bootcamp I saw far too many people lose form trying to do exercises that were too difficult. You’ll benefit more from controlled movements and a lighter load than straining.

Work out #3: (3 sets of 10 unless otherwise noted)

  • Squats (optional weight added)
  • Side/lateral lunges each leg
  • Incline push up
  • Reverse Fly- With knees slightly bent, lean forward, pull elbows up/out to the sides
  • Bicep curls – Can be done seated to alleviate pressure on the pelvic floor or back.
  • Lateral arm raises- Stand tall, raise arms out to the side. – Also can be done seated.
  • Glute Bridges (variation of your choice)
  • Clam shells
  • Ab march, up-ups, or bicycles
  • 2×10 Knee squeezes (5 sec)

Awkward video #3. I used an exercise band in this demo but dumbbells or even cans of food/heavyish household items could be used!

There you have it! Let me know how it goes.

All weather cyclist.